Saturday, July 15, 2023

A Holiday Weekend with RQS (Part 2)


Since this was Independence Day weekend, RQS and I had thought of going to a Fireworks display on Sunday.  This was not to be. We thought we'd do some furniture shopping in the afternoon,  and it made more sense to clean the apartment a little before going out. Once we spent 30 minutes in clean-up activities, we felt it a better choice to stay at home and watch movies all day.  Although we did go out in the evening to get some ice cream, this was a day that we paid attention to the weather and rested at home.

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Monday was just as warm as it was the day before.  But we had to go out - RQS left her shower cap at home, and it was time for her to take a nice leisurely bath.  (RQS's bath tub is only large enough for Billy Barty, and he's been gone for 23 years now.)  So, it was up to Poughkeepsie, where I did some sofa shopping, and then to Target for the Shower Cap.

On the way home, we stopped off at a supermarket for items needed for dinner.  Although I had some pork chops ready to cook, we still needed salad stuff and dessert - which we found at a reasonable price. Once home, I tried cooking the pork chops in a new way (for me), doing most of the cooking in a toaster oven and giving them some texture by searing in a cast-iron skillet.  Was my cooking a success?  Maybe.  But I learned to use more seasoning the next time I do this.

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Finally, it was Independence Day, and time for RQS to leave.  As Shakespeare said, "Parting is such sweet sorrow."  I didn't want RQS to leave, and yet I appreciated having space to myself again.  RQS got home safely, and her cat was all over her when she opened the door.

Friday, July 14, 2023

A Holiday Weekend with RQS (Part 1)


This was going to be a LONG weekend for us, as I planned to drive down to RQS's place on Friday, and then the two of us would return to Westchester for the rest of the weekend.  So, I made sure that I could get by on what I had left at RQS's place the week before, so that I would have room in my car to bring the remaining luggage from our California Cruise back to my place.

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As usual, I didn't get out of my apartment until 3 pm, and had few traffic problems until I reached Queens.  Then, I couldn't avoid traffic problems until I reached side streets that would take me to RQS's neighborhood.

Normally, I take the Whitestone Bridge into Queens, and then the Whitestone Expressway / Van Wyck Expressway to the Jewel Avenue exit.  From there, I usually take side roads to RQS's place instead of fighting traffic to reach the Jackie Robinson Parkway.  However, the first of the jams I hit was on the Whitestone - traffic on the Van Wyck wasn't moving.  So I decided to take the Grand Central to Jewel Avenue  - and hit traffic until I passed the LIE.  (For those not from the NYC area, I'm talking about major traffic choke points in one of NYC's outer boroughs.)  Then, I got off at Jewel Avenue with only a minor issue with street repaving going on. At this point, I was committed to taking side streets.  Since I expected a major traffic jam when crossing Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, I took an alternate route that brought me to Rego Park before heading inland to RQS's place.  This proved to be a fortunate choice, as I saved a bit of time in getting to RQS's place.  And even better - I found a parking spot in front of RQS's place!

- - - - - -

The next day, we woke up early, loaded up my car, and proceeded to my house.  While on the way there, RQS remembered that she didn't replace the litter in her cat's litter box.  So it was a quick call to her cat sitter, and we were lucky that he could make it over to her place on a day he was fully booked - the litter box was empty, and the cat wasn't happy about it. 

We were lucky to have started out earlier than RQS had planned.  Traffic was much worse than expected for a Saturday morning, and it took over 2 hours (minus time for lunch) to get back to my place and unload the car.  Once the car was unloaded and we had a chance to rest, we had a choice to make:  Do we go out to see some fireworks, and suffer in the hot and muggy air?  Or, do we go across the river to the historic Lafayette Theater to see the latest Indiana Jones movie, and enjoy a performance on the Wurlitzer Organ?  Comfort won out.  How often can one see a first-run movie for $6/pp and hear a performance on the Wurlitzer organ?  As much as RQS liked the movie, I felt that hearing the Wurlitzer again was worth the $6.  To me, the movie was a nice bonus for a live organ performance.

It's too bad that I couldn't upload the other video I had of this person's performance.  Given the film being shown AND the song being played in this clip, it's an appropriate way to end today's entry.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Finally, the first chance to go out en-femme in 2 weeks.


It's been a while since I've been able to go out as Marian.  The logistics of my most recent vacation in California made it impossible for me to switch back and forth between male and female gender presentations.  Now that I've been home for a couple of days, I can finally go out as Marian and interact with the world as my authentic self.

Yesterday, I was supposed to go out with my meetup group to see another session of Drag Queen Bingo. After taking care of a couple of things, I decided not to go - using GI Tract issues as my excuse.  The one problem was that this was true - I didn't want to need to rush to a toilet and find out that I had to wait for it.  As it was, I got home, and barely made it to the toilet before soiling myself.  (I guess that I picked up a mild bug towards the end of the cruise.)

Today, things were better.  I was able to meet one of my friends from the Census and have a leisurely lunch.  Again, my GI Tract acted up a little bit.  But this time, I had a minute or two to spare.  After I was done, I ran down to Micro Center to pick up some Sugru (to repair a fraying power wire on my CPAP machine) and a 30 watt USB-C power plug for use in rapid charging my cell phone.  Although one of the people from my game night meetup was having game night at his house, I had to bug out - I didn't trust my GI Tract.

It was nice to be able to finally go out as Marian.  But this weekend, it will be several days in Mario mode again....

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

California Vacation 2023 - Some Final Thoughts


As some of my readers might know, I chose to cruise out of Los Angeles, so that I could visit my uncle. When I originally planned this trip, my 90 y/o uncle was taking care of himself and his wife in comfort. Unfortunately, things changed since then.  In trying to care for my aunt, not setting limits, he fell and broke his hip.  Now, both my aunt and uncle are in separate care facilities, and my uncle was just told that he will never be able to live on his own again.  He was not in the right frame of mind for us to visit.

I'm glad that RQS and I scheduled a day of sightseeing in Los Angeles in addition to visiting my uncle, as neither of us thought that the day before the cruise was a wasted day.  Yes, we could have done more things if we had done more research.  But we accomplished a lot by visiting two museums and taking advantage of serendipity when we could.

We were both impressed by the level of service provided by Princess.  Yet, we were unhappy with the Princess App. The app was slow, and didn't always provide the information we needed. For example, when we needed to find out the hours for the main dining room, the app did not provide that  information.  When we wanted to find out what performers were in the main theater and the times of their shows, we could not find that on the app.  We were better served by reading the paper Princess Patter.  Not everything was bad about the app.  But Princess has a long way to go before the app can replace many of the things best done the old fashioned way.

This trip made RQS feel that we need to spend more time in California on our next visit.  Not only is San Francisco worth more than spending just two days there. But the same could be said for San Diego as well.  Only Los Angeles stands out as "a suburb in search of a city."  And who wants to visit a suburb when one can visit a city?

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

California Vacation 2023 - Debarkation Day


RQS and I knew that this would be a long day. However, we didn’t know how long this day would feel to us by the time we got home.

We awoke very early in the morning, and made sure to do our last minute packing before going downstairs for breakfast. RQS wondered why there were no tablecloths on the tables and why we weren’t getting any service. Unfortunately, we went to the wrong dining room, as the easy to reach dining area would be a room used to stage people for leaving the ship. So off we went with our luggage to the back of the ship where breakfast was being served.

Once done with breakfast, it was over to the casino where we were to wait until our debarkation time. When we were called, our group got off the ship and started the long walk to our luggage already in the cruise terminal. Finding our luggage, we passed through customs very quickly, as they are now doing bio-metric screening at this port. And then, it was time to board the bus to the airport.

The two of us checked our bags, and then proceeded to TSA scanning, where RQS’s personal lubricant set off an alarm. She packed an oversized bottle in her carry-on. Ouch! So this item had to be abandoned before we could proceed to the gate. And this is where our long waits began.

One of the bits of advice we heed is to plan to take no flights home scheduled to depart before noon. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 2:20 pm, so we had to kill 3 ½ hours before boarding took place. While we waited at our gate, we heard an announcement. The pilot of another plane to New York was flying his last run, and expected to be made a big fuss over upon arrival in New York. I hope this man has a very happy retirement. But this made us more aware that we were killing time.

Eventually, RQS and I got hungry, and searched for food. Unfortunately food offerings at this terminal were both slim and expensive. But we paid the high price for our food, some of which we brought on the plane with us, as we expected no food service on the flight. This was a fortunate act, as once the plane boarded, the pilot announced that there was a ground stop in New York.. This caused our flight to be delayed for 90 minutes, giving us a Midnight (Eastern) arrival time in New York.

Once the plane took off, we had an uneventful flight. I overheard one passenger talking with a flight attendant, and found out that we could get a snack box and sandwiches when cabin service started. So, I asked the attendant about this and bought a snack box for RQS and a Chicken Sandwich for me.

Landing in New York, it was a long trek to the baggage area. I figure that RQS and I must have walked a mile between our gate and the luggage carousel. Even then, the luggage had yet to be dropped on the carousel for pickup. We still had to wait for another 15 minutes before our checked bags arrived. And then it was off to get our ride home.

Once we left the air conditioned climes in the terminal building, we entered air so thick that one would have to dice it up before breathing it. It was 80+ degrees outside with almost 100% humidity. Yecch! Summoning an Uber, it took a couple of minutes before a driver accepted our summons. But we ended up at RQS’s apartment by 1:30 am - not bad for an overly long day.

PS: We were lucky. RQS heard that NYC area weather related ground stops were still causing flight cancellations after we got home. People on these cancelled flights won't be getting home for a few more days yet. If our flight had been cancelled, I'd have asked to be on a flight to another East Coast city, then take Amtrak home from that city. I feel sorry for those people stuck out West with connections through Chicago to the East Coast - they are getting a double whammy these days. Word to the wise - if your plane is cancelled AND they can book you to a different Major Northeastern US City, consider flying there and taking Amtrak to get home. It's not perfect, but it may keep you from being stuck away from home for an unknown period of time.

Monday, July 10, 2023

California Vacation 2023 - Ensenada, Mexico


This was the obligatory foreign port stop for the cruise ship before returning to the United States. Since we had no interest in doing anything at this port, we decided to stay on the ship. So, I can still say that I’ve never set foot on Mexican soil.

As usual, we woke up late and missed breakfast in the dining room. We ended up at the buffet, walking all over the place to find a station that was still serving food. After eating a hearty breakfast, it was back to the room to rest and pack our bags for debarkation. And then, it was off to the Lido deck for Pizza and a dessert. The pizza was good, but nothing like a true New York pizza. Think of a pizza somewhere between a good NYC pizza and Pizza Hut. I wouldn’t go out of my way for the pizza, but I wouldn’t refuse to eat it if friends were going there to eat. The specialty desserts that RQS and I had were listed as $12 each. They weren’t bad, but they were not worth the list price. (We got them free as part of our package.)

Next, it was off to the portrait gallery to find out how much the photos taken of us the other day would cost. After a nice presentation, there was no way we were going to spend $1200 for 8 photos. However, we did feel comfortable spending $300 for 3 photos - especially, when I still had over $100 of on-board cruise credit to burn.

After another chance to rest, it was off to dinner. All was going well until the dining room started it’s cruise-end celebration with a Baked Alaska parade. This was very off putting, as the cruise director had the lights turned off, had loud party music turned on while the serving staff marched plates of Baked Alaska (with lit candles) around the dining room when we wanted a “quiet” leisurely meal. Thankfully, the parade ended after a few minutes, the lights were turned back on, and the dining experience rudely interrupted by the parade was allowed to start again. The last time we were at the restaurant, the waiter suggested (and delivered) appetizers and main courses in addition to what we ordered. This time was no different. I’ll hate to get back on the scales when I get home, as I know he was partially responsible for some of the weight I may have gained on this cruise.

We then proceed to the theater to watch a couple of comedians. Unfortunately, their humor was to neither of our tastes. So we went over to the lounge, where we met our friends for the last time on the cruise. It’s too bad that they live near LA, as these are the type of people we’d like to get together with as a couple.

All too soon it was time to go back to the room and go to sleep. Tomorrow will be an exhausting day….

Sunday, July 9, 2023

California Vacation 2023 - San Diego


Our plan for the day was to meet RQS’s Cousin, then see San Diego’s Old Town and Balboa Park. We made sure to have a quick breakfast and get off the ship by 10:30, so we could meet her cousin by the pier. This plan worked like a charm, save that her cousin parked a little further away than planned. When we met her cousin, it was like ‘old home week’ for the two of them. Conversation between the three of us flowed quickly, as her cousin drove us to Old Town San Diego.

For those who don’t know San Diego, Old Town is where the original settlement of San Diego was established. The site consists of many buildings which illustrate what life was like for the original settlers before the seat of government moved to a new site five miles away. We latched onto a tour already in progress, and learned a bit about the site before moving on to some of the remaining exhibits.

Then, it was off to Balboa park. I can not do justice to this park, other than show some photos I took. “Museum Row” is inside this park, as well as the famed San Diego Zoo. Much of the architecture in the park hearkens to the Spanish Colonial era, but modern architecture is found there as well. We had a nice lunch at a restaurant there before moving on to the artist community. And that’s where RQS looked at the handicrafts that were on sale, while her cousin and I took a rest in the shade.

Eventually, the cousin’s daughter arrived, and we took a walk over to the Zoo’s entrance. This was where we took some pictures of us against the Roaring Lion statue by the entrance. And then we walked some more before getting ready to leave. Before proceeding to the car, we got someone to take our pictures in front of a fountain there.

Once back in the car, RQS’s cousin drove us back to the ship. The three of us wished this visit could last longer, and hoped we could do this again soon. And then it was onto the ship. After going through the security gauntlet (not as bad as it once was on other cruises), we were back on the ship and ready to have dinner.

Once we refreshed ourselves, we went to one of the complimentary restaurants and sat down at a shared table. Two of our table mates were well traveled, and pleasant to talk with. Unfortunately, the next couple seated at our table ruined the meal for the first couple. The lady could be best characterized as an “Entitled Jewish American Princess”. The soup was not hot enough for her. The game hen was not moist enough for her. And she inconvenienced everyone enough in her attempt to make the theater on time, that the remaining four of us were denied that option.

Sadly, this was not the way I like to remember dinner with new people….

An early dinner with a friend

  Last night, I mentioned to Pat that I wish I could have been born a cisgender female who looked like this when younger.  If I were younger...