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Yuletide Shakespeare

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:56am


Celebrate the Christmas season with students from The Marco Island Academy who will conclude their acting workshop with The Marco Island Shakespeare Festival by performing a showcase of works from some of Shakespeare’s most renowned plays. Yuletide Shakespeare will feature scenes from As You Like It, Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and The Tempest. Joined by caroling singers and holiday cheer, this will be an event the entire family is sure to enjoy!

The Yuletide Shakespeare showcase concludes an eight-week acting workshop that was taught by Kaitlynn McRae, Director of Operations at the Marco Island Shakespeare Festival. The students will become your favorite characters including the grieving Prince Hamlet (Josiah Hurtley), the ambitious Macbeth (Dylan Rogers), the ruthless King Richard III (Zachary Pachol), the innocent Juliet (Jessica Lang), the cynical Jacques and wizened Prospero (Erik Olson).

“Yuletide Shakespeare” is on stage December 20 at The Marco Players Theater, located in the Marco Town Center Mall, 1089 N. Collier Blvd., # 432, Marco Island, FL. The Saturday show begins at 7pm.

Tickets ($20 – adults; $10 – students) may be purchased at or by calling the box office 239-642-7270.


How to Impress a Woman…Especially This Holiday Season

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:54am

Richard Alan

Yes, diamonds… In my forty –five plus years in this trade I have only met two women who disliked diamonds, (one happens to be my wife!) a very small percentage indeed! Make her holiday very special with a gift that will dazzle her every day.

It’s that time of the year again and the island is buzzing with gift seekers of all ages. As expected my “Endless” line of luxurious leather bracelets and charms is off to a great start, and at $69 for a double bracelet and a charm that’s a good deal for a quality holiday gift.

The first ladies to see them were so impressed that they bought two, one they intended to give as a gift for a loved one and one for themselves!

So, besides the new endless line what’s hot this gift giving season? Speaking from my perspective,

I have been practically living in my workshop since Halloween, it seems like I see myself leaving when I come to the shop in the morning! My son and I have been straight out keeping up with demand for our special unique pieces we are renowned for, namely the gold & sterling Marco Bracelets, and our selection of gold & sterling Marco Angels are literally flying out of the shop this year. This includes the famous Marco Cat that we create in precious metals and in various sizes.

The most noticeable is the demand for nice quality and sizable diamond stud earrings. This is good news for the jewelry biz because in the past few years, really nice quality diamond jewelry sort of took a back seat so to speak, during the holidays. Now I am selling beautiful diamond studs and tennis bracelets, instead of explaining I don’t carry cheap low quality promotional bracelets or earrings.

Guys you have to be careful and don’t be duped by full page newspaper ads that claim super savings on bracelets or earrings. All you end up with is low quality junk diamond jewelry, and even worse a lady who would not be caught dead wearing them.

I already see ads spouting “two carat diamond earrings for $4,000”or less! Hmm?

Let’s break this down… shall we? Simple math tells me that each one carat diamond will cost you less than $2,000 each, not including the gold earrings to hold the diamonds. Any jeweler in the world will tell you that a one carat diamond that retails for $2,000 will be pretty much bottom of the barrel, absolute horrid color, and heavily flawed. The reason for this is any jeweler who calls himself a professional will not even carry this quality in his or her store. A nice quality one carat white diamond with minimal inclusions (eye clean) on either coast will most likely run you $7,500 a matched pair. Now mind you this is not gem quality, but I will be proud to sell this quality all day, but $7,500!!! To you, Ouch!

Now here is where it get interesting, clarity enhanced diamonds are a great alternative because of the miracle like process that improves the brilliance of the before included diamond, you save over 30% in costs. $5,000 – $6,000 Now those two carat diamond stud earrings for Milady are not so far out of reach.

To me it is a no brainer, for close to the same money for the small bad and ugly, you have a choice of two matched bright white clarity enhanced diamonds that are happier sparkling diamonds.

Got any questions? Come in I will be happy to show and explain the process in detail.

Three words… Sea life jewelry, this is a staple in every price range in my shop here on Marco Island every year, month or day it is always popular for locals and tourists alike, in gleaming gold or silver and two metal combinations in pendants or charms. The pieces represent our abundant wildlife, dolphins, turtles, manatees, even fish and fowl such as owls, eagles and even pelicans… you name the bird I probably have created a pendant!

Here in South West Florida we are so blessed with so much natural beauty, and folks have been collecting and showing off our precious metal creations for over twenty years now.

For him I have a new line on high quality money clips called M-Clips, they come in stainless steel or aluminum. Some can be engraved to make the gift really special, there are lots of carbon fiber and enamel designs and one is the actual surface of a golf ball and my favorite…Old Glory, the American flag.

Shop smart and shop local… Have a joyful holiday season, Happy Hanukah and a Merry Christmas to all!

Wine her, Dine her, Call her, Hug her, Support her, Hold her, Surprise her, Compliment her, Smile at her, Listen to her, Laugh with her, Cry with her, Romance her, Believe in her, Cuddle her, Shop with her, Lavish her with diamonds…

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith located @The Island Plaza Next to Beall’s on Marco Island. 239-394-9275


Decorate Your Life

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:52am

Body, Mind And Spirit
Laurie Kasperbauer

Happy Holidays from paradise…SUBMITTED PHOTO

“…..I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look….To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” — Thoreau, Walden


My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Iowa for Thanksgiving. We flew into the deep-freeze of the Midwest where Mother Nature greeted us with a few inches of fresh snow on our second day. Just enough white stuff to set the backdrop for a Currier and Ives Holiday postcard. While we were on our trip, the colorful lights of the season began to bloom; Christmas trees were erected, and yard ornaments were pulled from attics and boldly displayed. Ahhh, the decorations!

Flying home to Florida, as our plane began its descent, Christmas lights could be seen from the air. Bright splashes of color against the black canvas of night, bordered by the lines of streetlights in their neighborhood grids. And once on the ground, we drove past beautifully lit palm trees. Their magnificent trunks wrapped in light with clear bulbs fanning out on the umbrella of fronds at the top. I am fascinated at the beauty of a lit palm tree and completely intrigued at the time and skill it must take to assemble the lights in such a way.

The wonder of the holiday season always gets me thinking. Let’s get the tree up and decorated, and then I need to shop for gifts and wrap them with care so they look really appealing and special. I should start baking some treats and stock the freezer; create my greeting cards and get them in the mail. Maybe I should buy a new outfit for holiday gatherings. Maybe I should lose a few pounds first. Perhaps pigs will fly.

I know I’m not alone in my lofty expectations. Most of us are very driven during the holidays to create something special. We decorate our homes, inside and out, to be more lovely to look at. We pride ourselves on finding just the right gift and packaging it for greater allure. We create this beautiful illusion around us to “get into the spirit,” and I, for one, am grateful.

The holidays unify us. Neighbors and strangers and family and friends — each with our own beliefs and our individual tastes — come together and celebrate. We may not all be celebrating the same thing, but we are all welcome to partake of the beauty and the festive atmosphere.

So, if in the words of Thoreau man has the “unquestionable ability to elevate his life through conscious endeavor,” are we actually doing it? I mean, each day of our lives are we mindfully decorating our lives and creating a lovely canvas to reflect upon or display for others? Are we “affecting the quality of our day” through our actions and our words? Are we absorbing the beauty of the season and carrying it with us throughout the entire year?

Holiday lights, stored tangled in boxes. Recipes of fruit cake pushed to the back of the book. Your best table linens folded gently in a drawer. Your highest self. Your best side. Generosity. Forgiveness. Tucked away, they lay in wait until, and with conscious endeavor, we chose to bring them to light and share them. In doing so, we affect the quality of our day, and quite possibly, the quality of someone else’s day as well.


Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.

Florida Panthers: Their Right of Passage

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:50am

Stepping Stones
Bob McConville
Master Naturalist

Florida Panther. SUBMITTED PHOTO

As I watched the morning news over the Thanksgiving holiday, I learned that yet another Florida panther died on Collier Boulevard from injuries sustained by a motor vehicle. It was the 20th such death this year. The broadcast continued by stating that there are now less than 160 panthers remaining in southern Florida. Other sources place that number at less than 100. In a time when we were giving thanks for family, friends and the good things that surround us, my heart was deeply saddened.

Panther, mountain lion, puma and cougar are all names for the same species of wild cats known as Puma Concolor, and the range of these mammals included almost all of North America as well as South America in earlier times. Here in the U.S., they roamed freely and were a necessary link in the food chain. They played a role as one of the apex predators in the eastern United States until modern man arrived. During the 1800s and early 1900s, they were hunted to near extinction as their habitat disappeared and they posed a threat to livestock. They now occupy about 5 percent of their historic range.

What is now known as the Florida panther used to range all along the gulf coast and as far west as Arkansas. Today, this is the only subspecies left of Puma Concolor in eastern United States. They can be found in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress Preserve.

They are indeed, very beautiful. Their beige fur and white-to-gray chest and stomach make them easy to recognize. Black markings adorn the tip of the tail, the ears and around the nose. Males are usually bigger than females. An adult male can measure 6 feet long, and can weigh in the 150 pound range while female are smaller.

The adult female will produce 2-6 young about every two years. The young are usually born in a densely vegetated area to provide cover from other predators. They are very dark at birth with even darker spots to help keep them well hidden. Kittens are known to stay with their mothers for 12-18 months. Mom is a great teacher, and the young learn all of their hunting skills and techniques during this time. Sexual maturity takes place around two years of age, and life expectancy in the wild is 10-12 years.

Very young panthers are often confused with young bobcats because of the similar colorings at that age. The panther has a full tail while the bobcat’s is much shorter.

The southern Florida habitat diversity is ideal for panthers. They can be found in cypress swamps, mangrove swamps, marshes, upland forests and palmetto strands. Panthers are territorial and very solitary in their lifestyle. A male will control an area of about 200 square miles while a female hunts in an area of about 75 square miles. The abundance of prey and the quality of the habitat seem to determine the range a female will occupy.

The primary source of food for the panther used to be white-tailed deer, wild hogs, many smaller mammals, and they will also stalk birds. I’ll say again, this used to be their primary food source. Due to the development of industry, farms and cattle ranches south of Lake Okeechobee, their food source has changed. The natural flow of water across the land from the lake has been modified. Wildlife that used to be plentiful is now hard to find. Diets are changing.

I met with a ranch owner in Immokalee a few weeks ago who told me that 13 percent of his young calves are lost each year to panthers. Adult females are teaching their young to hunt not deer but calves. I am sad for the losses experienced by ranchers, but sad with a caveat.

It was mankind that changed the living conditions of Puma Concolor nationwide. It was mankind that decided to settle south of Lake Okeechobee, to adjust the landscape and take away what nature had developed over a 5,000-year period. It is not the panther’s fault that its lifestyle and food supply, have been interrupted for the sake of human expansion.

It is the panthers’ right of passage to have its habitat retained, even redeveloped. We are the intruders, not them.

As sad as I am for the 13 percent loss of calves, it may be the necessary catalyst to begin anew — the stepping stone needed to prompt additional action to rebuild our panthers’ home before it is gone. Canals were dug and lands were cleared to provide grazing fields for livestock. The landscape was changed forever, and the panther was forced to adjust. Maybe a few calves is a fair price to pay.

East Naples is expanding, and more than 5,000 new homes are going to be built in the not so distant future. More land will be cleared, and again, the panther will need to adjust. When these new residents see a panther in their backyard they shouldn’t say “I’m afraid.” They should, instead, say “I’m sorry.”

My heart was saddened by the recent death of one more panther. Too soon it may be one too many.


Bob is the owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours and a naturalist on board The Dolphin Explorer. Here is a proud member of Leadership Marco 2014 and Bob loves his wife very much!

Picasso/Dali Dali/Picasso

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:47am

Vickie Kelber

Picasso Femme Dans un Fauteuil Rouge – (1929) © 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso/ ARS, NY / The De Menil Foundation, Houston, TX. This exhibition was organized by The Dalí Museum and the Museu Picasso, Barcelona, with the collaboration of the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí and is sup-ported by an indemnity from the U.S. Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

In 2012, I wrote about the unique Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg Florida ( If you haven’t been there yet, or even if you have, between now and February 16, 2015 is the time to plan a visit in order to see the special exhibit “Picasso/Dalí Dalí/Picasso”.

A monumental undertaking, this exhibit affords the opportunity, for the first time, to explore the relationship of these two masters by viewing their works side by side. Organized by The Dalí and the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, in collaboration with the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, this special exhibit brings together rarely loaned works from 22 international art museums and private collections.

Born in Spain a generation apart, Picasso in 1881and Dalí in 1904, their personal relationship, described as love -hate, is like something out of the tabloids. Picasso first served as a quasi mentor to Dalí, but in time they became rivals both politically and artistically.

They first met in 1925 when Picasso, who was already acknowledged in the art world, attended Dalí’s first solo show in Barcelona. Dalí traveled to Paris the next year to visit Picasso. He purportedly told Picasso that he rushed to see him even before going to the Louvre to which Picasso is supposed to have said “That was very correct.” Picasso financed Dalí’s first trip to the United States. It is said that Dalí’s beloved wife, Gala, had a prior liaison with Picasso.

Both men reacted to he horrors of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) with evocative works. Soon after that, with the rise of Fascism, their political views diverged. Picasso became very political. He left Spain and refused to return until Franco was deposed. He joined the Communist party in 1944.

Dalí refused to take a political stand against Franco and Fascism and this was one of the reasons he was expelled from the Surrealist movement. Although he went to the United States during World War II, he did return to Spain under Franco’s regime and was viewed as a supporter of the dictator.

To commemorate the extraordinary exhibit Picasso Dalí Dalí Picasso this bench inspired by the two artists decorates the garden area of The Dalí

In later days, Dalí, who once called Picasso his “artistic father” referred to the senior’s work as “ugly” and accused him of killing modern art; Picasso was equally critical of Dalí.

Arranged chronologically, the exhibit at the Dalí Museum explores the influence, similarities, and contrasts between the two. Visitors are greeted by giant ManRay photographic portraits of the artists. On the opposite wall, self portraits of the two present the men as the images they want to convey.

In many of the pairings – portraits of women, bathers, still lifes, collages, their parallels are notable. The early influence of Picassso on Dalí is apparent in shapes, lines, colors, faces, positioning of subjects and objects in paintings. In early Cubist works, Dalí’s emulation of the older master is evident, but soon he began to impose his own unique style.

Their representations of the horrors of the war are presented in Picasso’s sketches for Guernica, his signature work, which are displayed next to Dalí’s study for Premonition of the Civil War, his view of the self cannibalization of Spain during its Civil War.

Both men were fascinated by Velazquez, the great 17th century Spanish painter and their reimagining of and tributes to his work occupy two walls in one of the galleries.

Representative of Dalí’s final attitude toward Picasso is his Portrait of Pablo Picasso in the 21st Century (1947). Picasso is depicted as hermaphroditic with no brain, rocks on his head and a grotesque spoon symbolic of a paint brush protruding from his mouth.

Dali Apparatus and Hand – (1927)© Salvador Dalí. Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, [Artist Rights Society (ARS)], 2014. Collection of The Dalí Museum, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL, 2014. ©2014 Estate of Pablo Picas-so/ ARS, NY. This exhibition was organizedby The Dalí Museum and the MuseuPicasso, Barcelona, with the collaborationof the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí andis supported by an indemnity from theU.S. Federal Council on the Arts and theHumanities.

Included in this special show are various print media; magazines, pamphlets, books illustrated by these two artists. In the 1930’s, both designed covers for the magazine, Minotaure; Picasso in 1933 and Dalí in 1936. Both covers explored the repugnance of human violence via the half man half bull creature as a symbol. There are also postcards written by Dalí to Picasso. Picasso never responded to these correspondences, yet he thought enough of them to save them.

One article stands out by itself and adds a bit of amusement. It is Dalí’s Aphrodisiac Dinner Jacket. Occasionally worn by the eccentric and flamboyant Dalí, it is decorated with, among other objects, 55 shot glasses filled with a green liqueur. When originally displayed in Paris in 1936 in a slightly different version, each shot glass contained crème de menthe and a dead fly; people were invited to sample the liqueur through straws. Dalí noted that the dinner jacket should only be worn during “certain promenades late at night, or in very powerful cars going very slowly”; obviously, so the liqueur would not spill.

The Dalí Museum is located along St. Petersburg’s picturesque waterfront. Advance tickets are available for this exhibit and timed tickets offered on weekends. The museum can be visited on a day trip from Marco, but consider an overnight to spend time enjoying what has become the art district of St. Petersburg, with its Museum of Fine Arts, Chihuly Collection, galleries, shops, and restaurants, all within walking distance. There is also a trolley, “The Downtown Looper”, that stops at all the major museums and attractions.

If you want to see this exhibit after February, 16, you will have to travel to the Museu Picasso in Barcelona where it will be from March 19- June 28. May is a lovely time to visit Barcelona.


Picasso Commpoteir Frutero Fruit Dish – (1917) © 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso / ARS, NY. This exhibi-tion was organized
by The Dalí Museum and the Museu Picasso, Barcelona, with the collaboration of the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí and is supported by an indemnity from the U.S. Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

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 Accidental Speaker

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:42am

Artful Life
Tara O’Neill

One of Goodland’s photo four historic fishing cottages. By Tara O’Neill

I am an artist. I am not a public speaker. I can talk about my art to any group, but beyond that I’d rather chew glass.

I am actively involved in several cultural non-profit organizations. I am not an organizer. If you’re wondering about my organizational skills just ask my husband. (Hint: He does the bookkeeping in our home, and for good reason.)

So, how is it I recently found myself standing at a podium with about 70 or so Goodland residents seated in neat rows before me and three highly-respected Collier County representatives on the dais to my right? (Seriously, who cast this movie?) Life can turn on a dime; that’s how. Best to keep your motives in good repair I say.

I am one of the founding 12 members of the Goodland Arts Alliance (GAA), and also its board president. The GAA, a 501(c)3, is a little over two years old and has been in negotiations with Collier County all this time to procure one or all of the four historic fishing cottages remaining at MarGood Harbor Park in the Village of Goodland.

The goal is two-fold: 1.) to take on the project of restoring these jewels of Southwest Florida history that have been left abandoned and locked behind a chain-link fence for the past decade; and 2.) to utilize the buildings for the benefit of the Village and the public.

I have sat at many intimidating (giant!) meeting tables in as many county offices, stating the GAA mission to “preserve, protect and advance the cultural presence in the Village of Goodland through art, history and education.” And to investigate the feasibility of leasing the cottage site from Collier County Parks and Recreation (CCPR), the stewards of the property. Each time, I had a lump in my throat, a knot in my stomach and the wish that I was standing, instead, at my easel. What was I thinking?

The process would get so far. Then, there would be personnel changes in the county offices, and we’d have to start all over again. Frustrating. One person who has remained involved from the beginning is County Commissioner Donna Fiala. She has sat beside me at most of these meetings, and she was on that dais next to me at the same community meeting that placed me at that podium with the feeling that I had swallowed a whole tomato…too frightened even to swallow.

Last June, in yet another meeting, CCPR requested the GAA host a community meeting to gage the support of Village residents for their mission. GAA members canvassed the community with flyers, invited members of the Goodland Civic Association at their regular monthly meeting, and published internet announcements of the scheduled event.

Forward motion! Hoo-ray! Until the week before “showtime,” and it occurred to me that the GAA would actually have to give a formal presentation to the group —and that the presenter would be me. Again, what was I thinking? Really, I just want to paint.

Through the buzz of white-noise in my head, I could faintly hear myself read from notes (there were four pages of them!) Done. So far so good. After that the room was opened up to Q & A. Some of the opening questions were fairly aggressive, tainted by rumor and uncertainty. I answered as honestly and calmly as I could.

Many folks aired grievances with how MarGood Harbor Park, as a whole, was initially developed, or how it was currently being operated. Hmm, hadn’t seen off-topic remarks coming, and there were a lot. Luckily, all three women seated to my right had. Commissioner Fiala, CCPR Assistant Director Jeanine MacPherson and CCPR Regional Director Nancy Olson (who also has been a champion for us from the beginning), all had experienced discussions that swerved from an original singular topic. I took their lead: Stay patient; stay on track.

Positive remarks began coming from the audience. “Oh look,” I’d think, “a friend.” And then another friend and another. Suddenly it became easy, well, at least natural. These people were more than friends; they were family, agreeable or not.

I was speaking with family.

Goodlanders are a family — sometimes a big dysfunctional family (and I’ve got some experience with that) — but still a family. We all love Goodland and have reasons to be suspicious of new ideas. At some point, I faded from presenting to conversing. They just wanted answers, and I had answers!

I know this stuff; I know it because I believe in it. My information and the GAA’s motives are spot-on. I knew it the way I know one of my own paintings: the motivation, the inspiration, the goal. The goodness. I knew it the way I knew the hearts of all the GAA volunteers who have worked tirelessly to get to this day, and what I didn’t know, the women on the dais did.

When a show of hands for support was asked for by Goodland’s Queen of Heart Margi Fortune, a sea of hands went up followed by lively applause. Thereupon, Commissioner Fiala said she would move the GAA’s petition for historic designation of the cottages to the next County Commissioners’ meeting agenda — something the GAA had been trying to do for 11 months. Historic designation would, speaking practically, cut the renovation costs considerably since historic restoration doesn’t have to abide by today’s stricter building codes.

We. Had. Done. This.

Do I regret all the time spent away from my own artistic endeavors? Nope.

Somethings are, quite simply, bigger than ourselves, and the artful life must recognize that it takes more than one’s own work to be fulfilled. Choose wisely.

Do I have advice to you haters of public speaking? Yep. Know your subject, and stick to what you know. Believe in your subject, and stick to what you believe in.


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

Take the Kids Fishing

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:40am

Capt. Pete Rapps

Van and Scott with a happy Puffer Fish on a Captain Rapps Charter.

Just remember: It’s more about quantity, not quality. Forget the trophy. Just put them on action.

When I was young, my grandfather used to take my brother and I fishing all he could. He loved to have us out on the boat. Sometimes, he would take us out to the shallow reefs, and we would drop cut squid or live shrimp down on small hook. We would have a blast reeling in grunts, porgies, snapper and the occasional trigger fish. We would laugh and giggle as we pulled in one after the other on every drop down. What a blast!

Other times my grandfather would take us out for big fish. He would tell us we were going to try to catch big wahoo, kingfish or Mahi Mahi. We were not going to bring the small reef gear; we only had room for the big rods. We would get all excited and could not wait to get out there and see fish brought into the boat as big as us.

Shortly after we would get out there, the big rods were set out on outriggers and down riggers, and we would troll at slow speeds. “How long would it be?”, we always asked impatiently. “Hopefully soon,” grandpa would always reply.

Some days, it seemed like we trolled for eight hours only to catch a fish or two. Sometimes more, sometimes none. For us kids, it was BORINGGGGGG — possibly because he had us all doped up on Dramamine. Truthfully, though, there was really nothing for us to do, and we began to despise it. We got to the point that we were losing interest in fishing all together because of the long trolling trips. We didn’t care about the trophy fish; we just wanted action.

Angelina & Joey Scalogna with a Trout.

That was 30 years ago, and now I have been on just about every type of fishing trip imaginable. I still have some fish to catch on my “Bucket List,” but I have grown more patient and understand that fishing is called “fishing” for good reason. It’s not called “catching!” On my days off, I enjoy being out on the water and realize that fish caught are just a bonus.

When taking kids out on charters, I understand from my own experiences that it’s all about putting them on constant action. They need fish right away, not a 50 minute ride to the trophy spot. If need be, I am happy to make the casts for them, but they need to hold the rod and feel the bite. They need to reel in the fish and feel it wiggle. They don’t care if it’s a big snook or redfish. It could be a catfish, jack, ladyfish or a tiny, little snapper. As long as it takes the bait and wiggles, it’s exciting. I never let them know what we consider trash or undesirable fish. You just have to keep them excited.

So, next time you take the kids out fishing, forget the trophies for the day. Just put them on fish. Better yet, come out with us, and we will show them a fun, educational and memorable day of fishing.


Captain Rapps’ Charters & Guides offers year round expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the 10,000 Islands of the Everglades National Park, and spring time Tarpon-only charters in the Florida Keys. Capt. Rapps’ top notch fleet accommodates men, women, & children of all ages, experienced or not. Between our 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



Are Your Hidden Food Allergies Making You Fat?

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:38am

Crystal Manjarres

I know what you’re thinking—not another excuse as to why we are overweight. Many people dismiss the new rule of thought that an obesity gene exists, and frown upon those who should “just exercise and eat right” to lose weight. Although I disagree, I do understand where they are coming from as fads, gimmicks, and excuses fill our inboxes and TVs on a regular basis, constantly changing and contradicting each other.

In this case, we’re going to discuss hidden food allergies. Hidden food allergies are very real; studies have shown that once you remove the allergenic food(s) from your diet, your irritating or even life-threatening conditions dissipate.

What is food intolerance?

Basically food intolerance is “…an individualized biochemical sensitivity to foods that are otherwise wholesome and harmless. This sensitivity causes the immune system to react as if it were protecting the body from an enemy such as a bacteria, virus, or parasite,” according to Roger Deutsch.

This causes the delicate systems of the body to malfunction one by one, until they are all impacted (like a tumbling wall of dominoes) until eventually disease arises. This all begins whenever a person eats a food that they are sensitive to. No two people are alike in their food intolerances (unless by chance).

What is the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance?

In a nutshell, a food allergy causes an adverse reaction almost immediately after consuming the offending food, such as a rash or anaphylactic shock. Food intolerance, however, is much more subtle and hence has been aptly named the “hidden” food allergy. Food intolerance may present such elusive symptoms that you may not even be aware of the connection to common ailments, complaints, or issues such as obesity, migraines or arthritis to name a few.

An amazing thing happens when one eliminates these aggravating foods: those struggling with fertility find themselves pregnant and those who suffer from frequent infections find themselves responding better to colds and flus, just to give you some examples. Rudy Rivera, M.D., notes that “evidence is quite compelling that immune system activation is a major, probably the major, cause of cardiovascular disease.” Weight falls off, health improves, and energy levels increase just by avoiding your trigger or “poison” foods.

How is this even possible?

According to Rivera, a simple test can help identify these trigger foods and heal disorders of the body such as: diabetes, arthritis, obesity, chronic fatigue, migraines, panic attacks, intestinal problems and childhood illnesses such as ear infections, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and bedwetting.

This comprehensive test is called ALCAT and tests for 200 foods, plus functional foods, medicinal herbs, antibiotics, environmental chemicals, food additives, food colorings, and molds.

It’s not cheap by any means, but the investment in your health is priceless. If you struggle with weight loss no matter how much you diet and exercise, or suffer from any inflammatory condition, it would be worth looking into.

If you have heard of the test and completed it, I’d love to hear your story!


Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email She can also be reached at or and 239-333-5771.

An Island Christmas

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:37am

Melinda Gray

Me (The Grinch) with my mother; just kidding. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

Christmas is just around the corner, and “island-style” holiday preparations are being made all around me. I’m also nearing the one-year anniversary of my big move here in February, and I’ve been reflecting back on this past year in sunny southwest Florida. I’ve never been happier, and my kids are doing really well. We are all making adjustments and thriving, but the holidays are proving an unfamiliar challenge to me and my newly relocated family.

This time last year, my brothers and I were digging our cars out from under several feet of snow daily, and I was packing for my trip to visit my mother in Goodland. We would be here for the holidays, and I remember thinking, “How will I get into the Christmas spirit without snow?” It’s just the way I was raised, and in turn how I raised my kids. White Christmas’s were one of the only perks to living in such inclement weather.

Knowing how I would feel about an 82-degree Christmas day, my mother went to great lengths to make the season bright for us. We had a beautiful tree, and the whole house was decorated just like when I was a child. Opening presents and enjoying our family dinner on a bright, warm day did feel a bit odd at the time, but it’s now one of my most treasured holiday memories.

With just a few weeks left until Dec. 25, I’ve been ridiculously busy with two jobs, two kids and the whole new lifestyle joining karate has immersed me in. My overflowing schedule has become a very convenient excuse when asked why I haven’t even begun to decorate — something I usually do immediately following Thanksgiving.

Our outdoor 2013 Christmas tree, I was so excited to see it when we first arrived for our month-long visit; mom had decorated the whole house.

But to be honest, I’ve found myself dreading the whole process, and I can’t help but wonder if my attitude is a direct result of the dramatic climate change. Feeling like a mean old Grinch, I recently began asking people who relocated from up north, like me, but have been here much longer, as to how they get into the holiday spirit. Everyone has been pretty much unanimous in reminding me of how lucky I am to live in paradise while my Ohio friends are freezing, and they assure me, given enough time, I will adjust.

And they’re right. Walking around Goodland, I’m beginning to see decorations and yuletide preparations. Some of my Goodland friends are in the early stages of planning a Christmas golf cart decorating contest and parade for later this month, and making holiday crafts and cookies are in my very near future. All this has jumpstarted my determination to force myself into the Christmas spirit.

So far, I’ve attended the tree lighting on Marco Island and a few other holiday events. In that, I’ve found that the beauty and joy I was missing is as present as ever, even under the hot sun and palm trees. I guess in all my effort to quickly acclimate and blend in to a new place, I forgot to change my mind’s perspective on the little things.

I know that am lucky to be here. I’m blessed with two jobs that I love, and my family is spending the holidays together for the first time in years. We may not have an extravagant white Christmas, but it can still be wonderful with a little more effort on my part. So, I will be breaking out the bins of holiday cheer and decorating the house this week.

Helping to decorate our pretty little tree at work really helped to put me in a more festive holiday mood.

I’ve always loved Christmas, and I’m resolute in my quest to make it a merry one — with or without snow.


Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at or 239-896-0426

Holiday Family Fishing Fun

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:34am

Captain Mary A. Fink

Enjoy a day on the water this holiday season with the family. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

This is the time of year when friends and family come together to enjoy quality time during the holidays. I can think of no better way to enjoy time together than fishing in the magnificent inshore areas that South Florida has to offer. A good portion of the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge encompasses the area between Everglades National Park and Cape Romano and boasts some of the finest fishing opportunities in the state. Additionally, the area is rich with wildlife, including birds, manatees and dolphin due to the area’s pristine ecosystem and mangrove island habitat.

If you decide that a fishing day with family and friends is something that appeals to you, I suggest hiring an experienced guide who is familiar with the area to take you out for the first time. One of the many benefits of choosing a charter is that because your guide is knowledgeable about the area he/she can take you to fishing areas that have proven to be productive. Your charter captain is happy to provide local fishing tips and effective techniques for you which will surely up the odds of catching.

Additionally, due to many inshore areas that have dangerously low water levels, the navigational challenges need not be on your worry list! Your license, tackle and bait will be provided for you, and to top it off, your catch will be properly handled and filleted for your trip back home. The only real requirement of you is to wear sun screen, polarized sun glasses and a hat, as well as to enjoy your family and your friends in the scenic surroundings our mangrove islands provide.

You can find charter opportunities in Marco Island, Goodland, Port of the Islands, Everglades City and Everglades National Park. Manatee tours, eco-tours, airboat rides and kayak adventure tours are available in these areas as well. All of these outdoor excursion activity’s can help make your holiday visit more exciting and meaningful.

One of the most wonderful things about the sport of fishing is that it provides the perfect climate for meaningful conversations and bonding without the daily high tech distractions we all experience in today’s fast paced world. Whether fishing from a beach, a dock or a boat, the scenery and wonders of nature found in our area instantly invites a calm, serene environment with which to share.

When engaged in the sport of fishing, one naturally tends to become more “present” because being cognizant of environmental factors like tidal exchange, wind, water depth and habitat or structure become important to experience success.

When sharing the excitement of that first fish or the passing of a beautiful bird, meaningful, long lasting memories are made that add to the quality of time well spent together.


Captain Mary specializes in fishing the beautiful Ten Thousand Islands. She holds a “six pack” captains license and has a knack for finding fish. A passionate angler possessing over 35 years of extensive experience in both backcountry and offshore fishing, Mary offers fishing expeditions through her Island Girls Charters company. When fishing with Captain Mary, you will be exposed to a variety of successful techniques including cast and retrieve, drift fishing, bottom fishing and sight fishing. Visit to learn about fishing with Capt. Mary, or reach her at 239-571-2947

The Body, the Body, the Body

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:32am

Golf Tips
Todd Elliott

When I started teaching the game of golf, it never crossed my mind that I would be studying biomechanics, 6D video and physics, but this is the high level of education available to instructors. I am just a novice at these subjects compared to the top teachers in the world. However, my expertise is helping a student make a golf swing that is functional for their body.

A new buzz word in the golf instructional world is biomechanics. Many biomechanics are discovering that that the biomechanical study of the golf swing is complex and right up their alley. There have been studies done and dissertations written about the golf swing by many leading biomechanics. Even though I have a hard time making sense of vectors, down forces and other biomechanical terms, the studies are helping golf instructors better understand the golf swing. In many instances, they are only conforming to what many instructors have always believed, but help with a deeper understanding of why these teaching theories are true.

There are many moves in the golf swing that separate the good player from the average player. The most obvious difference to me as an instructor is the transition from the backswing to the downswing — also known as the start of the downswing. Different instructors have various ideas on how to start the downswing: pushing off with the trail foot, or stomping the ground with the lead foot, or bumping the hips toward the target, and many more theories.

I have discovered that many of these ideas work if one thing happens in the golf swing: the club shaft drops below the hand path. This is otherwise known as the shaft being laid off. The hand path is the path the hands travel on the downswing towards the golf ball. The club shaft at the top of the backswing can vary, as long as the club drops below the hand path on the transition (The picture on the right shows this motion). If the club shaft becomes vertical to the hand path, or above the hand path, the golfer with inevitably have to make adjustments to make contact with the golf ball (seen in the picture on the left). Typically, the club shaft will continue to be “over the top.”

Another move from the incorrect position is a reroute of the club underneath the hand path. The club shaft working underneath is usually accomplished by a player standing taller in the downswing. Not only is this compensation a major loss of power, but it will be a major challenge to consistently hitting the golf ball in the center of the club face.

As I study this biomechanical look at the transition, one key element is missing in the discussion. Is the golfer’s body able of make the correct movements? I do not expect the biomechanics of golf to think about this aspect; they can only account for so many variables during their studies. It is my job to find out what a student’s body is capable of before we set goals and start working on the golf swing

The best physical evaluation test to determine if a golfer is capable of the movement described above is called the 90/90 test. This will determine if the trail shoulder and arm can function properly. The trail arm and shoulder is the right shoulder for a right-handed golfer.

The 90/90 test starts in a standing position. The elbow makes a 90 degree angle from the shoulder, and the forearm is 90 degrees from the upper arm. The forearm is facing the ground (all parts of the test seen in the pictures above). Move the forearm towards the wall behind you. The angle of the forearm matching the angle of the spine is a passing grade.

This test is also done in a golf posture. The 90/90 test in golf posture is the most important aspect of the evaluation. The golf posture 90/90 test represents what a golfer can physically do in the golf swing. I have given many physical evaluations, and this test separates the good players from the average player. Even though there are always exceptions, the student must be in the ball park of passing the test to be able to function properly in the golf swing.

I can teach a student to make certain moves in the golf swing that I have learned from biomechanics, 6D video and physics studies, but if their body cannot physically produce a desired motion, I am wasting the student’s time.

If the student has a desire to get better with the body-swing connection, I will teach them the motion and then have them see a TPI-certified fitness instructor or physical therapist. The other part of the team will help the student create the mobility or stability desired to physically produce the instructed motion.

Go see your local PGA Professional to help get you into the correct biomechanical positions that your body is able to produce.


Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is an active Student Mentor at FGCU; a volunteer with the First Tee program and was presented the 2010 and 2011 PGA’s President Council Awards on “Growing the Game.”

How Can We Win If No One Will Go to the Net?

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:30am

Doug Browne

A few weeks ago, I received a text from a 4.0 player who was clearly perplexed about her last CTA match and wanted to solve the puzzle on the tennis court. Strangely enough, not many of my students have inquired about this particular dilemma, and I had tremendous compassion about her recent problem.

“Doug, it was so weird facing this last team because they elected to play from the baseline the entire match, and it threw us a curve, no doubt,” my student explained.

Hey, it is always tough when we face a strategy that we have not seen before. Moreover, when both teammates are unsure what to do, it feels lonely on the tennis court. After all, in team sports, one may call a time out and run to the sideline and receive advice from the coach.

One of the many reasons tennis is such an incredible thinking person’s game is that we must solve our issues on court with little help. So, in singles action, the player must come up with the answers alone or lose quickly.

In year’s past when our son was in the USTA boy’s 18 and under singles division, I was powerless when I watched his key matches. Prior to the 18 and under tournaments, coaches could interject 10 minutes of coaching when their player split-sets, and in many cases, it was so simple to offer basic coaching tactics like “hit to his forehand” or “keep your emotions under control.”

Ok, back to the circumstance my 4.0 woman doubles player faced a few weeks back during her competitive match. With the opponents staying at the baseline, my student no longer had an obvious target to contend with and this frustrated my team.

Ironically, in my era, everyone rushed the net, and it was pretty straightforward because the strategy was either:

  • Hit at the person at the net or coming to the net.
  • Pass the net rusher.
  • Lob the net rusher.

As I have stated to my son on numerous occasions, my era (1970s and 1980s) was so much easier than what he faces in the modern game. Why?

Typically, the server and the returner stay back and battle it out at the baseline. For one, today’s players better comprehend the geometry of tennis or face serious consequences. In other words, a large amount of tennis was dictated from a north/south viewpoint as players chipped and charged into the net and faced groundstrokes and lobs. With the equipment archaic, it was a softer, gentler game.

However, with the changes with rackets and strings, players have far more options. For one, the east/west angles often pull the players off the court, and thus, there are many openings. So, when a young powerful server rocks a cannonball, the returner may either strike a winner or a shot that hurts the opponent. Hence, big servers tend to stick near the baseline and hope for a short ball so they can crush the approach shot and move forward to the net.

As a coach, I’m fully aware that a solid 4.0 player has outstanding racket skills but still is not quite ready for the pro tour. So, I advised my student to stay back and feel out her rivals with their consistency. Remember, when the other team is faced with their own game plan, it is conceivable they could freak out or lose their cool. CTA and USTA tournaments are tension filled, and it is not easy to employ a new strategy at a moment’s notice.

My second piece of advice was to have my team hit short balls and force the foes to leave their comfort zone. Now, once this team must fetch the short ball, there is an immediate target. If the rivals do not like to volley, start ripping balls right at them.

Another effective plan is to rally with the competitors from 80 feet away and start lobbing. Sometimes, the opponents will get complacent and begin to develop poor footwork. If so, hit a lob and move into the net and hit high volleys or overhead smashes.

I urge all players to visit their coaches and make sure to work on these new ideas on a weekly basis. Unless our competitive CTA and USTA participants continually work on new facets of the game, it is inevitable that they will revert back to their older, more comfortable styles. The game continues to evolve, and the players who embrace change will prosper.

As I used to travel with outstanding juniors, we were constantly reminded that there was only one winner in the tournament, and trust me, the state of Florida has so many present and past champions, it is quite a feat to win just one event. So, in order to embrace this awesome challenge, don’t stop working on your tennis game and embrace change!


Since 2000, Doug Browne was the Collier County Pro of the Year three times, and has been a USPTA pro in the area for 28 years. Doug was also honored in the International Hall of Fame (Newport, Rhode Island) as Tennis Director during the 2010 summer season. Doug has been writing about tennis for the last 19 years.

The Oil Change: Slipping on Oil

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:29am

Ask The CFP® Practitioner
Darcie Guerin

“If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day.” — Anthon St. Maarten, author of “Divine Living”


Question: Would you explain why oil prices are falling and how this affects the economy?

Answer: Oil prices have tumbled dramatically since last summer, and this will surely influence the economy and consumer behavior. Like other materials, the price of oil depends on the principles of supply and demand. An added dimension is that oil prices are closely tied to various geopolitical forces. It is quite apparent that Saudi Arabia is using its oil-pricing power as a strategic geopolitical weapon.

The question now: “How low do oil prices need to fall to balance the global oil market?” Because of the complicated relationships between cash flow, spending, drilling activity and, of course, politics, there is no simple answer. The first step is to determine true demand and who will provide the supply. Survival of the fittest for those producers who are able to continue operation at lower price levels will be a key factor, just as it was with real estate a few years ago. That decline also played out across various economic sectors. Today, we’ll discuss why the demand for oil has dropped and what the economic ramifications of price decreases may be going forward.

Demand and Price Drop

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met on Thanksgiving Day and decided to keep oil production levels at a status quo rather than decreasing in response to lessened demand. This led to a substantial drop in the price of liquid gold as “The Beverly Hillbilly’s” called the precious commodity. For each dollar that oil drops per barrel, the Russians feel it in their pocketbook to the tune of roughly $2 billion dollars. Ouch! Geopolitical tensions between Russia, Ukraine and the Middle East have not gone away, and this could potentially generate turmoil in global financial markets.

Ying and Yang: Two Sides to the Equation

Prices go up or down in response to consumer demand. At certain price points, consumers will adjust behavior and reduce consumption. On the other side of the equation, sellers are profit seekers and hope to sell their products at the highest possible prices. When OPEC and other producers have too much product on hand, oil prices will fall, presumably enticing consumers to purchase more at lower price. So, why did demand and prices fall for this precious commodity in the first place? Here are a few reasons:

  • Concern that financial slowdowns in China, Europe (Germany) and North America will reduce economic activity, consumption and oil demand.
  • The East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline exports from Russian to Asia, this creates competition and price pressure for traditional Mid-East imports to that region.
  • Saudi Arabia is discounting prices to maintain market share and punish other oil producing countries. (It’s a form of international arm-wrestling.)
  • United States oil boom and “shale gale” resulting in oil output growth.

Simply stated, more production and less use translates into more sellers than buyers. Yet, there are reasons why oil prices will eventually rebound.

First, it is a myth that a slowing Chinese economy reduces the amount of oil they’re buying. China actually is using this low price environment to fill its strategic petroleum reserve tanks. They are in fact, on a buying spree, which indicates that they may see current low oil prices as being temporary.

Lower prices result in production slowdowns. Less output results in lower levels of supply. This supply slump will soon result in higher prices as demand will increase during winter. Predictions this year are for a harsh winter in Canada and the Northern United States. This will make it more difficult to extract oil and reduces output from the Marcellus shale’s in Pennsylvania to the Bakken formation in North Dakota. Demand increases due to colder temperatures will push prices up.

Pendulum Swings

Lower oil and gas prices mean more money in our pockets. This is tantamount to a tax cut. Extra money translates into increased consumer confidence and spending that first finds its way to retail and restaurants just in time for the holiday season. Cash will flow in all directions leading to greater overall economic activity. Airlines, trucking and transportation providers realize increased revenues and profits as fuel costs decline.

It may seem counterintuitive, yet lower oil prices translate into increased demand which pushes oil prices higher and so it goes. The full impact of lower oil prices depends on how long oil prices stay at lower levels. As in other areas of life, all things are connected. Stay focused and invest accordingly.

Views expressed are the current opinion of the author, but not necessarily those of Raymond James & Associates. The author’s opinions are subject to change without notice. Information contained in this report was received from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Investments in the energy sector are not suitable for all investors. Further information regarding these investments is available from your financial advisor. International investing involves additional risks such as currency fluctuations, differing financial accounting standards, and possible political and economic instability. These risks are greater in emerging markets. Investing always involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss. No investment strategy can guarantee success.

“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.”


This article provided by Darcie Guerin, CFP®, 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 Website:


We Are Not Ourselves

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:28am

Maggie Gust


By Matthew Thomas
Simon & Schuster 2014. 620 pages
Genre: Domestic Fiction
Collier County Public Library: Yes

“We are not ourselves when nature, being oppressed, commands the mind to suffer with the body.” - King Lear


Eileen Tumulty is 9 years old when we first meet her in 1950, failing miserably at the Irish dance classes her mother enrolled her in. Like most little girls, she idolizes her father and is bright enough to notice that all the men around them respect and defer to “Big Mike.” Both parents, Big Mike and Bridget, are Irish immigrants, still have their brogues, yet when Eileen queries about her roots, her father says simply, “I’m an American,” with a wave of his hand. Indeed, he had applied for citizenship on the first day of his eligibility, while Bridget put it off, unwilling to let go of Ireland. When she did apply, in a pique of anger at Big Mike she asked her cousin to sponsor her, not her husband. Big Mike had savored the opportunity to sponsor his wife, seeing it as a confirmation of his “American-ness.” Bridget realized too late that her defiance had cut her husband to the quick. This is the emotional battleground that comprised Eileen’s childhood.

After suffering a miscarriage and complications, Bridget is hospitalized for a significant amount of time and Eileen takes on cooking and cleaning in their Queens apartment. Big Mike takes her to Jackson Heights one day to visit a friend of his, the super at a lovely apartment complex. Eileen is awestruck by the quiet beauty of the place, so different from her own neighborhood. “There were places, she now saw, that contained more happiness than ordinary places did. Unless you knew that such places existed, you might be content to stay where you were.” These two sentences state a realization that shapes the rest of Eileen’s life.

We Are Not Ourselves is the depiction of the lives of three generations of Irish Americans, but told mainly from the point-of-view of Eileen, covering her childhood through late middle age. Eileen is determined to escape into a better life, marry an ambitious man with a solid non-Irish name. “It was the thoroughgoing Irishness of Tumulty that bothered her, the redolence of peat bogs and sloppy rebel songs and an uproar in the blood, of a defeat that ran so deep it reemerged as a treacherous conviviality.” She wants a grand life with meaning, recognition, a big home and even bigger social life. Eileen has finished nursing school and is working on a graduate degree in nursing administration when she meets Edmund Leary on a blind date, set up by her roommate. Ed is a scientist who literally has not been out of his lab for a year. By the end of the date, each is smitten with the other, eventually marry and Eileen Tumulty Leary has one child, a son named Connell. Ed turns out to be brilliant but not at all ambitious. He turns several lucrative offers, preferring to teach. Eileen adjusts her expectations, to a degree.

As the quote from King Lear infers, We Are Not Ourselves, is ultimately the story of how the Leary family lives with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. At the tender age of 51, Ed is diagnosed with the disease. This is after several months of his trying to hide his deficits and his family and friends noticing behavioral changes but not suspecting pathology. Eileen, the experienced nurse, chalks it up to a midlife crisis. Eileen is advised to divorce Ed, making it easier for him to receive financial assistance for his eventual long-term care, but she refuses to do so. She works out a way to keep him at home with a caregiver while she continues to work and Connell has gone off to Chicago to college.

This is a lengthy book but it reads like a book half its size because it is beautifully written and the characters full-bodied and quintessentially human. Matthew Thomas treats his reader with respect – there is no gushy sentimentality here. Small events, small decisions, small betrayals, the things that make up everyday life are detailed here and give this debut novel a huge impact. It is the story of immigrants and assimilation. It is a love story. It is the story of human beings dealing with a catastrophic disease that cannot be stopped. It is an unflinching look at the gradual destruction of a loving, brilliant man.

I gave this book a 4.5/5.0 rating. The only quibble I have with it is that the resolution for Connell did not ring true to me, however, our last glimpse of Eileen was deeply satisfying. This is probably the best debut novel I have read in many years. Thomas was a creative writing student of Alice McDermott, author of Someone, Charming Billy, and other exquisite books. He has learned well. I look forward to his next book.

This book is available everywhere in all formats. It has already been optioned for a movie by a US producer. If they cast it right (please, no Ben Affleck), it should outdo Gone Girl.

If you are giving books as gifts for the holidays, there is a plethora of websites with best books, etc. Penguin Books is offering a personalized service. It does require you to submit your e-mail address, give the age of the recipient, as well as what type of book or which titles you know that person has enjoyed. They will then e-mail you a list of titles. Each request is actually handled by a real human being. It is at Alternatively, you can probably ask the helpful people at your local independent bookstore.


Maggie Gust has been an avid reader all her life. Her past includes working as a teacher as well as various occupations in the health care field. She shares a hometown with Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois, but Florida has been her home since 1993. Genealogy, walking on the beach, reading, movies and writing, are among her pursuits outside of work. She is self employed and works from her Naples home.

Tropical Ornaments Abound

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:26am

Mike Malloy


The holidays are here again.

Soon, we’ll be unpacking colorful ornaments and decorating our trees. Wouldn’t it be great if we could enjoy festive decorations year round? Well, here in Naples, we can. The tropical jewels that bloom in our gardens are as beautiful as any or-nament you can buy at the store.

The Dombeya, for example, every home in Naples should have at least one of these beauties. The Dombeya, also known as tropical hydrangea, starts bloom-ing in the fall and usually continues blooming until summer. It’s hands-down the most spectacular winter-blooming plant. Dombeya thrives in full sun to partial shade. Remember, more sun means more flowers.

Medinilla magnifica is one of the most magnificent plants I have ever seen, hence the name. It is a real show-stopper. Because of its size and the length of time it takes for its panicles to develop from flowers into berries, it blooms practically year round. It’s a very hardy shade-loving plant with average water needs. The only downfall of Medinilla magnifica is that it’s hard to come by and can be quite expensive. It’s well worth the extra effort and money, though, so keep searching.


Curcuma is another spectacular plant that blooms in the fall and early winter. Its flowers are very large and flamboyant. After blooming, curcuma rhizomes will continue to grow and may surprise you next year with several more flowers. Even not in bloom, it is still stunning because its foliage is so large and lush. Curcuma thrives in the shade and can be easily divided. Incidentally, the spice turmeric comes from the rhizomes of the curcuma longa.

There are more than 100 species of medinilla, also known as Philippine orchid. I’m just going to concentrate on one, the common medinilla (cumingii). Its large brilliant blooms are pink at first but then change to a cranberry or purple color. Several of mine bloom year round, but they are at their peak in late fall and win-ter. It thrives in mostly shade to total shade and has average water needs.

Brunfelsia spp, more commonly known as Yesterday-Today-and-Tomorrow, is a real dazzler that reliably blooms in late fall and winter. It starts out purple before fading to blue and eventually turning white. It’s also extremely fragrant.

Medinilla magnifica

Another shining star in Florida’s winter landscape is Firespike. It comes in red, magenta, purple and pink. Firespike blooms from fall to spring. Its blooming cycle coincides with the return of the ruby-throated hummingbird to Florida every win-ter. Firespike is an eye-catcher and a favorite among hummingbirds in South Florida.

Another seasonally appropriate plant is the black bat flower (Tacca chantrieri), also known as Cat Whiskers or Devil’s Flower. It begins blooming in October, just in time for Halloween. If the black bat is too spooky for you, it also comes in ghostly white. This plant thrives in the shade.

These are just a few of Mother Nature’s exquisite ornaments that are blooming right now in our gardens. My upcoming series of articles will focus on winter bloomers that will sparkle in your garden during the holidays and throughout the winter. KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!


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, He also can be heard every Saturday at 4 PM on his call-in garden radio show, “Plant Talk with Mike Malloy,” on 98.9-WGUF.

The Ghosts of Christmases Past…

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 8:42pm

By Pat Newman

How does the song go? “It’s the most wonderful time of the year?” Really? My recollections beg to differ.

My childhood Christmases were filled with red velvet dresses, school extravaganzas, manger scenes and cookies shot out of an aluminum cookie “gun,” as it was referred to by my holiday-glazed mom. We had the traditional needle-dropping tree, large colored bulbs hanging off the gutters and plenty of family drama. It wasn’t until I became the MOM (Madwoman of the Moment) and had to execute the exacting duties of the Christmas holidays that I realized how ultimately dysfunctional our celebrations had been.

Think old-school New Jersey Christmas. Extended family was all within an hour’s driving distance of home, which required personal visitation starting at 7 AM. Whom you visited and when depended on your rank in the family hierarchy. Geographical location be damned.

If you attended Midnight Mass, you might postpone the initial visit until 9 AM. In our family, the grandparents were first on the list. Lucky for us, both sets lived on the same street. We usually hit Dad’s parents first. The “Merry Christmas” visit was brief. I could expect a hug, choking-hazard hard candy, and an envelope containing a crisp $5 bill. Bye-bye.

Up Allen Street to my Mom’s parents, who were like Santa and Mrs. Claus personified. There were gifts-galore, Entennman’s stollen and lots of Jameson Irish Whiskey. We stayed until the lunch hour when it was time to head north to Aunt Joan and Uncle Bill’s Italian Christmas extravaganza. OMG. By now, we were skidding up the icy highway to a two-story house packed with dozens of kids — many of whom we didn’t know by name — a conglomerate of back-slapping relatives who called each other “paesano,” and a carbohydrate laden-feast that could kill at first glance.

Typically, my WASP dad would disappear with a pocket-flask. My Mom would pitch-in by separating screaming, slap-happy children up since 5 AM, and my aunt and hostess-in-charge plied everyone with Pepsi and Italian cookies. The Pepsi was provided by the bottling mogul brother-in-law and pastries by the mother-in-law baker extraordinaire. Presents were exchanged, and it was off to the next stop on the holiday itinerary.

Time to drive to Union City and pay respects to Aunt Lillian. Widowed since I had known her, Aunt Lillian always gifted me with a year’s subscription to National Geographic. Next door to her apartment, which notably faced the Empire State Building, was a couple supposedly related to us known as the Freitags. One year, they gave me electric scissors.

After another dinner with the Freitags and Aunt Lillian, complete with pork and crab apples, we were headed back home and the final stop of the day, my godmother’s Christmas cocktail party. Like, who needed another beverage? Apparently, every adult who had endured the Christmas Day marathon. There was lots of laughter, a show of “what I got for Christmas” ( one year that included a demonstration of a new appliance called a “microwave”), and a plate of rock-hard frozen shrimp.

It was approximately 10 PM when my parents pulled into our driveway. My patent-leather pumps were somewhere under the seat, presents were spilling out of the trunk, and we had celebrated yet another memorable holiday.

“The best Christmas ever!”

The Condee Man Can…and has for 45 years!

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 8:36pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Don II, with son, Don (Erik) Condee.

Condee Cooling and Electric recently celebrated 45 years of service to this community, and beyond. The momentous occasion was celebrated with employees and spouses over dinner at Bistro Soleil.

The company was started by Don Condee, Sr. Originally from Illinois, Don (Senior as he was affectionately called by employees) had his pilot’s license and loved to fly. He found Marco Island in the early 1960’s when he flew to Marco Island with his friend Ed Husted, who worked for Deltona and had invited him to take a look at Marco as an investment opportunity. After running several successful businesses in Illinois including propane gas, electrical, refrigeration, heating, and air conditioning services, he saw a need for similar services on Marco Island.

Thus, Condee Cooling was born in 1969. According to Donald “Erik” Condee; the third generation with Condee Cooling, “Deltona was building homes and condominiums at that time; however, their service was not able to provide 24 hour mechanical service. Condee Cooling and Electric’s success was built upon providing quality services whenever needed, which included evenings, weekends, and holidays. This same service continues today.”

Erik hands a gift of appreciation to Jeff Pratus.

In 1973, Don married Mary Lou Reynolds and the two worked to build the business here in Marco. Don Condee II, the second generation with Condee Cooling, was still in college when Senior made the move to Marco Island. Don ran the company in Illinois until 1979. “My dad called one day and said he needed my help on Marco. So, I made the move, along with my wife and son, Erik.” Erik was just an infant at the time.

Don, Sr., passed away at the end of 2010 leaving his legacy to his family. Family members working with the company today include Don Condee II, Donald “Erik” Condee, Michele Reynolds, Brett Reynolds, Charlotte Condee Husted, and Mary Beth Reynolds Cummings. Condee Cooling and Electric has continued to expand, and after several long years of planning, finally cut the ribbon on newly renovated, state-of the-art office and warehouse space in January 2012.

Not only has the company impacted the face of business and enterprise on the island, it has enjoyed generations of employees within the same family. Imagine, a company that has 60 plus employees at any given time with many having been employed for 20, 30, 40 plus years. A lot can be said about a company with that type of longevity and loyalty from its employees. Condee Cooling and Electric has impacted hundreds of employee’s families over the years, which in turn spreads out to the community. In fact, Condee Cooling and Electric has several generations of customers as well as employees, another telltale sign of a successful honest, reputable company.

Long term employees starting with Greg Schneider.

Don and Erik had few words at the podium except to extend their appreciation for everyone’s contribution to the success of the company. Twenty employees were recognized for 10+, 20+, 30+, and 40+ years of service with the company. Greg Schneider has more than 40 years of employment followed by Debbie Lee with 30 plus years. Department heads each had a few moments at the microphone thanking the Condee Family and thanking their department’s workers.

It was a beautiful evening fitting of the celebration. According to Erik, “Our goal today, is the same as it was 45 years ago, we’re here to serve you.”


A family business.


Just a few of the long-term employees recognized. PHOTOS BY VAL SIMON

Ice Skating in Veterans Park?

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 8:32pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

Two years ago, the folks of Christmas Island Style (CIS) made it snow on Marco Island. This year, they are going to create a winter wonderland in Veterans Memorial Park complete with an ice skating rink and their own version of the Polar Express.

The event will be held on Sun., Dec. 14, 1-7 PM. According to Barbara Murphy, the CIS member who is coordinating it, the day will be filled with ice skating, train rides on the Polar Express, a bounce house and a giant mountain for kids to slide down. Members of the city of Marco Island Parks and Recreation Department will man two tents of crafts, games and face painting.

Joe Granda and Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department Chief Mike Murphy will be conductors on the Polar Express, a circus-style train being donated by William Christ with Trains of America. The Optimist Club will be serving food and light refreshments to help raise money for its local sports programs, while Island Montessori School also will be selling snow cones as a fund raiser.

The rink will be set up Sunday morning, courtesy of the Marco Island Sport Fishing Club and other volunteers under the direction of CIS board member and fishing club member Ed Adams. BellaICE from the West Palm Beach will bring a 60 x 25 foot synthetic ice rink that will perform the same as ice. Included in this are the 70 pairs of skates, both figure and hockey ice skates for all ages. Helmets also will be available, as well as skate bars. The rink will accommodate 20 to 25 skaters at a time depending on the ages.

City Recreation Manager Mindy Gordon and Teen Center Recreation Leader Lola Dial approached Christmas Island Style Chairman Steve Stefanidis last year with the idea for the skating rink. CIS researched ice skating rink providers last spring and chose BellaICE.

Still, the ice skating rink comes with a hefty price tag — $6,000 — so Stefanides began to hunt for the necessary funding. In a conversation with Erik Condee, operation officer of Condee Cooling & Electric Inc., the subject of one of his new vendors, Daikin Heating and Cooling, wanting to become involved within the community came up, and the discussions escalated from there.

“Daikin is the number one manufacturer of heating and cooling equipment in the world. They came to us to take over the distribution and sales here in Collier County, and we jumped at the opportunity to partner with them. They loved the idea of the ice rink and agreed to meet with Steve and me to work out the details,” said Condee.

The ice skating is free of charge, but participants must bring their own socks to wear with the skates. All skaters will need to sign a release before skating, and those under the age of 18 will need a parent or guardian to sign for them.

For more information on Christmas Island Style and its events, visit or call Stefanides at 239- 250-8348.

Marco Island Area Association of Realtors Installation of Officers and Directors

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 8:30pm

By Pat Newman

Bette adjourns her year as president with Bill Filbin and Susan Ackerson.

Marco Island realtors celebrated the season and installed their 2015 officers and directors last week during an elegant dinner and awards presentation at Hideaway Beach Club. Susan Ackerson accepted the gavel as the organization’s incoming president, a position she also held in 2010.

“It is such an honor to have the opportunity to serve this association as your president…I know that we have work to do; it will go smoothly because of the people involved. The directors and officers of this association are dedicated to making the right decisions that are fair to all involved,” Ackerson said. Among her goals for 2015, Ackerson urged her fellow realtors to become more politically involved, especially when it deals with private property rights. She also wants to see local realtors become more involved in business issues and create a “greater awareness among our realtors of our environment.”

Realtor of the Year presented by Bill Filbin to Jim McGregor.

“I would like our Professional Development Committee to seek out ways that our realtors can be good stewards of our environment through volunteerism locally. We are, after all, the 2014 number one island in the US because of our beautiful environment.” In her closing remarks, Ackerson invited members who have been on the sidelines to become more active in the association. “We need to facilitate new members stepping up to leadership roles. When it is possible, it is important that we look for ways to nurture our future leaders.”

Ackerson takes over from Bette McGilvray, whose theme for her term was “professionalism through education signifies a Marco Island realtor.” Formation of a Professional Development Committee for Marco Island realtors, support of the Marco Island Marriott expansion and the drafting of a rental ordinance through a realtor-led task force are several accomplishments noted in 2014 under McGilvray’s leadership.

Filling out the 2015 leadership team roster is Dick Shanahan, president elect and Michael O’Rourke, secretary/treasurer. Directors include Ian Clausen, Michael J. Vale and Ron Webster, RSN representative, whose one-year terms expire in 2015; Ralph Iorio and Christine Waldren, whose two-year terms expire in 2016; and Mike Boland, Gary Elliott and George Percel, whose three-year terms expire in 2017.

The awards presentation became a McGregor family affair with Jim McGregor named REALTOR of the Year and his son Reilly McGregor accepting the Robbie Clark award. Marv Needles was named Realtor Emeritus. Dawn Norgren accepted two awards: Affiliate of the Year and Unsung Hero award. Elliott and Kandy Sweeney took home the President’s Special Awards.


Sun, 12/14/2014 - 8:21pm

Zoe L. Webb, a veteran of Word War II, died Wed., Nov. 26, at 5:05 AM. She was 92.

Zoe’s childhood was uncomfortable, and as an only child, her dog took the place of the siblings she never had. It traveled with her everywhere. When World War II broke out in 1939, Zoe was due to go to a “ladies finishing school” in Switzerland, but instead realized an unquestionable opportunity.

With her dog in tow, Zoe ran away from home to join the Royal Air Force at the age of 17. The British military was desperate for personnel at the time, and as Zoe was tall and looked much older than her years, no one asked to see her birth certificate.

Still, she never fully adapted to life in the ranks and failed to imagine how different life would be from the luxuries of home. This conflict created an inner determination to succeed, and at the age of 19, Zoe earned a full commission in the RAF.

All the while, Zoe’s dog remained a constant. In the ranks, the night shift was entertained by rats running all through the Nissan huts — something she would not accept — so she convinced her commanding officer to have her dog be with her when she was on duty. Wherever Zoe was transferred, the dog was kenneled nearby, and in her off-duty hours, she would walk the dog.

As a code and cypher officer, Zoe was assigned to Whitehall in London, the center of the British government, and working in a bunker 50 feet below the ground. With her associates, she supplied Winston Churchill with all of the information possible about the war effort, both German and Allied forces, 24 hours a day.

In 1942, she married a Canadian Spitfire pilot, and in 1943 because she was pregnant, was forced to resign her commission. Her husband was reassigned to Canada to train pilots for the invasion of Japan, and Zoe sailed on the Queen Mary with more than 12,000 troops across U-Boat infested waters to New York.

After four years of blitz and blackout in England, Zoe stayed up all night on the train from New York to Toronto, absolutely fascinated by the lights of towns and villages. She had not seen a street light on in four years.

As for her beloved four-legged friend, it could make the trip across the Atlantic with her, as pets were not allowed on the troop ships. This broke Zoe’s heart.

Zoe and her husband, Barry, settled on Marco Island in 1972, and have been full-time residents ever since. They were part of the sales team at Century 21 First Southern Trust. Barry and Zoe were married for 43 years, after a chance meeting while both were living in Nassau, Bahamas, in the late 1960s.

Zoe is survived by Barry; her two daughters, Suzanne Pope and Margo Liebers; her grandson, Guy Cooper; and one great-grandson and two great-great-grandchildren.

“Zoe always put herself last and everyone else first,” Barry says of his wife.

Zoe’s funeral will be held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on March Island on Mon., Dec. 15, at 3 PM. In lieu of flowers, Barry asks that donations be made to The Heart Foundation in Zoe’s name.