By Ian Wilson
Recently, a local mother (who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent) took a picture of her child with some berries she had recently picked. She couldn’t identify what they were. Luckily for everyone involved, my own mother managed to identify them as deadly nightshade, also known as belladonna, a highly poisonous invasive weed.
Belladonnas are members of the same family as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and petunias. They are a vine plant that grows in uncultivated yards, vacant lots, or wooded areas across the United States. They resemble pepper plants in appearance, with arrow-shaped leaves (usually with miniature leaves on either side of the larger leaf), and can grow to astounding lengths. I once eradicated one that was about 20-30 feet long! Every part of the plant is poisonous. If ingested they can cause severe gastrointestinal distress and even death. They are one of a number of poisonous weeds that might be growing right in your backyard. Here are some other common weeds you should look out for.
Poison hemlock has a mythical reputation as a poisonous plant going back thousands of years. Hemlock is a member of the carrot family and is quite deadly if ingested. It resembles the harmless wild carrot to such a degree that they are frequently mistaken for each other. Wild carrots tend to be much smaller, and have hairy stems, while hemlock is invariably smooth. So if you find a hairless, carrot-like plant in your yard or lot, don’t eat it!
Wild parsnips and cow parsnips are also members of the carrot family. They usually grow a little larger than their orange cousins and have yellow flowers rather than white. You frequently find them on roadsides and pastures in much of the rural US. Unfortunately, these plants can cause a severe rash if their juice is exposed to human skin. A single touch of a bruised leaf can cause the skin to blister. These reactions are typically temporary and last a few weeks, but it’s better to avoid them altogether. Strangely, these plants are harmless to cattle, sheep, and pigs.
Other dangerous members of the carrot family include hogweed, and it’s larger relative the giant hogweed. Hogweeds can’t be misidentified; they grow to immense heights: the giant variety growing as much as 17 feet tall! I saw one in Ohio that was well over 6 feet tall! Like the wild parsnip, hogweeds cause severe burns to exposed skin. Use extreme caution if you should find one. Contact the local department of forestry or department of agriculture to get information on extermination.
Nearly all of us have been exposed to poison ivy at one time or another. These vines typically grow in wilderness areas or at the edges of farmlands or vacant lots. They usually have shiny, arrow-shaped leaves in groups of three on the stem. These plants cause an allergic skin reaction in most people, so one should always take care in wilderness areas.
And how could we forget poison ivy’s equally annoying cousin, poison sumac? Poison sumac is named for its resemblance to sumac trees, with parallel compound leaves (multiple leaves on one stem) in a feather-like pattern. True sumacs are quite harmless. In fact, their flowers can be made into a pink, fruity-tasting tea. Poison sumacs can be identified by their oval-shaped, smooth-edges leaves. True sumacs always have toothy-edged leaves. Poison sumacs are typically found in swampy areas of the southern US.
Most of these plants have the added feature of being invasive species, meaning they also pose an environmental threat. By keeping them in check, we are doing a service to humanity and nature. There are dangers lurking even in our own backyards, but if we are aware of the risks and have all the facts, we can protect ourselves, our families, and our communities.
By T.K. Wilson
Things have been jumping at Laterose Doll Clothes and Doll Repair. Lots of people have been downsizing their collections or building up new ones and I have been in the center of it all! From Strawberry Shortcake, to My Little Pony, to the queen, Barbie herself, I have dealt with everyone from single dads to experienced collectors searching for that perfect toy. My biggest selling items were, surprisingly, Barbie. Because of Barbie’s iconic status, much has been written about her, and much has been done to provide makers with the resources to make a dream wardrobe for her. So, without further ado, here’s some history and tips on how to make for Barbie!
Barbie (introduced 1959)
The world’s most iconic fashion doll debuted on June 9th, 1959 to wild sales and acclaim. Originally priced at $3 dollars in 1959, (equal to about $21 dollars in 2009, according to Forbes) the doll changed the toy world forever. In Barbie, little girls could envision themselves as grown-ups having any job they wanted, even ones that weren’t open to them at the time, like astronauts!
Barbie has been put through the ringer of controversy and criticism over the years. From sexism to her unrealistic figure, Barbie’s biggest fans see her for what she is: a conduit for childhood fantasy. Have there been missteps? Oh, yeah, but on the whole, Barbie is and will remain an icon of innocence.
Christie (introduced 1968)
The first African American character in the Barbie world was Christie. Created in 1968, (with Julia coming the next year) she was a huge jump forward for African American girls everywhere. The first Christie had a stylish bubble-cut and could share all of Barbie’s fashions. Christie was not as fortunate as some of the other dolls, being taken in and out of the line for years. However, in the 80s and 90s, she became a well-known face in the line. At that time, each line focused on three girl dolls and at least one boy doll. Christie stuck in as one member of the Barbie/Teresa/Christie trio.
Kira (AKA Miko, introduced 1980) Replaced by Lea ( introduced 2000)
Kira was Barbie’s first Oriental friend. Kira’s name means “light” in Japanese, though she was said to be from Hong Kong. This doll proved to be hugely popular, with her pretty, pleasantly rounded face being used for several beautiful Dolls of the World dolls, including Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore, along with “Barbie and the Rockers” bass player Dana.
Sometime in 2000, Kira was retired in favor of Lea, an Asian doll with a lighter skin tone and thinner face. This is the doll you will most often see identified as Asian today.
Teresa (introduced 1988)
Barbie’s best friend is Teresa, a Latina girl. Teresa was introduced in 1988 and would get her very own face mold in 1990. Teresa proved a huge hit, being marketed alongside Barbie and Christie throughout the 90s. In every line, you would find Barbie in pink, Christie in blue or green, and Teresa in orange, all equals. She followed her bestie to stardom, “starring” as the Fairy Queen in “Barbie of Swan Lake” and made an appearance in every movie after that, sometimes as helper, sometimes as sister, sometimes as friend.
Teresa was my favorite Barbie character growing up. She was more interesting to me than the plain vanilla looks of Barbie. Who wanted to be the blonde, I would scoff, when you could have this glamorous dark/red hair?
Now, we have some wonderful links to where you (yes, you!) can find vintage fashions for your period Barbie dolls.
From the Internet Archive:
And from designer Hilde Fuchs:
This young lady has some very lovely patterns for MODERN Barbie
**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.