Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you..."

The better half and I had occasion to be traveling by car recently, in the heat of a Pennsylvania spring.  We knew it would be hot from the weather forecast, and Mother Nature made sure to keep the car thermometer in the low 90's each day, once our cooler "introductory day" was over.

The better half still is having problems adjusting to some serious medical issues which befell her back in February, and it's taking a long time, plus frequent doctor visits.  Things have only very slowly been improving, and she has lost some weight.  These issues have sidelined progress toward what at-that-time seemed to be leading into wearing skirts. Because of her medical situation, I haven't pursued the matter.  Right now, it's impossible to predict when, or even if, progress will resume.  

However, because my wardrobe now consists exclusively of stirrup pants, capris, pantyhose, ballerinas, sandals, womens' tops and blouses, and nothing else, there has been no problem with my wearing them.  To banquets, parties, social activities, going out with friends, shopping, etc.  The better half's medical problems didn't seem to "rock that particular boat."

For the first and second days of our most recent excursion,  I wore everyday outfits - my stirrups, with polo top, pantyhose and ballerinas, along with my now-normal light makeup.   These caused a few "miss-identifications," but the better half seemed fairly comfortable with that - or at least nothing was said.  The most common reaction from civilians was to omit pronouns completely when referring to either of us.

Given summerlike weather, my stirrups turned out to be uncomfortably warm.  So, the third day, I started pulling on capris, my "summer pants" of choice, since my shorts had all been donated to charity some time back.  The better half shook her head "No" and tossed me a pair of her old shorts, which she explained no longer fit her, but should be ideal for me.   She apparently liked what she saw when I put them on, as they became mine.  And they were much cooler than capris, even though I was wearing pantyhose.

However, the leg openings are much bigger than I'm used to.  And whenever I sit, they ride way up, to provide a "thigh show" and occasionally expose bits of the dark reinforced panty of my pantyhose.  In the car, only the better half (and any passing truckers) can see my thighs (or the tops of my pantyhose), so it's not an issue.  But after a couple of her timely reminders outside the car, I started to pay attention to whether the problem has occurred. When it does,  I discreetly tug at the appropriate hem (sort of like a girl managing her skirt).  In any case, wearing shorts again on hot days is a treat - made even better because they're hand-me-downs from the better half.  For me, the comfort is certainly worth tolerating occasional hemline readjustments.

One of our stops that day was for lunch, at the Pine Creek Inn on route 6 in Galeton PA...out there in the middle of nowhere...and we enjoyed the rustic decor, as well as the food.  Yogi (the stuffed brown bear beside me) and I immediately became good friends...he stood guard while we enjoyed our meal.  The bright spots were that he was exceptionally quiet, and he wasn't I didn't have to buy him lunch for his effort. And the better half borrowed my camera, for a quick grab shot on the way out. 

Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you...

Lastly, for those of you who enjoy full size antique or historic trains, here's another one for you!

Restored NYC Hickory Creek observation car, from 20th Century Ltd, on Amtrak at Albany, NY

This beautifully-restored 1940's deluxe passenger car was found bringing up the rear of one of the Niagara Falls-to-NYC Empire Service trains last January.  I was not fortunate enough to be riding on board the Hickory Creek, but it certainly classes up any train to which it is attached!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Virginia Is For Lovers...and historians!

It seems like it may be a while between blogs...but nowadays, when I write, it's long-winded.  I'll apologize in advance for that!   So, anyhoo...grab the beverage of your choice and settle down for some reading...

At long last, it was time for Mandy to visit again…and also to exercise the antique car.  Off I went, in androgynous mode, to an out-of-town solo car show weekend, with Mandy’s clothes in the trunk.  Unfortunately I was off to a late start, which affected how much sightseeing I would get to do that day.

Enroute was a quick stop for lunch at a fast food restaurant (have stopped there before), with a one-occupant restroom, where Mandy exited in a skirt and blouse, as in the picture, with refreshed makeup.  Then it was on into Winchester, VA for some sightseeing.  First stop on my agenda was the Moore house, a Gothic Hudson River Revival Style dwelling originally built in 1854, which Confederate General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson was invited to call headquarters from November of 1861to March of1862, by Mr. Moore, the then-current owner.  After that, General Jackson left Winchester to begin his well-known Valley Campaign.

Mandy at Stonewall Jackson's headquarters in Winchester
The name Moore may ring a bell for those of you who are old enough to remember Mary Tyler Moore – as in the Mary Tyler Moore Show on the telly, years ago.  The docent mentioned that Mr. Moore was one of her ancestors.  And when restoration of the Moore house was under way, Ms. Moore paid for the remanufacture of the wall paper found in the study. 
The day of my visit, the Confederate flag was at half staff… it turns out they were celebrating the recent 150th anniversary of Jackson’s death.   I was the only visitor at that moment, so I was treated to a fabulous "personal" guided tour, and found it fascinating to learn all about the man and his history.

Mandy visiting the childhood home of Patsy Cline, who lived there from age 16 (about 1948) to 21 (about 1953.)

Afterward, I went directly to the house where Patsy Cline - born Virginia (Ginny) Patterson Hensley in 1932 - lived from age 16 to about 21, hoping to get there before it closed.  But unfortunately, with the late start, my timing was off - the last tour was finishing up as I arrived.   Thus, I had to settle for taking some pictures.  But I vowed to return again…"maybe even tomorrow!" 

Former G & M Music Shop, where Patsy made some recordings.  Property is now part of the Grace Lutheran Church.

Handley Regional Library, old town Winchester...

Next, I detoured to the pedestrian mall in Old Town, parked the car, and walked around, even as rain threatened.  A fascinating place to visit, with outside cafes, shops, etc. Next visit, I'd like to spend more time here, and perhaps if I'm feeling adventurous, try out one of the sidewalk cafe restaurants for dinner!  Enroute back to the car, I walked past some  colonial buildings (now law offices, et cetera), and couldn't miss the fabulous Handley Regional Library Building, built in spectacular Beaux Arts style.  The story behind it:  Judge John Handley of Scranton, Pennsylvania made his fortune in coal investments, and developed a relationship with Winchester and its Scotch-Irish heritage. In 1895 he donated a sum of money for construction of a library "for the free use of the people of the city of Winchester." Designed by J. Stewart Barney and Henry Otis Chapman of New York, work began in 1908 and was completed in 1913.  The library was a model for its time.  And it is still truly spectacular, with its "green" copper dome and roof.

Rain began to fall as I was about a half block from my car, so I didn’t get too drenched.  But that was my clue to head for the motel to check in.   And the process was absolutely a non-issue in my skirt and blouse… they asked for my ID, so they ‘knew the score” and just chose to ignore pronouns completely.  Once settled in, it was time to shave and reapply my makeup for dinner…

By the time I was done and back on the road,  clouds which had been building since I arrived at the motel finally opened up - the rain came down fast and heavy.  Crowds everywhere were taking all the close-to-the-door parking places at nicer restaurants (it turned out to be graduation weekend at one of the local colleges), and it was dark enough from the clouds that you could see folks inside waiting.  I finally elected to settle for a fast-food-drive-through-burger.  It was still raining (but a bit less intensely) when I got back to the room with my delicious (?) dinner.  What a disappointment!  However, I was too hungry to wait till later to eat, and - what if the rain was still falling at that point in time?

Former B & O Passenger Station, Kent St., Winchester VA...

Saturday found me in capri pants, a sleeveless top and flats, which I wore to the car show.  I took a few minutes before the show, to locate the former Baltimore and Ohio railroad station in town. (These trips usually involve some sort of railroad theme, somewhere along the line!) While the Winchester station still exists, there are no passenger trains in town, so it's used by the railroad as office and storage space.

There was off-and-on drizzle at the show all morning, then the sun came out after lunch.  However, as the temperature rose, cumulus clouds started building in the humid air, and looking rather ominous.  Show sponsors ended the festivities a bit ahead of schedule, due to the likelihood of impending rain.  Since I had the chance, I headed back to the room to shave and reapply makeup.  Enroute, the heavens opened up again, though only for about 5 minutes, ending before I reached the motel driveway.  

Gaunt Drug Store,  where Patsy Cline worked as a  teenager, making soda treats for her customers.

At the motel, Mandy re-appeared, as I changed back into a skirt and blouse for another try at getting into the Patsy Cline house.  This time, my attempt was successful, but just barely.  The final tour of the day had started a few minutes before my arrival.  The docent took pity on the lady in the old blue car, who arrived late!  He mentioned that he recognized me from my photographic adventures yesterday (how could he have missed me, with the tripod set up out front?)   That apparently was his motivation in letting me join.   So, I got my tour, along with about 8 other folks (mostly women) of middle age.  I was the oldest one there…and was able to get the senior discount…a big advantage to being retired!

He really enjoyed his job, telling us about the house, which started out as a 2 room log cabin, and was added on to over the years.  The visitors all enjoyed the part about his being alone in the house, and hearing noises, including footsteps and interior room doors actually slamming shut on their own – could it be paranormal activity?   

It was interesting to see where and how the family lived at that point in Patsy's life, and to hear some of the stories he was able to relate.  And since I got there late, he stayed a few minutes after the tour to cover the points I missed before I arrived.  If you ever get to town, you might want to check it out…even if you're not a Patsy Cline fan, it's well worth the visit, just for the period furnishings and nostalgia about life in that era.

Afterward, he helped me with directions to locate Gaunt’s Drug Store, where Patsy worked as a teenager, making soda treats for her customers at the fountain.  While the drug store was closed for the day when I arrived, the docent at the Patsy Cline mentioned that the soda fountain was still there, unused, because it had become part of a closed-off storeroom due to a remodeling project. 

Then it was off to dinner, which was actually at a real restaurant this time.  When I present as a woman, I always enjoy being treated as one (even though I know I often don’t pass well), and the server did a great job.  Which resulted in a big tip for her…hope that's an incentive to give the next girl she serves, good service, too!

 Girls in skirts sometimes have to clean cars, too!

Then I went back to my room, to return to androgynous mode so I could listen in on the awards presentation at a nearby hotel, and discover if my car earned a trophy… 

Before I left, and while I was dusting off the car, I noticed nearby male voices out in the parking lot.  Turned out it was a group of clean-cut-looking motorcyclists, all who knew each other and were guests at the motel, sitting out on the sidewalk relaxing after their day on the road.  A few minutes later, when I emerged from my room, to get into the car, they addressed me as “Ma’am,” apologized for the noise, and asked me questions about the car, which I answered, but quickly, as I had to get going.  I guess they were more interested in the car, than in me…that's a good thing.

 At the end of the this case, was a trophy!

And, finally with no rain falling, I turned the corner in the motel parking lot.  And there it was, a beautiful of the brightest I’ve seen in years.  By the time I stopped the car, grabbed the camera and started taking pix, it had begun to fade, but it truly was beautiful.  The pictures I took really don't do it justice...

Incidentally, yes, the car received a trophy that night, which now joins the others on display…

Radio Station WiNC in Winchester, in whose studios Patsy Cline made her first radio appearance, and where she performed many times.   Mandy's car is in front...

On the road for home the next morning, I made a short stop at radio station WINC, the station on which Patsy made her first radio appearance, as well as many subsequent performances.  Somehow, I think it's changed its appearance a lot since then, but at least the station is still around... 

Now for a little observation - something about myself that I’ve noticed from this trip (and I suspect it may be a big plus for Mandy, going forward.) 

I've finally progressed to where I can wander out amongst the public, with my legs on display in a skirt, nylons and flats, and actually be concentrating on whatever it is that I’m doing –  instead of on what I’m wearing and staring into store windows at my own reflection,  That’s a refreshingly new attribute, and one that has sorely needed, to look a bit more like "just a girl out-and-about."

Women often seem friendlier (with smiles and occasionally light chat) when I’m in a skirt, blouse and flats, than even when I’m in stirrup pants and a top.  Maybe I’m “passing” more often than I think I am (which I realize is extremely doubtful).  Or,  because I’m in a skirt, the ladies don’t feel threatened, and just accept me as “one of them,” while men mostly ignore me.  I tend to think it’s more likely the latter…

This summer should be a real treat, as I’m planning several more opportunities to be wearing skirts.