Of Happy Endings…..

I’ve posted before about while I prefer happy endings, I can deal with tragic ones as long as they are not done as pure “shock value”. What I don’t care for is the bad guys winning. We get enough of that in real life. So if a good person is killed off while doing away with a bad one (or more), that’s a type of sacrifice that’s been around since we started killing each other. In other cases, when main characters are older or in a terminal state, not pulling through isn’t unexpected.

Shifting over though from characters dying, the romantic relationships that don’t always end with the ones getting together you expect is also okay as long as it’s handled logically. A favorite twist is they come to the realization they aren’t right for each other, yet there is someone else waiting in the proverbial wings. Occasionally, as in a book I finished not long ago, of the three couples involved; two wound up with different individuals and the female half of the third couple wound up with no one, but it was because she came to understand she had to work through some deep personal issues before she would be ready for the right kind of relationship.

It was like in my first novel where the editor came back to me and said, “Look, you can stay with the mega-happy ending, but I’d like you to reconsider.” I thought it through and decided she was correct. It was still happy, although shaded with poignant. I have only ever changed one other ending. I was hard over at first about leaving it as was and then again, stepped back and considered the editor’s rationale. In that case, I made it happier than I planned and it worked, too.

Rain Into the Mix…….

There’s a common saying about scuba divers hate to get wet. What that means is, we don’t like to get rained on. Part of it is because you have “dry stuff” for after diving. When you come up from a dive – or are getting equipment ready to go in for a dive, being rained on can interfere with you dry stuff and depending on the temperature of the air and the rain, you can become extra chilled. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get out to dive in September, but things came together and I did. It was hot and humid and when we arrived at the dive site, the reliable City of Washington shallow wreck, there were signs rain might be on the way. As we were underwater, it became apparent rain was close as we sunlight diminished when the skies clouded over. Visibility was already down some, but we did find a small southern stingray as well as the regular fish life of parrots, snappers, angels, and so forth. I, as is often the case, surfaced a few minutes earlier than others and soon after, the rain did start. It picked up in intensity as the other divers came up. The boat wasn’t overly crowded so there was room for everyone under the covered section. Those who weren’t wearing wet suits though because it had been so hot got a bit chilled and we were all looking to see if it would pass fairly quickly. I was still in my skin (lightest weight suit I wear) and with my “natural insulation” was actually okay to stand in the rain for a freshwater rinse. I wouldn’t have done it for much longer. Anyway, the rain did slack and seem to be stopping when the mate looked out and said, “Dolphins!”

Sure enough I think there were two at a distance at first although we could see them. One came really close to the boat and of course no one minded the light rain in getting to watch them. The rain had almost stopped when we moved the short distance to the next site and because the rain hadn’t lasted long, the water was warmer than being on the boat. By the time everyone came up again, the sun was out and all was calm again.

Scrawled File Fish on Reef

Thoughts on Starting a Business….

First, my apologies for the lapse in posting; another jammed week. With that said, I occasionally have guests who post and this is one of those times. A woman who has been successful in starting up her own business is sharing some of her insights:

Turning Your Hobby Into a Business: A Guide to Making it Happen

If you’ve ever dreamed of turning your hobby into a business, now is the time. With the rise of the entrepreneurial spirit and technological advances, more people are starting their own businesses than ever before. Here’s a step-by-step guide from Abby Holt of Craftability to help make this dream a reality.

Get Started as a Side Hustle Business

Making the leap from hobbyist to business owner can be daunting. It’s best to start by turning your hobby into a side hustle. This will give you an opportunity to gain experience in running a business and test out ideas without fully committing yourself right away. Starting your business as a side hustle also allows you to earn income while working full-time or studying until you are able to fully commit yourself to your business.

One thing you’ll have to do, though, is choose a business structure. There are a number of options but many entrepreneurs choose to start a limited liability company because of the legal protections and tax benefits. If you aren’t sure how to get started, a formation service that’s already familiar with all the rules for launching an LLC in Louisiana can get you started in a matter of minutes.

Having Specific Objectives

It is important to set clear goals for yourself when starting any kind of business venture – big or small. Think about what success looks like for your particular venture, and then create specific objectives that will help you get there. Having clearly defined goals makes it easier to measure progress along the way so that you can track your success (or areas for improvement).

Create a Business Plan

Writing out a comprehensive business plan is one of the most important steps when starting any type of venture, regardless of whether it is large or small scale. A good business plan should include information such as an executive summary, a financial plan (including estimated startup costs), market research, product/service description, marketing and sales strategy, and operational plan. This framework serves as an essential roadmap that helps shape how you run and grow your business over time.

Creating A Marketing Strategy

 A well-developed marketing plan is essential when trying to reach customers in order to build brand awareness and generate sales for your new venture. Consider researching different marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, online advertising campaigns, and social media marketing, all of which can help spread the word about your new venture. Additionally, consider investing in virtual assistant services if needed so that someone can manage clerical aspects while you focus on other areas of running your business.

Setting Up A Web Presence

Having an online presence is essential for any business in today’s digital age. When launching a venture, it is important to take the time to set up websites and social media accounts with content tailored toward potential customers. This could include blog posts, articles, videos, and images that showcase your product or service offering.

Printing Up Brochures

Marketing through your website and social media is a great start, but you should also print up some brochures to help showcase your talents. These can include high quality images of your craft to really highlight what you’re offering. If you’re on a tight budget, using free templates is the best option. This is also a great way to supplement your other advertising efforts with something that potential customers can actually see and hold.

Obtaining Funds

Starting a business can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Finding funding through grants, loans, and crowdfunding can provide much-needed assistance during the startup phase. Once successful, reinvestment opportunities can provide extra resources for your business to grow sustainably.

Turning a hobby into a business takes dedication and hard work. It may be beneficial to start by launching a side hustle while developing plans that set clear goals. Having a web presence and an efficient ecommerce platform are also important steps, and additional funding may be necessary depending on your situation. With the right planning, your dream of turning a hobby into a business can become reality.

End of guest post.

Thanks for this!

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.

In Praise of Tea, Too…..

I do love coffee for my mornings and after a meal when I am out. And yes, depending on one’s definition of “too much”, my standard 3-4 mugs each morning, might be considered in that category. Also, since I work from home, there are times when I meet people “for coffee”, which means I will usually have that. Unless someone specifically asks for another place, my “go-to” is our local Panera. (That actually allows me to pick a chocolate croissant which Hubby loves.)

Anyway, Daddy was the only coffee drinker at home and interestingly, my maternal grandfather drank hot tea while my maternal grandmother drank coffee. Being raised in the deep South, we of course drank copious quantities of ice tea. In reality, I didn’t drink hot beverages much growing up. Even though I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was in the Army, my tea experiences came even later. When I say that, I mean anything beyond basic Lipton. It might even have been during my first trip to London. The tour didn’t include a “high tea”, however, there was always afternoon tea. I can’t recall my first herbal tea which was probably something like lemon or orange. My brother, who never drank coffee, became the first person I knew who was really into tea. He got to the point he would buy different loose teas and blend his own. He and my sister-in-law do “afternoon tea” and there is also condensed milk involved, but that’s another thing.

Basically, I usually have afternoon tea now if I’m home; herbal unless I need the extra caffeine. Publix carries a nice variety box with Earl Grey, Jane Grey, English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast. For herbals, I range from the citrus through others, and of course chamomile in those early morning hours when I’m dealing with insomnia. So when I created the “Small Town” quilting-themed cozy series, I decided to make the main character a tea lover even though she does drink coffee, too. I admit I don’t bother with loose tea, so I’m not sure if I can be considered a “true” tea person.

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.

Did the Birthday Dive….

We were successful although conditions were impacted by the approaching hurricane. Weather was good, waves were a bit high, but nothing difficult. Visibility was down and as I’ve mentioned before, when you’ve been diving for a while, in these cases, you look closer for the small stuff. Big stuff does sometimes come right up to you, but mostly you see it from a distance and turn in that direction. The exceptions are eels and octopus as they aren’t out in the open anyway. Not a single eel on either dive and I haven’t seen an octopus in ages. We did the two smaller shallow wrecks and there were lots of the “regulars” I enjoy. In fact, I saw a juvenile queen angel, then realized there was another one; the smallest one I have ever seen. Still brightly colored and cute as could be. There were several rock beauties on the second dive and in what was a surprise, there was a rock beauty and a queen angel in the same spot. Don’t know if Hubby’s photo will come out. I hope so as it will make a nice piece. On the second dive, there were four large barracuda and that made for a good shot, too.

We did go see the yellow-headed jaw fish on the second dive before we went over to the wreck. Oh, both of these are genuine wrecks, so it’s really more “wreckage” as there’s very little that looks like a vessel any longer. On the Hannah Bell though, when Hurricane Irma came through a few years ago, the cannon off in the sand was uncovered. Not a huge cannon, but hey it is a cannon. Oh, in coming back from the second dive, there were like two dozen jellyfish. I like seeing them and this type is pretty easy to avoid. Their sting isn’t strong; a bit uncomfortable though.

What did make the day a bit special was there weren’t many people on the boat and most were actually from Horizon Divers. The regular crew of two required, two instructors with only a few students between them, and one of the others training for his Captain’s license. It was very “family-like”. If I had known there would be so few, I would have brought cookies or cupcakes.

Scrawled File Fish on Reef

Chromis are seen on most of the local reefs.

And Here We Are……

Probably other than my 18th birthday (back when the federal government didn’t intervene with the states so that was the legal age for alcohol in Louisiana), I haven’t marked any of “the big ones”.  Today as my 70th isn’t an exception other than to reflect generally on birthday celebrations. I don’t go in for them much anymore and I have certainly worked on more than one occasion. I like doing things for other people’s birthdays though and for me, it’s kind of a sure, let’s have a nice dinner either going out somewhere special or doing something special at home.

Living here, I do try to make it a point to go diving, although I have a “window” of about ten days to count that as a “birthday dive”. The span is in order to allow for weather and boat availability. In fact, because I have two kind of complex articles for next week’s paper, I’m working this weekend in case Mother Nature is kind enough to allow me to go dive tomorrow afternoon. We shall see.

Okay, back to celebrating. I don’t feel as keen on driving down into the Keys as we have in the past because weekend traffic has gotten much worse and a few of our restaurants do qualify for special occasion. I wanted lobster last night and we would have gone to Capri, but they were having a huge party in and I knew it would be hectic for them. Hubby was puzzled when I told him I wanted to go to Red Crab. It is nice, although no tablecloths. Anyway, I didn’t explain that when I was in there Wednesday with friends, the waiter told us about a special of exotic meats with bison, ostrich, and venison. I was surprised and I knew Hubby would love it. I didn’t explain that to him because I wasn’t sure they would have it. He does love whole fried snapper, which he didn’t realize they had and was all set to order it. Our waitress remembered us from a previous time and I asked about the specials. They did still have the exotic meats although they were out of bison. He was quite happy and now understood why we were there. They doubled up on the venison, my lobster was delicious, and I do use my birthday as an excuse for dessert. We shared a key lime pie because I have chocolate cake for tonight.

“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.

Another Local Story…..

As I have mentioned, writing for the paper pays basically nothing, but it’s part of why I know so much about the community. We get stories different ways and this is a case of someone coming to the paper to ask if we could cover it. That was last year and the event is now an annual one.

We only have a few nice assisted living places in town and the fancy one (with applicable high costs) is appropriately name The Palace. Not surprisingly, they have a wide variety of activities for the residents.  Also not surprisingly, they include arts and crafts sessions.  While the residents enjoy that, many of them were quite active in the community in their younger time. The instructor, who has been teaching at this and other facilities owned by the same company for ten years, came up with the idea of the residents at the Palace should sell their items and use the money for a back-to-school contribution. They all loved the idea, but how to actually do it was the question. Enter one of the local individuals who is involved in many different non-profits, to include one he established specifically to support things for children. He and a couple of others set up sales events around town as well as on-line sales opportunities. Then he reached out to a couple of other non-profits to help select twenty children as recipients.

The children and family (or usually a parent) come to the Palace for a luncheon, meet the residents, and are presented with an electronic tablet and a backpack filled with school supplies. The food at the Palace is one of the things residents pay for, but in this case, they make it a kid-type lunch which probably also brings back memories for the residents. The twenty residents who created items this past year (actually twenty-two as two passed away before the event) are planning to keep with it for the coming year.