Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Unique Peek and Raffle On Sanibel Offer Lots of (Sur) Prizes

Our friend Orlene on Sanibel is one of those good people who is always doing something good for others...her kids, her friends, us, just about everyone she knows.

So when Orlene tells us about something she thinks is worthwhile, we listen.

We recently received an email from Orlene telling us about an event called Peek at the Unique, a paid tour of exclusive homes on Sanibel Island. And so the good flows. The monies raised through the $60 per ticket price for the tour will go to the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva to support organizations that are improving the lives of women on the islands, in Lee County , as well as internationally.

Specifically, the tour monies will benefit these worthwile organizatons:

FISH of Sanibel and Community Housing Resources (CHR)

Brightest Horizons Child Development Center

PACE Center for Girls

Miracles in Action and GRACE, for projects combating Human Trafficking

Southwest Florida Addiction Services

Partners for Breast Cancer Care

The tour will offer a sneak peek at some exclusive homes not available for viewing by other means.

But the surprises don't stop there.

Those who take the tour---- as well as those who don't---- will have an opportunity to win some wonderful prizes in a raffle. The six raffle prizes are:

A Platinum Sapphire & Cabochon Pendant by Jeffrey Bilgore/Lily Co. ($3,500 value)

A Dinner & wine-tasting meal for six, catered by Chef Melissa Talmage ($850 value)

A hand painted island style table by Teri Causey of McGregor Art Gallery ($600 value)

A shopping spree at Chico 's Eileen Fisher & Soma ($750 value)

Two roundtrip tickets between any 2 cities on Southwest Airlines ($800 value)

A Sanibel Sea School boat tour w/picnic from Sanibel Deli & Coffee Factory ($600 value)

Raffle tickets are $10 each. We liked all the prizes so much, we bought a ticket for each one.

There will be SIX separate drawings. The winners for each item will be drawn on Saturday, March 14th, at the conclusion of the Peek at the Sanibel Community Church on Sanibel. Winners do not need to be present to win.

So, if you want to see some really nice homes, here's what you do: Call 1-877-424-3572 for tickets. The "Peek" has sold out each year so call now if you're interested in attending this special event. And if you would like to purchase a raffle ticket for those great prizes, send an email to: with the subject heading RAFFLE TICKETS.

All orders & checks must be received no later than March 11th

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Easter Week On Sanibel Is A Gift from The Sea

Back in 2005, in honor of the 50th anniversary of its publishing, a reporter wrote a column about the book A GIFT FROM THE SEA written by Anne Morrow Lindberg.

Lindberg, mentioned in a previous blog post, was the wife of renowned aviator Charles Lindberg, and was a woman for all times in her own right.

Her book was described by the reporter as a series of meditations and essays where Lindberg muses about the various stages of a woman's life. In each stage the author compares it to a different sea shell. The work, considered both philosophical and poetic, was largely inspired by a brief sojourn on Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

To this day, women of diverse backgrounds and ages who read the book are touched and inspired by it.

Lindberg's words not only inspire, they guide the reader into how to experience the sea, and through analogy, how to experience life.

The following excerpt from A GIFT FROM THE SEA , often quoted, underlines the importance of experiencing the sea and its bounty in a leisurely fashion: "The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach waiting for a gift from the sea."

The lesson here is that if we wait, not seeking, not searching, but staying still and letting the good come to us, we will be rewarded.

The same can be said for the overall Sanibel experience.

Sanibel can be an active destination or a passive destination. If you choose to visit the Island during Easter week, April 11 to 18, you can do absolutely nothing or you can explore, bike, boat,fish and collect shells.

The holiday is also a time to take your kids on a real special hunt, an Easter Egg Hunt. The Spring Easter Egg Hunt has been held at the Historical Village and Museum grounds as well as other sites on the Island.

So sit back and let the Island come to you, or reach out to find the joy of Sanibel. Either way, you will have many gifts and many memories to treasure forever.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hats Off to Nature: Easter Special on Sanibel

I had a great and funny dream last night.

I dreamt I was on Sanibel for the week of Easter, April 11 to 18.

And there was an Easter Parade.

But not the usual Easter Parade.

This one was a parade of animals. The line up was alphabetical. First, came the alligators, then the Anhinga, then the Armadillo. Then came the Bobcats, the Bobolinks and the bats. They were followed by crows, catbirds and cobia. The parade went on and on, lining the entire distance of Sanibel-Captiva Road with creatures of all species, size and nature. And, if you are familiar with the vast number of creatures living on Sanibel, you can imagine the enormous expanse of this special Easter parade.

It was amazing to have all these Sanibel critters lined up and so docile, those from land as well as those from the sea. But what was even more amazing is that they were all wearing Easter Bonnets.

Even in my sleep, I was in awe that such a phenomena was taking place.

When I awoke, I pondered the message of the dream.

Did I want to be on Sanibel for Easter Week? Of course there was no doubt of that. Sanibel is a special place under any circumstances and holiday weeks are made more special by experiencing them on a tropical, natural, beautiful Island.

But what also occured to me, is that in all my years visiting Sanibel, in all the viewings of birds and animals and sea creatures, I have only seen the tip of the pyramid of the vast number of creatures living on Sanibel.

So I think my dream, as surreal as it was, allowed me a viewing I will never have in real life. It will take two centuries of daily observations to see all the beautiful creatures, great and small, that call Sanibel home.

Oh, what a wondrous place it is!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No April Showers on Sanibel but Lots of Painted May Flowers

Temperatures on Sanibel Island in April are just about perfect.

It is warm, sunny and bugless, with little rain and no real storms. In fact, April has the least amount of rain of all 12 months of the year with an average of only 1.1 inches.

As point of comparison, August has 9.7 inches. (but keep in mind most of the rain in Sanibel in summer comes late afternoon and through the evening, days are generally hot and sunny!)

In addition, in April the Gulf is warming up, the crowds are leaving.

Air prices are coming down and nature is coming back.

Best of all, the month of April, while bringing few to no showers, does bring an opportunity to create beautiful May flowers. No, not those planted in the ground, but those painted on canvas.

The Sanibel Captiva Art League offers "paint-outs" all year long. So wanna be, aspiring and even seasoned artists can join together and paint outdoors, creating flowers or the scenes before them. Every Thursday throughout the season starting at 9AM –the group meets to "paint out" and has lunch at different locations on the island with a brown bag lunch each painter brings with them. According to the group, visitors are most welcome. Car pooling is encouraged due to limited parking spaces in many of the locations.

The April "paint outs" are as follows:

  • April 2 Casa Ybel Resort
  • April 9 SCCF Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation
  • April 16 Tarpon Bay Marin
  • April 23 Gramma Dots Café and Marina
  • April 30 Castaways Cottages

The Chairperson for the April paint outs is Randon Eddy who can be reached at 239. 395. 4518.

Plan your vacation for Easter Week, April 11 to 18 now and you can fill the rest of winter with the sunshine of your dreams! (and don't forget to bring your favorite paint brush when you do get to Sanibel!)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Spring Break Attractions for Kids On Sanibel

Ok, so your kids are not going to be satisfied just walking the beach, scooping shells, swimming, biking and boating.

They need to do more than that to feel like they have been on a vacation?

There's no need for a moment of boredom when you vacation on Sanibel, for Spring Break or any time of the year.

As mentioned in earlier posts on this blog, the Sanibel Sea School offers programs for adults and children. For children with curiosity about their environment, there is no better way to learn.

The Sanibel Sea School promotes marine conservation. Through research and education, Sanibel Sea School teaches children and adults about marine ecosystems. Using the setting of the barrier island habitats of Sanibel and Captiva as an opportunity to touch, feel and understand, the school provides a close up of sea life. Through this experience, students will gain an intimate perspective of the ocean, its inhabitants and the tightly woven fabric of our global environment.

Completion of a class is awarded with a certificate of mastery, something your children can bring home along with their shell collections.

In addition to the Sanibel Sea School, C.R.O.W. (the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) offers children and families an opportunity to see how wildlife is rescued and treated successfully before release back into the wild. If your children have ever expressed interest in being a veterinarian, this experience will be fascinating for them.

And if they need a little more excitement, there are segways and scooters for rent on Island, parasailing adventures, and canoe and kayak rentals. And, just off the Island are the rides and games at Fort Myers beach. From March 21 on, the Water Park in Cape Coral will provide all the thrills your child needs in a family friendly environment.

Bored on Sanibel? Only if you want to be!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Let the Music Begin: Great Festival to take Place in March on Sanibel

A neighbor and dear friend complained about the dreariness that often sets in during March on the North East Coast. Yes, I agreed, March can be an endless month with gray skies and still no promise of Spring.

Why don't you go to Sanibel for a week or two I suggested, and shorten the month with some sunshine and balmy weather?

At first she resisted, saying that she might get bored, devoted as she is to classical music and relying on live performances to brighten her spirits in the gloom of winter.

When I sent her the link to the Sanibel Music Festival, she lit up. "Oh, I can have sunshine and warm weather AND great music, too!" I helped her make her plans, including those to attend the Music Festival:
Tuesday, March 3, Trio Solisti
Comprised of three brilliant instrumentalists, violinist Maria Bachmann, cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach and pianist Jon Klibonoff, the trio has drawn high praise from The New York Times and the Washington Post. They have made critically acclaimed debuts at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap and the prestigious Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy. They are the founding ensemble of Telluride MusicFest and have often been featured on NPR’s “Performance Today” and “St. Paul Sunday.” In 2003, they were the subject of a documentary video, “Trio Solisti Explores Beethoven,” directed by Academy Award nominee Josh Aronson.

Schubert: Nocturne, Brahms: C minor Trio, Brahms: Hungarian Dances Nos 1 and 5, Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Piazzolla: Le Grand Tango

Saturday, March 7 - Biava Quartet

The Biava Quartet, winner of the 2003 Naumburg Chamber Music Award, is recognized as one of today’s top young American quartets. In 2007, they were appointed as the Lisa Arnhold Quartet in Residence at the Juilliard School. They previously were the graduate quartet in residence at the Yale University School of Music, where they served as teaching assistants to the Tokyo Quartet. Violinists Austin Hartman and Hyunsu Ko, violist Mary Persin and cellist Jason Calloway have performed in major music halls throughout the world, including Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress and London’s Wigmore Hall. In 2006, they received a grant from Chamber Music America. Biava’s festival appearances include Aspen, Mostly Mozart and with Itzhak Perlman.

Mozart: Quartet in B flat major KV 458 "Hunt", Turina: La Oracion del Torero, Barber: Adagio for Strings, Grieg: Quartet no 1 in g minor op 27

Tuesday, March 10 - Natalie Zhu, Piano
This exciting young Chinese pianist enrolled at the Curtis Institute at age 15. There, she received the prestigious Rachmaninoff award and later went on to join the faculty as staff pianist. Her many awards include the 2003 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award. She won the Astral Artistic Services 1998 National Auditions, the grand prize in both the 1988 and 1989 Young Keyboard Artists Competition and was the top prize winner in the first China International Piano Competition. The Philadelphia Inquirer heralded a recent recital as a display of “emotional and pianistic pyrotechnics.”

Beethoven: Sonata no 2 op 10 in F major no 6, Schumann: Kreislerina op 16, Chopin: Ballade no 2 in F major op 38, Ravel: Pavane for a dead Princess, Chiayu: Among Gardens, Bach/Busoin: Chaconne in d minor

Click here for more information on Natalie Zhu

Saturday, March 14 - David Finckel & Wu Han

Cellist David Finckel and his pianist wife, Wu Han have served as the Artistic Directors of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 2004. They are also the founders and Artistic Directors of Music@Menlo, a chamber music festival in Silicon Valley that has garnered international acclaim since its inception in 2003. Wu Han has mesmerized SMF audiences in solo recitals, in duo performances with her husband, and as soloist with the Pacifica String Quartet. David Finckel is the cellist of the renowned Emerson String Quartet.

Corigliano: Fantacy on a Bach Air for Solo Cello, Janacek: Poladka for Cello and Piano (Fairy Tale), Edwin Finckel: Brief Encounter, Schumann: Phantasiestucke for Clarinet or Cello and Piano, Glazunov: Chant Du Menestrel op 71, Grieg: Sonata for cello and piano in A minor op 36

Click here for more information on David Finckel and Wu Han

Tuesday, March 17 - Prazak String Quartet

Now in its 35th year, the quartet is firmly established as one of chamber music’s pre-eminent string ensembles. Formed at the Prague Conservatory when the original quartet members, including violist Josef Kluson and Josef Prazak were students, they soon began to win top prizes, such as the Evian and the Prague International Competition. Since then, the quartet has been joined by violinists Vaclav Remes and Vlastimil Holek and cellist Michal Kanka. Their instruments include a circa 1730 first violin and a 1710 cello. The quartet is a regular guest in major international capitals and festivals, as well as at U.S. venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
Richter: Divertimento for String Quartet op 5 no 1, Janacek: Quartet no 1 "Kreutzer", Dvorak: String Quartet no 12 in F major "American"

Click here for more information on the Prazak String Quartet

Saturday, March 21 - Opera Theater of Connecticut

Returning to SMF after triumphal appearances in 2007 and 2008, a select group of six of the company’s vocal artists will present an exciting new program of opera highlights. Artistic Director Alan Mann adds his witty and informative commentary before each selection. Several of the company’s gifted young singers who have performed at the Festival through the years have gone on to the Met, the New York City Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

PROGRAM: Opera's Devine Moments - Scenes from Your Favorite Operas
Rigoletto, Verdi - Act IV excerpts including the Quartet and the "Storm Scene"; The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart - Act I, Scene ii (in English); Carmen, Bizet - Act IV, finale; Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti - Act II, Scene ii excerpts including the "Wedding Scene" and the Sextet; Die Fledermaus, Strauss - Act II and the "Party Scene"(in English)

This year's voices: Rachel Watkins, Sarah Heltzel, Victor Khodadad, Mark Womack, Nicholas Masters and David Ossenfort.

Click here for a review of the Opera Theater of Connecticut

Tuesday, March 24 - Pacifica String Quartet

The “brilliant Pacifica” (The New York Times) is the resident quartet at both the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago. They have swept top prizes in several leading international competitions from the Cleveland Quartet Award to the Naumburg. They were only the second chamber music ensemble to be selected for the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. Violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violist Masumi Per Rostad and cellist Brandon Vamos are known for their virtuosity and exuberant performance style. They tour the world’s major concert halls and are often heard on Chicago’s WFMT, Boston’s WGBH and NPR’s Performance Today.


Mendelssohn: Quartet in E minor op 44 no 2, Legeti: Quartet no 1, Mendelssohn Capriccio in E minor op 81 no 3 Beethoven: Quartet in f minor op 95 "Serioso"
Click here for more information on the Pacifica String Quartet

For information and brochure please call (239) 336-7999

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Trade the Highway for the Blueway: Great Sanibel Condo Open for April 11, May through August Weeks

Tired of that commute on the highway to get to work? Don't blame you. Sitting in traffic is never fun. So let your thoughts drift.

Instead of cars and traffic and dismal weather, picture this:

You are on a different kind of "thoroughfare", no traffic, blue skies, birds above your head, manatees swimming next to you, warm sunshine on your face and arms. No horns blaring, different scenery along the way, no tolls, no watching the gas tank needle drop.

Where are you?

You are on the Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail. You are in a kayak. You are alone with your thoughts, or perhaps accompanied by loved ones in nearby kayaks. You are at peace.

According to Lee County's Parks and Recreation Department, the Calusa Blueway is truly unique.

It's a 190-mile marked canoe and kayak trail that meanders through Lee County's coastal waters and inland tributaries.

Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast is dotted with sugar-sand beaches – slivers of paradise on barrier islands. What’s harbored behind the islands, though, is a maze of mysterious mangroves – leggy, saltwater tolerant trees – and wildlife that rivals destinations North Americans need passports to visit. The trail’s trek through shallow water keeps paddlers safely away from places powerboats travel, and it puts them closer to nature, where blush-colored roseate spoonbills feed at dawn, schools of silver-hued fish dart beneath their boats and lumbering manatees feed on sea grasses.

The trail provides recreational opportunities, cultural and environmental awareness, and boosted safety with a low environmental impact for Lee County’s 2 million annual tourists as well as its 600,000 residents.

It effectively unveils the mystery of the mangroves and estuaries but does so with ease so any newcomer to paddling can explore the waterways once plied by the Calusas, the natives who thrived for centuries in Southwest Florida before the Spaniards’ arrival. Many Calusa landmarks, such as shell mounds, remain and are noted on the trail.

Unlike most U.S. and Canadian paddling trails, the Great Calusa Blueway is marked with signs. Think of them as Hänsel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs. Further safety is provided with Global Positioning System coordinates on Lee County Park's Web site. Free maps are printed with grant money and are available at various locations — outfitters, marinas, retail sites, parks, boat ramps, office buildings, chambers of commerce, airports, visitor centers, etc.

The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail was created to help people experience the natural magic of Lee County. Forget The Discovery Channel or National Geographic. Come paddle yourself, one-on-one with nature.

It's a great way to spend Spring Vacation, and you're in luck.

Picture this:

At the end of of a day of wondrous paddling, you head back to your condo on Sanibel Island.

Windows are open, the last rays of sunlight fill the rooms as ceiling fans twirl above your head. A large and inviting master bathroom with a huge shower beckons you to refresh yourself. It's been a great day and the night may be even better.

April 11 and weeks in May through August are awaiting your booking. Why hesitate?