Saturday, June 8, 2024

Slowly attacking the mess in my apartment


When I got up this morning, I knew I had to do something to start cleaning up the mess in my place.  It's been a long time since I've been able to have the cleaning lady come over, and for every 4 steps forward, I'm taking 3 steps back.  So, I figured that I'd dedicate an hour or two today for this task before RQS arrives.

Instead of attacking messes on the table, I decided to attack the mess in my dresser drawers.  I figured that I might be able to clear out a drawer or two in the process, and make space for some of the new clothes that I bought at Flax.  So, after an hour, I found that I had one large contractor bag to go to the dumpster, as well as a shredder that I thought was working when it wasn't.

One idea that is working well for me is that if I haven't used something in a long while and that I am not likely to use it,  be sure to throw it out.  To facilitate that, I started taking an old post office box used to drop off a large quantity of held mail, and turning it into a garbage pail with the use of a large garbage bag.  If I can't justify keeping the item, I turn to the side and unceremoniously drop it in the bag for disposal.  It's a lot easier to toss items when the process takes up less mental processing space.

I can't say that I'm anywhere near seeing a light at the end of a tunnel.  But I can say that I found space for the clothes I bought from Flax, as well as the two dresses I bought from Universal standard.

- - - - - -


Thinking of dresses and things....

Last night, I decided to wear the above dress out.  As much as I hated the countless number of buttons I had to button up, I liked how I felt in the dress.  RQS said I should keep the dress, and I will do so.

She also said I should keep the above jumpsuit, and I will wear it once I have a lightweight buttoned top I could wear with it, so that my shoulders could be covered most of the time. 

The other day, I saw that this dress was on sale.  Given that I like the cut of this dress more than a similar one sold by Universal Standard, I bought two of them and should receive them tomorrow.  Too bad that I don't have any journeys scheduled where I will be out and about for a week or two as Marian.  But when I do, this dress will be with me if I'm in a warm weather climate.

Now, to prune more items that I don't love from my wardrobe....

Friday, June 7, 2024

Another lunch with RO

Around 30 years ago, my late wife and I found the above book at Barnes and Noble.  Living reasonably close to the city as we did, we'd make regular pilgrimages to Manhattan's Chinatown and the one that was developing in Flushing to get a good Dim Sum meal.  If there was a good Chinese Restaurant, we'd move heaven and earth to get there.
At the time this book was published, we had several definitions for the quality of Chinese restaurants:
  • Local - The food was edible, but we wouldn't go out of town for it.
  • Acceptable - The food was decent, and worth going one or two towns over to dine in the place.
  • Good - The place was an hour or more away, and well worth the effort to eat there. (I miss The Little Bear near Woodstock, NY.)
  • Very Good - The place was outside the region, and a must visit when in the area. (Empress of China - San Francisco, CA)
  • Excellent - The place is on the other side of the globe, and a bucket list must visit.
Needless to say, we never had the chance to get to the last category of restaurants.  My wife had a friend where she worked who could tell us great places to eat when in China.  But she died before I had accumulated enough money to take this kind of bucket list trip.

I'm still willing to go to the ends of the earth for a good meal.  And today, I had the chance to revisit Qin Dynasty in Parsippany, NJ.  Qin Dynasty is an unassuming place sited in front of the Red Roof Inn on Route 46.  There is nothing special to recommend this place, other than it was a convenient midpoint for RO and I to get together.
RO and I have eaten at this place several times before, and we always have several plates of Dim Sum.  Today, we tried one of the dinner dishes along with our usual order of Dim Sum.  And it was up to the quality of the joints I often visit in Manhattan.  I can also say the same for their Dim Sum - it's good, and worth eating when in the area.  But I wouldn't schedule a special drive to get to this place, as RQS and I know better places for Dim Sum closer to home.
Yet, you might ask: Why do I recommend this place?
The answer is simple.  There are few enough decent places which have a wide variety of Dim Sum on their menus, and this is one of them.  One can find the standard offerings such as Shu Mai, Pork Buns, and soup dumplings.  But this place also has things such as duck filled dumplings and peanut filled dumplings. And I usually try to order something new at every meal.
Luckily, I can go to Aberdeen in White Plains, NY and have a good variety of tasty dishes there.  But if I'm near Parsippany, I'll try to visit Qin Dynasty.


Thursday, June 6, 2024

Filling a tooth and emptying a wallet.


$520 later, and I have a good tooth.  (I hear my wallet sobbing loudly, "Why did you do this to me?")

- - - - - -

When I last visited the dentist, he found a cavity in a tooth which had once been filled by a prior dentist. I knew that this was going to be a "big" (not too big) bill, as I was expecting to pay somewhere between $400 & $800 for the privilege of having my tooth repaired.  So, I scheduled today's appointment on the first available day I could get the repair done before my next cruise.

Unfortunately, I didn't sleep well last night, and was tired when I finally got showered and dressed.  Since the dentist sees me more in Marian mode than as Mario, I took the extra time to get ready to present myself as Marian.  So, I found a nice summery dress, and made the short drive to my dentist's office.

Arriving promptly at 1:00 pm, it took a while before I was led to the room where my procedure was to be done.  By the time he got down to business around 1:30 pm, I was on my 3rd dose of local anesthesia when he started to drill.  Even then, I needed another shot to keep me from feeling any pain.  At 2:30 pm, my tooth was filled, and my wallet emptied.

At least, my mouth was finally back to normal by 5:00 pm....

You've heard of "Gaydar." Now, there is "Transdar." - a quick post


Recently, I headed off to the local Walmart to pick up a corded mouse for a computer I had lying around.  After buying the mouse (and a few other things), I was on my way out of the store and one of the check-out ladies said hello....

After a few minutes of chatting with this woman and one of her associates, she said that I always looked good when I came into the store, then asked a question: "How long have you been in transition?"  In one sense, it floored me that someone would ask this question.  And in another, it confirmed something I already knew - my size often gives my "transness" away.  So, we chatted a few minutes, and found out that she was trans, and possibly young enough to be my granddaughter.  She had to leave school because her stepdad wouldn't accept her, and that she's paying her bills on a Walmart salary.  (Compared to her, I have it very easy.)

This was a reminder to me to be thankful for what I have - it could always be much worse.

- - - - - -

I can't imagine outing myself at the age of 17.  It must have been very hard for this trans woman to even find a place to live and a job to pay for it.  We're very lucky that most people don't pay attention to us, and let us live our lives in peace.  However, I was glad that I noted that this is not always the case, as I do not want to take the risk of visiting places like Florida and Texas while they have anti-transgender laws in place.....

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

A relaxing day in Queens


RQS was up by 10:30 am, while I didn't get up until noon.  I must have been very sleepy when we went to bed the night before....

Once I woke up, we proceeded to take care of little things, such as proof-reading an email RQS was sending to Princess Cruises.  We have our complaints about the cruise line's app, and needed to find out why we couldn't make sense of certain things.  For example, RQS had purchased an extra pair of specialty dinners for our Norwegian cruise, but it didn't show up in billing or our list of things purchased.  Neither the website or Princess' app gave us the info we needed.  So, it was time to ask for help in resolving this issue. Next, we paid off the cruise we're taking this Autumn.  I figure that we have each spent close to $9k in travel this year, and we are sure to get our money's worth from our Norway and Bermuda cruises.  

And then....

RQS asked me for help with her computer.  Every time she opened up a MS Word document, a window would freeze, and she couldn't get rid of it.  I was lucky to figure out what to do to allow her to edit Word documents.  But I couldn't eliminate the problem....

Two years ago, RQS bought her laptop, and we installed MS Office before porting programs from her old computer.  One problem - we didn't clear out all of the links between her computer and her former office.  Settings that would have her computer try to log into her former employer's system were still in place.  Since she was no longer affiliated with the employer, she could not log in, and Office-365 (the cloud version of MS Office) wouldn't let her access any Word format document.  I experimented a little and found a workaround - she'd have to tell the system to try a different account, then cancel the log in attempt before trying to select a Word format document to edit.  Since I can't find the link to log into her former office, I couldn't deactivate or eliminate that process from starting.  So she'll have to take it to a software specialist after our next cruise.

All too soon, I had to leave.  And by 7 pm, I was home.  But I still had to go out and pick up a book from the library before I could rest.  So it was off to the library, and then back to the house for the evening.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

A quick hop into Queens to see RQS


Friday was Flax day.  Saturday was my Uncle's day.  And Sunday was RQS's day.  Often, RQS would come up on Friday, and go home on Monday,  This weekend, I went to her place to spend Sunday night before going home the next day.

You might be asking: Why didn't RQS come up to my place?  Well, RQS had previously bought theater tickets for us to see a close friend's one act play inspired by his coming out.  So, I had an effective obligation to travel to her place.  If I hadn't a dentist appointment on Tuesday, I'd have stayed a second night and relaxed a little bit more.

- - - - - -

Sunday morning came, and I could have gotten up early and gone to church for a change.  Given how tired I felt, I figured that I'd go back to bed after a bio break   By the time I finally got moving, it was noon - and I had to be out the door by 2 pm, so I could reliably assume I'd be at RQS's place by 5 pm.  This meant that I only had enough time to shave, shower and get dressed before calling a cab to bring me to the train station.  I'd have to leave picking up a book from the library until I got home the next day.  But I digress....

Arriving at Croton-Harmon, I found the coffee shop open.  This was a big surprise, as I didn't think there would be enough weekend business to warrant it to be open.  Since I had 20 minutes to kill, I started a chat with the lady working there.  I found that she wanted to run a coffee shop of her own one day, and wanted some experience in doing so.  In itself, this is a reasonable statement from a middle aged woman.  But the next statement made me wonder - why was she driving to Croton from Rego Park, Queens for a minimum wage job.  Assuming she burns $15 in gas and pays $15 in tolls, she has to work 2 1/2 hours to cover her commute, leaving her 5 1/2 hours where she actually is earning money for her pocketbook.  Why didn't she find a job closer to home, let's say working at Starbucks?

My train soon came to the platform, and I made haste to catch it.  An hour later I was at Grand Central, and an hour later, I was at RQS's place.  But I wasn't going to have much time to rest.  She wanted me to figure out why her Chromebook wasn't seeing her mouse (it was turned off) before going to dinner locally, then trekking back into NYC to see her friend's play.

Around 7 pm, we headed into NYC, and dealt with the usual headaches of NYC Subway weekend routes.  Luckily, the 14th street line was running to 8th Avenue.  However, the 8th Avenue line was not running uptown locals.  So we had to take the express up to 34th street, then take the local down to 23rd street.  From there, we made it to a small theater near 10th avenue - with about 10 minutes to spare.

When the lights went down, the first of the one act plays started.  The story line had a Butch Lesbian fairy godmother trying to get her Cinderella to call off her wedding and be true to her lesbian self.  The woman fights her impulses until her groom comes out as gay.  It was a cute play that needed tightening up to be a little more interesting.  The next two one-act plays were forgettable. And then RQS's friend's play started - it was the best of the bunch, as her friend brought his authentic self into the script and delivered it with the gravitas of someone in his 50's can deliver.  Following this was another forgettable one-act play.

After the final play, we chatted with her friend and the director of the play before returning to RQS's place for the evening.  It was a long day, but worth it....

Monday, June 3, 2024

A long drive for a funeral service


My original plans for the day were to take the train to Grand Central, transfer to a Long Island bound train heading for my brother's station, and meet him before trekking out to Sayville, NY for my uncle's memorial service.  Well, things got changed at the last moment, and I ended up driving to Long Island to get to his house on time to go to the funeral service. Now, if it were someone else in my life, I might have skipped out on the drive.  Traffic going in the other direction was fouled up for miles, while I had easy sailing to my brother's place.  And this is where I left the driving to my brother....

We reached Sayville about 45 minutes early, and we killed time at a local coffee shop.before going to the church.  The above picture does not do the interior of the church justice.  It was built over 130 years ago, when the town was a rural hamlet.  And it still has a bit of land which it maintains for use as a cemetery.  
But I digress....

Arriving at the church, we were greeted by the priest who discussed his plans for the service.  Shortly afterward, my uncle's nice (from his wife's side of the family) came in with some of her brood in tow.  And at 2:00 sharp, the service began, with a zoom transmission being made available to his friends in Los Angeles.  Twenty minutes later, the service was over, and we went to the repast being held at a nearby restaurant.

There's not much I can say about the conversations that went on.  What is more interesting is what my brother hinted to me about what might happen when my aunt dies.  Neither of us expects to inherit any significant sums of money. He feels that when my aunt dies, my aunt and uncle's joint estate will be liquidated, and we will inherit a small sum of money.  If I inherit enough for the two of us to take a vacation, I will spend it on a Hawaii trip for two.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

A Clothes Horse on a Long Trip

I used to complain to my late wife about her being a clothes horse. Now, I find myself as much of a clothes horse as she was.  Unlike my late wife, I have the assets to refresh my wardrobe much more often than she did, and can afford to do so.

- - - - - -

Yesterday, Vicki and I drove upstate to Flax's annual barn sale. This means that I would need to be awake 4 hours earlier than normal for a weekend day and ready by 9:00 am, so that we'd be at the barn sale by 1:00 pm.  Both Vicki and I were on time for this long drive.

Given that I do not have a typical female body, I knew that I had to wear a garment to the sale which would allow me to try on clothing, but not strip down far enough to advertise this face.  So, I chose to wear a unitard under an airy duster.  But this made it awkward for me to take bio breaks.  To deal with this, I decided to carry a change of clothes I could wear after leaving the sale.

Neither of us had breakfast before the drive, so we stopped at a deli on the outskirts of Cold Spring for a bite to eat.  This is not something unusual for me when out for a long drive.  And we needed this stop, as we were feeling hungry again several hours later when we were nearing Flax's sale.  At least, there was an open rest area along the way where we could both take a bio break and pick up some nuts to sate our hunger until we were done with Flax.

Arriving at Flax, we saw a small factory with a large parking area.  On part of the parking lot was a tent 300' x 100' where pallets of clothing were available to be picked through in boxes 3' x 3' x 3' organized only by size.  If one wanted anything, one would have to sort through the contents of each box in one's size and hope that there was something interesting in the box.  At the entrance, we were greeted by several friendly people, and as usual, Vicki chatted them up a little before going into the tent where Flax's garments were for sale.  Once inside the tent, it was calm, but organized chaos - women were dressed in clothing which allowed them to try on other clothes without having to strip.  I was not out of place.

Flax's staff was both friendly and helpful.  One of the ladies I met mentioned that her mother worked there, and that she didn't know how good a value these sales were.  Another lady offered to help me find some dresses in these boxes, and found 4 which I ended up buying.  Vicki also got help and found several garments she could wear in her new size. (She has lost 1/3 of her weight on her diet, and I am still not used to seeing her this thin.)  By the time we paid for our merchandise and left the tent, it was close to 2:00 pm, and both of us were ready for something to eat.

Now, this is where a tickle of frustration came to me....

Vicki knows that I have traveled upstate often enough in my life to have a mental roadmap of how to get home from the NYS Thruway.  Yet, she punches in her home as a destination before driving home.  This is not a bad thing when we are driving from the middle of nowhere.  But it is a bad thing when she is driving me home.  I said that I know a nice Japanese restaurant in the Albany area that we could try.  Arriving at the restaurant around 5:00 pm, we settle down and have our first real meal for the day.  Both of us chose "bento box" dinners - and they were yummy!  I'd certainly go back to this place if I were in the Albany area again.

Leaving the restaurant, Vicki again chose to use the GPS for directions home instead of listening to me.  I drove the same route home often when I hung out with a Polyanorous group in the Albany area.  So I should know the best way home.  Instead, she chose to follow the machine's directions and take the long way home - but not on the thruway.  (Remember, she punched the code for directions to her home, not mine.)  An example of the GPS giving bad directions was in the Albany area, where it told her to take one exit, then make a U-Turn to get back on the same road.  It didn't know how to tell her how to deal with several successive forks in the road.  Yet, we still made decent time, switching away from heading downstate on the Taconic Parkway to using US 9 to reach my house.  Even though we hit some traffic in the Poughkeepsie area, we made good time. Yet, I could tell that she was getting tired because of her decision to trust the GPS (and spend more time in her drive) than directions I could have give.

It was a 4 hour drive up to the sale, and a 5+ hour return from the sale (exclusive of dinner).  Would I do it again?  Maybe.  But I know to insist that Vicki ignore the GPS when I have a better idea of how to get to a destination than it has....


Norwegian Fjord Cruise Vacation - 06/28/24 (Zeebrugge, Belgium)

Today is our last stop in mainland Europe, and our last shore excursion.  We have been choosing relatively low energy shore excursions, as n...