42 Comes Around…..

Not for me, of course as I’m well past that. Son’s birthday this year falls on a Tuesday, so they did celebrate on Sunday which is the only day they have off. They went to a winery where a friend recently had a wedding and were so impressed, they went back.

Forty-two was actually a momentous year for me as that was the year I retired from the Army. For those not familiar with how that goes, retirement from the military is minimum of 20 years and mandatory at 30 years. (There are exceptions to the 30, but case-by-case). Now in financial reality, the military pension for the most part is not something one can live on, however, it does provide a cushion to allow one to consider follow-on employment without the compensation aspect being the prime factor. (Making as much money as possible is still a consideration for many of course). So speaking of forty-two and follow-on employment, that was when Hubby was assigned to the Pentagon, something that happens eventually to most career officers. I’ve posted before about Hubby being wonderfully supportive of me in that he had urged me to write that novel I’d always intended and take the time I needed to do so. Notwithstanding our high hopes and the initial positive feedback I received from a respected agent, that did not translate into a deal as I have previously explained. Completing the novel (Orchids in the Snow if you are new to the blog) was an accomplishment though even without publication for quite a while. The other encouragement was from the few people I had read it as a small “focus group”. In  light of not being commercially published, I did go on after the new year (I was still 42) to enter the standard retired officer career of working for one of the “Alphabet Companies” – that’s a common reference to the many contractors that work predominantly with the government. As I have also previously posted, my wonderful husband would make dinner each evening and take care of many of the domestic tasks on the weekend so I could continue to write.

Burning of Kuwait….

In an interesting coincidence, I was involved last evening in a discussion of Desert Shield/Desert Storm with a guy who was “there” in a civilian capacity. There are multiple roles civilians fill during wartime. He was not part of our organization and I’m not entirely clear where all he was in addition to Kuwait City at whatever point that was. I’ve previously posted about the Desert Shield segment being from early August 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait to when the actual war began January 1991. Rapid deployment forces of selected units in all services deployed to Saudi Arabia immediately after the invasion to prevent incursion beyond Kuwait and to begin build-up to whatever action would ultimately be taken. There were continuing efforts to get Hussein to withdraw without armed response.

In addition to having seized the country and seized American and I think some allied civilians who were being held as hostages, he made it clear he would set oilfields on fire if his forces were attacked. Although I wasn’t part of the meeting, the Brigadier General in command of our unit (2d Corps Support Command) was either in the meeting or was told by his boss, the Lieutenant General in command of VII Corps, that when the Emir of Kuwait was reminded of this threat, his response was along these lines. “I can rebuild my country. I can’t if I don’t have my country.”

Most people don’t realize Hussein had also instructed large trenches to be dug in the oilfields and filled with oil. When Desert Storm (the actual offensive) was launched in the lightning speed that occurred, Hussein carried out his threat. More than 600 wells and the oil-filled trenches were set on fire. We were set up in the desert in Saudi Arabia at this point and I was in the trailer we were using for operations. Someone reported what had happened, but it was later in the morning before I stepped outside. We were at least 200 kilometers away and the sky was dark as if it was a total eclipse from the effect of the smoke. That lasted most of the day and lessening effect for us over the next few days. In and around the actual sites, it went on for months. It took from February until November to extinguish the last of the fires.

The guy we were talking with carries some of those photos on his I-pad.

Things That Pass….

Musings ahead alert. An incident recently occurred which brought to mind how no matter what one wishes or how one tries, there are times when certain things are no longer sustainable. This is hardly a new thought and has been rendered in story, song, and other arts for probably as long mankind has been able to acknowledge and express the sentiment. After all, most know Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, There is a time for everything”, if not through church lessons then the Byrds song of “Turn, Turn, Turn.”

Back a few years ago, a longstanding non-profit closed out as a combination of aging participants to where membership dwindled and a few other factors. I’ve posted before about family businesses that often don’t make it past the third generation. The house and property that was in my first husband’s family for I think seven generations was another example. We were supposed to eventually move there and carry on the tradition which we would then have passed to our son. In the “life happens”, it simply didn’t work out that way. The small law office my maternal grandfather established might not go into the fourth generation either; only time will tell. History comes in all forms with certain ancient places enduring to at least be remembered if no longer used. In far more modern applications, there are frequent struggles between “progress” or “economic benefit” that override a sense of history. There are multiple cable TV series of individuals and organizations that seek to preserve or restore places, buildings, or items that have been neglected or abandoned. In other cases, there is merely documentation of something that will be allowed to deteriorate to the point of no longer being recognizable.

There can be a sadness in losing what once was, yet sustaining something of historical value/legacy requires resources of usually funding and effort that aren’t always available.



Might Not Have Mattered……

Another memory triggered of a very long time ago; a time when “you don’t know what you don’t know”, that might or might not have made a difference in my chosen career path. For reasons that are not clear, my older sister and younger brother were both excellent with math. I say “not clear” because neither of our parents nor any of our grandparents had an interest in math beyond the basics. I was fine up through then as well; straight A student in everything until algebra. Herein lies a significant point. We had junior high of 7-9th grades rather than middle school. There were two math teachers. The female teacher, and that was unusual in those days, and the male. My sister, who was two years ahead of me, had the female and she was of course glad to have a female student who embraced math. Now, even at that age, my sister knew she wanted to be a scientist and math was a building block/companion rather than an end to itself. By either coincidence or perhaps fate if one chooses to go at it from that angle, the science teacher at that time was also female. She very much took my sister on as a protege. As you have probably already surmised, I had the other math teacher who was one of those who didn’t expect students to like math. I was taken aback to suddenly have a subject I wasn’t good at and couldn’t seem to grasp. Turning to my sister was the natural thing and that was a situation where she couldn’t understand why I couldn’t understand and our “tutoring” did not go well. We come to the other part of, “it’s okay for girls not to do well in math and science”, and I  had straight A’s in everything else, was an avid reader, and already showing a desire to write. We knew nothing of different learning styles to realize that there can be more than  one approach to teaching a subject such as math. So, from 7th grade on, I followed the usual path of taking only minimum math through high school and college.

I liked the concept of engineering, but thought no more about it. On the other hand, while my brother easily did well in math, he briefly tried for electrical engineering to satisfy the parental urging for a “practical career”. His passion was theater and he dropped out, did a number of things for an extended time before he made it back to college; not in a math-focused way. So, when I see great engineering projects and feel a bit of a twinge, perhaps if I had help in conquering math, it might not have made a difference anyway.

Multi-generation Businesses……

Rumors had been swirling around that the local family-owned restaurant that’s been in business for 50+ years was going to be sold. Those of us who are regulars have known for a while it was more or less on the market. As often happens, the third generation of the family doesn’t want to continue. It is a “legacy” restaurant and the intent has always been for someone to agree to maintain that aspect, so there was no plan to just sell out. The current deal is still in the “process stage” and we’ll see what actually comes about.

The point to the blog goes back to what I’ve written about the next generation in a small business. In writing for the community paper, I’ve now encountered one family business with the fourth generation, several with three and more with two. A friend and I were discussing this the other day and she quoted, “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” I wasn’t familiar with that one and found this on-line: “from proverbial saying, early 20th century; meaning that wealth gained in one generation will be lost by the third.” In the situation I’m talking about, it isn’t so much the loss of wealth (although that certainly does happen), but rather the loss of interest. In some cases, it’s because interests simply diverge; in others, it’s having “grown up in the business” and deciding it isn’t a fit. That’s what happened on my father’s side. Even though Papaw had the farm in good shape with the amount of land he handled and the acreage he leased out, none of the four sons wanted to follow in his footsteps. On my mother’s side, it was the opposite. I don’t recall if my uncle stepped into the law office before Papaw became a judge or as soon as he did. As I explained, I was supposed to be the third generation and when I stayed longer in the Army than I initially planned, my cousin joined the office. His younger sister did too for a while, then she followed the line of being a judge. In talking with her oldest daughter, now a lawyer, married to a lawyer, whether or not they choose to take it over remains to be seen. Moving back to the really small town where she grew up might not be  in the works.

Such A Long Gap……

I think things may be stabilizing a bit although that doesn’t mean less busy. Among the issues for the past week-plus was a potential problem that required two extra optometry visits. Let me start by saying I’ve been fortunate to have anything other than the occasional painful stye. I do spend a lot of time on the computer and right after Memorial Day I was experiencing what seemed to be shorter times between when I would need a break from looking at the screen and my left eye watering. I wasn’t experiencing any pain. I overdue my annual exam and took that as a sign. The optometrist I’ve seen for years has really cut back her time and I had the new doctor; a very pleasant young lady. They have the type of machines now where your eyes are scanned and photographed from all sorts of angles. Nothing unusual showed up and my prescription didn’t even need to be changed.  The doc gave me mild steroid eye drops for a week with a follow-up. The drops seemed to help and when I returned, she did notice a small cyst in my lower left lid, although I was still not experiencing pain. However, that’s outside their expertise and I was referred to a specialist. Great, just what I needed along with everything else. In not wanting to travel to Kendall, I had to delay the appointment for when the specialist would be in Homestead. It isn’t that I was overly concerned so much as it was I also couldn’t take a chance.

Fortunately, other than the waiting time to be seen being frustratingly long and mild dilation being involved, the cyst is small enough it should resolve without further treatment. (Obviously I let her know if that changes). I was very glad, but there was a different aspect that surprised me. She noted I had some crusting on my left eyelash I hadn’t thought was unusual. She then explained I should wash my eyelashes 3-4 times a week with baby shampoo. Say what? Apparently this is commonplace and having now purchased baby shampoo for the first time in decades, we’ll see how it works.

Another Memory Stirred….

Last week I attended/covered/sponsored the annual Chamber of Commerce Ladies of Legacy Luncheon. As usual, it was quite a line-up with four panelists and the moderator, topped by the Mayor of Miami-Dade County (first female). The Mayor of course could only stay for a short time and spoke about her “journey into leadership” before the moderator posed questions to the panelists. They represented a mix of profit, non-profit, and government.

Not surprisingly, in listening to them, another memory was stirred about my days of “being the first female to…..” As I have posted before, while I held seven such positions over the course of my career, the first most significant from a “ground-breaking one” was at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. That’s because it was a huge installation with a long history and therefore, when I took command of the large maintenance company (right around 300 personnel), it gained a lot of attention. We would also periodically be visited by different general officers, who were almost always unaccustomed to a female being in this position. Not to say they disagreed with it; merely it was a surprise. One time, it was a three-star general I think and during the course of discussion he asked something like, “How long did it take your people to accept you as the commander?” Now, based on his tone and body language, I understood he was actually curious; not trying to put me down. I said something along the lines of, “Not long, sir, everyone got used to it pretty quickly.” We went on through the tour and about an hour after I returned to my office, the Colonel (who was the rank about my direct boss, the Lieutenant Colonel) called me personally to make sure I wasn’t disturbed by the General’s question. I knew the Colonel had been supportive of my selection from the beginning and I assured him everything was fine. It was, however, another interesting moment of “affirmation”.

Sporadic Postings for a While…..

I am in a current situation where a complicated issue has landed in my lap along with everything else I am juggling. This happens to be a time of year when a few annual “extras” are due. Everything is manageable, although does require time. I will post as I am able.

We are in our rainy season and frequent afternoon deluges add an extra dimension to being out and about. On the other hand, after a very rainy morning, then a long stretch of sunshine followed by another round of rain – short intense part, then regular rain –  there was a lovely rainbow and a fainter one above it. I haven’t seen a double in along time.

Which reminds me, if you have time, pop in to read my short story, “Drizzles and Drenches”, it was a fun one to write. https://charliehudson.net/stories/story200602.html  

Hmm, you might have to cut and paste the above link.

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.

Not Exactly Catching Up……

This is one of the times when the absolute “musts” due to deadlines are being done and other things are staying high on the priority list with no let-up for probably another week. It is simply the “nature of the beast” because several events/obligations were previously scheduled and other important items were put on hold as I dealt with everything surrounding the trips to Louisiana. There are limited tasks others can assist with and while some of that will improve in the future, it doesn’t apply right now.

Okay, with that said, I have been up since 4:00 this morning and may very well try to lie down for a bit before dinner. No doubt that will cause the phone to ring or a text to come in, but maybe not. Speaking of dinner, it’s grilled pork chops and leftover clean-up for sides plus salad. Nothing is complicated nor time-consuming which helps. I managed to polish off one leftover for lunch so refrigerator space is becoming manageable again. I did forget we are dining out Thursday as we have an art swap to do. This involves about an hour and a half of somewhat chaotic swapping art in an exhibit, getting drinks for people, having some individuals who are coming for the social aspect and others merely to pop in and out. Hanging the exhibit might go fairly quickly although that is never a guarantee. Then it’s dinner which probably will go fairly quickly as they now close at 9:00 and won’t be urging us to linger. The “forgetting” part means I bought groceries I will have to freeze which is okay as we had also cleaned that out somewhat.