So Take a Listen to Ryan Dolan–You Might Find Yourself Hooked on This Irish Singer

I’m not really sure how I ran into Ryan Dolan, but soon after I saw his youtube video for Ireland’s entry in Eurovision 2013 with his song Only Love Survives, I was hooked. And for sure, I was pretty happy when I got a tweet back from him  (@RyanDolanMusic) for something I had mentioned about him.  Turns out he’s a really good guy.

Now he’s got a new single out, Start Again.  It’s quite different from his Eurovision song, and the video that’s been made for it is something that everyone should judge for himself.  I don’t think very many on this side of the Atlantic have heard his music.  Take a look at the videos; they are worth a listen.  I’m hoping some station here in the U.S. will start playing him.

 

There are a number of videos for Only Love Survives, but I like this one from Irish television.

 

 

Hakurei Turnips: First Garden Take of the Spring

Hakurei turnips just pulled from the garden (2-17-14)

Hakurei turnips just pulled from the garden (2-17-14)

Two or three warm days make it feel like spring is here.  The grass is noticeably greening up.  Even here in southeast Texas, where the temps normally come back up after a few cold days of cold, we’ve had a long winter of bundling-up.  I know our mostly in-the-50s days and down-in-the-30s nights are not that bad compared to those in some other parts of the country.  I spent a good many years lasting through cold Kansas winters, so I can appreciate not having to scrape windshields and scoop off driveways these days.

The below 30s and accompanying freezing rain and sleet we did have on a couple of occasions have interfered very little with the veggies that I planted at the end October out in the small garden behind the garage.  The perky leaves of the mix of greens and the glistening tops of the carrots and turnips seem to be almost showing off here in the middle of February.

The carrots and the traditional purple top turnips probably won’t make for some time, but this next weekend I intend to cut a batch of the greens for a wilted salad.  This evening, though, I couldn’t resist pulling up four of the Hakurei turnips.  Right now, some are about the size of a big radish.  They are sweet and crunchy with just a little bite, as I verified by munching them down once they were washed and the tops nipped off.

I get most of my seeds on line from Johnny’s Seeds.  I don’t mind giving them a plug because I’ve gotten the seeds very quickly and the packs are a lot fuller than those you get at the big box stores.

I’m eating a lot of store-bought veggies these days, but it’s sure fun to have a bit of the home-grown taste of these turnips.

DIY Elbow Grease and Ingenuity Is Far More Cost Effective than High-Dollar Service Companies

Hoses to both the refrigerator have to go from the connections under the sink and behind the cabinets.  It would have been easy for the original builder to put connections behind the fridge, as the sink in thehalf-bath is directly on the other side of the wall behind it.

Hoses to both the refrigerator have to go from the connections under the sink and behind the cabinets. It would have been easy for the original builder to put connections behind the fridge, as the sink in thehalf-bath is directly on the other side of the wall behind it.

Readers on this blog might know that it was four years ago this summer that I was in the full throes of the search for my first home, which I bought at the end of October, 2009.  I didn’t want, nor would the VA appraisers approve, a house that wasn’t move-in ready.  Even though the house was about 25 years old, it was  in good shape and built solid.  However, since moving in I have replaced the refrigerator and dishwasher, and last summer’s heat forced a new AC to be installed.

Still there are small jobs to be done for the upkeep of the house.  I don’t mind doing many of these tasks myself like painting or replacing window panes, but when it comes to dealing with most water problems (fortunately, there have been few in the four years I’ve had the house), I’d rather leave them to someone with more experience, as I’m afraid I’ll end up with some bigger mess.

Therefore, when I found I had a little leak coming out from under the dishwasher a couple of weeks ago, I just turned the water off under the sink.  I didn’t really think it was the dishwasher itself, but that it was a leak from the hose to it or the one to the refrigerator.   It didn’t don on me at the time that I had turned off the cold water valve, which goes to the fridge, and that the hot one going to the dishwasher was still open.   Anyway, I thought that whatever the problem was, the dishwasher would have to be pulled out to get to the hose and I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with that.  For about 10 days, I just washed dishes by hand and drank the awful tasting water from the faucet.

A $22 hose and 10 bucks of connectors were all the replacement parts needed for this job.  John Moore's $729 estimate can be seen next to the drill bits.

A $22 hose and 10 bucks of connectors were all the replacement parts needed for this job.  John Moore’s $729 estimate can be seen next to the drill bits.

This past week when I had some vacation days, I called John Moore (Houston plumbing/AC/electrical repair service company).  They advertise a lot on TV and offer to come to your house and give a free estimate.  The repairman came first thing Tuesday morning, and he did a little looking under the dishwasher and said the leak was coming from the hose to the refrigerator, and said he would give me an estimate.  He went out to the truck for quite awhile and came back with a printout that said $729.  I said “no” that wasn’t going to work for me, and he said that they weren’t the cheapest in town but they did good work.  I had never imagined an estimate anywhere near that high.

One of several new holes that had to be drilled. For whatever reason, the old hose ran through the upper part of the cabinets.

One of several new holes that had to be drilled. For whatever reason, the old hose ran through the upper part of the cabinets.

The one thing that I learned from him was which hose had the leak.  Now I can’t believe I was that naive; just lack of experience mostly.  Since the problem wasn’t something urgent, I decided it could wait, and maybe I could find a more reasonable plumber.   Then I got to thinking about it and looking at where the hoses went through the cupboards and decided the hose from the fridge could go under the dishwasher instead of behind it, so I wouldn’t have to pull it out.

I got a new hose from Sears for $22 and  a couple of connectors from the hardware store for $10 and fixed it myself this morning in about 1 1/2 hours (that’s even including time to check me emails, watch a bit of “Judge TV”, and make a run to the hardware store).  I had to drill new holes at the back of the cabinets, but the hardest thing was threading the hose–I straightened out a coat hanger and attached a copper wire loop at the end to maneuver and pull the hose under the dishwasher, between the cabinets, and through the new holes I had drilled.  I had to get down on the floor in all different positions to do it, so I guess that was the $700 of labor.

Finally, the hose was reconnected to the refrigerator. Afterward, I removed the old hose and cleaned the floor (high time for that).

Finally, the hose was reconnected to the refrigerator. Afterward, I removed the old hose and cleaned the floor (high time for that).

Anyway, so far there are no leaks and now have my cold water and ice back.  I feel pretty good for being able to complete the task myself, but even better for not letting myself get ripped off!

Stitchin’ Time at the 2013 GHQG Quilt Show

This bright, geometric design garnered one of the prizes at the GHQG 2013 Quilt Show.

This bright, geometric design garnered one of the prizes at the GHQG 2013 Quilt Show.

In the midst of three-digit heat, I headed out to the Stafford Center in Stafford, Texas to meet my niece to take a gander at the 2013 show of the Greater Houston Quilt Guild.  This year’s theme for the biannual affair was “Gone to Pieces.”

Though I’ve attended the huge Houston International Quilt Festival many times, the guild show was just the ticket to enjoy a couple of hours of looking at members’ exhibits and vendors’ booths filled with fabric, notions, and all other things “quilt”.

While many entries at the “big” Houston quilt show can be out of my league in what I might attempt in quilt making, most of the exhibits at the local guild show serve more as inspiration to get me back into  creating something from all the containers of fabric upstairs.

Here are some of the show entries that caught my eye:

This group quilt was one of my favorites.

This group quilt was one of my favorites.

This close-up shows all the hard work that went into making this group quilt.

This close-up shows all the hard work that went into making this group quilt.

Unique, cupcake quilt, deliciously put together.

Unique, cupcake quilt, deliciously put together.

This close-up reveals some of the intricacies of piecing and stitching.

This close-up reveals some of the intricacies of piecing and stitching.

Colorful and detailed umbrella quilt.

Colorful and detailed umbrella quilt.

Hand-painted blocks represent a garden during each month of the year.

Hand-painted blocks represent a garden during each month of the year.

With “All-American Boy” Going Viral, Steve Grand Makes Appearance on “Good Morning America”

One week ago I posted a video by out artist Steve Grand.  Now his “All-American Boy” has become viral, nearing, at this writing, 700,000 hits on youtube.  Based on all this online play time, Grand appeared today on ABC’s “Good Morning America”.  Though short, his interview gives some insight into Grand’s coming out and his impetus for creating the song and video.

While this may be Grand’s breakthrough video, with a quick search on youtube, others by Grand can be found, some in conjunction with other performers and some under the name Steve Starchild.

If you’re interested in a longer read on Grand, check this out at Buzzfeed Music.

Celebrate the Fourth of July with Red, White, and Boy, Erm–Blue; Catch Steve Grand’s New Single and Video

I enjoy gay shorts–gay short films, that is.  They have been a staple of gay film festivals for years, and many classics as well as recent productions are available with just a brief search of youtube or dailymotion.

“All-American Boy” by out, country singer Steve Grand could stand as a short film on its own, but add the lyrics and music and this video becomes something special.  Not to mention Steve is one pretty fine firecracker.  

Download the song and read more at http://stevegrand.bandcamp.com

Get more of Steve on Twitter @stevegrandmusic and http://www.facebook.com/SteveGrandArtist

“Pride Unleashed” at LGBT Parade 2013; Hundreds of Thousands* Celebrate in the Houston Heat

One of the colorful entries of Pride Parade 2013--the theme this year was "Pride Unleashed."

One of the colorful entries of Pride Parade 2013–the theme this year was “Pride Unleashed.”

Record heat hit Houston on Saturday, but that didn’t deter the largest crowds I’ve seen in almost 30 years of attending this city’s gay pride parade.

Last year, I passed on heading back into the city for a sixth commute of the week, only to fight the heat and the parking.  I just needed to get back this year to be part of the throngs of kindred spirits.

Putting on cool clothes and filling a small backpack with my camera and bottles of water, I set off out into the 107 degree heat.  After picking up a friend on the way, I headed down to the old Montrose neighborhood, where I had spent many of years in Houston, and site of the pride festivities.

I knew that the crowd would be large when I couldn’t find a parking place anywhere near my preferred area.  We finally found a space, got our gear together, and walked further than sensible people should walk in over-100-degree heat.

My perception was that the crowds were about the most diverse that anyone might find any place in Houston.  And while the attendees at the parade 2 years ago seemed about half gay-half straight, the ratio this year appeared much greater in the gay direction.  That might be because of positive decisions that just came out of the Supreme Court only a few days ago.

The parade got going even before the stated 8:15 start time and even finished before 10 but seemed to have as many entries and as much excitement as previous years.

The photos that follow give only a taste of the evening; the Houston Chronicle has a good page up that highlights a lot of days festivities.

*The Houston Chronicle reports that more than 400,000 attended this year’s event.  This is sure to be a Houston Pride Parade record.

The diversity among us--parage attendees applauded entries,, screamed for beads, and celebrated throughout the evening.        They have to be, though, some of the best behaved hundreds of thousands of people around.

The diversity among us–parage attendees applauded entries,, screamed for beads, and celebrated throughout the evening. They have to be, though, some of the best behaved hundreds of thousands of people around.

As the crowds of spectators await, HPD heads down Westheimer, leading of Pride Parade 2013.

As the crowds of spectators await, HPD heads down Westheimer, leading off Pride Parade 2013.

The pride of Houston's LGBT community--Mayor Annise Parker (left) and her partner, Kathy Hubbard.

The pride of Houston’s LGBT community–Mayor Annise Parker (left) and her partner, Kathy Hubbard.

PFLAG--one of the wonderful ally groups that have been supporting for years.

PFLAG–one of the wonderful ally groups that have been supporting for years.

Pride2013 Diana

Rolling down Westheimer.

Rolling down Westheimer.

Houston Fire Department "represents".

Houston Fire Department “represents”.

There was no lack of the rainbow colors.

There was no lack of the rainbow colors.

Just one of the many attractions to be found on parade evening.

Just one of the many attractions to be found on parade evening.

Totally representing the parade's theme of "Pride Unleashed."

Totally representing the parade’s theme of “Pride Unleashed.”

There was no shortage of commercial groups taking part in the parade.

There was no shortage of commercial groups taking part in the parade.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.