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.

The Dilemma of Doing The Right Thing…..

Sort of musing here. In continuing with watching old episodes of the TV series, “Northern Exposure”, yesterday’s main plot depicted in two different scenarios was about doing the right thing. In one case it was acknowledging being bested in what would have been a lucrative business deal and the other was temptation to cheat on income tax. There were of course the usual rationalizations about why it wasn’t really cheating even though the “savvy” businessman was certain he had included a provision in the deal that would benefit him in the future at the expense of the other individual. After all, that was just smart business. The fact the other individual slipped in a different provision far more in his favor was – well, that was “unfair”. On the tax side, hey, the government gets plenty of our money and it was a small amount in question they would never know about. In both situations, the right choice was ultimately made at a financial cost to the individuals, plus a severe blow to the pride of the wealthier businessman.

The expression exists that, “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking”, and sounds good in principle. Let’s take traffic violations as a simple example though. An individual is behind someone driving 5 miles per hour under the posted speed limit and no way to pass. The slow driver is in fact obeying the law. And yet, the odds are the individual behind will be irritated going into anger depending on how long the situation lasts. Well, “everyone” knows the posted limit isn’t really the limit. And yes, drivers stopped are often let off with a warning depending on the circumstances and the officer involved. In many cases, unless it’s something like a school zone and it is less than 5 miles an hour over, a stop won’t even occur. One logical reason is speedometers can vary, and in reality, if there is no sign of other careless driving, an officer does “look the other way”. On the other hand, that doesn’t always work out and once the ticket is issued and the fine (often hefty)  paid, there is usually great indignation on the part of the ticketed driver.

Dueling Perspectives….

I posted previously about the movie, “Ford Vs Ferrari”, and how enjoyable it was. I actually have four favorites scenes; all of which emphasize the juxtaposition of independent sports car builder Carroll Shelby and the corporate aspect of collaborating with Ford. In the movie, Lee Iacocca, who is responsible for Ford bringing the Mustang to the American people, is prominently featured in several places. The feud that grew up between Ford and Ferrari lasted longer than indicated in the movie, but Hollywood versions often compress timelines for the sake of “flow”.

So, skipping forward. I have also explained how I have insomnia and many mornings as I can’t get back to sleep, I fix a cup of chamomile tea and read non-fiction (book or magazine) as I drink my tea. I took out “Iacocca: An Autobiography” written by him and William Novak. It was published in 1984 which is of course after he was at Chrysler. (This is one of the books Hubby had when we merged households.) I started the chapter about the Mustang a couple of nights ago and was genuinely surprised. There was a great deal about how the car was developed, questions surrounding the decisions, and the wild success for several years. There was not, however, any mention of the drawn-out acrimony with Ferrari or of the momentous Le Mans races. A complete slice of American automobile history he was very much a part of, was completely excluded. Now, I am only part way through the book and perhaps he comes around to it later. Or, perhaps in view of him ultimately being fired from the top ranks of Ford, he chose not to include this highlight of Henry Ford II. Perhaps for some odd reason, he didn’t view this with the same reverence as many automobile enthusiasts.  Maybe there is an autobiography of Carroll Shelby I can read one of these days and see what he has to say.

New Experience…..

Okay, when I offered to take friend up for a medical appointment/procedure, I forgot there would be a major bureaucratic angle. Well, not forget as much as not think of. So, first sunny Florida is not so much today; although it may be clearing as I write this. At least I didn’t have to drive during rush hour and we’ll see what happens on the return. We get in and get parked and now we discover the restriction on no family or friends with the patient is still very much in place. Oh, and the usual nice waiting areas are no longer available. I did bring the notebook computer anticipating a long wait. What I did not expect was the wait would be outside where chairs – not what one would call comfortable – and a couple of tables are. No access to the cafeteria, but there are small bottles of water in a chiller. No outlet and I’m not sure how long the charge on the computer will last. I should be able to make it at least through this post. I did also charge up my little recharger for the phone in case I need to resort to that. Since the table I’m sitting at is wet and I don’t have many tissues in my bag, I could only wipe off a portion and can’t get my mouse out. This little notebook is a bit tricky with using the cursor. I’ll have to be careful not to inadvertently delete items as I type. Anyway, it’s working for now and that’s what matters. I found it interesting that even though we had our masks on, they handed us new ones. I suppose that does make sense from their perspective. After all, they don’t know where ours have been, how often they are washed, etc.

The next issue will be when I am supposed to go join my friend as she has never been to this place before and the other times I have been were in other parts of the very large building. At this point I am outside on the ground floor and she is upstairs somewhere on the second floor. Added to that, she may have more than one procedure and I don’t know if that will be in the same area. As I said in the title; a new experience. Close out; the rain held off for a while, we did reconnect and there will be a follow-up appointment at a later date.

On the other hand, despite rain all the way back. there was a late lunch – well, more like a Happy Hour that included wine.

Am Amusing Memory…..

A comment from a friend triggered another memory from many, many years ago. I’ve explained how I was what I call “an inadvertent pioneer” during my Army career and that I was part of the Army Ordnance Corps by basically an odd set of circumstances. In case you didn’t read that post, that was the maintenance side of the Ordnance Corps. My initial official category was as a “Tank, Ground Mobility Material Management Officer”. Anyway, after leaving Fort McCellan, AL where they put us through what was essentially a Basic Course, I went to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD for two separate courses. The Ordnance Officers Basic Course was where all of us were together. That was three months; then those who were in Ammunition, Missile Maintenance, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal went off to other locations for the second part of training. That meant I was at Aberdeen for six months. The staff (called a cadre) obviously got to know us well in that amount of time.

Our post office boxes were in the same building as the company headquarters and so the cadre (who were all Captains and Majors) often crossed paths with us between training sessions. One of my girlfriends and I were standing outside the building talking on a day with quite a few clouds and it was just starting to sprinkle. We were almost through with our conversation and one of the cadre hurried past to get into the building. We saluted smartly and he turned as he was under the overhang and said in tone between amusement and exasperation, “You two do realize don’t you, they say second lieutenants don’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.”

There really wasn’t much we could say in response, so merely saluted again and didn’t get too wet as we finished talking.

Undersea at Jules Again….

I did a post back when a girlfriend won a lunch-time session at Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo. It was a fun and interesting experience. For those who may be new to the blog, Jules Lagoon is the only place in Key Largo where the open water part of scuba classes can be taught when weather keeps boats off the reefs. (https://jul.com/) It’s actually a complex with multiple segments/functions and the “Underwater Hotel” was originally a research habitat in Puerto Rico. The only way to access it is to dive and enter by the “Moon Pool”. You carry everything you need to change into in water proof bags and yes, that’s how meals are delivered.

The “Hotel” itself was closed during COVID although the lagoon stayed open for training purposes with the same kind of protocols as were used for other outdoor venues. As with many places forced to close, they used the time to make improvements and/or come up with ideas for changes once they re-opened. Hubby went down a few weeks ago to take photos and get an update on the plans. He’s written the article for the paper and it will run sometime soon.

One point discussed was whether to continue to bill it as a “hotel” or try to market it instead as a “habitat”. Even though you do have to dive to get to it, for someone only interested in the novelty of the idea, spending a single day and night will probably provide as much novelty as desired. The public area is nicely set up with small kitchen, dining table, couches, TV complete with DVD player and WiFi. There are snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, too. Naturally, there are wide windows to look out into the lagoon. For someone considering a Habitat stay though, they might want to do something like cataloging all the marine life they see over a couple of days. The shallow depth allows for extended dive time and night diving is especially easy. Different creatures are nocturnal and that makes an interesting addition. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of night diving, but Jules would be an exception.

On the other hand, I don’t actually expect us to go do this since Hubby has to dive there so often.

New Sauce for Fish….

Even though fish is not a particularly Memorial Day topic (unless it’s a crawfish/crab/shrimp boil or lobster/clam bake)  I thought I’d posted this already. I also am not hung up on fish dishes; it’s merely that Hubby once again brought home fillets not really suited for grilling. I intended to do the Everglades sauce we like and when I turned the package over there was a recipe on back that we both agreed sounded really good. It does include pork though as it is a Chorizo and Tomato Sauce. Incredibly simple and I’m sure a chicken or turkey sausage could be substituted.

Okay, for two 6-8 ounce fillets of any firm white fish, season the fish on both sides with your favorite seasoning and set them aside. Take 4 ounces chorizo, chopped; 1 shallot minced (or equivalent amount of red onion); 1 medium to large tomato, chopped; 1-2 Tbs capers depending on your taste; 2 tsps Italian seasoning; 1/4 cup white wine or chicken/seafood/vegetable stock; 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat skillet to medium; brown the chorizo for approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan, but leave the fat. Turn heat to medium low. Cook shallot until soft; 3-4 minutes; add tomato and cook another 3-4 minutes. Thoroughly stir in chorizo, capers, seasoning, and wine or broth. Nestle fillets within the sauce and cover the skillet. Check at 6 minutes to see if done. If not, cook 2-3 more minutes. You may need to add a little more wine or broth.

This is a nice flavor profile and doesn’t take long, plus it’s one-dish cooking. Once you’re comfortable with the recipe, you can adjust the level of spiciness or play around with different types of seasoning.

Transitioning Stages of Careers…..

Last night we had a few friends over to watch as our son was with Bowen McCauley Dance Company (www.bmdg.org) at the Kennedy Center. For those who might be new to this blog, many years ago when we discovered our son had a deep passion and talent for dance, we went through a questioning time about the difficulty of supporting an adult child to pursue a career that was not financially viable. Since that’s not the point of this post, I’ll get to the bottom line of him with the performing company and also with the Fairfax Center for Ballet Arts where our daughter-in-law also works part time.

The dance world was of course hugely impacted with COVID-19 closures and restrictions as were so many other areas. While they were able to do some virtual things and able to tap into some of the relief funding, last year’s season was upended. This year’s (which began in September) was adapted to virtual performances as they added in as much other as they could each time certain restrictions were lifted. What no one outside the Board of Directors knew though was the founder, Lucy Bowen-McCauley, had previously planned to set the company on a path to close at the completion of their 25th year, as in 2021. The impact of COVID meant what would have been a fairly spectacular closing “farewell season” had to be significantly scaled back. The performance last night was the first time for the company to return to a major stage as they danced live to a very restricted audience, but it was broadcast live over YouTube. Hubby did the research and we picked up an HDMI cable to connect the laptop to the big TV. In the interview part before the performance, Lucy explained about the final season and what she would still be engaged with. After the first number, she brought our son and one of the female dancers onto the stage in tribute. They are the senior members of the company; he for sixteen years and her for fifteen. In one sense, it’s the usual of, “How can sixteen years have passed?”. For all of us who have marked significant transitions in our lives, we know how it works. I think I posted previously that we are going up for the final performance and gala in September.

Those Quirky Episodes….

In re-watching the entire “Northern Exposure” series, there were of course many episodes we did not see originally and others I only vaguely recalled. One of the main characters, Chris Stevens, played by John Corbett, is the town DJ, philosopher,  and minister mostly for events as he obtained his “license” after  answering an ad in the magazine Rolling Stones. Growing up in what was in essence a lawless family in West Virginia, he spent part of a sentence for grand theft auto (really more a joy ride) and discovered literature leading him to determine to never break the law again. Leaving was the logical thing to do and with little money and a used Harley, he eventually made his way to Cicely, Alaska where he was by no means the only individual seeking a new life. Unlike some, he did shed his considerable baggage and often is able to bring a perspective when someone is faced with angst. At other times, he delves too deeply into certain sensations or metaphysical wondering and is pulled out by those around him. The other day an episode was about a close friend of his who died and shipped his body to Chris for final burial. Go along with the improbability because that’s part of the charm of the show.

Chris and his friend Tulley had promised to do this for each other, but hadn’t been specific about final choice. Although no one in town knew Tulley, they all gathered at the church in support of Chris and as he attempted to do a more-or-less traditional service, he halted in the middle, realizing this wasn’t right for the kind of man his friend had been. There were multiple discussions after as to cremation, etc., with Chris unable to decide. Naturally, there were “conversations” with the dead friend as well. Dr. Fleischman did finally point out having a dead body in a casket, even embalmed, hanging around for multiple days was problematic. In the end, another town character sat alone with Chris as he was lying in the grave he’d dug, trying to “evoke a sense” of what was the right thing. The other friend was able to get Chris to see that letting go was his real reluctance. In the end, the town gathered again, this time at the edge of the river. Chris had the coffin rigged to a trebuchet  (type of catapult) he built for another quirky episode and he launched it high aloft to land in the river where his friend would have one final adventure courtesy of Chris.

Again, not that dumping dead bodies in a river is advised, but it was a fitting way to say good-bye.

Biking for a Cause…

As I think I’ve previously explained, Hubby moved from just helping with photography with our weekly community paper to being a photojournalist. He’s enjoying it and yesterday he attended an event at the Veterans for Foreign Wars (VFW) post where a check was presented to Rick Fit, a cyclist riding from New Orleans to Key West to Washington D.C., to raise awareness about homeless veterans. The full story will be in next week’s paper. The VFW held a Spaghetti Dinner on Sunday and raised a little over $1,000 for the cause.

Mr. Fit served in the Army for only a short while due to a medical condition that permanently disqualified him from continuing in service. As with certain other conditions, it did not preclude him from many types of employment or activities, yet was not compatible with the physical rigors of military requirements. He later became friends with veterans who suffered PTSD and became aware of the high correlation of PTSD and veteran homelessness. He lives in Louisiana and started looking into the issue more, and began to do things like create backpacks filled with items to distribute to homeless vets and help get them linked in with organizations that had resources available. After the premature death of one of the friends, both of whom spent time in Florida, Rick decided on this cycle venture. His original intent was to make it up to Philadelphia where the other friend lives. Others who support him in his efforts urged him to stop in Washington, D.C. to help add his voice and experiences to members of Congress and groups who are also engaged in veteran homeless actions. One of the things he mentioned to my husband during the interview is how giving people have been during this time in helping him make the journey.

Art Show Two Ways…..

Many people reading this blog are already familiar with me being in Homestead Center for the Arts. If someone is new, our situation is we lost all our art galleries in the Real Estate Bust that started in 2008. We held onto a couple and then they relocated as well. We then partnered first with the Capri Restaurant and their Gallery Room to do exhibits about every three months, then one other restaurant which unfortunately didn’t survive the COVID-19 closures. There is also a City of Homestead Artist in the Spotlight program that uses the extensive wall space in the Seminole Theatre and our artists are often featured.

Anyway, our very talented volunteer Ellen Reese suggested we try Facebook Live for one Capri exhibit since we had not been able to hold receptions during COVID. It worked fairly well and even though we had our first in-person Meet the Artist reception Thursday (May 15th) for the exhibit, “Birds”, Ellen suggested we do another Facebook Live show 30 minutes before the in-person. Other than we didn’t appropriately take into account background noise as some people came early, it went well. We had three of our artists on camera and I gave a quick bit about each artist for the others. We would have had two more on camera, but a heavy rain storm blew through delaying them. They did arrive for the in-person portion so that was the most important thing. This format is allowing a greater reach, especially as we have a number of artists in Kendall and Miami and the drive down can be a real pain at times. I think we’ll maintain this and see if our reach continues to increase.

The two pieces shown here are Hubby’s photo of three white pelicans in the Everglades (we usually see only the brown ones), and a parrot by Ada Catala done in a technique of “piecing”. It is what it sounds like of doing a collage with tiny pieces of paper. Most of our artists have a page in our Gallery at https://homesteadcenterdorthearts.com

Two Pieces HCA “Birds”Exhibit at Capri Restaurant May 2021