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After the recent U.S. Presidential election, I vented about my sadness (which still hasn’t faded to this day) and promised to share more advice from our beloved Expert Dottie Correll. Because she’s awesome. And she’s 90 – she’s lived through a lot of shit.

I started this blog in 2009, so it was already after Barack Obama won his historic first-term. It was before I started the “Ask the Experts” column every Friday, so I don’t have written evidence of any of their opinions.

But I did ask them what they thought after the 2012 re-election of President Obama. I enjoyed Dottie’s answer quite a bit – it reflects her passion for this country.

(For the full Experts panel, with each of their unique takes on the question, you can access the the original post here.)

Here’s how it went down with Dottie.

I asked:

Q. Everyone’s minds are on the Presidential election next week. Would you please share with us what you’d like to see in America’s future?

Dottie’s response:

dottie_jpg3

A. In my 87 years of traveling around this fascinating globe of ours, I’ve witnessed ups and downs, recessions and repressions and I’ve never found another country finer, more able to meet and cope with the challenges or ultimately more agreeable than the good old USA.  In spite of all the “ugly warts” and “hogknobs”, the USA always comes through!  When asked about the future of our country, what you see here is an eternal optimist and positive thinker.  An example I heard today:  Governor Christie and President Obama together discussed and put into action the help appropriate for the state of New Jersey to commence a speedy recovery from the devastation of “Hurricane Sandy”!  That’s a big beginning of the kind of cooperation we need to get this country back on the right track.

I saw it in action, when I have been a part of the recovery of many disasters the past 40+ years as a volunteer disaster casework supervisor with the American Red Cross—most especially in NEW YORK at “9/11”.

I spent a large part of my childhood growing up in the worst depression the country has ever known.

When the chips are down, and push comes to shove, Americans pull together and get the job done!  Check the history – We may make many goofs along the way, but we hang in there until we get it right!

I see a tough road ahead, but one the USA can travel with grit and determination and succeed.

That’s America!   The American way!  God Bless the USA!

Thanks Dottie! I needed that.

 

 

Please say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our beloved Expert Dottie, who officially became a nonagenarian today.

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90 years old is an impressive feat. To do it with style and grace is extraordinary. Happy birthday Dottie! We love you!

(photos courtesy of Cindy Correll)

 

Heeeeyyyyyyy, look who it is:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, it's a Sedona life

It’s everyone’s favorite octogenarian – soon to be nonagenarian – Expert Dottie!

I recently visited her in Sedona, Arizona to see her new digs. Nice views, eh? We took an early morning walk, and it was breathtaking.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, it's a Sedona life

Once the sun popped up, the views became even more stunning.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, it's a Sedona life

Of course, the company was even better than the views.

I neglected to take selfies with her – we got sidetracked. For those of you wondering, Dottie’s doing awesome. It’s hard to believe she’ll be 90 in a couple of weeks, or that a year ago around this time she was preparing for heart surgery.

She’s once again charming everyone around her and making tons of new friends. As is her usual M.O.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, it's a Sedona life

We did a couple of laps, then sped off for breakfast and a busy day.

If anyone would like to send Dottie birthday wishes, I will happily pass them along to her. I’m sure she’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Hey, look who I found! It’s Expert Dottie! She’s an expert in life!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Dottie and Me

She’s doing great, and was an absolute delight to see! Beautiful views and wonderful company.

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. This week I’m going to be picking up my blogging game a bit, as there is much to discuss – namely, firsts in the garden.

It’s hard for me to believe that while people in other parts of the country are still grappling with snow and sleet, here in Phoenix my vegetable garden is thriving. I’ll be harvesting when most of you are just beginning to plant. Crazy!

Before I get to my garden firsts (first flower, first tomatoes, first lemon), I thought I’d share some photos from a few weeks ago, when Expert Lewis and his wife Siri graced us with their presence, and prompted an experts reunion of sorts. (For new readers, for years I hosted an Ask the Experts panel every Friday on this blog – Lewis and Dottie were two of my esteemed experts, they are experts in life.)

Lewis and Siri were in the state for an American Red Cross conference, and decided to swing by Sedona to meet up with Dottie and myself. A good time was had by all!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Experts in life

(Dottie, Lewis, Siri)

IMG_1362

(Dottie, Lewis, Myself)

Sedona sure is a beautiful place:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Experts in life

…another photo with Dottie:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Dottie and me

She is safe and sound at her home in Sedona. Free at last, and on the mend. Finally feeling like herself again, pre-heart surgery.

For those of you who have never visited Arizona, Sedona is a special spot about an hour and a half north of Phoenix. Here’s a glimpse of what it looks like:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Dottie and me

It’s stunning. Definitely worth the detour if you come to the state to visit the Grand Canyon.

Yay for Dottie going home!

Hello everyone, and happy day!

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

I’m sorry it’s taken me a few days to finally roll out this Panel of Experts post. It’s been a busy past few days! I appreciate your patience.

Let’s get our festivities started right away. 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.

Here’s this week’s question:

Q. Tell us about the best pet you ever had.

Expert Andy Williams, you’re up first:

A. I’m a dog guy and I’ve been lucky enough to have two awesome dogs over the years.  Suzy was my first dog, a black mutt that wandered onto my porch when I was 5.  She made it until my freshman year of college.  She was attached to my hip all the time and very protective.  Then came Rambo, a salt & pepper mini schnauzer.  He was a character and smart as a whip.  He knew many words like “walk”.  When you’d say that he’d start hopping around and actually go into the hutch it was stored in and retrieve it to go for a walk. He’d spend most of his days sitting on the couch and looking out the front window watching the squirrels hop up and down the large maple tree in our front yard.

As an aside, the Sleepy Dog Brewing Co. in Tempe, AZ has a slogan that states “You never forget your first dog.”  And they put it on a T-shirt which I secured at the Flagstaff Beerfest a few years ago.  Every time I wear that shirt I remember Suzy.  So, they’re right.

A. I had a great cat a little more than 10 years ago, the first cat I really ever had. He was a mean little bastard, hated everyone except for me, for reasons I never really understood. I had never been a cat person before that, but that little guy was loyal. He hissed and scratched at everyone else, but was perfectly calm and nice to me. He was kind of a like a dog in that he followed me around, always looking for attention. He would even fetch little balls of paper I would throw to him. I’d wake up with him laying in the crook of my elbow or even sometimes on my neck. Could have done without the neck part.

Great cat. I haven’t had a pet of any kind since he passed.

A. Frankie was a little terrier, mostly black with splashes of white. He liked to follow me when I pushed my gold Stingray bicycle over rough dirt roads and hard red clay. He got into his share of mischief — with a skunk, with a porcupine, even a rough go with a rattler. There is no need in this space to bring up how he died. Just know he was a good dog, with a friendly disposition and a boy could never have had better company. 

A.

Without a doubt, “Himalaya Harry” was the most delightful and interesting pet we ever possessed. We saw an ad in the paper that one of the airlines had flown in a plane load of baby Minah birds from the Himalaya Mountains to be sold at a large department store in downtown Cleveland. We had a family meeting and all agreed that we needed to add this to our animal world and what fun it would be to raise this fledgling and teach him to talk! Minahs are known to be the best mimicers of the spoken word!

Off the 6 children and I went to find this new family member. Mature Minah birds are a vision of beauty to behold. We were not prepared to find the fledglings looking like rejected sparrows. At any rate, the children made their choice and we made sure to find him a fine cage that would become his very own quarters, found a book that described his feeding, care and training and purchased the proper food.

In the ensuing weeks, while the children were in school, I would spend the recommended 15 minutes of “Talk Training” each day. At the end of 6 weeks, I thought we had been scammed and given a bird that couldn’t talk. All he would do is look at me and express: “AWWWWWWK” – A week passed and by then he had acquired his adult plumage and was a beautiful to look at but no talk. Suddenly, one evening when we had company over, he heard all this laughter and joined in and then began to talk. He repeated everything I had taught him, plus everything he selected to remember that the children said. He even imitated the voices of each of us, sang the songs we had taught him. He ended up with a vocabulary of over 200 words plus many songs and sayings and copied my daughter Karen’s laugh exactly. He also delighted in vexing me with calling –Mom, Mom!—sounding just like one of the children—-I would retort with—“Don’t yell – if you want something come here and ask me” Then foolishly I would realize that it was Harry because the children were all in school.

The funniest episode occurred when our neighbor across the street, relayed a story about another neighbor that we all thought of as that “Dirty Old Man”. Our neighbor was lovely to look at and delighted in gardening in her short shorts. One day as she was working in her flowers she heard this wolf whistle and a man’s voice saying, “What a doll—What a doll!” She was incensed and called her husband and told him that nasty neighbor was annoying her again and whistling at her and making unseemly remarks. Her husband immediately went across the street and read the man out for his behavior toward his wife. The neighbor just stared open mouthed and said nothing as her husband marched defiantly back across the street. As she relayed this story several weeks later, I recalled that on that particular afternoon, I had placed Harry in his cage outside on our stone table to get some sun. I recognized that was one of Harry’s favorite sayings that the boys had taught him. He would Make the wolf whistle and then repeat “What a doll” over and over again and then laugh uproarishly! Needless to say we had a lot of explaining to do to many! However, Harry brought us years of Joy and many memorable moments.

——————

Liza here. Expert Lewis is unavailable this week. Let’s admire his adorableness:

And wrap up the Experts Panel.

Yaaaaaaay – Dottie’s back! Loved, loved, loved that story, Dottie. I can’t even imagine a Cleveland department store selling birds, but it was a different time then. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

Fellas, I enjoyed your stories as well. They each made me smile. Thank you for sharing your pet memories with us.

That’ll do it for this week’s Panel of Experts. The Experts will be back soon!

Up next, the answer to the current 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:

Joseph Brenner of Texas wrote, “I vote real. And, barring another round of storms, I think we’re in the clear. The levees have been going down, finally.”

mr_subjunctive of Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “Fake?

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “A very real and completely georgous claret cup cactus.”

jangogh61 wrote, “Real beautiful cactus!”

Carmen wrote, “Real. Cacti have the some of the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen….which is why I find it sad that stores sell them with fake straw flowers a lot of the times….they can’t compare to the beauty of the real things!!”

Jason from Garden in a City wrote, “Wow! As a person who really likes red and orange flowers, I’d say that is one spectacular plant! As for your quiz, I say real.”

Nancy Popp Mumptom of Phoenix wrote, “I know it is real because I have one like it in my front garden!”

That’s five votes real, one vote fake.

What’s the correct answer?

Maybe a wider view will help:

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

REAL! But personally, I think they look fake because they are almost too perfect. Up close, it’s hard to believe that something so delicate could possibly grow from something so harsh. They sure are spectacular, aren’t they? They’re blooming all over Albuquerque right now. This one belongs to a client of mine and it took my breath away.

Good job, everyone! It’s awesome that you played my puzzler!

To show you my appreciation for playing, I’d like you each to have the following prizes: The downward slide of June, one premier status, three cowboy hats, imminent summer, five gold stars, a lemon tree, one roadtrip to winningville, blue eye shadow, four avocado wontons, 13 1/2 bonus points, one dance contest, Mount Taylor, an ice cream maker, six bees knees, a trophy made of salami, one white picket fence, two skylines, William, four kiwi fruits, organic windchimes, the title of “plantiest” for the week, five sugar cookies, two gift cards, one game night, three parakeets, garlic salt, two compliments on your hairdo, plaid, a new propane grill, 7th Street, four diagonal lines, a peach sunset, and one water fountain.

Congratulations, and thanks for playing!

Up next, a new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Are these flowers 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) Thursday, June 25th, to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winners 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.

Hello Ju-Junebes, and happy Friday!

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

As the world begins to shut down another week, on this site, we’re gearing up for Friday Festivities. I’ve got an all-new Ask the Experts Panel for you, as well as plenty of plant puzzler action.

Let’s start 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.

This week, I decided to give the Experts a chance to toot their own horn. Here’s the question:

Q. What do you think is your best personality trait?

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

A.
I think that my best personality trait is being a nice guy.  I continue to listen to people describe me this way, particularly after my harsh divorce.  Prior to this, perhaps I heard it but it didn’t sink in because of the turmoil of my personal life.  Divorce is a horrible thing.  But it was also a time of deep personal reflection for me.  It allowed me to find myself and determine who I am.  That process is still ongoing.  I learn more about me every day.  And one specific thing has stuck out throughout the timeline.

Approximately 2 years ago, I was meeting with a gentleman in Indiana.  His brother was getting married, and he asked me if I had known of his brother’s wife, whom he mentioned by name.  It turns out, I dated her for a long time during and a bit after college.  He told me that she had referred to me as “the nicest guy she’d ever dated”.

Then, just last week at a formal dinner event, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a wonderful woman whom I’ve known for several years.  As I was telling her about my “new life” and expressing how happy I am, she told me the following; “I am so happy for you to have found someone who realizes what a special and nice guy you are.”

Certainly, there are a lot of other things I could’ve been called.  But I will certainly take “nice” and run with it.

A.
I really don’t enjoy tooting my own horn, it makes me uncomfortable; in fact, I don’t enjoy anyone tooting my horn. My attitude toward this is along the lines of the old Groucho Marx quote: “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” I immediately look with a jaundiced eye at anyone who gives me a compliment, myself included.

Gun to my head: I’m smart and I have a pretty good sense of humor. Those are my major redeeming qualities.

A. Best personality trait?  I’m funny. No really. Well maybe not funny funny.  Just, well, kinda funny. Not laugh out loud funny. Just, hmm, that’s funny.

—————-

Expert Dottie is unavailable this week. Let’s admire her adorableness:

And move on to Expert Lewis Casey. Lewis, what say you, fine sir?

A. I care.

Lewis, look at you being all brief this week! That’s new for you, haha! But really, that short phrase is incredibly accurate at describing yourself.

EZ, I think you’re hilarious! And your answers always make me smile. Thank you for this week’s contribution. Thack, I know you hate tooting your own horn, but you’re correct – you are smart and you have a wicked sense of humor. Well played! Andy, yeah, you’ve got that Midwestern niceness about you! I think it’s cool that you have lots of examples where you know what people think about you.

It’s probably good that Dottie sat this one out – she’s got too many wonderful qualities to narrow it down to one. She’s compassionate, kind, loving, brilliantly funny, intelligent, genuine, talented…the list goes on and on. I hope she feels better soon!

Let’s call that a wrap for this week’s Panel of Experts. The Experts will return in a week. They hope to see you back here.

Up next, the current 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:

mr_subjunctive from Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “Partly real. Real leaves, fake flowers.”

Joseph Brenner from Texas wrote, “Real plant, fake flowers and butterfly.)B>{D}

Can you put a rush on that life raft? They’re closing highways out of Texarkana like crazy!”

Carmen wrote, “I agree, real plant (peace lily maybe?) And very fake flowers. I don’t like them together, it looks like a toodler stuck the fake flowers in there…at least I hope so, any adult who thinks it looks good has very bad taste!! Lol”

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “That is a real plant south fake flowers. And I’m really indifferent.”

That’s four votes for real plant, fake flowers. Zero votes for anything else besides a life raft (hope you’re staying safe, Joseph!)

What’s the correct answer?

Let’s take a closer look:

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

Oh yes, the plant is real. The flowers and butterfly very fake. I saw this at my bank and it made me groan. Why ruin the look of a perfectly good plant with fake flowers? I have no idea who thought that would look attractive.

But way to go, everyone. You totally weren’t tricked in the slightest! Well done!

I’d like to show my appreciation for you playing by awarding you the following prizes: The first weekend of June, one chrome trophy, cheese enchiladas, four gold medals, 16 bonus points, your own personal mascot, three treasures, two postage stamps, a gazebo, the title of “grooviest, awesomest, bestest, coolest, winningest plant person ever” for the weekend, Shelby County, one limousine ride, three hummingbird feeders, a hillside, two spare jazz hands, 15 minutes on a Ferris Wheel, six more rewards, two baby ducks, four cherry empanadas, Karen, a coupon for unlimited dog kisses, Rio Grande Boulevard, one new garbage disposal, a radio dedication in your honor, three folded napkins, five surprises, two petroglyphs, time and a half, one ankle bracelet, 12 extra golden years, two grilled cheese sandwiches, and one coin flip.

Congratulations, and thanks for playing!

Up next, a new puzzler for you.

???Real or Fake???

I’ve used a similar plant to this in the past, but not this exact one. Do you think these flowers and the plant are 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, June 11th, to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winners 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.

Hello endofmayersandmayerettes, and happy Friday!

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

Woohoo, it’s Friday! We’ve been patiently waiting all week for this day to arrive. So, let’s rejoice!

Let’s get our Friday Festivities started by saying hi to our 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 may have asked my Experts this question in the past, not sure, but everyone loves a good ghost story, right? I decided to ask again.

Q. Please share with us a ghost story.

Expert Andy, what say you?

A. No ghost stories here, although the movie that probably scared me the most was the Amityville Horror.  That house was the definition of haunted.  Whether ghosts were behind it or not, who’s to say.  But if that’s what a ghost is and does, I’m out.

A.

I may have told this one before, but it still (pardon the pun) haunts me to this day.

My daughter was born in April, 2003; my father died in January, 2003. The fact that he never met his granddaughter still makes me emotional. Anyway, one night I heard Samie giggling in her room in the middle of the room, she must have been 3 or 4 at the time. So I go in to ask her what is going on. She tells me, very matter of fact, that she just saw my dad outside the window, making funny faces and being silly. I say, how do you know it’s my dad, you’ve never seen him. She says “It was Grandpa Paul. He looked like you, but it wasn’t you.”

She insists to this day (she’s now 12) that she saw my father that night. Freaks me out every time I think about it.

A. I was told the story several years ago. She was 19 at the time, but she said when she was a child and alone in her bedroom one night, she noticed smoke coming from the wooden window sill. She moved toward the window, then felt a presence behind her. She turned and thought she saw her grandfather. But the image was quickly gone. The smoke also disappeared, but the wood felt warm. This happened a couple of times. Her grandfather had died years earlier, in a fire. When she told me the story, her voice was calm, but low, as if she did not want anyone else to hear.

————————

Liza here again. Expert Dottie is unavailable this week. Booooo! Let’s admire her adorableness:

And move on to Expert Lewis. Lewis?

A.

Morning,
Rain,rain,rain, sorry to much rain
I am in Denver to celebrate my
niece’s Katie high school graduation today. She is a great kid / young woman and we love her dearly.
Her dad who lives near Dallas was planning to be here but his home was flood on Monday and he was evacuated and staying in a shelter.
Last night he was trying to fly here but the rain delayed and then canceled his flight.
The river is rising again and his home will probably be flooded again.
Ok I love the rain but maybe sometimes enough is enough.
Pray for those in peril and make a donation to the American Red Cross or some other worthy aid organization the need is great.
Thanks
L

Well those answers ran the gamut, didn’t they? I was amused with Andy’s answer – I remember being terrified by that movie back in the day. Both Thack’s story and EZ’s were SUPER CREEPY!!!!! Yikes, those gave me goosebumps!

And Lewis, I’m sorry about your family – those floods in Texas are awful! And there’s more rain on the way for them. It’s really a bad situation all the way around. My prayers go out to everyone affected.

Let’s call that a wrap for this week’s Panel of Experts. The Experts will return in a week. They look forward to seeing you back here.

We’ll move on to the current puzzler now:

???Real or Fake???

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

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

Let’s see how you answered:

Joseph Brenner of Texas wrote, “That looks like a very real pitcher plant.)B>{D}”

It seems that Joseph was the only person brave enough to venture a guess this week. Thanks Joseph!

So how did he do?

Let’s take a wider view:

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

I’m not sure if this photo is helpful or not, but IT’S REAL! All the flowers in this bouquet are real. And really pretty, too!

Real plants and flowers are always better looking than their fake counterparts. Fake plants are expensive, they get dusty, and they don’t clean the air in a room – so why bother? I can actually see the benefit of fake flowers at times – they can be artsy and they certainly last longer. But I still would rather have real flowers any day, fresh bouquets are lovely in the home.

Great job Joseph! I’m not surprised – you’re very skilled at this game. I hope you’re staying safe over there in Texas.

To show my appreciation for you playing, I’d like to award you the following prizes: The end of May, one life raft, one diploma from the school of fresh flowers, three kudos, a salad spinner, 15 1/2 bonus points, one swimming pool, three Opuntia in bloom, five pushups, Cojita, four shades of blue, Brent, seven biscochitos, one swimming pool, three spare big toes, grapefruit juice, two basketballs, Bernalillo County, one pedicure, a vacation to tomorrow, 6th Avenue, two small Koala bears, four Spanish songs, one ceiling fan, four flour tortillas, a gentle breeze, three constellations, one cheerful forecast, four hamburger buns, two Birds of Paradise trees, five accolades, three compliments on your outfit, a chess board, less rain, and a jar of maple syrup.

Congratulations! And thanks 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

Fair warning: THIS MIGHT BE A TRICK QUESTION!!!!!

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, June 4th, to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winners 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.

Hello memorialists, and happy Friday!

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

Yay for Friday. And yay for holiday weekends. I hope everyone has something interesting planned. I hope it involves some form of honoring our fallen heroes. Or just grilling. Whatever, it’s a holiday from work – do what you like!

Let’s get right to our Friday Festivities by saying hello to our beloved 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.

Sometimes, I like the Experts to have the freedom to say whatever they would like. This is one of those weeks:

Q. Open question – share a story, tell us about your family, talk about upcoming vacations, anything that’s on your mind.

Expert Andy Williams, you’re up first:

A. As I write, I am on my annual pilgrimage to the Indy 500.  This will be my 33rd consecutive year attending this event; the largest attended sporting event in the world.  Over 250,000 amidst the world’s most glorious raceway.  Every year, Taps is played before the race and 250,000+ people go completely silent.  Try keeping a dry eye in the midst of that.  It is not possible.  Perhaps it is that that draws me back, which would be enough to be sure.  Thank You to all of those who have served, and particularly those who have given their lives for freedom and the pursuit of our American way of life.  Where opportunity is truly open to all, amidst seemingly mountainous hurdles, at times.  For it was many soldiers who have given all of us this opportunity to scale such mountains.

A. I’m going to London and Scotland this summer, completing my tour of the British Isles that I started last year by visiting Ireland. People have been asking me what triggered this sudden urge to become a world traveler, and I’ve given them a simple answer: do it now, because life is short and unpredictable. Carpe diem, basically. I know that is cliched (which I normally abhor) but it’s true. I’m going to do all of this now because I can. The events that drove me to this conclusion are far too personal to share here, but suffice it to say that when you come face to face with your mortality, really stare into the abyss, I mean really stare into it and grok it, you’re changed. And I returned from that with a sense of urgency to do everything I ever wanted to do now.

That turned out way deeper than I intended, I apologize. Dottie, I hope you’re recovering well! Best to everyone, thanks!

A. Between the two great wars, when folks had little more than prayers to cling to, my grandfather hopped a freight train to California. When he got there he found the work was no better, the prospects no more golden than the ones he had shed in New Mexico. After a few weeks, he tired and knew it was time to go home. He walked to the beach so that he could say he at least saw the great Pacific, then climbed aboard a train heading east. When he was home, he gave my grandmother a small crate of oranges and never left her side for the next seventy years.

——————–

Liza here. Dottie is still recovering and is unavailable to join us this week. However, I’m happy to report that I was able to pop in on her last week and see her person. Which was awesome.

Here we are showing off a beautiful vase that Lewis’s son made and that Lewis gifted to Dottie for her being so amazing:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, me and Dottie

Please ignore that I’m stepping on her oxygen line. Thankfully, I didn’t kill her during my visit, and we had a great time catching up. I can assure you, her sense of humor is fully intact.

So while she’s not here with us today, she’s doing well. Let’s admire her sunfloweryness:

And move on to Expert Lewis. Lewis, what say you, fine sir?

A.

Catch a rain drop on my tongue, Dry my face off because I’m too stupid or overjoyed to get out of the rain, Drive in the rain-always be cautious-slow down,

Sleep while it is raining, Eat during a rain storm, Smile at the rain,

Talk about the incredible rain, Write about the loving rain,

Smile again about more great rain, Visit while it is raining , Laugh at the rain,

Walk in the rain, Get drenched-soaked and  dripping wet caught in a beautiful downpour,

Stand under a buildings eves during a fabulous rain because I already was soaked the day before by a sudden stunning rain, Read about the glorious rain, Bike or try too while it rains-not as much fun as on a sunny day,

Sit in the shade under a raining sky, Fish in the rain,

Get the hell out from under the tree while a great rain fall and scary lightning dance,

Grow in the rain-give thanks in the sun,

Plants love the rain too-you can see it in their smiles as they dance in the rain

Oh the glorious rain, rain, rain, rain, and even more rain

It is raining in New Mexico lots, we are smiling lots

Yes indeed, the glorious rain. We’ve been very lucky the last week or two with an abundance of rain in the desert. I hope it never stops.

EZ, I love that story, how very cool. 70 years, wow! Thack, I like your dark side! We look forward to hearing about your travels. And Andy, I’m jealous that I won’t be joining you for the race. Readers, I think I’ve said this before, but the Indianapolis 500 should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s truly the greatest spectacle in racing. The cars are so loud that they make your whole body shake, which of course, is a hoot, so you spend the whole race laughing. And even if you’re not a race fan, there is something very special about sharing an experience with hundreds of thousands of other people. It’s a perfectly wonderful American tradition.

And then there’s the Hoosier Hospitality to make it even better. Even though there’s no Jim Nabors this year singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” (my personal favorite part of the day), it will no doubt still be an incredible day at the track. Andy, have a ball!

Ok, that’ll do it for this week’s Panel of Experts. The Experts will return in a week. They hope to see you back here.

Readers, if you have any questions you’d like to pose to the Experts, shoot me an email or leave your question in the comments section. These Panels are supposed to be fun for you, so we can talk about what you’d like. Just let me know!

Now, let’s move on to the current puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

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

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

Let’s see how you answered:

Joseph Brenner of Texas wrote, “You got me with that one, because it was both fake AND dead looking. But I’m pretty sure this Hibiscus is 100% real.)B>{D}”

Judy from Ohio, who happens to be one of Dottie’s daughters, wrote, “Fake? The very end looks plastic to me”

Niteflywoman wrote, “Real looks like a pic I took of my sister-in-laws flower.”

Ginny Burton of Burton Optician wrote, “Real. The tips of the stigma have that velvety look that I don’t think you’ll see in an artificial flower.”

Terry wrote, “It looks too “perfect” to be real…..so I believe it is! Nature has a way of exceeding itself in beauty.”

That’s four votes real, one vote fake.

So what’s the correct answer?

Let’s take a wider view:

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

Ooh, sorry for the bad quality photo. But the flower is REAL!!! This was taken in Florida way back in February. I don’t see too many Hibiscus flowers in Albuquerque, so I was drawn to these. I just love how pretty they are. There’s no way a manufacturer to could duplicate Nature’s beauty.

Way to go everyone! You did great!

To show you my appreciation for you playing, I’d like to award each of you the following prizes: One Memorial Day weekend, a billboard advertising your awesomeness, four jumping jacks, one pink tutu, the taste of the wind, 18 bonus points, a plaque with the inscription “You’re the Best!”, six moonrises, 33 fast cars, five hamburgers, yarn, Calle de los Suspiros, six hugs, a spare set of sideburns, a tiny gargoyle, seven biscochitos, two triangles, Josh, a pair of bejeweled sandals, one new coat of paint, four instances of benevolent mischief, two new Flamenco dance moves, four hot dogs, one parade in your honor, a bouquet of Nigella flowers, one ponytail, Milwaukee, three tube socks, five pickle slices, one stained glass window, nine waning days of May, one shower curtain (slightly used), four golf balls, one Kalanchoe houseplant, a bottle of shampoo, Tijeras Avenue, the unofficial start of summer, three elves, Gila National Forest, three mozzarella balls, and one trophy made from chewing gum.

Congratulations, and thanks for playing!

Up next, a new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Let’s do another flower. Is this flower 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, May 28th, to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winners 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.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.

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