Thursday, December 24, 2009

Angel Memory

She was not the last, but I remember her best – my first angel off a Salvation Army angel tree. I was working temporary at Alabama Power as the century wound down. I didn’t have a lot of money. Back then, I limited myself to $25 per sibling and/or sibling family and Mom; and $100 for my daughter who’s lived in a group home since she was 17.

When the tree went up in the lobby, I thought long but not so hard. I plucked that little white cutout angel with the name Brianna, age five on one side and her wish list with sizes on the other from the tree.

I sent a note along with my Christmas cards that year telling the family of my decision. I explained that as we are all grown, there’s nothing I could buy them that they don’t already have or that they couldn't’t buy for themselves. With the exception of my daughter, they all would get a large tin of my special recipe healthy oatmeal cookies that they love.

I took my extra $125 shopping for my angel. I hadn’t had so much fun shopping at Christmas since my daughter was young. She was 30 then.

I bought the necessaries first - the requested undies and socks, and found the one learning toy requested and added a doll just because. Then I looked for the perfect outfit. I already had the high-top suede boots with a pink rose on the ankles, to go with the tiny pink-rose-strewn black cords and top, when I saw those Dorothy red shoes. I had to have them for my angel, and never mind the budget. If they had had my size, I’d have bought a pair for me, too. They were shiny ruby red patent Mary Janes – “…Oh my…”

My camera was broken, so I have no pictures of all the tiny treasures I wrapped the next morning at work. I put them all in a large Parisian’s shopping bag with a ribbon and Briana’s name attached. I was not alone in my giving. Working on the 18th floor that year, I watched as RH and other executives and their assistants went shopping for all the unclaimed angels on the tree and brought in bicycles, tricycles, dolls and more to make sure every angel on our tree had something under their tree that year.

Smiles and laughter were everywhere amid the bustle to get all the presents wrapped and bows tied in time for the Salvation Army pick-up day. People cheerfully came in early, skipped lunches, stayed late, and dug deeper into not-so-deep pockets to get it done along with all their regular work.

It is not the things we give that matter; they are transient. Deepak Chopra said, “…and in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives.” I hope that my Christmas angel, wherever she is today, has as fond a memory of that Christmas as I do, and the abundance of the universe circulating in her life as it is in mine.

©Perle Champion

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Material Girl Moment

Santa Baby, All I want for Christmas are:
a red leather bag
a red silk nightgown
a red silk camisole
anything silk
anything with 4-wheel drive
crocodile pumps
crocodile loafers
anything crocodile
another pair of loop earrings
black cowboy boots
a big, black velvet rose
a sleeveless little black velvet dress
black high tops
a black leather mini
anything black, really anything
a small convertible
a white cotton slip
a white denim jacket
a white denim skirt with a slit
anything denim – white denim
a treadmill
a spa membership
yoga classes
a personal trainer
lots of books
gift card for lots of books
a diamond ring for my right hand
a magnum of champagne
a diamond ring for any hand
real pearls
real black pearls
a dozen gold chains
a retro watch
an antique jewelry box
antique jewelry
anything antique
anything suede
a cameo or two or six
ballroom dancing lessons
a country house
a country house at the beach
any house at any beach
a maid
not just any kind
a long red skirt
a long red coat
anything red
claret red
a good camera
all new makeup
a makeover
another cat
another black cat
red hair
long red hair
lots of snow
a blizzard of snow... “

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chapter 11 excerpt - Murder is a Primary Color


The small building on the far corner of Law Enforcement HQ campus held only a few offices and a receptionist.

James flashed his badge at the glaze eyed young receptionist, she pushed a button and a panel slid open before them. "Thumb or forefinger, either one." James and then Jadeah touched the panel next to a numbered visitor's badge and pulled it away and clipped it on. To the right of the reception desk was a silver door. James touched the panel and the door slid open. Once inside, all the buttons were sub level. James pressed S-10 and said, "Hang on".

Jadeah's stomach stayed on the ground floor. She didn't think hanging on would have helped.

The doors slid open onto a gleaming white corridor that stretched straight ahead and left and right. They stepped out onto an equally gleaming floor. The air was chill, but that could not fully account for the icy fingers that slowly worked their way up Jade's back. She hesitated and swayed a moment as James caught her arm asking, “Are you okay; what's wrong?”

She shook her head to steady herself and evaluate what it was she was sensing. "I don't usually feel the cold. This is something else." she said to no one in particular, more perhaps to hear her own very live voice in these halls of death.
She shook her head again. "There's so much trauma here, so much input, and....James, they're not all dead."

"Quite right!" a voice behind them boomed and they nearly left their shoes behind as they turned still startled stares to face the voice behind them.

An unlikely source for such a booming voice. A small portly man, with cherubic smile, blowing on too hot coffee in a mug that read, 'Freeze - Hold that thought!'. He took a large bite from the sweet smelling confection in his other hand, and around chews, he looked over the old-style spectacles on his nose and said, "You're expected Detective Jeffries. And my dear psi friend, you are right. They are not all dead. Follow me, Ill give you the grand tour and explain."

Jade could hardly suppress a smile, as she and James fell in beside the small rotund figure, who set them a surprisingly quick pace, as he alternately blew on his coffee and took bites from his sweet.

"The corridor to the left contains our luxury accommodations. People with money who could not face death and so postponed it."

"Postponed?" Jadeah queried.

"Of course, dear esper-girl. There's no guarantee they'll survive the thaw, or that we'll ever have a cure for what ailed them, and we're running out of room. Do we save them indefinitely and turn people away? Do we terminate those who have been here 20 years? Do we wake them and see if they live and ask them if they want to continue to wait? If so, do we negotiate a new price? You see the dilemma, don't you. What to do, what to do? And who will make the decision? Not me, not me. That's just not in the job description. It just isn't."

© Perle Champion

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Before Summer Ended, Did You

Walk barefoot in the grass

Smell every flower you passed

Walk in the rain

Catch raindrops on your tongue

Jump in every puddle you saw

Run through sprinklers

Go to the children’s playground

Swing on the swings

Go down the slide

Sing in the shower

Sing in the car

Sing in the rain

Sing loud


Dance to the radio

Dance with your husband/friend

Dance by yourself

Dance in the rain


Smile for no reason

Give your full attention to a sunrise

Give your full attention to a sunset

Go on a picnic at the beach, the park or in the back yard

Read aloud to another, let them read to you

Go to an amusement park and ride all the thrill rides

Go fishing.

Make homemade ice cream in a Ziploc bag.

Sit outside and sip iced tea.

Make fresh lemonade.

Catch fireflies the let them go

Take pictures of everything

Join FaceBook and share your thoughts and pictures

Eat watermelon outside, and let the juice run all over the place!

Bite into a ripe tomato fresh from the vine

Paint your toenails.

Paint a picture of what summer means to you.

Lay under a tree and watch the wind in the branches

Climb the tree

Watch clouds

Watch stars

Write a letter to an old friend

Keep a gratitude journal

Keep a sanity journal

Keep a journal



Monday, August 24, 2009

No Gilded Cage for This Gilded Cup

(Originally published in Victoria Magazine under another title)
...I broke another one this morning. Now, I’m down to one. I raise it now to sip hot dark amber from its gilt-edged porcelain mouth. Gently, I set it back in place in its own saucer. I am sometimes tempted to put it up – this well-traveled survivor of family treks across England and the United States – but I can’t.
...I don’t remember when mother acquired the china, nor does she. I recall I was six in 1955 when Daddy got orders for England and took us with him. We lived at Wadenhoe House, a Jacobean manor house but a castle to me. There service for six suddenly appeared in our china cabinet one day - cups, saucers, plates and the serving dish.
...I never saw mother take the china from the cabinet; I could look but not touch. It was and still is so beautiful to me. Made in England, the bone china is white and a pale pink, its scalloped edges carefully painted with roses and posies in 22ct gold.
...In 1958, we moved by plane, train, then car to an Air Force base in a small west Texas town called Pyote. When mother unpacked her carefully wrapped treasures, she found one fractured saucer and a broken cup. I thought, how sad, we never used it, and it broke anyway.
Moving every three years took us to Albuquerque, New Mexico then back to Texas. By the time Daddy retired, the china set was down to three cups, four saucers and plates and the serving dish. Still, Mother displayed it with her fine pieces.
...I always asked to use the china when I stopped by for coffee. Mother hesitated at first, but as time passed, I no longer had to ask. One day she gave me the set, saying, “It should be yours. I was afraid they’d break, so I only ever used them once, and still they broke one by one. I know you’ll use it and not be afraid.”
...I’m not afraid, and I do use my things, and now only one cup and saucer, four plates and the serving dish are left, along with numerous pictures and memories.
...I wondered as a child – and fancy still. Could inanimate objects have feelings? If I put this old cup up on a safe high shelf behind glass doors, would she be lonely sitting there day after day – untouched, unused? Would this old cup miss the warmth of French roast coffee or the pale citrine of green tea? Her full bowl delivers the soft scent of teas and the hard edge of European roast coffees.
...Would she miss my touch or my conversation with cat and plant and page? Would she feel less a cup if I put her up? For a cup is what a cup is, or is she less for becoming an object d’art? Should she be declared too old, too precious, too fragile, and so declared, be relegated to the dusty domain of other admired and unused things, to old to be useful.
...No. Perhaps I’ll be a little more careful. I’ll take a few more pictures to remember her by.
There are already pictures of her on the glass coffee table on the balcony next to the porch swing. I have another on the desk with my old glasses and journal and my favorite gold pen. Another shares space with my first cat, Sabrina, on my all too cluttered desk late at night lit by an old lamp. She, filled with tea and my cat in slumber my only company, as I wrote nightly, racing against the dawn that heralded a new day’s duties that would take me from words I longed to write.
...Yes, in her own way, this gilded cup is a comfort and joy – a guardian of golden memories and a priceless companion.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Toast to Amelia Peabody & Elizabeth Peters

Journal except 2/29/09

...Thanks to Amelia Peabody for introducing me to Whiskey & Soda – it really is as refreshing as she said. I was surprised when ...I tried it. She does not mention ice. I doubt they had any in Egypt circa 1894 to 1919.

...Recently laid off, I needed something to occupy me after a long hard day searching for the next job; sending out queries in hopes of a new freelance assignment; painting in hopes of hanging a show soon; and etc., etc., so I picked a prolific author I’d heard about to read from start to finish. I chose Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody series after thumbing through book one: Crocodile on the Sandbank. I read it straight through, and I was hooked. I figured 18 books should keep me occupied for a while. That was October 30th, my last day at Jefferson title. Thank you Elizabeth Peters, and thank you Birmingham public library. I finished book 18, Tomb of the Golden Bird, Thursday, February 15, 2 a.m. as the ice from my whiskey and soda sat melted with only a hint of the drink left behind.

...Obviously, being out of a job, I was not going to be buying anything non-essential. I’m not saying that books are non-essential. Books are essential, but Birmingham’s library system has almost every book I have ever requested. I can order them on line and have them sent to my convenient Southside location – walking distance (gotta get those daily steps in).

...It’s been a pleasant ride. Ms. Peters, with a PhD in Egyptology, weaves her knowledge of Egyptology into the plots so well, I feel I’m getting a bit of archaeological and anthropological knowledge while I'm being entertained.

...Books are doors into other worlds, people’s lives, and experiences. I am sorely tempted to start the series over again from the beginning, just to visit with Peabody and her entourage, again. People wonder (people who aren’t readers) why anyone would re-read books. To me a book is a friend, and re-reading is just like visiting with an old friend. They tell the same old stories, tell the same old jokes, and behave just as they have always done. Comforting, somehow.


© Perle Champion

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Walking in the Rain, Jumping in Puddles.

I walked in the rain this morning to get my Sunday paper; jumped in puddles; caught raindrops on my tongue. I got thoroughly wet except my feet. Had on my LL Bean Duck boots/Maine hunting boots - you know the ones I mean. They are a god-awful orange and murky blue with gum soles, but do they ever keep your feet dry. It’s a love/hate thing.

I’ve never been hunting, never will unless civilization falls and I’m in dire need of food, but I’ve worn those boots in the rain and in the snow. If my feet are warm and dry, I feel invincible in any weather.

Mama always said if your feet get wet, put water on your head, so I imagine the reverse is true. Rather than wet my feet, I jumped in a steamy shower and got wet all over, while the coffee pot worked its magic. Outside, it’s a chill 54 and still raining. I sit curled into a corner of the couch by the window. Still warm from the shower, wrapped neck to ankle in my thick, black Victoria Secret robe; Jazmine lounges on the leopard throw; the Sunday news waits for me to hit post and put my laptop aside, and a steaming cup of spicy coffee is close at hand........ phone's ringing - Sunday 'mom call' - post later.

I love Sundays.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Winter Southern Style

I walked in the snow at sunrise to get my Sunday paper. The clouds were so low, dark, and dense, I could not see the top of that small rise the natives call Red Mountain. I caught snowflakes on my tongue, and was grateful when I turned the corner and the wind was behind me. The outward journey had near frozen my nose and cheeks - the only exposed parts of my anatomy.

I’d put the coffee to brew before heading out, so on my return the aroma met me at the door. I warmed a quarter cup of chocolate Silk soy milk in a large mug and filled the rest with my spicy coffee (I add a dash of cinnamon and cayenne to my fresh ground beans).

The kitchen was warm as I’d turned the oven on to take the chill off, but I wanted more, so I started some black beans with garlic, onions, cumin, coriander and a bay leaf on the back burner - there’s nothing like the aroma of a bubbling pot on a cold winter’s day.

I sat on the bar stool of my kitchen bar and sipped my spiked chocolate silk coffee. As I pulled out the funnies and parade, I opened the window just enough to inhale the crisp air and feel the falling snow a fingertip away. I sipped my coffee and looked at Vulcan just barely visible in the distance. The paper could wait. It would still be there when this fleeting wonder of nature stops and fades to memory and a few digital photographs that cannot begin to capture the magic of it all.

The sun is out now. The street below my aerie window is almost dry. Where this morning, I needed hat, gloves and scarf and heavy coat to brave my morning walk, I just went to the store next door with a cardigan and beret.

It’ll be in the 60’s by Wednesday and the 70’s by Friday. Winter Southern Style – it's a fleeting thing.

© Perle Champion

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blogging for Money

Blogs. Some people make money at them. The thing about my Blog is it is a briefer version of my hand-written journal. My rambles on the page are better not aired to the world at large. Not that even a minuscule number of the world has read my Blog, but one never knows. My full name is unique and ‘Googled’, it brings up pretty much everything I’ve ever written on or off the web and some I know I erased.

The thing about Blogs is they should have a focus, and mine, alas, does not. Except for those know me and stop by just because, my Blog is obscure to the population at large.

The thing is, I’m a “Jack (make that Jane) of all…”. My interests range from quantum physics, Wicca, self help and biographies people, places and things to various genre of fiction: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Literary. My bookshelf is quite a mix. I’ve read the Self Aware Universe, The Elegant Universe, Spontaneous Healing of Belief, The Secret, and The Chariots of the Gods. I’ve read Amsterdam, Chocolat, Mother of Pearl, Mists of Avalon, The Harry Potter, Lord of the Ring, and Foundation (Asimov) series and so much more. In May 2007, laid off from Saks, I read all 12 of Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series and all 11 of Laurie King’s Mary Russell series before year’s end.

It is the same with music. This morning I have Habib Koite’s “Maya” coaxing my muse. Sunday, it was Pavarotti and Bocelli followed by Nina Simone. My CD shelf is a mixed as my bookshelf, but you get the picture. I am not just one thing, so I’ll probably never have one of those money-making Blogs. Those Blogs, near as I can figure, make money by teaching others how to make money Blogging by in turn teaching others how to make money Blogging and so on and so on. The ultimate pyramid, except your payment to your up-line is a one-time deal.

At least with SMC, Nutrilife, and Amway, there is something tangible, for all those who pay to learn the how-to of it, but never do get a round to it.

Now it's time to go work on the Novel.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chinese New Year in Birmingham, Alabama

There was a dragon in Linn Park Saturday morning. The youth held the traditional dragon up with poles and paraded him undulating through the park, preceded by a baton-wielding majorette and followed by drummers and a group of small children in costume and others in jeans.

The procession made its way through Linn Park, down the sidewalk and into Boutwell Auditorium to further perform on the stage. The gathering crowd was grateful to be inside as it was 30something outside.

There were tables set up all around the room.

Some were selling
lanterns, parasols, jewelry. There was also the Birmingham Asian Cultural Center & Chinese Garden Foundation, the Chinese School, and my favorite The Birmingham Chinese Church where a gentleman, whose name I could not understand, wrote my name in Chinese.

am has many faces, many cultures. It was great to see so many of these enjoying the morning's Chinese New Year Celebration.

© Perle Champion

Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama: Writing History

There are times when we know and feel history, as it is being made. It is tangible as it swirls around us in the eddies of current time. It walks with us on the DC mall; it sits beside us on the couch, stands with us near the tracks watching the train; and it will stay with us for all the years of our lives. Take note, for the historians rarely put history to the page as we the people recall it.

Citizen journalists - take to your blogs and Twitter away, so there will be no doubt about the fabric of these times.

This history - let us write it right.

© Perle Champion