Soup's On!

Saturday, October 27, 2001


The small red-and-green bottle of Tabasco sauce was neatly tied to a triangular box of soup with a matching green ribbon.  It didn't catch my eye, it seized it. 

 I love hot.  I love corn.  I love soup.  

That was this summer at the upscale market on the boulevard,  The Vintage Market.

We bought the Turtle Island's Southwestern Roasted Corn Chowder, preparing it that night with shredded Jack cheese.  It could not have been simpler -- just add water, add shredded jack cheese, simmer, and enjoy.  Perfect for those on-the-go.

Accompanied with a green salad, a round loaf of Mexican bread and a glass of wine, the chowder made for a simple meal.   

"Simple moments are extraordinary . . . 
simple angels are divine."

We were not prepared for how much joy was in that little, cleverly packaged box.  We savored every spoonful of this hearty soup, m'm'ing the entire time.  The Tabasco sauce gave it the perfect zing.  It was every bit as good as the real thing. It's a hearty soup, and we promised ourselves to have it again in the fall.  

Our taste buds couldn't forget it and we had the corn chowder again in late summer. This time, it was as flavorful, but disappointingly watery. 

What happened? 

Checking the packaging, we realized that we'd forgotten the cheese. The second box held as much promise as the first, but the cheese brought out the soup's flavors, giving it its richness and heartiness.  We'd have it again, come fall, we promised.


"When we invite an angel 
into our inner sanctuary, 
we create a home for love."

After an extended season of balmy weather, yesterday, autumn finally arrived.  A cool day.  

Evening angels alight here, and last evening, in the stillness of the evening, The Angel Beneficence's presence was felt. In her left hand, she held a treasure chest overflowing with the riches of the spirit, and with her right hand, Beneficence reached out in a personal gesture, inviting me to reap the rewards that come from sharing gifts of the spirit.

This morning, we awoke to a perfect autumn day for soup: sunny, with high altitude clouds; wind in the pine trees; and cool -- if not cold --  temperatures.  Soup weather.  We emulated Beneficence's gesture by inviting our neighbors, Jeff and Claudia and Ed and Trudy and over for an impromptu soup supper. Jeff is dairy-intolerant and may not be able to assimilate the cheese in the soup,  so we decided to also make a separate pot of our Hawaiian soup.


"Angels have countless suggestions,
but are discreet in helping us 
discover answers through our own insights."

But there was another plan in the works. We stopped at two markets, then in the village, at two gourmet food shops.  Not one package of Turtle Island soup was to be found anywhere on the mountain. We're flexible. And our Hawaiian standby soup became "The Soup of the Day".

We decided on a variation of Sam Choy's Portuguese Bean Soup, substituting Italian sausage for Portuguese sausage and round Italian and Mexican breads for pao doce (Portuguese sweet bread).  The purists would have their fits, but when options are limited, you use what's closest.  Italy and Portugal are neighbors, so for this neighborly supper, the substitutions were... thematic.

DH was the joyful soup chef, while I was Holly Housewife. I dusted, cleaned, and wiped dog snuffles off the windows, then set out fall colors with dark orange tiger lily blooms and a simple arrangement of fresh Bosc pears and bright orange tangerines.  

I experienced a Martha moment or two as I scurried about, prepping for the meal. I carefully set the table with china and crystal on autumnal placemats, slipped matching napkins into angel napkin rings, and prepared the accompaniments to the meal.

The Japanese know this:  we eat with our eyes. Even the simplest fare is elevated with aesthetics.


"Angels see the smallest and simplest
 of things as a reason to celebrate, 
and do so by radiating their joy." 

Long ago, DH and I discovered that we have different -- and incompatible -- cooking styles.  We have since acquired the wisdom imparted by the aphorism,  "Too many cooks spoil the soup." Today, by staying out of the kitchen, I gave DH wide berth.

While he prepared the soup, I stacked wood in the backyard, the perfect cardiovascular activity for a crisp fall day. The woodpile, in turn, inspired the making of our first fire of the season. 

While the soup simmered and the fire crackled in the fireplace, we snuggled under a Hawaiian quilt to watch My Dog Skip, a heart-warming movie about a boy and his dawg, circa WW II.  Based on a true story by writer Willie Morris, it was filled with touching moments, and we hugged our dogkids, O and Fred alot as we watched.  We've decided that Fred, our wiry, energetic and long-nosed Sheltie, if shorn, would look amazingly like the star of the movie, Skip, a Jack Russell.  

Just as Lucky (aka Laki) taught me about loyalty and unconditional, enduring love, Skip taught his human lifelong lessons about the power of redemption and the strength of forgiveness.  Just as Willie Morris still thinks of his dog, Skip, every day of his life, I think of my Lucky every day. 

She lives on in my heart.


"The river of life flows with angels upstream, blending bliss and sadness with the knowledge that you'll meet happiness around the bend."


We showered upstairs, then came back down to put the finishing touches to our supper by lighting Cia's chunky 3-wicked red candle, tossing the salad, and filling the water glasses.  Five o'clock arrived, as did all four of our guests at our door, together.  

We wasted no time.  Everyone was promptly seated, and supper was served without ado:

Good Neighbors'  Fall Soup Supper

Portofino Salad
Mixed dark leafy greens with spicy arugula, topped with avocado, fresh tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, sprinkled with toasted almonds

Bleu Cheese Dressing ~ Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Round loaves of Italian Chiabata 

Spicy Jalapeno-Cheese Mexican bread
Fleischmann's Olive Oil Squeeze "Butter"

Steaming bowls of Hawaiian-Italian Bean Soup,
inspired by Sam Choy's Portuguese Bean Soup

Pumpkin Pie la Mode
with lactose-free vanilla yogurt "ice cream"
Jeff's & Claudia's Festive Halloween cookies, 
served with Kona coffee (decaffeinated, of course)

Delicato Family Vineyards 2000 Shiraz
Awarded "Best of California'' honors and 
"Best of Class -- California State Appellation''


Columbia Crest Merlot-Cabernet
from Jeff & Claudia


"Angels have wings to carry your prayers to God.  
When prayers go up, blessings come down."

We held hands around the table, creating a wreath of friends, and, with bowed heads, thanked God for the blessing of uncommonly good neighbors and asked that others in the world could experience the neighborliness and good feelings we were feeling for one another at that moment.  

What a delightful evening of mirth and merriment, hearty food, fine wine and spirited conversation!  

With glasses filled with Shiraz, we clinked glasses and toasted each other.  Then, Jeff, who is a fabulous joke-teller, had us in stitches from the get-go. We caught up with family talk. Claudia and Trudy regaled us with their Catholic and nun stories. Trudy and Ed shared bits and pieces of their sweet courtship; thank goodness, Protestant Ed kept an open mind and heart and overcame the postulate that nothing good could come of it (Trudy's Catholicism, that is).  

We swapped stories about chickens and cows. Then,  Claudia told us how her son and his family recently visited Area 51 in Nevada.  Ed shared his experience of seeing a huge UFO from the lakeview corner of the Arctic Circle, and Jeff, a fast-flying vehicle over Lake Mead.

If we were on a cruise ship, everyone would be clambering to be on our table.  We are one convivial bunch of folks.  Everyone in this group enjoys life and adores his/her spouse. None of us take our mountain's beauty or its lifestyle for granted

That we all ended up gathering here as good friends and neighbors with our homes in a perfect triangulation amongst the pines is a gift, part of an intricate Divine Plan that placed all of us on this mountain, on this peninsula, on our quiet road, at this time.


"If you walk in love, 
you walk with angels."

At the end of the evening, with the dogkids tagging along, we walked our neighbors to their homes.  Claudia and I walked arm-in-arm.

DH and I walked back home, elated.  Before I entered back into the toasty warmth of our cozy home, I smiled at the rustic sign beneath the glow of the front porch's light.  Cia gave it to us when she first visited our cabin:

"Lights Fade, Stars Appear 
and Evening Angels Gather Here."  

I looked up to thank the gathering angels and came to a crystal-clear realization that what others believe are extraterrestrials are simply angels.

Our guardian angels.



"Life is a Gift."

Author Unknown


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This web journal was created on a September Morn, September 29, 2001.
September Morn 2001