It's been a few weeks since I mentioned Meeka and Maizie, the two cats we adopted back in September. They're getting more comfortable around our house--and they're also showing us their personalities.
Maizie is the friendlier and more adventuresome one. She was the first to come out of hiding on the first night after we brought them home. She's the more likely of the two to hop up on the couch next to a human, although she's not ready to be a lap cat yet. (She weighs nearly 15 pounds, so that's probably not a bad thing.) Meeka is more shy, but she's also more verbal. The other morning at 4:30, she decided that it was time she was fed, and she told us about it, loud and clear.
The two of them are sisters, and it shows in the way they share their spots. Neither one of them has a place that's absolutely hers. They cycle around from the back of the couch to the perch by the window to the bed on the floor. Now that it's colder, it seems like one of them is always in the bed on the floor. It has a heating pad in it with a switch that's activated by the animal's weight. We bought it last year thinking that it might help Sophie, our elderly cat, who had bad hips, but Maizie and Meeka enjoy it just because it's warm. (If you have cats or dogs, I can't recommend these pads enough, and I must not be the only one. We went to the pet store to get a second one last weekend, and we were told they're on back-order. The manufacturer can't keep up.) Our other cats loved the fireplace, but these two don't. They keep their distance, or go and hide entirely when we build a fire.
No doubt about it--every cat his his or her own distinct personality. If you have one and don't believe it, get another one. Then you'll see it.
On Thanksgiving Day 1981, I was a little baby disc jockey on KDTH in Dubuque, Iowa. My show was nearly over when a listener called to ask how come I hadn’t played any Thanksgiving songs yet that morning. It was not a playful query. The tone of her voice indicated that her gorge had been rising with every non-Thanksgiving song I played. So maybe it wasn’t the most tactful thing I could have said when I replied, “Ma’am, if you can think of one, I’d be happy to play it.” She apparently couldn't, because she hung up on me.
In the years since, I've developed a list in case she calls back, and here are a few of them.
Although I'm not a church person anymore, I still know my way around the Methodist Hymnal. For Thanksgiving, one could choose “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” or “For the Beauty of the Earth” or “We Gather Together” or even the Doxology. (I am guessing this is what my caller was asking for, unless maybe she wanted “Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go,” in which case she shoulda said so.) There's "Thankgiving" by George Winston, the opening track on his landmark album December. It's an instrumental that can paint numerous pictures depending on the frame of mind you’re in: a quiet country road with harvest bounty in the adjoining fields, the last mile of a long and wearying journey home, or the quiet contemplation of how fortunate you are to have what you have. "Celebrate Me Home" by Kenny Loggins does the same kind of thing, although in an entirely different way.
You're likely to hear both George Winston and Kenny Loggins on Magic's Thanksgiving special this year. You probably won't hear "Thank You (Falletin Me Be Mice Elf Agin)" by Sly and the Family Stone--but why not? Part of reaching our fullest potential as human beings involves being true to our true selves, whatever they are. Should we not be grateful to someone who permits us to achieve that potential?
OK, that's a joke, but only a little one. Hope you and yours have a happy Thanksgiving this year.
There was a big country concert at the Coliseum at Alliant Energy Center the other night, and it got me thinking about all the times I've been there over the years. The first time was right after it opened in 1967, when my first-grade class went to the circus. The Milwaukee Bucks used to play a few regular-season games there every year, and I remember going to several of them. By the time I got to high school, the Coliseum was THE place for rock concerts. The first real concert I ever saw was Emerson Lake & Palmer on June 9, 1977, but everybody who was anybody played the Coliseum in the 70s and 80s. A while back I did some research and found these shows and dates, which represent only a tiny fraction of the shows held there:
--Queen (6/3/75, 2/28/76, and 6/12/78)
--Elton John (9/4/80, after which he is said to have played a few songs on the piano at the bar in the Edgewater Hotel)
--Pink Floyd (3/4/73, right before "Dark Side of the Moon" was released)
--David Bowie (10/11/74)
--Elvis Presley (10/19/76 and 6/24/77, less than two months before he died)
In the days of festival seating, you had to get there early for a good seat. One fine night in the 1970s, a bunch of us were lined up outside waiting when a guy in line nearby started yelling in a voice that sounded like broken glass and scrap metal, screechy and raspy at the same time: “Let us in! Let us in!” The guy was maybe 5-foot-5, and he seemed more funny than threatening. At one point he paused, grabbed an empty beer can, smashed it flat on his forehead, and yelled even louder, "Let us in!” I can never attend anything at the Coliseum, down unto to this very day, without thinking about that guy.
If you've got a Coliseum concert story you'd like to share, e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friends, my heart is heavy this week. After 162,000 miles and 11 years, my good old 2001 Ford ZX2 has run down the curtain and joined the Choir Invisible. I was driving home from the radio station last Sunday night when I heard a fizzing, grinding sound and the thing quit. Diagnosis from my trusted mechanic: broken timing belt, damaged valves and pistons, maybe $2000 to fix it.
Not the kind of news you want to get on a Monday morning.
The ZX2 is the first car I ever ordered up exactly the way I wanted it. Two doors, sporty, midnight blue, cassette deck up front, six-disc CD changer in the trunk. Over the years it's gone lots of places. Thousands of miles all over Wisconsin when I had a job that required me to travel. Lots of trips back to Iowa and to visit family in Michigan. A couple of trips to Cape Cod to visit my father-in-law. Twin Cities, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC. Plus dozens and dozens of trips to the radio station.
There was a time when we would have had to run right out and buy a second car--like we did when my wife's car kicked the same bucket last year. But now she works at home, like I do when I'm not on the radio, so we think we can get by with one car for a while.
We'll get a second car eventually. How soon depends on how this one-car experiment goes. (I hope we can stay married amidst all the togetherness.) However: if you ever see me by the side of the road with my thumb out, stop and pick me up, won't you?