NOTHING adopts a personality of owner as nicely as decent leather wear. Your first thought is a pair of shoes or a belt, perhaps. But today we’re talking about a guitar strap from Bitterroot Guitars!
Yep, who would have thought! Usually one purchases a padded nylon fake-embroidered strap to go with their new guitar. What else does the music store stock, anyway? It’s all economics, and Jake the Snake doesn’t want to tie up his crisp Yankee dollars on a display rack.
After playing my new acoustic for a few months, it became clear a guitar strap was necessary to keep up with my bluegrass buddies. I wanted leather. I wanted USA production. A little post-internet investigation turned up a great online seller, Bitterroot Guitars.
The strap was promptly delivered, smelling tannery-fresh! Perfect execution! At the time of purchase, the year 2013, the cost was about $17 delivered. Bargain to boot!
PHILIP R Craig, I’ve never met. Yet I feel a kindred, a bond, with one of Craig’s best buddies. Craig was an American writer who, among other accomplishments, produced 20 mystery novels set on Martha’s Vineyard. The star of the series was J.W. Jackson, retired cop-turned-fisherman, who lived a simple life but got caught up in some complicated situations. I’ve lived vicariously through Phil’s writings, for which I will be forever grateful.
J.W. loved to fish. What he didn’t sell or give to the needy, he ate or smoked to eat later. J.W. made, and consumed daily, his own smoked bluefish paté, on sandwiches and among cocktail nibbles up on the balcony.
J.W.’s recipe was reproduced on the flap of one of the books, and, I’m told, is listed within the collection of J.W. Jackson’s recipes in the book Delish, by Shirley Prada Craig.
Smoked Bluefish Paté
5-6 ounces shredded smoked bluefish *
8 ounces whipped cream cheese **
½ tablespoon finely diced red onion (more, please)
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Dash of Worcestershire sauce if desired
* Trout works fine. Bet any good smoked fish would do.
** Package of cream cheese, softened, in the mixer with a little milk or sour cream.
When it’s time for a scrubby
WE HAD a quick nip above freezing today, up to 44˚F. Since it is headed to 8˚ tonight and firmly nestled below freezing temperatures all week, what could be more constructive this balmy afternoon than to hose off the
vehicles! Goodbye winter road grime, slush, & dried de-icer.
Out back, I dug my faithful Craftsman hose out of the snow. She came willingly, eager to once again bend her supple curves across the pavement. After a bit of ice pushed forth from the nickel-plated brass end coupling, I had full water flow from the generous 5/8″ inside diameter hose. Once again, the hose had performed perfectly. And well it better!
Although the cost is a bit more than most hoses, the diameter is larger, the rubber does not crush and kink as easily, and it has a lifetime warranty from a company that will probably outlast the hose’s eventual demise under a lawn-mower blade. Ever have grand landscaping plans dashed after finding your skinny green hose kinked, flattened, and beyond the best medical attention? Doesn’t happen with the premium Craftsman hose. Restless from anemic water flow from a cheap hose? You’ll get professional, problem-solving volumes of water from the Craftsman! And for play, you’ll want a second mortgage to pay your water bill if your kids get unlimited use of this hose!
This garden hose works best with unreduced water flow. Have your plumber cut a 3/4″ tee right after the meter, pipe it to a 3/4″ full port ball shut-off valve in the basement, and through the wall to another full-port ball valve with hose adapter. You’ll be playing with the big boys, with water flow like that!
Not all Craftsman tools are made alike, a sad commentary to profit and globalization. But this hose has been made in the U.S.A. since I’ve been buying them for business and pleasure.
Lamp of Learning
NOTHING is as annoying as inadequate lighting when you decide to read in bed at night. Eye strain, wrist cramp, and thought interruption are all symptoms of a poorly designed book light.
Whether camping with the kids at the Franklin Institute, assaulting a defective circuit breaker in a blacked-out debris strewn basement, or preserving your marriage during marathon midnight Machiavellian mental musings, a quality headlamp is an investment which, time after time, will pay handsome dividends.
Personally recommended is the Surefire variable-output LED series of headlamp. Designed for our nation’s fighting forces, this item has crossed over as a favorite of spelunkers, tradespeople, bookworms, and Hollywood [recently featured on “Glee” during the power blackout episode].
Variable-output means that you can crank the brightness from a super-dim to a blinding beam. LED means it is a low-power-consumption, practically indestructable light bulb. Meets Department of Defense qualifications for being US origin. Order a box  of Surefire CR123 batteries to go with it. You’ll be set for a couple of years.
The list price is pretty high, as one would expect for a device that can blink S-O-S for days on a tossing life raft, but that online photo video place has them for much less. I buy my batteries direct from Surefire, however, two boxes at a time, and suck up the delivery charge.
Survival With Clean Socks
A FEW years back, when a hundred miles riding bicycle through the open country *on an empty stomach, without water* was a lark, I was given my first set of DeFeet cycling socks from the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia. Snazzy white socks, open mesh across the top of the foot, low to the ankles, with a bright yellow stripe at the top. So began my stylin’ bike gear collection.
Despite care and hand-washing, these socks began to fall apart after about ten years. The horror! But since The Internet had by now been invented, I was able to track down the manufacturer. Interesting story here, but the short copy is that a cycling guy wanted a better sock, invented it, and used his family background to open a knitting facility. It was the first open mesh weave airflow design sock, totally customizable. DeFeet was born. The year was 1992. –DeFeet
The Grab Bag is recommended. A dozen pair of seconds or over-runs, delivered, works out to about $3 per pair. Significant savings over standard per-pair price. You get an eclectic mix, possibly including logo’d socks from Triathlons in far-off lands as well as Benefit Runs for well-deserving causes.
Editor’s note: The Grab Bag apparently comes and goes. At the time of this edit, Web Deals appear to be the only “special”.
SAFETY IS NOT AN ACCIDENT
BACK when starting out, a few years into the manly occupation of tradesman, I quickly discovered one thing about cheap eye protection. It didn’t work well. Uncomfortable, foggy, loose, scratch-prone, easily broken. Did I mention uncomfortable?
Searching high and low, it turns out that good eyewear could not be bought off the shelf. Specialty eyewear = specialty supplier. I headed to Grainger [pre-internet].
This is where I discovered the Uvex S3960C Stealth Safety Goggles. Great fit, even over my eyeglasses. Replaceable lens. I eventually bought them for all my people. Anyone swinging a hammer or grinding an old pipe apart would get eye protection. Then came replacement lenses, 10-to-a-pack. Everyone got new, clear replacement lenses when required.
You can’t spend too much to protect your eyes. Quality eye protection, at about $10 a set, is cheap. Uvex by Sperian. Anti-fog. Scratch-resistant. Gap-free fit. Made in USA.