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
hot. I love corn. I love soup.
That was this summer
at the upscale market on the boulevard, The
We bought the
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
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.
was every bit as good as the
real thing. It's a
hearty soup, and we promised ourselves to have it again in the
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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
"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
Neighbors' Fall Soup Supper
leafy greens with spicy arugula, topped with avocado, fresh
tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, sprinkled with toasted almonds
Cheese Dressing ~ Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
loaves of Italian Chiabata
Spicy Jalapeno-Cheese Mexican bread
Olive Oil Squeeze "Butter"
bowls of Hawaiian-Italian Bean Soup,
inspired by Sam Choy's Portuguese Bean Soup
Pie à la Mode
with lactose-free vanilla yogurt "ice cream"
Jeff's & Claudia's Festive Halloween cookies,
served with Kona coffee (decaffeinated, of course)
Family Vineyards 2000 Shiraz
"Best of California'' honors and
"Best of Class -- California State Appellation''
Jeff & Claudia
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
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.
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
"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.
"Life is a Gift."
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