Tuesday, January 06, 2015

CHAPTER FIVE...MUSIC TO MY EARS...PURRRFECT....OR...TO ALL THE CATS I'VE LOVED BEFORE...AND STILL!




 
MG Magnette Varitone
Heindorf House - squashed in between the Regent and Odeon Theatres in Queen St. Brisbane - circa 1960s


Coolum Beach

Red Arrow marks the spot...Grandview Drive, Coolum with Mt. Coolum to left in background

Mount Coolum....lookin at it from the southern side

Mudjimba Beach

Holly & Cat - "Breakfast at Tiffany's"...a regular occurrence in real life...all cat owners will recognise!

 

We continued working on the house, mostly on weekends. However, I did take a week off from my job in August, 1977 to get stuck into the stripping….of the interior walls….I’d not taken up a second job in the evenings in case that thought had fluttered through your mind.  So we could complete the painting; to finally get it all over and done with Randall also took a week off from his job as a real estate salesman, not only to help me with the painting, but to finish off a major project of his own.

Why I remember the month and year so clearly is on the 16th August, both Randall and I were up on ladders painting the walls in the lounge room white when the news flashed over the air waves…Elvis had died!  It was one of those “remember what I was doing and where I was doing it” moments.  Randall and I looked at each other in disbelief.

Almost immediately upon moving into the house we literally stripped (there’s that word again…there was a lot stripping going on) the kitchen bare.  All that was left of the kitchen were its four walls, ceiling, windows, the scrubbed clean refrigerator, kitchen sink and the electric stove sitting in its recess.  The first things we did was get rid of the stove, replacing it with a new gas range, which fitted into the existing recess perfectly, (if and when I have a choice, gas cooking is my preferred method), and we ripped up the vinyl off the floor. The vinyl floor covering was beyond saving.  It ended its life at the local rubbish dump. 

After the demolishing of the kitchen for a period of time my work bench was a wooden door resting on two wooden saw horses.  If word had gotten around we would’ve started a new trend!

Randall’s major project was building a new kitchen for me; a project he took very seriously.  He’d never tackled something quite as grand before, but he was up for the challenge.  The only wood-work he’d done in the past was at high school in the wood-working classes aka Manual Training Course.  Shadow-Boxes and the like were far removed from the design and construction of a kitchen! Carpentry was a whole new ball game; but, he was very capable. I had faith in his abilities.

I’d learned earlier on when our relationship first began when we were still in our teens that he could turn his hands to anything he set his mind to, whether it was mechanical, technical etc., so why not, in this case, carpentry? 

After completing his Junior year at high school Randall shrugged off the shackles of his childhood to become a trainee technician with the PMG (Postmaster General’s Department); a five year course in Telecommunications.  He left after completing three plus years of the course to take up radio announcing. He had (and still has) a wonderful speaking voice; deep, dulcet, mellifluous tones. His voice, over the years, has been admired by many, far and wide. Having set his heart on becoming a radio announcer he enrolled in the Jim Illiffe’s Radio and Television School.  In his spare time he attended classes. Some of my Aussie readers (of my vintage) might be familiar with the name “Jim Iliffe”.

A piece of trivia – but important trivia, I feel -

At the tender age of 17, Iliffe lied about his age and joined the Royal Australian Engineers at the outbreak of World War ІІ. Sent to Singapore he was on the Malay Peninsular when Japan entered the war. Jim was wounded in the leg and treated in a makeshift hospital in Singapore. The British surrendered the following day. Somehow he and some others made it to the docks.  They stole food supplies and a 16-foot boat.  Somehow, after sailing the open sea, unknown territory, they stumbled across some Dutch soldiers on an island.  Jim Iliffe, aboard an evacuation ship, was transported first to Perth, and then across to Melbourne, ending up back home to convalesce in Sydney, a month after the fall of Singapore. 

After the war ended, Iliffe became a radio announcer. In 1952 he started AIR-TV, the school, in Brisbane. When television entered our lives, Iliffe entered the television world.   He was quite a name and force in the industry in his day.  He passed away in 2005 at the age of 83.

Randall went to work on the kitchen…our new “country-style” kitchen.  Cypress pine was used for the cupboards. Dark brown ceramic tiles were used for the work bench and flashbacks.  As the carpenter’s assistant, I learned how to lay tiles and how to grout.  I was a handy side-kick.  New vinyl flooring that mimicked large tiles was laid. A new kitchen sink was installed along with a garbage disposal unit and a dishwasher

I didn’t know myself in my new kitchen.  It was wonderful. I loved it.  Randall had crafted a brilliant work area. It was more a “pleasure” area because I loved cooking and we regularly hosted dinner parties on Saturday evenings. The Saturday nights we weren’t entertaining others, I always presented a special dinner party for the two of us, candles and all.  

It was just as well I cherished every moment in my sparkling new kitchen because, as it turned out, those moments weren’t to last for long.

Noosa Heads and the area surrounding it have always been close to my heart.  Randall and I had spoken often of our desire to one day leave the city life and head up to the coast to live.  It was a dream we knew we would bring to fruition.

Randall was attending college a couple of nights a week studying for his Real Estate License.  It was also our intention to one day open our own real estate office up at the coast.

Ruska didn’t experience any more birds flying into his mouth; not that we witnessed, anyway. As he continued emptying his food bowls, I think his days of unintentional hunting were well in his past.

Sasha was still defiantly holed up in the greenhouse in Toowong, probably aimlessly roaming the streets a night.   Randall made regular greenhouse visits.  I made irregular greenhouse visits.  I’ve always known when I’m not welcome.  Call it a “sixth sense”; and my visits made me very upset; I felt so inadequate; so useless.

Having made our decision to pack up our swags and wares we put our properties on the market.  We gave notice to the tenant in our cottage in Cadell Street, Toowong that we were putting the house up for sale.  It was a very quick sale because the tenant bought the cottage.  He loved it as much as we had.  Again as an investment, we’d also bought another little house down the lower far end of Payne Street (Torwood), which we’d rented out to a couple of university students.  They proved to be far better tenants than the ones who’d tried to demolish the Payne Street house.   The two houses in Payne Street entered the “For Sale” market, and it didn’t take long for contracts to exchange hands.

Look out Sunshine Coast…we were on our way.

I’d suggested to Randall because we were changing our lifestyle…from city living to coastal living…we should take up a hobby that depicted the freedom; the open air; to seize the day and the ambience.  I suggested either golf or fishing.  He almost had a fit at both suggestions; but I wore him down. 

He had absolutely no interest in golf; and even less for fishing.  Apparently, so I was informed in lengthy descriptive detail, even as a little boy he hated fishing. always finding some excuse to get out of tossing a line into the water.

For his birthday that January, 1979 I bought him a book titled – “How to Catch a Fish”.  One may as well start at the very beginning, I figured; at the grass roots.  I also bought him a rod, a reel and all the fishing tackle required to catch a fish, including a tackle box.

To the day I die I will never forget the look on Randall’s face as he opened his birthday presents that 11th day of January!  He thought I’d finally flipped over to the dark side.  He was expecting the fellows in the white jackets to be knocking on our front door at any moment, ready to take me away with them in their padded van, to an equally padded cell. I’m sure his hand reached out to the phone to ensure that they were on their way.

In March, 1979 we were ready for our big move; our new adventure. We were off to the coast! Ruska already had shampooed and brushed his ginger fur after packing his bags and surfboard.  He was eager to go surfing.

Randall’s parents had built a new brick home on Grandview Drive, Coolum in readiness for when Father retired. His retirement was still a couple of years away, so the house was vacant other than on weekends when they visited from Brisbane.  The folks said we could use their new home until we found one of our own.  This was a great idea and one we jumped at willingly. To have accommodation upon our arrival without us having to go in search of same would allow us time to breathe; time to find a house of our own; and time to find suitable jobs. 

We set some ground rules with the folks.  When they visited on weekends they were to arrive empty-handed; they were not to bring anything with them other than their clothes.  Also, we would pay all utilities, including insurance while we lived in the house.  Our intention was not to stay there too long, but it allowed us a good stop-gap.  Everything went smoothly.

Randall and I paid a farewell visit to Sasha and to the elderly lady, explaining to her what was happening in our lives; but I stayed in the car.  I was much too upset to go through a final snubbing by Sasha.  I looked on from afar.  He knew I was there, I’m sure.

All loose ends were tied securely. Nothing was left to fate. We hired a small furniture removal van to transport what we’d not sold with the houses. Most of the space in the van was taken up with books, stereo, speakers, tape deck, television and VCR; the important stuff.  With both cars packed to the limit with our personal belongings and fishing gear, off we went; Randall in the Ford Cortina Ghia; Ruska and I in my grey and black 1959 MG Magnette Varitone (I’d christened the Magnette – “Remy”.  Yes…the same name as Remy, my black and white cat – Remy Martin used to be my favourite Cognac.  It probably still is, but I’ve not had any for a while).  

Leaving Brisbane after 14 years was bittersweet; because of Sasha not being with us, to share our new life, I shed tears while Ruska looked on solemnly through the gaps in his cat box.

We three settled into our new surroundings without a hiccup.  Randall and I decided we’d take a month off from work before looking for jobs. 

In the 14 years I’d been working with the Kolotex Group of Companies I rarely took holidays.  In total, through those 14 years at most I would’ve had six or seven weeks off from work.  And during those years there were periods where I worked two jobs; working in restaurants at night and on weekends.

The major thing stopping me from taking holidays (doing so was my own decision) was there had been so much happening within the company. I was enjoying my part in what was going on far too much to take time off.  I had no interest in taking holidays – scared I’d miss out on something! 

After all, John, my boss and I were the creators of branching out, enlarging the Queensland office, its duties and responsibilities. From a small office in Heindorf House, Queen Street, Brisbane (the main street of the CBD) with an original staff of two – John and me, then grew into three when we hired a young lad to pack stock, sales and marketing.  It was an exciting time. I joined the company in September, 1965 and left in 1979 when Randall and I moved up to the Sunshine Coast to live.  In January, 1970 John and I kicked off our joint marketing idea. The once small Queensland operation of Kolotex Group of Companies - which had grown larger than just the hosiery side of things, having taken over an Australian  womens' and mens' wear company as well as Australian-made metal mesh handbags and associated products' company during 1969 - packed up and left Heindorf House in its wake.   

We expanded into offices, warehouse and showrooms in a new building in Baxter Street, Fortitude Valley where and when our staff number grew from three to 15.

Randall and my first month living in the house at Coolum flew by in a blink of an eye. 

Ruska fell off the verandah of his new home one Saturday when Randall's parents were visiting for the weekend.  All I saw was a ball of ginger fur falling to the ground below.  

The land that the Coolum house was built upon fell away somewhat steeply on the eastern side, the ocean side...and, of course, Ruska overstepped his mark and down he went through the railings.  In a bit of a panic I raced to the interior stairs that led down beneath the house out to where he'd fallen, but by the time I got to the top of the stairs, Ruska was already standing at the sliding glass doors at the front verandah, unhurt, with a smirk on his face!

There was an ongoing discussion between Randall's folk and us whether the street side of the house...the western side was classified as the front; and the eastern side of the house facing the ocean was the rear of the house.  They believed that to be so, but Randall and I argued that the ocean side of the house was the front of the house; and we stuck by our argument!  It was a friendly, good-humoured argument.

Randall and I decided we deserved another four weeks of leisure before we put our heads down once again into working for a living.  Much to his surprise (and mine) he’d taken to the fishing caper like fish to water!  Because our time was our own, we fished by the tides and moon, and whatever else was conducive to the catching of fish.  If the tide was right at midnight, 3 am, 4 am…off we went.  And out we’d go with our surf rods around 4 pm to do it all over again until night fell. We mainly fished at Mudjimba Beach, at the mouth of the Maroochy River.

We always stopped fishing around 8 am in the mornings because we found between then and 4 pm the fish headed out to the deeper, cooler waters to play. 

Arriving back to the Coolum house one morning after a successful early fishing outing as we were unloading the car the postman rode by on his motor bike.  He pulled in and handed Randall a letter. I continued what I was doing, but soon came to a full stop when Randall handed me the letter. I didn’t recognise the writing.

Tears flooded down my face. The letter was from the elderly lady in Toowong with the greenhouse.  She’d found our address by visiting Conias Apollo, the real estate agency Randall had worked for in Milton Road, Toowong.

She’d taken Sasha to the vet; and felt we needed to know.  It was the same vet in Indooroopilly, Brisbane, where 12 years earlier, I’d taken Sasha to be neutered when he was still a kitten.

Without hesitation, we tossed our fishing gear in the garage area underneath the house; and after throwing the fish fillets into the fridge, we hastily showered and dressed.  Wasting no time, we knew what we had to do.

Within minutes it seemed, we were on our way to Brisbane…to pick up Sasha.  I think tears fell down my cheeks the whole trip - 127.5 kms (79 miles).  Trying not to draw attention for the" boys in blue" we sped along the highway and through Brisbane to the western suburb of Indooroopilly as fast as was allowable (and, no doubt, in spots, where not allowable)!

When we pulled into the veterinary surgeon’s car park, I flew out of the car leaving Randall in my wake.  Racing up to the receptionist I told the lass who we were and what our purpose was.  She ushered us into a room off from the reception area. As soon as I walked in, ahead of Randall, there in a wire cage was a ginger cat, Sasha.   

He looked directly at me and gave the loudest miaow I think I’d ever heard from him.  He recognised me immediately.  I was a mess, but I didn't care.  Tears streamed down my face as I reached for him. He snuggled into my arms, purring furiously. He snuggled his head into my neck.

I told the vet that I’d not, by any means or purposes deserted Sasha.  I told him how much I loved my cat. I explained in detail what had happened; how Sasha had left me, and no matter what I did; how hard I tried, he would have nothing to do with me.  He treated like I was a traitor or worse.   

The vet was sympathetic.  He said he believed me entirely. He’d seen many similar cases.  He also told us that he thought someone had tried to strangle Sasha; and that Sasha would, for the rest of his life, have a cough, but for us not to be concerned about it. It was just “one of those things”.  It wouldn’t interfere with his enjoyment of life.  Sasha was fine and would continue to be fine. 

And, boy, oh, boy…I was just fine, too.  I was over the moon!

After paying the vet for his services, we climbed back into the Cortina and headed northward.  For the entire trip back to Coolum, Sasha remained curled up in my lap, purring all the way “home”.

We, of course, wrote to the wonderful lady to thank her for getting in contact with us.  I was so grateful to that lady...a lady I really didn't know.

I know this may sound silly, but I don’t care.  I believed then, and I will always believe – Sasha had tired of being a delinquent, a street child and he wanted to come “home”.  He wanted to be back with me…back in my loving arms.  He sent out a message…and I received the message…loud and clear. 

That particular day was one of the happiest days of my life…the day Sasha came back into my life.  And if I may sound even sillier, I think, similar feelings applied to Sasha.  

Once we arrived at the house in Coolum, and thereafter, Sasha rarely left my side. I was forgiven for my transgressions. He and Ruska immediately recognised each other, too. 

The old master, the mentor had returned to fold. Ruska had a lot to learn. He was a willing student; and Sasha a wise tutor.

Oh!  Glory days….life was good…oh, so good!

This has turned into a never-ending story…there is still more to follow.
 

39 comments:

  1. How absolutely WONDERFUL. Tears here. Thank you.
    PS: My middle brother's birthday is January 11.

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  2. Hi, EC....

    Yes...I've been dying to get to this stage in the story...because I knew no one would know this was coming.! :)

    I even got misty-eyed when writing it...I always do, just thinking about that day. It was a great moment in life; and unforgettable. He was a wonderful cat, Sasha. I adored him; and he, me. . :)

    Ahh...so your brother is on the 11th January, too...I'm on 11th November. Thanks coming by, EC...I'm so glad you enjoyed this part of my story. :)

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  3. When a cat decides he's moving in we humans don't stand much chance. They'll work magic on everyone and everything around them to get what they want!

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  4. Hi AJ...Sasha wasn't moving in as such...he was returning home after having left a couple of years previously because he felt hurt (emotionally) by me. I'd gotten him as a kitten 12 years earlier.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  5. I am so glad you got Sasha back.

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  6. what an interesting life you have let, and an amazing story of about Sasha coming back home, thank goodness

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  7. Ah, the connection with Noosaville ! You have us all hooked !

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  8. Therein lies a tale of Sasha and his adventures during the absence. Don't you want to know it?

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  9. You're life has been so interesting - what I can't figure out is how you remember all those details of it - there is not a way I can do it.

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  10. So was I, Jerry...so was I. I wouldn't have believed it possible...but there he was as large as life...my beautiful mate. Thanks for popping in. :)

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  11. Hi there Linda....I was thrilled. We were thrilled to have Sasha back in the fold...he was too. I guess he figured there was no place like home, after all. :)

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  12. Hey there Helsie...Yes, I have a lot of connections with the Noosa area. I started going there as a small child. My brother was a Noosa Heads Lifesaver as was my first husband; I worked there; had a business there etc.,...and the story goes on and on....

    Thanks for coming in. :)

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  13. Yes, Grannie Annie....Sasha's couple of years as a runaway living in a greenhouse housing cacti and roaming streets would've been filled with some furry moments, I'm sure!

    Thanks for popping in, Annie. :)

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  14. Hi there Sandie, I've always had a good memory. It's just one of those things, I guess. I sometimes think I inherited it from my Nana....she used to tell us so many detailed stories of her childhood and younger years from when my late brother and I were children. So many moments in life, no matter how small or trivial they may seem are worth remembering, I believe.

    Many of my friends don't remember a lot of things like I do...but I do have one friend with whom I worked when we were both teenagers in the law office in Gympie (in the early to mid-Sixties) and she, too, has a wonderful recall. When we write emails to each other they go on forever! lol

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  15. I will always remember the date Elvis died, it's my birthday.
    I much prefer cooking with gas, I've done it all my life until moving here. Now I have electric hotplates and oven. I'm still getting used to them after 3+ years, but I'll never like them.
    I'm so glad Sasha finally made it back to you.

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  16. Same with me these days, River re having an electric stove. I rent, so I have no choice. I cooked for years professionally, too, and always on gas.

    Well, you definitely would never forget the date of Elvis leaving the building...that's for sure. :)

    Yes...you can imagine how glad I was to have Sasha back with us. He was special.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  17. My heart bleeds for animals. They are so undervalued where their intelligence and emotions are concerned. They have two desires: to love and to be secure in that love. And their memories are longer than ours! I'm so glad the story started, and ended, well.....but good grief for all the middle!!

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  18. Hi there lotta joy....everything you say is so true. Too often they don't get the credit they well deserve. They are very special creatures.

    It sure was an extremely happy day...one of mixed emotions because I shed so many tears...but also so many smiles.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  19. Life is always better with cats!

    Sounds like there was a lot of stripping going on, too. ;)

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  20. It sure is, RK. They are what keep me sane...and that's a huge job for them! :)

    Well, one has to do something in one's spare time, RK...pole-dancing hadn't yet come into fashion! Thanks for coming by. :)

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  21. I am glad you told us the aside story about Jim Iliffe. HIs story should also be made into a movie! It reminds me of a book that was fascinating to me..."The War Journal of Damon "Rocky" Gause". I need to do a post about it.
    Love that you got your Sasha back!

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  22. Hi Kay...I wonder whether to put that side story about Jim Iliffe in or not because I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested...but I thought it was of interest. He was a revered, respected man...a good man. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about him. People like him shouldn't be forgotten.

    Dear Sasha...he'd had his adventure out in the big world and he decided he'd had enough and it was time to come back to me...he made the decision and sent out the call. And I was so, so happy that he did. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  23. "wondered" even....

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  24. Great story! I can't comprehend how depraved you would have to be to try and strangle a cat. Hopefully Sasha tore up the perpetrator pretty good.

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  25. I hate to hear when animals have been abused! Poor Sasha - and I'm so glad to hear he wanted you and your comfort. My late Sophie was an orange tabby and I've always had a soft spot for them. The scene in Breakfast at Tiffanys, when she left Cat for a bit broke my heart!

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  26. I can't comprehend it, either, Dexter. And knowing what Sasha was like when faced with adversity, I'm sure he put up a good fight. He was brave fellow. I hope he scratched the eyes out of whoever tried, if that was the case.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  27. Hey there, Lynn...I still get upset when I think about it. He was my special mate, that's for sure.

    I, too, howl my eyes out every time I see that scene in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Oh, do I cry! I can't help myself, no matter how many times I've seen the film and. I've seen it many times over...I have a copy of it , too. It's one of my all-time favourite movies. I love it.

    Thanks for dropping in. :)

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  28. A good ending there.
    Love the car also!

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  29. Hi Adullamite...yes, it was a good result, that's for sure!

    The Magnette aka Remy was a great little - as solid as a rock. A sledge hammer would make a dent in the body of it. I loved it.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  30. Oh so heartbreaking it must have been to get that letter. I'm glad it had a happy ending. One of our cats once fell off a balcony down 2 floors. I do think it is true that cats have nine lives!

    That MG by the way is a wonderful, wonderful car! :)

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  31. I loved my Magnette...it was such a solidly-built little car too...leather interior and polished wood dash board. It was great.

    Yes...that letter really winded us both, me in particular...but what a wonderful outcome came from it. Thanks for coming by, Jenny. :)

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  32. Sasha came to the realization that "There's no place like home" :)

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  33. He sure did, OE...and he was welcomed back to the fold with open arms.

    Good to see you...my best wishes to you and your new bride. :)

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  34. I teared up and I'm glad you got Sasha back.

    Funny what we calls things. A flashback is a backsplash here in the states.

    Janice~

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  35. Awww........hello from a new follower x

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  36. Hey there Janice...we all have our own dialects/sayings/words as such, don't we? I was glad to have Sasha back, too. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  37. G'day, John. Welcome....how did you stumble across my blog?

    Either which way, thanks for stumbling by. :)

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  38. I have just installed iStripper, so I can watch the best virtual strippers on my desktop.

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