Thursday, March 31, 2022

Spring into Fresh Food & The Healing Powers of Herbs & Spices -- It's Still Hot!

    By Cal Orey

UPDATE: #Herbs & #Spices: Timeless Treasures is making its way through the news. On April 7, an article interviewing the author Cal Orey hit Huffington Post...and the piece was picked up by New York Daily, NY Daily Post, City Buzz, and even more online mags and newspapers! -- GIFT BOOK!

The new and timely release (yes, McCormick recently shared its Old Bay Seasoning is "hot"). People are still home-cooking more than ever! The reader-friendly book is now in hundreds of libraries worldwide (multiple copies, checked out); Woman's World Book Club approved Feb. 1 issue; reviewed by Booklist; 100% like it on Goodreads; major media outlet is on board carrying copies; Walmart gave it a Best Seller banner for 2 weeks; Best Seller in top 100 health books on Amazon this month; featured in magazines/newspapers...and the year is young. #9 (Series) The book that'll whisk you away!

Best Seller
    • Cal Orey
  • ISBN10: 0806540486
  • ISBN: 9780806540481
  • Format:Paperback

  • The mega-popular Healing Powers series from bestselling nutrition writer Cal Orey continues with its 9th installment, The Healing Powers of Herbs and Spices, exploring the many ways fresh herbs in your fridge and dried spices in your kitchen cupboard can provide medicinal powers, home cures, weight loss benefits, beauty treatments, and adventurous flavors and textures to enhance plant-based dishes. 

    And during the pandemic there is a spice surge because of the home-cooking comeback!
    The key to vibrant health for all generations is in your kitchen...
    Anise, bay leaf, garlic, parsley, turmeric, and more (I use a lot of the McCormick classic brand) --for thousands of years, herbs and spices have been praised for preserving and flavoring food, as well as preventing and curing illnesses. The latest research reveals that the seasonings already in your pantry--or easily found fresh in your supermarket or garden--can lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, and obesity. This A-to-Z guide catalogues the most popular and versatile herbs and spices, drawn from the Mediterranean Diet but suitable for any diet plan. You will learn how to harness herbalism to heal your body and mind.

    Discover how to use nature's gifts including allspice, chives, fennel, oregano, pepper, tarragon, saffron, and special blends like Herbes de Provence to:

    ●Bring abundant zest to your table while lowering your cholesterol, balancing your blood sugar, and revving up your metabolism--at any age!
    ●Ward off colds and flu, banish a hacking cough, and even ease PMS or menopause woes, by adding tasty plant therapy to your favorite food or drink.
    ●Lessen your anxiety and boost your mood with aromatic natural ingredients found in dried and fresh flavorings.
    ●Soothe aches and pains without harmful side effects--and trigger feel-good endorphins--using sweet and savory garnishes, including edible flowers.
    ●Create in-home spa treatments using the same herbal potions featured at luxury spa resorts.
    Caraway Breadsticks, anyone? How about Cilantro Lime Slaw, Herbal Greek Bean Soup, or Roasted Paprika Cornish Hens? With over 50 taste-tempting recipes, along with personal stories and fascinating historical anecdotes on medicinal uses dating back to biblical times, The Healing Powers of Herbs and Spices is your go-to guide to embracing limitless energy and healthy longevity while feasting on memorable meals full of aroma and deliciousness!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Healing Powers Series (Bundle 'Em for Spring)

 By Cal Orey

UPDATE: While HONEY (mass market and paperback) and VINEGAR (paperback) went back to press (again), HERBS & SPICES has made its way into hundreds of libraries worldwide; HONEY paperback/mass market format has maintained its Best Seller banner for weeks on Amazon and also currently Walmart website. Plus, ESSENTIAL OILS and SUPERFOODS went back to press for third printings. The timeless series continues to attract readers (all ages).

SWEET SPRINGTIME (Pollen will be Pesky in 2022)

Drawing on the 21st century honey buzz, bestselling author Cal Orey reveals enlightening honey home remedies, straight from the book The Healing Powers of Honey: A Complete Guide to Nature's Remarkable Nectar! (Kensington). Perfect for autumn/winter/holiday season into 2022.

Here are common health ailments from A to Z and amazing at-home honey cures. These are tried-and-true folk remedies based on scientific studies, real-life stories, medical doctors, researchers, and beekeepers. But caution, consult your health-care practitioner before putting to work any honey cure.

1 ALLERGIES (Stop seasonal misery): Dealing with annoying sneezing, a runny nose, and coughing is no picnic, thanks to seasonal pollen. But honey may come to your rescue.
What Honey Rx to Use:  Try eating a tablespoon of locally produced honey. Proponents of honey tell me that your immune system will get used to the local pollen in it (it should be within a 50-mile radius from where you live).
Why You'll Bee Happy:  By taking the honey cure, you may lose your allergy symptoms. It's worth the effort and is less pricey than a visit to the doctor or an allergist. Honey may enhance the immune system to build up a better arsenal against airborne allergens--and help you breathe easier. Honeycomb may line the entire breathing tract.

2 ANXIETY (Beat the jitters monster): When anxiety hits (often worsened by stress) you know it like when an earthquake strikes. Anxiety can wreak havoc on your nervous system and up your odds of experiencing heart disease, stress eating, and other health problems.
What Honey Rx to Use: If you're under pressure and feeling high anxiety or sense a stressful event is in the works, make a cup of chamomile tea. Put in 1 teaspoon of your favorite honey. Repeat twice a day as needed.
Why You'll Bee Happy:  Honey--all hundreds of varietals--is touted by folk medicine healers for its calming effects. The natural superfood can help sooth your nerves rather than put you in higher anxiety mode. The relief if provides may be due to its multiple vitamin B content--anti-stress vitamins.

3  COUGH (Outfox irritating hacking):  A cough is another unwelcome visitor and can make you feel terrible. Let's face it, cough medicine can be pricey, doesn't taste good, and may or may not do its job.
What Honey Rx to Use:  A teaspoon of buckwheat honey is recommended before bed. Or you can make syrup of 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Repeat each remedy as needed.
Why You'll Bee Happy:  A group of Penn State College of Medicine researchers discovered that honey may be the cure. The findings showed that buckwheat honey at bedtime was more powerful for curing a cough in children than a cough suppressant found in over-the-counter medications. It is believed that honey will act as a sedative to the nervous system.

4 ENERGY DRAIN (Beat low energy): Getting your cough under control is a good thing, but then what if your energy plummets?  Liquid gold may be the answer again.
What Honey Rx to Use: Each morning include a teaspoon of bee pollen in your breakfast. Go ahead and take it solo. Or try The Honey Association's Energy Drink recipe:  ¼ pint orange juice, ¼ pint natural yogurt, 2 tablespoons clear honey. Place all the ingredients in a liquidizer and blend until smooth. Pour into two tall glasses. Serves two people.
Why You'll Bee Happy: Honey is a source of natural unrefined sugars and carbohydrates, which are easily absorbed by the body. That means, you'll get a quick energy boost with long-lasting effects. Athletes include it in their daily diets. It was even used by runners at the Olympic Games in ancient Greece.

5 HEADACHE (Bye-bye, pain): Fatigue and headaches are not to be taken with a grain of salt, because it can hurt oh, so bad. There are different types of headaches, and some kinds may benefit from the honey bee's gift.
What Honey Rx to Use:  One cup of tea with 1 teaspoon of honey (the darker the varietal the better) is the remedy. Repeat as needed. Also, drink plenty of water and relax.
Why You'll Bee Happy:  "The way honey might work for tension headaches," says New York Headache Center's Alex Mauskop, M.D., "is by treating hypoglycemia, which can cause tension and migraines." He adds that some antioxidants can help prevent headaches, as can magnesium and vitamin B. So turning to antioxidant-rich honey may be a sweet remedy.

6 INSOMNIA  (Find sweet dreams): Getting rid of a headache is a challenge, but not getting adequate shut-eye can have long-term effects, too.
What Rx to Use: Take 1 or 2 teaspoons of your favorite honey, especially before going to bed. Try sipping a cup of 2 percent low-fat milk with a dash of cinnamon. The tryptophan in milk will help to calm you.
Why You'll Bee Happy:  It's a magic trick, according to The Honey Revolution author Ron Fessenden, M.D., providing needed glycogen to the liver so the brain doesn't go in search of extra fuel in the earl A.M. hours when you should be in Dreamland. "Consuming honey before bedtime also reduces the release of  adrenaline, a catecholamine that raises blood pressure and heart rate," adds the honey guru.

7 SORE THROAT (Take the sting away): Not sleeping is miserable, but a sore throat can drag you down, too, where don't feel like walking or talking. Honey has been used as a home for centuries to help sooth one of the symptoms associated with a common cold--namely, a killer sore throat.
What Honey Rx to Use:  For relief of symptoms, take a spoonful of your buckwheat honey, as often as you need, to relieve irritation. In between, sip a cup of tea with honey. Also, try pure honeycomb and honey sticks. Don't forget all-natural honey-lemon lozenges, which also coat the throat for quick relief.
Why You'll Bee Happy: One, honey will coat your sore throat, the symptom of the cause. Two, the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties will help heal the culprit causing your pain.
8 WAIST WHITTLER (Blast belly fat the stuff leftover from winter): Twitches to tummy bulge... if you have a bulging tummy, you'd probably consider a sore throat is easier to get rid of. But wait; there are things you can do to get a flat tummy.
What Honey Rx to Use:  Both morning and night, drink an 8-ounce glass or mug of tea (dandelion or parsley boasts diuretic effects), with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Team this potion with grazing and watch your fat and sugar intake.
Why You'll Bee Happy: Honey and apple cider vinegar contain the bloat-busting mineral potassium. Also, turning to honey will help you to eat fewer sugary treats and enjoy a flatter stomach.

          So go ahead and use the type of honey advised or your own preference; all-natural, raw honey, dark varietals are recommended for best results. (Warning: To avoid infant botulism, do not fee honey to an infant.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Healing Powers of Superfoods book Hit #1 Bestseller on Kobo Top 100 on Amazon

  By Cal Orey

*It was featured in Woman's World Magazine late last year -- a Book Club pick!

In the past, The Healing Powers of Superfoods on Kobo!

And The Healing Powers of Superfoods has made its way on amazon, too! Not to forget getting kudos by Newsmax! (Take a peek! gift book and a super comprehensive summary!)

The Healing Powers of Superfoods: A Complete Guide to Nature's Favorite Functional Foods
By Cal Orey

Monday, March 28, 2022

World at War, Then and Now -- Echoes of the Past WWII and Vietnam

 World at War, Then and Now

“War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate.“

 What’s Going On Artist: Marvin Gaye

 By James Channing Shaw

At the time of this writing in 2022, Russia is invading Ukraine with escalating and indiscriminate destruction. In 1939, Poland surrendered twenty-six days after Germany’s blitzkrieg. In 1940, France surrendered to Germany in less than six weeks. Benjamin’s Cohen’s home town of Rouen fell after one month…

Picture Benjamin, the protagonist in The Caged Bird Sings. In 1940, a musically gifted boy, age 13, full of life but out of place in his family. His is the underdog, overshadowed by Émile, eight years his senior in medical school, and sister Miriam who can do no wrong.

Picture Benjamin’s life turned upside down the day after his bar mitzvah when he hears the first BBC announcement of Germany’s impending invasion of France. Imagine a story of a boy, his personal struggles and the strength he finds to survive the German occupation of France.

          Picture Benjamin in the first year of the war as German soldiers patrol the streets and national anti-Jewish decrees strain the lives of the small Jewish population of Rouen, France. He finds solace in his fifth-floor bedroom from his pet cockatiel and hours of violin practice, a room in which he discovers the bells from the carillon pieces that waft into his room. And with that discovery, his future is born: with his seeking out the carillonneur at the cathedral to teach him carillon, his road to becoming a man during a time of war begins.

A timeless tale is amid a horrific and haunting war, full of uncertainty Benjamin shares his personal struggles in a journal, as one way to survive the grueling and unpredictable German occupation of France.

 So, how else does Benjamin acquire the courage and self-reliance to get through struggles of war, oppression, and existential threat?

Benjamin enters a welcoming Catholic world at the cathedral, one he cannot share with his family. Words spoken, vestments donned, all foreign to a boy who has had a sheltered existence within his Jewish community. But the music, the carillon, takes him into new realms of learning and insulates him from the harsh realities of the war while the support from his new Catholic ‘family’ builds his confidence.

The carillonneur, Monsieur deTarot, becomes a supportive father figure to Benjamin; Jacques-Milan, the frightening, disfigured caretaker becomes a helpful friend. And there is Marie-Nöelle, the beautiful-but-troubled young novitiate nun who changes Benjamin’s life forever. And human bonds, like these, hold the hand of a troubled teen, and nourish him with love, hope, courage and resilience.

The one thing that does deliver much needed inspiration and strength in bad times, is love. Benjamin’s falling in love with Marie-Nöelle unlocks new life in his wonder years despite a troubled world full of chaos, fear, death, challenges and separation of his family.

Is it fantasy to think that love can blossom during wartime? Loss can be overwhelming, after all. This story sends a buoy of hope to the strength of family ties into a sea of evil during wartime. In doing so, it reaches beyond World War II, beyond the characters in the story, to calamities of all kinds, present and future. But in the end, history repeats itself, good triumphs over darkness and humanity prevails.



By Cal Orey

I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis in April 1962, when I was 10 years old. My much-loved  parents told me and my siblings, if at school the air raid sirens go off to walk home ASAP. A neighbor down our street in middle-class suburbia. had built a bomb shelter in their backyard.   I couldn’t imagine such a war catastrophe. But it didn’t happen.

Six years later, I dated and loved a war Vietnam veteran who came home with a mixed bag of craziness: Nightmares, drug addiction, isolation, and physical side effects of Agent Orange, a chemical to make fighting the war easier to see the enemy.

In the 1980’s Cold War era, a thrilling film WarGames shows a high school computer geek who unintentionally faces a threat of Global Thermonuclear War and a mock World War III with a military supercomputer. He learns there’s no way to win nuclear warfare. Later, in 1986, when I was sitting in a college classroom, I heard the news. An accident happened at a Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the USSR. Real deadly fallout effects devastated the region for years.

So, looking back as a kid, teen, and student, and Catholic woman forever, it was easy for me to channel into Benjamin Cohen, a young man’s psyche in The Caged Bird Sings. I tuned into his open-mindedness, brilliance, fear and anxiety of WWII – and its consequences of lost freedom and loved ones… The echo of war(s) now affects me and likely you, too, with the Ukraine-Russia Crisis and the chance that it goes beyond its borders creates uncertainty. Its victims, not unlike Benjamin, his family and first true love, deal with physical-mental suffering and nightmarish military madness.  

All of these horrific events and war crimes, aren’t the first, and they won’t be the last. It’s time to wake up and get it. The only winning move in war is not to play.


JAMES CHANNING SHAW, doctor, writer and musician. With an MD degree from Boston University School of Medicine, he entered academic medicine, where he assumed leadership positions at the University of Chicago and the University of Toronto. He published a memoir of his medical career, Room for Examination. He is the creator-author of The Caged Bird Sings: A Young Man’s Untold War Chronicles. His website is

CAL OREY, M.A., is a bestselling author-journalist and gifted storyteller. Her books include the hugely popular Healing Powers book series. She is the co-author of The Caged Bird Sings: A Young Man’s Untold War Chronicles.  A native of California, Orey is a versatile novelist. Visit her website at

Western Wildfires: Hello, Climate Change is Here to Stay

 By Cal Orey

 Arizona, New Mexico, and California...
When I was young and carefree, in my twenties, I visited South Lake Tahoe. It was me and my Lab. Due to wildfires, all the roads were closed. Back then, the falling ash, dark skies, no sun didn't affect my mind that much. All I cared about was no tan...
And now, it's 2022. I found this blog post written in 2013. How quick I forgot about all the wildfires I've endured in the sierras. Sure, last summer in 2021--it was the "Big One"... Twenty days of evacuation and the threat of losing our mountain town. And now, locals wonder, "Will it happen again?' as summertime and fall are next up...

In the August of 2013 my forecast of the Western wildfires came true. I sensed my town of Lake Tahoe could be next in line—and in a round-about way—it was affected. (No, it wasn't the target like in 2021.) In mid-August, the sierras were surrounded by wildfires (more than one)  burning out of control in Northern California. 
Here, is my up close and personal first-person account of what it’s like to live and cope with the fallout of being in the middle of multiple wildfires and surviving the eerie fallout.

The Rim Fire, Burning by Yosemite National Park
The wildfire ignited August 17 (caused by man), and spread to more than 180,000 acres. Smoke rising from the Rim Fire, had moved into the Lake Tahoe basin and surrounding regions, causing air quality to go south—affecting the health of people and pets of all ages.
Worse, as time passed, the Lake Tahoe area was tagged by authorities including NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the El Dorado County Air Quality Management “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “unhealthy”! What’s more, areas in Nevada, including Carson City and Reno were facing “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy” conditions.  It was a time of uncertainty, a time of caution.

Smoke Ups Health Risks
As each hour and day passed, I watched in disbelief and past wildfire images hit my mind. This was like the 2007 Angora Fire—which I evacuated to Reno, fleeing the drama of helicopters, evacuation phone calls, dark skies, and falling ash. This time around, the gray air was spreading throughout Northern California and Northern Nevada. There was nowhere to run and hide.
I found myself scrutinizing eye-opening reports of South Lake Tahoe’s Barton Memorial Hospital. It was unsettling. Officials were getting flooded with respiratory complaints and numbers of emergency-room patients soared.  We were told by NOAA warning advisories for people and pets to stay indoors, shut the windows, cease physical activities, and drink water to prevent hydration.
At first, I was affected by not being able to enjoy keeping my windows open (it was the warm summer), and denied taking my two active dogs for long walks. The pool where I swim was closed due to the unsafe air quality. People were wearing masks at stores—it made me think of SARS in Asia and the film “Contagion." (I did not know it was foreshadow for COVID/Caldor Fire in 2021.) In fact, one night I couldn’t sleep—I was busy plotting my evacuation. But note, I’d have to drive as far as Half Moon Bay on the coast to be able to get genuine fresh air like our mountains usually has plenty of for locals and tourists.
Sure, I am healthy. I do not have health issues like heart disease, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. But being advised to stay indoors was making me feel anxious, isolated, and trapped. Looking up at the sky at dusk to see a reddish sun with ash falling down on our trees, vehicles was eerie. Worse, to see a red moon late at night without stars was like a freaky nightmare—like the aftermath of a nuclear war. Nuclear winter had hit or so it seemed.
By late August, some physical symptoms hit me. I was coughing, sneezing, endured a headache, and developed a sore throat. The cable guy told me every afternoon he was feeling lightheaded and ill. And, I received phone calls from my sibling on the Nevada side that the smoke quality looked worse than on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. He sent me chilling, eye-opening pictures via e-mail that were surreal looking. But that’s not all…

Long-Term Dangers of Wildfire Ash
Experts said ash falling into the lake can cause problems but we will not know until next year of the entire damage. Some wildlife is affected, too,but the long-term effects on humans and their pets are unknown. 
In a poll created by the Tahoe Daily Tribune, residents showed more concern for their family’s health than not being able to play outdoors. This fact, in itself, made me feel like I was hardly alone—I was one of countless people concerned about the fallout that surrounded us from the fires that burned and affected our environment and health.
I dished reports via social networking, from my own experience. In one post I wrote: “It's like we're in off season. The store was dead tonight!  I crave swimming, long dog walks, clean air, and open windows.” 
And yes, the surreal nature of smoky skies brought back memories of the Oakland Firestorm—a horrific event where people and their pets died because there was only one road out and firefighters could not get in to rescue victims.
On September 1, the Rim Fire was more than one third contained. The day before, while tourists were less than more for the Labor Day Weekend, at times I could see the mountains across the Lake, I took the dogs for a longer walk, and I saw kids swimming in the water and adults on bicycles. But then, in the morning hazy skies returned. The NOAA advisories noted there would be waxing and waning of the air quality until the fire was contained, estimated September 20.

Fallen Leaf Lake...I can see clearly the fall.
So, this fire, one of the largest in California history, will not be forgotten, nor the last one. As global warming continues, the air remains dry and we get less precipitation, wildfires, say experts, may burn longer and may be worse in the years to come. But as I cope with the fallout from this wildfire of 2013, I will never take fresh air for granted.  It’s a precious thing that we need to survive.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Chronicle of a Northern California Wildfire Evacuee -- Will It Happen Again?


  By Cal Orey

August 20, 2021, It is Apocalyptic
Ash falls. Can’t see mountains. Tourists flooding town. It’s surreal. Looks like a nuclear winter. Ordered fourth air purifier. Headache, raspy throat, ears ache. Nowhere to go. Unhealthy air quality in surrounding towns. Current Air Quality: 231. “Caldor Fire, growing rapidly, forces Highway 50 closure” notes one newspaper headline.
I feel like it’s a monster headed into South Lake Tahoe. My biggest fear of a firestorm with one road out is coming true. Confirmed by credible sources in town -- there is no way out. Last night when the tourists left –they were told Hwy 50. was going to close -- it was reported "nightmarish" gridlock. Read: We will all be trapped if the wildfire reaches us. We're surrounded. Scared.

AUGUST 22, Midnight
Tahoe Daily Tribune: “Caldor Fire grows to 98K acres: More resources ordered to keep blaze away from Tahoe” … Online AirNOW.Gov air quality index reads 611 Hazardous! Evacuating tomorrow. The smoke is very unhealthy. Others are leaving too. Scared. Found a place – 6 hr. drive due to closed roads.
Called sibling. “We’re leaving tomorrow early afternoon. I’ll pay for the trip.” No hesitation. He was in denial but admits: “I see smoke in my living room.” Afterall, for months he, an intuitive, like me, said, “South Lake Tahoe is going to get hit this summer.” And I chose to evacuate early so we wouldn’t be caught in the chaos of a mandatory mass exodus.

AUGUST 23, 7:00 PM, Monday
The drive was calm. Zen kitty got car sick. Aussie dog happy to go. Clean air ahead! No more sneezing pooch. Arrived. We are now in a safe place. Hello Gilroy, a town I know for its garlic; and doing a past book signing. I chose a pet-friendly inn. It looked cozy with trees nestled around the outside. Note to self: Tent city next to the premises. Red flag but considering we are evacuees now how can I discriminate?
Inside the corner suite. It’s spacious with a king bed, sofa bed, one TV, coffee/tea maker, fridge, patio, and close to the door to let the dog do his business. Sibling is thinking vacation, “What can we do that’s fun?” I’m pondering, “This is survival” to verbal warnings: “Do not let Zen get out.” After all, my Siamese is a senior indoor-only super sensitive cat. First road trip. I do not want to lose my fur child.

AUGUST, 25, Wednesday
Reality hits. The Caldor Fire is out of control. Watching the news, A.M and P.M. is grueling. It is like watching a disaster movie but it is real-life. The monster firestorm is creeping closer and closer to South Lake Tahoe – my home for 22 years.  The wildfire is less than 10 miles away. I call the neighbor who stayed behind in the hazardous air like so many others did. Yes, he is feeding my fish and watering the tree gardens. But the air quality is bad. Will he stay or will he go? I think he is in denial or optimistic. But my gut says the wildfire is going to hit home. Embers fly in the air; winds kick up at night. Is it an uphill battle? We don’t have enough firefighters. Locals are on edge.

AUGUST 27, Friday Morning
Are you kidding? My brother gave me the news. The inn has a policy. Guests with pets must leave after five days. The room will be cleaned and vacant for 24 hours. “Where are we going to go on a summer holiday weekend?” I asked. Displaced again. Uprooting the fur kids is unfair. The rule seems odd. My gut told me something didn’t ring true. Now we were homeless, too, like the Tent City people.

Saturday Night, Hello Los Gatos
Lady Luck. I scored an upstairs corner suite at a pet-friendly inn. I grew up here—an affluent area that makes me feel safe. The air is hazy from our fire at home but isn’t labeled unhealthy air. The room has superb views of trees and hills. We are happy, sort of. Two rooms, two TVs, a door between us and quiet. It is an oasis. Caveat: Zen has cystitis; so, do I. We don’t like change. Need to drink more water.
Week two: I do not want to leave kitty (potential loss of my home has left me vulnerable; putting chair against door as a safety precaution). No dining out. Living on Subway sandwiches: Vegetables, cheese, olives, whole grain bread. One night it’s too bland, another too spicy. Heartburn pays me a visit. Mornings? Inn to-go breakfast: Yogurt, cinnamon roll. Stuff mini fridge with survival food: Natural OJ, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate… Thank God for chamomile tea.

AUGUST 29, Tahoe Evacuations Are Happening
Broken sleep puts us in Zombie mode. Anxiety, stress, and “what ifs” as we watch the nightly news. The word is: The wildfire is less than five miles from the Lake Tahoe Basin. Like a poisonous snake coming straight for South Lake Tahoe. Residents are on alert to be ready to go.  One highway out. Panic. Gridlock. Dangerous air. Why did locals wait? Nobody wants to go to a shelter, pay money for a hotel, sleep in a car. The haves leave, the have nots stay. And first responders and essential workers keep working. To make things worse, Covid-19 can spread easier in a wildfire environment we are told.

AUGUST 30, Monday Morning Mandatory Evacuation
Text from neighbor. His family is leaving before forced evacuations. “I guess the fire crept through the cracks,” he wrote. We were right.  My fish, trees will die. Worse, our cabins (and my antique furniture, books/mags of 30 years; fave clothes gone); Our historical resort town may burn down – wiped out like Paradise north of us. Worse, the mayor said:” Prepare for the worst. We will rebuild.” Where will we move?
At night I call a bank to make a hefty credit card payment. In shock I say, “This is for the evacuation.” The phone rep is distant.  Robotic. Dazed and confused I break down. I cry hysterically. No words. She took the payment. I don’t understand why some people can’t empathize with evacuees from a natural disaster. Nobody is immune.

SEPTEMBER 1, Tahoe and Stateline are Empty – Bears Roam Streets
The military arrived and more firefighters! Casinos at Stateline, NV close but open their doors to first responders. Bears roam the vacant streets in town. The wildfire is less than five miles away to ravaging South Lake Tahoe. I can feel the collective spirit of residents waiting, waiting, waiting. Will we have a home to go back to – or will we have to relocate?
Los Gatos inn moves us to downstairs; somebody had previously booked the suite. Separate rooms. Pros and cons. Twenty days with a sibling is challenging. I am Type A, he is Type B. The break is good. When we are together, we talk about moving to Utah, Arizona… We only brought basic clothes, computers, the dog and cat. We didn’t really think we’d lose our home. Did we?
Speaking of home, nobody lives above me. On Saturday evening I hear movement. Earthquake? No. Dinosaurs! Guests on the second-floor walk; and I hear every step they make like in that popular dinosaur movie. On the upside, when I take Skyler, my protective canine outside -- no stairs, inn electronic cards to get into the pool area and out. So, no more boot camp exercise for dog and me.

SOS!  More Firefighters, Please!!!
Been posting nonstop on social media: “SOS! South Lake Tahoe needs more firefighters and the military!” And they finally came fighting to save our town from burning down. Some residents returned home by September 7 despite the bad air quality. I wait…September 12 we go home. As whooped as I was, I tossed all toxic air exposed food, hosed off ash on the deck, and inside the cabin. My fish survived 10 days without food; lost one and one tree. I listened to more than 100 phone messages -- from concerned people “Are you okay?” The “Evacuate Now…” words from the El Dorado sheriff greeted me – and I grinned because leaving sooner than later alleviated me hearing the orders like I did for Angora Fire in 2007.

OCTOBER 8, I Survived a Natural Disaster
Today, I enjoy the changing color of autumn leaves on trees surrounding the cabin. The air is excellent quality; poor air forecast for the weekend since the sequoias south of us are burning in another California Sierra wildfire. I had a snake nightmare last night and it was trying to attack my cat, Zen.
In the afternoon, I pulled down the outdoor living room blind for a warm, fall effect. Ash fell to the deck. A sobering memory of Caldor Fire and how our community survived. A heartfelt thanks to the fearless firefighters. Tahoe strong locals, and the grace of God. We defeated Mother nature’s wrath this time. But was this nightmare the new normal?

(Published in Oracle 20/20 Magazine, November issue; courtesy photo of fire engines in smoke-filled sky from Bill Rozak)

FYI Facts: Caldor Fire 2021

Did you know? Air Quality Ranking -- South Lake Tahoe had the most unhealthy air quality in the U.S. during this time.

·       The wildfire began on August 14.  The cause is unknown but climate change helped the fire cross the Sierra Nevada.
·       Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for El Dorado County.
·       Nearly 1000 structures were destroyed, no deaths, the clarity and ecosystem of the Lake are affected.
·       Lake Tahoe registered the unhealthiest air quality in the nation due to the Caldor and Dixie Fires surrounding the El Dorado, Alpine, and Amador counties in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.
·       The dangerous air quality has both short-term and long-term effects on humans, pets, and wildlife.
·       It was estimated that the Caldor Fire will be fully contained by mid-October.