Summer Solstice, With Flames and Old Cars

Kage Baker felt Summer was the season for fancy paint jobs on cars. She was an enormous fan and dedicated connoisseuse.

She especially adored the flames that are painted on to peel back from the engines of cars – beautiful pale flames, twisting and delicate as scarves. Ghost flames, in pale icy blues and whites, were her favourites. She said they made it look like the car was running on a nuclear generator.

She also liked cars painted like the old mansions and row houses in San Francisco: the Painted Lady effect, with layers and shapes like dragon scales. On a vintage car like a Devaux Coupe or a Durant, she said it made them look like elegant hallucinations. She also liked the very modern paramagnetic or chameleon colour-changing paints – they made even the dullest Toyota or Ford look fascinating. She’d hang out the car windows like a werewolf in mid change, red hair flying and screams of delight echoing as she tracked some car through a full spectrum change.

Car shows were an all day event for us. Pismo Beach held a couple of good ones every year, and Kage paced through the entire field in a trance of wonder. Usually with a green silk parasol over her head. I favoured pith helmets, with memsahib scarves fluttering.

I now own a PT Cruiser because it has bones like a 1939 Ford: Kage loved that. It’s black and silver – only because Kage’s innate love of pirates came to the fore, and she couldn’t bear to paint flames on it. It was her own Black Pearl.

Last weekend was Father’s Day, and car shows were rampant. It’s one of those weekends when gorgeous, fancy, unlikely cars are everywhere on the roads – because their proud owners are on their way to shows. Kage and I spent a lot of Fridays on the California roads ourselves, en route to various events – part of the fun of the road was seeing all those insanely preserved and decorated cars, right out in public with nasty little Toyotas and wanna-be nouveau royals like Lexuses.

And they will be out there now for the rest of the summer. Today is the Solstice, and for 3 months now every hot white road will lead to the Summer Country. The ghostly cities off I-5 will shine more brightly; the half-glimpsed strangers in passing expensive cars will be more gorgeous. It’s the season of beautiful cars, in California.

We were often on the road on Fridays and Mondays especially, when the exquisite Phantoms were out there (often literally), in convoys and sets and occasional singletons. Kage always claimed that when they zoomed by, she could catch the scents of champagne and gin and tonic: she figured they probably ran on those summer beverages. She also claimed that any one of them could be a faerie vehicle, since – in these modern times – that was how the Fair Folk travelled: in perfectly preserved antique cars, themselves adorned with silk scarves and perfect faint tans, and sunglasses as black and opaque and prism-reflecting as pools in deep caves …

You can find glimpses of them in her stories “Her Father’s Eyes” and “The Summer People”, as well as a few little hints here and there. She told stories about them at Faire, when it was late at night and we were gathered relaxing in the dark Innyard, wondering at just who the pale wanderers might be who drifted past our gates out of range of the flickering lanterns. She said they haunted I-5 for speed, and Highway 1 for privacy – Highway 1 has almost no lights or telephones, and no cell service either; it falls off the edge of the continent every other year or so. And when it does, beautiful old cars appear on the disconnected stretches of pavement, visiting between the gated canyons that open off the road at intervals. The drivers never look aside, their perfect pale noses in the air.

Friendlier fay haunt the roads, too. Some friends of ours were once rescued by an artichoke farmer when their car died somewhere around Santa Cruz on its way to Los Angeles. He drove a perfectly restored 1930’s truck, of course. The way they described him, he must have been a descendant of good old Farmer Maggot, except he sent them on their way with a trunk full of artichokes instead of mushrooms. And they could never find him again.

Another group of friends once ended up stranded in a walnut grove somewhere off the I-5, where the transmission of their car fell out into the ocean of leaves. They followed music – Santana, to be precise – to a tidy little house in the middle of the grove; where they found some nice people who drove them (in a nice old truck) to someplace with lights and human beings where they could get a tow truck and a mechanic. But they didn’t find the house again by daylight …

Today is the first day of Summer. It’s the season for bright pale flames and dancing in the streets; for journeying, and festivals, and meeting the Good People in the perfumed woods at night. This is the longest day and shortest night of the year – technically, we’re now falling into darkness, but it’s a long and deliciously dizzying process. No one will notice until the year reaches equilibrium again on the Equinox. Right now, it’s time to play forever. Summer, while you’re in it, never ends.

And so – a happy Solstice to you all, Dear Readers!

 

 

 

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Does LA Care?

Kage Baker was adamant in her conviction that you must be careful in your wishes. “Watch out what you wish for!” was her watchword at birthday candle extinctions, on sighting falling stars, or when fighting over wishbones. She was positive that the gods or Fates or whoever she was placating at that moment was only waiting for someone to utter a deadly specificity: then, their eldritch wrath would descend on the dummy who made their desires so clear.

She was indoctrinated early by all those stories about Monkey’s Paws and magic lamps. The escalating misfortune that came to greedy Fisherman’s Wives made a deep impression on her. In her adolescence she discovered both Plautus and Zero Mostel; their intersection in the deathless A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum indelibly marked Kage’s soul. For the rest of her life, upon receiving good news or fortune, she had two reactions: she danced in glee, and she threw a beseeching look to the heavens and yelled, “She’s ugly! Ugly, I say!”

That latter was intended to fool the gods, you see. Whatever had happened was not really good, anymore than young Philia was actually lovely. That was the idea, at least. I’m not sure if it ever worked – Kage was pretty beloved by fortune and most gods anyway – but it did garner us a lot of funny looks in public.

Yestreday, I was feeling very sorry for myself. It was Kage’s birthday and she was still dead. Oh, poor me, I whined, here I am stuck eating plums all by myself. Oh, I wish I weren’t.

Well. I should have remembered. I should have kept my mouth shut. I can see Kage in my mind’s eye, shaking her head at me disapprovingly …

My insurance is administered through the ACA, via a program called L.A. Care. I’m lucky it does; did it not, I suspect I’d have been dragged into the street and garrotted by now. What has happened is this: this morning, on a Sunday, no less, at the tender hour of 8:30 AM, a representative of L.A. Care called me to advise me that my doctor’s request for a new diabetes drug for me has been denied.

Why call me? I don’t know. Why on a Sunday? I really don’t know. Ordinarily, they won’t talk to me except during regular office hours, M-F, 8 AM to 5 PM. What I do know is that my doctor ordered a new drug because my old ones 1) were not reducing my blood sugar adequately; and 2) were causing kidney damage. And I only have one. Kidney, that is. When I mentioned this to the young lady on the phone, she told me there were several other drugs that my doctor must try first, before they could even consider approving his first choice. She even gave me their names.

They ALL cause kidney failure. None of  them grows you an extra kidney, either. When I pointed that out, she told me to take it up with my doctor, whom she was not planning on calling. That step was up to me.

It’s a good thing L.A. does Care, huh? Imagine what would be happening if they didn’t.

Anyway, here I am. Tomorrow, I shall re-open negotiations; my doctor won’t be open before then, and L.A. Care doesn’t answer their phone on a Sunday. They only call out …

I must admit, it took longer for my medical care to get hinky than I originally feared. It’s been almost 6 months since the Inauguration. At this rate, I am certain to make it to my 64th birthday next month. Maybe Social Security will make a difference. Maybe the Beatles will intervene.

In the meantime, I refuse to lie to the gods. She is not ugly. I am not expendable.

There. Are. Four. Lights.

 

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June 10, 2017

Kage Baker would have been 65 years old today.

By this time, we would be as far North on Highway 1 as we could be. That happens to be 100 yards north of Ragged Point – where there is a wonderful restaurant, a wonderful hotel and a wonderful garden – and we would be standing at the blockade where the highway is closed. It’s closed for some undetermined space of time at the moment, because this is one of the years when Highway 1 falls off the side of the North American continent.

That happens every few years. This is an especially comprehensive year – there have been several landslides between Ragged Point and Big Sur, and large stretches of the road are now missing. Where the road still exists, it’s serving the creatures and people who are the local inhabitants, as well as being really exciting parking for the construction crews trying to put the road back.

It’s going to be a few years yet before the revenant William Randolph Hearst equips Highway 1 and the lovely town of Gorda with anti-gravity …

Until then, people who want to get to Big Sur or several points of interest North of Ragged Point are out of luck. In some few instances, they are off road, as well, trying to get to those locales via goat trails and fire roads. I know how to do that; and if Kage were still alive, I am certain she’d have insisted we try … and we’d probably have spent the night in a tent 1,000 feet above the Pacific on a cliff, hoping not to get eaten by bears.

Before attempting the road beyond Ragged Point, we’d probably have had breakfast in Morro Bay (at Dorn’s) or in Cambria (at Medusa’s Tacqueria). Maybe with lemon ice cream and beers at Budu’s Diner at Moonstone Cove, or whatever it is actually called … I don’t know what it’s called, in real life; only what we called it when it was one of the places we frequented within sound of the blue Pacific. There are 396 miles between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and we had a special place approximately every 5 miles.

Here in Los Angeles, it’s a beautiful soft afternoon. The morning was grey and cool, perfect classical June weather for California. It was the weather Kage most loved on her birthday, when one could set out on the road with pockets full of plums and pace the Pacific Ocean until the Royal Road of the Sun materialized out of the Uttermost West and lured one to take it.

I wish I was at Ragged Point, strolling down the middle of the empty road with a glass of beer in my hand. We’d be talking about how Edward shot the bear on the vast lawn there (Ragged Point is where that happened) and debating whether or not we could make it to Jade Cove the next day by following fire roads along Nascimiento Ridge. We would cock snooks at the CalTrans signs forbidding passage past the Point. Kage would speculate on what strange beings and beasts were having a lovely summer, with the wild hills beyond us all to themselves. And beside us, the golden road of the sun would begin to pave itself across the water …

Kage, of course, has long since taken that road.

I’m still here, eating plums by myself.

And I wish I were not.

 

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De Day

Kage Baker always marked certain holidays with especial emphasis. The most important ones led to meditation on ancestors.

Today is one of them. Today is the anniversary of Project Overlord, D-Day, the Normandy invasion that led pretty much directly to the defeat of the Axis powers. This is a day we should all mark and remember – especially in this ghastly, troubled world – as a moment when we shone brightly. It was personal for Kage. It’s personal for anyone who had grandparents or parents alive in 1944. As it should be for all Americans, if we stop chewing out one another’s throats for a moment.

Kage’s choices in these things were predicated on historical significance (as decided by her), in the fine tradition of maiden ladies doing research projects. She came from a proud line of ladies – most of whom lived as spinsters, even if they weren’t – and who devoted their lives to that peculiar combination of national history and familial anecdote that is a hallmark of iron-willed Steel Magnolias and Roses everywhere.

The coastal cities on most American coasts, as well as all of England’s, are full of these ladies. They usually run the local museum, or Historical Society, or chapter of the National Trust. They chair patriotic pageants and parades; they organize bake sales and knitting bees for anyone who needs them; especially, but not exclusively, for the local military. Sometimes they are enormous pains in the community arse, a tradition lovingly immortalized in the person of Mrs. Eulalie McKechnie Shinn in 76 Trombones.

The reason this is still funny to me, Dear Readers, is that I am descended on the maternal line from McKegnies. Which are probably a version of McKechnie. Which are both probably connected to the better-know McKenzies … although, as an erudite friend of mine told me long ago, it’s all translated from Ogham anyway, so the spelling is optional. It always cracked Kage up, because – being that sort of genealogically inclined lady – she knew all that, and found the hare-brained historical hubris of Mrs. Shinn’s character utterly in keeping with me and mine.

Not that Kage’s was much better. Though I have to admit that her family was better-established than mine, both of us are descended from the same bizarre combination of Celts and East Coast Native Americans; but hers all had higher social standing than mine. They were all equally loony, though. That may have had something to do with our lines of descent, from many folks who are historically, shall we say, eccentric. Kage and I were both scions of deeply rooted nuts.

One of her ancestors was a famous hanging judge in the Bloody Assizes (George Jeffries, still affectionately remembered by the family because he was loyal to his King). Another spent a year or so pickled in apple cider, waiting posthumously and fragrantly for his tomb to be completed. My family tended to get hanged, or to die weirdly on the way home from the local in an alcoholically-enhanced haze; although they also dug holes all over Alderly, and have connections to even larger holes in New Mexico.

Kage was intensely patriotic. It wasn’t in the flag-waving way. It was in the pay your taxes, vote in every election, resist tyranny, make sure some of your own in every generation go into the service of the country sort of patriotism. You know, patriotism for normal people …  that was something we agreed on, as the maiden lady historians tend to do. Patriotism is  not well-expressed in what you yell hysterically at traumatic moments – it’s in how you live every day as an involved citizen. And that means thinking about the Past on  Dos Special Days, like Dis D-Day.

(See what I did there, with all the D’s? I am such a word-smith.)

Anyway. All this has been wandering through my head this afternoon, as I listen to the ever-awful news and try to fit another day into some kind of sane life. Ancestors, descendants, heroes kept alive in family histories: the history of sane men and women, making the world a fit place for children to grown up. I think the most important justification for all the spinsters keeping histories in small towns may be just that connection – keeping glory and history firmly attached to what real, human, not-crazy human beings do.

The beaches of Normandy didn’t fall to greedy lunatics – they were liberated from them. That, surely, is something to remember along the way.

 

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The Work and Its Ethic

Kage Baker did not consider herself a fan of the Protestant work ethic.

That is a theory that subscribes to the idea that – in theology,  sociology, economics and history – hard work, discipline and frugality are a result of a person’s subscription to the values espoused by the Protestant faith, particularly Calvinism. This was probably an idea with proponents long before Christianity arose – it’s a dour attitude that seems natural to a portion of humans – but it got its current name when Protestants became such noticeably un-fun members of the Christian spectrum. (unlike, say, the Anabaptists …) It’s closely associated with America, especially since America began its run toward nationhood by making bright colours, sex and Christmas illegal; stunts it followed up by occasionally criminalizing various pain-killers, antibiotics and ALL alcohol.

We all know how those campaigns turned out … and are, in fact, still turning out, in new and unexpectedly horrible ways. Nobody profits when law and custom lean more heavily on long lists of “Thou Shalt Nots” than on anything else.

Still, Kage believed in duty, and in discipline. Sometimes she espoused it in the cock-eyed Gilbert & Sullivan fashion: Duty, duty must be done; The rule applies to everyone! as Sir Despard and Richard carol. Of course, then you get lost in hair-splitting Moebius insanity, and end up arguing with your dead ancestors about how actually wicked you really are, if you deliberately flout a curse by being virtuous …

More often, though, Kage’s devotion to what MUST be done was so automatic that even she didn’t think about it. And she thought about everything. But the vital necessity of writing every day, all the time, no matter where she was: that was inviolable and did not require thought. Like breathing, it was a necessary component of life itself; and staying alive is a duty that cannot be shirked. It’s why she gave – first to Mendoza, and then to all her Operatives – the Prime Directive of her Universe:

Nothing matters. Except the work.

It’s what Kage herself believed. She believed it because she could see it demonstrated; because she had experimented, and that worked better at keeping her happy than anything else. She believed it with the intensity of a nun to whom God is not a Mystery, but the plainest bedrock Truth. It wasn’t a grim or joyless creed, either, but rather the basis of all  delight. Kage discovered, at an early age, that doing what you were meant to do was the ultimate satisfaction: that while you couldn’t escape the sorrows and pains of the world, you could fight them by doing what you should.

It took a little effort to find out what you ought to be doing in the first place, of course. And a lot of people argued with you. But once you found it, your course was set and nothing, nothing, would ever be as bad again. Nothing matters, except the work.

Kage wrote damn near every day. But even the worst days in her life (and those days happen to everyone, even someone as stubbornly cloistered as Kage Baker) could be assuaged by her Work. So when she was sad, frightened, angry or ill, she wrote. When she couldn’t write, she talked to me. When even tossing ideas was too hard, she dictated what she had already composed – no argument and no discussion, but it got the Work done nonetheless.

I meant to write an extremely whiny and self-pitying blog yestreday. I meant to do it today, too. Things are rotten in the State, Dear Readers; I am feeling pretty whinish and definitely self-pitying. Why, oh why, is MY old age being troubled by such insanity in the world around me? Why can’t I live out MY Golden Years in a Golden Age? Like anyone ever did, right? It’s semi-human nature, though; you just find yourself bitching when it finally happens to you …

But Kage’s great discovery came to my rescue. I got so intrigued by what I was saying yestreday that I got over being depressed. A lot of that has to do with the enchantment of one’s own voice, of course, but so what? It works, doesn’t it? And that is the big difference, and why Kage didn’t consider that she was driven by the Protestant work ethic. And why I don’t, either.

Because it does work. And it is joy. And it will heal all wounds, assuage all pains, cure all ills. Because really – reallio trulio, Dear Readers – nothing at all matters.

Except the work.

 

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Where ARE The Flying Cars?

Kage Baker never placed much stock in all the shiny cinematic visions of the future. Those gleaming megaloposes that adorned so many book covers never, ever struck her as valid versions of the future.

“Where did all the old building go?” she would ask scornfully. “There are still streets paved with freaking cobblestones in New York right now. London is  still using streets that taxis won’t fit down. Every city in the world is built on  the bones of other cities, and most of the bones are still  alive!”

“There’s … Brasilia,” I would say: but my riposte was weak and defensive, and I knew it.

“There’s nothing under Brasilia but remains of Atlantean colonies, and no one believes in those,” Kage would say, and dismiss the whole idea out of hand. “This isn’t how cities grow!”

She preferred science fiction where every gleaming, cyber-drenched robotic city had slums, undergrounds and Courts of Miracles beneath its soft, warm, pink sidewalks. She liked the post-nuclear war speakeasies in Bester’s Demolished Man. She liked transient hooches in the air ducts outside star ports, and red-light districts showcasing sputtering neon ads for defunct colas. She absolutely adored the hidden cities of the Underpeople that Cordwainer Smith put beneath all of his glowing, self-obsessed cities of True Men.

While I took Star Trek pretty much on shining-eyed faith, Kage scorned its ultra-hygienic habitats even more than its Foreheads of the Week. The Enterprise was too clean for all those sailing-ship metaphors – where, she wanted to know, was the damned grease? Did no one ever drop a glass? Did no one ever go to a bathroom? The Nostromo and the Millennium Falcon were much more what she thought a star ship would really be like.

If you have read all Kage’s books, Dear Readers, you will recall that her alien habitats, her space ships and stations, were full of grime and eccentric plumbing. That’s how people actually live. The future – at least one in which the protagonists are still recognizably Homo sapiens sapiens – wasn’t going to look much different in a mere 2 or 3 hundred years.

It’s been millennia since slums started forming on the edges of Thebes and Babylon. But they looked pretty much like the ones that fringe Philadelphia and Paris now.

Technology is different. It can evolve and mutate even faster than the best predictions in the worst pulp magazines; gleaming fiendish devices are always found being used in settings of carved stone and ancient wainscotting. The proliferation of wireless chargers, wi-fi hubs and extension cords in America is due to the fact that half of us are still living in houses that had electricity laid on less than a hundred years ago: no one has enough outlets. But our watches and computers and A/V devices and FitBits and sex toys and pet doors are all designed in the last 20 years, for a civilization on its way to the stars.

Which we are not. Just our toys are. The design of the toilet in my bathroom hasn’t changed in 200 years, and the pipes that lead to the City mains are made of baked clay. But the cheap clock in the corner can keep track of 6 timelines, and personalized alarms, and whether or not Daylight Savings Time is happening somewhere in the aether.

However, today in my daily Bargain Notices from Fry’s Electronics – which are waiting with other 100-odd emails on my computer every morning as I squint antiquatedly awake over my coffee – there was an ad for a printer. A 3-dimensional printer. A tiny one, a wee machine that would print things in paper, glass, several kinds of plastic or edible starch and carbohydrates; a machine no bigger than a lunch box, that I could use to make – out of an electronic pattern – a sandwich, a blouse, a fathom  of acrylic yarn, a toy ankylosaurus, a heart valve, faux rubies … it costs $249.00 and came with with a 6-month warranty.

I could have ordered it online, and paid for it with electric currency, and had it delivered by a transport I never spoke to or probably even saw before he left the package on my porch sometime in the next 24 hours. Right alongside the farm-fresh nectarines and plums I ordered in a similar fashion, and received in the dark. In fact, I could have sat here, Dear Readers, and printed a spun-sugar skull for dessert as I ate a plum that was growing on a tree 300 miles away 2 days ago …

Almost  did it, too, just for the sheer stupefying fun of it.

The point here, Dear Readers, is that the future does not arrive when or where or in the clothes we expect. It makes for no end of entertainment (not to mention a genteelly impoverished living), but the actual fruits of the future sneak up on us and move in like so many cats. We all go everywhere with computers now, and we never even think about it: because we call the things “phones”, which is a technology that was born, peaked and grew obsolete over the last 150 years.

The flying cars are going to be called Fords and Mitsubishis and not-your-father’s Buicks. They’ll be competing with maglev trains made by Lego, probably; at least until the Sony transporter industry takes off … while Micky D’s burgers materialize on your table via half a dozen methods.

And odds are, we will never even  notice.

 

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Finding A Way: I May Need A Clue But I’m Working On It

Kage Baker had a sharp personal dislike of cliches. Aphorisms, folk sayings, pithy one-liners displaying the deep inner wisdom of the speaker: they all, as she put it, gave her “the pip”.

I”m not sure what “the pip” is, but it always sounded serious. Probably fatal, too; at least, for whatever made her feel that way.

She had a deep and abiding scorn for those who considered themselves The Wise. She especially hated Wise Women, because she seemed to attract those in particular – older , or at least larger, women who presented themselves as fountains of right-thinking and goddesshood. (Kage could hold her own against mansplaining, and I never saw her defeated by a pompous male; when you grow up with multiple younger brothers, you develop both an allergy and a resistance to mansplaining.) She  despised Wise Woman so much, she used them several times as minor stereotypes in her stories. Sometimes, as in Sky Coyote, they even get into fights over who is the Wisest Woman of all …

Literary or cinematic characters who behaved that way made Kage especially nuts. I think it was because she couldn’t argue with them, or make them change. Whatever stupid, overbearing thing they said, it was permanent. No amount of yelling at the screen or the printed page (which happened a lot in in our house) was going to shut them up, or knock that mealy-mouthed look off their faces. It was one of the things she detested about TLOTR books and movies; except when Gandalf got snarky about the councils of the The Wise screwing up: Kage liked that.

She got especially vicious about science fiction. Part of that was because, as a female writer in the Old Boys’ Club of the science fiction community, she encountered a lot of annoying pontificating among male authors and fans alike. And part of it was, I think, because she grew up in the 50’s, 60’s and into the 70’s –  it was a steady diet of classic, cheesy movies just overflowing with patent medicine wisdom, most of it blatantly based on 1950’s masculine ideals.

“Look to the skies!” “The Red Menace is disguised as (fill in the alien blank)!” “Science will save us!” “Science will doom us!” “Life will find a way!”

That last one, admittedly, is from the 1990’s – when a new Golden Age of good movies began; for some science fiction, it was when good movies began to be made at all. But they still used those self-congratulatory aphorisms, and “Life will find a way” made Kage particularly insane. Jeff Goldblum was awfully attractive; but  Jurassic Park was chock-full of scientific error and nonsense, and that phrase just came to symbolize the entire pop culture pseudo-wisdom syndrome.

“Life doesn’t find a way,” Kage said, glowering. “Life usually just dies; or turns into something else, or moves away. Some problems are damned permanent!”

Kage did not approve of anything silly. Not even hope. If hope was going to be silly about it, she would do without and slog on relentlessly hopeless.

I have tried to imagine what she would be doing in the current ambient environment of the US, and I’ve failed. I’m pretty sure I’d have had to disconnect most electronic paths into  the household, and installed filters so Kage never had to look at a news channel online. I’d have had to hide the daily newspaper; I’d have blocked most of the telly channels. I would have been translating everything before it got to her, just to ensure that she had access to ideas and research without having her head blow up from the horror of real life.

My only personal recourse since we entered 2017 has been a general retreat from the world. I need to be informed; I want to do a certain amount of responsible, adult stuff, you know? So it’s hard, and I slip up a lot, and horrible things do creep into my view; where, of course, they caper and gibber and cock snooks at me in petty demonic glee.  But I persevere! NOT because life finds a way, because it freaking doesn’t – I do it because, so long as I can avoid despair, I can manage without hope.

Thank you, Professor Tolkien. I appreciate you.

Recently, a nice gentleman suggested to me that I needed to let Kage go and live my own life.  It was well-intentioned advice and I’m grateful, but it missed the point that I am doing that: everything I do right now is in the service of carving out my life on my own. If I were clinging to Kage, her life, her reputation or her ashes, I would long ago have died from the sheer weight of grief. Instead, Kage left me a clearly-marked path to independence, creativity, and the feeling that – although I am old, slow and fat – I am still living a life of purpose.

Why, only today I sent a note off to my agent, asking what hole my recent stories had fallen down, and what the inexplicable paperwork I’d just gotten from Italy meant. Of such world-shaking concerns is a writer’s life filled to the brim …

And it is a life, and it is mine, and it is filled to overflowing with – as R.L. Stevenson noted – a number of things. Life has no idea what is doing, and the way is by no imagination clear or obvious. But it all goes on regardless, Dear Readers; we all go along with it, too.

And, not to be cliched about it, but we should all be as happy as kings.*

 

 

 

Flowers blooming through lava – subtle, eh?

 

*”The world is so full of a number of things/I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings!” From A Child’s Garden of Verses

 

 

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