About Charlie Hudson

Off with my combat boots and onto writing best describes Charlie my two careers. Born in Pine Bluff, Ark., and raised in Louisiana, I count myself as a military veteran, wife, mother, freelance writer, and author. What was intended to be a quick two years in the Army became a 22-year career instead, and somehow in the process, I discovered that I was an inadvertent pioneer by serving in several positions that had previously been held only by men. By the time I was in Desert Storm and later Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, women in leadership assignments was more widely accepted. My love of writing never left me though whether it is a short article that highlights an animal rescue group, penning the stories of a female police detective in the Florida Keys, or presenting issues about aging that Baby Boomers need to address, or working on a corporate proposal. When my husband, Hugh, also retired from the Army, we relocated to South Florida where we can both enjoy the underwater world in dive sites all around Key Largo. We do break away though to still travel, and especially visit the Washington, D.C. area where son Dustin is a professional dancer and lives with his wife, Samantha.

October Trip Day 1……

I normally take this trip early in Oct to be with Daddy for his birthday. There were complicating factors this year and my brother and sister-in-law were there for the actual day to celebrate the 93rd. I had already made my decision to go later and while my sister had planned to be there for the event, she hadn’t planned on Hurricane Harvey. The flooding was less at their place than many others, but still a couple of months for repairs and being displaced (not to mention the terrible mess). She and my brother-in-law arrived last night in Louisiana and I will join them tomorrow afternoon. The last three trips back I haven’t had the chance to see the branch of the family that lives about 2 hours south of Daddy. I’ll head that direction as soon as I get the rental car and catch up with however many cousins show up at my aunt’s house. It might be quite a few if the normal group is around.

This trip has been one where everything was terribly jammed all week and I couldn’t prepare the way I wanted. That mean last night was late for me and although the 5:00 a.m. wake-up is normal, that usually comes with an earlier bedtime. Ah well, so it goes. No significant delays in the first flight and the second leg looks okay so far. I won’t have connectivity again until tomorrow evening so am dashing this off before I head to the gate. More to follow of the adventures.

When You Don’t Have Galleries…..

Pink Mangroves by Mimi Dickson

I was an infant in the first town we lived in, but it was the third one I can remember that was large enough (and that wasn’t huge) to have an art gallery or two. As it turns out, there are more there now although that isn’t the actual subject of this post. People who come to Homestead are a bit startled to see we have no galleries. There were some and during the real estate bust, a number of properties closed or changed hands and one of the impacts was to lose the galleries. Notwithstanding the fact I do buy lottery tickets, we still haven’t found that individual with a couple of million dollars to come in and open a gallery. It is difficult for local artists and in response, one of the Council members established an “Artist in the Spotlight” Program several years ago. An artist is selected and has a two-month exhibition. It was hosted by the Community Center which is a nice facility. After the historic Seminole Theatre re-opened, they installed a very nice hanging system and the exhibits are held there. A number of artists in Homestead Center for the Arts have been featured, and in fact, we will have three in a row spanning August through January. (The painting in here is currently on display.)

One of the excellent restaurants I’ve posted about (Chefs on the Run) has always displayed local art and as of last week, the Capri Restaurant (which also has Pub 935) joined in. The back room, known as the Gallery Room, had photographs and paintings, and I had noticed they seem to have been there for quite some time. We engaged in a discussion and I had not realized the owner’s mother had been one of the founding members of the Homestead Art Club. The Art Club had declined due to different factors and one of the HCA members revived it a few months ago. Membership is flourishing and they have now entered a partnership to display art and have a new exhibit every three months. Neither of these options is ideal as the artist has to be contacted for a sale and that reduces the chance for “impulse buys”. On the other hand, their work is  displayed to the public and they can take pride in seeing it. And yes, sales do get made. By the way, if you do happen to know of anyone looking to open an art gallery, this could be the place.

Say It In A Song….

What a whirlwind week with extra deadlines that seem to be getting together and multiplying. That probably isn’t happening, but I’m not going to swear to it one way or the other. In the midst of running about, I had the radio on as always and I’m usually on Thunder Country in the afternoon listening to Doug Hitchcock, a great guy who does a lot for the community. Anyway, there was a song I hadn’t heard before, “Thank God For Unanswered Prayers”. The title does get your attention. It starts out with a guy who sees a woman at an event (I think) and she was the love of his life at one time and it didn’t work out. The lyrics then are a mix of how much he had wanted that relationship, but because it didn’t, he found the true love of his life instead of the one he was so certain was it. By not answering the prayer of his youth, his life was made better. Basically a new angle on the Rolling Stones song of, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with the line of, “You can’t always get what you want, but you might get what you need.” (That’s pretty close anyway.)

We all know this to be true, but we do need to be reminded occasionally of this fundamental truth. Do not get me wrong, there have been disappointments that were life lessons without necessarily leading to something better. Well, as I write this, I suppose learning to accept that truth is a positive thing. All of this is of course related to the old saying, “When one door closes, another opens”, and the other day I had to smile when I saw a post that used the phrase and added, “But sometimes the corridor between those can be long and empty”. (Again, pretty close).

The New Seminole Season Begins…

Well, began is the correct word. John Popper of Blues Traveler was the headline last night to an appreciative crowd. I had never heard of Katrina Woolverton, but she was the opener and quite good. She was on for a while, then we had intermission before the main act. One of the things with older performers is they logically cannot do too many vocal numbers consecutively, so you get a fair amount of talk in between with background of how a song came to be written or people who were of particular influence, etc. That does provide another dimension to the show and at least we were spared any political thought.

The show had been planned for some time and the Rotary Club decided to join in and make it a benefit for Hurricane Irma Relief. A number of other businesses, Lorenzo Ford, Center State Bank and my apologies to whomever I forgot, contributed to the evening as well. I haven’t heard the results yet, but from the way things were looking, there should have been a nice sum collected.

We had thought about having dinner after the show and I’m glad Hubby suggested burgers at Lucky’s beforehand. We didn’t actually leave the theatre until 9:30 which would have meant 10:00 or later dining. Even with having a snack beforehand, that makes for a very late meal for me. Since it was a Sunday, there would also have been a limited choice of places still open. Anyway, it was a good kick-off to the season that has several other shows we are interested in. Everything is listed on http://seminoletheatre.org

New Name, New Chef, Etc….. (Oops)

I guess I forgot to actually post this which explains the gap over the past few days (Sigh, it’s been hectic)

It’s always a shame when you have a restaurant in a good, or at least decent location that can’t seem to make a go of it. I’ve posted before about the historic Hotel Redland’s restaurant, excited about the changes that unfortunately didn’t last. I am more optimistic this time though as it is now the City Hall Bistro and Martini Bar with the same website of https://www.hotelredland.com

The new chef and manager, Enrique, has a distinct vision he seems to be carrying out in phases. He’s originally from Boston and has been in Homestead at two other restaurants before taking this step. They are open for lunch Tues-Sat and for dinner Tues through Sunday. They are in the upscale dining range with the well appointed dining room although people still tend to sit in the bar. There is the Tapas and the regular menu and two options for Dinner for Two; one paella and one referred to as a “Tomahawk Steak”. You need to read the description of that substantial meal.

The new menu is pared down from the previous, yet provides the “something for everyone” approach and so far, everything has been delicious. Unlike before, the menu is easy to read and the service is definitely improved. The exterior of the hotel with the wonderful wrap around porch has also been freshened and will be quite inviting once the temperatures drop a bit.

I admit I haven’t had a martini yet, so I can’t vouch for that part of the name. They will be working with the Director of the Seminole though to develop a before and after theater option. We’re hoping for the best for them so we can once again promote another excellent dining choice for Homestead.

Battling Robots….

I don’t recall when we watched the first version of robots fixed up to do battle and I think that show was called “Robot Wars”. If you aren’t a big fan of Science Channel, it is possible you aren’t aware of “Battle Bots”. They have taken the concept of fighting robots to an entirely new level. I believe the arena is in California and yes, there is a website as well as other Social Media contacts. Anyway, the arena is set up with tall bullet proof glass panels because of the flames and flying metal parts generated during the battles. It is very much like boxing from a format perspective. Each robot has their team of inventors and controllers. It might be a duo or a larger team. The robots are named and have their individual fans who come to cheer. Within the battle part of the arena, along the edges there are hazards such as spinning metal blades. Each robot is built with certain “weapons” and in addition to trying to knock out the opponent, the controllers can try to maneuver their opponent into one of the hazards for extra destructive potential. There is a referee who can do a “knock out count” and declare a winner, but if it’s not a clear knock out, the judges decide. There are also commentators who talk about the designs, give play-by-play and interview the teams.

Aside from the intriguing dynamics of watching people become involved with one or more particular robot, there is the aspect of science and engineering made fun. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am all for just about anything that brings kids to math and science. If building a battling robot does it, then hooray! Oh, I’m not sure which robot or robots Hubby fancies, but I will ask him.

There Really Are Football Gnomes…..

The Georgia Tech Football Gnome and Bart Starr Autographed Football

When my husband can swap between NASCAR and football, he is a happy man. When his Georgia Tech team wins he is truly happy. When the Atlanta Falcons then proceed to win, it’s nearly a perfect football weekend for him. (I won’t go into the rest of the formula of what makes an actual perfect weekend). Anyway, football and racing are his prime sports and as I have previously mentioned, the short gap in February after the Superbowl and before the new NASCAR season starts is always sort of a “sports trough” for him. It’s not as if we have many sports-themed items around the house and in general, the presents I give Hubby tend toward dive equipment, tools, and now of course, photography stuff.

Back in 2009, I think it was, I decided to surprise him with an autographed football from one of the greats he’d admired when growing up before Atlanta had a football team. The one I knew he had really liked came with a much higher price tag than I was willing to pay, but one from Bart Starr was reasonable. Although I had no actual idea how he would react to this, he did like it and in fact built and designed a little wooden stand for it. And even though I didn’t realize it at the time I bought it, when we looked at the authentication photo the autograph session had taken place in Marietta, GA which is where Hubby was born. That was quite a coincidence.

Okay, a few years ago I ran across a reference to “football gnomes”. Really? It did pique my interest and sure as the world, I went into the GA Tech on-line store and there they were. I suppose I should have known that where there is entrepreneurship, sports-logo gnomes would be inevitable. So, off went my order and in came the gnome. I wasn’t exactly sure of the size and as it turned out, he fits perfectly in front of the autographed football.

When Routines Go Awry…..

Those of us  who had far less damage than could have happened with Hurricane Irma are nonetheless experiencing some disorientation combined with gratitude for what we didn’t have to go through. It applies for those who evacuated and those whose chose not to. Fear of the unknown is a reality and in the days leading up to the storm there was (and always will be) a large element of unknown. As I mentioned in previous posts, that’s a significant element in trying to make the decision about evacuating. Now that we are in post-storm recovery, a number of people have remarked about how tired they seem to be. Part of that is because between warning of the storm, prep, going through it personally or from a distance, and trying to recover, everyone’s life has been disrupted to at least some degree for about three weeks now and that is wearing on an often subconscious level.

Those who were without power for up to a week were dealing with temperatures in the 90s and obviously high humidity which is also draining when we have become so accustomed to air conditioning. Once power was restored, there were thousands who didn’t have telephone and internet and television (or some combination) and quite a few won’t be fully back for possibly another week. Again, connectivity has become a way of life for most of us and to be without that is disconcerting. Events that were planned for Sept and early Oct are having to be rescheduled or decisions made to cancel. If rescheduled, the usual time to prep for something tends to be limited which means extra effort is required to try to make the event go smoothly. The simple fact is when you put things into perspective, none of these issues are terrible, yet when your routines are disrupted it has an effect. Being able to recognize that can give an “Aha” moment that helps.

A Hectic Week Ahead….

Yesterday was more disrupted than I intended, but so it goes at times. With the initial recovery well underway here, Hubby’s efforts are being focused on Key Largo. Horizon Divers where he works is ready to go as soon as people can start coming down. The Middle and Lower Keys took the brunt of Irma and their recovery will be prolonged, although we’re not certain of what that means time-wise. The Upper Keys, down through Islamorada, are still restricted with a “boil water” order among other things. The complex where HD’s dive operation is includes the restaurant Shipwrecks and that’s what the HD crew is helping with. It’s high 90s and intense humidity so the physical work required for cleanup and repair is pretty draining. Access to the Keys is limited to residents, business owners, and recovery personnel, but the intent is to be ready as soon as visitors can return. How many will is yet to be seen.

In our community, there were so many events that had to be postponed between prep and recovery this will be a hectic week as we sort through what can be rescheduled and how to do that. Power has mostly been restored here, but there are still shortages in the grocery stores and people whose property was severely damaged are dealing with that. Something as simple as if a restaurant wants to open, not having staff back means “normal operations” can be impeded. School is starting back today and that is an indicator of routines beginning again. It will probably be another two-three weeks though before we can be genuinely considered as recovered.

Getting Home…..

As mentioned a few days ago, the issue of getting home is a factor in making the decision about evacuating or not. In this case, since Hurricane Irma was highly destructive in some areas and not as much in most, those who did not suffer severe damage can’t help but wonder if they should have hunkered down instead. The sheer process of evacuating, unless done so at the earliest sign of trouble, and trying to return as quickly as possible means coping with drives that can be 30-80% longer than usual and the potential to not be able to get gas or a place to stay during the trip. This is added to the stress of not knowing what the outcome of the pending disaster will be.

For people who go into a shelter, there is often the inability to leave as soon as they would like because roads and streets may not be passable. For thousands here, even if their home did not suffer great damage, with 80% of the county without power, that meant unpleasant conditions at home at a minimum, although most were ready to try and manage. The drawback to waiting for the initial shortages and restrictions to pass before returning is if you do have damage, you are that much more behind everyone else who is making claims and getting clean-up and repairs starting.

Situations like this are something too few people consider when they make the decision to relocate to an area where natural disasters are known to occur. Tornadoes and earthquakes are two of the exceptions because there is still little ability to have much warning about those. Hurricanes, floods, and blizzards all bring the thorny question about what choice to make. This is why knowing what to do to be genuinely prepared no matter which option is chosen is important.