Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Letting Nature Take Its Course II

Man, what a day...

This morning I had to get up early, hop in my BLUE RAV4, and drive, first to Ye Olde Academy, and then all the way to the Hitachi Civic Center up north in the city of Hitachi (yes, home of Hitachi electronics) for the Ibaraki Prefectural Band Contest, North/Central/East Block (slightly out-of tune fanfare, euphonium slow on the attack). In the past it had always taken me about four hours to get there, but this time I tried a new route, and I arrived in only an hour and a half(!). Still, it was a long day, it was hot, (I got sunburned,) and helping unload and load all those percussion and low brass instruments off and on the truck was really hard work. Despite all the problems, though, the kids did a pretty good job. I was happy to have been able to be there for it even if I wasn't directing.

I wasn't able to stay till the final results were released, unfortunately. I had to shoot back to Ye Olde Academy as soon as the truck was reloaded because tonight was the night that the new conductor was coming to direct the Kashima Philharmonic for the first time. The new route once again got me back a lot quicker than I expected, which gave me time to practice and set up the rehearsal hall (all by myself) before the new Maestro made his appearance.

As it turned out, the new director seems like a great guy. He also knows his stuff very well, and he's obviously quite used to working with amateur orchestras that are still just getting it together. He actually seemed to enjoy ironing out the weak spots. He didn't make it easy on us, though; we played all four movements of Beethoven's 7th symphony up to tempo with no punches pulled. Full throttle from the get-go. It was amazing that we were able to get through it as well as we did. The new director seemed to think so, too. He said quite frankly that we were much further along than he'd expected, especially after only three rehearsals.

Considering I'd directed two of those rehearsals, I guess I was doing something right even with my very limited experience. We'll see how it goes from now now that I have a better understanding of the ground rules.

After it was over we found out that Ye Olde Academy's band placed second in this morning's contest and will be moving on to the Prefectural Championship.

It had been a long and bloody tiring day, but it had also been a good one. Then I came home to some bad news. My in-laws' cat, His Royal Redness, Aka, was in terrible condition and not expected to survive. Apparently he hadn't eaten a bite of food for two or three days. This morning he suddenly started coughing up blood, and he spent most of the day like he was in a coma. As I said a couple of posts ago, his health hadn't been all that great for at least a few years. Apparently it had finally given out. Not unexpected, but still sad.

After I finished my (late) dinner, I gathered up my things to go to the in-laws' house and take a bath. As I did so, I heard my father-in-law tromping around outside loudly calling Aka's name. Apparently the old cat had come to, pried open their screen door, snuck outside, and disappeared. It seemed like quite a feat considering his condition. But then I opened my front door and found Aka immediately. He was curled up on the welcome mat on my front porch. He looked terrible. He was even skinnier and bonier than he was when I took the picture I posted a few days ago. His face and front paws were caked with blood he'd apparently coughed up. He hardly moved a muscle even when my front door bumped him. When I stepped outside, however, he used his scant strength to curl himself around my leg...just as he'd always done.

When I petted him he purred louder than he had for at least the last five years or so. I stayed with him until my father-in-law came back and collected him to put him to bed for probably the last time.

Ironically, Aka was skittish and wouldn't let me near him when I first moved here about ten years ago, but he quickly became my buddy. For a while, even though father-in-law doted on him and even let him eat directly from his own dinner plate, he would still come a-running to me with his rich "MAAAAAAAU" if he saw me outside. He also kept trying to sneak into our house to visit...until Mint came along two years ago followed by Tora the year after that. Then he became more stand-offish, as if his pride had been injured, but he'd still make a beeline for me if he saw me either outside or in the in-laws' house. He made it clear that, no matter what, we were still buddies.

Just as he did tonight. I think he just said goodbye.


  • Poor little Aka. May you be King of the Jungle in your next life.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 4:48 AM  

  • So sad, I hate it when pets die. Seeing as they have a much shorter life span than ours, it happens all too frequently. I hope Byron my black lab lives another healthy ten years. He's the first pet who has been all mine.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:23 AM  

  • Well, here's an update.

    Apparently Aka drank a little milk last night, and he's still alive and alert, but he doesn't look very good. I doubt he's going to last much longer.

    BTW, I heard an interesting bit of news this morning. Apparently my in-laws have known for at least a year or two that Aka is suffering from feline AIDS. Most likely he got it from fighting with other cats in the neighborhood a few years ago. If that's the case, Tora should be safe. If Aka is actually infected with the feline leukemia virus, however, Tora could be at risk of infection since he has often used Aka's toilet box and food/water dishes. However, feline leukemia usually tends to be a danger only to very young or very old cats, so I hope Tora is healthy enough to resist it if that's what it is.

    Bloody nasty. At least humans are totally immune to both viruses.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:39 PM  


    Well, we were right. Sometime this evening Aka suddenly crawled off and disappeared again (amazing since, though his forepaws seemed just fine, he was clearly having trouble raising himself up onto his hind legs, let alone walking). When my FIL finally found him, his body was still warm, but definitely still. I guess the story is over. I just hope he didn't suffer too much.

    As an interesting side note (or at least another weird coincidence), right after FIL found Aka's body, a big, peppered-white butterfly suddenly came into their living room as if from nowhere and circled around the main lamp. FIL wanted to catch it, but I suggested coaxing it outside by turning off the indoor lights, turning on my outdoor lamp, and opening the door. When we did so, the moth first lit on the box containing Aka's body in the hallway and seemed reluctant to leave. A little more coaxing finally got it to go out, whereupon it flew over to my house and planted itself in the middle of my front porch. It's still there, resting quietly with its wings spread out horizontally.

    If Gandalf had suddenly walked over and whispered to it, I wouldn't have been surprised in the least. As it is, I'm leaving it alone.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:18 AM  

  • Goodbye Aka. You will be missed. His farewell visit was very touching and shows how deep the connection between humans and cats can be.

    When I was a teen, our family dog was getting old and tired just as I was about to leave for college. Before I went I took him for a drive in the car along the beach at Malibu (he loved the beach) and we spent the day together. I felt like he was appreciative for that, a kind of good bye between us. He died a few weeks after I started college, away from home.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 7:54 AM  

  • A strange concept the last breath
    Seems it is not only humans that are off to the great unknown.

    But nevertheless strange to me, I can imagine leaving the body, just like one gets out of one's car or BLUE Rava, but I can't imagine not being me. But hey, that's just Me.

    By Blogger QUASAR9, at 5:47 PM  

  • I wonder if it is just that we get attached to things (and people) and it is the thought of giving these up, that it's all about.

    Being pretty much an itinerant, it something that doesn't have a strong hold on me - but who knows really what will be - the inevitable comes to us all, great & small
    Dolphin Dreamz

    By Blogger QUASAR9, at 5:50 PM  

  • We had a similiar story from an old cat, it started hanging out by the house and got all skinny. She was at least 15 years old....

    It usually hid under the deck, but now she let us pet her and just sat and purred all the time.

    We finally took her to the vet, because she was just skin and bones. She had feline Leukemia and died the next day.

    By Blogger ladybug, at 12:17 AM  

  • oh Moody, this breaks my heart and is so touching. But... his life lives on....

    I'm glad he said his goodbyes to you... I'm sure you'll miss him.

    Years ago, we had a little cat that got hit by a car while we were gone. He jumped off our porch and wondered off. That night, both Hashim and I had a bad feeling about the cat... when we came home, we found his body.

    We got a box and carried him home... after we placed his body in the garage and went upstairs, we both heard, at the same time, a meow like his.

    Our cat, Aimee, mourned him for weeks... he was her little one, altho she didn't have him.

    May his little soul fly w/ every moth... may he be in peace and visit you often.

    By Blogger Um Naief, at 4:25 AM  

  • I appreciate all these kind and interesting comments.

    Aka was buried in our rapidly-growing pet cemetery (no Stephen King jokes, please...the ground is NOT sour) with honors usually awarded a deceased member of the family. Since then, Tora has been hanging out in the vicinity of the grave, sniffing about and acting strange. I'm sure he probably detects Aka's scent there and can't figure out why, but it's still weird.

    Right now we're in the middle of another typhoon-induced weather pattern. Lots of rain and thunder today. Power got knocked out twice, once my modem conked out but fortunately recovered.

    Life goes on.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 7:36 PM  

  • So long Aka. I’m glad he got a chance to say goodbye.

    I think it was nice too that he wanted be outside in his final moments.

    We had a cat that had Feline AIDS, Fuzzy, she was in good shape, but died quickly in the neighbor’s yard, her second home much like Aka. She was a cute cat. I discovered late in her life that she loved Doritos. It was strange because she was quite picky. She rarely liked human food. Since she originally was a stray, I invented a whole story in my head about her finding an open bag and eating it to survive. They were Cool Ranch of course.

    By Blogger Swinebread, at 12:40 AM  

  • I'm back...but will have to wait until photos load faster to look at the garden...

    What you said about Aka is both disturbing and touching and if I read it too much in detail, with my current frame of mind I think I will cry, so...if he did indeed say goodbye, I hope he went peacefully, poor mite. It hurts so much when pets leave us...

    By Blogger Olivia, at 4:37 AM  

  • Hello. Is there anybody . . . out there! (wierd little chime sounds)

    By Blogger Phillipa Scratch, at 8:50 AM  

  • O.K. it will absolutely positively not not not let me post comments from my home computer, but I can post comments at work? This is not good. On my home system I can only add to my blogsite, and post comments to myself.

    Oh well.

    Bye to the Keeka. You should write him a Requiem.

    By Blogger Phillipa Scratch, at 8:57 AM  

  • Namu amida butsu to your In-law’s cat{also your buddyAka}

    By Anonymous Spirit, at 12:43 PM  

  • So sad.... reading the post, till reading the second update.

    "Goodbye Aka.... sleep tight"

    By Blogger Selba, at 8:48 PM  

  • Oh I just read all the comments, and I see he did go peacefully. Nice touch with the butterfly.

    A similar thing happened to us when my society finch Lena died. It was a horrible slow death (one afternoon must be a long time to a bird, and it was to us to watch her), like pneumonia and so she drowned to death in the pus that filled her lungs.

    A little later, as I was in my room crying, a rather large moth fluttered in from somewhere, in the middle of the afternoon, and its colours were exactly the same as Lena's: caramel and white!

    By Blogger Olivia, at 11:31 PM  

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