It’s our twelfth anniversary! It’s hard to believe that this little project I started as a lark in 2006 is still going and expanding. Here is that first picture of Luna that went up on July 19, 2006!
As always, we look to the anniversary as a moment for reflection and for changes. We don’t have compiled detailed stats this year, but we do have several high-level milestones. Most notably, we launched CatSynth TV last October, and since then have shared 74 videos! More are on the way. We have continued to develop our apps, including the original CatSynth: The App! and Highway☆, though there is so much more we want to do there, both with existing and new apps. And Sam Sam has blossomed into the new star of CatSynth! With so many facets competing for our attention, there has been less time for the long-form reviews that once dominated this site, though we still write long-form articles when we can. So with that, we make some announcements:
Sam Sam finally takes her rightful place on the masthead alongside the late great Luna! It’s a change that is long overdue. And appropriately, we are featuring one of her scratch’n’roll poses.
We are going to open up the site to new voices. We have already had a couple of guest music reviews, and of course the semi-regular Mensa Cats cartoon series. This is going to expand in the coming months. If you have an idea for an article you would like to contribute, please let us know.
And as always, please keep sending us your cat-and-gear pics.
So please join Sam Sam and me in celebrating twelve years of CatSynth! We look forward to sharing many more with all of you.
Our feline pals Shadow and Brodie are back! And they appear to be hard at work on their next hit song as they sit at their keyboard – an M-Audio Axiom – together. Submitted by Anne Corwin via our Facebook page.
We introduce two new kitty pals today: Fluffy and Hissy. They are outdoor kitties who live in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, California.
This is Fluffy. He is a big fellow, and quite friendly. As far as we know, he lives outdoors full time, but he is very comfortable around humans, especially when they provide food.
By contrast, Hissy is much more skittish around people, and it is quite difficult to photograph her.
Usually, Hissy backs away, but if one does get close, she lives up to her name.
Both Fluffy and Hissy seem to be healthy and well fed in comparison to some of the street cats I have encountered in the neighborhood, so they probably have a network of food and safety options, beyond our “satellite office” in the neighborhood.
We hope to get some better photographs of them soon.
We have been noticing a new feline presence around CatSynth HQ, through sounds and bits of motion. But this is the first time we saw him/her on the patio ledge. It’s a little tuxedo cat, like Sam Sam.
This cat presumably lives in one of the apartments just beyond our patio. We often see him sitting on the ledge behind this glass-brick window.
As one might imagine, Sam Sam is rather curious about this new cat outside her windows.
She is a bit anxious and agitated by the cat’s presence, and often jumps up on this sideboard and even the window ledge above! Her is always fully fluffed during these encounters. I suspect she is feeling both intrigued and territorial at the same time. (We have already started clearing off the most fragile items and tchotchkes from the glass table).
We hope you have a great weekend. And we’d love to hear about adventures your cats have with their feline neighbors 😺
The Sub Phatty is perhaps the most under-appreciated member of Moog’s Phatty line of synthesizers, which includes the popular Sub37. We have one at CatSynth, and it has served us well both in the studio and in live performance. You can view my recent video on the hidden features of the instrument below.
I found myself back again in Napa Valley wine country a couple of weeks ago. Specifically I was in St. Helena to meet Elsie the Library Cat. I am not a morning individual, but Elsie apparently is, so at the early hour of 7AM, I headed up from San Francisco, crossing two bridges before exiting the I-80 onto Highway 29.
I have written about traveling through the Napa Valley on Highway 29 before, specifically in a post from 2007. Once again Highway 29, multiplexed with Highway 12, was a parking lot south of the city of Napa, so I was once again able to snap a photo at almost the same exact location. It was quite theraputic to do so, chasing away some of the demons of 2007, which themselves chased out the demons of 2000. The road has been upgraded into a better expressway, and Highway 221 (just a short connector to downtown) is now signed.
The traffic thinned out north of Napa as the road narrowed north of Yountville. Here the landscape is dotted with modest vinyards and over-the-top mansions and tasting rooms. Finally, I arrived in St. Helena, my favorite town in the region. I pulled into the library parking lot around 9AM, just in time for my visit with Elsie.
Elsie is a very sweet cat, and quite playful at times despite her advancing age. With her black coat, she reminded me a bit of Luna, though Elsie has mismatched-colored eyes compared to Luna’s emerald green. She and the staff of the St. Helena Public Library were great hosts and extremely welcoming of me and my video project. If you haven’t already seen our CatSynth TV feature on Elsie, you can watch it here.
It was still relatively early when I finished at the library, so I headed to the main street in town for brunch – a protein-heavy heuvos rancheros and some additional coffee seemed like a good idea after the morning video shoot and before heading out for wine tasting.
My main winery destination was Flora Springs, also in St. Helena. In 2014, I had come here for both wine tasting and a photo shoot – you can see one of the photos in this old Wordless Wednesday post. I had selected it because of the modernist architecture and interior design, but I enjoyed the spicy bold reds as well. Plus they have a patio that is lovely on a warm afternoon.
The same qualities that attracted me to this winery four years ago were in play again – the modern style and bold red wines. I particularly liked the Trilogy red blend and the Holy Smoke single-vinyard cabernet from Oakville. This visit was also featured on CatSynth TV.
Having enjoyed a full glass of both the Trilogy and Holy Smoke along with tastings of the standards, I decided I shouldn’t do anymore tasting for a while. But I still wanted to some more exploring. So instead of heading straight back south, I turned east onto Highway 128 in Rutherford towards Lake Berryessa, with the goal of finally completing the route. (Yes, I am weird that way.)
The narrow but well maintained highway took us out of the valley and into the hills to the east, winding our way through several canyons. The central towns of the Napa Valley were largely spared from last fall’s devasting fires, but here along Highway 128 one could still see some of the scars from the Atlas Fire. The green wooded hillsides were periodically streaked with bands of ashen gray and bare trees. But even within those bands, one could see bits of green. Some of these were trees that were spared during the fire, which jumps from one tree to another, as well as new growth replacing the burns. It’s amazing to see how quickly nature bounces back, especially compared to human development. It will take a bit longer to replace the homes, wineries and other businesses, and the mental and emotional scars may never heal.
Eventually, the highway aligns to the southern shore of Lake Berryessa, an artificial lake created by damming the Putah Creek. It’s quite large and major center for water recreation. I was just there for the visual aspect – I was particularly curious to see the “Glory Hole.”
The Glory Hole, which as also featured in a recent Wordless Wednesday post, is an internal spillway for the reservoir. When the lake gets too full, the water drains out through it like a bathtub. This happened in 2017, and must have been amazing to see.
We followed the highway down from hills into the Sacramento Valley, where it ends in the town of Winters. I had stopped here on the way to Portland a few weeks earlier, so had already shot some video. But that one is still a work in progress…
See more of California’s Napa Valley Wine Country and many other fascinating places in our Highway☆ app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.