Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Whatta mess, and Happy Holidays to all...

This was started on the day I had the broken tooth removed...

To bring you up to date,  the other day I was enjoying a delicious, soft brownie treat (without nuts). I heard a crunch, then immediately noticed a foreign object in the brownie.  It was the remains of a cap, and the top of a back tooth was missing.  Next day, I made an emergency trip to my dentist to see if he could glue it back on.  Diagnosis was: the post was loose.  He pronounced it a total loss, because the underlying tooth cracked to the tip of the root.  And he had no suggestions as to why this would happen while eating a nice, soft, brownie sans nuts.  Then he referred me to the oral surgeon for its removal, the following day.  Oh, great...

Needless to say, I was not looking forward to the extraction, having lost two other back teeth for the same reason.  Because of that, and other ongoing issues, I found myself writing this note in bits over the next week.  When I went to the oral surgeon for the extraction, I wore my denim leggings, black tights, black turtleneck and ballet flats.  Nothing overly feminine...well, maybe the shoes.  Not exactly presenting as female, but definitely as androgynous.

I'm back from the dentist now...with all the pain you might expect from a tooth extraction.  Whatta mess.  You know what I wore, see above.  I was pleased that the oral surgeon (female) and assistant (male) both used "she" and "Miss" often, once I was seated in the was my first time with both of them.  I did hear "he" from the assistant early on, so I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was clocked...but hearing appropriate pronouns the rest of the time sounded nice nonetheless...   I wonder if they had a little "discussion" when they both left the room at the same time?  Guess I'll never know for sure.

The next day, as I was driving in the antique car, I stopped in at the tire store where I bought its new tires.  The guy who waited on me said "I remember your car, Ma'am.  How can I help you?" I asked if they would be able to check the tire pressure for me each spring, after the weather warms up, so I don't drive on underinflated tires.  "Certainly Ma'am, and there will be no charge..."  That's great news...I didn't want to have to buy a compressor!

My follow-up visit to the opthalmologist went well a couple days ago.  (In case you missed the complete story, read my blog titled "The past couple weeks",  dated December 2.)  The Posterior Vitreous Detachment and associated torn blood vessel have healed, and the vitreous fluid has partially cleared. He wants me to be seen again in 6 months by a local eye doctor.  But did you know that you can have freckles (you know, like the freckle-faced kid) INSIDE your eye?  I didn't either, but I have one, which he found in his very thorough exam.  It will bear watching in the future.

And I found that I also have something called occasional "painless ocular migraines?"  Never heard of those, either!  But a symptom I've noticed in that eye since this incident occurred, was given that diagnosis.  No meds are needed for it at this point, but we'll see what the future brings.  (I'm having another of those "migraines" as I write this...ugh.)

My own issues notwithstanding, I'm wishing each of my readers a wonderful Holiday Season, and a very Happy New Year...better days are coming!   And to put you in the mood for some Christmas snow, how about a picture from the March 2009 archives, of an Amtrak Acela blasting through Odenton, MD on the Northeast Corridor, kicking up enough fresh snow that the rest of the Acela trainset disappears.

For those of you with extra sharp vision, you might notice that the locomotive number (2009) is the same as the year the picture was taken...enjoy!



Monday, December 14, 2015

"Beautiful car. ladies"

The recent antique car event is now history, and, yes, I had a great time! 

The only change in my outfit from what I had initially planned to wear (my denim leggings) is that I decided to switch to stirrup pants.  Then, since it's a woman's privilege to change her mind on a moment's notice, just before I left home I gave up on the stirrup pants and changed back to my denim leggings and black tights, due to the cold that morning.   I still wore a turtleneck tunic and sweater, with ballet flats and Mom's necklace.    A typical androgynous presentation.

My wife long ago decided that she wouldn't attend this event again...residents typically shoot firecrackers and noisy things like that nearby.  She's not a fan of fireworks.  We were there a few years ago, and her theory is "once bit, twice shy."    

Before I retired, I spent time training my replacement.  On breaks, she and I talked about my car and the event. She was very interested in going, even back then.  My wife was, and still is, OK with it...since she declined to attend, and there is safety in numbers in a big city...two in a car are safer than one.  My wife sat with the woman at my retirement party, and she has been in the car a few times when I took a call from her (on the speakerphone, you know)...wifey and I both talked to her.  So, they know each other, at least superficially.  But, as luck would have it, something happened that year and we weren't able to attend the event.

Like friends do, I kept in touch with her (she's been a wealth of info about the place I used to work) and we've tried again each year since then.  No luck for various reasons, from car problems, to rain, to snow one year (which cancelled the event.)  Until this year, when everything fell into place...the weather was beautiful.   I started the car up, and it ran acceptably, if not good.   So, "we were going." 

My friend (or female friend, or girl friend, or "friend who happens to be a girl", or "girlfriend" - your choice) and I went out for Brunch before the event, at a restaurant where she was known by staff and customers alike.  There, for some reason, I was not "Miss-identified."  Not at all.   Not sure "why not", though.  They asked her if it would be separate checks, or just one, and she picked up the tab for our entire meal...wouldn't take no for an answer.  (Looks like I've lost at least some of that old male assertiveness!)    It's been ages since a girl - other than my wife - has paid for my meal! 

We finally arrived at the car event, and it was time for some pictures by the group.  Not sure if, when or where they will turn up.  Time will tell.  My friend has a great figure (yes, I'm jealous), is about 25 years younger than yours truly, and about 4 inches taller, barefooted.  When we worked together, she almost always wore short skirts and tall heels, and looked fabulous in them.  Instead of being just a few inches taller, she really towered over me.  But, not so much for this event.   :-(     Some of the club members at the event knew me, but most didn't.  None know my wife.  So, most likely either they believed my friend was my wife...or that we were two girlfriends on a day out in member hubby's car!   I introduced my friend to the few folks I knew. to try to allay the gossip.  But I suspect it fell mostly upon tin ears.  There were a lot of civilians present...who, if they addressed us, mostly did so as "ladies."   Wonder how much of that she actually heard???

The most fun was when they announced to the public who owned what cars...and I was introduced as Miss (insert real first and last name.)  For all the world to hear!   The official compliment was to both of us: "Beautiful car, ladies."  She couldn't miss that compliment...and we both thanked the guy.  More importantly, my friend said nothing about the "Miss" part!  (Yes, I had advised her early on, that I occasionally am "miss-taken" for a woman because of my long hair and nails. Which I've had since long before we've worked together.)   Now I'm anxious to see if/where our pictures turn up...

After the event concluded, I had to hurry to get both of us home before dark.  No, the car wasn't going to turn into a pumpkin.   Headlights on older cars are awful.  As I drove into our development, the sunset below presented itself to me - quite spectacular - even if darkness was falling and I barely made it before total darkness arrived.

What a memorable day!  We're already talking about planning an encore next year...maybe even decorating the car like some of the others.  A string of battery-powered Christmas lights would be fun...  Time will tell if it actually happens...but we hope so.



Saturday, December 5, 2015


Thought I'd pass this along...

Just recently, I received an invitation by email, on my most commonly used email account, in my everyday name (which is now-used-by-females) to join the National Association of Professional Women.   That was good for a chuckle...if I were well and truly fully out, with a traceable female employment history, it might even be fun!  (But my wife certainly wouldn't agree...)

Maybe in my next life. 

Funny coincidence - our son has long hair like me, but these days,  also sports a beard with mustache.  When he arrived on campus for his freshman year in college, he didn't have the beard/mustache, and received a written invitation to pledge a sorority on campus.  He has a common nickname which ends in "y" for boys and "i" for girls...and they sent it to him as with an "i".

And I found out during our last visit, that occasionally he's still addressed as a female from the back...which gets him an "oops-sorry Sir" when he turns around.  He doesn't wear dresses...that I know of.   But because of his beard, he doesn't mind the "miss-identifications."  It's a self-correcting problem.
So I guess we both deal with "miss-identifications" periodically, each in our own way.   I'm fine with that...and choose to "not have" facial hair!  (When my ship comes in, and I'm waiting at the right dock, I'll get electrolysis...)


PS:  Our son knows I still wear dresses around the house, because I've told him. (Whether he's told his wife, I don't know.)  Years ago, when he lived at home, it was not an issue.  But my wife objects when we are at their place.  What he doesn't know is the extent to which I dress.   That remains unsaid for now...perhaps later.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My past couple weeks...

Over two weeks ago, I got my annual flu shot on a Monday afternoon, to protect myself and Mom at the nursing home.  Have done so for years, with no issues.  By Monday night I felt funny, my arm ached and I went to bed early,  Come Tuesday I had muscle aches everywhere and a 102 degree fever.  Stayed in bed all day.  Late Tuesday night I started coughing.  And it got really bad.  With cough drops I managed to stifle the worst of it during nursing home visits, and kept up business as usual, coughing and feeling badly for the rest of the week, hoping it would improve.  

That next Saturday morning I had an appointment to fly in an old propeller-driven warplane.  I'd  been looking forward to doing this for some time, and didn't plan to miss it for any reason.  Interestingly, when we first got to the plane, the girl in charge  "miss-identified" me...probably because my first name's that of a girl nowadays, and my outfit was at best androgynous, or more appropriately, outright feminine  (dark gray stirrup pants over pantyhose, ballet flats, and a long black turtleneck tunic under a women's black knit sweater. with my mom's necklace on the outside of my tunic, plainly visible in the sweater's V-neckline) and my purse.  But a carefully-dropped "my husband" from my wife nipped that in the bud - and it was a bit of an unusual response from her.  Oh, well.  I was having so much fun that I didn't give the issue a second thought.  (Even so, I subsequently got compliments from the girl about my reaction from my wife, and she DID hear, but no comment.)  

Once the pilot and I were both strapped in and taxiing for takeoff, the pilot wanted to know what I expected from our time aloft.  I made it clear - no aerobatics.  He was fine with that.  And I wondered if I might fly it a bit, since I have an ancient pilot's license.  We flew around the Chesapeake Bay area, and he gave me the controls for a while...I got to try my hand at flying a plane with a joystick instead of a yoke.  It was fun...

Sitting under a canopy surrounds you with 360 degrees of beauty!

From a plane, you can see how flat the Delmarva is...and how much water there is, too.   The pilot had offered to let me land it, but with the crosswinds...I know my limits.    Rather than risking a crash and ending up front page news in the Washington Post, I declined...    But I had a fabulous wife got some good pix from the tarmac, and so did I, from the air.  I will go again...

Eating cough drops like candy, kept my cough minimal in the air.  But my ride was over before I knew it, and unfortunately, by the time we got home, I was coughing again.  Hard.  And I noticed strange things going on inside my left eye, strange enough to alarm me.  Soon, we were off to the ER.  Where the triage nurse promptly "miss-identified" me, asking me questions from the female list (fortunately not in front of my wife.)  The notables: "When was your last period?" "Are you pregnant?"

Oops - looks like name issues again. Guess they didn't check my records from the last time I was there...  (Or maybe they did, but could the records have showed female? Perhaps...)  At least my driver's license was correct, but they didn't seem to care about that, even though I presented it at registration.  So,  I answered honestly - "Don't know" to the first and "No" to the second.  Subsequently, the doctor saw me, didn't use a gender-specific greeting, and didn't think it was a detached or torn retina, but wanted me to see an opthalmologist to confirm, on Sunday.  They made the arrangements. 

At noon Sunday, instead of enjoying the planned early Thanksgiving dinner with Mom at the nursing home, we were at the eye doctor, who opened up specially for me (and she knew me.)  My vision in that eye was getting foggy.  She also didn't think it was a torn or detached retina.  But after hearing about the cough, she sent me to a retina specialist an hour and a half away.  They opened the office for me that Sunday, didn't "miss-identify" me, and prepared to do whatever they had to.   But it turned out to be an easy task..not a torn or detached retina.  The problem was diagnosed as PVD - Posterior Vitreous Detachment, typically seen in "old folks with nearsightedness."  My situation was a bit unusual as a blood vessel tore in there, thus the "eye fog." 

I could still see fine out of one eye, and the bad one still had 20/25 vision, though cloudy.  I was able to drive us home ...and we started waiting for the doctor's prediction (50 percent clear in a week, 80 percent in a month, 90 percent in 2 months, some loss may take longer to clear - or be permanent to take effect.)   So far, results seem to be following roughly that scenario...  And I trotted off to my physician to get something for the cough.  The nurse there called my coughing and symptoms a "mild reaction to the flu shot."  If this was mild, I'd hate to see severe.  Their prescriptions seem to be working. albeit slowly.

With the specialist also chalking my eye problem up to the cough from the flu shot...hard coughing shaking the vitreous membrane loose...for me the bottom line probably will be:  that was my last flu shot.  And I don't think any doctor will argue too hard with me.  I don't need more eye problems.  Plus, I'll see the doctor more quickly for future coughs...typically I've tried to ride them out to keep from taking pills (which often have side effects on me, and I hate to participate in antibiotic over-use.) 

At the nail salon recently, where I got a pedicure, a guy (typical-looking middle age male) walked in between 2 younger gals (Wife and girlfriend?  Two girlfriends?), and the gals said loudly "we all want manicures today...even the man."  So generically, the tech told everyone to pick a color...and though I couldn't hear much due to where I was sitting, it seems he wanted "just clear."    Since his gals were getting fills, techs put his hands on to soak while they worked on them.  And by that point the guy, with his hands stuck in the soaking bowls, had the look of terror on his face, as if he was about to be devoured by a pack of hungry female wolves...

At that point, my tech had finished with me, and I was ready to go.  I walked out of the spa chair area, past the guy at a manicure table.  He didn't so much as glance at me as I approached.  I paid my bill, and said, "So long, girls!" in my still-hoarse voice (the antibiotics hadn't started their work after only a couple days.)  The guy looked around, probably expecting to see another guy in the shop.  Instead, he did a double take, first at me, then my androgynous outfit,  down to my ballet flats, and for some reason he turned more than a little red.  My tech said "Bye Miss Mandy" as I walked out.  I glanced back in and waved, but by now the guy (who had turned to gawk as I left) seemed even more confused. Was I was feminine enough that he hadn't noticed anything unusual about me when they walked in, but he was regretting that failure now?  Or was he simply embarrassed at being "caught" by another man while getting his nails done?

So, I have no clue what went on after I left...   Unanswered questions: Was I his first encounter with a transgender girl?  Did he or the gals "clock" me initially?  Didn't he realize girls can get hoarse from a cold or flu, too?  Or maybe he caught heck from his gal pals for blatantly staring at me?  (We can hope that happened!)   Perhaps I'll find out from the techs one day...

Till Next Time...


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Quickie...

Remember, don't eat too much Turkey!

I'll leave you with this peaceful sunset scene from Siesta Key, Florida...


Monday, November 23, 2015

With apologies to Bobby Freeman...

"Betty Lou got a new pair of shoes!"

Finally some cute white flats to wear with my light capris over the summer.  I've wanted to buy some for a long time, but never wanted to spend a lot of money.  Found these for $5 on end-of-season sale at a Payless...and couldn't resist. 

The fit is far from perfect, and they're not as comfortable as my ballerina flats from long ago (that still work nicely) but on the other hand, I won't get to wear them a lot.  Mainly because my wife has always insisted that "Men don't wear white shoes."  I guess she overlooks the minor issue that we're often greeted and treated as "ladies" when we're out together.  Apparently she views that as insufficient reason for me to "get with the women's program" for white shoes to match a white-based  summer outfit.  No problem...I'll just wear them when she's not with me.

Recently we celebrated our anniversary...and that meant going out for dinner.  The place wasn't fancy.  She wore jeans, a blouse and sneakers, with a jacket.  And no purse, as I was paying.  As for me, capris with a top, pantyhose, and my black ballet flats, with my usual necklace and purse, plus the other accoutrements.  From the moment we went through the front door, throughout our whole meal, we were "ladies."  They asked if we wanted one check or two - and placed the one check between us, as is customary for women dining together.  And they made sure to say "Goodnight, ladies" as we left...   Not sure if they were blind, or just well-trained, but it sure was affirming!

I heard nary a peep about usual.

As we were out and about yesterday, she mentioned that capri weather is about over for the season, which is why she wore jeans.  I agreed, but said there still are a few women wearing them, and that with my pantyhose, they still aren't too cold.   "Just wait a few days, and you probably will put them away, too."  But that was yesterday, and today she's right.  I'm about done with them for the season.  It IS getting too cold.

They'll keep till next spring...

More later...


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Into the winter doldrums I go...

Welcome to the winter doldrums...

Normally I would have dressed for Halloween, and probably gone to the annual antique show in a skirt.  And there would be pictures to show.  However, our visit south took that completely off the table.  (For the reason - a new granddaughter - it was OK, though.)  And accordingly, the next possible time for Mandy to shine will be in April :-(   Unfortunately, wishing it weren't so, doesn't make things better...there is an old saying from my father that goes something like this:  "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride..."

Since we got home from vacation, even my androgynous self hasn't seen much activity.  Too busy catching up on things not done during our time away from home...   Until I went to the lab at the Doctor's office for my flu shot...

There, I sat next to a lady with a baby.  Until our granddaughter appeared, I used to sit far away from women with babies.  Now, I sat next to the pair.  Can you believe I actually started a conversation with her?  Once we started chatting, she shared that the little girl was 3 months old.  That opened the door to a bunch of girl talk about her pregnancy and that of our daughter-in-law, which I was familiar with from having just been there.  It was a discussion "in girl terms," not sanitized for co-ed presentation.  I was dressed casually, in capri pants, a feminine blouse (that I wear around my wife, but which she hates), ballet flats and pantyhose, with my long hair and nails (which needed shortened and filled after 6 weeks.)  There was no evidence that she thought I was anything other than what I appeared to be...and she said goodbye sweetly as she left (being the one just before me into the lab...)   Definitely unexpected fun...

Since I haven't gotten any newer pictures, here is one from Sarasota, FL at "Ca' d' Zan" - the "House of John" - the Venetian Gothic John Ringling home at the Ringling Museum.   Love the fancy artwork and trim!  A human almost looks out of place there...

And yesterday it was my chance to get my nails done.  They needed it, based on the following picture:

This was 6 weeks of growth, and they were close to exceeding their all time length record!  Fortunately, my tech shortened them and made them look good again...

At the salon, several of the women were chatting with me, and showing me their nails.  Did they know?  Doesn't matter...they treated me as a woman, and that's what counts!

Posts may be scarce for a while, but in any event, I'll post when possible!



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

More Mouse tales...

As you saw from the previous post, we took time to visit "the Mouse" - as in Mickey - i.e. Disney World.

A number of years ago, we were there with our son, but not at all in the intervening years.  This time I looked a bit different.  Having just changed out of shorts, I was wearing gray capri pants with a purple pocket polo top, and fisherman sandals, of course with long hair and nails, Mom's necklace, and my purse, which was full of cameras and other junk.  (I often carry two cameras, one for daytime and one for in dark places.)

There were a number of Halloween functions going on at the land of the Mouse, and most of the kids (plus some adults) were walking around in official "costumes."  (Saw one guy in a skirt and one in a full kilt outfit, but no way to talk to either.)

My wife and I were being attentive to the many fascinating childrens' costumes  as we went around the park.   Twice, the tables were turned, as little boys asked me the usual question: "You look like a girl.  Are you a boy or a girl?"  This seems to be a common question...I've heard it a number of times before.

Fortunately, each time, the boy's parents were right there, so I approached it this way to make it easy for them - and me.  "It's Halloween time again, right?"  Of course, the boy answered "Sure."  "So, you're a boy who looks like Batman, and I'm a boy who looks like a girl."  Each boy universally said "Oh, OK - bye!" We did a high five, then he and his parents went right back to doing whatever it was that they were doing when the kid first noticed me. Though I'd be interested to know what, if any, questions were directed at the parents later,  my looking like a girl must be OK with the boys...  Girls, on the other hand, seem to be a lot more reserved.  None of them asked...or even stared (that I noticed.)
My wife was with me, but not right at my side. And the time was not right to go into the transgender issue with strangers.   Not sure whether she heard, or what she thought, of these encounters -  perhaps simply "toleration?"  She never said.  So I may never know.

Monorail train near the Disney World Transportation and Ticketing Center

 Grand Floridian Lodge in late afternoon sun.

A portion of the Polynesian Lodge at night

This was turning out to be a fun vacation, for sure.   And with the advent of "miss-identifications," in addition to frequent omission of gender specific greetings, it was even better.  Unfortunately these were interspersed with instances of the "S" word being used.  Not a problem...since I wasn't trying to present as female, any feminine recognition I received was a big bonus.

More later...


Monday, November 2, 2015

Visiting our son and his wife..

We recently stopped to visit our son and his wife...always a fun time.  And this was particularly so, since they have had a new baby - our first grandchild...a girl, and in the future we'll call her LM for privacy reasons.

On this trip, very little noteworthy happened.  However one relatively significant event came along.   A neighbor visited my son''s house, with a present for the new baby.  Daughter-in-law was not home, so I answered the door, and we chatted a bit before I introduced myself as her Father-in-Law.  She kept glancing down at my ankles - ostensibly at the kitty at my feet...or was it the polo, pantyhose, denim capris and fisherman sandals? And then she glanced back up at my hair.   Guess there was some sort of indecision or confusion going on in her noggin!

When they returned later in the evening to give D-I-L the present, the kids introduced us officially, and all seemed well.  No further stares...even though I was wearing shorts and pantyhose, this time with flats.  Maybe by then (8 PM) my beard shadow was pronounced enough to make my natal gender obvious?  There were no further glances noticed, and both seemed fine with my appearance.  Wonder if our son will update us on their questions?  (Probably not, since he often gets addressed as female from the back, because of his long hair, and knows that I do, as well.  But when he turns around, his full beard and mustache usually elicits an "oops, sorry Sir."   My expressed preference is to have no facial hair...

I was researching hotels for a possible future car event in the area, and chose to pull up and bobby-pin my hair into a ponytail, to go with my capri pants, pantyhose and flats, before meeting the hotel rep.  When I stopped in, both the desk clerk and sales rep addressed me as "Sir" even though I gave my now-female given name.  As some have suggested,  hair seems to be a major cue, perhaps more so than  clothes...

And the last event on the last day of our visit was to a local sight north of Nashville - Fontanel.  Those of you old enough to remember Barbara Mandrell may recognize that as the name of her former estate.  You'd be right.  D-I-L with the baby, my wife and I visited for lunch at one of the restaurants.  (Great food, by the way!)  And with me dressed as in the picture above, from the time we went in until the time we left, through 3 different buildings, we were "3 ladies with a baby."  Neither of the girls said anything to me about is what it is.   That was nice.  

All too soon it was time to head back to our son's place...and preparing to leave our little baby granddaughter was really tough.  My wife and I both had tears in our eyes. She's a cute princess, and I melt when I'm holding her...   Nice thing is that she can grow up knowing men can have long hair, long nails, and generally look like a girl.  That's one more person, who won't hate us...

In closing, enjoy a picture of a Florida sunrise, in the Orlando area...


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Quickie about being androgynous in the land of the Mouse

It's been interesting...and rewarding.

At Disney, someone must have been playing with the "political correctness switch."  First day, I heard the dreaded "S" word only a couple of times despite many contacts with "cast members" - translation: staff.  On the second day, I was treated to "being addressed as a female" every time I had contact with officialdom...from the security folks at the entrance, to the cast members at the different rides.

Come the third day, I heard a combination of "Sir" and "Ma'am,"  with a few "no gender specific" greetings thrown in for good measure.  For instance, the first bus driver of the day (female) addressed me as female.  When I was looking for a restroom,  I came across the ladies' room.  Two unrelated women invited me to stand in line with them.  I escaped that issue by saying I'd lost my friend - who was wearing a white jacket - and was just looking for her.   They advised me that she hadn't gone in that restroom.  Numerous staffers addressed both my wife and I together as "ladies."

I was selected by one of their male researchers to answer a few questions about my experience with a particular ride.  It was legit...they had ID and a Disney tablet.  Wish I could have seen how he identified me - as male or female, but he used 'Ma'am" to address me.   And by the time I saw how the tablet was being used, it was too late to determine.  Very interesting.

On the way out of the park ("alone," as my wife was several people behind me), two security officers addressed me as "Sir" - though I was wearing ballet flats, pantyhose, gray capris, pocket polo shirt, Mom's necklace, and clearly carrying a purse.  But the bus driver (a female) addressed me as "Ma'am."  The only "difference?"  By that time my wife had caught back up to in two females traveling together.

This has been an interesting experiment,  as it confirms there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why some people interpret a given person as "male" and others see that same person as  "female."  Except the for my "two females traveling together" theory.  And I plan to pay more attention to this in the future...

I'll leave you with a dusk view of the easily identifiable Cinderella's Castle at Disney World.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Lunch tales...

On this trip, several times, several of our friends had lunch with us.

First time, we went into the restaurant, a place where you get a "box" lunch, ready to eat, with your tour.  At our table my wife and I sat with a male friend we have known for several years.   My wife ordered at the counter,  and a meal was given to her.  Then our friend ordered, as did I.   The clerk apparently presumed that he and I were together.  She gave him both of our lunches and said to me, "Have a nice day, Ma'am."  I thanked her, and returned to my conversation with my friend, quietly removing my lunch from on top of his and taking it to our table with me.  Being a typical guy, most likely he didn't pay attention to these happenings.  Nothing was said, and the discussion never missed a beat.

We were lunching with other friends the next day, at a restaurant in Winter Park, FL  I was seated next to my male friend (different one from the above), and our wives were across from us at the table.  The server (male) mistakenly identified me as belonging to him, and started to put both his and my orders on the same check, with our wives on the other one.  She corrected that error once he quietly advised her that she had misunderstood.

I was  taking pictures at a railroad station, and the attendant didn't like where I was standing.  "Ma'am,  Ma'am!" she shouted at me from across the tracks, "please move over there."  I didn't have time to acknowledge her before a train pulled in, but I did as she asked - and still got a decent picture.

While it ultimately didn't result in any "miss-identifications," my wife and I detoured one day and visited the little town of Frostproof, FL   Interesting name for a town...    Per Wikipedia, the first settlement in the area (now known as Frostproof) was established in 1850. This, like many in central Florida at the time, was set up as a fort and was called Fort Clinch.  It was abandoned only months later.   Prior to being named Frostproof, the town was called Keystone City. However, after being confused regularly with Keystone Heights, a city in North Florida, Frostproof was coined.  By the 1880s, Frostproof began to see its first permanent settlers as homesteaders were attracted to the abundant hunting in the area which included much deer and turkey, as well as ample fishing.

The re-name was simply a marketing ploy to convince potential landowners that the town had never had, and allegedly never would have, a frost that could destroy the large citrus-driven economy. However, only a couple of years later, a frost killed much of the citrus, proving that Frostproof really wasn't.  So much for that theory....

There was a dis-used car dealership in town, which had a bunch of un-restored and restored antique cars on display out front.  And upon opening the front door and going inside, I found it to be a functioning car restoration business.   Some of the cars were for sale, others simply awaiting restoration for their owners.  For a spare $10k to $20k, I could have added one to my collection.  And probably lost a wife in the process - even quicker than by wearing a dress!  But it really was a fascinating impromptu trip back into automotive history...

Remember these?

And on the way out of town...

Go Bulldogs!

More later...


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Weeki Wachi and Citrus Tower

My wife and I stopped to see the "mermaids" at the old Florida attraction called Weeki Wachi, on the west side of the peninsula.  This is a place where suitably attired girls cavort around in a huge tank containing fresh spring water flowing out of the ground, and surrounded by a crowd of up to 500 folks, using a breathing tube to periodically take in some oxygen.   The whole place was just recently purchased by the State to save it from closing, and was undergoing renovation.  But it was suitably "kitschy" and a big throwback to the way things used to be.  Before the Mouse and interstate highway.

It was a short, but interesting, show.

Not far from Weeki Wachi was this unique auto repair shop.  When ws the last time your car got its oil changed underneath a dinosaur?

And that day, I was not "miss-identified" at all, up to that point.  I must have caused a bit of confusion, because several times everyone around us was being gender identified as "Sir" or "Ma'am."  But I wasn't.  That's fine wtth me, though...much better than the "S" word.

Next was a stop at Citrus Tower in Clermont, in central FL.  One of Florida’s first “attractions,” the Citrus Tower was built in 1956 on one of the highest hills in Florida’s ridge section. The original plans specified a tower 75 feet high, but when completed, the Citrus Tower rose to a lofty height of 226 feet (equivalent to 22 stories). The tip of the highest antenna pierces the sky at 500 feet above sea level.

We didn't have time to go to the top...but my wife and I were directed to the ladies' room in response to our request.  Fortunately we were the only visitors, and I was able to use the men's room, as my wife didn't feel unsafe using the ladies' room alone.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Grumpy Old Man...

It was time for my wife and I to vacation down south, with some friends.

We left home with me wearing jean capris, a polo top, and ballet flats, carrying a purse, and we headed for Lorton, VA to ride the Auto Train.  Those unfamiliar with the service may not know it exists...Amtrak will take you and your automobile from a DC suburb to Sanford, Florida on an overnight train trip.  You thus do not spend the majority of two days on that crazy road which is officially known as Interstate 95, and you either sleep in your reclining coach seat or sleeping car accommodations.   The train bills itself as the longest in the world - that day, 3/4 of a mile long, consisting of (that day) 7 sleepers, 4 coaches, 2 lounge cars, 2 diners and 31 auto rack cars.   And in the peak of the southern winter rush it can have as many as 50 cars, making it even longer.

We, and the friends we were traveling with, found this to be a comfortable and convenient way to get there, but noted the average age of the passengers was "elderly" and found only two babies amongst the other 400+ passengers.  That's unusual in train travel.

I made no pretense of femininity, other than the fact that everything I was wearing was from the  women's department.  And for most of the train trip, I was interpreted as male.  However, not so much at breakfast on the second day - fortunately alone, not with my spouse or friends, as we were in sleeper and they were in coach - the male dining car host seated me with what I would describe as a "grumpy old man."  He was not at at all friendly, and even though I spoke to him in a male voice, was not receptive to conversation.   Deaf?  A hater?  I'll never know.  He never looked up at me.  Others around us were not overly talkative either, so maybe it was simply a train full of old codgers, who resented having wake up that early.   Fortunately, the train was not running too late, so it was a quick breakfast and back to the room.

If you have a chance to go to Florida, this is a great way to get there...I recommend it highly.  But beware of grumpy old men...

End-loaded auto rack cars, in commercial use for Amtrak's Auto Train.

Once in FL, with temps in the 80's and 90's, I was always wearing shorts or capris with pantyhose, ballet flats and polo top.  Having lunch at the food joint in Sarasota's Ringling Museum.  I asked about a restroom, and the twentysomething cashier promptly pointed me to the women's room.   Wife and friends were with me, but she/they didn't hear, or ignored "the women's room is around the corner" comment (and more notably, lack of mention of a men's room.  One of our female friends figured it out, when she went to the restroom, and discovered only the women's room - the men's was elsewhere.  Of course, nothing was said - and as we were with friends, I found - and used - the men's room.  That DID get some looks from the patrons sitting near the door, who to that point hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary about me.

In the course of some sightseeing, in Sarasota, my wife and I came across this statue of the soldier kissing a woman upon his return home after World War II.  You've probably seen the newsworthy actual pictures: 

"Unconditional Surrender"

My wife chose to remain in the car while I got a few pictures... and the self-timer enabled me to get a picture of myself standing next to it, to show you the size of the statue.

At the Museum at the former Tampa Bay Hotel in Tampa and at a museum in Ybor City (Florida's former Cuban cigar capital), my wife addressed me as her husband upon first entering, both times under appropriate circumstances.  But the result: I was still addressed as "Ma'am" by staff in both places.  Very interesting...and my wife said nothing about the "miss-identifications."  Thus we were "ladies' at both places.

But at the restaurant that evening - the dreaded "S" word came back to life!   (As I knew it eventually would.)


Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Quickie...

Time to get my nails done again.  After the comments about them from my wife when we were traveling, I figured they might be a subject again...  And I was right.  Finally, the day before my appointment, at dinner she wanted me to "lose the shine and the pink."  I told her that they would be shortened some and the pink can be toned down, but they still will be shiny.

Not sure if she knows they're acrylic...and that might be TMI for her.

So at my appointment, the nail tech shortened them a bit (they're still 3/16 beyond the ends of my fingers, though).  And she used a bit lighter shade of pink than usual at my request.   But they came away as shiny as ever...   There haven't been any comments from my wife.  But IMHO it's only toleration, and there may yet again be comments...

Weather here has been fairly agreeable since Joaquin left...if a bit cool...except for one evening, when heavy storms occurred.  The following picture is as close to how it looked one evening last week as the line of storms went through.  Fortunately the worst of the storms went around us, and all we got was about a half inch of rain and some lightning.   (You can see a bit of distant lightning in the low sky on this pic.)

It really was about as dark as shown, though...and I was standing out front in one of my house dresses to get this picture...

And I'll end this with something from the our western sojourn to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park in 2012,  I was able to snap this magical picture.  One vista leads to another, and visitors have scenery all around them

If you haven''t been there and you get a chance, I recommend that you go!


Friday, October 9, 2015

Not much happening, but androgyny makes it more fun...

Hi everyone,

This was seen on a restaurant signboard along US 50 southbound on the Delmarva, and it echoed the sentiments of just about everyone last week.  And the sign worked.  We had rain for a couple of days, a bit of coastal flooding at high tide, and some wind (maybe 40 MPH) but in general, the storm wasn't bad here.   Not even a power failure to complain about...and we needed the rain.

Unfortunately for our neighbors down south in the Carolinas, they have been hit relentlessly for many days with heavy rain and floods (the 200-year or 1000-year variety, depending on the person you ask).  And as of today, flooding continues in some areas.  Our prayers, and our hearts, go out to them...for safety, relief and a speedy recovery.

With the next storm, everyone here hopes that the restaurant manager puts that sign up again...

And accommodatingly, it the happiness of many.

Is there an arborist in the midst of the audience?  What exactly is going on with this cherry tree? It looks like some snow remaining on the shady side of the tree.  But only one's too warm for snow.  Reminds me of a type of sap running out of the tree.   If anyone knows the answer, please advise.

What's going on here?

We'd hate to lose the's so young!

I won't be dressing for Halloween this year, nor will I even be attending the annual show at which I am usually a vendor.  Our son and his wife are expecting a baby, and we'll be down there visiting over Halloween weekend...   I've made arrangements with my table-mate to hold the extra table I use (he has lots of things to sell, so it will be put to good use.)  And this will preserve our premium spot in the show venue, because I plan to go back next year.   But new posts are likely to be scarce for a while, particularly if we decide to go a little earlier to meet with car friends or stay longer than originally planned.  (Very likely.) However, there's another part to that disappointment...I won't be able to dress for a visit to Mother's nursing home on Halloween.  Very sad...hopefully next year!

No dressing opportunities will be forthcoming in the near future, however, my androgynous self still gets to have fun on occasion...   Such as:  at the pharmacy recently, I used my wife's frequent buyer card, and was addressed by her name...that's always enjoyable.  Wonder what will happen when my wife shows up, and the same clerk is there?  (LOL)    And at the nursing home, a new male resident who was sitting in the lobby "people-watching" commented as I walked in "that's a beautiful red car, Ma'am."  My reply:  "Thank you, sir, have a wonderful day....""  

And the crowning comment:  An elderly female resident (one I don't recognize) commented to me (with Mother sitting within earshot, (and bad hearing) just around the corner in her wheelchair) "High there pretty young lady."  I blushed but regained my composure enough to say "Thanks, Ma'am, you too!" And then ducked into Mom's room before she had a chance to re-think the gender of her remark.  Fortunately Mom didn't hear the compliment.  It would seem that whatever the lady's reasons for being in the nursing home, failing eyesight is probably also one of them...I wasn't trying to "pass" at all.   Makes my day, and week!

Guess I'm just easy to please...


Friday, October 2, 2015

Moon Shot...and Joaquin

Last week there was a well-published Supermoon eclipse.  You've probably seen wonderful pictures on line.  This particular type of eclipse hasn't been seen in a number of years, and it was the last one for the next 18 years.   Having been an amateur astronomer in my youth, the topic interests me.  Thus I went out on our deck in my nightdress that night, surprised that the cloudy weather had cleared.  And though my camera is not a professional model, at least I was able to take a reasonably decent picture of the spectacle.

This shot was taken just a few minutes before totality...

I wish I could tell you that I stayed up to watch the moon emerge from totality, but I can't.  It was a relatively long wait, way past my usual bedtime.  As I was falling asleep, I just gave up and hit the sack.

Segue to the current day...  Out here on the Delmarva, it's been raining, since sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

At this point, we've received over 2-1/2 inches this morning, with another two in the forecast.  And it's still raining hard.  There has been very little wind so far, though that probably will change tonight and tomorrow.  Joaquin's track was recently revised favorably for us, and it looks like it should turn right (east) and head out to sea.   If it does, a lot of folks have "dodged a bullet" - even with extreme rains still in the forecast for wide areas.

It could have been much worse.   Those of us inland, away from the ocean and bay, are just now beginning to breathe a sigh of relief.  Many prayers will have been answered....thanks to those who have joined in with prayers!  (And please continue them for those still in harm's way)


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An interesting shopping day...

My wife and I were across the bay one day late last week, dealing with her dentist and some other issues. 

When I dropped her off at the dentist's, she ran inside first and checked to see that they had wi-fi. They she told me to be sure come in when I get back, and wait for her inside, so she'd know I'm back (never done that before...even in hot weather.)   Dressed as I was, this surprised me, particularly after the incident on our trip - see prior post, and what I wore on this cross-bay venture (picture below.)

While she was "in the chair" I had some run-of-the-mill errands to take care of.  When I got back, the waiting room was quite crowded, with mostly elderly folks.  But there were no issues with my attire, and no strange looks or conversations, as I played around with my computer.  (No, I still refuse to get a smartphone.  My vision isn't what it used to be, and they don't yet provide magnifying glasses to be able to see the tiny screens.  Plus, why pay twice for internet service - once at the house and once for the phone.  ISP's are paid far too much money anyway...)

Last stop after picking her up at the dentist, was to go shopping for some clothes for our soon-to-be-born first grandchild.  I delivered my wife to the store, and was planning to park and wait for her.  She told me to come in with her, which surprised the bejabbers out of me, again given the way I was dressed, and knowing the store would be full of women of all ages.   When we got inside the store, there were only two men present: one customer and one staffer - and I was NOT the male customer.   For all intents and purposes, I was a girl.

The following is a picture of my outfit for the day  (I stopped to take this on the way from my errands back to the dentist).  It also included my purse, of course - and black ballet flats - which you can't see due to the deep grass.  You also can't see Mom's necklace, but it was there.

The male staffer at the store greeted us "Welcome, ladies!"  My wife took off for the racks, but I lagged behind a bit.  So, he came up to me and asked me if I needed any help, since I looked lost in their sea of baby clothes.  Of course I thanked him, and told him "no, I'm really just looking."   From that point on, I retreated to the "relative safety" of my wife, as we looked at newborn girl clothes.

She asked me to give my opinion on different outfits (including the cutest frilly little summer dress - which we agreed the baby girl would outgrow by next summer, before being able to wear).  This thoroughly surprised me, after last week's issue on the trip.  And we picked out some cute outfits to send down for the baby (so we don't have to carry them.)  Nobody gave me so much as a second glance...including the younger girls.  I was just another woman doing retail therapy for "her kid".  Now that's the way it should be!

When my wife took the tiny clothes to the checkout line, I stood nearby, waiting for her.  And at least two female clerks asked "Have you been helped, Ma'am?"  To which I replied "Yes, thanks so much!  I'm waiting for her." And pointed to my wife.  They said,  "If you need anything, Ma'am, just let me know."

Quite an experience, and definitely a fun and successful feminine day...   There should be more like it!


Friday, September 25, 2015

"The elephant in the room."

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted, and unfortunately, no pictures today.  

While we were out of town, I'd been noticing that men with our group (particularly those who didn't know me) were holding the door for me (or both of us) on occasion.   I'm not sure if my wife noticed, but she didn't say anything.  And women were more friendly than usual...   That's become more frequent, so I didn't give it much thought!

Little did I know what was brewing.

One evening, about 40 folks (mostly couples) were sitting around on the motel patio after dinner, talking.  Since there were folks present who were not known to everyone, it was decided that we'd all introduce ourselves.   Our turn came and I introduced us (including my wife, by both name and her wifely status. )  So far, so good, no issue. 

After I finished and we sat back down, I noticed several folks glancing my way.   For the record, at the get-together I was wearing fisherman sandals with women's shorts, a men's logo touring shirt, and Mom's necklace, with my purse.   Anyone looking at me could plainly see my hairless legs and arms, long hair and long, shiny fingernails (my sandals mostly covered my pink toe nails), and arched makeup, though.

When the get-together concluded, one of the ladies who had spoken with us both several times in the preceding days came over as we were getting ready to leave, and put one arm around each of us.  I wasn't sure what was going on, and I'm guessing neither was my wife...though she refused to talk about the event afterward.  The woman guided us away from other attendees, and said something to me (us) in a low voice, to the effect of "You can tell me to go away if you want, once you hear what I have to ask, but a few of us, myself included, would like to know how you prefer to be addressed - as a boy or girl??  We've noticed your feminine name on your name tag, your outfits, necklace, hairstyle, and that pretty necklace,  and we want to make sure we address you properly." 

That hit like an earthquake of 9.9 on the Richter scale, and was good for a flashback to the trans lady at the antique show last fall.  The big difference this time was that my wife was with me - it was bound to happen eventually.  After thinking about it for a split-second, I quickly realized I had to reply, and there was no way my wife could - or would - say anything to her.  The floor was mine, and mine alone. 

Now, I'm not prepared (either emotionally or financially) to transition and deal with its many oft-dire consequences at this ripe old age (65+).   So, I knew how to respond.  "Oh, that name issue's not the first time, you know.   Actually, you'd have no way to know, but it was my father's and grandfather's name...and women have sort of stolen it over the last 30 years.   As for my outfits, I wear whatever's comfortable for me, regardless of it's "gender" or the label inside.  Feel free to tell anyone who needs to know that I'll respond to Mr., as well as Ms., Miss or Ma'am.  However, male pronouns are the correct ones."   She seemed satisfied with that, and thanked us for our kindness and understanding.  We all hugged, and everyone went their own way. 

Needless to say, there was an "elephant in the hotel room" that night - this issue.  My wife wouldn't talk about the issue, even when I inquired  "You don't want my comments" was all I heard.   And then she changed the subject.   Come morning, the topic had evaporated because of our activities.   It simply never came up again, even on the ride home.  (Or even afterward.)

The next day, when I ran into the nosy lady I asked if she had been able to "set any of the other wonderers" straight about my gender.  Much to my surprise, she said there were only three who were wondering, herself and two other ladies, but they had left the event while we were talking and she hadn't run into them again.  (Attendees were staying in two hotels...)   So, I guess it really wasn't that big of a deal for anyone.   Well,  except perhaps for my wife.

For the rest of our stay, men occasionally held the door, and women were friendly with me (and my wife when we were together.)  In the elevator next morning (fortunately I was alone) a woman from the group put her pretty hand right next to mine and gave me compliments on my fingernails!  Her nails were pink-and-white acrylics, and she thought they'd also look good on me.  I agreed...and confided that I used to wear them that way.  We reached the ground floor and the door opened, ending that discussion. :-(

None of the folks apparently asked the right person (our nosy lady friend) about me/us.   And, even though our "new acquaintance" approached the issue to me directly, in a non-offensive, appropriate manner, the end result fell a bit flat, particularly with her admission of how few women were involved.  I guess the rest of the folks were accepting me as female???

In the future, I'll take anything she says "with a grain of salt."

Happy Friday!


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Euro-Metric? P-Metric?

Grabbed the camera for a very pretty sunrise this morning!  Though it doesn't quite compare to western sunsets...

 A Delmarva Morning!

Time to get new tires for the antique...I've been checking local dealers for the proper tires.

Did you know that there are two types of metric radials?  The oldest (and the only type that would have been available on my car in 1967) are Euro-Metric.  These are sized like this:  205-75R14.   In the mid-to-late 70's a standardized size was devised for all passenger cars -  represented with a P as a prefix...P205-75R14.   For antiques which may be shown in national shows, one needs to pay attention to this little difference  in relation to your model year (and the need to have all 5 tires matching in size and tread pattern), as it can mean a large point deduction if your car has the wrong tires.

And mine did - matching P-metric radials.  But Euro-Metrics were the correct ones for it.  Since one of my 5 tires had a broken belt (not replaceable under warranty) and was relegated to the trunk as a spare, and another one seems to be developing the same issue,  I had all the tires changed out for a complete set of 5 new Euro-Metrics.

When I showed up at the garage at 7AM, I was dressed androgynously:  ballet flats, pantyhose, gray capris, and luxuriously silky black blouse, with Mom's necklace but only light makeup and no lipstick.  The shop was very responsive - "Right away, Ma'am."   And they were the job done in a little over an hour.  As I paid the bill by credit card, the clerk saw my name and said "Thanks for shopping with us, Ma'am."   I'm sure glad my wife didn't come along...

On the way home, I needed to get gasoline.  As I stood there pumping gas, I noticed a soda pop delivery truck drive into the parking lot.  No big deal...happens occasionally.  Shortly, the route man appeared out of nowhere, to look over my car and chat.    We talked while I finished pumping gas, and he was very polite - every other word seemingly was "Ma'am."  And he really appreciated seeing the car...when he left, he wished me well at the next show, again ending his sentence with "Ma'am."   Very affirming.

And as I headed back to the house from the gas station, a local younger guy in an old Camaro (decent car but not show quality) waved at me.  I'm not sure if he was flirting, but I didn't recognize him at all.  Maybe he remembered me from one of the local shows.   Being in a happy mode, I waved back.

It was a wonderful day...