The fun just keeps on happening…

To my most recent hair appointment (and in keeping with my current wardrobe style), I wore 3” inseam shorts, a boatneck blouse and slide sandals.  Since I needed a color touch up, everything was dark…including the brown sandals – due to the ever-present risk of accidentally-spilled hair color. 

When I walked in, a 60-something female customer who had just paid and was on the way out, stopped me and said: “I love your pedicure, dear – white is so fashionable this season.”  She held out her hands to show me her beautiful red manicure…and grabbed my freshly-pink-acrylic-manicured hands to check mine.  “Very nice, but a bit too plain.  After (stylist’s name) gets you all prettied up, you need put on your nicest dress and some heels, then have your fingers and toes painted like mine.  Even at our age, you’ll love the attention you get from both women and men, if you wear 20 beautiful red nails.”  

Then, she sat down beside me, and we girl-talked about our nails till I was called back to my stylist’s chair, at which point the lady left the salon.

My stylist (who knows my gender) complimented my outfit,  and noticed my fresh white toe nail color, which she said was very pretty and in style this year.  She was wearing sandals too, and put her lovely pink-nailed feet next to mine so we could compare pedicures.  Both were well done, considering that we both have similar problems with our destroyed nails.  And she pointed out that I should be looking forward to keeping my nails pretty for a long time…her issues have lasted for years.  “You can use whatever is the most fashionable color each year.  She had overheard the discussion I was having with the customer, and added “but Martha was right…20 bright red nails are elegant, and always in fashion!”

Yes, the fun just keeps on happening!

Mandy

On top of Old Smoky…

Anyone remember the Western Maryland Railway? Opened in 1852, as the Baltimore, Carroll & Frederick RR, renamed the Western Maryland Rail Road Co. in 1853, added various branches, and the WM (Wild Mary was one of its acronyms) operated a line almost parallel to the B&O, on the other side of the Potomac River thru the western part of the state. The WM became part of CSX (former B&O) in 1968, and its new owners abandoned many of its lines in the 1980’s, including the following one.

The Western Maryland Scenic Railway came to be in 1988, operating over WM’s tracks between the shops in Ridgeley, WV and Cumberland, then further west, around famous Helmstetter’s Curve and thru the Brush Tunnel near Corriganville, then on to Frostburg. The rails from there, west to Connellsville, PA were abandoned and removed. If you ride trains 29 and 30, you will pass under the massive Salisbury Viaduct, now restored and a part of the Allegheny Highlands Trail.

Western Maryland Scenic Railway 2-8-0 #734 under steam, in the snow…

It’s a very scenic ride in the summer, but snow makes it that much more so!

For any of you railfans out there, the above locomotive is not running – it’s down for maintenance. But that’s because their repair efforts are all being concentrated on the big project: restoring for operation C&O 1309, a Mallet 2-6-6-2 locomotive that came to them from the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.

Chesapeake & Ohio Railway No. 1309 was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1949. It was the last Class 1 mainline locomotive built by Baldwin, maker of over 70,000 locomotives since 1832. It was ordered by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway to pull heavy coal trains in the mountainous terrain of West Virginia and Kentucky, which it did from 1949 until 1956, after which it was stored for twenty years at their roundhouse at Peach Creek, West Virginia. The locomotive, along with several others, all considered impractical to restore to working condition due to lack of maintenance in operation, were moved to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland in 1976 for cosmetic restoration and static display. It remained there until 2014 when it was purchased by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad for restoration. When returned to service, it will be the largest steam locomotive in regular scheduled service in the United States and take 2-8-0 No. 734’s  place as the largest active steam locomotive in the state of Maryland. The Western Maryland intends to use the locomotive on tourist excursion trains between Cumberland and Frostburg, Maryland.

It’s an impressive steam engine. It operated under “its own steam” over the New Years Holiday, though there is still work to be done. Once they get it up and running, I plan to visit and ride. If you like trains, you should, too.

Mandy

At last…

After disappointment locally with acknowledgement of my femininity since we got back from our TN trip, I was looking for some real affirmation.  And it showed up in an unusual and unexpected way…read on for more.

We had a serviceman scheduled one day last week.  He was supposed to be here by 5 PM.  7:30 PM came and went with no sign of him.  So I jumped into the shower.  While I was doing that, the phone rang and Wifey picked it up.   He was running very late and hoped he could still come by.  She said “Sure.”  And she came in to let me know that he was coming, which was fine with me.

I grabbed the quickest outfit I could find…my new black leggings, a turtleneck top,, ballet flats and my little purse.  I answered the door, and “Hi Ma’am.  I’m sorry I’m late.”  “No problem, sir.”  I showed him the issue, and he went ahead with getting the info for the estimate.  And several times he asked me for info or had questions, and he always responded to my answer with:  “Thanks, Ma’am.” 

When he was finished, he said “Ms. Sherman, I’ll work this up tomorrow and have the quote ready in a couple of days.   So there was the affirmation I was hoping for…right at my front door!

Now all he needs to do is produce the quote!

Hugs,

Mandy

Wardrobe review time…

Wifey asked me to look thru the corners of my closet to see what still fits and get rid of those things which don’t. There is (or now, more appropriately “was”) a section which contained a number of “unworn in recent history” clothes: mostly women’s non-stirrup pants, a few blouses, my (new) leggings (buried there for safekeeping,) and a pants/vest outfit that I had forgotten about.  A reasonable request, in that they were accumulating dust…

Most were “fat women’s conventional pants” – all but one pair were far too baggy for me to ever wear again now that I’m under 200 pounds (they’ll go to charity), two delightfully-silky-smooth and luxurious long sleeve (and overtly feminine) blouses (yes, complete with shoulder pads installed), both of which Wifey moved to my “active” wardrobe… She washed them, and (below) I’m wearing one of them around the house and yard under my sleeveless house dresses. Can’t wait to wear them in public! But first I need to start remembering to adjust my shoulder pads…lol!

Both blouses should be perfect with capris (or skirts) and sandals. A picture from the archives is below:

Can you just imagine how much prettier these outfits would look, if I were wearing 20 bright red (and extended at least ½”) finger and toe nails?? That’s in my plan for a future solo trip “someday”…

Also unearthed was an old (non-stirrup) women’s pants/vest outfit in robins-egg blue.  Wifey said it’s not currently in style, but worn over a blouse, could work during cold weather (and be perfect for winter travel.)  She washed it and it’s being kept. At some point, I’ll get a pic of that combo for you. 

The other garment which surfaced was my new black pair of leggings.  Her only comment was “Wow, those fit you nicely.”  I’ve taken that as approval to start wearing them – and they feel wonderful! Since the black ones passed muster, I’ve ordered another pair…in brown. If they fly as well, then I’ll see if I can order a white pair…and maybe tan.

More later…

Mandy

It was a very good trip…Vol. 2

I was in several stores during our visit, with and without family members, and never heard the dreaded “S” word.   Mostly I was just “a woman out doing her shopping.” At the grocery store, son entered his wife’s discount number at checkout, to get us the discount.  For the rest of the transaction, that clerk addressed me by his wife’s name.  Son and I joked about my long hair and mask making the difference…

As I alluded to in the prior post, when I went into the Urgent Care Center I was wearing one of my usual feminine stirrup pants outfits with turtleneck tunic, flats and purse.   Despite the fact that they had my ID in front of them, which clearly shows that big “M,” I was addressed as female.  Maybe the mask?  Doubt it…more likely long hair and mani/pedi. Female forms of address, right from the get-go.  When they called me in, the nurse announced “Ms. Sherman?”  I stood up, and she motioned “Right this way, Miss. To the scale…and please leave your flats on, Miss.”  Including by the nurse who asked me to remove my flats and get up on the exam table. She took my blood pressure, temperature and so on, and said “Your BP is fine, Ma’am.” Then the 40something male doctor entered, examined me, and said “Ma’am, the nurse will be in to give you an injection in the hip, so you’ll need to roll over and pull your panties down in the back.”   When the nurse came in, I did as instructed, she said “This will pinch for a moment, Ma’am.” And soon, it was over.   A fabulous and quite unexpected feminine experience!  Something I truly didn’t expect to happen in the South…

On the way back home a few days later, we had to drop in at a rest stop for a restroom and stretch break.  I wasn’t carrying a visible purse (the little one with the phone and car key in it for safety tucks away nicely under my sweater.)  On the way into the men’s room, a big guy leaving blocked my path and pointed to the men’s room sign.  I laughed, held out both hands for him to see my nails, and said (in my regular voice) something to the effect that “not only girls wear long hair and nail polish.”  He said “Oh, sorry” and gave up, clearing the doorway for me.

That definitely was a fun trip…I’m ready to go again!

After arriving back home, I stopped to pick up mail at the post office.  On the way out, a guy parked next to me was cussing up a storm about the lousy job of parking done by a customer, which was making his exit by pickup truck a real challenge.  (He was correct – the guy parked in a no-parking area.)  A constant river of four-to-seven-letter obscenities were flowing forth loudly as I walked up to get into my car.  He noticed me and cooled the filthy language, saying “I’m so sorry, Ma’am.  Hope you’re having a better day than I am.”  And then he started ranting again, but at least eliminated the filth till after I had closed the car door upon getting in.  Guess he really was having a bad day…LOL!   

Good thing he didn’t have an AK-47 (or any other visible weapon) in the pickup’s gun rack. 

It’s never dull here.

Mandy

It was a very good trip…Vol 1

….to TN for a visit with the kids a while back.  We moved some of the excess furniture in our basement, and some personal effects, into their house’s lower-level “In-law-apartment,” to give us our own separate space when visiting.  And to let us spend as much time there as we can, at the least possible cost.  Never a bad thing – especially as the grandkids get older and more responsible.

On the long drive south, there were a number of stops – restroom and leg-stretch breaks.  I  try to use facilities with handicap rooms or “one-holers.”  But that’s not always possible.  At a rest stop in Virginia, as I walked into the men’s room, an elderly guy was eyeing me up and down as he approached me (in stirrup pants, turtleneck tunic and flats) on his way out.  Of course both of us were wearing masks, but as he got close, I simply said “Good Morning” in my not-very-feminine voice.  And that was the end of the issue!

Young kids are like “walking Petri dishes”…the older granddaughter had a cold when we arrived, but she cleared in several days, except for a cough.  By the time we were getting ready to leave, I had caught whatever it was.   No, it was not THAT virus – even her doctor had told mommy and daddy there’s some “other” virus going around among schoolkids, and to give her some kiddie acetaminophen – it would clear in a couple days – with a cough lasting more than a week. And he said he’d be surprised if mommy and daddy don’t get it, too.  His diagnosis was substantially correct… I got it and had to visit a doctor myself, who advised that it was not Covid…  (In fact, D-I-L was in the process of getting it as we left…)   Since all adults in the family have now been fully vaccinated against Covid, the odds against so many vaccine failures occurring in one family would be astronomical.  (It was an interesting doctor visit. More about that later.)

While we were visiting, D-I-L’s girlfriend came over after work one evening, for a visit and cookout – yes, weather was decent most of the time.  I was wearing a generic light gray women’s jogging suit (elastic waist with “non-stirrup” bottoms) around the house, ballet flats, and with my phone in the new “purse” from a previous post.  D-I-L was dressed in a nice skort (I was a bit jealous), Wifey was in capris, and girlfriend was wearing a lovely maxi-dress and sandals, with gorgeous long robin’s-egg-blue finger and toe nails.  I told her how pretty she looked, and said that I was just “slumming it” around the house that day, regretting not being dressed more appropriately (leaving her to interpret that any way she wanted to!)

She commented that I’m always nicely-dressed, but “today you look particularly cute – comfortable and casual, relaxing in your ballet flats.”  I thanked her, and the discussion continued.  She went on to recommend putting away flats for the summer and simply wear sandals, with a colorful mani/pedi for an accent. As she talked, I didn’t even try to challenge her recommendation, though I couldn’t help but mention that I’d love to.   I was too busy thinking it’s probably the first time I’ve been called “cute” by a woman…  Interesting, right?

More to follow…

Mandy

Suicide Bridge? Really????

While out exploring our home state, we came to the quiet little town of Secretary in Dorchester County, with a population of 535 at the census in 2010. It’s said that “back in the day” Lord Baltimore named the town after his secretary.

It’s home to a small bridge with an unusual (and rather dark) name: Suicide Bridge. Yes, it has a history…the first wooden bridge was built at this location in 1888. In 1910 a new bridge was built and in 1967 a two-lane wooden bridge with asphalt was built. The present bridge was rebuilt in 2005. It has been said that each iteration of the bridge has at least one tale of suicide associated with it.

Very strange.

Looks may be a bit deceiving, but the deck appears to only be about 6 feet above the surface of the water. Some diving boards are higher than that!

If things in life were so bad that a person really wanted to “end it all,” one would think chances of success would be enhanced if they were to find a more suitable venue! Occasionally when traffic ties up on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge due to a “disabled vehicle”, it turns out that the vehicle is only disabled because the key is in the pocket of the owner – who has already jumped over the railing and “bought the farm.” Saying that publicly is apparently taboo.

So I guess the name Suicide Bridge can be added to my list of unusual names…not quite as strange as Toad Suck, Arkansas. But still unusual in its own right!

Happy travels…

Mandy

Another sight “bites the dust.”

Anyone remember the coal mine fire which is still burning in Centralia, PA? On one of Mandy’s “excursions” several years ago, I was able to stop by while driving through, and see the so-called “Graffiti Highway” in person.

“Graffiti Highway”

It’s gone now…Pennsylvania’s “Graffiti Highway,” the abandoned stretch of road that’s become an unofficial tourist attraction, is being covered with truckloads of dirt to discourage trespassers.

The road, once part of Pennsylvania Route 61, has a colorful history. It was closed in 1993, because it was damaged by a coal fire that’s been burning under the town of Centralia since 1962. The state says the area is extremely dangerous, but that hasn’t stopped people from coming to see and add to the graffiti that covers the ¾-mile section over the last decade

CNN reported last April that crews from a local coal company hired to haul dirt were working to cover the highway as tourists came to get one last look.   “We’ll bring in approximately 400 loads of material, and then we’ll level it off, and then we’ll probably plant it, and hopefully, there will be trees and grass growing there,” said the company representative.  The organization which owns the property hired them to cover the “Graffiti Highway” because of liability issues and concerns that large crowds were gathering there.

As the police often say to bystanders: “Nothing to see here, Ma’am…move along.”

Mandy

That’s a potty?

During the trip which brought with it “cable car pictures”, we also experienced the following, nicknamed “Street furniture.” 

From current internet offerings, this Street furniture, such as JC Decaux kiosks, are a vital part of SF’s sidewalk environment. The kiosks can be re-purposed by non-profit agencies and will encourage economic development in our commercial districts. Re-purposing kiosks are one of many ways to activate the space in the public right of way under the SF Better Streets Plan.

The Automatic Public Toilet Program was developed because of a growing civic concern about the lack of sufficient public toilet facilities in the City. The toilets automatically clean themselves after each use, and are fully accessible to people with disabilities. This program is operated at no cost to the City. In exchange for the toilets, the City allows the contractor to install public service/advertising kiosks and newspaper kiosk stands on City sidewalks. There are currently 70 kiosks located throughout San Francisco generating revenue to support this program.

There are 25 self-cleaning public toilets operating through this program which are accessible for people with disabilities. (And nowadays since they are unisex, presumably those of us who are transgender.)  When will the rest of the world catch up?

This is a great idea, but with the pandemic, probably not practical to keep clean…

Mandy

Something to deal with…

A bunch of little things are catching up with me…and will need to be dealt with. 

The most important one at the moment: Mom passed away last year (no, not the virus), and I’ve had a bunch of her clothes stored in the basement that she wasn’t using (but she COULD have if hers had been lost or damaged at the nursing home).  I haven’t so much as looked at them since that fateful day, not wanting to stir up the memories.  

But, the time is coming to do something about that.  And I keep remembering that I already have her stirrup pants in my daily wardrobe.  So, one of these days when wifey is out shopping, I need to check her clothes out, see if any of her other pants or tops might fit me, and send what doesn’t to the charity shop.   My guess is that not much will work.  She was shorter than me, and weighed a lot less, even in her younger days.  I’m not sure why her stirrup pants fit me…but they do.  And if some of her generic tops would fit, it would certainly be wonderful to be able to wear some of her outfits – maybe even with her jewelry.  Hand-me-downs are always good.

Of course, events happen almost daily, and there are bound to be others which need attention!

Such fun!

Mandy