Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Does It Take?

I am angry today. Angry at ignorance. Angry at injustice. Angry at violence. Angry at huge agri-business and corporations who put profits above the health & safety of people and animals. Angry at people who live and breathe, yet have lost their soul. Angry at lying governments, and angry at myself.

I finally watched "The Cove." I knew what it was about long ago. I consciously decided "I cannot watch it" and denied myself the information the movie would help me acquire. Until now.

I've seen more animal rights movies than I wish. I read books, magazines and online information focused on green living, animal rights, human rights, ecological concerns, health & wellness, and more. I liked to think I was fairly educated on topical events. I stand corrected, because after last night, the bomb has been dropped on me that I live in denial of too many things, and turned my head away from distasteful atrocities lockstep with the majority of the world.

The Cove is an Academy Award winning documentary that exposes a terrible slaughter that occurs in Taiji, Japan every year beginning September 1. "Fisherman" (I use that term here only because its the term used in the movie) trap tens of thousands of dolphins in a cove hidden from public view. After some dolphins are chosen and purchased for entertainment parks, the remainder of the cetaceans are brutally slaughtered. All of them are violently killed by hacking, stabbing, slashing and torture. The babies, the adults, none are left alive. Nothing could have prepared me for what happens in that cove, the brutality of it, the violence, the senselessness and injustice. The water runs pure red at day's end. And then it all happens again the next day, the next, and the next for months. Its sickening.

In addition to the dolphin slaughter, the movie exposes a conspiracy within that countries' government about mislabeling dolphin meat as other meat. Dolphin meat is not safe for consumption, it is highly contaminated with mercury. Ingesting dolphin meat results in mercury poisoning, but it takes years for the poisoning to occur. So, in Japan, people are buying meat that is really dolphin, but labeled as something else. In the future, there will be a health crisis never seen before due to mass ingestion of mercury laced dolphin meat that people don't even know they are eating.

As I was watching the movie, I began to realize more and more that despite my prior belief I was more enlightened, I am not. I became angry at myself. I must live a life with more consciousness, and will find more ways to better aid animals in need, to better heed the call to be a voice for the voiceless.

I'm not sure what lies ahead because of my shift in thinking, but I am not alone. The other happy vegan here who already tends to be quite a bit more outspoken than me seems to have also decided more involvement is crucial for him as well. At the very least, I will no longer say "I cannot watch that, read that or listen to that" when an opportunity to learn important information exists.

I feel like a small step has been taken by us here in the establishment and success of our business. Deer Run Bed & Breakfast is a vegan inn, run by vegans, promoting a vegan lifestyle. We expect respect of this lifestyle from all that pass through our doors. In return, guests experience an oasis of peace, and an opportunity to learn about being vegan, in a non-hostile, non-confrontational environment.

Once you learn something, it cannot be unlearned. Ignorance is not bliss. The slap in the face I received in the form of a movie called The Cove was long overdue in my life. I'm grateful to everyone who had a part in that movie, and the continued work being done to end the slaughter. I have some new heroes in my life now.

Today is September 1. The slaughter is scheduled to resume today.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Its not all roses and sunshine with turtle nesting. Tragically, a nest was stricken by animal predators last night. Upon today's morning turtle walk, the discovery of the stricken nest was made. Although an immediate excavation was done in hopes that perhaps somehow there were survivors stuck in the nest, there were none. It will be impossible to ever know if any of the hatchlings made it to sea alive. We documented everything as directed by FWC, and they will probably do necropsies as they see fit, plus study the photos. We also provided them with as much information as possible about the physical characteristics of the nest, perhaps that will help the biologists learn more too.

The site was profoundly upsetting, and we are deeply saddened by the loss. I guess I'm supposed to accept this as part of a greater circle of life, so why doesn't that comfort me?

Not all threats sea turtles face lurk within their ocean home.

I guess I felt you should know what happened, since we've been waiting together for this hatch. There's a few more nests which will become due in the near future. Hold good thoughts for those babies; they need all the help they can get.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Birthday (times 92)

We've had another hatch. On the full moon this week (Tuesday) another loggerhead nest hatched. There were 88 hatchlings that made their way out on their own, plus 4 that were stuck in the nest, trapped under rocks & roots. These 4 were obviously exhausted, and not fit to set to sea upon excavation. After they were gently uncovered from their entrapments, they were taken up to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida. Just so happens on that same day, we went to tour the Turtle Hospital again. They offer tours daily, we've been through them too many times to count. Each time we go, something new is learned, and its truly a wonderful experience. There are some sad stories, but we remain focused on the good that is going on there, plus the miraculous impact they have on helping sea turtles survive.

If you go to their website (, you can meet many of the residents through pictures and stories of their rescues. There is also a tank cam, where you can see turtles swimming through the salt water pool (I'm watching it as I type right now actually).

I realize I talk about turtles often on this blog, and in my life actually. The more I learn about them, the more I continue to be moved by their plight. Further, despite odds so incredibly stacked against them, they are the poster children for persistence and hope. They simply never give up. I think about them when I have my own challenges and difficulties to overcome, and am inspired.

The 4 hatchlings that were stuck under roots and large rocks are almost certain to do well at the hospital. After they have some free meals and naps as hospital patients, they'll be given a free boat ride (also courtesy of the hospital) to the saragassum weed line a few miles out. There they'll be released and wished well. Anyone associated with the Turtle Hospital is to be commended for their part in the process of helping save sea turtles. This also goes to all the donors who provide money, equipment and other support to the hospital. They cannot survive without the charity giving of those who care.

We've got another nest due to hatch, and I'm looking forward to the day when again we'll find hundreds of tiny tracks flowing out to sea. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Road Trip, Road Run & Road Food

There's something wrong with anyone who doesn't love a good road trip. From the day I secured my driving license, there's been something magical about the words "road trip." For me, I hope the magic will be there until I die.

We had a road trip recently, part of which took us to Ft. Lauderdale, and a dinner at Sublime. If you haven't been there, put it on your "must do" list, really. Its vegan dining at its best. The decor is absolutely divine, the food marvelous, and the service has always been just wonderful every time we've gone. For me, any contemplated road trip is worked out as best as possible to include a stop at Sublime. I wish I could name names, but my bad I suck at remembering names. Our bartender was again super, as was our server. And, as usual, the owner Nanci stops by to greet EVERY patron, checking up on things. One thing not yet mentioned.... Sublime is operated with the entire net proceeds going to animal charity. You read that right, the ENTIRE profit margin goes to animal charity. Any time I hear stuff like that, a part of me thinks maybe the planet isn't doomed after all, thanks in part to people like Nanci and everyone associated with her restaurant supporting her stellar cause. Thanks gang at Sublime (insert huge yum here!)

That covers "road trip." Next stop: "road run."

I'm back in the game for running. I took almost 2 weeks off, that nagging muscle pull. It's still lingering, I'm very annoyed by this. Being fed up with the nonsense of pain while resting (which seemed to accomplish nothing), I barged back into boot camp PLUS running. Every day. Running. Every Day. Did I mention RUNNING.... EVERY DAY. I've realized if I only run a few miles every day, I don't limp as badly the final stretch. An even worse downside exists than the muscle pull; in the last 2 days, I've been "caught" doing air guitar while running, dancing while running, and worse of all.... singing while running. When those earbuds are plugged in, I really tend to forget how ghastly quiet the road is. Voices carry, especially an out of tune voice belting out the (I'm so sure) wrong words to funky soul OR the worst of the worst.... singing a guitar solo (don't lie, you KNOW you've sung a guitar solo or 2 in your time). I about died when a contractor's van passed me mid-air guitar. I must've looked absolutely ridiculous. Thankfully I did not have my Blue Angels shirt on, so didn't disgrace their good name. I hope I'll never see that van again, but odds are not stacked in my favor on that one.

Last "road" topic is "road food." Of course, my road trips are totally planned around food, which includes Sublime in Ft. Lauderdale, and a stop at our friend Jose's amazing restaurant in Plantation Key called The Spanish Garden. Although not a vegan stop, Jose' has a sandwich he make not on the menu. Don't forget this.... NOT ON THE MENU. Its a divine totally veg concoction of baby greens, avocado, tomatoes, roasted peppers, etc. on beautiful bread with his home made vinaigrette. Best vinaigrette I've ever had, and I know vinaigrette. Unfortunately, I misplanned the trip up, and he was closed the day we headed out of town (INSERT BIG FROWN HERE). Happily, he was open on the way back down, so road food ended on a happy note. Road food also included multiple stops at Whole Foods (DAIYA! SHEESE! VEGAN DONUTS!) as well as discovering a Swiss Bakery which makes some of the best vegan bread I've ever had. Yes, road food was covered.

I'll be out there again with my air guitar. Trust me on this: ridiculous doesn't matter.

Friday, August 13, 2010

True Story

Myself and the other happy vegan here were driving on Big Pine today for errands. Being that it was a gorgeous Friday (lucky Friday the 13th) afternoon on the heels of a rainy week, traffic was pretty heavy. We were sitting at the 1 and only traffic light on the island waiting in a chain of cars to turn on US1. As we're sitting in traffic, I happened to catch a glimpse of something moving near the bike path. Upon closer inspection I saw that it was a VERY large land crab. He was walking off the grassy area into the shoulder of the road, and heading for the traffic intersection. Cars were whizzing by every which way. The lane to my right had cars coming up for right hand turns. The cars on US1 were making frequent left turns... which is the direction Mr. Crabby was heading. I scrambled in the car looking for a shovel (I used to carry a shovel all the time when I lived in the cold zone, mostly for snow, but heck you never know when else you'll need a shovel....) It doesn't snow here, I guess that was a reflex reaction. I didn't have a shovel to help Mr. Crabby cross the road. I had a Dixie cup, that's it. I grabbed the cup which was about the size of a thimble compared to my soon to be heaven-bound friend, and dashed into traffic. Cars are still seriously everywhere, stopped, turning, driving straight through. I had about less than 20 seconds before the light would turn green and our lane would begin moving. I ran to the first car in line, hit the pavement, and saw Mr. Crabby sitting under the car. There was absolutely nothing I could do. Nothing. Cars were still whizzing by, and now I'm lying on the asphalt. I ran back to my car; within seconds the light turned green.

We began to move with traffic. Both of us in the car were upset, convinced Mr. Crabby was going to be pancake crabby in seconds. As the traffic began to move, Mr. Crabby dashed out from the first car in line and began running to the other size of the road to finish his adventure. As we were completing our turn onto US1, I turned around to get a final glimpse of Mr. Crabby hoping to see that he really did make it across. Not only did he make it across, as I was watching, I saw Mr. Crabby raise his claw and flip off the row of cars. I swear, this is a true story. Mr. Vegan saw it too. This "signal" is something I don't think I've seen since I moved down here. It took the animal kingdom to remind me about this driving tool, crucial if you live in, or near, any city, parkway, turnpike, thruway, or other idiot-prone driving area. Obviously, Mr. Crabby feels the same way about US1.

Hooray for Mr. Crabby. I love the Florida Keys.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy Buddha...Rejected!

Another day in Paradise. We had some rough weather the last couple days, lots of windswept rain. Incredibly, it began to brighten last night, just about 1 hour before a wedding was to take place on our beach. Perfect timing that's for sure. Two people, young and so in love, openly proclaiming their love and fidelity to the Universe in front of the gleaming Atlantic ocean, complete with Key deer, and of course, Peri. Its always a privilege to witness such an important event, and we wish the new Mr. & Mrs. the very best life has to offer as they move forward together with this next chapter in their lives.

The weather, coupled with my very annoying muscle pull, has pushed me into the kitchen for long hours. I have experimented with close to one dozen new recipes of late, some were catastrophic failures, while others were surprisingly wonderful. It got me to thinking about something which I filed under a "c'est la vie" category, but will share with you.

I mentioned a while ago that Deer Run was featured in Vegetarian Times May/June issue, and we were. I'm actually so proud of that. The article was about vegetarian inns, and only 4 inns were in the article, Deer Run being one of them. There was a lovely photo, a very short blurb about us, then a recipe which I had submitted. Its interesting what goes on behind the scenes so to speak. I was contacted by VT months before the issue. Truth be told, I was thisclose to ignoring the call. First, part of me didn't believe it was really them (seriously, I've been a subscriber for close to 20 years!) Secondly, they wanted a recipe and I was reluctant to share. With a little help from another innkeeper who smacked some sense into me (thanks Dina at The White Pig in Schuyler, VA) I released one of my most popular recipes, called "Happy Buddha" frittata. This photo showcases the Buddha, which I typically serve with organic, fair trade coffee, tea, an organic fruit or chocolate muffin, and juice (take note, an English muffin strikingly similar to those implicated in the flash fire incident I wrote about in an earlier post is also shown in this photo).

At first I was informed my recipe was great, but when push came to shove, they re-contacted me and I was bluntly told their taste testers "couldn't get excited" by my recipe. I was honestly stunned. They asked for a different recipe, basically anything but what I submitted. I'll tell you, I took this personally. I cook from the heart, I bake from the soul. Literally when I prepare food for others, from garden to table I am infusing it with love and care. To be told that something which I have prepared hundreds of times and watched over and over be so thoroughly enjoyed, was instead sub-par, hit me below the belt. After I gathered myself, I submitted another one of my most popular recipes, a muffin called "Compassionate Cranberry Burst Citrus Muffins." I submitted it with its proper name, as well as the fact that virtually every ingredient is organic in this recipe (which of course held true for Happy Buddha). By the time the mag went to print, the title was altered, and "organic" was stricken from the ingredients. Its again another time where I feel someone just "doesn't get it." What we do here IS different. That's the point. It DOES matter if something is organic, or not. It tastes different, its different in our bodies, and its different for our planet. Its important, and Deer Run wants itself aligned with this important difference which so many people DO recognize as important and valuable.

Perhaps I'm overly sensitive, that may very well be true. If we are overly sensitive here, its only because we pour our hearts, souls and everything we have into what we offer. Our goal here isn't JUST to be a wonderful B&B. Our goal here is to be an example for sustainability in this industry. The thought, effort, personal energy expended, and investment is extensive in everything we do here, the food is no exception. I am sensitive to the fact that the word "organic" is deleted from a recipe that's offered at Deer Run, because aside from love being the most important ingredient, organic is the next most important.

I do hope you enjoyed the May/June VT edition, but when you make my recipe featured in the mag, please make sure you buy organic, think happy thoughts while preparing them, and speak softly as they bake... they too may be overly sensitive, LOL.

Friday, August 6, 2010

It figures

A couple of weeks ago I was running and felt a sharp jab in a muscle,which almost took me down instantly. I couldn't believe it... wasn't doing anything different or unusual, there really was no reason for the pull, it was just not there 1 second, and there the next. I was about 2 miles into a run when it happened. I tried to press on, the goal that day was a full 5, but it was all I could do to get back home limping. I rested a couple days and on the third day did almost 12 miles on the bike instead of running. The first 5 were pretty good, but then the pain slowly began to build. I made it through, but paid the price with pain for a few more days. It was during this time period that I broke down and got an iPod. Never thought I'd have one. I've resisted it (you know that) for many reasons. I enjoy the running (as much as I can enjoy slogging through with a heat index often pushing 100) in silence, watching the birds, and hearing an occasional "sploish sploish" in the Bight next to the road when fish are jumping. I see so many things. But, this injury frustrated me, I felt like I was slipping on my progress. I needed something to kick it up a notch so to speak. Enter the iPod.

I finally felt well enough to do 3 miles this past week. I had my iPod with me, and I ran. I turned in one of my best times in years, incredible! I was so happy. I planned on 3 miles, but went for 4.25 and shaved so much time of my regular run I was astounded. Pain? Some, however, I transcended it through the music and never felt I was at risk for re-injury. I shut the iPod off for about 1/2 mile just to re-visit the silence. I saw a white crowned pigeon too.

So, what's my point today? Well, the it figures comes in here. My plan was 5 miles today. I went outside this morning to pick up a few thing scattered on the beach, and as I was tossing them in a trash can on my deck, I slipped. I caught myself before hitting the deck (literally) but not before twisting in some bizarre way so that my same muscle pulled so badly I couldn't walk for a moment. I stood there frozen in place. I tried to take a step and electricity shot through part of my leg, into the low back. After a few moments I was able to hobble up the steps, and collapse into the bed where I stayed for almost 1 hour. I cannot believe this, but I cannot run. I cannot bike. I cannot do anything of relatively high intensity, its too painful. Even walking is an issue. Who would've thunk it?

If I wanted to be a couch potato, no problem, I'd probably be just fine. The original injury occurred while running (supposed to benefit my body, not harm it), and keeps flaring up either while running, biking, or even in a training session (yes, that happened too while attempting a lateral jump over a weight bench being coached by my trainer). I'm so frustrated by this.

So, what will I do today? I am going to find solace in my kitchen and attempt to veganize 2 more recipes. Its a gorgeous sunny day outside. My iPod is loaded with favorite songs to carry me to my under 10 minute mile, and my sneakers are sitting here taunting me. I suppose the iPod can be used in the kitchen as well as on the asphalt. Although, I have to say, it figures.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Baby Turtle Tracks!

Time flies when you're having fun! Like it or not, we're into August. Personally, I LOVE IT! August is my favorite month, at least it was when I lived in the cold zone. August is the heart of the summer. It was always the first week of August I took vacation, without fail. Living here, maybe its not so much my favorite month anymore, but only because the weather is splendid year round. I no longer will dwell on the fact there's only "x" days left until September, which is my least favorite month (or very close to it).

Anyway, here we are in August. So much happened in July, it became a blur. My posts don't come as frequent as I'd like sometimes as often I'm waiting on a photo. Such is the case with today's post. I was waiting on a photo. Look and see, this is a picture of MY NEST! Yes, the nest I discovered and wrote about on my June 7th entry hatched this week past. 98 hatchlings burst out. I was torn on which picture to post, the one showing the excavation, or the one showing the turtle tracks. Turtle tracks won out! Look at all those teeny tiny marks, each one is a hatchling flipper print! My friend Gerri, who is a Save a Turtle volunteer, and I, excavated the nest together the evening of the morning they were discovered hatched. No stragglers were stuck in the nest this time, they all made it out on their own. 98 more babies off to sea.

The very same morning this hatch was discovered, there was yet another loggerhead nest on our beach. On this newest nest, the mommy did 4 false crawls that night before she found the perfect spot for her to nest. That's a lot of land time for a sea turtle. She really was determined.

On our little stretch of beach, we've been blessed with 8 nests and 2 hatches so far this year. We're still in full swing, so keep your fingers crossed for more. I know I am!