Sunday, July 29, 2012

That First Turtle Nest...

The hatch date for the first nest on our beach came and went with no action.  The other happy vegan, who happens to be the beach coordinator for our beach territory waited late past the due date before deciding to excavate.  This nest was the one I briefly mentioned weeks ago as being a likely "wash out."  We all held our breath, crossed our fingers and hoped, but it was not to be.  Here's the skinny.

The night of the excavation, we headed down the beach with other Save a Turtle volunteers and all the things we needed to do the job. When we got to the area, immediately a site survey was done. The first thing noted was that the very harsh storms we had a few weeks ago caused beach erosion to the tune of at least one foot of protective dune vanished.  Gone.  That was another very bad sign. The other happy vegan checked the GPS coordinates, and then double checked the nest location with the triangulation method as well.  After that, myself and another volunteer set out to begin the excavation.  Very gently we began to brush away the sand at the site. Within just a few minutes, the other volunteer spotted the first egg. It was, most unfortunately, very obviously a non-viable egg.  The storms caused a few problems for this nest.  First, the water saturated the nest, likely causing drowning.  Next, the dune and sand was eroded, causing the nest to be closer to the surface. This causes the nest to actually "cook" in the sun, and causes death to the eggs. And, lastly, the water causes the sand to compact very hard, which puts immense pressure on the eggs.  When a momma turtle lays her eggs, they are deposited into an egg chamber and covered with sand by her rear flippers.  The sand is soft, non-compacted.  When water washes in on a nest and sit for long periods of time, the sand becomes very heavy and it compacts.  We had days of very high tides and harsh wave action.  All these things compromised this nest.

Here, the excavation is just beginning.  I'm on the right; we're very gently sweeping the sand away, little by little.
Once the first egg was located, we moved even more gently to sweep away sand and reveal eggs.  Once we discovered the next few eggs, we knew without a doubt there would be no live turtles from this nest.  The eggs were not round, rather they were dented, some were moldy and they were packed very tight together.  Every single egg in the nest was damaged.

Here, the first eggs are located.  I'm holding the sand back while my excavation buddy gently coaxes sand out from between the eggs.  It's hard to tell, but the eggs here are misshapen, dented actually.

I'm sorry things turned out this way for this nest, in fact, it was really one of the saddest moments of my turtle career to date.  There was a very well known and excellent veterinarian on site observing the excavation, who specializes in exotics and reptiles.  Upon inspecting the contents of one egg that we opened, he told us they succumbed very early in development; essentially they never really had a chance.  There were a total of 115 eggs in this nest.

Here, its very easy to see what I mean about the misshapen and dented eggs.  And, the mold/discoloring on the eggs.  These eggs have been irreparably damaged by Mother Nature.  So sad.

After all the data was collected, we re-buried the eggs back on site.  While I was there, I collected a full bag of trash, mostly rope and bottle caps.  Both those things are deadly to marine life.  The rope causes entanglement issues, and bottle caps cause choking hazards.

It took me a while to put this post up mostly because I didn't want to think about the excavation again.  But, I didn't want to miss an opportunity for education, so I'm telling you about it now.  We have 5 more nests on the beach, and I'll report on them all.  It's also still turtle nesting season, so we could still have more nests.  Coincidence or not, we have not had any more turtle action on our beach since those severe storms.  I don't know why.  The turtles are still out there, people are seeing them swimming in the ocean and out at the reef.  So, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed is all I can say.

Thanks for checking in.  As of now, there are no other nests that were washouts from the storm.  I'll keep you posted, while you keep thinking good turtle-y thoughts.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Stop! Thief!

The other happy vegan and myself take our food very seriously.  We also take our work pretty seriously as well.  We tend not to socialize much during busy times, neither one of us goes out much.  What we have in common at all times is our love of food.  Granted I cook the majority of the food for  us (and all the food for the guests), but it matters not, we both love to eat.  That mostly explains my commitment to running and boot camp classes.  When we get busy, we can get a bit crabby with each other.  This includes issues with food.  As I mentioned at the outset, we take our food very seriously.

I mentioned my brush with fame in meeting Diana Nyad.  That trip to Key West resulted in one of my most favorite foods..... the tempeh reuben.  That tempeh reuben came home with me and waited all day in the fridge for eating after boot camp.  On my way home from boot camp that night, I swung by a convenience store and picked up an organic iced tea as well.  I have cut back on prepared beverages, even though the tea is essentially sugar free.  I can make my own, and hate to waste the packaging, recycling or not.  But, I didn't have tea in the fridge that night, and I had that perfect sandwich waiting. I survived boot camp so I figured what the heck, make the celebration even better with an iced tea.

When I got home, I sat down to eat my sandwich and drink my tea. The other happy vegan had eaten something else while I was at the gym.  I couldn't finish either the tea or the sandwich, so I wrapped my leftovers with loving care and stashed them back in the fridge.  I left my tea on the table, and went off to do something else.

After a couple hours, I went back to the table to finish my tea. Imagine my surprise when I saw the bottle was gone.  I located the bottle, empty, on the counter waiting to be deposited in the outside recycling.  I had to stop and think for a moment... did I drink all that tea?  No.... I did not.  I marched into the bedroom where the other happy vegan was blissfully sleeping.  I bounced on the bed to announce my arrival, and demanded to know if he drank my tea.  He admitted it.  He drank it.  And, then he said "it wasn't that much." I fumed! He had 2 bottles of organic lemonade sitting in the fridge, especially for him. I don't go near that stuff... it's HIS lemonade. This was going to get ugly.

I think it's important to note that I have a pet peeve with the other happy vegan. When he eats or drinks something that is "mine" and subsequently gets "caught," he deflects and will semi-degrade whatever it was that he illegally ate or drank.  Like the tea.  Not that it was great, wonderful and blissful.  Rather it was "not that much." When he eats a cookie I've saved, he'll say "it was stale" instead of admitting it was fabulous.  As if saying something negative takes away from the theft of my food or drink.

When you live and work with someone, trust me, little things turn into big things.  Like drinking someone else's tea.

As if the tea situation weren't bad enough, the next morning when I woke up and began rattling the pots and pans, I noticed that my leftovers were not where I left them in the fridge.  I rummaged around thinking they were misplaced (we have a very large commercial fridge), but I couldn't locate my most favorite tempeh reuben leftovers.  A thought almost too hard to believe crossed my mind, but I had to ask.  "Did you eat the rest of my sandwich?" I said to the other happy vegan in the dark before I even had the muffin ingredients mixed in the bowl for breakfast.  He admitted it.  He ate my sandwich.  My tempeh reuben leftovers.  And then he said "it was only a little bit left."

AS IF!?!

There's an episode of Friends from years ago when Monica makes a sandwich for her brother Ross, with a "moist maker" in the middle (yes, the sandwich was made of dead, but the episode is hilarious anyway).  Ross waits all year for the special sandwich with the "moist maker" (Thanksgiving leftovers), and cherishes that sandwich. He takes his special sandwich to work, puts it in the community fridge, but then someone else takes it and eats it. Worse yet, the thief doesn't finish the sandwich, saying "it was too big", so he throws the rest away.  Ross finds all this out, and melts down to the extent that he is sent to the hospital, given sedatives, and put on leave from work. It's hilarious because I understand too well.

So it was with the tea drinking, sandwich eating thievery that I realized I needed a break.  For two days and 2 nights, every opportunity I could, I reminded him he was a tea drinking, sandwich eating thief; I think he got the hint.  Last night, the other happy vegan (aka the tea drinking, sandwich eating thief) went out to the movies with people other than me.  Sure I was invited.  I could have gone, but it was him doing me a favor by going and leaving me here.  I had a 5 hour vacation while he and others went to the movies.  Oh, it was divine, at least for me.  Despite the fact that I spent part of my time vacuuming and washing the floor, I also spent part of my time making pesto (oh yeah....) and eating said pesto.  And, then I snuggled in with multiple cats and blissfully fell asleep while the television flickered through my room.  Five hours of peace; five hours of cats; five hours of flickering television with no one telling me to shut it off (which you already know is a constant issue for me, the insomniac vs. him, the non-insomniac).

When he returned from his night out, I woke up because I heard the door open and close. I asked him how was the movie.  But, there was a more important question on his mind.  He said "how was your vacation?" It was not until that moment I could confirm he knew I needed a break, as neither of us said it. 

I couldn't help but squeak with glee "it was GREAT!"

Now, about that sandwich...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Diana Nyad!

I had to go to Key West yesterday.  I got rolling relatively early all things considered with chores here, and was headed down enjoying the scenery.  No particular schedule, sure I had places to go, but no I didn't have a specific time to be here or there.  Once I got into Key West I hunkered down and paid close attention because there's construction going on, which annoying, but reminds me of "home." Where I come from, there's 2 seasons: winter and construction.

Anyway, I got into town, and headed right to the Sugar Apple.  After I stopped at the register for something, I headed back to the juice bar. Did you know... Sugar Apple is the ONLY place in Key West with an entirely VEGAN kitchen (well, ok, I'm sure there's vegans who live in Key West who have vegan kitchens, but Sugar Apple is the only commercial place with a vegan kitchen). I followed the amazing smells into the juice bar and said hello to the girls.  Everyone at Sugar Apple is so nice.  I like going there, I really do. I didn't bother to read the menu, or the specials board; I was on a mission for a tempeh reuben. I asked "do you have the tempeh reuben available today?" which probably had more than a fleck of wistfulness in my tone.  Guess what... YES THEY DID!  I ordered my most favorite thing, a tempeh reuben to go.  It was for after boot camp last night, so we had a little chat (sauce on the side, or on the sandwich?  On their recommendation I went for the sauce on the sandwich... good advice ladies, it was PERFECT last night too!)  So, anyway, what happens when you order at Sugar Apple is they give you a ticket that you take back to the register in the store and pay, while they prepare your food. They gave me my ticket, and I went back into the store. I was kind of hanging around the register chatting while one of the guys was looking something up for me.  Not being on a schedule or anything I wasn't in a rush.  I sensed that someone was behind me, so I stepped aside without looking at the person and said "you go ahead, I'm waiting for something and don't want to make you wait." She said "thanks" but I still didn't look at the person or make eye contact.   With that, the sweetie guy behind the counter says to the person behind me "this is Jen" to introduce the 2 of us.... and I really didn't look at the person... yet.  Then, sweetie behind the counter says "Jen do you know who this is....?" and I finally looked.  Before I completed my turn, I instinctively said "no."  But, before anyone could answer, I completed my turn, and my jaw dropped.  It was DIANA NYAD!  I said "holy crap, you're Diana Nyad!" Wow wow wow!  I was starstruck, I really was.

I am a fan of Diana.  I was barely in high school when she made her first attempt to cross the open water from Cuba to Key West.  I remember it very well, and even back then I remember thinking she was a machine.

I've never been an athletic type, but always wanted to be.  I have no coordination, little endurance, even less speed, and those are my best athletic qualities. In grade school, I was the runt who was always picked last for a team, the one everyone audibly groaned about when they got stuck with me. People who have never endured moments like that would say something like those moments build character. However, if you've endured that smack talk, character be damned.... its just abject humiliation. My athletic inadequacies have persisted my entire life, and I still struggle constantly not to compare myself to anyone, anywhere. I cannot swim a stroke, I cannot jump with 2 feet together despite literally hours attempting to do this to this day during runs and at stairs. My meager athletic accomplishments (if you can call them that) take so much out of me, so much work and practice, that I simply cannot fathom what it takes to be good... or what it feels like to be good.  So, when I hear about people like Diana Nyad, I'm really in awe. I'm almost at a loss to describe my feelings about true athletes. They are inspirations, role models, and puzzles to me. Puzzles because I don't understand the drive that comes from inside for athletes to test their bodies the way they do. Diana Nyad certainly falls into this category, but she's also so much more.  She is breaking down barriers, testing limits beyond anything known. She has the drive, focus and determination that are necessary. Plus she has a magic ability to tune out the negative, and dial in the positive. Even better, she's a genuine nice person; she's smart, she's funny, and she's real.

I watched a program about her last endurance swim effort from Cuba to Key West hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta (the Human Factor on CNN, it's a series) many months ago. I was riveted, I actually watched the whole program 3 times.  From the miracle of modern technology, we the public got to see parts of her effort that were beyond anything I ever imagined.  Her will to succeed is indescribable.  It's something you have to witness to understand, at least I had to see it on film to even scratch the surface of her determination.

Well, I met her.  I met her in person.  I gushed, and acted like an idiot. I asked a few questions, we talked for a moment. I did my best to hold myself together and not go into stalker mode.  She paid for her food, and went back to the juice bar to retrieve it.  After she stepped away, I practically collapsed. I didn't have a camera with me, but when sweetie behind the counter asked if he'd like me to use his camera and take a picture of us together, I actually declined.  I said I wasn't sure if she'd mind, and she probably just wants to get her lunch and be in peace. But, after she departed, I did end up basically running around the store saying "that was Diana Nyad!" "OMG, Diana Nyad was just here!" "Diana Nyad, Diana Nyad, Diana Nyad... she's amazing!!!!"  Yes, a true idiot in the house.  At least I didn't go into stalker mode and ask the kitchen what she ordered for lunch, which occurred to me.  Whatever she ordered, they could rename it the "Diana Nyad special."  I'm going to imagine it was a tempeh reuben. Good amount of protein, whole grains, plenty of greens (yes, comes with a mega side salad).  So, in my demented mind, Diana Nyad and I practically had lunch together.  Don't mention that part, she might not be as forthcoming to me if we meet again.

Diana Nyad is a true athlete.  There is a difference in my definition of a true athlete and the athletes that are splashed over the television and such.  Many of those splashy people have qualities I do not admire.  They become abusers of people and animals (Michael Vick anyone?) They take their abilities for granted and do not nurture themselves or others.  They waste time and money on excess at every turn.  They cause pain, and at times torture and death (Michael Vick anyone?)  I do not admire those people, not at all.  Rather, I turn to those who are more positive people. A true athlete doesn't necessarily have to be a professional for me to admire them.  It's what's inside that makes a true athlete.  Guts.  Heart.  Passion. The spirit of "I will do this, no matter what it takes."  Oh my gosh, what true athletes can do is basically superhuman.  Think Blade Runner. Yeah, I'm a fan of Oscar too, and will be looking for him at the Olympics.

I look to true athletes as role models in my little world.  I do this for many reasons, some listed above, some very personal.  But, when I admire someone, it's earned.  This beautiful, strong, driven, intelligent, wonderful woman named Diana Nyad is a true athlete and an excellent role model.  She is who we should teach our children to admire, she has qualities it takes to succeed in this harsh world.  She has what it takes.  She is not squandering her time and her talents, not taking them for granted.  She is not abusing her body with alcohol or drugs. She is not involved in illegal activities, going to prison, and coming back to the sports scene having money thrown at her.  No, she is quietly living her life, doing her training, setting goals, keeping her focus, and nurturing her body, mind and spirit.  She is amazing, amazing.

I cannot believe I met Diana Nyad.  I still cannot stop thinking about it.  I had the presence of mind to ask when her next attempt is, because we've been waiting.  She told me "very soon."  She's simply waiting for more favorable winds and currents.

When Diana makes her next attempt, I'm going to be following on line and in the media. I'll probably light a candle for her, and I will do my best to focus energy in the universe to her.  She deserves this accomplishment. She's worked harder than anything I can ever imagine.  She has the ability to do this, I  know she can do it. I truly look forward to the moment I can see her photo plastered across with a smile from ear to ear.  The feeling she will have at that moment will be a highlight for her, and it will represent so much to so many.  Diana Nyad is a great example of "anything is possible."

I hope you enjoyed your (vegan!) lunch yesterday Diana. It was a privilege to have met you!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I have to admit I am enjoying the Deer Run presence on Facebook. It's much more "instant." I can pop up a photo, or write a thought that's relatively random, yet something I think people would enjoy... and it barely requires a moment of my time.  Bliss!

Things get stale in my administrative world.  I do not have a secretary or assistant.  Oh, what would I give to be able to have that! It's not to be, at least for any time into the foreseeable future, so we'll all just have to put up with me and my poor time management.

I would like to talk about someone I recently met, someone who I consider in the "environmental warrior" category.  There is a gal named Danielle, who is a founder of a non-profit organization called "Balloons Blow."  They list their location as Jensen Beach, Florida. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon them, but it was I believe through Facebook.  What happened is I found them, and then began reading about them.  Their mission is to spread awareness about balloons as litter, as well as their profound negative effect on wildlife and the environment.

As I scrolled through their Facebook pages, I saw photo after photo after photo of a beautiful girl who is practically a mermaid, surrounded by trash and balloons.  Always counting and reporting on the number of balloons collected during each beach clean.  Trust me, there's A LOT of beach cleaning going on with Balloons Blow. Anyway, I read some of the posts, and looked at probably every photo.  I was moved enough to actually write to them, just to give a shout out from my little corner of the world and a big thank you to some kindred spirits.  You know, we clean beaches a lot here and its lonely.  It's dirty, its hot and sweaty work, its difficult, and at times very overwhelming.  I got a real shot in the arm learning about Balloons Blow. There is virtually nothing worse than seeing a beautiful creature foraging for food in natural habitat blighted by trash; eating trash, or worse becoming entangled in trash and then suffering horribly, usually dying a prolonged agonizing death. Balloons Blow wants to end this.

Hug hug, kiss, kiss.

Most people really don't think much of mass balloon releases, or even a child losing a grip on a single balloon in a mall parking lot.  In fact, balloon releases are a way that many people honor the loss or memory of a loved one, celebrate a wedding, birthday, or any other host of occasions.  But, stop and think please.  What goes up must come down.  And, where will it land?  Being that our planet is mostly water, odds are it will end up in a storm drain, a river, a pond, or an ocean. From there it will either be mistaken as food by something like a turtle (just make a visit to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon Florida if you'd like to see eyewitness proof of balloons pulled out of turtles), or they will eventually start to degrade after a very long time into smaller bits, which will be eaten by many animals and marine life. And, if that doesn't happen, the ribbon most likely will end up in the throat of a bird or marine mammal who has no gag reflect, and will choke to death.  Perhaps it will end up as an entanglement on a turtle. Turtles swim only forward, they cannot swim backwards, so any entanglement becomes tighter, and tighter, and tighter, with every stroke of the flipper.

Balloons should no longer be a socially accepted way to celebrate ANYTHING.  They are a scourge on this planet.  Not only that, balloon releases are actually illegal in some places, and that list is growing.

Anyway, one day as I was reading things on line, I learned that this beautiful mermaid named Danielle was going to be passing through the Keys.  I contacted her and said if she was in my area, please let me know because I would like to meet her and give her a "thank you" batch of the best organic vegan cupcakes she'd ever eat on the planet.

She accepted my invitation.

Danielle and a friend named Chris, rolled up to Deer Run not too long ago in an early 70s VW bus plastered with stickers.  Stickers everywhere!   And, the first thing I saw was a Hello Kitty sticker, which not for nothing, made me want to almost faint (yes, HUGE Hello Kitty fan in the house!)  Long story short, we met, I gave cupcakes, and I invited the 2 of them to relax and enjoy.  I had done a lengthy beach clean less than 24 hours prior to their arrival, and I hoped they'd find a way to relax, not collect trash.  That was not to be.

Oh yeah.... rocking the HK!

The Key deer came by to page homage.

The "official" shot which Danielle graciously agreed to pose for.
This is the face of an environmental warrior.

Although Danielle and her friend did relax and soak in the beauty of it all, they were gone for a long period of time collecting trash.  She sorted out the nature of the trash (i.e.: lobster trap necks, line, rope, and of course.... balloons) arranged it, and posed in pile after pile wherever she went in the Keys, including Big Pine, for photographs. Such a striking contrast... this beautiful mermaid sitting in the middle of ugly, harmful trash carelessly discarded.  In place, after place, after place.

Honestly I tried to just make sure they were comfortable, and not hover as they did their thing.  We didn't talk too much, but when we did, it was mostly about trash.  And, she said something to me that made me feel like sisters from a different mother when she said she cannot stop picking up trash, it is, she said "an obsession." Oh how we here at Deer Run understand.

We're tipping our hat big time to Balloons Blow.  Don't give up, too much is at stake.  We don't really have to tell you that, perhaps it's more to reassure ourselves.  The work is lonely, overwhelming and never ends. But we're reminded we're not alone in the struggle to leave things better than we found them.... to stop senseless, useless things like balloon releases.  To save the life of a turtle.  To insure that  there are still turtles for the next generation of mermaids to see.  Who can argue with that?

Balloons Blow can be found on Facebook, and also at  I highly recommend you check them out.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

We're Now on Facebook!

Technically, I could probably just put up today's title, and sign out.  I've already said what I have to say, but here it is again.  Deer Run is now on Facebook!  Yay!

Although our website doesn't have the Facebook icon showing on our web site, it will be there post haste.  And, you can certainly find us on Facebook without the icon.  We are "Deer Run Bed and Breakfast - Florida Keys."  My hopes with the Facebook page is to get more photos up, and current information up.  Things like weather conditions, photos of current events, blah blah.  It will be easier for me to do those types of things in a relevant way than to get them on this blog.  But, fear not, the blog is going nowhere, nothing about that is changing either.

Some people use social media more than others.  I use it, and really like it.  It has helped me reconnect on a personal level with people I've missed from years gone by, and it helps me to stay connected to friends in faraway places.  This is very important to me being so far away from where I lived for so long.  There's much good to be had in social media.  I intend to do my best to make our Facebook page interesting for you.  I hope you will find us on Facebook, and "like" our page.  But, you certainly don't have to "like" our page to follow us either.  You can simply check in from time to time and see what's up, just as so many people do with the blog.

So, there it is.  I've got so many subjects to post about this week on the blog, and I will do so.  I will also begin to build our Facebook page for you as well.  I hope you enjoy it all!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Let's Consider It Therapy

When the posts don't come as frequently as usual, 99.9% of the time it's a mental health issue.  Be it from over scheduling wearing me down, or just the state of the world finally breaking me, I will pass on posting until I'm in a happy "place."

So much negative is going on at so many levels, I admit I'm having a bit of a hard time shaking in off the last week or so.  I took it back to my roots (not my hair, you silly rabbit) and grabbed the measuring cups and sifter.  Yes, I'm baking.  For no reason. Well, there's a reason all right, but not to sell it, not to feed it to someone who ordered it, not to experiment for research & development.  Nope. I'm baking  for the h-e-double hockey sticks of it.  This, after a brief self-imposed baking exile when I got frustrated because I couldn't find an ingredient I wanted for a new cookie I wanted to create.

Today I veganized a cream cheese pound cake recipe that a friend posted about on social media recently.  I didn't just veganize it, I Keys-ified it as well, using Key lime instead of regular lime.  Totally different beast those key limes.  Don't talk to me about regular limes, no way no how.  They're just plain nasty. Perhaps the sentiment I have for limes is connected to an incident so long ago when I overindulged at a dance club on an entire pitcher of some horrible lime abomination. No matter how much I try and block that out, anytime I smell or taste lime, that is what flashes through my head. So, who could blame this happy vegan for being anti-lime, right?

All that aside, right now my house smells like citrus and vanilla.  It's wonderful.  I feel better, not cured, but a little better.  As soon as the cake is done, I'm heading out for a late run.  I think that should be the final thing to kick start me again.  At least I hope so.

How could I possibly ever forget that cake has magical powers?

Tomorrow is a brand new day for me to make of it what I will.  I'm not sure how it will all turn out, but it's brighter than it would have been before I lead myself back into the valley of the baking divas.

Cake. Is. Magic.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summertime Stuff

The weather here has been up and down lately.  Lots of lightning and thunder, especially at night.  It's really pretty to watch the lightning at night when I'm safe & sound in my home, but an entirely different beast to be driving around in the bad weather.  The good days of weather have made for incredibly calm and clear seas, great for being upon the water.  The storms that rumble through late afternoon or at night bring those activities to a quick demise.  Last night I was driving over the 7 Mile Bridge (yes, in the dark, in the rain, with thunder and lightning all around) and was at least grateful I wasn't one of the very few boaters I saw out to sea.

We haven't had any new turtle action on our beach in the last couple of weeks.  We're about half way through nesting season, and have 6 nests, one of which is a washout from severe storms over a week ago.  Through the skittish weather, I've been walking the beach constantly, still picking up trash and searching for sea beans.  I found a bean that I've never seen before, which I haven't yet looked up. It's always a pretty big morale booster for a find like that.

The Key deer are doing well overall, the babies are growing so quickly. There are still some babies not yet born, but by this time the majority have arrived.  I've seen new fawns as late as November, although that is the exception to the rule.

Summertime things roll slower down here. Quite a few friends and acquaintances of mine are scattered about the world having adventures and vacations. Restaurants adjust their hours, some close for vacation.  Many other businesses close for vacation, or adjust their hours too, you know its easy to get so wrapped up in our work that we can forget why we live here.... it's Paradise, that's why.  At least for me.  So, to that end, we are planning another annual closure, this year we've got plans, big plans.  I'm almost ready to reveal on this blog what's going to happen here, but just need to make sure a few more things are nailed down before I go public. Both of us happy vegans are VERY excited about things here, and its not been easy to keep as quiet as we have been about our goals. Suffice to say it's going to make Deer Run even better.... as if that's even possible?  We love it here, and have no plans to not be here.

I've lost my experimenting mojo in the kitchen.  I just don't have it in me as summer rolls slower, and I  want to dial my chores back. I had an idea for something, and couldn't really find an acceptable vegan substitute for something needed.  So, until I find something perfect for that, I kind of ditched the plans for now. Through the summer I'm just plugging along with my regular recipes, which are vast and delicious.  It's ok to be status quo for a while.

I think I've been away from the blog for a while because I was very upset over the Key deer situation (illegal feeding) and truth be told, its still at the forefront of my concerns.  I've written to the overseeing agency, but I don't have many expectations from them either. There's a lot of things going on all over the world with nature, wildlife, environmental issues and so on and the regulating agencies cry over either no money, no personnel or its not their division's jurisdiction.  I think priorities are all wrong, but what I think doesn't really matter, Mother Earth will settle the score in her own way on her own schedule.

I'm going to try and squeeze a short run in between the raindrops today.  I'm not sure it will happen, as I write the thunder is booming just as it did all night long. Where there's thunder there's lightning. Where there's lightning you won't see this happy vegan running.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Do Not Feed the Key Deer

On a recent early evening, I rounded the bend on my street and came upon a car.  It was stopped in the middle of the street blocking the road, on a diagonal.  It had one car door open.  All this, and it was on the wrong side of the road.

Even though I already was going well under the speed limit, I had to jam my brakes on because this idiot was just past the bend, there was very little warning of his antics.

Upon seeing the vehicle, I knew immediately what I would encounter; illegal feeding of Key deer.

The Key deer are an endangered species.  By definition, an endangered species is a species who's population is so low they are in danger of extinction.  This is not limited to animals, but also plant life, insects and marine life.

I've been to other places where it seems like if you breathe wrong in the direction of an endangered species, you'll just about end up in jail (of course I am exaggerating here, but be patient and see that I'm going to  make a point).  However, here, there is something kind of backwards with the Key deer.  I think part of it has to do with the fact, like it or not, they are a tourist attraction.  They are not zoo animals, these are wild animals, yet guide books around the world have written about them saying "go here, go there" to see them in the "wild" (usually someone's back yard.....) or whatever.  And, certainly its no secret they exist, nor should it be secret.  They are endearing to watch, and I take great joy in the privilege to see them go about their lives.

However, they ARE an endangered species.  We are NOT to interact with them.  We are NOT to feed them, or teach them behaviors which will endanger their already precarious position in this world. Yet, people do it all the time.  Case in point was me rounding the bend just a few days ago to come upon an SUV blocking the wrong side of the road with a door open, and no driver.  What this visitor was doing was illegal on so many levels.  His vehicle was blocking the road, strung across the wrong side of the road. He was trespassing on private residential property.  And, the icing on the cake of his deeds, he was feeding endangered Key deer fruit loops.  How do I know?  Well, because he and I picked up every single nasty fruit loop I could possibly find and put them into a box I retrieved from my car.

I've never seen fruit loops growing on trees.
This is what I caught a visitor feeding the endangered Key deer in the middle of my street.

I was angry with the driver, and angry with every passenger in the vehicle.  The ringleader claimed he had "no idea" it was illegal to feed the deer, and that there were "no signs."  He may have had no idea, but he cannot say there is no signs; signs are everywhere. And, he was apparently educated enough to know to come see them, so he had a general idea of other aspects regarding the deer, of this I am sure.  Thus, I had very little patience for his claims, and became absolutely irate when after all the picking up of the brightly colored cereal scattered in the middle of the road, I saw an arm dash out the back window and release yet another fistful of cereal INTO THE STREET as they were getting ready to depart.  It was a very emotionally charged situation, and I make no apologies for my feelings.  People who do things like this are directly responsible for Key deer fatalities.

Ignorance of the law is not an excuse by the way.

After that hand disappeared back into the vehicle, I was irate. I ran up to the vehicle and had an exceptionally unpleasant confrontation. He exited the vehicle and retrieved the dropped cereal, which I took. Sadly, after they left, I saw that they had left a trail of this brightly colored cereal scattered down my street, in the middle of the road. They did their dirty deeds and left with a "feel good photo op" while we here are left with the wreckage; the main cause of Key deer death is vehicle collisions.

Key deer were now all over in the middle of the street, around the bend and on the straightway, sniffing out the blue and red cereal bits. Key deer are herbivores by nature, yet being turned into scavengers by people. They eat over 150 forms of plants that grow naturally. That is their correct diet. When some ignorant person sprinkles cereal in the street, they will eat that sugar filled garbage as opposed to what they should be eating... what they NEED to grow healthy and strong. Certain plants encourage the growth of hooves and antlers. Food people feed them cause malnutrition and other ailments within the herd.  And, if someone hasn't figured out by now, to have any animal forage for food on the street encourages vehicle collisions. We have had too many collisions to count occur on our street, which almost always results in a fatality. This is how we lost the alpha male in our herd "Big Daddy" last year, and this is how we lose countless others in the herd, including innocent fawns.  It is heartbreaking.

Do not feed the endangered Key deer.  There are Federal protections in place that prohibit this.  You are doing them no favor.  It is illegal, and if you are caught, you will be fined. And, you should know that this behavior will directly have a negative impact on the animals, it is inevitable the deer will look to people and people in cars as a source for food. They will die because they now associate a car with food. This is so basic, so simple, yet people are doing it anyway.

Shame on the person who dropped the cereal in the street.  I hope his children enjoyed the short view they had, for actions like this will ensure the numbers in the herd continue to fall, pushing them every day closer to extinction.