Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Teal's second day

I got a couple of good videos of Teal yesterday. Its tough to get good ones because she is always running all over the place. It was sunny here yesterday so we did a little yard work. Teal and Ari had a nice time in the backyard while I was cleaning up the down branches and other less fun items.

When we went around front to clean up I was a little nervous about having Teal off the leash, but she is young enough and attached to me enough that it seems she won't run off. I am sure that will not last long though.
The first video is of her just romping around the garden. She was doing this pretty much the whole time we were out there.

Here Teal shows what a bad little dog she is. I don't usually let her grab on my clothes, but I didn't have another toy to offer her right then and I thought it would make a close up video. She also has gone pretty confident going up the stairs as you will see, but we don't let her go down them on her own yet. She is a tiny bundle of energy until she falls right to sleep in her kennel.

I am going to do a little update of Ari soon. I will put some videos of him on here then because he is cute too.

25 Things About Me.....an idea from Facebook

1. I love politics and listening to NPR.
2. I enjoy scones and earl grey for breakfast.

3. I feel strongly about protecting the environment.
4. I don't wear shorts.
5. I despise getting up early.
7. I will always watch SNL, even during its bad years.
8. I was vegan for 10+ years.
9. I can identify most wild plants in the Pacific Northwest.

10. I hate all alcohol, except a little bit of wine.
11. I find art museums extremely inspiring.
12. I do not enjoy the beach, especially when a resort is involved.
13. If I wasn't a dietitian, I would have been a dog trainer or botanist.
14. I would gladly spend a whole day in a book store.

15. I sometimes wish I lived in Europe.
16. I am comforted from a lack of familiarity and being in new places.
17. I hope to learn Spanish, even if I have to live in South America for awhile.
18. I love long drives and am not irritated by traffic.
19. I started school in NYC as a film major.
20. I am an avid gardener and not having one now is torture
21. I have a massive chest freezer......for my dogs food.
22. I can patiently sit in front of the computer for an unnaturally long amount of time.
23. I could eat Vietnamese food everyday.

24. I love grocery shopping and reading food labels.
25. I can't function without my moleskin daily planner.
26. I prefer natural medicine to pharmaceuticals.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Teal's first day

She is such a little sweetheart!! And very bold too. Yesterday we went over to our friend's (Joy and Chris) house for some socialization and playing. Teal got plenty of both. After just a short time of being a little unsure she started playing with her 6 month old cousin Ezri. They were wrestling and chewing on each other in between Teal getting cuddled.
I hope these videos work since they are acting a little weird on my computer. I also hope that Joy and Chris don't mind being featured on the blog (can't imagine why they would).

Ezri and Teal had a lot of fun. You can hear Teal chomping her jaws if you listen closely!

Then we decided to let Curzon out to play with his sister and Teal. Curzon did not like the puppy as much as Ezri did, but they all played together. Eventually Teal ran in and started tugging with them like a brave little girl. I definitely got home with a very tired puppy.

But I had to wake her up to go to flyball practice. I forgot to take any videos while I was there (lame), but it was very good socialization for Teal. She met tons of new people and dogs, and she even got treats from a cute little girl named Lilly. Ari didn't practice again because he has a bum knee. It has not gotten better for over a month so we are worried about him. He did get to say hi to everyone there though which he loves. His favorite part of flyball is getting pets and attention from everyone. He probably couldn't care less about actually playing flyball.

Teal's day wasn't over quite yet though. We went over to our friend's (Kate and Jacob) house for one last introduction. They could not wait to meet her, and she seemed happy to be there. She got lots of pets and met a new dog, Guthrie.

She slept very well last night, only getting me up once to pee. I am impressed by how well she behaves in her kennel and how much she is willing to sleep. I really hope that keeps up!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

warming winter cooking

I am interrupting Ben's string of extremely cute posts to blab about food. Sorry to those expecting puppy action.

The importance of Chinese medicine (TCM) in our food choices is often overlooked, or completely out of our awareness. TCM teaches us how to choose foods that are healing to the individual. In my limited understanding of TCM, I believe that balancing the Yin and Yang and nourishing Qi and bloodis the goal. It is ideal to have a balance between hot and cold. Foods have the power to tonify, cleanse, and regulate the body.

For this meal I am focusing on Warm/Hot foods, which includes garlic and chicken. These warming foods have the medicinal functions of warming meridians, strengthening Yang, invigorating Blood, opening collateral meridians, and eliminating cold.

Foods such as winter squash, nuts, and carrots, that take longer to grow, are generally warming. Warming spices include ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, and cayenne pepper, bring blood from the center of the body to the skin.


Slow Cooker Crock Pot Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas and Apricots
adapted from a recipe from Cooks Illustrated.


  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coridander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinammon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 lemons
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 lb whole chicken, cut into parts
  • 1large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 14 ounces chopped tomatoes
  • 14 ounce cooked chickpeas
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into rounds
  • 6 ounces dried apricots
  • salt and black pepper


  1. Combine spices in small bowl and set aside. Zest lemons; combine minced garlic and mince together until reduced to fine paste; set aside.

  2. Season both sides of chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Brown chicken pieces skin side down in single layer until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second side, about 4 minutes more. Transfer chicken to large plate, peel off skin and discard. Reserve 1 tablespoon fat from pot.

  3. Heat remaining oil in same pot, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have browned at edges but still retain shape, 5 to 7 minutes. Add spice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened and very fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in broth and flour and stir until lumps are gone, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add honey and canned tomatoes and mix well.

  4. Pour the above tomato,onion & spice mix, juice of 1 lemon into slow cooker.

  5. Add chicken and chickpeas and mix well.

  6. Add carrots, apricots, making sure everything is covered with liquid

  7. Give it a gentle but good stir to mix everything together. Cook on high for about 3 to 4 hours.


Spiced Whole Wheat Couscous Pilaf with Almonds and Currants

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 navel orange, zested
1-3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dried currants
1 cup couscous
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice; more to taste

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft, about 7 minutes. Stir in the broth and zest, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the currants, cover, remove the pan from the heat, and let sit for 10 minutes so the currants can plump.

Return the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in the couscous and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape a fork through the couscous to fluff it. Add almonds and stir them into the couscous with the fork. As you stir, sprinkle on the lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately.


Maple Glazed Pumpkin Bread

1¾ cups sifted unbleached/or whole wheat all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. double-acting baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup water

Maple Glaze

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a Pyrex loaf pan, 9 by 5 by 3 inches.

Into a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.

In another bowl beat together the eggs, oil, pumpkin puree and water. Add to the flour mixture and beat until the batter is combined. Pout the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Combine maple syrup and butter and cover surface of loaf.

Bake in center of preheated oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. (Test after 1 hour and 15 minutes.) Let the bread cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes.

Combine maple syrup and butter and cover surface of loaf.

Indy does not find it amusing that Im spending so much time baking and not playing frisbee in the cold!


I went and got Teal from Chicago today. I thought it was going to be a really long day, but it wasn't that bad. I have been playing with her since we got home and now the length of the day is catching up.
I picked her up from the airport because Mike and Sharon (her breeders) we nice enough to meet me there. We played for a long time in the airport waiting for our flight. She got to meet tons of nice people and seemed to like them all. She is so cute and fluffy that everyone wants to meet her.

Finally our flight was ready to leave. I was a little apprehensive about how she would handle the flight, but she was a very polite young lady. She didn't make a peep the whole flight, but I think she may have peed in her kennel. Poor little girl! Luckily we had lots of towels in there so she didn't get too nasty. She was silent in the car too, which is a great thing.

She is acclimating very well to her new house. She has been romping all around exploring the place, but hasn't gotten into any trouble yet. She ate her dinner without any hesitation and didn't even mind when I took her food away a few times. We have also been playing a bunch with the new tug that Deborah got me for Christmas. It has a little pouch in the bottom to put treats in that makes her extra interested. Here she is really chasing it around.

She and Ari had a mostly polite meeting. He does not think that she is a cute and sweet as I do, and he let her know that right off. He hasn't been too mean to her yet, but I wouldn't put it past him. She is holding her own though, she has pounced and barked at him a few time, but he was not amused. When he was outside and she was looking at him through the door she was really growling at him- I think she forgot who she was dealing with.
She is sleeping in my lap this very minute and making me very tired. She is going to sleep in her kennel tonight, which should be interesting. Her time until now has been puntuated by pitiful crying, but she might calm down once the lights are off. I am going to let Ari sleep in the bed tonight so that he might feel a little less jealous of the puppy.
Lots more to come!!!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Unrelenting Snow on a Sunday Morning

the view front my front door and my car covered in snow

Friday, January 23, 2009

Update on Phd School, & Advice for ball dropping in flyball

For those of you that don't know about Bens educational plans, he recently finished applying to two doctorate programs in Wildlife Biology. One is at the University of Washington. The other is the University of Massachusetts, near where I live now. Both programs have benefits and issues that cause us stress.

Waiting to find out if he got in, is killing us (mainly me). We got some good (sort of) news recently. His proposed advisor at UW told him that he marked his application for acceptance. Sounds good right? Well there might not be enough money to fund Bens research and his acceptance is contingent on the money. He also heard from his proposed advisor at UMass. He made it to the top 19 candidates! We dont know how many of those will be accepted. It is nice to have some more information, but overall our future is still very uncertain.


Indigo has a lot of flyball tournaments quickly approaching. We are going to be very busy and I will have a very happy dog. If all goes according to plan Indy will be running with the same three dogs regularly.

Here is our schedule:

Jan 31st Manchester NH
Feb 14-15th Fitchburg MA
Feb 28th Manchester NH
March 21st-22nd Gettysburg PA
May 9th -10th Greenfield MA

The only training issue I have had with her has been her ball dropping issue, she does everything else exactly the way I want. She has been known to drop her ball right before the line. To deal with this problem I had always been told to hide the tug because as soon as she sees the tug, she gets too excited and drops her ball immediately.

For anyone that knows border collies or any other highly intelligent breed, it makes sense that she actually does know that the tug is there even when its hidden. Hiding the tug may have some effect to reduce excitement, but it does not trick them into thinking its not there.

I have used a couple of training techniques that have been successful that have led to definite improvements. One of them I learned from Spring Loaded flyball team in Michigan. Here is how it works: I ask her to pick up her ball and then begin running and of course she follows. While Im running I have the tug visible. If she sees the tug and drops the ball I stop running and the game is over until she picks up the ball again. She learns quickly that she can't drop the ball and grab the tug until I yell "tug!".

The other thing I do at home is throw the ball, restrain her, send her to get the ball, and then when she's on her way back Im holding the tug in her full view but up in the air so she cant reach it. When she has passed the point that I want and still holding the ball, I bring the tug down to her level and give her a big reward. I will post videos on my you tube page. http://www.youtube.com/user/taydeb06

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Teal @ 8 weeks

This is probably the last one we will see until Ben meets her at the airport on SATURDAY!!! Her lighter red tri parts are becoming more visible and her ears seem to be sticking up a little bit more. All of her litter mates have gone to their new homes and are doing very well.

Ben is very prepared for her arrival. He already signed up for puppy class at Ahimsa in Ballard and he has a lot of plans for socialization. They are going to go all over the city - to the hardware store, the nursery, Pike Place Market, Diane's farm to see sheep and other farm animals, Norms (the dog bar) and other dog friendly cafes.

She will start her flyball training right away too. The people in our flyball club in Seattle have been getting quite a few puppies lately, which means our trainers have been getting a lot of practice. I'm sure Teal's training will be amazing. Hopefully she will catch on quickly.

We are hoping that she will be more of a natural with Sheep than her sister Indigo. Her sheepdog training will most likely wait until she grows up, after she is done enjoying her puppyhood.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Still loving New England, but not enjoying the cold.....

When I said I loved New England everyone said, "just wait until the winter". I am in the middle of a New England winter and it is tough. Walking between my car and work or home is fairly painful. I think the only way I would be warm enough would be if I was wearing a ski mask and no skin was exposed to the air. If Indigo didn't need daily exercise, there is a good chance I would not venture outside much. I think I would be happier in a cozy house with a fire and not a drafty apartment. So besides the fact that being outside is extremely uncomfortable, its still beautiful and that makes it tolerable.

The Bike Path

A new bread shop in Northampton

The deli closest to my house

I am almost done with my food service management rotation. I thought I would be really excited, but Im almost sad to leave. I actually really enjoyed working at Noble Hospital, which probably was mostly related to having a really good preceptor. I learned so much from her about how to manage people and how to get things done when working with a limited budget. I am just starting to make some progress with "going green" in the kitchen, so hopefully they will continue with the work I am doing. Some of the greening projects......I am starting a water bottle/coffee mug program to minimize the use of styrofoam. I am meeting with various recycling companies to start recycling glass, plastic and aluminum. I am switching from disposable cleaning wipes to wash clothes. If I was there long enough, I think I could have started a food composting program....Food service management doesnt have to be terrible!!

After a week long visit to see Ben, Ari and my new puppy, I'll be starting my clinical rotation at Baystate Hospital.

Indy and I have a lot of flyball tournaments coming up, starting on Jan 31st. We're (I am) going for a 3.8 second time (her best is 3.9). I think she can do it!

Here is what happens when Indy plays with her new tug toy from her buddy, Amanda....

She puts it on herself like a necklace

Then she puts it on like she has headgear
Then she tries to shove the tennis ball in her mouth with the rope toy

Then she stares at me like this, looking serious and goofy and the same time. This is so funny to me for some reason. What a dork!

And then she gets bored and moves on to something else, such as a passing light or shadow. This is starting to be a major problem. Out of nowhere, she decided that she is obsessed with lights and shadows. From talking to other border collie owners, I have decided to stop this habit as quickly as possible. Crazy idiosyncratic border collies!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Doctor Shortage = Really Crappy Medical Care for Me

I know I usually blog about trips and dogs and fun stuff like that, but once in a while I feel the need to ramble and complain about other crazy things that happen......

I recently heard on the local Southern New England NPR station about the shortage of primary care doctors in this area. This factor combined with the new legislation that requires everyone in Massachusetts to have health insurance, means big problems and long waits for new patients to see a doctor.

Lately I have been feeling fatigued with muscle weakness, so I figured I should probably go to the doctor. When I went to find a doctor and make an appointment, I had that NPR story in the back of my mind. I figured I would be able to find SOMEONE that would see me. I couldn't believe that there were NO doctors taking new patients.

I spent two hours calling every MD, NP, PA, and DO (NDs aren't licensed here) within 1/2 hour drive from where I live. One doctors office asked me if I wanted to make an appointment in July!! What am I supposed to say to that? Yeah how about July 15th....I'm available that day...and whatever my health concern is will be fine until then. Calling all those doctors was very disheartening and frustrating.

I really wanted to get some lab work done and I NEEDED to get some vaccinations for my internship. So....I braved the urgent care clinic. I hate to be judgemental about the quality of care in these places, so I went with an open mind. It turned out to be a million times worse than I could have imagined! It was extremely unprofessional and I'm pretty sure they have no clue about patient privacy laws.

When I went the first time I saw a PA and told her about my situation and asked that she check my Vitamin D, ferritin, Thyroid Panel, Lyme Disease and CBC. She asked me a bunch of questions took my blood and I was on my way. I called a few days later and they "couldn't find" my lab results.

I went back to get my first Hepatitis B vaccination and a bunch of titers. While they were busy sticking me with needles, they were looking for my first set of results. When the finally found them, they reported that my Vitamin D is normal and that I'm not pregnant (the most unhelpful test they could have chosen to do by mistake). The PA that I saw on my first visit is either mentally deficient or was sleeping when she filled out the lab requisition. This PA told me that checking my ferritin was unnecessary and I didn't feel like arguing, so I'll deal with that some other time.

They didn't take enough blood for the titers to run all those labs, so they had to stick me again! A few days later I left for Portugal and then called them for my results as soon as I got back. They said everything was normal. I asked for my specific TSH lab value and then she proceeded to tell me that she didn't see it on the lab results!!!! I was so aggravated at this point! After listening to me complain, she said she would have the doctor call me. The doctor finally called me back and of course there was nothing she could say except, "come back in so we can take more blood". Ugghhh!!!! Just as we were getting off the phone, she said "Oh wait I found the TSH result".

Unfortunately today I had to go back to get my tetanus booster and have them sign my medical forms for my internship. While I'm in the waiting room, which was full of people, the receptionist yells out to ask me if I'm traveling and then he informs me and everyone else in the waiting room that the tetanus shot is going to hurt really bad and my arm will be throbbing for awhile after. The PA (different from the first two) gave me the shot....sort of. It was completely painless, almost too painless. I look down at my arm after getting the shot and saw clear liquid dripping down my arm. I'm pretty sure she didn't actually inject anything at all. As I write this, a few hours after "getting the shot" my arm is not throbbing or in any pain at all.

I wish the story was over at this point, but it continues. On my way out I gave the "doctor" my health forms and she was almost done when she realized they didn't do one of the titers I needed. Holy Shit! I said, "yeah I was expecting that". I had no other choice but to have her take more blood and wait a few more days. This time I saw the lab requisition myself, so unless she crosses it out or throws my blood out.....I should be done after this. My internship preceptor is not going to be happy about my paperwork being late!

During my visit today, the PA wanted to talk about my fatigue issues. I told her I wasn't interested in dealing with it at this clinic and would find another doctor. Many people don't have the option to wait and go to another doctor! I cant imagine what I would do if I had a serious condition and needed more care. I would be screwed!

Is it the worst of the worst that work at these Urgent Care Clinics? Do they get their degrees online? From ITT Tech or the University of Phoenix?

Here is the NPR Story........

Primary Care From The ER

Kamela Christara appears at the triage window in the emergency room at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in western Massachusetts.

The 47-year-old single mother has advanced Lyme disease, and she can't find a primary care doctor to oversee her care. She's called half a dozen practices in three towns, and none are accepting new patients. So when problems come up, even routine ones, she comes to the emergency room. Each time, she goes through her medical history with the intake nurse.

Christara is worried she'll keep getting sicker if no one doctor is tracking her health. Even her regular prescriptions come from the emergency department.

At least Christara doesn't have to pay out of pocket for this ER visit. She has the state's Medicaid insurance, which was expanded under a landmark health reform law passed in 2006. It requires all residents to have health insurance — either through a state-subsidized plan, an employer or privately bought insurance. As a result, an estimated 440,000 more people have health coverage. And they all need a primary care doctor to get into the system.

Too Many New Patients, Not Enough Doctors

"I think it's great that people have insurance," says Dr. Jacqueline Spain. "I'm wondering where they're getting their care." Spain is the medical director of the Holyoke Health Center, a busy clinic in a low-income community.

Since the reform law passed, the Holyoke Health Center has been inundated with calls from newly insured people seeking a doctor. More than 1,600 people are on its waiting list; Spain says it takes about four months to get a first appointment.

"It's entirely reasonable for somebody who's now got insurance and maybe has a whole list of things that's worried them and troubled them," Spain says. "They expect that they should be able to go out in the market and get all of that care. There just aren't enough of us to give it to them."

"We get 5 or 10 calls a week — sometimes a day — from patients who need a new doctor," says Kate Atkinson, a family doctor in nearby Amherst. "And, literally, people crying and begging to come into the practice. It's very stressful to keep saying no to people." Atkinson has become a national activist for improvements in the primary care system.

"Eighteen primary care doctors of this area have left the practice of primary care in the past two years," she says. "Someone needs to ask why."

Why Primary Care Doctors Are Leaving

One problem, she says, is money. Insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare pay less for primary care than for specialist visits. And no one pays for the time it takes to fill out paperwork, take surveys for the insurance company or write sick notes to employers.

"A urologist, in one procedure, makes more than I make in two days of seeing patients," Atkinson says.

Massachusetts Dr. Dan Levy, who left primary care for medical administration, says that's only getting worse with universal health care, since newly insured patients tend to come with a pile of saved-up complaints.

"You have someone on your hands with five separate medical problems, 15 minutes to see them. If you spend the extra half hour, you don't get paid for it, so the pressure is to refer them to a subspecialist," Levy explains. "It takes a lot of the pleasure and fun out of doing medicine."

Western Massachusetts is a rural area — the doctor shortage is more acute here than in cities like Boston. But it's a problem everywhere. In a national study released this fall by the Physicians' Foundation, 80 percent of primary care doctors called the job unrewarding; half of them plan to scale back or stop practicing within three years. At the same time, most medical students are choosing specialty tracks, like surgery.

The trend could raise the cost of health care; people without primary care doctors tend to rely more on emergency rooms and let small problems get bigger.

Massachusetts recently passed legislation to make primary care more attractive — through loan forgiveness, home buying help and better reimbursements. State Sen. Jon Scibak says the viability of health reform is at stake.

"The worst thing that can happen right now in the Legislature is inaction," Scibak says.

It won't be easy to pay for change, especially in this budget climate. Still, John McDonough says that's no reason to give up on universal health care. He was one of the architects of health reform in Massachusetts and is now an adviser to Sen. Ted Kennedy.

"What has happened is that Massachusetts health reform has put a spotlight on the workforce shortages that don't get meaningfully talked about in just about any other state," McDonough says.

In other words, Massachusetts is merely the first to take on a problem the rest of the country will soon confront — especially if more people are given health insurance.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Holiday in Portugal: Part II

We arrived in Salema in the dark to our little beachside inn. We pretty much dropped our bags and then went to one of the four restaurants in town.

Our accomodations

Ben and his sardines. In my opinion they are very unappetizing

Frances got all the bones out!

The next morning we started our tour of the Southern coast of Portugal. We went to towns called Tavira, Sagres, Faro and Lagos along the coast. It was very non-touristy and really interesting to see the active fishing villages.

The terra cotta pots are for catching octopus. They put them on the ocean floor and the octopus go in for shelter. When the fishermen pull it up the octopus sticks and then they spray bleach in the pot to get the octopus to release itself. I won't eat octopus.

Apparently in addition to tile, Portugal is known for ceramics. We found some really nice handmade/handpainted pieces for a good price.

I guess this guy doesnt fall off the cliff when he catches something

We made sandwiches in our trunk. salami, cheese and mustard.

We bought fluffy white bread from "the bread truck"


It was orange season

Cataplana. Seafood stew traditionally cooked in a copper pot. Im sure this was good, but my memory is clouded by the food poisoning that followed.

Parking the mule in the driveway after hard day of work

New Years Eve