Grace's Mosaic Moments


Saturday, January 23, 2021

A Vaccine Tale

 The front page the Orlando Sentinel, January 21, 2021:


Joe Biden, Jr., Dr. Jill Biden holding family bible, Kamala Harris below


And with the above, a great whoosh of relief swept the land, leaving Trump culters scratching their heads. (I understand many still believed right up to the moment above that Trump would triumph in his attempt to overthrow democracy.)

The Inauguration ceremony was a marvelous display of adept planning, uniformly intelligent and articulate speakers, outstanding performers, and all-around good will, a striking contrast to what we've endured these past four years. And capped by the  "Youth Poet Laureate," Amanda Gorman, who stole the show, not only with her poetry but as a representative of the youth of our great country. The "class" and smooth-running of the inaugural event bodes well for the competency of those now running our country. 


And now, a little light relief before moving on to Covid-19 . . .


After 3 days of fog at their rental in Gatlinburg, TN, where Susie & Mike took a short vacation, the clouds parted long enough for this photo


 

I have had cats all my life but I have never had one who created his own housing (playground?) with his teeth. Below, two pics of Ganesh, the photogenic feline:




















A last-minute addition:

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was photographed among all the glitterati at the Inauguration sitting on the stairs wearing mittens hand-made by a constituent who uses recycled materials. An enterprising college student turned the photo into a meme, which has now been placed against who-knows-how-many different backgrounds, providing loving amusement for all, as well as an example of American resiliency. We needed a bit of humor in a time of stress, and who better to provide it than a kindly gentleman who's twice run for President and whom almost everyone likes and respects, even if they don't all agree with his politics. Of the thousands of versions, I thought this one particularly clever.

 


 
And as a musician and choir member, I also loved this one:




 A Vaccine Tale

I received my first Covid vaccine shot (Pfizer) this week, plus an appointment for Shot #2. And in the process of doing so, I learned rather a lot about what my county is doing that seems to be working so much better than most other counties. (The long lines of seniors out on the sidewalk in the cold or lined up in their cars all night that have been shown on the news are absolutely appalling.) After my experience, I can only advise all county and state governments to look to Seminole for how it should be done. (The federal government as well, now that we have a President who gives a #$%^.) In short, after a few weeks of experimentation, Seminole County seems to have nailed it, and I'm going to attempt to summarize its efforts below.

 1. Many of the members of my choir (now a hand chimes group) are health care workers. They received their shots first, as expected.

2. Nursing Home roll-out was slower, some of it supposedly due to getting all permissions signed.

3. And then vaccinations turned to those "65 & older," and the fun began. Advent Health (a vast hospital service in Central Florida) sent an appointment sign-up to all its patients, but the site was at Orlando International Airport, a maze I gave up navigating even when I lived only a few miles away. Now that I'm older and more than 20 miles away . . . By the time I contacted my daughter about driving me, all appointments were gone. Sigh.

4. So I began to search my own county - Seminole. Not an easy job at first, but after a shaky start, they soon got their act together, resulting in:

    a.  a hot line (with a really easy number) which advised you to . . .

    b.  Text "Covid-19 info" to a six-digit code. That instantly put your name and cell phone on an Alert list to receive notification of the next batch of appointments at the Oviedo Mall right here in Seminole County.

5.  I had no sooner done this than my daughter called - she had been researching on my behalf, and by what she called "arrowing down to the bottom of the page," she actually talked to a live human being who signed me up for a "canceled" appointment only four days away. Wow!

6.  Meanwhile, the evening news said that Seminole County was in the process of expanding their site by moving to the old Sears building in the Oviedo Mall. Also . . .

7.  The county organized mobile units they were sending into parts of the county where residents were less mobile, such as Goldsboro in Sanford. They also sent units to senior retirement homes (not nursing homes), and even set up a special site to vaccinate teachers over 65.

8.  Meanwhile, I received a "ticket" for my appointment, an exact address for my GPS, and instructions on what ID to bring with me. Also instructions on when to arrive - not more than 10 minutes early.

9.  THE BIG DAY.  I've been close to home for so long that I allowed an extra 30 minutes for getting lost, taking my Kindle to pass the time while I sat in my car once I had the right door in my sights. (I was able to get a parking space within c. 30 feet of the entrance.)

10.  My ticket read:  3:00-3:30, so at about 12 minutes before 3 I joined the line outside the door (carefully socially distanced by stickers on the sidewalk).  There were perhaps a dozen people already in line. At somewhere around 5 before 3, we were asked:  "Are you all 3 o'clock?" An eager chorus of "Yes" and in we went.

11.  Inside, the vast empty space had been set up like an airport check-in, with black stanchions and bands delineating U-shaped aisles. The line moved rapidly to the first check-in—a show of my ticket and Florida driver's license. Then a young man (the only person I saw who looked bored) gave me a number. 

12.  On to a desk where I turned in my ticket, was given paperwork to fill out, and directed to an area of chairs (socially distanced) where I could fill out & sign the required info. I had barely scribbled my name, when my number was called, and I was escorted into another section of the vast space where an EMT was ready to give me my shot. Over and done in no time. BUT the "observation" time he put on my paperwork added up to 25 minutes when I'd expected 15! (Likely due to my advanced age, or maybe just his poor math.) 

13. OBSERVATION. So there I sat with nothing to do but look around at all the other people doing the same. (I had failed to remove my phone from its holder in the car. And I noted with interest only a few were checking their email or whatever. No one was chit-chatting, almost as if everyone recognized it would be an intrusion on the solemnity of the moment.)  During this time three EMTs sat at a desk facing us, occasionally talking with each other. There were no emergencies while I was there - I could only give thanks that the Powers That Be had provided help "just in case."

14.  When my "observation time was up, I went to the desk where people were making appointments for their second shots. And here I ran into the first glitch of the day. Just as it was my turn, they ran out of appointments. But no one told me, "Sayonara." Only "Wait a minute while we get more." When I mentioned that I didn't stand well, I was provided with a chair, and sure enough, in maybe as little as 5 minutes, someone came back saying the new appointments were being downloaded, and by the time she sat down, there they were, and I had my pick of new times.

15. Just to gild the lily, we were each presented with a sticker that read:  "I got the Covid-19 vaccine." (Talk about "organized"!)

If you've read this far, I believe you can see why I was impressed. But there's more. Throughout this process, each and every worker I encountered was smiling, friendly, and empathetic. A tour de force by the Seminole County health care system and Seminole County Emergency Management. Hats off. I salute you!  

~ * ~

 Book Two of the Matthew Wolfe series, tentatively titled Matthew Wolfe - The Adventures Begin, is on the home stretch. Hint: our hero is now in his early 20s, with a mistress a decade older than he is, and shocked to discover his young friend from Kent is old enough to have a London "Season." For a little light relief during these stressful times, please check out Book One, The Making of Matthew Wolfe.



For a link to Matthew Wolfe on Amazon,  click here.

For a link to Matthew Wolfe on Smashwords, click here.

 You will also find background details on the Who, What, Where, When, & Why of Matthew Wolfe on my Facebook Author Page.

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here.

 For Blair's website, click here.

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft 


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Turbulent Times

No photos this week, no Writing or Editing advice, not even a plug for one of my books . . .

 

And no, "Turbulent Times" does not refer to Covid-19, although the surge of the Pandemic surely reduces us to tears (both sadness and frustration). 

I am talking about the shocking assault on Democracy that occurred on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. 

About 2:00 in the afternoon I turned on my TV to check the vote going on in a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives, a vote that should have been a rubber stamp of the Electoral College vote, but which some of our elected officials had threatened to delay. And, to my astonishment, I found a scene of insurrection unfolding on my screen. I sat there, glued to CNN, for the remainder of the afternoon. Horrified and disbelieving.

Was this mob led astray by the bombast and lies of our President?  Yes.

Did our President incite these people to violence?  Without a doubt.

And as the investigation develops . . .

Why weren't the capital police prepared for this assault? (Social media had been full of threats of violence for days.) Were some complicit? Were they ordered to hold back? Certainly, most did their jobs—one died and many were injured—but it will likely be months before the entire truth is known.

Did our President refuse to send aid when the breach occurred?  Yes.

Should our President be ousted from office even though his term will be over in a matter of days?  Let's face it, any reprimand can only be symbolic at this point—there isn't time for anything more—but hopefully, whatever happens will be enough to force him to abandon politics forever.

Are most Americans appalled by our President's actions?  The majority, yes, but far too many still have their heads stuck in lala land.

Where do we go from here?  I do not envy Joe Biden, now faced by not only by the problems of the Pandemic and rectifying Trump's decimation of our government, but by the shocking threat to our basic Democracy which Trump's lies and dictatorial bombast have implanted in all too many people's minds. 

I am willing to believe that the vast majority of the crowd that marched on the Capitol on Wednesday were victims of the Cult of Trump, believing his lies about a fraudulent election and genuinely considering themselves patriots, the "Minutemen" of our time. Like the followers of Jim Jones who swallowed poisoned Kool-aid back in 1978, these protestors swallowed Trump's swill "hook, line, and sinker," and are fortunate they did not end up dead like the 900 followers of Jim Jones. Most of those in Wednesday's crowd are not bad people. Just deluded. Yet after four years of brain-washing, how long will it take for them to see the light?

Unfortunately, very few of the "gullible" described above were among the armed insurrectionists at the front of the crowd storming of the capitol. This action was led by a hardcore group, who fully intended violence. (They had, in fact, boasted about it for days on social media. And for some mysterious reason no one took them seriously.) They came prepared for violence, complete with guns and zip ties for immobilizing potential hostages. I cannot help but wonder how many were "true believers," how many were anarchists using Trump as an excuse, how many thugs being paid to riot, how many just plain crazy. I doubt we'll ever know.

A handful are now in jail, many more being actively sought. (I can only shake my head that someone would think they could prop their boots on Nancy Pelosi's desk and NOT go to jail. Sigh.) 

Apologies for that somewhat light-hearted aside. Five people died, two by violence; three from medical emergency. Help was far too long in coming. 

The simple truth:  we need to work hard to make this the end of the Culture of Untruth; to let Blatant Lies, Incivility, and the attitude of To-Hell-with-Anyone-but-Me disappear along with the most disgraceful, embarrassing, and shameful President in the history of the United States of America. Be gone, good riddance, good-bye! And don't even think of coming back.

Surely, our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)




Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Need to Read

 I was watching CNN this morning and cringed at a Yale "expert" advising that we might have the end in sight by this time next year. Sigh. (He also suggested that full Recovery would likely be followed by a period of Going Wild!) Anyway, this mix of bad news/good news reminded me of photo I found on Facebook which covers the current situation pretty well.


So here's wishing we all avoid the pitfalls and will be looking back on 2021 with less animosity than we did on 2020.

 

Evidently, Ganesh chewed his own pop-up hole.


  

Susie made one of her trips to the beach in Venice (FL) this week and shared these sunset pics. (Venice is on the Gulf of Mexico c. 20 miles south of Sarasota, 60 miles south of Tampa.)


 



THE NEED TO READ

 I have expounded on this topic a number of times over the years, but it's never been more relevant than now, when we're struggling with isolation brought on by the Pandemic. It is not just authors who need to read, discovering what's being done in their genre, getting the feel of how other people put words together—do I love that or hate it? It's a case of ALL of us needing to read. I don't care if it's a comic book or graphic novel. I don't care if you insist on hardcover, paperback, Kindle, tablet, cellphone, or whatever. I don't care if it's Mystery, Romance, or Thriller. A literary treatise or a Best-seller. A religious tract or How to Declutter Your House. Sports news or the local gossip sheet. Just READ! If all else fails, turn on the Subtitles on your TV programs!

In times like these, reading can save your sanity. Reading is a lifeline to whatever world you choose. In my case, my taste has moved to an almost steady diet of Mystery, SciFi, and Fantasy. But yes, almost all have a strong romantic theme. I am a lifetime devotee of Happily Ever After. [Side story:  The Ghosts of Rushton Court has been my personal best-seller ever since it came out. But every once in a while I frown at my Amazon sales statistics where it lists "Returns" and ask myself, "Who on earth would return a book everyone seems to love?" And then it occurred to me. My ghosts are intriguing but benign. About as far from Stephen King as one can get. If a person enjoys Tales of Horror, then Blair Bancroft's stories of Regency Romance, Family, and Humor are definitely not for them.\

I repat - it does not matter what you read. Only that you invest a bit of that extra time you likely wish you didn't have in doing something besides complaining, brooding, or twiddling your thumbs. Treat yourself to a good story. To poetry - modern or classic. To a sewing lesson. Want to learn to knit, crochet, do counted cross-stitch? There are books for that as well. Maybe you'd like to learn more about a person you admire - living or long dead. Or maybe the truth behind some truly heinous historical character, like Adolf Hitler. (A lesson we could all use in these precarious times.)

Perhaps you'd like to find out how "Waterloo" joined the language? Or the expression "crossing the Rubicon" - and yes, that one goes all the way back to Julius Caesar. Maybe you're a skeptic - have you read any of the books that question the teachings of the religion you were brought up in? Have you ever read about someone else's religion? Hmmm - perhaps their beliefs aren't  so different, after all. 

Personally, I'm too pragmatic to tolerate books on Philosophy, but hey, that's just me. This is a great time to explore something new. And if that means the latest book by your favorite Romance novelist, that's great too. Crack a book; read a newspaper or magazine; turn on your e-reader device, whatever it may be. But DO IT! READ, READ, READ, READ, READ! You'll be amazed what a great job reading does in bringing joy into your life; or at the worst, banishing depression.

~ * ~

I've added a couple of patriotic prints to my mask fabric list:

Mask Flags

  

 

Mask Fireworks (the "specks" are silver sparkles)


Mask Winter (the dots are gold sparkles)

 To order or for further information:  blairgak@gmail.com

 ~ * ~

 


For a link to Ghosts on Amazon, click here. 

For a link to Ghosts on Smashwords, click here.

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft) 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Politics & More Politics

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY HOLIDAYS

to all as we attempt to keep traditions alive
in times more dire than most of us have ever known



As a grandmother, I'm not quite sure how to react to the following photo. Initially, Wow! Later, a bit of a cringe. And yet I come from a long line of gun-toting Nebraskans. As I recall, my mother was better at hitting a target in a lake in Maine than either my father or his friend from Harvard Graduate School who owned the cottage where we were staying. But basically, that's the only time my parents shot after moving to New England (too many people around, my father said), and I was raised gunless. The same for my three children - my husband gave away his guns when we were married. But my daughter married a devoted member of the NRA, and the grandgirls learned to shoot at an early age. Looking back, I'm inclined to think that's probably more good than bad, but there are times this photo gives me the willies. Nonetheless, I give you . . . the Reale Rangers. (And yes, the guns are real.)


Hailey, Riley, Cassidy

 

POLITICS TIMES TWO

I've been avoiding politics since the election - no sense beating a dead horse, as the saying goes, but since our President has been so busy doing just that, I can't resist posting a couple of things that have come my way in the past week. The first was shared by my son. Please note that it is a FABRICATED rebuttle to some Texans threatening to secede from the United States if Trump does not remain in office. But it's extremely well done, and well worth reading. (It comes under the heading: "Some People Are So Clever!")

 

This content was created by a Daily Kos Community member.

From the Office of President of the United States.

Dear Texas,
 

We have received your petition to secede from the United States, and have forwarded it to Congress who will act on it with their usual speed.
 

Any Texas citizen holding a US passport is required to surrender it immediately. Entry into the US will require a valid Texas passport. Anyone staying longer than two weeks will have to obtain a visa. Any Texas citizen (those with birth certificates issued from Texas or currently holding a Texas driver's license unless they can show a non-Texas birth certificate) in the United States have 72 hours to leave or be deported with a permanent ban on returning to the United States. This includes former Representatives and Senators from the former State of Texas.

Funding for highways, transportation, bridges, infrastructure, education and medical facilities will cease immediately. Your representatives to the US Congress are ordered to leave Washington DC immediately.
 

All US licenses to do business are revoked. All business interests headquartered in the Country of Texas are immediately severed from doing any business in the United States, until appropriate international business agreements are in place and appropriate international business licenses are negotiated. All power lines and pipelines that cross the border will be disconnected immediately, to be reconnected only when appropriate international contracts, treaties and agreements are in place.
 

The FAA will no longer operate at your airports, and all air traffic controllers are terminated. All air traffic management over the new independent Texas is your own responsibility, effective immediately. All Federal Civil Service employees in the country of Texas are terminated. All flights between Texas and America are canceled until appropriate international agreements are in place.
 

The FCC will no longer operate in Texas effective immediately, so you will be responsible for licensing your own telephone, radio, television and Internet providers. All telecommunications circuits between the two countries will be severed immediately, to be reconnected once appropriate international agreements are negotiated.
 

All US Federal services operating in Texas are terminated and their functions will be relocated to the territory of the United States immediately. Citizens of Texas who were formerly employed by the US Federal Government and wish to continue in their now-relocated jobs may apply for United States green cards through the usual channels.
 

All payments for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Disability to Texas citizens are halted with immediate effect. Recipients will have to reapply, and Congress will decide if foreigners are allowed to receive payments from the United States government. Any funds coming from the United States federal government will be halted immediately.
 

Effective immediately, the independent country of Texas will no longer receive protection from the United States military. All military bases in Texas will be closed, and personnel relocated to bases in the United States, except for a contingency left to guard the Texas-US border. Effective immediately, the United States Coast Guard and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will no longer operate in Texas waters, aside from actions specified by International Maritime law and custom. U.S. Customs officials will be removed from all border crossing stations immediately. We suggest you form your own navy and immigration department immediately to protect your borders against foreign invaders, drug smugglers, terrorists and illegal aliens.
 

Good luck.
 

Sincerely, Joseph Biden
President, United States of America
 

P.S. Attached is an invoice for your portion of the bill of the National Debt.

~ * ~

And on a more serious note, here is a commentary on the Trump presidency (found on Facebook):

Over the weekend, Republican Steve Schmidt, who ran John McCain's 2008 campaign for president, was interviewed on MSNBC. In response to a very general question regarding the Trump Presidency, Mr. Schmidt spoke for two solid minutes and gave the most insightful and brutally honest response of what the Trump Presidency has done to our great country.


“Donald Trump has been the worst president this country has ever had. And, I don't say that hyperbolically. He is. But he is a consequential president. And, he has brought this country in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply unimaginable if you were pondering where we are today from the day where Barack Obama left office. And, there were a lot of us on that day who were deeply skeptical and very worried about what a Trump presidency would be. But this is a moment of unparalleled national humiliation, of weakness.”


"When you listen to the President, these are the musings of an imbecile. An idiot. And I don't use those words to name call. I use them because they are the precise words of the English language to describe his behavior. His comportment. His actions. We've never seen a level of incompetence, a level of ineptitude so staggering on a daily basis by anybody in the history of the country whose ever been charged with substantial responsibilities.”


"It's just astonishing that this man is president of the United States. The man, the con man, from New York City. Many bankruptcies, failed businesses, a reality show, that branded him as something that he never was. A successful businessman. Well, he's the President of the United States now, and the man who said he would make the country great again. And he's brought death, suffering, and economic collapse on truly an epic scale."


"And, let's be clear. This isn't happening in every country around the world. This place. Our place. Our home. Our country. The United States. We are the epicenter. We are the place where you're the most likely to die from this disease. We're the ones with the most shattered economy. And we are, because of the fool that sits in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk."

~ * ~

 

A reminder that The Making of Matthew Wolfe is designed to add cheer to your Holiday Season as well as to help alleviate the Covid blues. And it's on sale at 99¢ through December 31. (You can take advantage of that 20% free read on Smashwords to see if it tickles your funnybone.) And for those who do not own an e-reader, Amazon makes it very easy for you to download books directly to any device, including your computer and your phone.

 


 

For a link to Matthew Wolfe on Amazon,  click here.

For a link to Matthew Wolfe on Smashwords, click here.

 You will also find background details on the Who, What, Where, When, & Why of Matthew Wolfe on my Facebook Author Page.

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here.

 



 For a link to Magic on Amazon, click here.

 Please note that Making Magic with Words is FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft) 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Would you believe - a Sports post?

 Photo gallery first this week:


I fear Ganesh may be in for a surprise.



Found on Facebook, though none can rival the town in Wales - the name that extends all the way across Ireland. (I've been there, by the way.)
 



And for something even odder than the names above - our Hailey playing Powder Puff football at Lake Mary High, with the boys' football team acting as cheerleaders. 

 

Hailey & friend

For a video of girls playing football (American style, but no tackle), including actually completing a couple of passes, click here.

 

Grace note:  I've been saving the article below for when we were most in need of a smile, and these dark days seem to be it . . .

 

A Soccer Tale

From the front page of the Sports section of the Sunday Orlando Sentinel, November 22, 2020 (columnist - Mike Bianchi):

If only Exploria Stadium could have been filled to the rim with chanting, cheering supporters in order to give thousands more of our city's long-suffering sports fans the opportunity to witness the greatest moment in Orlando City [soccer team] history

That is the only regret of this historic, euphoric day in Central Florida when Orlando City played, hosted and won its first playoff game in the most dramatic, ecstatic, amazing, hair-raising, heart-stopping, champagne-popping manner you can possibly imagine.

How does this even happen? How does Orlando City break a 1-1 draw and win on penalty kicks with a substitute, fill-in goalkeeper who hasn't played the position since he was a kid out on the soccer sandlots in his native Argentina?

Can you believe it?
Can you conceive it?
What a team.
What a coach.
What a game.
What a magical moments in time.

So, what caused Mr. Bianchi's euphoria? It seems the game was tied in Overtime, the Orlando goalkeeper ejected on a penalty. The referee declared that substitutes were not allowed, and there was Orlando City facing a penalty kick with no goalie. So one of the team on the field, who had played goalie only as a child, volunteered. And saved the day, Orlando later winning on a penalty kick in a second Overtime period.

~ * ~

 

 

I just finished Chapter 5 of the next installment in the Matthew Wolfe series, tentatively titled, Matthew Wolfe—the Adventures Begins. I invite you to check out our young hero (who is rapidly growing up) with a 20% free read on Smashwords, so you'll be ready for what comes next.

For a link to Matthew Wolfe on Smashwords, click here.

For a link to Matthew Wolfe on Amazon,  click here.

 You will also find background details on the Who, What, Where, When, & Why of Matthew Wolfe on my Facebook Author Page.

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here.

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)