Happy 11th Gotcha Day Luna!

Today marks Luna’s 11th Gotcha Day (adoption anniversary) since I first brought her home from the Santa Cruz County animal shelter on June 10, 2005. She has come to be the queen of her home in the years since.

This Gotcha Day is a particularly sweet one, considering all that has happened over the past year. It was about one month after her previous anniversary that we saw the first signs of her cancer and got the formal diagnosis soon after. She was given only months at best with aggressive treatment. But with love, attention and the best medical care available, she is still with us a year later and thriving!

And she is still the star of CatSynth.

We are looking forward to a weekend of celebration and treats.

Please join me in wishing Luna a very happy Gotcha Day!

An Update On Luna

Since the skin surgery earlier this spring, Luna has been cancer free as far as we can tell. Indeed, after talking with our doctor we decided that there would be no need for another round of chemotherapy at this time! We will continue to monitor, and if future exams show any recurrence we will decide what to do from there. In the meantime, Luna is enjoying life and home and is thoroughly spoiled, including getting many of her favorite foods on demand.

Luna licking her chops

If there is one stress for her right now, is that I recently started a new job where I am back in an office. It’s been a tough adjustment for her, and it saddens me to see her stressed. We are both adapting and figuring it out – and I should be able to come play with her during breaks (the job is walking distance from CatSynth HQ here in San Francisco). I have very strong opinions about offices and working in teams, but those are best left for another day. After is, this as about Luna.

We love Luna!

Thank you all again for your thoughts and purrs. And hopefully we will be able to post more good news.

CatSynth Pic, and an Update on Luna

Luna, Casio SK-1 and Korg Volca Beats

Luna poses near her beanbag chair in the studio and stacked Casio SK-1 and Korg Volca BEATS. More importantly, she is now collar-free! She got the all clear at her post-surgery follow-up on Friday, as the incision is healing well. We will soon be in contact with the oncologist about a next round of chemo and hopefully we will knock out the cancer for real.

Luna has been much happier without the collar, and he mood has brightened a lot. She is playful and affectionate, but she does sleep a lot – she is a cat after all. But her sleeping once again looks very peaceful.

Luna sleeping in a circle

I am always impressed with her ability to curl up into a nearly perfect circle.

An Update on Luna: Surgery Recovery

Luna resting after surgery

Luna continues to recover from her surgery last weekend. She is mostly resting comfortably, but she has been alternately dopey from the painkillers and miserable from the discomfort and the insult of wearing the e-collar. It’s only in the last two days that she has started to seem herself again, eating more normally and wandering around the house as usual. Of course, she does continue to sleep quite a bit, but that is fine.

We did get a report from the surgeon that the skin spot was indeed the cancer (essentially we already knew that from tests), but that she was able to remove all of it, which is definitely good news. And so far the surgical incision appears to healing well. So once she is cleared from surgical post care, we can begin the next round of chemotherapy. No fun at all, but hopefully will put Luna back on the road to recovery.

Thanks as always for your continued purrs and healing vibes.

Update on Luna: Post Surgery

Luna recovering from surgery.

Luna’s surgery yesterday went well. Since it was just a small skin spot, it was much smaller than the original surgery last year and she was able to come home the same day. We are hoping for a quicker recovery as well. Nonetheless, it’s no fun at all for Luna. She has been eating normally and at times her energetic affectionate self – at others lethargic and clearly coping with some pain and discomfort. It’s no different from a human post surgery. I am administering pain medications and gentle affection to her today as she rests and recovers.

Thank you for your continued purrs and thoughts.

An Update on Luna

We had a few particularly warm days this past week, which gave Luna a bit of time to enjoy some sun on the patio.

Luna on the patio

Luna is still battling cancer, and probably will be for the rest of her time with us. But as one can see from the photo above it doesn’t prevent her from leading a happy and contented life. She has been her normal affectionate and playful self, and a delight to spend time with.

The surgery and chemotherapy that we did last year were key to her still being with us and enjoying life. The latest concern is a spot on her skin near the previous surgery that has tested positive for cancer. Fortunately, tests showed no internal metastatic disease – that remains our biggest worry. And nothing on the remaining mammary chain, which is also a relief. So we will go ahead with a surgery to remove the skin spot and another round of chemo to hopefully knock out any lingering cells.

It’s disappointing to have to put her through more treatments. I will do so as long as I feel it’s what’s best for her. She still has so much life in her and hasn’t slowed down from the disease, so the treatment is the best choice. Luna and I thank you for continued purrs and thoughts.

Farewell to a Friend: Sophia, Diva Kitty

Sophia, Diva Kitty

It’s always deeply sad when we have to say goodbye to one of our friends. Sophia, the Diva Kitty and her mom Michelle (DKM) were among that group that welcomed us into the world of cat blogging back in 2006, and whom we got to know even better after moving to San Francisco in 2008. We received the sad news a few days ago that Sophia passed away.

So Luna and I bid a tearful farewell to our feline friend and send our thoughts and condolences to her family.

Boulez and Bowie

In the span of just one week at the start of this new year, we lost two musical heroes (whose names, coincidentally, both begin with “B”). Pierre Boulez and David Bowie may seem worlds apart musically and stylistically, but they both had strong influences on where my own music and performance has gone especially in the last few years.

By Joost Evers / Anefo (Nationaal Archief) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Joost Evers / Anefo (Nationaal Archief) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I am most familiar with Boulez not as a composer but as the founding director and god father of IRCAM in Paris; and as a renowned conductor. One fun memory of the latter involves one of his recordings conducting Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia. It was a favorite of mine, and when I got the chance to present it to Berio for an autograph, he declared his dislike of the recording, but signed my CD atop Boulez’ face. As a figure who loomed large in the world of avant-garde music, and then electronic music, he certainly evoked strong opinions from others. There is no doubting the influence of his leadership at IRCAM in both my electronic-music composition and research, even as I disagree with aspects of the institution’s culture, such as strict control and division of music and technology research. But it’s worth stepping back and looking at Boulez as a composer. His masterpiece Répons combines electronics with an acoustic chamber ensemble in ways that make the electronics disappear at times. It also has a very visual quality to it, evoking a complex film scene or theatre piece.

By k_tjaaa (Flickr: David Bowie Mural) [<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0">CC BY 2.0</a>], <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADavid_Bowie_Mural.jpg">via Wikimedia Commons</a>

By k_tjaaa (Flickr: David Bowie Mural) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The theatrical is one of many ways David Bowie’s influence comes into the picture, along with the use of gender experimentation and constant stylistic reinvention. His gender-fluid and sometimes overtly feminine presentations on stage were “transgressive” for the time, but have certainly impacted many of us and made space for our own expression in music and in person. It set an example for me to be able to first come out on stage and then eventually in person. In addition to gender, Bowie’s onstage persona gave freedom to be decadent and glamorous, something which many styles of music seem to lack. Now when I perform Boulez-influenced music, it is definitely with Bowie-influenced staging and theatrics. And of course the costuming.

But David Bowie was himself a talented musician and writer. In the same ferment of the 1970s in which he developed his personae, he also pushed the use of synthesizers and electronics in music that was still referred to as “Rock”. His song Subterraneans is a prime example of both technology (ARP synthesizers, backwards bass guitar) and theatrics in his music, as illustrated in this tribute video.

The album that includes this song, Low, was preceded by Station to Station, one of my favorites for its funk influence, including the song Stay. The funk and soul sound of this album, along with his more unambiguously masculine persona in the album art (at least to my sensibilities), exemplify his ability to change and reinvent quickly from one project to the next. It’s the album I have returned to primarily after the announcement of his death on Sunday night. But I do want to close with one if his most hauntingly beautiful songs: Drowned Girl is one again something different altogether.

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.

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.