Hello my fellow Earthlings, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site, and thanks for being here.

I’m going to have a special All-New Ask the Experts panel for you in a minute. If you want to skip ahead to last week’s puzzler, in which I asked if this plant was real or fake:

You’re welcome to do so, but I hope you come back and read the Experts panel.

I decided to give the Experts a free week, to talk about whatever they wanted. Their answers have humbled me. They are thoughtful, insightful, intelligent and inspiring.

I’m no longer going to call answers correct or put W’s in their Win columns. This group of people I have here – my childhood friend Andy, my wonderful friend Thack, longtime friend and fellow writer EZ, fellow American Red Cross Volunteers Dottie and Lewis – they’re all winners. They win because they volunteer in their communities, have boundless Patriotism, are kind and compassionate human beings. They don’t need me to tell them they’re winning – they see it in the faces of the people they help and love.

Let’s take a look at them in all their sunflowery glory:


So cute!

From left to right, that’s Andy, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

We set our Friday questions months in advance, so when I gave them a free week, I wasn’t really thinking about 9/11. But as it turned out, the anniversary was on everyone’s minds when they submitted their answers.

I hope you enjoy their responses as much as I did.

Q. Please talk about whatever you’d like:

A. Hello plant- and Liza-following world.  (After all, I know you aren’t here for me as evidenced by your prior subscription.)

Today is the day each year when I’m a bit angry and frazzled by the events of 9/11/01 and beyond.  For on that day and thereafter, lives and freedom were compromised.  There are a lot of rats in the world and on a % basis, I’d say the Middle East is much higher than most.  They hide behind their masks, brandishing weapons, burning our flag but yet escape to caves like cockroaches when approached.  Can you sense the anger?  It gets my blood pressure up that’s for sure so I’ll move to the more moving side of things.
Just remember 9/11.  Remember how you felt.  Remember the fear and uncertainty.  Remember the destruction of lives, freedoms and money.  For it was that event that prompted 2 wars; 1 to remove Saddam from Iraq and the other to rid the planet of Al Queda and all their radical dipshits.  The wars have costed trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives.  Wonder why the debt is so high, look no further.  Money that could have went to creating jobs for this country’s failing infrastructure.  Ever look at a bridge you are going under lately?  If not for the weeds you may see their cracks.  And how are your freeways, by the way?  Meanwhile, the TSA is aimlessly going through an old lady’s purse and either feeling her up or x-raying her.  Who’s the enemy again?  I’m afraid it is us my peace and plant loving friends.  Since I don’t have any, I fear for your children and the absolute mess they are going to inherit.  They should be renamed “Generation Debt”.  See why this makes me angry?
It is beyond me how so many of us, divided and conquered by our “leaders”, are letting this crap go on and on and on.  We should be pitching for the country to be improved, freedom expanded through easier transportation, energy both explored and innovated to become far less dependent upon the cockroaches.  And just how does this relate to plants, you say?  Well….think of all of the pretty trees, flowers, grasses, landscaping and improvements would come through a methodical approach to this improvement!  Think of the increased oxygen generated and less carbon monoxide.  That would make us breath easier and sleep better, wouldn’t it?  And think of all of the work the greenhouses would have and how much real estate would be devoted to growing vs. nothing.  So the way I see it, 9/11 stole from the plant world now, didn’t it?  And that’s why you are here, to explore the plant world.
So remember 11 years ago.
P.S.  The Diamondbacks won the delayed World Series that season too amidst moving renditions of The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America for 7 days in Oct. and Nov.  God Bless America.

A. I’m a lousy storyteller and I don’t do well without structure. I’m an insurance executive, for Christ’s sake, how much creativity do you think I possess? I spend all day writing code and/or looking at numbers, neither of which is conducive to free-form writing.

It is political season, and I do have an open forum, so I’m going with political plea. Please vote to re-elect Obama for one reason, and one reason only: the Supreme Court. The prospect of spending the rest of our lives with an overwhelmingly conservative court is too much to bear, and would fill my remaining days with sadness and anger. Please help me avoid that fate.
I won’t even go into what a schmuck-filled ticket Romney-Ryan is, or how anyone who wants to dismantle the New Deal should be automatically dis-qualified from holding office. Because those are personal opinions, unworthy of this forum. Another example would be if I were to say that the chair I’m sitting on right now has more charisma than Mitt Romney. That’s a purely ad-hominem attack, and I’m better than that. Or if I were to say that the right-wing of the Republican Party (which is probably redundant at this point, it’s the only wing they have) is incredibly dangerous for this country and should be repudiated in the strongest possible terms, and their supporters deported somewhere more friendly to their views. That would be wrong and over-the-top.
So focus on the Supreme Court thing. That stuff matters.

A. What comes to mind is this prayer:

Give to us: Understanding that puts an end to strife; mercy that quenches hatred; and forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.



 Whenever, our esteemed leader, Liza, gives us free reign to explore a subject for the week, my mind quickly scans all the humorous episodes occurring in my considerable years on this planet.  Somehow, humor seemed inappropriate – this week, remembering the horrific “9/11”  tragedy.  I was fortunate to be able to respond as an American Red Cross Volunteer Disaster Casework Supervisor.  It proved to be one of the most challenging experiences of my life.  Never! have I ever seen such devastation and horror, and at the same time witnessed unparalleled heroism, self sacrifice, strength of  character and dedication to duty as demonstrated by all the first responders and New Yorkers as well.  My daughter Judy asked that I write a memoir of my experience.  You will find it attached to this message.  I hope it will be meaningful reading for you.  Dottie

DR 787

The American Red Cross – the “Miracle Network”; the organization that makes “MIRACLES’ happen.  As a volunteer of some 30+ years, I am still amazed and stand in wonder and awe at what an organization, comprised of 95-98% volunteers, is able to accomplish in responding to human need in the time of crises! A disaster occurs –a call goes out to Red Cross and within minutes volunteers respond.  In a national disaster, a viable, responsive “corporation” is established within 24 hours to answer the immediate emergency needs of the disaster victims.  Volunteers, coming from all over the country, with varying abilities, training, skills, ethnic background, gather together to form a workable service network and together with the guidance from a dedicated, professional Red Cross staff, they get the job done!!!!  The only common denominator, “a caring and love for all people”.  A need to be there and help! The miracle of the American Red Cross network begins to unfold.


The call comes from national headquarters for the staffing personnel needed. Each chapter responds, as they are able, with their personnel.  I was working at Oregon Trail Chapter Red Cross headquarters, helping “out-process” the volunteers from our chapter.  Our chapter was overwhelmed with offers of all kinds from the public.

Our blood donor program was swamped with persons wanting to give blood.  I helped there for a day answering phones.  Trying to persuade folks to delay giving their blood for a week – a month, became very difficult. (blood only keeps for 30 days).   Everyone wanted to help some way and NOW!!!!!!!!!

The Oregon Trail Red Cross volunteers are much the same way.  They are immediate responders!!!! Our Disaster Services Human Resource (DSHR) director was overwhelmed with work, which is why I elected to stay in the office and help before responding to the disaster site. Finally, the day came when I felt comfortable leaving – I was anxious to help at the disaster site as well.  I was assigned to DR 787 in New York City.

You know very little of where you will be, or what your exact task will be.  We all try to be proficient in 3 areas, so that our assignments can be flexible.  My areas are Family Service, Damage Assessment and Mass Care. My preference is Family Service – I am a Case Work Specialist.  This means, in essence, that I have not only had training as a caseworker, but also am capable of supervising and helping other caseworkers.

We make our flight arrangements ourselves, through a national network – this time it was Delta in Atlanta.  Armed with reference material – “our good old 3045” – and maps of the area, we travel to our designated assignment.  I was fortunate to have a non-stop flight to JFK.

I was shocked when I arrived at the Portland airport, to see hundreds of people in line at 5:30AM.  They were part of the contingent of “FLIGHT FOR FREEDOM” put together by the city of Portland to show New York we loved them.  The residents of Portland wanted to demonstrate a unity with the New Yorkers, and to let them know we were sincere in our caring, and desire to help jump start their economy.  The day was October 4th.

The “Flight for Freedom” people were going to New York to spend money and support the theaters and hotels and all the people of New York.  It was a privilege for me to fly with those people!  I was so proud of my city.  My seat partner turned out to be a reporter from one of the local Portland papers who had been sent to cover the story in New York as well as the Freedom flight.  He was a fine young man and we talked all the way to New York.  He was also very interested in the functions of the Red Cross and The Red Cross Volunteers.  He interviewed me as we flew across the country and asked if he could speak with me when I returned.  I was the only Red Cross person on the plane that I was aware of.

Upon arrival at JFK, as I was waiting for my luggage to appear, someone (noticing my ID) shook my arm and said, “ Wow – are you are Red Cross person?  Boy! Am I glad to see you!”  She (Barbara Brandt) was a volunteer, who had just arrived from Arizona, and was looking for any other recent Volunteer arrivals.  We are to call in, upon arrival, to a designated local headquarters, and are then given instructions at that time, as to how to proceed.  Barbara had already called in and was told to look for any other volunteers around and grab a cab to Headquarters.  She and I shared a cab to the American Red Cross Headquarters, which was at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, NY.

We arrived at the headquarters’ door where there was heavy security and presented our ID, dragging our various pieces of luggage with us. Together, we went through the “in processing” procedure, which consists of going through the various functions, such as:  physical health, mental health, logistics, communications, orientation and last but not least staffing, where we received our hotel and work assignments.  This took about 1-2 hours.

My new friend Barbara and I were assigned to Service Center #1 in Greenwich Village, which was about 1 mile from Ground Zero.  We were to stay in the Park Central Hotel on Seventh Ave.  After our processing was complete (it was then about 7:00PM and I’d been up since 3:00AM), we had to drag our suitcases across a park to an area where buses were waiting to take us to our new, temporary home.

Barb and I met another woman named Caryn from Chicago who had the same assignment as we did.  We struck up a friendship with her, as we waited in line at the hotel to check in.  Fortunately we all received room assignments on the same floor, and so formed the “The Three Musketeers.”

It is truly amazing how quickly one forms alliances in a disaster situation.  Complete strangers bond very quickly, if they are fortunate enough to meet congenial people. We each entered our assigned rooms, agreeing to meet for a quick bite somewhere in 15 minutes or so.

If you can imagine it – after such a long day – we walked to Times Square, which was about 12 blocks away.  Whew!  I couldn’t believe I was actually at Times Square – the flashing neon lights – huge building-size signs – the area bright as daylight – horns honking and sidewalk vendors everywhere.  My friends haggled with the sidewalk merchants for shirts, while I called home.  The disaster seemed far removed at that point.  Hold that thought, for reality would soon set in.

Our appetites sated, we returned to our rooms to unpack and fall into bed to rise for an early morning call – 5:00AM.  It felt so good to have two friends!!!  As I learned later, Barbara was from a little town called Strawberry, Arizona where she was a construction flagger and one of the most energetic 68 year olds I ever met!!!!!!!!!!!  Caryn, a creative executive in the production of videos, was from the windy city, Chicago.  She had taken her 3-week vacation time to respond to the disaster (that’s the kind of dedicated people you meet in Red Cross).  I really lucked out in meeting two wonderfully, interesting strong women.  What a delight!!!

We were up before the crack of dawn on Friday – picked up a coffee and roll at the nearby deli; caught our bus at 6:30AM and headed for our new assignment, down in the village at the Carmine Recreation Center.  The traffic is rocking and rolling even at that hour of the morning.  Our bus driver should have a medal for his ability to dodge all the taxis, trucks and cars and deliver us safely.  Steve was a grand man; he was such a gentleman – helping us on and off the bus as we struggled with all our gear and juggling coffee as well!!!!

When we arrived at our service center, we could see the smoke from ground zero. Our eyes and throats were burning from all the pollution in the air!!!  Our center was located in an old building used as a recreation center for the surrounding neighborhood.  It is amazing how Red Cross takes an empty space and turns it into a service center (figure 1).

[Note from Liza – we’re having technical difficulties with Figure 1. Please use your imagination while I work to repair the issue. Thank you.]

Figure 1.  Reception Area and Family Service Center

We were given the second floor to use.  There were basketball courts and exercise rooms – that really suited our use quite well.  The center area was used basically for seating the clients (capacity at least 100-150) on folding chairs.  With the use of temporary signs, we are able to designate the various areas of service.  In the front of the large room were the service center manager and assistant manager. Located in the center, and just in front of the manager’s area, were our registration tables – the heart of the center – with logistics to one side.  Xerox machines and fax machines and computers were set up to the left of the managers’ area.  Near the folding chairs – close to the waiting clients – Mass Care set up their facilities of coffee, hot water, tea, munchies and fruits to be enjoyed by all.  Also in the same room, off to one side, was our Local Disaster Volunteers (LDV) table.  This is for local residents who want to volunteer to help.

Off to the right was the biggest hub of activity – the family service center.  This is where our caseworkers sit at makeshift desks to work with the clients affected by the disaster.  At one end of this huge room were the mental health personnel, ever watchful for persons in great distress and needing a hug or a teddy bear.  At the other end resided Records and Reports and our Health Services.

It is amazing to see how an empty space is quickly transformed into a workable area to aid clients (we do not refer to them as victims!!!)  Anyway, this is what our working environment looked liked. I thought it important that you have a visual picture.  The only draw back to this arrangement is that the bathrooms were two floors down a perilous staircase!!!  Our intake was carefully measured!!!

Although we didn’t open until 8:00AM, people were already queued up for a block by the time we arrived in the morning.  We had a general meeting each morning to bring us up to date on the recent happenings and pronouncements and in addition, we had individual meetings of our Family Service Function.  At that time, things were changing hourly, as needs of our clients changed.  I worked just part of a day as a caseworker and because of my past experience, I was then was asked to serve as a supervisor for the remainder of my deployment.   I accepted my assignment with mixed feelings. My heart is in working with the client “one on one”.  I would still have some client contact, but would be working primarily with the caseworkers, handling their questions and problems.

As people are admitted to the center, they line up to register.  Then the registrations are placed in a box and a caseworker picks up the case and goes out into the large room and calls out there name.  However, this simplistic system was not working too well as many of our clients did not speak English.  We had a Spanish translator, but we needed more Asian translators.  So we went to a number system.  Each person was given a number as they entered the registration area, and were referred to by number.  Even the persons unable to speak English understood numbers.  With the shortage of interpreters, it slowed our casework down – communication was very difficult and took much longer and the lines continued to grow and people waited sometimes 4 hours to be seen.  It became necessary to take Asian-speaking people out of line that also understood and spoke English and asked them to serve as translators for us.  This does have its disadvantages because we do not know what the interpreter is saying.  But as always, Red Cross came through.  We are used to improvising and making the best of situations.

Our mental health people walked among the waiting throng, and tried to calm them with offers of food and drink and toys for the children.  My heart ached for these people, – many of whom had lost their homes and their jobs-, to be put through such an ordeal.  However, there was no other way to learn of their needs and assist them.  Fortunately the weather was summer-like, balmy and warm – great for the waiting throngs but hot and stuffy, with air tinged with smoke and debris from the disaster site, in the building.

Our hours at the center for the clients were to be 8:00AM to 8:00PM and we were to have two shifts working from 7:00AM-4:00PM and 11:00AM to 8:00PM.  We quickly learned we did not have enough staff to do that.  The early morning staff found themselves working until 9:00PM or 10:00PM at night.  We were just terribly understaffed.

The following day our Family Service CWS/Officer, decided to form us into teams with a supervisor, such as myself, at the head of each team.  He thought that would improve the speed with which we worked by having one person for each team to relate to.  I had marvelous people on my team.  They all worked hard and well together and were kind and compassionate and were willing to work as late as necessary to see that all were taken care of – no complaining. A big bravo for the AmeriCorps young people – I had several on my team.   They brought a youthful energy and spirit and genuine desire to help that was so refreshing.  Bright and articulate, they became a great asset to our team.  I loved and adopted each one! They became my kids!!!!!!!!!!

My AmeriCorps “kids” Jason and Kelli

I am so proud of all the caseworkers — it was my privilege to work with such dedicated people!!!!!!  We had strong leadership in our family service group:  Art MacMahon, our Family Service Officer and Sue Hutson, who became our Service Station Manager, couldn’t have been nicer, while at the same time providing outstanding leadership.  We struggled with many changes; some due to our circumstances of too many clients and not enough staff, and some due to the ever-changing orders from National Headquarters.  This disaster was of a dimension that no one had dealt with before.  All the rulebooks went out the window in light of the enormity of the effect of this disaster.  At present we had 6 Service Centers located throughout greater New York City; Pier 94, who did the initial handling of the bereaved; and several Respite centers.  Staffing all of this was at a premium.  I understand that we had 180+ persons from Oregon Trail Chapter (my chapter) alone.

In spite of the fact that we were all over taxed and tired, everyone kept a smile on their face and remained pleasant.  There are always a few people that have difficulties, but for the most part Red Cross workers are a hardy, reliable, “roll with the punches” group.  In the midst of all this, there were continual bomb threats at our Headquarters in Brooklyn, and all the service centers.  No one had time to pay much attention to them.  We did take them seriously however, and had routes of escape planned.  To my knowledge, nothing materialized from these threats.

In our center, we were primarily working with folks who were survivors, and had lost their homes, all the contents, clothing or jobs or both due to the disaster.  We had few bereavement cases, as Pier 94 primarily handled them.  Many of the folks we worked with were stressed to the max!  Many had been trying to help themselves staying with friends and relatives.  However, they suddenly realized that it would be perhaps months before they would be allowed back in their homes and/or able to return to their jobs, if ever.!  They were now turning to us to help them formulate a plan to go on with their lives.  There are thousands of people who are dealing with this dilemma.  Many are “falling through the cracks” and I fear are not getting any or enough help to put their lives back together, primarily because they are confused and don’t know where to go for help or know that assistance is available for them.

Every day I am humbled by the courage of the people I meet in the center.  I had taken a break for a few moments in the basement of the Service Center.  I sat at a table drinking a cup of coffee, when a gentleman asked if I minded if he sat with me.  He began to talk.  I discovered he was a client waiting his turn to be seen and helped.  He was an engineer in the customs house, – which was located in the Twin Towers complex.  When the first plane hit, he alerted the people in his building and managed to see that all of them were able to vacate the building.  He then went back into the building and turned off all the systems.  He then headed for the Trade Center to help with the rescue there.  As he headed for the building, the second plane hit the second tower and he was buried in debris and was fortunate to be able to dig his way out.  Fortunately, his injuries were minor.  He continued to help for several days with the rescue effort.

He is a survivor.  A survivor without a job or a home!  A Hero!  He does not think of himself as a hero.  Heroes are met everywhere here, although they do not think of themselves as such, “just doing their jobs.”  Tears come easily here – this story could be repeated over and over.  It makes what I do seem too little and so insignificant –

So humbling!

Everywhere you go in New York, and in our center as well, one sees evidence of the country’s love and concern.  Children from all over the country have written, and created hand-made posters, cards, and letters, which they have sent to the residents of New York.  They are posted everywhere, in all the Red Cross service centers, fire stations, and walls along the sidewalks, and buildings.  It gives your spirit a lift to see how much everyone cares.

There is one card in our Service Center that tears your heart apart, but it says it all, why we all are here to help – a plain brown piece of paper and on it, a pencil sketch of a child’s face with tears falling from big round eyes and simply written at the top is “My dad is there.”

Our days at the service center were long, exhausting, frustrating – yet fulfilling, knowing that we were helping in some small measure.  Working as a specialist supervisor, offered many opportunities to come to know many wonderful volunteers from all over the country as well as have memorable moments with the New Yorkers affected by the disaster.

On our rare, one day off, we (the 3 Musketeers) tried to shake off the tragedy and fatigue a bit by taking a tour of New York City in the famed double decker bus.  The tour guide, somehow, discovered we were Red Cross workers (we travel incognito).  As we departed the bus at the end of our tour, he remarked that we were Red Cross workers there to help New York City and thanked us for our services.  Loud applause and cheers emanated from the remaining passengers.  Wow what a delightful moment.

A memorable and cherished experience was initiated by my police officer daughter in Naples, Florida.  She had mailed me a very special pin – “the gold twin towers with a police officers hat on one side and a fireman’s hat on the other.”  It held great significance for her, and she wanted me to find “just the right person” to give this to.  Fortunately, my last day in New York, I met a fine young NYPD police officer that fit the bill perfectly.  He was thrilled to have the pin from my daughter and it was with great delight and ceremony that I “pinned him” outside the famous NINO’S.  He in return gave me one of his special NYPD pins to give to my daughter.  I am not at liberty to discuss the officers’ duties and how he related to the disaster but it was very significant!

New York has made us feel very welcome.  Strangers on the street come up to us and thank us for being there.  Everyone seems much kinder and caring.  How wonderful if this attitude would continue!!!  Not just here, but everywhere in the country.  Nino is typical of the New York attitude.  He owns a restaurant called NINO’S, located close to Ground Zero.  He has turned the restaurant into a retreat and haven for all the disaster workers.  Only persons affiliated with the disaster in some way, may enter.  Inside they will find fabulous free food, prepared by the finest chef’s in New York City, camaraderie, and a chance to meet and talk with other workers – a very healing atmosphere.  Nino plans to continue this operation for as long as it takes!  He projects at least a year.

The tourists here too, seem to have assumed an ownership of the disaster – our wonderful “Portlanders” a prime example.  This act of war did not just happen to New York City, it happened to the whole country.

A strong overpowering spirit pervades the air in New York  “You can hurt me but you can’t destroy me or my American way of life and what New York represents.”  A uniqueness – a city with a magic all its own.  There is no other city like it in the world!!  New Yorkers are fighting back with every fiber of their being.  You sense the underlying strength, and toughness.  There is a oneness of purpose, “ a phoenix that shall rise from the ashes!!!!!”  New York, New York!!!  The miracle is happening!

Dottie Correll, ARC



A. I am lost, to the horizon I see only dry lands, low brush, short grass, my fellow traveler have all died or disappeared into the dust. Oh what a vast and beautiful land I have be forsaken onto.

When we sailed from our home of HePiawiQ, dreams of riches filled our souls. The people legends spoke of lands beyond the setting sun, gold and treasures awaits those brave (or foolish) enough. Sail for the setting sun and cast your spirits beyond the great waters and so we did. Two crafts of wood held 70 men, sailors all, hard lives lived upon the waters riding wooden ship for god’s and glory. Long day and many short night the ocean takes us where we do not know. Tempest wrath blew us yonder the known and glimpse of distant land to port tells that we are still on our way. On and on and on the oceans fury and rage blow us and the cold is like death, monstrosities of ice ghost past but on we go, around the bottom of the world. The cold gives way and glorious new warm waters greet us and we give thanks. Creatures great and small abound the sky darken with winged life and our bounty is full. Day’s become months, months become years but on we sail. A vast continent we have seen to the starboard and land has greeted us tenfold, peoples we have seen but caution and fear abound. So on we sail, men cry for the sea is hard and unforgiving, our companion ship the VisYeope is gone one day never more to grace our eyes, did death pull them under the waters or utopia may they have found, but men cry for the sea is hard and unforgiving, My Captain, my captain how far is paradise and shall we ever reach home, but he only nods because forever is a long ways away. The length of the world we have traveled the ocean stretched portside beyond our senses, but of a sudden a monster arises from the depths and all is lost. Morning brings wonder for we are not dead all but have been ship wrecked upon a shore line of gentle sands and high bluffs. But we are dead to the sea for or beloved ship Tiherasa lay broken smashed against giant rocks standing guard against wayward wonderers. Camp and live upon the beach we do the twenty three still alive, we bury several of our companion  at the base of the cliffs above the oceans hold.

                A year or two or is it three has pasted and no ship has appeared for our rescue for our people know not where we lay. Some have wondered inland but those journeys small safety lay in numbers. Most have survived but a couple of us have gone and not returned. There are many things unbeknown, at night shadows and creature we do not know make their presence known we do not quiver in fear for brave souls all but is it our lost companions returned from darkness.  Glimpse of a large man like creature and strange track have been found by those hunting, shout of greetings go unheeded.  Our quest for food is never ended for hunger stalks us all.

                Council is held to stay is to die, to go holds hope, agreement  is made by most that we should walk away from the ocean and head for home toward the rising sun before snow come to the land again. With full packs and heavy hearts we tell two older companions who cannot walk long ways good bye, and cover our hearts as we tell our dead “ Sleep well”. Walk we do, on and on, over mountains forested with trees that reach almost the sun, behemoths, giants that have no compare upon this earth, full packs become light for we must eat but we know not all the goodness that lays hidden at our feet. On and on and on and death is our ever companion and the fewer bury the more. Peoples we meet who live in this land, through tongue speak distant sounds common bonds exist and share they do but the land is hard and they have little also. Our path lay onward and deserts and mountains come and go the rising sun the only constant, a canyon as big as the sky blocks our path woo to us but we must go on and many days or hardship in crossing we endure and death takes Ewithcik at the great red river. Driven by thirst, hunger and hope of home toward the rising sun we press on. Alas we stop the few a glen offers shelter, but death waits for no one. There were two but now only one, upon this rock I tell my tale for my time is short and I shall not go again. Remember me, I sleep well, Xidewak

Wow. All of you, wow. What a fine group of people. Thank to each of you for your thoughts, and for being here.

I’m not going to trivialize today’s panel by awarding pretend prizes. They don’t need them – I think they just won the hearts of all my readers.

We’ll get back to silliness another day. The Experts will return in exactly one week. They hope to see you back here.

Let’s get to last week’s puzzler.

???Real or Fake???

Last Friday I asked if this Dracaena was real or fake:

Let’s see how you answered:

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “Real – and pretty! You’re making me want to buy yet another dracaena! (And I already don’t know where to put the ones I have.)”

mr_subjunctive from Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “Real. (Also, side-note: I like Aaron Jackson’s answer from last week.)”

Stephanie from Indianapolis wrote, “Gotta b real.”

Charlie Hebert wrote, “Hmmm.. Not a big Drac guy.. gonna go against the popular vote this week
and pull the Fake lever..”

Terrence from Dynamic Gardening wrote, “I’ll go with real!!!”

That’s four votes real, one vote fake.

What’s the correct answer? Let’s take another look:

Real! And so pretty! Fake plants don’t have those vibrant colors!

Charlie, wrong call this week, but we still love you for playing. Ivynettle, congrats on dethroning the reigning champ and coming in first with the correct answer. Well played! For being so speedy, you’ve earned the title of First, Fastest, Most Terrific, Premierist and Cutest Grand Championette of the Houseplant Blog Universe Which Includes All of Austria. Congratulations! You may multiply all the prizes by cotton candy.

You’re all winners in my book. So for playing this week, I’d like each of you to have the following prizes: Countrywide love, an A+, four tender moments, a seafood platter, 14 extra bonus points, two baby goats, one coupon good for an imaginary vacation anywhere, six blessings, one hip-hip-hurray, and a bicycle built for four. Great job everyone! Thanks for playing.

Let’s move on to the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Oh dear, this may be controversial.

Are these Blue Orchids real or fake?

Hint: I intended for the two options to be “real” or “fake” but I could see how other answers may be warranted.

I apologize for the bad photo. It’s misleading because the flash distorted the color. The blue is much closer to navy blue in person.

Anyway, think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section or on my facebook wall. You have until midnight next Thursday, September 20th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after next week’s panel of Experts. Remember, the prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here.