Monday, January 19, 2009

Learning & Adapting

I am learning to adapt.

Heck, aren't we all doing that every day? Sometimes we get tired of adapting, so we cling to things that are familiar just because we want to feel comfortable.

I described myself to a friend the other day as "a shark for learning," meaning I'm always interested in learning new things (and most definitely not interested in repetitive practicing). The more I learn, the more I adapt, and this certainly pertains to how I feed and care for Vida.

I'm often asked "what's the best ________." Fill in the blank with food, supplement, herb, whatever. And so many people are flustered or frustrated when I deflect that question with "it depends on the dog." But I want everyone to know that I also experience that feeling of resistance when the suggestion doesn't match what I believe or am comfortable with. And I must always remember that feeling of mine when I see that look in their eyes that tells me I've hit a wall (of resistance, confusion, frustration..).

So I'm learning to try new things. Now I don't just do this willy-nilly. I research it, learn more, mull it over, consider the options. But then I try it.

For example, I'm always telling people to rotate their "green supplement" (their mixed supplement of choice, usually includes, kelp and other green foods, vitamins, herbs, etc). Yet I had my dog on the same one for over a year straight because I thought it was the best. Now I'm not saying it's not a good supplement, but my mindset closed my eyes to options. And really, what's the worst that could happen? My dog's healthy, and it's easy to see when something isn't agreeing with her, and conversely, when it is. (I say it's easy with her, but really, it should be easy with any animal if you're really paying attention) So I switched, and you know what? She looks even healthier!

Now we can almost never really know exactly what is making our dog glow with health. Heck, it could be just that time of the year, in that year of life, with the whole collection of things that you offer them working together.

All of us should take a good look at our pets and really see them. We may think they look great, but when was the last time we changed anything or tried anything new? When was the last time we learned something new? We should always be looking forward, learning, and adapting.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Mason Jar of Medicine

Here is the mason jar of medicine that Vida and I are drinking daily.

It's a re-used jar from the honey guy at the farmer's market (who has some resilient labels for his jars!). It's sweating a bit because I keep it in the fridge - I find the cold drink preferable because it quiets down the plant flavor (which isn't gross, just not inherently appealing to me, the spoiled human).

Yes, the dog and I are taking the same tea. I pour it into a small bowl, drink my share, then pass it down to her to finish the two tablespoons or so I've left her. And yes, she likes it. Twice a day.

So here's the recipe:

Equal parts: dried dandelion root, dried burdock root, dried nettle leaf, dried red clover flower, and whatever extra item I choose to add (rosehips this batch, for example).

To make this jar I use 2 tablespoons of each, with water measured by filling the jar to the brim.

To make it a proper medicine... put in the dandelion and burdock (the water is in a pan by now, right), bring to a boil and then simmer gently with the lid on for 20 minutes. Then turn the heat off and add the nettle and red clover, put the lid back on and let it sit until it cools down. Strain it (I use a mesh strainer, plus a piece of cheesecloth so I can squeeze out the goodness).

Please remember to let it cool before offering it to your dog. Vida is wary of a warm bowl as her whiskers descend into it, and will pull back if she suspects the liquid it contains might be too hot.

It's important to cook the roots well, but not overcook the leaves and flowers. That's the difference between a decoction (for the roots) and an infusion (for the leaves and flowers).

Where do I buy my herbs? I buy them online from Mountain Rose Herbs. Be aware that when you order it's by weight - 4 oz of dried dandelion fills about one measuring cup, 4 oz of red clover fills about 8 cups. I will need to order dandelion and burdock again soon, for instance, while I still have plenty of the others.

We're drinking this consistently unless I turn useless and don't make it. We did skip a couple of days last week because I didn't make it, but I plan on using it for several months.

It's important to know that yours (and your dogs) liver is the center of the universe, healthwise, in the body. If there are chronic problems, look to the liver. This tea is designed to tone the liver and improve it's function. It's not an "etched in stone" recipe, but it's one that I'm comfortable with for long-term liver care.

Drink up!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year

[ok, not exactly a post about raw food, but I hope you see the connection]

This New Year day was really a great one because it was shared and simple, and not filled with angst or resolve.

We went to the beach in the afternoon to see a labyrinth etched in the sand by a local artist, Kirk Van Allyn. There were so many people there it was amazing, and a lot of them were decorating the labyrinth with colored sand, rocks, flowers, etc. Here is a photo of one of those decorations, and more here in an album on Facebook.

Looking down from the bluff you could see the tide already taking back some of the labyrinth, and at first I felt like I might have missed something, like were were late. But when we went down to the beach and walked around I could see that was completely the wrong assumption.

There was so much activity, and it was all so friendly and welcoming. People meeting and chatting, people of all ages collaborating on personal embellishments to the design. The labyrinth itself being added to. All the while people coming and going from the site, up the staircase or down the beach. The community was visiting this wonderful temporary artwork on this afternoon of renewal - and watching the ocean renew itself on the design (which of course included people surfing).

I guess it's hard to explain, but it was such a refreshing start to the year. No expectations, no angst, just the beautiful and simple process. In fact that was probably was made it so joyous - the very nature of it is how we should approach the new year - every day a renewal of energy and life.