Hello lucksters, and happy Friday!

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

We love Fridays around here, because it’s the day our beloved Experts join us. Let’s get the show started by saying hi to them. Hi Experts!


“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You’re so cute! 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.

Just for fun, I decided to ask the Experts this question:

Q. Do you have any New Year’s stories you want to share with us, or January memories?

Expert Andy, you’re up first as usual, sir:

A. Ah January.  A month full of hope, renewed optimism and the eventual reality that nothing much changes quickly on such a huge spinning mass known as Earth.  It is a time where our favorite football team is usually eliminated from any further Super Bowl hopes and where our NCAA basketball passion is tempered with bitter realities or fueled with even more passion.  All of us, not just me.  It is usually our collective coldest month but there is hope as the sun starts is path toward the north, or more accurately, the giant mass begins to rotate from north to south.  Thank God, I suspect some of you from Montana to Florida are saying.  Truth is, it’s been a pretty damn nice Winter out here in the desert this year.  As I speak it is in the 70s and sunny as your warmest Spring days.  To you who hail to the “changing seasons”, how do you feel about that now?  Get out of your cold, bitter misery and come and see us out West.  We love you and we relish visitors.  Honestly.  Some get on your horses and head West, I say.  Load up the kids and grandma and grandpa while you are at it.  Bring the dogs.  Make yourself a little National Lampoon Vacation movie.  And alas that I forget, my best part about Jan. is that it is my mother’s birthday.  This year is special, she turns 70 on the 27th of the month.  And I am getting her a very special gift that she has wanted for her bucket list.  I cannot disclose that now of course, but I hope to be able to spill the beans to all of you after the 27th.  Happy Birthday Mom!

A. I did have a New Year’s Eve in Dublin, Ireland where I drank vodka all evening with a girl from Latvia. She’s was about 4’11” and she drank me under the table by 9:30. So the list of things you should never do is now:

1. Never get involved in a land war in Asia;
2. Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line; and
3. Never try to drink vodka with a Russian.

A. I remember when all the important bowl games were on January 1 and there was lots of drinking and gambling and forgetting.

I remember a quick trip to Miami and a couple of others to Hawaii to escape the first month’s chill.

It was January when the lights came off the Christmas tree, January when the school bus returned, January when the inevitability of winter’s gray set in and the sun seemed to have lost its power to warm.

It was on January 28, 1968 when my grandfather died and his ghost came to visit us.

A. The truth always seems stranger than fiction!!!  A January event not to be believed.  It was the summer of 1943,  World War II was still raging – I was restless and itching for an adventure.—too young to enlist in the air force or start college; my mother suggested I visit my cousin Doss & her husband Stan, who ran a small recording studio in Hollywood, California.  I grasped at the opportunity and was soon on a train crossing the country.  Wow! what a wild time that summer was! ( But that is a tale for another time.) Fall was in full color and January winter was approaching and time to head home.  I had blown most of my money, so just had enough funds for a Greyhound Bus trip home.–and the cheapest route was the longest.  The route the bus would take was up the West Coast thru northern California, Oregon, Washington and then east thru Montana, North Dakota and then south to Minneapolis and then east to Ohio – a 7 day trek.  (My parents were not aware of this tedious route. )

This was wartime and everything was in short supply; gasoline was rationed, cars were patched up and kept running as no new cars had been manufactured for years, as every factory was making goods for the war effort.  My cousin was to drive me to the bus station.  Half- way there her car died.  So what was I to do?  At that time bus seats were at a premium and you had to make a reservation days ahead to obtain a seat.  Mind you, there were no cell phones, etc. at that time.  I had to get on that bus!– so I decided to try to hitch a ride – much against my Cousins wishes.  A long black car stopped and offered me a ride.  Gratefully I climbed in with all my luggage.  The man asked me where I was headed and why?  I told him and then he lectured me about how dangerous it was to hitch hike no matter how dire the occasion, but said I had lucked out because he was the Chief of Police of Los Angeles and what I was doing was not only dangerous, but illegal.   I was shivering in my boots, thinking I would probably be arrested.  However, after admonishing me for my careless behavior, he took pity on me and took me to the bus station.  I thanked him profusely and promised never to be so reckless again.  I obtained my ticket and boarded the bus for the ride of my life.  Passing through the Oregon mountains, the bus slid off the snow covered icy road in the early hours of the morning and was half hovering off a steep cliff.   Fortunately, all aboard were safely removed and put aboard another bus.  

The second day out, the area in the bus where I was seated started to have an awful odor! At that time buses had overhead racks that were available for small extra cases, etc.  It was discovered that “someone” had brought a lunch aboard and the heated bus had done a number on the contents.  I suddenly remembered that my cousin had kindly packed me a lunch and in all the excitement, I had forgotten all about it.   I was too embarrassed to claim ownership! (especially with a handsome serviceman seated next to me)

The fourth day out, our bus broke down in Butte, Montana. Butte was just a wide space in the road at that time – not much of a city, but they did have the notorious “The Silver Dollar Saloon”. (Also, I later found, reputed to serve other vices )  The gentleman next to me offered to buy me lunch while they tried to fix the bus.  I was thrilled.  My funds were running low and we still had a long way to go.  I decided I had better call my folks and advise them where I was and what was happening.

Foolishly, I related all the exciting details of our trip.  My parents were relieved to hear from me, but furious with my activities.  They ordered me to get on a train in Minneapolis and head straight for home and not to speak to or enjoy the company of any other strange men or saloons!

Sadly, when we arrived in Minneapolis I retrieved the ticket that had been wired for me, said farewell to my Greyhound buddies and boarded the train for home.  It was January 23rd and the end of the line and my January adventure.

A. On a morning when children were gathering in their schools gym to hear of their schools daily events, the cookie sale in Mrs. G classroom, the tryouts for the girls volley ball, the upcoming Parent / Teacher night. Laughs and jokes prods and pokes, silly remakes among young boys, smiles and nods among young girls, youth ready to meet another day.

Teaches plans on paper, plans in their heads, who’s and what’s and whens and where’s dedicated to their charges, another day of leading the young down the path of knowledge, some great at what they do and others doing as great as they can.

For we cannot see the future and know not what it brings and on this day it brings unbelievable horror and terror to children who never have been at deaths and terrors door and never should be.

Where and why have we fallen and failed our young, why must a poor bullied, misguide and trouble youth resort to bringing a gun to school to right the wrongs that another poor misguided, troubled and bully has visited upon him.

What parts of mercy, forgiveness, strength and pardon did not the young shooter know, was his life full of fear, desolation, hatred and hopelessness. Did no one stand with him against the storm of words, actions and the threats of bullying

The youth who was said to be the bully had he no one to guide him, give him direction, stand by him and show him the way to a life of worth, to stop and not let him wonder down a path that belittles others and instills fear and tears in those he thought less of

I am sorry that there was injury and horror done to any child and their family and pray for their recovery 

Guns, guns, guns are the horrible means that in wrong hands cause horror and injury to those standing before such device of death and destruction

I have guns, I am a hunter and have been since my youth I make no excuse

I have also stood with other and faced death for that is what soldiers and police officers do, stand in harm’s way when called

But what in the hell are we doing in this county when guns appear in troubled hands of young people gone astray be it cause of madness, sadness, bully’s or hate

Stop the insanity, the edge is not far,

Step up, stand up if we do not lead them away from the darkness by being the light

Then behold for hades will be upon us and only sadness and tears will remain  

How many marks of madness must we have upon our county’s soul before we say enough 


Oh Lewis, I feel ya – it’s hard to believe there was yet another school shooting, and this time it was our neighbors down the road. It’s terrible.

I think it’s important to talk about what happened, and share feelings about it. It’s part of the healing process.

At the same time, it’s also important to continue living and laughing. Dottie, your capers had me giggling like crazy – except for the bus dangling over the cliff part. Your trip sounds like quite the adventure! Andy, Thack, EZ, I enjoyed January thoughts and memories, too, you all made me smile. Well done!

That’ll wrap up this week’s panel of Experts. Thank you Experts for being here. We’re looking forward to seeing you again next Friday.

Next up, the current puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this Dracaena plant was real or fake:

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

Let’s see how you answered:

Joseph Brenner wrote, “I’m going to say real. Although its hard to tell through all that leaf shine. (B>{D>>”

Tom from Midwestern Jungle wrote, “Real”

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “Real.”

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “Real. And over polished. I always think those polished leaves look like someone got crazy with the armor-all. Did I ever tell you about my neighbor who got vinyl siding, then made her son armor-all it once every three months? Well, Id tell you about it, But I essentially Jay did… anyway…. uhm… real….definitely real.”

That’s four votes real, zero votes fake.

So what’s the correct answer? Let’s take a closer look:

Good To Grow, real or fake plant puzzler

Real! You can tell it’s real from the yellow/brown tips – they don’t make fake plants with flaws. It’s a handsome Dracaena, spotted in a downtown lobby. Even with the flawed tips, it looks nice, and brightens up the lobby in a way that fake plants can’t do. The readers were correct – it is very shiny. Not really my plant thing, but that’s ok.

Everyone’s a winner – again this week! And again no surprise since your plant knowledge is enormous. Good job everybody.

Joseph, look at you sneaking in with a numero uno position this week – woohoo! The speediest answerer is the best answerer, and that’s you! For being so swift, this week you’ve earned an epithet. Before I reveal it to you, I should preface it by saying that I don’t know you in “real life” but you seem to have a giant brain, so in order to add some gravity to your title, I am going to insert (what I imagine to be) Mongolian chants. Here’s your epithet: Ommmm, I Know Lots of Things, Ummm, Most Likely Way More Than You, Ohhhhmm, My Fashion Style is Stylishly Fashionable, Nnnnnnnn, My Moral Compass Points at the Moon, Ommmmm, Small Animals Love Me, Ahhhhhmm, And I’m the Grandest Champion of the Houseplant Blog Universe and Beyond, Ohm. Make sure the chants come from deep within.

So for example, if you’re at a party this weekend and meet someone new, you should introduce yourself as Joseph Brenner Ommmm, I Know Lots of Things, Ummm, Most Likely Way More Than You, Ohhhhmm, My Fashion Style is Stylishly Fashionable, Nnnnnnnn, My Moral Compass Points at the Moon, Ommmmm, Small Animals Love Me, Ahhhhhmm, And I’m the Grandest Champion of the Houseplant Blog Universe and Beyond, Ohm. I’m sure that won’t be weird at all! Congratulations! You may multiply all the prizes by cotton candy.

Everyone’s a winner. To show my appreciation for you playing, I’d like you each to have the following prizes: One trip to Januaryville, four gummi hamburgers, a fedora, 15 1/3 extra credit points, marvelous vinegar, two poems, a ticket good for an entry, five ice skating dances, onion salad, a three-pack of tube socks, Los Ranchos Road, one Gasteraloe houseplant, yellow, seven animated songbirds, a new couch, 12 heart flutters, one more weekend of football playoffs, a clock for the den, twice as many compliments, a backup cosmos and one wild hair. Congrats, and thanks for playing!

Up next, the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

This week’s adorable puzzler was submitted by Nancy Popp Mumpton. She asks, is this plant real or fake?

Good To Grow, 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, January 23rd, 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.