joy soup for a new blue year

“I’m a ‘blue sky thinker’ and dream big.” ~ Hilary Knight

Hello Cutie Pies, and Hello Brand New Year!!

Yes, we’re back. Actually, we’re back and BLUE. Once again.

It feels good to open a new calendar and be a member of the Clean Slate Club. As Anne Shirley said, “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.” Oh, the possibilities!

Come what may, COOKIES are always a good idea — along with warm cups of tea, a comfy chair, and a good book or two or five hundred. 🙂

We’re all bears here (oh, you’ve noticed?). Hibernate is the name of the game. 🐻

So, did you have a good holiday? One of the nicest things to happen here was welcoming a new resident, BLUE BEAR.

He arrived on our doorstep thanks to the kindness and generosity of dear blogger friend Linda Baie, who hangs out at TeacherDance. Not too long ago, I stumbled across a photo of Big Blue Bear online; those of you who are from or have visited Denver are probably familiar with him, as he’s been peeking into the Colorado Convention Center since 2005.

But until a couple of months ago, I did not know he existed! Yes, I lead a sheltered life, but one would THINK that since Len travels to Denver sometimes on business, he would have mentioned Big Blue Bear at some point. He’s lived with over 300 bears for 30-odd years and knows very well I would want to know about this cool 40-ft high, 10,000 pound sculpture. Men!


“I See What You Mean”/Big Blue Bear was created by the late Lawrence Argent, an art professor at the University of Denver.


Anyway, I posted a photo of Big Blue Bear on FB for one of my “Tuesday Bear Hugs,” and Linda, who lives in Colorado, offered to pick up a Blue Bear for me on her next trip to the art museum.

Needless to say, Mr Cornelius and all the other AS kitchen helpers and bit players welcomed him with open paws, and he’s been happily noshing with us ever since. He’s just the right kind of bear to THINK BLUE, VOTE BLUE, AND BELIEVE IN BLUE.

Thank you, Linda — you are a true blue friend. 🙂

Now, to set us on the right path for the new year, here’s a life-affirming poem about embracing joy. January is National Soup Month, so have a big bowl!


“Chicken Noodle Soup” by Susan Avis Murphy


by William Palmer

“We should start cooking/the joy soup.” – Rumi

Too much sad soup will turn
your raspberries gray.

Sleeping all day won’t make
them red again.

But Someone is pulling up
humble carrots, rutabagas,

and sweet potatoes.
Someone is busy

in the kitchen of the heart
with the window wide open.

Someone is cooking joy soup
with mint leaves.

Let the aroma pull you awake
and draw you toward the pot.

Watch the light simmer on top.
Someone waits for you.

~ from Poetry East: No. 90, Spring 2017, edited by Richard Jones (DePaul University).

“The Soup” by Pablo Picasso (1902)


There’s nothing more comforting than soup!

During these tough times (and 2019 promises to be another roller coaster ride), a good way to stay focused and positive is to gravitate towards the light whenever possible. Even better, BE the light.

My favorite part of Palmer’s poem is, “Someone is busy/in the kitchen of the heart/with the window wide open.” I love that generosity of spirit — let’s seek out and cherish the good people who add kindness, tolerance, hope, faith, laughter, and of course, love, to their soups. Welcome nourishment for a weary world.

As I’ve said many times before, no act of kindness is ever too small. When encountering someone as you go about your daily business, do keep this in mind: what you say or do in that moment (a quick hello, even a friendly nod or smile), could make that person’s day. It’s not inconceivable that your smile or hello ends up being his/her final memory. You just never know. You only have one shot to make a good first (and possibly lasting) impression.

Speaking of focusing on the positive, what about this:

I’m feeling optimistic this year with all these badass women in Washington.

Hooray for the BLUE WAVE that washed ashore last November! Now the hard work really begins.

We have to keep taking tiny, measured steps forward,

Maira Kalman


believe in heroes who know how to rock the BLUES,

and continue to invoke our creative muses:



Did you notice Paul’s blue shoes? Did you?!

*sigh, quickened pulse, flush, swoon*

Wow, all that idolatry can make a person mighty hungry. 😀

Good thing Mr Cornelius and Blue Bear made some restorative ‘Joy Soup.’ Hearty and comforting, Ham and Potato Corn Chowder is just the thing for a chilly winter’s day. We topped ours with bacon bits and enjoyed a slice of oh-so-yummy sourdough boule with it.



Here, taste it:


(If you’d like to make your own, click over to closetcooking for the recipe, which includes tasty options as well as nutrition information.)

Meanwhile, we’re looking forward to serving up more mouthwatering goodies here at Alphabet Soup in 2019. Stay tuned for our regular menu of picture book and cookbook reviews, sample recipes, Cool Things roundups, artist/illustrator features, interviews, and of course poetry every Friday.



THINK BLUE worked last year — together we were able to conjure up some powerful blue juju that made a difference. Join us this year as we continue to BELIEVE IN BLUE, and the truth, heart, freedom, trust, strength, and loyalty it symbolizes. Here’s to the expansiveness of the sky and sea, the widening of civil discourse, the opening of minds.


Julia Pavlova




HAPPY 2019!


P.S. The Youth Media Awards are coming up on Monday, January 28, 2019 (ALA Midwinter Meeting is in Seattle this year). Wouldn’t it be totally cool if a “blue” picture book created by a female illustrator won the Caldecott? Just sayin’ . . .

My picks:


P.P.S. So sad to hear of Mary Oliver’s passing yesterday. What a unique vision of the world she had. I’d venture to say she won over more poetry skeptics (esp. those who considered poetry too elitist) than any other female poet of our time. Her poems were refreshingly accessible, and she opened many hearts.





The beautiful and talented Tricia Stohr-Hunt is hosting the Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Sail or fly on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week.




“Perfect Wind” greeting card by Pamela Zagarenski

* Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

51 thoughts on “joy soup for a new blue year

  1. That bear Linda found you! A wonderful addition to your fam. I adore Julia Pavlova’s blue artwork. Thanks for the gorgeous, nourishing post, Jama. (I could use some of that chowder!)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jama,

    William Palmer’s poem is so comforting, just like a warm bowl of soup. Reading it made me think of a poetry anthology I have on my shelf that I think you’d enjoy: THE HUNGRY EAR, POEMS OF FOOD & DRINK. So many lovely food-related poems in this book, including several by Mary Oliver.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michelle. I have that anthology — it’s definitely one of my favorites — need to reread the Mary Oliver poems in it now.


  3. I love your blue! A few days ago I was at the Dollar Tree and while looking at the jigsaw puzzles I spotted a puzzle with a white background with blue objects. I picked it up and spotted another but with green objects. Then behind that a yellow one and finally a red one. They all came home with me. I don’t plan on opening them, but just setting them on display in my sewing room. They make me happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aw, so happy to see that the blue bear is welcome and happy in his new home, Jama. Thanks for the shout-outs. It was fun to help his travels to you, ever blue-loving. I’m amazed that you found so many of those wonderful pictures of your favorites in blue, including Paddington. I just sticky-noted a minestrone soup recipe for the weekend, snow in our forecast! You might like “Everybody Makes Soup” by Lisa Coffman, or perhaps you already know it! Much to love today in your first new year’s post, like “Watch the light simmer on top.” and “Joy is not made to be a crumb”. A nice person bought my Starbucks drink this past week. I passed it on later! Happy Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I did not know Coffman’s poem. Thanks SO much for mentioning it. More simmering light! So nice to hear about the Starbucks drink — there are good, kind people out there for sure.

      Thanks again for sending Blue Bear. He’s getting a lot of attention and is the perfect gentleman. We love good manners around here. He’s very curious, though . . . 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Looking forward to more Jama blues this year! Thanks for the news about Mary Oliver—I didn’t know that and she’s one of my favorites. Her wonderful poem, “When Death Comes,” takes on a new meaning today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So many wonderful Mary Oliver tributes on social media and amongst the PF gang today. Her work is such a gift for us all; her words will continue to inspire and uplift.


    1. Thanks, Matt. Nice to be back and blue. 🙂 Hope 2019 turns out to be a very productive year for you — you seem to be juggling many projects, never a dull moment.


  6. So happy to be bathed in BLUE again, Jama :). My husband is from Berlin, the bear city. There are cool and colorful buddy bears everywhere.

    I am another kind of blue over Mary Oliver’s passing, but have found comfort in re-visiting her poems. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why didn’t I know that Berlin is the bear city? Sounds wonderful!
      Sad though the news of her passing is, it *has* been very comforting and uplifting to read more of her poems the last 2 days. Her words about mortality certainly resonate with new meaning now.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Where to begin… Thanks for this extraordinary, spectacular, blu-ti-ful, joy-filled blue post–sending hugs and kisses for it. I think I may want to come back and visit it when the world seems a little less blue. Love the superwoman coming out of the Campbells soup can–soup is such a nourishing food in so many ways. BTW do you know if this Susan in your image from above, “Chicken Noodle Soup” by Susan Avis Murphy is also an artist, for I know of a person by this name who is…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Susan Avis Murphy is definitely an artist — from Maryland, I think? Found some of her work on Pinterest, and this “Chicken Noodle Soup” print on Amazon, of all places. Thanks for the hugs and kisses :).


  8. Thanks! Am feeling blue myself so I really needed the boost from your writings. The pic with the Blue Bear and Ruth Ginsberg was fun! And the blue pic of Colin was like warm hug! Hauoli Makahiki Hou!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry you’ve got the blues, Li. It’s weird how listening to the blues or looking at blue things makes you feel better. Blue can be sad, but it can also be glad. Just like yellow — we often think of it as a cheery color, until we think of sallowness or cowards.


  9. A blue-tiful post, Jama. Love your new blue bear, want the soup, the poems make me sing – and the thoughts for things getting better. My son gave me a blueberry bush for Christmas. Not big, but already producing blueberries. Each one I pick is a joy, and now when I eat them I will also think of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, a blueberry bush — what a cool gift! Happy to hear it’s already producing blueberries! That must be a sign that 2019 is going to be a good year for you. 🙂


  10. Jama, what a wonderful visit this has been. I’ve spent the last day sleeping off a virus … almost missing Poetry Friday altogether and I woke up this morning to come here and I feel loads better. I’m adding “be with Jama as she creates a PF blog post” to my life’s bucket list. Your creativity and ability to make meaningful connections is so inspiring! Oh, and you add the bits of fun too–that bacon on the top of the soup! Well done, you. I’ve missed your particular brand of joy and celebrate that its back for 2019.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to hear about the virus, Linda, but glad you’re feeling better today. Both Len and I came down with colds a few days ago. Seems so many are sick these days. We need a personal chef to cook for us! I’m glad you enjoyed the post — making them is often a “wracking the brain for ideas” situation. Somehow taking a few pictures sparks the thought process.


  11. Oh my! Jama, how did you know that’s exactly what my soul needed–a poem, soup, blue everything, and a friend who thought to send you a bear. Have you seen Nanette on Netflix? It’s a monologue/stand-up routine by Hannah Gadsby that’s also a critique of comedy and society. It’s heavy and not for young audiences. But I thought of it because there’s a small section in the middle all about blue. It’s brilliant as is the entire carefully crafted and performed essay. Thank you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad to hear this post hit the spot for you, Liz. And yes, I have seen “Nanette!” It blew me away and I need to see it again. Yay for BLUE!


  12. This is such a rich post, Jama. I think Blue Bear was meant to live at your house. I am reading the soup poem right after enjoying a bowl of chicken noodle for dinner. I still wear the alphabet soup necklace you sent me with great pride (and the joy of school children, who are entranced by the miniature soup spoon.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yum for chicken noodle soup — and nice to hear the necklace is still intact! Yes, Blue Bear was meant to join the gang. Grateful to Linda for making it possible :).


  13. Thank you for this rich, blue post! And welcome back after your holiday break. I love everything in it from the quote from Anne Shirley (one of my favorites) to the Joy Soup. I will have to check out the recipe for ham and potato chowder later…today my husband’s favorite butternut squash soup will warm up a cold and snowy day.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. How about you come with Len next trip to Denver and I will personally ride the light rail downtown to meet you and have tea with Blue Bear? Here’s hoping…


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