How Chippewa Boots Are Made

I found the following video made by Justin Brands, the owner of Chippewa Boots.  The video gives a tour of a facility where Chippewa boots are made and demonstrates the the combination of both human attention to detail along with machine processes to manufacture mass-market boots in the United States.

I have many pairs of Chippewa boots and have found them to be very well-made and comfortable.

Life is short: know your boots!

Out Riding Again!

Woo-hoo! I can’t believe it… Sunday, November 27, and it reached 70F! (21C). By early afternoon, my partner and I had done all we could do on our home project. He said, “it’s so warm and sunny, why don’t you go for a ride?”

He didn’t have to ask twice.

Then I got to thinking. Day before yesterday, a buddy mentioned in a comment on Facebook that he would be interested in going on a ride with me on my Harley, as he had never ridden on a motorcycle before. I called him (he shall remain nameless, but if you saw his face and lived in my county, you probably would recognize him). He happily said, “yes!” when I asked if he wanted to go with me on a ride. I went over to his house, gave him instructions on riding as a passenger, handed him a helmet, put my helmet on, then we mounted the Harley and took off.

Yep, two guys on a Harley. Oooohhh… some people get all tworked about two men riding on the same motorcycle. Sheesh… get over your hang-ups, stereotypes, and homophobia. My buddy is a happily married heterosexual. I am a monogamously-partnered gay guy. So what? My buddy and I have been friends for over 25 years. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with our relationship as friends. Riding a Harley as a passenger doesn’t, either.

We enjoyed a 40-mile ride along Maryland’s beautiful country roads and byways on what I term a true bonus post-season riding day. Smiles for miles…

Life is short: RIDE!

Out Riding

This post could have been posted yesterday, the day before, or even on Thanksgiving (Thursday). Man, we have had a wonderful streak of delightful weather.  I am sorry about seeming to rub it in to my biker buddies in locations where the weather has not been nearly as cooperative, but whenever I get a chance, I ride…

Thanksgiving Day was great… 101 guests along with 11 family members and my partner celebrated a ban on loneliness throughout the day. Everything went smoothly, and our guests had a great time. Cleanup was easy since my family and a few senior pals helped out at the end. All my partner and I had to do on Friday was return some borrowed chairs and tables and drop off a load at the dump (sorry, I forget. Here in Snoburbia, we call it a “transfer station.”)

After taking care of those chores, I hopped on my Harley and cruised by my dealership to have the bike’s battery replaced. The original battery was not holding a charge and it was time for a replacement. I bought a new battery last week when they offered members of our riding club a 20% discount. After the battery replacement was finished, I cruised for a couple hours to nowhere. I loved it. Beautiful late autumn day, sunny and bright w/o a cloud in the sky, with temperatures in the upper 50s (~14C). I wore full leather, Wesco boots, and a huge grin on my face.

Yesterday, Saturday, I had some chores to do at home with the partner, then with some senior pals, as usual. I did some minor home repairs for them, and took a few to the grocery store. By then, the temperatures had reach 68F! (20C). Amazing for this time of year. So once again, I leathered up and went for a ride.

When I rolled up to a stoplight, I met a younger guy from my club who was riding alone. We teamed up and rode together for a couple hours. We both had a great time!

Today probably won’t find me out riding, as much as I would like to be doing it. I have a rather major home repair that has to get done. My partner and I will be replacing the floor of our master bathroom shower, and caulking it in. Let’s hope it works as planned.

Life is short: RIDE! (when you can… it won’t be long before weather keeps even the most hardy bikers indoors and off their rides.)

Black Friday

Black Friday!  The day in the U.S. after Thanksgiving is known to be “the” day when stores offer many sales for Christmas. I shan’t say “to start the holiday season” because many retailers put up holiday displays back in late August. Bah, humbug.

Anyway, what I am I doing today?

NOT shopping. My Christmas shopping was completed in July. However, perhaps I will wear all black leather today, in honor of the name of the day, and also ’cause I like to wear leather. (giggle.)

Today, my partner and I are recovering. This post is a place-holder for a description of how our Thanksgiving went… but I may not update it before it gets posted. I wrote this post a few days ago.

So for now, I am sure that the morning began with a long, warm snuggle with my partner. Both of us have the day off work today. We will likely have to make a run to the dump with collected garbage, return borrowed chairs and tables, and do some housecleaning. Goodness knows, a few years ago we didn’t clean as well as we should have done after one of these Thanksgiving feasts. We discovered a couple weeks later that a turkey leg was, ahem, making its presence known under the sofa in the family room. How it got there, one never knows. Don’t worry, today we will be inspecting thoroughly!

Meanwhile, shopping is the last thing on my mind. Rest, recovery, and basking in great joy from our Thanksgiving is what I’m up to today.

Life is short: wait for Small Business Saturday (tomorrow) if you must shop. Tune in tomorrow for what that’s all about.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Busy, busy, busy today! I have been up and at-em since 4am, preparing for our annual Thanksgiving Holiday senior’s pot-lock bash. Throughout the day, we anticipate seeing about 100 guests, 10 or so family members, some senior elected officials, and who knows what else…


  • Turkeys: two cooked and sliced yesterday, two in the oven today, so we get that fresh roasted turkey aroma throughout the day.
  • Trimmings: guests bring all the side dishes and desserts. I’m certain we will have more than ample.
  • Drinks: all day yesterday, I visited senior pals who were donating soft drinks, beer, and wine, so I could get them home and on ice to chill. (My fridge is beyond full; I am using two neighbors’ refrigerators as well as four humongous ice chests.)
  • Plates and utensils: a few of my senior pals do not cook, so they donated plastic forks, knives, and spoons, as well as paper products — durable paper plates, napkins, and paper towels. One also donated a ton of trash bags, which we will definitely find useful!
  • Decorating: my partner has done a great job clearing space for guests, and placing some gift flower arrangements that have been sent to us in various places around the house. He also has placed nice table cloths on our dining room and kitchen tables, and even our two kitchen islands where drinks are served.
  • Chairs and tables: two nice neighbors have lent me additional folding chairs, TV trays, and card tables. My partner and I moved some of our regular furniture (coffee and end tables) out of the way to open up the space for guests to circulate and provide more room for seated eating.
  • Guest attendants: Two sisters, one brother, four nieces, two nephews, and probably a partridge in a pear tree or two will be helping out all day. Bless my family; I know not what I would do without their steadfast support.
  • guests: I have confirmed that three high-level elected officials will drop by to share cheer, but not engage in politicking for votes.
  • Transportation: while there is probably enough parking near our house (or on our driveway and two neighbors’ driveways), we arrange for most of our guests to be picked up and driven back home. Why? Because we learned that if we do not tell them that their ride is leaving, they are reluctant to leave, which can make for an exceptionally crowded afternoon. Four of my senior pals are doing two shifts of “driving duty” to help resolve this situation.
  • Ramps and hand-rails: A few years ago, I built a special ramp that goes from my front door to our driveway, with handrails. It makes it so much easier for seniors who have physical disabilities to join us. My partner and I installed it yesterday and assured that it is firm and stable.
  • Wrapping machine: I learned that guests bring much too much food, and there is no way we can eat all the leftovers. So when one of our local grocery stores went out of business, I bought a machine that wraps plates with food wrap. One of my family elves will pile food on a plate for each guest before he/she leaves, wrap it up, place a bow on it, and give it to our guest to take home. Best of both worlds — our guests get more home-cooked food to enjoy for the next few days, and we do not end up with food that would spoil.
  • Tranquilizer for the partner: ‘nuf said. LOL!

Happy Thanksgiving! Check back tomorrow to see how we survived!

What Thanksgiving Means To Me

Tomorrow is the date when we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, and by those who serve our country in distant lands across the world. Whether we agree or disagree with the politics of what places U.S. Service Members overseas, we must remember that they are separated from family and friends during a time of traditional reunion. I extend my thanks to them for their sacrifice and service.

What does Thanksgiving mean to me? Turkey, all the trimmings, football games on television, seeing Uncle Whazzisname but once a year? Nope….

Thanksgiving was created in America to give thanks for the fall harvest and to share the bounty with family, friends, and neighbors. There is quite a history of this major national holiday (see it here). Feeding neighbors is the foundation of American Thanksgiving, as the first Thanksgiving was in 1621 when the Pilgrims held the first feast for themselves and their Native American neighbors.

Flash forward to 2011… here we are, feeding neighbors with the bountiful delights of a pot-luck harvest with and for my senior pals.

Customarily, most families try to reunite with each other on this holiday. However, such reunions are also a focus for Christmas, just one month away. Most of my senior pals who live alone cannot afford to travel to visit children who live far away on both holidays so close together on the calendar. The reverse is true, as well — children have trouble getting time off work and/or school to come home for Thanksgiving.

That leaves a situation of many seniors being alone on Thanksgiving. I just can’t abide that. To make a sad situation much more happy, we invite friends (and friends-of-friends and friends-of-friends-of-friends) who otherwise would be alone on this holiday to join us. Over four three-hour “shifts” throughout the day, about 100 of our friends come by, bearing some of the harvest — a dish for four. Their contribution may include vegetables, breads, appetizers, and — of course — pies, pies, pies. What would Thanksgiving be without apple and pumpkin pie? And don’t forget the cranberry sauce (though hardly anyone eats the stuff LOL!)

All I do is cook four farm-raised fresh turkeys (two ovens, two days.) Ten of my sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews set out a grand buffet and we all munch, graze, or otherwise “partake.” We sing silly songs around the piano, root for whatever team is playing football (if one cares to watch the TV in the media room), or chat with each other in more quiet areas of the house (or weather-permitting, out on one of the decks.)

What does Thanksgiving mean to me? It is a time to share the joy of bonds of long-term friendship and love with great people who form the net who sustain my soul. It is a time for me to thank my family and friends for their caring concern and love extended throughout the year. It is a time to remember happy memories of times gone by, people we love, and things we have done with and for each other. It truly is… a time of smiles and great joy in sharing God’s blessings.

Personally, I have one more important thing that Thanksgiving means to me: it is a time when I give many thanks to my partner for his steadfast support, love, strength, determination, and for being my “best half, partner through life.”

So while my partner will work behind the scenes tomorrow, doing what he does best — listening to stories that seniors wish to share — I’ll be circulating among all, sitting with each one, taking a moment to hold his or her hand, look into her or his eyes, and say with sincerity, “thank you — for your love, support, and caring.”

This is what Thanksgiving means to me. A time to extend my sincere thanks to my family, my friends, and to you, my loyal blog followers. Thank you for caring enough to read my daily ramblings. And for those of you with whom I have built a friendship, thanks for your kindness, warmth-of-heart, and humor. I appreciate it!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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

Ostrich Biker Boot Deal!

Being a biker who is also fond of cowboy boots and the various types of skins that may be used to make them, I was intrigued to find a pair of Chippewa harness boots that have an ostrich foot and traditional leather shafts, along with good-quality Vibram lug soles.

So when I saw them on a website back in March, (continued after the jump)…

I contacted the seller and negotiated a good price on a pair of these beauties in brown. (I don’t take list price for an answer… there is always wiggle-room if a seller wants to move product.)

I wore these boots throughout the past summer while riding my Harley. Even good-looking enough to wear with dress clothes to work. They are very comfortable, well-constructed, traditional tough-looking harness boots.

Chippewa also makes these boots in black. I have a lot of black motorcycle boots, so I thought I would “take a pass” on spending US$360 to buy them in black. The ostrich skin makes these boots more expensive than if they were made of all-leather.

However, come November, what did I see on eBay but a pair of these ostrich boots in black. My size! Okay… I’m no fool when it comes to snatching up a quality. I bid and got them for only $30. Amazing… they retail for more than 11 times that amount. They guy selling them lived up the road from me, so the day after I won the bid and paid, I met him at a mutually-convenient public location (I never invite strangers to the house). Double-amazing on the quick delivery (but it was a Saturday, so it was convenient for both of us).

The seller said that he bought them and, in his opinion, thought the ostrich foot was “too much” and some of his friends made snide comments. He wore them a few times, but when I inspected them, they were practically brand new. Triple-amazing.

Well, his loss and my gain. They go great with dressy clothes that I wear to work, as well as with leather… versatility in boots is a good thing (LOL!)

Who gives a frig about what other people say about the boots on your feet? If people feel compelled to make snide comments, it’s probably because they are insecure and feel better putting other people down. Hell with it… the boots are fantastic. I will wear these boots often — throughout the winter with dress clothes to work, and when I ride my Harley, too.

More photos of these black ostrich harness boots.

Life is short: know quality and wear it!

Cowboy Boots Rubbing Legs

Occasionally, I receive questions from visitors to my website or this blog.

A recent question was, “do any of the cowboy boots that you own rub your legs and cause sores or blisters?”

My answer to that question was…

…yes, some of my cowboy boots have done that. This problem occurs when the boot shafts are a bit narrow (so they are closer to my legs) and the stitching on the inside of the shafts is not finished well. That is, the stitching may be loose or uneven. The threads used these days are usually nylon, which is rather rough and abrasive when it rubs on the side of legs. (Kevlar is even worse). Walking can cause the threads to rub against the legs in the same places over and over again, causing (in the worst circumstances), the skin to be abraded and maybe even a bleeding sore.

There are four ways that I have dealt with this problem when I feel it.

1. I will closely examine the inside of the boot shafts where I am feeling the rubbing sensation. If there are any loose threads or unfinished ends of leather, I will try to cut them off or if I can’t cut them, to melt them. Yeah, I said “melt.” Boot threads made of nylon will melt when exposed to a flame. So I will take the boots and my lighter outside to a clear area (I am always a fire-safety guy!) … light the lighter and carefully wave the end of the flame near the threads to melt them. I am very careful not to get the flame too close to the leather, because it will cause leather to discolor and to shrink (in the area directly exposed to flame.) I am also very careful not to burn the threads completely through — if that happens, the boot may begin to fall apart.

After the threads are melted, I will carefully pull or break off the melted ends to smooth them out. Then I proceed with the next step.

2. I will get some medium (100 grit) sandpaper and rub it on the offending loose threads, beading, or ends-of-leather. Essentially, I will “sand down” the parts that are causing the rubbing. After I have sanded all areas that I think are causing the problem, I will gently wipe the areas that I sanded with a damp cloth, then pull the boots on to check if the problem has gone away. If not, I will repeat the process until the problem is resolved.

3. In cases where I cannot melt or sand an offending area to smoothness — such as where a boot pull attaches to the inside of a boot — then I will get some regular masking tape (“paper tape”) and carefully place the tape over the offending area. Usually that works, but not always. Tape also has to be replaced from time to time, as it is not a permanent fix.

4. I may use the professional boot stretcher that I own to try to stretch the boot shafts, slowly over time. If I am able to stretch the shafts of leather boots even 1/4″ (6mm), I may eliminate the problem because the area that was rubbing is no longer close to my legs for me to feel it.

Such is life of a Bootman. Not all boots are made the same. I hate to say it, but it doesn’t really matter if the boots are made by an expensive custom one-of-a-kind bootmaker, a commercial mass-production vendor, or where in the world the boots are made. Sometimes there may be loose threads, beading, or bits of leather that will rub on your legs. It is fairly easy to resolve yourself with a bit of ingenuity and tactics as described above.

Life is short: make your boots comfortable!