Sitting in my Bean Boots…in the living room

_MG_5773.jpg by demianvk

The California weather is something to marvel. Mid September, still in the 80’s, who could complain?  Not my wife.  If anything, the winter average temperature of 58 degrees Fahrenheit is as close to arctic as she needs to get.

Me?  I am already in my Bean Boots.  Heavy socks.  Sweating.  Waiting for winter.

I have lived in those regions of this great country that have more than two seasons.  I swore that I did not need those seasonal variations and old man winter be damned, I was going surfing.  Now, I wistfully pine for a flurry of snow building drifts beneath my windows.

Life is about compromises.  It is California for Heaven’s sake, lighten up.  Take off the stupid duck boots and just relax…  Good Lord, man, get a hold of yourself!

give us this day, our daily bread

My mom was huge when it came to making bread.  Mom even had her own specialty she developed called “Angel Bread” or at least that is what my dad and I called it.  There is a good chance I am exaggerating a bit, but would testify in court that there was a fresh loaf pretty much daily, just waiting on the table when I got home from school.  There is nothing like warm bread and butter in the early afternoon followed by glass of cool milk after a hard day of slogging.

One would think that I would have learned a thing or two and kept the torch burning for home-made goods.  Alas, I did not pay attention in those halcyon days of yore.  I took the wafting aroma of fresh-baked goods for granted.

La Cloche covered baker, keeps a brother from wrecking himself.

Better late than never, as they say.

I can safely say that my finished product is not “Angel Bread”. I did not develop the recipe (Thank you America’s Test Kitchen).  But, in the end, my house smells like home.

One mean loaf

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Red sky at night, sailor’s delight

Fall in northern California

Sitting back and day dreaming on a Sunday afternoon.  During a parent-teacher conference back in the day, my 3rd or 4th grade teacher told my parents I have a tendency to stare out the window and daydream during class. I paraphrasing here but my mom retorted,”He’s a kid, isn’t that what they do?”  My mom never had much use for teacher’s opinions, or anyone’s opinion for that matter.

I am still staring out the window 40 years later.

My Prison Blues – Yes they are made in prison.

With a tag line: “Made on the inside to be worn on the outside”, made in Oregon and about as no-nonsense as a shark at a seal buffet, these Prison Blu’s  jeans deserve some recognition.

The jeans are as American as apple pie.  The material is rough, the knees: double walled, the rise: high and the fit: straight.  Made from rugged 14.5 ounce denim, side tool pocket and buttons for suspenders these jeans are ready for some heavy-duty rotation.  The fit, at least for me, runs a little small but will stretch with some wear and feel comfortable in no time.

I had to wash the jeans to kick-start the breaking in process, I could not handle the chafe after the first week.  I know, I am not worthy to wear jeans made in a prison.  Who knew?

To date, I have worn the jeans with the supplied suspenders.  I don’t have the gut overhang usually associated with wearing suspenders (or braces to the to the sartorial set)  .   Leaving behind the binding of a belt whilst I toil is somewhat freeing,  like not wearing undies with a kilt.

Looking for a suitable substitute for brands such as Carhartt who have since moved production of their hardiest products off shore has led to few alternatives.  The jeans from Prison Blues are a durable alternative and recommended, if you are in the market for a pair of work jeans.  If you are a fan of the cotton duck that made work-famous, keep on looking.

Correction Connection~ $30


Big pimp’in in Red Wings

I have let a few things languish in the back forty of life lately, this blog being one of them.  I shall attempt to remedy my silence with a new entry about an impulse buy I have yet to categorize as good or bad.

A year or so ago I ogled at the shoe and boot choice on J Crew’s Website (On a side note: the boots in question are not available on the website).   While scanning from item to item what should my wandering eye spy?

A moc-toed vision in oiled leather and Vibram.  Something snapped in my brain.  A breaker blew out, frying the fuse to my practical reasoning center leaving me exposed and vulnerable to allure of the Goodyear welt construction.  I had to make them mine.

I’ll start with the issues first and finish on the high notes.  Buying shoes on the internet is a gamble.  The variables of fit are left to chance.  I’ll elaborate: I am cursed with feet a half-size apart with the shorter being slightly wider.  Top off the issue with my shoe size: 12.  Dainty is not a word used to describe a size 12.  Size 12’s are akin to the Ford Super Duty, built for business, a giant awash in a sea of sub-compacts.

Going to the Red Wing store near you will start with a conversation about fit, size, sock, width, activity and other questions to size you up.  The sales clerk will bring out a smattering of examples to test your fit.  After honing the details, you can walk out knowing you have made the right choice.  Buying on the internet is as follows: get box: nice boots, put in the laces: nice laces, try the boots on: F%$&, these boots are big, get thicker socks: S&%!, these boots are big and so on and so on.

I have found a mix and match of  socks and inserts that accommodate the inevitable stretching of the leather with use.  Wearing the boots for over a year now, a subtle understanding between boot and man is developing.  The leather ages with use, each scuff tells a tale of work, leisure, and big pimp’in.  The boot oil darkens the leather with complexity and highlights the subtle tonal inflections of the hide’s grain.

The boots are comfortable without an insert.  The distinguished Moc Toe hangs out in front of my draping jeans like the prow of a schooner.  I have spent the day tramping up and down the banks of rivers fly rod in hand.  I have spent the day behind my desk.  I have walked in rain, snow, and everything between.  Wrenched on the motor bike, rode the bike and helped my daughter learn to ride a bicycle.  My boots have not let me down, not even hot spot on the ball of the foot.  Like I said, it is long-term relationship.  Commit with care and seek professional help before setting off into the wild blue yonder.

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Grassroots America

We all have a craft.  NBC’s America’s got Talent will attest to the fact that we all have a craft, some talent that makes each of us unique.  I  have spent years, countless dollars, and the last of my wife’s patience trying to hone a craft of my own.  So far, I found that I am barely proficient in one thing: procrastination.

There are others who are not so lethargic.  I have come across some examples I would like to share.

The point I have to make here concerns the talent of certain folks to tell a story.  Lucas and Spielberg aside, there are a multitude of talent providing quality content for schlubs like me.  The site I want to bring to your attention is Vice Magazine’s  With a full contingent of subject to view I would like to suggest two or three.

The fist: Doing it Baja.  The series is up to 5 of 8 and is a must see.  The series contains motorcycles = rad and skateboards = rad.  Together you get Super Rad, of course.  The cast, the road trip, it all works for some good entertainment.

The Second: Toxic Gulf (any of the Toxic series).  Vice puts some teeth into the oil spill by reporting at a level stripped of BS, laced with grit, and a touch of profanity to bring home what a tragedy the spill has become.

Like YouTube, its hit or miss but Shot By Kern gives some gritty insight into one job I once thought would be akin to Heaven on Earth.  You can see for yourself if the content is to your liking.

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Shock to the System

I had a nasty shock the other day as I perused the men’s blogs (Put This On).  I am still recovering.

I grew up steeped in the glow of the Southern California Surfer Lifestyle.  I wore long shorts, random t-shirts and flippy-floppy’s.   The problem, it seems, is that I still wear the same thing now so many years later.  There were different themes over the years; rocker, hippie, Rasta, skater, lots of skater.  Always returning to my roots as a surf-bum when the new and improved me proved boring.

A good example of the trend occurred the last year of college.  My feet were roasting in my then made in Britain Doc Martins.  After graduating, I decided that the time had come to retire the grunge look and went back to my first loves, flip-flops.

That was a long time ago.  According to the opinions touted in Put This On’s specific post on flip-flops; I am in direct offense to all.  One would think my wife would have said something by now.

Today, after an arduous hunt for something to wear to cover my heinous feet, I settled on a product.  I looked at leather shoes, canvas shoes, vegan shoes, and even looked at sandals for a second (not a sandal fan, huaraches or otherwise).  I had begun to give up hope;  I would forever torture my fellow human beings with visions of my unkempt toe nails.

At the eleventh-hour my savior appeared (either on Caliroots or High Snobiety, I can’t remember) in the form of a casual, moccasin-y toe, hemp product from Vans: the Hemp Rata Vulc.The shoe does not stink too much after a day of wear, not horribly expensive ($50 ish), not too common and, I don’t say so myself, rather fetching in “Charcoal”.

Here is to teaching old dogs new tricks,


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An Ode to Single Malt Scotch Whisky

The Spring Break vacation has passed.  Monday has come and gone. In the waning hours of the day I partake in one of the few vices left to a family man; a few sips of 12-year-old Highland Single Malt Scotch by The Macallan.  The Sherry Oak Casks make for a rich color, pleasant nose, and none of that bitter beer face-sucking wind-swill in a bottle-I-drank-in-college grossness.   If you are a Costco member, take a  bottle home for less than $40.

On a side note, if you can afford the 21-year-old in the Fine Oak series (link to BevMo), you must try a sip at least once in your life.

In the news this evening: new items coming down the pike that I am in the process of reviewing:

The Eena canvas briefcase by Beckel

Filson’s Tin Cloth Packer Jacket

JCrew’s reissue of a pair of moc toe Red Wing Boots

My new find, a pair of double knee work jeans from Prison Blues

Excuse me whilst I take another sip.

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A Man and his Musette

Waxed Canvas Musette

Waxed Canvas Musette

Beautiful in its simplicity the Waxed Cotton Musette by Archival Clothing allows me to carry the essentials, nothing more.  A liberating feeling for one used to lugging a miniature stationery store every where he goes.  For my daily commute to work, weekend run-around, or last-minute dash to a meeting the bag is of perfect dimensions.

Modeling the Musette

After a couple of weeks of use, the waxed canvas already shows signs of the classic wearing marks and creases that makes the material so damn cool.  In time, the patina will add a rugged hue and an aged look that cannot be recreated with any other material.

Musette and hang tag

The catch, there is always a catch, has nothing to do with the bag or its design.  The pictures and description are quite clear and free of ambiguity.  The issue for me and my Musette: my kids.  I turn my back for the shortest of milliseconds, the contents are strewn about like the left over bits at a garage sale.  My four-year old has learned ejecting daddy’s personal items from the vehicle elicits a reaction she finds most comical.  Why did it not occur to me this would be a problem you ask? All of my other bags have a flap or zipper closure mitigating the damage by keeping items inside.  Who knew that flap is so damn important?

Will my shortsightedness ground this budding relationship between man and Musette?  Hell no.  Would I recommend Archival Clothing’s Musette to anyone needing a rapidly deployable stash and dash bag? Hell yes. Am I waiting impatiently for the Flap Musette, tapping my foot loudly all the while? You are damn toot’in.

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You lose what don’t hold

Two items I have recently received via the magic UPS truck bear mentioning.

The first item which I am using as a daily companion to hold my various sundries: The Musette from Archival Clothing.  First impression: stoked on it.  A mean, lean toting machine.

Image from Archival Clothing

Second item(s): From Hard Graft in Austria I have the Phone Slim Case and the Pen Hold.  I have been on a mission to find a phone case I really,really, really love.  To date, I have yet to lay my hands on a protective cover that floats my boat.  I’ll have to share my thoughts after some use.

Image from Hard Graft.
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