Waiting for my friends to walk on

This Christmas tide has been a time of watchful waiting. It’s been a time of intentional candles and tearful remembrances of two strong women who have been angels surrounding me. About a month ago, I had the undeniable calling to write about one of my elder friends. I felt driven to write as if it were urgent and I had to capture the essence. I had to pay attention.

This friend is a writer. I wanted to talk about our friendship and how her quiet love was like having an angel surrounding me. I had photos of Kay and her land that she shared with me when I visited her home. I knew what inspired her to write about a tree that she loved. Writing comes in the middle of the night now with this post.

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Kay Karras lives in Solon Springs, Wisconsin. We have spent many happy hours together over the years. She is a life long friend and poet with several chat books. Her latest work Bits of Birch, was published in 2008 by Belle Ink, LLC. At the time of publication, she was 90 years old, a remarkably strong spirited woman. Kay was chosen as Poet Laureate of Solon Springs a few years back.Back then, my friend would visit her elderly sister every week, driving at least 80 miles round trip from Solon Springs to Spooner and back. She would stop mid way at my house in Minong on many of these trips. We would sit outside in good weather and I would make her a cup of tea, or we would sit and chat in the house. She is such a loving friend who took the time to visit. Kay made me feel like a chosen one. I often felt she was looking out for me like an angel on your shoulder.I miss her and her wit. Oh Kay has wit. I have never known anyone before who could recite poetry from the top of her head like she can. She has sent me prayer cards and greeting cards over the years with angels as a theme. Kay Karras is an angel to me and I love her very much.

Photo Gallery

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Kay Karras I love poets
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Kay with book cover by Kathy Maas
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Kay’s favorite tree where poem was dedicated
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Kay’s heirloom rose
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Life before on the farm
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A dirt road on property
Always
by Kay Karras
I think of you
When the day is ending
My dreams hold the memory of you
Always.

Wintergreen

by Kay Karras

By Way of the Wintergreen Tree

Your little bare feet brought you to me

A lad so young – so happy, so free

To hunt wintergreens by

the wintergreen tree.

You take me back to the days when I was

A bare foot girl ‘neath an azure sky

Came to hunt in the cooling breeze

The wintergreen berries

and wintergreen leaves

I see in your happy eyes the smile

Making me wonder all the while

As the years fly by and I cease to be

Will you look for me, here?

by the wintergreen tree?

Kay gave so much to so many women. She was a member of the St. Croix Writers Group in Solon Spring, WI. What tribute can I give her, but a response to her love. She was a mantle for many. We can feel the same love now even when she no longer lives here.

Her daughter Maryann sent me a poem that she wrote for her mother. I knew she had one daughter in California. She’s a dark haired beauty of native descent. Kay sent her bear paws years ago that never made it to their destination; she was heartsick about it. She was a woodlands woman familiar with hunting, fishing and gardening. Kay was of the earth and a survivalist. She taught her children well.

My other friend lived in a different world. Dorothy was from the city. Years ago, when I was a young woman, we worked in publishing in Washington, DC. Another strong woman Dorothy Hill befriended me. We worked for a Jewish family who treated their employees well, like family. Our work was investigative and we worked on the Hill. The publishing house dealt with chemicals in food and cosmetics, Food Chemical News and Pesticide and Chemical News.

It was an informative time. It was here I learned that all that came in packages was not well, including food and cosmetics. This was my first exposure to the world  that was not as safe as I once believed. Madison Avenue is effective in what they do. Everything in society is about marketing and selling.

Dorothy came to my wedding at St. Dominic’s Church, in DC in 1985. She was suffering a terrible tooth ache from an abscess tooth and was immediately going to the dentist after the wedding. I knew then that she would do anything to show that she loved me. I trusted her. I didn’t trust my own mother and Dorothy taught me that she loved me unconditionally. What a beautiful friend. We both came from alcoholic families. She was married to a drinker and I was born into a family of alcoholism. I have trust issues when it comes to letting people get close to me. Dorothy broke that shell as did Kay.

We have been friends for what seems like forever. Now she is no longer here, but ascended to where love abides blissfully and showers us here the Earth. I am not alone even though I have said goodbye to many things. I am amused of course and dedicated to my work, but my own family of a husband, Tia the dog, and three cats don’t live here anymore. I don’t live on the land anymore that I loved in northwest Wisconsin. I had to leave my northern retreat for health reasons. Now I live on the east coast near family. This is a new chapter in my life. I have been gallivanting around the world for most of my adult life. Now I am spending these precious days with family as I age.

God Bless you all who have walked with me through these writings. May you know the value of family and friends surrounding you.

Be well Insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

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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.

Transformation

Greetings Insectamonarca friends,

Today, Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This evening at sunset, the sun was filtering through the forest and the fragrance of woods, herbs, and flowers including scented geraniums was impregnating the air. I stood in a grassy area before the gardens by the pool and started to practice Justine Stone’s Tai chi form as I opened up to communicating with sounds of forest and happy buzzing insects. At nights I have been sleeping on the back screened patio. I love falling asleep to sounds of wind, rain and insects blessing me. A few days ago China the cat was attached by a feral  cat. She had gotten outside and has a shoulder injury. It is amazing but she and I are recuperating together. I have learned to slow down and do mindful walking to re-center my blood pressure. China is limping around on three legs. She teaches me about importance of rest. We have become fast friends.

My sister, Ann Veronica Ryall-Hohos, nickname Ronnie, has been creating a botanical paradise on 40 acres of protected watershed area in rural MA hills, near Fitchburg,  MA, during her lifetime. The old homestead dates from 1820s. The house is Colonial with shaker cedar and a hoop roof.  I had no idea of how extensive her plant knowledge ancestral connections would take her in creating a magnificent natural biodiversity environment. While Ronnie was busy co-creating her natural heaven at home, I was out in the world with my side of the shared plant knowledge DNA sharing my life’s work with the world, documenting field guides for butterflies and other pollinators and prairie restoration and other pollinators. I have come full circle and I am once again home after a life time  of travel and environmental education commitment. Two of my books are published My Name is Butterfly and Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book. The children’s environmental education books are available on Amazon.

I don’t have the life expectancy to complete in-depth documentation of my sister’s tremendous contribution to wild landscaping. I will do regular meditation and medicinal walks among the plants and record observations of native plants, vegetable gardens, berry and grape, herbal medicinal and culinary discoveries here. At the same time, I will record new insect pollinators including the monarch butterfly and bird discoveries. I always love a natural world mystery and I wasn’t disappointed today. This morning, I walked down the hilly driveway to build my leg muscles. I am recovering from a degenerative health breakdown of my immune system. It is complicated. On the positive side I can handle what is coming my way knowing  that I am not on dialysis or suffering with cancer at this time in my life. Anything other than these two categories I am grateful to say that Grace is guiding me in acceptance of impending health issues and end of life quality of life issues and independence.

There is enough time to share about the hoary vervain, fireweed,wild and domestic grapes, common mullein, four -leaf clover, heal all, and wild bergamot, lambs quarter, false indigo and possibly Culver’s root that I witnessed this morning. I saw a new species of moth. Two pink tinged moths with vanella body and white fringe around outside back wings. They were sleeping in an evening primrose flower.  Of course I need to verify the species. I don’t have my WI field guides with me and will fill in details that I find through the Internet and hopefully a visit to the library, as time permits.

UPDATE: The small and delicate pink moth is a primrose moth (Schinia florida). This was a new moth species discovery for me. I am thrilled. How appropriate. There they were sleeping in a evening primrose flower, so sweet.

I also witnessed two new small bird species, one with a yellow head the other with a yellow breast. No, they are not American finches (wild canary). Again, I am thrilled to already doing my field work here and discovering new species of plant, bird or insect. I am sure there will be wonderous surprises along the way.  I also gathered Lambs quarter and a broccoli leaf and added the greens to an organic garden fresh tomato sandwich for lunch.  Want to lower your cholesterol? Instead of using egg rich mayonnaise, try adding a spoonful of room temperature Chobani Greek yogurt. This yogurt has natural probiotics and a mix of live cultures that keep the good flora working in the digestive system. It is absolutely critical to add living culture yogurt to the diet if one is on antibiotics and other medications. I arrived in MA with a Lyme’s disease. I was bite in WI but it didn’t register because I didn’t have the classic symptoms of aching joints. Having fibromyalgia can at times camoflage symptoms. I am on antibiotics for 21 days.

I gathered wild bergamot and common mullein which are respiratory herbs. I drink a tea of these herbs for COPD. I added heal all, a general tonic and four-leaf clover which is rich in vitamin B. This was my morning medicinal tea. This evening I am making a medicinal tea of cedar leaf, a healing herb for body, mind and spirit, centering and balance. This is a well known herb used by Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa plant people of the Great Lakes region of WI. I am adding a few leaves of energizing peppermint to this mix. I found out that I need catnip a sedative or chamomoile for evenings, not an energizer, otherwise I can’t fall asleep. Since this writing, I have found Solomon’s seal which I have been looking for in WI. I am so thankful that the plants are here to greet me. It feels like old friends are welcoming me home. Early morning between 4 am and 7 am, the barred owl comes calling. I do not hear a return salutation so perhaps the owl is alone  at this time.

Be well Insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Out of sight is not not of mind

Hello Insectamonarca friends,

Well, I have been on quite a trek. I got to MA from WI after suffering a heat stroke. It had me immobilized in bed for days with chills I was too ill even to dial for help. On June 10, I journeyed over to Turtle Lake, WI, and checked into a hotel. It wasn’t the best experience. Then the shuttle took me to the airport in St. Paul, MN. I had to take two shuttles.

Caught a plane to Chicago where I had to change planes and landed in Boston where my brother-in-law picked me up. I was feeling poorly. Hadn’t eaten all day and had minimum water just to keep my mouth dry. Then the troubles started to kick in. My body shut down. Constipation, rash all over my body. My sister took me to urgent care, then emergency. I had to start a regimin to get my body working again.

I checked myself into another hotel where I could have privacy and a bathroom. All I could eat was yogurt, a cup of New England Cham Chowder, water and ginger ale. I spend days here in my room. My brother-in-law picked me up at the hotel so I could get my hair cut.

I was here to attend my niece’s wedding today and there were all kinds of preperary celebrations, none of which I could attend. I went back to the hotel, only to have a total meltdown from the excessive heat and no air conditioning at the old farm house. Then the crap hit the fan. I started to not be able to breath, I was sick to my stocmach and felt I was going to die.

I called my sister and told her I was in trouble. The front desk called and asked me if I needed help. I said, “Call an ambulence and get me oxygen. I tought I would die for sure simply because I couldn’t breath. I didn’t even have my inhaler. I have COPD which is complicated by excessive heat and humidity.

The ambulance came and the medics gave me oxygen even though I still couldn’t breath. Then I was taken to critical care where they started me on steroids to open my lungs. I received excellent care in critical care and around the clock medical attention. The unknown skin rash is suspected to be possibly linked to Lynn’s disease and infectious disease ran some blood tests to see if it is something serious. In the meantime, I was transferred to the hospital and I plan to go home tomorrow.

This was a real eye opener and I don’t beleave anything happens by coincidence. I realize I can’t live out in WI all on my own with complicated health issues now. There is more to this story. It will take me a few years I suspect to sell the house and property. Mind you, I am completely restoring my antique redroom home which I love. It won’t be a quick move. I am just starting to flutter now and it will all fall into place at the appropriate time.

Meanwhile, my niece was married at 2 pm at Holy Cross College’s Catholic Church. They are all dancing away now at Fruitland’s Museaum and grounds in Harvard, MA. I breath easy knowing I can still flutter in my imagination so I hover around all my family and friends there and know I am in good hands.

This is the reason I haven’t written for wahile. I am now transforming into the next stage of my life. If my friends are reading this Blog, know that I am healing and doing Tai chi and Yoga even here in the hospital. I can always find a quite corner to BE.

Be happy Insectamonarcxa friends where ever you are.

Written at Univ. of MA Hospital, Fitchburg, MA. I don’t have my reading glasses so I can’t check for typos until I go home to my sister’s farm.

Memengwaa Ikway

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