22 December 2015

Twilight zone – Stockings VI (update)

mentioned in Stockings III, that I was thinking about trying out suspender belts as a way of keeping my compression stocking up. Here the flashback: 
.. I talked to Mrs.A about the results of my search and discussed the possibilities. She was fully décor with my conclusions, shave and stick. She dismissed the garters by passing over then very quickly. I could see she was trying to suppress a smile. But she held it back, well until I had left the room that is. I think if I had mentioned that I wanted to give them a go she would have started laughing but with a quizzical look of why when sticking will do?.. 

So originally I went for sticking. I have no problem with sticking apart from the stickiness and having to buy a new roll-on every few months. On removing the stockings one has to wash off the tide mark from the residue glue on ones thighs so it doesn't stick ones legs to the next garment one wears, ok one gets into the routine of things but still. 

In part II, I mentioned that I was recommended by Daria the 6-strap suspender belt from RAGO (code 72522 if you want to take a deco). But at the time they didn’t look up to it, for my stockings I thought I would needed a more robust construction. 
As one knows the majority of the suspender belts out there are for, let's say, somewhat flimsy materials. One of the things that got me going again was when I saw a recession on Amazon saying they worked well for compression stockings (it was from a man interesting enough).
[Ed: And what was the other thing that ‘got you going again’?]
We…ll, I really was looking for any excuse to wear suspenders with my stockings every day. Yes I admit it, even if the stockings are to compress and not look chic, even if they will be invisible all the time under trousers instead of a short skirt. I will at least know they are there and be aware of them most the day. 

Ok, so I told myself these were good excuses to go for it, one is only old once. What Mrs.A would say when she would see them I pushed to the back of my mind and would jump that girdle sorry hurdle when I came to it. 
I checked out Amazon, the US didn't have them in my size and in Germany I couldn't find them on Prime or anywhere else. But UK Amazon did have them, so they ended up in the basket. In the payment area I was greeted with a message that informed me that the destination address I had selected for this article was not allowed! 

Brilliant, now what! 

As I was now fixed on having them, I decided to send them to K; a confederate in Wales so that she could send them on here with the normal post.

I added some books for her and also took the opportunity - as I couldn't find them anywhere else - to order some mint press-on nails which had one pretty patterned nail for each hand and a set of matt black with a gold band. I can always find excuses to order a few ‘little’ things which end up as a lot of little things if I’m not careful.. 
I was thinking of having the nails sent direct to Germany but although they were only £3 a set they wanted £10 P&P each! One has to be careful with so-called under priced goods, the end price is usually on par with other sellers, but by reclamation one only gets the value of the goods back, not the P&P.

[Ed: More on nails in a nail dedicated post and other adventures with P&P while buying on-line.]
This was all a bit round the houses, but I was in no hurry and it would save postage in the long run. The order arrived in Wales in one piece, books extracted rest repacked and given up at the local post office.

It’s now 2 months and still no sign of them, the parcel just disappeared! An official search hasn’t brought any results until now and I don’t expect one either. A real shame as I can't get the nails anywhere near the price I paid, and I really fell for them! 

Dam stupid Welsh post! This is not the first time a parcel didn’t arrive. K sent us a Christmas package once, it turned up 6 months later back in Wales as undeliverable! I don't think it ever left the county let alone the country! I suspect this time that in the lawless Welsh Wild West that the stage coach was held up by bandits armed with loaded leeks (or am I thinking of lupines?) anyway some local farm produce or other. 

Anyway, in the meantime I looked around for another source for the suspenders and finally found an online shop in the UK (stockingshq.com) who would deliver to me here. What clinched it was they let me pay using my Amazon account which saved me flaunting my credit card details in another online shop. Must say they have some interesting garments on store, maybe I’ll look back now and then ... 
They arrived with no problem and I have them a couple of weeks now, at the moment still ‘unofficial’. That is Mrs.A doesn’t know they have arrived. Well she doesn’t know I ordered them again for that matter! She does know the Welsh post had lost the original package. Of course as the suspender belt was semi ‘official’ not pure Abigale I just happened to mention in passing - as one does when telling your wife you have ordered yourself a pair of 6 strapped suspenders - that I had decided to try out an alternative to sticking with all this stickiness etc.
As I had her attention and was in full swing, I told her I had ordered ‘heavy duty’ suspenders from an US company via Amazon instead of the National Health ones that I talked to her about. I went on about having them sent to K in Wales (leaving out the bit about the press-on nails of course).

[Ed: If the pictures here are anything to go by, I’m glad you didn’t say ‘sexy’!]
Yes! I had to hold back in my narrative, not easy! They are not that ‘sexy’, but they aren’t ex-army NATO green war worn either. They are well made, nice material, fit well and well a little.. um .. ok a little sexy ... 
I won’t say I was trying to play them down with Mrs.A as just a practical medical piece of ‘equipment’, as with my compression stockings, but I didn’t want her getting nosy at this stage by asking to see them on-line to get an idea what they would look like. These here are some of the first pictures one will find in the net taken from the web site. Finding these would not help trying to keep it all low key.

Well on finishing my 'patter' she didn’t give me that look of ‘what’s he up to’. She accepted it without comment; her attitude was anything that would help to ease coping with my leg problem on a daily basis was above board, classical female connotations or not. Since then she hasn’t mentioned it or asked for a status quo, so she has probably forgotten about it or added it to the low priority list of things to remember. 
The next thing to do, apart from telling you my experience with them, is to think up a story to 'hey look what arrived in the post at work today!' and 'now let’s see if they can cope with my stockings' and so on.. 

I must say this will not be our first joint action with garters and stockings ..
[Ed: More in another “windows:” post. If I mention the Rocky Horror Show then you may have an idea of what to expect.]

.. but this time I need to get it just right if I’m going ‘official’ with wearing them regularly. I’m not too sure how to go about this. 

I will have to monitor her response very carefully to see how she feels about me wearing them per se. I think knowing about them would be ok, but I have a little angst when she is confronted with seeing me putting them on or removing them. At the moment (pre revealing) and after she knows about them, I will have to watch my timing. I don’t think it’s going to be good idea when she unexpectedly comes in and catches me in ‘action’ similar to the picture left.

[Ed: nice panties! Any chance you wearing something similar to work in future?]
No! umm .. well it will depend on what you place under the Christmas tree.  
[Ed: I asked for that, didn’t I..]

Also I must make sure she doesn’t get the idea I want the suspender belt for other reasons, which I don’t really. I have a few other garters for ‘proper’ stockings that I would rather wear and are a lot easier to fasten. But as said, this could be a step in the direction to being able to wear suspenders on a regular bases... 
[Ed: It’s not as if you can only use them for the compression stockings.]
True, thinking about it, they would go nicely with those white lace top pair I have… 

Which brings me to the preliminary results of my ongoing field test. 

I have had them on for work (not at home) about 8 times to-date, whenever I had the chance not to be interrupted when putting them on. The main problem is although the belt and straps can support my compression stockings, the clips are for normal ‘flimsy’ stockings. The picture right shows the classical type of clip. 
When placing the stocking top over the nipple..  
[Ed: nipple? are you sure that’s the name, because..]
I have no idea what it is called! nipple will do! Okay?  

[Ed: Ok registered, nipple it is.]
I though this was going to be easy, the first time I tried I went for the usual routine of attachment. I have some experience with putting on stockings, it’s not rocket science and one gets the knack quick enough even with the blind tactile hock up at the back (see bending down picture above). 

But this time I found myself in learning mode all over again. Normally when the stocking top is placed over the nipple there is enough space to put the wider part of the loop over, press down and easily pull up to fasten. With my stockings it’s a major battle of tug and war. The material is just too thick; the stocking top has also 3 rubber bands as they are to function as stay ups, which works only in part in my case, hence the sticking. 

Here in ‘stuck up’ mode are my latest pair of stockings in Anthracite (Jobst, Ultra sheer). I think you can imagine the thickness of the stocking top and see the 3 light bands where the rubber strips are. The shine is typical of the Ultra Sheer model, quite like them. Don’t see why I can’t take the advantages available. 

With trial and error the only way to reduce the thickness while attaching, is to place the nipple under the stocking top pull the nipple and stocking up and away from the leg to stretch and ‘thin’ out the material. 
Not that easy due to the nature of the stocking, their ‘programmed’ to give support and will fight against any ‘over’ stretching manoeuvre one tries, and girl these are tough! So under tension and hovering in the air, one has to get the loop over into position, press hard down keeping tension squeezing the ‘thin’ material and without losing one’s grip, pull the loop up parallel to the leg to fasten.
[Ed: Not sure if they understood that, maybe you should make a video..]
  I think we will have to have a serious talk sometime. 

 [Ed: ! I was only try in to help..]
To begin with there was a lot of dams and twangs, followed by mini whiplashes that made one jump, followed again with more under the breath dams. Well I now have the knack and with only a few mishaps have all 6 straps fastened in under the minute. 

Okay that was to the first fastening of the day, now to wearing them. 
Unusual is the word I would use. 
Especially when I have to go to the rest room to ‘hook up’ one or two straps that have silently ‘twanged’ while walking around in the office. It’s usually the ones at the front, again to do with tension. While siting they are slack and somehow ease themselves lose, at the back no problem, the sides now and then. The first few days I would go and re-hook whenever I felt a twang, it was nice and quite novel. 

After being asked by some of my staff if I was alright and the mention of incontinence, I left it. Over the day I realised that just one strap would ‘hold the fort’ until I got home, or until had to spend a penny anyway. As I’m sitting here at work and writing this I can feel the straps and clips through the material and the ones at the back as I’m sitting on them, interesting and still, as said, unusual. 

Sometime ago I was talking to a girlfriend in London about this and that and I brought her up-to date about having to wear stockings and that I started to shave my legs etc. basically my stocking saga in twitter format, not mentioning Abi at all, as she is not in the know. At the end of my ‘confession’ she chucked and welcomed me to the ‘world of women’ without realising how close to the mark she was..
[Ed: You nearly spilled the beans didn’t you!]
Oh yes, that was a close call! We know each other over 40 years, a very close call indeed! Maybe I will tell her one day but not over the phone. Funny but I’m not sure if it would be a surprise to her, the last time we were together we were talking about a mutual friend that had SRS. I brought up the fiasco with the Welsh post and ask her if I could use her as a possible post box for a reorder of the suspender belt. We talked about the pros and cons of garters against pantyhose. Her opinion was to go for pantyhose, with her experience over the years garters where more trouble than they're worth, nice for special occasions but not routine every day. Maybe I will come to the same conclusion if the twanging continues.

[Ed: And so, what next?]

Well for my next buy I still have the navy blue pantyhose in my sights. I have also found from Jobst a patterned pair of stockings (here in Espresso). I really like patterned stockings and I thought this would be an ideal combination, but they have them at the moment only in CCL1 (20-30 mmHg) such a shame, I need CCL2 (30-40 mmHg).

 [Ed: Ok. They may be not the ideal strength, but better than nothing, you could wear them for relief at the weekends.]
No! They would have to be stored in my Stash and only come out to go on in an Abi session. If Mrs.A got wind of these pattered pair, the penny would drop and never stop spinning on impact. Here I would have to be very careful, maybe only for ‘special occasions’ as my girlfriend put it. 

Will let you all know how I get on with making the suspender belt an official member of my underwear entourage. 
[Ed: Ah! suspenders today - bras tomorrow?]
Don’t get carried away, time will tell.. 

So that’s all for now. As the festive season is before the door and I have been going on about stockings and keeping them up, Ed: thought this picture would be appropriate. If this is a hint for a present or not I’m not sure.     
[Ed: Well.. you can take it any way you want.] 
So from Ed: and I, all the best to you and your love ones for the rest of this and the up and coming new year. 
May you have the strength and love to be as one with yourself wherever you are on your journey and at the end of the day to arrive home safe and sound. 

Extra thanks to those of you for getting this far in this post. I know it’s a long haul and I appreciate you taking the time to read and I hope comment.

[Ed: By the way I still think the video was a good idea..]
Will think about it, ok?

19 November 2015

ObserVation: A year on..

ooking over my blog stats last week I realised that it has been over a year since I took the plunge and started to comment in blogs and then communicate with bloggers via e-mail. As soon as I let out that I was thinking of trying my hand at blogging some of you encouraged me to do so (you know who I’m talking about). Not only have I got to know some lovely people in the last year but have been allowed to accompany them in a small way on their personal journeys. 

In writing this post I reviewed the last year of blogging and the content of the posts. I am somewhat astonished on what I have ‘aired’ in the last 12 months, with roughly 38.000 words in 25 posts and 16000 views. Not wor(l)d breaking but I wasn’t out to try.

Well, today a year ago I pressed the ‘publish’ button in my blogger area and with a lot of apprehension and mixed feelings I saw my first little ‘Windows:’ post staring back at me from a web link in the Internet. I had taken the plunge and I’m so glad I did. It’s been a lot of fun as well as an emotional educational experience finding out more about myself and aspects of the me I was not fully aware of until I started to put it down in electronic print. 
I’m a nosey person by nature, that’s why I probably ended up in research, and with the blog it has been a sort of coming out to myself, giving me a rough idea of where to put the pin on my situation-map. 

In the future I suspect a certain amount of fine tuning may come about depending on how much I want to delve into ‘me’. On the other hand I’m not sure if I really want to spend that much time turning over stones, but instead just look up and enjoy the landscape as it is and the me in it. Will see where I am then I'll post an update report on this in a year.

Thanks to all those who follow me and the readers who drop in now and then to comment. My posts in future will be, as in the past, a mixed bag of Trans related personal experiences and ‘just me’ stories taken from deep down in the memory box while they are still recallable..

[Ed: Are you finished?]
[Ed: Wow that was really short!
Are you ok?]

Yes, perfectly ok. I thought I would ramble on as I usually do to extreme in the next post. This was just a short personal reflection of the past year.
[Ed: Good! I was getting worried. How about a cuppa?]
Good idea, shall I be mother?
[Ed: ?]
[Ed: Oh you mean pour the tea! yes if you want. Went off on the wrong track there, silly me..]

06 November 2015

Windows: Graveyards IIb

s you may recall from last time in Graveyards IIa, [Ed: read it 1st. if you haven't.] I knew there was an area at the back of the crematory that was booked for new comers. As far as I could see in the dim light I was riding towards it. No matter I knew roughly where I was and ..

 .. the next moment I realised I was going ‘up’, I pondered on this ‘up” a while and came to the conclusion that there shouldn’t be any ‘ups” around here. Just as I had finished processing that bit of information I realised I was now going ‘down’! 
I decided to focus on the ground under me and could just see what looked like grass but up front I saw nothing, just a black void. Interesting I thought, against the faint background glow this void has well defined straight edges .. 
Dam! I realised where I was and what would happen next. 
I tried to swerve away from straight ahead. To abrupt, the bike lost its hold and slid from under me throwing me backwards onto the mound. The only thing going through my mind at that point was what was going through the mind of the deadly nuclear missile launched from Magrathea as it turned into a bowl of petunias due to the Heart of Gold’s Improbability drive .. 
Oh no. Not again’.
I applied the one practical thing I had learnt that morning; I jettisoned the bike by letting go of the handlebars. As the bike slithered on and disappeared into the void, I did my dammedist to lay as flat as possible and clutch at the wet grass under me. The funny thing was although I wasn’t moving that fast I just could not get a hold or dig my heels in. It was like sliding on ice. The next moment I was falling, as I was roughly feet first I braced myself for the landing, hoping not to get tangled up in the bike which was waiting for me. 
After what seemed like ages I made contact surprisingly (#6) with the ground and not the bike. The impact shook me up a bit and out of reflex I let my legs decide to give way and I ended up squatting down in the limited space available. 
I took in the atmosphere: deep, dark and damp. 
I started immediately to grope around for the bike. It was just next to me as if I had parked it there. I used it to help stand up, shaking somewhat as I did so. 
If this was what I thought it was, and if the location, shape, size and negative height to ground level was anything to go by, ‘it’ was what I thought it was. Then this meant I was in deep trouble. 

Although I was at that moment 6 feet under, I had no intention of ending up pushing up daises without having the chance to give up my veto.
I started to slowly panic with the situation I found myself in, but as I stood there to my surprise (#7) I could look out over the top! I noticed the mound I had ridden over and slid down was not covered in grass, but what looked like a green carpet with a grassy like texture. Something typically used at burials to stop mourners sinking into the dirt and afterwards leaving muddy footprints all over the floor at the funeral reception. 
It was no wonder I could not get a hold and dig my heels in – wet plastic! 
As my eyes slowly became accustomed to the new dark shade of gloom, I realised under foot that the bottom of the grave was somewhat uneven and as I could look out, not as deep as it should be. 
There could only be one reason for this - it was unfinished! 
The grave digger had stopped for the night and if I didn’t get out of here under my own steam he would be the first person I would see in the morning! 
He would get a right shock when approaching and hearing from the grave that was probably scheduled to be occupied later that day “Hi! Thanks for dropping by, I seem to be having a problem getting out of here”. 

[Ed: you could add “I want a second opinion"!]
Ok, maybe I was able to look over the top, but in my condition and from where I stood, I was not going to scramble out that lightly. I could just about with outstretched arms, take hold of the green carpet that ended on the edge of the grave. It seemed like it would hold me, but I had no possible leverage therefore no chance. 
I needed to get up higher. I sat on the bike’s crossbar and pondered a while in the dark. 

Have you ever come across or experienced the following situation ... 

[Ed: off again!]
... I need time to panic and ponder.

You are looking all over the place for your reading glasses (or equivalent) and they are all the time perched up on your forehead? I have another variation.
I was standing by the car and started to look for the key. I checked all the pockets on my left and then the pockets on the right also back pockets etc. No luck, I started again on the left when I noticed I was just about to transfer the car key from my left hand to the right so as to have the left free to search. I must have been doing this the whole time!

I paniked and pondered on. 

Well I finally woke up to the fact that I was sitting on the possible solution to my predicament. I didn’t have much choice and it could work. 
I changed positions with the bike by scrambling over it, propped it up against the side of the grave and stood on the pedal to see if the bike would sink or not with my full weight. Luckily it held. I then grabbed the end of the green carpet with both hands and kicked about wildly until I had climbed/pulled myself up and had one foot then the other on the crossbar of the bike.
I was now almost at waist level to the ground. I paused, steadied myself and waited until I got my breath back. I wasn’t sure if I could again take another uncontrolled fall, so I planned the next move slowly and carefully. 
What I could see was that the green carpet was covering the complete mound of dirt extracted from the grave. I assumed that it was there to stop the earth being washed away by the heavy rain over the day. As it had held while struggling up onto the bike's crossbar, there was a good chance that it would give enough resistance to allow me to put myself completely out without it budging.
I started to roll up the end of the carpet so I could have a better hold and leverage when trying to pull myself up and out. 

I went for it. I tugged and started kicking and wriggling like mad realising I only had one chance, as I probably would not have enough energy to keep at it all night. With this thought I spurred myself on. As I was franticly thrashing about like a fish out of water I realised I was lying flat on the ground not half in and out of the grave as before. 

I stopped moving and just lay there panting and waiting to see if I would slide back into the void or not. I realised I was still tightly holding on for dear life to the carpet. I slowly manoeuvred myself towards the end of the grave, having at lease one handhold on the carpet at all times. I finally was able to get up - a little unsteady - but I was standing at last. 
I moved away from the grave and at a safe distance breathed a sigh of relief. I checked for abrasions, cuts and torn clothes. That I was totally covered in dirt head to toe and soggy to boot didn’t really bother me, it was just an additional layer of dirt from the incident that morning. 
I was so glad I was out of that hole. But my gladness was short lived. I was out of the void, but me bike was still waiting to be rescued. 
Now how the h*** was I going to get it out! 
I had no intention of hanging over the edge and trying to put it out. 
With my luck I would probably slip in this time headfirst. 
No way!
I had no idea what to do … 
This was getting silly; the whole day was a chain of sillynesses and it wasn’t over yet. I looked around as much as the gloom allowed. 
There was nothing, no grave digging tools, nothing. 

[Ed: must have been somewhere ..]


If the gravedigger could get in and out of the grave, then so could I. I just hoped the ladder or whatever he used was not locked up. As me bike wasn’t going anywhere for the moment, I wondered off in what I hoped was the right direction towards the caretaker’s tool shed. On my way I kept looking back to see where I was coming from and forward making sure I didn’t fall into any other unsecured dugged holes. 
Eventually the shed loomed up before me. At least I knew where I was at last. I contemplated about walking home (only 5 minutes away) and if necessary, coming back with my own ladder in case I couldn’t find one here. 
I thought better of it, the last thing I wanted was a nosy neighbour asking me in the morning “and what where you doing out late last night with a ladder over your shoulder?” With my luck over the following months there would be a knock at the door concerning inquires to my whereabouts every time there was a burglary in the area. 
No thank you. 
I could go home and come back in the morning to claim back me bike. No, not a good idea. Even if I got there early before ‘opening time’ there was a possibility I would still be detected and then I would have to answer awkward questions and possible consequences to boot. 
No, I needed to do what I could now to get away from here and forget it all. I circled the shed and there at the back was a ladder hanging on the wall. Before letting out my second sigh of relief that night I checked if it was chained to the wall or not (you never know). Luck was with me, it wasn’t. Next I still had to see if it could be removed, no problem it was of lightweight aluminium. 
I then, for the first time in what seemed like half the night, allowed myself to smile with relief, then as my stress factor when down, a little chuckle which turned into a bout of heavy coughing. 

[Ed: loud enough to wake the dead?]

No, I was as silent as the grave. It was a dry cough. 

[Ed: hey that was also good!]

I wasn’t finish by a long chalk but I saw a good chance that me and me bike would be heading home together. With the ladder under my arm I moved as fast as I could back to the grave. On arrival I was glad to see that there had been no grave bike robbers at work.
I lowered the ladder into the grave. Checked for stability and slowly went down just enough to grab the handlebars and start up again pulling for what it was worth. I had no intention of going down any further than necessary. With a finial effort I heaved the bike up onto the ground and then dedicated both hands to slowly climb up the last two steps to join it. 
As the exit was next to the shed, I placed the ladder on the bike and back we went. I hanged the ladder on the wall and headed at last for home. 

For some reason I slept very late. 

For the next few days I took the long route to work. Of course I was curious how the area looked in daylight in comparision to my night impression. But I was a little wary. I didn’t want to meet anyone with a fable for forensic that could put 2 & 2 together and make a connection between me, my bike and the marks at the scene of the crime. 
Sometime later I did search for the grave. It was by this time occupied. I stopped and recalled the day with my ‘series of unfortunate events’. 

And as I looked down a thought came to mind..

‘Rest in peace, and by the way I’m not totally in the dark about how it looks like down there from your present point of view'.

31 October 2015

Windows: Graveyards IIa

s it’s All Hallows I thought I would relate a little incident which as the title gives away, has to do with graveyards. My Graveyards I, from last year had to do with trying to get some kip away from a rock concert, this time well, you will see..

[Ed: After taking a quick look at the text below it looks like you’re going to take your time getting to the plot.]

Yes, I wanted to give some background and relate the whole day leading up to what you call ‘the plot’. May I get on?

[Ed: Sure, please do! don’t mind me, I’ve got other things to do like sorting through pictures of nail vanish for the nail saga.]

Do that. 

I had a friend that was clearing out his flat and moving away from the area. He asked if I would like a few items for my household and his ‘old’ bike. As I had just moved into a flat and had no means of transport other than open, I said sure. So I went round to his place to pick up the bike and see what other things I could use. It turned out that the bike was a 10 gear racing bike. I was a little concerned about this. Well not concerned with the bike being a racing bike per se, I would be using only a couple of gears anyway, but it looked like the wheels would buckle and collapse under my weight. 

I must tell you I have never been on the thin side and also I have never been interested in active sports, it being too strenuous due to weight and a permanent eye problem. I am more the board game type. Chess for example and all its variations from 3D to Star Trek to Chinese and the exotic family of variations which go under the name of fairy chess. Unfortunately I did have to play rugby at school only because once I got moving and up to speed nobody could stop me. If somebody did try they didn’t usually try again. I won’t say I was the team’s secret weapon, but when I was passed the ball immaterial where on the field, I usually found myself scoring and doubled up gasping for breath. 

My friend assured me that there would be no buckling of the wheels or anything else on the bike. It was more a heavy duty type and not one of those you could suspend from an outstretched index finger without realising it was there. Of course I took it; you can’t look a gift horse bike in the mouth saddle. Well it held up and gave me the chance to get out into the country at weekends. 

The friend had not only a bike to give away but had also a tic with the colour orange. Not only was the bike orange, but almost everything he had was orange. I also took two clip-on lamps, a lamp stand and diverse kitchen utensils and a few other things. I can’t remember everything I took; only that it was orange! He even had rolls of orange toilet paper, which I didn’t take, no idea when he got them. 
After a time I moved away from the city out into the suburbs, green belt, the styx, back of beyond, middle of nowhere, call it what you will, it meant it was a long way to the next tram station (straßenbahn). 
 I now had to use my bike every day to get to the tram station. I must say it kept me fit. About 30 minutes one way, all times of day and night and in all weather, summer and winter. 

Most of the journey was through a forest, the entrances where secured with a pole that pivoted at one end and could be padlocked at the other, similar to the one pictured. In the week it was always open to allow easy access for the foresters and I use to sail through not thinking it could be down. Of course I usually look where I’m going, but one’s mind is sometimes elsewhere when in routine mode. 

Every couple of Saturdays I had to do my stint in the clinic. Well it was raining cats and dogs and I had my anorak hood up and secured tight. I was off, my head down and full steam ahead battling the wind and rain. Everything was ok until I arrived at the exit to the forest and the wooden barrier. I just forgot to look up while approaching. 
I only knew it was closed when I hit it at full speed making contact just below the handlebars. 
To quote one Gerald Hoffnung,‘I momentarily lost my presence of mind’, because instead of letting go, I held on tight to the handlebars and did a salto using the pole as the axis. I landed abruptly on the other side with my bike (not bricks) now piled on top of me instead of under me. 
I laid there trying to get my breath back and bringing my mind up to date on what my body has just experienced. After a while I decided to push the bike to one side and in slow motion attempted to get up. While doing this I listened to my body parts for any alarm signals concerning different stages of brokenness. 
Surprise #1, It seemed I was still intact, a bit sore and achy due to the unscheduled short stint of aerial gymnastics. I took it that bruising would show itself later, but all in all ok. 
Surprise #2, by the look of it the bike had also survived the impact, no wobbly wheels that I could detect. 
Surprise #3, my forehead was burning somewhat. 
Surprise #4, as I touched it I found it wet and warm. 
Surprise #5, on looking at my hand is was rather bloody! 
I suspected an abrasion due to contact with the gravel path and with further tactile examination I realised that some of the gravel had decided to hitch a ride on my forehead. I gently dabbed it with a clean tissue and supporting myself on the bike, I started to walk towards a kiosk that was on my route 20 meters away. I had never stopped there only flew by on the way to the tram. This time I decided I needed to find out the condition of my head before continuing to the station. 

The kiosk looked deserted; I crocked out a “Hello!” until a woman appeared. She took one look at me and stepped back with a wide eyed look on her face. 
I wondered why this reaction. 
Then I realised I must look like one of her regular down and outs that I had seen hanging around to drink their last social welfare money. 
I was thoroughly wet through, dirty from rolling around in the gravel and had my hood up partly obscuring my face and what was visible there was blood dripping down it. 
Yes, her expression to say the least was quite understandable. I asked her in my broken German if she had a mirror I could borrow. And explained I needed to check to see the extent and condition of my forehead, also to take the opportunity to clean it as far as possible from the embedded gravel. 
She just looked at me. 
I asked again indicating my head. She just didn’t or didn’t want to understand what I wanted from her. 
I said I had an accident with my bike and pointed at it. 
No reaction. 
I think she had pigeonholed me under ‘possibly dangerous so keep quiet and it just might go away’. Well after a few more attempts at communication I gave up and did go away by wandering off direction tram. I must say except for the frustration with the women, I didn’t feel that bad considering. 
After a long walk (usually a short ride) I locked up me bike and entered the tram. Fortunately as this was the terminus there was hardly anyone in the tram to give me strange looks. I sat in a window seat and after placing a handkerchief and hand up over the wound pulled up my hood and gently rested my head against the window. I tried to relax as a headache and drowsiness started to compete in a race to get the upper hand. 
At work I went straight to outpatients and quickly had someone clean and bandaged me up. Being staff had its perks. 
The rest of the day was without incident apart from a throbbing head. 
Eventually I headed for home.  

[Ed: Get on with it! This was to be about graveyards and one grave in particular.] 

Yes I’m nearly there. I was pretty tired, the short unscheduled flight and landing that morning was taking its toll. Before I describe the last leg of the journey home I have to mention that my way to work was not only though the forest but if I wanted to shorten the time by 10 minutes I took a short cut though the adjacent graveyard.

[Ed: now where getting there!]

The problem is, it’s not allowed. Well you’re allowed of course to walk through the graveyard
but not ride. If I wanted to ride though I just had to make sure I didn’t get caught by the caretaker or other staff. I would check for any visible activity at the front gate. If it was ‘dead quiet’ then open and enter still sitting on me bike, ride through to the back gate open and close from the saddle and ride like the wind off into the sunset forest. I rarely had to take the long way round. 

If I did ride through the graveyard it was usually the same route unless I saw someone looking after a grave or if there was a burial and then I would either get off and walk pass or take an alternative route. 

Over time the cemetery grew.
Now and then new names would appear on wooden crosses stuck into temporary mounds of lose dirt, covered with freshly cut flowers and text covered ribbons. Over time this would turn into permanent engraved stone fixtures with patches of hardy evergreen plants needing a minimum of looking after.  

My work at the time was having to setting up and carrying out experiments that could take up to 12 hours and more. On some days that would mean I would be homebound in the dark. 
Day time was no problem one could see well enough. A cross country slalom between graves was not necessary the paths were wide enough. With routine I could get up to speed so that the riding time in the forbidden zone could be kept to a minimum. 

With riding through at night, the only light was from my rather dim light bulb and a whining dynamo, not you’re blinding LEDs of today. There were of course in the cemetery quite a number of grave lights. They gave an eerie illumination and only helped for orientation by acting like airport runway positioning lights, in this case red not blue.

After my fiasco that morning I was at first a little hesitant on riding my bike when I picked it up at the terminal. But after a few dry rides the wheels didn’t wobble and the brakes braked, so I decided to ride home. As I had been late for work, it meant it was a 'going home in the dark' day. Thankfully the rain had abated but the sky was overcast and everything just damp with patches of ground mist drifting about.

[Ed: that with the mist you’re making it up!]  

No I’m not! On most days in early autumn there was evening mists. The day was and was about to be ‘atmospheric’ enough without fabrications on top.. 

I entered the back gate and made my way towards the distant street lights and the front gate. I didn’t expect to meet anyone this late so I took this time a more direct route. 

After a while I realised that somehow I had taken a wrong turning. I was very tired and probably got distracted thinking about bed. I thought it was funny that there was less grave lights around. I knew there was an area at the back of the crematory that was booked for new comers. 

As far as I could see in the dim light I was riding towards it. 

No matter I knew roughly where I was and.. 

[Ed: hey! You’re not going to stop here are you? You wouldn’t dare!]

Yes, that’s all for now. In the final part I’ll relate on the forthcoming unfortunate event and the consequences there out of. I promise not to wait till next All Hallows before posting it...  

[Ed: not another cliff-hanger! You know as your editor I’m going to get lynched for allowing this!]
No problem, leave town for the week, go underground and while your there do some research on the size of graves. Actually it’s more of a grave-hanger than cliff, down not up.  

[Ed: gawd! Now I’m on the run.. ]

01 October 2015

ObserVation: Did my Mother know?

 his post was triggered by Stana’s post about 'How could she not know'. 

When I was living at home I explored my femininity as best as I could by borrowing my mother’s clothes and makeup whenever I had the opportunity. I have related some of my adventures/close calls here under my 'Windows:' posts. Over all those years at home I can’t recollect any panic concerning tearing or ruining of her things, only panic of direct detection and confrontation. Not once did I have the feeling that she ‘knew’ what was going on. We were very close after the early death of my father and I think I would have felt it if she knew what I was getting up to. 

Either I was really really good at leaving no traces or just suppressed them at the moment they occurred (selective erasure). Looking back I just can’t believe I didn’t make mistakes with relocation, lipstick use, and all those little signs that turn up over time and collect into a pattern on one’s radar. 

My conclusion, she must have known, but she hid it well. 

At my last visit before her death (I didn’t know it was going to be the last visit) we talked about everything under the sun apart from the girl in me. Over the two day visit I wore when possible pantyhose under my jeans, maybe I was trying to tell myself something. 

The whole time it nagged me, but I just did not dare bring up the subject. I was very scared to let it all out in an uncontrolled babble punctured with fits of crying something my boy upbringing wouldn’t allow.. 

At that time there was no Abigale as such. I think now, with her coming of age, blogging and making good friends with similar experiences and their collective constructive support that I could handle such a talk much better and explain myself to her in a way that I hope she would have understood. 

Before Abigale brought things together and handed me a roadmap I didn’t understand myself so how was I to explain ‘me’ to another. Thinking about it, my mother had 40 years of social counseling behind her, she probably had heard it all before anyway! 

I can’t turn back the clock, but I often wish I could. 
Sometimes I rehearse the talk with me mum in my mind. 
Every time I learn a little more about myself.

18 September 2015

ObserVation: The Elizabethan bath & shower

his story was triggered by a picture from Coline’s blog voyageoftheeye which she kindly allowed me to reproduce here. The bath and shower reminded me of a similar one I was confronted with in a hotel in Kent on one of our rare holidays in England. 

I won’t say where it is; only that the hotel is of Elizabethan 'descent' with the typical 'crazy house' interior design, giving you the feeling of being tipsy even before finding the house bar and ordering your first drink of the day.
The people were pleasant, the evening meal ok. 

The room, well ... 
I had mentioned on the phone, when confirming the booking, that we both had back problems and needed good mattresses (you can only try). 
No problem, they said, they had just the right room for us. 
Well ... I’m not sure if they understood me correctly but it turned out to be the so called 'honeymoon suite'!

 [Ed: here the ‘bed’]

The mattress was ok, for the rest of the room I refuse to give a comment. 

Not so for the bathroom, we were informed that the rooms were all newly renovated. Yes, we could confirm that with the smell of paint everywhere. Nobody seems to bother to remove the old paint beforehand anymore, although when I think about it, it’s probably the paint that’s holding it all together. The bathroom was no exception; the small window would only open with brute force and would not close completely again. This was due to not only the fresh paint but the countless other coats the window frame had to endure over the last century.

The next morning Mrs.A wanted a shower, which meant I was to go on ahead and go through the motions and report back on the traps, temperature settings and timings ...

Sorry, but I must backtrack here a moment. 

[Ed: here she goes again! I'm off for a cuppa.]

Do that...

Showering in hotels and B&B in England has always been adventurous. I can still hear, from way back, the curses (in German) issuing from the B&B bathroom when Mrs.A was confronted for the first time with separate hot and cold taps.
I dared not go in and ask what was wrong until she had calmed down somewhat. She was totally dumbfounded at what she called the ‘primitive’ British plumbing system. She remarked that this can only be a one-off experience and that the next B&B (we were doing a tour of Devon) could only be better. I didn’t have the heart to disillusion her at the time, it would come quick enough without me getting in the crossfire.
Well it did not better and after two further days of scolding, freezing and swearing (at this point in a German even I didn't understand), I was given an ultimatum. Either come up with a solution or we would start for home immediately. I was getting that ‘look’ which meant she was deadly serious.
I must say that up to that point I had no problem with constantly twiddling taps while washing. I think it comes with the British passport or it’s in my Anglo-Saxon-Celtic genes. Mrs.A being of Germanic decent was having none of it. 

As we were walking around the local town window shopping Mrs.A came to a sudden halt, almost pulling me of balance. We were in front of a hardware store.
She pointed though the window and said “What is that!?”.
In the window was something I had never seen before. After a while it clicked and I explained. 

She looked at me and I nodded. 
Without another word we went in and bought it.
That evening I knew our holiday was saved. She was more than just happy, she realised she could also wash her long hair over the bath with this ‘portable’ hand shower.
Over the next couple of decades this was one of the first things to be packed before heading for the UK.

 [Ed: are we now back to the main reason for this post?]


 [Ed: then off to the ye olde shower and a good wish upon you!]

Taking a shower is somewhat like cracking a safe. 

One expert look at the object taking in model, age, condition etc. gives you the modus operandi in how you will go about opening the safe or in the case of a shower, operate it successfully without having to seek out the local hospital for burn treatment.
With a safe, it’s slowly to the left while listening, then to the right etc.
For a shower it’s turn on the hot,
wait 5 seconds,
quickly grab the cold,
give it a half a turn,
observe while waiting for up to 15 seconds,
if still scolding then

add a bit of swearing and a
further quarter clockwise turn on the cold,
20 seconds of tolerable temperature ...
... followed by 15 seconds of rumbling,
splattering, coughing from the pipes due to air pockets,
then a sudden drop to sub-zero conditions for any further combinations of hot and cold tap settings.

At this point you press the reset button.
In other words turn everything off and start again.

Eventually you have the knack and can start to shower. 

That is until someone upstairs has the same idea and you’re off once again twiddling taps and swearing at the top of your voice in any language you are comfortable with.
You get my gist?

I entered the bathroom.
It had a bath, as the name on the door suggested and as a second thought as with most British hotels of let’s say “the older generation”, a half-hearted attempt at a shower. 

The Heath Robinson contraption before me was no exception, and by the look of it I would be adding a new combination sequence to my UK Shower Knowledgebase.

Protruding from behind the two taps was a vertical chrome pipe that supported a so-called shower head, which looked like it was a modified long street light casing (minus illumination). I cautiously climbed into the bath (no rubber foot mat or hand rail in sight) and could just about stretch up and get hold of the shower head.
I thought it would be adjustable as the angle was all wrong, but no such luck. I was now committed. Getting in and out of a bath is a problem with my legs and back the way they are. 

There was a mini shower curtain that just about covered the first quarter length of the bath.
My strategy for the day was to slowly try the hot and if needed bring up the cold. I hoped the cold would respond quickly and have enough pressure to hold out against, at this point in time, an unknown factor of hot.

So I turned on the hot, as usual cold at first, then a steep heat gradient with scolding imminent, I grabbed the cold and turned it for what it was worth. The shower head was as mentioned, a modified something, the angle was way too far from the horizontal (30 degrees plus) so that the spray was heading towards the other end of the bath making the shower curtain totally useless.
Not only that, but the spray was being evenly distributed into the room. About a third landed in the bath, a third directly onto the floor, the rest against the wall then running down between wall and bath onto the floor joining the rest.
Unfortunately the third that landed in the bath went quite literary 'over my head'. Mind you I was still getting wet; the shower head was directly over me and had another feature in that it was dripping profusely. I had to decide either to move in the direction of the water spray (at the other end of the bath) and away from the controls (not a good idea), or try and wash in a dribble that was slowly burning my head (again not a good idea).
I took another option; I turned off the water, stepped out of the bath making sure not to slip on the river now flowing under the door into the bedroom.
I dried myself off, making sure not to slip on the river flowing …
Opened the bathroom door, making sure not to slip on the river …
I glanced over at Mrs.A sitting on the bed.
She was staring wide eyed at the river moving in her direction and asked “und?
To which I replied, somewhat dryly now that I was finally dried off “don’t bother!

I didn’t mention the river to the proprietor at breakfast. The maid would probably do that later or, if mopping up every morning was part of her routine, probably not.

 [Ed: here endeth the lesson in attempting to use ye olde Elizabethan shower.]