Maryland Crab Feast

There is nothing, I mean nothing, like a steamed Maryland Blue Crab. Sweet and delicate, meaty and tasty, these morsels of the Chesapeake Bay have been a delight of many over the years. And, unfortunately, due to overfishing, pollution, and other problems, there are far fewer crabs available today than there were just last year.

Today I rode with friends to one of my very favorite places to get crabs (or other Bay seafood.) This restaurant is just about 35 miles east and south of us. The restaurant has a pleasant outside deck and is located on the Severn River, near Annapolis, our state capitol.

I was shocked when the server told us that one dozen large #1 male crabs cost US$70 per dozen. OMG! That’s almost $6 each! Yikes! Just a few years ago, my partner and I enjoyed an “all you can eat” crab feast for $30 each at this same restaurant. Now for that same amount of money, you get five crabs. Sheesh. Probably the last time we go out for crabs any time again… as much as I love steamed crabs, this is too much. But today, I splurged. I split a dozen crabs with a buddy. The crabs were great — meaty, firm, fresh, and quite tasty.

It takes a long time to eat one crab, from cracking the claws to squeezing the feelers (small swimming legs) to “opening the hatch” and removing the shell, discarding the gills and intestines, and get the lump meat inside. Dip it in a little butter and Old Bay seasoning, and pop it in your mouth. Yum! Part of the tradition of enjoying a crab feast is to take your time and talk with your friends. And there is a lot of time for that!

Usually one washes down the crabs with beer, but since we were on our motorcycles, we just bought pitchers of soft drinks.

It was another incredibly beautiful day in Maryland. Warm but not hot, sunny, and unusually low humidity. What a great day!

Storing Boots

With over 130 pairs of boots in my collection (and I regularly wear most of them), places to put them has been running out. My partner is a very patient man, but he insisted that we do something about “all those boots” this weekend.

I had to find a place for 14 pairs of boots, and get them up off the floor (so my partner would not trip on them). I got this idea from someone who described this process on “boots on line” a few years ago. You simply install brackets on a wall, ensure the brackets are level, and then place a shower rod across them.

If you are like we are, you end up with a lot of cheap wire clothes hangars when you bring home shirts from the dry cleaner. I simply cut apart the hangars and crafted hooks out of them. I hang one end of the hook on the rod, and put the other end of the hook on a boot’s pull strap. Then just hang the boot.

This whole set-up did not cost much — just about US$40 for the brackets and rods. I was going to use shower curtain hooks for the boots, but my local HomoDepot was remodeling and didn’t have any. Not wanting to chase all over the place, I thought that I could cut apart wire hangars, which worked very well. It took a little bit more time to make the hooks, but it did not take very long and I like to save money when I can.

By the way, the new storage is in our garage. My partner doesn’t really want to see more boots in our living space. I already have a rather large set of shelves in our basement on which I keep 50 pairs of boots, and then the rest fit on shelves on one wall of my walk-in-closet. (We have “his-and-his” walk-in closets. Since I built our house, I made sure we had lots of closet space).

For now, all the boots have a home when I’m not wearing them. And best yet, my partner is happy.

Summer’s End

That is not me in the photo above, but it expresses how I am feeling. A bit of melancholy as my Harley and I face the sunset of a pleasant summer of 2008. August hasn’t ended yet, but by the looks of the volume of materials to review for upcoming meetings and public hearings and on and on, my summer recess is over!

I remember as a kid that I thought it was cruel and unusual punishment for school to continue through the third week of June in Maryland. It already had been warm since April and the days were longer. Last place I wanted to be was in an school with no air conditioning in the middle of June!

Almost as soon as school ended, Mom and Dad would pack all of us into (two) cars (there were a lot of us kids) and take us to see our country — north, south, east, west, and everywhere in between. We would be on the road for about six to seven weeks, staying in each destination for a few days, see the sights, the State Capitol, caves, mountains, rivers, oceans, and much more. I really loved those summers. Especially the trip where each parent thought the other had my sister (the one who drove me craziest) in the other’s car. They inadvertently left her in the bathroom at a gas station in the middle of Nebraska. Rats! They figured it out and Dad went back to get her.

As an adult, my summer really doesn’t begin until after Independence Day (July 4), as my volunteer life consumes me even longer than school days did. Then I get through my company’s mid-July week-long conference. After that, I’m home free. While I still go to work, things aren’t rushed or crazy. Washington typically “evacuates” during this period. There is much less traffic on the road, fewer passengers riding the subway, and it’s just easier to get around. If I ate out at lunch (which I don’t), I’ve been told it’s much easier to get a table at a restaurant.

I took my ideal vacation last week — a “staycation” where I took a week off work and stayed HOME! While I did a number of things for my family and worked a bit on the house, I also allowed myself some “playtime” and you saw some of the results in blog posts from last week.

Well, it’s all about to come crashing to a halt. E-mail related to my volunteer activities has been flowing in very fast. Papers, reports, maps, charts, graphics… lots of “stuff”… have been flowing to me for review. Most of it is on-line now (saving millions of trees). Nonetheless, if I learned anything from my political mentor, it was to read everything and then read it again. That’s how I get on top of my game. But man oh man oh man, that takes a lot of time.

And on top of that, my partner has been complaining about my boot collection becoming too cumbersome for him to deal with. Drat, he tripped over one pair of boots and now the world will end. So instead of playing, riding my Harley, and relaxing this weekend, he has an agenda for construction of some utility storage for my boots. And he won’t rest and stop harping on it until it’s done.

Well, the “Labor Day” weekend will involve more “labor” than “weekend”. I have carved out a small period of time to go on a motorcycle ride to a crab feast on Sunday. But that’s it. And come next week, watch out! The routine will have returned with a vengeance. Wish me peace!

A Special Privilege

I work in Washington, DC, the capital of the United States of America. I have to pinch myself sometimes as I look around when I take a lunchtime walk. Is this real? Do I really work here? I should not take my good fortune that my office is in such an amazing location for granted.

I don’t work for the government, nor am I a lobbyist. There are some who believe that everyone who works in the city must be one or the other. I’m just a guy who works in a non-profit organization that is based on Capitol Hill, in the heart of what some claim to be the most powerful location in the free world.

Yesterday I was invited to attend a presentation that was held in one of the office buildings that is used by the House of Representatives. As I walked to the meeting from my office, I crossed the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. Despite all the rhetoric — especially these days leading up to an historic election on November 4 — I remained awed by being on the grounds of such an important, historic place. I actually was humming the National Anthem as I was walking along, watching tourists from all over the world stop and take photos, asking cops for directions, and staring at the glory. I tell ‘ya, this place is stunning.

To my right was the national mall and the Washington Monument. What a commanding view. It brought many memories of a happy childhood climbing the 897 steps inside the Monument to the top (can’t do that any more), walking into the Capitol Building itself without an appointment (can’t do that any more), and flying a kite on the mall (you can still do that.) Unfortunately, with all the security in the area, it’s not as picturesque as it once was, with all the fences, signs, cops, road blocks, and barriers.

Another memory I had was that my parents told me that they met by literally bumping into each other on the west steps of the Capitol Building. I owe my very existence to that chance encounter.

The rambling and echoing hallways of the Rayburn building, with the bronze signs indicating the locations of committee hearing rooms, continued to inspire me, a “participating” U.S. citizen. Not that I forgive them, but I can understand why legislators get drunk with power when they walk those hallways, and sit at tables on risers above the rest of the floor.

As I returned to my office, I took a different route, past the Library of Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. What crossed my mind is why this upcoming election is so important — to try to change the wrong-wing decisions of the Court by having a President who will appoint justices who interpret the U.S. Constitution with more of an open mind, with fairness to everyone (including me, a gay guy who loves another man and wants our relationship to be able to be recognized in civil law as our civil right.) So yep, this election will be important for that, and for much more. But that’s the extent of where I’ll go in expressing my political opinions on this blog. There are many other blogs that blather about all that.

I truly am privileged to work in such a special city. I shouldn’t take it for granted. Few have the ability to walk out the door every day and see such important places where history continues to be made.

The Lonliness of Dying Alone

My blog posts of late have indicated the fullness and vitality of loving life. And I really do believe I am most blessed by God by having a wonderful and supportive life-mate in my partner, a caring and humongous family, and terrific friends — some of whom I have known since I was three years old. I’m even more blessed by my additional “brothers” in my cherished “AZ”, Clay, and UTBR. Blessings continue with my relationship with a huge band of seniors whom I have come to adore and spend a lot of time with. However, that’s what I’m blogging about today — my senior pals, most of whom live lonely lives ’cause their kids forget about them.

Mabel called at 4am the other day. She’s one of my senior friends who like many others, lives alone. She has two daughters who live in distant states. From time to time, I do some household repairs for her, have her join my aunt and me when we do our weekly grocery shopping, and sometimes just sit and listen. She’s among a close group who serve, in a way, as another adopted “family.”

Whenever the phone rings at 4am, it is never good news. Mabel sounded very concerned — she said that she heard a loud “ka-thump” in the apartment above her. She thought that her upstairs neighbor fell. She tried calling him and then knocked on his door, but there was no answer. She was afraid that she was overreacting, and didn’t want to call the security station at her retirement community because she had been admonished once for “bothering them.” (I don’t know the full story; nonetheless, she is reluctant to call them.)

Mabel has a key to her neighbor’s condo, but didn’t want to go in alone. She was afraid. She called me. I got up, got dressed, told my partner what was going on. He sighed and asked me to send him an email at work later to let him know what happened.

A few minutes later, I had arrived at Mabel’s apartment. She and I knocked, then opened her neighbor’s door. We found him in his bedroom. He had collapsed. He wasn’t breathing and there was no heartbeat. I called 9-1-1 and the community’s security station. While in the kitchen by the phone, I saw a “DNR” (do not resuscitate) order posted on the refrigerator. Responders were there in a flash, and I pointed out the DNR order. They understood, and just turned it over to the cops. Mabel’s neighbor died. Alone.

The cops who came were outstanding in their calmness, professionalism, and compassion. They explained what happens when someone dies alone. They conducted an investigation, but knew that nothing sinister happened. Mabel’s 90-year-old neighbor who had been living alone for over a decade had a cardiac arrest. Mabel cried, held my hand, and just wanted to talk. She was frightened. I just sat with her for several hours until the coroner arrived and the cops said we could go.

The man’s daughter who lives about 50 miles away arrived, breathless. “I talked to him last week on the phone,” she said tearfully. That wasn’t the time to criticize anyone. A week is a long, long time when you’re alone.

My partner wonders why I call about 15 people every day when I get home from work. They have no one else to check on them. No one else to call. They’re alone. It’s so sad. Nobody should be alone in the world, nobody.

If you have family or friends who live alone, give ’em a call, if nothing other than to say that you’re thinking of them. Give them an ear to share a story, a thought, a memory, an idea. Send them a card on their birthday and at other times too — I go “card crazy” sometimes by sending cards for no reason at all, other than to say, “you’re important; you’re thought of today.” (I really ought to by stock in Hallmark.)

Being alone doesn’t mean that one has to be lonely. Who knows, when you call someone living alone, you might learn something! I sure do. I learn a lot about life, about love, and about things that enrichen my spirit, my knowledge, and myself. I am a much better man for the richness of the souls whose lives are intertwined with mine.

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

Improving the Harley’s Comfort

I have ridden my new Road King over 2,000 miles since I got it at the end of May. During that time, I have found that my back ached after riding, even for fairly short distances, and especially after a long ride. I was having to hunch over and lean forward when I rode with the stock handlebars. My wrists ached also, and my hands went numb due to the position my hands were in on the stock bars. The residual soreness in my back and my wrists lasted for days. Aspirin was becoming my “best friend.”

Working closely with the outstanding Parts Manager at my local Harley dealer, he measured my reach, height, and looked carefully at my body position on the bike. Using those measurements, he found some bars in an after-market catalog that he thought might be better. He placed the order for me. When the bars came in, he had the service department clamp them onto my bike so he could make sure the bars were right for me. They seemed to fit well. But the Service Manager at my Harley dealer said they wouldn’t install the bars because the bars were not made by the Motor Company. (Grumble, grumble… but the service dept. at my Harley dealer is known to be rather poor, anyway.) Moving on, the Parts Manager went with me to a custom motorcycle shop up the street to introduce me to them, and to discuss how to make these bars work with the “fly-by-wire” electronic throttle.

The new bars have a 1″ (2.5cm) higher “rise” and a 3-1/2″ (8.9cm) longer pull-back. I picked up the bike yesterday after the installation was complete, and rode 80 miles. I led a ride today and rode about another 80 miles. Tonight, I have a huge smile on my face because I am not sore in the least bit! I knew the fit could be made better. I now sit up straight with my arms slightly bent. My wrist angle is perfect, too. No soreness or numbness. Terrific!

You also see me in this pic with yet another new helmet. It was made by Seer, which is the helmet worn by CHP officers. It was painted to match the color of my Harley. It is a 3/4 helmet, giving me an open face, but full protection around my head. Worn with protective eyewear, this helmet works great, especially on hot days. It is cooler than a full-face helmet, which I will wear when it is colder.

I’m a happy Booted Harleydude, and much more comfortable on my bike while riding, due to the new bars, new helmet, and am always really comfortable in my Chippewa Firefighter Boots.

Life is short! Wear your boots! (and be comfortable, too!)

The Importance of Touch

This photo is not my partner and me, but it could be. We both believe in the intimate feeling of touch. When we greet, it’s through touch, often including a full bear hug embrace. When we sit near one another, our hands intertwine, naturally. Heck, I’ll even play “bootsie” (that’s “footsie” but since I always wear boots, I have adjusted the term.)

Saturday morning is my favorite time of the whole week. We don’t have to rush to do anything (usually), and this time of year when I have a summer recess, I don’t have to run out to meetings or public hearings first thing in the morning.

As dawn awakens us naturally, my partner and I just lay next to one another in bed and watch the sun’s glow light up the trees. We feel each other’s touch, from shoulder to toe. Often, we just lay there holding one another without saying a word. This is incredibly important to both of us. It is a way we continue to show our love for one another, and to enjoy each other’s warmth and tenderness.

How blessed I am to have a man who enjoys cuddling as much as I do. A man who shares his deepest thoughts and ideas during these times, when we have quiet but often future-shaping conversations. But most of all, I appreciate that I have a man who values the importance of touch. Our touch with one another often expresses more than words can ever convey.

Next time you see someone you care about, greet him or her warmly with an embrace, the touch of a two-handed handshake, and a big smile. Life is short: show those you love that you love ’em.

Messy, Messy (but fun!)

I have a very wide diversity of interests when it comes to boots and leather. The only boots I don’t like are rubber boots, ropers, and Chelsea (dress) boots. (Well, I also find absolutely no use for boots that go above the knee). Other than that, you’ll find pretty much all other types of boots in my collection and on my feet.

A while back, someone whose photography on an on-line forum called “Boots on Line” reached out to me via email. He’s a rather private individual, and I respect his privacy. I admire him a lot though. We have much in common, except sexual orientation, but that’s neither here nor there. I have a partner and I’m not interested in any other guy for reasons other than making and keeping friendships. And even though my friend is straight, he isn’t narrow-minded.

“Bamaboy” is a very creative man in his photography and his skills with Photoshop. His photos are “legend” in some circles. He has been best known for photos of various tall boots in mud, with mud, around mud, and with dried mud. I know it sounds messy, but every now and then the boy comes out in both of us, and we take a walk in our boots through mud. (Not together; I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him face-to-face.)

Bama sold me a pair of his most well-used boots. They are 18″ black Wesco Harness Boots. They show a lot of character from all of his “Muddin’ Fun”. I received them in June, but had not had much of a chance to return them to their previous “enjoyment” until today. I went for a ride, stopped near a stream, and, well… got a little messy. See the pics that I took today at this link. It was fun! My internal “little boy” played for a bit.

Then I rode home, cleaned the boots, my bike, my clothes, and anything else upon which mud fell. I even scrubbed the kitchen while I was at it.

We all have times when we remember fun we had as kids, and every now and then as an adult, why not enjoy it? I sure did.

Life is short! Wear your boots! Enjoy and live life to its fullest!


As threatened in yesterday’s blog post, when my partner arrived at home yesterday, I arrested him. The charges? Being kind, gentle, sweet, and thoughtful. For giving me the very best birthday present I could ever want — being “biker-napped.” For being my soulmate and best friend, for caring, and most of all, for forgiving my faults and weaknesses. Heck, I’m still head over bootheels in love with my guy, 15 years and going strong.

So when he got out of his car, right there in the garage, I read him his rights and gave him no choice but to surrender. He willingly obliged. I had my way with him, and he with me, and we both laughed and had a heck of a lot of fun.

Now don’t get me wrong — the handcuffs didn’t come out. I don’t get into bondage scenes. But he called me, “Officer, Sir” throughout our playtime and kept asking me if my “baton” were registered with the state. These times of spontaneity don’t happen often, as much as perhaps they once did. But when he’s “up for it” (which he was!) and I’m relaxed and being playful, we sure can have a great time!

Then he was surprised with a wonderful home-cooked meal, with all of his favorites. A lasanga that I baked fresh, accompanied by a salad fresh from our garden with a dressing that I make and he enjoys. I even made some yeast-raised dinner rolls that take hours, but the time is well invested to see his enjoyment and smile. We finished it off with a home-made lemon meringue pie, which he loves. He made this all possible, with my chef’s kitchen and his care in supporting me as I built our house (and turned grey in the process.)

I love my man. I am so blessed.

Life is short! Be joyful, show those you love that you love ’em.

Uniform Redux

I blogged last week about uniforms, which are part of the leather fetish community. Many guys who enjoy leather also enjoy uniforms. I can say the same thing.

I decided today to break out the duty belt and show what it looks like on my CHP uniform. I realized all past pics on the CHP Uniform page of my website didn’t show a duty belt. So here it is again.

As much as I’ve said unkind things about stock Dehner Boots being made of cheap plastic and custom Dehner Boots being too expensive, I still really like the style of Dehners. There are many copy-cats, but none exactly the same. So for the new series of pictures, the Dehners came on. They look great. I just admire their appearance with a uniform.

I’ve kept the CHP uniform on most of the day, and am looking forward to “arresting” my partner when he gets home from work. His offense? Being way too good to me for my birthday, in arranging for me to be “biker-napped”, and also for being so forgiving. I would forget my head if it weren’t screwed on — and he knows it. He just adds reminders to our list and that helps.

Now, to think about the plan of “attack” te he…. or should I say, “grrrrrr!” Now, where did I put that handcuff key?