Of course, the reason cats get in the way of my photographs is because they are always around the house, gardens and kitchen in particular; always on the lookout for food, a quick cuddle or a bit of a walk.
One cat who insisted on preening in front of the camera was Connecticat. And here he is as a grown-up in Booragoon, W.A.
The two boys and I were living in our little handmade farm house surrounded by our own landscaped gardens, vegetable kitchen gardens and the farm animals.
Josh and I had finished visiting a friend in Lismore and while walking to the car to come home, heard a kitten mewling. Josh was small enough to fit under the pylons of the building and emerged with a wee black and white kitten that he promptly owned. The kitten was delighted. As I recall it was winter and the poor little thing must have taken shelter under the block of units. He purred non-stop for the 45 minute drive back home.
I asked Josh what name he would give the kitten and he said that we had connected with the cat. Well, that became the kitten’s name. Once back at the farm, our resident black and white cat Rorscharch was interested but fairly sanguine about this new bundle of fur. Mind you, the new bundle was very interested in Rorscharch and kept close to him. Smooched against him, played with his tail and generally pawed him all over.
We had picked Rorscharch up from a green grocer in Mullumbimby when he was a wee kitten a couple of years before mainly because we had field mice in the feed shed next to the cow bails and the chicken coop. We needed a cat quickly and Rorks, as he became affectionately known, was just the ticket.
Because it was a rural property I had installed a second hand slow combustion stove that filled several purposes – cooking, water heating and warming the house in general. I was and still remain enamoured of the reuse of materials rather following the current trend to buy everything brand spanking new. I am not the ideal type of consumer a capitalist society wants, needs and/or loves to encourage. That slow combustion stove was as heavy as lead!! And we had to devise rollers to get it into situ without damaging the beautiful new floors!
My sister came back from her 3 year jaunt around the world following the ‘hippy trail’ and moving into Europe as well at the end of 1976 and visited me on the farm. She made us a deadline to shift into the house. So we finished the kitchen and inside trimmings before the Christmas of 1976/77. She and I constructed and sanded benches for the kitchen and finished the window and door trimmings. We shifted in for that Christmas and I cut a branch from a tree and stood it proudly in a bucket of sand in the kitchen and we decorated it (well sort of). I have never been into Christmas but hey, when you have two kids and a sister on hand, you gotta go where the majority wants. So I did.
Back to the cats – both of them loved that fire as cats always do. They learnt not to put their paws anywhere near the stove top but loved sitting on the open door of the oven that heated the kitchen up very quickly. I spread cushions over the door so they could enjoy the heat. We all sat close to the stove on carpets, rugs and bedding on cold nights.
The two cats became inseparable except when I was taking photographs of trees and gardens. So here are some photographs of Connecticat with the greenery! Rorscharch just lay about the house when he wasn’t mousing in the feed shed.
It was, in many ways, an idyllic life style. The boys grew up understanding plants and life cycles. Both learned to cook and keep their clothes clean and mended. They learned to be independent which is how I considered my role as their mother. We grew crops for market and for us and our neighbours, milked cows and gathered eggs. All the things you think of with farms except on a reduced scale. It was a subsistence farm that kept us and made some cash which bought treats and I considered as pin money.
All of us, including the cats, lived ‘the good life’. Both cats would trot behind me in the mornings when I went to milk the cow(s). Warm milk!! Ah. They loved it. I delighted in squirting milk into their faces. Great fun. Very 1970s, very hippy and very satisfying.
All things change however and now we are scattered all over the place and both Connecticat and Rorscharch are dead.
Rorscharch from old age and Connecticat because he was skittled by a car after I had taken them both by plane to be with us for our sojourn in Perth.