a pet at last or a deadly rival

Dear Uma: The best part of the visit was seeing you again and the worst part was you leaving so soon.

Dear Uma:

The best part of the visit was seeing you again and the worst part was you leaving so soon. Of course if Juan is going to be ill it is better he do it in the USA where he has health insurance; I totally understand the reason for your hasty departure, but I am sorry he wasn’t sicker

Wait a second; I don’t mean that quite the way it came out, I mean if you had to leave it is too too bad Juan’s illness turned out to be nothing more than a bad case of indigestion. That still doesn’t sound right; I am going to have to trust you know what I mean.

Pete and I noticed after you had gone that the two places of the many we wanted to show you were both in BC: Atlin, and the Liard Hot Springs. We also had Telegraph Creek on the list and it too is in BC. There are some nice places to visit in the Yukon, just not really close to Watson Lake; we will get to them next time you are here. I am beginning to think your visits are cursed: first the bear close up and now Juan getting sick.

Wouldn’t you know Pete would get his first e-mail from Andrew the day before you arrive with Juan? It seemed to me he handled it very well, don’t you think? It helps a lot that Juan is so charming and so interested in everything northern, though he could’ve reined in his feelings on hunting and fishing just a little. Didn’t you tell him that hunting and fishing are the main reasons Pete is here? Guess we can’t anticipate everything, can we?

The day after you’d gone, the day Pete drove you guys to Whitehorse to catch your flight, a cat showed up at our place. Not just any cat, but a gigantic Siamese-y looking critter that’s obviously been trying to live wild and not having a lot of success.

I called Cee to come and have a look at her and tell me whether or not it was sick and/or dangerous. Apparently, she will be fine; she just needs some rest and some food, both of which Cee assumed I would be providing after expressing her happiness for me in having the good fortune to have attracted this magnificent cat to my home (‘magnificent’ being her word, not mine.) and congratulating me on finally having a pet of my own.

Not wanting to appear heartless, I went to the store and stocked up on those wee cans of cat food as well as a large bag of dry stuff, stopping at Cee’s on my way home with it to check and see if I had bought the appropriate food for this vagabond female. Cee approved my choices but pointed out that I would also need to buy a cat litter box and the stuff to put in it. I reminded her the cat has been managing without indoor plumbing for who knows how long; was a cat toilet really necessary? I would put her outdoors every few hours, I assured Cee; in fact, I’d thought the cat would prefer to continue to live outdoors but with the benefit now of an assured source of food.

The cat needed to be inside the house, at least until she was more fit, Cee told me; and it was very likely that until she fell upon hard times, this was an animal used to living indoors. Should the cat be forced to do without a litter box, Cee informed me, there was a strong likelihood it would do its nasty business on the bed, or the couch, or wherever location it deemed suitable. Thoroughly routed, and humbled by my ignorance on all matters feline, I made another trip into town to purchase a litter box and fill it with what I am assured is an organic material that will not harm my environment or the larger one. Oh, and it won’t hurt the cat either.

I’m not certain this is going to work for me; I have never thought of cats much at all let alone considered living with one. They chill me a little, frankly; they are not emotive like dogs but maintain an aura of aloofness, their real thoughts a mystery. However, when Pete got home last night

he was instantly charmed, probably because the cat acted as though he was a long lost relative, purring and snuggling in his arms. She treats me like a maid, acknowledging me only when she wants more food, which is about every hour in the day and in the night.

Without any discussion as to whether or not the cat will be adopted by us or whether we will simply be kind and generous hosts until another home can be found, Pete went online to find a proper Siamese name worthy of her loveliness. “Amisi” is what he came up with; it means flower and implies great beauty. I too went online to find a name, finding one that I feel more accurately describes my experience of her; “Esho,” which means ‘hog.’ When I suggested to Pete we call her Esho, he liked the name and was preparing to go with it until that suspicious mind of his led him to look it up. So Amisi it is, and she seems to respond to it although I believe she would answer to anything in order to insure the groceries keep coming.

I told Pete I was reluctantly willing to try living with this creature, (not that he asked) but he must have a serious talk with her regarding her attitude towards me, which in the day and a half since she arrived has pretty much sucked. She is very lofty with me: civil out of what she recognizes is necessity, but clearly withou t respect or regard.

She needs to understand it is me she will be sharing this trailer with, I told him; make her understand he will only be here half the time. Make her aware, I said, that not only will I be constantly in residence, but I have a role equal to his and in her case could even be said to be alpha.

When the talk took place, with Pete and Amisi side-by-side on the couch and me in a kitchen chair facing them, it was eerie. I swear, Uma, the cat knew exactly what Pete was saying. She listened to him with rapt attention as he carefully laid out the situation and listed the expectations; she even looked to be nodding her head in understanding. You will notice I said ‘understanding,’ not ‘acceptance;’ she has managed to convince Pete she will concede my position and behave accordingly but I am not so easily fooled. Men are idiots when faced with big blue eyes and a face full of admiration and adoration. My feeling is she has definite plans to usurp me, though she will take her time and be subtle.

I am full of foreboding; I think her feminine wiles will be hard for me to combat as I am entirely without wiles, feminine or otherwise.

Her manner towards me has been impeccable since The Talk; she is attentive, and conceded my place next to Pete in our bed, obligingly curling up on the sleeping place Pete has arranged for her, on the other side of him, on the floor. She got into that cat bed sweetly enough, but I caught the look in her eyes; she is biding her time until she takes her rightful place on the bed, with Pete. I wonder if she thinks I will be the one sleeping on the floor in the future?

Is it possible that tiny skull of hers can possibly accommodate this sort of scheming?

Love,

Heather

Heather Bennett is a writer

who lives in Watson Lake.