“So remember, every picture tells a story, don’t it?”
Lyrics to “Every Picture Tells a Story” by Rod Stewart/Ron Wood
I’ve come to learn to live in the moment much more these days, but sometimes memories overshadow the present, taking me back to where I was a year ago, and sometimes to many years gone by. It’s fun to reminisce with a good story, but sometimes, sharing photos is all that’s needed. Enjoy…
There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.
During my bout with cancer and its harsh treatments, two lifelines that got me through those painful and scary days and nights were my cat and my radio. I’ve been enamored with the radio since childhood, recalling like yesterday getting a bright blue transistor radio for my 10th birthday, and in my early teens, Grandpa Knudsen introducing me to a disc jockey at KGY radio station in Olympia, Washington, who showed me the intriguing electronics behind the music, and gave me an Elvin Bishop album. And as a young adult, I wanted to get into radio broadcasting, but that dream got lost in life’s demands and obligations.
I mostly turn on my radio to listen to KX FM, Laguna’s very own radio station. During those dark days of cancer, listening to the station’s shows spanning genres from bluegrass to alternative rock with my adorable cat companion, brawny Bobcat glued to my side was comforting.
Bobcat passed away two weeks before my cancer surgery. Convalescing without my cat pal brought a new level of misery to my situation. Listening to songs and behind-the-music stories told by radio hosts helped me to escape, but coping was much more difficult without a cat. After three months of mourning, I adopted Samantha Jo from the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter on April 2, 2021; just in time see me through my last chemo treatment and seven weeks of radiation. For the past year, we’ve been helping each other heal, as she came to me recovering from bladder stone surgery, which she had to undergo after being relinquished to the shelter.
A lot has changed since April of 2021. Back then, Samantha was skeptical of me; she was guarded and offered only intermittent affection. Today, she lounges on my desk as I work, prances along with me when I dance around the house, and snuggles next to me at night while I sleep.
When Samantha is anxious and fearful because of the noises made by blustery wind or crows hopping around on the roof, I ask Alexa to play “Calm my Cat” and the lullaby melodies put Samantha at ease. Music’s calming effects aren’t limited to just the human species.
Last spring it seemed I’d never feel good again. I was wishing for my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes to make their come-back, and I was wondering if I’d ever fit into my skinny jeans again, which were still baggy from so much weight loss.
What a difference time can make. After pulling through the agony of illness and loss with a little help from my radio and a sweet-faced kitty by my side, my long-lost dream came true. Two weeks ago, with styled short hair and wearing those skinny jeans that I can now barely zip, I co-hosted one of my favorite radio shows on KX FM, The Coast Highway Shuffle. For two hours, host Steve Reid played songs that I selected as we bantered about the powerful impact that music has on our lives.
And I couldn’t let living my dream slip by without playing a song about a cat. As “Tomcat”, a ditty about an old ring tailed tomcat who struts around town resounded in my headphones, my heart swelled with joy.
Music and cats. What a purrrfect way to rejoice!
If you missed the radio show, you can listen to the podcast! Listen to “Tomcat” by The Rooftop singers along with my entire playlist on: The Coast Highway Shuffle!
My hair, while growing out from falling out thanks to chemotherapy had recently come to an awkward stage. The look went from sassy pixie to a mix of Dennis the Menace meets a short version of Farrah Fawcett’s iconic feathered “wings” only my wings looked like they could take me places. Enough of hair sticking up at the top of my head and flipping up on the sides—hello bandana! Last spring I wore bandanas because I had no hair. Today, I wear them to hide my crazy hairdo—and I couldn’t be happier. I have my hair and my health back.
An easy fix for unruly hair! Note: the sunflower painting in the background was painted by my talented mom!
Samantha Jo has given me cause to smile these days as well. She has eased into a more relaxed and joyful state of being. She still get’s a little cra-cra when she hears the rats at night scurrying across the roof or blustering wind, but she calms down so much quicker and finds solace by my side more often than inside an empty Amazon delivery box.
Samantha has taken to this vintage basket where she often sits while I work.
My feline counterpart is also going through an awkward hairdo stage, which in part has brought us closer. Her luscious ginger locks have become quite matted despite daily brushings. I’m in the process of de-matting her fur myself, which takes lots of patience on my part, and lots of trust on hers. Samantha enjoys being brushed, but I’ve had to carefully detangle and at times very carefully cut matted fur patches. I’ve successfully de-matted under her chin, on her chest and a few spots on her sides. With Samantha’s diminished anxiety, I hate to shake things up by taking her back to the vet for grooming; and she actually enjoys our detangling sessions. I play classical or meditation music and start by gently combing the top of her head, which she loves. Then she rolls onto her back and stretches out her front legs up over her head making herself look like the letter “Y”. I gently scratch under each front leg as though I’m tickling under the arms of a human, all the while telling her how special she is and how much I love her. Then I start picking away at the tangles—cutting them if she gets really relaxed and if I can easily see the fur from the skin.
Recommend tunes to sooth cats and us cat parents!
Samantha Jo with some bald patches and me with unruly winged hair have become quite the pair.
Only I can see her skin patches, her luxurious fur hides them well.
Sidebar: I’ve tamed my post-chemo crazy hair with amazing “hairwash”, conditioner and a crème texturizer by Innersense purchased at ROOTS the Beauty Underground in Laguna Beach, which sells only organic toxic-free products. I stopped into Roots a few days ago and was greeted by shop owner, Laura, who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. She made me a cup of tea and we caught up, talked about my chemo hair, and she recommended the Innersense products that I ended up buying, and they have made my hair look and feel amazing. As far as the bandana goes—it’s kind of a cool look and I will continue wearing it, only now to add flair to my fashion.