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Hermit crab shells out a lot of love

Some things just don't fit in an interview, and yet I have to tell you about them.

This is about Faith, a hermit crab whose sisters Hope and Charity died of old age, but who has lived with Brigitte Walker in her St. Petersburg Beach condominium for 10 years.

Hermit crabs are the funny little things that appear to be all claw, and believe, "If the shell fits, wear it." When they outgrow their shell condos, they simply move to a bigger one.

Mrs. Walker is the translator of technical German about whom I wrote last week. Mrs. Walker has no idea what sex Faith is, but refers to her as she "because the word crab is feminine in German." She finds Faith an ideal pet, not much of a talker but a communicator nevertheless, and she doesn't bark and annoy her condo neighbors.

"She eats anything I eat, but her favorite thing is peanut butter," Mrs. Walker says. "She turns around in it, rolls in it like a dog." Faith likes to roll in other things, too, like chicken.

Mrs. Walker also is sure her pet knows her scent. "They have two long feelers for distance and two short ones for scent," and these two short ones come out when Mrs. Walker is around.

When Faith is let out of her dishpan-size cage with the wire mesh on the top, to romp on a blanket, she never goes past the edge, says her owner.

Faith comes out of her shell once a year and molts, shedding her entire exoskeleton, and then bolts in a flash into a new shell. "The first time a crab did this I thought she was dead," Mrs. Walker said. The crabs go from a boiled lobster red to a beautiful orchid shade when they molt, she said. Mrs. Walker offers a collection of pretty larger shells for the renewed Faith to move into.

Mrs. Walker, who cuddles Faith up to her face, admits her pet is "not very attractive without her shell. Her body looks a little like a maggot." Which may be why she is such a quick change artist. (Truth be told, she is no dazzler even with her shell.)

Faith can be left for about two weeks with a food supply, but any longer than that and Mrs. Walker will board her at $6 a day.

"It's a lot but she's worth it," she says.

When artist Janice James learned the newly decorated counseling rooms at the St. Petersburg Police Department needed art, she donated two of her paintings. She also allowed interior designer Linda Noble Welch to choose which paintings would best coordinate with the color scheme.

The rooms were decorated and painted by the Exchange Club of St. Petersburg, and are used for interviewing and counseling victims of violent crimes.

Wedding bells will really set up a clamor in Darlene Chicoine's household. She, her mother and her two daughters all are engaged to be married.

"It just kind of happened, and all within three months of each other," said Ms. Chicoine, who has not set the date when she will marry Thomas Curran.

Her mother, Gloria Weber, will marry Roland Erickson on Nov. 28.

Ms. Chicoine's daughters Jacqueline Chicoine, who will marry Brian Gephart, and Christie Chicoine, who will marry David Raab, have not set their wedding dates, either.

"Right now we're all helping mom plan her wedding," Ms. Chicoine said. "She hasn't had a real wedding before." Mrs. Weber's ceremony and reception will be at VFW Post 4364 in Kenneth City. Darlene is to be matron of honor, and Jennifer, Jacqueline's 4-year-old daughter, flower girl.

Everybody's in action. The St. Petersburg Woman's Club opens its fall season with the annual Opening Tea at 1 p.m. Friday at the Woman's Club, 40 Snell Isle Blvd. NE. Prospective members are invited and will hear a musical program by Lynn Ball, Junior Woman's Club president, and Todd Donovan, local baritone.

The Garden Club of St. Petersburg is into its second event of the fall with a Fashion Show Luncheon at noon Oct. 13 at the Garden Club Center, 500 Sunset Drive S. Professional models will show fashions from the Breckenridge Resort Shop and Martha Wood will lend her artistic hand to the decor.

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Colombian Folklore Group will present food, music and dances from Grupo Folklor Colombiano, plus more from the Philippines, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and other countries from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday at The Pier. The event is free.

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