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.

Another TV Series……

A friend recommended the TV series “Yellowstone”, but our tastes don’t always mesh. I watch DVDs when I work out on the stationary recumbent bike and decided to give it a try. I don’t recall which cable network it airs on and we don’t have a streaming service, so I can’t advise that part. Kevin Costner is the main “name” and character – John Dutton – father of four Dutton adult children and fourth or fifth generation to own the sprawling Yellowstone Ranch. It’s actually filmed in Utah although it’s “Montana” on the TV. This is very much an adult series with complex characters, violence, some occasional nudity, and constant profanity. The cinematography is breath taking and the music is great. An advantage of watching the DVDs is the behind the story segments. The sense of authenticity brought to screen is because all the actors do go through “cowboy camp”. There are lots of horses in every episode and often cattle. Anyone who has lived in cowboy country understands the portrayal.

As for intricate plot and sub-plots, they can be difficult to keep up with. In one telling scene between the Governor and the soon-to-retire Attorney General, she says of John Dutton, “He still thinks it’s the 80’s when no one is looking over our shoulders.” A new Chairman of the Indian Tribe, a developer wanting to build, others seeking to carve away part or all of a legacy they deem as, “too much for one man to own”. The shifting of stances, the intense dysfunction within the Dutton family, the readiness to use violence to achieve a purpose and few characters who are not flawed. Layers are peeled away slowly and steps that seem to go forward take periodic turns. Like many dramas these days, this one can provoke thought and conversation. The casting, acting, writing, and production are all well executed.

Back When I Was Going To Be A Lawyer……

As I’ve previously explained, me going into the Army was supposed to have been for only two years to allow me to then use the G.I. Bill to help pay for law school. I would have then entered the family law practice with my grandfather and uncle. As I also mentioned, even though I stayed in the Army 22 years, my two cousins did carry on the family tradition. However, of all the pre-law classes I took, my actual favorite was Constitutional Law. This was back in the day before computers of course so there was a particularly difficult aspect to deal with. Aside from reading the Constitution, the class is devoted to reading and understanding the impact of Supreme Court cases. To do so, you read huge volumes of material and write a subsequent “brief” to answer specific questions about the specific case chosen during the course. I don’t know how they teach it now with the availability of the internet and computers, but at the time the brief was to be typed single space.

If you follow the blog you also know I spent what would have been my senior year of high school in France instead. Now, even though I was on the college track, I had already figured out knowing how to type would be a useful skill and I planned to take the class as a senior. Since that did not occur, here I was in Con Law – that being the time of manual typewriters – with zero typing skills. Reading through and comprehending the legal arguments, opinions – both majority and dissenting – and ultimate rulings was laborious. Typing the briefs was painful. It was, however, the most fascinating of my classes and why I have such respect for the Constitution. The changes within the Court itself is another factor that was important to understand and discussed during the semester.

The Value of Controlled Burns…..

If this is a topic you’re interested in, a longer explanation is in the article I wrote in February as Hubby had a great time taking photos.(http://www.southdadenewsleader.com/news/fire-benefits-the-parks/article_17ea9962-4913-11ea-9026-2b599f2e6e26.html)

Daddy was a forester for many years, although he didn’t start with the Louisiana Forestry Commission until I was maybe six. That particular job was running a pine tree nursery which was pretty cool to see as a kid. I don’t recall how many acres, but there were thousands – perhaps tens of  thousands of seedlings planted. They were harvested at different stages of maturity for reforestation. After that was the move to Natchitoches where we stayed from when I in the latter part of the fourth grade into college. I may have previously posted about the house we lived in. It was small, but functional and provided by the Forestry Commission as it was on the property. The head guy chose to live in a larger private house instead. Having acres of pine seedlings was one thing, having a 120-foot fire tower next to you was something different.

Anyway, the purpose of towers is of course to keep watch, especially during “fire season”. That was generally summer with dry conditions and winds. That part of Louisiana is heavily wooded, particularly with pine, and between carelessness (never mind the year of an arsonist) and lightening strikes there were always fires. The point is, during the rest of the year, there would be controlled burns planned and executed to clear out undergrowth and dead trees. The reason is straightforward. Both of those forest elements function as “tinder” when set ablaze. The greater the amount, the larger the fire which then spreads to mature trees. The “controlled” burn is exactly what it sounds like. Firefighters and equipment are set up to ignite and manage a burn in one section before moving to another. (Sectioning allows time for the forest creatures to move out of the way). There are strict rules to follow as to how large an area is to be burned at any one time and the other major factor is wind. Burns are not initiated when the wind is above a certain level. Once a burn is completed, it takes a short period for new growth to begin.

No October Trip to Louisiana…

For the first time in years, I have not made my annual trip to be in Louisiana for Daddy’s birthday. Actually, there have been a few times I’ve adjusted and gone a bit earlier and a few times later to do Christmas instead. In any case, there has always been at least one trip. For those who follow the blog, I do daily posts (connectivity permitting) while I’m on the road of friends and relatives seen, memories stirred, enjoying catfish and other local favorites. For a while I had hoped perhaps things would work out this year. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before Daddy is in an assisted living facility that is small and basic, yet nice with a good staff. A couple of months ago they started allowing “front porch” visits and my sister and brother-in-law went over. When I go to visit I spend the entire day with him, so restricting myself to something like that didn’t seem to be practical.

Last week we received word from one of my step-sisters that two of the residents had tested positive for COVID as had a couple of the staff. The residents were moved to another facility, the staff quarantined, and everyone else tested negative. Needless to say, visits have once again been curtailed. I did talk to Daddy briefly the day before his birthday (96 this year) and he sounded as well as possible, still fairly oblivious to what is really going on. That’s probably good under the circumstances. I don’t know if I’ll try to arrange a spring trip if the situation allows it and like everyone else, will adapt to whatever the circumstances are in the new year.  We are on track to travel to the D.C. area later this month for our son’s birthday and hopefully nothing will interfere with that.

Buying a Company…..

I’m closing in on completing the initial version of, “Idyllic Islands”, the latest in the Chris Green series. This brought to mind one of the intriguing things I learned during my first post-retirement career.

As I think I’ve posted before, when I retired in July 1995, Hubby agreed I should take some time off to write the novel as he checked into his Pentagon assignment. In the months that followed I learned the disappointing truth of an unpublished author with no contacts in the industry. However, like so very many retired military, there was no shortage of government contract work. Since we were financially in a position to do so I didn’t want to work for one of the Fortune 500s and therefore went with one of the mid-range small firms whose corporate culture aligned with my own. Originally established with husband and wife and either three or five other close friends, I was like the 150th employee when I was hired. (Their ultimate selling to a Fortune 500 is another subject). So, my direct boss and I used to have lunch together almost every day. As one of the first females (okay as the first female) who was a team leader, they had their eye to groom me to move up in the hierarchy. As I explained to my boss (and the others who asked me the same question), I wasn’t suited for what they had in mind for four reasons (not important here). On the other hand, I was happy to be a sounding board for my boss and learn how the company operated.

One day he mentioned the owners were planning to buy another company. Ah, not something I was familiar with. As it turns out, it’s a fascinating process and there are lots of variables depending on the companies involved. In short, if a company, like the one I was in, decides to move into a new area of expertise, it’s sometimes more cost-effective to buy an existing company with that expertise than to develop it in-house. The processes of acquisition and transition are also interesting, but topics for another post.

Another “Go” of Openings……

While there continues to be concerns in some quarters about a second round of virus, Florida has become fully open with restrictions. In living in the “hot zone county”, we will apparently also open as of this week; again with restrictions. Hubby was in at the local college campus as they have just opened the blended class option – part time in class, part on-line. A student he spoke with said he thinks a lot of the concern is because of so much contradictory information. There will always be some of that due to human nature. Sadly, in this case, there has been so much politicization injected, it muddies the waters even more than the usual professional differences of opinions.

Anyway, we shall have to see how this goes. There’s what will no doubt be a lengthy school board meeting tonight to determine which schools will phase in students being physically present. There were only one-third of parents who responded to the survey who wanted remote learning as the single option. For every child who can learn well that way and have a home conducive to the situatioin, it is a burden for many. Yes, tablets and other equipment were provided and the internet providers did help expand into parts of the community with connectivity issues. That, however, doesn’t resolve the situation where both parents have to work or perhaps are not good enough with computers to help if there is a problem, or where they live can’t accommodate having three children of different ages on line at the same time trying to take classes at three different levels.

From an entertainment perspective, bars and musicians have been hit hard and some haven’t qualified for much, if any, financial assistance. At this point, it’s difficult to know how well those sectors will recover.

Teaching The “Isms” and Other……

Another memory jogged by recent events. I’ve posted before about attending a small Louisiana university in the town where we lived. I think I also explained while I was a Prelaw major, that was dual listed as Political Science. One of the required courses for everyone, however, was a 101 course about the “Isms”, as in Capitalism, Communism, and Socialism. It was heavier on history and politics than economics since it was required for all students. An interesting aside was due to the small size of the departments, we had only three professors; one of whom was female, another was from Taiwan – back when it was Formosa. As you can imagine, the professor from Taiwan had a very personal view of how communism functions.

Anyway, the female professor was quite strict about everything. She was also a Marine Corps veteran which was highly unusual at that time. So many non-political science students tried to avoid her class if possible, the dean allegedly finally told her she could be as tough as she wanted with every class she taught except “Isms” because it was the only one required for all students. I was in fact the only female Prelaw/Political Science major at the time, so there was a connectivity. Once she heard I was taking ROTC and joining the Army, that did result in some more personal conversations that, in turn, gave some insight into her “fearsome reputation”. As so often happens, when you learn about someone’s past experiences, it impacts your perspective. She was indeed still quite demanding, but we got along well. A funny anecdote which will only be meaningful to those who are of certain age was the morning after the infamous Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, “Battle of the Sexes”, tennis match. The professor came in, settled her notes and looked around the room. “I think we’ll start today’s class talking about tennis,” was essentially what she said with a big smile. The guys did take it with appropriate good humor.

Trying Another Tech Thing……

In the closures due to COVID-19, the arts have been especially hard hit. Many “fell through the cracks” of eligibility/availability for financial assistance. There was a movement to virtual performances which has helped some. As anyone who follows this post knows, tech is not my thing. However, we were given limited grant funds for some events and we were becoming almost desperate as to how to get them done by the end of September. The Seminole Theatre did set up a Cyber Series and I reached out to their head tech guy who has his own production company. And so, we are trying something very unfamiliar for us.

A Facebook Live Event, “Highlighting Homestead Culture” will be on at 7:00 p.m. tonight, Sept 19th. That’s www.seminoletheatre.org/watchparty

This is in collaboration with Homestead Main Street and the Seminole Theatre. Part I is “The Spirit of Fiesta USA”. Part II includes the only true “live part” as a trio from the Mariachi Academy will perform, then be followed by video clips of the very popular Club Hipico horses and the Ballet Folklorico dancers. Part II will Homestead themed art images from a dozen of our artists scrolling set to music, then a segment with Dance Expressions.
In the closing remarks, everyone will be invited to come back at 7:00 p.m. Sat, Sept 26th for “MuSing On Art” which is dedicated only to music and art. That will also be through www.seminoletheatre.org/watchparty

“MuSing On Art” (Sept 26th) is a compilation of mostly classical pieces from previous MuSe events. Two images from each of our artists will scroll in a continuing loop during the music so art is displayed for most of the time music is playing (approximately 30 minutes). The images will then be displayed once more as the narrator speaks. Then there will be a short segment on Art For Good before closing. They are two wonderful women who do “Paint Parties” that they have also converted to virtual and  are very popular.

I’ll be at the Seminole Theatre from about 3:00-8:00 as I see if this will actually work.

The Benwood Wreck….

Some who follow the blog are familiar with the wreck of the Benwood as one of the artificial reefs in Key Largo. This is what is referred to as a “natural artificial” reef as opposed to a planned one. All shipwecks become artificial reefs since the coral polyps that move through the water don’t care what they affix to as long as the surface will support the beginning of the colony. The same is true for small fish seeking shelter – a shipwreck is no different to them than a series of rocks. The Benwood was a freighter during WW II and was running under blackout conditions as was required. Unfortunately when two vessels in close proximity are under blackout conditions, collisions can occur. They salvaged as much as possible, but couldn’t save the ship. As happens, with more than 70 years underwater, storms have also battered the wreckage and scattered it even more. However, there is a large section still together and lots of pieces, to include the anchor, spread around. It is a shallow wreck at only 30-42 feet deep. There is always plenty of marine life around, usually multiple schools of fish and you never know what else you’ll see.

In finally getting out to dive again, it didn’t disappoint the other day. Hubby didn’t want to jinx it, but apparently a few months ago a sea turtle took up residence. I haven’t seen a turtle in ages and sure enough he was on the wreck. He seems to be quite comfortable being around divers. He hung around for a while, surfaced for air, and then came back again. He passed right in front of us, not the least bit concerned. They are always fun to watch, especially when they linger. Another fish I hadn’t see in a long time was a puffer and they really do tend to dart off. This one though didn’t and I got a nice long look at it. A very pleasant dive on the Benwood.

This photo was taken some time ago, but they do rather all look alike.

Turtle in Key Largo. Photo by hubby, of course.

Ah, Now I See….

We were supposed to travel to the Washington, DC area in late March, but of course that was upended. We were holding off thinking the event might be rescheduled and that, too, is not going to happen. We decided, okay, we’ll go up toward the end of October for a short trip to celebrate son’s birthday. We hopefully still have our credit from the flight that was cancelled. Apparently I will have to do that with a human being so I went on-line to see what flights are available before trying to navigate the process. Was I in for a surprise. We generally fly in and out of National Airport although the kids live about the same distance from National and Dulles Airport. The difference in the past is the things we were doing with the kids while we there made it more practical to go in and out of National. This trip is the opposite and thus using Dulles makes more sense. Except I checked and there were no direct flights. Huh. Okay, that means adding in transport from National to Dulles or getting a rental car – hadn’t planned to, but that’s manageable.

Based on what I’ve heard from people who are flying, things are a bit crazy. I now understand. When I went on-line to check the flights to National I was shocked to see only two very early morning direct flights instead of the six per day there used to be. (If there are limited direct flights, that hour makes sense for when it gets someone to DC who is on business.) All other flights go through Charlotte or Dallas. Why one would leave Florida, fly to Dallas and turn around to go to Washington is a puzzler, but let’s leave for the moment. I don’t have the energy to deal with this today and so will tackle it next week. Sigh!