Written and images on this blog are Judie Ryan's sole property unless otherwise indicated.

Friday, October 6, 2017


 So, I've been telling you all about poison ivy and oak, I look out my window and there's a red and orange vine climbing up a tree in the backyard. I walk out thinking it's going to be poison ivy, but no, it's got leaves of five. It's Virginia Creeper, which is an invasive species like kudzu. It is gorgeous, but it takes over as shown on the house below. Sometimes it's called a wall--a Virginia Creeper wall. Like Kudzu it will kill every plant it climbs. When it's Fall it is a gorgeous red, but most of the time it is green. Some people that might be allergic to it, might get irritated skin, but it's not as bad as poison ivy or oak. However, the plant does get blue berries, that might make kids and pets want to eat it. The bad part about the berries is that they are toxic to humans and animals. I guess the lady in the house below never had kids or pets.
The house looks so gorgeous covered in red Virginia Creeper, it almost makes you want to plant it. It looks like its covered in red Poinsetta.
This is what green Virginia Creeper looks like. Note it's creeping on a vine. And obviously the leaves look a lot like other plants. Huh?
These are the Virginia Creeper berries that are poisonous to humans and animals.

This Boston Ivy also turns red in the fall and makes a red wall. It has leaves of three, very similar to poison ivy. You might want to compare the leaves.Boston Ivy is just as invasive as Virginia Creeper and Kudzu. Its leaves are not likely to be poisonous, but as with most ivy, its berries are toxic to humans and animals. To discover other ordinary plants that might be toxic to your domestic pets, see doghealth.com with a section Poisonous Plants for Dogs.

It's hard to see that this Virginia Creeper has five leaves in each single"leaf" in a Virginia Creeper Wall. The wall is so thick with leaves that you can barely separate one from another. In reality the red is as red as that on the Boston Ivy wall above. But these two photos give you chance to compare the two plants.

Monday, October 2, 2017


I'd like to let my viewers know why I missed some posts with larger gaps between them. Last night we couldn't find our grey tabby with white paws, aptly named Mittens by my daughter. After five hours of looking for him and him not showing for dinner or treats, we found him lying in the cat box.  He looked happy and alert, but wouldn't come out by himself. We lifted him out gave him a cuddle and put him down. He raced off and hid in another remote place. It turns out he had tear in his abdominal wall, like a huge hernia, with his intestines and other organs pushing through it. Nothing showed on the outside. We think our animals are part of the family, so we had his problem corrected surgically. As of this afternoon, the doctor says he has the best possible outcome. We are very happy. He is one of the sweetest cats ever. Sometimes life happens.


A common and important memory reminder is "Leaves of three. Poison be." Teach your child to recognize those leaves of three as young as you possibly can. The leaves are sharp and pointy

Thank wikimedia commonss for
all the photos shown here.

Here's how the leaves of three look in the woods or your back garden
Shiny. Pretty. Notice that there are different kinds of poison ivy.

In addition to the gorgeous vivid red fall color in my first post about poison ivy. It also comes in luscious orange and fabulous yellow this fall.

And don't think just because you can't see leaves that you can't catch it anymore. "Oh fun! Monkey vines. Let's tear it loose from the tree and swing on it." No, monkey vines are different. This is how poison ivy looks after the foliage is gone. It's usually furry if that helps. Sometimes it never gets leaves again. But everyone I know stays away from it anyway.

There are other poisonous leaves of three. This is Poison Oak. Also shiny and pretty, but they look more like everyday oak leaves that aren't poison, but grow on trees. The leaves are similar to poison ivy, but rounded not pointy.

Poison oak is just as seductive with color change in the fall as poison ivey, but it can produce the same horrendous rash and blisters as poison ivy.

Monday, September 25, 2017


I remembered, when I read the article I recently posted on this blog, that a number of years ago our direct neighbor on the West side, killed his grass with chemicals, so that he could get rid of every single weed. Very soon after using chemicals next door, my daughter broke out in vicious hives all over her body. I called her pediatrician and explained. I told them I'd closed every window and door in the house. They said: It will get in no matter what you do, just as shown in the article. So I thought I'd send you a few more choices someone sent me:


I know it'd easier to click over, but if you want to see them, including an article from the American Academy of Pediatrics, just cut and paste. This is about how my daughter looked all over.

Thank you Wikimedia Commons 

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Studies Link Canine Cancers to Lawn Chemicals


Lawn chemicals, particularly, ones containing 2,4-D, have been linked to at least two types of canine cancers. Studies found that lawn chemicals travel to neighboring yards and inside homes, and chemicals have been found in the urine of dogs whose owners did not spray their lawns. The authors of the studies state how their findings can be used to further research on human cancers. 

six-year study from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine linked lawn pesticides to canine malignant lymphoma (CML). Based on questionnaire results from dog owners, the study found “specifically, the use of professionally applied pesticides was associated with a significant 70% higher risk of CML. Risk was also higher in those reporting use of self-applied insect growth regulators.”
A different study with similar methods discovered that herbicides also contribute to canine malignant lymphoma. The study found that herbicides containing 2,4-D doubled the risk of CML when dog owners used 2,4-D four or more times per year. 

2013 study concluded 2,4-D herbicides and other lawn chemicals make the risk of canine bladder cancer “significantly higher.” Certain breeds, including Beagles, Scottish Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs, West Highland White Terriers, and Wire Hair Fox Terriers are more susceptible due to a genetic predisposition to bladder cancer. Exposure to the chemicals can come from ingestion, inhalation, or contact with skin, and the amount of time needed to restrict pets from a sprayed area has not been determined.

Another study found herbicide 2,4-D contaminants inside and throughout homes both prior to and after outdoor application. The study is evidence that pets absorb and track lawn chemicals, and lawn chemicals travel from their intended targets. The study concluded “removal of shoes at the door and the activity level of the children and pets were the most significant factors affecting residue levels indoors after application.” 

Monday, September 18, 2017


No, not the supervillain of DC Comics fame. The beautiful fall red leaf that attracts many an unknowing hiker. I'll never forget the FALL HIKE WITH A PARK RANGER FOR TODDLERS I took when Julia was about 18 months. We were going to go on a fall walk and pick leaves to make a wreath, all under the supervision of a park ranger. Lots of parents and kids came and we all followed the ranger down the dirt path into the colorful woods. Now, I grew up about half my childhood on my grandmother's farm  We hiked all the time. I knew that poison ivy was the most beautiful and colorful leaf in the forest, but as evil as Batman's sometimes nemesis, Poison Ivy.

As every child and parent was drawn to its lovely color to pick for their fall wreaths, I waited for the ranger to point out the dangerous plant. She didn't, and I have no idea what would have happened if I hadn't called out to the ranger and said, "Don't you think you should teach them about poison ivy?"
She finally showed them what it looked like and told them not to touch it.

This is how poison ivy can look, all over your body. Close up and
far away on your legs.

 Not only does it itch like crazy, it's contagious. Look at the up close picture. See the watery raindrop-looking spots, if they pop and you get the juice on you, you will get poison ivy. I had a friend who didn't know much about poison ivy. So when she got some on her hands while gardening, she thought nothing of it. When she went to a square dance. Her first allemande left, broke the blisters on her hands. By the time she'd "right and left granded" she'd give everyone in her square, including her boyfriend, poison ivy and they didn't even know it until later. After every square had switched partners multiple times, you can guess what happened. More later.

Friday, September 8, 2017


Every summer when I was a kid, I was, as many kids excited, about butterflies. I saw tons at my grandmother's farm, but the first thing I noticed when moving back to Ohio was that there weren't any milkweed for them too eat and breed on. The next thing I noticed was that at my grandmother's farm I only saw one butterfly all summer. And it wasn't a Monarch, my favorite because it had a glorious yellow, white, green and black striped caterpillar. Foreseeing the worst, I was really excited when Julia's first grade teacher, Mrs. D, brought in a fish tank full of milkweed. The milkweed were in large pots of water, to keep the plant alive. Then, she started to grow monarchs for her class.

Here's an article that you might find interesting if you want your kids to see and experience the wonder of Monarch butterflies. I'll let you know what my daughter and I did with butterflies in another post  
If you want to read the original and see the live videos, see http://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/education/article171937212.html:
Monarch butterfly researcher Cheryl Schultz, a conservation biologist with Washington State University in Vancouver, recently visits the McCormack Unit of the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge as part of a study into monarch caterpillar breeding habitat. Schultz outlines results from a separate study documenting the drastic decline of Western monarch butterflies, finding there’s a good chance there will not be enough migrating monarchs to sustain the species over the next few decades. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Monarch butterflies might vanish from Tri-City summers

SEPTEMBER 07, 2017 7:22 PM