G'day! Pull up a chair! Join me at the kitchen table for a chat...let's toss a few thoughts around about the state of this crazy but wonderful world we inhabit. There's lots to discuss! Make yourself comfortable! Would you like a glass of wine?
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
Red Arrow marks the spot...Grandview Drive, Coolum with Mt. Coolum to left in background
Mount Coolum....lookin at it from the southern side
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
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
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
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
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
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
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).
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
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
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
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.
days….life was good…oh, so good!
This has turned into a never-ending
story…there is still more to follow.