Harissa and happy memories

The summer of splendid isolation is what I call this time, in a deliberate effort to keep my spirits up.  In this year of horrors, my husband Tom and I are doing our part by staying home, not allowing the virus to find us.  The previous 22 summers of our lives we took ourselves and our computers to Paris, where we summered in the city.Even if we never return to Paris, that city has changed us in what seems like a thousand little ways.We didn’t drive for those months in Paris, so not driving anywhere much now isn’t so strange for us.In Paris, we learned how to live comfortably enough without air conditioning even when summer turns wickedly hot.Tom loves the French bakery breads so much that I’ve now learned how to make a boule[1] that we’d be pleased to find in a Parisian bakery.We experienced the full range of French cuisine, as well as so many other ethnic cuisines that can be found in the big city.In Paris, we came to love certain aspects of North African and Middle Eastern cuisine,…

Sanibel Voters Must Meet the Challenge: Keep Sanibel Special

Sanibel voters will be electing three new city council members in March.  Since there are only five members of council, this will be the majority of members – newly elected.  That is a rare occurrence, and it is a great opportunity for residents to ensure that their interests will be represented on council.  Rumors abound about who may be running for election to these positions.  At least it seems that this time candidates will probably not be running unopposed, as has happened at times in the past.The Sanibel Plan, the document that has guided us in ensuring that Sanibel remains special, states clearly by way of background for the Sanibel Vision Statement that we have a challenge before us:“The specter of rampant development has diminished as the community has matured. Nevertheless, unwanted changes are occurring; visitation increases as new ‘attractions’ are developed; beaches and refuge areas are becoming stressed by overuse; traffic congestion is turning to gridlock; and formerly …

The Plan

Sanibel Island has about 18.1 square miles of land – similar in size to Manhattan, which has 22.8 square miles.  Two-thirds of Sanibel’s land is designated as conservation land, owned by the City of Sanibel, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, the Federal government, or the State of Florida.The island’s biggest landowner and land manager is the Federal government, with 8 of those 18 square miles.The land use of the remaining 10 square miles is strictly regulated by the City of Sanibel.The guiding document for that control of land use and development is Sanibel’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, better known simply as the Sanibel Plan.
From its beginning in 1976[1], the Sanibel Plan has recognized that “unlimited future population growth would be hazardous to health, safety, and welfare of the public.” The plan also notes that restriction of development is needed for “adequate delivery of services and natural resource protection.”This is the rationale for Sanibel’s limit on the tot…

Red Horse Bread

During the pandemic, I cook all of our meals at home.  I try to keep as much variety in the fare as possible; I’m always trying something new, or reaching back to re-discover traditional southern foods that we love.  I cook French, Italian, other European, North African, Thai, Indian, and of course, southern American soul food. I just put away the deep fryer for a while, in the interest of cardiovascular health, after having made some fried chicken and red horse bread this week.Red horse bread is a form of hush puppy, but the history of red horse bread pre-dates hush puppies.The earliest recorded use of the term “hush puppy” dates to 1899[1].But those puppies were inspired by red horse bread, which dates back to pre-Civil War times in the Carolinas.Some even trace the roots back to creative cooking by 18th Century nuns in Louisiana.My husband’s father, whose name was also Tom Cooley, made red horse bread, which he called red hoss bread, and served it with fish.My Tom has fond memories…


I was a very shy little girl.  I was so shy I shuffled my feet when I entered a room full of people.  I lacked self-confidence.  Because I was a year younger than many of my classmates (due to my passing an early entry kindergarten test), I thought I was inferior.  The teachers that I had for kindergarten through third grade did little to help me come out of my shell.Then came the reading test and Mrs. Hardesty.I took the reading test, convinced that I would be placed in the remedial group.Instead, I was placed in the small group of kids who read exceptionally well.I was incredulous, but then I had to admit, I loved to read books – real books, the kind that serious adults read.And then there was fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Hardesty.She was a lovely, energetic, and whip-smart lady who loved to teach kids.She brought out the best in each and every one of us.My self-confidence grew enormously.I felt happy about my possibilities.Before Mrs. Hardesty, I dreaded school.During and after Mrs. H…

It is not about the money

By and large, what fuels our local government, the City of Sanibel, is income from property tax.  Where does most of this revenue come from?  Residential or commercial property?
According to the Lee County Property Appraiser’s 2020 Preliminary Tax Roll Totals for Sanibel, the island has about $4.87 billion in taxable residential property out of a total of $5.36 billion in taxable real estate.By and large, it is the residential property owners, not commercial property owners, who fund the City.
In addition to property tax income, the City of Sanibel has some other revenue streams, such as charges for services like planning department permits and solid waste tipping fees.Much of these are services for residential property dwellers.
By definition, those who vote in Sanibel elections are Sanibel residents.
Sanibel residents should rule when it comes to making decisions about how this island is governed and developed.Do they?Do elected and appointed officials always put the interests of r…

How to Save Lives and the Economy

How economically valuable is a face mask mandate in terms of reducing the need for broad lockdowns with their well-documented negative effects on GDP (Gross Domestic Product)?  That was one of three questions that the people at Goldman Sachs recently answered, using their analytical tools.[1]  You can read the nitty gritty details of how they conducted their analysis in their recent publication on the subject, but here is the bottom line from Goldman Sachs:
“Thus, the upshot of our analysis is that a national face mask mandate could potentially substitute for renewed lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from the GDP.”How serious is a 5% drop in the GDP?That’s about how much the GDP fell in the first quarter of 2020 – the worst quarterly decline since 2008, during a deep recession.Our economy cannot sustain continued declines such as this.

“Our analysis suggests that the economic benefit from a face mask mandate and increased face mask usage could be sizable,” the Goldman…