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Chris Smith: Santa Rosa cat alerted owner of wife's medical emergency

Early, early a week ago, Valentine's Day, Derick Orr's cat was being a pain.

At about 5 a.m., Baba jumped onto the Santa Rosan's bed and pawed, even nipped at him.

“It was unlike any other time, ever,” Derick said. His wife, Carol, had gotten up to rid herself of the hiccups and he was trying to catch a few more winks before church.

But Baba, a 6-year-old orange tabby, kept hopping onto the bed, needling him, then leaving the room, then returning to pester him more. At last, exasperated by the suddenly annoying and insistent cat, Derick got up.

He walked to the living room, where it appeared Carol was asleep on the couch. Another step closer and it became clear to Derick that she'd collapsed. She was unconscious and struggling for breath.

Derick phoned 911. At Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, an emergency-room team cleared Carol's airway and determined she'd suffered both a seizure and a stroke, and she was aspirating when her husband found her.

Carol is doing far better now. She and Derick have some unfinished business with that darned cat.

A TINY, RED CAP is going home on the head of every child born this month at the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Santa Rosa.

Knitted or crocheted by volunteers, the caps commemorate not Valentine's Day but American Heart Month. The adorable caps keep the newborns warm and, beyond that, may improve awareness of congenital heart defects, the nation's most common birth defect.

Nobody at Kaiser is happier about the new cap program than former RN Judy Coffey. Long active in endeavors of the Heart Association, Coffey is Kaiser Santa Rosa's senior vice president and area manager.

She's also forever the mother of Alexa, who was born with heart defects and played hard and loved many right up to her death at age 17.

THE CUDDLIEST SHOP in Montgomery Village is about to turn dark and cold.

The Pendleton Woolen Mills store has been in Montgomery Village for 32 years. But the Portland-based, 153-year-old purveyor of blankets, apparel and such is shuttering several stores, and Santa Rosa's is one of them.

Tuesday is its last day.

YOU, TOO, MRS. OBAMA: At Aspen's Buttermilk Mountain over Presidents' Day weekend, ski-lift operator Adrian Baker-Kang heard the buzz that the first lady and first daughters were in the vicinity.

A 2010 alum of Santa Rosa High School, Adrian knew the rumor was true when a buddy who works in a ski-resort gift shop told him a fellow making a purchase had opened a small bag and exposed a compact machine gun. The Secret Service was on the slopes.

Last Sunday morning, Adrian was instructed to start his chair lift early. He complied.

Soon, he watched a small party exit the lift, but not move away. Instead, the skiers talked and laughed right there, where they'd be in the way were others to arrive on the lift.

So Adrian poked his head out of the control room and shouted, “OK people, everybody clear the lift area.”

A member of the group about four feet from Adrian turned and looked at him. Adrian isn't certain what sort of look came to his own face, but the expression on Michelle Obama's suggested she was a bit surprised to be spoken to that way.

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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