Saturday, May 27, 2017

My Quest For A Tie Pin

Back in the old days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and I was a child, men wore tie pins with their neckties. The purpose of tie pins was both functional and decorative. The pin held your tie in place and kept the back-end from sliding sideways, looking unkempt. Tie pins date back to 1860 and didn't disappear until the 1960's when ties became an unpopular symbol of the Establishment.

For most of my life, men wore so little jewelry that I eagerly adopted whatever was allowed. As a child and teen, I had a large collection of tie pins and tie bars. Sadly they were casually discarded over the decades since then.

Recently I purchased some cool neckties at a neat thrift-shop in Hudson, NY. One tie is very attractive but its back-piece keeps sliding around. It occurred to me to get a pin to secure the tie. And that has been my quest for the past month.

Every thrift- and retail-store I've entered recently has been searched like a gold mine for the treasured nugget. To no avail. Not only don't men wear them any more, stores don't carry them, not even vintage shops. So imagine my elation today when, during a motorcycle ride to Northport, I stumbled on a vintage store with three trays of tie pins. Most were crap but I found a few nice ones. Here they are, photographed on a picnic table in Northport's seaside park.

Do any of these appeal to you?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Columbus, Ohio

Often when I travel, I take lots of pictures. I focus on a place and share it with you. This trip was different. I went to Columbus, Ohio and, while I saw lots of the city during my two days here, my focus was on being with my friend Emma, not the town. So I took few photos. I hope you'll be satisfied with simply hearing I had a wonderful time.

Emma is one of the nicest people in the world. We enjoy each other's company immensely. Our conversation was non-stop, fluid and fun. Emma is smart and friendly so our encounter was effortless. She edits a local wedding magazine so she knows her town like a native. She took us to fabulous restaurants, art museums and city parks, narrating about the people and businesses. Wandering about, we were approached by a half-dozen people who greeted her with enthusiasm. Emma is a local celebrity whether she admits it or not.

Emma introduced me to her husband Matt whom she described as an exceptionally good person. Meeting him confirmed that -- he is a super guy. Here they are in Iceland...

I've known Emma for years from following her blog. She wrote regularly during a time when blogging helped her; then she switched jobs and found the blog no longer fit. After that, I kept touch with her through Facebook.

Until this trip, I'd never met Emma in person. Due to the distance, it wasn't easy for us to meet but I suspected Emma is an extraordinary human being so I made traveling to her a priority. I'm glad I did -- Emma is as terrific as I expected her to be.

Our rapport encouraged both of us to open up about personal subjects of serious importance. They will not be disclosed here but let me report that Emma helped me with some things that'd been troubling me. Her honest, intelligent feedback gave me clarity where there'd been confusion. I'm grateful for that. Our chats about political and social issues were really enjoyable since we share the same views.

When I was young, I read about a honey-based alcoholic drink called mead. It's mentioned in Beowulf and other books from the Middle Ages. For decades I wanted to try mead but never found it offered. Emma took us to a mead bar where I finally achieved my quest. I got a "flight" of five varieties of mead which was perfect because they range widely in flavor and sweetness.

In short, I had a great time. Friends as marvelous as Emma are worth traveling for!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Best Part Is You!

Dressing up is fun, shopping for clothes is fun, but the best part of this whole endeavor is you.

Sharing my thrift-store finds is the most pleasurable aspect of these efforts. Being free to gush about the beauty of a piece, examine how it looks on my odd cylindrical frame, hear and consider your feedback on how the presentation can be improved are all sweet songs to my ears. They reach deep inside me and feed my under-nourished soul.

Casual emotional support that's common in female company is unknown to most transgender women. In public, we're compelled to adopt unnatural poses; in private, we despair from loneliness. Only recently did I find solace through online connection. In real life, I'm still rarely able to share my nature and interests with others. Only after careful vetting do I find the rare few who will tolerate and accept my gender non-conformity.

But back to happy stuff!

Lately I've been shopping at a new thrift-store (Rosie's Vintage). I've have found several pretty dresses and cool antiques there. You've seen some of them here and here. Last week I leapt with joy at seeing a vintage dress from the 1950's on the rack. Its style is very dated and never worn today, which makes it more fun to don, not less.

I was also thrilled to have a brief conversation with the store's friendly owner, Thea. She made me comfortable enough to mention my blog. Thea is the rare exception I note above; someone friendly and non-judgmental. Our conversation meant something to me. Having an opportunity to be open about myself is, really, all I want in life. Nothing more, just that.

We all want to be accepted for who we are, don't you think?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Rainy Day In New York

I had to drop my motorcycle off in NYC today for repairs. Instead of treating the task as a chore, I turned it into an adventure and enjoyed splendors of the city. Despite relentless rain, I reigned.

After delivering the bike, I went to admire beautiful pens. My favorite pen store (Fountain Pen Hospital) has a Monteverde on sale which comes with its own brass base. The pen is not expensive ($43) and looks super-cool in modern design. I bought one for me and another for a friend. It comes in red or black and all three styles (fountain tip; rollerball; ballpoint). I got two red rollerballs. Do you like it?

From there I schlepped to my favorite restaurant (Russ & Daughters Cafe) for lunch. R&D has become everyone's favorite after making numerous top ten lists. The place now has long waits for tables. Fortunately there was a solo seat open at the counter when I arrived so I slid right in.

I had my customary caviar and a "Super Heebster Bagel Toast" (whitefish and salmon salad on a bagel, topped by wasabi-infused roe and horseradish-dill cream cheese). Believe it or not, the best part of the meal was the beverage. Humbly called "cucumber soda," this concoction is seltzer flavored with homemade syrup. Nectar of the gods! The cucumber base is broadened by liquid jasmine, anise, dill seed and fennel seed -- spices that combine into a melody of flavors. The drink is deeply satisfying and only five bucks. Or, as they say in Brooklyn, "fie dollaaas."

One expects walking around in rain to be unpleasant but my experience was the opposite. The city felt inviting despite gloomy weather. Our sensory perceptions are different on rainy days and there's something memorable about facing physical adversity.

I made an unavoidable observation. I'm the only person left in New York who doesn't own a smartphone. That's not a bad thing. Unlike many, I don't bump into strangers on the street because I look where I'm walking. And, unlike the girl I sat next to on the subway, I don't spend 15 minutes playing with a selfie to see how I'd look with various dog and cat noses on my face. If that's progress, I'll remain an old geezer.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

New York's Best Doughnuts

Foodies are raving that "the best doughnuts in New York" are made at a small store in the Bed Stuy section of Brooklyn. Today I checked the veracity of this boast. I fired up my S1000R and ventured into the beating heart of Brooklyn.

A store named Dough was opened in 2010 by chef Fany Gerson. Her doughnuts were an instant hit and people started coming from far and wide. In addition to the Bed Stuy location, she later opened a second store in the Flatiron section of Manhattan. Newspapers report that Dough has acquired cult-status and been lauded by several national food magazines.

The doughnuts are made in small batches throughout the day for maximum freshness. When I arrived mid-afternoon, several new trays of hot doughnuts were popping out of the oven.

The doughnuts are made with brioche-like dough and use high-quality ingredients like European butter and fresh nutmeg. Unlike many places that put fancy toppings on mediocre doughnuts, here the doughnuts themselves are exceptional. Superb taste with perfect consistency.

There are 14 inventive flavors. I tried Hibiscus, Blood Orange, Salted Chocolate Caramel and Cafe au Lait, all scrumptious.

If you're not adventurous enough to visit Brooklyn, you can get these doughnuts at a new cafe on Long Island (Sweet Agenda Cafe in Glen Cove) which is an exclusive distributor. Every morning the cafe-owner drives into Bed Stuy, picks up trays of doughnuts and brings them out to hungry hordes in suburbia. They go fast.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

If Art Icons Were Hipsters

graphic designer cleverly used icons from art history in modern settings; for example, imagining them as hipsters. The images are well-done and amusing. Do you like any?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Full-Blown Glamour

I mentioned earlier that, while shopping in Hudson, I bought a ballgown. It was only $18 -- a priceless ticket for one of my fondest dreams.

The gown, being fancy, deserves full-blown glamour treatment. So I added a sparkly fascinator, my highest heels, more jewelry than Zsa Zsa Gabor, and enough eye-makeup to rival Tammy Faye Bakker (Messner). Yes, I went over-the-top but when you have as much bottled-up desire as I do, sometimes the pressure-cooker blows. Boom!

Any thoughts?