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Pupusa’s Cinderella Story

I want to tell you the story of how I encountered the newest addition to my family of animals, Pupusa. It’s a roundabout telling, but I promise it will be entertaining.

Well, I’ve mentioned in previous posts how physically weak I became last year from overwork.  Well, the last academic year, the new administrators at the school at which I’d been employed for over a decade made some excuse not to tenure me and also decided to reduce my hours because of the supposed financial strain which all of LAUSD was under at the time.  Meanwhile, administrators would continue to make 6 figure salaries while my income, like that of so many other teachers, would be reduced to poverty level… So so wrong.

So I picked up what I could find in order to make ends meet – the treacherous split double shift.  What follows was the daily routine that I endured for what felt like eons. Wake up in the dark to a blaring alarm, a highly unromantic start to long and hectic days. Shower only if I’m able to drag myself out of bed immediately after the alarm goes off. Put on whatever clothing is within reach. Rush to get animals fed and dog walked. Swig 3 shots of espresso. Pray that an effing dump ripens before I walk out the door so that I don’t have an emergency situation on the road. The prayers are effective about 50% of the time. Drive to a low-income housing complex in Canoga Park to teach a multi-level group of Intermediate to Advanced ESL students for 5 hours straight.  The students who are there just to socialize or get documents signed for free social services are eventually weeded out.  What’s left is a focused group, but class is small.  So the threat of administrators closing the class due to insufficient numbers looms over me. After that shift, book it on home to stuff my face while zoning out on Stargate, prep for the next class, take care of the animals, and so on an so forth. In the late afternoon, swig 3 more shots of espresso, get back on the road, this time to East LA, and quite often get stuck in the most horrendous traffic imaginable in order to teach a beginning level class in the “hood.”  Many of these students are illiterate in their own language, so you can imagine the type of patience this requires.   But they are a loving group – once I’ve arrived and am “in it,” it’s not so bad.  The relationships are real.  There is no pretense, no posing on my part, no superficiality, at least in the classroom.

While enduring this extreme NOT the life I imagine, I try my best not to complain, to appreciate the fact that I have employment during what continues to be very tough economic times. I figure the complaining will only make it worse, so I clamp it shut and in the end, make myself sick. You get the basic idea.

During the spring, while I was teaching another of my evening classes, when I thought I just couldn’t manage the drudgery one more minute, I heard a pop, and then a terrible, bone-chilling screaming outside my classroom window.  It was dark, rain was falling in sheets, and I couldn’t see anything on the street below.  But I knew what had happened – a dog had been hit.  I excused myself and ran out to the street. Growling at me and cowering by the curb with blood all over her face, eyes, and oozing out her ear was an emaciated and pitiful looking little dog. As soon as I lifted her up and into my coat, she passed out and didn’t wake until we arrived at an emergency veterinary clinic in my neighborhood some 45 minutes later. Somehow she had survived the accident with no major injuries. No broken bones.

For the next several days, my money-minded responsible self maintained a superficial inner debate about whether or not to keep her. Can I really afford to care for another pet? But she’s so tiny, really it’s a negligible amount of extra food. I don’t have the time to potty train a dog. Who knows what kind of parasites she’s got (and she did, yuck)? But in the moment I picked her up off the road, despite the emaciation, blood, patches of mange-like skin, my heart swelled, accompanied by a palpable feeling that we were destined to meet, that this agonizing year had been instrumental in bringing us together.

Now all you non-dog enthusiasts may think this story sounds ridiculous, that I’m one of those dog crazies, that I mistakenly dote on my animal in a way that should be reserved for a human mate.  Let me tell you, the relationship we share with dogs is ancient.  The love I feel for them is in my blood, it is profound.  Dogs do not miscommunicate.  They’ve evolved to keenly sense how we feel. They are our greatest comfort in the darkest of times. They are pure love.

Since this pup came from the barrio, I figured at one time, she had lived with a Spanish speaking family, so I named my little latina, “Pupusa.” Stress on the second syllable. For those of you who don’t know, a  pupusa is a Salvadorean  type of savory pancake.  And it’s a fun word to say.  Names must be fun.  Now, Pupusa has quite the life. She is always all over me, nibbling my hair, sneaking in a lick on my mouth whenever she can, enticing the other animals to play.

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I had a ball making this sweater for her, my first knitting project after a decades long hiatus.  She’s a hysterical model. Now that I’m relearning the basics and learning some new techniques, most of which I’ve gotten off of youtube, I’m incorporating some new skills into a sweater I’ve begun for my cocker, Mabu. Stress on the second syllable, like “m’BOO.” The green collar in the slideshow is the beginning of his sweater.  I used a stretchy cast on technique that I found on youtube by sockselkie.  I wish she had more videos. I think the stretchy rim will be useful in getting the collar over Mabu’s head. I’ve also been referring quite a bit to verypinkknits – her instructions are very clear and concise. This links to her website, but I found her on youtube. As I knit Mabu’s sweater, I’m going to experiment with Continental style knitting.  There’s a good tutorial offered by Cotton and Cloud on youtube.  I’m looking forward to learning more from these women! So far, I’m using Lion Brand yarns for all my projects – affordability for decent yarn and great variety is important for me as a novice knitter. I used yarn from their Homespun collection for Pupusa’s multi-colored sweater and am using yarn from their Hometown USA collection for Mabu’s masculine sweater.

Update on my line of scrapbooking papers – I’m going to try to create them with the Wacom tablet my man bought me for my birthday. I finally have an opportunity to get back into my Adobe programs and learn how to use this awesome tool!

Man oh man! Christmas is quickly approaching and I have a ton of cards to make. If I could just put down the knitting needles! How is everyone’s cardmaking coming along? Hopefully next post, I’ll have some holiday cards to show you.

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