A Wonderful Documentary…..

View of the Suwanee River, courtesey of Elam Stoltzfus.

View of the Suwanee River, courtesey of Elam Stoltzfus.

One of the things that I take pleasure in is meeting people who are managing to live their dreams, and I had such a pleasure this week. Well, technically, it has been email and telephonic meetings at this point, but I am scheduled to meet Elam Stoltzfus in person on Monday. Now, anyone who has followed this blog for any time knows that I believe in rational sustainability, not blind adherence to rabid environmentalist views. I support various organizations, practice environmental consciousness, and I agree that raising awareness of an ecosystem is almost always a good place to start to get people to recognize that we can achieve a balance between man and nature.

Elam, originally from the Lancaster, PA area, has devoted more than twenty years in filming ecosytems primarily in Florida in a way to capture their beauty and show their connectivity to those who live and visit here. His path to setttling in Florida has to do with meeting the young lady who became his wife, and more of his background is contained at Live Oak Production Group web site, http://www.liveoakproductiongroup.com/index.html

Of Elam’s numerous breath-taking films, the one to be released this week is of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition. Elam and three others  traveled over 1,000 miles during a 100-day period beginning in the Florida Everglades and winding their way up to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. Elam sent this link for the FWCE trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAF0MllGNDg&feature=share&list=UUXZVSsKTm9lJRiWIjqJdGoQ

As Elam said when I interviewed him by telephone, it was a story that he knew had to be told in an epic way. Their trip inlcuded kayaking, hiking, cycling, and horseback with approximately 70 nights spent in tents. The film will be airing on Florida Public Television April 1, 2013 and in June at the national level. You can also go to http://www.floridawildlifecorridor.org to see map and more.

Homestead as a Gateway…..

Hampton Inn HomesetadMy husband and I are on a bit of mission. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, our great plan for the fun second careers of him as a scuba instructor and me as a freelance writer was well crafted and executed. The insanity of housing prices in the area when we relocated was not something that we foresaw, however, and that’s why we don’t currently live in Key Largo. But just as with us living in Homestead, the same can apply to tourists and we are attempting to convince the City and the Chamber to do a better job of marketing Homestead and Florida City as alternative lodging choices for people diving in Key Largo. No, I do not mean that I’m trying to take business away from the Upper Keys – love y’all down there.

What I mean is that the Upper Keys don’t always have rooms available, or if you have a mixed group of divers and non-divers, Homestead/Florida City are worth looking at. There has been an increase in the number of hotels along Highway 1 South (Dixie Highway) with a direct shot to Key Largo, especially where the Florida Turnpike ends and turns into Hwy 1 S. There are also new hotels on Campbell Drive close to Exit 2 off the Turnpike, not much further to drive. Homestead/Florida City has the distinction of sitting between two National Parks; the famous Everglades and Biscayne on the Southern Part of Biscayne Bay. There are other local attractions as well such as the unique Coral Castle, Monkey Jungle, the charming Cauley Square, the Speedway of course that has different events throughout the year, the picturesque Schnebly Winery and Brewery that uses exotic fruits, etc.,. For those who want something a bit different in lodging, the Everglades International Hostel (www.evergladeshostel.com) might have rooms.

The drive to and from the city limits of Key Largo is 30 minutes give or take, but it is only a two-lane road most of the way, so being behind a slow mover can lengthen the time. It’s a lovely drive though as waterfowl wheel or perch and you move in and out of views of the water. Immersing yourself in Key Largo or the Upper Keys when diving Key Largo does make sense, but Homestead/Florida City may be a viable choice depending on your personal situation.


Special March Event……

 Cover Orchids 300 (480x640)My first novel, Orchids in the Snow, will always have a special place in my heart. For those who have read it, bear with me for a moment. The book, set at Barksdale Air Forces Base in the early 1980s, centers around Air Force wife and mother Andrea Randall as she faces a year alone when her husband takes a remote assignment. Their son is a B-52 pilot like his father and their daughter is a freshman at college. The potentially boring year takes an unexpected turn as Andrea becomes socially involved with a group of younger officers and a newly arrived Air Force civilian divorcee. Like their son, these women and men are in an Air Force that is changing and as the year progresses, Andrea begins to reflect on the unwritten rules she has always accepted without question.  Orchids in the Snow is indeed, “A book for any woman who has ever wondered if she has made the right choices for her life.”

Orchids is no longer in publication, nor is it in e-book, but I have copies that I have been looking to give to women who have an association with the military (family member, veteran, or civilian employee) and I simply haven’t been able to make the timing work. So I decided to stage a special event in Homestead to make it happen. http://charliehudson.net/military-tribute-event.html

On Wednesday, March 13, 2013 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. I will be at the Town Hall Museum in Homestead (41 N. Krome Ave) and I am inviting women to join me to get a free autographed copy of Orchids. The offer is for any woman with any association with the military – wife, “military brat”, veteran, etc., What I would really like to see is women make an afternoon of it and have lunch somewhere in Homestead (maybe near the musuem) and then come get a book, or come later to get a book and then go for coffee/Happy Hour. Make it an all-museum afternoon and stop by the Pioneer Museum on Krome Avenue in Florida City.

Now yes, I know many women work in structured jobs and can’t do this, but I’ll find another venue to take care of them.

Disappearing Days….

That is how it feels sometimes, isn’t it, when you jam a day completely full? So many people lead such hectic lives that you can look around and think, “My Lord, where did the day go?” Well, there are many ways to phrase that question of course, but I do try to keep the blog PG-13 rated. In my case, the past three days have fallen into that category, but it was actually a domino effect. Events scheduled for yesterday caused me to do extra work Sunday and Monday in preparation and then unexpected actions from yesterday spilled over into today. I may, or may not, be able to get back on track by the time I have to pop out for a networking event.

I am however, closing in on getting all the tax information gathered which unfortuantely is only step one, albeit a major step. For all you freelancers out there, perhaps you are more diligent than I at recording things. Actually, I am better than I ued to be, although there is still ample room for improvement. No, we don’t do our taxes – haven’t for years and while I do have great respect for tax prep software, you can reach a point with extra complicating factors as we did, and you decide it’s worth paying someone else to deal with it. That brings to mind a friend who was getting his degree in accounting. I aked what he was planning to do after graduating and he said, “Go to work for the IRS.” I was suprised, but his explanation made sense. Working for a few years in the IRS tends to increase one’s marketability in the private sector. Okay, that I can understand.

So, folks out there – where are you in the process of getting your taxes ready?



Brown Pelicans….

Pelican4Okay, I am a sucker for brown pelicans. I’ve loved them ever since we had the beach house in Nags Head. I know I’d seen them prior to that, but it was walking along those beaches, sitting on the deck, or dining at one of the waterfront restaurants on the Outer Banks when I really came to admire them. Interestingly, you don’t see brown pelicans in the Pacific and when I inquired about this to a biologist who was guiding a tour of some small island, he said that despite their beauty in soaring, they aren’t long distance fliers. Therefore, as populous as they may be along the Southeast Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean, you don’t find them in the Pacific. Now, that was some time ago and considering the globalization of so many other things, perhaps that, too, has changed.

Anyway, we’ve seen a significant increase of brown pelicans in Key Largo and while I’m not certain of the reason, I am glad about it. Unlike the larger white pelican of my home state of Louisiana, the brown pelican is a bit smaller and I think more graceful. Watching them fly in formation is another enjoyable sight and when one of them goes into a dive, you simply have to stop whatever you’re doing and watch. On a few occasions, we’ve seen a flock working a school of fish and that’s definitely a sight. Imagine a V of brown pelicans cruising along for a distance, then one or two dives from the formation into the water, then up and more dive down in a constant up-and-down motion until the flock, and presumedly the school of fish, moves beyond vision. Naturally I had to put them into Irises to Ashes and any other book where they fit. I do hope that our increased population is not temporary, but if so, then I will enjoy them for as long as I can.

Brown Pelicans at Big Chill in Key Largo

Brown Pelicans at Big Chill in Key Largo

Postponing Valentine’s Day….

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

No, not officially. Well, I mean not for the rest of the planet and we do have a chilled bottle of champagne in the refrigerator. It’s just that we have two nights out planned next week as follow-on to a couple of radio spots that I’ll be doing, and we enjoy both the restaurants where the live broadcasts will be.

The original plan for today was to pop up to Fresh Market, the new store I mentioned in an earlier post, have lunch at one of our favorite places, then shop for the ingredients for a great dinner, and dine poolside this evening. That was a good idea, but a business obligation came up on my end and my husband has a new underwater housing for his camera that came in and he needs to drive up to Fort Lauderdale to get that. Not trying to make ourselves into crazy people doing everything in one day and “sliding” Valentine’s Day to next Thursday to coincide with that radio broadcast makes more sense. One of the nice things when you’ve been married this long is that you can be somewhat flexible with birthdays, anniversaries, etc,. That, of course, does not mean postponing because you’ve forgotten one of the important dates.

Interestingly, on my way to a breakfast meeting this morning, the DJ said there was a survey where many married couples and those in long term relationships felt they started taking each other for granted within 3.5 years. So, for the record, us postponing dinner out is a matter of mutally agreed practicality and definitely not because we are taking each other for granted.


Making a Difference….

Alert!, there is religious content in this post. Those who follow the blog know that I skirt politics and religion. However, there are times when social or cultural aspects “flow” into one of those areas and this is such a time.

Last weekend we went to St Petersburg for a combined business and pleasure trip, although in actuality even the “business” was quite pleasant. Friday night we met up with friends and were introduced to the delightful Gulfport restaurant/shopping section and had a wonderful discussion about maritime history and diving that will be the subject of a future post.

Saturday, I left husband at the hotel on whatever part of the Bay that was, to relax while I drove north to Largo. The Christ the King Lutheran Church in Largo has established a partnership with the Christian Outreach Center (COC) that: “Under the leadership of John and Brenda Grampsas, the “C.O.C.” is dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with children and their families in Pinellas County. Children develop a positive relationship with adults who care for them and ultimately with Jesus Christ as their Savior. The programs consist of a meal, game time, music, movie with popcorn, a Bible lesson told using puppets, skits and/or audio visuals, object lessons to reinforce the message”. (http://ctklc.org/about/christian-outreach-center)

The major fundraiser that they hold each year is a luncheon and quilt auction and that’s what I became involved in through a rather circuitous manner. With my entry into writing the American Quilter’s Society’s new line of books, the Helen Crowder Adventure Series, I am absorbing quilting information and attending this luncheon and auction gave me access to around 300 quilters. The day was, simply put, a lot of fun. I met some delightful women, saw incredible quilts, learned a number of things, and the positive energy in the room was uplifting. Brenda, as the main organizer and auctioneer, definitely had help and although I know from experience how much work these events are, it seemed to run smoothly. There were quilting clubs as well as individual quilters, crafters, and I suppose just regular people there for the fundraiser. Teens and perhaps adolescents who are in the COC helped serve the meal and I imagine helped with set-up and clean-up, and you couldn’t have asked for more polite, outgoing assistants. I don’t know how it was behind the scenes, but from a casual observer’s perecptive, the “kids” were great.

The fundraising part was successful, too, and if I attend next year, I’ll plan to bid on one of those lovely quilts they had available. I know, I know, I should have taken photos.

Checking Out St Pete………

Well, I suppose I should call this sort of checking out St Pete. We have intended to come over to the Gulf side to St Petersburg for four or fives years now. We have friends who live here and even though it’s only a 4.5 hour drive, it’s just one of those things where something always intereferes. However, in the “small world” category, as the release date for Small Town Lies draws near, a friend mentioned the book to her sister who was planning to attend a quilting event. Her sister lives north of St Pete, and each year there is a large quilters’ luncheon and auction as a fundraiser for a charity the group supports. The sister spoke with the lady who is in charge of the event and I was subsequently invited to come and meet everyone. Since we are past the days when we like to make a 10 hour round trip drive (we can still do it, but choose not to), the logical thing was to see if our friends would be in town and make a weekend of it. While one couple was not, one was and voila!, we were all set.

There was, in fact, another set of friends who were “somewhere in the area”, but I wasn’t entirely sure where and  when I sent the email inquiring, it turned out they are in the same town as our other friends. That was a pleasant surprise. In actuality, both sets of friends are in Gulfport, one of the many towns clustered around St Pete. The short trip did not leave time for seeing many of the local sites, but the hotel is on the water and we did gain a better understanding of the area. I can not only recommend it as a destination – we do plan to come back.



The Household Sports Trough……

This is not an issue for me, but is written in sympathy for my husband. Other than for March Madness, he is not a basketball fan, doesn’t care for hockey, soccer, or golf. With the Superbowl over and NASCAR almost two weeks away, we now officially enter the annual sports trough between the two sports. It may be that the Rolex car series has started again and perhaps Indy, but I don’t think so. It isn’t that my husband has to have sports, more that it’s disconcerting for him to not have the weekend ritual of watching. He does follow a number of drivers and racing personalities on Twitter and therefore gets updates about important news.

I’m a little unclear about this although I guess NASCAR has a “new car” coming out this season that is supposed to have a potential impact and that has created a fair amount of chatter. I gather that will provide discussion for shows leading up to Daytona when the new car will be unveiled. And yes, if I have this completely muddled, all ardent NASCAR fans may correct me. I do, understand, however, that the Daytona 500 which is the first race of the season doesn’t occur until 24 February, but there are all sorts of other NASCAR events that lead up to that. It’s basically the same thing as all the coverage leading up to the Superbowl.

This coming weekend will be quite busy for us though as we pop over to St Petersburg for a combination business and pleasure trip. That should provide entertainment and will carry us through the “trough”. By the way, my sympathies if I have any die-hard San Francisco 49ers fans among my readers.

A Gem For Dive Historians….

The Bauer Library Collection at the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada, FL

The Bauer Library Collection at the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada, FL

I’ve written before about the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada and my total admiration for Dr. Sally Bauer who founded the museum with her husband, Joe. The couple, who initially hadn’t planned to amass the huge collection of historical diving equipment and material that they did, were able to realize their dream of seeing the museum open. Sadly, Joe passed away soon after that, yet Sally has not only continued with the effort, she has gained well-deserved international recognition for her work. And as important as establishing the museum has been, there was always the intent to create a world-class research repository.

And so it is that the Reserach Library with the Bauer Library Collection is coming up on it’s one-year anniversary. The library is co-located in the multi-purpose room where beautiful custom-built bookcases line the walls, a special drawer case is set up for prints and other flat documents, and the requisite library ladder allows access to volumes that are high over head. The rare book section includes the oldest volume from 1534, a book that provides a treatise on warfare than mentions diving. (http://www.divingmuseum.org/wp/eventsandeducation/research-library/).

Records of man’s attempts to exist underwater date back 4,000 years and much of that history, in either original or academic form, is now availalble to read about thanks to the Bauers. The complete “Proceedings of Royal Society” where Sir Edmund Halley gives his personal account of entering the water in 1716 in the diving bell he invented is among the 2500 volumes and other material in the library. Naturally there is a first edition of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and so much more. Viewing of the collection tucked safely in the bookcases is open to everyone and use of the library is free to Museum members and there is a small fee for non-members. It is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in the history of diving specifically, but also overlaps into numerous other areas of maritime, engineering, and scientific history. On-site research can be arranged by calling, emailing, or writing to the musuem. That’s History of Diving Museum 82990 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL 33036; Telephone 305-664-9737; Email: info@divingmuseum.org