Sunday, February 28, 2010

What A Beautiful Night!

I just spent a comfortable ten minutes out on the deck in a pair of denim capris, and a light weight acrylic sweater. It's nearly midnight, and it's still a tropical 41∘F. A clear sign that the frigid arctic weather that has plagued us for so long this winter, is finally on the wane. The night sky was a beautiful mixture of billowy white clouds, clear star strewn skies, and a bight, nearly full moon. What a beautiful back drop to the naked skeletons of the trees in their winter slumber.

Most of the snow has melted in areas where the sun shines, but thick piles still lurk in shaded areas. The roof is finally clear, but the rear deck is shaded. The treacherous ice sheet of re-frozen roof melt water in front of my door, that made traversing to the steps a life or death proposition, has finally melted, but 3/4 of the deck that I didn't shovel, still has four to six inches of snow on it. Yet some of the trees are already budding. Can winter last for long?

I've been watching the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics tonight. An enormous hug goes out to all of our beautiful neighbors to the north, for the absolutely fabulous two week party they just put on for the world! Kudos Canucks, and a very warm thanks to all of you! You did yourselves proud! :-) Next stop, London, for the summer Olymipics in 3 1/2 years!

By the way, my latest girl crush? Julia Mancuso! She is only 26. God, I feel so old!

Melissa XX

Saturday, February 27, 2010

OK, Time To Raise Some Hackles

"I am a woman, trapped in the body of a man". How many times have we heard this cliche? How many times have we repeated it, ourselves? Frankly, every time I hear it, it makes me cringe. I would really like to be taken seriously, and I don't think that simpistic cliche has helped. In fact I've heard it referenced more in tranny jokes, than in serious discussions of transsexualism.

First of all, let me say for the record that I am transsexual. I have always identified with females. I have always been envious of females, and have wanted to express myself in the same ways they do. I have always known that I was not like other boys, but until I first heard the word transsexual, I didn't know what I was. I just thought I was weird. Once I learned about transsexualism, I knew what I was. That self diagnosis was confirmed in the early mid eighties, by a psychiatrist I visited.

Now, I have heard many transsexuals say they always knew they were women trapped in the bodies of men, but I have never bought it. Is that truly how they felt, or were they simply grasping for a relevant description, and mimicking the projections of others, who were mimicking the projections of others before them? The reason that I say this, is because what constitutes a woman, is so subjective, and that cliche has been around for so long. The first time I heard it, was way back in the sixties.

I have never once in my entire life, honestly thought that I was a woman trapped in the body of a man. To be honest, what I have always been, is a very desperate, lonely male, who has longed to be what he thought was a girl, for as long as he has lived, and please, no disgusting references to the scientifically dubious diagnosis of autogynophilia. God that term makes me grate my teeth! No, to be a woman trapped in the body of a man, I would have to be genetically female, with male genitalia. In other words, inter-sexed.

Does all of this make me any less female than genetically born females, or even even post-op transsexual women. Considering that it is my brain that makes me identify with females, I am essentially female where I live, inside my head, and in my heart. I don't know for sure, but I think the major difference between my sister and me, is that I have a more pronounced male side than she does. I think every one has both a male and female side. My emotional side is 100% female, Maybe that explains why I tear up at the drop of a hat. My intellectual side however, feels more although not entirely male. I think that is because my intellectual side stems from my father rather than my mother, and I used his personality as a model to fabricate the male persona, that I needed to survive in our gender binary world.

Does any of this make any sense to any of you, or do you think I'm, way out in left field? I know that as transsexuals we want validation, and validation starts with our own self image, but do we have to become intellectually dishonest, and make illogical claims to others, in an attempt to gain validation from them? Wouldn't it be more intellectually honest to simply admit, that although we were born as males, our brains were feminized in the womb, and consequently we would rather live lives femininely expressed?

OK. I've said it. I'm now ready to be lead off to the stocks. Please, just make sure that the fruit and vegetables aren't too rotten. Rotten vegetables on the face, always makes me gag.

Melissa XX

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Late Winter Blues

This has been one of the longest, most miserable winters in recent memory. Temperatures have been averaging far lower than normal in the mid-Atlantic Piedmont, and there has been way, way too much snow and ice! This hasn't been good time for me. I've been house bound, I've been without power for days, I've had trees laying on the roof and against the house, I've risked my neck every time I stepped out onto the ice covered deck outside my door, and my electric bills have been the highest in years. In short, I have the blues.

Now if I"m going to suffer the blues, I'm going to seek out kindred spirits, and Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson notwithstanding, there is no one I know of to commiserate with better than Jimi Hendrix. Ah, but you say, what has Jimi Hendrix got to do with the blues, wasn't he into psychadelia? Yes he certainly was, but had he lived, he would have rivaled Eric Clapton as one of the world's best blues guitarists, and in my opinion Clapton couldn't have touched him.

Got the blues? Check out Hendrix playing Red House.

Melissa XX

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Does Beautiful Music Make You Weep?

It does me. The voice of Luciano Pavarotti always made me cry. He sang just like an angel. The music of Dvořák does it to me too. Here is one I can never listen to without shedding tears, a little taste of Symphony No. 9 "From The New World". Grab a tissue, close your eyes and enjoy! By the way, that's the Wiener Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan, conducting.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just a Reminder About Jenny

Jenny who has her own blog here called, Take Two! A New Beginning, A New Life, is going to have her surgery tomorrow. If you would like to send her some words of encouragement, her email address is

Melissa XX

Coping With Obnoxious Male Acquaintances.

Sorry, but tonight's blog is a bit of a rant.

As most of you know, I go to my mother's on Monday night for supper. My late sister and her husband always used to come too. When Jane died, her husband, R kept coming, and of course he is always welcome. After all, he was married to my sister for 28 years. The trouble is, R is one of the most obsessive and obnoxious boors I have ever known. His doctor has prescribed psychotropic drugs, but he refuses to take them. He has become so addicted to feeling amped up all of the time, that he hates to take his meds, because they bring him down to a more normal human level, but without them, no one can stand to be around him, because he becomes a sort of Mr. Hyde. His ego completely takes over, and he becomes an expert on everything. Mention a subject in casual conversation, and immediately he chimes in, and lectures everyone on it. Nothing you have ever done is of any interest to him, because he has done more, or better, or harder, or longer......etc.. and he absolutely never fails to remind everyone, what a man he is.

I dearly love my sister and my mother, and I only get to see them once a week , but my bro-in-law completely ruins our get togethers, with his obnoxious boorish behavior. What to do? He's family, so we can hardly say, go away, yet he simply refuses to accept any criticisms of his behavior! Just last night, my mother cooked a pot roast. Yum! Was it ever good! She sliced it up, and put it on a serving platter on the dining room table. No sooner had she had placed the platter on the table, than R dug in, and unloaded half of its contents for himself! Shades of my sister's birthday dinner at the Olive Garden, where he unloaded all of the Parmesan cheese topped salad for himself! My sister saw what he was doing, and said something to the effect of , "Hey, why are you taking so much, you're being a pig!", to which he arrogantly and snottily replied, "That's just a value judgment." Then he tried to defend his piggish behavior, by saying," I'm a man, and I need more." To her credit, my sister answered, "Yes, it absolutely is a value judgment!" Of course he wasn't phased by her remarks at all, and once again, I just wanted to smack him!

After dinner, mom served us chocolate pudding for desert, but that wasn't good enough for him. He then had to scour my mother's cupboards, until he found her stash of mini Snicker's bars. He then grabbed a great handful of them and sat down at the kitchen table, and as my sister cleaned up and fed dishes into the dishwasher, and I made coffee for my mother and me, he unpeeled the chocolate bars, and devoured them. Then incredibly, as I was pouring coffee for my mother and me, he went back grabbed another handful!

R was my late sister's husband for 28 years, but because he has such an obnoxious personality, I really can't stand to be around him for more than five minutes at a time, but he's family and I can't avoid him. What am I suppose to do? I usually don't say anything and try to take it all in stride, but I'm afraid that one of these days, its all going to all come to head, and I'm going to lose it and unload on him. I know that won't do any good, because he is totally oblivious to any criticism. He has such a lofty self image, that he simply doesn't value what others think of him. How in the world does someone get that way? I wondered aloud to my sister after he left Monday night, how our sister ever stayed married to him for 28 years. She said that she just ignored him. I try to do that, but he is so "in your face", that it's virtually impossible.

Since I have retired, I have virtually eliminated all social contacts with males in my life. My brother-in-law remains the one male that I see on a regular basis. After a life time of dealing with egotistical overbearing men on my job, why does the one remaining male in my life have to be such an A-hole?

Thanks for letting me vent. Any advice on how to cope with such an obnoxious, yet unavoidable relative, will be greatly appreciated!

Melissa XX

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Soaring Temperatures Hit Central Virginia!

It was a sweltering 52∘today! You would think I'd be happy after two solid months of frigid weather, but I'm not. We are still covered in snow and ice from the back to back storms, that cursed us earlier this month. I live in a rural subdivision, that has no paved roads. Our roads are hard packed clay, with a sprinkling of gravel to provide grit when the roads get wet. In the summer, when the road is dry, rooster tails of dust go flying up high into the air behind any vehicle that traverses them. Now we have the opposite problem. Scraping the snow off the road also scraped the gravel off, and the melting snow and ice has saturated the clay, and turned it into a gray muddy, pothole laden soup. Our tires pick up this soup, and spray it all over the sides of our cars and tucks, making a glorious muddy mess. When exiting my truck, the backs of my legs make contact with the outside of the rocker panels, and that gray muddy soup is transferred to the back of my pant legs. A clean pair of pants is good for just one ride, then onto the dirty clothes pile!

My house has no gutters, so melting snow and ice drips down onto the deck below and refreezes. If I don't do something to abrade the thick icy surface and increase traction, I risk breaking my neck every time go out the door!

Two pine trees broke in the last storm. One fell against the house, with its top resting on the roof, and the other fell on top of that one. Thanks to my inconsiderate next door neighbor, I don't have a functioning chain saw anymore, but I do have a bow saw. Yesterday I got out and cut up the tree laying on the one that's on the house. I will have to use my pole saw to pair down the one on the house, since a significant portion of it is above the roof. I've been worrying about these pines for years, ever since an ice storm earlier in the decade coated them in ice, and permanently bent them in the direction of the house. Well.....I don't need to worry about these two anymore, but there is still a larger one that didn't break. Every time we get significant snow, it bends over and kisses the roof. Then when the snow melts, it springs back up. If it ever breaks, I fear it will land on the roof and do some serious damage, because it is twice as thick as the two that snapped.

I've been watching the Winter Games in Vancouver this week. I particularly enjoyed the men's free skate, and the ice dancing. I'm now looking forward to the women's free skate. Then of course there is the complete insanity of the downhill, and head first sliding down an icy channel on little sleds at 90MPH in the Skeleton! These competitors have to be stark raving mad thrill seekers! But nuts as they are, they do make the winter Olympics much more fun to watch than the summer events.

The great giant slab of meat that my mother served on Monday, finally made its exit. Now I know what an anaconda feels like, after swallowing a capybara! ;-)

Tonight's music: Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring, and Petrushka, and Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade. Nice stuff! :-)

Melissa XX

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Great Giant Slabs Of Meat

I went to my mother's for supper last night. We usually gather in her den for about a half an hour before we eat. When my sister arrived, she stopped by the kitchen to talk to mom, before joining my brother-in-law and me in the den. "She's cooking giant slabs of meat!" my sister said, with a look of horror on her face. A few minutes later we went to the kitchen, where mom handed me a large dinner plate with a huge T-bone steak and baked potato on it. I carried it out to the dining room, where there were individual tossed salads at each place setting, and a large serving dish of asparagus at one end of the table. I love asparagus, so I fished a few stalks out of the serving dish for myself, but the great giant slab of meat took up three quarters of the plate, and the baked potato took up the remaining quarter. The steak had to be repositioned, so that it was cantilevering out over the rim of the plate, in order to accommodate the length of the tender green shoots between it and the potato.

Now I eat meat, but I'm not a great red meat eater. I will occasionally have a hamburger or small steak, but I usually eat chicken or fish. I knew that eating that T-bone was going to be a challenge. The small tenderloin side was easy, but masticating the larger and somewhat tougher NY strip side took a little more effort. When I was a teenager, I would have eaten that entire steak with ease, and afterwards gnawed the meaty remnants from the bone, but today that much beef weighs heavy on my aged digestive tract. However, with the knowledge that I couldn't expect to have any pudding, if I didn't eat my meat, I applied myself and finished the great giant slab. No gnawing on the bone this time though. For all that effort, it turned out that there was no pudding after all, but there was pumpkin pie with a whipped topping, an acceptable substitute. It was still warm too, and even more flavorful than when cold. I fear I will be digesting that meal for a week.

Later, my sister wanted to access my mom's email account for her. Because mom has never learned to do anything more than play bridge on her I-Mac, she relies on us bring her email up, so she can see pictures sent to her by extended family members. Well, it turns out that Comcast, her broadband provider, has upgraded their system, and they no longer supported her older version of Safari. So I tried to download the latest version of Safari, but mom didn't remember what her system pass word was. I had written it down in her computer manual, when I first set it up for her, so a search ensued to find the manual that I had told her should never leave her computer desk. About ten minutes later, it was found on a card table, at the bottom of a basket full of miscellaneous pamphlets and papers. With that, I was able to start the download of her software updates, but by then I had to go, and left my sister to monitor the download and rebooting. I still don't know whether that did the trick or not. Mom's computer problems never seem to come up, until right before I'm ready to leave for my one hour drive back home, and strangely even though we both have I-Macs, her's seems to be set up differently than mine, always requiring different commands to achieve the same results.

When I got home last night, I watched one of my favorite events in the Olympics, pairs free skating. It was a bad night for most of the pairs, with many unfortunate falls, except for the top two pairs from China, who to my untrained eye skated flawlessly. For someone who vividly remembers the dark days of the Cultural Revolution, where everyone, male and female wore olive drab Mao jackets, and stodgy propagandist displays passed for art, it was pure joy to watch these two beautiful Chinese couples, skating so gracefully and expertly to romantic western music!

The spring catalogs are starting to find their way into mailboxes now. If you are interested in some pretty, girly clothing and shoes, at affordable prices, check out . Unfortunately for me, their shoe sizes only go up to a US size 10, but much of their clothing goes from Small, all the way up to 2X, or a size 4 through size 24.

Melissa XX

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why Do I Always Weep, Whenever I See That Torch Being Lit?

I don't know why, but I always do this. I fought back tears watching the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies tonight. What a wonderful show! I felt so proud for our brothers and sisters to the north. I have always loved Canada, and often thought I was a citizen of the wrong north American country. Canadians are a much more progressive minded and tolerant lot, than many of their US neighbors to the south, and are far less prone to arrogance and boasting.

The opening ceremony was a beautiful artistic creation. It is incredible what can be done with projections, lighting, and props. I was absolutely wowed by the way they transformed the stadium floor into 1st, the the frozen arctic ice pack, and then into the summer arctic ocean, complete with swimming and blowing whales!

As someone who once lived out on the great plains of Nebraska, I immediately connected with the segment dedicated to the Canadian great plains, as well as tributes to their aboriginal peoples. And who could have listen to K.D. Lang singing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and not be moved?

Great opening ceremony! I am looking forward to the next two weeks of Olympic coverage.

On a sad note, a young Georgian luge driver, perished today, when his sled went off the track and he slammed into a steel I-beam at 90 MPH. Incredibly, NBC News tonight, actually showed a video of his tragic accident and death. Shame on them and their yellow journalism ! Much was made of the fact that the I-beams were not padded. 90 MPH, would padding really have made any difference? God love him!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All Quiet On The Eastern Coast

After the forth major nor'easter since mid December, things are returning to normal in the deep snow blanketed mid Atlantic region of the US. If we never see another snow storm or ice storm, it won't be soon enough for me, and probably a lot of others as well! I nearly dropped to my knees to offer thanks to the gods today, when the worst had past, and I still had electrical power!

I made a quick trip up to the local store yesterday morning, to purchase five gallons of kerosene, just in case. Things didn't look too bad, when I went to bed last night. Much of the snow that had accumulated on the trees the weekend before, had either melted, or was washed off by several hours of rain yesterday evening. When I awoke this morning however, it was a different story. The nor'easter had progressed up the coast, and now, thanks to its counter clockwise flow, we were receiving a backhanded bitch slapping! Looking out my bathroom window at 7:00 AM, I saw that the trees were once again covered with snow, and it looked like a blizzard was going on.

I got dressed and made a pot of coffee and some breakfast, thinking I better hurry, because the power is going to go out any minute now, but it never did. By 11:00 AM the snow had stopped, and I went out and shoveled the steps, and a path to the back door, then cleaned the six inches of new snow and ice off of my truck. Then I came back inside and washed several loads of clothes, thankful that I still had electricity to feed my washer and dryer, yet ever wary that a strong gust of wind would take down a tree limb somewhere, and a power line along with it.

All day long I kept hearing warnings of high winds and the possibility of power outages, but the lights stayed on! Tonight in thanks, I gave a burnt offering to the gods, a well done hamburger, and since the gods are ethereal, and therefore have no need for actual sustenance, they generously gave the hamburger back to me for my dinner! I call that a win win situation!

Tonight's posting was made while listening to Dvorak's New World Symphony, absolutely one of my all time favorites!

Melissa XX

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Note to self: Limit liquids after 8:00 PM

Let's see, a 16 oz Diet Coke at 6:00 PM, an 8 oz cup of coffee at 7:00 PM, a 14 oz de-caff at 9:30 PM and a 12 oz can of root beer on ice at 11:00 PM. No wonder I got up three times to pee last night!

Speaking of last night, we managed to get a break in the foul weather, so the family got together, and we took my sister to the Olive Garden, for a belated Italian birthday dinner. The Olive Garden is a chain restaurant, but the food is tasty and plentiful, so it's a good place to go occasionally to pig out, and pig out we did. Oink!

My mother and sister and I, were joined by my sister's daughter and a friend of hers, and by my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law was already there waiting when I arrived, so I joined him and in few minutes my sister and my mother showed up. I gave my sister a humorous birthday card, with a picture of chimp in a smoking jacket, holding a wine glass up in a toast. Inside it said, "Happy Birthday to someone, who is highly evolved!", and it contained a gift certificate from Barnes & Noble bookstore. Shortly thereafter, my niece and her friend arrived, and we retired to a large round table in the rear dining room.

I remembered eating in that room once last spring, and the air conditioning was turned down so low, that I had to go back out to the car and get my jacket. Even with the jacket on, I was still cold. It was all I could think of when the waitress led us to our table, and sure enough, it felt like a meat locker in there again! So much so, that I left my hat and coat on. My sister asked the waitress if she could turn the heat up, and she said she would see what she could do about it.

The Olive Garden always starts you off with as much salad and bread sticks as you want, so our waitress brought two big bowls of salad to the table. Something else they always do is ask you if you want shredded Parmesan on everything, including the salad. My sister didn't want cheese on her salad, so she asked her to give us one bowl with, and one bowl without cheese. My macho brother-in-law, acting like the typical selfish male prick that he is, immediately grabbed the bowl with the shredded Parmesan on top, and tonged up the entire cheese covered top layer of salad for himself. It never even crossed his thoughtless mind, that others might want some cheese on their salad too. I felt like smacking him. He does crap like that all of the time. When he was done, he passed the bowl to me, and I dished out some of the remaining cheese-less salad for myself, then passed it to my mother, saying loud enough for him to hear, "Sorry mom, but all the cheese was taken." What a self centered clod he can be! It's precisely that kind of selfish, uncaring behavior, that made me stop associating with males years ago, and made my days working predominantly with men, such a miserable experience. Why is it that so many men only think about themselves, except when they want something from you? That really irritated me, but I didn't want it to ruin my time, so I stuffed it into a compartment in the back of my brain to stew over later. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to vent.

Anyway, the waitress asked if we wanted appetizers, so my mother ordered calamari, I ordered stuffed mushrooms, and my niece ordered a hot artichoke and spinach dip with Tuscan bread. We shared the appetizers, and along with the salad and bread sticks, we really had enough to eat right there, but we each ordered a main course as well. My sister and I both ordered a four cheese panssotti (stuffed pasta), with grilled Italian sausage and melted mozzarella, in a tomato Alfredo sauce. Mom got shrimp scampi. I'm not sure what my niece and her friend got, but macho man got that great Italian classic, a grilled NY strip steak and roasted potatoes!

About halfway through the appetizers, the room finally came up to a cozy temperature for a cold winter's night, and I was able to take my hat and coat off. Mom is a diminutive woman, barely 5' tall, if even that(How did I ever grow to be 5' 14"?). She isn't a big eater, and at home she always eats the main course first, and then gets full, so her salad becomes a late night snack. After a plateful of salad and half a plate of calamari, I knew she wouldn't have room left for her shrimp scampi and sure enough, her entire main course sat there chilling, as we all ate ours. It wasn't wasted though, it eventually went home with her in a Styrofoam container. My pansotti and Italian sausage was tasty, and quite filling after the salad and appetizers, so when deserts were ordered, I passed and just ordered coffee. With the exception of the Philistine siting to my right, it was an enjoyable evening of good company and gastronomy , but I will have to do some extra pedaling this week to make up for all the extra calories consumed.

So far the predicted second big snow storm of the week, has turned out to be a non event here. I ran out this morning, and refilled the kerosene can just in case, but so far we have only had about an inch and half of wet snow and sleet. The bulk of the storm seems to be going north of here, where another 10-20" are predicted on top of the 30" they already got this past weekend, but we're not out of the woods yet, because strong gusting winds are predicted for tomorrow, so I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.

Update on the weather - 8:31 AM

Well, apparently I spoke too soon. When I got up this morning I looked out the window, and it looked like a blizzard outside! Another four inches fell overnight, and according to the weather report on TV this morning, it's supposed to continue for another couple of hours. I don't know where it came from, because when I looked at the radar last night before going to bed, it looked like the storm was leaving our area. It must have wrapped back around.

Melissa XX

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Aftermath

That's a broken pine tree laying against the house. I was lucky. Those are my bedroom windows beneath it, and none were broken. The roof appears to be intact as well.

In my last post on Friday night, I expressed worry about the snow storm we were experiencing. It was a very heavy wet snow, and I was afraid it would weight the trees down, and knock down power lines. Not long after I posted that blog, I heard the first tree snap. I think it was the one above. It's a very distinctive sound. I had heard it several times before, during ice storms and hurricanes. Then at 1:23 AM on Saturday morning, the power did go out, so I went to bed. The snow continued through the night, and all day long Saturday, and I heard several more trees snap. By Saturday morning the temperature in the house was down to 50∘F, and it was becoming clear that the power would not be back on for along time, so I lit the kerosene heater.
This morning I walked around to survey the damage. This was the scene on the road out front, looking toward my two neighbors at the end of the cul-de-sac. A pine tree fell onto the electrical wire above, but it didn't take the wire down. Some men came by later on, and cut the tree down. This area is full of pine trees. They are a major pain during heavy snow and ice storms. They're more like big weeds than trees. They just can't handle the extra weight. Ice, heavy snow, or strong winds will bend them, and then they either break, or fall over.

The electricity finally came back on after 36 hours, and the first thing I did was heat a tank of hot water, and take a shower. I made it a quick shower, because I was afraid the power could go off again at any time, and I didn't want to get caught all lathered up, with no water pressure. After drying off and putting on some clean clothes, I was thinking how nice it was to have the lights, heat, and the computer back on, when the power went out again! Fortunately I hadn't turned the kerosene heater off, because the house had not yet come up to a comfortable temperature. Four hours later, the power came back on again. That was about three hours ago. I hope it stays on this time. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Hunkering down next to a kerosene heater, and cooking by lantern light on a camp stove for days at a time, is not my idea of fun.

Oh, bye the way............they are forecasting more snow for Tuesday! I think I've had enough of winter this year!

Melissa XX

Friday, February 5, 2010

Not Again!

A very wet heavy snow began to fall this morning. As you can see by the above picture, the trees are getting a good coating. About 4 inches had accumulated when this picture was taken. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. This kind of snow tends to weigh the trees down, especially the pines and cedars. When they break or fall over, they often take power lines down with them. Heavy snow and ice are the worst scenarios for power outages. Fortunately it has now turned to rain, so maybe some of the snow will be washed off of the trees, but it is supposed to turn back to snow later tonight as temperatures drop. Naturally, I decided not to go to my support group meeting tonight.

North of here they are in for a blizzard. The DC/Baltimore area is supposed to get from 20-30 inches of snow. Looks like Keri Renault and her shovel brigade will have their work cut out for them! Damned El Nino winters! Ironically, El Nino does us a favor in the summer and fall, by lessening the chance of hurricanes, but in winter it creates gulf storms, that roll up the east coast, and collide with arctic air coming down from Canada. The result is east coast snow storms.

This is snow storm number three so far this winter, but may not be the last. February is just beginning, and late February and early March snows are not uncommon. Oh Spring! Come quickly!

Melissa XX

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Calm Before The Storm

Will these winter storms ever end? I just knew we in for it this winter, when we had a 13" snow on December 19th. We rarely ever get big snows before Christmas in the Mid-Atlantic region. Little kids get sleds for Christmas, and usually don't get to use them until they are in high school! Most winters around here are mild, with daytime temperatures in the upper forties, or lower fifties. If we do get snow, it's usually just a light dusting. Ice is usually more of a problem than snow.

Well, now another winter storm is on its way. So far, my area is forecasted to get 5-10 inches of snow and sleet by one estimate, and 6-12 inches by another! A smaller storm blew through last night, and left an inch of slushy snow, that fortunately all melted by this afternoon, so I didn't have to shovel the deck and clean the truck off again. So far this winter, I have had a total of 2 feet of snow, and February is just getting started.

A mixed bag of snow and sleet is supposed to blanket the area, starting in the morning, and turning to all snow by afternoon tomorrow, and then continue through the night. Looks like my monthly transgender support group meeting in Richmond is a wash......for me anyway. Those who live in Richmond may have better driving conditions than me, although even they may end up with 1-3 inches.

Last Monday was my sister's birthday. We were going to take her out for dinner, but last weekend's snow storm left the streets in Richmond a mess. She and my mother, who also lives in
Richmond, decided to postpone her birthday dinner for a week. Now, depending on how bad Richmond gets hit, we may have to postpone it again. I hope not. If the weather keeps going the way it has been, we might end up celebrating her birthday and Mother's day at the same time!

Melissa XX

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I Have a Transgender Support Group Meeting Friday Night

Our scheduled guest speaker is to be a representative of the Virginia Stonewall Caucus, of the Democratic Party. He will be there to hear our concerns, so that he can be a better advocate for us. There was much discussion about this at our last meeting, and some who think it's best for us to eschew politics altogether, came down against it! I'm still a new and very shy member, and even though I was in favor of this guest speaker addressing us, I remained silent, leaving the debate to more senior members. It was decided that the subject would be discussed at the next board members meeting. I didn't attend, but apparently they decided to invite the guy after all, and he will be speaking to us Friday night. Good decision as far as I'm concerned. Congrats to those present, who voted yes!

But now, will I be there to hear him? Well, its up in the air right now. We are experiencing one of the more foul weathered winters, in a long time here in central Virginia. I live in the Virgina Piedmont. Our weather in winter, is significantly different from that on the coastal plain. This weekend they are calling for another winter storm. Richmond, where my meeting takes place should be fine, with rain only, but out here in the Piedmont the forecast is for snow and mixed frozen precipitation! That my dears, around here means ice! If the driving conditions are icy, I will stay home. Having already wrecked one vehicle driving on black ice, I have no intention of a repeat performance. I have vowed to simply not drive, when there are icy conditions. So I may be there with my sisters, and then maybe I won't. It all depends.

Melissa XX

Free Food For The Homeless!

Yes free, but only if you look like this little guy. He is a wood mouse. As many of you know, I live in a mouse ridden hovel, out in the Virgina countryside. As I jokingly told sweet Nicky the other day, I am the reincarnation of Miss Havisham. In many ways its true! No I don't live in a mansion, far from it, and I'm not perpetually dressed in a old wedding gown, with one shoe missing, nor is there a stale wedding cake on the table, but I am a poor housekeeper, and the mice are everywhere!

I was fixing breakfast the other morning, when out of the corner of my eye, something gray and furry scampered across the hallway to my left! Hmmm....I thought, they're back! Then another gray shadow streaked by! Yes! They're definitely back!

Living in a house in the woods, mice are a constant problem. Who can blame them though? Of course they would rather live in a warm house full delicious things to eat, and comfortable padded furniture, and piles of clothing to nest in. I don't blame them a bit, and I wouldn't even mind them living here, if it weren't for one of their more disgusting habits. They have absolutely no concept of toilet etiquette! They do not appreciate the comfortable home I have provided for them. All I ask is that they take their personal business outside, but no! They have to shit where they eat! Well that's where I draw the line! Taking naps with me on the sofa, is fine. It's a good way to build camaraderie, but I will not tolerate guests taking a crap anywhere they please in my house!

Now paraphrasing Patrick Henry, "Gentlewomen may cry, peace, peace, but there is no peace! The war has actually begun!" I have laid out the tasty trays of De-Con, and there is evidence that a significant feeding has already taken place. So nice of them to come to the banquet! Come my lovelies! Eat!

Thanks to the inspiration of Lucy Melford, tonight's blog is written while listening to, Sibelius Symphonies, Nos 4 and 5.

Melissa XX

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Contemplating Leonard Cohen

Tonight I'm listening to Leonard Cohen. I heard Leonard Cohen sing Suzanne for the very first time in 1968, while stationed at Fort Monmouth New Jersey. Fort Monmouth was one of the Army's main Signal Corps schools, and I was there to study the repair of field cryptographic equipment. Eight hours a day, for 36 weeks, covering basic electronics, digital logic, teletype repair, then on to the meat of the course; five separate pieces of digital electronic cryptographic equipment, used in conjunction with military teletype machines and backpack, vehicle and aircraft field radios.

For me, Fort Monmouth was a dream assignment. It was located in New Jersey, only 45 minutes south of New York City by bus, and a 15-20 minute drive from the Jersey Shore in Asbury Park, where Bruce Springsteen got his start playing in clubs on the boardwalk.

Being so close to NYC, we were very fortunate soldiers indeed! Not only because we could get weekend passes to go into New York City which was always a treat, but also, because through the din of all of the cruddy top forty and bubble gum rock radio stations, we were able to pull in some absolutely wonderful progressive radio stations, and our favorite was the powerful WNEW out of NYC! Two of their best DJ's were Rosko, and Alison Steele (The Night Bird) . Alison Steele was my favorite. She was a laid back, supremely cool and sexy voice in the night, bring us the latest and most progressive sounds of the era. I went to sleep each night listening to her. My middle name is Alison, and she was the inspiration for it! Sadly, Alison Steele died in 1995, and the eminently cool Rosko, also died in 2000. :-( When I was a 19 year old know nothing, these two wonderful people contributed to the opening of my mind, and introduced me to new concepts in music, art, poetry and beyond. I will never for get them, and the peaceful nights I spent with them, drifting off into slumber.

Leonard Cohen was one of the first they introduced me too, and I have loved him ever since. I recently heard an interview with him on NPR's Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross.

Like many of us, Cohen's life is a dichotomy of contradictions. Lyrical songs of innocence, like Suzanne and Hallelujah, are juxtaposed to poetic songs of cynicism, like Everybody Knows

According to his interview with Terry Gross, Cohen once spent a significant time living in a monastery, where he revealed that although everyone was utterly courteous to everyone else, he secretly hated everyone! Oh, how I can identify with that! ;-D

I love this man! He is one of the most beautiful human beings, I have ever encountered. If you have never heard his music an poetry, I would strongly encourage you to listen to his CD The Essential Leonard Cohen.

Tonight I will leave you with a Cohen number, that always brings tears to my eyes. Maybe because it somehow reminds me of all of you. Please listen to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah!

Melissa XX

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Hell Of An All Electric Home

I thought I was out of the woods. I had survived our second major snow storm in a little over a month, and made it through the night and into the next morning. I stayed up very late Saturday night, so I didn't get up until about 10:00 AM on Sunday. I made a pot of coffee, and because I was planning on having a ham, egg and cheese sandwich on toast, I threw a couple of pieces of bread into the toaster. It takes about a minute and forty seconds to cook one egg and piece of cheese in my microwave. Well, about a minute and ten seconds into the process, the power went off. My egg was still liquid in the center. Having suffered one bout of salmonella poisoning from a piece undercooked salmon last spring, I wasn't going to risk eating a half cooked egg, so I just made a ham and cheese sandwich instead. At least the coffee was still hot. I looked at the clock and it was 10:30 AM.

I'm used to the power going out here. It usually isn't out for more than a few hours, but it was only 18∘F outside at the time, and I was a little concerned about the house getting cold. The house is well insulated, and if the power was only going to be out for a few hours, I'd be OK. So I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. You never realize how much you rely on a home's electrical devices, until they are rendered useless. I keep my I-Mac on all day long, and whenever I have idle time, it gives me something to do. As most of you already know, daytime TV is crap, so the television usually only comes on at night, and then often only to provide some comforting background noise.

So, all day long I sat, alternately reading, and twiddling my thumbs. I would have contemplated my navel as well, but within a couple of hours, the house was becoming noticeably colder, and I didn't want to expose my flesh. I looked at the thermometer, and it had dropped from a comfortable 72∘down to a cool 65∘. It was time to start donning extra layers. I turned a battery powered radio, on and tuned into NPR for some soothing background music. Then suddenly, the lights flashed once, and some electronic device somewhere in the house emitted a single beep! Then nothing! I thought, well at least that's a good sign. Sometimes it takes two or three tries to get the substation breaker to reset, so the power should be back on soon. That was about 12:30 PM, but instead the waiting resumed, and the house got progressively colder. About an hour later I looked at the thermometer, and it was down to 60∘. By 3:00 PM it had dropped to 55∘and now in addition to pantyhose, warm socks, a long sleeve tee, a long sleeve shirt, a sweater, and corduroy pants, I added a fleece jacket and a hat. By 5:00 PM it was down to 50∘and I donned an insulated Goretex jacket,and gloves! Now I was really starting worry. When the power is out for more than four or five hours, it usually means that the problem is more serious than an isolated downed cable. Who knows how long it might take for the power company to complete their repairs? I started to have painful memories of a horrible ice storm that devastated the area back in the mid 90's, and left me without power for five days, and also when hurricane Isabel blew trees down all over the state. I was without power for three and a half days that time. It would be getting dark in another hour, and the limited effects of the sun's rays shining in my widows would soon disappear. As outside temperatures dropped precipitously, I envisioned my self huddled in the dark, under a pile of comforters and sleeping bags to wait out the long cold, lonely winter's night.

As the sun began to go down, I turned on a few battery powered lanterns, and started lighting candles and kerosene lamps. Although I am somewhat adverse to using it, I was seriously contemplating firing up my kerosene heater, but I really didn't want to stink up house. The two kerosene lamps that I had lit, were already doing a great job of that. With no heat, and no running water to shower with, or flush my toilets, I started to think about abandoning the homestead for the comfort of a warm bed and a hot shower in a hotel. By 7:45 PM my mind was made up. I packed a small duffel bag, doused the candles and lamps, and headed into Richmond. Fortunately, I had shoveled the steps and a path to my back door on the deck earlier in the day, and I had also cleaned the snow off of my truck. My super industrious neighbor had been out on his tractor all afternoon, plowing the neighborhood roads, and our driveways as well, so getting out and up the hill to the main road was a breeze. It's about a three mile drive from where I live to the interstate highway. About two miles down the road there is a crossroads with a couple of stores, a restaurant and an auto parts/repair shop. The lights were out in all of the house down the road, and all of those businesses as well, so the power outage must have been fairly extensive.

I hadn't eaten supper yet, so when I got into western suburbs of Richmond, I stopped in a CaptainD's for some seafood. They were advertising a soft shell crab platter on their chalk board out front, so I decided to give it a try. If you have never had soft shell crabs before, they are a real treat. They are whole crabs, that have just molted, so their new paper thin shell hasn't had a chance to harden yet. They are then battered and deep fried, and you eat the whole thing, shell and all. The platter came with two crabs, some green beans, hush puppies, and a salad. The crabs were pretty good, but as is the case with most fast food restaurants, they were a bit heavy on the salt.

I passed a brand new Hilton on the way to Captain D's, and since I don't often stay in hotels, I figured what the hell. It's only going to be for one night, so I didn't mind the extra expense. If only I had known just how much extra it was going to be, I may have made another choice. I parked out front and made my way through the icy parking lot to the lobby, where I was greeted by a uniformed door man! Ha! Now that's something you don't see at your average hotel. The clerk was very courteous, and asked how he could help. I said I needed a room for the night. Then he said their rates were $169.00 per night, and asked me if that was OK. Doing my very best to appear nonchalant, when in reality I was freaking out at thought of paying that much for a shower and bed for the night, I said, "Yes, that's fine." After taking down my credit card information and examining my driver's license, he said I could park my car in their underground garage, and that I should feel free to use their exercise facilities. He assigned me a room with a king size bed on the 7th floor, and told me that for security purposes, I would have to use my key to get off the elevator on any floor above the 6th.

After parking my by truck in the basement garage, I took the elevator up to the seventh floor. Getting off the elevator, I turned the corner and proceeded down the hallway to my room. I hadn't passed more than two rooms, when from behind a door on my right, I heard the moans of a woman crying out in the throes of sexual ecstasy! That immediately put a huge smile on my face. After the hell I had been through all day long, I was glad to know that at least someone was having a good time.

For $169.00 a night, the room was nothing special. I did have a very nice bathroom with a spacious walk-in shower, and a granite topped vanity. It also had a very large wide screen TV, a small fridge, and a comfortable arm chair and hassock, but I have stayed in two room suites with microwaves, sinks, refrigerators and sofas, for $69.00 a night less. The bed was very comfortable, and equipped with an abundance of pillows, but it took me several hours to get the room temperature adjusted right for sleeping. At first I was roasting under the duvet, so I would kick it off, but then in a minute I would get cold and have to pull it over me again. I had to get the room down to about 62∘before was able to sleep comfortably under the covers.

In the morning I went downstairs to their in house restaurant. Breakfast was a western omelet, with fried red potato wedges, a slice of orange, a strawberry and two cups of coffee, for another $20.00 including the tip. Upon checking out, I noticed that on top of $169.00 room fee, the state of Va. added another $8.45 for a room tax, and the county of Henrico wanting their share of the heist, tacked on another room tax of $13.52, bringing a night's stay to $190.97, not including the $20.00 breakfast. It was fun, but next time I think I will be looking for a Day's Inn, or a Motel 6!

I got back home at 10:30 AM this morning, and thankfully, the power was back on. According to the alarm clock in my bedroom, power had been out for a total of 22 hrs.! The heat is back on now, but the house was so cold that it is going to take some time to get it back up to temperature. The last time I checked, it was back up to a sweltering 68∘

Melissa XX