Thursday, February 27, 2014

Quickie - An excursion cut short...

Last Thursday was my dentist appointment day.  When I make the effort to cross the Bay Bridge alone, there usually are a number of stops to make.  And it's lots more fun to do as many as possible in a skirt.  Initially, I planned to appear for my dentist appointment in androgynous mode, and then find a place to pull over in the wooded areas near there, to change shoes and get into a skirt for the rest of the day.

Initially, all went very well...I put on my necklace, engagement ring and earrings, then went into the grocery store for a few things, something planned for later but which would save backtracking if done now.  Fabulous reception...definitely accepted as a woman (even in stirrup pants and flats), and had some small-talk with the cashier.  On to the bank, where it was exactly the same situation.  After the bank, I removed my "bling."  (That would have been too much to wear at the dentist, since my wife also goes there.)

The dentist's front office had its usual bevy of staff trainees, so I got some confused looks.  They obviously "saw what they saw", but, as Pat said in one of her earlier posts. were having some confusion in "processing it".   The little lady who led me to the exam room omitted any greeting - instead using my full name.  Of course, the dentist knows me, as I've been going there for almost 20 years We're on a first-name basis.   Likewise, the male dental hygienist, who was "careful not to splash you and ruin your makeup." He obviously "knows".   As I left, the girls in the front simply said a cheery good bye, and omitted the "Sir or Ma'am".  That's OK by me.

I soon began to realize that I had miscalculated my ability to find a place to pull over and change into a skirt.   That became quite evident as the three planned pullover locations were either under snow piles left over from plowing the roads, or axle-deep in water and muck from the melted snow.  So I headed for the little park with the paved parking lot, where the following pic was taken a couple years ago:

Its parking lot was plowed clean, the lake was frozen, and the grass was partially snow covered.  I figured it wouldn't be a good place for fishing or just relaxing in the sun right now... a real no-brainer.  But again, I was mistaken.   A fortysomething guy was ahead of me, cleaning out the garbage from his car (filling the trash can to overflowing in the process), and upon finishing, practicing his golf swing.   Hmmmmm.  Maybe he was waiting for a train?  Oops, no tracks - minor detail.  The nearest ones (a mile away) were torn up 50 years ago - well before he was born. After a few minutes, when he didn't leave, I did - discretion is always the better part of valor.  Who knows what suspicious (or outright illegal) activities were about to take place?   I didn't need to become a part of that action...

As I was motoring to the next stop, my cell phone rang.  That's never a good thing, particularly with an elderly parent.  The call (received on a hands-free device to save a ticket in Maryland) was from Mom's nursing home, with disturbing news about a change in policy affecting an appointment Mother had the next day (fortunately not about her health, which is currently fairly good.)  This new issue totally distracted my concentration, and any enthusiasm I had for hunting a place to change into a skirt, simply evaporated.

At my next stop - the copy shop - I simply put on my bling again, and added the MJ's in the parking lot.  As I walked past a restaurant window, I glanced in and noted that I was getting some attention from guys sitting by the window.  But, did i hear "Sir"(or "Ma'am") from the ladies at the copy shop?  Nope. Neither.

With my concentration still totally distracted. I stopped at a big box store nearby, for a couple items and some relatively inexpensive gas.  Then, right there in the parking lot at the gas station, off came the bling and the MJ heels. They and the skirt went back in the trunk, and I headed east.  No chance to try another wig shop (if it was even "still there"), and no visit to Goodwill (the charity shop.)  Not quite the turn of events which had been planned...

But there will be other chances.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Quickie - Across the bridge!

Had to trek across the bay bridge to the West Shore Monday... in my usual androgynous mode, with makeup and a smile on my face (good mood.)  At the auto club office, I was treated as a woman - by a young male clerk, who was very happy to help me.  This was a complete surprise, as typically females have been more accommodating to transgenders. That's a very pleasant thing, I might add...

At the sub shop, where I recently found acceptance as a female, there was a new crew.  That happens a lot in fast food...and is never a good thing.   The female sandwich maker was fine with my feminine appearance, and addressed me correctly.  However, the cashier (male, 20something, and rather rough-looking) used the "s-word."  Admittedly, I wasn't wearing a skirt, but I suspect he would have said the same thing if I had been.   

But I'll eventually be back there, and it'll be a different crew...

Since I was on the West Shore alone, I took addresses for two wig shops along, knowing that I would most likely have some free time.   Apparently the "great recession" has taken its toll on the beauty industry - both of them were boarded-up storefronts in deserted parts of their respective shopping centers.   Though I haven't had time to follow up on the one my stylist recommended, I sure hope it's still there...

Haven't decided on my attire for the dentist appointment.  Since I'm not ready to show up at the dentist's office in a skirt, I'll stick with a stirrups outfit, with matching patent flats and purse for that chore.  Afterward, it'll hopefully be easy enough to slip a skirt on, and remove my leggings in the car.  Add my Mary Jane heels and earrings, and Mandy is ready to go!  

Now if I can just make it happen...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Did I just find a clue? And, funny thing happened at the nursing home.

A quickie today...

Did I just find another possible clue to my fondness for girly things in this old (translation - poor quality) picture of me, found with some family archives?  Look in the basket beside that one or more dolls in my Easter basket? The big one beside it appears to be a boy doll...but I can't be sure 60+ years later!

Teddy bears?  Yes, I had two, and enjoyed playing with them.  In fact, I still have  them...on display with some of my wife's, in a glass-front case. I just couldn't "bear" (no pun intended) to throw them out, when we emptied Mom's house.

But dolls?   No, that I don't remember...   Pictures don't lie, though.

It was cold outside Wednesday (what a surprise...) so I chose to wear my tan stirrups with a bright red turtleneck and my new dress flats.  When I walked into Mom's room, she told me how nice I looked, and asked why I was all dressed up.  It was very nice to be complimented, and I thanked her.  But more amazing was to hear how nice I looked from one of the staffers.  I guess I just wear "femininity" well...

Thursday's weather punch wasn't all that bad out here on the Delmarva.  Snow changed to sleet about 3AM and when I got up, the roads were bad but there was only about 3 inches of accumulation.  Most everything was closed, probably out of an abundance of caution, so staying home was the best option. 

Overnight Thursday the Delmarva escaped the worst of the next round of winter weather (once again).   Most of the bad weather afflicted the mainland.  So Friday, my wife and I went out for a nice Valentine's Day meal.  The place was full of women - only one man could be seen.  And that wasn't me...the server addressed us as ladies the whole time, all the way to the end, including offering to split the bill for us.   I bought, but thankfully my name on the credit card didn't betray my secret.  "Ladies" continued all the way out the door.  Very nice...

To those of you recently affected by, or currntly being affected by, these awful winter storms, I feel your pain...  Having been involved with the 2006 and 2010 blizzards in the northeast, I know how hopeless one can feel as the driveway you cleared an hour ago looks worse than it did before you started...   Fortunately, these storms have left the Delmarva mostly unscathed...what fell Wednesday is pretty well gone - there are only a few piles left. And by mid week, we may be in the 50's.  Maybe spring is just around the corner?

Hmmm - that may be too much to ask!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Foil Highlights for my hair...another first.

Do I look like I was having fun?

Let there be no doubt, I was having a fabulous  time in the pictures below...getting some foil highlights put in during my recent visit to the stylist!  My wife had earlier said she didn't care if I tried it, since it wasn't permanent. My stylist was ready, so I elected to "take the plunge."   It was an interesting experience to watch her make me look like the many females I've seen in the process of getting highlights over the years... 

Following are some pix of the finished product, which I basically happen to like....  These pictures are not too good, but you can "sort of" see some of the lighter and darker areas, with some lighter streaks.  Subdued, which was the stylist's intention...

And before you ask, in the "finished product pictures", I'm wearing one of my usual house dresses, at home.  This little red number is worn over a thermal top...we're into saving on the fuel bill.  Black tights and flats complete the outfit.


Alas, my wife didn't appreciate the lighter streaks and highlights - they're too feminine.  (What a surprise.) And she reminded me that if my hair were lots shorter, I wouldn't need to experiment with enhancements.  So they'll most likely get minimized once my next hair color is applied...  It's a good thing I didn't get my hair cut!   That's still much too risky.

Which is precisely why I had a discussion about wigs with the two stylists in the shop the day of my appointment.  They liked the pic of the bob wig for which Marian earlier provided a link (I brought a copy of the picture to the shop), and they thought it would look great on me.  But both reminded me of the substantial waves in my natural hair (straightened by heat in the pic above - and thus not visible), which wouldn't be in a normal bob wig.  Unless I plan to just wear the wig every day, instead of my natural hair every day (and I don't), their suggestion was for a something a little longer, with waves, which would be closer to what my real hair would look like if I cut it.

They figure my natural hair "should" be able to fit under a wig - but I may have to pull it up into triple pigtails and then pin it to the top of my head - there's too much hair for a small bun.  Best of all, they told me of a beauty supply shop about 25 miles away, where I could try on some wigs, to get ideas.  So that is now on my agenda...pushing thoughts of cutting my hair into the background until more research is done!

In my recent post about Punxsutawney, PA I mentioned that passenger operations on the rails through town are few and far between...  Below is a picture from October 14, 1979 of an excursion back in the day when the line was owned by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.  The first picture was taken just out of Punxsy, and approaching Riker Yard.  Tracks (and US Route 119) follow Mahoning Creek up the valley.  It was a long, full passenger train, and we (the passengers) had fun!

Below is a picture as the train passed through town...of the now-long-demolished passenger station.  (Notice the now-antique autos.)  It was a very pretty building...what a shame someone didn't put the Chamber of Commerce or police station in it, to keep a piece of railroad history alive...

It's hard to believe that was 35 years!  Time flies when you're having fun...

Friday, February 7, 2014

Feel the thunder; also (former) rails on the Delmarva...

The following picture is of ex-Reading 4-8-4 #2102, disguised as D&H 302, operating on the Pittsburg & Shawmut (spelling IS correct for the Pittsburg in the railroad's name) between Kittanning and Brockway, PA on 10/21/1973.  The location is a grade crossing at McWilliams, PA.

I rode the first excursion, and followed the second run, in a car.  It was a good thing I wasn't on board, as it was delayed out of Brockway's shop due to slippery, wet autumn leaves on the rails and the fact that there was no turntable to let the engine operate front forward..  The train was attempting to crest the hill "backing up," while towing the heavy passenger train.   Due to sand pipe arrangements, only some of the wheels got sand, thus the locomotive couldn't "get its feet."

So much coal was consumed in these futile attempts, that concerns were raised of running out before getting back to Kittanning, thus stranding everyone in the middle of the "forest primeval," in the dark.  And unlike more modern equipment, with antique cars there was insufficient lighting for safety in total darkness.  The P & S called out a couple of its diesels to pull the train, thus insuring its safe (if quite tardy) return.

Somewhere in the piles of stuff in the basement, I have an audio tape of the triple-header run-by...two diesels and the steam engine, all 3 "heavy on the throttle," as well as on the whistles.  It certainly was an impressive sound, one that I will never forget.

Just imagine:  hear that thunder...feel that ground shake....and smell that coal smoke!

At last report, #2102 it is stored away at the Blue Mountain & Reading in Pennsylvania, awaiting least it still exists.

With no current opportunities for anything except my normal (translation: androgynous) appearance, yours truly occasionally goes hunting for old railroad sights here on the Delmarva.  And strangely enough, a little coating of snow goes a long way toward helping recognize them.

I was aware of the former PRR route through the town of Easton, MD,  which has converted it to a hiking trail (but fortunately the station remains, in good repair.)  There are stories about the old "Ocean City Railroad" there - originally Baltimore and Eastern Shore Railroad, then Baltimore, Chesapeake and Atlantic Railway (controlled by the PRR.)  The two lines (PRR from Queen Anne to Oxford and the BC&A from McDaniel to Ocean City) allegedly crossed somewhere in the town of Easton...a spot I hadn't found.  Until that snow helped the right-of-way stand out, even though rails were lifted at some point between 1950 and 1972.  Satellite views from Google Maps were very helpful in pinpointing the locations!

This was taken looking east, while parked on the berm of US 50 north of Dutchmans Lane, at the former grade crossing.

This was taken on Washington Street in Easton, looking more-or-less southwest.   The hump with small trees and scrub bushes in the middle of the picture was the former right of way.  Snow and lack of foliage make it easier to spot.  And this is confirmed by following the line using Google Earth.

This was taken in the vicinity of Earle and Wye Streets.  Again, snow is helpful in highlighting the old right of way.

Now I just need to look for more of the line....or some of the other abandoned rails.  And there are many...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Punxsutawney...and, one from the archive:

It's quiet, and there's not much to write about.  So, with Phil still on everyone's mind, have any of you ever visited the borough of Punxsutawney, PA?  (Not Gobbler's Knob, the town of Punxsutawney?)  As you might have suspected, the town's name comes from Indian words - meaning roughly "town of the sandflies." 

There is reportedly a German tradition that if the sun comes out on the Candlemas holiday, a hedgehog will see its shadow and six more weeks of winter will follow.  Early settlers in the area included a large Germanic population, and the tradition followed...using groundhogs instead of hedgehogs.   Hence, Groundhog Day.

My wife and I drove through Punxsy in the spring of 2012.  First established in about 1816, Wikipedia says the population as of 2010 was 5,962, with an unknown number of groundhogs in residence (a bit of tongue-in cheek humor there, I guess.)  Located roughly 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, and 100 miles southeast of Erie, on US Route 119 (two lanes, no interstates here), the borough has a total area of 3.4 square miles.

It's a neat little former railroad town...the B&O operated Riker Yard nearby.   Nowadays, the yard is still there, and in use.  But tracks are owned/operated by the Buffalo & Pittsburgh (B&P) Railroad.  A high grade soft coal was mined in the area, and former industries served by the railroad included glass works, foundries, ironworks, machine shops and planing, flour, feed and silk mills.  Population has varied from about 6,700 in 1900, to about 10,300 in 1920,  down to the current 5,962.

No regular passenger trains serve the area...and there have only been a few special passenger operations.  (Pittsburgh and Erie are the closest large Amtrak stops.) Though years ago, I was lucky to have been able to ride one of them! 

A stylized groundhog greets you on the way into town...

Want information or souvenirs?  They have 'em both!

Every town has a main street...and this one is even called Main St....

The Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center...

In town is a small weather museum.  On its website, it appears to be devoted to (and provides interactive experiences about) all sorts of weather phenomena.  Quite interesting for a town as small as this.  While we didn't visit that museum, on our next trip through town, we might.... 

The Pantall Hotel...we were looking forward to lunch in the dining room.  But it was closed...

The town square...

Anyone recognize this character?

Yep, it's the early 2000's.  Unfortunately, the image has been transferred between so many different computers, so many different times, that the date has been lost.  But, since I'm wearing the sandals I wore at that car show back in 2002,  I'd guess this was probably taken in 2001, while my hair was still in the process of growing out.

Speaking of my hair, you might be able to see that it was much fuller then, than it is that style actually doesn't look too bad in the pic.  I call it my "beatle-bob" days.  However I'm not sure I could rock it this way now...maybe not quite enough hair.  

I might see if I can buy an inexpensive wig in a female bob style, and have it shipped to my beauty salon.  Then they can try to make it imitate what I'd look like if my real hair was done that way, and wear it home to let my wife see what I'd look like if I cut my hair.   I just don't feel comfortable making the BIG mistake of having it cut, finding it causes a major issue for her, and then having her insist that I cut it the rest of the way into a men's style, just to keep the peace on the home front. 

What do you think of this prehistoric look?  And do those of you who wear wigs think the stylist could get my real hair up under a wig, flat enough that it looks OK?  Advice, please!