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The Body-Swing Connection

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 4:27pm

Golf Tips
Todd Elliott

The past few days, I was in Phoenix, Arizona, attending the TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Level 2 Golf Mechanics Seminar. TPI co-founder, Dave Phillips, and Mark Blackburn, a top 100 instructor, hosted the golf mechanics seminar. TPI is the world leader in education concerning golf instruction. Titleist Performance Institute has certified instructors in 58 countries around the world.

TPI takes a team approach to help golfers reach their golf goals, including a golf instructor, fitness instructor and medical professional on the team. The TPI golf instructor leads the team, communicating the student’s golf goals and golf swing changes. A TPI golf instructor has the training to perform a golf-specific physical evaluation on the student. This evaluation is to determine physical limitations in different parts of the body; the evaluation is not concerned with the students overall strength or fitness. The concern of the physical evaluation is determining if the student possesses a functional body that can produce a proper golf swing. The golf professional will then communicate to the student’s team to help achieve the student golf goals. The fitness instructor and the medical professional may do a more extensive physical evaluation on student.

The human body has individual parts that are connected but have different roles. Some body parts need to be stable while other parts require mobility. The body works in opposites. For example, from the foot to the neck, the foot is stable; the ankle is mobile; the knee is stable; the hip is mobile; and the back is stable. If the ankle has a limited range of motion/mobility, the knee is at risk because the knee has to be become mobile for the body to function. The knee is not designed to have mobility.

In many instances, lower back troubles are caused by limitations of a different part of the body. Someone who has a hip replacement is a prime example. The left hip that was replaced feels wonderful, but the left knee and the lower back start hurting. The new hip does not have the desired range of motion. The limited mobility places the other body parts, below and above, in a compromised position when doing simple daily tasks.

The same scenario is true for golfers that have limitations in the hips. The golf swing consists of a rotary motion, and the hips play a big role in creating a rotary motion. The hips should rotate about 45 degrees in a golf swing. The average individual has 30 degrees of rotation in the hips. A golfer with hip limitations will have a limited backswing rotation, but will complete a full back swing by rotating the lower back into a compromising position.

A tennis player who has knee trouble is another example that the source of the problem may not be the actual body part that is physically hurting. A tennis player uses the mobility in the ankle hundreds of times in a match to move around the court effectively. If the tennis player’s ankle has a mobility issues, the knee cannot be stable. A tennis player’s knee that is forced to become mobile will lead to an injury.

A golf-specific physical screen done by a TPI professional will determine the limitations in the body. The next step would be to create a functional body based on the physical screen that will help prevent injuries. Each student has different goals, and it is my job as a PGA Golf Professional to help each student reach their golf goals. I can help them with their swing, but if I notice any limitation, I will conduct a golf-specific physical evaluation. I instruct the student on set-up and/or swing corrections even if they are limited, unless the student has pain prior to the lesson. If deficiencies are found in the physical screen, I will recommend the student to his or her fitness or medical professional; they will start working with the student to correct the deficiencies. This will give the student the physical capability to work on the swing or set-up correction, and more importantly, to improve their quality of life. If a student has shoulder limitations, it is hard for them to reach above their head. This limitation can damage the ability to complete their golf goals, but can also make daily tasks difficult.

During the TPI seminar in Phoenix, I become more educated about the golf swing. I also reconnected with my understanding about how important a functional body is on the golf course and in daily life. A team concept will help a student improve immediately. The idea that a golfer has to get worse before he or she gets better is not true. However, all golfers need to understand that there is more to improving at golf than receiving a few swing tips from the local golf professional.

To become part of a team concept, go see a local TPI certified PGA Professional. All TPI certified instructors are listed in the Titliest Performance Institute website, Also, go to this website for tools to connect the body and the golf swing.

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.”


Go Ahead and Act Like a Child

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 4:25pm

Body, Mind And Spirit
Laurie Kasperbauer

“Before we learn to speak, our true nature is to love and be happy, to explore and enjoy life. As little children, we are completely authentic. Our actions are guided by instinct and emotions; we listen to the silent voice of our integrity.” — Don Miguel Ruiz


My husband and I have been blessed with four great children. They’re all grown now, self-sufficient and productive citizens. Hard-working and happy, and for this, I am thankful every single day.

In turn, our children have blessed us with five grandchildren. All babies and toddlers. Producers of wet pants, runny noses, skinned knees, temper-tantrums, contagious giggles and more joy and pride than can be described in this column. I often tell people that grandchildren are our reward for raising children. You’re able to extract all the joyous benefits of kids without the expense and sleepless nights.

Recently, I was admiring my four-month-old granddaughter — the only girl in our pack of five grands and predicted to be the ring-leader by age 2. As I cooed and awed at her expressions and explorative movement, I couldn’t help but wonder out loud how these little babies and children can fold and unfold their bodies, reaching and bending in yoga-like postures that as adults we find impossible to attain without persistent practice and concentration. My daughter then took it a step further. “Mom,” she said, “look at how happy she is. She’s living in the moment. She isn’t thinking about the future or worrying about the past. She’s just here, in this place, looking at the smiling faces, and feeling loved.” Exactly right.

Children, from the moment of birth, are sponges of life. Absorbing sounds, tracking movement, observing behaviors, receiving messages. They commence unspoiled, free of judgement, with only the basic needs of food, shelter, stimulation and rest. As they grow, it becomes obvious to the observer that every activity for a child is an opportunity to learn and explore.

Our two-year-old grandsons sit at the dinner table with spoon in hands and food on their plate, yet the spoon-to-mouth action is short-lived. How much more interesting it is to stick your hand into the yogurt, watch it ooze between your fingers and then paint the table with the bold strokes of Picasso. How many times have you seen a child open a gift that was carefully chosen and beautifully wrapped, only to find the paper and the box it came in far more fascinating than the present? They don’t anticipate the gift. They’re completely absorbed in the act of tearing apart the colorful paper!

As we get older, we tend to lose that ability to live in the moment, to find wonder in the simple things. When was the last time you intentionally didn’t come in out of the rain? Just stood in a puddle with the warm drops spilling off your shoulders, thrown your head back, and purposefully invited the rush of water over your face? Or done a cannonball into the pool? Or planted a big wet kiss on the cheek of your loved one without forethought or embarrassment?

Dan Fogelberg was a gifted songwriter and recording artist. His song “Heart Hotels” was a popular hit in the 80’s, and it’s words, “…seek inspiration in daily affairs…,” might be a good rule to live by.

We are all very aware of how quickly time passes and how short our life here on earth is. This awareness becomes more pronounced as we get older, yet we continue to jump ahead to the next event on our calendar, the next deadline, the next milestone. We know we will be happier once an obligation is fulfilled, when we secure the job, or get the raise we deserve. We’ll be able to relax after the storm passes; as soon as the kitchen is clean; once I land this big sale.

I believe the secret to living life to its fullest is held in the mind of a child. The place where there is only this moment in time. Where the most interesting thing is happening right before my eyes. And I’m learning from every experience because I chose to experience every moment.

As we age, we don’t lose the ability to enjoy life. We’re still capable of finding contentment, and there is always something new to learn. The irony is that we usually overlook the opportunity because it’s right in front of us. We forget to pause in the rain, play with our food or absorb the loving looks of those around us. Surely, if we seek inspiration in these fleeting moments, the simplest of acts will fill us with joy.


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.


The Wonderful Star

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 4:17pm

By Mike P. Usher

In the southeast tonight lies the constellation Cetus, the whale, as it is usually called, although it is really more of a sea monster in mythology. It’s in that area of the sky called the sea, which is a large group of constellations that have a watery theme. It’s not the brightest of constellations. In fact, it is rather dim, and it will take you a moment to locate it in the sky. Look first for Fomalhaut, the brightest star in that whole region of the sky — almost due south of you. Now, turn your eyes towards the left to find Diphda, a dimmer star than Fomalhaut but still brighter than anything else around it. Diphda is the base of the tail of Cetus; from there, you can pick out the rest of the constellation.

One of the more interesting things about Cetus is what you don’t see. Near the “C” in Cetus on the chart two constellation lines come together where there should be a star, but there is no star to be seen with the naked eye. In fact, you might be hard pressed to find one with your binoculars. A star is present, but it is a very special one, a variable star that changes its brightness on a fairly regular basis.

Mira the Wonderful, as the star is called, can be as dim as magnitude 10.9 and become as bright as magnitude 2 every 332 days. In other words, it can be as much as 1,700-times brighter at its maximum than its minimum! Usually, however, it avoids those extremes and tends to move between 3.5 and 8.6. To put it another way, Mira can be as bright as Diphda, but usually maxes out as bright as Tau Ceti. The next time Mira is scheduled to reach maximum brightness is in May 2015.

Speaking of Tau Ceti, marked as “T Cet” on the chart, it is one of the closest stars to the Sun at 12 light years. It is thought to have five planets, at least one of which is in the habitable zone. As Tau Ceti is only about half as bright as the Sun, this habitable planet would be about as close to it’s star as Venus is to ours.

Take out your binoculars, and see if you can find the Sculptor Galaxy. It is one of the brighter galaxies in the sky, but it can be rather hard to find as it is not located near any convenient finder stars. Look for a cigar-shaped misty spot nearly as long as the Full Moon is wide.

See you next time!


Mr. Usher is a Director of the Everglades Astronomical Society which meets the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00PM in the Norris Center, Cambier Park, Naples. E-mail:

’Tis the Season for Murder, Mysteries and Mayhem

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 4:16pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

This room at the Old Marco Inn has been staged to look like the room of the woman who haunts the building.

She’s baaaack!

Just in time for Marco Island’s high season, Martha Horror (a.k.a. Gina Sisbarro) is launching the second season of her “Marco Murder & Mayhem” historical frightseeing tour — a “ghost tour” through the unsolved murders and mysteries of Marco’s last 150 years.

“This is a historical tour as well as a ghost tour,” explains Sisbarro. “History plays an important part of what shapes our world…Ghost stories are all over the island, but I focus one the ones that I can identify that helped to shape the island and its history.”

Still teamed with Bistro Soleil owners Denis and Lisa Mergue and Dolphin Trolley, Sisbarro will begin and end each 6-stop tour at the Old Marco Inn. Tours will start with a complimentary cocktail at Bistro Soleil. Visitors are encouraged to arrive between 6:00-6:45 PM, as everyone will be ushered aboard an old-fashioned trolley car at 6:45 PM. Tours leave promptly at 7 PM, and last between two and two-and-a-half hours.

Beginning Oct. 3, tours will be held on the first and third Friday of each month. Tour tickets cost $35 per person, and can be purchased online at

Sisbarro is hoping her second season of tours will be as exciting and popular as the first, when every tour was full and private tours plentiful. She even held private tours during the summer when groups contacted her. “I am just so grateful and pleased with the reaction from last year,” she adds.

This bed provides a place for the ghost to lay her weary head.

To be sure, the ghosts did not disappoint last season either. “We had a lot happen last season,” Sisbarro intimates. “I can’t guarantee an appearance. The spirits will seek out who they want for whatever reason, and you cannot come on the tour thinking they will be contacted immediately. The least suspecting are the ones who get the encounter. Certain ghosts drawn to certain ages.”

Of course, there are the orbs, shadows, mists and grainy images that some visitors caught on their cell phone cameras. Others claimed to feel a temperature change in the air — the presence of cold air — when a ghost passed them.

Still, Sisbarro recounts physical encounters as well, such as one time when a young man had his arm caressed when he left the cemetery. Another young man felt someone blow on his neck, while still another suddenly was inundated with a scent of a floral soap. “It was clearly a fragrant scent,” she remembers. “The smell was with him as he walked along the landing (of Old Marco Inn).”

One woman even had her necklace removed from her neck. Sisbarro believes the necklace represented the time period the ghosts were from: “She felt the clasp move, and the necklace just fell off.”

“Many ghosts appear to have become more active since the tour began,” she adds.

There are new stories to tell as well this season. Sisbarro consulted a spiritualist, as well as two others who are able to communicate with ghosts. One new story focuses on a ghost that haunts a local restaurant. According to Sisbarro, the ghost was a little bit put when she first visited the restaurant. On the tour, visitors will find out why he stayed and why he is there. Here is a hint: It has to do with very happy people.

The room has been furnished with period pieces of furniture. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Sisbarro also hints that she has solved one of Marco Island’s oldest cold case murders through her tours and research, identifying a second ghost in the Old Marco Inn and dispelling the rumors of the woman fleeing into the night. Marco’s most famous ghost was once an employee at the Inn, and Sisbarro believes her murderer also haunts the Inn. To help highlight this story, an old guest room on the second floor of the inn has been staged to look like the young woman’s room, complete with period dress and furniture.

This season, Sisbarro also will host a special Halloween Tour on Friday, Oct. 31. “We’re calling it midnight madness because it will go deeper into the night,” she notes. The evening will begin 8:30 PM with a complimentary themed cocktail and a three-course meal at Bistro Soleil. The tour will leave between 9:30-10:00 PM and will be back on the first floor of the Old Marco Inn by midnight in hopes of seeing some paranormal activity. Sisbarro asks that everyone dress in period costume from 1880-1930; there will be a costume contest.

“Let’s really bring out the ghosts,” she says. “I don’t advise flapper attire, though. I advise elegance. There were no flappers in Southwest Florida. Think Titanic.”

TBE Profile: First-grade Teacher Katie Bush

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 2:20pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

This time last year, Katie Bush was teaching first grade Newton Falls Exempted Village Schools in Newton Falls, Ohio, but a June vacation to Marco Island changed everything for her. Now, she is the newest first-grade teacher at Tommie Barfield Elementary School.

“I absolutely fell in love with it here!” the Ohio native remembers. “I decided right then, ‘why not live and work in paradise?’ The available first-grade job and interview process came together so perfectly that I know this is God working in my life!”

Now, just two months into the school year, her enthusiasm and genuine care for her students is palpable. “First grade is a huge year of growth both socially and academically. I love to facilitate and watch students who are very eager to learn grasp new concepts daily. The excitement first graders bring to the classroom each day is so contagious,” Bush explains.

This is Bush’s third year of teaching. She is a graduate of Malone University in Canton, Ohio, and has a bachelor’s degree in elementary childhood education (Pre-K-3) and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Coastal Breeze News sat down with Bush to find out more about her and the journey she and her students are on together this year.

Q: Why did you become a teacher, and why elementary school?

A: For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be an elementary school teacher. Ever since I was little, I have thought of teaching as the ‘best job in the world’! I absolutely love kids and of course, love learning. Paired together, I never groan getting up or have the attitude that I ‘have to go to work today.’ I truly LOVE what I do! I have been in school (as a student) since I was five years old, so now at age 23, as a teacher, I don’t feel like much has changed. I still think of teaching as the ‘best job in the world,’ and I love that I can continue to wake up in the morning and be excited to go to school each day to learn new things.

Q: What was the first thing you noticed about TBE that told you this elementary school may be different from others?

A: I love the POSITIVITY that radiates at TBE. The entire staff and school is devoted to focusing on the POSITIVE. That is so rare. I love how administrators and teachers are celebrating the good things that students and staff do well, instead of trying to constantly dwell on the negative things. I completely understand that negative things have their place in needing to be addressed and rightfully so; however, focusing on the positive has created a school climate where both students and staff alike WANT to do good and WANT to be celebrated for doing well, instead of gaining attention for negative reasons.

Q: What are your goals for your first year at TBE?

A: You won’t be with me long until you realize that I am a talker. I truly enjoy people. However, an area that I have recently been challenging myself in is being a good listener. With a recent move, I am in a completely new environment not only professionally, but personally too, and I truly just want to listen and learn as much as I possibly can this school year to best understand the expectations of Collier County Schools, as well as to best benefit my students, parents and colleagues.

Q: What three words best describe you, and why?

A: I am outgoing, encouraging and hard working. I radiate a positive energy that comes from my goals and morals. I make it a personal goal to encourage others through my leadership qualities to be the best they can be. Additionally, my family owns a restaurant ‘Das Dutch Haus’ in Columbiana, Ohio, and after being around the restaurant my whole life, hostessing, waitressing, etc., I understand the concept of long hours and hard work, so I truly value that.

Q: How would you like students and parents to remember you?

A: I want my parents and students to remember that I had integrity. I define integrity as meaning that you consistently choose to do what you know is right, no matter what others will think or even if no one will ever find out. I realize integrity is often not necessarily the popular thing, as showing integrity from a Christian stance comes from actually choosing to LIVE by the Word of God. Also, in my opinion, integrity doesn’t just apply to big decisions. It also applies to your small decisions, as it pertains to your whole life. When placed in a questionable situation, I remind myself daily of the quote hanging on the fridge at home while growing up. It recites, ‘What is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular.’ I try to show through my everyday actions that I’m a person of integrity by being honest, respectable and by displaying a strong character. When you have integrity you don’t compromise your standards or values. You have a wholeness of character. You are dependable to do what you say you will do.

Artificial Reef Project Set to Begin

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 11:59am

By Melinda Gray

Map of Naples’ offshore artificial reef locations.

The notoriously lengthy process of wading through government red-tape is now over. All of the permits are approved. In just 60 days, construction is set to begin on one of the world’s largest artificial reef projects. The six reefs — each the size of a football field — weigh in at around 500 tons each and are made up of six smaller pyramid-shaped reef modules. They will be deployed 12-30 miles off-shore from Marco Island, Naples and northern Collier County.

“I’m really excited about this project. It’s been a passion of mine, and I never thought it would be done in 14 months. That’s a testament for the people involved, to get this done so quickly. I’ve never worked with a more dedicated group of people,” said Peter Flood, Naples attorney and fisherman, during his recent presentation on the artificial reef project at Rose History Auditorium.

Flood said that in 2011 he assembled a task force and suggested they apply for government grants to help boost the local marine habitat. They had the grant money in-hand 18 days later, and have since been working hard to bring this project to fruition. Feeling support from Marco Island, Collier County, local fisherman and the community as a whole, Flood’s expectations are that the reef will be expanded upon and enjoyed by generations to come.

“It’s a designed reef. It was engineered to last,” said Flood.

In 2012, the retired World War II-era USS Mohawk was dropped 28 miles off-shore from Fort Myers Beach; a $4 million project that is only expected to last 85 years in the saltwater. With a price tag of $3.4 million and materials like recycled and donated concrete, limestone boulders, culvert pipes and sidewalk chunks, the projected lifespan of these reefs is around 750 to 850 years. Like the Mohawk, hopes are that this artificial reef also will attract marine life species that haven’t been around in years.

The project is expected to bring $30 million to the area’s economy by way of tourism, fishing and other related revenue and the team anticipates this reef will kick-start recreational diving right here at home.

Funding has been and continues to drive this project. The $1.3 million in grants from BP’s Gulf Tourism and Seafood Promotional Fund along with donations from the private sector have made this work possible. Donations to the non-profit organization of $100,000 by any person, family or business will allow them naming rights to any one of the six reefs. Donations of $2,500 will put a name plaque, visible to divers, on one of the smaller reefs.

Smokehouse Bay Bridge Update

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 11:54am

By Noelle H. Lowery

The sign posted on the exit door of the Starbucks at The Esplanade on Tuesday, Sept. 30, sent caffeine junkies into instant withdrawals. Starting Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 8:30 PM, the store would be closed — closed? — due to a boil water notice, and unless otherwise notified, the store would not reopen until Saturday, Oct. 4.

According to Jeff Poteet, general manager of Marco Island Utilities, bridge contractor Quality Enterprises will be tying in a new 20-inch water main that was recently installed as part of the $8.625 million Smokehouse Bay Bridge project. In order the installation to happen, a water shutdown is required. City staff met with The Esplanade Manager Grant Reed, and together, they determined that Wednesday night, Oct. 1, would be the best time for the shutdown, which will begin at 9 PM on Wednesday night and then turned back on by 6 AM on Thursday, Oct. 2.

So, why will those seeking caffeine need to get their buzz elsewhere? Well, Poteet explained, even though the water will be on, the area affected by the water shutdown will remain under a precautionary boil water notice. These folks will stay under the notice until two consecutive days of test samples show the water is absent of bacteria.

The test — Bac-T test — takes 24 hours from the time it starts get the results. Best case scenario, the boil water notice will be rescinded Saturday. Samples will be taken Thursday and again Friday to get results on Saturday. “We’ll continue to draw samples until two consecutive days of sample result in showing the water is absent of bacteria,” Poteet explains. “Typically, we are able to rescind the BWN after the first rounds of sampling.”

This is the latest step in the city’s 10-month bridge project. “The project is proceeding as planned,” says Marco Island City Manager Roger Hernstadt.

To date, submittal reviews of construction materials have been completed, and those materials with a long lead time have been ordered. The utility relocations have been completed. The pile driving operation for the southbound bridge was completed Sept. 30.

The only glitch to date was the utility relocation, ran longer than anticipated due to material shortages and delivery of piping for the TECO gas line relocation. Hernstadt says this relocation had to be complete prior to the water main relocation, and it set the project schedule off by two weeks. He adds, though, “We are hopeful that the contractor may be able to make up the two weeks later within the project time line. Based on the latest schedule from the contractor, it appears that the work on the southbound bridge is approximately 20 percent complete.”

The next phase is the actual demolition of the existing southbound bridge structure including the piling in the center of the canal. This should take about seven days to complete, Hernstadt notes. Construction of the southbound bridge is scheduled for completion on February 25, 2015. Immediately after that date, traffic will be switched over, and work will begin on the northbound bridge.

With season — and its traffic snarls — quickly approaching, the city is bracing itself. “Traffic during season is always a concern of the city,” says Hernstadt. “We will try and inform residents and visitors of alternate routes to and from the south end of the island buy using message boards and public announcements.”

He also encourages Marco Islanders to sign up for the city’s Twitter feed — — for timely information about the project and associated traffic delays.

Bedtime Bundles Closes

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 11:48am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

The following notice was sent out regarding the closure of Bedtime Bedtimes, a popular local charity which was founded in 2006. The organization cites changes to the Title 1 Education Program as instrumental in their decision to cease operations. It considered closing once before when then Executive Director and Founder Karen Saeks chose to step down from her role. It wasn’t long before a group spearheaded by Dennis Pidherny offered to take over the reins of the organization.

Last year, Bedtime Bundles delivered food and care bags to hundreds of migrant families at 6L Farms over Thanksgiving last year alone. The Southwest Chapter of 100+ Women Who Care donated dozens of checks totaling $7,400 to Bedtime Bundles earlier this year. The letter also states the Greater Marco Island YMCA will take over any funds left to use to further the mission of Bedtime Bundles.

The Bedtime Bundles Board of Directors — Founder Karen Saeks, Executive Director Dennis Pidherny, and directors Cheryl Mueller, Rob Reiley and Dianna Dohm — would like to thank the community so very much for its past support. In the last eight years, the organization delivered more than 11,000 bundles, made more than 3,500 bread runs and provided clothing to local migrant worker families and the underserved of Collier County — all because of generosity of the community.

Over the last two years, the federal government has made sweeping changes to the Migrant Title 1 Education Program, which had in the past provided Bedtime Bundles with the information it needed to prepare bundles. The school liaison portion of the program, which was the group’s conduit into the migrant population, was severely reduced, making it extremely complicated for a grass roots organization to reach this disadvantaged group. These changes have made it difficult for Bedtime Bundles to identify and distribute bundles and food to the children and families in need.

Because of this struggle, effective Sept. 1, Bedtimes Bundles ceased conducting business. The monies collected prior to that date will be turned over to the Greater Marco Island YMCA, as they already have the network in place to continue Bedtime Bundles’ mission of providing for the migrant families and the underserved population in Collier County. This organization has deep roots in the local schools, which is imperative in continuing the work.

Any success achieved by Bedtime Bundles could never have been accomplished without the unending enthusiasm, loyalty and support of the community, which spearheaded the organization through its annual Thanksgiving donation drive and attended, volunteered, sponsored and/or donated to its signature event, Mutts & Martinis Yappy Hour.

In true spirit of Bedtime Bundles’ mission, its Board of Directors understands the YMCA plans to continue the Mutts & Martinis Yappy Hour at The Esplanade on Wednesday, March 19, 2015, so please plan on attending: “Your kindness has touched so many of those in need. Please know, together, we made a difference, one bundle at a time.”

Before signing off, the Board wrote, “Thanks a Bundle for the support, and when called upon in the future, we hope everyone will continue to open their hearts to those in our community who have so little.”

Rookery Bay Celebrates National Estuaries Day

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 11:39am

By Noelle H. Lowery

The sky was clear. The sun was shining, and the parking lot of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve was packed on Saturday, Sept. 27.

The occasion: National Estuaries Day, an annual event established in 1988 as part of Coast Weeks to help educate the public and promote the importance of estuaries and the need to protect them.

Rookery Bay is one of 28 national estuarine research reserves, and the local crowd celebrated the day in fine style, with guided boat expeditions of the estuary, kayak and paddle board adventures on Henderson Creek, behind-the-scenes laboratory tours, a marine-critter touch tank and other live animal presentations, face painting, fish printing, educational booths, live music and food. There also was a special Guy Harvey art exhibit on display in the Environmental Learning Center’s gallery.

So, what is an estuary you may ask? Simply, it is the thin zone along a coastline — such as bays, lagoons, sounds or sloughs — where freshwater systems and rivers meet and mix with a salty ocean, creating a brackish water environment that provides a safe haven and protective nursery for small fish, shellfish, migrating birds and coastal shore animals. In the U.S., estuaries are nurseries to more than 75 percent of all fish and shellfish harvested.

Sound familiar?

Rookery Bay encompasses 110,000 acres from Gordon Pass through the 10,000 Islands, and is home to some 150 species of birds, as well as many threatened or endangered animals. The history of the reserve dates back to a 1964 grassroots effort to stop the construction of a 10-mile loop between Naples and Marco Island. Dubbed the “Road to Nowhere,” the road would have cut through the pristine mangrove wetlands surrounding Rookery Bay. Some 1,000 signatures were collected in two days demonstrating local opposition to the road.

By 1971, nearly $2 million had been raised to buy up land around Rookery Bay. Local residents, the Collier County Conservancy (now the Conservancy of Southwest Florida) and The Nature Conservancy organized the funding, and additional lands were donated. In 1972, the Coastal Zone Management Act set the stage for the creation Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and in 1978, the reserve received its official federal designation.

Since then, Rookery Bay’s staff of 35 and army of 300 volunteers have worked as stewards and scientists of the estuary area. Not only do they maintain the land, but they also collect, monitor and analyze data on the flora and fauna in the estuary in an effort to show changing conditions in the environment and possibly provide clues as to why the changes are happening. All of this is done on a budget of state and federal funds totaling just under $1 million.

During National Estuaries Day, my husband, daughter and I were lucky enough to take part in one of the 75-minute guided boat tours of Rookery Bay. The tours departed from the reserve’s property on Shell Island Road, and our tour was guided by Alberto Chavez, an environmental manager at Rookery Bay. The boats for the tours were furnished by Everglades Area Tours and Good Fortune II Nature Cruises and Charters courtesy of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

As we cruised through the tannic waters surrounded by a maze of mangrove islands, Chavez told us that mangrove estuaries are one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet, right behind rain forests and barrier reefs. “These waters give life to about 90 percent of what lives in the Gulf,” he said.

According to Chavez, the work done at Rookery Bay runs the gamut — from educational programs for elementary, middle and high school students to research studies on pythons, saltwater crocodiles and sharks to sea turtle and bird nest counts to water salinity, turbidity, pH and nutrient monitoring. Chavez himself is responsible for starting Rookery Bay’s education program for landscape companies, which works with these firms on proper application of pesticides and fertilizers in an effort to limit their impact on the estuary.

He talked about the important impact this work has on the birds and wildlife nesting and living in the “rookery” — a place where seabirds nest — and how it helps maintain the estuary, which rose out of the water 15,000 years ago thanks to mangrove seedlings planting themselves into countless oyster beds. As our tour came full circle, we saw first-hand what he meant.

There, next to the dock, was an oyster bed with a couple of new mangrove seedlings sprouting, reminding us of the ever-present, ever-changing ecosystem in which we live.



City Council Approves Millage, Budget

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:42pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

Marco Island City Manager Roger Hernstadt’s pay-as-you-go budget earned a green light when city councilors voted 6-1 to approve it during the Monday, Sept. 22 regular meeting. Councilor Amadeo Petricca held fast to his objections to the budget plan, voting against it.

For FY2015, the approved budget totals $22 million based on a 2.507 overall millage rate. This is a 7.85 percent millage rate increase over the city’s aggregate ad valorem taxes based on the city’s rollback rate and a conservatively projected increase in Marco Island property values. It combines a millage of 2.0466 for general operations and .1041 for debt service. Essentially, this amounts to an extra $60 in annual property taxes for a home valued at $500,000 every year – just an extra $5 per month and still keeps the total annual municipal tax bill under $1,000 per year or $85 per month.

Hernstadt’s overall five-year plan promises to streamline Marco Island’s general fund finances and get the city out of debt while also planning which projects it will tackle, when it will tackle them and then saving for them. The city’s debt includes $150 million in water and sewer debt, $18 million in debt on the city’s general operations side — which includes $1.3 million in interest on the bank loan for the Smokehouse Bay Bridge project — and the $5.5 million in unfunded pension liabilities. The city also has a list of 116 items totaling $31.9 million in major capital improvement, infrastructure projects and equipment replacements the city is facing over the next five years.

Soccer referee certification

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 3:11pm

Those interested in becoming a soccer referee can get their certification on Marco Island.

The course will be at Mackle Park , 9am to 4pm on Sept. 27 and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 28.

This course is organized by Marco Island Optimist Soccer. New new referees will receive a patch and certification to officiate soccer in the State of Florida in any affiliated League.

MIA not a pushover in loss to Seahwaks

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 3:07pm

by Roger Lalonde

While the Community School coaches told their players after the game that they never doubted the team would win, it wasn’t easy.

The Seahawks won their third straight game, but Marco Island Academy showed they can compete with the better area teams.

The Manta Rays are 2-1 on the season at the start of its third season. They travel to Moorehaven on Friday for an important Class 2A district game that has playoff implications.

On Friday the Rays lost 31-10, but led at half time, 10-7.

The game-changing play was not made by the players, but the referees in the third quarter.

Trailing 14-10, an avalanche of Manta Rays defensive players chased Seahawks quarterback Flagg backwards 15 yards. As he was going down it appeared he flipped the football over his shoulder.

Two penalty flags flew for intentional grounding that would have cost the down and a penalty.

Instead, after a very brief discussion, both flags were picked up. The referees decided that the play was an incomplete pass.

It gave the Seahawks new life. They went down the field for a score and extra point, giving them a 21-10 lead and the momentum for the rest of the game.
Playing at home, the Manta Rays gave CSN a rugged reception. The Manta Rays took the opening series 70 yards with Tyler Gresham finishing off the drive on a three-yard run. Anton Mertens kicked the extra point, giving the Rays a 7-0 lead just three minutes into the contest.

Greg Fowler, Manta Rays coach, went for first downs on fourth down players rather than punting in the first half, winning out three times. He admitted that CSN’s punt returners were dangerous.

He was right. On the Manta Rays first punt to the CSN 18, it was run back to the Manta Rays 18. A 53-yard return that set up a one-yard TD run for Joe Lang. It tied the game at 7 with 4:50 left in the half.

The Rays Cole Stretton took the kickoff from his 14 to MIA’s 44. With less than two minutes in the half Rays quarterback Andrew Fowler made good on two pass plays. It put Mertens in position for a 26-yard field goal ending the half with the Rays holding a 10-7 lead.

While the Seahawks coaches weren’t worried, some fans were. Two CSN fans exchanged comments at half time. One fan said the team would take over in the second half, but the other said “you better keep your fingers crossed.”

The Seahawks took just two minutes to open the third quarter with Ford scoring his first of two touchdowns. George Schmelzle also crossed the goal and Cory Hixson made good on a 38-yard field goal.

“I thought we took it to them early,” Fowler said. “Our kids went out there to win.”

After the game the Seahawks celebrated as the Rays looked on. The young Ray’s competitiveness showed that one day it will be them celebrating a victory over a major opponent.

Safety Meets Creativity

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:41pm


Ask Lon Boggs, manager of The Somerset of Marco Island condominiums, what his biggest on-the-job headache is, and he’ll answer right away: “signage.” Not the maintenance of 122 units, nor the comfort of all those residents and guests; not upkeep of the lush botanical grounds, two swimming pools, boardwalks to the beach, or all that infrastructure. And definitely not his A-team staff — who are responsible for seeing that his headaches are few. Nope, it’s signage.

“Well,” says Boggs, “we have a beautiful environment here, and I don’t like signs that disrupt the integrity of the architecture or landscaping, but if you make them too low-key then nobody sees them.”

And the headache of all signs? “Pool signs,” adds Boggs. “Because they aren’t just about information they’re about safety. The law requires that we post certain rules in an officially approved format, but nobody reads them. I even had some elegantly painted signs installed — nobody read them either. Still, I was determined to find a solution.”

That’s when he contacted fine-artist and muralist, Tara O’Neill. His idea was a mural at each pool that would be enjoyable and eye-catching and incorporate only the most important rules, the rules concerning safety.

“And what a great idea,” says O’Neill. “Coming up with concepts was a delight; the challenge was the rough concrete walls weren’t ideal for hand-lettering. I contacted Kevin Hauke from The Sign Artist to see if we could have the words printed on surfaces that would also function as part of my designs. He and his assistant Jason were great. With minimal consultations, the signs were printed on thin vinyl and adhered to quarter-inch sheets of PVC. I mounted them directly on the walls, giving a 3-D effect to the overall mural.”

The final result is the whimsical crossroads of safety and creativity, and the information is well worth the read!

Florida’s Swallowtail Butterflies

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:39pm

Mike Malloy

Black Swallowtail

My “Butterfly Gardening in Florida” series rolls on with this third installment in which I will focus on swallowtail butterflies. Florida is home to 10 swallowtail butterflies — more than any other state. They are very easy to identify due to their strikingly large size and their ability to glide long distances between wing flaps.

Much larger than other Florida butterflies, most swallowtails have distinctive tails on their hind wings. I remember the first time I saw one. Actually, there were two, and they were mating. I’ll never forget it! I still thoroughly enjoy watching them chase one another all through my garden.

The giant swallowtails are dark in color — some say brown, others say black —with yellow spots across their fore and hind wings. These distinctive spots serve as protection against predators, as they mimic sunlight shining on dark-colored leaves. Swallowtail’s larvae feed on Aristolochia (Dutchman ’s pipe), which is very abundant here in South Florida.

In the larvae stage (all five), all swallowtails larvae resemble bird droppings. I’ve also noticed that the black swallowtails, when their larvae pupate into a chrysalis near a green leaf, the chrysalis will be green, and when they pupate near a dead brown leaf, the chrysalis is, of course, brown. These clever disguises render them almost invisible to the naked eye, as well as hungry predators.

Another unique characteristic of swallowtails is the osmeterium (tiny orange or reddish Y-shaped glands or horns that protrude from their head). When predators harass them, they emit a pungent odor that resembles old cheese.


The largest in the Papilionidae Family of butterflies is the giant swallowtail. It is North America’s largest butterfly, and can measure up to eight inches across. The giant swallowtail utilizes native wild lime or citrus trees as host plants (the plants that females lay their eggs on, and serve as food for emerging caterpillars). They are sometimes called Orange Dogs here in Florida because they voraciously feed on the leaves of citrus trees.

The elegant black swallowtail is my favorite swallowtail. Its larvae feed on the carrot family, which includes dill, parsley and fennel. Other swallowtails worth noting are the zebra swallowtail, laurel or palamedes, spicebush, pipevine and the eastern tiger swallowtail. Although the polydamas or gold rim butterfly has no tail, it is still considered a Florida swallowtail.

Look for my next butterfly gardening installment, in which I’ll cover (sulfur butterflies in Florida) The Pieridae Family.



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,

Stay Cool, Beat the Heat While Late Summer Fishing

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:35pm

Capt. Pete Rapps

Bob is wearing a long sleeve shirt and wide brimmed hat to beat the sun.

Out on the water, we have sun baking us from two directions. The most obvious is from above, but few think about reflection. The reflection from the water and the white deck of a boat can be equally as strong as directly from the sun. It is imperative to completely cover up if you want to beat the heat and avoid a bad burn. Sunscreen is the most obvious first line of protection, but there is a lot more to protecting yourself from sun exposure.

Wear light colored and light weight clothing. Have you ever worn a black or dark colored shirt in the sun? You heat up real fast, right? I personally wear long pants, long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat all year round, especially in the summer.

People ask me, “Aren’t you hot wearing all of that?” Truth be told, I am a lot cooler in the sun than you are in a tank top and shorts. This is why. As the sun bakes on you, it heats up your skin which holds the heat. Wearing light weight, breathable clothing shades your skin not only from the damaging sun, but also from the direct heat it creates. Columbia makes a fantastic line of clothing made for our extreme summer heat that actually keeps your body cool. Yes, you will still sweat, but that sweat is what keeps your body temperature cool as it evaporates. Without protection, the direct sun on your skin will dry out your perspiration before it has time to do what Mother Nature created it for.

Many of us are wearing “Buffs,” which are thin tube-shaped sun gear made for your neck, face and head. They are made from a light weight, quick-dry, wicking material that offers UV protection from the sun. If you are not sure what they are, you have probably seen fishermen wearing them and wondered why they looked like a bandit. Silly as they may look, they work great!

Lou is sporting a Buff to beat the sun.

If you can, break up your day and get out of the sun during the middle of the day. What I mean is that we all know it’s going to be brutally hot by noon. Many of the fish feel this heat too, and will stop feeding at the peak heat of the day. Your best bite will be early morning until maybe noon, if you are lucky. We also know that the summer afternoon rains are going to occur, which will cool things down a bit. The fish feel this too, and will begin to feed again late afternoon into the evening. With this in mind make a plan to get out fishing early, maybe from 7-11 AM. Plan on getting off the water by noon so you can swim, eat, nap and cool off. Then get back out on the water after our late day showers for some fantastic late day action.

Drink a lot of water! It is also imperative to remain hydrated before, during and after a day on the water. Hydration must occur on an ongoing basis, not just when you are feeling thirsty. Drink water before heading out. Be sure to pack a cooler with lots of ice, and be sure to drink at least 12-16 oz of cool water for each half hour. It may sound like a lot to some, but drinking that much water is necessary for your body. If properly hydrated, you will not feel as exhausted after your day in the heat. Avoid alcoholic beverages, as this will dehydrate you even more!

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 

It’s Gator Hatchin’ Time in the Glades

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:28pm

Stepping Stones
Bob McConville
Master Naturalist

A few weeks ago I took a walk through several different areas of the Everglades, and there was a very distinct and serene quiet, a sound of silence that was not there in early summer.

During the months of May thru July, I could hear the unmistakeable bellowing of male alligators trying to entice the females. Some of these boys have traveled great distances to find a mate. Now, all is calm.

Courtship rituals are complete, and females are tending to their nests, waiting for the young to hatch. The males have moved on, having done their part to assure the survival of the species. The females now bear the responsibility of guarding the unhatched eggs and then protecting the young.

Nearly all alligators, both male and female, become mature when they reach an approximate length of seven feet. It is not a specific age that determines this sexual maturity but rather the physical size and development. Females might require ten years or more to reach this stage and males about eight to twelve years.

Courtship begins in the springtime, and mating occurs in late spring into early summer. The female will then build a nest about three to four feet wide and nearly six feet long. Instinctively the mom-to-be constructs this nest above the high water mark to keep the eggs from flooding, which could ruin them within a day.

The number of eggs, called a clutch, will average about 35 per nest. Once the eggs are deposited in the nest by the female, she will cover them, and they will incubate in the warm sun. Mom will remain near the nest during the entire incubation period, which will last about 60 days. She will protect the eggs from predators, such as raccoons, hogs, otters and even bears, helping to insure as many live births as possible.

This hungry adult female actually raises up on its hind legs in shallow water and then lunges down to catch a fish! PHOTOS BY BOB MCCONNVILLE

When the eggs are ready to hatch, mom will respond to calls from the newborn and will help to dig them out of the nest. She will carry several at a time down to the water in her mouth, open her jaws and shake her head gently from side to side, encouraging the young to swim out. These newborn, about eight inches long, will stay together in pods that could include hatchlings from other nests. They will receive mom’s protection for at least one year, sometimes up to two or three years.

There will be a mixture of male and female in the pod, and that is determined by the temperature of each egg during incubation. Those eggs that incubate at the 90 degree range will hatch as males. Eggs that incubate in the 85 degree range will be females. The intermediate temperatures will yield a mix of male and female.

Mom will quickly respond to any calls from the hatchlings facing danger. Even though the young grow quickly during the first four years, averaging about one foot per year in length, they are easy prey for raccoons, otters, wading birds and some fish. Their most significant predator…large male gator.

Because alligators are ectothermic (they rely on external heat to regulate body temperature), you will usually find them near bodies of water to cool off when the sun gets too warm. The newborn are no exception.

Even though the survival rate of young is only 10 percent, these alligators are an important players in the Everglades’ ecosystem. There is a series of checks and balances in nature here and having a sufficient number of young survive to adulthood is critical to maintain that balance.

When visiting the ‘Glades, keep an eye out for these newborn. It is, indeed, their birthing season.


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

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:25pm

Maggie Gust


By Nadia Hashimi

William Morrow, May 2014, 464 pages


“You know what they say about the human spirit? It is harder than a rock and more delicate than a flower petal.” - Khala Shaima, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel.

In her debut novel, Nadia Hashimi has gifted the world with a wonderfully written, mesmerizing look into a fascinating family drama set in Afghanistan. The main protagonists are Rahima, a young 21st century Afghani girl and her great-great-grandmother Shekiba who lived in the early 20th century.

The story shifts between the young women who share not only DNA, but the fact that both were allowed, for awhile, to dress and live as males. Under a custom called bacha posh families who do not have sons or have a single son may allow a daughter to have her hair cut in boy fashion, don boy’s clothing, be given the freedom of boys to attend school, play in the streets, do marketing and price haggling for the family, earn money for the family, are freed from household chores, are favored by the father and receive the best food at home. After the onset of puberty, the girl has to transition back to a traditional Afghani female, wherein lies much of the poignancy of this exquisite story. Once they have tasted freedom, recognition and respect, the bacha posh can have difficulty adjusting back to their culture’s traditional female role.

Rahima, allowed to become a bacha posh, is one of five daughters. Her outspoken, sharp-tongued maternal aunt, Khala Shaima, who never married due to a physical deformity, visits the family frequently to urge that the Rahima and her sisters be allowed to attend school, that they are as worthy as boys. She also tells them many stories, including that of Shekiba, their great-great-grandmother. Although the girls are allowed to attend school for a short time, after an incident with boys harassing them in the streets, they ultimately end up homebound. Rahima’s father is not a good provider, and had spent much of his young adulthood fighting with the mujahideen against the Russian occupiers. His re-entry to civilian life did not go well. Between his substance abuse and his lack of a son, he was an angry, bitter man. His continued alliance with the local warlord from his mujahideen days will have drastic consequences for his family.

Shekiba was the daughter of a happily married couple. Her father was a farmer who could make any crop grow, a true man of the earth. He taught all of his children to read. Her mother, two brothers and a sister died in a cholera outbreak, leaving Shekiba and her father working the farm. After father dies, Shekiba tells no one and continues to work the farm on her own, dawning her burqa if anyone approaches the homestead. Eventually her deception is discovered, she is moved to her grandmother’s house in the family compound and treated worse than a servant. Her spirit is fatigued at times, but never defeated. Shekiba becomes a female dressed as a male in the king’s harem just outside the palace. The king has learned not to trust male guards.

The description of Shekiba’s life in the harem is interesting and very compelling. The prestige of the concubines, the size of their apartments, their wardrobes and jewelry, were determined by the favor they held with the king. For the most part, this was dependent on the number of male children the concubine bore. The same measure used for Afghani wives, actually. Despite the luxury and leisure afforded concubines, there was always a shadow of danger hanging over them in their silk and jewelry-laden prison. Displeasing the king could be deadly. There is a vivid description of a stoning of a concubine who has entertained another man.

This story is fascinating. Not only is it beautifully written, but the two arcs of the story, Shekiba and Rahima, based a century apart, show the similarities and contrasts of the female role in Afghani society. Shekiba saw the beginnings of modernization for Afghanistan under King Amanullah and Queen Soraya, which included the expansion of the roles for women in society (true historical characters). A century later, Rahima actually participates in the Afghani legislature as assistant to a female representative.

King Amanullah’s efforts to modernize Afghanistan a century ago were met with resistance and rebellion, eventually forcing him into exile after less than a decade of rule. It is still an open question whether today’s efforts to modernize the country and expand the role of women in the Afghani culture will succeed. The message of this book is that through the indomitable nature of the human spirit, there is hope, no matter the external circumstances of one’s existence.

I gave this book a 4.75/5.0 rating. I hated to put it down to work, eat, sleep, and actually read it while I was on the treadmill and bike at the gym. I have barely sketched the stories of these two women; there are many other characters in the book who are just as mesmerizing. The most intense focus is on the women, but the men’s stories are represented as well because more than anything else, this is a novel about family. The men’s fates are also shaped by cultural expectations and how they use the power endowed by their societal structure has consequences for everyone around them. Some choose to brutalize others with this power, while other men choose kindness, empathy and love.

Although not available at Collier County Public Library yet, it can be found in hardback, paperback, audio, and e-format in the usual markets.

The title, “The Pearl That Broke Its Shell,” is a line from a poem/prayer “Some Kiss We Want,” by the 13th century Persian (born in today’s Afghanistan, part of the Persian Empire at that time) poet/mystic Jlal Ad-Din Mohammad Rumi.

There is some kiss we want

with our whole lives,

the touch of Spirit on the body.

Seawater begs the pearl

to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately

it needs some wild Darling!

At night, I open the window

and ask the moon to come

and press its face into mine.

Breathe into me.

Close the language-door,

and open the love-window.

The moon won’t use the door,

only the window.

Nadia Hashimi is a pediatrician practicing in Washington, D.C. Her Afghani parents moved here to the United States in the 1970s, prior to the Soviet intrusion into their country. She grew up in New York and New Jersey, and lives now in Maryland with her husband and two children. I am in awe that she found the time to write this novel, but I selfishly hope she does it again soon. I urge you not to miss this extraordinary book.

I want to thank Diane Bostick for giving me a heads-up on this lovely, compelling story.

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: 

Fishing from a Kayak! Really?

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:23pm

Captain Mary A. Fink

Absolutely! Why not further enhance the enjoyment found from kayaking by taking a fishing rod along? The benefits of simply kayaking are obvious: ease, serenity, exercise and awesome sightseeing opportunities to name only a few. Most prefer to kayak in quiet areas around inshore waters, dense mangrove islands and bays where waters are calm and wildlife is plentiful. Interestingly enough, fish prefer the same habitat that most kayak enthusiasts do! This combination of interests creates a potentially action-packed inshore fishing experience from a small craft in a scenic surround. While it’s true that many experienced kayak anglers have a completely “rigged” craft with all kinds of specialized custom fishing equipment and storage areas, it is not necessary to do so to have an enjoyable and productive experience.

There are some very basic items you will need to take with you as you learn to discover fishing from your kayak. The obvious items being sunscreen, polarized sunglasses, a hat, water and any other essentials you may require. As for the fishing necessities, stick with light tackle, as it is easy to maneuver and store. Light tackle is defined as a spinning reel containing braided line between 15lbs and 20lbs and a rod of 4-5 feet in length. Fluorocarbon leader material is recommended as it is nearly invisible in the water, unlike braided line.

In our local inshore waters, use a chartreuse-colored jig head between 1/8oz and 1/4oz tipped with your desired artificial or live bait offering. It’s obviously easier to fish with artificial baits from your kayak as it eliminates the need to keep bait stored in a live well or frozen in a cooler. If using artificial baits, I recommend using soft plastics in the form of shrimp and mullet imitations for the best presentation with the greatest ease. Be sure to take along extra tackle and a pair of pliers and clippers in the event you choose to change out tackle and jig heads. If your plan is to catch and release, you need not bring along anything else. If you are in search of dinner, you will need to keep your fish on ice until you venture back home where the fish may be prepared.

There are some basic fishing tips I’d like to share with you to help increase your chances of a “hook up.” First, while kayaking, begin to notice any signs of movement on the water’s surface. You may see baitfish schools, tailing fish, jumping or rising fish or just water movement other than the more obvious tidal exchange that may indicate the presence of your target. Next, hug areas of structure like mangrove islands, docks and beaches as these areas provide habitat for most inshore species. Look for areas where water is moving in and around mangrove points and fallen branches. Present your bait as close to these hard structure areas as possible to provoke a strike. Use your small craft anchor when you find a desirable or productive location so you may maximize your time there.

Fishing from your kayak can be fun and action packed, enhancing the enjoyment of a day on the water. The ability to navigate into shallow areas very quietly is a big plus when it comes to fishing inshore waters where fish can be easily spooked. Give it a try today.


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.




Viva Espana

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:21pm

Richard Alan

By the time this story is published, I will be back home on Marco, as I’m writing about my experiences here and now. I’m in a sad-to-leave-but-happy-to-go emotional state of mind. What may seem to many of you like aimless wandering about the southern Iberian coastline actually panned out to a memorable and wonderful experience.


The cities of the Costa de Sol dot the coast line like a beautiful set of pearls. We are currently in Almeria, Spain, which is considered the last but not least wonderful northern-most city on the Costa de Sol. This whole city knows how to party during their summer festivals as I mentioned in my previous “Glitter.”

So far we have visited Malaga, Torremolinos, Marbella, Gibraltar, Cadiz, Grenada and Seville to name a few. At first sight, they do seem similar, but each one has its own history, personality and specialities, such as the wines, cheeses, olive oils, fish, beef and pork that influence each locale’s cuisine. Just about every large city I explored has a mercado — an outdoor-indoor marketplace — that features all the exotic (to me anyway!) local seafoods, meats, cheeses and produce. The choices are endless and fun, and almost every vender offers you a bite of this or a nibble of that. This beats any food shopping experience I have ever had at home. The smell of salted cod and fresh fish reminded me of my childhood at the outdoor market on weekends in Haymarket Square in Boston.

The delicious result of these mercados is evident when dining in the surrounding restaurants; the word frozen food is nonexistent. Another tip…One should always avoid the obvious tourist trap restaurants and ask locals, such as a well-tipped bodega employee, where she or he likes to eat? Of course, it helps that your traveling companion speaks fluid Spanish. This simple method of gastronomic discovery is rarely a disappointing experience and is also easy on the wallet.

Alas, it is time once again to move on, back to our trusty and now dusty Renault. Whatever it is? I grabbed the now well-worn map of southern Spain and asked my co-pilot, “Where next?” A simple finger point, and, “Hmm…this looks good; I’ve heard of that town,” and we’re off!

Two and half hours northwest from the coast is the ancient city of Granada, the home to one of the most magnificent arabic palaces built on the European continent many centuries ago — The Alhambra. I read a little about this mystical place in high school, but I was not prepared for what I was about to behold.

Perched on a high peak overlooking the city of Granada is the most lush and grand Moorish palace I have ever imagined. The sound of bubbling fountains and water rushing by in miniature aqueducts surrounds you as you meander through centuries of manicured hedges, gardens and terraces. Even with hundreds of tourists milling about, there is a feeling of peace and tranquility. The architectural details of arches, walls and ceilings are mesmerizing. It was obviously good to be king or Sultan!

The Moors controlled this palace fortress for many centuries until they were finally expelled by the royal Spanish families in 1492, and there were many changes. Islamic influences became Roman Catholic. The Spanish even added another palace. Parts of the palace suffered earthquakes and desecration and later fell into near ruin until the French conquest in later centuries. The French soldiers appreciating its beauty actually restored parts of the jewel of Granada to its original glory, only to blow up part of the palace when forced to evacuate. It is a miracle so much of the palace has survived to this day.

While poking around the city below Alhambra, we noticed a sign pointing to the whereabouts of the ancient public baths. We expected a dry, dusty relic of what once was, but to my amazement, we found a fully functioning palace of natural hot water open to the public like the bath houses of centuries old. For 14 Euros, you got a towel (no suit) and a locker. I gracefully refused noticing it was co-ed, and bathing suits, I’m sure, we’re optional. Is my proper Bostonian parochial upbringing at work here?

Granada is a mix of the old and new. The sophisticated shopper will not be disappointed with the endless array of elegant shops and boutiques (Thank goodness my wife is not here!) that line the main and secluded alleys. Speaking of secluded, sometimes an object in plain view is the best hiding place, and squeezed between a modern shoe store and dress boutique we found Bodega Enrique. This hidden gem opened more than 140 years ago, and the 300-square-foot bodega (bar) hasn’t a single chair and serves patrons from a narrow armrest of a bar. It is a treasure discovered.

Order a small beer or glass of wine, and moments later a complimentary plate of tapas appear. Order another beverage, and there appears a different tapas. I’m liking this! The tapas can be on slices of bread and can be thin sliced cured Iberian ham, large fresh olives, garlic fish dip with potato or aged sausage. My favorite was the chorizo.

I can’t even tell you what half of the tapas were made from except that they all tasted amazing. What makes this place so special is the unavoidable camaraderie that occurs in a place so small. In moments, the place was packed. We talked to Aussies on holiday, Brits and a French couple, and when the crowd cleared, the bodega-tender, Pedro, was extremely helpful on where to go and what to see.

By and far, Enrique’s was the highlight of the trip, tiny and quaint with only one quality beer on tap and an endless array of wine choices. We signaled Pedro for the check. He came over and wrote the charges upside down on the bar in white chalk. We laughed, paid the bill and he then wiped off the total with a damp cloth. The IRS would love this method of bookkeeping back home! Who has room for supper? Enrique’s is a place not to be missed when visiting Grenada.

On a jewelry note — after all this column is supposed to be about that subject — I can’t help but notice that here on the Costa de Sol there is no lack of high-end jewelry stores, and every shop I saw was deserted. Bars, bodegas, cafés, dance clubs that’s a different story. The young and beautiful people, locals and tourists alike, wear silver and stainless steel but sparingly. The young Spanish men and ladies dress very chic especially at night. It seemed like I was the only one wearing a t- shirt. Want to leave no doubt you’re an American over here? Wear a t-shirt and a ball cap!

Well, my aimless wandering will soon be organized. We are heading back to Malaga so my traveling companion can catch his flight back to Marco. It just so happens my wife is scheduled to arrive at the same airport (coincidence?) an hour later, and we will catch a short flight to Mallorca, where Andrea will force me to follow a regimented program of strict rest and relaxation to relieve my stress. I feel fine dear; I really do.

They say there is no such place as “Margaritaville.” It’s where you make it, and I discovered the next best thing — “Sangriaville” — parking my butt on a sun-drenched, cliff-side hotel in Cala Fornells, Mallorca.

I enjoyed my seemingly chaotic rambling about the southern coast of Spain. In truth, absorbing the life styles of ancient and current cultures and the way these people live, design, create and build everything from A-Z is so different from the way we live in the States. It’s a fact they live healthier and longer than we do because many Europeans work to live and not the other way around. They eat better foods, and stay in shape. Where we would jump into a car to go a few blocks, they walk or bike, and this includes folks in their late 80s.

I have mentioned before the siesta thing would not be a bad idea on Marco Island especially in the slow steamy summer months. What island shopkeeper would mind opening at 8 AM work till12 PM close and re-open from 5-9 PM? At first, customers wouldn’t like it, and neither would my staff. Eventually, though, they would learn to love it. I sure as heck would live longer!

Oh! I almost forgot to mention the new line of jewelry that will be the hottest thing since Pandora. It’s called “Infinity,” and it will be available in late October exclusively at The Harbor Goldsmith. The Infinity line launched a success in Europe and will soon be rage in the U.S.

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

Nine Months to Baby- Proof Your Finances

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:19pm

Ask The CFP® Practitioner
Darcie Guerin

“A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.” - Carl Sandburg, American writer and Pulitzer Prize winner, (1878-1967)

QUESTION: Our daughter and son-in-law announced that they are expecting their first child and our first grandchild! What practical financial advice would you suggest we give to them? 

Answer: First, congratulations, and welcome to the wonderful world of grandparenting. Besides forever changing our lives for the better, babies have a way of boosting economic activity. In fact, when we became grandparents-to-be, my online shopping activity increased dramatically. Perhaps a future column should address financial tips for grandparents! For today though, let’s focus on nine ways your daughter and son-in-law can baby proof finances in nine months.

MONTH 1: Establish or fortify an existing emergency fund with three to six months’ worth of living expenses.

MONTH 2: Closely monitor cash flow and establish a budget. Two websites to check out are to help anticipate the costs of having a baby, and for savings and investment calculators, a printable budget worksheet and other helpful tools. You may also want to suggest that they consult with a financial advisor. Having a baby is a life-changing event that could affect other goals in their financial plan.

MONTH 3: If both parents work, investigate childcare options. Will Grandma care for the baby, or could they share a nanny with another couple while the baby is very young? Having a plan in place ahead of the big day is vital and arranging for childcare is an essential component. Remind them to check into leave under the Family Medical Leave Act or paid family leave if offered by their employers.

MONTH 4: Many couples wait until after the first trimester to go public and break the news about the baby bump. When communicating the news to employers, do so in a professional way and be prepared to answer questions about an anticipated return to work date after delivery. They may consider telecommuting or job-sharing options if possible.

MONTH 5: Stock up on wipes and dipes! The amount of baby stuff available can be overwhelming. A new car seat, diapers, wipes, clothing and a place for baby to sleep are mandatory. The rest is optional, and they can always save money (and the environment) by purchasing some gear secondhand. Just be sure to research items and check for recalls.

MONTH 6: Have a plan in place for the unthinkable. Review life insurance offered by employers, and then consider supplementing it with a term or whole life policy. Disability insurance is also a good idea. Between the ages of 35 and 65, we’re more likely to become disabled than die. A financial advisor can help guide them toward the coverage that best fits their situation. One last thing: Make a reminder to add the baby to their health plan as soon as possible after birth.

MONTH 7: Update their will. They’ll need to plan for the care of a minor child in the event both parents die at the same time. Work with a trusted financial advisor and qualified estate attorney to make sure all bases are covered. In addition, if there is already an estate plan in place, be sure to review and update documents with the appropriate beneficiary information. This may be time for Grandma and Grandpa to review their estate plan as well.

MONTH 8: Start (or keep) saving! According to the U.S. department of Agriculture, child-related expenses average $12,600 to $14,700 each and every year. If there is extra money in the bank when baby arrives, consider starting a college savings account. Choose from a 529 savings plan or a Coverdell Education Savings Account, among other options. However, don’t divert funds from retirement accounts to a college fund. There are scholarships and loans available for education but not for retirement needs.

MONTH 9: Reap the tax benefits. In 2014, they can claim a $3,950 exemption for having a child, as well as a refundable child tax credit of up to $3,000. They may also want to adjust the amount withheld from paychecks for taxes.

The first year of a baby’s life is happy and hectic. It’s a good idea to get as much done before delivery day as possible so everyone can enjoy each moment. When their little one arrives and the to-do list is checked off, they’ll thank you for helping to baby proof their finances. Stay focused and invest accordingly.

The information contained herein is obtained from sources considered reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. This information is general in nature, it is not a complete statement of all information necessary for making an investment decision, and is not a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any particular investment. Investing involves risk and the possible loss of principal invested, investors may incur a profit or a loss. Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and subject to change at any time.

Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any outside web site or the collection or use of information regarding any web site’s users and/or members.

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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: