Thursday, December 30, 2010

1921 To 2010

My mother is a New Year's baby! She was born on January 1st, 1921. On January 1st, 2010 she will turn 90 years old!

I love her, but we didn't always get along. In fact, until she discovered Zoloft about ten years ago, I couldn't stand to be around her. She was an absolute expert on everything, and had to be acknowledged as such, even when she was dead wrong. This led to so many arguments, and made her very unpleasant to be around.

The change in her personality, once she started taking Zoloft to regulate her moods, was remarkable. She was no longer the judgmental, confrontational shrew, that I fled home from, at the tender age of 17.

Today, mom is not much more enlightened than she ever was, but her obsession with having everyone agree with her is no longer there, and that makes her so much easier to get along with. Age has also humbled her. While living into one's 90's may bring respect, it also brings decrepitude. In mom's case that's chronic arthritis, the beginnings of macular degeneration, a general unsteadiness on her feet, and a whole host of other ailments, that require a bag full of meds. She is very obviously more tired than she was ten years ago, but she still keeps plugging away, preparing supper for us once a week, and on Thanksgiving and Christmas. She still drives her 1996 ruby red Mercury Marquis, but not much. After all these years, it still has under 15,000 miles on it. It's the best looking 15 year old car I have ever seen!

I just sent her a special bouquet of flowers, and tomorrow I will go out and get her a birthday card, and a gift certificate to her favorite book store. On Monday, my sister and my niece and I will be taking her to the restaurant of her choice, for a birthday meal. We decided to postpone it till after the weekend, so we wouldn't be competing for a table with the New Years Day crowd.

As we approach the New Year, let me take this time to wish you all well! For some of you, this coming year will finally mark your physical rebirth. Congratulations! For others it will mark your first anniversary as the person you always knew you should have been. Congratulations to you as well! Still, for so many others, it will mark yet another year of coping in the best way you can with the weird hand that mother nature has dealt you. Wherever you are, please be gentle with each other, and resist the urge to get ideas above your station. We truly are all in this together.

All the best to all of you in the New Year!

Melissa XX

Sunday, December 26, 2010

TCM Remembers

I love old movies, and Turner Classic Movies is in my opinion one of the best things that ever happened to television. At the end of each year, they produce a poignant video memorial to all those involved in the motion picture industry, that passed away that year. It always brings a tear to my eyes. I would embed it in my post if I could, but since I can't, here is a link to TCM Remembers. Have a look. If classic movies have ever made an impact on your life, I think you will enjoy it.

Melissa XX

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Another Christmas Come And Gone

Christmas at my mother's was short lived. A major coastal storm was brewing, and everyone wanted to get home before the roads got dangerous. It snowed all the way into Richmond, and all the way back out into the Piedmont on my return trip, but because VDOT crews had treated all the major roads in advance, the snow wasn't sticking to the highways yet. Today I'm afraid, will be another story as the storm moves off shore and intensifies, drawing in copious amounts of Atlantic moisture. Predictions for my neck of the woods aren't too bad. So far I've only got about 2 inches and a total of 3-5 inches is all that's expected, but Richmond could get as much as 7-8 inches before its all over tonight. The poor folks up in New England I'm afraid, are really going to get hammered, with anywhere from 1 to 2 feet of snow! This is shaping up to be a classic winter nor'easter.

Despite an early departure from Mom's condo, we all left with our bellies full, having had a sumptuous Christmas meal. The main course was roast turkey, but this unfortunate bird was apparently the victim of some horrible farm accident, because it came sans wings and legs!'s succulent breast meat was a perfect companion to the wonderfully seasoned stuffing, steamed asparagus, cole slaw, and mashed potatoes. My sister also made a cranberry and orange relish, and a delicious sweet potato casserole topped with pecans. Lemon meringue pie, and butter pecan ice cream topped it all off.

My sister was there, with her daughter, and so was my brother-in-law and his daughter. He hung around for dinner, although she didn't, preferring to have Christmas diner with the family of one of her friends. At just 22, she was 20 years younger than my other niece. Who could blame her for not wanting to spend Christmas evening with a bunch of old folks.

My brother-in-law was well behaved this time, except for one unfortunate incident. Despite protestations, he insisted on dropping his pants to show off the Christmas underwear his new girlfriend gave him!

I hope all of you had a good Christmas, and that you are all safe and warm!

Melissa XX

Friday, December 24, 2010

Important Stuff

The Origins Of Bert And Ernie

Did the Sesame Street characters, Bert and Ernie get their names from the cop (Bert), and the cab driver (Ernie), in Frank Capra's holiday classic film, It's A Wonderful Life ? No one is confirming it, and it's probably just coincidence, but I'd sure like to think so.

Bert ( Ward Bond, from another film):

Ernie (Frank Faylen, as himself):
Here's hoping all of you have a wonderful life! Merry Christmas!

Melissa XX

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Counting Down To Christmas

There was a lunar eclipse last night. I didn't bother to watch it, because it was to happen in the wee hours of the morning. That was way past my bedtime and besides, I had already seen one before, so no big deal. Add the one I saw a year or so ago to the solar eclipse I saw when I was in high school sometime in 1963/64, various comets, Sputnik, and views of Saturn, Jupiter and the Jovian moons I saw through my telescope, and my life's card is marked with some pretty impressive celestial sights. Perhaps the most impressive though, was a naked eye view of the Norther Cross over the Atlantic on a full moonlit night, while sitting on top of a sand dune on Ocracoke Island one August night many years ago. The reflection of the nearly full moon on the ocean, accompanied by the blanket of stars that stood out so well, so many miles from civilization's light pollution, was truly a sight to behold. Of course an evening's banquet of steamed crabs we had caught that afternoon, an abundance of cold beer, and numerous inhalations of a smoldering cannabis cigarette being passed around by friends, only made it that much more pleasing an event.

I went to my mother's Monday night as always, and she had received the set of kitchen and steak knives I bought for her. For those of you unfamiliar with my mother's cutlery, it was good for cutting things like pudding, butter and jello, but not much else. She managed to saw through roasts, hams, and turkeys with a bread knife of all things! I suppose I have to give her marks for ingenuity, but really........sawing through a Thanksgiving turkey with a bread knife? I couldn't stand it, and had to do something about it, so I bought her a nice set of razor sharp stainless steel carving knives, for Christmas. Her first reaction was, "I can't open that package you sent me." OK, I can understand that, after all she does have arthritic hands, so I opened it for her, and unwrapped each knife and placed it in the accompanying wooden block.
"What made you think I've been needing this for a while now?" she asked. "Because I have seen you sawing through meat too many times, with a knife designed to cut bread!" I said. "But the bread knife works fine for me.", she said................

Oh well...........the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry. I guess the old adage is right, "You can't can't teach an old dog new tricks". She will use them eventually I'm sure, and I'm equally sure she'll get used to them, once the idea that she didn't specifically request them wears off. She'll be ninety a week after Christmas, so I'm going to go easy on her. Anyone who makes it to that late in the game, deserves our deference.

While we haven't quite returned to normal temperatures, we have thawed somewhat, and I was finally able turn the heat down some. Tonight is the first in a month, that I haven't had the radient quartz heater in front of my chair turned up to full blast furnace mode! As I sit here typing, just one low wattage element is aglow, and the fan is not turned on at all! I'm keeping my finger crossed for Christmas, but right now the forecast is iffy. A nor'easter is supposed to develop off the coast of the Carolina's on Christmas Eve/Day, and roll on up the coast. Nor'easters are the mid-Atlantic's heavy dumpers during the winer months. Depending on the coastal track of the storm, and the inland temperatures, we could get anything from a wintery mix of ice and snow, to a full on winter snow storm. Christmas is at my mothers, 45 miles east of here in Richmond. There is an average 10°F difference between Richmond and out here in the Piedmont, that makes driving in wintery conditions extremely hazardous. Depending on when the storm hits Saturday, I may have to stay home. The narrow two lane roads out here in the Piedmont have no shoulders, and often have deep ditches to either side. They can be quite treacherous when iced up. I've crashed one vehicle when I didn't know any better, and lost control on black ice. I don't ever want that to happen again. There is nothing scarier than driving on down the road, and suddenly losing all traction. At that point, you have completely lost control, and become a passenger in a vehicle controlled by fate. Not a good position to be in.

I've noticed our once universally supportive Blogistan, slowly degenerating into a forum of divisiveness, ever since the appearance of a certain wily, yet extremely ill-mannered miscreant last summer. Please dear readers, do not be seduced by silver tongued narcissistic she-devils, who will manipulatively stroke your fragile ego in one breath, while verbally eviscerating one of your sisters in another. Even if you don't think you may be anything like those "others" that are being attacked, that never justifies supporting those who hurl their hideous invective at them.

On a further note. When you invite someone into your home, would you tolerate them verbally assaulting your other guests? I certainly wouldn't, so in that vein, I will no longer follow any blogger who allows anyone to insult me or any other commenter on their blog. This means it's up to you to monitor the comments on your blog, and delete all obviously spiteful comments made by others in a reasonable time frame, that are specifically directed at another individual commenter. If you are unwilling to do this, then no matter how long I have known you, or how well we have gotten along, I will depart your blog and have no further contact with you. I didn't come here to make enemies, I came here to share sympathies and support with like minded trans-folk, and I'm fed up with those who are obsessed with constantly drawing upon our differences, instead of embracing our similarities, which are absolutely abundant, whether they wish to admit them or not, and especially with those who obsequiously kowtow to manipulative bullies, in order to continue being stroked by them.

Peace and sisterhood to all of those who have it in their hearts to accept it.
Melissa XX

Friday, December 17, 2010

Twas The Week Before Christmas

After a month of simply trying to stay warm.........(we've been under the influence of what seems to be a never ending wave of polar air, with nighttime lows dropping to as low as 11°F/-11° C)......I had neglected my personal grooming, and I had begun to slowly ressemble that furry beast of yore. That's a bit of hyperbole actually, as the constant epilation has significantly reduced the total number of body hairs, and left the ones that remained much finer. Nevertheless, I was sprouting once again, and feared going to seed!

We seem to have entered a bit of a thaw. The mercury made it all the way up to 38°F/3°C today, so after clearing yesterday's three inches of snow from my deck, steps, and truck, I made my way up to the mail box out on the highway, and then back down to the house for a shower, followed by a long overdue full body epilation. It only took an hour to do my entire body from my neck to my ankles. That's how much my body hair has been reduced by regular epilation. No wonder that electrologists tell you to stop waxing or using an epilator. More hairs for them to take care of......and charge you for! I first noticed this phenomenon decades ago, after I began to tweeze my eyebrows. After a while, I noticed that some of the hairs were not growing back. This was especially true of the hairs between my eyes, above the bridge of my nose, and the hairs that used to wrap around the outside corners of my eyes. Today they are all gone for good. In effect, the constant plucking had enabled me to permanently achieve a much more naturally feminine brow line. Later I would discover this same phenomenon on my legs, and eventually on my entire body.

So............the lesson to be learned boys and girls, is that constant hair plucking weakens, and in some cases even eliminates hairs! If I had know that, I would have started waxing my face as soon as the peach fuzz began to appear!

Anyway...........I am now completely hairless once again, and it feels absolutely wonderful!

As I type, I am listening to the Nutcracker on my local NPR station. I love the music, but regret to say that I have never even once seen the ballet! Oh, I've see snippets of various productions on TV. Those are unavoidable this time of year, but I have never sat in a theater, and actually watched the entire performance unfold before my eyes on stage. Am I a sad case, or what?

Christmas is right around the corner, and I bought my mother a brand new set of kitchen knives, on-line, and had them sent by UPS, to her condo on the tenth floor of her twelve story apartment building. Last Monday I told her to expect a package, but to be extremely careful with it, if she decided to open it before Christmas, as she could easily injure herself on it. She asked me what it was, and all I would tell her was that it was something that she had been needing for a long time. Any woman who carves a turkey, a roast, or a ham with a bread knife, because all of her older knives are too dull, too rusty, and of no use to her anymore other than as butter spreaders, needs a new set of sharps for her kitchen!

Other than in some pictures I have shared with her, my sister has never once seen me en femme, yet for the second year in a row now, I have received a Christmas card from her addressed to Melissa! Isn't she just the sweetest?

As I said earlier, we have been under the chilling influence of a seemingly permanent wave of Canadian arctic air, (thank you very much Halle, and others in the frozen wastelands north of our border). For the past month, temperatures have been 10-15 degrees below average for this time of year. I live in an all electric home, so I am not looking forward to my next electricity bill! Last month's bill was shocking enough, and it hadn't even gotten cold then. The pond at the bottom of the hill out back has completely frozen over, and the barren wooded hillsides of my subdivision, are now covered in snow. Cruel winter has set in with an utter lack of regard to personal comfort, yet still, there is a stark sort of beauty to winter's bleakness. Tonight I gazed out the window, and the moon light had the snow covered woods set all aglow! If you had a mind to, and you were sufficiently bundled up to ward off the cold night air, you could easily navigate your way through the woods by moonlight alone. What hearty creatures the squirrels, raccoons, o'possums, foxes, deer, turkey, and all of the other creatures of the wild must be, to survive such harsh conditions. It makes me respect them all that much more, and wonder how anyone could kill them, unless their life depended on their meat for their survival. Obviously I am not into hunting for sport. It just seems like such a sacrilege!

A week from today it will be Christmas. I don't claim to be religious, let alone a Christian. I am agnostic, yet there is something about the Christian tradition at this time of year that will always appeal to my heart. It is one of two times on the ecclesiastical calendar, where judgement of the human condition is put aside through divine grace, and the unlikely prospect of human perfection is celebrated. What's not to like about that? So in that vein, let me wish you all a very Merry & Peaceful Christmas, and in the words of the one who's birthday we are about to celebrate, "judge not, lest ye be judged......."

Peace on Earth,
Melissa XX

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brrrrrrrrrrr..............It's Been Cold!

The night before last, the mercury dipped to 12°F/-11 °C! I was looking at pictures of Caroline's neighborhood on her blog, and also reading on the web, that Scotland had to call out the Army to help clear the roads of the copious snows that have been blanketing them! My first impression was, "There, but for the mercy of Mother Nature go I". With weather this cold, all it takes to bury us in six inches to a foot or more of snow, is a random nor'easter sliding up the east coast, and pulling in Atlantic moisture. A massive low pressure system in the northeast is already wrapping around the Great Lakes, pulling moisture out of them, and blanketing adjacent states with what is known here as "lake effect snow". After a brief respite from frigid temperatures this weekend, the forecast is calling for more arctic weather next week. While sub freezing temperatures are by no means unknown in these parts, the mid-Atlantic states are generally known for their mild winters, with average daytime temperatures a good 20° F higher than what we've been experiencing.

I once had a neighbor years ago when I lived back in town, who had a house full if cats. She had no job at all. She also had no water, no electricity, and no heat, other than from what she could burn in her coal fireplace. I would occasionally leave her a bag of coal, so she could have a nights fire, but I'm sure she had burned most if not all of the furniture in her house, and anything else that was flammable.

I used to pass by her house at night, on my walks to the local grocery store. I could see her through her uncurtained windows, some of her cats sleeping on the window sills, and others walking about the table where she would sit, surrounded by stacks of old newspapers, while reading by candlelight in her darkened house, that she had inherited from her father years earlier.

Her name was Grace, and she was a neighborhood fixture, often coming up to you as you walked down the street, and asking if you could spare a few dollars. I always gave her something. She was very well informed from all of the reading that she did, and you could actually have some interesting conversations with her about politics and current events, but she was also quite mad. One day while walking down the street, a friend and I ran into Grace, and she immediately began asking us if we had heard about the alien women, who were seducing young earth males, and then eating them, once they had them in their clutches! My friend and I laughed all the way home after that one.

One year as Christmas approached, my heart felt heavy for Grace being all alone. She had no family, so I knew that no one was going to be giving her anything for Christmas, so I bought her one of those Wisconsin samplers. You've all seen them. They're the ones with the variety of cheeses, ham, summer sausage, nuts, etc. I gift wrapped it, and left it on her door step very late on Christmas Eve, with a card saying, "With love from Santa."

Grace was eventually evicted from her house, which was condemned by the city, and forced to live in an institutionalized setting that she hated. Her dilapidated house was claimed by the city for owed back taxes, and then sold on the cheap to yuppies, who fully renovated it. I never saw Grace again after that, and every Christmas I wonder how she is doing, or if she is even still alive. As for her house, it is now a glowing exhibition of bourgeois charm, but for me, that will never be as appealing, as the uncurtained, candle lit hovel, of the neighborhood cat lady.

Melissa XX

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Death On The Highway

I was making my way home from my mother's last night, and all was well until I got about 11 miles from my exit off the Interstate Highway. Suddenly all I saw was brake lights coming on in front of me, and then we were all at a dead stop. About a mile up ahead, I could see a blue strobe light flashing, and what looked like high intensity flood flights. Was it an accident, or night road maintenance? If it was a road crew repaving a lane, we would be slowed down to a crawl, as both lanes merged into one until the construction was passed, but instead the Interstate had become a parking lot. After several minutes of standing still, the line would move two or three car lengths, only to come to a grinding halt again. There was an exit about a mile ahead, just about where the blue strobe was flashing. My plan was to exit there, and drive about a mile to the south to access an old two lane US highway, that would take me the ten miles further west to my rural neighborhood. It took about 30 minutes to travel that one mile, and when I got there, I discovered that the Interstate was completely shut down, and all traffic was getting off at that exit. There was a horrific accident between the off ramp and the on ramp at that interchange. Traffic was able to exit on the off ramp, and reenter the highway on the on ramp. As I reentered the highway, I looked to my left, and saw several emergency vehicles and two fire engines. In the left lane, facing the wrong way, was a burned out car, with the entire driver's side skin ripped off. My heart sank when I saw it. Later on the news, my suspicions were confirmed, when I learned that there was a confirmed death in that crash. Only a few days earlier, as I stopped at out local country store to pick up few things, a flat bed wrecker was parked out front with another passenger car on it, that had the driver side doors ripped off. The roof was caved in, and a wilted airbag laid draping over the driver's seat. Talking to the clerk in the store, I learned that the woman driving the car fell asleep at the wheel and ran off the Interstate, just two mile west of where I live. She was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I have no idea as to what her fate was, but after seeing her crumpled car, I'm sure she didn't fair well.

Winter is here dear readers. Snow and ice make roads treacherous. When conditions are dangerous, please stay off the roads if you can, but if you have to go out, take extra care. Drive slow, leave plenty of distance between you and others, and watch out for black ice! Also, if road conditions are wet, or slippery, never use cruise control!

Melissa xx

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The First Snow Arrives

Although the Solstice has yet to arrive, the first snow has, but unlike my unfortunate sisters in the UK, and parts west of here in the US, and of course my lovely Canuck sisters north of the border (All of you, poor sweet dears!), this time it was just a light coating. Sorry if it sounds like I'm rubbing it in. I certainly don't mean to, but this is my kind of snow! Here today, gone tomorrow! A pretty white sugary sprinkling, as if sugarplum fairies had just dusted everything down overnight. Nothing at all like the horrid + one foot dumpings of heavy wet snow that we had three times last winter, toppling trees and knocking out power, so that I had to hunker down next to a kerosene heater to stay warm, while listening to a battery powered radio, and eating soup cooked on a camp stove. I'll have none of that this winter, thank you very much! At least not if my luck holds out, (knock on wood!).

They say a new broom sweeps clean, and that's exactly what my new broom did this week, as I swept the last of the fallen leaves and acorns off of the deck. Fortunately a broom will be all that is needed to sweep the night's snow off the deck and steps tomorrow. I'm glad I got all of the fallen leaves off of the deck before the first snow, otherwise I would be shoveling the deck off tomorrow.

I received the most wonderful news today! My friend Brittany Lynn Roche (A Day In The Life Of A Texas Transsexual) is now situated in a residence house in Montreal, awaiting GRS by Dr. Pierre Brassard next Tuesday! It seems like only yesterday that I got to know her, as she detailed her torturous sessions at Electrology 3000 in Dallas, Texas, where they would inject her face with 36 lidocaine shots, and proceed to remove all of her facial hair in one sitting! Her poor face was so swollen afterward, that she woud have to sleep upright for the next several days! She would go back for this same grueling torture, at least another dozen times before her face was devoid of hair. But it was worth it, because today, she looks perfectly lovely! All the best to her, as she undergoes and recovers from her surgery. If you would like to send her an email, her address is located in her blog profile at the link I highlighted above. I'm sure she would love to hear from you.

It's hard to believe that Christmas is only 20 days away. It always amazes me the way the holidays sneak up on you after the Autumnal Equinox. First comes Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and before you know it, Christmas and New Years Day are here! It all happens way too fast for me. This is especially true since I have become older. Time passes by so much more quickly! When I was a child, school would start in the fall, and it seemed like forever until Christmas arrived. Not so today!

My mother will turn 90 a week after Christmas, and my sister and niece had a notion of throwing a big catered party for her, but last week she said she did not want a big party, so I suggested we just take her out for dinner, and she seemed to like that idea much more. Frankly I do too. Special times like that, are better spent with those closest to you, than a wider circle of acquaintances, who are just there for the party. Now the question is, where do we take her? Her usually choice is Red Lobster, or Red Slobster as my sister, the comedian likes to say. I must confess that I agree with her, since nearly everything on the menu is dripping in melted butter and way over salted. I'm more incline to taking her to a local privately owned restaurant, where the food is cooked from fresh ingredients, instead of a franchise, where microwaving pre-packed, overly salted frozen crap is the norm. The thing is Mom seems to love those kinds of restaurants, but then again she takes an abundance of meds to counteract all the bad stuff they serve. Yes, Mom is a finely tuned chemical experiment

I can't embed the following video, but you can still watch it on Youtube at this address Of course it's one of my favorites by Gustaf Mahler, but forget about the music this time, and just watch the lovely people playing the instruments that they love so much, and doing it so wonderfully.

Melissa XX

Thursday, December 2, 2010

All Is Well Here In The Piedmont

All quiet on the East Coast tonight. I survived the passing of the cold front last night, with no tornados, and just a bit of wind and rain. A line of severe weather passed through at about 3:00 AM last night, and some high winds blew out power lines in the county just west of here. As a result, the power went out at about 3:15 AM, and stayed out for about four hours. That used to leave me incommunicado, but with this new Macbook, battery power keeps me going, even when the power goes out! Four hours later when the power came back on, I still had half of my battery reserve left.

The temperature at this time last night, was 62° F, and right now it's 30°F, and is expected to descend into the mid 20's tonight. 30-40 degree temperature shifts within a 24 hour period are not uncommon here, but they do create havoc. Now that winter is setting in, that should happen less, but we've been know to have volatile weather like this into January. I didn't get to bed until after 7:00 AM yesterday moring, but who cares? I'm retired! It just seemed a little bit strange, eating breakfast at 1:30 PM!

For those of you who remember Helen Chapel, she is back blogging again, after a lengthy absence. She is a very sweet girl, and I'm sure she would love to hear from you. You can link to her blog here.

It's been so nice to get all of the comments and emails of support recently. I don't like to get into arguments with people, especially over gender issues, but sometimes you just have to stand up for what you know in your heart is right, regardless of what even some dear friends might think. Frankly I'd rather not even discuss these things, but it seems to be the obsession of some here lately. I'm going to try and avoid these sorts of discussions from now on, because they only serve to drive a wedge between us, and especially some of those we hold dear. This is something that obsessed interlopers don't understand. What we have in common, has always far outweighed that which separates us. How tragic, that some would divy us up, for their own self interests.

Let me make something perfectly clear. I don't believe in orthodoxy. Never have, and never will. You are all my sisters, and I have nothing but the greatest love and respect for all of you, regardless of where you sit on the gender spectrum. I will always take offense at anyone, who judges, belittles, or demeans you in any way, shape or form, either by direct verbal assault, or more obliquely, through sarcasm. None of you deserve that kind of disrespect.

Well, here I am, up until after 3:00 AM again! I suppose that's the consequence of not getting up until after 1:00 PM, but what the hell? I'm retired, and I don't have to get up at the bell anymore! So, hurrah for that!

Thinking sweet thoughts of all of you! (Well..........most all of you, anyway! I'm only human after all!)

Melissa XX