Tag Archives: Dogs

All Decked Out


springyardThe dog kennel is de-pooped, for now. Those maple tree helicopter things are still hovering down. Chris has been valiantly blowing them off the deck where they are not wanted, then sweeping and carrying them off into the new spring compost bin. The mushy leaves which we use to cover the hosta jungle on the shady side of the yard have been raked up and also added into the compost oven. Hey, we’re not scholars from the Rodale Institute or anything, but compost really rocks. And so do rocks – the back yard has been totally Fred Flintstoned. A pond-with-3-tiered-waterfall project became Chris’ answer to losing a huge tree in the back of the yard; instead of removing the huge tree trunk he just added huge boulders and began the waterfall. It’s his baby which needs tending to occasionally; the pond portion has little leaks from time-to-time but generally we’ve been pretty happy with it. The birds, especially cardinals, seem to love to take little showers in the waterfall; they hang out there for hours sometimes. In early spring a couple of mallards stop and visit as though they’re looking at real estate – “honey, I know it’s just a one-bedroom but we wouldn’t have those damned Drakes next door causing all that racket.” (That’s me, anthropromorpholizing our duck visitors.) Then they see that we have two big dogs, and the sale goes south in a quick hurry.

We hardly travel for a variety of reasons; it’s expensive, we never have enough time, we’re not good planners, we’ve got two big dogs. So for us, our little plot of South Minneapolis is our retreat. Sure, there are the sounds of cars,  trucks and motorcycles whooshing by down on the street, but we pretend it’s the sound of waves crashing on the Northern Pacific shoreline somewhere (ok, I do that, Chris isn’t quite there yet). There are the occasional shouts, firecrackers, those crotch rocket things that I don’t even like to call motorcycles, and sometimes dogs who have been left in their yards who won’t stop barking, but it all comes with the territory. We have plants that attract butterflies and even hummingbirds; squirrels, rabbits, raccoons and even possums like to hang out in our sanctuary.

We’re city folk at heart, I guess. Summertime, and the living is easy. So here’s a slooomooo moment. It’s one of those reminders to live in the present.


Do I Mind?


No, I don’t, actually. Keeping in mind that I’m talking about mindfulness, which I am dutifully learning about and thinking about trying on for size. Do I mind? Well, maybe I could… Could I meditate? Could I stop my busy buzz buzz noggin and settle in for a quiet sit? Maybe after an hour of walking, swimming or yoga – but that’s so hard. Oh there you go with the negativity, buzzy noggin. I’m working with a Zen master who could certainly teach me how to quiet things down up there, but I’m worried that my eyes will start twitching and watering, or I’ll start laughing or something. Do I have to quit coffee to do this – cuz I don’t want to give up coffee – it’s like my last addiction and I think I’m allowed to have my last addiction, come on! Maybe “unplugging” one day a week would be advisable…I could be getting a wee bit stressed from being hunched over this laptop to which I’ve become enslaved. No, I’m fine. Really.  zencoffee

I can’t even calm down during massages, and I’ve got a super massage therapist. At least I feel comfortable with telling her I can’t relax. I’ve been to massage practitioners where I felt I had to act a certain way during the massage, lest they judge me – now that’s just wrong, isn’t it? Jesus, I’m paying them to relax me and I’m worrying about what they think of me. I am one mixed up puppy. So now I have a regular therapist with whom I can say anything…I’ve been going to her for years and it’s like finding that one person who can cut your hair right – you need to foster and nourish that relationship just like your best friendship or even your marriage.

My typical exercise for relaxation is taking my two dogs out to the dogpark, letting them run and I walk a couple of miles. I’m on edge out there, too; what if I don’t catch Egor pooping – he sometimes runs way ahead and does his business where I can’t see him. I bring bags and clean up after them if I catch them, but, you know, shit happens. There are “poop police” out there, I swear, waiting to find the terrible, terrible dog owners who didn’t pick up. They even try to shame you on a Facebook page. Another anxiety is 95 pound Iggy, who occasionally likes to bark at guys, especially if they are wearing a hat and carrying one of those ball-throwing things – they just piss him off and he expresses himself to them. He just barks a couple of times, but it always hurts the barkee’s feelings and I always feel the need to apologize for Iggy’s insensitivity and explain that he’s just saying “Hi” in a really loud voice. Then I walk away, embarrassed.

Am I overly concerned about things? Maybe so. But maybe I’m already mindful…how about that? Maybe I’m not a nervous nelly ~ I have already reached a mindful, Zen state; I am just not aware of it yet. Yeah ok, I thought not. A mindful practice is just that – practice – and I know it takes a certain amount of discipline to do that. I’m not good with discipline – the word reminds me of Catholic school. Could we find another word for discipline? The words “obedience” and “regiment” come to mind, never mind. I need to just bite the bullet and try some guided meditation. So what if my eyes twitch and water? I will just have to accept that with loving kindness towards myself. See, I can do this.

I’m Crabby Today.


I feel sorta like This Guy

And sort of vexed. No, nope, I don’t really know why. This is a Machinist Man sort of mood; the kind where there’s no rhyme or reason for it – it just is. I will get over myself, eventually. I’ve been watching cute dog viddies – dogs trying to be friends with cats. Stuff like that usually sets me right; but no, not today – I’ve still got the crankies.


Oh no, she’s got her Irish up.

I had a great doctor check-up this morning – I’m very healthy! What, did I want for there to be something wrong? Geez! I was complaining to my very nice doctor, “Why do I need to come in here every 3 months – this is ridiculous!” And she goes, “Well, it’s been 7 months since you’ve been here.” I said, “Oh, well, ok, then.” And then she’d say stuff like, “Wow, you’ve lost 15 pounds! That’s great!” And I’d grumble, “Well don’t praise me, it’s nowhere near my goal!”

I know that if I take the dogs out to the dog park and get some fresh air (not sunshine – there’s been no sunshine for I don’t know how many days now – oh, there’s a clue there) I might get nudged out of this snarliness (is that a word?), but it’s way better than getting depressed. Is this progress for me? I don’t know, maybe? M’Man thinks it’s way, way healthier his way; that is, express stuff outwardly rather than inward and getting low down and blue. Taking all the problems in, feeling guilty and ashamed.

Maybe I’m learning. Hmmmm.

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.

Separated At Birth – Except Born Different Years


So I’m getting geared up to work at the Black Oak Arkansas show at the Amsterdam Hall tomorrow night in St. Paul, doing some KFAI representation and such. Getting ready how, you ask? Why, talking in my Jim Dandy voice, of course! Talking out loud to myself, as I am wont to do; well, not really myself, cuz the doggies are there and I’m sure are as enthralled by the sound of my voice as I am. But what I was noticing as I was doing my King of the Southern Rock Genre imitation, was that, well, maybe it’s cuz I’m originally from New Jersey, but everything that came out of my mouth sounded like Mark E. Smith from The Fall. And then I realized, No! Hang On A Minute! Is Mark E. Smith the Jim Dandy of England? Hey, it’s something to ponder, no?

Anyway, that’d be a real interesting bill – here they are, together at last!

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