Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Too Much of Nothin' and Happy Thanksgiving

With apologies to Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul & Mary for use of their music's title, lately Mandy has seen "too much of nothin" regarding being out and about.

Granddaughter and D-I-L visited us at our place for several days before we all drove to Pittsburgh for a family wedding...that was fun.  The baby is adorable. And a regular chatterbox.   She's learning to talk, and certainly doing better at it than last time we saw her.  We can understand her most of the time nowadays - often without a "translator."

Yes, the wedding was beautiful, and the pretty bride (guess what her first name was - yep - Amanda) wore a pretty dress (guess who was jealous?)  Granddaughter was cute as a button,  and did ok, but was a bit antsy that afternoon, and her mom had to take her out of the sanctuary for the last recessional.  But all in all, we had a great time.

One thing the baby said that we didn't understand (not my wife and I and certainly not the baby's mom) is: what she was asking for that sounded like "I want a beer."   We all did a double-and-triple-take with that...since they don't drink beer, don't have it around the house, and don't drink either beer or hard liquor when out with her.  We don''t have any idea what she wanted or where the phrase came from - unless it was on a TV show!

That may become one of the embarrassing baby stories to tell her when she gets older...

For this little excursion, I wore my sport coat (the one left over from my working days), with a pair of women's slacks, black trouser socks, and flats, with my purse.  On wedding day, I pulled my hair in a pony tail (a gesture for my wife.)  Unlike the last wedding, this time nobody (including the servers) interpreted me as female.   Even though our son (with his long hair) couldn't be there (a work thing interfered), there were other men with long hair, including the bride's stepfather.  So there were no issues...

The rest of the trip, I wore dark stirrup pants with black trouser socks and a turtleneck, with my hair loose.  That's one of my typical winter androgynous outfits.   And the only time anyone  "miss-interpreted" me was on the way home, at the garage where we picked up my car from being serviced.  A new greeter (who didn't know me) assumed I was female.  And was more than happy to answer any questions I might have....yeah right!

Now, back to "too much of nothin'" for a while...


PS:  To all of my readers - best wishes for a Happy Turkey Day....don't eat too much!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My fave secluded spot Part 2:

Fall colors typically arrive late here on the Delmarva...but the leaves are usually all down by Thanksgiving day.   This year is no exception - except that the colors are more muted than normal.   Browns seem to predominate, and the reds and golds are not as brilliant. 

The above and the following pic are among the best colors I've seen on the Delmarva this fall.

Be glad you're not the fish this apparently-hungry (and very majestic) blue heron is eyeing.  He flew from the other side of the inlet as I watched, and "set up shop" on this old, dead tree.  (You can see the tree in my previous picture.)  Unfortunately, I didn't have time to wait around and see if he captured his prey...but he looks quite determined.

This is possibly one of the last clear fall days when colors will be visible.   As I mentioned above, typically it's all over by Thanksgiving.   We've had some sunshine since the day I took this picture, but nothing like the clear blue shown here.

Wonder when we'll see the first snow?


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Not such a great antique show this year... least as far as Mandy is concerned.  There weren't the same opportunities as at some of the previous events.   I guess that's to be expected - especially for something I've been doing for so many years.  

Following is the outfit I wore to dinner on the second night of my trip...

Bear in mind that when I checked into the hotel, wearing the same top, shoes and jewelry but with stirrup pants instead of the capris, I was addressed as "Sir" by the two 20something female desk clerks.  When I entered the hotel restaurant that second night, dressed as above, I may have confused the staff.  A rather generic "You may sit wherever you wish" was my first instruction.  And the server was similarly neutral.  It be took a while for her to figure things out, but by then she apparently went off duty and I didn't see her again for the rest of my meal - at my, or at any - table.

A different server (40something male) took over the table and addressed me properly - as female.   The meal portion was large enough that I couldn't eat it all, so I got a box from the kitchen and took it back to the room - which had a refrigerator and microwave.  (And I brought utensils with me...just in case I might need them.)

For my third day, when I again dressed in stirrup pants, with nylons and a turtleneck, flats and the silver necklace and bracelet shown above, the wife of one of the vendors sought me out to tell me that she owns a couple of pairs of shoes just like mine.  Then she asked how I like them, and initiated a brief but girly discussion, including how comfortable they are (very),  who made them (Clarks), where we both got ours (on line), and so on.  Maybe two minutes of chatter.  The vendor knows my birth gender, and now he's probably been made aware that I wear women's clothes.    But the outfit I had on is the same as I wear everyday, so it really doesn't matter.

And I was addressed as Ma'am a number of times by female attendees who don't  know me...

On that third evening, once again I was not wearing a skirt.  I just wasn't feeling up to par, and with the rain and heavy city traffic, it made no sense to fight the elements.   So, I just stayed in my room.  (And ate the leftovers from the night before.  Yummy!)

In short, I can look forward to next year....when presumably things will be better.

But once back home, the above didn't dim my a store and dressed as above, I used my wife's discount card.  And once again, was addressed by her name.  Happens a lot.  Nice!


Sunday, November 5, 2017

My favorite secluded spot...and my new skirt

There are a ton of places like this on the Delmarva...secluded, without much human activity, and very picturesque.   I found this inlet a couple miles off Rt 50 in Maryland.  There are no occupied houses nearby, and the only sign of human activity is a seldom-used dock with boat launch ramp.  During my visits,  there was never anybody around.  The sounds of tiny waves lapping the shore, wind, birds singing and fish jumping are the only things you hear!  Can't even hear the trucks out on US-50.

A great little place for a few minutes of relaxation...pity I can't get here more than a few times a year!

The water doesn't look to be very deep, which may be the reason I never see any boating activity here (despite the dock.)   But this bird (a crane?) went fishing after the shutter clicked, so there must be plenty for birds to eat in those waters....
Picked my skirt up for a song ($9)  at one of the p[us-size shops on line.  It seems to fit well, and as far as I can tell, it's in line with the current style. 

I can't wait for a chance to wear it out and about...and I was hoping to wear it on my normal annual antique show and sale trip.   But due to circumstances beyond my control, it simply didn't happen the first night...I only had time for these pictures.   And things don't look so good for the other nights...oh, well.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Trip Miscellany and a quick stop at Ft. McHenry

During my recent excursion, I visited the town of Saltillo, PA, a town with 343 residents as of
the 2000 census, and former important stop on the now-abandoned East Broad Top Railroad.

Per Wikipedia, the town got its name from the Mexican War Battle of Saltillo on October 23,
1840.  It was a major tanning center during the late 18th and early 19th century, with
two tanneries in town.  The railroad arrived in 1874.  In addition, there were two short-lived
industries in town:  an iron mine and a limestone quarry, both on the SE side.  In the
early 20th century a large ganister (fine-grained stone used in manufacturing firebrick)
quarry was established on Jacks Mountain above Saltillo, to supply a plant in Mt. Union at the
other end of the railroad.  The EBT had a 3 track yard, water tank and wye in Saltillo, and in
1942 a spur was built to serve the ganister quarry.  It remained in service until the railroad died
in 1956.   The quarry then closed, in 1970.

EBT tracks remain in place, but the water tank burned in the 1980's and the station deteriorated
over the years.  It was reportedly demolished in the mid-2000's due to its decrepit condition.

Below is a picture of the (former?) hotel in town, which is located just across the street from the
site of the train station.  (It looked more like a home, or apartments, to me.)  The narrow gauge
tracks can still be seen peeking out of the grass on the right-of-way and the asphalt on the road
just out of the picture to the right.

Below is the site of the former train depot.   Tracks are just beyond the walkway to the rear.

When I arrived in Robertsdale, I was interested in locating the other town relic - the
Reality Theatre.  As I mentioned in a prior post, it was supposed to contain a museum
about coal mining.   Here is a picture of it...nicely maintained, for a small town of 759
as of the 2000  census.   Though it is now a church...   (If you didn't read the account of
my interaction with the two men inside, check my post of 10/18, part 2 of the saga.)

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the church where the coal mining museum is now
located...     :-(     

At the campground and store by the grist mill, I noticed a rather unusual speed limit sign.
It definitely catches your attention...though I don't think a ticket for going 4-6/10 mph
would stand up in court...LOL!

While I was off chasing "ghost trains," my wife was on an extended visit with her sister in
Chicago, thus when she arrived back in town, I needed to pick her up.  I went into Baltimore a
bit early, planning to visit a few charity shops to look for some things.  But the weather turned
out to be so spectacular that I postponed shopping for another day, and took some time to visit
Fort McHenry, which is important in USA history for many reasons, one of which is that it
was the site where our National Anthem was written.

Trust me, that weather was spectacular!

Needless to say, I was dressed in my normal androgynous manner on my run to Baltimore.
And it worked the way it normally does...I was addressed as a woman while I was visiting
at the Fort, the only place where I interacted with the public.

An interesting sidelight:  I was wearing dangly silver earrings and silver necklace, with
a black stone bracelet of my mother's on my left arm.  (Most of my jewelry comes from her
jewelry box.)  My earrings came off before I picked up my wife, and she's used to my
wearing the necklace.  But I forgot to remove the bracelet.

And nothing was said about it....go figure!  (But I'll be more careful in the future.)

Bye for now...


Sunday, October 22, 2017

On the road (yet again): final.

On my 4th and final day, I took a slight detour to see another piece of history, in a town
with an unusual name: Burnt Cabins, PA.  A grist mill exists there, which was built in
1840 and continues to churn out old-fashioned flour in the same manner as it did back

The town's unusual name came about from the cabins of early settlers in the area being
torched by provincial forces in about 1750, to satisfy Indian protests against white
trespassers on their lands.  So, the name is a reminder of troubled days on the
Pennsylvania frontier.

From Wikipedia, a more detailed summary:  "As a measure of good faith with Native 
American nation and no small degree of "realpolitik" with their French rivals in the area 
comprising what is now western Pennsylvania and the Ohio Country,  British colonies made 
pacts agreeing to keep their settlers east of the Appalachian Mountains.  Despite the official
government position on the matter,  settlers from the east in PA and from the south in MD
and VA began to trickle into the area that is now Fulton County and other regions.  By
mid-1749, the various groups of the Iroquois Confederation felt threatened, thus
they made official protests to the Provincial government in Philadelphia."

In response to the complaint of July 18, 1749 the Lt. Governor of the province...issued an
edict to all British remove themselves, their families and effects, off of those
lands.  Along with this was a promise that they would take more direct action in 1750.
Thus, in May of 1750 the provincial government sent agents to remove the white squatters
from their cabins and settlements.  These agents were accompanied by delegates from the
Iroquois nation to show them the King's orders were being fulfilled.  

About 60 squatters were found on Tuscarora Mountain.  Original plans were to arrest,
convict, fine and imprison them, but 2 of the first 5 arrested fled, telling officials "you may
take our Land and Houses and do what you please with them....but we will not be carried to
jail."  And a third squatter met the officials with a loaded gun.  (Nothing was said regarding
his longevity...)

As a gesture to the Indians, provincial officials decided to burn the cabins of the town (then
named Sidneyville).  In reality, they only burned 3.  But that brought a period of temporary
peace to the area.

It was not destined to be permanent.   By 1755 settlers had returned en masse.   Shawnee
and Delaware Indians took matters into their own hands, attacking in great force, in what
became known as the Great Cove Massacre.    

Subsequently, Sidneyville was reborn, but with a new name:  You guessed it...Burnt Cabins.


There's a campground as well, with a decently stocked store (below), which provided
provisions as there weren't any stores in the area for grub...   As for meals - only found
one, a bar, and Mandy didn't feel comfortable walking into a bar alone.  Sitting in the
car, I shivered to myself, just at the thought of  6 or 7 carloads of male eyes staring
at me.  UGH!  (From someone who can get meals and basic supplies within a 5 minute
drive from home, living out here in the hinterlands wouldn't appeal in the slightest.) 

I made a quick stop at the Lower Tonoloway section of the C&O Canal in Hancock, MD.
About a half mile of the canal has been restored and turned into a local historic site.   As
info, the canal operated from 1831 until 1924, along the Potomac River between Washington
DC & Cumberland.   It required 74 canal locks, 11 aqueducts to cross major streams, more
than 240 culverts to cross minor streams, and the 3,118 ft  Paw Paw tunnel in West Virginia.
(I visited Paw Paw Tunnel as described in the following post:  "More touring, and Abraham 
Lincoln", published 9/1/15.)

There are two paths one can choose to walk…the paved old Western Maryland Railroad line on
the city side of the canal (the RR was abandoned in the early ‘80’s as duplicate trackage - parent
company (CSX) has rails on the other side of the Potomac) and the unpaved canal towpath on
the river side.   Right alongside the Potomac River, it’s a beautiful place to relax and/or launch
your small boat, or rent a bike ($7/hour, or $35 a day.  Sounds lucrative, doesn't it?    I'd
happily rent out my own bike for $35 a day!)

And my final selfie:   At the canal park, in view of the Potomac.  At the bike rental place I
was addressed as a woman, and the ladies I passed all smiled, some with relevant chit-chat
about the weather.

Very validating...  How do you spell "7th heaven?"

You're not seeing things...the trees are growing at an angle, and I'm standing up straight.
Wonderful effect, and it's not an optical illusion!

Then, after a quick visit to the potty - a porta pot, for those who wondered - it was off for home.  As
usual, the traffic on I-70 was not good...but at least there were no backups at or on the Bay Bridge.)

My major observation for the entire trip was that I did NOT hear the dreaded “S” word at all.  YAY!!!!   (Even in this politically-conservative geographic area...which still sports many exquisitely-preserved "left-over" Republican campaign posters from the 2016 election season.)   

Yes, I was referred to as female by servers and individuals part of the time, but more often it
was simply in non-gender-specific terms.  (Which is the safest course for the “I’m just not
sure” crowd - or for those who disapprove of TG's, but don’t want to openly stir the pot.)   

Either way was/is fine with me.

And being out and about amongst the public is a wonderful experience...

Now, I await my next excursion...



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

On the road (yet again) Part 2

Second day was all business…thus little can be said about it, other than “nearly everyone
knew me.”

There was no confusion as to my presentation, even by those who didn’t.  My wife wasn’t 
there to make me do it, but I pulled my hair back into a ponytail…ugh.  This time, it really
seemed to make a difference…women’s jeans, top, pink nails and booties did nothing to
change the “Sir” rut I was in.  Yes, it appears the ponytail thing (even tied higher-than-
normal-for-guys) tips my presentation into “male” mode.   Well, most of the time.  At a
wedding we attended a few weeks ago,even the ponytail with a men's sportcoat didn’t stop servers
from addressing me as a female.

On the third day…I was at last back in girl mode.  This was to be an exciting day…    

Checking out of the motel as a girl elicited no gender specific forms of address.   But the
same female clerk (who didn’t see me disguised as a boy the day before) seemed much more   
friendly and talkative.

Time for some more sightseeing before heading east:  On the map, I noticed that in the
nearby town of Duncansville,  there was a park named Chimney Rock Park.   The rain was
gone and it was just cloudy, so I decided to explore a bit…   Found it, and the rock formations
didn’t look like chimneys to me, but very pretty nonetheless.  What made it special was the
view.  You drive up a hill to get there, and a short trail takes you to an overlook above the town. 
Very pretty.  And in this case, it was good that there were clouds…the sun might have been
an issue as far as pictures go.

Then it was off to the town of Mt. Union, PA – northern terminus of the narrow gauge
East Broad Top Railroad, coal hauler from the Broad Top coal fields.  The railroad died
in the mid 50’s, and got stuck in a time warp – it still looks just the same as it did when the
workers went home that fateful night the railroad died (April 14, 1956) – and never came
back.   Instead of scrapping it lock, stock and barrel, the new owner allowed it to sit in

The EBT was reincarnated in the 1961 season, as a tourist hauler by its new owner, using
a 5 mile section of the railroad.  But once again the EBT breathed its last - at the end of
the 2011 season.  And now, the railroad sits once again, rusting in the rain, still stuck in
its time warp.

Will there be a "third time's the charm?"  Or will it be scrapped?  Only time will tell.

In Mt. Union, much of the track was dual gauge – for regular and narrow gauge equipment.  
Hence the following picture of tracks still embedded in US Route 522: I understand that
there is still a string of EBT hoppers hiding in the woods (a skirt and nylons weren't quite
the appropriate attire for tromping around n the brush and trees), but at least some of the
dual gauge track is currently being used for standard gauge freight car storage.

And then I drove on to Orbisonia, the home base for the little railroad, taking pictures of 
remaining track and bridges, as a record of how they look today.   Some infrastructure looked
better than I thought it would, others much, much worse.   Time has not been kind to the

The Rockhill Trolley Museum (across the parking lot) was having its annual pumpkin patch
specials.  Thus the EBT parking lots were full.  Many attendees were doing just as I was:
walking around the EBT property to check it out.   And it was legal to do, as EBT owners 
had people on the scene, to be sure everyone was "just looking or taking pictures."  

In the above picture, I’m standing in front of the Orbisonia roundhouse and turntable. 
Inside are several narrow gauge steam engines, which are no longer in operation.   None
of the buildings were open for inspection, but the weeds were cut, thus making it easy to
walk around the facility to take pictures.   One of the people in charge (sixtysomething male)
told me what the buildings were.    

And the man who offered to help by taking the above picture was very helpful.

Subsequently I walked across the parking lot to the Trolley Museum.  My ticket was good for
all day (which didn’t matter, as my time there was limited).  But I was supposed to be able to
get a tour of the two carbarns.   I inquired about such a tour to the group of conductors sitting
there, and they said they could do that…but since the day was kid-oriented it was only on
an as-needed basis.  

One of the conductors commented that women alone don’t often ask to take the tour.  "You 
must be a trolley fan."  "My mother and I used to ride the PCC cars on the 42/38 line in 
Pittsburgh."  So, the fiftysomething conductor said:  “Come this way,  Ma’am.”   When
we reached the rope across the garage doorway, he said:  “Here, I’ll hold the rope down to
make it easier for you to step across.”   And as I did, he took my left hand -  “Let me
steady you, Ma’am.”  Nice!

Once over the rope barricade,  my personalized tour continued.  As I climbed into a couple of
trolleys without step boxes, he took my hand again both times to steady me as I stepped on
and off thecar.  (Men sure can be handy to have around!)   And as for today, with all due
respect to Shania Twain,  “Man,  I feel like a woman!”   I commented that if I'd realized I’d
be climbing on rail equipment today, I wouldn’t have worn a skirt.  We both got a chuckle
out of that...he reassured me that “You aren’t the first woman to do this in a skirt, and you
won’t be the last one, dear.”

Then when we finished, he offered to take my picture next to one of the trolleys…above.

I got in line with the group getting on the next trolley ride.  It was fun, and most of the ladies 
exchanged smiles with me.   We all commented about the fiddler playing at the trolley stop to 
entertain the kids, and they way the kids received it.  Once on board, a young mom’s 2 month
old baby was very animated, and was smiling and cooing at both grandparents and me.  I
guess the practice with my granddaughter has paid off…

This trolley had the wicker upholstery that, back in the day, was the scourge of nylons-wearing 
women.  You can see in the picture below how close the wicker was to my knees (and no
room to cross my legs, but fortunately my skirt protected the back of my legs.    Years ago,
many girls had their stockings ruined by snagging on the wicker.   I was very lucky – mine
survived intact!  (But I sure was careful to not move around in my seat!)

Don't snag those pantyhose!

Next stop was to photograph more relics of the EBT’s past.    Including site of the station and
town hotel in Saltillo, the freight house on Railroad Street in Three Springs (below)...

and Mandy in front of the former EBT station in Robertsdale:

As an added bonus, by walking through some uncut grass, I located an unconventional
configuration for the wye (which crosses a stream) behind the Post Office in Robertsdale:

There was reportedly a coal mining museum in Robertsdale’s old theatre building, which was 
supposed to be open.  I drove by the theatre, and two heavyset fortysomething men were out
front, probably enjoying a cigarette.  They watched me as I inched slowly by in the car (perhaps
their day's entertainment?), then they went inside.  I parked and hesitatingly approached the
front door.  Finding no mention of a museum on the fliers on the doors, and with the door
unlocked,  I decided to go on in…not knowing quite what to expect.

Both men were in the main part of the theatre, past the second set of doors.  They stared at me
as I came through the doors.  So I smiled, said hi, and inquired about the museum.  Turns out
the museum had moved, and the old-time theatre is now a church.   OooooKay....  The silent
one appeared to be eyeing me, from my feet to my hair, and back down.   The one who was
talking, couldn’t keep his eyes off my legs.  (I’ll take that as the supreme compliment -
thanks to him!)  

Through the ages, guys always have checked out gals, but this little lesson emphatically taught
me precisely how uncomfortable it can make some girls feel.   The bright side is - the pair were
basically decent men.  I could have encountered serious issues that day.  I won't kid you...
I really was happy to say "so long", and make my exit.   

However, as info - it's not the first time that I've "barged into" an old theatre - the notable
difference is that I was presenting as androgynous that day - and more importantly, my wife 
was with me.  And yes, before you ask, the guy who came to "greet" us in the inside hallway
identified us two women.  (Most importantly, we got a tour of the theatre.)  But there was 
safety in numbers.   (Moral of story for theatre owners - keep those doors locked if you don't 
want sightseers!)

Finally, I headed for the barn… it had been one long, interesting, rewarding - and fun - day.

When I checked into the motel, their thirtysomething male clerk addressed me as female.  A 
perfect way to end a wonderful day!

More later...