Sunday, December 29, 2013

Three Islands, new Game, and a Pedicure

Our son, who lives in the Mid-west, spent Christmas week with us. We had a great time, and a very good holiday with him.  The weather was perfect, and there were no travel problems.

One day after Christmas, we were preparing to go out and about, and my wife decided that since I was carrying my new purse, she wouldn't need to take hers along.  She gave me her driver's license and house key to carry for her.  "That way you get to deal with everything today."   Later, I heard a couple of comments about how nice it was to not have to worry about her purse.   Will it happen again?  Time will tell.

The three of us took a long drive to Hoopers Island, in reality a three-island chain (two of which are reachable by auto - the bridge to the third washed out in the 1930's and it is uninhabited), situated between the Honga River and the Chesapeake Bay, in Dorchester County, MD.  Dating back to the mid-seventeenth century, Henry Hooper found it a good place for a tobacco plantation.

The islands lose about 24 acres of land a year to erosion and rising water levels.  And over the years, the focus has changed from agriculture to the fishing industry.  That was fine, and provided a good living for the hardy residents, until the latter half of the 20th century, when pollution as well as rising water levels caused a decline in productivity.

The islands are still very much nautical -  boats and 4WD vehicles are everywhere.  Marshes, reeds and standing water are in almost every low-lying spot, and there are a number of abandoned buildings, probably due to lack of jobs and/or money.   The residents seem very friendly - everyone waves at you, whether they know you or not.  Traffic (the bane of my existence) was nil, a wonderful treat on a busy after-Christmas shopping day.  (Of course, there aren't a lot of commercial establishments out there...)

 Below are a few pictures...

 The causeway to Hooper's Island

 Standing water...

The local hardware store...certainly not a lot of business to be had...

We had just been seated for lunch at the restaurant en route home, when an elderly man and his daughter came in and were ushered to the next booth.  As he approached, he could plainly see our son from the back (with his long hair tied in a ponytail), as well as both my wife and long-nailed-and-long-haired androgynous me, from the front.  After greeting the three of us "Merry Christmas ladies" he asked us if we had a good Holiday.  Fortunately, my wife spoke for all of us, responded that we had, and wished him a Happy New Year as he sat down.  Very friendly sort...and nary a comment from either of my dining companions, who had much more important things to talk about.  Waitstaff simply omitted any gender-identifying terms...oh, well!  At least I didn't get that un-wanted "Sir-prise."

After arriving home, our son pulled out his box containing the board game Settlers of Catan, which he and his girlfriend have been playing a lot. We'd never heard of it, but he helped us learn the rules, and yours truly ended up being the winner for the day.  It was fun!  Wonder if this is one of the games played at "Games Nights" some of the girls on here attend? 

And Saturday, after our son had headed home, I went to the nail salon for my shellac pedicure.  Women were everywhere - all 4 pedi chairs were full - three of us women, and one little girl getting her kiddie pedicure (she was SO excited to be just like the big girls!)  The techs took care of us all, with no problems.  It was wonderful to be accepted - even the little girl was fine with my being stares or anything inappropriate.  She was perfectly behaved.  (Maybe she "miss-identified" me?)  And I enjoyed being included in the discussion about Nantucket as a wonderful vacation spot. (Now I want to visit there someday.)

When I asked the lady two chairs down from me (mother of the little girl) why she had chosen 5 bottles of different red nail polishes, she explained that she wanted the tech to paint one nail on one hand with each color before she made her final decision. But subsequently her plan collapsed, when her little girl told her which color would be best. The lady simply told the tech to just go ahead and follow her daughter's advice.

The newest tech (working at the adjacent chair) looked really cute wearing her knee-length dress in a dark floral pattern, over black tights (unusual attire, in that pants are their usual uniform.)  It was a delightful little outfit, something I'd certainly wear if I owned it...   But it's tough for techs doing a pedicure to remain perfectly modest all the time while wearing a dress or skirt - at least occasionally it's more comfortable to sit with their legs apart. I'd made no effort to hide my plainly-visible french acrylic nails.  Obviously, she didn't consider me (sitting in the adjacent chair) to be "mixed company."  Why would she?  Guys don't have long hair and long french acrylic fingernails!  Women are all too familiar with the many benefits (and yes, even a couple of hazards) from wearing dresses.  And, anyhow, guys certainly wouldn't be getting their toe nails "prettied up." 

I respectfully didn't look at her during my pedicure, only up at the telly on the wall...  When it was time to get up from my chair, there was no way to avoid looking down - I had to lower my pant legs and get my silver-nailed feet into the stirrups, then slip into my flats.  She obviously felt no need to close her legs, as her tights helped protect her modesty.  She continued working on her client, only looking up at me to smile and wish me a  "Happy New Year, Ma'am" as I left.   And yes, I love being "a member of their team!"

Note to cold and windy weather, wear my tights (black, or maybe tan, depending on the outfit) under my skirts and it will help - particularly in a "Marilyn Monroe" moment!

Ladies, it's been a fun week.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Quickie - Ferroequinology again...and my new shoes.

Found a few minutes this morning before everyone is up, for a quick post.   Hope everyone has finished their holiday shopping...

Ferroequinology time:  The first picture is of an excursion train behind two restored E-unit diesel locomotives, on a former PRR line, parked in the town of Renovo, PA in October of 2006.  We were passengers on this train, which was a fall foliage special.  It brought us to the town's Flaming Foliage festival and parade.  Notice all the locals with their chairs, mingling with passengers who came in on the train.   Everyone had a great time, and yours truly enjoyed the train ride!

Below are a couple of pictures from September of 2002, on the Stewartstown Railroad.  In the first picture, the train was heading west toward New Freedom, PA (the current location of "Steam into History" and their replica of an antique steam train).  You can see my prior post on "Steam into History" including pictures, in "Girl time again..." which was posted last October 10.  The second picture is upon arrival at the interchange with PRR's Northern Central in New Freedom.  The PRR depot is in the background.

Unfortunately the owner of the SRR passed away, and the railroad ceased operating in 2004.  Then the property became embroiled in an estate issue over a gift, or loan (depending on who you talked with) of a substantial amount of money, and that battle dragged on into the present.  With the railroad currently dormant, the little center-cab diesel is being used as a spare locomotive by "Steam into History."

Per the Stewartstown website, it is said that the estate issues has been settled, paving the way for  renewed rail operations in 2014.  No wonder they call it "The railroad that refuses to die."  But there remains a lot of work to be done first...

Once they begin operating again, the SRR will be high on my short list of "must see properties."

Our son is home for Christmas - we picked him up at the airport yesterday.  It's wonderful to see him again, and he started to bring us up to date on his girlfriend.  That pretty much occupied most of the talk on Monday.

But one thing I noticed as we were walking out of the restaurant where the three of us grabbed a quick lunch - a woman alone, wearing the same Clarks "Recent Duchess" flats as I was, in the exact same color.  She glanced down at my feet, and up at my face, where our eyes met and we both smiled at each other, just like two women.  My family was ahead of me, so they didn't notice.  For some odd reason, I thought this would only happen if I was wearing true ballet flats - you know, the ones with cute little bows on the vamps.  (That's a style which has so far eluded me, because they generally don't fit me well.)  I obviously was wrong!

My exact shoes have been sold on the shopping channel, and now, so soon after buying them, I've met a woman wearing them.  It's inevitable - one of these days a woman and I are going to end up reviewing the merits and comfort of our identical shoes.  I can only hope that it happens when I'm alone...for obvious wifely reasons.

Happy Holidays...


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Quickie - Lunch out, and a Holiday Party

Happy Winter - though in Maryland, the temperatures in the upper 60's/low 70's Saturday belie the calendar date, and Sunday may be even warmer if the rain stays away!  No white Christmas here, they say!

At lunch Friday, we ate at a nice restaurant about 20 miles from home, which is often frequented by local ladies for their solo and group lunches. 

Of the 25 diners present, there were 4 men (including myself), and they were with their ladies   All the rest of the diners were female.  I was in androgynous mode, and was hoping to "not" receive a hearty "Sir-prise."   That particular hope was fully realized...nary a "Sir"was spoken.  However, both the hostess and server chose to omit "Sir" or "Ma'am" when dealing with both of us.   The server asked if we wanted one check or two,  took my order first, and at the end of the meal, put our check in-between us...all as though we were two ladies sharing a lunchtime.   It's the first time my wife, who was wearing what looked like men's slacks but otherwise  recognizable as female, wasn't addressed as "Ma'am." Very strange...though my wife said nothing about it.   If she noticed,  I may find out her opinion later...

But we probably won't be returning there...

As for my new purse, it works very well and was a good choice.  My wife told me that it looks comfortable and easy to carry, a good casual purse.  I look forward to many travels with it in the future...what more can I say?

A bunch of folks in our neighborhood pulled together a party at a local venue Saturday night, with a DJ who was spinning the real thing - old vinyl 45's of music from the 50's and 60's.   Most of us were of the age group to be able to enjoy it, and there was even dancing.  I can't begin to guess how many years it's been since we've been out dancing to 50's music...and it was a definitely a first, particularly for me in androgynous mode - shoulder-strap wallet purse, stirrup pants, tights, women's polo and my new flats.  Nobody gave my attire so much as a second ideal situation. 

At one point, the neighbor lady from a few doors down the street moved shoulder-to-shoulder with me, and we started singing some of the lyrics together.  This was in spite of the facts that:  it wasn't karaoke; we could only be heard for a few feet around us; and we didn't have the little screen with the bouncing ball to guide us.  We both knew the words, and didn't sound half bad least my wife and her husband didn't tell us to stop embarrassing them (or ourselves).   (Or maybe they both realized it would be futile?)

So the next time there's a karaoke night, N and I promised we'll be singing a duet...  If we end up making total fools of ourselves, at least we'll be doing it together! (And someone else can share the spotlight with me, since it'll be my first time.)  Chances are that everyone will be "feeling no pain" anyway, so it won't really matter.  And speaking of embarrassing themselves, last night some of the folks were in the process of doing exactly that, trying to do the limbo...  I stayed away from that circus!

But everyone definitely had a good time!

Our son will arrive home Monday for the holiday week,  thus you won't find me on line very much for a while.  Here's hoping that everyone has a Happy Holiday Season...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Quickie - my new purse!

It's taken a lot of looking, but as of today, I finally have another new purse to carry.  It's a bit smaller than my others, and has a much thinner and more feminine strap, but everything fits...   And the best part is - my wife is OK with it.  That's an accomplishment.

Lots of pockets, and I actually can hear my phone ring with this purse!

A couple of pictures of the purse are above, and a couple with me wearing one of my house dresses.  I haven't worn these dresses away from home yet, but neighbors may have seen me looking like this, while bringing packages in from the car, doing things in the garage, or working in the backyard on occasion.

Not sure if a winter outfit like this would be suitable to wear on the street.  What do you ladies think?  Or, maybe a jumper dress with turtleneck blouse (instead of the heavy sweater), taupe pantyhose instead of tights, and my black Mary Janes?  In the winter, a sweater could be worn over the jumper, if needed.  In warmer weather, a light t-shirt underneath would be perfect, or, better yet, why not just go sleeveless?  Bare legs and arms under a cool jumper, with flip-flops displaying a fresh pedicure, not only look totally feminine, and in addition, they announce the girl's presence everywhere she walks....flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop.  

What do you think?  Should I be wearing a jumper outfit out-and-about?

 My Pink and White nails certainly stand out against my black dress...

The only thing about wearing jumpers...once I've made myself up in the morning and dressed, my jumper is what I'll be wearing all day, until returning to a safe place to change that evening.  There is absolutely no "safety factor" of being able to slip out of it in the car, and go back to androgynous mode, like I can with a skirt and heels.  And no chance of getting away with using men's restrooms. But maybe that's just what the doctor ordered...and given the right circumstances, I could handle it.  That is, if my outfit options above are basically presentable.

I'll be carrying my new purse in public tomorrow for the first time (in androgynous mode), and my wife and I will go out for lunch.  I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Quickie - Nail Time and a holiday visitor...

Yesterday was another appointment for my acrylic fingernails to be filled.

Judy was pleased with the way they've grown since my last fill (at which she decided to shorten them - her decision.)  I really didn't object...because even the little she removed was enough to let me use my credit card at the gas station without a latex exam glove.  "But now,  just fills for you.  Your nails are finally getting long enough to look pretty." 


Overall now, 1" long.  The goal for least 1-1/4".  Only about 5/16" to go!

"You'll soon start noticing changes in the way you have to use your hands to do things.  But that happens to every woman with long nails, and you'll adapt too.   Meanwhile, I'll keep advancing you toward the goal of a minimum of 1-1/4" overall length, with up to 5/8" of clean, bright white on the tips.  Since your clothes don't have pockets to keep your hands in, you won't be able to hide your nails.  Even if you paint them all one color (bright red is your best color, in case you're interested), they're still going to be very long.   So, you're going to have ladies (and even a few men) make a fuss over them.  Everyone will agree that they look professional, attractive, and very feminine."

I didn't tell her that I'm already enjoying that benefit - many female cashiers have very positive comments, even when the wife and I are out-and-about together.  (Though the wife doesn't get manicures, she's been letting hers grow longer lately...can't imagine why???)  As my nails lengthen, and Judy makes my white ends proportionally bigger, comments should increase, which is fine with me.   I just hope any comments from guys happen when I'm alone - I tend to blush like a shy schoolgirl, and don't need that around the wife.

I wonder about that credit-card-in-the-gas-pump issue from a while back...will I eventually need to carry a needle-nose plier in my purse?   Maybe I'm going to need a bigger, not smaller, purse?  Speaking of purses, I'm in the market for a new one....and girls just love to shop!  Will post a pic when I get one...

Christmas is just around the corner.  The house is decorated, and the lights are lit.  Our son will be coming home for a visit most of next week.  We're looking forward to his stay, since it's been a once-or-twice-a-year thing for several years now due to his job...  (And yes, he knows about my androgynous style.)  We always have a good time when he comes home...even if there is a short list of things we need done (mostly computer-related.)

Happy Holidays to you all...


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Quickie: Follow-up to "It Happened..."

Several weeks ago, our neighbors - the ones who may (or may not) have noticed my skirt when we met at the restaurant (see prior post from November 13 titled "It Happened...") invited us to an Army/Navy football party at their place.  Without any other plans, we accepted their invitation.  But, I began to silently wonder (or maybe worry is a better word) whether there was a reason or motive behind why they "thought of us..."

The invitation told us that the colors of the day were navy blue and gold...and that all would be expected to cheer on the Navy.  (He's an ex-Navy retiree.) This was fine with us...the Navy typically wins anyway, and since Annapolis isn't all that far away, why not cheer on the home team?  (And yes, they won again this year...)

Our area was not in the "snow area" of the winter storm affecting so many folks on game day.  I stepped into my navy blue stirrup pants, black tights, a gold polo shirt, and my still-new-looking women's flats.  The better half also had a navy-and-gold outfit, but her pants were less feminine than mine.  We finished dressing as the pre-game began.  I grabbed my purse and we walked over to the neighbors' house, where we were welcomed into a rather small group - two other couples we knew only casually, the neighbors, and ourselves.   

It was actually a wonderful get-acquainted party.  I ended up talking with everyone, but as usual, women more than men, who tended to watch the game while we girls chatted.  K (his wife) talked to me about the restaurant being one of their favorites and we both discussed how we learned about it...  T wanted to know more about our vacation.  And N wanted to know when and from where I retired. There was no mention of my skirt outfit the night "It Happened", by either K, or E (her husband.)  And fortunately, there was no hint whatsoever that the topic was "the elephant in the room."  They actually may not have seen it...

The take-away from this issue is: that I need to be selective of where I go in a skirt, and now, to always check my itinerary against the bus tour schedule in our own area before planning an outing.  Normally, National Harbor would have been an extremely safe venue, as far away as it is, because it's Convention-oriented and the only people we saw that we knew were 40 neighbors from the bus tour.  Plus the one so-very-obvious caveat:  I need to stay away from theaters (which is not a problem) and that one particular restaurant!  

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

National Harbor...

Time for the current version of the pre-holiday overnight sightseeing jaunt the wife and I take each year.  This year, we put a visit to the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center on the Potomac, at National Harbor in Maryland, in our plans.

Yes, it's immense, and upscale.  (When the casino goes in "somewhere down there", it should be world-class.)  Since everything is pricey, we've been waiting for a "deal" to show up, covering a time frame when we could enjoy it.  Several months ago, it did - mid week, between Turkey Day and Christmas.  So she made our reservations.

Enroute, traffic was - well, not so good.  Yours truly hates I-95 and I-495 to begin with, and traffic reports were for lots of it.  (Meg probably understands the futility of driving on them.)  So we headed for National Harbor from the east, after traveling the scenic route through the countryside...

Workmen at closed-for-the-season Cove Point Lighthouse who were driving in, accommodated the "lady who wanted a picture without the gate in the way" by leaving the gate open long enough for me to snap a couple of pics.

Finally, after a lunch visit to Solomon's Island, and then a long ride on Maryland 5/US 301 (but the reward was - only a few miles on I-495), we were there.  The hotel entry driveway was a complete zoo.  Door attendants and valets kept telling me "Lady, please pull your car up there" and moving me out of the way, while the better half checked in.  Finally the better half came back, room keys in hand, and we were on our way to the self-park lot...  (I don't like giving the car keys to a valet.)

The Atrium at the Gaylord is certainly huge, not the biggest I've seen but right up there, in the top 5.

And they were presenting a seasonal show called "Ice!"   It features predominantly holiday-themed ice sculptures, all displayed in a large, insulated tent kept at 9 degrees Fahrenheit.  A bit brisk, to be sure, but they provided parkas so nobody would freeze.  The Statue of Liberty wearing a sweater was one of the cutest of the New York-themed displays.  (Being from NYC, Marian may appreciate that!)

As we walked around, some of our neighbors  recognized us (my long hair apparently stands out in a crowd), and came over to talk.  Turns out that there was a day-trip bus from our town that day, and about 40 ladies from our neighborhood were wandering around the joint...good thing I wasn't wearing a skirt this time!

The better half noted (and the girls later confirmed) that that the entire group was female, and they all came down on the bus.  They plan to do this again next year, and specifically invited us to come along..."Yes, you too, sweetie!")  Guess I'll be their honorary "queen for a day."  The better half wants to plan on us going.  But you can bet that even if she agreed to my wearing a dress, (which she won't), my attire would have to be jean or stirrup leggings and flats or Keds - none of the girls from our area wore a dress, skirt or high heels.  I'll want to look as much like them as possible, so I blend in!

Holiday decorations were extensive, and pretty - a huge suspended Christmas Tree, and lots of lights, including sparkling strands hung from the ceiling, with twinkling lights therein to simulate snow falling.  (We were told that at times they actually dropped simulated snow, but we missed that display.)  The kiddies had a kiddie train to ride, and there were lots of other activities for folks to partake of...a very nice (if not inexpensive) day out for those so inclined!

They even provided a small-scale "dancing waters" show, certainly NOT on the scale of the Bellagio in Vegas but nice nonetheless...   And, once the sun set, the atrium was ablaze with holiday lights and music. 


We took our evening meal at one of the restaurants in the hotel.  I was dressed androgynously, and wearing a fresh spray of CK Obsession for women as my perfume (yes, the better half knows I like Obsession.)   The ladies (in short skirts and high heels) at the desk by the door addressed us appropriately, and led us to our table.

Then the waiter appeared...and I got the dreaded 'Sir-prise."  You win some, you lose some.  In fairness, he couldn't  see my purse, shoes or nails - it was quite dark in there (I even had to discreetly get my flashlight out of my purse to check the menu.)  But as I've said before, my feminine presentation (including voice) still needs a lot of work, thus I'm just happy to be addressed as a woman whenever it occurs.   And fortunately, it's more often than not.

We'd previously checked prices and pre-planned our meals before we went in...  As you might expect, everything was Ala Carte,  and every bit as upscale as the rest of the venue.   Want a New York Strip steak or the like?  $48 to $55.  Want an appetizer? Add $10 and up. Want a salad?  Add $10 and up.  Want a veggie?  Add $8.   Want a dessert?  Add $12.  (The flat-iron steak with potatoes was not as big or glamorous, but more reasonably priced, and delicious - we both enjoyed our meal.)

The five people at the next table went whole-hog, including one bottle of fancy wine for the ladies (which they put a serious dent in before we finished up) and two rounds of drinks made with Makers Mark whisky (for each of the guys.)   Since they had drinks, appetizers, steaks, salads, and veggies, plus dessert, their tab was most likely upwards of $500 for the 5 of them.  We cringed at paying $4 each for our ginger ales and $38 each for our meals.  But the atmosphere was worth it.  No way we could afford a meal like theirs, at least not unless someone else was paying...

During daylight hours, we hiked around town a bit.  Very nice...very new. For warmer weather, there's a very inviting walkway along the Potomac.  And even the Outlet Stores nearby were attractive and new.  The following pix should give you an idea about the downtown area...

Next time we visit, we may try the Cadillac Ranch for a meal....wonder if there are any antique cars inside???

As we were getting ready to leave, the better half grudgingly agreed to take the following picture, to save me from having to bring out the tripod...

And then it was a long drive home, using my least-favored I-95/I-495 (among others).  Wouldn't you know, we even got stuck in a small jam-up that cost us about 20 minutes.  I guess we were quite fortunate that it wasn't worse!

I hope that's the last I'll see of my least-favorite highway for a while...

Happy Holidays, everyone.