Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, May 30, 2015

An Amazing Bit of Famly History

Through the years - while moving from Branford, Connecticut, to Venice, Florida, to Orlando, and now to Longwood, I've managed to hang on to the family heirlooms. They were among the first things unpacked and turned the chaos of my move into some semblance of home.

As I cut off bubble wrap and found just the right place on the shelves for each one, I realized I couldn't recall the origin of one of the vases. Fortunately, my mother put little slips of paper inside each of her things - at least the ones she acquired before I was old enough to remember on my own. And, sure enough, inside the large vase with flowers was a note telling me that the vase had belonged to her great-grandmother Kelly, who was born a Demo. And suddenly all the amazing family history came tumbling back. My mother even wrote a children's book about her great-great-great grandfather Peter Demo. (Drummer Boy for Montcalm by Wilma Pitchford Hays, which was also published in French). So below the vase photo is a bit of history you may find interesting.

Peter Demo was a 12-year-old drummer boy for General the Marquis de Montcalm when he led the French troops against the British in the deciding battle that won Canada for the English. Both General Montcalm and the British General Wolfe were killed that day. Although our family history is decidedly circumspect - illegitimacy being a dire stain well before the Victorian period of my great-great grandmother Kelly, who was born a Demo - it is pretty certain that Peter was Montcalm's son. All Peter himself would ever say was that his name was a "short form" of his father's. (The women in our family were so careful about this that I was over forty before it finally occurred to me what wasn't being said!)

In any event, with the defeat of the French and the death of his mentor, Peter ran away into the forest and was taken in by the Abenake tribe, with whom he lived until he was grown. He became a courier de bois and eventually established himself in a cabin on the Isle la Motte in Lake Champlain. He kept a journal every day of his life, we're told, but when he was very old and his children persuaded him to abandon his cabin for the winter, someone broke in and used his journals for firewood. A heart-breaking loss, dramatic enough to reverberate down through all these years. 

The most amazing part is yet to come, however. Peter lived to be 112 - I've seen his grave in upper New York State (Peter Demo Aged 112) - and died in the year of the one hundredth anniversary of the battle on the Plains of Abraham. Which means he lived until 1859, and thus my great-great grandmother Kelly (owner of the above vase), actually remembered him as an old man. And since she lived to 100, she was able to describe him to successive generations. Frankly, I find it totally incredible that my mother heard these stories in an almost direct line from someone who was likely born around 1747! (My great-great grandmother Kelly, as I recall, did not pass away until about the time I entered high school. Which makes my mother, who lived to age 98, a direct link to someone who actually knew Peter Demo, so the facts recorded here are not distorted tales out of the dim past.) 

An interesting footnote: 

When we were on Cape Cod in the summer of 2013, we visited Plimouth Plantation. In addition to a replica of the Pilgrims' first settlement, they have a Native American village there, which members of the various northeastern tribes take turns staffing. We were talking to a gentleman in a wheelchair (as I recall, an attorney in his other life), when he mentioned that he was an Abenake. I think I actually screeched. So I told him how his tribe saved my 4-great-grandfather's life and we exchanged a hearty handshake. He agreed that Peter Demo was unlikely to have survived in the Canadian wilderness without the aid of the Abenakes.

On a final note: A few years ago I researched the Marquis de Montcalm and discovered his line died out rather abruptly in only a generation or two. The family home is now a hotel. I like to believe, however, that he is aware that descendants "on the other side of the blanket" (as well as the Atlantic) thrive, with Peter Demo's interest in writing manifesting in at least two of his descendants: Wilma Pitchford Hays and Grace Ann Kone, who writes as Blair Bancroft.

~ * ~

I hope you've enjoyed this digression into a rather unusual immigrant story. Next week will likely be "The Moving Blues" or "Moving to the Beat of Murphy's Law."

Thanks for stopping by.

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Updated Index to Grace's Writing & Editing Blogs

Cartoon in The Orlando Sentinel.

  A twist on Mother's Day, one we all applaud.
(For my foreign readers, the cartoon refers to the mother who was filmed grabbing her son out of the rioting in Baltimore and dragging him home. (Video revealed he was at least a head taller than she!)
Busy week - speaking to the Girl Scouts & doing a panel of Ivy League authors at Orlando's main library.
Note: The pen-name "Daryn Parke" has been laid to rest. The Art of Evil is available online with Blair Bancroft as author.

Since I'll be moving over the next ten days to two weeks - and don't know how long I'll be computerless - below is the Updated Index to all my Writing & Editing blogs since 2011.I hope you'll find some topics of interest. When I get back online, I'll be finishing up the last sections of my Writing Workshop.


to Grace's Writing & Editing Blogs
  May 9, 2015


The Writing 101 series
1.  Formatting a Manuscript - May 9, 2011
2.  Nuts & Bolts, Part 1(grammar, punctuation) - May 16, 2011
3.  Tab conversion (from manual to auto) - June 5, 2011
4.  Nuts & Bolts, Part 2 - June 16, 2011
5.  I Ran Spell Check, I'm Done, Right? (self-editing) - July 5, 2011
6.  The Final Steps (self-editing) - July 14, 2011

More Nuts & Bolts
Using Capitals 1 - April 12, 2014
Using Capitals 2 - April 19, 2014
Using Italics 1 - February 15, 2014
Using Italics 2 - February 22, 2014


1.  Intro to Self-editing - April 1, 2012
2.  Should you hire help? - April 28, 2012
3.  Manuscript Format for the 21st Century - May 6, 2012
4.  Writing No-No's - May 28, 2012
5.  Point of View - June 18, 2012
6.  Anatomy of an Edit, Part 1 - August 5, 2012
7.  Anatomy of an Edit, Part 2 - August 19, 2012


Part 1 - What you need to discover about your characters - October 15, 2012
Part 2 - More questions about your characters - October 29, 2012
Part 3 - The Rest of the story - November 5, 2012


DICTIONARY FOR WRITERS series (5 parts)  - February. 4 - April 7, 2013

(3 parts) - May 13 - May 26, 2013
    [a look at a number of “writing” controversies over the past decade or so]
EDITING series
Part 1 - Layering - June 30, 2013
Part 2 - Dangling Participles - July 7, 2013
Part 3 - Show vs Tell 1 - July 21, 2013
Part 4 - Show vs Tell 2 - July 28, 2013
Part 5 - Treacherous Words - August 11, 2013
Part 6 - The Difference a Word Makes - September 1, 2013
Part 7 - “Modern” Punctuation - September 15, 2013
Part 8 - Questions to Ask Yourself - October 13, 2013


WORLD BUILDING series (4 parts) - December 28, 2013 - February 1, 2014

Editing Scold - December 14, 2013
More on Editing - May 3, 2014 (including more on Show vs. Tell)
Third Person vs. First (2 parts) - May 31 & June 8, 2014
Rule-Breaking 101 (3 parts) - June 21 - July 5, 2014
Editing Examples (3 parts) - August 23, Aug. 30 & Sept. 13, 2014
Misused Words (2 parts) - October 4 & October 25, 2014

WRITING WORKSHOP (9 parts) - December 6, 2014 - June 28, 2015

See Writing Workshop above.*
Settings (3 parts) - March 7 - March 28, 2015

* Writing Workshop has 2-3 sections yet to be posted.


1.  Guideposts for Critiquing - January 28, 2011
2.  Writing Mistakes, Near Misses & Just Plain Strange - March 4, 2011
3.  Shortcuts for Writers (ASCII codes) - March 18, 2011
4.  Rules for Romance - September 18, 2011
5.  More Rules for Romance - October 16, 2011
6.  How Not to Write a Book - December 20, 2012
7.  Branding - Bah, humbug! [writing multi-genre] - January 21, 2013
8.  How Does Your Novel Grow? - April 28, 2013
9.  Word Perfect to Indie Pub - November 17, 2013
10. Questions Fiction Writers Should Ask Themselves - October 13, 2013
11. How Not to Write a Book - April 4, 2015

~ * ~

Thanks for stopping by.

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Heirloom Embroidery & Recipes

Yesterday when my daughter was packing a teapot that dates back to the turn of the 20th c. - might even be Victorian instead of Edwardian - I recalled that my Aunt Kate (who was childless) had also given me her exquisite needlework. Tablecloths & napkins, all done by kerosene lantern as farm work in Nebraska demanded her daylight hours. I doubt that even "back in the day" there were any more expert needlewomen than my father's mother's sister, Kate Campbell. My daughter posted the images below to her Facebook page. And, believe me, there could have been lots more. I had truly forgotten how exquisite my Aunt Kate's work was.

As an interesting footnote: before my Uncle Will became a farmer, he was a fireman on the railroad, and after retiring to Oregon, he worked part-time stoking coal fires in a lumberyard, something for which he was highly experienced!

~ * ~

This week my daughter requested "Bacon Bread" for her husband's birthday party. Fortunately, it was the day Riley & Cassidy have their Gramma afternoon, and they did ninety percent of the work. "Best Bacon Bread ever" was the general concensus. I'm sure I've posted this recipe before, but below is an adaptation using Pillsbury "Grands," as the packages of smaller biscuits seemed to have disappeared from the grocery shelves.


Please note this is "pull apart" bread. It is NOT meant to be cut with a knife. Ever. Don't do it. I swear it doesn't taste the same. 

 Special Note:  This recipe is much easier if you prepare the ingredients ahead of time. Cut the pound of bacon in quarters. Cook, cool, & crumble. Shred the cheese. Sauté the onion & pepper & allow to cool a bit so you don't get burned when it's time for "hands on." Do NOT, however, cut the biscuits until the last minute. They'll become too soft & gooey to retain their shape.

1 lb. bacon (I use Oscar Meyer Smoky.)
1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar 
3/4 - 1 cup finely chopped onion (1 med. - large onion)
c. 3/4 cup finely chopped green pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon vegetable or olive oil*

1/2 cup butter (one stick), melted
2 pkg. Pillsbury "Grands" biscuits
Fresh herbs, snipped (optional)

*Instead of oil, I pour off all but a bit of the bacon grease & sauté the oil & pepper in that.

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Cook bacon, cool & crumble. Shred cheese. Sauté onion & green pepper in oil until tender. Cut each biscuit into quarters. In a large bowl, combine onion, pepper, biscuits, bacon, cheese, herbs, & melted butter. (This is a "hands on" task. Make sure each biscuit quarter is covered with butter so it will separate easily from the loaf.)   

Spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray. Layer the biscuit mix in the pan, scraping in every last bit of "fixings." Bake 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes, then invert onto serving plate. Serve warm. (May be made ahead & reheated in microwave.)  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Remember to tell people this is "pull apart" bread, not sliced bread.

This week I tried a "melt" recipe where I only had time to scribble the list of ingredients in a small notebook. No prep or cooking instructions. But when I managed to put it together, it was tasty enough to pass along. For lack of a better name, I simply call it . . .

Artichoke Melts

1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
14 oz. can small artichoke hearts*
9 oz. frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 green onions, sliced
3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce**
English muffins or thick-sliced French bread

*I cut the artichokes in half 

** 2-4, depending on your personal taste

Combine all ingredients but muffins & refrigerate for at least an hour. Spread mix on muffins or thick bread. Broil on Low for 5-6 minutes.  (The mix keeps well in the refrigerator for a day or two, so you don't have to use it all it once.)

~ * ~

Thanks for stopping by.

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.