Thursday, July 28, 2016

The "Ma and Pa..."

This is the second and final installment about my "Mandy weekend."

Because of traffic issues on the Bay Bridge, I stayed overnight in the area rather than drive home and  back the next day.  At my motel, there were a couple of groups being hosted.   Sunday morning,  I went down for breakfast, dressed as in the picture below.  The place was very crowded...and there were a lot of folks sitting/standing around talking.  I scanned the folks in the lobby as I walked through.

Nobody was paying any attention to me, but I noticed a man sitting with a woman and looking the other way, who bore more than a passing resemblance to a friend of ours from Ohio.  We were about 450 miles (more or less) from his house to where we were staying.  They seemed to be talking with others in the group, as if they were acquainted.  The woman did not bear any resemblance to his SO, so it probably wasn't "who it looked like", but I got breakfast and disappeared in a hurry, just in case.   He happened by coincidentally just in time to see me check out, and drive away.  He didn't appear to pay any attention to me...and with no kids himself,  I really wouldn't think his interests are in in group travel with kids...   We'll see the couple over the holidays or in January, so if it was "who he resembled," either the topic may come up then...or he'll have forgotten about it, which is more likely.   Maybe I should be concerned, but I'm not.

Have you heard of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad?  Back in the day, it connected Baltimore MD with York PA, over a curving and tortuous 77 mile route.  Since 1992 the  MD and PA Railroad Preservation Society has owned the village of Muddy Creek Forks, which contains many original buildings including the old general store.  The hamlet now is  center stage for all the Society's railroad equipment.

 Mandy at Muddy Creek Forks

Begun as narrow gauge, and with numerous rail companies formed after 1867,  it took until 1889 for through train service to finally begin on this rail line.  The Maryland & Pennsylvania itself was established in 1901 by the merger of the Baltimore & Lehigh Railway with the York Southern, and conversion to standard gauge.  It hauled furniture from Red Lion, slate from Delta, and milk from local farms, along with countless rural residents to their jobs in the city.  This was despite the fact that its "fast" passenger trains took four hours to travel those 77 miles.  Today, via I-83, you can drive the 53 road miles in a bit under an hour if traffic is light.  Is it any wonder the railroad didn't survive?

Loss of a US Mail contract doomed passenger service.  The last passenger train was discontinued in 1954.  The Maryland division from Whiteford south was abandoned in 1958, but the Pennsylvania portion survived into the 1980's.   At that time, the preservation society stepped in to preserve a piece of this little  railroad.  Hence the Muddy Creek Forks historic site, with 3.6 miles of original trackage, exists today.  (Though only a portion of it is operable.)

The "Train."

And a fun little railroad it is...while an original Ma & Pa diesel (#82) has been returned to the property, there is also some other old equipment.  Train rides are provided on track equipment (motorcars joined together into a little train.)  All the better to get a good look at this old, historic property.

 The sharp curves and deep cuts on the property...

Can you imagine regular locomotives with modern equipment traversing these deep cuts and sharp "S" curves?   It would be a great railroad for a dedicated model railroader to create in miniature!

My visit there was much the same as at the other railroad...while no gender-specific greetings were used, all the proper 'assistances' that a gentleman would give a lady were provided...including on two occasions, a male crew member offering his hand as I got on and off the equipment.  Nobody stared my way.  I'll never know if I was "clocked."   It simply doesn't matter.   I had a wonderful visit...and a fabulous weekend.

Now, Mandy goes back into her suitcase...

More adventures later!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Just a quickie today...

A quickie, with no pictures...sorry!

During my wife's absence, my cousin and her hubby came to visit for a couple days.  I was dressed in shorts and a women's tee top, with my ballet flats.  Nothing was said about my outfit, and I took them out for a seafood dinner (what else do you have on the Delmarva?)  Waitstaff didn't use any gender-specific forms of address for any of us.  That was surprising, as they both are very definitely identifiable as their birth gender.  Me, not so much...

We had lunch with mom at the nursing home on their second was fairly uneventful.  She sort-of remembers them, but just barely,  even though they visited her last time they were in town, a year ago.  I was wearing my typical shorts and top outfit, and one of the staffers who doesn't see me often commented "Wow, nice legs hon."  Not sure of two things: whether my cousin heard her comment, or whether it was truly a compliment.  But I'll be optimistic and presume that the answers are "No" to the first, and "Yes" to the second...

More later...


Wednesday, July 20, 2016


With my wife recently visiting her sister who lives in mid-America, Mandy was finally able to step out of the suitcase,  to play with trains...real ones...for a while.  

One Saturday, my destination was the Walkersville Southern, a small, but very nice little tourist line operating over former Pennsylvania Railroad rails, between end-of-track at Route 26 north of Frederick to Walkersville, over the washed out (in Hurricane Agnes - 1972) - and repaired by the State in 1996, Monocacy River Bridge.  Before abandonment, the PRR used to go all the way into Frederick to service local industries and interchange with the B&O.  This included some street running.  But that service is long gone, although the rails remain visible in places.  Development has seriously encroached, Route 26 is too busy for the State to put the grade crossing back, and the industries, like the PRR, are long gone.  

The WS has several small diesels (as in GE 44 tonners and the like) plus a few smaller "critters." And a small group of former Long Island Railroad passenger coaches reside there, plus two open air flatcars with roofs in case of rain.  But there are no resident steam engines.

Being early, I had a chance to walk around and check out the equipment before train time.  And even had a chance to do a selfie by one of them.  They tell me that the rusty car way behind me was a former "subscription" car, where you paid your regular fare, plus a subscription fee to ride in it.  And if you didn't "know someone" who was "a subscriber" you didn't get to buy a subscription.  Interesting.  I don't think that practice has survived the passage of time...   It's being restored, so someday it may be possible to step back in time and ride it again.

By the way, don't look closely at the journal box on the middle axle beside me in the picture.  It's a bit askew, obviously due to a small derailment.  Guess they'll have to fix that before they use it again...

When I bought my ticket, the late teen male ticket clerk didn't use any gender-specific greeting for me.  Interesting...did he clock me?   I sat there waiting for train time, contemplating that as other women bought tickets.   But - surprise...he didn't address any of them as "Ma'am," or for that matter, by any female terms.  The even more interesting thing was that he didn't use "Sir" to address the men.  I wonder if that's the way of the future?  Don't greet people as the gender they appear to be, that way you can't ever guess wrong.   There's a certain strange allure to that line of thought...

While on board one of the two open air cars, (it was far too hot to sit in the open-window, un-air conditioned coaches and not long before boarding, my car's thermometer read a toasty 100 degrees),  folks had to pass by me in order to get to a bench seat.  (Coincidence, or intentional?  You KNOW that answer!)  The patrons were of all ages...seniors, middle age, teens and the 6 to 12 age group.  As people passed by, I watched to see if they paid any attention to this heavyset girl in a skirt, blouse and sandals, who was wearing sunglasses (don't you just love sunglasses?)   

And the correct answer was...nobody paid me any mind.  I heard "excuse me" numerous times, with "Ma'am" added a few times by the older folks. but nobody did any obvious double-takes or lengthy stares at me.   Everyone was too excited about their train ride to worry about anyone else's issues.  Even the kids...   

It was a nice little excursion.   But afterwards, it was time to move on...

Mandy likes to visit places with unusual names...remember my visit to Accident, MD - from a previous post?  After leaving Walkersville, I did some rural exploring.   Yes, Virginia, there really is a place named Detour, Maryland.  

It was relatively easy to find, as Detour Road pointed me in the right direction.   But I was having trouble finding the next town - with another unusual name.  After driving around for fifteen minutes, I finally had to stop (in Detour) at the only open store on a Saturday...a general store.    The two ladies there not only addressed me as female, they gave me directions to Ladiesburg.   Don't you just love the name?

According to the following blog  (,  the official local story has it that the first eight residents of the town included seven women and only one man. Hence, Ladiesburg!  There used to be a railroad station, general store and Post Office.  All are empty or gone now, leaving just a random group of houses.   I wonder how many gentlemen live in Ladiesburg?

Since both of these little villages have been around for a long while, they should have been on my GPS.  But they weren't!   Too small, I guess.  And there's not much left except the novelty of the names, to attract visitors.  In Ladiesburg, there's not even a store to buy a bottle of pop...(soft drink, soda pop or Diet Coke, whatever you call it in your locale!)  How times have changed...

Yours truly in Ladiesburg...

Perhaps one day soon, I'll visit Secretary, or maybe Crapo.

A little-known factoid...this day was the longest I've ever worn clip earrings...from 9 AM to about 7 PM.  Lets just say that pierced earrings would have been a whole lot more comfortable.  But that's not likely to happen any time soon!

Stay tuned for more...


Saturday, July 16, 2016

That would be some picnic...

...with a stuffed picnic basket this big!  Can you imagine the number of girls we could feed?

My wife and I were traveling in Ohio a few years back (like 2012), and came across this roadside attraction in Newark, Ohio...a huge office building in the shape of a seven-story-high wicker basket.  It was the headquarters for a company many of you may recognize - Longaberger Baskets.   You'll go a long time before you find something quite this unique...well, except maybe the car...a 1990 Buick Reatta. 

What a Longaberger basket!

Unfortunately, it was the weekend and we were unable to get inside.  But it really is a one-of-a-kind attraction, quite visible from the state road through Newark.  Bet they get a lot of "nosey visitors!"

 Segue to the present:

Since I'm wearing sandals most of the time now, it was imperative that I get a pedicure.  That way I can show off my toes without being embarrassed.

I went back to the new salon, and was treated usual.  When they seated me in the pedi chair, I was the only one there.  But in rather short order, three other women appeared.  The first one who arrived, was seated right next to me.  We began doing girl talk immediately.  Lots of topics...from shaving our legs to our health, and everything in between.  It was fun!  I could talk forever with a seat-mate who conversed that  well!

The other two ladies came in a bit later.  They were not as talkative.  But none of them seemingly thought I was anything but what I appeared to be...a woman in shorts and a blouse, getting her toes pampered and painted.   It was so affirming to be referred to as "she" when she talked to the other ladies...I could really like this to happen all the time!

Since I was wearing sandals which kept all my toes away from touching leather, the tech put them on me and then added the toe separators before painting my nails.  Because my sandals were already on, once she finished the painting, she gave them a few minutes to dry while I sat at the pedi chair, and then she sent me on my way without any time under the drying table.  That worked well.  I'll have to try wearing them again next time.

My wife is visiting her sister in mid-America, thus I will take this time to tear apart Mother's stored clothes (and mine) to find a pair of pants for Mom, and check all my skirt outfits to be sure everything fits.  Keep your fingers crossed...



Monday, July 11, 2016

A new adventure...

Recently it was time to get my driver's license renewed.   What a wonderful chance to try androgyny in an official governmental setting!

When I arrived at the DMV (in another town some distance away - we don't rate one where I live), it was well before opening.  I'd arranged to be there early, so I'd be at the front of the line.  Three local residents were ahead of me, but that was close enough to the front to keep me happy.  As it turned out, I was the first in line for driver's license renewal.  Yay!  And as the crowd grew larger, we were talking back-and-forth about all sorts of things.  My appearance didn't seem to bother any of them.  Of course, the age group represented was all late teens to early 40's.  (No older folks in the lot...well, except for me, but my makeup disguised a multitude of little appearance flaws.) 

And I'm pleased to say that my attire (below is the outfit I wore, complete with a purse, and all my usual permanent feminine cues, plus makeup and lipstick, but no earrings (I don't have pierced ears and/or small button type earrings), made a good presentation,  girly but good for the occasion.  (Sorry, the picture's color is a bit washed out.)   I kept fussing with my hair during the wait, to keep it as noticeably feminine as possible.

After reading some of the stories on-line about transgenders or crossdressers in other states who went to their local DMV,  and had problems because they looked "different from their gender-of-record",  I was more than a little bit apprehensive.   And, I didn't want to end up having totally wasted the morning if problems developed because of my attire.  Thus, I made sure I put a bag with a less-feminine outfit (women's shorts and a polo and fisherman sandals with closed toes), and a pack of makeup remover sheets, in the trunk of the car.   Just in case.  But as long as my face resembled my real appearance, I suspect I could have worn a dress...because nothing except possibly the collar, would be revealed in the facial picture.

I chose to use my regular voice during the disguising that today.

And the good news is: I had no problems whatsoever.   When addressed by the clerk, who had my old license with the "M" on it, and my records on the screen in front of him, he used "Sir" and "Mr." appropriately, in spite of my feminine cues and outfit.   What I wore (or looked like) was a complete non-issue, for which I was very thankful.  He had no concern whatsoever that I looked somewhat different from what the gender listed on my license might indicate. (Though my every-day appearance is just like I was presenting.)  This was a fabulous turn of events.

Had it been necessary for me to go back out to the car, retrieve my alternate outfit and retire to the restroom for a change and clean-up, that exercise would have put me at the end of the line for service (about 30 more folks had come in behind me at that point), and instead of being out the door with a new license in hand in about 20 minutes, I could conceivably been there two or three hours...   I'm so grateful that didn't happen.

The fun part is - afterward, I went to a big box store to check for a couple of items, and a grocery store to pick up some breakfast cereal on sale there.  In both cases, the female clerks addressed me as "Ma'am."   And when I visited Mom that morning, she didn't notice that I was wearing makeup...

Those incidents all came together to "make my day"...

More later,


Friday, July 8, 2016

Harvest Time

A quickie today...

Harvest time on the autumn leaves nor cold winds blowing.  (We could use a few of those right now....)  This is a telephoto view of one of our many farm fields

From what I've been told, this is a grain and straw harvest.  The grain is grown, it turns brown and a harvester cuts the plants and lops off the grain.  What remains is the stem of each plant, i.e. straw, low in nutritional value but useful around the farm in the barn, and in other areas such as landscaping.  A baler makes the cut straw into neat bales for transport and storage.

Prior to moving here, I thought harvests occur in the fall.  Not always!

Delmarva Harvest in July.

More later,


Monday, July 4, 2016

Post-Vacation Update

Having survived a 2 week plus vacation with the kids and grandbaby at their place in TN, my nails had grown out.  It was time for a fill.

The nail tech at my new salon had tried a different gel color for them last time. one thin coat of a very light pink, which in practice turned out to put a light-colored sheen on my nails.   This was a little noticeable, but nothing was said by my wife.   This time around, the tech made the single coat a bit thicker.  Now the light color is more noticeable.  I like it, and still nothing has been said, which is good. 

A picture of my new finger nail color...

And she made sure to "not" shorten my nails...she believed they were too short last time, and thinks they need to be still longer.   Plus, she thinks I should wear with a pretty hot pink color for summer.  (not the first time I've heard that.)  She and the other techs have tried to convince me to just "do it."   But since the salon is in my town, the best I can do is promise them that one of these days I'll let them paint my nails whatever color they want, as long as I can remove it with polish remover.   They're OK with that,  for now...

Below is an outfit like what I wear often during the summer.   It's feminine, and quite cool in warm weather.   And now that warm weather is here to stay a while,  my closed shoes are packed away and I'm back in sandals again.  Guess I need to get my toes done to match my fingers...    I wore this outfit to visit Mom in the nursing home (where the picture was taken) and she really liked it...that's a good thing!

I visited a nearby MAC makeup store, to buy some makeup for a scar on my arm from having a mole removed earlier this year.   The scar is bright pink, and about 3/4" in diameter.   Results were much better than from my visit to the makeup store in TN.  And I had not one, but two techs.  Both stayed with me the entire a pro, one a trainee.  I will actually be applying several different shades of makeup to my arm - blending them with a brush, then applying finishing powder.  Not cheap.  Not time-efficient.  But then, the scar is probably permanent, so knowing how to cover it when I need to is essential.

I was dressed in typical androgynous style, and definitely found myself treated as a woman for my entire visit, about a half hour.  It was fun.  They even took time to recite a list of all of the things this makeup regimen can be used to cover, which among other things, includes bruises and "love bites!"  Hmmm...   I truly doubt they'd have confessed those two little facts to anyone but another woman...

Then I visited the eye doctor again, this time to get eye exam paperwork filled out for a driver license renewal.  (I hate the machines at the DMV and would rather have my doctor fill out a form.)   Surprisingly (actually shockingly) one of the assistants at the eye doctor's office  (whom I have known for several annual exams) began to address me as "Ms." I didn't correct her.  Perhaps I should have, because when the female eye doctor entered the room, she referred to me "Mr." and I heard "his" mentioned twice in front of the tech.  But then, for some reason, she began to just use my given name.  (Maybe she saw the light?) 

I complimented the doctor on her beautiful red nails...which is all it took to initiate a several minute discussion among the three of us, about why she switched from pink, and I received compliments on my nails from both of them.   Plus a discussion of my long hair, and then lastly,  "Why on earth haven't you started wearing color on those pretty nails?"  "Yes, your hands would look wonderful if the next time you come in, you have beautiful red nails like mine."

I think they suspect something...

More later...


Friday, July 1, 2016

On Vacation Part 2

One of our activities during our vacation was ferroequinology-related...we visited the "stuffed and mounted" steam engine in Nashville's Centennial Park.  My outfit is typical of what I wore daily on the trip.  Everything is from the women's department.  

The steam engine was Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway J3 class #576,  built by American Locomotive Co. in 1942 and retired Sept. 2, 1952.  It accumulated 725,000 miles in freight and passenger service.  This class of J3 locomotives could handle a 15 car passenger train or a 50 car freight train in the mountains.  It is a 4-8-4 (not called a "Northern", instead a "Dixie" and because of the yellow along the belt line, nicknamed "Yellow Jacket"), and was designed by NC Superintendent of Machinery Clarence M. Darden.  Upon retirement it was donated to the City of Nashville and has been on display ever since.

Plans are to lease the engine from Nashville, and move it to the Tennessee Central Railway Museum on the Nashville and Eastern Railroad.  Once funds are raised to restore it, and the restoration is complete, the J3 will pull excursions over the 108 mile N&E, using 14 passenger cars in the museum's collection.

On the way home, we stopped at the same motel as on the way a different clerk, and I was identified as male, complete with the dreaded "S" word...some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you.   And once again, we were addressed as "Ladies" at the nearby restaurant.  Not every southerner is intolerant...though it was "geezers night" and apparently some of them fit the mold.  A party of old folks nearby kept checking me out.  Oh, is what it is.   Other than smiling at them occasionally, I chose to do nothing else.

On the (fortunately) few occasions I needed a potty enroute, I used the men's room, including at highway rest stops, since I didn't see any family restrooms.  There were no issues.  Though on numerous occasions, incoming men saw my long hair, stopped, and checked the sign to be sure they hadn't wandered into the women's room by mistake.  I'm used to that...

I only noted one occasion where an elderly (looked-to-be-70-something) male's eyes locked "unwaveringly" on me as we approached each other.  As we passed, I noticed him turning around to get a "side view" of me.  About 15 steps later I stopped, turned around, and he was stopped - had turned around and was still staring at me.  Of course when I turned around to look, he whirled forward and finally started tottering away.   Wonder what was going through his head?  I'll never know...but I bet his gray matter was sparking and short-circuiting!  (No, I didn't do or say anything....didn't want to be the cause of him suffering a heart attack or stroke on-the-spot!)

My take-away from this trip is that certain gender-ambiguous outfits can enhance my chances of being seen as a male, but with enough "permanent cues" such as hair, nails, purse, shaved legs, and so on, there is still sufficient femininity to cause indecision in people's minds.  Even in the "old south",  where some folks seem to be brave enough to ignore those feminine cues and risk offending a genetic woman who is a bit on the masculine side (thus doesn't fully conform to their narrow binary gender views),  I'm not seen as a guy 100 percent of the time - maybe 40-60 percent.

I can hardly wait for Mandy to be set free for a few days...July is now here, and mid-month is well on the way!

I'll leave you with a sunset picture from our son's side yard...a few clouds can sure make a humdrum sunset sing with colors!   Enjoy...