Saturday, August 27, 2016

A quickie...

I'm now wearing flats much of the time, and without pantyhose.  This has turned out to be a very good thing.

A while back, I stubbed my left big toe on a chair.  And the toe nail cracked, off center...with the narrow strip on the right   Through several pedicures, I watched the crack try to "grow out."   I'm not sure how well it has gone, because I've noticed a sharp edge at the crack on the nail the past few weeks, which I kept trimming and filing to keep it from snagging on my pantyhose as I put them on.   Being without socks or stockings has been helpful lately.

Recently, it caught on my panties.  As I tried to trim it again, the sharp edge started to separate from the main part of the nail.  A short piece of the narrow nail strip came off in my hand.   It didn't hurt, but doesn't look good - goes 3/8 inch from the end of my nail in toward the nail bed.  (Needless to say, I won't be getting pedicures for a while.)  Eventually when my schedule settles down, I may have to visit a doctor eventually, to have it looked at and evaluated as to whether it will heal itself or medical intervention will be needed.

But I only have one pair of fisherman sandals which will keep my toes hidden (including the one with the band-aid.)  It's a good thing I now wear flats....without pantyhose.   So my wife suggested I clear my closet of open toe sandals for the season....which I did.  Geeze, there is a lot of room now!

At Mom's nursing home, there are tons of new residents. (Not sure if the old ones are dying off or changing to other facilities.)  Recently, I accompanied Mom to an event there.  It was much more crowded than the usual events, which was good.  A new male resident (at least one I don''t recall seeing before) had his wheelchair parked next to me by a new (likewise never before seen) female aide.  And I kept catching him looking my way, every time I had occasion to look in that direction.

I knew I wasn't having a wardrobe malfunction, but he kept checking out my legs and feet (I was wearing the same style of women's shorts and tops I always wear, but now with smooth legs, no pantyhose, and ballet flats.)   He was obviously confused.  Each time our gaze met, I smiled at him, and he looked away.   But by the end of the event, he apparently had settled down, either accepting the fact that he didn't know whether I am a guy or a gal, or figuring out he should ask someone who knows me.

Either way, it's OK.   I''ll respond to "Ma'am" or "Sir."

More later....


Sunday, August 21, 2016

A bit of Ferroequinology...

Many of us on the US East Coast are Pennsylvania Railroad is one of my two favorite railroads.  The first two pictures were taken in Altoona, PA.  I was visiting their Altoona Railfest back in October of 2001. Except for the NS unit in the left background of the first picture, these could have been taken back in the 50's, or any time up till things went south for the PRR. 

The E-units were beautifully restored by a private party in Philadelphia, and Railfest arranged the use of some commuter passenger equipment through Amtrak, along with restored private cars, for several runs each day around Horseshoe Curve,  through the tunnels,  around the loop near Gallitzin, and back around the Curve in the other direction.  It was a fun train ride...too bad those trips are no longer possible.

Following is a picture I took while in Europe back in 1981, from a tour bus.  My notes are incomplete, but it's a diesel powered mixed passenger train operation, and as I recall it was in Switzerland.  The architecture on the building in the background appears somewhat Alpine...and there is still snow on the mountains in the background.

Wish I knew where it was taken...oh well!

Now, for those of you wondering about the following, and how it fits into the realm of ferro-equinology.

It's called a Hovercraft, as "while in operation it hovers over the water."  When it was christened in 1969, SeaSpeed Hovercraft GH-2007 (Princess Anne) and its sister craft (the Princess Margaret) began to ply the English Channel between England and the Continent - fast and frequent.  And they were initially operated by British Rail, complete with the BR logo on their upright rear stabilizers!  (That's their link to ferroequinology.)

These wonderful machines, powered by gas turbine engines, could make the crossing at 65 knots and in under a half hour, reportedly with 78 crossings per day between them.  They were expanded size-wise in the 1970's, and could then carry in excess of 400 passengers and 50+ automobiles.  Unfortunately British Rail got out of the business early on, and the Channel Tunnel opened in 1994, dooming these unique machines, which were retired in 2000. 

As of January 2016, they are now in danger of being scrapped at a museum in the UK.  I hope at least one of them can be saved intact...

During my visit to the UK in 1981, I had the pleasure of making a one-way crossing  (or "flight" as they called it, since they ride on a cushion of air between the craft and the water) on the Princess Anne.  I took the two pictures above on my flight.

The sea that day was choppy, and the ride was very rough.   Before I left home, I had obtained some seasickness patches from the doctor, and wisely used one that day (as well as omitted breakfast.)  The combination of the two saved me from getting sea-sick.  Many folks had gone way beyond "turning green at the gills."  Barf Bags were in short supply.  I felt bad for the many folks who had a hearty breakfast before departure (including some on my tour), and then lost it all enroute.  A half hour can seem like an eternity when you're sea-sick.

But the overall experience was fabulous, and will live on in my memory my many rides behind various steam locomotives, and flights in the old Lockheed Super G Constellations.  Too bad it can't be re-created (on a smooth-water day!) 

Stay tuned...more later!


PS:  Sue Richmond: enjoy!  Did you ever get to try riding the Hovercraft?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Surprise at the big-box store....

A flashback to a few weeks ago, when I was waiting to pick up my wife, as she arrived back in Baltimore from the visit to her sister's house in mid-America,  I stopped in at a nearby big-box store (no, NOT Target) for a few things.  And when I first arrived, a restroom visit was in order.

I was dressed in typical androgynous mode - white shorts, bright blue tee top, and feminine white sandals - all from the women's department.  Picture of sandals below.   I was carrying my purse, and of course I had all my normal feminine cues, including my long hair and nails, with light pink toe nails.   The unisex toilet option was not available as the door was locked - presumably occupied.  So I used the men's room, which was empty upon my arrival.   So far, so good.

As I washed my hands, a man entered, apparently noticed me standing at the sink (with my purse toward the door, plainly visible) and reversed course long enough to re-check that he had indeed entered the men's room.  As he re-entered, he announced "Ma'am, you do know you're in the men's room?" And he headed for the urinals.

Feeling just a bit feisty, I replied back, in my normal voice "Yes, but thank you so much for pointing that out."  And as I had finished drying my hands, I exited, leaving him standing at the urinal, probably not "aiming well" because he was staring intently at me, and obviously not quite sure what had just happened.  Wonder if he drenched himself?   We'll never know...

After finishing my shopping, before checking out and heading out to the next stop, I stopped at the snack bar for lunch, and decided to wash my hands before eating, since with burgers, a knife and fork generally aren't provided.  Once again, I tried the unisex toilet door - still locked, occupied - or maybe at this point, out of order.   So I ducked into the men's room again and went straight to the sink.    Deja vu - in walked a man, fortunately not the same one as a half hour earlier.   He said almost the same thing as the man did earlier, and it resulted in almost the same response from me as I walked out, also leaving him staring at me as I disappeared around the corner...    

The lunch counter cashier, "free-sample clerk", check-out clerk, and the "checker" at the door  (all under-40 females) universally used "Ma'am" in our interactions.

This is a diametrically opposite response from the one I noticed on my recent weekend journey into the hinterlands of rural northern Maryland and the rural southeastern tier of Pennsylvania.  There, only a few folks vocally acknowledged my femininity - and I clearly was wearing a feminine outfit - skirt and blouse, sandals, with full makeup and jewelry, including earrings.

In the more urban areas, (wearing a much more androgynous outfit with no makeup, and only a necklace for jewelry), being addressed as female is more frequent...and very affirming.    The only thing I can attribute this to is the more liberal mind-set held by residents of the more-urban areas.   Of course, there may be other causes.  But possessing a fully-feminine appearance does not seem to be one of the deciding factors...

I picked up my wife mid-afternoon at the commuter rail station, and we headed home, luckily skirting a couple of traffic slow-downs (we know back roads) enroute to the bridge (which fortunately was un-congested.)   And with no more stops, there were no more chances for "miss-identifications."

Next known chance for the real "Mandy" to jump out of her suitcase: the end of August...I'm looking forward to that!

More later!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Hells Half Acre and Hungry Mother...

My wife was so right regarding shaving my legs daily, and going bare-legged all the time.

I now shave my legs each morning, whether they need it or not, and haven't worn pantyhose since before the trip.  Now, whenever I'm wearing my ballet flats,  it's "put them on and go."  Just like the girls.  I've gotten used to bare legs - and find that I prefer it.  She obviously likes them that way...and has me in flats more often than before.  Best of all, when we're out together and I'm in flats, occasionally she'll rub one of my bare legs and I hear "Smooth legs, hon."  So why not?   Such a simple thing is a win-win situation.

Anyone been to Hell? (Michigan, that is...)   Many folks have heard about this one, and the picture proves that occasionally in the winter, those well-renowned fires go out for a little while...

According to Wikipedia, this unusually-graphic town name has two theories of origin. The first is that a pair of German travelers stepped out of a stagecoach one sunny afternoon in the 1830s, and one said to the other, "So schön hell!" (translated as, "So beautifully bright!") Their comments were overheard by some locals and the name stuck. Soon after Michigan gained statehood, George Reeves was asked what he thought the town he helped settle should be called and replied, "I don't care, you can name it Hell for all I care." The name became official on October 13, 1841.   The second theory is tied to the "hell-like" conditions encountered by early explorers including mosquitoes, thick forest cover, and extensive wetlands.

So when was the last time that someone told you they lived in "Hell's Half Acres?"  I hear that occasionally out here on the Delmarva.   And as this picture proves, it may be right  - particularly for residents of this street.  I noticed this unusual street name a couple years ago. just outside a small town near Easton, MD! 

Unfortunately, I'm not sure where the name came from...or why the misspelling!

And lastly, located near Marion, VA you can visit:

It's a beautiful little park with a sandy beach, situated between some Virginia hills and behind a small dam...wish it were closer to where we live.  Where did its unusual name originate?

Legend has it that when Native Americans destroyed several settlements on the New River south of the park, Molly Marley and her small child were among the survivors taken to the raiders’ camp north of the park. They eventually escaped, wandering through the wilderness, surviving by eating berries. Molly finally collapsed, and her child wandered down a creek. Upon finding help, the only words the child could utter were "Hungry Mother." When the search party arrived at the foot of the mountain where Molly had collapsed, they found the child's mother dead. Today, that mountain is Molly’s Knob (3,270 feet), and the stream is Hungry Mother Creek.

More adventures later...


Monday, August 8, 2016


While on our recent trip to our son's place, one of the hotels had plenty of interesting natural wonders.  The flowers were outstanding...and as you can see, there were also some monster butterflies.  This could make you want to stay there forever...simply lovely!

For our entire trip, I stayed as gender-neutral as possible.  My wife wanted me to look more like her "husband" than her "wife."   Following is one of several typical shorts outfits - all women's clothes - that I wore.  Feminine, but with more than a little hint of ambiguity.    And though she insisted I take a pair of stirrup leggings along "in case for some reason you need to dress up a bit", they never came out of the suitcase.   My ballet flats were a different story, though.  I wore them everywhere, and only had sandals on for a couple of days.

The first time I wore my flats, I started putting on my pantyhose and heard:   "No, you're not wearing's too hot.  No girl would wear them unless they were going to some kind of formal event.  And you aren't."   I protested a little, and she said "keep those legs nice and smooth - they look their best bare...even if that means you need to shave them every morning.  You'll eventually get used to wearing your shoes without stockings unless you're going somewhere fancy."  

Since it wasn't worth an argument, I went along with her suggestion.  While it felt a bit strange,  I really didn't mind it.  That evening she asked how I liked wearing my shoes barefooted.  I told her it was OK.  She said she thought I'd eventually learn to love it.   And she''s probably right.

I've dressed as above countless times at home, both with and without makeup.  Back at home, more frequently than not (probably 60 - 70 percent of the time)  I've been addressed as female in those situations where folks don't know me.    However, on our trip, which included a different (and longer) route for some light sightseeing through WV, KY and IN, that definitely wasn't the case.   At motels, restaurants, and local attractions, it was much more common for me to be addressed as "Sir."

Why would that be so?  I don't look or feel any different than any other day.  My suspicion is that the difference could be religious beliefs in the heartland, in which folks adhere much more tightly to the traditional gender "binary" than the folks back east.  And yes, surprisingly even more so than on the Delmarva.  (Perhaps things are evolving for the better in my own backyard?)

In any case, this is just one person's observation, based on experiences at one point in time.   It may or may not be representative in other places or at other times....but it was very interesting.

More later,


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

More Unusual Town Names...

Following a newfound habit of spotting towns with unusual names, some were noted from a recent trip to our son's place in Tennessee.  Our route took us to southern Indiana and then on to TN.  Enroute, a couple of names found their way into my camera's memory card...

No, it isn't an antacid

The following info came from the town's website:

On what was once a large farm, Gassaway,  WV,  the “little city built upon a West Virginia Hill”, was incorporated in 1905.  The town was named in honor of the former United States Senator and one time vice-presidential candidate, Henry Gassaway Davis,

The town grew quickly due to the newly formed Coal & Coke Railroad.  Located in the center of the state, Gassaway was midway between the two terminal points of Elkins and Charleston. Gassaway housed the railroad’s shops which employed many of the town folk.  Known as the travelers place to stop, the Gassaway Hotel was a favorite.   A once booming railroad town with a depot, two hotels, a bank, schools, churches, shops, armory, and hospital, Gassaway is still a town rich in tradition and history.

Disclaimer: as of the 2010 Census, population was listed as 908...and sadly, we didn't actually leave the interstate to drive through town.

Once we headed south, we came across the town of Santa Claus, IN.  This is one which both my wife and I recall hearing about previously.  And here we were, with a chance to visit.  How could we pass up that opportunity?

From Wikipedia:  The town was established in 1854 and known as Santa Fe (pronounced "fee"). In 1856, when the town was working to establish a post office, the United States Postal Service refused their first application as there was already a Santa Fe established with the USPS. Several town meetings were held, during which the name Santa Claus was selected.   It has the world's only post office to bear the name of Santa Claus. Because of this popular name, the post office receives thousands of letters to Santa from all over the world each year.

With residential and civic development, including a holiday-themed amusement park (open all year)  the size of the town has been increasing, from about 931 in 1980 to about 2479 in 2015.

When driving on trips out of your area, you never know what you'll find...

Stay tuned,


Monday, August 1, 2016


In my post about the Ma and Pa, I mentioned an incident about a person my wife and I know, who "may" have been present at my hotel, and who "may" have seen - or recognized - Mandy on her weekend out.   Subsequent events seemingly have provided a perfect response, should it ever be needed.

A person who is a part of a group we all (my wife and I, as well as the party at the motel) belong to, sent some documents for me to review recently.  In them, I was identified as being present and commenting g at a certain event in the past.  But at the time of that event, we were actually at another event, and it can be proven.  I notified him of the error and he will have me removed from those records.  But he truly thought he remembered me speaking there..and would have sworn on a stack of bibles that I was present.  His comment was "You must have been there at least in spirit...this is spooky."

Those events brought to mind an incident at work about 10-12 years ago, about which I had forgotten.

I worked for a company with offices near a commuter rail station (very convenient for many, but not necessary for me.)   I drove into work early one morning, from our house 12 miles south of there.  Meanwhile, one of our employees and her hubby boarded an early train at the station near their house, about 30 miles north of the office.  When she got off the train and into the office, she was surprised to see me there already...and wearing pants and a top.  She told me that both she and her hubby had seen me (wearing a stylish dress and killer heels) board their train two cars back from them, about an hour previously.  But they both walked through the train and couldn't find me on board.  Though her hubby stayed on the train all the way to the end of the line, after she deboarded at our station, she waited on the platform till it left for me to get off.   "I" never a dress and heels, or otherwise!

I showed her my car in the parking lot, with its "only warm" engine proving I had been there for a while, and offered to let her look through it for any women's clothes, which she declined to do.  (As one of the religious types, I guess she didn't want to risk knowing for sure, in case I really did wear dresses.  Little did she know.)   

And she never did figure out who, or what, they saw boarding the train...since it obviously wasn't me.  (And it truly wasn't.)  A woman who looks vaguely like me at a distance?  (I had long hair even that far back.)  A spirit?  Where did it come from?  Where did it go?  Why?  Coincidental?  Mystical?  Supernatural?  That was never solved, and we'll never know the answers.

So this wasn't the first time....but from the looks of things, undoubtedly won't be the last!  And in this particular case, given my attire at the motel, it could provide some great cover, since at least two of the parties know each other and can corroborate it... 

But I agree...the whole concept (well, other than the actual incident on Mandy's weekend) really is spooky!!

More later...