Trip, Day 2…..

On the upside, we’re seeing friends in the dive world, meeting a few new people, Richie Kohler’s presentations were standing room only, and we sold out of Mystery of the Last Olympian because they didn’t bring quite enough books. That was only by a few and the people who were too late did get a photo with him.

I did meet one of the new ladies at Best publishing and we had a pleasant talk, plus she stashed our coats in their booth so we didn’t have to carry them around. They were doing a good business with selling some of the other books, too; those are the more technical dive type which is what they specialize in.

Our plans to dine out at a recommended Italian restaurant didn’t work out though because the rain and cold were absolutely miserable. It didn’t start letting up until after 6:00 and the wind was still strong as well as cold. Staying in made lots more sense even if the hotel restaurant was limited. Genuine NYC steakhouse is the special dinner for tonight, and not sure what we’ll do for lunch yet. We’ll head out from here around 10:00.

Spring Trip, Day 1……

This is another of the trips with a lot of movement. We flew into Philadelphia, picked up the car and drove to Seacaucus, NJ for the Beneath the Sea Dive Show. For those who might be new to the Blog, Richie Kohler is famous in the shipwreck world as he has been involved in some amazing adventures. Back in 2015 I co-authored, Mystery of the Last Olympian; Britannic, Titanic’s Tragic Sister. We knew each other a bit remotely before that and became friends in writing the book. He is receiving a well-deserved award tomorrow and when I heard about it, the timing worked in an odd way. The kids’ spring break is a week earlier this year so we are at the dive show today, re-set to Times Square tomorrow for another event, then go back to Philadelphia Monday morning, The kids come up and we’ll be with them until Thursday.

The flight up yesterday was a bit on the bumpy side, but at least we were on time. The weather though is tough; 30 degrees and it won’t get much warmer plus today is going to be rain all day. It’s good to see people and it will be a fun time. We ate here at the hotel last night. Not an extensive menu, but I had grilled salmon and Hubby had pasta Bolongease. We might go out tonight as there are a couple of nearby restaurants that sound interesting. On the other hand, if it is still raining, I expect we will stay tucked in.

Snorkel, Not Scuba…..

In missing Jan and Feb for diving, yesterday turned out to literally be the only day I could go in March. I was all set and realized my wrist is still a bit “twingey”, and wrestling with thirty pounds of dive gear probably wasn’t a good idea. I am so close to being fully healed, it would be distressing if I messed this up. Snorkeling is a good alternative, although the chop was a little heavier than ideal. Visibility was good though and with the shallow reefs, the sites are good for snorkeling. I did see a turtle swim leisurely past on his way up for air on the first site.

That was the only really special creature, although several of my favorites were split between the two sites. I saw a French and queen angel as well as a couple of rock beauties and a puffer at each site. Barracuda and a nice size grouper, butterfly fish, a juvenile trumpet, midnight and blue parrot fish and the little chromis I always enjoy. There were quite a few moon jellies; some quite small, and the usual array of yellowtail snappers, squirrelfish and so forth. Since timing means I probably won’t try to go out again until the latter part of April, my wrist should be fine by then.

The only other drawback was I thought my 3mm wetsuit was in the dive bag and it wasn’t. The 1mm wasn’t quite heavy enough for the water temperature and it took a few minutes to stop feeling the chill after I went in. That did mean I cut my time in the water to like 30 minutes the first time and only like 20 at the second site. I generally use a 3mm through the end of April, then swap to 1mm, and in late July-mid-Sept, I use the skin. Ah well, at least I did get wet.

Two puffers from previous dives; don;t remember when.

 

Where Did the Week Go……….

Ah, the usual answer of course with some extra deadlines thrown in and forgetting to check when I did the last post. This week isn’t really any better as I have to line up an interview to ensure I have an article for the paper while we are away. It’s a nice story though – I think – as it is a Barber School which has opened downtown and promises a career in nine months. As anyone who follows the blog knows, I am a big supporter of the trades, or in this case, personal services, that provides a path to at least start on. I hope they also have some data as to hires after graduation.

Anyway, shifting onto the personal writing side, even though I’ve never had a commercial success, there are a couple of paths for writers like me who have a large body of work available. One way is to have some celebrity pick up a book and start talking about it. Not very likely to happen. The other is having a book picked up for film or television which then generally will drive sales. I receive weekly cold calls/emails offering a package about getting more attention for one of my books. In one case, it’s a company I did open an account with and never opted for their service. They recently sent a special offer for a significantly reduced price and since I didn’t publish last year, I thought I might as well have a conversation. That led to me agreeing to do a submission. What I didn’t realize was the offer was actually for five “pitches”, not one. Since each pitch requires about three-four hours to prepare, it has been time consuming. The focus will be my two scuba-themed mystery series. The first two are for Shades of Truth and Shades of Gold, then the first three in the Chris Green series. Those are Deadly Doubloons, False Front, and Georgina’s Grief. (If you’re new to the blog, everything is at https://www.charliehudson.net/books.html) I still need to complete one step to activate the other four and it’s a graphics thing I have to get help with. I can’t say I expect any real success, but as has been my approach all these years, I might as well try.

Two Charter Memberships…….

I belong to multiple associations/organizations and in two cases, am a charter member. The first one is a bit amusing. I was stationed in Maryland and as usual, received constant requests for donations to things I contributed to as well as many others I don’t. I open a letter one day asking me to become a charter member for the National Museum for Women in the Arts (NMWA) to be established in Washington, D.C. They went on about how there were no dedicated museums to women artists and this would not be part of the National Parks system, but a private museum such as the Phillips. I wasn’t sure if the request was legitimate, but I sent a check and then pretty much forgot about it. I eventually receive another letter about how NMWA has now purchased a building and whatever date they anticipated it would be renovated and opened. Well, that was good to know. When we went back to the D.C. area, we went to the museum for the first time. It was previously a Masonic Temple and has an odd shape. Inside, however, the building itself it practically a work of art; lots of marble and soaring ceilings. Two floors are for rotating exhibits as they have so much art, it can’t all be displayed. One floor is special exhibits and they have had some fabulous ones. The fourth floor is for research and archives. There are rooms for meetings and lectures, a lovely gift shop with obviously great  items and there is a Metro station a short walk away. https://nmwa.org/

The second organization is one I’ve posted about before and I note on Facebook each Memorial Day and Veterans Day. I was stationed in Hawaii when Brigadier General Wilma Vaught made the rounds to tell women about the plan for The Women in Military Service for America (WIMSA) museum. In selecting a site within Arlington Military Cemetery, that ensured it would be easy for people to find. It is h intriguing and a totally different concept than NMWA. The history and stories it contains are varied and inspiring. One of my goals if we ever have an extra couple of days when we visit the kids is to take Amelia to both places, but especially to WIMSA. https://womensmemorial.org/about/

Seafood Festival Time……

There are moments when timing works in one’s favor. The three big civic organizations remaining here each have a major annual fundraiser event for the various programs to include scholarships. The Rotary Club always held a prime rib dinner and auction and it could get lively. The one gentleman who was really the “star” of it so to speak, finally relocated from the area and no one else quite had his ability to pull it all together. In looking at an alternative, the Seafood Festival in Key Largo was immensely popular, but as it grew, the one-way-in and one-way-out traffic problem of the Overseas Highway became such an issue, the Sheriff’s department wanted a change of location. I don’t know who all spoke with whom, but six years ago, the Homestead Rotary took it on for here. As is often the case, the first year was just okay. They worked through some things and the second year was better, and attendance leaped. That also meant they could attract greater sponsorship to keep their costs down. This weekend is Year Six and if it’s like before, somewhere around 10,000 people will attend. At $10/person, the vendor fees and being the ones who sell bottled water and sodas, and have the bar, you can see how it’s successful.

We will be going this afternoon for the usual photo array for the paper. There is the kids area with activities for younger and older kids, the stage with multiple bands performing, the “L” of food vendors with different types of seafood as well as other offerings such as BBQ, or more snacking-type choices and of course dessert items. The fried donut guy was new last year and I don’t know if he will be back. He was quite popular. I do plan to wear my hat I bought there last year and probably won’t buy anything this year, but I hope the vendors do well.

It is a huge effort in planing and an exhausting two days of work. Everyone involved deserves a lot of credit.

Need That Extra Day……

I think it’s good we have the extra day in February this year as more tasks seem to pop up all the time. Oh, I did have a boss one time – well, worked for him on two different assignments years apart – who was a Leap Year baby. While being born on April 1st can come with its own set of jokes and being born right around Christmas can cause birthdays to sort of get overlooked, a Feb 29th birthday has to be the most confusing. He, and maybe most, chose to celebrate Feb 28th in the off-years.

And speaking of birthdays, we are once again, by coincidence of timing going to be with the kids and granddaughter not long after her birthday. No present on that day, but will hold off until we see them not quite two weeks after. That way, we’ll combine a souvenir for the trip and birthday present. She’ll have plenty to open on the actual day. We will take care of her for at least one day for the kids to have a, “date day”, and might turn that into two. If so, one day might be “girls only” and let Hubby go off for a photo shoot as we will be in Center City Philadelphia with a lot of great architecture. If we do that, there could be shopping involved to buy a new outfit. The advantage of Philadelphia in late March is the weather might be really nice for the many outdoor things available. If the weather is tricky, there are plenty of indoor options as well. It might not have the magic of Disney, but the Science Center is terrific and there is allegedly a Lego place which of course will be a draw. We won’t make firm plans because it’s too unpredictable and since we will be there on week days, getting into places should be okay without advance tickets.

 

No Scuba This Month Either…….

In all fairness, I don’t usually have the chance to dive in February and often not January. While the water is colder, I can generally handle that. The issue more often is wind. Hubby has had some really tough days on the water the past three weeks and  was even if my schedule was better, the odds are I wouldn’t have gone out. Yes, those of us who live here do get spoiled. The amusing part is for divers who come from the Northeast or the Great Lakes area consider these conditions to be almost balmy.

Added to the weather aspect, I did take a tumble Jan 6 when I was in a hurry and didn’t notice the uneven paver. My hands were full so when I fell, my right wrists didn’t take the full impact. The sprain was manageable as were the scraps and bruises. It isn’t completely healed though and I suspect trying to wrestle with dive gear for another couple of weeks wouldn’t be a good idea anyway. I am working my way back to being able to do my toning exercises where I use 5-pound hand weights. I do that three days a week with a series of eight different exercises starting with 32 reps per arm, then 34 on the second day, and 36 on the third. I managed four exercises yesterday and stopped. As much as I would like to be completely healed, I know I have to be careful not to push too hard. A friend who was in physical therapy a few times following surgeries was bad about, “if some is good, more is better”. One of the therapists finally convinced him that, no, they set up his schedule for a reason and trying to “do extra” would do more harm than good.

I am grateful it was no worse and am respecting the fact that we don’t heal as quickly as we did in our younger years.

Valentine’s Day Dinner……

I think I have mentioned before that we no longer go out for Valentine’s Day, Mothers/Fathers Day, or Easter. It’s just usually so crowded and hectic that unless we happen to be traveling during one of those we would rather cook a special meal at home. That was especially true this year since Valentine’s Day was on a Wednesday. We had steaks over the weekend and I didn’t get over to Sprouts to see if they had any tempting cuts of meat. We decided on lobster risotto and we already had some leftover spinach and artichoke spread from Sunday. I wanted our Florida lobster, but Publix didn’t have any and I wasn’t going elsewhere to search. I picked up the little Canadian tails which are fine for something like this.They did have this nice little heart-shaped white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake so we were all set. Oh, and champagne of course.
I know I have mentioned risotto is one of Hubby’s dishes; I’m not allowed to touch it. I shucked the lobsters, tossed the tails into the pot for him to make stock, chopped the meat and added some melted garlic butter to let it absorb the flavor for a while. If you haven’t ever  made risotto, a critical step is to take between 22-30 minutes for the dish which requires adding liquid incrementally and stirring almost constantly. After the stock was ready and Hubby chopped up the salad veggies, I warmed up the dip, and he opened the champagne. We poured one glass for “chefing”, and he commenced with the risotto while snacking on the spread and crackers and sipping champagne and I finished the salads. He opted for a frozen mixed veggies to co along and there was one lovely garlic roll also left over. It all worked nicely and was delicious.

No Same Timeline……

Emotional content alert. For those who follow the blog, I touch into serious matters at times and today is one of them. The recent loss of a friend was not unexpected in one sense. He had a couple of different health issues and apparently another one or two that hadn’t quite manifested. Without getting into unnecessary detail, the rapidity of his decline is what took many of us by surprise.

For anyone who has dealt with the loss of a spouse, that, and the loss of a child (not something I have personally experienced) have dynamics that cannot be truly understood without having suffered that particular loss. People may care deeply about you, offer sympathy and support. That does help, is appreciated, and and it’s good to do. The irony is, of course, the one single thing you want is to have the individual back and that is the one single thing that can not happen. After the initial “buffering of shock” passes, there are so many actions to be taken and then there is your life in the new stage. One of the things difficult to grasp is there isn’t a “straight line” in dealing with the grief. I don’t recall how long it was after the famous “Stages of Grief” was published when the author explained she never intended for it to be taken as a “timeline”. There is no – “okay, it’s been X amount of time, so you should be at Y.” Other people around you get on with their lives and most of us adopt a public facade for the sake of those people. How one feels and deals with the grief in private depends on the individual. There is nothing good about having cared for a person in long-term decline and while that loss might be “expected”, it doesn’t necessarily make it less painful. The finality of death is what can be difficult. The lingering scent of someone’s clothes, the favorite foods you no longer buy or cook; the act of now cooking for one. These are things that seem small and yet can be emotionally draining. Time does help, if you allow it to do so. However, you can’t dictate how much time it will take.