welcome friends, soup’s on


*enters kitchen, eats three pieces of chocolate, then takes out the soup pot. . . *

Hello, Cutie Pies!

Yes, we’re finally back. 🙂

It’s so good to know I can type a few words, find you here, and share this small, safe space with you — cause things in this world seem to be getting scarier and more tumultuous with each passing day.

It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening to our country with everyone fighting and on edge all the time.



We’re exhausted, frustrated, demoralized, fearful. We feel broken and powerless in the face of unmitigated hate, corruption, and greed.

And then there’s the profound sadness —  three recent mass shootings, and the loss of Toni Morrison and Lee Bennett Hopkins last month.

What to do? How to cope?

Toni Morrison’s words inspire, ground, and uplift:

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.



When things feel broken, it’s important to make and create. That’s how to go on. From time immemorial, we’ve depended on artists to interpret the human condition — to show us all the ugliness as well as beauty in the world, and more importantly, to present a vision of what is possible for the future.

So whatever your artist hat — writer, author, editor, poet, painter, illustrator, musician — know that your work is more important than ever. We need you to champion the pure and noble heart of humanity, our invincible hope, and the sustaining power of truth! Know that life itself is a work of art, so make your life the best it can be, in every way, large and small. Whether you’re a teacher, librarian, craftsman, butcher, baker, candlestick maker 🙂 , there’s an art to a job well done. Thanks for what you bring to the table each and every day — especially when the going gets tough!

Here in our cozy kitchen, we’re looking forward to Fall (our favorite season) — with its new books, cooler days, gorgeous colors, and ‘chance to start fresh’ feeling.



Good things this month:

  • Alphabet Soup’s 12th Blog Birthday
  • September 2: our 41st Wedding Anniversary (I was a child bride) 😀
  • September 3: Official release of Read This Book If You Don’t Want a Story by Richard Phillips and Eric Zelz
  • September 10: Colin Firth’s 59th birthday (eat crème brûlée)
  • September 10: Vole and Troll by Iza Trapani hits shelves
  • September 10: Mary Oliver’s birthday (contemplate your one wild and precious life)
  • September 17: Mr Cornelius’s bearthday (he’s forever 6, but actually 31)
  • September 17: Wild in the Streets: 20 Poems of City Animals by Marilyn Singer and Gordy Wright releases (review coming soon)
  • September 17: Finding Treasure by Michelle Schaub and Carmen Saldaña officially out (review coming soon)
  • September 20: Downton Abbey movie opens in the U.S. (channel Daisy and Mrs Patmore)
  • September 30: What would have been author Alvin Tresselt’s 103rd Birthday (celebrate with a new edition of his 1959 classic, The Smallest Elephant in the World, illustrated by Milton Glaser)
  • September 30: Truman Capote’s birthday (watch “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”)



As you can see, Mr Cornelius and the Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers are back to their usual shenanigans — only too happy to play new games, pose for photos, nosh on snacks, and revel in mischief.



They were especially pleased when their new friend Kamala recently dropped by. She loves to cook and enjoys korma and chicken masala — and she’s so smart. We loved hearing stories about when she was little and her mom, Shyamala, baked Special-K cereal cookies for her and her younger sister Maya. Of course the “K” stood for Kamala. 🙂



These days, despite her busy schedule, Kamala makes it a point to cook dinner with her family every Sunday. Her husband Doug wears goggles when he chops onions, and her  stepdaughter Ella (who calls her “Momala”), makes fabulous desserts.



Listening to her, we were also reminded that America is a one-of-a-kind soup, an original recipe made from scratch with lots of different flavors and ingredients from many cultures. It’s been simmering for centuries and sometimes boils over, but its essential goodness remains. We just need to remember that it wouldn’t taste the same if certain things were left out.



So, here’s to soup! You can always count on it no matter what. Dip your spoons deep into bowls of wisdom, enlightenment, and memory. Life at its finest is yours for the slurping.



“Girl Eating Soup” by Albert Anker (1831-1910)


by Timothy Walsh

If enlightenment were a soup,
it would have lentils in it,
lots of lentils and garlic,
slow-cooked with carrots and tomatoes,
with a garnish of fresh parsley.

If pumpkin soup with ginger and nutmeg were a story,
it would tell a tale of olden times
where people lived amid burnished autumn light,
caught up in bittersweet loves and losses,
never fully realizing how quaint and beautiful
were the lives they led.

Other things that could be soups
are memory, music, Christmas and twilight,
For nostalgia, onion soup is best,
since root crops remember.

Can you see how we slurp up enlightenment in spoons?
Can you taste the story in your soup bowl —
the characters, the landscape, and all that happens?

Spoons are shaped to both fit a mouth and carry soup
the way our minds are shaped to anticipate and remember.

In September, if we all put up a few quarts of potato-leek,
it may carry us through till spring.


“Carrot and Dandelion Soup Again?” by Alison Gates




In honor of his bearthday, Mr Cornelius wants you to have some of this (he loves creating recipes):


Cornelius's Bear Hug Soup

  • Servings: 1,253
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • unconditional love
  • 251 cups of kindness
  • 28 naps
  • 34,013 bars of dark chocolate
  • 23 Paddington bear stories (with marmalade)
  • 560 fruit pies, warm and flaky
  • 89 episodes of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood
  • 157 Beatles songs
  • 45 polka dot bowties
  • 19 pairs of shiny tap shoes
  • a baton or two
  • 88 dapper top hats
  • 72 neatly trimmed mustaches


  1. Look in the mirror. If you don’t already have a mustache growing on your face, stick one on. Share the other 71 mustaches with grouchy people in the grocery store.
  2. Eat dark chocolate at hourly intervals, pausing to savor how divine it is.
  3. Put on a dapper top hat and polka dot bowtie, pick up a baton, and tap dance to an upbeat Beatles tune (e.g., “When I’m Sixty Four,” “For You Blue”).
  4. Invite Colin Firth, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Roger Federer, Mayor Pete, and James Corden over for tea. Serve warm fruit pies, and ask Colin to read Paddington stories aloud. If Dylan doesn’t talk to you, don’t take it personally.
  5. Take blissful naps whenever you fancy them.
  6. If you sense the slightest amount of distress, watch an episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. When you feel calmer, eat more pie.
  7. Share generous servings of love and kindness whenever possible, remembering what Juliet said to Romeo: “The more I give to thee, the more I have.”
  8. Feel free to add additional ingredients at any time, as long as they make you or someone else happy.


  1. Wear an extra large bib while eating this soup. Best served at room temperature with amiable spoons.
  2. This soup doesn’t freeze well, but magically won’t spoil, no matter how long you leave it out. It will taste just as good whenever you decide to eat some more.
  3. Optional garnishes: a jigger of Dylan’s Heaven’s Door Tennessee Bourbon, James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney, 3 of Anderson Cooper’s giggles, men in tuxedos.


    ~ Copyright 2019 Cornelius Rattigan, as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.




Mr Cornelius hopes you slurp up his Bear Hug Soup whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Be a light in the darkness, and let’s continue to do what we do best: “We speak, we write, we do language.”

Before you go, please have some cake. Don’t be surprised if you turn into a handsome bear. 🙂


12 Paddingtons for 12 years of Alphabet Soup!






Poetry Goddesses Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell are hosting the Roundup at Poetry for Children. Tap dance on over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the bloggy world this week. Enjoy your weekend!



This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best bibs and aprons, and come join the feast!

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

91 thoughts on “welcome friends, soup’s on

  1. Yay! for Sweet Cake & Savory Soup (I lucked out with some of the best letters!)
    This post brings a new to me gifted poet (Timothy Walsh) as it often does & also the soothing yet catalytic feeling that moments of morose, moribund & muddy mindset from me have Got. To. Stop.
    Appreciations for the new title joy & the laughs amid the commiseration for the abysmal condition of Nationparts (only weak, ugly parts) of our Great Nation. I love the folks in the soup cans & seeing our great Ms. Ginsberg. So much wonderfulness we are reminded of here, you creative Cheer Leader.

    Thank you for sharing our sadness about losing LBH & TM.
    And for the charge to create & continue.
    I am so uplifted, dear Jama.

    I’ll be late with my post today. Have an article running in our daily newspaper this weekend & will
    link to it when I manage to add my Bookseedstudio blog to our fellowship of the Poetry Friday party.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jan! So glad this post cheered you up a little. Timothy Walsh is new to me too — I’m an instant fan of anyone who writes about soup like he does. 🙂 RBG is SO inspiring. Though I didn’t post anything for the LBH tribute PF, I did read most of the posts. He will be sorely missed; still can’t believe he’s really gone.

      Looking forward to reading your PF post later this afternoon.


      1. Thank you! It likely will be up Sunday or Monday… you are so kind dear Jama.
        And I savor an idea of 41 soups for September, your anniversary month.
        I bet your hubby is already thinking of where you two might dine-out & also what you two might dine-in, on! 🙂 Many joys of the wedding-memory month to you both!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Welcome back, Jama! It’s so nice to see your lovely words and photos again on this blog.
    “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
    I love this quote. I was just listening to an episode of Oprah’s Supersoul Conversations with guest Rain Wilson. He said that art is prayer. Everytime each of us creates something, we’ve engaged in prayer. There is so much to pray about right now- so much art that needs to be made.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing about Rain Wilson — I LOVE that observation that art is prayer. YES!! It’s both prayer and meditation, and a path to healing, both for the creator and those who enjoy the art.


  3. Lovely to see you back, Jama! Happy Birthday, Cornelius & Happy Anniversary to you & Len. I love each part, a big bear hug for this day, and “it wouldn’t taste the same if certain things were left out.” touched me muchly! I have another soup poem on my frig, will now post this wonderful one, too, Jama. “Taste the story”- I will! Thanks for every bit!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for slurping with us today, Linda!! I see you’ve brought a big spoon for lots of stories :). As you can see, Blue Bear is having a ball; able to pull his weight against Mr C and 70-something Paddingtons. Glad you enjoyed the soup poem!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Somehow I think I understand better why I love soup so much! Thank you for pointing out that there is much to celebrate, including soup, even though the world feels like such an awful place these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We really have to try extra hard to focus on the good these days. Despair is a slippery slope, so it’s a good thing we have each other for support.


  5. Congratulations on your anniversaries this month! As always, your post is such a feast. I love the line “Can you taste the story in your soup bowl —” in Walsh’s poem. It reminded me of the many stories that are in my grandmother’s vegetable soup. To her, it mattered how the soup looked, how it smelled, and of course how it tasted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your grandmother’s vegetable soup sounds like the BEST. There’s no substitute for such a rich store of love, memories, and family history.


  6. Wonderful post! Congratulations on your blog and marriage anniversaries! Thank you for Toni Morrison’s words that urge us to continue to create to rise above the chaos around us and perhaps make a difference. Love the Kamala bit and all your wonderful dolls and bears!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Joyce. Toni’s words are powerful and just what we need right now. No matter the chaos we find ourselves in, there is always something to be learned, some kernel of wisdom . . .


  7. OMG, your M&Ms!! Colin Firth/Alphabet Soup M&Ms!!!

    Welcome back! Thank you for making sure we have a bright spot in our days. Happy early anniversary to you and your husband! (Other happy Sept events: my BIL/SIL’s 28th anniversary on the 7th, coinciding with what WOULD have been my grandparents’ 85th anniv. And my husband and I will celebrate our 22nd on the 27th. 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Welcome HOME! What a delightful and nourishing post–so needed after being out in “the wars” of the world. The bears and the soup and the cake are sweet. I slurp the enlightenment from this post slowly allowing the warmth to fill me. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your post is rich and simply wonderful, brimming with creativity and thoughtful reflection. As a huge soup fan, I was thrilled with the introduction to Timothy Walsh. Welcome back, Happy Anniversary, and thank you for this fabulous post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yay! I love your posts. So many great things here — and so much to celebrate. You know my favorite is Colin Firth’s birthday — though I hardly need an excuse to eat crème brûlée (pretty much my favorite!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, who can resist Colin? He keeps getting handsomer as the years go by. I don’t need an excuse to eat crème brûlée either, but since it’s his favorite, I’ll eat two servings. 🙂


  11. Welcome back, Jama! Your blog posts are absolute bliss– so artfully created and full of heart and personality! THANK YOU for bringing this joy to the world and happy blog anniversary and bearthday to Cornelius! Big hug!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words and enthusiasm, Sylvia. It’s nice to be back and visit all the PF blogs again. Participating in PF for 12 years has been such a special part of my blogging experience.


  12. The most wonderful welcome to Fall I could ever imagine. Thank you, Jama, for all. BEAR HUGS for the birthday(s), anniversary, blogiversary, and soul-celebrations! Love the recipe – I think the ratio of dark chocolate to dapper top hats is just right.
    Speaking of guests mentioned, I got to shake Mayor Pete’s hand a couple-few weeks ago! And, while still out of town as hurricane evacuees, we went out for pizza with grown kids last night. My PETE 2020 tee shirt ended up scoring us some free beers, in a typically very conservative county…. ha! (& Thanks, Pete!) XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m envious that you got to meet Mayor Pete — aside from his many talents and qualifications and whip smart intellect, I happen to think he’s adorable. 🙂 Yay for free beers and sharing pizza with grown kids! Fingers crossed you won’t have any property damage from Dorian. Mr C is thrilled you approve of the dark chocolate to top hat ratio (your opinion is so important to him). He worked hard on his recipe and kept eating more chocolate to make sure the quantity was just right.


    1. Hello hello! Great hearing from you, Laurie. When I first ordered the Colin Firth M&Ms (a couple of years ago), I did eat some because you can’t order just a small quantity from the website. I’ve kept a small stash just for props now.


  13. Thank you from the bottom of my soup bowl for this nourishing heart hug!

    Always grateful for your spirit-lifting posts and community. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very welcome, Cathy. Nice to be back and hear from you again. Recently my brother gifted me with a stuffed moose from Maine — remembered your book, of course. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Welcome back and happy anniversary! Your whole post is a generous helping of bear hug soup, especially the inspiring words from Toni Morrison. When I look at the world, it does seem like a scary time, but poetry and kindness sustain me and keep the worry somewhat at bay. I’ve been trying to focus on the small, local things I can do to make my corner of the world a little bit better. According to an article in The Atlantic I read earlier today, I may not be alone. While gridlock and dysfunction paralyze and threaten us all at the national and world levels, people are rolling up their sleeves to solve problems together at more local levels. I find much hope there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kay! Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I also find poetry and kindness sustaining, and it does really help to focus on small things one can do at a local level to make things better. The big picture is SO overwhelming, but really grass roots efforts count for a lot. Each to each, hand in hand, vote by vote — change can happen.


  15. Jama, you are truly a child at heart. Always enjoyable reading your posts, and I do hope you both had a very enjoyable anniversary celebration!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Claudia — we extended our celebration for an entire week. 🙂 I guess I will always be a child at heart — forever 9 years old.


  16. Just catching up on my reading, so I’m a little behind here. Thank you so much for this. It warmed my heart, made me smile, and–if I didn’t have a stomach bug–would have made me hungry for sure. 🙂 Welcome back, Jama & Cornelius & Crew. So comforting to read your words of wisdom. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.