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Wednesday, July 28, 2021



Hello my CRAZIES!!!  Another July has come to an end, but it had to be better than last July at least!  I mean, 2020 set the the bar pretty low, but any progress is better than no progress.  Last year, all I could do was sit in my house and pray for the best.  This year, I can actually do stuff.  That's a pretty good change I think.  I even got to visit one of my favorite places to go, Knott's Berry Farm!  Last year's 100th Anniversary had to be postponed to this year for obvious reasons.  But it's on now and the whole park is decked out and ready to party!  So put on your cowboy hat, strap in and get a slice of boysenberry pie because we are heading up the 5N to Buena Park!  Enjoy...

The Calico Mine Ride.  Knott's first dark ride that actually had some input from Walt Disney!

Charleston Circle, home to the fountain from Hello Dolly.  This area of the park is currently known as The Boardwalk but was previously known as the Roaring 20's.  Despite the upgrade, there's still a lot of 20's motif all around.

The new old ride, Knott's Bear-y Tales!  Previously it was Voyage to the Iron Reef and before that, Kingdom of the Dinosaurs and before THAT even, the original Bear-y Tales!  This building has had a LOT of facelifts over the years.  Of the all the rides that were in this building, the original Bear-y Tales is the only one I never rode.  and the "75-86" sign on the water tower marks the years the original ride ran.

In honor of the park's 100th, they've set up photo ops of former rides near their old locations.  This one honors Wacky Soap Box Racers.  Never got to ride it, but many fondly remember it.  I did ride its successors.  Windjammer had a notorious reputation.  Oddly enough, the one time I rode it, it actually worked just fine.  Guess I was there on a good day!  Xcelerator I've only been on once and learned a harsh lesson about squishing myself into a ride I was too tall for!  That was a first for me!  Still a fun ride though.

This photo op honored The Haunted Shack, a bizarre building where the impossible became possible!  Only got to see the real deal once, the highlight being my teacher's son walking up a wall sideways!  Many wild rumors surround the Shack's closing but in reality, it closed for not being ADA compliant.

The stage at Calico Square currently sits where the Haunted Shack once was.  As a stagehand, I gotta admit, it's a pretty impressive setup.  On this particular, the Peanuts Gang was on stage with some random teenage employees doing the opening medley from Moulin Rouge!  

This room is one of the old buildings that happened to have a bunch of the old Kingdom of the Dinosaurs props in it!  Totally stumbled upon this by accident!  Definitely made me wonder what they're doing with this, as none of the windows were blocked off.

In the early days of the park, before there were any rides, Walter Knott had all sorts of stuff laying about the property in an effort to keep guest entertained while they waited for their table at the Chicken Dinner Restaurant.  Apparently one of those thing was an actual steam-powered steamroller.

There's not a whole lot left of the old berry farm at this point, but if you know where to look, you can still find some of those legendary boysenberries growing!

Finally, we got the original Knott's K!  For over 40 years, this iconic uppercase letter stood at the top of the Sky Tower, lighting up the Buena Park sky at night.  This year, they replaced the old K with a newer, more energy efficient one that uses LED technology.  The old one is currently being used for photo ops!

And that concludes our look at Knott's Berry Farm!  A far more affordable option than nearby Disneyland, Knott's is the world's oldest theme park, a title they stumbled upon by accident!  Disneyland may've been the first to directly go in with the idea of actually theming a park, but Knott's formed in a completely organic way more than a decade before!  It's a wonderful place with fun rides and amazing food.  Their Christmas theming is also awesome.  I look forward to future visits to the Farm!

And that's a wrap on July!  I hope y'all enjoyed the pics.  I just wanted to do a little something different this month is all.  The art returns next week, and also next month, I might actually be going back to work!  We'll just have to see how it all goes!  Until then, take care, stay safe and I'll catch y'all later!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021



Welcome back!  Halfway through July and halfway through Summer!  Normally, I would've been hyping Comic Con this week, but fate just won't give us any breaks.  So instead, we'll be taking a look at a really labor intensive project I worked on towards the end of May!  It involved some bricks, sand and an awful lot of bad words!  What project was this you ask?  My above ground pumpkin patch!  I mean, the pic above should've been the dead giveaway here!

A little backstory before we dive in.  For a better part of 18 years, I've tried to grow pumpkins, having only had one successful, sizable pumpkin grow, ironically enough from a seed that had sprouted inside of another pumpkin!  Two years ago, I dug out a pit in my backyard and lined it with chicken wire in an effort to keep gophers out.  For the most part, they grew, though none ever got any real good size to them. Things were looking really good last year until some bastard gopher actually went up and over the chicken wire and laid waist to my entire patch!  Of the 14 I had, it killed eight of the vines right away while the other six eventually withered, giving me six piddly little pumpkins.  This year, I decided I'd beat the gophers at their own game.  With a few supplies and a LOT of patience, I built an above ground planter!  It took roughly five days to do, and two of them was just buying the bricks and sand.  To see just went into this little endeavor, scroll down and read along!  Enjoy...

First off, I had to dig out the old soil and chicken wire and then refill the entire pit and tamper it down.  This took some doing, and actually led to me really hurting my back.  Kept me in bed for three days even. But the journey was under way!

Next, I picked a new spot for the planter not far from where the old one was.  I wanted more walking room around the planter so I could more easily water and tend to the rest of my plants.  Once the spot was found, I got digging and trenched it out!

With the trench dug, I filled it halfway with paver base, which is sand with a lot of stones and gravel mixed in so that structures eventually going over it will have stronger footing.

After that, I filled the rest with sand so that when the bricks were laid, they could simply be tapped level with a rubber mallet.  A task the should've been easier than it was!

After that, I laid out the the chicken wire and covered it with river stones to help with drainage.  Then I began laying out the bricks!  Leveling these things was a pain because even with the sand there, my lumpy ass yard just wouldn't cooperate!  It also didn't help that NONE of these bricks are the exact same size as advertised.  For those of you planning your own projects involving bricks, just know that perfect level is pretty much impossible because of the aforementioned size deal I just spoke of and close enough really is the best you'll get.  And that's okay.

Lastly, I filled the planter in with soil and planted my pumpkins!  The pic at the top of the page is much more recent and shows just how far they've all come!  In all, I got four different types of pumpkins (Jack-o-lantern, Connecticut Field, Casper and Giant), two types of cucumbers, (Sumter and Spring Burpless), marigolds and a zucchini growing and thriving in the planter!

The pumpkins even have a staunch defender, Igbeer, the Fence Lizard!

Not much gets past ol' Igbeer!

And that's how it was done.  It was a LOT of work and I probably sweated off about 20 pounds while doing it, but the effort was well worth it.  I'd like to see a gopher scale two feet of solid concrete without getting caught by an apex predator, of which there are quite a few roaming in my yard!  I got a good feeling about my crop this year!

That's all for today!  Be sure to come back next time so we can wrap up July in a "Berry" fun way!  Until then, take care, stay safe and I'll catch y'all later!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


We are BACK!!!  The march to normal continues here at the CRAZYVERSE.  Hopefully y'all are safe and sound and enjoying some summer fun as conditions allow.  Like many folks, I was out of a job when the world more or less closed last Spring.  Frustrated, confused and just plain depressed, I really didn't know where to turn when it became more clear that I wasn't going to be going back to work any time soon.  I tried to turn to my art, but ironically enough, my workplace frustrations is often where most of my inspiration came from, so that kinda hit a roadblock too.  I clearly still got some art and comics out, but for a time, it just wasn't any fun.  By the time last summer rolled around, I turned down an avenue I hadn't considered: Gardening.  I try to grow pumpkins every year, but have little to no success (More on that next week).  With literally nothing else to do, I decided maybe some flowers would be a nice thing to plant too. Not much success came about.  Either I started too late or maybe all those seeds really were just plain bad, but outside of some pumpkins and red knight marigolds, I just couldn't get anything to grow!  I was down, but not out.

This year, things went a bit differently.  I started early, using mini greenhouses made of milk jugs and soda cups that successfully sprouted some seeds!  And as you may have noticed in the pic at the top of the page, it's only grown from there!  Here is some of the rest!  Enjoy...

Among the easiest flowers to grow, marigolds!  Got quite a few of them out there, including jaguar marigolds.  The ones above are red knight and orange marigolds.  On a side note, these flowers are a great form of natural pest control too!

Here we see a native bee, possibly a leaf cutter bee, taking her fill of a zinnia!  Among the few seeds I did successfully sprout last year, zinnias are quite hearty and very colorful!  Pollinators really love them too!

Another very colorful flower I was able to sprout were some asters.  Pretty as they are, I wouldn't recommend them.  They are a pain to get going!

This area I named "Monarch Corner," for the soul purpose of it being a habitat for monarch butterflies and their caterpillars.  Although it eventually did see some colorful caterpillars come about, the monarchs really didn't seem all that interested in this area.  They preferred the other two pollinator spots I set up.

One of the cooler parts of setting up all these plants has been the return of frogs to my yard!  Once upon a time, frogs and toads were all over my neighborhood.  But after the creek beds dried up, they all disappeared.  I've seen a few frogs here and there very sparingly since then, but that's well over a twenty year span.  Since March, I have actually lost count of how many I've spotted!  Hopefully it's a sign of more to come! 

I made sure to include plenty of milkweed bushes in my yard and boy did it pay off!  I had dozens of monarch caterpillars all over the place!  I can't say for sure how many successfully made it to adulthood as their chrysalises blend in quite well with a lot of things!  I was able to witness five of them hatch out though, so that's cool.  I never realized what voracious eaters they are!  They stripped all three plants I had  and seven saplings!  Next year I'll have to make sure I have more milkweed ready to go for these guys!

One of the biggest reasons I planted all these gardens was to also attract native bees in addition to endangered monarch butterflies.  I was successful on both fronts and bees of all sizes came to my yard, like this teeny tiny little sweat bee hanging out in alyssums above.

Green sweat bees, which are considerably bigger, also made my yard a regular part of their pollen search!  Not many people pay attention to the plight of solitary bees.  They are just as important as their honeybee cousins and in some respects, like squash bees, even more important.  They all play an important role.

Out in my front yard, I set up a Bird & Butterfly Corner that saw a wide variety of beneficial bugs show up, and a few bad ones too unfortunately.  These sunflowers especially attracted some interesting visitors...

Like this solitary bee!  I have no idea what type it is, but she was a biggie!  Much bigger than a honeybee, but smaller than a bumblebee!

This is the Pollinator Corner, which is in my back yard on the opposite side of the Monarch Corner.  This area is meant for a whole host of beneficial bugs to come hang out in, and they did!  Ironically enough, this corner and the Bird & Butterfly Corner in my front yard saw far more success in raising monarchs than the actual Monarch Corner has!

We end today with my patio pond, which seems to be a new trend amongst gardeners who can't have actual ponds either because they have no room or a disapproving super!  There's really not a whole lot to it.  I bought a really nice ceramic planter, made it water proof and added river stones, water and pond plants.  And as an added bonus, the water hyacinth that the nursery wasn't too confident about actually flowered!  It even had some stowaway pond snails on it that have kept the pond largely free of algae!  Now if only more frogs would come.

And that's a look at the CRAZY Gardens.  Silly as it sounds, these plants and critters have helped keep me sane during these stressful times.  I'm very happy with all the success I've had with these plants and am already looking at ways to improve upon them next summer.

And that's all for this week.  Next time, we'll take another trip through the CRAZY Gardens with a look at one of the biggest projects I've ever worked on!  A foundation was laid for future crops that will hopefully pay off in the long run, so be sure to come back!  Until then, take care, stay safe and I'll catch y'all later!

Wednesday, July 7, 2021


Welcome to July CRAZIES!!!  Things are moving along as the world starts to recover from the pandemic.  We clearly aren't out of the woods yet, but the light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter.  Here in California, the state is by and large reopened now and numbers have largely stayed low, so, I reckon that's progress in some regard.  I myself am fully vaccinated but proceeding cautiously.  "Safe-than-sorry" is among my mottos in life. Things have improved here though, and because California has done a good job with vaccine rollout, many of the things we love so much have come back, like the San Diego County Fair, or Del Mar Fair for us old schoolers.  It was a scaled back version of it, but any fair is better than no fair, so put on some loose fitting pants and grab some sporks because today, we are going to the Fair!  Enjoy...  

My nephew, Dante Jr, and my niece Kristen.  Both have big appetites and both are more than happy to rub in the fact that their teenage metabolism can burn all this food off much more quickly than mine can!  By the way, those are Cowboy (BBQ tri-tip) Fries, Piggy (BBQ Pulled-Pork) Fries and Pastrami Chili Cheese Fries on the table.  And all were insanely good!

Zucchini fries?  Chicken and Waffles?  Fried Frogs' Legs?  Deep-fried, bacon-wrapped pickles?  Deep-fried Twinkies and Oreos?!?  I swear my brother's kids want me to stay fat!

The Dog Show was a lot of fun.  Not a whole lot was going on this year, due to the scale back.  These diving doggies were a nice little break though.  The pig races were also fun, albeit too crowded to get pics of.  Perhaps next year.

Because all the big shows couldn't happen this year, street performers, like this juggler, roamed the fair grounds and offered a much more intimate experience for us.  A lot of these performers were really good too.  Under normal circumstances, you couldn't have these guys perform because the grounds would be too crowded! 

Initially, there were only two rides open during the first weekend.  After the state reopened, 16 more rides came in!  It wasn't a huge Fun Zone,  but it was great to see some of these come back.  They even had one of those cheesy funhouses!

Food is a big part of the SD Fair and this year was no exception.  They usually have well over 100 food vendors at the Fair, but this year, only 40 were allowed.  Some real heavy hitters didn't get to come this year, but the ones that did certainly didn't disappoint.  Hopefully next year, they can all come back.

Speaking of heavy hitters, they don't get any bigger than the Legendary Chicken Charlie!  The picture up above with all the fried food in it came from THAT booth!  These guys actually have a restaurant out here too, though the Fair is where they REALLY test the limits of one's appetite!

The SD Fair's iconic Ferris Wheel.  Just like the Comic Banner at the Convention Center, no trip to the Fair is complete without a picture of this neon wonder!

Some of these rides really light up the night with their beautiful lights!  I rarely go on carnival rides largely due to them just not being all that safe.  But I do love seeing them lit up at night!

One last shot of the rides at night!  With any luck, they'll bring back the bungee jump attraction next year.  Watching people chicken out is one of the most entertaining things at the Fair!

And that was the San Diego County Fair this year.  Dubbed "Home Grown Fun," it was vastly smaller than what we'd usually experience.  Admittedly, they probably could've done a lot more than what they did, but at the same time, there was really no telling where we'd be once June rolled around back in April when they were planning all this.  That we were able to get any kind of Fair was a miracle in its own right.  Hopefully, things will continue to improve and hopefully next summer, we can have a big fair again.  Only time and fate will tell.

That's all for today.  Hopefully y'all aren't missing the art too bad this month.  I just wanted to try something different for a change.  People really miss the Comic Con pics, as do I, but until cons come back, it just stings posting them.  Long Beach Comic Con IS scheduled for September, but they have been very slow on tickets.  Hopefully that will be fixed soon.  In the meant time, be sure to come back next week and check out some of the things I've been doing in my garden!  Until then, take care, stay safe and I'll catch y'all later!