Saturday, June 25, 2016

On vacation...Part 1

We've been visiting our son, daughter-in-law and baby grand-daughter in Tennessee for the past while.  It has been good to see them again.  The baby is growing, and is moving toward her first steps -  she crawls very rapidly, and can support herself standing upright.  One day, it will just happen.   But not likely for this trip...

Mandy stayed back at home, safely tucked away in her suitcase.  My own wardrobe was mostly shorts, bare (shaved) legs, fisherman sandals, tunic tops, and purse, with long hair and light pink manicured nails, necklace, and a close shave - but no makeup.  My wife reminded me to take a couple of pairs of capris and a pair of stirrups in case we needed to dress up, and I threw in pantyhose, but they weren't needed very often.   After all, who wants to dress up in near-100 degree temperatures?

Enroute, we stopped at Big Walker Mountain overlook in Virginia.   The female proprietor addressed me as "Sir" when I paid my admission.  Guess she could see past the feminine cues.   The men folk around at quitting time didn't pay any attention to me whatsoever...I guess they didn't have a clue.    That's a good thing.

Though I climbed the 100-foot observation tower myself (wife not comfortable with open heights - neither was I, but what the heck), I was able to get some good pictures.  As per the following:

Big Walker Mountain overlook...and the observation tower...

The view from the top.  Note the tan-colored "swinging bridge" over the parking lot. 

Expansive views from the top of the tower.  You can't see it, but the wind gusts were swaying the tower.  Ugh...

I walked their swinging bridge, but only to prove I could do it.  (And because it was close to the ground, not over some deep canyon.)  That was the first - and only - time this gal plans to tread on one of those! 

At lunch and dinner time on the first day enroute (it takes two days each way), and despite my reception at the overlook, my androgynous casual attire didn't keep me from being identified as a female.  We were "ladies" to the folks at the restaurants - both for lunch and dinner.  The male motel clerk saw my driver's license but omitted any gendered greetings.

There were several informal "get-togethers" with the kids' friends during our visit, and I'm known as their "father" or "father-in-law," or by my first name.  No gender issues there...   Occasionally at stores and shops, we'd hear "Ma'am" and "Ladies."  But more often, no gender references, or the dreaded S word.  And the kids didn't bat an eyelash at female references.

One of our activities was to visit the Adventure Science Center near Nashville, with the kids and the baby.  It was fun to see our wide-eyed grand-daughter experience many new sights and sounds, and be around more kids than she has ever seen in one place in her short time on this earth...   It's definitely someplace that we will visit again as she grows.

Below is a skyline picture of Nashville, taken from the rest area near the snack bar...

And a typical interior picture of the Adventure Science Center, intentionally taken with few humans visible:

Now we're looking forward to the next time...

Stay tuned for On Vacation Part 2.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Morning pictures

A couple of posts back, I mentioned that ten years ago, I used to venture into Baltimore's Inner Harbor on my way to morning meetings at the downtown office, in order to take pictures in the "sweet light" right after sun-up.   Here are some of the pictures...

Pride of Baltimore II

Waterfront scene with harbor cruise boats.

 Baltimore City Courthouse...

Did you ever have that sinking feeling?  
I heard that this one actually sank...right there at the dock.

For safety's sake (regardless of my attire), I wouldn't risk walking alone downtown nowadays...whatever the reason.   So I'm really glad that I have these memories...


Monday, June 13, 2016


This blog is now going to observe a moment of silence in memory of those lives lost and injuries incurred in the Orlando incident.  My thoughts and prayers are with the injured, and with the families of the deceased.   As well as with the community as a whole.

I don't have any answers to the problem. 

Others will beat the issue to death with arguments such as:  "guns don't kill people, people kill people","when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns",  "arm everyone, so the good guys can simply shoot the bad guys whenever they pop up - sort of like 'whack-a-mole'", "a lot of people die from knives, bombs, cars, fists (road rage), etc, so why not outlaw them and save more lives" and "how can people on the federal do-not-fly" list qualify to legally buy guns" just to name a few I've heard.   However impractical some of the above may be,  we as a nation, really need to resolve the issue  -  far too many have died in senseless attacks such as this.  And the sad part is that in three months, this issue will find its way to the back page. 

At least till the next massacre, when the cycle will begin anew.

Why can't people just "play nice?"


Round Two...and "some heels."

At the opthalmologist recently, there was another situation somewhat like the one with the lady on the bench, from my previous post...

I was sitting in the doctor's office with my wife, awaiting my followup appointment from the eye issue last November, when a 60-something gentleman (bearded and mustachioed, but quite bald on the top of his head, with a thin "comb-over" unsuccessfully trying to hide the bald spot) and his wife walked in and sat down direcrly across the room from me.  I was wearing 5" inseam women's tan shorts, pantyhose and a women's black tee, with my necklace, ballet flats, purse and long hair/nails.  (Again, no picture...sorry.)

All was well until he finished the obligatory paperwork they gave him, and turned it in.

At that point, he sat there, staring at me.  The first few times I innocently glanced his way, I found his eyes trained directly on me - there was nothing at all to see behind me but a completely blank wall.  No window, no clock, no wallpaper or wall hangings.   He obviously felt guilty about it,  as he immediately redirected his gaze each time.  But the instant I looked away, his eyes gravitated right back to me.  This little "dance" went on 5 or 6 times over about a minute.  So, I took a different approach,  and simply sat there, staring intently at him,  giving him a dose of his own medicine.  I didn't look away each time he stared my way, forcing him to repeatedly avert his own eyes.

After about three minutes of this version of the game, he finally picked up a magazine and began reading.   I kept staring at him for about three more minutes and he began "minding his manners."  So it was "Game Over."  Thankfully, five minutes later they were called into the exam room.   I was surprised that his wife didn't do anything similar. 

It would not have been appropriate to do any trans-education, since my wife was present (though she was reading, through the whole incident), and to do so would likely have caused issues for me once we got into the car to go home.  This was unfolding in a nearby town, so I probably wouldn't try that anyway.  But these incidents indicate that when dealing with the topic of crossdressers/transgenders, "a lot of folks temporarily forget (or simply don't have any) manners."

Let's hope there isn't a third time...but if there is, I'll deal with it again.  "Bathroom Wars" certainly seem to be stirring up the troops...and emboldening them.   Even when the bathroom issue isn't involved...

For those who may wonder, my eyes continue to survive the November incident just more  exam in six months, and then I can go back to 12 -18 months between check-ups.

The other day, my wife (the eternal never-wears-heels girl) received the new pair of shoes she ordered on-line,  lovely peep-toe wedges with about a 3.5" heel and a 1" platform.  When she put them on to check the fit, I told her they looked very pretty...which they did.  (They weren't my size, but if they were, I'd have worn them in a heartbeat.)  I also told her I was surprised she would buy heels of any height.   The comment was "they're not heels, they're wedges."   "OooooKaaaaaayy."

Next day, she was wearing sneakers.   And same thing the following day, when she took a shoe-sized box to the post office.  I didn't have a chance to note where it was going, however.   And I mentioned that I hadn't seen her wearing her new shoes very much.  Her comment was "I sent them back."  "Oh?  Why was that?"  "They just weren't comfortable."  My comment was:  "That's too bad, you looked fabulous in them.   I guess that pair of clogs (with the over-2" heel, and half inch platform) leaves me with the honor of being the high-heel-wearer in our family." There was no response.  I didn't expect one.

But I didn't utter a word about my Mary Janes with heels:

Haven't been able to put them on yet this year (pic from the archive, about two years ago), but they're comfortable enough "out of the box" for a few hours.  And if I wore them more often, probably would be able to leave them on them all day.    I'm looking forward to putting some miles on them later in the season!

Below is a picture from a visit to Ohio for a car show in the early 2000's, where I found some time to dress, and drop in at a town bearing my name - "Amanda."   I didn't get my name from the town, nor vice-versa.  But it was a cute coincidence...

Unfortunately, I no longer have the skirt suit... :-(



Saturday, June 4, 2016

Round One...

In my previous post, I mentioned that after my ER visit I rhetorically said "But I really do wonder what the documents they reviewed actually list as my gender."  That ER's medical facility does not automatically send copies of patient records to doctors who are not practicing there, such as one of mine.  So I stopped by the hospital (at the reception desk, once again I was "miss-identified by the clerk) and asked for directions to the medical records office.   When I arrived, I showed photo ID and arranged for the file to be sent.  In the process, I obtained a copy for myself.  After inspection, the answer to my own question is "All records show my correct birth gender."

That only leaves the question of "Why all the 'miss-identifications?'"   My true feminine appearance?  Lest I over-rate my femininity, "only if they need their eyes examined."   In this instance, I wasn't wearing makeup and it actually was 5 o'clock in the afternoon - so my "shadow" was showing.  Extreme political correctness?  Perhaps, but somewhat doubtful.  Maybe a combination of the two?  Perhaps more likely. "Paperwork started by the triage nurse and bearing the 'F' identifier may have been used for the exam, but apparently later corrected by someone along the way (maybe in writing reports after the CAT scan)" seems to be the most reasonable answer.  With the final record's accuracy, there shouldn't be future problems in obtaining medical service, especially since transition does not appear to be an imminent prospect...if ever.

But time will tell...and yes, it was nice to hear "Ma'am."  Even if they "were" just being politically correct.

As for the issue of my mother's missing brassieres:  The lost ones still have not been located, but I went through the suitcase of Mom's lingerie in my basement.  There, I found lots of likely candidates, one tagged very close to the size estimated by the aide and many approximately the same dimensions.  When I took two of them with me the next morning, her aide did not use a gender-specific greeting for me...she was just very friendly.  I used a Sharpie to put her name in both of them when I first arrived.  So, hopefully future loss should be avoided.   The aide tried them on Mom with me in the room, but I faced toward the window, with both Mom and the aide at my back for their privacy.  The good news is: both bras fit (which logic says they should, since she has neither gained nor lost weight since she last wore them many years ago.)

Plus, I know there are more where those came from...

A few days ago, I encountered a very interesting - but sad - display of ignorance as I dropped off a copy of the ER report to my Primary Care doctor's office (just in case they hadn't received it like they were supposed to.)  My wife and I arrived in our car, and I parked in the first available space.  I was wearing light gray capris, a blue boatneck tunic top, pantyhose and ballet flats, with my purse, necklace, long hair and nails.  (No picture, sorry!)

As I exited the car (my wife stayed there since it would be only a short visit), I noticed a mega-heavyset, jovial-sounding (?fiftysomething?) lady seated on a bench in front of the medical office building, laughing and talking religion with another lady, who was getting into her car.  The closer I got, the more I could hear biblical quotations passing back and forth between them.  (Note to self:  This should have been a danger alert, not that it would have changed anything.)

Once she noticed me, her smile abruptly disappeared, she got very quiet, and her eyes locked on me as I approached, like radar onto its target.  There was no greeting, just a wilting glare, which started from about 30 feet out and lasted until I passed her.  Fortunately I was wearing dark (women's) sunglasses and could watch her with impunity, simply by moving my eyes.  I couldn't resist following this display.

But here's the best part: unbeknownst to her, the bench she was seated on was strategically placed in front of a huge window, which (due to lighting at that time of day and the shadow from the car-port) gave a mirror-like, well-lit reflection of her sitting on the bench after I passed, without my actually turning around to look.  This was vital, as she continued to stare, and craned awkwardly around on the bench once I passed (a major accomplishment, given her extreme plus-size and the fact she was wearing a dress), continuing to glare at me as I entered the building.  While I'm absolutely certain many others have done double-and-triple takes before, it's the first time I've experienced this type of extreme hostility, at least when I've been able to "receive it."  Normally, I don't have the opportunity to know - and truly don't care - if people stare once I pass them.  It's their problem to deal with, not mine.  But this was too egregious, so I planned a tactful response.

When I came back out to the car a few minutes later, she was looking away from the door, apparently staring at "nothing," in deep contemplation of "something."   (Gee, I wonder what??!!)  When she sensed someone coming up to her from behind, she looked around, seemingly startled to see me, with that "deer-in-the-headlights" alarmed expression on her face.  I couldn't resist giving her a big smile, and said "have a beautiful and blessed day, Ma'am" to her in my deepest male voice, as I kept walking.  She choked up for a few seconds, then gurgled the same sentiment back at me, but with a scowl.  She looked so genuinely angry as I passed by her, I thought she might have wet herself.  As I got into my car, I couldn't help but notice she was still glaring angrily.  Wonder if she spotted the fact that I was traveling with a woman? 

I almost felt like rolling down the window and breaking into a rousing rendition of "Don't Worry, Be Happy,"  Bobby McFerrin's cute little song you may remember, from 1988:

In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy

And so on...3 more verses.

(For the rest of its lyrics, go to the source:

But I refrained, because 1) my wife was in the car with me, and more importantly 2) the lady would probably have called the police about this weird guy in girls' clothes, singing to her from a car in front of the medical office building.  Not a good scene, since my license plate would be in plain view of her (and the security cameras) as I drove away.  I'm not going there...

That's undoubtedly the most blatant example of the ultra-conservative Republican, strict "religious fundamentalist" side of the Delmarva I've experienced (but including anywhere, not limited to the Delmarva.)  Fortunately, I've escaped overt displays previously...and hopefully my luck will continue, this incident notwithstanding.  However, you can make book on the likelihood that I'll be the subject of a "fire and brimstone" church sermon, come Sunday.

To each, his/her own...

Following is a picture from the turn of the century (sounds so long ago, doesn't it?)  Yours truly, with a bit less feminine appearance (as I was growing out my hair), standing amongst the spectacularly beautiful rock formations in Monument Valley, Utah in 2001.   Can't you just picture the Marlboro Man riding off into the distance, smoking his Marlboro?  (Sorry, showing my age there...that cigarette commercial ended many, many years ago.)

Yes, we travel a lot.

More later,


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Something at last...

Posts have been quite scarce lately as there really hasn't been much new to talk about...until now.

Recently I had to make a visit to the emergency room, for some severe intestinal distress.  My wife came along, as we weren't sure if I would be able to drive, due to meds I might receive and the distance from home.  I was dressed in stirrup pants, women's tee, women's black trouser socks and ballet flats, with my purse (and of course my nails and long hair.)

Similar to my visit in November (post on 12/2 - The Past Couple Weeks), I was frequently "miss-identified."   This began with the triage nurse, who addressed me as "Ma'am" and gave me the women's instructions for providing urine samples.  It continued on into the exam room, where a couple of the nurses "miss-identified" me, and others simply followed suit.  At those moments, I was glad my wife was still out in the waiting room.  But I finally called her to come into the exam room and sit with me, due to the long delay.  Fortunately the nurse who addressed me as "Sir," did so with my wife sitting there...a small favor for sure! (Not sure how she'd have dealt with everyone addressing me as a woman.)

I left the ER with prescriptions in hand, and the good news is: several days later, I'm feeling much better.

But I really do wonder what the documents they reviewed actually list as my gender.   Or what would happen if I cane in with some "male" - as opposed to something common to both sexes - ailment?  I know the records at my Primary Care physician are correct...and the specialists as well.   Though even there, I'm occasionally "misgendered."  Mostly by newbie staff, I suspect.

A few days later,  I showed up at the office supply store as they opened, dressed in open-toe sandals, capris, a tee, with necklace, men's watch, my purse, and permanent accoutrements (long hair and nails.)  The manager greeted me as female, as did the clerks at the service desk.  And to cap it off, one of the clerks said "Have a nice day, Ma'am" as I left.

From there I went to the nursing home, where Mother was waiting for an aide to help her to the toilet. When the aide (a newbie) appeared, she told me I could stay in the room to wait if it was OK with Mom.  Which, of course, it was...

Eavesdropping, I overheard Mom tell the aide that "someone stole her bra."  Which probably wasn't how it actually happened...more than likely her name tag fell off and the bra became an orphan in the laundry system.   So the aide told me, as she should have.

I asked Mom if she knew her size, which of course, she didn't.  I asked the aide if she'd care to guess, to give me a starting point, since I haven't seen Mom standing up and out of a wheelchair in over 4 years.  "I'd guess somewhere around a (insert conventional bra size here)."  I thanked her and without even thinking about it, said "I have some bras at home" (and neglected to mention that they're Mom's), "so I'll find one that looks close to that size, and bring it in to try on.  If it doesn't fit, it'll help us narrow down her size, and I'll buy her a couple new ones.  If the band is just a bit too tight I'll add a band extender.   But this time around her name will be indelibly printed on it, not just a label."

The aide thought that would work, and being finished, she smiled and left.  About an hour later, as I was driving home, the thought hit me...I may have just outed myself!  What cis-male knows anything about bras, other than perhaps how to get one off a woman?  And the aide had no way to know that I have a suitcase full of Mom's underthings in the basement, from when her house was sold.  Of course,  maybe she simply thinks I'm female, by the way I was dressed, and willing to "share with my mother."  We'll see how she greets me the next time we meet.

Mother didn't seem too worried, though.  To her, I'll always be her little boy, no matter what I wear.
And I took the opportunity to point out that being known as a girl will make wearing a dress next Halloween (if it actually happens) seem all the more appropriate...

My last stop that day was the (new) nail salon, where I got a pedicure.  A male tech did my pedi, and he did not treat me any differently from the other girls, including offering his hand to help "madame" into and out of the chair.   (Which I graciously's a long step.)  I think I've established myself as female there...

For those of you who may have wondered what winter in the Rockies and Sierras look like from ground level instead of 35,000 ft,  here you this 2004 picture from my archives, notice that snow is halfway up the lower level windows on a Superliner - and in places it was "over" those windows.

Certainly a very spectacular I'll long remember! (Bet everyone out west wishes the snow pack in the mountains had been that deep each winter since then...)

Below is a picture of Ahwahnee Lodge in Yosemite National Park, also during the winter of 2004.  Everyone visits in the summertime, but winter gives you a much better view of the park "sans humans."   And wildlife is not hidden by the forest.

Not too many people sat at those outdoor tables in January of 2004...

That's all for now, folks!