Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Fighting Superbugs with Nature's Best

Beat Bugs, Naturally

As a busy author and one of the many "worried well" I am watching people on TV and at home in a tourist town bracing for the worst. The "worried well" (healthy folks who stress about getting sick) are stocking up on food, face masks, money, and more. As a kid, tween, and teenager, I recall the contagious polio epidemic, tuberculosis, and mononucleosis hitting my neighborhood, my friends. At 25, my mom died of pneumonia.

Later, as a magazine journalist living in San Francisco, I wrote about the frightening AIDS outbreak, which we learned can affect all people of all ages. After penning books such as Doctors' Orders: What 101 Doctors Do to Stay Healthy, and The Healing Powers of VinegarOlive Oil, and Chocolate series, I know that good nutrition with supplements and healthful lifestyle changes are the best prevention plan to bolster the immune system--whatever the "vicious" monster virus may be. The glitch is, while this virus may not be as deadly as the 1918 Spanish flu--it doesn't discriminate. People with healthy immune systems are not immune--but they may heal faster if hit with a cold, flu, or even Covid!

But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you get and stay healthier and you end up contracting the virus from getting infected by another person, your body will be in better shape to fight the symptoms of the flu and get well faster.

So, here are ten natural flu-busters that Southern California-based Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D., recommends to his patients to keep from getting influenza, straight from my book Doctors' Orders . Plus, the CDC also touts practicing good health habits and "social distancing" during this fall and winter...

1. Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking water, herbal teas, and vitamin C-rich liquids can flush out any toxins that you accumulate.

2. Wash your hands frequently. Viruses can be transmitted by shaking someone's hand and then touching your face, nose or mouth. (This is probably the most important strategy. See previous blog for the Four Thieves Formula--apple cider vinegar and herbs.)

3. Eat right. "There are many plant chemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids that have antiviral and antibacterial activity," he says. So eating nutritious produce daily will help keep your immune system strong. He also eats fish, whole grains, onions and garlic which help stave off flu, too.

4. Treat yourself well. "I try to minimize junk food, but I do succumb to chocolate or calcium-rich ice cream once or twice a week," he says. "It's possible that lots of sugar can interfere with the proper functioning of the immune system."

5. Take vitamin C. Most of the research says that it improves the immune system.

6. Take echinacea. This herb is touted to have both antibiotic and immune-stimulating properties. But note, it's best used as a preventive measure before you get the flu.

7. Zinc yourself well.. "Zinc lozenges are the most powerful," he says. Zinc is a potent virus-fighters that can cut the time you spend in misery.
8. Drink herbal teas. "Warm liquids help loosen mucus," explains Dr. Sahelian.

9. Exercise, exercise, exercise. "It helps me sleep more deeply at night. Deep sleep is a time when the immune system has a chance to regroup itself and get revitalized," notes the good doctor.

10. Chill out. By keeping your stress levels down, you can keep your immune system up and healthy.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Fall into Herbs and Spices for the Season! Stay Healthy!

By Cal Orey

The word is, an uptick in herbs and spices has left manufacturers scrambling to fill orders for hungry and lonely consumers. What gives? Blame the spike on the stay-at-home lifestyle to survive the lingering pandemic -- and essential during lean times as inflation soars and food prices skyrocket.

Actually, herbs and spices have been touted as timeless treasures. Their draw goes back centuries ago, to the days of the spice trade. Seafarers searched for pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg which were priceless commodities. And now, during a 21st century plague, we are experiencing another spice explosion, sort of.

The Covid-19 challenge has already played a role in our food chain. Back in March, we endured bare shelves – a lack of flour to sugar to eggs and butter — in our grocery stores.  But spices were growing in demand, too, because we were cooking more, dining out less. As months passed, during quarantine home-cooking, using herbs and spices became a hot trend around the globe.  

A Pre-Pandemic Introduction to Aromatic Seasonings

Flashback to 2019, when I began my book research for The Healing Powers of Herbs and Spices: Timeless Treasures, I found a big cardboard box on my doorstop—a gift. When I opened the package, I was greeted by a strong wave of different aromas. The box was filled with dozens of individual packets containing a variety of herbs and spices.  It was if they were all are saying, “Look at me! Choose me!”

I took out each cellophane wrapped and labeled packet. There were rows of small packages on my dining room table. Each one was filled with powders, pods, seeds and stems–some familiar, some not. I brought out a kit of glass bottles with stick-on labels which I had ordered online and went to work filling each container with a dried herb or spice. Foolishly, I did not wear a mask. (Fast forward: Now a mask is my best friend.) My eyes began to water, and sniffles started. I sneezed several times. I was experiencing the potent and healing compounds in the botanical plants. Within a few hours, all my seasonings were inside the glass bottles and labeled.

Little did I know these timeless treasures would end up making a huge comeback during a pandemic stay-at-home lifestyle.

Home-Cooking Is Chillaxing

            Why Spice Sales Saw a Rise During the Pandemic

  • As more people look to natural remedies as a way to slim down and healthy up, the demand for usage of herbs and spices continues to skyrocket.
  • Celebrity chefs increasingly promote more natural, plant-based diets that include many herbs and spices for flavor, texture, and visual appeal.
  • During the fall and winter — spice companies will likely enjoy a greater demand for immune-boosting food paired with seasonal favorite seasonings.
  • During tough times people often turn to baking bread or making pizza – familiar comfort food and cheaper than going out to eat. While we cope with  money challenges, home-cooking links you to a sense of normalcy.

Using herbs and spices provide different adventurous flavors and can create different cuisines — a tie to traveling which we cannot easily do right now.  It’s an escape to embracing different cultures and humanity – a way to feel connected during physical distancing.

Herbs and Spices Heart-Warming Lure

 Staying well is on our minds. And the key to vibrant health for all generations is in your kitchen… Anise, bay leaf, oregano, paprika, parsley, and more—for thousands of years, have been praised for flavoring food, as well as preventing and even curing illnesses.

Nature’s gifts including cloves, garlic, thyme, and turmeric are immune-boosting and can help us stay well. Since American households will be hunkering down for a while, spicing up home-cooked meals adds pleasure. And yes, herbs and spices can even ease stress and anxiety providing comfort during challenging times.

So, cooking up herb-alicious recipes like a Banana Cardamom Bread, Mediterranean Oven-Baked Garlic and Marjoram Pizza, Jumbo Anise Biscotti or a Spiced Star Anise Hot Chocolate will help get us through tough times. But note, post-pandemic days are ahead – with promise of gatherings and traveling – indulging in the variety of spice to its fullest once again.

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 for better health this fall and beyond.

NOTEABLE BOOK: Police Man USA--Review

 Pacific Book Review

In our modern age, one of the most prolific topics of debate in the United States is gun control. With the rise of gun-related violence occurring in our nation, the debate between gun-owners and gun control advocates seems to dominate the news. The question of morality, versus a person’s constitutional right to arm themselves, is so complex and has kept many politicians locked in heated battles, as the violence continues. Yet what is the right answer in this discussion? Is there a right or wrong here? 

In author R. Anderson’s Police Man USA: The SHOT that Split America, the discussion takes a whole new meaning in this sci-fi dystopian meets murder thriller novel. When an infamous athlete on the fast track to make records is gunned down and his killers remain on the loose, the nation becomes split in half, with one half of the nation becoming the liberal and lawless Frontier and the other half becoming the ultra-conservative Pilgrim state. Over six decades later, a hotshot detective in Pilgrim is sent to Frontier to solve the decades old cold case. Unable to rely on his fast technology, the gun-toting policeman must use old-school means of investigation to solve the crime, and discovers a shocking secret in the process.

The author did an incredible job of finding just the right balance between world-building and character development. The rich dynamics between the characters is immediately prevalent, as the interaction between protagonist James Merit of the Pilgrim state and characters such as Starla of the Frontier each highlights the deep-seated beliefs and values they held in opposition to one another, and the ways in which they come together, despite this show the depth of humanity and possibility that exists within us all. 

This is a brilliant book to read, and would be greatly appreciated by anyone who enjoys dystopian crime thrillers with elements of science fiction, suspense, and murder, all rolled up in a finely tuned mystery. 

The book will also appeal to those who enjoy audiobooks, as the author has also managed to bring this story to the audiobook world with a narrator that speaks with a gravitas and authority that instantly captures the listeners’ attention. The audiobook brings the mystery and suspense elements of the genre forward even more, playing out as if a radio show of the 1920s. 

Thought-provoking, captivating, and entertaining, author R. Anderson’s “Police Man USA: The SHOT that Split America” is a must-read, action-fueled novel. The imagery the book conjured up almost brought to mind films such as Judge Dredd and Robocop - mixed with 80s action films. The audiobook is a definite bonus for readers that they will love, but the way the author is able to explore both sides of the conversation, and how the themes of this narrative plays out, kept me invested in the overall story and I thoroughly enjoyed the characters’ arcs in this memorable book.

For More Information: Author's Website (Read a Free Sample of Novel!)

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Essential Oils, Vinegar Help Enhance Immune Health--Must-Haves for Fall-Winter


Fall into The Healing Powers of Essential Oils Book -- Featured in First for Women Magazine

  By Cal Orey

In the twenty-first century, viruses and bacterial infections
are contracted wherever you go, be it at the workplace, store, airplane, or even your home with family and friends. Essential oils and their protective compounds may help guard you from catching a virus or flu—and allergies from pollen, dust and pet dander to poor air quality.

We are not powerless. But it doesn't take a doctor to figure out that if you bolster your immune system, your body will be in better shape to ward off a cold, virus, sinus woes and  allergens that can drive you crazy. Achoo!

Here are essential oils that you can use to stave off viruses as part of your anti-virus arsenal to stay well.

5 Oils to Bolster Your Immune System from
The Healing Powers of Essential Oils 
by Cal Orey, published by Kensington

#1 Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus oil is one of the best essential oils to keep the flu at because it apparently boosts your immune system. Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, founder of the Pacific Aromatherapy Institute points out that “the most effective essential oils for viral infections are those with sizable contents of cineole, mono terpene alcohol, and mono terpene hydrocarbons.” He adds, “These types of components form an effective antiviral synergy.”
What Scent-sational Rx to Use: Mix 6 drops of eucalyptus oil into a large pot of hot water. Cover your head with a lightweight towel and inhale the steam for a few minutes.
Why You’ll Feel Essentially Fine: Research shows that eucalyptus oil may be helpful because of its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Bronchitis, which is a viral health ailment that can be contagious, too, can be made less severe and recovery may be quicker than if one inhales eucalyptus oil.

#2 Lavender. During the fall and winter months when the temperature drops and we’re indoors more and closer to people, colds are common. But the right essential oil can help bolster your immunity and keep a miserable cold at bay!
What Scent-sational Rx to Use: Take a lavender-scented bath. Mix 3 drops of essential lavender oil with ¼ cup of jojoba or almond oil. Put the concoction into a tub filled with water.
Why You’ll Feel Essentially Fine: Lavender is a calming bacteria-fighting essential oil. Its anti-inflammatory compounds can help to keep you safeguarded against germs found on surfaces and the environment.

#3 Rosemary. When you have that irritating tickle in your throat and need to cough, well, its’ irritating. Hacking can hurt, too!
What Scent-sational Rx to Use: Combine 4 drops of rosemary essential oil into a diffuser or vaporizer. Or simply put the oil onto a handkerchief and take a whiff or two.
Why You’ll Feel Essentially Fine: Rosemary can be an aid to lessen the need to cough with due credit to a compound called 1,8-cinole. It may calm the muscles in the respiratory system, preventing coughing.

#4 Lemon. Ouch! A sore throat is an unwelcome irritation of scratch pain when you talk and swallow. It can be a sign that you may be coming down with a cold or flu. (Refer to #1.) Or it could be caused by seasonal allergies or even talking too much.
What Scent-sational Rx to Use: Try putting 1 drop of lemon oil in 8 ounces of hot water. Add 1 teaspoon raw honey for taste. Repeat twice daily.
Why You’ll Feel Essentially Fine: The oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This popular oil also may trigger saliva, which can keep the throat hydrated. Use the magical cure--you’ll be chatting soon!

#5 Sage. The primary compounds include the main antibacterial compounds, including a-pinene, camphor, b-pinene,  and limonene—which may help lessen the risk of developing inflammation, and even protect again microbes.
What Scent-sational Rx to Use: Make a spray or lotion including sage oil isn’t a bad idea. Note to self: Bring a sage spray before entering hotel rooms when traveling, and at home after being around people.
Why You’ll Feel Essentially Fine: Sage oil is a versatile essential oil. It can be used in a vaporizer to zap germs and fight viruses. You can use it diluted with a carrier oil such as olive oil. Sage is also a culinary oil—which means diluted you can use it (1 toothpick drop) in a soup or fish dish with garlic, another germ warrior.

The bottom line: The essential oil cure may be the cure-all for you. Plus, taking care of you during uncertain times – can provide more health benefits and keep your immune system healthy.

8 Anti-Virus Warrior Tips to Fight Against Germs 
Fall Allergies and Immune Health

During the autumn we're often indoors more often and can cause us to be more vulnerable to catching a cold or flu or allergies to pollen. Other ways to build your immune system? Take a look.

1. Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking water, herbal teas, and vitamin C-rich liquids can flush out any toxins that you accumulate.
2. Wash your hands often to keep germs away.
3. Eat right. Plant-based foods contain carotenoids and flavonoids that have antiviral and antibacterial activity. So eating nutritious produce daily will help keep your immune system strong.
4. Forego sugar. Sugar can interfere with the proper functioning of the immune system.
5. Take vitamin C and D or get it in fortified foods like cereal, juice, or milk. Most of the research says that it improves the immune system.
6. Zinc yourself well. Zinc is a potent virus-fighter that can cut the time you spend in misery.
7. Exercise, exercise, exercise. It lowers stress levels and ups better sleep to allow the immune to get revitalized." pointed out the health practitioner that taught me well.
8. Chill out. By keeping your stress levels down, sleep better and you can keep your immune system up and healthy.

Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, and Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.)

Healing Powers of Essential Oils --a Gift Book Year-Roun


Essential Oils for Four Seasons (Featured in FIRST FOR WOMEN Magazine (Book Club 2022 Issue)

Scent-sational Essential Oils and Four Seasons

The Healing Powers of Essential Oils

Did you know? Essential oils—including eucalyptus, peppermint, rose, and tea tree-are nature’s ancient medicine, abundant with therapeutic effects. The latest scientific research shows that many popular essential oils and aromatherapy can boost your health and well-being. 

         Also, specific essential oils are often more popular during each of the four seasons. Here, take a look at how the comfort and calms of scent can help you enjoy Earth’s changes year-round. You can use these oils in different forms, including: Air sprays, candles, cleaning products, diffusers, beauty and hygiene items--and even in cooking foods and beverages! Read on--from The Healing Powers of Essential Oils...

It’s the Season: Shorter days, longer nights and often chilly temperatures call for hot, comfort food. During the holiday season, festive food, like hearty casseroles, soups, muffins, breads, puddings, and pies are commonplace. Then, when the New Year arrives it’s not uncommon to want to eat clean food and get a fresh start. Immune-enhancing, mood-boosting, warming aromas are scents that come with winter-time. They can be found in plant-based salads, vegetarian casseroles, and soups, with lighter desserts.
Healing Winter Recipes: Biscotti, breads, cakes and scones are popular foods to warm you up, and essential oils can give recipes extra flavor, especially when seasonal citrus or herbs are not available.
Winter Culinary Essential Oils: Anise, clove, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and peppermint.

It’s the Season: As the days are longer, the weather is warmer, spring fever hits home. During the springtime it’s commonplace to get a burst of energy as well as want to eat less, move more. And that’s when our diet changes along with fresh fruits and vegetables. Energizing, floral, and herbaceous are the scents that welcome a renewal of a season after winter.
Healing Spring Recipes:  Herbal teas, salads, and pasta plates are lighter fare than winter cuisines. These foods, many water-dense, can help you rejuvenate, energize, and detox your body.
Spring Culinary Essential Oils: Geranium, jasmine, lavender, lemon, orange, and rose.

It’s the Season: Longer days, warmer nights call for a change in meals. Lighter meals, outdoor eating to fit the celebration of fun and sun. Cooling, energizing, floral, light fragrances are part of summertime.
Healing Summer Recipes: An array of fresh fruits and vegetables entice us to eat more of a plant-based diet. That means more salads, cheese plates, continental breakfasts or brunches, and fresh fish on the grill.
Summer Culinary Essential Oils: Chamomile, lemon, lavender, orange, sage, and spearmint.

It’s the Season: Autumn is a time of change and the foliage is a reminder, with leaves changing color, the sun is setting earlier, and fall cleanup and nesting is all part of the time of year. Spicy, warming, woody scents blended with citrus notes are perfect for fall.
Healing Fall Recipes: Warm dishes like hot cereals, pancakes, and waffles with maple syrup, hearty soups, vegetable casseroles, and fruit cobblers are part of the fall harvest.
Fall Culinary Essential Oils:  Basil, cinnamon, ginger, lavender, nutmeg, and orange.

Ummm! What Smells So Good?
Cooking with Essential Oils: For Safety’s Sake

Take precaution when using essential oils. Some oils should be diluted. Also, I have learned using the savvy toothpick method—dip a toothpick into an essential oil vial—instead of using drops. It is safer to monitor how much oil you put into an edible recipe.
Cooking with essential oils is controversial among essential oil proponents. However, some top aromatherapists do encourage using raw essential oils for cooking and baking. It is advised to dilute food-grade essential oils with carrier oils such as olive oil or coconut oil in savor cuisine; maple syrup or honey for sweet fare to disperse the essential oil well.
When cooking with heat, it is recommended to add essential oils last to a recipe. This way, you’ll preserve the flavor of the oil and it will not be over processed—helping to reap some of its antioxidants.
Administration offers an online published list of essential oils (solvent-free) that are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) to consume in beverages and foods.
Also, it’s best to dilute the essential oils just like you do for therapeutic, beauty, and cleaning recipes. I recommend for most food recipes to pair your essential oil with olive oil, part of the Mediterranean Diet. Other liquids you can use to dilute edible essential oils include vegetable oils, water, juice, and honey.
A variety of food-grade essential oils can be edible. (These can be found at health food stores and online. Some good brands are Young Living, LorAnn, and doterra.) However, it’s essential for you to know that less is more, because the taste can be very potent.

Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Essential Oils: A Complete Guide to Nature’s Most Magical Medicine, by Cal Orey, published by Kensington, 2020, ©  Available at all fine bookstores online and at your local bookstore.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Healing Powers of TEA Book Graced with Bestseller Banner Countless Times

    Cal Orey

Did you know wellness in a cup is in your kitchen cupboards? Tea, much like a best friend, is the versatile superfood that can be enjoyed as an amazing constant home cure, an age-fighting treatment, relaxing beauty remedy, household cleaner, and even infused in your favorite dishes--from Strawberry Banana Tea Muffins to Scallops in Black Tea Marinade!

As noted on the back cover of The Healing Powers of TeaA Complete Guide To Nature's Special Remedy (Citadel Press, Kensington)--

It picks you up and calms you down, warms you and refreshes you. With black, white, green, and herbal varieties, there's a tea for every taste, and now this time-honored superfood is trending as the drink of choice for health-conscious people of all ages and cultures.

Welcome to Tea Land! (Gift Book...
and Peek!)
This fascinating book boils down the rich history of tea--as well as the ever-expanding list of health and weight loss benefits found in its leaves.  

But this special one-of-a-kind tea book does so much more. It's sweetened with lively up close and very personal home and family to on-the-road stories with twists, turns, and real feelings (bonding with people and pets of all ages with tea as a vehicle) paired with inspiring legends about tea from yesteryear.

Discover how tea is a drink that goes back in history as well as the center for tea parties--stirs the imagination for the young at home and serves up exciting teas and treats in beautiful tea rooms for older people young at heart. (page 19)

Find out exactly how far people, perhaps like you, too, will go to get a cup of tea (a variety of types) no matter where you are or who you're with--man, woman, a group of people or dog--for survival's sake! (page 136)

Get the latest information from tea experts on how the superfood can tackle anxiety and depression during life's ups and downs--and big family losses linked to pain, grief, anger, acceptance, and a comeback to move on. (pages 145) 

Feel thrills and novelty vicariously experiencing adventures in traveling through wilderness up and down the West Coast, Midwest, Deep South, Northeast and Canada and cultural shock in new places but always tea soothing and part of the memory.  Alone with a canine companion, a new love, or in the company of wise elderly women and men--tea is a drink to cherish, a drink that bonds people. (page 77-78)

Stir up over 50 home cures to give yourself more energy, less stress--and feel younger, more happiness, vim and vigor while traveling or at home! (pages 155-156)

After a 3000 mile flight plan, imagine your fantasy-come-true final destination and you can relax with a cuppa tea and sense of adventure in a foreign country after the trials and tribulations in the process of getting there (plane, train, bus, cab, shuttle bus) and feeling homesick but tea helped calm the pain. (pages 191-192)

Enjoy super comforting and tea-licious recipes like Warm Scones with Jam and Assorted Finger Sandwiches. (pages 225-226; Tea Menu, pages 238-272)

And so much more! Enjoy the intriguing and unforgettable tales that reveal feelings of joy, loneliness, love, longing, security and comfort--all tea-inspired in The Healing Powers of Tea--#6 in the Healing Powers series.  
This very special, intimate book is full of new research, new recipes, and new home cures, penned from the tea-loving author's heart and soul pairs well with the upcoming gift size mass market The Healing Powers of Honey, Feb. 27!  Also, The Healing Powers of Tea is the perfect companion with The Healing Powers of Coffee and The Healing Powers of Chocolate. The collection is available at fine bookstores (on and offline). Or grab the Gift Book at  for a special excerpt and more! 

 October 3, 2022 on Amazon

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B06XZQKD4F
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Citadel Press (December 26, 2017)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ December 26, 2017
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 2839 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 322 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Enabled

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Woman's Best Friend -- A Short Story

 By Cal Orey

Woman’s Best Friend

At 20, I wanted to join the Army, train dogs and travel.  I never made it into the service. I may have failed the male-biased aptitude test, but I still love dogs—all breeds, sizes, and ages. So rather than globetrotting in a uniform, I found myself hiking around the country with a beautiful 6-month-old black Labrador retriever named Stone Fox. Stone Fox and I walked and hitchhiked to the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Deep South, East Coast and even Mexico and Canada. We were on the road like John Steinbeck and his Standard Poodle Charley for more than one year. Taking care of my carefree and upbeat dog and letting him take care of me helped me become a happier and more confident woman in mind and body. He was the dog of my life…



We were lucky to find the widow’s ad for domestic help because I read “No Pets Allowed” in every other “Rooms for Rent” advertisement in San Jose, California. When I applied for the live-in housekeeper position, I explained to Mrs. Thurman that Stone Fox was my best friend and we had just finished traveling cross-country in search of America. The widow, who was soft spoken, said she needed a maid who charged cut-rate prices, and I needed a little R&R for a while. It was self-preservation in a nutshell.

I am not a hypocrite, so I must confess that if I didn’t have my young black Lab with me, I wouldn’t have lasted a minute. Living with the widow would have been too confining at best. But I was in luck because the widow was a dog lover. Her place was a blue and white trailer house—not great for a big dog—landscaped with red bark chips scattered around cacti shrubbery. But there was a creek one block away, which I suggested could be a good dog run. (Later it became me and my dog’s refuge.) So, the widow decided to ignore the “No Large Pets on Trailer Court Premises” rule. Rules are made to be broken, we agreed. Our “we love dogs” motto prevailed.

The widow had the will to subsist inside her coop because of Tweetie, her 11-year-old, devoted Yorkshire terrier, the kind of small pooch that yaps, begs, and wears frilly bows. (I favor larger breeds.) But the spoiled dog did liven up the widow’s low moods, I must admit. I often watched her talk to Tweetie about trivial matters like, “The air is bad in the kitchen” (after she finished frying her bacon, tomato and onion sandwich).  And important issues were covered, such as “Should we sell the Oldsmobile?” and “I don’t want to have the operation for my osteoporosis.” Despite the dog lover’s woes, I felt secure inside the widow’s coop, complete with its colonial style furniture, lacy curtains, and color console television. I didn’t even feel deprived when I was told my fifty-dollar-a-month allowance would be cut in half because of her “too many bills.”

One evening, while returning from a good romp around Quailhollow Creek with Stone Fox, the trailer manager, Ms. Weed, confronted me as I was entering Space 88, the widow’s lot. She spoke of the trailer park regulations, emphasizing that dogs over 15 pounds were not permitted. I told her Stone Fox was my seeing-eye dog straight from San Rafael Dog Training Center for the Blind.

“It’s just a matter of time,” I lied, “before my vision will fail me—for life.” Ms. Weed glared at me with that cosmetic smile of hers. I bet she had plastic surgery. You could sort of tell because her face was too perfect. But it didn’t really match the sloppy way she dressed (purple polyester dress hiding an older woman’s body. She looked like an overweight senior spayed cat, I thought. As she adjusted her large straw hat, she studied me: a hippie girl dressed in baggy blue jean overalls and a peasant blouse, and barefoot. I brushed my shaggy light brown hair out of my eyes when she suggested I should keep my 70-pound Labrador on a very tight leash whenever I walked him on the Quailhollow premises.

That night I confided in the widow almost everything. I told her how Stone Fox and I traveled. A lot. How we hitched and hiked through high and flat deserts of the southwest, fighting off cowboys in the prairies. (They tried to run us off the road. Stone Fox barked and growled. I felt protected.) How we were stranded on on-ramps during a blizzard in Cheyenne, a sandstorm in Winnemucca, and a monsoon in Tucson. And I told her that through our good and bad escapades we learned more and more about each other, and our bond of friendships strengthened.



Stone Fox had helped me through life’s rough spots. And I guess Tweetie’s loyalty and unconditional love aided the widow. We both needed that.

The widow then told me that when her husband was dying, he chose to return to Europe and she stayed in California. She said she loved him, but it was too hard on her to move because he was going blind. (I don’t think she really loved her mate.) When he left for their homeland, she bought Tweetie. “Tweetie is more affectionate and less demanding than Arnold ever was,” the widow whispered to me as I glanced at a photo of her on the wall when she was young, blonde, and pretty. “I love being on my own. Men are like babies. They always want something!”

We laughed together. Her guard came down the more we talked. Then I told the widow about Ms. Weed.  “I told her that Stone Fox was my seeing-eye dog. I couldn’t think of anything else to say.”

That following morning, she explained the “truth” to Ms. Weed. “Callie has problems seeing at dark because of her bad retinas,” she said. She said Stone Fox functioned as my guide dog, even though I walked him on a regular dog leash, not a harness like seeing-dogs wear. Thanks to the widow’s awareness of eye diseases, Stone Fox and I were allowed to remain on the premises at Quailhollow Trailer Park.

I continued to serve Mildred coffee in bed every morning (she no longer wanted me to call her Mrs. Thurman). Twenty minutes afterwards I would bring her more coffee (prepared with non-dairy cream because of her calcium allergy) and bona fide Quaker’s oatmeal since the she was keen to the distinct flavor difference between instant oatmeal and cooked oats.

Sometimes, while cuddle up with our dogs, we’d pass the mornings together by idling in her rustic bedroom, a cluttered quarter brimming with memorabilia, twin beds covered in blue-daisy comforters and a closet-and-a-half stuffed with clothes neatly stored in cellophane wrappers. She told me about her fusspot neighbor who called her one late night and that is when Mildred fell and broke her hip—the beginning of the demise of her health.

As the weeks passed, Mildred was determined to hobble around on those wooden crutches of hers. The bicycle she once pedaled around the mobile park was shut away in the shed. Her 1952 Oldsmobile was sold (she needed the extra cash for the coast of an arm and leg brace). And I was Tweetie’s sole caretaker, from walks to feeding.

But on Wednesdays, Joey the neighbor’s kid came by Mildred’s, which seemed to cheer her up. Joey wore horn-rimmed glasses and had messed up hair, plus ambition to grow a ponytail like the hippies. He bummed a root beer or two from Mildred.

Maybe he was a user, or maybe he really cared about Tweetie. He did brush the dog. This made Mildred because the dog salon was too expensive now. I felt it was therapeutic since she appeared less worried during his visits and Tweetie’s pampering time.



One morning a “First Warning” notice welcomed me when I pulled out an assortment of bills. It was one those 30-day termination slips, but this one had a personalized flair to it. It advised unauthorized tenants to remove large, barking dogs or vacate the premises. I thought Stone Fox was an exception. I was confused. I tore up the notice and postponed coping with the warning.

I continued to curl the widow’s thinning white hair bi-weekly, while Tweetie sat in her lap, bathe her every other day, and serve her favorite fried chicken legs (the Swanson’s TV frozen kind) during the six o’ clock news. And week nights after I walked Tweetie I watched Johnny Carson, while she recycled stories about her life in the good old fifties.

Two weeks passed without me telling Mildred about the notice. I didn’t want to upset her. So finally, Ms. Weed paid us a visit; not a social call she said. “You have seven days left to vacate or get rid of that large mutt,” she screeched at us. Mildred, who was still mentally keen, reminded Ms. Weed that I was near blind. “For four years,” she lied with all her heart. “Since the day they met, Stone Fox and Callie have been together.” She told Ms. Weed it would be inhumane to separate me and my dog, or me and Mildred

Ms. Weed claimed she had called the headquarters of San Rafael Dog Training Center. According to the placement coordinator, Stone Fox and I were non-existent. The truth was confirmed—Stone Fox was just another dog. “Seven days,” she warned, “or I will proceed with further legal action.”



The widow knew I would never give up Stone Fox, no more than she’d surrender Tweetie. We’d rather die than give up our best friends. I had to leave. It was self-preservation. The widow understood my decision without discussion. I got a new job as a live-in babysitter for a rich doctor and his two kids that were supposed to start in a week.

The widow started ringing a little bell whenever she needed something. I overheard her telling Twee tie that she was sick of “flighty domestic help” and was scared to go away to a home “like senile Annie.”

But I left one morning. We said our goodbyes and the dogs…well, they were never were close. They kept their distance and tolerated one another. Sort of like the widow and me.

One summer day when I was driving the kids around, I drove by Quailhollow Creek—they wanted to see where I used to work. I couldn’t resist stopping for Stone Fox’s sake; he loved to retrieve driftwood I’d toss into the creek water. But it was dry because of the drought. I saw Joey riding his bicycle by the creek, and he shouted, “Hear about Mildred?” He stopped moving, turned his head around and shouted, “Died last month. She didn’t make it through that operation.”

I peered down Quailhollow Drive and saw the widow’s sapphire-and-white house trailer. It looked the same but a FOR SALE sign was there.

“Who’s got Tweetie?” I asked, as the doctor’s kids were fighting around me. I watched Stone Fox dig a hole in the dry creek bed. Joey pedaled ahead. “Tweetie died one week before Ruth” echoed down Quailhollow Drive. I wanted to cry out but I couldn’t.