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.

October Trip Day 3….

I was actually expecting granddaughter to be knocking on our door by now (8:45 a.m.), but she did expend a lot of energy yesterday. Today’s plan is for the kids to have a “date day” as we take granddaughter to the Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles. That’s the reason for staying on this side of D.C. For those not familiar with it, the official name is the Smithsonian Institution Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The Air and Space Museum in D.C. has far more items than they can display and there are physical issues with being able to expand. Many years – okay, decades ago – there was the idea to build an annex out close to Dulles where a facility could be constructed to hold the famous SR-71 – the “Blackbird” supersonic spy plane and even a space shuttle. That was obviously a major effort. I don’t recall now when it opened, but the kids have visited it once and Hubby has wanted to for quite some time. There are of course restrictions now as to capacity, so tickets are issued for timed entries. We’re at 10:30 so no one had to rush around. Will report after.

Good exhibits even with a number of really cool ones closed because of COVID restrictions. Kept granddaughter’s attention for 1.5 hours and the trip through the museum shop was reasonable. In discussing potential careers like engineers, astronauts, etc., learned granddaughter’s intent is to be a vet so she can take care of puppies and llamas.

Moving on to next unexpected travel irritant. Turns out there is no housekeeping. Process is beds don’t get changed (not an issue as we take that option anyway when it’s only a few days), towels can be delivered when you ask for them as are other amenities. Trash is to be placed outside and is picked up. No actual cleaning provided until after checkout. In sorting through that logic, it would have been nice to have been informed of this on their website before booking or certainly as least when we checked in.

October Trip, Day 2…..

Okay, have philosophically accepted the drawbacks of very limited amenities. In the final frustration of the night the Italian place the front desk gave us a menu for did have a nice menu. Ordered pizza – usual Friday night fare. The 45 minute delivery time wasn’t an issue; at least until 1.5 hours passed. Call to the place assured Hubby it was out for delivery. By 9:00 (2.5 hours), I went to the front desk and explained the situation. The young lady did apologize and I selected two cold turkey club sandwiches and chips from the limited options available by that time. Who knows what happened to the pizza or what the guy told his boss. At least we had been planning to pay cash so there was no credit card charge. The sandwiches were good although hardly what had intended.

The weather is pleasant and we got a walk in this morning. Daughter-in-law and granddaughter arrived for us to visit a bit, let Grandpa give her the camera he’d bought. It is rated for up to 30 feet underwater so naturally it went with granddaughter and I when we headed to the pool. Since she didn’t have mask and fins there wasn’t much “swimming”, but almost an hour of playing around. We had the pool to ourselves which makes it nicer as not all adults enjoy sharing a pool with small children. At graduated depths to five feet, she can now stand in the 2.5 and 3 foot water with a little to spare. It was not what would call totally comfortable from a temperature perspective, but inside meant there was no wind which really helps.

Dinner at McCormick and Schmicks was the usual excellent meal with the complete package of ambiance, good food, service, and granddaughter hung in with no issues. The only drawback is the promised plummet in temperature was noticeable when we came out and headed to the parking garage. Ah well, no rain is forecast.

Day 1 Oct 2020 Trip….

In deciding to make the trip to the D.C. area for son’s 40th birthday (yeah, I know), I was aware of certain limitations in traveling. I’ve already posted about the surprise in discovering we couldn’t fly direct at any sort of reasonable time. I also knew we would have to pretty continuously be in masks. (10 hours as it turned out)

Now, traffic to the airport was like it used to be and I’m not going to complain about that. After all, we have access to the American Express Lounge which is a pleasant place. Except I forgot to ask the direct question and it’s closed. It would have been nice if they had posted a sign before we walked all the way down, then back past our original point to get to our gate. Okay, we get on the flight. And now we learn there will be no complimentary beverages, but hey why not have paid extra for those particular seats anyway. Our layover in Charlotte allowed plenty of time for a leisurely lunch with a couple of adult beverages. Except, the terminal our connecting flight was in has no such service and since Hubby is hauling my carry-on (no wheels) and his backpack, I’m not going to ask him to haul us back the 7+ minute walk to the other terminal. Okay, on the plus-side, the weather is good and no flight delays to this point. More to follow as we arrive.

Okay, a delay, but not too bad. Now for more frustration. We are at a hotel I will not name, but let us say it’s a nice one. So, the granddaughter was “cheated” out of the complex pool this summer due to COVID. The idea was we picked one of the three hotels in the correct location that has an indoor pool. We’re bringing the kids out tomorrow after they get off work to spend Sat and Sun night and we fly Monday morning. We will take possession of granddaughter Sunday to allow kids to have a “date day” – that also happens to be son’s actual birthday. Good plan. When I went onto the hotel website to see the restaurant, bar, and pool, there was a notice about some services might not be available. I of course immediately thought of the pool and called about that. I was assured that yes, it was open. However, knowing that things can change, I explained to the kids we would check on the pool when we arrived.

What I didn’t think to ask about was the restaurant and bar. Indeed, neither are open and by the way, there’s no ice either. Ah, and no glassware; plastic only. Shall we say, I was not happy to discover all this. Okay, Plan B. Call the Kiddo. When you come tomorrow, bring cooler, ice, bourbon and perhaps scotch. And yes, the pool is available.

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.