Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Gallery & Cover Reveal

 Long-time readers of Grace's Mosaic Moments know that even back in the days when most of my blogs were devoted to Writing and Editing tips, I always sneaked in family photos, mostly of the grandgirls. And these days are no different, except the girls are all grown up and doing remarkable things—Hailey majoring in Engineering with the nearby Space Center in mind, Riley a freshman at Stetson, and Cassidy considering a career in the Air Force or as a commercial pilot. As her first step on this long road, below a pic of the license that recently arrived in the mail.

A nostalgic moment as the girls jump the dunes in Dubai, when they accompanied their parents on a business trip to Singapore in 2019.


A few weeks ago, Hurricane Idalia tracked north just off the Florida Gulf Coast, churning the seabed along the way, resulting in Susie's best one-dive haul ever:

I believe she said that's a mammoth tooth on the right.

After this triumphant dive, Susie changed her Facebook photo to:

For Gramma Grace's addition to the family achievements, see Cover Reveal at the end of this blog.

A Special note for my surprisingly many readers in Singapore: Susie and her husband Mike will be in Singapore late next week, where he directs the technical support for a convention that meets there every other year. So if you see a curly-haired reddish blonde, old enough to be the mother of the two on the left . . . (Cassidy was in Flight School when this was taken at Susie's birthday party.)

Riley, Hailey, Susie, June 2023


 And now, a Gallery of treasures, filched from Facebook:


Highway Interchange in China

Yosemite - photo by Leanna Dilbeck

Grand Canyon

Taken 9/11/23 by Margaret Riegert West

Arizona Sunset by Delle Jacobs

 ~ * ~

Delle is also an outstanding Cover Artist. The latest example of the umpteen gorgeous covers she has created for my books since 2011:


The London adventures of Miss Madeline Lacey should be available - hopefully - sometime around mid-October.

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

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, September 16, 2023

My Personal View of 9/11

Next Blog - September 30, 2023 


Blog draft written on Monday, September 11, 2023


Photo from Facebook



My view of 9/11 is more personal than many, and on this day, the twenty-second anniversary of 9/11/2001, I feel compelled to spell it all out. No, thank God, I was not in New York City but in Venice, Florida, that day. I lost no personal friends and, to the best of my knowledge, have met only one person who was in the towers that day. Nonetheless . . .

My tale begins about two years earlier (best guess, some time in 1999). I lived on a quiet street in South Venice, an unpretentious neighborhood separated from truly delightful downtown Venice by a small airport and the Intracoastal Waterway. As I drove home several times over the course of a few months, I saw a truly unusual sight. South Venice was full of Florida "good ol' boys," retirees from the Mid-west (Venice is a straight run down I-75), and a few stray New Englanders like my parents and myself. Which is a not-too-subtle way of saying, both Venice and South Venice were pretty much lily white. And yet, as I drove home, I saw a strongly Arabic man walking purposefully down my street, heading toward the airport (or possibly the library). He was always highly focused, striding along, looking neither left nor right. And giving off what I have to call non-American vibes. But, hey, this was the U S of A, home to millions of immigrants. Then again, he stood out like a sore thumb in South Venice. In addition, no one walked in South Venice. Bicycles, motorcycles, trucks, cars - yes. Walking? You've got to be kidding!

Fast forward to September 11, 2001. I was at home when the phone rang and my daughter in Orlando called to say, "Turn on your TV!" and abruptly hung up. Like so many, I watched with horror the "accident" at the World Trade Center. I needed to go the library, however, so off I went, where, naturally, I kept an eye on the TV coverage of the disaster - and was standing there, staring at the ceiling-mounted screen, when the second plane hit, and we all realized this was not an accident but an attack. 

No need to rehash the next few days as we all sat, transfixed to our screens, watching the horror unfold. (The hair on my arms is rising while I'm typing this sentence.) The shock of the Pentagon being hit. The heroic passengers who downed their plane rather than let it hit the Capitol building. The horror of the rising body count that would keep on increasing as the First Responders succumbed to illnesses born of their heroism that day.

But back in Venice . . .

On Day 2, the FBI swarmed into Venice, confiscated every computer in the Venice Library (yes, the library where I watched a plane hit the second tower), and shut down a flight school at Venice Airport (a scant mile from my house). And the story came tumbling out:  Mohammed Atta, the head of the airplane hijackers, had coordinated his attackers from the computers in Venice Library. He had lived for months in South Venice - until he was ousted from the home where he was staying for disrespecting the wife of the house. And where did Mohammed Atta learn to fly? At that modest-sized flight school at the Venice Airport. A business that promptly closed, never to open again. Not surprisingly, I compared his photo to the man I had seen a couple of years earlier marching down my street. If he wasn't Mohammad Atta, he was his twin. Interestingly, years later when I took Sarasota County's 8-week Sheriff's Class, one of our speakers mentioned he had been one of the local investigators on the county's ties to 9/11, and when I told him my story, I thought he was going to swallow his tongue. He gulped, hemmed & hawed, and finally came up with something totally inane. Which left no doubt in my mind that the Powers That Be knew that the months just before 9/11 were not Atta's first visit to South Venice, but I suspect since our area already had so much egg on its face, this had been deliberately kept a deep, dark secret. 


Several days after the disaster, I learned that a relative by marriage ( no spring chicken) had been in New York's lower east side that morning, and when all transportation shut down, he had to walk, through the smoke and pandemonium, the long, long distance back to his apartment on the upper west side. Not that he was complaining - he was infinitely grateful that he had made it home alive.

About a year or so later, the speaker at Sarasota's Ivy League Club was a former stockbroker who had walked down from the 82nd story - I believe it was in the second tower. He moved to Florida to get away from it all, but admitted he had been unable to settle back into work. At that time he was simply telling his story to anyone who would listen and hoping he would eventually get his life back to normal. Multiply his story by thousands of others, let alone the trauma of the First Responders, and you begin to understand that the horrendous personal tragedy of 9/11 extended far beyond the loss of the thousands killed that day. And continues to extend not only to those who lived through it, but to their children, and grandchildren.

~ * ~


To all who died due to the attacks on the World Trade Center, 

the Pentagon, and United Flight 93;

to the Firemen and Policemen who gave their all, 

and to the many who have suffered physical and mental trauma ever since.

Requiescat in Pace

~ * ~

Featured this week, the most "downbeat" of all my books, even though it was written for a Christmas anthology.


Marriage, yes. Love, no. Lady Christine Ashworth's glorious Season in London comes to an abrupt close with the death of her father. Her home now belongs to someone else; her fiancé is conspicuous by his absence; and her younger sister is as miserable in their new home as she is. What can she do but accept an offer from the despised heir, even if Christine now considers all men anathema, particularly the perfect stranger who has taken her father's place?

Author's Note: This novella was first published in a Christmas anthology as The Last Surprise, but I always felt it needed more scope. Therefore, ten thousand-plus words have been added. A Lady Learns to Love is a poignant tale of those faced with tragedy, amplified by unforeseen circumstances, who still manage to survive, aided by the spirit of Christmas.

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

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)


Saturday, September 9, 2023

Reading Note, Recipe & Gallery


Some of the drinks served at The Capital Room Bar

Though I don't see my favorite - Conservative Lady - blue with a butterfly perched on top.

Busy night at The Capital Room Bar, Sanford, FL

Update on Grace's Recent Reading:

Last week's hurricane (Idalia), though it spared my part of Florida, seemed to usher in a really bad week—perhaps it was the increased humidity adding new aches and pains on top of my eyes plunging into a periodic cycle of going wonky on me. In any event, I turned to the comfort of old favorites on my Kindle, and the need for a Special Note cropped up. 

One of my all-time favorite series of any genre is Lindsay Buroker's SciFi Fantasy, "The Emperor's Edge." Not only is it highly imaginative, full of action, with remarkable characters, but it goes through something like ten books before the hero (anti-hero) even kisses the heroine! But my Special Note is this:  if you are thinking of reading, or re-reading, this series, you will enjoy it more if you read Book 1 of the "Encrypted" series first. Because Book 1 introduces the seventeen-year-old version of the Emperor's assassin, Sicarius, the anti-hero of all eleven volumes of "The Emperor's Edge" series, as well as two VIP characters who reappear in the last volume of the series." 

Warning:  to the best of my recollection, we never get a peek inside Sicarius's head. He is always seen through other people's eyes. (I have always wondered if, when Ms Buroker created him, she intended to use him in his own series, or if she simply found the character she created for Encrypted too intriguing to let him go. ( I. e., a decade or so later, who and what has he become?)


 As I have mentioned, I am a recipe freak. I could recall making a tasty chicken recipe which included thin lemon slices, but it became lost among my mountains of recipe magazines and not re-discovered until I culled the piles, determinedly packing most of them off to Goodwill (but only after photocopying my favorite recipes, of course). But when I took a second look at the re-discovered recipe, I found a number of oddities, which I am going to list before typing up the original. Here's a look at the photo in One-Pan Recipes (

Keep in mind, however, that the sauce in this recipe is so tasty that it is well worth a bit of hassle to try to figure out what the recipe's author really meant.



1.  Photo shows broccoli, but there's no broccoli in the recipe.

2. Recipe calls for 3 chicken breasts, but every package of 3 I saw in the store weighed considerably more than the specified "about 1 lb." I bought a package of two.

3.  Recipe states:  chicken breasts cut into half-inch cutlets, which implies cutting the chicken before cooking, except the photo implies the chicken is not cut until after cooking. (Both times I've made it, I cut the chicken up ahead of time. Will experiment with cooking breasts whole next time.)

3. Recipe states to keep chicken warm in oven while making sauce. It seems to me the chicken could also be put in microwave and gently reheated before pouring the sauce over. (I experimented with keeping chicken warm on Power Level 1; that also worked.)

Warning:  Like so many truly delicious recipes, Chicken Piccata has quite a few steps. Here's a list of what can be done ahead of time.

1.  Slice chicken (if you plan to cut strips before cooking).
2.  Prepare a plastic baggie with flour, salt & pepper. (This is the way my mother taught me to coat chicken, more than half a century ago - except we had to use a brown paper bag.)
3.  Mince garlic.
4.  Slice half a lemon into thin slices. 
5.  Squeeze enough lemons to make 3 tablespoons juice. (Two lemons should be enough for both slices & juice, as long as they're not mere dry excuses for lemons.) 
6.  Mince parsley.
Here is the recipe, as printed in One Dish in November 2021: 


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb.), cut horizontally into ½" cutlets
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed*
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
½ lemon, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed & drained
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1.  Preheat oven to 200°F. Put a serving platter in oven to warm.
2.  Season chicken with salt & pepper, then dredge in flour. Shake off excess. Heat oil in large skillet; pan-fry each breast until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter in oven. Drain oil from skillet, leaving a thin coating.
3.  Add garlic to skillet & cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Pour in broth. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Stir in lemon slices and bring to boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce reduces to about 2/3 cup, 3-5 minutes.
4.  Add lemon juice and capers; simmer until sauce is further reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Drop butter into sauce; stir in. Add parsley; stir in. Remove sauce from heat.
5.  Arrange chicken on serving plate(s); top with sauce.

*I experimented with Pam, which is not a good substitute in this recipe; had to add olive oil before adding garlic. Therefore, use vegetable oil or olive oil; no spray-on.

Repeat:  This is a great sauce, well worth the effort and the confusion about what the instructions mean. I'm guessing the original intent was to cut the chicken into cutlets only after cooking. Enjoy!

~ * ~

This week's featured book:

The background on this one is highly authentic. I ran a costume shop in one of the Gulf Coast's most delightful towns for several years (making c. 85% of the costumes myself).



Costume designers are not detectives. But when a customer ends up dead in Gwyn Halliday's best Santa suit and a senior friend is threatened, what's a girl to do? And besides, a bit of investigation might promote a better acquaintance with the hunky new police chief, not to mention reestablish an old acquaintance with a friend suffering from PTSD, who now needs her as much as she needs him.

Author's Note:
Golden Beach is an actual Florida Gulf Coast town, whose residents would prefer to keep its real name secret. Only a few of my Golden Beach books have cross-over characters, but all share the same idyllic setting. (Or at least it was before I made bad things happen there.)
~ * ~
For a link to Blair's website, click here. 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)