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 did...so 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 eyebrows...no 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 again...it'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 good...got 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...


Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Remember the rock which was thrown up from the road service and chipped my "daily driver's" side window a few weeks ago?  When we were driving the antique on tour activities, its driver's side window took a stone hit...very loud.  Perhaps the fact that we weren't moving at interstate highway speeds helped.  Fortunately the window was up, and the stone did no damage (other than perhaps to our nerves.)

We've now proved that 'lightning truly DOES strike the same place twice.'  That's why we continue to run the air conditioner...even at the risk of the old V-8 using a bit more gasoline than it normally would.

While traveling through Western Pennsylvania, along the old National Road through the mountains, we encountered a place called Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.   It really does look inviting...and you may be pleased to know that you can arrive on your private plane...the place has its own airport!


From the resort's website (slightly edited for brevity), a little info about the place.  Note: if you're not a part of that "famous or infamous" 1%, you may want to skip these next few excerpts - you'll be as envious as we were.  But it's definitely not your typical Motel 6 or Super 8:

Situated on 2,000 acres, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, located in the Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania, features 318 luxurious guestrooms, suites, Townhouses and Private Homes, including the Falling Rock boutique hotel, a recipient of the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond awards.

In addition to the internationally acclaimed Woodlands Spa,  the resort offers 36-holes of championship golf on two courses - the Pete Dye designed Mystic Rock, and the traditional Links Course. For shooting, visit the Nemacolin Field Club, featuring the Shooting Academy, an outdoors sporting facility on 140 acres complete with 30-stations, wing shooting, a spacious lodge and Orvis® Endorsed Fly Fishing.

For a more rugged and adventurous experience, try the Adventure Center.  Spend the afternoon or day at our Wildlife Academy, home of the Equestrian Center, animal nursery, animal habitats and educational programs. Black bears, zebra, buffalo, tigers and hyenas are just some of over 100 animals that currently call Nemacolin home.

As the seasons change, our ski facilities at Mystic Mountain offer both downhill and cross-country skiing enthusiasts, snowboarders and snow tubers a variety of snowsports. For a different winter experience, enjoy snowshoeing or dog sledding on the property’s winter trails.

Nemacolin also boasts an impressive collection of restaurants and lounges, including the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond Lautrec.  Enjoy daily art tours of the multi-million dollar Hardy Family Art Colllection valued at $45 Million or enjoy a leisurely tour at your own pace as the Collection graces nearly all aspects of the property.

For those guests arriving by air, our on-property private airfield with 3,900-foot airstrip is available.

All for a rate (as quoted on the website recently) starting at $468 a night.   Wow, such a bargain!   Perfect for the expense-account set.  We drove in, and all around the property, then right back out again.   But it surely looks like a wonderful place to stay.  Maybe someday, when my ship comes in...and I'm at the right dock!

More later...


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Oh, my...

Sorry about the delay in posting.  We've been out and about again, this time touring with a group of antique car owners and their cars in Ohio.  This tour had quite a number of folks we didn't know.   And my wife and I met some of them, who undoubtedly weren't sure of my gender.

After meeting and talking to me/us, I thought they'd be confident that we were a traditional couple under our clothes.  However, a number of women were friendly with me, seemingly chattering to me  much more than they typically would with a guy.  And an as-yet-upcoming (but still unbeknownst to me) event would cast doubt on that "traditional couple" statement...more in a later post.  (I didn't have time to write at all during our absence...)

Early in the week, our group entered into a museum in Ohio.  My wife and I were addressed as "ladies" by the greeter when we went in, but we had already our tickets.  After  alerting the ticket clerk to our presence and showing our tickets, my wife went into the gift shop while I waited for her by the ticket desk.

Then management decided to give everyone little stickers to show we paid....

The girl gave me mine, but asked sincerely "Did your partner go into the gift shop?"  Wow, that's a first - my wife being seen as my "partner!"  I looked into the gift shop window and saw that she was heading my way, so I was honestly able to say "She'll be here in a minute" without making any specific comment about her gender.    But it's a good thing she didn't hear that exchange, as she has mentioned to me a couple times in the past that she isn't a lesbian.

The following day, we were "ladies' a half dozen times, and only once was I addressed as male - even though I wasn't trying to "pass" on this trip.   My attire was typically casual - jean capris or women's shorts, men's polo shirts with logo, and fisherman sandals, with Mom's necklace, my long hair and nails, shaved legs, and purse.  No makeup or lipstick.   (Could I have adopted feminine ways that show, no matter what clothes I wear????)

This kind of fun (though I'm not sure my better half would describe it as such) kept on happening, but that's for another post.

Enroute, we detoured to a Maryland town with an unusual name.   Accident.  That's right, no joke.  It's Accident, Maryland, out in Garrett County, our far westernmost (and highest elevation) county.  How did it end up with such an unusual moniker?   Sort of by "accident?" (Sorry about the pun...)

In their Wordpress blog "I think it'll be fine" a blogger quotes:   "In her book Flowery Vale, local teacher Mary Miller Strauss describes a different potential history of the naming."
In 1774, Lord Baltimore, Proprietor of the Maryland Colony, opened his lands “westward of Fort Cumberland” for settlement.  Among the speculators who hastened to western Maryland with their surveyors to secure choice tracts of land were Brooke Beall and William Deakins, Jr., both of Prince George’s County.
William Deakins and his brother Francis had warrants for several tracts, and on April 14, 1774, they surveyed a fine tract of 682 acres between the branches of Bear Creek, including an old Indian camp ground on the trail to Braddock’s Road.  But when the survey was completed, Brooke Beall and his party appeared on the scene and Beall claimed that he had selected the same tract for his survey, calling attention to his axe marks on the trees to prove his claim.  Deakins replied that it appeared that they had selected the same land “by accident”.  Since he and Beall were friends and land was abundant, [Deakins] proposed that Beall take over his survey already made.  To this Beall agreed.    John Hanson, Jr., Deputy County Surveyor, made out the survey to Beall, and they named the tract Accident.
The blogger also points out other theories, and unfortunately, due to the passage of time, nobody will ever know for sure.  But it's fun to speculate!  And meanwhile, the name lives on.  Very nice little town...

A couple of pictures to prove Accident actually exists:

That's all for now...


PS:  Allegedly the residents of Accident are know as Accidentals....(maybe TMI???)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Another Party...

Over the holiday weekend, we attended an afternoon party in the neighborhood.  That morning, I had put on a women's polo top and shorts, with bare legs and ballet flats, and wore that to visit my mother, and until just before the party.

Came time to get dressed, and my wife put on her pretty blue dress (one I'd truly love to wear if it would fit - but don't think it would, and anyway she wouldn't let me wear it.)   She looked at me, saying "Those casual shorts will never do...put on your white capris, so you'll look dressy and attractive."  It was a big surprise, but I'll never argue!  So I did.  And off to the party we went...

Turns out that we were standing in line for food, behind two elderly grandparents with their two grandkids, a 4 year old girl and a 5 year old boy.  I was wearing my dark sunglasses, and by moving my eyes, not my head, I could easily follow their eyes, from looking at my long-haired head all the way past my necklace and women's blouse, my long-nailed fingers, my capris on bare legs, all the way down to the ballet flats on my feet.  I wonder what questions the grandparents got asked that night after the party was over?

We ended up sitting with a nice couple when we ate our meal...  It was the first time we've met them, they're longer-time residents than we are, and it took this long to run into them! No issues at all...

Some of you may remember from an earlier post that I regularly wear a necklace which used to be my mother's, and that a lady from the neighborhood inquired about it some time ago...   Guess who was at the party?   And she was just as complimentary about it this time, as she has been in the past...including the touchy-feely part about handling it. Wow.  And I'm not even sure she knows my true gender...I was once again wearing my name tag with my now-female first name on it.  (And there is a female in the neighborhood with that same first name...)

Next week is going to be a busy one, thus for now,  I'll leave you with this bit of ferroequinology:

B&O's Carrollton Viaduct, Baltimore, MD

Per Wikipedia, the Carrollton Viaduct, located over Gwynn’s falls,  near Carroll Park in Baltimore, MD, is the first stone masonry bridge built for railroad use in the United States.  And it is still in daily use, carrying heavier loads than in years past.   It was named after Charles Carroll of Carrolton, the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence and a director of the B&O Railroad, who laid the cornerstone on July 4, 1828.

This picture was taken about 10 years ago, and the scene is timeless, it hasn't changed much...

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Rock, and a Weekend Birthday Celebration

My wife's birthday came last month,  and she preferred to wait for the weekend to go out to dinner so we could do some sightseeing as well.  This was fine with me...I enjoy sightseeing, even if just in androgynous mode!   She had heard of a nice restaurant in Chesapeake City, and I wanted to check out the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (its history "museum" is in that city.)  So we decided that Sunday would be the day.

First, a word of caution from an incident we experienced in our car enroute north that day (and it has absolutely nothing to do with gender).   The day was hot, and (fortunately) we had chosen to run our car's air conditioning.  As a dually pickup truck passed us on the highway, its rear tires kicked up a loose rock or chunk of concrete, and sent it our way.  (Visibility was good, and there were no humans on the shoulders, nor any overpasses for kids to drop things from.)   While airborne, this projectile hit the driver's side mirror and cleanly glanced off, then hit the driver's side window with enough force to put two small chips in the glass, before bouncing clear of the car without inflicting further damage.   Had the driver's window been down,  based on the rock's trajectory and 2 points of impact, I'd probably have been hit either in the left eye or on the left forehead.  That's because I noticed something moving in my peripheral vision, and looked left, just in time to see the projectile bounce off the window.

Moral of story: from here on, I'll ALWAYS be operating our AC in weather warm enough to require reducing the interior temperature - yes, even in the antique (its 47-year-old air conditioning still works very well.)  This incident may well have been a one-chance-in-a-million thing, but it could have ruined our day, or much worse.  "Lightning has been known to strike the same place twice", and I'm not planning on taking any chances.  

Chesapeake City is a quaint little burg...with lots of nice shops and restaurants.  If you haven't been there, you might want to consider adding it to your bucket list.  We arrived at about 11:30, parked the car in town, and walked around one of the dock areas.

Then we wandered through town, looking at the fascinating architecture...

Afterward, seeing the constant stream of inbound traffic rapidly filling all available parking,  we chose to head for the closest restaurant we could find, right on the waterfront.  It was a well-furnished older house, with a large, glass-enclosed porch.  For the record, I was wearing my white capris, women's black button-down tunic, pantyhose and black ballet flats, with my black purse and Mom's necklace.  No other jewelry.  No makeup (though my shave was very fresh - no more than 2-1/2 hours old at that point.) The receptionist addressed us as "ladies." and we were given the choice of eating inside, or on the enclosed porch.  We chose the porch, so we were escorted through the inside dining room out to the porch, and assigned a prime corner seat.

Our server, and the other employees, addressed us as "ladies" for our whole visit.  They never missed a beat.  When it came time to leave, I waited on the front porch while my wife used the restroom.  One of the young female employees, who was taking a break, was outside as well.  We chatted a bit (yes, it was quiet enough that I was able to talk in my feminine voice) and she addressed me as "Ma'am."   When my wife reappeared after finishing her "potty break" the employee said "come back and see us again, ladies!"

OK...so this could have been freshly trained servers, being extremely "politically correct"...

We got directions to the canal museum from one of the girls, and though she told us that it was within "walking distance,"  because of the heat we chose to drive.  When we backed out of our parking place, we made an inbound family very happy to find one so "close-in"!

Our decision to drive to the museum was a good one.   While it was indeed within walking distance, it would have been quite a hike, particularly in hot weather.  The museum was right on the canal, and we were immediately treated to the sight of a big barge being towed past, from the Delaware River to the Chesapeake Bay (the man-made canal is what "separates" the Delmarva from the mainland. making it appear to be an island.  But it's not.)

We walked into the museum, which was the old pump-house for the canal when it had locks for moving the ships (from opening in 1829 until they were rendered obsolete and removed in the 1927 improvement project.)  It's now a 14-mile-long, sea-level canal, one of two within the US (the other being the 7-mile Cape Cod Canal, completed in 1916.)  Within the museum was the water wheel and also steam engines which powered it, to supply the mid-section of the canal with water. back in the days of the locks.  Improvement projects of the 1970's increased the depth from 27 ft to 35 ft, and the width from 400 ft to 450 ft.  It's big. 

The attendant addressed us as "ladies,"  several times during our visit.  Perhaps this wasn't political correctness at its extreme, after all?   I certainly didn't notice any other patrons (at either establishment) paying undue attention to me.  And had my wife noticed any strange comments, I'm quite certain that she would have pointed out her "embarrassment factor."  But nothing was said.   Which was definitely a good thing.

So it was another successful sightseeing venture...and my wife enjoyed her birthday celebration. 



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

More touring, and Abraham Lincoln

Another detour on the way home from that celebration: I hiked into the woods to see the restored C&O canal tunnel near Paw Paw, which let the canal have access to the east, without a portage over the mountain.  (Hiking - even on gravel - kinda made a mess of my ballet flats, but they eventually cleaned up OK.)   The tunnel was hand-dug in the mid 1800's, and the roof reportedly contains over one million bricks.  But delays in completion let the railroad get a foothold on transportation in the area, and the canal itself eventually failed.  Select remains of the canal have been preserved and it is now part of a hiking train being developed from Pittsburgh to the east.  I hiked into the stygian blackness, intending to go view the other portal - 3,118 feet away.  But soon (about 500' into it), I decided that even with camera and flashlight, enough was enough...

The tunnel...

Yet another part of the canal system was on my agenda...the Town Creek aqueduct.

Canal boats used to float down stream over the bridge, while the creek flowed underneath.   Water being moved over water.  There are several such aqueducts on the canal.

My final detour on the way home was back to Berkeley Springs, WV.   We've visited town before, however, this time I had a specific objective - to find the old castle.   It's been there for a long time, built by a rich resident "back in the day."  Until recently, I wasn't aware of it.    Quite a beautiful place...but located on a busy state highway, with no good public place to pull off for pictures.  So, the next best thing was to park at the bottom of the hill in the Springs, and hike up the hillside path (including a substantial set of old stone steps) to the road - and get pictures of the  castle from afar - because the gate was locked.

Yours truly is really not into hiking  (particularly uphill), but the effort was worth it...as you can see.   And standing by the side of the road, with traffic whizzing by at 55 mph just a few inches away on the state road,  it was tough to concentrate on taking picture(s).   At least nobody honked their horn at me...LOL!

Nice little digs...but I wouldn't want to pay the heating bill...

As part of a local celebration in Berkeley Springs, they even resurrected Abraham Lincoln from the grave...

Best of all, the traffic on the bay bridge was normal that day, with no delay!