Hello Mayfarers, and happy Friday!

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

Welcome back to Friday, as well. We love our weekends around here, even when we work right through them.

All my awesome Experts are back for their Panel. Let’s get things 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.

As I mentioned last week, this series of questions for the Experts is designed to help us get to know them a little better. I find these folks super charming in real life, and I’m hoping that charm comes through on the blog. They each offer something to the world, in their own way. We love that!

So without further ado, here’s this week’s question:

Q. Please tell us a little about your family.

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

A. First off, let’s get one thing straight Hallmark.  Every day is Mother’s Day!!!  And you have put yet another burden of expectation on all of us by making 1 special day out of  it.  Every day should be special for our moms.

So rather than describe my entire family in this forum I will take the floor to tell you a story about my mom.  My mom is a straight-shooter.  She tells it like it is and doesn’t really care about the consequences.  What you see is what you get with her.  Which is probably why I am a bit more reserved and calculated when I speak up.  Anyway, she’s a live, active and well at 70.  For her 70th birthday, I was asking her last Fall what she always wanted to do in her life.  She told me that she wanted to go experience the humpback whales in Maui.  So I remembered that, of course, and when her 70th birthday came around in January I had already arranged a 2 week trip for her and a guest to Maui for this coming December.  The whales arrive in late November.  Due to business and personal conflicts I couldn’t fly in for her actual late January birthday, but I made it a point to tell her why and that I would fly in 2 weeks later and take her to dinner.  Due to the weather being nasty awful, she decided she wanted to stay local and go to the Fiddler’s Three in my hometown.  So I took her there with a special little printout of whales that I had cooked up for her.  I gave it to her after dinner and told her I had arranged the flight too.  She didn’t stop crying for 3 days that I was there and she talks about it every time I get to talk to her.  She is super-excited and is going with her sister right after Thanksgiving.

So, I’m not sure if my Mother’s Day card, gift card and florist repotted plant are going to stack up to the bar I set for myself at dinner in February.  And I don’t think she cares.  Her Mother’s Day was made then.

A. My family is great! It’s just my mom, younger brother, daughter and me in the immediate family. Because there are so comparatively few of us, I treasure each of them tremendously. I didn’t place much importance on family for most of my life, but as I’ve gotten older, I find that I value them more and more. We are each aware of our flaws, and we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Except when it comes to Scrabble. Then it’s a dog-eat-dog, take-no-prisoners battle royale. Quarter is neither asked nor given, much smack is talked, and the weak are devoured. I win a lot.

A. My father built our home with two by fours and adobe bricks. My sister and I put on circus shows in the backyard, using our baby sister as a prop for the act. And my mother fed us enchiladas with red Jemez chile, rolled her eyes at our jokes, mended our cuts and bruises, listened to our troubles, played classic and classic rock music on an old turn table and kept the fires burning through winter nights and into morning.

A.  I come from a family of wild entrepreneurs involving many nationalities.  My father’s family came from the city, Killarney  in county Kerry, Ireland.  As I lost my father from my life when I was six months of age, the history is sketchy.  When I visited the city, I met an old man that claimed to know the family.  He said they dabbled in Jewelry and ran a school for boys.  In later years they moved the jewelry business to Dublin.  My daughter Cindy was recently in Dublin and took a photo of the WEIR (my maiden name) Building that housed a jewelry business.  So who knows?  WEIR by the way, is a Scotch name with a Weir tartan.

My mother’s family has attachments to England.  My Grandfather, Alfred Ellis Dutton, was born in Chester, England. He had 4 brothers and 1 sister.  Chester is a fascinating walled city built by the Romans.  Today, it is prized as a beautifully preserved historic city, closed to all but foot traffic.
One of the main features is a cathedral that occupies one block.

My grandfather, who possessed a beautiful tenor voice, sang in this cathedral as a youth.  In the late 1800’s my Grandfather emigrated to the United States.  He located in Flushing Long Island, New York where he met my Grandmother, Esther Juliet Callendar.  They eventually established their family home in Lakewood, Ohio.  My Grandfather opened his own book  binding and publishing business in Cleveland, Ohio.  It is still in existence in Strongsville, Ohio as the Mueller Art Cover and Binding Co.  As I grew up in my grandparents home, I learned to appreciate the written word and acquire a love for beautiful well written books at an early age.  My grandmother, Esther Juliet’s father, Benjamin Franklin Callendar had the first crayola factory in the United States in Rochester New York. He was quite a man about town and owned several race horses.

Getting Bored?  There’s more!  My Grandfather Dutton’s brother, Caleb Samuel S. Dutton, decided to become a Roman Catholic Priest and made it known to the family that he was off to Rome.  The family considered this heresy (they were all Episcopalians affiliated with the Church of England) and threw a big “hissy fit” and promised to disown him if he carried out his plan.  Her therefore said “Screw you” and went off to Transylvania to become a Unitarian Minister.  He also emigrated to the United States and became the Minister of the first Unitarian Church in San Francisco.

My mother, Ruth Youngs Dutton Weir, was a CEO with one of the largest banks in Ohio, The Cleveland Trust Co.

Whew!  What an act to follow.  Do you think much was expected of me?  Any pressure?  What a legacy! Now you know a little about my family, what influenced me, but really not a clue about “Wild Child-Dare Devil” me.  Some day I’ll write about my humble accomplishments!!! But enough already!!!


A. My Mother was a giant at 5’ 2”

Stronger than a mighty oak, able to stand, lead and love her children along the path of life through the twist and turns, ups and downs, good time and bad times that a family encounters everyday

Given grief of a husband and father passing long before his gray, but never a day self-doubt, never a tear for poor me, but always a house of strength, hope and promise

A house not filled with riches but always enough and some to share,

Old lady E, Old lady C, Friend lady P, always there for each other and hands and heaps to help

A love of reading, cooking, baking, not afraid of a challenge while making a home in an old house as her children raced to the future

I learn many a time that she was not above using a hand or a switch to instill a little loving discipline

In her bedroom was a closet that had a storage space high up on top that require a hard climb and skilled hands to reach and hide out in

My refuge at the top of the world where I could flee to for unmerited chastisement

I did not break that window, well at least not on purpose it was a accident, I did not call Sister Mary Hardass in class a fat stupid None, I was outside running away how could she of heard that

Dale deserved that punch in the mouth

My refuge would keep me safe for no one would try to scale the perilous climb to my sanctuary or so I thought

But low and behold over the edge of the cliff came my Mother, mad as wet hen and holding a branch with my name written all over it, she wrote a book on my butt

I don’t remember what I did but I sure didn’t do it again

Never did I hide there again I stayed outside and ran if my behavior was questionable

I was not a bad kid I just had a good arm and aim for throwing rocks, I’m sorry so many things got in my way, Mrs. Alridges flower pots, Mr. Gills truck, Mrs. Chances dog, and Mrs. Coffeeman’s son Booby

The little bastard throw the first rock, missed me by that much (————–), he ran to their shed next to the house and peeked out the door calling us names, You remember that old saying about “Sticks and stones my break you bones, but words will never hurt you” sure is right.

Now my most perfect throw took that rock right through the crack in the door

Got him right between the eyes, he fall out the door, laying there on the ground thrashing, kicking and screaming for his mama, you would think someone tried to kill him the way he was carrying on

It was only bleeding a little, his mother came out the door like the house was on fire, I didn’t hear what she was yelling I was too busy running, she wasn’t very fast

I didn’t go home till after dark, sneaking in the back door, dumb move caught like a rat in a trap, I remember Mother yelling something about Booby having a lump the size of a baseball on his face

He never threw rocks at me again, course I had a broken arm but it eventually healed to throw again

There were five of us kids, three sons, two daughters; all living life to our best for Mother was a great trail blazer greeting everyday with a smile and open heart

My Mother gone in 2008, my oldest brother gone in 1997 and our Father gone in 1958 long before his time

I have been blessed and had a Mother with a extraordinary fine, loving and gentle spirit except when I made her mad which I did a time, ten or twenty

I have tried to live my life to be a person of good cheer, good deed, good spirit, share all, hold little for treasures are in the heart, the soul, the spirit and in the beauty that surrounds us

We gather together whenever we can for what else in life is there if we do not honor family by gracing and rejoicing in each others presence

May you all be blessed for our life is short and memory’s long, as love lingers in our hearts like the faint scent of a cherished Rose

May I only bring honor to my Mother, as well as you to your’s

Haha, I never know what you Experts are gonna say each week. I loved those answers. And now I want to hear more stories about these Moms and Grandfathers and Dads and Daughters and Brothers – anyone who contributed to making you the Experts in Life that you are today. Those were fun to read.

Thanks to each of you for telling us a little about your family. Readers, if you have any comments or questions for the Experts, let us know, either by emailing me or by leaving a comment in the comments section.

That does it for this week’s Panel of Experts. Thank you so much for being here everyone. The Experts will return next Friday, they hope to see you back here.

Up next, the answer to the current puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

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

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

Let’s see how you answered:

Joseph Brenner wrote, “That one’s a toughie, but I will go out on a limb(pun intended) and say these Echinocereus flowers are real.(B>{D=”

mr_subjunctive from Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “My personal feeling is that there are not nearly enough stamens for a real cactus flower, so I’m going to go with: fake flowers, real plants.”

The Ficus Wrangler wrote, “I see fallen leaves in the cactus, and I can’t believe anyone would be perverted enough to stick fake dead leaves in a fake cactus to make it look real, and I also don’t believe anyone would stick fake flowers on a real cactus just to fool the gullible. So I say real.”

Steph from Indianapolis wrote, “Oooh those are lovely!! REAL”

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “Real. Claret Cup cactus, i believe”

That’s four votes real, one vote fake and real, zero votes for all 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 really cool looking! I love how a plant that’s so thorny and nasty can have such delicate and brightly colored flowers. The flowers seem fake because that’s such a weird combo. All in all, that’s a win in my book.

And in yours – well played everyone. Joseph, you were first with the correct answer, which makes you the best answerer. For being so swift and accurate, this week you’ve earned the following epithet: I’m Fast, I’m Speedy, I Look Good in a Bikini, Heyho, Heyho, I Have a Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Plant Brain and I’m a Champion!

So if you’re at a party this weekend and meet someone new, you should introduce yourself as Joseph Brenner I’m Fast, I’m Speedy, I Look Good in a Bikini, Heyho, Heyho, I Have a Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Big Plant Brain and I’m a Champion! I’m sure you’ll forge lifelong bonds.

Congratulations! Please, multiply all the prizes by an assortment of Little Debbie snacks as my thank you to you.

Everyone who played is a winner. Congrats, thanks for playing! To show my appreciation for you playing, I’d like to award each of you the following prizes: One happy Mother’s Day weekend, an extra shot of espresso, three catfish, a trip to Funkytown, 14 1/3 bonus points, one gold-plated trophy, denim, Raton Pass, four compliments, a value-added prize, one prairie dog mascot, a little Euphorbia milii, one ranchero burger, glory, a new fragrance, six shooting stars, a third ear, tap shoes, five moveable mountains, two congratulatory messages from overseas, a gift for Mom, alfredo sauce, one closet organizer and hand creme. Thank you again!

Up next, the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Are these plants 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 MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) next Thursday, May 15th, to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after next week’s panel of Experts. The prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

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