Fitchburg MA Events and Blizzard

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First Thursday was a splash. Many people attending the Fitchburg Farmers Market at the Fitchburg Art Museum. Nick Capasso, new director, was on hand to greet visitors, Museum staff served refreshments.

My Name is Butterfly attends Farmers Market

My Name is Butterfly attends Farmers Market

I tended the community table on the second floor where my book My Name is Butterfly was available. Robert Lanciani of  and Terry Impostato, Semi Precious Gem Treasures, had tables. I purchased a pair of turquoise drop earrings from Terry.

Terry's earrings I bought

Terry’s earrings I bought

Sheila Lumi and Christine Brown

Sheila Lumi and Christine Brown

Sheila Lumi, Director of the Fitchburg Farmers Market, brought honey to sell. People bought it by the pound, because it is local honey. I bought a bottle too. We know local honey is good for allergies, cold and flu. When I came home I tasted it; the honey tastes like delicate flowers. It is that good. A Spoonful of Medicine says, “Honey has been shown to have potent antibiotic properties. Scientists have discovered that it naturally produces hydrogen peroxide, a substance capable of killing disease-causing bacteria.”

Read the full article at

Vee Lashua sold organic vegetables, eggs and meat to a sold out crowd. Her spicy grass fed beef chili was delicious and I bought a cup. I bought a steak, which defrosted overnight and cut into five portions.

Organic beef stew

Organic beef stew

I cooked the meat up with tomatoes, onions, fresh baby portabella mushrooms, with vinegar and butter. One portion was used in the slow cooker. I made delicious stew with tiny potatoes, onions, mushrooms, garlic, bite size tomatoes, carrots, celery and fresh dandelion greens from the market.

Charlie Red House Farm

Charlie Red House Farm

Charlie grew dandelion and other greens, at Red House Farm greenhouse. He had beautiful greens for sale. Next month I am going to buy a lot more. There was quite a selection of bagged green and purple lettuce also. The carrots were beautiful.

Charlie's gorgeous carrots

Charlie’s gorgeous carrots

Diane Burnette

Diane Burnette

I met Diane Burnette. She and her husband run Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center, in Lancaster, MA. Visit them at They sold darling children’s books about Johnny Appleseed. She offered MA maple syrup and other home grown products. Diane uses the Farmers Market to connect and network with community. In greeting guests, I met grade school teachers. They took butterfly postcards and business cards. Now teachers know that I am available for environmental and butterfly classroom talks. They can contact me at   I will be mailing Diane postcards of my books. She thought there might be an interest for the books at Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center.

Afterwards several of us went to First Parish UU, on the Upper Common, to attend First Thursday Drum Circle. I love this time to unwind. I brought a squash rattle, noticed some brought bells. Next month I am going to bring bells, clapping sticks, and rattles. I am new to drumming. The music takes me to an inner, deep and calming space. You may be interested in reading an article “Research indentifies health benefits from participation in drumming circles,” by Kimberly Ann Holle, Columbus United Examiner at

Blizzard in Fitchburg

Blizzard in Fitchburg

Friday the weather turned into The Blizzard of 2013. Fitchburg had a snow fall of 23.5 inches of snow overnight. The Governor told everyone to stay home. If you were caught out driving you could have gone to prison. People paid attention. I was perfectly safe up here on the 9th floor. It is a little nest and I am self contained. As of 4 p.m. today, the Governor announced that vehicles could use the roads again.

Digging out

Digging out

Be happy Butterfly Woman friends.



Possible chicken mushroom remains

Possible chicken mushroom remains

Last week while walking down a country lane, I spotted an old white oak tree with a strange pattern. It appeared that mushrooms had been harvested from the tree. Later that day I contacted Martha’s Mushrooms (on Facebook) to see if either Tavis or she could identify the remains. I did not hear from them. I took a mushroom class with him in Cumberland, WI, two weeks before I moved to Fitchburg, MA. You’ve got it. I delayed the move by one week so I could take the mushroom class. Believe me, I have been trying to learn about mushrooms both culinary and medicinal for a few years now. I must admit that this was the best mushroom class I have taken thus far. Tavis teaches the importance of learning about the trees first that are host to mushrooms. I was going about it all wrong before. I was just looking at the ground or trees to see if I saw any mushrooms. No, this method is the best one. Learn to identify aged trees first.

In the meantime, I went on the Internet to learn more about the species (Laetiporus sulphures). Steve Brill, New York City, has an educational video on shelf polypore (Poly means more than one or many; pore means the species has pores instead of teeth or gills). As the decaying mushroom displays, it is a shelf mushroom and there were many. But was it a chicken mushroom also known as sulphur mushroom because of its bright orange color and yellow bottom? Only finding another mushroom cluster on a similar tree (white oak) could possible identify the mushroom.

Three days ago I went out to the forest on a trail that is a protected watershed area. It wasn’t long before I spotted something bright orange peeking out from the backside of a rotting limb. Could it be a chicken mushroom? Steve Brill jokes that it is called chicken because sometimes the mushroom will  hide and grow on the back side of a tree.  I went over to investigate. Looking up into the ancient tree that was already breaking down, I did see that is was a still living white oak tree. Drats! I didn’t bring a camera  this weekend. Thus no photos. Again I went online at to explore further the possibly that it was indeed a chicken mushroom. Mind you, there is no look-alike to this mushroom so it is considered to be one of six mushrooms that are safe to eat.

Still I had to test it for 24 hours with a spore test. It has a white spore. Regrettably, I didn’t have black paper. Half the mushroom was placed on white paper and other half on green paper. Poor choice, but at least it didn’t give a black or purple spore print. It is important to place a glass over the mushroom being tested. This  insures that the spores don’t go into the air but onto the paper.

Tavis suggested that all mushrooms be cooked. One should never eat raw mushrooms. They may contain chemicals that are harmful but when cooked, the process takes away any danger.

Yesterday I went back to the site and with a sharp knife cut away at the mushroom similar to what I saw with the already harvested mushroom. I came home and weighted 6 pounds of mushrooms, cleaned, cut and cooked them for at least 10 minutes.

Recipe: Saute mushrooms in olive oil with fresh chopped parsley, garlic and onion. Afterwards the mushrooms were cooled and packaged in snack sized zip lock bags. I will bring them home today and put in the freezer. Chicken mushroom is reported as having a chicken flavor and can be used instead of chicken. I did try two tablespoons which is suggested when testing a mushroom. If one were to be poisoned, one would realize it very soon if one has a stomach upset. It is advised by Tavis to always keep a raw sample of the mushroom just in case one does eat a poisonous mushroom. At least with poisoning, infectious disease control could verify the poisoning if one needed treatment.

I regret that I will need to wait till next week before I hope to return to Winter Hill Farm with the camera. I hope there is some evidence of the mushroom in a young stage to photograph. Chicken mushrooms are known to give several flushes over a few years. I will check on both trees this spring, summer and next fall. Till then, happy mushrooming.

Be well insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Butterfly Corner, May 23, 2011

Dakota Robinson's Story Board on Monarch Migrations.

Dakota Robinson's Story Board on Monarch Migrations.

May 23 – Happy Tonics participated in the “My Secret Garden” event at the Comfort Suites in Hayward hosted by the Cable and Hayward Area Arts Council. The nonprofit’s theme was butterfly gardens. One of the highlights was showing Dakota Robinson’s story board that illustrates the migration route of the monarch butterfly from Mexico to Canada. The youngster started a petition to stop roadside spraying of herbicides and insecticides during migration season. Roads and rivers are the main travel route of monarch butterflies. Herbicides kill milkweed, the host plant and insecticides kill larva and adult butterflies. Many guests attending the garden gala; were familiar with the plight of the monarch butterfly and signed the petition. Others also knew about Shell Lake’s Monarch Butterfly Habitat and plan to come this summer.

May 26 – Mary Ellen Ryall and Dylan Hasbrouck attended a Destination Marketing Organization meeting, at Wild Rivers Outfitters, in Grantsburg. Dylan will be working with Happy Tonics this summer to help maintain the habitat. He is under Fresh Start’s umbrella which is building a house in Shell Lake. Dylan will also be in training to learn Internet marketing skills at the nonprofit’s Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue, Shell Lake.

 In the morning, I stopped at the habitat and did a walk through to see what was starting to grow. Milkweed is emerging and averages 2” to 6” tall.

Monarch eggs on milkweed

Monarch eggs on milkweed

One colony of plants already has a monarch egg on each leaf. This is promising considering how cold and wet the spring has been so far. Remember monarchs do not fly when it is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Monarchs return to Shell Lake about lilac time which is about now. Native June grass is already up. Prairie smoke flower is budding. Oyster plant is at the edible stage. Native shrubs and trees are flourishing and many are in flower including Juneberry, wild black cherry and chokecherry.  Earlier this spring an Experience Works member Mike Kremer applied a good dose of compost and mulch to the trees and shrubs. 

Remember to call in your first monarch butterfly sighting in Shell Lake. You will win a butterfly gift if you report the first sighting. Be sure to note day, time, your location, weather, and temperature as best as you can. Dial 715 468-2097 and leave a message if no answer. Someone will get back to you.

 Please Like Happy Tonics on Facebook. Join the conversations and track events and happenings. Visit us on the Internet and find out about summer events at and visit the Blog at

Holiday Fundraising Please Don’t Turn the Other Cheek

Facebook has been very kind to Happy Tonics. Here is where we can post our Cause – Sanctuary for the Monarch Butterfly and why we need to raise money. We all work for free – that is the officers, board, members and volunteers. It takes funds to implement a native habitat on an old railroad bed that was full of cement and possible chemicals from earlier days.

I was told by the elder and Honorable Charles Lutz, former Mayor of Shell Lake, that during the Great Depression hobos would ride the train into Shell Lake and set up camp. He remembers the days when he saw their cooking fires and make shift camps along the lakeside near the railroad tracks. No one in Shell Lake was mean to them. The little community understood the plight of their fellow suffering human beings and left them alone.

Dotted mint

Dotted mint

I can’t even imagine how degraded the soil was when we first attempted to do something about a mowed barren strip of land. We still need to put up a display case for donors (each with donations of $100 or more) and redo the wood chip path with some recycled materials that will keep the habitat from growing right into the path.  It is too hard for us 60 something year olds to be on our hands and knees pulling weeds. We also need a tool shed for hand mower and other equipment.

This is a perfect opportunity to raise the banner and promote our cause at

Be generous folks. We are all volunteers and it takes funding to build a 1/2 acre habitat with its split rail fence, pergola, memory benches and metal and cement sculpture art. The annual maintenance in season runs from April – October and is labor intensive. 

The TV crews were at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat this past 4th of July weekend filming the habitat. The Restored Native Remnant Tallgrass Prairie dedicated as a Monarch Butterfly Habitat is going to be featured on public television starting in March 2011 on Discover Wisconsin. 

Thank you insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Spring issue Butterflies and Gardens Hits the Press

Dear Insectamonarca friends,

B&G Cover Spring 2010

Cover to newsletter

  We hope you will enjoy the spring issue of Butterflies and Gardens at

 We are sad to report that the monarchs will be migrating back to the USA with the lowest numbers since the 1970s when they were first recorded.  Read all about the floods and mudslides in Mexico.  Chip Taylor, University of Kansas and Monarch Watch, points out that illegal deforestation has compromised the Mexican habitats for many years.  

 May we all pay attention to promoting biodiversity and reforestation for the monarch butterfly and pollinating species including native bees.

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