Thievery, my pity party and cat therapy

I have been feeling sorry for myself since I had my iPhone stolen right in front of me Monday afternoon. I fell victim to a distract, snatch & grab while treating my grandson to an ice cream. Sort of ruined my whole day and the joy of meeting with the police, calling phone provider to lock down the SIM and suspend my account, notifying my home contents insurer didn’t fill me with as much calmness as I needed. Oscar took it all in stride, stayed put when I went yelling out of the ice cream shop after the thief who disappeared like a puff of smoke. A nice family man ran ahead but couldn’t catch him. Maybe the CCTV footage will help identify this creep.

I remember decades ago when I was in a job doing out reach and my bosses wanted me to use a pager. Before cell phones, or mobile phones… that surely dates me. My first mobile phone years later was tiny and fit in the palm of my hand. No camera, no fancy apps, just made ringing home easier. Now I can’t live without this hand held technology. Like most of us who have our whole life on that iPhone. My memory for friend’s phone numbers is poor, yet I can still recall ID numbers for myself and my first husband. And the photos that I hadn’t yet downloaded to my home computer…. grrrrr. While chatting with the police they encouraged my grandson to take care of his grandma, of me. He chose that moment to confess that he gives his mama a hard time when she says no to stuff. Luckily they weren’t looking for confessions of 6 year old miscreants.

In the scheme of things this is a nightmare I would prefer to have never experienced. But as my daughter pointed out this kind of thievery is as old as time, just becoming a bit more sophisticated and slick. I won’t make the mistake of leaving my phone out in plain sight in future.

Calming measures were in order today so I played Beethoven, Mozart and other favorites on my piano. Black Jack came out to join me, Gypsy chose to stay in her favorite napping place. A nice cuppa at the farm cafe’ was a welcome diversion as well. There are many kind and loving folks at the farm to commiserate with my misfortune. But best of all was a walk through the farm with Black Jack and Gypsy Rose this evening. The air around the garden centre is filled with sweet smells of spring. The breeze blowing the tree branches, setting the wind chimes dancing and shadows cast by the street lights were magical. All in all life is much better with two cats in the yard.


Rhapsody in Blue with two hands and four paws

Piano playing relaxes me. I have an old, out of tune upright a friend gave me years ago from a house she had just bought. It was ‘smoked’ from years in a smoker’s household where it sat in a narrow hall between the kitchen and front door. From time to time I can smell the smoke that has permeated the dark wood and yellowed the keys. I have never bothered to get it tuned up to perfect pitch because it is just low enough for me to hit the high notes on some Broadway tunes. I love to play from collections of Carole King & Linda Ronstadt, singing my best impression of those two amazing women. Tapestry and Smack Water Jack, Blue Bayou and The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress. Remember Stone Pony? Linda was great! And what’s not to love about King’s Natural Woman. I am a child of the 60s and how I loved the Beatles. They came to the USA when I was thirteen and I was enthralled. Hey Jude, Michelle and Norwegian Wood spring to mind.

Music was a gift from my mother who had a lovely soprano voice and when she was a girl would charm her father’s customers in his garage down town. We were a family who sang, in church, on country drives, at the grange hall and in the evenings at home. Mom taught me to sing harmony by the time I was five to ‘In the Garden’ and ‘Ivory Palaces’ at  church. A family of 6, we filled a pew and sang 3 and 4 part harmonies to old hymns like ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ and ‘Amazing Grace.’ When I was 9 she insisted my father fund piano lessons, when I was 10 I began cello lessons and sang in school and church. My brother learned guitar and my sisters sang as well. My dad didn’t read music but he had an ear for it and as long as he stood next to the other basses he could carry a credible tune.

So my piano lessons paid off mostly because I understood the language and loved to sight read any and every thing I could. That didn’t bode well for the actual lessons because I barely practiced what was assigned for that week. And I was terrible at memorizing pieces for recitals always stumbling through in fits and starts. Then as my cello playing progressed I was drafted into the local community orchestra at the age of 12. My cello instructor gave me lessons in exchange for babysitting his young children. I played in the Junior and Senior High School orchestras, earning an award for Best Orchestra Student the year I graduated from LHS. I played in the Grande Ronde Symphony until I left home at 19 to study on the other side of the state. There was something magical about experiencing great music from inside a symphony. I loved every minute of it.

So this afternoon with the spring sun warming my back I sat at the piano and played jazz – Take 5 and Black CoffeeThen Gershwin, Andrew Lloyd Webber, movie themes – Out of Africa and Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – Close Every Door. Luckily my upstairs neighbor is okay with my time spent on my piano, I can hear him playing the ukulele from time to time.

Suddenly I found myself playing a duet with my cat Gypsy Rose, a Maine Coon cross. Starting at the top she ran down the keyboard over my hands and turned around a few times on the bass keys. I was laughing and tried to keep playing. Eighteen months old, she has only lived with me for three weeks. She has been getting used to life with Black Jack, my 7 year old black cat. I had forgotten life with a young cat can be so entertaining. She loves to race through the house, mess with my crochet yarns (while I am crocheting) and antagonize Black Jack. She has explored the tops of cupboards, under the bed, all the window sills, and the piano but the keyboard was shut, so my playing must have made her curious. I realize now I hadn’t sat down to play since before she moved in. So Rhapsody in Blue with two hands and four paws is quite exciting and a bit unusual. She is not a cuddly cat and only allows a bit of stroking before going off to explore, but when I stopped playing and gave her some attention we had an extra long session of smoothing and scratching behind the ears. We will see what tomorrow brings when I sit down for some Beethoven and Bach.


With two cats in the yard…

I love cats, I have always loved cats but my father was allergic. So I grew up with dogs.

  • Sir Angus Winkie a black Scottish Terrier who got into trouble chasing skunks and coming out smelling to high heaven
  • Honey Bun, a golden Sheltie was abandoned on the mountain pass and rescued by my older sister
  • Lukka, my brother’s Malamute who loved my infant nephew
  • Rowdy, a Norwegian Elk hound the only dog we got for Christmas, in a basket with a big red satin bow around his neck. Unfortunately he came to an untimely end
  • Frostie, the neighbors’ Samoyed who spent most days in our front yard
  • Blackie, a mutt who was banished after chewing the seat backs to my father’s kayak
  • Grande Ronde Chuchi Belle and her son, Rowdy Boy, my father’s Siberian Huskies who pulled snow sleds and howled at the curfew horn every night at 9.45pm
  • Barney, my sister’s rescue mutt who could change appearance depending on his newest hair cut, he loved joining the big dogs on their nightly singing
  • Mr Peabody, a Bearded Collie rescue dog – my best dog friend ever! He would try to herd the children in the cul-de-sac, and loved to steal the basket ball during games of HORSE in the driveway. He had the Beardie Bounce and loved to chase cats. We would start out the night with him on the floor by my bed but I would wake up with my legs pinned to the bed…

Each of these dogs has a story, but that is for another time. I loved every dog we had or shared, but something was always missing.

In 1999 I moved to England, a world away from home and finally could have a cat! Stella Luna was white with yellow eyes, she loved to play tag by coming up behind me and slapping my foot. Each hit and run a surprise as I would respond by turning around to chase her through the flat. I never laughed so much in my life as I did with Stella Luna. She could jump to the top of an open door, balancing there until I walked by or was trying to sleep, sneak attacks were her forte. She loved strawberries and sitting on top of the kitchen curtain rod. Living in the centre of London was amazing but not safe to let her out of my upstairs flat. I became known as that eccentric American who walked her white cat on a red halter to the local park on Whitecross Street, often meeting the local fox in the dusk. I had to leave her behind when I moved up north which broke my heart. I heard she became the darling of the folks who adopted her.

My first cat up north was a grey tabby who lived in the neighbors’ garden across from the Heeley City Farm. Gertrude Grimalkin  was partial to sleeping on my garden door step in the sun. Eventually she moved in and I couldn’t say no. She was feisty and stood her ground against much bigger cats. My upstairs neighbor complained that she was mean and bit him if he tried to pet her. Gertrude’s best cat friend was called Mog (with black & white tuxedo markings) by the staff in the Heeley City Farm Garden Centre. Mog was a wonky cat moving with a distinctive rolling gate because he was permanently disabled from being hit by a car.  He never let the injury slow him down and ruled over the garden centre for many years. One snowy winter when the garden centre closed for 2 weeks, I agreed to feed him. He moved in, retiring to my warm flat and never went back to work!

In the spring of 2010 I was offered a tiny kitten with huge ears. I couldn’t resist. Black Jack is from a long line of Leamington Spa cats, his grandfather was a massive black short hair. Black Jack quickly grew into his ears and is seven years old now, solid black with bits of silver starting to show through and one white whisker. When Black Jack was about 4, I was given a gorgeous 4 year old black & white Maine Coon I called Peggy Sue. She was a force of nature who took over bossing both Mog and Black Jack, and me for that matter. Living across from the city farm she became a fixture of the Cafe’ and play ground. Evenings after work I would walk through the farm with Black Jack, Mog and Peggy Sue. She loved the school children and showing off her amazing fluffy tail to admirers of all ages. Knocking on the glass doors of the cafe’ was her way of reminding me to come home, making people laugh at her unusual antics. Sadly she was killed by a hit and run driver one morning three years ago, most shocking because it happened during the school run in our dead end street. She was mourned by everyone who knew her. Most especially my grandson who adored her. Not long after we lost Peggy Sue, Mog succumbed to cancer and so our household dwindled.

Three weeks ago we welcomed 18 month old Gypsy Rose, a Maine Coon/black short hair mix to our home.  She already out weighs Black Jack and is giving him a run for his money. My grandson says she is half Peggy Sue and half Black Jack. Unlike Peggy Sue, Gypsy Rose lets him pet her. If you know anything about a Maine Coon you know they do not like to be picked up or held. My grandson complained she hurt his feelings because she would growl a warning to not touch. I never picked up Peggy Sue for long before she would begin a low rumbling growl. Gypsy Rose has that same trait and will be a challenge when it comes time to comb out the tangles. So now I have two cats in the yard…. life used to be so hard