Monday, July 23, 2018

Some fun around town...

More local fun...

I was leaving the nursing home where Mom stays, and a car pulled up on the driveway next to me.  I didn't pay any attention to it, but as I continued to walk toward my car, I heard "Ma'am?  Excuse me, Ma'am?"  So I looked around and the elderly male driver had lowered his passenger window to talk to me.  (Good thing I answer to male OR female forms of address.)   He had several questions about where he should park, since he had handicap plates and there are two entry doors.  I helped orient him, and he ended with "Thank you Ma'am."

Those occurrences are always so pleasant!

My next stop was at a liquor store, where I was in search of a particular adult beverage to give as a wedding anniversary gift.  To the male clerks, I was female, the entire visit.  Unfortunately, they weren't able to help.  Guess I'll have to stop at a bigger store across the bay bridge...

Since the weather was spectacular, and I was in the mood for a picture while wearing my new heels, on the way home I made a detour and visited the re-purposed former PRR train depot in Easton.  I walked on the rail trail for a bit, then got out the camera. 

My new shoes are a bit snug, but I think they'll loosen up over they're a keeper.  And not hard to walk in with the low heel.  Because the heel is not pointy (stilletto), they're very stable.  Less chance of tripping or twisting an ankle. That's a big plus!  They didn't cost a fortune, but I hope they work over the long run.  There's nothing I'd like better than to be able to wear heels while dressed, no matter what the outfit!


Monday, July 16, 2018

No-Pic Quickie about a fun morning...

I walked in for a visit with Mom the other day, and found that she was in the nursing home's activity room, just sitting there like a bump on a log while most of the 10 residents present were participating in periodic exercise activities (suitable for elderly folks in wheelchairs who have mobility issues.)  After making my presence known to Mom and sitting down between her and a lady friend of hers, I joined right in with the exercises.   After a period of lethargy, Mom finally started to take part (gingerly at best, but at least making an effort.)  Much to the staff's surprise, of course.  And mine as well!  That's a bit of an encouraging sign...

When exercises were over, coffee was handed out.   And while she was enjoying that, a lady who formerly had a relative there came back to visit her old friends.  She even brought her granddaughter along - two years old, pushing a small baby carriage, with her baby doll (which was as big as she was) in the seat.  An adorable little girl...and everyone was talking to her.  She was the hit of the day!

The interesting part was that she responded quite well to me...I was surprised.   Nothing was said, (and the staff mostly knows my gender despite my appearance) but did the little girl think I was a girl too?  Perhaps because of my shorts, pantyhose, tee blouse, white sneakers, my nails, long hair, bracelet and necklace?  We carried on a nice conversation in 2-year-old-speak.  Might have something to do with the practice I've had conversing with my 2-1/2 year old granddaughter...LOL!  But all too soon, it was time for her to go...and I started to miss my own little granddaughter.

Fortunately, D-I-L called that evening to see if my wife and I could skype, because granddaughter wanted to talk to us.  Great timing!  And a pleasant way to end a fun day.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A few observations...

We had a wonderful time on our recent adventure.  That goes without saying.  But I noticed three issues, which stand out.

One, there were a number of occasions where I heard the dreaded S-word.  That was expected, of course.   There was very little femininity in my appearance, due to the circumstance of this trip.  You can see that in the picture below.   No makeup, no jewelry - just purse, long hair, acrylic nails, women's tunics or polo tops, women's shorts and sunglasses.   Given the conservative nature of the state, that may have been a good thing.  (However, we all know from Kim's blog that she has no problems with traveling "pretty" from a nearby town.) 

Two, the issue of the previously-mentioned panhandler(s).  What made me stand out against a backdrop of genetic women?  Doubtful I look as feminine as they do, since quite a few were in skirts.  So why did the panhandler use feminine forms of address for me, while "ignoring" my wife?  (Not that she wanted their attention, but...)

Very curious...

And lastly, I've noted a significant shift in my wife's summer attire since the weather began to warm up: from shorts to skorts.  She looked (looks) very doubt about that.  It's just the current fashion, right?  Or is it?  Hmmm.

I have a couple of solo trips on the drawing board.  One short, and not so feminine.  One long, and fully femme.   Hopefully they will come together, and I'll have more interesting things to write about!   Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading...


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Interesting quickie...

Since returning home from our trip, I've been in androgynous mode.   But there are always some interesting occurrences at times like that.

For instance, on the first relatively cool day after the heat wave broke (temporarily), I put my daily walking into high gear, to try to keep from gaining any weight.  I stopped at a city park in a nearby town as I was passing through, to do a quick mile-and-a-half of walking on their gravel "oval walking track." 

I was wearing tan shorts and a red tunic, my black clogs with bare legs, and carried only my phone and car key.  No makeup, no earrings, just my necklace and bracelet.  I was not the only walker.  There were a couple of other women out walking, too.  In the infield, a couple of local soccer teams (all boys) were apparently playing a game, but their game was close to one side of the track.

As I walked by on the "close" side, I peered to one side through my Foster Grants, to see if I was attracting any attention.  None noted.  Except when the ball came my way and the boys zipped past to retrieve it.  "Sorry, Ma'am" was the only comment...I responded with "No problem.  Have fun, boys."  No fuss, no muss, no bother.  That's the way it should be.

And then at the tire store, where I am known as a guy, the S-word came into play.  I guess I can't have it all...especially since I haven't transitioned, and at this point, don't have any plan to do so.


Friday, July 6, 2018

OTRA Part 7 - Home again....

Time was growing short for sightseeing, so we returned to our hotel.   Yes, once again the balcony was wonderful for relaxing…

At dinner time, it was back to the riverwalk to find our meal, and on the way, we noticed a statue of San Antonio’s namesake:  San Antonio.  Interesting.  Didn’t ever think about the origin of its name.

Meet San Antonio:

All too soon it was time for this excursion to end.   Our departure was from the same station at which we arrived – the old Sunset Station.  It consists of several buildings and is an event center as well as train station, thus the gates to the event center part of the station were locked.   

Unfortunately it was well before dawn, thus this is the best picture I could get:

On the way through Dallas, we passed by Dealey Plaza, where Kennedy was assassinated back in 1963.  And I took a quick picture of the building from which those fatal shots were fired:

Trains all ran late enough that by the time we got to Washington DC, we had missed our connection for Baltimore.  But Amtrak put us on another train, departing only a half hour after the one we missed.  Even though we were inconvenienced, that was quick service!

It was a wonderful trip, and we both enjoyed our visit to Texas.  Will another excursion like this be in the cards any time soon?  We don’t know.  But I do know that I will once again be out on the rails - hopefully sooner rather than later.   

And I’ll be writing more entries for this blog when I do.

Thanks for reading…


Monday, July 2, 2018

OTRA Part 6 - The Fat A** Ranch & Winery? Really?

Anyone remember Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the USA?   I can remember him from when he was inaugurated after the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.  The announcement of Kennedy’s death came over the PA system at the school I was attending near Pittsburgh, PA.   But you may ask: “Exactly how and why does this topic apply in this blog?”   

Well, proximity of LBJ’s “Western White House” to San Antonio, where we were visiting, is the reason.  As we had access to a rental car, and as we both were interested in visiting the ranch (which is now the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park), off we went!

It’s out in Texas Hill Country, and currently covers about 1600 acres, of which about 700 are officially part of the park.   On the bank of the Pedernales River, it's is a lovely setting.

 The ranch, from the entrance drive.

The Western White House

There is an airfield on the property, and on display is “Air Force One-Half,” the jet used to transport LBJ to and from the Western White House.   The 707 in use as Air Force One back then couldn’t land on the ranch’s short runway.  We parked our rental car on the “taxi-way” marked by yellow lights with blue lenses.  

From the American-Statesman comes the following info:

The National Park Service rescued the 50-year-old JetStar from the Pentagon's "bone yard," an open-air retirement home for more than 4,400 old planes in the dry, desert air of Tucson, Ariz. The government paid $261,000 to bring the plane to Texas, to provide shelter and to restore the exterior of the VC-140 Lockheed aircraft with a sparkling new paint job that replicates the outside of Air Force One.

LBJ traveled on a Boeing 707 for most trips when he was president, but he also had a fleet of smaller planes available to him, including several JetStars. The larger plane could not land at the ranch because the 6,300-foot asphalt airstrip was not long enough. However, a JetStar could land and taxi to within 200 yards of LBJ's so-called Western White House along the Pedernales River.

"They could conduct the business of the country right here," said Russ Whitlock, superintendent of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park near Stonewall. "But without aircraft like the JetStar, it wouldn't have been possible."

This JetStar, tail number 612490, made numerous trips for the Johnson White House, including taking staffers and aides on flights to Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic during the Johnson White House years. It also flew to Puerto Rico.

The plane was a flying ambulance at times. It was dispatched by LBJ at least twice in the middle of the night for emergency medical missions. Johnson sent his doctors in the JetStar to assist former President Dwight Eisenhower, who had suffered heart pains in Georgia in November 1965. Cardiologists also scrambled to board the plane in August 1966 to treat the gravely ill president of Nicaragua, René Schick. The Central American leader died while the JetStar was still in the air.

Air Force One-Half

Remember the Amphicar?  That amphibious car from the era 1961 to 1968 (about 3800 built) which could function as a boat?  There was a 1962 model at the LBJ Ranch.  Still is there!!


After we finished up at the LBJ ranch, we headed to a couple more sights – one was the Fat Ass Ranch and Winery…yep, that’s its real name.   Couldn’t miss that photo op, which on my list of strange names ranks right up there with Toad Suck, Arkansas (discovered in my trip last January.)

We didn't have time to go in and sample the libations (happy hour is 5PM), but some folks were there enjoying the atmosphere at about 1) - and our share of the booze!   (Apparently they figure it's Happy Hour "somewhere.")

Remember Waylon Jennings singing “Back to the Basics of Love,” which was released in April 1977?    I really like that song, even though I didn’t listen to it much back then.  The lyrics say “Lets go to Luckenbach, Texas…”     It was only a couple miles off our route, so we did.   

Unfortunately, due to an event going on at the town dance hall (possibly a reason for the town's continued existence), we couldn’t drive down its main street.  But on Google Maps it appears to be a rickety, very old western town (allegedly now a population of 3), on a short loop road, and from the perimeter parking lot, we couldn’t see anything to alter that impression.   The only good pic I could get was of the sign…and a "bucket of bolts" pickup sunk in the mud out front.

Waylon Jennings had a fabulous voice.    

I say “had” because he reportedly passed on from this world in 2002, at about 65 years of age, due to diabetes-related complications.  Maybe I’ll try listening to some of his other music.  Like a replay of the theme from the Dukes of Hazzard!  Some of us in the right age category remember that show...if not by name, then by the Dukes' famous General Lee  (a copy of which I visited in Nashville in 2015).

It certainly was a copy-car...the driver's door opened.  I didn't have to climb through the window!

More later…


Sunday, July 1, 2018

OTRA Part 5 - The panhandlers

One day while we were walking around and exploring San Antonio, we came to the San Fernando Cathedral.   The original church was built in the mid-1700’s, and it was enlarged to its present size in 1868, making it one of the oldest cathedrals still serving in the USA.  It played a part in the war with Mexico, and today has a casket with the alleged remains of Col. Travis, James Bowie and Davy Crockett, all of whom perished in the Alamo siege.

The Cathedral

The remains...

Once we had our rental car, it was off to visit the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, just south of San Antonio.  Our rental car shortened the time frame for our visit to the group of missions,  but without it, we could have walked the several miles from town on a branch of the riverwalk.   

That first one (Mission San Jose) was in the best condition, with a gorgeous chapel and beautiful mission grounds.

Mission San Jose

The others we visited (San Juan and Espada) were well kept, but some of the buildings were stone foundations and/or walls, not structures.   At least the sites are stabilized for future viewing.  Well worth the visit!

Mission San Juan

 Mission Espada

And on our way back to the hotel, we stopped by the irrigation aqueduct and dam, built to bring water to the crops at Mission Espada.  And with some repairs in 1895 and the mid 1900's they still remain watertight today!  Quite an engineering feat for something designed and built between 1740 and 1745.

The Aqueduct

On the last day of our San Antonio visit,  I wore one of my few men’s generic polo shirts (buttons on the "men's side" and a railroad logo on the chest) with my women's white shorts and Keds women's sneakers.  Again, no jewelry at all.  No makeup.  Just long hair, purse and nails.  IMHO, not blatantly feminine.    

Panhandlers were out and about en masse.  My wife tended to "not" be hit on by these panhandlers.  But I was - several times - “Ma’am can you spare a dollar?”  While she was with me.  I thought to myself: "that's not very tactful, guys...cut it out!"  And I certainly didn't donate.

My wife picked up on this issue, but said nothing until I mentioned that I had noticed being “hit on” fairly often.    She commented that she doesn’t like that, or my being seen as a woman when we’re out together, but that it happens a lot, and she tolerates it.    And with that said, she promptly changed the subject. 

Being away from home, I didn’t pursue further conversation about that topic.  With only “what everyone seems to consider feminine” outfits in my suitcase, and away on a trip, spousal issues could be more than awkward.   But I think I understand how my getting attention as a woman, when she is “ignored,” could be somewhat frustrating.   We’ll have to see where this goes, over time…but I won't push my luck with full dressing in the near future.

As for the panhandlers themselves: What ever happened to “Can you spare a dime, Ma'am”Guess either inflation has set in… or else oil bucks from high oil prices are rolling free on the streets in San Antonio!   

More later...