Category Archives: Diary

I got a fortune cookie in my e-mail.Now, I want a cup of tea…could be my cold…or the rain, I guess. I’ve put all my boot tools in a sack to take up to Michael’s tomorrow. I’m going to try and work on that table leg with a bit of sandpaper tonight…And I’m carrying along a copy of a “Request for Proposal” from the California Arts Council via the Fund for Folk Culture for Michael and I to talk about. (more later)

I’m back in California…back at my day job. Today, I feel a little less like a bootmaker…more like a cross between a computer geek and a bureaucrat. I’m sure my mood will improve once I’m back at home sorting through the tools and thread I brought home with me. I’ve been a little slow to unpack my suitcases after this trip. I think I miss Texas…or maybe I just miss being in a bootshop. It’s hard to tell.

Today was a big day…a long day…a long day that’s not over yet. The day started with me waking up on the wrong side of the time zone this morning. I was late. No biscuits and gravy for me, nope…just down to the hotel lobby for a bowl of Frosted Flakes and black coffee…back to the hotel room for some phone calls, then off to the Coliseum. I walked through the front doors of the show and took a beeline to Wild Bill’s booth (a.k.a. Bill Niemczyk). Bill has old tools…good old tools. They’re good because he fixes them up after he finds them, he shines up the metal and smoothes the handles. You pick up the tools and they seem kinda warm, like they’ve been in someone’s hand. The handles are worn down in all the right spots. I bought 5 small hand tools: a saw-tooth tack puller, 2 peggin’ awls, a sewing awl haft, and a rand file. They fit in my hand just right, I snagged everything with a small handle. (Can’t do that on e-bay.)

And then I think I spent the whole day talking…talking to everybody I knew…and everybody I didn’t. I talked about boots all day long. I looked a lot like a bootmaker today… I had on a red name tag, some fancy foxing on the toes of my boots, and I was carrying around a cigar box with a bunch hand-me-down tools rattlin’ around inside. I’m having fun alright.

I’m home. I went back to work today…my regular job…the one that makes me wear dry-clean-only clothes. It was a little weird, so many people…so many cars. I have no idea where the nearest Dairy Queen is…might be hours away…not like Texas, not like Coleman. I wore my black boots today. I’m dreaming about bootmaking at night…cutting leather with a knife, hammering tacks. Tonight I’m gonna drag out my bootmaking tools and take inventory. Tex let me take home my lip knife and a measuring tape. Bill Niemczyk traded me a really good Crispin hammer for a lousy pair of lasting pliers I took to Brownwood last year (he was being generous). Lee Miller gave me a whole pile of stuff, like a rand file, skiving knives, awls…a bunch of stuff. At the time I recognized some of the tools, but didn’t know what they were all for…I tucked them away. Now I’m gonna drag ’em all out, take inventory…and figure out my wish list for Brownwood this year. I’ve got high hopes for that swapmeet.