Hello America and beyond, happy Friday!

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

Every Friday I gather my Panel of Experts – they are charmers, let’s say hi to them now. Hi Experts!


“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You’re adorable! See what I mean? From left to right, that’s Andy Williams, Tim Thackaberry, EZ Ed Johnson, Dottie Correll and Lewis Casey. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

We’ve been doing these Experts Panels for a long time now, and our beloved Experts have earned a break. This will be the last Panel of 2013. I know, sad face. They volunteer their time to be here each week and it wouldn’t be nice of me to ask them to continue to do that during the holiday season.

So I asked the Experts to say whatever they wanted before taking their break.

Q. What would you like to say before breaking until 2014? Share a story? Tell a joke? Anything you’d like.

Expert Andy Williams, please start us off today, will you?

A. Hello again all and thank you for your readership this year.  Without you our musings would be for not.  Although I am not anxious to grow any older, I am pretty amped up to get 2013 in the rearview.  It has been one busy, crazy and messed up year for me.  I look forward to some true R&R over the holiday period.  I am normally not one for completely kicking back and doing next to nothing but this year it seems appropriate for many reasons.  I will venture home for Christmas this year for the first time in about 5 or so years.  I am hoping God blesses me with the good weather I deserve while I am there.  I plan to take in a Pacer and a Colts game in person while in Indy.  Then I am poised to get back to AZ and go see a killer band for New Year’s Eve this year to put 2013 behind me and pop a cork to 2014 ahead.  Looking ahead gives me a lot of optimism based upon past hard knocks and wisdom.  I am not one to dwell on the past.  What’s done is done, it cannot be changed.  So why dwell on it?!?!  All each of us can do is get better, use the resultant wisdom for a better cause, and try to make the world a better, happier place.  I certainly have made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’ve forgotten most of them by now.  If you know me personally, I am sure you can name a few off the top of your head.  Well, guess what?  I don’t remember it anyway so I have no remorse.  Forgive, forget and move ahead.  Same goes for you….should I know you.  If you have regrets, I’ve forgot those too, so don’t sweat it.  If we all could forgive and forget, perhaps in opposite order, we could cause better things to occur going forward, I’m pretty confident of that.

Until next year, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Christmas and Merry New Year to all of you and your families.

A. First and foremost, I hope all of Liza’s devoted readers have a safe and happy holiday season!

And thanks to Liza for providing us a forum in which to write a little for public consumption. I spend most of my time writing memos and reading TPS reports, so the Experts panel is a welcome weekly diversion for me. There ain’t a hell of a lot of silliness in a TPS report….

I’m going to end the year with a joke, one of my favorites:

Pessimist: “Man, things are terrible, they can’t possibly get any worse.”

Optimist: “Sure they can!”

Happy Holidays everyone!

A. What can bring back the dead; make us cry, make us laugh, make us young; born in an instant yet lasts a life time?

A. In as much as we are Free lancing this week and Thanksgiving is looming, I am moved to contemplate the things I am most grateful for as I travel through my 88th year on this amazing plant:

1.  I CAN STILL SEE  (and without any aids).
2.  I CAN STILL HEAR (my selective hearing is not questioned!)
     TO WALK AROUND ON MY OWN ( When I stumble I am
     Never accused of imbibing too much! Ha!)
     Away with it. –“She’s harmless” – ah if they only knew how
     the hormones still rage.!)
     LITTLE OR NO CONSEQUENCES. (You know she’s almost 90)
    TAKING THE GARBAGE OUT. (Oh no dear –just relax. Ha!  I
     have them all snookered!)
      SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS, ALL OF WHOM I LOVE DEARLY.                                 

    (We all want to feel needed – not just filling up space)

                                             (Irish blessings)

A. Recently while clean out some old files and such I found an old letter I had received  and notes I had written about a my 1st  National Red Cross experience responding to a major hurricane ( Hurricane Marilyn)  that had hit and destroyed most of the homes, business and inter structures on the Island of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands in October 1995.

We landed as the sun set lucky because the runway light were out, the island mostly dark but  for a few cars weaving crazily across the storm ravaged landscape. The landing runways had been cleared of debris, wrecked planes, hangers, buildings, trees, small boats and everything else that could fly in the wind . They had literally ran a large front end loader tractor up and down the runway plowing the junk off to the sides of the landing strip there was lots of junk and not much room, but faith and a prayer would be a good friend in the days to come.

A few emergency generator lighted resort hotels stood like shiny jewels on the darkened coast but mostly we were in the dark.

A caravan of commandeered window broken, banged and clanged but running  cars shuttled us Red Cross and Southern Baptist (80) volunteers to a smattering  of dark and shattered  hotels that offered us a room with a roof and maybe a dry bed or two and that was about it.

Black Beards Castle give us several rooms, 6 or so to a room on the 4th floor, there was no running water, A/C and the toilet water came from a bucket filled from the ground floor swimming pool.

Oh what a delight that was one of my roommates was a very nice guy (Joe) about 5 ft tall and 400 + pds. Needless to say we carried water for him but I would not pour.

The first night we shared a bed It seemed like a pit and I keep sliding down to his side, he snored, rolled and then he threw his arm around me at the bottom of the pit and hugged me in places only my wife is allowed. I moved to the floor where it was safer.

Joe had health problems it was too hot for him so they sent him home. I got the bed back

In two days the fantastic Southern Baptist group built a functioning kitchen out of ruin a hope and a prayer, locals helped Red Cross gather food from broken and destroyed grocery stores freezer and storerooms.

At the airport we unloaded a 100,00 gallons of water and food supplies that the cargo planes brought to us. So working  together hot food was prepared and then the hot food, snacks, fruit and water was distributed to the hungry people around the island. The window broken, banged and clanged cars became food delivery trucks and crowds of people waited or gathered along our routes.

Remember the roads were covered with roofs, trees, power lines, poles, wrecked vehicles and boats of all sizes. The largest was a 200 ft. long  US Coast Guard Cutter. The tidal surge had picked it up and carried it about a block in to the downtown area.

So to drive anywhere was a little crazy, wait no a lot crazy, in out up down around over across back in over across under thur. Now I don’t know if you know anything about the US Virgin Islands. There are US territories near Puerto Rico 45 mile NW X W.

Beautiful places I was told when not beaten to pieces. There was not a leaf on a single tree, all the birds were gone blown or flown away. It was like a giant lawn mower had settled on top of the island. The hurricane had winds around 200 mph.

Not much was left standing.

Oh yah driving they drive on the other side of the rode there like the British, here in the states we drive on the right like normal people or at least we like to think so. The first week or so it did not matter there was not a right or left side of the road. It was just path that got you from here to there.

I had two most gracious and beautiful people working with me from a local church. They were sisters born and raised there on St. Thomas, and had stepped forth to help guide us to where they knew the local people needed help. Helen G. and Editha J.

Many days we went out with water, snacks, fruit and full cambro’s container designed to hold food hot or cold, and many days we return with just sweat on our brow for all had been disbursed to hungry souls.

This is a note I wrote one night before sleep to remind me of these days


Good Morning;

Countless times have I been greeted with this courtesy during my short stay here.  I came with the American Red Cross to answer the call for help from a people under duress.

I was excited but also a little scared.

A jumble of planes and wreckage at the airport, a wet and wrecked terminal a wailing alarm box,

A ride to Bluebeards Castle along a darkened trashed and crashed, pole splintered, wire downed, building broken boat tossed, debris littered Veteran’s Dr. justified my concerns.

Daylight showed the true extent of Marilyn’s fury and also introduced me to a Pith hat wearing gentleman  who was the first of many to  greet me graciously “Good Morning”

Out of disorder and chaos arose several operation to serve the people’s needs,

I was with the Mass Care – Mobile Feeding group.

Taking hot meals to the hungry, homeless people

Much valiant effort by many fine people made my services possible.

With a pair of terrific, kind, grand, beautiful & very hard working local volunteers

we went forth to offer nourishment & clean water to the community.

Their vast knowledge and local expertise guided me as I skillfully

Maneuvered, twisted, snaked, winded, backed up, bumped, banged, scraped,

Scratched and scrambled our mobile feeding unit, storm beaten van to where the hungry people were.

Through a mighty disaster had just befallen these hungry people there was never no reason for a lack

of good manners.

Good Mornings, Good Afternoons, Please and Thank you’ s and God Bless were constant reminders of a good and courteous upbringing.

If the children were a little hungry, excited and crowded or pushed there was always a grandmother, mother or auntie close by who quietly

Told them “ Haste did not justify impoliteness” The children stood and giggled, smiled and always said Thank you

One long day when there was little food left and the sun was not far from set, we came over a hill and there was a crowd of many people awaiting us

I remember telling my new friend Helen, We have not enough we cannot feed them all

To which she replied “ Do not worry  Lewis the Lord will suffice

I stood and handed out cups of food that the sister gathered from the cambro

The line was long, but many ate what they had been given,

And I continued to be greeted like an old friend as I gave the fishes and bread away.

The last came and went with his portion, I gave the sisters a hug and said I’m sorry I doubted

A  month later at my home I received a letter from Editha J.

This is what she wrote.

Dear Lewis,                                                         11/17/1995

I greet you in the precious name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who makes life worth living.

The recovery process in St. Thomas is coming along as well as can be expected under the present conditions.

Portions of the island are regaining power week by week. I still am living without electricity, it’s expected to be back by the end of the month.

Pastor Bentley doesn’t expect to receive any power until Jan. 21st , however some of the churches on the mainland got together and sent some generators, so the church has one

And our pastor now has one. Phones are expected to be out until June next year. That’s when all 3 islands expected to be back up, Cable TV won’t be back until then also.

For many people the assistance from insurance companies and FEMA is a lot less than needed for rebuilding.

Those of us that know Christ as our Savior know that He promised to supply all of our needs and He’s doing that. We know definitely that God sent you to fulfill our needs and we thank God for you.

Helen send her regards and as usual is very busy. But the Lord continues to give her strength.

May God continue to bless you and yours



Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving

Be careful cooking, driving

Send the people of the Philippines your prayers and some cash


Oh wow, you guys impress me so much! Fantastic! What a great way to end the Experts Panels of 2013. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

We will be looking so forward to your return in 2014. Until then, I wish you all the most wonderful holiday season, and many blessings for the new year. Thank you again for your time and efforts here. I love you all!

That’s it for the Panels until next year!

Let’s move on to last week’s puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if these flowers were real or fake:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Let’s see how you answered:

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “Real… although some overzealous florist has plucked off the pollen off them already…i used to hate that job when I worked for party planners. .. you awaits embed up with orange lily stains all over you…
And you can’t really put “pollen plucker” on your resume without looking like a weirdo. ..
Anyway, real…”

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “Real.
They looked weird and fake for a moment until I realized they mus have removed the stamens. Because those things can cause some really annoying stains.”

Martha from Plowing Through Life wrote, “They look real to me. That’s my vote and I’m sticking with it :)

Ginny Burton of Burton Optician in DC wrote, “Hmm, on my screen the petals look fake, but why would they make fake flowers and not put on fake anthers? So I’m obviously too confused to make a choice and thus vote Real and Fake, so I can’t lose.

Welcome back to the internet. We’ve all missed you!”

Thank you Ginny! It feels good to be back.

I’m gonna go ahead and count the votes as fivish real, and zeroish fake.

What’s the correct answer? Let’s take a wider view:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Real! And pretty! And pollenless! (Which I think is nice – who wants the stains?)

Well done everyone. You nailed it once again, I’m not surprised at all because you’re so smart. You amaze me as much as the Experts do!

Claude, you’re the first with the correct answer, so that makes you the best answerer. For being so swift, you’ve earned the following epithet: “The Fastest Oh-di-lay-ee-ay, The Bestest, Oh-di-lay-ee-oh, King of the Plant Blog Universe and More De-lay-ee, Oh-di-lay-ee-ay, Oh-di-lay-ee-oh, De-lay-ee.”

Let’s say you’re at the flea market this weekend, and someone new walks up to your booth. You should introduce yourself as Claude The Fastest Oh-di-lay-ee-ay, The Bestest, Oh-di-lay-ee-oh, King of the Plant Blog Universe and More De-lay-ee, Oh-di-lay-ee-ay, Oh-di-lay-ee-oh, De-lay-ee. That won’t be weird at all!

Congratulations, Claude. You may multiply all the prizes by lemon meringue.

Thanks to everyone who played. To show my appreciation, I’d like you each to have the following prizes: Two more November weekends, four miniature poodles, one all expenses paid trip to tomorrow, 15 bonus points, dill pickles, an additional kneecap, six celestial bodies, a platter of succulents, purple, three dice rolls, a lottery ticket,  five compliments, holiday cheer, and roasted garlic crackers. Congrats, and thanks again for playing!

Up next, the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Is this plant real or fake:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

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, November 28th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) next Friday. Remember, the prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.