Thursday, August 06, 2009
Monday, April 06, 2009
Miccio the Cat, 1998–2009
My oldest cat died this weekend. Miccio was almost 11 years old, not old for a cat. For those of us that knew him, we remember him as a rather large presence, a proverbial fat cat. And he was fat, weighing in at approximately 22 lbs. for most of his adult life. But Miccio was more than that.
He was my first cat. Adopted from a neighbor when he was little more than 6 months, he came to us in a cardboard box with a blanket. His name is a anglicization of the Italian slang for calling a cat (“Mish, mish”). He was shy at first, then proceeded through the new kitten routine of checking out the house. That was 2 houses ago for us. He was very feisty in his youth, happily chasing after the red dot. At one point, he even was horizontal on the wall, parallel to the floor, and one and a half times his height high on the wall chasing the red dot of the laser pointer. He hid, he sulked, he knocked his water over. He played, suffered indignities (Santa hat on his head for one of our early Christmas cards,) and lazed happily on my lap when I came home from work.
When Miccio was five, he was rewarded for his loyalty and fealty with a younger sister, my beloved familiar Lucy. He suffered her quietly, and occasionally engaged her in her kitten games. At one point, perhaps out of frustration, the much larger Miccio sat on kitten Lucy in an effort to show her who was Alpha. All that could be seen of Lucy under Miccio's girth was her kitten head poking out from underneath him.
Miccio was always a very well behaved cat. Apart from a few minor incidents over the years, he was very respectful of his keepers, never annoying, and extremely tolerant of my young daughter's (and later my son's) playfulness.
When we moved from our last house to our current, it seemed that Miccio didn't want to go. In one of my dumber moves, I thought Lucy should arrive to our new house first and alone, so that it could be hers first, and Miccio's second. By the time the rush of the move was ready for Miccio to join us, he was nowhere to be found. The new owners assured us that they had seen him and allowed us to keep coming back for a week to catch him and bring him home. Finally, he was lured out of hiding with a can of tuna and my very patient (and very upset) wife.
Miccio was better at coping with the addition of our new kittens this past Christmas than his younger sister Lucy was. However, he took to spending his days in seclusion more than ever. In his final days, we only saw him in the morning and at night. On his last night, the ever faithful Lucy spent some time with him, snuggled up beside him in the hall closet, sensing the finality I am quite sure. And on his final morning, he seemed to be taking a tour of things he'd never forget, pausing at my drumset in the basement, looking at the windowsill he favored in warmer weather.
When it was finally time, at the vet’s office, I stroked him and spoke to him honestly. I sensed that he knew, and he was ready to go. Miccio passed quickly, and for that I'm glad. He will be remembered always, and I love him dearly.
Goodbye Miccio. Have fun in Cat heaven.
Monday, January 19, 2009
The Tale of the Attacking Squirrel.
It was the coldest day yet, of the brand new year. For a few days, the cats had been sniffing around and pawing at the fireplace, but since the kids toys were sort of piled in front of it, and we hadn’t used it since Christmas, I kind of figured it was a large spider (we often find cobwebs in the firebox). Then my wife said “I think there’s something else in there.” I got a flashlight and peered through the blackened glass of the fire doors. There I spied the fluffy tail of an Eastern Grey Squirrel. Further flashlight assisted inspection revealed this was no trifle of a beast, but a mammoth specimen, easily three pounds–he was a foot and a half if he was six inches!
A plan was soon hatched — my wife blockaded the immediate area of the fireplace with crib mattresses, blankets, and laundry baskets. The kids herded the cats and kittens into bedrooms, while I crafted a box.
This was no old shoe box, no discarded consumables crate! This was a carefully cut and duck-taped, maximum efficiency trapping and containing beastie-box. I even fashioned a quick closing flap, so that once the creature was within, I could easily slam the gate down and capture him. I spread a generous dollop of peanut butter at the very back of the box, placed it into the fireplace, and quickly closed the fire doors.
Soon, the wiley rodent began sniffing about the box in earnest, but to my chagrin, he was sniffing at the wrong end! He started pawing and scraping the taped end of the box in an effort to pry that which he sought from the confines of the beastie-box. How odd, that he wouldn’t explore further and find his path open to him. In frustration, I believed I could, with small effort, reach in the enclosed firebox, turn the box around and push it towards the squirrel so that he would be forced within. I reasoned it wouldn’t be such a bad trade-off for the animal–he’d have the peanut butter after all.
As I attempted my advance, the cornered beast leapt from the firebox into the open, over my crouched form, over the mattress/blanket blockade, into the family room! It was an impressive jump, to say the least, easily 6 feet long and 4 feet high from a stationary crouch! After the surprised effeminate cry left my lips, the chase was on!
I started the hunt in the family room. He quickly turned and sprinted past me into the kitchen, skirting the counters and plunging into the powder room. “Aha,” I thought, the squirrel was cornered at last. The powder room in question is a tiny 4 foot by 6 foot box–barely enough room for the intended task. If I could just close the door, I would have him trapped! I’d deal with how to get him out of there afterwards. I approached the powder room cautiously. To close the door, I had to reach within the room and pull the door outwards to fasten it. Since there is a sink and most of the toilet in the way, I figured I had half a chance of success, as the beast was probably inside in the furthest corner.
As I crept towards the door handle, I saw my prey, cowering in a corner. A preemptory grin spread across my face, when suddenly, without warning, the squirrel launched itself into a whirling dervish of squirrel-flesh and careened off the walls in a sprint-bounce combination. And leapt once again, over my startled head. And I was standing up.
Soon, my wife entered the melee, as we circled and double-backed through the first floor of the house.
Eventually, we managed to “contain” the squirrel into the family room by blocking the doorways on either side. I opened two casement windows, and the back door. I could now encourage the creature outside.
It took longer than expected, with me in welding gloves, wielding a small quilt like the cape of a matador, trying to scare the beastie towards the cold cold freedom. I don’t believe the squirrel wanted to go outside. I didn’t want to go outside. I didn’t even want to be in the family room, as I could now see my breath frosting in front of me.
Again and again, the animal slipped past me and avoided the egress of the windows and door. At one point, in a Tom-and-Jerry inspired moment, the squirrel ran over the piano, causing the quick glissando of cartoon fame. Finally, it slipped quietly out the back door. I just barely saw the fluff of the tail sprinting over the threshold. I sensed the squirrel acquiesced, choosing the normalcy of a relatively calm, if cold, rodent life over the warmth and comfort, albeit harried and persecuted life of an out-of-place indoor squirrel.
As I shut the door and the windows, I inspected to make absolute sure it was indeed gone. I retired to the living room/office, flopped on the couch, and announced my victory so the family could come out again. Once I had rested, I picked up my flashlight and determined to inspect the chimney to assuage my doubts regarding the breach of my sanctum. I lay on my back, scurried into the firebox and looked up into the chimney with my flashlight. Right into the eyes of a second Eastern Grey Squirrel.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I’ve been going to the House of Guitars Expo’s for a number of years now. One of the company reps who’s always there is the guy from Shure. I've bought a number of ’mics from him in the past (very good deals on EXPO days,) and he mentioned to me that Shure has a great warranty program. I inquired further, as I had a non-functional SM57 that was who knows how old. He told me to check the website, but he believed it was about $50 for “repair”. I found the online form, filled it out, and sent it in, hoping for the best. I saw the charge hit my credit card yesterday - $59.40. When I got home, I had this sitting on my doorstep (in a very well packed box). It's a brand-freaking new-SM57. For $59.40! I had more than gotten the cost back in the old one from years of use, and I’m sure I bought it used. This is such an amazing deal! Propers to Shure, Inc.!
I read this on the Consumerist this morning. I have to agree, it’s more than awful. I think the product might be useful, but what a horrible choice for the music. It’s as if suddenly, everyone decides to sing and write their lives as showtunes. Eek.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Jerome Flood is one of the best “unknown” drummers I have the great pleasure to know. And he just won Guitar Center’s Drum Off 2008.
I met Jerome 3 years ago the first time I was a judge for the Drum Off at my local Guitar Center. He won that year, and the next as well. So I hope in some way I and my fellow 2 judges helped to inspire him on to keep playing until he got there.
You got there Jerome, and you rock! Now you need a Di Pietro Drum. Seriously dude, you’re loaded now. Come get one. Call me, or email me. Throw me a bone!