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!

Halloween - OMG! Part 2

It was a long drive from Mom's nursing home to the sale venue...where I would be spending the days this weekend.  And being not so fond of traffic, I was hoping for the best on the way.  I was very lucky.  It was my smoothest ride ever to get there.

When I arrived, I was anxious to see this year's reaction to my outfit.  Didn't take long to notice women checking out my legs - the stirrups and flats were plainly visible.  As I walked in, what did I see, but someone in a full witches' costume - including a skirt!

She was talking to a lady vendor about her costume and as I liked both the booth's contents and her costume, I spent some time checking the wares.  It was easy to see that the "witch" had long, beautifully done nails, each with Halloween nail art, and was wearing full makeup.  But she was not making much of a pretense of disguising her voice in her conversation with the clerk, even as I moved closer.

I spoke first and complimented her outfit.  She thanked me, in her femme voice, and the three of us all started talking.  She gave up on her femme voice, and showed us her nails.  She spent a fortune on Halloween nail art on all 10 nails...they were beautiful.  She actually makes no pretense of using the women's room.  Last year she made quite a stir by using the men's room while wearing a hoop skirt!   She related some of her experiences, and I chose to out myself to them.  The lady vendor was fine with it...and the Witch (who was wearing her "guy name" attendee badge) commented on how he was wearing a wig, and he wished his hair was long like mine. 

We chatted for a few minutes and I found out that (s)he was headed for a something in Gettysburg, PA.   Like to pick up a skirt!  Never did find out what's going on there for Halloween, though it probably is some kind of a "haunted thing" - Gettysburg is reputed to be one of the most haunted towns around.  I guess that's due to the number of folks who died in battle there.  Then I finally had to get back to selling.  He plans to come back next year (has been there before while dressed, though I never saw him) and he and the lady vendor both want me to attend dressed.

Not sure what I'll do about that...but for some reason my stirrup pants and pantyhose with flats and purse attracted a lot of looks today...all from women.  I'll see how things go over the next year!

I saw the "witch" twice more during the day...he looked nice each time.

The meet-up I'd hoped for, with one of the girls from on the blog, unfortunately fell through at the last minute :-( and that meant I would have to go to Red Lobster alone.  I was well received (as a woman) at RL, enjoyed a tasty and relatively economical meal, and headed back to the motel when I was done.  Here's how I was dressed for the evening.   I recruited the desk clerk (who remembered me from last year - I wonder why?) to take my pix...

That gave her a few minutes of an otherwise dull and boring evening.

Lots more coming, as things are in constant change...hopefully all good.   Stay tuned!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Out and about, part 2

Another picture of me, this time with beautiful autumn leaves in the a hilltop overlook in north central New Jersey, with spectacular views.

While carrying my purse and looking for the restroom, I was directed to the ladies' room by the staff.  Because the people with us (and standing in line for the potty) know me as a guy, I used the men's room and had no problems.  But being directed to the restroom I'd really prefer to be using, is always so very affirming!

Autumn leaves...and a red polo top for some contrast.

The weather was warm enough that day, to cause me to wish I'd worn my capri pants.  But I didn't...and at that point, couldn't do much about it. 

Obelisk at High Point State Park...on a dreary day.

The next day, we drove up to High Point State Park (near Clinton, NJ) to take in the view from High Point Monument, which at 1,803 feet above sea level, is a spectacular panorama of rich farmland and forest, soft hills and lush valleys in three states.  Unfortunately, when we arrived it was closed - but most of us probably wouldn't have hiked the 200+ steps to get to the top anyway.  We'd have settled for views from the bottom of the obelisk...

The motel that night was where I found out about an unknown antifreeze leak in my antique car.   Minor, to be sure, but a leak nonetheless.  If it developed more fully enroute, it could have caused major coolant loss.  Several of the mechanics in our group suggested using stop-leak to get it home, thus avoiding any chance of a rip-off from unscrupulous gas stations or dealerships, since none of us had the tools or materials to work on it "in the field."

I took their advice, used the stop leak, and it worked.  Fortunately, the rest of our excursion was uneventful, mechanically speaking!   (Now I just have to get it to my mechanic...but I have time for that since it won't be going any place long-distance till next spring.)

On this excursion, we were able to get into a tour of Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall.  You might remember this venue from watching many years of the Miss America pageant broadcast from there.   It was so very fascinating...especially to be standing on the very stage where so many beautiful women have "strutted their stuff" each year, during the pageant.  I could almost hear the echoes of many past celebrations:

"There she is, Miss America
 There she is, your ideal
 The dream of a million girls..."  

There was only thing wrong...I wasn't wearing a gown, heels and makeup!  Now, THAT would have been fun!

The stage at Boardwalk Hall.  People are gathered at the hall's Organ Console.

View of the arena, being set up for hockey.  Notice the organ rooms on either side of the stage...and on the side walls.

The world's largest organ console, which operates the world's largest pipe organ.

Per Wikipedia, construction of the organ took place between May, 1929 and December, 1932.

It holds several entries in the Guinness Book of World Records, including "Largest pipe organ ever constructed", "Largest musical instrument ever constructed" and "Loudest musical instrument ever constructed", and it holds several records in the organ world. It is one of only two organs in the world to have an open 64' rank and the only organ to have stops voiced on 100" of wind pressure. Its console features seven keyboards, called Manuals.

The organ's main console is the biggest in the world. It has 1,235 stop tabs controlling 587 flue stops, 265 reed stops, 35 melodic percussions, 46 non-melodic percussions, 164 couplers, 18 tremolos, 120 swell pedal selectors for the 6 swell pedals controlling 15 swell boxes and a stop crescendo pedal. The console is also the only one in the world with 7 manuals.

Antique picture of some of the pipes.

We were able to listen in on a recital, or demonstration of the organ, which was amazing!  And to think, only since 1998 has it been made about 25 percent operational...there were (still are) long standing damages from flooding and roof leaks, which are being repaired as time and grant monies permit.

They estimate complete restoration within the next ten years...if it happens, we'd love to go back and hear the grand sound of the world-record-holding 33,114 pipes, all in full operation! (And maybe by then I'll be wearing a dress???  Time will tell.)

More later...


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Out and about, part 1

Some days you just have to smile...

While heading for my mother's nursing home this morning, doing the 55 mph speed limit or just slightly above, I was noticing a lot of oncoming cars flashing their headlights.  In the USA that is typically a sign that the "boys in blue" are enforcing speed laws up ahead.

A non-descript older Japanese coupe with a loud "fart-can" muffler rolled by me at 70 mph-plus, followed shortly by a pretty dark blue Maserati going even faster, apparently trying to catch up with it.  How they both missed seeing the flashing headlights is beyond me...

When I crested the next hill a couple of miles further up the road (yes, there really are small hills on the Delmarva), there they were, parked on the shoulder...   An officer had pulled BOTH of them over - the Maserati still behind the Tuner - and they sat there awaiting their just desserts.  Maryland's general fund will certainly appreciate the significant boost from their fines.

But it was pretty sad that the Tuner was able to stay ahead of the Maserati...which is supposed to be a fast car.  Maybe the driver just didn't know how to make it go faster?

One of the places we visited with our group of car friends was the Cape May (New Jersey) lighthouse.  It guards the entrance to Delaware Bay.  Built in 1859, it was the third lighthouse built in this area, replacing earlier ones from 1823 and 1847. (Those other locations are now under water.)  We've been there before (in 2004), but hadn't been able to get pictures in light quite this perfect.   The weather was simply ideal...

Cape May Lighthouse...

Before you, I didn't climb to the top.   Did that last time, when I was younger - and I still have the pictures.  So the prospect of dealing with 199 steps each way wasn't particularly appealing...

Next, we stopped at the Cape May County Zoo.  Their lush country gardens and the well-kept, extensive natural areas were impressive, particularly because it was county (as opposed to state) funded.  The over 550 animals in residence (representing over 250 species) entertained us with their antics.  This swan was having a good time in the duck ponds, just paddling around and enjoying the sunshine. 

Swan at Cape May Zoo

Then it was off to the Wildwood Naval Air Station's aviation museum at Rio Grande NJ, in former hangar #1.  The airport began life in 1941 as the Naval Air Station Rio Grande.  But there was lots of confusion with Rio Grande, Texas.  So in 1943 it became NAS Wildwood, and used for training dive bomber pilots.  Following WW II it was deemed excess to US Navy requirements and was deeded to Cape May County.  It transitioned to a civilian air field, which is still in operation today as Cape May County Airport.

Here they had interesting samples of various flying machines from many eras, and their ancillary equipment, all housed in former hangar #1.  Yours truly got to try out a simulator, and pose with a military Jeep...

Wildwood Naval Air Station, Aviation Museum, Rio Grande, NJ

You might wonder what kind of a necklace is around my neck...  That's not a necklace.  It's my car keys, on a lanyard. It totally eliminates the possibility of accidentally being locked out of my car, since I always lock the door with the key around my neck.  Been there, done that - see my post from 3/21/13 titled "Cars, Skirts and the Waltons."

My wife and I  stopped for lunch with a male friend of ours...others in the group had gone elsewhere.  We were wondering about the food...but as it turned out, we had no worries.  Great little restaurant.  It was interesting that the staff of young folks there universally addressed me as "Ma'am." From the time we arrived until we left.  That included directing me to the women's room, which I had no choice but to use because the men's room was occupied by our friend.   Good thing my wife stayed at the table to watch his camera and our purses - it might have been a bit awkward for me to be washing my hands in the women's room as she entered.  A more realistic concern was that I'd end up emerging  from the women's room just as our friend came out of the men's room!  Fortunately, it didn't happen.  But it certainly would have been tough to explain...even though he had heard the staff's many "miss-identifications."

After lunch, we had a wonderful chance to sample some pretty fall foliage...mostly shades of yellow.  So far, color has eluded us on the Delmarva.  At home, we're stuck with leaves that are "brown or down."   It's been a very dull everyone loved to see a more pronounced show of colors, such as those in the picture below.

Pat, I was thinking of you as we drove past Flemington, and under the railroad tracks of the Black River and Western on some little country by-way.  It's too bad we didn't have time to go into town and look around...maybe next time.

Fall Foliage -  Central New Jersey

More to follow....

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Ladder 49" & "Is that a TG or maybe TS?"

Did anyone watch the motion picture "Ladder 49"?  I didn't, and from the reviews, neither did lots of people.  But from Wikipedia, I found that it was a 2004 drama about the heroics of fictional Baltimore firefighter Jack Morrison, who dies trapped inside a burning grain elevator and warehouse.  

Though not marked, the facility they used to film the fire scenes (badly burned from the flames) can still be found - at the entrance to the road leading to the NS Savannah.  The folks I talked to as I was taking pictures were able to identify it.  Being made of concrete insures that they (elevators and warehouse) will be around for a long time to come, unless someone pays to demolish it!

This morning during breakfast at the Wingate Inn, my wife and I sat next to a very friendly young (20-ish) male NJ resident, who was interested in our group's cars and where we were visiting.  Although our visit was over and we were ready to go home, we told him where we had been. 

Bear in mind that I was in my usual androgynous mode (as I was for the entire time away from home):  stirrup pants/jean leggings, pantyhose, ballerina flats, a women's top and sweater, necklace, purse and my new pink nails.   He had a somewhat progressive hair style, short and close cut on the sides - definitely male, but it wouldn't have taken much of a wig and some jewelry/makeup to move him over to "our side of the aisle."  And he definitely checked me out as I sat down.  I could "feel" his eyes on me, from my long hair right down to my flats.

He soon changed the subject to his own situation - going to school to get a teaching certificate, in history, and he pointed out that he really loves history.  I commented that it's unusual, though not unheard-of, for a guy to teach history.  All but one of my history teachers were women.   He said that the joke among history students is "the best way to look for a job teaching history is to watch the obituaries...once history teachers get a job, they stay till they die." 

I almost fell off my seat when he told us "But there's a pretty woman inside me, just waiting to break out and get out there and teach!"  My wife, who was a history teacher for a while "back in the day," hit the ground running and was able to talk about her days teaching, until we were done eating. Then we said our farewells, and started on the way home.

In the car, nothing was said.  I was wishing there had been a way to engage the guy a bit on the topic, since he seemed very open about it.  But not around my wife!

The topic didn't come up until I finally asked if she thought the guy might be transgendered and waiting to transition.  She said "Could be, but I sure wasn't going to go there.  He could have brought it up if he had wanted to talk.  It could have been very awkward for me. You probably didn't notice him checking out your appearance."  And then she promptly changed the subject.

Since it would have been a long, silent ride home if I tried to bring it up again, I didn't.   But I still think he'd have made a very cute girl if he were made up and put in a nice outfit.

Segue to food...something we saw a lot of on this trip.  If you ever get to Baltimore with some time on your hands, this should be an  interesting place to have lunch.  Looks like a ship, but it's "smoke and mirrors."    The Captain James is on Aliceanna Street, not far from Fells Point, a trendy area.  They have a parking lot - that's a good thing in an area where it's tough to find a spot on the street and there are lots of walk-in customers.  And it's been around for a long time.

Maybe someday I'll get there...unfortunately, it's too far from home for a quick meal.

More later,


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quickie - Pink nails...and NS Savannah

My wife is still OK with the pink acrylic on my nails - the only comments have been favorable ones about their shorter length!  And the skin on my little finger where the nail ripped off, is healing very nicely.  It's all good...

Does anyone remember the world's first atomic-powered merchant vessel, the NS (Nuclear Ship) Savannah?  Folks my age may - I can remember building a model of it back in the early 60's when it was getting ready to begin service, as a prototype design passenger-and-freight-carrying ship, to display new technology in the Eisenhower Administration's "Atoms for Peace" program.

The Savannah was in service from 1962 to 1972, proving that ship-board atomic power was feasible.  Being a prototype, it was not "profitable."  (Unless "knowledge" translates into "profit.")  But much was learned, leading to development of today's atomic powered military ships, in the US as well as several other countries.

When it was retired,  nuclear fuel was removed, the reactor made inoperable and radiation was cleaned up.  Then the ship was mothballed, finally being towed to Baltimore in 2008, for long-term lay-up.  When I drove by the dock recently, the gate to where it's berthed was open and civilians were present, so I drove in.  Got a few pictures...


Forward view...


From mid-ship aft...

 Notice the propellers are is up on deck...

Still on the road with the antique car...bye for now!


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The bank, auto parts store, & nail salon.

On Tuesday, I visited the drive-up at our bank, and sent the paperwork into the office by pneumatic tube.  I was in plain sight of, and being served by, the regular teller who takes care of me every time I go into the office.  And today, she addressed me as Mrs Sherman.  Now, that's fine with me, of course.  But, I have long hair, and my wife has short hair.   Maybe she had just attended a sensitivity training class...or perhaps she needs new glasses?

My friend repaired the broken part for my antique car a couple months ago, which resolved my smog control issue for now.  But I'd advertised for a used replacement part, in a car magazine.  Someone called while I was at the car show last weekend, offering me similar equipment from the next size larger engine.  My wife phoned me with the information, and there were several knowledgeable folks at the show to ask about it at the show.  Their consensus was "I don't think it will fit, but don't know for sure."
When I got home, I decided to stop at the local dealership to inquire about the part's number for both engines, figuring if they were the same, it was the same part.   "Ma'am, our records don't have to be kept for more than 7 years.  But we go back 15.  We can't help you.  Sorry."  And he moved on to other duties behind the counter, basically ignoring me.   Before I traded in my '91 last year, a different (and much more helpful) parts clerk at this same dealership helped me track down a part number for it from their records.  And that car was 22 years old at the time.  So this guy's answer was obviously "baloney", "poppycock," "horsefeathers," "bulls**t" or whatever you call it in your part of the world.  I truly believe he was saying "she's just a dumb woman - I'm not wasting any time on her."  

I'm certainly flattered that I "passed," without even trying (wearing an everyday capri outfit, ballerina flats and purse).  But I  felt I was being treated as inconsequential and not worthy of being helped.

Needless to say, that was our impression of the entire dealership, from the time when my wife and I were shopping and negotiating for our new daily driver.  While constantly addressing us as "ladies," (despite access to my driver's license for test drives) they talked "down to us" the entire time we were there.   That bad impression of them continues to this day, because we told them "after receiving their first used car solicitation mailing," that we had traded our old car in elsewhere.  They still send monthly mailings offering us big bucks for our old (insert make and model here).   This confirms that the place has some real issues.   We're just glad we bought our car from another dealership.

Next I headed for a national chain's auto parts store.  Their clerk actually invested the time to go into their computerized records and look.  "Ma'am, the parts are listed, but with no part numbers.  That means they're no longer available in our stock."  I asked if there was anyone at the main office who could help retrieve that part number info.  He said, "No, Ma'am.  Obsolete things get their numbers permanently purged."   Here, I didn't get the "go away lady, you bother me" brushoff (though I really was hoping for a more positive answer.)  That's very much to their credit...and they've been nice to this lady each and every time she's been a customer there.  (Maybe that's why I keep going back???!!!)

Final resolution to my dilemma came from a car friend of many years, who's provided many used parts for me, has similar cars with both size engines, and reference books to check.  He's older than me, and knows me as a male...with no official knowledge of my "transgenderedness".  But he's seen me many times in capris and stirrups, with sleeveless tops and flats.   Definitely girly outfits.  And that's never seemed to bother him, bless his heart!  He did some research and checked his manuals for me, measured the parts car engines out in his back lot, and concluded that the parts won't fit.   Networking came through for me, without any issue about my feminine appearance.

Thursday, it was time for a fill at the nail salon.  Both J and P said "Hi Miss Mandy" and introduced me to Miss Laura, another customer, so we could get to know each other while J worked on her french manicure.  Then J had P get started on me, and told her to cut down the 9 very long nails, so the missing one wouldn't be as obvious.  (Good plan.)

I brought a couple of Mandy's pictures to show the two techs, but they insisted on including Laura...and everyone seemed to enjoy them.  "Please bring some more, you're very pretty and we'd love to see them."  Before P started working on my hands, she showed me some "before and after" transformation pictures from her own country on her iPhone...  I didn't know she followed that type of thing!  Then she began prepping my "9" nails for J...

Finally J was done with Laura, and as she was ready to leave, she said goodbye to each of us -  including me. That was surprising, very nice...and very affirming. Then J took over working on my nails, and applied a darker than usual pink acrylic on them, to hide the free edge to the greatest extent possible.  She looked at my broken nail, said she's seen lots worse, and to just let it heal for a week or two, then come back and she'll temporarily paint what's left of my nail the same color as the acrylic.  That way, they'll all match.  And then let it grow out till my next regular fill - so we can see how it heals.

After she was done, I paid my bill, and since no other techs or customers were around, I asked if they'd like to see a few electronic pictures...they both were enthusiastic!  I retrieved my computer from the car, and showed them about 9 highlights...   They liked them all, but the following two, from my Elizabeth Taylor makeover, were instant hits...

I even got comments from both of them about my red nails in the first one!

It seems like they're just about ready to meet Miss Mandy in a skirt.  Though it won't be this Halloween - time is too precious and short that day.  But it's something to look forward to in the future!

More later...


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just Too Many Gremlins

Last weekend's trip out of town with the antique car had been on the horizon for a long time.  It gave the promise of some enroute sightseeing, then on to a car show the next day, and lots of skirt time afterward, as well as the last day.  As you probably know, "promises" typically get broken when gremlins appear.

An irreplaceable part on my antique car had broken a couple of months ago, and a friend in another city repaired it for me.   He contacted me a couple days before the trip, with the news that he was going to be at the same show.  "Let's get together Friday afternoon, beforehand."  OK, sounds like a plan.  But. so much for the sightseeing.  (That was the first gremlin...)

Trouble is that he was staying in one town, and I was in another, 30 minutes away (with a tailwind, downhill) - certainly much more in Friday afternoon traffic.   But he included his cell phone number in the email so I could call when I get in, and I responded with mine, telling him to call me if he didn't hear from me by 3 PM.

I arrived after two and gave him a call, but a woman answered.  Oops.  Wrong number.   But I called the exact number he gave me.  The clock wound past 2:30.   Then past 3.   I emailed him, a couple times during the wait...and even tried calling the number after rearranging some of the digits that people often transpose.  Those numbers were all disconnected.  So I called the "wrong number" lady and apologized but I was concerned that the phone company had messed up.  No, she told me that she's had the number for 11 years. so there is some other problem...    By then it was 4 PM.  Still no call, and no response to emails. (The second gremlin.)

At about 4:15, he finally called.  I explained the problem to him.  He was going to check his email when they get to where there is wi-fi and see what it turned out, with rain showers and early darkness, neither one of us wanted to drive the old cars that late in the day.  So we agreed to meet at the show on Saturday.   And after hanging up, I checked the number he called from - the number he emailed me had 2 digits transposed.  But, they weren't ones I'd tried to fix...  The third gremlin had crept in...while nobody was looking.

And that's 3 too many...but wait, there's more!

It rained Friday night, and was still raining Saturday morning.  I drove from the hotel to the car show in pouring rain.  (I guess that's why David Dunbar Buick put wipers on his cars.)  During that drive, I discovered that one of the original-style T-3 headlights I installed for the show, had burned out  Those old T-3's are useless anyway...but now I have half the poor light I did before.   Since half of nothing - is still nothing,  no night driving this trip.  (The fourth gremlin.)

While cleaning the car on the show field after I arrived (the rain had slowed to a light mist), I hurried too much, caught the nail on my right little finger on something in the grille, and it cracked crossways.  Not just the acrylic, but the nail as well.  And so, about 1/4 of the real nail peeled off in my hand...ouch.  Not pretty.  It was time to head for the paramedic tent...where they bandaged it up for me (minus the missing portion of the nail), which they said should grow back eventually.  But this was the fifth gremlin of the weekend.

At least the car won an award! (The gremlins forgot to alter that...)

Back at the hotel after the show, gremlin number six appeared as I realized, after getting cleaned up and into a skirt outfit, that the sun (which had come out during the afternoon), had disappeared behind an advancing cloud deck.  It was obviously going to be dark a lot earlier than I had planned.  Before dinner, I had to visit one (and it turned out to be two) major chain pharmacies to find the proper dressings for my "amputated" fingernail...that was a first priority because the exposed quick was still draining and it was time to change the bandage.  The picture below is my outfit for dashing into the pharmacies:

My pharmacy outfit 

By the time I finished with that task, light was fading fast.  That burned-out headlight was really cramping my style big-time.  Instead of enjoying a nice, relaxing dinner at a restaurant, there was only enough time for me to drop in at a large, newly-opened chain grocery store (fortunately I found a big parking place right near the door, thus no sweater needed) and picked up dinner to eat back in the room.

 My grocery outfit...more feminine.

Though the store was very crowded, I didn't notice any strange looks whatsoever.  Not from anyone, including a lot of teenage girls.  And there were plenty of those.  Rest assured though -  Mandy would rather have gone to a restaurant.

But those gremlins STILL weren't done toying with me.  They obviously had Mandy "in their crosshairs" for the entire weekend.  Early Sunday morning, I woke up at about 3:30 AM, feeling absolutely terrible, and was afraid to lay back down and go to sleep... concerned that I might feel worse when I got up "the second time."  And there was no way to get home except for me to drive...

So I took some aspirin, relaxed a bit, and passed time on the computer, till breakfast was ready in the lobby at 6:30.  Feeling somewhat better, certainly well enough to start my trip home, I loaded up the car and headed back, but abandoning plans for back-woods sightseeing (why risk getting sick where there is no cell phone coverage) or case I got sick on the road.  But I made it home safely, with no issues. 

For those who might be concerned, my malaise apparently was complete exhaustion from two long days and very restless nights...  When I got home, I took a four-hour nap, and went to bed right after dinner.  Felt much better when I got up the next day...  Getting old is H--L.

Two days prior to departing for the car show, the following sunset presented itself to me as I was out and about.  Have camera will travel.  So, I leave you with this picture of Kent Narrows, from the Delmarva, looking west toward the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland:

Till next time,


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Quickie: Friends, legs and other things...

We had friends from the other side of the bay (my former boss from another life, and his wife - we've known each other for 30 years) visit our place for lunch recently.  It's fun to see them...and we had a great visit, as always.

As we sat around the table chatting, several times I noticed his wife staring down at my legs (and my long-nailed hand that was casually parked there).   It was THAT obvious.  I was wearing 3" inseam shorts, pantyhose, women's polo shirt, and ballerinas - a typical summer outfit with my long hair and nails, nothing I haven't worn around them previously. 

In years past, I'd have blushed, and looked away, or tried to hide my legs.  But I didn't do any of those, and I think she may have noticed me noticing her.  Was I self-conscious or embarrassed at that point?  No, not at all.  It's the way I dress. 

But it's the first time I've felt somewhat I was seriously on display...and to another woman, no less.   I wonder what their conversation was about, on their way home?  (Or maybe, it's better that I don't know!)

On my way out of the nursing home today, one of the ladies I talk with (who's in a wheelchair and  who I believe knows I'm not what I appear to be)  proved to be very friendly...   She grabbed my hand to stop me...and had on a very pretty multi-colored dress.  I told her how beautiful she looked today, and she beamed...then (since she was still holding my hand - and running her fingers over my once-again long nails) she told me how smooth and pretty my hands are.  And grabbed for my other hand (which I let her catch!)

We chatted a minute about girl stuff...but I had to go.  I asked her if I could help her into the activity room with the other ladies.  She thanked me, but declined...and gave me a 60 second rant about how she'd rather be around men ("or you"), since men don't pick other women apart like the girls do.  "And you're not like those other girls, sweetie..."  (So, maybe she really doesn't know my true gender...)   Then she apologized for delaying me...

And tonight my wife and I went out for dinner...we were both received as "ladies."   I loved it...she, not so much, but nothing was said!   I'll end this with a peaceful waterfront sunset picture...taken tonight.  I snapped lots of good ones like this!  Living near the water is a lot of fun...good for many beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Eyebrows, shaving, & the closet.

At the beauty salon, it was time to get the gray covered again, and to have my eyebrows waxed...   The beautician (J) did my eyebrows right once again, and shaped and thinned them out nicely, making them feminine again.  After which, one of the female customers mentioned how good they look.  I've heard this before...and that's why J gets to do them!

J's hand brushed on my face as she was waxing, and that brought up a question:  she asked me if I have had facial hair removal, or do I shave every day. I told her no to the first part of her question, and yes to the second.  She insisted my face is too smooth for shaving, so I told her that I figured out how to triple-shave and keep my skin smooth, for longer.  And told her that with high quality makeup, I can go a good 7 hours or so before my facial hair returns. 

Then I confessed to her that years ago, I had my arms and legs lasered about 5 times, my chest and back a couple of times, to remove a tropical rain forest of hair.  And I gave her permission to touch my arms and legs to check the results  (I was wearing 3" inseam women's shorts with pantyhose, but if there is leg stubble you can sometimes feel it through pantyhose.)  Two female customers were listening to our conversation, were interested in laser hair removal - and wanted in on the party.  So before long, I had three women checking out my smooth arms and gingerly touching my legs.  (Very interesting, and a lot of fun, too!)

They were curious as why I hadn't done my face "back in the day..." The most obvious reason was lack of funding.  However,  I pointed out the fact that over half of my facial hair is light colored and the percentage grows by the year.  If I do any further removal, or start work on my face, it really should be done by electrolysis for best results, and being retired, there's no extra money available for that.   So, J and I talked about some of my lasering experiences, till she was finished with my hair.  A wonderful day, for sure!

I'm quite a bit farther "out of the closet" with my mother than anyone else close to me, at least picture-wise.  That's simply because she doesn't remember much!  She seems OK with having her "overweight daughter" appear on at the nursing home on Halloween, because it's a costume, but doesn't think I should dress elsewhere.  (Little does she know...and knowledge that I go out in public dressed is something she probably would remember.)
I've been getting her comments on some of my outfits.  From pictures, she preferred the following two.  Notice the similarity - a long skirt.  Other outfits had my shorter skirts, and she characterized them as being "too're not looking for boys."  Her terminology shocked me, given the state of her everyday memory!

My first picture seemed to garner the most appreciation, and she told me that she loved my shoes. (I'll have to try on the blouse to make sure it still fits...LOL!)  She liked the second outfit equally well, but "you'd want to wear your mary janes with that outfit.  It'll be too cold for sandals."

"I never thought my son would look like a woman and be wearing women's clothes in public, let alone walking in high heels.  But you do look very pretty in both outfits.  People are going to think you're a woman, so the least you can do is be as attractive as possible."  Obviously she never saw - or can't remember - that I tried on high heels from her closet when she wasn't around.  Nothing was ever said about it....

Though tomorrow, she won't remember what she said today, I'm just about (99%) convinced to visit in a skirt on Halloween.  One little problem.  My wife reminded me that she will be in town that day,  and I can't be sure she won't drive by, simply to see what time I leave for the antique sale.  Nor can I wait at home till she returns.  Thus, I may adapt plans accordingly, and change in the restroom at the nursing home, both as I go in, and as I leave.  It doesn't have quite the impact (either for me or for the staff and residents), but it may have to suffice!

More later...


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Stamps...and "The finished product"

Last Thursday night my wife and I were both watching one of the bridal shows due to our son's impending wedding.  It may have been the one with 4 brides, or one of the "say yes to the dress" types, which one isn't important.  Together, we saw a number of beautiful gowns.

Friday at lunch, the topic of one of the gowns she saw after I had gone into the other where the girl sat down on the floor and the gown was beautifully spread out 360 degrees around her.  Not sure what this is called...  She commented how she loved it, and from her description of it, I agreed...  Then I absent-mindedly admitted how I'd love to be able to experience the elegance of wearing something like that.

As you might have expected, at that point she had a relapse of "Not My Husband" syndrome.  "Everybody we meet already suspects you're a husband isn't going to wear dresses and gowns."  Then the subject got dropped quicker than a discussion of the latest political "hot potato."  (She's not big into current events, either.)

Don't know if I should change my Halloween plans to go to Mom's in a skirt and top because of that.  Right now, my inclination is to "just do it."  Fortunately I still have a lot of time to decide.  And if I choose to go ahead, I'll have to make a cornfield transformation before I get there!  (Even though the corn will have been harvested by then.)   Been there before, and done that...

Saw the above sign in an antique shop while on our Ohio trip...

Remember the premiums they used to give you at gas stations and grocery stores?  S&H Green Stamps, Top Value Stamps, and Plaid Stamps, to name a few?  (Wikipedia describes them as small paper coupons given to customers by merchants in loyalty programs, which predate today's "loyalty cards.")  These were the ones you licked the back of, and pasted them in the little paper booklets  when you got home....yuck...and the ones which were going to allow lower prices once retailers began to discontinue them in the late 1960's (yeah-right.)   You don't remember?  Sorry, you're not quite old enough!

But they existed...all of them, and more.  I still have a Kodak slide projector that I bought with S&H green stamps, back in the mid-1960's!  (That was before the stamps were discontinued...)  It hasn't been used in eons, since most of my slides have been digitized and I sold off my empty carousel trays.  But the last time I used it, it still worked! 

Back to my antique car...   Here is the completed engine, being reinstalled:

Good as new!

Going back together, one piece at a time...

The original vinyl top was masked off during the car's shop stay.  "Original" in good condition, is always better than "restored" (things are only original once).  Thus, I chose to postpone its replacement.  It was in fairly good shape, even given the car's advanced age.  No loose spots, bubbles, tears, or frays.  The tech and shop owner agreed that with reasonable care it should last another 10 to 15 years.

And they were right.  The top's still going strong, 10 years later.  Future deterioration depends on how much sun exposure it gets from being driven,   I shouldn't have to worry for 5 more years or more - it's losing some elasticity and getting some crazing.  But they're still not serious issues, considering that the top is coming up on 50 years old!  Original IS still better...

Almost done...

From start to finish, repainting processes took about 5 months, with the shop working on it in off-times as much as possible, to eliminate most overtime and keep costs under control.  But that effort was worth it...  The paint job looked excellent back then, and other than a few stone chips it's acquired from being driven, still looks almost as good today, after 10 years, over 25,000 miles, and a whole bunch of local and national car shows!

On the road again....

My October and November are scheduled to be busy ones...another week long trip, three weekends out of town, a visit to our son's near Atlanta, and various other commitments.  In the event that you don't see me post as often, you'll know why...

Till next time...