Thursday, December 27, 2007

Who Am I Today - Pick a Card, Any Card.

I found a cache of business cards at the bottom of a desk drawer as I dug for a red editing pen. I was amazed at how many there were. After adding my last corporate card from Saks Incorporated and my newest Perle’s Ink card, they totaled ten and these are only the ones I saved. I’ve worked for myself and for others since age 17, but still ten cards in 41 years seems alot.

Whether I moved or was downsized, I’d immediately sign up with various temporary agencies. I usually had an assignment within a day or two at most. My skill set and work ethic always resulted in permanent job offers. I am able to enter any workplace and own the job; I do whatever the job requires, as if I’d been with that company for years. It’s a gift that serves me in any job market.

Having been downsized yet again last May, I have taken some time off to write, paint and reflect. However, as my writing is not yet bringing in as much as I’m spending, I’ve put out the word that I’m available. I have several calls to return the first week in January.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Looking for a Little Action in Birmingham, Alabama

The mad dash is over. Christmas dinner successfully served to rave reviews. Presents opened to oooohs and ahhhhhs, and a few gee thanks (these will be returned).

Being from Atlanta, one guest wonders aloud, “now what – what is there to do in Birmingham?” Bear in mind, when he is in Atlanta, the most he ever does is go out to eat. This I know from his wife, but I take the question at face value and hand him two of our free publications: Black & White and Birmingham Weekly. There are pages of listings for the entertainment at night clubs, restaurants, free wine tastings, art galleries, the Birmingham Museum of Art (the largest museum in the SE), etc. Yes, I tell him our museum is larger than Atlanta’s, and it’s free. There’s a donation box at the door, but it is optional. But there are other museums for Jazz, MotorSports, Flight, Civil Rights and more.

I’m never bored in Birmingham, but then, I consider boredom a choice. In a world so used to constant input, a moment with nothing to fill it but ones own thoughts is pretty daunting for some. I understand that he needs to fill the time, and so I gave him the papers and a red pen to circle things and offered directions to any place he and his wife cared to go.

Personally, I look forward to being home, alone on the porch swing, patting cat, watching the day unfold beneath my window and hearing myself think. Later, I'll put on Nora Jones and curl up on the couch with Hanson's True History of the Spanish Armada courtesy of Birmingham's amazing Public Library system.

Perle Champion, is a writer, artist and photographer.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Building Memories

Christmas morning. Mom called and reminded me I promised to come to breakfast. Ed (sister’s husband) is cooking his special egg bake on a bed of spinach a la Ed. ‘Don’t forget the meat thermometer you promised’ are her final words before hanging up. I throw on jeans and a presentable shirt, add water to my bed-head hair, and fortunately I know that Walgreen’s on Green Springs Hwy is open. I cross my fingers and go tearing in there on the way. The manager smiles and walks me to the item and then walks me back to check me out at the camera counter away from the main line up front with 20 people doing the last minute thing. Whew, I’m on my way.

Right now, I'm caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas in a large family, and perhaps I don't appreciate it as much as I should. I know from experience, that someday I will. Later in 2008, I’ll look back as I have in years past, and this time I’m dashing through will glow brightly along with all the years that came before.

Ah, memory! Thy lens is rose and shows us what we might have missed as we hied us from each precious present.

Below pix from last nights Christmas Eve Gathering. My great niece Kiersten underMom's tree.

My Sister Barbara and Husband Ed at Table.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Let's Get Cookin'

My blogging may be on the light side over the next few days. The family has started converging on Mom’s out in Hoover, a berg of Birmingham. Early afternoon, as she and my sister, Barbara, begin food preparation for the evening meal - we seat 12 family and a few strays at 7 each evening the 24th and 25th. After that it’s just 5 or 7 thru the 1st.

Since we don’t eat until late, I don’t need to be there until 2 or 3. My morning begins at 5 for a walk, then shower, then dress for the day. Breakfast is a protein smoothie and coffee with chocolate soysilk accompanies me to my desk. The hours from 7a.m. until 2 p.m. are mine to write. I am trying to finish a series of essays and filler for submission to various magazines starting the first of the year. Armed with my ‘’ subscription, I’ve made lists for queries to major markets for the essays, filler, book reviews, and more. So every morning is nose to grindstone time (Dell Laptop), followed by an afternoon, sharing conversation, a glass of wine and meal preparation with my mom, Barbara, and Billy Joe.

Ed, Tonya, Billy Joe helping themselves at Thanksgiving.

Perle Champion, is a write, artist, and photographer.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Omaha Dateline: 12/05/07 - I want to know what madness is

I want to know what madness is, and where its edges and beginnings are.

What path does a twisted mind travel that can explain taking pride in the slaying of innocents? What slight was so great that it warrants wanton murder and destruction? I cannot, nor can most of us, fathom such a course of action. Yet, I must explore my own reaction to the carnage I witness daily through the intense media coverage.

What do I feel? I feel a mad and all-consuming rage. I cannot talk of the scenes I saw without moist eyes and a thickening throat. “Drawing and quartering is too good for them!” “I hope they don’t make it to the courtroom.” “I hope someone puts them in a hut in the middle of nowhere and blows them up, and they are rendered so much bloody smoke.”

These thoughts - turgid dirty waters - wend their way through my mind, and spew forth as I voice to them to friends and casual acquaintances. They all no concurrence and add a few suggestions of their own. With froth and foam, we fume at those who did this heinous thing. Our thoughts are so unclean, so unkind, and yet how like our kind - humankind.

There dwells in each of us the potential for murder and mayhem - good and evil. We daily foray. We parry and weigh the outcomes. It is a fine line between love and hate; tolerance and rage; life and death; sanity and insanity. Even the cloak of christian charity and forgiveness is thin and tattered comfort against the gale that assails this land of ours. Will we add our venomous breath to that assault? Will we allow our judgement to falter, or can we maintain the grace to meet out justice? Can we take a page from gospel, and forgive them for their crime and ourselves for contemplating in kind?

I have no answer, only questions. I want to know. Where is the edge of madness, that I might skirts it farthest hem, and gods forbid I venture in. If I do, where will it end?

© Perle Champion

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Check's in the Mail

Amid the bills, rejected manuscript and the detritus called junk mail, was the check. I am always slightly amazed that people pay me for doing something I love.

As a writer, there is no better assignment than that of book review. First, I get a book to read and keep; second, I give my written opinion of that book for publication; and third, I get paid.

Usually, I have a list of several books from which to choose including novels, memoirs, histories, or biographies. Once, a desperate editor asked and I said yes to reviewing a small poetry chapbook. Such a small book, barely 27 pages of poems; how hard can that be and the pay was the same as for a full-length novel. I draw the line at reviewing romance; I may redraw that line to include poetry chapbooks. Although few pages in length, it is by far the toughest review I do.

Don’t get me wrong. I write poetry; I love to read some poetry – the operative word here is ‘some’. There’s more to poetry than rhyme and meter and often, quoting the exact lines is the only way to get across the atmosphere of a piece to my reader.

Reviewing a novel is somewhat subjective, but a novel has a plot, protagonist, antagonist and a story that is either entertaining or not. Poetry, on the other hand, is totally subjective. Here we have the interior dialogue of a poet with words distilled to mere essence and imagery. I read and reread and reread, the few pages to steep myself in the poet’s idea of themselves and their world before making the first note. Page length becomes irrelevant.

I earned this check and then some.
© Perle Champion

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Ingredients

Use the best ingredients, pay attention to detail, and savor every morsel. Good advice for preparing any meal, is good advice for living life.

Am I a Writer? I say, yes, and that’s the only opinion that matters to me. I write. I always have. I’ve written for others. I’ve written just for me; four boxes of old journals on the top shelf of the storeroom attest to that. I’ve sold my writings, but there are novels and stories and poems filed away along with their rejection slips in my studio’s lone filing cabinet that may never see print.

Am I an Artist? A Photographer? I say, yes, and that’s the only opinion that matters to me. I paint and draw and take photographs. I’ve done them all for others. I’ve done them all just for me. I’ve sold many paintings and some photographs, and many more languish in a portfolio on the top shelf of the coat closet.

The only opinion of me that matters to me is my own. If I can look in the mirror and like and respect the Woman I see there, it is enough. That belief has drawn considerable fire from friends, family and foes alike for most of my life. Now, I have company.

Lately I meet more and more like-minded women. Women, who at 40 and 50 suddenly asked why not, instead of why. It’s as if they’ve crossed some magic boundary in their lives and now they’re making up for lost time in pursuit of their authentic selves. Now ask, “why did I wait so long? Is it too late? Can I become myself at this late date?” Just say, yes, and that is the only opinion you need. Life’s banquet waits; the choices are yours.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful for the banquet that is life. I can choose from the bounty and savor my choices. I joined the Blogosphere recently and what an adventure it is. I can find homes for words that have too-long languished in boxes on a shelf. I’m mining those old journals for timeless topics. I’m posting old and new poems on’s poetry groups and

I’ve decided to give this Blog a Mission Statement:
That Mission is to Savor Life and bring others along on my journey, while encouraging them on journeys of their own.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Writing and Partying

Saturday again. Not blogging much, as most of my time is taken up with two things.

1. My Novel - I hit 34,011 words and counting this morning in spite of a slight hangover. I’ll be updating my NaNoWrimo profile later today. I’ll make 50,000 words by midnight of November 30 if not a little more, and then the real work begins – edit, rewrite, flesh out (50,000 words does not a novel make). I’ve gone through this before in 04, 05, 06, but I’ve yet to feel any of my endeavors are ready for primetime except perhaps in my daydreams.

2. Partying – I’ve been making the rounds of the season’s open houses, gallery openings, etc. Thursday, it was Loretta Goodwin’s ‘Tiny Treasures’ show and last night was Maralyn Wilson’s and Naked Art.

Jasmine (cat) is alternately lounging in the old black rocker by the heater or out on the balcony, which I’ve already sheltered against winter with some great clear vinyl from Hobby Lobby. It’s nice to sit here by the double windows at my laptop and occasionally look out across the balcony to the rain of yellow leaves on both sides of the street.

I’ve downloaded some of the photos last night’s opening. At Maralyn Wilson's - A window full of mouthblown glass ornaments, Metal Christmas tree (below)

Entrance to Naked Art Across the street (right).

At Zoe's vintage store: Gorgeous antique evening purse and cat on couch who could care less. (below)

Back to the novel - later...

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Walking at six on a Saturday morning is pleasant especially now that the air is cool and crisp. Summer’s finally loosed her hold on Birmingham. Its miasmal humidity is now heavy dewdrops strewing diadems on leaves, fading blossoms, and blades of grass.

Most of my neighbor’s windows are still dark; it appears that I am the only witness to the day’s dawning. As the sun lifts night’s veil from the city, I walk out my door and turn northeast on 14th Avenue toward the part of town we call Southside. There are houses, apartments, small businesses, the SouthSide Police precinct, a wonderful old house restored and housing a B&B, restaurants, and more.

At 21st way, I turn left down Highland past the Western grocery store where I’ll stop on the backside of my walk and pick up coffee beans and maybe a decadent breakfast of bacon biscuit and grits. Five miles takes me by silent offices of attorneys and architects; churches and synagogues; restaurants cleaning up from the night before and Starbucks just opening to a waiting crowd and putting out the outdoor tables; people running themselves or walking their dogs; the Golden Temple Health store receiving goods through a darkened door; the post office with a single light on in the back where a few postal workers sort the day’s mail.

When I crossed over red mountain expressway, I looked down on the few cars of souls that either work on Saturday or are just getting off and going home. The sound of cars recedes to a soft surf-like sound, as I leave the overpass behind and head for home.

The sky is blue and the fall sun is politely warm knowing winter is just around the bend, and no longer can he beat on us unmercifully. To each season…

Home, up the stairs and put the coffee on, a quick shower and then a little time on my balcony porch swing to contemplate my blessings, pat cat and write a while in my journal…

Life is good.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I sometimes feel like Alice
bewildered and amazed.
One moment I am ten feet tall
the next I am so very small
hardly there at all.
Too bad I wasn’t given a script
what to do and how to do it
what to say and who to say it to
It’s all improvisation, and I have to
make do, muddle through
for me and you.
© Perle Champion

Which way did the rabbit go?

Friday, October 19, 2007

There’s No Place Like Home - Journal Entry

Home, but I am still haunted by the Estate Sale.  How does one write away this day? The wine runs warm in my veins, as I wander from room to room. I touch the embroidered duvet that holds my down comforter on the futon that is my bed.

I glance and smile at the small altar with flickering candle in the corner of the room, touch the bar by the kitchen where I sit most mornings and sip coffee from an old gilt-edged cup, eat breakfast and pat cat who sits on the stool beside me. I remind myself as I pass through the dining room, that I really should refinish the pub table and chairs someday. I’ve been going to do it for 10 years.

The old couch in the living room – comfortable from day one – is still sturdy, if a little worn. How many books have I read curled up in one corner of it or another? The bentwood rocker, where I rocked Dawn, now grown and gone her own way, is now the cat's favorite perch. She leaps up and settles to rock and then does it again and again. I pass the old chair made of 2X4’s with a macramé seat holding a queen-sized pillow in red silk slip. I made it for my first apartment. A single mom at 18, I could just afford a real bed for the kid and not much for me. The large glass coffee table strewn with memories on its second shelf: mouth blown glass fishermen’s’ floats collected at the beach so long ago, a wizard carved in wood with a staff in his hand, my very own crystal ball and far too many books.

I make my way to and through the French doors to the table and chair on the balcony. It’s wrought iron and wooden with canvas covered seats I made myself. I sit, pen in hand to blank page to write away the day and nothing comes.

How does one write away a day like this? To know that all my treasures will one day be another’s trash. I cannot get this morning’s estate sale out of my mind.

The house was just over off Elm and Monroe – the big pink monstrosity Ba and I so often joked about. We’d gone to many such sales. The elderly in this quiet Virginia-Highland neighborhood are of an age where deaths are frequent. Today’s sale in the old pink house was different. The old woman sat there at the table next to her daughter and the woman running the sale and watched with eyes glazed and knowing, as we strangers fingered first this, then that.

How must she feel to watch all she owns and holds dear parceled out at pennies on the dollar – sold to strangers? How many family dinners did she prepare on that old stove? Which of the handmade aprons on the rack at a dollar apiece did she wear and wash and iron with care most often? How many children’s tears did she wipe away with its hem? How often was each one blessed with cookie dust and messy-mouthed hugs?

I know we shouldn’t be slaves to possessions – mere things mean nothing – I wonder.

The iron bed in the corner of her bedroom looks so very old; its tired mattress has a hollow place down its very center. Once she lay with a husband there and perhaps birthed and nursed this daughter sitting beside her – now grown, gavel in hand – going, going, gone.

Without a biographer for our lives, all we leave behind are things that chronicle our passage. But few will know and fewer remember, if I don’t tell them, the importance of each piece. I say importance, but their only value is to me – they are a gentle prod to memory of a life lived. It is the memory that is dear to the soul. Sell them or give them away when I’m gone – when she’s gone. But to have her sit and watch – how cruel is that?

The thoughts were there this morning, as I walked from room to room in that house. I knew what I would write – the words flowing through my head sounded so profound. But as I sit here now with pen in hand, as night creeps toward me, those words have fled on down the road as if they’d never been – perhaps to someone who would give them immediate attention and not dawdle over other things.

Now of the thousand thoughts I had this morning, all are gone and I sit here with an empty page and fill it with feelings roughly cobbled into word after word hoping to shake loose a few gems still lingering somewhere deep within that would end this piece brilliantly. But I have none of my own; I can only think of that line from a childhood movie.

"There's no place like home."

© Perle Champion

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Power of Ritual - Kicking Leaves – One of Fall’s Simple Pleasures

I noticed the leaves last night, as I sat at writing by the balcony window of my aerie. Every breeze blows them in a golden yellow rain past my window.

I walked out the door this morning and the golden leaves lay on the sidewalk swept into little mounds by nature’s own broomstick – the wind.

I couldn't resist; I didn’t even try. I walked through each mound, kicking leaves as I went about my morning walk. I watched them scatter and take flight one last time – blown here and there by the insistent wind. It is a ritual of the season.

“You’re having too much fun for a grown-up.” The voice from behind startled me from reverie. I turned to see a white-haired suited man with shiny shoes carefully walking around or over each mound of leaves.

“No such thing as too much fun.” I answered. “And harm none, do what you will, and I will have fun.”

A simple thing like kicking leaves triggers memory and takes me back to all every Fall that came before. I feel sheer joy in the crisp air that rouges my cheeks. I can actually hear the cacophony of colors and sounds amplified through time, and I am there again far away and long in that invincible childhood.

Winters invited abandon. I lay flat out in boundless snow, arms akimbo then fanning out arms and legs leaving traces of angel’s wings and robes. Spring brought warm rains to walk in with or without an umbrella, puddles to jump in, and new flowers to pick. Summer’s arrival called for swimming holes still cold, running through sprinkles in the yard, and laying in the yard late a night hoping for a shooting star.

Fall was all about the leaves, a rain of colors - yellow, red and russet. I caught the leaves as they fell; jumped from the porch into the carefully raked mountain of their colored splendor; and ran down the sidewalk scattering them asunder – kicking leaves. Fall was so much fun then.

The ritual is still a pleasure. I carry pressed in memory all the Falls that came before, and all the leaves I’ve ever seen, smelled, or held.

It is one of many rituals to celebrate the passing of seasons. When there are enough leaves to kick, I walk and walk for miles, kicking leaves and looking at trees, and smelling the very change in the air. Fall is here, and Winter can’t be far behind. At home, it is time to rake the leaves and bank them up around the base of plants and trees to warm and feed the roots so they will winter well and bloom again in Spring. The leaves lose their brilliant colors in the service of the garden, except in memory held close until this time next year, which will find me once again kicking leaves.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Book Review Monday - The Letter – By: Richard Paul Evans

It’s coming on that time of year – the Holidays. There are movies I watch, and a few books I revisit. Richard Paul Evans' first 3 books are on that list.

The Letter – By: Richard Paul Evans – Reviewed by Perle Champion
First published in Birmingham Weekly

‘The Letter’ a good way to tie up ‘Christmas Box’ trilogy

This is an old-fashioned moral tale. Questions are raised; bad things happen to good people; lessons are learned; and love is the message. Think It’s a Wonderful Life, and you instantly know what I mean.

In The Letter, Richard Evans tells a story that tugs at parts of our hearts we don’t often acknowledge. It is the final book in The Christmas Box collection. All three books are good reading, but I liked The Christmas Box best.

The Christmas Box introduces us to MaryAnne Parkin, an aging widow whose bittersweet memories haunt her nights and harry her days as she tries t convey the true meaning of Christmas and life to a young couple and their daughter.

In The Timepiece, book two in the collection, we meet MaryAnne as a young woman in trouble, who is rescued and married by the wealthy businessman, David Parkin. Before the novel’s end, their idyllic life is torn asunder by bigots of the time because of David’s good deed. He saves his friend Lawrence, who is black, from sure death by lynching.

In The Letter book three, we enter the Parkins’life when love seems a fading memory. They are two people living solitary lives together until MaryAnne can’t stand it any more and goes back to England where she was born. She leaves behind a letter and The Letter. The letter, mysteriously left on the grave of the Parkins’ only child, leads David in search of the mother who abandoned him when he was six. He doesn’t find her, but he does find himself and realizes that is what he was looking for all along.

Crisis brings MaryAnne and David home to sit by the bed of their dying friend, Lawrence. David remembers Lawrence once likening love t a tree that needs taking care of. David realizes that love needs nurturing and that, like a tree, neglect is its death knell. MaryAnne and David rekindle their love and fall back into the blissful days of their early life together until real life intrudes once again.

Bad things do happen to good people but good people do go on. I wish Evans ended his story on a more upbeat note, but he has an agenda – moralists always do There is no gathering under the tree at the end here, and no bell rings when Evans’ angel gets his wings.

Note: Evans has a brand new book out Called the Gift – It’s on my list of books to review next month.
Excerpt from his website: The Gift - “The Bible says that God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. My story is about one of God’s weak things. His name is Collin, a frail, beautiful little boy with a very special gift.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Some Beach, Some Where

I ran away today. When the sun didn’t come, I sat back on the sheltered balcony and watched the clouds pour forth to wash fresh my world. The steady din of rain upon the roof of this small place is a song, one of many that I love. The storm passes and I’m free to walk on.

All the sounds of life surround me: the wind rustling the long grasses, gulls flying low and calling to me hopeful for a crumb, and the surf, the ever-pounding surf. The surf pushes and pulls me as I walk through its flow, shoes tied and slung across my shoulder, bare feet on sand leaving a fleeting imprint on the strand

I meander from the water to the strand and back again – one mile becomes two and then three and more. The water is so cold at first, as I walk through the surf. Slowly, the cold becomes simply something I am aware of just as I feel the texture of the sand and feel the breeze blow my smock out behind me like a black sail. I keep to my pathless path and continue into the wind. The sail does not direct my course.

I’m not sure what the locals think – I know they stop and stare. They are all bundled against the elements, so careful to stay dry and warm – it is a chilly day. I’m not totally foolish; I have three layers of tops on: a turtle neck and sweatshirt and my black sweat smock (albeit, unbuttoned) down to my bare knees and damp rolled up shorts.

I could not resist the water, so off came the shoes and socks. The Sperry’s would have survived the salt waves and sand, but then they wouldn’t be dry for later. The socks are stuffed in their toes and the leather laces tied in a bow across my shoulder. I can walk freely barefoot and feel the earth beneath me.

I look down at the tan feet with red polished toenails just beneath the water, as if they belong to someone else. Perhaps they do – I feel renewed, reborn – not quite the self I was when I arrived. It is hard to explain how clean I feel; how so much washed away with the ebbing tide; how small and insignificant everything becomes when I walk alone along the oceans edge and face the awesomeness of it all.

The horizon is all water now and the only shoreline is the one I tread. Civilization, for the moment is so far away.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Book Review Monday - Encanchaata

Enhanchata By: Robert Ely – Reviewed by Perle Champion
First published in First Draft Magazine

Robert Ely’s Encanchata is a very slender book of poems. He begins it with a “Note – Encanchata, also spelled ‘Ikantchati,’ was a Creek Indian village on the high bluffs of the Alabama River near the site that eventually became the city of Montgomery.” The Note sets the tone and sense f place for the poems that follow. As Ely has a law practice in Montgomery; it is that place from which he writes.

The opening poem, “Seed,” has a haunting quality that evokes a sense of the ephemeral that ties the past to our present. “Brown magnolia leaf,/ Young brave’s skidding moccasin/ (Writes no one’s long name)…Did I imagine stream, or/ Did a thought / Of autumn lakes at dawn/ Escape my empty cup?”

In “Affinities,” Ely takes the everyday interaction of anyone, anywhere in work-a-day America, and addresses the space between each of us. That space is the Star of this poem and gives a person pause. The ordinary interactions of people are rendered extraordinary as we consider, “If the instant accident/ That arcs the gap between two bodies/ Is aware of loneliness or love.”

Reaction to poetry is usually visceral, and it should be. Poetry is the personal interior conversation of one person made public. You either relate to it or not. You either like it or not.

There are eleven poems in this slim volume – I like it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Downsized and Looking

It’s been 4 months since Saks Corporate offices closed here in Birmingham. Conversations with co-workers at the coffee pot or in the café are no more. They’ve been replaced with soliloquies and on-line chatrooms. I understand now, why in times gone by people would write ‘Dear Diary’. Besides my cat, and a few phone calls and e-mails, most of my conversations are conducted on the pages of my journal - sometimes transcribed to laptop and now to this my blogspot. My journal is my sounding board, and confidante more now than ever it was before. It is my companion at my corner table at Starbucks, as most of the people I know are either back to work or retreated to full-time mommydom. Either way, I have plenty of time in and around my job search to write and write some more.

I’ve been unemployed before. I was with Complete Health, the HMO, when they lost the State Teachers account to Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and gave a hundred or so of us our walking papers. I was with VNA (Visiting Nurse Association) when they were being mismanaged into bankruptcy – I jumped when I saw the writing on the wall.

The job search has changed radically from the mid 90’s to now. It has become so very impersonal. The largest companies require that you post resumes on their website, and I don’t expect to hear from a person ever. Southern Company’s automated system, sends me e-mails that say my qualifications meet the criteria for a job and I log on and click ‘submit’. I’ve done this 4 times and have yet to get any e-mails asking to meet me in person, let alone hear from that person. Calling them got me nowhere.

There are the companies that won’t tell you who they are and ask that you fax a resume to some number. It may well be a company you would never apply to, but then again, it may be a plummy opportunity – my bet is the former. Anyone who is ashamed to say his or her name might well be someone I’d be ashamed to work for. A thorough job search requires that I leave no stone unturned, so I fax my resume anyway.

Then there are the truly anonymous companies, who hand over the search for new employees to employment agencies. These agencies post vague blanket ads, which to me are the equivalent of the retail industries ‘loss leader’ ads. The job advertised in such glowing terms is always ‘filled’ or no longer available. My bet is it never was available.

There is ambivalence in me. I miss the office and all that it entails, but I love sitting here by the open window conducting my job search, and writing, writing, writing. I send out resumes, search the jobsites, drop into the chats, send out poems to some literary journals, post my blog, and work on my long neglected novel. I could get used to this, if only there was someone down the hall at the coffee pot to chat with now and then.

Visit me at:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Where Oh Where is My Cell

Where, oh where, is my cell phone? I panicked, as I was dressed and ready to walk out the door for my early morning 5-mile hike. Dial the number and follow the ring I told myself. There it is, faint, maybe the balcony. As I rushed to the balcony, it got louder and louder, then stopped before I could find it. It's o:dark:thirty in the morning, the light's blown out, and I can't see a thing out here.

Well, it's here somewhere. Dial the number again and surely, I'll find it next try. After all, I’m already on the balcony - right. There it goes - darn, it's right here somewhere, maybe it fell between the walls. I lean down and look under the table in the corner and it gets really loud before it turns off again.

Rats, I was really close. One more try, and I'm rearranging furniture chasing the elusive ring tones. I'm about to try one more time, when my pocket starts beeping loudly at me. I reach in to retrieve my errant cell to find I have 3 missed calls.

I really need to drink a serious cup of coffee before my morning walk.

Vist me @

Monday, September 24, 2007

Book Review Monday - The Blessing Box

I read several books a month and I review some of the newer ones for various publications. I’ll be sharing some of my book reviews with you on Mondays beginning today. Some have been previously published; some have been written just for this Blog. Today a slim book of poems.

The Blessing Box - By: Maria Morrison

Is Maria Morrison’s The Blessing Box a memoir told in poems, or pieces of other lives glimpsed and absorbed into her soul and retold in first person? I don’t know. I do know what reaches me in every poem is the ‘I’, and the ‘My’.

The feeling is most poignant in the poem The Hours: “my mother photographed/the hours we had/each day between /my father leaving the house/and my father returning…I pull them out/to remember what we were/supposed to be.”

In Constellations: “Each night,/crystals of frost form like stars/on our bedroom windows/from our warm breath asking-/When should we go for help? When / can we come back in?”

The lines are simple and straightforward, as a child telling us her secret. We lean close, and say, yes, or oh, no! This is not an easy childhood we are invited to witness. This slim volume is a life told in vignettes stripped achingly bare. It seduces us in the early pages with sunshine and prayer, and then it takes us farther into dark corners and asks us to read between the lines. This is poetry noire It opens up parts of our own soul we do not know we have until a turn of phrase echoes deep and resonates throughout our being and reminds each of us our own fragile childhood and how it shaped our lives.

Morrison wears no rose-colored glasses, as she looks back on her childhood and then at the woman it created. The naked words seem stark with a matter-of-fact and childlike narrative voice that flashes back to past hurts that repeat in each generation. We witness her innocence flee before love that hurts, and her hope hang by a slender thread. In Monastic, she tells us her siblings were each named for those who came before and how the cycle continued, but she ends with, “I am their last./I have my own name.”

I hear an echo of the women in Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club. An-Mei: “My mother not know her worth until too late – too late for her but not for me.” And again, Suyuan to her daughter June “I see you.”

If this is Maria Morrison’s story, it is between the lines that the full tale is told. I read The Blessing Box, and know it’s not too late. I see you; I see me. I have my own name.

First published in First Draft Magazine and posted on
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Friday, September 21, 2007

Laptop in the Kitchen

I love my little laptop. It makes working on the computer so much more fun because it is so flexible. With the remote DSL, I can work on anything anywhere: the balcony, the kitchen, the corner café...

I spent most of the summer on the balcony sipping iced coffee, inputting my novel and watching life go by on the street below.

With cooler weather coming, I’ll spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Of all the rooms in all the homes that I lived in as a child, the ones I remember best are the kitchens. They were always light and warm and cozy, and they always smelled of good things.

As I sit here in my own kitchen sipping my spicy chocolate coffee, the white chili simmering on the stove sends spirals of steam to further fog the kitchen windows as will the jalapeno cornbread later in the day. The aromas, mixed with other scents, take me back in time and I remember those other kitchens – Mom’s.

Coming home from school, each of us children would stop in the kitchen and Mom would hand us a bowl to stir, a pot to watch or onions to chop, cheese to grate. We’d sit on a counter or stand at the stove and share our day with her. She would listen to it all and laugh at the old jokes that each of us discovered new as we grew, and pretend they were new to her, too.

There were five of us, three boys and two girls, and we all learned to cook just by doing and watching while Mom did what Mom always did. She was in the kitchen when we left for school in the morning and she was there when we came home from school, be it 2 or 3 or 4 o’clock. Food for her was not a fast food affair. It was prepared in seemingly infinite diversity from scratch.

Saturdays, Sundays and holidays would find Daddy in the kitchen, too. He’d show us how to flip eggs over-easy and pancakes without a spatula or try a new recipe from one of the big cookbooks with no pictures. Mom would threaten that she’d have to put the stove in the yard and hose it down before she could use it again. Then she’d laugh, sip her coffee and shake her head at some of our misses an messes. I learned a lot about cooking in those kitchens and more about love.

We’re all grown now, and Daddy’s long passed, but we still gather to build more memories. We go to Mom’s or my place, my sister’s or one of my brother’s. Whichever home we gather in over the years, the chores are still shared. We still create new dishes, we stir and chop and mix and taste, and recall old recipe successes and failures. Or, we just pull up a stool to the kitchen bar and chat, sip our coffee or tea, a glass of wine or a beer and discuss the small matters that make up our lives: the new car, in-laws, ex’s, jobs, and whether it will rain tomorrow. We remember some various Christmases and Thanksgivings by the food we made. “Remember that yellow squash cornbread dressing that was so good, or the wild rice ring that let go its Portobello gravy center before it made it to the table?”

We set the table, say the blessing, pour the wine and break the bread and after the meal is over, we linger, sated before empty plates, loathe to break the circle. © Perle Champion