Sunday, October 31, 2010

EcoWeek 2010

Boo & Happy Halloween!

Yet again I'm astonished by how quickly time passes. Fantasy Fest 2010 has drawn to a close. Another "fest" has passed with a little bit of mayhem, a little bit of "yikes," a little bit of something for everyone, and a lot of fun overall. The parade was last night; we didn't make it. Our costumes sat very sad and lonely in the corner, as we had other obligations to tend to. Scanning the paper this morning, I couldn't help but feel left out and disappointed that I wasn't part of last night's big event. Next year's theme has already been published.... "Aquatic Frolic." Reading those 2 words in the paper made me say "we're in" and decide I want to enter a float next year. I'm not too sure Mr. Happy Vegan will be as "game" as I already feel, but I can hope. My mind is literally spinning with ideas already. We'll see how things move on as next summer progresses, and you know you'll hear about it here if we do commit.

Moving on to what's here and now. Eco-Week 2010 arrives tomorrow in the Florida Keys. This is an inaugural year for Eco-Week in these parts. We're totally excited about it. If you go to you will find the official website for this event along with all the goings on for the week. Tomorrow, November 1, kicks off the event with an Expo in Key Largo from 4-7pm. The Florida Keys Green Living & Energy Education group ( is a major sponsor of Eco-Week, and has organized some great events for the week, including 4 Expos spotlighting green living, green business, green futures and green homes. A complete schedule of Eco-Week events, and Keys GLEE events are noted at the links I've provided.

Deer Run B&B is a sponsor of Eco-Week for Keys GLEE. We will be in Key West at the Botanical Gardens next Saturday from 2p-6p. We're going to set up a double booth where we'll present educational materials about our sustainable inn. I'll be selling my eco-art to raise funds for the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, and will be selling organic, vegan snacks & lunches. This will be our biggest event for Deer Run so far. Usually we do not have the time to be an exhibitor at events. Our mornings are dedicated to our guests here at the inn, between breakfast and all. But, as luck would have it, next week's Expo begins at 2pm. I'm truly so excited I could bust. Not only will we be selling organic and vegan food, but there will be other local restaurants there selling organic, vegan and vegetarian food. How great is that? Seriously, how many times have you been to ANY event where you can get organic food, let alone have vegan or vegetarian options. In my experience, food has always been an issue whenever I go to any trade show or event. I typically plan to eat before or after. You don't have to be a vegan or vegetarian to care about quality food. I do not apologize for my feelings that hot dogs served up with french fries is NOT good for our bodies. I cannot wait to get down there next week, set up and begin to sample the other goodies for sale, and offer our own food. Everyone heading to any of these Expos are like-minded in that we want to learn how can we do things NOW to effect positive change on ourselves and environment.

Deer Run has also donated 1 of our Expo spaces to the non-profit group Save a Turtle of the Florida Keys ( who will be exhibiting next Saturday at the Marathon Expo. We encourage you to go and check out their booth, and become a member of this wonderful, grass roots organization which has a direct impact on helping sea turtles survive.

We have rooms still available throughout the week if you'd like to come down for Eco-Week. There's Expos in Key Largo (tomorrow), Marathon (next Saturday), Lower Keys (next Sunday) and Key West (at the Stock Island Botanical Gardens next Saturday). Plus, all week long there are events too numerous to list going on throughout the entire Florida Keys (see the web sites noted above). One of the most fun events looks to be the Prius challenge, a 50 mile road "race"through the Upper Keys (next week) with the goal to be the driver with the best mileage. I'd love to be part of that, but time will not permit. Yes,we have a Prius for the inn. Yes, we love our Prius (ok, its MY Prius. Mr. Happy Vegan drives a pickup which runs on bio-diesel). The organizers of this event have completely poured their hearts and souls into Eco-Week. We're very proud to be part of this, and are looking forward to exhibiting as well as attending the other events. We encourage everyone, locals and visitors alike, to partake in whatever you can of the amazing array of events. Kayak trips, road rallies, food events, parties, and so much more are all planned, there literally is something for everyone.

In the meantime, we're already just about finished with our plans for next week's exhibit, so I can let my mind wander ahead to next October when, with any luck, Deer Run will have a float complete with music and dancing turtles rolling down Duval Street. Personally, I think I'll look quite fetching in a mermaid outfit, while Mr. Happy Vegan would look to-die-for as King Neptune. Keep your fingers crossed!

Hope our paths cross at the Eco-Week events of this week. Dive in and CARPE DIEM!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Metaphor for Life

As I wrote in my last post, its Fantasy Fest time of year around these parts. Lots of stuff going on, extremely fun, carefree, let your hair down kind of time. Goombay kicked off the festivities. We did our part by going to a charity fundraiser costume party which turned out to be a ton of fun. Of course we got home later than planned, yikes.

Despite rolling in far too late than I should have, I woke up in OK shape this morning, and things went pretty well for a large part of the day. I was exceptionally busy, and didn't really get a good break going until late afternoon. Despite all this, my mood was great. Then, "it" happened. Something on top of my personal list for things to throw this happy vegan innkeeper off kilter, and my mood plummeted. I was angry, upset, and focusing on negative. I didn't wallow too long... my mood wasn't improving, and I knew I had to kick that negative energy away and FAST. So, of course I put on my running shoes, and off I went. The iPod blasting, and my pace quicker than I should've to start... all symptoms of my immediate need for anger management. At about my 1 mile mark, I could not help but notice a specific bird over the Coupon Bight. I do not know what kind of bird it was, but it was kind of big which is mostly why I noticed him. I began watching him as I was running. The wind was really gusty. I began to realize that this bird would catch the air on the breezes to coast, then when the gust stopped he'd flap his wings really hard to go higher or lower searching for the next moment to catch a gust so he could coast. I began to see this bird as a messenger, and a metaphor for life.

We can catch the breezes (the good times) while they're here, but when the wind dies down (the static in our lives, perhaps I'll call it?) we have to buckle down, focus and SEARCH for what we need to get to the next breeze (good time). This bird didn't complain about there not being a breeze when seconds before there was... he just did what he had to do to survive and FIND it. What I think I was watching was this bird experiencing the joy & thrill of the breezes, when he could coast, catch the wind, and just fly, dive and twirl because he CAN. He seemed to be PLAYING in the sky, loving and fixated on the wonderful moments, not on the negative moments.

When I lost sight of the bird, I had new information in my head to use and change my attitude. I decided I would not allow thoughtless and arrogant actions rob my life of any more time than had already occurred. I slowed my pace, stopped at all my strength training stations, and allowed myself the gift of that time on the street.

Its really interesting to me. When I stop and look around, there's constantly something new to learn right in my own backyard, and its almost always found, for me, in nature.

I'm all fixed up now! Can't wait til tomorrow!!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's baaaaa-a-a-a-a-ck!

Its "that" time of year. Fantasy Fest! Key West and its resident folk pull out all the stops with a 10 day festival actually kicking off today called Goombay. Goombay runs through the weekend; a celebration of Bahamian heritage, African heritage, reggae music, and all good things that go with that. The streets are filled with vendors selling arts & crafts, food, drinks, and lots of other goodies. Goombay is fun. If memory serves correctly, I believe the drink of choice is called a Goombay Smash. Do not ask me what's in it, besides rum. Tasty! Actually, Goombay is a favorite event of mine even without the rum. Its very family friendly, lots of locals look forward to going every year.

After Goombay, the week is full of all sorts of events, costume parties, pet parades, pageants, charity fundraisers, and actually too much more to list ( There's a really big parade next Saturday night, floats, bands, costumes, body paint, and so forth. Hopefully we'll make it this year, its crazy, but fun.

What I did today was put the finishing touches on my costume, then move into plotting & planning Mr. Happy Vegan's costume. We're going to a costume party in Key West. That's a dicey subject for me this time of year.... going to Key West for a party on a work night. It could be a recipe for disaster, but I have (mostly) learned to toe the line and will not push things too far. Not properly gauging my ability absolutely will result in sheer misery for me the next morning (always remember, never forget... innkeepers get up EARLY).

Down here, people take Fantasy Fest, Halloween, and costume dress up seriously. People look at you more if you're NOT dressed up than if you are. So, we're taking the plunge, put some costumes together, and are going to get our weird on with the other lunatics. The party is a fundraiser (so that's a win-win situation), and with any luck, we may have time to end up downtown next weekend for the big parade and catch some beads.

I pretty much have a "go to" costume if I need, but thanks to a friend I now have a whole bin of costumes and related paraphernalia. Need a pink curly wig? I've got it. Want to be a Court Jester? I've got you covered. Clown? Check! Harem Girl (ooo-la-la!) Absolutely! Sparkles, spangles, and glitter? Most definitely! Digging through the bin, I realized I needed a few things for my costume that I didn't have. So, I spent my morning out and about town hitting local thrift and consignment shops. They NEVER fail down here. Need a pair of pink tights new in the bag.... you can get them for $1. Fishnets new in the wrap? $3, and done. How about a purple velvet bustier, a top hat, or a pair of devil horns. Yes, all that and more is yours within about a 20 minute drive from my house. I just LOOOOOOVE vintage!

My costume is done. I've combed out my wig, dusted off the boots, and am ready to get my weird on. Tomorrow, Mr. Happy Vegan and I have some work to do for his costume, but we've got the basic idea for construction, just keep your fingers crossed.

Fantasy Fest has only just begun, there's plenty of events for you to become part of. We hope to see you here, or at the very least downtown catching some beads ... hope you don't have to work too hard for them!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Here's a secret: I never aspired to be an innkeeper. Here's something not so secret: everyone else I meet seems to want to be an innkeeper. Its true, I swear it. I cannot tell you how many times I hear "I've always wanted to own a bed and breakfast," "you're living my dream" or something else along those lines.

So, you REALLY think you want to be an innkeeper? Its not that glamorous (there's a lot of manual labor involved) and has very long hours. Sometimes paths cross with people who I'd rather not, and the pay is not (yet) worth retiring over. So, why do I do this, and why do so many others want to do it? Its easy for me to say as far as others wanting to do it, simple ignorance. You don't really know what's involved til you're doing it. As far as me doing it, well, I actually (most days) enjoy what I do, and find that I have a much better quality of life than I ever had before. Its about percentages at this point in my life. I want the higher percentage of my time to be spent doing things I choose to, not things I have to. I have no special background to do this beyond taking a few night classes on the subject and reading a book or 2 (the exception to this is the culinary training I had specifically for this inn). Our "preparation" for this is actually that Mr. Happy Vegan and I had frequent parties, lived down the shore, and became accustomed to hosting. That my dear, is absolutely 100% true. We like parties, and most anything associated with them. Big parties, small parties. Planned parties, and impromptu parties. They're all good. Somehow having frequent parties does prepare you for innkeeping. Trust me.

It seems I never used to have enough free time. I'm not sure how that is even possible all things considered. For years I worked in an office with relatively structured hours. I was stressed out though, sheer exhaustion would often ruin me. So, even though I theoretically worked far fewer hours, without a doubt I accomplished far less on my free time than I do now.

When I woke up today, it was still dark out. I stumbled to the kitchen, and began playing with muffin pans, flour and so forth. Eventually Mr. Happy Vegan produced a perfect cup of coffee in front of me as I worked preparing the meal. Mr. Happy Vegan chats with guests on our coffee hour before breakfast and serves the food come 8:30. I stay in the kitchen doing that work. Once breakfast is served, I begin some light kitchen cleanup then usually am game for some socializing with guests. Today during my social time with guests, Pop arrived at our place. In his golf cart. Which Mr. Happy Vegan has outfitted with DUAL air horns. Pop announced his arrival with the (dual) air horns. This of course sparked an entire conversation about our colorful 101 year old neighbor named Pop.

After breakfast, the cleaning began in earnest. Then I ran, stopping at Pop's to sit for a visit. During my run, several endangered Key deer observed me as I went through my paces. Once I returned, laundry began (which never ends). I decided to work on my eco art again today. I carried all my projects onto the beach and pulled out my paints. I sat on the sand and painted for a few hours. Peri magically appeared. He had been sleeping in a big patch of sea oats on the dune. He inspected my work, meowed, and sat down on one of my unfinished projects. In between I also prepared a bulk order from the health food store which took about 2 hours. A relatively unused distributor, so I had to read almost the entire 2" thick catalogue scanning for their new products, and stockpiling for season. This part is not so fun.

I went inside to do prep for tomorrow's breakfast. When I finished that, I noted 3 of my 4 cats bundled on the bed. Napping. I crashed their party. Ahh.... a nap! Somehow I managed to get dressed for the gym, head out the door to drop the order off, and make boot camp class with 10 minutes to spare.

Driving home I scanned the dial for some music, and watched the sky turn fire red. Once home, I made something to eat, then headed onto the beach in the dark to retrieve my projects which were left to dry in the long gone sun.

I'm not sure if today is typical, but its not unusual. Long hours. Recreation mixed in with chores, and some exercise to ward off the death fairy another day. I've logged close to 15 hours so far today, and still have another chore to do.

I never aspired to be an innkeeper. Absolutely I'm not curing cancer, but then again I never did that anyway. I like what I do, I like where I live. I meet mostly very kind, interesting and diverse people. I hang out with endangered species, a sage 101 year old man, and a rogue beach cat named Peri. Some days I may want to drive a nail through my skull, but most days I don't. Today was good. I didn't bicker with Mr. Happy Vegan once and looking over things, percentage wise more of my day was "play" than "work." This is really not too shabby considering its a Wednesday in October when in a past life I would've been trapped in an office somewhere pondering lunch, as well as a painfully slow clock.

Percentages. I like batting over 500, I like this as a goal, and I like that I hit my mark again today.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Carpe Diem

I'm a realist. Maybe you wouldn't know that about me, as often times when people see me at work I keep a positive attitude, and look for the good in a situation. Which is not to say I live in a bubble and don't realize that we're all mostly struggling to survive... people, animals, and planet. However, I took it particularly hard when I learned that a friend of the inn is gravely ill and has been transported to the mainland, with a very grim prognosis.

This person is too young for this, and very bright. She is very creative, as well as a gifted and talented artist. She also is beautiful inside and out, with a very kind heart. Any time I've seen her, whether it be here or somewhere else, she had a smile which belied an impossible truth. We've all got our demons, problems, challenges or whatever to overcome, don't we? Its how we choose to overcome them, or not overcome them, that often times defines us and our futures.

To an extent, I identify with our friend. I have had my own struggles. There were times when I couldn't see any future at all for myself. I have chosen to never forget those days or those feelings, because it helps me empathize with people who aren't happy in the moment. If I think of myself during those hard times, I never would've imagined I'd be where I am today. Thank goodness in spite of that, I'm still here, and wow, look how things have turned out!

So, this situation with our friend has hit me very hard. She is surrounded by people who love her, and I hope she finds comfort in that. I sat on my beach for hours yesterday and today working on art projects I'm preparing for an upcoming show in Key West. My mind drifted here and there, but never very far from our friend. I wonder if she can feel the healing energy that so many people are sending to her. I hope she is comfortable. I want our friend to be free from pain. I am so truly blessed to live where I do, and be healed every day with the beauty of nature. This place truly is balm for my soul. This paradise, the healing of it all, well it's not enough for some people. I got a reminder that we're all struggling with something every day, whether its in paradise, or elsewhere.

Another not so gentle reminder, nothing is guaranteed, so Carpe Diem baby. Carpe Diem.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


This is the time of year I call harvest. Its in full swing, this harvesty/autumny time of year. Temps down here still hover around 80 daily, but the winds are often drier and have begun shifting northerly and easterly (unless there's a storm approaching.... soon we'll be out of the wet season, yay). For some reason, today I feel traditionally harvesty. I considered going to our local pumpkin patch to select a pumpkin or 2 for a great pumpkin massacre, but time got away. Instead, as I write this I've got organic pumpkin walnut muffins baking in the oven (new recipe, we'll see how they are, I'll take them out for taste testing to my friends tomorrow..) I also just finished chopping a giant organic butternut squash which I intend to roast with olive oil, sage and sea salt, along with preparing my first ever "Field Roast", which we bought on a Ft. Lauderdale road trip. Along with all this, Mr. Happy Vegan wants potatoes, and he wants them mashed. So it will be.

Our harvest down here will be coming in very soon. More papaya than I know what to do with, loads and loads of bananas, and of course beautiful key limes. We've finally got a tree full of starfruit to pull soon, usually the iguanas discover the tree before we pick... I've never managed to get more than 1 or 2 a year. This year, we're determined to be ahead of the wildlife. So, although my harvest is coming in soon, I felt a little melancholy today and wanted some of what I was accustomed to for most of my life.

My house is filled with the amazing aromas of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and allspice (so is the beach!!) and Mr. Happy Vegan is in the kitchen every 10 minutes or so "is it time yet? is it time yet?" I just took the muffins out of the oven, they've turned a spectacular shade of burnt orange. Here I sit, an admitted anti-pumpkin person, waiting for later to have a cup of chai & one of those crazy pumpkin muffins.

I must go... its time to roast the squash and fill the beach air with the scent of sage.

Happy Harvest, Happy Autumn, Happy Pumpkin Picking, and Blessed Be.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ahhhhh...... SUN!

After quite a dreary week with constant downpours, localized flooding and basically turning into a mushroom, the sun is back! Hello Mr. Sun, I've missed you.

We've been pretty lucky again. Paula, which was a very compact storm, jigged one way, headed over Cuba where the mountains shredded her apart, and then continued away from the Keys. Despite this, we had a few outer rain bands head over the lower Keys, plus another low pressure system which seemed to sit over us in Southern Florida for days (and nights) on end. Our house has a metal roof.... great for safety and energy efficiency, not so great for me trying to sleep during a downpour.

Some people say rain is soothing, that it seems to clean the air and everything around. Perhaps, to some degree. But after days on end of "cleansing and soothing" I'm ready for some sunshine and gentle breezes. I woke this morning about 6am and actually dragged myself out of bed. This was one of my last days off for quite a while, so getting up around 6 was not really planned. I flipped open the drapes to clouds of darkness. Even the cats didn't budge. I promptly shut the drapes and crawled back into bed with the kitties. I stayed put for about another hour and finally dragged myself up.

It was still cloudy as I made my way through my morning newspaper, coffee & computer rituals. I did a few chores then saw a hole of blue appear through the clouds over the ocean. I thought "hmmm, that looks promising" so I put the running shoes on and off I went. As I was cruising through my paces, the clouds lifted, the sun came out, and dry winds swept through my path. Gorgeous, simply gorgeous.

I've felt like a mushroom, and now I feel free. The fog from my soul has lifted, its paradise down here, and we've got a perfect weekend on tap. Ahhh... let it shine.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bubba, Rain and Pride


I posted a few days ago about community pride, focusing on a story of an ("alleged") animal abuse case on a 10 month old lab named Bubba. Well, here's an update. Bubba was released from the trauma center where he was taken in Miami. Bubba is doing very well, although still on several medications and recovering from rib fractures. Reports are that he is interacting well with people and maintaining a sweet disposition. He is being fostered by the Sheriff's officer who responded to the scene and rescued him. Bubba is going to have a "meet and greet" with the public later this week. Thoughts are that the positive attention, love he is receiving, and will continue to receive by such an event, will help him on his recovery. Bubba will be adopted out to a loving home when the time is right.


"Paula" is making her presence known to us in South Florida this week. Kinda came outta the blue... the weather down here for the past 10 days or so was spectacular, and the forecast was also good. Then, poof, soaking downpours. By the time she makes the turn to head our way, she'll be a tropical storm, which means just another rain event in South Florida, no big deal. What was way more annoying was yesterday I had to report for jury duty in Key West. Although the new courthouse seems VERY lavish (um... the entire ladies room, including bathroom stalls, is done in solid granite, seriously...) the planners and people in charge didn't plan for parking. For real, there appears to a parking lot of EIGHT spaces for the entire building, three of which are handicapped for ADA. Obviously that's ridiculous, a travesty in my opinion. There's not enough parking for anyone, be it those needing a handicap spot, or not. So, jurors park in the "overflow" lot. Anyone been to Key West? Guess where the "overflow lot" is... down at the docks where the Coast Guard ships are moored! So, yesterday morning, I was treated to a 15 minute soaking from Truman Annex to the multi, multi million dollar new courthouse for jury duty. I did my civic duty. However, I'm annoyed because my tax dollars went for granite bathroom stalls and no parking. Someone designated with the simple task of putting soap in a dispenser cannot do their job, and someone else cannot seem to keep water stocked in a vending machine either. I'm even more annoyed that we couldn't buy water when we weren't allowed to bring in our own water in eco-friendly re-usable bottles. I suppose none of this would have been so magnified if I wasn't literally soaked through and through after a 15 minute hoof through flooded streets and constant downpour. Thanks county government. Another winning project.


And, to end on a positive note... Monday was National Coming Out Day. Our beautiful neighboring island of Key West made a big push to get the word out that if you're over 18, being bullied, discriminated, or otherwise not accepted, to come to Key West where you will be embraced with open arms. I hope the outreach centers in Key West achieved their goals of getting the word out, and that people listened. We're proud to be part of the "One Human Family." Here we embrace diversity, and the freedom to be who you are, not what someone else thinks you should be. Some day, may clear heads prevail all over.

There ya go. I'm done for today. Time for a run. Enjoy your day wherever you may be!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Diamond Dave!

Today is David Lee Roth's 56th birthday. Better known as "Diamond Dave" to fans like me.

Perhaps you tuned in today to read something about Key deer, a new cupcake recipe, or me waxing poetic about the weather. If so, move on now, because I'm dedicating today's post to Diamond Dave.

It's hard to believe Dave turns 56 today, mostly because it means I'm older than I can believe too. The music of Van Halen is a huge part of the soundtrack that accompanies my life. I scratch my head in disbelief when I realize I first heard this music over 30 years ago. When I think back to their very first album (yes, ALBUM) release, I was a young teenager just entering high school. This music is in my mind for so many of my "snapshot memories." I remember this music blasting out of my big brother's 1964 vintage Mustang as he drove through the parking lot after band practice (he was cool, band was geeky, yet he transcended the geekiness of band... I did not, I was definitely not cool). I close my eyes and see my brother driving through the parking lot in his marching band uniform, blasting Van Halen, with a giant tuba stashed in the back seat, and of course some girl in the front seat. I looked up to my brother immensely and never minded that often times I, the geeky little sister, was not the passenger in the cool Mustang with the Van Halen playing.

The music of Van Halen did, and still does, pound its way through my life... graduations, parties, boyfriends, parties, friend's weddings, parties, road trips, parties, down the shore, parties, tragic sadness, parties, lost weekends, parties, holidays, parties, my entire life, and parties. Did I mention parties? Frontman David Lee Roth is one of the most beautiful people ever to front a rock band, and I still have a giant poster of him framed and protected from the elements which perhaps I should be buried with. The poster, a gift from a friend who probably felt she outgrew her Dave obsession... knowing I never would.

Even my companion animals are not immune to this great music. I have songs for all my pets, and my departed beloved Summer Blue had her own too. Of course it was "Everybody Wants Some" but for her it was "Sum," short for Summer. She loved Van Halen, and would come running whenever I sang those words to her. Smart kitty.

I've got Van Halen music, Dave's music, posters, books, clothing and memories. One of the best rock bands ever, one of the best frontmen ever. That will never change for me. To this day, I've pretty much always got Dave or VH loaded in my cd player. No one worth their salt could be unhappy after listening to "Where Have All the Good Times Gone" or "Ice Cream Man" blaring full tilt. Dave, your Crazy from the Heat EP is still tops on my "desert island disc" list right next to Van Halen, Van Halen II, Diver Down, Women And Children First." Yup, I am a fan.

"Happy Trails To You
Until We Meet Again
Happy Trails To You
Keep Smiling' Until Then..."

"Who Cares About the Clouds When We're Together
Just Sing a Song and Think 'bout Sunny Weather"

Thank you for the music Diamond David Lee Roth. Happy trails and happy birthday. Many happy returns!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Community Pride

I have written a few times about the community where I live. How it is pretty tight knit. How it is filled with amazing people with incredibly diverse talents, a wealth of knowledge, and good hearts. Today I want to share a story about this.

Recently, there was a very bad story down here. It is about how someone allegedly (don't want to be accused of liable, so I am saying allegedly) beat his dog so badly it was within an hour or less of death. The accused's side of the story is that it's a misunderstanding, how he fell on the dog and didn't realize how badly the dog was injured. My personal feelings aside, this is how the story goes.

The reports said that someone anonymously called in the situation to the police. The police responded very quickly to the scene, arrested the alleged attacker, and called a local veterinarian in the wee hours of the night. The police transported the victim to the vet, who stabilized him. The dog was then transported to an emergency trauma vet in Miami for further treatment.

As of right now, the dog (named Bubba) is expected to survive. He is still receiving care, but expected to be returned to the Florida Keys, fostered, and then will be adopted out to a loving home; someone deserving of the unconditional love and loyalty that companion animals provide.

But it doesn't end there. No, not at all. There's been an outpouring of donations for the care of Bubba. This morning when I read my local newspaper, the front page had a beautiful story about the Boys and Girls Club here having bake sales today, with the money raised going towards the vet bills for Bubba! My heart soared as I read this. The children of the Boys and Girls Club have done charity work before, and will do so again in the future I'm pretty sure of it. But, right now the important thing for me is to get out there and support these children with good hearts, smart minds, and good mentors around them. I'm heading out to the bake sale here on Big Pine Key to drop some money off in their donation can. I'm not interested in any baked goods being vegan and all, but that's not what its about. This is about the community where I live, and am a part of. I'm going out to support the residents of my community, who support the caregivers and all responders who helped Bubba, which in the end supports Bubba himself, who is also a member of my community.

"One Human Family" is the official philosophy of Key West, but really for me it represents the Florida Keys' as a whole. It means that we are not separate, but all connected. I extend this philosophy to animals, nature, and really the Universe as a whole. This includes Bubba, and my community knows this too. The proof is in the outpouring from everyone in my community, from police, to doctors, caregivers, a foster home, children and everyone looking out for Bubba in any way, even including prayers and hope.

I love my Florida Keys community, and am proud to be here. I have to go now... gotta get over to the bake sale and make a contribution.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Wind Fairy Stopped By

If I smelled the winds of change on October 1, today I can say they hit me over the head. The winds blew from the north and northeast all day, with gusts up to 30 knots.

We will be at perigee with the moon tomorrow, which brings higher than usual tides. I noticed it this morning in a big way. I woke up much earlier than I would've rather. The sun was up, but not by much. I rubbed the sleep from my head, shuffled to get some coffee (organic! fair trade!), and sat down on my veranda staring at the ocean. Whenever I hear my "big chimes" clanging on the back of the house, I know winds are north. The chimes were doing their business this early hour, but I didn't think much of it. After a few minutes of cobweb clearing and coffee, I got dressed for a run. When I made my way to the street, it was windier than usual, and cool. I attributed the cool weather to the early hour... I'm never out this early.

I got down to business, and began my run. My street lies parallel to the Coupon Bight immediately street side. There are tidal differences, but today was incredible. The water in some places was lapping at the asphalt, a mere 2 feet or less from where I am running. The north wind pushes the water in. This, coupled with tomorrow's perigee made for an incredible sight. There was even honest to goodness seafoam at all the edges of the Bight, I'd never seen that, ever. It was unnerving, and beautiful, all at the same time. Within less than 1/4 mile of beginning, the gusts began sweeping through my route, and were whistling through the earbuds of my iPod. Then, as I rounded a curve, I heard the wind literally howl through the mangroves. That's not something I'm accustomed to hearing unless there's REALLY nasty weather, its never a sound I enjoy because of that. Perhaps I'd just never been out for a run with 30 knot gusts before down here, but today I found the howling was kind of cool. I took out the earbuds to listen to the wind. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, yes, it really was howling. And I began to study the water in the Bight, there were small rollers in there, another thing I've never seen without there being REALLY nasty weather associated. There were several great white herons still tucked in the mangroves, I guess the wind made them want to sleep in.

As I made my way through my route, my mind wandered to a thousand different subjects. Finally I ended up thinking about autumn in earnest. The crispness to the air, the clearing effect of the wind, and the sunshine on my skin combined to make me feel lighter. I want less clutter in my life, I want less conflict in my life, and I want simpler things in my life. I want this now, and have been carving a path in this direction for a while. Its been a years long process of detaching from possessions, and not always easy. Today was another perfect opportunity for me to again "lighten up." My feet felt lighter (turned in some really good times on my miles!), my heart felt lighter, and my soul felt lighter. After I made my way home, I did a few chores, and went to task of eliminating more things from my life. In the Keys, its always easy to find a new home for things no longer needed. There's great groups down here that accept donations, and organizations that publish lists of who is looking for what, so those that "have" and "don't need" anymore can give to someone "who needs" yet "doesn't have." I've got yet another pile of things here going out the door to charity, all inspired by some great air and the smell of autumn.

One final point. I want to make this clear for my northerly challenged friends...autumn smell is NOT raked leaves and fireplaces, but more the faint scent of palm fronds & sea grape leaves composting back to earth, mingling with cooler sea air. Yes, our autumn stopped by today, and my life is a little lighter. Thank you Universe, but PS: can you please find it in your wisdom to let me sleep just a littler later tomorrow... please?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Winds of Change

I felt it yesterday.... the winds of change. As I went for my run in the still searing heat, there was a subtle difference in the air; it is changing. I feel autumn in the Keys on the way.

Its hard to tell to any difference if you don't live here... for now, the days are still often above 90, and the heat index pushes triple digits (or above) often too. I'm still running every day, and have added more challenges to my street workouts. In my own way, they're intense workouts, and I return home drenched daily, with a feeling (hopefully!) of accomplishment. Yesterday, October 1, as I began to hit my stride I sensed the differences in the air, and shut off my music. I began to pay closer attention to all that was around me, and quickly realized that there was much more activity with the animals, and seemingly the insects too. There seemed to be more songbirds fluttering about, singing their songs louder than I've heard in a while. The fall hawk migration is beginning as well, and I noticed some catching thermals way high above me. There were more dragonflies fluttering about than usual, and I even saw more ant activity at one of the stops where I do push ups.

Underneath the relentless heat, I felt a twinge of cool. In fact, I swear it was more that I could smell it. I began thinking about what autumn will bring here in the Keys. It will bring big breaks in the humidity, and long stretches where I can open my doors and windows, catch cross breezes and watch my curtains rustle softly. Autumn will bring baked apples for breakfast and many varieties of soups made from root vegetables. Autumn will also bring the return of some wonderful repeat guests to Deer Run; we've been preparing for upcoming season... sprucing up rooms, completely re-doing 1 room, re-configuring things in the garden, and bettering ourselves overall through the summer.

I know that autumn will bring me some relief from the heat on my runs, although I do not like to complain about heat. Let us not forget that I moved here partly because of the endless summer, and now I crave it constantly. To many friends & family north of here, autumn will bring sweaters, boots, blankets, mums and pumpkins. Down here I can live with the pumpkins, but keep those crappy mums away from me and don't ever talk about sweaters!

So, its true, the winds of change lurk underneath what is here now. I felt it and smelled it. I'm looking forward to the autumn harvest, the return of some good friends, and watching all the animals be more comfortable with some cooler temperatures. Autumn in the Keys is beautiful, what with bird migrations, perfect dry weather (REALLY looking forward to being able to say "GOODBYE HURRICANE SEASON"), and traditional veganized comfort food. The animals (especially Peri) will continue to seek out their sunny patches, take long naps and enjoy each day. Now that I live here, I don't have to say goodbye to the summer, meaning I no longer dread autumn. When the smell of roasted chestnuts starts to get to you.... look on line for flights then book your room. We'll be here, palm trees and all.