Peeper Teasers

Over the last few days as we have awakened, we are hearing a lovely song biding Springtime’s coming: the frequent and gentle peeping of the Spring Peeper.

We must have gazillions of these little guys in the stream that runs across the back of our property in our forest.

Saturday mornings are times when my partner and I like to open the window in our bedroom a little bit, and listen to the chorus. We snuggle close in each other’s arms, smile, and think joyful thoughts. They’re saying to us, “Spring is coming! Spring is coming! Peep Peep! Look at me! I am here to welcome Spring!”

Their song brings us joy and hope for winter to pass, Spring rains to come, our trees and plants to leaf and flower.

This biker can’t wait. Thanks, little guys, for the Spring tease.

Count Your Blessings

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” … a line from the Bible, but one that applies for several people I know right now.

For my eighth brother, AZ, as he mourns the death of his aunt.

For my buddy Bob, as he mourns the loss of his close friend and mentor.

For my neighbor, who mourns the sudden death of her son.

For my cousins, as they mourn the loss of their father.

Blessings, be they from a deity or any other source, are rich when received, and have value far beyond mere mortal measure.

I often end many of my blog posts by saying that I know that I am richly blessed, and I further state: “life is short…”.

You never really know when someone you love may no longer be a physical part of your life. I know that. I have experienced that. Both in long, lingering departures from life, as well as in suddenness.

I think all of these feelings were made much more apparent to me as I took a year of my life to care for my beloved Uncle Charlie in the winter of his life. He was old. He knew he was dying. He didn’t want to have his life prolonged artificially, because he knew that doing so would bring pain and anguish to those who loved him. He knew that he would die, sooner than later. He taught me to appreciate that death is a part of life, and that while alive, one should live it as fully as one can.

My partner and I spent a year enjoying Charlie’s “lasts.” His last live lobster boil, his last Maryland crab feast, his last dinner at a restaurant, his last pasta con sarde, his last bet on a horse race, his last rant about how horrible President “W” and his evil Deputy VP were, his last celebration of my having an article published on the front OpEd page of the Washington Post, his last visit with his doctor, our last long stroll around his community as I wheeled him along in his wheelchair, his last note to his beloved wife. I was there for his last breath on this Earth, and was the last person he saw.

Uncle Charlie taught me that there is dignity and honor in death. He taught me that I could be sad, but also be happy at the same time. And while I do miss him, I am happy beyond words that I could be with him to learn that lesson first-hand.

I count my blessings each and every day. I know how richly blessed I am. I have a job I love at an employer that is fair and well-respected. I have a caring and supportive partner who is my rock and my foundation. A loving, warm, huge and raucous family, who accept me as I am — just “little bother” me. Close, close friends, like my “eighth brother”, AZ, evil twin Clay, and those who I grew up with — Robert, Richard, Skip, Roberta, Laura, Mike… others. A community of neighbors, colleagues, collaborators, “elder buds,” activists, and on and on — all of whom compose the fabric of my life.

My fabric is woven of thick and durable fibers. These fibers are good people. There are times I wrap myself in that fabric, to smell the scents, to feel the warmth, to know I am loved. I am doing that now, as you read this.

I am, after all, a humble man. A man of “middle means.” I am no saint. I am not perfect. I still have a lot to learn.

But one thing I have learned, granted by the greatest gift that my Uncle could have given to me, is to know this one important thing: life is short. Love those you love — hard! Scream from the mountaintops your appreciation! Show your support. Cheer on your team. Do the little things that show you care.

Count your blessings. After all, life is short.

Feeling Like Ziggy

Ziggy is an age-old comic strip. The main character always seems to have his challenges with life. Usually for poor ol’ Zig, anything that can go wrong does go wrong. This strip is my partner’s very favorite, and we often laugh at the daily comic shown on a calendar we keep in our kitchen.

Today, I’m feeling much like Ziggy. With all great intentions of getting my day started extra early, I left the house a half-hour earlier than usual so I could drop off two tax returns that I had completed for some “elder buds” at their respective homes. They live in a nearby gated retirement community, and I have a pass. As I drove up to the gate, I held up my pass for the guard as usual, but he stopped me, and became overly officious. He asked to see my card, then my driver’s license, and gave me the third degree. “Where are you going?” among other questions. This poor rent-a-cop kid was bored, I guess. I answered his questions but was frustrated by the unnecessary delay.

After dropping off the tax returns, I drove to the Metro station where I usually board my train to get to work in the city. Some nitwit was stopped in the driving lane at the entrance to the parking garage. I kid you not: it looked like she was applying makeup while just sitting there. I gently tapped my horn, and she gave me a dirty look before giving her car some gas and moving forward. She entered the garage and parked, and I happened to park next to her. As I was walking toward the station entrance, she huffed and puffed and said, “you didn’t need to honk.” So I couldn’t resist, and asked, “just what kind of makeup emergency were you having that you couldn’t park first?” She glowered….and didn’t say anything else. She knew she was guilty as charged.

Then just as I got to the platform, the train pulled away. If Ms. Make-Up didn’t delay me, I would have made it. I hate it when I just barely miss a train, but that happens sometimes. Another should be along momentarily.

9 momentarilies later, another train finally pulled up.

We board the train, and I scan the newspaper. The daily free rag is so ultra-Republican. Its shrill negativity about our President and his actions gets to be so … boring … blathering … I dunno, awful. Too bad I don’t have a parakeet any more. That paper would be great to line the cage.

Then at one of the stations, the train operator announces that we all have to get off due to a train malfunction. Oh great, there we go again…. this happens all too often.

Everyone disembarks, and waits… and waits… and waits some more. Meanwhile, there are announcements “regretting the delay.”

Another train finally pulls up, we all board, and in a spot of luck, I even got a seat.

When I arrived at Union Station, I queued up to get off the train, only to be almost bowled over by commuter train passengers who had rushed off their trains from far-flung areas to board the Metro. Why they never let others off before trying to rush on…. Alas, life in the big city, where everything generally is “me, me, me.”

Fortunately, the rest of my morning “commute” as it were, was fine, though I did arrive to work about 15 minutes later than usual. And in my typical optimistic approach to life — making lemonade out of lemons — I beheld an unusual cloud formation as it was growing lighter. It really was pretty to see dawn breaking behind the U.S. Capitol building. I paused for a couple minutes to watch. Heck, my schedule was already “blown” and the display of God’s handiwork brightened my spirits a lot.

Some days are Ziggy days. Despite all best efforts, things go wrong. Oh well, such is life. My attitude though remains bright, and I’m singing, just for the heck of it (and also because no one else is here yet LOL!)

Wearing Leather Around Town

It’s interesting, I was preparing a blog post in my mind about two encounters last night when I read on Straight-Acting’s Blog (no longer on-line) that he was commenting on the same type of thing: wearing leather in public and what people may say or do. I have blogged about this before, but this bears repeating in a new context.

While he specifically mentioned me as being “a brave soul,” (thanks, man!), I really do not consider that wearing leather while going about my daily business is as much “brave” as it is in recognition of the fact that I really don’t care if other people say anything or have an opinion about the leather garments I choose to wear on my personal time. People are as much entitled to their opinions as I am entitled to wear leather in public. As long as my leather does not directly imply sex — such as wearing codpiece leather jeans, or a jock with chaps, for example — then wearing leather is considered something more like fashion that never goes out of style. And, as I have often said, leather garments are practical. They provide warmth, comfort, as well as style.

The encounters to which I referred last night was with two members of a club to which I belong. We met to plan out the season’s schedule for motorcycle rides that the club will offer to its members. One of the guys at my table asked me, “do you wear anything other than leather?” The tone of his voice implied some form of … I don’t know … perhaps one might say, “indignation.” Not wanting to respond defensively or get into an argument with this guy, I gave him a very bright and warm smile and said, “not if I don’t have to!” I was so positive about it, he stammered as if he did not know how to respond. I guess he wasn’t expecting that type of “peppy” reply. He then changed the subject.

During a break, another guy came up to me and said that he was “mad at me” because he is is a big and tall man, and has had trouble finding leather gear to wear for motorcycling that fits, provides flexibility, allows for ease-of-movement, is made of quality leather, and looks good. He made his comment lightheartedly, and not with anger. He said that he had found my website and reviewed the various leather gear and boots that I own. He was “mad at me” because my gear fits well and looks good. (Implying that if it looks good on a big guy like me, then he can find leather that will fit him well, too.)

He said all of this without sounding judgmental whatsoever, which is something that I listen for when talking about leather with straight bikers. I know I am fortunate that the straight bikers with whom I ride are easy-going and accepting of having an openly gay leather-clad and tall-booted guy in their midst. I know from slams on some public forums that few straight bikers are as open-minded.

My fellow club member said that he had tried to order a leather jacket from a company whose products are made in Thailand, but was disappointed with the product when he got it. He described to me what process he went through in deciding where to order leather gear over the internet and the challenges he has encountered.

I explained that well-fitting leather gear for motorcycling is related to two main issues:

1) Fit. One size does not fit all! Sizes on the internet of jackets and pants are widely variable. The sizes of leather garments does not correlate with the size of a pair of blue jeans or a shirt. These are estimates, but not something to be used to choose leather gear purchased over the ‘net. For us big and tall guys, the only way to go is to be measured properly and have gear crafted custom to fit. Having done that, as well as purchased gear estimated to be my size, I know first-hand that “going custom” is not that much more expensive. After all, you’re buying something that will last a lifetime, so the investment is worth it.

2) Quality. As in quality of the hide used to make the garment. If the leather is made in a country where the skins are subjected to harsh chemicals in the tanning process and have scratches, abrasions, or holes from insect bites (after all, leather comes from a once-living animal), then the gear made from it will look bad. And, regretfully, there is a correlation between leather garment manufacturers who choose to use low-quality hides and the quality of the resulting product during production. Cheap threads, single-stitching, thin hides that stretch: all of these factors go together.

Ultimately, I explained, “you get what you pay for.” If you buy cheap, expect poor quality. I don’t like to slam any earnest business person in another country, but it is rather obvious from seeing leather garments made in Thailand, India, and Pakistan that the stuff is inexpensive because inferior quality leather is used in the first place, along with less attention to quality production methods when the gear is cut and assembled.

I explain all of this in my Complete Guide to Leather Gear on my website.

While I do not consider myself courageous to wear my leather investment in public, I recognize that few choose to do that for various reasons. They have concerns about what others may say or do, or how they will respond if asked or challenged, such as Straight-Acting was queried by the London Tube Police.

I appreciate the freedoms that I enjoy in the United States, where self-expression is considered a birthright. There are many pressures to conform to society’s norms, whatever those norms may be. When you realize that these norms are conceived by a certain group of people — straight people who often have very narrow viewpoints — and then choose to ignore the norms because they are baseless conformations, it is very liberating. That truly is how I feel.

Why let others’ stereotypes and self-conceived perceptions cause you to act, dress, or behave in certain ways? If you are not hurting anyone, then as they say in New York, “fuggetaboutit”… be confident, stand tall, choose your leather wisely, and wear it where you like within the limits of respect for others and the environment where you are. For example, the only leather I wear to work are boots and occasionally a leather blazer, jacket, or vest. But I do not wear leather shirts or jeans to work. It’s not appropriate there. However, on my own time, out and about in my community at meetings and events, or even at the grocery store, there I am in leather… and (of course), boots!

Life is short: wear your boots and leather!

Back Home, Back To Life

The world still goes ’round, so while I had a great, but short, trip to Arizona, I am now safely back home and it’s time to return to my regular routine, which is extremely busy!

I was happy to return to the arms of my man. I spent a couple hours last night showing him the photos that I took and to recount the stories of my adventures. He listened with rapt attention, then just wrapped his arms around me and snuggled for a while. That was sweet. A great culmination to a long day of travel. What was best is that others still thought I was away, and thus it was quiet.

Lots of meetings, phone calls and emails to return today, so no time to blog!

Have a great day!

Thanks to My Best Friend

I am the most blessed man in the world. I was so happy to have taken an extended weekend to visit my best friend, “AZ”, in his home state of Arizona. I have very fond memories of a great trip. (Check out the photo gallery on my website.)

AZ is so thoughtful, kind and considerate. He has a legend on his car’s license plate that reads, “Live the Golden Rule.” That is so especially fitting for this man, who does that by all of his actions.

I was able to have a glimpse into his life and meet some of his friends over the last several days. He has a wide circle of people who adore him — and also, more importantly, who respect him. He is funny, and people enjoy his witty humor. He is smart, and people look to him for guidance and advice. He is gentle, so those who need a shoulder or helping hand certainly have one. He is knowledgeable about physical training, so he can help you with your sacroiliac. He has a heart of gold, and a passion for carrying out God’s good deeds each and every day, and those in his Church support him in doing that.

I have a wide circle of my own. I care for them and they care for me. My Number One remains my loving partner, who is my rock and my foundation. I wish he would have been able to come with me on this trip, but he is unable to travel by air. We talked alot about this trip for months before I left home. I keep no secrets from my man. He trusts in knowing that I am a man of my word and commitment, so going off to Arizona to rent a Harley and spend several days with AZ wasn’t a problem with him, though I know he misses me as I miss him.

I think because both AZ and I lead lives in caring for others, and being cared for by our respective wide circles, is why we have bonded so tightly. Our hearts have much in common — we share mutual respect and concern for the well-being of others. We see something that needs to be done, and we do it. We see someone who needs help, and we help. We see a wayward grocery cart abandoned in the handicapped parking space, and we roll it back to the store. Whatever we do, we seem to act and behave the same way. (Except for our approach to cell phones, but that’s a different story.)

If I have one regret about this trip, it’s that the third member of our booted brotherhood, Clay, couldn’t join us. He was planning on being with us, but unfortunately he couldn’t make it. We hope some time in the future we will all be together. Clay, if you’re reading this, please know that AZ and I understand, and while we missed you, we talked about you a lot! (LOL!) We always hold you close in our hearts. It was great talking to you last night.

Mere words are insufficient to express my gratitude for AZ’s love and friendship; for being such a wonderful host during my visit; for his passion, zeal, and zest for life; for his smile; and most of all, for being my eighth brother. (If Mom had another son, he would be AZ!)

Life is short: count your blessings and show those you love that you love them!

Best Friends Ride to Sedona

Today my best friend and brother-in-heart, AZ, and I rode 330 miles round trip from Phoenix to Sedona, Arizona. Man, what a wonderful day! The scenery along the road was spectacular (once we got out of the city and the traffic.) The highway itself was smooth as silk. The skies were clear and riding through the mountainous areas brought new wonders of the landscape along each mile of the highway. I was in a continuous state of awe and amazement.

It was great having AZ right there with me as my passenger on this ride. As we were going further and further and higher and higher in elevation, the temperature dropped somewhat. We rounded a curve and saw snow-capped mountains in front of us. We were riding for such a long time that I shouted back to AZ at least twice, “are you sure we’re not riding up to see Clay in Calgary?” AZ would laugh and say, “not yet, we haven’t even crossed out of Maricopa County, much less Arizona!”

We met a friend of AZ’s who lives in Sedona and had lunch. The conversation was interesting, and we all regretted that we had to leave so soon. But it was another three hour drive to get back and return the Harley to the dealership from which I rented it before it closed.

I will cherish the memories of this day, and riding with my brother-in-heart, AZ. How blessed am I to share his friendship and have the opportunity to spend quality time with him and in sharing my passion of motorcycling with him.

My Brother’s Wingman

I rode today with my brother “O” through some fascinating desert highways and byways outside of Phoenix. Man, it was great riding with my brother. He knew just where to go and the less traveled roads to take. I loved riding wing, that is behind and to the right, following my brother for our 100 mile trek through the desert. I haven’t ridden with him ever before. So today’s ride was extra special to the both of us.

The skies were clear and sunny. The day started out quite cool (about 45°F, 7°C), so I wore my leather riding pants tucked into tall Dehner patrol boots, and my warm motocross jacket. As the day grew warmer, I shed the jacket for a vest. It got up to 78°F (25.5°C).

After riding for a while, we returned to meet my brother’s wife for lunch, and catch up on family stuff.

After lunch, I visited with a boot buddy, Wearinboots. We hung out in Scottsdale and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon strolling, booted, among the kitchy stores and galleries. What a great day… more later! Check back as my brother-in-heart, “AZ”, and I are going for a long ride tomorrow.

Out Riding

I am finally going to visit my brothers in Arizona. I leave today and will be back on Monday. I may (or may not) be blogging while gone. Meanwhile, look for this Booted Harleydude in the Phoenix area this weekend with his booted brothers!

“O” will be on his Buell, and I will be on a rented Harley Ultra on Friday. “AZ” will be my passenger on Saturday. Then I have to return the bike. Rental Harleys aren’t cheap, even for members of the group whose name I can’t say on this blog, but whose members qualify for a discount because they own a Harley.

We will be the ones wearing helmets, despite the fact that there is not a mandatory helmet law in that state. We do not intend to become organ donors by riding without a helmet.

Have fun — see ‘ya while I rumble rumble among the cacti!


When you a part of a very large family, you expect, regretfully, that death will visit. Of my father’s huge family, he has two sisters and a sister-in-law who remain alive out of 41 (including spouses of siblings). I’ve been to a lot of wakes and funerals of aunts and uncles over the years…. The aunt I refer to on this blog, who I care for, is the last sister-in-law in that line of my father’s family. I cared for her husband, my favorite Uncle Charlie, through the winter of his life until his death. He and I were very close.

My cousin called to tell me that another uncle, the husband of one of my father’s sisters, died after a long illness on Sunday.

My uncle’s death is sad, but was not unexpected. I’m just wondering where my grief is? I wasn’t all that close to him, but wasn’t estranged. We just did not see much of each other. My uncle had his hands full when I was growing up. Read on.

I’m sorry my uncle died, and feel badly for his family. He and his wife had four kids. One of their children, a daughter, died about 15 years ago at an early age. His two youngest children still live at home. Both have severe developmental disabilities, and act and operate at a significantly reduced mental capacity. The situation is so sad. Their parents knew that they had opposite Rh factors and that children, especially after the first or second, were very much at risk for being born with developmental disabilities.

But “La Famiglia” and the Catholic Church, … I won’t say more.

My aunt, the wife of my uncle who died, remains hospitalized for her own major, chronic health issues, and may die soon. She is not able to take care of herself, nor her children. The whole situation is very sad.

I don’t know what will happen to my aunt and uncle’s developmentally disabled children (adults in their 50s now). The one remaining “normal” daughter doesn’t want to care for them. Who will?

The family is working on it. Plans are being made, but I’m not sure quite what they are. I don’t communicate as often with the ultra-Catholic branch of the family tree. They sorta shunned me since I live in sin — being gay, having a partner, and all that.

Anyway, life moves on. The family prevails. We’ll hang together, albeit uncomfortably. Such is life in a huge family — and you thought my direct family was large. My Dad’s was larger. Well, regretfully, it is time to update the family tree, of which I am the keeper.

Life is short: show those you love that you love them, each and every day.