Monday, July 13, 2009

Wicked Plants

Mia had a huge day today. It was the first day of swimming lessons, and she loved it! The instructors put each of the kids in a life vest and let them swim on the other side of the dock (for anyone who's familiar with Oconto Falls East Side Beach, you know that's a huge deal!). Mia was so excited about it, she actually jumped off of the edge of the dock right into the water rather than climb down the ladder. The instructor quickly jumped in and lifted her back out when she squawked a bit because her head went under the water for just a moment. She was a little more cautious but no less enthusiastic. Jesse and I will feel a lot more confident taking her camping this year now that she'll have some actual instruction.

Her cousin Hana is spending the week at my in-laws, and Mia's decided she'd like to stay too, so I dropped her off on the way back from lessons. A couple of hours later, she called to let me know that she had lost her first tooth! It was very loose yesterday, so it's not a surprise. She was eating an apple, and it popped right out. I had to run over with the camera and take a couple of pictures.

Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart is a fascinating if slightly creepy look at poisonous and harmful plants, some that may be in your yard, house, or even in your refrigerator! First of all, I have to say I love the feel of this book. Too many publishers have forgotten that part of the joy of reading is holding the volume in your hands. Plants is a small hardcover without dust jacket with engraving on the front cover giving it the feel of a late 19th century volume; it even has a ribbon bookmark! It has a charming look inside as well with wickedly humorous engravings drawn with a delicate hand. Most people know about the hazards of deadly nightshade and monkshood, but who knew that corn and red kidney beans could cause serious illness if not cooked/handled correctly? Not all plants are necessarily hazardous to humans, also included are kudzu, killer algae, as well as plants that will make readers' skin crawl. As my librarian said, creative minds would have a hard time imagining the strangeness of Mother Nature, like silly-string look-a-like parasite dodder. Whether the plants are exploding or oozing, some of them are downright weird. One small complaint: I've always heard that apple seeds and peach pits contain arsenic, but neither are addressed in this volume. This is a book I would love to own and keep on my shelf to refer to when buying new plants or just to read aloud some of the stories to freak out friends and family.

Molly started her new job today and was amazed at how exhausted she is after a 7 hour work day on her feet! She's pretty excited about having her own income.