Showing posts from 2020

COVID-19 Update: December 30, 2020

Lee Health, the main hospital system for Lee County, now has both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.  At this point, the vaccinations are taking place three days a week in designated rooms at Lee Health’s Gulf Coast Medical Center and the Cape Coral Hospital. "Lee Health is currently vaccinating its key workers and employees over 65," said Lee Health board member and Sanibel resident Stephen R. Brown, M.D.   "They are preparing to inoculate the general public over 65 and those with pre-existing conditions. Then the general public.   Even with the vaccines we will still need to follow current protocols. Personally, I'm excited about Johnson and Johnson vaccine which should be ready in February. " COVID-19 numbers in the Lee Health system have trended upward during this last week of 2020.   The COVID-19 positivity rate (percent of tests that are positive) for the Lee Health test collection sites has increased from 25.7% on December 21 to 32% on Decemb

Vaccinations are beginning in Lee County

Good news!  Lee Health officials report that today (Monday, December 21) is the day they will be receiving the first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine.  “We will begin vaccinating employees as soon as possible,” writes the Lee Health Facebook page manager. Because this first supply is limited, the Lee Health system will start with vaccinating employees with the highest risk of exposure.   That includes those who work in the emergency department, intensive care, COVID-19 units, respiratory therapy, and the COVID-19 test collection sites. These Lee Health employees will go to one of two locations, Gulf Coast Medical Center or Cape Coral Hospital, to receive the vaccine.   Although vaccinations are just starting in Lee County, over 32,700 vaccines have been administered in the state of Florida as of today, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. In a December 15 update sent to hospital board members, Lee Health CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci wrote, “I assure you tha

COVID and the Sanibel Community

December 15, 2020 The number of COVID cases posted on the City of Sanibel web site is meaningless, because it includes only people who reside in Sanibel.   Our community is so much more than just the people who live on Sanibel. For all Lee County residents, Sanibel is their jewel of a sanctuary island, a place they can visit and treasure.   Those people are also a part of the Sanibel community. The people who work in Sanibel businesses and non-profits for the most part live on the mainland.   Still, they are a part of our Sanibel community. The people who come to work on building, repairing, or enhancing our built environment and landscapes are also an important part of our community.   Most of them, too, live off island. And of course, Sanibel visitors are a significant number of those present on the island every day, especially in late Fall through early Spring.   They are part of the Sanibel community, too.   To protect our greater Sanibel community, our city council pass

In the Days of Roger and Lucia

When Roger and Lucia Wilcox would come to their winter home on Sanibel Island in the 1950s and 1960s, they led a relatively quiet life.  People on Sanibel were aware that the couple was well-known in the East Hampton, New York, artists’ world, where they often entertained and organized events.  In Long Island, their names were frequently in the newspapers.  But Sanibel people respected their privacy. Lucia Anavi was born in Beirut in 1902.   Her mother was French, and her father was Lebanese.    Early in life, she started to become a gifted painter, sculptor, and cook.   So at age 14, she left home to live in Paris. There she became a part of a legendary group of artists, including Piet Mondrian, Picasso, Marc Chagall, Carlos Montoya, Max and Jimmy Ernst, and many more.   Some of them encouraged her to go to night school, so she enrolled in the Académie Ronsard. In 1938, she and her partner at the time, Fernand Leger, left Paris for New York at the urging of arts patrons Gerald a

A Big Job in a Small Town

Running for election to the Sanibel city council is not a decision to be taken lightly. The city council consists of five people who serve four-year terms.   Every two years, a municipal election is held in which two or three of the council members are elected.   Sanibel city council members serve voluntarily, with no pay.   They should be year-round residents because important decisions regarding the city budget and other issues are made by the council during the summer months.   In addition to attending city council meetings, each council member serves in liaison roles in organizations throughout the region.   The council meets at least once a month.   In the days before each council meeting, members receive much information to read in preparation for many agenda items.   The time commitment is significant.   Council meetings alone can last for 5 or 6 hours or more. Sanibel City Hall Before deciding to run for the Sanibel city council, potential candidates should prepare by atten

Guide to a Caring Return

It is that time of year again.  Snowbirds and others who have homes elsewhere are returning to their south Florida abodes.  Those of us who are here year-round notice the change in traffic and general business of everything.  This ebb and flow of population is nothing new to us. But this year of the pandemic is different, and calls for new considerations. For those who are returning, here are some suggestions.   Just the very fact that you have traveled from here to your summer place and back means that you have been more at risk of COVID exposure than those of us who did not go anywhere at all other than a couple doctor appointments.   Some of you have traveled far more.   I’m sure that wasn’t easy. First of all, when you talk to us, please do not imply that our measure of isolation is too extreme.   Our degree of isolation may be due to an underlying medical condition that you don’t know about.   Risk taking for you might not be the same for us.   White Pelicans returning

When the Vendée Came to Captiva

 The Vendée is a department of France that has a few things in common with Sanibel and Captiva; the most obvious is beautiful sandy beaches.  Tourists from everywhere visit these beaches.  Birds nest in nearby mangroves along the coast of the Vendée, just like they do on our islands. However, the Vendée produces fine chicken, duck, lamb, brioche, a well-known raw cured ham, corn, wheat, and sunflowers – ah, those beautiful fields of sunflowers!   As you would expect for a coastal area, oysters and mussels are exported from the Vendée, too.   Ham with white beans is a famous dish from the Vendée, as is a garlic bread called préfou .   And of course, the Vendée produces wine. While Sanibel and Captiva long ago lost their agricultural economies, the islands did experience, for a couple glorious years, the talents of Chef Jean Grondin, another product of the Vendée.   From 1985 until his untimely death in 1987 at age 37, Chef Grondin lived on Sanibel and ruled the kitchen of a restaura

Life, full of flavor

When I was little – too little to know about cake possibilities – I always got angel food cake for my birthday.  It was good – sticky, mild and sweet – and I suppose in all my blonde fairness, the adults thought that angel food cake seemed to be a good match for me. But then I grew up.   My skin is darker, my blonde hair is more like brown with a few highlights – both silver and gold.   My taste in cake and all other foods is broad and intense.   I love strong flavors, spicy and exotic foods, and chocolate – the darker and richer, the better.   I am what is called an adventurous eater. The most chocolate cake possible is a dark chocolate flourless torte that the French call La Bete Noire – the Black Beast.    It is so named because of its flavorful intensity.   I am the baker in this house, so yesterday I made my own Bete Noire, topped by a rich, dark chocolate ganache, for my birthday today. So now, at age 65, I am one of the adults.   I choose the birthday cake that I like best

RBG and Gentle Persuasion

Many people have noted the strength and effectiveness of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Her gentleness was also noteworthy.  She learned about this quality from others.  From her mother-in-law, she learned that “in every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little bit deaf.”  Ruth applied this advice in her interactions at work, not just in her marriage.  Her reason was practical; she said, “When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out.  Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”  She believed that collegiality was essential to the mission of the Supreme Court. Ruth Bader Ginsburg from the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Photographer: Steve Petteway / Public domain She learned about gentleness from some of her professors.   At Harvard Law School, Professor Benjamin Kaplan used the Socratic method in class “always to stimulate,” she said.   “Never to wound.” On the Supreme Court, despite their differences, Justice Scal

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 Midd

Sanibel Voters Must Meet the Challenge: Keep Sanibel Special

Sunset at Sunset Bay, Sanibel 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

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. Sunrise on Dinkins Bayou, on Sanibel Island (photo by Barbara Joy Cooley) 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 servi

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 18 th 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.  


I was a very shy little girl.  I was so shy that 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 fifth-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 dread

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 official

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. A wide variety of masks are for sale at where 100% of the profits directly supports the conse