your table’s ready

by Rudi Hurzlmeier

Hello and Happy New Year!

We’re baaaaaaack! Hope you had a nice holiday. Other than a little adventure with our well pump on New Year’s Eve, we managed to survive all the busyness, insane consumption of cookies and undue pressure to be merry and jingly and ho ho ho all the time, and now we’re just happy to get back to our quiet routine here in the woods with bears, books, and warm cups of tea.


Like that wonderful bear in Mr. Hurzlmeier’s painting, I’m tipping my hat to you. I’m glad you’re here because we’ve saved a special seat for you at the table. If you please, says Mr. Bear, make yourself at home.


I hope you don’t mind, but we had to make today’s tea with bottled water. That’s because our tap water still smells like bleach. When the new pump was installed, the contractor sanitized our well. We were lucky to find someone on a holiday weekend who provides emergency service. One minute you’re washing and rinsing the dishes, the next minute you turn on the bathroom tap to brush your teeth and no water at all. 😦

It’s good to know you can actually call someone close to midnight and they’re actually cordial and patient and try to troubleshoot with you over the phone before agreeing to come over bright and early the next morning. So we welcomed 2017 without clean water and there was no dumpling soup or any other cooking going on but we were just relieved we didn’t have to check into a hotel and wait days and days to get someone to fix things.

Did I mention one reason the well pump failed was because we had a power outage on Christmas Eve? Chain of events, chain of events. Never a dull moment.


These things are, of course, nothing — a minor inconvenience that provided an almost welcome distraction from the impending CATASTROPHE coming our way January 20. Sorry, didn’t mean to bring the house down, but I wouldn’t be honest if I ignored the big orange elephant in the room.

It is terrifying to wade into uncharted territory like this, to feel such dread and despair, frustration, powerlessness, and complete bafflement. I will be very sad to see President Obama go — he is my favorite President of my lifetime, and not just because he was born in my home state of Hawai’i.


His inherent goodness, humanity, humility, his earnest desire to serve for the good of the people, not to mention his keen intellect and extraordinary oratorical skills, are unmatched in modern history. Yes, he’s been compared to JFK, whom I also admire, but JFK did not have to face vile racist disparagement and try to work with a self-serving obstructionist Congress.

He’s not perfect (who is?), but President Obama always took the high road, and he and Michelle truly welcomed everyone to the White House. I love that he could be dignified and stately one moment, then totally unassuming and candid the next. When he wept with Sandy Hook parents, sang a few bars of Al Green, and played with babies on the Oval Office carpet, we were reminded that he was only human, a loving man of heart and humor.

Nooooooooooooo! Don’t Go!! Please Please Please!

The stark contrast between him and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is immeasurable, and the new administration will be a huge shock to the system. Until I heard President Obama’s Farewell Address last week, I’d been trying to grapple with the strange feeling that because of the 2016 election, I no longer had a President. But his words gave me renewed hope as he spoke about his faith in us and our responsibility to preserve our democracy. He made a strong case for empathy, and reminded us to “be vigilant, but not afraid.”

So it turns out I do have a President after all. Everything President and Mrs. Obama stood for, everything they modeled the past 8 years will stay with me always and inform my future endeavors.

Looking forward to reading these new books!

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t usually decide on a single word to define my aspirations for the coming year other than LOVE and KINDNESS. But this year, I like the word TRUTH.

Jessie Wilcox Smith

Truth has strangely become a rare commodity — to be bought and traded without conscience or thought of consequence. When the soon-to-be most powerful person on the planet lies and lies and lies and the people around him explain away, spin, and justify those lies, it shakes you to the core. It feels like a cosmic shift, the planets all misaligned, everything you counted on and believed in are called into question.

He who is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters. ~ Albert Einstein

So I will value truth more than ever, will look harder to uncover it, be more vocal about sharing it, and sharpen my fact-checking skills so that I can more readily recognize truth when I see it. And I will champion those in the media who refuse to normalize bluster, bullying, deflection, willful deception and manipulation — those who will courageously report and uphold the truth at all costs.

Old favorites are very comforting. They can’t stop petting the book.

Most of you are fellow creatives, and know that what drives our work is a passion for truth. With nonfiction comes the responsibility of thoroughly researching and artfully presenting verifiable facts; with fiction and poetry, the daunting challenge of creating an emotional truth. Children’s books have become more important than ever with their ability to foster empathy from a very young age, as they examine human nature with all its foibles and triumphs.

When President Obama quoted Atticus Finch, he identified the root cause of discrimination and divisiveness: fear and ignorance.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Reading about other lives, places, social/cultural mores, and time periods affords us a safe opportunity, however briefly, to experience perspectives other than our own. It is the first step in dispelling fear of the “other” and promoting understanding.


To all you fellow truth seekers — writers, artists, readers, parents, librarians and educators, this is our time, we’ve been called to rise to the challenge. Let us start where we are, start small, if need be, in finding ways to resist this scourge of hate — a simple act of kindness, an encouraging word, and as Meryl Streep quoted Carrie Fisher: “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

Whether we choose to sign yet another petition, donate $$, volunteer for a worthwhile charity, take a more active role in local government, or participate in peaceful resistance initiatives such as boycotting certain retailers, there is something each of us can do. If we keep our eyes and ears open, we’ll continue to learn of other ways to contribute as time goes on.

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. ~ Henry Thoreau

I believe in the good and the true, and will continue, to the best of my ability, to share that with you here at Alphabet Soup. It will be an ongoing celebration of creativity with stories, art, photos, poems, recipes, indie artists, authors, illustrators, poets, and lots of tea.

Now, one last time (*sob*), a bowl of Barack’s famous chili:


Thank you for visiting, and for all you do to uplift, inspire, educate, comfort, and energize. Never underestimate the power of art to heal. We’re all in this together.

Another cup of tea? 🙂

❤️ Love,

Jama, Mr. Cornelius, and all the furry kitchen helpers


P.S. No Poetry Friday post on January 20. Alphabet Soup will be in mourning, boycotting the inauguration, and saying a prayer for peace at precisely 12 noon EST. Please join us wherever you are.

by Rudi Hurzlmeier


“We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters… that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules… and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square . . . I always tell young girls, surround yourself with goodness. I learned early on how to get the haters out of my life . . . Choose people who lift you up.” ~ Michelle Obama

Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

57 thoughts on “your table’s ready

  1. Amen, sister! I am marching on the 21st and will return to my activist ways to keep President Obama’s values and work alive. That’s the only way to survive the next four years.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, Jama, I am with you all the way. Our dear President Obma’s eloquent and heartfelt speech was a confirmation that he is still with us, that he will continue to fight for our democracy- as we must. As the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, “the time is always ripe to do right.” His words ring clear in these hard and scary times…Here’s to hope, kindness, love and truth!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Where do I begin with the goodness of this post? First, with the sympathy! I’m sorry you had trouble with your well pump! (I’ve dealt with enough major plumbing problems that I’m very empathetic about such things.) That sounds like the opposite of delightful. And a power outage on Christmas Eve? This was not your year, was it? So, on to the delightful stuff:

    Love your gratitude, and so happy you found someone on the holiday to do the work you needed!
    You have the best tea cups in the world.
    Scottie dog cookies!
    A Year With Rilke…sigh.

    And, on the big stuff:

    Yes, to all that you said.
    Yes to truth, and real journalism.
    Yes to not normalizing he-who-must-not-be-named.
    Yes to President Obama and Atticus Finch.
    Yes to honesty, integrity, and truth mattering.
    Pass the chili.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for all, Karen — BB8 is quite the mascot and wants everyone to know that BB stands for Big Bear. 🙂

      It was quite the holiday, but one takes these things in stride. Impending catastrophe really puts things in perspective.

      Happy 2017 to you and your family. “Stronger together” takes on even more meaning as we go forward.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You have put into words all I have felt about he-who-must-not-be-named and have said it so well. I will join you on January 20th at 12 o’clock in prayer. I can not watch nor will I watch the inauguration of a person who I will admit frightens me no end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to know you’re on board, Cathy! The thing is, it’s not just more than half the country who feels this way — it’s also the rest of the world! It’s astounding that just one man could terrorize so many. But as I have tried to explain (to no avail) to a few Trump voters, you “think” you voted for change, for policy, etc., but it’s ultimately about what T stands for. How can you abide that in good conscience? I remain baffled at such shortsightedness. We will all pay the price, and in time, they will see that they voted against their best interests.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Our water is “almost” fit to drink again. We’re getting there.

      Hope you’re feeling better, mrs. b. What a way to start the new year.


  5. Happy New Year, Jama

    This is so beautifully written. I share your sentiments completely. I’m freaked out and stressed every day, but watching Obama’s speech helped because he is still so optimistic in the American people. After all he’s been through!! When I see the protesting and calling out Congress people, writing to them, showing up, it makes me feel like we are not alone. I’m going to be matching in DC Saturday and I’m expecting it to be a positive event. I have a fear of crowds, because I am so short! But I’m going to be deterred. Thanks for this post. Things like this really help and make a difference. Just wanted you to know! 🙂 PS, sorry about your power/ water situation…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have even more respect and admiration for Obama after his speech (if that’s even possible). He has been so gracious during the transition and never once badmouthed DT even though he might have really wanted to. He holds us all to a higher standard and that is something to always keep in mind.

      Wish I could join you on Saturday. I will definitely be with you in spirit and rooting for all the pink pussy hat crusaders. It will be a historic event to tell your grandchildren someday — that you stood up for what is right despite your fears.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. God bless us, everyone.
    Thank you for this post, Jama. Thank you for being a steady source of beauty and encouragement and hope… and truth. I will be holding my children close, praying and hoping, and will enjoy a quiet poetry teatime together with them on Friday. So very grateful for you. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That sounds like just the right thing to do, Valerie. I truly believe that what goes around comes around and someday soon DT will have to answer to his Maker.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes yes yes to all you said! And kudos for not lacing it with bad words, which I would have done! LOLOL Your gracious spirit is a great reflection on our current (for a few more days – sob) President!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Believe me, I had a LOT of bad words in mind while writing this post and had to try really hard to restrain myself. Trying to stay positive is more challenging than ever, but it’s much easier with like-minded people like you out there.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Happy New Year, Jama!! I’m going to miss the Obama family so much! Such grace and poise and class! We need beauty, and joy, and strength to see things through, and hope in all places, especially children’s books. Thanks for spreading the light!! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s the best part of children’s books — even when the stories depict hardship and struggle, there is always an element of hope at the end. I will miss the entire Obama family too — they possess the unique characteristic of being “normal” and extraordinary at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Here’s to truth and running water–thank you for putting into words what so many of us are feeling, Jama. It’s easy (and understandable) to want to bury our heads and wait for the orange monster to disappear. But yes, we must stand for truth and accountability and beauty and joy–to be the change we are waiting for.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Thank you for this post, especially your defense of truth. The lies upon lies, the fake news, the Russians, bearing the unbearable, and the contrast… The Obamas are such a class act. I will miss them so much. But again, here’s to truth! And to tea, teddy bears, and children’s books!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I respect everyone’s views, but I wouldn’t boycott anyone becoming our elected President. I agree with all you say, Jama, and love you, too. Fight the good fight. Change is inevitable, and we must go with strength to support the people who lead us, not ever forgetting who we are as American citizens. So glad you’re back with all your furry friends! I am warmed by your presence. Have you guessed what my OLW is this year? –STRENGTH I considered “acceptance” but I’m not ready to lie down yet!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Strength is a good word. We must all do what our conscience dictates. I also respect your view about boycotting the inauguration. I’ve never been a political person and highly respect the office of the presidency. I also accept the inevitability of change, which is sometimes a painful process. I do think this time my choice goes well beyond politics and/or party. It has come down to a question of human decency and morality. The one who will be inaugurated on Friday does not understand that it is a rare honor to hold the office of President, and that in this role he is there to serve all the people of this country whether they voted for him or not. He will assume a position of trust, yet more than half the country do not and cannot trust him. Tragic.

      Just show us those tax returns, buddy!

      But on a happier note, it is good to hear from you again. I appreciate your comments always!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I wrote about this coming day today too, Jama, but focused on ‘ignorance’ which allies with ‘truth’ I think. “”It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” James Baldwin I am with you all the next years, know this will be a hard week, but also knowing that you and those above are with me is a comfort. Love “And I will champion those in the media who refuse to normalize bluster. . .” Me, too! And, why do those repairs happen on holidays? We had a faucet break one Independence day, water pouring out. . . Thus, water turned off. I agree, thank goodness for those heroic repairmen! And thank you for a heroic post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great Baldwin quote, Linda. I agree that having like minded friends is a great comfort, and it’s more important than ever to support each other. Strength in numbers! I am heartened to hear that more and more Democratic lawmakers will be boycotting the inauguration too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, and I’m happy about that number increasing too. I forgot to tell you that I read from that Rilke book every day, a wonderful gift from a friend. And, you’re back, so Happy New Year!

        Liked by 2 people

  13. We are on the same wave length. Friday is a media blackout day for me, so I wouldn’t be able to read your post anyway. Truth was a contender for my word this year, but I had to go for two, Acceptance and Action. I will be marching in the Women’s March in Chicago Saturday with friends and loved ones.
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great words, Kathy! Acceptance would have been a little too tough for me. Hope you have good weather on Saturday for your march. Happy New Year to you too!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I was thinking yesterday how the week was starting with a day of service to honor a man who brought about positive change through peaceful and well-articulated means. And the week will end with … yeah, that. Sigh.

    But I’m not going to boycott. He won, and that’s that. I don’t LIKE it. At all. But this is going to be life for the next four (and hopefully ONLY four) years, and we cannot boycott life in the meantime. We’ve had dreadful presidents before and somehow we all survived as a nation, so I can only trust that the same will happen here. It will be our job to stand up for those who are at risk of being trampled – my own kid among them – and make the world as good a place as we can manage. We should take a page from Dr. King’s book – be peaceful, be persistent, be well-educated and well-articulated – and take positive action.

    On a completely separate note – ugh, no clean water! What a hassle! I definitely hope the rest of your year goes more smoothly than that. And you’re reminding me that I completely forgot to read Dumpling Soup on NYE! All our books are now upstairs in the former office annex of my BIL/SIL’s bedroom – I can get books from my “library” pretty much anytime I want, unless one of them is sleeping, but since it’s so far away from the living room, it just completely slipped my mind. Bad me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, we can’t and shouldn’t try to boycott life for the next four years — actually just the opposite. We should all take a more active role to resist anything we see as an injustice with the new administration. That means paying much more close attention to what’s going on.

      I do take exception with your comment about having dreadful Presidents before and having survived, though. Never like THIS PE, where the fundamentals of democracy are at stake. Yes, there have been dreadful Presidents before but this one is dangerous — 1. he’s mentally unstable, 2. he’s aligned himself with a foreign adversary, 3. he refuses to demonstrate any transparency re. business dealings. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. As a writer who values free speech and free expression to no end, I am especially furious at the way he’s attacked the “dishonest media.”

      Many would say that in the past, they were able to accept that their candidate of choice didn’t win, and then they went on to try to make the best of things. This time it’s vastly DIFFERENT. That’s why we’re seeing so much outrage and protests. Yes, we will “somehow survive,” but our responsibility throughout the next four years is damage control.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My apologies if I upset you with that remark. I was just thinking of how corrupt Harding was, for instance. [H]e surrounded himself with old friends from his hometown, who themselves were unqualified for the jobs they held and many of them corrupt … Harding’s choices [for his administration] across the board were perhaps the worst in American history. Sound familiar? Of course, Harding was kind enough to die only 2 years into his term. God only knows how much MORE harm he could have done, otherwise. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not to worry, I wasn’t upset at your remark at all, just trying to clarify my point. Harding was one of our worst Presidents, but somehow the scandals of his administration pale in comparison to what we’re already seeing with Trump and his cabinet choices. For all of Harding’s corruption, that didn’t set back the progress we’ve made with civil rights or women’s rights, reforms of that magnitude. The destructive ramifications just seem more far reaching this time.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Truth, togetherness, finding those small ways to make change and stand for what’s right — your post is like an echo of our dear president’s farewell speech. It it tough to keep those lights going, but you help us all and I’m so grateful. And glad you found the right plumber, too. xo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When the world outside is crazy, I tend to withdraw and find comfort in small things and quiet routine. Each of us has our own coping mechanisms. The golden rule applies more than ever. A simple thing, yet so many don’t practice it.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I like this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.:
    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

    I’ve literally had nightmares about he-who-must-not-be-named (I refuse to allow him capitalization.) I would like to ignore the media and what is going to happen on Friday, but my husband has an unexplainable curiousity; he wants to watch it. I think I’ll wash my hair while he does that…

    I’ll miss Obama and his lovely family. Here’s to better times ahead, the sooner the better. And to clean drinking water for you, immediately!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Happy New Year, Barb! Thanks for the great MLK quote. Love that one. Light and Love should be foremost in our minds as we go forward. he-who-must-not-be-named is an ongoing nightmare that’s barely begun but has already wearied us to no end. I plan a media blackout tomorrow. I hope you plan on spending several hours washing your hair :). And our water is just about back to normal now. Yay!!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Happy New Year, Jama! This post is such a welcomed read (except the water dilemma part) – I am right there with you about our impending future. TOGETHER we can make a difference. I echo your “please stay” plea to the Obamas and will be praying all day tomorrow (and everyday after that for the next four years) as I do anything other than watching the dreaded “event”. Thank you for speaking your (and my) truth so eloquently. =)

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Happy New Year! I am glad that your well is working again – it’s always terrible when things like that happen. And bottled water tea isn’t too bad either. 🙂 (By the way, did you know that if you take a large mug of tea, with a bag of black tea and a bag of peppermint tea, it tastes just like a peppermint tea…with caffeine? It’s awesome! 😀 )

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Is it too late to wish you a Happy New Year, Jama? Thanks for this wonderful post. I didn’t watch the inauguration, but I did watch and cheer on the New York City women’s march, which was practically at our doorstep, and it was amazing — peaceful and powerful. It gave me hope…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not too late. Happy New Year to you too! I saw pics of the NYC march on TV — incredible crowds. Seems very ironic that DT has lived in NYC all these years, and most of the people there can’t stand him.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. This is an amazing post! I am saving it to read again and again. You have expressed beautifully my concerns and thoughts about the new regime. Reading it reinforces my belief that there are many, many people who share my thoughts and who will not lie down in darkness.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts in such a beautiful way.


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