I am a retired registered nurse and a widow living in upstate New York.
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.
I was listening to the interview, which I like very much. Tomorrow when I am fresh, I will relisten and contact Annie Lindstrom. She asked if I would be interested in coming on the Blog radio station. I think it would be a wonderful opportunity to talk about monarch butterfly as a pollinator. The life cycle of the monarch now has an Endangered Migration Phenomena.
I have authored two published books about the butterfly. The books are illustated children’s book, My Name is Butterfly can be used by teachers and parents to teach children. One is a charming story about a girl in her garden who discoveres the wonders of the monarch butterfly. The other book is a Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book. This too is a teaching book, ilustrated by Mora McCusker, artist in Gordon, WI.
Ryall, M.E., 06 June 2012. Washburn County Register, Butterfly Corner.
Saturdays at the Habitat: 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. The first and second Saturday Habitat Yard Sale for the butterflies took place. Folks came by to tell us how lovely the Monarch Butterfly Habitat looks. Others came on bike or by car and bought a few things. Saturdays are fun at the habitat. We planted a few violets for the fritillary butterfly. A Three Sisters Garden was planted, just before it rained. Weeds were pulled, wet newspaper put down, and topsoil added that Steve Degner delivered. We added aged sheep manure and a package of potting soil. This planting style is known as the lasagna method. The idea is to not dig into the soil, but add to it. We planted birdhouse gourd seed and hope they will grow among squash, heirloom beans, and Pungo Creek butcher corn, a variety of rainbow red, brown, yellow, and sometimes purple ears. For 165 years, the corn has been grown by farmers of Pungo Creek, Virginia.
May 25: The once rare brown Argus butterfly of southern England has found a new food source according to Butterfly Conservation, a science and advocacy group in the United Kingdom. The butterfly was located in southern England within a small area with a less common host rock-rose plant. Now the butterfly has migrated north due to climate change. A cooler environment was critical for its survival. To scientists’ surprise, the butterfly caterpillar is eating geraniums, which are abundant. “The change in diet represents a change to the interactions between species – in this case between a butterfly and the plants that its caterpillars eat – caused by climate warming.” This is the first case of a butterfly that can survive with a change in host plant, due to climate change. More science research and documentation will be ongoing to track butterfly species adaption to climate change. Terry Root, Stanford University, states that for every winner, there will be three loser species. Source: Butterfly Conservation Organization.
May 28 – June 1: It was a virtual butterfly and bumblebee feast at the property in Minong. I saw a fritillary, American copper, red Admiral and many monarch butterflies. The fritillary deposited eggs on tiny violet leaves. The monarch deposited eggs on milkweed. Yesterday it was the bumblebees. I counted 18 large bumblebees on chive flowers. Some were sleeping while others drank nectar from flowers. Two species of bumblebees were noted: double banded rust and impatiens.
The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake was alive with red Admiral butterflies.
There were several of them nectaring on native ninebark shrub. Common buckeye and
American Lady were also seen. American lady differs from painted lady in that the butterfly has two giant eyespots on hind wings.
June 2: Family Festival was held in Spooner at the Fairgrounds. Hundreds a parents, grandparents, friends, and children were in attendance. Fresh Start and Happy Tonics partnered together to provide fun activities for children. My newest book, Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book, just came out on Amazon. Copies were made of the butterfly coloring pages.
Gideon Fegman enjoyed coloring a monarch and said, “I am a naturologist.” John Jess, of Minong, provided several clay birdhouses and paint. Dan Gunderson, Fresh Start, gave the bird houses a first coat of paint. Children painted decorative designs on the birdhouses. We plan to make a stand and exhibit the birdhouses at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake.
Remember to stop by the Habitat on Saturday mornings and join the flea market fun from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Visitors can volunteer to do a few morning chores also.
I am doing a Book Tour over the next week, starting tomorrow – in and around Washington, DC. My Book, My Name is Butterfly, was published by Salt of the Earth Press in 2011. It took me nearly a year before I had time to start marketing the book. You see, I have been busy as Executive Director of a nonprofit environmetal education organization and public charity. Happy Tonics, has had quite a busy year in 2011. By end of 2012, I retire as CEO of the nonprofit and anticipate that I will have more time for writing and publishing.
It is a honor to be asked to speak at several events and places in So. Maryland.I am in Milwaukee and in a few hours, I fly to DC. March 31, I will speak at Joy Lane Healing Center at 4 p.m. Dr. Carol Marcy, owns the Healing Center and expansive lands surrounding the center. It was here where the first indication of my butterfly future began to flutter again in 1999. Never did I dream that by following my dream to come to WI that I would become Butterfly Woman. This is my Ojibwa spirit name. I was given this name in a Naming Ceremony. The monarch is a butterfly of transformation. I not only witnessed this life change in the monarch but also within myself. Visit Joy Lane Healing Center at http://www.joylanehealingcenter.net/
April 2, I will be in Prince Frederick and speak to seniors at the Calvert Pines Senior Center at 12:30 p.m. I once lived in Calvert County and am delighted to connect to new and old friends here. Visit at http://somd.com/Detailed/1734.php
April 7, I will be a guest at a Meet the Author event at Leonardtown, MD. If any of you live near Leonardtown, I invite you to come to The Good Earth Natural Food Company. It is a great pleasure to reconnect with Valerie, store owner, and new and old friends. I will be doing a book signing from 9:30 a.m. – 12 noon. http://www.goodearthnaturals.com/
For those looking for a Christmas gift inspired by a Washburn County story, one idea is My Name is Butterfly, a book written by Mary Ellen Ryall, director of Happy Tonics, the organization behind the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake.
Ryall wrote the story based on personal observations in her Minong garden in 2003.
“I saw this chrysalis under a bean plant, attached to the bottom of the bean leaf,” she said. “I thought, ‘What in heaven’s name is this?'”
She took a photo of the chrysalis and sent it to a friend in Ohio. “She said, ‘Mary-Ellen, do you realize you have a monarch butterfly chrysalis there?'”
From ground level, Ryall studied and observed the chrysalis change to adult butterfly.
“While I was there I had my bottle of water and this notepad,” she said. “I kept wondering, ‘What is she trying to teach me?’ I had no idea why I was having this experience, and I wrote down even about that.”
Ryall said a rabbit had eaten part of the leaf where the chrysalis was anchored, so she constructed a little fence around the bean plant.
“If that rabbit had come back one more day, I wouldn’t even have a chrysalis left.”
When the chrysalis turned dark, Ryall knew the butterfly was about to emerge.
“This is the very first time the butterfly comes out. Her wings were completely wet,” she said, “and I was with her for three hours. That’s how long it takes for a butterfly’s wings to dry out. They try to climb higher and higher to reach the sun, to get their wings dried. They pump fluids from abdomen to wings to do that.”
Ryall recalls the butterfly’s journey toward the sun: “And then the butterfly tried to climb up the bean pole, but the top of the plant had been eaten by the rabbit. She climbed to another plant and she went to a sunflower. She almost fell down. She had to right herself.”
During the climb, Ryall saw the male butterfly fold its wings back to let the underside dry.
“I’ve never seen a shot like that before,” Ryall said about the photograph she took of the butterfly.
“Then he gets up tall on this sunflower, and that’s when he flew away.”
From her Minong garden, Ryall shared her journal observations and photos with Patrick Shields, an English professor at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College.
“He said, ‘Knowing you, that butterfly will be immortal,'” she said.
The journal notes were transformed in what Ryall calls a “creative, non-fiction” story – her experience but with other characters: a young girl and her mother.
After the story was written, Ryall looked for a publisher. In a twist of fate, a publisher’s granddaughter volunteered at the Happy Tonics office
“Her grandmother came in one day and said, ‘I heard you wrote a story about a butterfly, about a monarch.’ I said, ‘I did,’ and she said, ‘Can I see it?'”
The publisher was Lindy Casey of Salt of the Earth Press, a small publisher from Northern Wisconsin focusing on books for children, the environment, organic gardening, recipes.
Ryall left Casey alone in the Happy Tonics office with the manuscript while Ryall visited the Shell Lake library.
“When I came back, she said, ‘This is important work. I’m going to publish it.'”
After a deal was struck, Stevie Marie Aubuchon-Mendoza of Las Vegas, Nev., was chosen to illustrate the book.
To help the illustrator, Ryall asked Minong’s Cassie Thompson and her mother, Tanya, to recreate scenes from the story which Ryall photographed.
“I told her [Cassie] to wear a baseball cap and she said, ‘I don’t wear a baseball cap.’ I said, ‘In this story she does wear a baseball cap.'”
Cassie takes on the character Sara Reynolds who goes out to the garden and finds a butterfly egg and then a caterpillar.
In the story, Mom cautions Sara to leave the new life alone and also teaches Sara new terms, like pupae.
“Her mother teaches her [Sara] while the butterfly teaches her the actual life cycle, so it’s the butterfly telling the story, basically, and getting more information from her mother.”
Following My Name is Butterfly, Ryall and a graphic designer from Alexandria, Va. created a publishing house called Butterfly Women Publishing.
The first publishing project, due out this spring for Earth Day, is a coloring book of Monarch butterflies illustrated by Gordon artist Mora McCusker.
“There are so many people I can reach locally. If I want the greater message to get out there, I have to get it published,” said Ryall. “That’s why we created the publishing house, so we could get some of my essays and manuscripts out there. If my life is short and sweet, this will be something of me to leave on this planet.”
November 7, 2011 – Felipe Martinez Meza, Assistant at Biosphere Monarch Butterfly, Zitacuaro, Michoacan, Mexico, confirmed that monarch butterflies had arrived at their overwintering sites in Mexico. He performed field work at the sanctuary the first week of November. His research was reported back to Learner Organization.
True to their encounter with nature and pre-Hispanic tradition, monarch arrival coincided with the Day of the Dead in Mexico on November 1. There were butterflies in their wintering sites in historic sites: The first colony in Ejido El Rosario had occupancy of approximately 50 trees while a second group on November 2nd was detected in 10 trees. It is too soon to say what this means as far as monarch concentrations are concerned. Are they doing better or worse this year? Has the migration numbers increased or decreased?
In December, scientists will travel to Mexico, from Learner Organization at the University of Kansas, to determine the health and vulnerability of the Mexican butterfly population and the overwintering sites. We can only hope that the butterflies were able increase in number especially since their numbers have been dwindling due to climate change, habitat loss and environmental fires, floods, oil contamination and other risks along their 2,000 mile migration.
Happy Tonics noticed record numbers of monarch butterflies in Shell Lake in 2011 at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. The last butterflies were seen on October 12 which is very late. Many people called to let us know they too saw many monarchs this year. It could be that the abundant rains increased milkweed growth and enabled the monarchs to propagate beyond normal numbers.
Get ready for Holiday Saturday on December 3. Happy Tonics is having an open house at the Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Refreshments will be served. We invite parents and grandparents to come in and view the book My Name is Butterfly. The illustrated children’s book features the artwork of Stevie Marie Aubuchon-Medoza and is written by Mary Ellen Ryall, CEO, of Happy Tonics and the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the holidays and honor youth in their home town. Books are available on Amazon. A limited number of copies will be available on December 3 for those who wish to see the book and obtain autographed copies for their families. Amazon price $12.98. FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.00
Read about the woman who lives alone in Northwest Wisconsin and whom is responding to requests to come to the East Coast next summer. If you only knew how far apart the different worlds are, you would realize how I don’t even want to go back there to traffic, people, noise and overpopulation and congested urban settings.
The new Salt of the Earth Press children’s book, “My Name is Butterfly” educates about the life-cycle of Monarch butterflies with a sense of wonder and discovery.
Shell Lake, WI – Thursday, June 30, 2011 – While children may find butterflies and their early life as caterpillars exciting to stumble upon in the garden, “My Name is Butterfly” will leave them with a new sense of these fascinating creatures. Mary Ellen Ryall writes and Stevie Marie Aubochan-Mendoza illustrates this beautiful little book that educates as it immerses the reader in the life of the Monarch butterfly.
The book was inspired by a butterfly birth the author witnessed in her own gardens several years ago in Mining, WI. “My Name is Butterfly” tells the story of a young girl who stumbles upon a Monarch caterpillar in her garden one summer day. From
there, she and the reader learn about the life-cycle of the Monarch as well as how to maintain a garden habitat that will keep these amazing creatures coming back year after year.
The Monarch butterfly itself is perhaps the most well-known butterfly of North America, but is also threatened by habitat loss. Deforestation in their overwintering grounds in particular has led to drastic reductions in the population. The Happy Tonics Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, WI as spearheaded by the author to benefit the migrating Monarchs and educate the public.
“My Name is Butterfly” is available through Amazon for online purchase, Happy Tonics Visitors Center for the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, WI and the Visitors Center in Minong as well as at My Favorite Things in Shell Lake, WI.
The author Mary Ellen Ryall grew up n Saratoga Springs, NY. In pursuit of butterflies, she worked and traveled in South America in the 1970s. In the 1980s Ryall completed the Master Gardeners Program, University of the District of Columbia, and
became involved with community gardens. Living in southern Maryland in the 1900s, she wrote about the environment and founded Happy Tonics. Ryall moved to Wisconsin in 2000, graduating from the Woodlands Wisdom Nutrition Project at
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College in 2003.
The illustrator Stevie Marie Aubochan=Mendoza lives with her family outside the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, NV. She is inspired by the dusty, desert landscape and the secrets that it holds. When she isn’t painting dinosaurs and dragons, she
loves having tea parties and playing in the dirt with her young daughter.
NOTES: Cassandra Thompson was the girl model for the book. She has been a monarch butterfly advocate since her early years. Cassie grows milkweed for the monarch. I felt it was important that the story have a real butterfly girl in the story. She reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.
“What a wonderful, wonderful book!” Judy Ford, WI, USA and Mexico
“The little butterfly book is just darling. The text is smooth, informative and easy to comprehend. The illustrations are so sweet and the colors really pop.”
Ronnie Hohos, Fitchburg, MA , USA
“Thank you for the opportunity to own your sweet, informative butterfly book.” Gloria Thue, Spooner, WI
“Thank you for the lovely words! It means a lot to me that you like my artwork and I’m honored to be a part of your book. I started it while pregnant and finished it with my daughter sleeping in the next room so the butterfly will always have a special meaning for me now. I think what you’re doing is wonderful and I’m glad you can touch the world with your words and help people appreciate such beautiful creatures.” Stevie Marie Aubuchon-Mendoza, Las Vegas, NV, USA
“GOT YOUR BOOK TODAY AND I READ IT. I LOVE IT AND THE CHILDREN WILL LOVE IT. I HOPE EVERY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL GETS ONE.” Eunie Smith, Miami FL
“What a wonderful, wonderful book! Published!!! Hooray!!” by Judy Ford, Iron River, WI