Selfie by Vanessa Kaukonen

We love our animals, of course. Over the years we have been blessed with many four footed companions. Zammy, the cat in Vanessa’s arms has been gone for a while. Blackie, the big guy in mine just left us today. Blackie taught us so much about love. He first surfaced as a feral cat intimidating the other cats at the Fur Peace Ranch and eating their food. We kept trying to shoo him away but he persevered and won over the other felines as well as the humans. He and Zammy (gone for some time now) became fast friends, sleeping together on the guest chair in John Hurlbut’s office.

A feline relationship manifests itself a little differently than a canine one but the love transcends whatever differences I as a human might find. When John and i would play music together in the Workshop at the Ranch Blackie would always ask to be let in and he would find a comfortable place to sleep as he listened to the music. The last time I would see him was in the Workshop as Hurl and I rehearsed right before I left on this road trip.

Vanessa was working on her new store area at the Ranch and Blackie came in to keep her company.

A little strange for him, but he needed to be there.

Photo by Vanessa Kaukonen

There he was in the Café hanging out behind a ladder under a table full of stuff.

He then walked over to Vanessa, lay down and died right next to her.

Blackie definitely used all of his nine lives and maybe he had some bonus rounds. His ears were notched and he had battle scars on his face. He had a stroke and still came back to give us another couple of years with him. He was a fine feline friend. His purr was a force of nature.

Photo by Vanessa Kaukonen

He has passed through the Door Into Summer and he is not alone.

We will all miss him. Friends of all species are hard to come by and you were a good one Blackie!


  1. Comment made on October 18, 2023 by Frederick Brandt

    So sorry for your loss. RIP Blackie your gone but not forgotten…

  2. Comment made on September 26, 2023 by Jeffrey Montwicki

    After my clinic at Fur Peace Ranch in March 2009 and spurred on by my love of cats, I went back to college and became a certified veterinary technician in Pennsylvania. I know all too well the sadness when a beloved pet leaves us, as well as the unconditional love they give us. Cats are very spiritual animals and I am sure you gave your cats a happy life. Mine enjoy when I play guitar too

  3. Comment made on July 16, 2023 by John

    Sorry for the loss of your pal.

    Our Saffron left us and you really miss them.

  4. Comment made on June 30, 2023 by Bob Pesavento

    Hi Jorma
    Came across a broadside/poster drawn/written by Paul Foster referencing the Offstage and the Labor Day hoo ha in the park that Norm Benner sponsored in 1965. Along with yourself was Bill Monday (Mundy) who I remember as an interesting sorta pop jazz ballad guitar singer. Any idea what happened to him?

    • Comment made on July 3, 2023 by Jorma

      That’s a name I haven’t heard for the better part of a lifetime. He was older than I so it would seem logical that he is gone although who knows. I know Norm Benner has been gone for some time now.

  5. Comment made on June 26, 2023 by Dan Nigro

    My deepest sympathies on your loss of Blackie. It is good to hear that Blackie called his own shot and said goodbye to his Mom. Our furbabies are family and the loss is deeply felt, his memory (and probably some scratched furniture) will live on

  6. Comment made on June 25, 2023 by Jefferson Campervan

    Taylor and I feel for you, Jorma and Vanessa. We find it extremely painful – we lost our poodle Odin a few weeks ago and constantly feel the presence of his absence… Frank in Toronto

  7. Comment made on June 24, 2023 by BrendanC

    Our Mother took another brother and me to see ‘Harry and Tonto’ at Radio City almost half a century ago. Got us right here (me tapping chest). I visited her sisters husband in hospice about 20 years ago. A different brother asked how long and I said he’s been dead for weeks, just doesn’t know it yet. Mom said animals have more sense than humans – when it’s time to go they lay down and die (this was not anything against the uncle, just a farm girl and her sons mulling mortality). I didn’t know Art Carney had a twin who was a dentist in the town we moved to in ’76 till he came into the hardware store and asked me for light bulbs.

  8. Comment made on June 24, 2023 by Walt Hetfield

    RIP Blackie. Gone but not forgotten. You were a part of FPR.

  9. Comment made on June 24, 2023 by eaglesteve

    My condolences.
    RIP Blackie.
    Never forgotten.

    and…john o, there indeed is a heaven

  10. Comment made on June 23, 2023 by Tom

    Qu’il repose en paix.

  11. Comment made on June 22, 2023 by john o

    T know exactly how you feel and I’m sorry. It’s tough to lose a good friend. I’m a cat person and lost my cat Suzy in December. Tt was the constant love she gave me every day I miss the most. She would always want to curl up next to me. She lasted 13 years. If there is a heaven. she’s there for sure.

  12. Comment made on June 22, 2023 by doug mlyn

    sorry for your loss. They are part of the family and love unconditionally. We lost our Daschund a few months ago, it was painful and although the pain lessens every day, I still think about him and what a great companion he was.

  13. Comment made on June 22, 2023 by David Goldstein

    May Blackie’s memory be a blessing. So hard to lose our four legged friends. RIP Blackie!

  14. Comment made on June 22, 2023 by Karl Dentino

    RIP Blackie. That’s FPR royalty right there!

  15. Comment made on June 22, 2023 by Joey Hudoklin

    My sincere condolences to you all at FPR. He found his home with you♡

  16. Comment made on June 22, 2023 by John R.

    I am so sorry to hear this, Jorma. It is gut-wrenching to lose a pet.

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