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)