Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Tag

Wild & Free Forever   2 comments

Sunrise (whose blog nickname has been Goldeneyes) passed into the realm of “wild and free forever” yesterday about noon.

Related imageAt 14, it was not unexpected. She’d had a cancerous tumor removed in February and we knew it could come back. But she wasn’t bowing to age. She still jumped over the back of the couch and was always ready to go for a ride. She could still run pretty fast and swim like the water dog she was. Her molten gold eyes were always smiling and she absolutely loved her people dearly.

In earlier years she had tried to catch a beaver — and almost had it landed when her companion dog, the black-hearted pirate Friday, let go. And this after she taught her elder how to swim. Disgraceful! She enjoyed catch-and-release — the neighbors’ chickens would get out, she’d catch them and bring them to us uninjured. She never quite understood why we took them back. She wasn’t afraid of heights like most dogs so she would cross a log bridge rather than swim a swift current. She was at once very smart and a total goof, domesticated by the belly rub. She was the only Lab I’ve ever met who would be trusted with a full bag of dog food. She’d eat just what she needed to not starve to death and leave the rest for later. She once ate mushrooms while we were on a camping trip and freaked out in the tent (thought Brad was an ogre, we think). Once released, she ran off down the trail and attacked the Davidson Ditch, a metal aquaduct. I’m thinking she thought it was a giant metal snake. She wasn’t particularly brave – kind of scared of the woods and if someone was yelling around her, she’d hide, but she’d do things that you could tell terrified her just because she wanted to be with us. Back when she was still a young puppy and hadn’t convinced Brad to like her yet, she stole his shoes once — picked them up from the Arctic entry way and carried them to her favorite cozy spot, put them side by side, but didn’t chew them up. He thought he was losing his mind until he found them. They were friends after that. She was extremely empathetic, could sense our emotions, and was always ready to listen and love us. She was a great companion, a loving friend, a tireless hiker, a sweet soul and she went out on her own terms.

Image result for image of female yellow field labTuesday night, she seemed tired and she declined going “wild and free” – a holiday evening tradition when she was allowed to race the streets in pure abandon. This is what comes from a Lab being raised by a husky – a water dog who enjoys running. She spent the night watching us sleep. Every time I opened my eyes, she was there with a loving grin on her face. In the morning, when I let her go out to pee, she had trouble coming up the stairs, like it exhausted her. But she was still smiling. We agreed she probably needed to go to the vet today, that the cancer was probably back and she was in pain. We were torn on whether to euthanize her or get her pain meds so she’d enjoy her last few days. Brad went by the bedroom around 11:30 and told her “you’re going to get to go wild-and-free forever soon.” A half hour later, we found her on her bed, on her side, eyes open with one ear furled under her as if she’d sprang to her feet planning to go wild-and-free and simply fell over dead.

That’s a great way to go for a fine athlete who loved to run and it even seems that she was smiling as she did it. And it being Independence Day — well, what a great day to enter the realm of “wild-and-free-forever.”

Image result for image of female yellow field labWe’re going to miss her, but we know she’s somewhere pleasant, maybe hanging out with our other dogs Cana and Friday or the cat Angel that she loved dearly but could never convince to be friends. It would be wonderful if the mini-lion would now lay down with the Labrador.

Where ever it is, I’m sure there’s water for her and Cana (a water Lab) to enjoy and for Friday (a husky) to complain about. And I’m sure she’s smiling because that is who Sunrise is and will always be.

Posted July 5, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Gratitude, Uncategorized

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Pause & Give Thanks   Leave a comment

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Posted November 24, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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Gratitude   Leave a comment

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Posted November 24, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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Happy Thanksgiving   Leave a comment

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Posted November 24, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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Thanksgiving   9 comments

Thanksgiving traditions – What are your traditions or what traditions would you like to begin. For those not in the US, how about writing about family traditions?

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s really got to do with the colors – green and orange are my two favorite colors (followed closely by blue, but that’s another topic). It’s also an incredibly easy feast to cook. It’s my rehearsal for Christmas Eve when we have actual guests. More than anything is that I really like the moment to pause and consider gratitude as a concept.

Image result for image of a roast turkey in black enamel roasting panFirst, I begin decorating for Thanksgiving around the first of October when the trees here look pretty dead. I just begin to crave autumn colors, so we drape autumn “silk” leaf swags over the fireplace and swap out floral arrangements and blankets on the sofa. By Thanksgiving, I’ve usually gotten everything looking the way I want it.

An ongoing family tradition has been our gratitude list. I ask the family to consider what they are actually grateful for. When the kids were little, their answers were instructive to their parents. More than that, gratitude (thanksgiving) is an act of sacrifice that Christians lift to God. There have been years when we didn’t have much and we faced the prospect of the long Alaska winter with anxiety. In the act of thanksgiving, we found ourselves content with what little we had and the anxiety stepped back into the shadows. It sometimes seems paradoxical, but blessings flow from a spirit of thanksgiving rather than the other way around. If we wait for the blessings to occur before we give thanks, we often miss the blessings entirely. If we offer thanks in the midst of our need, later we look back and see what God provided after our act of worship.

But it is so hard to remember that at the time.

I keep it simple in terms of cooking. I know a lot of people don’t consider turkey to be simple, but that’s because they don’t know how to do it. If you want to know how to cook any food without a lot of fuss, ask a diner waitress. Oh, yeah … I was raised by a diner waitress.

We buy our turkeys frozen because we live a long way away from any turkey farms and turkeys really ought to be fresh. Frozen right after desanguination is a lot safer than refrigerated for a week before it gets to my grocery store, then for however long it lasts in the grocer bin and then for the day or two I have it at home. I NEVER buy a fresh turkey, though my husband’s employer gave us one once and we all agreed — the thawed frozen turkey smelled and tasted fresher than the “fresh” turkey did.

Image result for image of fall foliage indoorsI also never use a bird that is more than 16 pounds, although I prefer a 12-14 pounder. Smaller turkeys are more succulent and moist. Roast two if you’ve got a lot of people. I rinse the bird and I sprinkle kosher salt and a spice rub of paprika, curry power, cinnamon and chile powder on the skin. I put the bird on a cradle in a black enamel roasting pan and pour a cup of orange juice and water in the bottom. I put the lid on it and pop it in the oven. My cookbook (a 1950s Betty Crocker “bible”) says to roast the bird at 315 degrees for a half-hour per pound, but I’ve learned that having the lid on the roasting pan means the turkey cooks faster, so  I always take an hour off my total calculation.

I don’t lift the lid until then. This assures a moist bird. Usually, when I lift the lid, the bird is at temperature and golden breasted. And I’ve done almost nothing, which leaves me free to do other things … like, cook the sides or watch the Macey’s parade on television.

Another tradition is to put spiced cider (the non-alcoholic kind) in a big pot on the woodstove where it simmers slowly all Wednesday night through Thursday, scenting the house with a beautiful fragrance. We dip from it all Thursday. It’s a beverage and potpourrie in one.

Image result for image of an autumn garland on fireplace mantleIt’s not exactly a tradition, but it is standard operating practice around here to have our Christmas shopping down before Thanksgiving. It just makes things less stressful.

Another family tradition is watching “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Last year we didn’t and our 16 year old mentioned it at Christmas, so we had to watch it then. Yeah, we’re still on that gratitude theme.

Usually on the Friday after Thanksgiving, we decorate for Christmas rather than go combat shopping with the rest of the “Black Friday” crowds. This is made possible by the fact that I have finished my Christmas shopping already. Can you have a tradition that is an absence of an activity?

No fuss, no muss — get into the mood for Christmas.

Posted November 21, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Grateful for Gratitude   Leave a comment

www.oyegraphics.comI know that sounds weird, but as this is the last post we’re doing focused on Gratitude, I thought I would just say “thank you” to Patti Fiala for suggesting the topic and thank you to God for reminding me of all the things I have to be grateful for. It’s been a great if challenging exercise for me.

Next week we’ll turn our attention toward Courage.

Check out what my fellow bloggers are saying on this subject.

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Thankful for 30 years   Leave a comment

Are you grateful for something? Join us for the Open Book Blog Hop’s Thankful Thursday.

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This week marked 30 years of marriage for my husband and me. They have been turbulent years mixed with moments of bliss and contentment. Life is not perfect because human beings are not perfect and Brad and I are not perfect so our marriage is not perfect.

For us, marriage is not a contract between Brad and I registered with the State, but a covenant relationship. I vowed to God that I would enter into marriage and remain married until “death does part us” and God promised to give me strength to do that. At a later date, after going through a patch of Hell on earth, Brad vowed to God that he would remain married until “death does part us” and God promised him strength to do that. Only when that was in place were we able to honor the legal contract between us as man and wife. We could still shred that legal contract up, but a covenant with God last forever because God does not change His mind, even if we do.

The decision to form a covenant with God put Brad and I on the same page of God’s playbook, but it did not make us perfect and it did not make our marriage beautiful. We are messy people who dragged the baggage of our separate lives into our marriage. We have to deal with that mess on a daily basis and that’s okay.

Brad is a recovering alcoholic who can tell you how many days it’s been since his last drink, but together we are recovering marriage doofuses who can tell you how many days it’s been since our last fight. We can also tell you, because we journal these things, that our fights are less important these days and we don’t say such mean things to each other. I was actually surprised that Brad logged that I had yelled at him over my having to scrub the turnip patch out of the downstairs tub this weekend. I don’t use the downstairs bathroom and  I think the users of the tub should clean it. I thought I was being perfectly reasonable. He thought my request was reasonable and my tone was not. He’s right. I had a legitimate complaint, but I went about expressing it in the wrong way.

Despite the fact that we are not a Hallmark movie in the making, I am grateful for our 30 years — not just for the good times, but also for the hard times because they have taught us better ways of existing. Good times tend to make us lazy, but hard times keep us vigilant and growing and that is well worth the struggle.

So, to 30 years of hard work that have been well worth the effort.

Thank You   Leave a comment

At church on Sunday, the pastor surprised us with the Lord’s Supper. Actually, it was planned, but somehow hadn’t made it on the calendar, so some of us were surprised.

Normally, when I come to the Lord’s Supper, I like to have a few days of contemplation. The New Testament says we should think about what we’re doing before we bring our offerings to the Lord … and, if we discover anything in our relations that needs to be mended … we’re to offer our sacrifice and then go make amends. I like to do that before I come to the altar. It’s a practice I started with our daughter when she was a new Christian and have continued as I found it was good for ME to do as well.

So, here I was, feeling like I’d come to church without my shoes. I wasn’t prepared. I hadn’t taken inventory and made amends — or even identified who I owed amends to. So, I quickly scanned through my mind during the music worship and realized that I didn’t need to be worried about it.


The exercise of gratitude before an audience has had my relationship with Jesus and my fellow human beings front and center in my mind for the past month.

So this week’s Thankful Thursday is about saying “thank you” to the folks who have read my ramblings on this subject for the last month because my doing this has helped my spiritual growth in ways that I didn’t expect or even seek.

While you’re here, check out what my fellow authors are saying on this subject.

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Stay Tuned for Thankful Thursday   Leave a comment

Yes, Thanksgiving has passed, but this exercise in ongoing thankfulness is scheduled to continue until

Posted December 1, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Thankful Thursday

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Gratitude Flourishes Amid Grace   2 comments

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday. The government gives us a day off. For many Americans, it is simply a day of watching football and overeating. That was pretty much how Brad and I were raised in the non-Christian homes (his,  cafeteria Catholic and mine, unchurched) that shaped our childhoods.

Our coming to see Thanksgiving as a Christian celebration has progressed over the three decades we’ve been together. It all started with being invited to a Thanksgiving gathering by my brother’s inlaws. His mother-in-law tried to interject some meaning into the holiday by asking what people were grateful for. Cleo’s best efforts were quickly drowned out by the football game, but Brad and I remembered it when we started celebrating Thanksgiving in our own home.

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Christmas is such an insane season and it is really not a terribly grateful one. Has anyone seen the commercial where they have renamed Thanksgiving to Thanks-Getting? We just shook our heads while watching that.

By taking a pause right before the start of the silly season, I don’t buy into the BS. I think about all the things in my life that matter and realize that almost none of them come from Santa. Yeah, I appreciate the gifts I get, but I’d really rather spend time with my family and play fetch with the dog in the snow.

I could designate another day of the year for doing that. In fact, I try to do it periodically throughout the year on a more or less quarterly basis that roughly coincides with my church’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper, but Thanksgiving is usually when I suck the rest of my family into the practice.

There are so many blessings in our lives that walk around dressed up like ordinary life. I’ve been highlighting some of mine lately, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on MY blessings today. Suffice it to say that, to me, much of ordinary life is a miracle. In fact, that I can even call it ordinary is a miracle.

I’m just going to ask you to take a pause and list some of your own ordinary miracles. If you’ve got a Christmas stocking, roll it up in a scroll and slide it in there and see what you think of the message you wrote to yourself in saner times.

Trust me! Christmas will be a whole lot better because you have identified what is precious and praise-worthy on Thanksgiving.

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