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.

A Sports Weekend….

One of our “community support” activities Sunday was attend the ribbon cutting for the Homestead Football Club; the semi-pro soccer club we now have. What we didn’t know  was the Mayor also attended another “sports debut”. Here’s that part from his FB post. “This weekend saw a showcasing of two new athletic opportunities for the youth of our community.The LuMaDe Girls Beach Volleyball League held a public event at the sports complex following a day of tournament play among 15 teams. The gym at the former YMCA site is their “home field” and I am certain in the coming years, we will see some of these young ladies compete in the Olympics.” (Then he talked about the FC)

When he was telling us about volleyball while we waited to go onto the field for the Football Club ribbon cutting, I was reminded of school volleyball where at my height, playing the net was certainly not good. I was good at setting up though and could manage a decent serve. Soccer was not in our schools back then although I suppose they might have had it in other parts of the country. It was popular by the time Dustin came along, but the one time when I managed to get my act together and take him at maybe age five for open registration, it didn’t go well. It was one of those situations where he seemed to be maybe the only kid who hadn’t tried the game before and I wasn’t any help. He said he wasn’t interested in going back and I didn’t press him. When we moved to Maryland, he played Little League baseball for a while with his friends. Karate was what he took to later rather than team sports.

Anyway, having more sports opportunities for all ages is good and there is a plan to increase the number of soccer fields here as they can’t currently accommodate all the teams that want to play.

 

An Evening Remembering……..

For those who regularly follow the blog, I’ve written previous posts about the USS Spiegel Grove, the 610-foot Navy Ship (LSD Class) that for quite some time was the largest ever ship deliberately deployed as an artificial reef. It’s an amazing dive off Key Largo and brings divers from all over the world. On Sunday, Hubby was on a special dive where a plaque was installed on the ship. He was covering it for the paper although since Horizon Divers provided the boat, he would have been able to go anyway. It was one of those very special moments because everyone on board had either been directly involved in the project or has many, many dives on her.

Last night, May 17th, was a reception with a lot of artifacts on display and quite a few for auction from the History of Diving Museum who has a special exhibit up for the month of May. There was both a film and a slide presentation as well as a panel of seven individuals, who were significantly involved in the project. It was a bit of a long evening at two hours on a weeknight, but good to see so many people turn out. We had a chance to catch up with a few friends during the reception and while I didn’t learn much new from the panel and M.C./moderator, there were some insights I hadn’t heard before.

In my book, Islands in the Sand: An Introduction to Artificial Reefs in the U.S.A., I devoted a chapter to the Spiegel Grove and later, my friend Don Altemus asked me to co-author a photo book with his photos and my writing. Groupers and Gunmounts: Inside the USS Spiegel Grove was where I learned the story of the ship itself and met some more great people during the process. The History of Diving Museum carries the books.

Triple Booked Again…..

I genuinely do try to not schedule more than two events in a single day, but there are times when things converge. In the case of tomorrow, the third event popped up while we were on our trip and even if I had known prior to leaving I would have been committed anyway. The day will begin at 10:30 a.m. as the longest event (an annual one) I always cover in a dual role. It is somewhat related to Homestead Center for the Arts and I write the article for the paper. I will then dash home to change clothes to run by another annual event; Military Appreciation Day. Hubby is very much involved in that one and will be at the venue part of this afternoon for set-up and all day tomorrow through closing. The time on that means he can’t attend the third event which is part of the housing area we live in. That is close by though and I would ordinarily walk to it, but my plan is to drive because as soon as it’s over, I will go to Krab Kingz where I will order take-out for dinner.

Although we had discussed doing a slow cooker meal, the back-and-forth timing is likely to be a bit tricky, so carry-out will be easier and we haven’t had seafood yet this week. As I think I’ve mentioned before, we’ve had this “plus-up” of seafood places and the Krab Kingz is the one run by a very lovely couple who were the first in place. We have tried the other two which are more sit-down and therefore have a certain type of appeal. I do like to support Krab Kingz though and this will work out well.

Catch-up Time……

The trip back from Abita Springs went as smoothly as these things do with no rain, minimal construction, and the few accidents we saw didn’t affect the traffic flow on our side. We did call it quits after nine hours of driving and spent the night in Ocala. They have a couple of “motel clusters” although the only sit-down restaurant within walking distance where we were was a Cracker Barrel. A while back they started serving beer and wine although the choices are limited. Still, it works.  I had chicken fried steak and Hubby did a trout dish which I should have done myself considering everything else I’d been eating during the trip. Anyway, we did make it back Friday afternoon. I built in an extra day for being gone until Saturday since I wasn’t entirely sure how the trip would unfold between travel and tasks.

I managed to keep up with only minimal emails and am therefore spending much of the weekend catching up on the things I wasn’t able to handle before I left and a few I postponed as they came onto my “to-do” list during our absence. I did actually unpack the suitcase yesterday and start on laundry. That has been known to languish for as much as a week after a return.

While it is Mother’s Day, I think I’ve explained before we don’t go out for these occasions any longer as it tends to be rather crowded. Hubby picked up containers of lobster bisque which we will have as a starter, then he’ll grill the mahi at the same time I make the Everglades sauce we enjoy. Several months ago he started buying the frozen “crispy green beans” and later the carrot version. Since he had a rice dish last night we’ll probably do potatoes along with the beans in the oven for sides. We do still have a bottle of champagne in the fridge.

Texas Trip, Louisiana Side….

We said our goodbyes to sister and brother-in-law yesterday and drove east to Abita Springs. My brother and his wife lived a few miles from there previously, then to Mandeville and now back at what was her mother’s until recently. Her mother made it to a little over a hundred and one of the two brothers was determined she would be allowed to remain in her home. While they each did different things, a great deal of the care giving fell to sister-in-law and brother. Anyway, the place was in need of repairs and updating, most of which are now completed. They are mostly moved in and will turn more attention to preparing their house in Mandeville to be sold. We simply didn’t have the energy to make even the short drive to go see their place and will do so in the not too distant future.

On to Abita Springs, which is a small town a bit northwest of New Orleans that features two or three main things. The Springs are historic, another of those “out of the city” places people would travel to when the summer heat and humidity made New Orleans very oppressive. In the more modern time, it’s part of Tammany Trace, one of the “Rails to Trails” projects that cyclist, walkers, and even horse riders enjoy. (http://www.tammanytrace.org/) We appreciate such things, but for us, it being the home of Abita Brewery is more important. That was one of the beers Emeril Legassee made famous on one of his cooking shows as he would often serve it to guests. We were able to stay in the Abita Springs Hotel again, a two-minute walk from the Brew Pub. Brother and  sister-in-law came in – it’s like six minutes driving from their place – and we had a lovely dinner. All seafood of course with a “bucket” of fried catfish, shrimp, crawfish tails, crab ball, and yes hush puppies. Brother had a different shrimp dish and sister-in-law went with a redfish special that I thought Hubby would go for. The beer was of course excellent.

Texas Trip, Day 3……

Shoe shopping was successful in the sense I do now have two pair of closed toe and heel casual shoes for those times when I go to climates where such is necessary. They did not have as much selection as I hoped, but at their prices it was just as well. Lunch at Escalante followed; a local Mexican chain with excellent food and they make their guacamole fresh to order so you can leave out or add extra of any of the ingredients.They used to do a table-side production and stopped that during COVID.

Hubby and brother-in-law were of course back well before we were and we puttered around a bit in the afternoon before he went for a walk around the neighborhood. By the time I caught up on emails and a few tasks I couldn’t delay, I didn’t have time to walk since we planned an early dinner. The Saltgrass Steakhouse is only a couple of miles from where my sister lives. It too is a regional chain with good food and a fairly standard menu. They do a beer bread as a signature and the usual variety of steaks. My sirloin was cooked a perfect medium and the cognac pepper sauce I did for an add-on was quite good. Hubby opted for the T-bone, sister the small filet. Brother-in-law had the Cajun redfish which meant topped with a sauce that included a shrimp and couple of crawfish. I’m saving my seafood night for tonight when we are in Abita Springs. We’ll head out about 9:00 this morning.

Texas Trip, Day 2……

The second day of driving went as smoothly as these trips can. We were able to time looping around New Orleans and through Baton Rouge to avoid peak traffic. We didn’t encounter any rain and inevitable construction zones weren’t too bad. For anyone who has never been to Houston, it is like every major city. While we weren’t at peak time, there was lots of traffic and a few spots of slow with a little stop-and-go.

My sister actually lives in Bellaire which is an old established small town basically engulfed as Houston expanded. They have their own police force and I don’t know what all else is independent, but lots of mature trees – especially oaks are seen throughout the neighborhoods. My sister and her husband did like many and purchased a modest ranch house for the express purpose of tearing it down and building large to where there is limited yard compared to house. The original type houses are still around although the others are far more common.

Today will be spent with Hubby and brother-in-law going off on a couple of errands and my sister taking me to one of the last shoe shops in town that carries a variety of size 4.5’s. As I have posted before, I can generally wear a 5 in sandals (in the limited of those I can find), but it’s different for close-toe shoes. I am literally down to one pair of flats. The intent today is pick up a couple of pair and once I have a brand that fits, I can then order on-line as needed. We’ll do lunch somewhere, too and tonight we’re going to a nearby enjoyable steakhouse. It is Texas after all.

Texas Trip, Day 1……

This is the road trip we have to take to Houston to handle one part of my father’s estate. It’s a tight time of year to go, but there aren’t any better “windows” so I spent all last week trying to either complete extra tasks or arrange for them to hold until next week. Anyway, the itinerary is we departed yesterday and will arrive in Houston mid-afternoon or so. We take care of that piece of business Tuesday and head to Louisiana Wednesday to see my brother and his wife, then start back Thursday or Friday depending on a couple of factors.

The advantage to traveling on Sunday was skipping the big city traffic of not having to leave at 6:00 a.m. to miss Miami traffic and avoiding Orlando and Tallahassee traffic. There were some slow-downs on I-75 after leaving the turnpike, but nothing too bad. There were also stretches of rain in the same way. Not too prolonged and not too much of an impediment. With it being daylight savings time and crossing into Central time zone, Hubby felt like pushing on to Mobile. While we prefer to stay somewhere with a restaurant, when the industry moved away from that with Hampton Inns, Expresses, etc., that’s more difficult to find. The cluster of choices at this particular I-10 exit only has one motel next to a restaurant and it wasn’t one of our preferred brands. There was a Ruby Tuesdays a little over a mile away and since they closed the one we had in Homestead, that seemed a reasonable choice. Their salad bar is still good and I enjoyed one of the chicken dishes while Hubby had their bourbon glazed salmon. As I think I’ve mentioned in other posts, when we are on long road trip it’s strictly a fast food close to a gas station choice for lunches. Anyway, it was an 11-hour day and that used to be easier in our younger years. That puts us about seven hours for today.

Went Diving Finally……

I’m a day later than planned posting because things finally came together for me to do an afternoon dive yesterday. That makes three months in a row I missed and almost four. As I have explained, I often miss out Jan and Feb. March was difficult this year for several reasons; however, conditions were the best they have been in days with basically flat seas and no surge. Hubby was teaching four students who he will finish up today. I don’t recall where they were from, but they were all pleasant and seemed to be having a good time. Conditions underwater were nice even though visibility was a bit better on the first dive. Although there was nothing really special on the first dive, there were enough of “the usual suspects” to enjoy and I did find them a large trunk fish like the one in the photo.

On the second dive I found an arrow crab which I haven’t seen in ages. I wasn’t close enough to the students to get them back to see it and Hubby had them at a coral cluster where there were two anemones almost touching. That is unusual to have two so close together. Not long after, I spotted a medium size Southern stingray nestled into the sand. We were careful enough not to disturb it into swimming away and everyone got a good look. I did see all three types of angel fish on that dive, too with a queen angel making an appearance as I was finishing up my dive. The water temperature is headed in the right direction at 77 degrees. I was a little ambitious in wearing my 1 mil suit instead of the 3 mil though. I did have to do few loops swimming faster to take the chill off.

Of Cars and Trucks…..

A recent conversation reminded me of one of those amusing aspects when I was in the advanced stage of pregnancy. My first husband and I were solidly with him as a General Motors guy and me as Ford with Dodge close second. Now I actually had one of the first RX-7’s brought into Clarksville, TN when we married. That was because many of us singles had sports cars and while I would have gone for another Mustang; being a “first” with the RX-7 was too hard to resist. Anyway, my husband had a Corvette and I don’t recall how many he’d had prior to that. The point is a distinct lack of cargo space in either car and we did buy a house. With a house you have to do things and my husband was quite handy. That means hauling stuff like bags of mulch, etc., Being newly wed I surprised him when I sacrificed my RX-7 and swapped it out for a Chevy Silverado truck for him. While I didn’t derive any particular pleasure in driving the Corvette, he had it for the weekends.

As I think I’ve posted in the past, I became unexpectedly pregnant early in the marriage and that was all fine and good. I never had any sort of physical problems – no morning sickness or anything serious.  I did deal with the  minor issues like I couldn’t eat certain foods due to getting heartburn more easily. Anyone who is familiar with a Corvette knows it sits low and in the last part of my pregnancy my belly was of course much bigger and, I “carried the baby high”. (Note: wives’ tale said that meant it was a boy and that did turn out to be true). So, trying to get into and out of the Corvette became extremely difficult. Not that climbing in and out of the truck was much better, however, there was a handle on the door and the running board. So here I am at eight months pregnant now driving a big truck while my husband had his Corvette back. In truth, we knew we would need a family car (that was before they had extended cabs options to allow for a “back seat” in trucks). Not long before son made his appearance, my husband decided he did like having a truck and traded out the Corvette for a Buick Electra.