Tis the Season To Dig Out and Decorate

The mantle is fiilled with Santas and other shiny treasures.

The mantle is fiilled with Santas and other shiny treasures.

I don’t know why the Christmas decorations are put away in so many different places: some in the guest bedroom closet, some in the big closet under the stairs, and others out in plastic bins in the garage.  Well, yes,  I do know why.  When it’s time to put them away, they end up in the place that’s most convenient to get to at the moment.

Outside light crawl up the skinny tree trunks and cover the holly bushes.

Outside light crawl up the skinny tree trunks and cover the holly bushes.

Like most everyone else on my street, I started to put up the outside lights and other yard ornaments the day after Thanksgiving.  Our little cul-de-sac street is the most well-lit of the neighborhood.  I like to take it all in a couple times every evening when I take Annie out.  I’ve pulled out the pieces for the mantle bit by bit; some haven’t been up there for a couple of years.  The tree is still well-lodged at the back of the closet under the stairs.  It may just stay there this year as it is a big task to put up and load with all the red ornaments.  I love it, but as I haven’t made plans for any celebrations at home, it may not be worth it this year.  There’s a smaller tree that can be pulled out and lit up, which can go at the top of the stairs.

The best reason to have a mantle is to have a place for Santas.

The best reason to have a mantle is to have a place for Santas.

The decorations add to the flavor of the season, but as I look around my living room, because the room is already furnished mostly in golds and reds, it has a Christmasy feel all year round.

Chocolate Bar Nostalgia On My Birthday

When I was a kid, on my birthday, I'd get to take a box of Hersey candy to school to distribute to my classmates and teacher.  All these years later, I decided to try a repeat and pass them out to all the others at work.

When I was a kid, on my birthday, I’d get to take a box of Hersey candy to school to distribute to my classmates and teacher. All these years later, I decided to try a repeat and pass them out to all the others at work.

New Chilean Singer Neven Jogs a Mind Trip Back to the Land of “Tren al Sur”

There was a day when the few things I knew about Chile came from 80s-90s band Los Prisioneros, and their hit Tren al Sur and its accompanying video were perhaps the spark that drew me to travel to that  South American country for the first time only a few years after the dictator Pinochet was out of power.  Meeting Chilean friends via the internet really made it all happen in 1995, and then again 5 years later.  Once there, I was intrigued by the beauty of the Pacific coastline paralleled by the snaking range of the Andes mountains and volcanos, which runs the length of the country, and even more so by the kind, soft-spoken people (though I was, and still am, perplexed by the obvious political riff among these same people).

In Chile, I made it as far south to the city of Puerto Montt and the nearby gaelic-feeling island of Chiloe.  I took the bus, not the tren al sur, but it was very much one of the best tourist adventures of my life.  In more ways than one, this video and music still take me there.

I have such a place in my heart for Chile that I’m still ready to have a visit with anyone from there whom I might meet who has made his way up here to Houston.  Likewise, I keep myself informed about what’s happening there, at least that of significant importance.  I don’t hear much music out of Chile these days, maybe because most of my music listening time comes via  SiriusXM radio during my daily commutes.  Somehow, though, by clicking here and there on Twitter, I came across Neven (@Nevenilic).  His style of music might not be exactly the type I hear on my radio most of the time–it’s sort of Justin Timberlake-esque.  What’s more he’s not bad on the eyes.  There’s a brand new video of his most recent outing After Party, but I like even better una que salio´ last year called Bad.  Neven, not to mention the videos, is still a little raw, but he’s got the voice and talent.  Maybe we’ll be hearing more of him here in the U.S.

Take a look and listen. First, comes Bad: 

And now After Party: 

Ryan Dolan’s Got a New Tune and Video: “Fall to the Floor”–You Might Shoulda Oughta Listen

OK, so I’m in a rebellious grammar sorta mood tonight (when you’re supposed to be correct all day, you get that way). Anyway, my Irish twitter pal has a new song, and the video highlights a story that we don’t see all that often. I think you’re going to like it.

Another Year and More Reflection–But Anyway, Happy Pride 2014, Houston!

 

OK, so even out here in the suburbs, we can show our pride.

OK, so even out here in the suburbs, we can show our pride.

It’s that time of year again–LGBT pride month.  Really, it’s all about the parade, which is going to happen today in Houston–8:15 down on what we used to call lower Westheimer (well, maybe lower Westheimer is really beyond Montrose Avenue).  The festival is today also and starts at 11:00 AM.  Get any info about these events and all other Houston Pride activities here.)

I seem to always get reflective this time of year.  It’s hard not to.  It’s the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, which in a way was the start of the concept of “Gay Pride” and the point (at least in the U.S.) in time when some gay people decided to “stop taking shit” from the cops and others for just being who they were.

I only know about this from reading about it a number of years later.  At the time, I had just finished my sophomore year at Fort Hays State University out in western Kansas and had a summer job working for the Union Pacific Railroad (other posts about that here).  I might have heard something about Stonewall on the TV news, but if I did it just got mixed together with all the anti-Vietnam War protests that were happening in other places in the country, and were a rarity (I do remember at least a couple that happened near campus) in rural areas.  In fact, for me, at that time, isolated as I was, I had no idea about me, or anyone else, being gay; it was a totally unknown concept. (But all of that has to be left for another post.)

I attended my first gay pride after I had returned to college.  Some friends and I from Kansas State University drove to Kansas City and marched in the parade there.  I say “marched” but groups were not all that organized, so it was more like we “snaked” through the downtown streets of KCMO.  The year was either 1979 or 1980, but my memory leans toward the earlier year.

I’m pretty sure that the first pride parade that I attended in Houston was in 1984.  I’ve missed some–but not very many along the way.  After moving out to the suburbs, it’s always a decision whether it’s worth the drive back into the city and the struggle to find a parking place.  However, that decision has already been made.  And like last year, I’m picking up a friend and we’ll go down to Montrose to enjoy the pre-parade people-watching and then the actual event itself.

There is something new though this year: lawn chairs.  It’s time.  It is just too much to go early to find a not-too-far-in-the-boondocks parking place, walk to find a good spot on the parade route, and stand waiting and then stand watching.  So into the car trunk the folding chairs will go.

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.

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