Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Motorcycle Camping


I like learning new things. Researching what gear is available, figuring out how to use it, and then experimenting in the field. It's a process I enjoy. I'm in the midst of a new learning-curve for outdoor adventure.

Nature and motorcycling both appeal to me so I thought about combining the two. Camping while travelling by motorcycle is a unique creature: it requires extra equipment which needs to be attuned to the storage-limitation of a bike. You want enough gear to be comfortable but not too much to overload your storage-capacity.

Hotels are nice but expensive. Paying $100-200 every night adds up, especially when you can save 90% of that cost at a campground. I plan to take longer trips in the future (as I wean myself off work). Including some camping on those long trips will lower the overall expense and add the fun of sleeping in the woods.

I've spent the past few weeks looking at this situation. Figuring out what I need, where to put it, and learning if my choices work. After a trial-run, I'm happy to report I'm set!

For sleeping, I got a tent that's large enough for two bodies but compact enough to store on my bike. In addition to a sleeping bag, I know from experience the most important ingredient for outdoor-comfort is a sleeping pad. Pads keep you off the cold ground and offer cushioning. Mine is self-inflating and an inch-and-a-half thick. All my gear came from the best outdoor store around, named REI. It's a coop where I'm a member and get good discounts.

I have enough basic cooking equipment to make a simple meal and brew coffee. That's adequate for overnight stays. My days will be spent riding or hiking so I don't need more camping stuff than this.

Next month I'm riding up to Maine to camp in the wild. Do you like to camp?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Vixens Roll

Saturday night is coming and we're getting ready to roll!

But before we fight The Cute Cougars, we need to select our outfits and do our makeup. I couldn't decide between a chic look and a playful one so I tried both. Which do you prefer?

The fun shirt came from a local boutique and inspired this post. The belt was snagged in Canada (Talize) while shopping with Suzanne (only $2.99 in Canadian money). I love thrift-stores!

I hope your weekend is a great one!















Monday, August 7, 2017

Crisis Averted


I can't even say the number. In a few months, I leave my fifties. Forever. And enter uncharted waters. All year I've been agonizing over this passage. I haven't mentioned my dread to anyone because it's that serious. Existential.

My fear is not simply growing older but, more importantly, losing the opportunity to be young. Active, adventurous, animated. I don't want to give that up for a dreary future of early dinners, AARP and cultural irrelevance. I don't want to be a sexagenarian.

Fortunately, I've come to my senses. I realize that I'm still in control of my destiny. The real determinant of my future -- my own choices -- is helping me avoid a crisis.

When I was 39, I faced a similar situation. I feared 40 meant the end of my youth. After deliberation I reacted to the event positively: I took stock of my life, fixed what was wrong and steered toward happiness. It's not a coincidence that that is when I started riding motorcycles, a passion which has enriched my life for twenty years.

What bothers me about turning... um... the next number is its common association with old age. Senior discounts, retirement, Medicare... I'm not ready for that. I want to continue my exploits, not slow down.

I plan to do that. And my sustained efforts to maintain vitality over the past decade are paying off. I feel physically fitter than I did ten years ago. Since 2010 I've made vast strides moving toward a more authentic life. I added several good friends and deepened my personal connection to everyone I care about. I even squirreled away some money with smart investments. In short, I've made good choices and their benefits will be reaped in the future. So what am I worried about?

I suppose my fear is foolish; the thing that needs to change is my outlook. Society won't define my future; I will. As long as I remain curious, eager and open to life, I can live my way and that will be satisfying.

Whew!

Have you ever worried about your age? How'd you handle it?



Thursday, August 3, 2017

AllyCat On The Prowl

I'm happy with the outfit I wore today. And have two things to tell you about it.

First, I never would have bought this dress if Suzanne and Patti hadn't given me the courage to try it on in a store dressing-room. The dress doesn't stretch so buying it without a try would have been too risky. What a pleasant surprise in the dressing-room when I discovered it fits!

Second, I realize that lately I've been lazy with my makeup. Makeup is usually the last thing I do for a photoshoot and, by that time, I'm tired. I tend to slap on the minimum and get going. But my face deserves -- and needs -- better than that. To transform my masculine features into feminine ones takes work. I should do that work. I know I should. Hey, I'm talking to myself here...  :-)

Thoughts?















A Rare Moment In Time

There was a period (1965-1975) when men's fashion was fun. Colorful, experimental and fun.

I lived through that period and exploited its sartorial freedom for gender-bending. In 1973 I wore a top to high school that was sold as male clothing, but man, it was wild! Skin-tight knit fabric with brightly-colored floral design and a thick, brown elastic band around the waist -- which left 3-4 inches of skin exposed between it and my pants. Even teachers noticed and commented on it (negatively).

Here's another example from that time. Thoughts?



Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Spirit of Racing" Pen (Montblanc)


Uh-oh... it happened again. I'm in love.

There are some objects, like writing pens and motorcycles, that need to be seen in person. Until you hold one in your hand or between your legs, you have no idea if it appeals to you. Pictures don't convey the size, weight and proportions of the actual object. Many times I've ogled motorcycles in magazines but, encountering them at the annual Javits exhibition, discovered they leave me cold. And vice versa.

I went out riding today and dropped into Roosevelt Field Mall. Browsing the Montblanc boutique, I was struck by a new pen they have -- the "Spirit of Racing Doue." Its resin body is shaped like the tread of a racing tire and has the feel of a finely-tuned instrument. Unlike any other pen, this one has the Montblanc emblem suspended in the transparent cap which makes it appear to be floating in air. Very cool!

I can see carrying this pen around with me everywhere as part of my standard equipment. Hey, by the way, did I tell you my birthday's coming up soon?  :-)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Vintage Haul


I had a wonderful time tonight!

I heard my favorite store (Rosie's Vintage) was participating in a "Late Night Arts, Antiques and Vinyl Fest" at our local art-film house so I went down to see what was on tap. There were a dozen vendors of really cool stuff -- authentic vintage clothing, interesting antiques and vinyl records. Craft beer lubricated the event and a DJ pumped up the vibe. It was a party where you could bring stuff home!

I saw my good friend Thea whom I mentioned here two months ago. We hugged and chatted. I root for Thea to succeed and was happy to see a horde of eager beavers in front of her wares. Among her vintage goods were two items I picked up -- an antique camera and an Edison Record. Edison Records were the earliest musical recordings: they captured sound on cylinders made of wax and later celluloid. They were sold from 1888 to 1929. It's fun having a piece of history even if you don't own the antique "phonograph" used to play it.

From another vendor I snagged a cute tie-bar for my neckties. The bar depicts a bowling ball and pins which are classic icons from the Forties and Fifties. I got mermaid note-cards made by a female Japanese artist who uses an ancient print-making process to create them. I fell in love with a frilly pink top which will grace an outfit-post soon. Of course I took home some vinyl: an album by Harry Chapin, popular singer from the Seventies who worked to cure hunger, and another by Lead Belly, blues singer from a century ago.














Lastly, I enjoyed leafing through a box of old photographs. There is something moving about old pictures even if you don't know the people in them. I found two which struck an emotional chord in me and I brought them home. What do you think when you look at them?

Next time an event like this pops up, you should join me!






Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Summer Fun

It's the peak of Summer so I want to wear something fun. A tulle skirt fills that bill. I'm adding a cute top I picked up for a song. What do you think of the ensemble?

P.S., Here's another secret about my life. When most women come home, they kick off their heels. When I arrive home, I *put on* my heels. I wear them around the house because I enjoy how they make me feel -- putting me in touch with my feminine side. I may be the only woman who relaxes, cooks and cleans in high heels but that's okay, because "there's no wrong way to be a woman."

(I love that phrase; it's the tagline of a video which encourages acceptance of diversity.)















Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Improve Salad With Croutons

I've discovered a magical salad ingredient -- croutons. In some mysterious way, croutons make salads better. It's probably because they add texture and crunch.

I buy bags of croutons and recently wondered why I pay a lot of money for something I could probably make myself. Plus, since croutons are often seasoned, why not add your own favorite spices instead? So I set out to learn how to make croutons. Turns out, it's easy!

Just take some old bread, cut it up into cubes, put the pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle with olive oil and any spices you like. Conventional recipes suggest salt and pepper. I use Old Bay Seasoning. (I did a post on Old Bay Seasoning two years ago; it's delicious!)

Put the seasoned cubes on a tray (I use aluminum foil to ease clean-up) and pop into a pre-heated oven. Fifteen minutes of 400-degree heat. Then let cool.

And they're done! The process couldn't be simpler. The croutons are tasty and cost practically nothing, much better than spending $5 for a bag of bland ones. Warning -- like freshly-baked cookies, homemade croutons right out of the oven smell irresistible; if you start nibbling, you'll lose half a batch before you realize it. They make an amazing snack.

Here are pics of the three-step process for croutons I made tonight...











Saturday, July 22, 2017

Secrets


We're friends, aren't we? Friends confide in each other. I'm gonna tell you a secret and, if you want, you can reveal one of yours.

It's public knowledge that I'm transgender. It's also been publicly disclosed that when I was six years old I wrapped a bath-towel around my body and pretended it was a dress. An essay revealed that when I was ten years old I bought a pair of tan pantyhose which I hid in an empty coffee-can and buried in our backyard. Everyone knows these things about me.

You also know I've been actively buying women's clothes during the past decade.

My secret... and this is something nobody knows until now... is that on the many shopping expeditions in my life, I never tried on women's clothing in a store dressing-room until two weeks ago when I went thrifting with Suzanne and Patti. That was the first (and only) time I've done it.

Honestly, this is something I never thought I'd have the courage to do. It's a PUBLIC violation of gender rules, particularly conspicuous since most stores -- including the one we visited -- have an employee guarding the dressing room to check items you bring in. I've also always worried about disturbing other female shoppers who might be discomforted at the sight of me. Would it upset you to see a "man" taking women's clothing into a dressing room? (Addendum: As noted in my response to Elle's comment below, these were private, single-person dressing rooms, not a communal room; I respect and would never intrude on other women's privacy.)

Credit for my first experience doing this belongs to Suzanne. Suzanne not only suggested I do this, she implied she expected me to. Suzanne made me confront my fear and, at the same time, she reassured me with her presence. If you've ever met Suzanne in person, you know she radiates power. (See above picture.) I knew she'd have my back if trouble arose. With her support, I felt strong enough to break a new personal barrier.

Thank you, Suzanne!

And now tell me one of your secrets!

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Beach

I left work early today and went to the beach. It was relaxing and fun. Best of all, there were kites! The most amazing kites. I've never seen such creations flying in the wind. Aren't they cool?























Thursday, July 20, 2017

Growing Through Mistakes

I have immense respect for women. One reason is their effort to look attractive. It takes skill and hard work to fashion an appealing look. Men have no idea how hard that is.

Learning how to select and wear women's clothing has been a journey for me, full of mistakes and poor choices. I was initially embarrassed by my errors but I've come to embrace them. In all areas of growth, mistakes can teach us, bad decisions can be fixed. Your feedback has explained to me what I did wrong, how I can improve and what to do better next time. The education has enabled me to make smarter choices in my appearance.

 So I no longer worry about making a fool of myself. Mistakes are a price I'm willing to pay for growth.

Here's a glamorous gown I thrifted for a small sum, less than the cost of lunch. I gave it my best shot. Thoughts?















Monday, July 17, 2017

Arizona

I went to Tucson this weekend and it was hot. 107 degrees hot.

The Arizona desert is surrounded by mountains and has a unique beauty. You expect the place to be barren but there's plenty of animal and plant life surviving the harsh environment. Here are some pics.

Have you ever been to a desert?























Saturday, July 15, 2017

Another View

Suzanne's write-up of my visit last week is fun and informative -- like her!

Check it out.   Click here

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Final Photos

At the risk of inducing Toronto Fatigue, here are the final photos taken last Saturday.
(Makeup by Suzanne; photography by Suzanne)