Farewell to 2015: Annus Asper

Farewell to 2015
[Click to enlarge.]

2015 was a rough year. There is no other way to put it. We looked over the precipice at some of the worst possibilities becoming reality. But we came through. Luna stared down an extremely dire diagnosis and is once again thriving. For that I am truly grateful. I rebounded strongly from my own health issues as well. And there were many other beautiful moments this year, a few of which are included in our graphic.

This was a year of many endings as well, most notably in the personal and musical domains. But new doors are opening for 2016 as a result, and there are some new projects and opportunities for which I am excited. 2015 left a lot of questions unanswered, some of which are also depicted in the graphic and some of which are beyond the scope of this site.

So we are excited for 2016, but also extremely anxious and apprehensive. There are more big challenges coming up; and if I have learned anything, it is that I have no idea how things will ultimately turn out. It’s just a matter of doing things one at a time incrementally – but also continuing even more than ever to speak my truths and accept the risks and consequences that come with doing so.

Meanwhile, we at CatSynth will continue to do what we do here, bring music, art, culture and cats to the world. Thank you for all your support in 2015, and especially all your support for Luna and me. We are truly humbled and look forward to sharing this new year whatever it brings.

Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015)

We lost another of our art heroes yesterday. Ellsworth Kelly, known for his iconic works composed of color fields, passed away.

Luna with Ellsworth Kelly book

The above photo features the catalog from his large-scale solo show at SFMOMA in 2002-2003. The exhibition was a bright spot, both aesthetically and emotionally, in an otherwise depressing period of time and made quite an impression. I kept intersecting with his work during my numerous art adventures in California. His paintings featured large color fields, sometimes combined together into a single whole, while other times separated, as in Blue Green Black Red (1996) on display as part of the Fisher Collection at SFMOMA. I had the opportunity to see a large retrospective of his prints and paintings at LACMA in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. This, too, was revelatory as it showed other aspects of his work, including black-and-white pieces and connections of his abstract style to nature.


[Installation view. Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings. January 22-April 22, 2012. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photo (c) 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA]


[Installation view. Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings. January 22-April 22, 2012. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photo (c) 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA]

 

It is still, however, the color fields that I most instantly recognized as his.


[Installation view. Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings. January 22-April 22, 2012. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photo (c) 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA]

Kelly himself resisted being described as “abstract” or “minimal” or any other label that intersected with his career.  But I think this statement quoted in the New York Times obituary describes his art very well, and is a fitting conclusion.

“My paintings don’t represent objects,” he said in 1996. “They are objects themselves and fragmented perceptions of things.”

 

Hannukah and Farewell to a Friend

We at CatSynth are preparing to celebrate the penultimate night of Hannukah. Our musician-themed menorah is all ready for tonight.

Menorah for 7th night of Hannukah

Luna sits nearby and supervises with her usual indifference.

Luna

She’s continuing to be happy and healthy after her treatments, for which I am truly grateful. Her recent birthday is still mixed into our celebrations. A dear friend of ours sent her this cute birthday card.

Birthday card for Luna

We are looking forward to the last few weeks of this tumultuous year being a bit quieter, with time together and more time for musical projects. At the top of the list is the solo album – apropos of Hannukah, the opening track (composed during last year’s holidays) is called Kislev, named for the current Hebrew month.


Moosey

It is with tears and a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our dear friend Moosey from Animal Shelter Volunteer Life. We have gotten to know him and his humans Kevin and Tracey quite well over the years. And they have all been great supporters of CatSynth, including a lot of love and moral support during Luna’s ordeal. Moosey, too, has been battling health challenges, and this week they caught up with him. He was a shelter cat from PAWS and sweet and gentle soul. We send our deepest condolences to Kevin and Tracey and to the surviving members of his feline family Zoe and Gracie. Please visit their blog to offer your thoughts and sympathies.

GeorgieAnd now we have just learned of the passing of another feeling friend: the beautiful white cat Georgie from Cats of Wildcat Woods. They, too, have been good friends and supporters of this site. We extend them our deepest thoughts and sympathies as well. It is a sad few days indeed for our community.

Happy 11th Birthday, Luna!

Luna at 11!

Today is Luna’s 11th Birthday! As you can see, she is happy and healthy after all she has been through this year – and looking great!

It is a particularly sweet one for us at CatSynth, as it seemed for a little while this summer that this day might not have come. But here we are, and grateful for all the time we still have together. We’re hoping for a lot more to come.

This evening we celebrated in style. With treats, a nip cocktail, and fresh tuna sashimi!

11th birthday sashimi and treats

Luna took right away to her birthday treats.

Luna enjoy birthday dinner

The sashimi was particularly delicious, both the tuna and salmon. Quite buttery.

Although this toy isn’t new, it’s the one that Luna seems to be particularly attached to this evening while high on nip. I think it was a comfort for her at the kitty hotel while I was away.

Nipped out Luna with toy.

Yes, this is one spoiled and contented birthday girl. As she should be.

Contented birthday girl.

Please join me in wishing Luna a very happy 11th Birthday!

An Update on Luna – Final Treatment

Yesterday Luna completed her fourth and final chemotherapy treatment. As with the previous treatments, it went quite well. The oncology department at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists posted this sign in the reception room celebrating her achievement.

Congratulations Luna on completing treatment

We now go into a phase of periodic monitoring every 2-3 months with X-rays and physical exams to check for any resurgence in the cancer. But for now things look good. She has been home and resting comfortably.

Luna resting regally.

We at CatSynth are made from strong stuff. Luna has made it through her treatments better than originally expected; and at the same time it seems I have recovered far better than expected with the problem in my eye that happened at the same time. We are looking forward to more happy and healthy time together as a result. At the end of this month, we will be celebrating Luna’s birthday, a possibility that was very much in question after her diagnosis back in July. And now we can start to be hopeful about celebrations beyond.

Thank you all for your continued thoughts, vibes and purrs for Luna through this time and beyond!

❤️ Amanda and Luna

An Update on Luna

Luna relaxing on the floor

Luna went for her third chemotherapy treatment this past Thursday, and it went well. In addition to the treatment itself, a new chest X-ray and physical exam by the oncologist showed no visible-sized cancer, which is a very good sign. Microscopic cancer cells remain a concern, but that is what the chemotherapy is for. We have one more treatment in a few weeks, then go into monitoring. Hopefully things continue to go in the right direction.

Meanwhile, our life at CatSynth HQ is slowly edging back to normal, at least with our health. As you can see from the photo above, Luna’s fur has mostly grown back from the surgery. And it’s now safe for her to go out and play on the patio in our beautiful fall weather in San Francisco.

Luna on the patio

As I need to remind myself, there isn’t a state of being “cured”, this is something Luna will be dealing with for the rest of her life. But now we can hopefully look forward to a longer and happier life. Thank you again for all the thoughts and purrs, and please keep them coming.

An Update on Luna

Luna had her first chemotherapy treatment yesterday. It went well and she is now back home.

Luna chilling out after chemo

She has been eating well, and is affectionate and at her normal activity level, all of which are good signs amidst an otherwise difficult situation. Also a good sign was that the chest X-rays before the treatment were clean showing no visible cancer in the lungs – spreading to the lungs is the main danger for her type of cancer – but that does not preclude microscopic cells or clusters like those found in her lymph node after the surgery. So the chemo is the prudent and necessary step.

The technicians also went out of their way to mention both to me and in the official report what a sweet cat Luna is, she is very affectionate and quite mild-mannered. It’s a reminder of what a special companion she is and why we have undertaken this care to continue to give her a good life. And we have been spending quite a bit of time together lately, as I take care of my health and pull back from some activities.

And Update on Luna…and me

Luna continues to improve after her surgery. She has had her stitches removed and she was clear to be cone-free. Her energy level, appetite, and affection have all returned to normal. And we have been enjoying quite a bit of time together.

Luna and Amanda at CatSynth HQ

This is all good news, though her overall prognosis remains challenging. We will be going forward with her first chemo treatment in a couple of weeks, the first of up to four, depending on its effectiveness and how she handles it. The most important step was the surgery, but this will hopefully reduce the cancer a bit more and give her a longer and better quality of life. It still remains difficult to reconcile the dire diagnosis with the lively and affectionate cat that I still see every day. We will just have to take things as they come.

In the midst of Luna’s health crisis, I suddenly find myself facing one as well. Two Wednesdays ago, I suddenly started having distorted vision in my left eye and localized headaches in the vicinity of the same eye. I quickly went for an eye exam, and it deemed serious enough to warrant a visit to a retina specialist as soon as possible. That visit happened, and while I will spare the details in this article, it was pretty serious. (Those who are really interested can Google “central vein occlusion” and “retinal hemorrhaging”.) It’s not as dire as Luna’s diagnosis, but it remains physically problematic and has been quite disruptive – I have already canceled a few music gigs – and it reverberates though other aspects of my health. I’ll probably have a better sense of things in the next few days. Meanwhile, I have a few upcoming shows in the next two weeks that I plan to still play, but beyond that I am keeping things pretty low-key for September and October, focused on solitary creative projects (e.g., resuming work on the solo album), and on healing. Indeed, Luna and I are now healing each other together.