We at CatSynth wish all our fellow Americans a happy and safe Independence Day (4th of July). Please keep your pets safe indoors today.
Even with so much happening in our own lives and in the world at large, we pause it all on this night to remember our beloved Luna, who passed away two years ago on October 31.
There is a both a poetic beauty and a cruel irony in the fact that she left us on Hallowe’en. It was the day every year that she was the star of cat-blogging world, hosting the annual Hallowe’en edition of Weekend Cat Blogging and being the most beautiful of beautiful black cats.
As we begin the yahrzeit, we light our memorial candle, and pay special respects to her memorial.
There was a moment of explosive grief as I told her, wherever and however she is, that I miss her so much. After that, a calmer sadness settled in as I sip a glass of bourbon, play “Dollar Days” from David Bowie’s Blackstar, and assemble this post.
She was a work of art, and fit in perfectly with aesthetics and design of CatSynth HQ.
But she was also extremely sweet and loving.
Please join me in remembering our sweet little girl, who left us way too soon. She will always be missed, never forgotten.
Sam Sam continues to delight every day with her adorable antics.
And she certainly gets lots of love and attention in response.
It’s interesting to see how different her unique facial markings look from different angles.
Of course, being the constant center of attention can be quite exhausting, so there is always time for naps.
Sam Sam often sticks a paw on her tail while sleeping, a trait we have remarked on before. I don’t know whether it serves a purpose or is just a quirky habit, but it is very sweet.
Today is #BlackCatDay, and an opportunity to celebrate and recognize black cats as we close in on Halloween when stereotypes and threats sometimes reach a crescendo. It breaks our hearts to think of any cat being hurt or abused, but black cats can face an especially different time.
For years, the celebration of black cats on and around Halloween was a ritual, with Luna often hosting the special Halloween Black-Cat Edition of Weekend Cat Blogging (back when that was a shared thing). Now it is more a time to remember and reflect on Luna, who left us on October 31 two years ago. We will have a proper remembrance on that day, but for now, we just want to bask in the beauty of our beloved black kitty.
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.
Beautiful black cat Luna strikes a “noir” pose atop one keyboard and next to another. Submitted by Matthew Vasquez via our Facebook page. I really like the way the stripes of light play against the keyboards, which in turn heighten the black cat’s figure.
This is Luna is not our Luna, but looks so much like her! You can read our more recent tribute to the late great Luna of CatSynth here.
Identification of the synths/keyboards left as an exercise to the reader.
June 10 was Luna’s Gotcha Day. For many years, it was one of the most joyous days of the calendar. Since her passing in 2016, it has been challenging and melancholy. There is rarely a day when I don’t think about my special little girl and soulmate of almost 12 years.
Grief is a nonlinear process. The memories of her life, and of her loss, have mostly been integrated. I can casually see pictures on a regular basis of her and remain in the moment, but scrolling back through them in a deliberate process this morning brings some tears. CatSynth HQ is very much Sam Sam’s now, and we respect her territory (and spoil her rotten while doing so). Yet even she sometimes seems to sense a presence of a former kitty in some of the corners and crevices that defy cleaning.
There is so much I miss about Luna. Her beauty and elegance, her shy but sweet nature.
And she was fiercely territorial, especially when it came to me. She did not like to share, but she made me feel very loved. She could sit patiently while I made weird sounds in the studio. And despite being a “strictly indoor” cat, she loved going outside on the patio after we moved to San Francisco.
Regular readers know I am not at all religious. And I don’t have a particular notion of an afterlife. But I do like to sometimes think about Luna taking her place among those I have lost over the years, mostly human friends and family. The visualization is of them all standing and waiting patiently, a little black cat in front of the much taller people. I also take comfort in the Rainbow Bridge, and in the community of cat bloggers who have loved and lost over these many years.
I do not expect that the grief will ever disappear entirely. And that’s ok. We continue.
One of our CatSynth TV episodes this week featured a close-up demonstration of the Wicks Looper by Rarebeasts, a tiny musical instrument that can make beats, loops, and all sorts of noises. We also added a Korg Delay Monotron for filtering and delay effects in the last portion of the demo.
The Wicks Looper is a fun instrument that I have used in several live performances, though less so lately. Its audio jack is a bit fussy at times, but as long as I remember I know how to make it work reliably. Both it and the Monotron should see more use again this year as I plan out new ideas for solo performances. And we still love that cat logo that looks so much like our dear Luna. But there is also a (non-black) Luna who lives with the human who created the instrument, a fact involved in our discovering it in the first place.
Rarebeasts has moved on to newer custom electronic instruments that are quite sculptural in nature. You can see their work at their Etsy shop.
I don’t have many memorable dreams these days. But when I do, they usually occur in the late morning hours – far past what many people would consider a reasonable time to wake up – and they are more often than not rather tense and stressful. This morning was no exception.
The majority of the dream took place at Westorchard Elementary School in Chappaqua, New York. This is my elementary school where I spend many of my early years. But I was my 2017 self, a grown professional woman. I had some sort of teaching gig there, though not a full-time one with a fixed classroom. I have no idea what I taught. The students were mostly absent from the dream, except as occasional props in other teachers’ classrooms, visible behind glass walls (the real-life school did not have glass walls in classrooms). I was mostly wandering around the Byzantine hallways between the different modernist wings of the school (that part is accurate), But in the dream there was an even larger labyrinth of utilitarian hallways, lounges, fitness centers, and conference rooms, that were exclusively for staff that as far as I know did not exist in real life.
During the course of the dream, I seemed to randomly shuttle back and forth to New York City at all sorts off times of the day, with lots of moments on subways, buses, and in impossible buildings. It also seemed like I would camp late nights at the school, with a bag of clothing and other living stuff in my small office.
And there were cats. Lots of cats. Most notably, Luna was part of the dream. Sam Sam was known, but not present. Indeed, the main action of the dream, and what made it so stressful, was the fact that seemed to be constantly bringing Luna with me to school, and she kept getting lost. So much of the time wandering the real and fictitious halls of the school were spent trying frantically to find a small black cat. A task that was made harder by the fact that there seemed to be many cats wandering around. I scooped up one cream colored cat, made friends, and then proceeded to lose her as well. I would sometimes espy a brown or black cat, only to conclude that it wasn’t Luna, and then a few moments later see the purple collar and pink pendant, turn her around and look into her emerald eyes. I’d grab her squirming body, give her a big hug, and then a few minutes later proceed to lose her again. I sometimes got distracted by the architecture in New York – one long detour in the city had me scrambling to find an elevator from the top floor – and some of the apparent remodeling in the school. One floor between two classrooms in Wings D and E was removed to make an open double-story loft-like space. One auxiliary staircase was at first dark and with vinyl flooring from the actual school but later was brightly lit with white marble stairs. I think this was the moment I figured out this was a dream, and it didn’t last much longer than that. But not before one more frantic moment locating Luna, grabbing her and shouting out to my colleagues for a bag.
I am not one for broad metaphors, but I do like to oversee and analyze the details of things, and this dream has a lot to unpack. It was beautiful even while it was anxious – in that way, it was like many films that I enjoy. Luna’s presence is the easiest to assess. I have had several such dreams about her over the years, some before her cancer diagnosis. The earlier ones were fear and anxiety of loss – that was a part of this dream as well – but now there is also unprocessed grief. As for the many other cats…well, I do love cats.
The school setting is interesting. It’s not unusual for past schools to appear in dreams. But this one was unique, in that was returning as a teacher. Most often, I am an adult, but for some reason having to go back and repeat a grade (usually some bureaucratic technicality). Those dreams were usually humiliating. This time there wasn’t any such humiliation, and my interactions were with the teachers and staff as peers. Also, I was my 2017 self, as opposed to a very different past self as a younger adult that almost always appeared in such dreams. It’s quite a relief to be myself in the dream, even if it was a weird and stressful one.
Why Westorchard in particular? That’s hard to say, though I know I have looked at it on Google Maps several times of late. The architecture and layout of that school were quite interesting. It was a daily exposure to a particular type of modernism. Architecture and space are an important part of my dreams, as they are in waking life. The dream architecture can be impossible at times and transcend space.
And New York just looms large in my life.
It’s been a year since Luna passed away. And so today we mark her yahrzeit, or anniversary of death. Over the past year, the grieving process has continued in its complicated and chaotic pattern, sometimes raw and at the surface, sometimes just a fond memory now tinged with melancholy. Perhaps if one plots the grief over the course of a year. it will trend downwards, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of deep loss and sadness.
We began observing the yahrzeit at sundown yesterday. After repeated heatwaves and the worst fires and air quality that I have experienced in California, the skies and air suddenly became chilly, crisp, and damp, signaling the real arrival of autumn. The palpable chill in the air brought memories of Luna’s last week back into focus and set the tone for the evening. We switched on the memorial candle – I only use electrical candles for this purpose. A glass or two of red wine, some comfort food, and David Bowie on the stereo. The songs “Dollar Days” from Blackstar and “Prettiest Star” from Alladin Sane are particularly tied to Luna’s passing, along with the chill.
Sam Sam seemed to sense my state – exacerbated by an unusually stressful workday on top of everything else – and provided a lot of extra comfort last night, breaking her night-time wanderings around HQ to come and lay on my chest and purr. She does this most days, but not as long or as deep. Indeed, her presence has been a great source of love and comfort as I continue to move forward. I will always miss Luna, but my current and future cats need me in the present.
It’s been 11 years since we started CatSynth on a bit of a lark, and since then it has grown into something that we treasure, and quite seriously. But not too seriously. As always, we mark the annual milestone with a few stats.
4.47 Comments Per Post
1202 Cat-and-synth pics
474 Reviews and related posts
Comments and interaction on the blog has continued to decline (from an average of 4.7 to 4.47 comments per post). This is not surprising as interaction has largely moved to social media platforms.
Our most visited post this last year was our Sad Farewell to Luna, both on the blog itself and on social media. This, too, is not surprising, and we continue to be very grateful for the outpouring of emotional support we have received.
Other individual posts that were widely read and shared including our explainer on Lake Oroville, our review of James Chance and the Contortions in San Francisco, and of course our annual NAMM coverage.
Every year we share the photo that started it all on July 19, 2006. It featured Luna in the beanbag chair along with a Novation keyboard. We feel its still appropriate for this day.
We continue to grieve for Luna, but we also welcome Sam Sam who we hope with be with us and featured on these pages for years to come.