Sunday, August 28, 2011

Goodby Friday Harbor Labs, Hello Vida Vegan Con!

I did not want to leave San Juan Island! No matter how much I complained about the cafeteria food, being around nature everyday, having close encounters with killer whales and learning a subject matter that I care so much about, felt incredibly right. I had envisioned myself being on the island doing work with the whales, and having just a taste, I know I will be back. I made many friends who I’d never guess I would connect so well with. I was shocked to find myself in a place of sadness when I got home. Of course it was great seeing my beloved kitties and rats. It was wonderful sleeping in my own bed. I am looking forward to cooking a real meal. But the experience was so profoundly amazing and exactly what I wanted to be doing, I mourned that it was over. There will be more of these experiences. The class at Friday Harbor Labs was just the beginning, but I am missing being there greatly.

Where I spend many hours looking for and watching Southern Resident Killer Whales

My transition to Portland started off with all those feelings, and I had the Vida Vegan Con blogger conference to attend the next day. I had been looking forward to the conference, but I never had a chance to really process my feelings of being back. I had a momentary breakdown when I first got there and started to talk with people. But I collected myself and went to a panel on positive blogging. Before the talk began, a woman saw my nametag and told me she had been looking for me. She had read my guest post on the conference website and complimented me on it. This random compliment from a stranger transformed me, and suddenly, being home wasn’t so bad after all. I enjoyed the positivity panel and looked forward to more talks. The next day, I gave a talk about activism and was again feeling great being back in Portland. Everyone was so incredibly nice and knowledgeable and welcoming. I talked with Jasmin Singer from Our Hen House and did an interview for a pod cast. I was impressed by her eloquent speaking ability and how nice she is. The whole experience was a wonderful reminder that there is community all over the place if you just open your heart to it. And my depressing transition back home suddenly became an empowering experience.

Thanks to all the organizers of the conference. Jess, Michelle and Janessa are all fabulous hard-working women who know how to create an amazing event. I was able to make up for the 5 weeks of bad food in the two days I was at the conference, eating a lot of flavorful meals and sweet desserts. It was also fantastic to see so many of my friends at once while being welcomed back home. And the swag bag from the conference is also something to talk about! Damn! I never received so many free things before. I am now the proud owner of a pepper grinder. I love pepper!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Once again it is all about whales and cafeteria food

It is hard to balance criticism and appreciation sometimes. I really appreciate how hard the cafeteria at Friday Harbor Labs works to provide for all the different dietary needs of the students and staff. I am however, tired of no thinking outside the box. No tofu scramble or even a potato veggie medley. Everything is so carb heavy and I have only seen whole grains for lunch or dinner maybe twice. They were not kidding that I would want to supplement my protein since there is vegan protein available in meals less than 25% of the time. And 90% of those times it is garbanzo beans. Variety please!

Sadly, I don’t always trust what they make for me.
Majority of the cafeteria staff has been super nice. One woman, however, gives all cafeteria a bad name. She once grabbed a bowl of strawberries I had for dessert from my tray to give to a gluten free person, and told me I could have the angel food cake. I had to argue to convince her it was not vegan and so she then told me gluten free people never get dessert so I should still relinquish my strawberries. I only get dessert if they have sorbet and can tell me the ingredients. That has happened twice. Gluten free people can have ice cream and they even have special gluten free cookies for them. Just saying.

One gripe I have with the cafeteria actually has nothing to do with me. I believe that if someone has a deathly allergy to an ingredient (such a one student's peanut allergy) they should not cook with that ingredient while the person is needing the dining services. The student doesn't feel comfortable eating there for the entire day due to cross contact concerns alone, which is completely understandable.

I am sure you can tell that I am getting tired of over 3 weeks of just cafeteria food. I miss my cooking! And choice! I hope to borrow my TA’s kitchen this weekend to make a tofu scramble, and am looking forward to it.

In other news, San Juan Island is still awesome! I am doing a behavioral project of orcas and their breaching behavior, so that means driving out to the west side every day and look for them. The beginning of August they headed west and left town for almost a week, but suddenly they are back and I have had extreme luck in seeing them for a few days in a row now, while sitting out in the beautiful (but not too hot) sunshine. The other day a cool thing happened. A very small pod of orcas (about 4 of them) headed south and they seemed to have different behavior than I am use to seeing and a male orca has a super large curved dorsal fin. A classmate suggested these were transients, and she was right. After watching them for about 15 minutes, suddenly a large pod of resident orcas headed north into our view. The transients were kinda boring, but the resident orcas put on a show right away. There were breaches all over the place and then they started to forage for fish and did more breaches, and tail slaps and spy hops. It was great!!!