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Some new staff – and residences - at Mom’s nursing home…and naturally, I hear “Ma’am” a bit more often than I usually have.   But that’s not a problem, and with Mom’s hearing (or more appropriately, lack thereof) it isn’t an issue for her, either.

I’ve been going to physical therapy for an issue, and I was “Miss-identified.”  But there’s no doubt I had been clocked.  Their only male therapist interpreted me as a guy (still does) and addresses me accordingly.   I don’t challenge it – my records say “M” and he’s following that lead.  But their female therapists give me the same level of care, and refer to me as female.   Don't you just love it!?

Recently, for a visit to a new-to-me diagnostic center for a test I needed, the nurses referred to me as female, and even asked me if I would need a moment to remove my bra.  Of course I had to say that wasn’t necessary.   Very true statement…   As I checked out afterwards, the desk clerk finally figured out my real gender…but it took a while.

Wife and I were out and about on the Delmarva and came across this old bay window caboose, sitting off to the side of someone’s front yard, near the Delaware/Maryland state line.  My wife initially spotted it and we stopped along the road…




While I didn’t get close enough to it that I could look inside - where it’s likely the car number would appear (I was wearing my white slide sandals, which I chose to “not” ruin by railfanning in them), from the very faded green exterior color it appears to be a Penn Central cast-off.  The trucks which were sitting beside it, appeared to be roller bearing equipped, making it less obsolete.  (In modern railroading, “cabeese” have become obsolete, regardless of their age.)  

If any railfans read this and recognize the railroad from whence it came, or the caboose itself, please feel free to comment.

From the amount of iron oxide (rust) visible on the carbody and roof, (translation: rust) and the fact that the caboose appears to be sitting on dirt, this would appear to be a major restoration job.  But why do I have the feeling that one day in the not-too-distant future, instead of a restoration crew, the local scrapper will be getting a call?
Later,
Mandy
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Not to mention interesting…and add another first to the list.   Being on the downstream side of a dam during the opening of spillways due to flooding.

After driving over the Conowingo Hydroelectric Dam on the Susquehanna “westbound”, I followed some back roads to the visitor’s park just downstream from the dam itself.  I’ve driven US-1 over the dam (very narrow 2-lane public road on the breast of the dam) a number of times, but just found out about the park a couple weeks before the trip.  It has a fabulous view of the facility and the spillways (and for anyone driving a Tesla, charging stations for them!)  

When I arrived on the property, first thing I noticed was a sign warning that vultures may damage cars…I saw a bunch of those critters, but they didn’t damage anyone’s car that I know of.  There sure were a lot of them, though…likely preying on dead fish, resulting from their trip over the spillways.   No need for vultures to strip the vinyl off convertible tops with the smorgasbord in the river…


Once I found a suitable parking spot and got out of the car, I heard sirens going off…you don't hear much with the windows up and the AC running.  Signs everywhere revealed the meaning of this: more spillways were being opened to lower the level of the river behind the dam, due to recent heavy rains.  We were not required to evacuate, as it was only going to raise the water level below the dam a little bit. But this was definitely another first: being on the downstream side of a dam as spillways were being opened.


As you can see, a bunch of walkways were closed (below), with water already over them.


I walked as close as I could get to the dam, then headed back for my car - a fairly good hike.  Two ladies (not together, and at different times on my way back to the car), stopped me to talk about it.  (They must have seen me get out of it.)  "You have a beautiful car, Ma'am."  And each one talked with me for a few minutes.  Mandy was certainly lovin' it! 

After getting back in the car and re-crossing the dam going east, my task was to hunt for a suitable cornfield to do a quick change back into white shorts, and out of my skirt.  No problem.  A lot of high corn in southern PA, so it didn't take long.   Done sadly, of course...

And a couple hours later, I was back home again...putting the car away after another wonderful trip.
And now I'm awaiting the chance to do it again!

Till next time,

Mandy




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Time to go home…I got up early, dressed in the outfit below, and was on the road by 8:30.    On the agenda today were visits to some Pennsylvania sights I have been wanting to see for a long time.


First stop on the way home was in a town by the name of Middletown, PA.  Its main claim to fame seems to be the Three Mile Island nuclear generating facility in the Susquehanna River.  Yes, the same facility which in March of 1979, experienced the largest nuclear power accident in the USA.  It was a near-meltdown calamity in which radiation was released, due to equipment malfunction and human error.  From this serene picture, it’s hard to believe that such a serious issue could have occurred  there.


Enroute south, the road roughly followed the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Port Road Branch, which is still in use, now by the Norfolk Southern Railroad.  Remnants of the dis-used former Pennsylvania Railroad catenary could be seen in places along the way.

Next stop was River Trail Park and Pavilion, a stop on the trail along the Susquehanna River at Marietta, PA.  This picturesque setting (below) provided a great view of the “very high” water level of the fast-moving river, with flooding at the boat launching ramp (see picture).  For some odd reason, nobody was trying to launch their boat!   Had a nice discussion about my car with a male visitor riding his bicycle…because bikers were the only visitors at that time of day…several arrived by car as we were talking.


Then it was off to try to locate Shenk’s Ferry Wild Flower Preserve, about 30 miles south of Middletown.   When I eventually found my way to the entrance of the preserve (much slow driving on poorly paved country roads, which seem to have been the proper width to handle only small Fiats and Minis), I was greeted with a sign stating “Unpaved Road - No Winter Maintenance.”  

Looking at the ruts and humps in the dirt road ahead of me, I could not only believe that statement, but amend it to say “No Summer Maintenance Either.”   It truly looked as if nothing had been done to it since the year my antique car was built…   Not having 4wd with lots of ground clearance, and with nonexistent cellphone coverage in case of getting stuck, I did a 180-degree turn and “got out of Dodge.”  Making the “Queen Mary” turn around on those narrow roads without dropping a tire in the ditch was fun…NOT.  Good thing for power steering – even 52-year-old power steering!

Next stop was the highlight of the day’s sightseeing…in part 3!

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Mandy has been relegated to the suitcase for far too long now, and it was finally time for her to stretch her legs.   Thus, she recently took the antique car to a show in Pennsylvania – requiring two overnight stays, and knowing in advance that the chance of scoring an award was nil.   You gotta do what you gotta do!

I left the house that Friday, wearing ladies’ white shorts and half-sleeve black tunic (wife had not seen it before, but was OK with my wearing it), my white slides, necklace, bracelet and the usual purse, pink nails, and of course, long hair.  I had put on very light makeup at home, but no lipstick.   Not far from the house (deep in a cornfield, of course) I pulled on my dark paisley maxi skirt and took off the shorts, putting 'em into the suitcase residing in the trunk, applied lipstick, earrings and bracelet.   Then it was off to the hotel, about 3-1/2 driving hours away.

There were a couple of stops…one for gas, and one for a snack.  There was no problem being identified as female.  I elected to not do any sightseeing; instead, going straight to the hotel.
That got me into town at about 4PM.

Checking into the hotel was fun…friendly clerk, had to see my driver’s license.  Nonetheless, despite the “M” showing, I was presumed to be – and addressed as - “Ma’am.”  I stopped at a gas station which offered subs and sandwiches, and picked up a quick dinner, to be eaten in the room.  “Is that all, Ma’am?” 

Up early on car show morning.  The weather was perfect for a show.   Sunny, warm and breezy. I dressed in white capri pants with a gray logo tee, and my white slides, but I had white sneakers in the car in case of wet grass…and needed them.   Ran into some people I know, had a good time talking with them, and as expected, didn’t win anything.  Typically, sporty 2 door hardtop models with 4-speeds, bucket seats, consoles and other fancy accoutrements do better than 2 door pillar coupes without them (like mine), so this was inevitable.  But win or not, it was a perfect test run for the car, which worked fine.

After the show, I retreated to the hotel for a quick shower and to do some searching for dinner. 
I dressed in this outfit for dinner…actual picture is from my archive - the one I took on the trip didn't work out.




My first choice of venue was apparently the best show in town, as locals were lined up at the door.  And I was too hungry to be willing to standing out front for any length of time to be seated.  Unfortunately other sit-down restaurants (my second and third choices) were either closed, serving Mexican food, or were pizza places.  Thus I ended up at a fast food shop…where the hamburger was good, as were my onion rings.  And the compliments about my car: "Gorgeous car, Ma'am!" 

After dinner, I stretched out on the bed to watch the telly for a while, and fell asleep, getting up only long enough to change into my nightie.  

More to follow in part 2!

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As you may have noticed, lately I’ve not been on-line much…things have been much too busy.  And other than my normal mode of androgynous dressing, very little has involved Mandy.   She has remained “in the suitcase” for the entire time.   No skirts or dresses in public.  (Only around the house…where it is tolerated.)

For the entire month, I was dressed in my everyday outfits: women’s tops, shorts or capris, and flats or sandals.  I carried my usual purse, my fingernails were the usual light pink, and my toes in a darker color to hide repairs to the two broken nails.   And of course, there was my long hair…

 I was involved with getting ready for the trip to our son’s place in TN for a while prior to departure.  Our visit was from the last week in May until nearly mid-June.   These trips tend to be lengthy, due to the long driving distance.  Once we were enroute (two days of driving), there were a number of occasions when I was Miss-identified by clerks, and so on.  It was not a problem for me, and fortunately my wife was not nearby when it happened.

A couple of times, in the men’s restroom, a guy would enter, take a look at my long hair and turn around to leave.  I usually tell them “don’t worry, you got the right place.”   They turn around and come on in, looking relieved that they hadn’t gone into the girls’ room by mistake!

I was with our son (who as you may remember has long hair, but with a beard) while shopping for some home supplies at a home supply store.  After locating a clerk, we found that he Miss-identified me as our son’s mother.  Son took it in stride, corrected the guy, and life went on.  And nothing was said…we’ve had the discussion about us both being identified as female – from the back.   All he has to do is turn around, and – oops, male - no question, case closed.  With me, not so much – I refuse to grow facial hair and look older.  (Not to mention the other issue - femininity.)

Another incident happened at his under-construction home.  I was there, helping out with some incidental issues. He had called for a pick-up of the construction-debris dumpster.  And when the driver arrived, the driver automatically addressed me as “his mother.”  I was truly flattered, but son politely straightened him out, too…and once again, nothing further was said.

There were several other similar “incidents”, with nobody from family present, and I simply responded as a female, with softer and more feminine voice.   And even though I wasn’t wearing a dress, my attire was sufficiently feminine to be accepted as female.  Would I have preferred to be wearing dresses?   Sure!   Was I clocked?  Most likely.  But nobody reacted badly, and overall, it was a good experience.

I took fewer pictures on this trip, than on any other recent one.  And none that I can include here.  But we were busy with things at the house, so that was to be expected.  Perhaps next time will be better…

Thanks for coming back to read my freshly-updated blog…

Mandy

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...to spend a lunch hour with our son, who was in town for business.

While waiting for him to finish up the morning's work, we took a few minutes to visit the Baltimore Basilica, or more accurately, thew Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.   According to the internet, it was the first Roman Catholic cathedral built in the US (between 1806 and 1863, designed by Benjamin Harry Latrobe under the guidance of the first American bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, John Carroll).  And it was among the first major religious buildings constructed in the nation after adoption of the US Constitution.  It is one of the seats of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, and is a parish church and national shrine.



The main facade is classical Greek architecture, with ionic columns, immediately behind which are two cylindrical towers.  Exterior walls are constructed of silver-gray gneiss quarried in Ellicott City, MD.  Unfortunately it was impossible to get a full front picture, but this gives you the idea....






The interior contains a massive dome at the crossing of the Latin cross plan, and the very light-filled space designed by Latrobe is strikingly opposed to the dark and cavernous recesses of traditional Gothic cathedrals.


When we got the call that our son was ready, we weren't far away, and proceeded to take him to a nearby eatery for a good lunch.  Too bad our visit couldn't have been longer!
Mandy
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There was a get-together recently at the nursing home, for residents and their guests.   Mom was not in a great mood, and given her lack of memory, she really didn't know what was going on.   Not only that...she really didn't want to go to the party.  However, staff had made sure she was dressed, and I made sure she went.   
They threw a nice party for us (25 residents and about 35 - 40 guests), with decent finger foods, though the pop machine was broken so folks had to drink coffee, tea, etc.  A new volunteer passed out carnations to all the ladies...and since I got one, she thought I was a lady!  Guess I looked enough like a girl for her...even though I was wearing stirrup pants, not capris.   
We sat at a table with two ladies from FL (one a temporary resident, the other a guest - not sure what caused her to be there)  and they and I talked.  They complained about the cold here - I complained about the heat in FL.  We were Even Steven!   And while we chatted, Mom caught up on her shut--eye, as usual.  I managed to keep her awake long enough to get her to eat a cookie and drink 3/4 of a cup of coffee, in a more animated moment.


I took Mom back to her room afterwards, put the carnations they gave us in a vase with some water, stayed with her a while, then went home, and the wife and I went out for dinner.  Tried a new restaurant along Route 50.   Decent food, decent price, and once you find the way out of it to get back on 50, it's not too bad.

I heard "Ma'am" a few times from guests who didn't know me,  and basically, had a good time with the group.  Nice folks...

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Remember the trans-phobic clerk I encountered a few posts back?

As I mentioned before, I've been in that store several times and he was not on duty.   Today I found out why...and as you read this, recall that most of the staff know me as a guy, despite my appearance.   Which today was tan capris, a ladies' black polo shirt and my new sandals.  As follows:




While I was checking out, the female manager came by, ostensibly to observe the female clerk doing a check-out.  That clerk went to check a price (perhaps her exit was pre-planned, I'll never know), and the manager took that occasion to apologize to me for their employee's completely unacceptable behavior the other day.  Her words were "I was standing nearby, and when I realized he had "come  unglued," was so totally embarrassed by his actions that I couldn't think.  I didn't know whether to run back to the office, or crawl under a table.  I'm so glad you stood firm, handled it well, and didn't let his ignorance overwhelm you.  And I made the decision to both fix the problem, and try to make it right for you."

"You don't need to worry - he won't be doing that to you - or anyone else - in the future, as he no longer works here.  Our employees know that his actions regarding anyone, customer or otherwise, are unacceptable, regardless of the individual's gender presentation, or anything else, for that matter.  And anyone making the same mistake here, knows the fate they will promptly meet."

My response: "Needless to say, I wasn't pleased when it happened, but I dealt with it as I saw fit at the time.  I  figured management either heard, or would soon be told, of the incident, and was confident that proper action would be taken.  I wondered if you had already handled the situation, because the clerk has been conspicuous by his absence.   Thank you for doing what needed to be done.  I really appreciate that."
 
"We hope you'll continue to shop here.  And to thank you for being a customer, here's a gift card as a small token of our appreciation."

"Wow, thank you.  I'm here talking to you today, so it can serve to tell you that I realize one bad apple did not spoil the barrel.  As MacArthur said back in the war years - I shall return."  Her response: "Thank you so much, on behalf of all of us."  "You're quite welcome!"

At no time did she - or the other clerks - use any gender-specific terms for me...but that's OK.  Most of them (correction...now all of them) know I'm a guy.  When the clerk returned with the price, and rang it up, she said "Thanks for being our customer."

I've always been OK with "no gender-specific forms of address."   There''s no need to fake a "Ma'am" when I'm known....just don't blow my cover with innocent bystanders by using "Sir" while I'm clearly wearing a feminine outfit.   Let bystanders figure that out on their own.  But let the record show that if any clerks choose to call me "Miss" or "Ma'am" I'm fine with it!

This particular saga has now concluded, since the biggest part of the problem was resolved.  To quote that now-infamous line from The Apprentice: "You're fired!"  You never EVER dream you'll end up on the front line of the LGBTQ issue...and it happens when you least expect it.   Fortunately, this was one small victory, though an integral part of a much bigger conflict.

One small step at a time...

Till later,

Mandy


PS: if the fired clerk was married, can you imagine the conversation over dinner that night?

"How was your day, dear?"

"Oh, it was OK, but I just got fired."

"Really?  What happened?  Did you get laid off?" "Well, some guy with long hair came in wearing women's clothes and looking like a girl.   After I asked him which he was, and he told me, I tried to convince him that he should start to look and act like a man, not a woman.   And I almost got to the point of reciting Deuteronomy, to show him that God doesn't like it.  But he cut me off."

"So I guess he didn't care for your suggestion."  "No, and staff and management heard my too-loud sermon,  so they fired me."  "Well, you need to get out there and find another job immediately, so you can support us...the rent is due in 3 weeks. And with your next job, for God's sake - and ours - stop trying to change people!  Living in the car (at least till it gets repossessed), won't be much fun, particularly with 2 small kids."
So true...
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The new sandals arrived, without fanfare.   I opened the box, and tried them on.  And they seemed reasonably comfortable.    I wore them shopping, to the nursing home, and the hair salon.  But they may take a bit of "breaking in."



The band stretched out a bit, so I may have to tighten the buckles soon.   Their wedge heels are fine, but they make a more feminine click than my other sandals do, especially on steps.  Nice!   Then,
back to the office supply store for a pic, as the sun was good in their parking lot....    I'm looking forward to wearing them again.  

My wife asked how they fit, and I gave them "about a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being perfect.  The other white sandals, which I wore yesterday, are about 8 or 9."  "But you've only worn these for a day."  "True.  If the comfort level remains at 5, or goes up even a little, I probably will order the black ones, and see if they're any better.  If not,  they'll go back. 

Since I've worn these tan ones, I'll keep them.   Even if they don't fit perfectly, this pair will be fine, and can be worn for half-day periods.  But I'll keep looking for different styles of sandals...

Mandy

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This was taken the first day this season that I was out running my errands in sandals.  (And I know it won't be my last...)   No, these aren't my new ones.


At the nursing home, Mom thought they were new, despite the fact that I've had these for several years.  I guess they still look good.  And they're very comfortable.  I had them on all day, and didn't want to take them off!  Though I've found that it's impossible to walk quietly in them...    The new receptionist at the nursing home came out of the back room...commented that she "heard your footsteps and wanted to see who was coming or going.   Love your sandals, Ma'am."   I guess I look - and sound - like a girl in those sandals. 

In another town, I stopped at an office supply store to pick up some things.  I said "good morning" to a lady in the parking lot and her reply was "Good morning to you as well, Ma'am."


One of the staffers addressed me as "Ma'am" but the check out clerk (a twentysomething male) took the safe route and omitted any gender-specific references.

I had tried out my new sandals, and they fit.  My wife was surprised to see that I hadn't worn them.  "You will tomorrow, and the rest of the week, right?  That way you'll know if they really fit, before we invest in the other colors."
Yes, I will...gotta answer that question.
Mandy
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