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Monday, December 31, 2012

My Wish

Here it is another New Year's Eve. No idea how time has this funny little trick it plays where the older we get, the faster time goes.

This year has been typical in that it's had its share of ups and downs for us, and everyone we know. On a personal level, both of us happy vegans have had our limits tested, and reached new heights on education and skills, both through traditional schooling as well as through the amazing people we have met in 2012.  On a business level, we have been tested beyond anything we could have expected. We hoped to have a big announcement in 2012, more than hoped.... expected and planned. It was not to be. We have had myriad additional obstacles thrown at us from any level you can imagine, much of it regulatory. Now, we aren't really ones who are completely against some regulations, there's reasons for laws and rules. What we DO have a problem with is ignorance and incompetence. We have encountered a lot of that this year with people who simply are incompetent with their jobs... people who are entrusted to some pretty important oversight of some pretty important things. So, this has left us having to undo some wrongs, and then re-do what had to be undone. Frustrating beyond words.

Regardless of general nincompoopage, we expect that 2013 is going to be absolutely marvelous and huge for Deer Run. We have passed a crossroads, and nothing will stop us now. You WILL be reading about our changes here in the coming year, they are fabulous.

I don't get too stuck in the "if only" or the "I wish" game too often. Doing so leads to regret, and that is non-productive. If I want something, I work hard to get it, same with the other happy vegan. The great Gandhi is attributed as saying "be the change you wish to see in the world." That is a very important sentence to me. Every day, for me it means when I see the suffering, filth, torment and violence in the world that animals endure, I am the one to work for change. It is me, and no one else.

Whether someone want to admit it or not, the food choices that so many people make, that so many people feel entitled to, are causing havoc. Our forests are ailing, our waters are ailing, our health is ailing, and our emotional health is ailing. I wasn't born being vegan, it has been a conscious choice. A choice I made not to ignore, not to deny, not to look away from that which is exceptionally difficult to learn. Choices that I have previously made have caused immense suffering to others. I had a complete disconnect between my choices, and animal suffering.  Once I began to see, and understand, how could I continue to act the way I did... it would be my sanctioning torture, violence and suffering. No reasonable person can choose that in good conscience, in my opinion.

My wish for 2013 is for enlightenment in myself, and others. This includes the courage it takes to really learn the truth about the animals for food industry, and make appropriate and sustainable changes. Enlightenment to me also means compassion, unity and empathy.

I strive for many things on a daily basis, but more than anything I strive to make the world kinder... to show compassion towards the suffering. Animals suffer because of our choices; this is a fact. We must all work together to stop the madness in this world. It is not acceptable to live with violence towards animals, people or planet.

We take great pride in what Deer Run is about, and what we as people stand for. Our wish for the New Year is that you will no longer turn away, instead you will become part of the solution.

Happy New Year 2013.  Go Veg.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Shake It Out

Shake it out.

Lather, rinse repeat those words.  Definitely.

It has been a tough several weeks, boy has it ever. The news rapid fires the tragedies from all around, and they are vast.  I've been watching less news, and most likely will have to watch even less in order to "shake it out."

Today dawned clear and crisp.  A cold front blew through last night, and I don't think temps made it above 70 today; this on the heels of some seemingly unusually warm December weather. Quite a difference from yesterday.  I had a lot of work inside to get through, but at some point I decided to put everything aside and run. My running has barely been hitting the three times a week point since I got home from the cold zone.  This is unacceptable.  I combed through my closet looking for the only pair of long running pants I own, but never found them. As a consolation prize for my definitely going to be cold legs, I put on 2 running tops, and hit the road. I didn't make it too far at first because I had to stop and see Pop.  Pop was away for a family visit, not quite as far north as we go, but far enough where it does snow.  He said it was cold, but not snowy; only rain. He loved being with the extended family, but beamed about being back home.  Pop is just like me in that he doesn't like the cold, and as soon as the temperatures dip below mid-70s, he feels a chill and puts on a jacket.  He questioned my sanity for deciding to run in the "very nippy weather," but also came to the conclusion that I probably just should run a little faster to solve all the weather ills. After the visit, I went back and started to run in earnest.

Winds were blowing North, off the bight.  This blows against me on the street until my turnaround, and also means the iPod has to be turned up a little more to silence the whistling winds. I decided to run faster, run further, run harder.

I am making a conscious effort to "shake it out."  I live in Paradise. Key deer, the ocean, palm trees. Beautiful birds dot the sky, and today sail boats were abundant far out in the ocean.... these winds today made for great sailing weather I would suspect.  Peri patrolled his territories all day, and I could hear his little bell off in the distance. This offers me comfort as well.

I came inside, did some chores and then began to bake.  Nothing in particular, nothing special. Just needed and wanted to see some dough in the mixer, and fill the house with comforting smells. Tomorrow is another day; I'll cook, I'll bake, and I'll run.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Shaking it out.



Saturday, December 29, 2012

Even People Can Be Favorites

I hate to leave you hanging, so sorry for not posting the last couple days. I've been feeling blue; I got some very sad news from across the miles and am allowing myself to feel the sadness.

Today we headed over to the Intuitive Arts Fair at the Good Food Conspiracy. It was small with some healers, seers, and some excellent crystal vendors.  Digby came from far away and displayed his unparalleled metaphysical offerings, including blessed and very powerful crystals. Debra came and offered beautiful jewelry, crystals, prayer flags, and things like that. I picked up a new pendulum today, it's a crystal quartz carved into a Ganesha.  I put a picture up on Facebook if you'd like to see it. Debra helped me choose some crystals and a few other things I need to do a ceremony for someone who is transitioning. That is why I'm so blue... someone very special has passed on and left this Earth. I am saddened beyond words, as so many others are right now. Another hole in the hearts of many that will just never fully heal.

So, mostly this month is about favorites, and I guess I've realized that of course people fall into that category.  When push really comes to shove, I have very few favorite people, as people just aren't at the forefront of favorites when I look around at the state of our world. Since this is about favorites I should really stop and remember more often that there ARE people in the world who work to make things better. "Making it better" often times is as simple in my world as making me laugh. Actually, making the ability to make me laugh gets top billing on my list of important things. I don't think I'm morose either, but I can never get enough laughter. Thankfully the other happy vegan offers up a decent dose of that on a daily basis whether he means to or not.

I can put my family also at the top of my favorites, and of course the other happy vegan (although he would say that depends on the day whether he makes the list or not, haha). It's a funny thing this "favorite people" thing I have going. Either my favorites are icons (think along the lines of Gandhi and Mother Theresa) or very ordinary people. My favorite people are the faceless people who turn tragedy into triumph and help save animals everywhere. My favorite people are those who stand up against injustice all around the world for people, planet and animals; sometimes even in my own backyard. My favorite people list of course includes Pop (then again, he's on EVERYONE'S favorites list). There's an exceptionally short list of people I trust implicitly, and I'd say they are on my favorites list to some degree too, whether I'm on theirs or not.

A lot of people lost a favorite person when a great, but ordinary man lost his battle to cancer yesterday. A good man, a decent man, a kind man, a very bright man, and as hilarious as they come. He had the ability to make people laugh; the ability to make ME laugh.

Yes, we've lost another favorite.

Time marches on.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Indeed, More Favorite Things

I think I'm a simple kind of gal when it comes down to brass tacks. What I like versus what I dislike is pretty defined at this point in my life.

Over the last week I've been very busy. It was crunch time with holiday demands, not to mention the fact that 1 night I stayed up til almost 3am to put the finishing touches on that last batch of beach gingerbread people. As the hours ticked past, my mind wandered to so many things, not the least of which is of course food. And that often breaks down to my kitchen.  Here we do not have a fancy kitchen. I've written about it a little bit in prior posts. It's been remodeled since we moved here, but the floor plan didn't change much. As my skill set has improved in every way possible through the years, I have different needs and expectations of what a kitchen should be, and what belongs in every kitchen.  I have a short list of what my favorite things are in my kitchen, and I'm going to share this with you now.

I have a Vitamix; I could not function without it. I bought it brand new, and paid full retail. Since I've make this purchase, I have sent it out for service once, I think it was built with a defective motherboard (is that what they call it?) because it didn't work correctly at first. Being that I paid full retail (back then Vitamix certainly wasn't on QVC or in Whole Foods!) I was very upset, and wondered why did people fuss about this appliance. I sent my Vitamix out for service (at their expense by the way) and it came back all fixed. It was like it was re-born, and I fell in love with it the day it returned. This appliance is something I simply cannot function without.  I use my Vitamix at least once every day, sometimes 2, 3 or 4 times a day. This is some of the best money I have ever spent and it's a favorite thing by far.

I have a Kitchen Aid.  I have outgrown it in the last couple years.  I'm not as in love with my Kitchen Aid as I was perhaps a couple years ago, as it is far too small for my needs, and I think the 9 & 10 speeds have blown.  But, my Kitchen Aid is at least 10 years old, and I use it far more than probably what my model was designed for. I'm going to buy a new mixer soon. I want a Hobart desperately, but have you seen the prices of Hobart? Even used ones go for astronomical amounts, so I've not completely ruled out another Kitchen Aid, albeit bigger & more horsepower. I cannot function without this mixer.  I will not part with my small Kitchen Aid when I get my next one.  It's small enough and a favorite color (the motivating factor when I bought it way before I owned this B&B) so that I think I should keep it.

My knives. I have a very small selection of knives that I never added to after my initial chef training. I have an offset serrated, a 10" chef's knife, and a few very small paring knives. That's it. I also have a steel that my first teacher made me buy, and taught me to properly use. These knives have served me many years, and even with the recent addition of a professional food processor, get way more use than the food processor does. I'm not happy with my food processor, and am researching them again too. But, I am happy with my knives.  When a professional chef tells you not to over clutter your kitchen with gadgets, devices and small wares, it's good advice to heed.

My warming drawer. This was a concession to the fact that there was no way we could fit a double oven into this tiny kitchen. I grew up in a house that didn't have a lot of discretionary income, but we had a double oven. I never gave this a second thought until I rented my very first apartment, which of course had a horrible, old, barely working electric oven. I had no idea every home didn't have a double oven, so ignorant of me. I had to relearn how to cook with just one oven, it changed everything. To this day I pine for a double oven. But we had enough room for a warming drawer if we removed one of the drawers in the new cabinetry, so we did. I couldn't function in my kitchen without my warming drawer.

I have very few kitchen drawer gadgets, and get by with a high quality potato peeler, box grater, old mandoline (yes the same one that I almost lost a digit on), and a stainless steel scraper. It has measures on the side so I can measure my loaves of biscotti as I straighten the edges with my scraper. I use that scraper for everything, in fact I actually have FOUR scrapers. This helps me avoid cross contamination issues when I'm working allergy free or gluten free.  Regardless, if I emptied out all the other crap in my kitchen drawers, those are the favorite things I would keep.

Aside from a few basic stainless pots & pans, I have some ancient cast iron I use. I've been exceptionally disappointed with all baking pans and baking sheets I've purchased since going pro, and have absolutely no favorites. The nonstick stuff is horrible, it flakes off and kills us. The sheets I've purchased are low quality, but very high cost. The stainless I've been duped into purchasing came from China, and is thin, low quality, not as advertised. And, even the All-Clad sheets I invested in were a waste, they are far too heavy on their own, and honestly the last ones I reach for when baking. For a baker to say I have no favorite baking pans, well that's quite a sad state, no?

And, lastly, one of my favorite things is being smart enough not to get sucked into the advertising propaganda that says I need to have all sorts of clutter and gadgets in my tiny galley style kitchen.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Reflections, The Last Batch & Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve as I write. The sun has set and the moon, or what we can see of it, has risen.  My oven is solidly shut to "off," my floors are vacuumed and washed, the counters are wiped clean, the hundreds of cookies have been bagged, boxed and delivered, and I am officially off duty.  I baked more than ever before this year, and heres a sampling of the fruits of my labors, the "last batch." Victory is sweet, considering this last batch was completed about 2:30 in the morning.


A little vegan Christmas cookie fun to end the season!

At this time of year I reflect.  What is it that I reflect upon, well I guess it depends on the year, my mood, and what's going on in the world.  I often reflect on times past when everyone I loved was gathered near to me, laughter was abundant and things seemed simpler.  Not easier, just simpler. I used to know what was expected of me, how to live life conventionally and I played the part pretty well. Now all the strings have been cut loose, and I can live by my own ideals and terms, whatever they may be depending on the hour of the day. Sometimes that makes for a rocky road, but heck I muddle through ok.

I miss my family.  I miss my friends.  Sometimes it's not just miles that separate us, but rather something much bigger.... they've moved onto other astral planes or places that the rest of us can only can wonder about. No matter how hard I try to push the hustle and bustle of the season aside, at some point things crash down around me and reality hits that loved ones are here one day, gone the next. This season amplifies all this for me, and usually it's Christmas Eve when the house of cards crumbles.  I know I'm not alone on this. Far too many of my friends have lost loved ones this year, people & animals. Far too many in the world have lost loved ones this year, people and animals.  The world is in chaos, or so it seems.  And, when it all seems to crash down, I am one of the luckiest people on Earth because I go outside on my little beach, light a candle and stare at the sky.

I do not celebrate Christmas in the religious fashion, but I do observe this time as one where for some reason it seems a little easier for me to reach out and visit with spirits of Christmas past.  I've opened something bubbly and am making a beeline straight for the beach as soon as I finish this post.  While I'm sad because of so much angst in the world right now, I'm grateful that there remain very good people to carry on.  That, and a good beach and I'm good to go.

Merry Christmas Eve to those who celebrate.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Yule and a Photo Gallery (with some favorites)

Merry Yule and Happy Solstice! The Winter Solstice marks the longest night.... the shortest day.  It is a time of re-birth, renewal, and reflection. It is also a time to celebrate the return of the light, because  now we move towards Summer Solstice.  Did you celebrate Yule or Solstice?  I mark the holiday annually in very small ways. It's such a busy time of year, and typically I'm busy doing so many things for so many other people that I do not have time to do many rituals to mark the day.

Things move quickly this time of year, boy do they ever.  When I started to write this post, I realized in short order that much too much has happened for me to write about.  Instead, I'm going to put up some photos for you.  I also expect to have some local photos as well, but that will be for tomorrow (I hope).

I made a Yule Log for the holiday. It wasn't as fancy or as decorated as I would have liked.  When I went outside to gather flowers for the cake, I saw that my garden was full of all sorts of butterflies. I didn't have the heart to take away any flowers, they need them as food. Plus, all sorts of secret spots are used for laying eggs and spinning cocoons.  I left well enough alone, the butterflies needed the flowers more than I did.  In the end, the cake was sparse, but beautiful in its own way. This is a very fluffy chocolate sponge cake (best yet), filled with chocolate ganache before rolling, and then iced with nut whip topping.

Vegan Yule Log, circa 2012

Before Yule, we made our annual trek up to the cold zone.  In it's defense, this year it wasn't as horribly cold as usual. Although the temps dropped to 20's most nights, the days were in the 40's (mostly), which all things considered isn't all that bad. Here's a sliver of our experiences from the trip:

To get to the cold zone, we have to leave our beautiful Florida Keys; no likey.
Here's a shot I took passing over one of the MANY bridges.
It was hovering at 80 degrees the day we left.

After arriving in Coldtown, USA, it was too late at night (or early in the morning depending how you look at it) to forage for food.  We woke up early and looked up the closest Whole Foods (breakfast hot bar anyone?) We learned the closest one was on South Street in Philadelphia. After feasting on organic hot REAL oatmeal with a side of vegan tater tots, I said I wanted to walk back a couple blocks because I had seen a building that looked a little unusual. I wanted to take some photos.

Come inside said the spider to the fly...

After he fed the meter (meter maids are EVERYWHERE, I will never complain about Key West again), we headed up the street.  Neither one of us were prepared for what we were about to experience.

Outside one of the buildings; covered in mosaic and objects.  Front.  Sides. Back. Porches. Walls.
Everything, absolutely everything, covered.

I started to take some photographs, and then we began to walk the outside.

There were steep sloping, uneven stairways covered.

It was cold because it was pretty early, but I only noticed that for a moment.  I was overwhelmed.  This place really is magic. It was hard for me to photograph at all. While I was shooting one thing, my eyes were constantly lured to another thing. I had to stop and think about every photo.

Where there were no walls, they were created.

We tried to walk through the gardens together, but we couldn't help it, we were each being drawn to our own interests.  When we "found" each other again, it was right by this spot:

This is one of my favorite words.

There were stairs all over, all different, all beautiful...

Every single object and tile has been touched by the artist.
There were hidden messages everywhere; self portraits by the artist everywhere, and celebrations of life and our bodies everywhere. This one shot alone covers all those subjects, and a secret spot to rest too.

Is there several self portraits in this spot, or is the artist including loved ones?
All keep watch over the weary who may seek respite on this chair.

I would like to meet this man. I wonder what he is like.  I wonder how he thinks.  I don't think I have to ask how he views the world, because he has already shared his soul with us.

He has an idea how to live...

Some words were broken, some words were English, some words in languages I have no idea what they were.

I touched as many tiles and objects as possible.
I closed my eyes often and just ran my hands over the walls, the steps, the floors......

We learned there was a gallery inside.....

We went inside. An explosion of color.

We paid the admission and went in.  This may seem trivial, but our trips are so short and so over scheduled, adding even one extra thing can derail the entire trip. I didn't care, and the other happy vegan gave no fight at all.  He wanted to see more as much as I did (at least I like to think he did!)

Ceilings, walls, floors, doors.  All covered.  This is either where floor meets wall, or wall meets ceiling.
It's a blur, I have no idea.
 After exploring the inside, we went back outside......

Whee! A turtle! Many animals are represented.
All animals are my favorite.

I didn't want to leave. When I say we spent 2 hours and had to be pried away, it's the truth. Two precious hours, but nothing in the scheme of things. I will go back there someday. There's so much to be seen.

A tree (?) grows in Philadelphia...

Yay! FINALLY made it to Sweet Freedom (allergy free vegan bakery).
Thanks Sweet Freedom, you DID bake me happy!

On the way out of town to our next destination, we took the scenic route.

Downtown held a ridiculous amount of people & traffic.
But it also makes for some pretty pictures.

Everywhere we go on our trips, bridges are involved. Tunnels too.

Suspension bridges are among the most beautiful, but probably the ones I fear most.

$900 for a snow blower?  Bah!
I couldn't resist taking a picture of this sad sight.
People around me looked at me really funny as I laughed out loud and took this picture.

In the mix, a trip to the Big Apple was on tap.

We ate at a Loving Hut! Been wanting to try them for ages, and so glad we finally did.
Inside the teeniest, tiniest restaurant space on Earth, the beautiful souls in the NYC Loving Hut dish out some of the best food anywhere.
It's a delight to me beyond words whenever I go someplace that anything on the menu is fair game.
Loving Hut is fabulous!

Loving Hut has a lovely philosophy, and isn't shy about saying so all over their walls!

We arrived in the daylight and as we drove I observed far more vegetarian and vegan restaurant signs than any other time I was there.  A beautiful sight, and a sign of the times.  The city was absolutely overrun with people. Palm tree girl began to feel a little anxious, and a weensy bit cold.  I pulled on tiny red gloves with the sparkly skating penguins that I bought at a Keys thrift shop, and steeled myself for being around more people on 1 block than live on my entire island.

We did some touristy stuff, like this.
The tree is beautiful.
Yes this tree is beautiful, but I have to wonder was I the only one in the crowd thinking why did someone cut such a beautiful tree down, and how much is all that electric costing and adding to our planet's problems?

We walked. We talked.  My nephew was with us, and he's quite a trooper. I think he handled things better than I did as far as the assault on the senses. And, as only a child can do, when he saw a person sitting on the street who looked very in need, he pulled his mother to his lips and whispered that could he please give his little hat to the man so he wouldn't be cold anymore.  If only it were that simple, no?


In it's own way, the city has a way of making me feel as insignificant and unimportant
 on this Earth just the same as the ocean.

We learned to think long and hard before buying any more Spiderman crap for nephew. Somehow we were duped into buying a glove that shoots web.  Blue web.  Wet web.  Nasty web.  A never ending supply of blue, wet, nasty web came shooting out that glove.  It stuck to everything, including my camera, the dog and my brother's head, just to name a few things.  We stayed with them a few days. The morning we left, the other happy vegan noticed out of the corner of his eye a piece of that blue, wet (not dried) nasty web. Even after the monster cleaning session (which I didn't even participate in, so shameful), blue web remained. I wonder if I'm allowed back at their house...... (heck at least we didn't buy the refill 12 pack).


We ate here!
A very small piece of me is grateful I do not live closer to this place.
We've been here several times, this time we made it for brunch.
My sugar efforts were completely derailed by the tiramisu.
Oh heavens, it was so worth it.
This restaurant is absolutely, positively one of my most favorite places.  Ever.
It's almost always gloomy when we go. At least it didn't snow.  We were driving on the way from here to there in the mist when we saw the fog just sitting all over the waterways.  I asked to stop so I could take some photos. I climbed up a barricade to get this next shot, I had to because......

When I took this scene...

I was thinking of this scene.

Rain, rain, go away.

More freakin' bridges.

The whirlwind finally came to an end.  I really haven't touched on 99% of what went on during our trip, but at least you get the idea, right?

And, driving home, back in our beautiful Florida Keys, this is what greeted me over yet another bridge.
 


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Remaining Positive

This month I have been focusing on "favorites."  Nothing in particular that's a favorite, just things I'm pretty keen on.  Somehow events are working to derail me.  We've just had yet another setback here at the inn with a project we've been working towards for close to 3 years now.  Even worse, the current events have left us mourning with the rest of our country for the innocents slain in Connecticut.

I haven't been posting much on Facebook, and I have put up even less here on the blog. I have been feeling blue. Sad for all the pain so many must now endure.  Sad for the suffering, the angst. Sad for my own losses that occurred this time of year, and sad to again say "see ya next time" to family and friends as we fled the not-so-frozen tundra this time around and returned to Paradise and palm trees. Yes, I was away for a bit, but now I'm back. I have some pictures for you, we went to Philadelphia, NYC, and all points in between. I haven't even unpacked my camera, have faith that palm tree girl can get that accomplished and some photos uploaded for you at least in the next day.

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, the darkest of days where we honor the return to light.  A time of reflection, rebirth, renewal.  I have prepared for Solstice by working on a Yule Log (I'll frost it tomorrow), and pulling out my rocks and crystals.  I have to work, that's a given, but I will make time to do what I need to for a proper, albeit abbreviated, Solstice celebration.  And, then I will return to re-focus on my favorites.
  
I'll see you tomorrow for Solstice.  Breathe deep.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

More favorites!

If you know me even ever so slightly, you probably know I'm not much for holidays of any type.  Running a bed and breakfast, my biggest holiday seems to be "Groundhog Day" the movie version (come on, you know what I mean!)  In December, I observe the Winter Solstice, which is the biggest holiday observation for me except for Summer Solstice (thanks Dad!)  But once I allowed myself the freedom to move away from conventional ideals, including holidays, I also found that I enjoy some of the conventional elements more than in the past.  This includes holiday lights.  I liked them before, but somehow always found a depressive element to them. I no longer feel that way. I love holiday lights and have turned into one of "those people" who will drive around to see them.  Granted, my idea of driving around to see them is via boat, but it's still driving around.

I was on my way over the 7 Mile Bridge a couple weeks ago in the middle of an 80 degree sunny day and I saw a pretty big boat with a pretty big fly bridge in between the new and the old bridges.  At first, my reaction was "fools, they're going to get stuck."  Then I saw all the Santa hats on the crew and captain, saw piles of decorations, and then saw a few margarita glasses in hand.  Under cover of blinding sunshine the elves were in action to decorate the big scraggly pine tree that grows magically out of the old 7 Mile Bridge.  There's a sketchy roll out ladder that someone hung off the bridge, and then Evil Knievel Keys-style scampers up the ladder at some point every December and adorns the trapped tree with lights. This year the display is larger than ever. More lights, more driving, more margaritas.

At Deer Run, we decorate for the holiday.  The other happy vegan observes, while I do not.  I make my Yule Log, play with my rocks & crystals, have Mark the Weaver make some palm wreaths for doors and windows, and roll out the big guns of baking in the kitchen.  Typically I'm in the kitchen an extra 6 hours daily this time of year with baking obligations.  I don't mind until the inevitable moment when my wrists fail and the ice packs come out.  Even then, it's still not all awful, and I'm happy to be looking at the ocean and palm trees.

The other happy vegan has one absolutely mandatory chore for the holidays.  Put up the Deer Run holiday light display.  He hauls out the ladder and extension cords, and then watches for low tide.  Any guest who's had the delight of visiting Deer Run in December or early January knows what this means..... yup, the annual decorating of the ocean  mangrove.  Basic supplies include the ladder I mentioned, the waterproof extension cord and (eco) lights, and plenty of adult beverages.  This year was no different, so without further delay, I present our annual decorating in action:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Yup, More Favorite Things

So much is happening in the Keys this time of year.  It's like we go from a sleepy little village one day to overnight an explosion of holiday activities, people coming back for season, parades, shows and etc.

Yesterday was the annual holiday arts & crafts show at Out of the Blue Gallery on Big Pine Key. The weather didn't cooperate for part of the day, most unfortunate.  Some vendors had to leave, their wares just couldn't handle the bouts of rain.  But, the rain DID stop, and the sun DID shine. There ended up begin a pretty good turnout for the event after all. I was there for a good portion of the day volunteering at the Got Your Bags - Florida Keys booth.  This is a program whereby we encourage people to voluntarily use less plastic. How do we do this?  Well, first is education and consciousness raising.  Often times, the simple suggestion of something is all a person needs to begin the serious thought process on an issue.  Such is the way with plastic bags.  The second thing our program is doing is asking people to take a simple pledge to use less plastic.  In exchange, we give away a free reusable shopping bag.  This is fabulous, it really is. While many people seem to have the reusables already, I've been very surprised to hear how many people say they don't even have one yet.  So, this is an important step.  Another great thing GYB is doing is giving away a free window cling that says "Got Your Bags?"  It's not a sticker.  It's a cling.  It peels off and on without damaging anything.  So, you can put this little cling onto a car window or any place at home near your door to remind you to take your bags when you go out.  Lots of us have our bags, but forget to bring them. The nifty cling is a great tool to help us build a new habit of bringing our own bags whenever we go somewhere.

So, what is this coming to about favorite things?  Twofold actually.

One of my favorite things is our planet.  I'm not joking here, and this is not sarcastic.  I love this planet. I love the oceans, the life it supports, the air among us, and the beauty that has been bestowed upon us. I want to do what I feel is important to help this planet be healthy enough for a very long time to be sustainable for future generations of all life, including people, animals, and plants.  I do believe that reducing our usage of plastic is crucial. I am willing to make sacrifices for this.

Yes, Earth is one of my favorite things.

So, you may be wondering, what is the "two-fold" part of this post? Ok, after my shift at the booth, I went inside to browse the wonderful Out of the Blue Gallery.  My travels in the store took me to their consignment room.  What should my wondering eyes fall upon? A lady pirate costume in the half price closet; not only was the costume there, but it was half price!  I grabbed it, opened it up and inside was all the necessary ingredients to be piratey... the dress, the booties, the eye patch, bandanna and belt.

Luciana Luna Bean is a fan of the new pirate garb.

Here in the Keys you never know when you'll have to dress like a pirate. This was the equivalent of finding a pair of faerie wings, it was THAT huge.

I now have a lady pirate costume.  I am ready for any "dress like a pirate" occasion at a moment's notice. You may scoff at that, but here in the Keys, any day can turn into "dress like a pirate" day.  You better be ready when it happens!

Indeed, it is a favorite thing of mine is when the Universe brings me to the right place, at the right time, for just the right thing to ice the cake of my day.

More favorite things to come, including Christmas in the Keys, Solstice, Yule and more!!!  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Favorite Things - Continued

We've only just begun to cover my "theme" of favorite things.  Today has to do with my love/hate relationship down here with shopping.  Since this topic is "favorite things" I'm going to skip the reasons why I'm not a fan of shopping down here, and concentrate on the why I am a fan of shopping down here.

Around this time of year, I like to polish the chrome on my convertible, prepare a special sparkly Keys holiday outfit, bake like mad, and then deliver said baking to friends and such in said sparkly outfit while driving said polished convertible as heavy metal blasts through the speakers.  I like to find a different outfit every year. Now, I'm not talking what you probably would expect.  Down here for the holidays, I usually put on a pink or purple wig, a glittery pink Santa hat, and some ridiculous colors and sequins with army boots, and sparkly tights.  It's to make people laugh, not to compliment my "great taste."  And, usually I do get a fair amount of laughs and looks.  I like this.

So, it's outfit planning time for this year.  I rummaged in my closet and decided I had some good basics, but needed something new and sparkly.  I've been hitting the vintage & thrift shops pretty hard the last few days searching for something perfect.  I managed to find a few good pieces to work with, but as I was walking out the door of one of my most favorite thrift places, I heard a little "oooooo, come back here!" voice calling me into the back room of said thrift shop. The secret stash.  There in all its glory was the perfect outfit for making cookie and cake deliveries.  I haven't tried it on (yet), I've been soooo busy today.  But, tomorrow is the day of reckoning.  If it fits, I've got the most perfect outfit.  And, this is one of my favorite things.... poking around the thrift shops looking at things and having to really think "how can I use this."  Here, I almost never buy clothing for a specific purpose.  I am constantly on the look out for costumes, glitter, sparkles, wigs, and other things that you just never know when you'll need them.  And, this is how I prepare for events like Midsummer, Halloween, Fantasy Fest, and even cookie deliveries.

I like how I have friends and people who get into this stuff as much as I do.... in fact more.  I like that people care enough to call to me from the back room of a vintage shop and say "I have THE MOST PERFECT THING FOR YOU!" and smile and laugh all the way.

I realize we do not have big box stores (for the most part), malls or other such nonsense.  Thank goodness we do NOT have them. There's rumblings of a mall-ish development at this time.  If there is anything I can do to protest that from happening, I will be there.  I did not move here to shop at stores such as Wal-Mart and the equivalent.  In fact, here we are the opposite of such mentality.  We always search for fair trade and Made in the USA items, and we refuse to buy things that are made in countries that do not offer a safe environment nor living wages for their workers.  So, when we buy things from thrift shops, this essentially closes a loop before it opens as far as issues like that.

Yes, a favorite thing of mine is the experience of shopping local, seeing friends or people I know, and then having to create things seemingly from very little.  But, the truth is, the "very little" is always so much more, and always more than I could ever need or want.  And that, indeed, is a favorite thing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Favorite Things - A Theme

I've decided to devote a few posts this month to my favorite things.  I have lots of favorite things.  Favorite people (short list), favorite animals (long, never ending list), favorite food (exceptionally long as well), favorite movies, favorite things to do, and blah-blah-blah. Today is about a favorite thing of mine called eye-witness justice.

I was driving Pop up to Marathon this morning enjoying the view.  It was a little sprinkly in the Lower Keys early this morning, but as soon as I hit the bridge, it was blue sky and sunshine.  I noticed the annual "decorating of the Australian Pine that grows magically out of concrete on the old 7 Mile Bridge" and laughed.  After I dropped Pop, I had errands to do in Marathon.  By the time I finished my stuff, it was well after 1pm.  Way later than I usually head back to Big Pine on a Pop day.  Traffic was a little heavier than usual, I think simply because I was heading home later than usual.

As I was driving through Marathon coming upon the 7 Mile Bridge, there was no traffic behind me, but a few cars were ahead on the bridge.  I was in Pop's car.  It's older, and I'm not as confident in it's abilities as I am with my own vehicle, so I mind my manners very well in that car.  I don't take chances in his car, and I keep the speed pegged only about 5mph above posted limits anywhere I go, especially on that bridge.  Anyone who lives in the Keys and drives on a regular basis has seen some pretty crazy stuff on that bridge, and we know to never let our guard down.

By the time I was on the bridge, traffic was steady.  I fell into the line of traffic, and noticed coming up seemingly out of nowhere was a brand new large sized crossover vehicle.  She was approaching me at a high rate of speed.  When she came upon me, she began tailgating me.  I noticed she was on her cell phone.  I sighed.

There were cars in front of me, and a steady stream of traffic oncoming.  She was itching to get past me, but there wasn't much space between me and the next car, nor the 2 cars in front of him. That mattered not in the scheme of things, for she had her plans.

She continued to tailgate me and talk on the phone.  About half way across the bridge, she made her move and bolted past me and the car in front of me.  Traffic was oncoming as well, so at the last moment, she hit the brakes, and cut in front of a car to get back into our travel lane. This behavior was repeated all across the bridge until I couldn't see her anymore.

At the end of the bridge we drove a little bit more, and a few miles later I saw flashing lights ahead. I wondered about the white crossover, but thought that would be just too good to be true, it's rare I ever see offenders that pissed me off pulled over.  I got closer and indeed what to my wondering eyes should appear but a favorite thing... I was eye-witnessing justice! A Sheriff had the woman in the white crossover pulled over.  Maybe it was for cell phone, but more likely it was for speeding.  It would've been great if it was for reckless driving, but that's doubtful.  I slowed a little bit.  Her window was rolled down of course.  I rolled my window down, very lightly tapped my horn, blew her a kiss and waved.  I couldn't help myself. She deserved it, she really did.

Justice on any level is a favorite thing of mine.  I see it so rarely anymore, but I witnessed it today.  In the scheme of things, this didn't really effect me, right, because she didn't run me off the bridge, nor anyone else in my vicinity.  But, she could have killed someone or many someones.  Thank goodness she didn't.  And, thank goodness at one of those moments, a Monroe County Sheriff's Officer eye-witnessed something more than a little "off" about her behavior as well.

Ahh..... this is definitely one of my favorite things.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

HellYeah Vegan Bongos Part Deux

So proud of my uber-veg friendly collection from Mr. Bongo-man;
this is everything, minus 1 shaker not shown.
We've got to talk, you and I.  Well over 1 week has passed since my last post.  When I started this blog, my goal was to write every other day, then 3x weekly, and now at least once a week.  Fail.  Sorry. Presently I'm working to find a better balance in my life.  I have so many work obligations coming at me from so many directions, even I surprise myself some days.  To that end, yesterday was more of a "me" day.  Why?  Well, mostly because it was the Sugarloaf Craft Show AND the Key West Garden Club Annual Show (the "Sue" show as I've come to call it here and elsewhere).  Total ME time.

I wait all year for the Sugarloaf Show.  All year.  The other happy vegan knows don't mess with my head on Sugarloaf day; meaning if he is the destined escort do NOT under any circumstance rain on my parade... don't complain about traffic (leave that to me), don't complain I'm talking to the artists or friends I see, don't complain I spend money on things maybe not considered necessities, and don't complain that you want to leave.  For the most part, he is a good sport on all points mentioned.

I've been thinking a lot about the Sugarloaf show since last year because I got one of the best purchases ever at the show last year.... vegan bongos.  I've blogged about them, posted a photo or two, and absolutely love that I have them.  Without too much repeat (you can read the old post), just know that I wanted vegan bongos for a long time (bongos without animal skins) and couldn't find any.  Well, ok I did find 1 vendor on line, but for a non-professional bongo player (i.e.: me) I couldn't justify the cost of a very very high priced set.  As I was tooling through the show last year, I heard some very excellent music flowing, and I could've sworn it sounded like live percussion accompaniment.  Upon further investigation I realized it WAS live drumming, and I bee-lined over to meet "Mr. Bongo-Man."  After some great demoing on his part, I was invited to play any and every drum, shaker and tambourine he had.  They were all made out of wood.  Technically, they're not bongos, rather they're called cajon drums. You can look that up, and I don't want to go into that here.  I bought a pair of lap bongos from him last year, and a shaker too (actually 2 shakers). I got myself in a wee bit of trouble on the ride home last year because the other happy vegan found my car bongo-ing annoying.  I switched to the shaker for part of the ride home, and we made peace.

I love my vegan bongos and think it's some of the best money I ever spent.  I haven't had a single day of buyer's remorse, instead I only wish I had more time to play them.  I use them mostly on very sunny days when no one is around... I turn the dial from "new age" which usually is the background to my days here, to metal of some sort.  I don't go for that tropical Jimmy you-know-who when I need to bongo.

These are this year's acquisitions from Mr. Bongo-Man!
Check out that shaker with the Guiro down the side! LOVE!
So, guess who was at Sugarloaf yesterday.  Yes, Mr. Bongo-Man was back.  He had some new and different items this year in addition to the wares I was familiar with from before.  This time around he even had guitars (I soooo wanted to take a picture, but I never photograph at shows). He is crafting all his instruments out of wood.  He remembered me from last year (hopefully only because I'm very enthusiastic about his stuff) and we talked for a bit.  First I wanted to know why he wasn't playing anything.  He explained why (there was a firetruck that had just left the area, and it was too loud, he wasn't going to be heard over it) then flipped on a little Aaron Neville.  He invited me to pick up anything I wanted and join him.  What caught my eye most this time was a special shaker he had on display with little ridges down the entire side.... wait.... could it be.... a guiro?  Ok, confession.... I've been wanting a guiro for a while now too. Why? I'm not sure, but I just felt I needed one.   I picked up the guiro/shaker, and asked Mr. Bongo-Man to show me how to use it. He put his guitar down, and picked up a stick/mallet from his offerings, and began to scratch it rhythmically up and down the side.  Oh dude, this is too good to be true. He handed it off to me, then went back to his guitar as Aaron Neville continued to flow softly.  As we played, Mr. Bongo-Man said he's not going to make the little shaker with the guiro down the side anymore "that was A LOT of work" and he laughed.  So, I bought the little shaker/guiro and a stick to play it.  Along with this little shaker/guiro, I bought 2 very small mini-shakers, what I'd call the equivalent of an egg shaker.  Anyone worth their salt knows what an egg shaker is, and if you don't, well you're missing out.  So, I bought 2 mini shakers (perfect for handing off to a friend who may forget their shaker or drum for circles, right?) and then bought yet ANOTHER shaker because it just felt "right" in my hand.  Taller than my other shakers, yet more narrow.  Perfect for me because I have small hands but long fingers. Lastly, I picked up a flat drum/shaker combo that is almost tambourine-like, but isn't open with a handle. Instead I hold it flat, and can slap it with my hands or fingers, play it with the mallet/stick I bought for my guiro, or even use it simply as a shaker since it is filled with beads or other pellets.  I liked this particular little flat shaker/drum because out of all of them on display (yes, I tried them ALL) this one stood out, it wanted to come home with me.

I have quite a little collection going of percussion from Mr. Bongo-Man.  After all this, I think it's only fair that I call him by his proper name (Mr. Jim Olean) and provide a proper shout-out for anyone who wants or needs vegan bongos, cajon drums, or other percussion (and yes, now guitars).  You can reach Jim at (305) 240-0731 or email him at soundthings34@gmail.com  He was kind enough to give me the one and only brochure he brought to the show. I really appreciated that because you know something else? I have had more than a handful of people actually call me and/or write to me asking for his information so they can check out his bongos and buy them too.  And, sadly I didn't have it handy. I do also know that my vegan bongos post is one of the most popular posts I've ever written.  It gets TONS of hits.  Who knew?!

After we left Mr. Bongo-Man yesterday, the other happy vegan and I walked to the car.  I pulled out my little mallet and box shaker.  I began to drum to the music in my head, and in accordance with the day's rules, the other happy vegan did not complain.  He did ask me to switch to a shaker when we got in the car, and I agreed.  Of course, I chose the little guiro/shaker. I have to say, this little item is going to run neck and neck with my actual bongos for favorite purchase in life, ever. I guiro'd all the way down to Key West for the Sue Show, and most of the way home.  The only time I stopped was when I realized I could actually hold 3 shakers in one hand and jam.   Mr. Bongo-Man also gave me a super quick lesson about playing shakers double handed, but I admit that did not come easy for me, not at all.  I think I will practice that in the privacy of my own home. The 3 shakers-in-one-hand deal though I think went rather well. The sound was excellent, and each brought its own special qualities to my Ozzy's Boneyard fest up and down the Keys.

This morning I had reason to take an early morning drive down the Keys into Key West yet again.  In my little cup holder I had a Bongo-Man shaker.  I flicked on Octane (oh thank heaven for satellite radio) and jammed from time to time with my little shaker and my own perfectly out-of-pitch vocals to Metallica and VanHalen's finest offerings.  It was a good ride down.

I must again give serious thanks to Mr. Bongo-Man a/k/a Jim.  He's a pretty friendly guy, easy going, and makes nice quality artisan crafted percussion that a vegan gal like me needed to have in order to be more complete.  I said it last time, and will say it again... the world would be a much nicer place if everyone just had a pair of vegan bongos (or a guiro).  Thanks Mr. Bongo-Man. Oh, and ps: he wears a pretty cool hat too.




Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving From Paradise!





HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

With love from the whole gang at Deer Run: us happy vegans, Angel, Peri, Elsa, the Key deer, all the teeny lizards, the ibis, the pipers, the vultures, the osprey, the eagles (!!!), the butterflies, the spiders (eek!), the not so teeny lizards, the crabs, the bees, the snakes (no worries, you won't see them..... usually), the dragonflies, the ladybugs, the snails, the dolphin, the turtles, the shark, the fish, the pelicans, our kitties, the woodpeckers, the white crowned pigeons, the blue buntings, all the songbirds, the hawks, and all the other residents, permanent and temporary that pass through our little slice of Paradise.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving, Vegan Style

I had a dear friend who has long since left this world, Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday.  She told me there's no presents, no hassle, no mess, no fuss.  A holiday to celebrate gratitude.  She loved it. Now, saying no mess-no fuss is relative.  She would plan for weeks, and cook for days, to prepare for Thanksgiving.  But, she also was a full time domestic goddess, so such work was more feasible for her.

I'm essentially in the same boat these days (full time domestic goddess), but planning for weeks, cooking for days, is not on my list of things to do. I've got far too many other ways I'd rather spend my time, and far too many other pressing obligations. I'm a gal who's all about the K.I.S.S. philosophy (keep it simple, stupid).  This applies for me on holidays as well.

Thanksgiving is a few short days away.  The traditional holiday meal involves a carcass being displayed on the center of a beautifully set table, surrounded by people oo-ing and ah-ing over it.  That is so not for me.

If you, or someone you love, is making an effort to go veg, please don't get derailed over the holidays.  If you really want to keep it simple, go to your local market, and pick up a Tofurkey.  For about $10 you can buy a Tofurkey with a tub of gravy, which will feed 4.  If you want something larger, buy more.  I no longer buy the Tofurkey dinners, I only buy the Tofurkey roast on it's own.  While I appreciate their efforts, the dinner box has items there I won't use, because the other happy vegan wants his mashed potatoes instead.  Some years its dumplings in the box, other years its something else. Now there are also beautiful products called Field Roast.  They are divine, trust me on this.  They make something called a Celebration Roast, same philosophy as Tofurkey.... a roast stuffed with things.  I am a fan of Field Roast as well.  The price point is a little higher than Tofurkey, and the product is a little smaller.  It's money well spent.

Some people don't like prepared foods.  So, if that's not your thing, here's where you can really simplify.  Buy a beautiful squash, any squash will do.  Then cut it, take the seeds out and roast it with a little Earth Balance (soy margarine, but also now available in non-soy coconut, and olive oil for those avoiding soy).  You can stuff your squash if you want..... fill it with things like cooked brown rice, quinoa, dried cranberries, raisins, and nuts.  Or, really simplify things, and just use stuffing you made (of course using vegetable broth) from your own recipe, or perish the thought, from a bag.

For sides dishes you really don't have to change anything.  Mashed potatoes are the same, just use non-dairy substitutes like soy milk, coconut milk or almond milk instead of the moo-cow, and non-dairy margarine (choose soy free or soy it up).  You can even get fancy and whip your potatoes with roasted garlic and good quality olive oil.... delicious!

Roast veggies as you would, just w/o the butter.  Carrots, beets, yams. All good to go with a little olive oil and brown sugar.  Oh, and if you really want those candied sweet potatoes, go the Earth Balance route, and then also buy a bag of vegan marshmallows.... Dandies are the brand I use here at Deer Run when I'm going for the marshmallow.

Salad is vegan.  Skip the blue cheese dressing, and make your own oil and vinegar dressing.  Or, you can buy vegan versions of the creamy stuff.

If you need to substitute milk, use soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk.  I don't like rice milk, it is too thin.  I always choose organic, and always choose unsweetened.

If you need to substitute butter, buy Earth Balance.  As I said its available in soy or non-soy versions.

If you need to substitute eggs, this depends on what are you doing with the eggs.  If you are baking, and need an egg substitute, about 1/4 cup applesauce or mashed banana per egg is a fair substitute. Personally I tend to use either 1 tablespoon of ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons of water (equals 1 egg) OR appropriate measures of a product called EnerG egg replacer.  EnerG is carried by stores like Whole Foods, and health food stores.  It is a egg substitute for baking.  It is NOT an egg substitute for scrambling.  I like the flax substitute for things like fruit cakes or muffins (carrot, apple, blueberry, etc) and the EnerG egg replacer for things that have a more delicate crumb like non-fruit cakes (yellow, chocolate, coconut) and cookies.

As a vegan, I promise if I came to your house and you offered me a salad with vinaigrette, roasted squash, some mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, I'd be in  heaven. Wait, but what about dessert?  You can bake apples, very easy with earth balance, brown sugar and nuts.  You can make a pudding with non-dairy milk (I'll give you a link at the end of this post for a helpful recipe site).  You can make your own regular pie with a vegan crust (yes, they are available frozen at the grocer, many are accidentally vegan); just ditch the butter and use Earth Balance in your pie.  Truth be told, one of my favorite desserts of all time is a fresh orange and some chocolate. Not all chocolate is vegan, but almost all mainstream grocery stores have some vegan chocolate bars for sale. Be on the look out for non-vegan ingredients like whey, milk, milk solids, butter, milk fat, and other dairy type words.  If you're not sure, simply ask.  And, if you can't find vegan chocolate, skip it.  I love oranges, and am always pretty darn happy when I have the good fortune of a beautiful organic orange before me.

Keep it simple.  No one should spend the day in the kitchen when family and friends want to celebrate with you.

A really simple vegan web site for recipes is www.vegweb.com  And, a vegan magazine called VegNews has an on line presence that has great Thanksgiving ideas and recipes at www.vegnews.com  From there, click the "food" link on the header, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Don't over complicate things. Please spare yourself the grief.  And, speaking of sparing..... please spare the life of another sentient being.  Our good fortune doesn't have to come at the expense of the life of another.

Here I'll be roasting a tofurkey, and making the other happy vegan his requisite mashed potatoes and gravy.  I'll make some random veggies, probably roasting some carrots and squash.  We'll have a beautiful simple salad of baby greens, and if we can even consider dessert, it will be fruit or a cookie with some coffee.  If you want a simple vegan cupcake recipe, or cookie recipe, I would look to either of those 2 web sites and choose your recipe.  And, if you have any questions about something, I honestly and truly encourage you to email me at deerrunbb@aol.com  I promise you I will help you as best as I can with any guidance you need with your veg holiday plans.

Vegan food on Thanksgiving really is where it's at, hooray for compassion, and hooray for simplicity!



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Call Me Ms. Cellaneous

This post is just miscellaneous ramblings to catch up on some of what's been going on around here.

I've rolled out a fundraising campaign called "Pies for People (and Pets Too!) to raise money specifically for Superstorm Sandy disaster relief.  I am selling vegan key lime pies for $30 a pie, and donating 100% of that $30, yes the ENTIRE amount, to The American Red Cross Superstorm Sandy Relief and The HSUS Superstorm Sandy Relief efforts. I will raise $1000, and $500 will go to each charity.  So far I have sold 11 pies.  I will not stop until I hit goal.  If you are local and would like to buy a pie, give me a call at (305) 872-2015 to place your order.  If you are not local, and would still like to buy, you can donate your pie to the St. Mary's Soup Kitchen on Flagler Avenue in Key West.  In fact, 7 pies have already been donated by people to St. Mary's, and I will have more to deliver this week as well.

This week past the Superboats were back in town for the annual Offshore Powerboat Races. We headed down 2 of the 3 days, and spent most all of Sunday at the Key West Harbor watching the races.  It was a wonderful sunny day and the boating conditions made for very good racing.

It was a beautiful day for the races.
It's an adrenaline rush even just watching! 
Here's some Extreme boats tied up before the final race.
After the races we headed over to Help Yourself on Fleming Street for a fantastic early dinner.  We each had different wraps, and shared some Indian Summer Salad. The food is so good at Help Yourself, we are very fortunate to have them as a solid part of the Keys community.  Usually after the powerboat races food is an issue. Since expanding their cafe and opening their organic grocer this year, they've expanded the cafe hours, til 6pm on Sunday. Bliss.

On Saturday we attended the annual Save-A-Turtle banquet.  It was at the Marathon Yacht Club this year.  Vegan food received consideration this year; there was a vegan pasta choice on the buffet, plus the salad was vegan.  Yours truly did the dessert... a massive chocolate cake filled with ganache, and topped with my best vanilla not-buttercream icing.  I made little turtles to decorate the cake too. When among turtle people, you just cannot have enough turtles representing!

The banquet also offered a recap of this year's turtle nesting and hatch activity in the Keys.  It was not a good year for Keys turtles. We had stormy weather in July that devastated many nests.  I know on Long Beach after those storms, the turtles never really seemed to come back to us.  We had no hatches on our beach this year.  It's very disheartening, and I hope that the whole great beach walking crew comes back for next year.  When there's no turtle hatches, you're simply a glorified beach cleaner, and I'm using the word glorified to be kind.  We go out there in rain, wind, heat and any other weather, every day looking for turtles.  And, picking up trash.  So, when there's no turtles, we're just out there under the searing heat lugging bags of garbage, armloads of carelessly discarded lures, lines and other fishing paraphernalia that can harm wildlife, plus all the other crap that washes up.  For freshman turtle walkers, it can be discouraging.

I blogged extensively about Wyland's visit to the Keys to do the mural restorations and my experiences with various events associated with his work and visit.  Well, I also went back to the Marathon wall to study it since I couldn't go for the dedication.  It is beautiful.  Here are some pictures of the Marathon wall.

Looking up the wall.
It is magnificent!

Close up of the goliath grouper Wyland added.
WOW!
I haven't been up to Key Largo yet (that's so far away in Key's travel!) but I will be in Key West to take photos of the finished wall there very soon.  I'm such a fan of Wyland, and was introduced to his work through the other happy vegan, who has been a fan for decades.

Here the weather has officially kicked summer and we have welcomed fall.  Triple digit heat indexes are gone, and we have had a few days of no humidity.  My doors and windows are open from time to time, and there's that crisp taste in the air that those of us who live here identify with fall... while visitors just don't feel it. That's ok because it's all good.  I expect we'll be about 76-77 degrees today.  I plan to be out there running, but don't say that above a whisper in case my plans tank, ok?

That's about it for now. Oh, if you haven't "liked" us on Facebook you, check us out.  I put posts up fairly often, and will be using that forum to post short notice cancellations as well come high season.  Have a great afternoon everyone!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Election Day!

Here's Pop as he exits the polls.
103 and voting strong!
Here in America it is Election Day.  Both of us happy vegans voted. And, we took Pop to the polls so he could cast his ballot as well.  It's cool taking Pop to vote, he's like the Mayor of Big Pine.  Everyone, absolutely everyone knows him.  He lights up the room when he enters.

This election was a big one.  On our very long ballots here, we're also voting for President. It's been a long arduous campaign on all sides, and there's a lot of bitterness flowing from the mouths and pens of many.  Way to keep it classy, not.

My thought basically is that the reason we're down to the choices we have for president is because all the great thinkers and doers in this country are busy thinking and doing.  So in politics we get the leftovers.

Leftovers or not, it's a right not taken lightly.  Plus, I like that our little "I voted" stickers that we get here in the Conch Republic have teeny conch shells on them.

Personally, I'm glad it's almost over.  My mailbox was clogged with enough literature to do in the rain forest, my ears have taken all they can take with regurgitated rhetoric, and the thought of the amount of money spent all the way around on campaigns makes me sick. We could probably feed staving babies worldwide for a very long time with the same amount of money.

That's about it from me on Election Day.  I'm privileged to have the right to vote, and I hope you feel the same way.  Tomorrow is another day, another chance to get it right for Mother Earth.