Lucky me, I finally found riding boots with a calf big enough to fit around my leg.
When I worked in a hardware store (utter bliss) I had to do a lot of lifting when I worked in the Nursery Department, grasping gallon pots upon gallon pots to place them on the shelves, not to mention the bags of compost and chips and potting soil. Not so very long after the Nursery Department, I moved to the Paint Department, and had to hoist gallons of paint to the shelves, and five gallon containers, and soon found that gripping three gallons of paint cans in each hand was easy as pie. That was because I was using my legs to lift, and not my back.
As a result, I don't have sweetly skinny little Tee-Hee, DaddyBoughtMeA Horse legs, I have GonnaKickYourLazyAss legs that match up with my ICanLiftAllDayShoulders. Alas, the boot manufacturers all know that the Tee-Hee crowd are the money market, and the KickAss old women are few and far between. Women's boots that fit around the calf are hard as hell to find. Especially quality boots. Men's boots don't come in my foot size. Screwed again.
I did find some boots; I may have to pay someone big bucks to cut the tops down an inch or so. I have this fantasy that they will sag after wear and fit well. Currently, they look like shiny stovepipes, things I'm embarrassed to wear on an actual ride. In order to properly break them in, I set off the other day to the hardware to purchase some neatsfoot oil to soften the leather.
No one among the (youthful) staff had ever heard of neatsfoot oil. From my earliest memory, neatsfoot oil was something every household had to break in new work shoes. You soaked the leather with it, and after the leather was dark with oil, you wore the boots/shoes a little more each day until the boots/shoes were your own, molded to your own feet and ankles. When snow or rain had attacked your footwear, you re-oiled it with the neatsfoot oil to preserve it. You expected boots to last for twenty years, at least. Kids in California don't wear boots, by and large. Even if they work in the orchards or vinyards or farms, they don't need expensive leather boots to last -- they can get by on WalMart $5 sneakers or somesuch. And the kids who don't have to work in the agricultural venue, for the most part have mommies or daddies (but rarely both) who will pay for Nikes or Reeboks, or brands of influence that I have never heard of.
My Wolverine Durashocks brand workboots, broken in with neatsfoot oil, are so sweetly accustomed to my feet that I don't notice them when I wear them. I've had them for at least ten years, and though they have been worn, they are still in great condition.
This morning I feel full of energy and very little pain. It is a good day to go out in search of Neatsfoot Oil ... and a crate of strawberries, fresh picked from the field. If I don't find the oil, I'll at least have the pleasure of the season.