Tuesday, October 26, 2010

And Now Deep Thoughts ...

As I write this, I am sitting on my screened-in porch, a blanket tucked around my shoulders as I enjoy the peaceful aftermath of a violent mid-day storm. My dog, Maggie, is tucked at my side while the other two pooches patrol for squirrels in the crisp, gray air. There is no traffic, no construction, no lawn mowers or boats. In this moment, there is only me, and the ebb and flow of the leaves in the wind, rolling like grains of sand caught in gentle waves on the beach.

To me, this is pretty close to heaven. The only thing that could make this better is my husband at arm’s length and a warm cup of cocoa. For someone else, this could be pure hell. Nothing to distract, nothing to provide company or entertainment, no one to talk to or to laugh with. And yet, here I am, peacefulness in my soul and joy in my heart.

This weekend, Kirk and I glimpsed a different kind of joy. Visiting our oldest friends, we marveled at the fact that they created three small people between them—the youngest only a handful of months in this world. Three little mini-me’s with curly hair, and bright smiles, swift anger and even faster joy. Their house is filled to the rafters with shouting, and toys, and worries, and hopes, and always dreams. There is not a quiet corner to be had as their lives rattle forward, full steam ahead.

I am glad for them, and their choices that brought them such a distinctly different life. For these small visits, measured by hours a few times a year, I am happy to play horse to a young cowboy and to teach a handful of foreign words to a curious little learner. I am pleased to quiet cries and scold naughtiness and praise good deeds. When we drive away, it is with no sadness or regret, just looking forward to the next visit, the next moment our lives intersect, when their tiny bodies have grown that much more, acting as yardsticks for my own march in time.

My mom reminded me that our visit was much like the visit of my mother’s oldest friend – affectionately called our aunt - when I was of an age still measured in months. The three of us under five, my aunt came cross country to see us, particularly me—the newest edition. I have a picture of her holding me in front of a church where we lived. I in ruffley pink, she fresh faced and grinning, it is an oddly timeless moment, despite the aging colors of the decades-old photograph.

It struck me as odd, almost surreal, like I had come full circle. From the wide-eyed infant in one picture to the broadly smiling “Aunt” in the next, it was as if the time in between had curled in on itself, revealing the circular path of our journeys in this world. Every thirty years or so, the next generation pops up, an endless recycling of events that each person thinks is unique, but is as old as time. Children being born, graduations, marriages, and everything in between.

It made me feel closer to my parents, and grandparents, and those ancestors I never even knew, to know that they traveled similar journeys. They visited with old friends and sat around a kitchen table late into the night, laughing and chatting and reminiscing. Sometimes marveling at how much life had changed, and how far they had come from the days past. Perhaps they even shook their heads in wonder at how lives started so similarly had meandered so far in such various directions.

My friend wondered aloud this weekend at the impact our choices have on our lives. The infinite realities that could have been, each one connected to a different choice, one even as simple as where you chose to eat lunch. I can appreciate the thought in theory, but for me, there is only the path I am on. I don’t worry for the outcome of the choices not made, but instead give thanks for the ones that I did make.

My choices have been just right for me, just as others’ choices—so very different from mine—have been just right for them. Joy pervades my life in so many ways. Even amongst worries for the future – for my career, and money, and the direction that each of my choices lead—I go forth with peace and happiness for where I am, for the people I love, for the pups that make me smile, and, of course, for the husband who makes me swoon.

Do you sometimes marvel at life? Caught off-guard by the continual slipping of days going by? Are you happy for your choices, which brought you to where you are?

So, on a cool autumn day, what would be better than one of my all-time favorite cool-weather dinners: Taco Soup! The recipe below is copied word for word from the recipe given to me years earlier by the very friends we visited this weekend. Enjoy!

Taco Soup Recipe:

1 cup of love

1 packet of Hidden Valley ranch dressing (powder)

1 packet of taco seasoning

1-1.5 pounds of ground beef or turkey (optional)

1 can of pinto beans (drained)

2 cans of shoepeg corn or 1 large package of frozen white and yellow sweet corn

2 humungous cans of petite diced tomatoes

2 cans of mild Rotel

1/2 chopped onion (browned with meat or in oil if no meat)

sour cream

cheddar cheese

Fritos scoops (I used tortilla chips)

Brown the meat and onions together, drain.

Combine the love, ranch, taco seasoning, browned beef and onions, beans, corn,

tomatoes, and Rotel into a large crock pot. You may adjust amount of ingredients depending on how many you are serving. Put the crockpot on low for 4-5 hours (or high for 1-2 hours). When it is done, put in bowls and top with cheddar cheese and sour cream. Place scoops around bowl. Dip scoops, lift scoops, place scoops and soup into mouth. Chew vigorously. Say mmm mmm good.


  1. Thanks, Kristina! I'm so glad that you dropped by to say hello :)

  2. Not only do you make fabulous groom's cakes . . . you can flat-out write, too. (And Kate will tell you I don't dish out that particular praise quickly or easily!) Glad you're a lovely part of Kate's lovely life!!
    Linda B.

  3. What a wonderful thing to say, Linda! I'm so glad you enjoy both my baking and my writing :) I'm happy that our lives have intersected over Kate's happy occasions, and I look forward to the next time we meet again. Hopefully over cupcakes ;)

  4. Another lovely post, as usual. :) This time of year I do think about a lot of the things you mentioned -- my mom passed away 20 years ago this week, and my birthday is coming up -- so I like to reflect on "the path" and where I'm at. I'm more appreciative of the twists and turns now than when I was younger -- it'll make for more interesting memoirs! LOL

    Oh, and I used your apple pie last week to make MY VERY FIRST APPLE PIE. It was yummy. It wasn't beautiful -- I consider it my "first draft", but it was SO tasty. I can't wait to make a "final draft" one soon. LOL

  5. WOOHOO, Donna!! Way to go on the first draft apple pie, lol! I'm so glad it was yummy ... and it makes me want one :)
    It sounds like this month is definitely one to cause reflection for you. I hope that your life is a lovely one, and I for one would love to see that twisty memoir of yours!

    PS - Happy (early) birthday! Send your address to erinkellywrites@yahoo.com, along with your favorite cupcake flavor, and I'll send a pack your way :) What the heck, I'm feeling spunky. And, after being such a loyal commenter and writing that lovely blog about me in August, I do believe you have earned them :)

  6. I remember that visit with our Aunt, when you were a baby and I was 5...she taught me about being good to animals and gave me an honorary Humane Society medal that I still have to this day, and in doing so, instilled in me a life long love of animals. So wild to think of you filling that roll now with your friends! Yes, time is a slippery little sucker. And I find it endlessly fascinating that it's not only our choices, but others choices that impact our lives as well. Heck, if my agent hadn't chosen to send me to have a meeting with a woman because he thought we'd hit it off -- I never would have met my best friend Lindsay and married her brother:) Or, since I believe we were meant to be together, I suppose I would have, but it may have happened at a totally different time. So I can thank my agent for more than a career:) In other news: I LOVE THIS SOUP SOOO MUCH! Everyone needs to try it!!

  7. Erin, this soup sounds delicious.It's just another example of how you radiate joy and light up the world around you every day. I feel so lucky to have found you for a friend and critique partner.

  8. Erin, I've sent you my address, and you're so kind to share your treats like that!

    And I re-read my post and realized I left out the word "recipe" when describing the apple pie I'd made from YOUR recipe. LOL

    I haven't started working on the memoir just yet. I suspect I'll wait til I can't remember anything and I'll just have to make it up -- that might be more fun to read anyway!

  9. Oh my goodness, Clarissa, you are so sweet! Well, I think like attracts like, and I certainly return the sentiments. I don't know where I'd be without your wonderful friendship - not to mention your help with my writing :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

  10. As John and I will celebrate our 6 years of marriage this Saturday, it is definitely a time of reflection regarding our choices. I stepped out of my comfort zone in June 2001 when I took a chance and approached my future husband. I'm glad I took the chance and thankful he made the choice to pick me as his one and only. Since then, we have been through many things big and small. Each and every moment shaping who we are today. Fall is a beautiful time of year with all the changes that happen around us in nature. It has always been my favorite time of the year.

  11. Amazing how those choices can shape a lifetime, isn't it, Rhonda? It's such a blessing when they turn out for the better :) Thanks so much for dropping by to say hello!

  12. I too am the "aunt" who sweeps into town, to give hugs and kisses, presents that weren't expected and who looks the other way when they might be doing something mom and dad wouldn't approve of. "Cool Aunt Leslie" LOL

    It's ironic that I read this post today because I am struggling with a choice that may impact me in either a good or bad way. I kinda wish I had someone to make the choice for me, but it is something that only I can decide. Life is strange that way.

  13. It's fun being the cool Aunt, isn't it Leslie? :)

    Best of luck with your decision. Whatever your choice, I hope that it is the right one for you!

  14. "I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference."
    Seems the last stanza of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" is definitely apropos here...wonder if he wrote it over a bowl of that wonderful sounding taco soup. ;-) Another interesting and revealing post EK...wonderfully introspective!

  15. Thanks, Dad :) I have always loved that poem (along with many others, lol), and I think perhaps it is appropriate here. Taco soup, mmmm...I think I'll make it tonight!