Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Ghosts of Rushton Court

I played with the supernatural for my Gothic tale, The Blackthorne Curse, and now for my very first ghost story . . .

 A Regency ghost story inspired by the classic saying:
"Marry in haste, repent at leisure."

The widowed Lady Marian Talbot is keeping a low profile as her exquisitely lovely sister, Vanessa, makes her come-out. Yet somehow it is Marian who attracts the attention of the most eligible bachelor London society has seen in a decade, a marquess who has spent the last dozen years in India. After a whirlwind courtship, Marian—now the Marchioness of Rushton—arrives at her new home, only to discover she is expected to solve the challenges of dealing with her husband's hostile brother and sister, his illegitimate young son, and a staff at war with itself. And, as if that weren't enough, Marian must also adjust to a panoply of ghosts, all supposedly benign, but that becomes doubtful as someone—or some thing—makes repeated attempts to kill both the marquess and his new bride.

The Ghosts of Rushton Court is currently available on Amazon and Smashwords. (And on several other online vendors within the coming week.) Background information on the writing of Ghosts can be found on my Facebook Author Page.

 For a link to Ghosts on Smashwords - with a 20% free readclick here.

For a link to Ghosts on Amazon Kindle, click here.

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

~ * ~


The contest for the two bargello evening purses will be coming soon, but I want to allow enough time for Smashwords to make Ghosts available to its affiliated vendors, such as B&N's Nook, Kobo, etc.

~ * ~

For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.
For a brochure for Grace's Editing Service, Best Foot Forward,


Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Harrowing Tale 2 + Disney


If you clicked on the recording of the Lake Mary High School's Chamber Choir singing "The First Noel" (posted 12/15/18), you will understand why they were invited to sing at Disneyworld twice this year, resulting in enough passes to take my daughter, three grandgirls, and me to Animal Kingdom. We were accompanied by another member of the choir and friend, plus two Citrus Singers and their mother who have season passes to Disney. Which means I went to Animal Kingdom with two mothers and SEVEN teenagers!

Actually . . . the kids were great. With everyone making sure Gramma (on her rented scooter) was still tagging along. Yes, the holiday crowds were horrible—I was in constant terror of mowing down a small child or bumping a heedless adult, but somehow we made it through the day, not leaving until well after dark, so we could enjoy the magnificent lighting in Pandora, the area of Animal Kingdom based on the movie Avatar. The imagination that went into creating this "world" is absolutely astonishing. Also, the animation is "next generation." Highly recommended.

We could not get onto the Animal Safari until late afternoon, which turned out  to be good, as the animals were gathering to be fed, and we saw more than we ever had before. The lion even stood on his cliff and roared three times. Wow! I'd never before heard a lion roar "live." But one giraffe nuzzling another was the pic of the day. (For the Safari tour, people ride in open trucks - the animals are free to roam.)

So here's your vicarious trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photos by Susie and Riley.

Outside the Dinosaur ride (which I do NOT recommend!)
 Those who watched the latest Citrus Singer video (the visit to Savannah) will recognize Abby (second from the right, between Cassidy & Riley).

I wanted to see dinosaurs, but this ride turned out to be a wildly jerky thrill ride where our jeep attempted to escape dinosaurs that popped up for about two seconds at a time. Ugh!

Pandora, however, was marvelous. This was our first time in this new part of Animal Kingdom.

One of Pandora's Hanging Mountains

Pandora as darkness approached

Tiger - NOT on the Safari tour but in a habitat all his own


Nuzzling giraffes
~ * ~

And here it is, Part 2 of last week's "Harrowing Tale." When I went to copy it, I discovered I had added a title. 

[Grace note: The story has been slightly revised at the end as I did not make the original as clear as I should have.]

How Not to Drive the Grandchildren Home
from the Singing Christmas Trees - Part 2

At the end of Part 1, you may recall, all seemed to be well.  The three little girls and I had finally arrived at my house (one hour after leaving the church).  We ate supper and were watching a movie when . . .

Mommy turned her phone back on and called to say that the concert was running longer than expected and could I please take the children home and put them to bed.  I was still nerve-wracked to the bone, but food had helped, so I only twinged slightly at the thought of putting the girls back in the car and driving three blocks.

I loaded everyone back into the SUV and arrived at their gated community a few minutes later.  I reached for the gate clicker I assumed was on the visor, and . . . oh-oh.   No, the girls didn’t know where mama stashed the clicker, but they assured me I could punch in a code.  Alas, I had to tell them that the code only worked until six p.m.  After that, you have to have a clicker or someone has to be at the house to buzz you in.  ( I recalled one memorable evening when my son-in-law climbed the gate, all eight feet of it, at 1:00 a.m.)

“We can go in your car, Gramma,” said the girls.  So we turned around and headed back to my house.  But as I drove toward my house, it occurred to me that if I drove my car, we wouldn’t have the built-in garage-door opener on the SUV.  Without which I’d need a key to my daughter’s house.  And it seems that I no sooner have a key made than my daughter sends someone to borrow it.  So if I drove the girls’ home in my car, we could get through the gate but might not be able to get into the house. 

Believe me, at this point if I hadn’t already decided I had a few thousands words to say to my daughter when she got home, this would have been the final straw.

Just as we pulled into my driveway, the 6-year-old said, “Gramma, why don’t you get the clicker from your car?”  I sat there behind the wheel and gaped.  Out of the mouths of babes!  I told the girls to stay put, went back into my house (which I could only access through the front door as my daughter's SUV had no way to open my garage). I pulled the gate clicker off my visor, and back we went to the eight-foot gate. And this time—Yay!—we made it through. We did not, however, use the garage door opener in the car as the 7-year-old was gung-ho to try every key on my ring to see if she could open the front door.  Which she did while the rest of us stayed in the car and watched.* 

She yelled for us to come in, and then proceeded to turn on the Christmas tree and the many other Christmas lights throughout the house so I could see them.  A special moment after all we’d been through.

When my daughter and her husband finally got home, the girls were in bed, their halos still shiny, and I laid out the whole tale, woe by woe.  My daughter looked at me and said, “Oh, I’ve been using the hand brake because the car keeps getting stuck in Park.”  Not that she’d told me that any more than she mentioned there was no gas.  I had, of course, been putting the car in Park all night. Sigh.   

I’m not sure I’m going to the Singing Trees next year.  The memories of 2010 may haunt me forever.

~ * ~

*This may be why the family changed to a coded lock and perhaps why, when we moved to Longwood, the house key my daughter gave me had a bright pink plastic cover around the top!

Grace note:  The 7-year-old in the story above is Hailey, whose choir singing got us the Disney passes. The 6-year-old is Riley, our budding photographer. Repeating last week's 2018 Reale Christmas photo with ID:

Mike, Cassidy, Hailey, Riley, Susie

 ~ * ~

Next week: the debut of The Ghosts of Rushton Court

Background on this latest Regency Gothic can be 
found on my Facebook Author Page.

~ * ~

For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.

For Blair's Facebook Author Page, updated 1/2/19, click here. 

For a brochure for Grace's Editing Service, Best Foot Forward,


Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Harrowing Tale from 2010

A few more holiday photos before the repeat of my very first blog from January 2011, recounting true events in December 2010.

Venice, Florida, 2018 - where I lived from 1982-2007
Venice's Main Street (seen here) extends 10 miles from
Gulf of Mexico beachfront to a "jungle" river that separates
Venice from cattle country to the east.

"Tranquility" - photo by David Whitlock, shared by a friend on Facebook

Another creation by a Crochet Club member

And yes, we allow knitters in Crochet Club.

Our church choirs posing before singing at a retirement home.
 That's me peeking over the girl in the white dress.

The Reale Family photo - 2018

Harrowing Tale from 2010

Fortunately, I wrote my first blogs in Word Perfect, not directly to Blogger, because this very first of 350 blogs is missing from my Blogger Archives. But I felt it was worth repeating (after 8 years I can almost see the humor in it. Sigh.)

Look at the photo above and subtract eight years. Hailey, the oldest, was seven, the other two younger. We had gone to the Singing Trees performance, as we do every year, and . . . well, that's where my stress-filled tale begins. Here it Part 1 (of 2), as I posted it January 14, 2011.

My daughter is a blonde.  She is also CEO of a Real Estate Investment company.  This does not mean she does not have blonde moments. 

Each Christmas my daughter and her husband take the extended family (about fifteen relatives and employees) to First Baptist Orlando’s Singing Christmas Trees, a truly superb presentation in a church that seats about 5000.  This year, my son-in-law also bought tickets on the same night for a concert in downtown Orlando.  So it was arranged that I would drive their three girls, ages 4, 6 & 7, home.  Sounds simple, right?  I even had help from others in the group to get all three little ones into my daughter’s SUV through the crush of 5000 people attempting to leave at the same time.  So far, so good. 

By the time the girls were settled into their seat belts, there weren’t many cars left in the lot.  I buckled up, started the engine . . . and the car didn’t move.  I tried again.  No movement.  My daughter had set the hand brake in flat-as-a-pancake Florida?  I looked where the hand brake is on my car.  Nothing.  I looked where the brake was on my old car.  Nothing.  It was, by the way, nearly pitch black in the parking lot.  The 7-year-old put on the overhead light for me, but I still couldn’t see any hand brake. 

I got out of the car and called to the one couple still walking toward their car.  They kindly came over, but they too could not find the hand brake.  By this time people were getting into the car in front of me.  We had a five-way consultation, the two couples and I, and the husband of the new couple gave it a try.  Took him about ten seconds, while the rest of us stood by, red-faced.  I like to think he was more familiar with Honda SUVs than I was.  With profuse thanks to all, I climbed in.  At last we could go home.

Figuring the couple who had been parked in front of me knew the way out better than I did, I followed them.   Which took us out a different way than we’d come in.  (Oops.)  No problem, just turn right and right and . . . except in all the traffic I ended up in a Left Turn Only lane.  (Double oops.)  After two or three blocks I figured I’d better make another right and right and hopefully end up on the road I should have been on in the first place.  Except . . .

We were instantly in a residential area, and that’s when I had time to glance at the dashboard and notice the Gas Light was on.  Houses, houses everywhere, and not a sign of a thoroughfare with a gas station.  And at that dire point, the 7-year-old said, “Gramma, do you know where we are?”

Uh, no.  But of course I didn’t say so.  I just kept doubling back until I saw—oh, joy—a stoplight.  And at the intersection, a GAS STATION.  Before pulling up to the pump, I tried calling both my daughter and my son-in-law.  I was not happy!  Lucky them, their phones were off.  They were enjoying their concert at the new Amway Arena.

The children, fortunately, knew which side the gas tank was on, so we managed to pull up with the pump on the correct side.  I popped out, stuck in my credit card, and the silly machine wanted to know if it was a debit card.  When I said no, it cancelled the transaction.  I tried again.  Same result.  To say my blood pressure was soaring would be putting it mildly.  There I was with three small children in the car, and I had to go INSIDE.  Fortunately, we were right in front of the door.  I told the children to stay put and dashed inside, where the attendant managed the transaction while I kept looking out the glass door. 

Put ten dollars worth of gas in my daughter’s car and headed out, the children completely angelic or I might have lost myself along with the car.  We did a couple more turns, looking for lots of lights signaling a major road.  And there it was.  Kirkman, the road that runs past Universal Studios.  I was so turned around by this time that I simply chose a direction, knowing either north or south would lead me to a major east-west road that would take us home.  And, sure enough, in less than a mile there it was, the 408, Orlando’s East-West Expressway.  Yay, hurray!

But, no, this isn’t the end of the story.  The night’s “annoyances” will be continued in my next post on Friday, January 21, 2011.

(to be continued next week) 
~ * ~

Grace note:  One of our readers, Shehroze Shahid, left a link to several versions of the very handy MS Word Shortcuts in last week's Comments. If you'd like to view them, click here.

I should add that I've discovered that most of the MS Word Shortcuts also work in Word Perfect. In fact, I found a new one by accident just this week. I went to hit Ctrl + S & hit Ctrl + D by mistake. And there, right in the middle of my manuscript was the day's Date!

Special Note:  I am hoping to publish my latest Regency Gothic, The Ghosts of Rushton Court, during the first week of January. The contest, with the two bargello evening bags as prizes, should follow shortly thereafter.

~ * ~

For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.

For Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 

For a brochure for Grace's Editing Service, Best Foot Forward,


Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Holiday Photo Gallery

The second of 2 purses to be offered as Contest prizes in the new year.*

*For answering questions about my yet-to-be-released  
The Ghosts of Rushton Court

 ~ * ~

and HAPPY Whatever Other Holiday You Celebrate!

For the holidays I am posting some photos I hope you'll enjoy. I confess, the day I went to the Orlando Art Museum's Festival of Trees to hear The Citrus Singers, I was not feeling my best and did not take my usual photos of their stunning trees, wreaths, and gingerbread houses. And the Baptist Church's spectacular Singing Trees conflicts with the Christmas concert my choir is giving in Longwood . . . but perhaps that's good, because my photos will be different this year (well, I may snitch one or two from previous years).

Below is a link to my eldest granddaughter's high school chamber choir, performing an a cappella version of "The First Noel." I hope you'll take the time to check them out. They're really good.
For a link to the Lake Mary High School Chamber Choir, click here.

I belong to a weekly Crochet Club that meets in our local library. One of the ladies has just completed two extremely complicated crocheted mandalas. Please take the time to appreciate the work that went into them. She plans to use them to make a pillow for the lady who gave her the Mandala pattern book.

I try to avoid the mall - any mall - at the holidays, but this year I made a special trip to photograph the mall tree, as I failed to take pics at the Festival of Trees or the Singing Trees.

Towering at least 3 stories at the Altamonte Mall

The Citrus Singers performed at the Gaylord Palms Resort
and then enjoyed the hotel's annual "Ice" exhibit,
including ice slides.
That's our Cassidy (in blue hood), center front
Riley, front left (in glasses).

Susie & Band at Lake Mary Wine & Art Night
A few of the many lights at Lake Mary Park
Visitors to my backyard - white ibis. Taken through my porch screen.

And a few choice pics from previous years . . .

Looks like fun, but we were sweltering in the July heat on Lake Eola! - 2014
Fr Paul blessing a snake - 2015
Gingerbread Castle - 2017

Festival of Trees Gingerbread House - 2016

My Gloriosa Lilies - 2017?

Hailey & Barracuda - June 2018

Cassidy, Hailey, Riley  - 2017

Squeak checking out the tree - 2016

The Singing Trees - 2013
And yes, each "shadow" among the red lights is a person.

For a grand finale, five photos posted 
by Stephen Kennedy to Facebook . . .

Christmas in New Orleans  


~ * ~

 And please don't forget my two Christmas novellas:

Both are available through most online vendors.

~ * ~

For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.

For Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 

For a brochure for Grace's Editing Service, Best Foot Forward,

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Survival of Civility

BIRTH OF A BOOK - the continuing saga

This week saw my proposed Regency Warrior 6 become The Notorious Countess.  (I can never get very far into a book without giving it a title.) I also named the villain (which required a brush-up on Russian patronymics), began my typed "Character List," and scribbled notes on other possible secondary characters. All this, while beginning a second "from the top" edit of The Ghosts of Rushton Court.

~ * ~

Two Christmas stories that are 
also lessons in civility.


This week's blog topic was not solely inspired by the passing of George H W Bush, although the remarks by commentators who alleged that the deaths of Bush and McCain marked the passing of a Kinder, Gentler Age really annoyed me. Even before Bush's death, I had planned to write once again about Civility and the examples of it I had seen recently in my life. And of my hope that although Civility has taken some dreadful blows in recent times, it still lives and will, I hope, eventually make a comeback in the lives of those who have been seduced into the realms of Lies, Rudeness, Hatred, and Disbelief in both Science and the Rule of Law.

While contemplating this week's blog topic, I realized it's quite possible that one of the reasons readers are drawn to the Regency period in England is the wondrous civility of that age. Despite a long war against France and unrest at home, Civility reigned. Later in the nineteenth century, under the long reign of Victoria, manners would become so stultified,so stiff and strict that they were barely rocked by two World Wars or the female revolution of the 1920s (short skirts, short hair). Not, in fact, until the Vietnam War and the advent of the so-called Flower Children did Civility begin to crumble. Why blame Vietnam and the so-very-peaceful Flower Children? Because that's when Hate crept into the American Dream. There were those who hated the war and took out their hate on the brave men who fought as their country asked them to do. And there were those who hated the very existence of "Flower Children," the young people who became society's dropouts and advocated Peace not War. Leaving us with the ugliness of Hate coming at us from both sides. With Civility and Good Manners being shoved farther and farther into the shadows.

Until, oh horrors, we reached the Crisis of 2016, when Hate triumphed, Isolation came back to slap us in the face, and our country did not simply slip from leadership of the world, but plunged with deliberate intent into the abyss of blind misrule. So, other than making sure we go to the polls, what can we do to begin the climb out of the pit of Hatred, Selfishness, and Greed?

Simple: Practice Civility, Kindness, and Generosity. Encourage, by example, others to do the same. Happily, I live in a community which never lost its Civility. Below are some examples of simple positive human interaction I have encountered in the last few weeks.

In the course of ordering Christmas gifts by phone, I had some delightful conversations with perfect strangers on the other end of line. (One woman had such a Tennessee twang I had trouble understanding her at first, but we were buddies by the time I finished my order.) Another, in Kansas, was just as pleasant, if a bit easier to understand. 

The grocery store this week, was almost as crowded as the week before Thanksgiving, yet almost everyone seemed to be smiling. Even the manager who explained to me with wry humor—I was obviously not the first to complain—that the foil on the Swanson Chicken Broth I had NOT used in my turkey stuffing was broken because Swanson had designed a closing where the cap, when twisted, broke the foil below. Huh? Not a good idea, Swanson, because I doubt any cook in the U.S. knew that, and when we found the foil pierced, we wouldn't use it. No way, no how. Thank goodness I had two cans of Swanson broth on my shelf, as it was Thanksgiving Day and the grocery stores were closed! But, please note, my complaint was treated with great Civility, and when I did not want a replacement, the manager insisted on giving me my money back. 

After finishing with the store manager, my grocery shopping was marked by several encounters with other shoppers, strangers all, who smiled, waited patiently while maneuvering through the crowded aisles, made cordial comments on the products we were looking at. There was even one who went into raptures over my rhinestone-studded ballcap. ("I want that hat!") The clerks, always polite at Publix, seemed chattier, more personal, than usual. (The Christmas spirit in play?)

Later in the week, I had occasion to go to Macy's and Penny's at our local shopping mall. I may have been in Longwood for over three years now, but in my mind I still see the layout of the Penny's in East Orlando where I used to live. So when I stepped off the elevator, I took a different turn and found myself lost. When I asked a passing clerk to point me toward the back parking lot, she walked with me until a straight line would take me to the correct exit.

Whether shopping in a grocery store or a department store, I should add that I saw no aggravated mothers or fathers, no crying children, no voices raised in argument. Yes, I'm sure it happens, but the General Rule in our area is Civility—our lives governed by the manners learned at our mother's knee.

And just last night—after I had finished a draft of this blog—I experienced yet another example of Civility. For my oldest granddaughter's concert at Lake Mary High, I had to park half way to football field. It was dark, only the road to walk on, and a zillion cars coming in all at once. Because of the distance and darkness, I was using my cane. I hadn't gone ten feet when a man stepped up, saying, "I'll walk with you." And he did, keeping on the incoming-cars side of me, making sure they saw me, and escorting me all the way into the auditorium lobby. How wonderful to know Good Samaritans still live!

On a more regular basis—during the afternoon rush hour it would be impossible for our residents to make a left turn out of my subdivision unless some driver on the main road took pity on us. Just yesterday, I was sitting there, waiting and waiting, when a car stopped, holding up the traffic behind him, and signaled for me to go in front of him. And—ah-hah!—I just looked out the window and saw that my neighbor had brought up my empty yard-waste container from the street where I left it for pick-up. 

The ladies in my Crochet Club bring in leftover yarn from their "stash" so others may use it. We help others learn to knit and crochet. The people in my church practice what is preached, not only being kind to each other but by bringing in donations of food for the needy on a year-round basis and veritable mountains of gifts and food for special requests.

When I attend special performances by the young people in our area, whether at church or at school, I see an outpouring of student effort and parental devotion that assures me family values are alive and well. (Which happened again at this week's Lake Mary High concert, which featured not only Jazz Band, Band, Chamber Choir, Wind & Brass Ensembles, but Theater Improv, an impressive display of three different kinds of rhythmic dancing (the Rockettes have nothing on these kids!), and chalk art on the sidewalk outside.)

Friday addition: I came out of Target, after barely getting a 6-qt. boxed Crock Pot (a gift) into my cart and wondering how I was going to get it out of the cart into my car when . . . a young woman spoke up from behind me asking, "Do you need help with that large package?" and promptly off-loaded the heavy boxed Crock Pot and the rest of my purchases into the trunk of my car. She also cautioned me to be sure I took my purse out of cart - which reminded me of a Christmas story from seven or eight years ago in East Orlando, when I DID leave my purse in the shopping cart after a trip to Jo-Ann's Fabrics. I had taken my keys out to offload my purchases, then got in the car and drove home, leaving my purse behind. When I got home & discovered what I'd done, I rushed back to Jo-Ann's and said, "I know this is probably futile, but did anyone turn in a purse?" And sure enough, it was tucked into Jo-Ann's safe and only needed retrieving. Talk about the Christmas spirit!

But I hasten to say that although my life is now centered around Longwood, Lake Mary, and Altamonte Springs, the Jo-Ann's story illustrates that this area is not a sole oasis of Civility. (Also, remember the ladies on the other end of my phone orders.) Basically, the people of the United States are a good people; this is a good country. If we stand up and fight hate-mongering, it will be even better. Not just at the polls but on a day-to-day basis. Slow down, take a deep breath, see the people around you:  those willing to help others, those needing help. All the people whose day will be brightened by a smile, a compliment, or just by seeing a pleasant, instead of scowling, face. (And don't forget Civility is not one-sided. The privileged and wealthy need smiles in their lives almost as much as the poor and needy. Think Scrooge!)

So go out and spread Civility—not just at the holidays but throughout the year. If we make this effort, surely the tide of positive interaction will spread. We will take our country back from the brink of Hate, Fear, Incivility, Ignorance, and It's mine!—you can't have it!

This is your chance to save the world. Begin today!

~ * ~
For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.

For Blair's Facebook Author Page, updated 11/5/18, click here. 

For a brochure for Grace's Editing Service, Best Foot Forward,


Thanks for stopping by,