Friday, December 10, 2010

Grape Harvest 2010

Witness to Oregon Grape Harvest

I have come to realize that we live in a true "garden of eden" here in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. This became clear on my first witness to a wine grape harvest.  Luck (and the gods?) brought a clear, cold sunny day on the first day of grape collecting at a local vineyard. Despite having to get up early on my one day off, I became giddy with excitement as I climbed to the top of the hill and saw the crates of grapes piled high. Workers hand picking, quickly and efficiently. Bucket after bucket of grapes tumbling into the grape bins. Leaves and defective clusters quickly removed, once full away the grapes would go to the winery for processing. 

In rows, the clusters all present at one level, maybe 3.5 feet from the ground. The vines pruned with deliberation the year before to create a somewhat organized presentation of fruit. I tasted several grapes right from the vine and pondered how the high quality wine from this vineyard begins right here with this simple fruit. But of course it is not simple and it did not "begin" with this grape. Much thought and organization went into the growth of this plant.

Silly as this may sound, I did not even realize that the grapes were hand picked! But this 60 acre or so vineyard, and many others, are dependent on the hands of many agricultural workers.  The number of workers you can amass determines how fast you can bring in the harvest.

I have always enjoyed wine, but now now I see and taste a work of art created by many hands and minds.

Did I say I love Oregon? Did I say I love Salem?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010



I guess when you get snow that stays on the ground longer than 2 hours in down town Salem in November…winter is here.  I cannot believe I am going to say this, but I am so excited. Even though there was no summer to speak of the change feels good.

Why is that?  What is so appealing about the change of season? I cannot understand it because I lived in Florida for the last 16 years and never felt bored by all the sun. But now that I experience all the colors, smells and textures of different seasons, it really feels great. The variety makes things interesting.

I am going to bundle up and enjoy the cold fresh air. Let me admit that the best part of a winter day is the part where you come inside to a roaring fire and a cup of espresso or tea. Yum.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Your Own Internal Pharmacy

A recent article from one of the herbal pharmacies I use, Kan Herbal, poignantly discusses what we all know at some level. The body can heal itself! As American's we grow up taking a drug for all our aliments...but did you stop to consider that the body has it's own “internal pharmacy”? Within our own bodies are hormones, pain relieving substances, cells to fight infection and cells that direct healing of tissue. There are enzymes and all sorts of chemical compounds with particular actions within our bodies.

What a beautiful system we have and we often do not let our bodies do the work and so they are out of shape. On top of that we damage ourselves daily with mental and physical stress and the toxins in the air and soil damage us. Focusing on reducing these outside attacks will allow our body to get back into its own balance. For example, over exercising or work that abuses the body puts it out of balance. The stress in personal life damages us. Eating unhealthy food reduces our ability to be healthy.

What to do? One of the easier things to do is to focus on what goes into your body. Buy the healthiest food you can afford and cook as much as you can. My rule when buying pre-packaged items is buy the ones with the smallest ingredient list. If your peanut butter has more than 2 ingredients listed on it, peanuts and salt, I would be raising my eyebrows.

Would you believe that just breathing more will help you? Try it. If you are exercising and feel burning in your muscles or lungs...take several deep, deliberate breaths and think of all the Cosmic Qi (qi from the universe) you are taking in. Lift up your arms and open your chest and breath. You will immediately have more energy.

Emotional stress can be more difficult to deal with. You must practice! Practice telling yourself that you are a wonderful, intelligent person. Practice thinking positive about everyone around you. I read once that love is power. It sounds so cliché and “goody-two-shoes”, but it is completely true. When everyone around you is angry or sad or unkind, throw love back at them and they will be powerless. What can they say to that? If the world cannot suck you in to this negative energy, you are powerful. And I tell you, you will raise up everyone around you.

There is no question that sometimes you will need help. Acupuncture has been used to tap in to the healing highways of the body and turn them on or put them in the right direction. Herbs go into the body and balance what is out of balance. They too can turn on the body's mechanisms to heal. There are other medical therapies as well like homeopathy and chiropractic.

This kind of internal healing I believe is true healing, lasting health.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First time ever blogging.

Hello. I began this blog so that I could share a bit of myself, my thoughts, stories about veterinary medicine and my experiences. Hope you find it interesting, and if not, tell me what would be worth reading!

Holistic Medicine definition: An approach to medical care that emphasizes the study of all aspects of a person's health, including psychological, social, and economic influences on health status (The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary 2002).

Beginning with my freshman year in veterinary school I sought out alternative medical therapies.  Joining the Holistic Veterinary Medicine club exposed me to treatments utilizing food therapy, nutritional supplements, homeopathy, acupuncture and more. However, the intense western medicine curriculum can force one to take a hiatus from these alternative therapies, but now I am back.  In Florida I lived 25 miles from a Chinese Veterinary medicine school called “The Chi Institute” and thus began my training in acupuncture and herbal therapy.   Really, for me it began a new way to look at the world.

Holistic medicine defined indicates nothing about what methods are used to treat, just that the approach addresses the ENTIRE person, or pet in my case. In my office you may find it strange to be asked: “what is the emotional state of your pet?” or “does your pet seek cool spots or sunny spots?” But these answers help me treat an entire pet and not just the western diagnostic tests. I want to know who else is in the household and if your pet is scared of loud noises. Do they sleep through the night? Knowing what food provides their nourishment is also an essential piece of information. As a friend of ours once said about their newborn baby as he grew “It’s amazing. He is just milk and air….milk and air.” How true that is!  Aside from love, we only exist because of our food and the air we breathe. 

This kind of unconventional, in-depth assessment helps determine what the treatment plan will be. A good example is that of a dog with skin allergies. This dog may be treated with antibiotics and steroids and shampoos, but he may also need healthier food, more attention at home and vigorous daily exercise.  Sometimes I pick topical medications instead of oral to limit what drugs go into the system. Often I will suggest an herbal formula. I have discovered recently that the best treatment plan is one that an owner can accomplish.  Cats often hinder my treatment plan. Despite my slyness around felines, if a cat does not at least passively approve of what I want to do, I’m not doing it. Most of you cat owners know what I mean. Sometimes they will allow acupuncture,

So for me I hope to achieve more cures and more happy pets by looking beyond what can be measured or tested for.  And when there is not a drug or western technique that is acceptable treatment, then I have other tools in my bag.

Julie DeMarco, DVM, CVA