Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Eighth Brother

I'd like you to meet my eighth brother, who we'll refer to as "AZ", since he now lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

I have blogged about him before as he brings such joy to my life. Words can not express what I think of him -- well, to admit him to my family as my eighth brother is saying something.

We met when he reached out to me, with the first email contact including not only a wonderful and thoughtful expression, but photos of him including one with his cute little nephew. I could tell immediately that he was something special, and have learned all the more through numerous phone conversations and meeting him in person how wonderful he is.

My blood brothers are close to one degree or another, and my twin brother is my soulmate. Heck, he has to be because we grew up together. But AZ is a soulmate on another level. None of my blood family are gay, but are supportive of me nonetheless. AZ is gay, and knows what it's like to try to live a good, quality life in a world that isn't accepting or tolerant sometimes. My own family members try to be understanding, but the straight world just can't relate. Their "wiring" is different.

AZ helped me immensely through some very rough times I had been going through in 2005/06, with nastiness from a former employer, my partner's physical health conditions and emotional reactions to those changes in his life, and dealing with my emotions when I was caring for my sweet uncle though the winter of his life until his death, at home with dignity and honor. AZ was always there. He is a terrific listener, and his exceptionally positive outlook on life and one's well-being carried me through hard times. He has no idea how much he really helped me, just by being who he is.

Things are going rather well for me now. My life is stable, I love my job, and my partner is adjusting to his physical situation. AZ, however, is looking for that life in a home with the proverbial white picket fence, and to wake up with a man by his side as he moves down life's highway, doing God's Good Works. (He's not in the clergy, but he truly is one who is in God's good graces with his honesty, integrity, and caring deeds done without fanfare.)

I love this man, as my brother, my friend, my confidant, my soulmate. We have to find him a man of equal integrity. AZ's charm, talents, fun, spirit, and positive nature need a match. I know that someone of such great talent and who is so gorgeous in appearance can be intimidating, thinking perhaps that he would behave like a jerk, because good-looking gay guys often come across that way. Believe me, he's a normal, down-to-earth, sweetheart of a man. No guile or self-aggrandization can be found, at all, period.

What a joy to have him as such a close friend.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hangin' Out at Home in Leather

Leather doesn't HAVE to be black; it doesn't have to be worn (only) while riding a motorcycle. Leather is comfortable, practical, and just nice to wear.

I have mentioned before about reading stories from guys who are afraid to wear boots in public, for fear of what others may say. I am quite fortunate in that the community where I live has such a casual kind of tolerance that nobody, really nobody, cares what's on your feet or your body. And I'm old enough to have grown beyond caring what other people may say about what I wear.

I go to a lot of public meetings. Hang out with cops, firefighters, and elected officials. Meet my neighbors at various community functions. They all know me, and know that I'm just a guy comfortable in his own skin, as well cowhide. LOL!

For example, yesterday after I got home from work, on came the brown leather jeans, tall brown Wesco harness boots, and a t-shirt. I got busy around the house with stuff, both inside and out. Neighbors drove by and waved. One stopped by to ask a question. They didn't give a second glance to what I was wearing. Really, nobody cares!

Those who only wear leather once-a-year at events like Mid-Atlantic Leather or International Mr. Leather are missing the boat, in my opinion. Yeah, they may like how they look in leather and the persona they put on. But it's all a fake. They quickly change into blue jeans and sneakers during transit and at home. Come on, guys! If you've got it, wear it. Why invest all that money in leather gear if it just hangs in your closet or remains folded in a trunk? Enjoy it!

Life is short: wear your leather, wear your boots! Have fun!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sendra Booted

I'm back to blogging about boots. Today I have on a pair of Sendra Texan Cowboy Boots, as shown. They have a very classic cowboy boot appearance, though the finish is dull. (Hmmm, I may have to break out the polish and see what I can do.) Their very narrow X-toe is interesting. What I don't like about them is that the heel is low (about 1") and the height is short (about 12"). They also have a rather narrow calf width. If they were taller, I probably couldn't wear them.

I had heard about Sendra boots, but didn't know much about them until I began participating in "Boots On Line" and learned from others. And it's very interesting to me that my website statistics consistently show that lots of other people are visiting my page about these boots. These boots continue to rank high in the number of website viewers.

I was disappointed to find that some nitwit on Facebook stole one of the pictures of me in these boots from my website and posted it on someone else's Facebook page. I don't know why people feel that the need to do silly, stupid things like that. Yeah, technically it's a copyright violation, but pursuing a legal challenge with something like this isn't worth it. I sent the photo thief a message requesting that she remove her message and not steal photos from me again. People can be so dumb sometimes.

Oh well, I look forward to enjoying wearing these boots at work today. Life is short: wear your boots!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Casual and Mature Kind of Tolerance

This is part of an essay that appeared in The Washington Post on Thursday, April 24, 2008. It is written by someone I know and have served with on a community group. The essay so clearly describes why I love living where I do, much better than I have done in previous blog posts.
... There are so many ways of life here that the phrase [diversity] starts to lose its meaning. Friends and neighbors adapt to one another's ways without judging. People look for the goodness in one another and respond to that. It adds up to a county scintillating with energy, a prosperous place where some of the world's greatest scientific breakthroughs are routinely made, where the nation's and the world's leaders rest their heads at night, where cultures interact to produce a new thing -- an integrated, high-energy, peaceful approach to living that makes better people of all of us.
What is most meaningful to me is what I titled this post, "Casual and Mature Kind of Tolerance." Seriously, most everyone who I deal with, and with whom my partner and I interact as neighbors and in community activities, look at who we are and what we can do, and are well beyond judging based on one's sexual orientation. It's refreshing to live openly in our community and contribute to the betterment for all, and not have to worry about being judged based on misguided perceptions that some narrow-minded people may have.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Important County Employees' Housing

It's just a real shame that housing costs so much that even in today's depressed market, those who really work hard to keep our community safe and educated can't afford to live here. Recent stats have shown that more than 65% of the police officers, firefighters, and public school teachers live outside the county where they work.

I try hard to make a difference in the community where I have lived my whole life. I own some houses that I rent out. I work with a county agency which identifies employees in public service who would like to rent a home in the county, and whose incomes are below a certain threshold. There are some other things the agency does for me as a landlord, and in exchange, I rent my homes to these important employees so they can live here. I don't make market rent, but I feel good about providing affordable housing to cops, firefighters, and teachers. There are some tax incentives to do this, which make up somewhat for the lower rental income.

Today, I rented a house to a motor officer. He's a great guy. I'm sure he will take good care of the house and the neighbors will feel a bit safer, too. Great day -- especially when he came to my house on his motor and in uniform to sign the lease. My own neighbors were all watching out their windows. Te he...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Our 15th Anniversary

On Saturday, April 25, 1993, early in the morning, I went to the home of the President of a leather/levi club that I had recently joined. The club was joining the "leather contingent" to march in the March on Washington that day. This was a gay rights march that was supposed to beat all records for attendance.

I was nervous. I was new to the club, and such a club was still a bit intimidating to lil' ol' quiet suburban-living me. I didn't really know what to expect, who I would meet, and what would happen.

I was greeted warmly by the club President and a few other club members who where there. Then out of a back room emerges this man who I had heard about, but had never met. He extended his hand and said, "hi, I'm [BikerBeef]." I returned the handshake.

Well, the rest is history. Neither he nor I were looking for a mate or a partner. We weren't even looking for a date. But something magic happened that day. I met the man who has become my soulmate, lover, partner, confidant, and best friend.

We've learned a lot and grown with each other over these 15 years. We've had our differences, disagreements, and challenges. We both worked hard at overcoming obstacles, because deep down, we love each other more than anything else in the world. We have traveled together on three continents, cross-country two-up on my Harley, built a house and made it our home, and more importantly, built our lives as two hearts melded into one.

He's my man, I'm his, and together we'll travel down this road of life we have made for ourselves. What's best on this 15th anniversary of ours is that I'm still head over bootheels in love with my partner, as he is with me. What a blessing.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Office Friendly Biker Boots

When I blogged yesterday about using my Harley to get to the Metro and then go to work, I mentioned that I put on "office friendly biker boots." Someone sent me an email through this blog to ask me just what I meant. Well, at least I'm glad someone is reading this thing!

To me, "office friendly biker boots" are boots that have these features:

* rubber sole for grip on pavement while riding
* no leather soles -- they slip
* no big lug Vibram soles -- they just don't work well in an office setting
* dark foot/shaft color that goes well with pants I wear to work

That's really it. Now, what kind of boots fit that description? There are "dual purpose cowboy/biker boots" in my collection, such as harness boots or cowboy boots with rubber soles.

I also often choose to wear motorcycle cop uniform boots because with pants over them, all others can really see are shiny black "shoe-looking" feet. (But man, how I enjoy the feeling of tall boots on my legs, even if no one else knows or cares.) I have many tall black cop boots in my collection, and often I have a pair of them on my feet at the office.

Remember, most people don't care and don't say anything, as long as you don't put a boot in their face. Wear what you want, but also wear what provides safety while operating a motorcycle and goes okay with the office attire.

Life is short! Wear your boots!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Summer biker commute returns!

Now that Spring is really finally here and the deluge of rain has temporarily stopped, I'm back to taking advantage of a bill that I fought for and won in my county.

A few years ago, I engaged my elected officials (along with fellow biker-friendly activists) to have our county pass a bill that provides free parking for motorcycles at any local Metro (subway) station in the county. This wasn't easy -- doing anything that reduces revenue for any public entity is never easy -- but it did pass, and I should reap the benefits of what I fought for.

Now each morning, I put on my business casual clothes, "office friendly" biker boots, chaps, biker jacket, gloves, and my helmet, and after doing the daily T-CLOCS inspection of the Harley, off I go to my local Metro station. I park the bike and lock it up six ways from Sunday, cover it, and then lock my gear in the trunk of my partner's car so I don't have to carry heavy leathers to and from the office. My partner gets to the Metro about a half-hour before I do. I then hop on the subway and I'm at my office a half-hour later. Doing this saves me $22.50/week.

Why don't I ride the Harley to work? Several reasons: 1) cell-phone yapping cage drivers don't see motorcycles; 2) riding in traffic is a pain in the ass and exhausting; I would have to pay $17/day for safe parking, as well as pay for more gas; 3) my insurance premium would go up, since my premium is rated by how and where I use my Harley; and 4) my employer provides a subsidy for using Metro, which it wouldn't provide if I drove to work. Plus, Metro is quick, usually reliable, and less stressful -- especially at oh-dark-30 when I depart my home to go to work, and early afternoon when I return. (I beat the crowds.)

I'm happy to be back in my summer commuting routine, back on the bike daily, using my gear for why and how it's made, and be able to benefit from some of my civic activism.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What it is to be a Bootman?

I have had some boots, like these Tony Lama black cowboy boots for 35 years. And they still hold up quite well. A little polish and brushing, and they're ready to hit the street. (Well, actually, go to work.) And because they're so old, they are well broken in and are comfortable. Old Tony Lamas were made better than the current versions, on better lasts (forms), and hold their comfort over time.

People have asked me over the years about why I wear boots all the time and if I really wear all the boots I have. Why wear boots? I just like 'em. How they feel, how they look, and how they protect my feet. And yes, I wear most all of the pairs of boots that I own. There are some pairs of boots that are uncomfortable, some have been abused, and a couple pairs need new soles. Some boots in the "less used" category are used for for certain specific activities in which I occasionally engage, such as skydiving or tromping through muddy terrain, or are a lot of trouble to deal with, such as tall lace-up boots (I just don't have the patience to lace boots).

Some guys have posted on "Boots On Line" about being nervous about what other people may say about being seen in boots. Heck, nobody cares! I may have had some people say something from time to time like "are those cowboy boots?" -- and despite wanting to give some kind of wisecrack retort, I just smile and say, "Sure are! Aren't they cool?" or something like that.

I really do wear my boots. That's what they are: footwear. I change boots often, rotate the boots in my basement boot closet with those in my bedroom closet, and with my "" website, I know what I have, what I like, and what perhaps haven't been worn in a while. I enjoy this avocation -- not fetish -- because, to my core, I am a "Bootman".

Life is short. Wear your boots.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Station work booted

I've had this pair of Station Boots for a while now. They're very comfortable boots. They have a boot zipper that is laced in. Once the zipper is firmly attached, then putting them on and taking them off is as easy as closing or opening a zipper.

My partner and I got up at dawn and spent the day working on our lawn. We rented sod cutter and took out a bunch of dead grass and saved the little bit that remained alive. We already had bought some sod, so after the sod cutter work was done and we returned it to the rental center, we came back home and lay the sod. We still have more ground to cover with sod, but we got a huge amount of work done today. Frankly, I would rather have been out riding my Harley on such a pleasantly warm day, but when you own a home, sometimes work like this supercedes having any fun. I kept these boots on all day and my feet feel fine, even though the rest of my body is sore as heck.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bike cop boots on the mind

With the Pope being in Washington, there is even more security in the city than usual. There are many times in the last couple days when I've seen booted bike cops standing around, directing traffic, and even occasionally operating their bikes. (Funny, I see more standing than I do riding.)

With bike cop boots on my mind, I'm wearing a pair today, just for the heck of it. H-D Police Enforcer Boots. Nice looking, very comfy.

On Tuesday I took an hour out, leathered up, put on these boots, and mounted my camera to my Harley in a different place and shot a video, which I have embedded here. It was fun to do.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My guy won!

It was a close race, but my guy won the primary election yesterday. Pictured, there I am at the victory party looking at election returns on the web.

A lot of volunteers put in many hours of hard work, which paid off. My guy won out over special interest funding that attempted, but didn't succeed, in buying the position.

I'm very happy, though very tired today. I was out until 10:00 last night! That's very late for me. I turn into a pumpkin usually by 8:30 or 9.

Tonight will again be a late one -- I have the pleasure of attending a national awards dinner where my dear friend who was in a county elected position and who died on Feb. 1 will receive a big award being bestowed up her posthumously. I am driving her family to the event tonight and celebrating with them. Her husband is the one who won the primary election yesterday to carry out the term and fulfill the vision of what us community activists wanted our elected leader to accomplish.

Hmmm... perhaps I can go to bed early tomorrow night. I sure hope so. I'm draggin'.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Boots on the Ground

These boots have hit the ground runnin' already this morning. Today is the day of a primary special election, to select the Democratic and Resnubrikan candidate for a local county commissioner seat. Very sadly, a dear friend who was in that position died on February 1, and now they have to have an election in our district to fill the position. She can never be replaced, but hopefully, her husband on whose campaign I have been working so hard will win the primary. He will see through the work she promised us would be done this term. (The R-people have no chance to win the election; they're outnumbered about ten to one, so the D who wins the primary will will then general election which will be held in four weeks.)

I really debated what boots to wear. I'll be on my feet most of the day while electioneering and escorting seniors to the polls. So, these are they! Chippewa Engineer Boots, all cleaned up. (They had encountered some mud a few weeks ago, oops.) I have on two pairs of socks for add to the comfort these boots already provide. Jeans over, though. While I am a proud Bootman, I don't stick 'em in people's faces. Wish us luck!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekend snugglin'

Friday night, my partner turned off his TV, I turned off my computer, and we just cuddled quietly in our basement. It's nice sometimes to sit in peace and enjoy each other.

I've been so busy lately with the final sprint to election day on Tuesday (I'm working a lot on a friend's campaign) that I've hardly been home or had time to reconnect with my partner. That's why Friday night was so much needed -- for both of us.

Saturday morning, we awoke at sunrise, and snuggled some more before we began our day. We had a really busy day, and our work made us really tired. But once again, we just snuggled some more for a while before going to bed. This is important time for us, and is a way we demonstrate how much we care for one another.

Sunday morning, we awoke once more at dawn. We marveled at the trees outside our bedroom window, whose leaves are emerging. The window was slightly open, so we heard the birds singing sweetly as well. It was special just to hold one another while listening to the morning's symphony before getting up.

Life is short, wear your boots! Hold those you love close.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Small town feeling in rambling 'burbs

I live in a rather densely populated suburban area. I live in a county and there really aren't that many incorporated cities, towns, or 'burgs where I live. Thus, I'm just part of the rambling sprawl that typically happens outside the core of any major city anywhere in the world.

I've blogged before about having friends who I have met on-line, but I haven't mentioned the friends I grew up with. You see, even though I live in a sprawling suburban area where anonymity is more the rule than the exception, I still keep in touch with many dozen friends I have known since I was a kid. Many of them settled right here, and now have families of their own. I've also maintained close friendships with some people with whom I went to college and served together on campus activities. In adulthood, I expanded my network of friends through all of the community activism that I do, boards on which I serve, people I help out from time to time in a neighboring retirement community, and other activities.

Being one person in a county with almost 1,000,000 residents can seem daunting, distant, and make one feel isolated. However in my case, that really isn't the story. I know hundreds of people. I see them on the street, in local stores, and while I'm riding my Harley. A friendly wave, a phone call, an email, ... they're there, I'm there, and we're in this together. I feel that my large sprawling community is much like a small town in many ways with the degree in which we're connected.

I am truly blessed by having many friends -- some for as long as 47 years, and many for as long as 40 years, avg (and I'm "only" 50). Much like friendships that develop in small towns. People you know and remain close to for a long, long time. What a treasure.

Life is short: wear your boots. Love your friends.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Mind Is The Second Thing To Go

And I won't say what the first thing is that goes as one ages. I forgot.

No, seriously, I just had a very amusing moment. I'm sitting at my computer typing away, answering email after email. I feel the boots on my feet, the shafts on my legs. Well, being a Bootman, that's not unexpected.

However, as the view of my feet is blocked by my keyboard, I couldn't remember what boots I had on my feet. I remembered going into my boot closet this morning and getting out a pair of boots that I haven't worn in a while. I remember walking to the office from the subway and thinking to myself, "nice boots, they're comfortable."

But I'll be ding-danged if I can remember what boots I'm wearing. Hmmm, blue shirt, black pants. So I must have on black (or grey) boots. That narrows down the 127 pairs to about 70. And I remembered that I picked out today's footwear from the cowboy boot closet, so I'm narrowed down to about 40 pairs.

But that's it; that's as far as my memory takes me. I just don't know what friggin' boots I have on my feet.

Oh heck, it's no fun getting old. If [ahem] is the first thing to go, and the mind is the second, I'm really worried what the third might be!

Oh well, Life is short, wear your boots! (even if you can't remember which pair they are!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Boot Beauty

While stock Dehner cop boots are not very good (the quality of the plastic material from which they are made is crap), I still admire how gorgeous they look. I see a pair of talk black beauties like these on a leatheman or a bike cop and just can't quit staring. I booted up in these tall black stock Dehner boots that have taps on the foot and heels recently, and just admired the view. A few raindrops beading up on the waxed calf, ummmmmm. What a nice sight to behold.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Joy II

I write today again about joy, and the joy that sincere friendship brings to me. How I am enlightened, learn, and laugh with a great friend who I met through "Boots On Line" (a website where guys who are into boots like me exchange messages and share non-risque photos.)

This friend is a very warm-hearted soul, and smart as the dickens. He is a CPA by profession, and a well-rounded, well-read man by practice. I have learned a lot from him and look forward to many more regular exchanges (mostly by email) in the years to come.

What I treasure about this friend is that he is nonjudgmental, very willing to share his knowledge and expertise about things that I love to learn about, and that he's dependable, reliable, and exceptionally trustworthy. I know, it sounds like I'm describing the proverbial Boy Scout. My friend wouldn't be accepted by the Scouts because he's gay; but that's another story.

I value most that my friend has had a partner for some 20 years, and he, like me, is faithful and monogamous with the man in his life. It is quite possible to have friends and admire them deeply, yet not compromise your commitment to your partner. My friend does that, and respects that I do that too.

What joy, what blessings, what great treasure I have. Now, I'm humming in my head, the tune by Andrew Gold, Thank you for Being a Friend. (This friend in particular is musically-oriented, so it's quite appropriate now that I close with this tune in my mind).

Life is short, wear your boots, but most of all, love your friends!

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I realize that I am truly blessed. I have a wonderful, steady, reliable, and best friend in my partner. I have a great family, the huge raucous bazillion of 'em. What blesses me more is having a few but truly great friends.

Pictured with me here is my buddy, close friend, and gorgeous man, AZLeatherExplorer. He has some pics posted on my website, at his request and my delight.

This man is such a wonderful human being. He has a terrific sense of humor, warm empathy, and is so honest that the vast majority of others can learn from his integrity. What I love most about this man is his heart. He cares so deeply about his family, and goes to great lengths and expense to show it. He demonstrates his love in many ways to many others. I am truly blessed to have him as one of my closest, dearest, friends. What a treasure it is to know someone so special. God has brought us someone who lives in His light, and who shares the joys and pleasures of His love with us through all that my buddy does for me, for his family, and for everyone he encounters.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Harness Boots Rule!

I just spent a few days in Pittsburgh for a meeting at which a number of bikers attended. It was interesting, with about 600 men and about 100 women in attendance. They came from the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S.

Half the men wore sneakers. Yuck. About 10% wore shoes. Yuck. The remaining men wore boots -- and almost without exception, they were wearing black harness boots. Most of the boots were of the Harley brand, but there were others in the mix as well.

Of course, there were leather vests with pins and patches galore, myself included. No other leather anywhere to be seen.

We stayed at my partner's mother's home. My partner is hanging on for a few more days while I got a ride back in a car with some friends. I didn't ride my Harley up there -- the weather was unsuitable and the ride a bit too long for me. Plus, my partner can't ride as my passenger at the moment, so it was just as well that I got a ride up there with him in his car. I'm glad to be back home.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

No Bull!

I have found that Nocona cowboy boots are equally as comfortable as Dan Post boots, so while figuring out how to use an expiring coupon at BootBarn, I picked up these Nocona Bullhide Cowboy Boots. Bullhide is a really rough leather, and can take abuse if encountered. These are just plain ol' cowboy boots that I'll wear for just knock-about wear. The leather upper is soft calfskin, and while you can't see it, the shaft has a deep dip scallop, which feels nice on my legs.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Old cowboy boots revisited

People ask me from time to time if the boots on my website are for sale, or if I really wear them. No, I reply, the boots are not for sale. I am not a reseller nor retailer. I just like boots!

Featured today are an old pair of Cowtown Back-Cut Python cowboy boots in a medium brown. I was scanning my boot closet and saw them, and said, "let's revisit these old boots." So they're on my feet this afternoon. They're not really that comfortable -- Cowtown Boots are not made well and become uncomfortable after a while. But they look nice.

Back-cut python means that the boots are made from the back of a python snake, so you can see and feel the scales. Belly-cut snake boots are just that -- cut from the belly of the snake, so they are smooth. I have both kinds.

I rotate boots in my boot closet regularly, and revisit and wear boots I have in my collection all the time (especially since I don't own any shoes.) So no, my boots are not for sale, they're for horsin' around!