Saturday, December 31, 2016

Monday, December 26, 2016

New Nails...

It was time for a trip to the nail salon, to have a fill done on my nails.  Several of them had some damage and/or the acrylic was separating.   My tech inspected them, removed the bad ones, and gave me a complete nail make-over.   That included a new color..."It's time you got a new color - and today's your day.  It's still a neutral color, so it will go with anything.  But I think you'll be much happier with nails that are more feminine, and very noticeable.  Girls will love it, and you'll find yourself getting compliments on your nails."

She was right.  I love them!

And I'd better...because they stand out whenever I use my hands...there is no practical way to keep them hidden.   Anything I do involving my hands puts them on display.  The girls at the beauty salon had good things to say - as did one of the grocery store clerks.  My wife has been fairly quiet about them...though I did hear a comment that "your nails are a lot prettier than X's."  (She's a hostess at one of the home shopping channels.)   And I'll take that as a compliment!

I recently bought a new camera...the first one (brand X we'll say, it shall remain nameless) didn't take nearly as good pictures as the one I was replacing.   I checked by taking a picture of a subject with the old one (when it decided to work right) and then taking the same picture with the new one.   It's disappointing when a new purchase doesn't work as well as the one it's replacing.

So I headed back to the big box store where I bought it, and went to the customer service desk.   I was in my usual androgynous presentation...see below.  (This was taken just before a lunchtime meet-up with a business acquaintance, and is about as masculine as I can appear. But he knows what I look issues.)

(Taken before a lunchtime meet-up with a business acquaintance,.  It's about as masculine as I can appear. But he knows what I look issues.)

"May I help you, Ma'am?"  I explained that I wanted to return the camera - I added that it works, but doesn't take as good pictures as the old one.  He asked if I wanted to exchange it for the same model camera, or a different one.    I handed him a picture of a different brand and model from their website.

He called the camera department, said that there was a lady who wants to get a "insert brand and model here" camera and asked if they had one.  They did, and he said "Just a moment, Ma'am, I'll go get it."  When he returned, he made the adjustment to my credit card, handed me the package and receipts, and said, "Have a happy holiday, Ma'am." I wished the same for him, and was done.

Quick and painless...the new one takes better pictures than the old one...    And the "checker" at the door, said:  Have a wonderful holiday, Ma'am."

The business acquaintance (from the lunch meeting mentioned above) knows of my sartorial style.  And he has never said a word about it..."it is what it is."  The server got a bit confused and just addressed him as "Sir."  No gender specific forms of address for me!

And that's fine...better "none" than "Sir."

More later...


Thursday, December 22, 2016

To all my readers and followers:

Wherever you live, this brings my best wishes for you to have a joyous Holiday Season, and a very Happy New Year! 


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Quickie: I thought I'd seen everything. Until...

...I saw an older Toyota Prius on the interstate on the western shore (Baltimore side of the bay), all decked out as an imitation Low Rider.  It was very low to the ground,  with huge chrome wheels and thin tires.  Wish I could have gotten a picture!

Unfortunately I was the only one in my car, and the camera was in my purse on the back seat!  :-(

The Prius first appeared in the Japanese market in 1997.  Thus it's only perhaps 19 years old.   Wonder if it will show up one day at a local, or maybe an "open," car show?   Most traditional car shows are age-restricted to 25 years old or it will be a while yet before it's eligible for some of them - if the modifications don't disqualify it.   Some shows don't have "classes" for modified cars.

I was checking out some settings on a new camera recently, and found myself (what a coincidence) in one of the pictures....   This is one of my old house dresses, with a long sleeve tunic underneath.  It's warm, very comfortable, and I wear this type of outfit around the house every day.   I've been out in the yard in them, with little issue from my wife.

Now I'm thinking about finding a way to wear one of them out and about.  It won't happen immediately, but one of these days, you'll hopefully find pictures of me wearing one of these dresses at the store...or better yet, on the train or sightseeing in another town.

Keep your fingers crossed for me...

More later,


Sunday, December 11, 2016

You can't keep girls from shopping...

...even if some of it was mail order.

My new flats arrived by UPS, and they fit fine.  They are a croco-finish, with snip toes, and they're comfortable.  Even my wife likes them...on me, of course.  They're too big for her.   And it's nice that she occasionally tells me when she wants me to wear them...

That's a new skirt in the picture, but flash made the color too bright and red. It looks like "lipstick red" but in reality, it's not.  More about it in the following section.

It had been a while since I visited a thrift I stopped in for a few minutes.  Needless to say, a little voice spoke to me as I looked through the rack of skirts:  "Buy me, buy me!   Take me home with you!"  And this skirt jumped out of the rack, right into my arms.  I tried it on, and it fit!

It's a polyester skirt, so it won't wrinkle, and it's lined so it's not see-through.  It could almost be a sister to the paisley skirt I like so much.  And it will work well for cornfield changes.   Looks like I should get a lot of use out of this one, too!   This, its paisley sister, and a denim shorter skirt, with about 5 blouses, should be enough for a week on the road.

Color is not like the photo that one, the red is too brilliant.  No, it's red like in the pix below.  Almost a wine color...  And I love it!

Later, I was paying my bill at the beauty salon...and one of the stylists noticed my nails, commenting how pretty they are but asking about why they're shorter than usual.  (The nail tech had made them all the same length as one which had issues and had to be shortened.)  She thought I should grow them out again, and my stylist agreed, though she put her hand next to mine and hers were even shorter.   "It's tough for a stylist to have long nails.  But you deal so well with them, you should keep them long."  And we all got a chuckle.

If you recall, earlier this year I discovered that a guy working in an auto parts store here on the Delmarva was working in a skirt and flats.   Then he disappeared for a while.   Needing some oil for the old car, I dropped in the other day.   And, SURPRISE, the guy in a skirt is back.  I saw him from afar.  Now I just have to be there when he is, so I can ask him for some help finding something....

More later,


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Things kids don't recognize anymore...

When was the last time you used onion skin with carbon paper?  What the heck is that, you thirtysomethings-and-under may ask?

Back in the good old days, well before Commodore and Atari broke down the doors for personal computers, before pagers, brick phones and then "new" flip phones broke down the doors for smart phones, before Hewlett Packard became the go-to choice for printers, and before Xerox became a generic word for copier, there were these noisy things called typewriters (many were made by Remington) on almost every desk in the office.

You typed on a keyboard, just like today, but the keys were linked by mechanism to long "arms" with letters at the end.  Very noisy when those arms hit the paper, which was on a hard-rubber roller and it moved as you typed.  At the end of the line, you then hit a return bail with your hand, and manually advanced one line/moved the roller back to the beginning position.  More noise.    You can most likely see one of these at nearly any antique store these days...

How would you make a copy of that letter for your file?  And one for your boss in Paducah?  Remember, there was no Xerox.  You went to the shelf, picked up two sheets of onion skin (very thin, almost transparent paper, like the outer skin of an onion - great for sending via air-mail, which doesn't exist anymore either), and two sheets of carbon paper (thin paper backed on one side with lightly-bonded carbon.  Very messy.)  Stacking the paper properly with letterhead paper on top, a piece of carbon paper facing carbon side down, a piece of onion skin, then another piece of carbon paper facing carbon side down, and the last piece of onion skin.  Roll it into the typewriter, with the letterhead facing up,  and go ahead with typing your memo. 

Woe betide you if you made a mistake...there was no easy way to correct carbon copies (remember, no white-out yet, nor any correction key!)  You simply tear the whole thing out, crumple everything up, and start over.  (No recycling yet...just throw it in the garbage!)  Be careful, don't make any more mistakes...    Need to calculate some figures to use in your memo?  Remember, there are no calculators as we know them.  Adding machines multiplied by repeat addition. 103 x 6 calculated very clumsily as 103+103+103+ 103+103+103.   Ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-CLUNK.

I can remember on Saturdays, playing with the "calculators" at Dad's office, huge old things that had gears and made all sorts of noise.  One thing for sure, Dad (the manager) could always tell when his employees were working, from the din in the office...and nobody was talking!  At the time (early to mid-1950's), this was advanced technology, since you didn't have to write figures down and do the math manually. 

Even a slide rule was considered "high tech" - for those privileged few who knew how to use one.

Just a little refresher course about "the way it used to be..." back in the halcyon days!

More later,


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Quickie - Seen in a store window....

While we were in Maine a couple months ago, I noticed this sign in one of the store windows...and couldn't resist a picture.  

For those who choose to imbibe, it may be a friendly the start of this holiday season!



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Quickie: The fun continues...

After getting home from the antique show, one of my first appointments was with the eye doctor.   The office was located in the mall where some aggressive peddlers have their kiosks, so I arranged to arrive early, before the mall officially opened, and do my walking there at the mall instead of the basement.  Perhaps getting to the office just as they open and avoiding the peddlers.

In the process of walking that morning, I explored some of the other passages of shops, and discovered that by walking a bit out of my way, there was a combination of hallways which would indeed avoid walking past the peddlers.   So, now I have a choice...pass them, or avoid them, whichever I'm in the mood for at the moment.  When I'm in the mood to be flattered about my appearance, I can route myself by them....    Choices are always good! 

I was dressed like many other women at the mall...capris, tunic top and flats.  Close shave but no makeup.  The biggest difference from other women was that I wore pantyhose, as is still my preference, though I've gone without on occasion.  When I showed up at the desk in the doctor's office, there were new assistants there.  And I was addressed as "Ma'am."  Which is always my preference, even in androgynous mode.

Then the tech came in.  I've known her for many years.  We greeted each other, joked around a bit, and then she took me into the lens room, so I could remove my contact lenses, which were the topic du jour.  As I did, this time she watched me see how I moved my fingers with my now-very-long nails.  (That's been a topic of discussion before.)  But Success!  They came right out.   My question back at her was: "other women have longer nails than I do - how do they get their lenses out?"  "The same way you did..." was her answer.

Then it was off to the exam room.  While she operated the machines to measure my eyes, she complimented my outfit and asked "did you mind that the girls out front addressed you as "Ma'am?"  I told her that part of the reason for it may be my feminine given name.  But I told her that I respond to "Ma'am" or "Miss" and much prefer female forms of address.  So she can relax, it's never a problem.  I also mentioned that I do respond to Mr. or Sir, when appropriate.  She asked if I wore feminine things every day, and I said "I dress like you see me, absolutely.  One of these days don't be shocked if I show up in a skirt."  And she smiled broadly. "No'll look fabulous in a skirt.  What does your wife think?"  "She tolerates my sartorial style as you see it, but wishes it weren't so." 

Then the tech got serious again, regarding the results of the election and things that were said about women and various minority groups during the campaign (anyone who followed our election knows which ones, I don't need to recite them.)  "A lot of things were said about various groups, and now you're part of two groups in the center of the administration's crosshairs: Women and LGBT.  If things get bad for LGBT folks, is it possible for you to cut your hair, remove the nails and buy menswear as your ticket back to the male side for safety?"  "To answer your question, yes I probably could, but I don't know if I would - I'll make that decision later.  Hopefully MUCH later - or preferably never!"

"Well, I'm a woman and always will be, but I'm also (insert one of the new-administration-hated ethnic groups here - I've left specifics out for her privacy.)  So I'm doubly at risk, as are you at the moment.  But you do have one advantage:  to most people, you're an American woman.  Sweetie, whatever you do, and wherever you go, PLEASE BE SAFE.  It's dangerous out there.  As a woman, you follow the rules for female safety.   When you go out at night, beware of nearby men...and go with other girls or get an escort if necessary."  "Don't worry, I do - and I will."   Then it was time to see the Doctor, and I went through part of the above another willing, supportive person...   Good turn of events!

But there's one thing I'm curious about...if I were in front of her in line at the women's room, would she (as a seemingly-supportive female) feel threatened by me if we entered the women's room at the same time and she and I sat down in adjacent stalls, or if we refreshed our lipstick and powdered our noses at the mirror, side-by-side?

Since I don't know the answer...when the situation presents itself in the future, I'll ask!

More later...


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Epilogue...for my "pink fog" weekend.

The morning after the show, at the new hotel, something woke me up early.

A glance out the window brought sunrise into focus.  Mother Nature provided a magnificent "pink-orange with few high clouds" display in the eastern sky,  a very appropriate "book-end" on my weekend of "pink fog."   With plenty of time before I had to check out and start my morning,  I took the time to document it digitally.

With sunrise over, thoughts turned to "what to wear today."   Skirts - long OR short - weren't in the picture that day.  I would be too close to home, and in an area frequented by casual shoppers from our area.  Plus, the cornfields (for "cornfield changes") have all been harvested!   I settled on jean capris, pantyhose, turtleneck tunic, and flats, with lipstick, light makeup and some easily removable jewelry.   Below is a picture of the day's outfit, taken later in the day, against a background of muted fall colors on the western side of Chesapeake Bay...

This turned out to be a great choice!   When I appeared at the hotel's front desk to check out (with suitcase and other baggage in tow), the male clerk didn't hesitate a moment about my gender.   I was immediately addressed as female, and we even had a bit of lively conversation about the weather and traveling.  It all seemed so natural and appropriate to assume the female role in a situation like this.    I spoke a bit lighter, and with a bit higher pitch, than normal, but if I forced it higher yet, my voice would crack and I'd cough.  What I did seemed to work with this guy.   Note to works, so keep doing it!

Got everything stuffed back in the car (it was FULL again) and headed for some errands on the way home.  One was to check on some items being sold for me by a third party.  Off came the jewelry, but I still was wearing makeup and the outfit in the picture...very feminine.  The female proprietor knows me as male and addressed me that way despite my feminine outfit and presentation.

At the big-box store, I had trouble with their self-service register, so a female clerk came over to help.  Again, no question as to my gender.  She addressed me as female.  As did the checker on the way out the door...nice!   And I love hearing "Have a wonderful day, Miss (enter my given name here, which is now used by girls.)"

Then it was off to the mall.   As usual, I had to walk the mall's center aisle to get to the stores I wanted.   Unfortunately I had to pass a kiosk with two aggressive male clerks double-teaming all the women (translation: overt flattery),  trying to get to talk to them about their potions.   They both obviously believed I was a woman, so it was my turn to enjoy(?) their attention.

"You look lovely, Miss - here's a free sample of our product. " "No thanks, Sirs" in my slightly-modified voice.  And I kept walking.  One of them said "Oh please, Miss, don't break my heart...just give this a try and you'll be even more beautiful."  "Thanks, sir, but no thanks."  And I kept walking as they were babbling away.  Finally out of earshot of those guys, who by then had given up on me and started to target the other girls, I arrived at the computer store, to buy a cheap accessory.   Again, I was identified as female by the male clerk, and he helped me find what I needed.

Now to head for the shoe store...

My recent luck has been good with a certain brand of women's shoes (and they aren't cheap.)  So when I got a coupon for 25% off, I figured I'd stop in and see if they fit.  "Would you like for me to measure your feet just to be sure you get the right size?"  To myself, I thought "Oh, my - he'll see my painted toes.  But why not?  I'm a woman, and I'm wearing pantyhose..."  He picked up the Brannock device and confirmed my size.  I told him what I was interested in trying on.  He went into the back, and after a few minutes, the short version of his story was "Ma'am, you'll need to order on line, as we don't have your size in stock.  But they will honor the coupon."   Daggonit, I was hoping to take home a new pair of shoes.

"OK, thanks Sir.  But...(and I summoned up some courage) can I try on a pair of these?"  I held up a pair of elegant pointy toe shoes, with about 4" heels...something I've never worn before.   They surprisingly had a pair in stock, so he had me sit down to attend to me. (That was another new experience - sitting in a chair at the shoe store, having the salesman fit me with a pretty pair of sky-high heels.)  He told me that they were very stylish, adding that  "they really dress up your capri outfit, and would look beautiful with skirts and dresses.  I can put your flats in the box if you'd like to wear these home." Then he added,  "You'll be Belle of the Ball in an evening gown with these heels!"   (Oh, my - don't I wish I could?)

I thought they looked fabulous, and made me feel even more feminine, if that's possible.  (That pink fog was really obscuring everything...)  But when I stood up,  I knew they weren't going to work...being a bit wobbly was bad enough,, but walking with my toes cramped in them made me long for my Mary Jane heels.   So I told him "I just love the looks, but they're not comfortable...I'm unaccustomed to heels this high, so I think I'll stick with the flats I'll order on line..."   He offered to put me in some lower heels, but I point in wasting his time, since there were other women shopping.  (None that I noticed were staring as I modeled the heels...a big surprise.)

Well, now that my shoe shopping was complete, the only way back to the car was - you guessed it - past those two aggressive kiosk peddlers.  Every girl's least favorite people.  And right on schedule, the banter started again..."Hey pretty lady, you're back...can I give you a free sample?"  The other said "We don't give up on you, do we?"  I stopped walking and said "No you don't sweetie, but I give you a consistent answer every time - No Thank You!"  "Won't you please reconsider?"  "Sorry boys, not today, maybe some other time.  This girl's got places to go. Bye now!"  "We'll cry, honey..."  "Sorry, sweetie, I'm fresh out of tissues...see ya later, boys!" I looked at them and smiled, winked, and off I walked...    (After the fact, I couldn't believe I was that bold!  I guess there really must be a girl within...)

The one peddler overdid it so much, that it makes me wonder:  could he have been flirting with me?   Am I off-base there?  Perhaps I was even beginning to respond like a woman playing "hard to get"?    Or maybe he thought he recognized my true gender and was simply disguising his "hate?"  Don't know, don't care.  I loved the attention...and I wasn't even wearing a skirt.   It actually was kinda fun!

Once back out in the car, that heavy pink fog (which had thickened significantly during this trip, and even more so during my visit to the mall) finally began to dissipate...   Now that my weekend was over, off came the jewelry, and a makeup removal towel removed my lipstick and makeup.   Time to go home...and stuff Mandy back in the suitcase.  She won't be seeing the full light of day again for quite some time.


This wonderful weekend was almost "advance compensation" for the upcoming long wait for "next time" whole experience was fabulous.    But meanwhile, thank heavens for androgyny!



PS the flats are now on order, and I got the discount, plus free shipping...will post a pic soon.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Another antique show - Day Three

Final day...and attendance picked up considerably.  This certainly helped sales for all the vendors.  I noticed that customers generally avoided using any gender-related form of address when speaking to me.  Only a few used female terms (that was a good thing...particularly with my associate close by, and people from our neighborhood running around at the show.)

But with the increased patronage came a few glances my way.   In particular, two young girls (probably around 7 years old) in tow by their parents at two separate times that afternoon, couldn't get their eyes off me.  I smiled at them as they went by.  If they hadn't been holding their daddy's hand, they would have tripped and hit the deck.  I wonder what questions they had for their parents later?

The one time that day I found myself in need of restroom, a guy (show attendee, I think) was exiting the men's room as I walked in. "Honey, this is the men's's off limits to women.  You use the women's room next door."   I said nothing, and kept walking "in."  Likewise, he kept on walking "out"...and as there was nobody else in the restroom to object, I stayed.  I didn't see him again.  I'm fairly certain that his comment was made with the thought in mind that I (seen by him as female) was walking into the wrong restroom, not as an anti-trans statement.  But we'll never know for sure.

Thankfully, the uptick in attendance turned the weekend from what could have been a net loss, into a nearly break-even weekend for many of us!  It could have been a lot worse...

Due to a previously-known significant increase in room rates for Sunday night at the first hotel, that made it necessary for me to change to another hotel for my third night.  Sunday morning I checked out of the first hotel, and after the sale ended, I loaded the car, headed for the new hotel.

Upon arrival, once again I was universally presumed to be female.  Not once did I hear the dreaded "S" word, nor were there any "genderless" greetings.  And at that moment, I wasn't even in a skirt or dress like the following picture - simply stirrup pants, pantyhose and a women's turtleneck tunic, with my purse and necklace.  Of course this girl quickly shaved, applied her lipstick and makeup, and changed into something more feminine...I wasn't about to wear pants to dinner!   In the hotel restaurant, which wasn't busy, there was good service.  The male server, who was attentive to this lady, got a nice tip.

Following are pictures of me as I returned to the room after dinner.  For technical reasons  (namely suitcase room) my wardrobe this trip was limited to two skirt outfits, one jean capri outfit, and one extra pair of stirrup pants).  So with the warm weather, I felt obligated to wear the skirt which kept my legs on display:

Maybe next year I should wear stirrup pants to the show, but bring my two favorite skirt outfits as  spare clothes.   As long as nothing happens to my pants (like spills or stains) I'd be fine, and it's true that I didn't need to wear my spare stirrups this time.  But I probably won't do it.  If I spilled my lunch on my pants enroute Friday, I'd end up in skirts full time for the rest of the weekend.  While my female side wouldn't mind at all, I'm just not prepared for that quite yet...

But it would be an amazing experience!

Stay tuned for more...


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Another Antique Show - Day Two

This show is always a fun event...

For the second day, I dressed in a different version of my stirrups/pantyhose/turtleneck tunic outfit, and decided against wearing socks over my pantyhose.  It's time to let a little bit more of Mandy show, for everyone's benefit.  

With attendance (and sales) way down, I somehow managed to time my two restroom visits so that nobody was around...thus no issue.  And I only heard "Ma'am" a few times, this from customers or strangers.   Nothing was said about my apparent femininity by the guy with whom I share the space...and normal conversation didn't require gendered greetings.

It took me by complete surprise when one of the folks from my neighborhood (whom I didn't recognize, but who recognized me) stopped by, introduced himself and invited me to visit their table.  Small world!  At that point I was glad that Mandy wasn't standing there in a pretty dress and makeup...that would have been embarrassing!   

As expected, I once again met - and talked with - the trans-woman vendor who first spoke to me in October of 2014 (see my archive post dated Tuesday November 4, 2014 and titled "Part 4...last day and main event!")   We've kept in touch by email and phone, and it was good to see her and her family again - her kids were there as well.   It was nice to be able to catch up on events...even if we had to do it quickly - using time stolen from our selling efforts. 

Interestingly, even with reduced attendance, she told me that she had seen (but not talked to) about 3 other folks at the show who could be trans, based on their mannerisms, appearance and actions.   I told her I hadn't noticed any of them yet.   But it was only a few minutes later that a customer was walking the aisles, with a feminine short hairdo, makeup, a masculine build and walk, and a feminine top and jeans with sneakers, but no purse or nail polish.  I spotted her immediately, and then pointed her out to my friend, who agreed - this girl was not one of the 3 she had spotted.   That possible trans shopper didn't stay around too long...   We'll never know if she was, or was not, trans.  But I'll look for her again next year.

We discussed doing dinner Saturday, but unfortunately our schedules didn't mesh to allow that on this trip.  It  would have been fun, but will wait till next year.   And I'll look forward to it!

Back at the hotel, I changed into a skirt and tunic, put on my sweater, and headed for the nearby Red Lobster.  Unfortunately,, two tour buses had come in, and there were folks milling around outside waiting for tables.  I wasn't in the mood to wait, so I drove back to the hotel restaurant for dinner.

But before I left the Red Lobster parking lot, I snapped a picture...see below.

At the hotel, before heading to the dining room I grabbed a couple more pictures - one at the elevator and one in mt room..   Once I had rung for the elevator, two men came around the corner, let me enter the elevator ahead of them, saying "ladies first" and I thanked them. 

See below:

I like the cooler helps to disguise some of the less flattering aspects of my physique.  You'll notice that I'm wearing flats instead of my Mary Jane, that was a "space" issue.  I simply didn't have enough room in the car to bring them!   The car was FULL!   And if I ever can find the perfect dress, that's an item I need to add to my wardrobe.  (Though wearing a dress would certainly limit my ability to "change outfits in the cornfields.")

After dinner, I walked to the elevator, to go back to the room...and who was there waiting, but my friend and her kids (both boys, one over 21, and one under.)  Out of the blue, the older boy invited me to join them at an after-dinner function.  Unfortunately, at that hour, I had to decline...time to finish up some paperwork in the room, and hit the sack, as the third day is an early one, even with the end of Daylight Saving Time.  But I was thoroughly pleased that her sons didn't mind being in the company of an un-transitioned trans woman...but then, I guess I looked fairly passable (there's that word I hate again - let's try "presentable!")   And it's certainly not a topic new to them, so  there's "no issue."

I'd love to talk about things with them.  We'll try for next time...

Stay tuned for more!


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Don't forget to vote!

To my USA readers:

It's election day.  Don't forget to get out there and vote...let your conscience be your guide as to which candidate.   A ballot not cast is a wasted vote.   Let your voice be heard!


Another antique show...Day One

Recently I attended an autumn antique (items, not cars) show/sale, as I have done for several years (though not last year...had to visit the granddaughter right after she was born!)    Prior to leaving, I visited the nail salon for a pedicure, plus a repair on one of my fingernails, which lost some of its gel.  The techs diligently addressed me as "Ma'am" - for which I'm grateful.  I feel very feminine in their shop, and enjoy occasional discussions with the girls...

On the first day, I wore stirrup pants with pantyhose, flats, necklace and a women's turtleneck tunic.  The show is some distance from where I live, requiring a morning on the road before arrival. Those who knew me from previous attendance already were aware of my  birth gender, and didn't seeem to care about my sartorial style.  And concurrently, that afternoon when the show began, vendors noted that attendance got "off on the wrong foot" - translation: it was "way down".  All of us began to be concerned, but the show was for two more full days, so anything could happen.  

During past shows, there have been a number of comments from men whenever I used the men's room.  I'm now limiting my liquid and caffeine intake at the show, which cuts the number of times I need to visit.  But with so few attendees,  that day there was no issue whatsoever when I used the men's room.

At the end of the first day, when I checked into my hotel, I was addressed as a woman.  By everyone.  When I entered the hotel with my luggage, the doors were opened and held for me by male guests.  Upon thanking the men, they replied "you're welcome, Ma'am."  The desk clerk (male) unwaveringly used female forms of address (both at check in, and - by a different male clerk - on check-out.)  On my first trip up the elevator, a luggage-less and attractive twentysomething woman entered the elevator first, held the door for me (I was hauling my load of luggage), and we chatted briefly about how tough some of the rolling suitcases can be to control.   Coincidentally, we were destined for the same floor, and her room was next to mine.  She didn't seem the least bit concerned...    "Have a great evening, Ma'am."  "You too, Miss."  Nice.  And I wasn't even wearing a skirt yet!

Mandy dressed and painted her face, then went out to dinner.   She was interpreted as - and addressed as - a woman the entire time.   By staff and customers alike.  "Let the lady by, Jimmy!"  And even though Mandy was alone...she had a good time.  Below are some pix of my outfit.   (Sorry the pix are a bit dark.)

I did not hear the dreaded "S" word at all...and loved it!   After dinner it was time to relax and hit the sack early.  Day Two beckons!

Stay tuned...


Friday, November 4, 2016

Who could resist...

...the opportunity for my wife and I to spend some time visiting at a timeshare in Maine with my cousin and her hubby?  (Even though it meant no chance for Mandy to be out and about fully dressed)?   Not me, and not us...

During our other excursions this fall, we had chased from MD to NH to TN, finding very little of the annual leaf display.   We were too early - the warm, dry summer seemed to delay onset of the leaf change.  Even now, as I write this (early November), some have changed, but there are still trees with green leaves here on the Delmarva.   Pre-booked tours for "leaf peepers" may have had many unhappy customers this year, because of the late autumn..

Our train trip north from Baltimore to Portland was uneventful, and with the help of a rental car, we caught up to my cousin north of Portland the next day.  And voila!  There it downeast Maine, the annual marvel of autumn colors! 

While traveling or dining with the relatives, I was mostly "Sir" or "no gender reference used", despite my outfit of stirrup pants, women's turtlenecks, flats, purse etc.   One big exception was servers letting the women order first - and when the server asked for my order, I just gave it to her, not worrying about it.

For the time traveling with just my wife, it was mostly "no gender reference" or "implied female."   Curiously, I didn't hear much "Sir" when traveling with her.

I'm going to include a few pictures here from our travels, with comments as appropriate.

View from the top of Cadillac Mountain.

Sunset at Bass Harbor Light...lighthouse hiding in the trees on the right.

Route 1A between Ellsworth and Bangor

Penobscot Narrows Bridge with observation deck (in far tower.)

Mandy underneath the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.

View from the Penobscot Narrows Bridge observation deck...   This is a view of Bucksport, Maine, including the large paper mill across the river in the left center.  That mill was recently shut down, affecting many in this small town.

Fort Knox, across the river from Bucksport, Maine.  The fort was named after Major General Henry Knox, America's first Secretary of War and Commander of Artillery during the American Revolution.  America's other Fort Knox (in Kentucky) was also named after him.  Nearly a million dollars was spent to build Fort Knox.   Appropriations were sporadic over 25 years starting in about 1844.  When work finally stopped in 1869, it was still not completed.

The fort saw two periods of military activity.  Up to about 54 troops were garrisoned there during the Civil War..  As the fort was still under construction,, they lived in temporary wooden buildings behind the granite structure.   Nearly 600 troos from Connecticut lived at the fort for a month during the Spanish-American War.  They lived in tents outside the main structure.  No enemy shis ever appeared on the Penobscot, or threatened its towns during these wars.

Waterfront in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Along Route 1 north of Ellsworth, Maine.

The new (Dec 2014) bridge over the Kennebec River, linking Richmond and Dresden, Maine.  Picture was taken while standing on the "now" boat launch, which appears to have been the old bridge's access road.   Bridge is tall enough to clear the masts of local sailing ships...thus avoiding installing a lift bridge and paying a full-time bridge tender for the next 100 years.

When taking the train back to Boston on the way home, it was necessary to change from the Amtrak Downeaster, which arrives at Boston's North Station, to the regular Northeast Corridor trains at Boston South Station.

Hired help from the Boston MBTA (the "T" in local terms) directed us out a particular door to find a cab.  But there was no cab stand, and no cabs.  Not one...   Construction in the area may have eliminated the cab stand we had used in our previous visit there a number of years ago.  After hauling our bags all the way out there (we did not "travel light"), my wife was quite dismayed, and a more than a bit cranky about the possibility that we might have to haul our bags back into the station.  (For those who live in Boston and want to tell us that the T is quicker and cheaper:  Yes, we know it's only a short T ride from one station to the other.  But we just wanted to get there...without being "old dogs learning new tricks" while hauling our bags.  The cab was best for us.)

I looked up - and what did I see coming down the street toward us in the far lane?  A beautiful sight  - a vacant cab!  Wonderful!   Having never before hailed a cab the big city way, I emulated "Tootsie" in the 1982 movie of the same name (starring Dustin Hoffman, who played a lousy actor who had to crossdress to get a part in a third-rate soap opera).  Too bad I wasn't wearing a dress...

Taking the lead,  I jumped out into the street and raised my arm.  The cabbie flashed his lights.  When the light turned green  he burned rubber around traffic and pulled in to pick up his 2 fares.    "Where to, Ma'am?"  That cab was a Godsend. Even my wife was thrilled that I got us a cab that easily...and it didn't seem to bother her that the driver thought I'm a woman.   We both reaped the benefit. Why argue prosperity?

Now for the question:  was our driver in fact responding to two women (one at the curb with short hair and in jeans and sneakers, and one in the street with long - feminine - hair, in stirrup pants and flats, with visibly bare ankles and a purse), or to a man and a woman?  Or did he just see two genderless customers?  Don't know for sure...but I suspect the former.  If he recognized my physical gender, it didn't matter to him.  Money beckoned... 

Whichever was his reasoning, he got a nice tip from this girl...he appeared at just the right time to de-fuse a looming issue with my wife, who was grumpy and exhausted from over a week of traveling.

And after getting on the train for Baltimore, we relaxed as the Conductor checked our tickets:  "Thanks for traveling Amtrak, ladies."

A great end to a fabulous "androgynous excursion..."


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Quickie: "Nice skirt..."

It was an interesting vacation.

I made no attempt at femininity the whole time.  My outfits generally were shorts and club logo tops of various organizations.  Most of the time my appearance resulted in "no gender-related greetings."  But at restaurants, there were more than a few stray indications that they (the staff) interpreted both my wife and I as female.  Things like asking "one bill or two?",  leaving the bill on the table between us, and pointing me toward the ladies' room.  One that comes immediately to mind was a server asking for orders, who said "Ladies first, and started with my wife.  She then took my order and my friend's wife's order, before taking our friend's husband's order. 

Yet, "Sir" would occasionally pop up at the oddest of times, sometimes after the above types of situations.  I guess that comes as part of my androgynous presentation.  A little confusion never hurt anybody.

Among friends, as we frequently were - of course they know my true gender.  And everyone seems to accept my presentation.

However, one particular day I was wearing shorts over bare shaved legs,  a men's club logo polo shirt (men's because it was all they sold - it's OK for women to wear men's things - double standard, of course), women's flats, and carrying my purse.  I carried the sweater I wore that had been a bit chilly that morning.   By afternoon,  it was tied it around my waist to free up my arm.

That little change was sufficient to elicit a comment from the jokester in the crowd, who at one point happened to be walking behind me:  "Nice skirt, (insert my given name here.)"   My generic reply (with a smile) was "glad you like it.   It's very comfortable."   What I didn't say (to spare my wife, and avoid controversy) would have been "You can be glad I'm not wearing all the other trimmings today - like styled hair, makeup, jewelry and a pair of heels to match."

Even so, I didn't hear another peep out of him about it.   Wonder why?



Saturday, October 22, 2016

From Nashville...

It's not often that you're walking in a downtown (urban) environment (in this case, Nashville at mid-day) with your wife and son,  with lots of people on the street. and experience something like the following...    After having just come out of an entertainment venue,  you hear a "snap."   Sort of like a firecracker, but not as loud - more like the sound of a kid's cap pistol being discharged. (OK, there's one the younger folks may not remember - cap pistols - kids' toy guns with those little paper rolls inside, having bumps of a substance which explodes when the trigger is pulled.)

Curiosity got the best of us and instead of running (nobody else was running, either), we looked around.   Slightly behind us was a very disheveled and shabbily-clothed woman, picking up her cell phone off the sidewalk and muttering.   Hmmm.   As we watched, she put the phone to her ear,  dialed and then started mumbling something about the (expletive deleted) phone not letting her make an (expletive deleted) emergency call...   Then she whipped the phone forcefully to the ground - again.   "SNAP!"

We couldn't believe what we were seeing...and we'll never know what her emergency was.   Perhaps she was trying to reach her husband or significant other?   Could she have forgotten to pay her phone bill?   Was she homeless? (Most likely, from her appearance.)  Or perhaps it was a stolen phone - which had been locked and thus unusable?  Or maybe she was trying to reach her drug dealer for a quick fix, and at an inopportune time, ran out of minutes.

In any event, it was time to move on, as she didn't need any sort of help we could - or would - provide.  And it was very obvious from the snapping, which continued at least 3 more times as we walked away,  that her phone was never going to make another call.   Un-explainable things happen in big cities...

At one point during our visit, we had an appointment for a tour of a Nashville area historical house, with some friends.   The tour group leader saw us walk in, and as I stood next to my male friend, asked me "Are you (insert male friend's wife's name here)?" as we were standing there.   I smiled and said "No, I'm (insert my given -  now female - first name here) - the lady you want is standing over there."   He went over to talk to her about the reservation she had made.

Fortunately her husband is a bit hard of hearing...nothing was said about the "mix-up."

In a few minutes, our lady friend came over with the tour guide, and introduced us all.  He shook everyone's hand...the lady's husband received a normal male handshake, and the rest of us got a female (weak) handshake, and he put his other hand over top of my hand, just like he did with the other women.  At that moment,  I felt intensely feminine, like he was in complete control.  When I saw him do that for the other women, I knew he was treating me as he would any other woman.

We had our tour, and after it was finished, we ended up in the gift shop.  I headed for the restroom, with my purse over my shoulder.  A few seconds later, an attendant came into the men's room as I was closing the stall door - "Ma'am, this is the men's room...the women's room is the next door down."  I gave him my usual "I'm qualified" answer and he said "Oh, ok, sorry Sir...Ma'am" as he blushed, turned and left.   I went about my business, and noticed no other men had come in.  Hmmmm.  I wondered?   But there was nobody outside the men's room as I emerged, thus it was purely luck that I was alone.

Afterward, we (my wife, our friends and I) visited a specialty shopping center a few miles south of Nashville.  There, we came across a large rocking chair, that some kids were playing on.  With our wives "doing their thing" in the ladies' room, our (male) friend decided he wanted a pic of himself sitting on it...which I happily took for him, using his camera.   Then I handed my camera to him so he could reciprocate.

Here is the result:

As he prepared to take my picture, a very nice woman took a few seconds away from being with her kids, and offered to take a picture "of both of you sitting there together."  I guess she thought I was his wife...and that's a first!   Wow...I never figured that would happen.  I thanked her, but begged off, kidding that it would guarantee the camera would surely break with both of us in the picture.   

Afterward we went to dinner.  During our meal, the very efficient male server had absolutely no trouble identifying me as male.

Go figure...

More later,


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Haunted House

With apologies to Jumpin Gene Simmons , whose song "Haunted House" was popular in the 1960's. there really is a "haunted house" in Wythe County in southwesterrn Virginia.  We were driving south on I-81, saw some signs for Graham's Forge, VA and decided to investigate...

The day was cloudy and foggy, to be sure.  But when the road surface became unpaved, it really set the mood.  After bumping along on washboard surfaces for what seemed like hours, but in reality was only a few minutes, we came across this massive estate, which was once the home of Squire David Graham who operated 12 furnaces, a forge, and a grain mill, was part owner of nearby lead mines, owned 26,000 acres in the Grahams Forge community, and was known as the “first ironsmith of southwest Virginia”.  

He began to build the original rear frame section of the Mansion in the 1830s.

In 1838, Major David Pierce Graham was born.  It is said that Major Graham lived at “Cedar Run” as it was originally called, all of his life.  Additions to the home were made periodically until the 1890's, with brick being made locally.

In the1930s: Jim Graham, a Wytheville (VA) banker and resident of “Cedar Run”, moved his family from the Mansion “to town” and used the property intermittently for holiday and picnic outings.

Back in 1943: The home and approximately 1200 acres were purchased by law professor Reid Fulton.  His grandfather, Creed Fulton, was a founder of Emory and Henry College.   An eccentric book collector, Fulton lived in the Mansion until the 1980s.  

Fulton sold the property to Dr. James Chitwood of Pulaski in the 1970s and his vast antique book collections were donated and sold to libraries all over the world.  Dr. Chitwood listed the mansion property on the National Historic Register in 1984.  The property was owned briefly by a corporation from West Virginia.   J.C. (Josiah Cephus) 

Weaver purchased the property in early 1990 and incorporated it into his current 4000 acre W.W.  Ranch, where he raises Angus and Hereford beef cattle.

The estate has become a paranormal activity hotspot, prompting many expeditions to explore those reports. 

Weaver has maintained the property with direct intention of preservation of the mansion and it's history and heritage. He also hosts many events at the Cedar Run mansion throughout the year, with the most popular events held during the Fall months. Those events include haunted (paranormal) research, music festivals, and ghost tours.

 A fascinating place...when you drive off paved road to get there, it sets the mood for things to come.   Too bad we won't be in town for one of their tours!

The rest of our trip south was completely unremarkable...

More later...


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Dentist, phone store & "on the road again."

I had to take my wife to a couple of appointments the day before we left for a visit to the kids’ place down south. 

After I delivered my wife to the dentist’s office, I set off for the cell phone store for answers to some questions about upgrading to a newer phone.  There, the only clerk was busy selling an expensive i-phone, so I waited for about 20 minutes after having been told by the clerk “stand by for a few minutes, Ma’am – I’ll be with you shortly.”   Twenty minutes later, they were still at it, so I said “I’ll be back later, Miss.”   “No problem Ma’am.  Thanks for understanding.”

So it was back to the dentist to wait for my wife.  When I entered the waiting room (in black capris, a red tee-blouse with necklace, and black flats) while she had her appointment, a woman walked in and sat down.   Instead of sitting there and staring at me, she chose a much friendlier approach to figuring out the enigma - start a discussion about the weather.  I had my laptop with me, and used it to check the forecast as we chatted (I don’t use a smart phone.) 

Naturally, this developed into a wonderful back-and-forth about places we’ve lived and the weather there.  Then a man walked in (her husband, it turned out) after parking their car.  On his way over to sit down next to her, he smiled at me and said “A-ha, a working woman with a laptop.  Where do you work, Ma’am?”   When I told him I’d retired…he said he spent 26 years in the Navy, and was also retired.

He touched on the subject of politics just enough to imply that despite being a retired military man, he could not support “the orange one.”  We agreed that candidate probably would not be a good choice for anyone – except perhaps the "top 1 percent of the top 1 percent."  And we agreed that this is the first election we can recall, where Americans won't be voting for the best candidate...instead they'll vote "for" the one they "dislike the least."  At that point the topic evaporated, and other topics were discussed.   

As more folks came in, they simply picked up a magazine and started to read.    It was a real pleasure to not end up playing "Peek-a-Boo, I See You" with  folks in the waiting room...whether they're wearing sunglasses or not! 

I heard my wife come out of the office and make her next appointment at the front desk (around the corner, out of direct sight), and the clerk asked if she wanted to check with her husband since he had his computer.  (In other words, she knew precisely who I was – and thus my gender.)  My wife said no, and she actually guessed right about a good date for her next appointment.  The folks I was talking with didn’t seem to relate the medical assistant's "husband" comment, and when I got up to leave, they said, “so long, Ma’am.”

The experience "made my day"…that's the way things should always be.

Preparations for our visit to the kids’ place was fun…and on the appointed day, we left the house with me dressed androgynously, in capris and a blouse, with flats.

Enroute, at a couple of rest stops enroute I got the usual “looks” at the men's restroom, but no real issues.   And at our lunch break, the clerk did not use gender specific pronouns.   Other than that, the trip was quite uneventful…giving us time to stop in Marion, VA – home to the Hungry Mother State Park, a visit to which I described in a recent post.

Here we found the Lincoln Theatre, a restored early 20th century vaudeville venue, beautifully restored after a number of years in disrepair.  The door was unlocked, so we walked in and were only able to get a short, unofficial tour, as there was a planning session in progress on stage - full tours were out of the question.  

Our short visit was sufficient to let us know that stopping by for a show at some point in time, should be added to our list of things to do.   

Coincidentally, the guide locked the theatre doors as we left....oops!   Guess we weren't supposed to just walk in!

And in Virginia nearby is Hungry Mother State Park.  Curious name...beautiful hills and lake, with a morbid reason for the name.  Related to an Indian battle, which resulted in settler Molly Marley and her baby being captured, they escaped but while on the run, the mother died.  When a search party found the toddler, the only words the toddler could say were "Hungry Mother."  Thus the park honors the solemnity of this event.

Thanks for reading!!

More later...


Monday, October 3, 2016

The Wedding.....

It was a very good experience...   

In general, on this joint excursion (for a wedding in the mountains of New Hampshire), there were mostly no references to gender in addressing me.  Of course as always, I noted some exceptions to that rule!

EnrouteDays 1 & 2.    I was dressed in capris, top and flats, and went inside at a PA rest stop, to use the men’s room  (there was no “family room.”)  The female attendant stopped me, pointed out the the men’s room sign by my shoulder, and said "use the women’s room over there.

In my male voice, I told her that the men’s room was appropriate, and she appeared to be shocked.  That made my day, week and month.   Even better was the look on two womens' faces as I came out of the men’s room and they started to go in – until they read the sign.  I guess I must have been “passing” a bit better than I thought.  No makeup, either...

Maybe next time I'm invited - I should just do it??!!

Traveling in Vermont, on US 5 in Bellows Falls, I was “Ma’am” at a restaurant.   There was an information booth in town, and when I got there (after taking pictures around the Amtrak and Green Mountain railroad stations), my wife was already talking with the lady attendant.  I heard “my husband” mentioned as I browsed.  So, I didn’t do any talking, and when we left, the clerk said " thanks for stopping by, ladies.”

During our walk around town after lunch, we came across this cute old diner.  Wish we had noticed it earlier.   Would have been fun to try it for lunch, instead of the restaurant we visited.

We stopped at the Vermont Country Store, just outside of Bellows Falls. In case you're not familiar with them, look them up on the web.  Fascinating place to visit - if you need it, they probably have it.

In White River Junction, a bit further up Route 5, I noticed a pair of abandoned phone booths…see below.  Don’t you wonder how many teens are oblivious to their former place in "everyday life?"   Need to call home?  Find a pay phone...there's one on every corner.  Car acting up?  Look for a place with a pay phone.

But no more. 

By dinnertime that night, at the wedding venue, we had checked into our lodging of choice, and I had changed into the best casual male I could muster (women’s slacks and a turtleneck) for the rehearsal dinner, with my hair pulled up and pinned into a pony tail.  (My wife wants it that way, and I'm long as it's only for weddings and funerals.  In return, she seems to pretty much overlook my femininity the rest of the time.)   

The bride and groom knew me as male, as did several others, so there were no issues.  However, it was a good thing I was wearing my pair of women’s dressy work boots with my outfit…and not my dressy black flats.  The bride’s mother was wearing a pair of Clarks flats, exactly like mine…including the same colorGiven the bunch of 30-something women there, it surely would have been noticed.   (Apparently we both have the same taste in shoes…I would have loved to have been wearing her heels that she wore to the wedding the following day.  About 4” high.  Peep toe.  Nice.  Even though she had trouble walking in them.   I would have, too!)

Throughout the evening, I kept hearing girls talking about “Miss (insert my male name – which is now used by females).  Come to find out one of the bride’s best friends is a female by that name.   She’s very attractive, just like the bride!  If I had instinctively responded, it would have not been particularly good, especially since I was presenting as male!

Day 3: the wedding itself.   Other than hearing my name (when people were actually calling to the bride’s best friend), I was not mistaken for female - my hair was pulled into a ponytail/pinned up, and I was wearing my “Weddings and Funerals Only” men’s suit.  It must have made my wife happy that she heard “Sir” being appropriately used a number of times that day.

Days 4 and 5:  Enroute home.  There were no notable issues, even though once again I was back in feminine clothes.    And in Port Jervis, NY we managed to find the former Erie RR turntable and storage siding (with turntable and visible footers for the roundhouse walls) for the defunct short line New York and Greenwood Lake passenger train and engines.  It was behind a pharmacy and next to a substantially-abandoned strip mall.   Not the best of neighborhoods, to say the least, but we survived!  

And I even managed to get some pictures...above and below:

Response to my androgynous style of  dressing was much better than I figured it would be.  Let’s hope that trend continues.

More later,