Friday, November 29, 2013

Skyler's Real Scoop: Update on Fixing my Pup

My fun-loving dog, my companion, my playmate
By Cal Orey

Post-neutering an Aussie is a challenge. One cone/sedatives and 8 days left of healing. Pup sleeps on treadmill by crackling fire. The surgery is easy; it's the aftermath if you have an energetic Type A dog that makes it not a walk in the park. But soon, we will be doing our long walks and smiling again... Just 8 more long days. My baby boy sleeps and dreams of smiling, running once again as he did before. I can feel his pain. I'm sorry. I will make it up to you. One more thing: That cute blue donut cone? Skye shredded it in one day. All gone. Read: It does not do the job, nor does saying, "Don't chase the cat!" or "Stop playing with the dog."  Sorry, it's the real deal. Dogs just want to have fun!
Hours later the dreaded cone was removed! Healed.

* * *
Tomorrow morning at 7:30 A.M., my one-year-old Aussie pup Skye will arrive at the vet's to be de-sexed.  As a human, I've been here before but this time around I'm a bit anxious. My baby boy is going to be n-e-u-t-e-r-e-d. I didn't have the heart to tell him...

...I did purchase a cool collar so he looks like a handsome canine character straight out of Titantic (he will live, though). And, of course, I gave it a test run and told him he looked like a big bold lion. He believed me and adapted.
2 1/2 months old, Feb. 2012
This is so cute and works
Skye's B-Day
December 1, Sunday is his birthday, I vow to get him toys: new balls (oops, a Freudian slip), new bone, new Kong toy--whatever he wants. It's his. Uh oh, I'm having neutering remorse. After all, he comes from an excellent line, congenital testing has been done with parents...Skyler would be a more than doable stud matter. Tomorrow, snip. Done.

Okay. Let's be practical. This operation is easy. I've been there with three Brittanys. I can do this; he can do this. It's not a big deal. We have a young, healthy, strong boy! My vet has been with us for more than a decade. No worries. 


Skyler's mom and dad would be proud of him. He's got his mother's markings; his father's smile and vibe. I sense they understand that this operation is for his health, happiness, and to ensure a long, quality life...

Meanwhile, my boy sleeps next to the fireplace. I will make him fires next week if the sierra temps drop. He's looking at me. I wonder if he senses I know that he knows what's happening tomorrow. No matter. It will be done. We will survive. I hope he doesn't give me the silent treatment. I realize now that I have given my heart to another dog. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey Talk...'Tis the Season

By Cal Orey
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I'm feeling it, sort of. Instead of following tradition and cooking up a big bird with all the trimmings, I've ditched the deal.  Cranberry Orange-Nut Bread, salads, homemade fries, fresh fruits are on my rebellion menu.  I'm going to enjoy being incognito (the tourists like Stephen King's Langoliers are arriving) for the peace of it all...

Peaceful Day
Yeah, I'd love to wake up and go for a swim but I'm sensing the resort pool will have too many intense human fish in it's walking the dogs and eyeing the treadmill. Part of Thursday I'll get the endorphin high by raking the pine leaves and cones (still dropping), sweeping the deck (the dusting of snow is gone), and organizing for the season of discontent--winter. But on the upside, no snow as I forecasted.

Here Comes Winter
There is an art of coping with colder temps, shorter days, longer nights. I've penned many articles on SAD that I should be a pro on this challenge. So, more tips to deal include green plants, nutrient-dense soups, casseroles, breads, muffins, and drink water, water, water. A thicker comforter on the bed and recycling framed artwork (winter landscapes) and help prepare for the inevitable.  Not to forget to get a move on indoors and outdoors (and sneak a swim/hot tub when the tourists are AWOL during the early morning hours).
Snow-loving sibling doesn't like my no powder forecast

Today is a Writing Day
As I continue working on the 2nd edition of OLIVE OIL, going to input a new chapter and add more stuff that I've discovered and am loving it, wanting to share it all. The pantry is full of goods that are special and newsy that readers will find out about sooner than later...and I'm thrilled. I feel like I've entered Olive Oil Land (again), kind of like going back to a film that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Speaking of fuzzy...

Critter Care
...On Saturday morning, very early, my baby boy Aussie will be facing the neuter. I suppose the cone is the most challenging part of this ordeal but we will survive. I've grown so fond of this pooch even though he chases my Siamese (but fearless Zen keeps coming back for more) so all is good.

Tourist Time
No, it isn't my fave thing to see tourists invade our stores, dog walking grounds, vacation houses, resorts, roads, and life in the mountains. So, it's a time to be a recluse and pretend it's all a dream that will pass. Cable films, inputting prose into the book, pampering the body, mind, and spirit--and making the first fire of the season will get me through this upcoming holiday.

 Friends, Family and Souls in Need
During a time of age when friends, some gone and family, some faraway, are on my mind I will try and connect and show my care and concern. Plus, as an intuitive I will be on the phone working the networks for those gentle souls who need a bit of chicken soup-type comfort to lessen the anxiety of life's uncertainty. I will be here feeling good because I saved a turkey and will my be the human behind my pup who loses his manhood... but will be a healthier, happier, well-adjusted dog. Well, I did my part and won't have turkey heartburn and a muffin top! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


By Cal Orey

Today, I'm feeling pre-winter is in the air. Sure, yesterday I swam at 7:30 A.M., and it was bliss but...the good hot tub was down. That is a sign the resort is getting ready for the snowbound fun-loving tourists come wintertime. Personally, I'd rather have it not working than to have it fixed because that will mean winter has arrived--and autumn, my friend, will be gone but there will be two dog nights...and dog-like indoor kitty Zen gets me. We agree. We do not love Old Man Winter. 

Here Comes the Rain/Snow...
Weather Forecast for Dec? Rain, Rain, Rain!
Nope, I haven't broke down as of yet to make a fire. But I admit there was a day of weakness, yesterday...and today I noticed temps this weekend will plummet to the low teens, like 12 degrees. Is it fire yet? Almost. But if I jump on the fireplace bandwagon it will be confirmed--winter is almost here.

After the swim, I bathed Simon, my senior pooch. I promised him I'd do it. At 10 1/2 years old he's so happy after getting a shampoo and dry. Fluffy Brittany ran crazy indoors, outdoors, played with his pup sidekick, and well, you could tell he felt good about himself and his coat.

The Olive Oil Book
The good news, I'm on track. More than half of the book is input. And I have until January 15 to complete my work. So today, will be a semi- writing day, time for including some easier details. Then, I dive into the real creative prose part again--the stuff authors love to do, getting to the meat of it all. 

Honey, is that you?  That question is a reminder that a package from a honey company will be arriving. More baking and cooking for me!  Taking a break is warranted after the Pumpkin Squares and Coconut Custard...Writing food columns and books is a sure-fire way to not want to weigh in unless you take time off, eat less, walk the dogs more and stay out of the kitchen!

The Fireplace--Hot and Cold
Yesterday I dusted off the fireplace screen and brought in wood. Tomorrow, thank you Scarlett!, I will clean the inside--I peeked. It's not too bad. Last year the chimney cleaner man who wears a tall hat and looks like that funny cricket Disney character did the deed.  But I can't decide if he should do it again. The majority of folks I asked about this chore said I'm good to go because I didn't burn that much wood last winter. Blame it on global warming.

It's no secret. The deal is, wintertime isn't my fave season. But I've learned how to try and pretend it's not really happening. Lots of good lighting, cozy throws, fires, baking and cooking, tea, quality flavored coffee, and dark gourmet chocolate are the things that can make colder days feel warmer and brighter.  Sort of...

...Let's get real.  I have a big calendar. I  check off each day, one by one, until it's spring. My mantra is "Spring"... Some snow days, I try and go with the program: Make coffee, let dogs out, make a fire, shovel snow, walk in snow, and do the treadmill (my resort pool/spa is invaded with tourists), shovel snow. On the upside, we will probably not get buried in the white stuff but on the downside there will be flooding in December, black ice through wintertime, and maybe one of those power outages that I love the first day and loathe any time after that. So, no it won't be a Donner Lake event but it is the season of discontent for me.  I can do this... What day does Spring arrive?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Ate the Ginger Snap--Paying the Price

By Cal Orey

The Cookie Incident
Today, was a challenging one. This morning I awoke to what was going to be a busy, productive day. On my agenda was to bake a batch of Pumpkin Pie Squares with crushed ginger snaps for a crunch--to be inserted in the book, 2nd edition of The Healing Powers of Olive Oil. In the morning, I grabbed a cookie and in a heartbeat--that first bittersweet bite was a sobering experience. Not only was the treat rock-hard, it felt like I either cracked or broke a filling in my upper right back molar. Emergency sighting!

Where's the Woe? Into the bathroom, and on went the light as I scrutinized the back tooth--one I've never had problems with since I the 20th century. It does have a historical filling. Back in the day, when I was young and ambitious, I was studying to be a dental assistant. But my sensitive nature didn't mesh with the patients' ordeals. As an intern on the job, one day I couldn't deal with a man coping with a difficult root canal. As an empath I cried. No laughing matter. The dentist ordered his chair side assistant to exterminate me--the wuss. And that was the end of my short career.

Back to the back molar of the day. I couldn't tell if the silver filling was cracked. Often the human eye cannot see a crevice, anyhow. So, I gave up my search. I flossed. I brushed. I flossed. I was on a mission to find the problem. Nothing. But the upper molar throbbed. A call to my dentist was next. At 4:00 P.M. I was scheduled to see the damage done from the cookie.

What If? And the day dragged on with "what if" even though I know most "what if's" never happen. I thought, "What if I cracked the tooth and it has to be extracted...I'll be hooked up to blood pressure monitors like the dying creature in that "E.T." film" or "What if I have to get a crown--or worse, a root canal and images of the grown man in pain haunted me." I had my what ifs all lined up in a row so by the time I arrived at the dentist office--I was ready for the grueling news. Bring it on. 

First, I showed my upper tooth to the nurturing dental assistant. Passed the test. She saw nothing but a molar. My gut instincts told me my tooth was most likely going to be saved. When the x-ray came back, I looked at it--all angels good. And the dental exam? The tooth lives!  I, of course, traumatized it even more with my studying the pain of it all. But that's not the end of the story...

No Tooth Fairy Needed. I did have my teeth cleaned about a month ago. I passed on the dental exam because all was good. Not so much. One dentist's look later: A leaky filling and a small cavity in two good teeth. Gosh, I haven't had a dental hole for years and years. So, on the upside--the ginger snap didn't get us (only temporarily, thank to a bruise, most likely). The downside: We're looking at a probable crown and a small filling. Booked for December before Christmas--my health gift to me.  So much for that trip to Europe. But hey, my Aussie pup will still be neutered (and his upper back molars will be scaled a bit to keep the tartar off and stay on top of doggie dental care) despite the untimely expense of my ginger snap day. For the record, I will be making my own chewy ginger snaps fit for people of all ages.

Motto: Do not eat dog biscuit-type store bought ginger snaps or you'll pay the price!

P.S. I did call the maker of the ginger snap. Strangely, the rep told me they do have a "dental policy" for hard cookie incidents, like this one. So, en route is a package for me to send them the culprit. The researchers will analyze the cookie "specimen". Then, I will be notified. I admit that I recommended that their recipe needs a re-do. And after doing a quick search on the Net, I discovered I am hardly alone. Others have eaten these ginger snaps with too much snap and speculate the recipe has been changed. I wish I hadn't eaten the one tough cookie. But I did.  (Day 2. The cookie tooth still throbs!)

UPDATE: Cookie company sent form to fill out about the tooth the cookie got...Will submit.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mid-Fall is in the Air

By Cal Orey

In the Mountains...

Cozy with the Critters  
 Image courtesy of 

Today, at Lake Tahoe the weather seemed a bit off--cloudy, hazy due to the prescribed fires. We're having warm days, cold nights as I forecasted in late October. It's in the 60s during the days...and while the temperature drops to the 20s at night--it's still not cold enough to make the first fire of the season. Stoking a crackling fire, and feeling its warmth and ambiance while cuddled up in the waterbed, working in my study, or baking in the kitchen is on my mind more. Getting closer to the seasonal change.  I did see smoke billowing from the neighbor's chimney.  But I have two dogs, and a cat to keep me warm at night during mid-fall...

This afternoon I got my hair done (a belated birthday gift). I suppose it would be easier to let it go gray, and be an all-natural mountain woman--but for some reason I don't think it would be me, a fussy Libra. I couldn't decide (another air sign trait) blonde or red highlights (as a kid I was blonde, teen reddish brown highlights). It turns out my updated locks match both my male canine companions. (Yes, it was a conscious act. We are a happy pack.) 

Looking at the animal-human bond I have developed with my almost one-year old Aussie pup and 10-year-old Brittany, I realize these two boys are devoted to me as much as I am to them. I adore each of them for their myriad of traits--independent, fun-loving, strong, affectionate, protective, loyal, and sensitive. Yesterday, while running errands (dogless) I saw a tourist couple with two  Saint Bernards (like the duo in "Outbreak"--the couple's dogs). It made me feel blessed that my guys are medium size. Not too big, not too small...but together they hit about 90 pounds--25 pounds less than me. That's a lot of dog.

I recalled a tale and shared it today with my sibling. During my freewheeling, hippie hitchhiker days when I was twenty-something, I traveled with my cute and bold Maltese terrier. We were en route to Idaho. I swam in Snake River, watched the Evil dude do his stunt that fizzled, and camped outdoors under the stars. It seems long ago, a time when I was fearless, living one day at a time, not worrying about the future-enjoying adventure. I was free--a girl and her dog. No deadlines, no bills. My biggest goals were getting meals for us and finding a safe place to sleep. 

In the Kitchen...Stocking Up for Winter
Back to the present, today I put together homemade salsa for the thrill of it. (A sign of an aging woman.) Tomorrow it will be autumn-type pumpkin squares: a new pie crust, fresh ginger, cookie crumb crust. I'm looking forward to it because it's a highlight of fall. Note to self: Find more excitement.  Fall foods are on my mind. My pantry is growing and I'm bonding with Tahoe squirrels, getting prepared for 2014 winter, snowstorms...but I'm not ready for black ice, temps below zero, and shoveling the white stuff.

Tomorrow It's Back to the BOOK
I've been busy working on The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, Revised and Updated. Compiling, inputting recipes, recipes, and more recipes. And soon, it's back to the anecdotes--one of my favorite parts to create. It's one of the reasons I love to write. And this is my life in mid-fall, kind of like hump day in the middle of the week.

Finding a Delicate Balance
This time of year, it never fails. I fantasize about moving to a warm  place like New Mexico, Arizona, Florida--anywhere but here when the roads are icy and walking like a penguin is what you do for self-preservation so you don't fall and have to turn to a heating pad and ice pack. And, of course, I dream about having three cats (I did once) instead of two Type-A dogs...but I would be more sedentary, less active. So, it is what it is and I will make do by visiting my oasis--a resort pool early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
The best part of mid-fall, it's off season, and that means quietude in the mountains, morning, noon, and night.  Still, this time of year reminds me of a roller coaster ride. (I do not like amusement parks.) It's fine going uphill but knowing what happens once you go down and around with surprise twists and turns is what is spooky. Read: Old Man Winter is coming. On the upside, however, I've got firewood stacked, mittens, scarves, hat(s), sweaters, and thick leggings. Flannel sheets, pajamas with kittens and moons on 'em (no kidding), cable TV, work to do--and furry critters with warm hearts and cold noses. Mid-fall is in the air--and I'm feeling the change of pre-winter days. It's time to brew a cup of tea and go back to work on the book.