By Graeme Simsion
Simon & Schuster 305 pages
Don Tillman is a 30-something professor of genetics at a Melbourne university who has decided it is time to get married. He has never had a second date in his life, and most of his first dates have ended prematurely. Professor Tillman has Aspergers syndrome and lives his life with strict adherence to routine; rationality and time management. TV fans should think of Sheldon Lee Cooper (Big Bang Theory) or Martin Ellingham (Doc Martin on PBS) to grasp the depth of Don’s social ineptness.
Owing to his cerebral approach to all life’s problems and situations, Don embarks on The Wife Project as a way to find his suitable mate. He draws up a 16-page questionnaire to filter out the unqualified – smokers, overweight, under exercisers, etc. His best friends Claudia and Gene Barrow aid him in the plan for his Wife Project. Gene is a professor of Psychology at the same university as Don and has a very peculiar hobby – seducing a woman from each country on the earth. These are tracked by pushpins placed on a wall map in his office. His long-suffering wife Claudia has been a source of social etiquette for Don over several years.
In the midst of Don’s execution of his Wife Project, Rosie Jarman enters the scene and everything changes. Rosie wants to find her biological father with whom her mother had a brief encounter at a medical school party decades previously. She died when Rosie was 10. Rosie is convinced that Phil, her mother’s husband, was not her father because of the difference in eye color. Still working on his Wife Project, Don agrees to help Rosie find her biological father.
The Rosie Project is absolutely hilarious; a comedy with a large helping of scientific information, charming characters and the mystery of Rosie’s real father. There is an inordinate amount of alcohol consumed by these folks! It’s a fun read for the busy holiday season or any time. If you need to relax and release those feel-good endorphins, The Rosie Project delivers.
About The Author Maggie Gust is a life-long avid reader whose career path has included working as a teacher and in various positions in the health care field. A native of Illinois, she has lived in Florida since 1993 and presently works from her home here on Marco Island. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgNote: There is an email link embedded within this post, please visit this post to email it.
PROTECTING & PRESERVING
The day after the third Thursday of November every year, many of us who celebrate Thanksgiving look forward to eating leftovers that include tasty turkey sandwiches. Many find this the best part of the holiday! Unless an avid sportsman is in your family, the turkey that filled your home with the heartwarming aroma while roasting all morning, came from a commercial turkey farm. As we sit down with family and friends, giving thanks for all the gifts in our lives, there are about seven million wild turkeys in the United States giving thanks that they are still roaming around in the woodlands.
Almost the national symbol, there are five subspecies of wild turkeys in the United States: Eastern, Osceola, Rio Grande, Merriams and Goulds turkeys. The populations are sustainable due to management programs that brought a 700,000 population in the 1930’s up to a 7 million population today. 5.1 to 5.3 million of all these subspecies of turkeys are the Eastern Turkey, whose range covers most of the eastern United States, stretching into the Midwest. The Eastern turkey population is also found south into the panhandle and northern Florida counties.
Florida is the only state that has its own unique species of turkey. The Florida Turkey, well known as the Osceola Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo oseola), is found here in Florida. This beautiful, wild turkey was named by W.E.D Scott in 1890 for the famous Seminole Chief Osceola. It is estimated there are about 80,000 to 100,000 in the population.
It was skipped over for the national symbol, but Collier County chose the Osceola Turkey as the perfect symbol for the County seal on July 9, 1923 at its very first board meeting. They chose this magnificent native bird due to the abundance, its beauty and how early settlers depended on it as a food source. While it is not found on Marco Island, in can be found inland in Collier County. Look for these large birds in open fields near woodlands or in unused farm fields. The Falling Waters community, on the corner of State Road 41 and County Road 951, has had frequent sightings of turkeys trotting on their trails.
Turkeys are the largest of all game birds in the United States and have many unique characteristics and body appendages with unique names. Males, known as gobblers, generally weigh 16 to 27 pounds with the largest documented at 37 pounds.
Females, known as hens, are smaller, averaging eight to ten pounds. Wild turkeys have 5,000 to 6,000 feathers that cover their bodies in tracks. The males are always more colorful than females. Males can have multicolored feathers, and even iridescent shades are found in the Osceola. They use the colors to attract mates, show dominance and warn predators, especially when their large tail is fanned out in an almost complete circle. A juvenile male, a “jake,” will not have a complete tail circle. An adult male, a “torn,” will have the full circle of tail feathers.
The drab, mostly brown hens do not have the showy tail feathers and can easily hide in the vegetation and be camouflaged while sitting on eggs or hiding her brood. They have featherless necks and heads, as do the males.
During mating season, the males’ head color can be red, white or blue and changes instantly. Modified feathers that are tufts of filaments grow from the chest area, and on the males will grow to an average length of ten inches. This growth is referred to as the turkey’s beard. 10 to 20 percent of the females have beards, but much shorter – typically two or three inches in length. The longest beard on a male recorded was 18 inches.
Nubs found on all newly hatched turkeys are found on the legs but in a few weeks they disappear on the hens and continue to grow on the gobblers’ stout and strong legs. These spurs are used for fighting and dominance display. Both sexes also have carbuncles and snoods. A carbuncle is a fleshy growth on top of their head. The snood gets long enough to hang over the side of the bill. The gobblers’ snood gets quite long, and it can be inflated and flexed.
Florida has the perfect and plentiful habitat for Osceola turkeys. They need open, well vegetated areas to feed during the day and forests with trees to roost at night. This varied habitat is essential to provide food and cover for their survival. They are found in the piney flatwoods, oak and palmetto forests and in and near cypress swamps. They feed on seeds, grasses, insects and small vertebrates found in the fields.
Courtship, mating and nesting occurs as early as January and completed by May. The female will nest on the ground, in vegetative cover, using a shallow dirt depression as a nest. 10 to 12 eggs will be deposited over two weeks, typically one egg a day. The female will incubate the eggs for approximately 28 days, turning them all the while and making sounds to them. Within 24 hours of hatching, the hen will “imprint” the newly hatched turkey, called a poult. This imprinting is vitally important for survival to her brood (group of poults). The poult must recognize the different calls and sounds of the hen for safety. Only half the poults will survive to adulthood due to the many predators sharing their habitat. Rats, snakes, raccoons, foxes, owls and hawks are all hunters of both the eggs and young poults. A call or gobble from the hen can lead the poults to cover as they grow and mature in the open fields and woods.
Enjoy your leftovers and turkey sandwiches! Maybe pack them up for a picnic and take a hike – you may come across a magnificent Osceola Turkey!
For more information on local locations to see wildlife, or interest in volunteering, please contact Nancy Richie, Environmental Specialist, City of Marco Island, at 239-389-5003 or email@example.com
Body, Mind And Spirit
Standing before a dozen eager German faces who were ready to take a yoga class with the visiting “American Yoga Instructor,” I was humbled.
I was informed that most of them would know English to varying degrees and took note to speak slowly and clearly. Yoga has its own language (thankfully!). I began then to wonder about the language barrier and the ease (or not) in which this class would be for them as students, and for me, as a teacher.
The day before I was scheduled to teach, I took a class as a student in a German only class. It was ironic how the lovely teacher’s opening sequence was so similar to the one I had just put together to begin my class the next day! Her flow of the asanas (poses) were closely in tune with my usual flow. Her style was very approachable and I began to emulate her series, slightly frustrated at not being able to understand the verbal cues she was giving. She was gentle and soft spoken, and I fell into the groove of her class, her students and the energy in the room. Any irritation of the language barrier melted away to the sweet sound of her voice and grace.
Yoga connects our breath to our bodies. Yoga is a universal language because breathing is a universal experience to all beings. These were my thoughts the following day as I stood before the expectant and smiling students, whom I figured knew some English, but wondered just how much. So, all I needed to do was breathe and move. I had learned this before with two lovely students from Latvia who knew little English a few months ago, back on Marco Island.
It was an amazing experience, seeming familiar and rather reciprocal in nature, when looking back on my “German only” class the day before, and their “English only” class they were now experiencing. We assimilated the yogic aura in the room, open and full of peace as we went through the flow of the asana and simply breathed together. Yoga does have its own sacred and very pure language, and it is indeed universal as I have said before – beyond words.
There was a big sense of lightness as they filtered out of the studio and little exchanges were heard; little nods and smiles. The owner of the studio space, the lead teacher, and I ambled to the front door with my good friend Joerg interpreting for us since the owner himself knew very little English. In the spirit of fun we posed in front of the building and then decided to make a crazy free spirited pose because we felt that light and happy! It was wonderful to share the same spirit, allowing us to be open, free and full of laughter… another universal language.
Dianne Saywell works full time at a local dental office where she educates and helps maintain the oral health of the patients as a dental hygienist. She also spends her time introducing people to and sharing the healing power of YOGA, and the health it brings to the body, mind and spirit. Yoga, along with many other great classes, is offered at Healthy Body/Marco Fitness Club.
FOLLOW THE FISH
Capt. Pete Rapps
Every year around this time, we see some major changes to our local fishery. Around the middle of the December we typically see our first major cold front come rolling through. We have already seen a few minor cold fronts come through in November which brought the night temperatures down into the 50’s. The fronts also brought some days where the wind hit 20+ mph. Expect Gulf water temperatures to drop down into the mid 60’s later this month.
Be extremely diligent in December, and be certain to do your homework by reviewing local tides before planning your fishing trip. We have some serious low tides predicted both around the New and Full moon phases in December. On the mornings of the 1st to the 6th, and 16th to the 20th you will wonder who let all of the water out of the drink! Every December I see aggravated anglers pacing impatiently at the launch ramp while they wait hours for enough tide to come in just so they can get their boats off the trailer. If they had only looked at the tide chart, they could have slept a few hours later. I use the tide chart on www.coastalbreezenews.com or www.SaltwaterTides.com.
The near shore flats are alive with action, and if you can get out on a beautiful sunny day without much wind, you will be rewarded with sore arms! All sorts of action fish will enthusiastically take what you bring to offer. I like to start out fishing the 3-5’ grass flats on an incoming tide with a bucktail type jig. Try using jigs with a lot of flash in the tail like a Don’s Potbelly Jig. Grab a handful because the fish go crazy over them, and will most likely tear them into pieces on you. I like to throw them using 10lb line, with 2’ of 20lb fluorocarbon leader. Trout, Reds, Snook, Mackerel, Bluefish, Ladyfish, Pompano, Jacks, and just about everything in between will hit them.
The backwaters have come alive with action too. Target Snook for some great “Catch and Release” action in the mid backwater creeks and back bays. They will most likely be hiding in the deeper mangrove root pockets waiting for their next meal to swim by on the outgoing tide. Try a Gulp Shrimp, live shrimp, or better yet some live Pilchards!
Sheepshead and Mangrove Snapper will become a regular catch on the hard oyster bottoms and deep mangrove root pockets in the Gulf side mouths of the many rivers in the 10,000 Islands. They both can be had with just a live shrimp and a little finesse.
Need some lessons? Book a charter and we’ll show you how it’s done!About The Author Captain Rapps’ Charters & Guides offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the 10,000 Islands of the Everglades National Park. Capt. Rapps’ top notch fleet accommodates men, women, & children of all ages, experienced or not, and those with special needs. Between their vast knowledge & experience of the area, and easy going demeanors, you are guaranteed to have a great day. Book your charter 24/7 using the online booking calendar, and see Capt. Rapps’ first class web site for Booking info, Videos, Recipes, Seasonings, and more at www.CaptainRapps.com Note: There is an email link embedded within this post, please visit this post to email it.
“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old; you grow old when you stop laughing.” – George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950
Question: What is the difference between Medicare and Long Term Care (LTC) Coverage?
Answer: Mistakenly, many people believe that Medicare, the federal health insurance program for older Americans, will pay for all LTC needs. The truth is that Medicare does not cover custodial care, which is usually the kind of care older Americans need. Medicare only provides limited coverage for skilled nursing care or physical therapy.
The most common and preferred type of LTC is provided in the home although ongoing services and support needed by those with chronic health conditions or disabilities can be provided in other settings, such as assisted living facilities and adult day care centers. The nursing homes of yesteryear are far less prevalent today. Here are descriptions of the three levels of long-term care:
Skilled care: Generally round-the-clock care given by professional health care providers such as nurses, therapists, or aides under a doctor’s supervision.
Intermediate care: Also provided by professional health care providers but on a less frequent basis than skilled care.
Custodial care: Personal care and assistance with “activities of daily living” such as bathing, eating and dressing which is often given by family caregivers, nurses’ aides, or home health workers.
Planning for the possibility of needing LTC is an important puzzle piece for your comprehensive financial plan for two reasons:
1) The odds of needing long-term care are high:
Approximately 40% of people will need LTC at some point during their lifetimes after reaching age 65. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 14% of people age 71 and older have Alzheimer’s disease, a disorder that often leads to the need for nursing home care. In addition, younger people may need LTC too, due to a disabling accident or illness.
2) The cost of long-term care is rising:
Currently, the average annual cost of a 1-year nursing home stay is $74,820 and in many states, the cost is much higher. In the future, LTC is likely to be even more expensive. If costs rise at just 3% a year (a conservative estimate), in 20 years, a 1-year nursing home stay will cost approximately $135,133.
The Rising Cost of Long-Term Care
National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care information, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011.
Medicaid, which is often confused with Medicare, is the joint federal-state program that two-thirds of nursing home residents currently rely on to pay some of their long-term care expenses. However, to qualify for Medicaid, you must have limited income and assets, and although Medicaid generally covers nursing home care, it provides only limited coverage for home health care in certain states.
Pay your own way
The major advantage of using income, savings, investments, and assets (such as your home) to pay for long-term care is that you have the most control over where and how you receive care. Because the cost of long-term care is high, you may have trouble affording extended care if you need it and will certainly erode assets.
Share the load
LTC coverage protects you against a specific financial risk–in this case, the chance that LTC will cost more than you can afford. LTC coverage can help you preserve your assets and provide access to a range of care options. There are many types of coverage available today in response to the needs of our aging population. Your financial advisor can help you compare long-term coverage options and answer any questions you may have.
When working with clients we often ask the question; “Who would you like me to contact if something were to happen to you?” or, “Who should I expect to hear from if your situation changes?” Most of us have an “alpha” child, relative, or friend who would step up and take control if we couldn’t act for ourselves. This person, along with your advisor, are the people to talk with when aligning your goals and plans.
While families gather during this holiday season it may be the perfect time to discuss long-term care planning with parents and/or adult children. Understandably, many people put off planning for long-term care. It’s hard to face the fact that health problems may someday result in a loss of independence, but if you begin planning now, you’ll have more options available in the future. Stay focused and plan accordingly.
Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and subject to change at any time. Information obtained from outside sources is believed to be reliable.
“Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP(R), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S.”
Darcie Guerin, CFP®, is Associate Vice President, Investments & Branch Manager of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC 606 Bald Eagle Dr. Suite 401, Marco Island, FL 34145. She may be reached at 239-389-1041, email firstname.lastname@example.org. www.raymondjames.com/Darcie
It was an extraordinary affair. Two days of music, arts, crafts, food, ice sculptures and a park filled with holiday decorations. The above barely defines the joy had by all at the Goodland Civic Association’s Fourth Annual Holiday Bazaar.
MarGood Harbor Park was the locale for the affair held on the weekend of November 16 and 17. Nearly 60 vendors shared their creations with hundreds who passed through the park. Delicious food was available as well as fresh fruits and vegetables and flowers. Ten musicians from the area volunteered to play music throughout both days, and dozens of Goodland residents volunteered. They sold t-shirts and raffle tickets, guided parking, helped vendors set up early in the morning, volunteered for night security, used golf carts to transfer people from the event to their cars and greeted vendors.
Connie Fullmer, Noreen Seegers and myself, the Holiday Bazaar Committee, decided to make some changes from years past, and everyone loved it! The location, the date, the music and the amount of vendors went above and beyond your average arts and crafts fair. The weather even cooperated – for the most part.
The Goodland Civic Association raises money through events such as the bazaar and a number of pancake breakfasts throughout every year. The non-profit organization works within the community and establishes effective communication with local governments. Its purpose is to promote the general welfare of Goodland, promote community spirit and good will. The GCA works closely with the Goodland Scholarship Fund as well as the Goodland Arts Alliance, collaborating and creating events such as the bazaar.
The GCA couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who participated and came to the event.
Vendors offered myriad items such as marionette dolls, painted coconuts, handmade soaps and oils, crystal pendants, paintings, embellished shell work, “redneck” wine glasses, photography, jewelry of all kinds, yard signs and embellishments and much more. With close to 60 vendors the selection was “HUUGE Caroline!” (I’m sorry… I couldn’t help it!)
Local and well known musician, JRobert volunteered his time to arrange the two day set of rotating musicians which included Raiford Starke, Robert & the Bridge Trolls, Gator Nate, Tom Porter & Randy & Zia, Doctor Phernorton, Merrill and Jim Allen, JoeRey Ortiz and JRobert an Martin Houghtaling.
Food vendors included Mrs. Mac who served up a number of tasty versions of macaroni and cheese along with pulled pork and collared greens. Beach Dogs and Kirk McFee’s Dog Stand took turns serving up hot dogs to guests. Fresh fruit and vegetables were also available for purchase.
The most exciting food event took place at the Marker 8.5 food tent, which served up beef, grouper and shrimp sliders… and a pretty special surprise. Owner Chef Michael Duncan, created two ice sculptures each day, using only a chainsaw and raw talent. Pretty cool, huh? (Get it?)
Beer and wine were for sale at “Chuckle’s Bar,” a stand set up in remembrance of the bar of the same name that once serviced MarGood when it was a functioning mobile home park. Many enjoyed the alcoholic beverages as they perused the park. I even enjoyed a few beers near the end of the day, thinking fondly of the time when I sat at Chuckle’s with its peanut shells on the floor, live music and Captain the parrot squawking away!
Others enjoyed the fresh squeezed lemonade and funnel cakes available. No one left hungry or thirsty, that’s for sure!
The GCA offered two raffles throughout the weekend – a 50/50 and a Grand STAYCATION package. The Staycation included a two-night/three-day stay at Marco Island Marriott Resort and Spa, a sunset cruise from Dreamlander Tours, a dinner for two at the Snook Inn and two tickets to the Marco Players. On Tuesday, November 19, the winners of the two raffles were announced at the Goodland Civic Association’s monthly meeting.
Winner of the 50/50 raffle was Christina K. according to the ticket. With her phone number attached, she was notified the following day of her big win of more than $100! The grand Staycation prize went to Mike Blasacci of Naples. The Staycation was beautifully wrapped, sitting in a sparkling red wine chiller as well as including a holiday candle and a huuuuuge peppermint stick! (Sorry, I was just at the dealership…)
Many hung their heads at the meeting when their name wasn’t called. Why wouldn’t they? It was a great package.
As the park continues to be utilized for art functions between the GCA and the GAA, the town is beginning to build a name as a community of artists, adding to the village’s small but diverse presence. Goodland is a historic fishing village, now known for its stone crabbing industry. It’s a place to have a genuine good old style Florida experience, especially on Sundays. It is a town of folks who come from different backgrounds, ethnicities, financial status and talents of all kinds. Everyone gets along (for the most part, of course), and everyone accepts one another just the way they are. This includes their artful talents of every kind. The Holiday Bazaar was fun, fabulous, funny at times and all for a good cause. It was truly an affair to remember!
About The Author Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for five years and has worked in Goodland for over eight years. She was crowned Buzzard Queen at Stan’s Mullet Festival in 2009 and is a founding member of the Goodland Arts Alliance. Natalie is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Editor of the Coastal Breeze.
Note: There is an email link embedded within this post, please visit this post to email it.
As I stack more years in the back of the cart than the front, so do many of my friends. Our knees and hips creak, our ankles swell, and our necks and shoulders stiffen… and let’s not forget the vague memories of sleeping through the night without having to get up. These challenges I take in stride, what I don’t appreciate is hearing over and again that “it’s hell getting old.” And the alternative is…?
What amuses me is that you hear this much more from people in their fifties and sixties than you do from folks in their seventies and eighties. Could this mean that getting old is annoying, but being old is a blessing?
Right now I find myself in a mood to count blessings… and one of the greatest gifts of getting old is the fun to be had embarrassing our young and dear ones. Today I take aim at my beloved nephew, Zachary.
Zachary is in his late twenties; smart, artful, funny, and successful. He is an absolute original and I’m proud to be his auntie. I have, however, a memory of Zachary’s first day at pre-school he probably wishes I wouldn’t share with my tens of thousands of readers. So of course I must.
As a toddler, Zach had a flashy sense of style. He liked wearing bright colors and mixing prints like stripes and plaids or flowers and checks; he liked Mardi Gras beads; he also liked bunching his riotously curly hair in plastic barrettes. Just having a bit of fun.
On his first day of pre-school, my sister Maureen, Zach’s mom, managed to get him into a somewhat toned-down matching outfit that befitted the role of a serious four-year old student. The one thing she couldn’t talk him out of was his favorite barrettes. Well, no battle here; she wasn’t about to traumatize her son by making him feel like a freak just because he liked plastic barrettes. She just hoped no one else would.
I was sitting with my sister that day when Zach came home – barrette less. Maureen and I exchanged worried glances but, before she could ask him one question, Zach spouted a stream of euphoria about his first day: all-the-fun-and-friends-and-cool-teacher-and-on-and-on-and-on. (Zach did, and still does, talk 90 mph.) When he finally slowed down enough for Maureen to insert a casual inquiry into the whereabouts of the hair ornaments, my solid little nephew drew them from his pockets, placed them on the table and gave her this gentle scolding, “Mo-om, why didn’t you just tell me they make these for girls?” And then added a “sheesh!” to show the exasperation that went along with raising such a silly mother before running upstairs to check on the safety of all his toys.
No trauma and no self-doubt; no insecurity and absolutely no worries. I was so impressed by him, by all that happy confidence. Admittedly, I was extremely sensitive when I was a little girl, the slightest teasing made me bawl my eyes out and, consequently, made me the perfect target for those so inclined. (I could spend hours hidden away wracked at being born a freak all because some fatheaded kid up the street called me one.) Confidence was not my strong suit.
I don’t remember when it turned around for me, but I’m pretty sure my artful side had something to do with it. I was creative and I knew it… no, I just felt it… this I loved and no one could take it away from me. By the time I hit high school I was getting some pretty praise from my art teachers… but when I didn’t, I just shrugged it off with a what-do-they-know.
Confidence is the tool I most wish every parent give their child. You may think kindness more important, but kindness is a by-product of confidence (we’ve all read about insecurities that manifest to bullying); and generosity is good, but it comes a lot easier with confidence. With a positive sense of self comes the understanding that you won’t feel any better about yourself by putting someone down; you won’t be any richer by making others poorer.
Confidence is the ladder that lets you climb to your own best potential. That’s real confidence, the good kind, Zach’s kind. Zach graduated from R.I.T. and went on to get a masters degree in packaging… he not only thinks outside the box, he is now reinventing the box – that’s confidence for you.
About The Author Tara O’Neill, a lifelong, award-winning, artist has been an area resident since 1967. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida and is currently represented by Blue Mangrove Gallery on Marco Island. Visit her at www.taraogallery.com.Note: There is an email link embedded within this post, please visit this post to email it.
SPEAKING OF TRAVEL
It’s no secret that I like to shop. My husband refers to a day filled with shopping as a “Vickie Day”. He never accompanies me on a “Vickie Day”. Although I do my share of internet shopping for difficult to find items, I prefer local “brick and mortar” shops and particularly appreciate that we have a number of goods and services available right here on Marco Island; that was one factor in choosing Marco as our home.
For this year’s column on gifts for the traveler, I decided to explore some of what the Island has to offer and found many items that would make nice gifts for family, friends, or one’s self!
I love gadgets so I started at Ace Hardware on East Elkcam Circle. Through the years, I have always found the staff at my local Ace friendly and helpful in directing me to exactly what I need. A very knowledgable salesman guided me on my gift shopping quest. The first useful gadgets we found were items to help deal with the differences in electricity and outlets encountered when traveling. They have a range of choices from single plug adaptors to full converter sets with different types of adaptors for every location in the world, as well as a stand alone transformer.
I never travel without a small flashlight and Ace has a variety of lightweight LED ones. They come in a variety of styles and colors and some are “superlights” with extra bright beams. Next to some of the flashlight options in the store is a lighted magnifying glass that would certainly come in handy when traveling.
A friend recently emailed me in a panic while traveling in Europe. A ballpoint pen had leaked all over her backpack and onto some clothing; she asked for suggestions to remove the stains. Too bad she hadn’t packed the spray stain remover that is available at Ace. A heavy duty cleaning product, it comes in a 2 oz. bottle so it can even be carried onto the plane. I think I’m going to buy some not only for traveling, but also to keep in the car. Look for it near the checkout.
I don’t think I’ve ever gone anywhere where there wasn’t some rain at some time. Even a trip to the Canary Islands in dry season saw “record breaking” (isn’t it always?) torrential rain. Ace offers full vinyl rain suits and ponchos that are lightweight but substantial. They are the kind you can use more than once, not the flimsy plastic ones that tear almost immediately after removing from the packaging.
I also found travel size tubes of sunscreen and mini Cutters bug spray that you could easily pop into a purse or back pack. Even better might be the Off clip on mosquito protectors and refills. Take along the compact size of After Bite instant relief for bug bites and you are all set for the outdoors or canals of Venice!
Ace offers a variety of travel size first aid kits and even ear buds that you can take along that are much better than those the airlines provide. Consider a gift of two way radios to communicate when traveling. I know lots of families who use them when going to Disney World or out West skiing and other people who use them abroad so they don’t have to contend with the high roaming charges involved with cell phones.
My final find at Ace was a Travel Smart garment steamer to use for freshening up clothes while traveling. The box also claims it can be used to kill dust mites and bed bugs!
I saw an ad in the Coastal Breeze for Keep In Touch which mentioned that they carry travel accessories. Keep In Touch is that cute store in the Shops of Marco that has a small post office in the back. What great treasures I found there for gift shopping. They carry a variety of Travelon products that help make travel easier.
There is a medication travel organizer in which you can organize all your pills within a smart travel case that can be slipped into purse or carryon. A jewelry roll has different sized mesh pockets to help keep jewelry organized and prevents items getting caught up in one another. The fact that it then rolls up for packing makes it compact and easy to place in the corner or side of a suitcase. A substantial zippered ladies wallet would be perfect for foreign currency which is often larger than US bills.
I have written before about RFID technology. Passports and many credit cards now come with radio frequency chips. RFID wallets and protective sleeves guard against “electronic pickpocketing”, someone using an electronic device to steal the information from these chips. Keep in Touch carries a variety of these products. There are small cash/card sleeves that easily slip into a larger wallet or security pouch, passport cases, and a money clip/wallet. No matter what style wallet one prefers, they carry it. There is an RFID billfold, trifold, and front pocket style.
My favorite RFID item, though, was the “Boarding Pouch”. If you or someone to whom you want to give a gift doesn’t have one, run and buy it. It is a pouch that fits over the neck and in which you can keep your passport or other ID, tickets, boarding passes, money, credit cards. This helps keep you “hands free” in the airport and speed your journey as you don’t have to reach into your pocket or pocket book to find all these items; they are readily available. The Boarding Pouch I found at Keep in Touch has a couple of different pockets for organization.
There also was a clear view waterproof pouch for keeping a smart phone or small camera dry in wet conditions. A foam insert allows the pouch to float on the surface should it ever be accidentally dropped into water. Another find was a “toiletry notebook”, a zippered mesh pocket with removable waterproof bags to keep cosmetic items neat and dry.
Keep in Touch also carries an extensive line of Beyond a Bag products, expandable pocket books and bags that can serve a variety of purposes. Lightweight and easy to clean, they come in various styles and colors. All of them have zippers that when opened convert the bag into something else. One pocket book which can be used as a shoulder or cross body bag can convert into a fanny pack or duffel bag. Another one unzips into a back pack; unzip it more and it is a pet carrier for use with pets up to 10” in height and 25 pounds.
Buy one of the many colorful luggage tags available at Keep in Touch and you’ll be sure to identify your bag as it goes around the carousel in baggage claim. Notebooks, journals, and playing cards are other options for gifts and the store stocks a variety of jigsaw puzzles, something you might want to consider for someone making a trip to someplace where they might be stuck inside by foul weather.
Even if you don’t travel beyond Marco Island, Keep in Touch has something for you. Surrounded by water here on Marco, the Life Hammer is an item we all should have in our cars. It is a small tool that can be used in an emergency as a seat belt cutter and to break a car window should the unthinkable happen and your car ends up in water. A great gift for anyone.
In just two stops in local stores, I found a plethora of wonderful items for travel…..more than enough to fill a wish list, Speaking of Travel column, and my suitcase!
About The Author Vickie is a former member of the Marco Island City Council and Artistic Director of the Marco Island Film Festival, and has been a volunteer for many island organizations. She is presently on the board of the Naples Mac Users Group. Prior to relocating to Marco, Vickie served as a school psychologist, Director of Special Services, and college instructor and also was a consultant to the New Jersey Department of Education.
The poinsettia (Euphorbia pilcherrima) is probably the best known holiday plant. In the past years they have hybridized this plant into many different colors, but I still believe red is the most popular. I have been asked hundreds of times how to care for them after the holidays so they will bloom next year. The price of poinsettias are so reasonable that most end up in the garbage after the holidays and new ones are bought next year. But if you’re like me, as I hate to see any plant being thrown away, here’s what you have to do to revive your plant for next year.
1. After bringing your plant home, keep it in a sunny window and water until spring as if were a house plant. It should continue to grow and flourish.
2. In the spring (May) cut the plant back to three to four inches and repot in a pot one size larger than what it is now in. Watch for new growth, and begin fertilizing with a water soluble plant food every two weeks; follow the directions on label.
3. In June, move the plant outside in a partially shaded area. Stay on your fertilizer and water schedule.
4. Summer (July and August), cut back three to four inches. This will keep plant full and not let it get leggy.
5. In late August, pinch back slightly and bring inside to a sunny window and continue water and fertilizing.
6. As of September, begin taking care again as a regular house plant care.
7. October is the most important time. To have your poinsettia bloom for Christmas, keep it in complete darkness from 5 PM to 8 AM. You can do this by keeping it in a box, basement or closet until Thanksgiving. You should see buds at this point. Place the plant in a sunny window during the day and continue to water and fertilize plant.
8. If this is all too much, throw it away and buy another one. Merry Christmas
Just in passing, the reports that poinsettias are poisonous have not been proven and are believed to be an “old wives tale.”
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera ) is native to Central and South America and has been a favorite houseplant not only around Christmas but year. Everyone’s grandmother had one and was passed down in families for years because it lives long and is fairly easy to care for. Keep in bright indirect light – out of direct sunlight which could burn plant.
The Christmas cactus is more tropical than desert so it needs a little water than if it were a desert cacti, but be careful not to overwater because most plants do not like to be overwatered. You can create humidity by placing the plant on a tray of stones which will create humidity when water is placed in the tray. This is actually a better way to water than watering from the top.
To get your cactus to rebloom in the fall, plants should be watered less and kept cool until buds appear on the tips of the plants.
In the spring and summer, plants should be watered and fertilized on a regular basis. Spring is the best time to prune when the new growth appears. Christmas cactus does well if it is kept pot-bound and in the right location will bloom several times a year.
The key to getting Christmas cactus to bloom during Christmas is bright light during the day, total darkness at night and cool temperatures with very little water. The rest of the year, treat like any other house plant. Bud drop can be a problem with Christmas cactus; this is usually caused by insufficient light or overwatering.
Christmas cactus should not be placed near any drafts – hot or cold – that goes for most plants. I have actually had my Christmas cactus to bloom every Christmas with very little care from me. It just seems to do its own thing.
This is truly a fun Holiday plant. Usually it is sold pre-planted and only needs a little water to get it started. You can watch the buds shoot and leaves grow every day. They are prized for their blooms, sometimes having four to five huge blooms on each flower stalk and are extremely easy to grow. Colors range from white to red and many combinations in between. Placing your potted bulb in a sunny warm window will help speed up development. The flowers are long lasting – lasting for weeks.
After the flowers are gone, cut the flower stalk to the top of the bulb, but leave the leaves as they act as nourishment for the bulb itself and help it get larger and multiply. Only remove leaves after they turn brown. Keep the bulb in a sunny window, watering and fertilizing it until the warm weather returns. Then, put it outside until fall.
In the fall, bring the bulb in and cut off the leaves. Put it in a cool dark place for eight weeks. Then, repot and begin to water; new growth will begin to emerge and the process starts all over. I have kept bulbs in the vegetable bin in my fridge for that eight week period and it has worked. In Florida, a lot of people grow Amaryllis outdoors because our weather is warmer, and they make a great landscape plant with a lot of color.
Rule of thumb the larger the bulb the bigger the flower.
Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla)
This plant is usually used as a small Christmas tree around the holidays – sold everywhere in clay pots. They make great little decorations, but remember, do not plant this in your landscape. It is on the invasive do not plant list. They have a bad habit of blowing over or breaking apart in wind events. Do yourself a favor, and if you decide keep it, leave it in the pot to avoid any future problems
Remember, all these holiday plants usually come wrapped in colorful foil. Just be sure when you water it is not building up in the bottom of the foil otherwise you could drown your plant.
About The Author Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, www.naplesbutterfly.comNote: There is an email link embedded within this post, please visit this post to email it.
READ MY TIPS
In the final analysis, I really wasn’t that disappointed when my good buddy did not select me to join the board as he brushed it off, telling me it was due to my lack of experience in the field. Let’s be frank; how could I be deemed an expert if I had limited knowledge in any given area. Which brings me to the salient point of the day. If you have a short shelf life in tennis and play at the 2.5, 3.0. 3.5 or 4.0 levels, please limit your advice to your tennis friends.
In the most sincere sense, what if you offer the wrong tips to your best friend? For example, your doubles partner is double-faulting too often and you tell him to hit the ball slower. Sounds reasonable, right? Recently, one of my acquaintances was struggling with her serve and she told me that her best friend suggested a much softer approach. “Quit hitting your serve so hard, it never goes in.” Ironically, she was not guilty of ripping the cover off the tennis ball. Most of her problem involved her inability to toss the ball in the correct spot. Furthermore, she literally changed her target as she chased a bad toss. In other words, she might have had a good plan; serve near the center areas in the Deuce court and then follow up with an alley angle serve in the Advantage court. But, as she prepared to serve, her toss could be so off target that she changed her earlier intention.
Solution. We had to develop a consistent and realistic toss, and then decide the proper serve. Because she was hitting too many flat serves which barely cleared the net, she made a 180 degree alteration. Now, when she comes up to the baseline to serve, (right-handed player) we eliminated the cannonball or flat serve, and we began to address the topspin or “kick” serve.
In order to achieve this lofty goal, she had to toss the ball at 11:00; once her tossing arm began to rise, she had to maneuver the toss to the left so she could impart a brushed up spin. In short order, she tossed ball after ball near the 11:00 hour and she hit each serve with tremendous spin.
Whether it is my two coaching stars, Tad Connerton or Leslie Browne, each has over 40 years of coaching experience and have observed just about every way of striking a tennis ball. So, armed with so much know-how, they are the only ones on campus who can offer the right tonic for their students. Perhaps the best quality of extremely knowledgeable teachers is that they impart a few nuggets each lesson. Whereas the young coaches who are not ready for prime time, bark out too many instructions and the student leaves the court completely confused. The art of a great coach, like Leslie and Tad, is the ability to diagnose the problem as quickly as possible, and then offers a few concrete remedies. The overzealous pro who wishes to impress their students with their vast knowledge of the game may turn their player into a robotic figure. Athletes need to be spontaneous, and this is achieved when we coin the term ‘less is more.’
In summary, I have one particular student who wants me to continually emphasize eye contact. So, every week, we spend the bulk of our hour on one major idea and occasionally dip into other elements of his tennis game. With this simple tactic, students begin to flourish because it usually is solid, practical advice and often easily implemented. So… the next time you have the urge to offer some tennis advice, bite your tongue!
Doug Browne is the Hideaway Beach Tennis Director and the new Collier County USPTA Pro of the Year. Additionally, Doug has been the International Hall of Fame Director of Tennis this past summer. Doug has been writing a tennis column for the past fifteen years and welcomes your feedback.
FOR THE LOVE OF CATS
Naomi & Karina Paape
Dear Fellow Felines:
Over the last two weeks my staff and I have shed quite a few kitty tears for an extraordinary Maine Coon cat named Kitt. Mr. Kitt spent the last five of his 21 years here after his person’s home was foreclosed on during that treacherous economic downturn.
I arrived at the shelter and established full residency five months before Kitt came along. In fact, It was my idea to make For the Love of Cats his final fur-ever home. I thought it would be kind of nice to have a pal around here to help with kitten management. Kitt, however, did not think I should be top cat, so we agreed to be distant acquaintances. Every now and then I did find him monitoring kitten play in one of our romper rooms. In recognition of this invaluable service, I agreed to let him be “cat emeritus.” Even though technically I was top cat, it seemed like everyone was drawn immediately to Kitt. Probably because he didn’t bite.
Mr. Kitt loved to be loved, and brushed, and to lie upside down in a staff member’s lap for tummy rubs. He didn’t even mind the cat carrier. The only thing he ever got grumpy about was medication time.
Befitting a feline of such refinement, For the Love of Cats’ founders, Jan and Jim Rich, hosted a memorial tribute gathering last week for the Kittster. There was a heartwarming slide show that looped continuously throughout the evening. Can you believe I wasn’t in any of them? The nerve, right?
Nonetheless, a couple of the photos made all of us teary eyed. Kitt’s charismatic personality made him a shelter favorite, the official greeter who never sat on the lap of someone he didn’t like. Suffice it to say that he sat on everyone’s lap, except mine. Throughout the memorial party, all I heard about was what a great guy Mr. Kitt had been. They even shared Kitt stories. There was no denying that, more than anything, Mr. Kitt loved to be brushed.
Anyway, I digress. We were talking about Kitt’s memorial gathering which featured a slideshow chronicling his five years here. I’d forgotten what a clown he was, loving to be dressed up as Santa, or a Leprechaun, or a proper gentleman wearing a tie. Although he never told me so, I think Mr. Kitt was a butler in his younger years. He had the most regal and elegant bearing, never a hair out of place. He was properly polite when uttering an assertive meow, his form of requesting some type of service. Jan and Jim had the presence of mind to create a “memory book” to memorialize his service at the shelter. Being the thumbless tortie that I am, however, I couldn’t actually write my memories in said book, so I dictated my memories to one of my assistants. This is my letter. If there are any typos or grammatical errors, it’s her fault:
Dear Mr. Kitt,
I know we weren’t the best of pals, but I must admit that I miss you. In subtle ways you helped me run For the Love of Cats, watching over fresh crops of kittens while I made sure my staff was doing their assigned duties properly. But you had a habit of slacking off and taking unscheduled naps in that plush bed of yours in the food corner. I was sure you were sneaking food in the middle of the night, but I could never catch you in the act.
And yes, I admit that it must have been tough losing your forever home and your first mommy and daddy. Fortunately, a nice lady found you an opening here at For the Love of Cats. When the retired veterinarian who volunteers here examined you, she found all kinds of medical problems. The most serious was your untreated diabetes so we put you on twice daily injections of insulin, and you were such an unbelievably good sport about it. If I were you I would have fought tooth and nail to dodge these indignities. But not you.
You even had your own fur-brush. Whenever a volunteer opened the drawer under the microwave, there it rested with a post-it informing all that this was, indeed, “Kitt’s brush.” You would stand expectantly waiting for your spa treatment.
And okay, I have to admit that I was jealous. How did you do it? Nobody ever waited on me hand and foot, or catered to my every whim. My jealousy was mitigated, however, when I overheard the staff talking about the neuropathy in your hind quarters. I realized then, that you were genuinely mobility impaired and that was why you had that swanky, lumbering gait and needed help getting in and out of your condo. Even the cataracts couldn’t squash your happy retirement.
You were such a role model for the constant stream of kitties that came and went. However, I think it was you who told these youngsters to stop sneaking me food because I had all kinds of food allergies. It pained me considerably to watch you get all those treats I was allergic to. Okay, so you didn’t have a weight problem. In fact, when I first met you, you were a scrawny and emaciated thing who, at six-and-a-half pounds, fell far short of the 12-15 pounds a healthy Maine Coon cat should weigh. But my staff eventually got you up to your optimum weight
Through it all, the smile never left your eyes, until the end when you told us it was time to leave us. Mr. Kitt, you were an extraordinary cat and my staff and I miss you. We will always love you.
Love, nips, pats, and kisses, Naomi
Note to my loyal readers: Don’t forget to send those Kitty Santa Claws letters.
Naomi is a 4 year old Tortie and a permanent resident at FLC. She is the shelter supervisor and takes her salary in food. She would love for you to learn more about For the Love of Cats at its website, www.floridacatrescue.com
By Mike P. Usher
At the time of this writing, the ultimate fate of Comet ISON was still in doubt. On Thanksgiving day the comet reaches its closest point to the Sun, (called perihelion by astronomers) and is less than one million miles from the solar surface. At that distance the heat is enough to melt solid iron! On the other hand, the comet is a big chunk of loosely packed ice and dust which is a pretty good insulator; it may well pull through. The odds are around 50-50.
Until recently the comet was fizzling out, a not uncommon thing for new comets making their first trip to the inner Solar System, until Thursday November 14th when the comet suddenly became visible to the naked eye. A blast of dust or water vapor emerged from the nucleus and caused the comet to jump two magnitudes in brightness. With any kind of luck the show should continue after the comet rounds the Sun.
During the first week of December the comet will be low in the sky in the morning twilight – which may make the comet hard to see without binoculars. Over the next three weeks the comet will dart quickly away to the northeast rising higher in the sky as it does so. On December 26th the comet will reach it’s closest point to Earth when it will be near Draco’s back and visible for much of the night. On January 7th it will only be a couple of degrees away from Polaris the North Star and visible all night long; although by that date it will only be seen through binoculars.
As the comet pulls away from the Sun, (if it pulls away), it will rapidly dim; on the other hand it will be approaching Earth during this point in its orbit and that will partly offset the dimming. It is likely to be visible to the naked eye throughout the month of December in a dark sky.
An interesting bit of comet trivia is that a comet’s tail always points away from the Sun, regardless of the actual motion of the comet. This is caused by the pressure of the solar wind and light. Many comets, including ISON, have two tails; one is dust, the other is ionized gas. The two materials move in slightly different directions under the Sun’s influence. Comets normally appear white to the eye, although in a camera’s time exposure photograph the dust tail is often blue. Comet ISON however, is a rather interesting green color! (But only in photographs…)
See you next time!
Mr. Usher is President of the Everglades Astronomical Society which meets the second Tuesday of the month Sept. thru June at 7PM in the Norris Center, Cambier Park, Naples.
By Patricia Huff
For the past two years, visitors to the Historic Smallwood Store and Museum have had to drive through the unsightly property owned by Florida-Georgia Grove LLC (FGG) on Mamie Street in Chokoloskee.
In August of 2012, Collier County Code Enforcement Office sent a notice of violation to FGG to clean up its property. For the past four months, the county has been going through the same process as it did just one year ago. Code Enforcement has sent an inspector out to the site on six different occasions to see if the violation is still outstanding, and on every visit they have found it “non-compliant.” Because of the property owners’ negligence, the county has had to continue driving back and forth to Chokoloskee.
This month, Code Enforcement was required to “escalate to legal” the process. According to the County Code Enforcement Department “The investigator conducted a site visit on November 15, 2013; he observed the violation remained and posted a Notice of Hearing. The case is scheduled for hearing before the Special Magistrate on December 6, 2013.”
So, this is how our tax dollars are being spent; having to inspect and re-inspect six different times and now take FGG to court because they continue to violate county laws. This is the same property owner that bulldozed the only accessible road to the Smallwood Store and Museum, an historic museum listed on the National Register.
As you may recall, it was determined by the Collier County Court in October 2011, and the Appellate Court in January 2012, that Mamie Street was a publicly designated road, as it has been for 100 years. The county attorney has recommended that the county commissioners vote to sign an agreement with Florida-Georgia Grove LLC that would require the county to “vacate” this public road, thereby giving the road to FGG (which reverses the Court’s decision). Although the settlement agreement requires FGG to provide access to the Smallwood Store, it would be a private road and thus giving them the option to relocate the road.
Why should Mamie Street not remain a public road? Should it not be the county’s responsibility (the position BCC took two years ago) to fight for the right of its citizens and its visitors to keep Mamie Street public, as deemed by its own court system? If this is a public process, a public meeting, a public hearing, and a public road, should the Board of County Commissioners’ decision to vacate not be based on what the public wishes?
A Public Hearing has been scheduled for 9 AM on Tuesday, December 10, in the County Commissioners Boardroom, 3rd Floor, Administration Building, Collier County Government Center, 3299 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, Florida. If you wish to express your opinion, please attend the meeting or contact your County Commissioner at 239-252-8097 or see website www.colliergov.net for email addresses.
By Ewout Rijk de Vries
Twenty seven years ago the TV series “The Love Boat” ended. It was this show that first introduced “cruising” to the American public. During the record nine years the show aired, people everywhere hummed the popular theme song and the show helped make the romance of cruising a dream for many.
The original ship used for the show, the Pacific Princess, was sold by Princess Cruises in 2003 and last summer – ten years later – moved to a scrapyard in Turkey. At the same time Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge christened the line’s newest ship, the Royal Princess in Southampton in England.
I had the opportunity to experience the new ship on its inaugural sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale highlighted by a brilliant fireworks display. During the cruise I talked to actor Gavin MacLeod, the famous Captain Merrill Stubbing of the Love Boat. “The show first aired on Saturday night at ten o’clock,” he recalled. “That was the TV equivalent of the ‘graveyard shift,’ and the critics were sure the show would sink like the Titanic.” Gavin looked up from his seat on deck five into the dramatic multi-deck atrium of the Royal Princess and smiled. “I could not have imagined how my life changed in these twenty seven years and being here today.” Now a born again Christian, MacLeod certainly has seen lots of changes.
The Royal Princess is the first of two sister ships being introduced. The Regal Princess will follow in 2014. The evolution of cruise ships is staggering since cruises became part of mainstream America. The Love Boat was only 13,500 tons and 561 feet long. The first Royal Princess was 44,348 tons and 755 feet long. When I sailed on her on the Amazon just before it was sold in 2005, she still offered a wonderful nautical atmosphere with beautiful polished teak decks. The historic memorabilia were all over the ship, including photos of Princess Diana who christened her in 1984. Most new ships entering the cruise market today look like luxury hotels instead of cruise ships, and they miss that nautical feel and cozy corners of the old ships.
The new Royal Princess is an exception. Despite its size with 141,000 tons, a length of 1,083 feet and 17 decks to accommodate 3,600 passengers and the overall feeling of space, one can still find cozy corner bars such as Crooner’s, Vines, or the Crown Grill located near the central atrium. There were piano players in three different areas playing classical music mixed with jazz and old-time favorites. Such atmosphere has always been the aim of Princess Cruises. There are no simulated surf pools, or zip lines. It is more traditional style cruising, although Princess was the first to introduce features now copied by other cruise lines like “adults-only” Sanctuary, Movies Under The Stars and the change from the atrium area as a check-in and service area to a bustling expanded piazza. And the line continues to come up with great innovative ideas.
The spectacular multi-story atrium is the ship’s social hub. The Pastry Shop here is the largest at sea. Alfredo, Princess’s signature pizzeria has been expanded. There are now 16 eateries, several of them brand new and including Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar, Gelato Parlor, a Fondue corner and Crab Shack in the Horizon Court buffet. Chef’s Table Lumiere is for those few who look for a unique dining experience and don’t mind forking out the $115 cover charge. Passengers sit at a custom-made glass table and are magically surrounded by a curtain of light – providing a soft wall of privacy that envelopes them as they enjoy the chef’s specially prepared meal.
However, probably the most talked about feature on the Royal Princess is another first in the industry. A glass walkway extends 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship on both sides of deck sixteen! It was a show in itself to sit at the SeaView Bar and witness the reaction of people. Some were fearful of walking on the glass floor; some walked only along the inside edge of the glass; and there where those who could not get enough from the thrill of walking on glass that high above the sea.
The Youth Center offers an outdoor sun deck especially for teens. The “Movie Under The Stars” screen is the largest in the Princess fleet. At night there is a Las Vegas Style water and light show next to the new large swimming pool and “Princess Live!” is the first television studio at sea with audience participation
The cabins on the new Royal Princess are slightly smaller than on their other ships but very well appointed and extremely comfortable. A stunning 81 percent now have balconies, albeit small ones. The Royal Princess is catering to those seeking an atmosphere of casual elegance. Because of the family and children options and separation of special kids areas and luxurious adult only areas like the Sanctuary, she is a wonderful venue for three generational family vacations. The service on board is excellent and some much more expensive cruise lines can learn something from the many buffet choices, outstanding quality and freshness. I therefore highly recommend a Caribbean cruise on the new Royal Princess, or perhaps a Scandinavia and Russia cruise next summer. At the prices for a cruise today compared with prices in the Love Boat era, cruising is a terrific value for the money. So enjoy the luxury and service on Princess’ newest Love Boat, the Royal Princess.
Lastly, we enjoyed the sense of humor of the Princess shipbuilders. Andrija Milovan is a welder who was working on the construction of the Royal Princess. In his free time he used to work with scrap material and welded the whimsical sculpture of the peacock now proudly adorning the entrance to the Allegro restaurant.
Ewout Rijk de Vries and his wife Jill have been on Marco Island for 30 years and own America Travel Arrangements, Inc. They offer full service at the same price or less than booking direct with the cruise lines. In addition to offering expert advice from personal knowledge on most cruise lines, the company operates its own small luxury safaris and soft adventure journeys all over the world. Ewout also has a background as a journalist. His photography and articles have been published in a wide array of newspapers and magazines. His other company, Ewout Rijk de Vries Photography offers wedding & commercial photography.www.americatravelarrangements.com and www.photodevries.com
Eighty members of the Marco Riders roared down the road for a charity poker run this month to benefit the Joy of Giving. The annual trek started and ended from Porky’s, providing the perfect venue. Father Tim from San Marco Catholic Church was on hand to bless the motorcycles before the ride. This Marco Riders event raised $10,000 for the Joy of Giving, 100% of which goes directly towards purchasing gifts for needy children.
By Noelle H. Lowery
Alan Sandlin loves Rick Medwedeff’s plans for the proposed $150 million renovation to the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort. The local realtor, who heads up Re/Max’s The Sandlin Team, believes the resort general manager’s project would be a coup for the Marco Island economy, especially when it comes to bringing in new residents — and buyers of real estate.
After all, Sandlin himself discovered Marco Island in 1977 thanks to a conference held at the hotel property now managed by Marriott International Inc. and owned by Mass Mutual. “I bet if you asked at least 40 percent of the people in this room found Marco Island because they visited the Marriott,” he noted after the Nov. 25 Town Hall meeting where Medwedeff presented his revised proposal to a packed house of Marco Island City Councilors and staffers, local business leaders and neighborhood residents.
According to the presentation, the project’s highlights will include:
• reconfiguring the resort’s existing seven rooms of 44,721 square feet of meeting space to 14 rooms of meeting space totaling between 75,000-80,000 square feet;
• increasing the ceiling heights in the meeting space from 10 feet to 22 feet;
• a new 83-guest room tower with rooftop guest pool;
• a new rooftop restaurant with views of the open Gulf of Mexico;
• a new 20,000-square-foot indoor recreation center designed with families in mind and featuring activities such as virtual golf and bowling, as well as indoor laser tag; and
• a new single-level parking deck which will replace the existing tennis courts and a portion of the current parking lot and will bring the total number of spaces at the Marriott to 1,400.
Medwedeff’s original presentation of the project to the Marco Island Planning Board on August 2 included a single-level parking structure that would cover the length of the Marriott’s current parking lot and stretch 12 feet high. This plan raised concerns in the immediate neighborhood so changes were made. The revision minimizes the profile of the one-tier structure to 8 feet 8 inches and places the parking structure on the property currently occupied by the resort’s tennis courts. The rest of the parking lot will remain as is. The plan also dedicates 28 covered parking spaces on the north end of the facility as neighborhood parking for Marco Island residents and upgrades to the crosswalk at Maderia for public beach access.
Medwedeff echoed his statements to the Planning Board regarding the necessity and importance of the project to the Marriott: The resort’s current meeting space is inadequate, outdated and deficient, and is causing the Marriott to lose business. “This space was built 40 years ago, and it is just not competitive today,” he told the audience at the Town Hall meeting.
To be sure, there were plenty of questions and concerns from the Marriott’s neighbors. Most of them focused on the parking structure, its proposed height, its appearance, and the expected noise issues and lighting spill-over. Others expressed concern about the status of the maintenance area, the construction process and possible increased traffic on Collier Boulevard. Medwedeff answered each question and remained after the one-hour event to speak one-on-one with residents.
In the end, he touted the significance of the project’s expected economic footprint:
• the creation of 97 new full-time equivalent jobs at the Marriott;
• the addition of 28,000 room nights for the hotel each year;
• the addition of $46 million to the hotel’s already established $152 million annual economic impact;
• an increase of $500,000 in annual bed tax collections by Collier County; and
• an increase in annual property taxes for Marco Island of $400,000.
The best part: Most of the new business will be generated in the island’s summertime off-season.
By Noelle H. Lowery
Florida State Senator Garrett Richter (R) and Marco Island Police Chief Don Hunter go way back. At a recent Lunch with the Chief event sponsored by the Marco Island Police Foundation at Hideaway Beach Club, Richter told the story of how the two men met.
“It was almost 26 years ago,” he explained. “A gentleman knocked on my door. It was August in Naples, and we had just moved to Naples from Pittsburgh. I opened the door… This man put his hand out and said, ‘my name is Don Hunter and I am running for Sheriff’.”
Richter also regaled the luncheon audience with a true tale of gambling in the state of Florida. The gaming industry tops Richter’s list of priorities for the upcoming Florida Legislative session convening March 4, 2014. The chair of the Senate Gambling Committee, he discussed the possible creation of a state-regulated Gaming Commission.
To be sure, gaming in Florida is a hot topic right now for three reasons.
First — between the Indian-owned casinos, the Florida Lottery, “racinos,” dog tracks and jai alai frontons located throughout the state — gaming is big business in Florida. In fact, casino gambling alone rakes in $2.4 billion in estimated annual revenue.
Second, because of gambling’s economic prowess, many are interested in expanding its reach in Florida. Several Las Vegas casino big wigs have expressed interest in building a casino resort in South Florida. To this end, the Florida Legislature commissioned a $400,000 study to evaluate the economic and social ramifications of growing the gambling industry in the Sunshine State. New Jersey-based Spectrum Gaming Group presented its findings to Richter’s committee in October, and five public workshops were held around the state to discuss the results. A copy of the gaming study can be accessed at the Senate-sponsored web site http://www.flsenate.gov/topics/gaming.
Finally, there is the state’s five-year, revenue-sharing gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. While it provides the tribe with exclusivity on banked card games like black jack and baccarat, it also requires the Seminole to pay the state $1 billion over the five-year term. The agreement is set to expire in July 2015.
It has been a lucrative deal for both parties. The Seminole own six of Florida’s seven casinos, including those under the Hard Rock moniker. During its last fiscal year which ended July 30, 2013, these casinos produced $1.98 billion in revenue. According to state economists, those revenues will grow 3.5 percent this fiscal year to $2.05 billion. For the state of Florida, the agreement brings in a minimum of $233 million each year from the Seminole Tribe, and thanks to its recent banner year, the Tribe put an additional $4.2 million into the state’s coffers.
Richter described the agreement like this: “If you don’t think exclusivity is a good deal, I learned the other day that the most profitable casino in the world is the Hard Rock Cafe in Tampa. Exclusivity is a really good thing as long as you have got it.” If the Seminole Tribe and the state do not renew their agreement for another five years, though, both sides lose. The state loses its guaranteed $1 billion in revenue payments, and the Seminole Tribe loses its monopoly.
According to Richter, these three components may push the creation of a Gaming Commission to regulate a multi-billion industry currently policed by a licensing bureaucracy headed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Richter told the Lunch with the Chief audience that more needs to be done.
“We have to go through the statutes as they are now and identify the ambiguities and inconsistencies because it has been a patchwork of legislation that has just been created or developed over the years that needs to clarified,” said Richter. “I think we need to establish a framework for a Gaming Commission if in fact the state is going to expand gaming. One thing became clear out of the study, and that is we are in fact a gaming state.”
By Natalie Strom
It was at low tide on Tigertail Lagoon when a manatee was spotted stranded in the sand. As the seasons change, tides begin to move in and out faster, and it appeared that this manatee didn’t make it to deep enough waters quite on time.
The manatee was spotted on November 12 by beach goers who contacted the Marco Island Police Department non-emergency phone number (239-389-5050). In turn, Marco’s Environmental Specialist, Nancy Richie, was notified and contacted FWC as well. “It was a successful rescue,” stated Richie, giving much of the credit to Peter Larsen, a new resident to Marco, who stayed with the manatee the entire time. “He kept it wet and assisted me in the pectoral fin positioning. He was a great help and an integral part of this rescue!”
Lee Gunderson, a Volunteer Beach Steward and Collier County Tigertail Beach Park staff also volunteered his time to assist in the rescue.
Gunderson, Larsen and Richie worked with FWC Law Enforcement, Collier County Sheriff, Marco Island Police Department and about a dozen helpful beach goers to keep the manatee comfortable. It was kept nice and wet by lightly spraying it down with water and covering it with a wet towel. The group then waited for the tide to rise.
And it did. Slowly the waters in Tigertail Lagoon near Sand Dollar Split began to surround the manatee, lifting it back out to sea. All involved were excited to see their hard work pay off and to bid farewell to their big brave friend.
If you should ever come across any marine mammal or sea turtle sick, disorientated, stranded or dead, please do not hesitate to call the MIPD number at 239-389-5050 or 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC). This will start the necessary cascade of contacts to the appropriate agencies.
After making the call, Richie recommends to do the following: do not crowd the animal or touch it; stay out of its line of sight (if it is crowded or you are “in its face,” its anxiety level rises, causing respiration to rise and stress); keep as quiet as possible; If you have t-shirt or towel, soak it and lay it gently on its back and wait for help to arrive. Do not pull or try to move the animal, and stay clear of the tails, fins and mouth areas.
By Noelle H. Lowery
Ken Honecker’s work as a City Councilor for Marco Island — and now Chairman of the City Council — has been a happy accident. He never intended to get involved in politics.
“I started going to council meetings (as a resident) because (back then) it was the best comedy show on the island,” remembers Honecker. “It was better than Off the Hook… Back then, they would yell and scream. It was like British Parliament.”
But, he notes, “I never said a word. I just sat there and watched.” That is, until City Council started talking about the installation of experimental lift stations for the sewer system: “I said ‘uh-oh.’ That is when I started speaking up a little more.”
A few committee seats and an election later, Honecker is a fixture in Marco Island‘s political scene. He was honored when the other six city councilors unanimously selected him council chairman, but he is quick to add that this does not make him special. “It is a ceremonial position,” he says. “I don’t consider it a power thing. It is a little more work cutting ribbons and stuff, but you are not a special power.”
Even so, he and the other city councilors have a full plate of issues to deal with as he takes the chairman’s seat on the dais. Chief among them are utility rates, the search for a new city manager, the possible renovation of Marco Island Fire Rescue Department’s Station 50, the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort’s proposed expansion project and the fate of the Smokehouse Bay Bridge and Mackle Park Community Center. Coastal Breeze News sat down with Chairman Honecker to get his perspective on these issues and what’s to come for Marco Island.
Q: What is your biggest concern right now?
A: We’ve got to get our city manager in here. There is a sense of a vacuum of leadership since Dr. Riviere resigned, and this long time to fill the slot has been a little detrimental to morale at city hall. That is why I am hoping on December 2 that we will be getting some candidates with the professional management experience to get these departments running again. This is critical.
Q: What are you looking for in a city manager?
A: I am looking for a guy that is not here to build an empire — someone who is perhaps on the back end of his career looking to get to a nice place with sunshine and to kick back a little bit, to run things very efficiently with a lean budget and almost to be in a position to mentor another candidate towards the end of his career. I want him to bring a person or two under his wing so we can have a transition moving forward.
Q: Where do you stand on the issue of Smokehouse Bay Bridge?
A: The bridge is a piece of junk. It is falling apart. It has to be fixed. This gets back into the prioritization of the prior councils. We spend $30 million fixing Collier Boulevard, but we don’t address the bridges. I would have said let’s fix our bridges first and then we can put the sugar coating on it and make it look all pretty. We kind of did it backwards.
That bridge is a key route on the island and it needs to be taken care of… I am cautiously optimistic that (Tim Pinter) is going to come back with a scaled back design, and I think it is going to come back to more of the originally budgeted number. I think we can handle that nut… We have plenty of cash lying around on the city side of the ledger. When it comes to big projects like this, it is a 50-year asset. Why should someone living here for the next two or three years pay sky-high taxes to pay cash for a bridge that benefits people for the next 50 years? So, I look at it like maybe we want to borrow a little bit of cheap money right now and supplement it with our cash to take care of a big project like that.
Q: What about the Mackle Park Community Center?
A: That has disappointed me in the sense that we got the price down, and I thought for sure when I got it that low I’d get a lot more buy-in from the public. For the most part, though, even people that support it, still want it to go to referendum. I didn’t think that would happen. I have no problem putting it to referendum. I don’t think the price is still going to be $2 million. I think it will be more once we get updated pricing at the beginning of the year, and I hope we were not pennywise and dollar-foolish to get a free referendum in August if the price goes up because we were behind the eight-ball. I don’t consider it a life and safety problem like the bridge, and I think we can make the finances work.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Station 50 renovation project?
A: It started out, as I recall, as spending $100,000 to do a $1 million rehab to take care of the problems. How that morphed into a $3 million, new addition, extra space, fire house concerns me. That is why at the last meeting I was trying to think outside of the box and said let’s do what we can to fix the shell and the other stuff and do the other things down the line… In my mind, why build staffing facilities and bunk houses for extra fire fighters we don’t have at the moment. I’ve been in the building. It is a mess, and it is not a maintenance issue. It was used as a city hall. It was the police station. It was just a hodgepodge mess over the years so there is a legitimate problem there.
Q: What do you think of the Marriott’s proposal for expansion?
A: They made a deal with their neighbors about the parking across the street. If they can make those guys happy with what they are doing there whether it be a two-story, no two-story or a different type of two-story parking, I am okay as long as they are happy with that. As far as the beach side goes, what I saw from that first presentation, it didn’t seem like there was a lot they were doing – it seemed more like a reconfiguration, and if that is the way they are going, I don’t think I have a problem with that. Again, though, the devil’s in the details. There is a lot of vapor. I want to see the actual way it is submitted.
Five Fast Facts About Ken Honecker
• He is originally from New Jersey, where his family ran Fairfield Refrigeration. The company sold, installed and serviced commercial refrigerated cases and walk-ins to super markets and big box retailers.
• His parents, Ken and Dorothy, were the greatest influences in his life. His father’s family immigrated from German and his mother’s family from Yugoslavia and Ukraine, coming to the United States through Ellis Island.
• He and his wife, Diane, have been permanent residence of Marco Island since 2002.
• They have been married 19 years, and have a new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Alexis.
• The three words he thinks best describe Marco Island are paradise, laid back and good people.
By Diane Bostick
There is a hidden gem on Marco Island. It is passed by many daily, but is simply hidden in the fact that it is overlooked. It is the Marco Island Cemetery. For the past two months I have taken pictures of every grave at the cemetery for a special project and what an enlightening and touching experience it has been.
I imagine that you are much like me and walk through a cemetery only taking in what is obvious at first glance. Taking the pictures and indexing them forced me to stop and read what was on each gravestone. Some of the graves call out to you quickly when you see the balloons, the teddy bears, the angels and the touching mementoes of a child gone too soon. They speak of a family’s broken heart at the loss of their young child. But what of the gravestone that says, “He was my knight in shining armor?” Or the one that says, “Lovers Forever Dancing?” What a heart-breaking story there must be to tell of the one that says, “POW 1272 Days CPL US Army World War II.” How did that person exist in those circumstances and how did the family cope with not knowing what had happened to him? How proud must the family of the woman have been who will forever be known at her graveside as “A Woman Of Valor?” In addition, what more could a man ask than to be remembered as “Deeply Loved Husband, Father, Brother And Son. A Man Of Courage, Dedication And Integrity.” What a sad, sad time it must have been when three of the sons of W.D. (Capt.) and M.E. Collier were drowned in a sinking sailboat in 1898 at the ages of four, six, and eight.
Not all in the cemetery is sad, though. There is humor to be found if you look closely. Jack Hare’s gravestone reads, “Hic Iacet Lepus.” That fascinated me so much that I looked on the Internet to see what it meant. Translated, it means “Here lies the hare.” And Lorreta Jean Skibbe’s grave says, “Poet Laureate” with her date of birth as 1927 and her date of death as “Immortal.” I certainly could not leave that one alone. Further on she has written her own epitaph- a poem, of course. It reads, “I fear my epitaph will read/ Neat and clean was her finest deed/Or another that would tell/ Here she lies/She dusted well.”
Some of the graves have been marked with glorious marble headstones. And some are merely the remnants of something obviously homemade by a loving family. The fancy ones have their message written by someone who is a master with a chisel and a slab of stone. Others, one can imagine, have had their equally important message written with a stick before the hand poured cement had a chance to dry.
William H. Cook Jr.’s grave is a fairly elaborate one and anyone viewing it might assume he came from a wealthy family. Not so. His father was a ship’s carpenter who lovingly framed out a form and poured the cement to make this tribute to his son who had been in the Signal Corps in World War II. My photo shows that it had grown rather tattered and covered with moss. Eric Hall, the caretaker of the grounds of the Marco Island Cemetery recently made it look brand new with a coat of paint. (If you happen to find Eric at work one day see if you can interrupt him for a few minutes as he is an interesting young man to talk to. He gives our loved ones as much tender care as he did for others buried in larger cemeteries containing thousands of burials where he previously worked.)
The cemetery’s upkeep is the responsibility of the neighboring church. When Marco Island was being developed by Mackle Brothers, land was set aside for all the churches to come to the island. The church agreeing to take over the care of the then somewhat forgotten and bedraggled cemetery was given a larger piece of property in exchange for taking on this responsibility. In the past, that was the Church of God, but now it is overseen by the New Life Community Church. What was once a tiny pioneer graveyard has now become a cemetery with many graves and room has been set-aside for many more in the future as the island continues to grow.
There are several areas that are highlights of the grounds. The Christmas Box Angel was added in the late 1990’s as a tribute to the young children buried here. Each year, in early December, a special ceremony is held and white flowers are placed at the Angel’s feet and in her arms to commemorate the purity of these lost children. Under the Angel the ground is covered with bricks bearing messages telling of the families and friends who still mourn.
Next to the Angel stands a beautiful memorial statue to our veterans who fought and died for their country. Tucked back in the corner is a very old, tiny church, which has been renovated to its original condition after many, many years of use before it was moved from its previous location next door to where Marek’s Restaurant now stands. My husband remembers sitting next to his grandmother swinging his bare feet while listening to the Sunday sermon. It is still used now and then for special occasions such as small weddings.
If you go to the cemetery and pay attention you will find many other things to look at, read and be touched by. I did not even begin to bring together all the historical family ties that exist there. While doing this project, my husband, who spent his youth on Marco and has many of his own family members still here, often explained one family’s connection to another family buried in another part of the cemetery. Marco Island as it is today may be fairly new, but its cemetery is steeped in over 130 years of fascinating history.
So what got me involved in this enormous photographic project? When my son died in 1989 I discovered a website on the internet called “Findagrave.com” that allowed anyone wanting to do so to upload a picture of a grave site along with information about the person buried there. Its purpose was to make it possible for those who could not come see the grave in person to be able to view it there. This site has over 107 million memorials on it from cemeteries all over the world with pictures included in most of them.
Volunteers have taken photos for this website just because they wanted to. Nobody is paid to do so. If you have a relative, friend or acquaintance that would like to see what someone’s gravesite looks like they have only to go online to find it. If it is not already there they can make a request that one of the volunteers take a picture of it for them. When my son died I added a photo of his marker to this site and have since taken pictures for others who have requested it. From that first photo it bloomed to my current list of over 1,500 pictures taken and put on this site. I have made copies of all of these pictures and created an index to give to various groups such as the Church that oversees the care of the cemetery, the Marco Island Historical Society, the Florida Cemeteries Project, and a few local people such as Craig Woodward who have shown an interest in the history of the area.