Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rain! Glorious Rain!

It's raining! Well, ok, not at this EXACT moment, but it rained a significant amount yesterday, and the forecast today is for more.

I've never been a fan of rain. It depresses me. Or, at least it did in the past. Not really anymore. When I moved here, from there, I realized I'd have more sunny days than ever before possible in my life. I also saw abundant evidence that the rain was needed by the animals (and us humans), as here we are very drought prone. This year has been one of the driest on record, and we're at record lows in the water levels. Our water comes all the day down from mainland, Florida. Through tiny pipes. We have rain barrels on every gutter (4 at last count) and wish I had more gutters just so I could have more barrels.

Yesterday even though it was raining, the Key deer were out. Lapping the water off plants, drinking out of ponds & puddles created by the rain, and out of any trough or device that could collect water. My rain barrels are full, spilling over. As I ran down the rainy street, I saw snakes slithering, birds who seemed to be dancing in the air, and tons of land crabs. I think the crabs are flooded out of some of their hidey holes, there were some big ones I saw crossing the street.

This rain does not depress me. Its making me happy. Happy the plants will enjoy new growth so the animals will have fresh, desperately needed, food. Happy the reservoirs are filling up even if its only just a bit. Happy to see the animals get a break from the heat, and happy because I'm going to see rainbows (yes, rainbows. remember them?)

Rain, glorious rain. We've got a rainy day. The animal kingdom and I are celebrating.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Paying the Piper

I hate the proverbial piper. He's no fun. I'm paying him today for my antics of yesterday.

This happy vegan got sunburn.

I haven't had a sunburn in ages, and certainly not since I've moved here. No, I'm "smarter" than that, plus the words of my dermatologist (usually) ring loudly in my ears when I'm going outside.

I played yesterday on my rooftop sanctuary. Frosty beverages. Teeny clothes. Music and sunshine. I had my sunscreen, but I got carried away. Obviously. By the time last night rolled around, there was no consoling me, and there is still no consolation now. Every twist and turn is painful. The one saving grace is that I didn't burn areas that are particular "no fly" zones, especially my face. At least I have that one little victory at the moment.

I've got to pull myself together (literally.... with Spandex) and head out to the gym. This is my punishment indeed. I'm paying that mean old piper. The next day or so will hopefully be burned into my mind as well.... don't play in the sun without SPF 3million. That, or a suit of armour.

Feel my pain?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Confess

You know I had a l-o-n-g list of things to do today, you knew it, I knew it. I still know it. I have a confession to make.

I chucked it all today to make way for fun.

I couldn't help myself, it was a force beyond my control.

When I woke up, I had chores, cooking, baking and another round for my virtual 5k on tap. I did the morning chores, all according to plan. Somewhere afterwards, I derailed. The 5k bit the dust today (its ok, I shaved just seconds below 4 minutes off my time yesterday, I'm submitting it, so there), and all other chores have fallen by the wayside. Is it the sunshine? The perfect sky? The REALLY bad runners tan? What caused this lapse in my usual responsible self? I don't know, and it doesn't really matter. Before I knew it, I found myself on my rooftop sanctuary, in teeny clothes, with frosty beverages & an iPod. My cabana boy (aka Mr. Happy Vegan) has kept the drinks flowing, and I have done things worshipping the sun gods today that would make my dermatologist's toes curl.

All in the name of a good time.

I don't care, I needed this. Behind the scenes here we're dealing with lots of stuff; paperwork, schedules, plans, and the continued failings of the Gulf Coast Claims Recovery Fund with BP issues. Awful, just awful. Why should I let another perfect day pass? I shouldn't, that's what I decided.

Friends are in town for a short while visiting from my old stomping grounds, and we hope to see them tonight. Included in that will be some laughs, a few drinks (you know I'm not designated driver, right??!!), and so forth.

I have to go. I've got at least 45 minutes of prime skin damaging time left on my roof, and I just finished lunch. Afterwards, I'll have just enough time to clean myself up and dress for dinner & drinks.

Carpe Diem.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I did as planned yesterday... took control of clutter, purged more things, did lots of laundry, and began to reorganize my life behind the scenes here. I feel pretty good about this.

One of the things I also did yesterday was my first official 5k. I don't know why 5k's are so popular. People seem to travel far & wide for them, but it's only 3.1 miles. This is something I do almost every day. Admittedly, I typically do not run with a time in mind, and I also tend to toss in a fair amount of strength training in on the run. But, my trainer at the gym told me about something called a virtual 5k to raise money for diabetes. Lots of the people I know at the gym are runners. They travel all over going to destination runs, including half marathons, whole marathons, 5ks and a few other wonderful events. That is just not for me. Between the issue of having to leave here (almost impossible due to work obligations) and the fact that those events are almost always starting early in the morning even locally (again not do-able due to work obligations), I just never joined in any of those reindeer games. However, a virtual 5k? All I had to do was register, pay my entrance fee (a donation towards diabetes research), and run 5k sometime over 3 designated days. After the run, you submit your time. Easy enough, and I decided why not.

So, I ran.

I didn't get out there until almost noon yesterday, the heat was incredible, and my last half mile was one of constant bargaining ("If I make it to that next mail box running, I can walk after that." When I made it to the mail box, I would re-bargain "you can run a little more, just to that tree... ok?" You see what I mean by bargaining, right?) I turned in a time I'm not too ashamed of, including a 10 minute first mile (wow, that's stellar for me) but there was no way I could keep up that pace. No way. With every breath I took, the air felt too heavy, my body wouldn't cooperate. I finished in 39 minutes. The 2nd mile was slower than the first, and that third mile was even slower than the second. But, I thought I could do better. So, plans are to time myself on today's run, and tomorrow's too. I will submit the best time. At least, that's the plan. I know if circumstances don't allow me to get back out today or tomorrow, I did participate, I will submit my time. I'm satisfied.

I've got a list of things to do today as long as my left arm (which is longer than my right arm, so there), and I better get cracking. I have a nagging feeling that I should be trying a new recipe or two today, but no, I'm shoving those evil time-eating thoughts aside. I'm going to concentrate on continuing the re-claiming of my life, getting rid of more "stuff," and spending some quality time with the kitties. That, and hopefully another timed 5k..... can't hurt, might help, right? Have a great day all!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Woe is me. Minimal sleep last night, boo hiss.

Yesterday, despite the fatigue and pain, I made my way through chores, cooking, baking and so forth. Ditched the running, just to be on the safe side, but went to boot camp. Did ok. Got home, made a little salad, and went to bed. Somewhere between channel surfing and dozing, it happened. Pink Moon used my neck as a springboard. I practically saw stars. Pink was no better off either, as my reaction sent that little anxiety riddled feline into a panic. It was quite a while before I saw her again last night. I didn't really care about her anxiety for a change, as the after effects from the incident stayed with me through the night, and into the morning. Thus began last night's "sleep."

Typically things move a little slower down here in the summer. Not lately though. Demands on my time, as well as Mr. Happy Vegan's time, are unusually heavy lately. I've decided to put most of any new experimenting in the kitchen on hiatus, just for a little while. Something's gotta give. Even though I have 2 brand spanking new vegan cookbooks (which in less than 1 week I've managed to try 4 new recipes from), today I set them aside. Had to do it.

I'm planning on getting my life back in order. Chaos is the order of the day in the laundry room, and my dining room table. I'm not alone with these issues, am I? Mail comes in, I sort it, yet piles of paper accumulate on my dining room table. I have an office, yet there is all this paper. Both of us in-patient happy vegans here are victims of the paper monster. Shifting things from "here" to over "there." How come? We do so much of the work on line to save paper, yet poof the piles are there. Yikes.

Then there's my personal laundry. That stuff is always secondary when running a B&B. The inn laundry must take priority, so days lapse before I get a crack at the machines here..... socks & running clothes ooze out my closet, so many, how is that possible?

I can't take it, all this disorder. Tomorrow is another busy day, but I'm going to take back order in my own home. This is not a complicated task, but why do I have such trouble getting it done? Once I get like this, nothing can really save me except getting inside the nitty gritty of closests and drawers and performing another purge of objects. That's on the list tomorrow.... getting rid of "stuff."

I'll feel better this time tomorrow night. I'm sitting here right now imagining all the wonderful piles I'll have of stuff, all labeled for different destinations. Some things go to the animal shelter, some things go to the wildlife rescue, some things go to Habitat for Humanity, and other things will go to the Salvation Army Family Store. Ahh, the beautiful piles of things going away. I feel better already.

Getting rid of "stuff" along with a little bit of sleep will go a long way. That's my plan. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cats Have Staff

Although its been probably years since I've slept well, the last few nights have been worse than usual. I'm blaming the cats. They've been especially rambunctious lately, especially at night. Using my body as a heliport in the middle of the night has become relatively common. The howling, running, and jumping at imaginary things seems to have amped up lately though. This behavior matters not in their world. Their food is still plentiful, their litter pans are cleaned, their toys are still scattered about, and things are as they should be in their world. They've got naps, sunny patches, catnip, and warm laps. Their antics however, do not insure a peaceful world in my reality though.

Two nights ago when I went to bed, I had to pick Lemon up and move him aside. He was sprawled across the entire bed, I'm not sure how a 14 pound cat can find a way to inhabit an entire king size bed, but he did. I moved him and plunked myself down. He became indignant, and plunked himself down on me, as I was now in "his" spot. In minutes, the rest of the crew arrived, and I found myself completely fenced in by felines. This included my pillow. I "slept" for hours as a contortionist. I paid for it the next morning. Pain.

The next night came and went, and it was pretty much a repeat of the same thing. But, now there was a cumulative effect from the sleeping contortions. So much so that when I got up yesterday, I found myself in pretty bad shape. By mid-afternoon yesterday (yup, my Solstice happy day) I could barely hold my head up. The slightest movement caused searing pain to shoot partly down my arm, partly down my back. What is this I wondered. It got worse.

Nothing worked. Ice, essential oils. massage, and finally a too high milligram dose of something I rarely take.... real medication. It didn't work either.

I went to bed last night in excruciating pain. Every movement on the bed, every paw print on the sheet caused that white hot pain. When I tell you that I have not slept, I MEAN that I have not slept.

When I dragged myself out of bed this morning, I found myself having difficulty doing the simplest of tasks. This eventually resulted in a kitchen mishap at way to early an hour, and me wondering aloud "is this what today will be like?"

I have decided I do not want today to be a washout... let's turn it around I affirmed.

I've been steamrolling through the pain to get my chores done, and then I'm going out to do some errands, visit some friends, do some shopping, and then see if by later tonight I can make it through a boot camp class. Mind over matter I've decided.

I'm not completely sure about this mind over matter philosophy for today. But, it sounded good, and as I look outside I see an unbelievably beautiful blue sky. I'm convinced I just cannot let today go by in a pain induced stupor.

It all boils down to the truth in the quote "dogs have owners, cats have staff." Indeed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice!

In less than one hour's time, Summer Solstice will be here.

If you're new to the blog, let me explain that today is one of the most important and best days of the year in my world. Summer Solstice is when we honor the gods of the sun. The holiday is also known as Midsummer, and Litha. A day important enough that even Shakespeare centered his famed tale around the holiday.

Summer Solstice was important to me even before I was following the current path I'm on. If you're not new to the blog, then you may recall that the first day of Summer was one which my dad used to count down, beginning almost from the last day of Summer the year prior. Because I used to live in a colder climate where winters were actually wintry, the first day of Summer represented many different things to me. It represented vacations, sunshine, happiness, and fun times. Summer brought parties, friends, family and bbqs (tofu dogs anyone? YUM!)

Even though I now live where its summery year round, the first day of Summer is still magical. Its a day to be especially grateful (which I am). This is a day to celebrate, a day to party!

Through the Summer, I rejoice in the pictures my friends post on line sharing their summer vacations, the beach, the Jersey shore, and whatnot. I love hearing the stories of parties which happen over sultry Summer nights, and love the simple fact that my friends and family are basking in the glow of sunshine and heat, instead of scraping snow & ice from a driveway or car. I'm simply happier when those I love are happier. Summer makes that happen.

Today, being Summer Solstice, I made lemon raspberry muffins as part of our guests' breakfast at Deer Run. I like to make something sunny & lemony on the first day of Summer. Later today I have big plans to honor those rascally sun gods by sitting somewhere in my own sunny patch with a frosty beverage, and reflect on all the beauty there is surrounding me. My mind wanders constantly to my dad today, and all the good times we shared especially over the summertime months. This is an important day for me, but those seeds were sown decades ago in the shadow of my dad and his own little calendar countdown.

Happy Solstice. Happy Summer. Enjoy this day, and let's all have a great Summer!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What Makes A Dad?

Today is Father's Day. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Dads of the human variety, dads with furry, scaly or feathery family, and all the stand-in dads out there for those who don't have "real" dads. If you ask me "stand in dads" ARE "real dads," absolutely, for sure, no debate there.

But, what makes a dad?

In my opinion, a dad is very different from a father. Biologically, many can be a father. Realistically, that doesn't create a dad.

My dad was my hero. I've written about this before. I looked up to him. I admired and respected him, wanted to be like him, and wished I could understand what made him tick. Very basic, very complicated, all at the same time.

My dad taught me loyalty to family above all. This is the most important lesson he imparted, one even as he was facing death he communicated to me in many ways. Its a lesson that can be hard sometimes for outsiders looking in to accept or understand, especially if you don't come from a family like that. This lesson is one I took seriously, and still do. Its a lesson well taught by dad, and a lesson I know dad is proud I (and my family) take to the level that I do.

For me, one of the things that made my father a "dad" was the way he lived his life as an example to his children. He never asked for more than he would give of himself, he never expected more of us than he expected of himself. The trick in that equation is the fact that my dad gave everything of himself, and there was nothing he couldn't do. Nothing. So, he expected the same of us.

The making of a dad lies within the successes and failures in the life of a father, and to me there's really no failure when you've given all you possibly can, done everything you possibly could.

That was my dad. Giving all, doing everything.

I have done the same in return for my dad, at times being tested in ways I never could have imagined. Giving all, doing everything. My family has too. We have all learned the lesson well taught by dad, and we are proud to be children of such an incredibly amazing person.

Here, its another Father's Day without my dad. I miss him everyday, but Father's Day is especially poignant.

Today is special for many. Its a day to celebrate those dads still with us, and remember those dads who are gone. Not that we need a reason or a special date to celebrate & remember our dads.

Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Just Care

The roller coaster ride continues. Don't read this if you're looking for roses & sunshine today.

I went out for errands this afternoon with my magic purple hair. On the way home, on the highway (which at times seems like its a dragway), there I saw her standing on the side of the road. A beautiful cormorant. Instantly I knew "trouble." The rule is, anytime you see a bird somewhere it would not normally be, something is wrong. I was going north. Traffic was streaming south fast & steady. I pulled over.

After I pulled over, I got out of my car and watched her. She could not fly, but did not seem to be dragging either wing. I opened the hatch and retrieved a beach towel, and a sheet. I very slowly began to walk towards the bird. Traffic didn't slow, it remained fast & steady.

I didn't want to scare her into traffic, so I approached very slowly, but she began to cross the highway anyway. Traffic still did not slow. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. No one cared. Through only what I can call a miracle she made it across, and jumped up to sit on the concrete barrier at the side of the roadway. I got to the barrier, and looked to see what was on the other side. It was about a 12 foot drop, too much for me to handle if she jumped or fell. So, I continued slowly. She jumped off the barrier, and ran into traffic. My magic purple hair got me noticed at this point, and traffic northbound slowed, but the traffic going south did not. A large vehicle trailering a large boat struck her. Right before my eyes, she was hit. It was a direct and hard hit, which sounded just like the thunk of someone closing a car door. I screamed, and then admittedly I swore. Loudly. I started to go towards the bird. People began to slow down. The bird was now tragically tumbling in the street, yet the offending vehicle continued on without a care.

I ran into the middle of the highway with my rescue sheet & towel. Mercifully traffic both ways stopped. There was no time to spare, no slow approach now. She was very wounded and traffic was backing up. I sprinted to her, threw the towel over her, and wrapped her with the sheet. As gently as possible I picked her up and ran to my car. I mouthed "thank you" to both of the lead vehicles north & southbound who had stopped, and waited for an opportunity to move back into traffic.

My first call was to Mr. Happy Vegan to tell him I would be delayed, and what happened. The next call was to Maya at Wildlife Rescue here on Big Pine. After a few quick questions, I was cleared to bring the bird in, so off I went with the injured cormorant on my lap.

When I arrived at the Center, a volunteer named Jerry met me. He asked a few quick questions, and ever so carefully unwrapped her. He did a quick assessment. There was no visible blood, I told him about the "thunk" and that I feared a head injury secondary to whatever the first injury she was dealing with was. He asked me to name her, and I said "Hope." He thought that was good too.

After a few more minutes of discussion, I left. I will call the Center tomorrow to see if Hope makes it through the night.

Someone asked me yesterday about what I thought can anyone do to help effect change, specifically talking about a different environmental issue, but I couldn't really respond. I said just do good when you can and never give up. Today I would have answered differently, and it came to me as the truck/boat combo hit Hope and drove on. My answer would be "just care." Care. That's what I ask of anyone. Care enough to feed a hungry person or animal. Care enough to comfort a soul in pain. Care enough to recycle, care enough to pick up trash, care enough not to litter. And, care enough for other living beings, including purple haired vegans desperately crossing traffic trying to save a bird named Hope from a fate she didn't ask for, can't control, and doesn't deserve.

Just care.

You can donate to Wildlife Bird Rescue at

Thursday, June 16, 2011

50 Miles is Another World

This purple haired happy vegan went up the Keys today. It was a very different experience north of here, compared to Key West. It's only 50 miles from Key West, but its another world.

My new do and I mingled with guests and drank coffee before picking Pop up for the drive into Marathon. Pop didn't notice my hair. Now, its one thing for a man not to notice a hair cut, but not to notice a neon purple pageboy? I said nothing, he said nothing. I just said a silent thank you that I was driving, not him.

After dropping Pop off, I ventured out for some shopping and errands in Marathon. Everyone noticed. EVERYONE.

I got a lot of laughs, looks and even compliments. Not one person, even if they really happened to dislike it, said they disliked it. It opened conversations, it made many people smile, and it was highly noticed. This reaction was the direct opposite from Key West where no one flinched. It was nothing. Par for the course. Nothing special, nothing outrageous. Nope, the neon purple haired happy vegan was just another weirdo in Key West.

The thing is, its largely true what you hear about Key West. Anything goes, there's a bit of a reputation that way for that town. But, that rep is also largely unfair. The thing is, just like any other small town, there's people there raising good families, working 1, 2 sometimes 3 jobs. People going to school, playing sports, people in hospitals, and people dedicating their lives to helping others. So, to say "anything goes" isn't the whole story by a long shot. But, there ARE colorful characters down there, and many of them. I enjoy Key West for this reason, one of many reasons to enjoy Key West.

But, walking around in neon hair downtown Key West didn't bring me any new friends, hellos or smiles as it did up in Marathon. As I made my way through town in Marathon today from store to store, accomplishing my errands, I felt obvious, for a moment ridiculous, and actually even a tad bit pretty. I wondered for a fleeting moment at what point must I stop behaving like an adolescent, and came to the conclusion of "hopefully never."

My purple haired alter-ego is my new best friend. She is going to hang around for a while. While she brings smiles to others, the thing is, she makes me smile too. I think my purple hair has magic powers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Up and down, up and down. Those are my emotions of late. Happy to be alive, happy to be living in this incredible part of the world, sad for world events, angry and sad for the abuse of the planet. The roller coaster has not gone unnoticed by Mr. Happy Vegan. He took me out today, out on the town, out for food, drinks, a movie, and shopping (Keys version of shopping).

We went to Key West.

We went to the best theatre on the planet, The Tropic, in Key West. Look it up. Its unbelievable. We're members, and although we don't get there as often as we'd like, we support the theatre, and go there when we can. After the movie, we wanted to eat, but our restaurant of choice wasn't open for dinner til 5pm. Time to hit a beach bar! Yes, we went to a beach bar, and saw the same bartender that was there when last I visited with my friend from up North. Janine (bartender) remembered me. I told her that was NOT a good sign, she laughed, but I seriously meant it. I hoped it was because I tipped so well last time I was there, but you never know, right? (Hint: ALWAYS tip your servers well, they work hard, very hard!) After a couple of vegan blender drinks, I almost forgot about that concern (how do I know they were vegan? Because Janine, wonderful bartender that she is pulled out the bottle of mixer and allowed me to read the ingredients. Healthy? No. Vegan? Absolutely!)

A couple drinks later, it was well after 5pm so we began to make our way to the restaurant. On the way we passed a store I've been wanting to go to. Mr. Happy Vegan was kind enough to battle the downtown traffic, go around the block, and score an awesome parking spot. Out I trotted to the store. This particular store is quite a riot, nothing else like it in Key West, if you can dream it, trust me they have it. We roamed around for a while, they didn't have what I hoped for in my size, but I managed to find some Manic Panic and a new purple wig. I like wigs. Did I ever tell you that? I used to have several, but over time, they just disappeared. In the last year or so I've managed to start to re-acquire a few good ones. I think I've gotten the best ever, my new neon purple wig. As I sit and type right now, I'm wearing it. How does it look? Do you like it? I hope it makes me look younger, taller and thinner, but just in case it does none of the foregoing, don't tell me, let me live my fantasy, ok?

After dinner and more drinks (look I was NOT the designated driver tonight!) we plucked our way through the streets of Key West. Mr. Happy Vegan at the wheel, me in the passenger seat arranging my new do.

I tried on a few other great styles today, and can't wait to get back down there for my next acquisition. Sure, you may think these are not necessities of life, but I beg to differ. How can I be so sure. Well, I can tell you that the happy vegan with the purple hair is a lot more forgiving of humanity than the happy vegan with the blond(ish) hair.

There it is. Another beautiful day in the Keys. Life's been good today, and so it goes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How DARE you????

Today, being Tuesday and all, was a day for me to take Pop up to his club for the twice weekly golf games he runs.... "Pop's group" its called. Up and over that dreaded 7 Mile Bridge. Today was the WRONG day to mess with me on any environmental issue, but I didn't know there would be a little test involved.

On the way out my road today, I discovered someone had illegally dumped a truck tire on my street. No attempt to even hide the illegality of it... simply lying by the edge of the road. This was done sometime between 7pm last night and 10:30am today, because I passed that stretch last night at 7, and this morning with Pop at 10:30. Need I even say what went through my mind when I saw that? No, probably not. But, unfortunately Pop was my captive audience, and he heard a lot. I immediately grabbed my cell and called Mr. Happy Vegan. He will take his tractor down there later, and we will actually pay to have this tire disposed of. This set the tone for my morning, and it did not make me happy.

The dumped tire was the catalyst for a discussion on environmental issues Pop and I had on the way to the club. He's made a lot of progress on this issues through his lifetime, so much so that at the ripe old age of 102 he is even finally recycling. I am happy to have made this kind of progress with an individual who I respect and love so much. For quite some time Pop resisted recycling of aluminum, plastic and so forth, and we had many MANY talks about it. One day, we simply bought him a recycle bucket and demanded he use it. He does. We empty it regularly, and are responsible for tying up the cardboard, and dumping the plastic & other recyclables into our own myriad buckets here at Deer Run. But, I was still relatively unsettled by the time I was making my return trip over the bridge. Then, it happened. A traffic jam. There I was sitting in traffic for a half hour. In front of me was "the car." The car of dread I should say.

Within minutes of the jam, "the car" had its windows open, and the driver was cursing and screaming. His language was, um, colorful. His music was blaring, yet I could hear every word he cursed and screamed the whole time. I watched him smoking a cigarette, flicking ashes out the window, continuing his rant. Eventually, the event happened, the spent butt was flicked out the window onto the highway. Onto my planet. Littering. This was not good.

I sat there for a moment and watched the spent butt roll a little as the last of the smoke curled skyward. I became infuriated. I had to sit there a moment and collect myself before I made the trek to "the car." I took a last deep breath, opened my door, and walked onto the highway up to the litter. I picked it up. I walked to the offenders car and said "excuse me sir, I think you dropped this" and handed him the butt. He swore at me. Not once, not twice, but three times. He called me names, and demanded I get away from him. But.... he took the butt out of my hands, and into his car. He did not re-flick it, as I actually thought he would. I replied "I have not disrespected you." I walked away, back into my car, actually shaking from anger.

Today was the wrong day to litter on my beautiful home (not that any day is ok to litter on my home). I had his license plate written down in the event he re-flicked, or if he threatened me. He did neither. Maybe he was shamed? Embarrassed? Not likely he was either.

On my way home, I passed the giant truck tire. I stopped, popped the trunk on Pop's car, and tried to lift it. I could not. I drove home from that spot, still upset. I wonder if the man in "the car" will give a thought to today's event next time he goes to flick. I hope he does. I hope it made a difference, I'm not sure, and I won't take the bet. But, there's one less speck of litter on the road, meaning one less speck of litter to make its way within minutes into the beautiful ocean here, so one less speck of litter shall end up lodged within the throat of a turtle, ibis, heron or other magnificent creature. Or so I hope.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Let's Bake!

Its a big kitchen morning at Deer Run today. After breakfast I cleaned up the pots & pans as quickly as possible, then loaded the first of several loads into the dishwasher. I've got cupcakes and cookies on the agenda today.

Sure, you heard about the red velvets in all their velvety goodness. I'm making another batch of them, along with a batch of what bakers everywhere seem to call the "Elvis" which is any combo of peanut butter, chocolate & banana (that Elvis, he knew his food). All in the mini-variety, nicer for a party, don't you think? But, my kitchen will smell best as soon as the macaroons go in the oven.

I make awesome macaroons. They are, without a doubt, the coconutiest macs I've ever had. I went without macaroons for years, being vegan and all. I dabbled here and there with a few recipes, but they were never just as I wanted. One day I came upon a recipe, and began to play with it. I actually wrote my changes out so I wouldn't forget (bad happy vegan, bad bad happy vegan.... I always forget to do the writing down part) and before I knew it, I had moist, chewy coconutty vegan macaroon goodness. They've got 4 types of coconut and coconut flavorings in there, all the "real deal" of course, meaning organic. And, never, but never would I want to use that coconut the supermarkets sell in those little bags, sweetened I guess it is. No, I want real shredded, dried, unsweetened coconut. My macaroons are always chocolate dipped, so picture these little dreamy drops dipped in the best organic, fair trade vegan chocolate you'd want to lay your mitts on. Yes, chocolate dipped coconut macaroons, of the vegan, organic variety. Life can be so very good.

My macaroons and I are going to go far. Someday they'll be in homes, stores & restaurants across the world. For now, I'll settle for them here on Big Pine Key, and in my happy vegan tummy.

The mixing bowls & spoons continue to call. Til next we meet!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What A Difference A Day Makes

Today was a pretty good day, the best day I've had in a while. No need to re-hash my sadness in yesterday's post, right? Right. I decided when I woke up, shake it off, shake it off.

The morning chores went well, then I took Pop up for his golf game. We talked, which almost always helps put things into a better perspective. It was a nice ride up to his club (too bad that bridge is always part of the ride), but anyway I was feeling ok when I got home. Lots more chores were waiting for me, today was over scheduled; time flew by. We got good and exciting news about 2 projects we've been concentrating on, which I promise will share that information when there's more concrete things to write about.

I guess the icing on the cake of my day, as usual, has to do with food. Remember the red velvet efforts I made back in the winter, all in the name of Valentine's Day? Well, the recipe I was looking for high and low magically appeared to me just the other day, and tonight I finally made red velvet cupcakes. Minis. Cute, tiny minis. Cute, tiny RED VELVET minis. I ate one hot from the oven. The flavor was I think just right. Not quite chocolate, not quite devil's food. That's because they're red velvet. Unfortunately, they are not red at all. Not even a slight shade of brown. I think I used alkaline cocoa (but yay, its organic, fair trade), so I think tomorrow I'm going to experiment (ut oh....) and add some beet juice for coloring. The recipe I used has a good amount of fresh grated beets. This is what gives these tiny, cute cupcake-lettes their velvety goodness. They have an earthy flavor to them, its hard to describe, you know you're eating chocolate, but there's a richer, more complex flavor in these thanks to some happy grated beets. I don't think a little beet juice will mess with it too much.... will it?

Cake makes me happy. When I'm sad, I should just know better by now, make cake.

What a difference a day makes. That, and some cake. Score one for the happiness fairy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sail On, Sailor

Over the last couple weeks, four very good friends have left the Keys. Forever. This is hard.

I was running today. Nothing unusual there. I run virtually every day. But, I was more melancholy today, a bit depressed. My mind was wandering here and there, mostly to the fact that one way or another, those we love leave. I began to think about a story someone wrote for me, and about me, after my father died. It was mostly about weathering storms. As I was thinking about all this, a huge flock of egrets and ibis took flight out of the Coupon Bight before my eyes. When I say a huge flock, I am not exaggerating dozens & dozens of those large birds, the sky was filled with white. I guess my footsteps alerted them to go, who knows. But as I watched them take flight, I began to think more about life after storms, the genesis of which, dare I say, is called hope.

Saying goodbye to good friends is never easy. Down here people come and go at a much quicker pace then where I come from. Friendships are forged over glasses of wine at the pub, smoothies at the juice bar, and while swinging a hammer for a friend in need. Then poof they're gone. Weathering storms.

I've been behind on posting because I admit it I just feel a little blue.

After the birds took flight, I shifted my pace from sprint training, instead easing into a more gentle and fluid pace. I started the run with the desire to pummel my body with as intense a workout as I could stand, but the birds somehow were a message to slow down, I might miss something.

I found myself in front of Pop's house. I could see from the street that he was not in his chair waiting for me. I was running at a different time than I usually do today. He would not be expecting me then. But, I stopped anyway and stared at his home. I knew where he would be sitting in the house at that moment, and most likely what he was doing (reading a Western, or his Bible). I saw close to 20 shore birds large and small scattered about his yard and bird baths. Two Key deer were bedded down under palm trees seeking refuge from the heat, and a medium sized iguana was sunning himself on the pea rock of Pop's driveway. I took a mental picture at that moment, all of it... Pop inside, the animals, the blue sky and the palms. I guess we're all entitled to a moment or two of sadness, to wallow, whatever you want to call it. But I realized its time to shake it off.

So, tomorrow is another day, and I continue the quest to shake it off. Weathering the storm means the sun rises again.

Beach Boys music rolls through my head, reminding me life goes on through restful waters, or deep commotion. Who needs Buddha when you've got Beach Boys.

I expect tomorrow shall be a beautiful day, no matter the weather. This sailor shall sail on, sail on indeed.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Storms & Cookies

Wednesday, June 1 technically marked the start of the "wet" season...the big "H...." hurricane season. So, here we are again. Not much really changes in my day to day activities, except for usually making note of the "tropical update" on the weather stations, which I did in fact do today.

Some people down here have ceremonies in order to protect us from storms, while others say prayers. You won't find me in either of those crowds; I'm busy making lists and packing my hurricane kit. We intend to be as prepared as possible in the event a storm hits, this year more than ever (lesson learned from the fire). Mr. Happy Vegan and I were just this morning discussing additional preparation plans.

If we lose our power, we have a generator. I love my generator. Power goes out here often, for no reason at all. I guess this is part of island living. Our generator is raised up, waaaay up, from the ground, and is one of my favorite things. But, even favorite things can go on the fritz, so if that happens, I must be prepared. And, for me, being prepared means being able to have cookies, no matter the weather, the power or any stinky storm that may come our way. To that end, I created a new raw cookie recipe as part of my hurricane preparedness. Eh, I admit, maybe it wasn't totally for hurricane preparedness, but sounded like as good as any excuse to make cookies to me.

Have you tried something called a "Contrast Cookie" yet? My friend Bonnie from Good Food surprised me with one a few weeks back. Impossible to get here on Big Pine, but she scored one in Key West, and brought it back for me. It's a tasty raw cookie confection, I guess you could equate it to a vanilla and chocolate thumbprint cookie. I savored every last bite of that cookie, I really did. I'm not one for raw cuisine, it takes too much planning on my part, the soaking and sprouting that is. Besides, after the food competition with 3 raw food entries, I was pretty much raw fooded out for a while. But, along came that cookie, so good that its been on my mind ever since. That, and "how can I make my own."

I kept the wrapper, it had the ingredients listed. I went for it, my first attempt at a raw food cookie, and I'm relieved enough to call this a success on the first attempt, which as you know NEVER happens in my little kitchen. I shipped off a box of them to the gals at the store for a special treat, and kept a few here for Mr. Happy Vegan. I think those Contrast Cookies are the bomb, but my little fan club remarked they think my cookies are just as good, if not better. That's a compliment I'll surely take to heart. And, no, these babies aren't just "dough" as someone actually remarked to me when I said something about raw food cookies.... please! There's not one speck of gluten or any refined sweeteners in these vegan (of course!) gems.

We're busy planning and preparing our storm kit. My cookie recipe goes in the kit, and the list of ingredients are some of the "last minute additions" to add to the kit in case we ever really do have to get out of Dodge (let's hope not). There it is, my list. Water, cat food, bird food, Angel, cats, cookie recipe & cookie ingredients. What else could I possibly need in case we have to evacuate? I can make these babies in the trailer while Mr. Happy Vegan navigates our way to safety. Sounds like a plan.