Saturday, August 5, 2023

Getting ready to book a Norwegian Fjord cruise.


Norway, land of Fjords.  This country's natural beauty draws me to see it before several of the fjords are closed to conventionally powered cruise ships.  Having cruised Alaska when I was younger, I know the value of seeing a land with much awe inspiring scenery.  On this trip, RQS will be with me, and I will have someone special with whom I can share this experience and the memories that it brings long after the cruise is over.

Right now, RQS and I are finalizing key details for this cruise.  We expect to be able to spend a day with my niece before our cruise.  It will be the first time either of us has left North America (save for my trip to Hawaii), and I am a little bit nervous.  Europe is foreign to me, and cruising provides enough hand holding for me to see the sights where we're going without limiting my choices to an excessive degree.

One port that I intend to visit is Flaam. The main attraction for me is the railroad.  As I like to remind RQS, I've been interested in trains since I was a wee little child.  I can't wait to go on this train and see the sights. But there is so much more to see. So our task is to determine which shore excursions we really want to go on, and purchase them well before the cruise.

We've budgeted approximately $7,000 each for this trip.  Like many "Bucket List" journeys, it is expensive.  We could have chosen a cruise that starts in Southampton, sails for several days in Norwegian waters, and then goes to Iceland for a few days before returning to Southampton.  Instead, we've chosen a cruise that sails directly from its home port to Norway, and then oozes its way along the Norwegian coast and through its fjords before returning home.

Luckily, both of our passports have several years to go before renewal.  However, we do not yet know whether we will need UK and/or EU entry permits.  We asked our Travel Agent about this, and he has no answers yet for cruisers.  I figure that I'll pay the small price for both entry permits and drop a $20 bill to be safe....

Friday, August 4, 2023

A quick run for lobster before the movie.

Both RQS have a craving for lobster rolls.  We'll go out of our way when we can to catch up with the Lobster Truck to get our fix.  This week was different.  Instead of chasing the lobster truck, we went to Stew Leonard's for their summer weekend lobster cart.  And it was almost as yummy as lobster from the truck.

But first....

RQS planned to come to my place, so that we could go see the movie "Oppenheimer" on the IMAX screen at a theater on the other side of the Hudson.  I was in Marian mode when she arrived, and she commented that she'd have been surprised to find me in a pair of trousers.  That made my day in a very pleasant way!

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Saturday came, and we proceeded to Stew's for lobster rolls.  Unfortunately, there were no more seats at the theater we wanted to go to, so we had a fallback plan - see the movie at the Drafthouse in Yonkers. In-between lobster and the movie, we killed some time at the book store, and proceeded to the theater in time to see the movie.

I was glad to have some background knowledge about  J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project before seeing this film.  Coming out of the movie, I had a better understanding of why this man was the least likely person to lead such a large project, and why this man was to be spit out by the powers that be shortly after he was no longer needed.  Like many excessively smart people,genius in one part of his brain was balanced with character deficiencies in another part.  Even though I am nowhere near his level of intelligence, I understand the nature of someone like Oppenheimer, as I have similar flaws of a lesser magnitude.

Would I have wanted to live Oppenheimer's life?  No!   He was a great man, but with greatness comes people trying to bring you down.  That has happened in my life, and I have suffered for it.  I am grateful that I never had a burden like he had....


Thursday, August 3, 2023

A conversation with a friend.


The other day, I had a conversation with my friend Vicki.  She's been a good friend for several decades now, and I've learned to deal with her style of communication.  But there was something in this most recent conversation that got brought my attention to something not being said.

But first....

Vicki and I have been trying to have a chat for a while.  Either she's been too busy at work, or I've been too busy in my own life.  So, it was nice to be able to catch up with her on the phone after dinner the other day. (Normally, we'd have already scheduled a dinner, but she has a cough that isn't going away soon.  So, a phone call had to do.)  I don't know how to describe Vicki's style other than to say that she is a dominant person who forgets that sometimes, she has to listen to others more and not try to solve problems that are not ready to be solved.  And this is what got to me a little in our chat.

We started out with Vicki talking about her cough, and how little could be done about it.  She didn't have Covid-19, or any other of the ailments that could explain the cough.  Instead, the docs told her that the bug she has is viral, and she'll have to wait until it's gone.  Then, we talked about Vicki's retirement planning - when she'll retire, where she will relocate (for tax purposes), and how she will divest herself of a New York presence to qualify as a resident of another state.  (Any more details, and I'll go into things that should be kept private.)  Like most people, she will have a lot on her plate to take care of when she transitions from a working person to a retired person. But I digress....

Our conversation shifted to my long term plans with RQS, And that's where the part of Vicki's personality that I don't like came out.  Neither RQS nor myself has been able to figure out how we'd merge our households, nor have we figured out where we'd live.  We both feel that we need to rid ourselves of a lot of the clutter in our apartments before we even try to figure out how to combine households.  Once I mentioned that we're with each other 3 or 4 days out of 7, she started to try to solve the problems RQS and I would need to deal with in a few years - and this was off putting.  These problems are a few years in front of us yet, and I had to remind Vicki that we're living in the present, and not dwelling in the future or the past.  We'll deal with these issues closer to the time they come up, as we're busy with issues of the present.  Eventually, Vicki got the hint and apologized - she sensed what she was doing, and noted that it is a problem that she has....

The rest of our chat went well, and ended a few minutes later when her coughing got the better of her.  Hopefully, the cough will go away soon, so that we can finally get together for dinner again.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Can a T-Girl have too many dresses?


I had a hard time making a choice the other day.  J.C.Penney had the above dresses on sale for $15/ea.  Given the quality I usually find in the dresses they sell, I figure that it was worth the gamble to have 2 more summer dresses.  Yet, both are similar to dresses I already own: the first one by its pattern, and the second one by its color.  But I will be able to wear both of them now, and when I take a cruise to the Bahamas later on this year.

Even though I purchased the first two dresses,  I'm planning on buying the above dress when it eventually goes on sale.  I already own the same dress in a different pattern, and want to get it in this pattern as well.  Then, I will be done with summer shopping, and ready to fill out my winter wardrobe.

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I figure that I'll soon be moving dresses into storage bins dedicated for summer storage, and out of ones dedicated for winter storage.  Hopefully, I won't misplace dresses I have grown to love, like I did the dress from Catherine's above.  This time, when I put the above dress away for the season, I will be sure to remember where I put it.

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But what does this mean for the other dresses in my closet?

Well, I expect that I will do some more pruning over the next few weeks, and make some more donation bag contributions to charity.  Have I spent way too much money on dresses?  Yes.  But the question still remains: Can a T-Girl have too many dresses in her wardrobe?

Tuesday, August 1, 2023


Retirement has done a lot to my memories for things on my schedule.  Unless something is very important to me, I seem to be retaining less and less of "trivial" matters.  For example, the president of my co-op was going in for surgery.  Although I remembered this fact, what she was going in to the hospital for completely slipped out of my mind.  As soon as it came up in conversation, the memory was easy to retrieve.  Yet, I'm bothered by this age related change in affairs.

In the past, I had a photographic memory.  I could read a computer program, and then identify a single one of the hundreds of pages of code where the bug was likely to be found.  Today, I can not absorb as much knowledge as I did in my 20's.  To make things worse, without a regular routine, I am more likely to forget semi-regularly scheduled events for which I've committed myself.  And I have been very embarassed when this has happened.

The other day, I went in for a periodic doctor's appointment, and mentioned that the one thing I am afraid of most is memory loss.  My grandmother (on my father's side) had dementia, and my aunt (not a blood relative) suffers from a form of dementia as well.  I don't think that my doctor really understands my fears in this area, as I have no one to take care of my affairs when I am unable to do so, as I don't have children who'd have an interest in doing so.

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Today, I read a NY Times article about a family who shared a genetic mutation for Fronto-Temporal Dementia.(FTD). It's sad when one knows that they have a 50/50 chance of losing one's ability to take care of one's self, to lose family because of this ailment, and to be isolated from everything worthwhile in life. Even though this is a genetic disease, many in the family wanted to live in denial.  I might have wanted to do the same.  But then, who knows?

There are so many moral issues imposed by others in the names of their faiths that get in the way of preventing diseases caused by genetic traits.  What if we could isolate sperm and eggs carrying these mutations before conception, and prevent the mutations from being carried on to future generations?  Imagine what would happen if Sickle Cell, Tay-Sachs, Hemophilia, and other genetic carried diseases were preventable.  Yet, organizations such as the Catholic Church are against "Test Tube Babies". I certainly don't think that Louise Brown would be upset that her parents used IVF to conceive her, although I think there are quite a few priests who would consider her birth an abomination.  In the case of the family with the FTD mutation, IVF with implantation of FTD-Free embryos (or aborting the fetuses with the mutation) would eliminate this disease from their blood line.  Wouldn't this be more humane than the heartbreak and suffering that will occur when this mutation is passed on to future generations.

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So, I go back to myself....

I don't know what I will do if I am ever given a diagnosis of early stage dementia.  But I think I will try to be like the main characters in the movie "The Bucket List" and enjoy as many valuable experiences as I can while able to enjoy them.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Going for a long drive to meet a friend


I wouldn't drive the above car more than a couple of miles, and then at a very low speed.  That is the opposite of the driving I often need to do, as most of the people I know are at least an hour away from me. Today's drive was to meet a friend who lives over two hours away from me, at a mid point agreeable to both of us.

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RO and I have known each other for a while.  We first met on a date, but things didn't work out between us.  A few years later, we stumbled into each other again and became friends.  Since then, we get together now and then, and today was one of those meetings.  Although she knows me as Mario, she sees me more often as Marian, and that's the way I prefer to be when seeing her.

The restaurant that we used to go to is halfway between our houses.  Today, we decided to meet for lunch at Fuddrucker's, a hamburger joint whose chain has seen its better days.  My late wife and I always enjoyed going to the Fuddruckers in Yonkers.  Sadly, virtually all of the outlets near me closed many years ago, leaving a small number too many miles away for a casual lunch on my own.  But today was different.  Fudd's has an outlet in Parsippany, NJ, and that's where we met.

When I first encountered Fuddrucker's as a chain, their outlets focused on the display of the meat that would be served to the customer.  The place was wide open and well lit. You could see all of the spaces open to the customer upon entry, including condiments, fixings (onions, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.), and.beverage stations.  This outlet felt different.  It felt cramped, and the main seating area was separated from the entry area by a wall.  But the burgers were as good as I remembered.

RO talked about her most recent trip with her hubby, and having booked a new trip to the same area for next month.  I talked about my trips (past and upcoming), as well as my relationship with RQS.  By the time lunch was over, RO asked if I would introduce her to RQS, and I said "sure".

All too soon, we had to return home - and parted until next time.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Someone in one of my meetup groups passed away - a quick post.


The other day, someone from one of my meetup groups passed away.  The only reason I know this is a weekend meetup being held to celebrate this man's life.

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I always felt it strange that this fellow wanted his picture taken with me when we attended the same FTF meetup.  Was he interested in dating me?  Who knows?  If I were interested in dating men, he might have been on my radar, as I'm told that he was a sweet person.  Luckily, I met RQS at the beginning of last year, and I didn't have to tell him that I wasn't available to date, nor did I have to reveal to him that I am trans.

Although I would have liked to be able to find out how he died and to attend his memorial, I have a higher priority in my life - RQS.  Assuming that I'm able to attend a mid-week meetup with this group, I will ask the leader about how he died, and whether it was expected.  Until then, I will accept that there are some things I am not meant to know right now - and leave it at that.

Was she dead or alive? Inquiring minds wanted to know.

  I hadn't seen Pat in months, and I haven't been able to reach her by voice or text.  Given that she's 84 years old, I figured ...