On That Day…..

For our parents, it was Dec 7, 1941. Until September 11, 2001 for we Babyboomers, it was always November 22, 1963. For GenXers, it might always be 9/11.  I don’t know if I will get through this post without crying and I don’t generally talk about it.

It was an oddity of timing for me. My sister was in for a short visit and I was to take her to Baltimore to fly back to Houston. Hubby was at Headquarters, Army Materiel Command where I also worked part time as a contractor. He and some others were scheduled to go to the Pentagon for a meeting that morning. Sis and I tend to chatter from the time we get up through the day and after Hubby left for work, I turned the television off having seen the weather report for what was a lovely September day. Sis and I were leaving early for the airport because I wanted to take her by Savage Mills, an old mill complex converted into a great area of shops and restaurants. We didn’t have the radio on in the car. Sis had a meeting the next day and when we stopped at the Mill, she called into her assistant to check to see that something was lined up for the meeting. I heard her say something like, “No, not at the airport,” then “What?”, “Bomb, Pentagon,” and not much after that. She obviously looked shaken and I said, “Someone finally got through the Pentagon with a bomb?” That’s when she told me and we jumped back in the car to turn the radio on. It was pure lucky timing she even got the call through as there was a nationwide jam on most cell towers.

At that point, I didn’t know if Hubby had gone to the Pentagon. She couldn’t fly out of course and we were about 30 minutes from home – well, had traffic been normal. Our route back took us within sight of the Pentagon where the black column of smoke was still rising. We got to the townhouse and I already had a few voicemails waiting, none from Hubby. We had the TV on by now and the phone literally wouldn’t stop ringing. One of the calls was finally from our son, who was at university. After he made sure I was okay, he said, “Sorry Mom, but the first time I called I think I accidentally erased a voice mail dad left you.” Okay, that at least answered that question.

Maybe an hour later Hubby did get through to me. They were preparing to leave for the Pentagon when the news came through. They immediately activated the Emergency Operations Center in the Headquarters and they tapped him to come back in for the night shift. He came home for about an hour to get his stuff and tell me as much as he could at the time. None of our personal friends who worked in the Pentagon were injured although we of course knew some of those who died. What most people didn’t realize was the plane at least hit mainly in the section that was undergoing renovation and so was not populated. That is why casualties were lower than would have been under normal circumstances. Even more importantly, it was on the side away from the on-site day care facility.

It took two more days I think it was for (might have been three) for Sis to be able to book a flight out.

You’ll Be Missed, Jimmy……

I have posted before about the experience of a Jimmy Buffet concert and our long time as Parrotheads. I don’t tear up when I hear about celebrities passing away and this morning was the exception. I was surprised to hear he had been battling an as yet undisclosed illness for the past two years. According to the statement released, he died peacefully, surrounded by family and those closest to him; passing away in the same way he lived.

To say he was a phenomenon is no exaggeration. Many years ago, he was simply one more singer/songwriter struggling to be heard, dreaming some day of making it big. I doubt his definition of “big” actually included the extent to which his empire grew; music of course, a few acting roles, merchandising, then restaurants as in not uncommon. Resorts and casinos don’t usually follow nor do 55-and-better active adult communities. The number of his “Latitude Margaritaville” communities were supposed to expand and perhaps his heirs will keep with that plan.

Although certain of his songs were iconic and as he always said, “a must play” at his concerts, his body of work was such that he had fans of them all. In fact, his song, “Bama Breeze”, inspired me to write my short story, “Closing Time, Closing Day” (https://charliehudson.net/stories/story200701.html)

I can only imagine the kind of partying that will be going on in Key West and Mobile, where he was originally from, this weekend. If we had a Margaritaville Cafe close by, we’d go around for at least a couple of drinks ourselves.

“Perfect as the Enemy of Good”….

There is a saying in the military as well as business, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”, and I’m not sure what caused this thought to pop into my head yesterday. When making a plan or trying to find a solution to something, there are times when you aren’t likely to have the perfect plan. That is not to say you shouldn’t plan carefully and do as much analysis as is practical. If you are dealing with a committee/group decision situation, a single individual can keep coming up with “what ifs” or concerns that cause a decision about what to do to be delayed indefinitely.

The flip side to that, however, is the military saying of, “No plan survives first contact”. In other words, once you engage in an operation, it can come apart. While it may seem contradictory to move ahead with a plan even if you don’t have it exactly as you want, it isn’t really. The ability to accurately assess a situation and realize you need to adapt is important, too. We are human and make mistakes which, if properly applied, provides good lessons. Granted, some can be fatal, yet most aren’t. There may be some pain and even humiliation involved, and I have had my share of both. I am on the periphery of a rather ambitious plan being undertaken by an organization and I suppose that’s why I got to thinking about the above saying. I was quite skeptical of initial discussions, although I wasn’t in a position to be consulted, nor did I want to engage. In learning a little more, I think “good enough” plan is accurate and if successful, it will be a plus for the community. I’m not sure though how much adapting can be done if anything major goes wrong, so I will cross my fingers, too – can’t hurt.

Not the Same Town……

When I travel back to Louisiana to visit family and friends, the three (now will only be two) towns have different degrees of change. Minden, where Daddy lived, is a bit larger, yet not by much. Natchitoches, the historic town had changed more although not that it has lost it’s core nor has it become so populated as to strain the infrastructure. Many, the very small town where my mother was from, has few new things. It is in great contrast to Florida and especially South Florida where population is exploding.

When we moved here in late 2004, even though I was disappointed to learn this area is one of the only places on the East Coast that doesn’t have actual beaches, there were other aspects to enjoy. A fair amount of building was going on and as I have posted before, I wasn’t thrilled about living in a gated community. That, however, was the only viable choice for the type of house we wanted. It was enough of a small town to be reminiscent of where we both respectively grew up. As a quick reminder, the building boom went bust in 2008-2009, and was grim for people who were caught in bad timing. That cycle did pass and the book has come back multi-fold.

As always, it’s much faster to build houses than infrastructure and you can only do so much to improve traffic flow if you increase the density of traffic beyond a certain point. We may not be quite there yet, although crawling, stop-and-go patterns are common now in a number of places. There are those who have left, seeking somewhere else in Florida or neighboring states where growth is limited. Others are adapting, while those who recently arrive from even more crowded places find it “normal”. There are new services coming in as well which are generally more positive than negative. We shall see what the next few years bring.

Another Week Zipping Past…..

For some people, summer is actually a bit of a break. That is most assuredly not the case for others. The areas that may not be as busy are overlaid by new ones or by either the ones on the “yes, I’ll get to it” list. These are the tasks that simmer along until such time as they really can no longer be avoided.This week has been a combination of the two. Ah well, we are at no risk of being bored in the near future.

After queries from a few fans I have begun work on Shades of Remorse, the fifth in the series featuring Police Detective Bev Henderson. As I explained to one of these individuals, I did not set out to write a series. My plan was for all stand-alone novels, but one idea led to another. As a reader, if I find a book I think is interesting and see it is a series, I try to go back to the first one instead to see if I like the writing and characters. As an author, it’s tricky to decide how much information to include about the characters and other background if a reader chooses to jump into a series beginning with a later book. Oh, I did plan the “Small Town” quilting cozies as a series so was able to set that up accordingly.

In this case, the long lapse between novels has to do with the structure of “Remorse” in order to tell the story in the way I should. I generally write in first person or dual Point of View depending on the book. This particular story requires writing with a triple Point of View and I’ve never done that. While I have the story pretty well outlined, there are a couple of gaps yet and rather than continue to wrestle with it, I’ve decided I have enough to start. The rest should develop as I work through the main and subplots. We’ll see.


Got Behind Again……

So much for a calmer week. I’m not going to get into how the week became so jammed, but it’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last. Hopefully, the extra things thrown in will have positive results and we’ll leave it at that.

Skipping forward to the Food and Drink part, that’s not the usual sharing of a recipe. The oldest (or second depending on how you count a couple of factors) continuously serving family restaurant in Miami Dade County will change hands next week. We’ve know this if coming for a while as a couple of different offers have been working. The Capri in Florida City was opened in 1959 and carried on by the second generation. As I have posted before when it comes to family businesses, it is common for the third generation to be the one that walks away, or in some cases, fails. This time it’s that the third generation did work in the business for a while and have chosen not to continue with it.

COVID was so difficult for businesses and the Capri was determined to try and provide some normalcy during the months of closures and ever-changing restrictions. They complied with each new edict and we patronized them even more than usual in support of their efforts. The government financial support was no where near what has often been lauded although it was of some help. The follow-on inability to get staff is what was an added difficulty. And so, there comes a time when you make a logical choice even if it is not the one you would have preferred.

For all of its years, this was the special occasion restaurant and hundreds – probably thousands – of special memories were made. It was also the “nice” restaurant where celebrities and VIPs were taken when they were in town. While we will very much miss it as a place, we hope the family taking it over will be successful in their own way.


When Not Winning Isn’t Losing…..

Musing content alert. I was watching an episode of “Brokenwood Mysteries” the other day – I watch DVD while I’m on the exercise bike – and it was centered around the murder of the local rugby team coach. As always, there was more than one story line. A somewhat catalyst (although not the true motive) for the murder was the fact the team had lost fifty straight games. In teasing one of the players, his comment was, “Hey, us not winning doesn’t mean we’re losers.”

That sets up the duality of, “It’s isn’t whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game that counts,” as opposed to, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Competitiveness runs the gamut from individuals who feel no reason to compete/are afraid to, to the far end of those who will do anything to win. The saying (more or less) of, “The first automobile race occurred ten minutes after the second automobile was produced,” speaks to the human nature to compete. It motivates and allows/encourages people to reach for a higher level in whatever. As with most things in life, balance and moderation are key. Team sports teach much to an individual; such as how to do your best and how you can often do more than you think. Training and practice can improve your performance (again in whatever). In many situations though there can only be one winner. That’s the valuable lesson of understanding that not winning is not the same as being a loser.

From another context, the idea of “participation trophies” and not keeping scores comes with the risk of not learning that valuable lesson. I firmly believe in participation acknowledgement and instilling in the “winners” the need to do so graciously.

D-Day To Remember……

Someone should be running “The Longest Day” today; the movie that until “Saving Private Ryan” came along was arguably the premiere movies about WW II. I still prefer, “The Longest Day”, but that’s merely an age-and-time thing. I only have it on tape so will record it although I should just go ahead and buy the DVD. Anyway, by telling the story from both the Allied and German perspectives, there are intriguing points made (many historically accurate) and marvelous moments encapsulate the extraordinary day that shifted the war. Yes, it was almost another year (May 1945) before the war was over and thousands died in the battles following June 6th; yet that day was the “beginning of the end”.

The cast of the movie included virtually every major American male actor, a number of British ones, some German, and a few in minor roles who would later become iconic such as Sean Connery.  For those who need a quick history lesson, the planned invasion (Operation Overload) was indeed the largest force assembled in modern history and there was always the issue of crossing the channel at the narrowest point – the logical approach – or taking a greater risk of selecting another path. The German defenses were formidable and in deciding on the riskier Normandy option, a major deception campaign with multiple pieces was developed and launched; all designed to reinforce the belief that the invasion would occur near Pas de Clais. In the movie, as events begin, that continues to be the core issue. When paratroopers make their mostly successful drops (despite the horrific cost at Saint Mare d’Eglise) and members of the French Resistance play their parts, a few German officers draw the correct conclusion. In one of the memorable lines, a highly placed German commander says, “No, no; Normandy is a diversion. The invasion will come where it has always been expected.” He does plan to shift the reserves German tank battalions (Panzers) as a precaution. This is denied by Berlin. Would the outcome have been different had the Panzers been added into the fray? Perhaps; perhaps other factors would have offset that.

In any case, there is another scene I can watch endlessly. The order is given to launch the Allied forces and there is a shot of the armada moving through the pre-dawn hours. On board one of the Navy ships, the Captain stands with one of his officers, looking at the blips on the radar screen. He says something like, “The biggest armada the world has ever seen. You remember this; you remember every bit of this. The world is going to talk about this day long after we are dead and gone.”

So Much for Catching Up….

We did have the Homestead Center for the Arts Art and Artisan Show Saturday an rain was not an issue. Heat and humidity were other matters as even for South Florida, it was higher than normal for this time of year. We had a great mix of vendors and while we would have liked more attendees, it was in a good range. We had some wonderful volunteers, too which made a big difference.

This week was supposed to allow me to catch up a bit as I had to focus a great deal on last week for prep and of course Saturday was consumed with the show. I did some work yesterday as well although not as much as I needed to. Then a few extra things have been thrown into the mix and there you have it. At this stage I’m keeping my fingers crossed for no more curve balls. In all fairness, the extra tasks are better than having some kind of medical emergency, so there is that to be grateful for. Hubby has had a couple of days and was able to get the grocery store taken care of which is always a help. He’s back at work tomorrow through the end of the week and we are going to try and keep the weekend clear. I’m not sure we’ll manage, but there is a good chance. May is Military Appreciation Month which comes with several annual events we’ll have to cover for the paper and Hubby is involved in one on the 20th. I may get pulled into it, too; that remains to be seen.

Anyway, here’s hoping someone out there has an uncomplicated, relatively calm week ahead.




That Conversation About “The Trades”…..

It has been a while since I posted about this topic. Last evening, I attended a Scholarship Awards dinner and sat with a young lady and her mother. The student will be attending Florida State to major in Computer Science and is the first to leave home. The mom has some concern of course although that’s not the point of this post. The mom is proud of her and mentioned she only did one year of college as she became pregnant and was then able to get a good job while she raised son and daughter. That led to commenting her son isn’t looking to go to college, and prefers to work with his hands. I explained I was a big proponent of the trades rather than, “everyone should go to college”. This has been my position for years, strengthened by the inexcusable cost of college and the proliferation of degrees that aren’t remotely marketable. Now again, college graduates (especially anyone in liberal arts) often don’t go to work in their field of study, but apply the skills learned in other areas. The idea that someone who majors in something like Women’s Studies should also be able to find a high-paying job in that field is where things generally go awry.

Getting back to the point of the trades though. There is a shortage throughout the country of electricians, etc.,., and while Vocational Tech (VoTech) fell out of favor in many high schools, that seems to be changing. Major IT companies have long partnered with schools to provide the option to take courses in high school that can result in graduating with a technical certification of some type in addition to their diploma. That can lead to an entry level job that pays well and allows for upward mobility. In other cases, more training is required, but technical colleges usually have certifications that require only one or two years to a career. Costs are significantly less and again, job placement assistance is often included. Starting in a trade doesn’t mean being “stuck”; it can also mean that in the process of working as an electrician or whatever, the individual may well decide they do want to go on to college, or into business for themselves one day. No, not everyone is suited for a trade, but it should be encouraged for those who are.