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Soup’s On, Part Two

Last week’s plea for soup recipes went so well, we’re bringing you more this week! Thanks to everyone for their participation. Eat hearty!

As a reminder, Ebenezer UMC at the corner of Meridian and 1100 N is having their annual soup supper today from 4:30 to 7:00 PM. This is the season of church dinners, for which we are all grateful and well-fed.

The Window Over the Sink will return to non-food-related subject matter next week. See you then and thank you again for reading. Have a great week!

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Soup’s On!

October is my favorite month of the year. Other than the occasional windy, rainy day, there’s nothing about it I don’t like. The colors, scents, sounds all create a warm and comfortable place.

So does soup, so we’re going to have my first ever cooking column here.

Our favorite is chili. Since I never make it exactly the same way twice, the recipe has some guesswork involved, but my 15-year-old son Fionnegan says it’s the best chili anywhere. How could I possibly argue with that? I hope you enjoy it.

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Life in Layers

I am a writer. I write this column, I blog, I write books. All those things are different, but at the heart of it, I’m a storyteller. I try to tell the stories in layers, so that the story’s residents are people and animals you care about and the events are ones you believe. When you reach the end, I hope you sigh with pleasure because you feel like you’ve been there.

So this evening I was thinking—I do this (or say I am) when the words aren’t coming and I’ve only written like 12 of them in the last hour—about where those layers come from.

From the past. My grandparents had a fire in the big brick house where they lived. My grandmother, skinny as a rail except for her advanced stage of pregnancy, picked up the treadle sewing machine and carried it downstairs and outside. I don’t know what else they lost, but no one was hurt and Grandma had her sewing machine. This was over 100 years ago, but the story hasn’t changed by so much as a syllable in my lifetime. I don’t know how she did it—I have one of those treadle machines and I can barely move it to clean under it—but she did. At least, so the story goes, and I’m not going to argue with it at this point.

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At the end of the day...

In 2012. I had a book out called A Soft Place to Fall, about a marriage gone wrong and how two people found ways to make it right. I still have a soft spot for that book and for long marriages. I regret that I sometimes get a little too glib when I talk about it--I make it all sound easy when it's not at all. At the end of the day, though, marriage is private and what goes on within it is not to be shared. No one really understands anyone else's. Looking back on this, my feelings toward my parents' marriage haven't changed, but I have come to realize that--at the end of that day I just mentioned--it wasn't really any of my business.

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Thinking About Things

I don’t believe I am a “things” person. I want to be comfortable and warm and look ten years younger than my age, but other than that, I don’t need a lot. Not only that, my husband and I are at a point in our lives where we need to be downsizing. Getting rid of those “things.”

Let’s talk about dishes.

We have eight place settings of Corelle dishware. It’s really old, but we like it because it’s not heavy and we like the pattern. I think we bought it the year our youngest went to college. It was part of our reinvention cycle when our nest emptied. (This could be wrong. My memory is…well, I don’t remember where I put it.) The cups that came with these dishes are little bitty. Pretty, but tiny—something like seven ounces. The bowls are nice, too, but they’re really not big enough for the vat-size servings of cereal that teenage boys (and older husbands) like to eat. And those small bowls, the ones you put healthy stuff in so you don’t have to eat a lot of it?—those didn’t come with the dishes.

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"...the wheel's still in spin..."

If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'. - Bob Dylan

I blame it on my age that I don't like change. I say I am set in my ways, that I don't have enough brain cells left to learn new things. That...well, I say lots of things, I guess, with the comment at the top of the heap being, "I just don't like it, okay?"

Much of the time, I do like change. As someone who grew up without plumbing, central heating, air conditioning, or store-bought milk, believe me when I say I sometimes downright love change. I don't want to go back to manual typewriters, car window cranks, or black-and-white television. I never want to defrost a refrigerator, clean an oven, or wax a floor ever again.

However, I remember how many changes took place in the workplace because of greed, to get rid of employees, or because the change was going to cause a boon for someone high up in the good-old-boy network. The changes didn't improve the product, lower prices, or enrich life for anyone. They were just changes for the sake of change.

I remember when all the trees were removed from one side of the tree-lined road where my parents' house was--they'd already been removed from the other side--for the sake of widening the road. The road was never widened, but its sides certainly are naked.

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I wrote this in August of 1991, when my years on bleachers were winding down, and it's been my most repeated essay ever—I put it out there every year whether readers want to see it or not. It's dated, I guess, because it's been a long time, but I still think there's very little that's better than watching your kids be engaged, whether it's in sports, band, drama, debate, or anything else. There are things I'm sorry for from my active parenting days, things I wish I'd said or done and things I wish I hadn't. But I don't regret one minute of being a spectator.

They're the parents of a player. You'll recognize them because they're the ones carrying umbrellas, rain ponchos, winter coats, a big Thirty-One bag full of blankets, and enough money for the entire family to stuff themselves on popcorn and Spanish hot dogs and nachos because there wasn't enough time for supper before the game.

They bring the weather gear even on a clear night, you'll notice, because although clouds may burst with bucketfuls of rain or snow or both, the parents won't have the option of going home or even to the car. It doesn't matter if everyone else leaves the stands--as long as the players are on the field, their parents are in the bleachers.

She's the mother of a player. You'll recognize her because she's the one whose chin wobbles and whose eyes get big when someone screams at the player she belongs to. She's the one who only claps politely when her son's name is called in the team lineup because she doesn't want anyone teasing her about being unduly biased.

She's the one who, when her son does something wonderful on the field, comes completely unglued and spills popcorn and extra blankets all over the people below her on the bleachers as she jumps up and down and screams, "Way to go, honey!"

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“…a sweet refrain…”

You can see it coming already, can’t you? The greens in the woods aren’t as bright as they were and there isn’t as much daylight in every day no matter how hard the politicians chase it. Evenings on the porch almost require a sweater, and the trees are full of birds—probably laying out their itinerary for the upcoming flight south.

The sounds changed with the start of school. Even from two miles away, we can hear the band and the voice from the booth on Friday nights when there is a home game. The leaves, just a few of them, whisper down through the darkness. I think of James Whitcomb Riley and Understood Betsy and putting on long pants for the first time in months. It’s easy to find joy in these early fall days.

Doud’s and McClure’s Orchards are picking Honeycrisp apples and even though I haven’t made an orchard run yet, I swear I can taste them already and feel the cold, sweet snap of each bite. Today I drank my first—and second and third—cups of pumpkin spice tea of the season. (I know this grosses some people out. Sorry not sorry.) Cider will come soon. Like it mulled? Here’s a recipe. https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/slow-cooker-cider/ Like mulled wine instead? Here’s another one. https://www.wellplated.com/spiced-wine/