Saturday, 30 October 2010

Internet is dead

The net is dead in town tonight, fingers crossed that it comes back online without trouble.
Trying to sort things out to some order between the laptop and desktop  machines. If I had some training or if I was more tidy it would help.
My decision to get myself into a better shape has started well with willpower to control food and exercise taken on foot and bike. The car has taken a fortune to get through the MOT test, full annual service and a new set of tyres, two months spending money gone in one. The tyres were the easiest, instead of driving about dirty greasy tyre depots for a good price I did a net search and a mobile service came out cheapest and most convenient. They called to say exactly when they would turn up and arrived with a neat workshop in a van. I made the mistakes of being really helpful putting the car into the neighbours parking area for flat off road convenience then asked a few questions about the setup all the while towering over the poor guy. When my neighbour came home two hours early she was surprised to find the work going on and was told that “the guy” across the road had told him to work there! I was working in the garden wearing old rags too so what can I expect? Can’t win them all!
I thought we could get rid of a load of old books, not the really old ones of course, and make some room on the shelves for the piles of books which keep forming all over the place. Three large shopping bags were carried off to a charity book sale in a country house where we got  lunch and chat and came back with two bags full of different books! Not a single real space on the shelves had appeared and we still have the piles!!
I am clearly in need of more trips out for walks to increase my fitness and burn a few calories. I walked in the opposite direction to the recent slideshow walk and headed out of town and along the beach towards the point. There were a lot of dog walkers on the early section trying their best to foul up the place, this time of year is by far the worst when usual well behaved owners decide with a change of weather of hours of darkness that they too can be antisocial **********!
Further on there are the bird watchers and serious walkers and occasional couples wandering hand in hand. One couple were busy photographing each other on the old war time defenses, they did not want to be in a picture together when I offered! The weather has been more from the east in recent years and has caused great changes to the dunes in the estuary cutting into the forrest in places. The tide was fairly high causing some diversions into the trees then back to the beach to the point where there is a “site of special scientific interest”, at one time the fastest accumulating land in Europe. I finally got out of the shade of the woods and looked over to the army training grounds on the opposite shore where I used to wander when I first came north forty years ago. Few were prepared to make the six mile trek along the beach, the flags indicating firing in progress put a lot of people off. The huge dunes on that point were my private place where I could go and swim and sunbathe naked with little chance of being found, whole squads of soldiers would occasionally do exactly the same in the summers. Getting home could be a bit risky when they decided to a little rifle practice hours after I had passed the unraised warnings and found bullets whizzing just above my head as I hugged the dune line just in front of he targets! The photographs of me in the dunes like Edward Weston nudes in the dunes at Oceano were purged long ago much to my regret. 140 lbs is now just a dream.
At last my new driving license arrived, the photograph ritually wrecked by the worlds worst scanner / printer combination in the world but I am recognisable. 
I knew that my medical records must have been changed with new names and number when a new bowel cancer test kit arrived! **** is one of the things I loath so this was not too enjoyable to play with but foe three days I took the samples and sent them off to establish something in my new name with only an insignificant error to their statistics. Several days afterwards the new documentation arrived. Week by week my identity gains in strength and the old one fades into obscurity, when I came across a small image ,two inches square, Of a guy with a neat beard on the chin for a moment it seemed to be a stranger but soon I was staring at this image trying to imagine that it was once me with that semi haunted look in my eyes.
Not a glimmer of light from the telephone exchange building which is just seen from my back window, clearly they have no idea that some of us are here in the early hours of the morning, guess I should start reading those books.

Seems one piece of equipment failed in Edinburgh, fifty miles away. Thought the net was supposed to go round problems and find a way. Reading was fun, perhaps I should do more of it and less of this...

Working on another slideshow of the walk to the point but not quite finished.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

No pictures with this post.

Not the best time of year for me. Sadly the summer was a washout with hardly enough time for the ground to dry before the next wetting. My hopes for some useful relandscaping and the fat burning exercise were dashed, there is an area seen from the new window where we can look out while washing dishes which looks like a recreation of a first world war battlefield especially after a little rain. Today we had a lot of rain!
I knew that my metabolism would slow with the HRT and thought the gardening would see me through the change but it has not and I am now about six pounds larger than before. For health and some vanity I need to reduce. When I read Lucy’s post about her upcoming operation and need to also reduce it acted as a spur to get on with it. I did it about twenty years ago when I gained weight during a low period in my life only getting kicked into doing something when I started to run out of clothes which fitted! An increase in activity and careful control of eating gave me a slow and regular reduction. Like Lucy, I like food so we will both have a challenge ahead, I know there are others out there on the same path, wish us luck.
The government has said it will not be cutting health spending but I am still a pessimist at heart where they are concerned and fear the worst. GRS is still a year off minimum but rather than slip into a depression waiting, I just love waiting!, It is best I try and get this new body in some kind of shape so that they can’t hold me back because of fitness or health concerns over weight. My sloppy uncoordinated wardrobe will have to do for a while, I had wanted to get some smarter clothes but dare not if they are not going to fit in the near future. That is one advantage of the darker months, nobody can see you!
When I started to clear my face of hair I thought that might be enough to make me comfortable with myself and it was until I started to see a memory of that face from forty years before and it was less masculine and ugly than I feared it might be and I started to want to progress.
I don’t know how but I managed to slip through the usual channels and got the horrible bag of balls removed two years ago. They had started to hang lower and swing about driving me to distraction. Once gone I thought they would have to give me HRT as the obvious drug to counter loss of bone density but it did not work out like that. I was fairly comfortable with the idea that the poisonous testosterone was gone and not much rubbish was left between my legs, I thought this would be enough for me.
Being sent to the gender clinic to be examined to see if I was crazy was the one thing I had tried to avoid for most of my life. They know this has nothing to do with being crazy, you do not cure mental problems with surgery! Sent I was and declared not crazy and told that there was nothing to stop me going as far as I desired with my change! How this will pan out under the new austerity financial climate I will have to wait and see, the health service is the only way I can possibly do this so I am at their mercy now that they have raised my hopes.
I have not been watching so much tv since I discovered the net, surprise surprise but when I clicked it into life last week there was a documentary about a couple of people part way through transition, both brazenly admired their bodies in  full length mirrors. One was a performer with fabulous curves and bumps in all the right places and was in no rush to loose the original equipment, the other was headed for the operation, you later saw the knife slice in which is fascinating and certainly causes not a sign of a flinch in me, lots of dangling tackle shown in the mirror.
It struck me that I am quite fortunate to be rid of the testicles and be little bothered by the shrunken penis which hardly shows when wearing knickers. I was happy enough to wear bikini bottoms when on the public beaches in France. If I get stuck at this stage I think I could come to terms with that situation but I could not if I was lumbered with the sort of things those two girls still had between their legs.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

A week with a visitor.


What has life thrown at me recently? The end of an era occurred when the last remaining colour film, all balanced for tungsten lighting for photographing artworks in controlled conditions was finally turfed out. This stuff was magical and I was so completely in harmony with it all slight adjustments to exposure were instinctive to each piece of work and in the last couple of decades hardly ever missed an exposure. I saved a fortune on film, I knew people who made several exposures of everything, I only made two identical exposures “just incase” if I had traveled a long way to do a job. What a waste  that was and what a waste sending this last  box of film to the dump.



With the imminent arrival of my sister in law I decided to tidy the bathroom. Truth be known it was getting dark in there, not in the day so much but at night the light was buried in amongst the branches. It has been slashed right back but may have to be removed since the tray beneath the pot it grows in has started to leak through to the kitchen beneath, not sure how to go about fixing this.



A reconnoitre of the beach seemed a good idea when we got a bright sunny windless day. This could have been one of the requested trips out when Yanna arrived, she chose to go seeking fungi in the woods instead!







A day in the highlands took us to Aberfeldy and a visit to an old college friend of Yanna’s. Her new painting studio was too good for purpose and is now let out for holidays for most of the year. We talked for hours round the cosy new stove guarded by an even newer dog.



On the way home we passed through Dunkeld on the river Tay just as the light started to fade and later passed a friends new bobbin sculpture with night time illumination. A photograph had been promised so timing was perfect.




Another of Yanna’s college friends was having an exhibition at the country house gallery where I have been exhibiting  recently so we visited via the harbour at Arbroath for a “fish supper”





Half a century ago a Pictish carved stone was uncovered in the fields near the gallery and now sits in their covered courtyard




On Yanna’s last day with us yet another old college friend arrived for a lunch visit. In the last four years since we last saw Fiona she has shed her motherly image and reinvented herself as a svelt curvy thing complete with new partner making us look quite frumpy!



Now we are on our own once again and facing the start of the autumn chill and evenings closing in. Enjoy this post, no more excitement planned for a while.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

On the road, France 2010.







Completely forgot that these images were buried on the internal chip in the camera. This was a marvellous day but with a strong breeze to test the leg muscles. This post is for Sam.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Goodbye to an old friend.

Memorial event for my wife’s uncle today. He did not want a fuss when he died so nobody but his children were to attend the actual funeral several weeks ago then they were to arrange a party for his friends and family to get together to remember him.
This gave loads of far flung folk to get organised to attend hence our house guest from France. Ken was a marvelous guy, apart from being a distinguished medical researcher in his early career he spent much of his life as a teacher alongside his hospital practice. At one time he had the only working artificial kidney in the world while working in London and did research into kidney care which changed mortality rates from 90-100% to 50% saving suffering for untold numbers. Work on catheters for kidney work was transfered to the same for the heart and the fitting of stents so if you know people who have their tubes held open he helped develop that for them.
For someone with countless honours including a personal one from the Queen for being her physician in Scotland he was the most unassuming gentle man you could meet. He was interested in everything and was cramming in learned tomes until the last couple of months before he died, conversations with him were the best you could ever hope for and hours vanished before you knew it. He was doing the Times crossword till near the end, I could help with films and popular culture which somehow passed him by. When he could no longer hold the heavy books, I downloaded university lectures from iTunes and gave him my iPod to make up for his loss.
About a hundred and fifty turned up to hear people talk about his life, all his grand children spoke, read his favourite poems or played music on the instruments he bought for them. The one great grand child gurgled and cooed through the whole proceedings. Because of my lost voice, and not having grown up yet, I joined the GG child’s table for my coffee and sandwiches and over rich cakes. Eventually I joined the throng and tried hard to put names to the extended family and many of their friends who I have met before. They all took this new entity in their stride with several being especially warm and welcoming though the prize has to go to Janet who proposed that we have a shared birthday party this year! Numerous invitations received for dinner parties and one for a stay in Glasgow when I get my next gender clinic appointment. 
It would seem that I have passed a big test today and really now I am just me to most people and just have to get on with it.
As people scattered to their homes we were left with no evening plans once we had delivered a passenger to his home. Since nobody else seemed to be having any firm ideas what to do I got in touch with a cousin in the town who I had heard say was going out for a meal with the couple she was putting up who had driven hundreds of miles from the south. I have met Avril many times but never her husband who is a tenant farmer, we joined them in a local restaurant for an interesting chatty evening. Julie’s sister is reeling from all these meetings, she has been away from Scotland for over half a lifetime having an interesting life which everyone has followed while she forgot most of them existed many she did not even know about.
Twelve hours off before the next lunch, this time with her old friends and easy since it is here. Going to need a week to recover. 

Friday, 15 October 2010

House burning down.

There is a question often asked in interviews, “ what would you grab as you left a burning home?”
Hard question to answer, I like many of my possessions but few are irreplaceable  beyond the content of the computer and more of that is now safely stored in several places. In the past it could have been a favoured camera but the digital age is not one of desirable image making machines to covet and cosset once obtained so I don’t have anything like that any more but I do have something to grab!
My new passport arrived today, picture is not too badly messed about by their cheap scanner and it has Ms C… printed for the world to see. Reassignment  of Identity Documentation or RID as we shall have to call it in the age of the acronym. Due to RID I am finally rid of my false cover.
How can anyone understand what it has been like to live a life using false documents like an alien spy wondering when someone will notice and your world fall in? I have had passports since 1967 and crossing international borders always caused anxiety since surely these professional fraud spotters are going to have their doubts and they often did hold us up for far longer than other travellers, once so long the line of drivers behind us wanting to catch a ferry started sounding their horns at the immigration control! This was the first ferry for about six weeks after a strike!
So I have an true identity at last and the document to back it up, in a country which hates the idea of identity cards I love the fact that documentation finally matches my true self and I would certainly grab it long before anything else.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Up too early and thinking.

Not much sleep and woke in darkness with another sore throat, how can this be?
I came to the screen in search of something to distract me only to find that most people out there whose blogs I follow seem to have lives to lead, many to such an extent that their blogs have ceased to be or have not had a post for months and you are now all neatly filed at the bottom of my list hidden away for now.
The three posts waiting for me this morning all hit on topics active in my thoughts these days.
A Life Reborn - Rebecca Posted photographs of early morning walks in the early autumn parkscape. Unwanted freedom has given her this opportunity to explore her world but like many in our circle is now seeking new work alongside a new life. Frustrating in a world where so many useless people are employed and so many talented are not. I was once a driven observer of the world through the lens and feel a little embarrassed to find that I am not posting images as good as these. Lets hope Rebecca gets employed soon to save me further embarrassment!
Virginia's Tonic Worries that she is dominating the home agenda with her new found life. I think we have all probably done that at some period as we burst into the world like Champagne from a shaken bottle after an eternity held down tight.
I seem to be reaching near the end of the bubbly period which really took off four months ago with my final coming out though followers will know that I had been wondering how far out I had to go before someone finally asked, people can be really dumb. There does seem to be an infinite number of people to tell and paperwork to get through but after a life time of angst and frustration boiling away inside sending me through a roller coaster ride of depressions real life is a bit quiet and almost dull. This does not bode well for the next years posts does it? Our national health system grinds away very slowly and is getting evermore strapped for cash for the final piece of surgery which has been dangled like a carrot before me.
Forty years ago I was told That there was no hope of ever getting any medical help in my lifetime and like a fool I believed this medical wisdom! Stranded in a limbo, no way on earth was I ever going to attempt to play a male role and wear hideous male clothes but wearing my unisex to feminine style did not exactly make an unqualified person employable, we had depressions in the economy back then too. I stepped into the shadows and lived a very quiet life venturing out only occasionally. The world slowly changed and while we hardly fully accepted into society help is finally there if you have the circumstances and nerve to ask for it. The personal price is still a high one to pay and while I have been lucky to live in an accepting arts circle of friends not everybody is so lucky with even the mother-child bonds often the first to break! Sadly as a group we are as disunited as any out there and perhaps is responsible for our lack of general acceptance. We shall be forever a wide ranging and fluid group with those least able to make a full and imperceptible return into society the ones most likely to be the long term face society sees and holds as a caricature. We, and certainly society generally does not have a hard and fast set of words clearly defined to be able to describe us and our condition, we hardly know what to call ourselves or the surgical procedures we may undergo.
Divide and rule has been a good adage since time immemorial and we seem to do a very good job of doing just that to ourselves to allow others to rule us! Melissa's Meanderings is now up to 20 comments as cages have been rattled. Perhaps we are doomed.
Jill at Through the Looking Glass, perhaps still private, has been a bit behind with her voice exercises. Now surely we can all be agreed on this one point. M2F voice is hard and we just have to put in the practice even though it is hard to judge your own results.
Now if only I did not have a sore throat...

Monday, 4 October 2010

At last

If you are curious and were to Click me You could finally see a few photographs.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

WET, WET,WET.

last night of the long hair.


October has arrived with more driving rain, just the weather for todays mission.
Thank goodness we have been unwell, Julie is now trying my cold and finding she does not like it and As usual I have been left with a cough which will no doubt take weeks to clear. To have been in this state out on the road would have been unpleasant to say the least especially since we have been spending half the day asleep and half the night awake and keeping as far apart as possible much of the time with me still camping in the spare room vacated by our recent guest.
The only up side to all this is that I was able to attend the appointment along the river at the hairdressers which I had made provisionally last week. I have worked out that it is five and a half years since I helped a girlfriend get to her appointment with her broken leg, I had no idea the time had passed so quickly.
It was lashing with rain when I set off and I was none too pleased that some idiot had damaged the first ATM I visited and had to spend extra time in the rain to get some cash. I do not have a card yet in the new name and did not want to wave the old one under their gaze. There was a parking space just ten yards from the door so the result would not be ruined before anyone had seen the full effect.
The salon was in full flow when I arrived just before 10.15, not an extra heart beat per minute, nothing but a state of calmness as I took a seat on one of the sofas and gazed out towards the street and listened to the chatter about me. It was not long before Sally came to lead me to another floor of the building, already girlfriend mentioned above had briefied Sally on my updated status and she was enthusiastically on side. With her she had a couple of style books but I had already decided to run through my general thoughts and the points which were of slight concern like my deep widows peak and desire to keep something about shoulder length at this point and see what she could suggest. It was soon clear that she was spot on my wavelength and I gave her free reign to do exactly what she thought fit. She knows where she wants this to go in the future already! This is the easy care starter cut! I think she is going to be giving me homework!
I was offered a souvenir but declined and a small weight of hair hit the floor and I mean weight! The process is too fascinating and the chat so constant that there was no time to zone out and enjoy the snipping and attention, chatting via a mirror is completely new to me and was a little disorienting for a while. The feeling of inclusion was absolute and has suddenly brought tears and a lump in the throat with the brief realisation of something missed in this life, it will pass soon enough, now is what is important.
It was not long before a smile was switched on and could not be switched off. Nature plays cruel tricks on us, hair everywhere but where you want it, my hopes for any real success frankly were on the low side with a starting point of thinning receding hair and the obvious ugly bumps on the skull but Sally played her magic on me and the image reflected back was better than anything I could have hoped for, It floats and swings and bounces and... 

Parting with my cash I felt it was money well spent and have a pre christmas date already arranged so there had better be a few invites out!
Lashing rain greeted me at the door and I was thankful for my lucky parking spot, now for some critical reviews. Julie’s face said it all, happy and pleasantly surprised at just how good it came out and Betty who spends a large chunk of her disposable income in said same salon was equally impressed. Her husband who has been supportive if a bit skeptical seemed a little taken aback at this obvious step more towards femininity, now he knows he is completely outnumbered by women!
After a quick lunch I set off with a shopping list for a meal for friends tomorrow, they don’t know about the hair yet, but thought I would try a stop off on the way. I wondered if I could get a suitable passport photograph while the effect was still in it’s prime so went to see a couple of friends at their studio, they do magazine shoots all the time so perhaps there would be a suitable set up on the go. Just my luck, the space was set up with drum kit! Sandy was going to be using it to practice with his band over the weekend and worse than that the new regulations are so tedious to comply with they had each gone along to the local supermarket and pushed £5 into the photo booth. So no glamourous photo shoot results to show, sorry.
Oh well, we had coffee and chatted and I picked their brains on a few digital questions finally being handed a fat manual of ideal weight for pressing flowers, Hope I don’t get tested on this when it goes back. They packed up for the weekend and I headed from the airport where they hang out through the technology park to the one supermarket with covered parking and did battle with the photo booth and it’s ten second delay to capture after the button is pressed! I was going to show the result but the scanner just decided to not respond to the final scan command, why does machinery do this to me? At least I can now fill in the passport application and send off the huge tax which you have to pay to get the documentation to show my new identity to the world.

Look what a curse on the machine can do!


So which one does the job best, government regulations version or happy snap at home?