Sunday, December 28, 2014

Another first....and more de-construction.

Although my wife and I don't drink, I tasted some really delicious local holiday spiced wine at a recent party, and on the way to visit my mother, stopped at a convenient local liquor store to buy some.  As I got out of the car, I noticed two men heavily laden with their holiday purchases (apparently set for one huge party!)

Since I could move quicker than they, as I carried only my purse, I hurried to the door and opened it for them.  "Thanks so much, honey, you saved the day!"  And the other said "Miss, I really can't thank you enough..."  They really appreciated a lady holding the door for them, and that lady truly enjoyed every second of their appreciation! (No, I wasn't even wearing a skirt, or makeup.)  Though I'm used to typically being referred to as "dear, sweetie, lady, Miss, Ma'am, and so on" I can't remember being referred to as "Honey" previously (except by my wife, and she isn't saying it because I'm feminine)...  Another first.

The store was out of the spiced wine I I left empty handed. At least I have a bottle of similar wine in reserve at'll be gone before the holidays are over.

When we went out to dinner on Friday night, at a local pub, we were addressed as "folks" initially by the female greeter.  But the server eventually changed over to"ladies"- a first.  It's often the other way around - "Ladies" changes to "folks." I'll interpret that as a positive thing...especially since it's local, and the locals are generally "dyed-in-the-wool" traditional, conservative Republicans.

On a more somber note, that restaurant and motel shown in an earlier post (and some surrounding houses as well) have now been largely demolished, to make way for the convenience store and gas station.  Today all that remained was one short rear wall...and a huge pile of rubble that kept them unable to reach the wall conveniently.   It, too, will soon fall!

 Last week...still there, but its days were numbered - with single digits!

  Today:  Rubble

Only one back wall will likely fall this coming week.  Thanks for the Memories!

Following is a picture of that sadly-confused little forsythia plant I mentioned in a prior post, which is trying its hardest to produce a few flowers in the relatively warm weather we've been having.  That effort is in spite of the fact winter has yet to arrive.

Will it ever be in for a big surprise one of these days, when winter begins on the Delmarva!!!  However,  I've been noticing a lot of geese flying NORTH, not south.  So, maybe they're combined indications that winter is over already?  Our checkbook would like that...a short winter would be fabulous - and save a fortune on fuel bills!

This will likely be my last post for the year 2014...wishing my readers and friends a very safe and Happy New Year.  Bring on the "bubbly"!



Monday, December 22, 2014

New Dress...for my January trip. Need some advice...

At a party last weekend, I ran into the lovely woman who liked my necklace at another party a few weeks ago...and she fingered it again this time, while wondering when I'd wear the bracelet.  I told her that I might wear it, or might not, and her words were "you should!"  For some odd reason I suspect that might get me a dose of my wife's "stink eye"!

I bought a new dress on line, a jumper that actually had a chance of fitting.  A couple of the ones I tried on in the thrift shop were just too tight.   This one is a bit too loose, but it's my regular size.  I don't know whether I should try to have it taken in. That locks me into a size, and if they don't get it right, it might not feel comfortable any more.   What do you ladies think?   Acknowledge the fact that I'm a big girl and leave it as is?  Try taking it to a seamstress to make it a bit smaller?  Or would a belt work OK?  If so, what style?

Any thoughts on the topic would be appreciated...

Happy Holidays to each of you reading this!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

A motel torn down, for "progress..."

This has been a busy week, but rather quiet on the gender front.

My most exciting moments have been experienced in androgynous mode, as a part of daily business.  Last week, when leaving Mom's nursing home, a vehicle stopped beside me.  That happens occasionally in the parking lot, with people looking for a parking place.  "Ma'am?  Ma'am?  Excuse me..."  I looked into the car and a guy was trying to obtain the address of the nursing home, to be sure he had the right place....and I was able to confirm he'd found it.  "Thank you, Ma'am."

It was my week for a fill.  The salon wasn't excessively crowded, and I was addressed as "Miss Mandy" by the techs.  After J was done with me, she asked if I'd help hang a picture.  Which I was happy to do, within my time constraints.  She was happy to have someone show her how to do it...

And on Wednesday I had to run a model train engine over the bridge to the repair shop.  I bribed my wife to go along, with a lunch date at her favorite restaurant on the other side.   We were seated as "ladies" and addressed as such by the male server  When time for the check came, he put it between us.  The clerk saw me look over the bill, so when he brought it back after running the c/c,  he gave it to me.  But it was my wife's credit card, and she signed (she gets a cashback bonus on her charges.)  Guess he was convinced that I paid the bill.

On Friday I visited the computer store at the mall, due to problems with an operating system upgrade.  (That helped a lot, but I'm still trying to figure everything out.)   It's my first time to do an upgrade.  But after all the issues, it certainly will be my last...

As usual I was in androgynous mode, but this time wore light makeup and lipstick, and had used a different product on my hair, giving it more fullness and "flow."  The hucksters at the booths in the center of the aisle were out in full force, trying to entice women to buy things.  I simply say "no thanks" to them, and keep going...I don't need to spend money on trifles.  But I admit to perking up my ears as an attractive woman accosted me (and I noticed because we were glancing at each other as she spoke):  "Beautiful lady, would you like a sample of...."  I thought quickly, but decided I'd give the usual answer, so as to leave her guessing at my real gender...   I wished her a Happy Holiday season, in as femme a voice as I could muster... and she returned the greeting.  I sure wish I could be going out en femme, but right now it just isn't convenient!

If you recall, I previously (Tuesday, December 9) provided some pictures of a mom-and-pop motel and restaurant which are being razed to make way for yet another convenience store and gas station.  Heavy equipment is rolling now, and nearby chain motels are most likely cheering on the progress! 

 Most of the far wing has met its fate, battered furniture and all, as of last Wednesday.  The rest of the motel awaits its destruction.

 As of Friday morning, the remaining motel wing has succumbed to the wreckers.

The "No Vacancy" sign will never again signify a "full house." as it surely did for many nights in those less stressful and more genteel times on US 50...   Instead, loiterers will hang around the convenience store, to periodically be "shooed away" by State Troopers...

 Sad indeed, but a sign of the times...

My next pictures will probably show the restaurant has been reduced to a pile of rubble.

More later,


Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Only on Halloween..."

With the holidays almost upon us, we are busy as can be here.

Holiday decorating is late this year, due to our recent visit to our son's new place down south, over Thanksgiving.  We're playing catch-up ball.  So we didn't put up 100 per cent of the old decorations.  There will be time for that next year, when the kids come home - they'll be with his fiance's family this year, since her mom and dad are scheduled off.  But her parents have both been told that they will be on duty next year (medical field), so the kids will plan to come visit us instead.

Mom had been dealing fairly well with her Alzheimer's issues over the past few months.  But she experienced a setback, which caused problems starting a few days before the end of our trip.  And it remains an issue today.  This major disorientation (resulting in antagonizing staff and interpreting me as her brother) was not unexpected.  It's a part of the course of the disease.   I just wish visits with her could revert to being more the ones as recent as last month.  Yet, I'm realistic enough to know that they may never again be that good, particularly if this turns out to be the beginning of her "slippery slope" downhill.

It's tough for me to deal with, as well as a challenge for the staff at the nursing home.  It'll undoubtedly result in a medication adjustment, in preparation for my upcoming trip next January.   The trip, and the medication adjustment, are both in the works already.    Staff tells me that it's likely she will face this same issue, going forward.  Unfortunately, that's the way things always work.

While Mom was busily identifying me as her brother, the thought crossed my mind that, with my long hair, if I showed up in a skirt right now, like I did about five weeks ago on Halloween, she might actually think I'm her sister (who also had long hair, and passed away 30 years ago).   No, I'm not actually going to try for that...

But, one of the female staffers got a big chuckle when Mom needed help in the potty as I arrived on the scene last Friday.   I initially asked (from the hall outside her room) if she needed some help, and her answer was "Are you a girl?"  The words which fell out of my mouth were: "Only on Halloween," said with a VERY straight face.

You may recall my Halloween outfit from prior posts:

Here's what I wore on Halloween.  Taken in Mom's room at the nursing home.  Yes, it's a skirt, not shorts or culottes!   And yes, you've seen this pic before!

Here's the same outfit, taken in a different location, with a better view of my skirt.

That bit of impromptu levity was completely lost on Mom, as you might expect.  BUT, the female staffer who had appeared out of nowhere as I gave my now-famous answer, and who knew I had been dressed as a girl on Halloween,  struggled to avoid bursting out laughing.  I guess even in the most serious of situations, there can be an occasional glimmer of humor...

More later...


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"It's my mother's"....and another business "gone but not forgotten"

At a large holiday gathering we attended last Friday, I was wearing the hammered aluminum link necklace I retrieved from Mom's things, over a turtleneck with stirrup leggings, purse and flats.   While my wife was busy chatting with some of the neighbors, an elderly woman from the development came up to me, reached over, and touched my necklace (just like a woman would do with another woman).  "This is really a pretty necklace!   Tell me more about it." 

Needless to say, I told her it was about 40 years old, and had belonged to my mother, who doesn't wear it any more since she's in a nursing home.  The woman was amazed and pleased that I'd honor her in that way.  "It's wonderful that you keep a bit of her with you all the time, and it really looks good on you.  Keep wearing it proudly."  I thanked her and told her that I plan to, and at times might even wear the matching bracelet.  Her response was..."Oh yes, you really should - the matched pair would be perfect for you."

I love it when women approach me to talk to discuss girl things.   However, I'm not at all sure my wife would agree, especially when it's our neighbors.  She missed hearing the discussion,  and that's probably fortunate...

Mom has been having many problems since I got back from our Thanksgiving trip. They're all related to her condition...  And my daily visits with her have not been fun.  But today (Sunday), as I was leaving, I had to smile just a bit...

One of the female residents was sitting in the lobby with a male resident who had just wheeled himself in.   I said "see you later" to the female resident, who knows I'm a guy who wore a skirt at Halloween and she sees me in girls' clothes at all other times.  She replied "see you" to me.  The male resident thought she was talking to him, and inquired.  She clarified that she was talking to (insert my real name here), the lady who is just walking out now (and she pointed to me.)  Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear that she is now identifying me to others as female...  

If anyone has crossed the Bay Bridge going eastbound from Annapolis, they might have noticed Holly's Restaurant (and motel) on the left side of the road in Grasonville.  It's reportedly been a local fixture since 1959, and from what we hear, they served good fried chicken and homemade cream of crab soup.  The parking lot for the restaurant was usually well-populated (wasn't aware that the motel was even open).  It was apparently a true Diners, Drive-ins and Dives type of candidate.  But several months ago, we noticed that the parking lot was empty and there were notices of some sort in the windows.

Turns out they had closed their doors, and sold the property to Royal Farms.  Just what that commercialized section of road needs...another convenience store and gas station. So today. I went out of my way to stop by and get some pictures, as the place seems to be getting dismantled (or vandalized).  Piece by lonely piece...

Sad to see "old standards" like this disappear...particularly when it's replaced by a commercial chain store and gas station.    Bet the owners got big bucks for the prime property location, though...and the county will get more tax revenue.

Here are a few pictures...

Look at that nifty knotty pine interior paneling, straight from the 50's!  We had that feature in a house from my high school years, and stayed in a motel out west two summers ago, which was thusly decorated. Very attractive.  Too bad this paneling probably won't be would make perfect decor for a home office, or family room.

The joint's soul is long I wonder when the walls and roof will come tumbling down on the broken furniture and smashed appliances inside, putting the "last nails in its coffin"?

That's all for now...


Friday, December 5, 2014

Thanksgiving - going home.

Everyone loves a kitty...and this one (female, of course) is learning to be a good QVC shopper.  Hmmmm...soon our son better lock up his credit cards and the computer keyboard!

Kitty intently watching QVC...

Our son, his fiance, my wife and I visited a few small stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving.   Not at popular shopping sites for "door-busters" or "holiday deals" mind you, only for little things like gluten-free noodles for dinner (future D-I-L is gluten-sensitive), model trains and so on.    It was late enough in the morning that the only really popular stop we visited (Lowe's) wasn't crowded - deals had all been sold out by that time. 

While our son and his fiance were checking out their purchases, they suggested that we drive over to Chick-Fil-A (closest restaurant), buy our lunch, and they'd meet us there in a few minutes.

Well, that sure turned out to be a good idea gone very bad.   The place was jammed - with a line 20 cars deep on the street (insert memories of the 1970's gas station lines here...)  We had to park in an adjacent store parking lot and walk back to the restaurant.  There were no tables available, inside or out.  My wife looked in the window and decided to stay outside (she hates elbow-to-elbow crowds and snaked lines to the order counter), leaving me in line to order our food.

Eventually, I heard "Ma'am - Ma'am?"  I looked up and the clerk was motioning me to the next register. "I'll take your order over here, Ma'am."  I respond to everything...male or female.   Moving to the next register, I gave her our order, paying in cash.  "And your first name, Ma'am?"  So I gave it to her, and she never raised an eyebrow. "Stand over there, (insert real first name here) and I'll bring it to you."  I did, and she did.  And her closing greeting was in the feminine gender...

This excellent treatment truly surprised me, considering the blatantly anti-GLBT opinions very publicly expressed by Chick-Fil-A's owners a couple of years back, and the issues subsequently brought to light on the internet by some of their employees.  I truly was expecting the worst.  In fact, this was the first time we've patronized them since that brouhaha (they lost our business after that.)

This visit, the food was just average...not exactly bad, but very far from the former "excellent".  Since lines for service were long, it could be attributed to rushing food along, to minimize wait times.  The bright side was that the owners' beliefs weren't being inflicted on their customers by the staff.  

Needless to say, there were no open tables, with many groups of people standing around (holding their meal trays) and waiting to pounce on the first open table.  The din of so many people talking loudly in order to be heard by their table-mates, was distinctly uncomfortable, and most unpleasant.  Ugh.  So we retreated to the quiet of our car to eat...

We may give them another try on a less-busy day, to see if their food returns to the excellent quality of "back in the day." Or perhaps they've sunk to the level of mediocrity found at other fast-food chains...cutting costs (i.e. quality) to improve financial returns.

Saturday, we treated the kids to a sit-down type restaurant.  Yes, away from the malls, but it was still crowded.  We were addressed as "folks" by the greeter, and when the server appeared, she interpreted me as "Sir."   Soooo...the pendulum definitely swings both ways.  But the four of us were all together, thus it probably was a good thing.

All too soon it was time to head back to Atlanta...our departure grew near.   First stop was the rental car office, where we turned in the car, a popular compact Japanese model touted as "economy," but which provided only 29-31 mpg over the road, had no throttle response whatsoever, and a very small "open trunk area."  Good riddance.   My Ford Focus (larger and heavier, with more miles on the odometer) typically gets 32-34 mpg under the same general open-road driving conditions, with lots of pep - and a bigger, enclosed trunk.  Guess folks prefer the Japanese car because it's "imported," not because of performance.  A week's rental before buying could be a fabulous decision-making tool.  (Just my humble observation - and yes, we do that.)

The male store manager on duty, recognized me from several previous rentals there...and I was "Sir."  Despite my androgynous outfit, and feminine cues such as purse, hair, nails and flats.

Since we choose to arrive in Atlanta early and avoid afternoon traffic issues on I-75, we stowed our bags at the train station, and  hopped a cab into midtown Atlanta.  Our plan was to walk around a bit,  then eat at one of the upscale hotels on 14th Street.  Obviously, we can't afford to patronize them for an overnight stay - far too pricey. 

When we arrived, the restaurant wasn't open. So I walked into the lounge (very few patrons there) and asked about food.  I was greeted as a female, and the female server was very friendly.   We decided to come back for dinner and told them we would.   As we left, the front door staff bid us a swift return, and I assured them we'd be back in a while, after a short walk in the neighborhood...

About an hour later, light was fading (no more pictures), so we gave up our local touring and returned.  There were a few more patrons this time, and the server was glad to see us..."Glad you came back...right this way, ladies."

A festive pricey hotel, the Four Seasons in Atlanta.

Yours truly, waiting for our meal....

We knew our dinner would be very expensive, and it fully lived up to that expectation...$5 soft drinks, $9 soup (huge bowl) and $18 burgers.   But the hotel was festively decorated, and presentation of the food was to a much higher standard than your typical "burger in a bag."  And much tastier, as well...  It was an IMMENSE burger...I almost couldn't finish it, and I couldn't finish the fries...same for my wife!

The nicest presentation of a hamburger and fries that we've seen...we liked the individual servings of condiments.  Eliminates the chance of adulteration of the condiment bottles.

Our server was very attentive, didn't vary from "ladies" - thus she was rewarded with a nice was the bellman who summoned a cab to take us "two ladies" back to the train station.

We've hoofed it back to the station during daylight hours on previous visits - it's a little over a mile.  However, we chose not to risk it after dark.  Two ladies walking alone after dark on quiet business district streets in an unfamiliar city...with purses...would be prime mugging candidates.  I didn't want to become Atlanta's latest hate crime statistic, and end up being a headline on CNN (whose Atlanta offices weren't far away.)   And the driver said "thanks, Ma'am" when I gave him a tip. 

The train station was hopping...much more crowded than the last three times we were there.  Truly SRO (Standing Room Only), majorly overcrowded, and noisy.  Not a chance you could even hear announcements.  Ugh.

When it was time to board our train for the trip north, we (or more appropriately, I) was recognized by both the Conductor and sleeping car attendant (who coincidentally both said something to the effect of "Sir, you rode with us a couple times last summer, didn't you?" He was right.

Likewise, the female server in the dining car recognized me as well.  But she remembered me differently - "Hi there girlfriend, glad to see you on my train again.  Where is the pretty lady traveling with you?"  And we chatted for a minute before my wife came in...of course, I only used my wife's name, not "my wife."  And nothing more was said as we ate our meal...the diner got very busy.

That's why I'll stick to androgynous outfits and light makeup when on trains we customarily ride.  Crews tend to remember me,  and that could be a problem if I'm in a skirt.  On my planned January trip, there are two such trains.  All the rest are fair game for dressing...subject to people from the event I'm attending out west being on board.   It'll be a judgment call each time.

On the commuter train enroute back to Baltimore (where there were no miss-identifications - but no "Sir" either),  I casually mentioned to my wife that I'd seen an article on line about the best way to combat gray hair roots...dye the hair blonde, and gray won't show. 

In return for my suggestion,  I got a serious version of her classic wifely "stink eye" stare,  followed by her "suggestion" that it's time for me to go completely gray and get a haircut "like other geezers who haven't gone bald quite yet."  

My immediate response: "Sorry, dear...not happening.  I'm not voluntarily adding at least 5 years, maybe 10, to my apparent age.  There's lots of time for that when I get old."  As you can imagine, that wasn't the "correct" response (she obviously was hoping for "Yes, dear, right away dear.")  Since we were out in public, she clammed up, meaning the end of THAT discussion.  (And, curiously, nothing more has been said since we got home!)

What could motivate her to prefer that I look older than my actual age?   Perhaps she's thinking that she appears older than me already?   Or maybe it's the concept that an old, gray-haired man with a men's short haircut, wearing leggings or stirrup pants with pantyhose and a blouse or top, makeup and lipstick, long manicured nails, feminine eyebrows and ballerina flats with a purse, isn't as likely to be "miss-taken" for a female.  Have we gone full-circle now?  Time will tell.

Meanwhile, "back here at the ranch," my long hair and other feminine cues live on.  Nothing more has been said since getting home.

All in all, we had an enjoyable and successful visit, and spent lots of time with the kids in their new house - a wonderful trip.  But we decided that, because of the huge quantity of "things" we always seem to haul south, and the messes at the Atlanta rail station (near-fisticuffs on the way in, huge crowds on the way out), our next trip will most likely be by car.  That should be another type of adventure....

Hope your Thanksgiving was good, too!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving - half the fun is getting there

We spent our Thanksgiving at our son's place in Tennessee...and had a fabulous time.  His fiance (with a bit of help from her mom) cooked up a delicious meal for the first big crowd in their new home.  It was a great trip!

Needless to say, my wife wouldn't allow me much sartorial freedom this trip, beyond my normal everyday androgynous outfits.  And there were no "miss-identifications" while in the kids' presence. 
Regardless, there was still plenty of femininity to be experienced, 
wearing stirrup pants, pantyhose, a polo top, womens' sweater, and flats, with purse and my two suitcases...   The assistant conductor (female) addressed me as "Ma'am."  Twice, at different times.

When we arrived in DC, a gentleman held the door for both my wife and me, addressing us as "ladies."  We both thanked him, as our hands were full.  Likewise, the gate attendant "miss-identified" me.   As we boarded the sleeping car on the southern train, the car attendant took over my luggage - "Let me help you, Ma'am."   And he hoisted my heavy bags up on to the train.   "Thank you, sir!"  And then he helped my wife as well.

I casually commented to the wife that in a way, it's nice to be seen as two ladies.   I don't have to horse our heavy bags around, and people hold the door for us all the time.  And I actually wasn't rebuffed.  She agreed that it's not a such a bad thing - someone else handles doors for us, and helps us with our luggage.   And she knows how heavy it is, particularly on this trip, with the things we're taking to our son's.

One of the already-boarded passengers watched our sleeping car attendant pile the bags in our room (we booked the largest room this trip, knowing how much luggage we would have) and said to us afterward:  "Ladies, I couldn't believe how much he put into your room - I didn't think it would all fit."  But it wife showed him the overhead storage, which held the pieces we didn't need.  (But despite that, the room was still cramped.)

Then the attendant came by.  "Ladies, let me show you the room features."  We let him, since it was our first time in this style of accommodation.   Then he asked what time we want to go for dinner.  Since it was already past our mealtime, my wife asked,  can we go now?  "Sure, they have a seating right now.  When do you ladies want the beds ready?"  I said "how about making them up when we're at dinner?"  "No problem, ma'am."

And he did...

When we got back from dinner (rough track didn't throw me out of my seat, and my drink to the floor, in the diner this trip), our beds were ready.  But unfortunately that made the cramped room even more so.   My wife mused that coming back, we will have one almost empty suitcase, and can eliminate one big shopping bag, so we can redistribute our things and better utilize the overhead, which will let the folding seat fold up when I don't need into my suitcase.    Not sure about how that will work...

When the train arrived in Atlanta (our destination) I was dressed once again in yesterday's stirrup pants outfit.  The attendant said "Ladies, let me help you with your bags."   He took them all out to the vestibule and set them on the ground for us....

The rental car place was just a couple miles from the station, but if you've ever been to the Atlanta Amtrak station, you'll know how small and inconvenient the parking lot is.   "Ma'am, do you need a taxi?" (A taxi driver cornered me...)

"Actually, yes sir, for two."  After the driver loaded our luggage and we got in, he ended up having near-fisticuffs with the limo driver who pulled part way in and was honking his horn and swearing, but refused to move to let anyone drive out (which also prevented him from driving further in.)  My wife wasn't as concerned about them beating each other up, as she was about revolvers being drawn, with gunfire ending up in multiple "lead poisoning" fatalities and the whole incident ending up as breaking news on CNN.    Fortunately, the issue was de-fused by several bystanders and neither happened.   We arrived at the rental car dealer reasonably quickly, given all the traffic and issues.  And since our reservation was in my name, I went to the desk.

"How can I help you, Ma'am?"  So we proceeded through the rental paperwork, with the lady clerk presuming I was female.  License and credit card time came quickly, but despite having access to my license, the clerk continued to use female forms of address for me and us.  While my wife was in the restroom, I asked the clerk if she could drive the car, and got an interesting answer.   "As long as you're both legally married in some state, yes, she can, Ma'am."  Hmmm....curious comment.

My response was easy:  "OK thanks, we are, so that's good."   I guess she didn't pay attention to the little M on my license or the "Jr." after my name.  Or perhaps she was just trained to be very politically correct!

Before we left, I asked about the restroom, and she directed me to the ladies' room around the corner.  When invited, I use it...  Especially since my wife had finished up and was out by the car.

There's more to talk about, in part 2, to follow.  Eventually.  Meanwhile, I'll leave you with the following pictures from Tennessee:

 One of the cute kitties at our son's house - catching a "catnap"

A quiet view to the west at sunset...from our son's front porch.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Oh my.. The "dry time" is here...

We're into my annual "dry time," or "dressing desert."  That's the period of time each year, when opportunities for Mandy to peer out of the closet and into the real world are few and far between.  This dry time often lasts till April or May and the car show season gets under way.   During this period, I simply get to enjoy all your adventures, while maintaining my androgynous mode.

This coming year, however, may provide a brief respite - in January I'm planning to a conference out west.  There, I'll be with folks who know me, and will be my own androgynous self.  However, on the way home, I'm planning a detour which will allow a short layover in California, and provide a chance to kick the door off the closet for some skirt time - a "girlcation," as it were.  We'll see how well those plans develop...anything can happen at this point.

Since the Director at the nursing home saw my pictures last week, I've seen her twice in passing...  Both times she was very friendly, and addressed me by my first name.  It's a nice touch, and if it continues, I'll be fine with it, happy even.  And the female staff is now addressing me by my first name.   Seems like perhaps, in their eyes, I've moved over to their side of the aisle...and it's OK by me...that's where I prefer to be!

One of the ladies who eats lunch with Mom hadn't seen my outfit, so last week I took out the computer and showed her...she told me "that's a pretty girl."  She was surprised that it was me...and said I looked very nice.

Strangely enough, all these interactions with people are helping me feel more comfortable being myself.  I believe they'll be a big assistance,  during  my "girlcation" in January!

And, as I was exiting the post office recently, a man held the door for me.  No issues, no strange looks.  "There you go, Ma'am."  "Thank you, sir!"

We're visiting our son in Tennessee for the there will be lots more later.  Meanwhile, I leave you with this beautiful  sunset...once again, from the Chesapeake Bay region...

Happy Turkey Day!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's been a "bad hair two weeks."

Since Halloween, there have been a few fun incidents, but also things "not so much fun..."   Occasionally, people have "bad hair days."  We've just finished a "bad hair two weeks."

After my wonderful Halloween weekend, the memory of which remains strong, I had the pleasure (if you can call it that) of preparing myself for - and enduring - a medical procedure.  Just thinking about it gives me the chills, even now.  That alone was enough to ruin the week after Halloween.  However, the end result was satisfactory...I picked up the report Friday, and there are no issues requiring further medical intervention at this time. That's a huge blessing! 

Fortunately, there were several "smile" moments during my procedure.  The receptionist, and two different nurses, all addressed me as "Miss," and one even reminded to take off my bra.  (The one I wasn't wearing.) The doctor in the procedure room initially called me "Ma'am," though I finally heard the dreaded "S" word from the doctor in the recovery room.  (Wonder why the change in opinion?)  Interesting, right?  Or, maybe they were mostly being politically correct?   But I'm not complaining about those"miss-identifications."  It's what I want to hear.  I'm just surprised, because my medical records clearly state "M."   And fortunately, my wife ignored it the one time she was within earshot...

When we got back home, about noon, I was still groggy from the anesthetic which I didn't want (and for which I had to sign liability waivers relieving them of all responsibility in the event I died from it - or any other thing.).  Not a happy camper about that, but they wouldn't do the procedure without the signed forms and anesthetic...and the procedure needed done.  No matter that I was awake last time they did one of these on me, about 7 years wasn't particularly painful.  And I've been through a root canal without novocaine...   At least the IV site they put in, didn't leave the back of my hand bruised!

"Life after procedure" was destined to go on:  the antique still had to be taken to the shop for an antifreeze leak which developed on the outing in October.  Turned out the problem wasn't nearly as bad - or expensive - as the mechanic originally believed.  The fact that parts were not frozen in place from 47 years of use helped a lot - those things had been worked on 10 years ago, during its repaint.

He agreed that bringing it home for repair was the best plan...a shop on the highway probably would have replaced everything he didn't have to - and that would have also solved the problem.  Or if they were unethical, they could have done what he did, but charged for replacing everything - they were so far away they'd never have had to live up to the alleged "warranty."  In any event, that would have added multiple hundreds of dollars to the repair bill.

A major trauma this week was that the photo program on my laptop crashed.  No, it wasn't a virus.  But up to now, I didn't realize that could happen - found that out on the internet.  After quite a few hours of time, it's almost completely restored now (only a couple dozen loose albums floating around), with very little loss of content.  But I'll need our son's computer expertise over the holidays to finish the job.

And the fact that the allergy/sinus issues I'd been having, blossomed into a full-fledged problem the night I got home from the procedure.  Heavy coughing fits and all...the next morning I had no choice but to be seen by the doctor.  I've been on antibiotics and for several nights,  I needed a strong prescription cough syrup at night, so I could sleep.   And during all this turmoil, we had to go over to the mainland for my wife to get some emergency dental surgery.  Definitely not fun...

There were a few bright spots, however...   At the medical office where I picked up the hard copy of the report from my procedure, I was addressed as "Ma'am."  And I was in androgynous makeup.

A couple of the aides at the nursing home hadn't seen my outfit from Halloween...and I was certainly willing to show them pictures!  They loved both the black skirt and blue blouse I wore there, as well as the pink blouse I wore that evening.

And when I went in to the Director's office to discuss a matter, I casually asked if she had seen my costume.   She hadn't.  Once again, out came the computer...and she thought I looked great.   I showed her the pix from both evenings as well, and her comments were very complimentary.  She asked if I had any other pictures I could show her (maybe a "fishing trip" to see how often I dress?)   So, I clicked into my makeover pictures from last August and explained it to her.  She was completely amazed, and said while all my pix were good, these two were definitely her favorites:

From the Director:  "Elizabeth Taylor is a talented photographer...first she puts you into a sexy outfit, then into a very seductive pose. Look at those legs!   And your shoes - I couldn't begin to wear them!   This is perfect - I love it!   You're a very attractive woman,  (and she inserted my now-feminine first name here, instead of her usual Mr. & last name)."

The Director said: "Looking this feminine and pretty, you can go anywhere with confidence."   I hope she's right.  We'll find out in January...

She wants me to be sure to dress again next year - and I said I definitely plan to do it.  If our paths don't cross in the halls, she wants me to stop by the office to see her...she wants to meet me in person.   Sounds like a plan!

She's hoping for Halloween activities on two days next year.  But since Halloween is on a Saturday and staffing levels are lower on Saturday, many things, including the party, probably will be on Friday.  That would let me repeat this year's procedure and show up dressed Friday!  YAY!  With both the Director and staffers encouraging me to do it,  how can I disappoint them?  Now I have to find something pretty to wear!

One of my pictures from Halloween is on my laptop screen, and Mom smiles when ever it comes on...I'm further "out" to her than I ever thought I would be.  She's seemingly fine with my dressing on Halloween, but still not comfortable with any other times.  Nor does she seem to be OK with the concept that I'm "what her daughter might have looked like if she had one."  And she keeps reiterating that she didn't want a daughter, only a son.  Since she has trouble remembering time frames, these issues are not a problem.

But she's actually made some good comments.

One of them is related to my "passability" - there's that awful word again.  She pointed out I have male shoulders - and she's right.  I love sleeveless things, but in the future, I'll probably soft-pedal them as a possible obstacle.  But she tells me that I have good legs for skirts - "fortunately you took after me, not your dad."  When she wore skirts back in the day, she really DID have good legs.   So we at least have a dialogue going.  And I plan to have her tell me what she thinks I should wear to minimize my shoulders...

Trouble is, she forgets what she said today.  No problem, we just go over it again the next Groundhog Day!  But at least it's exercising her mind...and it's an improvement over  the topic of "wondering when (insert long-dead relatives' names here) are coming to visit her."  This is something she's been mentioning recently.   I'm going to try to keep her busy for a while, perhaps with girly topics - such as looking at dresses and skirts on-line when I'm there...

Let me leave you with a peaceful sunset scene, taken a quarter mile from our house...out in the recently-harvested cornfields of the Delmarva...



Friday, November 14, 2014

Out & about...Part 4, the way home.

It's inevitable that this wonderful vacation with other old cars would come to an end.  And it did.  However, the drive home yielded a couple of architectural gems.

First is at the intersection of US 40 and NJ Route 581, out in the middle of nowhere.   A lonely and very disused railroad station sits forlornly on a corner, looking disheveled and distressed, beside a commercial building...

At first glance, one might think that it was a long time since trains called here.   But then, you look closer, and find that the station is sitting on a (relatively) new foundation...and one end has been opened up, to form an oversized (but with no door, certainly not weathertight) garage for an unknown type of equipment - which was absent at that time. Where did this station come from?  There was no evidence of a railbed in the area, so why is it here?

From various sources, I found that the station is the former Woodstown, NJ train station, which opened around 1883 and quickly became the center of business activity in that portion of Salem County. Manufactured goods were received from Philadelphia and produce from the surrounding farmlands was shipped to the major cities. In addition, passengers were able to travel on the train from Woodstown to Philadelphia, Atlantic City and New York.

Following World War II and the emergence of the automobile as the most popular mode of transportation in America, the number of passengers transported by trains began to decline. On December 30, 1950 the last passenger train left Salem County.  In December of 1970 the Woodstown Station was moved to its current location at the intersection of Route 40 and Commissioners Pike, for a use that apparently never developed.

Above is how the station looks today.  

There are no panes in any of the windows, and the far end has been opened up, to make a storage shed for some large piece of equipment.

A rather dismal appearance for the completely stripped interior, as seen through glass-less window frames, badly weathered, and with a broken mullion.

So,  what's the skinny on the big fellow below?   He towers over Harding Highway (US Rt. 40) just a bit east of Pittsgrove in Woodstown,  New Jersey.  He advertises the Cowtown Rodeo, which is the oldest weekly rodeo in the U.S.  (Bet you didn't know that little factoid!)  And it was quite well attended, judging from the lack of available parking places!

Various sources indicate that he, a re-purposed "Muffler Man" from commercial use, was "bought at an auction in 1975 and outfitted with a cowboy hat and gun."   However he came to be, it's good that this piece of Americana still exists, even if he no longer advertises a muffler shop - in fact, there's no muffler shop in sight.

Thanks for reading my travelogue...hope you enjoyed it!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Out and about, Part 3 "Under the Boardwalk"

"Under the Boardwalk..."

After spending some time touring Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ a few of our antique car group went on to other destinations, while we stuck around town for a while, and took a walk on the Boardwalk.  It was a fabulous day - those who stayed got to enjoy the sun...salt air...and the lack of crowds!

One thing that surprised us about the scenery, and had changed since our last visit there, was that there are now dunes between the ocean and the boardwalk.   Most likely they're man-made, to act as a protective barrier against storms.  In any case, we missed the chance to see the ocean from the boardwalk, not really wanting to cross the dunes to reach the beach.  (Getting sand out of my pantyhose without removing them, would be too big a challenge!)   Lastly, from where we stood at least, you couldn't go "under the boardwalk..." as in the song.

Following is what's left of the Trump Plaza.  They were taking down the signs as we drove much for the unemployment rate in Atlantic City.  I wish the best for anyone affected by these casino closings...

And then there was Lucy, the Margate Elephant.  From Wikipedia,
Lucy the Elephant is a six-story elephant-shaped example of novelty architecture, constructed of wood and tin sheeting in 1881  in Margate, NJ, two miles (3.2 km) south of Atlantic City, in an effort to sell real estate and attract tourists.

Today, Lucy is a tourist attraction. Guided tours take visitors into the building through the spiral staircase in the left rear leg up into the interior, then up again into the howdah to see views of Margate, the Atlantic City skyline, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Lucy's front view.  Maybe she's TG?  Only male elephants have tusks!

Inside Lucy's restored body...

My car (the one with hood scoops) from the Howdah...

From there we headed "back to the barn" for a nice dinner with some of our friends...and look forward to next year!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Comparison: "Asker" vs. "Askee" on presentation

This was originally written as a post-script to Part 4.  But it probably should have its own presentation and title, to be findable later.   As for the question oft-asked on blogs here:  What about bringing up the issue to a person who, for reasons of clothing, mannerisms or makeup, etc., might be trans? 

This past weekend, I had the extremely good fortune to be in the position of being on both sides of that the "asker" to the "witch," and as the "askee" by the observant lady at the show. 

The "witch" seemed very comfortable talking about her outfit and the fact that she wears women's outfits often (including some time in hoop skirts!)  But from our limited discussions, she seems to be more of a cross-gender "re-enactor" and "good-will ambassador", than a trans person (it's a question I didn't specifically ask.)

She was very happy to discuss her outfit and presentation.  And she was already in conversation about it with a female vendor when I approached her, so there were no timing problems with my asking.  It worked very smoothly.  And under these circumstances, it was the appropriate thing to do.

As for approaching trans people in other circumstances...perhaps not so much.  It really all depends on the people involved and the situation.  I still would recommend being extremely cautious if considering approaching someone "cold turkey." 

From the viewpoint of the "askee:"  I'm still relatively new to discussion of trans issues (my own or of others), and I experienced a definite shock factor.  (Read my previous post.) That probably will decrease as I gain experience and exposure.  But the lady had done her job of observation (of me) over a long period of time, and did not bring up the topic with civilians nearby.  She was able to say things to keep me comfortable, and had a wonderful way of talking about the topic, including her own situation.  I did not feel at all threatened or offended, and was thrilled to have her initiate the topic.  It's nice to make new friends, particularly those with similar interests...

But that is my take on it, only in these circumstances.  It may not work well under other circumstances.  So Your Mileage May Vary.

The way I see it:  whatever you do, always be careful, consider the circumstances, and if in doubt, don't bring up the topic...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Part 4...last day & main event!

When I was at Red Lobster Friday evening, in my skirt and heels,  I noticed that a woman with two older kids, sitting in a booth across the aisle and two rows down from me, kept glancing my way.  I kept checking to see if my napkin had slid off my lap, or my legs had automatically drifted apart at the knees.  Both negative.  She looked vaguely familiar.

Segue to Sunday afternoon (immediately after being addressed as "Ma'am" in the presence of my booth-partner by several of my customers).   I made a run to my car with a couple of purchases.  A few minutes later, I'm walking back to my booth,  saying hi to some of the attendees and dealers in that row.  As I smiled and said hi to the lady sitting in her booth, she smiled back, motioned me over, and asked me how I liked the shrimp at Red Lobster Friday night.  Say what????  At that moment it struck me...this was the lady who kept "checking me out" in Red Lobster! 

Before I had a chance to say anything, she said "You're like me, aren't you, dear?  Remember, your secret is totally safe with us"  (meaning her and her two kids - both were sitting there.)   I went absolutely speechless as this unfolded - both her conversation and my speechlessness were something I've never experienced before.  "OMG, OMG, OMG..." doesn't adequately cover the thoughts racing through my mind at "warp speed"...

"I've been observing you here at the show, for the last 3 years.  But nothing helped me to feel comfortable talking with you - I didn't want to invade your private space.  At least not until Red Lobster Friday night.  I'm so happy that we both chose to eat there at the same time,  Now we can finally meet and talk!"

My brain started processing data again.  Slowly...   I said "But I was dressed a bit differently than I am now."  "You were dressed the way you really want to be.   I noticed what you were wearing when you arrived here Friday - you walked past my table several times.  And you looked very nice - you should dress that way more often."

"But I..."  Before I finished my sentence, she started: "Sweetie, maybe you don't realize that you looked like a casual woman when you arrived Friday.  You didn't have a stitch of men's clothing on - those stirrup leggings with pantyhose and your girly flats were cute, and perfectly feminine.  (In retrospect, I was surprised she didn't mention my heavy makeup job, with the faded remains of lipstick from visiting Mom that morning - it took 2 makeup remover sheets to remove it all, when I went to bed!)  Again today, you look like you aren't wearing anything from the men's department, except perhaps your coat.   Remember, I notice these things."  (She was precisely right...everything except my coat was womenswear.)

Wow...her trans-dar was functioning at 100%! 

"You probably don't realize this, but I've transitioned.  I've been through it all,  many years ago.  I used to be (insert her former male name here).  And now and forevermore I'm (insert her female name here) and she pointed to her name tag.  My gender markers have been changed to female.  I'm on HRT and my breasts are real. And I'm happier than I've ever been.  The way I see you, you've transitioned too.  You're the perfect everyday lady here at the show."

Thankfully the selling day was just about over...   I stood there, riveted to the floor, talking with her for about 15 minutes.  It was like two old friends finally meeting in person, after not seeing each other in 30 years.  She asked what my male name had real name is now female, and she thought I'd transitioned.   When I pointed to my name badge...she was the one surprised.  I told her "I hated my name as a kid.  But now...I love it.  If I ever manage to transition, I'm hoping to keep my name and perhaps just legally eliminate the 'Junior' which you don't see.  Since Dad (whom I'm named after) passed away 17 years ago, I don't go by the Jr. designation any more, except on legal documents.  But it's there, and as a girl - I wish it weren't."

I told her that I'm married and not planning to alter that. However my wife is not accepting of my wearing dresses or skirts in public, which is not likely to change any time soon.  So I wear them when I'm traveling alone.  "What you see of me 'is what it is.'"

We talked some more. I learned that she and her wife stayed together through transition, and they are still together.  That's rare and refreshing. Their kids (both male) are OK with having two moms...and are well-versed in things transgender. (They sure didn't look at me like I had eight eyes or something.)

Since it was near day's end, and time to start packing, we said our farewells and I returned to my table, still somewhat dazzled by the turn of events.  Twice I wrote down my email address on a scrap of paper, and twice I threw it away.  Finally I wrote it down again, walked back to her table and handed it to her.  She beamed...and immediately sent me a test email from her smart phone.  I said I'd reply when I got home.

Back at my table, I started packing...absent-mindedly as my mind was wandering.  I went past her table on the next to last trip out, we hugged tightly...and both said "let's keep in touch."  They live a distance from DC - takes them 5 or 6 hours to get home.   So it's unlikely that we'll be able to meet up anywhere.  But we now have a new common interest to talk about...and both have a new friendship to develop for next year!

When I got home...everything was fine, until I started to relate plans to my wife, for me to dress up with several others at the show.  Guess what appeared?  "NMH" syndrome.  Yes, a serious case of "Not My Husband!"  So, discretion being the better part of valor, and not being sure how much of it was a reflection of a bad toothache I found that she had, I dropped the topic for now, and will revisit it later.   Tantalizingly near, yet so far away!

But, if I were a betting girl, I'd say that most likely, the witch idea is dead on arrival...there are too many folks at the show who know us both. Reports about proceeding with those plans in a venue that public would find their way back home at some point, in some unforeseen manner, if I proceed without her assistance.  There are too many smart phones and vidcams around.  Showing up on the telly, or as a cover photo in a news publication, in a witch's dress and hat is not something I'd want to risk.

Instead, I'll probably settle for Friday's outfit - stirrup pants, blouse and flats, but going out to dinner completely dressed with heels, afterward.  They're both female outfits, and I'd be undeniably public.  Just not spectacular enough to be newsworthy, thus relatively private.  No 6PM news exposure! 

No matter how I dress, it's such a joy to be a girl!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

And yes, there is...OMG...a part 3 be followed by a part 4 - it was a very eventful weekend.

Saturday dawned dreary, but at least it didn't rain.  I got to the show early, and obtained a close-in parking place, away from the oak trees, which at this time of year are helping feed the squirrels by dropping acorns.  You can hear them raining down on the cars unfortunate enough to arrive later and parked under them.

The lady vendor at the outside booth was there, and since a lot of customers hadn't arrived there (yet), we began to chat - naturally about dressing.  She thought I should go ahead and plan to dress for Halloween next year...whether it's a period costume or not.   And she has seen "the witch" at this show before, dressed, with nobody having a problem with it.   She "passes" (I hate that term, but it's quick and easy), but unfortunately wears a name tag with "his" male name. (BTW, that issue could be overcome...)  The lady vendor pointed out that in my own case, that won't be a problem, since my real first name is a girl's name.

I outed myself again by telling her that I dress occasionally, and in fact was out dressed last night, though just for dinner.  She asked which I wore - a skirt or dress.  and I told her my black skirt with blue floral blouse.  She went on to say that it sounds pretty...but she doesn't wear skirts or dresses, because most men have better looking legs than hers.  (I heard that comment before - yesterday at the nursing home.)  "Plus, they're too cold and drafty in the winter."

I told her that with pantyhose on, that hasn't been a problem for me yet.  "Sweetie, just keep wearing skirts - you'll eventually get to experience being half a mile from wherever you need to be, in cold, windy, or snowy weather.   And it will seem like forever, walking with frozen legs, snow on your ankles and calves, and a cold tushy.  I simply eliminate that chance by wearing pants."

Strangely enough, two of her women friends appeared.  I just stayed with them for about ten minutes, instead of going with some guys.  The four of us stood around, talking about knitting, kids, and other girl things.  They made me feel right at home with them...and included me in their conversation.  (All while the guys were gathering nearby in their little groups to talk, with nary a woman in sight.)   It's one indication that I've found where I belong - playing in the girls' sandbox!

From time to time during the day I talked with several of the women near my table, and they all endorsed my plan to dress.  (Maybe they all like the idea of guys in skirts? Or want a leg show?)  I also mentioned it to the guy whose space I share.  After explaining, he said, "Why go through all that bother?"  My response was simple:  "Why not?"  End of discussion.  So at least at this point, from other peoples' viewpoints, it sounds promising.  Of course that could crash and burn if I don't get my host's invite back next year (probably not an issue), or from the "main viewpoint at home", the one which I definitely expect will be an issue.

I didn't see the "guy in a skirt" at all on Saturday - and found out subsequently that he had stayed in Gettysburg over night.  So he didn't get back to the show.  But I managed to obtain his phone number.  That proved to be a very good thing.   And the show management didn't see a problem with two "girls."

After the antique show closed for the evening, I went back to the hotel and changed for dinner.  This time I drove to a nearby Applebee's...where I usually go.  Interestingly, the greeter initially used the dreaded "S-word."  But she immediately corrected herself...when she saw what I was wearing.  "Right this way, Sir - uhhhrrr - Ma'am."

Since I didn't have to deal with her any more, who cares what she thinks?  The female server addressed me properly as "Ma'am"  every time, was VERY attentive, and did her job well.  That attention earned her a 30% tip - in cash, in her hand - fortunately for me, it was on a less-expensive meal.  But little rewards like that may help some pave the way for other TG folks who follows in my footsteps.

On the way back to the car, temperatures had dropped to about 45 degrees, and the wind was blowing at about 20 mph.  It's the first time I've experienced a chill from wearing a skirt, even though I had pantyhose on.  Gee, the girls were right!  Note to self: time to get out the black opaque tights!  Maybe even a pair of leggings for underneath!  And I found myself pushing the remote-start button for the car as I started hiking out to it...yes, that made it toasty warm inside!

Back at the hotel, I recruited the female desk clerk (a different girl from yesterday)  to take more pictures of me....and she was happy to do it...another quiet night.

Anything for a diversion.  

And she liked my skirt.   Though she, too, commented that she never wears them - or dresses.  "They're too cold in the winter, and I feel so exposed when I'm wearing them."  I admitted that I felt very exposed, like I was walking around with my bottom half naked.  But I'm getting used to, and beginning to enjoy, that feeling.  And I confessed that I'd been chilled for the first time after dinner that night, but plan to start wearing tights instead of stockings in the winter.  She told me "Good plan, girlfriend!"

Back to the room I went, and got the courage to call the number I got for the guy in costume at the show.   Fortunately, he was home, remembered me, and we talked about dressing for over half an hour.

Now, here is the amazing part.  Based on my wife's past performances":  I expected a ration of crap about it on the phone tonight and SHOCKINGLY did NOT hear "Not My Husband." 
My gut feeling is that she will just wait till I get home to rain on the parade.  I highly doubt she'll be OK with it.  

I'll find out tomorrow and will certainly let you know! 

More Later...


Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween...OMG! Part 1

With all due respects to the Four Seasons and their 1975 hit song "Oh What A Night,"  I can honestly say "Oh what a day - and night!"

My day started with a visit to Mom's at the nursing home.  But unlike my everyday visits, this time I wore a skirt and blouse, makeup and flats.  My first time in that venue!   I wisely chose flats over my Mary Janes, which I wore later in the day...   It had been so long since I'd worn them, that I found out later my gait was far from graceful.  (A little practice was all I needed.)

No, I didn't leave the house dressed that way...but I had purposely put the blouse on at home, under my polo shirt, and then wore a high-necked sweater to cover everything (made the cornfield change much quicker.   Sweater weather is very helpful!)

Once clear of the house, I found a back road so I could pull on my skirt and take off my stirrup pants.   My timing was perfect...once my shirt was off, leaving me in a blouse, and my pantyhosed legs were skirted and on display, the traffic started.  No way I could have changed back, even if I had wanted to...

On my way into the nursing home, I said a cheery Happy Halloween to everyone...   As it turned out, almost everyone - including the receptionist -  recognized me, but commented positively on my outfit - female staff and female residents alike.  A couple of older guys said hi after my greeting, but looked rather why did this girl get so girly all of a sudden.  But they didn't say anything.

And from the head of admissions, "Wow, look at those pretty legs!  I like...hope to see you look this attractive - much more often!"  My response was..."I guarantee it - next Halloween!"   She gave me a fake frown, then a big grin.

When I got to Mom's room, an aide was there, trying to convince her to let the aide put her "costume" on for the party in the afternoon - nothing more than a tiara with veil.  My entrance in a skirt proved to be a huge distraction, though Mom took it well.  And the aide asked her if there was something, like a witch's hat, that she might rather wear.  She fancied that idea, so the aide left and came back with a big brimmed, pointy black hat, which I actually was able to keep on her for part of my visit!  (But I doubt she went to the party at all, let alone wearing the hat!)

I took a picture of her, under much protest. But at least she didn't thumb her nose at the camera, like she usually does, and I have a decent picture of her.  For privacy reasons, I won't post it here.

Here was my own outfit:

While I was visiting, Mom noticed my engagement ring and nails (including the broken one, which Miss J at the nail salon nicely repaired, now that it's healed.)  You can't tell that I destroyed it...and the pink acrylic matches my other nails perfectly.  The pink is probably a keeper!

The billing clerk was very enthusiastic...she's the one I had talked to about this earlier in the year.  After that discussion, she wasn't surprised that I dressed so girly.  But now she says I should look this pretty more often!

The woman who Mom eats lunch with, and who, months ago had asked me "What are you, a boy or girl?" again asked me "So what are you today?"   I laughed and said "Today, I'm Miss Mandy!"  The female staffer talking with her, told me that she's impressed, because she never wears skirts or dresses.  I couldn't resist asking "Why not? You'd look so nice in them."  Her response was - "Sweetie, I'm jealous - you look so much better in a skirt than I do.  My legs are awful...yours are so pretty!  You really should wear skirts all the time!"  I laughed and said "I doubt that, but thanks...and I really wish I could do it.  Maybe someday. But for now, as soon as a restroom opens up, I have to change."

On my way out, everyone was encouraging me to change back to my skirt and stay for the party.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.  I was off to the sale.  But today I wore my stirrup pants, pantyhose and flats, and was anxious to see if I got any comments.  

More on that in Part 2!