Monday, December 31, 2018

A note about the season

To all my readers and followers:  Best Wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Happy Holidays...

To all of my readers (and commenters):  Best wishes for a Happy Holiday and a prosperous 2019!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Vera Bradley?

An interesting week...all having to do with purses and sales...

Early in the week, wifey was going to visit a Kohls on the mainland, and since I need another purse, she suggested I go along...  We looked through the large selection and I picked out a couple for closer scrutiny.  Then while I checked then out, she went shopping for herself, finding a few things of interest.   One of them should work well for me, and she decided it would be fine for me to carry,  so she bought that as well.

When I got it home and began to transfer everything I need for travel into it, I found that some extra internal pockets for things like loose change, camera parts, and so on would be necessary.  So, what to do?  Return the large purse because it needed some extra internal storage pockets?  And keep hunting for something better, which may not exist?  Since carrying this purse will only be necessary on trips, there had to be a better way.   Little did I know that a rescue was imminent.

Wifey has had her eye on sales at the Vera Bradley outlet in Rehoboth Beach, DE for quite some time, and finally a good enough offer came through.  It was for 60% off, with an additional 20% off of the remaining cost.  For name brand purses (and accessories, she told me), that's a great discount.  I drove her there, and she invited me to come in with her.  She pointed out the little zippered pouches.  She picked out a couple for me, in the least feminine patterns available (still fairly feminine, though) and as it turned out when we got home, they do the job perfectly, meaning I'll be able keep the purse from Kohls!

Couldn't have done it without her...and her approval of the purse and accessories....that's a good thing!   But a question comes to mind:  "does that make me a Kohls girl?  Or a Vera Bradley girl?"  LOL!

Of course, we never go anywhere without a bit of sightseeing.  We noticed what appeared to be a "stuffed and mounted" old aircraft at a closed "Midway Park" along the road to the Vera Bradley store.   Of course I couldn't resist grabbing a few pictures!

And in positioning myself for those pictures, I noticed another display, at the nearby mini-golf course:  A volcano.  Time for a selfie!

The volcano wasn't erupting, of course.  Both the golf course and other attractions were closed.  But they are definitely classic examples of tacky roadside attractions one may find on the main roads leading to tourist haunts - such as Rehoboth Beach.

It was a very good road trip!


Thursday, December 13, 2018

A bit of ferroequinology...

Since things have been so quiet around here, it's time to dig out some ferroequinology from the archives:

Above is Western Maryland Scenic Railroad's #734 Steam Engine simmnering in the bright moonlight at Cumberland, MD, after a night run to and from Frostburg.  Circa Summer 2015.

And following is a picture from the National Railway Historical Society's rail excursion out of Portland, OR on BNSF trackage.  The eastbound trip found former Spokane Portland and Seattle's #700 in the lead, with former Southern Pacific 4449 (the colorful engine) following.  Westbound back to Portland, the engines switched places, with 4449 in the lead.

It was a fun trip for everyone, and it ran more-or-less on time.   Too bad the current turmoil in Washington is taking it's toll on Amtrak, which is resulting in less service and fewer excursions like the above (notice the Amtrak diesel behind the steam engines.)


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Everything's everything...

Since returning from our visit down south and to the kids’ place in Tennessee, I’ve had my share of issues, which have kept my attention focused on things "other than wearing skirts."

Most importantly, I ended up with some kind of virus, which has finally cleared itself…well, almost - except for the remaining cough.  That may eventually require a visit to the doctor, where I will undoubtedly be prescribed antibiotics.   However, I’m avoiding doing so until absolutely necessary, because taking antibiotics will cause their customary trauma to my digestive system.   Hate that...and it happens every time.  I sometimes wonder if the “cure” is perhaps worse than the disease.  I’ve also had issues with my contact lenses, and some antique car problems have popped up.  Not to mention some discussions with the nursing home, over health concerns about Mom. 

But other than those non-routine issues, things are more-or-less normal.  Mandy remains "in storage," and it’s business as usual for my androgynous self.

I’ve been to various stores in several towns on the Delmarva, dressed in my usual stirrup pants, tops and flats (with my other feminine cues), and the magic has continued.   It’s wonderful to be treated as a woman so much of the time.  At a pharmacy in another town, I use my wife’s bonus card for purchases, and they address me by her name.   (In fairness, clerks do not know either of us, and are simply responding to the female name on the card.  Well...maybe...)

Recently I visited my dentist (who has all new staff in his front office), for my routine check-up.  The girls don't know me, and I was pleased to be addressed as female.   (Until the dentist came into the exam room - he knows me, and he addressed me as a guy, which is fine.)   Several times over the last 2 weeks, most recently two days ago, new staff members at Mom's nursing home addressed me as “Ma’am.”   And I’m fine with all that!  The androgynous “me” still seems to elicit a proper response. 

However, there was a noticeable "close call," which occurred when I was picking my wife up after her dental appointment later the same day as my own.   I had gone into the office just as she was being ushered to the front desk to set her next appointment.  As I opened my laptop and clicked on my calendar to check for conflicts, my wife showed the receptionist some pictures of our granddaughter at Disney World in FL, and pointed out that she was given a makeover and dressed as a princess for a day there.  After wifey finished her description of the lovely event, with the receptionist listening anxiously, she announced she had to use the restroom.   As wifey walked away, the receptionist asked me (with a smile):  "So did they dress you up as a princess, too?" (I should have been so lucky!)  Of course we both laughed and I said no - which was true...but we'll ignore my being called "princess" several times as I went thru security lines with the other women, because of my purse.  But I have to wonder whether my wife heard that conversation as she walked away.   All I can say for sure is that "nothing was said" in the car on the way home!

Having very few new things to discuss, and no “Mandy gets out of storage for a while” plans in the imminent future, there are no new photos to post.  So I’ll dig into the archives…

First, from August of 2014:

Before you ask, yes, I still have this outfit.  Last time I tried it on (over the summer) it still fit, though I haven't worn it in public at all during 2018.

Next is a shot of the androgynous "me" from November of 2016, taken on the west side of the bay.  Autumn colors had just popped out, and I couldn't resist:

And lastly, an unidentified shot of an airplane which most likely no longer exists.  This was taken back in the mid-1950's at Pittsburgh's airport, as my father was leaving town on a business trip.   Lockheed Constellations (allegedly the first pressurized airliners) were built from 1943 to 1958 at Burbank, CA.  They had a cruise speed of 340 mph at 22,600 ft, and a service ceiling of 24,000 ft.  The last domestic passenger flight in the lower 48 states was May 11, 1967 from  Philadelphia to Kansas City.  (Though freight use continued beyond that date.)

Long gone are the days of the stairs like shown below.  (But some of us remember them...LOL!)

There are a few Lockheed Constellations left.  One with which I'm familiar is the following:

This particular aircraft is reportedly C/N (construction number) 4557,  on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover AFB in Delaware.  It's painted to represent a USAF C-121-C, but was never actually delivered to - or served in - the Air Force.  The blue car you see at the end of the row in the left center is mine, on display as part of s car show at the museum, years ago.

Before you ask, not only do I like trains, but also airplanes!

Have a great weekend...


Saturday, December 1, 2018

All too soon, it was time to head north!

All too soon it was time to head for the next section of the trip, to the kids’ house in TN.   After loading the car, I checked out at the front desk…”Thanks for staying with us, Ma’am.  Have a nice day.”  My reply: “You too, hon!”   I’ll never know if she wondered about 2 women sleeping in the same bed…

This trip was rather uneventful…except for noticing a lot of tree damage along I-75 (presumably from Hurricane Michael.)

I was still dressed in stirrup pants, but now black tights instead of pantyhose, as the weather was cooler.   (And the ever-present danger of their many pets snagging delicate nylons with their claws!)  On several occasions when we were all out together, I was interpreted as female, but it was very casual and I don’t think the kids noticed.  Or if they did, nothing was said.

When we arrived at the kids’ house, we knew everyone.  So, the rest of the time, I was identified as male.

During our visit we went sightseeing in the Chattanooga area.   And had lunch at:

That’s right, the Mellow Mushroom.   It’s allegedly a chain, with an interesting title and a fascinating sign.  The food was tasty and reasonably priced, but service was a bit slow.   And afterward we took in some of the civil war battlefields in that historic area.   My presentation was such that I was seen as a male.  Amazing how that works one way in one area, and the opposite elsewhere.

On the way home, the evening motel clerk had no trouble identifying my male persona. But the morning clerk - and breakfast room staff - with me wearing the same outfit - all female.   Amazing how that can happen! 

Just off I-81 in Winchester, VA came this reminder that we're back in winter country:

Snowbanks from the several inch snow fall of 3 days previously.  Fortunately, the roads were clear - potholed but clear!  

And several hours later, our long but enjoyable visit was fully concluded, with us able to spend the first night in several weeks in our own home.   Traveling is fun...but now, home for a while.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

On to Plains, Georgia for some pure sightseeing!

All too soon, it was time to leave Florida and Disney behind, along with its oppressive heat/humidity, and drive north to cooler weather, as well as our son’s home, in TN.   Before you ask, my attire for this portion part of the trip was stirrup pants, pantyhose and a turtleneck blouse, with a sweater. 

Enroute, keeping with our tradition of sightseeing, we stopped off in Plains, Georgia to visit the home town of former US President Jimmy Carter and his family.   While we didn’t have much time to spend there, we were able to at least visit most of the historic sites:  campaign headquarters in the railroad station, his boyhood home, the church where he worshipped (and still does), the high school (which is a visitor center) and brother Billy’s garage.  It was a brief but fascinating glimpse into the man who rose from peanut farmer (and relative obscurity) to governor and then President of the United States.

When checking into our motel in a nearby town, at dinner, and while shopping at the big box store in nearby Americus, GA, we were treated as two ladies.  That’s the way it should be, even though I wasn't wearing a dress. 

It was unfortunate that we didn’t have time to attend the Maranatha Baptist Church the next day (Sunday) to hear Mr. Carter, who still makes appearances and teaches Sunday school at the church.  Due to the extremely early arrival (4:30 AM required for a 10AM service) in order to comply with security regulations, we chose not to attempt that.  However, it would have made for an interesting morning.   Maybe on another trip…

Downtown Plains, with railroad station foreground left, and business district on the right.  Very small!

Campaign headquarters downtown, from the park across the street.

 Campaign Slogan in train station.

Another display in the train station.

Side view of train station.

The Smiling Peanut

When we looked over the maps from the visitor center we saw references to "The Smiling Peanut."  Curious to see more about it, and expecting it to be a sleazy biker bar or something like that, we were both shocked to find this huge caricature.  A really good likeness of Jimmy's smile, don't you think?  And Jimmy and Rosalyn still live in town...obviously they are fine with it.   Whether you liked (or can't even remember) his politics from "away back in the day",  presentation of all this casts a fairly good light on the 39th President of the US and winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize (for his work to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts.)

More later…

Saturday, November 24, 2018

From the "If I hadn't been there I wouldn't have believed it" department:

Saturday (Today) was my day to get my much-needed  mani and pedi (which wifey knows I get,  and is OK with.)   I walked in, and my tech was finishing up a young girl, who was getting a manicure with beautiful turquoise polish.  So I sat down in the waiting area.  The young girl kept turning around to look my way for a double-take, then a triple-take, then a quad-take (as in “I can't tell whether you are a boy or a girl.”   You’ve been in that situation at some point - you get the picture.)  Each time I smiled at her, and she looked away.  Her mother was sitting near by, quite oblivious.

Soon her mani was finished.  The tech moved her to the drying table, and moved me to the just-vacated chair, putting the girl and I less than 5 ft apart..  The double-takes continued, and I sweetly told her she was welcome to come watch them do my mani.  She had no reaction…but the double-takes did slow down after that.    About 10 minutes later, my tech asked me to wash my hands.  And while I was doing that, the young girl moved back to the mani table for a quick application of glitter to the ring finger on each hand.

When I came back, the little girl looked up as I told her that her color was very pretty, and the glitter was a perfect addition.  And I commented that she had beautiful nails – it turned out that they were quite long, too.   Well, my comments broke her indecision…she decided that I was a girl, and thanked me…then asked what color I would be getting.  I told her that someday I’d like to try her color, but today I was going with a translucent light pink.   Then I complimented her nail length, and she confided that it was her 9th birthday present – “they’re acrylic so they’ll last a while.” 

We did the usual birthday talk, and by this time she was chattering to me like a magpie, now that she was comfortable with my being female.   Then we started talking about Disney.  She has been there twice, been made over twice, and is looking forward to going again next year.  At that point, her mom looked over to inquire: “Ma’am, is she bothering you?”   I assured her “Not at all, hon.”  “In fact, we’re having a nice chat about Disney World.”  Well, that got her mother to join in the discussion about Disney.  Then a customer who had just entered the salon heard us comparing our experiences, and she announced that her family just got back home from there. So now, the count is up to: 3 adult ladies (myself included) and a 9-year-old, all comparing Disney notes. 

The little girl's mom went so far as to assure me that in the future, whatever suitcase I put my dresses in (for the formal dinner at Cinderella’s Castle) should never be checked in an airliner or allowed to be moved by Disney personnel.  Hers went lost for several hours, almost causing a dinner crisis.  Which was averted by Disney locating the bag - it had been sent to  the wrong room.  This discussion went on for about 3 more minutes, till the tech finished my mani and started to move me to the pedi station, thus ending our confab.

As I left the room, both women said “see you next time, Ma’am.”  I replied “Looking forward to it, ladies, thanks"!

Wow…amazing, and I was wearing stirrup pants, turtleneck blouse, bare ankles, a women’s zip front hooded jacket, and flats.  Nothing girly like a dress.  I guess the fact that I was getting my nails done did the trick?   

It was my best nail salon visit in a long time...LOL!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

It's been a long dry spell...

My absence from blogging over the past month has been regrettable, but unavoidable…due to extensive travel down south, including a one-way trip on Auto Train, a stay at Disney World and an extended visit with our son.  It was a fabulous vacation...for which I can fully credit retirement.   There was absolutely no free and “unsupervised” time for posting…thus my absence.

For this trip, Mandy “officially” was left behind.  No dresses or skirts (well, except my house dress for bed), and no overtly feminine jewelry, such as necklaces or bracelets.   My purse turned out to “not” be big enough, thus I asked for, and received, official blessing to start a search for a bigger one “for traveling only,” with handles as well as a shoulder strap.  I pointed out that it will most likely appear more feminine, but she was OK with that, for traveling only.  On such short notice (2 days before our trip), my search was unsuccessful, but it continues upon our return, until I find just the right one, the girlier the better!

As for outfits, I had to be prepared for any weather, thus I started out (and took along) shorts, polos and Keds (for Florida) and capris/stirrup pants for our son’s place, with various pairs of flats.   As it turned out, shorts and polos were perfect in FL due to the 90+ degree heat (said to be unusually hot).  Capris turned out to be excess baggage, as the weather in TN dictated long pants with turtlenecks much of the time.  Neither wifey nor I wore any capris the entire trip.

At our motel the night before departure from the DC area, my wife and I were both “ladies” at various stores/restaurants, and the motel.  On departure day, I noticed that Auto Train staff in the station did not use gendered greetings for me, but on board, in the dining car, I heard “Sir” at the dinner table - we were seated with two men.   Maybe shorts and a polo were “masculine” enough?

Loading cars on the Auto Train  in Lorton, VA

The next morning, after hearing “Sir” in the diner at breakfast, we arrived in FL and our Disney adventure began in earnest. 

As we were driving from the Auto Train station to Disney World, I mentioned to wifey that maybe shorts outfits were the key to “not being seen as female.”  Her response, with raised eyebrows:  “Ummm…you need to listen a little closer, sweetie…to nearby folks who don’t know us, we’re generally two women.”  My response…with a surprised look:  “Oh?  What about the staff in the diner?  I heard them use Sir there.”  “They were talking to the guys seated across from us.  They didn’t use any greeting at all for you.” And then she changed the subject.   

With that exchange, I realized that perhaps Mandy wasn’t going to be left behind on this trip after all…

Here comes a monorail!

The Christmas Tree in the Square

Cinderella's Castle, symbol of  the Magic Kingdom, in daylight

Afternoon Parade in Magic Kingdom

Cinderella's Castle in Magic Kingdom at night 

More to follow!


Monday, October 15, 2018

Finally Heading home....

Yours truly, standing on a balcony at the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, VA on the last day of sightseeing.   During this visit, a number of the soldiers addressed my wife and I as "ladies."  I did not hear "Sir" - but there were a few instances of "non-gendered forms of address."  A very nice touch, considering that I was not in full Mandy form!

Displays and dioramas were fabulous, everything was marked and well-explained in the documentation.  If you ever get the chance to visit, be sure to do it!

We took the long way back home, going south toward Richmond to beat the DC traffic, subsequently heading east on a country road, then north on US 301, crossing the Potomac River on the 1.7 mile long Harry W Nice Bridge.   It's a narrow, antiquated 2-lane structure, and connects Newburg,
MD with Dahlgren, VA.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt participated in its 1938 groundbreaking.   And it is definitely not a "nice" bridge. One has to be extremely careful to not stray over the center line and hit oncoming traffic, or hit the side guardrails.   But we survived!  Good news is: its 4-lane replacement is being discussed!  A two-lane bridge with 4 lane highways leading up to it tends to be a classic bottleneck!

Immediately after descending the north side, I turned in to a rather uninviting gas station and followed a driveway back south, to investigate the following curiosity:

At first glance, it appears to be some sort of elaborate advertising gimmick.  Look again, more closely at the two center towers.  Notice that "wall" between them does not look the same as walls on either side.   That's because it was added quite some time after the "castle" was built...   And notice the real windows in some of the openings on the end towers with the blue roofs.  Very curious.

Upon investigation on-line, it became clear that this was built as the "grand entrance" to now-defunct "Aqua-Land Amusement Park."  The road (which no longer exists but can be imagined - look at the tree gap above the center wall)  passed between the two center towers and led into the park. 

Following is a description of the park (and surrounding areas) from the Sept. 10, 1996 Baltimore Sun:

Vacation-style communities are part of a greater architecture and development trend called "themeing," in which communities are engineered to create a more enchanting atmosphere than typical suburbs, he said.

This vision of fun and fantasy was exactly what the Conner brothers, Dennis and Delbert, were after when they began carving Aqua-Land and Cliffton from the rural coast in Newburg in 1960.
Flights with free champagne brought Washington and Baltimore visitors to an airstrip at Cliffton for 24 unreal hours. Tigers and bears prowled in a petting zoo, a giant Humpty-Dumpty welcomed visitors to the children's theme park, Storyville U.S.A., and guests traversed the grounds via mini-trains.

The Conners dreamed of creating a "Las Vegas of the East" and building thousands of homes at their Cliffton on Potomac community alongside it. If visitors bought lots and stayed for good, the Conner brothers gave them free kitchen utensils.

"One fed the other," said Dennis "Dennie" Conner, 72, who now lives in Palm City, a retirement community in South Florida. "We did fly-ins and boat-ins and crab feasts that helped the whole development. We did a lot of promoting."

But the disappointments started coming early. First, they lost a choice spot on the shoreline to a PEPCO power plant. Then, they were denied a permit to dig a moat around the property for Jungle-Land. And after it was built, the biggest setback of all: Maryland began phasing out slot machines in 1963.

The community's "reason for being" withered and Aqua-Land died. It was just a bit too far from Washington or Baltimore to attract summertime crowds, too cold in the winter to attract retirees and too isolated for families searching for suburban conveniences.  The Conners sold the property in 1972. A series of owners went bankrupt throughout the next two decades in efforts to develop the land. Now, the county owns roughly 100 lots and scores more are scattered among different owners.

The land is all but deserted. Where a campground now sits, one dirty pet peacock scratches in a cage surrounded by RVs. Muskrats skitter across what used to be an airstrip. Honeysuckle grows over a cracked park pavilion. And brittle reeds fill the meadows where sky divers performed tricks in Aqua-Land's heyday. A marina built by the Conners is still open, but it does only a fraction of the business they had hoped.

At Cliffton on the Potomac, the neighborhood seems largely forgotten. The community's welcome sign on the riverbank reads "CLIFFTO." Nobody bothered to replace the N when it fell into the river.

From a mapping program, you can see that the airstrip has crumbled.  Views of the river are overgrown, and campsites/homesites sit empty.  Some nearby motels (which looked like they might have been decent "back in the day") are now abandoned and crumbling.  Only the modified and repurposed park entrance remains, mute testimony to a dream.  A dream which glowed brightly for a short time, and then was abruptly extinguished.

A rather melancholy end to an otherwise fabulous trip.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

More sightseeing in the Washington, DC area

No visit to Washington DC is complete without a visit to Mt. Vernon.  The traffic was awful, but the sightseeing was wonderful.

Following is a picture of the greenhouse on the Mt.Vernon estate property.  It looks nice enough to live in!  Don't you just love the plantings and fabulous gardens?

We took some time to explore downtown Fredericksburg, VA on foot.  There were many fascinating shops and lots of seasonal (fall) decorations.  During our exploration, we came across an old-time soda fountain and pharmacy.  Fascinating.  The sign inside proclaims it to be the nation's oldest soda fountain!  And they still make their yunmy milkshakes the old fashioned way, with those old "tall" blenders.  If you look carefully, you can see them against the wall under the "G" in Goolrick's.

Below is one of the dioramas at the Marine Corps museum in Quantico, VA....depicting typical Marine activity in a scene from the war in Vietnam.  One person mused that the latticework in the overhead windows was meant to symbolize rope ladders used on the sides of ships to get Marines down to the water when going ashore.  Could be....I can imagine that scenario.

More to follow...


Thursday, October 11, 2018

This time, on the road in Virginia.

This lighthouse (Point Lookout) marks the entrance to the Potomac River at the southernmost tip of Maryland's western shore of Chesapeake Bay. It is reputed to be the most haunted lighthouse in the US and the most haunted area in Maryland.

Point Lookout itself was once the site of a civil war era hospital, a prisoner of war camp, a refugee camp for runaway and freed slaves, the site of shipwrecks, and a hotel that burned to the ground. And it is often visited by investigators looking for paranormal (ghostly) activity.

Good thing it was not open for visitations...and fortunately, we did not bring any apparitions home with us.

In the same area was an old Civil War fort, with (as we later discovered) a re-enactment in progress.  Once that was made clear (docents in Civil War uniforms carrying muskets while standing on the surrounding earthenworks were a fine hint), wifey headed back toward the car at full speed, while I headed deeper into the fort.    

Just in time for the "Ka-Boom."  

Smoke seen above is the result of firing the "One O'clock Cannon."  Yes, it was loud, and yes, wifey heard it - but she was far enough away that it wasn't an issue. 

Located along Sunken Road in Fredericksburg, VA (essentially the old version of US Route 1), the Innis house was used as a firing position by Confederate sharpshooters in the Civil War battle for control of the town.

It was a private residence until the 1970's when it was sold to the park, and the exterior (as well as parts of the interior) were restored to their 1862 appearance.

Needless to say, they uncovered some amazing things on the interior, when taking down the newer inside walls.  Those dark spots are holes from stray Union projectiles which passed through the house during the Civil War.

In the early 19th century a stone wall was built along this three block section of the heights at Fredericksburg.  And the road behind it was dug in a bit, thus the moniker "sunken road".) 

During the first Battle of Fredericksburg (December 13, 1862), the wall protected Confederate soldiers fortunate to crouch behind it. Behind the wall on the upper side, only around 300 Confederate soldiers were shot. 

By contrast, in front of the wall (on the downhill side), approximately 8,000 Union soldiers were hit. After the war, much of the wall was removed. A portion was rebuilt in the 1930's and in 2004.

So many simply amazing historic things to see...!



Sunday, October 7, 2018

Fun is where you find it...

The train my wife was riding home from her sister's place a while back, experienced significant delays in recent weeks.  Enduring that type of delay would undoubtedly cause her to miss the connection in DC, and make her return to Baltimore so late that we would have to deal with rush hour traffic - and rush hour at the Bay Bridge.  (Often not a good thing.)  I didn't want to drive in that mess, and neither did she.  We both wanted to be back home quickly...if at all possible.

Our plan to avoid this situation was for me to go to an intermediate station several mid-day hours from DC the day before, and have her get off the train "several stops early" the next morning.  This would let us hopefully get to, and across, the bridge before rush hour, even with a late train.  We agreed on a time by which we'd communicate by cell phone to confirm that I had arrived in town.   And that left me free for some errands and sightseeing.

Androgynous was my errand presentation the day of my recent excursion to pick up my wife at the top, gray shorts, pantyhose, flats and so on.  Makeup and lipstick but no other jewelry.   Dressed that way,, there were no instances of either "Sir" or "Ma'am."

Confusion can be a good thing!    After finishing my errands, I pulled on my red paisley skirt, and took off those in-car cornfield changes.  And off to the hinterlands...

First stop was Washington Monument State Park near Boonsboro, MD.    Located atop South Mountain, it's the first completed monument dedicated to the memory of George Washington.  A rugged stone tower, it was initially erected by the citizens of Boonsboro in 1827.

Interestingly,  it fell into disrepair , and was rebuilt at least twice, during its history - most recently by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936.  It is currently maintained by the Maryland Park Service.  Unfortunately the gate was locked and no entry into the tower was possible.  But it's still magnificent!

Lunch was quick and easy, at fast food...

Next stop was at a small, privately-owned cavern.  There, I was able to escape the 95 degree outdoor heat by going on a tour of the cavern, about 50 feet underground.  Nice and cool...with interesting formations and lots of dampness...the proprietor calculated that he was pumping out 100,000 gallons of water a day to keep it from flooding...and even so, one low passage was flooded.

From there, I headed to a hotel in Western Maryland to await wifey's arrival by train the next morning...    And needless to say, I wore an "everyday outfit."  Mandy went back into the suitcase!

Mandy's day out was mostly successful, with only one known instances of being "clocked."   And since I'll never see that party again, who cares?

Fun is where you find it!


Sunday, September 23, 2018

It's opposite of what you think, after the awful damage from Florence...

Several entries ago, I posted this picture of a street in Oxford, MD (taken days before Hurricane Florence came ashore) which had been inundated by local recent heavy rain: 

Hurricane Florence was expected to make a southern andfall, but little did everyone know that the hurricane would decide to almost completely miss our area on its trip inland.  The picture below was taken at the same corner, just shortly after the remains blew out to sea.

Now, I hear on the telly that a piece of Florence may have survived.  It could be circling around in the Atlantic Ocean and intensifying...and might even send some more rain into the Carolinas....definitely not needed!  Let's pray that those folks aren't dealt further rain issues!


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Nail issues...again

Remember from earlier this year, that I had issues with two nails on the same foot?   One discolored and another cracked from being bumped?  The good news is that the discolored one has resolved itself, but not so much the cracked one.

However, the cracked one broke again, and a significant piece of it came off in my hand.  I promptly trotted myself to the doctor,  who said there was no infection, and I could go to a podiatrist who would take off the broken third of the nail all the way down to the "root" (or perhaps the whole nail, the podiatrist's decision) and I can wait for it to "hopefully" grow back, perhaps smooth enough that it is even with the remaining two thirds of the nail.  Or he may decide to remove the whole nail in hopes that it will eventually grow back in one piece.  Or, a third option: just leave it and it eventually should grow back on its own, though perhaps somewhat lumpy and bumpy.

I inquired if there was a medical necessity for podiatrist intervention, or if perhaps continuing what I've done at the nail salon for the past year would be OK, as long as there is no infection.  That approach would maintain the appearance of an intact nail.  He was fine with the nail salon option, which may or may not result in a smooth natural nail underneath.  Since the nail may or may not grow out right, even with the podiatrist treating it, it's a gamble, and I decided go with the nail salon option.   My wife is OK with that, knowing I will be getting regular pedicures and wearing nail polish for some time to come.

So I trotted off to the nail salon.   And they took care of the issue...too bad insurance doesn't cover it!  But my wife is right: the thought of a missing nail (or part of one) just isn't very appetizing even if only for "a number of months." Especially if there is a satisfactory "cure."


Thursday, September 13, 2018

And Hurricane Florence hasn't even arrived yet...

This was taken Tuesday morning, in a small town on a tributary of Chesapeake Bay.  (No, NOT my town, and NOT my residence.)   In the first picture, you can see by the stop sign, that a road and yard are flooded.   This is the result of what my rain gauge says was about 3-1/2 inches of rain over the previous 3 nights.  (Note, the area is very close to sea level.  There are likely many areas prone to flooding like this.)


Following is someone's yard.  Really cute house...I hope it doesn't get flooded out during whatever they receive from Hurricane Florence.   

Interesting note, a building lot is for sale in the area, for a price in the mid-$80k range.  Any house I'd even consider building there would have to be on very tall stilts, which likely wouldn't be approved for a building permit...given the historic nature of the area.

More updates to follow...if the rain gets here, which recent forecasts show as less likely...

Saturday, September 8, 2018


Several weeks ago, I was waiting for my wife who was at the dentist in a distant town, and I needed to make a stop at the bank and pharmacy.  Dressed in capris, a women's polo top, pantyhose and flats, with my other "identifiers," in both places I was addressed as "Ma'am."  Neither clerk knew me.  So, that's always good to hear!  But a recent experience gets the "big award" for 2018.

Recently I visited a diagnostic center (where I am not known personally, but they have full access to my records) for some non-invasive testing which required two visits.   I wore my new bold pattern blouse pictured in previous posts, my 3" inseam white shorts, bare shaved legs, white slide sandals and most of my other traditional "identifiers."    For the day, I put on only light makeup, with lip balm instead of lipstick, and no earrings.  I was addressed by the receptionist who checked me in as "Ma'am."  And when done, she had me sit "over there" to wait my turn for the tech.

Though I wasn't seated closely enough to hear details, the girl who ushers people to exam rooms was talking with the receptionist.  I could make out a few words, such as "female," "she," "Ma'am," "first name" and so on.  I suspected I might have been the subject of that discussion, though couldn't hear enough to confirm it.    A few minutes later, the girl making the inquiry opened the door, and said "Step right this way, Mrs. Sherman."

You could have knocked me over with a feather.  There's "very little chance" they were unaware of my gender, with records in front of them when I checked in.  When I took my blouse off for the obligatory stethoscope check, the hair on my chest (significantly less than most males due to laser treatment years ago) hadn't been shaved in several weeks.  Oops...I forgot to do bad.  Yet that nurse, and the rest of the staff, addressed me as female.  

My interpretation of this:  they were being "politically correct."  Addressing someone wearing what appears to be a female outfit as "Sir," could (at the very least) sound incongruous to innocent bystanders (who were seated nearby, paying no attention to me, and may not have noticed anything unusual).  It might even lead to a PR issue.  What if I were a somewhat masculine woman and staff hadn't checked, guessing "M" incorrectly?   Most likely, genetic women dislike being mis-gendered, too!!   The safe course apparently was chosen:  "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, call it a duck."   And I'm fine with that.

For my second visit, I wore the same top, with different 3" inseam shorts, and my flats instead of sandals.  Same drill again - exclusively female forms of address.

Regardless of the reason, I could learn to like this - a lot!


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Hungry Heron...

I had a chance to stop by one of my favorite little inlets not far from the bay the other day.  When I got there, I noticed a pretty heron standing at attention in the water.  The bird looked hungry, and as I watched (from a close vantage point - closer than I figured it would let me get), a fish appeared and the heron had Sunday brunch.  (I got a couple of other pics, with the bird playing with its meal before swallowing the fish whole, but won't post them.)

Looking for brunch:


This is another picture of the new top I picked up for a song recently at the thrift shop. Since I was enroute to visit Mom, I couldn't wear a skirt.  But these white shorts with the 3" inseam often have the desired effect.  I stopped at the grocery store, and didn't arouse any suspicion, being addressed as "Ma'am" by the checkout clerk and the manager.

It's always a new adventure...


Monday, September 3, 2018

New blouse...

In life there are many fake things.  For instance, fake Rolex watches for a "mere fraction of the cost of the real ones", fake nails (yours truly has a set of those), fake money (to pay for that fake Rolex), and most recently, according to Washington, "fake news."  But there's one everybody has missed...

On my recent excursion into Pennsylvania on back roads, not far south of Harrisburg, I did a double take as I passed this sign, and went back for a second look.  Yes - it was a real road name sign, with a couple of houses down the street.  I'll never know the meaning of the name....whether it's a demonstration of someone's political philosophy, or maybe there's some other explanation.   But there WAS a real road under my wheels...and it wasn't fake, even if it was Fake Road!

Following is a picture of the new blouse I got for a song at a thrift shop, which still had the "new" tag.    I've worn it a couple times while the wife has been traveling,  mentioned it casually to her, and plan to just put it into circulation.  We'll see what happens from there...

This little outfit works very well...except for one minor problem: with my skirt:  as you can see below, whichever side my purse is carried on, the skirt tends to ride up more than it does with others.  Yet I love the has pockets!   Maybe a different purse would work better...but for now, maybe I'll wash it and put it away till I figure out how to fix that.   Or maybe I'll just decide to keep tugging the hem down...I see girls in short skirts doing that to the hems on their skirts quite often!

I like the overall appearance - especially with the feminine double V neckline on the blouse.

Or maybe it's time for a new purse instead???  I'll have to check the thrift shop for one of those...LOL!