Monday, May 29, 2017


And a safe and happy Memorial Day to each of my readers, with particular thanks to all who have served in the US Military...


Another journey...part 1.

Recently my wife and I drove my antique car to upper Michigan, to meet with friends and do some touring.   We had a fabulous time...

It was tough to decide what clothes to take.   Weather forecasts were "all over the place."   We both took sweaters and heavier coats, plus umbrellas and water resistant coats.  No shorts or sandals.  Both had a good supply of capris and long pants (she chose jeans and mine were stirrup pants.)  With all the extra things we took, it was good that the antique has a huge trunk!

There were a lot of sights to see, which were on our direct route to we did a little extra sightseeing.  First stop was in Huron, Ohio to see the lighthouse.   The original one was replaced with a more modern style, and automated.  It gave us a chance to stretch our legs, walk the breakwater part way and get as close as possible.

Not too far away was Marblehead (OH) - a traditional lighthouse.  I had been to town years before, but never got to the light.

And once in Michigan, we made it as far north as St. Ignace, on the Upper Peninsula.  Driving across the Big Mac (Mackinac) bridge to get there was an adventure.  But since we're used to driving the similar Chesapeake Bay Bridge, it wasn't a huge challenge.  The toll was a lot higher than the bridge back home, however.  And yes, the water was much deeper blue than I recall noting on any of my other travels to other places.  Hence the nickname for the area:  Bluewater Michigan.

On the way back to our hub hotel, we stopped at the lighthouse in Mackinaw City:

Notice the bridge behind it, and on the right side...

For those who wondered, with the exception of 2 days in the upper 70's or low 80's, the rest of the time the mercury (how's that for an old-time phrase?) was in the 60's during the day (or lower) and 40's at night.  In mid May, the trees were still budding, the forsythia was still in its springtime yellow dress, and the spring flowers were blooming.  The morning we left, the National Weather Service said the temperature was 33 degrees.  If you're from Michigan, you're used to it, but we aren't, and weren't.  I guess northerners are comfortable with two seasons - July 4th and Winter.   It gets cold enough in Maryland for us....but we really do have 4 distinct seasons most of the time!

For those who wondered, my outfits for most of the trip looked reminiscent of this:

I only wore capris two days - the warm ones. Local women wore them more often than I did.  But it was too chilly for me, even with my pantyhose!

In several places, we found signage alluding to the existence of the 45th Parallel, which is half way between the equator and the North Pole.  This is not something we had actively contemplated...though we both knew of its existence.  And following is the first explanatory signage we've seen with regard to it...wherever we traveled.

When you're out and about, you never know what you're going to find!

That's all for now.   Stay tuned for part 2!



Friday, May 26, 2017

Quickie: long-lasting lipstick

When on my recent train trip, I decided to use my longer-lasting Maybelline 14 hour lipstick all the time, since my outfits prevented me from projecting a male image.   This was the first time I'd worn it for such long periods of time, and unfortunately it didn't last anywhere near 14 hours.  

I'd apply it in the morning, and by "after lunch" there wasn't much color left.   And I noticed lipstick stains on water glasses at meals (which I didn't mind, but they shouldn't have been there.)   So I found myself applying it in the morning, then re-applying after lunch (a couple of times using a mirror from my purse, while still at the lunch table - that was fun), and again before dinner.   Unfortunately, it's not a good performance record, especially for "14 hour lipstick."

Do any of the "long lasting lipstick" products actually last longer  than 3 or 4 hours?   And do any of my readers use them?  If so, which ones work best?  I'd appreciate any ideas you may have...I want to be prepared in case a future opportunity to wear it arises!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

More "De-constuction" along US-50

Once again, the wheels of progress have turned.   I can''t say whether it's a good - or bad - thing.

As I returned from my recent adventure, I noticed the former mom and pop motel near the US 50 and US 301 split - lately containing an antiquities shop in its former restaurant and lounge - being demolished.   The old motel rooms were already removed from the site. We had not known that it was in danger of disappearing, but just like the other motel demolition project, reported on in December of 2014, everything happened quickly.

Taken last week.  All that was left is the main building.  And you can see the yellow shovel removing  the back of it.

Taken this week.   The site is clear.

All that's left is a small pile of rubble, yet to be removed.

And now, the reason for its demise...another convenience store!

Likely this land use enhancement is good for the county's (and state's) taxes, but it's just a mile (or less) further west is the site of the other new convenience store...  How many of them are really necessary?   Obviously one more was needed, and it's likely the company paid a lot more than a pittance to entice the owners to sell the property.    That's the price of progress...

BTW, the antique business formerly in the old restaurant, relocated to Delaware, which has no sales tax.  One employer lost for Maryland, one gained.   Fair trade?  Your guess is as good as mine...


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trip Miscellany:

There were a few pictures which might be of interest from my extravaganza...

First, from Santa Monica'a beach and the boardwalk...temperatures in the 70's brought out the kids of all ages!

Following is interesting architecture and mural on the boardwalk at Venice Beach:

View of the Santa Monica Pier from the Palisades:

And Mandy walked the whole was quite a hike.

On her trip, Mandy sampled two different styles of sleeping car accommodations.  Here is a picture of the larger of the two, a family bedroom, with space for 2 kids and 2 adults.   There is a window on each side of the car, which is great for sightseeing.   Definitely lots of room for one adult!  And the seats on Mandy's side of the car can remain in place and usable, while the bed is down on the camera side of the car.  That works well for those waking moments in the middle of the night!

Mandy at a stop enroute...

It definitely was a wonderful adventure, and one which will never be forgotten.



Sunday, May 7, 2017

On The Road Again - Day 14 and Thoughts.

When I awoke on the morning of day 14, the train was nearing Chicago.

I shaved, cleaned up and dressed in my capris and a turtleneck as the weather was forecasted to be cold there.   One of the female servers (the one who had the discussion the previous day about guys wearing capris) hadn’t worked my table yet…so today was her first time.   And I was wearing a capri outfit (like she was discussing yesterday morning.)   She seated me at a table with a guy I had lunched with previously.   Then she seated a 30something guy and a 70something woman there with us.   What to expect – good treatment, or a nasty comment about guys in capris and lipstick?  However, I needn’t have had any concerns.  She handled everything "right out of the textbook.She took our orders “ladies first,” and I was the first lady.  (Does that signify she thought I looked OLD!?  LOL!)   Then she addressed me as “Ma’am” for the rest of the meal.  Did I "pass?"  Or was she being politically correct?  I'll never know.  But in either case, how very affirming and pleasant!

Lunch was served early, and I was seated with 3 other women traveling alone.  Everyone was friendly, and for some reason by then I felt much more comfortable in the company of women, than men.   But all too soon it was time to go back to the sleeper and prepare for an on-time arrival in Chicago.

During the layover, I knew my "nose needed powdered" so I sought out the family restroom, which the Chicago Metropolitan Lounge so conveniently provided.  And as things turned out, I could have worn a skirt on to "my wife's train" - the car attendant was young and not a regular on that route. And I didn't know any of the other passengers in the sleeper.  But you never know...

Once on "my wife's train,"  dinner was uneventful, two men and one other woman at my table.  Very nice...even dressed as I was, they presumed me to be "female."    And for breakfast the next morning, same thing.  By now it had become very routine.  And I love it...

The very last leg of the trip was a ride on the commuter train, to BWI Airport and my car.  I boarded and took two seats - one for me and one for my baggage (these commuter railcars didn't have luggage racks, but serve an airport, so what do they expect?  There were lots of us like that on the train, and at least it wasn't rush hour.)

So, who came in and sat across from me but people from my old line of work, who were part of an organization I dealt with on occasion.    This is a dreaded circumstance in which wearing a skirt and/or having red nails would have presented me with a dilemma.   I probably would have just "shut up and said nothing" to them if they didn't recognize me.  But if they did...the skirt would have been rather hard to explain (except if it were Halloween.)

I'm not sure if they presumed "girl" or "boy" when I started chatting with them across the aisle, but I guess I'll find out in due time if the man ever responds to the email he asked me to send.   If it begins "Dear Ms. Sherman:" I'll know what they thought.  (Remember, my given name has been surrendered to the girls - that may also play a part in it.)

My "hindsight" thoughts...on this wonderful experience:

This was a superb trip.  Nearly two weeks in skirts and being accepted as a woman 99% of the time, makes it hard to revert back to my normal style of dressing…even though that is not at all masculine.  So, if ever presented with another circumstance like this, what would I do differently, or try to change?

1.  For a trip of this length, a "different" spare girly outfit would have been desirable.  I didn’t wear my spare white skort with the blue floral blouse, to limit laundry complications after the trip.  And in any event, since the skirt on the skort is only on the front, and the back looks like shorts, it may not have been feminine enough.   After multiple compliments about my long red paisley skirt, it seems like more time in long skirts would have been appropriate.  Perhaps if (or when) there is a next time,  I'll pair my 3 long skirts and one knee length denim skirt, with women’s polos and tees – the ones which are part of my normal wardrobe, to ease laundry issues back home.   But I would also take an overtly feminine blouse (like the blue floral one) in case of special events.

2.   I contemplated having my newly-filled nails painted bright red before catching the train on departure day, to provide almost 2 weeks of an extra feminine cue.   But I hesitated for several reasons, not the least of which was “what happens if this turns into a disaster and I have to present as male?” 
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Completely removing regular polish from filled acrylic nails “neatly” and without tell-tale remains around the edges is not easy without professional help…and gel colors have to be removed by a nail tech.  Plus, guys don’t often wear red-polished nails.  (But without male clothes, presenting as a guy would be tough, anyway.)    Thus, hesitation was definitely the wrong long as I planned some time to get the color removed in  Chicago.     Other than stirrup pants which I wore on departure day, capris for any colder weather and returning home (and a pair of shorts for emergencies), skirts were the ideal bottoms for traveling.  I wish I could wear them more often.

3.  I was concerned about my voice becoming an issue.   Given the circumstance of complete anonymity (I’ll likely never see any of these folks again),  my voice was accepted as part of me.  Hoarseness from a slight cough gave me some perceived cover (for anyone who thought about it.  But apparently nobody did.)  I simply couldn’t maintain the softer tones I use, without my voice cracking after a few sentences.   I’m just a girl with a deep voice – until and unless I get some voice coaching.  That probably won't happen...

4.  Makeup application:  I had my complete makeup kit with me in the suitcase.   But I only used it once.  The rest of the time I used concealer, foundation, powder, and 12 hour lip color (note: it doesn’t last 12 hours), all of which I carry in my purse.  No eyeliner, eye shadow, blush and so on.  On the train, and especially while sightseeing, I wore more makeup than the other girls.  Most weren't even wearing lipstick.  I seemingly can’t escape wearing at least SOME makeup, to keep my beard shadow under control.    But “less is more.”  

If I ever transition, I’ll cross the “makeup” bridge for dressy occasions when I come to it.

5.  Shoes:   Flats worked just fine, and I wore them all the time.   Sandals weren’t comfy enough to wear all day, every day, and aren’t permitted (outside of sleeper accommodations) on trains.   Too much metal, too many pinch points down low.  High heels on the train would have been downright hazardous to remaining upright, probably resulting in falling into some poor passenger's lap.  (And, they're not much less dangerous on the cracked sidewalks of city streets.)    I need to find something comfortable with a 1 or 1-1/2” heel, and sling or closed back, for dressier days and evenings.  In retrospect, I should have taken my clogs. They at least have heels, and even without back straps to hold them on, I noticed several girls wearing them on the train.   Next time!

6.  Earrings:  My ears aren't pierced, so I have no choice but to wear clip earrings.   And I wore them almost constantly, until I got home.  (Yes, my ears ached quite a bit.   Long live aspirin.  And I moved the clips around a bit - which helped.)   On this vacation, one of my cute little pearl earrings disappeared at the Santa Monica Pier, and I didn't notice it was gone until it was too late.  :-(   But I had the foresight to bring another pair, much more dangly and sparkly.  So I started to wear these instead:

I like them - their movement can definitely be felt with every movement of my head.  If one drops off (only happened once), that should be noticed right away.   Plus, during this two-week travel period, my ears seemed to adjust quite a bit to pressure from the clips.   After all, until about 10 years ago Mom wore clip earrings all day, every day, and managed to reach 93 years of age without pierced ears...   I simply can't foresee getting mine pierced, at least in the near future.   But I "never say never."

Naturally,  I'm wondering when (or even IF) I’ll be able to try a "vacation" like this again…from looking at our calendars, it definitely won’t be this year!   And if long distance Amtrak trains end up being de-funded by the new administration…there will never be a repeat!    So I'm thankful I took the opportunity when it presented itself.   (And from the weather reports I see, it appears my timing was excellent....)

That’s all for now…


PS:  When I got home, I accidentally arrived wearing both my necklace and bracelet.   I've always wear the necklace, but it's a first for the bracelet.  Nothing was said.  One more envelope pushed successfully! (And I wore it every day the next week as well, with no comment.  Yay!)  I'm just glad I remembered to take off the earrings!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

On the Road Again - Days 12 & 13

It was once again up early, because it was time to start the trek home.  In a skirt and top today, of course.  And it was with mixed emotions, because even after such a wonderful trip, it was time to get home to my wife and my familiar surroundings.

I had breakfast in the steamboat’s dining room again…delicious as usual, but with a different female server.  I was not identified as a woman, nor were any male or female greetings/.comments made.  She just did her job.    That's ok with me.

Below is a picture of the outfit I wore to begin my trip home, taken on the steamboat's balcony, just off the dining room.   At that hour of the morning, there wasn't much activity, even though the staterooms were sold out.  Yes, the free full breakfast was delicious!

Afterward, I stepped ashore, to get some pictures of the steamboat in the morning light.  A Sacramento Sunrise!!

My cab to the station arrived on time, and I got there quickly.   No gender-specific greetings.  I think the driver might have been a Grinch-in-training.  Nothing was said, but it's just a feeling I got.  Oh well...his problem, not mine.  I'll never see him again. 

At the station, while I was waiting for a Redcap, two separate large groups of inbound kids on school tours arrived, going to various city sites.   They sat (and stood) all around me.   I was expecting issues or comments, but none of them gave me so much as a second glance.  Apparently they were more interested in their friends and their tour than the TG woman in their midst.

I'm just glad I wasn't in the girls' room when 25 young girls crowded in, all at!

When the Redcap finally arrived, he interpreted me as female, and spoke accordingly as we piled into the jitney (a seven-person golf cart with a big trunk platform.)  Lots of others were in the jitney, and we exchanged names and car numbers.   This was apparently going to be another friendly traveling group.

Since my train was going to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains later in the day, a bunch of us agreed to get together in the lounge car after lunch, to watch the scenery from there.   And since the guys all sat together, the women all gathered where I was seated.  We had a good time talking and looking around, and took lots of pictures of of the scenery that the Sierras are famous for.   Such as:

Yes, there was snow...just not as much as I had expected.   In places I'd estimate 2 to 3 feet, much less in others.  Mostly toward the tops of the hills.  The conductor said that warm weather the past couple weeks caused the demise of most of last winter's record snowfall.

One of the women in our group sat beside me, in a seat for 2.  As in, shoulder-to-shoulder.  She noticed my camera, grabbed it and took a couple of pictures of me.    She liked this one best, describing it as a cute picture of a cute girl!

Dinnertime came, and I went to the dining car, where tables of four are filled completely.   The staff seated me at an empty table, which was fine.  And then a twentysomething woman and her sister (a mommy with  a 2-1/2 year old boy) came in.   They were seated with me, which was OK – I’m just one of the girls anyway.    We chatted, cooed over Dean (the baby), and had a good time, even though Dean was in his "terrible twos".   When they finished and left the diner, they said to the baby “lets’ all say good night to the nice lady.”  The little boy was a cutie.  Don ‘t you just love it…even youngsters weren’t having trouble with my presentation!

Our beds were made up when we got back from dinner…so it was time to retire for the evening.

The next morning, I went to breakfast early.  The staff seated me at a table, and I waited for some others to join me.  It turned out I was the only girl at a table with three men this time.   And one of them recognized that I’m a girl…he even referred to me as “she” several times in conversation during the meal.   And before long, the others were, too.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  This is how I was dressed for the morning:

Before the waitstaff assigned any one else to my table, I overheard bits and pieces of a discussion between staff members (one 30something girl and two 20something guys.)   The discussion seemed to be about one of the guys who admitted to owning a pair of capri pants (complete with the little ties on each leg's hem slits.)  As near as I could tell (my back was to them) the guy confessed to having them, but not wearing them much.   The girl thought they were too girly for guys.    Then business got brisk in the diner,  and the capris discussion tapered off.

I haven’t worn capris (so far) on this trip.   Thus, I most likely wasn’t the direct cause of their discussion.  My plan was to wear capris for the last part of this leg as well as in Chicago, so I’m not wearing skirts at Union Station or on “my wife’s train.”

Two passengers on this train had already complimented my long skirt, which was very pleasant and much appreciated.   But after my meal, one of the older female train employees stopped me as I walked through the diner on the way to the lounge car.   “Honey, I really want that skirt.”  I laughed and responded with  “Thanks, sweetie.”   “Really - you look so cute in it  - as you sashay down the aisle, it flows so smoothly around you.  You look pretty, and I love both the colors and your outfit.”     Wow!   Me - sashaying?  Really?   I haven’t been consciously trying.   My femininity must be oozing through.

I told her where I got it.  She confessed to buying at thrift shops too.   Then she went into why she likes the longer style, to disguise her legs which she thinks aren’t flattering, and is why she only wears skirts no shorter than her knees.  I told her that my thighs are heavier than I’d want to show off to the world, which is why I like the longer skirts, but will also wear them knee length.   “Well honey, longer is in style now, so buy yourself several like that and wear them every day.”  My response was:  “I think I need some retail therapy, sweetie!   But I’d love to have and wear lots of them.”

We went through Azure Canyon afterwards, and the scenery is majestic:

Dinner was quite uneventful.   There were only two of us at the table, and the guy (in his 70’s) wasn’t at all talkative.  In addition, he was (or pretended to be) hard of hearing. And the male server referred to us as “guys.”   In spite of my earrings, engagement ring, makeup and lipstick, long hair, skirt, pantyhose, flats and purse.   So that was quite a letdown after the past few exciting days.   But hey, it is what it is…too many fun things happened, to let this little incident be a "downer."   Perhaps he automatically refers to everyone as "guys."  That has happened when my wife and I were out together, and we obviously aren't "two guys."   (Hmmm, not even one guy....LOL!)

To bed early: tomorrow Chicago, and a switch to “my wife’s train” for “coming down the home stretch.”   



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

On The Road Again - days 10 & 11

Monday morning found me back on the train again, and in a skirt, of course.  This was my outfit...but without the sandals. I didn't wear them at all.

The day started with me being seated at a table of women for breakfast in the diner.   No problem…the staff is generally nice like that, I enjoy being seated with women, as well as being included in their discussions.  There was no indication or evidence that any of them interpreted me as “a man in a dress” – even with my poorly-disguised voice.   I did have a slight cough and some raspiness, and that would have helped had anyone commented,  (but they didn’t.)   Yes, it’s a real pleasure to be included.

I took lunch in the Pacific Parlour car, a specially-outfitted (translation - luxurious) sightseer lounge car, for sleeping car passengers only.  Very nice, even if I ended up alone.  Most of the others ate in the diner.   But I didn't like the Parlour's dinner menu, so I took my evening meal with 3 other women in the diner.  Then I scooted into the luxurious seats in the Pacific Parlour car to watch the sun set.

Arrival in Sacramento was very close to on time, but at a late hour (just after midnight.)  And by the time I got settled into the hotel (a floating historic restored river steamboat) and ready for bed, it was 1:30 AM (which was 4:30 AM Eastern time.)   It took 3 alarm clocks to get me moving at 7 AM (10AM Eastern.)  No wonder my bags are so full!

After getting dressed in my long skirt outfit, I went for breakfast and was given the last table for 2 in the dining room, with a river view.   Right after they brought my orange juice, a woman gingerly approached my table and asked if the other seat was occupied.   Of course I said no, and she thanked me and sat down.

We’ll call her “Ms. M.”  By her accent (and self-admission) she identified herself as from England.  She was very interesting to talk with, having spent the last six months on a sabbatical from her employment, traveling all over the far east (translation: Cambodia, Vietnam, and so on.) 

Her trip was drawing to a close, and she had a ticket to ride the same train number to Chicago as I will be, but her departure is a day earlier.  (From there she goes to Maine, then Boston, then England.)   I kept asking her questions and she kept on talking, so I didn’t have to. 

I told her that I’m not sure I’d have been able to do what she just did (getting myself a seat at someone’s table), and she said that traveling gives you that ability.   "You’re drawn to friendly-looking women who speak English, and you don’t let them get away!"    OOOoooKKKkkkk.

We had a great time chatting, and there was no indication that she thought I was anything but a woman.  We wished each other well as we parted ways.  I hope she has a good trip home, but I’ll never know for sure – nor will she about me.  I did not pursue exchanging addresses.  For obvious reasons, I don’t need the problems that could generate on the home front.   But I made sure that my wife knows Ms. M sought the seat at my table.  

During my short stay, I visited the California State Railroad Museum, just a block and a half from my hotel, and took in the very authentic “Old Town.”    If it weren’t for modern vehicles and paved roads,  the area could pass for a frontier town.

Mandy at California State Railroad Museum - long live mirrors when you're alone!  Without them, it's hard to find a safe place to balance a camera, so the self timer can work!

Old Town, Sacramento

That night, I once again ate in the dining room at my hotel.  And further…guess which table (and which chair at that table) the waitstaff gave me?  Yes, I missed chatting with Ms. M.  Dinner was tasty, and then came time to pack for the trip home, which started next morning.

More to follow.