Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Another short excursion...and the day after.

A Quickie:

We'd known for some time that my wife's niece's wedding was forthcoming.  Their special weekend approached and we headed out of town by car...

My daytime outfits enroute to/from this event were women's shorts and short-sleeve tops, with a pair of women's sandals.  To bystanders, my wife apparently was the lady of the pair, and I was neither "Sir nor Ma'am."   (This same phenomenon occurred on the way home.)

Enroute west by car, my wife noticed my pink nails (first time in 2+ months), and commented that she wished I had gotten clear.  I replied that they have been this way for a while (true), and it's hardly noticeable (except to her.)   Fortunately, the subject was dropped...

The wedding itself was a wonderful celebration.  And as I greeted the happy couple, I actually had tears of joy for them in my eyes...   (Since guys aren't supposed to cry, I wonder what this means for me?)  I wish for them a long and happy life together!

My dress-up outfit for the wedding was a blend of male and female...the men's part of it was the sport coat I wore at work till I retired.  (It was a bit snug at the waist when buttoned, but basically it still fit.)   Also, a pair of women's polyester dress slacks (which don't wrinkle, no matter what you do to them), black pantyhose, a women's short sleeve white shirt with shirt collar, and a nondescript necktie, which  I still can tie.   (All those years of tying one every day make it sort of like "you never forget how to ride a bike!")    And black patent ballet-style flats.  My nails were pink, my hair was in a relatively high ponytail, and I carried my purse... but wore no makeup or jewelry.

Some of the folks knew me, and addressed me by name.  Younger friends of the happy couple met us for the first time, and there was no issue - we are our son's parents.  (I couldn't tell if they believe we're a boy-girl couple or a girl-girl couple - because my given name is now used by females.)

However, at the reception afterwards, the answer became a bit clearer.I asked the female server for more water.  And I heard "yes Ma'am." When she returned with the water pitcher and filled my glass,  I thanked her.  Her reply:  "You're welcome Ma'am."  My wife was deep in conversation with the kids, thus they didn't hear the exchange.  (Which is fortunate.)

I found this quite attire did not reek of femininity.  Does that mean I'm becoming effeminate in my everyday behavior?  Or since she approached me from the back, did the ponytail cause her to identify me as female?  The latter is possible, but I'll never know...

And the day after getting home from the trip, I stopped at the auto parts store in a nearby town - not the one where the guy in a skirt used to work.    :-(    I was wearing a shorts and women's tee outfit, with sandals, and was promptly identified as "Miss."  They even installed the wiper blades on my car for me, "so you don't mess up your nails, Miss."

Definitely another good day for me...


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Finding my way home...last day.

Sadly, the last day on this trip!

The night before, having checked into the same motel as the past visits (with a different clerk this time) I found I had been involuntarily "upgraded."  A larger room, which was nice, but now I had to shuffle everything upstairs - using an elevator - my previous rooms had both been on the ground floor.   And this time the clerk didn't use any feminine forms of address...completely neutral.   Oh, well...she must have seen the "M" on my ID...   But at this point, who cares?

The next morning, I wore the following outfit:

It was chosen because the blouse was part of my everyday wardrobe (not requiring a change to go home in), and the elastic waist on the skirt meant it was easy to remove when I change into shorts out in someone's cornfield!  (Yes, the corn is high enough for that now!)  After shuffling all my stuff back down the elevator and into my car, I checked out.   The day clerk was much more friendly, and didn't hesitate to address me as a woman.

With that fresh in my memory, it was time to shed the one female cue I wore the entire trip,  the one which needed professional help to remove...pretty red paint (and flowers) on my nails.  (Good thing I'd planned to get professional help...the little jewels she put in the flowers didn't come off with regular polish remover!)   I'd become so used to red nails, that the color seemed to be a part of me.  And even now, much later, I look longingly for the red every time I see my hands...or feet.

Some things I learned (or had reinforced) on this trip...

1.   Generally, the public takes you at face value...give them enough cues, and they accept you as a woman.

2.   If you have met some folks and are sitting around talking with them, once they accept you as a woman, they typically don't change their mind.

3.   Voice can be a big problem, however in my experience this trip, it wasn't a major factor.  I can maintain a less-masculine voice for a few exchanges of words, but after that, it cracks and anything goes.   I did have that issue several times, but a cough and apology about my voice due to a cold, took care of it...   And the women promptly overlooked it.

4.    Nail polish (most particularly with nail art) helps a lot...both as a supremely feminine cue, and a conversation piece, particularly with women wearing naked nails.

5.    I have two pairs of dangly clip-on earrings, and I alternated wearing them all day, every day.  Though the first couple days they made my ear lobes sore, by the end of my vacation I could wear them all day, every day, without even thinking about them.  Now that I'm not wearing them any more, there are red spots on my ear lobes.  My long hair covers them while they're clearing up, so nobody is any the wiser.  Mom has reached 93 without pierced I guess I'm destined for the same thing.  (Now I just hope I can wear them often enough so that the pain stays away).

6.   If there were any men around, I frequently didn't have to open doors for myself.  They typically held them for me.  I was almost always given the "Ladies First" privilege.  And if there were no seats on a commuter/coach train,  with a few notable exceptions it was nice when one of the men gave their seat to me.

7.   I generally didn't have to hoist my bags on to, or off of, the train where there were only low platforms.  If conductors didn't help, many times civilian men rushed in to do it for me.  Yay!!!!  Chivalry is not quite dead yet...  And I'm no longer the one who has to be chivalrous!

8.   On the commuter train home, at rush hour, a young (twentysomething) girl noticed me as I walked aboard, towing my two suitcases.   She moved her smaller bags to the luggage rack so I had a place for mine.  And another girl actually "beat men to the punch" and gave up her seat for me...I guess doing an old woman a favor?   Being  an "elderly" woman has at least one advantage!

9.   The nail salon I used did a fine job, and at some point I'll use them again!

10.  Now I'm looking for a new give me a choice between denim and (?) when I want to wear a dress.

Yes, I'm truly loving traveling "pretty."  (Kim, if you somehow, someday read this, realize that your "flying pretty" has been one of my big inspirations!)

Till next time...


Thursday, August 10, 2017

In a dress again... day 6 finale.


Here's a selfie I retrieved from the camera, inside the Chicago Metropolitan lounge:

It was a long day of waiting in the Lounge for my evening train back to DC.  Several women from the Capitol Ltd recognized me, so it wasn't a boring wait... I had a number of folks to talk with.   Basically just girl talk.  But it was fun.
Though it's a bit out of sequence, I'll add the following here: 

I experienced one of the Chicago station's legendary problems:  a panhandler, during a walk in the station itself (not the lounge.)  This was when I was getting my lunch.  He obviously thought "the lady" could be intimidated into giving him some "food money."   (Yeah right - more likely some "drug money.")

My answer was "no," several times.  He persisted in following, and trying.  So just before hunting down a police officer, with the panhandler following close behind me, jabbering about my giving him some food money, I took a chance, turned around and used a loud, fully male voice (right in his face, of course), as well as male posture, to give him a not-so-gentle reminder that I couldn't be shaken down.

That astonished look he got on his face was priceless, and it apparently worked - he hastily retreated, skulking off toward a nearby station exit.  I would have preferred to NOT go to that extent, but had to get rid of "my shadow."  And those around me, to whom I obviously "outed" myself, got a chuckle out of it.  Since I didn't know any of them and would never see them again, it was OK.  It gave them a fun little dinner-time story to tell their family, about the "guy in a dress" getting one over on the panhandler.  

Back to the proper sequence;

The Cardinal actually arrived in DC ahead of schedule, which gave me the opportunity to catch an early commuter train to BWI.   That was an adventure in itself:  riding an early rush-hour train with a thousand other passengers, doing it in a skirt (well,  actually a skort), and hauling two suitcases....

I managed to get on board, and when looking for a place on the floor to stow my bags, a girl moved her two smaller bags into the luggage rack so I could park mine there.  (Space was limited, commuter trains aren't blessed with storage space for heavy bags.)   I thanked her profusely.  I wonder if any of the men would have eventually gotten off their butts to help if I had tried lifted the bags (one 33 pounds and one 42 pounds) into the luggage rack?    In reality, probably not.

Then, sans bags, I looked for a seat, and found none.  A twenty-something girl actually got up and gave me her seat!  None of the men did...which surprised me.  Chivalry must be dead - at least among the male riders in that car.  (Again, profuse thanks, girlfriend.)  Turns out the girl was traveling with her friends who were stuck standing, thus she didn't really mind...while giving an elderly woman a place to sit.

It proves that there still are a few nice people around in DC, despite the political mess down there!

Last installment to follow...


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Day 5-1/2 and 6

I remained inside the Metropolitan Lounge for the rest of the afternoon, till it was time to board the return train to DC, the Cardinal.  This train runs only 3 days a week, and may at some point be discontinued as the railroads don't like it disrupting their freight traffic.

That, in combination with the prospect of a knowledgeable guide giving narrative of the highlights of the eastbound trip, is why I chose to ride it.  It makes its  eastbound daytime run through the New River Gorge, which really is quite spectacular, if somewhat "tree'd in" by rapidly growing brush, which helps cut out some of the spectacular views of the river.

Such as:

The above was the best picture I could get of a sudden 23 foot drop in elevation of the New River.  Quite a spectacular drop, not necessarily a good thing for whitewater rafters!

Following is a picture of the famous bridge over the New River.  The guide was telling folks about the parachutists who have jumped off the bridge, and prior to 1993, bungee jumpers as well.  No thanks, folks.  I'll let them do it, and I'll watch!  Talk about spectator sports...

If you think this bridge is really're right.  It's only 3000' long, was completed in October 1977,  but it's 876' above river level!  It's one of the highest vehicular bridges in the world, the third highest in the USA.   It serves over 16,000 vehicles a day.  And when the US Mint issued the WV state coin, this was the bridge shown on the reverse side.

Stay tuned for more...


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Back out on the 5

On day 5,  I was at BWI rail station once again, this time headed south, and waiting for a commuter train south to DC, to pick up the Capitol Limited for Chicago.  I was on site early and thus able to catch a quick selfie on the platform....

My rides to DC, and then Chicago, were uneventful.

I enjoyed meeting folks in the diner, and had some good conversation during dinner.  Seated with me was a man and his son, who were getting off in Pittsburgh in the middle of the night.  And one other woman.   The boy, who was about 11, was very articulate, and able to express himself very well.  He had two women to talk a retired teacher and one a transgender retired office worker (me).  My transgender status didn't come up - the teacher and I kept him (and his dad) talking for most of the meal.  Wonder what questions the kid later had for his dad?

Upon arrival in Chicago, I hustled to get to the Metropolitan Lounge and get my bags stowed away before the rest of the crowd arrived.  My plan worked, and I saw several folks from the train as I got settled.

I immediately ventured out to the food court to get some lunch, and one commuter who needed to get past me in the crowd waiting for a commuter train said "Excuse me, Sir."   But I don't think it was an intentional slight, simply a mistake, he wasn't looking directly at me, and probably didn't see the whole picture of who it was that he was trying to get past.   Yes, I do have broad shoulders. (Quite unlike the conductor on the earlier train. whose comment was clearly intentional.)  But otherwise I had no issues!

Sunsets can be beautiful from a train...

Stay tuned for more...


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Heading back for 4

Another interesting day of adventure...

Got dressed and was ready to walk down to the station to pick up a train heading East.  But I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to have someone take my I did it myself, in the room, using the self-timer on my camera.

Following is/was my outfit for the trip back to BWI.   I find that I really love wearing this skort.   But I notice that as I sit down, it rides up a bit, and even more of my legs are on display.  Nothing wrong with that.  But it's an unusual feeling, one that I'm still not used to.  (I'll admit to tugging on my hem more than a few times...not that it made the skirt any longer!)

Notice my nails???  Several women did...and all commented favorably.  That's a delightful thing!

The train ride from Utica to NYC was uneventful.  But one particular Conductor couldn't resist taking a dig at me by using the dreaded "S" word, despite the fact I had been out and about in the real world as a woman for the past three days, with no issues.   He "had an axe to grind", but I let it pass....he obviously is a hater, and it's not worth risking an issue - I had a connecting train to catch.

After the crowds in the NYC Club Acela at Amtrak on my westbound trip, I was pleasantly surprised to find it almost empty...and cool inside.   Quite unlike the station itself...that was once again horribly crowded, and hot. 

Going to the Big Apple?   Expect just about anything!  You'll probably find it...

More later,


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Moving right along. Days 2 & 3

On my way westbound, here train-side, during a short layover at Albany, NY. 

I was standing outside the Lake Shore Limited, which was my "magic carpet" to a place called Utica, NY.  Home of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.    This ride was a minor adventure in itself.  Not only was the train late, but it had to stop to pick up passengers from a broken down train, who were stranded.  The staff told me coaches were SRO (standing room only), but fortunately those woes didn't extend into the sleeper.   And it was only for a short time, to get them to the nearest station.

Naturally, my sleeper was at the far rear end of the westbound train upon arrival in Utica, so it was quite a hike to the station.  When I got to the cab stand, there there were no cabs.  Not one in sight.  Rumor had it that since the train was running an hour late, cabbies had all left.  And when I called for one, they said it would take at least 15 minutes, maybe a half hour,  to arrive.  Twenty minutes passed, getting later with every tick of the clock, and nobody showed.

Having surveyed the area between my hotel and the station on a mapping program before I left home, I was familiar with the road layout, and decided that it was worth "hoofing it" to my hotel.  Yes, a girl in a dress, in a city, at night.   As the clock passed 11 PM, I chose the route with the fewest dark corners, hidden entrances, and buildings in general,  and off I went...with two 2-wheel suitcases in tow.

To make a long story short, it was the better part of a mile.  Since I usually walk more than that every day, it was no big deal.  But it's been years since I did it alone while in a city - at night.  Never before in a dress.   Fortunately, I'd done my homework.  And nothing happened safety-wise.  Any mugger (notice I used "singular" form) might have gotten a bit of a surprise - this girl isn't what she seems to be.  But more than one, and there would have been an issue.

Above is a picture inside Utica's Union Station.  Quite a thriving place.  Including a restaurant (during normal hours) and a branch of the DMV.  That's's not in danger of being shut down.  And there's a children's museum on the grounds.

My hotel was a big downtown establishment, which had previously fallen on hard times.  But it's in the process of becoming a Hilton Doubletree, and they're seriously renovating the property.  The rooms were very nice, mine was freshly-refurbished, with new "everything."

Next day was planned as my only "boy" day this trip.  There was a slim chance of meeting people who might know me.  For the train excursion, I wore capris, women's tee top, the many other cues I always display, and clogs to hide my toes. (It was impossible to hide my red fingernails, though.)  I wore very light makeup. And when my long lasting lipstick wore off after lunch, I didn't re-apply it, I simply used regular lipstick.   Easier to fix mistakes as the train bumped along.   I talked with my hands as usual, and so on.

"Boy" wouldn't exactly be how I'd describe my appearance, and apparently others saw it the same way.  I didn't hear the "dreaded S-word" at all.   This was completely normal attire for me as both a girl and a boy...but I looked very much like many other girls of varying ages on board for the ride.  And I was addressed as female by everyone who had occasion to deal with me.

Above: me in front of the Adirondack Scenic depot at Thendara, NY.

I was one of the few paying customers on the short extension of the excursion to Big Moose, where the engine ran around the train.   But scenery made it worthwhile.  When we returned to Thendara, the only thing to do while waiting for the train to be serviced and watered, was to walk across the parking lot and have a meal. 

Van Aukens Inne

The fun part of that was: I met a nice middle-age couple from Ohio, and shared a table with them for our meal at Van Aukens.  They were apparently either convinced I was female,  or never missed a beat in addressing me properly.   It was a great day!  (And before you ask, I never saw anyone who knew me.)

Sitting on the veranda eating early dinner was very pleasant!  About halfway through our meal, a musician appeared, and began playing live music.   A great way to spend our afternoon, being serenaded while waiting for the train!   The color on my nails was no big table mates and the servers simply treated me as a woman.   Here's a picture of my nails...couldn't resist taking it - particularly since I was on my "boy" day.

Pretty nails...on he who was supposed to be a boy...but in fact looked - and felt - more like a girl.

Upon getting back to my hotel, I took a few minutes to review my wardrobe for the rest of the trip.  That's when I realized  I was  out of clean "less girly" attire.   Well, except for the one outfit I plan to wear home.  But, it's safely tucked away in my car's trunk in Baltimore, so I can't access it.

Having spilled something on my capris at dinner,  I sure won't be wearing them again till they're washed. Thus, it's skirts or dresses for me until I get into the car to drive home in a few days.   And that's the way it should be!

Stay tuned for more...


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Off on another train trip...

It's been a while since Mandy has been able to spend time "Out of the Suitcase" for a full week.  So when the opportunity came, I took advantage of the situation.

First thing I needed to do on the way out of town was pick up my thrift-shop-inexpensive-but-too-big jumper dress, which was being altered  by my favorite seamstress across the bay.  The alterations were apparently a success - it fits much better now.  The seamstress made sure I tried it on afterward, since alterations were significant.   And when she saw how it looked, she made sure I didn't take it off!  (It's not the first time for that, either!   Oh, for a penny, in for a pound...)

Before the nail salon...

Then I dropped in at a nail salon...on the inland side of the bay for obvious reasons...for a paint job on all 20 nails.  My nails all had bee recently filled, so it should have been an easy job for the nail tech to simply paint them.  But there was an obvious language issue.  After we got past the confusion that I didn't want the artificial nails I was wearing to be removed before she painted them (she didn't speak English well), everything was fine.

And the results were as follows:

I couldn't believe how wonderful they looked!   Another need accomplished.  And since I didn't bring any materials to remove the paint with me, I was going to show off 20 pretty nails for the entire trip, regardless of how I dressed.

After the tech finished my nails at the salon, in the interest of economy I hit a Subway to pick up some food before heading to the motel and get some sleep before my early morning departure.  When I checked in to my hotel the night before departure, hearing "Ma'am" was music to my ears!

Day 1 - enroute north:  Up early to catch a train for New York City, where I would lay over for a few hours and catch a train west.  Early that morning, after hearing "Thank you for choosing us as your choice of accommodations, Ma'am" to set the scene for the day, I drove to the rail station at BWI airport, on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, and a particularly convenient point of embarkation.  

I digress to  my similar trip  a couple of years ago.   Back then, I arranged a meet-up with Marian, one of my long-time blog readers.   We had a wonderful time, and the weather was good enough that two girls could do some local sightseeing, in addition to doing lunch at a local eatery.  

This time, due to Marian's busy schedule, Mandy met "Mario" (Marian's alter ego) at Penn Station (that's the one under Madison Square Garden.)  With outside air temperatures in the 90's, and the common realization that neither of us wanted to spend the rest of the day smelling like we just stepped out of the gym, we weren't particularly fond of the idea of local sightseeing.  So, we ate lunch at a traditionally-overpriced beanery in the station, and then retired to the Club Acela first class lounge.

Club Acela was very crowded, even though the AC in the lounge was having serious issues, requiring a large fan to keep the warm air moving.   Almost every seat was filled, but we found two seats together, and were able to sit and chat until (sadly) it was time for "Mario" to leave for his other appointments.    And shortly thereafter, the agent gathered those of us traveling west together to board our train...

Not sure when our next meet-up will be, however it's something we can plan for...and hopefully on a quieter, less-hot day!  (In the Big Apple - maybe less hot, but not never know what you're going to see.  Case in point, one very drunk - or high on something - girl being led around the station by her girlfriend, and a bevy of running, screaming people in the main concourse, which got attention from the local constabulary.   Never dull there.)

Before I forget, many thanks to Marian for the picture and very nice writeup in her blog!  If you haven't visited there, you can find it at She's a lovely person, and a great writer!

After departing Pennsylvania Station on the Lake Shore Limited, and emerging from the tunnels , I caught a glimpse of the construction status of the replacement for the old Tappan Zee Bridge (over the Hudson River), which is being built to relieve massive traffic issues on the old one.  If you look closely, you can see standing (not moving) traffic on the old span:

In the above picture, there is a red blur in the lower center.  Doesn't look like much, does it?  Perhaps  a stray reflection.? And it's my nail color - seen as a reflection in the window!  Some of the pictures I took had even better reflections...but those were deleted.  No point in having Mandy's wife inquiring about that....

Construction is coming right along.  Wonder what will happen to the old bridge?  Probably like so many others, it will be imploded!

Stay tuned for the next section!


Monday, July 24, 2017

Another fabulous day!

Out and about last week... I was taking my wife to an appointment on the other side of the bay.  Wearing white capris, a gray tunic blouse, white slide sandals, my necklace, cross- body purse, hairless arms and legs, long hair and shiny nails, I apparently looked like a girl.

While she was at her appointment, I dropped in at a bank I seldom visit (once or twice a year), to make a deposit.  Nothing special about that, right?   WRONG!  When I walked in, the greeter (I did not remember him at all) addressed me as Mrs. Sherman.  Oh my...I'm impressed.  And he showed me how to use their new machines...all the while addressing me as Mrs. Sherman.

Either:  I'm totally unforgettable and the greeter isn't ('cause I didn't remember him from last time); one of the other officers of the bank recognized me; or there is some kind of customer facial recognition software in play to assist, in case of robbery.  I will inquire about that with my next visit!

After that, I needed to deliver an X-ray picture,to be added to my file at my own dentist's office.  So I dropped in, and the traditional cast of characters behind the desk who know me, wasn't.  Everyone was a trainee that day.  Friendly, of course.  And needless to say, after I gave my name, they addressed me as female, without looking at my records.  I'm not complaining in the slightest...the others normally there would likely address me as "Sir," even if I showed up in a dress, heels, red nail 
polish and full makeup.   Fifteen-plus years at the same dentist, with most of the same people, can cause that effect.

I stopped at my usual pond on the way by, both to try to get a selfie and a pic of the ducks.  But there were too many people there already, and the pond was covered with algae. UGH.   Not a pretty sight.  So I settled for a pic of the ducks:  

Since I had recently uncovered an older jumper dress (which was too big, but I got it for less than $3 at a charity shop on senior day) in my wardrobe stash, I had already decided to stop at my seamstress from "back in the day" and have her make it wearable.  She was thrilled to see me after all this time, and we spent a few minutes catching up.   Then, she told me to put on my dress...

She pinned it up and we checked it in the mirror, it looked like it would be a successful alteration.  And, she's going to try to have it ready on the day I come into town to head out on my next train trip.  I'm excited!  I've been wearing skirts and tops for such a long time and am looking forward to finally be wearing a dress again!  It's been too long....

Then I stopped at a brand new charity shop - very large, very well stocked.  I found several things that I will go back and try on either the day leave or get back from my trip - and even found a super soft convertible sleeve v-neck blouse which I bought for Mom.  I told my wife to feel it - she did and liked it - and said that if I find one that fits me,  I'll buy it.  She didn't like the idea as it's undeniably feminine, but I told her I'd only wear it when we aren't going to be together.   I think that approach may have worked...MAYBE the beginning of a Mandy wardrobe - that she knows about.  I'll have to buy something first, and then time will tell.

Lastly, I stopped at my regular bank branch, to change some bigger denomination paper money into small bills for my trip.  They know I'm a guy, but I walked into a discussion among the female staff, about hair removal creams and whether they work.  They chatted back-and-forth for a couple minutes, then apologized to me for the non-business talk..."You never know what kind of discussion you'll hear!"

I chuckled and said "You may or may not have noticed, but I don't have much hair on my arms or legs...   There's a reason.   I had laser done a number of years ago, and epilating about once every 2-3 weeks does it for me."  Needless to say, as I was the only customer, the girls all had questions...took about 5 minutes to get them answered.  It's likely that I didn't convert anybody to laser, but I ended with "And you never know when one of your customers will join in your discussion, do you?"  We all got a chuckle out of it...and since the manager was part of it, there won't be any repercussion for the girls.  But I doubt they were expecting it...even from a guy who dresses like a girl.

I guess I sort of "outed" myself to the 4 girls.   But it was fun to see the looks on their faces.

Such a wonderful day...I love being a girl!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Quickie: One good thing? Or two?

Once back from vacation, life started to go on again...with its normal "unusual turn of events..."

When I arrived at the nursing home for the first time after the trip, I was told that Mom needs more clothes.   And they told me that in my absence, she enjoyed wearing the one dress that made it to her closet (at home she seldom wore dresses, and most were the wrong size, so they went to charity when we closed up the house.)    Not sure about their statement, but...

One of my old dresses doesn't fit me as well as it should (too small), so I retrieved it from storage, took that in to the nursing home and they will label it for her.  Not only does that free up some storage space in my wardrobe hiding place, but if it fits her well enough, it could add an interesting twist to the old tale of "I wear Mom's hand-me-downs."  She will be wearing MY old dress!   And even if it doesn't fit her well, it can reside safely in her closet at the nursing home, labeled for her and safe from discovery.

But wait, there's more!

For some time, we've been getting "one per customer" reduced-price food offers from a restaurant in a nearby town.  It's a restaurant where in the past, staff has addressed us as two women whenever we stop in, and they always inquire "One check or two, ladies?"  I jokingly suggested to my wife that since they believe we're two women, when they offer a menu item we like, and it's convenient for us, we should go in and carry on the image, get two checks, then pay separately to take advantage of the offers.

Then came the truly shocking part:  my idea wasn't shot down.  It even got a chuckle.  No, we haven't done it yet, nor have we set a date to try it.  And let there be no doubt about my attire - no skirts.  (Capris are always fine.)  But the very fact that my lighthearted idea did not "die on the vine" with an abrupt "no way," is a good omen...

Finally, while I was retrieving my dress for Mom from storage, I came across a denim skort I'd bought "dirt cheap" a while back - because it needed repair for a small seam tear at one side pocket. (Yes, my skirts and skorts have more pockets than my capris, stirrups or shorts).  Thus, I've never worn it.   While I was out and about, I took it to the cleaners for (hopefully) minor repairs.    It should be a very practical addition to my wardrobe!  Especially in light of my upcoming July solo trip...

What really surprised me, though, was that the young (30something) female attendant at the cleaners couldn't find the inside of the outer denim layer, since it was covered with the internal fabric shorts.   She kept fumbling with the fabric and mumbling "What is all this?"  My response was:  "It's a skort, Ma'am.  Those are the shorts sewn inside the skirt.  They make it easy to 'not show everyone' my panties when I bend or sit."  No response from her, but she figured out how to reach the area she needed.  (I really didn't want to have to show her.)

Is it conceivable that a youngster could live such an insulated life that she doesn't know what a skort is?   She was wearing shorts, so if she only wears shorts and pants, I guess anything's possible.  Maybe she'll learn something about fashion, and try a skort - they look so nice!

That's all for now.


Monday, July 10, 2017

The rainy day

The other day, I was preparing to walk  into the nursing home where Mom lives...and it was raining.  Hard.

A lady parkeed next to me, and went to her trunk, unloading medical mechanical equipment, and put it on a cart to take inside.  I pushed my umbrella outside the car and opened it.  After grabbing my purse, I got out, and walked around the car to head for the door.  The lady pushing the equipment came around her car at that same moment.  I said to her:  "Would you like to share my umbrella?"  Her answer was, "Thank you, Ma'am, that is so nice of you."  And we walked to the door together, huddled under my umbrella.   She thanked me again as we parted ways...and it was a fun experience for me - a practical one for her.

The nursing home is breaking in a new receptionist...who has apparently decided that not only am I female, but my name is Connie.  It's not, well, not even close.   But I answer to just about anything!  So I guess if I ever decide to take a different female name at some point, it might as well be Connie.  I kind of like that name!

From the archives:

This is a view of the rails of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor receding into the distance, from the rear lounge of a private railcar I was privileged to ride, back in 2001.  (Hard to believe that was 16 years ago!) Memory serving me correctly, this was just outside Wilmington, DE.  But someone familiar with the skyline might be able to refresh my memory!

There was a bit of bumpiness...thus some blurring occurred.  I was glad I wasn't having to serve dinner on board!  But we were moving along at a pretty good clip.   Below shows the car's speedometer, pegged at its limit of a little over 100 mph! From experience, parts of the Corridor have much higher speed limits than that.  (And the car was old enough that 100 mph was faster than most trains ever went, back in the day!)

It was a fun ride!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Heading home...

All too soon it was time to leave...     After saying goodbye (always sad to leave a 1.75 year old baby who is just beginning to speak) we headed east.

This time, the traffic was much lighter than our trip west.   Well, until the road construction on (you guessed it) I-81.   As we usually do, we jumped off the interstate for the back roads.  Which led us to the picturesque little town of Emory, VA.   (Home of Emory and Henry College, a small - 1000 student -  institution nestled in the hollers of rural Virginia.)  

It's a really beautiful campus, but you'd definitely need a car there.   The town is "not much."  (Sorry, Emory.)  If you can't get it in the "Mercantile" you can't get it in town.   Drive to the next town....

Then, of course it was off to the train station...which no longer is used as a train station, since there are no passenger trains.   It's on the fringe of campus, but probably used to be an important mode of transportation for students - and what little town there was.

Not one, but two tractors...busily doing whatever the farmers do in the fields...takes teamwork to avoid what in the rail industry is known as a "cornfield meet" - where two trains are on one track, headed in opposite directions and directly toward each other....

Here's an abandoned factory in Chilhowie, VA.   Just waiting for the call back to service, which probably will never come.   

According to the "visitvirginiamountains" website,   "The Town of Chilhowie is located at exit 35 on I-81. Chilhowie, a Cherokee word meaning “valley of many deer,” was adopted as the town’s name when the town incorporated in 1913. During its stagecoach days the community was known simply as Town House. After the railroad was built in 1856 the town was referred to as Greever’s Switch, a reference to the name of the first Station Master and to the mechanical switch that allowed freight cars to be moved to a side track for loading and unloading of freight.

The first industry in Chilhowie is credited to Minter Jackson. In 1879 he built the Pottery Shop. His business was the forerunner to the Virginia Paving and Sewer Pipe Company, built by George Palmer in 1890. These small businesses paved the way for various manufacturing and agricultural enterprises which have contributed to the town’s growth over the years. Pottery, brick, lumber, textile, fertilizer, equipment and furniture manufacturing companies have all operated successfully in Chilhowie.

The clay used in Chilhowie Brick, a brand of kiln-fired brick, was popular nearly one hundred years ago. The removal of the clay lowered and flattened the slope of the land immediately south of Old Stage Road. The bricks were extremely popular and they have even been found lining the streets of Paris, France."

However, a slightly different viewpoint is shown in the LA Times article "A town traded away" from April 19 of 2002.   

"Chilhowie has lived through several cycles of industrial boom and bust. Situated in the Great Valley of the Appalachians, near the point where Virginia bumps up against North Carolina and Tennessee, its first big employer was Virginia Paving & Sewer Pipe Co., which shipped its bricks "from Lynchburg to London" until its vein of clay ran out in 1910. Chilhowie Lumber Co. had its run too, supplying logs to build the Panama Canal before bankruptcy intervened.

It was not until the early 1970s that Chilhowie began to transform itself into a thriving industrial town. Local entrepreneurs enticed makers of furniture, clothing and other goods to set up shop along Route 11. Before long, Chilhowie was attracting workers from as far away as Kentucky.

The industrial boom transformed more than just the landscape. "We went from one breadwinner in the home to the ladies going to work in the sewing factories," said Tom Bishop, who operates a home supply store, a scrap metal business and a wood framing plant in Chilhowie. With the extra income, families could afford bigger houses, better cars and other middle-class amenities.

The good times kept rolling through most of the '70s, '80s and early '90s. Then Chilhowie's world turned upside-down.

In 1994, Congress approved the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. U.S. apparel makers soon found themselves fighting for their lives. Some cut back domestic production; some set up plants in Mexico, where factory workers get only a fraction of the wages paid to Americans.

"To be competitive, you had to go south," said Larry Gibbs, who has managed Spring Ford Industries' knitting mill in Chilhowie since 1988. "I've seen the whole industry go away. It was all based on cost."

Four years ago, Gibbs kept 450 workers busy assembling millions of T-shirts for the likes of Reebok International Ltd. and J.C. Penney Co. But Spring Ford announced last month that foreign competition was forcing it to go out of business. Today, Gibbs will lay off his 50 remaining workers.

One by one, Chilhowie's biggest employers have shut their doors. Tultex Corp. closed its 200-worker sweatshirt factory in 1998. The Buster Brown plant, where 300 people assembled children's clothes, followed in 1999. Three months ago, Natalie Knitting Mills shuttered its 350-worker sweater factory. Other mills were shutting down too. Spring Ford was the latest to fall."

The town lives on...but not well.   It's showing definite signs of wear, and there is no end in sight.  Weeds continue to grow in abandoned employee parking lots...  Yes, folks, history is being recorded...every day.  Even today.  Despite the political turmoil in DC.  And it's where you find it.   We look for history in all our travels.  And obviously, so did that reporter from the LA Times!

On a quiet note after our visit to Chilhowie, we headed home, and had an uneventful balance of the drive.    Now we wait to go again...which will happen, later this year.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Time out for Vacation

My wife and I went on a little (?) visit to our son's place in TN.    Two weeks "down south",  and a bunch of quality time with the baby...a nice break for everyone!

Needless to say, the vacation itself was in "less feminine mode."  Shorts, women's tees, clogs and the usual other cues like hair, purse and nails.  (No pantyhose...much too hot outside.)   And I won't have much to say about our exact "comings and goings," other than:  once again I commented to my wife that I hadn't heard too many miss-identifications.   Once again reminded me that she had heard "Ma'am" references frequently, thus I was being seen as a woman most of the time.   (Well, nothing wrong with least in my humble opinion!)  

Enroute south, we drove on I-81.  The drive was uneventful, except for the amount of traffic.  That may have been simply vacationers, but the number of trucks seemed higher than normal.  Everyone must have been rushing deliveries to make sure they were home for the 4th of July holiday.

As usual, we made a few stops on the way.  First one was a quick detour into Wytheville, VA.  We had seen info about an old-time gas station and museum on the grounds of the local historical society, and wanted to get a look at it.    So we detoured into town and came across it.    I parked the car on a nearby street to walk over and get some pictures.  Unfortunately, the neighborhood watchdog wasn't happy with me, and began barking furiously.  Fortunately he was on a long chain, and while he made lots of noise, wasn't anything to be reckoned with.

Anyone ever heard of the Great Lakes to Florida Highway?  (Route 21?)  Neither had we!

Don't we all wish the price of gas was still under 18 cents per gallon?   A fill up for $3?  Nice.

According to the Town of Wytheville website and others, the Great Lakes to Florida Highway Museum offers visitors a chance to look back at the days when the highway (Route 21) was the main north-south route from Ohio to Florida.   This gas station, which began as Texaco, was built in 1926 by H. R. Umberger.  About 1934, the station changed to Esso.  Candy and other snacks were added in the 1940's.  By the '50's, when the road was rerouted through Wytheville, bypassing the station, gas was phased out and it became a small grocery store.  Once I-77 opened, the business was basically finished.

It's hard to believe that this narrow then-country, now residential, road was once the main route south to Florida!  That speaks volumes about the amount of traffic, then versus now.

From the Unusual Names department, there is an airport along the interstate, and a sign for the nearby town:

Usually there is info about towns on the internet.  Not so much for Groseclose.  On Google Maps it appears that this one is "a wide spot in the road."  There are two towns by that name, one in Wythe County, one in Smyth County.   There used to be passenger train service to the one in Wythe County.   And the name is a family name...reportedly a Groseclose was instrumental in forming the Future Farmers of Virginia, and this went national, eventually becoming the Future Farmers of America.

So, as always, History is where you find it.

A sunset view, from outside our son's place!

During our visit, we did some local sightseeing, and happened to be in a nearby town when an excursion train came around the bend and stopped...lots of excitement, and at no extra cost!

We had a great time, and all too soon it was time to leave...


Monday, June 26, 2017

That was quite a day...

It started out with just a few errands to I threw on a woman's everyday capri outfit.  Like this...

First stop was a visit to a tire shop which does general car repairs too.  I had been there before, and was addressed as, and given preferential treatment as last time, as a woman.   When I walked in this time, there were four women seated and waiting, with kids in tow.  And a man in line waiting to be served.   He moved me ahead of him in line, saying "ladies first."   Fortunately my repair was simple (patching a nail puncture) so he wasn't delayed long because of his courtesy...

Second stop was at an auto parts store, with burly guys buying parts and non-burly guys perusing the shelves.  This was the store where the "guy in the skirt" worked at one time, but I haven't seen him in a while.   Nobody raised an eyebrow, including the elderly man at the cash register, who addressed me as "Ma'am."    And on the way out two clerks who had been on break (one male, one female) held the door open for me and thanked me for shopping there.  And then she said, "have a nice day, Ma'am."

At the shoe shop, the proprietor addressed me as "Ma'am" - just like he usually does.   And he did a small job for me right away, while the guy who came in with a similar job had to come back at noon.  "Thanks for stopping in again, Ma'am."

Last stop was the pharmacy.  The lady clerk used all appropriate female terms, and complimented my sandals

Needless to say, this was one of my best days in a while!

More later!

Friday, June 16, 2017


While driving home through central Michigan on our last excursion, we passed through the nice little town of Grayling...

In addition to a picturesque small town train station and museum (above, but not yet open for the season), we looked down the street and found an interesting establishment.  I did a double take, then a triple take, and yes, it reads exactly as follows:

Hmmm...that COULD have a VERY kinky connotation!

But in reality, it's descriptive of one wonderful sport:  canoeing, particularly since the Au Sable River flows through town.   Their emblem (as seen on the internet) is crossed oars, or "paddles."  Since it was too early, the place wasn't open - I'd have loved to go in and hear the full story of the name, first-hand.  Of course, in capris, a blousy tee shirt and flats, with a purse, it could have been an even bigger adventure!

It would also be interesting to learn the origin of the name of the Dead Bear Brewing Company elsewhere in town...interesting names, for both establishments.   (Sorry, no Dead Bear picture.)

Be safe...


Saturday, June 10, 2017

I'm soooooo confused...

With some future joint trips beginning to appear on the calendar, my wife took exception to my wearing these sandals on them:

Now, I've been wearing them during warmer weather since I bought them back in December of 2015, and out and about with her occasionally since then.   The only reason given was "they're too girly, men don't wear white shoes."  Apparently it's OK if I wear them around town, in her presence, or when I'm traveling alone.  

So - I will wear them when I can! They're too comfortable to give up!

Interestingly, my shorts (below) have been around for years.  The inseam is 3", so they qualify as "short shorts."  When I sit down, my legs are very much on display - there's no possible way to hide them.   And I've worn them in her presence.  

So far, not a peep!  (I'm not arguing, mind you!)  But to me, the sandals don't seem quite as feminine as my shorts which, being dark, might even be mistaken for a short skirt...

C'est la Vie!


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Retail Therapy and auto repair...

Monday I stopped in a nearby thrift shop...they were well stocked, but had nothing with a full elastic waist in my skirt size.  There was one heavier sweater-weight blouse I liked, but it was a 3X and it was immense.  So that didn't work, either.  :-(

On the internet at "FullBeauty" there's a black tiered skirt at a reasonable price, just about like my tan one shown in previous pictures, which should put me back in business with a good black skirt.  If it works, I can donate away the black knee length skirt that doesn't fit quite right any more. (And they also have a top I can use.)

I just need to find a reason to order them...then hope they fit.  Retail therapy is always a good thing!

That was all before the low tire pressure light lit up on our daily driver.   When it came on two weeks ago, I checked and filled all the tires.   Since it came on again this soon, I knew there was something wrong.  Stopped at the tire store on this side of the bridge, and (wearing capris and a tunic top, with my other cues) was addressed as a woman.  "We can take care of you right away, Ma'am."  
Sure enough, there it was - a long nail embedded in the tread.   

They repaired the puncture, re-balanced the tire, and I was on my way 20 minutes later.   Sometimes being a woman can have definite advantages.   (And it was fun talking about kids with the other women in the waiting room.  Obviously they accepted me as one of them.  No men there that day!)
Good news is that the tire is still holding air today...

In response to reader Pat's earlier question about skorts, here is a picture of the one I wear occasionally:

 It's very comfortable, but unfortunately a bit dated.  Newer ones (like the ones my wife wears) are full-skirted.   I also have a denim full-skirted skort, but it came with a torn pocket seam.  I'll get "trying it on for size" and "having it repaired" on my to do list!   

Thanks, Pat, for getting me moving on this little project.

That's all for now...


Monday, June 5, 2017

Another Journey - part 2 (final.)

Welcome back....
About halfway through our trip, I got a call from my credit card company.  Someone somewhere had hacked my credit card and was running up mail order charges on it, so it had to be cancelled and replaced.  The new card would be waiting when we get home.  We didn't want to risk using my other credit card that has the automated toll collection transponder on it (we hate to sit in lines on toll roads), so we used my wife's credit card, which had nothing else connected to it.   This was the beginning of a lot of fun (at least for me) - and confusion for the clerks at stores. 

I had to change the credit card I used to pay for our hotel reservations.  This was not a problem.  They accepted the one with my wife's name on it, from me.  I'm not sure what they were thinking when they saw the "other" female name.  My wife was always nearby, but they didn't ask to talk to her.  And the clerks said "thank you, Ma'am" as I finished with the changes.  This happened several times, till we got home. 

We went into a restaurant for dinner one night, and the twentysomething waitress was doing the "no gender-specific form of address shuffle."  I was in a stirrup pants outfit with my purse, etc..  But I wasn't disguising my voice.  When it was time to pay the bill, she asked "one check or two?"  "One, please" was my response.  When it came, I handed her the credit card in my wife's name.  The waitress returned with the credit card slip, and left the table.  My wife signed it, and when the waitress came back, I handed the signed bill back to the girl.  Who looked at it, looked at me,  then my wife, and gave us a cheery "Have a nice evening, ladies."   This happened a lot, and I loved it!

In conversation later that evening I jokingly said "I guess we're confusing a few people as to whether I'm a boy or girl."  She raised her eyebrows, and said:  "A few?  More like a lot.  Just about everyone."   She apparently took it in stride.  Amazing...but I won't read too much into it.  I don't think she's ready for me to wear skirts in public.   Someday, I hope.

While we were in Michigan, a crowned tooth broke off, way below the gum line.  A couple days ago, when I visited my dentist, he told me that it's so badly damaged, it has to be pulled.  I got an appointment for next week with the oral surgeon.  And I still need to get the daily driver aligned - it pulls to the left on the road.  It only takes a moment to end up in the opposite lane.  Not a good thing. 

Before long we plan to go visit the kids and our granddaughter. She's growing, and beginning to talk.  We're anxious to see her again!

For now, I'll leave you with a couple more pictures from the trip.   Following is one of the "mushroom houses of Charlevoix, MI":   Their style is fascinating...

A very unique design, to say the least! 
Do you enjoy an occasional beer?  "Hops" is an ingredient...  Ever wondered how they're grown?   We came across a hops farm:

 I'm told the outer fence is to keep the deer away...they like to nibble!

And lastly, a spectacular sunset from our hotel room on the trip home:

It was incredibly beautiful to watch the sky progress from flaming oranges and deep blues, into eventual darkness!  (Are those streaks in the sky "crepuscular rays?)

Another wonderful trip!

That's all for now,



Monday, May 29, 2017


And a safe and happy Memorial Day to each of my readers, with particular thanks to all who have served in the US Military...


Another journey...part 1.

Recently my wife and I drove my antique car to upper Michigan, to meet with friends and do some touring.   We had a fabulous time...

It was tough to decide what clothes to take.   Weather forecasts were "all over the place."   We both took sweaters and heavier coats, plus umbrellas and water resistant coats.  No shorts or sandals.  Both had a good supply of capris and long pants (she chose jeans and mine were stirrup pants.)  With all the extra things we took, it was good that the antique has a huge trunk!

There were a lot of sights to see, which were on our direct route to we did a little extra sightseeing.  First stop was in Huron, Ohio to see the lighthouse.   The original one was replaced with a more modern style, and automated.  It gave us a chance to stretch our legs, walk the breakwater part way and get as close as possible.

Not too far away was Marblehead (OH) - a traditional lighthouse.  I had been to town years before, but never got to the light.

And once in Michigan, we made it as far north as St. Ignace, on the Upper Peninsula.  Driving across the Big Mac (Mackinac) bridge to get there was an adventure.  But since we're used to driving the similar Chesapeake Bay Bridge, it wasn't a huge challenge.  The toll was a lot higher than the bridge back home, however.  And yes, the water was much deeper blue than I recall noting on any of my other travels to other places.  Hence the nickname for the area:  Bluewater Michigan.

On the way back to our hub hotel, we stopped at the lighthouse in Mackinaw City:

Notice the bridge behind it, and on the right side...

For those who wondered, with the exception of 2 days in the upper 70's or low 80's, the rest of the time the mercury (how's that for an old-time phrase?) was in the 60's during the day (or lower) and 40's at night.  In mid May, the trees were still budding, the forsythia was still in its springtime yellow dress, and the spring flowers were blooming.  The morning we left, the National Weather Service said the temperature was 33 degrees.  If you're from Michigan, you're used to it, but we aren't, and weren't.  I guess northerners are comfortable with two seasons - July 4th and Winter.   It gets cold enough in Maryland for us....but we really do have 4 distinct seasons most of the time!

For those who wondered, my outfits for most of the trip looked reminiscent of this:

I only wore capris two days - the warm ones. Local women wore them more often than I did.  But it was too chilly for me, even with my pantyhose!

In several places, we found signage alluding to the existence of the 45th Parallel, which is half way between the equator and the North Pole.  This is not something we had actively contemplated...though we both knew of its existence.  And following is the first explanatory signage we've seen with regard to it...wherever we traveled.

When you're out and about, you never know what you're going to find!

That's all for now.   Stay tuned for part 2!



Friday, May 26, 2017

Quickie: long-lasting lipstick

When on my recent train trip, I decided to use my longer-lasting Maybelline 14 hour lipstick all the time, since my outfits prevented me from projecting a male image.   This was the first time I'd worn it for such long periods of time, and unfortunately it didn't last anywhere near 14 hours.  

I'd apply it in the morning, and by "after lunch" there wasn't much color left.   And I noticed lipstick stains on water glasses at meals (which I didn't mind, but they shouldn't have been there.)   So I found myself applying it in the morning, then re-applying after lunch (a couple of times using a mirror from my purse, while still at the lunch table - that was fun), and again before dinner.   Unfortunately, it's not a good performance record, especially for "14 hour lipstick."

Do any of the "long lasting lipstick" products actually last longer  than 3 or 4 hours?   And do any of my readers use them?  If so, which ones work best?  I'd appreciate any ideas you may have...I want to be prepared in case a future opportunity to wear it arises!