Syndicate content
Updated: 12 hours 38 min ago

Mackle Park Referendum: Island Parks & Rec Foundation Rallies Support

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 6:09am

By Noelle H. Lowery

The Kids

Greg West is no stranger to the Mackle Park Community Center referendum, which is set for a vote in the Aug. 26 election. Until recently, West served as the chairman of the city of Marco Island’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC), and was one of the masterminds behind the committee’s marketing plan for the new community center.

Now, as the president of the Island Parks & Recreation Foundation Inc., West is pulling out all of the stops for one final push to raise the community’s awareness and favor for a new Mackle Park Community Center. In fact, he and Dr. Jerry Swiacki, who is a Foundation member and a member of PRAC, recently met with the board of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce to launch the effort.

“We feel confident that this is going to go in our favor, but there are still a lot of questions out there. We want to help answer them,” says West.

The Foundation’s efforts will include the circulation of a marketing packet, advertising in various local publications and having local businesses and residents display signs showing their support. “Our target demographic is the young families on the island. They need to go out and vote,” West notes.

The Foundation’s public endorsement of the Mackle Park plan comes on the heels of the mailing of the city’s informational brochure asking residents how they will vote during the Aug. 26 election on the Mackle Park Community Center referendum.

The brochure is chock-full of information, and adds to the city’s efforts to inform the voting public and clarify misinformation circulated in the community.

“Shall the city expend up to $3.5 million to construct a new community center up to 16,000 square feet at Mackle Park?”

Dr. Gerry Swiacki speaking on the building of a Community Center. FILE PHOTOS

Creating the plan

It is an answer that is a long-time coming. After all, a Master Plan for improvements to the entire Mackle Park campus was introduced in 2005. Four of the five phases of the plan have been completed to the tune of $2.5 million. The only remaining component is the community center.

To be sure, most agree something needs to be done with the current 25-year-old community center. The 8,000-square-foot building was built in 1986 by Collier County, and is horribly out of compliance with the building code, ADA regulations and current flood codes. Everything — front door, the electrical systems, air conditioning, leaky roof — needs major work. Renovating the center has been estimated at $500,000, and city officials agree that a renovation would not fix all of the problems.

When the initial concept of redeveloping the community center surfaced, the proposal included a two-story, 40,000-square-foot building that included classrooms, a teaching kitchen, an indoor track and gymnasium. Dubbed by many “The Taj Mahal,” this plan carried a hefty price tag of $6 million and a creative financing plan that incorporated a public-private partnership with a 12-year lease-purchase agreement at $600,000 annually. The bill would be paid through property taxes.

Last year, former Marco Island Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk and city staff whittled away and away and away and away at the design, resulting in the current two-phase, 16,070-square-foot concept. Phase one consists of an 8,736-square-foot building, which will include a central lobby, reception and staff area; restrooms; two programs rooms; adult game room; and a 2,900-square-foot community room. It has been designed contiguous to the existing community center. Phase two includes razing the existing community center and the construction of a 7,334-square-foot building with an identical floor plan to phase one.

Marketing and pricing

Still, the marketing efforts by the Foundation and the city are not the first for the Mackle Park plan. In January, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee set out on a marketing campaign to educate Marco Islanders on the plan, including a four-pronged approach of the Farmers’ Market, community events, civic organizations and business groups. First, committee members manned the Parks and Rec booth at the Farmers’ Market every Wednesday to answer questions and talk to residents about the plan for Mackle Park. They also took the plan to community events, and made presentations to Marco Island’s various civic and business groups.

As the committee garnered more support, the price tag question was answered. In March, Parks and Recreation Administrative and Facilities Manager Alex Galiana and City Manager Roger Hernstadt researched pricing by comparing Marco’s plan to similar community center projects in Southwest Florida. Here is what they found:

• Collier County approved $2.24 million for the new 11,558-square-foot Eagle Lakes Community Center in east Naples, or $194 per square foot.

• Brian Howell with Naples-based Phoenix Associates of South Florida Inc., a construction and engineering firm, confirmed that a figure between $190 and $200 per square foot would be sufficient to build Marco Island’s current community center with no gymnasium.

• According to W. Jeffrey Mudgett, a principal with Parker/Mudgett/Smith Architects Inc. in Fort Myers, the ares of the new 30,000-square-foot North Fort Myers Recreation Center that did not include an enclosed gymnasium cost Lee County just $162 per square foot. The current Mackle Park design concept is based on the plans for this new rec center. Mudgett suggested Marco Island add 5 percent to account for increases in market costs along with a $5 per square foot premium because construction costs on Marco are higher than those in the middle of Lee County. The price: $175 per square foot, or $2.8 million for the 16,000-square-foot building with no contingencies, furnishing or accessories.

In the end, Galiana and Hernstadt settled on a $3.5 million price tag for a “traditional” construction method and pricing of $200 per square foot plus a 9 percent contingency, and this is the plan Marco Island residents will vote up or down on Aug. 26.



Hiking with Henry Lowe: North of the Isles of Capri

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 6:04am

Craig Woodward

The Lowe Family c. 1947 Back Row: Deaconess Harriett Bedell, daughter Charlotte, unknown priest, George and Frances Lowe. Front Row: sons, Henry, Jim, Jon and Glenn. SUBMITTED PHOTO

A conversation led to my taking a walk in the woods with Henry Lowe accompanied by Steve Purcell. We were on an expedition to hike the 1912 old Marco Road and seek out the location where Henry had lived as a child. Armed with bug spray, we headed north of Capri Boulevard and followed a hiking trail into the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Preserve. We quickly found that the trail was not used much as we were forced to climb over fallen trees, push through dense brush and fight heavy vines. Henry pointed out broken clam shells, purposely put there, making no doubt that we were on the roadbed of the old Marco Road. Realizing that no known clam factory had been located north of us, it led to the conclusion that the clams used to fortify the road must have been brought in by vehicles that crossed the Marco River from the Doxsee Clam Factory, which opened in 1910. Near the road were narrow canals and ponds full of standing water, dug to create the slight rise we were standing on above the adjacent grade. Walking up the old Marco Road gave me a creepy feeling as I recalled a story I had written for this newspaper of Deputy J.H. Cox and his wife and two children being led to their deaths by bootleggers who had taken them up this same road in February of 1925.

As we headed east, Henry began to reminisce about his family and what life had once been like. Henry’s mother, Frances (McVeigh), had previously been married and had a daughter Charlotte, when in 1937 she married George Henry Lowe, Jr. George and Frances married to the disapproval of both of their parents, so after Henry was born on December 29, 1938, in Seffner, Florida (near Tampa), and before his first birthday, the family of four moved to this homestead. The move had been prompted by George getting a job with Tommie Barfield to tend bees and collect honey. It was a good job in the middle of the Great Depression. The Barfields owned a farm located in the center of Marco Island of about 20 acres (currently in the location of Mackle Park and the streets northeast of it) and they also had bee operations off of the Island. In one good year (1942), they shipped 60,000 pounds of honey.

1940 Old Marco Road Map with today’s U.S. 41 at the top. PHOTO BY JILL SCHMID, ROOKERY BAY

As we walked closer to the location of his old homestead, Henry got more excited pointing out a clearing near where his family had lived. He remembered the clearing as having been a high spot and open with lots of mango and coconut trees. After a search in the bushes, we found the first corner foundation of their home: an “L” shaped tabby mortar footer. Soon we found two other house corners, supporting what had once been a typical Florida cracker home — similar to the few houses that now survive on the east side of north Bald Eagle Drive. Henry was just a baby in diapers when they moved to these woods, and his mother had two children born while they lived here — his brothers Jon and Jim — both delivered by a midwife in this home. At the time, the Lowe’s homesite was very remote as the old Marco Road was no longer passable to the north since the old wooden Mcilvane Bay Bridge had mysteriously burned shortly after the Goodland swing bridge opened in 1938. Henry remembered only one other neighbor, a fisherman who lived in a structure the size of an outhouse north of them on the shore of Mcilvane Bay; they saw very little of him as he usually fished north toward Henderson Creek.

A flood of memories came over Henry when we saw an old fire pit; he related how his older sister, Charlotte, had almost died. The salt water mosquitoes in nearby marshes were almost unbearable so the family kept smudge pots burning continually. The children were raised to know not to stand in a doorway — you were either in or out. Window screens were “painted” with kerosene to keep sand flies (or “no-see-ums”) out. Little Charlotte, around age eight, ran instinctively into the smoke from an outdoor fire to escape the mosquitoes; she had no idea that burning in the fire were mango trees and possibly poison ivy. Toxic smoke overwhelmed her, and Henry relayed that her exposed skin and lungs were immediately enflamed. She almost died, and her mother spent many months nursing Charlotte through recovery. Henry, seeing a coconut tree, remembered that there were happier times as well, and told how he had tried to climb a coconut tree, with a plan to use an umbrella to hook a coconut and pull it off, but both he and his umbrella fell to the ground. Henry did not think that locals made much money by selling mangos or coconuts as every family had plenty of trees. Research later revealed that Sam Williams, who had arrived in the Rookery Bay area in 1882, had many years before planted and established his mango and citrus groves in this area.

We often drive by history, oblivious to what was once around us, yet we rarely give thought to the past or who might have lived there. How many times have you driven Capri Boulevard and never thought twice about it? Yet most of today’s Capri Road was once the principal access to Marco. The old Marco Road (County Road 22) left Capri Blvd heading north and ran west of the current SR 951 to cross Henderson Creek and connect at the northern end to what we know now as Barefoot Williams Road, but previously was called the Belle Meade Rd (C.R.24). A 2003 report done by the State suggested that the old Marco Road is in the location of “an old military or aboriginal trail” shown on a Seminole War map from 1856. In 1915, the old Marco Road was described as being “…a narrow winding road southward to Marco Pass (that) was open at times…,” the major problem being at high tides and during storms water overtopped the road stopping all travel until it drained. This condition prompted the citizens of Marco to support a May 1915 $177,500 bond issue supporting Road and Bridge District #1 to acquire a 50-foot right of way from Ft. Myers to Marco. The bond was also to pay for a graded road between Naples and Marco.

On September 6, 1917, A.H. Andrew, editor of the “American Eagle” newspaper in Estero, decided to walk from Naples to Marco and found 16 bridges before he got to a high wooden bridge at Henderson Creek. He also found that the road would never withstand the pressures of water that were washing out parts of it. He wrote in 1918 that Marco had 15 automobiles, 14 of them Fords; which were a lot of cars considering that Marco Island only had five miles of road and was accessible only via a one-car ferry!

Henry Lowe stands in the location of his old homesite. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Probably the best description of the old Marco Road was in 1921 by naturalist Charles Torrey Simpson who had caught a mail bus from Ft. Myers to get to Caxambas. He found the first part of the trip was through “flatwoods and pines forest,” but further south he found: “The trees were small and thickly set, growing in a muddy sand that … overflowed in wet weather…. A track had been cut out barely wide enough for the passage of a car, and our machine constantly dodged from side to side to avoid the larger trees and stumps. In all my life I never saw a narrower or more zigzag road…The driver ran his car at the rate of twenty miles an hour and the lateral motion made us feel as though we were pygmies shaken in a sieve.” Simpson goes further to state that while the driver clung to the wheel, the five passengers held on to the car and clung to each other, the result being that “we were thrown violently in every direction a dozen times a minute. One of our party, a Florida cracker, dryly remarked after an unusually difficult performance, ‘I reckon thish hyer road is thist nacherly drunk’ (Translated: “I reckon this here road is just naturally drunk!”). Finally, at the end of what is now Isles of Capri Road, they came out “…among buttonwood and mangroves and received a different kind of shaking. We ran on to a novel ferry boat at Marco channel, just big enough to hold an auto with not an inch to spare. The pass was deep and wide and through it the tide swept swiftly. We feared that the little launch which towed us might not be able to perform its task, but after being carried far with the current we got into stiller water and ran to the opposite landing at the pretty village of Marco.” The best part of the trip seems to have been heading south across Marco Island described as, “a run of five miles… through pine forest and the rest over lofty sand dunes… into the little settlement called Caxambas.”

In 1925, due to the political influence of Tommie Barfield, the new Collier County authorized a four-car ferry that was self-powered and carried cars from the Isles of Capri side of the Big Marco River directly across to the landing near the current day docks of Ville de Marco. On the Marco side, the ferry would land, and cars drove down Royal Palm Boulevard located to the west of the Old Marco Inn and east of the old G & G Mercantile Store.

“Hiking with Henry Lowe” to be continued in the next edition.


I want to thank Henry Lowe for his memories and our friendship over many years. In addition, I thank Steve Purcell for his photos and for hiking with us, and also Faye Dickerson Brown for her information on Belle Meade and to Steve Bertone and Jill Schmid of Rookery Bay for their contributions to this article.

Caves of the Yucatan Peninsula and Florida

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 4:59pm

Bob McConville 
Master Naturalist

While riding thru the jungle we saw a small fox. Look to the far left of the photo and you’ll see the fox was staring at a 10 foot boa constrictor! PHOTO BY CATHY PRICE

In early June of this year, my wife, Cathy, and I took the opportunity to visit the Yucatan Peninsula area of Mexico.

The marine life and geology of this region are positively fascinating. In addition to snorkeling with whale sharks — the largest fish on the planet — we ventured inland to Mexico’s jungles to learn more about the ecology. What we found was absolutely surprising.

This portion of the peninsula sits right where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea. The closest land mass is Cuba, and just north of that is the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida. It is closer to Marco Island than any other part of Mexico.

Having lived in Tucson, Arizona, for a few years I am aware of the mountains that separate that state and Mexico. For some reason, I expected the Yucatan to be a similar terrain, but it is not. I felt like I was in one of the more tropical areas of Florida.

In its general geology, Florida is a relatively simply structure. The rocks are primarily of sedimentary origin that consist mostly of limestone, sandstone, shales and clays with the underlying foundation rock being a very massive and thick limestone.

The conditions under which this limestone formed was primarily a clear sea with an abundance of minute organisms. The shells of these small animals as well as shells from larger sea life compressed over thousands of years to form the limestone. Needless to say that the underwater fresh water flow, Florida’s aquifer system, has exploited these porous deposits to form underground rivers, sinkholes and, believe it or not, some very extensive caves in our state.

The Yucatan Peninsula is very similar. It is a limestone base with many, many underground rivers. The sinkholes there are called cenotes (say-NO-tays), and they were the primary source of fresh water for early inhabitants. Since the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea are salt water and there are no rivers on the surface of the peninsula, these cenotes are still a key to survival.

In both Florida and the Yucatan, the limestone is very soluble in water and has formed many caves and sinkholes. Over the course of thousands of years, these caves emptied their water content. Basically, as rainwater fell over a cave and trickled through the rocks, it picked up carbon dioxide and minerals from limestone, and the calcium carbonate caused formations on the cave roof called stalactites (in Greek, this means “to drip”). As water continued to drip, the length and thickness of the calcite grew, but it took a very long time for stalactites to form as they only grew anywhere from a quarter inch to one inch every 100 years. They are still growing today.

In addition to stalactites, there are formations on the ground that emerge called stalagmites. These are formed by the water dripping from the end of a stalactite that falls to the cave floor causing the calcite to create a mound. Soon after a stalagmite will form a cone-like shape. Sometimes the two will join together to create a column.

Helpful hint: Stalactites have a “c” and are found on the cave “ceiling”; stalagmites have a “g” and are on the “ground.”

Because of the types of plants, rocks and minerals on the surface, the water that drips with these items to create the stalactites can cause a variety of colors such as milky whites, golds, reds, grays and a variety of browns.

In the Yucatan, there are thousands of sinkholes, and according to The Aquifer System Research Center, the longest underground river in the world has been discovered here. It flows more than 95 miles. The cavernous rooms found here are simply majestic.

In Florida, there are more than 20 caves with a length of one mile or more, the longest being 18 miles. You can view stalactities and stalagmites at Florida Caverns State Park near Marianna. Like most caves of this nature, it is a series of connected rooms, and the features here will rival those seen at the famous Mammoth Cave and Carlsbad Caverns.

Limestone is the geological basis for both the jungle-like Mexican Peninsula and the multi-faceted Florida landscape — two regions so diverse yet so much the same. An underground freshwater system that provides life-giving nourishment for two completely different ecosystems, or are they?


Bob is the owner of Steppingstone Ecotours and a member of the Dolphin Explorer’s dolphin research team. He is part of Leadership Marco 2014 and Bob loves his wife very much!


Fishing the 10,000 in July

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 4:54pm

Capt. Pete Rapps

Kyle with a little Permit.

Here in the Ten Thousand Islands, the weather in July is somewhat predictable, as are the fishing patterns. Expect the bite to drop off during the mid-day heat and slack tides. The bite is early in the day, and again late in the afternoon/early evening after the mid-day storms cool things off a little.

Day time air temperatures are now hovering around 90 degrees each day, bringing the water temperatures up to 87 degrees.

Anglers can get into some nice snook on the outside islands. Top water plugs and suspended soft plastic artificials will produce some nice morning action. Of course, nothing beats a livewell full of pilchards and thread fin herring. You can live chum with a handful of these guys; then follow up with a nice one on your hook.

The trout bite will remain steady. They are generally smaller than the winter trout, but are around in good numbers. They will take anything from a live shrimp to a buck tail jig to a topwater plug. Fish early on the incoming tide for your best results. You can count on the redfish to take a 3-inch Gulp shrimp on a ¼ oz jig head on the last half of the incoming tide around oyster bars or mangrove lined shorelines. Live shrimp under a popping cork works great for reds too.

Triple tail are hanging around markers and structure, and will happily take a live shrimp on a circle hook. Permit and cobia are hanging around offshore structure. Bring some small silver dollar sized crabs with you for the permit. Cast net some nice 6-inch mullet to present to the cobia.

Mangrove snapper are larger in size than most of the year and are hungry for a live shrimp around the Mangrove roots. Shark are all over the place and love ladyfish. Some tarpon will be around on the flats early in the morning and in the evening. They are looking for live ladyfish and mullet. Be sure to use a heavy wire leader!

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 


Tue, 07/22/2014 - 4:46pm

Vickie Kelber

The South terrace of the Main House. PHOTOS BY VICKIE KELBER

Vizcaya, the former villa and estate of John Deering in the Coconut Grove section of Miami, had been on my list of places to visit in Florida for more than 10 years. I kept putting it off, and then Hurricane Wilma struck, bringing $3 million damage to the gardens, art work and some of the interior. By 2010, the destroyed cafe and shop had reopened, and the gardens and artwork were coming back to life. This past season, I thought the time had finally arrived for my visit.

John Deering was the son of the man who founded the Deering Harvestor Company, which in 1902 was purchased by J.P. Morgan and merged with some other agricultural equipment firms to become the International Harvester Company (IHC). Deering served as vice president of IHC for a period of time until poor health in 1909 led to his retirement from the daily operations. In 1910, he purchased 180 acres along the Biscayne Bay, and from 1914 to 1916, Vizcaya was built.

Deering worked with designers to create an estate modeled after the European villa tradition but incorporating the unique south Florida environment. There were formal and informal gardens, native forest (hammock), and a small “village” of a farm and outbuildings to provide services to Vizcaya. The decorative interior was filled with treasures from the 14th to 19th centuries purchased by Deering in Europe. He had a channel dredged in Biscayne Bay so that ships could deliver these wondrous pieces directly to the villa. In addition to his attention to the artistic details, Deering made certain cutting edge technology was incorporated into his home with items such as central vacuum, refrigeration, central heating, telephone switchboard, elevators, and communication and fire alarm systems.

When Deering, who had never married, died in 1925, the estate was inherited by his two nieces. Storms and time began taking their tolls on Vizcaya and the nieces sold off or donated a sizable portion of the land. In 1952, 50 acres, including the villa, some of the gardens and village were sold to Miami-Dade County for $1million; the nieces donated the furnishings to the county. Vizcaya opened shortly after as the Dade County Art Museum. In 1994, it was put on the National Historic Landmark register, and in 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named it as one of America’s Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places — not due to its vulnerability to hurricanes but because of encroaching high-rise development. It is now operated as the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

This guest bedroom represents the 18th century French interest in Spanish design and allowed access to Mr. Deering’s private bedroom via a balcony. PHOTOS BY BILL SUMNER

The access to Vizcaya traverses a narrow road through the remaining forest to a parking lot, and then people must proceed on foot along the landscaped, fountain bedecked pathway. Entering into the large, center courtyard with its dolphin fountain, it is immediately evident that Deering achieved his goal of Old World Mediterranean elegance combined with Florida’s environment. Once open to the air to catch the breezes, it is now covered by a protective glass dome. Glass doors to one side reveal a panoramic view of Biscayne Bay, while the view through the stained glass to another side is of one of the formal gardens. The floor is made of limestone from a local quarry.

The style of the richly embellished interior is eclectic. One passes from a Rococco room to one that is Baroque, then Renaissance, Neoclassic, and then one with an Asian influence. There are ceilings from Italy, wallpaper from Paris, a Norman fireplace, a 16th century tapestry from Belgium along with hidden passageways, electrified candelabras, a pipe organ that is played daily at 4 PM . There is a carpet that belonged to the grandfather of King Ferdinand, tapestries once owned by Robert Browning, a 2000-year-old Roman artifact, a relic from Pompeii.

The second floor contains Deering’s private suite with view of the Bay, the main guest suite as well as secondary guest bedrooms and baths, a breakfast room overlooking the gardens, and the main kitchen. The kitchen was placed upstairs so that cooking smells would not invade the courtyard. Food was transported down to the first floor serving pantry via an electric dumbwaiter. Two towers above the second floor house additional bedrooms.

Although Deering built the first floor at an elevation of 12 feet due to concern about storm surge, the bowling alley and billiard and smoking rooms were built below. In modern times, they have been turned into the museum’s cafe and shop. Their lower elevation has resulted in their destruction in both hurricanes Andrew and Wilma.

One can spend a great deal of time wandering about the exterior of Vizcaya, and I did just that. The East Terrace has steps that lead down to a walk along Biscayne Bay. To the left, a Venetian bridge, to the right, a filagreed teahouse. In the center, “The Barge”. Designed initially as a breakwater, it is a work of art itself; an ornate sitting or party area with sculptures by A. Stirling Calder, father of Alexander Calder.

The gardens continue a blend of Italian tradition with south Florida environment. Statuary, fountains, pools, grottos, gazebos, bridges, a Casino are all surrounded with lush, manicured subtropical vegetation. There are formal gardens, pocket gardens, an orchidarium.

The Rococo Music Room features walls and ceiling from Lombardy, Italy and a harpsichord from Cortona, Italy, signed and dated 1619.

A location as unique and beautiful as Vizcaya is very popular as a setting for films and photo shoots. The exterior is also a high demand location for weddings and photos commemorating a quinceañera, the celebration of the 15th birthday for many Latin American girls. While there, I noticed one professional model on a shoot and three quinceañeras. The Museum has both a professional photo and personal portrait fee structure.

Vizcaya is noted to be wheelchair accessible, and there is a map of ramps and lifts. There are a lot of stairs and uneven floors and grounds. For those unable to travel to Vizcaya, the website offers a virtual tour.

Incidentally, James Deering’s brother, Charles, owned a nearby estate in Palmetto Bay. The Deering Estate at Cutler is also open to the public for touring and other activities including canoe trips. I’ve not visited, but for further information, consult the website

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 Story of the Story of Belle

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 4:40pm

Tara O’Neill

I haven’t seen the movie “Belle,” but I can tell you it is a testament to the power of art. It’s a period film rich with elegant costumes and lavish sets embodying the true story of a mixed-race daughter of a British admiral who became an unwitting force of change in 18th century societal mores and instigated the end of slavery in the British Empire.

A fascinating story — tremendous, really — but for me the more interesting tale is how the story came to be told, and the movie made. So here it is:

A young British college student of Nigerian descent, Misan Sagay, encounters an obscure painting while touring a Scottish palace. A playful portrait of two affectionate sisters in lavish dress would probably not have stood out, except one of the women is black. Sagay admits to being stunned. Black people in 1779, when the painting was commissioned, usually played the role of a prop for the all-white personalities. These women had a relationship. There must be a story. Oh, was there ever a story.

The painting is of Lady Elizabeth Murray and Dido Elizabeth Belle; the identity of the artist is currently in dispute. It so intrigued Sagay that it drove her deep into the castle’s dusty and dank archives to research the work, and what she uncovered would years later result in a screenplay written on spec by Sagay, and a movie directed by Amma Asante.

Now really, can you imagine being so moved by a painting as to devote years to uncovering its backstory? I have to be honest; this is not a genre that attracts me. I probably would have walked by with only a cursory glance. I say this with great shame because I do love art history and the history that art can invoke, but just how much have I missed by limiting myself to my own predilections? Granted, if I came upon an 18th century painting of a round-faced, pasty-white, freckled Irish lass surrounded by her ethnic opposites, I would probably go to the trouble of googling it for more info…but dusty dank barely legible archives? Maybe not so much.

Sister Wendy, the pride of BBC art histories, tells us that to spend less than an hour with any work of art is to not have seen it at all. I adore Sister Wendy, and she quite possibly may be right. I would say that you can see a lot in less time, but no, you could not possibly know it.

So, with so much great art out there, what’s an art lover to do? I mean, there’s only so many hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a year, and the opportunities to immerse yourself in art. Do we try to view as much as we can in the time allotted us? Go for quantity? Or do we only pick those few that touch us there and uncover all we can about them and their creators and reach for quality time? I must admit, I’m starting to lean towards the latter. Beloved works of art can become as friends. Would you prefer 100 acquaintances or six true and great friends?

I salute Misan Sagay for her tenacity and for her inspiration to look a little closer. I very much look forward to seeing “Belle,” though before then I am pledged to spend much time engaged with the painting that inspired the movie.

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

Home Remedies, Myths or Facts?

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 4:35pm

Mike Malloy

Horn worm

There is a saying that insects will inherit the earth. Well, in Florida they already have so we better just get over it.

You aren’t the only one looking forward to harvest time in your flower and vegetable gardens, so are your neighbors. I’m referring to insects, of course. And, you don’t want to be hosting a veggie buffet for all the bugs in your neighborhood.

Sure, there are effective pesticides that will quickly rid your garden of these hungry invaders, but before resorting to harsh chemicals, why not give some of these popular home remedies a try. Most were passed down through generations in my family, and the rest I picked up during long chats with fellow gardeners.

Romaine lettuce

At dusk, place Romaine lettuce at the base of plants with obvious snail damage. In the morning, gently retrieve the snail-covered lettuce and toss out.

Chicken grit

Sprinkle chicken grit at the base of snail-infested plants. When snails slide or move across it, the course texture cuts them, and they subsequently die. An elderly lady shared this tip with me, and claimed she’s never had reason to use toxic snail and slug baits in her garden.

Pickle juice

Before discarding your used dill pickle jars, pour the remaining juice around your gardenias to promote flowering. Just one more reason to polish off another tasty jar of pickles.


If you’ve been growing tomatoes for a while, you’ve probably heard that marigolds help repel garden insects. Common knowledge is that if you plant them around your tomato plants, hornworm moths will become confused, and lay their eggs elsewhere.


Try planting garlic around blueberries, raspberries and roses. The strong scent is said to be an effective beetle repellent.

Lavendar (lavendula angustifolia)


Plant lavender around your leaf crops, and its intense scent should eliminate any problems you’re having with white flies and aphids. Definitely bring some inside, too, and your house will smell heavenly for weeks.


A personal favorite of mine, and, not just on my plate with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and garlic. Basil is also said to repel white flies, aphids and spider mites from garden tomatoes.


The strong smell of dill is believed to repel many insects. It is also the host plant (a plant female adult butterflies lay their eggs on) to the Black Swallowtail — one of Florida’s most beautiful butterflies and one of 10 varieties of swallowtails in Florida.

Funny story: One Friday night a while back, a friend of mine decided to chop up some fresh dill and sprinkle it into his homemade sauce. He put the remaining dill in a glass of water and left it on the kitchen counter. Then, he left town for the weekend. Upon returning home on Monday, he found mysterious black droppings all over his kitchen counter. Unfortunately for my friend, his fresh dill was infested with Black Swallowtail eggs. The eggs, of course, hatched into caterpillars. The hungry caterpillars proceeded to eat the dill, and soon after relieved themselves on his kitchen counter. Guess what the secret ingredient was in the sauce!

Peppermint (Mentha pulegium)


Planting nasturtiums alongside cucumber vines is widely thought to repel hungry leaf-eating beetles. Their bright leaves and vibrant flowers make eye-catching potted plants. Nasturtiums are edible, too, with a somewhat peppery taste.


Plant catnip between rows of radishes and eggplant, and say goodbye to pesky beetles. Share some with your cat, and you’ll have one happy cat. Seriously, cats love this stuff!


Planting parsley in your asparagus beds will help repel hungry asparagus beetles. Did you know that this pretty plate garnish is also very nutritious?

Most people don’t realize that 99 percent of the bugs in their garden are beneficial. Unfortunately, applying pesticides will kill the good bugs right along with the bad.


These past few years, Naples has been experiencing a white fly epidemic. The good news is that ladybugs, or lady beetles as they are called, have proven to be super white fly predators. In fact, I release 5,000 ladybugs into my garden every spring, which has all but eliminated unwanted pests. Last year, however, I had to release a few thousand more mid-season, which still beats dousing my garden with harsh chemicals.

I readily admit that these home remedies for your garden have not been scientifically proven. Nonetheless, there are legions of seasoned gardeners out there who swear by them. Give them a try, and you be the judge. If nothing else, companion plantings will add splashes of color and interest to your vegetable garden.

Like I always say, time spent in your garden is never time wasted. It’s supposed to be fun not experimental physics, and if nothing works, you are not harming anything.



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,

Fighting a Boat Fire

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 4:24pm

By Lt. Bill Hempel 
United States Power Squadrons

In Florida, a 64-foot yacht that was ravaged by fire burned to the waterline. Follow up stories reported that the boat was presenting a hazard to navigation and was later towed to a nearby marina to be salvaged. There are a few lessons we can learn from this incident.

Obviously, one lesson is to take all of the steps necessary to prevent fire, but when such a yacht is ravaged by fire, we can see just how horrific and all-consuming a boat fire can be. Fortunately, the subject boat was near the coast, where good Samaritans quickly rescued all on board; but had the fire occurred further off shore, the results might have been tragic.

Another positive lesson is the fact that the captain put life jackets on all crew and ordered them overboard. In spite of the romantic notion that a captain goes down with his ship or never gives up the battle to save the boat, this captain did exactly the right thing by abandoning ship. It is always a tough decision to quit fighting a fire and to watch your beloved boat burn to the waterline, but once there is any doubt about putting the fire out, cease all attempts, get your life-jacketed crew overboard, and get as far away as possible before the fire finds any fuel aboard and explodes.

Never overestimate your ability to fight a fire on board a boat. At the first sign of fire have all persons don their life jackets and have someone immediately place a distress call on VHF channel 16. At the same time, display all of your visual distress signals.

Even if the fire is simply a curtain or hot pad smoldering in the galley, it is always better to err on the safe side and apologize for your actions afterwards. A boat fire can grow out of control quickly, and access to life jackets may be blocked. All hands may be too busy or panicked to stop and call for help, or wiring may burn through, rendering all of your electronics unusable.

When all hands have their life jackets on, move them to the farthest area away from the fire. Then turn the boat to keep the flames from blowing back towards the unaffected area. If you are a safe captain, you will know the proper type of fire extinguisher to use for gasoline, alcohol or electrical fires. You also will know the proper way to discharge the extinguisher, and how to aim it at the fire base and to hit it with sweeping short bursts.

Standing on a burning deck is not the time to learn that some extinguishers require shaking or inverting before they will function. Fire prevention and fire emergency training are just a small portion of the lessons taught by the United States Power Squadrons in safe boating classes. Hone up on your boating skills and select a boating safety class. Contact the local unit — Marco Island Sail & Power Squadron — at 239-393-0150 or visit it on the web at

The members of the United States Power Squadrons always remind us: “Boating is fun…We’ll show you how!”

Supreme Justice

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 4:22pm

Maggie Gust

By Max Allan Collins
Thomas & Mercer, 2014
336 pages

“I always turn to the sports page first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”Earl Warren, 14th Chief Justice, SCOTUS


Someone is assassinating the justices of the Supreme Court in this nifty little thriller set in the future, circa 2030. “Summertime and the readin’ is easy” to paraphrase that famous Gershwin tune. “Supreme Justice” was quite a delightful surprise. I was hooked by the end of the first chapter.

Joe Reeder, CEO of ABC Security, is a former Secret Service agent who once took a bullet for the president of the United States, a man whom he personally despised. A month after his return to duty following extensive physical therapy, he put in his resignation, citing frustration with politics of the agency as the reason. Needless to say, this alienated him from pretty much everyone in the agency. Reeder is an expert in kinesics, reading people’s body movements and even their posture and facial expressions. He is drawn into the assassination investigation after a D.C. homicide detective phones him after the first justice, Henry Venter, is gunned down in the bar of a restaurant while having a drink with one of his law clerks. It is purportedly part of a two-man robbery spree which has plagued the surrounding area for a couple of months.

However, Carl Bishop, the DC detective, asks Reeder to take a look at the video footage and work his mojo. Since Reeder’s firm handles security for the restaurant where Venter was killed, he queues it up and after several views, realizes that Justice Venter, already being a hailed hero in the media for supposedly saving his clerk’s life, was actually trying to make a break for the fire door and get o-u-t. He also notices some deliberate behavior on the part of the two “robbers,” which indicate they were there strictly to murder the justice and the robbery and terrorization of the customers was just cover.


This is the outline of the situation that gets Reeder back into working with federal law enforcement. He eventually winds up on a task force, as a consultant, working for the FBI, who take over the case from the D.C. police. Reeder is appointed by the assistant director of the FBI herself and will be working under the lead, his former partner, Gabe Sloan. Sloan and Reeder are godfathers to each other’s daughters and go way back. Sloan partners Reeder with Patti Rogers, who has been Sloan’s partner for the past couple of years. These relationships are important to how the story develops.

Things amp up when just a few days after Henry Venter was killed, a second justice, Rodolfo Gutierrez, is murdered in his backyard while putting out birdfeed. So many things at the scene do not make sense on initial viewing. Venter was African American; Gutierrez is Latino – were they killed by some ultraconservative hate group because they were racial minorities or killed because they were politically conservative, taken out by someone hating the reversal of Roe v Wade? The only thing the task force is sure of at this point is that Venter’s death was an assassination and the robbery was just a cover. At this point, they finally realize that all the living justices need 24/7 security.

It was exciting and entertaining enough to keep me turning the pages. A plus is that the reader gets nice little history lessons throughout the book. Each chapter is introduced with a quotation from either a former Supreme Court justice or a former President, a nice touch I thought.

The author, Max Allan Collins, wrote “The Road To Perdition,” which was made into a movie starring Tom Hanks (they changed the ending drastically for the movie). He has written dozens of other novels as well, so if his name is familiar to you, you likely are a mystery lover. As you can see by the publisher, Thomas and Mercer, this is an Amazon book. As I write this article, the book is available only in e-book, paperback and audio formats, but by July 1, it should be available in hardback, according to the author’s website.

Like a cold fruit salad on a hot July day, “Supreme Justice” is light but satisfying. I rate it at 3.75 out of 5.


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: 

Beat the Bloat!

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 3:34pm

Crystal Manjarres

Summer is officially here, and with it comes beer bellies and bikinis — two things that don’t belong in the same sentence. Take some time to plan ahead this summer for get-togethers, cookouts and lazy beach days, and you’ll feel good no matter if you wear a swimsuit or not.

To avoid the dreaded bulge, belly or bloat (or all three), adopt some of these tips:

Have healthy snacks handy: Do this, and when temptation comes your way, you won’t even think twice about reaching for your healthy fare. I suggest loading up on good-for-you-treats that you actually like so that you won’t be miserably munching on celery while your husband is chowing down on a triple dipped ice-cream waffle cone. Some of my favorites include: watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, oranges, mangoes, carrots with hummus, banana with peanut butter, apples or throwing it all together with some kale and spinach for a summer smoothie!

Scorn the Sodium: This is a flat tummy’s worst enemy! Avoid sneaky sauces, condiments, salad dressings, and double check labels when available. It goes without saying that eating out is a sodium disaster, but if you have to, load up on raw veggies and/or fruit, and leave off the sauce for your proteins. Also, trade your salad dressing for olive oil and lemon instead of what the restaurant offers. If you still retain water, flush it out with potassium rich foods — which are listed next.

Pass the Potassium Please: Some higher protein potassium foods consist of beans and fish, while some superstar veggies are swiss chard, spinach, squash (acorn and hubbard, respectively), and believe it or not baked potato and sweet potato top the list. Some lesser-known are artichokes and white mushrooms, although not as high potassium-wise as the aforementioned. Some noteworthy fruits are: dried fruits such as apricots, prunes, and raisins (just limit your portion to a half cup — the calories can really add up); bananas (the obvious choice); a half cup of avocado’ and a glass of orange juice. My personal fave is coconut water (with pineapple). Yum!

So there ya have it! Some super easy tricks and tips to help you tweak your diet so that you can have your flattest tummy while still enjoying your summer foods. Amp up the water intake and add exercise for even hotter results — pun intended. If you need me, I’m just an email away!


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.

MIWC Donates Bench

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 3:33pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

The Marco Island Women’s Club (MIWC) donated a park bench to the Veterans Memorial. Members of the club gathered recently at a dedication of the bench. Lee Rubenstein, head of the Veterans Memorial fundraising committee, explained to the women present how a nine-foot-tall bronze American Bald Eagle will sit atop of the Freedom Fountain. Rubenstein is past commander of the local VFW and present commander of the local American Legion branch.

The Freedom Fountain will be built at the Memorial’s entrance, joining the Flag Plaza where the American, Marco Island, state of Florida and POW/MIA flags fly above the brick paver plaza. The plaza is accented by a planter bench at the center and commemorative benches along the perimeter. This is where the MIWC bench is located.

Lee said, “It is contributions like yours that will help us finish the flag plaza which is part two of the Memorial. The last piece to the puzzle will be the Memorial’s Freedom Fountain. The fountain is a $220,000 project, and we have raised about $115,000 so far. On behalf of the committee, we thank you very much.”

New MIWC President Sharyn Kampmeyer said: “It is an honor for us today, and appropriate we are doing it this week with the Fourth of July. The holiday represents freedom and what all these people who served our country gave their lives for — to give us the life that we have today. So thank you very much.”

Ladies from the club proceeded to CJ’s on the Bay for their monthly luncheon meeting.

The Summer Triangle

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 3:22pm

By Mike P. Usher

We talk about the Summer Triangle consisting of Vega, Altair and Deneb from time to time and once again it is high in the east. This asterism is a relatively recent invention popularized by Sir Patrick Moore about 60 years ago.

The three stars of the Summer Triangle are buried deep in the Milky Way, and their constellations are rich in Deep Sky objects. But before looking for any of them, examine the shape of the Milky Way itself. If you are at a dark sky site, you can’t help but notice the Milky Way is not a continuous stream, but is in fact rather irregular in shape. In particular, between Cygnus and Aquila there is a dark streak largely devoid of stars. This is the Great Rift — not really a starless region but a vast dust cloud that blocks the starlight behind it.

Rather than hunt for a particular Deep Sky object with your binoculars, lay down on a lawn chair with them and sweep the sky along the length of the Milky Way. There is nothing like the thrill of discovery! Most of the Deep Sky objects seen in this area of the sky are known as open or galactic clusters. These are groups of stars of perhaps a dozen to several hundred that were born at nearly the same time and are still associated with each other. Our Sun was born in such a cluster long ago, now dispersed. Open clusters are short-lived objects perhaps lasting no more than 100 million years before gravitational forces from the rest of the galaxy pry them apart. Somewhere in the sky tonight are the long lost siblings of the Sun.

Such a sibling has just been found! It’s marked in the chart tonight by a large circle just above Vega. It’s only a 6.5 magnitude star, just below naked eye visibility, but easy to spot with binoculars. The star (called HIP 87382 by one popular catalog) is slightly larger than our Sun and has no known planets — but their possible existence has not been ruled out. The things that identify the star as related to us are that it has exactly the same chemical composition as our parent star and is the same age. At 110 light years the star is amazingly close. Members of our birth cluster have had time to be scattered across half the galaxy.

See you next time!


Mr. Usher is a Director of the Everglades Astronomical Society, which meets the second Tuesday each month at 7 PM in the Norris Center, Cambier Park, Naples

Follow Your Dreams — To Africa (Part II)

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 2:16pm

By Carol Glassman

An up close and personal view of a pride of lions.

We were greeted at the Victoria Falls Hotel by staff bearing mint-scented wet cloths and cold juice drinks. From the hotel’s garden, one sees mist rising from the Falls in the distance, while everything from baboons to wild boars and even elephants roam the grounds. We were asked to keep doors locked at all times, as baboons are smart enough to open doors and trash rooms looking for food.

The hotel is a wonderful example of old Colonial charm, a remnant of earlier days. It is beautifully maintained with manicured gardens and immaculate rooms. A huge bed, an overhead fan swinging lazily and billowing mosquito netting, make one want to sleep immediately, but no, there was a surprise in store for us.

We were taken to the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust Elephant Sanctuary where no more than 18 animals are kept at one time with 70 trained handlers in totally natural surroundings. They began with a few orphans, and as they grew up and reproduced, the number grew. They study them scientifically and the chief handler and trainer is a bundle of energy and knowledge. They also keep a rather vicious cheetah that does respond to its handlers. After an entertaining talk, we met the elephants who all have names, and had an opportunity to feed them, either by tossing food pellets into their mouths or allowing them to vacuum food from our hands into their trunks.

We were served an elegant dinner in an outdoor kiosk, plying a lot of “pinch me” to remind ourselves we were in the wilds of Africa! Seeing a huge hooded cobra from the bus reminded us of this fact.

Everywhere in Victoria Falls, the earth vibrates from the waterfall — one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Standing 300 feet high Victoria Falls has the largest sheet of falling water in the world with more than 144,000 gallons per minute cascading over the rocky cliffs. Prior to explorer David Livingstone’s discovery of the Falls, they were known by the resident Kololo people as “The Smoke that Thunders.”

At the Falls entrance our guide explained the paths, made sure we were provided with slickers, and led us off to trek around the Falls. Figuring I would either get soaked from exposure to the Falls or from wearing a heavy rubber slicker, I chose the former. After a few hours of walking, my mind was reeling with the stunning natural sights, and I was in danger of losing my pants which had become soaked with mist from the Falls. I was almost blinded by the constant stream of water running from my hair to my eyes. I kept my camera in my pocket, hoping to keep it dry while whipping it out for quick photos.

We had the rest of the afternoon free to dry off and wander around the town. Some of the people in the group left for Pretoria by train, and as the station is in the hotel lobby, all they had to do was walk across the street where a red carpet was rolled out whenever a train arrived at or left the station.

Our next treat was a Zambezi Sundowner Cruise, filled with spectacular views of singing hippo pods and a sunset in which the deep oranges and reds challenged any artist’s palette.

An overnight stay in the magnificent hotel and spa in Johannesburg, The Fairlawns, was next. We were greeted outside the hotel by staff all decked out in black sleek suits, starched white shirts and undertaker ties. They handed us minty-fresh damp towels and led us to a table of fresh juices and fruit kebabs. All very soft spoken, they took us to rooms where everything from wine and sherry to nut brittle, plums, apples and the whole wet bar was gratis. Every suite in the hotel is decorated in a different style, and I got “The Miami,” done in opulent Art Deco, quite a change from the Colonial safari style at Victoria Falls. My only thought was: “Too bad it’s only for one night.”

We met for cocktails and the announcement of a guest speaker before dinner. We prepared to nap through this but were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves sitting on the edges of our chairs as Robin Binckes, not your conventional author (“Canvas Under the Sky,” “Great Trek Uncut”) or Afrikaans tourist guide spoke of the sometimes chilling history of South Africa up to the present day.

We tore ourselves away from this beautiful place the next morning, and boarded a small plane for Hoedspruit, a tiny airbase of the South African Air Force located adjacent to Greater Kruger National Park. Talk about contrasts! The final leg of our journey was to spend five days at Tintswalo Lodge, with twice-daily guided land safaris in and around the Park.

Our guide who looked after us from Cape Town departed, and we met our new guides from Tintswalo Lodge. Loaded in two SUVs with the usual cold drinks, we drove for an hour. Greeted at the Lodge again by refreshing scented cloths, we walked down an elevated wooden path to a beautiful deck overlooking a pond. In the lobby, we were assigned our huts. I was given “The Stanley,” a bungalow-like stone structure with its own deck and hot tub. With all the baboons around, I knew I wouldn’t use that! When I walked in and saw the interior, I anted to move in permanently — spacious, modern, beautifully finished in African safari style. Only during daylight may we walk alone. The rest of the time we have to call for a guide as there are predators everywhere.

We were served high tea on the deck at 4 PM, which was more than enough for a full meal, and then we met our guide and tracker for the week, Fritz and Mojo. We set out on our first safari, and immediately saw springbok, buffalo and a herd of zebras. Fritz is a real Afrikaans cowboy behind the wheel, while Moho sits strapped to a seat above the left fender, tracking and sighting — it gives real meaning to the phrase “riding gunshot.” If an animal should attack, he is in a very vulnerable position. By about 5 PM, it got dark, and a cold front was moving in. I was glad I had grabbed a light sweater, but wished it were a ski jacket by the time we got back at 7:30 PM when it was cold! After changing, we enjoyed a Boma dinner outside with lanterns all around long tables and everyone in high spirits.

I knew the next day would be cooler, but with heavy clouds and rain nearby, it was cold. All of us dressed in as many layers as we could. After tea and coffee at 6 AM, we set out with the guide who obviously had a plan, driving along until he sighted blood and tracks. Shortly thereafter we came upon a pride of two female lions and six to eight cubs. There wasn’t much left of a small female steenbok and her fawn the lions had killed. From there, the next plan was to find a large herd of Cape buffalo. Driving around was a blast, if you didn’t get tossed out of the jeep or whipped in the face by overhanging branches. The jeep held nine plus the driver and was well equipped with binoculars, drinks, rifles. Fritz simply blasted off the road, pushing down small trees and bushes, climbing up and down hills into dry wadis and river beds, acting as if he was behind the wheel of a tank or bush hog. He finally found a large herd of about 300-400 buffalo. After observing them for a while, he drove right into the middle where they studied us as we took photos.

A telephoto lens is not required for picture perfect wildlife photography

He then announced it was time for a break, and right in the middle of the field of buffalo cookies (atmosphere, you know) set up a table (with cloth) and served tea, spiked coffee and muffins. Fritz said he had another big surprise for us. In a riverbed, the staff had set up long tables and were busy cooking and preparing a sumptuous breakfast over open bonfires on the ground. We got back to the lodge around 10:30 AM and were free until high tea at 2 PM. Another safari would follow.

I kept looking for Tarzan as he was the only thing missing there in the depths of Africa, but I had to admit, when just looking at the flora and fauna and the topography, I could have been anywhere in Florida. It wasn’t the equatorial jungle I had expected to see.

My photos now included herds of zebra, several prides of lions, hyenas, a herd of Cape Buffalo and a white rhino. In almost every case, we were right beside them — no telephoto lens required.

As the week wound down, I didn’t look forward to leaving. I was living in a fantasy word of super-first-class accommodation accompanied by people who were paid to show me a good time, but even the realization of that wasn’t enough to dissuade me from wanting more. South Africa is but a smattering of this vast mysterious continent, and it was a teaser. I want so much more.

My travel plans are booked for a while, but who can say what the future may bring, when the rest of Africa beckons.



Living Out-of-Pocket — Yours!

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 2:13pm

I heard the daughter of a close friend was getting married, and knowing her taste and some of her likes and dislikes, I began to plan ahead for an appropriate and appreciated gift. After listening to her preferences and lack of enthusiasm for cleaning sterling silver, I collected beautiful pieces of contemporary and vintage pewter for her — things like candlesticks, mugs and serving platters that were useful and attractive.

As the wedding date drew closer and my large carton of pewter pieces filled, I was both surprised and disturbed when I heard that the couple had registered themselves online so that wedding guests could donate cash to pay for their honeymoon. Now in case you think my generosity needs a boost (polite way of saying I am cheap), I should add that between them this under-30s couple — employed in high-risk professions — brings home a collective salary of almost $1 million per year, owns a lovely home, a boat and high-end truck to transport it, and a BMW. The pre-wedding events included luncheons, teas and showers, and the wedding plans resembled a 20th Century Fox or MGM special.

Amid all of this opulence, how do you ask your guests to pay for your honeymoon? In spite of, or perhaps because of every rationalization I could imagine, I didn’t discard my plans but went full steam ahead, wrapped and presented the pewter. I suppose I could have contributed to their airfare or hotel by giving an equal amount of cash instead, but frankly I found it distasteful. In most instances, to me a cash gift says, “I couldn’t be bothered to shop or try to figure out what might please you, so do it yourself.” At the same time, there is a strong feeling of entitlement which I highly dislike, when someone presumes to tell me, unbidden, what I should give them for a gift and how much to spend on it.

Those of you who hate shopping for and buying gifts may disagree with me, but I hate seeing fill-in-the-blank choices guiding me on how much to spend; it’s more than arrogant and impertinent.

I have heard that this phenomenon is spreading. Now young couples are asking their guests to pay for the entire wedding! How cool is that! I always thought that if you couldn’t afford the Lamborghini, you drove a Toyota or a Honda, and if you couldn’t afford Champagne, you drank beer. It seems to me that somewhere along the way things have changed, and if you can’t afford to live within your means, why you simply put your hands into someone else’s pocket. Darn, I must have missed that class in Greed 101.

Now, if we were all on the same page here, I wonder how these youngsters would feel if we all decided to hold “pay-it-down” funerals? Don’t send flowers or make charitable contributions, just send a chunk of change to the funeral home. Instead of a $20 or $30 bouquet or wreath (and that would be a real cheapie) just haul out your checkbook and write a big one. We always wanted one of those big mahogany jobs with the brass handles, but all we could afford was the simple pine box. You can make it happen! Just think, you will be making someone as happy in the ground as he made you by contributing to your 14-day honeymoon in Dubai! And it will last longer!

This trend could really catch on, until no one has to worry about what he can afford, but simply assigns other people to pay for his desires. In fact, why not take it a step further and turn yourself into a non-profit charity, and make a list of whatever you need, somewhat like a bridal registry? That way, whenever you begin to whine about what you don’t own yet, all of your friends and relatives can simply go online and pay for both your necessities and luxuries.

Keep in mind, that at some point the shoe will be on the other foot, and you will have to pay for them. It’s only fair.





Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:48am

Donna Fiala

Donna Fiala

What a gorgeous Marco night for the 4th of July fireworks! The breeze was beautiful; the sky was clear; the air was cool; and not a drop of rain interrupted the event. Friends from Physician’s Regional Marco Clinic Dr. Carlos and Jenny Portu and their two daughters; Dr. James Klein and family; along with Marco Island residents Bonnie and John Geraghty, Joe and Kathy Swaja, Bill and Kathy Walsh, Joyce Pastore, Kira Walthour, and some of the out of state Barcic Clan, and Rob, Opal and Jordan Vann, all got together at Shirlee and Brian Barcic’s to enjoy a perfect night of food, fellowship and fireworks together.

* The Marco Island Center for the Arts seems to be moving along in the right direction, and at a very good pace under the direction of Hyla Crane and the guidance and support of Rosemary Wick (who seems to be there whenever you call). Rosemary excitedly explained how they are moving forward with their plans to grow and work more closely with the community members and groups. She was so proud of their advances. Hyla took me on a little tour to see the activities the children have been involved with this summer. She was thrilled with their progress. Children are so creative, especially when they are young and free to enjoy all the wonders of the world, while their imaginations are still uninterrupted by society. Please stop by to reacquaint yourself with this fine Center for the Arts.

* One of the highlights of this month was the presentation by Craig Woodward at the Marco Island Historical Society-Rose History Auditorium. I had no idea they could pack that many people in that auditorium! And, it was July 1! That means it was out of season, and more than 180 people sat spell-bound enjoying the movies of the way Marco Island looked in the 60s, then the 70s, then the 80s. They giggled when they recognized some of the Marco Old Timers who are still here, and some who were even in the audience! (Laurie Wagor – you are just as cute now as you were then!) The dress was more formal in those days. The houses much smaller. The beaches had fewer visitors. But even then, everyone knew they were in Paradise! After the movies, Craig explained to the huge audience all the plans in place as Marco Island plans for their 50th anniversary, and the Museum plans for its 20th anniversary. This coming year should be even better than the last few years, with more celebrations than we’ve ever had, plus the museum will be adding new exhibits and decorations. This is an exciting time to join the Historical Society in case you’ve been meaning to and haven’t gotten around to it. NOW is the time! Become a part of the family. It’s so much fun to feel like you belong!

* The traffic is still moving smoothly through that huge intersection improvement project at 951/41. It is amazing how well coordinated this construction is proceeding. There was a lot of pre-planning that must have taken place to have the Sheriff’s office available at night and while they work on the weekends to guide the passage and eliminate accidents. Usually I am one of the first ones to hear any complaints, but I haven’t heard of any problems to date. And when you think about it, there are three projects all proceeding simultaneously – the intersection itself, the widening of U.S. 41 E to 6 lanes, and the resurfacing of SR 951 through Fiddler’s Creek. Amazing, just amazing! And this is one of the busiest “out of seasons” I can remember! There are still lots of business and shoppers, lots of people eating out, lots of cars, and lots of fun. So now, go and enjoy our wonderful part of this world this summer!


OBIT: In Memorium: Lloyd ‘Stuart’ Curtis, Sr.

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:38am

Stuart Curtis has been with Curtis Machine Company for 68 years as he began sweeping the floors in our factory at the age of eight. At that time, the “factory” consisted of a few WWII surplus machines that were located behind the family home on Sunnyside Street in Dodge City, Kansas. The building was a chicken house that had been converted into a machining job shop. Stuart became an expert machinist and was night shift foreman at the age of 14.

After finishing his tour of duty with the U.S. Army/Infantry, Stuart worked in the engineering department for the Martin Marietta Company during the development of the Titan 1 Missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. One of the generals employed there committed an error in judgment, and the missile and silo blew up shaking the ground for miles around. It was then Stuart decided to return to Kansas State University, where he completed both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Industrial Engineering and met and married his wife and lifelong partner, Janie.

After graduation, he came back to the family machine shop that was doing precision machining for various manufacturers using their blueprints. Stuart immediately decided, “We need a product line so we have work to do every week of the year, and we need to machine from our own engineering drawings.” With that in mind, he whipped out his slide rule (no laptop computers back in those days), and designed the gears we still use today in Curtis Machine’s product. Stuart’s gear and gearbox designs have been copied throughout the world. He founded a new corporation and grew it totally from the ground up.

There was no engineering department, and there were no part numbers so he developed our current part numbering system with easy-to-identify part numbers. For example, part numbers that start with a “zero” are housings, with a “two” are shafts and with a “1” are gears. The 100024 gear and the 100131 gears are just two of his many designs that we still produce in high volumes today. He then designed our standard line of gearboxes and implemented our unique “straddle mounted bearings” design. This engineering design is one of the reasons that Curtis Machine is the largest manufacturer of right angle and off-angle bevel gear boxes (in our torque range) throughout the world.

Curtis Machine was the first company in Dodge City (except for the gas company) to have a computer. The old IBM model 360 took up a lot of space and required the room it was in to be temperature controlled. Several people worked in this department that used punched cards for data entry. Stuart used the Fortran and hexadecimal engineering knowledge that he learned during his Kansas State years to completely program this new computer. The software Stuart wrote specifically for Curtis Machine has never been equaled by IBM or anyone else. He also designed complete production machines that our production team still use today as these machines produce Curtis products more accurately and more efficiently than any machine that can be purchased today.

Time has passed, and with it, came the news in 1994 that Stuart had been chosen by Kansas State University to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the College of Engineering. In 2012, Kansas State University inducted Stuart into its Engineering Hall of Fame. Less than 0.5 percent of all engineering graduates are chosen to receive this honor. We are very proud of our Chairman of the Board Stuart Curtis, Sr.

Stuart, with his wife, Janie, moved to Marco Island in the year 2000. Stuart was very proud that he was a Past Commodore of the Marco Island Yacht Club as well as a Certified Coast Guard Captain. He loved his company along with its many employees and his beautiful Marco Island. Above all, he loved Janie, his wife of 51 years, and his son, John, and his wife, Jenny. Stuart passed away on Sunday, June 22, with his devoted wife standing at his side holding his hand and giving him kisses.

At Stuart’s request, no services were held. After cremation, his ashes will be spread over the Gulf of Mexico so that Janie can feel her dear husband’s presence during her morning walks on the beach. In our prayers, we have asked him to “Go to the light and rest in peace.” We have asked God to watch over his loving soul. His love for us and our love for him was beyond measure as it had no bounds. On Stuart’s last trip, he took an article with him about Doctor Zhivago’s overwhelming love for Lara. Doctor Zhivago’s love for her was so great that it caused his heart to rupture when he had a brief chance sighting of Lara. Stuart told Janie that he loved her even more than that. He was a very remarkable man with totally remarkable lifetime achievements and generosity.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Mayo Clinic. The funds will be used for research into the prevention of premature births which had touched Stuart and Janie’s lives. Please fill in the memo line on the check as follows:

In Memory of Mr. Lloyd Stuart Curtis, Sr. It may be mailed to: Mayo Clinic, Department of Development, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55902

If friends wish to send Janie and her family a card, please mail to: Mrs. Janie Curtis, P.O. Box 2349, Marco Island, FL 34146

Stuart requested that the following be distributed to his friends upon his demise:



When I come to the end of the road

And the sun has set for me

I want no rites in a gloom filled room

Why cry for a soul set free

Miss Me A Little — But Not Too Long

And not with your head bowed low

Remember the love that we once shared

Miss Me — But Let Me Go

For this is a journey that we all must take

And we all must go alone

It’s all a part of the Master’s plan

A step on the road to home

When you are lonely and sick of heart

Go to the friends we know

And bury your sorrows

in doing good deeds

Miss Me — But Let Me Go


Creating Mythical, Magical Creatures

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:31am

By Noelle H. Lowery

Meet the Hawk Dragiluvicos Flying Fire MerBra.

The mind of a child is an amazingly creative place. Put the minds of nine children together, and you embark on a journey to a truly special place where Pegasus soar through the sky and three-headed creatures rule the land.

That is what art instructors Mary Kane, Linda Kropp and Robert Bransterator learned during the recent “Mythical Magical Creatures” art camp sponsored by the city of Marco Island and the Marco Island Center for the Arts. The three adults — all teach adult art classes as well at the Center — guided campers through a week-long tour of the whimsical and sometimes messy world of paper mache that ended with the two life-size models currently on display at the center.

Kropp, who is a former teacher, embraced working with the kids. “You get messy and have fun at the same time,” she said. “The kids are so much fun and sweet and so creative. Their eyes all sparkle with new and creative ideas. It is so much fun to watch when the light bulb goes on in their minds.”

The kids began their week by discussing various mythical and magical creatures to brainstorm what type of beings they would create. As a class, they chose to create a Pegasus for its beauty and motion, but the second creature was another story. After talking about everything from a Phoenix to Sesame Street’s Mr. Snuffleupagus, the kids designed their own creature — a Hawk Dragiluvicos Flying Fire MerBra.

Alyssa Kirstein and Katrina Schnieder make sure
every inch is covered.

Part hawk, dragon, Phoenix, Snuffleupagus, mermaid and zebra, the creature flies and can live just about anywhere. On land, under water, extreme heat and cold, nothing bothers this three-headed beast. What does a a Hawk Dragiluvicos Flying Fire MerBra eat? Why, burgers and s’mores, of course.

Once the creatures were chosen and designed, out came the chicken wire, and Bransterator helped the children create the forms. Next, four layers of paper mache were applied to the structures, and allowed to dry. Campers and instructors spent the last day painting and putting the finishing touches on the creatures.

The final masterpieces will be part of the “Youth Summer Arts Reception” at the Center on July 25 at 5:30 PM. This show will feature artwork from all of the art camps held at the Center this summer, including “Play with Clay,” “Acrylic Collage,” Creating Art with Nature,” iPhone Photography,” “Strut Your Stuff” and “Make and Learn to Play Your Own Guitar.”

Kane, who is an artist-in-residence at the Center, has been thrilled with the artwork produced by the camps thus far this summer, and she is pleased to have been a part of the program. “I want to promote art for children,” she explained. “We need replacements for the future, and these kids are so innovative. They are a breath of fresh air.”

Our Veterans: From Sea to Shining Sea

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:19am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

In May, Malenda Trick made a big announcement about a new Veterans’ Day project during the Marco Island Foundation for the Arts annual Scholarship Awards Luncheon, and now, that project will become a reality.

Beginning Tuesday, July 15, Trick will be painting historical images of our nation’s valiant soldiers at war on an 18-foot-long, double-sided memorial canvas wall at the Marco Island Historical Museum. She will paint images of our Florida soldiers at war on one side and our national efforts on the other. The memorial will depict Trick’s impression of images captured during wartime, commemorating our war heroes’ valor. The visitor will see emotional, epic stories told in impressionistic renderings through the artistic eye of Trick. This contemporary work of art will forever allow remembrance of those that risked it all to keep us free.

This will be Trick’s third Veterans’ Day project. Previously she painted 35 veterans’ portraits in Southwest Florida (2012) and Sarasota (2013), which were widely viewed all over Southwest Florida and the Sarasota area. The new endeavor will begin with a special reception on July 15 at 5:30 PM at the MIHM. The public is invited to participate by submitting action photos to be considered for inclusion in the project. They also will be given the opportunity to sponsor this worthy project by donating $25 and being invited to sign their name (if a soldier) or their soldier’s name on the memorial. The project will be used to raise funds for various veterans charities.

Trick will paint at MIHM from 12-3 PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays until the canvas is complete, which could be in six weeks time. The public will be allowed to watch her paint at the museum as she progresses and also on the web camera to be announced soon. Her effort will also be documented on video and still photos.

The memorial wall will be veiled after completion and then will be unveiled in a ceremony on Nov. 11, at 5:30 PM at the Marco Island Historical Museum, in front of veterans, local, state, and federal officials and the public.

For more information about the project, contact Kat Nimtz Rinaldo at 201-960-0203 or by email at

Skin Wellness Physicians Now Open

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:02am


Dr. Wasserman

Daniel I. Wasserman, MD, board certified in dermatology with a dual fellowship in Mohs micrographic surgery and laser and cosmetic medicine, is opening a new dermatology practice under the name of Skin Wellness Physicians. Services include general dermatology, skin cancer detection and treatment, Mohs micrographic surgery, laser and light medicine and cosmetic rejuvenation.

Wasserman recently moved from a group dermatology practice where he provided medical care for more than three years to the Naples and Marco Island communities. His decision to begin a new venture is motivated by a firm belief in delivering high quality individualized health care and concern for the epidemic of skin cancer in Southwest Florida.

Wasserman earned a bachelor’s degree at Emory University in Atlanta, and graduated cum laude from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He completed his general surgery internship at Stanford University in Stanford, California, and the Tufts University/Boston University Combined Dermatology residency program in Boston. He proceeded to obtain a fellowship in laser and cosmetic medicine under the tutelage of renowned physician and inventor, R. Rox Anderson, MD at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital Laser and Cosmetic Center and Wellman Center for Photomedicine. Finally, he completed a fellowship in Mohs micrographic surgery for the removal of skin cancer with minimal scarring and a 99 percent cure rate with Dr. Gary Monheit of the Monheit chemical peel.

Skin Wellness Physicians is located at 8625 Collier Boulevard in Naples. Appointments are currently being scheduled for the week of July 14 with office hours Monday-Friday, 8 AM-5 PM. More information is available by calling 239-732-0044 or visiting

Some Things Should Just Stay Broken

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:00am

Richard Alan

I fix this, repair that. A solder here, a laser weld there, and lately the use of quick set epoxy glue and enamels have their merits.

You already know if you enjoy or dread reading my column that I have acquired an excellent reputation repairing or restoring almost any piece of jewelry that enters my establishment. (Not to mention household objects, such as statues, dog collars, ladies shoes, belts, electric razors, Rolls Royce and Bentley interior parts, sunglasses and numerous ceremonial pieces from all religious denominations.)

News of my expertise also has crossed the Atlantic ocean for a lot of my clientele hail from Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Finland and Germany to name a few.

I’m flattered but the problem is…I’m a goldsmith not an all-around handyman, and some of the broken things presented before me are baffling as to why a person would bring them to a jewelry store in the first place?

I tried to explain to a gentleman that I have no idea why his garage door opener refuses to function. Try the sandwich shop next door. Maybe he can help you! Take broken electronics to a goldsmith? First place I would go?

Just last week a guy handed me a bunch of watch parts in a box, as if it was a wounded sparrow. It was — and I mean WAS — his favorite watch. “Can you put this back together?” It was the same brand of watch I wear, a Tag Heuer; only he has been wearing his for 30 years or more. Problem was the watch runs fine, but the bracelet is a basket case in a box. All the watch’s links have separated from each other. Every connecting pin is worn out. Even the snap catch no longer snaps closed. It’s time for a new bracelet.

Last time I checked for a replacement bracelet for a gent’s Tag Heuer watch, the cost was more than $900, and I doubt they would have one this old in stock. Even if they did, this guy isn’t going to pay me nine Benjamin’s for a watch strap.

So I have made up my mind — even with help from above — there is no chance on earth I can repair this thing. Problem is I can sense this guy is not going to accept no as an answer. I caved in (Yet again!), and told him to leave it. I will see what I can do.

What an Idiot I am. I have a better chance putting a smashed crystal Humpty Dumpty back together! A week later, while enjoying several nights of insomnia, the answer to repairing the impossible hit me, and I finally fell asleep repairing the watch bracelet in dreamland. Well, believe it or not, I figured out a way I could fix it, but three or four hours of a goldsmith’s time is going to be costly. So I called him to let him know the cost. He said out of the question; I said come get it broken because I am not charging $10 for three hours of my labor. I guess it wasn’t so important once he understood I have to get paid for the impossible and even more for a miracle.

The saving grace and miracle maker is my shop’s laser welder. My uncles who taught me the business are probably rolling in their graves and could not imagine a newfangled space laser-ray contraption to make or repair jewelry in their lifetime.

Same goes for some older watches. Sometimes they just go kaput, dead or just plain give out. A new battery won’t change anything. If you are lucky enough to find a talented watchmaker who can install a new movement, there may be a chance, but that can sometimes cost as much as a new watch. That to me is foolish because it will still look worn out and beat up, but it will tell time.

While we are on the subject of watch battery replacement, while I rarely get a complaint of my services, there are some who complain about the cost of “a simple battery replacement.” Sure, I always hear the flea market will do it for $1. I can assure you, I don’t do anything for a buck.

There are several things to consider. First, the quality of the battery. Cheap Korean batteries cost $1 for six of them, but who knows how old they are? Plus, they will corrode and leak battery fluid in your $20 Timex as well as a $20,000 Omega, and it’s guaranteed to render it worthless.

Next is putting your trust in some inexperienced Cretan who is gouging and scratching away at your precious watch like he’s shucking an oyster, trying to figure out how to open it. By now, your waterproof gaskets have surly been ruined, so after installing the junk battery he throws away the gasket cause it no longer fits due to damage and expansion. (In many cases, a new gasket has to be installed along with the battery change.)

Now you have it, a new battery for next to nothing you savvy penny pincher…a $1 flea market battery change. Only now, the back of your wife’s beautiful watch looks like it took a ride in the garbage disposal. The waterproofing is non-existent, and you are now the proud owner of a guaranteed-to-leak, cheap-a#@ battery.

There are millions of different kinds of watches and hundreds of battery sizes and voltages. The wrong one can ruin the movement or make the watch run irregular. There are also several important and expensive tools required to open many high grade watches and inexpensive as well, without damaging them. No proper tool; no new battery.

Although I change hundreds of batteries a week in season, there are a few makes — like most Ebels or many Omega models — that have to go back to the factory or an official repair facility for “a simple battery change,” and that is that; end of story. I guess it is to keep the warranty intact, or they purposely design the watch so only the factory can do it. That can get expensive due to insurance and shipping back, so on and so forth.

When it comes to repairing fine jewelry, there is very little my son and I cannot repair like new. Costume jewelry is another story. Every piece is a challenge.

Costume jewelry is just that. It can only give you what it can, and then it breaks apart or the faux stones fall out. The plating comes off. Most are made out of gold or silver plated lead or slush metal that melts at the temperature made by an ordinary match stick.

It’s a jeweler’s nightmare. There are times I get inundated with the stuff. Most I can repair and some I gracefully refuse to do, but not because I can’t fix it. It is because honestly most folks won’t pay me for the time it takes to repair pretty much a worthless article: “Oh, I understand it’s a sentimental piece of costume jewelry. It’s going to cost $15 to repair.”

“You’re kidding $15 to fix that! I only paid $5 at the church sale.”

I guess it’s just not sentimental enough? It saves a lot of wasted time for me to just say it can‘t be done.

About The Author Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275 or