Milkweed Meditation

10. Monarch Cindy Dyerby Anne Taylor

Standing together, stems hardened by the summer's sunbathing.
The Milkweed Cluster Support Group comes to order
As the members, all seeds released a year ago,
Begin their fall meditation:

        Reflecting on the cycle of their lives
        Feather-borne seeds riding on the whims of the wind
        The breath of Nature bearing the myriad of snow-seeds thither and yon
        Some to an end and others to a beginning.

        Those chosen seeds,
        After surviving taunts of “nuisance plant” and “advantage weed”
        Settling safely into untended ground.

        Spring thaw and rain wake the seed
        To process the fallow earth
        And begin its upright striving for the sun.

        The maligned wild flower
        Produces the sweetest smelling flower of June
        Attracting bees and butterflies
        To rest on its milk-nourished blossoms.

        This milk-blood circulates with the message
        To turn blossoms into pods
        Tough incubators of fluff and seed
        These pods allow for the warming
        And maturity of the plant progeny.

        The new generation burst forth on a warm October day
        To fly with the Monarch Butterflies who cocooned in their shadow
        And begin the cycle anew.

Photo: Monarch Butterfly on Common Milkweed copyright Cindy Dyer

        Winter Mantras:  harvest celebration – beginnings and endings – myriads         of deeds/seeds with fruition unknown – integrity of purpose – cooperation       with nature – stamina – longevity – life circle

The Void is Always Filled

by Mary Ellen Ryall

Lepidoptera Tithorea butterfly chrysalis copyright Alex Wild Copyright Alex Wild

I received a birthday card for my 28th birthday, on April 30, 1970, from my beloved Aunt Ellen. I have always loved the words.

What shall we wish thee,
what can be said
Bringing the sunshine
all the year round?
Where is the treasure lasting and dear
That shall ensure thee
all through the year?

Faith that increaseth
walking in the light
Hope that aboundeth
happy and bright.

Love that is perfect
casting out fear
These shall ensure thee
a happy year.

As Patrick Tayor, the Irish storyteller would say, and this is what it was. When I was a child, I used to pick Lily-of-the-Valley and give posies to my grandmother. I remember, in junior high, gram worked as a live-in domestic for Miss Margaret and Josephine Sullivan, retired school teachers. A previous essay titled Memories Submerged in a Poem, about that time, is available at

In 1964, a year after graduating from St. Peter’s Academy, I was stranded at the family farm in Rock City Falls with no opportunities whatsoever, when providence stepped in. I saw an article in Seventeen Magazine recruiting youth of America to come and work at the World’s Fair, in New York City, for the summer, and I applied. A businesswoman Barbara James had an apartment to share for the World’s Fair season. I wrote about the experience in Born Under a Lucky Star. Learn more at

Photo: World’s Fair Post CardNew_York_Worlds_Fair_1964-1965_Postcards copyright Joschik

After working at the World’s Fair for the summer, I knew the season would end, and I was desperate to stay in the City, and not return to the farm and a nothingness existence. Barbara had a literary career working with an editor, at Time and Life Magazine. What a beautiful office she had on Fifth Avenue, on an upper floor overlooked the Hudson River. My roommate arranged an interview for a position at Time and Life, under the pseudo name of Betty Brown, in the subscription department. Thanks to Barbara, my adult life could begin in earnest. It was my first real break into the world of publishing. It was unwittingly because I never dreamed I would become an author. Everyone else thought I was a writer, but I was a late bloomer as gram would say. To celebrate, I bought my grandmother, Ann O’Grady Sullivan Cunningham (July 7, 1892 – November 25, 1979) a china teacup and saucer set, by Royal Albert, Bone China England, decorated with the beloved Lily-of-the-Valley.

lily of the valley tea cup

PHOTO: teacup

Recently, I have been thinking about Aunt Ellen’s and Gram’s heirlooms. The question begged, who will carry the memories forward after I am gone?

A butterfly cup has its story. I was 33 in 1978 when I moved to Venezuela for six months. I assisted Dr. Jorge Armand with cataloging books for the Archeological Museum, at the University of the Andes, in Merida, an Andean Town at 7,000 feet altitude.

Merida Veneuela copyright venzolannosPhoto: Merida Venezuela

History of Dr. Armand’s work follows: “In the year of 1972, the anthropologist Jorge Armand founded the Archaeological Museum assigned to the Department of Anthropology and Sociology of the School of History of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, with headquarters in the same Department. Due to the growth that the Museum had, it was achieved in the year 75, although without receiving official recognition from the University Council. At this stage, the museum consisted of two research areas: Archeology, coordinated by Professor Armand and Ethnology coordinated by Professor Jacqueline Clarac de Briceño.” Source: When Dr. Armand returned to India to complete a Ph.D. in Anthropology, I returned to the United States.

Back home again between assignments, I was just in time to take a position at Skidmore College, Alumni and Publications Department. I lived at the Annandale Mansion, 245 Clinton Street, Saratoga Springs, New York. My great uncle Owen James Reynolds (June 5, 1852 – September 23, 1920) was an Irish immigrant and stonemason. He and a team of craftsmen built the Annandale Mansion.


Photo: The Annandale 1880’s

I never entertained visitors at my resident. I was surprised one evening when I heard a knock on the door, and it was Aunt Ellen. I invited her in, and being Irish; we settled down to a nice cup of tea. While delicately arranging dried petals on paper, my Aunt Ellen silently watched and asked about the blossoms, especially Venezuelan orchids that grow wild in the Andes Mountains. I learned about native plants and butterflies while stationed in Peru, Venezuela, and later Colombia, and Ecuador, between 1974 to 1980. Sometime after this encounter, the butterfly cup came to me. Aunt Ellen knew about synchronic moments.

butterfly cup

Photo Butterfly Cup

After Gram passed away (July 7, 1892 – November 25, 1979), Aunt Ellen returned the tea set. I am grateful that the china will go to Kara. Who else would keep the ancestry stories alive, but Aunt Ellen’s beloved granddaughter?


Photo: Misahualli – Number 88 butterflies and Chrysalis

I was out of the country, in Misahualli, Ecuador, at the time of Gram’s passing, (November 25, 1979) and without contact with the outside world because I was in the Jungle along the Napo and Misahualli Rivers. Note: Douglas Clark was a personal friend of mine in the 1970s, a famous butterfly collector and jungle tour guide in Misahualli. Following butterflies became a passion in South America, and Misahualli was my first exposure in the world of Lepidoptera, the study of butterflies.

San Agustin copyright Lonely Planet

Photo: Archeology site

I didn’t receive a telegram about Gram’s death until I returned to San Agustin, Colombia, in January 1980. There was a telegram office in the Andean village with a famous archeology site, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Preserve in 1995. Learn more at  At the time, my friend Ann Fry and I rented a house in San Agustin. It was a great adventure.

My beloved Aunt Ellen walked on February 27, 1982. To attend the funeral, I flew in from San Francisco, California, where I worked for the St. Mark’s Historic Lutheran Church, which survived the Fires of San Francisco in 1906. Learn more at

St. Mark's Luthern Church

Photo: St. Mark’s Church

At the funeral home in Ballston Spa and while standing in front of the casket, I noticed a card with a poem and dried pressed flowers. I was touched that my cousin Kathy thought about what the blossoms and writing meant to her mother. Kathy wrote, on April 3, 1982, “Thanks so much for being here and for your lovely note and kind thoughts.” She continued, “Hope you’ll call or drop in when you’re in Saratoga – Mom always loved your surprise visits from the far corners of the globe – our many happy memories sustain us. She dearly loved you – carry her thoughts with you always.”

southwest-waterfront-00 Madison Marquette

Photo: DC

In the early 1990s, Kathy occasionally visited me in Washington, DC. We enjoyed time in the penthouse overlooking the SW waterfront, with views of the Tidal Basin, Lincoln’s Memorial, and The War College in south-west DC. Kathy loved culture and art as much as I did. Both of us were artistic, creative, and a bit eccentric. We could spend the whole day at the Smithsonian Museums, which were within walking distance from the penthouse. Then the season passed as they always do, and we went our separate ways. In 1994, my husband Will DeJong and I moved to Southern Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay, and Kathy settled into life in Upstate New York. We didn’t keep up with each other during her married years because I traveled and worked afar.

After retiring, Kathy lived with her daughter because she needed extra help. Cousin Ellie told me that Kathy had developed Alzheimer’s Disease. I felt a loss knowing that this is one disease that can’t be put back together again. Kara was doing family research on the Internet, she looked for connections to her past, and discovered the essay, “Born Under a Lucky Star,” about Aunt Ellen, her grandmother, and she sent a message. Learn more at

Again, it was as if Aunt Ellen had a hand in this serendipitous moment. Now I realize the butterfly cup and a few other small pieces of China are intended for Kara. Kara’s Great-Grandmother handed down an antique English serving platter decorated with roses made by L. Straus & Sons, in Carlsbad, Austria. Now, this is an heirloom for Kara.

Straus and Sons platter

Photo: Straus Platter

NOTE: In 1865 Lazarus and Isidor Straus formed the whole importing firm of L. Straus & Sons. They were importers of Crockery, China, and Glassware. The three sons of Lazarus and Sara Straus were Nathan, Oscar, and Isidor. Courtesy of the Straus Historical Society Source: Historical Society at

There are always stories, and today I remember I just flutter by, after all my name is Memengwaaikwe, in Ojibwe, which means Butterfly woman. I am grateful to have these stories and treasures to pass into the future. God Bless You, Aunt Ellen. Thank you for bringing Kara into my life. She is helping to ease my heart with the loss of Kathy to a devastating disease, and hopefully, I can bring some comfort also.


I especially think of Aunt Sarah and Mary Reynolds in winter when it is storytelling time. Photo: Aunt Mary, Mother and Father, Aunt Sarah.

familyWinters were chilly in the old white, wooden, two-story home, at 69 Oak Street, in Saratoga Springs, New York. In the 1830’s, Irish immigrants lived on the west side of Saratoga Springs, NY, and called it Dublin. The Irish were stone cutters or masons, and bricklayers. According to Hoofing It, the style of the house bears a resemblance to those built in 1870. The home had a white picket fence and trimmed shrubs across the front, which privatized the property. Photo: My grandmother, Isabelle Reynolds-Ryall with her children on the front porch at 69 Oak Street.


The kitchen was a favorite room in winter because it was warm. The windows steamed up when the old stove was on. Thin cotton curtains hung from the sunny windows. Yellow painted wooden chairs surrounded the table, and we  plopped ourselves in, around a rickety old table. Our aunts served us warm tea and Freihofer’s toast that scented the air with honey, melted butter, cinnamon, and homemade grape jelly. We always took evaporated milk and sugar in tea. Most of the cousins remember this fondly.


Our aunts did not change with the seasons, nor did they participate in modern fashion. They were elder established seamstresses and proudly made their clothes. In their younger years, their careers consisted of working in the garment industry in New York City. In later life, Aunt Sarah had a seamstress office at the Grand Union Hotel. In later life, dresses they wore were always dark and long. Aunt Sarah snuffed the modern world. The aunts took pride in their unique culture. They wore heeled dress shoes. Aunt Mary’s hair was abundant, and I loved the look of her wavy, tousled, and bouncy grey hair. Aunt Sarah’s straight hair was the color of brown tea, and I suspected she colored it.

Photo: Aunt Sarah and Mary most likely outside of the textile company where they worked in New York City.

Aunt Sarah was formal and strict. I loved her, but she didn’t smile much outside of her dry humor. Aunt Mary was happy and childlike in her wonderment. She found joy in just about everything. Aunt Mary would exuberantly say when we sisters rang the front door, “Oh my, the girls are here!” I remember one night I was sleeping with Aunt Mary in a small bedroom on a single bed. She was making animal faces on the wall, and I became scared. Aunt Sarah cautioned her to stop teasing me. I was so frightened that I ran into Aunt Sarah’s front bedroom and hopped into her double bed and spent the night. The bed was placed in the middle of the room, which enabled her to make the bed.

Our aunts thought that young girls should sit quietly in a chair and learn to knit, crochet, and sew. My sister could sit contentedly for hours, with yarn or thread, working on a project. I was miserable and hated every moment of the torture. After a while, my aunts would give up, and set me free to wander into the back shed to explore the tools, hats, and garden baskets. After my fill, I went outside into the gardens. I just had to be outdoors; I was restless as a child.

I remember seeing broken egg shells in the vegetable garden and learned early on about composting and organic gardening. There was a lovely grape arbor in the backyard, near the clothesline. Our aunts were proud of the grapes they grew, and the grape jelly they made was the best I ever tasted.

Photo: My grandmother Isabelle Reynolds-Ryall in the garden at 69 Oak Street, Saratoga Springs, New York.


One day, Aunt Sarah showed me a plant with heart-shaped pink flowers and a white tip, which held a bead of water. She asked, “Do you know the name of this flower?” I answered, “No.” As I recall, my aunt said, The plant is called Sweet William and named after your father, sweet William. I have always loved the tale.

Photo: Bleeding Heart.


On rainy days, one of my aunts would hand me a missionary magazine, and I would go into the formal parlor and spread out on the floor to enjoy looking at the people from Africa and reading about them and the missionaries. I don’t think it odd that I chose to volunteer for a Catholic Mission in Latin America when I was young. I think the suggestion came long, long, ago.

A green bus went by the house and used to stop for my aunt Mary and I. We went shopping at the A & P because they had special offers. One time they were giving plate sets away if you bought evaporated milk. Aunt Mary would pick up a dish or table setting such as a creamer every week. Now I have the last of the set. A plate, bowl, and creamer are the last pieces. I remember the memories every time I pick one up and use it.

plate Aunt Mary (1)

Photo: Last of Aunt Sarah and Mary’s everyday plates.

One evening, the telephone rang at my family’s home, at 40 Madison Street. Aunt Sarah had suffered a stroke. It happened late in the evening, and Aunt Mary didn’t want to call anyone in the middle of the night. The didn’t have a telephone at the time. The next morning, Aunt Mary went next door to call a doctor. That evening, I learned about the stroke and slept with a photo of my Aunt Sarah under my pillow. I kissed the photograph and prayed that she would get better. In the meantime, I had a difficult time falling asleep. I was troubled by what happened to my Aunt Sarah and didn’t know what it meant, except something awful had happened, and life would never be the same again.

A few days went by before the next thing happened. I remember following my father and Aunt Mary down into the cellar at 69 Oak Street. It was surprising to find a Grotto to our Blessed Mother down in the basement. The cellar walls were stone like the Grotto. There was a root cellar stocked with colorful glass jars of canned vegetables, fruit, and jelly from the abundant gardens. A few days later, my dad and his brothers Owen and Ralph put in a gas stove in the back living room, near the dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. They were getting the house ready for Aunt Sarah to come home from the hospital.

Before the warmth of the gas stove in the middle room, I used to sleep on a horsehair couch in the formal front parlor in winter. Heavy drapes separated the hall and the formal front room. The furniture was firm and itchy. It was hard to settle down as a child with something irritating my skin. A framed print called The Whistling Boy hung from the wall. Rudolph Eickemeyer was the photographic artist. Campbell Art Company, Fifth Avenue, New York City sold the painting in 1901. A coated plate of saved stamps decorated a plate on the piano, odd that no-one played the piano? A colorful blooming red, waxy leaf, begonia cheered up the room. A small stand held a photo of a young man. Once I asked Aunt Sarah who he was? The best I can remember, she mentioned, he was my uncle and died long ago. Only recently, I learned from the family tombstone that our aunts had a brother, Owen Joseph Reynolds. He was born on January 19, 1881, and passed away on January 31, 1898. The place of death and attending doctor were not listed. I question, how did he die?

After Aunt Sarah came home from the hospital, I went to the house to visit. She was always busy now taking care of her sister in the back living room. I sat on the couch near Aunt Sarah’s bed. She didn’t speak now. She was pretty crippled up, and her hand was listless. She would pick up her hand, and kiss it. I know she was telling her body that she loved it even if her hand was purposeless now. After all, she was a seamstress and once depended on her hands. Little by little, I didn’t go over to the house as frequently. I tried, but it became sad for me. After Aunt Sarah died, on March 27, 1961, something changed in Aunt Mary. I still went over to stay with her because she was alone. Aunt Mary kept to herself now and would go up and down the stairs in search of something. As a child, I believed she went upstairs to visit Aunt Sarah. A child’s imagination can run wild.

In closing, I want to share one last tale about a 5-pound glass jar of honey. It was on sale one week at the A & P. Before Aunt Sarah became ill, Aunt Mary, and I lugged it home on the bus. Aunt Sarah said, “What are we going to do with 5 pounds of honey?” She always thought Aunt Mary was extravagant and teased her. In her gay manner, Aunt Mary said something like, “Oh it will be used up one way or another.” I loved Aunt Mary and her generous heart. She was a lot of fun. Mary Reynolds died May 17, 1969. I will always remember my aunts with love. They were the cornerstone of my childhood.

Source:  (Burke’s Funeral Notices: ID 1976 – James Owen Ryall, Jan 31, 1898, 17 years, 17 days old, page 239.)

Family tombstone was designed by Owen James Reynolds and his daughters Sarah and Mary.

copyright text and photographs Mary Ellen Ryall


There are over 1,000 North American species of solitary hunting wasps. All of them prey on arthropods, which the female stings and paralyzes (but doesn’t kill so that they don’t begin to decompose immediately). Most solitary wasps specialize on a single type of prey, and many build highly characteristic burrow nests. Once the prey is […]

via Thread-waisted Wasps Provisioning Nests — Naturally Curious with Mary Holland

Happy Tonics a Nonprofit for Pollinators


23rain - Copy

Our Monarch Butterfly Habitat is now part of a larger Pollinator Habitat at Lac Courte Agriculture Research Station in Hayward, WI.

Photo copyright Mary Ellen Ryall


Joe Bonamassa and Other Company

joe bonamassa

August 15, 2017 – I attended the Joe Bonamassa concert at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York. The ticket cost was $166 and was worth every penny. It was a balcony seat. There was a fat man that would have been next to me, but I concentrated on having space around me, and I took my place one seat away. I didn’t have to sit next to the fat man. No one sat on my left or right. Rejoice, Sacred Space.

stevie-ray-vaughan-for-radio-bdc-1050x700  Reese Wynans was the keyboard player.  Wynans joined Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble in 1985, playing keyboards on Soul to Soul and In Step and played with the band until Stevie Ray Vaughn’s tragic death in 1990. Vaughn was my all time favorite guitar blues player and his voice was something. I still miss him. Back in 1993, a black bus driver introduced me to Vaughn’s music. One day I got on the local bus in Lusby, Maryland, and the bus driver handed me a CD saying, “He’s the only white boy that can play the blues.” He was right. I thought of the bus driver tonight even though I don’t remember his name. He wasn’t the only person I thought of.

According to Joe Bonamassa’s Website, Anton Fig is one of New York’s most in-demand session drummers and has spent the last 29 years as the drummer for David Letterman’s house band on the NBC and CBS networks. Fig is one of America’s most widely-heard musicians and has racked up an impressive session resume playing on albums by Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Rosanne Cash, Joe Cocker, and Ronnie Spector. During his Letterman years, Fig recorded or performed live with such legends as James Brown, Eric Clapton, Miles Davis, and B.B. King. As a freelance drummer, he has played with Paul Simon and also in the house band for Bob Dylan’s historic 30th Anniversary concert celebration.

I wish you could have heard him play tonight. I have never heard anyone play drums like him. Believe me; I have known the best such as Chico Hamilton. It was thrilling to hear Anton’s versatility and power. The rhythms were extraordinary and carried me away.

Michael Rhodes is a bassist. Some of the musicians he’s played with include Mark Knopfler, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Elton John, Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, and even the hottest star in the entire music industry, Taylor Swift. Rhodes is a fantastic bassist and played like a jam session with Bonamassa.

Lee Thornburg is a trumpeter. You can hear Thornburg’s past work with Bonamassa on four of his #1 Billboard releases, including Live at the Royal Albert Hall, the Grammy-Nominated album Seesaw with Beth Hart, Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks, and Live at Radio City Music Hall.

Paulie Cerra is a versatile and dynamic Saxophone player. He has played with Stevie Wonder, Kirk Franklin, Lucky Peterson, Luther Allison, Little Milton, Bobby Bland, Billy Preston and Jimmy Johnson. Cerra joined Joe’s band earlier this year and you can hear him on the #1 Billboard Blues release Live at Radio City Music Hall.

These musicians are the world’s best. The music lifted me up and beyond an earthly experience. I felt like I ascended to the cosmos. I thought of old friends who had already walked on and those who I used to play with in my twenties, and the gay times we had when we were young and reckless.

I remembered Michael R., and it felt like I was dancing with him again at Michael’s. Back then, we were in our 20s. Michael was a system design engineer, and I was a clerical training instructor for Digital Equipment Corporation in Maynard, MA. Sadly, Michael, at 61 years old, died Friday, April 24, 2009, at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Massachusetts.

I am so glad there is life beyond this planet, and we can still dance in the stars for time immortal. Energy never dies. It changes and that is OK. Our minds are a wonderful thing and if we hang on to great memories, we are blessed.

In this natural high state, I felt like I was among friends around a campfire and we danced. I remember having a shawl on. Mind you; I lost my shawl tonight. I must have got distracted when I came out of the Gideon Putnam and saw all the fire trucks. The door man, asked me if I was looking for a cab? I said yes, and he escorted me to the waiting cab. I must have lost my shawl in the confusion in front of the historical hotel.

The driver Fred was such a gentleman. He is a gambler and likes the horses and cards. I told him about my time with Henry who knew the horses because he worked with them for 30 years. In 2014, Henry and I bet on American Pharoah and we won the Triple Crown. After the race in Saratoga Springs, when American Pharoah lost, Henry passed away. I went down to the garden where the waterfall is and cried like a baby. I liked Henry and he gave me a thrill by teaching me about racing. Then I lost my thrill. I had to find something else that gave me a high so I started learning about the Stock Market with Jim Cramer. I study it daily with Mad Money. So far I am doing OK. I know it could change in a blink. That is why I study it daily.

At the concert, while I was in a natural high, In my imagination, I saw my friend Sandy S. She is precious to me, and it made me tear up realizing how much I miss her. I miss the ceremonies we used to perform. We used to dance around in a circle and chant the Water Ceremony song Nibi Wabo. These times were sacred and oh how I miss them. Time is moving so fast. I feel like a space traveler.

Listen to Joe at
You Better Watch Yourself. Love this blues. Blow me away! I am wild about the keyboarder Arlan Oscar Schierbaum, although he didn’t play tonight. This piece Dislocated Boy reminds me of Michael more than any other.

I miss my blazing fire pit at my former home in Minong, WI. How I loved those times. Seeing the lightning bugs and listening to the night critters and the tree frogs. The wolves used to yap and yell, and I loved it. I miss my wild country. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t make her a total city girl. My wild side still calls, and Joe called it up again tonight.

I normally don’t write about events like this, but this was such an alive moment for me. Just as a final note. I grieved for Michael for several days and felt his presence close, and He has walked on now.

Cannabis sativa

Hemp  The following hopefully will clear up any confusion about Cannabis sativa from Hemp and its medical uses. I am an herbalist and not a medically trained person. I am speaking from my own experience and truth.

Cannabis sativa from Hemp is not to be confused with Cannabis sativa from Marijuana. The Cannabis sativa from the hemp plant contains cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabis sativa from Marijuana also has the same molecular compounds. CBD from Hemp is a natural pain reliever and legal to use. In February 2014, President Obama signed the Farm Bill which has a special amendment to legalize the production of Industrial Hemp in the United States. Learn more at

The US Government rushed to patent Hemp (Patent # 6,630,507).
According to the Patent Office at

Marijuana proponents allege that the U.S. government is exhibiting hypocrisy by owning a cannabis-related patent while also denying marijuana’s rescheduling. (Denver Post file)

Abstract: Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties [and neuroprotectants], unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH.sub.3, and COCH.sub.3. ##STR1##

Other sources such as Edens Garden state that Cannabis sativa helps relieve fibromyalgia, joint pain, and other ailments.

According to the National Cancer Institute, cannabinoids activate specific receptors throughout the body to produce a drug-like effect, specifically in the nervous and immune systems. Although more research is needed to conclude the effects of CBD, it may relieve pain, lower inflammation and decrease anxiety without the psychotropic effects of THC, as reported by the National Cancer Institute.

Currently, the institute is studying the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids for the relief of nausea, pain, anxiety, and loss of appetite. Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by blocking cell growth. Other possible effects of cannabinoids include antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity, and relieving muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis. But despite promising results, more research is needed to verify the possibilities.


Cannabis Essential Oil: To be diluted into a carrier oil, Cannabis Essential Oil is produced by the steam distillation of the cannabis flower. The active components are myrcene and beta-caryophyllene, which are packed with anti-inflammatory properties.

CBD: Extracted from the Hemp Plant, Cannabidiol is a potent phytocannabinoid that is non-psychoactive.

Hemp Seed Carrier Oil: Rich in vitamins and antioxidant properties, Hemp Seed Oil is produced through a cold pressed method. The oil is pale to golden yellow at

Benefits+of+Hemp I mixed a bottle of Edens Garden Cannabis sativa essential oil (5 ml) at with a bottle of Hemp Carrier Oil (100 ml) and used topically. This enriched oil is rubbed on sore hips, knees, and pain centered locations. It takes the edge off and at least helps me to sleep without pain. I hope this will help you too.

  The Creator put all the plants on the planet. Each has their own use.
Natural medicine is better than side-effecting prescription drugs, and I believe that the plants were put on this Earth for us to use, “Physician heal thyself.”


Early morning
the sun is out
the field is fresh green after a rain
are there dandelion flowers?
did the bunny eat the leaves?
a young bunny is ever so still
I became still also
I start to quietly chant
in love with the little creature.





Memories Submerged in a Poem

by Mary Ellen Ryall

My grandmother, Ann Veronica Sullivan, was a live-in housekeeper and cook to Margaret and Josephine Harrington, retired high school teachers. Josephine had been the principal, and Margaret taught English. In 1956, I was in the eighth grade and attended St. Peter’s Academy, on Broadway, in Saratoga Springs, New York. The Catholic school was near Gram’s house at 21 Whitney Place. I could walk there at lunch time, and I used to go to Gram’s frequently from home too.

One winter day, I scampered up the steep back stairs to visit Margaret. She was silently sitting at a card table looking out the bay window. I glanced outside too. She was reverently in thought as she gazed at the newly fallen snow that blanketed the branches of an old spruce tree. The setting was both peaceful and calming, and then Margaret began to recite the first lines of The First Snowfall by James Russell Lowell, 1819 – 1891.

Every pine, and fir, and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an Earl
And the poorest twig on the Elm tree
was ridged inch deep with pearl.

The poem of the snow and a recent snow storm suggested that sweet time, at the beloved 1891 Victorian home, at 21 Whitney Place. The large front parlor had a marble-topped table that proudly displayed a clock that chimed, and I fell into a meditative mood just hearing the soothing tones. The house was silent with Persian rugs. The back parlor included a wall lined bookcase that housed books that my sister and I could borrow. What a privilege. The rooms were elegant to a young person who had nothing. There was no fancy furniture at my house. My parent’s bedroom had tacky nylon patterned curtains. They looked cheap. My small bedroom was painted red, loud, and uninviting. There was no privacy to speak of because the room was off the kitchen. A lot of yelling went on in the kitchen. Most family events happened around the kitchen table from early morning until night.

Gram’s house was such a joy to a young girl. The home was beautiful, and a safe place to come home to, and I was always welcome here. My home, on the other hand, was a garage apartment on Madison Street. I can’t remember one happy time there. The house was uninviting with a deep, dark, and steep stairway. At the top of the stairs was a door with a glass window and a sheer curtain, the only light that was inviting came from the kitchen. I never knew what to expect when I opened the kitchen door.

Would my mother be sitting at the kitchen table intoxicated or sober? I dreaded finding her half unconscious with a lit cigarette in her hand. I didn’t know what it was like to feel a mother’s love. Mothering felt like a betrayal to me. I couldn’t trust my mom because she was always covering up and lying to me, a child with a broken heart. She would tell me if I cleaned the house, I could go swimming with the Lenahan’s. I would clean the house, but she would always find something that was not to her liking, and at the
last moment, she would yank the swimming privilege away. It felt like bribery to me.

My sister and I cleaned our home because we wanted dad to come home to a well-maintained home. Even though I was a child, I acted like an adult. My sister and I made a game of housecleaning and sang as we worked. The weekdays seemed terribly stretched out, and I would count the days till the weekend. I was happy on Friday. Sometimes, I would excitedly wait to watch my dad drive down Madison Street in the blue and white Chevy with the tail fins. I would run home to greet him as he got out of the car. My mother was usually dressed up on Friday and sober. The deceit continued.

At the Harrington’s, I knew what to expect. The sisters lived upstairs. Margaret was petite, had a stooped back, and milky blue eyes. She took care of her sister Josephine, who was bedridden because of a stroke, which paralyzed her. Margaret was a gentle soul and never complained about being a companion to her sister. Just before noon, cautiously and slowly, Margaret climbed down the steep back stairs, holding on ever so carefully to the hand rail. She took her main meal in the sunny yellow kitchen promptly at noon. Gram and Margaret sat at the small kitchen table under an old chiming wall clock. I loved to hear the pendulum swinging and the clock chime on the hour and half hour. I sat at a side table when I joined them.

Margaret was kind to me. She was always happy to see me. I liked to spend time with her because she always had something interesting to say. We would talk about flowers, trees, and poetry. One expression, “Never a dull moment,” didn’t make sense to a 13-year-old girl, but I understand the words now and even use the phrase on occasion. Another time, she showed me a photo of a much younger Margaret and a young man. The young man was wearing a suit and hat. He stood solemnly next to Margaret. She was dressed up in a lovely white dress that went to the ankles. The setting was in Congress Park. Margaret mentioned spooning, but I didn’t know what the word meant back then.

The Victorian home was always pristine and perfectly arranged with furniture settings. The muted silk Damask light green Victorian carved couch was against the wall, and embroidered smaller chairs made up a sitting area. No one used the downstairs rooms. Gram cooked on an old black stove that used coal. The delicious smells that radiated from the kitchen made my mouth water. Gram made the best cakes and pies from scratch. I was often hungry when I arrived there. My grandmother was a professional cook.

After several years of service, the house became too large for Gram to manage. Now that I was old enough, she hired me to come on Saturday mornings to dust and vacuum. I loved the job.  Grandmother taught me housekeeping skills. A curio cabinet in the front parlor was dear to Margaret, and at times she allowed me to dust the delicate figurines inside. Each was a gift from former students.

On dusting days, I earned a $1.00 from Gram. Then I would go upstairs and receive another $1.00 from Margaret. She would take a book from the bookshelf, open a page, and pull out a crisp dollar bill. My gram and I were not the only workers. There was also a yard man who took care of the property and the outside of the house.

At the time, the Harrington’s house was painted yellow with brown trim. Gram always had time for me, even if she was washing dishes, she paid attention to me. I would chatter away about classes at St. Peter’s or about a school dance that my friend Susan and I attended on Saturday evenings. Gram would smile at me as she worked. Meanwhile, I dried the dishes, bowls, and platters, and put them away in the China pantry. The contrast between Gram and my mother was something. Mom led her chaotic life, and I didn’t find nurturing there.

Gram’s house, this is what we called it; I felt safe, it was a haven to a young girl. Gram was also safe here. Work kept her sober. When she occasionally came to visit my mother or babysit us, kids, she too would drink beer and become someone else. I remember my brother Billy and I would hide the beer bottles in the dryer. One time, we put soap suds in a bottle of beer. Gram became furious with us. We ran away and hid until it was safe to return. By then, Gram was intoxicated and drowsy. It was heartbreaking to witness. I separated her into two people. One who was sober and this was the Gram I loved and prayed for. The other was a person I did not even recognize. It was such a contrast.

At the Harrington’s, after awhile, I started to join my grandmother at the table once reserved for Margaret. It was then I realized that Margaret wasn’t coming down the back stairs anymore. Shortly after that, I started carrying a tray of food upstairs. Like Margaret would say, “Never a dull moment.” Maybe the steps became too much for her. I felt confident that I was a help to my Grandmother with the

I would drag the monstrous vacuum cleaner down the front stairs as I vacuumed the carpeted stairs and the rooms downstairs. I also dusted the furniture. It wasn’t long before I started reading The Saratogian to Margaret, her eyes were getting bad. A teacher who could no longer read was a hardship. I remember I wasn’t a confident reader and Margaret didn’t make a fuss about it. At times, she would pronounce the words for me. I never learned phonetics. I
had to use memory.

On days when I visited my grandmother, she would hint, “Go up and see Margaret.” As a young person, I didn’t realize what a visit would mean to Margaret. My sister and I were the only outside visitors, with two exceptions. Margaret’s niece, from Ballston Spa, came each week to do the banking. Her cousin, Ed Sullivan came to visit his aunts when he was in town during the racing season. Mr. Sullivan was a mystery to me. Margaret and Gram would watch the Sunday TV broadcast, The Ed Sullivan Show, faithfully. I never met him, but quietly my grandmother would tell me after he came and visited his aunts. There are many mysteries when one is growing up.

My father bought a gentleman’s farm when I was a senior. Whisked away to the country for my last year of high school was a hardship for someone who had a life in town. I had no friends out there, and country kids were different than in-town kids. In Saratoga Springs, I could walk everywhere. Now I was stuck without transportation begging my sister or father for a ride. There were periodic visits to 21 Whitney Place, but I missed the connection to a meaningful life with Gram and Margaret. Before I knew it, I graduated from St.
Peter’s Academy in 1963. Then my grandmother retired and joined us at the farm in Rock City Falls, New York.

I did visit Margaret after my grandmother retired. Gram told me she was in the hospital for a cataract operation. Margaret said she was afraid. She had never been in a hospital before. I tried to comfort her, old enough to understand how alone she was. Then shortly after that, my grandmother told me that Margaret died in the hospital. I could see my grandmother was upset with the news and she said, “the poor dear.” I was stunned to realize that I would never see Margaret again. It was as if a chapter of my life was over, but, our journey didn’t end here.

Margaret is always with me in a mystical way. I am 72 years old now, and a large white pine is visible from my dining area window, and I remember Margaret and the poem.

Death and Bereavement
The First Snow-Fall
James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

The snow began in the gloaming
and busily all the night
had been heaping hill and highway
with a silence deep and white.

Every pine, fir, and hemlock
wore ermine too dear for an Earl
and the poorest twig on the Elm tree
as ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new roofed with Carrara
Came Chanticleer’s muffled crow
The stiff rails were softened to swan’s down
And still muffled down the snow.

I stood and watched at the window,
The noiseless work of the sky
and the sudden flurry of snowbirds
Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
Saying, “Father, who makes it snow?”
And I told of the good All-father
Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snow-fall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o’er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.

I remember the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing, and hiding
The scar of our deep-plunged woe.

And again to the child, I whispered,
“The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall!”

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow.

Interview with Author Leona Casey Signor

Tell us something about yourself.

I am a retired registered nurse and a widow living in upstate New York.

2017-01-04 12.02.01 Author Leona Casey Signor

Please share something about your book How Did He Find Me?

When I was young, I became pregnant and had to face my family. I realized what a scandal I created for my Catholic family. Because of the family background, I received little help with my “situation.” After finding out how difficult it was to care for my infant son, I finally gave up the struggle and placed my 10-month-old baby up for adoption.

What happened when your son grew up?

My son grew up and tried to find his birth mother. We embarked on a journey together to discover each other, resulting in a new and loving relationship.

Why did you write the book?

This memoir was written as a catharsis and in the hope of helping other girls facing an unwanted pregnancy.

Book is available on Amazon at

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: