Backyard Race Car Track & …Dinosaur Garden? 🚚🦕


Well.  Damn, you Pinterest.  Ha ha.  We made more progress on the Back Yard Race Car Track.  It may now also be a construction zone, gravel pit, monster truck arena, and dinosaur garden.  Molly even asked about building a volcano.  I do have an extra bag of concrete.

Check out the latest photos.  We added a gravel pit, some large rocks for edging-work to try to contain the gravel, and dug out the grass so we have a dirt pit.  Not sure if I should plant grass and leave a dirt track, or make it all a dirt pit.  I may try to buy some river rock to make the outside edges look a little neater, and mix some more extra sloppy concrete to smooth it over, and fill in the edges smooth.

I bet it will evolve greatly over time.

I’m anxious to see photos of other projects like this.  Show me what you’ve got in the comments!

 

 

🚧 🚧 🚧 👷 👷‍♀️ 🚚 🦕 🚗 🏁 🧚 🌱 🚧 🚧 🚧

🚧 🚗🏁 Backyard Race Car Track & Fairy Garden Construction! 🧚🌱🚧


So, on Labor Day this year, we labored.  We finally got around to pouring cement for the Backyard Race Car Track, and we started a Fairy Garden.

I have been sitting on the race car track idea for a while, and wondering what to do landscape-wise around the one small tree in the back.  We recently got some fairy garden furniture stuff as a gift… so we thought that would be a cool second (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th?) backyard play-space.

I had purchased some Quikrete coloring from Amazon a while ago, and some bags of Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix from Home Depot this Saturday knowing that we had a full day to work today.

We had also started the digging a while ago when Ian was over-zealous and wanted to “Dig, Dig Dig!” in the back yard.

We had an easy enough start, put down some gravel, and mixed two of the three bags of Sand/Topping Mix with the coloring.  I mixed it a little thick, and really what was all the coloring was meant to cover.  The track was only about ‎⅔ of the way complete.  So, I mixed the one other bag we had on hand.  It was a little sloppier and went on really well.  The kids helped in a kid-helping capacity, and Bethany did nearly all of the troweling/finishing work.  Molly told me that she wanted to use the trowel because that’s what “brick builders” use to put the stuff in between bricks.  I have no idea where she learned that.

So.  It was obvious we needed a quick trip back to Home Depot to get some more bags.  Ian & I went on a mission.

I asked the little man if we should get 3, or 4.  He was adamant about getting 4.  We also got the cheapest bag of garden soil, and some pebbles.  Sadly, the bottle of coloring didn’t last long, and maddeningly Home Depot didn’t carry it… even with two shelves full of Quikrete products.  I ended up asking if they had anything in the paint department, and they just had a concrete paint or dye to use after the fact.

We got back and Bethany made us a delicious salad for lunch.  We needed to re-fuel for more work out back!  I mixed 2 more bags, with some help:

After that, we did use just one more bag… but that’s OK.  I can use the rest for some driveway patch work now that I have some more recent practice with this stuff.  (A long time ago, I worked for a bit for a general contractor, and would sometimes mix mortar all day for the subcontracted bricklayers.)

For now, that’s about all we can do.  The bag says it needs to set up for five days.  Hopefully we can be patient and the neighborhood wildlife (including my children) stays out of it.  I did grab an odd old brick from out front that had originally been in the back yard, and made a sort of garage out of it.  I plan to get some river rocks or pebbles or something to kind of clean up the edges of the track.  Maybe they will need to go on with concrete, or some of that stuff that comes in a caulking-gun dispenser.  If they’re not stuck down, they will end up all over and most likely destroy my lawn mower.

The other quick family project was to make a fairy garden.  I was hoping to use stuff that we had around in addition to the recently gifted furniture and starter items.

After thinking about a couple of different ideas, we settled on me taking a chainsaw to some large branches and small logs that we had out back, and driving nails partway into the bottom so we could drive them into the ground and they would hopefully hold.  It worked!

I played with the chainsaw, demonstrated the nail technique, then Bethany and the kids did most of the nail-driving… and I think that was mostly Bethany.  Molly helped me place them around the tree in sort of a kidney bean shape, including an old wooden bucket that I think we bought from the estate sale of the previous owner of this house (who coincidentally said she would miss the little tree in the backyard most of all).

Then we pulled up 90% of the grass, and Ian hauled it away in his wheelbarrow.  We put down the bag of cheap garden soil and it was perfect for coverage & fairy garden decoration placement.  We also planted a small succulent plant that my mom had recently given us in a small pot that should be durable outdoors, but may look cool covered in small round stones so it looks like a fairy house.  We’re putting Grandma on craft duty to help make little projects to decorate the space.  I would love to use some of the stuff we have around the yard or house like tiny terracotta pots, or Popsicle sticks, or wire.

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Is it a #FairyGarden or a #SquirrelPlayground?

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It would be nice to plant some small ornamental succulents, moss, or super tiny flowers eventually too.  Luckily (?) Pinterest is an endless rabbit hole when it comes to fairy garden stuff.  Speaking of rabbits, our backyard is overrun with them as well as squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer, and who knows what else.  Think they’ll leave this stuff alone?

At any rate, playing in the dirt has been proven over-and-over to be good for you.  These spaces offer two additional opportunities for the kids to get into the dirt in the back yard.  It’s great to learn about gardening, ecosystems, using your imagination, and more… all without even realizing that you’re learning.

Check out some photos from the day if you have the time and interest, and let us know what you think in the comments!

 

 

If this is something you’d like to try yourself, check out these Pinterest boards for inspiration:

If it’s something you have tried yourself, please share your stuff in the comments!  I would love to see some other backyard family projects.

So, in the spring I want to build an outdoor Matchbox car race track… 🚗


How cool is this?

Since the bean house was a bit of a bust, maybe this will be a hit.  It looks like it can get as complicated or remain as simple as you’d like.  I have pinned a bunch of ideas.  I’d like to include an area for construction vehicles… maybe tiny pebbles, not sand.  I hate sand.  I like the use of the tire in the one… and the dirt road, and tunnels.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope to snag a bunch of ideas online, specifically Pinterest I guess. Looks super fun for both kids, and me!

Have you done anything like this?

Decoding the car horn honk. (So, can you help this PA n00b out?) #beep ⚠


Recently, I was contacted by a non-native PA resident as a sort of last ditch effort in providing an answer behind the reason to the local-ish custom of horn honking.  I believe a Google led to my blog on horn honking traffic trolls (or maybe one of many road rage posts).  As much as I’d like to proclaim myself an authority on all things ridiculous in Southwestern & Central PA, I must confess that I’d only be guessing here.  So, I’d like to ask you to help this southern transplant understand the ways of us nothern-ish-ers here in Pennsyltucky.

Here’s the email:

Name: Victoria

Email: XXXX####@gmail.com

Website: http://victoriasviewpoint.wordpress.com

Message / Comment:

Hi,

I really hope you can help me, and answer my question before I either lose my mind, or go running out into the street to flag down a driver and ask him/her.

A bit of background: I moved to Central PA 5 years ago from Memphis, TN.  It’s a very long and stupid story but, suffice to say, I am stuck in Hollidaysburg for now.  It’s not a bad little town.  And, compared to Memphis, it’s safety personified.

Anyway, I have noticed over the years that people honk their horns here.  A lot.  And not (seemingly) to acknowledge a friend they see on the street, as I have noticed this happen when there is NO one on the street (my street, in particular).

It always bugged me, and no one seemed to know why people do this (or it’s a stupid reason and they are ashamed to tell me), but today I really got in a snit.

From around 2:30 this afternoon for a good 5 minutes, people were honking their horns.  A lot of people, honking a lot of horns.  It annoyed me.

I looked on the internet, which is where I found your blog about horn-honking, and since you are in Pittsburgh, I thought you might be able to explain to me what in hell is with all this honking!  I didn’t see anything on the internet that it’s, say, “Hollidaysburg Annual Honk-Your-Horn Day” at 2:30 PM or anything.

It’s snowing a bit, the first time this season.  Is this some kind of weird weather ritual I never noticed until today?  “Honk if you like snow”?

To me, it just seemed like an exaggerated example of something I hear on an all-too-often basis.  And it’s, as we say in Memphis, getting on my last nerve!

Do you know what’s going on with this behavior??

Thank you in advance,
Victoria

How’d you find my blog?: searching for “Pennsylvania horn honking”

Time: November 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm
IP Address: ##.###.###.#
Contact Form URL: https://aixelsyd13.wordpress.com/contact/

Sent by a verified WordPress.com user.

And here are my thoughts:

Other than that, I’m stuck.  What say you, people of Pennsylvania?  Please comment below.  Victoria and I would appreciate it!

DON'T HONK | $350 PENALTY 🚌🚍🚙🚘🚗🚕🚖🚛🚚🚓🚔🚒🚑🚐

I just want a keyring.


I need a new keyring.  I haven’t ever been able to find one that meets my needs.  Perhaps my expectations are too high.  Perhaps there is no such thing as the perfect keyring.  Perhaps I need to spend more money on one.  Why is it so difficult?  Does anyone else have a keyring problem?

I guess I should explain myself.

I have a lot of keys.  I like to keep them all in one place.  I want a keyring where I can break-off my car keys & my wife’s car keys quickly & easily.  I recently bought a keyring that has a bunch of little carabiner-looking S-clips on it.  Let me show you:

Ridiculous Key Ring

Ridiculous Key Ring

Besides the fact that I have entirely too many keys, this keyring set up is juts not working out.  I want something that makes the vehicle keys quickly & easily removable.  I don’t want them to fall off on their own.  Arrow A shows one of the broken little S-clips that snags my pocket constantly.  These have also broken themselves free inside my pocket… or on the way out of my pocket.  I’ve dropped my house key on more than one occasion with this setup.  Then again, arrow B points to a traditional keyring provided by the dealer…  which has also come loose in my pocket.  I spent about 20 minutes looking for my keyless entry remote the other day after it loosened itself & ended up on the floor of my truck.

Apparently, when you pull keys out of your pocket, they help turn any loosened items into projectiles.  It’s just a matter if time until this happens over a storm drain or sewer grate.

There is the old-fashioned normal keyring, but I always seem to be able to only find weak ones… or ones that make it nearly impossible to just give the guys at the oil change place your truck keys and not some crazy giant bundle of chaos that might scatter my keys all over the place.

I’ve also tried those quick-release keyrings, but they eventually fail too when the spring dies.  Then there’s the “lucky line” kind, but it would throw some being easily removable out the window.  I’m at a loss as to what exactly the next step should be.

Keyrings

Keyrings

What do you do?  Do you have keyring problems?  Am I alone on this key-dropping crap?  Your advice would be welcomed.

Lack of posts, & the dumbest product ever.


LIVE MUSIC! SAT. JUNE 23 THE FALLOUT SHELTER.NET ROCK- ERNIE AND THE BERTS & FRIENDS

The sign outside of Sheffield Lanes/The Fallout Shelter in Aliquippa, PA this weekend.

I’ve noticeably slowed down with blogging.  Perhaps I was blogging too much before.  Real life has been happening lately.  The band played twice this weekend, my real job has been taxing, etc. Perhaps I’ll find inspiration more often in the days to come. 

Like this…

Groupon has successfully  shown me what I believe to be the absolute dumbest product ever:

Car Lashes ...Wait, car-freaking-lashes?

Car Lashes …Wait, car-freaking-lashes?

I could rant about it, but do I really need to?  There would a a Herbie/Love Bug joke, pointing out that putting them on a BMW decreases the value/classiness of the car, maybe a joke about truck nuts & just maybe a reference to the movie Cars even though I’ve never seen it.  Maybe even a joke about the dude I saw on My Strange Addiction who makes love to his car for the crowd who likes it blue.  Maybe even an Optimus Prime humping your car joke.  I have finally found something more annoying than flags on cars & more decorative than the mysterious stickermobile.  If you’re going to glue stupid stuff to your car, go all the way.

If there are any people out there with money to waste on stupid things, I’m taking donations so I can buy a Flycaster.

There’s a spider living in my mirror.


There's a spider in my mirror

Can you see the web? It’s pretty faint. There are diagonal strands across the mirror face.

I think a spider has made a home in my driver’s side rear-view mirror.  I took some photos, but my phone’s camera is terrible.  I decided to share them anyway.  Hopefully you can see something.

There have been some strands across the face of the mirror for a while now, and more recently it has built a web inside the curve of the mirror’s housing where it attaches to the car.

Do you see the web?

Can you see the extra web? It’s in the little curved part.

One one hand, I want to knock the web down & hopefully the spider will move along.  On the other, it has survived multiple drives, multiple rains, and just in general for about a week now… who am I to destroy it?

I’m guessing it lives back there behind the mirror.  I’d probably pick a similar spot if I was a spider.  The web is odd, it’s not the “classic” spider-web made famous by Halloween Decorations & Spider-Man’s costume.  It’s not the scary funnel web.  It’s some diagonal stands across the mirror and a weird shaped 3D thing inside that curve.  Apparently this isn’t that kind of spider, or it just didn’t pay attention in web-spinning class.

I swear, there really is a web there.

I swear, there really is a web there.

I haven’t ever seen any bugs in the web.  I hate bugs.  (Most of us do, right?)  I’m letting the spider stay out of hope that he’ll destroy our common enemy: All other bugs.  I really don’t like spiders.  They creep me out.  Especially little ones.  I held our science class’ pet tarantula in 4th grade… but she wasn’t as creepy as little spiders.  Those little brown recluse ones are nasty, I hope it’s not one of those.  Also… those little white spiders really creep me out.  (What are those things?)  I doubt it’s a black widow or a wolf spider.  I saw a wolf spider at camp one time that was as big as the palm of my hand… no exaggeration.  I woke up, and it was on the ceiling of the cabin above me.  I just let it go… as the cabin was in the woods and it belonged there more than me.

English: brown recluse as compared to a U.S.A....

English: brown recluse as compared to a U.S.A. penny (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I generally smash spiders as soon as I see them.  It’s usually a good idea.  One time, it wasn’t.  I was pretty young, and I stepped on this spider and a million (yes I counted) miniscule baby spiders ran out from it.  I freaked out, stomping around with both feet like I was putting out a fire or doing some kind of tribal dance.  I couldn’t have gotten them all.  I lived in fear of retaliation for many many years.  Maybe that’s why I still don’t like spiders.

I also remember renting Arachnophobia… watching about 5 whole minutes of it, and then popping the VHS tape out of the VCR and deciding not to continue.  I was too weird-ed out.

NEW Ultrasonic Spider Repeller

NEW Ultrasonic Spider Repeller

I’ve even thought about getting one of those things that you plug into the wall that are supposed to emit some kind of ultrasonic noise that spiders, bugs, and even rats don’t like.  Can that even work?  It just seems like a way to take my money for something that could in no way work as advertised.

Can anyone tell me what kind of spider this is from the web?  (If you can even see it.)  Should I crush the mighty arachnid now while I still can?  Will it make a million more little spiders that will overrun my car?

1: Places where spiders belong:

  • The Woods
  • The Desert
  • Outside
  • In the garden

2: Places where spiders don’t belong:

  • The Sink
  • The Bathtub
  • My Basement
  • The Bedroom
  • The Living Room

Where does my mirror fit in?  I’m guessing category 2, but I didn’t want to be too hasty.  Live and let live, unless you’re a mother spider carrying a bazillion spider babies, or one of said spider babies…

Apparently this happens to people everywhere.

I’m pretty sure this is illegal. (Driving advice for horn-honking traffic trolls.)


I’m pretty sure this is illegal, but I see it happen all the time.  Can someone of authority weigh in on this?  Opinions are of course welcome, but if you’re going to claim why it’s legal/illegal… you have to give me some kind of backup.

Let me describe the scenario with the help of an illustration thanks to Paint.NET, Google Maps, & a Google image search

This is a dick-move.

This is a dick-move.

We’ll pretend I’m the blue car, behind the white truck, and in front of the little yellow bastard.

The white truck is trying to make a left at the light, only problem being (use your imagination here) a flurry of automobiles in the other 2 oncoming lanes coming forth with less than a car-length in between them, and at a speed well over the posted 25MPH limit.  (Never-mind that here the middle lane switches traffic directions depending on the time of day – that’s a whole different ridiculous issue.)

Of course, the truck is forced to stop in what I would like to consider the middle of the intersection, causing frustration to rise exponentially for each halted vehicle behind the pale horse of immobilization.

As the truck plays the waiting game, and I hone my skills with the Force trying to will a break in traffic to allow him (or her) to turn and more importantly get out of my way… the impatient arrogant bastard behind me decides to honk the horn.

Honking the horn when one is stuck in traffic is the action of a self-absorbed angry little person.  A honk is expected & appropriate if someone cuts you off, someone’s sitting at a green light, or backing into you.  A honk is inappropriate when everyone is stuck, & no one can go anywhere.

Now, I know this indignant troll of a human being wanted me to take the path of the green arrow above… which is a common Pittsburgh driving move.  I’m sure it happens elsewhere too, but it’s quite common around here.  I believe said move is not only illegal, but also quite dangerous.  I know passing on the shoulder is discouraged if not illegal, and doing it in the middle of an intersection isn’t the best idea.

It’s dangerous for the following reasons if you must know, traffic troll:

  • Someone in the inside oncoming lane could also be making a left, not see me coming around the side of the truck, and we plow right into each other.
  • The truck decides he’s (or she’s) had it with waiting to make a turn, and plows ahead in frustration as I move around & try to merge into that lane.
  • Someone from the road on the right may be coming to the intersection to make a legal right on red while it’s obvious that oncoming traffic is at a stand-still.
  • A final sequence, however unlikely… the light changes while I’m going around, and someone comes from the left straight through their way, and smacks into the side of me.

If you think of any other reasons why it’s a bad idea, please let me know.  If you can show me a link where the laws concerning such vehicular interactions reside online (especially for PA), I’d love to pass the link along to the honking trolls out there.

If you’re a traffic troll, I’d like to express to you that all you’re doing is putting the person in front of you in danger, as well as potentially yourself, and adding to the aggravation levels of everyone around you… when they’re already sufficiently aggravated.

This has been brought to you as a public service announcement warning against the dangers of traffic trolls.  I’m sure PennDOT and the State Police would get behind this if they read my blog.

You’re not a traffic troll, are you?

Yinz Ain’t Drivin’ Right


I saw this video thanks to Twitter this morning… I’m pretty sure it’s the one I’ve heard talked about as being a clip on GMA yesterday.  It sparked awe in me, and perhaps obviously this point, a rant.

I’m not even sure where to begin.  I mean, I’ve been amazed for years about the lack of caution during hazardous road conditions from my fellow southwestern PA motorists… but this is beyond amazement.  If I were in charge of public service announcements, my #1 topic/message would be that “AWD/4WD may help you go, but it doesn’t help you stop“… and to leave space between you & the vehicle in front of (or beside) you.  Too many people just drive like nothing’s going on out of the norm as far as road conditions during inclement weather.   Then again, you have the other end of the extreme… people driving like they’re afraid, and being so ‘cautious’ that they’re a danger to others.  But that’s all general.  I’d love to just point out the insanity in this video.

  1. The White SUV – Okay.  I live not too far from here.  It’s obviously quite a hilly area like most of southwestern Pennsylvania.  I would avoid hills like this if at all possible when I knew there were icy or even snowy road conditions…  To a certain extent in these neighborhoods all routes out involve some sort of hill, but there are less “extreme” grades around.  I wonder what sparked the camera man to start taping at this point?  What auto-acrobatics led up to a “wow, I should get this on video” moment?  Think all 3 cars there were damaged, or just the 1st 2?
  2. The Speedy Sedan – Seriously?  Did you just miss the twirling SUV… and the minivan that apparently decided to join the chaos only to make a futile attempt to clear a path for your louge-run?  It almost looked like someone stepped on the gas trying to go down that hill, Speed Racer.  I’d love to see the look on your insurance agent’s face when they see this pinball-machine like run, assuming you have insurance.  I hope you had a change of underwear in the car with you.  I feel bad for the poor guy who probably thought his car was safely parked in the front yard away from road hazards flanked by other vehicles… unless he ended up there just like this guy.  What flew to the left there that started out behind the parked black SUV?  A tree?
  3. The Concerned Citizen – Yeah, I get that you’re trying to help, but that may not be the best place to walk… in case, you know… someone else were dumb enough to slide down that hill.  He’ll re-appear later with a construction cone.
  4. Sedan #2 – Adds injury to insult while you’re distracted by Brian Boitano trying to cross the road.
  5. SUV #2 – Won’t be outdone… it’s a almost a sedanwich, but it turns into a nice little road block.  Maybe this will serve as a warning to other would-be travelers to turn around and go home?
  6. Sedan #3 – This driver likes a challenge, and decides to plow through the blockade just like in all those movies on Spike.  Another bright idea is to get small children out of the car and on to the icy road.

I’d love to read your thoughts.

(Video & News story also available here.)

What are you feeding the birds?


No, this isn’t about those birds that just fell out of the sky for no apparent reason… but that is quite shocking/interesting.

I’m just wondering what the hell birds are eating lately.  I think today a pterodactyl took a dump on my windshield.  One day not long ago, we had a rental van at work that looked like someone dumped a pretty full spittoon all over the side.  What are birds eating that makes it look like tobacco spit?

I mean, I’m no expert but I’m used to 2 varieties of bird poop.  I’m talking white bird poop, and the “oh, the bird ate berries” poop.  All the bird poop that I’ve ever seen can pretty much clearly fall into one of those categories.

I even remember owl poop from elementary school science class.  I know it’s a gross hairball that would have (hopefully) bounced off of my windshield.

Is this bat poop?  Is someone just spitting tobacco on my car or the work van?  Are the birds eating tobacco?

I demand an answer.