Monday, May 27, 2013

Welcome Back, Kotter

I have been most neglectful of this blog. I have no reasonable excuse. Suffice to say, I've been very busy with work, and am reconfiguring a little bit of what I do, and when. Now, you might think that's awful to say, but you will completely forgive me when I do the PS: to the reasoning ... Peri. He's spending much time with us, and I simply am compelled to spend as much time as possible with him. He is doing marvelous, just marvelous!

I'll do a really quick rundown for you, and add that I do plan on being a better blogger in the days ahead.

Working from newest, to oldest, things have rolled like this...

Here, we have chosen some new appliances for this happy vegan. Things to make my life (hopefully) much easier in the kitchen. And, if we don't stay here, it will make things that much easier for the next happy vegan who comes into the kitchen. I've chosen a professional baker's oven. It's gorgeous. I confessed to you long ago that I got super excited when I saw the slop sink nozzle of my dreams, you can only imagine what went on when my new oven was picked out. I have worked up numerous new recipes over the last couple of months, some epic fails (what else is new...) and some really great additions (Matcha Green Tea Biscotti with chia and almonds anyone?) to the product line. I'm getting a little burned out in the kitchen, and am optimistic that the new appliances will help streamline production and organization.

Peri is an everyday love affair. He is really back to his old self, but of course the big missing part of his life is that he no longer is patrolling territory outdoors. He does get regular outside time on a tether, and he's doing well enough now that upon request from guests, we will let him onto our screened veranda for visits. He relishes that time, although often enough he will race to the back screen door, plunk himself down and howl to get out. He has taken to sleeping on my head (oh my goodness, I had a cat named Amethyst that used to be my "bed hat" and since she's gone no one has done that. Over the last week, Peri has been channeling Amethyst). My sleep is beyond poor lately. Peri is not light-footed at night, and when he arrives onto my pillow, it's quite the production on his part--without fail interrupting any sleep I may have been catching, and ruining me for at least another 2 hours. We are so happy that Peri is happy, stable (he's packing on the pounds in a good way!) and able to spend time with us here at Deer Run. His people parents are very sweet that way; I absolutely am crestfallen whenever he's not around.

I got out on the water yesterday for the first time in longer than I can remember. I put up a photo album on our Facebook page, please go visit the photos. It was so beautiful yesterday. We came upon roseate spoonbills on the flats, always such an unexpected treat.

Our issues with the County are not resolved. There are indications that they are willing to make the concessions we have indicated we expect at this point, however until I have what I want in hand then nothing is resolved. And, for that reason I feel like I remain in a mini-limbo. I have finalized many issues for other options, and you all should know that no matter what happens, we are committed to being activists and good stewards local.

Speaking of activism... we did participate in the March Against Monsanto this past weekend; did you? We joined in the March up in Marathon. There was a really good turnout, and I met some really awesome new people. We marched from the Community Park to the 7 Mile Bridge in sweltering heat (but don't worry, we're hearty folks and heat is nothing compared to the risks associated with not protesting...)  I am not looking to take away your Fritos or Doritos. You may have them should you desire. I am, however, all about labeling foods that are genetically modified. Presently, there are much stricter labeling requirements on ME for the products I sell as opposed to the ingredients offered to me (I buy only organic because I cannot trust that GM foods are labeled as such. Currently labeling of GM foods are voluntary only, and never in my life have I seen ANY product or ingredients with a GM label... have YOU?)

We have fawns in our herd now. When a fawn appears, everything stops in my house. I drop whatever I'm doing and rush out with my camera. I have no regrets about that.

Another thing I've been devoting much more time to is the organization Save-A-Turtle of the Florida Keys. The other happy vegan has recently become Acting President. There's been a lot of behind the scenes work we're doing to get things organized the way we want, and just work in general associated with that position. I'm doing my best to support his efforts, I type things, do computer-y stuff (please check out the SAT Facebook page!) and in general do the best I can for whatever needs to be done. Although we don't yet have any turtle nests on our beach, there are indeed several nests through the Keys now. No hatches yet.... the hatchlings will arrive in about 5 weeks give or take. Believe me, you'll know!  So, last Monday the 2 of us headed down to Key West to be guests on the "Key West This Week" podcast talking all about Save-A-Turtle and turtles in the Keys. It was an awful rainstorm on the way home, but afterwards we chased the biggest rainbow I've seen in years all the way home (you saw it if you're on our Facebook page).

I think I'll end this little ditty about here. I will put up some photos for you on the next post, just to catch you up.  Thanks for your patience with me. Paradise is a great place to live and work, but finding that perfect balance will probably always be challenging for me. I won't fail you, I promise!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Technology Is Not A Friend of Mine

I planned on posting a series of photos for you today. As you can see, there are no photos.

Yesterday I had to drive down and back to Key West twice. In one day. Coincidentally, yesterday we had the most horrid weather we've had here in months. Windswept, driving, pounding rain. It was most unpleasant. I had no idea the weather was supposed to be so skunky. When I left here in the late morning, it was overcast, but not a drop of rain. Admittedly the night before we had torrential downpours, and a blazing lightning show. But, that had no impact on the day as far as I was concerned.

I packed up the car, planned my stops, and hit the road. Halfway to Key West, I saw "it" coming before "it" hit. The skies ahead were black as night, and I could actually see the swift movement of the storm as it moved from one side to the other. Looking one way was overcast, but no rain, in the sky. To the other side, those dark ominous skies.  Curses.

There was no turning back, I had a schedule to keep and I plugged on. Within 5 minutes of my observations, the gates of Hades opened up, and I was completely consumed by close to whiteout conditions, which only worsened the closer I got to Key West. By the time I got into the city, flooding was already in progress. Thanks to the ridiculous, behind schedule, construction project at the mouth of the city, the bike path was flooding over, and one of two traffic lanes was impassible due to flooding. Of course I simply continued with traffic, literally going with the flow. I did note that the boats to my right seemed to be floating at a higher level. Eep.

By the time I got into the heart of Old Town, the water was up past the door jambs of my electric car. I never drove my car through such flooded conditions, and honestly electric or not, I'm not a fan of driving through flooding. I've seen those stories where a car begins to float in a few inches of water, and blah blah blah. Since I was past the channels and bay at this point, I knew at least I would not be carried out to sea. At every single stop sign and red light, I grabbed my camera and began taking photographs. I took photos of scooters knocked down due to wakes in their parking spots; photos of drenched bicyclists trying so hard to get where they needed, in water half way up their spokes. I took photos of cars rounding turns where headlights were swallowed up by water, and took photos of wakes rushing into businesses (a curse upon every single driver who drives fast enough to create a wake which drives water into someones home or business in Key West---there is NO excuse for that, EVER!)

In the 3 hours that it took me to go round trip and back on my first trip to Key West yesterday, I shot at least 50 photos.  Then, when I got home, I shot another round of photos that I thought were interesting on my street and property.

Last night I went down and back to Key West again, but did not bring a camera. I knew I had some great shots stashed on the memory card, and since the deluge was ongoing, there was no reason to risk a drenching of my camera.

This morning as I worked on my computer, I noticed my spare memory card on the desk. Not where I normally keep it, but I figured I forgot I left it there. After a few minutes I retrieved my camera, opened it up, and to my horror once again found an empty space where the memory card belongs. When, oh when, will I learn?

So, obviously the "spare" memory card wasn't the spare at all, and obviously there was again serious operator error.

When Peri comes over, I am forced to deal with the giant TV in the other room (come on, you DO recall this happy vegan being an insomniac who lies in bed all night long with the TV on, grabbing fits & spurts of sleep....) well that giant TV is so ridiculous, it has a mind of it's own. Apparently it is programmed to auto shut off after a certain period of time. In the dark, with Peri by my side, I'm fidgeting with an enormous remote control, trying to figure out the magic combination of buttons to press to get that television back on. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't. When I don't, things get ugly.

My cell phone is a 9 year old flip phone (recently disclosed to you here on the blog in one of my other rants on technology), because I cannot for the life of me figure out those fancy new phones. Oh sure, we have one for business, and that is a cause of almost constant anxiety for me.

I about fainted when I saw our washer/dryer has a computer I'm supposed to program to do a load of wash, and now that I have a new oven on order, my lip biting is starting to ramp up.... what if that too has a computer I need to contend with?

I tried to use our emergency radio the other day, and couldn't figure out how to turn it to FM. Yes, it's always set to "alert" but geez, forget about using it for every day.

Down here, gas pumps are computerized.  Not only do Jersey Girls Not Pump Gas, but happy vegans don't pump computerized gas. Oh yeah, when you see a female driving a hybrid in the lower Keys pulled over with hazards on... unless she's chasing around an injured animal for rescue, assume it is me, and I'm out of gas. That's always a special humiliation indeed.

Two things to sum this all up:

1. No memory card in the camera = no photos for you.

2. I'm having Peri over for a slumber party tonight, which means it's me vs. the Giant TV. Insert frowny face here.

Basically, here's all you need to know: it rained a lot in the Keys yesterday, and I will not be sleeping tonight, boo hiss. Enough said.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Stream of Consciousness Musings - Whatever Conscious Is

So much has been going on, I have missed writing about it. I simply cannot keep up with everything all the time, I've had to admit this truth. I'm optimistic about a little more "free" time in the upcoming weeks/months as typically in the Keys, summer months move slower. Notice I said "in the Keys" not "at Deer Run." For now, things are still moving pretty quickly around here, although there has been a definite shift around me as high season winds down. I've noticed it while driving, and in stores. Just not as many people around.  Despite this fact, I'm over scheduled in my own little world.  I hope this will be a bit of a synopsis of what's been going on over the last few weeks.

Peri. Sweet Peri. He is doing so well. I am overjoyed. I don't see him everyday, but I do see him most days, even if briefly to give him a kiss and a word of encouragement. In return, he fills my heart with calm and joy. We've been lucky enough to have a few slumber parties with Peri. When this happens, things are turned upside down behind the scenes simply because my own felines have their own idiosyncrasies. My companion animals barely get along with each other, let alone trying to get along with Peri, the self-proclaimed Mayor of Deer Run. My sleeping arrangements are compromised when Peri arrives for an overnight visit, but it's a small price to pay. Not only does where I sleep get altered, but how I sleep. Or should I say do I sleep at all. Barely. Peri is such an adaptable soul. He is very happy to be here, and simply sniffs around to get the lay of the land, and then settles in where ever the other happy vegan or I may be. He is a great sleeper, but he takes up a lot of space, he likes to be l-o-n-g while sleeping. And, then there's my own issues while he's here. I just do not like to sleep while Peri is here, it may sound ridiculous, but I don't want to miss any moments with him. Peri's people have worked out what seems to be a very good combination of medications that really help Peri at this point. He is more than a slice of his old self, he's really back in almost full effect. He continues to get well wishes from around the world too. It's amazing how much unity this one little grey fuzzy kitty creates.

Weather. We have cleaned up 95% from the tornado. The 5% remaining probably cannot even be noticed by the untrained eye. We've replaced the kayaks that were destroyed, the damage to our inn has been repaired, and even the leaves on the trees are beginning to grow back in. If you drive up and down my street, you will still see, from time to time, massive tree stumps out by the road waiting for grinding and removal, massive piles of yard debris, and piles of damaged goods. Here, our 100% recycled heavy duty beach and patio furniture stood the test of the storm. Our Adirondack chairs and tables are made by a company in Pennsylvania of 100% post consumer content recycled plastic. They weigh a ton and are a pain to move around. I knew this when we saw this product at a showroom up north, and fell in love with the styles and colors. And, both of us knew this was EXACTLY what we need here in a storm prone area such as the Keys. Although our chairs were actually picked up and did move about in the storm, none were damaged. That is a testimonial that I think I may have to write to the company about. We hope that anyone that has to replace anything damaged in the storm will think long and hard before purchasing inferior cheap goods.

Industrial Disaster. Since my last post there was a deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas, as well as a deadly building collapse at a factory in India. As far as the Texas explosion goes, this is not a matter of fair trade, but seems to me indeed a matter of cutting corners at the expense of worker safety. Unacceptable. I can only hope those who perished did not do so in vain, and that those responsible, if corners were cut, are brought to true justice. And, as far as the massive deaths and injuries suffered by so many in the latest disaster in India, this truly underscores once again why we support fair trade. Here, if I can get something marked fair trade, I will. And, when it comes to clothing, pretty much at this point, the other happy vegan and myself completely avoid massive stores like Target, Wal-Mart and K-Mart with goods manufactured from slave labor or child labor. We go the thrift shop/vintage route for the vast majority of our hard goods, and seek out Made in the USA labels. And, when it comes to food, I would never buy things like vanilla, chocolate, coffee, tea, sugars, spices and other items, UNLESS they are fairly traded. Hershey's chocolate, for example, has a terrible track record of where it sources it's cocoa from. They are major offenders as far as I'm concerned, and responsible for a lot of human suffering in the world. I cannot say it loudly, or often enough that we do support fair trade, and encourage everyone to do the same.

Blue Angels. It's been over a month since we attended the Southernmost Air Spectacular in Key West. The government sequester did impact some of the planes and exhibits for the event, however the Blue Angels were still flying at that point and we were treated to probably the last show before they were grounded. Those days represented my first days off since Christmas. I don't have much sympathy for people that say "I haven't had a day off in 10 days!" Try going for 3, 4 or 5 months without a day off, then we'll talk. We maximized our weekend, did we ever. I still plan on devoting an entire post to the Blue Angels, with photos. I waited and planned 18 months for that weekend, and aside from sunburn, everything was perfect. Since bringing your own food was not allowed, I admit I wondered about not having vegan food since we were going to be there all day, each day. However, imagine my surprise when we arrived and saw a smoothie tent on site with no dairy! The smoothies were full fruit smoothies, and that made me VERY happy. We survived the first day on those full fruit smoothies and giant soft pretzels that, although not the healthiest things to eat, were indeed vegan. The second day we found ourselves in a VIP tent, which all I'm going to say about that was FANTASTIC. Despite being fully prepared, including SPF 50, I did manage to get a Blue Angels tan.... sunburn on the ankles, and tops of the arms. That was the ONLY thing I didn't enjoy about the entire weekend. We even managed to eat dinner at Kaya on that Saturday night, which honestly has to this day still NEVER disappointed me on any level.

Food. I'm still baking and cooking like crazy. I've developed one new recipe, and been working through the massive "need to try" pile of recipes I have stockpiled since moving here. This is a slow and tedious process, but I have made some headway. Progress, no matter how slow, is still progress.

Boston. There is evil in this world, we all know it. Sometimes I have a hard time focusing on the good because it seems there is so much bad. But, coming out of the horrible attack at the Boston Marathon are incredible stories of selflessness, courage and heroism. I am very grateful for people who do good in the world, in the face of such evil. And, it is the truth when I say with every single run I have done since the attack, anytime I think I'm too tired or too hot to move on, I think about the people who's lives have been either been taken in the attack, or so altered by the attack, and I banish my petty complaints and finish. Be strong Boston. The thoughts of many remain with you.

The County. Here we are still in the midst of issues with the County of Monroe regarding waste water and building permits. Shockingly, about 3 weeks ago I thought I saw a glimmer of hope, but since then once again there has been no forward progress, and with them it's still "business as usual" which for us means no permits, and still steamroller treatment from local government. We have options, but they are dwindling, and so we will be able to announce sooner more than later what will be the final outcome.

Turtles. It IS turtle nesting season in the Keys. Although the final report for today is not in (yet), I don't think we've got any nesting activity over last night. So, although we have no nests yet, April typically yields no nests in the Keys, but May sure does. And, checking my calendar, I see today IS May 1 so I expect to have some news for you soon. Really looking forward to turtle nests this year!

I think that's enough for now. Today I have errands to run, 4 miles to pound out, a new recipe to try, and a laundry list of things to do as long as you. Try not to miss me too much, I promise I'll be back sooner than the last gap.