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Old satellite dish becomes yard art

SUNDAY, APRIL 25, 2010

Mother, daughter work mushroom magic

BENTON CITY, Wash. – Neighbors don’t look twice at the dozen or so rainbow-hued bowling balls in Shirley and Donnie Merritt’s yard.

Passers-by usually don’t even notice the brightly colored splotches in the lawn where their grandkids spray-painted them.

What does catch people’s eye is the Merritts’ new piece of garden art. After all, it’s hard to ignore a giant mushroom.

The oversized ’shroom is the handiwork of Shirley and her daughter, Kandi O’Brian, of Wenatchee.

Their inspiration?

An old-fashioned satellite dish, about 10 feet in diameter, once owned by Shirley’s son-in-law and daughter, Penny and Gary Miller, of Cashmere.

Mother and daughter created their whimsical sculpture recently while O’Brian was visiting. They had Donnie Merritt set a steel pole in concrete, and when it hardened, the creative duo went to work.

The two decided the pole looked too skinny, so they slipped three tomato cages over it, stacking one on top of another, and wired them together. They filled black garbage bags with dirt and rocks and piled them around the pole. The top bags they filled with pine needles and cones.

They wrapped the bags with chicken wire and headed for the Dollar Store, where they bought 25 or 30 bags of florist’s moss. They glued the moss to the chicken wire and finished their handiwork with a protective coating of polyurethane.

Then it was time to top the pole with the big gray dish.

It took three people to hoist it into place. Then Shirley Merritt scrambled up and bolted it to the pole.

Everyone stood back, looked at it for a few minutes and decided gray was boring. Within 24 hours, Thunder Road had a new landmark: a huge red mushroom embellished with bright polka dots.

“It’s quite fun to see the cars go by and people looking. It’s a lot of laughs, but it was a lot of work. We have about 20 hours into that mushroom,” Merritt said.


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