Aby-a-Day – May 30: The cats who came before – Part 2 (Friday Flashback)

Originally, there were only going to be two parts to this series…but it turned out, I had so many photos of Harri, I need to break it out into two parts. So now, instead of being part two of two, this is part two of three.


Harri (Harakka Talonväkiliäinen) was my first cat as an adult. I was 26, and finished with university and in an apartment that could support a cat. He was actually my birthday present, but I didn’t get him until 20 June. I was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism at that time, and I actually picked Harri up on the way to June Crown. He spent the weekend camping and it wasn’t until four days later that he finally got to his new home. I was actually his second person. We got him from a man who’d had him two weeks. He’d gotten Harri from the son of the breeder, who lived “in Redding…or Red Bluff. One of those” and hadn’t paid extra to get his papers. I asked why he was getting rid of him and the man told me, “Well, he cries all the time. And I have white carpets, so I can’t leave him alone in the house while I’m at work. I have to keep him in the garage. Well…duh, he’s a Siamese kitten, that’s what they do! I paid the man $100 and took “Siamy” off to the event.


To say he loved the SCA would be an understatement.


He embraced it.


He was squired to a knight, Count Sir Brion Thornbird at his second event. Sir Brion later said that Harri was his most active squire.


Harri fit right in, drinking from tankards (in fact, throughout Harri’s life, he wouldn’t drink water from bowls; he had to have his water in a cup. People don’t drink from bowls, so neither would he)…


…hanging out in the Royal Pavillion impressing the ladies…



…and just generally being the mascot of the West Kingdom for a couple of years. I never left him home alone, so he went to every event that I did.


He even had his own little pavilion.


After a while, though, he outgrew it, and that style of pavilion didn’t really fit his Viking persona, so…


…he upgraded to a genuine Viking A-Frame. He also had a miniature rope bed with a futon mattress, a steel raised firepit, and, of course, his own heraldic banner.


Of course, no matter what tent he himself had, he still crashed in my tent, too.


Harri was my best buddy, very much the same way Jacoby is now.


He was even “Best Cat” at my first wedding!




Harri was one of the bravest cats I have ever known. For some reason I never figured out, he hated dogs. He considered them the ultimate evil. He would insert himself physically between me and any dog, and he would attack if the dog came too close. We used to go for walks in Golden Gate Park, and when we’d encounter a dog, I’d tighten Harri’s leash. “Oh, don’t worry,” the dog owner would invariably say. “He likes cats!” “That’s great,” I’d respond. “HE hates dogs.”


Harri was a great cat. He and Sgt. Pepper actually met once (the crossover between my childhood cats and my adult cats) and I know I have those photos, but I haven’t been able to locate them yet. He did have a lot of energy and, as an only cat, he used to stage running attacks on my ankles. This started to get a bit painful, so when he was three, I adopted a friend for him.


At the time, I was working for a weekly newspaper taking classified ads over the phone. I happened to take a call from a man who needed to rehome a redpoint Siamese cat because his son was suddenly allergic. We got to talking and…well, let’s just say that ad never made it into the newspaper. Sigrid was six years old, a retired CFA Grand Champion. I can’t remember the cattery name but her call name was Sugar…which I promptly changed to Sigrid.


Harri loved her right from the start. She was such a wonderful, beautiful cat…and I have so few photos of her.



The SFSPCA would have photos with Santa every Christmas. These are some of the only photos I have left of her now.


I had Harri and Sigrid together for three years, during which time I moved from Chico to Sacramento to San Francisco. But then Harri was still an active 6 year old who weighed 12 lbs, and Sigrid was an elderly 9 year old who weighed 8 lbs. It was clear that Harri needed a more energetic pal to roughhouse with. And that’s when I adopted Patrick.

More about Harri and Patrick next week.

10 thoughts on “Aby-a-Day – May 30: The cats who came before – Part 2 (Friday Flashback)

  1. I love hearing about the cats that came before! I can’t wait to read about Patrick!! Your stories make me think of all the cats (and dogs, horses, guinea pigs, chickens, geese, sheep, etc.) we’ve had, all of whom were such wonderful companions in their own special ways. My life is truly better for having had the opportunity to know and love animals. I must remember to thank my parents for their total acceptance of all our pets. :). I think my dad believes that he supported the Portola Valley vet single handedly…


  2. I really enjoyed this also, seeing how his color changed as he matured, how bold he was, how quickly he took to the other cats. Oh, and your HAIRCUT from back in the day….priceless. My aunt lives in Chico, and this (renaissance faire?) seems like the type of event that would take place up there. Quite eclectic and quirky.


    1. Well, this was more than a Ren Faire, it was the SCA, which is…more like a lifestyle thing. We had events almost every weekend, and the time period was more than just the Renaissance. I was a 10th century Russian living in Finland and travelling with Vikings…


  3. Oh, Squire Harry! How I loved that little guy! FYI, that’s me in the second photo — I even remember the event. Later on, after he was squired, I remember dancing on the green and Harry was right there beside me (Hal Ravn took a picture of me and I was disappointed that he hadn’t captured Harry in the frame). Garth said Harry should have been knighted; he certainly knew how to conduct himself at a civilized court, could play the harp, could dance (okay, he didn’t play chess but that was only because he didn’t have opposable thumbs), and was a fierce fighter. Harry is immortalized on Johann von Drachenfels’ Laurel scroll (http://history.westkingdom.org/Scrolls/TatianaTumanova/JohannVonDrachenfelsLaurel.htm) — Johann had a picture of Harry in his tent (but not as nice as one as you’ve got here) and I included it as one of the many SCA pavilions Johann made. — Tatiana


    1. Yep, that’s you all right! There were more photos of you dancing with him, but I can’t seem to find them and they aren’t scanned. It was some war practice day event, as I recall, in Fairfield or Sonoma. And yes, that’s right, Johann built his first pavilion which we won at a Land Fund auction. I think we got it because no one wanted to bid against Harri! I’m blanking out on all the other names…his firepit was made by the same guy who made Flieg’s, but I can’t remember his name. And the A-Frame was a group effort; one person made the wood parts and Anne…of Locksley? I think? made the canvas. I actually made his rope bed out of a wooden casserole trivet and Beerslayer made the futon mattress when he worked at the futon factory. I did all of his leather work – his red squire belt had Count Sir Brion’s device on the tip (of course) and could be worn separately from the rest of the harness.

      My favourite memory of Harri at an event – oh and believe me, there were plenty! – was early one morning at Rancho Seco. We didn’t keep him on a leash at night, because he was zipped up in our tent…but somehow he managed to get out. It was dawn and the birds were going crazy – it was so loud! And I found Harri, sitting on a picnic table near the water, just taking in all the bird action. I didn’t take a photo of it as I was too worried about finding him to grab my camera, but it looked like this:



  4. Great post, Coco. I have enjoyed this series. Sigrid and Harri were gorgeous! I can totally picture you in SCA. I was not, but had friends who were. I can’t wait for the next installment, and to read about Patrick!

    Also – curious – how did you make the transition from orientals to abys? I guess I did the same. We had siamese growing up, and as I learned more about cats and the breeds, I was curious about abyssinians. Little did I know how they would change and enrich my life.



  5. I have a blue point Siamese, Frankie, named after Frank Sinatra (Ol’ Blue Eyes), and I just love him TO BITS! I don’t think I’d ever be without a Siamese now! They’re just wonderful!


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