While I was growing up outside Sydney, Australia, my father often told me stories about his father.
My grandfather, Albert Eldred Denham, left home to make his own way back when the world was wide. Home was the selection on Brokenshaft Creek, west of Orange, New South Wales. Al had come with his family from Shanklin, Isle of Wight, at the age of seven. He was the fourth of six children, and the farm was getting pretty small by the time he turned twenty-one, in 1890.
He and his younger brother Bert put together a business which filled a small niche in the Colonial economy. They would travel the outback, the western plains of New South Wales, trading small amounts of goods, and working at any available jobs when there was nothing to be traded.
It started, I suppose, when Oliver adopted us. Oliver is a big orange marmalade cat with white feet, white belly, and a little bit of white around his nose. For a twenty-pound animal armed with the usual set of razor-sharp claws and impressive teeth he is surprisingly peaceful. If the doorbell rings, he disappears. If a strange cat approaches him, he gives one hiss just to show his teeth, and disappears. If a visitor tries to stroke his soft fur he disappears. He loves finding boxes, cabinets, and corners to hide in. About the only thing that is almost guaranteed to bring him out of hiding is food. He was a tiny, starving, kitten when he showed up on out doorstep a few years ago, and has never forgotten what being hungry feels like.