Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, October 29, 2022

PAPERBACK - The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle


GALLERY - Homecoming & Halloween

Daddy's girls

Alex, Cassidy

Denzel, Riley

Cinderella's Chariot, 2022

 For Halloween, let's go back a couple of years to a photo that includes Hailey, now our college girl.

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I am delighted to announce availability of my first paperback since I went "e" in 2011. Possibly because I love reading on my Kindle, I've never bothered with print copies of any of my books on KDP. But I have to admit there's something about waiting for my author copies to arrive on my doorstep, picturing being able to give out signed copies to family and friends . . . okay, it's an ego-booster, I admit it. Below, please find a repeat of the Cover of THE SECRETS OF STONEBRIDGE CASTLE, as first seen on the e-version in 2021. (The blurb is the "short version," originally written for Smashwords.)


Not your usual Gothic heroine, the widowed Aurelia Lacey, with a five-year-old to protect, reluctantly accepts an offer of shelter from an old friend, and ends up in an isolated castle, her haunting memories from the Peninsular War vying with a host of hedonistic London guests, a serial killer, seven hundred years of castle ghosts, and the biggest challenge—her friend, the once-gallant spy, now turned drunken sot.

For a link to Secrets on Amazon, click here.

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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, October 22, 2022

Democracy or Autocracy? - Time to Choose

 This week's Gallery begins with yet another Hurricane Ian disaster, this one as close to my heart as Snook Haven. 


Venice, Florida, is the only town for a hundred miles north or south unprotected by a barrier island, yet its waterfront survived remarkably well. Wind damage three blocks inland, however, was more intense. (See photo below.) 

Even before I moved to Venice, Florida, I was aware of the Venice Little Theater. My father ushered for the productions back when it was in a Quonset hut at the Venice Airport. (Yes, that's right - the airport forever infamous as the place where Mohammed Atta learned to fly.)

By the time I became a permanent resident of Venice, the theater had moved to the downtown auditorium abandoned by the private military academy that once flourished there. My daughter participated in several productions at VLT while in high school. Below, what the theater looked like after Ian. (The VLT website declares that rebuilding is underway and is announcing auditions for a Christmas musical. Bless them!)

Photo by Susie Reale


On a happier note . . .

Below, a photo I never saw when Susie first took it. Was delighted when she re-posted it from Facebook Memories this week.

Mike & Riley


Grace note:  Friday a.m. I just had a phone call, asking about the possibility of Riley borrowing my car for Senior Prom night. Sigh. How times flies!

Our Cassidy was in Tampa last weekend for another Central Florida Police Explorers training event - everything from take-downs to emergency medical. And shooting competition of course. Surprise, surprise - someone actually out-shot Cassidy - she ended up in 2nd place, but with a 1st for her team.


Below, you'll find a great photo, but not surprisingly, kits adapted from Bengal tigers are not the best bet for a household pet, no matter how cute they are.


Lastly, a re-posting from Facebook to usher in my rant of the day.

I titled this one, "If only. . ."

And yes, I'm a liberal who believes every one 
of the items in the boxes above should come to pass.


 I don't have a lot of money to contribute to election campaigns. I no longer have the strength to take my views door to door in my neighborhood. But before filling out my mail-in ballot, I did take the time to research the more obscure candidates, such as those running for my county's school board or the Soil & Water Commission. I also pondered the three amendments to our State Constitution, finally choosing two yeses and a no. And then I put my ballot in the envelope, sealed and signed where indicated, and dropped it in the mailbox, satisfied that I had voted in every election since I turned twenty-one (the minimum age at that time).  

VOTING is the foundation of Democracy. Without easily accessible voting rights, Democracies wither and die, allowing the "dog-eat-dog, devil-take-the-hindmost philosophies of megalomaniac dictators to make slaves of the vast majority of the population.

And yet, even after the current Leader of this rabidly anti-democratic attitude has been shown to be liar, a cheat, duplicitous to the point of treason, there are those who cling to his muddy coat-tails - most astonishingly, a great many blue collar workers, for whom Mr. Trump cares not a snap of his fingers as long as he can pull the wool over their eyes long enough to get them to vote for him or for those espousing his to-the-right-of-Attila-the-Hun policies.


And then there are people like Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis, whose "throw-back" philosophies are far more dangerous than those of Trump the Dunce. Because DeSantis is way smarter and Yale-educated, to boot. Was it at Yale that DeSantis was indoctrinated with "elite" ideas that should have been humbled decades ago? (I say this as the daughter of someone with a father who had a Masters from Harvard, as someone who was married in one of Yale's chapels, whose husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law, and nephew are all graduates of Yale. And as one who lived in the New Haven area for more than a quarter century and was among the Fellows' wives who were asked if women should be granted entry to Yale!) So yes, as much as I love Yale, I am aware of the hard-core elitism that lurks there.

Back to Florida . . .

Ron DeSantis's latest dictatorial legislation went into effect this week. Teachers can now lose their licenses if they talk about "woke" ideas in the classroom - from gender identity to race relations. (Keep in mind that banning "Critical Race Theory" is basically banning a discussion of racial history in the U.S., lest some overly sensitive white child should feel "shame.")

You've got to be kidding!  

Except Ron DeSantis is serious, just as he quoted "personal freedom" as a reason for not mandating masks during the height of the Covid epidemic or told relatives they were "free" to visit their loved ones in nursing homes, taking their germs with them. In other words, he gave his constituents the right to die and take others with them!

Believe me, when researching candidates for this fall's election, I red-flagged all those who mentioned "parental rights." If your child needed surgery, would you demand your right to tell the surgeon how to do his job?? The same applies to teachers. They, too, are professionals, most with a Masters Degree. Parents have no more right to tell teachers how to do their jobs than they have a right to tell a surgeon how to wield his knife!

On the subject of cockamamie Florida laws, I could go on and on, but I'll settle for just one more (which, admittedly, I have mentioned in a previous blog).

I was a young mother living in the New Haven area during the original fight for Roe vs. Wade. I cheered when it passed, saw the vast improvement to women's health that followed. I now mourn for all the women (and young girls) who have been plunged back into the dark ages. I do not consider myself in favor of abortion, but I AM in favor of doing what must be done to protect women and girls who need one. Roe vs. Wade was a legal milestone, a literal LIFE-SAVER for women who previously had been driven to backroom abortions or DIY with coat hangers or poisonous potions. A female's Right to Choose MUST be restored.

So . . .

Consider your options. Consider your responsibility to

uphold Democracy, to keep the wolf of Autocracy at bay.



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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)

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Hurricane update & Gallery



Everyone has seen photos of the damage on Florida's West Coast, but what most people outside our state don't realize is that the damage inland was not only severe but has INCREASED over the past week. Central Florida is a land of countless lakes and rivers - all of which received 15-20" of rain in 24 hours. And even when the sun came out, the rivers kept rising from rain run-off, adding to the flood levels in the lakes they passed through, as well as WAY above flood level along their banks. An example (in reverse):  a large park in Altamonte Springs lowered its flooding lake by draining the waters into the Wekiva River, which was already flooded. So instead of the flood waters going down after the storm, the Wekiva rose, flooding even more houses. Florida's longest river, the St. John's, flows north at a sluggish pace over land that is flat. Due to our rainy season, the river was already high. Hurricane Ian sent it into a flood stage that has continued to rise over the past week as streams and run-off drain into it. It is not expected to go below flood stage UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR. 

What this means is that there are a huge number of families coping with houses that flooded from 1-3 feet up the first floor walls; i.e., all major appliances and first-floor furniture ruined. (FYI, most houses in Florida only have one floor.) Television news keeps showing us neighborhood after neighborhood with giant mounds of furniture piled out front for trash pick-up. 

I keep saying abject thanks that somehow my neighborhood was spared. Florida has few hills, but my house is on a plateau of some kind, and I give thanks for it every day. But please say prayers for the thousands who have lost everything, including those who live along rivers that are still rising.

Below, a couple of Ian aftermath photos & a gallery of miscellaneous photos that have been postponed in order to show storm pics.

Posted to FB by Linnea Sinclair (Tampa)

I lived in Venice, FL for 25 years. One of my most favorite places in all the world is Snook Haven on the Myakka River. [10 miles inland, a last outpost before jungle swamps and cattle ranches all the way to Arcadia - 50 miles.] Snook Haven is the "Bud's Fish Shack" found in some of my mysteries set in Venice. 
Update, Thursday, 10/13 - Snook Haven is currently described as, "too flooded for anyone to get in to assess the damage."

And on a happier note . . .

Re-post (by Mom) of grandgirls jumping in the dunes of Abu Dabi

Riley & proud parents at Senior Band Dinner, 10/22

Buffy's balancing act - and no, I have no idea how she got up there!

Buffy & Willow "helping", back when they were kittens

Baby Buffy & Willow, A-a-aw.

And the inevitable sign-off . . .

Sunset Wow - posted to FB 9/22

 ~ * ~

Hear ye, hear ye! THE SECRETS OF STONEBRIDGE CASTLE will soon be available in paperback. 

~ *~

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, October 1, 2022

Pics & Vids of Ian in action


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."

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 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.

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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)