Angels walk among us

I was thinking of the greatness of what was human, and found myself in the divine by Juan Ramon Jimenez at

nikkiparks17 November 2013 – I actually saw this in action. Nikki Parks recently completed a Master’s Degree in education to only find out that she has a continuing struggle ahead  with brain tumor cancer. She is a beautiful young woman, quite and unassuming. So poised and looking at her mother, a reflection of her own heart shined.

devotedfriendsNikki has two good friends, although I regret  I do not know their names.  They have stood sentry over their friend, like angel wings surrounding her. I see a bit of angel in Nikki also. There is a light about her as she lives each moment to be the best moment ever. Surely she showed her friends and family tonight just how truly blessed she is.

MAYORlISAwONGMayor Lisa Wang, Irene Hermandez, and son Nino were there. I was honored to attend the fundraiser for Parks and share in Love and Caring for Nikki Parks. A lovely group of people came to Destare to celebrate Nikki’s life and success. Parks left the audience with an important message on a central theme, live your dream. Matter the challenge, live your vision.

Nikki is an inspiration to her family and friends. As one of them suggested, Nikki kept on going in spite of Cancer. When other people might have given up or simply worked away from their dream, Nikki found a reason to get up and participate n life each day and accept it as life unfolds.

I have not had many heroes in my life, but this week I was touched by an angel. sharingandcaring


Joyful, Joyful We Sing

111713 00317 November 2013 – It was a music filled afternoon with The Gardner Choral Chamber Choir.  The program was presented at First Parish UU, 923 Main Street, Fitchburg, MA, as part of the Monthly Cultural Series. Musicians honored us with good cheer and marvelous song including works by Helvy, Rutter, Bernon, Walker, and others.

111713 006There are also a few professionals in the group and their voices were suburb.  Diane Cushing, director and singer, had an extraordinary range. It was thrilling to hear her waves of musical ability.

111713 011Don Miller, bass soloist, brought something deep and rich to the mix of blended voices.

One song was about a Rabbi. He taught the people of his village three words: Justice, Truth, and Peace. Where justice is done, truth is said, and peace shall come. The program was versatile and catchy. Some sacred,holiday, love, and some pieces were sung in the round. It was a joyful time.


When I was young, I used to sing, and I had a good voice then. I sang on TV, did weekly radio programs, as a folk singer in a folk group with my sister [she has given me strict instructions not to use her name] and a sweet young man named Bruce Harrington. Bruce walked on early in life. He did go to California, as a performer, and lived his dream in Venus. I performed in plays and in a choral group, at St. Dominic’s Church, in Washington, DC, with my friend Deneen Stambone. I lived in the world of music both in singing and dancing. Now I have lost my voice since I have a degenerative respiratory ailment. I was thinking about this today as I listened to this wonderful group of happy singers.  I don’t even remember what my voice sounded like, but I remember how joyful it was to sing. My grandmother always told me, “Nothing lasts forever.” Back then, I could paint pictures with my voice. Now I paint pictures with words. I couldn’t write then or at least I didn’t believe I could. It took years of experience, training, and encouragement to build self esteem.

The Greater Gardner Chamber Choir will perform with the Thayer Conservatory Orchestra at Fitchurg State University on December 7th.

Join us for the December Cultural Series: December 15 at 2 pm – Oneness Blessing. A meditative and peaceful journey through sound.

Poem reaches out from the past

My lifelong friend Ruthie Masetta-Hillman sent me a poem that I wrote back in high school. I didn’t realize that I was already introspective then and curiosity led me to follow a unique path in life that questioned realities of Third World, First World, World Cultures and Ethnobotany in Latin America and North America.

Yes, I wrote a poem and here it is:

The feeling is mutual,

I know because I asked.

Have you wondered about old age?

How long will it last?

Will I have as many friends

as in my youth, when I was spree,

Or will I be alone,

with only me.

Will my family stay by me,

until the day I die,

or will they forget me

and let their lives walk on by.

I only hope, I only pray

when life ages my way

that my loved ones will remain with me,

until my dying day.

I recently saw an old movie of Percy Bysshe Shelly and his friends. A verse struck me when he said, “We will never row in the same boat again.” I literally saw and felt the awfulness of perhaps leaving the Earth and never seeing our loved ones again. I have to hope that I will see them, husband, Tia my dog, and our three cats Dulce, Sombra and Baby. I miss them terribly and look to be united again. What death doesn’t teach you. It is final and there is nothing more one can do to bring them back, outside of meditation and connectiveness in heart, thought, and listening to whispered nuggets on the wind as if sent from somewhere beyond. To learn more about Shelly, visit

Often I took life for granted and that includes my husband. If I had only realized that his intelligence and science exploration asked big questions, which I would never hear pondered again. He was brilliant. I was the chatter box. He the thinker.

I have had two dreams of afterlife also that give me hope. Someday I will jot them down for Insectamonarca friends. Image

poet Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Do you like this poet?

“Shelley, born the heir to rich estates and the son of an Member of Parliament, went to University College, Oxford in 1810, but in March of the following year he and a friend, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, were both expelled for the suspected authorship of a pamphlet entitled The Necessity of Atheism.”

Deja vu

A few weeks ago, after the oak leaves had fallen from the trees, I was walking in Lowe Park, across the street from where I presently live. I was drawn to an  old stone wall that I only saw for the first time that day. Memories of children playing in bands came to mind and I remembered that kids used to practice out in the park next to BF Brown School, back then, it was operational.  I remembered.

I had seen this wall before, but from the road above. Could this be the street I lived on for ever so brief a time? I had family in Fitchburg. My husband and I were dirt poor because I left my job and we relocated to the East Coast in 1980. I really didn’t realize that we were even in a recession because I had a job working with a faith-based group in San Francisco. The recession was terrible in CA for my intended because he couldn’t land a job.

Before I knew it, on a family recommendation, I paid for two airline tickets and we flew to Boston. Once we landed, we found out that Digital Equipment Company had just started to lay people off. I was flabbergasted because I moved us back east for my partner to work for them. I had good references with the company because I worked for them in the 1960s and early 1970s. You can imagine my shock and dismay when my brother-in-law, picked us up at the airport and told me. I had an anxiety and panic attack right then. All of a sudden, I realized I had put us both in harm’s way and there was no way to undo it now.

These were the most difficult years of my life. We needed a vehicle and again I paid for a used car. Then we were without shelter for a few weeks, camping just like all the other homeless. It was horrible not having a room over our heads. Luckily my husband was offered two positions in New Hampshire fairly quickly and we were able to feel like a respite had arrived.

While in Fitchurg, we moved into this old Victorian and frankly I can’t even remember the name of the street. I will go back and take photos and look at street sign. The house was yellow then and it still is. I did have some happy times in that old home but I was pretty comatose from the trauma of being homeless, jobless, and so far down on the financial totem pole now. I felt like I might not ever make a comeback.

Then the Creator opened doors for us. It really was a miracle. We moved to Manchester, NH, within a month I think. Then life began again but that is another story, which is part of a working manuscript so I will leave that for later.

The point is I am settled in Fitchburg for one year now and am reconnecting the dots to my past experience. What a world of difference now. I am financially secure, thanks to my husband and my corporate years. Will passed on in 2010. I thanked him this morning as I remembered what he has given me in life and beyond. How grateful I am for having a beautiful life that he was able to provide because of his Federal career and military background. Cream always rises to the top and we did.

I am grateful this morning and going to light a candle in remembrance.

Noah! The Movie Trailer is here!

I can’t wait to see Noah! So often I feel like him. Everywhere I go lately people talk about the deteriorating world and what is coming. I live locally and grow food and pollinator habitats and teach others how to survive by being able to feed ourselves. “Feed Your Own First.” If we learn how to grow native plants for pollinators and feed them, pollinators will be able to regenerate and pollinate food crops. We are all connected in the Web of Life.

We need to protect the natural world if human kind is going to survive. Live locally. I stopped driving a car. I walk or take public transportation. NOAH! Is a must seed to learn about how one might be able to survive. Either we are part of the solution or we are part of the problem. The problem is breaking down all over the world.

readful things blog

In case you have not heard yet, the amazing Russell Crow is leading an all star cast in the new movie “Noah.” You can check out the trailer here:

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White-tailed Deer Pheromone Glands

I have been learning about butterfly pheromones. Interesting subject. Thanks for the post.

Naturally Curious with Mary Holland

11-15-13 white-tailed deer glands 582Animals communicate with their own species through strongly scented chemicals known as pheromones. Many mammals have glands that generate pheromones. The messages the scents convey vary according to the pheromone that is used – they can indicate alarm, territorial boundaries, the age of an animal and/or its sex, hierarchy and the receptiveness of an animal during the breeding season, among other things. White-tailed deer have scent glands where you might not expect them – their heads, legs and feet. Their primary glands and their functions are: forehead (scent left on antler rubs and overhanging branches), preorbital (near eye, doe uses it to communicate with fawns), interdigital (between the two toes of each hoof, foul-smelling yellow substance left on the ground with every step a deer takes), nasal (inside nose, may produce a scent, or may just lubricate the nose), preputial (on inside of buck’s penal sheath, function unknown), tarsal (inside…

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The Case for Sustainable Landscapes – The Case for Sustainable Landscapes_2009.pdf

The Case for Sustainable Landscapes – The Case for Sustainable Landscapes_2009.pdf.


This is a course I am taking online with United States Botanic Garden and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Take a peak. Perhaps you will be interested in Landscape for Life.

In the studio: Mary Ellen Ryall

1 11 2013

Butterfly posterMary Ellen Ryall and I crossed paths more than eight years ago when I purchased milkweed seeds from her through eBay. This connection quickly morphed into a frequent e-mail exchange and a great friendship! I do volunteer design and photography for her environmental education organization, Happy Tonics. For several years, I designed and produced her quarterly 4-page newsletter, Butterflies & Gardens, as well as other marketing materials. I also designed a Monarch Butterfly Habitat Poster for her a few years ago. The poster included original photographs by me and my friends Brian K. Loflin ( and Jeff Evans (

I had the chance to visit Mary Ellen in her former home base in Minong, Wisconsin, in August 2011. (Sidebar: at the time I was making the three-hour drive from the Minneapolis airport to Minong, I called Michael and learned that I had just missed a big earthquake in the D.C. area; it was enough to scare both him and our cat, ZenaB, and for a vase to fall off a bookcase and break!). While in Shell Lake and Minong, I visited Mary Ellen’s Monarch Butterfly Habitat and met many of her friends, most notably Diane Dryden, a published author and feature writer for the Washburn County Register. Diane’s novels, The Accidental King of Clark Street and Double or Nothing on Foster Ave., are available on Amazon here.

About a year ago, Mary Ellen relocated to Fitchburg, MA, to be closer to her sister. She talked of slowing down, but I knew she wouldn’t—she’s brimming with far too many ideas! An author and truly dedicated environmental educator, Mary Ellen’s first book, My Name is Butterfly, was published by Salt of the Earth Press in 2011. This teaching book about a little girl and a Monarch butterfly was illustrated by Marie Aubuchon-Mendoza and is available here.

TwoBooksEarlier this year, I assisted Mary Ellen with producing The Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book. Written by Mary Ellen Ryall and illustrated by Moira Christine McCusker, It is available for purchase here. It is published by Mary Ellen’s new company, Butterfly Woman Publishing. Our next project is a plant guidebook, which we hope to debut in 2014. She visited the D.C. area a few weeks ago to attend a three-day conference for the North America Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC). She is presently on a task force to design a smart app called S.H.A.R.E. (Simply Have Areas Reserved for the Environment). This app will allow gardeners around the country to list their habitats on a national map. Mary Ellen blogs about organic gardening and open pollination for diversity on her blog here.

After seeing the portraits I did of her while she was in town, Mary Ellen said, “now I see that I have to go out and buy a new wardrobe!” The outfits she is wearing came from my “modeling rack” as well as my closet. She feels I captured her energy in the shots—and if you’ve ever met her, you know how high-energy this woman is!

P.S. Butterflies are the second largest group of pollinators after bees. Butterflies as pollinators are in trouble too. The Monarch butterfly population is down to only five percent in 2013. The Monarch and other butterflies need native host plants. We need to plant native wildflowers to bring butterflies home. Milkweed is the only host plant of the Monarch butterfly. If you would like to be part of the solution to stop the decline of Monarch butterflies, plant some milkweed seeds in your garden! Mary Ellen sells seed on her website here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


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