Who is the heroine/hero of your story?

“Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” – Jack Kerouac

Who hasn’t read On the Road? Kerouac understood, as I hope you do, that each of us is the hero, in my case heroine, of our own story. My journal is my book, and sometimes in recollection, I am truly amazed.

simple notebook pen
soliloquy on the page
journal diary

a day once removed
to march cadence on blue lines
fill each empty page

siphoning angst hurt
experience clears the mind
for new adventure

My journal is the running memoir of my life, my confidant, my Wailing Wall, canvas for creative thoughts, and so much more.


Who Do You Write For?

Laying Life on the Line

aerie dining room desk  2she sat pen in hand
journal open before her
her life paced the lines

glory inglory
marching cadence cross the page
bare and unadorned

“Never mind the misses and the stumbles…” “The habit of writing for my eyes only is good practice, it loosens the ligaments.” – Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s quote hits home for me, and if you would write, I hope for you.  There is something so freeing about writing just for yourself with no deadlines.  It doesn’t need to be perfect; it’s a conversation with and exploration of yourself for yours eyes only now or forever unless you decide to share it.

Saying you want to write is not enough, you must write it.  The truth is so much writing is just mental gymnastics.  A skater skates, a harpist harps, a writer writes. It is the practice that perfects.

Day after day, with no one to see, no one to hear, and no one to applaud, I rise and go to my practice. I write in my journal.

It’s Throw Back Thor’s day #TBT

It’s Throw Back Thor’s Day, and as I looked back through old photos, I was reminded of the pre-digital world I grew up in. Yes, there were cameras, but not everyone had one. Our family didn’t get one until around the time, we shipped out for England in 1955. Before that and even after pic TBT 52-55that, we went to the local portrait studio. These studio trips were always reserved for birthdays and Easter and always required a new outfit. And then there’s the one in the tacky flower girl dress. The ones in color, were hand painted for an extra fee. Color cameras were neither readily available nor affordable to the public til mid to late 50’s. We made do with the old Brownie and actually had an 8mm color movie camera before we got the Kodak color camera,  #TBT

What Are You Thankful For?

“Thank you is the best prayer that anyone can say…” – Alice Walker

It’s the only one I ever say.  Just before I turn the bedside lamp off at midnight every night, I write at least mom shopping drink food
5 things in my gratitude journal that I am grateful for.

Last Tuesday evening’s list lead with two items that are often repeated in my journal as well as out loud on any given day.

  1. Thank you for the strong healthy body and mind that are mine.
  2. Thank you for my mother’s continued excellent health.

I am thankful that at 65, I am healthy and strong as is my 81 year-old mother.  Once a week on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, I pick her up around 9 or 10 a.m., and we’re off.

My gift to her and, truth be told, to me is a day of doing whatever she wants to do, going wherever she wants to go.  I know for sure, that we will:

  1. Shop. The stores and malls may vary, but she is a consummate ‘Mallee’ who loves to go ‘saleing’.
  2. Eat & Drink.  We’ll stop for lunch and a beer or two at whatever restaurant striktaco tamale foodes her fancy.
    1. China Buffet for a Tsing Tao beer and  all you can eat, and boy can she eat.  At 5’2” and size 8 you’d never know.
    2. Jim ‘n’ Nicks for Taco Tuesdays’ fried catfish tacos and Modelo or Acapulco for Fajitas and Dos Equis.
  3. Shop some more – Birmingham has a plethora of large and small malls and then there are the vintage stores and Salvation Army stores, etc.
  4. Party. We invariable stop for a happy hour which includes bar food or appetizer and something good and wet.
    1. Bonefish grill is a favorite for Whiskey n Soda tall and an order or two of Bang-Bang Shrimp.
    2. Dodiyo’s for Wine or a Stella Artois and pizzette and hummus.
    3. Brio’s for a Peroni, bread and olive oil and shrimp cocktail.
  5. Shop.  We always stop at Publix grocery store up the block from her house for miscellaneous grocery items on the way home.  She buys a six pack and I a bottle of wine to take home.

We’ll unload our treasures from the car, turn on a rerun of some show we both like and sit and sip and chat a bit before I go home.

What are you Thankful for?

The Brat – Enrolling Myself in First Grade

I was scared, but only I knew it. Momma combed my hair into long curls with a comb dipped in cold water – think Shirley Temple.  A quick breakfast in the kitchen, and then I walked to the bus stop with the kids I’d just met and barely knew, and took a bus to the first school I’d ever attended.Perle saddle oxfords feet

Once there, my new friends left me to go to their classes saying just ask for the principal, so I asked the first grown up I saw.

I was determined not to cry, but the butterflies in my stomach made me feel like throwing up my breakfast.  I swallowed hard before answering this kind and smiling lady’s question of why my parents weren’t with me.  “Momma doesn’t drive and she’s home with my little brother.  Daddy went to work at 5 this morning.  I have all my papers and stuff, and I’m supposed to give them to the principal.”  I handed her the envelope full of information I could not yet read.

She took me in hand, and I eventually found myself in a first grade classroom with another young woman introducing me to a class of yet more strangers.

Sitting at a desk in a classroom listening to the teacher talk felt somehow right, and at lunch, everyone wanted to know me because I was from Texas.  They all seemed to think that all Texans carried guns, rode horses and knew John Wayne personally.

The ride home that first day was reflective as I looked out the window at the verdant countryside.  I knew that my entire world had changed, and I would never be the same.  Some of my new friends were sorry for me, for in their eyes no one cared enough to go with me.  Some of my friends thought it was cool that I could go out into the world alone and unafraid.tablet 2

I was a little sad for myself, too, but I was also little bit proud; I knew I was okay alone among strangers.  It would stand me in good stead as time and again, I walked into a brand new school and enrolled myself.

Although I enrolled in February, with the teacher’s help, I caught up to the rest of the class before school let out for the summer in June.




The Brat – Learning the Alphabet in One Day

Texas didn’t allow anyone to start school unless they were six the day school started, and as my birthday is in February, I was not in school when we got to England.  That was not to last.

Daddy came home and said he found out I could go to the base school, regardless.  So here it was February; the school year was half over; there was no kindergarten back then for me; I didn’t even know my alphabet.tablet and pencil

“No problem,” Daddy tells Mom.  “I’ll teach her.”

We began after breakfast, skipped lunch, and through tears and threats of no supper either if I didn’t get it all learned that day, I did it.  I learned to write and recite my alphabet and numbers 1-100, and spell small words in a day.  We went down to the main dining room by 6:30.

Sunday we practiced and practiced and practiced some more.  The next day was Monday and would be my first day of school.

Next: Enrolling myself in first grade.

The Brat – Goose Eggs

There were some white bread sandwiches on the coffee table.  They were butter with cucumber and butter with ham; cut into fours with the crusts neatly trimmed away; and neatly stacked on a beautiful old plate.

We devoured them all, and Mom put us too bed.  I could hardly sleep, and when she left the room, I crept to the window to look out.  As I look back, I know now why I liked that shot in Harry Potter so much. The one where he sits on a large stone window sill looking out through the frosted window of his new home high in the castle.

I didn’t need waking up the next morning, I was ready to go before anyone and waiting impatiently at the door.  We went down the rickety stairs to the better stairs and found our way to the kitchen, where the maids were scurrying around the long table goose eggdelivering breakfast to our house mates.

At that time, Wadenhoe House was managed by Mrs. Boothroyd (Mrs. B) and with two exceptions, all the rooms and suites were let out to military families.  The exceptions were a Scot and a Pole (daddy’s terms).  The Scot, when in his cups, would change into kilts and serenade the whole house with his bagpipes whether they liked it or not. The Polish man was quiet and read a lot.

Mrs. B introduced us around the table, and asked how we liked our eggs.  I watched as the cook cracked these huge eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork and milk before putting them into the large iron pan on the old wood stove that occupied half the wall at then end of the kitchen.

Later when Mom found out they were goose eggs, she never ate them again.

Next: Learning the alphabet in one day.

The Brat – Wadenhoe House

It began in San Antonio, Texas.  My Mom married Daddy when I was 3, and we all lived in a small apartment in a Mrs. Steele’s comfy old house where the roosters perched on her grand piano and generally made a mess everywhere.

We weren’t there long since the minute Daddy married Mom, he got on the waiting list for base housing.  Lackland AFB was great.  All the families were young, and I suddenly had tons of friends to run and play with until the orders came.

I was six and my brother was two when we boarded a ship out of New York bound for England.  I was seasick from day one.  My most vivid memory is lying on a bunk and staring at a porthole of dark water and trying hard to keep down the saltines I was nibbling on and praying it would be over soon.  The crossing took nine days and Daddy had to stay in the men’s quarters, so we only saw him at meal time.wadenhoe 1

We spent only a day in London, and I remember a parade.  Mom got a picture of the Queen, well the back of her head.  The next afternoon, we got in a black car and headed out of town to a little village called Oundle then on to Northhamptonshire.  It’s about 70 plus miles but with no highways, it was well after dark when we arrived at Wadenhoe House.

I felt like we were in a scary movie.  This huge castle loomed in the night as the fog rolled along the ground all around it and us as we got out of the car.  Daddy, ever the practical joker pointed at the head carved above the entrance and said, “That is the ghost of Wadenhoe.”  Mother told him to cut it out, but I had to pee too bad to be scared.

An old woman, Mrs. B, opened the door and welcomed us; showed us to our flat (English for apartment); told us what time breakfast was served in the kitchen and left.

We were home.

Next: Goose eggs.

The Cloud Dweller for National Faery Tale Day

I love Faery Tales.  I read them and had them read to me when I was a child, and I had my favorites.  I was not the princess.  I liked the regular girls best before they gained that status. Cinderella and Beauty were the daughters of merchants/storekeepers; Red Riding Hood was a woodcutter’s only child; the heroine of Rumpelstiltskin was a miller’s daughter – and so on.pink sunrise 3 sky

When I liked the ending as in Rumpelstiltskin I went with the story.  Of course I was the miller’s daughter who triumphed over the wicked little creature who would steal my child.

Red Riding Hood I revised when I read it to myself.  I was she, but in my version the wolf did not eat me, because I was so tough and so smart. It was I who rescued my grandmother just before my father arrived.

I pondered my propensity to make stories including faery tales suit my ideal – walk on clouds so to speak or ‘head in the clouds’ as momma put it.  I wrote the below poem in one of those moments when I had fallen through those insubstantial clouds to the reality of a disabled child and sick husband, and…

The Cloud Dweller

far away

and long ago

there is a child

perle velvet cropped 5

i used to know

with wide bright eyes

asking why

but deep insidenot out loud

why that way

and not my


those clouds those


faery vapors which

upheld us

have given way

to the ground

i wonder if

we shall walk


as easily as we


Cloud Dweller © Perle Champion 11/25/80 

Sixty-Five and Asking – Now What?

I started my cozy on the 14th and wrote 2-3 chapters and then I got sidetracked.  The following week lead up to my 65th birthday of February 23.  I found myself celebrating the whole week with various friends over long breakfasts, lunches, happy hours at favorite places all culminating with a great Sunday afternoon at my friends’ Daniel Day Gallery-Dream Mecca Studio.  Daniel Day and Melody Musik truly are a renaissance couple.

The Gallery is a unique venue of live music (blues); art; sculpture; photography; handcrafted jewelry, clothing, and accessories; vintage clothing; and more than I have space to tell.  Every Sunday afternoon from 2-6 there’s a party that overflows in beautiful weather onto the large patio out back.  It’s byob and a cover charge of $12 covers the food hot from the grill, and pays the band. This Sunday, the sun came out to shine on all of us and the Jeff Jensen Band from Memphis rocked the house.  Melody Musik who plays Clarinet in her band (yes, she’s a musician, too) played a Happy Birthday solo just for me.

My week-long celebration did include a lot of writing just not on my Cozy. I’ve been journaling as if my life depended on it. My journal is the running memoir of my life, and good or bad there is always something to write at any given moment.  I remember reading Alice Koller’s 1991 book An Unknown Woman, which is basically her journal during a period of self-examination.

I feel I am at that place in my life now. I’ve toyed with writing my own ‘unknown woman’ memoir tentatively titled A Not-Yet Famous Woman – A Memoir, or considering the content maybe A Not-Yet Infamous Woman – A Memoir.  

Being a Pisces, I am two fish.  One goes with the flow wherever it goes; one fights its way upstream.  I’ve no doubt that for some years now, I’ve taken the easy float with the current style of getting by.  But now, I see my mother in her 80’s, and know I may have 20 or more years left to me.  It’s not enough to go with the flow anymore.  In rereading my old journals and journaling anew I’m exploring that fish that knew when to fight the current – not every day, but when it mattered.

At 65 I’m saying out loud what I’ve always known. It’s not enough to exist.  I’ve become a woman of a certain age and I ask myself – Now What?