OMG – another wonderful day!

On the way to my recent hairdresser appointment in a nearby town, I had to run two other errands, thus making it a very busy day this week. Wearing white capris, the black boatneck tunic and my white sandals (for some reason wifey’s objection to men wearing white shoes has not come up in a long time), and the required “virus mask”, my first stop was to make a delivery to a nonprofit charity in another town, first thing in the morning.

When I arrived, I carried in the first small package of donations, and the lady in charge (50something) acknowledged me as female. While I was talking with her, the maintenance guy didn’t hesitate for a second. He trotted out to the car, and brought the two big boxes into the building within two minutes, saying “I left the small stuff for you ladies… And when I thanked him, he said “don’t want ladies to lift things that heavy, Ma’am!” Wow…I sure do love being a girl! “Well sir, I just want you to know that I appreciate it a lot!” I kept talking with the lady in charge for a few minutes, then thanked her and went on my way, still on a bit of a “high’ from apparent complete acceptance as a female.

Next stop was a big box store, to look for a shredder and a desk chair. The first clerk I spoke with about shredders interpreted me as female, and referred me to the clerk who sells them. He, too referred to me as female, and was able to answer my questions. Unfortunately the shredder I would have purchased was out of stock, so I had to find the first clerk again, to inquire about chairs. When I located him, he continued to address me as female – a wonderful situation.

When I finally found the chair I wanted, it was out of stock. There was a floor model, and since I didn’t want to put a kit together, that was fine with me! He commented that ladies don’t usually want to assemble chairs, so I decided to ask for the assembly fee to be eliminated from the price on a floor model chair. And he did that when he got to the cash register. Fabulous! $35 off the price! And my now-used-for-females name confirmed my gender to him!

You could have knocked me over with a feather when he told me to go get my car and he would bring it out for me. I did, and when I went around to the back to open up the tailgate, he lifted it in. “Ladies shouldn’t have to do things like this!” I thanked him for taking care of me. “Any time, Ma’am!” And when I got home after all my errands, I got it out of the back of the car by myself, BUT found he was right. Girls shouldn’t do this heavy stuff. Fortunately, gravity helped me lift it down. It was extremely heavy! Wifey and I struggled to get it up the steps and into the house..

The above took a lot less time than I thought it would. Before showing up for my hair appointment I had sufficient time to visit a nearby inlet, and grab a quick photo, below:

My hair appointment went fine. They all know my birth gender, but I typically don’t look much like a guy, thus they don’t use gendered greetings, simply choosing to call me by my now-100%-female first name. Fine with me!

My beautician has long hair, but today she had a “new ‘do.” She put her hair up in a neat-looking bun. I make a sloppy high bun in my own hair over night on occasion, but it never stays. I was telling her about it, and she decided to show me how to make one by myself. It’s not hard, but I would definitely have to do makeup, and be more diligent at wearing earrings (I never wear them when wifey is around) if I wore a high bun during the daytime. I was surprised that she wanted to show me how to do one!

Will wonders never cease?

Mandy

Hickory Creek – no, not the place!

It’s a railroad passenger car! I’ve seen it in various locations, including in moving trains, for many years. This particular encounter took place in Washington DC’s Union Station, as we were waiting for a train.

The New York Central’s 20th Century Limited was billed, for years, as “The Most Famous Train in the World.” The railroad’s most esteemed train sped along the 958-mile “Water Level Route” between New York, averaging 60 MPH, for sixty-five years – making the trip in just sixteen hours. The train was exclusive and sophisticated; boarding passengers walked along a crimson red carpet. In 1948, General Dwight D. Eisenhower ceremoniously inaugurated a new set of cars for the New York Central’s most famous train. Among them was the Hickory Creek, an observation sleeper lounge.

The car was acquired by United Railway Historical Society in 1991. It has been meticulously restored to its historic appearance. If you ever get a chance to ride, by all means, do it!

Mandy

Once in a while…

It even happens at home.

We had an arborist come by to look at some problems with a few of our trees. Around here, the bagworms (no, not tent caterpillars with the white ‘tents” up in deciduous tree, but little brown bags with a caterpillar inside, located on the ends of evergreen branches) have been very bad this year, and they’ve eaten a lot of the needles on one of the trees.

I contacted a local tree service, and was addressed as sir, even once they had my now-used-by-females first name. Guess the voice is still male, no matter what I do to disguise it. We set up an appointment for the arborist to come by the next morning.

When I got up for the appointment, I wore white capris, my black pleated v-neck blouse, and my flats – in case I had to go out in the yard. The arborist rang the bell, and when I answered, he did not use a gender-specific greeting. No issue whatsoever, just no such greeting. And that was fine.

As it turned out, I seemingly caused some confusion. In the correspondence and quotation which we subsequently received, we were listed as Ms. and Ms. Needless to say, I do not plan to correct them. And when they come out to do the work, we’ll see what greeting they use for both of us!

Mandy

Ferroequinology…

Many of us on the US East Coast are Pennsylvania Railroad fans…it’s one of my two favorite railroads; These two pictures were taken in Altoona, PA.   I was visiting their Altoona Railfest, held back in October of 2001.  Except for the black NS unit on the left, and the blue Conrail unit in the top center of the first picture, these both could have been taken back in the 50’s, or any time up till things went south for the PRR.

The E-units below were beautifully restored by a private party in Philadelphia, and Railfest arranged for the use of some commuter passenger equipment through Amtrak, along with a few restored privately-owned cars, for several runs each day around Horseshoe Curve, through the tunnels, around the loop near Gallitzin, and back around the Curve in the other direction. It was a fun train ride…

Too bad those trips are no longer operated….

Mandy

Congratulations. It's a girl!

Since not much has been going on lately, I’ve been thinking back about my fun makeover a number of years ago, it reminded me of a special adventure, which took place courtesy of my supportive seamstress from the other side of the bay (who had been altering my clothes for a long time). I asked whether she could come up with a pretty “just-above-the-knee” lightweight summer dress that fit me properly. She thought for a few seconds, smiled devilishly (that should have been my first clue), and said “Yes indeed, sweetie…and it’ll be one which really flatters your figure.”

Easy request. Sounds simple, right? Ummm…Perhaps not so much…

It took a while for everything to come together (think in terms of months). When she had everything ready, she made sure I would be wearing needed underthings (a second clue?), and a date was set for my unveiling.  On the appointed day (with wife out west, visiting her sister), she ushered me into her dressing room. Then she handed me a very pretty blue polka-dot, lace-trimmed, sleeveless short dress, which I casually mentioned looked much too big for me.  She gave me that silly grin (third clue??), said “you know me better than that,” left the room, and and came back with a large package. “Congratulations, sweetie. You’re now 8 months pregnant…and it’s a girl, confirmed by an ultrasound two months ago.”  I opened it and OMG – it contained a big and very realistic silicone pregnancy belly. 

I decided on the spur of the moment that “In for a penny, in for a pound.” It’s a new experience. Why not try it? She helped me fasten it on, and “now let’s get you into your pretty new dress.”  I had wondered about the measurements she took during prior visits – but as it turned out, instead of sewing it herself, she simply altered an abandoned maternity dress to fit me, to keep the cost down. Estimating what my size would be with the belly in place was her challenge, and she added an inch of pretty lace around the hem to give the illusion of more length…which could be removed quickly if necessary to shorten it. The result was amazing. It fit perfectly, and she described how she did it, while I stared at the pregnant girl (me) in the mirror. 

She was right – it was a perfect outfit for this heavyset girl.  My extra pounds morphed into the figure of a pregnant woman. She told me “you look so pretty, that you should be pregnant all the time!” I was nervous as a kitten.

I have to admit I’d never before (or since) worn such a short dress. Nor have I ever felt so thoroughly undressed. Nothing was covered except the essentials. My legs, arms, shoulders and neck/top of chest were all on display, with a hemline she told me she precisely measured and shortened to cover “only that which must be legally covered, and not one millimeter more.”   And the chunky sandals I chose to teeter on that day finished my “look.”

She gave me a big grin and a hug as I stepped into the main room of her shop, blushing bright red again whenever I saw myself in the big mirror. “You must never forget what you are (or more appropriately aren’t) wearing. But you’ll soon come to realize how much more you prefer wearing short dresses above all else.”

Standing there tugging on my hem as we talked, did absolutely nothing to lengthen my dress. She smiled with satisfaction at every tug, and reminded me that “nothing you do makes it any longer, girlfriend. You’ll get used to showing off those legs.” But at least the habit lets me concentrate on feeling that somehow, I’m protecting my modesty.

She suggested that I step out in the morning sunshine to get used to feeling the breeze on my legs. I took her suggestion and learned that my dress behaved itself much better than I thought it would. Initially I had feared having to imitate Marilyn Monroe’s famous pose in the slightest breeze…but that wasn’t the case.

I walked around in front of the shop for a few minutes, feeling quite naked, but enjoying the smiles and waves from mostly female passers-by. Then I went back inside, expecting to change back into my pants and top for my day of errands. She noticed and smiled sympathetically, but confessed that she had just spirited them away for safekeeping. “Now that you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t be surprised that your old clothes don’t fit. Come back wearing your pretty dress the next time you’re in the neighborhood, to pick them up.”  

“Mommy, you have lots of errands to run, and you need to start enjoying the advantages of your new dress. I’ve got to get back to work. So, have fun showing the boys those pretty legs you’ve been hiding all these years. And don’t forget to go shopping for another maternity dress, so you have something else to wear.” Then she, wearing slacks and a long-sleeve blouse, grabbed me by my bare arms and escorted (translation – literally dragged) a beet-red and very self-conscious me out to my car. I blushed as I looked at her and told her I was soooooo jealous of her pants and blouse. She just laughed at me. “You’re going to love the attention you get from being pregnant, girl.”

She blocked the view from the road, while I made my first “grand car entrance.” That was much appreciated – particularly her helpful guidance about keeping my knees together and putting both legs in the car at the same time! Before I left, she said “By the way, my shop will be closed all next week, so enjoy your extended pregnancy!” (In retrospect, I think she planned it that way!!)

I’m truly glad she hid my pants outfit. Even though it wouldn’t have fit me, its absence drove home the point that I was now, and would be for over a week, a pregnant woman to the world.  Yes, I blushed almost all day. But it was good practice. My new dress kept me on display. I quickly learned to move around without showing more of my “assets” than necessary. And as I was out and about, I noticed that guys ignored my face and baby bump and concentrated on my “leg show,” while women (particularly mothers) smiled knowingly. A few teen girls even commented “love your dress, mommy!”

The only folks able to see my panties for more than a glimpse were two men and three women behind me on an “up” escalator in a mall department store. There was nothing I could do about it for the entire 45 seconds (which seemed like about three hours.) As I stepped off, I looked back and all of them were smiling at me. I bet I know why! So I smiled back – and started to look for elevators…. 

Memory of the many places I went for the next few days escapes me, because they were exclusively in “other towns.” I do remember blushing from some boys flirting with me and checking out my legs at a sandwich shop. I was wearing my engagement ring, but I suspect they read that as “hmmm…an unwed mother!” There was lots of practice getting in and out of the car, and I stopped at a maternity shop to look for a casual maternity dress, to give me some variety over the next week.  

Fortunately, the store wasn’t busy, so the girls took good care of me. Using my existing dress as an model, they selected only above-the-knee styles, with bare arms and shoulders and an open neckline. “You’ll be more comfortable in hot weather, and will get a lovely tan just from shopping.” She was right about both. (Sunscreen would have helped prevent the tan, but I neglected to use it. Thus, I had to keep tops on around the house for several months afterward.)

They picked out this little black number for me, which I ended up buying. Their comment (while I was staring in the mirror, blushing) was: “And the boys will like it, too.” We all got a laugh out of that. I’m glad the seamstress told me how far along my pregnancy was…the girls wanted details.  A believable answer led to 10 minutes of girl talk (many topics, including – of course – our boyfriends – theirs and mine), and the manager invited me back with my next pregnancy, for some lovely early pregnancy outfits. (The two the girls showed me were absolutely adorable!)

I soon learned that the following pic of my dress displays the most comfortable position (cradling my baby bump) with my arms and hands. And, as you might expect, for my entire pregnancy, I didn’t hear the “dreaded S-word” at all. Period. Just Ma’am or Miss.

Attaching my belly took some time, and I proved that sleeping in it wasn’t comfortable. So, I put it on early each morning and stayed pregnant all day. Two long, loose loungers I already owned proved to be comfortable house dresses for this pregnant girl. And I decided to wear makeup…just to finish the look. Passing as a guy was impossible, so I might as well be a pregnant girl around the house.. Fortunately no neighbors rang the doorbell – just two small UPS deliveries to sign for. What a fun experience that was! In hindsight, the only additional thing I could have wished for would have been 20 bright red nails…never even thought of that at the time!

But all good things end eventually. Once my seamstress returned to work, I stopped in as a pregnant female and walked out as the androgynous girl in my own pants and top, carrying my pretty dress. Because neither dress fit me without the belly, and there was no safe place at home to store it (thus I couldn’t attempt to buy it from her), I passed the dresses and sandals on to charity.  The seamstress retired and moved away, and we moved not long after.

Now for the question du jour: would I do it again if the opportunity presented itself? 

A pre-planned photo shoot, at my age? It’s very likely I would, since these are my only pictures. I’ve seen some really cute maternity styles while window shopping, which I’ve envied and would love to wear.

Since my 2012-era “pregnancy”, I’ve acquired more than a few signs of aging. I’m way past my prime “child-bearing years.”  Makeup may work wonders for pictures, but “not necessarily in public presentation.”  HOWEVER…if I were 35 years younger (and not married), that closet door would have long been kicked off its hinges, and my answer would be “yes.” (It would truly be fun to present as an 8-months-pregnant woman during my various excursions.)

Alas, I’m not younger… 😦

Mandy

Not a big lighthouse, just historic.

Concord Point Light was established to warn seafaring vessels away from the treacherous currents and shoals near the mouth of the Susquehanna River. Master builder John Donahoo was responsible for the construction of the lighthouse in his hometown, where he also served multiple terms as a Havre de Grace town commissioner.  It is a 36-foot (11 m) tower that was built in 1827. It is the second oldest tower lighthouse still standing on the Chesapeake Bay. Constructed of Port Deposit granite, the walls are 31 inches (790 mm) thick at the base and narrow to 18 inches (460 mm) at the parapet.  Donahoo also built the keeper’s house across the street.

The lantern was originally lit with 9 whale oil lamps with 16-inch (410 mm) tin reflectors. In 1854, a sixth-order Fresnel lens was installed. This was later upgraded to a fifth-order Fresnel lens. The lighthouse was automated in 1920.

Several members of the O’Neill family served as keepers at Concord Point from 1827 to the mid-1900s. There were other keepers not related to the O’Neills who served as well. The first O’Neill, John, defended the town of Havre de Grace by manning a cannon battery on Concord Point during the War of 1812. Local documents describe the lighthouse area as being “seriously blighted” by 1924, and apparently remained that way for many years. The lighthouse was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1975 and soon after that the lens was stolen. The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Extensive restoration work began in 1979, the keeper’s house has since been restored, and is open to the public as a museum. The lantern room of the tower now has a new fifth-order Fresnel lens on loan from the Coast Guard.  It was installed in 1983.

Concord Point Light is listed as a private aid to navigation.

If you’re in the area, it (and the town) both merit a visit…

Mandy

And the beat goes on…

After my “Once is good” post, I had occasion to drive my wife to a dentist appointment “across the bridge.” My attire was simple and not overly feminine: Tan shorts, black boat-neck tunic, flats, purse, freshly-epilated legs and arms, translucent pink gel fingernails and my purse. Nothing outlandish, just an everyday casual outfit for this girl.

I was walking around the parking lot while my wife was in the dentist’s chair. One of the girls in the office came out the door on her way to her vehicle, saw me and said “I hope we can open the office soon to visitors…it’s much more comfortable there than out here. Who are you waiting for, Ma’am?” I told her my wife’s name, but didn’t use the word wife. And she told me “they should be finished in about 20 minutes. Have a great day, Ma’am.” “You too, Miss.” And she got into her car and drove away.

When wifey came out, nothing was said. She may, or may not know about it. But wait, there’s more!

We stopped at a big box store, to pick up some DVD’s for our recorder. And it was very similar to the scenario I’ve experienced before. I went into the store, the greeter addressed me as female and directed me to the proper department. The clerk there also addressed me as female, answered my question (they didn”t have any DVD’s) and directed me to the camera department. Where there was a repeat performance…almost verbatim. And on the way out, the greeter said as I was leaving “have a nice day, Ma’am.”

Back into the car for a short drive to the office supply store. Same basic drill here: the info desk clerk (20something female) addressed me as female when she answered my question, the clerk back in the rear of the store did the same, and since they had the DVD’s, the clerk who checked me out had the same response. “Thanks, Ma’am and have a nice day!”

I really could get used to this…

Mandy

Once is good…

Twice is better.

But the third time was a charm. 

My story begins three weeks ago, when I dropped off a bag of garbage (which wasn’t completely filled on pickup day) at the dump a few days later.  Dressed in shorts, a boatneck tunic and barely-there sandals with my white toe nails, I was alone for that visit.   The 60something attendants didn’t pay me much mind – they were both sitting in their chairs – and my purse remained in the car as I heaved the bag of garbage into the dumpster, but at least I wasn’t addressed as sir.  That was good.

At the end of the next week, wifey and I dropped off a bunch of heavy stuff at the dump.  The attendants didn’t offer to help, which was fine.  (As old as they looked, I’d have been concerned for their health if they had offered.)  Wifey and I took care of it. But when they saw me move the portable metal air tank out of the trunk (which I used to keep the load from shifting enroute and scratching the sides), one of them jumped up (well, more like creakily got up) and hobbled to the car.  “Ladies, are you planning on disposing of that?  If so, it goes over there,” pointing to another bin. I told him “No worries, sir.  It was only used to keep the load from shifting.”  “Oh, ok Ma’am.”  And he hobbled back to his chair as we returned the tank to the trunk.

Today I had another load of stuff for them, because the garbage men missed picking up the contents of one of our cans.  So I ran the bags to the dump by myself.  One of the old guys was there, but this time, his co-worker was much younger – like early 50something.  As I drove up, the older guy asked me:  “Ma’am, were you and another lady here about 5 days ago?”  “Yes, sir.”  “Welcome back.”  “Thanks, sir.” Then he said “You can stay in the car, Ma’am, just pop the trunk.  George, help the lady.” So he did…I didn’t have to lift a finger!  Nice!!!

But daggonit – they never even got to see my capris and flats! Now I can’t wait for the next dump run!

Mandy