Frederick M. Hueston, PhD

Once again it is time to bring forth a frequently asked question: “You’ve probably seen a lot a strange things, haven’t you?” Brother, you’ve no idea.

You really can’t imagine the odd problems I’ve been asked to solve, so  I thought I would share some of the craziest ones, as well as my answers. It’s appropriate that I’m typing all of these as I listen to Flo and the Admiral argue about the Crisis of the Moment at my favorite greasy spoon, enjoying a bitter cup of joe.

Apparently, non-rolling stones not only gather moss, but grow liverwort as well, provided you feed it correctly.

Apparently, non-rolling stones not only gather moss, but grow liverwort as well, provided you feed it correctly.

Q: I am building a new limestone wall and want to match the growth on the old wall. Is there a way to make all this moss grow faster? 

A: For this question I had to call my old friend, a professor at one of the Ivy League colleges. He is a Botany professor, specializing in bryology, which is the study of moss and liverworts. He told me it sounded like the growth was not only moss, but liverworts. Now, I hate liver. My mom used to make it once a week. (Oh wait, that’s liverwort, not liverwurst!) 

“So what the heck is a liverwort?” I asked him. It is basically a leafy type of moss (see pic). So I asked him how the heck I can get it to grow fast. He gave me the following formula:

Mix a can of warm beer and some yogurt together and paint it on the new wall. Next, take a few samples of the moss and liverwort and place it on the painted wall. 

He told me this mixture will feed it and make it grow faster. I then asked him if it would make the moss drunk. He didn’t even laugh, but probably rolled his eyes.

Q: Mr. Stone Detective, I have read your column for years and have an unusual question and you’re the only person I could think of that might know the answer. Can termites eat my granite countertop? I had a carpenter tell me that I should use stainless steel since termites could destroy my granite countertop.

A:  This one was not a joke. This person was serious. I thought like writing her back with a message that said, “Here’s your sign.” (Only Bill Engvall fans will get that. If you don’t know who he is – Google him.) I told her that termites only eat wood, and since granite is made of minerals such as quartz and feldspar, they won’t want to eat your countertop. However, you might want to watch out for the cookie monster if you leave a cookie jar on the countertop. LOL!

Q: OK, this one is a little graphic. So kids, don’t read the following. This email was from a  lady who said she had stains on her shower wall and wanted to know how to get them out. 

A: Of course the key to stain removal is knowing what caused the stain, so I asked her if she knew what the stains were?  (OK, kids cover your eyes.) She told me that she and her husband like to have “fun” in the shower and they use all types of oils. Ohh-Kaay, good to know, but definitely too much information! I gave her a poultice formula and tried not to laugh.

Q: I was asked the following question years ago in a court of law. The young attorney threw a picture of a marble lobby up on the easel and asked me if I knew how old the marble was as he pointed to the picture.

A: I hesitated for a moment and told him I didn’t know the exact age but I could give him an educated guess. He told me to go ahead. I looked at the jury with a little smirk on my face and said, “About two to four.” I paused and then said, “Two to four hundred million years old.” The jury laughed and so did the judge. He wanted to know how old the installation was but he didn’t ask it properly. Everyone had a good laugh except the lawyer. I am sure he wont take that question for granite, again. LOL!

Q: My granite top smells like an old dishrag. How can I remove the smell?

A: Believe it or not, I have gotten this question several times over my career. It is usually a garbage disposal or drain where the smell is coming from, but in this case they insisted it was coming from the countertop. I hopped in the old Woody and headed on over to see – or should I say smell – for myself. Sure enough, it was coming from the countertop. I looked under the top and found that the wood was rotting. They had to have the top removed and the sub top replaced. It most likely rotted from a leak, somewhere.

Q: This email came during my radio show. (Yes, this is a shameless plug for

“I was told that the sealer that was used on my countertop had a lifetime warranty, is this true?”

A: I always answer this question with, “If you believe that, I have some etch-proof  marble you can buy!” (LOL!) Seriously, yes, there are lifetime warranties out there, and I would advise looking at the warranty carefully. Many times there are all kinds of disclaimers.

Do you have a question for the Stone Detective? If so, send an email to him at or call in to his weekly radio show