What a pleasant surprise!

Yesterday I was out shopping, and had only two stops to make.  One was at the Post Office to buy some stamps.  Since Wifey is comfortable with my wearing housedresses around the house, but not “out and about,” it was time to do a quick change.   I threw on the first thing I found – dark stirrup pants, a long mockneck tunic, sweater, and ballet flats without pantyhose…substantially like the below archive photo:  

Needless to say, “the joint was hopping” when I arrived, and I had to stand in line for service.  Distanced, and masked, of course….  Several women were chatting and they appeared to be in line.  So I asked “Ladies, are you in line?”  Without so much as a concern about my gender, one of them looked at me and said “No Ma’am, we’re not.  Feel free to go around us.”  “Thank you so much, Miss (she appeared to be in her twenties.).  And they kept on talking…

When I finally got to the counter, the clerk (who knows me but couldn’t avoid hearing my conversation with the women) asked “Good morning. May I help you, Ma’am?”  Wow.  I wasn’t even trying to “pass” today!   (But, the true test will be whether he continues identifying me as female! We can hope…)

But wait, there’s more.

One additional stop was needed: the hardware store. Once inside, I didn’t know where the product I wanted was located.  So I inquired, and the 20something male clerk said “Ma’am, go to aisle five and it’s on the bottom shelf right side.” “Thanks, Sir.”  But I walked right past the product.  He saw that I was having trouble finding it…I heard him call “Ma’am!”  I respond quickly to feminine forms of address…”Yes, Sir?”  “Here they are, Ma’am” and he put the product in my hand.  “Thank you so much…I walked right past it!  If it were a snake, it would have bit me!” “Let’s both be glad it wasn’t, Ma’am!  Now you have a wonderful day.”  “You too, Sir!”

The fun wasn’t over yet.  A female clerk not connected with the above said in passing:  “Thanks for shopping with us, Ma’am.”  “You’re welcome, hon.”  And at the checkout counter – “I’ll take care of you over here, Ma’am.”   I gave her my account number, and she asked me if I was (insert my male name – which is now females only). “Yes, that’s me, Ma’am.”  When she handed me back my credit card, I made sure my pink fingernails were visible. 

She noticed.  “I love your manicure, dear.  My nails are too plain (she spread her hands/fingers out), and I don’t wear polish…I should keep them as nice as yours.   If I might ask, where do you have them done?”  I told her, and she said “If I went in and asked for then to do mine  ‘just like you do Miss _________’s nails’, would they be able to duplicate them?”  Since I’m Miss _______ to the girls at the salon, I replied “I think so.  Just make sure you specify manicure – my pedicure is so much different”.  I slipped out of my ballet flats and she looked over the counter – and loved it.  “Black is for winter – I wear white all summer with my sandals!”  “I’m sold, Miss _________!  I’ll stop by soon.”

People had showed up in line, so our girl talk session had to end.  And I slipped back into my shoes. But it was fabulous! 

Now to await the next surprise…

Hugs,

Mandy

OMG!!!

A couple days after my ill-fated “non-appointment with the dentist” and subsequent afternoon stuck on the highway due to snow, I had to visit a local bank to review some papers with our newly appointed banker.  I was wearing tan stirrup leggings and a royal blue turtleneck. It’s the same style which the techs at my nail salon think could be a cute dress for me (if I wear tights underneath), a sweater, lugged ankle booties and waterproof insulated jacket (it was still cold enough that there was snow on the ground.)

When I drove into the parking lot, it was snow-and-ice-covered and very slippery in places.  A tall, heavyset man walked up, addressed me as “Ma’am” and inquired if I was on bank business, which I could honestly say I was. Then (I almost fell over from shock, not the ice) he offered me his arm, so he could escort me into the bank due to the slippery conditions.  OMG – whatever the reason, this was absolutely – positively – a first! Never before have I been offered a man’s arm!

Of course, having spent years living in snow-states, I’m perfectly capable of dealing with ice myself, and was wearing proper footwear, so I thanked him profusely and politely declined, since I was in my home town.  (If I’d worn my ballet flats – I would have had no choice but to take his arm!) In reality, I don’t think I’ve ever paid attention to the female way of being escorted by a man! Is that something I should learn for the future?

He walked right beside me all the way to the front door, as if poised to grab my arm or put his arm around my waist in case I slipped.  Wow! It turned out he was the branch manager, watching out for the safety of his customers until the sidewalks and driveway clearing had been completed!  Anything to avoid lawsuits due to the inclement weather! But it was still very validating.

I had to wait for my appointment with the clerk. Fortunately, boss man was not close by when I began my conversation with the clerk, who had avoided any gendered greeting until after asking about the woman named on the account with me.  “She’s my wife.”  For the rest of my visit, she addressed me by the dreaded S-word.  But that was OK…it’s true, confirmed by my photo ID, and best of all, the manager didn’t hear!

After finishing at the bank, I stopped by the liquor store to pick up a lottery ticket celebrating the completion of my arduous trip home from the other side of the bay.   When I walked in (wearing a mask), the 40something male clerk addressed me as a woman.  But halfway through the transaction, after I said “here you go” (perhaps it was not my best “soft” voice) and handed him the cash. As he was looking at the cash register, I heard “thank you, Sir.” (Needless to say, didn’t win anything from the lottery!) 😦

Not quite sure how to deal with the situation, I instinctively responded in my clearly softer, less masculine voice: “No worries, Sir.  That happens occasionally.  I should have worn a dress today, but it’s cold outside.”  “I’m so sorry, Ma’am…you look very pretty just as you are. Please come back soon!”   I thanked him, and we wished each other a Happy New Year as I left. 

Today was totally validating, even with the “oops” at the second stop! But…   Could this the 2022 version of that old adage about “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”? Or perhaps 2022 may be off to a good start?

Let’s hope so!

Mandy

From the archives…

The Northern Central Railway, the route Steam Into History operates over, was a vital transportation artery during the Civil War.  The line ran between Harrisburg, PA and Baltimore, MD, providing a direct route by which federal troops and supplies were shuttled to the southernmost reaches of Union territory. The railroad’s strategic importance was understood by the Confederates and as such it was targeted by rebel troops during Lee’s Invasion of the North in June 1863.   

The railway was pressed into military service shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg, transporting wounded troops to distant metropolitan hospitals in York, Baltimore, and Harrisburg. Several months later, President Lincoln and other dignitaries traveled over the line on their way to commemorate the Soldier’s National Cemetery at Gettysburg where Lincoln delivered his now famous address. The president and company boarded their private train in Baltimore and journeyed north over Northern Central tracks to Hanover Junction where they changed trains to continue West. The depot at Hanover Junction where Mr. Lincoln changed trains still stands today.  Much of the surrounding countryside has remained relatively unchanged since Lincoln’s historic journey.

The Steam into History train consists of three passenger coaches, one of which is converted to an open-air car through the summer and fall. During each excursion, interpreters in period wardrobe offer historical commentary for passengers. Narration provides insight into the importance of the railroad and its neighboring communities during the Civil War years and thereafter.

#17 is a reproduction of an American type (4-4-0) locomotive, a type common on North American railroads in the mid to late 19th Century. It was custom built by the Kloke Locomotive Works between 2010 and 2013 to designs based on O’Connor Engineering blueprints for the replica Union Pacific #119 and Central Pacific “Jupiter”, both of which currently operate at the Golden Spike National Historic Site in Utah (you can see photos of them on the Golden Spike NHS page of this website).

David H. Kloke, owner of Kloke Construction and Kloke Locomotive Works, started in construction work in Wisconsin during the 1970s. He moved to Illinois twenty years ago and set up shop in Elgin, where he also built another 4-4-0, the “Leviathan” #63.

It’s a worthwhile day out if you have the opportunity!

Mandy

Another great day…

The morning after the snowstorm, I got a call from my dentist’s office about the appointment for which I showed up (having stayed in a nearby motel overnight), but for which they were closed unexpectedly.  And as usual, the receptionist addressed me as Ms. Sherman.  For the whole conversation.  We set an appointment to go back for the procedure I had been deprived of.  That’s wonderful…

Now segue to the day of arrival there…wearing tan stirrup leggings, one of my new blue turtleneck tunics, black tights, tan ballet flats, blue sweater and my usual purse, long hair, long nails, etc.  Right from the get-go, staff once again addressed me as Ms. Sherman.  This is fabulous – I love it.  And while the dentist himself knows me, and my birth gender, he basically omits any gender references, which is fine by me.   Sounds almost as though they are considering me as having transitioned!

A couple days later, when I called to see if the receipt they couldn’t provide  the day of my appointment (due to computer issues) could be emailed to me, the accounting representative advised “Ms. Sherman” that it had already been mailed.   Nice!

Now segue ahead, to the day of my badly-needed nail appointment.  It was time for a fill and pedicure, with reinforcing for the broken toe nails.  I wore my white stirrup leggings and one of my brown turtleneck tunics with a cardigan over it.  Things got off to a rewarding start when the girls addressed me as “Miss Amanda” as they helped me take my cardigan off and got me seated for the pedicure. 

When she finished the pedi, my tech helped me out of the chair, and noticed my turtleneck tunic as I shuffled to the nail table in the paper flip-flops they put on you. “That’s a cute tunic dress!  But why are you wearing pants?  Leave the pants at home, wear a pair of contrasting opaque tights, some 3” heels, and you’ll look 10 years younger!”  My response: “Do you really think that would be appropriate for someone my age?  It’s obviously above-the-knee, and you’re younger than I!” “Sure, as long as you wear opaque tights underneath to protect your modesty.  After all, every girl wants to look cute, right?” Then came some lovely girl talk while my nails were being done!

I admit that it’s an interesting idea… But in reality, I’m not sure I’m that brave! 

Mandy

PS: I suspect the fact that my given name is now universally known as being exclusively for females has been a huge advantage. It’s harder to be identified as a male when you’re dressed in female clothes AND have a female name. Masking is also a big help…saves wearing full makeup, to which Wifey would likely take exception! This looks like it’s shaping up to be a fabulous year…

What a way to start the New Year!

I had cracked an existing dental crown before our trip, and an appointment with my dentist (on the mainland, not the Delmarva) had been scheduled for shortly after we returned from our trip to have a replacement procedure started.

Then a few days ago, the weather forecast for appointment day came out – for our first snowstorm of the winter/new year.  Our car has all-wheel drive, but even so, I wasn’t anxious to put it to the test. So I elected to go across the bay the day before my appointment and be available just a few miles from the dentist, figuring salt crews would be out before I was done with my appointment.

When I packed my bag, I added my red print skirt to the suitcase, and made sure I was wearing black tights under my leggings – yes, I’ve added a couple pairs of “stirrup-less women’s form-fitting leggings” to my daywear wardrobe without issue, and plan to add some more.  The drive west was uneventful, and I picked up dinner (and the following day’s lunch in the form of a cold hoagie) in case of an emergency.  Then I checked into the motel without issue.  The desk clerk omitted any gender-specific greeting but was very friendly.

Upon getting into the room, I changed into my skirt with tights, ballet flats, a turtleneck tunic and a sweater – the room was cold and it took time for the heat pump to warm it up.  While it’s not a dress, it’s a great casual outfit.

I’d forgotten to bring something in from the car, so I had to go back downstairs to get it.  As I came back in from the parking lot, the desk clerk started a small conversation about the weather forecast for the upcoming storm, addressing me as “Ma’am.”  Nice!  And I watched the telly till retiring early that evening.

The next morning, I woke up early, and it was raining hard.  However, the forecast said it would change over around 7.  And it did.  By 7:30 in the morning, the forecasted snow began.  And it came on fast, with significant accumulation – building toward 6” of heavy, wet snow.  I packed quickly, then tried to call the dentist’s office, but they were apparently closed. No appointment today for sure.  I checked out of the motel (and was recognized as female even without the skirt), drove by the dentist’s and the office was dark.  So I started home, wearing the same leggings outfit worn the day before. 

About 15 miles down the road, after driving on ice-and-snow, seeing cars/trucks (including 4 wheel drive vehicles) in ditches and/or plowed snow banks, trees down, and so on, I came upon stopped traffic on the 6 lane highway toward home.  I’m from a northern state and unlike those from down south, learned to drive on snow and ice – driven gently, 4WD/AWD simply makes it safer. Hotshots (proven that day) get stuck.

All 3 lanes eastbound were stopped.  Even though the snow quit about 1:30 (and the sun came out) the jam remained, with only short periods of forward movement.  I had a full tank of gas for warmth, plenty of food and water, and had dehydrated myself all night to minimize needing a toilet “just in case”, so I was all set.  But it’s more than a bit un-nerving when the indicator on the dash tells you that you are getting “two-tenths of a mile per gallon of gas!”  Indeed…

Those of you who watch the news may have seen some footage of similar jams in Virginia. which kept people in their cars for 10-12 hours or more, including some “overnight.” In my case, rumor had it that an 18-wheeler going west skidded over the median and wrecked in the eastbound lanes.  No word of casualties. And have found no confirmation of the cause.

About 3:30PM the “powers that be” apparently decided to open one of the “official use only” turnarounds to divert jammed traffic out of the way.  Soon I found myself heading in the wrong direction, away from home.  Fortunately, I know the area well, and was able to navigate myself around the problem areas, dodging blocked roads, downed trees, vehicles off the road, and I found myself getting home just at sunset. 

What a way to start the new year!

Hugs,,

Mandy

PS: Keep your gas tank full and take some supplies in case it happens to you!

“Another Year”, Part 2!

And the fun went on…

Our son seems to be getting accustomed to me being addressed as “Ma’am.”  It’s happened a number of times when we’re out.  He has long hair as well, and we both accept it as normal.  Of course, when he hears it, he simply turns around and immediately gets an apology from the person once they see his facial hair.  As for me…that wouldn’t work.  I don’t have – and never will – facial hair.  My father did, and he wasn’t concerned that it made him look older than his actual age.  I’m old enough already –  don’t need to add to my apparent age! 

As we were at the grocery store getting food items for meals on the way home (we still carry most of our en-route meals with us, to avoid restaurants) I was pushing the cart and interacted with the staff and cashier.   Wifey was following me since she’s having some leg pain issues.  I asked where certain products were located, and the stock boy appropriately responded with female forms of address. From our conversation at check-out, the clerk could tell we were shopping together.  And after she rang up the order and I paid the bill, she handed me the bag and receipt, then said “Happy New Year, ladies.”  I responded appropriately, and Wifey said nothing.  Did she hear? Don’t know…

Then at our en-route hotel, the front desk clerk, a housekeeper, and the breakfast room attendant (who gave you a choice of items, served them to you on a plate, and sent you back to your room to eat) addressed us both as women.  What a wonderful end to a fabulous visit!

On our way home, we got a text that the older grand just got her ears pierced.  I guess it’s a rite of passage for girls these days.  (And she’s such a girly girl.).  Can’t wait to check them out next time we’re there!

That’s the latest for now…

Mandy

It’s over for another year…part 1

Yes, we had a safe and wonderful holiday with our son and his family!   Being careful helped: we were judicious about where and when we were out, and avoided crowds where possible.  All of us (except the 1-year-old) have been vaccinated/boosted per the CDC guidelines, the weather was warmer than usual; accordingly nobody became sick.  Plus, Santa was good to the grands…such fun!

Our trip south was basically unremarkable.  There was another incident involving a male customer in a rest stop, likely because what used to be “family rest rooms” have become storage areas.  A man and I were headed toward the men’s room, with me just a few steps ahead of him.  Apparently my long hair, purse, leggings, bare ankles and flats “told him” that I was a woman going to the men’s room.  So he pretended to be searching for a brochure in the rack just outside the men’s room, waiting for me to leave before heading in. (The room was empty except for me.)  I’m getting used to that type of reaction.

As usual, there were no issues whatsoever with my daywear from the family. Both granddaughters (the 1-year-old and now the 6-year-old) fawned over my long pink nails.  At different times, they each touched them.  The 6-year-old commented on their pretty shine and smoothness, and wanted to talk about them.  I stalled a bit, and fortunately her mother called her into the kitchen, much to my relief.  That changed the subject (for the time being, of course.)

Earlier in our visit, the 6-year-old had painted her own finger nails each in a different bright color, and I complimented her about how pretty they looked.  I suspect that at some point in the future, she’ll end up wanting to paint mine the same way!  She’s persistent – so I may give in.  And once she’s painted them, you can bet she won’t let me take it off.  Not sure how Wifey will deal with that!

The oldest grand had unexpectedly visited grandma in our room when I came out of the bathroom in my black housedress, barefooted and with black pedi plainly visible. (Didn’t have a choice in the matter – what I was wearing was the only outfit available to me.)   Even though I spent time around her and we talked for a while, she hardly looked at my pedi or dress. No commotion whatsoever! She seemed quite comfortable with it.  But time will tell what she really thinks…LOL!

Stay tuned for more!

Mandy

Favorite Dress?

There haven’t been many opportunities to wear this pretty dress yet. But I love the floral pattern, and it feels so silky to wear. Plus – it doesn’t wrinkle even a little bit, especially when crushed into a suitcase. So it’s great for traveling.

In reality, I think it’s my favorite outfit…or at least it’s in the top two! It works with either black flats or white sandals, and with pantyhose or black tights, so it can be multi-seasonal. Heeled sandals would be fabulous, but given my foot issues, that’s not likely to happen…

I may just have to settle for these cute white sandals spring summer and fall, with black or white nails. And for any solo traveling, with 1″ extensions on my fingers and pretty purple finger and toe nails!

To quote Shania Twain’s song: “Man, I feel like a woman!” Wearing this girly outfit, it’s so easy to feel feminine!

Hugs,

Mandy