Monday, April 30, 2018

A Hot One

Rhonda gets "A Hot One"
There was one other little side adventure after my Friend's Friday dinner at the VMFA

About 10 years ago Krispy Kreame closed its Palm Beach County store. Thus it has been that long since I had one of these fresh off the line sugar glazed saturated fat, treats. 

AKA “A Hot One. “

There is nothing that melts in your mouth like a hot Krispy Kreame Doughnut. When available, all you need do is ask the purveyors of the treats and they will reach on to the line and hand you one. It does not get any sweeter and fresher than that.  

Three to Go

Heading back to my hotel at 10 pm, the light was on. "Hot Doughnuts Now". So after a quick U-turn and way over-dressed for a doughnut shop, I got a hot one and three to go.

Before dinner on Saturday evening I mentioned my little Friday night quick stop to several friends and it was not long before several topics of conversation centered around:

"Rhonda had a hot one last night!"

Stay Tuned - Up Next - The Main Event - Saturday Reunion Dinner...

Friday, April 27, 2018

Friend's Friday - Escape to Live

Meeting and socializing with people for the first time can be daunting. A minefield of insecurities abound: Do I look presentable, will I make a mistake, will the group be accepting, will I be able to contribute to the conversation? 

At a previous reunion, I had become friends with the now outgoing school's Alumni Director. I mentioned then that I am transgender, and requested my badge reflect the name of choice for events. For me back then, this was a super brave request. She was understanding, kind and accommodating. We struck up a very nice friendship and have communicated over the intervening years. 

I was pleased to learn that for this milestone reunion (50 years) she, although less involved than before, could still provide support. I got into a VIP event and had a private tour arranged at my Engineering School. Also on this trip we both looked forward to catching up.  

For Friday (pre-Saturday main dinner), Diane planned a small evening out for her local friends and ask if I would like to attend? There were six of us: A couple, she being a RPI/VCU graduate; the chairman of the Alumni Council; an administrator in the former university president's office; Diane the retiring Alumni Affairs Director, and myself. Location – the ultra-beautiful Amuse Restaurant at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA). This was not an alumni weekend event but friends getting together to share an evening. What a privilege to be included.  

Keeping up with the conversation was enjoyable as the talk bounced from subject to subject as the evening moved along. Somehow my eccentric sense of humor fit. Nearly three hours went so quickly, we all seemed to not want the evening to end. Several of us lingered still laughing in the parking garage, as our evening wound to a close. 

In times past I would have been terrified and missed out on an exciting fun- filled evening. New friends, new experiences, and socialization that was of value. Expanding thresholds and confidence. 

Escape to learn, share and live.   

Stay tuned - Next "Finding a hot one".

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Make it Real

Michael B. Dowdy, Chief Development Officer
I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering in 1968. OMG – 50 years ago. As a 50 year alumni, I was afforded the opportunity to visit the new (now twenty years old) engineering school and the outgoing alumni director arranged a private tour.  Diane, thank you so much.   

When I attended, the school’s tools of trade were slide rules, triangles, three sided draftsman's rulers, and lettering guides. To punctuate the 50 years, just outside the engineering school's Welcome Center was a display case of “Engineering Artifacts”. These items looked like cave-man relics from a far-gone era. Talk about making a girl feel old?

Engineering Artifacts
During my tour, I was shown electronic/circuit prototype labs, research 3D Printers, drone workshops, and extensive computer labs. The school now located in two buildings, soon to be three, includes one building dedicated to engineering and another dedicated to medical engineering. There are 5 academic departments.

My meeting was with the Chief Development Officer. We talked almost an hour as I shared stories from the "far-gone era" and he told me about the wonderful projects, and supporters the school now has. 

While I was in the engineering school there no female instructors/professors and only one woman in all of my engineering classes. And, as I readily admitted that day, she was not I. He had been duly briefed and said he understood. That was all that was said on that as peers discussed many other subjects. The time at the engineering school added much to my alumni weekend. 

However what encouraged me the most that day was the fact that the Chair in Biomedical Engineering and Dean, VCU School of Engineering is a woman; Barbara D. Boyan, Ph D. Plus, 48% of the 271 graduate students are female. We have "come along way" in the field of technology, medical engineering, and the advancement of human interactions. The fact that I was afforded the opportunity to tour, meet and be respected, meant much.  Thank you all.  

As the VCU School of engineering motto states – “Engineering the Future to Make it Real.” Well said...

Stay turned - Friend's Friday - Dinner at the Museum.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sentimental and Nostalgic.

My next stop on my college reunion road trip was back in my hometown.  Upon entering the rural county, there is always a sense of return.  That is deep-seated and although I likely will never live there again, it will always be “home”.   

Clark's General Store - Scottsburg, VA
There is always a stop at one of the last remaining country general stores I know. The kind of place where you get a coke and a Moon Pie, pull up a chair and talk. That I did for about an hour and a half after my drive from Richmond. A one-stop news source. Who has moved in, who has moved out, sick and died. This is a complete throwback to my grandparent's general store and is directly across the road for their old place. I was happy to see that my grandparent's building is still there and now the “Town Hall”.  

I always go next to visit my family; grandparents, mother, uncle, and aunt. They are all in one place and as of late (50 years) the conversation is rather one-sided. Today discussion centered around where my urn will be located among their designated places. The consensus among us all was behind my mother and near my grandparents. I would like to believe that all in attendance would be proud of the person/woman I have become.  

Berry Hill Resort 
One of my favorite places to stay in the world is “Berry Hill Resort”. It is a restored, refurbished and modernized 1839 plantation home. It is a sight to behold with its Greek revival architecture, set on a hill in the middle of the country. I have written about it before and one cannot help feeling both elated that it survived the civil war unscathed and sad at the same time. It represents the height of the southern slave era; a human tragedy. The place is alive with history; occasionally, more than one anticipates. Step back 150 years, stay in the main house and pretend to be the master of the plantation. A must visit destination.

I always send out a general invitation to friends for a group dinner at one of two local upscale restaurants. Five attended this trip and others were to attend, however canceled at the last minute; illness and family commitments.  Next time, please.

Friend's Dinner - Halifax, VA

I love you guys, value your friendship and acceptance more than you will ever know. 

I escaped the country life many years ago, however there are still a lot of country memories. I do enjoy my return visits. You will not be the first to notice that I can, at times be very sentimental and nostalgic.    

Next - Touring the Engineering School. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

You Belong Here

VCU Institute for Contemporary Art 
Last week I started my week in my home state, Virginia with the opening of the new Virginia Commonwealth University, Institute for Contemporary Art (VCU-ICA). The grand opening was perfectly timed for Alumni Week. I received a special VIP invitation from my school’s outgoing Alumni Director. It was not just a school event, but city event. The description from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

The $41 million center was already named one of the most anticipated buildings of 2018 by Architectural Digest. Upon entering, visitors could see why: The structure has a soaring atrium with towering ceilings, transparent glass walls, curved edges and a sweeping grand staircase.

The opening exhibition, “Declaration,” features more than 30 artists and roughly 70 works of art. More than a third of the pieces are making their debut at the ICA.

The evening outfit
 I love polka dots 

This was the evening for VCU school donors and alumni to get a preview prior to the grand opening – music was provided, food, drinks, speeches, and personal tours. I stayed about two hours and enjoyed many conversations. I felt especially welcome standing in a second floor garden under the neon “You Belong Here” sign. This garden side of the building faces out on the Broad Street, which is the central north/south street for Richmond.  

I connected with several interesting women (doctors  - VCU alumni) and we talked like old girlfriends while food circled us as we enjoyed the music. It did not take long before a man to asked to be included; a retired international sales executive. My new girlfriends had to leave so he and I ended up talking for a while. When it was time for me to go he volunteered to walk me to the valet stand. A true southern gentleman.  

This was an out of-the way-stop for my trip, in that the next day I traveled to my childhood hometown to visit friends. The shortest distance would have been to go there first and miss the opening. The way the evening worked out, plus the significance of being included, made it a beautiful event and worth while.

Being social and confident provides many advantages.  Escape with poise “Like you belong”.

Monday, April 23, 2018


Deeply depressed after his wife's death, a man moves from Mississippi to Los Angeles to live with his sister. While there, he forms a complicated and enriching relationship with a transgender sex worker. 

 Opening May 11.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Don't Be Like...

Girl's Tee
My drive home gift

Today (Saturday) I spent time wandering my college campus and a little shopping at the campus bookstore. Graduation was 50 years ago and there are many memories. My only plans were relaxing and wandering. Mainly wondering where the years went.  Good years and good memories.   

Virginia in the springtime is beautiful.  Being here and being Rhonda makes it a double treat.  A beautiful escape weekend.  

Friday, April 20, 2018

Nine West Shoes - Good Bye Old Friend

It was with a sigh that I read last week of the demise of Nine West Shoes.  Nine West will no longer sell shoes. Always a favorite for style and classy heels.  Maybe not the best for duration or every day wear, however still on the leading edge for being trendy. 

My Mall's Nine West store closed well before Christmas last year and had a closing sale. If you still have a store in your town maybe you can pick up a pair. Soon to be a collectors item? Maybe I exaggerate, but I am sure the brand will continue on eBay for a while.    

A good example of living-on is Enzo Angiolini. I do remember they had likely smallest store in my mall. It did not take long to browse their shelves and I occasionally found a cute pump on sale. I see their shoe in Macy's and other places, so even if the stores close, the name/brand can continue.  

As a dedicated mall shopper for many years, I attempted to pull together a list of the ladies shoes stores that are gone-but-not-forgotten. Take a look at the list above and let me know if I have left out any of your favorites.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cars in Pairs and Lunch at the Club

2014 Gullwing Version SLS

My Mercedes Car Club toured the private car collection of Mr. John Schumann in Vero Beach, FL. The Schumann family had owned two local newspapers. Now retired he enjoys his passion, cars. 

The highlight of the day was a tour hosted by Mr. Schumann and his wife.  Several of the car she actually races.   The collection included exotic, rare sports cars and race cars. The cars are displayed in pairs by the manufacturer... one 20th century, the other post-millennial. e.g 2005 C5 Corvette - 1955 Corvette.    

There were, Chevys, Fords, Jaguars, Aston Martins, Maseratis, Mercedes, Porches and Ferraris. Mr. Schumann gave a brief overview of each car, took a few questions then ran a high-quality sound program featuring each car as it starts, winds through the gears, down the stretch of his on-site race course and then shuts down. Very cool!!!

Then it was off to another building for more cars, including a Lola, Shelby A/C Cobra, Ferraris, etc. The most exciting for us was the Gullwing 2014 Mercedes SLS. Also was an open-wheel Ferrari Formula One car from the sixties that actually won the French Grand Prix. 

Yes, these cars were also featured in a sound program. After hearing each car’s individual sound, Mr. Schumann plays all the cars together starting and running through the gears. You could close your eyes and picture yourself at the start of Sebring, Daytona or Le Mans"Gentleman and ladies - Start your engines!"

After the tour we went to lunch as a group at the Quail Valley River Club in Vero Beach.  The lunch was hosted by one of our members who is a member of the marina and golf club.  Such a fun full day ESCAPE.  

Ladies that  lunch at the "Club"...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Kiss Your Elbow

I was maybe five or six years old and our village jokester who hang out at my grandparent's general store, came up with this – “If you kiss your elbow you will turn into a girl!”  I remember vividly the statement and in private later that day attempting the feat. Could it really be that simple? 

In a Big Closet  / Top Shelf Transgender story entitled “Kiss Your Elbow and Become a Girl” writer Jennifer Sue's opening elaborated on the saying - (spoiler alert):

There is an old saying that periodically makes the rounds of schools. It’s really silly and quite impossible but at the same time holds a strange fascination for those who hear it. It’s mostly used by girls to tease boys. “If you kiss your elbow you change into a girl”. The near physical impossibility of kissing your own elbow is one of the more unusual parts of this childhood mythology. According to the legends, a peck to the elbow would bring about an instantaneous sex change. For most boys, it was a threat of a terrible fate, something never to do. After all, most kids would never want to be a member of the opposite sex; they're icky, and may even have cooties! The most common version of the myth was that kissing your elbow at any time would cause a sex change. It doesn't matter if it's by accident or intent, if your lips touch your elbow, you're going to have to start using the other restroom. Some variations of the myth had a certain ritual you had to perform to become the other sex, such as spinning around in a circle ten times under a full moon before giving the kiss that will turn a boy into a girl. Obviously, no matter how much ritual is involved, it doesn't work...

I only mention the story and site because of the opening paragraph. Needless to say, I was fascinated early on by an easy process to become a girl.  Oh well, it was worth the try.  

Maybe I will give it one more try later today.  Let me know if it works for you?  I know you will try.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What Makes You Awesome?

Amy Schumer
I believe Amy Schumer is one of the brightest women in Hollywood. She has fought against body shaming and has spent years dealing with body image. She is not fat and a recent cover photo in a swimsuit for InStyle proves it. She is not supermodel thin however, represents how real women look. Much more so than how fashion magazines portray women. She is self-confident and speaks her mind.  I like the way she looks.

Hello, I am Rhonda and I am carrying extra pounds. (This is where you say hello back).  I admit it and need to work to get back into stylish clothes hanging in my closet that do not fit. I am not body shaming myself, but know that now is a time to take care of an expanding problem. Swim Suit season? I have never been a diet freak and for most all of my life, I have been blessed with a metabolism that worked for me, not against me. Now is the time to take control back. Too many snacks, breads and deserts.  I will not let this get in the way of my self-confidence. Enough said.

I have known women who go from a size 2 to a size 4, then refuse to leave home; the “I am fat” excuse. This does not play well. People are all sizes and the standard has changed over the years from the curvy figure of the 50’s to the twiggy figure of the 70’s.  No one has the right to shame you, for being you. Some of us will never be a size zero.  

Back to Amy Schumer.  She has just completed a movie due to be released soon that addresses female self-confidence. The title, "I Feel Pretty" and the plot line goes like this:

"An ordinary woman who struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy on a daily basis wakes from a fall believing she is suddenly the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. With this newfound confidence, she is empowered to live her life fearlessly and flawlessly, but what will happen when she realizes her appearance never changed?"

Critics are judging the premise based on the trailer.  I am going to wait but like the question of “What makes you awesome?”  The Right answer  - A person’s value is not their appearance.

“It’s not a perfect movie,” she (Amy) says of I Feel Pretty, which she also produced. “It would be great if my role had been played by a woman of color and there were more trans people in it, more people with disabilities. But it’s a step in the right direction, I hope.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

Post Number 1000

This blog started July 16, 2015 and it is amazing to reach this point. This is from the kid who dreaded any writing assignment in high school.  I want to thank you for your encouragement, constructive comments, and continued views.  I try and provide mixed content and work to keep my subjects relevant and fresh.

Likely some of my "dyslexia enhanced" writing provides comedic entertainment and I appreciate your understanding. 

So if anyone out there ever doubted what you can accomplish, I am living proof – “go for it”.  Everyone has a story and maybe I still have a few left to tell.  

"Make sure that your story gets told!"

My readership count is very impressive and I feel there is interest. Therefore I will continue on a daily basis as long as there is something to write and the task does not overwhelm.  

A blog takes a lot of effort and if you enjoy what I post, let me know from time-to-time by posting a comment; positive or constructive. Much like being on radio, one is never sure there is an audience. If I offend or should say something in an inappropriate manner, please let me know. The comment section is always available and your thoughts are valued.  If you have not already done so please participated in the survey.      

Just so you know, my blog does not contains advertising or cookies and I only mention businesses with that I personally know and support. I do not receive any payment and write out of love for the transgender community.

One favor I would like to ask. From what I see, many of you come to my blog through other blogs.  If you would click "Follow" on my site it would likely improve my web/search standings so new views can find the blog. Your continued loyalty is appreciated.  Thank you again. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

I Had A Dream.....

I woke up, put on my Maidenform Bra and went to work.  Sometime dreams come true....

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friend's Friday - Upcoming Trip

Next week I will be attending my 50th college reunion in Richmond Va. I mentioned it before and have finally firmed up my travel and activities plan. I guess the list of attendees to the right are friends (classmates), although I do not recognize any of the names.  

My friendship with the retiring Alumni director has provided access to events that are reserved for VIPs and heavy donors. I hope to not embarrass either her or myself.   

According to U.S. News & World Report, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has the #1 public university art and design program in the United States. To enhance this position the school or arts has built a 37 million dollar art building/gallery, intended to inspire students, faculty, and the general public by bringing nationally and internationally respected artists and scholars to the city of Richmond and the University.

Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU 
The Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU grand opening for University, state and local dignitaries will occur on Wednesday evening of next week. That is two days before the general public grand opening. I have been invited to the Wednesday evening festivities. That should be a dressy affair.

Thursday I plan on traveling south to my hometown and have dinner with friends at a local upscale restaurant.  So far we have about ten that have indicated they will attend. It is always nice to be back home. I still have good friends there.  A country kid at heart.  

Friday afternoon I have a private tour of the current (new to me) engineering school and building. This building and program was completed after I graduated. While I was there, engineering had a secondary position to art, design, music, and drama; not any longer. I look forward to seeing the engineering school and facilities. The Chief Development Officer/Executive Director for the School of engineering is handling my tour.   

Friday's dinner is at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) with about 10 invited guest of the Alumni director. Dinner I believe is with several retired Deans, a well-known writer, and a retired CEO. All of us Richmond Professional Institute (RPI) now VCU alumni.

Saturday evening is the Reunion Dinner. We '68 graduates will be part of a special pinning ceremony and will be inducted into the "Golden Circle Alumni Club".  Wow - that makes me feel really old.  

This should be a very interesting trip. Stay tuned. If there are any in the Richmond or South Side Virginia area, I may be able to squeeze in a morning coffee or snack. Let me know.   



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Earrings Hack

I have been trying to work out a way to wear drop earrings for a while.  I have several clip-loop earrings (post/pierce style) with spring backs where I have cut off the post. That works, however the "how to wear" the ultra-feminine drop / dangle style has alluded me.  

I know, just get your ears pierced - That is for another day.  

What I did find on Amazon is the "Bememo Earring Converter". It is a DIY project that allows you to convert any hanging post style to clip. The package contains 36 and you can order gold or silver.  The way it works is obvious and only needle-nose-pliers and patience are required. Easy and I find they hold even with heavy solid ball earrings. The spring back can also be adjusted in several ways to provide a better hold because of the soft metal.    

Has anyone found anything better or have any other suggestions?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Never Too Late for a Challenge

John Maroussas and Patsy Cline

Polo at Any Age
John Maroussas Talks Starting Polo, Patsy Cline, and The Gay Polo League

From: PSPolo.com
By:    Callie Clement

When John Maroussas attended the Annual International Gay Polo League (GPL) Polo Tournament, 5 years ago, he knew very little about the sport. Today, at age 71, John now plays polo regularly with his trustworthy polo pony, Patsy Cline. The two don’t let their ages stop them from enjoying all aspects of the exciting sport.

“Watching GPL got me started in polo for sure. It was the event that switched this all on for me”, John says. “When I was at the game during the April tournament the people playing seemed to really be having a good time. I watched what was going on and I thought that I could do this too!”

Shortly after attending GPL, John decided it was time to break his 40-year hiatus from riding horses and signed up for lessons at Palm City Polo Club, the home club for GPL. Although he had to start from the beginning again, he was soon out on the field playing polo. Two years later, he decided to purchase his own polo pony.

John’s pro, Joey Casey, found the perfect pony for him. Patsy Cline is a seasoned, older, fast mare with a wonderful temperament. John purchased her knowing that she was older and says, “At 71 years old I can’t expect to be playing in 20 years and neither can she. Because of her age she is very experienced at polo and knows the game. She is a willing horse, and she’s very safe.”

John and Patsy are proof that you don’t need to start polo at a young age to enjoy the game. As many know, the sport of polo is often rough and at times dangerous. Knowing that, John claims, “at my age there is a fear factor and I’m a little less inclined to let everything go and that’s probably the major challenge I have in this game. That being said, I play at my level and I’m very comfortable and very happy there.”

While polo is a sport that many start at a young age due to family ties, the story doesn’t always have to play out that way. With the right horse, like Patsy Cline, and the right teammates, like the Gay Polo League offers, polo is a sport that can be started and enjoyed at any age, regardless of skill level.


John and me at our Sunday Meetup 

There are many of life's choices that can be embarked on at any age. Self limits,  many times, are our biggest obstacle. John's choice to come out as gays was also a decision not made early in his life.  Family, kids are still there for John and he now peruses the sports passion of Polo. John was the star at last weekend's festivities. Congratulation John on your escapes.   

Peruse you passions.....