Showing posts from 2014

The Polystyrene Problem

December 27, 2014 – The Social Action Committee at my church last year discussed the problem of Styrofoam cups – or, more accurately, polystyrene cups.  We know that polystyrene is bad because we are forbidden to put it in our regular recycling bins in Lee County (where Sanibel and Captiva are located), and the assumption is that it goes to the landfill instead.  Well, that isn’t exactly right, because all household trash in this county is taken to the award-winning trash-burning power plant, where its volume is reduced by 90 percent and it is turned into an inert ash.  The ash is what goes to the landfill.
That sounds good, but I remember the problematic trash-burning power plant in Columbus back in the 1980s and 1990s.  It was plagued with emissions containing too much dioxin, as I recall, and perhaps too much mercury, too.
But the Lee County trash-burning power plant does not seem to have those emission problems.  In fact, it is held up as a model for other cities that consider bu…

A Window into the Past

December 18, 2014 – The busy-ness continues as we surge toward Christmas.  Tom has gigs to play as the various bands are booked for holiday events.  He plays every night this weekend!  Yesterday late afternoon was another Mardi Gras fundraiser planning committee meeting for the below-market-rate housing program on Sanibel.  We actually had fun at the meeting, posing for goofy party-planning photos.  The full committee showed up, having been forewarned that the next meeting, after Christmas, will be only four weeks before the event.  I delighted in watching the few fellow Zontians at the table deal with one difficulty in the committee.  I had to do that at an earlier meeting, with the same difficulty, and now the others were taking up the task, with zeal.  It is nice not to have to do the heavy lifting all the time.  I love being surrounded by other leaders.
One of my newer Zonta friends who was there, Joyce, is also joining the Committee of the Islands board, and so she saw me in actio…

What keeps me so darned busy?

December 8, 2014 – With each passing week, my Google calendar is filled with more and more colored blocks, some of them overlapping.  ‘Tis the season. Tom has joined another band.  This is number 5 or 6, I think.  It is a concert band that actually rehearses (!) and he attended one of the rehearsals, at Whiskey Creek, two days before Thanksgiving.  He forgot to pick up the Thanksgiving pie on his way home from that, so we hopped in the van together and went to pick it up on that Tuesday, late afternoon. One of the island real estate, McCallion & McCallion, was giving the pies away to all of their customers and colleagues.  When we arrived at that time of day, the place was busy with people popping in to say hello and get a pie.  It turned out to be a pleasant, short social occasion, and we had a nice opportunity to chat with Andy, the surveyor.  We really need for Andy to go back and re-stake our home site at Cooley Hammock, because when the first load of fill dirt arrived for the h…

The Wild West of Sanibel, Part 1

November 22, 2014 – One day last week, we decided to walk to the beach, starting from the site of our planned home on Cooley Hammock at the west end of Sanibel.  We walked directly from the house pad (fill dirt has been spread out on the cleared part of the site) through the jungle to the southwesternmost corner of the 3.6 acres, exiting the brush at the bike path.  We walked northwesterly up the bike path for a mere three minutes, then crossed Sanibel-Captiva Road.  We were already at the beach.  A three minute walk isn’t bad; all we need to do is create the path in Cooley Hammock from the house site to that corner of the property. We walked down the beach (southeasterly) past just two houses, one of which is huge and named “Mandalay,” and then we were on a pristine beach that has no houses; instead, a bayou and acres of mangroves separate the beach from the homes on San-Cap road.  When we’d been walking for about ten minutes on the beach, we were at the entrance to Silver Key, an alm…

The Creepies Who Live With Us

November 14, 2014 -- My friend Sharon recently wrote a post on Facebook about the lizard who lives in her condo.  Judging from the photo she posted, I’d say her lizard is a “house gecko,” a non-native species that originates in Southeast Asia, or it might be a Mediterranean gecko, also a non-native.  She calls him “Squiggles.” Similarly, we have a couple of native lizards called anoles living on our screened porch.  The reason that Floridians like us permit little lizards to live in our space is that they eat bugs.  Sharon’s Squiggles is eating no-see-ums (sand fleas) and little spiders.  Our screen-roaming anoles eat no-see-ums as they try to squeeze through the “no-see-um screen.” Sharon asked her friends if she should put out a little bowl of water for Squiggles.  The answer is definitely “yes”; the little guy will dry out and die if he can’t get any water in the condo.  Our anoles are able to leave the porch via a space under the screen door, so they can reach the pond in the back y…

The Good Side of Politics

November 12, 2014 --  Five years ago, I was asked to return to a position on the board of directors for the Committee of the Islands (COTI), a non-partisan political committee on Sanibel Island.Then I was asked to be the president of that organization – a job I held for four years, meeting my term limits.I’m now in the middle of one last, post-presidential, year on that board. One of the first things I did when I began my time as president was to review the history of the group, doing much research in the archival files at the Sanibel Library.  I wrote an article about the history of COTI, and later I adapted the article for the “history” page of the COTI web site at .  Go ahead and read that page if you’re interested in Sanibel.  I’m proud of this organization’s roots in the founding of the City of Sanibel – an act of defiance to protect the fragile barrier island from over-development.  This history has to be updated from time to time because COTI cont…

Don't Cage Me In

October 31, 2014 – Many people in southwest Florida put cages over their swimming pools.  These metal frameworks support screen panels that keep bugs and other critters out of the pool area.  The screen also blocks some sunlight, enough to make it difficult to get a sunburn inside a pool cage.  Since the screen blocks light, it also obscures the view a bit; that is I something I do not like at all.  Fortunately, the two community pools in our neighborhood are not caged.  They weren’t even fenced until several years ago, when an insurance company insisted on fencing.  My husband Tom was president of the homeowners association when that happened. Our neighborhood, which has traditionally prized its natural landscape and setting, resisted fences for aesthetic reasons.  Scholar that he is, Tom studied other pool fences on the island and, together with the groundskeeper, Ray, came up with a plan for an almost invisible fence for each pool. Tom’s observations taught him that black chain link …

Wildlife and a Wild Life

October 28, 2014 – Even the short and routine walk down the street to the community pool can yield surprises.  Several days ago, a small alligator (4 or 5 feet long) was sunning itself on the grass between the lagoon and the dirt road where I walked.  The alligator’s mouth was open, giving the impression of the gator smiling, or perhaps getting ready to bite something.  But that’s not the case; gators usually do this open-mouth thing to cool off.  
What surprised me was that the weather was not hot; the temperature was a comfortable, dry 72 degrees F.  I didn’t think the gator should be that hot.  I hope he/she is okay.
After I swam my 2 kilometers, I walked back to the house.  On the way, I noticed that the gator was gone.

The next day (Friday), I decided to run in the deep end of the pool.Suspending myself vertically in the water, with no floats, I literally run as fast as I can for an hour.This is more difficult than swimming 2 kilometers, and it is much more difficult than treading w…

Conservation, Champagne, and Mahogany

October 23, 2014 – Bailey’s General Store is at the heart of Sanibel.  Literally, it is in the middle of the wide part of the island.  Functionally, Sanibelians go there often to acquire the basics for everyday life – namely, groceries and hardware. Bailey’s is in a ground-level building that pre-dates hurricane code, and it has a long covered sidewalk in front, part of which is decked out with rocking chairs, a few small tables, and other chairs.  
The other part of the covered front walk is where all the doorways into the grocery and hardware store are located.  The center doorway is the most frequently used entrance, and that’s where the manager/owner Richard Johnson (married to Mead Bailey Johnson) often permits nonprofit organizations to set up a table from which raffle tickets are sold or information is dispensed.
My friend David and I were scheduled to sit at a table there on Monday, for two hours at mid-day, to dispense information about Amendment 1 – an item on the ballot for No…