Daytime Job of a Cat

More rainy days. The summer of 2021 is already the wettest summer ever recorded in this part of the world. And it looks like it’s also one of the coolest. It makes me think about all the heatwaves in the previous summers and the ice cream we enjoyed in the garden. What is going wrong with the weather lately? All these extreme changes in weather conditions…

I’m spending more time in the studio because of all the heavy rainfall. Sir Jimi, the studio technician, keeps me company but always falls asleep on the job, just like my previous technician, Mr. Bowie. But there’s one big difference; Jimi stays in the studio while Mr. Bowie always left the building due to his ear problems and the effect of very high-frequency sounds of synths. Or maybe he just didn’t like my music.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Snow On a Tuesday

And you may ask yourself, “Where is that beautiful spring?” Last week I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I was drinking coffee outside in the garden. Today I’m wearing winter clothes. It’s cold. It’s snowing. O Spring where art thou?

Jimi keeps checking out all the special places in the garden, just like Mr. Bowie did. While walking on this high gabion wall he can spy on the neighbours.

Meanwhile, I declared war on those pesky blackbirds. Each morning, they keep destroying our catnip plantation. Jimi’s also kind of in a foul mood. We need to take some action asap…

A few days ago I came across this remarkable phenomena of nature. This tree fungus is called Tonderzwam Fomes fomentarius. According to a specialised website this is lethal for the birch in a long term. I’m always enjoying my daily walks in the nature. There are always new things to discover. While walking is the most underrated form of exercise, it improves fitness, cardiac health, alleviates depression and fatigue, improves mood, creates less stress on joints and reduces pain. And when you get back home there’s always chocolate and an espresso waiting for you…

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

One Fine Day

Letting the days go by. It’s been a while since a wrote a post. I’m still busy with getting everything about my Dad’s passing officially in order. I was shocked to see all those papers required by the government. But it seems I’m almost at the end of an unpleasant task.

Last week I had one, no, a few fine days. I watched the latest Spike Lee film, David Byrne’s American Utopia, a concert film from a critically acclaimed Broadway performance. The film includes several songs from Talking Heads and David Byrne’s solo career. David Byrne is joined by 11 musicians, singers and dancers from around the globe. I also enjoyed the brief monologues from David Byrne when he addresses various sociopolitical topics from police brutality, immigration and climate change. After watching a few songs you want to jump up, dance and sing with the musicians on your TV. This concert film makes me feel good, every time. David Byrne’s American Utopia calls on all of us to think, connect and dance. The musical masterpiece is thought provoking and gives us exactly what we need today. Something to celebrate life.

And you may ask yourself, “Where is that beautiful cat?” Well, Jimi’s doing fine and enjoys his walks in the garden. Last year he always seemed to be anxious outside. But recently, it seems he got used to the environment. And I love the moments in the morning, when he jumps up the table and asks to play with him.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Flore

How to warm you up on cold winter days. After a few days of hesitation, Jimi decided it was time to go outside and check out the garden covered in snow. Much to my surprise, he was enjoying his walks and soon he was following the tracks of the sparrows and blackbirds in the snow. As you probably know, I don’t like the winter but I do enjoy my daily walks in the snow.

Thank goodness I found a good recipe for these cold days. I just bought the latest CD from Gabriel Rios, ‘Flore’. Gabriel Rios (born 1978 in San Juan, Puerto Rico) is a Puerto Rican-Belgian singer songwriter currently residing in Belgium and New York. It’s his 5th studio album and a pecan to the music of Latin America and the Caribbean. It’s a Latin album made in isolation and exile, not only because it was birthed during last year’s pandemic, but because it finds Rios looking back from afar, maybe for the first time, to what remains of his past and his roots. More specifically, these are songs that go back to both his father and grandfather’s youth; songs they would have loved to hear him sing. Feel free to check out this warm album of a great musician. (Info from Sony Music)

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

A New Routine

‘What if I fall? Oh but my darling: what if you fly?’ – Erin Hanson

Life goes on. I feel that I am ready picking up where we left off then. My Dad passed away about a month ago. We had an intimate ceremony with only 15 people, due to the Covid-19 measures. But I received a lot of messages, phone calls, postcards of people paying respect to my Dad. He was loved by so many people… I still feel an emptiness in my life without him. And pain. Sorrow… But life goes on as normal, but quieter and greyer than usual.

I want to thank you with all my heart. All your heartwarming comments made me feel better and helped me get through these empty and sad days. I sincerely apologise for not replying to your comments. I guess I also missed some of your posts on your blogs. But I will try to catch up…

Jimi helped me to get through the dark days of January. Every day he took a few minutes to sit down by the photograph of my Dad. It made me feel good. But one day, Jimi was very disappointed because there were only vegetables and no shrimps (for him) on my sandwich.

There were also some good days last month. After waiting for 3 months, finally, a big box arrived from the U.S. of A. containing a Sequential Prophet-5 synthesizer. Just like I mentioned in an older post about the ARP 2600 synth, the Prophet-5 synth was also very high on my bucket list and I didn’t expect to get one. Sequential introduced new versions of the old model in 2020. The Prophet-5 is an analog synthesizer designed in 1978 by Dave Smith and John Bowen and was the first fully programmable polyphonic synthesizer.

So yes, life goes on, it’s a cliché and it sounds trite. I will find a new routine and get used to it. But it will take some time. Please stay safe and healthy.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

‘Count your blessings. And if life is difficult, count them louder.’ – Roger Scruton

Ice Ice Jimi

Looking for ice cream. A cat making eye contact can mean anything from “You don’t exist to me” to “I want food, human!”. What is the most intelligent way of responding to a cat who won’t stop giving you the mean Clint ‘Dirty Harry’ Eastwood stare? What is the best way to look confident and relaxed? Saying “no” is one thing, but getting the cat to listen is another. Just give your cat what he wants… and join him for ice cream. Even if it’s a dark and winter day.

I feel the ice cream move under my paws
I feel the sky tumbling down
I feel my heart start to trembling
Whenever ice cream’s around

“I Feel the Earth Move” – Carole King

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

A Big, Big Box

Another odyssey. I went to Antwerp to pick up a big, very big box that contained an ARP 2600 synthesizer. Finally, after waiting for 8 months the synth arrived.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Jimi’s Odyssey, the ARP 2600 was the last synth on my bucket list I really wanted to have in my studio set-up. The ARP 2600 is a semi-modular analog subtractive audio synthesizer, designed by Dennis Colin for Alan R Pearlman, and manufactured by his company, ARP Instruments, Inc. in 1972. Unfortunately, the company was declared bankruptcy in May 1981. In 2015, some ARP instruments were revived by Korg. On January 10, 2020, Korg Inc. of Japan reissued a one-time-only limited production run of the ARP 2600 as the ARP 2600 FS, a faithful reproduction of the original 1972 gray version. With a little luck and a lot of patience I was able to buy one.

Jimi (and especially his shadow) seemed to be interested in the big flight case that came with the synth. Maybe he can use it to build a fortified castle. It looks like we both will have a lot of fun the next days…

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

PS: I hate hate hate the new WP Block editor!

This Is Not My Beautiful House!

Jimi’s check-up visit. Medical care is as essential for your cat as it is for you. It’s a good idea to get a checkup for your cat once a year. Jimi was due for his first annual checkup today. All went well. Jimi is in top condition – though the vet told me I got to keep an eye on his weight.

For many cats, a veterinary visit is a stressful experience. Mr. Bowie was always relaxed and enjoyed the car rides. But Jimi was so stressed, the poor boy. He was so happy to be back home.

And you may find yourself
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

“Once In A Lifetime” – Talking Heads

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Lifeline

A way of getting help. Jimi throws me a lifeline to save me from these troubled times. He wants my company for a nap in the afternoon. So live and let live in love.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

SETI Part 2

Jimi’s preliminary conclusion. Only about 0.0000000000000000000042 percent of the universe contains any matter. The universe is a pretty empty place! Empty like the little pot of yoghurt from the human…

Planet Earth is blue. And there’s nothing I can do.

“Space Oddity” – David Bowie

 

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Jimi’s Odyssey

New toys! I had a secret “bucket list” for buying synthesizers I really wanted. Recently I could finish off the list with placing orders for the ARP 2600 and the ARP Odyssey. ARP Instruments, Inc. was an American manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, founded by Alan Robert Pearlman in 1969. Unfortunately, the company was declared bankruptcy in May 1981. In 2015, some ARP instruments were revived by Korg. 

The ARP Odyssey, an analog synthesizer introduced in 1972, arrived today at my home. There were several versions of the Odyssey over the years, and it was reissued by Korg in early 2015, in cooperation with the original designer and ARP co-founder, David Friend. As always, Jimi was very interested to see what was in the box. But he preferred to go for a walk outside in the garden and to the bedroom for a nap afterwards.

And introducing in the photograph, the new guardian of my electronic devices, a retro tin robot from a Berlin shop. I call him Metal Pete, in analogy to the classic John Foxx song ‘Metal Beat’ from his legendary 1980 album ‘Metamatic’. Metal Pete is very terrifying, he doesn’t feel anything, especially not mercy. It looks like nothing can stop Pete, except rust, perhaps.

Meanwhile, Jimi was grounded for a long time. He found several ways to break out of the garden (via espaliers, the roof of my pavilion, and various trees). The cat-friendly fence doesn’t seems to be working for him. Jimi managed to get back in my garden after wandering around in the gardens of my neighbours. Unfortunately, one day I got a call from one of my neighbours. Jimi was stuck in their garden and I had to catch him quick because they have 2 dogs; one is a mean big dog, from the breed that likes to hunt terrorists. This is such a shame. Mr. Bowie never tried to get out of the garden in 10 years time and was happy with the area he had to wander around. It shows that all cats are different. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to explain this new situation to Jimi (the adventurer & acrobat) and he doesn’t seems to be happy after going outside for 5 weeks. It was so great spending time outside with Mr. Bowie all those years. I’m afraid it’s going to be very difficult and unpleasant to do this without Jimi.

Oh, stop whining, you human! There are worse things in life; like queues for food in democratic and civilised countries, recurring police brutality and crazy lying politicians all over the world. Snap out of it, get yourself another espresso and watch some clips of the amazing Sarah Cooper! It’s a mad world out there…

Update: I’m letting Jimi out again with a new strategy. He can go for a walk in the morning (around 7 AM) before he gets his breakfast. After a while he comes back inside because he’s hungry. The rest of the day he has to stay inside. He seems to accept the new situation. Thank goodness.

I want to thank you with all my heart. All your heartwarming comments in the Teared Up A Little Bit post made me feel better and helped me get through this empty and sad day. I sincerely apologise for not replying to your comments.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Watching the Detective

What’s up, Doc? Cats seems to sense when something is wrong. Jimi noticed strange sounding noises in the neighbourhood and went outside to check it out. It appeared to be my neighbours working in their vegetable garden so everything was safe. Thank goodness there were no idiots, even some morons carrying heavy armer, outside protesting against COVID-19 measures like in other parts of the world.

We’re almost 2 months in lockdown modus. Up to last week my family and friends were all safe and healthy. Unfortunately, recently some friends got sick due to the Corona virus. And an elderly couple in my circle of friends passed away both, in one week time. This is hard and confrontational.

That night, to my surprise, I heard a certain idiot in the U.S. of A. saying his country is doing great compared with some countries in Europe, especially Belgium. Well here are some other facts. Public healthcare in Belgium scores well thanks to its combination of health insurance and social security contributions. Belgium didn’t need to deploy a 1,000-bed hospital ship or set up field hospitals in parks or convention centers. Even during the highest peak almost 50% of the hospital beds with respiratory equipment in the COVID-19 IC units were still available. Why is Belgiums death toll so high? According to Belgian authorities, that’s because the country has chosen a reporting system that differs from pretty much every other country’s method of counting.

Okay, sorry for talking politics. Next post will be about cats and a dead fish. And now if you’ll excuse me, I need an espresso and chocolate. Stay safe and healthy!

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Delta Echo Foxtrot

What’s in the box? Yes! After searching for years to buy a vintage Roland RE-201 Space Echo I finally found one in absolute perfect, near mint condition. The RE-201 Space Echo is an iconic audio effects unit that produces delay and reverb effects and inspired a generation of musicians. It was produced by the Roland Corporation from 1974 to 1990. I used to own one decades ago but sold the unit to buy a digital delay and reverb. Nowadays, a lot of musicians miss the real analog, moody, warm, gritty and unique sound of the Space Echo and they call it “the holy grail piece of equipment”.

I’m so happy that I found this iconic Roland Space Echo at a company in Antwerp, specialised in pro audio equipment and instruments. Anyone with even a passing interest in music production must surely have heard of the Space Echo at some point. Even Jimi was very interested. So I’m a happy musician and Jimi is a happy cat.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Tough Times Part 3

Easter 2020. Well, this is the most weird Easter celebration of my life. All family celebrations and gatherings are canceled. We are now 4 weeks in lock down modus and everyone’s convinced the measures will be extended next week by the National Security Council. But hey, there are also some benefits: empty streets, no traffic jams, no chemtrails, the pandemic has cleaned the polluted skies.

I’m spending a lot of time in the studio during the day and in the evening I’m catching up some series and movies. I recently watched 10 seasons of Larry David’s ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. Larry David stars as a fictionalised version of himself in one of the funniest comedy series ever. He also created the television series ‘Seinfeld’, together with Jerry Seinfeld.

Today was a big disappointment. The Easter Bunny, a folkloric figure in this part of the world, didn’t show up to bring me chocolate Easter eggs. I don’t know if it’s related with the Covid-19 situation or Jimi who’s on guard in the garden. After staying inside for months he can now check out the garden. So far, he seems to like it out there and thank goodness, zero escape attempts.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Blue Cat

Feeling blue. Blue Cat Audio is a privately held company based in Paris (France). They develop audio software for musicians and audio professionals. They create real time audio processing plug-ins for computers. I’m using their plug-ins on a regular base. And they also sell beautiful t-shirts too…

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Unhappy Cat

Not at all happy about it! I sold a Roland synthesizer last week. There was nothing wrong with it but I wasn’t using it anymore. And I need space in the studio because I bought/ordered new (and exciting) equipment. I was happy to get a good price for the instrument.

Unfortunately, Jimi was very disappointed he couldn’t keep the original box. But don’t worry, my furry friend, you’re going to get a bigger box very soon…

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Any Way the Wind Blows

I’m very lucky. There are a lot of intersections in my neighbourhood where you can switch from one trail to another. I do this on a regular base so I can go from one beautiful spot to another. I love to walk in areas where there are rivers, canals, lakes…

 A few days ago I followed a trail on the Albert Canal. It passes an industrial area with big petrochemical plants. On the left side of the photograph you can see the new bridge. I wrote a post about it some time ago. Thank goodness you can also find a lot of windmills. But I switched very quickly to another trail and got back in the nature.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Left Alone

Let’s go for a walk! A friend told me recently the Department of Nature Conservation (re)opened a new hiking trail that follows the riverside of the river Grote Nete (aka Molse Nete). The hiking trail crosses a natural region where you can see a lot of different wildlife animals. That’s a bonus for me because the trail is only a few km away from my house.

 

Last week I went walking for hours on this trail and I had a great time. I had a lot of encounters with all kinds of animals. I also met this strange dude. It’s a sculpture made by a retired stone carver.

Pleased to meet you!

 

Coming back home I saw that Jimi was very disappointed he had to stay at home. Well, if you were a dog you could join me for these long walks, my furry friend.

   

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Steppin’ Out

Jimi’s first days out. I let Jimi outside in the garden a few days ago. The first time he was very cautious but the second day he was climbing into all the espaliers trees. And that’s a big problem… If he reaches the top of the trees, it’s rather easy to jump on the roof of my neighbours garage. And then it’s very easy to get in their garden. But my neighbours got a big mean dog, one of the breed that loves to chase terrorists in dark tunnels… Mr. Bowie never climbed into a tree and the fence was high enough to keep him inside the garden. I’m not sure what I’m going to do in the future, keep Jimi inside or let him out again. I’m afraid that Jimi wants to discover the world on the other side of the fence after a while…

Meanwhile I received a photograph of 2 Maltese dogs who follow Jimi’s blog. I wonder if Jimi would love to play with his 2 new friends… 

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Jealous Guy

I’m clean. I have trouble falling asleep. I’m a very light sleeper. I just lie awake and worry. Over the last 10 years I tried so many different things. Yoga. Meditation. Walking and running. Herbal teas. I was constantly taking medication. Plain sleep medication. Tranquillisers. Anti-anxiety meds. Anti-depressants. I had good nights from time to time but I was also suffering from the side effects and nightmares. But today I’m clean! I started to reduce the medication this spring with succes. I stopped counting the days but I guess I’m clean for almost 3 months. I’m only drinking a herbal tea before I go to bed. And I feel fine.

You shall not pass!

 

That’s why I’m so jealous at cats and the way they sleep. They don’t worry about a hard, soft, warm or cold surface. Cats just lay down and fall asleep. Immediately. I wish I was a cat.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

The Spirit of Mr. Bowie

Adapting to a new environment. Adjusting to a new home is never easy, but who is to say that it’s impossible? Jimi’s adjusting quickly to his new home. It almost seems an invisible force guides him, as if the spirit of Mr. Bowie guides Jimi in his new forever home. Sometimes I notice an astonishing resemblance with Mr. Bowie, but on other moments he reacts completely different. Well, I guess we have to get used to each other.

Meanwhile Jimi likes to keep me company while I’m working in the studio. He seems to like my musical projects but I had to turn down the volume. In fact, Jimi can complete a traineeship for the job of studio technician. He’s very interested in all the wires and cables and maybe he can hit some hot jazz notes too!

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Theremin

Ghostly sound. I bought myself a theremin, a belated birthday present. A theremin is an electronically musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the player. The exact date of the theremin’s invention is unknown, historians place it somewhere between late 1919 and early 1920. It’s named after its inventor, Léon Theremin, who patented the device in 1928. The instrument has been used in movie soundtracks (such as Bernard Herrmann’s The Day the Earth Stood Still and recently Justin Hurwitz’s First Man), concert music, popular music, television and video games, (info Wikipedia). Feel free to check out some clips on YouTube.

I used a friend’s theremin years ago for a few musical and sound design projects. I never became a professional player but I loved using the device. Now it will be mostly used as decoration. As you know from previous posts, my house got a complete makeover. I created an industrial style living room and the theremin will look very good on the dresser.

Mr. Bowie was also very interested in the device. Or maybe he was only waiting to get into the box? Rock on, Mr. Bowie! Right now I’m working on an experimental electronic piece, maybe I can throw in some theremin sounds?

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding. 

Sea of Green

Goodbye winter, hello spring! Well, this post is not about SOG, a gardening method that cannabis growers use to grow the maximum number of plants possible in the shortest amount of time. This is about the fresh, new green colours I see in nature while I’m walking in the first days of spring.

Green is not my favourite colour (it’s grey and black) but I love all the new green colours of spring plants, first leaves and grass. Spring wakes me and I’m calm again, just like Gustav Mahler said.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

 

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