Sunday, December 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Today:  Rubble

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

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

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

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



Monday, December 22, 2014

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

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

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

Any thoughts on the topic would be appreciated...

Happy Holidays to each of you reading this!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More later,


Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Only on Halloween..."

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

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

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

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

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

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

You may recall my Halloween outfit from prior posts:

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

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

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

More later...


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few pictures...

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

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

That's all for now...


Friday, December 5, 2014

Thanksgiving - going home.

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

Kitty intently watching QVC...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A festive pricey hotel, the Four Seasons in Atlanta.

Yours truly, waiting for our meal....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope your Thanksgiving was good, too!