Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Ladies," Pedicure, Car Show, & more

Wednesday at Lowe's, in androgynous mode (of course), the female clerks were very helpful...since I was the lady who couldn't find the portable electric heaters.  (They'd been moved from their earlier location.)   And Thursday, my wife and I were out walking in the 'hood (yes, hand-in-hand), when a resident (whom we don't know) addressed us as "Hi, ladies." I responded with "Hi." He soon corrected himself with "and Sir", and apologized.   My reply: "No problem, it comes with the territory" as I lifted up some of my hair, though my capris and flats probably were a bigger factor in this little "miss-identification."  (And I sure couldn't do anything about them.)  My wife gave me "that look," and chimed in with "Yes, it happens all the time."  But it was too late for him to see or hear her, because he'd gotten into his car.

I responded: "Luckily, it didn't happen often on our tour."  Her response was "Not every time...just most of the time."  "Well, the folks we know certainly didn't make the mistake.  Maybe you heard a few comments from strangers?  And I guess this neighbor hasn't been to any of the parties we've attended..."  Apparently wanting to avoid more discussion on this topic, she promptly changed the subject.  And that was just as well...   So, we kept on walking.  The good part was, we were still holding hands...

Saturday, the weather was beautiful, and I elected to get my shellac pedicure now, instead of waiting two more weeks.  Since my wife wanted my silver toe nail color to go away, I asked the tech for something more natural...she applied what appeared to be a thin, flesh-colored polish.  Fine with me.  When my pedi was complete,  and I was putting my sandals back on, she complimented the color and said it was very natural.  "It's the perfect color for you!"  Under artificial light, it truly was.  But outside, there's no mistaking it for anything except pink!  See below for an inside picture...nice and subdued:

So far, as of Monday evening, my wife hasn't said anything.  That's normal...I won't hear anything for a while.   Then one day in the future, out of the blue, she'll take exception to them!

This is the weekend I put my sandals away for the season (except for one pair, which will stay till after Thanksgiving).  It will help to eliminate the "shoe clutter" in my closet.  Time to start wearing my ballerinas again. 

The reverse will happen next spring...  This past summer already proved that I won't have much need for ballerinas!  So when that time comes,  all my closed shoes will be put in a sealed box in the basement, for the duration (except for one pair of ballerinas to wear when my wife wants to show my less-feminine side - or hide my painted toe nails!)  Then I'll have lots of room for sandals - and maybe even buy a new pair or two!

Sunday was a solo local car show day, and the weather was beautiful.  My attire was the usual capris and ballerina flats, with a sleeveless women's tee.  Nothing fancy.  I knew quite a few of the people there...including the registrar, and several car owners, so there was no chance of being "miss-taken" for a woman, even with my makeup, purse and long nails :-(

Unfortunately the car didn't win any trophies...but I've noticed that can be expected when other car owners do the judging.  It's not a case of good or bad...all the cars were quite good.  It's just easier for organizers to let people do the judging, than to organize a group of official judges.  Over the last 5 years, judged local shows have become scarcer than hen's teeth!  But it was nice to talk with people I haven't seen for a while, and renew acquaintances, regardless of the show results.  And that's always a "win!"

Some of you might have wondered what had to be done to my car to feel comfortable taking it to car shows.  Fortunately, it wasn't in bad shape to begin with.  As you may recall, it belonged to my father (who bought it new) and I got it from him in the early 1970's, after about 5+ years of being our "daily driver."   Subsequently, I had it repainted to take care of the faded areas, stone chips and "parker's nicks."  Then it began its retirement, living the life of luxury in a climate-controlled garage, out only a few times per year, though it was licensed continuously.

I put it back on the road in the latter half of the 1980's, and it was good enough to receive some trophies "as-is" - mostly at local car shows.  But it still didn't look "like new", and though it hadn't failed me mechanically, I was concerned about continued reliability in a car that old.  So, finally, in 2004 I shopped it for a complete repaint.  Well, at least, that's what it started out to be...

As I expected, "scope creep" found its way into the process once the job began.  Before long, here is what it looked like, with the entire front clip and engine removed, for repainting and renewing. 

Gee, something's missing!

This gave us access to previously-hidden original paint, for accurate color matching purposes...  That was definitely a good thing, since for some reason, paint codes didn't provide the proper color.  And it led us to a number of important bits and pieces (all bushings and tubber parts in the front end, among others) which I chose to renew, for safety's sake.  My plan continues to be:  keep the car in condition to take anywhere, anytime (well, except during the winter...I don't have snow tires for it...LOL!) 

The engine was removed for cleaning up and repainting, and many of the accessories, such as oil, fuel and water pump, were renewed.   

The engine, with over 100K miles, was still fairly tight, got 1000 miles per quart of oil, and passed all the tests.  Adding mega-bucks to the cost by completely rebuilding the engine, wasn't appropriate - nor was that much money in the budget.  So it got a few new gaskets (to stop oil leaks), several integral accessories were renewed, and they gave it a first-class paint job.  

Above is the completed renewal of the front end, before engine and front clip re-installation.   Rust visible in the first picture was all of the surface variety.  No frame,  floorboard, door or trunk welding, patching or replacing were required,  thanks to Ziebart rustproofing my father's dealer had given it when new.  (Funny how "over they years," that procedure has been made superfluous, due to improvements in new car construction.)

Then, like Humpty-Dumpty in the nursery rhyme, "all the king's horses and all the king's men" began to put everything back together again.   Reassembly will be covered in the next chapter of this story!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Quickie...it's been quiet on the gender front.

While the past couple weeks have been busy, there has been very little to talk about on the gender front.  I've been preparing the antique car for shows and another tour, and getting some little glitches fixed.  Plus cleaning up the garage.

Our weather has been cooling off - lows in the 50's and highs in the 70's.  More like the autumn, which is already here by the calendar.  So, my wardrobe has switched more to a fall-ish appearance...  stirrups or capris, pantyhose and - yes, my ballerinas.  I'm now able to wear those whenever I want!   Maybe it's because of my silver toe nails...which my wife doesn't like, but which I've declined to change till my next pedicure in early October.  Whatever the reason, I don't mind at all.  And I seem to be right in step with the ladies...who, on the cooler days, are wearing longer pants.

Though I love my capris, it feels wonderful to wear stirrup pants again...

With the thought in mind of the various volcanoes which have been erupting over the past year or so, discussion about the volcanoes of which Yellowstone is comprised, and the clips about them all on the Weather Channel on cable TV here in the USA, I present the following pictures of Capulin Mountain, the remains of a small cinder cone volcano along US-87, about 10 miles SE of Raton in the high plains of New Mexico.  I took these pictures in the winter of 1972 - hard to believe that it's over 40 years ago!

Colorful sunrise in the high plains... after a night at an $8 motel in Clayton, NM.  No, it was not a Super 8!

From the National Park Service:  Capulin Volcano National Monument is a well-preserved, relatively young (58,000 to 62,000 years old), symmetrical cinder cone. It rises steeply from the surrounding grassland plains to an elevation of 8,182 feet above sea level. The irregular rim of the crater is about a mile in circumference and the crater about 400 feet deep.

Capulin Volcano is one of the outstanding landmarks located in the northeast corner of New Mexico, where the rolling grasslands meet the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Capulin Volcano's highest point provides unobstructed, panoramic views of the volcanic field, distant snow-capped mountains, and portions of four states (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado).

That sloping stripe across the blackness of the cone is the driveway to the top...

At that time of year, the Monument was not frequently visited, as evidenced by this picture of my car (now my antique), being the only one in the parking area.   There weren't any other humans around!  Only Mother Nature...

Traveling has always been such fun...from away back.  Maybe that's why I enjoy it now...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Halloween plans, & more makeover pics

The topic of Halloween came up with my mother at the nursing home today, after I showed her some of the makeover pictures.   Her time frames have been affected by Alzheimer's, so she can't tell - and didn't ask - when the pictures were taken.  And no, she didn't recognize that the girl in the pictures was "moi."  Though I did tell her, and she seemed surprised.

I reminded her that I might be dressed a bit differently than usual that day, and she asked what I might be wearing.   So I showed her the picture of the skirt outfit below and reminded her that on Halloween, anything goes.   She hesitated a bit, then said, a Halloween costume should be OK.   "Just don't wear dresses at other times - you look like a girl."

I know she doesn't (can't) understand that this is how I prefer to look.

Mandy under a plane on display at Udvar-Hazy in August.

Basic makeup won't be a problem for me on Halloween, as I wear it much of the time. Lipstick, earrings and jewelry are easy to add at the last moment.  My biggest issue will be to find a way to change into Mandy's clothes and visit Mom in the morning, then change back to my usual androgynous mode and drive to the 2-1/2-day show which is scheduled to start that same day.  Cornfields will work for changing enroute to Mom's, if need be.  But there aren't any good options for changing, on the drive into DC.

I probably can use the restroom in the nursing home for changing, if I bring my regular duds in a plastic bag (but would that make me a bag lady?)   Or maybe I can stop at that roadside restaurant with the one-holer toilet on the way...if it hasn't closed for the season.  But that's something I still have time to plan...

 A very "dominant" pose?

I've been told that I look like I'm somone's Mistress in this type of pose...  And looking dominant's not necessarily a bad thing, though I'm not into that type of lifestyle.  

This pose is similar to a prior posted picture, with slight differences in hand placement.  I love short skirts...

In thinking about our entire week on vacation, I didn't hear the dreaded "S" word (except around the people in our group, who mostly know us).  My wife and I were addressed as "folks" a lot, particularly at restaurants, where they almost always asked if we wanted one check or two.  And almost universally, the check was placed between us, for us to decide who was paying (guess who paid?)  In the distant past, when I clearly presented as a man, this was never an issue...  I always got the check, and paid.  So I must look feminine enough to cause waitstaff second or third thoughts...and they "play it safe."  I'm fine with that...

When my wife and I were together on the trip (which was most of the time), we were frequently addressed as "ladies" at the different sites.  Men typically held the door for us, which was very nice, to know we were being seen as two women.  For me, "Ma'am" was a treat, only heard when we were traveling alone (without our friends.)  In any case, I felt feminine and had a great time for the whole trip.

One more tour this season...in October. 

And just for Pat, a picture of the old Erie train station in Cohocton, NY...taken in May of 2014.  (The Bath & Hammondsport operates over DL&W tracks from Bath to Cohocton, zigging over to the old Erie tracks in front of the station, to service local industries. And the tracks on to Wayland were recently re-activated by the LA&L, current operator.)  We weren't driving a Subaru on our trip, so we got past Gomer and Goober's garages without incident!

More later...


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A fun week, Part 2 (and makeover pic)

Canals turned out to be a big part of this area of Ohio.   We stopped in St. Marys, and walked around the Miami and Erie canal area.  As you can see, restoration is not finished, and a replica of a canal boat was propped up to "appear" to be floating.  Perhaps some day, the water will be able to actually float it.

For now, though, it looks nice, and adds a lot of period character to the area.

A quiet and peaceful walk by the restored part of the canal in St. Marys

Mandy by the canal boat on the active, restored part of the canal in Grand Rapids, OH

Going through a lock...

We rode the canal boat and enjoyed our first time going through a lock.   Other canal boat rides we've taken have been fun, but without the lock experience.  Then afterward, we watched the next boat go through "from above."  A very simple procedure, and an almost forgotten skill...

The above depot in Stryker, OH (built in 1900 and used until passenger service ceased in 1956 - passenger trains no longer stop there) once served the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad, and later,  the New York Central.  Stryker, named after Rome, NY attorney and railroad executive John Stryker, was founded in 1853, and likely would still be farmland without the influence of the railroad. 

During the heyday of steam locomotives, Stryker was the site of railroad "track pans" which allowed engines to scoop up water without stopping, saving valuable time for the railroads.  As dieselization occurred, track pans became obsolete, and they were operated for the last time in Stryker on or about March 1, 1954.

In 1966, the New York Central proposed abandoning its traditional long haul passenger service, and replacing it with high speed shuttles between major metropolitan hubs 200 miles or less apart.   As part of that investigation, the NYC conducted tests from Butler, Indiana, through Stryker, due to the long stretch of straight and level track.  (The NYC from Butler, Indiana, to Air Line Junction, Ohio, is in Guinness Rail - The Records as the third-longest stretch of tangent track in the US, at 68.49 miles. Stryker, Ohio, is between those two endpoints, not far from the Indiana - Ohio border.) 

Tests were conducted using the M-497 RDC equipped with an aerodynamic shovel-nose front, special instrumentation, and two turbojet engines mounted on the roof for power.   During the second  run on July 23, 1966, the North American rail speed record of 183.85 MPH was established.  This record still stands today...

The NYC's plans were scrapped following its 1968 merger with the PRR, despite the successful 1966  demonstration through Stryker.  The  M-497 was de-modified, and returned to service until the advent of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.

So,  northwest Ohio is an interesting area with a lot of railroad history, for those inclined to seek it out!

Anyone remember Jimmy Stewart?   I found this statue of him in front of the Indiana County Courthouse in Indiana, PA last Friday.  Jimmy was born in Indiana, PA in May of 1908.  This statue was dedicated in 1983 (he was present for it) and he died in 1997.

Jimmy Stewart in Indiana, PA

Curiously, Jimmy's voice (or that of a very good impersonator) guides you at the "Walk-Don't Walk" crossing in the center of town...

At last, another pic from my makeover last month...I love the outfit.  Yes, I have several more pix to add, in upcoming posts...one of them in this short skirt!  

Mandy's makeover by Beth...

More Later,


Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Fun Week...part 1

For the past week or so, my wife and I have spent a lot of time driving the antique car to a gathering of similar vehicles in Ohio.   We met a bunch of our friends there and as a group, visited some wonderful local sites.   I was unable to fully dress - for obvious reasons, but spent a lot of time in my usual androgynous mode.

First stop was a purse factory, where the fabric was being cut on a computer-controlled cutter, as pictured below:

Fancy machinery in the women's apparel industry...

In case of a tornado (far from a rarity in Ohio), employees have a safe place to go.

Michigan International Speedway, as seen from the track!

One of the highlights of the week of touring was a visit to Michigan International Speedway, a NASCAR track in southeastern Michigan.   While there was no racing that day, some folks took an opportunity to drive their cars around the track.  It was fun to experience the superelevated curves, and imagine what it must be like to drive there at 160 mph and higher.

Some folks who drove on the Watkins Glen course last spring, preferred the certainty of this type of racing (namely, go fast and turn left.)  Mandy is included in this group!

From experiencing down-to-earth adventures like racing, the group then headed to the (Neil) Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio.  Neil was a local boy, Korean war military pilot, NASA test pilot, and Astronaut - Gemini and Apollo programs.  Crowning glory was to be Mission Commander for the Apollo 11 lunar lander and the first man to walk on the surface of the moon (second was Buzz Aldrin, who accompanied him in the lunar lander.)

I can remember being glued to the telly as the events unfolded...for those of the right age, how about you?

A sample of lunar rock brought back to earth as a part of our nation's space program.

Interesting cobblestone pattern...and my ballerinas!

When the weather cooled off, I had to switch from my capris to my denim leggings.  And I found out that my wife has apparently tired of my silver toe nails, as she wanted me to get the color removed.  I declined to do it till my next pedicure, so she wanted me to wear my ballerinas for the entire tour. Which was fine with me...   (But is this a sign of things to come?  Time will tell.)

Incidentally, this tour was the first time I've noticed any reaction whatsoever to my attire, and discovering that was quite by accident...  At one of the shared breakfasts, I was wearing a tour group polo shirt, capris, pantyhose, ballerinas, and carrying my purse as we walked into the dining room.  As we passed by one table, a relative newbie (with his back to the aisle) was talking to his table mates (folks we know).  I heard him speak the word "crossdresser" as I passed behind him.   There aren't many words which have that sound.  Unfortunately I didn't hear enough of the conversation to determine the context, or whether he was referring to me.

Whether he previously had noticed our approach, and chose that moment to be speaking about cross dressers, or whether I was the morning's table discussion, I'll never know.   If it was said in a nasty context, eventually I'll hear about it from the others.  But it really doesn't matter...and if he shows up again, I'll follow the old adage about "keeping your friends close, and your enemies closer" if at all possible.  Maybe it can become a learning experience for him...and an outreach possibility for me?

Another post will follow as time permits...


Friday, September 5, 2014

Quickie: Summer in September, and The Handshake.

Only time for a quickie today:

The Labor Day weekend was very hot out here on the Delmarva...  Temperatures on Arthur (translation: "Our Thur" Mometer) are typically 4 degrees warmer than the official reading in winter, and 4 degrees cooler in summer.  It showed 89 - and 93 was shown as official.  The latter also coincided with the car thermometer.   Where was the heat when we wanted it, during the summer???  And how long will it stay around???  Now, almost a week later, it's still hot, though not quite as much. Does this burst of heat presage a cold, snowy winter in the Northeast?

According to the Farmer's Almanac, it very well may....  Time will tell.

At the nail salon, where I got my fingernails filled Wednesday, they put Travel Channel (with Samantha Brown and her world travels) on the telly, to keep customers entertained while the girls work on us.  And the program was Samantha in Japan.   Included in the show was a makeover, where she was put into full Geisha dress, hair and makeup.  Follow this link,  to see the finished product:           


The show had quite a few scenes of  Samantha's transformation, and - wow - she was very pretty as a Geisha girl.  That entire process really looked like a lot of fun!  I'm not of Oriental extraction, but someday, if the opportunity ever presents itself, that's something I'd love to try....even though I'd be "one very big girl."  The overall look is superbly feminine...and undeniably pretty!  (Love those dresses, they're simply a work of art by themselves!)

An interesting happenstance occurred Thursday at the local full-service tire shop, where "neither side of me" is known.  I walked in, dressed in my usual androgynous style, and was greeted by the middle-aged male clerk,  who appropriately enough, saw me (and addressed me) as a woman.  He not only noticed that I was driving a modern car when I drove in, but listened as I explained what I was there to see - 2 tires for my antique (and trust me,  a decent selection of radials for old style 14" wheels are getting tough to find.)

They didn't stock any 14" tires at all, and could only order one private-branded line of tires in the required size.  I asked about, and he showed me, the tread pattern they would have (ugh - not good at all - they would be very prone to slippage with a big V-8), and he continued to address me as "Ma'am."   I had not led him astray thinking I was buying (further, couldn't buy, since they didn't have any).  As we were about to part ways, he extended his hand, and we shook hands.  (It's seemingly a dying gesture nowadays...a mere formality which doesn't mean what it used to "back in the day.")

Since I wasn't truly en femme, my male habit stepped in, and I gave my typical handshake.   Oooopppsss.... Women typically give softer handshakes.  Guess that "blew my cover."   Or at least it might have...  But the good news is:  I didn't hear the dreaded "S-word" at all...he was very tactfful!

This really relates well to Meg's recent post titled "Oops".  While I always check my emails to be sure who's signing which emails, I guess I need to be more attentive as to how others are perceiving me in daily activities, particularly during personal interactions when I'm out and about "solo" (as opposed to with my wife.)  I'm so used to living (and being myself) in my androgynous outfits, that I'm not always as attentive as I should be.  Others don't necessarily see me as a guy.  Presentation is only partly physical appearance/gender cues.  My outfit, hair, eyebrows, nails and purse seem to generally cover that spectrum...  It's the little feminine mannerisms that really count!

Soooo...note to self:  In the future, I've got to remember to always respond appropriately in whatever gender the parties I'm interacting with "may" think I am...even if it means giving a soft, feminine handshake or other girly mannerisms!  (Of course, that has its downside, if they don't think I'm a gal...so we won't contemplate it too much.)

The next week is going to be busy, so I may not be posting again for a while...but I'll be back.