Banjo, resurrected

Yesterday my cat of 17 years had a stroke, and we had to have her euthanized.scooter2scooter1

Scooter was a quiet kitty for most of her life.  Having been orphaned as a kitten and bottle-fed by human attendants, she was quite content to lay back in your arms and let you rub her belly.  She would reach out and, with great deftness, pull your hand to her head without using her claws.  She would hide from strangers, and isolate herself when we were out of town for a few days.  Sometimes I would have to go find her, and extricate her from her hideaway – she seemed despondent when people weren’t around.

So we were.  We were around, and I even considered taking her to London with me

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Getting in the suitcase.

when I had that assignment for work.  In the end, I left her here with friends for a year or so.  She adapted, albeit through seclusion, to her changed life, and we were glad to be reunited with her upon our return.

Scooter, in her last weeks, became demanding – meowing loudly every morning for attention and treats, and had taken to climbing up into our bed at night and sleeping by my face, despite the presence of the poodle at our feet.  She even, willingly, ventured outdoors for the first time in her life last week – 17 years of contentedness indoors with never an attempted escape.  She seemed, in retrospect, to have her own bucket list.

In the end, our beautiful rescued kitty expired after suffering a stroke yesterday.  She

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Classic – reading, interrupted.

was reduced to limping with one leg completely compromised, and unable to eat, and, I think, having significant pain.  The doctor made sure it was swift.  We cried.

I’m adding some photos here from the last couple of years.  And, reflecting on this quite natural and devastating event, I was reminded of a poem I wrote years ago for a different kitten we had rescued.  One we named ‘Banjo’.

I hope you enjoy, even if it brings a tear or two.

The bottom of the ninth

For Banjo

Paused with paws outstretched
The nape pulled back in a nursing grip
Teeth and gums in unwilling expression
Of the end of it all

I look into Banjo’s one-year-old eyes
Deep orange, dark iris and staring forward
And pray for the light to come to him
His now strained body tensing

For what, who knows but a cat
Soon will, cashing in his cache
Of lives, I, the sudden minister of lives
Signing the deed

And Banjo, our poor Banjo,
Whose heart and swollen throat
Strummed still in his last moments
Wasted swiftly by disease

More swiftly still he soared
As new fluids rushed to quell
The pain, the fear, the life
Right out of him.

His once tense slender feline
Frame relaxing to an ever distant
Beat slowing quickly to the
Rhythm of dreams and

Heaven knows how high he
Jumps now, from what stylish
Crouch he bounds to what
Arching tree he climbs

He was a fine cat.

Steve Mahaley, 1999

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Give me the beat.

It’s been a very emotional few weeks as I’ve wrapped up 18 years at Duke Corporate Education.  I’ve realized, again, that leaving involves people on both sides of the equation:  I needed to say goodbye and process what this next chapter of my work life is going to (could) look like, and all the great people I’ve had the privilege of working with needed to share their sentiments with me, as well.

Today, I just ‘wanna get lost in the rock n’ roll, and drift away’.

Years ago I introduced this idea of Friday songs at work.  Just to have some fun, and most everyone loves music.  We would put on some popular tune on some speakers and sing along, or even get up and dance.  This led to all sorts of laughter and great memories.

Well, today, some colleagues conspired to put together a song list, and we gathered in one of the rooms downstairs, and songs by bands such as Meat Loaf, the Gap Band, George Jones, Springsteen, Billy Joel and others were shared.

We laughed, danced, hugged and may have had a tear or two.  The last song was “Drift Away” by the Doobie Brothers.  One of my favorites, and lyrics, below, capture so many of the sentiments we all have shared.

Goodbye, Duke CE.

Day after day I’m more confused
Yet I look for the light in the pouring rain
You know that’s a game that I hate to lose
I’m feelin’ the strain, ain’t it a shame
Oh, give me the beat boys, and free my soul
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Oh, give me the beat boys, and free my soul
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Beginning to think that I’m wastin’ time
I don’t understand the things I do
The world outside looks so unkind
So I’m countin’ on you to carry me through
Oh, give me the beat boys, and free my soul
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Give me the beat boys, and free my soul
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
And when my mind is free
You know a melody can move me
And when I’m feelin’ blue
The guitar’s comin’ through to soothe me
Thanks for the joy that you’ve given me
I want you to know I believe in your song
Rhythm and rhyme and harmony
You help me along makin’ me strong
Oh, give me the beat boys, and free my soul
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Give me the beat boys, and free my soul
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Oh, give me the beat boys, and free my soul
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Hey, hey, give me the beat boys, and free my soul
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Na na na, won’t ya, won’t ya take me
Oh oh, take me
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Do Rising Tides Lift All Boats?

There is a popular saying, when it comes to economic forecasting, that ‘a rising tide lifts boat and anchorall boats’.  This expression provides a comforting and confident view of top line growth in economies, with the associated presumption that even small and struggling boats will do better in better economic times.

Would that it were true.

I found myself thinking about anchors – those devices that hold us in one place.  For many of the smaller vessels bobbing around in this stormy global economic sea, they have disproportionately huge anchors, with mighty short chains, that hold them down.  While the massive cargo ships, tankers, destroyers and aircraft carriers are built for deep and stormy waters, these smaller mom and pop businesses, in my view, are held down by the increased power that giant corporations have – power to create advantageous regulatory policies; power to merge and grow larger; power to undercut on prices to kill small businesses.

I think this is worth consideration and debate.

And if you’d like a more authoritative view on this, I’d encourage the reader to explore Klaus Schwab’s (founder of the World Economic Forum) 2016 article about the fourth industrial revolution, and the need to ensure a future that is bright for all:

In the end, it all comes down to people and values. We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them. In its most pessimistic, dehumanized form, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to “robotize” humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul. But as a complement to the best parts of human nature—creativity, empathy, stewardship—it can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny. It is incumbent on us all to make sure the latter prevails.

photo credit:  fotolog
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