A is also for Alice

 

Alice Boo Boyle

Alice Boo Boyle

And then came Alice Boo Boyle.

And the adoration of all things feline amplified.

Alice Boo Boyle lived all of her 9 lives and then some. She parted ways with the world but five years ago,  a fine vintage, aged 18 years, 9 months.

Alice Boo Boyle lived as she loved.

Her love of puffed wheat cereal, brocoli, pasta, corn on the cob was legendary. As was her love of food generally. The seal on our family fridge replaced not once but twice as she clawed her way into the ice box in search of …well…anything!

Alice was a cat to which poetry was penned. A cat to which new music was composed and performed. A cat who brought together the community for milestone birthdays, her 10th and her 18th.

When Alice passed from this life to the next, I was five years into my love affair with a cat that was all mine, Flora Boyle. If I’m honest, Flora was Alice and Alice was Flora.

There were trips South, with Flo in tow and these two black beauties would face off in the family home! But Flora was Alice, Alice Flora – in each other they saw their themselves. And they simply purred*

A post written in 2012 when Alice Boo Boyle. as Albert had done 18 years earlier, cashed in her one way ticket to heaven.

Sums it all up, all 18 years, 9 months of adoration, love and respect for the cat that built upon Bert Boyle’s legacy :Alice Boo Boyle Obituary

* not really true – it just read so well!

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A is for Albert

Nan and I ( with Albert the cat)

Albert, Nan and Me

Albert Boyle

The first cat I ever loved with my whole heart.

He loved me back too.

My Father, many years after Albert passed away, stated that we had a cat in our family to absorb teenage angst and frustration. This disclosure may explain the fact why Albert booked a one way ticket to heaven as I neared the tender age of 13. Good old Bert had seen the writing on the wall, it was time to go!

Albert was much-loved. He loved the other Boyle pets as much as I did – though his love crossed a line.

Our budgie Bruce, allowed to fly freely around the house one afternoon, had his fate sealed when Albert emerged from the garage to play catch and kiss ( of death) in the lounge room.

My pet mouse Mushroom, brought from Corrimal Pet store for 50c, handed over by my Mother on a shopping expedition – ‘ I’m going to buy a paddle pop!’

Poor Mushroom, who escaped her cage, and went missing for a number of weeks, only to return ‘home’ pregnant. Babies delivered safely, Mother Mushroom proud as punch. Trusty Bert joined in the celebrations, gobbling them up during a 3am feed.

Albert Boyle you broke my heart on a number of occasions.

But the little tears mended with ease when your perfect purr started up, or your simply stared cross-eyed in my direction.

You paved the way for Alice Boo Boyle to come bounding into the family. But this post is yours. You will always be my number one, the holy grail of all things cat.

 

Breakfast Lust Story

 

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I was to devote the month of September to all things feline….but today I found myself in one of my favourite parts of Sydney and now feel compelled to recycle a post from 2012.

It seems a life time ago that I ate at Ruby’s Diner, Waverly….so after a morning of indulgence, bread buying and a massage in Clovelly, I did just that.

I have long had a love affair with the cafe….it inspired the story below. Every word is true. And the aftermath, the story passed onto the waiter, Jack’s comment and my disappointment.

But that was then and this is now – and the food, the coffee, the atmosphere is still on point!!

Catch Up With A Mate

A short story…about breakfast!

She had a crush on the waiter at her local café.

It was impossible not too.

He possessed a curly mop of hair, unruly, untamed, his skin was olive and he towered over her, she liked men who were taller than her.

Then there was his accent ( which she had from good authority was Canadian) and lastly, his confidence, self belief…that was what sealed the deal…this café kid was cool.

And he knew it….

She’d been frequenting this café on and off for the past month…always hopeful that her scrambled eggs with mushrooms on the side would be delivered to her table by him.

If this wasn’t the case, she didn’t mind…she had a back up plan….she would order two coffees, one at a time, thus increasing the odds of a brief encounter.

She loved his flirtatious nature…Or was it all in her head?

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Born Purring

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When I was born, my Mother and Father noted that instead of crying , I purred.

I was a happy baby, a happy toddler, a happy person.

Today is the first day of Spring, the start of new month and therefore a fresh start for September blog posts. This year I have set about writing nostalgic posts and recycling old content. This month I will solely dedicate to my love of all things feline.

I was born purring after all…..

The slideshow provides evidence that my love affair has been life long. The photo of my baptism candle depicts a girl with a clowder of cats at her feet. It sets the scene oh so purrectly. The flame burns bright for Albert, Alice, Flora, family cats who have shaped me into the person I am today. It flickers for the four pawed friends I am yet to meet.

As a one year old, I read books on cats ( see picture) . My reading buddy was Albert, the family Siamese. He was my childhood best fur friend.

As a 20 month old, I took to strangle hugging cats on farms ( see picture) I had so much love to give and cats were powerless to refuses my advances. Although the image implies death was not too far off for the tabby I like to say it was transfixed by love.

As a three-year old I lived abroad in Canada. Cats went weak at the knee’s when they heard my Aussie accent. Like putty in my hands, I was the mini Aussie cat whisperer. No Canadian cat was safe and I had lots of love, and strangle hugs to give.

My life long love affair with all things felines is a sure thing, just as the sun rises each morning. There is much to written about and I have 30 days ahead to do just that.

I was born purring after all……

 

Hollywood Walk of Fame ( Shame)

As Catch up with a Mate month 2017 come to an end – a nostalgic post.

Picture this: a 23-year-old Austinmer girl catches a plane from her temporary home in London, bound for the US, to reunite with a best friend, studying at San Diego University.

After much socialising and sight-seeing, best friend encourages solo travel to L.A, and proposes a nights stay at the Venice Beach Cotel ( Hostel). Girl from Austinmer, via London takes advice to heart and catches a grey hound bus L.A bound.

Girl from Austinmer is lost for words, over come by the sights, sounds, smells and size of the concrete monstrosity that is L.A. Venice Beach is her refuge, along with countless vodka and oranges downed at the hostel bar. Venturing out into the night with new-found friends, she is refused entry at a Santa Monica Bar. Aussie charm open’s doors, but no sooner had she entered the club, that the urge to be sick is overwhelming.

Sitting the gutter, feeling somewhat better, being comforted by ….someone….she is escorted back to the hostel.

‘ Girl do you want a tatoo?’ is the last thing she remembers being asked, before vomiting, into her hostel room bath tub.

Girl from Austinmer, sits feeling so sorry for herself the next morning on a bus tour of Hollywood. Jumbo sized lemonade from 7- Eleven in hand, as the tour weaves and winds its way across the city. She is sick countless times.

At midday, the bus tour sees her alight at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is underwhelming, it is dirty, it smells. The glitz and glamour of the movie industry is nowhere to be seen.

She walks up and down the boulevard, glancing over names in pavement,  Michael Jackson, Shirley Temple, but the heat of the day forces her to take shelter under the cover of a shop awning.

Then a voice: smooth, velvety, deep, croons in her direction:

‘ Girrll, you qualified!!’

The effects of her hangover takes hold, muddled head, slow comprehension – did he mean her?

The voice comes at her again ‘ Oooo Girrrlllll, yes, you, You qualified!!’

The girl from Austinmner realises the man’s comments are intended for her. He points at her lower back, smiling broadly, revealing a sea of white teeth.

She swivels at pace, turning her back towards the reflective glass of the shop front, pulls up her t-shirt.

Bunnies, two humping bunnies, making sweet sweet love have been drawn in thick black texture at the base of her spine.

Face red, she pulls down her t-shirt, hikes up her pants, holds head high, composes self and heads to towards tour bus.

Bestie greets girls from Austinmer at San Diego Grey Hound Bus terminal. The ‘ tatoo’ and the story surrounding its origins are retold.  Camera lights flash – paparazzi. Laughter, plenty of laughter.

Yet all I could hear was that  deep velvety voice ‘ Girl, you qualified’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High School Horror

This tale, repressed for many years, finally surfaces.

It is a true story. Every school teachers nightmare, to the student, incomprehensible.

I am dropped off by my Mother, on her way to work at Holy Cross Primary School Helensburgh, at the Hindu Temple situation on the outskirts of town.

It was 7.26am, the morning mist heavy, parts of the temple and surrounding bushland were cloaked in soft white. At the entrance to the holy site, were numerous pairs of shoes, neatly lined up.

Alone, on the outskirts of town, mist and fog, pairs of shoes without owners, at a temple in Helensburgh, a place so ungodly it was considered ‘ Other’, not part of the South Coast or Sydney. As a Catholic student I was out of my depth. I knew very little about Hinduism and rarely left my beachside residence for a suburb 200 metres above sea level.

Just as my craving for company that morning reached fever pitch, the two buses, containing the entire contents of Year 11 arrived.

The group of 80 plus 16 and 17 year olds entered the temple on mass, lead by Head Teachers and coordinators of Religion. We were here to learn first hand about diversity and devotional practice.

I don’t know about the rest of my class but all I could think about was the paired shoes at the entrance. Who owned them? Why were they left unaccompanied?

I remember sounds from the surrounding shrubbery, the birds songs, the trickle of water from nearby streams, the crunch of the sand beneath feet as we walked around the temple, with its unsealed surface.

I remember a small crowd of students circling a ‘ statue’ which lay face down, seemingly having fallen from its base the night before. Could wind really be that strong to uproot concrete fixtures? Had the temple been vandalised over night?

Students that had been busying themselves at the far corners of the shrine, ogling over points of interests began to flock back to the scene of the fallen ‘ statue’.

Camera flashed, chatter escalated, tears formed, nervous laughter.

The ‘statue’ was a person, a real person, a young women, not much older than my school comrades.

In that moment, lives changed. Our innocence ( if there was any left) shattered, we had witnessed the brutality of life, the hardship, sorrow and levels of desperation and despair.

Teachers ushered us back onto the bus, doing their best to dispel rumours that has begun to circulate ‘ I think I know her?’ , ‘ Did you see her face?’. They made the collective decision to proceed with the itinerary of the day, cathedrals and synagogues. We drove of in the direction of Sydney.

As for me and no doubt others, my mind stayed well and truly in Helensburgh, that day. 22 years later, the imagery of shoes, countless pairs of shoes still haunts me. And the overwhelming sense that morning, as an early drop off excursion goer, of being horribly alone.

Afterward

The story made the Illawarra Mercury the following day – but in an age before digital print, one must ask themselves, Did the really happen at all?

I kept the letter that my School distributed to our parents / guardians the following day – it makes for an interesting read and some what supports my memories of events ; February 23rd 1995

32 hour Party People

Having returned home for the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend, over a red wine at Headlands Hotel, Austinmner with the parentals, the subject for another nostalgic post took hold.

The discussion was around music, and my extensive collection of ticket stubs from late 90’s, early 2000’s concerts. I think I made the comment that ‘It wasn’t always fun and games back then’….

It was December 98. Main characters assembled : Kate S, Jess, C- Ron and movie extra Chris Hopkins. We were attending UK electronic music act ‘The Prodigy” at Selina’s, Coogee Bay Hotel. We were overly excited, ill-equipped, naive, from Wollongong.

The gig was EPIC. Like nothing we had ever experienced. The gig was a mosh pit from start to finish and I feared for my life on many occasions. The big beat music exhausted everyone, sweat dripped from the roof, body heat reached fever pitched. It was a life affirming.

The next morning we awoke from our temporary resting place at the YHA Sydney city , and rallied the strength to do it all again. Our next musical adventure was to be Homebake, an all Australian outdoor music concert in Hyde Park.

We were overly excited, ill-equipped, naive, from Wollongong. Having underestimated the energy zapping nature of the gig the night before, we had little in reserves for an all day outdoor festival.

And it rained. Homebake became Mudbake. I recall very little of the festival other than Jess had a plastic water bottle, filled with vodka, that she had offered to C- R0n who was thirsty? He took a large gulp, eyes widening as he did – and not one to waste, the alcohol was swallowed – followed by anger, silent treatment and Jess’s laughter.

We packed it in early – the rain, the mud, our depleted energy levels, the Prodigy drum and bass from the night before outclassing the more conservative Aussie music scene that day.

We boarded a city rail train at Central and accepted our fate – the long train ride South.

Some 20 minutes into the journey, in our carriage full of festival misfits, coming down from chemical highs, the train came to a sudden halt.

Jolted out of my slumber, I recall thinking the train had run over a bike, collided with a metal object on the tracks.

Time passes and we de not move. We look out the window of our carriage to see men in forensic uniforms walking up and down the train tracks.

I am not longer sure who forms part of this movie of memories – Kate S, Jess are surely with me, C- Ron and Chris Hopkins, are they in the other carriage?I remember seeing the men in what appeared to be white space suits thinking – is this really happening, has our train really collided with a human being on Saturday night at Allawah Train station?

It was 1am before us Gong girls and boys get home.

The next morning, or was it a few days later, I read in the paper that our train had indeed hit a person, and that he remained unidentified, the John Doe of Allawah train station.

Fast forward to last night and it is some 19 years after Kate S, Jess, C-Ron and Chris Hopkins had been 32 hour party people. I did on online search to see if the John Doe Allawah case had ever solved.

The search revealed nothing.

Sometime when I think of all the adventures I had in my youth I almost have to pinch myself and ask ‘Did that really happen’?’

When an internet search does not verify my version of the truth I am left wondering….

But I will always have the music….

 

 

 

 

 

Run DMC – It’s Like That

Over conversation in Camperdown Memorial Park with my favourite Brazilian Australian family, I took a trip down memory lane.

My friend was eating a late lunch, fueling himself for an evening concert at the Sydney Opera House, part of Vivid 2017 Musical line up. This friend, possessing a vinyl collection so extensive it suggests he was born in the wrong musical decade, was attending the Avalanches concert. Aussie Hip Hop Royalty – the Australian ‘ Beastie Boys’.

Those who know me know my questionable taste in music, but at the mention of the Avalanches, for a brief millisecond, I was able to draw from my lapsed appreciation of true talent.

‘ Oh, I saw the Avalanches back in 1997, at Woonona Bulli RSL club. They had just released the hit ‘ Since I left you’

‘ Wow!!’ remarks my friend ‘ That would have been the perfect time to see them!!’

I have not checked in with my friend to enquire how the band, some 20 years later, were received by fans old and new. Rather, I have spent time reminiscing about my late teens and early 20’s, when attending music concerts consumed entire pay cheques.

Today I looked over ticket stubs from the late 90’s and early 2000’s – Blur, Portishead, Moby, Faithless, Ben Folds Five, Veruca Salt, Pulp, Alanis ( x 3),Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day to name a few.

And then the questionable – Ricky Martin, Human Nature, Enrique Iglesias.

Oh, and don’t get me started on Australian bands – The Whitlams, Crowded House ( adopted from New Zealand) Powderfinger, Silverchair, Regurgitator…..

But the search was undertaken with a particular ticket stub in mind – Run DMC,  the American Hip Hop group that hailed from Queens, NYC, had played at Waves NightClub Towradgi Beach. I was certain of it – I had been there, but some 19 years after the event – it seems implausible.

Ticket stub found, Run DMC played in Towradgi, greater Wollongong City, June 12th, 1998. I was 19 years old and wearing a woollen jumper and high heals. To say I was ill prepared an understatement. In need of a musical education and about to witness a live concert by the globes most influential hip-hop act. In Wollongong.

Next time I see my Brazilian Australian friend, I want to ask how the Avalanche concert was. I want to chat to him about that night in June, 1997, when I wore a woollen jumper and high heals to the Run DMC concert. I know we can both have a good laugh about that…and then some!!

 

 

 

 

 

Surprise

With a keen interest in the recent birth a primary school friend’s third baby this story surfaces.

I was 11, turning 12 the very next day ( oh the elation!!) and an all girls Friday night sleep over had been organised. Everyone was invited, all 8 of us Year Six girls.

There was to be popcorn, a horror movie, ghost stories and very little sleep. Our excitement was palpable. The school day could not finish quick enough, and when the school bell tolled, heralding in the weekend, I recall party invites squealing.

But not me….for some reason I was not walking with my girl pals to the party venue – it was to be a pack of 7 not 8. I first had to go on a shopping expedition with my parents, which was to include a long stint in the local bank.

Then I could join my friends.  The host knew this in advance but neither of us knew how long it would eat in to party time.

This was the era before mobile phones- 1990. If I had been carrying a medium-sized brick in my back pack, it would have been ringing off the hook as I stood side my side my parents in the bank queue : ‘ Where are you?’ ‘ How much longer are you going to be? ‘

But there were no phones and the bank teller explained that it would that 48 hours to get currency for our impending Fijian family holiday. It was an explanation that felt like it took 48 hours – ‘ I had a slumber party to get too’ I wanted to scream, instead I opted to slump in complimentary waiting chair , head in my hands, nervous energy surging through my body.

‘ Where have you been? It doesn’t matter!! Surprise!! Happy Birthday!!’

The host closed the front door behind me and I was swept up into a celebration just for me.

A sea of friendly faces all looking in my direction, a birthday cake, complete with candles, beckoning me to make a wish.

I am overwhelmed, taken aback, that my friend had gone to so much effort to make me, humble, unassuming me, feel special, centre of attention special.

My mind could not compute- but this is YOUR party I wanted to say, please don’t shine a light on me, I just want to be a wall-flower. Just being part of this social occasion elevating me to levels of social anxiety never previously experienced. And now this…..

‘ Make a wish Kate! Happy 12th Birthday’

I have never forgotten this brief moment in time. This person made me feel special, signalled me out for some undivided attention with only the best of intentions. The fact that is made me feel a nervous wreck, second guessing my self-worth, a cascading downward spiral of emotions she could never have known.

This young girl has gone on the be an inspiration to many, successful on oh so many fronts. None more so than as a Mother, to three beautiful, most cherished children.

This story is written to thank that person for noticing the beauty within, long before I became aware, let alone comfortable with it.

You have an amazing capacity to bring out the very best in others.

Thank you. I am lucky to have crossed paths with you all those years ago.

To Be With You – Mr Big

Down South yesterday for the quarterly hair cut and colour, the drive from Austinmer to Shellharbour, the perfect amount of time for a nostalgic post to take shape.

The South Coast, or ‘ Coal Coast’ as it is now referred to by the bearded and the hip, was in fine form yesterday, the sun shone, the ocean glistened blue and the Illawarra escarpment, bursting with an autumnal glow.

I was listening to the Coal Coasts band of choice , ‘Shinging Bird – Black Opal’ . I had down right refused to take the 45 minute drive without there cd and song six and seven were on repeat. But in between the repetition, my mind drifted to a moment in time, some seven years earlier when I received an out of the blue phone call.

It was the beginning of 2010. I was not in a particularly happy place. When consumed by sadness, such was the tendency to shut people out, decline invitations in favour of my own company.

That was how I came to decline the invitation of my life long friend, one of my most supportive allies – Mim – and her Hen’s weekend. I just could not face it. I was an anomaly in guest list – 6 years older than most of the girls and not part of her close-knit group of school mates. But like all on the guest list, I loved and admired the hen. Reason enough to go?

The invitation was declined and I busied myself with the blues.

The phone rang.

Was it Friday or Saturday night?

The fact that I answered it took even me by surprise as often when faced an inner battle with black, the phone rings out, goes to voice mail.

‘ Hello’

Laughter, lots of it can be heard down the phone.

‘ Kate, I had to call you’

It is Mim.

‘ We are playing the first pop song YOU introduced me to – I had to call you’

Coming down the phone line is the tune ‘ To Be With You ‘ by Mr Big – a sure-fire hit from the mid 1990’s.

‘ Kate, are you there?’

I am in shock, had I know idea I had this kind of influence in Mim’s musical education – if I had known, perhaps I would have introduced her to David Bowie, a Whitney Houston classic, Michael Jackson – Mr Big???

‘ I love this song because it makes me think of you’

I don’t remember what I said to Mim, I just recall the joy in her voice,  the laughter of the group of girls in the background, singing at the top of their lungs ‘ I’m the one who wants to be – with – you’

Mim’s call induces intense feelings of guilt – I should be there, celebrating in person instead of home alone on the couch with Flora. It was as if the call snapped my out of my sadness, if only temporarily, to remind me that I did matter to people, people like Mim.

The phone conversation ended – a champagne bottle had popped in the background and I had encouraged Mim, who does not drink, to go and at least have a sip for me.

That conversation was 7 years ago, I have never forgotten it. That bolt from the blue, totally unexpected, shaking me out of my head, and piercing my heart. Whilst it did induce guilt, the overarching feeling it left me with was one of connection. It has never left.

I have no idea why this story surfaced yesterday, it took even me by surprise. The Coal Coast has a way of doing that I guess, the more time I spend South of Sydney, the more I find myself reflecting on my past in order to make sense of it all. Write it down, get it out there, move forward.

Note this Coal Coast chick is currently answering the phone, accepting social invitations and being much more careful on my musical influence on the young.

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