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. 

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