Status Quo Vadis?

Kage Baker always swore that – short of actually dying   she would rest, heal, and return to her work. Whatever she saw as her work, anyway, after any Event so large and capitalized that it had required her to stop working in the  first place.

All things taken into sober consideration, she fulfilled this oath; yea, even unto and following death. She reinvented and re-established her life several times over  its eccentric length, coming back stronger each time from the edge of dissolution. A merry and ironic jig on that crumbling edge, with a cocktail one hand and a paper parasol for balance in  the other, became her speciality.

She even succeeded, rather arguably, after her literal death: she left her work, her world(s) and her plans to me. I haven’t done all that well with this assignment. Things keep happening to me, that Kage overcame but which have nearly finished me. Also, Kage managed her several resurrections over the course of a lifetime, whereas I have not  gotten through even 1 of the 8 years since her death without some ludicrously close call, myself.

I have found this, Dear Readers, somewhat distracting.

On June 2nd, I tripped and had a bad fall. It involved Cheetos, yarn and a cat tower, though I am still undecided on how permanent the effects of the yarn, snacks and feline demesnes will prove. The main problems seem to be due to gravity and the tensile strength of bone. Also, bureaucratic inertia.

Minor damage: a broken toe, a mild concession, a hard knock to ribs broken 15 years ago, to leave me short of breath. Muscles all up and down my right side torn, leaving me weirdly stiff. Major damage: some cataclysmic but un-detailed fracture to my right shoulder. That last one has left me unable to accomplish 90% of what my right arm is accustomed to performing, as well as a recent legacy of literally mind-blowing pain … if I can frame them amusingly enough, I will list at a later time all the weird places, receptacles and conditions in which I have hallucinated myself over the last month.

A day or 2 after the fall, I went to an orthopedist, who diagnose a proximal fracture of the right humeral head: I broke the top of my humerus into 3 or 4 pieces, right where it fits into my shoulder socket. The doctor ordered a CAT scan on an urgent basis, to ascertain just how badly my arm was croggled, and to deduce what might fix it,

Due to his staff’s unique interpretation of URGENT, the scan was finally done on June 20th. Yestreday, by dint of repeated calls, nagging, and general bitchiness on my part, the orthopedist’s stellar staff managed to get me a third-hand message from the doctor: my shoulder is so croggled that only a full shoulder replacement would have any hope of restoring full function.  Which surgery cannot be done unless and until a cardiologist and an endocrinologist sign off on my ability to survive the surgery. I have heart failure, diabetes and only 1 kidney, you see, all of which apparently outrank my recent loss of the use of my arm.

I am not a good candidate for surgery. On the other hand – if I had another hand – I am also not a good candidate for being solely left-handed, in which state  circumstances have so far abandoned me.

My next doctor appointment is on Wednesday, where we will discuss what can be done about my right arm. To date, absolutely nothing has been done for the injury, and I  really, really want some sort of treatment. Can I have surgery? Then do it now. Is surgery useless, or impossible? Then tell me, so I can try something else: acupuncture, hypnosis, exercises, burying a bean in the woods … something,  so at least I can begin trying to do something more with my life than type  one-handed, and try to join the opioid epidemic.

But, I have figured out why so many people are on the evil drugs. This has apparently escaped the notice of the AMA, the insurance industry, the White House … but, you know what? PAIN HURTS.

In the meantime, I am still here. This is the first day since my fall that I have really been able to blog, and I will try to maintain the ability. In the gaps between despair, fury and simple weariness, I’ll try to write.

There are only a few creative things one can  do with only one hand. Writing is the best so far.

On we go …


















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A Textbook Pain In The Ass

Kage Baker would shake her head whenever I hurt myself  (you know, after the screaming and cursing and bleeding and hunting for the car keys was over), and say sadly, “Only you, you little Welsh mutant.”

But really, these things happen to all sorts of people. All the time! The textbooks are full of examples that illustrate not only medical commonalities, but things I have actually done. Or survived. Or had removed

Kage would say: “That’s the point. Most people don’t match more than one. And then it’s something ordinary. Like, being born.”

Well, those are under-achievers, says I. Or maybe it’s just statistics. Someone has to be on the far, exotic end of the statistical U-graph, right? Consider me infra-red, ultra-violet: where most people may span yellow, green or blue, I might be reaching for gamma radiation. Soft x-rays, at least.

It’s not that bad, though. Not this time. This injury is as common as dirt. I saw my orthopedist this afternoon, the estimable Dr. Cepkinian, and he assures that at least 80% of proximal humerus fractures (which is the kind I have)  do not have to be treated by surgery. Mind you, that’s not the kind I have, but still – that’s a good percentage.  However, what I have will require surgery. It only remains to figure what kind of surgery; what combination of pins, screws, plates and Superglue will restore to me my good right arm.

So the next stop for me will be a series of CAT scans, to determine just sort of ivory puzzle is lurking up there under the edge of my scapular. Those will done as soon as possible, and the surgery will be scheduled as soon possible after that. If it’s left too long, poor Dr. C. will need to break bones in order to heal them … orthopedists have large hands, I’ve been told, just to deal with recalcitrant bones. And I really do not want to present with such a problem …

But in the meantime, I’ll be drinking left-handed. Eating, too. And typing short blogs very, very, agonizingly slowly.

And that is where I stand now, Dear Readers. with a common sort of injury – just not common enough.

It was probably the possums that dragged that yarn bag out where I’d trip on it. Or maybe the Cheetos pushed the odds over the edge. Next time, I’ll be sure to stick to something boring, like Triscuits.

I d have a shoulder and 2 hips left, after all.


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We’re Having Lovely Weather

Kage Baker really did believe that the 3rd day of an injury was the worst. She believed that – as a natural follow through of this axiom – days 4 and following would therefore  be better.

I tried to tell her that better was not the same as easier, but apparently for Kage, they were. She certainly always acted as though they were; she was undeniably more cheerful after Day 3. She wasn’t faking, either: those 3 days were the worst, even in the face of fatal diseases. And after 3 days, Kage would actually, factually be happier. And she did not understand why someone else might not be.

“But it’s been three days,” she would assure me, as if I had somehow lost track of the time; as if I would feel tons better if I just applied myself. Instead, I would slink off into a corner,  growling like a wolf bitch with a tooth ache. Kage would bring me a nice glass of lemonade, eventually.

Anyway, by that miraculous 3rd day, I generally still feel like a broken egg; a faded plastic lighter with fractal traces of lighter fluid; a pile of dog side-effects.

Today, Dear Readers, is Day 4 of my shoulder fracture. And sure enough, just as per the Reformed Revealed Word of Kage, I feel like a dogshit omelette, cooked (like cheap heroin), over the guttering flame of a broken lighter.

Which is why I won’t be writing more than this little bit of tired, self-indulgent graffiti tonight. I ache, my shoulder is a mass of raw nervous tissue, two of my toes are broken and turning colours, my right biceps is swollen and turning black, I broke my glasses and got a shiner falling into the cat tower. And I don’t see the orthopedist until 3:30 tomorrow.

So I am feeling sorry for myself and will continue to be so until at least tomorrow afternoon. I hate my humerus and feel it definitely let down the side by fracturing like a cheap piece of plastic.

But than that, things are pretty good. I’ll let you all know tomorrow what my patient ortho guy has to say.

At least I got a chance to wash the Cheetos off.





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Day 2, Fracture 1,Me 0

Kage Baker believed that the 3rd day of an injury was the worst. She had some logical reason for it, but I think she just figured after 3 days, you reached the nadir of comfort. So she used that excuse to indulge herself in anything that might provide some little crumb of comfort, and thereby convinced herself that she would feel better tomorrow. Alcohol, chocolate, egg creams and war won ton soup figured largely.

I don’t have Kage’s cheerful folksy nonsense view of physiology. I know this  is going to hurt for weeks, even before I see the orthopedist. There may yet be surgery in my future, ugly pins and screws and plates and crap. But I don’t really feel too bad about it all. I have a cool sling, and good painkillers, and though I have to type one-handed, at least I can do that. My family is taking good care of me.

The recliner in the living room is comfortable, since I need to sleep sitting up for a week or two. The cats come visit me, and I can hear mockingbirds sing, and breathe the sweet night air flowing through the windows.

Also, about 3 AM this morning, I was treated to the sight of Mike coming into the living room, carrying what I thought was an Erlenmeyer flask in his gauntleted hands, (They are grand gauntlets, elbow-high and very sturdy; he looked like an apprentice alchemist venturing out of the lab.) What he had, though, was a Lego zeppelin balloon, containing Possum Number 4 in our apparently unending stream of young possums. He’d trapped it in the zeppelin, being a make-do kind of fellow – raise your kids at Faires, folks; they can make anything out of nothing, at need – and was evicting it into the dark front garden.

He gave Kimberly and I peeks into the zeppelin – it was a very young, cute little possum, who did not enjoy its novel confinement at all. We heard Mike let it loose in the camellias, muttering, “Fly! Be free!” Then we all sat around for awhile and discussed the improbable Empire of Possums we have going on this summer … Mike was super-adrenalized, as he’d been chasing marsupials through his childhood toys for a hour; and I was just unable to sleep for the amazing pain in my arm. Poor Kimberly fell asleep first, and gradually everyone slowed down and at least dozed.

Tonight, though, Mike has found what we truly hope is the last portal, and has sealed it. I will again be sitting vigil, waiting for the Vicodin to defeat the pain in my shoulder: so we ought to be fairly safe. Man, June has been a hot mess of absurdity so far. Here’s the zeppelin. Imagine it with the tail fins screwed off, the gondola removed, and a possum scrabbling inside.

It’s weird around here right now. More tomorrow, as my traumatized brain and muscles and humerus get a little better.

Sleep well, Dear Readers.

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Accident. With Cheetos.

Kage Baker despaired of my life on a regular basis throughout her life. This was because I have bizarre destructive things happen to me with ridiculous frequency.

This evening, I tripped over a bag of yarn, hit the cat tower with my head and right shoulder, and ended up on the floor. I was carrying a small bag of Cheetos, and went down in a veritable eruption of orange crunchy snacks.

Now I am sitting in the ER, waiting for a CAT scan. I’ve already been x-rayed, and so we know I have broken my humerus -split the head of it, as the doctor said lyrically, like a blow from an axe.

I am also covered with ground-in Cheeto fragments.

More later, Dear Readers. It hurts to type. But all will be well – Kimberly is here with me.




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Watching The Lights

Kage  Baker was as likely as anyone else to go boneless and lazy on a suddenly-warm summer evening.

She loved sitting in the living room with no lights lit but candles and lava lamps, idly brainstorming. We would watch the restaurant lights stream across the waves a block away, or time the rotating spotlight at the Nipomo airport as it passed over and over in the dark.

Sometimes the light would dim, or miss a cycle. We always told one another it might be an alien craft; they were known to cruise around out there, mutilating strawberries or cows, knocking out the electricity when they broke the glass insulators off by skimming the power poles. There were reports of fires out there all the time, telephone poles going up like tiki torches amid shards of melted glass and charred metal.

However, there was also fog rolling in and out all the time: often no more than a story or two high. And we knew what the airport was like, we’d driven out to see. It was the approximate size of an AM/PM. When the night-shift crop dusters took off, they had to either block the light on our side, or hit the tower. So it wasn’t all that likely it was flying saucers.

Kage cherished the idea of space aliens out in the dunes, though. God knows, there was a lot of legitimately weird stuff and people out there. But even Kage admitted that not even vegetable rustlers, born-again Celtic hermits and the pot farmers of the Temple of the People guaranteed that space aliens were bopping around out there as well.

But she did love the idea, so much so that she wrote several stories about the exceedingly weird little town of Pismo Beach, and the truly odd things and folks that dwelt there. The Company ended up doing lots of work out in the dunes, with bits of real Egyptian temples buried with the old movie sets of same. Her little stupid guys flew their saucers there. Cthonic gods were worshipped by sailor-suited buskers in old cocktail bars. And she put a strange but charming Irish hermit out there to commemorate the Gaelic Renaissance of the 1930’s.

It was all enormous fun, and good memories.

I was going to post a little excuse for not writing an actual Kage and writing blog tonight, but then I was distracted by the memories of strange lights out our living room window, and the glowing waves on Pismo Beach … and, BTW, the Temple of the People (which is quite real) still stands in vaguely saucer-shaped splendour on a dirt road amid the broccoli fields in the tiny town of Halcyon.  The Post Office across the street sells wonderful incense and diverse crystals, and imported chocolate bars …

Here’s a picture of it for you, Dear Readers. Have fun watching your own lights tonight.










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June’s Bugs

Kage Baker waited frantically for June each year. She lived for its arrival for lots of reasons.

School was out – an event that carried such spiritual weight for her that she still honoured it no matter how many years had passed since it had made any difference to her life. “Of course it matters!” she told me when I observed that, at 50,  it was no longer the big deal it had been when she was 14. “I still notice, don’t I? Summer vacation is one of the big borders of life! There’s something fundamentally wrong with the Universe that makes it stop just as life gets interesting.”

And I guess there is. Kage was certainly not the only person I have known who still depended on the idea of summer holidays to give shape to life. She just really, really worked at it: to the point where being free all summer was a major goal of her life. It was one of the biggest reasons she worked so hard: just so she could stay at home . Self-employment meant not getting up early for work, not knowing or caring what day of the week it was, spending the whole summer in tee shirts and jeans. Kage’s goal was to spend the last 18 years of her life the same way she had spent the first 18.  Being a writer was how she accomplished it. And every year when June leaped above the burning horizon of the world, Kage celebrated the return of summer vacation.

Writing was what she did on her summer vacation. It was what she did the rest of the time too, but she said it was more fun to define it that way. She was getting away with being on permanent holiday. She loved getting away with things.

Of course, June had other charms. Summer does begin during this month. Things got hot, and Kage could actually be warm for a few weeks. (Though on foggy summer nights, there were still some epic battles over the thermostat.) And of course, Kage’s birthday was in June. Sometimes the celebration for that was all of June.

But (other than being as unconstrained by routines and schedules as she could manage) what summer brought was the Silly Season. In the hot depths of summer, people get … peculiar. Monsters go wandering, UFOs buzz everywhere, men bite dogs in droves. It used to be when news agencies had so little real news that two-headed cows and the Ascended Masters of Mount Shasta appeared and made headlines. Even now, the Internet carries some crazy news every day – radioactive catfish in the cooling ponds of Chernobyl, the (mythical) carburetor that lets your car run on water, virgin births and honest politicians. But in summer … ah, in summer, even in these modern and over-informed times, it all gets even stranger.

Kage waited eagerly for this time of year, specifically to replenish her files of Weird Stuff, Uncanny Science, and General Craziness. It was one of her major sources of Story Ideas. She liked archeological finds that turned out to be customized dog skulls, or spark plugs. Living (briefly) frogs in geodes. Some English village deciding to reinforce the ancient law that said you have to wear a white wool cap on Sunday. Bugs – embarrassing  bugs in computer networks, hungry bugs in Biblical hordes, mystery “space” bugs in local tomato patches. And, or course, all the bugs in people’s heads. Those were the best of all.

For instance, she always wanted to witness a UFO flap, but somehow never managed to be in the right place at the right time. Despite living in the Hollywood Hills and in Central California for most of her life, she was never resident precisely where there were Gulf Breeze-levels of flying saucers. UFOs were locally believed to be all over the Nipomo Mesa near Pismo Beach, but Kage never saw one. Though when the power went out on hot summer nights, killing our vital fans, she’d shake her fist at the sky and curse the aliens. (It was probably the extra 25,000 people in town for the summer. Though you never know. Aliens are apparently dreadfully inept pilots …)

I am still reading new books on UFOs, partly to honour the Silly Season coming in. When it gets a little warmer at nights, I’m going to sit out on the front porch and look for anomalous lights. I’m also waiting eagerly for the DNA analysis of Loch Ness to come out, so we can see if there are plesiosaurs in there. There is always the chance that Betelgeuse will go nova, which is expected to happen in the astronomical equivalent of any minute now, and would be an amazing sight. Statues may start drinking milk or weeping blood. There may be another plague of carnivorous frogs on Florida golf courses. Someone may decipher the Voynich Manuscript. Again.

In the meantime, I need to put up the mini flamingo lights at my desk. And then I think an ice cream bar is  in order.

It’s summer time.



PSA: there were no possums in my house last night. I traumatized the cats, charging into the kitchen with a flashlight every time I heard crunching in the dark, but no possums. It’s what the cats get for falling down on the job, anyway.








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