Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Odd Music

The fact that I'm an insomniac isn't really helped by the fact that my cats snore. They snore often, and loudly. It's not a big deal, I guess, unless I come upon a night like last night. I just couldn't sleep. I woke up about 2am, and channel surfed for hours.

I allow my cats to sleep on my bed. Its comforting to me, and comfortable for them. Lemon (who I haven't yet introduced you to on my blog) likes to sleep near my shoulder on the edge of the bed. When I woke up last night, he found my attention annoying, so he bailed to sleep on the floor. Within seconds, Pink Moon moved up to his empty spot. She's a good sleeper; a happy sleeper. She too snores. Pink dreams often, I know this because her little feet move as if she's running, or she makes funny noises while her ears & what's left of her whiskers twitch. Once Pink was by my side, I gave her a bit of a kitty massage as she quickly fell back to deep sleep. The next thing I knew, there was a ruckus, a thump, and bit of an "mrrrrrrw" sound. Pink had snored and dreamed her way to fall off the bed. I couldn't help but laugh. She shook it off and bounced back up within a minute or two.

The thing that kind of got me thinking about all this was actually Agatha Rain. By far, Aggie is the loudest snorer in the bunch. I listen to it all day. We've got a decent size cardboard box tucked under one of our office desks, which happens to be just next to where I spent many hours on the computer. Aggie loves this box, and although it started out as a place to put office papers in for recycling, she thinks its just for her. And, she sleeps in it all day long. Plus, she snores all day long. It's funny to listen to her snoring any time of night or day, its oddly musical. This cat sleeps A LOT. I think more than most felines. She's content. She was so abused that she really finds her bliss in simple things like naps, food and sunny patches. She's a kitty after my own heart, and she has it firmly entrenched in her paws, absolutely. Even now, as I write, she's near my feet. Snoring.

Mr. Happy Vegan constantly asks me why its ok for the cats to snore, and if he does the same it usually ends up with a poke to the ribs. I'm not sure how to answer that, truly I have no idea why its ok. But, it just is.

Pink is under the covers in my bedroom at this very moment, sleeping & snoring. Aggie is at my feet, sleeping & snoring, Lemon is napping in his habitrail probably snoring, but too far away for me to check for sure, and Luciana is glassy-eyed in the sun, just on the edge of the beginning of a good nap. Snoring is sure to follow.

This is the last day of our "dry season" down here. June 1 marks the technical beginning of the "wet season" so the temps are high, the cats are long, and the snoring comes often. Meow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Joy and Pain

She has arrived, the first fawn in our herd here at Deer Run! I was inside doing some chores on Wednesday afternoon when Mr. Happy Vegan retrieved me with an urgent message "come outside NOW." I did. There she was.

We have nicknamed her "Tofu Daisy."

I grabbed my camera (I know better now, anytime Mr. Happy Vegan tells me to come outside now, its 99.9% of the time animal related) and headed out. There was a small herd of adult does, and the baby. I went to a spot where no deer were, but close enough for me to get some photos. I sat down on the pea rock, then began shooting, and watching. I was there for an hour or so. I took over 200 pictures. I was there long enough that the deer meandered into my general direction. I did not lure them there. I did not feed them. I did not talk to them. I simply sat there watching, and taking pictures.

I suppose it best for me to explain something before I go further. There are no pictures attached to this post because somehow the cyberworld ate them. Over 200 photos, and I had never been that close to a fawn before either. But, they're gone. You can imagine how that conversation went with Mr. Happy Vegan, can't you?

Back to the story.

Tofu Daisy, and the others, were in the area grazing on the teeny tiny flowers that fall in great abundance this time of year from our dogwood tree. Tofu Daisy was reveling in the little pockets of water she found on our giant philodendron plants. Tofu Daisy would run, jump, and stop suddenly to play. Then she would come back to the herd, for the love and protection necessary as part of her survival skills.

Tofu Daisy would raise a tiny hoof from time to time to get mommy's attention. Mommy nuzzled her often, and little TD engaged in some group grooming. This all was such an incredible sight to see. I have never been that close to a newborn, and I have never witnessed the grooming behavior either being done by a newborn. Both myself and Mr. Happy Vegan understand the incredible gift it was to see all this, for we also understand the incredible plight these animals face.

I do have a telephoto lens, I was able to get quite a few close up shots. Its important that I keep writing here over and over that I did not lure them, I did not talk to them, I did not feed them because there is always a darker side to things like this, and here it comes.

This morning on the north end of our street, a newborn fawn was hit and killed by an anonymous driver. Bad enough the driver did this, but they fled, and left the fawn alone to die in the street. Two turtle walkers who were on the street heading to park their car in order to patrol for nests came upon the sight of the dead fawn in the street, with an adult doe and another fawn circling, crying with grief. They were actually bleating out grief stricken cries over the fallen. Most likely this was the fawn's mother, and also likely the other fawn was a twin of the one hit and killed.

On Wednesday when I was taking all these photos, I expected to write a post filled with joy. Before I could even get the photos downloaded (which were eaten, I hate computers) the tragedy happened.

This is an outrage, and we're not hiding in anonymity about this. We here at Deer Run have spoken with the Key Deer Refuge officers and informed them we will be taking photos of anyone we see feeding the deer on the street, with photos of the vehicle & license plate. We will forward them to the Refuge for citation. We will take license plates of speeders whenever possible, and file citizen complaints. No one is immune. Further, I am no longer simply going to pick up all the trash from the tipped cans I see, instead I am lodging complaints with the County. The tipped cans lure the deer to the street. Anyone who lives or visits here knows well enough that we have deer and raccoons as scavengers. Ignorance, apathy or laziness is no excuse for improperly secured trash. I'm sick of it, and I cannot bear the sight of another fawn, or adult deer, dead on our street if I have anything to offer to the contrary.

Tofu Daisy is maybe 7 weeks old. She was busy on Wednesday licking water off plants, testing what was on the ground with the "is this food?" wonderment that all newborns must discover (no little Tofu Daisy, pea rock is not food, silly girl), following her mommy and all the others in the herd for protection, and in general learning all there is to love in her world. Now, another of her kin, probably engaging in the exact same activities as our beloved TD was joyfully doing on Wednesday, is dead.

Help us be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Do not speed on Big Pine Key, during fawning season, or anytime. Do not litter. Do nothing to lure animals to the street. They are dying at the hand of humankind, please do your part to help them survive.

Friday, May 20, 2011


I was reminded today that I'm not the only person on the planet who upon moving to a new location (here), from an old location (there), didn't know what to expect. Or more importantly, where to shop. I met a kindred spirit of this ilk today while shopping for a dress.

I've been looking for a dress for an upcoming something pretty important in the fall. Why shop now? Because with only a few months to shop, I'm already cutting it close. Where do you shop for a semi-formal or formal dress when you live on Big Pine Key? Well, many people would say "Miami," but I just won't go. Believe it or not, since I've moved here I have not been to Miami once. Not once. When I lived in the cold zone, oddly enough I tended to visit Miami about 4 times a year. Go figure. Now that I live down here, I just cannot fathom dealing with that city anymore. Too many people, too much crime, too much of everything. Its not worth going just for a dress, the stakes would have to be much higher to get me up there at this point.

Shopping for this event is going to be an adventure.

While shopping at a vintage clothing store, I stumbled upon a couture dress which was really nice. I tried it on, didn't fit. Another gal shopping struck up a conversation with me upon seeing the label on the dress I was carrying. As soon as she spoke, I knew "city girl." I was right, she was from Philadelphia. She's a fresh newbie down here, and seemed to be going through shopping withdrawl, which made me laugh. With every word she said, I knew more and more I understood EXACTLY how she felt.

So this city gal and I spoke for a few minutes. She begged me to tell her where to shop (I did). I told her the news that no matter what, it will likely always be hit and miss down here when shopping for anything and everything.

It is very true, the hit and miss shopping thing. For anything. For everything.

I had to make a road trip to Key West today for Daiya (awesome vegan cheese substitute) and soy yogurt (none to be found anywhere from here to way past Marathon!) All the way to Key West for those 2 simple items, which unfortunately I had run out of and couldn't get anywhere except Key West. While I was in Key West, I hit a couple shops (still looking for a dress) and found absolutely nothing of the semi-formal or formal variety. Not one single dress. I've had better luck on Big Pine believe it or not, where I scored a beautiful floor length gown at a local designer consignment shop. This is my "back up" dress, in case I cannot find the dress of my dreams, because after all I only have 6 months to find said dream dress.

That "city gal" asked me how I felt about living here now, because I told her I was a transplant too. I explained that I cannot imagine living anywhere else anymore, no matter what. I suggested she give it a couple years for the full adjustment to hit, and with that she'd be just fine if she goes with the flow. I explained sometimes "going with the flow" means adjusting our sails to the wind more than we'd be accustomed if living in a city, but in my opinion bottom line is its all worth it.

Mick Jagger said it a long time ago... You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need. Sure, he wasn't singing about a dress or Daiya, but he just as well may have been, because want vs. need is all the same no matter how you slice it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rolling on at 102

I finally got some pictures uploaded from my camera onto the computer by Mr. Happy Vegan. There's been a few things over the past few months I've touched on, but didn't post much about because I wanted photos. Here's one of those posts, with a photo.

Pop turned 102 in March. Think about that everyone, 102 birthdays. Still going strong. I love Pop. Mr. Happy Vegan loves Pop. His family loves Pop, and his massive amount of friends love Pop. He's a great role model, and has good intentions in everything he does.

I'm fortunate, I get to spend a fair amount of time with Pop. You know I drive him up and back over the dreaded 7 Mile Bridge for his twice weekly golf games which he runs. Just want to remind you that's a total of 8 trips up and back over that evil bridge for me. I do it because its important to Pop. Those games aren't just games for Pop, rather they bring him to people who are like family for him. They look out for him, often providing meals for him to take home too. Pop has his day on the course, needling the players in the group along, sitting on his cart and thinking a lot. He tells me about the animals he sees during the day, and very often on the drive home he has stories to tell me. He almost always breaks out into song at some point too.

Pop has adapted to the world as it now is, for the most part. He has never touched a computer, and has no plans to do so. That, I think, is really something that emphasizes just how different the world was for most of Pop's life. I don't know, I guess it doesn't really matter, does it? What matters is that I have a friend who waits in a chair for me as I run by, just to wave hello... and is sitting in the same chair waiting to wave again on my way back. It matters that I have a friend who has a special perspective on the world, and it matters that I have a friend who probably appreciates my baking more than anyone I've ever known, including Mr. Happy Vegan. My 102 year old friend is full of important life lessons; he reminds me to be grateful for everything I have, to give to those in need, to always be kind, and to have fun any way I can get it. Pop lives what he preaches, indeed he does.

Friends on the street planned fireworks & cake for Pop's #102, all went off without a hitch. At the end of the celebration, I simply walked up to Pop, collected my requisite kiss, and listened as he put his cake order in for #103... "chocolate cake, honey, with a side of kisses." But of course. You got it Pop.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Its fawning season down here. The Key deer are beginning to have their babies. I mentioned over a week ago that I saw the first fawn of the season while driving out one late afternoon. Since then I hadn't seen any more at all. Until this weekend.

I'm seeing fawns at every turn. On the road (wish they wouldn't go there!), on other people's yards, in driveways, and in the woods. I've seen several while I'm running too, it doesn't hurt that I've added another mile to my runs... that's another mile to see fawns.

Where I'm not yet seeing any is within our own herd here. I will, I'm sure of it, any day now. I've seen quite a few mommies in our herd, looking read to drop any second. I see their tummies moving like mad, I guess those crazy kids inside are using mom as a punching bag til they break free.

Keep looking at our cam, you will be sure to see fawns in the herd soon. I'll post when I see our first, I'm keeping a close eye on things. I get just as excited as the next person over this, and things are looking good.

Remember when you drive through Big Pine, don't be in too much of a rush. A fawn can jump out into the road following her mommy, and you won't have time to stop if you're not paying attention or driving too fast. What's an extra minute or two between friends anyway. Where have you got to go in such a rush... we're on island time. Thanks!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pilot Whale Stranding

Just about one week ago, 21 pilot whales stranded Gulfside off Cudjoe Key. That's not far from here, only a few miles in fact.

I waited a while before posting anything about this. Maybe you heard about the stranding, it was all over the news when it first happened. Even the big news outlets like CNN had stories on this. I was, and still am, torn over the rescue effort for these whales. As with anything else, you may or may not like what I am about to write, but hey, this is my blog after all. Here goes, for good or for bad.

No one knows why mass strandings like this happen. There's theories out there, of course. Some think they strand from sonar disruptions. There is a navy base in Key West. Maybe its related. I don't know. There have been other mass strandings in the Lower Keys. In 2003, 28 pilot whales stranded just off Big Pine Key.

Another theory is that an infirm/elder whale strands itself to die, and the rest of the pod simply follows. I wouldn't rule that out either.

When the mass stranding was discovered, there was an immediate aid effort organized, with a call for volunteers. I didn't think I'd be able to volunteer, remember I cannot swim. I learned there are other ways to volunteer, and also the whales were shallow so it wouldn't be over my head waterwise. So, we did sign up as volunteers. We were not needed at the time, and were moved to the back up list.

Fourteen of the 21 whales died. Two were rehabbed enough in just a few short days that they were released. This is a wonderful thing. A tracking device was placed on those 2 whales. Hopes are the devices will last 2-3 months. For now, the devices are functioning, and the whales are being tracked. It is known they are swimming in very deep water, heading in the direction they belong. Thank you Universe.

The remaining 5 are a different story. Those remaining 5 were moved to the Marine Mammal Conservancy in Key Largo ( It was a herculean effort to get them there, a lot of people were involved, officials, volunteers, cranes, trucks and so forth.

I saw a photograph of 2 of the pilot whales being readied for transport to Key Largo. It stopped me cold. It seemed wrong, all wrong. There they were, loaded into a large refrigerator truck. I guess they were placed via crane. I did see photos of cranes at the site, these ARE whales we're talking about. I presume the media is semi-accurate when they report the weights at about 700 - 800 pounds, approximately, each (depending on their age). I started to imagine what those whales were feeling the moment the photographer captured those photographs. What I imagined was not good.

When the stranding first was discovered, there were a lot of unknowns; there still are. I personally felt that it was appropriate to have the specialists and veterinarians assess the animals to determine, if possible, their condition and who perhaps could be saved. Now that more time has lapsed, I am not as supportive of the efforts as they continue. Its not that I don't realize those involved have absolutely the BEST of intentions, because I believe they do. As time has begun to pass, I cannot help but wonder more and more "is this still in the best interest of the animal." I'm just not sure anymore.

Of the five pilot whales that were transported just in the last day or so, another has been euthanized today. It seems he was not responding to treatment, not at all. This, after the trauma of the stranding, the week of rescue efforts, a truck ride 80 miles away, and more critical care. It was decided he's suffering, he's not responding at all, so he is euthanized after all that. Instead of letting him die in nature, stranded, yes, but still with his pod, and in the shallows of his ocean. Either let nature take its course, or euthanize on site. Not 24 hours after the trauma of the transport. He was too weak to rebound from the transport I guess, and got even weaker. My heart is breaking over this for so many reasons. I am not alone.

Now there are four.

Pilot whales are a social species. They are cetaceans, in the dolphin family. They are highly intelligent, social, vocal and very communicative with each other. I wonder about those 4 whales at the rehab center. What are they feeling? I'm sure they are mourning the loss of most of their pod. I'm sure they are scared, and filled with anxiety over all the stress they have endured, from when they stranded, to when all the strangers came to help them, to the cranes loading them into refrigerated trucks donated by a food chain, to the unloading at the center, and through the ongoing treatment.

Through all of it, the fact is we do not know why this happened. Humans are so arrogant. We think we know a lot. We know nothing. We know less about our ocean and those that live in it than we do about our moon. Incredible.

So, there are all these efforts going on, and is it the right thing to do? I have no answers, and won't pretend to. It doesn't matter what I think, it doesn't matter what I type here. It will not change what is going on, nor will it change the outcome. Of course I want these animals to survive, but what happened is part of nature. We cannot pretend to understand. I want to understand, I want to know. But, until we can communicate as one pilot whale to another, we will not understand any of this.

There are 4 pilot whales at the Marine Mammal Conservancy in Key Largo tonight instead of swimming free in the ocean. One is in critical condition, the other 3 are in stable but guarded condition as I write this. I hope this was the right thing to do, and I hope they survive to swim free in the ocean for a very long time. Rescue efforts may take 2 months, or longer.

Keep those 4 souls in your thoughts. And, for those working to help these animals, please keep them in your thoughts too. Right or wrong, whats done is done, and we can all only hope for the best.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Smell of Summer

My calendar informs me technically its not summer. I beg to differ because I smell Summer.

How can one actually smell Summer, you might ask. Well, as easy as it is to smell Autumn in the leaves, Winter in the snow, and Spring in cut grass is as easy as it is to smell Summer in the suntan lotion.

The weather is changing down here. We're on the edge the dry season ending, and the wet season beginning. Its getting hot, and will get hotter. Heat indexes are moving into the 90s some days already. Locals are planning time off and talking about vacations. Best of all, almost everywhere I go, I smell tanning butter. Often that's because its slathered on me. Going outside for a run? Don't forget the suntan lotion. Working in the garden? Suntan lotion. Beach cleaning? Suntan lotion.

Our guests bring an array of sun care products. Lotions, butters, creams, sticks, and more. The smell is constantly in the air. Although I don't use Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone or Banana Boat any longer, I can identify their smell anytime, anywhere. They take me back to my own looooong days and nights spent at the Jersey shore. I was an SPF 6 Hawaiian Tropic gal (I hear the dermatologists groaning with that admission). Seemed like everyone wore one of those 3 brands. Hawaiian Tropic smells best, its like an instant road trip down Memory Lane. There's nothing wrong with that in my world, when it comes to all things beach.

One constant in my life from the beginning is the appreciation of the shore. My parents would take us there, my grandparents had a house there, and the love never left my soul. When I didn't live at the shore, it didn't matter because driving there was simply a fact of life. Every summer weekend I'd wake up at dawn, and be on the road towards my favorite secret shore town just a few minutes later. It didn't matter if it was raining, I always had faith the sun would shine at the shore, so I always made the trip. I'm not kidding. Without fail, I went. If it DID rain, I would often still be on the sand, as long as the lifeguards weren't chasing me off due to lighting risk.

My beach bag was always packed and ready in my car. It had 2 oversize beach towels, a smaller towel for pillow usage, a special pair of sunglasses designated as beach only glasses, binoculars, the SPF 6, hand towels, flip flops, hot pink Zinka for lips (do they even make that anymore???), and a few other choice items. All I had to do upon waking was toss my frozen water bottles in a tiny cooler, pack some fruit & Luna bars, put the hair in a ponytail, and throw on a bathing suit. Out the door I went, heading for the Parkway, VanHalen blasting, and quarters in the console (waaaay before EZ Pass). I'd stake my territory by 8am, cover myself in suntan lotion, and become a human sundial for the day. About 5pm I'd pack up the beach blanket, head to the car, ditch the bag and grab a bite to eat before driving home. The next day would be the exact same scene.

Some weekends I planned evening playtime after spending the day on the beach. If that was the case, I'd have a dress and heels stashed in another bag, hairspray (sorry ozone layer, I was bad back then) and pink lipstick in yet another bag, plus some phone numbers of friends in my wallet so I could find a shower before heading out to a dance club.

I loved it. Was that really me?

I've learned to no longer be a human sundial, and to bump up the SPF factor a few notches since those Jersey shore days. Best of all I don't have to drive to get to a favorite secret beach anymore. But, I still know the smell of Summer, and I hope it lasts forever.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. A day set aside to honor the person who, in theory, puts her children and their needs before herself, and her needs. I had a mom just like that.

We didn't have much money when I was small so mom used to make many of my clothes. I didn't think much of it when I was really small, but a few times as I was in grade school I was teased because I had clothes that didn't really look like other kids. The teasing didn't bother me too much, usually, because I loved the special clothes mom made for me and I felt really special wearing them. I remember mom taking me to the fabric store pouring through patterns sometimes for hours together. She would describe the changes she was going to make to the designs, then we'd go home and sift through fabrics together. She'd tell me how it would be when the project was finished. Mom communicated with me in a way I could understand best. I always knew by her descriptions and time spent showing me the fabric what something would look like, and I was always excited to watch the projects unfold. Mom had dozens of bolts of fabric and fabric remnants stashed in her sewing room, jars of buttons everywhere, an actual dress form mannequin probably worth hundreds of dollars today (mysteriously vanished someway, somehow) and cabinets of full of patterns and dreams. Most of that fabric and those buttons came from thrift shops, yard sales and flea markets. Mom was a garage sale queen, and made sure I became one too.

Mom was exceptionally artistic and creative. She could sew, she could paint, she played guitar, she could draw. Mom could do anything, especially when it came to making something out of nothing. This I believe is where the seeds were sown in my own self as far as being able to see something very different when looking at any particular object.

One Halloween there was a local costume contest sponsored by a record store. Everything had to be home made. Mom was excited, she made our costumes and we entered the contest. We were immediately disqualified by the judges, they said no one could make costumes that good, they must have been purchased. Mom was furious, and as weird as this sounds its something I don't think she ever got over. She perceived it as an injustice (which it was). I think it was there and then when I began to understand what justice and injustice was, and that I first understood (even so young) that not everything in life is fair. Oddly enough, I remember the store playing "Me and My Arrow," on the sidewalk loudspeaker, so any time I hear that song, I think of my mom too.

My mom taught me to read, before "home schooling" was called "home schooling." Mom taught me old-fashioned manners, to say "please," when asking for something, "thank you" when given something, and to always ask to be excused when leaving the dinner table. Mom nurtured my own love of animals, and our home always had companion animals living with us. Although mom was not a vegetarian, I am pretty sure that had she lived longer than she had, she would have come to embrace a compassionate lifestyle if only she had the opportunity to know back then about the cruelty involved in so many industries.

Mom insisted I learn to play a musical instrument, scrimped and saved so I could have private lessons, and took great pride in my accomplishments. She went to mother/daughter breakfasts with me, helped me earn badges for girl scouts, taught me how to bake cookies, and how to make make our own Christmas ornaments from homemade clay. She made me take my vitamins before vitamins were trendy, and she always looked to Adelle Davis's "Let's Get Well" book for remedies before contemplating anything mainstream medical. She also taught me the thinner you slice an eggplant, the better it will be when fried (ah... the days when frying food was ok).

Mom made suet balls for the birdies in winter, put cat beds on the porches outside for the stray kitties, and was responsible for adopting probably the best cat I've ever known who we named Guido.

Mom loved fashion, and the fact that money was tight was no reason not to have a fashion forward, polished & sophisticated appearance. I remember mom looking at herself in the mirror as she set her hair in what looked like ancient hot rollers. I now have that same mirror and I think about her hot rollers almost every time I look at my own reflection. Mom was absolutely beautiful. Tall, thin, with incredibly perfect skin. Mom had a lot of class.

Mom was taken from this earthly plane relatively young. At the time of her death, she and I were finally just beginning to reconnect after I had gone through a particularly rebellious phase. We were once again shopping together, having lunches out together, and I was finally beginning to again appreciate the wonderful, amazing woman that she was. Then suddenly, one day she was gone. Just like that.

Nothing in my life could have prepared me for the loss of mom, especially at that stage and age. Nothing. After more than 25 years, I still sometimes think I'll be able to talk to her on the phone, or just see her walking by. Of course that doesn't happen. The older I get, the more I come to realize how much I am like my mom. I think that was part of the reason I rebelled so much at one point, I didn't want to be like her, but had no idea being like her was really not a bad thing. I guess that's natural for any youth, to a certain extent.

Now, I think of mom every day and wish she could see the work that we are doing here, meet her only grandchild (my nephew), sit on a beach surrounded by tiny deer and cats, paint the sky, or just "be."

Loss is a funny thing. When it happens, there's the shock and trauma of it, and finally you put some pieces of your life back together. You move on, whatever that means. But what I have found is that longer someone is gone from my life, the more I miss them and the harder the loss actually is. Mother's Day is like that for me.

I wish my mom was here. I would buy her a tree and plant it for her. I would cook her an amazing vegan dinner (with cake too!) I would want her to sit on my beach and play with the acrylics for hours this afternoon, painting and playing. I would make her a martini and we would be together doing these things, not talking much. There wouldn't be too much to say, she'd know what I was thinking anyway, I'm sure of it. Maybe she'd help me blend the paints better to get a more perfect shade of aquamarine. Beyond that, no, not much to say. Darkness would begin to fall, the stars would come out, and I would have one more chance to tell her "Thank you Mom, you're the best."

Happy Mother's Day Mom. You were the best.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

White Crowned Pigeon!

Thanks to the Universe aligning for me, I didn't have to cook breakfast this morning; our guests had other plans! I "slept in" until 7:20 this morning. That's almost noon-ish in B&B terms. I was pretty happy about this whole "sleeping in" thing. I had my coffee, read the paper, visited with the kitties, watched Peri (and Elsa) have their breakfast, folded 3 baskets of laundry, and still managed to get outside for a run by about 8:30. Everything was going along just swimmingly until my iPod made a funny noise and announced in the best voice it could "battery low." I thought, well, this has happened before, I can get my miles in no problem! It will last, and then I'll charge it when I get home. About 1/4 mile later, it was unceremoniously done. Finished. Kaput.


Running without my iPod? I haven't done that in months. My choices were turn around and go home, or press ahead. It seemed ridiculous to consider going home. It was a beautiful morning, really it was great. Plus, being out so early I didn't have the heat to contend with as I usually do. I tossed the bad thoughts out, kept the iPod in my ears, and went about my business. I had imaginary music swirling in my head helping me keep my pace. I began to pay attention to all that was around me and started to hear the crabs rustle in the scrub, fish splashing in the Bight, and all the different bird songs. I forgot how amazing it can be running in silence. Really, this road is so exceptionally quiet most times, especially mornings.

I passed just 2 other people; 1 walking, the other on the way back from the Lodge to get coffee & a paper. The only other company I had was the animal kingdom surrounding me. All told, I saw 2 types of iguanas, several very large land crabs, many endangered Key deer (no fawns seen this morning), lots of red winged blackbirds, cardinals, mourning doves, osprey, ibis, an unknown type of small hawk, several types of small shore birds, egret, a huge great white heron, a few other birds I couldn't identify, and the kicker of them all.... my first white crowned pigeon of the year. I am sure it was a WCP, he flew very near overhead, I have no doubt what I saw. I looked for his mate, but no one else flew by.

I'm so excited to see the white crowned pigeons every year. These birds are threatened by loss of habitat, hunting (no longer allowed) and other issues like pesticides. In our country, they are found only in the Florida Keys, and the southernmost part of the Florida mainland. We've had birders come from far away places to stay at Deer Run hoping to add "white crowned pigeons" to their life lists, many have gone home without spotting any. Disappointing for them, I feel their pain. I do not take it for granted being able to see these beautiful birds, which is why I was so excited to see one today.

I admit, the iPod is back on the charger, tomorrow I do not plan on a silent run. I may change my mind once I'm out there, but I won't have the benefit of being out so early tomorrow. Back to reality, running in the already blistering mid-afternoon heat. It's all good, even better with Mother Nature at the helm. A little funky soul on the iPod never hurts either.

Monday, May 2, 2011


She's arrived! We've spotted the first fawn of the season this evening. I'm so happy I could cry.

A friend of mine is in town for a few days R&R. We were heading to Marathon for an early dinner, then off to the Save-a-Turtle of the Florida Keys monthly meeting at The Turtle Hospital. We were driving in a section where there are no houses. I was on the cell phone with a customer, and D was driving. We rounded a bend extra slowly (thanks for being such a conscientious driver by the way!) and an adult doe strolled into the street. D slowed to just about a rolling stop, giving the doe plenty of space. Within seconds, a beautiful baby Key deer emerged from the woods trailing mommy. She was so small, I say this all the time, but so exceptionally small, its a sight to behold. Since I was on the phone I couldn't holler out, instead, I began to smack my poor friend D's arm.... she told me to put in here that I was smacking her "sunburned arm" so I am. Its true, she has sunburn, I forgot, and I smacked the boo-boo. Sorry girlfriend.

We were both jumping in our seats, and I couldn't wait to get off that phone call. The minute I did I began to shout "first baby! first baby! first baby!" and we had our little moment of joy.

First baby. I wish I had my camera, but there will be plenty of opportunities for photos. Its important to stay as far away as possible from the babies to insure their natural instincts take over as much as possible. I want them to be afraid of people and cars. People are not the answer to their survival, rather I believe their survival depends on us protecting their habitat, and interfering as little as possible with these endangered animals. You absolutely cannot help but truly fall in love when you see one of these magnificent baby Key deer.

Yup, first fawn. She's here. That means there's more out there already, and many more to arrive. Make sure if you're driving on Big Pine Key you drive extra slowly. The adult does typically walk out first, and the fawns trail behind a little after. They have no fear, they haven't learned that cars mean death, that people are bad. So, give them a fighting chance at survival, drive S-L-O-W-L-Y and be alert! Its such an exciting time, fawning season. Welcome to the world!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's May Day!

Today, May 1, is "May Day." Traditionally a celebration of Spring. I got no problem with that baby, no problem at all. However, in our neck of the woods, I must say it feels like Spring has long gone, we're in the middle of Summer.

One of the more common questions I get when people consider coming to the Keys for the first time is "does it get hot there?" Anytime I'm asked that question, I scratch my head for a moment. We're in South Florida. VERY South Florida. Floridians call it as it really is... the Keys. Islands. America's Caribbean. Yes, praise everything, it IS hot down here.

All this weather down here is driving me to silliness; I was busted on my run today mid-road dance by none other than a Sheriff. Embarrassing? Yes. But, things like this happen when I'm surrounded by blue skies, palm trees, and a heat index blasting well over 90-something. Seems like just yesterday I was doing my daily miles getting blown back and forth across the road by north winds screeching over the Bight. Those days are long gone. Spring lasted about 4 hours down here.... a blip on the calendar. We're just about done with our "spring fall" (all the leaves on the trees fall in Spring down here, not autumn like the cold zone folks), and we're also just on the cusp of our "wet season." We are so parched down here its insane. Running along the street today I was gazing upon the huge dry patches in the mangroves where the "swamps" are so dry they're literally cracked. We had a small burst of thunderstorms run through overnight, that was great, but already its like they never even happened.

Ah, the blissful, glorious heat. Welcome back. I missed you so much. Let's never forget that I moved here to never be cold. I embrace the heat, the higher the temperature, the happier I get. I love the island breezes, the relaxed attitude, the sound of ice cubes tinkling in glasses, and the smell of coconut tanning butter as I prepare for my outdoor activities. May Day Keys style was celebrated by a 3.1 mile run in blistering heat, and a bad dance moment in front of a Sheriff. Not too bad overall I guess. For those of you who suffered through a long harsh winter, I'm wishing you a happy peaceful Spring. I hope you had a nice May Day too.