Category Archives: DOGS

Iggy Pup


So it was my turn to name the next animal in the house; we were getting a male puppy, and I had my heart set on “Iggy,” named after my idol… Not very creative, I grant you, but heartfelt. We started looking at mutts at the Animal Humane Society and came upon a litter of 16 puppies, 8 males, 8 females, all named after minerals or rocks. One named “Igneous” jumped out of the heap and into my hands. He just sort of picked me.

We had him for almost 7 years. He was a very funny dog with many quirks and a little naughty streak, much like his namesake. We lost him this week and are feeling devastated. But here’s my Iggy, singing for you.

Big Sister


I am about to start my Communications and Public Relations Internship at Big Brothers Big Sisters this week, and it got me to start thinking about my own match with my Little, Denver, who is now age 18.

I’d like to say that we did AMAZING and ADVENTUROUS things together, my Little and me, but we never really did anything on a Grand Scale. Our favorite thing to do was talking. And more talking. And a little more talking. It didn’t really matter where we were.

I met Denver when she was 8 years old. Our first “date” was a trip to the Walker Art Center with Denver’s older sister, Australia, and her new Big Sister (a double date.) I’d say it was awkward, to say the least. I can’t recall what the exhibit was called, but I think the art was sort of pretentious and, well you know, art being subjective and all of that, we didn’t really agree that it was art. One exhibit was a mop and a bucket. Denver cracked up at that one. We had lunch at the Walker and took Australia’s Big (I cannot remember her name) and the kids home. I don’t think Australia and her Big clicked, but Denver and I definitely did, and it began our long journey of Big and Little.

Our favorite Saturday or Sunday would go something like this: I’d pile my two big mutts, Egor and Iggy, into my Isuzu Trooper and swing by Denver’s house to pick her up. I always hung out at her house for a little bit and talked with Denver’s mom, who I really liked a lot. My dogs adored Denver (or Auntie Denver, as she became known to them.) We’d head over to the dog park out by the airport and let the dogs run loose and we’d just follow along, walking the whole length of the park, twice. When we’d go there in spring, the park would be really muddy, and I believe Denver wrecked a couple pairs of nice basketball shoes. Mom wasn’t very happy about that. me & denver

With the dogs then finally exhausted, tired and sometimes muddy, we’d load them up into the Trooper and head up 28th Avenue South to the Nokomis Beach Coffee Shop to get a bite to eat, and then stop by the used book store next door; sometimes finding a treasure to purchase, sometimes not. It was the looking that was fun.

That would be a typical “short” Saturday visit. If I didn’t have anything else going on, the longer version of the Denver-Patti Experience would be all of the above activities, and extend to going back to my house and cooking Italian food and sometimes making carrot bread.

And talking. And more talking.

Here is a memorable, solving-problems-of-the-world conversation we once had:

“Patti, why do white people act so strange and treat our family so bad sometimes?”

“Denver, I can’t answer on behalf of all ‘white people’ any more than you can answer for all African American people. I don’t have the answers, there’s still a lot of racism out there, and unfortunately you and your family sometimes experience it first-hand. But I don’t represent all white people. I don’t know why stupid racist people do what they do. They’re just ignorant.”

“Anyway, Patti, you’re not white, you’re Irish.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right!”

We had had a previous conversation about how the Irish were treated when they first immigrated to America, and that my Dad had experienced being called a “dirty mick” and other slurs on the Irish.

We had lots of other experiences like going to ValleyFair a couple of times, going to basketball games, festivals and other events, and of course BBBS events like picnics, cooking and yoga classes. Denver even came and did radio with me up at KFAI. We also did quite a few bike rides around Lake Harriet.

Denver’s all grown up now – she graduated from high school and is having her own adventures. When she started getting busy with her friends at age 16 and our “dates” started becoming fewer and farther between, she asked me if we were still going to be “sisters,” and I told her “yes, we’ll always be sisters.”

We haven’t talked in a while, but I’ll be catching up with her soon, hopefully.

Just like I do with my blood sisters.

Not Just Tired, I’m FUFA Tired


Oh, that sweet little old radio station that has me in its grip. I love it so – what I wouldn’t do for KFAI…. I am one of the elite members of “Freshen Up Fresh Air,” or as it has become known by its acronym, “The FUFA Committee.”

The greenroom (or lounge area, I guess you’d call it) and front lobby of the station hasn’t seen a paint job since, well, I believe George H.W. Bush was in office. It just looked sad, tired and pathetic in there; like no one gave a shit.

Well, it’s a community radio station where people DO give a shit, but things don’t always get done the way they’re supposed to. Sometimes things just slip through the cracks, and projects such as renovation have a tendency to get put on the back burner, even when you have over 500 volunteers.

So the FUFAs, some high-powered, highly caffeinated middle-aged ladies who don’t take “no” for an answer got together and started making plans. “Let’s do this!” “How much money can we get for this, Patti? You’re on the board, find out!” I got the FUFA project on the agenda of a board meeting, and we got a nice sum voted into our 2014 budget. I was mad with power…. Not really. This whole project was pushed forward by two Nancys, one Susan and one Pat – they were the driving force behind FUFA.

We met several times with our Executive Director and our Office Coordinator, and our plans started to gel. Paint samples, tile samples for the small kitchenette and two bathrooms, and, oh, WE CAN GET SOME NEW FURNITURE, TOO!!! I don’t know if we can deal with that much, you know, CHANGE! For many, many years, we’ve been sitting on a mangled old futon and matching chair. Many overnight programmers have laid their heads to rest upon that futon, which had a lovely red velour cover on it – you know, when the original upholstery got too dirty – we covered it with red velour in order to sanitize it.

One of the Nancys and I met at a local furniture store whose owner was willing to work out a trade for underwriting with us – we pored over catalogues looking for inspiration – as of this date we haven’t ordered anything, but we have our top selections sorted out and I believe the order will go in tomorrow.

The painting got started this weekend. But, back up, there’s WALL PREP, isn’t there? Dents from people coming in with their amps, dollies, lord only knows what else. Bad previous paint job mistakes. Holes from five-hundred awards in frames we had all over the walls. Nothing wrong with having all the awards everywhere, but we FUFAs are of the opinion that we need to clear our space of old awards and make room for new ones. Is that a Feng shui thing? Maybe. The Nancys know.

So there was a little conflict and philosophical differences in styles of spackling. I have done my fair share, having owned a 1908 house with plaster lathe walls and having painted every room; I lay the spackle on pretty thick, scrap it off, then sand it down. The Nancys spackle very very lightly and then you don’t need to sand it down very much. I don’t think you get the crack filled in that way. Oh well, we will have to agree to disagree on this one I think.

I am home now from the first weekend of paining I mean painting. Everything hurts. I aimed to go for a nice walk with the dogs now, but my legs don’t want to move. My hands – what am I, like 95-years-old? It was up and down the big 10-foot ladder I brought from home to do the “cutting” on the top of the walls – I must have been using muscles I do not ordinarily use. Then lots more cutting on the bottom of the walls on my hands and knees. Squatting. I don’t do a lot of that. Ok, I’m not in good shape, obviously.



And then people coming in and out of the station. We have signs all over the place “Wet Paint,” “Under Construction.” We’re right there, painting – there’s paint everywhere! “Oh, can I get in here to do this or that – can you move?” “NO!” “Could you look for our guests and let them in when they arrive?” “NO!” My inner bitch got let out this afternoon, one might say.

So I am going to put my paint-stained achy body into a hot tub full of Epsom salts and lavender and see if I can coax myself back into a civil and pleasant state of mind.

No, dogs, no walkies, I’m all FUFA’d.

Garmarna (Dogs That Guard The Gates Of Hell)


Still one of the most amazing groups I’ve ever heard or witnessed, I had the distinct pleasure of booking Sweden’s Garmarna’s first U.S. tour when I was working for their American record label, Omnium Records, owned by my good friend, Drew Miller. Insanely talented and very, very nice people, they stayed with us when they played at The Cedar Cultural Centre here in Minneapolis. Well, those in the group who wanted to get rest stayed at our house; those who wanted to drink some beers stayed with Drew.

Emma, their lead singer, was about 19 at the time, and was super shy and sweet. But, as you can see from the video, oh, that VOICE – not exactly shy. She began singing very early – when she grew up “in the forest with her mother.” In Sweden they do a sort of cattle call called “kulning,” and that gave her the training which took her to a sort of mystical place on the stage.

It was so lovely to hang out with “the Garms” for a couple of days and get to know them and their tour manager. They did a couple more U.S. tours after that initial tour; touring the U.S. has become very difficult in recent years, Homeland Security and all that…so they haven’t been back recently. I believe that all of the members of the group are working on other music projects at the present time; I hope very much that they’ll reunite and come back to the states. I will always have a floor for them to crash on!

Synchronized Sleeping

sleepingdogzThese guys, I tell ya. I look over at them and my old hardened heart just melts. They are attached at the hip.
Speaking of hips, Egor (the pointy eared chow chow fella) had hip dysplasia – as bad as it gets – when he was all of 9 months old. That was a quick $3,000 that we didn’t really have – oh man, ouch! We were at a backyard party and several dogs, all puppies, were running and running and all of a sudden there was a painful yelp…oh I can still hear it. We rushed Egor to the emergency vet – of course, it was on a Saturday night. So we had them do a bone scraping sort of operation to make the hip joint fit better – he’s been fine ever since – he runs a little wobbly is all. They told us to always be aware that he might have trouble on the opposite side, and to keep a lookout. Seems ok, so far, and he’s six years old.
Iggy’s the healthiest pet I’ve ever owned. I believe it’s because he is so expressive and lets his emotions out so frequently (not unlike his namesake.) This dog moans and groans like no other dog I’ve ever seen. Didn’t pet him enough? Harumph, I’m walking away now. I didn’t get two cookies? Hmmmm. I’m just gonna sit over here and pout. Did you just pet Egor and not me? Mmmmmm, me no likey.
Of course, I get accused of anthropomorphizing these two all the time. “They’re dogs, Patti.” “Yeah, I know. But they’re my boys, they’re my special boys.” “Sheesh.”
I know. I’m a dog ma lunatic.

Bad Art Alert


For your enjoyment and edification today I have selected from my personal collection not one but two tiny paintings of Iggy and Egor, my mutant mongrels. I’m not going to talk too much about the dogs, because I’m sure I’ll be talking about them frequently and boring the life out of everyone on this blog. I am featuring these little canvases because they are some of the first paintings I’ve done in over twenty years.

When I was nine and ten I took oil painting classes and I remember really enjoying it. I can’t recall exactly why I stopped the classes – I guess I’ve always chalked it up to becoming a squirrelly teenager….   I do remember my mother criticizing me at some point and that may have done it. I’m not sure. But at any rate, except for ceramics and drawing in high school, I didn’t paint as a teenager. I started painting again in my twenties, but again I was dealt some unfair criticism and took it very hard. I put the brushes away and the acrylics dried up in their tubes.

Fast forward to October of 2011 when we were clearing out my mom’s house when she first had Alzheimers, and I found one of the still-lifes I had done as a ten-year-old. It was really really good. It was already an emotional week but I cried so hard because at the time I painted it, I just didn’t think I was any good at all. But no way did this painting look like a ten-year-old did it. I just felt like “Wow, I did have talent…” and “Why don’t I paint again???” I bought paint, brushes and canvases when I returned home and started fooling around – turning my dining room into an art studio and making a huge mess. An artist friend who had been to MCAD gave me a few pointers and I was on my way. I purchased some larger canvases and was struggling with subject matter and all the old criticisms were still floating around in the back of my head. Ok, they were in the front of my head as well. I had a lot of anxiety. I was supposed to be enjoying this. What’s the matter with me? I guess you don’t really get over those messages from when you were young that easily – they do last a lifetime.dogz

So one day I was at Dick Blick’s – an art supply store – and I noticed these teeny tiny canvases – they’re 3″ x 3″. At last – inspiration!! I just thought “Yes! I can do little portraits of my favorite subjects, big mutt and the other big mutt!!!” I did these in no time flat and didn’t even really need to look at the dogs or pictures of them, which is huge for me. I did realize when I was finished that these little portraits are very similar in style to a women in town here who does pet portraits, but I’m not making this my trade or anything – it’s just for fun – it’s supposed to be fun, remember?

So I’ve still got some large canvases waiting to be gessoed and painted, and masterpieces waiting to be made, but for now it’s all about the baby steps, just little canvassed baby steps.

Dear Winter, It’s Not Funny Anymore.


Dearest Winter:

winterI know, I know, I probably have NO RIGHT to complain. I live here in Minnesota by choice. I love living here. But Pfizer doesn’t make enough antidepressants to get us through winters like the one being dished out this year. Maybe I need to get one of those S.A.D. lights – I’ve heard those work. Naw, I’d still know it was winter, and it wouldn’t change the fact that we’ve had something like 40+ days with highs in the sub-zeros. I don’t get out and walk the doggies on those days, and so I’m not getting enough exercise and fresh air – the stuff that sort of keeps you sane. Most winters I’m at work and usually belong to a health club – I go swimming and scoff at the arctic temps – but not this year. Job hunting and budget restraints – probably making me feel much more cooped up and cabin-feverish.

The dogs are obnoxious. “Come on lady, let us out!” 32 seconds go by. “Oh it’s too cold, lady, let us in, NOW!!!” Then the same routine, 20 minutes later. And someone is forgetting that they are potty trained. Someone is peeing on the floor in the basement, and it isn’t me.

It isn’t funny anymore, boys.snowdogs

Iggy Pup


Now I Wanna Be Your Dog

So it was my turn to name the next pet – hard to believe Machinist Man and I had been through the lives of a cat and our first pair of dogs. We were getting another puppy and I was pretty stuck on naming a dog “Iggy” after my punk rock idol, a certain legendary Mr. Osterberg. I considered at the time that it could be risky giving a dog the name of such an untrainable scoundrel, but my mind was made up.

We went to the Animal Humane Society to go see their selection of puppies. To get to the pups we had to go through the section of older dogs – that’s always so gut-wrenching for me – they’re all like, “Hey lady! Take me! Take me!” We were intent on adopting a pup though, and headed over to the puppy area. Almost immediately, we saw this huge litter of mutts, German Shepherds mixed with (they guessed) St. Bernard. There were eight girls and eight boys, all named after rocks or minerals. On the boy side, one puppy came bounding out and jumped into my hands. His name was Igneous. Decision made.



egor1 iggy1

My employment and career counselors, Egor and Iggy, whose sound advice and encouragement help keep my spirits up during this rough and tumble job-hunt. They really do enable me to put things into perspective sometimes.

I will attend a job fair tomorrow. Washing and ironing a nice white blouse to wear with my new suit – yeah – new suit!!! Ok, well, I got it at Savers…it’s new to me, anyway. I will try and remember to brush my teeth before I put my suit on – god, that was dumb the last time when I dribbled toothpaste onto my lapel.

Also, will wear non-dangling earrings – made that mistake last time as well. Do NOT look like you’ve got any personality – I think that’s the message here.

Oh man, I can barely stand the excitement!!!


We are going crazy here in Minneapolis – just partying like it’s 199… oh please….

There is someone outside shooting off a shotgun – it’s -8 degrees out there – and no, I don’t think it’s fireworks.


Here’s what went down over here in the Pillsbury house tonight. I finished up the rest of the laundry. It is not looking too good for the mismatched socks that you see in this photo. I may do what I usually do – which is hold on to them in a pillow case in the hopes that their matches will magically turn up. I have a friend who thinks I should burn them in a cleansing ritual – that makes sense, actually. My brother-in-law wants me to make a quilt out of them. Don’t hold your breath on that one. I was thinking that I could dye them all black maybe.

The dogs are awake now because of the gunshots, but here they are from a little while ago in a slightly odd dog configuration on the couch. It’s a huge couch and yet they prefer to be butt to butt. It’s pretty cute.

Alright then, fellow readers and bloggers wherever you are – Happy 2014 to you!