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

Monday, April 5, 2010

Blue Lights are Special

My neighbor, Mark, and I agreed to leave our blue christmas lights up until they died - I hope they last for years.  It is so pleasant to come home late at night and see the gentle blue glow from our respective balconies - I'm top left; he's top right.

Bottom left, is Ms. Louis. She's a 75 year old black lady who sits for various, and I'll quote her here, "rich ole white women in Mountain Brook". The day I moved in and introduced myself, she called me Ms. Perle.  I have since I call her Ms. Louise. She tends to talk to herself a lot and single various church hymns as she goes to and from the yard and the car. I never see any lights on in her place, so I can only assume she rises and retires with the sun.

Bottom right are the nurses, a mother and daughter.  There's always a porch light on here front and back, as they work all sort of shifts at UAB Medical center. 

As renters, we couldn't have landed in a better place. The landlord fixes everything within a day of notice, if not the very day.  We have off-street parking which even some of the homeowners in the neighborhood do not.  No one blasts tv or music,

Mark & I are both artists with day jobs, or at least we were until I got laid off.  I'm now going full out on freelance writing, painting, editing, etc. - anything to bring in the $$$. We compare notes and critique each other's work.  I wish we had another writer in the building, but I have to be content with a few on-line buds there.  Can't have everything.

Right now I'm taking a break from critiquing three e-books for a Florida publisher.  They're due next week, but I'll be finished by Friday.  Sooner in the sooner paid.  I've read that a blog should be consistently posted and I've been anything but in my postings. 

The weather is still so temperate, and sitting here working on the laptop by the open window that opens onto the balcony hardly feels like working.  The trees are leafing out, and traffic is only just beginning to pick up below. I can hardly tell the blue lights are one for the brightness of the day.

But tonight, I look forward to swinging on the porch swing, sipping a glass of wine, surround on three sides by their soft blue aura.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Excerpt from Count-Down to Some Beach – Some Where

StarDate 04.01.2007 - 33 Days to go to some beach somewhere.

Come ride with me along the sand,

where dusk sits easy on the land.

Feel her presence close at hand –

the guardian Naiad of the strand.

Excerpt from:
Count-own to Some Beach – Some Where

© Perle Champion 5/4/07