Recovery "As Tolerated"

My orthopedic specialist told me on April 16 at my last visit with him about my broken leg that I could resume my usual activities “as tolerated.” We had a bit of an argument over wearing boots vs. sneakers, but otherwise, I took his information as a release from imprisonment.

… little did I know what he really meant …

I have to admit that I was in denial. Complete and utter denial. I exercised like crazy, went to physical therapy, got my boots back on my feet, went back to work, my schedule got busy, and I even went for a ride on my Harley.

Meanwhile, the ankle swelling and pain persists. I limp sometimes, even though I don’t think I should. I can walk up stairs normally, but still have to go down stairs one-at-a-time. I can wear most of my motorcycle boots (except police patrol boots with tighter insteps like Dehners), but I can’t wear most of my cowboy boots (still way too tight in the instep.) I still get very very tired at the end of the day, much more so than usual. And that’s completely bewildering to me. I’m eating normally, exercising, and sleeping my regular eight hours. I’m doing everything right, yet I am exhausted every evening.

… the doc said to expect this. I didn’t (want to) believe him …

So you’re not seeing me blog much about actually riding my Harley for a reason. I am admitting to myself that I am just not ready. Yet. I’m getting there, but the recovery is much, much, much slower than I had hoped, wanted, or have found it to be.

Life is short: admit when you’re wrong.

Handling a Motorcycle

This is my third installment on motorcycle-related info. Previous posts on The Fit of a Motorcycle and Buying a Motorcycle have been viewed a lot. Doubled my readership in the last few days.

I have been riding motorcycles now for over 30 years. I started out on a Kawasaki 440, which was a great starter bike. It was peppy and fun, and even handled cruising on the highway, though I could tell that it better suited to slower speeds on the back roads. It was a cool little bike — big enough to get me places, but small enough for me to handle. I could sit on it and walk it to fit in a parking spot, or stand and push it on those occasions when I forgot and parked on a downhill incline. I even dropped it once — it slid out from under me on wet leaves — and I was able to right it by myself, tuck my tail between my legs, and ride it home.

Unfortunately, that bike’s engine developed problems pretty quickly, and it was getting more and more expensive to have repairs done. I sold that bike after two years and replaced it with a Kawasaki 750 “LTD”. That also was a cool bike, with a bigger engine that handled highway speeds better. It was smooth and comfortable. The fit was great. However, as it had a bigger engine, it also was heavier. I really strained the only time I forgot and parked it on a downhill incline to get it out of that space. I had to have a friend help me roll it up a ramp when I had it towed when I got a flat. That additional 100 pounds made a huge difference in how I was able to handle it.

However, a heavier bike rode more smoothly on the highway. I took the 440 once over a huge suspension bridge, and thought I would be blown off. I was scared witless. I rode the 750 over that same bridge, and the ride wasn’t as scary. Probably because, by then, I had been riding a lot more, had taken more training, and was more secure in my capabilities.

A few years later, I got tired of repairing the 750LTD, and bought a Kawasaki 750 Vulcan. I had it in 1993 when I met my partner. We rode on it two-up, and it handled the two of us rather well, though a bit cramped. It was nice when we rode together, because he could help me maneuver the bike if I needed help.

My partner convinced me to fulfill my dream — buying a Harley. I ordered a gorgeous new Dyna Low Rider in October, 1993, and it was delivered in February, ’94. I learned that Harley cruisers and touring bikes all had the same size engine — in that year, it was 80ci (1310cc). That was almost double the engine displacement — and weight — of my previous bike. And I noticed it right away. When I sat on the bike, I could barely move it. It took a lot of strain, stress, and struggle to get the bike parked in a tight spot. I have to admit, at first, I was daunted, intimidated, and frightened. I became more distressed when I dropped it one week after I bought it, because it just wanted to go somewhere and I couldn’t control it. Fortunately, when I dropped my Harley, the only thing that was damaged was my ego.

I was determined to figure out how to handle the thing. Again, while cruising, the bike handled fine. I felt very comfortable, secure, and confident while riding it. But when it was stopped, and I had to creep up at a light to fill a gap or move it into a parking spot or even into the space for it in the back of my garage, I had a lot of trouble. I couldn’t handle the weight. I was never a weight-lifter, and my inexperience was showing.

You see — where this is going — when you are riding a bigger bike, there’s no problem. Big bikes handle the road very well. With a low center of gravity, big bikes cruise smoothly and efficiently over the open road. It’s when they’re stopped that one has problems.

I went back to my motorcycle safety instructor, and I also spoke with some other, more experienced, bikers whom I trusted. The advice they gave to me are skills that I still practice today on my Road King:

1. Never park facing down hill. (no brainer!) If you have to park on a hill, move in perpendicular and then turn so the back of the bike rolls down hill. Then you can use the power of the engine to get out whilst moving foward.

2. Get more comfortable man-handling (lugging) the bike. Move it to a level, debris-free solid surface. Stand up and straddle the seat. Grab the bars. Walk the bike. Move it forward, move it backward. Move it, move it, move it. It’s may seem odd, but this procedure really works. You become more comfortable in knowing how hard to push, where to push, how to stand for better leverage, and what the drop-angle is (and stop before you reach that angle.)

3. Pick a corner of a parking lot, and practice parking the bike backwards in that place. Drive up to it facing forward, but then turn perpendicular. Kill the engine. Put the bike in neutral. Walk the bike back and forth so that its rear tire is facing the back of the space, and the bike is parallel to the space (or curb.) What you’re doing is practicing how to park it on a downhill incline. Practice in a level area first, then practice on a hill. The more you practice this handling technique on your own, the better you will be at it when you’re with a group and don’t want to be embarrassed because it’s evident that you can’t park your bike.

4. Practice stopping the bike and putting the sidestand down BEFORE standing up and dismounting. This may sound silly, but the more you practice this technique, the more it will become ingrained and will be something you “just do”. Why do this practice? Because, unfortunately, this example is common: you arrive at your favourite biker hang-out and see a bunch of friends. You enthusiastically drive up, cooly swing your leg over the seat to dismount the bike, and walk with the biker swagger toward your buddies … and hear a crash. You look behind you and see your bike on the ground and your friends in hysterics. What happened? You forgot to put the sidestand down. OMG, happens all the time. I see it two or three times each year.

5. Learn how to pick up your bike if it falls. Inevitably, this happens. The bike tips over and you can’t stop it, so you give it a controlled lay-down. Sometimes the bike slips on ice or gravel. Whatever… bikes fall over. It is not a macho-Harley “requirement” that you can’t have help lifting it up. In fact, even The Motor Company says that you should get help lifting a bike that has fallen over. I don’t know what it is about Harley-rider-thick skulls that insist that if a guy drops his bike, then anyone else standing around has to stand there laughing with arms crossed while the guy struggles to pick up his bike. Help him, and accept help! If, and only IF, you are all alone, then follow these instructions for Lifting a Heavyweight Motorcycle.

In summary, as bikes get bigger but their owners do not gain strength proportionate to the increase in a new bike’s weight, then you need to learn and adapt new skills in handling the bike. Recognize that the weight of a bike, especially something like a big V-Twin, can be daunting. It can cause strange and scary thoughts to mess with your head. It can even cause you to re-think your decision to go for a ride, or even to own the bike. Take time to practice the techniques described above. They really will help.

Life is short: go ride!

Blogger Buddy’s Birthday

Here I am with my buddy, Kevin, who traveled to my hometown (actually, my County Seat), to do some research for his doctoral dissertation. Kevin has frequently commented on this blog and has provided me lots of useful information that has inspired me to develop material for this blog. I have frequently quoted him. Man, he’s so incredibly gifted with the way he thinks and expresses himself.

Kevin is a very insightful, intelligent, and fun guy. He’s a Bootman, too. He had on a pair of really cool black ostrich leg cowboy boots last night when we met at a restaurant for dinner. I wore my Champion Attitude black ostrich – burgundy biker cowboy boots, which are about the only boots in my cowboy stable that I can wear at the moment.

What a delight it was to meet Kevin. I truly enjoyed meeting someone with whom I had been communicating via email for several years. We enjoyed a wonderful conversation about a variety of issues from current events to boots to his studies and things going on in our lives.

It also happened to be Kevin’s birthday! Woo-hoo! He didn’t tell me it was his birthday, but I “have my ways of finding out” (giggle). It was truly my pleasure to treat him to dinner and enjoy his company.

Thanks, buddy, for the warmth of your friendship, for your kind and insightful commentary, and for your smiles.

Life is short: enjoy your friends!

Posted in joy

The Fit of a Motorcycle

I wrote a blog post yesterday where I shared some of my experience and recommendations on buying a motorcycle. I commented in that post how incredibly important the “fit” of a motorcycle is to the rider. How well the bike fits you determines whether you feel comfortable on it. I can tell you from my own experience: if you’re not comfortable on your ride, you will find excuses not to ride it, which defeats the purpose, eh? I mean, why own a big hunk of metal that collects dust in the garage or rusts in the drive?

That’s exactly what happens to a lot of bikes, unfortunately. The buyers get excited and go buy a motorcycle. New or used — it really doesn’t matter. They might buy some nifty new accessories, saddle bags, or chrome and dress it up.

They get on it and ride it to show their friends. Hey, cool bike! Cool you!

But then they ride it some more, and find that after a while… um… the back is achy. Wrists are sore. Rump hurts. Elbows, knees, or shoulders feel tight, cramped, or are just plain ol’ painful.

A rider may not develop all of these symptoms, nor experience them all of the time. Perhaps the rider strained a muscle playing ball the other day and the soreness is made worse by riding the bike. It will go away… sooner or later.

Face it, though, none of us are getting any younger. Demographics of the “average” motorcycle rider are showing that bikers are an older lot — like by decades — than they averaged back in the ’50s.

We may find that sitting on a motorcycle seat that has a very thin amount of padding between the butt and the bike’s frame becomes mighty uncomfortable. We may find that sitting in a position that requires us to reach forward or hunch over causes pressure in the lower back, or on our joints.

The position in how we are seated on a motorcycle is “the fit.” The more comfortable the fit of a bike is for you, the more likely your body won’t be complaining after a long ride. Conversely, if the bike doesn’t fit you well and your body starts nagging you at the end of the ride, then you will be more likely to choose not to ride it as often. I’m not saying that you will decide all of a sudden to stop riding your bike ever again. But you will start finding excuses not to ride… other things to do… other priorities. Before you know it, you have a very expensive and heavy paperweight out in the garage.

This happened to me when I bought my Harley Road King in 2008. Before that, I rode a Harley Dyna Low Rider. The LR had a low seat height, yet the sweep of the handlebars and the position of the foot-operated controls moved me into a comfortable seating position. My arms were slightly bent, my back was straight, my feet were able to reach the controls with deliberate by minor movement. It was perfect.

The Road King fit okay, or at least I thought. I could operate the controls, and I didn’t feel as if I were stretching. However, I went on a few rides and after about the first 50 miles, my back was achy. My shoulders, too. I would get home after a day ride and go soak in a hot tub. Then I found myself saying, “oh, I have to clean the gutters or treat the deck or clean out the garage,” and I found myself making excuses not to ride. Heck! After spending all that money on a new bike and there I am — not riding it!

I also have to say that some of my reluctance to ride (or not) had to do with feeling comfortable handling the bike. That’s fodder for a future blog post.

Meanwhile, I thought that I had to do something to fix this situation. Since my body wasn’t going to get younger or less achy, I spoke with other guys my age (and older), and asked them what they did. Each one of them told me that they did something to adjust the bike’s fit for their bodies.

Motorcycles come pretty much “one-size-fits-all” yet not all riders are a standard 6′, 185 pounds. Some of us are shorter, some are taller, some are lighter and some are heavier. Some are men, but there are a lot of women riders, too. Some have full range of motion of all joints, and some do not if past injuries or surgeries affect it.

I went back to my dealer and spoke with the parts manager. I asked him to look at how I was positioned on the bike. It was pretty clear when he looked at my seating position what the source of my ongoing discomfort was. The riding position required me to lean just a little more forward to reach the controls on the handlebars. Then that caused me to put pressure on my lower back, which caused both my back and butt to hurt.

He also looked at how I operated the foot controls, and found that I could reach all of them comfortably, safely, and well. He didn’t recommend changing anything down there (which was do-able if necessary.)

He recommended that I get a different set of handlebars so it would adjust my seating position to a more upright position, and let me bend my elbows a little bit. The new bars weren’t expensive (though labor to install them and make the fly-by-wire throttle work with them was). However, after having the bars replaced, it made a world of difference to me and to my ride.

There are other things that can be adjusted either by a motorcycle owner or a professional, besides the rise and pull-back of handlebars. The foot controls can be adjusted, shortened, or put on risers. The overall height of most street bikes can be lowered (or raised.) Seats can be replaced for both comfort as well as where it places you relative to the bike’s frame and controls. Shock absorbers can be adjusted as well to make slight changes in the rider’s position (mostly height) on a bike.

Next time you’re out riding and you are feeling that you’re getting sore and it’s time to head back, ask yourself if you are returning because it’s been a long day and you’re just tired, or if you are returning because the bike isn’t feeling comfortable. Next time you asked yourself, “clean the garage or take a ride” and the choice is to clean and not ride — then absolutely go get the fit of the bike adjusted!

The fit of your ride determines the happiness of the biker, as well as her or his comfort. Enjoy them all.

Life is short: go ride!

Buying a Motorcycle

From time to time, friends have asked me for advice about buying a motorcycle. They’re interested, but are bewildered with so much information on the internet and not knowing whom to trust or what is accurate or potentially misleading.

I am glad they asked. Having “been there, done that,” perhaps I can assist. I am not an expert, but having owned and ridden motorcycles for over 30 years, I am experienced.

First of all, I strongly recommend taking the Basic RiderCourse offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (provided you are in the U.S. If you are in another country, find a beginner or basic motorcycle rider’s course equivalent). Such a course is available usually through a state’s motor vehicle administration, many community colleges, and some private groups. Riders are provided a small bike on which to take the range practice and tests. Upon completion of the course with a passing grade, riders usually qualify to receive a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s permit.

Then consider buying a previously owned motorcycle. Sure, you can buy a brand new bike, but it is likely that you will ride this bike for two or three years, then want to get a bigger bike. A used bike in the 500cc – 750cc range, like a Honda Shadow or a Kawasaki Vulcan fits the bill for a good starter bike. A new bike is worth less than half of what you pay for it the minute you drive it off the dealer’s lot. A used bike saves money, and is a better value for starting out.

I do not recommend buying a “crotch rocket” or sport bike for your first bike. These styles of motorcycles require more skill and experience to ride than a simple cruiser. Also, sport bikes can be very uncomfortable by requiring the rider to be seated on it in a forward-leaning position. For similar reasons, I do not recommend a touring class motorcycle for a first bike, either. A Harley Road King or a Honda Gold Wing require a lot of experience to handle them while moving slowly or stopped, and can be intimidating to a new rider due to their size and physical requirements to move them.

To find listings of used bikes, I recommend using, if it is available for your area. It’s free, and there are usually a lot of listings of mid-range bikes for sale. While you will see lots of Harleys for sale, I really recommend a bike with an engine displacement no higher than 750cc for a starter bike. There aren’t any Harleys made with an engine of that size. Remember: the bigger the engine, the heavier the machine, making it harder to handle. If you are unaccustomed to handling a motorcycle, you want to get one that you can ride and that you can handle maneuvering into parking spaces and while it is stationary. Big V-twins, like a Harley, tend to want to fall over and go places you don’t want them to go, so start small(er) first. You will be happy that you did.

eBay Motors also lists used motorcycles, but often those bikes are far away and there’s no way you could physically inspect it or test ride it. I never recommend buying a bike sight unseen, even from your favorite Uncle Biker Mike. Look at it, ride it, test it: that’s the only way to buy a used bike.

When you find a bike that fits your price range and size, get a biker buddy to go with you and check it out. Here is a little known but very important reminder: wear the gear that you plan to wear on the bike when you go to check it out and test ride it. That is, wear your leathers and boots, as well as bring your own helmet. You want to feel how your gear that you intend to use while riding fits with you and that bike. Also, simply, you will be ready for the test ride since you will be properly geared.

Don’t even think about showing up to check out a motorcycle while wearing shorts and sneakers. Also, even if your state does not require a helmet, bring one anyway and wear it while test riding the bike for your safety. Also, a seller shouldn’t accept the responsibility for allowing someone to ride his bike without a helmet, because if the rider crashed and got injured, the bike’s owner would have a measure of responsibility.

Ask the owner about how the bike has been maintained: how frequently has the oil been changed? Brake fluid? Transmission fluid? Belts? Has the bike ever gone down or been involved in a crash? Check it over for tell-tale signs of damage or repairs from a crash. If you see such evidence, be careful because obvious damage may be indicative of more serious problems.

Get on the ground and look under the bike for leaks. Look under the engine and especially under the place where the oil filter is, as well as the transmission. Both oil and transmission fluids are prone to leaking, so check under the bike as well as on the engine itself for signs of leaks, drips, or even dried fluids that leaked at one time or another.

Ask how the bike’s electrical system has worked. Does it always start on the first push of the starter switch? Do all the lights and turn signals work? If your state requires an inspection, has the bike recently been inspected and may you see the inspection certificate? If the owner can produce such documentation, then it is evident that s/he is above-board and honest.

Bring a tire pressure gauge with you. Check the tire pressure. Ask the owner to show you the label on the bike, or the bike’s owners manual, or the label on the tires so you know what the proper tire pressure should be. It is quite common that the pressure in motorcycle tires is a little low, as tire pressure is the most frequently overlooked regular maintenance requirement. Before test riding, try to get the tire pressure to where it needs to be if it isn’t.

Also, while looking at the tires, check for signs of unusual wear. Is there wear on one side of the tire more than the other? That could be a sign of riding on improperly inflated tires for a long time. See if there are any large rocks embedded in the treads. Ask if either tire has gotten a leak or hole in it, and how it was repaired (or if it were replaced.) Also, ask when the tires were last replaced. Look to see if quality tires made by a reputable company are on the both the front and rear.

While looking at the tires, examine the rims. See if there are unusual dents in the rim as it meets the tire. If the wheel uses spokes, look to see if the spokes are all straight, undamaged, and none are missing. Damage to rims or spokes could be an indication of the bike having been involved in a crash, or the tire having been damaged such as by striking a curb.

Sit on the bike and feel how it fits you. Can you reach the controls on both of the handlebars without stretching (or cramping?) Can you reach the rear brake peddle and the gear shifter without stretching or cramping? (Ask yourself: is your gear getting in your way? Too tight? Boots too tall? You really don’t know how leather gear works with a motorcycle until you actually try to ride one with your gear on.)

The fit of the bike to you — your body and your height — is incredibly important. If it doesn’t fit well, then you’re not going to ride it. Don’t let the owner tell you about after-market products that can adjust the fit of the bike for you, such as a new seat or shocks. Listen, if the bike is already two to five years old, you’re not going to keep it for more than another few years anyway, so investing a lot more money to adjust the fit isn’t a good investment.

While sitting on the bike, look down the fork. Is it straight? A bike that has been down may have a twisted or damaged fork, which can be costly to repair. A fork that isn’t straight will cause the bike to be off center and not ride correctly, particularly at highway speeds.

Check the mileage. Ask how the bike has been ridden. A bike ridden for many short trips has incurred a lot more engine wear than a bike ridden for fewer longer trips. Bikes are made to be ridden, but frequent stops and starts are hard on an engine, and cause it to wear much quicker than a bike that has been ridden for longer trips. The total number of miles is not quite as important as the total number of trips — especially short trips. So ask about that. If the owner is factual about how the bike has been ridden, then you’re building confidence in him as a seller. If he isn’t giving you detailed information, than he may have something to hide.

Ask to see mechanical maintenance records, and if the state requires it, annual inspection certificates. If the bike has been serviced regularly and usually at the same location, that’s another good sign. Sure, an owner may change his own fluids (oil, brake, transmission), but repairs beyond that, such as belts, cables, electrical, etc., should be done by a professional, and there should be records to validate that.

Ask about the brakes and how recently they were serviced. Usually brakes require servicing a bit more frequently than other parts nowadays. (During a test ride, listen for squeaks or squeals. Try both the front and rear brakes separately and listen for rubbing or unusual noises.)

Ask about the battery. Most motorcycle batteries last just two or three years. Ask how old the battery is and when it was last replaced.

Ask how the bike has been stored for the winter. If it were stored in a garage or heated storage facility, that’s good. Even better if a trickle charger were kept on the bike’s battery during prolonged periods of non-use. If the bike were kept under a cover out in a parking lot, then that’s not so good. Bikes kept out-of-doors while not being ridden for months can develop some serious problems that you can’t see, such as condensation inside the gas tank causing it to rust from the inside out. Or gumming of the fuel lines, or a host of other maladies. I would shy away from a bike that was stored out-of-doors for long period.

Prepare for a test ride. If the owner wants a deposit, offer to let him hold your car keys instead (but you keep the registration in your possession). Look, if you want your car back, you’re going to return the bike. If he wants money just for a test ride, then back off. Something’s wrong.

You may choose to meet for a test ride at a parking lot. That’s a good idea, because you can have room to practice turns, stops, starts, and the braking. Do a couple emergency stops, and make sure the bike remains true and straight, and doesn’t skid. (If, as a new rider, you are uncomfortable doing that, have your buddy do that for you while you watch.)

If you liked the answers to the questions that you asked and if the test ride went well, then you’re about ready to make a purchase. Ask to see the bike’s title. Only consider buying a bike that has a “clean” title. Never, ever, accept a bike’s title that has anyone else’s name on it than the person you are dealing with. And never do a title transfer without indicating the real name of the owner and the buyer, their addresses, and the actual mileage. Don’t allow the mileage to be under what’s true. There are various reasons why a seller or buyer would want to leave the mileage off of a title during transfer, but that is never a good idea. Doing so can catch up with you when you want to sell the bike when you’re done with it, and put you in a position of claiming more mileage on it than you put on it, thus lowering its value and any return you may get on it in a future sale. (In many states, stating inaccurate actual mileage on a title during transfer is illegal.)

It is a very good idea to use a bill of sale or contract to conduct the sale. If the owner can’t produce one, be prepared and have one ready. You can find a sample motorcycle bill of sale on the Internet just by searching “motorcycle bill of sale.” Download it and adapt it for your needs.

Hope this helps. Get out and ride!

P.S.: Only after writing the information above did I find a more thorough Used Motorcycle Buying Guide by Adam Glass. None of the content in what I wrote above was taken from Adam’s copyrighted work, though there are a lot of similar ideas and concepts (but Adam’s is more comprehensive as he has been working on it for a number of years.)

17 Years With The Man of My Heart

Today marks our 17 year anniversary. Yep, 17 years ago, I met the man who fundamentally and profoundly changed — and improved — my life.

I wrote a rather sappy but sincere blog post about him titled Bootprints of Our Journey on March 31. I decided to post it then rather than wait until now. It gives a rather strong description of just what I think about my better half, and would serve as an appropriate anniversary tribute. My brother’s blog post yesterday was much appreciated by both of us (thanks, J!)

I debated about writing another long, sappy blog post, but decided against it. Not because anything is wrong or has changed. I sense that visitors to this blog know darned well that I am committed to my partner, and that I love him with all of my heart, and every fibre of my being. Another long sappy post spilling out my inner-most feelings gets rather boring for readers. I mean, it is my partner and I who share these feelings. We know it, that’s enough. But if you wish, you can read my previous anniversary tributes for 2008, here and for 2009, here.

So, just what DO you say after 17 years of a strong partnership? “I love you” seems inadequate. “Bend over” strains the limits of the G-rated nature of this blog (giggle.) “What’s on TV?” is probably more like it.

I think what has led us this far is mutual trust, respect, and feeling secure and appreciated. We ensure our finances are sound, and we owe no debt. We take care of each other and our home, and those in our lives whom we love. We have worked hard to earn what we have, and have worked equally hard to earn each others’ commitment in the true sense of what a partnership — for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish — truly means. Yeah, we’re as equivalent as being married. It’s a nice feeling.

I will spend the day with my beloved better half. We will probably do what he considered to be fun: work around the house. But I will also take him out to dinner. We rarely go out, but we’ll make an exception. I will dress in my leather finest, and he will dress comfortably (it’s a casual restaurant). We will raise a glass (of Coke) and give a toast to our partnership and another year since that memorable moment when I met the man who has become my heart, my soul, … my “better half.”

Happy anniversary, my love. I LYAWM!

Life is short: celebrate!

Family Well Wishes

Guest blog post by BHD’s twin brother, J

I asked to write today’s post on this blog since I wanted to wish my brother and his partner a very happy anniversary, and be the first one to do it. Their actual anniversary is tomorrow. I’m sure my brother will post something about it.

My brother and his partner will be celebrating 17 years of being together. I most sincerely regret that they can’t think back to a wedding like my wife and I do, and sit and review photos in an album like we do. As gay men, getting married is not permitted where they live — yet — so they do what most gay men do, and celebrate their anniversary as the day they met, rather than the day they had a formal civil ceremony where the state recognizes their relationship.

It’s sad for me that my brother and his partner don’t have the same rights and recognition that my wife and I have — just because he loves and is committed to a man and I love and am committed to a woman. It’s just blatantly unfair. I know my brother is among those who are “working on it.” But he also works hard on a number of issues that pertain to the health, well-being, and safety of the community. Especially of his beloved seniors for whom he cares.

All of us in the family embrace our brother and his partner as our own. We love them. We hold them closely in our hearts. We cherish their relationship and commitment, and stand by to assist in any way we can. That is what family is for, and what our parents taught us and would expect. But it’s more than that: we do it because we want to.

Happy anniversary, brother & [*] (Gosh, I wish you let me use your names on your own damn blog, bro’!)

May you share joy, peace, and contentment for many more years to come.

Warm hugs always,

Your whole fam-damily!

Boots and Ankles

Last December, well before I broke my leg, I ordered a cool pair of Nocona cowboy boots. They have a dark blue full quill ostrich foot, and black shafts with blue stitching. Unfortunately, the boots were backordered. I finally received them on Wednesday of this week. (I guess Nocona had to wait to have sufficient orders to set up the line to make this style and color of boots again.)

However, as delighted as I am to receive these new boots, I can’t pull the right boot on my leg. My darned ankle is still swollen and the doc says that I will continue to experience swelling of the ankle for up to a full year! Arrggghhh!

I am able to wear more of the boots in my collection, but I can’t wear cowboy boots yet. Biker boots — particularly engineer boots — fit fine. I am learning that cowboy boots have a tighter fit where the instep meets the shaft, right at the ankle. I probably could force the boot onto my foot, but it would hurt. Also, I probably couldn’t take it off by myself without damaging the boot or my ankle, or both.

I’ll just have to suck it up and wait. This is so darned frustrating. Oh well, I have said before and I’ll say it again… I am a patient man. At least I try to be. 🙂

Life is short: appreciate unswollen ankles if you have them! Then wear your boots!

Delete … Delete

Any time you’re “out there” on the internet and you connect your email to your blog and/or website, then sooner or later you will receive messages from people who are, well, rather bizarre, or who say strange things.

I get email from Pakistani leather vendors all the time. They’re not strange, as they are persistent. They do not see or read the message on my page that says clearly that I don’t want to hear from them. … delete … delete …

Then occasionally I get propositions for sex. Well, I take that as a compliment in a way, but also find it annoying. … delete … delete …

From time to time someone will write to ask if he can “service” me or my boots. … delete … delete …

Every now and then, I get messages from some very lonely men. I feel sorry for them, but I’m not a matchmaker. Sometimes they write just to communicate with me. That’s okay, but most of the time, they write with odd requests, bizarre notions, or write so confusingly that I have no idea what they’re asking or what they want. … delete … delete …

I have received messages from children less than age 21. Either they don’t read my message that says that if you’re under 21, I won’t respond, or it could be the cops testing me. For my own safety … delete … delete …

I swear, on nights of the full moon, I have received very odd email messages offering things like a new pair of boots in exchange for [bleep] or wanting me to meet the person somewhere (more like a demand than a request). … delete … delete …

I even received a message from a guy who begged me to let him stay with us in our home because he wanted to “see for himself how a gay couple lives.” Oh Jimminy Crickets … delete … delete …

A few times, I have received a rant or negative message from a jealous wacko or one of those ultra-religious zealots … delete … delete …

Then there’s the guy who wrote me an email, and when I didn’t answer in an hour, wrote again and kept writing until I responded. I tried to explain that I don’t sit at my computer waiting for email to come in. I have a life. I’m busy. When someone gets demanding and rude about it … delete … block … delete … (“block” referring to blocking that person’s email address from writing to me again.)

While I am a tolerant and accepting guy, there are some times when I have received email from a U.S.-born-and-raised person who cannot spell, use grammar, write, or otherwise compose an intelligent sentence. Or even a sentence for that matter … delete … delete …

In reading the above, it sounds like I receive a lot of email and that most of it is from strange or bizarre people. Actually, neither are true. I don’t receive a lot of email … enough to make things interesting, but not enough to overwhelm me. And most of it is well-composed, written by adults acting like an adult, and recognizes and respects that I am a gay man in a monogamous relationship.

I say that I will respond to every legitimate email message that I receive. That’s true. However, I reserve judgment as to what is or is not “legitimate.”

Life is short: be normal, and I’ll write back. Be bizarre, and I won’t. Simple as that.

Wear Whatever You Like

My fellow blogger, Straight Jacketed, amused me yesterday when he closed a post on his blog with a line, “To adapt a catchphrase from the indefatigable BHD, life is short: wear whatever you damn well like.”

You know, he’s right. He’s damn well right. The other day when I went with my partner to a trolley museum, I knew that it was likely that I would see neighbors and even some local elected leaders there. Regardless, I chose to wear a pair of comfortable lightweight leather jeans and my Wesco combat boots with the jeans bloused into them. (That is, the ends of the leather jeans tucked a little bit into the top of the boots, and then the remaining leather bloused over them so they have a sharp appearance.)

For me, it was comfortable. I also like the masculine appearance of the boots and leather. Funny, I noticed when I processed the picture for this blog that I have grass stains on the boots. Yep, I have been mowing the lawn while wearing them, and it shows. At the stage of recovery from my broken leg, the lace-up, taller combat style boots give the support I require, as well as are comfortable for all-day wear.

One of the museum visitors looked at me and said, “you look like a ‘storm trooper’.” Ha! I got a big laugh out of that. The other people I knew, including community leaders, didn’t bat an eye. They talked to me, looked at my face, and not at what I was wearing.

I am comfortable in my own skin, and comfortable in a cow’s skin, too. Nobody cares what I have on my feet or legs. Seriously. For those who obsess about what other people think about what you’re wearing: forget it.    N-o    o-n-e    c-a-r-e-s!

Life is short: wear whatever you damn well please.

P.S.: I am highly honoured to be labeled “indefatigable.” Thanks, man. I get fatigued. I just hide it well (giggle.)