Wednesday, April 23, 2014

With apologies to Bobby Freeman...

Back in 1958, he sang "Betty Lou got a new pair of shoes..."  This year, it wasn't Betty Lou, it was Amanda Nicole...  Unfortunately, that doesn't quite rhyme, so it won't end up in a hit song.   And, they weren't exactly shoes - they were sandals.

How this all came to pass was a bit un-conventional.  My wife and I were sitting and talking, while the telly was on in the background, tuned to QVC.  These Clarks sandals were being shown, and as I glanced up, they looked fabulous on the female models wearing them.

While it had nothing to do with the topic we were discussing, I commented that QVC had my size, the sandals looked really good, and they might be comfortable enough to wear all day.  "With all the detailing on them, they're women's, and definitely feminine.  But then, so are your capris.  If you spend that much money for a pair of women's sandals that fit you, there's absolutely no reason whatsoever as to why you shouldn't wear them every day, with cute capri outfits.  At least till fall,  you won't need your stirrups, ballerinas or pantyhose."

My take on it is that she really wasn't in favor of me ordering them.  But no new ground was broken with her "ground rules."  I'd still be wearing clothes I already own - ones she knows that I wear, and that I'm very comfortable wearing.  Almost sounds like a home-brewed version of "if he HAS to do something, he won't like it and this issue will go away..."  But how good are the odds that it will work that way?

I did some research, and found a coupon for 20% off from another vendor, with free shipping - I hate to pay full price.  Needless to say, I ordered them.  When they arrived, I found they were as comfortable as they looked on the telly. Adjustable straps made for a perfect fit.  I wore them around the house (with my capris) the rest of the day - no issues and no comments whatsoever.

The next morning, I put them on again - with capris - and told my wife they still felt fabulous, so I was keeping them.  Her comment: "I've kept quiet, so you could make an unbiased decision.  They're clearly feminine but they do look nice on you, so keep them.  But from here on,  hold up your end of the deal.  Your outfits will be sandals, capris, and blouses or tops.  Occasionally, you've been wearing makeup.  Now, it's always necessary, whenever we leave the house together.  Once summer actually arrives,  experiment with shorts and tank tops - girls wear them a lot in the heat.  And, you'll end up with a nice tan on your arms, shoulders and legs."  

"There will be a few occasions when I want you in stirrups, pantyhose and ballerinas, with no makeup.  I'll always tell you - trust me, I won't forget. And that's always my call, not yours.  If we're going somewhere together, and I don't say otherwise,  just wear a cute capri outfit and paint up your face like I know you can.  No bargaining, no excuses.  Twice a week for our errands, I'll wear my capris, too.  Then when we're addressed as "ladies" by a clerk, as so often happens, both of us will 'look the part'.  Come cold weather, you're going to love capris so much that you'll hate to put them away for the winter!"

Truth of the matter is: that's already an accurate statement. 

At this point, my plan is to concentrate on keeping my legs silky smooth, and probably get more frequent pedicures.  I sure won't be able to hide my toe nails in flats any more - or my legs below the hem of whatever I'm wearing.

Segue ahead:  almost a week has passed since I began wearing sandals and capris every day. It's really a complete non-issue:  both are incredibly comfortable.  One of the female residents at the nursing home already told me that she liked my capri outfits with silver toe nails! "But honey, you need to tell your nail girl to do them in a brighter silver, so they show up better."  One of the staffers suggested that I start wearing bright red toe nail polish...  "That way your legs and feet will look their prettiest and most feminine, every day..."  I really love getting sincere positive reinforcement from other females...especially the ones who see me daily.  Just not sure about the red polish...

News flash...we just recently found out that our son is flying home for vacation, and bringing his girlfriend with him to meet us - for the first time, no less - starting the end of the week.  So this will may be my last post until after they leave.  Stay tuned...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quickie - Some miscellaneous happenings...

The weekend before last, our neighborhood had an official "yard sale."  While my wife and I didn't participate (thus leaving mom's and my clothes safe from sale), several homes around us set up tables.  After spending a busy morning out and about, upon my return I strolled up a couple houses to see how our neighbors (not the ones who saw me in a skirt last fall - instead, the nosey ones) fared.

As it turned out, they did relatively well that morning - for a yard sale...things went cheap, but that's to be expected.  The sad part was that she had a very nice selection of lined skirts left over, which seemed to be roughly my size, selling for cheap - like $1.  Though I didn't ratchet up the courage to ask about them...I'd really have loved to go through them and pick some I'd enjoy wearing.   But to their grandkids,  who visit frequently,  I'm still Mr. (insert my real name here.)   No need to publicly muddy the water any more than it already is, by my androgynous attire....

The community Easter party that night proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that not everyone here knows me as a guy.  The ladies at the door were handing out Easter necklaces to the females.  Both women knew me, and I didn't get one, since they were only for  ladies. 

A few minutes later, a woman assisting them for the evening came up to me and said "Oh, you didn't get a necklace, sweetie, let me get that for you..." and dashed right off.  She came back and said "the girls just advised me that boys don't get them, but it does look cute on (insert wife's name here, which she read from our name tags. Remember, my first name is now a girl's name.)"  My wife and I looked at each other as she left... My comment: "Looks like she didn't know me, with my long hair and nails."  My wife grimaced:  "Or your purse, stirrup pants, turtleneck and ballerina flats.  But she does now..."

In the rain last Tuesday,  I ended up taking my wife to a medical appointment on the other side of the bay.  It was a long, LONG drive in the hard rain.  On the way back, I had to run into a store to make a quick purchase.  As I was leaving the mall, a young mother with a baby in a stroller was having problems getting out of the store...the automatic doors were out of order.  I asked "Can I help you, Ma'am?"  Her reply:  "Oh yes, please.  We're sort of stuck here between the doors."  I helped her get the door open and the carriage out.  "Wow, thank you SO much for rescuing me, Ma'am!" 

Ah, yes...the wonderful feminine power of a pair of stirrup pants, purse, flats, long hair and nails...that's always a good feeling!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"My Antique Road Show" Part 2 - Invitation to The Gathering

On to the next stop:  Deal Island.  After leaving Nanticoke, I navigated my way on back roads, to Whitehaven, where a ferry carries cars across the Wicomico River.

On the Whitehaven Ferry...almost to the other side of the river!

Maximum load: 3 cars and a total of 6 passengers.  A fun way to cross the river!  Not at all like the ferry I took to Martha's Vineyard last October!  And a much shorter ride, too - only about 7 minutes.  And then a bit of a drive on to Deal Island.

A while back, I blogged about my visit to Hooper Island.  In many ways, Deal Island looks very similar.  This seems to be the way-of-life around these old fishing towns.   Lots of folks in 4WD's (complete with rifles in gun racks), a few "regular" type cars, and a bunch of boats.  Some very well-kept houses and house trailers, some "not so much," standing water in low-lying areas, a bunch of abandoned homes, businesses, and a derelict church or two. Very friendly people, though.

I finally had to plot a potty happens to everyone eventually!  But remember, I'm in unfamiliar territory, wearing makeup, lipstick, a skirt, tights and flats, and driving a rather ostentatious 47-year-old car with plenty of V-8 rumble - the equal of some 4WD's I've heard.  There were eyes on the car as I passed the town dock heading east, en route to the end of Deal Island Road at Wenona (land's end), where I reversed course and headed back to the dock.  From past experiences, docks tend to have either restrooms or porta pots...and this one proved to be no exception.

However, there was some kind of event already in progress, as other vehicles (both cars and 4WD's)  were arriving, and people were getting out.  There was music playing on a PA system (sounded religious, but couldn't hear it well), and a bunch of tables were set up in the parking lot, as if ready for a feast.  Mother Nature dictated that I had no choice but to stop, regardless of the consequences, because the next nearest place is probably a half hour or more back up the road.

A couple of heavy-bearded, grizzled-looking guys in bib overalls (who appeared to be about 50 years old, but probably were only 35) were sitting at the store across the street, and wandered over as I pulled in.   Using female form of address, they asked the typical questions about the car, which I answered as I got out;  then I excused myself to the restroom.   I must have "passed muster" with them after they looked me over from "nose to toes": one of them said "the door on the right is the ladies' room."  I could almost "feel" their eyes watching my legs, butt and skirt movement as I walked away...have any of you ever gotten that feeling?

Turns out that both restrooms were handicap-accessible (translation: huge) one-holer porta pots, permanently enclosed in buildings, with real doors and real locks, to make them look like real restrooms.  Interesting - I've never seen that before, and today  that type of thing presented itself "twice."

When I came out of the ladies' room, (yes, I'm beginning to like the sound of that), I started back to my car, passing a woman headed to where I just came from. She smiled and said hi, and I reciprocated.  Then I realized that a couple of other men wanted to talk with me.  One, with papers in his hand, smiled and said "Ma'am, have you filled out your door prize form yet?"  I replied no, but thanked him and said I was just passing through, so I didn't need to.  Another man said "Ma'am, why don't you stay for the program, and then join us for dinner afterward?"  I thanked him profusely for his kind invitation, and actually began to regret my inability to stay.  THAT would have been a first, and an adventure in itself...

But, I held out my left hand (displaying my engagement ring) and said "I already have a dinner invitation, about 100 miles from here..." The guy seemed genuinely disappointed, and thanked me for stopping by.  It was wonderful to get such acceptance from so many folks.   Unfortunately, dummy here was too nervous to have the presence of mind to find out what the program actually was!  My guess is "church-related."

A segue for those unfamiliar with Maryland politics: sparsely-populated rural Maryland is well-known for being staunchly conservative, and much more inflexible than the bigger, more liberal political subdivisions like Baltimore City and four (or five) big surrounding counties. But despite that minor detail, my reception seemed very genuine and hospitable.  So if I'd been able to stay, I believe I'd have been accepted as a woman.  If not, I'd have gotten a chance to try chipping away at negative conservative stereotypes of TG folks, one person at a time.  

Back on topic: I'd have had trouble explaining "staying for the festivities" to my wife, who was expecting me for dinner.  I wouldn't even dream of driving the antique home at night, for fear of collisions with deer (we seem to have a bumper crop of them - a lot of road kill this spring). And lastly, there are no motels out there in the sticks.  Those were all compelling reasons why I was destined to leave. 

There was one more reason, which I certainly couldn't ignore any longer:  my makeup had probably just "timed out".  It was still several hours till sunset, and I was getting antsy about my beard re-appearing.  (Without a mirror in the pseudo-restroom, with no sink or running water, I couldn't tell - it may have already showed up - and since I hadn't brought my MAC makeup, I couldn't re-apply a heavier coat.)  It definitely was time to depart.

After saying good-bye to my new acquaintances, and, without wasting any time checking the status of my makeup in the car's mirror (since its condition no longer mattered),  I put my skirted butt in the driver's seat, twisted the key, and my trusty old V-8 sprang to life once again.  Off we went...rumbling back through the endless marshes and wetlands of a Deal Island springtime.

Endless marshes of Deal Island...from horizon to horizon, as far as the eye can see, with the only sign of civilization being the pole line alongside the highway..

On the way home, I had the challenge of finding a place with one-holer restrooms, so I could switch back to wasn't going to happen in the car.   An hour from home, a roadside restaurant appeared, and it had an outside-accessible restroom.  I was able to make the change there.   Bet the folks getting into the car next to me wondered about the girl going into the restroom carrying something denim...and they were gone when I returned to my car.

The day after my trip, I had to pay a "king's ransom" to fill the almost empty 20 gallon gas tank with premium.   I was wearing one of my usual androgynous stirrup pants outfits.  At the gas station, I encountered an elderly man in the car at the next pump, who asked several questions about the car,  ending each one with "dear."   I guess he was blind!  (Oh can that be - he was driving!)  Yes, I had shaved closely, though I certainly wasn't wearing any makeup! The only answers are:  1. He was being polite, or 2.  He wasn't particularly observant.  I'll never know which it was...but the smart money is on #2!

I've begun to appreciate this type of impromptu casual and pleasant male definitely spiced up my morning, as well as confirmed my feminine everyday appearance.  And it certainly beats hearing the dreaded "S" word!

And, yes, I'm already checking maps for more places to explore in a skirt...there are plenty. Just need a car show in the area to make it work next time.  Unfortunately, the rest of April doesn't look too promising....nor does May.  We'll see how soon Mandy can get out again...maybe the next time I can wear the new top with my skirt!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"My Antique Road Show" Part 1 - Wig store and my skirt...

At last!!!   The weather turned out to be beautiful over the weekend.  Though a bit cool, it was far too nice to stay in, and coincidentally was time to take the antique car out for a test run,  checking the myriad of things done to it over the last 12 months.  (Before you ran perfectly, if not economically - it still gets only 15 mpg, even after the work.  Some things never change.)

The car and I stayed on the Delmarva...there's plenty to see here.  I drove nearly 300 miles, and found a place we've all heard about: "Hell's Half Acre," near Oxford.  If you take a close look at the street sign, that would have been too long, so it was shortened to "Hels."  (Or maybe the short version was the family's name?  Don't know.)

Oxford, one of the oldest towns in Maryland, has a population (2010) of 651, and the town officially marks 1683 as the date of its founding, because in that year it was first named by the Maryland General Assembly as a seaport.   And it was indeed a busy colonial seaport, allegedly second only to Annapolis in business.  But no more...

Visiting "Hels Half Acre"

Unfortunately, the shortcut to Nanticoke (my next stop) included the Oxford ferry, which is the oldest privately-operated ferry service still in continuous (though seasonal) use in the United States  However, it was not yet open for the season.

Known today as the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, it was established in 1683 and continues its service every summer, carrying passengers and their cars across the Tred Avon River.  I noted that the dock had restrooms, which I availed myself of...   Come to find that they built a structure around two porta pots, making them permanently stationary, but they look much more presentable, and in keeping with the local architecture that way.

At the dock, in Oxford.  Notice, the wind hadn't picked up yet.  My hair isn't in major disarray "yet"! 

After leaving Oxford, I decided to detour by the wig shop my beautician mentioned a while back.  Since time was not an issue, I figured it'd be appropriate to see what they stock.  The good news is: they're still in business!  The bad news is: the area in which they're located is definitely not appropriate for an antique car to be left alone...located between a thrift shop and a beauty salon with low advertised prices, in a tired old strip mall.

I took a chance by parking the antique out in the middle of the lot, with ten or more open spaces all around me.  For a few minutes it shouldn't hurt, right?  I walked in, dressed as shown above (but also carrying my purse).  Frankly, I saw an amazing selection of attractive wigs, in various price ranges (from cheap to O-M-G-expensive.  My beautician was right, they have a good selection.  But there was nobody to help...   

Next stop: the counter, where I told the attendant that I needed help fitting a wig (since I know nothing about putting them on, or about hiding my real hair under them) and asked if I need to make an appointment in advance.  "Yes, Ma'am, we'll be able to help you, and no Ma'am, you don't need an appointment."  I thanked him and told him I was short on time today, so "I'll come back another day," and headed back for the car.   Got there just in time to find some folks with 3 kids, in a beat-up 4-door clunker, pulling in right next to me...out in the middle of a still-empty parking lot.   With me standing there watching, they were careful to not dent the antique with their doors.  Who knows what would have happened if I had still been in the store?  

OK, time to "make like a shepherd and get the flock out of there...."   So,  a quick turn of the key and I was "on the road again" - toward Nanticoke.  Since I was wearing makeup, lipstick, a matching bracelet and necklace, and engagement ring, I figured it was finally time to get into my skirt.  Found an empty stretch of 2-lane road, away from houses, and pulled over. 

Though black tights look great under my black skirt (and it slipped on easy enough over my denim leggings). the leggings themselves were fairly tight, and tough to take off over my legwear in a confined space.  Obviously this was a planning failure on my part.  The steering wheel kept getting in the way, and it isn't one of the new adjustable types.   I struggled for a few minutes -  and finally had no choice but to open the car door.  Then close it, then open it, and close it and open it again, as traffic came and went.   Wonder where that traffic came from, all of a sudden?  

Finally, I'd extricated myself from my leggings, but decided there was absolutely no way I'd be putting them back on without leaning on a wall or sitting on a chair.  Definitely NOT in the driver's seat...  And the passenger seat/floor was too full of "stuff" to be helpful (spare parts, tools, food, CD's (yes, I have a CD player in the glove box) and other things I brought along were piled there.  Though that area might be useful for changing if I pack the car differently next time...this time at least, there was no doubt, I was going to be wearing my skirt for the rest of this trip!

Nanticoke is an unincorporated community of about 225,  on the shore of the Nanticoke River, near its mouth.  The area is very flat, and there are quite a few abandoned houses/businesses - apparently common in these formerly bustling communities.  They had a nice little park, with breakwater, which is where I got the only usable picture of me in my new skirt.  It was far too cool because of strong winds, to even think about wearing my "thin" new blouse, and my hairdo completely destroyed itself from gusts, as I set up the tripod and posed for the picture.  So, that was the end of my selfies for the day...

Knowing that real restaurants are at a premium in little towns like this, and the few there are probably like the Oxford Ferry (closed this early in the season),  I came properly equipped with rations.  So I grabbed a quick lunch out of my cooler in the town park, while I was visiting Nanticoke.

En route out of town, I noticed one of the little burgs along the way was named "Bivalve."  It's an unincorporated community of about 210 population, also near the mouth of the Nanticoke River, and it takes its name from the oyster (a bivalve), upon which the town's (and the area's) economy once depended.

At the park, in Nanticoke.  It was the last semi-decent pic I could get because of the strong winds...from the right in the picture - notice the tall grasses bending to the left!

Stay tuned for Part 2 to follow...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A close shave...

...And it has nothing at all to do with facial hair, razors or shaving cream!

You may be wondering why my posts have been a bit sparse lately.  In addition to the yearly problem during the winter of "noplace to go," I've been having some medical issues, leading to a number of doctor appointments and tests.  (Which so far have all come out "no problem" but still awaiting a few results.)   At one point, though, I was seriously concerned that it might lead to hospitalization. 

Well, now - that's not a very good situation for someone whose wife is still not "with the program" at home.  What's a girl to do?  I wasn't willing to purge, and my wife finding a suitcase full of women's clothes in the basement (she's prone to doing periodic clean-ups) wouldn't be a good thing.  So, even though my mother and I aren't currently the same size (at one point we were, since I'm able to wear her stirrup pants),  several months ago when this all started, I added my clothes to the ones Mom no longer wears (the ones we've been storing for her since she became a resident at the home several years ago.)   Sounds like a plan so far - right? 

Well, maybe not so much...

Last week, along comes my wife, in major clean-up mode once again.  (Spring Cleaning?) She goes through Mom's stuff, pulling out a bunch of her things that "haven't been needed", for donation to Charity. And I noticed that the places they were stored (along with my stuff) were now empty.  All gone.  Fortunately, the  donation bags were sitting in the corner, awaiting a trip to the donation center.

Yours truly was not happy...first, and most importantly, Mother COULD wear some of her things if necessary, like if there was a major disaster in the laundry at the nursing home, which ruined some of what she has there.  At least they were hers.  And commercial laundries are notoriously hard on clothes. Even if they don't ruin them immediately, eventually she will be needing them.  Second, I know how tough buying new clothes for Mom would be, on both of us, since she can't go along and try them on.  Buy and return, buy and return.  And lastly, I was concerned that my own skirts and blouses were included in the donation bags (which they ultimately were.)

This little incident was not the high point in our relationship...definitely not a banner day for either of us.  I pointed out that they were not her things, or mine,  to clean up - they belong to my mother, not us, and I never so much as touched her mother's things when we had them in our house.   After much "lively" discussion and some hard feelings, the end result is: Mom's clothes (yes, including mine) are are all piled back in the basement, pending putting away.  And I'm just glad I intercepted the donation before everything went away.  "A close shave," to say the least...

Hopefully, my wife's future clean-up efforts will be limited to items we have acquired but no longer need or use, and she'll keep her mitts off Mother's (and thus my) things.  Fortunately, the hard feelings lasted only one day...that's the good part.  But with my things now commingled in piles with Mom's, and at the moment in plain view, I don't feel comfortable ruffling around in the piles to find an outfit for my next weekend.

So, what's a girl to do?   Retail Therapy!   Off to Willy's  (Goodwill - Willy's, get it?  Bad Pun, Sorry!)  In my size, they didn't have anything with a "pop of color."   That was disappointing.  But calling my name was this outfit...which to me looks sufficiently business-casual for traveling, and nice enough for an evening meal.  It should work with flats or my Mary Jane heels, and look nice with not only black tights, but also nude stockings. 

Best part about the skirt is that it was brand new, for $12.  Very comfortable.

This would also look nice with stiletto heels, I think....

I'm contemplating my silver link necklace and bracelet, and silver clip-on pearl earrings.  What do you think?

Now all I need to do is find a place to wear it....and I'm working on that.