Hello brrrrrers, and happy Friday!

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

Oh dear – is it as chilly where you are as it is here in Albuquerque? Winter seems to have arrived a tad early this year. Hopefully everyone is staying warm out there.

We’ve got some fun Friday Festivities for you…a little something to warm your soul. We’ve got an all-new Ask the Experts Panel, plus a new plant puzzler for you. And of course, lots of fake prizes to hand out to everyone who played last week’s puzzler.

Let’s get the fun started by saying hi to the Experts. Hi everyone!


“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.

I was curious, so I decided to ask my Experts the following question:

Q. What’s your favorite part of being an American?

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

A. America is the best country on Earth. I have a passport, or 3, to prove it. We’ve taken the errors of many conquering nations, and made improvements to the environment for personal interests, equality and business.  Our forefathers had it right with the US Constitution.  I encourage you all to give it a read once per year.  Fathom the intelligence that went into starting a country!  They knew what they were doing.  Imagine a country with the Constitution as its doctrine.  That’s us. U.S.!

All the best,


A. Ok, so my tone this week is going to be insufferable, but this is a topic I think a lot about.

America makes it possible to be whatever you want to be. You can move anywhere you want and reinvent your life in any manner you see fit. You look around the world and you see this isn’t true for 90%+ of the world’s population. Most of that 90% will live, grow up, and die in the same place, without any possibility of anything better. If you’re an American, you’d have to be disconnected from reality not to wake up every morning and thank God that you were born in a place that at least makes it possible to be whatever you want to be.
Now to the implicit inverse of the question: what’s my least favorite part? The small, narrow-minded, self-righteous, entitled nonsense that permeates our politics and culture. The fact that you’re branded a socialist if you talk about the plainly self-evident economic inequality that threatens to undermine everything we stand for. The fact that most of our politicians seem to combine certitude and stupidity in equal measure.
If you grew up in east Texas like I did, you grow up loving America in a shallow, flag-waving way. I’m proud of the fact that I now love this country despite its obvious flaws and contradictions. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” remains a damned good mission statement 238 years later.

A. I love living in a country that spans a continent, then spills beyond it. It gives us mountains and seas, high deserts and flat prairie lands where harvest moons rise. It gives us cities where cultures can change with the turn of a corner block. It gives us histories that blend and voices that carry decades. It serves us songs that are old, rhymes that are new, stories that define us and hope to make us better. It allows us words.

A. This is a very good reason I am grateful and proud to live in America.  I know this is too long to post on the blog but what a patriot — all that he gave because we have “FREEDOM” IN THIS COUNTRY TO BE WHO WE ARE!!!! AND LIVE AMONG EVERYDAY HEROS LIKE VAN T. BARFOOT!  Thought you would enjoy reading this!!!

———–Liza here, I received this email from Dottie, and told her that I didn’t care if it was long, I was happy to post it anyway. So here it is, followed by photos that came with the email, then more from Dottie:

Remember the guy who wouldn’t take the flag pole down on his Virginia property a while back?

 You might remember the news story several months ago about a crotchety old man in Virginia who defied his local Homeowners Association, and refused to take down the

flag pole on his property along with the large American flag he flew on it.

 Now we learn who that old man was.

On June 15, 1919, Van T. Barfoot was born in Edinburg, Texas. That probably didn’t make news back then. But twenty-five years later, on May 23, 1944, near Carano , Italy , that same Van T. Barfoot, who had in 1940 enlisted in the U.S. Army, set out alone to flank German machine gun positions from which gunfire was raining down on his fellow soldiers.  His advance took him through a minefield but having done so, he proceeded to single-handedly take out three enemy machine gun positions, returning with 17 prisoners of war. And if that weren’t enough for a day’s work, he later took on and destroyed three German tanks sent to retake the machine gun positions. That probably didn’t make much news either, given the scope of the war, but it did earn Van T. Barfoot, who retired as a Colonel after also serving in Korea and Vietnam , a well-deserved Congressional Medal of Honor.

 What did make news…Was his Neighborhood Association’s quibble with how the 90-year-old veteran chose to fly the American flag outside his suburban Virginia home. Seems the HOA rules said it was OK to fly a flag on a house-mounted bracket, but, for decorum, items such as Barfoot’s 21-foot flagpole were “unsuitable”.

 Van Barfoot had been denied a permit for the pole, but erected it anyway and was facing court action unless he agreed to take it down. Then the HOA story made national TV, and the Neighborhood Association rethought its position and agreed to indulge this aging hero who dwelt among them.

“In the time I have left”, he said to the Associated Press, “I plan to continue to fly the American flag without interference.”  As well he should.

And if any of his neighbors had taken a notion to contest him further, they might have done well to read his Medal of Honor citation first. Seems it indicates Mr. Van Barfoot wasn’t particularly good at backing down.

Van T. Barfoot’s Medal of Honor citation:

This 1944 Medal of Honor citation, listed with the National Medal of Honor Society, is for Second Lieutenant Van T. Barfoot, 157th Infantry, 45th Infantry




If you think it can be used, I think it is a beautiful story.  It not only demonstrates our inalienable rights to freedom but our right to disagree and conduct our life “our way” as long as it does not harm or hurt another citizen.  That is the first thought that came to mind was our “freedom”  We are able to move about from state to state and enjoy all the beauty and live anywhere in this great country.  We do not live in fear of our government—we may express our disdain and disappointment without fear of reprisal.  I truly have no desire to live anywhere else.


Liza here again. Expert Lewis Casey is normally up next, but he’s unavailable at the moment. If he can join us later this weekend, I’ll update the post right away. In the meantime, let’s admire his adorableness:

And start wrapping up this panel.

How cool were those answers? So authentic, so interesting. Thank you so much everyone! I enjoyed reading your responses.

Readers, what do you think? Want to chime in with your own opinion? You can leave your thoughts in the comments section.

That does it for another Ask the Experts Panel. The Experts will return next Friday, for one final Panel before they go on a much-deserved break for the upcoming holidays. They hope to see you back here.

Up next, the answer to last week’s puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

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

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

Let’s see how you answered:

Claude from the Random Rants and Prickly Plants site wrote, “Real. Im tired… insert smart alek comment here…”

Joseph Brenner from Texas wrote, “Definitely real!(B>{D}”

Ivynettle from the Letters and Leaves site wrote, “This is kind of a tough one, but I’ll say real as well.

November might turn into my favourite month… because it’s World Fantasy Convention time, and WFC is just… beyond words.”

Carmen wrote, “Real, I’m thinking a type of large leaf Schefflera?”

Darryl Cheng, who has this cool tumblr site, wrote, “For the puzzle – I’ll guess real!”

That’s five votes real, zero votes fake.

What’s the correct answer?

Let’s take a wider look:

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

Real! And very pretty! Yes, Carmen, it’s a Schefflera, commonly called an Umbrella Tree. We always called them Amate trees. It’s very happy and healthy. It could use a bigger container because it’s on the verge of falling over, but that’s a good problem to have. A fake plant couldn’t fill the room the same gorgeous way that this real plant does. The real one adds so much to that space.

Great job, everyone! You all nailed it!

To show my appreciation for you playing, I’d like to award you the following prizes: One mid-November weekend, four patriotic opinions, seven loops, 14 1/2 bonus points, Clines Corners, six geodes, requited love, three restorations, two stuffed sopapillas, 12 treasure troves, one floor lamp, a high five, one Torreón Fresco, a new coffee pot, improved service, an A+, two baby racoons, 36 almonds, one bigger impact, Bernalillo County, a personal limo driver, 16 more points, new sunglasses, a certificate of completion, Alex, four safety pins, seven scenic views, comet sights and sounds, one tray of pinky fingers, nostalgia, 11 blessings, a jar of dill pickles, warmer weather (redeemable later), Alameda Boulevard, five caramel candies, three pillows, your own Schefflera plant, four ladybugs, a pair of slacks, coconut oil, navy blue, and the royal treatment.

Congratulations, and thanks so much for playing!

???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. You have until midnight MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) next Thursday, November 20th, 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.