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.

Creatures of Habit…..

Many of us do get comfortable in our routines and habits. Yes, there are others that seem to approach all sorts of things spontaneously, and while I occasionally have such a moment, it’s very occasionally.

They finally opened a new Publix a bit closer to us than the regular one. It is a brand new building which is always nice and the employees seem to be enjoying it. Hubby went first although did avoid opening day. I ventured in for a few things last week and did actual shopping yesterday. The design and layout are different and so far, I am about 70% of understanding where things are. Aside from the fact yesterday was really busy for me, it does take longer to shop because of not knowing which aisle is which. Yes, there are signs, but now I have to stop and look and read them. In all the other Publix, the bakery and deli are close together and in this one, they are on opposite sides of the store. That completely alters the sequence which will be okay once I am accustomed to it. After spending at least fifteen minutes more than usual, I had enough to get us through a couple of days and figured one of us could go back for whatever I missed. In all fairness, we generally have to make at least one extra trip anyway for one reason or the other.

Stockage-wise, they do seem to have less of some things at this store, but for example, they have veal scallopini and that’s nice. I didn’t get any this week as I picked up lamb chops instead. The other change to get used to is more refrigerated units than refrigerated open sections. No doubt that saves on electricity, but again, the different set-up is throwing me off a bit. Ah well, I should be okay in another week or two.

Progress on New “Shades”…..

This is the longest gap I have had between books as Idyllic Islands was published in 2021. I’ve mentioned in a previous post I was struggling as I am writing Shades of Remorse, the fifth in the series with Police Detective Bev Henderson, from a triple Point of View rather than a dual as the others are. The reason I need to make this change is because while most of the action takes place in Verde Key, a critical event and character is in New Orleans and that character then arrives in Verde Key. I couldn’t find a way to realistically portray the character or events involving her only through the eyes of her aunt.

I have worked through most of the initial issues I had and am more comfortable with the way the story is flowing. I changed some of my approach as I certain elements I was going to include won’t synchronize as I thought. It’s all part of the process and I’m okay with that. I’ve also decided to introduce a new assistant medical examiner and I think fans will like her. So far, Kyle, Bev’s husband, isn’t as prominent as in previous books, but he may appear more in the later chapters. I’ll see how that fits. I still don’t have as much time to devote to it as I would like, but I do want to get it out this year. No earlier than fall and it might bump up against the holidays.

About Those Fundraisers…..

As I have previously posted, we are heavily involved in the community and there are – as everywhere – so many non-profits that do good work. They run the gamut from the internationals such as the Kiwanis with lots of members to the small, focused groups such as those who serve children and teens for specific purposes. In other cases, they are cultural in nature like our two museums. They all need constant donations and for the large, well-established ones who can afford grant writers and are networked into the big donors, they can bring in substantial sums. That still requires a lot of effort, but also results in noticeable results.

For others, it’s developing a smaller network, yet enough supporters to get by. I fall into both categories – not as a member of a major organization, but I do sponsor certain events as Charlie Hudson Writes and use those as a business expense. Sometimes it’s an ad, and other times a basket. In changing to the smaller side, in addition to whatever we personally contribute, I cover many of the organizations in the newspaper with the closing paragraph along the lines of, “There are many worth causes and this may be one that especially appeals to you.”

Because of holding events outside (sometimes covered, but open air) and the seasonal residents we have, Oct-May are the big fundraising months with every weekend (other than Thanksgiving and Christmas) where at least one event is held. Multiples are common. Big dinners and fishing tournaments are the most prevalent and of course a few golf tournaments. Apparently with the surge in popularity of Pickleball, tournaments for that, too, may be starting up. I suppose I should go watch a match some day just to see what the game actually is.

Those Far-Spaced Events….

I would imagine everyone was watching the eclipse for at least some point yesterday. One friend traveled to Texas to be with old friends, my grandniece is at Baylor which was in totality. Rest of her family is in Houston so they had a fair amount as well. The TV coverage was great as they were switched from location to location. I think I spent about an hour watching. There has been at least one in my lifetime and perhaps two. Who knows if we’ll be here for 2025 (2024?), but it’s feasible. I haven’t checked with the kids yet for what they did, although granddaughter is old enough that I’m sure they had class about it beforehand. I guess some places not accustomed to many visitors were somewhat (or completely) overwhelmed with people coming in and again, I guess for those who aren’t sure if they will ever see another one, it would be important to be part of it.

Now, a once-in-a-lifetime for us was crossing into the new millennium and that was pretty spectacular. Yes, all the worry and prep about Y2K turned out to be a non-problem, although being prepared did make sense. We were friends at our beach house in Nagshead. We had looked at traveling to somewhere exotic and even at several months out things were either already booked or prices jacked up so much we didn’t want to pay that much. We weren’t very concerned about the world coming to an end in 2012 and can’t say we did anything special for that one.

We probably won’t be around for the nation’s 300th either, but the 250th is just two years away. That should be a great Fourth of July celebration and no doubt, there are places already making their plans. Hmmm, now that I think about it, I might should be booking somewhere already. Well, the kids are likely to still be in the D.C. area which would be logical or another trip to Philadelphia.

Whirl of a Week…..

Well, I knew it was going to be busy and with four extra events/tasks thrown in, let’s just say I haven’t had much spare time since our return. Some if it is social though so it isn’t as if it’s all work. At the moment – and I will try to keep it that way – Saturday will not require me to go out to meet with anyone. I may have one semi-obligation and if that comes about it will be here at the house.

Lots of things for the two non-profits I am heavily involved with have been at the core of the week and then there were some lingering input needed to get the taxes off. We split it with me gathering all the initial data, then Hubby has to do the on-line input of many pages. This is like the third time since our tax guy has started using this system and therefore, it’s more familiar. The issue is now that many institutions don’t have to send tax documents until the end of February, there are always one or two that are later. And between holidays and the surge of people who come to dive Jan-early March, it is really difficult to get what we need done by the first week of March. I can’t recall the last year we didn’t put in for an extension. Ah well, it simply stretches things out.

We have another artist reception this evening and while I have attended the last few by myself because of Hubby’s schedule, this is one he really wants to attend. That means I go to my 5:00 and instead of going from that to the reception, I’ll come home instead, link in with Hubby after he has a quick shower, then back to the reception. Dinner after with friends though who also can’t make it until later which allows everything to align.

Back and Busy…..

Although we did leave the cold behind on Thursday, ironically temperatures went down a bit here as well. Not to where anything other than long sleeves were required which meant great improvement over sweaters and coats. The list of to-do’s I already had lined up for the week was added to yesterday and timing is going to be trickier than I expected next week. I have to shift a few things around and do some extra coordination.

Hubby did get enough groceries yesterday to carry us through the weekend and there were some lovely lamb chops. While we do enjoy lamb routinely, Easter is one of the times we like to specifically have it. Bothering with a traditional leg is not something we do after having tried it once. The meal was good; just more involved than marinating and throwing chops on the grill. I’ve posted before about how lamb was never anything we ate in the deep South because back when I was growing up, it simply wasn’t really available. All that has changed of course as even if you live in a place without a major grocery store, there is the internet option.

We’re having snapper with roasted tomato and tomatillo sauce tonight to balance out the extra red meat of the past few days. Hubby will spice up the black beans to go with rice and I’m still trying to make up a bit on the salad side. The kids always enjoyed ordering appetizers for dinner and that did not include one as a salad.

Anyway, Happy Easter to all who celebrate it.

PA Trip, Day Six…..

The rain did hold off to allow us to get into the Franklin Institute. The place is huge and even though we didn’t get to see the show wanted to at the Planetarium, we were there for around four hours. The big traveling exhibit was the Art of the Brick, the incredible exhibit by the guy who make art from Legos. He does 2d and 3d and some of his sculptures use up to 100,000+ Legos. Nathan Sawaya’s story and technique are amazing and the easiest way is to go to the artist’s website of https://www.brickartist.com/ I lost count of  the number of pieces in the exhibit and it was definitely far more elaborate than I anticipated.

We did luck out with rain that evening, too, as it cleared a bit and we did the short walk to Fado, another quintessential Irish pub the kids used to go to for special occasions when they lived there. It was Amelia’s first time of course. Having passed on Shepard’s pie in New York, that was what I did and Hubby and daughter-in-law had fish and chips. Son did Guinness Mac and Cheese with buffalo chicken and with a couple of appetizers and a huge soft pretzel, granddaughter basically passed on protein and grazed on all carbohydrates, once again leaving room for ice cream. It was Trivia night beginning at 8:00, so the place was packed as we made our way out. We’d been back at the hotel for maybe twenty minutes when the weather alert said rain would start again in fifteen minutes. Granddaughter decided she wanted one final adventure for the trip and they kids were going to take her to the big aquarium about twelve miles from Philly on Thursday.

 

PA Trip, Day 5…….

The Seaport Museum was nicely done with lots of exhibits, enough interaction for children to enjoy and the added option of touring an old steam vessel and WW II submarine. The exhibits are a combination of U.S./Navy history, history of ship building, the Delaware River and Bay and the ecological aspects. Granddaughter enjoys these kinds of things so the three hours we spent was pleasant. I did pass on the submarine part because as it turns out, some of the passages would have been difficult for my knees. I let everyone else do that and I went over to the next door Hilton where we were going to have lunch at the Anchor and Rope (I think that was the name).

I did have my Philly cheesesteak even though not from one of the famous places. It was good. Hubby had something different with grilled cheese with bacon and tomato and believe it or not, they have fancy deviled eggs as an appetizer. Not me of course, but the kids enjoyed them. It was after 3:00 when we returned to the hotel and were leaving again at 6:00 to meet our friends who came into the City. The Iron Hill Brewery was typical and good. With a lot of beef so far, I did do a lovely grilled salmon with onion jam and Hubby went straight for comfort with schnitzel as daughter-in-law did an artichoke flatbread and son went with burger. Granddaughter balances eating just enough – chicken tenders in this case – to warrant having ice cream for dessert. Son had flourless chocolate torte and daughter-in-law creme brulee. The rest of us did coffee, and it was good coffee.

 

 

PA Trip, Day 4…….

Still cold, but sunny until tomorrow. We waited late enough so getting out of NYC was pretty easy and the NJ Turnpike wasn’t bad. Getting into Center City of Philadelphia is like all big cities. Hotel is not as well kept up as some of their properties, although it is older and the staff is friendly. Parking is weird as it is a shared garage, and we didn’t know that for off-loading. Anyway, the kids arrived around 3:30 and we were all pretty tired. Since everyone was good for walking, we all went out for dinner.

Daughter-in-law picked the place, and I am blanking on the name. Nice menu, plus rotating beers on draft. Hubby and son had IPAs, I did chardonnay, and daughter-in-law Angry Orchard cider. Then it was crab cake and asparagus for me, seared scallops and asparagus risotto for Hubby, blackened chicken tortellini for daughter-in-law, chicken quesadilla for son (lots of extra stuff in it), and granddaughter went with the “breakfast all day” option of chocolate chip pancakes and bacon. As we were all full, coffee after and only one dessert of iced lemon pound cake (warmed) and vanilla ice cream part went to granddaughter.

Granddaughter and I went down to breakfast this morning while the “sleepyheads” stayed in. We’re off to the Seaport Museum later and then we’ll see. One adventure and lunch per day might be the plan for her. We can watch her though this afternoon and the kids can go out later.

PA Trip, Day 3……..

The rain did clear and the temperature stayed cold. Not much let-up there although it will be a little better. Wednesday is supposed to be more rain and we’ll probably have to switch plans for tomorrow in order to do the Franklin Institute on Wednesday instead. We’ll see. The drive in yesterday was pretty good and we finally figured out how to use the elevator. While that sounds strange, it is automated in a way that makes sense once you understand it. There are no floor buttons inside the car. You press the appropriate “band” of floors before getting on, tap your key card, then it tells you which elevator to get into. The floor is pre-programmed. And yes, if you make an error, you have to get out and start over. The elevators are fast though.

Anyway, we had a lovely lunch at The Playwright, an Irish Pub, a few minutes walk from the hotel. Hubby did Shepard’s pie and Guiness to be traditional and I had crab cakes and salad with the crab cakes done correctly. For all the good seafood we have in our area, no one makes good crab cakes, Dinner was to be the highlight and it did not disappoint.  There are five Wolfgang Steakhouse locations; the original a ten-minute ride away. With fifteen of us for dinner, it was a boisterous event and Richie arranged for it to be family-style. The seafood tower as starters had prawns, lobster, and lump crab, Then there were the salad and sliced beefsteak tomatoes with thick onion slices. The porterhouse steaks were sliced and three traditional sides served as well. The dessert tray was cheesecake, chocolate mousse pie, key lime pie, apple strudel, and mounds of whipped cream with sliced strawberries. We did beg off the “after party” which allegedly was going to be over with by midnight.

I think we’re having a quick breakfast with just four of us this morning, then back on the road to Philadelphia.