I especially think of Aunt Sarah and Mary Reynolds in winter when it is storytelling time. Photo: Aunt Mary, Mother and Father, Aunt Sarah.

familyWinters were chilly in the old white, wooden, two-story home, at 69 Oak Street, in Saratoga Springs, New York. In the 1830’s, Irish immigrants lived on the west side of Saratoga Springs, NY, and called it Dublin. The Irish were stone cutters or masons, and bricklayers. According to Hoofing It, the style of the house bears a resemblance to those built in 1870. The home had a white picket fence and trimmed shrubs across the front, which privatized the property. Photo: My grandmother, Isabelle Reynolds-Ryall with her children on the front porch at 69 Oak Street.


The kitchen was a favorite room in winter because it was warm. The windows steamed up when the old stove was on. Thin cotton curtains hung from the sunny windows. Yellow painted wooden chairs surrounded the table, and we  plopped ourselves in, around a rickety old table. Our aunts served us warm tea and Freihofer’s toast that scented the air with honey, melted butter, cinnamon, and homemade grape jelly. We always took evaporated milk and sugar in tea. Most of the cousins remember this fondly.


Our aunts did not change with the seasons, nor did they participate in modern fashion. They were elder established seamstresses and proudly made their clothes. In their younger years, their careers consisted of working in the garment industry in New York City. In later life, Aunt Sarah had a seamstress office at the Grand Union Hotel. In later life, dresses they wore were always dark and long. Aunt Sarah snuffed the modern world. The aunts took pride in their unique culture. They wore heeled dress shoes. Aunt Mary’s hair was abundant, and I loved the look of her wavy, tousled, and bouncy grey hair. Aunt Sarah’s straight hair was the color of brown tea, and I suspected she colored it.

Photo: Aunt Sarah and Mary most likely outside of the textile company where they worked in New York City.

Aunt Sarah was formal and strict. I loved her, but she didn’t smile much outside of her dry humor. Aunt Mary was happy and childlike in her wonderment. She found joy in just about everything. Aunt Mary would exuberantly say when we sisters rang the front door, “Oh my, the girls are here!” I remember one night I was sleeping with Aunt Mary in a small bedroom on a single bed. She was making animal faces on the wall, and I became scared. Aunt Sarah cautioned her to stop teasing me. I was so frightened that I ran into Aunt Sarah’s front bedroom and hopped into her double bed and spent the night. The bed was placed in the middle of the room, which enabled her to make the bed.

Our aunts thought that young girls should sit quietly in a chair and learn to knit, crochet, and sew. My sister could sit contentedly for hours, with yarn or thread, working on a project. I was miserable and hated every moment of the torture. After a while, my aunts would give up, and set me free to wander into the back shed to explore the tools, hats, and garden baskets. After my fill, I went outside into the gardens. I just had to be outdoors; I was restless as a child.

I remember seeing broken egg shells in the vegetable garden and learned early on about composting and organic gardening. There was a lovely grape arbor in the backyard, near the clothesline. Our aunts were proud of the grapes they grew, and the grape jelly they made was the best I ever tasted.

Photo: My grandmother Isabelle Reynolds-Ryall in the garden at 69 Oak Street, Saratoga Springs, New York.


One day, Aunt Sarah showed me a plant with heart-shaped pink flowers and a white tip, which held a bead of water. She asked, “Do you know the name of this flower?” I answered, “No.” As I recall, my aunt said, The plant is called Sweet William and named after your father, sweet William. I have always loved the tale.

Photo: Bleeding Heart.


On rainy days, one of my aunts would hand me a missionary magazine, and I would go into the formal parlor and spread out on the floor to enjoy looking at the people from Africa and reading about them and the missionaries. I don’t think it odd that I chose to volunteer for a Catholic Mission in Latin America when I was young. I think the suggestion came long, long, ago.

A green bus went by the house and used to stop for my aunt Mary and I. We went shopping at the A & P because they had special offers. One time they were giving plate sets away if you bought evaporated milk. Aunt Mary would pick up a dish or table setting such as a creamer every week. Now I have the last of the set. A plate, bowl, and creamer are the last pieces. I remember the memories every time I pick one up and use it.

plate Aunt Mary (1)

Photo: Last of Aunt Sarah and Mary’s everyday plates.

One evening, the telephone rang at my family’s home, at 40 Madison Street. Aunt Sarah had suffered a stroke. It happened late in the evening, and Aunt Mary didn’t want to call anyone in the middle of the night. The didn’t have a telephone at the time. The next morning, Aunt Mary went next door to call a doctor. That evening, I learned about the stroke and slept with a photo of my Aunt Sarah under my pillow. I kissed the photograph and prayed that she would get better. In the meantime, I had a difficult time falling asleep. I was troubled by what happened to my Aunt Sarah and didn’t know what it meant, except something awful had happened, and life would never be the same again.

A few days went by before the next thing happened. I remember following my father and Aunt Mary down into the cellar at 69 Oak Street. It was surprising to find a Grotto to our Blessed Mother down in the basement. The cellar walls were stone like the Grotto. There was a root cellar stocked with colorful glass jars of canned vegetables, fruit, and jelly from the abundant gardens. A few days later, my dad and his brothers Owen and Ralph put in a gas stove in the back living room, near the dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. They were getting the house ready for Aunt Sarah to come home from the hospital.

Before the warmth of the gas stove in the middle room, I used to sleep on a horsehair couch in the formal front parlor in winter. Heavy drapes separated the hall and the formal front room. The furniture was firm and itchy. It was hard to settle down as a child with something irritating my skin. A framed print called The Whistling Boy hung from the wall. Rudolph Eickemeyer was the photographic artist. Campbell Art Company, Fifth Avenue, New York City sold the painting in 1901. A coated plate of saved stamps decorated a plate on the piano, odd that no-one played the piano? A colorful blooming red, waxy leaf, begonia cheered up the room. A small stand held a photo of a young man. Once I asked Aunt Sarah who he was? The best I can remember, she mentioned, he was my uncle and died long ago. Only recently, I learned from the family tombstone that our aunts had a brother, Owen Joseph Reynolds. He was born on January 19, 1881, and passed away on January 31, 1898. The place of death and attending doctor were not listed. I question, how did he die?

After Aunt Sarah came home from the hospital, I went to the house to visit. She was always busy now taking care of her sister in the back living room. I sat on the couch near Aunt Sarah’s bed. She didn’t speak now. She was pretty crippled up, and her hand was listless. She would pick up her hand, and kiss it. I know she was telling her body that she loved it even if her hand was purposeless now. After all, she was a seamstress and once depended on her hands. Little by little, I didn’t go over to the house as frequently. I tried, but it became sad for me. After Aunt Sarah died, on March 27, 1961, something changed in Aunt Mary. I still went over to stay with her because she was alone. Aunt Mary kept to herself now and would go up and down the stairs in search of something. As a child, I believed she went upstairs to visit Aunt Sarah. A child’s imagination can run wild.

In closing, I want to share one last tale about a 5-pound glass jar of honey. It was on sale one week at the A & P. Before Aunt Sarah became ill, Aunt Mary, and I lugged it home on the bus. Aunt Sarah said, “What are we going to do with 5 pounds of honey?” She always thought Aunt Mary was extravagant and teased her. In her gay manner, Aunt Mary said something like, “Oh it will be used up one way or another.” I loved Aunt Mary and her generous heart. She was a lot of fun. Mary Reynolds died May 17, 1969. I will always remember my aunts with love. They were the cornerstone of my childhood.

Source:  (Burke’s Funeral Notices: ID 1976 – James Owen Ryall, Jan 31, 1898, 17 years, 17 days old, page 239.)

Family tombstone was designed by Owen James Reynolds and his daughters Sarah and Mary.

copyright text and photographs Mary Ellen Ryall


Joe Bonamassa and Other Company

joe bonamassa

August 15, 2017 – I attended the Joe Bonamassa concert at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York. The ticket cost was $166 and was worth every penny. It was a balcony seat. There was a fat man that would have been next to me, but I concentrated on having space around me, and I took my place one seat away. I didn’t have to sit next to the fat man. No one sat on my left or right. Rejoice, Sacred Space.

stevie-ray-vaughan-for-radio-bdc-1050x700  Reese Wynans was the keyboard player.  Wynans joined Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble in 1985, playing keyboards on Soul to Soul and In Step and played with the band until Stevie Ray Vaughn’s tragic death in 1990. Vaughn was my all time favorite guitar blues player and his voice was something. I still miss him. Back in 1993, a black bus driver introduced me to Vaughn’s music. One day I got on the local bus in Lusby, Maryland, and the bus driver handed me a CD saying, “He’s the only white boy that can play the blues.” He was right. I thought of the bus driver tonight even though I don’t remember his name. He wasn’t the only person I thought of.

According to Joe Bonamassa’s Website, Anton Fig is one of New York’s most in-demand session drummers and has spent the last 29 years as the drummer for David Letterman’s house band on the NBC and CBS networks. Fig is one of America’s most widely-heard musicians and has racked up an impressive session resume playing on albums by Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Rosanne Cash, Joe Cocker, and Ronnie Spector. During his Letterman years, Fig recorded or performed live with such legends as James Brown, Eric Clapton, Miles Davis, and B.B. King. As a freelance drummer, he has played with Paul Simon and also in the house band for Bob Dylan’s historic 30th Anniversary concert celebration.

I wish you could have heard him play tonight. I have never heard anyone play drums like him. Believe me; I have known the best such as Chico Hamilton. It was thrilling to hear Anton’s versatility and power. The rhythms were extraordinary and carried me away.

Michael Rhodes is a bassist. Some of the musicians he’s played with include Mark Knopfler, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Elton John, Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, and even the hottest star in the entire music industry, Taylor Swift. Rhodes is a fantastic bassist and played like a jam session with Bonamassa.

Lee Thornburg is a trumpeter. You can hear Thornburg’s past work with Bonamassa on four of his #1 Billboard releases, including Live at the Royal Albert Hall, the Grammy-Nominated album Seesaw with Beth Hart, Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks, and Live at Radio City Music Hall.

Paulie Cerra is a versatile and dynamic Saxophone player. He has played with Stevie Wonder, Kirk Franklin, Lucky Peterson, Luther Allison, Little Milton, Bobby Bland, Billy Preston and Jimmy Johnson. Cerra joined Joe’s band earlier this year and you can hear him on the #1 Billboard Blues release Live at Radio City Music Hall.

These musicians are the world’s best. The music lifted me up and beyond an earthly experience. I felt like I ascended to the cosmos. I thought of old friends who had already walked on and those who I used to play with in my twenties, and the gay times we had when we were young and reckless.

I remembered Michael R., and it felt like I was dancing with him again at Michael’s. Back then, we were in our 20s. Michael was a system design engineer, and I was a clerical training instructor for Digital Equipment Corporation in Maynard, MA. Sadly, Michael, at 61 years old, died Friday, April 24, 2009, at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Massachusetts.

I am so glad there is life beyond this planet, and we can still dance in the stars for time immortal. Energy never dies. It changes and that is OK. Our minds are a wonderful thing and if we hang on to great memories, we are blessed.

In this natural high state, I felt like I was among friends around a campfire and we danced. I remember having a shawl on. Mind you; I lost my shawl tonight. I must have got distracted when I came out of the Gideon Putnam and saw all the fire trucks. The door man, asked me if I was looking for a cab? I said yes, and he escorted me to the waiting cab. I must have lost my shawl in the confusion in front of the historical hotel.

The driver Fred was such a gentleman. He is a gambler and likes the horses and cards. I told him about my time with Henry who knew the horses because he worked with them for 30 years. In 2014, Henry and I bet on American Pharoah and we won the Triple Crown. After the race in Saratoga Springs, when American Pharoah lost, Henry passed away. I went down to the garden where the waterfall is and cried like a baby. I liked Henry and he gave me a thrill by teaching me about racing. Then I lost my thrill. I had to find something else that gave me a high so I started learning about the Stock Market with Jim Cramer. I study it daily with Mad Money. So far I am doing OK. I know it could change in a blink. That is why I study it daily.

At the concert, while I was in a natural high, In my imagination, I saw my friend Sandy S. She is precious to me, and it made me tear up realizing how much I miss her. I miss the ceremonies we used to perform. We used to dance around in a circle and chant the Water Ceremony song Nibi Wabo. These times were sacred and oh how I miss them. Time is moving so fast. I feel like a space traveler.

Listen to Joe at
You Better Watch Yourself. Love this blues. Blow me away! I am wild about the keyboarder Arlan Oscar Schierbaum, although he didn’t play tonight. This piece Dislocated Boy reminds me of Michael more than any other.

I miss my blazing fire pit at my former home in Minong, WI. How I loved those times. Seeing the lightning bugs and listening to the night critters and the tree frogs. The wolves used to yap and yell, and I loved it. I miss my wild country. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t make her a total city girl. My wild side still calls, and Joe called it up again tonight.

I normally don’t write about events like this, but this was such an alive moment for me. Just as a final note. I grieved for Michael for several days and felt his presence close, and He has walked on now.

Memories Submerged in a Poem

by Mary Ellen Ryall

My grandmother, Ann Veronica Sullivan, was a live-in housekeeper and cook to Margaret and Josephine Harrington, retired high school teachers. Josephine had been the principal, and Margaret taught English. In 1956, I was in the eighth grade and attended St. Peter’s Academy, on Broadway, in Saratoga Springs, New York. The Catholic school was near Gram’s house at 21 Whitney Place. I could walk there at lunch time, and I used to go to Gram’s frequently from home too.

One winter day, I scampered up the steep back stairs to visit Margaret. She was silently sitting at a card table looking out the bay window. I glanced outside too. She was reverently in thought as she gazed at the newly fallen snow that blanketed the branches of an old spruce tree. The setting was both peaceful and calming, and then Margaret began to recite the first lines of The First Snowfall by James Russell Lowell, 1819 – 1891.

Every pine, and fir, and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an Earl
And the poorest twig on the Elm tree
was ridged inch deep with pearl.

The poem of the snow and a recent snow storm suggested that sweet time, at the beloved 1891 Victorian home, at 21 Whitney Place. The large front parlor had a marble-topped table that proudly displayed a clock that chimed, and I fell into a meditative mood just hearing the soothing tones. The house was silent with Persian rugs. The back parlor included a wall lined bookcase that housed books that my sister and I could borrow. What a privilege. The rooms were elegant to a young person who had nothing. There was no fancy furniture at my house. My parent’s bedroom had tacky nylon patterned curtains. They looked cheap. My small bedroom was painted red, loud, and uninviting. There was no privacy to speak of because the room was off the kitchen. A lot of yelling went on in the kitchen. Most family events happened around the kitchen table from early morning until night.

Gram’s house was such a joy to a young girl. The home was beautiful, and a safe place to come home to, and I was always welcome here. My home, on the other hand, was a garage apartment on Madison Street. I can’t remember one happy time there. The house was uninviting with a deep, dark, and steep stairway. At the top of the stairs was a door with a glass window and a sheer curtain, the only light that was inviting came from the kitchen. I never knew what to expect when I opened the kitchen door.

Would my mother be sitting at the kitchen table intoxicated or sober? I dreaded finding her half unconscious with a lit cigarette in her hand. I didn’t know what it was like to feel a mother’s love. Mothering felt like a betrayal to me. I couldn’t trust my mom because she was always covering up and lying to me, a child with a broken heart. She would tell me if I cleaned the house, I could go swimming with the Lenahan’s. I would clean the house, but she would always find something that was not to her liking, and at the
last moment, she would yank the swimming privilege away. It felt like bribery to me.

My sister and I cleaned our home because we wanted dad to come home to a well-maintained home. Even though I was a child, I acted like an adult. My sister and I made a game of housecleaning and sang as we worked. The weekdays seemed terribly stretched out, and I would count the days till the weekend. I was happy on Friday. Sometimes, I would excitedly wait to watch my dad drive down Madison Street in the blue and white Chevy with the tail fins. I would run home to greet him as he got out of the car. My mother was usually dressed up on Friday and sober. The deceit continued.

At the Harrington’s, I knew what to expect. The sisters lived upstairs. Margaret was petite, had a stooped back, and milky blue eyes. She took care of her sister Josephine, who was bedridden because of a stroke, which paralyzed her. Margaret was a gentle soul and never complained about being a companion to her sister. Just before noon, cautiously and slowly, Margaret climbed down the steep back stairs, holding on ever so carefully to the hand rail. She took her main meal in the sunny yellow kitchen promptly at noon. Gram and Margaret sat at the small kitchen table under an old chiming wall clock. I loved to hear the pendulum swinging and the clock chime on the hour and half hour. I sat at a side table when I joined them.

Margaret was kind to me. She was always happy to see me. I liked to spend time with her because she always had something interesting to say. We would talk about flowers, trees, and poetry. One expression, “Never a dull moment,” didn’t make sense to a 13-year-old girl, but I understand the words now and even use the phrase on occasion. Another time, she showed me a photo of a much younger Margaret and a young man. The young man was wearing a suit and hat. He stood solemnly next to Margaret. She was dressed up in a lovely white dress that went to the ankles. The setting was in Congress Park. Margaret mentioned spooning, but I didn’t know what the word meant back then.

The Victorian home was always pristine and perfectly arranged with furniture settings. The muted silk Damask light green Victorian carved couch was against the wall, and embroidered smaller chairs made up a sitting area. No one used the downstairs rooms. Gram cooked on an old black stove that used coal. The delicious smells that radiated from the kitchen made my mouth water. Gram made the best cakes and pies from scratch. I was often hungry when I arrived there. My grandmother was a professional cook.

After several years of service, the house became too large for Gram to manage. Now that I was old enough, she hired me to come on Saturday mornings to dust and vacuum. I loved the job.  Grandmother taught me housekeeping skills. A curio cabinet in the front parlor was dear to Margaret, and at times she allowed me to dust the delicate figurines inside. Each was a gift from former students.

On dusting days, I earned a $1.00 from Gram. Then I would go upstairs and receive another $1.00 from Margaret. She would take a book from the bookshelf, open a page, and pull out a crisp dollar bill. My gram and I were not the only workers. There was also a yard man who took care of the property and the outside of the house.

At the time, the Harrington’s house was painted yellow with brown trim. Gram always had time for me, even if she was washing dishes, she paid attention to me. I would chatter away about classes at St. Peter’s or about a school dance that my friend Susan and I attended on Saturday evenings. Gram would smile at me as she worked. Meanwhile, I dried the dishes, bowls, and platters, and put them away in the China pantry. The contrast between Gram and my mother was something. Mom led her chaotic life, and I didn’t find nurturing there.

Gram’s house, this is what we called it; I felt safe, it was a haven to a young girl. Gram was also safe here. Work kept her sober. When she occasionally came to visit my mother or babysit us, kids, she too would drink beer and become someone else. I remember my brother Billy and I would hide the beer bottles in the dryer. One time, we put soap suds in a bottle of beer. Gram became furious with us. We ran away and hid until it was safe to return. By then, Gram was intoxicated and drowsy. It was heartbreaking to witness. I separated her into two people. One who was sober and this was the Gram I loved and prayed for. The other was a person I did not even recognize. It was such a contrast.

At the Harrington’s, after awhile, I started to join my grandmother at the table once reserved for Margaret. It was then I realized that Margaret wasn’t coming down the back stairs anymore. Shortly after that, I started carrying a tray of food upstairs. Like Margaret would say, “Never a dull moment.” Maybe the steps became too much for her. I felt confident that I was a help to my Grandmother with the

I would drag the monstrous vacuum cleaner down the front stairs as I vacuumed the carpeted stairs and the rooms downstairs. I also dusted the furniture. It wasn’t long before I started reading The Saratogian to Margaret, her eyes were getting bad. A teacher who could no longer read was a hardship. I remember I wasn’t a confident reader and Margaret didn’t make a fuss about it. At times, she would pronounce the words for me. I never learned phonetics. I
had to use memory.

On days when I visited my grandmother, she would hint, “Go up and see Margaret.” As a young person, I didn’t realize what a visit would mean to Margaret. My sister and I were the only outside visitors, with two exceptions. Margaret’s niece, from Ballston Spa, came each week to do the banking. Her cousin, Ed Sullivan came to visit his aunts when he was in town during the racing season. Mr. Sullivan was a mystery to me. Margaret and Gram would watch the Sunday TV broadcast, The Ed Sullivan Show, faithfully. I never met him, but quietly my grandmother would tell me after he came and visited his aunts. There are many mysteries when one is growing up.

My father bought a gentleman’s farm when I was a senior. Whisked away to the country for my last year of high school was a hardship for someone who had a life in town. I had no friends out there, and country kids were different than in-town kids. In Saratoga Springs, I could walk everywhere. Now I was stuck without transportation begging my sister or father for a ride. There were periodic visits to 21 Whitney Place, but I missed the connection to a meaningful life with Gram and Margaret. Before I knew it, I graduated from St.
Peter’s Academy in 1963. Then my grandmother retired and joined us at the farm in Rock City Falls, New York.

I did visit Margaret after my grandmother retired. Gram told me she was in the hospital for a cataract operation. Margaret said she was afraid. She had never been in a hospital before. I tried to comfort her, old enough to understand how alone she was. Then shortly after that, my grandmother told me that Margaret died in the hospital. I could see my grandmother was upset with the news and she said, “the poor dear.” I was stunned to realize that I would never see Margaret again. It was as if a chapter of my life was over, but, our journey didn’t end here.

Margaret is always with me in a mystical way. I am 72 years old now, and a large white pine is visible from my dining area window, and I remember Margaret and the poem.

Death and Bereavement
The First Snow-Fall
James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

The snow began in the gloaming
and busily all the night
had been heaping hill and highway
with a silence deep and white.

Every pine, fir, and hemlock
wore ermine too dear for an Earl
and the poorest twig on the Elm tree
as ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new roofed with Carrara
Came Chanticleer’s muffled crow
The stiff rails were softened to swan’s down
And still muffled down the snow.

I stood and watched at the window,
The noiseless work of the sky
and the sudden flurry of snowbirds
Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
Saying, “Father, who makes it snow?”
And I told of the good All-father
Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snow-fall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o’er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.

I remember the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing, and hiding
The scar of our deep-plunged woe.

And again to the child, I whispered,
“The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall!”

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow.

What spring means to me

2014-11-27 11.08.03April 12, the weather changed to warmer temperatures. This year is different though.

Normally I would feel my heart gladden with rebirth of life on the planet, but this spring has been more solemn. The passing of my friend has sobered me. I had given my friend the name Makwa ikwe. She said she was bear totem. My friend was in my life for the briefest of time. She give me an important message, “Slow down.”

I have come through the long hard winter and this spring I came out of hibernation alone, but with a message to live by and I honor my friend by remembering.

Wrote in memory of Lanise Coats who came into my life to connect as Kindred Friend and we made the very most of it. Blessings. Celebration of Life, April 25, One Roof, 433 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, New York.

Five Wesley residents and staff were there to pay tribute to a gifted Ascended Spirit.

Sometimes I have to wonder where my mind goes

Gideon PutnamIf you only knew how frustrating it can be to know a computer application one day and then the next don’t know why you can’t download photos from your iPhone. I had some great shots of a day trip yesterday to the Automobile Musuem in Saratoga Springs (SAM), New York. We also had a lovely lunch at Gideon Putnam Hotel, also in the Saratoga State Park.  We met with Brandon, the curator of museum. He is young and oh so knowledgable. The tour and transportation were arranged by the Saratoga Springs Senior Center. I didn’t think I would be interested in the exhibit so much, but it turned out it was thrilling. This is where history comes alive. I didn’t even know that New York State produced automobiles before yesterday.

I was mistakingly trying to download photos from my charger. What was I thinking? I had to walk away from the project and when I returned to my home office, I realized I had to connect my iPhone to laptop to download photos. But then it was too late. I had become so upset with my inability to do a simple task that I deleted all the photos from iPhone. It may be embarassang, but I have to take my own bitter medicine. After all I am 69 years old and I was wondering if I had dementia? See what I mean. I really felt I had lost all my marbles.

According to Saratoga Automobile Museum (SAM), New York State was once home to over 100 different automobile manufacturers. While most New York automakers were small, there were great successes like the Pierce Arrow and the Franklin. This exhibit provides an in-depth look at the automobile industry in New York State and a look back in time at the innovations of different New Yorkers in their quest to create the automobile of their dreams. It also examines New York’s role in importing European-made cars and custom-coach building. In the past, I have attended International Automobile Shows in New York City and I have always loved the Pierce Arrow. To see a Pierce Arrow in my own home town was exciting.

The present museum is located in the Sararoga Springs Bottling Plant.

SAM’s Website goes on to say, In response to the Great Depression, the US Government initiated programs to revitalize the economy. Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his first year as governor of New York, pushed for the establishment of a state operated spa that celebrated the natural riches found in Saratoga water. Saratoga may have lost its bottling plant, but I am still drinking mineral water from Saratoga Mineral Springs and loving the renewed vitality I feel. I believe it has lowered my blood pressure because I now have normal readings.

Now I am back swimming again along the digital highway, but lost the nuggets and photos of yesterday. I will need to retrace my steps to the museum come spring and photograph another story then. Elders if you are reading this, take heart. All thngs are solved in time.

A tree through history

It all started as a child. I used to go to Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, New York, to sled. My father knew how much Saratoga memories meant to me as I grew older and worked afar. In 1982, he took pictures of Union Avenue where canna arrangements line the avenue in August. At the bordor of Circular Drive on Congress Park and Union Avenue there was always a spectacular flower arrangement. Often it was shaped like a horseshoe, or words would have been spelled out in flowers. Always a stunner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne photo I looked at yesterday showed the trees that stood directly behind the arrangement. They were there to provide a privacy screen for the park and the road that went no where in front Canfield Museum. Last week I was riding on a local bus and while I was talking to a young Skidmore student who knew tree chemistry, the bus driver Pat said, I have a tree story.

He said, “I was driving along Circular Street when I noticed a piece of a pine tree that was cut down. It called to me. It was shaped like a heart.” He continued,  “I asked a young man on the bus to get off and get it for me. The piece is now under a seat. I want you to take the piece home. I am supposed to give it to you today.” At first I declined, but then I realized it meant something to not only the driver, but that it had a message for me also.

seed bombYou see, I had a sacred tree long ago in the foreest in Southern Maryland. It was in a Chesapeake Ranch Estates, in Lusby.  Tia, my dog, and I used to walk the horse trail a few times a week. Within this forest was the sacred tree. I won’t write about it now or this story will be too long.

Anyway, I took a beautuful part of a branch that fell from the tree. I loved the virgin wood that was exposed. The fragrant wood ended up being part of an alter that I maintained in Minong, WI. The tree always spoke to me. Tia and I would go visit the tree, before the branch fell. It was a large tulip tree and was burned by lightening fire long, long ago. This had significance for me because it meant that the medicine of the tree was strong. In Southern Maryland, after I brought it home, I kept it under a shed out of the rain, wind, and snow. There was no place in that house to display it. The house in Minong, WI, however, had a fireplace mantel and it was here where I placed the beautiful shaped wood and set up my alter and lit a candle in the morning to do morning offering.

The Eno River in full bloom.When it became time to leave Wisconsin in 2012, I knew where I was moving to had no place for the alter. I had to leave it behind, along with several other sacred objects. I won’t name them. I took the wooden alter and sacred objects to a place near my home where several women and I would get together and do sacred water cememony. This was a sacred site to me and no one knew of it, expect those I brought there. It was here I did my last Water Ceremony and bid goodbye in the last ceremony. I placed the alter here among the sand dunes and Jack pine that was moving in. These sacred objects had been part of my life in Venezuela and Peru. These were objects that I carried with me after I no longer lived in South America. They had been part of my life since the 1970s.

In Saratoga Springs, I don’t have a sacred wooden alter. This wood is about the right size to place on a wide window ledge. Once again I will have sacred wood around me. I can smell the beautiful scent of pine in my bedroom now as the wood ages. In January, I will give it to a woman who’s husband is a master workworker. He wll sand it down and put a light protective coat on it.

Isn’t it amazing how Creator comes to us and offers something that is highly significant to each of us? I am honored to know this young man, Pat, the bus driver and to know he recognized the importance of the story, even though he hasn’t heard anything about why.

Spic and Spac at Congress Park Saratoga Springs NY

Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home,” but if you are from Saratoga Springs, New York, this is completely untrue. Saratoga has a heartbeat all her own. I have always known her to be the grand lady that she is. Oh she’s been around for ages and has known fame throughout her ageless majesty. 2014-10-14 10.18.242014-10-14 10.17.382014-10-14 10.17.502014-10-14 10.37.132014-10-14 10.24.36Today, I walked in Congress Park, getting off the bus at Spring and Putnam. The Italian Renaissandce Gardens with Spic and Spac water spouting sculptures have been spitting water since I was a child and they are still going full steam. What a joy. I purposely walked over the them because my friend Ruthie Masetta Hillman and I remember sunbathing by the stream with the water spraying sculptures in the background. I could even remember the sound of the water being the same.

What a beautiful job DPW is doing at Congress Park. A nice gentleman came up to talk. He was in the landscaping business for 30 years. Now he enjoys protecting the park and all its gardens. There is a pond with Saratoga ducks and they still remain or return to this pond, even after 50 years. I even saw some forget-me-nots growing. My sister and I remember them growing along the creek. Than I saw a sleeping fuzzy black and rust banded wooly bear caterpillar that turns into a Isabella Tiger moth. Oh he’ll be around all winter sleeping under a bed of leaves before emerging as a moth next spring.

It is so precious to me to be back with my beloved. I can’t wait to call Ruthie and share the photos for her to see.

Saratoga Springs New York then and now

For the past 27 years, I have been estranged from my home town, home to my genealogy:  Great-Great Grandfather William Ryall, my Great Grandfather William Ryall, Grandfather James Ryall, My father William Alfred Ryall and mother Mary Rose Sullivan and our family of four children. My parents are gone now and like the prodigal son, I went full circle to the place of my birth and first 18 years of my life. I returned to memories, my heart, preservation, elegance, tradition and beauty. Saratoga Springs is a crown jewel in the league of fame and fortune.

Oran2-S.V_1 by Regis Brodie

Oran2-S.V_1 by Regis Brodie

My cousin Jim and wife Stephanie gave me two stunning pieces of pottery. One was made by my Aunt Pat. She has had a brilliant pottery and ceramic career over the years. She studied under Regis Brodie who permitted her to work on her craft in his art studio at Skidmore College. Matter of fact, he encouraged her to come.

The piece I have is a blue bowl that was crafted by using my Great Aunt Sarah and Mary’s doilies of intricate pineapple shapes. Aunt Pat stated that she made a paste like dough that she pressed the doily on.. Then she rolled the shape out to a flat sheet, which was somehow incorporated into the pottery. I feel like I have a intricate art piece that has my own family’s history in it. I  Sarah and Mary Renolds, my great aunts, were outstanding seamstresses, who at one time worked in the garment district of New York City. You can learn about Regis Brodie, the other famous potter at

Sunday morning, Jimmy and I watched as hundreds of Canada geese flew over North Broadway in the biggest migration formation I have ever seen in my life. Later in the day, my sister, her husband and I saw thousands of Canada geese resting in the large reservoir. Jimmy lives on land that goes right to the edge of the pristine reservoir.  It is gorgeous to see beautiful water and forest, which was carpeted in oak leaves and a sporadic bright green ground-cover. To hear the sound of thunderous wings fluttering and geese honking, was to witness the power sounds of nature’s force in action. On reflection, it was a wonderful prayer I was honored to see and hear.

Marketing and Events specialist in So. MD promoting my book

Marketing and Events specialist in So. MD promoting my book.

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.

Will I go full circle?

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