|Sasha looked very much like this cat|
|A Russian Blue...this is what Smocka looked like|
|Randall & Me in our courting days in the Sixties|
|Mum & Kittens....sketch done by me.|
As far back as I can remember I've had a cat in my life...see my post - "Saturday, September, 28th, 2013 - 'My First Love'"
Sasha never wandered far, preferring to stick close to home, hearth and me. My bed was his bed; my sofa, his sofa; if push came to shove, my chair was his chair; and, of course, he showed keen interest in the kitchen, particularly come breakfast and dinner times. He was loved and well-taken care of; and in return he gave me unfettered devotion. Ours was a mutual admiration society.
After about 18 months living in the New Farm flat I found a two-bedroom, furnished unit in a newly-built block of six in Toowong, an inner-western suburb of Brisbane. When I first moved to the city I lived in a flat in Toowong, so I was returning to familiar territory.
Once again, I packed up my possession. I hired a removals’ truck - not a huge one, but a truck all the same - to assist me in my relocation. It served a couple of purposes. At that stage, I didn’t own a car. The car, a VW Beetle I’d shared during my marriage had remained with my ex-husband, Mervyn. After all, it really was his - he'd bought it before we'd married or even thought of marrying each other.
Not only would the removalist and his truck move my worldly possessions, which mainly consisted of books and more books, clothes and LPs (yes...it was that long ago); but he would also be my transport from my old abode to my brand new dwelling.
The Saturday morning of the move arrived. Sasha had been examining the boxes throughout the week while carefully monitoring my every action. Being of foreman material, he didn’t assist physically, but his role he took seriously, and he did conscientiously oversee every detail.
The loading of the truck/van was almost complete. I looked around for Sasha. Calling out to him, I couldn’t find him anywhere. Sighing and feeling concerned, I hoped he hadn't disappeared, disturbed by all the out-the-normal activity. He needed to be placed in a carrying cage because the plan was for him to travel with me as passenger in the cabin of the truck. I was feeling very anxious by his sudden disappearance, but my concern quickly turned into laughter when I spotted him sitting in the back of the van amongst all of my possessions with a look on his face that clearly said: "Hurry up! Let's get this show on the road!" It was obvious I wasn’t going anywhere without him!
It didn’t take either of us long to settle into our new home…and it was sparkling new. Other than the young owner-landlord and his mate with whom he was sharing his own accommodation I was the first tenant (along with Sasha) to take up residency in the newly-erected building,
The landlord, Greg, was the son of a Central Queensland grazier who had a large beef cattle station west of Rockhampton. Rockhampton is known as the “Beef Capital of Australia. Greg’s mate, Ian Millroy was from Rockhampton. We three were of similar ages at the time – all in our mid-20s – and we became good mates.
Ian’s family owned a well-known department store in Rockhampton, James Millroy Ltd. The business had originally been established in 1888. Greg and Ian had gone to school and then boarding school together where they’d forged a firm and lasting friendship. From memory, I think the Millroys also had cattle holdings around the Gracemere area, too. Sadly, just a few short years after having Ian as a neighbour he was the victim of a fatal road accident on the highway between Gracemere and Rockhampton.
Upon applying to Greg for residency in one of his units the first thing I told him was I had a cat. If he’d not accepted Sasha, I would have looked elsewhere, and kept looking until I found a home for the both of us. Where I went, Sasha went, and neither the twain would be separated. Fortunately, my having a pet didn’t concern Greg, but I was the only tenant permitted to have a pet of the four-legged, furry kind, feline or canine (bovine, ovine or caprine, too).
Sasha was the unofficial Mayor of the Estate! I did think of getting him a robe, but he already had a fur coat.
A while after I took up residence in the block of units Greg married his lady love, Priscilla aka Prissy. They bought a home elsewhere. Ian returned to Rockhampton and the family business. Greg asked if I would like to take on the management of the block of units on his behalf. I agreed to do so, and by agreeing he offered me the unit he’d been living in during his bachelor days. It was a much bigger and better unit than the one I’d been renting. It was a townhouse situated on the far end of the block with two bedrooms and bathroom upstairs; the kitchen, dining and lounge area were on the lower level. Sasha settled in immediately without even a flick of his whiskers. He just picked up his food bowl and followed me.
Shortly after Greg married he sold the units to Tennyson Lau, an Australian-Chinese who lived in and operated a business in Lau, Papua New Guinea. Tennyson retained my services as manager. I remained living in the townhouse so nothing changed on my home-front.
Except, that is, for the arrival of an unexpected visitor who moved in, minus luggage, taking up residence with Sasha and me.
A stray, pregnant female cat wandered onto the property. After looking around she liked what she saw so she decided to stay. Sasha, by the way, had been neutered so he’d not been up to any midnight mischief. He wasn’t the father, in case that thought passed through your mind! I'd given him the story about the birds and bees and all things pertaining thereto when he was still a wee kitten.
A couple of likely lads living in my previous unit upstairs took Ms Mumma Cat under their wings. Within a couple of weeks she gave birth to four kittens – in one of the bedroom built-in wardrobes. A few days or so after giving birth Mumma Cat, probably following a chat or two with Sasha, decided to bring her kittens, one by one, down to my laundry. The laundry was a secure room, just off from my kitchen. It was part of my unit. Other than not having an outer door at the top of two concrete stairs leading to the yard, it was secure. It housed a washing machine, two washing tubs and a bench. I watched Mumma Cat deposit each kitten safely behind my washing machine before she returned upstairs for the next one. Not have the heart to disturb her or try to change her mind I let her do what she was determined to do. So now I had Mumma Cat and her four kittens as tenants in my laundry. Sasha couldn’t have cared less. He’d obviously given the little family his tick of approval. Their mother obviously had been living on the streets before she found us. How could we be so cruel to toss her back out there?
I kept my eye on the little family. The mother cat came and went about her business not taking much notice of me; but she knew I was there, and that I was not a threat to her and her babies. I left milk and food out for her…she needed sustenance to help feed her babies.
This all occurred in November of 1972; my mother was due to visit me for Christmas that year. She was going to take the Sunlander (train) from Mackay to Brisbane and planned to stay with me for three or four weeks.
Mum arrived shortly before Christmas. I remember clearly that Christmas was exceptionally hot. We were suffering a heatwave of excessive temperatures. My ginger cat, "Cat" had died earlier in the year or the year before. I wanted to give Mum one of the kittens as a Christmas present; for her to take back home to Slade Point when her holiday was over - for her and Nana to have as their new pet. She declined my generous offer. The boys upstairs had found two friends to give two of the kittens to; and I was left with the remaining two.
One little grey fellow made up my mind for me. As Mum pointed out, he’d chosen me. I had no say in the matter whatsoever.
Everywhere I went, the steely grey kitten followed. He was a little, solid, yet fluffy ball of steel-grey fur. I’d go upstairs to the bathroom and when coming back down again the poor little guy would still be struggling up the carpeted stairs trying to reach me. I’d pick him up and carry him back downstairs with me. He was my shadow; but I didn't complain. I may have gotten under his fur; but he'd gotten under my skin and into my heart.
I was good friends with my ex-fiancee’s (later to be my second husband, Randall) parent. We’d met when Randall and I first started going out together back in 1963. He and I got engaged on his 21st birthday in January, 1965; in November 1965 he headed off overseas for the next nine years, living and working in New York City, in between visits to other worldly places.
I married Mervyn in the interim in April, 1966 as a defiant revolt against humanity - otherwise known as "on the rebound", I guess! (Mervyn was a good guy...life is life. Actually, he rang me on my birthday, which has just gone – 11th November…he never forgets; and I never forget his, either). And as I wrote in an earlier post, Mervyn and I separated in September, 1968; we divorced in 1973.
Throughout the years Randall was overseas, his parents and I remained on close, good terms. Christmas was rapidly arriving. Randall’s parents, that December, received from me as their 1972 Christmas gift a little fluffy grey and white kitten. They had no say in the matter; but they fell under Snoopy's spell immediately, and Snoopy lived a long life in their loving care
So now there was only one kitten left…the steely grey one. Well…what could I do? Sasha had taken him under his sage wing, or furry front legs. He and Smocka got on like a house on fire. The little fellow looked up to his older ginger mentor. Smocka joined the family; Sasha, Smocka and me; and yes, that was pecking order! Who was I to argue?
Smocka was a most adorable cat. He was a domestic moggie, not of royal or aristocratic blood, but he looked very much like a Russian Blue. But then, I was unaware of his heritage; of his family tree; with whom his mother had cavorted!
Smocka's thick, steely grey fur disguised his humble breeding. His amber eyes reflected the gentleness of his nature. His nose was black as was the padding on each of his paws; and amongst all the grey and black his little bum was pink; a situation that caused me much amusement! I’ve never denied my sense of humour is a little off the wall!
Both cats were loving and loyal, not only with me, but with each other. There was never an angry hiss between them. Sasha was the elder citizen and he took his role seriously.
I wrote in an early post about the morning Sasha attacked the boxer dog that had a terrified Smocka bailed up against my front screen door. The dog didn’t stand a chance when Sasha took control of the situation. He was protecting his mate, and no dog was going to hurt Smocka while Sasha was around. I’d never seen a dog get such a fright and take off so quickly! And I stood back, cheering on the sidelines!
Both cats didn’t wander far, preferring to hang around close to home. They spent most of their time indoors other than when nature called. A downstairs window, secured with a strong piece of dowling was always open a little; just enough to allow them egress at will. Ninety-nine percent of the time they were inside eager to greet me upon my arrival home each day/night after work; or they’d be in the carport that ran along adjacent to my front door. The other one percent of the time they didn’t wander far out of a few yards radius. They had it too good at home to cut the apron strings.
Upon Randall’s return to Brisbane in late November, 1974, he and I literally took up from where we’d left off nine years previously; except for one difference. The evening of the day he set foot back on Australian soil, he moved into my unit and we commenced living together. We married in March, 1976.
When we'd been dating years before, I still lived at home until I moved to Brisbane. Randall shared a flat with a co-worker (an other radio announcer) from when he arrived in Gympie to work at the local radio station, 4GY. And then when Randall left Gympie to take up a job as one of the "Colour Radio Guys" at Colour Radio 4IP, Ipswich, which was then the most "with-it, modern radio station around, he found accommodation in Ipswich for the duration of his employ there.. Randall gave up that job when he headed off overseas. .
Sasha and Smocka barely ruffled a fur or twitched a whisker, but an invisible undercurrent had begun to stir.
More to come......