Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Many years ago my wife and I taught school in the Indian and Eskimo villages north of Fairbanks in Alaska.  In our last year with the Yukon-Koyukuk School District we were transferred to a village that had no District housing available.   We had friends in the village and one of the elders offered us his old log cabin on the outskirts of the village. 

The cabin had been derelict for at least a decade and the windows and door were broken, the roof needed repair and the cabin was full of vermin.  

We went into Fairbanks and bought window panes, insulation, sheet rock, roofing material and a gravity-fed oil burner heating stove.   We spent two weeks making the 16x16 cabin livable.

 While we were in Fairbanks we also went by a cat rescue facility and found a two year old, eighteen pound, Maine Coon Cat that we decided we would need to take care of the vermin that lived in and under the cabin.

Alaska winter

We left Alaska after that year

Alaska Spring

Hobbes was our first cat.   Hobbes immediately attached himself to me.  Over the next ten years Hobbs was my best friend.   If I was working on a ladder he would be up there with me – if I had my tool box open he would be there inspecting it – if I was reading a book I would be startled by an 18 pound fuzzy cannon ball dropping into my lap.   I lost my best friend about twelve years ago and I still miss him.

Three years after we left Alaska, while living in Kentucky, we got a baby Ragdoll kitten.

This cat is my wife’s shadow.   Everywhere my wife goes the cat is right there.   The cat likes me and she accepts attention from me, but there is no doubt that the cat has adopted my wife.  

Our girl is now eighteen years old and we know that we shall soon loose her – and that will be a trauma, especially for my wife.    My wife is awaken by the cat each morning – they go downstairs together and the cat waits in the kitchen to be fed.   They interact all the time: my wife talks to the cat and the cat talks back.   My wife sings to the cat.  They have a relationship beyond human/animal.

 We very often have to spell around the cat because the cat knows what we are saying.   I honestly believe that the cat understands quite a bit of our language.   One of us can say it is time to go to bed and the next thing we know the cat is rounding us up to go to bed.  If we are going to have tuna or chicken or salmon we can’t state it or she will beat us into the kitchen to get her share. 

We not only talk to her, but she talks to us when she decides she wants something or wants us to do something.   This is the type of interaction you don’t have with a dog. 

When we loose her it will be a while before we have another cat.   I don’t think we will ever have another dog because dogs are too much maintenance.   We have done our living in the woods and living in the back country, and that is the place to own a dog.  But now that I have grown older we are living closer to town – and the type of lifestyle we lead really doesn’t lend itself to a dog.    

But a cat in the house is a comfort, and we probably will have another cat at some time.

the Ol’Buzzard


  1. I would love to have a cabin like that.

    That was a big cat, mine are only about 12 pounds.

  2. Love this post! You two certainly were the hardy pioneer types, weren't you? And I know what you mean about having to spell things so the cat won't understand. My cat HRH understands many, many English words. She speaks English much better than I speak Cat. Shows which of us has the brains in the family.


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