Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Hurricane Ian - Pics & Vids


A Surprise Issue of Mosaic Moments.

I am happy to report that, except for a period of wavering electricity Wednesday night that sent my computer offline once and my TV offline twice, my immediate area of Longwood (FL) survived with very little damage. But areas within three miles on either side did not fare so well. Even my church is without power at the moment. As are about 180,000 other homes in the Orlando area. And the shoreline, particularly the southwest Gulf Coast was absolutely devastated, as you will see in the videos and photos below. (I suspect the electricity in my part of Longwood may have held because it is on a particularly sturdy grid - I am only a little over a mile from police headquarters, fire headquarters, town hall, and the hospital!)

The problem in our area - miles inland - was far more from rain than wind. All low-lying areas flooded from 15-20" of rain over c. 36 hours. Lakes, ponds & streams overflowed, as did the "retention ponds" designed to cope with run-off. I am blessed to be on top of what I call a "Florida hill:; i.e., higher than the flat land around it. On Saturday morning - two days after Ian passed - rescues are still being made by boat and helicopter, not just along the coast but here in the Orlando area as well. 

Since few are venturing out, lest we end up on a flooded road*, most of the photos and videos below came from my son in Connecticut who, like me, is a "weather freak." (He called me c. three times a day from Ian's approach to its fading away.) We frequently enjoy sharing weather info, and he knew I would appreciate the excellent series of pics he shared with me.

*Grace note:  I drove two blocks to the grocery store yesterday, passing a very deep retention area that was grass on Tuesday. It is now an almost lake-sized pond.

This first photo was taken by a Facebook friend in Naples, FL, early Wednesday as Ian was about to make landfall on Florida's Gulf Coast.


I'm not sure where the following pic was taken, but clearly the gator was as anxious for shelter as the rest of us.


The following pics and videos are from the series my son sent. Although you will need to "click" to see each one, the result will be well worth that slight effort.

For a view from a third floor apartment in Ft. Meyers,  click here. 

For a view from inside a hotel in Ft. Meyers,  click here

For a view of a man saving a cat,  click here

For a view of man saving someone else's dog,  click here  

For a view of a main street afloat but with the power still on,  click here

For a view of Ian flooding inland Florida (Kissimmee, near Disneyworld),  click here

For a view of the washed-out bridge to Captiva Island*,  click here  

* Also washed out, the bridges to Sanibel & Pine islands. No access except by boat or helicopter


Below is another amazing video sent by my son. It's the view from a camera set on a pole more than eight feet above ground level. If you watch the entire 2-minute video, you will see the storm surge come in, gradually rise until it's flicking drops on the camera lens, and finally swallowing the camera altogether.

For a view of the rising storm surge, click here 

And as if that weren't enough, I'll sign off with a video of a shark swimming down the street in Ft. Meyers.

For a view of shark swimming down the street,  click here

ADDENDUM: I had just finished writing the above - painstakingly transferring each pic, one at a time - when I turned on the TV and heard a woman describe her experience at a marina in Ft. Meyers. I missed the beginning, but I got the impression she was a snowbird; i.e., she flew down from up north to check on her boat. After securing it, she decided to do what she did during Hurricane Irma - wait out the storm in the marina's Ladies Room. (FYI, most hurricanes go by with no more than 6-8 hours of the worst of it.) She went into the Ladies Room on Tuesday evening - and remained trapped there for all of Wednesday and Wednesday night, as the water gradually rose around her (and her cat, presumably in a carrier). Higher and higher it came, until she finally called 911, knowing no one could rescue her but wanting them to know where she was; i.e., where to find her body. Incredibly, both she and the cat survived, as did her boat (in a marina where most boats were tossed around like toys). I'm reminded of the old song, "Luck, be a lady tonight."

~ * ~

 If you're among the praying kind of whatever religion, I ask you to include all the currently homeless in the wide swath of Florida hit by Ian. From Naples and Fort Meyers, catty-corner through all the inland counties, and back out to deal more devastation to Florida's East Coast from Cape Canaveral to St. Augustine. (And yes, the Artemis moon rocket was rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (an 8-hr trip) well before the storm hit. Launch postponed indefinitely.

~ *~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.

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


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)


Saturday, September 17, 2022

A Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

 Next Mosaic Moments - October 8, 2022.

May I suggest those new to Mosaic Moments in the last two-three years take a look in Archives from 2011-2020 for a peek at the many, many tips on Writing & Editing published during that time. If you'd prefer them organized by category, they are available in book form from Amazon:  Making Magic With Words 

Grace Note: With Ian bearing down on the Orlando area, I could be without power by tonight (9/28/22), so the date of the next post could be even farther into October. Sorry about that, but Ian is the worst hurricane to hit Florida in a very long time. "I'll see you when I see you," as the saying goes.

 ~  *  ~

 We are all familiar with many aspects of Queen Elizabeth, from the regal formality of state occasions to family matriarch (both stern & loving) to humorous vignettes like her tea with Paddington Bear. But the following tale, a peek behind the scenes at Balmoral, is perhaps the best tribute I've seen, showing not only the queen's sense of humor but her humanity.

Grace note:  Although this story has been widely circulated since the queen's death, I repeat it here so none of my blog readers around the world will miss it.


The Tale of Queen Elizabeth & the Clueless American Tourists

Richard Griffin, also known as Dick, served as the queen's royal protection officer. He recounted the story to Sky News during Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee last June.

Griffin once accompanied the queen when she was walking in hills outside of Balmoral when two American tourists on vacation reportedly approached her.

One hiker – not aware of who he was speaking to – asked the queen where she lived. She replied that she lived in London and said she had a holiday home nearby, but did not specify that she was referring to Balmoral.

The hiker then asked her if she had ever met the queen.

"I haven't, but Dick here meets her regularly," Elizabeth reportedly said. The hiker immediately turned his attention to the bodyguard and asked him what the monarch was like in person.

"I was with her a long time and I knew I could pull her leg," Griffin said. "I said 'oh, she can be very cantankerous at times, but she's got a lovely sense of humor.'"

Overjoyed, the hiker unwittingly asked the queen if she could take his picture with Griffin.

"Before I could see what was happening, he gets his camera and gives it to the queen and says 'can you take a picture of us?'" Griffin recounted.

Elizabeth took a picture of the two before Griffin took the camera and photographed the queen with the unknowing tourists.

"I'd love to be a fly on the wall when he shows those photographs to friends in America and hopefully someone tells him who I am," the queen allegedly told Griffin.

~ *~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.

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


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)




Saturday, September 10, 2022

The Freedom to be Ignorant

I was all set to blog on a different topic when I picked up Thursday morning's Orlando Sentinel and read a commentary by one of its most astute columnists, Scott Maxwell. I just had to pass along some of his well-phrased rant against one of Florida's latest idiocies. 

But first, a few pics to lighten your day before we get down to the nastiness of the meaning of "freedom" in the State of Florida.


Over Labor Day weekend, the Reale family finally went diving together (all but Hailey who is in college). Pic taken while on their way to the diving grounds off the coast of Venice, FL.

Riley, Susie, Cassidy, Mike

My son sent me this pic of a current sign in Hartford, CT.



A truly spectacular lightning photo (found on Facebook).



Below, an amazing example of "embroidery." It is the work of South African Textile Artist, Di van Niekerk. A true masterwork. I am in awe. (The medium includes silk ribbon.)


The "Freedom" to be Ignorant

Background: I used to think our governor, Ron DeSantis, was merely a Trump clone. I have finally realized he is far more dangerous, for the simple reasons that he is far smarter, far better educated (Yale), and seemingly determined to violate rights even Trump didn't mess with. (Even worse, he intends to run for President in 2024!) One of his latest outrages - passing a law that basically gives parents the right to challenge what their children learn in school - from basic history to civil rights, sex education, etc., etc. Even certain MATH textbooks have been found to be unacceptable. Believe me, the world Ray Bradbury warned us about in Fahrenheit 451 does not simply loom; it has arrived!

Below, a few excerpts from Scott Maxwell's bitingly sarcastic column (Orlando Sentinel, 9/8/22):

    Florida Republicans spent much of the past year trying to ban books and history lessons that cover any subject that might upset the Moms for Liberty of the world. 
    Thank goodness! No student should be exposed to any facts or perspectives that their parents dislike. If I wanna keep my kid ignorant, I have every right to do so—and to keep your kids ignorant as well. That's Florida's version of "freedom."
. . . . In Sarasota, the school district put a hold on handing out dictionaries—yes, dictionaries—donated by Rotarians because the district hadn't yet fully implemented its new censorship training.
    . . . . So I have a better idea:  Let's just ban all the books in Florida. That way, no fragile minds will have to worry about being offended. No closed minds will dare be opened.
    . . . . Information is bad, especially when it prompts people to think for themselves—and most especially if it ever prompts a child to have an independent thought that contradicts their parent's. So let's just ban every book and idea that makes anyone uncomfortable.
Maxwell, still dripping sarcasm, goes on to comment on his personal reaction to his children learning ideas contrary to his own - simply nodding and encouraging them to think for themselves. He then cites a recent incident in Polk County where parents actually contacted the Sheriff's Office to protest books their children were reading in school. And then . . .
   My wife and I used to think it was fine for our kids . . . to hear the unvarnished truth about America's history, how some remnants of Jim Crow still affect society today . . . . What schmucks we were! Our children—all white children—should be spared any history or civics lesson that might make them feel "guilt" or "anguish."
Maxwell then cites other disastrous results of Florida's "Parental Rights in Education" law, such as schools feeling they can no longer apply a Band-Aid without parental permission! His diatribe stays in Sarcasm Mode as he ends:
    So let's quit nibbling around the edges and get to where we really want to be when it comes to honoring our ignorance and opinions over facts and truth. Only when we ban all books, censor all dissenting thoughts and discourage all independent thinking will we truly be free.
~ * ~  
Next week - a Tribute of Queen Elizabeth II 

 For a link to Blair's website, click here.

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


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Gallery & Blatant Promo



Oh yeah!  (Found on Facebook)

Below is a link to what has to be the most amazing video I've ever seen. Evidently, the photographer came along just after the snake was snared in the web. The video takes a while - it's a good-sized snake! - but watch it to the end, which will likely astonish you. The big question, of course:  What happens next? Frankly, I decided I didn't want to know.

To witness the Tale of the Spider & the Snake, Click here.


My daughter Susie's job as director of the Citrus Singers (Girl Scouts of Central Florida - Orlando area) has expanded to doing workshops in other central Florida areas, and attempting to get new GS choruses up & running. Below, a photo from one of those sessions. Aren't they adorable?



BLATANT PROMO - the Blue Moon Rising Series


The Crucible Kingdom

I'm really fond of this spin-off from the Blue Moon series. Somehow it just insisted on getting written, even though the Rebels had triumphed over the Evil Empire long since. It's a stand-alone book, although I admit you'll likely get that extra something out of it if you've met the cross-over characters in the four books of the Rebellion. In particular, knowing K'kadi Amund's peculiar history may help explain his behavior on a planet far from Blue Moon.

On a planet far, far away, a starship captain and a widowed duchess—both strong-willed and accustomed to being boss—are forced to work together to save their world from a curse cast by an evil sorcerer.

* * * *

The four original books of the Blue Moon Rising series follow the adventures of the children of a pacifist king, who turn their backs on their upbringing and fight to save not only their kingdom but twelve other enslaved planets as well.

The original series, in order:

Rebel Princess


The Princess Royal of a pacifist kingdom on a planet far, far away inadvertently inspires a rebellion against an evil empire.



A reluctant sorcerer makes a marriage of convenience and becomes a vital part of the rebellion against an evil empire.



A young man rises from a dysfunctional misift who can't talk or even settle his thoughts to become a prince of sorcerers and major player in the rebellion against the evil empire.


 The four children of a pacifist king, their equally gifted spouses, and an oddly related middle-aged duo come together to finally defeat the evil empire.

~ * ~

 For a link to Blair's website, click here.

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


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)





Saturday, August 20, 2022

Farro Salad Recipe + Gallery

 [Next Mosaic Moments - September 3, 2022]

Another priceless blooper found on Facebook.

Or maybe the Chinese - or whoever made this label - 
really think we're that stupid???

 Not that there aren't times I wonder . . .

Willow & Buffy

I'm told the wicker stand is supposed to hold toilet paper! 
(Willow & Buffy are sisters, Buffy born among the first, 
Willow the runt of the litter.


Willow & Buffy look far more content than my Squeak, who appears annoyed as she waits for her nightly treats (which I distribute to each tower layer from top to bottom, making her work for them).

And yes, she cleans them out in about 20 seconds flat.

 ~ * ~

I saw a recipe in the newspaper I couldn't resist, even though I knew it would be far more than one person could eat. Fortunately, we had an impromptu family party last Saturday night, and I was able to debut it to a crowd. The approval rate was high enough I felt I should share the recipe on Mosaic Moments (with a few of twists here & here).  



 Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal) & pepper
1 cup farro, rinsed & drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar* (more, if needed)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (more, if needed)
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives,** sliced in half lengthwise
About 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts from a jar, coarsely chopped***
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup chives, cut to desired length
* Due to my allergies to additives in wine, I used cider vinegar.
**Being lazy, I used a small can of pre-sliced black olives (faster but not as tasty)
***I chose Baby Marinated Artichoke Hearts and sliced them up by hand.

Cook farro to package directions; drain & cool. (Farro is less likely to turn mushy if allowed to cool 15-20 minutes spread out on a flat sheet pan or large plate.)

Transfer farro to mixing bowl. Add vinegar, oil, ½ teaspoon salt & stir to combine. Add olives, artichokes, feta, dill, red onion, & chives. Season with black pepper to taste. Add more salt, vinegar & oil as needed. May be stored in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

~ * ~

 For a link to Blair's website, click here.

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


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)