Advent, Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Mark

Be Aware

Every morning, I begin the day with oatmeal. For the past few months, I've eaten organic quick oats, cooked right in the bowl, in the microwave. I give it a minute, and then stir, then another 30 seconds, then stir again, then one last zap adjusted to the "doneness" of the oatmeal.

Sometimes I forget I've put the oatmeal in the microwave, become distracted by helping LP get out the door to school or read an email on my laptop and begin to think about something else entirely.

But Sam never forgets the oatmeal. He listens for the process to start, comes into the kitchen, and assumes the position, stretched out longwise in the narrow space between the refrigerator and the stove, head up, alert to the possibilities.

This morning, because LP isn't feeling well, I got to the oatmeal later than usual. Before I finished preparing it, Pure Luck put on his outdoor gear and called Sam to go for a walk.

Sam did not move.

He looked at me, searchingly, no doubt wondering, where is the oatmeal? He gets to lick the bowl when I finish, you see, and he looks forward to it every morning. For this he remains alert.

When I got up to read the gospel lesson this past Sunday, I misspoke. Where the gospel writer cautioned, "Beware," I read, "Be aware." Those are the watchwords for Advent, and they run counter to the season in some ways. While we attend to mailing packages and Christmas cards, to finishing Christmas knitting or setting up for the Holly Jolly Fair, to hosting or attending gatherings with friends and family, when will we find the time to be aware?

It sounds simple. I look at Sam. Every morning, he listens for the sound of the lid coming off the oatmeal canister, the quarter cup measure in the oats, the milk pouring into the liquid measuring cup and then into the bowl. Perhaps he even hears the top come off the cinnamon and the quiet sprinkle of the warm brown spice; it's possible, if you listen carefully.

Be aware! Keep alert!

Sam would not go to Pure Luck. I said, "Don't worry, buddy. I'll save the bowl for you. Go now."

And so he did.

19 thoughts on “Be Aware”

  1. Oh, I love that story and the moral of “beware.” It’s perfect for Advent.
    What a funny coincidence; I posted about dogs and routine this morning too.

  2. how much liquid do you use to make your oatmeal in the microwave? That would be SO MUCH simpler than using my one appropriate-sized pot every morning!
    I love your writing. thank you!

  3. I read Ruth’s post immediately before coming here. I thought you two had colluded!
    Be aware. This is not the season to sleep walk. Very good!

  4. Sam: coronary artery health watchdog!!!
    I make a big pot of steel cut oats each weekend and then microwave servings of it in the AM. We have “cinnyum” on it too, and a little brown sugar.

  5. Great story! I love the image of Sam stoically waiting for his oatmeal. And I’m glad that there’s someone else who lets their dog lick a dish.

  6. I didn’t realize that was a question!
    (No, really, I did. I do use the sani-rinse function on the dishwasher.)

  7. I eat different kinds of hot cereal several days a week, and this makes me remember to try the cooking in milk idea…
    Also to say thanks for re-highlighting the chocolate apocalypse cake recipe. I made it for Thanksgiving, added a little glaze, and it was enthusiastically gobbled by all, leaving the apple pie in the dust.

  8. My pets keep time during the day better than my clock.
    I’m glad Sam gets to lick the oatmeal bowl.

  9. So there are at least three of us who let the dogs lick the dish (and I do have a dishwasher, too). Of course, the trouble with dogs is, if it happens once, it has to happen every time, in their minds. So no matter what it is, Rusty wants to lick the dish and will jump and jump to tell us so.

  10. I knew there was a reason to think about getting a dog – to pretreat for my dishwasher. (I say that quietly in very small print so my kids and husband do not hear me… nor the cats!)
    Stopping to listen is something animals seem to do… and us humans not so much. thanks..
    And I’m a big fan of oatmeal too! 🙂
    d
    still thinking about that pink stripe…

  11. Teri, I got organic quick oats at Whole Foods, their store brand “365.” The trick to microwaving is they have to be the quick kind. I make 1/4 cup of oats with a scant 1/2 cup of skim milk. Yum! (Okay, there may be a little butter and brown sugar added before it’s “yum.”)

  12. “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.” Ps. 145:15
    ((Sam))
    I have one just like him, you know, and she pretreats most of the Scientist’s dishes before they go into the dishwasher. We call her Soap and Water (do you know that old joke?) The Scientist has discovered that she especially likes ranch dressing.

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