Thursday, April 30, 2009

G'Bye, Starsucks

It's all my fault, blame it all on me. I just read the following in a local blog:

The latest round of Starbucks store closings hits East County, with locations in White Oak and Leisure World soon to shut down among 300 worldwide.

[Photo from the 'net; I'm not in it.] Both of the soon-to-close Starsucks locations are close to where I live. Okay, I'm not a wuss, I can take it: blame me! I really don't like the urban guppie/yuppie-ism to which Starsucks appeals, and the almost zombie-like drones who fall for it and spent $5 on a cup of coffee! Are they nuts or just made of money? (probably both. Just check their cell phone bills.)

Did I have something to do with the closing of these two stores because I never patronized them?

... I doubt it. But will I miss them?


Life is more simple and cost-effective when we do things like prepare our own meals and brew our own coffee at home.
In a month, you can save the world by donating the money you save to a good cause (or two, or three.) Donating to "good causes" is a great appeal to the save-the-planet guppies.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blog Post 400

I've really gotten into this blogging thing... just a daily thought about a variety of things that compose my life.

In reviewing how the blogging has been going, here are some things I have learned:
  • Write when it comes to you, and schedule it for future posting.

  • Blogger is owned by Google and seems to auto-index as soon as your post "goes live." Thus, you suddenly get a lot of visitors to your blog who use Google to look up certain key words that match what's in your post. Google seems to favor with higher ranking key words on more recent blog posts.

  • You get many more visitors to a blog post than you may think. My average is 500 unique visitors per day, from all over the world.

  • People who live in your town will find you, and read your blog almost daily, but never reveal themselves to you. That's just part of internet behavior that bloggers have to accept.

  • Some people will "follow" you publicly, and some will follow you privately. It works both ways.

  • When your life gets really busy, it's helpful to have a pre-written "bank" of blog posts.
What's been most popular on this blog recently as well as over time? These titles: How do I know this? I have simple tracking software that provides counts of visitors to blog posts, but be assured, it does not reveal your identity.

Life is short: Keep blogging! Share your joy with others!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hey, Dad

Today, April 28, is the date when my father died so many years ago. I remember that day clearly, though I'd rather not. And it was a Tuesday... just like today. My sister woke me up, told me the news about how he had died a few hours earlier at the hospital, and took me and my siblings who were at home to her house.

Rather than be morose, I decided that today of all days, I would remember my Dad and the things he liked to do and share with us kids.

I made arrangements a few weeks ago to eat lunch at his old office, though I don't know anyone there now. I will go visit the reservoir where we used to go fishing, and skip a rock. I will sit in our garden and admire God's handiwork. My Dad didn't have much of a green thumb, but he loved to spend time in the garden. He would love what my partner has done with ours.

I will communicate with my family, and share our love. I'll drop by the cemetery, and bring some flowers that he and Mom liked. I'll sit cross-legged and have a chat with him about life.

I have benefited a great deal from my Dad, in learning, loving, caring, thinking, and yeah: smiling. Thanks Dad for everything -- especially for sharing your smile and encouraging us to do so, too.

Life is short: if your Dad is alive, give him a call, pay him a visit and give him a hug, let him know you're thinking of him. Don't wait for just Father's Day: your Dad is your father every day. Say those magic words: "I love you." It really means a lot.

Monday, April 27, 2009

From Winter to Summer

A while back, I conducted a poll on this blog when I was wondering about getting a new pair of cowboy boots. Eleven visitors voted, helping me choose among three choices: Lucchese full quill ostrich boots, Nocona caiman boots, or Dan Post wingtips. The majority confirmed my thinking, and helped me select this pair of Lucchese cowboy boots (more pics on my website, here). I wore them yesterday when my partner and I did a very rare thing: we went out to dinner. We celebrated our anniversary at Outback Steakhouse. There's one close to us, and enabled us to use some gift cards that each of us had received. We enjoyed our dinner, but the quality of the food has declined. Then again, I may only eat there once a year, so it's hard to tell.

While I was considering wearing a full leather suit, when the temperature on the thermometer read 90°F (32°C), the leather remained in the closet and I went "cowboy." I pulled on these Lucchese boots and my favorite Wranglers and a Harley t-shirt, and that was that. The boots are cool and comfy.

Man, we have gone from winter to summer, as I thought we might. Last week it barely broke the 50°F (10°C) range. However, in the past three days, it's been hovering in the very warm range. Good thing, though -- our trees are finally fully leafing out. As my partner and I were having our usual snuggle at dawn on Saturday, we looked out the window and both remarked simultaneously that we though the leaves were slow in developing. It just took persistent warm weather for the leaves to pop. (And the tree pollen, uggghh.)

Now that it has finally warmed up (and it is not zero or thereabouts with rain or severely damp roads in the morning), I am riding my Harley regularly to the Metro to get to work. Yippie! That's one good thing about the warmer weather returning... bad thing was that it became so hot in the bedroom last night (not necessarily for reasons you may suspect), we had to break down and turn on the air conditioning. Go figure... no middle. In past years, I have always enjoyed sleeping with the windows open from mid-April to May, and listening to the birds greet us awake in the morning. But as our Koala reminds us, "our seasons are backwards."

Thanks again for visiting this blog, and share joy with someone today! (Keep 'em wondering LOL!)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beefcake Anniversary Surprise!

Yeah, man! One who looked like this, but not anyone in this particular photo, "dropped by" to deliver a lemon-meringue pie for our anniversary and sing us a little song.

The context: yesterday was the 16th anniversary of the day we met. But that didn't preclude tackling the long-list of "Spring gotta-do's" on my partner's list. We began by doing our weekly grocery shopping very early in the morning. After we got back home and put things away, it was time to mow the lawn, trim it, and edge the sidewalks. Take down the old planters, dump the dirt, and refill them from the compost. Clean 900 square feet of our decks. That, plus the usual visit with my aunt to see how she's doing, get her groceries, pay her bills, etc.

My partner and I are out back on a hot, sunny afternoon doing all this work when we hear a "hello?" from a husky male voice. I said, "back here!" while my partner gave me one of those looks like, "who's that? Tell 'em we don't want any." (He doesn't like visitors and in particular, he can't stand door-to-door solicitors. We have friends over only once each year, so the voice wasn't likely from someone we know.)

Around the side of the house walks this gorgeous, tall studly hunk with no shirt, tight leather pants, boots, formal cuffs, bow tie, and carrying a pie. He was incredibly handsome. He walked up to us and said that he was sent "by a friend" to wish us a happy anniversary. He sang a song (with a lot of sexual innuendo), smiled a big pearly-white smile, handed us the pie, and wished us a very happy day.

My partner and I just stared, dumb-founded. Honestly, neither of us knew what to say. When I realized he was through and was about to leave, I thanked him for coming, and tried to find out who sent him. But he wouldn't say. I know it's somebody who knows us well, because that person knows what type of sweet is my partner's favorite in the whole world. And damn! He was gone before I could remember to go find my camera!

If you were the one who sent this gorgeous pie-bearing guy, fess up!

Wow... thanks! Woofity-woof-woof and whew! And I thought the outdoor air temperature was HOT!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Our Anniversary: What I Have Learned in 16 Years

Sixteen years: it seems like yesterday and it seems like forever, both. On April 25, 1993, at precisely 8:10am, in the basement of a house on T Street, NW, Washington, DC, I met the man who has fundamentally changed my life so much for the better: my partner, my man.

I explained in last year's anniversary blog post how we came to meet, so I won't repeat myself.

I have learned many important life lessons over these years:
  • Love is indeed something you get back more of the more you give it away.

  • That by being faithful, honest, and true that the same qualities are returned equally.
  • It IS okay to be completely "me" with someone who composes the richest part of my life. He has definitely seen me at my worst, at my best, and in all phases in between. He truly loves all of me: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. My love is returned to him exactly the same way.

  • To have faith that no matter how you blunder, no matter what you've goofed up, if he loves you, he will forgive, move on, and continue to love.

  • That being goofy and silly and giving voices to our little farm of stuffed animals is not only endearing to him, it is appreciated for the fun it brings to our lives.

  • What "dependable" really means: What it means to depend on someone and for others to depend on you -- and how reliability and dependability are synonymous.

  • What a conversation is, rather than babble; what listening really means, rather than cursory "uh-huhs"; and how words convey thought. But I have also learned that action following those words proves more than just talking about it.

  • That civic responsibility is valued.

  • The reason why we never fight about money is that we have no reason to do that -- we think exactly the same way when it comes to handling individual and shared finances. We don't spend what we don't have.

  • That trust is built through ongoing demonstration of the reasons for that basis of trust, and that it isn't a one-time thing. Trust is tested in a variety of ways, and the response to those tests proves what integrity means.
Do we have a perfect relationship? No, but we're working on it. We're very different men, with different backgrounds, experiences, and interests. But what has formed the foundation of our solid relationship is that we respect that we have these differences. We don't criticize or put the other down because he doesn't understand. We help each other learn and as a result, we continue to grow as individuals and as a couple.

16 years... who woulda thunk? Today, I really can't imagine what my life would be like without my man. He isn't my "other half." He IS me and I am him and we truly are bound at the soul. (Te he, now I have found a form of bondage that I can say I enjoy!)

I looked on the Internet to try to find what the appropriate gift would be for a 16 year anniversary. It says, "silver holloware." What's that? A sugar bowl. Heck, I can do better than that. And my partner doesn't use sugar anyway.

The gift I give my man today (and always) is the same gift he gives me all days: unconditional love, support, gratitude, joy, happiness, and smiles, with a mix of faithfulness, honestly, devotion, sexual energy, attention, and integrity thrown in.

I blog often about the importance of smiling, and I can honestly say that I DO have a silly grin on my face most of the time because my life with my man is so strong and solid that I have a real reason to smile often. It's easier to take the lumps of coal that life deals out on occasion when I have that sugar bowl at home. (Metaphorically speaking only.)

Today is the anniversary of the day we met. I am so richly blessed, and I remain head over bootheels in love with the man of my life. He is my very essence of being. Happy Anniversary, my love! Always: ILYAWM BB!

Friday, April 24, 2009

It Happened To Us 16 Years Ago

It happened to us 16 years ago on April 25. I shall begin with a bit of history.

Back in high school, I went on dates with the same girl from homeroom from my sophomore through senior year. She was easy to talk to, fun to be with, and enjoyed many of the same activities and groups that I did. She didn't demand sex, and I wasn't interested.

I didn't know then that I was gay. I thought I was supposed to date girls, so I tried. But because I was born gay but didn't know it yet (or accept it on a conscious level), I went through the common rituals of high school (or tried to, anyway).

This female friend and I went out on lots of dates. But at the end of the evening, it was always a quick peck on the cheek, and I'd be off. Later in life, we remained friends and it was only through a conversation we had a few years ago that I realized that she was hoping for more... (sexual stuff) ... with me, but I never even thought about it, much less try anything.

At University, I poured myself into academics and into campus activities. I became a BMOC while maintaining a stellar academic standing. I was active with various student groups and a college fraternity, even becoming President of several of these groups during my tenure as a student. I walked out of there 5.5 years later with a BS, BA, and BSE awarded Magna Cum Laude.

With all that going on, I had little time to date. Again, I went through some rituals of taking women out to fulfill certain expectations, but nothing ever happened. Because I was so busy, I barely had time to breathe. Did I keep so busy because I didn't want to acknowledge my sexuality? Only my subconscious knows the answer to that question.

After undergraduate school, I began to teach in public school. As a teacher, one had to keep one's personal life very private. That I did. No dating, either. (Though I did have my first experience with another guy one exceptional weekend, so I finally figured it out.)

While attending graduate school, I left teaching and got a full-time job in a non-teaching profession. I bought and renovated four single family homes in five years. Again, no time to breathe, much less go out and meet anyone.

Once that all calmed down, more degrees awarded, etc., I settled down. I decided that I wanted to ride my motorcycle with a club whose members liked to wear leather, like me, and who were gay (like me.)

I joined a club that was just forming. That was great since I wouldn't have to endure hazing which was the reason why I joined a newly-forming college fraternity back "when." The first club meeting that the man I lovingly refer to as my partner and I attended together is when we met, and frankly, never parted. I honestly have to say that he was the only guy I ever went out with on dates. I never dated anyone else. We both just "knew" that "he is my man."

We have been though a lot together. Good times, extensive interesting international travel, building our own home together, and bad times, too. But through thick and thin, he's my man, my love, my hunk, my one-and-only to whom I am committed for the rest of my life. And I know he believes the same in me.

I am a very fortunate and blessed man. I didn't have to go through the heartbreak of meeting someone and being let down. Of getting into a relationship and perhaps living together only to find out later that it's not a good fit, or to have him steal from me, lie to me, or play behind my back. I know these things have happened to other guys. It hasn't (and won't) happen to me. I love my man, and he loves me. THAT, my friends, is what it's all about. Come back tomorrow to read my anniversary tribute to the man of my life.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Leather in Chicago

Greetings from the Windy City: Chicago, Illinois, USA.

I am here to give a short presentation and to attend a conference. It's been really busy, from morning to night -- sorry, Chicago buds, no time to visit. I have been meeting and strategizing and such from early morning breakfasts through the conference during the day to way-too-late pizza at Lou Malnati's. (Chicago is definitely a pizza town, and Lou's makes a great one, or two, or three....)

Chicago is also a leather-friendly town. While I am in professional meetings and business clothes during the day, after the official meetings ended, I returned to my room and took off the business duds. I put on leather jeans last night with a regular shirt, and tonight, I went "all leather" with the leather jeans and a leather shirt that's cut like a regular shirt. Accompanying the leathers were my Chippewa Hi-Shine lug-soled Engineer Boots.

No one in my group attending the conference or with whom I had dinner last night or tonight when I was wearing my leather said a thing. No one. Not a word. Nada. As I have said often, nobody really cares. And believe me, if someone had anything to say, this group probably would have. I had the confidence in myself enough to wear my leathers and take my jacket off for someone in the group to take these pictures. She just smiled and snapped the pics, then said, "lets go eat."

The only person who said anything was a bellhop at the hotel. The hotel where I am staying is the same one where International Mr. Leather will be hosted in late May. He said, "here kinda early, aren't you?" He gave me a wink and a smile. I just said, "been here for that... (my partner and I attended in 2007)... not this year." Then he helped someone with his luggage and that was it.

I return home to my man early Friday, and to enjoy a nice anniversary weekend with the man who means the world to me.

Life is short: wear your leather, confidently and proudly, wherever you go!

Website Milestone

I uploaded new photos on my website over the last weekend. These photos were of the assembly of a full leather suit.

Whenever I create a new web page or upload photos, I run a scan of the full site to make sure that I didn't accidentally write errant code which would result in an image or page not displaying properly. The software I use to scan the site also counts all of the images that are on it.

This week, the number of photos on my website broke the 5,000 mark. Not bad for a personal site!

What are the most visited pages and viewed photos on my website? Not hard to guess if you think about it: galleries of motor officers. Interestingly, the next most-visited pages are my tutorials -- how to wear cowboy boots, then the detailed Guides on motorcycle police patrol boots, motorcycle boots (in general) and my Complete Guide to Leather Gear. I remain amazed at just how many people visit my website and go to certain pages directly by using search engines, primarily Google. That search engine drives 80% of my site's visitors to it each day, on average.

And my best buddy AZ will be interested, amused, chagrined, befuddled, or amazed to know that his web page on my site is also among the most frequently visited. That's no surprise, though, considering who he is.

I am observing that what was once a way to organize and virtually display my boot collection and leather gear has evolved, morphed, or changed over the last year, in particular, as I have added my own version of tutorials, galleries, and displays that lots of people look for, and have commented from time to time that they think is helpful advice from a guy who has been around the block once or twice. I see myself changing my website into more of an "information/reference service" than a "see my boots" display as it began. I continue to learn, and appreciate your feedback.

Life is short: enjoy your visit!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Breaking Down the Door

Good news! The house I bought a few weeks ago is now all completely renovated. I installed new electrical wiring (upped to 200 amp service), some new plumbing, and put in a more fuel-efficient burner and fan in the furnace. Through contractors, there is newly installed central cooling and new Corian countertops in the kitchen. That old horrid baby-blue tile on the floor and walls of the kitchen is gone, gone, gone ... replaced with neutral-colored resilient flooring that was a snap to install and is easy maintain, and new drywall where that stuff was on the wall.

I did most of the renovation work myself with my partner handing me tools and helping as best he could. I found it was actually cheaper to have a company provide and install the countertops than for me just to buy the countertops myself. Plus, I had painters do the painting (I really dislike painting) and carpet-layers install new carpeting (doing that makes me sneeze like crazy). Anyway, it's all done! Yippie! Now I can concentrate on the work on my partner's list of "Spring gotta dos" in our yard and gardens.

Knowing that the house would soon be ready, I listed its rental availability on an on-line bulletin board used by teachers in our school district last Friday. Within an hour of listing it, I had over 50 email messages. By Saturday morning, I literally had people lining up to see it. I was astounded. I think the demand and the interest -- which is dramatically higher than when I have listed any other property -- is a function of the current bad economy and the reasonable monthly rent I will charge.

Rather than struggle to learn which potential tenant had the most heart-compelling story (they all did), I decided to interview the first five serious applicants who inquired, and pick one of them. I ran a background check (I can't be too careful as a landlord), and it came back squeaky clean within hours. The lease is all signed and sealed. She and her family will move in next week. I'm still a bit dumb-founded. Less than a month ago I had no idea this was going to happen!

Life is short: wear your work boots and productively assist your community heroes!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Leather Suit Goes To The Prom

It's interesting as well as somewhat amusing to me that my blog post yesterday about "smart leather" and the leather suit I assembled out of leather garments I had in my leather gear collection generated a flurry of visitors to my blog. (It is also amazing and somewhat scary to me how fast Google works, but then again, Blogger is owned by Google, so content on my blog is autoindexed or something like that... but I digress.)

Yesterday, over 500 unique visitors viewed one or more pages of my blog -- over 1,700 pages in all were viewed (perhaps even read?) -- by visitors from all over the world. That's a new record.

Someone who told me that he googled "full black leather dress suit" wrote an email to me that said this:

"I read your blog and looked at your website where you described a leather suit. I really want one of those. I think it's cool. I am going to my high school prom in a few weeks. I want to be the guy who shows up in a full leather suit or tux. Do you know where I can rent one?"

I exchanged several email messages with this guy. I described for him how and where to get the gear that would compose a full leather suit, from the garments to the boots to the gloves. However, I told him that he would probably have to buy all the leather gear because I didn't think he could rent dress leather pants, as well as a leather shirt, tie, and jacket. I suggested that he discuss his dream with his parents, because "going leather for the prom" would be much more expensive than just renting a tux and buying a corsage for his date. He seemed disappointed, but thanked me profusely for the information.

I thought that was the end of it, when lo and behold I received another email from him. He said that he talked with his father, who agreed to get him the gear if he really wanted it. He said that his father understood the practical and ongoing value of durable leather gear. (This kid has a really cool Dad!)

What caused me to have the biggest smile was the closing of his last email to me:

"Thanks for all those recommendations. My Dad said that I could get the leather clothes to make a full leather suit if I promised to wear it more than just to the prom. I really want to. I like it. I think it's cool. Like you."

Aw shucks. I'm just trying to help out an emerging leather dude. Hey, Straightjacketed: see what you started over on your blog? Great going! We've got more guys emerging in their leather in public from our mutual efforts. Who would have thought that would happen as a result of a few blog posts?

Life is short: wear your leather!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Smart Leather: Dress Leather

I was reading Straightjacketed's blog post about "Smart Leather" and commented on his blog that wearing neckties isn't something that I enjoy doing. I am happy that for the most part, I usually can avoid having to have one of those nooses around my neck at work. I also made a side comment about ties making me feel bound and how I don't like that feeling. That was an expression I have used for a long time. However, I must remember to be careful about making such commentary on the blog of a bondophile (smile). This past blog post explains why I don't like bondage, but also explains why I do not have bad opinions about those who do. The subculture of gay leathermen has room for everyone's preferences and tastes.

Nonetheless, the blog author is a good sport, and joined in the commentary on his own blog which redirected it back to the direction he was posting about. The main focus of his blog post was in response to yet another blog: the concept of suit and tie being is a fetish for some guys.

Wearing ties or the suit-and-tie concept has never been a fetish of mine. As I grew up, I resisted any occasion where I had to dress up. I just didn't like it. My twin brother, on the other hand, loved to dress up and still does. As I have often said, he got the "suit genes" and I got the leather jeans (LOL!).

My fellow blogger posted images from the on-line Northbound Leather Catalog of a nice looking guy in a full leather suit. I have always been impressed with the quality of the leather gear from Northbound. I perused their website and thought to myself, "hmmm, a full leather suit might be nice."

Then I had one of those moments where I slapped myself upside the head and said, "you've got all the pieces -- a dress leather shirt, dress leather pants, dress leather tie, and even an old black leather blazer -- so put it all together and you already have your full leather suit." I put it all on and took a series of photos for a new page on my website titled, appropriately enough, Full Leather Suit.

I realize that I do have to get a better fitting dress jacket (mine is over 10 years old and too small), and probably a newer dress leather shirt because the one I have shrunk when it got soaked once by a surprise storm when I was wearing it while riding my Harley. But what I have will do, for now.

Is this "smart leather?" It will work for those rare occasions where I have to wear a suit for some other occasion than for a formal business meeting related to work. Now I'm thinking this will be just the outfit when I go out to dinner with my partner for our anniversary next week.

Life is short: wear your leather! (And thanks to my buddy in the U.K. for this blog post inspiration!)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Met the Me of 30 Years Ago

30 years ago, when I was 21 years old, I idolized the biker image: The boots, leather, and the Harley. I worked over time to acquire the resources to assume that image, from buying various pieces of biker leather gear and boots, to even getting a Harley eventually.

Yesterday was a stunningly beautiful sunny day. It reached 78°F (25.5°C) with a low dew point. My partner and I awoke before dawn, snuggled for a little bit, then set about accomplishing a lot of tasks.

By 11am we were done, and I prepared an early lunch. Then my partner said, "we're done--I know you're itching to go ride your Harley, so go!" I flashed him a huge smile, gave him a hug, donned my unlined Wesco Boss Engineer boots, jeans, and my vest, and off I went. There was an open-house at a Harley dealership, which was my destination. My dress was "traditional biker" as it was too warm for leather breeches. I just felt like wearing my old comfortable Wranglers over my Wesco Boss boots. (I don't wear jeans inside my boots every time I ride my Harley, though from this blog, it may appear that I do.)

When I got to my destination, I carefully backed up into a space on the street among the Harleys owned by fellow club members. Then this guy who was probably about 21 came up to me and said, "Cool! You're the biker I want to be." I gave him an incredulous look at first, but then realized he was dead serious. In many ways, he even looked like I did 30 years ago, including having long blond hair.

We talked for quite a while. He had just bought his first bike -- a small Suzuki. Turns out that yesterday was his first solo ride, since he just got his motorcycle endorsement on his driver's license on Friday.

He had tons of questions, and I was happy to try to answer. He told me that he wanted to take a motorcycle training course, but expressed disappointment that the courses he tried to sign up for were all full.
I explained the "secret" -- that the courses fill fast in April and May, but by June, spaces in the courses begin to open up, and the courses go on all summer. "Oh! Great! Do you teach them?" (Not nowadays, but years ago I did.)

He continued with more question, such as what boots and leathers to get first. He was proud of his first leather item -- a traditional biker jacket -- but didn't have anything else. He glanced disapprovingly at his sneakers.

"What boots are you wearing? Where did you get them? Who made your vest? Wow -- those patches are cool!" He babbled away, in wonder and awe. I patiently answered his questions, one by one.

I explained why not to buy leather gear from a Harley Dealer (due to the incredible mark-up), but why chaps are probably the first leather item to get after a jacket and boots. I suggested some decent on-line sources for leather gear. I talked boots with him, too, and laughed when he said, "man, you know a lot about boots." (When a fellow club member heard him say that, he laughed and said, "you don't know the half of it.")

My young enthusiast said that he preferred engineer style boots, and said that his budget was about $200. That ruled out a new pair of Wescos. I explained the qualities of Chippewa engineer boots, and he seemed very appreciative of the boot recommendation, as well as the source (Stompers, where else?).

I remember the day when I bought my first pair of biker boots to go with my biker jacket. Then I got my chaps... and after that, more leather gear and boots followed over the years. I wished this guy a great day, and he smiled, shook my hand, and said "thanks, man!" most enthusiastically. I'm glad I made his day. His reaction, questions, and bright, inquisitive demeanor sure made mine! He made me smile, because in him I saw the "me" of years ago.

Life is short: wear your boots! Be a mentor when you can.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday Night--Music for Snuggling

When I get home on Friday evening after the weekly family dinner, my partner is there, waiting for me in our basement media room. I built this room especially for him. He loves to watch HD television and listen to the sound on a 7.1 surround system. This is one way he relaxes when he can't go outside to our gardens.

A few months ago, we bought an HD Tivo. This most recent product in the Tivo lineup allows recording of HD television shows and has some additional neat features. Since my partner subscribes to Netflix to send DVDs to his mother to keep her entertained, we can access "on demand" movies from Netflix. Occasionally we will watch one on a Saturday or Sunday evening.

But Friday night when I get home is "our snuggle time." We turn the lights down low, and hold each other close. This isn't a time to watch some mindless brain-numbing recorded TV show. It's our time to enjoy sound and share our musical interests with each other.

Often we will queue up some favourite CDs and sit back wrapped in each other's arms, close our eyes, and drift into dreamspace. However, I recently discovered that this new Tivo can also play videos from YouTube. Lately, instead of listening to a CD, we will search through and play music videos that are available from YouTube. The quality of the sound is terrific and the visual display is great -- provided the quality of the original recording is good.

Life is short: hold the one you love close and show him how much you love him.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bright Side of Life

Someone asked me in an email, and then someone else asked me on the way home last night... "do you always smile? Doesn't anything get you down?" Even my brother remarked the other day that I "always have a silly grin on my face."

Fa, cosi sia! (so be it). I would much rather bring joy to others with a smile. I like to have them say to themselves, "what's he smiling about?" A smile is contagious. It's fun. It's powerful.

Sure, there are a number of things that bother me. I've known sadness and sorrow. There are times to mourn, there are times to rant, there are times to wince in pain, but there are also times to smile. I have made smiling such a regular practice that I don't think about it any more. I just do. I smile so much that people wonder about me. But that's okay. If I can keep the thoughts on smiling for no other reason than the goodness and joy a smile brings, then I am happy about that.

Many people dwell on the bad things; the lemons that life doles out from time to time. Heck, there are so many people in Washington, DC, who have a permanent scowl on their face, it's like the scowl came "free" with the purchase of a suit and wingtips. Arrrggh! Bad things happen to all of us. That's life. Life goes on, and we better make the best of it while we're here, 'cause life is short.

A few years ago, my partner and I took his mother to see the show Spamalot at a theater in DC. One song that was featured at the closing of the show was the tune, "The Bright Side of Life," which I have learned was originally introduced in the 1979 Monty Python film The Life of Brian. Not being a Monty Python fan, I wasn't aware of the tune until I heard it years later. I still sing it to myself from time to time.

Life is short: SMILE! H. Jackson Brown Jr. said, "Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day."

Here are some of the lyrics to the tune "The Bright Side of Life":

Some things in life are bad,
They can really make you mad,
Other things just make you swear and curse,
When you're chewing life's gristle,
Don't grumble,
Give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best.

Always look on the bright side of life.
Always look on the light side of life.

If life seems jolly rotten,
There's something you've forgotten,
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps,
Don't be silly chumps.
Just purse your lips and whistle.
That's the thing.

Always look on the bright side of life.
Always look on the right side of life,

For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word.
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin.
Give the audience a grin.
Enjoy it. It's your last chance, anyhow.

And here's a YouTube video of it, subtitled in Italian for some of my blog readers che provengono dal paese di origine di mio padre.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sheplers Tempts the Bootman

I wear cowboy boots every day when I go to work and when I'm not on my Harley. I have found that Sheplers, one of the western wear businesses that's been around for a long time (both in brick-and-mortar stores and on the Internet), is able to get boot manufacturers to offer an exclusive line or style of boots through them, and them alone. You can't find these boots from competitors (as best I can tell). I also discovered that Sheplers will feature these new styles in their printed catalog (one of the few companies that still prints a catalog) before they will put them on their website.

I received the latest Shepler's catalog the other day, and as usual, I glanced through it with the full intention of just pitching it in the recycling can, when not one, not two, but three pairs of cowboy boots caught my eye.

What do you think? Which pair should I get, if I break down and get a pair? They're all nice, and I'd like to have them all but even this Bootman has his limits. Share your opinion: (1) The Nocona Caiman Tail? ... or (2) the Lucchese 1883 Full Quill Ostrich? ... or (3) the Dan Post Caiman Tail Wingtips?
Ugggh... the trials of a Bootman.

Update: Your opinion counted! 11 visitors to this blog voted in an on-line poll that I created, asking for help in making a choice of which boots to get. Six of the votes were for the Lucchese full quill ostrich boots (2 for Nocona Caiman tail, 1 for Dan Post wingtips, and 2 for "none of these.") Thanks for the input. The order was placed for the Luccheses. I was leaning that way myself, and the votes confirmed my thinking.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Re-Doin' the Blog - Updated

Hey, you've noticed that the appearance of this blog is quite different. I finally took the plunge to update the template of this blog so that I could use some of the newer features of Blogger. All my stuff is still here, but over the next few days and weeks, you may see some more minor tweaks here and there to colors, fonts, and layouts.

I decided to change the color scheme in a major way, after receiving the third complaint in as many weeks that reading white letters on black background was hard for some to see. That's gone. Anything else? Let me know.

Update: How do you like the new header? That's ME! One of the many new features available to me now by updating the Blogger template. Just wait... more to come over time.

A Brother's Love

Guest Blog from BHD's twin brother

I spent a great Easter weekend with that big lovable non-wuss of a brother of mine. Then I attended a series of meetings in Washington for work. I will soon return to Europe where I work and live with my wife.

What my brother's blog readers do not see is how hard my brother works to care for the world. I've said this before, but every time I see it, I remain in awe. Yes, I caught him in a moment of quiet reflection in his back yard on Saturday morning, but it was a rare time when he was caught sitting still. This guy NEVER sits still.

I have not observed anyone who can renovate a house to make affordable housing available to those who work in the public sector while almost simultaneously taking old ladies to the grocery store, help some other seniors compute and send in their quarterly income tax payments, patiently explain to our elderly aunt one more time that her bills are all paid, converse on the phone about shenanigans in local politics, yet ... remain calm, reserved, and still have that silly grin on his face.

He is always smiling. Mom always told us that if we scowled long enough that it might remain stuck on our face, so he does the opposite. What a warm feeling I have every time I look at that big, broad, smile on his face. He makes me smile, too.

The little things he does which he nonchalantly says "aren't a big deal" ARE a big deal. He knows that I have a secret weakness for marshmallow "peeps" -- those little sugary Easter treats. I found a peep on my pillow each night (and a whole box of them in my luggage)! I caught him signing and sending birthday cards to several of his friends. He cheats -- he buys the cards all at once and puts them in a card organizer, carefully filed by date. But even to think of doing that is an amazing feat, much less carry it out.

I honestly don't know how he does it all. He tells me that he paces himself. I see that. He's up well before dawn, but don't plan anything that goes on past 8 or 9 at night; he just fades out. It was funny last Friday night when he did just that -- propped up on a pillow on our sister's sofa, he was out like a light while everyone else was still loudly chattering away.

It is also evident to me just how deeply he loves his partner. Sure, our siblings are devoted to their spouses, and have remained so over many years. My brother's devotion, concern, and care for his partner remains as strong as ever, and it's a great thing to see. He has set the standard that I follow in my relationship with my wife of 20 months (today is our 20-monthiversary!)

I love this big lug of a guy, and thank him for his hospitality, as always. I admire the love he extends to me and to all others for whom he cares. As he says, "life is short! show those you love that you love them." He is right, and he lives it each day. May God smile on this man, who I am very honored to call my brother.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reunited In The Shower

My partner went to see his mother for Easter. He left last Thursday. My twin brother arrived that night, so initially, I was involved in catching up with him, visiting family, and going about my usual routine with grocery shopping for myself and some neighbors, and other mundane tasks.

On Saturday morning, though, I was feeling lonely and a bit melancholy. These feelings washed over me when I awoke at dawn, and did my usual schootch-to-the-right to get close to where my man usually is, but he wasn't there. It was an subconscious action. I knew he wasn't there. But I still did that little slide in bed as if he were.

How I missed having his warm body to snuggle close to, and his chest upon which to rest my head. I missed listening to his insights about so many things, to have someone to talk to about our lives, and with whom to be intimate. Someone who above all others, makes me feel warm, safe, and secure.

I got up, got dressed, and went into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. My brother was still sleeping, and the house sounded soooooo quiet. No washer or dryer running, no pounding across the upstairs hallway while clothes were being put away and linens were changed on the bed, no bloop-bloop-a-doop of the Tivo being programmed. I went out to feed the birds and squirrels, and sat on my partner's bench in the garden. In the rain. In the cold. I was lost in thought about someone I love very much, in one of his favorite places on Earth. (Until my brother called out the back door, "Hey! Are you crazy???" and brought me back to my senses.)

I got busy and carried on with my day, as well as on Sunday, too. I got lots of stuff done, more renovation work completed on the house, more joy shared with family... but nothing feels as empty as your heart when your bed is empty, too.

While I spoke with my partner on the phone a few times while he was away, it's still not the same. A little catch-up about the mail or that my brother was here (and is a wuss!)... but what I missed is the ongoing banter and interaction through dialogue. It's just not the same by phone as when your man is by your side.

When I got home from work yesterday, my partner had returned. He had already unpacked, had a load of laundry in the machine, and was taking a shower. I took off my boots, peeled off my work clothes, and stepped into the shower with him. He smiled, we embraced, kissed passionately ... and....

Life is short: show those you love that you love them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

How Cold Is Cold?

While it was sunny yesterday, the predictions for warmer weather were wrong. It was 38°F (3°C) when we went to sunrise mass in the morning, and by 8am, when we were going to get on the Harley to go on our first family visit, it was only 42°F (5.5°C). My brother declined the invitation to join me as a passenger, and I could understand why. The bunny costume wasn't insulated (LOL!)

We took the truck instead. I left him with a sister while I returned home, leathered up (including my All American Patrol Boots), hopped on the Harley, and joined my club to ride sweep which I had promised to do. My LAPD leather breeches are fully lined, and were warm and comfortable. Several layers of clothing under my Motocross jacket kept me warm on the topside, as well as warm gloves and a full-face helmet.

The ride was great. By the time it was done, I checked the temperature and it wasn't that much warmer -- only 50°F (10°C). I called my brother and he said that he really didn't want to go on the bike to see our other family. I could understand, but I still called him a wuss. He took it good-naturedly. I took the bike home, changed out of biker leathers into light leather jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, pulled on my Dehner dress-instep patrol boots and pulled the leather jeans down over them, got into the truck and reconnected with my brother. We visited the rest of the family and enjoyed a nice dinner at another sister's house with her family.

So the bunny surprise didn't quite happen, but we had fun anyway. And my brother, bless him, is a WUSS! You heard it here first!

Life is short: wear your leather! (so you don't wuss out on a motorcycle ride on a sunny day, even if it is cold!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Hoppy shined my patrol boots today.

Very early -- like at sunrise -- my twin brother and I will go to mass. I'll be in the patrol boots, dress pants and shirt. Unless he makes me, I will forgo the tie, though he will be in a suit. Bless him, he got the suit genes, and I got the leather jeans. (smile)

When we get home, I will prepare a nice breakfast. Then I'll shuck the dress duds but not the boots. I'm gonna boot up in leather and (another pair of) tall cop boots and ride my Harley. My brother and I will go visit the little ones and he will be in a full-sized bunny costume!

No, a helmet won't fit in the head; we will have to ride close to the surprise locations and have him take off the helmet and put the head on... then go terrorize the kiddos and get 'em juiced up on lots of candy.

Mid-day, I'll leave my brother at a sister's house for lunch while I go for a ride with my club. The ride is supposed to only be a couple hours, but we'll see if the estimate is correct.

Mid-afternoon, I will rejoin my brother, bunny him up again, and go for a few more visits. It ought to be a ton of fun and laughs. We will have Easter dinner at another sister's house, then come home early. He has to go to a series of meetings in DC (which is why he is visiting) and I have to go back to work early on Monday.

Happy Easter, everyone! Life is short: show those you love that you love them (even in crazy ways!)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

All American Blue Knight Patrol Boot Cruisin'

Trying the connection from Flickr to Blogger. Kinda neat, eh?

This is how I was booted today. Best motorcycle patrol boots I have ever worn in style, appearance, comfort, design, and fit. More photos and information about them is on my website, here.

Less Than Half

My partner is a serious grocery shopper. He religiously cuts coupons. When the food section arrives in the paper on Wednesday, he reviews the ads closely.

Then we have this long session where he goes through the ad to identify which items are on sale that we ordinarily buy. He matches the sales with coupons.

Then on top of that, the store where we regularly shop matches competitor's store coupons. Lately, one major chain has been offering $10 off a $50 grocery order, and another offers $5 off a $25 order. Then they run coupons of their own ... which our regular store will match.

Friday is the regular shopping day in our household. I had a long list. We usually go shopping together, but my partner is visiting his mother so I had to do the shopping alone.

I found every item, used every coupon, and had the store clerk give the discounts for the competitor's coupons. I must have had 30 coupons...

but you know what? It made a huge difference. I rang up $166.57 in groceries, and by using the store's loyalty card (which gives the discounts for the sale prices, and brought the total to $115.42), then all those manufacturer's coupons, and the competitor coupon "match" that my partner diligently finds, I brought the total down to $79.81.

I am ordinarily not one to go to all this trouble, but it was well worth it. My partner is very diligent, and his attention to detail and coupon-snipping saves us a ton of money each week. I love my man for many reasons, and this is one of them. We can put the money we might spend on groceries to good use on the house. Lots of maintenance to do this Spring.

Which reminds me... that's where I have been and where I will be this weekend: fixing up that old house I bought. I have made a huge amount of progress, and if everything gets done this weekend as I plan, then it will be ready to be painted and have carpeting installed by the third week of April -- a week earlier than expected. But... I am going on a motorcycle ride on Sunday. Gotta work in some fun among all the renovation stuff.

Life is short: clip your coupons!

Friday, April 10, 2009

OMG its SNF!

Yep, this is how I am feeling. I have a serious case of "social network fatigue" or SNF. I didn't even know this was a real "syndrome" until I looked it up, and found an interesting article about it.

The article states just how I am feeling about participating in social networking sites: you hear about something that sounds interesting, you sign up, then soon enough the interest fades and you forget about it and you're occasionally reminded of the pain spent in managing connections instead of enjoying being connected.

BHD has participated in social networks including Boots on Line, Gearfetish, Recon, BLUF, and even MySpace. He's been invited to join Facebook countless times (but has resisted). He once was on other boot-related networks on ning and still belongs to the "abootfetish2" yahoo group, though it doesn't do anything for him any more. And he's forgotten already about two dozen other one-time wonder networks and yahoo groups that he had signed up for, looked at for a little while, the forgot about.

BHD's professional side belongs to LinkedIn, about 20 yahoo and google groups, and six listservs set up by professional organizations or societies.

All these things take a lot of time to manage, and get exhausting.

Interestingly, Bill -- the husband of Larry of "hotboots" fame -- suggested recently that I examine just what participation in these social network sites and email groups "does for me." And you know, he's right, it doesn't do much for me any more. I've made my friends. The hassle of dealing with occasional bozos who have harassed me through these sites (and getting it cleaned up) is more trouble than it's worth to continue to participate, and I'm sure is annoying to webmasters who have to deal with goofball matters like this. And frankly, I'm just tired of the same-old, same-old boring stuff I see on these sites. After a while, it all blends in to a general jumbled visual mush and is rendered meaningless.

That doesn't mean that I have lost interest in maintaining and building my friendships developed through connections initially made through these sites. It just means that I have enough now already and the men I have added to my life with whom I regularly communicate are great. But as my Nonna would say, "Basta!" -- enough is enough.

Good friends have expressed similar feelings lately. AZ, JohnSmith, Bama, Clay, Maf, and several others -- we're all expressing the fatigue of keeping up with all the clutter of networking, instead of actually networking with those with whom we have made a connection. Funny, it was Bama who expressed what I was observing, "all the cool guys are gone...." (though I am honored that such a cool guy would refer to me by that term, but I digress.)

No worries, fellas, I'll still be around. I will continue to maintain, update, and refresh my website, post regularly on this blog, and keep an eye on other things, but my active participation on BOL, abootfetish, etc., etc., is of less interest and value to me.

Anyone else suffering from SNF? It seems to be a growing syndrome that the younger set can teach us older guys about.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Big Day

Yesterday was a big day. I was officially presented the award that I blogged about in January. I'm on such a high that my silly grin still won't be wiped off my face, and I am still floating on air, boots and all.

It began with a surprise upgrade to First Class on the flights to the city where a conference was being held and at which the award was presented. It continued with being picked up at the airport and escorted to the hotel in a huge Suburban with two bike cops clearing traffic. For lil' ol' me? Who woulda thunk?

It continued when I got to the hotel and was given a key to a suite, complete with a 5,000-pound fruit basket, compliments of the host committee.

Dinner with old friends -- well, shall I say "really long-term but not-that-old") -- on Tuesday night was a hoot. If I weren't such an early-bird, I could have stayed up all night. But I was a good boy, and got to bed by 9.

I tried to give away the fruit at a breakfast on Wednesday morning, but the hotel had provided more and more fruit. I had to bring the basket back to my room... unpartaken (except for a couple bananas that I ate).

I spent most of the morning attending the conference that brought me, and enjoyed listening to the presentations and thinking, "my, my, my, how things have not changed."

Then the big event -- the awards lunch. I can't/won't go into detail, but let me say that it was truly special and I am deeply grateful and honored. The standing ovation was more than I expected, and the acknowledgments for the contributions to my profession were beyond belief. I am just a man who was in the right place, at the right time, and who had the freedom to extend his passion across a broad spectrum. That couldn't happen today as the organization where I did that work is a mere shell of itself now (and its decline is a main reason why I left), but was wonderful in the heyday of enabling such accomplishments.

The part of the event about which I was most anxious was a celebratory dinner last night. It was hosted by a well-regarded media outlet and one of its most well-known "gurus." He razzed me, joked around, made up stories (no, I didn't go bald before he did! I still have [some] hair!) The event was more of a roast, but all in good fun. I was able to relax, laugh, and have a great time.

My only regret if I have one is that my partner wasn't with me. He joined me at the January presentation, but he said that this event was "your time with your people." He knew that I would have to continue to introduce him, and he didn't want any attention. He hates crowds. Funny, he likes to dress up, and I don't. I like crowds, and he doesn't. Oh well, we share many other things in common.

I'm winging my way back home as you read this, and will return to some semblance of "normal life." My twin brother arrives late tonight to spend Easter with us. I love having him around. We have something special planned for the kiddos this weekend. Te he.

By the way, I found a good use for the fruit basket -- there was a homeless shelter not that far from the hotel, and I donated it to them. They were very happy to get it.

Life is short: You gotta love it!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Meeting The Right Guy

I have been asked from time to time how to meet a guy who has the qualities that I have described in my own partner: honesty, integrity, romance, intelligence, and terrific & tender with intimacy (not necessarily in that order!)

I am "of the age" where when I was single and looking around, the Internet was not available. Websites dedicated to social interactions and networking did not exist. The only places available to meet other guys were bars, clubs, social groups, and the workplace. We could run a personal ad in the local gay rag, but that didn't work very well and took a long time. Or, there were occasional gay-oriented events, like rallies, trips or cruises, but those trips didn't occur with the frequency back then with which they do now.

I know that I was exceptionally fortunate to have met my partner through a club that we both had joined for different reasons, but about the same time. The other members of the club turned out to have a lot of "issues." My partner and I figured that out fast, left the club, but kept each other! We are approaching 16 years of true partnership, and I am thankful for each minute I have had with him.

These days, using the Internet to make first contacts is how many men meet other men. But using the Internet exclusively has severe drawbacks. I have learned from my on-line activities (blog, website, occasional posting on BOL, etc.) that a fair number of the people who respond to on-line postings have "issues." A guy may sound normal in writing but then when you meet him, you find out that (a) he is married to a woman; (b) he has someone at home he calls a partner yet he is playing deceitfully behind his partner's back; (c) he was smart enough to analyze your posting to repeat what you wanted to hear, but when you spoke with him one-on-one, it turns out that you have nothing in common; (d) he is demanding for sex and not much else; (e) he doesn't have much "upstairs", (f) he wants your money, or (g) some combination of these things.

A guy looking to meet another guy on the 'net needs to be astute enough to know that not everyone is who he portrays himself to be. That if you do choose to meet in person, to plan the first meeting in a public place, like a restaurant or a bar, rather than invite him to your home immediately. Have a conversation before letting your libido take over your mind. Keep your mind straight -- at least as straight as it can be for a gay guy -- by not confounding your thought processes with drugs or alcohol. After all, meeting someone else for purposes of a longer-term relationship than a one-night stand means that you have to be able to listen and think.

While the Internet is an often-used tool to meet other guys, what I continue to observe and hear from friends is to "get out there." Get involved in things. Find out if there are brunches or other social functions organized by a group that you would enjoy knowing better. If you enjoy playing sports, join a volleyball, softball, or other local sports team. Get involved in community or church activities. Go rock climbing or hiking with people. Join a club or group that does things you enjoy -- like I do with motorcycle riding and civic groups. These days, gay men are "out there" and active in a number of groups because they like what the group does. They enjoy doing things like helping out at the shelter, singing in the choir, playing a sport, and all sorts of things.

Because gay men are more integrated than ever before in community events, activities, and sports, it is common to find that while there are a bunch of straight people in the group, there very well are gay people in it too. They are like me: they don't wave the rainbow flag, come swishing into a room with a squeaky voice, or have an HRC sticker on their car's bumper. That is, they generally blend in as a part of the fabric of the community, and not associate only with other gay people. After a while, though, you usually can find out (by using "gaydar" or simply asking) if a guy you like might be interested in going out with you. If you find a man you like in the group, you already have something in common, which is the activity that the group does. You already have something about which you can begin a conversation. And let me affirm that it is conversation that builds the foundation of a long-lasting quality relationship.

Getting out and involved seems to me to be one of the most overlooked "resources" for finding a mate. Yet that process is as age-old as going to the church social or the barn-building for a neighbor of years past. (And in years past, that is how a lot of gay men actually met each other because they never could think of revealing their sexual orientation.)

Keep at it, keep looking, and know in your heart that if you really want to meet that special man, there are guys out there that you will like and who will like you as well as be compatible in bed. But I know it doesn't happen like it happened with me but once in a blue moon. But it can happen. It does happen. Think positively, keep looking, keep true to yourself and your convictions. And also: keep smiling! Nobody likes a man who scowls.

Life is short. Spending it with someone who will remember your name and forgive you when you put your right boot on your left foot when you're 70 is worth it. :-)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pennsylvania Connections

My partner loves to sit in our gardens in the back yard and relax. He watches the birds flutter around the feeder, the squirrels play "catch me if you can," and soak in the marvels of Mother Nature in her glory. He worked very hard to make our backyard retreat the quiet, soothing, comfortable place that it is. He says that in some ways, it reminds him of "backwoods" where he grew up, in Western Pennsylvania.

I joined him on a bench back in our backyard retreat the other day. This was one of those times where we sat, relaxed, and had a quiet conversation. During that particular chat, I spoke about some guys I have gotten to know who also have connections with his home state.

My best friend, AZ, was born in the same hospital where my partner was (albeit a decade later), and lived in Pennsylvania for quite a while until he moved for a new start on a new life in Arizona, where he is well-settled and happy. My partner knows all about AZ, as we have talked about him and our friendship a lot. My partner appreciates that AZ and I have such a strong bond of friendship, because he knows that AZ is a quality man.

Within the last year, I have "met" (via email) two other fine men from Pennsylvania. I choose not to reveal too much about them out of respect for their privacy. But I can say a little bit.

One guy lives and works in the central part of the state. He has a responsible position with a well-respected employer. He travels a lot. He likes boots, but admits that his boot-wearing has been limited to a few favorite pairs. He travels a lot for his job. He is really smart and introspective. He is gay, but lives a quiet life and has kept his interests in other men pretty much to himself. Lately he has begun the process of coming out by getting involved in groups and meeting people. He has told me that my blog has helped him be more comfortable with being himself and who he is as gay man. I have learned a lot from him, and really enjoy our frequent email exchanges and discussions.

Another guy lives with his partner in Western PA. He comes from a strong, supportive family. He also has done a lot of civic work in helping to protect and care for his small town and surrounding areas. He likes boots, too, but usually only wears them casually (and he is quite attractive in his Wranglers and boots!) He works in a specialty field but in a corporate environment. He travels a lot, too. We have exchanged many emails and some phone calls, and I have learned a lot about his qualities, intelligence, wit, and charm. His nature of being a confident, masculine man has helped reaffirm much for me, as our outlooks on the nature of "gaydom" are identical.

I have blogged about some of the conversations I have had with these friends. What brought us together, perhaps, was a mutual interest in boots, but what built bonds of friendship with all of these guys is more than that. We have mutual interests and outlooks on life. It is not surprising that we have formed solid friendships. These guys are down-to-earth, intelligent, thoughtful, and pleasant men who have a lot to share. They know how to be a good friend. They are forgiving of my occasional lapses in communication. They ask insightful questions. They give support when they sense it's needed (and they are quite able to sense that need without my having to say so.)

As I was having that conversation in our garden with my partner, he remarked to me -- and he's right -- there's something about those Pennsylvania connections. Sure, I have friends here at home in Maryland and all around the world. I treasure, though, my "PA Connections" which first brought me my partner, and ongoing have introduced me to quality men who have brought joy, calm, and fun to my life. Thanks, guys!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Missing My Riding Buddy

As I have blogged about before, I witnessed a great friend and fellow motorcycle rider get killed by a cell-phone-yapping yuppie. Six years ago today that horrible crash happened. Rick died on the scene. It was an awful sight, and I still have nightmares.

I haven't stopped riding, but I am still quite nervous, especially when statistics continue to show that more and more people use cell phones all the time, and many continue to yap-and-talk while driving. Worse nowadays are those who text-and-talk.

The Commonwealth of Virginia finally had a little bit of courage to pass a bill that the Governor signed into law to make texting while driving a secondary offense. This watered-down bill is better than nothing at all.

My own state's legislature (Maryland) has no guts, no courage, and no intelligence, particularly those who serve on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee before whom I testified, but who couldn't pass the bill out of committee this year. SHAME ON THEM!

They all yap on their cell phones all the time. Even when the committee was presented with strong evidence compelling the reasons to pass a measure to make talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving or texting while driving a primary offense -- and even with the support of the Maryland State Police (this year was the first time they got behind the legislation) -- the darn fools once again won't pass the bill. What a crying shame. And I am ashamed of each and every one of the committee members who voted against the bill. SHAME SHAME SHAME! BOO! HISSSS!

I commend my district's state senator for drafting the bill and getting co-sponsors for it. He is, at least, trying to do the right thing, even if some of his colleagues won't support him.

Meanwhile, I spoke with Cindy last night. Cindy was Rick's wife. She is doing okay. Their children are growing, and doing okay. But she was melancholy, and I can understand why. She moved out-of-state about a year after Rick's crash, but we have kept in touch. She misses Rick so much. The kids still ask about him from time to time, but their memories are short, and they don't know who their Daddy really was: a man of integrity, intelligence, political savvy, and who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. In many ways, he was my political soulmate, whose absence continues to be felt deeply.

I'll keep fighting for what's right. You would think that legislating common sense is unnecessary. Unfortunately, there are so many people who have no common sense at all, and continue to yap-and-drive lethal weapons down the highway.

Hang up and drive. The life you save could be your own.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Clang Clang Clang Goes the Trolley

My partner seldom wants to go anywhere and it is even less often that he comes up with an idea of something he wants to do. Yesterday was an exception.

We joined a group that went to Philadelphia for a "rail fan" tour. In the morning, we toured the 30th Street Station in Philly and learned about its history. We then got to see Amtrak's operations center which is also located there. It was an interesting behind-the-scenes insight into how Amtrak's operations run.

We had lunch at the station, and boarded a bus which took us to a trolley car barn operated by SEPTA, the authority that runs public transit in Philly. We boarded a chartered PCC II trolley car for a delightful trip all over the city. We stopped several times for "photo ops," which I did a few times, but honestly, to me, one picture of a trolley car looks pretty much the same as all others. We rode for hours and hours all over Philadelphia. The smile on my partner's face was endless. He has always had a special fascination with trams, trolleys, and street cars since he remembers them from his days as a kid. We have spent days and days riding trams in Melbourne, Australia; Christchurch, New Zeland; Munich and Frankfort, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Toronto, Canada; and New Orleans and San Francisco, USA. In fact, back in the day when we traveled, half of our time playing tourist was just to ride the trams.

I enjoy it when my partner is happy. He works so hard and does so many things to help me that the rare times he wants to do something for his own happiness is only my pleasure to support.

Life is short: keep smiling! Show those you love that you love them.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cherry Tree Time Again!

I got a chance to take a walk over by the U.S. Capitol yesterday to see the cherry trees in bloom on the Capitol grounds. It was delightful ... and not too crowded. Most of the tourists coming to see the trees in DC go to the Tidal Basin, and don't know that there are cherry trees in other places in the city that are just as gorgeous.

I generally avoid going to tourist places in DC during peak tourist season, which has started in earnest. However, I work in the city and there are so many things that are nice to see during Spring that I still try to get out to see them. DC is such a walkable, beautiful city, especially in springtime.

I posted more pictures that I took here on my website.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Leatherman Transformation

How it is when I get home from work and don't have to go to an evening meeting.

And yeah, I built the shelves in the background and my partner finished them. Since I built our house, we put in a lot of built-in features throughout, which makes it comfortable, livable, and practical. People have asked, "where do you store all those boots?" When you build your own house, you plan for storage, so the boot closet was part of what we constructed, as well.

Of the many reasons why I love my partner, two things come to mind: he enjoys and welcomes my many "leatherman transformations" at home, even if he isn't into leather and boots as I am. Second, he supported my decision to take a five-month leave-of-absence from my old job when I was building our house and developing out our small neighborhood, and provided me the financial and emotional support I required during that process. I'll never, ever, do that again (dealing with the bureaucracy in developing a small neighborhood took five years and cause me to turn gray among other things), but I couldn't have done it without his partnership, love, and all those many back-rubs.

Life is short: wear your boots and leather!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tears of Romance

My partner is such a romantic guy.

I had a hectic day at work yesterday, with one thing after another going on. Nothing was wrong, but I didn't have a break all day. Then after work, I dropped by that house I am renovating to put in another hour of electrical work while it was still daylight. (The house doesn't have the power turned on, so I have to work when I can see what I'm doing.)

When I got home, I changed out of my dirty jeans into some leather, just 'cause. I then got to work preparing dinner for my partner and me.

As I was preparing our meal, I heard the door open in the basement, then close. I saw my partner out in the back yard. I didn't think much about it, because he likes to stroll in the gardens.

I was absorbed in my cooking tasks, and heard a noise. I looked up, and there was my partner, reaching toward me with a huge bunch of daffodils cut from our garden. He smiled, handed me the flowers, and said those three simple but powerful words, "I love you."

My reaction was to smile, embrace him, and then feel tears stream down my face. The tears welled up because my partner still brings me flowers and shows he loves me ... after all these years. I have such deep, true passionate love for my one-and-only. He is such a romantic man. I am so richly blessed to have someone in my life who loves me so deeply.

Life is short: show those that you love that you love them!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dress Wingtips and Cocktail Attire

So, how do you like my new shoes? They are, according to the Esquire "Best Dressed Real Man" contest, the hottest thing for men this Spring.

When I was asked to enter the contest from several people who are always in awe of my innate sense of fashion and style, I saw that these shoes were on the list of what was considered the ultimate in men's fashion, and I had to have them. Since money isn't an object for the guppy set, I used my cell phone to call the valet to bring 'round my newly-leased Lexus LX09 Hybrid SUV and drove myself over to Neiman Marcus to get a pair. I mean heck, they were only $495 a pair. I purchased a pair in black, too, since they were such a great buy. (You don't just get these shoes, you go through a purchasing experience at their sales event). And while I was there, I got fitted for three new suits and picked up a half-dozen new fine silk ties. My old suits and ties were getting a little tattered. I've been wearing them for a few months now. Time for Spring duds and also time to donate my hardly-used clothing to the Planet Aid bin in the grocery store's parking lot.

And what a pleasant surprise! They gave me a set of men's hair and skin products as a gift for buying the suits (wow, a $100 value!), consisting of green tea face wash (that's the latest thing, fellas!), herbal skin softener, under-eye toner, and ginseng hair rinse. Oh, and bottle of ode-de-realman cologne, too! Wow!

In reviewing on-line articles about cocktail attire, where it says that "boots under trousers are an abomination," I know a new suit, tie, and expensive dress wingtip shoes will be the hit of the party at the latest gathering in Guppyville!

After the great shopping experience, I dropped into a nearby Starbucks. I began Twittering on my laptop. While sipping a java chip frappacinno, admiring the new shoes, I sat back and said...


April Fools!