Category Archives: folklore and ethnography

The Monday Book: WICKED PLANTS by Amy Stewart

I enjoyed this way more than my friends enjoyed watching me read it. Made them nervous for some reason.

Scare your friends!

The book is a catalogue of plants, categorized in a fairly random order that makes for great reading. Each plant or family of plants has descriptions and short stories about how people found out they were poisonous and/or what they did once they found out.

Not all the plants are deadly. At the small tabs at the top of the page one finds categorizations of dangerous, illegal, invasive, and intoxicating, among others.

My personal favorite was probably Jimson Weed, which grows around here. Apparently when the colonists first arrived and didn’t have good enough sense to ask the indigenous people what was good to eat, they ate Jimson Weed leaves, plus roots pounded into flour. This gives you one very interesting high before it either kills you or renders you incoherent for a few days.

So once they figured out which leaves they should not eat, well, knowledge like that should not go to waste when the next invaders show up… yep. Colonists fed Jimson Stew to the British soldiers housed in their homes. Poor sods went crazy more than went lights out, though. Perhaps the colonists were merciful, or maybe they couldn’t find enough to finish them off. But the soldiers were recalled for medical reasons.

Many other stories are included. This is not a narrative book, but a series of short stories wrapped in information. Also, I had no idea how many wicked weeds grow in desert climates. It’s true that everything out there is trying to kill you.

Highly recommended – and if you want to scare people, leave it on your kitchen table when you have friends over.

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Filed under book reviews, crafting, folklore and ethnography, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table

Where Have all the Flowers Gone

Jack with the Wednesday guest post – –

I’m very slow to anger (as Wendy will testify) but I am angry today.

The school shooting in Texas is just the latest of many here in the US that always take me back to 1996 and the Dunblane event in Scotland where 16 small children were killed plus their teacher. Following this the UK government introduced a ban on private ownership of guns except in very regulated circumstances. This law passed easily despite an objection from now Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said then “nanny confiscating toys”!

I was a teacher at the time, in a local community college, and had no fear that anyone with a gun would come in and threaten my students, even as the tragedy of the day unfolded.

But the Governor of Texas says the answer is to arm the teachers!! Of course he is heavily financially backed, like many others, by the gun makers in the guise of the NRA. Their marketing ploy is to appeal to the ‘frontier spirit’ and the 2nd amendment as well as pushing any conspiracy theory that helps.

In the words of Pete Seeger – “when will we ever learn?”

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Filed under between books, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch