The Garbage Truck incident…

Garbage collection typically comes early around here, well before sun-up in the winter.

Yesterday was no exception. Except that today, when they arrived at about 5:30 they emptied one full can of bagged trash, but left one can behind. It’s happened before. You know the drill. Call the office, lodge a complaint, leave the can at the curb overnight, and the truck comes by to empty it the next day. However, today there was a different twist to the story. I’d been delayed a bit in picking up the empty can(s), and went outside about 20 minutes after they left, wearing my typical turtleneck and jumper-style housedress, with bare legs and ballet flats. A bit chilly, but “Oh, well.”

As I turned around to go back in the garage (to await the opening of their company office as well as take the empty can inside), before I had gone more than three steps toward the door, I heard a truck coming up the hill in the dark, at about 10 mph. A garbage truck, no less! It was “Think quick, Mandy!” I immediately turned back to the street, and in the glare of the truck’s headlights, I dragged the can out into the street with the wind blowing my dress around, and started waving to the driver, pointing to the can.

He stopped, got out and asked what did I need. I opened the lid and said “You missed one can, sir.” “Oh, OK. Sorry, Ma’am.” The can handler came around from the other side of the truck, took the can and emptied it, much to my relief. I said “Thanks to both of you. It saved me a call to the office.” He said “No, thank YOU so much, Ma’am. We’d rather you not have to call them.” And I headed for the garage, now with two cans in tow, as the truck headed back to the barn.

They’d definitely gotten a complaint lodged against them if I hadn’t been delayed. But I think they were glad Mandy was there…to bail their butts out!


Gone, but not totally forgotten!

The lot where the famous Wildwood Diner stood, at 4001 Atlantic Ave in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey has a new hotel built on the property, according to Google Maps.  The diner hadn’t been open since operating sporadically in 2005, and was subsequently demolished 

The Wildwood Diner, taken in 2004, well before attempted sale and demolition.

It was composed of two main sections, the original O’Mahoney in 1957 which was soon after fronted by a larger rare Superior Dining Car Company unit. The interiors of stainless, sturdy formica and terrazzo were still in excellent condition. The art deco stainless and turquoise exterior still gleaming brightly and solid after 50 years.

The vestibule and two dining room areas were added onto the diner in the early 1960s. The 5 section diner seated 127 customers, 110 booth seats and 17 counter stools.  It was for sale for only $5,000 in “as is where is” condition after October 31, 2005. The diner came complete with all furniture and all equipment.

The new hotel is called The Waves, 3 floors high with an elevator, large pool, and deck. It reportedly has large 3 bedroom family rooms and offers FREE hot breakfast. The company building and operating the hotel owns 8 other hospitality properties at the Jersey Shore. Another “Doo-Wop property” in Wildwood bites the dust!

So Sad…


Another excellent day…

No, it actually was fabulous!

Just before the recent snow event, there were several errands on my agenda, including a long-timer on the honey-do list…all masked and socially-distanced…in nearby towns.  I visited a photo shop, to try to find a battery for a vintage camera, stopped at our bank, and most importantly, wifey has been trying to get me to finally buy a smaller purse for daily use, saving the big one for traveling.  So I went to several big-box stores and a couple of chain department stores in search of one.

My outfit was “leggings” and a turtleneck, with sweater and jacket.  My heels stayed on for the entire 3 hour errand.  There was less of a fit issue this time – I think wearing them more often is making it a non-issue.  And it appears that my guide in future heel-buying decisions will likely change from “less-expensive shoes” to “more expensive shoes, bought only on sale.”   My expensive (and delightfully comfortable) flats bought on sale are a perfect example!

Moving right along, I parked at one department store, and went in (being greeted as a woman) to the purse department.  It was early in the business day, with few customers around.  Two clerks were chatting as I passed by them, and my shoes were making that feminine “click-click-click” as I walked.  Both of them looked my way, and as it was quiet, I could hear that their discussions did not change as I passed by.  They kept right on talking…

I left that store after finding a suitable purse, to walk (outside, of course) to another department store in the same mall, where I was also welcomed as a female.  But this time they had no suitable purses (the last time I visited, they had a huge selection – not any more!)   Back to the first store – where I again was “welcomed back” appropriately.  I picked up my new purse, and headed for the check-out lane.

After the usual “do you have one of our cards, Ma’am?” and “do you want to apply for one?” questions, the elderly female clerk commented on my name, how it used to be a man’s name, but in the last 25 years, only young women are given the name. We’ve completely taken it over…”  My response was “yes, and I’m glad we have!  It’s such a pretty name for us ladies.”  With no customers waiting, we had time for a couple minutes of girl talk (about wearing masks giving us the newfound freedom to go without makeup. I pointed out those long-wearing lipstick stains could be hard to get out!)  Once a customer got in line, it was time to leave, with my new purse (and wallet – I got one of those, too!)  

With my heels tapping out their beautiful cadence as I left, at the exit I was once again addressed as a woman.

I thoroughly enjoyed my “honey-do” day, even though it wasn’t long enough.  But definitely very affirming. 


The White Cliffs…

…yes, of Dover. Again, from our 1985 vacation in the UK:

While there was a lot of fog and smog, and little sunlight, preventing the cliffs from displaying their usual beautiful white, they still were an impressive sight from the Promenade…

From Dover, the cliffs run mainly westward, their bright white wall catching the full southern sun. Now the really tall cliffs begin! Views from the edge are the most breathtaking in the entire length of the White Cliffs, reaching heights of nearly 500 feet.

The drop is completely vertical, and in many places has a substantial overhang. Unfenced and unstable, the edge is a dizzying place, to be approached with the greatest caution. Seagulls glide high above the water—far, far below.

These great, vertical cliffs end five miles west of Dover, and the White Cliffs enter their final phase. Here the top 100 yards of the cliffs have retreated about a quarter of a mile inland, leaving a rough platform perched above the sea. Below the platform are the final 50 feet of cliff, protected by huge sea walls. This is the only place where a walker can follow a safe, marked path straight down the cliff face from top to bottom.

The White Cliffs end on a south-facing hill, covered in short-cropped grass and topped by a Martello Tower—a tall, thick-walled cylinder upon which cannons were mounted to repel any invaders trying to land. The Cliffs of Dover truly are a sight to behold.

If you’re ever in the UK, don’t miss this sight!


Heels and Dresses…

It’s been rather quiet around here lately…doggone virus.  I just don’t get out and about as much as I used to.  Thus, there often isn’t a lot to talk about.

My hairdresser recovered from the virus, but being unvaccinated, had to go back on quarantine due to exposure to a friend who just came down with it.  (Had she not, I would have requested an appointment with a different hairdresser, for obvious reasons, since vaccinations are so scarce here on the Eastern Shore.)   But she was able to transfer my appointment to the same hairdresser as last time. 

In my first appointment with her, we had discussed wearing high heels at quite some length…and how nice it was to be able to gain a little height.  (And supportive…yes, she noticed from the pic of my heels that I wear dresses.)   I’ve subsequently tried wearing my heels for a couple of errands, but they didn’t fit all that well.   Because this beauty shop was not in my home town, and because I had a number of stops to make, I wanted to give my heels a fair trial.  I decided to put them on just after leaving home, and wear them till just before returning,

To make a long story short, the major problem seemed to be pressure on the knuckle of one toe, which previously had been broken and healed badly.  Today’s test result: my shoes seem to be adjusting to that issue. I wore them for about 4 hours, and the problem didn’t seem as bad as I had feared.  “Breaking them in” must be the key.  I’m looking forward to wearing them for longer periods, where I have the option to change shoes if necessary.   That will be a better test of their true fit….

However, now for the fun part…the stylist complimented my wearing heels, particularly with “your leggings.”  (My stirrup pants.) That paved the way to about 15 minutes of discussing the advantages of heels.  It didn’t escape her that as we talked, my heels were hooked over a rung of the frame of the salon chair I was sitting on.  Smiling, she said: “Look at you…aren’t heels just perfect for that?  You’ll love spending the evening on a bar stool chatting with friends, in a pretty black dress, diamond earrings, long necklace, 3″ heels, and with your heels hooked over the footrest.”  I didn’t bother to disillusion her – but I (we) don’t do the bar scene, with – or without – me in a dress.  (Minor detail…) However, she suggested that “you start wearing your heels to each hair appointment, so you adjust to wearing them.”   I asked if it would be a problem for the girls, and she said “It isn’t a problem today, and won’t be later, either.”  So I told her I’d start with my next appointment…

One minor crisis, which actually has (so far) turned out OK.  You may recall that a while back, I cracked one big toe nail so badly that removal was discussed, but repair with acrylic was approved by the doctor, to see if it would avoid the need to remove it.  And it’s working – albeit very slowly.   The crack has almost grown out – perhaps fully in another 6 months or so.  

But wouldn’t you know…two weeks ago, I cut a corner too sharp in the living room, and hit a chair leg with my other foot – through my shoe, no less.  Though I didn’t know it till 3 days later, it split about 20% of the big toe nail.  That damage was discovered when I took off my knee highs, and a sharp edge of the nail caught the fabric.  Before I realized what was happening, off came the cracked area –  from the tip all the way to within a quarter inch of the quick.  No blood, no pain.  But it was now on the floor.  Wifey was surprised at how much of my nail came off, so she encouraged a quick appointment at the nail salon. 

I was able to get one two days later, and fortunately, the tech was able to patch that nail up, like she did the other one.  You wouldn’t know there was an issue…the miracle of acrylic.  When she took the polish off my other toes in prep for the pedicure, she found I’d also bruised two smaller nails – the evidence was plain to see.   She repainted all 10 toes in white.  Her advice was “be careful and don’t stress those nails.  As soon as the weather warms up enough to be able to wear sandals, just do it.  That’ll minimize risk of pressure from shoes damaging the repair.  This is going to take a long time to grow out.”  (I suspect wifey will be much more agreeable to my white nails being on display in sandals all summer…since she didn’t care for the way my toe looked with part of the nail missing. And, yes, I plan to be more careful!

My new tee dress has arrived, and here’s how it looks – both with bare legs and “leggings”:

What do you think???  Personally, I love both the color (to diminish the “blue is for boys” myth) and the length!  Bare legs stay on display, but my dress is long enough to be modest.  And it even looks OK with “leggings.”  (Didn’t have time to try my capris.)  But I may want to have the seamstress check it, to see if it can be taken in “just a bit.”  Ordering the next size smaller likely would have made it too small. (I’m between size ranges!) 

As someone once said about dresses:  “They need to be long enough to cover the subject, and short enough to be interesting.”  It’ll be the shortest dress I’ve worn…once I find a place to wear it.  With the virus still circulating, that may be a tall order!

More later,


Simplicity…it’s a good thing!

Having packed lots of bags, over a long period of time, for lots of solo excursions, I wish I’d realized back then precisely how easy wearing dresses could make packing. Dresses would have saved me a ton of time and effort!

Typically I’ve hauled two suitcases around for each trip. (Not necessarily a bad thing; men hold doors for me and help me with my bags.) The large bag typically contains an assortment of skirts, coordinated tops, a sweater, part of my undies, a pair of flats and heels, plus an outfit similar to this one below (with either a turtleneck or regular tee), which is reserved for dinners or special occasions.

It’s a very comfortable, outfit, and I’ve worn it from the east to the west coast.

The smaller of my two bags contains the rest of my undies, toiletries, jewelry, and three skirt outfits, along with the pair of capris which I use to depart from home and upon returning.

But if I buy two additional dresses (one like the dress in a previous post but a different color, of course – and one of which would be an entirely different style), and take the above outfit along as well (with a short sleeve tee – not turtleneck – underneath) , I’d have four completely different summer outfits, and only need one separate top! All 4 outfits, with enough undies for about 12 days, would fit perfectly in my smaller suitcase, and only require wearing each outfit two or three times. There would be room for only one pair of shoes: my low heels (above), which are required for nicer restaurants, and my sweater in case of chilly air conditioning.

For warm weather travel, don’t you think a pair of comfortable sandals should replace my everyday flats? Why cover up pretty painted nails fresh from a pedicure? Twenty pretty nails with nail art would demand to be shown to the world, not hidden in closed shoes. I have a pair of sandals comfortable enough to wear all day, every day, thus the flats would stay home. If closed shoes were required for some reason (for example, fancy dinners or rainy weather) I’d simply wear my heels. And there’d be no room for capris I’d leave the house wearing – they’d stay in the car, awaiting my return!

Yes, packing for over a week would be made so easy, by simply wearing dresses every day… I should have thought of this idea sooner!



Kent, UK -1985!!

The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch is a 15″ gauge light railway in Kent, England, operating steam and internal combustion locomotives. During our 1985 excursion to the UK, we visited the 13 12-mile line, which runs from the Port of Hythe via Dymchurch, and Romney to Dungeness, very close to the Dungeness nuclear power station and Dungeness Light.

We took a ride, and had a great time. Would definitely ride again if the opportunity arises…

Look closely at the picture of one of their steam locomotives. Looks “normal” – right? Then look just above the locomotive cab and see the head of a human “towering” over the cab. That gives you the idea of the relative size of the locomotive. And their diesels are on the same scale.

But they do everything which standard gauge locomotives can do! And do it well – if on a bit smaller scale.

The railway was the dream of millionaire racing drivers Captain John Edwards Presgrave Howey and Count Louis Zborowski. The latter had constructed a railway at his home in Bridge, Kent, and agreed to donate the rolling stock and infrastructure to the project. However, he was killed on 10.19.1924 in a motor racing accident at the Monza Grand Prix before the Romney Marsh site was chosen, and Howey continued the project alone.

After he unsuccessfully attempted to buy the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and extend it, he investigated a greenfield site between Burnham-on-Sea and Weston-super-Mare in Somerset and offered to buy the Hundred of Manhood & Selsey Tramway in Sussex, Henry Greenly drew Howey’s attention to the potential for a 15-inch gauge line between New Romney and Hythe. Howey first visited New Romney in September of 1925 and decided there and then that it was an ideal location for his proposed railway. Because it involved crossing public highways and acquiring land from a number of different owners a Light Railway Order made under the Light Railways Act of 1896 was necessary and application for this was made in November of 1925. A Public Inquiry was held by the Light Railway Commissioners in the Assembly Rooms at New Romney in January of 1926. The Minister of Transport indicated his intention to approve the application in February of 1926 and The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Light Railway Order 1926 was made in May. This incorporated the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Light Railway Company as a statutory public utility undertaking, gave it powers to construct and work the proposed railway and also included compulsory purchase powers over the land required

The railway was opened on July 16, 1927.

In 1940 the railway was taken over by the military during WW II, and a miniature armored train was used on the line. It was also used by the Department of Petroleum Warfare in the construction of PLUTO (“Pipe Line Under The Ocean”) intended to supply fuel to the Allied forces after the D-Day Normandy landings.

From September 1977 until July 2015, the railway provided school trains to transport children to and from the Marsh Academy in New Romney. The service was finally withdrawn due to falling usage.

From 1926 to 1978, the RH&DR held the title of the “Smallest public railway in the world” (in terms of track gauge).

And, so it goes…railroads are where you find them!


Can you dig it?

Coal, that is…

While cruising the narrow, potholed roads of Western Pennsylvania back in 1971, I came across an impressive, but abandoned, dark and dingy, and massively dilapidated monument to the USA’s ability to produce the fuel to feed the fires of industrialization – coal. The story of that edifice – the Ernest (PA) mine and facility began in 1902, when officials of the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal & Iron Company started looking to Indiana County in search of new coal fields.

The Ernest (PA) coal mine and coke oven facility in August of 1971.

In May, 1903, the rails of the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway reached the new town of Ernest, and the first coal was shipped the same month. From the early days of its existence, the Ernest plant was a marvel of engineering. In an era when most coal companies were dependent upon the lowly mule for motive power, the R&P’s new operation utilized electric motors to haul coal to the steel tipple where a system of endless chains hoisted it up a long incline into the plant for cleaning and grading.

Within three years of its opening, the plant underwent the first of several renovations as the R&P constantly searched for more efficient mining and preparation methods to produce, clean, size, and market coal. In 1906, Heyl and Patterson of Pittsburgh constructed the first washing plant. This firm had also built the original tipple and most of the buildings used for coal storage and preparation at Ernest. The Fairmont Machinery Company and McNally-Pittsburgh also did important work for the R&P as the complex at Ernest expanded.

The R&P also established a coke industry at Ernest and eventually built a battery of 278 beehive coke ovens at the plant. Coke production figures from the Ernest ovens reflect general economic trends of the first half of the twentieth century as well as the effects of the later development of more sophisticated methods of making coke. By the mid-1920s, lack of demand for coke caused the temporary shutdown of the line of coke ovens at Ernest. The plant began production again in 1929, with the addition of mechanical unloading to replace the old hand drawing method. Annual production ebbed and flowed until a peak of 145,977 tons was reached during World War Two.

While the manufacture of coke formed a significant part of the activities at the Ernest plant, the mining, processing, and sale of clean fuel remained the prime factor in the success of the operation. In the early days, railroads, primarily the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh, consumed the greatest percentage of Ernest’s coal. It was particularly desired as high grade stoker coal for passenger engines. By the mid-1920s, the original tipple had been remodeled, and a huge bin constructed for storage of clean, sized, coking coal. In the next decade, a “dry” plant for cleaning coal by air, and a wet” plant for cleaning coal with water, were installed at Ernest to bring the operation up to date.

By the beginning of World War Two, the Ernest coal plant began to resemble the plant best remembered by most Indiana Countians. As the war effort increased, Ernest kept pace with a growing need for coal; and, in 1945, the mining and preparation plant worked together to produce over a million tons of coal. In 1952, the McNally plant was built an the hillside behind the original site. Using a wet cleaning method to separate the coal from impurities, the McNally plant had a capacity of fifty tons per hour for coking coal. R & P later expanded this plant to clean four hundred tons per hour, and it contained all of the cleaning equipment used at Ernest.

By the early 1960s, R&P officials decided that coal could no longer be mined profitably at Ernest. In 1965, the plant was closed. Within a few years, equipment and buildings gradually disappeared from the landscape as scrap companies dismantled the mining operation that had taken over fifty years to construct. But the McNally preparation plant and the skeleton of the coking coal bin still remain on the blackened site. These, the foundations of the coke ovens, and a brick office and machine shop are all that survive of the R&P’s Ernest operations, an Indiana County landmark to remember with pride.

And a search of the mapping programs confirms that the land has returned to nature in the area…I couldn’t find the buildings mentioned in the above paragraph, though their remains may be hidden in the trees.

As the saying goes, “Ashes to ashes – dust to dust.”


An option for cooler weather:

There may be times when I want to wear a dress, but the temperature says “Not so fast…” All is not lost, however.

First option is to add pantyhose. They’re practical, and pretty, not to mention that they can help cure that “untanned winter legs” look. They would be my first choice. But at times weather may dictate that they’re not sufficient. Next would be black tights. I have them, wear them, and like them a lot. But the weather sometimes dictates even more.

When trying on this new dress, I found that the leggings I ordered with it just didn’t fit – and they have gone back. There’s still more work to do, in regard to find a pair which fit properly. So in order to see how my dress would look with pants, I changed back into my everyday stirrup pants. (Yes, I know black or dark gray would look better – but it is what it is.)

With the proper color, this also becomes a valid fashion choice in weather too cool for just a dress and pantyhose. A pair of dark stirrup pants would be perfect, in cooler weather.

Now all we (collectively) need is to be able to travel safely again – without the virus!