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.

So Many Ways To Miscommunicate…..

Serious content alert. Recent situations locally and certainly otherwise have brought to mind the class in Human Communications I took as part of my graduate work. Setting aside the potential for misunderstandings when speaking two actual different languages, the ability for people to get cross-ways over words is so common. For this post, I’m only going to focus on hearing the words “lie” and “liar” thrown out a lot.

People can have flawed memories of a conversation/event/something they read. People can literally hear/read something incorrectly. Two or more people can hear/read the same sentences/sentences and perceive what was said/written differently. In each situation, the listener/reader can be in error yet be convinced they are correct. The issue becomes when someone acts on that misunderstanding and is unwilling to acknowledge he/she could be mistaken.Reluctance to admit error also applies to the individual who may indeed have said/written something in a way open to multiple interpretations without realizing it.

None of the above scenarios include “lies”, but human nature being what it is, if something intense and emotional is involved, “That’s a lie or you’re a liar”, is often easier to say than to admit the possibility of personal mistake. Once those words are spoken, it tends to go in bad directions and it’s difficult to recover. Getting people to take deep breaths and step back from a situation is tricky. This is why having someone mediate can make a difference, although that isn’t always simple. Finding an individual who can objectively listen and effectively point out where miscommunication has occurred is only one factor. Steering/guiding the parties toward genuine understanding can be even more difficult.

In other cases, drawn-out discussions are not required. In the TV series, “Home Improvement”, the two brothers had become at odds over something. In the final part of the episode as they chuckled about it, the exchange was something like: “Glad we worked that out.” “Yeah, Jill [the wife] wanted us to talk about it.” “Nah, putting me in the headlock was better.”

The above example is not to make light of the topic. If you find yourself at the center of turmoil, look first to the possibility you may be in error. Then be willing to accept the other individual/individuals may be emotionally attached to their version and finding a way to “unhook” that is important. By the way, it doesn’t always work. Also, by the way, people most assuredly do often lie, but that’s the subject of other posts.

Separate, But Equal…

No, not the famous Supreme Court case. The reference is to my two different series of scuba-themed mysteries. I may have mentioned before I hadn’t intended to do a sequel to Shades of Murder, but one thing led to another. Nor did I intend for the character of Chris Green to be anything more than a great character I created for Shades of Truth. I can’t honestly recall when I started thinking about a spin-off series with her. I suppose it was because I had crafted the persona of Detective Bev Henderson in such a way that I wanted a character who was, shall we say – a bit “looser” in her views of life in general. Bev can be a bit judgmental and she won’t be traveling away from Verde Key.

When I wrote Deadly Doubloons, I wasn’t planning to do False Front and Georgina’s Grief back-to-back. It so happens the plot lines developed in my head and were more compatible with Chris than Bev. Then I certainly didn’t intend to get involved in the Small Town quilting series or the other non-fiction projects I did which ultimately caused Bev to languish for 11 years. In fact, I was startled when I looked one day and realized how long she’d been neglected. No, I don’t exactly think of them as real people; on the other hand, there is an element of that. I’ve been getting a fair amount of feedback about the murderer I developed for Shades of Deception, and yes, she is disturbing. It was an intriguing concept and I wasn’t sure how well it would work until I really got going with the story. The sequencing of events was rather tricky since four chapters in the first part of the book might not seem to be related until the reader approached a certain point. Not that those chapters were clues, per se, but instead wove a theme that came into focus later.

Getting Caught Up…..

Ah, I thought I was managing all my to-dos for my return and realized I missed a breakfast meeting on Thursday. That’s what I get for not putting something on my calendar once I schedule it. I suppose when the function exists to sync my calendar with making an appointment I should actually try that. I know a number of people who do so and they can seem to master it. On the other hand, as I have mentioned, I use a very limited number of the functions on my smart phone.

Anyway, if I can manage to get through tomorrow, things will be a little better. We’ve been struggling for over a year now to get the whole-house standby generator project completed – a process that should have taken about 4 months. I admit having Hurricane Irma thrown in last year was not the fault of the individuals who were part of the process. The constant delays at virtually every step, however, and more irritatingly, not keeping us advised of why there were delays were the source of our frustration. Ironically, with recent improvements to the power grid and underground wiring, we might never actually need the generator. In consideration of the high cost, that would seem to be a questionable decision, but it does provide a distinct degree of peace of mind. It also means we can look for a new home for the portable generator which does take up a fair amount of space in the garage. One load of old electronics did get carted to the appropriate disposal spot so that gives another couple of feet.

I do owe a follow-up email or two from my travels and I will get those done soon, although tomorrow is especially hectic. In fact, most of what I am doing today is because I simply can’t fit it all in tomorrow, even though I’ll be up early as usual. Ah well, it’s not as if this is the first time I’ve been super busy and I suspect it won’t be the last.

Home Again…..

Despite the travel with a lot of driving and what in the military we referred to as the “duffel bag drag”, of being in most of the locations for only one night, I did get to catch up with a lot of people. In two cases, I hadn’t seen the friend/friends for years so it was really nice. I have a fair amount to catch up on now that I am back. The next several days are jammed with meetings and tasks, but that was a known when I headed out on the trip.

For my last night one of my other high school friends and I had our traditional dinner at 2Johns Steak and Seafood in Bossier City. It’s a lovely restaurant in a somewhat unlikely location  which everyone has come to understand. Anyway, she recently celebrated her 65th birthday and the birth of her first grandchild on the same day which is quite convenient when you can manage that.

I took one of the early flights out of Shreveport and do greatly appreciate the people who open the snack bar at 4:30 a.m. I appreciate even more the fact whoever they have on duty always seems to be friendly and either a “morning person” or an accomplished actor. The free Wifi worked properly this time to allow me to clear out the numerous emails that I immediately or soon delete. We did have a hold on departure due to weather in Dallas and I was concerned about making the connecting flight. I had to walk quite rapidly and was grateful to be only three tram stops from my new gate. It was a smooth flight though and we landed a few minutes early. Hubby used the cell phone lot for the first time and it worked well.

Sept Trip, Day 7….

Travel up yesterday was in light rain for parts, but it stopped as I came into my destination. My sister had warned me Daddy was not interacting as much as in the past. While that was true, he is still cognizant of his surroundings, etc., which is a critical point to consider. I’ll be back with him most of today with a highlight of going to get the catfish and shrimp basket he enjoys for lunch. He hasn’t been comfortable in going out with the wheelchair for some time. Although it is manageable, it is a bit of a process and is much simpler for him for me to bring takeout.

I enjoyed dinner with another of my high school friends last night when she kindly drove up to join me. There are a couple of good Mexican restaurants and the one downtown has a fun atmosphere. Fortunately there was only one birthday party crowd because the staff Happy Birthday routine is a bit loud. On the other hand, the staff is friendly and attentive. In addition to their fresh made salsa, they make a smooth avocado cream dip rather than a classic guacamole. It is excellent. I had  chicken in a similar sauce with roasted onions and poblano peppers mixed in.

I’ll head over to stay closer to the airport this evening and meet my other high school friend for dinner at our favorite steak place.

Sept Trip, Day 6…..

I closed out the visit with friends with a pleasant brunch on the lake. In fact, another couple from their church joined us and I of course gave out book marks. The short drive to my aunt’s house was easy as always, paying close attention to the speed limit sign in going through a couple small towns on the way.

One of my cousins came in not long after I arrived, and her older sister came later. We had plenty to catch up on and my sister and her husband had been for a visit the latter part of July. This was the first time they’d been by for several years. Anyway, the house my aunt is in has been in the family for decades. My maternal grandparents bought in the 1930s. There have been updates over the years and the 80+ year-old tree by the driveway finally did enough damage to the concrete that it was recently taken down. The roots had been causing problems for quite some time and there was always the chance the tree would eventually fall during a storm. As large as it was, even if it fell “away” from the house, it could have been dangerous. It does look odd without the tree, but it was time.

In actuality, there are two houses in the sense the house next door has been occupied by some family member for as long as I can recall. My aunt and uncle were among the occupants before my grandparents passed away and they moved into their house. My cousin, the oldest daughter, and her husband live in it now. Of my five cousins in that group, there are three boys and two girls. The other daughter lives in town about ten minutes away. The oldest boy is maybe 20 minutes away on several acres near where my aunt grew up. They prefer the country life although both still work at their professional jobs. Anyway, it was a good visit and we are close as cousins.

Sept Trip, Day 5…..

The longest segment of driving for this trip managed to coincide with the threatened rain. Initially, it was merely annoying with the wipers on and off every little bit, although there were stretches with no precipitation. And when the intensity significantly increased, at least traffic wasn’t too bad, unlike one lengthy slowdown prior to that. In all fairness, as I hit the last hour of the drive and looked to the west at the even worse thunderheads with very visible lightning, I realized I would probably be okay if I could make the turn more south within about fifteen minutes. I was glad to see that mess in my rear view window as I drove away and finally did get sunshine after about 30 miles.

The friends I’m staying with have season tickets to our shared university and it was a home game. We’d already agreed I’d just come on to the house and my girlfriend checked in with me at half-time. I was safely ensconced at that point, glass of wine poured and full from having stopped for dinner at one of the local Mexican restaurants. It did make for a later night than usual for me, but the home team did also win which couldn’t be said for the prior week. We all caught up with the basics and we’ll be going to brunch at one of the lakeside restaurants when they return from Mass. It is overcast and possibly more rain today although the front is supposed to be clearing. The next leg of driving to see relatives on my mother’s side of the family is very short, so even if it is bothersome, it won’t take long.

Sept Trip, Day 4…..

The Missouri segment of the trip comes to a close as I leave in a while to head back down to Louisiana. The threatened rain never did really happen yesterday, although it was quite cloudy to include heavily overcast at times and it had rained in the early hours. We had some sprinkles, but nothing drastic. We did “girl stuff” as in going to a delightful little spot with all boutique and souvenir shops in a lovely setting. A Mel’s Hard Times Diner and the Sugar Leaf Café and Bakery were the two dining choices and my friend had already said we were going to Sugar Leaf. As it turns out though, there was also a dedicated retail tea shop, the Tea Maze. They don’t serve food, but you can have a cup of tea and it is a wonderful place if you are a tea lover. The young lady at the register was very knowledgeable and obviously passionate about teas. My friend, who is not a coffee-drinker, had a lengthy conversation and she will soon return.

The café/bakery was equally delightful and going at an off-time was the right idea. It isn’t very large either and was decorated in the way women tend to admire and guys are tolerant of. Not utterly “froo-froo”, but definitely leaning to “soft” décor. The sandwiches were excellent and we opted to get take-out desserts after we visited the final two shops we were interested in. The key lime pie was not something that struck me since I can have that on a daily basis at home. I did try a bite after dinner and it was good. There was also the coconut cake and the chocolate, caramel, and pecan “Turtle” cookie. Let’s just say watching my carb intake on this trip has not been high on the priority list.

 

Sept Trip, Day 3….

I have not yet been able to capture a photo of the numerous humming birds that come around the feeders on the balcony. Those little critters are very quick. Apparently, they will begin their migration within another week or so, but for now, they can be seen all over the complex. We went into Branson yesterday passing the many different attractions they have along Hwy 76. It is quite “touristy” and utterly fun for anyone who enjoys that sort of thing. We went to the Titanic museum which is quite well done. (www.titanicbranson.com) There is also one at Pigeon Forge in TN. The entry way to the building has the façade of the front half of Titanic complete with two funnels. The large model of Titanic is splendid and the artifacts are a mix of genuine Titanic items and White Star items planned for Titanic, but not recovered from the ship itself. The photographs and stories are also a mix of those who survived and those who perished. Staff members are in period costume and stationed at certain spots to emphasize selected points/stories.

To get to the second floor, you have the option of walking up a replica of the grand staircase or taking the elevator of course. In the one section upstairs where they have a section of a life boat and have dropped the AC considerably, you can dip your finger/hand into a container of water at 28 degrees and see how long you can hold it in there. I declined. In my case, having been to Belfast Titanic with Paul Louden-Brown, the official historian for the White Star Line, I had slightly different insights on certain aspects. However, as I said, it was well done. I would not have wanted to be in with a large crowd, but planning a trip when it isn’t peak times shouldn’t be that difficult.

We had lunch at a nearby 50s-type diner for an delicious burger although I did pass on the milkshake other than to have a couple of sips to agree it was quite tasty. The weather may be dicey today and a movie marathon on the 65-inch TV might be in order. We’ll see how that goes.

Sept Trip, Day 2….

The drive from Shreveport to Kimberling City on Table Rock Lake is about seven hours. Most of it is fairly easy driving until the last 80 or so miles when the road reduces to two lanes with lots of curves as you wind up into the Ozarks on the way toward Branson. Our friends have a lovely view of the lake from both floors and if it was daylight, I would probably be posting this from the balcony. Their guest bedroom arrangement is perfect for me because it is on the lower level while their master is above. There also happens to be a wet bar with a coffee maker down here which means I can rise at my usual 5-5:30, have coffee, and work my email/do posts without risking disturbing anyone else. And speaking of connectivity, the husband half of the couple gave me a hug and handed me the info for the wireless network. It is the world we live in these days.

So, my girlfriend and I went for a late lunch to a place that was a bit of a drive, but quite scenic. Table Rock Lake is huge and there are communities and marinas dotted all over it. There are over 43,000 acres to the lake and 500 miles of shoreline when you add them all up. Anyway, the restaurant specializes in catfish and broasted chicken. The obvious solution was to eat catfish there and bring home chicken. While not the best catfish I’ve ever had, it was definitely delicious and certainly worth the drive. As it turns out, they have opened another restaurant slightly closer at a marina and park (either State or part of the NPS) and we drove in to check it out. It will be open only part of the year, but won’t close for another couple of weeks. They have a machine with fish food you can buy, so the ducks, fish and even turtles are accustomed to having food thrown to them. The ducks and fish we expected – the turtles were a surprise.

We returned to do some more catching up, then enjoyed the sunset  view from their balcony. With quite a few clouds, it wasn’t as spectacular as they often get, but still some lovely colors as the clouds were tinged with pink and gold and the colors also reflect somewhat into the lake. We’ll see what the weather does today before we make a decision as to the excursion we plan.