Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Darkest Night Passed - Now which way do we go?

Longest night is behind us –Solstice celebrated. 

I lit a myriad of candles around the ladies on the hearth of my faux fireplace, nee altar.  I laid out a few fancy snacks on the coffee table: caviar, tapenade, mushroom pate, crackers and an iced bottle of champagne. 

I sat before the flames, sipped, and nibbled. I reflected on my 2010 with a pen upon my journal’s pages: reviewed my past, considered my present, and drafted my goals for 2011. I won’t finalize them until the new moon plus 1 - January 5th.  
Just as people have planted by the phases of the moon, so I plant the seeds of my aspirations for 2011 for maximum growth. I consider myself an above ground crop best planted during a waxing moon.

The rough draft needs work, and I’ll hone it over the coming days. It’s a combination of goals and bucket list - Some are long range, some are short; some are serious and some not so serious.

With darkest night behind me, the almost imperceptible lengthening of days invigorates me.  It’s a heady feeling to visualize striding into the growing light and lengthening days of a new year knowing that each seed grows according to the care and attention I give it. 

I intend to tend this particular garden better than I did in 2010.

© Perle Champion

Friday, December 10, 2010

Star Light, Star Bright... – The Geminds are Coming

 I remember when I was a child in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Daddy was stationed on a radar site high up on the desert mesa.  I’d lie out on the lawn on warm summer nights, doing nothing, just looking up at the night sky.  Every night, the moon would rise and stroll from horizon to horizon; she would wax and wane; and when she was but a sliver in the sky, the stars would shine brilliant above me.

If I watched long enough, some nights I was gifted with a shooting star.  Someone told me it was not really a star, but it was a star to me.  I would send up a fervent wish for it to grant followed by the childish chant:  “Star light, star bright, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. 

I live in the city now, and stars cannot compete with the city smog and lights.  Still, I can see a bit of sky from my mom’s back yard in the suburbs that is not obliterated by the distant city lights.  I could sit for hours and just stare up at the sky.  The 14th, the Geminids are coming - so many shooting stars to wish upon.  

At its peak the Geminids can produce 60 shooting stars an hour or one every 30 seconds depending on your source, and peaks December 13–14.  Broken fragments from a pseudo asteroid-comet called 3200 Phaethon with a mysterious composition create the Geminids, which become more intense every year.  2010 is a good year to see the them as the moon won't be full enough to detract from the meteor shower visibility. 

So to all y’all out there, gather your wishes and go out after midnight when the moon has set and wish upon a shooting star or two or three or more Geminid shooting stars.

© Perle Champion

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fun Southern Read: Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge

In Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge, Ramey Channell doesn’t narrate as Lily Claire, she is Lily Claire.

For those of you who've had no children, and/or have forgotten what it's like to be one, buckle up. This is not a slow walk of a book. Lily Claire's breathless detailed telling of just about everything that happens in her small world is told as if it was the most important thing in all the world, and you should know it.

Channell steps into Lily Claire's very person and stays there throughout the entire book. You, the reader, are her confidant as she learns of ordinary heroes and ponders the serendipity of life. You are privy to the secret world of a childhood whose freedom few have known and many today would envy.

Around the mysterious map to an imagined treasure she and Willie T find in and unlikely place, she weaves her history and that of all the diverse and sometimes eccentric folks and topics that inform her world. All are treated with that light childish and non-judgmental matter-of-factness that is so refreshing and true to the nature of the very young.

There is no heavy hand here about the "Ku Kluxes'" quick-to-lynch mentality or the superstitious nature of rural peoples that make the white lies Willie T and Lily Clare tell necessary. It's just plain necessary to protect the slow one and the black one in their midst, who are the most likely scapegoats for a crime that was no crime at all.

Channell has the sure cadence of a storyteller that is not only simple, sincere, and to the point, but it's part of the music. Is there music on Moonlight Ridge? Yes, but it is not just played, sung, or spoken aloud. It exists in the steady pace of the story, the people, the laughter, the polysyllabic names, and the language.

Having lived in the South off and on for many years, I didn't need the handy glossary at the back of the book to tell me that "boocoos" means "lots." Just goes to show, that being raised in the South is useful. This book was not just boocoos of fun to read, it is a gentle reminder of my own idyllic summers when every day held the promise of adventure, just like Lily Claire's.

Reviewed by Perle Champion & Published in First Draft Reviews Online, Alabama Writers' Forum, November 2010

Other good reads I've reviewed:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Summer's ending. Did You Finish Your Bucket List?

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.
Sit outside and sip iced tea.
Catch fireflies the let them go
Take pictures of everything
Walk through the Botanical Gardens
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

© Perle Champion

Monday, August 30, 2010

Does a writer really need a niche?

I’ve been hearing the same refrain from many writing quarters out there. Find a niche; find a niche. Arrrrg! If I hear that one more time, I’ll scream.  I’m a generalist therefore I’m nicheless. I have a way with words and always have.  The proponents of finding your niche, say write down what you know best, what you love, what you do then pick one and make that your niche.
I did, but the list is way too long, and I don’t want to write exclusively about any one thing.  I’m a jack-of-all and with serious research and a little help from Google, master of many.
Being a generalist stands me in good stead, as I work for various organizations in diverse industries with different needs.  With each company, I assume a company hat and You and Me becomes We.  At the table, I pose the following questions:

  1. Who are we, and what is our mission?
    Most large companies understand the necessity of a mission statement. Some do not.  If you don’t know who you are and what your mission is, how can you tell others?
  2. How do we want to be perceived and by whom?
    Are you a team player or a specialist, active in the community, a buyer or a seller, warm and fuzzy or strictly business?
  3. What tools do we need to convey all of the above?
    1. Newsletter for your clients/prospects: Print or Electronic, a Blog, Social Media page (Facebook, Twitter)
    2. Newsletter for your employees: Electronic is fine, but print travels home to the family.
    3. Public Relations: The art of getting stories placed in print through press releases.  Stories in a paper are more apt to be read and remembered than the usual business section quick press clips and paid ads. (Link)
    4. Marketing: Materials for the sales team to carry and leave behind with customers, direct mail, print ads and more.

Nothing against writers that believe they need a niche to succeed, but I think that a narrow view is limiting.  There is so much variety out there to know, learn and convey to others, I can’t imagine limiting myself to any one thing. 
If I can help you convey a message for your company, let me know.  I’d love to learn all about you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Insidious Discrimination Against the Unemployed

My Rant of the Day:  Are you out of a job and looking for a job?  According to a report on CNNMoney, if you’re Looking for Work? and Unemployed you need not apply.

I’ve been working for a living since 1971, and I’ve always been able to get a job in a matter of days.  Not so today.  Since being laid off in late 2008, I’ve applied and applied, to no avail.

I told a friend, “It’s a good thing I have hobbies that pay: writing and painting.  I’ve always written for companies and for publication while holding down a full-time job.  I’ve always painted and hung art showings every one to two years.

It’s a good thing for me, but everyone is not so fortunate.  I see on the news and witness around me, the horrible toll unemployment exacts from those who have nothing to fall back on.

The most recent passage of  HR 4213 – Unemployment Compensation Extension Act will help some of them, but not those who have exceeded 99 weeks.  This is the much ignored 5th Tier that was not added to the current bill and is not a front-of-mind  for our legislators.
“…even the most active members of Congress on the unemployment issue say there will be no bill to help 99-ers by adding a fifth tier of benefits…”

What are these  Americans to do? They have exceeded or will soon exceed 99 weeks of unemployment compensation, and are not considered as viable candidates for hire because of their unemployed status.

What can we do.
  1. If you work for and/or make the policy that excludes people ready, willing and able to work because they are ‘unemployed’, STOP IT!
  2. If you are an agency and are asked to discriminate against unemployed citizens, report that discrimination.
  3. The rest of us need to rabble rouse: Blog it;  Tweet it; deluge the White House, Senate and Congress with e-mails, letters, petitions in support of extending HR 4213 to Tier 5 and looking into the discriminatory hiring practices of U.S. companies.
  4. Here is a current circulating Petition
Please sign it and Thanks.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Are all smokers so hyper-sensitive, or is it guilt?

One of my downstairs neighbor’s visiting sister? is a smoker. Like many smokers, she thinks nothing of flicking her butts anywhere and everywhere.

That everywhere happens to be the yard all of us in this 4-plex share. I stopped one day and asked, “I don’t want to offend you, but could you not toss the cigarette butts in the yard. It’s such an eyesore in our pretty yard.

She complied for awhile, but slowly but surely there they were again. I picked them up for awhile; however, yesterday I tossed one up on her porch. Her sister, Jackie, came banging on my door this morning to inform me, “You are rude; you are not our landlord, and you cannot tell us what to do. My sister can throw her butts wherever she wants…”

She was dressed for church, and I’m sure was off to worship, thinking that’s all it takes to be a ‘good Christian’. Do they take their scripture to heart?

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:43)

Jesus was summing up all the law in these two statements. If a person loves the God with all their heart, soul and mind, loving their neighbor is the natural result.

I wonder about folks like that. Do they go to church and pray just to be seen praying? Do they ever walk their talk, or is it just talk.

And, why can’t we all be good neighbors instead of having to ‘call the landlord’, as I am now forced to do come Monday morning.

I have too much stuff

It's time to pretend I'm moving soon, because I really do have too much stuff.  Ten years in this my aerie (top left of a 4-plex), and I look around and realize that I've reacquired new stuff to replace the old stuff I got rid of when I last moved.

The only really minimalist room I have is my bedroom: Bed, 2 nightstands, 2 lamp, dresser and trunk.  Well, there is a vanity in there, but it's for sale.  I'm not the kind of girly girl that sits at a vanity to do her make-up.  It is mostly a dust catcher and occasional cat perch.

And no, there is no TV in my bedroom - never has been and never will be.  The bedroom is for sex, sleep, and bit of reading before lights out. But the rest - OMG.  My book shelves alone, have overflowed to the floor, coffee table, and boxes in the closet.  

I have four closets and a storeroom and they are all full of stuff. I'll have to pace myself, or I'll be overwhelmed and stall out before I begin, and begin I must.

First: The clothes closet is full of clothes I haven't worn in over a year and suits for a life I don't have anymore.  Second will be the books.  I'll keep the favorites - the ones I read and re-read, and I'll keep the necessities - the ones I refer to for my writing.  

Baby steps. I'll decide what's next when those two get done.  I have an art rotation closet (I'm keeping that one).  It's hard to part with art, my own or that of others.

What brought this on? Well this morning while browsing Facebook, I ran across a page called Minimalist Journey, and followed the link to Mark Savage's Blog, and then I started looking around at all 'my stuff'.  

I may not get rid of as much stuff as Mark Savage plans to, but I know the good feeling I get whenever I've downsized in anticipation of a move.  It's been ten years since the last time.  

I have no plans to move in the physical sense, but lightening the load of stuff, will make this place feel like new again. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Seti’s Chronicles - A Rendezvous in the Woods

Excerpt from Work in Progress: Seti's Chronicles - Surviving 2012

The shower renewed me and now I walked the unfamiliar streets moist with sea mists blown in on ocean breezes.  It was a gentle persistent wind and seemed to whisper encouragement as I made my way to the meeting. 

The lavender card in my hand felt warm to my touch and glowed its tiny map with directions that were short if somewhat vague.  I took the turn on the old dirt road and made my way to its end.  I knew the ocean was out there somewhere; I could smell it.  I stopped at the weathered gate that seemed to lead nowhere.  There was no house, just a stone wall guarding an overgrown lot with a battered rusty gate at its center. 

I can't look back.  There is and will ever be only now, and now and then as mists part, I catch glimpses into future realms and rooms, but those rooms are veiled in mist just now, ephemeral.  I want to know what waits; there’s a sense of destiny.  There is only now and that in the field is enough.

I knew all about Cayce's life and what he predicted about the coming Fall.  Other research turned up an assortment of people who believed some day the poles would shift.  I wanted more and this was just more research, a source of more information in that pre-internet world. 
My thoughts rambled.  What was I doing – a woman walking alone in the woods in a strange town at night.  Was I being naive or just stupid.  The gate moved easily and soundlessly and yet I sensed that ears perked at its opening and closing and yellow languid eyes watched from a nearby tree "Whooo, Whooo?"

"Who indeed?"  I spoke to the eyes in the tree, after my initial fright.  "Just me, Seti, and don't ask why? why?  I'm not quite sure myself, Old One."  The owl suddenly took flight and winged away up the small rise ahead.

“Nice to have wings,” I said to his disappearing form as I plodded on up the winding trail.  Following it down dips and over springs and finally to a small lake.  Here the path split left and right.  "Which way?" I addressed the lake having no one else to ask. 

The lake was silent and still, but for the rill of waves from the gentle wind.  "All right, which way Wind?"  I smiled inwardly, planting my feet firmly and wide with arms akimbo.  The smile fled as a sudden gust of wind hit my left side with a force that would have sent her sprawling but for my stance.

"Okay, right.  Thank you," I offered up with a little more respect.  My hair blew wildly around my head, my cloak flapped and wrapped around me and then lay still as the wind fled to the tops of the trees and all around me was calm again.  I plodded on, reflecting on what had just happened, and glanced up at the stirring branches high in the trees and this time along with my warmest thoughts I said, "Thank you for your guidance; I do appreciate your help."

The wind came down from the treetops and gently blew my black mane to merge with black cloak.  Somehow, I could not explain it but I felt safe and accompanied now, as if a friend had joined me on this dark ramble and none would harm me, none would dare.  The moment I accepted that, my feet upon the path felt just right.

Almost a half hour later I came to a copse of huge old Oaks.  The path wended this way and that through their midst and finally I was through to the other side.  I stood on a large green lawn.  The path now large flat stones lead to a large house.   Actually, it looked more like a minor castle, out of place in the this coastal U.S. town.  Somehow I knew it belonged here in this place, at the end of this my path, and so did I. 

© Perle Champion

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Seti's Chronicles - ARE 1988 First Contact

Seti’s Chronicles – 1988
Excerpt from Work in Progress: Seti's Chronicles - Surviving 2012

The ARE (Association for Research & Enlightenment) was open to everyone who wanted to read Edgar Cayce's prophecies, and buy books in the bookstore. I went to Virginia Beach ostensibly for some sun, but spent most days in the library poring over the archives, making copies and copious notes, buying books to take back with me. At night I’d read by a small lamp on the balcony of the small cottage I had rented overlooking the sea.

I was driven and oblivious to everything and everyone around me until one day. A day, forever etched in mind's memory. I felt the stare of someone across the room, and as one compelled, I looked to find its source. She stood just inside the reading room door- small and lean and tan with tawny hair. I met dark eyes and sensed in them and in her mind a question.

She nodded and smiled and I was practically assaulted by her thoughts of "I knew it! I come!" The other crossed the room and stood before me and sat and spoke low, "You're one of us, aren't you?"

"One of who? And, who is 'us', and who are you?"

Flashing teeth and pink gums issued silver-bell laughter that raised heads throughout the quiet room. I liked her there and then in spite of my irritation.

"I am Kiri and I'm a believer and a Witch and I think you are too."

"Oh, what makes you think so?"

Kiri leaned forward, and in a voice turned conspirator whispered, "I'm 'psi'. I read people and things and you do, too. You heard me and answered me, mind to mind. We're having a meeting tonight; please come."

"What kind of meeting? A coven? Thanks, but no thanks. I'm a solitary and I like it that way."

Again the bells of laughter spilled forth, but softer now. She was not offended. "Together we can plan and maybe some will survive the coming Storm."

"Storm? I don't understand."

"That's what we call it. You are researching Cayce's archives and predictions, aren't you? You’re reading John Warren’s book on Pole Shift."

"Yes, I am and I'll thank you to stay out of my mind uninvited. It's an unethical invasion of my privacy, and I don't like it."

No laughter now. Somber eyes met mine. "I don't pry unbidden. You practically broadcast everything you're thinking. I can simply pluck them from the ether as they come forth. You really must learn to put a shield up. We do have spies. We call them watchers. Those who believe in the prophesies usually come to the source. When a new seeker is reported, we seek him or her out, and see if they'll join us."

"Again with us. Who is this ‘us’?"

"Look, here's a card, it'll get you in tonight. We can't really talk here. Please come and then you can decide to stay or go, join or don't join. We mean no harm, but we mean to survive the coming Storm and that takes preparation" With that she rose, handed me a folded lavender business card and walked away. It read, Stormy Weather Enterprises.

I’d been a solitary practitioner since childhood, following the old ways, honoring the mother, the earth, and her seasons. I cast my own circles, walked the spiral path, and followed the only creed necessary, "And harm to none, do as you will." I had to think. I threw everything in the Mustang’s trunk and headed to the beach to walk along the strand. The ebb and flow of it’s primordial soup and my pulse became one.

I walked until twilight, then pulled the card from my jeans as I walked back to the car.

© Perle Champion
Next: Rendezvous in the Woods.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Seti's Chronicles 2012 – Seti, Sister to Glinda.

Excerpt from Work in Progress: Seti's Chronicles - Surviving 2012

Before I could recover, a woman ran up to me and thrust her 3-year-old child into my arms shouting above the mayhem, "You're one of them; you’re one of the Witches; you'll survive; take her, keep her safe."  Then she fled in tears looking back only once to shout.  "Her name is Constance.  Tell her, her mother was Darea and loved her enough to leave her with you. 

Stunned and momentarily rooted to the ground, I watched the woman run into the chaos that was the street.  I shook it off and turned to Kiri as the next shock hit.  The Earth began to shake more violently; the buildings across the street swayed sickeningly and their once sturdy walls became a terrible rain of shattered glass and hail of bricks on those below. 
Holding a whimpering child I, along with and Kiri, found ourselves suddenly sitting and grasping some still green blades of grass to steady us upon the buckling ground.  I voiced what we both knew.  "It has begun in earnest now, and time is dear.  We have to move fast."  The shaking stopped as if on cue, and Earth's roar was replaced by panicked humanity.  "This is just a dress rehearsal, Kiri.  We haven't a moment to lose."

Darea had watched the witches often as they came and went.  She followed them hoping to find out where they went.  The one called Seti always had a kind word, a smile and a wink for Constance that caused the child to giggle as she tried to wink back by closing her big blue eyes tight shut then opening them wide again. 

Seti felt the woman’s, thoughts in the distance as she watched and waited to flee into some subterranean subway shelter, but not until she saw the two witches disappear with her precious girl. Yes, the witch would take care of her little Connie, and now she could live or die knowing her baby was safe.

I shook myself to awareness, smiled at the now quiet child winked at her and said "So be it."  Meeting Kiri eye to eye and mind to mind, we disapperated, and I felt Darea’s satisfied smile.

In moments we stood in the stone hall of the School.  I shook the fog of psi-travel from my head and gazed down at the red-haired child in my arms. "You don't seem the least bit afraid.  You'll be safe here."  Seti had imprinted the mothers mind on her own, so she could find her later.  The brief mind touch told her the woman could and possibly would survive the Fall.  "Time enough for that later,"  she muttered to no one in particular.

Setting the child down, she promptly grasped and held on to my hem.  The childish thought reached us both before the voice could speak, "I'm Constance; mommy said you're Glinda's sister and will take care of me like Dorothy."

"Glinda?"  "Oh, Dorothy's good witch of the North.  Yes," she reassured the child, "you could say I'm Glinda's sister.  We are all Glinda's sisters here.  Mind, and go with sister Alece now.  She handed the child off to the keeper of the youngest children.  Constance's lips pursed to protest, but the look in Seti's eyes warned against it and the warmth flooding into her from Alece's touch invited her and promised good things.  She went quietly looking over her shoulder at me surrounded by her sisters and already giving orders. 

Thoughts had already been flying at light speed, broadcast to all in the room and those far beyond it’s walls.  "Those who aren’t at their appointed places; go NOW.  Join minds and forces and do what must be done to save what can be saved.  HOLD! Hold fast until you receive the all clear, of perish.  The Fall is upon us." 

Many died, many more did not.  That was 10 days ago.   but it really began in 1985, when I was 17, self centered and totally unaware of what was in store fore me.

That girl, that Seti, this is her story and the story leading up to the Fall.
© Perle Champion

Next: The ARE, Virginia Beach.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Seti's Chronicles 2012 – Touch and Go.

Excerpt from Work in Progress: Seti's Chronicles - Surviving 2012

It’s still touch and go, we couldn’t and still can’t save everyone. To try would doom us all. Now the work begins. Little by little, we have to go out into what remains of our world; make contact and piece by piece reassemble society. The old refrain is true, united we stand, divided we fall. Will I live to see it done? Perhaps, some. My calling was scribe, and now we’ve come through the most perilous part of this journey, I can resume that mantle.

Where do I begin, for begin I must, to put our story in some order for the future, for our children, for posterity. I want them to know what it took to bring us through the Fall to here.

The ‘Fall’, so simple a word for that day – so trite. That crisp crystal afternoon just ten days ago stands out in high relief. A winter’s solstice unlike any before and hopefully any to come. The trees whispered to me as I left the park and crossed the busy street to meet Kiri for lunch. Seated at our regular window table with view of Layton Park my inner ear listened to the conversations here and there at the tables around the room.

"Those damn witches" whispered the perfectly coifed blond to her clone companion, "It's all their fault. Everyone at the meeting Sunday agreed." Her friend, her mirror, nodded solemnly as her eyes darted around the room.

"I tell you" the rest dwindled to indecipherable whispers, but I heard the words in my mind’s eye, the thoughts so thick with fear and anger and more. The more was an overwhelming helplessness.

I listened and wondered at the women at the table behind me. I wondered how many like her there were, who never saw the larger picture, and rather than own their part in disaster would rather kill the messenger for the news she bore somehow thinking it would save them.

Sad and wearied by the waves of negative thoughts, I sent out calming emanations throughout the room, wanting a peaceful atmosphere for this last visit to a treasured place. I lifted their fear with soothing thoughts of reassurance tugging pleasant memories to the fore of love and children and happy times. A mind joined me in the task, and I looked across to the hostess station to see Kiri approaching. Our eyes met as Kiri waved the hostess away, and gestured in my direction.

As she joined me, we mused mind to mind, "It seems many of us are loathe to think of losing all the familiar places, and so we lunch and have tea and dinner, first here, then there. "Oh, Kiri, I'm not ready to see it end; I'm just not ready."

"No one is, no one ever is ready to let go of what we know. You are not alone in that, Seti."

“Kiri, even some friends will die in the coming Storm. The ‘coming Storm’ – ‘Mother Storm’. How trite. I can hardly stand it sometimes. Damn it! It is the end of our lives, as we now know them. We plunge into the abyss. We glimpse hell. And the hardest part of all is I know I will survive. Am I really up to it? gods'us, grant it."

"Yes, you are. You are stronger than all of us - stronger than you know. And for what it's worth, I like Mother Storm best. Even now, she groans here and there; small lava flows have been sighted in unlikely places; migration patterns have become erratic - aberrant, to those who don't know. The birds know North and South are no longer constant, so they wait. They may not have far to go. They only have to stay airborne when the time comes. Will the poles shift or have we done enough to defray it?”

"Well, we’ll know soon. We've known it was soon for some time, but I want it done – I want to fast-forward to the other side. It’s been 27 years, 27 years of meticulous planning.”

"That long? By the Powers, when you put a real number on the years, it makes me feel so old. Yet, this is barely the beginning; I have a very long way to go. Kiri, I'm afraid sometimes, that I won't have the strength for the long haul."

"Of course you will. You really are stronger than you know, and we've prepared so well. Everything is in place now: the Schools, stores of food, knowledge archives, seeds and all the other sundry things to rebuild a civilization with a memory of who they are intact.

Our waitress came with tea and saké. We watched respectfully. In two small hands, with a pristine clean white cloth, she held the pot and poured first the steaming green tea then the warmed saké, pale Citroen into the small white bowls of blue porcelain cups trimmed in slightly faded gilt. With utmost attention to each small task she returned the teapot to its cozy and the saké flask to its hot water bath with no water spilt, then neatly folding the white cloth, placed just so to complete the still life before us. With a bow she departed on the cat's feet that brought her leaving us to contemplate the curls of steam.

"Oh, Kiri! I'll miss this. I have memorized every moment, the tilt of head and preciseness of movement; the curling tendrils of steam lifting the fragrance of the tea; the hot silk taste of the saké sliding down to merge with my very blood and sending warmth and well-being coursing through veins that run so cold with foreboding."

Thus warmed, we crossed to the park where the trees' song hummed in our minds: a song so old - of life and death and forever and I remembered a line from childhood, " ‘...touch a leaf and the stars vibrate…’.Leaves die and the barren trees sleep through Winter and dream of Spring. How many of us will really survive this bleakest Winter. How many of us will reach Spring?" I stopped short and looked at Kiri.

"I felt it too." she almost shouted.

For one frozen moment etched forever into my being, it was as if the Earth caught her breath. No wind stirred the trees, no bird sang, people everywhere stopped and looked around. Then it came, the birds as one lifted to the sky and the earth heaved. The day rent asunder and terror ran cold then hot on the heels of frightened people running to they knew not where.

The street rippled gray waves beneath their feet, breaking into rubbled surf pounding them into the gaping maws of asphalt caves. Buildings fell into themselves and spewed life and death onto unsuspecting heads.

© Perle Champion
Next: The Fall

Monday, June 21, 2010

Seti’s Chronicles Surviving 2012 - I Begin

Excerpt from Work in Progress: Seti's Chronicles - Surviving 2012
Where do I begin except here, pen in hand at the window of my aerie.  I look down the long road that is the past and I wonder that so many of us came through to this best of all possibilities. 

There were times I didn’t think our world would survive, much less any of we Wyse.  All the plans, the hard work, and the hope against odds I cannot now even contemplate, worked.  It worked, not exactly, not precisely as imagined, but it worked.  We are here, and we have another chance, a better chance, with so much saved this time.  I look at our small cadre of warriors, for that is what we are, warriors as of old, and more. 

I come up to the very top room of this old stone home, to my sanctuary away from all the wistful eyes and hopeful hearts that daily leach my strength from me.

Only here, in this high place, at my window with the small flashlight my brother gave me hung just so to illuminate the page in front of me – how many years ago.  And where is he today -  dead or alive?

I only know he’s not here.  I could not convince him to come.  I think since his Phyllis died – his wife and best friend of over 30 years – he doesn’t care if he lives or dies.  Life has become a chore without his helpmeet. 

I imagine him on his farmhouse porch, whiskey in hand, toasting me even as the earth rent asunder and saying “Here’s to the end, I had a good run.”  And He did.  He loved and was loved, he worked with integrity, brought a beautiful healthy child into the world.  He lived his life his way and now with wife long gone, he;d just as soon pass on pass on and will not run from death.

Reports from the field  say doubt among the masses exists here and there, but many are grateful.  The old enemies are still among us as well: envy, greed, fear of the unknown.  But they are old enemies – known enemies; we’ll survive them, as we ever have.   

It is enough, at least for now at least for me, that we were not literally sent back to the cave.  We saved so much of who we are and what we know, that civilization will not take an eon to rebuild this time. 

© Perle Champion

Tomorrow: Touch and Go.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rant: Politician's Dumb Methods to Get the Vote

Just voted in the primary this morning, and I so wish it were the actual election, so all those wanna-be's would cease and desist leaving long rambling recorded messages on my voice mail. 

What fool thinks that an impersonal canned message left on my phone will cause me to suddenly say, 'Oh, wow, I'm voting for him'.  In your dreams, bubba!  

Frankly, I note those that annoy me the most with repetitive calls, and I deliberately don't vote for them. The annoyance factor of having to wade through and delete all these messages to get to those that matter to me does not endear them to me, it alienates me.  Don't they know they are actually one step below a canned telemarketer.

Further, what fool thinks they can change my mind at the doorsteps of the polls with a printed flyer.  When I go to vote, I have reviewed the candidates, and I know who I'm going to vote for.  Anyone arriving at the polls undecided that can be swayed by these flyer toting mosquitoes has no business voting.  

As I arrived at Ramsay to vote this morning, I was relieved to see none of the campaign workers down on the street, with a handful of flyers they try to shove at you, only to find as I climbed the ramp that they had moved closer to the door.  Worse than panhandlers in my book.  I put up my hand to save them some steps, and use my 'if looks cold kill look' to stop them in their tracks and go about my business of voting.

If this rant gets to any politician out there, listen up.  Stop it! The more people you annoy, the less people will vote for you.   There really out to be a DO NOT CALL list for politicians.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Between the Covers: Mind Candy

Some people call it reading trash. I call it mind candy. I read enough self-help, and health and my fair share of serious books.  But I cannot long survive the likes of McCarthy's "The Road", ... without a little respite.

I don't eat dessert every day, but when I want it, I want it.  Being laid off over a year ago,  probably adds to the reason I like to dive into the fun mysteries and adventures of unlikely protagonists.  

I'm just finishing the sixth book in Ellen Byerrum's Crimes of Fashion series, 'Armed and Glamorous', and I'm loathe for it to end as there is no seventh book.  They are totally 'chick lit cozies' if there is such a category - as fun to read as Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. There are the obligatory hunky guys, and of course a crime that no one but our heroine can solve.

If you're looking for a little entertainment, I recommend these.  Now if Evanovich's 'Sizzlin' Sixteen' would just arrive on the library hold shelf with my name on it, I'll be set for another 2 nights of mind candy but it's not due til mid June. 

Oh well, I can wait - I just got an e-mail that I have 4 books on that library hold shelf: 'Write It Down, Make it Happen', 'Dance of the Dissident Daughter', 'Mennonite in a little Black Dress, a memoir...' and for dessert 'The Mapping of Love & Death, a Maisie Dobbs Novel.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Do Dah Days

The things I do for a bone.
The weather was amazing for the Do Dah Days festivities touted as celebrating "31 YEARS OF COOL CATS & HOT DOGS..."this past Saturday.  It's one of Birmingham, Alabama's many free to attend events.

I found a shady spot on the center island on Highland Avenue at 27th, after parking somewhat illegally*, sipped cold beer, chatted with fellow shade-seekers and shot picture after picture.  I so love my digital Kodak camera - no more wasted film.

The festival started small "when in 1979, a group of friends got together and decided to have a party — or so the story goes — and Do Dah Day was born. The following years saw the party grow into an event raising money for local charities such as the Birmingham Zoo, Avondale Library and the Alabama Theatre. With so many Do Dah Day volunteers being pet owners and animal lovers, it was a natural progression for the fundraising focus to turn to local animal charities. Soon Do Dah Day was no longer a party — it had become an all-out festival."
Polly want a bite

There were more than dogs. I saw birds, cats and a Boa (the live kind).

Strange thing about dogs, they usually bark at anything, but they seemed to know that this day is different.  This day, they're just one of many and territories overlap.  I didn't see a single snarly growler or  aggressive barker.  

Caldwell Park
The park was sunny, but if you got in the shade, it was quite comfortable and there is an abundance of shady trees in and around the park.

Can we go home now?

75 Cents for the first 7 miles - what year was that?

Mardi Gras Renegade

O La - A little late for Cinco de Mayo

Waiting for the next act.

Giddy Up

How much further to Kansas?

Do Dah Day is Birmingham’s oldest event and has evolved into a music festival.  When it began, the crowd numbered a few hundred.  Today, an estimated 40,000 people from all over the United States converge on Birmingham’s Historic Highland Parks for a day of fun, food and music with their pets. Raising more than $536,000 since 1992 for Jefferson County animal shelters, Do Dah Day is one of the city’s most cherished springtime events..

If you've never been, put it on your calendar for next year.  Here's their link.

*Parking is a challenge, but unless you block traffic or another vehicle, the Birmingham police appear to declare amnesty on ticketing - Bless the all.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo, Y'all

We Americans will celebrate almost anything.  I sometimes celebrate Tuesday, because, well, sometimes surviving Monday is quite an accomplishment

Being a nation of immigrants, gives us a lot of celebrations to choose from.  We even invent things to celebrate: national this day, national that day, etc.

In March we celebrated St. Patrick's Day nationwide.  I'm not sure how many Irish were in Birmingham's downtown parade that day.  The guys in kilts were followed by what looked like refugees from a Star Trek convention (I'm a Trekkie, but I don't get it). 
There was also a group of electric cars with shamrocks plastered all over them - they continued their celebration at Dreamland BBQ on the corner from my home.

The thing is, I love it all.  We can celebrate whatever we want wherever we want pretty much any way we want.  That freedom alone is cause for celebration - yea, we'll do that on July 4th.

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day.  That was declared on September 16, 1810, and hard won on September 27, 1821.  It actually commemorates  the Mexican army's victory over invading French forces in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.  They won that day over a force twice their size that had gone undefeated for 50 years.  Although France eventually occupied the the Mexican capital, it left 3 years later under pressure from the U.S.  

Mexico's independence from Spain and then from from France's occupation were all steps that lead to Texas Independence and eventually becoming the 28th state of these United States.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

So, happy Cinco de Mayo y'all.  I'll be out lifting a few Mexican beers with friends, as we make the rounds of several Southside bistros: Dave's, The Mill, Jim 'n' Nicks, and pick maybe stop on the corner to up some ribs for late night snacking.

I've been around the world, but 'There's no place like home'.

Friday, April 9, 2010

And We Did Not Divided Fall

Robert E Lee Surrendered today in 1865, and we remained One Nation, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All...

'Under God' was not added to our Pledge of Allegiance until 1954 by Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus to do so. In 1924, 'my flag' was changed to 'the Flag of the United States of America'. With these two edits, the Pledge we recite today is the one written by Francis Bellamy in August of 1892.

Liberty and Justice for All did not include women or people of color until much later, and not without considerable trials and tribulations. This isn't a history lesson, but if we look at the history of the various movements for equal rights in this country, and look at how far we've come, it is amazing.

Is it perfect? No, but it is fluid not static. There are endless possibilities, and we as a nation are still growing up, evolving, becoming...

We are still a beacon for many of the peoples of the world. Consider that our Constitution is the world's longest surviving written charter of government. That document begins "We the People...". We need to end the civil war of divisiveness of our respective political parties.  If we are to continue grow as a nation, we need to  embrace that "We" as it is all of you and me.

Civil wars, whether fought with deadly weapons or ranting rhetoric, have divided nations, destroyed them, and sadly become a way of life for others. We had our Civil War and Robert E Lee knew when it was time to come to the table, when to fight on was not the right thing to do.

I think it's time for red and blue to move toward purple, because divided we will fall.

(c) Perle Champion

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Better Than A New Book, Three New Books

I love to read. That's no surprise to anyone who knows me. I read fiction serious and frivolous; biographies & memoirs; science fiction & science fact, fantasy; anthropology  & archaeology, new age & self-help and more.  I read magazines from Witch to Bitch to Cosmo; Vogue, & Elle; to Cooking Light, Tea and Mary Jane's Farm and on and on.

I read too fast, so I particularly love coming to an author that already has several books out in a series. I check out three at a time at the library while ordering the next three, so I don't have to wait for the next adventure.  Unfortunately, sooner or later I get to the end of book 10 (Laurie King's Mary Russel series); 15 (Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series) or 18 (Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody Egyptian series).

There are others, but these three authors each have a new book in their series coming out this month and next, and I have ordered each one delivered to my Southside library.

The 10th Mary Russell book,  The Language of Bees, left me hanging, which Laurie King's  previous books did not.  I hate 'to be continued' in any form, but alas, I was hooked. I should have the 11th book,  The God of the Hive, by the 27th.

Sizzlin' Sixteen, the sixteenth (duh) in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, will be out in June.  If you want to laugh out loud - read these from start to finish. I've re-read them on occasion just to for the laughs.

And the good news is: I just picked up Elizabeth Peters' 19th book in her Amelia Peabody series, A River in the Sky, from the library. As I'm writing this late Wednesday for post Thursday morning, I've probably finished the book, but I'll be re-reading it at my leisure over the next few days.

I've got to go to the Package Store (that's liquor store for those who don't live in Alabama) and get a bottle smooth whiskey and some of club soda before I tune out the world and climb between the covers of this long anticipated new book.

The whiskey? It's an Amelia Peabody ritual - 
See related post. Toast to Amelia Peabody & Elizabeth Peters

(c) Perle Champion

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

World Health Day

Today is World Health Day, and there are many parts of the world where diseases long conquered in the US and other nations of the West, run rampant.  Poverty, ignorance and political agenda figure heavily in the situations that needlessly claim so many lives.

We in the West are not immune to health issues, but in this land of plenty, the diseases are different.  They don't stem from lack, but from the very abundance of our culture.  Gluttony may be last on the list of  the Christian's deadly sins, but it is perhaps the most deadly of all.

The largest growing industry in this country appears to be health care, and all its accoutrements.

As Americans of every age and socioeconomic strata consume more food and drink than their bodies can handle, obesity is inevitable, and with obesity comes illnesses such as diabetes, arthrosclerosis, high blood pressure, etc.  It is indicated in cancer, skin problems, digestive issues, joint replacements and more.

Being morbidly obese is now considered 'a disability'.  By that reasoning, shouldn't we add alcoholics to the disabled.  Is there really a difference from one addiction to the next that we arbitrarily draw the line. Each is over-consuming to their detriment.

It takes a considerable effort to maintain a healthy body when even the producers of our food stack the odds against us.  They add sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup to the unlikeliest of foods.  Frozen fruit juices don't need more sugar; they are already sweet. I don't want sugar in my canned or pickled beets, or my tomatoes or my mayonnaise.

I used to buy Dukes mayo, because it was the only one I could find using real ingredients and containing no sweeteners.  It was just as good if not better than the big sweetened brands.  But alas, Dukes has gone from glass containers to plastic, and I eliminate as much plastic from my life as I can.  I'm making my own mayo now à la Maratha Stewart. It only takes a few minutes and keeps 2 weeks.

This has been mostly a rant, but on this World Health Day, we need to take a good look at what and how much we consume and the consequences of that consumption. I have a favorite quote I heard long ago; I can't remember who said it, but it made an impression on me and informs my decisions on many levels:

There is nothing so limiting to personal freedom as ill health.

With the World Health Organization's Campaign of 1000 cities, 1000 lives, people are organizing events worldwide during the week of 7 – 11 April 2010.  

I'm not attending any event, but taking a personal step.  I'm seriously considering limiting the over-consumption of my favorite cookie which is beer.

(c) Perle Champion

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

RIP Sunday Paper

I love print.  As long as I can remember, the Sunday paper has been synonymous with Sunday.  It's is a ritual.  When I lived in Arlington, Texas, I was in Sunday paper heaven: The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. 

I've never subscribed to the Birmingham News, but rain or shine, I pick it up on my Sunday morning walk if I stop in at Western or the Texaco.  When I don't walk, I cross the street to the vending machine in front of Dreamland BBQ by Phelan Park.

My coffee close at hand, I separate the pieces in the order I intend to read them:
  1. Ads and coupons on top, 
  2. Comics next after tearing off that annoying advertising appendage and discarding it along with the sports and real estate sections that I never read.
  3. Parade, then Lifestyle
  4. Play which contains the tv guide, and which I hate.  We once had a separate tv-guide until some bright person improved it (note: it is not an improvement).  Now, I have to cut away the extraneous never-to-be read again stuff and staple the then loose TV-guide pages for future reference during the week.  
  5. Local, then Money
  6. Front page section is usually just various bad news,except in fall and winter when it is always Alabama football, and then I ignore it all together.  You'd think the sports section is big enough for this non-news of a game watched by everyone who cared and they all know who won.
  7. Jobs classified is now tucked in behind a page covered in car ads, but at least I'm forewarned - in Bold solid caps on top I am told "EMPLOYMENT SECTION INSIDE"..

In the twenty years I've lived in Birmingham, I've read the paper every Sunday.  I even buy it on major holidays in spite of the fact they jack up the price to Sunday rates.  They say it's to pay for the ads.  Excuse me, but didn't the advertisers pay for those ads.  Why should I have to pay more to be advertised to.

Slowly but surely, the Birmingham News has devolved.  Perhaps it's the economic times, but I would think they would give instead of take to keep us and garner new readers.  Such is not the case.

This Sunday, as I sipped my coffee and began disassembling and reassembling my paper, I thought it was defective. There was a page missing from my comics.  There were four pages instead of six.  I thought, well mistakes happen.  I'll borrow my neighbors later - vending machines don't do exchanges.

Then I read Tom Scarritt on page 1F, and here I found out that I didn't have a defective comic section.  The section had been reduced to four pages from six, but I still had to trim off the ubiquitous ad.

That was the last straw. The Birmingham Sunday paper is not what it used to be, and this past Sunday's may well be the last I ever buy. Two Dollars is too much to spend on so little. I might buy the NYTimes, or the Atlanta Constitution for an occasional Sunday fix, get my TV-Guide on-line, my comics from Chicago

Curling up with a laptop (eventually, an ipad) on the couch isn't quite the same, but the content is more satisfying. I'll miss print, but such is life.

(c) Perle Champion