Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Gallery & Ambrosia Recipe

With apologies to my Facebook friends, who have already heard most of my tale of woe:

It's been an interesting two weeks. No writing on my new book, just endless hours at the cutting table and sewing machine. For a peek at why, see the first three photos in the Gallery.

In Pic One, you will see Cassidy wearing the prom gown that cost me the better part of three days of my life. Would you believe that gown has FOUR layers—sequin-spangled net, sea-green slip, upper & lower crinolines, and because crinoline is scratchy, another slip under that! All to be shortened 5½" and re-hemmed (except the crinoline which simply had to be cut off). And then, with only two layers finished, my daughter Susie called and asked if I could hem Riley's gown as well!

When I finished screaming, I, of course, said I'd do it. Then guess what? When I saw Riley's gown, I choked. Cassidy's gown had four layers, each close to 12 feet around. Riley's hem was a single panel of satin-finished knit, at most 16 INCHES wide. All that yelling and hollering I did, and Riley's gown took thirty minutes at most, including changing the thread and sewing machine needle, but not counting ironing. SIGH.

Cassidy w/Alec, Mom & Dad



And then there was the costume I thought I had plenty of time to finish before the church's spring teen musical this weekend. Until all work came to a screeching halt when the prom dresses appeared. So, after the prom gowns, I hastened back to finding a way to make a hat brim curl (half of a paper towel tube in each) - after extending the circular brim to an oval, that is. Tricky, tricky, tricky. But I was able to deliver the costume on Tuesday. Below, the Coroner's Costume for The Wizard of Oz. Photo by choir/musical director, Tim Hanes.


Below, the latest roster of Citrus Singers perform "The Star-Spangled Banner at a Naturalization ceremony - something they've been doing for the last decade. I attended the first one, lo, these many years ago, and it was a very moving experience. A reminder to everyone that many immigrants do everything right, applying for entry to the US, completing the studies necessary for citizenship, and finally taking their oath of loyalty.


This week's gems from Facebook:

My daughter and I both love sea-glass, but no location was given for this photo posted to FB by Mia Fisher. (Or Susie would likely be buying her ticket to wherever that is.) I suspect it was photo-shopped. Just too perfect.

 And we always need a laugh . . .

 ~ * ~

Grace note:  Although the recipe below is called Ambrosia Salad, it is closer to a dessert. No added sugar, but many of the ingredients are sweet. But for all those with a sweet-tooth and/or those who are willing to fall off the diet wagon occasionally, I guarantee this is one of the tastiness recipes around. Pure heaven. Hence, the name "Ambrosia." I made it for our family for Easter, and even our fussiest eater had two helpings.

This particular Ambrosia recipe was found in the Cooking & Eating section of the Orlando Sentinel the week before Easter. 



Special Note: a few of the ingredients are not easy to find—shredded coconut and fruit-flavored mini marshmallows. I substituted flaked coconut and plain white mini-mallows, but ordered both shredded coconut and colored mini-mallows from Amazon for the next time I make this recipe.


8 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed (Cool Whip)
½ cup vanilla yogurt*
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 11-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
1 8-oz. can pineapple tidbits or crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup maraschino cherries, drained**
½ cup chopped pecans
1½ cups mini fruit-flavored marshmallows

* I used all of a 5.3 oz. container

**Since canned maraschino cherries have chemical preservatives, I substituted frozen black cherries, thawed, drained, cut in half. (Also less sweet than maraschinos.)


1.  In a large bowl, stir together whipped topping & yogurt.

2.  Using a rubber (or soft plastic) spatula, carefully fold remaining ingredients into whipped topping. (I folded in 2 at a time.)

3.  Chill before serving. (Overnight works well.)

Et voilĂ , a fabulous salad or dessert

 ~ * ~

I may not have had time to write or promote the last couple of weeks, but please don't forget my latest Regency Gothic, Menace at Lincourt Manor:



A merchant's daughter, born in India, believes she has married the love of her life, until she goes to live on the Surrey downs and has to cope with a dilapidated house, hostile servants, and multiple murders.


 ~ * ~

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


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)



Saturday, April 22, 2023

The Mouse That Roared, Part II

 Riley displaying her Magna Cum Laude certificate from Seminole High School

Our Riley with Mom, Susie

Below, two gems found on Facebook:


~ * ~

Grace note FYI:  I wrote both posts on The Mouse That Roared three weeks ago. Since then, Governor DeSantis has not only vowed to fight Disney's end run in the courts (at taxpayer expense) and in the legislature, he has signed into law the ban on abortion after six weeks, extended the ban on speaking of gay issues all the way through 12th grade, and granted the right to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. As well as continuing his drive to remove any books that might be even remotely controversial from all school and public libraries.

Nonetheless, below are the promised excerpts from the Orlando Sentinel, exactly as written three weeks ago, and which include a peek at a Disney that is not entirely blameless in this controversy.



Scott Maxwell has been writing outstanding columns for the Orlando Sentinel for years. I respect his opinion. And in this particular fight, he does not hesitate to point out that Disney has had more than its share of privileges over the years and that the mighty power of the Mouse has ranged too far afield. Therefore, I am including some of Maxwell's negatives as well as his smirks over the Disney/DeSanctimonius debacle.

Excerpts from Scott Maxwell's column, Orlando Sentinel, April 2, 2023:

If you look at Mickey Mouse's hands, you'll notice he doesn't have a middle finger. But if he did, he most surely flipped it at Ron DeSantis last week.

. . . . Basically, Disney was playing 4-D chess while the governor's legal team was fumbling with a bag of checkers. . . . DeSantis is so used to picking on easy targets—drag queens and transgender teenagers—that he wasn't prepared to do battle with someone with the power to fight back. . . . Ron DeSantis and GOP lawmakers are trying to use bully power and petty politics to punish a private company for expressing opinions they dislike—in this case, Disney's opinion that LGBTQ families should be treated like human beings. . . .

Still, Disney doesn't deserve to run its own government. Many of us have argued as much for years. Unfortunately, lawmakers in this state have been happy to do Disney special favors for decades—as long as Disney cuts them checks. . . . While the company has done some great philanthropic things in this community, it has also used money, power and even free park tickets to warp public policy in this state for decades. . . . I'm not cheering for the powerful corporation or the pandering politicians. I'm rooting for good government that doesn't cater to special interests—the one thing neither side seems to want.

* * *

Excerpts from an Editorial in the Orlando Sentinel, April 2, 2023:

. . . . Clearly, the governor thought he'd written the perfect fairy tale and cast himself as the hero—only to discover that Disney executives flipped the script.

. . . . And some huge, real world responsibilities, including permitting, planning and critical utilities for Disney's four theme parks, two water parks, a sports complex, a collection of hotels that total more then 40,000 guest rooms and Disney Springs, with its 24-screen movie theater, House of Blues and Cirque du Soleil. The district operates two incorporated cities, full-fledged fire and EVAC departments complete with cranky unions, 170 miles of roads, a huge electric plant and natural-gas distribution system, water and wastewater systems.

Many—including this editorial board—have been uneasy about the power that the Reedy Creek district allows Disney to wield, or the untold magnitude of tax payments it's avoided over the years by taking advantage of its ability to issue government bonds. . . . But there's no doubt the company backed its power with its own cash. Its handpicked board levied property taxes that are triple or quadruple what other Central Florida cities and counties charge.

. . . . Unfortunately, those high-priced lawyers [for the state] and DeSantis' own staff apparently didn't bother to pay attention to the agreements the old Reedy Creek board signed off on in the meetings before the state Legislature approved the governor's hotheaded demands. We're not sure why. The meetings were open to the public and duly noticed.

. . . . A Word to DeSantis

And that's where this should end. This was a foolish, petty and ultimately selfish political vendetta that could have ended up far worse. . . . All you've managed to do so far is create a situation where Disney has more control, and potentially more secrecy than it ever did. No matter how you try to play this, it seems apparent that you were outplayed. So take your advice from the Queen (and in this case we mean Queen Elsa). Let. It. Go.

* * *

Strongly Opinionated Grace note:  Keep in mind this man—bigoted, capable of going off half-cocked, as he also did when he sent an airplane to Texas, hijacked a load of trusting immigrants, and flew them to the island of Martha's Vineyard—thinks he should be President, the man with his finger on the nuclear trigger. Heaven forfend! Evidently, all he learned at Yale was elitism and self-indulgence. I once thought, "Anyone but Trump." I now realize how mistaken I was. (Not that I would ever vote for the Donald, but back before the GOP went mad, I was a registered Republican, and it hurts to see any political party fall so low.)

~ * ~

April 22, 2023:

No matter what your opinion of the Disney/DeSantis dispute, keep in mind the broader picture:  polls show that the majority of Americans do not agree with DeSantis on the many far-right issues he is pushing. And when the Minority prevails, we are not living in a Democracy. 

 ~ * ~

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


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, April 15, 2023


 The Mouse That Roared, Part II, will be posted on April 22, 2023.


A new bride copes with ever-increasing evil

Violet Larrabee, a merchant's daughter born in India, achieves her greatest dream, marrying the man she has loved since childhood (the great-grandson of a Bengali rajah), only to have her world plunge into a succession of nightmares. Abandoned by an all-too-busy husband, she must cope with a dilapidated house, hostile servants, and a succession of escalating events that culminate in multiple murders. Murders that might possibly have been committed by her husband.

Violet faces her problems with courage and determination, seldom faltering as she proves herself far from the shy, shrinking flower for which she was named. Until, with the solution to her problems almost at hand, a dramatic stumble nearly puts an end to her life and all possibility of Happily Ever After. 

For a link to Menace on Amazon, click here.

For a link to Menace on Smashwords, including a 15% free read, click here.

* * *

A Few Insider Details about the Creation of
Menace at Lincourt Manor

The months flew by as I wrote Menace at Lincourt Manor, and I had no idea it would be my longest Regency Gothic yet—95,000 words. (See Warning 2 below about the complexity of the plot.) As sometimes happens with those of us who write "out of the mist" or what is sometimes called "by the seat of our pants," my first imaginings for this tale of feminine courage against ever-increasing evil turned out to be quite different than the end result. I had thought to have our heroine run away in the final chapters, forcing her husband to hunt for her, but she turned out to be too courageous to flee from adversity, which includes a dilapidated house, hostile servants, an unfaithful husband, and multiple murders.

Grace note: Sorry, no ghosts in this one. The only nod to the surreal, the heroine’s occasional gift for seeing what others cannot.

Warning 1:  Menace at Lincourt Manor is darker than my other Regencies, featuring out-and-out evil in a setting of eerie weeping and wailing, swirling mist, and the icy cold of winter. If you like Gothics where disasters keep piling up, one after the other, this is the book for you. (For those who want Happily Ever After, take heart. It will come right in the end. Except for the villain(s), of course.) 

Warning 2:  Menace is more of a mystery than my other Gothics; in fact, the plot is complex enough that it takes one of those classic everyone-gathered- in-the-drawing-room scenes to explain what happened.

Background to the Creation of Menace at Lincourt Manor:

Since I try to keep my books from being written in “cookie cutter” mode, I spent quite a bit of time searching for a setting I hadn’t used before, finally choosing the close-to-London county of Surrey; most particularly, the Surrey downs rather than the area of imposing mansions along the river or the scenic Surrey hills. And kudos to the Internet and Google Earth for providing me with excellent views of Calcutta, Surrey, and London. How else could I zoom in on London’s many Squares? (When I began writing in the mid-90s, I would have been lucky to find a single photo in a book at the library!)

I am also grateful for the paper maps I bought on trips to England, lo, these many years ago. (The large-scale one has been used so many times, the folds have disintegrated into gaps. Sigh.) And then there is my worn copy of London 200 Years Ago, which was published so long ago that the maps are more like 250 years ago. (I.e., a little before Regency times but helpful, nonetheless.)

As for the main characters, once again I was trying for something different. As much as I love the books of Georgette Heyer, I would sometimes grind my teeth over the attitude she revealed toward members of the merchant class (however authentic). So in this most recent Gothic, neither Hero nor Heroine come from titled families. (The hero’s father has only recently advanced to a knighthood and become part of the landed gentry.)

I also wanted to have one of my protagonists be of obvious mixed race; in this case, the hero, who is the great-grandson of an Indian rajah and has the looks to prove it. Both main characters were born in Bengal, and coping with life in England is more of a challenge than either anticipated. (The hero’s backstory was inspired by William Dalrymple’s book, White Mughals.)

When I needed a name for a merchant ship of the period, I turned to the Internet and was astounded to discover the name of every single British merchant ship of that era, as well as what class of vessel it was, AND the exact dates of the runs each ship made from, for example, Calcutta to London! Wow!

An Internet search also provided the information that the Stock Exchange and St. Paul’s Cathedral are neighbors.  I most definitely did not expect that. (Although I have been to St. Paul's twice, nothing was ever said about the Stock Exchange being just across the square.) I promptly made a note to myself to include that in the book. (Something about God and Mammon sharing the same square, as I recall.)

This is a story where both Hero and Heroine come close to death; other characters, as well. And then there are those who did not survive the evil lurking on the Surrey downs. So put on your hard hat and settle in for what I hope is a “different” and sometimes shocking read.

Thanks for letting me share with you,

Blair (Grace)

 ~ * ~

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


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, April 8, 2023

The Mouse That Roared - Disney vs. DeSantis


This cartoon posted especially for Linda Wightman

 Seminole County was once again in the "animal" news this week—it would appear we only think we're a suburb when we're just living in houses surrounded by a massive variety of animals. I tried in vain to copy a still photo of the "cow rescue" from the many posted on the net, but had to settle for a video link. If you would like to see Seminole County firemen digging out a cow that was stuck in mud for 24 hours, click here.

Yet another proud Gramma moment—our Cassidy receiving an award from at Wednesday's Air Force Junior ROTC awards ceremony at Seminole High.


Since I began the post below on April 3, the story has become better-known, even making it to CNN. But for those who would like to know more about the startling Disney-DeSantis conflict, I hope this week's blog will help. For a peek at the other side of the issue and a series of quotes from the Orlando Sentinel, please see Part II of THE MOUSE THAT ROARED next week.


Something happened in Florida last week that had almost everyone laughing up their sleeve, if not guffawing in public. But since our governor (an as-yet-unannounced candidate for President) is likely making a huge effort to keep the news from spreading nationwide, and even more likely my international readers have no idea what's been going on in the Amusement Capital of the World—namely, Orlando, Florida—I'm going to attempt to summarize a truly convoluted situation.

The facts below are from what I witnessed on the local TV news and from several hardcopy articles and editorials in the Orlando Sentinel.

Our Governor, Ron DeSantis—or as someone named him on Facebook—Ron DeSanctimonius—is doing his best to woo Republican voters away from Donald Trump with views so far right they sometimes make Trump look like a flaming Liberal. If an issue has the slightest hint of "woke," DeSantis is opposed. He is censoring books and speech in our schools, pushing through "open carry" gun laws, making life difficult for anyone and everyone in the LGBTQ community, and in the process of reducing an already restrictive 15-week abortion law to 6 weeks.  In short, DeSantis is in a self-proclaimed crusade against anything "woke." (In a state where 49 people were killed and 53 wounded at the Pulse (gay) nightclub massacre in Orlando only a few years ago.)

One of DeSantis's more recent efforts was getting the Florida legislature to pass a bill that quickly earned the name "The Don't Say Gay Bill." (Although it forbids anything gay being mentioned in K-3, we could all see the handwriting on the wall. And, sure enough, the Florida Legislature is currently contemplating a ban on any mention of gay issues in grades up to 12.) When the "Don't Say Gay" bill was first proposed, Disney workers were among the many protestors, and after a slight hesitation, Disney's CEO also spoke out against the proposed bill.

Retaliation was swift and dramatic. DeSantis declared he was shutting down Disney's Reedy Creek governing board; the State would assume control of DisneyWorld.

Huh? The State of Florida was going to take over a private corporation, one of the largest corporations in Florida???! To demonstrate how short-sighted this cockamamie idea was, within days it was pointed out that this maneuver would make Florida taxpayers responsible for paying the interest (and full debt) on a billion dollars in bonds floated by Disney to support its many improvements. I.e., the Governor's legal team was out to lunch when the Governor went off half-cocked.

So, scramble, scramble, there were a couple of poorly thought-out, contradictory bills passed to get out of that situation, but the Governor persisted with his basic premise, somehow managing to declare that Disney would now be run by a board of his own choosing. (All Republicans, of course.)

Yet through it all, I heard the echo of my "up north" son's comment on the Disney/DeSantis brouhaha:  "Just wait 'til Disney's lawyers tackle this. They can afford the best in the world."

For a short while the Disney issue disappeared from the news, lost among all the other censorship proposals being made in the State Legislature. And then came the day the new board took over, and we all watched in amazement when there wasn't so much as a peep from Disney. But again, my son predicted Disney's lawyers would win out.

And, sure enough, just a few days ago,THE MOUSE ROARED. And waves of laughter rolled across the state as Disney-lovers (which is just about everybody) discovered how Disney's lawyers did exactly what my son anticipated, leaving egg on the faces of both our governor and the legislature in Tallahassee. Supposedly, DeSantis has consulted four different law firms, only to be told that Disney's paperwork is valid. He is still threatening to sue; i.e., use taxpayer money to counterattack an institution everyone loves. Sigh. But then, how can he admit to such a colossal error?

Below, in a nutshell, is how Disney managed to keep its power:

The new board met for the first time during the final week of March. And promptly discovered they could do NOTHING without Disney's permission. In other words, Disney was still in charge of its theme parks and all the adjacent businesses within their territory—hotels, restaurants, security, fire department, lakes, roads, bridges, etc.

How did this happen? 

On the day before the new board was scheduled to take over, the old board issued legal documents designed by Disney's band of sterling attorneys. Documents with truly unique wording maintaining Disney's right to rule until:  "21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of KIng Charles III." And since both William and Harry have children (and possibly more to come) who will likely have children, whose children will have children . . . 

Do you wonder at the snickers heard from Tallahassee to Key West? 

Grace note:  Because this story should have a bit of leavening, and also because some of the articles and editorials in the newspaper are so well-expressed, I am going to devote next week's blog to the words of professionals on the subject.

~ * ~

By Blair Bancroft - Book Choice of the Week


In this spin-off of the Blue Moon Rising series, the Crucible Kingdom, an obscure planet far, far away, is suffering from an ancient curse—periodic bouts of violent storms, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and wildfire. To break the curse, a widowed duchess and a starship captain from the disintegrating Regulon Empire (which her ancestors fled centuries earlier) are forced to work together. Although the duchess grudgingly accepts that the captain is highly capable in emergencies, she scorns the idea that a hard-headed Reg who does not believe in the power of sorcery can be helpful in breaking a curse. And then the captain comes up with an idea no one thought of, setting off a quest that turns out to be more dangerous than the curse itself.

 ~ * ~

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, April 1, 2023

Bond Pays Interest for 375 Years

 Facebook posted this "memory" this week, and it's worth repeating here. Below is a baby blanket that was the single most difficult pattern I ever did. Not to be repeated. Ever. But, from the distance of several years, I have to admit it was worth the effort.


Celtic Design Baby Blanket


Background to this week's Mosaic Moments:

My parents moved to a suburb of New Haven, CT, while I was in college. I ended up marrying a Yalie, whose father, brother, and nephew also attended Yale. Although long widowed,I still receive the Yale Alumni Magazine each month. I should also add that when newly married, after two years living practically on campus, my husband and I moved to a suburb where I became a member of a Congregational Church even older than Yale. It was, allegedly, the church at which the area's ministers met and laid their books on a table - donations toward the founding of Yale University. (The church celebrated its 375th anniversary shortly after my move to Florida in 1982.)

The Yale Magazine is always well done, but this month there was an article that truly boggled the mind. It seems there is a water district in the Netherlands, formed in 1323 (yes, that's the correct date) for the purpose of building a dike along the Lek River. Incredible as it seems, this water district is still in operation.


Water District Bond purchased by Yale in 2003

In 2003 Yale's Beinecke Library (rare books) bought one of five bonds issued by the water district in 1648. Below, a direct quote from the article:

The bond shows us exactly how the seventeenth-century Dutch were able to raise enough capital to build and maintain their remarkable system of dikes, canals, and polders (land reclaimed from the water). In a sense, bonds like these made the modern Netherlands possible.

The various water districts were even allowed to levy taxes and mobilize citizens into "dike armies" to support the upkeep of the canals in case of emergency.

The bond was written, signed, and sealed on vellum, deliberately designed to last for centuries. One of the stipulations was that anyone wishing to receive interest on their bond had to show up in person! The article notes that in 2015 Yale Beinecke (library) curator Timothy Young went to Europe and collected twelve years of past interest payments, amounting to 132 euros. 

The article ends:

While the seventeenth-century document remains in the Beinecke, the requirement to present its allonge* every few years to collect payment is a reminder of the important role that finance plays in constructing and maintaining the physical world we live in. 

*what might be called an Addendum, issued to record interest payments after space ran out on the original document. (Note all the scribbles in the margins added over the years.)

Grace note:  I have to tell you, if I hadn't read it in the Yale Alumni Magazine, I wouldn't have believed it. What an amazing story, particularly when I've lived forty years in a state that considers anything built before the 1950s old!

 ~ * ~

Don't forget to keep an eye out for the debut of my latest Gothic, Menace at Lincourt Manor, now getting the once-over from an eagle-eyed friend of mine.

~ * ~

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)