A Sad Farewell to Luna (2004-2016)

Our Beloved Cat Luna

It is through tears and with the heaviest of hearts that we say goodbye to our beloved Luna. She passed away quietly and peacefully this afternoon.

Since suspending treatment, I have endeavored to keep her happy and comfortable and surrounded by love. The cancer continued to spread and over the past week it was clear just how much pain and difficulty she was in. It was my last gift to her to let her go and be free of the pain. Knowing that, it hasn’t made it any easier to say goodbye.

Luna and I were an inseparable team for over 11 years, years filled with love and fun and adventures. Over time, we became very in tune to each other’s emotions and needs, and have given one another strength and comfort through many challenges and crises. Indeed, she would always be able to instantly when I was sad or in pain, and come over to sit on my chest and provide comforting and healing purrs. This time she isn’t here to do that. Fortunately, I have friends and family, and this wonderful community around CatSynth to draw on. Thank you all for wonderful support you have given during the past year and a half, and beyond.

I am still processing what happened today, and only beginning the grieving process. I will have much more to say over the course of this coming week and in the weeks after that. For now, I leave you some music that speaks to this moment (including the track from Blackstar that we shared on Friday), as well as a modified Mourner’s Kaddish that I will be using, with both Hebrew transliteration and English translation.

RIP Luna (November 30, 2004 [est] – October 31, 2016)


20161031-img_2491

Mourner’s Kaddish (Modified)

Yitga-dal v’yit-ka-dash sh’may raba,
v’yam leech mal-chu-tay,
b’alma deevra chi-roo-tay,
b’chai-yay-chon uv-yo-maychon, uv-cha-yay d’chol bayt yishvay tehval,
ba-a-ga-lah u-viz-man kareev, v’imru oh-meyn.

Y’hay sh’may ra-ba m’va-rach l’olam ool-ol-may ol-may-yah.

Yit-bar-rach v’yish-ta-bach, v’yit-pah-ar v’yit-ro-mam,
v’yit-na-say v’yit-ha-dar, v’yit-a-leh, v’yit’halal
sh’may d’kud sho b’richu;
l’ay-la min kol bir-chatah v’shee-rata,
tush-b’cha-ta v’ne-cheh-mah-tah, da-a-mee-ron b’alma,
v’imru, oh-meyn.

V’hay sh’lo-mo ra-ba min sh’may-yah,
v’chay-im olaynu v’yal kol yishvay tehval
v’imru, oh-mayn.

O-seh shalom bimromahv.
Hu ya-ah-seh shalom.

Aleynu v’yal kol yishvay tehval,
v’imru, oh-mayn.

Mourner’s Kaddish (Amended) — An English Translation

May it be magnified
and may it be sanctified
Your great name

in the world you created according to your will.
May the world establish and fulfill

in your life and in your days
and in the life of all creation

soon
and near in time
and say, Amen.

May your great name be praised
forever, and ever and ever.

May it be praised
and may it be blessed
and may it be glorified
and may it be upraised
and may it be elevated,

and may it be honored
and may it be exalted
and may it be extolled,

the name of the Holy One, Blessed Be,

beyond all words of praise, words of song,
words of blessing, and words of comfort
that are uttered in this world,
and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all G-d’s creation; and say, Amen.

May G-d who creates peace in the celestial heights, create peace for us and for all creation; and say, Amen.

Originally posted here]

Dollar Days, Blackstar, and Luna

David Bowie, Blackstar

A lot has already been written about David Bowie’s final album Blackstar. But it seems particularly poignant in a personal way at this moment in my life.

I should start by saying it’s a great album. I would even assert that it was his best since the classic albums of the 1970s. it mixes complex and dark elements with some catchy hooks like on Low. The jazz and fusion elements on Blackstar, which features a band led by saxophonist Donny McCaslin, also take me back to another of my favorites, Station to Station, with its funky vibe. Indeed, some of the initial responses to the album that focused on his use of a jazz band seemed to leave out the connection to his funky bands of the mid 1970s. But coming back to the present moment, it’s the song “Dollar Days” on Blackstar that seems to stand out the moment. It is melancholy and its verses feature ballad-like chord structure, descending root notes resolving back on itself. The chorus has a simultaneously anxious and soaring quality. And the lyrics seem to be self-reflective and prescient of his coming death just two days after the album’s release, especially when coupled with the next track “I Can’t Give Everything Away.”

Cash girls suffer me, I’ve got no enemies
I’m walking down
It’s nothing to meet
It’s nothing to see
If I’ll never see the English evergreens I’m running to
It’s nothing to meet
It’s nothing to see

I’m dying too
Push their backs against the grain
And fool them all again and again
I’m trying to
We bitches tear our magazines
Those oligarchs with foaming mouths come now and then
Can’t believe I just run second, now I’m forgetting you
I’m trying to
I’m dying too

Dollar days ’til final checks, honest scratching tails, the necks, I’m falling down
It’s nothing to meet
It’s nothing to see
If I’ll never see the English evergreens I’m running to
It’s nothing to meet
It’s nothing to see

I’m dying too
Push their backs against the grain
And fool them all again and again
I’m trying to
It’s all gone wrong for on and on
The bitter nerve is never enough, I’m falling down
Don’t believe in just one second round for getting you
I’m trying to
I’m dying too

Specifically, that line “If I’ll never see the English evergreens I’m running to” hits home. Bowie died in New York and had probably not seen the English evergreens in a while, and was aware that he likely wouldn’t. One part of Luna’s decline that has affected me greatly is the realization that we won’t experience some of our favorite things together anymore. Some have already gone, such as playing with toys, clamoring for favorite treats, and running up and down the stairs at night. I have no way of imagining what this feels like to her, but it can’t be good. And that, too, is a painful realization. Sadly, cats don’t have the ability to express their feelings in words, let alone with the lyricism and eloquence of David Bowie. The sharing of his thoughts about his mortality is one of the gifts in Blackstar, along with the music itself.

Luna’s continued decline has good days and bad, and we are spending as much time together as we can, including sitting on the floor and listening to music, cuddling and purring.

CatSynth pic: Runkl and Modular Synth

Runkl and Modular Synth

Black cat Runkl keeps watch over a massive modular synth setup. Submitted by our friend Jeph Nor from Portland.

An update on Luna.

Luna on the beanbag chair

It’s a sad tale of two cats these days. Luna continues to herself, beautiful, elegant and enjoying the small sites and pleasures in the world, as in this photo taken Saturday of her sitting on her beanbag chair in the studio. Something out the window caught her attention.

At other times, however, it is impossible not to see her continuing decline. This was especially the case yesterday. She was tired, with very little energy, and getting a bit frightened and skittish – I can’t begin to imagine how frightening and disconcerting this experience is for her. But she still continues to enjoy a few of her low-energy favorite things, like sitting on her throne and getting pets and scritches.

Luna with throne and scritches.

We have moved the “throne” pillow to the floor as she prefers not to jump anymore. I have also spent more time sitting with her on the floor, even spending a portion of some nights sleeping not he floor with her. We are getting towards the end, painful as it is to admit it. But she is still holding onto life and our connection, and I want to make her remaining time as comfortable as possible. I love her very much, and want her to know that she is still loved.

It’s been difficult emotionally to deal with her illness and decline. I see the cat that I’ve known for years, and think of all the memories, and that it will come to an end in the near future. And that each meal, each small activity, takes on an added gravity. There is also a lot of anger. Some at myself for not noticing this early enough to head it off, probably in late 2014 or early 2015. Some of the anger is at the world, where horrible people are thriving while the sweetest creature I have ever known is facing an early and difficult death. It’s taking its toll. I will be pulling back a bit from live shows – and I will continue to work through the backlog of reviews and reports, so it will seem like I’m as busy as ever. But much of the time will in fact be with Luna over the coming weeks.

Thank you for your continued purrs, thoughts, and vibes. 💕

And Update on Luna – Purrs Needed

Luna

Luna had her monthly check-up yesterday, and the news wasn’t good. The cancer is continuing to spread. Slowly, but nonetheless spreading, including internally. As a result, I made the decision to stop the chemo. It clearly isn’t having the effect that we wanted, and it is making her miserable. It’s tough to decide to suspend treatment, but it seems like the best decision for her.

Indeed, in the short term she will probably feel much better. And that has been born out by her more lively behavior in the past 24 hours. I even caught her running around and exploring like a kitten this morning; and she has gone back to her delightfully diva behavior of demanding her favorite foods and attention from me. She does, however, lose stamina more quickly and needs to rest a lot.

Luna behind the equipment rack.

Regular readers know I love Luna very much, and have tried to do the best for her I can. And now it seems the best is to keep her happy and comfortable and enjoy our time together. And of course spoil her rotten. She will get lots of love, attention, comfort, and the tastiest foods.

I neither believe in nor seek miracles, so our request for purrs and thoughts is to join us enjoying the time we will have together.

An Update on Luna

Luna on the sofa

We wanted to give you all an update on Luna and her health. But first, she wants to say hi to everyone.

She is definitely lower energy, though still very affectionate and every so often has a burst of energy and runs like a kitten. She continues to walk with a bit of a limp. Her appetite is good, though she now prefers wet food almost exclusively. It’s hard to tell changes in the cancer area – it doesn’t seem any worse, but it wasn’t good to begin with. Overall, she is better than she seemed over Labor Day weekend, when things seemed measured in days. Days have now turned to weeks. As long as she continues to seem happy and content, I am content to make sure she stays that way.

And she still gives of herself. In the midst of this perennially busy season and the current stresses, I broke down early on Saturday amidst depression and fatigue. Luna recognized this and came over to set with me and purr loudly, groom me and give head butts. She is the sweetest creature I have ever known, and I hope we can enjoy a bit more time together.

CatSynth pic: Luna and Roland JP-08 Boutique Synthesizer

Luna and Roland JP-08

Today we have a special treat, as Luna poses for a CatSynth pic with the Roland JP-08 “Boutique” synthesizer. It’s “cat-sized”, but for humans it’s also a good size for an auxiliary synth and easy to carry to gigs alongside the Nord or Moog. It also brings in some Roland Jupiter sound to the repertoire.

As for Luna, she is continuing to do better since her nadir at the beginning of the month. She is eating well and active, though she does still walk with a bit of a limp. Nonetheless, we get to spend some good time together, including in the studio.

An Update on Luna (and myself)

Luna close-up portrait

Luna appears to have bounced back from the brink. She is eating regularly again, which an improvement from just a week ago. As a result, her energy and vigor have increased and she is moving around like normal.

Luna walking on the sofa

Her energy is still not as high as it was a month ago, but it is a great improvement over last weekend. And while it doesn’t change the fundamentals of the cancer and its seriousness, it does suggest that we will have some more time to enjoy together.

Luna’s small but significant improvements have helped me as well as I continue to recover. Things are starting to feel normal again. Indeed, look for some more music reviews in the coming week, now that I have resumed attending concerts. And we will get back to more of our regular “CatSynth pic” posts after a break this past week.

In the meantime, thank you everyone for your continued purrs and thoughts.

An Update on Luna (and myself)

20160806-IMG_1304

Luna has been doing well with her current treatment. The pill-based chemotherapy has brought the disease to a standstill so things aren’t getting worse, and it hasn’t caused her any noticeable side effects. And she has been happy and healthy otherwise. She plays, basks in sun spots, and particularly likes curling up on soft surfaces like the blanket in the photo above.

As was the last about a year ago during her initial treatments, I am also recovering from my own medical adventures. Nothing that would cause concern, but it has required a lot of rest and a lot of patience (which has never been my strong suit). Luna’s health, vitality, and affection have been tremendous comforts as I recover. We truly help each other.

CatSynth 10th Anniversary!

10

On July 19, we hit a major milestone: 10 years since our first post. And we celebrate as always with some stats:

2,982 Posts
14,031 Comments
4.7 comments per post
1088 Cat-and-synth pics, videos, etc.
430 Reviews, gig-reports, and related posts

In some ways, the blog activity has declined a bit since it’s height in the early 2010s. Much of the activity has moved over to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And more recently, we are looking to the future via our mobile apps – there is much more coming there in the not-too-distant future. Additionally, I find myself balancing time spent writing blog articles with an increasingly busy schedule of musical performances and such. All good things in their own way.

We are a bit late to celebrate this year due to some major personal and medical priorities on my part (all of which are going well, but also beyond the scope of this forum). It isn’t the first time our blog anniversary has gotten caught up in other things. Last year we missed the 9th anniversary entirely as we coped with Luna’s cancer diagnosis. And our first anniversary came amidst a major downtime for the site that took a week or so to fix.

As always, here is the photo of Luna that started it all on July 19, 2006.

Luna_Keyboard_resized_c

Luna hasn’t aged all that much, retaining her youthful appearance. And that beanbag chair is still a favorite of hers. It’s where she hangs out in the studio, and over the years we have taken major photos of her with it.

The studio has certainly gotten more crowded over time.

Please join us in celebrating 10 years of CatSynth, and looking forward to many more!