Getting to know you

Art on Main Street Fitchburg MA
Art on Main Street Fitchburg MA

A stroll down Main Street, Fitchburg, MA, took me past the art wall. I am excited about this project. Children, artists and citizens contributed art to the wall. What a better way to unite citizens in an urbanization project devoted to art and beauty. The messages of hope, love and bilingual messages are uplifting. I want to give this project some breathing room and show the positive side of multi-cultural living.

This is the new America. Phyllis, an elder of 91 years old, told me, “The city changed when industry moved out.” Gone are Sanders Associates and General Electric. What was left instead was a city without work and a changing population from Anglo to ethnic identity. To put a positive spin on the cosmopolitan community, I am studying Spanish again, at 67 years old. I want to greet people walking down the street and welcome them with Spanish greetings, their first language.  It is good to be kind to all people. What one gives away comes back a hundredfold. A typical scene yesterday: I was sitting on a bench to rest and dislodge a leaf out of my shoe. A younger male, saw me with my shoe off. He asked, “Do you need any help?” I said no but thanks. This is the community I want to see and hear. People talking to one another. I love it as you can probably tell.

Sweetest robin I have  ever seen
Sweetest robin I have ever seen


I walked over to the erratic boulder in the Massachusetts town common. At one time, boulders such as this were faces of mountain tops or bedrock throughout Massachusetts. About 25,000 years ago, a glacier heading south, dislodged the massive boulder and carried it with the ice flow. The boulder bumped and scrapped its way against other bounders, which softened sharp edges and left large gorges in the boulder. About 21,000 years ago the ice began to melt. Rollstone Boulder was carried by a glacier that came through Mt. Monadnock. For centuries it was a landmark to Native people and settlers alike. I imagine it was a sacred boulder to Native Americans. Rocks and boulders are known as Grandfathers and keepers of wisdom. This part of American history is rarely acknowledged.

Rollstone glacier boulder
Rollstone glacier boulder

The boulder was threatened by quarrying in 1929. Citizens didn’t want to see it destroyed. They blasted it apart and carried it to its present location. It weighs 110 tons. It is porphyricit granite and truly monolithic.  Every spring in May, devotees come out to plant marigolds around it in the common. This year I hope to be one of the lucky ones who honor the boulder with flowers.

First Parish
First Parish


“I was thinking of the greatness of what was human, and found myself in the divine,” by Juan Ramon Jimenez. A sign is posted on the front of First Parish Church. First Parish was founded in 1768. The 18th century church is a handsome brick building with a crisp white tower. I want to get to know First Parish because I live in a senior building, “The Sundial,” built by First Parish Housing in 1970, to celebrate First Parish’s 200th Anniversary. My building is a faith run nonprofit and a wonderful place to live. It is safe, friendly and celebrates elder years. How fortunate I am to live in the historical district of Fitchburg, with rich history all around me. First Parish is a Unitarian Universalist Church.

Source: Holmes, H. How glaciers moved rocks. National Geographic, 98-99.


Make it Possible – Imagine a world without factory farming

I made the decision to not buy grocery meat a few years ago. I have had no meat in my house since October 9, since I moved to Fitchburg, MA. Factory Farms that supply grocery stores with meat will only STOP when we stop buying meat from grocery stores.

I will buy local grown grass fed beef and free range chickens from local farmers only. I plan to shop at the Farmers Market at Fitchburg Art Museum on December 6, from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Please watch the film that could change your life forever. Once you know how animals are treated at Factory Farms, you will have a conscience to know that we have no right to be cruel to animals.  Take the pledge to stop Factory Farming. Stop Animal Cruelty forever.

Make it Possible – Imagine a world without factory farming.

Implementing a new butterfly habitat

Sunday was a family day. My niece Amelia wanted to go to the Wild Butterfly Habitat and help scatter native wildflower seed to help start a new pollinator corridor. I was happy to share plant knowledge with her. Witch Hazel grows in the habitat and I excitedly showed my niece the elusive plant.

I explained that it was astringent and good for the skin. Amelia said, “Good because I have a pimple.” We picked a twig with tiny flowers. When we retired home, I boiled up water and ran the boiled water over the cut twig that exposed the inner bark where medicine is stored. It smelled good. After it cooled, we dipped our hands in the  water and splashed it all over our faces.

Amelia noticed that the water made her face dry. It would – it is an astringent.

Veterans Writing Project

Let’s do something good. Thinking beyond ourselves can lead one to a purpose driven life.

Check it out. I loved honoring my husband today at the Veterans Day Ceremony at O’Neill Hall, Fitchburg Armory, Fitchburg, MA.

Veterans Writing Project.

Saratoga Springs New York then and now

For the past 27 years, I have been estranged from my home town, home to my genealogy:  Great-Great Grandfather William Ryall, my Great Grandfather William Ryall, Grandfather James Ryall, My father William Alfred Ryall and mother Mary Rose Sullivan and our family of four children. My parents are gone now and like the prodigal son, I went full circle to the place of my birth and first 18 years of my life. I returned to memories, my heart, preservation, elegance, tradition and beauty. Saratoga Springs is a crown jewel in the league of fame and fortune.

Oran2-S.V_1 by Regis Brodie
Oran2-S.V_1 by Regis Brodie

My cousin Jim and wife Stephanie gave me two stunning pieces of pottery. One was made by my Aunt Pat. She has had a brilliant pottery and ceramic career over the years. She studied under Regis Brodie who permitted her to work on her craft in his art studio at Skidmore College. Matter of fact, he encouraged her to come.

The piece I have is a blue bowl that was crafted by using my Great Aunt Sarah and Mary’s doilies of intricate pineapple shapes. Aunt Pat stated that she made a paste like dough that she pressed the doily on.. Then she rolled the shape out to a flat sheet, which was somehow incorporated into the pottery. I feel like I have a intricate art piece that has my own family’s history in it. I  Sarah and Mary Renolds, my great aunts, were outstanding seamstresses, who at one time worked in the garment district of New York City. You can learn about Regis Brodie, the other famous potter at

Sunday morning, Jimmy and I watched as hundreds of Canada geese flew over North Broadway in the biggest migration formation I have ever seen in my life. Later in the day, my sister, her husband and I saw thousands of Canada geese resting in the large reservoir. Jimmy lives on land that goes right to the edge of the pristine reservoir.  It is gorgeous to see beautiful water and forest, which was carpeted in oak leaves and a sporadic bright green ground-cover. To hear the sound of thunderous wings fluttering and geese honking, was to witness the power sounds of nature’s force in action. On reflection, it was a wonderful prayer I was honored to see and hear.

Sunday walk in the woods

Lots to do out here at Winter Hill Farm, Fitchburg, MA. Today I walked over to the an area that has wild grape vines draping the trees and cascading over prickly forbidding wild rose plants. The roses are invasive and have made it difficult to harvest the grapes.

Today I took pruners and began to cut them out and discard the thorny pests into a pile. Many of the stems wanted to cling to me. They cut through my woolen shirt and tore at my jeans. No they didn’t like being moved to a waste pile and they let me know. I only was able to clear a small area. I will return again and again to cut away the thorny dominant community. The wild grapes will then be accessible  hanging like a tarp over the trees. I can envision how lovely it is going to look, as early as next year, if I am persistent in this endeavor.

My sister wanted to take me back to the wetlands and show me a special area that is dear to her heart. It is an enchanted wetlands. I saw where she marked wild azaleas. Ronnie said, “It is so beautiful out here when they are in bloom, just like a fairyland.”

Later I walked back to the house by another route so I could possibly come to know how witch hazel (Hamamelis Virginia, Linn.) smelled. I never did have the privilege of knowing the scent, it eluded me. Recently somewhere I read about how one could sit in the woods in frosty November (we aren’t really there yet) and listen to the witch hazel fling its seeds, just like a sling shot. It is interesting that I found the information in a book, “Trees Worth Knowing,” by Julie E.Rogers, published in 1922. Ed, an elder in Minong, WI, presented the book to me one day. He told me that his mother-in-law had all kinds of plant books. He was happy to pass it on. The book binding is falling apart, but is interesting with its colorful language. “The witch hazel thicket is veiled with these gold-mesh flowers, as ethereal as the haunting perfume which they exhale.”

elusive witch hazel
elusive witch hazel

It is a November flower that has stubborn brown leaves clinging  to twigs. How odd it is. I picked a few stems and am drying it. Not sure if it will work or not.

Years ago my husband (d. 2010) would walk across the Mall in Washington, DC, stopping in the herb garden, next to the Smithsonian castle,where I would meet him after work. He told me how much he loved the scent of this elusive plant. This is the reason I am  tracking the scent. I wish I could have this experience so I would know what he experienced. Perhaps it was an experience meant just for him.

The plant is a species of elm. There are people who supposedly know how to use the forked twigs to locate water. The twigs have astringent properties and is sold in pharmacies for topical use.

Thanks for joining me today for a Sunday walk in the woods.

Be well insectamonarca where ever you are.