Why I’m a dog person

I am a dog person. No I don’t profess to have any unusual parts, per se, that would make me a ‘dog-person’ say like oversized floppy ears or a stick-on, one-piece black nose that I like to shove up people’s crotches,

but i have, rather, an affinity for dogs, a love, a special place in my heart-space that smiles quietly when I see or rather feel the happy, goofy soul of a dog. Now that that I’ve highlighted the chasm between the literal and figurative …I can go on.

I like dogs because I was raised with dogs. And being raised with dogs means that you experience dogs in different ways and at different ages. If you are lucky, a single dog, or group of dogs are raised along with you. They actually become your family. I have lain on a wooden floor staring into the blackness of a dalmation’s eyes, feeling humor, a sense of incredible intelligence and yet the mystery of what they were thinking…and it was amazing. I appreciated as a seven year old the fact that my dalmation, Cee-Cee RooKoo never once protested through bark or even sneer while I used her back as an imaginary indian elephant for Barbie and Ken on thier wedding day in India.

I often wondered what Cee-Cee thought as I posed them kissing under an umbrella held by my neighbor and snarky playmate Yvette Lopez.

Yellow eyes, or so I thought....

She had yellow eyes a Honduran accent and loved to give me indian burns. Cee Cee would lay close, enjoying the cold hard floor, often assisting me in my Mattel / tropical / wedding fantasy, (Barbie and Ken married many times), humoring me most times for about 20 minutes and then suddenly jumping up sending my plastic lovers flying frighteningly near my easy-bake oven!

I knew that Cee-Cee had had it. Something called. Mother with a piece of rogue spam calling her name, or my father watering the lawn with a garden hose that just had to be tamed. Whatever the reason, I knew that dogs had to be dogs, and little girls would wrangle whatever help they could from person or canine in their imaginative play. Cee-Cee would later wear a couch arm doiley, as did I. Together we were Sonny and Cher, me with the long hair, er….my couch arm doiley…and Cee-Cee as sonny with hers. She was lucky I never thought of using my brother’s fringed leather vest on her because I have a suspicion that I would have, had I thought of it! Though I love cats also, for their fluid, sometimes sublime and yet powerful love. but they have too much independence for my liking. A cat doesn’t run circles around themselves at the sound of your car turning into the driveway and leap pointlessly at the door until you breach it. After a short petting session cats say “enough is enough.. I’m outta here” and off they go to further generalizations about them, sitting on some window sill,

or some edge of a pillow on the middle of your bed. Basically any forgotten cozy place where they can lick and sleep and lick and sleep, and lick and sleep until they are frantically looked for, or they come bounding out of their crevace at the uneven drone of the sound of a can opener. I must point out that I do hold fondly memories of stroking my cat Mahalia’s sunset colored fur while she purred loudly in a weird clicking manner whilst painfully licking her sandpaper tongue across the bias of the back of my hand.

I just think of dogs as more ‘accessible’ bounding with energy, rough and tumble, forgiving. They trust in humans outta the box… they have no boundaries, no preconceived notions, and no qualms about walking around with Baby Tenderlove strapped to their back.

Army of love beats Silence..

The other day I had a collision with mack truck.  Not the type with wheels and a steel chassais, but one no less visually unmistakable and powerful…  and it drove straight into my heart. That mack truck was the emotive story of Trevor Pawlak of San Ramon California.  Currently a student in “K12 – CAVA (California Virtual Academy), the same California curriculum based  “homeschool”  K-12 / CAVA,  that my  son Andrew attends, Trevor and my son have just finished fourth grade.  Along with my son’s report card  this week came an urgency, from his teachers,  to read the last newsletter of the year for CAVA students.  Upon opening the newsletter on my computer, Andrew and I read the typical sentiment from teachers wishing students a wonderful summer, lists of books suitable for fifth grade reading over the summer and  suggestions on being safe and still having alot of fun over the next three months.   There was something more, one last student spotlight.  This spotlight was on Trevor Pawlack.  The story of a speechless boy.

Trevor Pawlak - Victory is certain.

The newsletter’s story is written in first-person-narrative and it would be a shame for me to re-tell it in my own way.   Therefore I have simply printed it in full text here.

This is what his teacher, Diana Davis (CAVA teacher,  San Mateo and Sonoma, CA)  wrote:


Dear CAVA Families,

As the school year comes to an end, we as teachers begin to reflect on how we have made a positive impact on our students and how we can better ourselves for the following year.  This year, however, I do not find myself wondering how I have positively affected any one student, but rather how one of my students has had an impact on me.  His name is Tervor Pawlak and he joined the CAVA family this year.   Trevor is a miraculous ten year old boy who has autism, but does not allow himself to be defined as autistic.  Instead he lives with autism and has shown me a thing or two about life and how each day we must treasure the big and little moments, for each one is a blessing in itself.  One important fact to know about Trevor is that he is not able to speak.  Don’t let this upset you, for he has brokern the barriers and has found his voice through art and poetry.  When I first met Trevor I was so overjoyed.  I thought to myself, “Yes! Here is a student that is literally begging to learn.”  Picture a room filled with CAVA boxes*, you know what I am talking about, and Trevor practically salivating because in each of those CAVA boxes was the knowlede he had been waiting for his whole life.  As I rip open each box, he is frantically typing to his mother, “When can I start learning? I want to do History!” He was moving around so much out of excitement that I swore he was going to fall off his chair.  The “coolness” of having a teacher in his home had vanished, for all he wanted was to crack open a CAVA textbook.  Even while I am sharing this memory with you, I smile.  I simply could not get through the boxes fast enough.  Did I mention that he is hilarious as well as wonderfully sarcastic?  A real jokester.    Thanks to his family, his therapist, K12 and the CAVA staff, I am very proud to say that Trevor is thriving and absoloutely loves the CAVA program.  He has no boundaries with CAVA and is able to thrive in an environment that is nurturing and self paced.  .His story is truly one of success and will inspire for many years to come.   Now that I have come full circle with my story about Trevor, you may be wondering, “why share?” The answer is simple: because there comes a time in every teacher’s life when you have a moment of clarity.  This moment was so great for me that I not only remember the reason why I became a teacher, but I remember the reason why I became a wife, a mohter, a friend, and hopefully a mentor.  Each and every one of my students are special and have taught me many life lessons, however, Trevor’s unique style of communication and learning speak volumes to me and has given me that continued strength to become a better person.  His voice can be heard through the heart and I feel so blessed to share this wonderful and inspirational journey with him.  Trevor’s work has recently been on exhibit at the San Ramon Valley Library and the San Ramon Express wrote a wonderful story about him and his accomplishments.  I wish to share is his biography.

‘My name is Trevor Pawlak and I am ten years old.  I was diagnosed with autism when I was 4 years old I remember knowing that other kids could talk and I couldn’t which frustrated me to no end.  This past year I met my angel in purple, Janna Woods.  She helped me find my freedom thorough typing.  Now I can find my freedom through typing.  Now I can show others how intelligent I am.  My poetries come from my soul.  The deepest part of my mind.  I know I am an instrument of God.  He expects me to lead the way for others who are silent like me.  The road may be long and full of pitfalls but life is a journey to be taken one step at a time.  I hope my poetries lighten your path on your journey.


Trevor Pawlak

Because of his silence, it was assumed by other schools that Trevor was not able to learn nor communicate any thought, academic or ther.  Clearly this is not the case, for Trevor is very bright and proven through the most beautiful methods that he has alot to say.  I leave you with one of the many poems that Trevor has written and hope that his story has touched your heart as he continues and will always touch mine.

– Diana Davis

Army of Love beats Silence

The winter chill fills the air crisp breaths seen outside

The days grow shorter as darkness creeps in.

The time for going inside lies the seeds for spring’s newness lay dormant.

I plan my escape from darkness each day with new resolve.

I live for my intellectual learning now.

Beating back the darkness of silence is my daily battle.

The army of loving hands lift me up

Together we fight this war and victory is certain.

-Trevor Pawlak

Get over your Gaga it’s really just faux glam…

"Oh Bloody Gaga!"

“because she has a P-P-P-Poker face!!!I is what I was told when I wondered via FaceBook what the allure of Lady Gaga was.  Having heard her ‘name’ creeping into the English language almost as an adjective on a few different occasions, I began to wonder just how big do you have to be to have the suffix ‘-esque’ attached to your name? Well apparently the feathered, lobstered and gaffer’s taped one has just stepped into that syntax called the ‘common English vernacular.’  She may even be well past ‘Urban Dictionary status but don’t quote me on that.   I quickly hit up itunes to listen to a snippet of songs deemed “gagaesque”  oh and some real Lady Gaga penned slaggy ditties to boot.  Can we talk sugary, blippy, syncopated hooks?  I see the allure, if you like late nineties Madonna during her time with William Orbit and the next year when she channeled Che Guevara. I get the seventh grade allure,  but not the her lyrics.

Roma, Roma-ma
GaGa, ooh la la
Want your bad romance

I want your ugly, I want your disease
I want your everything as long as it’s free
I want your love, love, love, love
I want your love

I want your drama, the touch of your hand
I want your leather studded kiss in the scene
I want your love, love, love, love
I want your love
(Love, love, love, I want your love)

You know that I want you
And you know that I need you
I want a bad, bad romance

I can only think that quite possibly the heavy use of onomonpaeia speaks to the post- natal Pre-K period in one’s life and recalls those first days of speech.   Nevertheless, assessing the possible reasons for “The Lady Gaga Allure” did not further propel me down the road of knowing why SOME people might be Gaga over Gaga…

When I google-imaged “gaga”  I found her unsmiling, Sugical taped “X’s” taped to her teats and face encrusted in white sticks arranged not unlike the Eagle’s nest that we gawked at when we visited the Santa Ana Zoo.  Trying desperately to make some sort of connection in efforts to ‘understand’ the hoopla surrounding this astounding vision of faux-glam.

It seems to me that ‘glam’ and ‘shock’ were brought to new levels of interest and even ‘artfulness’ in more creative, non-forced and very ‘natural’ ways if you can even say that about the genre, in the 70’s and 80’s.  Madonna bringing up the rear and into the nineties with her Gaultier phase.   Bowie comes to mind as the crown prince of Glam, David Johanssen, and of course Elton John.  And there were even really great stabs at it after that.  The seventies invented it, the eighties played with it.   The genre was believable enough, though some results were half-hearted…think Cyndi Lauper, whom made a good run of it,  but ultimately fell visually  transparent.  Lucky for Cyndi and for us, once she opened her mouth, she  became high art and we  all  fell in love with her.  Why did it work?  These folks really rocked it, they believed it.  Most important we saw their PERSONALITY through the art that adorned them and we were enthralled.  Whether it was Wendy-O-Williams  of Plasmatics fame with her mohawk, glaring absence of clothing save for black electrical tape…YOU’VE SEEN THE CAR…NOW SEE THE BUS!!!  Wendy-O rankled our nerves, made us laugh, gawk and dared us to let go of all our inhibitions.

How long can one really TRY  hard to shock, to entertain by taking great lengths to garner gawking and then hide?  The real reason Gaga fails, is that her persona is forced and thus she will not ultimately be able to propel hersfelf into glam uber-status.  This is why Madonna scoffs, she must know this. To say that Madonna considers Gaga a ‘copy-cat’ is to sell Madonna short.  Madonna is and was much more of a artful performer.  In costume, music and complexity.  She was relevant always.  Relevancy and personality.  That is what Gaga is missing.  Gaga is Mark Kostabi to Madonna’s DeCherico.

For example on Larry King recently, I was encouraged to see that Gaga landed a gig with “The suspendered one” and that “haus of Gaga ‘ ideated the prospect of her going on dressed just like Larry!  (a negative version of his outfit anyway…black shirt, white suspenders and dark glasses). What a joy!  How Dada!  I was eager to see how she goofed on him but hoped it would also be in a nice way)…But what did Ms. Stephanie Germanotta do with this great situation?  NOTHING.  She intentionally  slowly and uneasily answered Larry  King’s questions, causing Larry to seem aloof, to feel that the interview was not working, and generally made the interview no fun to watch.   I have to admit, wearing a “Larry outfit” and goofing on Larry  would have been pretty cool, which recalls the John Lydon with Tom Snyder interview in ’77, this was an amazing example of punk rock journalism, but I’m sure Gaga has no idea…

She had the chance to make everyone laugh, to show us that she ‘gets’ this.  That all of this has a point and that she’s really been goofing on us! or herself, or best yet, on “the fame machine.”   If she is goofing on fame and glamour,  then this whole thing is hilarious and I sincerely mean that.  But she hasn’t let us in on the joke and we’re standing by waiting.  I just don’t see the half-hearted propensity of it all.


Better style for Gaga - Go back 2 your roots! Overdrive 80's meets a more glam runaways.

Tutu’s letter on the Israeli occupation

Desmond TutuHit them in the pocket book.  Stand up for what’s right.  Divestment may be the way to go.  Read this letter from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, proponent of peace.  A guy who knows a thing or two about the path to a just peace.  Enjoy!



Dear Student Leaders at the University of California – Berkeley

It was with great joy that I learned of your recent 16-4 vote in support of divesting your university’s money from companies that enable and profit from the injustice of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and violation of Palestinian human rights. Principled stands like this, supported by a fast growing number of US civil society organizations and people of conscience, including prominent Jewish groups, are essential for a better world in the making, and it is always an inspiration when young people lead the way and speak truth to power.

I am writing to tell you that, despite what detractors may allege, you are doing the right thing. You are doing the moral thing. You are doing that which is incumbent on you as humans who believe that all people have dignity and rights, and that all those being denied their dignity and rights deserve the solidarity of their fellow human beings. I have been to the Ocupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli military checkpoints routinely when trying to make the most basic of trips to visit relatives or attend school or college, and this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.

In South Africa, we could not have achieved our freedom and just peace without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. Students played a leading role in that struggle, and I write this letter with a special indebtedness to your school, Berkeley, for its pioneering role in advocating equality in South Africa and promoting corporate ethical and social responsibility to end complicity in Apartheid. I visited your campus in the 1980’s and was touched to find students sitting out in the baking sunshine to demonstrate for the University’s disvestment in companies supporting the South African regime.

The same issue of equality is what motivates the divestment movement of today, which tries to end Israel’s 43 year long occupation and the unequal treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government ruling over them. The abuses they face are real, and no person should be offended by principled, morally consistent, non-violent acts to oppose them. It is no more wrong to call out Israel in particular for its abuses than it was to call out the Apartheid regime in particular for its abuses.

To those who wrongly accuse you of unfairness or harm done to them by this call for divestment, I suggest, with humility, that the harm suffered from being confronted with opinions that challenge one’s own pales in comparison to the harm done by living a life under occupation and daily denial of basic rights and dignity. It is not with rancor that we criticize the Israeli government, but with hope, a hope that a better future can be made for both Israelis and Palestinians, a future in which both the violence of the occupier and the resulting violent resistance of the occupied come to an end, and where one people need not rule over another, engendering suffering, humiliation, and retaliation. True peace must be anchored in justice and an unwavering commitment to universal rights for all humans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, national origin or any other identity attribute. You, students, are helping to pave that path to a just peace. I heartily endorse your divestment vote and encourage you to stand firm on the side of what is right.

God bless you richly,

Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town.

A Greenhouse Built from Reclaimed Windshields

reclaimed windshield

My Husband Steve, who is the quintessential ‘renaissance man,’ (I am partial), but seriously he is….several years ago, did the whole ‘reclaimed windshield’ thing.  He collected them  from a scrap yard, crushed them,  mixed with other ingredients and amazingly created a beautiful, and long lasting feat of design flooring in an art gallery he owned in the 90’s on chattaqua in Malibu.  Is that floor still there? or did the newer owners ‘floor over’ it?  Not sure. We’d love to visit and see if the artwork is still there.  I’ll post a pic of the work (he saved and framed a sample many years ago).  If anyone knows, please comment!  Cheers and read the below about someone else with basically the same idea about using those natty old windshields.  This time they’ve built a greenhouse!   Check this out from Utne Reader…

A Greenhouse Built from Reclaimed Windshields.

I love you like a dog (via It’slisa’s Blog)

What if we gave our mates as much slack, forgiveness and pure unadulturated love as we give our pets? what if? check out this post. It’s pretty cool.

I love you like a dog Yesterday, the New York Times featured a Well Pet blog by Tara Parker Pope called "What Pets Can Teach Us About Marriage." Ms. Pope was reviewing a previous article from PsychCentral where clinical psychologist Suzanne B. Phillips explores the difference between how people relate to their pets in contrast to their mates. Phillips poses the idea that we could have better relationships with the humans in our lives if we treat them the way we do our … Read More

via It'slisa's Blog