Sunday, January 30, 2011

Through the Eyes of a Visitor

This is a big weekend here in the Keys. There's several great bands having concerts up and down the Keys, music festivals, fundraisers, the Key West Food & Wine Festival, art & craft shows, and more. I made full use of my day yesterday, deciding early I was going to 26th Annual Key West Art & Craft Show.

When I woke up, it was quiet and still. The winds had finally abated, and it was already warm. Walking out my back door, I saw a very large sailboat which had anchored for the overnight close to my beach. It was such a beautiful sight, the sun coming up, the sailboat sitting peacefully as the water started to glimmer. I decided I was going to take the day as easy as possible, I could tell it was going to be an almost perfect day.

After I had most of my chores done, I put the top down on the convertible, and filled the cd player with all my favorites. I stopped at Pop's for a visit, making sure he had everything he needed for the day, then began my drive down the Keys. Traffic was pretty heavy, but moving. The sun was high in the sky, and warmed me completely (making me regret forgetting the sunblock). I was listening to music, driving my convertible, and going to Key West. I was going to be a tourist, and was pretty happy about that.

In my opinion, the most beautiful part of any drive down the Keys is from the 7 Mile Bridge all the way through the Lower Keys. There's not as much development, and places too numerous to count that have unblemished open water. Its unlike anything I've ever seen. As I got closer to Key West, I couldn't help but notice the naval jets in training over my head. I shut off the music, and just listened to their roar. They looked like they were doing circles, practicing landings perhaps.

I noticed quite a few other convertibles with tops down as I drove. A large majority of them had people holding cameras and camcorders out the sides. I don't blame them, in a past life I probably did the same thing (although never while driving). Just before Key West, some of our wonderful and brave local fire/rescue personnel were holding a boot drive. I've heard some people grumble about these "boot drives," but if they didn't need this money, they wouldn't be out there, would they? So, I made sure to roll up slowly to each boot and toss some bills in every time, with a huge "THANK YOU" to them all. Imagine, they actually thanked ME for the money... if I had time I would've gotten out at each stop and kissed their feet, no need to thank me for putting money in there, those folks are heroes. Anyway, back to my trip.

I picked my way through the streets of Key West s-l-o-w-l-y. The traffic was exceptionally heavy, both motorized and pedestrian. Funny thing though, no horns were beeping, no rude gestures being made. Most everyone else seemed to feel as I did... happy to be alive, happy to be in warm sunshine in January, happy to be on an island. I made my way to the show, paid for parking and had a nice chat with the attendant. Never in days past would I imagine any parking attendant would care to chat with me for more than 5 seconds to collect my money, but in the Keys I was able to exchange more than mere pleasantries. Nice! I parked, then walked through the crowds. This particular show is another favorite of mine. I don't think I've missed it since moving here. Once again, it did not disappoint. I saw some great art and craftsmanship, and was able to meet and talk with wonderful artists. I'm such an admirer of people who create, I find them typically be very imaginative, and fun to be around. I came away with some new pieces for the inn, and some great outdoor art too. I even scored a pair of glass turtle earrings from a woman who's work I absolutely love. Her pieces are whimsical, dreamy, and exceptionally unique. Besides, how could I possibly go wrong with a pair of turtle earrings?

After the show, I decided I wanted lunch, so I once again picked my way through the streets of Key West, making my way to "The Cafe, a Mostly Vegetarian Restaurant." Now, I've written about them before, and will write about them again. Some people find eating alone in a restaurant unsettling. I do not. I was greeted kindly, and seated immediately. I wanted to sit by a window so I could watch the action on the street. I ordered my food (seitan peppersteak!!) and listened to the music, staring at the folks on the street. A wide slice of humanity, that's for sure. I saw scooters, trucks, runners, tourist trains, cars, taxis, pedi-cabs and bicyclists. I saw people delivering pizza, and a gal on a bicycle with 2 very large animal carriers attached transporting 2 small dogs. I could tell the locals, their bikes are almost always jazzed up with flair. They'll have stickers, whimsical paint jobs, sparklers, signs, and stuff like that all over the bike.

After lunch, I walked up and down the streets for a while, just looking around. In windows. At architecture. At people. At animals. At motorcycles. At menus. You get the idea. I saw lots of people with cameras in their hands, and heard many other languages being spoken. The sun continued to press down on me all day. I stopped here and there for some refreshments, and more intense people watching. Surrounded by locals and visitors, feeling a little like a bit of each.

I would eventually make my way back to the car, and begin the trek home. The sun continued to warm me, music as my constant companion. I noticed the birds flying in the sky, boats dotting the landscape the entire drive home, plus lots more convertibles, cameras and camcorders.

Returning home, I decided to sit on the beach, commune with nature, and watch the sun go down. Key deer meandered by, Peri warmed my lap, and I was enveloped by the arms of the Universe. My day was completed with stargazing and contemplation.

Some days I get so busy this time of year, I forget what its really like to be here, why people are drawn to the Keys. Eyes wide open, I remember.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Horton, Are you Listening?

Snow abounds in many regions, again. Sub-zero temperatures, or very close to them, are also in full effect. Here, we've got some up and down temps, but nothing compared to the horror stories of the north. Thanks to our island weather, I met up for a date with my convertible. We had a nice time, and made plans to do it again. On the dark drive home, pelted by stardust, I thought about time and space. This subject has been on my mind since reading a comic strip a couple weeks ago. The 2 main characters were holding an ant farm, and talking about the ants. They were lamenting how despite all the ants fancy work & effort, they're basically just tiny little insects trapped in a plastic world for the amusement of others. Move forward in the strip, and of course there's two aliens holding an "ant farm" which contains the planet Earth. They're speaking in alien words, but the subtitles explain the exact same feelings about the people on Earth.

That strip reminded me of Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who. Similar premise, wouldn't you agree? One of my favorite books of all time. In fact, Dr. Seuss has penned a few on my "favorite books of all time" list. There's a lot of deep thinking in some of those books, like it or not. So, I have been thinking about time, space, the cosmos, and my place in it. This train of thought brought me to my rooftop sanctuary.

Wrapped up in a nice old blanket, wearing my version of winterwear, I ventured up to my private roof space. It was brisk, and uncomfortably cool. I pulled out a chair, and stared at the sky. It was crystal clear. I was alone, no Mr. Happy Vegan to explain the different constellations and planets. He looks at the sky and sees science. I look at the sky and see smoke and spirits. He fancies astronomy while I prefer astrology.

On that recent night on this very small island with the Milky Way splashed across the sky, I saw planets, stars, satellites, airplanes, stardust, the moon, light and dark. I felt like the most insignificant being in existence within that stillness. My mind eventually wandered back to Dr. Seuss's Horton. Maybe we all are a speck on a piece of dust after all, but Horton teaches us to respect the sanctity of all life.

I've been reading a blog written by a woman in Taiji, Japan right now. She is there witnessing and documenting the annual cetacean slaughter at a Japanese cove profiled in the movie aptly titled "The Cove." She is agonized by what she sees, but presses on every day to raise awareness. She knows this slaughter must stop, so many people know this must stop. She knows we're all connected. I thought about her place in the cosmos, and I know she is right where she belongs in this moment. Fighting for the future, fighting for sanity, refusing to give in or give up. My heart aches for her and the others there working to stop the killing. My heart breaks even more for the animals that are being killed there. Her blog is here

I may be a speck, as we all may be, but our actions matter to others seen and unseen. No matter the big picture, or the little picture, my rooftop visit communing with the cosmos reminds me that somehow we're connected. In the snow. On an island. In Japan, the ocean, the sky or somewhere else. Need proof, just look at the sky.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh My Gosh! Someone Else GETS It!

I wrote recently how I enjoy reading other people's blogs. There's some I read more faithfully than others, but almost without fail, I take something away after reading, I've learned something.

Such is the case with local writers as well. I read any local newspaper I can get my hands on, be it Upper, Middle, or Lower Keys, including Key West. Our hometown newspaper had me laughing out loud with the last 2 weeks worth of what is titled "drivel" in the News Barometer. I'm still laughing at the edition which essentially discussed "what we say" vs. "what we really think." Some parts of it made me think someone was inside my head, I swear it.

Why am I bringing this up today? Well, I read something on line which again made me think hooray, we are not alone in the crusade for environmental responsibility. Mr. Happy Vegan and I spend countless hours picking up trash. On the beach. On the street. In parking lots. In other people's yards. When I'm out running, if I pass someone's trash can and I see recycling mixed in with regular trash, I've been known to stop and sort it out. This never ending picking up of the trash is frustrating, and lonely. Frustrating because if those of us living and visiting these beautiful islands of the Florida Keys cannot "get" that trash blowing in the street ends up in water within about less than 15 minutes, then well, we're doomed. Lonely, because it so often feels like no one else cares.

Time to thank the Universe for reminding me others DO care. I'm providing a link for an article which appears in one of the local Keys papers. I love that someone out there cares enough to attempt to shame a litterbug into responsibility (unfortunately, the offender had no shame), but I still love that another environmental warrior did this. I love that the author is herself an environmental warrior; out there herself, picking up trash. Reminding us how it comes full circle very fast, and kills animal life. And, more than anything I love that she really owns her feelings (you'll see what I mean towards the end of the article). While perhaps publicly I'm not admitting it, maybe inside I feel the same way as she does. But... she's writing it. She owns it, and I love that!

Ready or not, here it is.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rocketman the Pirate

This is a picture of a local musician named Rocketman. He's sings. Plays his guitars. Plays the harmonica too. He's also the drummer for a local band called the "Florida Straits Band." Most times we see Rocketman playing at a place in Marathon called "Porky's." We go to Porky's for cold beer, french fries, salad, black beans & rice, and exceptionally friendly service. Porky's isn't very veg-friendly as far as variety, but we do go there for these few delights. We always plan our visits on nights Rocketman will be playing.

Rocketman the Pirate. That's his more formal name. He looks like a pirate, not too sure if you can tell from this photo. He laughs like a pirate, and talks like a pirate. He's a storyteller too, like any great musician really is. In between songs, he'll banter with the crowd, telling stories of celebrities he's met, funny experiences he's had, and interesting people he's met on the way. He's really great with little kids, although many of them are not too sure what to make of "the pirate" when they first meet him. He'll talk with them, make them relax and laugh...pose for photos, autograph small plastic pirate swords for the little ones, and give away his autographed picture. Rocketman will do all that, smiling because he loves it. His life has not always been easy, and he makes no bones about that. Yet, he carries on with his music, doing what he loves best. He's a true "Keys character."

I was driving back from Marathon one day in December and saw a sign on one of the bars that said "Get Well Soon Rocketman--We Miss You" which really shocked me. Get well soon? What? We had just seen Rocketman the week before, slipping in for a cold beer and my beans & rice. Upon doing some deeper digging, we learned that Rocketman had indeed fallen ill, and it was pretty serious. He is doing much better now. We've been told he's itching to get back on the stage, and says he'll be back playing as soon as he can hold that guitar.

We're looking forward to Rocketman's return, and have sent our well wishes as so many others have done that love him. He'll be back in due time, and we'll all be waiting. We know many of you have also enjoyed Rocketman and his music, and we ask you hold a good thought for him too. We miss him, his stories, and his music. Sure its always pretty sitting at the dock having a cold drink, but its just not the same without Rocketman the Pirate singing about life in these beautiful Florida Keys.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Get Out of Dodge!

Today it really sunk in that it's January. Hard to believe, because yesterday the temps here topped 80 degrees. Today they hovered at about the same mark. In fact, we have (gasp) turned the AC back on inside our living quarters. Had to do it, as discussed in prior posts, baking & humidity are not good friends.

I scanned the internet for weather news, and flipped through channels looking at various forecasts. This begs the question to anyone stuck in the cold zone who doesn't want to be there, what's it going to take for you to get the heck out of Dodge?! I see more snow forecast for many areas. Other places are still dealing with icing conditions, and v-e-r-y cold temperatures. Almost every joint on my body aches when I think of that weather and all the unfortunate souls trapped.

We're doing our part down here. As mentioned, we've moved our streaming web cam to capture the sunrises. Tune in about 7a-7:30am to see the incredible sight. Then, turn to your left (or right), look out your window, and contemplate your snow. After that, check your calendar for days off, go on line and check our availability. Book it. If you don't come here, go somewhere, anywhere, to save your sanity. Its only January, there's still a few more months of that's just wrong cold temperatures, and horrifying snow to come. I've lived that life. Winter in the cold & darkness. Counting the days to my next trip to Deer Run (yup, I really did that. I told you before, and I'm not kidding!)

I feel for ya, but you gotta help yourself before anyone else can help, you know? In the meantime, tomorrow the convertible is being sprung out of the garage. I'm dropping the top, and going for a ride. Its just too nice these past few days to let this go by, she's been begging for a date. In January. With the top down. Oh sure, I was so stir crazy in winter up north that I'd occasionally be pathetic enough to drive my car with the top down in January. But, the windows were always up, and the heat was always on (while I wore so many clothes I probably looked like the Michelin Tire Dude). Here and Now? Flip flops, a tank top and shorts. All with my trusty sunscreen at my side. Yup. Its definitely January in the Keys.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Bed & Breakfast of Radical Inclusion

Time marches on. We're already heading into the tail end of January, pretty mind-boggling from where I sit. Let's catch up on a few things, and talk a bit, shall we?

Over the last few days, we've been interviewed by several media outlets, continued to meet wonderful guests from all over the world, had some soaking rains, moved our web cam, and live life in between.

We had a guest here who said she'd never seen such beautiful sunrises as at Deer Run, and suggested we move our web cam to show them to the world. We agree with her. What a great idea, so now check out the new location of the cam (thanks for the great suggestion Elaine!) Presently in our neck of the Earth, sunrise is just after 7am. Our cam will soon have a pan/zoom feature, and then we will be able to show sunsets too. I've been enjoying the new cam location as well. Usually I'm on the other side of the house cooking and baking at sunrise. Now, I duck into the office a few times through morning work to watch the cam stream. Its so beautiful.

The night before last, we had soaking rains, some of which carried over through the day. I heard reports that the rains broke an old record for the same date in Key West, while here on Big Pine I heard a report that we got 4 inches in some places. Very unusual for this time of year, typically this is referred to as the dry season, that's for a reason. South Florida is almost constantly dealing with drought conditions, the Keys are no different. With all that rain, we're still in drought conditions. It was nice for the garden, nice for the animals, and nice to have my car washed, thank you Universe. Now we're back to warm temperatures, today even has quite a touch of humidity added. As soon as I finish this post, I'm heading out for a run, looking forward to running in the heat.

Our friend Dr. Will Tuttle was interviewed by Erika Biddle yesterday afternoon at Key West's own KONK-AM. Both Mr. Happy Vegan and myself watched & listened live via computer. One of the things Dr. Tuttle said which really struck me was that veganism is a system of radical inclusion. Simply defined this statement essentially means that vegans consider all living creatures when making choices, not just their own selfish wants. Of all the ways to summarize what being vegan means to me, there probably are no more perfect words to be said. I then began to think about how I project myself to the outside world on this issue.

Recently, there's been media outlets interviewing us, some briefly, some at length. Most questions deal with the green lifestyle and business aspects, but inevitably talk will come to vegan food and lifestyle. Choosing a vegan lifestyle absolutely goes hand in hand with green living. I realize that some people may feel alienated by veganism. I believe that is mostly because it is misunderstood, as well as the fact that there is knowledge inside most of us that there are major problems with agri-business and the way animals are treated by humans, yet denial takes root when those issues cross our minds. Bringing conversation to veganism forces us to confront those facts. It can make people uncomfortable, yet that is no reason to deny truth and reality.

Looking back at my life so far, I am willing to admit that I am at my best when I am forced out of my comfort zone. It is at those times when I realize just exactly who I really am, and what I am really capable of. Not too long ago, I was listening to a military person speak. He said that most people think we do "our best" but really have no idea what "our best" is because we aren't often tested to our limits. I agree.

It is through education and knowledge that change begins. Deer Run strives to be a place of peace and encourages questions from anyone who guests here or not. We do our best to respond to all queries about environmental issues, including this compassionate lifestyle, and we will always do so. We at Deer Run consider our beautiful home a bed and breakfast of radical inclusion. We hope you do too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Live Radio Interview 11/18/11

Ok, and wow. Things are really in high gear here at Deer Run, in a great and positive way. Although this post is very brief, it is important (aren't they all?!)

Tomorrow (Tuesday) January 18, at 2:00pm, Dr. Will Tuttle is the guest on The Eco-Centric View hosted by Erika Biddle. You can tune at and listen live. I will be listening to the interview, and hope to learn something new. Put up some tea, have a piece of fruit, and let's listen together.
I've got a lot to post about, so I promise I'll be back at the keyboard tomorrow. In the meantime, I do hope you enjoy the show!

Friday, January 14, 2011

On A Wing and A Bean

Didn't crack 70 today. Boo hiss. Sugar detoxing taking its toll, caved in today with two chocolate chip cookies, now feeling remorseful. This, after I had a super-duper lunch of salad, and soup that Mr. Happy Vegan delivered piping hot to me from Good Food. Carrot curry, made by Bonnie, at my request yesterday as I was having a hummus wrap.

Overall the sugar intervention was coming along pretty well, until today's cookies. I'm not going to dwell (too much), instead I decided to get back on the wagon and make soup of my own for dinner tonight. That plan was derailed when Mr. Happy Vegan announced "but I don't like split pea soup." Well, neither do I to be honest with you. I just happen to have a lot of organic green split peas in my pantry. I bought too many when I was decorating for the Christmas holiday, and now I've got to do something with them. But, it will not be soup, at least not tonight.

I have decided to make black bean soup. I've never made this before. I know I like other people's black bean soup. I have a stash of organic black beans, bouillon, organic tomatoes, organic onions, organic carrots, organic rice and dozens of organic spices. I began pulling out cookbooks, and then shifted to on line recipe sites. I've decided to throw all caution to the wind, and make my own damn soup. How difficult can it be?

Here's today's "thing" about eating healthier. If we cook at home, we have a lot more control about putting what's good (or not so good) in that dish. Soup is one of the easiest things to make. Even in my pre-B&B days, I could put together a decent soup (most of the time. Hint for this, never drink & make soup, for you will live to regret the outcome).

Vegan soup making tends to be almost as simple as making those smoothies we talked about yesterday. Choose your basic idea first (bean soup? creamy soup? noodle soup? you get the drift), forage through your fridge & pantry, pull out the biggest pot you have and get to it. I swear, this is my formula, and its not a bad idea.

I never use stocks, which ok sure, sue me. I just don't. Instead, I often rely on low sodium bouillon cubes. I can get a few different flavors (un-chicken, vegetable) and I personally really like the brand Edward & Sons. If I don't use bouillon, I will typically buy shelf-stable containers of different bases made by a company called Imagine. This is great for things like chowders, mushroom soups, etc. Anyway, here's the deal for tonight. I'm taking my biggest dutch oven, heating it up, putting some of my best olive oil in there with some diced onion, and maybe some garlic. After that, I'm going to add shredded carrots and a few cups of water with bouillon cubes. Once that simmers, I'm just going to dump in some diced tomatoes, maybe some corn (yup, I have some frozen organic corn), those organic black beans (canned, watch out for BPA in your canned purchases!), some hot sauce and then go crazy with seasonings. I love cumin, so that's definite. Black pepper, white pepper, & red pepper, yup. After that, I'll taste it and see what else I feel like tossing in. I just got some smoked paprika, and am thinking maybe that will do.

So, you see, soup can be easy, even for a novice. You have to decide what you like, and move from there. For cream soups, you can use your favorite non-dairy beverage instead of milk or cream. For cream, without going crazy and making your own "cashew cream" (I just don't have time for that), you can buy something called Mimicreme in many grocery stores. I've never used it, but seen it on line. Its a vegan "cream" replacer. So, without commenting on the nutritional aspect because I've never seen or used it, just know that it exists. Or, you can use some non-dairy coffee creamer in place of cream (COFFEE MATE IS NOT VEGAN!!!) But, my favorite non-dairy choice is coconut milk. I prefer a reduced fat organic version I can only buy directly from Edward & Sons. Its good stuff. I've seen it in supermarkets and health food stores up on the mainland of Florida, and throughout the northeast. I think its pretty mainstream, just not available to me on my little island.

Sometimes, you can take about 1/4 of the soup out of the pot, puree it, then return it to the pot. Um, make sure you cool the soup first. One of my most notorious soup making experiments was when I lived down the shore in a house with very high cathedral ceilings. I filled my blender (pre-Vitamix days) almost to the top with boiling hot soup, secured the lid and turned on the switch. Kids, don't attempt that. No one explained to me about heat expanding. Science was never a strong suit of mine, that includes food science. I swear, whoever lives in that house better not ever look too closely at that very high ceiling, I think they'll still find some butternut squash soup DNA. I'm just lucky my face didn't peel off in that accident. Hot soup burns, I can attest to that.

Making our own soup we can control the amount of sodium that goes in. Did you ever really read any of those cans the supermarkets sell? Seriously, when is it ok to sell something with over 1000 milligrams of salt per 1/2 cup serving. And, by the way, who eats just a 1/2 cup of soup? Yikes!

You can put any veggies you like, fresh or frozen. Don't go crazy and think "ack, I have to make it the way the book says." Why? Are the soup police watching you? Trust me, they're not. The CSI: soup people are still investigating the great Jersey Shore soup explosion from 10 years ago.

Get your soup pot out. Pull out your veggies, get that stock, bouillon, water, or any liquid you like (um, beer not included, remember what I said) and get stirring. When its all finished, you'll have your dinner ready, and probably enough leftovers for a few days of lunches too. What more can we possibly ask for? Happy stirring!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Drink This!

I once tried to stuff a Green & Black's Maya Gold through my Champion. KIDDING! But, I probably did dream about that.

As much as I love my Champion, I have another kitchen tool which I am just as in love with, my Vitamix. There is almost no chore that cannot be done with the Vitamix. I have watched chefs use them, seen the company's own DVD demos, and have put my own through its paces for several years now. I think if I had but one kitchen appliance to choose (a Sophie's Choice of kitchen tragedy), it would be the Vitamix.

Being on a semi-sugar reducing kick of late, I think its appropriate to talk about how important I think breakfast is. Its the most important meal of the day (um, you've NEVER heard that before, right?) Well, it is. And, probably more of us skip it than any other meal. Why is that? Not hungry when you wake up? Not enough time? Don't know what to eat for breakfast? All poor excuses in my opinion.

For several hours from the moment I wake up, I'm in high gear working. But, even I eat breakfast every day. Don't say "yeah but you're COOKING breakfast anyway, so of course you eat breakfast" because I do not eat that nice fancy breakfast I serve every day. Its not realistic for our high speed culture to take 1 hour or so every morning to eat such a big beautiful breakfast, and I include myself in that statement. Instead, every morning I eat fresh fruit, flax flakes, and some type of non-dairy beverage. It takes about 2 minutes to prepare. Since when is it that any of us are not worth those 2 minutes to prepare a meal for ourselves, and the 5 minutes to eat it?

Another favorite breakfast of mine is a smoothie. You don't need a Vitamix to make smoothies, I just happen to have one. If you have a blender, you can make breakfast. My most absolute favorite smoothie in the world (until someone figures a way to make a Green & Black's smoothie) is frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, and apple juice. All organic of course. Don't be picky about measurements, just put some of the fruit in the blender, add your juice, set your cover, and blend. In seconds, you're enjoying breakfast. If you'd like, have a piece of toasted sprouted grain bread with this. If you must, put a dab of almond butter on your toast. Personally I like mine plain.

Not tempting you? Why not try a green smoothie? Pears are abundant in the winter, even down here. Combine 1 pear, 1 apple, 2 bananas, 1.5 cups baby greens, juice of 1/2 lemon or lime, 1 stalk celery and water. Core & dice your fruit, put everything in the blender, and go. Add enough water to make it drinkable. This serves 2. Talk about a powerhouse breakfast!

One of my favorite green smoothies is 2 bananas, 2 cups baby greens (I prefer baby romaine or baby spinach), 4 medium dates, a few chunks of papaya, and a splash of apple juice. Whirl in your blender, and you're again ready to roll. Serves 2.

I always freeze my bananas before I put them in smoothies. It makes a thicker beverage, which is my personal preference. You peel your bananas in advance, break them into smallish pieces, place them in a Ziploc, stash 'em in your freezer, and you've always got your nanas ready. Bananas are the great "fixer of anything that tastes wrong" in a smoothie. Trust me, it works. Also, I do freeze ALL my fruit, but never any of my veggies used in smoothies. Never.

We get so many papayas in our garden, sometimes its the equivalent of summer zucchini. You know what I mean, don't you? We've all known someone who gives away shopping bags of zucchini from their garden in the summer. Here, its copious amounts of papaya. But, I freeze mine and put it in almost anything that comes out of that Vitamix. Papaya has a lot of health benefits. It's a major digestive aid, and can help our bodies assimilate the nutrients of other foods better. Papaya has a lot of anti-oxidents, which can help our bodies in many ways, including cholesterol issues. Papaya is an anti-inflammatory food, and may help some people to an extent who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, among other ailments.

There's 2 kinds of papaya growing in the Deer Run garden. One is long and oblong, the other is more round with a yellower skin. The round papaya are golden on the inside. The oblong papaya are luscious deep red inside. I don't know the proper names of these variations, I know that those red papayas are a gift from the Universe. There is nothing like a ripe red papaya. Eaten raw, they are incredible. Lots of people down here serve wedges of that papaya, with slices of key lime, then squeeze the lime juice all over the wedge. Its very good, very VERY good.

If you don't have all those papayas in your own garden, perhaps a trip to your local green grocer is in order. Pick up a bag of frozen organic papaya or mango. Then, go home and blend.

You can make any combo you like in your smoothie. For added powerhouse benefit, add in a squeeze of organic flax oil, some spirulina (egads, you DO know what THAT is, right?!), chia seeds, ground flax seeds, or a scoop of your favorite (vegan) protein powder. There's no recipe for these things, there's only your imagination. Let your inner beast go wild.

So, you get my drift, dontcha? EAT BREAKFAST! Fill that travel mug with a smoothie. Any smoothie will do. You have to start somewhere, so pick 2 of your favorite fruits, a beverage (soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, apple juice, etc.) and get to it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Eat this!

Disclaimer: I'm not giving anybody dietary advice. I do not have a degree in nutrition, a degree in medicine, or any degree other than that on a thermometer. You can thank a lawyer for me saying that before I begin. Now, let's begin.

I find myself constantly battling fatigue. Much of this can be attributed to taking short cuts on nutrition, poor sleeping habits, and sometimes stress. New Year, new me? I'm dragging out the juicer, and committing to re-implementing juicing as part of my health management.

I do not take a lot of supplements. I do have some which I must take, beyond that I subscribe to the belief if I eat right, I get what I need. The key here is "if I eat right." Too often I fall victim to poor food choices as most of us do. Vegans are not immune to poor food choices, one can just as easily be a "junk food vegan" as a "junk food carnivore." Ask me and I can probably recite any junk food which is vegan. All that aside, I do have some knowledge about better food choices.

Being that I'm doing this running thing on a regular basis for about 1 year, I've come upon 2 foods which make the difference between a great run, and an "eh, I made it" run. #1 food choice is chia. That's the same stuff I used to smear on various animals shaped terracotta pottery. Chia pets, remember? Yes, but now I eat the stuff. Chia seeds are high in Omega 3s & 6s, from what I read. Chia seeds are high in calcium, iron & fiber. They may be good for our hearts, and heck who doesn't want help with that? I'm a convert, I miss my chia when I slack and don't eat enough of it. You can sprinkle about 1 tablespoon on cooked oats, toss it in a smoothie, mix it in your (non-dairy) yogurt. Pretty versatile.

The other food which really helps with my energy is quinoa. Not as good (for me at least) as the chia on the fatigue issue, but I just love red quinoa and find that a little of the stuff gives me a lot of energy. Quinoa is also gluten free for those of you who care. I'll eat maybe a half cup of it for lunch, organic of course. Put it in a sauce pan, toss in a half cube of low sodium veggie bouillon, and poof 10 minutes later, I'm eating hot food. Happy girl.

I've been slacking on my supplements, slacking on my eating. The sugar has begun to creep back into my life, and its time for it to go away. As mentioned, the Champion is out of the closet, and my veggie drawer is loaded with carrots & apples (my favorite combo to juice). Oh hellyeah I've got a blank for my Champion so I can make my own fruit freezes (WHAT?! You've never had a fruit freeze??? Darling, say it isn't so! A fruit freeze is Champions way of kissing us smack dab on the lips... you put in frozen (organic!) fruit, and out the other side comes creamy soft serve, no other added ingredients. PLUS, you can make your own magical nut butters with that little teeny magical piece of plastic called the blank.)

I've measured out all my vitamins & supplements for the week, and am back on track with them now too. I had my red quinoa for lunch today, and then went for a run, yay! A little cool out there (boo hiss, something wicked this way came, and we're no longer in the 80s, just pushing maybe 70?), but we didn't have a snow pounding like many friends did, so I'm taking it all in stride.

I'm going to be coming at ya with healthy living tips (at least that's the plan) for the next few posts. Today, maybe investigate if you'd like to try some chia, or quinoa (especially the red). I buy both products organic. If my little local island health food store sells these great items, I'm sure you can find them near you too. I guess I better go, boot camp class tonight, and its time for my carrots & apples. Cheers!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Time Flies, As Do Butterflies

I cannot hit a home run every day, can I? I aspire to, but the reality, perhaps not possible.

Today, the weather is glorious. Any word less than that falls short, absolutely. It is 81 degrees as I write. This, in the middle of a brutal January where so much of the country has already been pounded repeatedly by snow, ice, hail, winds, bitter cold, and bad attitudes. Not even mentioned yet is the fact that more snow is heading for the northeast, and yes, I really AM sorry about your snow.

So, here I was all day on Big Pine Key. The skies are so blue its another day where if you go out without your sunglasses, you'll be sorry. Its been hectic here, very hectic. I have so many extra obligations swirling around me its getting a little frustrating. Of course I took Pop up to Marathon for his golf group, and then spent the better part of over an hour marketing up there. I've been quite dissatisfied for a while with our local big chain supermarket, and now make a conscious effort to avoid them. I spend my chain store money at the supermarket in Marathon. I'm up there twice a week anyway. They're certainly treating me better, and providing me with better quality. Of course, Good Food Conspiracy right here on Big Pine is my life line and always will be, we're their #1 fans, they are the best, but sometimes I have to go other places too. All this extra stuff eats up my precious time.

I had every good intention today of running. Not just running, soaring. I've been looking out my window longingly. Perfect weather, but my kitchen chore list was extra long today. I did manage to go outside and investigate a birth in the garden. Today, a new monarch butterfly had a birthday. I've been watching him. It was very exciting, he cocooned up under a leaf of my Cuban oregano. Yesterday I discovered that his leaf had been torn off the plant, but I did recover it, and Mr. Happy Vegan placed the leaf & cocoon in a safe spot on the back of the plant. We noticed the cocoon had turned almost completely black, semi-translucent. We knew it was to be his birthday very soon, and yes, this morning it was. We watched him flap his wings tentatively at first, then more vigorously, drying them off, letting them fill up with butterfly blood, and waiting to take his first flight . By the time I went back out to re-investigate, he was gone. I'm not sad, I'm happy. He will flit and flutter around my garden, I will see him I am certain. They do not go far, usually.

So, it's coming close to dusk, and there is not enough daylight left for my soaring run. I am disappointed in myself. I cannot hit a home run every day with my personal time, but I'll admit, the days when I do not hit that mark, I'm disappointed.

Tomorrow is another day. The forecast is a carbon copy of today. There is no way I will not be out there, no way. For now, I'm clearing the rest of the work out of the kitchen post haste, and pouring a glass of wine very soon. Lesson learned, priorities first. Dinner is poured.

Monday, January 10, 2011


In all my excitement, I've made an error. Dr. Will Tuttle's radio interview will take place NEXT Tuesday 1/18/11 at 2pm on Key West's own KONK-AM radio. You can hear the hour stream live at a week from tomorrow, that's Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 2pm hosted by Erika Biddle on "The Eco-centric View."

My apologies for the error, I must be overdue for a nap!

Another Radio Interview

Another packed day here at Deer Run, but hopes are high for a great day. To that end, I have but a moment to get this post up. World-renowned author, and inn friend, Dr. Will Tuttle is going to be live on the radio tomorrow, Tuesday, January 11, 2011 on Key West's own KONK-AM. This interview will stream live on The 1 hour program is hosted by Erika Biddle, and is the show we were interviewed for last week on the same time slot.

Dr. Will Tuttle is a man who has committed his life to educating people about the important issues of sustainable living and the interconnectedness of a plant based diet. Dr. Tuttle is an accomplished pianist as well (I happen to own one of his CDs). Knowing Dr. Will Tuttle has impacted us greatly at Deer Run, in a very positive way. He travels the world educating people about these important issues, and delivering lectures on his #1 best seller "The World Peace Diet." You can find information about Dr. Tuttle on his web site

As with all people I admire and respect greatly, I cannot say enough wonderful things about Dr. Tuttle. His interview tomorrow will be interesting, of that I am sure. I will be tuning in to listen live, and hope you will too. Its a great opportunity for us to learn something and better ourselves. Education is key. Let's listen together!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Another Day

Woah. I went out for errands in the heart of the day. In the midst of the normal Saturday traffic (flea market, shoppers, residents, vacationers), there was a 190 mile relay race going on, from Miami to Key West. I forgot about that, but wish I remembered. As soon as I rounded the 1st bend on the highway, there was already a rest/aid station set up. There were decorated cars scattered about the whole way for my errands on the highway, and of course, the runners. I didn't pay too much mind til I was on my way back and able to see their faces. Many looked exhausted. But, the relay legs aren't really bad, I understand typically they're 3 to 9 miles, depending what you sign up for. I think what it translates to is moreover how many relay legs a runner has to do. This particular relay I think goes on through the overnight. Good luck with that.

Anyway, I went out for my errands in the midst of all this stuff going on. Driving down US1, a small gecko popped up from behind my windshield wiper. He startled me, the poor little guy. Hanging on for dear life as I made my way through traffic. He tried to climb up the windshield, bad idea. He was smart enough to realize "bad idea" and flattened himself out really low and wide. Funny to watch. I thought about trying to make it to my first stop with him, but he seemed pretty rambunctious, so I pulled over from the highway, and shooshed him off my windshield into the scrub. I felt a little bad, perhaps he was now separated from his friends & family, but at least he wasn't going to blow off my car into traffic. By the way, this little guy didn't have an accent at all, and didn't have a cell phone or wallet on him like the one on TV. He was pretty cute though.

So, with all the extra people out, I was able to accomplish my errands with some delay. I took time to notice how very blue the sky was, and let the sun bask on my skin as I walked around, I'd say it was about 76 degrees. There's a lot of pelicans down here right now, I think they abandoned ship from up north, and like to winter in the Keys. Wise birds.

When I got home, I made a snack, changed into running clothes, and went outside for a run. The street was literally bustling with people walking, biking and driving. Its the time of year when we're all typically at our busiest, who wouldn't want to be in the Keys in January. I see there's more snow in the northeast, some perhaps heading for as far south as Tennessee, and then its possible the mid-Atlantic or northeast may get some more on Tuesday. All this as we fortunate souls down here simply bask in some of the best weather we'll have all year. I absolutely love this warm dry air. Very little wind. Calm waters. Great for kayaking or snorkeling. All the animals seem to be happy with our warm dry days, which cool at night. The Key deer are so funny to watch, their habits, their sweet moments, their cranky times too. Everyone and everything is into the high season groove. I just better remember to check the schedule before I venture out for my next batch of errands.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Missing Kevin

I went to the health food store today. I needed groceries, but nothing major. I could've gotten by with what I have stockpiled, but it was more of a "feel good" visit. I needed to be around good people and recharge my batteries. I've been a bit blue, and had also encountered some negative energy I wanted to purge. Off to the health food store I went.

I went inside the store, and saw all the familiar faces I love, sat at the counter and ordered some soup. As I sat and ate, I looked at Kevin's picture on the shelf above the sink, smiling down upon all in the store. I ate my soup, chatted with people coming & going, and in the quiet times reflected on missing a friend.

My dad summed it up best long ago when he lost a friend & kindred spirit in a plane crash. We CHOOSE our friends, and when they leave us, its a different kind of traumatic experience.

We're just really missing Kevin

I went out on my porch yesterday and studied my big coconut fish again. All the swirly things on it. The big eyes. That black coral. I ran my fingers over all the places where pieces attach, trying to connect with someone no longer here. Trying somehow to channel Kevin's spirit, knowing he touched those same places. Spending his precious time making that piece for me. I imagined him smiling as he worked, and began to feel the spirit of his love.

I miss Kevin. Mr. Happy Vegan misses Kevin. We all miss Kevin. Its not fair that he's gone and we're left behind.

At least staring at his picture today while I ate some soup, maybe we spent some time together after all.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Flower Power

"It" came in the mail today. What exactly is "it," you ask? The first flower & bulb catalogue to clog my mailbox in 2011. More will follow, I'm pretty sure.

Despite repeated attempts to stop these catalogues from coming here, they still arrive. When I lived in the cold zone, I would get these catalogues and instantly begin flipping through them, dreaming of the warm days needed for planting. I have no idea how many catalogues I received year to year, but at the time I treasured them all, looking page by page at the beautiful, perfect blooms, and imagining them in my own garden.

I wasn't much of a gardener up north (as I've discussed), and I'm not much of one down here (as I've discussed). But, when I saw that catalogue I imagined someone stuck in the cold, staring at grey skies and sticks on trees, maybe snow or ice frozen solid about the yard, and thought how much that person might enjoy this catalogue. Maybe you're that person, and maybe you received one of these tempting teasers too.

I don't need these catalogues anymore. There's nothing I can buy from them anyway. I live in Zone 10 for gardening, but my garden is actually something called a "micro-climate" and is a Zone 11. I'm positive of this based upon my gardening failures. If its anything less than Zone 10, it will die for certain. If its Zone 10, it has a 50/50 chance of survival (my own gardening disabilities aside), and really, who ever sees Zone 11 plants in catalogues? This, my friends, is why we at Deer Run are huge fans of xeriscaping. It means planting what belongs. Here, we've got drought conditions, wind, salt, poor soil, and lots of other wonderful issues to contend with. My gardening acquisitions come from the garden club shows, or from garden centers/landscapers who are rated to sell native plantings. Sometimes, we split what is already growing here, and it spreads even more. I've got some cool beach sunflowers, sea oats, lantana, cuban oregano, bay cedar, ornamental succulents, and who knows what else lurks within that garden. Its all good for the birdies, good for the butterflies, good for the planet. We're even a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat, we've got it going on pretty good in that garden of ours.

I admit, I pine for peonys, hydrangeas, and black eyed susans to this day. Maybe I did linger a bit too long on the pages for those plants. The photographs are absolutely seductive. If I was trapped in a snowy area, I probably would've bought 1 of everything for my garden (easier to do in Zone 5 where I was). But, I'm not there now, I'm here. The catalogues keep coming, no matter how hard I try to stop them, so I will look before I recycle. That's about it though. I'm through with staring at my mailbox waiting for the postal person to fill it with flower catalogues, then spending hours every weekend planning my purchases (many of which died despite my best Zone 5 efforts).

Perhaps I can eventually be rescued from the flower catalogues. Perhaps not. In the meantime, maybe you're "up there" in the cold, with a steaming cup of (vegan! organic!) chai tea, flipping through the very same catalogue with visions of "Pardon Me" lilies, some old fashioned bleeding hearts, or maybe the new "Raspberry Sundae" peonies. If so, enjoy to your hearts content. I'll be playing in the sea oats tomorrow, gonna be 77 again. January is no longer reserved for flower catalogues in my world.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Radio Debut Success!

Hey now! Where you there with us this afternoon on KONK-AM radio as we streamed live with Erika Biddle from 2-3pm for her show? I hope you were able to hear at least part of it. We had an absolutely great time. I hope I didn't laugh too much, because sometimes I couldn't help myself. In between segments, commentary & jokes would fly and it was kind of hard to re-compose myself in 2 minutes or less by the time the commercials were over.

So, we were guests for the entire hour. Erika is truly a delight. A very bright woman who lucky for all of us is extremely passionate about environmental concerns. She devotes her own time to go to meetings, call people, follow through on investigation, and all sorts of work needed to become properly educated on issues. Through her program on KONK-AM radio (1500 on the AM dial, but streaming live on she hosts a very wide array of guests, all with an environmental angle. As I wrote yesterday, her program airs live every Tuesday, from 2-3pm.

What I really took away from our time today with Erika is a huge reminder to never give up in the face of adversity. There's more like minded people out there doing good deeds, and championing environmental issues than I often realize. What I must do is continue to surround myself with that positive energy. Oh, it really was a huge shot in the arm being with her today. She took time to chat briefly with us before the program, and she took quite a bit of time to speak with us after the program was off the air too. She shared some great contacts and information for lots of issues that can help us at Deer Run, and help us simply as people living our lives. What a wonderfully educated, caring and giving person Erika is. She is using her efforts wisely, and is pouring her heart in soul into environmental concerns and activism. She is not sitting back in some lounge chair watching soap operas & eating bonbons. Nope, far from it. On her time, she's phoning up legislators, far & near, combing the internet for information & resources, going to networking events as a good steward & activist, and putting her money where her mouth is by supporting local & organic too.

Erika, we at Deer Run thank you and absolutely salute you. To our blog readers, we do hope you caught all or part of the show. I brushed my hair for the occasion, and even put one of my best animal rights t-shirts on. Thanks for your support!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Live Radio Interview Tomorrow 1-4-11 2pm

On Tuesday, January 4, 2011, KONK radio Key West is hosting us as guests on a program titled "The Eco-centric View" with Erika Biddle. You can key in at 2pm and listen live, in fact, you can probably watch it live too. In honor of this occasion, I may take my hair out of its perpetual baseball cap purgatory, comb it, and make some attempt at being presentable.

I was recently contacted by Erika, the host, and invited to be a guest. The program has a focus on green living. I jumped at the chance, but I did ask if I could bring Mr. Happy Vegan along as a guest too. I was told absolutely, bring him along.

Its not that I'm uncomfortable with this type of forum, but more that Mr. Happy Vegan has a vast scope of knowledge on complementary subjects that I do not possess. Mr. Happy Vegan is the one who researches nuts and bolts of things for eco living, for example things like wastewater. In addition, Mr. Happy Vegan possesses more life experience than I do (ut oh, hope he doesn't take that wrong!) and has an incredible ability to problem solve. Plus, Mr. Happy Vegan is an ardent animal rights warrior, and is not one to hold back on that issue. Its awesome to have someone like that next to me.

So, today I spent time on line reading up on issues & statistics, while securing some web sites to share about green living and vegetarian issues, in the event we're asked. I really don't know what to expect tomorrow, but I'm excited for this opportunity, and I feel prepared.

In a semi-related subject, tonight we went to our first Save-a-Turtle of the Florida Keys meeting for the year. The guest speaker tonight was a gentleman from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. He spoke about a few subjects, and presented 2 films. The first was about the Kemp's Ridley Turtle; the second was about a plastic dead zone in the Pacific called the plastic gyre.

The Kemp's Ridley is the most endangered sea turtle in all the world. The first movie was called "Turtle Dance," it is about Kemp's Ridleys. What I learned is that there is a conservation project occurring on a beach in Mexico, close to the border with Texas. This beach is pretty much historically the only known nesting beach for Kemp's Ridleys in the entire world. This project has a goal of bringing the Kemp's Ridley back from the brink of extinction. By the mid-1980s there were 300 or less adult nesting female Kemp's in the world. Talk about being on the brink of extinction. Thirty years ago, one man made a decision to dedicate the rest of his life to try and save the Kemp's. What that turned into was a great conservation project. After the turtle lays her eggs and returns to sea, biologists dig the nests up, and rebury them in protected areas. Once they hatch, the hatchlings are off to sea. Another part of the project is to provide the local human population a way to make money, instead of illegally poaching turtles and their nests. Visit to see ceramics the locals craft piece by piece in lieu of poaching turtles. The result? Today there are close to 6000 adult female nesting Kemp's, thanks to efforts spearheaded by one person. Still critically endangered, but proof is in these numbers that conservation efforts CAN work.

The other film we watched was called "Trashed." It is a short documentary about the plastic gyre in the Pacific Ocean. What I learned is that in 1999 baseline trolling of the region revealed that for every 1 pound of plankton, there was 6 pounds of plastic contamination. Biologists & scientists wondered "what's it like now." So, they went out there "now" (2009), trolled and analyzed the samples. Guess what. In 10 years, the ratio went from 1:6 to 1:46. For every pound of plankton out there now there is 46 pounds of plastic. That plastic is polluting the water both whole, and as it degrades from the chemicals released into the water. That plastic is being eaten by birds, fish turtles and all marine life. That fish is being eaten by people; essentially anyone eating that fish is eating plastic in the form of the chemicals stored by the fish that ate the pollution. That plastic is killing coral. That plastic is killing fish, turtles, birds, the ocean and everything in it. In time, that plastic pollution will kill people. This is no "Chicken Little" story. This is truth.

Every piece of plastic you see on the road, your yard, a beach, forest, or any place other than a designated trash or recycling receptacle WILL make its way to water at some point. Pick up trash when you see it. Then, go inside, have a cup of tea (organic! fair trade!), and tune into and listen to us at 2pm on Tuesday. I'm not sure what we'll talk about, but maybe we'll all learn something new. I know I'm searching for a better way. Won't you join me?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

C'est La Vie

Haha, I just looked up the English definition of that phrase. Still laughing.

My "that's life" moment today was the great vegan ice cream experiment. Mint chocolate chip with.... kale. Remember I wrote about that just days ago? Well, the experiment concluded today. Epic fail. Tastes just like minty kale. File this under "what was I thinking" and move on to the next flavor. I'm mostly sad about this because I had that beautiful organic kale, and now its compost. Insert frown here.

Most of my day was planned around making, then eating, said vegan ice cream. When that didn't happen, I turned to what I often do: running. At least I was able to fit that in. Perhaps the Universe didn't want me eating any ice cream, considering its a big week at the gym. We had a little motivator going in our boot camp class between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Our great boot camp instructor (Hi Halley!) offered up a program we could participate in, or not. Put the appointed money in the kitty pool, and sign up for either a 5 or 10 pound weight loss, or staying the same. I opted in the program, and kept it realistic with the goal of keeping stable over the time. Weigh ins are tomorrow, but.... our Save a Turtle meetings start up again tomorrow at the same time (hooray! turtle season is coming!) so I will be weighed in next class. So maybe I do owe the Universe a big note of thanks for kale ice cream tanking. A huge volume of baked goods and other great food poured out of my kitchen in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's. It was pretty challenging at times to keep sight of my goals. On percentages, I did well most days, but was it good enough?

So, as mentioned, turtle meetings start again tomorrow. Mr. Happy Vegan still offers up his time as a Board member for Save a Turtle of the Florida Keys. There's great ideas being bantered about for the upcoming season ahead. Its time to think about mobilizing for bigger beach cleanups, and time to think ahead for the training needed, as well as the time needed for beach walking and continuing on as a stranding & salvage volunteer. Both of us intend to continue volunteering our time with Save a Turtle of the Florida Keys, and I'm already thinking about hatchlings bursting out of the sand, scrambling to sea.

I think the high temperature here today was about 76, humidity was relatively low, and we had another glorious January day on Big Pine Key. Have you dug yourself out of your snowbank yet and checked on flights? Whatcha waiting for?

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Happy New Year! Welcome to 1/1/11. Yes, today welcomes the New Year. As Oprah says, "another chance to get it right." A blank sheet in front of us in terms of possibilities, wouldn't you agree? I always am so happy to turn the calendar away from December, and move ahead to a perceived time of "tutto e possible" (forgive any misspellings!)

I'm not sure how it happened, but I overslept this morning. That is so not good when half of my job says "breakfast" in it. Thankfully I had done all of my prep yesterday, so it was easy to make up the time, at least this morning. I enjoyed my coffee (no resolution here to drink less of that stuff!), read the paper, and relaxed after chores. We then headed out to a New Year's Intuitive Arts Fair being held this weekend on Big Pine. There were several healers on site, and one of my favorites was here, a man named Digby, who has an amazing wealth of knowledge about crystals, stones, amulets, and so forth. I think he's from the Orlando area, but not positive about that. I went over to see him. I had searched 4 years for a special object, and finally found what I was looking for with him last year. Then, in October I found that long searched for, and very treasured object, broken on my floor. I couldn't believe it. So, Digby was here, and I began looking over his display. I found a beautiful Ganesh ring with an amethyst stone set within. I'd never seen anything like it. I tried it on. It was so beautiful. I love the Ganesh, and what it represents (simplifying the lore, the Ganesh is the remover of obstacles). I placed the ring aside, knowing it was coming home with me. I asked if he had any more of the objects like the one I bought last year that had shattered... he did. He pulled out a box with several items, and let me go through them all.

I was told by my friend Marney that sometimes our crystals and stones "take one for the team" meaning they will sacrifice themselves for us when needed. She told me that is very possible with my special object that I found broken. Then, while at the Fair, a woman named Debra who works with crystals and more told me that perhaps the message from my broken object is that I was putting too much energy into it, relying upon it too much. I had never considered either perspective, and I welcomed the information. I didn't overthink selecting a new special object. I found one I liked, much more simple than my broken one, and purchased it with the ring.

As we were leaving the Fair, Mr. Happy Vegan and I contemplated stopping for a bite to eat, or maybe an iced tea. We kind of looked at each other and both decided "why?" Everything we could possibly want is home, so let's go home. And, we did.

A nap awaited, and all the kitties around here welcomed me home. I ventured into the garden to check on an incubating monarch in chrysalis. He's still there; today was not his birthday. Maybe tomorrow. Then, I decided to go for a run. It was 76 degrees when I checked the temp. The sky here today was so bright blue, it almost hurt to see it. Not a cloud in the sky. About 25 minutes in, a runner's high hit. Doesn't happen all the time, but today oh, yeah.

I added about 45 minutes of strength training to the end of the run, and about 1/4 mile from home, a tall figure literally sprinted by me. I had my iPod on, even so, I heard him coming, he was so fast. As he whizzed past, it took a second for me to realize who it was.... world renowned author of "The World Peace Diet" and inn-friend, Dr. Will Tuttle. I cannot recommend Dr. Tuttle's book enough. I have a signed copy which I've read it several times, and I love it. There's so much information in there, Dr. Will is really an amazing talent with a very important message. So, out on the street I called out "WILL!" Definitely scared the heck out of him, he whirled around, already pretty far ahead of me and hollered back "WHO ARE YOU???" and then I laughed because I'm a runner's wreck after one and a quarter hours on the street, never with any right mind would I want anyone to recognize me. After duly identifying myself, we hugged and I welcomed him back into town. We had a visit, and I admit I felt pretty guilty interrupting his run, I probably should've just caught his tailwind and let it carry me the last bit home.

All in all, my year has started out fantastic. I made no resolutions. None. I never live up to them anyway, so I stopped kidding myself. Instead, I'm looking ahead at the endless possibilities. This year, we're going to save the world, one veg meal at a time. Wouldn't that be great? Yeah, I know, I know, not gonna happen, but I'm doing it anyway.

Happy New Year. What will YOU do this year? Fix yourself a veggie burger, have some salad, and mull it over.