Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saving Perla

Heads-up. "Perla" is not a cat.

Perla is a marimba. I saw her on a Facebook swap-and-save page, posted as a xylophone. By her surroundings, I worried that she might find her way onto a curb or in someone's garage for kids to play with until she fell apart.

Why would I care about a marimba? Gordon and Christy have been long-time Owl House friends. We worked together to get their two gorgeous outdoor ferals fixed, and their two kittens rehomed. They then adopted two kittens from me. They are both well-known musicians, and Gordon is a world-renowned marimba player and composer; he's probably the only "world-renowned" person I shall ever know, so I enjoy saying it.

Therefore my tug of conscience to save this instrument. I sent the photo over to Gordon to see if the asking price (quite low if it turned out to be playable, but too much if it was trash) was worthwhile, and he was curious about it too, so off I went to a foreclosure-purchased house full of trash and treasure, to pick it up. I almost balked because A) it was much smaller in person than I expected and I wondered if it was even a "real" instrument and B) it was COVERED in spider egg-sacs. Needless to say I did not leave it in my car overnight and she spent the night on the porch. The next day I cleaned off the worst of the webs and brought her inside.

She was dusty, watermarked, and dried out. The bars (keys) had been strung with electrical wire instead of cord.

Christy and Gordon came over bearing pizza. Gordon gifted me with three pairs of mallets, and explained that this marimba was likely from Guatemala. He told me what to purchase to restring it, and luckily I had purchased an acceptable oil to clean it up (Lemon oil, no wax). He explained all the odd pieces and parts. There were nine posts (through which the cord passes to hold the bars up) that needed to be replaced, so he took them home to cut new ones. Good thing, as that's not something I would have been skilled enough to do.

So I cleaned. And cleaned. And look!

I'm still cleaning, oiling, and tightening and replacing screws for the frame. Christy tells me Gordon has completed the posts, but we are due for a huge snowstorm this weekend, so Perla will have to wait a bit to be re-assembled and re-strung. Then we'll get to hear what she sounds like! She will of course be off-pitch. The bars could be sent off to be tuned ($60 an octave), and perhaps I will some day. Basically I just wanted to save her from a possible junking, and it will be fun to learn to play a bit and have her in the house, so I probably won't invest in that. Then one day I'll likely give her to someone who expresses interest in owning her. She's too small for anyone serious about learning to play, but for a child learning percussion or someone who just wants her in the living room, as I do, she would be perfect.

I'll be sure to post more when she is playable.

Here is a link to a very cool info-graphic (in Spanish) on this type of marimba.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Two great cat-friends passed over this month

One of the saddest parts of doing rescue is a result of the best part of doing rescue--you have so many cats you call your friends, even if they now live with countless other people. So you also have more cats who pass over, than the average person.

A lot of adopters stay in touch as supporters and friends themselves. I get updates on our cats' lives. I learn when cats grow old. And I also learn when they pass on. I'm always so honored, and sad, when an adopter lets me know. When they contact me before they have to let their cat go, it's especially touching, because I know there is a part of them that feels like they need to not surprise me with a sudden drastic sadness, or they just want to share their decision beforehand, to verify in their heart it is the right one.

Two weeks ago, Holly lost Jack. Jack, also called Luther-Jack while he was here back when we were Wildrun, was a special kind of cat. He lived here in the house with me as he grew up. He was a kitten from the litter of Espie, an abandoned cat found up on the hill-road behind me, brought to me by neighbors who then also became my friends. Four of Espie's kittens developed kidney disease, and have recently passed away at ages 11-12. Espie's last kitten, Emmi, is currently living on the East Coast, and I have word that her kidneys are doing fine.

Holly called me the night before she was taking Jack in to the veterinarian for his last trip, and she shared all sorts of stories about his life. The most important of these was how he taught her grandkids to be loving and gentle with cats. He was a great friend to her, and she couldn't imagine being alone without him, and asked to come visit that weekend to see if she could provide a new cat here with a home.

Getting calls like this are always bittersweet for me. I never want to hear about a cat passing, but learning that the cat had a wonderful life with an incredible person, and that that cat made a difference in people's lives, makes all the time, money, and heartache spent in cat rescue worth it.

As an extra awesome note, Holly orders her supplies from Chewy. If you are a customer you may know they have exemplary customer service, and even send Christmas cards. Did you know they also sometimes send roses? They reached out to Holly when they learned of Jack's passing, and even reimbursed her last purchase for him.

Holly did visit, and took Sham (now Libby) home with her. More on Libby in another post!

A few days ago, we also learned that Tiger Tom, a cat who had been with us during our Wildrun days for over five years before he was adopted, and had been growing feeble for quite some time, was also no longer comfortable. Georg let me know via Messenger. It has been wonderful watching Tiger Tom's life on Georg's Facebook page. Tiger Tom gave us a tiny bit of internet fame when Life With Cats featured his adoption story on Petfinder 15th Birthday.

Tiger Tom had a quiet life of naps, snuggling, play, and lots of knitting yarn (I'm always impressed with knitters who also own cats. how do you keep the two apart?)

On Facebook, Georg wrote:

Today, Tiger Tom passed away. A piece of my heart that walked around outside my body is now gone.

Goodbye, Jack and Tiger Tom. Thank-you for bringing Holly, Georg and Jazz into my life, and thank-you to your people for letting me know when your story closed.