Grace's Mosaic Moments

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Shroud of Turin

Medieval Sorceress as Greeter at the 19th annual Reale Halloween party
With hat & wimple slightly askew. (And yes, that's me.)


On Saturday morning, October 28, 2017, I attended a lecture at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Longwood, Florida, on the Shroud of Turin (named for the city in Italy where the shroud is now housed). Below is a photo of the full-size replica we saw on Saturday, (shared by a friend, since one of my grandgirls had managed to "hide" my phone!)

Shroud of Turin replica at Church of the Resurrection, 10/28/17

It was an enlightening presentation, I have to admit. Like so many of us, I had read about the shroud - or heard about it on the news - many times over the years; most particularly, a couple of decades ago when the cloth was debunked as being from Medieval times, not the time of Christ. But step by step, the speaker (R. G. Chiang) went through each cry of "fake" over the centuries, including the carbon-14 test, which was later declared invalid because the frayed edge of the linen had been contaminated by medieval "soiling." Basically, I felt he did a successful job of "debunking the debunkers." But, as he frequently emphasized, belief is very much a matter of the mindset you bring to the problem, the lifetime of teachings that affects how we think. As for me, I was pretty much won over to the assertion that the Shroud now preserved under glass in Turin, Italy, was very likely once spread over the body of Christ.

The lecture was strikingly detailed with drawings and biblical quotations, and a history of the Shroud since it was acquired from the Knights Templar. I am, however, kicking myself because I failed to ask: "Where was the shroud before the Templars acquired it?" But, alas, I didn't think of that one until I got home. The questions I did ask are:

How was the reproduction made? A photographic process imprinted on cotton by a firm  in California. The original? Our speaker believes the imprint to be the result of the energy of the resurrection.

Where is the shroud now? Inside a full-length glass-topped case in a vault in the cathedral attached to the palace of the House of Savoy in Turin, Italy. The restoration of the shroud (2002) and construction of the protective room and container cost two million dollars.  

To properly view the shroud, you need to know that it was folded in the center. The left half in the photo above was under Jesus's back, the right over his front. Therefore, an imprint of his face can be seen just to the right of center. (In the middle of the cloth, above the third support post from the left.) In the first photograph ever taken (1898), the negative image is startlingly clear from head to toe, his hands folded over his genitalia. Unless I was willing to deny that a picture is worth a thousand words, I could not help but be impressed.  

Grace note: It is believed the cloth was "laid" not "wrapped" as women were coming back to prepare the body with spices and perfume.)

All the other marks on the cloth are due to age or accident. Evidently there was a fire in 1532 which melted the silver decoration on the reliquary box in which it was kept, burning holes in the cloth. There are also "fold" marks and small holes along the fold lines, most of which have been carefully mended at some time or another. You will notice that the larger triangular holes that look like teeth mirror each other on either side of the center. As do most of the small "fold line" holes.

The most remarkable thing about the very first photo taken (1898) is that no one, including the photographer, expected the negative image to be so much more vivid than the faint sepia tones of the shroud itself.

Shroud "negative" photo, 1898 (front & back)

Shroud "negative," 1931

Whether you're a believer, a scoffer, or think Jesus just another religious prophet, I hope you take a moment to ask yourself: "Could the so-called Shroud of Turin really be the linen cloth draped over Jesus at the moment of resurrection?" 

With food and costuming to prepare for Susie's party that same night, I almost didn't go to this lecture. I'm glad I did. In this world which seems to be "going to hell in a handbasket," as my mother used to say, it's good to have reason to believe that miracles can and do happen. 

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

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Comments on a Mix of Books

Hailey, Riley & Cassidy at a local pumpkin patch


The giant brush & log heaps are gradually being taken away, but not gone. Nothing is left of the oaks in the photos posted two weeks ago, except two mounds of roots & dirt. The tree that crashed two houses from me was finally carted away this week - the roof is undergoing repair. We've had enough rain that the St. John's remains flooded. The statistics are coming in: Damage to Florida agriculture - 2.5 billion dollars, 60% of that is our citrus crop.

Grace's Recent Reading - A Mixed Bag

SHOGUN by James Clavell - first published 1975

I manged to go more than forty years without reading this book, but when BookBub made me an offer I couldn't refuse . . .

The trouble is, I've been reading Shogun for six weeks or more and still am only little more half-way through. There's only so much torture, mayhem, death, complex conniving, and a shockingly wide culture gap that I can take at one time. (And being told how inferior Western culture is.) So periodically I take a break, sneaking off to lighter fare on my Kindle or paperbacks off my "favorites" shelf. 

Why do I continue to read this book? Because Shogun is a tour de force tale by a Westerner who immersed himself in Japanese culture well enough to portray it to people like me who never got much beyond Madame Butterfly. Are the details of 16th c. Japan correct? I can only assume so, or Shogun wouldn't have become a legend in the publishing world. (The portrayal of the influence of Spain and Portugal in a time when England was just discovering the Orient is also amazingly well done.) So the historian in me keeps reading, even as I wonder if it was really necessary to have almost every last character, minor as well as major, have his/her own Point of View.

I tell myself I'm going to grit my teeth and finish this book, but I'm not certain I will. I mean, do I really want to know the incredibly convoluted details of Japanese politics and battles 500 years before I was born? And read about brutality, savagery, and treachery that make Stephen King novels read like children's fairy tales? 

THE COLE TRILOGY—THE PHYSICIAN by Noah Gordon - first published 2012

When I bought this book for my Kindle, I had no idea what I was getting into. That, like Shogun, I would read and read and read, and only be at 11%.  So when I finished Part One, I took time out for lighter fare on this one too. I am, however, looking forward to finishing the whole saga. It's a remarkable tale of a time even farther back than Shogun - beginning in the year 1021 when Canute the Great was king of Norway, Denmark, and England; i.e., when a Viking ruled.  

Upon the death of his parents, a boy in London is apprenticed to the 11th c. equivalent of a  huckster. A man who travels from town to town, performing magic tricks, selling "snake oil," and, astoundingly, healing the sick after the show is over. The boy gradually discovers he has "the gift," an aptitude for healing far beyond that of his mentor. And when his apprenticeship is over, he sets out for Persia, which, he is told, is the only place he can learn true medicine, not the travesties practiced by the so-called doctors in England. I am currently reading the part where he travels across France, Germany, and into Eastern Europe on roads built by the Roman Empire. That's as far as I've got, but the story is as well written as the plot is well thought out. Mr. Gordon's research is superb, bringing the era to life with amazing details. I am looking forward to reading the rest. 

DEAD STOP by Barbara Nickless

Okay, I suppose I can't call this lighter reading, except that it's standard book length, not an epic. And a contemporary mystery is a big break from two hefty historical novels. I discovered Ms Nickless not too long ago with her first book, Blood on the Tracks, and was delighted when Amazon let me know a second book was out. The heroine, Sydney Parnell, is an ex-marine with PTSD who appears to be hiding in a role where she can use her military skills while attempting to deal with the dead people she sees and hears on a regular basis. The unique setting of the first two books is in and around railroad yards, where Sydney has become a railroad security cop. And she is so very good at it that at the end of Dead Stop it appears she will be moving on to the FBI or the city police. (I'll miss the train background, which was truly fascinating.) This is a series I cannot recommend too highly. Unless you only like your mysteries cozy. Ms. Nickless does not write cozy.


This is about as far from Shogun and The Cole Trilogy as one can get. Maybe not from Dead Stop, as there's quite a bit of violence or talk of violence in between the graphic sex scenes. But Ms Flite creates excellent characters and genuine plots, enough so that, like the books of Ruby Lionsdrake, I enjoy them even though the erotic is not my thing. I also like this series as its prime location is in Rhode Island, and I spent most of my growing up in Connecticut, within a few miles of the Rhode Island border. Which includes encountering mafia families first hand. My neighbor was a capo, and my children grew up so instilled with the rule of omerta (silence) that we were nearly three years in Florida before they told me about the bullet holes they'd seen in my neighbor's Cadillac. 

As far as the "Royally" series is concerned, I think I liked the first book (Royally Bad) better. The hero of Royally Ruined is the crime family's heir apparent, and frankly I expected a bit more for him. But Ms Flite's dialogue is as sassy as the sex is hot; in fact, I can't page over the sex scenes, as I often do, because the quips are too good to miss! So if you're not easily offended, this is a fun series, definitely in the light reading category.


I researched the name  Gay Hendricks, because I felt the author simply had to be male. The total obliviousness to the female mind (deliberate), the badinage, the snark - no way did a woman write this. And yes, he is male and a PhD as well. 

This mystery, the first of a series, is hilarious. The fictional characters priceless, and the wonderfully placed hints about real characters of the early 20th c. both intriguing and nicely integrated into the plot. Because of my age, I recognized the historical characters at first hint but suspect that most will not, making the revelations that much more fun. Sir Errol Hyde is, it seems, a rival of Sherlock Holmes. And although our hero prides himself on being much more knowledgeable about women than Holmes, any female reader is going to be groaning loudly about his cluelessness. 

Basically, this book is well thought out, well written, and filled with humor, both raucous and wry. (It could have used a bit more copy editing, however.)  The intricate plot hinges on world affairs in a time leading up to World War I. I strongly recommend it to those who like their mysteries intelligent and humorous, with outstanding characterizations.

~ * ~
Hmm-mm - I suspect the above comments qualify me as someone with eclectic tastes. Or maybe just plain strange??

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

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Back to Basics 2 + LIMBO MAN


It was pointed out that I omitted some examples from last week's post on Punctuating Dialogue. So here they are - illustrated by examples created by me.

 1. Exclamation points.

The punctuation depends on the sense of the sentence.


I cried, "Help!"

I don't care how often you say, "sorry"!

In the first example, the exclamation point is only for "Help!"
In the second example, the exclamation point refers to the whole sentence

2.  Question marks.

Same approach as the exclamation point.


I asked, "Where are you going?"

Do you know the origin of the saying, "All's well that ends well"? 

In the first example, the question mark is part of the dialogue.
In the second example,the question mark applies to the entire sentence.

3.  Colons, semi-colons

Basically - if you absolutely, positively have to use them in your work of fiction, the colon and semi-colon go OUTSIDE the quotation marks.


We waited for the voice of the so-called "Oracle":  Hail, Wayward Sinners . . .

I never liked what my mom called "greens"; I ate them anyway.

4.  One speech extending over two paragraphs.

If one person's dialogue extends long enough for a new paragraph to be needed:  

Do NOT put quotation marks at the end of the dialogue in the first paragraph.

DO put quotation marks at the beginning of the next paragraph.


   The professor droned on and on, ending, "Most experts believe that if global warming continues melting the ice caps, the ocean will rise five or six feet over the next twenty years, resulting in severe flooding of most coastal areas.

   "However, there are people who do not believe that our climate is suffering from global warming."

If anyone can come up with other dialogue punctuation problems, please let me know. The only ones I found when I checked The Chicago Manual of Style were quotes within quotes within quotes. And, believe me, you better not do that if you're writing fiction!


Bah, humbug! to “branding.” Yes, I know it’s supposed to be a good thing, but not for authors who write in multiple genres. Without any intention on my part, I was branded a “Regency” author, and getting readers to look at my Mystery/Suspense books is like single-handedly pulling up a diver from forty fathoms deep! So in an effort to call attention to LIMBO MAN, a tale of international intrigue, I re-edited the entire book, line by line, and ordered a new cover. As of Friday the 13th, LIMBO MAN has been be re-incarnated: Same title, same plot, even the same blurb. But let’s see what a “hunk” on the cover will do. Plus some Twitter posts, a feature on my blog . . . You get the message.

I mean, really, LIMBO MAN deserves to shine. I’ve been to every international location used in the story, including Siberia and tried to re-create it faithfully. (Except Teheran—for that I had to rely on Google Earth!) And yes, a child was actually killed by bombs left on WWII’s Pine Castle bombing range. It was farther back in time than I used in the book, but it actually happened. In fact, the story of how thousands of people discovered they were living on top of live ammunition is worth repeating.
Decades after WWII, c. 4000 homes were built on top of the Pine Castle Bombing Range, with no disclosure to the owners. (Until I moved to Longwood two years ago, I lived in the farthest northeast corner of it and therefore received notices of all the meetings about the problem and updates on the progress of the clean-up. I attended one of those meetings, which was conducted in Spanish and English, in the presence of the Orange County mayor and at least one Councilman.) The @#$% hit the fan shortly after I moved from Venice to Orlando in 2007. As the months went by and the Army Corps of Engineers was called in to investigate, the situation grew from suspicious to dire.

All in all, over the next decade the Corps of Engineers removed 14 tons of bomb debris as well as 400 live bombs and rockets from ground that included Odyssey Middle School, numerous high-end homes and condos, plus office and commercial real estate. Except, of course, no one actually dug UNDER anyone’s home, so who knows what’s still there . . .

The above is an example of the personal research I did for LIMBO MAN. I’ve walked across the dam mentioned in the book. And motored around the Thimble Islands in Connecticut. And I’ve even been to Bratsk, Siberia, and seen the cabin built for President Eisenhower’s entertainment on the shores of Lake Baikal.

As for the book itself . . . the characters are great, if I do say so myself, and the plot has the authenticity of being sparked by a true tale of lost nuclear bombs told by a retired CIA agent. Yes, there’s a bit of whimsy here and there—particularly in the resolution of the romance. But, hey, romance is what we all like, right? And when you have not only the Montagues and the Capulets pulling at the hero but a powerful third party as well, you have to do some fancy footwork to contrive a happy ending.

So please take a peek at the updated LIMBO MAN - now live on Amazon and Smashwords. Below: new cover plus blurb.

FBI Special Agent Vee Frost does not care for Homeland Security's list of job qualifications when they ask to borrow her services. "An experienced agent with a proven track record" is good. "Fluent in Russian" hints of an assignment which is close to her heart. But "Attractive female, under thirty-five" sends up red flags. Obviously, DHS is asking for services above and beyond the call of duty. But a loan to Homeland Security would look great on her resumé, and it sounds as if they really need her . . .

But when Vee agrees to turn on the charm for Sergei Tokarev, an amnesiac Russian arms dealer with an agenda as hidden as the contents of his past, she never anticipates a chase after two nuclear bombs that will have her hopping around the world from Connecticut to Siberia to Iran. And no matter how strong a bond she and Sergei forge, it seems doubtful either will live long enough for a happy ending.

For LIMBO MAN at Amazon, click here.

For LIMBO MAN at Smashwords, click here.

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

Thanks for stopping by,




Saturday, October 7, 2017

Back to Basics - Punctuating Dialogue


The victims in Las Vegas 


 Hurricane Update

The "Low" in our area did not develop into "Nate," but it rained enough to send flood waters back up in low-lying areas. A storm in the Gulf of Mexico did grow into Nate and is poised to go ashore as a strong Cat 1 around the mouth of the Mississippi River around 7:00 p.m. tonight (Saturday). Harvey, Irma, Maria, Nate (and Katia which hit Mexico). Not a good hurricane season in North America.

In the Orlando area, three photos illustrating "low priority": 

If a tree isn't blocking a road, crushing a roof, truck, or car, then it's still lying there, three weeks after Irma, waiting until crews get around to cutting it up and carting it off. These two trees are down between a busy shopping center and a lake.(I'm going to keep track of how long it will be before anyone gets around to turning these magnificent live oaks into sawdust.)


Punctuating Dialogue 

Examples are from The Blackthorne Curse 
(Blair Bancroft - online late fall 2017)

1. Actual words spoken are offset by double quotation marks (in books published in the U.S.).


“All my friends are having London come-outs,” I declared, struggling to keep my voice to a lady-like calm. “Even those who have long-standing betrothals are being allowed to gain a bit of town bronze before they marry.”
Grace note: The only place single quotes are used is within the body of another quote. When you need quotes while writing narration, double quotes must be used.
(Not finding an example of this, I made up a couple.)

Mary sighed. "He said quite clearly, 'I will not do it.'"

The word "blithering" is late 19th c., not appropriate for the Regency period. 
[NOT 'blithering']
Repeat:  Do not use single quotes anywhere but within double quotes. 

1. Dialogue tags with commas, questions marks, and exclamation points. 

The "tag" following a comma (a), question mark (b), or exclamation point (c) begins with a lower case letter. 


a.  “That you will not,” he roared back. “The whole county’d be up in arms. Passing over my own kith and kin to leave Blackthorne Hall to a bastard.”

b.  Grandfather and I stared at each other. “You remember?” he asked, his voice no more than a hoarse whisper. 

c.  “Now go on, scoot!” she added in a tone that reminded me all-too-sharply of Prudence Cogswell. “The Mister’ll be having an apoplexy.” 

2.  Punctuation within a continuous dialogue sentence.  

Commas are used to offset the tag within a continuous sentence.


“But now that you’re back,” Grandfather continued, “there’s but one solution." 

3. Tags before the quote.

 If a tag followed by a comma comes before the quotation marks, the initial letter of the dialogue must be capitalized, just as at the beginning of an ordinary sentence.


I looked him straight in the eye and declared, “Your promise was long ago, Clive."  

4.  Full sentence tags. 

If your tag is a full sentence, whether in front of the quote or behind, it must be separated from the dialogue by a period.


Right:  “Indeed, my dear, I can show you the letter, if you wish.” Lady Talbert offered such a benign and understanding look that I burst into tears right there in the drawing room.  

Wrong:  “Indeed, my dear. I can show you the letter, if you wish,” Lady Talbert offered such a benign and understanding look that I burst into tears right there in the drawing room.  

5.  Inserts in Dialogue.

There are several ways to insert a comment into Dialogue. Two of the most common are: a dash (a) or ellipses with separated sentences (b).


a.  “I only know I felt the push. Someone”—or possibly some thing—“was there, but I know not who.” 

Grace note: the above is my personal way of using the dash to insert dialogue; there are those who position the dash differently. 

b.  “I only know I felt the push. Someone . . .” Or possibly some thing. “. . . was there, but I know not who.”  

6.  Speaker Identification. 

When a single speech contains multiple sentences—particularly when there are more than two people present—the speaker must be identified in the first line. Do not write three or four sentences before you identify who is speaking.  

Example (three persons present):

“You may speak with Lord Rolfe, Miss Blackthorne,” Miss Marston decreed. “I shall, of course, remain. Any future calls by Lord Rolfe will be conducted in the parlor under the usual restrictions. I trust that is satisfactory to you both?”

“You may speak with Lord Rolfe, Miss Blackthorne. I shall, of course, remain. Any future calls by Lord Rolfe will be conducted in the parlor under the usual restrictions. I trust that is satisfactory to you both?” Miss Marston said.

7.  Keep action, introspection & dialogue together.

Although I have seen books where the dialogue is written on a separate line from the character's actions or thoughts, most people find that style confusing. Since change of paragraph usually indicates change of speaker, it can be very difficult to figure out who is speaking. I strongly advise keeping a character's dialogue in the same paragraph with his/her actions and/or thoughts. The only exception - if the speech is long and needs paragraphing to make it more readable.

~ * ~

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

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

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Tale of Irma, Part 2

The "spaghetti models" a couple of days before Irma struck Florida. We were rooting for the two on the right. The 7th & 8th from the right are closest to the path Irma finally took.
Before the 4x 4, my neighbor's fence was leaning at about a 45° angle. I like to think my vines helped keep it up when nearly all other wood fences in the area have been smashed to kindling.

When I went to my daughter's house on Monday night, Mike & girls had finished picking up branches and were relaying flagstones - or maybe just playing in the mud after a long, hard day

Although there was still some wind & rain on Monday morning, there were birds sitting on the wrought iron fence wondering what happened to their birdfeeder. So up it went, even before I made coffee on a Sterno stove. Shot taken through the screen to keep from frightening the birds - with neighbor's debris in the background.


 Special note: I set out to write a personal story of what it was like when Central Florida was threatened by a major hurricane, and I am going to do just that. But with apologies to all those who lives were shattered so much more thoroughly elsewhere - from the floods in Houston, fires in the American west, earthquakes in Mexico, and the utter devastation in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean islands, most particularly Puerto Rico and St. Martin's. (Murmurs of the Apocalypse have been heard.) The personal pleas, day after day since Maria struck, have been agonizing as the large PR population in the Orlando area tried to contact friends and relatives and couldn't because not only was all the power out, all the cell towers were down. The latest wrinkle - seen on the noon news on Thursday, September 28 - there are hundreds of containers full of supplies sitting on the docks in San Juan, none of them being off-loaded! (Excuse: lack of gas for the necessary trucks to haul the goods where needed.)

~ * ~

Grace's Personal View of Irma

Monday evening, September 11:  My daughter had no power, but they had a generator for basics and an outdoor grill, and I was happy to accept an invitation to supper. But oops! It was dark and I hadn't gone half a mile when I saw cars from both directions slowing down, taking turns driving the middle of the road through a flooded area, maybe fifty yards long. No place to turn around, so I did what the others did, even though most of them were vehicles with better clearance than mine. Next obstacle - no light at the intersection. Fortunately, traffic was light and I made the turn without incident. But when I entered my daughter's neighborhood, I had to negotiate an obstacle course, with just a narrow path cleared between the piles of debris (cut logs & branches  on both sides of the road). 

My daughter, son-in-law, and the three grandgirls had worked nine straight hours that day clearing debris. Piles of tree limbs, mostly evergreens, rimmed their yard. They lost about a third of the screen panels in their pool cage. Supper, however, went off well, with about ten family refugees eating together - except every time Susie used the microwave to heat up side dishes, the generator blew, and someone had to run around turning off as many lights as possible so the generator would come back online. 

Later, when I tried to think of an alternate route home to avoid the flood, I was stymied, because both routes involved major roads with multiple traffic lights. None of which were working. I braved the flood, arriving home about as tired as I'd ever been in my life.  Stress, pure stress. My sympathy for people with severe damage was strong. I vowed I wasn't driving anywhere until the water was down, the traffic lights were back on

Tuesday afternoon: my daughter brought the girls over to clean up my yard - an easy job compared to their yard. Naively, I still thought my debris would be picked up on the usual Yard Waste day, Wednesday. It is now two weeks later, and everyone's debris is browning in front of their houses. One giant tree is down two houses east of mine. It may be weeks before our debris is gone.

Meanwhile, TV is doing 24-hour news coverage, and I learn the damage is extensive. Even if we didn't get the brunt of the storm. Central Florida is a land of lakes, lakes, and more lakes, with one major river, the St. John's, and many smaller ones. There were trees and power lines down everywhere, many blocking roads. Some houses had their roofs shattered by falling trees. The storm surge was less than expected on our Atlantic Coast since Irma went north closer to the west coast, but boats still suffered, many of them breaking their moorings, sinking, or being tossed everywhere from on land to miles away. 

And the inland flood problem was growing worse, as the 16-23" of rain we had in our area poured into the rivers and lakes, plus the rains from south Florida pouring into the St. John's, which flows north. People whose homes had survived the storm now had three feet of water on their floors. Roads and bridges washed out. Sinkholes began to open up, some just gaping holes in the ground, some swallowing houses and causing a new round of evacuation orders.

Thursday, September 14: I ventured out for the first time since Monday night, getting groceries at Publix, where the shelves were almost back to normal. There was still little traffic on the roads, but the stoplights, thank God, were working. I still had no phone or Internet, but since I had power, I wasn't complaining.

Sunday, September 17:  Church was held in the gym of the church school, since churches were low priority for power. (Not restored for 13 days). The lakes and rivers continued to rise, many well over flood stage.

Monday, September 18:  I'd been checking my Internet two or three times a day for the last eight days. At 3:30 that afternoon, to my astonishment, I discovered I was back on line. I lifted my phone, got a dial tone. Which meant my cell phone could now update without my leaving the house.

The flooding on the St. John's and other rivers and lakes was beginning to go down, but not by much more than an inch a day. As of today (the 29th), flood conditions are still in effect.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Lee turned north into the Atlantic. Maria did not. News of Florida and its problems was suddenly replaced by news of Hurricane Maria obliterating Puerto Rico and St. Martin's. And today they tell us a tropical low is forming just off our Atlantic Coast, and then it's likely to move west directly across the state, perhaps developing into "Nate." Sigh. I have not put my lanterns away, or my bottles of water. The porch is still bare and uninviting. The yard waste still lies out front, turning brown. But every time I think, "I'm really tired of this," I see pictures of what's happened in Puerto Rico and understand why Father Paul, on Sept. 17—only partly with tongue in cheek—absolved the congregation from "survivor guilt" for having come through the storm as well as most of did here in Longwood.

Sunday, Sept. 24:  Services back in church, but the church school gym where we met last week is closed due to enough rain leaking in that black mold is feared. So tarp on the roof, inspections, cleansing - it'll be a while before all is back to normal.

Tuesday, Sept. 26:  The Orlando Sentinel said that 176 trees came down in our local botanical gardens (Leu) and a large tree fell on Dr. Leu's historic home, causing water damage to one wing. It is indicative of the massive amount of damage in our area that the disaster to our beloved Leu Gardens—much like churches being at the bottom of the list for power—was not reported until more than two weeks after the storm. Which reminds me, there's an Eastern Orthodox church about two miles from me with a mound of browned debris (logs & limbs) about fifty feet long and six feet high.

Wednesday, Sept. 27:  The TV news reported that black mold is already settling in in every house and business that was flooded. 
The weatherman announced that the series of violent storms we suffered in September broke all previous weather records.  

Friday, Sept. 29: The news at noon today announced the closing of a five-story waterfront condominium in Titusville (home to the Space Program). The roof came off in Matthew last fall and again in Irma. The water damage has led to black mold, a severe health threat.

After the news, I had my hair cut and met the Irma disaster up close and personal. My hairdresser lives on the St. John's River and lost her house. Permanently. She was on the phone to FEMA for the umpteenth time just as I arrived. And no, the house isn't salvageable. Two trees fell on it during the storm, prompting her to rent a storage unit and call a truck to move her furniture out. (To the amusement of her neighbors who told her she was overreacting. Two days later, as the water rose to engulf her neighbors' homes, she was helping them pack up.) There was no flood insurance on the house. She is living in a rental. (But her furniture was saved.) FEMA is offering nothing more than a loan when her expenses have already soared sky high.

And, of course, you can multiply the story above by the thousands if you count Harvey, Irma, and Maria. I keep telling myself we re-built western Europe and Japan after World War II. We ought to be able to rebuild the damage from three hurricanes. It's just that this time, the devastation is closer to home. And no amount of political diplomacy can keep it from happening all over again. 

Friday evening news: 350,000 claims for hurricane damage have been submitted to FEMA in Central Florida.

Friday evening, 8:40 p.m.: Regular TV programming was interrupted while the weatherman detailed the movement of a tornado in south Brevard county - on the shoreline some 30-35 miles away. The new storm front, the one that wasn't supposed to be anything more than a rain event, was showing hurricane quirks, such as leading with a string of tornadoes. Enough, already! Yet they tell us this one will be with us through Monday. Sigh.

I'll shut up now, but not before expressing the hope that this is it for the year. That flooding from this new Low will be minimal and not afflict more pain on those who already have holes in the roof, ruined appliances, molding couches, etc. Survivor guilt again - I am so glad I live on top of one of Florida's excuses for a hill!

~ * ~

 Likely topic for next week: Back to Basics, a look at some of the most common writing mistakes.

If you missed the Citrus Singer's second video, the parody of "These Are a Few of my Favorite Things," here's a link.

For the Citrus Singers' new video, click here.

Thanks for stopping by,