Grace's Mosaic Moments


Sunday, August 7, 2022

Gallery - Groans & Laughs for English-lovers

[Part 2 of "Random Thoughts on a Wayward World" - August 13, 2022]

 

I've been accumulating "Mangles" or "Funnies" on the English language for awhile now, and they seemed a good punctuation for my serious thoughts about "How has our world plunged so low?" Happily, I found a Cat Pic to add warmth - and a challenge - at the end. (As well as a surprise posted to Facebook only minutes before I sat down to write this blog.)

 

GALLERY - Groans & Laughs for English-lovers

 


 



 

At first glance, the box below looks like it's full of maybe four cats. But if you count the heads - carefully - I believe you'll find considerably more.

Hint: I almost stopped counting at seven.


 And . . . HUGE surprise:

Evidently, Mike & Riley got tired of Susie spending so much time diving for fossils, so while she was in Tampa this weekend, guess what? They got their diving certificates. (Cassidy already has hers.)


 

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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, July 30, 2022

Random Thoughts on a Wayward World

I chose to illustrate this week's post with a photo taken behind the vacation home my daughter and her husband once owned on the Suwanee River (just south of the Florida/Georgia line). (This spider is but one of many that stretched their webs from tree to tree in the woods between the house and the river.) Why a spider illustration? Because there seem to be so many strands of aberrant-thinking, hatred, and downright evil spreading their webs through the Great American Society that this whopper of a spider and its giant habitat truly seemed the best choice. 


 
 

Grace note:  I've been thinking about the following post for several months, but I had to work up to it. How very much easier it is to "slide by" in this world rather than tackle difficult issues head on. But my conscience wouldn't let me rest, so here are some thoughts from a person who has been around for more years than most.


RANDOM THOUGHTS ON A WAYWARD WORLD, Part 1

 As someone who can remember Pearl Harbor—okay, I was young enough I thought it was an island off the New England coast (i.e., close to where we lived), because my parents, hoping to shelter me, did not explain what I was hearing on the radio. (That's right, readers, RADIO. TV did not come along until I was in college!) Which means, I have seen and endured a great many things over umpteen years, and I have to tell you, as one whose earliest strong memories are of World War II, that we are not doing well. In fact, despite all our modern inventions, we seem to be moving backward into an abyss as dark as the Dark Ages. Into an age of fear and ignorance. Of dog-eat-dog aggression, with little thought for the poor peasants fighting their lords' battles or being ground under the heel of "I don't give a damn what happens to anybody but me!"

We all scoff at Conspiracy Theories, right? Well, perhaps not. I have to admit I never fell for the tale that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. And I'm nearly positive something alien hit the ground in Roswell. (I even know someone who was stationed in Area 51 and reported that "the proof is there.") And after events of the past decade, it comes as no surprise to anyone that those of us who thought WWII ended Nazism were wrong. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there seems to be a group of people so progressive that they have turned their backs on the concept of law enforcement and punishment for one's crimes. Surely, just as damaging as the concept of White Supremacy.

How did we get ourselves into such a fix? Our lives were supposed to be better than those of our parents, our children's lives better than ours. Yet here we are, still controlled by a Grand Conspiracy of the Entitled—the Oligarchs, Big Business, and our so-called "law makers" who bow down to the lobbyists for both wealthy factions—and going down hill fast.

As an example of how how our modern age has adversely affected its citizens, here's a story I was told at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, when a group of authors toured the facility:

The FBI speaker complained that it was getting harder and harder to find recruits with "street smarts." It seems modern young men and women spend so much time on their phones and at their computers that they do not get out into the real world and discover life as it really is.

To take that concept down to a personal level. My children were free to roam our neighborhood, play with their friends; they laid pennies on the railroad tracks for trains to flatten; they walked a narrow board across a swamp to cross to a neighboring shoreline community that had a candy store. We had a mounted bell from an old steam train in our front yard, and when it was time for supper, I simply rang that bell, and all the neighborhood kids scattered to their respective homes. I should add that I had the same freedom to play as a child, though not as many children in the neighborhood as my children enjoyed. 

And then came my grandchildren's time to grow up. No freedom to roam. Nursery schools, scheduled play-dates, supervised visits to the park. No opportunity to develop independence, to be forced to problem-solve, to learn to interact with others when no adult is watching. Sigh. A loss, a definite loss.

And school . . .

My father was a high school principal, followed by many years as a Superintendent of Schools in two different towns in Connecticut. He was a graduate of the University of Nebraska, with a Masters Degree in Education from Harvard. I can just picture his outrage if some group of parents tried to tell him what should be taught or what books should be in the school library. Did he exercise censorship? Yes, he did. I distinctly recall speaking enthusiastically about a book called Timur and His Gang. The next thing I heard, it was off the shelf, gone because it was "Communist Propaganda." I recall the incident so vividly because I was in elementary school during WWII when the Russians were our allies, and I was totally surprised by my father's negative reaction. (I should add that this happened a few years before the McCarthy era.*) Nonetheless, I ended up with such a good education that the Dean of my Ivy League college called me in to discuss how someone with a public school education was getting better grades than the private-school graduates who predominated in my classes.

*If "McCarthy era" means nothing, I suggest you look it up. In a nutshell, "McCarthyism" became another term for "Witch hunt."

The moral of the story above:  

Education should be left to the professionals. 

Teachers should be allowed to teach a balanced curriculum (including Civics!), not spend their time "teaching to the tests" that certain ignorant  or arrogant (just want to throw their weight around) state legislatures inflict on their school systems. (Florida, where I live, being one of the most guilty of this atrocity against a good education.)

Certainly, parents have a right to question, but School Boards should be unwavering in upholding STUDENTS' rights to a comprehensive education that will prepare them for their lives to come, whether it's college, technical school, or direct entry into the job market. And School Boards should never cave to censorship. The narrow-mindedness of a small minority does not justify depriving the vast majority of students from reading books that will make them think! (And yes, I recall my personal experience with censorship so vividly because I had doubts about my father's action, even at age 12.)

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More next week on what I fear may be our slide into mediocrity, something we need to fight against with passion!

And because I don't want to close on a negative, I asked my son for a Willow update. Clearly, Willow enjoys "tucking up."

 

Willow, curled into almost the same position as her March photo.


Cassidy at an all-state (Florida) Drill competition last week
Her team was named among the top ten.

~ * ~

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)

 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Gallery & Heart-warming Tales

 Grace note:  claiming Birthday Privilege, I am taking a week off. Next blog: July 30

 

 A box of doll clothes has been sitting on my bedroom floor for more years than I care to admit - ever since my daughter returned all the outfits I had made for the 18" preteen dolls I gave my three grandgirls way back when. After all the work that went into them, I guess I just couldn't bear to give them up. But this week . . .

Long story short, I did an inventory, bagged & labeled each outfit, and offered the clothes (via our choir email/text loop) to anyone who knew a girl with an 18" doll. I also had to do a bit of spot removal here & there, and of course, I ended up with a Miscellaneous pile, outfits that were inevitably missing pieces after a number of years of use. (Mostly Tops - small enough they were likely swallowed by the washing machine.)

In the end, not counting the Miscellaneous, I had nearly thirty complete outfits, from dresses and evening gowns to winter ensembles. Two families ended up taking them all, one a family I knew well and one consisting of a mother and two daughters who are newcomers to the church. I was truly thrilled to see the doll clothes go to good homes. Below, pics of two of the many (admittedly, two of the fanciest):




 

I have already posted the following story to Facebook, but I'd like to share it with my Blog readers as well:

I'm just to the right of the candle on the left.

 
I have been singing in choirs since I was 8 years old - and no, I'm not going to say how long that is, except "way over half a century." But this morning was something totally new. We arrived for rehearsal to find the following in the bulletin: "The flowers at the altar today are given by Liz and Larry Sole in thanksgiving for Tim Hanes and Our Wonderful Choir at Resurrection." Wow! I immediately took a photo of the flowers. After rehearsal, we went en masse to thank the couple; and after the service we lined up for a photo with "our" flowers. Believe me, we were all touched by the Soles' thoughtful gesture. 

 

Below, a few pics from the Awards Ceremony at the end of Cassidy's Police Explorer 2-week boot camp. As most of you already know, Cassidy, my youngest grandgirl (who turned 16 this Sunday), exchanged doll clothes for guns & bullets some time ago. And, sure enough, she picked up another marksmanship trophy.

 

Yet another marksmanship award

Cassidy with Proud Dad

Cassidy with Proud Gramma

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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, July 9, 2022

The World's Messiest Recipe

 We celebrated Susie's birthday on June 28 with one of our many Mother-Daughter Drink Selfies - except this time logistics dictated we get help from an outside photographer. (Kobe's drinks are really tasty!)

 


 

 THE WORLD'S MESSIEST RECIPE

All right, it's possible there may be other recipes just as messy, but I've been cooking for a long time, and it's the messiest recipe I've ever tackled. It is also totally delicious and worth the mess. (I suppose one could wear disposable gloves, but I need to get right in there and "feel" what I'm doing - in this case, getting covered in "goop.")

A bit of background:

Because of my allergy to chemical preservatives, I make far more things "from scratch" than most people, particularly after the Publix Bakery reduced their list of preservative-free pastries to three varieties of mini-muffins, two of which I don't like. Sigh.

I am particularly fond of scones, and have had good luck using the mixes provided by King Arthur Flour (highly recommended), but I wanted to try making scones from scratch. So I bought a book of scone recipes and set to work. Horrid disappointment. No matter which recipe I tried, the scones were dry and had little taste.

Okay, maybe it was the cookbook. I ordered a different one. It didn't seem to feature as many exotic ingredients as the previous one, but maybe . . .

Hmm. The first recipe I tried came out quite well, certainly a vast improvement on the "dry as a bone" scones in the previous cookbook. So I chose "Raspberry White Chocolate Scones," never suspecting what I was getting into.

Repeat: this may be the world's messiest recipe, but it's well worth the effort. Not only does it taste sublime, but it freezes well. I cut each triangle into three pieces and freeze the pieces six to a bag - which means I have "fresh" scones for a load of days, with no more effort than remembering to take the bag out of the freezer the night before.

So here it is, the World's Messiest Recipe:


RASPBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE SCONES

2½ cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon lemon zest*
1 tablespoon baking powder
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup raspberry jam
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons milk 
 
*I have a spice container of dried lemon zest, but fresh would likely be even better. 
 

Take butter out of fridge enough ahead of time to be sure it's room temperature. You will also need a floured bread board or something similar, big enough to knead in the final ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350°; line a sheet pan with parchment.

1.  Combine flour, salt, lemon zest, brown sugar & baking powder. Stir to mix well. 

2.  Add butter; blend into dry mix using your hands until it resembles coarse crumbles.

3.  Add vanilla, sour cream & eggs; mix together to form thick dough.

4.  Add white chocolate chips & fold them gently into the dough. 

5. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface; roll into a ball. 

6.  Flatten ball into a 1" thick round disc.

7.  Spread the jam across the disc, then fold in half, and in half again. Roll the dough back into a ball. 

8.  Flatten it once more into a 1" thick disc, making the edges as even as possible. The jam should now be well-swirled into the dough. (And you will undoubtedly want to scrub your hands before proceeding any further!)

9.  Move the dough - CAREFULLY - onto the parchment paper; cut the disc into 12 triangles.

10.  Brush scones with milk then sprinkle with white sugar.

11.  Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.

12.  Remove to cooling rack.

 

Reminder:  though yummy warm, these scones also freeze well.

Grace note:  this recipe is adapted from Super Scrumptious Scone Cookbook by Nancy Silverman.

~ * ~

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, July 2, 2022

My Take on Roe v. Wade

 Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words . . . (Found on Facebook)

 




Exercising my Right to Freedom of Speech . . .


MY TAKE ON ROE V. WADE


On the night of the Supreme’s Court’s decision to reverse on Roe v. Wade, my son called me from Connecticut, asking me not only to express my views as someone who remembered the days before Roe v. Wade but to write them down. A task almost too big for even an author to contemplate. Yes, I was there when the original battle was fought, and I find the blind intransigence that could reverse such a monumental freedom appalling. But surely, at this point in my life, I could plead “age” and let others take up the cudgel.

Except, of course, I can’t.
 
This is such a polarizing issue that it seems unlikely I will change a single mind, but I find I cannot avoid saying what, from the point of view of someone who has lived a lot of years, needs to be said.

First of all, the approach to this problem I would prefer:


1.  I am a middle-of-the-roader. My preference would be birth control information readily available to every female of child-bearing age, AND universal education in how to use every manner of contraceptive, as well as the necessity of doing do.

Except—sigh—we all know, through carelessness, an excess of passion, ignorance, or “I just don’t give a damn,” not everyone is going to use contraceptives. Therefore . . .

2.  Beginning in late middle school, every female should receive instruction, not only on contraceptives but on the early signs of pregnancy (and yes, ignorance abounds!) This instruction should be repeated in high school classes.

3.  Beginning in late middle school, every male should be taught the necessity of using contraceptives—information from professionals, NOT acquired through word-of-mouth or writing on public bathroom walls! This instruction should continue through high school.

4. Beginning in late middle school, all young males and females should receive instruction in the consequences of unprotected sex:  loss of schooling, loss of potential career, the likely plunge into poverty, the struggle of raising a child alone, the threat of overpopulation, etc.

Note: this instruction might not protect against the horror of rape and incest, but hopefully it would help a majority of young people understand the personal significance of bringing an unwanted child into the world.

I am convinced the universal practice of Numbers 1-4 above would go a long way toward reducing the necessity for abortion. None of these things can happen, however, as long as the loud-mouthed vocal MINORITY is allowed to tell the MAJORITY of Americans what to do.

As for Abortions . . .

Let’s face it, sex is here to stay. And there are always those who, for one reason or another, will need to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Most particularly, in cases of rape and incest. But—again from my personal point of view—abortion should be confined to the first few months of pregnancy. (Another reason for educating all females on the early symptoms of pregnancy and for making abortions easily available.) Qualification: There are, of course, instances when late-termination is necessary for medical reasons.

And now—from someone old enough to remember life before Roe v. Wade . . .

I was there when it all started, a young woman in New Haven, CT, who could only get birth-control information “under the counter” from my gynecologist. Yes, that’s right, birth control information was forbidden, let alone abortion! And I was a young mother when the battle that would lead to Roe v. Wade began right there in New Haven. I watched the whole process unfold, a female's right to contraception, a female's right to abortion. Just to emphasize that we’re talking universal Women’s Rights here, I was born into the era when a woman could not even get a credit card in her own name, so naturally, I was all in favor of those fighting for a woman’s right to decide what was best for her own body.

In the matter of rape, let me tell you what it was like before Roe v. Wade.

I remember when abortions were available only through “abortion mills”—“back rooms” of horror, staffed by amateurs, in which many mothers died as well as babies. And other mothers were so badly damaged in the process that they were barren for life. Or, even worse, the Do-It-Yourself “coathanger” abortions—you can imagine how those turned out! Yes, this was what life was like before Roe vs. Wade.

Is this really the world we want to go back to?


Of course not! A vast majority of Americans understand this, yet somehow we’ve allowed ourselves to be manipulated by a MINORITY.

1.  No Congress, Legislature, Parliament, Duma, etc., can legislate sex. (Can you imagine those predominantly male institutions so much as considering such a thing?

2.  Universal Contraception—both availability and education on how to use—is the most sensible solution to the problem of abortion. (We all know pregnancies will happen, but hopefully they would be far fewer.)

3. Abortion in the first four months (preferably three) of pregnancy should be allowed in cases of
    a.  Rape
    b.  Incest
    c. Husband rape
    d. Underage mother
    e. Poverty
    f.  Carelessness
    g.  Stupidity
    h.  Don’t give a damn (this, usually a male viewpoint: “As long as I get off . . .”
    i.  Any other reason that prevents an unwanted child from being born into poverty, neglect, starvation, violence, and/or degradation
    j.  Any reason I haven’t thought of


Looking at the problem from a slightly different viewpoint . . .


PROBLEMS


1.  A woman must have the right to govern her own body.

2.  A woman must be spared the horror of carrying a child of rape or incest.

3.  A woman’s health, both mental and physical, should be of greater importance than the life of  an embryo.

4.  A woman should not be forced to add to the world’s population, which is already growing exponentially. (This, like global warming, is a problem all too many fail to see.)


SOLUTIONS


1.  Contraceptive measures readily available and existing in an atmosphere that encourages the use of them.

2.  Judicious use of abortion as early in term as possible*

     *Fifteen weeks, as proposed by some states, is not realistic, because this does not give women enough time to a) recognize they are pregnant; b) make arrangements for an abortion.

3.  A more realistic attitude by both the Evangelical and Roman Catholic churches.



And there it is, the view of someone who has seen life before Roe v. Wade.  At my age, words are my only weapon. I can only ask that those younger and stronger than I am shoulder the fight. Except—ah, yes—there’s that special place called the BALLOT BOX. Even ancients like me can express ourselves by voting out the rabid Pro-lifers who see only pretty pink babies who will grow up to be shining examples of humanity and not the poor struggling mites who will born into an endless cycle of poverty, denigration, violence, and resentment.


So, Pro-Choicers, stand up and be counted. If you are unable to join rallies or donate funds, you can still go to the ballot box and VOTE THE BUMS OUT!*

*Yes, I know we’re stuck with the Supreme Idiots (sigh), but with the right people in federal and state government, we can find a way around those who have turned their backs on both Justice and the Constitution.

The era of “Keep ‘em barefoot & pregnant” is gone, gone, gone.



WE ARE FEMALE. HEAR US ROAR!

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***Permission granted to anyone who wishes to share this post.***


 

~ * ~

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)