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.

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.