“The Revenants

I was immersed in the movie, The Revenants. The winter mountain landscapes were impressive and reminded me of years past. I have lived in the Adirondack Mountains, The Rockies, The Sierra Madre, and the Andes. The snow in the film is remembered in Upper New York on my dad’s farm out past Rock City Falls, on Armer Road, in the Adirondack Mountain foothills, and in Northwest Wisconsin.

Learn more about the film at https://lfq.salisbury.edu/_issues/46_2/i_will_be_right_here_the_revenants_native_american_vision_of_survival_and_permanence.html

An interesting line: “You don’t give up. You hear me? As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe. Keep breathing.” Now for someone who has a respiratory disease, the dialog is meaningful to me. It is the same with Native American endurance, one never gives up. The culture follows through in every segment of the movie. There are other cultures also, besides the Pawnee, including the French.

The Director, “Inàrritu, fashions The Revenant into a representation of Native American literatures as a genre by first appropriating then undercutting western conventions, national mythologies and culture heroes, Indian stereotypes, and US literature to spotlight the shared history, themes, and formal invention among Indian authors.”



Wake Up to the New World Order

Trace Lara Hentz is an avid researcher. This time, she has delved into ancient history, which is a new education for me.

Hentz has written a new book, Finding The Invisibles, at https://www.findingtheinvisibles.com.findingtheinvisibles.com/.

I find it interesting because of her unique way of reaching the public and making her work available to the masses for free—what a gift.

This morning, I have spent a few hours reading about ancient history that ties right into today’s financial global picture with the oligarchs. They are not only in Russia. We need to wake up. Usually, people are too busy with their own lives to pay attention to the worldwide wealth situation. When we don’t educate ourselves, we do not know how the money flows into the hands of the few (the companies) who own the world’s wealth.

Learn more at https://www.visualcapitalist.com/all-of-the-worlds-wealth-in-one-visualization/

If we are going to survive, we need to know how the financial world operates and prepare ourselves. We, too, need to save and invest to hopefully hold the course of sustainability in a world of diminishing returns regarding earnings and retirement with living on fixed incomes. Learn how to buy low and store food goods that are indeed increasing in price. Grain such as wheat will be in short supply with the war in Ukraine. Ukraine is the breadbasket for global grains such as wheat. Stock up on flour and pasta.

I know it is worth our time to learn more so that we will understand how the world works.

Worth Cooley Prost: Honoring a Remarkable Journey, by Anne Newman

Worth Cooley Prost was my friend. Even before I met her, she knew of my water ceremony work. Out of the blue, she mailed me a glass water necklace. years later we met up in Virginia and went to my friend’s art show. Then she gave me the glass water earrings. I miss her still. Worth is spirit and always was.



Mary Ellen Ryall


518 871-9763


Butterflies of the Prairie Habitat is published by Newgen North America and ebookpbook.com

Butterflies of the Prairie Habitat is a book about the love of a butterfly, the Monarch Butterfly. It took a town with vision and a person willing to take on a mission to create a Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin.

 Mary Ellen Ryall needed a wealth of volunteers. Sandy Stein, for instance, spent a winter in her cabin filling out the IRS documentation.

Happy Tonics, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Environmental Education Organization, became the engine, and the mission was born. Artists, authors, Lambert Lumber Company, 4D Builders, Shell Lake High School student interns worked at the habitat, office, and store, and included carpenter students, reporters, graphic artists, photographers, and a tribal college collaborated to provide student interns to the project. Ryall was a graduate of Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College in Hayward, Wisconsin. 

Donors contributed memory benches, metal art, a butterfly pond, and memory bricks to support the mission. Diane Dryden and her family donated the pergola. 

Meet the characters inside the book that made the vision possible. Walk in the habitat and learn about native plants and butterflies that frequented the 1/2 acre restored prairie habitat. 

Learn about how you can help create native habitat for pollinators. Help save a species on the brink of existence due to climate change and loss of habitat. Most of all, come away knowing that the planet can be a better home because of you. 

Connect with Mary Ellen Ryall at https://www.amazon.com/Butterflies-Prairie-Habitat-Ellen-Ryall-ebook/dp/B09B5FWLT6

https://www.facebook.com/maryellen.ryall https://www.facebook.com/Butterflywomanpublishing

Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-ellen-ryall-41852766/


Stephanie Stephenson has written an easy-to-understand guide to Vegetable Gardening. The book speaks to all aspects of gardening. One needs to know about space, vegetable selection, insects, and how to rid pests in the garden.  

I enjoyed reading about square-foot-gardening for those of us that only have a raised bed. Then there are the hints as to what kind of other containers would be suitable. It is interesting to read about vertical gardening. I liked the idea of so many choices so everyone can become sufficient and grow food. It doesn’t matter if one only has a balcony, window, or garden plot. We can all become more healthy and sustainable.

Stephenson also speaks to the different soil types, weeds, composting, companion planting, and the list goes on. The book makes a handy reference book for a variety of garden subjects. It is easy to read and enjoyable at the same time. 

The Therapy Cat Book

Read about Mr. Wuffles and friends and how your cat can become a purrfect therapy cat. Written by Sally Cragin and illustrated by Kathryn Swantee.

The Cat Therapy Book

The book promotes pet therapy in the Fitchburg grade schools and the Fitchburg Public Library. Fitchburg schools have an estimated 50.1 % Latino students. African American students at 7.9 % and Asian students at 5.5 percent. White students range about 28.6%, according to the 2019-20 Race/EthnicitySchoolDistrictState in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Source: https://profiles.doe.mass.edu/students/classsizebyraceethnicity.aspx?orgcode=00970505&fycode=2021&orgtypecode=6&

 Any student that is suffering a disconnect at school could benefit from pet visits. Pets in the classroom help young people who struggle with social and emotional challenges. For example, a child can read to a pet. Another child can hold a pet and feel comforted. The simple act of pet visits can improve a young person’s grades in school, and they can feel better because of a new way of learning and connecting with the heart. I applaud the publication of The Therapy Cat Book. 

Sally Cragin recently gave a Zoom inspirational talk at the First Parish UU Church at a Sunday service at Fitchburg and Lancaster. She talked about goats visiting a school and how the students responded. 

The Therapy Cat Book has received high reviews by Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale; Fitchburg Public Schools Superintendent Bob Jokela; Children’s Librarian, Fitchburg Public Library, Nicole Irvin, and Massachusetts Association of Schools Committees, Elen Holmes, and The former Mayor of Fitchburg 2008-2016, Lisa Wong. 

Kathryn is the illustrator of my book Mi Nombre Es Monarca. I wrote the book for the Latino students at the Cleghorn Youth Center in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. She now has a new business Swan Hope Press at SwanHopePress@gmail.com. Learn more about the book at https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Therapy_Cat_Book/oLJYzgEACAAJ?hl=en


Many Waters is a collection of stories from writers of the Greater North Woods of Wisconsin. It is a wild place where bears, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and where many more species live. Thousands of lakes draw the seeker to its quiet shores. Traditional Indigenous wild rice grows in the water. The area is known as Indian Country. 

I write about the book as a former member of the St. Croix Writers Group. Once a week, the writers meet at the Community Center in Solon Springs. Because it is isolated, many members traveled to get there. I traveled 35 miles each way to attend the group. The writers are a kindred lot. 

Reading the book, I remember writers who have walked on. Kay Karras was an elder, a Poet Laureate, and had a sense of uncanny humor. Weekly she drove to Spooner to visit her sister in the nursing home. That is a 55-mile trip each way. Minong, a village of 516 people, was about halfway. Kay would occasionally stop for short visit and to get her second wind. I loved the impromptu visits. 

Kay invited me to her historical homestead on Karras Road. We visited her beloved roses. She showed me her favorite pine tree, along a walking path, that inspired her to write many stories. Kay showed me the native Lupine and host plant for the Karner Blue butterfly that grew near a pine row. She also taught me where Valerian grew near clear running water. Kay, I remember you in your stories especially Ghost Writers in the Sky.

When I read There is No Cat Like Your First Cat, I can hear Jo Stewart’s voice. Her laughter was contagious. That is how happy her spirit was. Every Christmas season, the St. Croix Writers went to Jo’s home for a Christmas party. Writers shared short works. We gathered in gladness, and oh, I do remember shy outdoor cats at the entranceway where Jo fed the babes she so loved. We miss you, Kay.

Agnes Kennard sent me a note to ask me to submit writing for the project. I am thrilled she thought to do so. The St. Croix writers would occasionally visit Agnes’s home. An artist lives here. Agnes gave me a cement block with glass pieces of a turtle that she made set in the cement. I loved it. It once proudly stood at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. 

Agnes has been writing most of her life as a way of communication. Her stories have traveled near and far. She is a creative writer, as can be read in Coffee and Common Ground. As a thoughtful writer, Ages wrote, I am Buffalo. It reminds me of humanity now and Climate Change. As the Buffalo went, so shall the family of man. My heart feels that pain. 

I wish I could write about every writer I knew. Each was unique, caring, and a giver of gifts. The gift was them. I still communicate with some of the writers on Facebook. Do read the stories. I am still reading the book. I enjoy waking up and reading segments from the past. Some writers are new to me, and I welcome them to St. Croix Writers. May we all walk with them as we read Many Waters

Many Waters is sold on Amazon at Many Waters: St. Croix Writers Stories and Poems: St. Croix Writers, Haislet, Barbara, Nelson, Sandy, Musch, Naomi, Kay, Janet: 9798689126746: Amazon.com: Books

Amazon notes, Many Waters brings voices from Wisconsin’s Northwoods together in this cross-genre collection of stories, poems, essays, and long-form excerpts. Personality and style converge in a shared love of the region and through works that range from the humorous to the historical, from the everyday to the fantastic. Readers are sure to find pieces that resonate in this excellent compilation.

I was a former student and graduate of Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College. Patrick Shilds, former professor of Creative Writing, invited the St. Croix Writers to the college to present a program for the writing students. The Writers who attended: Pat Shields, Jo Stewart, Agnest Kennard, Mary Ellen Ryall, Kay Karras, and two others I can’t identify.

Agnes Kennard and Jo Stewart


Carol Daggs is the author of Saratoga Soul Brandtville Blues. 

I loved reading about the black farming life and learning about Carol’s family. Her mother, Ruth, and aunt Ethel were beautiful women. The Daggs resided in Brandtville, located on a map in 1879, named after Isadore Brandt, a Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, in 1880. Brandt owned a large area in Brandtville, named for him. The families in Brandtville lived an organic farming lifestyle and caring for one another. They were close-knit and humble, hardworking families who lived there for over a century. 

copyright openstreetmap.org

The rich culture of simple farm life is worth noting. There is no more generous gift than healthy, organic produce and nutritious living soil that nurtures life for all beings. Sustainability is the only way we are going to survive and prepare for future generations.

To replace parts of Brandtvillle with expensive homes with manicured lawns does not support sustainability. Recently, I looked at a Googe Map and saw Doten Avenue, which is in the middle of Brandtville. The whole area is built-up now. One removes a vital living neighborhood that consists of several generations of the same families, and culture is lost. One can never go home again. Brandtville needs a sign to honor the farming community that once thrived there. 

Carol’s book highlights the Urban Renewal of the 1960s and 1970s and what the black and less economic communities suffered. 

Carol Daggs writes, “From August 1891, Dyer Phelps Memorial A.M.E. Church remained on Maple Avenue until 1975.” The church was adjacent to the Saratoga Police Department. Now an empty parking lot. A sign needs to stand here that shows that a historically Black church proudly stood there, in the middle of downtown Saratoga Springs. The church was the 2nd oldest church in Saratoga. Can you imagine how the parishioners felt losing their historical church? The second oldest Church in Saratoga Springs has a long history. Carol Daggs points out in her book that the A.M.E. Church was organized in 1862, pages 33 – 40.

I am from Saratoga Springs, as were my ancestors since 1866. The house I grew up in at 40 Madison Street still stands in a long-established east side neighborhood. I lived there from 1945 to 1962. Then the family moved to a farm out Route 29 in Middle Grove. I lived on the farm until 1964. It was my father’s dream to own land. Mine was to explore the world. 

40 Madison Street copyright Realitor.com

The Discussion Guide at the end of Saratoga Soul Brandtville Blues inspired me to write about growing up in Saratoga Springs and my relationship with people different than me. When I was a child, I remember being outside in a playpen, in the front yard, under a large Maple tree. My mother believed I should get lots of fresh air. Two boys walked by. One was White and the other Black. The White boy asked, who was the most handsome? I pointed to the Black boy. They laughed as they walked away down the street. 

Even before I went to school, I would visit Mr. Blue, an elderly Black man who lived down the street on the corner of Madison and Wright Street. He lived in a dilapidated historic farmhouse with a horse barn. We used to sit on his back porch. He took the time for a lonely child, and I made him my friend. It was a tragedy when he died in a house fire. I was a few years older when it happened, and it affected me deeply and still does. Mr. Blue was such a lovely elder. 

Another time, when I was about seven years old, I was sledding down a snow pile that went into the street in front of my home. Neither the driver of the car nor I saw each other. A nice black man barely missed me. He rolled down the car window. He gently said something like, don’t sled into the road. I could have hit you because I couldn’t see you. I was scared enough to never slide down into the street again. Instead, I built a snow fort in the mountainous snowpile and would burrow inside on winter days. I remember a lovely stone house on the corner of Cresent Street and Madison Street. A quiet black family lived there.

I left Saratoga Springs for New York City to work at the World’s Fair when I was 19 years of age in 1964. I returned to Saratoga Springs for two short bursts before I left on assignment for South America. When I occasionally came home to visit my family, I noticed that much of the old neighborhoods I knew were gone. I wondered where did the history of the Black citizens go? It was a question I have asked myself for years. Finally, I can answer some of the questions, thanks to Carol R. Daggs. 

At 75 years old, I never heard of Brandtville. To make matters even more mysterious, Brandtvile was not that far away from where I grew up. As a child, I would ride my bike on Madison Street to Cresent Street, the South Corporation Line. There were woods there, and I didn’t see any roads to Brandtville. I also rode my bike out Jefferson Street to Cresent Street and never knew that the community existed. Carol mentions that one could reach Brandtville that was west of the Recino. Today, Brandtville is accessible from Cresent Street if one turns on Joshua Road, next to Doten Avenue. 

The mention of Congress Street. Many young Saratogians knew where the action was in the early days. Eddie Walczak owned the Golden Grill. On Friday nights, Skidmore College students and local young people gathered to dance to Harlem’s jazz bands. It was fabulous. You wouldn’t tell your parents where you went. I felt utterly safe and danced my heart out with my friends. It was the best music ever. In 1969, the Golden Grill relocated to Phila Street, but it was never the same again. There was no more live music. I felt the soul was gone. To learn more about an outstanding citizen, read Eddie Walczak’s obituary at Edward Walczak Obituary – (1936 – 2015) – Saratoga, NY – The Saratogian (legacy.com)

After a night on the town, we would go to Hattie’s Chicken Shack, owned by Hattie Moseley Austin, on Federal Street. I remember Hattie in an apron smiling at us while waiting for the chicken to be ready. I think she knew perfectly well where we had been. According to Charles Wait, chairman, and C.E.O. of the Adirondack Trust Bank, in an article at Saratoga.com, “Hattie’s always represented a place where everybody in the community felt comfortable, and it didn’t matter if you were the president of the bank or a groom at the track. You would go there cheek to jowl, sit down, and enjoy some good fried chicken and are being treated the same, and everybody had a good time.” Hattie’s was one of the few African American businesses saved and relocated to Phila Street after 1969. 

Miss Hattie copyright Michael Noonan

I remember the delicious smells from Max Fallick’s Jewish Bakery on Congress Street. My dad drove there after Sunday Mass, at St. Peter’s Church, on Broadway. We went for the Kaiser Rolls. I swear I haven’t smelled or tasted anything as delectable again. Fallick’s Bakery was gone during the Urban Renewal. Think of all the Black, White, and Jewish businesses gone forever because of Urban Renewal. How does one justify destroying businesses? These colorful businesses made Saratoga what it was. Saratoga was a city for all people, rich and poor, many ethnic groups, and it was an enriching experience for a girl growing up. 

Reading Saratoga Soul Brandtville Blues, I wondered about some neighborhoods that disappeared during the Urban Renewal? In high school, I had friends that lived on Pavillion Street, the street behind The Saratogian newspaper. A friend wrote, she missed the old neighborhood. She said it was a nice neighborhood. According to Matthew Veitch in the Times Union article, Putnum Street and Henry Street’s property also suffered Urban Renewal. 

Matthew Veith’s grandfather, Donald Veitch, was the city’s Urban Renewal Agency executive director. Matthew has a lot of information on this period. He said, “Frankly, the social story, the social problem, the people part of the story is not recorded,” Veitch said. “You don’t hear that story…. [There is not a] tale of the folks who lived on Congress Street and their experience with urban renewal. We all kind of look at today in hindsight and say we don’t know what it was like to be affected by it.” Source: Times Union Before urban renewal, much of Saratoga Springs was a different world (timesunion.com)https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Urban-renewal-shaped-Saratoga-Springs-landscape-15940059.php

Saratga consisted of affordable housing before Urban Renewal, even if some neighborhoods were poor. It is 2021, and Saratoga Springs still does not have sufficient affordable housing. We are an aging population and need to think about where the older citizen is going to live? Will many have to leave Saratoga Spring because of the high price point? And just like Carol Daggs, history, many could suffer the same fate. 

I am grateful to say I live in sustainable housing at Embury Apartments, Wesley Retirement Community. I have several black friends here. One is a writer, and we are writing our own Saratoga family histories. Carol Daggs has inspired us to continue in our pursuit to write about our ancestors, who were part of the building of Saratoga Springs in the early days.