“Wave.”

So this song:

I first realised I had become a crazy cat lady a few years ago when I was driving home and this song came on the radio, making me think of lazy, sun-setty evenings on a breezy beach. And I thought, man, I need a break. I’d love to be on a ridiculously luxurious beach holiday. With only my baby darling cats on the deck chair next to mine, all miraculously not running away. Maybe something like that:

Poppy and Blackie, big loves | foto@me

That’s two of them, anyway. Half-brothers – same mom, different dad. Don’t judge.

I got Poppy and Blackie in 2007, and Curly followed about 2 years later. Cupcake came into my life in Shanghai not long after. They are all my most precious loves. I can’t imagine life without them. 2007 was a pretty shit year for me, career-wise. My job was a heavy stinking blanketing fog that had settled oppressively on every aspect of my life. Sunday evenings were filled with clanging iron bells of doom that amplified as each hour passed in a panicky haze. 13 more hours to Monday. Diiiiing…12. Doooooong…11. 10, 9, 8…

And then one day, three little kittens, palm-sized, squinty, and swishy-tailed, popped up on the staircase landing of the 3rd floor in my apartment building. I live on the 6th, and have the habit of eschewing the elevator (claustrophobia, healthy and wellness, etc) in favour of walking. My walk-ups and downs soon became little trips of delight because I could stop to watch the three little furry balls rolling about and lolling around their proud, exhausted mama. I witnessed their first tentative explorations of the flower pots, old boxes and dusty abandoned paraphernalia that composed their unorthodox livingscape. I held my breath when the brave, impossibly small Poppy made his first successful jump from old pot to cracked urn. 15 cm! One tiny hop for kitten, one giant leap for watching human.

When one of them was found a few weeks later, violently mangled, my neighbour convinced us to take the other two in. And because one cat always leads to another, by 2010, there were four. Ruling the roost, strutting their irresistible feline stuff along the bookshelves, kitchen counters, headboards, window ledges, sofa tops, and the most inaccessible wardrobe spaces.

Curly the Burly | foto@me

The song of this post, “Wave”, is an Antonio Carlos Jobim classic. For years, I didn’t realise that Tom Jobim referred to the same person until I did some light research for this post. Neuron, meet synapse. Head, meet desk.

I chose to feature the Sitti Navarro version because the young Filipina’s light, bright vocals captured my little loves’ tripping, skipping nature perfectly. Sweet, unassuming and delightful.

Cupcake, 2013 | foto@me

But if your taste runs more to mutton over lamb – well frankly, after 6 years, my “babies” are more term-of-affection rather than actual-developmental-stage-reference – here is the peerless Sarah Vaughan. This is an interpretation of “Wave” that I would never have been able to imagine. The arrangement is impossibly rich and sensual.

Because I am a sucker – a sucker! – for covers, I spent a most pleasurable afternoon loving up various covers of “Wave”. The tune certainly commends itself to the harp, if you are so inclined. This is Tadao Hayashi, one of Japan’s foremost jazz musicians and harpists, tragically found murdered at home about 7 years ago.

Finally, I leave you with – who else – Tom himself, (probably) at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 1986. This is close to the version I heard all those years ago, just after that very difficult time when it felt like I had lost my heart – dropped it behind the wardrobe or something – but it soon rolled out like a bit of sticky half-melted toffee, forever covered with four bits of fluffy cat.

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