Saturday, May 29, 2010


Ok, if ever there was a time when we need good news, it's now. May I provide you with some? Finally? Yes, its true, we have our first turtle nest of the season on our beach!

Last night, under a glorious clear & star filled sky, with the moon shining bright, she came upon the shore. She was a 44" loggerhead adult female. She came out of the sea, climbed past sea weed, through shells & sponges, up a low rolling dune, through driftwood and tree stumps, and pushed her way back into the high dune. Almost into the sea oats. Far from the tide line. She pushed driftwood and stumps out of her path... she was on a mission, and wanted to get where she wanted to get.... not by going AROUND these objects, but rather by bulldozing them out of her way.

Once she pushed the undesired objects out of her way, she dug & dug & dug, probably for hours. There, she carefully deposited her clutch of eggs, and began the painfully slow process of covering her nest with sand flung from her back flippers, then packing the sand down by thumping her body hard against the fresh nest over and over and over. When that was finished, she crawled over to her right, and created a "false nest" which is something turtles do to distract would-be predators from the actual nest. When her false nest was finished, she headed back out to sea under that same clear & star filled sky, with a moon so bright it looked like dawn.

She will never come back to this beach to care for her babies, nor will she ever see them. Their fate is unknown to her, but she has done her job, and done it well.

The nest has been surveyed, and calculations done for the projected hatching. It's very well hidden, in an area not traveled by people, with no homes in the immediate area either. Its dark, very dark, where she has chosen to place this nest. Its a perfect spot.

Nature knows what is best, I'm sure of it. If only mankind would finally respect that fact.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Unexpected Pleasures

Oh crap. Blogging confounds me. I was doing an entry, and it just disappeared. Its not in drafts, its not in new. Its just gone. The universe is telling me it didn't like my post, so let's have another go at it, shall we?

My travels on my road here are frequent. I drive, bicycle, walk, and run on this road. There's always something new to see. When I walk, bike or run, of course its common sense I observe more. Today brought another run, but due to chores and obligations, I didn't get out on the street til after 6. I saw a snake (trust me, he was not scary at all), 2 fawns (one of which actually attempted to follow me, it was pretty funny), and was treated to multiple songbird serenades. The thing that caught my attention the most today though was what I've posted as a photo here. I think its some type of wild honeysuckle. It was all the way up near the north end of the street. It was not in bloom just a few short days ago on my last run.

What actually got my attention first on this plant was fragrance. I ran past it and smelled an overwhelming scent. Maybe it was intensified by the time of day (sunset was approaching, and the air was heavy with dampness). This crazy flowery fragrance I smelled triggered a memory from at least 35 years ago, maybe more. I was with my then best friend walking in in the woods. We came upon a huge honeysuckle bush. She showed me how to pick the honeysuckle flower, pull the stem out and taste the nectar. We were at that bush for a while, crazy kids, sniffing the hundreds (thousands?) of flowers and savoring that nectar.

So, 30 some odd years later, here I am running on a street 1800 miles from those woods when I smell that same smell. It took only a moment to find the source of that sweet air. The smell is almost identical to the honeysuckle memories of that day with my friend in the woods. The flowers look so different though, as do the leaves, but there's no doubt, its honeysuckle. The little spiky things stick waaaaay out, and overall the flower looks completely different from what I would expect to see. I think its spikes look like cat's whiskers, wouldn't you agree? There were no bees buzzing around the moment I was there (thankfully!) and it was quite an unexpected surprise to find this bush right here on my street.

I didn't pull any flowers off to see if it was the same type of nectar inside. I realize now that nectar isn't for me, its for the animals who need it to reproduce, survive & thrive. I did, however, take the time to abandon the run for a few minutes to really savor the fragrance, and think of that memory from so many years ago.

Unexpected pleasures. Just another day in Paradise.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Still OK

Time marches on. Sadly, not much has changed with the status of the oil gusher in the Gulf since I last posted. Its spewing more than any official agency will publicly acknowledge, that much I believe. Here in the Keys, preparations are ongoing for whatever may come. We are still OK. No oil is here, the weather is spectacular, and quite a few of our guests have made it out to the living reef in the last several days for some stellar snorkeling.

Over the weekend I managed a weaselly 4 mile run. I was running once again in the heart of the day. The heat was just too much for the extra mile, or a bike ride to cap it off.

We're in the process of securing more HAZWOPER training here, "just in case." Our best public source of information remains which has daily updates published by our Tourist Development Counsel. All agencies down here are being as proactive as possible, with the shared mission of getting the truth out.

I just want to make sure anyone reading this knows what the current status is, and where to get reliable information.

I saw 5 baby deer on my street this afternoon. Five gorgeous teeny endangered baby Key deer. Each time I see a bird, animal, fish, or even the scary bug that landed on me last night when I was about to walk in my house after dark, its a reminder to be vigilant, not waiver from our mission to protect life and land. We're on the case.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Breathe, Just Breathe

We love Deer Run B&B. We love the Florida Keys. We love the ocean, the sky, the moon and the stars. We love the nature that surrounds us, and we will stand firm to protect it.

With the oil in the Gulf spilling, misinformation spills as well. These are the facts as pertain to our beloved Florida Keys, facts as we know them right now. Media has reported tar balls first in Key West, then other locations in the lower Keys. This all happened relatively late afternoon (for the lower Keys and for us) yesterday. We here at Deer Run are volunteers for something call Coast Watchers. We have an assigned beach to inspect daily and look for anything relating to oil, and then provide data on line regarding the daily status. Who eventually gets the data? I'm not sure, but I surmise it makes its way to Coast Guard at some point.

Tar balls reported to us as Coast Watchers, as well as those found by us, were marked with GPS. Reports were filed with BP, the DEP and the United States Coast Guard. Specimens were collected by the USCG, and sent for DNA analysis. Those results are pending. The tar balls found in Key West are NOT associated with the Deepwater Horizon spill. I do not know where they ARE from. They could be from an opportunistic dumper or dumpers (hard to wrap your head around that one, but its possible). They could be from freighters, cruise ships, fishing vessels, as well as other scenarios. Nothing is being ruled out, and intensive investigations are underway, as well as testing for the recent discoveries. We were verbally advised that the tar balls discovered in our area are visually virtually identical to those found in Key West.

The best, and most often updated site for the entire Florida Keys is to be found at Our Tourist Development Counsel is updating the info on the spill daily at that link.

Currently, there are massive planning efforts going on down here to prepare for any possibility. This includes training in handling of hazardous materials, wildlife issues, wildlife cleaning, coast watching, water sampling, Coast Guard and Navy gathering materials that may be needed, and more.

Here at Deer Run, we are certified wildlife paraprofessionals as a result of our volunteerism with endangered sea turtles. As a result of the spill, we have both already secured the necessary certifications which will be required in order for us to work with sea turtles who encounter oil IF that happens. That has NOT happened as of now. We are also securing additional certifications to be able to assist with oil clean up, IF necessary.

The media sometimes does not report things accurately, and there was a lot of speculation along with flat out wrong information put out there when the tar was discovered in Key West. Once the DNA results were available early this morning, it was a very loud reminder we MUST keep a calm head. We must prepare, but we must not panic.

We want to tell you that your supportive communications to us mean a lot to us here. Once you've visited the Keys, you find your heart is different forever, for the better. is a website which has information for potential volunteers for the State of Florida. Also, right now the Gulf needs volunteers. I am confident some simple "google" searches will provide some good information for anyone who is considering volunteering in that region.

Many places down here are offering discounts for hair cuts, then shipping the hair out as boom material. Pet groomers are doing the same. Perhaps you could check in your hometown for something like that, or even organize something yourself.

Tonight, I want to tell you to breathe, just breathe. Any way you can send energy for healing, courage and guidance for all involved with this spill, please do so. How you do that doesn't matter, but THAT you do it does matter.

More to follow.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Running a B&B with your live in partner is not for the faint of heart. You live together, you work together, you fight together, and you love together. Its got its ups and downs. One thing I have learned in being here with my other half is that you've really got to love one another. Often times we're all we've got, and we need to stick together.

Yesterday was the Keys 100 run. The run is choice of a 50 mile run, a 100 mile team relay, or a 100 mile ultra marathon over the Overseas Heritage Trail (that's fancy talk for Route 1). I didn't go out yesterday, but he did. When he returned, he told me about the runners with their support teams in cars....signs & decorating all over them, as well as a few aid stations scattered in the miles he drove. We were out last year during an ultra down here, watching the runners, their support teams, etc. I cannot imagine the demons that must lurk inside for someone to tackle that run. Although its not for me, you may recall I am doing some running these days (albeit not on such a grand scale). I wanted to run on Friday but it was too hot. By the time I get out on the asphalt its usually mid-afternoon. The time "they" tell you not to "lie in the sun, exercise" or do anything "too strenuous."

Since I'm not about to scratch the hours of 11-4pm off my daily agenda, I go with the flow. Saturday's flow brought about just under a 5 mile run. It was typically hot.

I began my run not striving for anything too quick, my goal was to finish. I do not run with water, its just too annoying. I'm managing to see some interesting things, but no people. No one is out walking, running or pretty much even driving. I think all the smart people are home. I am, however, thinking about those 100-milers as I'm pushing on. My mind wanders here and there as I keep my pace, but I'm really regretting not having water with me today. I've run the miles all the way up the street, done my turn around, and am now well into the return mileage when I see a car that looks a lot like my own coming up the street, its hazards flip on as it does a U-turn about 1/8 mile in front of me and pulls over. Out pops my other half! He slaps a sign on the back of the car then just sits and waits for me. As I'm almost upon the car, he reaches in and pulls out a water bottle for me! Sweet Mercy! On the back of my car the sign he's placed has my name with a message just for me. It was actually hilarious. He lets me take a few sips, then gets into the car, turns on the stereo full blast, and begins "pacing"me with the car, just like those 100-milers on Route 1. I'm almost laughing too hard to run, but not quite. I toss the water bottle in the car, and begin running again, this time at a real runner's level. He's pacing me quickly, pushing me pretty hard to get it done. He's smiling as I'm out there running next to my car with the flashers on/stereo blasting. In between a few of those steps, I feel so good I do a happy dance, then get back to the business of my run. He paced me about one mile before leaving me to finish. Maybe that doesn't seem like much, but on this unshaded asphalt road, when I'm doing more than 3 miles, it IS a lot.

That seemingly benign gesture, something no one else would think of doing for me, is really the kind of thing that keeps us together in good times and in bad.

If you're ever thinking of going into business with your significant other, make sure its with someone who'd put the TIVO on hold, bring you some water and pace you with your favorite music on a 5 mile run in 90 degree heat, ok?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


They've come upon the local shores and made their nests. Turtles! There are now 4 nests in the lower Keys, as well as several false crawls. The most exciting part of all this is that one of the nests may be a Green. They are on the endangered list, and are B-I-G! When they come up to nest, its like a bomb went off... they dig and throw sand all over the place, you really gotta see it to believe it. Well, I've only had the privilege to see them in pictures so far, I've never seen a Green turtle nest. There was a Green at Bahia Honda State Park last year.... first ever. It made the front page of the newspaper, its that rare to happen, and that important.

So, the turtles are out there and coming in. The sex of the hatchlings depends on the incubation temperature of the eggs, isn't that an amazing fact? The calculations are in progress for all these nests as to when the anticipated hatch dates should be. By mid-summer we would hope to start seeing some hatched nests, with all the new babies going out to sea to begin the rest of their life. My goal this year is to see a nest hatch. You cannot intrude at all, and you cannot go out there with flashlights. You've got to have a special light so as not to disorient the babies. White lights will draw the hatchlings to it, instead of them going to sea. While I hope to see a nest hatch, and will be checking on nests as part of my obligations for Save-A-Turtle of the Florida Keys, if I missed all the hatches, yet knew they made it to sea, I would be satisfied. The fact is, I just want turtles to survive. In other parts of the world, people still poach them illegally, and eat them. In fact, in certain parts of the world, people are allowed to take turtle eggs, a vast amount actually, for food. I've seen pictures of this occurring, it defies description. The photos are deeply disturbing. However, here we are now to celebrate. The turtles are swimming around out there, and nesting on the beaches of our beautiful lower Keys. They're here! Yes, this IS cause for celebration!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Another beautiful day in paradise, that sums up today.

I woke up to the sun not quite risen, yet the sky was brightening. I looked over and saw 3 fuzzy faces in varying states of upside down (yes, 3... Aggie is separated for a few days, I'll explain in another entry). They stretched. I stretched. We got out of bed pretty much the same time. Its nice this time of year. I like it much better than in wintertime when I wake up in the pitch black, which continues while I'm baking and cooking... feels like the middle of the night when that happens.

By the time breakfast was ready and over, I had decided I was going to take a break. I walked out the back door to investigate my garden and see what's going on out there. My amaryllis is in full bloom for the 2nd time in as many weeks. Its the first blooms since it was given to me about 4 years ago. Its beautiful. On my way back through the garden, I stopped at some orchids also in bloom. I can smell them over the fence in my driveway, they're that fragrant. As long as I leave them alone, they do fine. I try not to mess with things in the garden very much. I have what I call a black thumb. When I was a member of a gardening club up north, I used to take a fair amount of ribbing for my "what died in the garden this time" stories. They were frequent. The key to successful gardening in my world is to leave well enough alone.

So, now I've investigated my garden, I'm about to go back in the house when I see a newborn fawn on the property. I watch her for a while, she's new here and she's pretty nervous. I watch from upstairs, I won't make any effort at all to go near her, its for her own well being. Finally, I'm back in the house. Chores beckon, I'm making a half-hearted effort, but I'm not in the mood to work. Instead, I go back outside, this time onto the beach. The tide is coming in. Its really interesting, sometimes the tide comes in very quietly, but other times, I'll be sitting out back, hear a pretty loud "whoosh" and the tide begins rushing in. Its when I hear that "whoosh" I stop and watch as long as I can. Its beautiful. So now I'm watching the tide come in, and taking note of all the things running around. There's teeny crabs popping up out of holes in the sand, small and large shore birds standing in the water fishing, bees & dragonflies swirling around, and lots of birds offshore flying high in the sky. During my reflection, a very large helicopter flew by too, then a few minutes later I saw a small private plane buzzing low across the ocean checking out the view. Pretty cool view at that I would imagine. There's boats scattered about too, they sparkle against the vivid turquoise of the water. All this happens as I sit lazily under the shade of a rustling coconut palm tree.

Now I'm back inside the house for more chores.... things are plodding along, but I'm just not feeling work today. I go outside to check the mail. Lo and behold the current issue of Vegetarian Times arrives, and Deer Run B&B is in it. Nice, check it out, and you also get a recipe of ours. I think I'll talk more about that in a later post too. So I sit on my porch with a fresh fruit smoothie reading my magazine. Work is calling... I really must get something accomplished.

I get inside, finish chores as best I can, and then pop the cork on some sparkling wine. I take it back on the porch as I prepare tomorrow's menu board. A couple glasses later I've decided the work day is done, and I head to the back of the house to watch the sunset as a huge fireball in the sky. As night begins to descend, I go back onto the beach to watch the palm trees become silhouettes against the night sky. I love when the sky is just light enough to make everything else around look like looming black shifting shapes.

As I settle in for the night, I am profoundly grateful that I really do live in Paradise.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Oil Spill Info

Depending on where you live, you are getting varying degrees of media coverage regarding the Gulf oil spill. As I write this, the containment "dome" continues to be lowered into place, and by approximately Sunday there will be more information on whether or not this effort to begin to contain the spill is effective. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, we're getting a lot of questions as there is a lot of misinformation out there. Currently, there is no oil in the Florida Keys. The Monroe County Tourist Development Council has set up a link on their main web page for up-to-date information on the spill. To see that link, go to and click the very prominent "oil spill info" button.

Down here, local government has mobilized and is preparing for what may come. There are a lot of people ready to volunteer if the need arises, and efforts are being made to coordinate trainings for cleaning (both animal and environmental) that may be needed. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, this community is tight, and fantastic. We will stand side by side as we face what may, or may not, be. Please hold good thoughts for the Florida Keys and all people, creatures and plants (including our living coral reef) who dwell within its beauty. Please keep the people of the Gulf region close at heart. This is a terrible disaster on so many levels, blame can be placed we must all focus on helping those who need it, as well as helping those who may be in the path of the oil to prepare.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

First Fawn

In the midst of things going from bad to worse in the Gulf, I have feelings of utter despair. I admit it, when I woke up today I sat there and thought "I do not want to get up today." I wanted to stay in bed, sulk and cry, have arguments in my head about the people who have wrought havoc to such natural beauty. Instead, I got out of bed because I had to work.

It was not an easy morning, emotionally, for me. Hiding my ever growing panic over the spill is something necessary in this job, so I did what I needed to and got through the morning. I continued my chores, but by late morning realized I had need for some serious anger management. I changed into running clothes, slapped on some sunscreen and bolted out the back door into the high heat of the day for a run.

I'm not a runner, I never was. I do not feel my life will be incomplete if I do not evolve into a distance runner. However, I've been working on getting to the next level with physical fitness, and it was suggested I start running. So, I have.

I always start with the small loop to the left of my house, its about 1/2 mile round trip from here to the dead end, back to my driveway. I hit a decent pace and am shocked that by mile one I feel that this run is almost effortless... I've never felt that way before while running. The whole time my thoughts are toggling back and forth between "why is this run seeming so easy" to "why is this oil spill happening," and finally "what is to become of our beloved planet." The miles (that's plural) start to peel off. I do not even feel winded. I'm on asphalt with no shade whatsoever, now absolutely drenched in sweat but feeling like I can keep going.... then I saw her, right there in the scrub of an empty lot. A newborn Key deer fawn. I couldn't believe my eyes. I saw her standing there, very wobbly, looking at me, a curious stare coming my way from her brown eyes. I stopped to observe, and saw she began to take a few tentative steps towards me. I backed away slowly. I did not want her to feel comfortable with me and especially did not want her to feel comfortable with the road. As I backed away a few yards, she stopped coming towards me. When she stopped, she let out a little cry (the cries of fawns can be surprisingly loud, and to me sound almost human baby-like), then curled up in the grass behind the weeds. She was so small I couldn't really even see her over the top of the weeds (which were only the height I'd say of about a tall dandelion). I stood there and thought about what I was seeing. I thought about what is happening in the Gulf, and likely going to come our way....and started to cry. I'm not sure why I was crying, so many emotions were whirling inside me. I stood there and made an out loud promise to that newborn fawn that I would work past despair and mobilize to do whatever needs to be done when the time comes to protect life and land down here.

I will not fail our planet Earth, I will not fail the key Deer, the osprey, the ibis, the sea turtles, the lizards, the dragonflies, nor the waters and plants that give shelter, food and life to all that surrounds me here. I am convinced that newborn fawn was a sign, sent to kick start me past this horrible despair, and actually act when "it" comes here. I cannot say that I'm ready, how can someone ever be ready for such work, but believe me when I say this: I will not stand alone on the front lines, my community will be working side by side, and we will do everything we possibly can for these helpless, innocent, victims and our beautiful Mother Earth.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


While I will not dwell on the oil spill unfolding in the Gulf, it seems even more ridiculous if I were to ignore the reality of what simply is.

I live in the beautiful Florida Keys. What brought me here essentially is simply what exists out my front door. Natural beauty. Animals, several classified as endangered or threatened. The Atlantic Ocean on one side of me, the Gulf of Mexico to my other side, both giving salty fresh air. Beaches. Fish. Turtles. Birds. Flowers and trees. Sea grasses and dune grasses. Life and amazing living things that exist no where else in the world. Its right here for us to see and experience. Almost everything down here is dependent on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean in one way or another.

I share feelings of despair, horror, disbelief and fear watching things go from bad to worse on so many levels off the coast in Louisiana. I am not here to discuss my feelings on how this occurred.... it has happened, and now must be dealt with in hopes of limiting environmental and economic losses. There are several wildlife refuges in that coastal region that are imminent and immediate victims of this disaster. Living within those refuges are hundreds of species now in peril. There are people, plants and animals who survived Hurricane Katrina, but have not or will not survive this catastrophe.

We are surrounded by marine biologists and other environmental experts in the area I live. I listen very carefully when they speak. It would be a lie if I said I was anything else but flat out terrified by what I hear.