About The Latest Gap….

Ah, the ripple effect of things. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I’m involved in a lot of community work between writing for the local paper and other. Let us just say the past few days has been a bit of a scramble with the impact of rescheduling and trying to decide about rescheduling events. There was also a personal situation (nothing bad) we had to deal with that became more complicated than necessary. It all worked out, but took extra effort to do so. In other words, I have fallen behind with a post. While neither Hubby nor I have any health issues to make us vulnerable to the situation, we do of course sympathize with those who do. Like most people, we hope things stabilize as soon as possible. When that will be is of course unknown at this point.

Our trip to see the kids in the D.C. area will have to be rescheduled and we’re waiting to hear if the proposed June date for the performance is a “go”. That will actually work better for us than a possible May one, but we’ll adjust to whatever. The April scuba gathering has been cancelled and I haven’t checked yet to see what the refund situation is as trying to plan for something in 2021 tends to be a little out of my usual time horizon.

Aside from the health impact, I feel the most keenly for the economic hit, not on the stock market as that always eventually recovers. Employees suddenly out of work is a different matter. Even with the government stepping in to help, that is never a quick process. Plus, disaster funds are available, but in general, only certain parts of the country will be affected for any given disaster. This obviously has a much wider impact. We shall all have to see how this plays out.

Invasive or Adapted Species…..

One of my cousins lives in Texas and she and her husband go on a cruise about every year. They sometimes leave out of Fort Lauderdale and will usually spend the night there before flying out the next morning. Since they dock in the morning, I try to go up and have  lunch and a catch-up talk. Back when we set this up for yesterday, my calendar wasn’t nearly as jammed as it turned out to be. Anyway, I went up and couldn’t spend as long as before, but we did get about 2.5 hours together. They were on what I think is referred to as the Western Caribbean itinerary and no, they weren’t concerned about germs. They did say there was plenty of had sanitizers available on the ship. I’m going blank on which cruise line although it was one of the smaller ships. That’s a relative term since at a 2,500 capacity, I know numerous towns with a smaller population.

At some point we were talking about invasive species we have like the terrible python above ground and the destructive lionfish underwater. That led to wondering about iguanas which as it turns out are not native to Florida. They have adapted well though and aren’t really considered “invasive” in the sense of being harmful. Well, except when they get into chomping up favorite plants and things like that. My cousins mentioned monkeys on St Kitts. Again, they were originally brought to the island and now flourish with the same kind of issue if how much food they consume begins to impact farmers. The brown tree snake was something guarded against in Hawaii as it decimates bird populations when it takes hold. That was a case where they were able to train dogs to detect them around ships and airports which were the most likely points of entrance.

Plants are the same as with some species that adapt to a new environment while adding benefit rather than harm. Many Asian fruits are now being grown here such as dragon fruit which so far seems to welcome.

Cosmetics and Me…..

First, I apologize to everyone who makes a living in the cosmetic industry since I contribute very little to their financial stability. I was not always this way of course. For those who are of an age and grew up in the Deep South, one would no more consider leaving the house without make-up than one who go out with their hair in curlers. (Not sure how many other regions that applied to). There were certain religious groups that prohibited cosmetics, cutting hair, etc.,.but of all the restrictions in being raised Southern Baptist, those were not among them. As an aside, I worked when I was in college, mostly at the local Rexall drugstore behind the fountain. The senior sales lady (lovely woman) told me and the younger sales lady that if we never did anything else, to be sure and start using moisturizer. With my budget, that was Noxzema for a long time, but I was faithful in application.

I have mentioned before when I entered the Army, it was as the Women’s Army Corps was being phased out. As WACs, 90%-plus served in administrative positions (Nurses were in the Army Nurse Corps) and make-up was expected – understated of course – only pale pink and beige nail polish. Once we were transferred into the mainstream Army though, and in my case being in the field of maintenance, make-up on the job became sort of a hassle, especially when we had Physical Fitness Training (PT) early three mornings a week. Make-up is not practical for warm-up exercises, then a run. So, three days a week would mean carrying the stuff with me, applying it after showering and then depending on what I was doing, I was outside or in an office with no air conditioning most of the day. Not to mention also wearing camouflage. Applying only moisturizer and lip balm was a lot easier. By the time I went back into more administrative jobs (switched back and forth for many years), it had just become a habit not to bother with it.

Yes, I do keep a few basics on hand for when I have to have a new head shot done, but that isn’t often. Now, in all fairness, every time I have a candid photo put on Facebook, I do see how “stark” I look compared to those who are more inclined to make the effort. Then again, I think about how much time I save and decide it’s a better choice for me.

 

Stirring More Memories…..

I did an interview last month for the first time in a while. It’s a niche magazine someone referred me to. (http://voyagemia.com/interview/meet-charlie-charlotte-hudson-charlie-hudson-writes-homestead/?fbclid=IwAR1wsIV1PChdlwrK9DzTU61B5f8KBczTM6zlfwnnGAlrCzXxtO89jR9YQTI)

Yes, I know it’s a long link, but I didn’t do a  shortcut. Anyway, they had a couple of interesting questions about did good luck play a part in my careers and did I encounter bad luck? As I said to them, I think everyone has a mix of both. (I won’t go into the tragedy part most of us face at some point or the other). As I have posted before, the path I wound up on in the Army was certainly not one I expected. Had I not been the first female officer assigned to my unit in Germany, I would not have been placed in the position that I was; a position that then led to other “female firsts”. For a time, I thought I wasn’t performing to the level I should have been and come to find out, I was beating everyone’s expectations. To be clear that was, “Yes, she makes a lot of mistakes, but never the same one twice.” It wasn’t that I had been put into the higher level position in order to “try” me; it was they simply weren’t sure what to do with me. The lessons I learned there provided a stronger foundation for what I would go on to do later. On the “bad luck” side, in my very next assignment, I was once again placed in a difficult position and three of my four senior officers were quite frankly enough to cause me to want to resign as soon as my service obligation was over. My direct boss was fortunately the exception. Within about four months though, the other three left in the normal way these things happen and all three that came in were the opposite side of the coin. While one was a bit of a screamer, I was used to that. They were all the kind of officers one could look up to and learn from.

A Week of Back to Backs….

This is one of those weeks when I won’t say scheduling got away from me, but not everything was on the calendar at the time we set up an artist reception for tonight. That will of course be followed by dinner with friends. Yes, the afternoon meeting for tomorrow was also on the schedule. What wasn’t was the short event last evening and the dinner, then Celtic Group performance at the theatre tomorrow night and attending the City Eco Fair Saturday afternoon. Granted, the performance and the Eco Fair were on someone’s calendar; I just didn’t realize we would be adding them to ours.

Both things will be enjoyable; having them all run so close together is not my preference though. The first week of March and the first week of April will be similar. Sigh! This is what happens when one is involved with multiple groups. Everyone has their own events and if one wishes to have individuals from Group X support one we are involved with, it is only reasonable for that group to expect us to then support their event. A high degree of mathematical ability is not required to figure how quickly it adds up. Throw in the events to cover for the newspaper and the count increases. At least for me this week it was only one. Hubby just got tagged though to do an extra photo shoot tomorrow which of course now means we have to juggle transportation to keep from winding up with having two cars at the theatre. It’s manageable, although inconvenient. There is also the matter of me wearing my theatre clothes to the meeting tomorrow afternoon as I won’t be coming home in between events and I don’t wish to carry a change of clothes. Ah well, at this point there is certainly no way we find ourselves running the risk of getting bored.

“Hey Mom, My Arm Is In A Cast”….

Mixed content ahead. A passage periodically goes around Facebook with something like, “I survived riding in the back of a pick-up truck, no bicycle helmet, playgrounds without rubber mats,” and several other instances of things kids raised in the 50s did as routine. My brother and three male cousins didn’t exactly have reserved spots in the Emergency Room, but they were frequent visitors. I’m not saying times haven’t changed and there aren’t some very real dangers out there we didn’t face as kids. On the other hand, ordinary kid activities do sometimes come with the risk of accidents that will range from the “band-aid and kiss” solution to the trip to the ER.

Son was not quite seven years old when that call came as he was in Maine with his grandparents. They had installed a swing set in the yard and as happens, using the swing set as it is intended apparently wasn’t quite adventurous enough one afternoon. Why not instead climb out to grasp the top rail and swing back and forth like an acrobat? The break wasn’t too bad; actually a chipped elbow. That was in the day of plaster casts and at least it was his left arm. No complications either. (Of the later trips to the ER, three were far more serious, although none the result of an accident.)

Active kids are likely at some point to get hurt and medical emergencies do occur. In truth, I can’t recall if the lingering scar on my sister’s forehead had been the result of stitches or if that was a case where maybe stitches should have been required. For sure, the cut on one of my fingers was a borderline situation, but neither of us were anywhere nearly as accident-prone as my brother. Anyway, granddaughter is proving to be a bit on the daring side. It is possible all will go without incident. The day may come though when the call is, “Hey Grandma and Grandpa, my arm is in a cast.”

 

Opening Acts…….

Lynyrd Skynyrd, BruceSpringsteen, and Steely Dan are among famous musicians who were once opening acts for others. Most of course don’t go on to be mega stars, but can be quite successful in their own right. Thursday, we attended the Seminole Theatre performance of Asleep at the Wheel as part of the Showcase Season. Neither of us had heard of Brennen Leigh and Hubby now has one of her CDs. Songwriter, guitar player, mandolin player, and singer, she is a two-time Texas Music Awards Best Female Vocalist and 2018 Ameripolitan Music Honky Tonk Award winner. She pairs with different people and last night was Melissa Carper who was on bass; not something you often see women play. She performs primarily with the Buffalo Gals Band and their debut album, “Brand New Old Time Songs”, came in at Number 2 on the European Americana charts in 2018. Both women have toured nationally and internationally and began their music careers fairly young. As the opening act, they provided a thoroughly entertainment stretch of music and I suspect we weren’t the only ones who purchased a CD.

Although the main show, Asleep at the Wheel, is not the kind of music for everyone, they have been around since 1970. Ray Benson, the only original member still with the band, was in fine form and the drummer, David Sanger, has thirty-five years with them. Western Swing is a combination of elements of American blues, swing and traditional fiddling even though I don’t have enough of a music background to identify how much of each element is involved. On the other hand, I don’t need to know. I’m sure that of almost 250 people in the audience, some could explain it in detail. For the rest of us, it was just a fun, lively show.

We don’t usually attend two performances in the same month, but we have been told Derina Harvey and her Celtic rock group are quite good, so we shall see about that one.

Small Town Quilting Treasures is Ready….

After a much longer lapse than I intended, the final book in the series has gone live. I don’t have the first chapter posted to my website yet, but will take care of that later this week. Since this does close out the series, I included some chapters/scenes to help resolve different situations with some of the recurring characters. The two main plot lines are a mix of pure fiction for the one introduced in Chapter 3 and the second one is much later in Chapter 19. That’s the one that has a kernel of family history (mine) very much wrapped in fiction. I’ll be happy to explain that later if anyone wants to know the “true story” after reading it. There is a slight pang with saying good-bye to Helen, her friends, and family and I do hope everyone enjoys the way in which I chose to end things.

I used a different publisher this time (still self-published) so I should have my copies by the end of the week. As you can see, they did an excellent job with the cover and they were quite professional to work with. The only drawback is more of a requirement than before for me (which means my husband) to actually upload the final files. There was only one issue which we will (that means me) use as a “lesson learned” in case I go with them for the next Chris Green novel. The advantage was I am able to keep the paperback retail at $12 on Amazon; something I couldn’t initially do when I published Shades of Deception through the publisher I used for that. There are multiple considerations for selecting a publisher and I really wished the one I used for my previous four novels had still been available. But, it’s a tough business and there are frequent changes in the industry.

Oh, don’t try to read the text on the back; I couldn’t crop it for this image.

Much More Complicated Than Anticipated…..

We are continuing to check off certain improvements to the house. The whole house water filtration system is working nicely. The next part was replacing the front door and the outside lights. For those who don’t live in Miami-Dade County, replacing a front door is quite a process. This is due to code reference being hurricane resistant. The cost is of course far greater than an ordinary door and thanks to the architecture of the house, these are custom which also increases the cost. This was not a personal choice as all the houses were designed this way by the builder. While they do look nice, it’s not something we would have included.

Anyway, I had no idea the installation was as complicated as it has turned out to be. It has to do with re-drilling the holes for all the hinges and apparently the bottom plate where the door closes has to be fixed into mortar. This, also unknown to me, involves tearing out all the existing wood and rebuilding it. I suppose I should have gotten a hint when the first thing they did this morning was drape plastics over all the furniture. My idea they would be finished and gone by around noon is obviously not remotely accurate, although they do seem to be working as quickly as they can. The other good thing is once this is done it ought to last a very long time. It’s somewhat like getting the new fence. If you pay the extra for the higher grade, it should not require replacement for the foreseeable future. Granted, this does also assume the whole issue of a hurricane doesn’t alter everything. As a reminder, the county did face up to reality after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in that building codes were out of date and not properly enforced. This is why our county and Monroe (covers the Florida Keys) now have the most restrictive wind-storm codes in the country.

Girl Scout Cookies…..

Ah yes, each January – and this is the part I find puzzling – we have the Girl Scout tradition of massive cookie sales taking place in the exact same month where there are leftover sweets from the holidays and many people are at least trying to cut back on calories. Now, in all fairness, some people don’t need to cut back and if one has lots of kids/teens to provide snacks for, this takes care of that and supports a worthy cause. We, of course, are in a position where it’s simply one more charitable contribution as I actually take possession of usually only two boxes. The rest is, “No, I don’t need more cookies, but here’s the $5.” I suppose I have now answered my own question as to why sales continue to be strong. It is indeed a tradition people still appreciate.

I do admit I was startled to see the upcoming (or maybe it aired and we missed it) Girl Scout Cookie Baking Competition. I am always amazed at the culinary artistry of most of the decorative baking competitions and from the trailers I’ve seen, this will be quite creative. I’m not certain of what the rules are and if there are extra points for incorporating as many of the kinds of cookies as possible. Which leads me to the next aspect. Even though I tend toward the time-honored favorites of Thin Mints, Shortbread, and Do-Si-Dos (for Hubby), the lemon are tempting and I nearly caved at the sight of Toffee-tastic and Caramel Chocolate Chip when I was at the grocery yesterday. There are some other new ones, too, and as a former logistician, I do wonder a bit. I haven’t spoken with the dedicated parents who do this year-after-year about how they manage the increasing number of choices. Anyway, I’ll see if I hold off for another week or if at least one more box will make its way into the pantry.