Monday, December 22, 2008

The Ball - and the band plays on

Should Obama really have an extravagant inaugural Ball? YES, HE SHOULD!
Should the President buy $300 a bottle wine for a state dinner? YES, HE SHOULD!

Note to the Media: Enough with the negative vibes, already! I am tired of the media’s broken record, “in these tough economic times, should (fill in the blank) be spending so extravagantly:

Yes!!! They should spend it if they have it. If the haves of our world hoard what they have, the times will get tougher. I assure you of that.

Too many are too quick to judge badly the extravagance of a person, event or thing. Why? They envy the thing, and the people who can afford it, so they assume that ‘holier-than-thou posture’ I so hate.

Consider how many people, who drive the economy, benefit from the Ball.
• The entire food industry.
• The wine industry.
• The liquor industry.
• The florists.
• The venues for the Ball and peripheral events.
• The caterers.
• The truckers that deliver everything.
• The servers, bartenders, cooks.
• The retailers that sell the gowns, shoes, tuxedos, jewelry.
• The cab and limo companies and their drivers.
• The police officers on overtime.
• The extra security staff.
• The maids and janitors that clean the premises when the party’s over.
• And on, and on,
• etc.,
• and on…
Consider further that every person who earns spends, so the ripples go far beyond the pool of jobs directly involved in this historic event.

By all means, spend it and bless you for not hoarding it. Give people the opportunity to earn their way and most will take it quickly and gratefully rather than put their hand out for a dole.

I often think the naysayers who denigrate extravagance are just jealous that they have neither the means nor the inclination for such generosity. They want to take from the haves of the world and give it to the have-nots, as if being wealthy is a crime and poor a virtue.

I am unemployed at the moment, but I don’t now, nor will I ever want a redistribution of wealth. I want the right to create my own wealth. It’s the American Way.

© Perle Champion

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pansy - Not such a Lightweight

Why do they call a wimpy person and/or effeminate man a Pansy? Slang dictionaries say that inference is first recorded in 1929. Don’t know who coined the term. It could not have been a gardener, nor does anyone who uses the term thus, know anything about a 'Real Pansy'.

On my morning walk a few days ago, the weather was a balmy 30-something, and I noticed that the landscapers had been out replacing summer plantings with Pansies.

The Pansy is deceptive in its fragile beauty. It is the choice of gardeners when the temperatures head toward freezing. I’ve dusted snow from the beauties more winters than I can count, and so have many a northern gardener. The blizzard of ’93, I carefully shoveled 3 feet of snow from the beauties in my front yard.

So, if anyone ever calls you a Pansy, say “Thank you. That is one beautiful and sturdy flower, and I’m thrilled you think of me so.”

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Jasmine feels betrayed, and lets me know it. The morning started as always. She dashed down the hall ahead of me and sat on the sill waiting for me to open her little door to our balcony. It’s early morning and my first tasks are all cat-related: put food in one bowl, pour fresh water in the other, and open the door to the balcony.

Moments later, she is back inside, and staring at me as only a cat can - it's 35 outside. The odd ‘meorrow’ seems to ask accusingly, ‘what have you done to the weather’. She stares out the window and ventures out once or twice more before walking haughtily down the hall to lie on the leopard comforter at the foot of my bed. I keep a heating pad on low there beginning with the first day that dips under 40, just for her between the covers. I never run the central heat, so the bed is pretty cold when I first get in it around midnight. I put my feet under the spot with the heating pad just long enough to take the chill off and allow the down comforter to return my heat to me. Jasmine curls up on top of it for most of the night. She’ll visit it throughout the day as she determinedly goes out to see if things have changed. This afternoon, she'll be rewarded, as 70 is the predicted high, but soon winter will settle in in earnest and I'll be in for some seriously disdainful looks.

© Perle Champion

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Brrr – 30-something this morning, but I walked my 5 just the same. Had to wear my shorts over leggings though for the pockets. Left pocket holds a small tablet with pen clipped to it - It’s a given that wonderful thoughts and ideas come unbidden when we walk or shower or drive. The thoughts are so fleeting that if I don’t capture them in the moment, they’re gone leaving only a yearning behind for what I cannot quite define. I’ve learned the hard way, to stop what I’m doing and get it down on paper then and there.

The same holds true for pictures, so the other pocket carries my small digital camera. This morning it was the sunrise on 17th Street that took my breath away. The streetlights were still on, as the clouds lit to brilliant gilt-edged pinks heralding the sun. The picture does not do it justice, but I think you get the idea.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another Easter: Journal Entry

It’s Easter Sunday, and I sit here on my balcony, my aerie. It’s just me, the cat and the Sunday paper with our view of Barnett Street and Ponce de Leon Street in the distance. The sun arrived at noon and Sabrina, being a cat preens her star white fur in its warm brilliance. I sip the last of my morning coffee, take a bite of rye toast spread with Brie and read “Peanuts” first.
A young couple and their three little girls are walking down the street. Their clothing says church: suits, hats, ruffles, and bows. Across the way, an elderly couple gets out of their car. A young woman runs out of the apartment house, camera in hand calling out, “Mom, Dad, wait. Let me get a picture by the car.” She snaps them, then Dad snaps one of Mom and her, then Mom snaps one of her and Dad. They all go into the apartment. Her neighbor is watching from his front porch. He takes another drag on his cigarette, stretches in the sun and returns to his paper.
My sister is preparing ham and all the trimmings for her mother-in-law. This will be the last year she does that. The old lady is dying.
Last night at John and Judy’s house, we cooked out and ate and drank and talked and Judy dyed eggs. They have no children, but Judy always dyes eggs. It takes her back she defends, “Because, that’s what you do at Easter, isn’t it?” Today, she’ll be taking her husband, John, and the eggs to her Mom’s and Dad’s in Birmingham.
My Mom is in Birmingham, too, but she works today and my sister will spend the day with her husband and his dying mother. One of my brothers is in the Bahamas with his wife and her family, the navy brother is stationed in the Philippines and the oldest works nights, so I am sure he is sleeping as I sit here.
I used to dye eggs, too, and go to church and fix the Sunday ham, but the child is gone now. I have no obligations now, except a few phone calls. I take another bite of Brie on toast, sip my first Mimosa and read “Parade Magazine” next.
© Perle Champion

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Winter Southern Style

The groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter, which would take us to March 15. As snow covers the ground and continues to fall here in Birmingham, Alabama this morning, it would appear that he was right. For this moment, it is winter.

This is the South; however, and winter is a now and then, here and there sort of thing. Today there is snow, but yesterday was just a mild breezy day and the day before that the temperature went from early morning 34 to 70 in the afternoon. I ate lunch at a picnic table by my office at the Colonnade and enjoyed the sun.

The weathermen are holding court as if this is a blizzard; it is not. There’ll be no TV to speak of this morning. They’ve preempted the Today Show and Good Morning America. I may get the Early Show, as the CBS folks are a little more sensible and give us a weather strip at the bottom of the screen. No matter, I’ve turned it off.

I walked amid the snowflakes before dawn this morning, and snapped a few pictures of this transient white wonder of nature, and went out again at daybreak. The snow is patchy at best with the grass showing through. The city streets are wet, not slippery. The freeway overpasses are another story, but I’ll not venture there until the veiled sun does its job of thawing them. Even now, it's playing peek-a-boo through the clouds.

So the groundhog was right. We’re having 6 more weeks of winter, but here in Birmingham, we’re having them Southern style – here and there; now and then.

Tuesday, it’ll be 62 and Wednesday 67 and sunny, so I’ll be back in shirtsleeves. This is my kind of winter. This is winter Southern Style.

Perle Champion, University of Texas at San Antonio fine arts major, currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama’s colorful Southside, writing, painting, attending art openings, cooking, reading on the porch swing, and writing. Published in Birmingham News, Birmingham Weekly, Birmingham Arts Journal, Daily Mountain Eagle, First Draft Magazine, and Bantam’s Sneak Peek website.;;

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Writing and Flow

The daily urge to write is one I must pretend some days for awhile until it comes naturally – today is such a day. There are times when I lose it entirely, and I know the only way to get it back is to just do it. Like so much else in my life, I want back the days of flow, when ideas come so fast my pen’s speed is hard-pressed to get the words down. I wonder at the fallow field of my mind just now, perhaps it follows the seasons. Winter** now, the grass is brown, trees are poised for budding but barren still of the color I know will show the end of bone chilling cold.

I’m rewriting/editing my novel. It is sapping the energy for new work from me, this reworking of old words, strengthening plot, polishing dialog, and filling out the shallow places. It is taking a more focus from the rest of my life than I thought it would. If it were not for my “Morning Pages” ala Julia Cameron, which I write faithfully in my journal every morning, there would be little new and nothing to post on my various blogs. Fact is, some days those 3-5 pages are so banal, they will never see posting anywhere. They will stay safely hidden between my journal’s red leather covers guarded by dragons as will the rest of this rambling.

**As for Winter, this just in: PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. — Brace yourself for more wintry weather. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Saturday, leading the groundhog to forecast six more weeks of winter.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Don't Take Anything Personally

I’m a pretty straightforward person. I say what’s on my mind – to the point with little embellishment. ‘Don’t ask my opinion unless you really want it’ is my usual warning to people. One co-worker actually came to me once and said, “I’ve asked everyone else, and they just tell me what they think I want to hear. I know you’ll tell me the truth.” I did.

Unfortunately, some people take my bluntness personally - almost as a personal assault. Some stew over honest words, and blow them up out of all proportion. I wish all those folks, they know who they are, would read a page from the Toltec Book of Wisdom. Number 2 of the 4 agreements states: “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others say and do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality…When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

It’s a lesson I learned long, ago in yoga meditation practice. The only opinion of me that matters to me is my own. As long as I can look in the mirror, like and respect whom I see, it is enough. I have met so many people in my 58 years on this planet. I’ve been called many things: some kind, some unkind, some true and some blatant lies. I always remind myself, and sometimes it’s been hard, that the things said are all about the sayer and have nothing to do with me.

This is a list of the Four Agreements.

Agreement 1
Be impeccable with your word - Speak with integrity...

Agreement 2
Don’t take anything personally - Nothing others do is because of you…

Agreement 3
Don’t make assumptions - Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want...

Agreement 4
Always do your best - Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nature's Lullaby

1/29/08 - 11:00 p.m.
The hill behind my home is called a mountain by the locals, Red Mountain. Perhaps they call it so because its bones are stone and minerals instead of just plain dirt. It is tall but not very – just tall enough to catch the winds that came with this night’s storm. Through my open windows I hear wind roaring across its crest. It sounds like a distant rough surf or a never-ending train. I can see the lights of the TV stations along the crest, and I’m sure they are broadcasting even now how there are blackouts across the city. I’ll hear the replay sometime tomorrow morning; right now my power is out. I heard the transformer blow on that mountain, and I wonder that it is my lights that are out and not theirs.

I sit here at my laptop with a fully charged battery, a glass of wine at hand, enjoying the ambient glow of candles in my hearth and oil lamps bright enough to read by here and down the hall. It’s rather pleasant actually, and once I’ve finished this blog, I’ll take my lamp and glass of wine out onto the balcony before the temperature takes its predicted plunge. Just because I can work, doesn’t mean I must. I want to soak in the rare moment of the darkened neighborhood with only the sounds of the wind on the mountain and the occasional passing car.

1/30/08 - 7 a.m.
It got colder around midnight, so I battened down the hatches. Lamp in hand I remembered to turn off light switches, as I made my way to bed. Once there, warmly ensconced betwixt and between down pillows, feather bed and comforter, I opened Evanovich’s ‘Plum Lucky’ and chuckled my way through two chapters. With laughter as my nightcap, I was ready for sleep; blew out the flame of my lamp, snuggled deeper into my feather nest; and fell asleep to the sound of wind on the little mountain behind my home.

© Perle Champion

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What Makes America, America?

What makes America, America. That’s the title of Oprah’s show today. It’s a good question. I’ll tune it in at 4:00 cst and watch, but I thought that first I’d answer the question for myself and pose it to you out there.

America to me is being able to get in my car and drive across the borders of 48 diverse and contiguous states and never have to show ID – there are no border guards. America is an abundance of opportunity that at times seems most appreciated by the immigrants for whom it is novel and not the given. I hope I never become so jaded that I take it for granted.

It is the peaceful, if somewhat vociferous, transfer of power of the presidency and other elected offices. It is being able to write and say what’s on my mind and not be arrested for my opinion. It is the rule of law, with all its pros and cons, that gives us a basis for the decisions of our courts.

There is more, too much to list here.

I still tear up when I sing the Star Spangled Banner. Here in the South, I still attend meetings where the invocation is followed by facing the flag in the corner and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with my hand over my heart – and I know what every word means to me.

(c) Perle Champion

Friday, January 18, 2008

Let’s Get Organized - Yeah, Sure!

I’ve read all the articles; I know all the rules. In some areas of my life, I succeed. By the door are 2 terra cotta white wine chillers. They were gifts from some people who know I drink wine, but didn’t pay attention to one small detail. I only drink red wine. I found that their absorptive nature makes them the perfect container for wet umbrellas.

Also by the door is a large basket holding anything that needs to go out the door when next I go out the door to the car: library books, a spare hammer for my mom, magazines to pass along, etc. Across from the door is the entry table. This gets keys, sunglasses, change, outgoing mail, post-it notes and a pen for messages or notes to self to immediately stick on the door, so I don’t forget my take-alongs. The

roomy top drawer holds my purse on the right, and stamps, envelopes, return l abel s, and pens on the left.

Some areas of my life just flat defy organization. My studio is one of them. My

writing space is another. Oh, and then there's the coffee table.

Organization here is a

goal, a carrot, make that, the perfect double dark chocolate truffle, in the distance. No matter how hard I try, I never quite reach it.

It is said that the destination is not as important as the journey, so I'll keep on traveling and reaching for that distant truffle.

© Perle Champion

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Camus Can Keep His Summer - Give Me Spring

A lone narcissus bouquet, fooled by a false winter, blooms in the pale December sun streaming through the window of my aerie. I peruse the White Flower Farms catalog; plan my window boxes; and dream of Spring.

Camus had his invincible summer*, but I have spring. A spring deep inside me that says new things are always possible. Always there is a budding and a potential for the full bloom of life and love and my heart’s desire. A humbug friend of mine says I’ll never grow up. If by growing up, she means giving up the infinite possibilities of life, then she is right.

In the deep of winter on my morning walk, I sense the potential life in the barren limbs of trees just waiting to spring forth. The frosty, crisp, brown grass whispers up to me of verdant futures yet to be.

The narcissus’ on my sill are mute. Do they wonder at the frosty landscape below their safe interior sill? Do they care? I do. They as much as anything, keep Spring’s promise near to the fore in my thoughts, side by side with each dream and each daily chore.

*”In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”

© Perle Champion, is a writer, artist, photographer. Contact:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Here’s to Billy Joe and Jimmy Buffett

Here's to my brother Billy Joe and his Brilliant Strategy.

This morning is a cold, cold winter day; the temperature is in the teens. As I sit here at my computer occasionally cupping my hands around my steaming cup of tea, I feel cold seep through the windows. The local classic rock radio station is playing in the far corner of the living room, when all of a sudden I hear the strains of Jimmy Buffett’s ‘Margaritaville’. I immediately hit the remote to pump up the volume, sit back and let the music wash over me. I am suddenly transported to a hot summer day walking along the white strand of Fort Morgan’s beach. I cup my tea and almost taste the margarita and hear the sounds of surf off the balcony of the house we rented every year on that peaceful beach just down from the Preserve.

Why do I thank my brother for this? Simple. The whole time we were at the beach all those summers ago, he would play Buffett’s music over and over again. One day in exasperation, I asked “Billy, can’t you play anything else?”

He said “Nope, I only take Buffett to the beach. And some day, you’ll thank me for it. Some cold winter’s day, when Buffett comes on the radio, you’ll flash to the beach and it won’t seem quite so cold. It’s like magic.”

He’s right, so here’s to Billy’s bit of magic, warm memories and a nod to Buffett.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Journal - A Conversation with Myself

I’ve put a fresh spiral notebook between the red leather covers of that which is my journal. Through most of my days, my journal is my lifeline, my confidant, sometimes my very sanity. Somehow, committing my life’s trials to the page are my salvation. On the page, I can view my life more objectively; on the page, it is something I can ponder but not dwell upon. Somehow, it is once removed and lends me however briefly a certain objectivity.

If I can offer you one thing to add to your resolutions, it is this. Keep a journal Once a day, put pen to page and write whatever comes to mind, what you are grateful for, what bothers you, what you want from days to come. Turn off all the outside noise: TV, phone, radio, ipod, computer.
Take a little time to have a conversation with yourself. Go back and read what you have written and get a little insight into this unique person that is you – you might surprise and amaze yourself at who you really are.
Happy 2008.