A Perfect August Day

7 AM – It is August in Saratoga Springs, New York. The morning saw three seniors up and out the door for the Saratoga Race Course Clubhouse for Breakfast on the Porch. Go Go Grandparent was engaged to take us to the track via Lyft or Uber. Arriving at the Track’s front gate, on Union Avenue, we had to walk through the whole property to the Clubhouse. Three elders with walking challenges. I wanted to hail an employee golf cart to rescue us, but the drivers were oblivious to a visitor’s discomfort level ane never stopped to ask if we needed help. After all they were hired to do their job.

The front row, nearest the track and under an awning, was a perfect setting to view the horses as they got their morning workouts. The buffet breakfast was terrific. A chef stopped to say the Quish was special today and made with feta cheese, spinach, and more. He was proud of his creation and wanted us to try it.

When we returned home, I turned around and headed back out the door for the Saratoga Senior Center. After I sent an Ojibwe hand carved walking stick to my niece, I stopped at New York Pizza for lunch on the go. Cliff’s Vegetables had a table set up in front of the Senior center, I bought home grown beautiful tomatoes, lettuce, garlic, red onion, and burgundy lettuce.

Walking into the Senior Center I heard wonderful music playing. The group was the Hot Club of Saratoga. The music was swing from the 1930s in Paris. What a unique sound. Listen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1Kp2mfGX0k One couldn’t help but move to the rhythm.

To top off the day, Embury Apartments at Wesley Retirement Community had a summer Ice Cream Social with music. All I can say is only in Saratoga. I am reminded of a book , Lord, Please Don’t Take Me in August: African Americans in Newport and Saratoga Springs, 1870-1930. Book by Myra Beth Young Armstead

Pollinator Talk on Bees at Saratoga Springs Community Garden

Sunday, June 2, 2019, Wesley Retirement Community.
Published at: https://butterflywomanpublishing.weebly.com/

Photo: Community Garden  Carpenter bee, common eastern bumblebee, Mary Ellen Ryall, Mason bee, Perdita bee, Squash bee, Susan Philbin, Tri- color bumblebee 

The Saratoga Springs Community Garden located on a 36-acre campus, hosted a bee themed party for gardeners. Mary Ellen Ryall, an environmental educator, spoke on the variety of bees that frequent the garden in Upstate New York. Susan Philbin, a garden organizer, and volunteer arranged the garden event.

The concern is that worldwide pollinating bees are disappearing for several reasons. As many of us know, pesticides kill pollinators. With growth and development, loss of the natural world, corporate farms, fresh water sources disappearing, woodlands being clearcut for building and construction, and overpopulation on top of everything else is having a damaging effect on pollinators. Ryall spoke about the benefit of a community that grows its local food. By using organic gardening methods and planting native flowers to attract pollinators, the Wesley Retirement Community can keep a sustainable landscape.

Ryall introduced the attendees to local bees. The tiniest bee in the world is the Perdita bee, also known as “lost one.” The Perdita is only 2-10 mm and can only fly a short distance. Usually, the Perdita makes its home in the garden soil around a plant it favors. One attendee thought the tiny bee was a sweat bee, but a sweat bee has a green head on a small body. To learn more about Perdita bees, visit Bug Guide at http://bugguide.net/node/view/52624

The bumblebee is one of the most common. Photo: Chi bees in Saratoga Springs, New York, but native bees are in decline. Two species of native bees imperiled on the Red List: Rusty patch bumble bee and the Yellow-banded bumble bee in New York. The Franklin bumble bee is already extinct. One of the prettiest bumbles is the tri-color bumble bee (Bombus ternarius). The photo shows the bumble obtaining nectar from a goldenrod plant. We should mourn when a species is lost, the way the world is going what species is next? It is imperative that we protect pollinators from all the dangers that are killing them. To learn more visit https://xerces.org/pollinator-redlist/.

Buzzing bumble bees are best at pollinating tomato, potato, and other plants in the nightshade family. The bee attaches its jaw to a flower and vibrates its wings to release pollen — source: The Washington Post, Bumblebee decline.

Did you know that flowers can sense buzzing bees? National Geographic came out with a story in 2019 by scientific researcher Lilach Hadany. A flower that hears a buzzing bee will increase its sugar from 12-17 percent to encourage the bumblebee to visit the flower. Learn more at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/01/flowers-can-hear-bees-and-make-their-nectar-sweeter/

The solitary Mason bee lives in tree holes. A perfect bee house is a bamboo stem. Photo: Mason bee house made from bamboo stems and an old hose. Another bamboo house is near the Wesley woodlands. We want to encourage bees at a distance to come and visit our gardens.

The native squash has its very own specialized bumblebee.

Keep your family healthy, plant an organic garden, and invite pollinators to be your friend. They perform a remarkable service and all for free.


Refashioning Saratoga: Planning Stages

I am excited to begin research on historical fashions. My great aunts Mary and Sarah were knowledgeable seamstresses from 1897 to the 1950s. They both worked in NYC and Sarah had a history at the once famous Grand Union hotel in Saratoga Springs. I plan to meet with Caitlin Sheldon soon and hopefully learn more about the research materials I need to look at. Can’t wait to see her Victorian Dress presentation at Saratoga Public Library on October 24 at Noon.

Visit fancymiscellany.wordpress.com to see Caitlin Sheldon’s marvelous recreations of Victorian Fashions

Grimm Fairy Tales — Fabulous Realms


Several years ago I did an interview with Nick Vanderpuy. It appears that nothing has changed in the larger society to correct the way in which food is grown or the way animals are kept. Listen to the interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6X-uCP_1c0

Monarch butterfly copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Northern Catalpa

One day while looking out the window, I noticed large white particles falling to the ground. They looked like snow or popcorn and in the middle of summer. I went outside to investigate and saw that they were flowers from the Northern Catalpa Tree. I usually paid attention to the long beans that hung from the tree in the fall and called her the bean tree. I loved seeing the flourishing tree this year and thought you might enjoy a short video of the tree and blooms.

The catalpa tree is found in forests from southern Illinois and Indiana to western Tennessee and Arkansas. First cultivated in 1754, the wood was used for fence posts and railroad ties because of its resistance to rot and the tree’s fast growth rate. Do not attempt to eat any part of the tree. I am always looking at wild edibles to add to my diet either as medicine or food. Just admire the plant as a gorgeous ornamental.

Here is a link to viewing the video on Northern Catalpa on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/maryellen.ryall

To learn more visit: https://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/TreeDetail.cfm?ItemID=805

Blooms of Northern Catalpa

Featured in Shutterbug online! — Cindy Dyer’s Blog

I am delighted to share Cindy Dyer’s photography and article with you. Cindy has helped me with book covers, art layout, and publishing of several books, newsletters, and magazines. Her photography is something to shout about.

Visit at https://www.shutterbug.com/content/always-carry-your-camera-how-botanical-photographer-captured-beautiful-butterfly-image?fbclid=IwAR0TfNkq2ONHATpLqP67xM4hPJ85MAU5nwloNROIRsi_Vk6GPp2-PI9RBxA#C7zuRYw47WWzf5tT.01

Long Hot Holiday

The holiday has been unbearably hot. I have stayed indoors for most of it. With good books to read and thoughts of blogging, I can make a quiet time fun.

Take a refreshing break in the cool of the shade and enjoy a short video of a meadow with milkweed and the chirps of the birds at https://www.amazon.com/photos/shared/OwUiklX0RTyBSfpYtpAKkA.0V3N1QKcKFkex0YqSY_tth/gallery/EqKurVL8Osq3Cb-YxLwXZQ

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Wind chimes at my private wild butterfly habitation Fitchburg, MA

American Toad in my Garden

One bright day in May, I was at my pollinator garden at the edge of the woods. There in the ground covered leaves was an American Toad. The toad adjusted to my being there and didn’t jump away. I filled a shallow plant saucer with water. An empty clay pot turned upside down, with a large stone placed on one edge, would allow the amphibian to enter as it pleased.

Nearby, in the shade of staghorn sumac, I sat in an aluminum chair and listened to the gentle wind chimes. The toad kept me company and climbed up a large boulder to take the sun. I felt that we were quite a team. The ritual continued for several days until the toad made its way somewhere else. I miss you, my little friend. Do you think of me?

Beetle and Butterfly Pollinator Talk at Saratoga Community Garden

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Speaker Mary Ellen Ryall, Environmental Educator
Saratoga Community Garden at Wesley Retirement Community


Fossil records show that beetles were abundant during the Mesozoic meh·suh·zow·uhk period (about 200 million years before present). Beetles were flower visitors of the earliest angiosperms such as Magnolia and rose. Source: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/beetles.shtml

Beetle pollinators are attracted to flowers by the bright orange color. The beetles not only pollinate the flowers, but they mate while inside the flowers. A mutant version of the plant with red flowers becomes more common with the passage of time. A particular variant of the beetle prefers the red flowers to the orange flowers. Over time, these two beetle variants diverge from each other to such an extent that interbreeding is no longer possible. What kind of speciation has occurred in this example, and what has driven it? Sympatric speciation, habitat differentiation.

Source: https://www.coursehero.com/file/p52khgvh/Beetle-pollinators-of-a-particular-plant-are-attracted-to-its-flowers-by-their/

Ladybug is the official State Insect of Massachusetts

The ladybug was adopted as the official state insect or insect emblem of Massachusetts in 1974 (thanks to a campaign that began with a second-grade class in the town of Franklin). Because this insect benefits agriculture and delights children everywhere, Ohio, New York, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Delaware also designate the ladybug as an official state symbol.

A ladybug can consume up to 60 aphids per day, and will also eat a variety of other harmful insects and larvae (including scales, mealybugs, leafhoppers, mites, and different types of soft-bodied insects), as well as pollen and nectar.

Also called lady beetle, ladybird, or lady fly, the most common variety of ladybug found in Massachusetts is the two-spotted lady beetle (Adalia bipunctata).

Sources: https://statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/massachusetts/state-insect/ladybug

Save the New York nine-spotted Ladybug

The nine-spotted Ladybug of New York is also in decline at https://statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/new-york/state-insect/nine-spotted-ladybug

Puerto Rican Insects are declining.

The date includes pollinators. 2 degrees Celcius has already impacted 60 percent of the insect animal pollinators. If it happens in the tropics, think what is happening here. How many bees and butterflies have you seen of late?



Some common butterflies that you will find in the New York State area include Cabbage White, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Monarch, and Pearl Cresent and Painted Lady.

Pearl Cresent:

Host plant for Pearl Cresent: Several species of smooth-leaved true asters such as New England Aster. The species overwinters in the third instar caterpillar stage.

This spring, May 2, the Pearl Cresent was here when the lilacs bloomed. The butterflies look for native plants as the host plant, including the New England Aster, to reproduce and to obtain nectar. I didn’t see any asters because it was early. Lilac is not native, but first, which usually happens before native plants are out and flourishing. There are two broods, one in May and the other in August. Source: https://libguides.nybg.org/c.php?g=654973&p=4597781

Cabbage White:

Cabbage white butterfly: Reproduces on Brasilia plants such as cabbage, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts. Yesterday, I saw the Cabbage white butterfly in someone’s garden plot. The butterfly was laying eggs between the leaves of a Brasilia plant. Check the leaves and lightly wash the plant leaves gently with soap and water, and gently hose down afterward.

Painted Lady and the Monarch Butterfly

Summer 2018 – The Saratoga Community Garden was abundant with Painted Lady. The butterfly, along with the Monarch butterfly arrived around the same time. It was migration time toward the end of August.

The Painted lady overwinters in the southern United States. The Monarch journies back home to the Oyamel fir forest in Mexico. Last year both species were drawn to the brightly colored zinnia flowers. The Monarch butterflies flew right to the red zinnia, which they can see.

Monarch Butterfly Update.

The butterfly has seen a significant rise in the winter species surviving the winter. It is estimated that over 100,000 Monarchs are on their way back up north. With the winter habitat down t less than 20 acres, it is remarkable that the Monarch can still turn around their 10 percent survival rate, at least at the moment. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife are watching the numbers to determine if the Monarch is now an endangered species.

Update: Endangered Species List
What’s next
May 24, 2019
Listing decision deadline extended
December 15, 2020
Listing decision is due

Video of meadow for pollinators

Visited a yard meadow created two years ago that is offering life to native plants, pollinators, and birds at https://www.amazon.com/photos/shared/rZQ0WjaJQZqJo7rl2cSUkw.dF5ocdDBtMfGjeXdY9vqU-

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