Saturday At Home

Kage Baker, though she loved to travel, really loved nothing more than being snug at home.

She would leave her alarm clock turned on even on the weekends, just so she could slap the thing silent and go back to sleep. When we finished a long run – at a Faire, for instance – Kage would spend the first weekend at home happily considering where she was not: running to catch the ass-end of a parade, chasing a late-lingering dance troupe off a stage, trudging to the chemical privies at the end of a long, dusty day.

“A week ago, we’d just be taking the turn from the 580 to the 5,” she would recite happily, content in her arm chair. “And tonight here I am in my jammies, with a cocktail in my hand and a fire on the hearth! And later I will play some Monkey Island.”

And it worked the other direction, too. When we first started a gig, a Faire, a Con: Kage would exhult in not being inured in the daily domestic grind. It was the contrast that gave the special savour.

This time last week, I was … well, I was collapsed in a hotel room with food poisoning. But I was at a Con! I had been on the road, I was travelling! Even when I was seriously considering if it was sufficiently exotic to expire in a rented room in San Jose, I was appreciating the mere fact of being in that rented room. The entire inner courtyard was planted thick with old roses, and as the room darkened into twilight, my room filled with the scent of roses …

Tonight, I am sitting much more comfortably in my living room, and as the day ends, the perfume that fills the room is of fresh-turned earth where Kimberly has been planting native grasses in her floral fountain. (In California these latter years, you plant in the fall, not the spring: plant in the spring, and your plants will fry.) Michael has been trimming the wild golden oats that fill the yard now, and the scent of toasted grain drifts in the windows as well.

My excursion wore me out. I came home Monday, and have basically slept all week. But I am waking up now  and beginning to watch my email anxiously. A story acceptance might be coming; I tried a modern over-the-transom approach at the Con, and slipped loaded thumb drives to a few people. Of course, story rejections may also be coming, but why anticipate trouble?

It’s all movement, all proof of life, all resuming my place on the Great Universal People Mover.

And anyway: this time last week, I was miserably sick  and now I am not. So there am I happy!

Seize it where you can, kids.


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Home From WorldCon 1

Kage Baker never learned to drive. This was a public service on her part, as her eyesight was poor: she had strabismus, and was effectively blind in one eye. She also felt she was emotionally unsuited to cope with other drivers without bow cannons.

I didn’t mind at all, because I didn’t think other drivers could possibly benefit from Kage having bow cannons …

But the bottom line was that Kage never drove home from a science fiction Convention. We would both babble while I drove, the pair of us madly, decompressing and downloading all the weekend’s various events. Then, usually about 2 hours out of Pismo, Kage would fall asleep. Every now and again she’d lurch upright and declare: “I have to keep you awake!” And then she’d be gone.

Well, now she really is gone, and I get to drive home by myself. I talk to myself a lot, and sing loudly. The drive from San Jose yestreday was not bad at all – I left by 3 PM and only drove as far as Pismo once again; I meant to spend the night there, and drive on to LA this morning.

I got to Pismo, which was exquisitely cool and smelled of the sea: my hotel was a bare 200 feet from the beach. Unfortunately, my room was on the second floor, up 20 stairs. (I counted, gasping …) and I arrived pretty much pre-exhausted from the day and the drive.

I am only technically mobile these days. Too long in one position, or too much walking, and my back and left leg are automatically replaced with broken glass in Silly Putty. It’s all to do with neuropathy, and is only of import here because it contributed to my being useless last night.

Mostly I lay on my lovely soft bed and breathed in the sweet sea air. I was too tired to even contemplate eating – which was good, because there was no way on any earth that I was getting down and back up those stairs again …

Oh, and the wifi didn’t work. It was a nice hotel, but it was a Motel 6, and you just can’t get working wifi in those. I gotta get my own Hotspot (Luisa, how did you DO that?)

Anyway, I got home this afternoon after a long, futile search through the 5 Cities area for a nursery Kage had loved … I found the place where it used to be, but it was inexplicably gone: all buildings, flower beds and orchards razed to the ground, the earth apparently salted and the whole surrounded by barbed wire. I have no idea what happened, barring a sudden infestation of triffids.

But I went tearfully on my way. And in the course of time I made it home, and promptly collapsed. Somewhat revived by Mullah coffee and brownies, I have gotten at least as far as this lengthy explanation of why I vanished into the silent void last night.

More later, Dear Readers. How much later, who knows? There are tamales in the offing, and I could end up either comatose or energized. But there is much more to tell!



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Things Seen (and Seen By) at WorldCon

Kage Baker, as I have often observed, vastly enjoyed people.-watching. WorldCon is a primo place to do that, as so many interesting things attend.

It was one of Kage’s pet fancies, that eldritch creatures walked freely among us in places where normality was …  thin. Consensual. Totally ignored. Times like Halloween and Mardi Gras; places like white sales, rock concerts, and conventions. We always watched for them, argued over their antecedents, giggled over what they might be there doing …

I have seen some neat stuff here:  not just odd people, but fascinating scenaria here and there. Over breakfast, I saw the shadow cast by the Avengers logo in a mirror: but no matter where I looked, I couldn’t see what was casting it. Something existing solely in the mirror, I suspect: another dimension.

I’ve seen a merqueen, resplendent in robes of opalescent gauze and netting, pearls  and silver, her colour- changing crown and  staff liberally studded with glowing gems.

I’ve seen a stealth jester: long dagged sleeves and tu nic obscuring his body, horned and belled hood drawn over his face. The only thing that convinced me he was a jester and not an assassin was that the outfit was bright, merry red. But he was trying for enigma, I think.

I saw a lady in a sweeping cloak decorated with wolf skins go by: Lady Stark, I presume. She was attended by several warriors in Game of Thrones regalia. They were ALL followed by George R.R. Martin himself, carrying a metal stanchion. I presume they were a headed for a signing, and Mr. Martin was prepared to reinforce the guide ropes. But it looked he was planning to bludgeon someone …

I have seen meticulously uniformed fighters from literally dozens of times, dimensions, armies, empires, and doomed, heroic campaigns. It’s hilarious to watch  them deftly manage swords, ray guns, electrified spears and other weaponry accessories in the restaurant of the Hilton. I have trouble figuring out what to do with my cane …

What’s even funnier, to me, is that the wait staff is totally unperturbed. They’ll move a claymore or a jet pack out of their way without a blink. They can deliver drinks and plates around winged helmets, corrugated skulls and visors as neat as a pin. And they do not turn a hair.

Reality really is consensual around here, Dear Readers.

And a woman just walked past me with a squeaking tribble on a leash.

On which note, I believe I need another coffee. More later, kids.

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At WorldCon: 2 of Who Knows

Kage Baker was one of the shyest people I ever knew. Her premier fashion choice, had it been possible, would have been invisibility.

Two things assisted her in dealing with it: online communities and conventions. (Faire helped, too, but most of the time there, she was someone else.)

There is a wonderful phenomenon that happens at cons. People are so primed to meet the dreamers, the artists, the writers, that they look for them actively. Everyone reads name tags. Everyone is delighted to recognize a favourite author, a popular editor or a truly enthusiastic fan. Heck, you can get public acclaim just by always showing up in a good costume – talent, verve, skill, even obsession are all lauded and appreciated at a con.

People were thrilled to see Kage. She never got over the wonder of that. She never stopped being grateful for it, either.

I am not the public figure Kage was – I’m her surviving sister; who – oh, yeah – has also written a few things. And there is this blog, which has apparently gotten more notice than I ever anticipated. But WOW! I got greeted by people everywhere I went, and only a few were from Faires! Faire and cons overlap a lot, so there have always been old friends to see. What stunned me today were the strangers.

It may have been helped by my name tag. To the embarrassment of the Registration staff, my name got split into two lines. One reads “Kathleen Bartholome”. The second line, neatly centered, reads “w”. Just “w”. However, I like it – it turns a typo into potential found art. It makes people look longer at my tag. And so it gets me recognized: which delights me, and gives everyone else a good laugh.

Things like that are wonderful. There is a concerted effort at Cons to stand out, to be seen, to proclaim yourself, or your chosen race ( today I saw a merqueen, a Klingon and too many animal ears to count) or your favourite food – I once saw someone I think was the Meat of the Day, resplendent and serene in a “parsley” decked wheel chair.

People here are so happy to be themselves: whatever that may be. They’re happy to see whatever you are too, which is a tolerance all too rare …

As the  New Radicals so aptly put it: Wake up, kids: you’ve got the dreamers’ disease

Ain’t it great?

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At WorldCon76 1 of Who Knows

Kage Baker would have loved this Con. It’s huge, amazing, rich in detail, full of truly unusual visuals and everyone is polite and happy.

This will be the first of several snapshots, due to the almost-total collapse of my computing abilities. My phone won’t reach out through the Convention Center walls, the handle broke off my computer case as I went to my room last night, and the conputer within died. I am now on my Kindle, AND a totally unsecured network, but hey – it’s a route to the world.

I will just be careful with my passwords. (FYI, most of them are SCREW YOU!)

Sorry, Dear Readers, I am in a funny mood. Discovering the new limits of my body is a sobering experience. Or, no: it’s a get drunk and howl at the moon experience.

But I am a mature woman, so instead I am sitting here in the Hub of the Con. I have my writing hat on. I have my writing necklace on. And I am writing.

Back in a bit. I need to find some coffee …



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A Hundred Million Miracles*

Kage Baker lived in the sure certainty of miracles.

That was not a posture  of religion. I don’t think Kage actually attributed miracles to God; I think she expected them as a natural aspect of the workings of the Universe. She expected God to be rather more workmanlike than to indulge in petty static  like miracles. Maybe she expected memos or some form of advance warnings. And for all I know, she got them.

Me, I’m bouncing from miracle to miracle tonight. The first miracle is that my computer is working. Mirabile dictu! Thank you, Thoth and Athena! Papa Legba, too, as he is usually regarded as having power over the Internet.

Also, I’m getting packed for my first road trip in over a year. It takes a miracle to get me packed even in ordinary circumstances. Kage used to make lists, and check them off prim and proper; I, alas, didn’t remember I needed a list until half of what I wanted was packed already. And then, I didn’t dare make one, because I just know I would have included things I’d already packed, and then run around like a madwoman trying to find things that were already in a zip pocket in my wheelie bag …

I have had to resort to counting on my fingers and visualizing the various scenariae I will encounter over the weekend. Do I have everything I need for the bathroom? Do I have all my meds? (I now need a pill box with 28 compartments, for all my life-maintaining drugs: pills 4 times a day, for up to a week at a time.) I recall wistfully the dear old Who, stuttering out: Hope I die before I get old!

Man, I sure missed that one by a country mile.

Do I have enough shirts, pants, underwear?  Do I have enough beyond that to survive pouring gravy over myself, or falling into a fountain? (I’ve done both, on trips … ended up on the local photo page of the Hawaii Star Advertiser, I think it was, after one such fountain incident many years ago. I was covered in bubbles.) Do I have enough thumb drives? Did I copy the work I want to do on to the right ones? Do I have charger cords for my phone, my Kindle, my computer? How about a nightgown? Whoops, excuse me a moment –

Okay, now I have a nightgown.

Do I have some jewelry? I don’t need much; I accidentally let my ears heal closed … Do I have some knitting? Not just yarn; did I pack sewing notions, and actual knitting needles? If not, I do have two matching fountain pens … Did I remember to pack a brush and a comb? Did I find the shoes I want to wear? Did I pack a second pair in case I lose the first ones? I did that in Boston, once, at another WorldCon. Lost them, I mean. Made getting on the plane home easier, but I was a trace en deshabille at the awards ceremony. Luckily, eccentricity is hardly noticeable at a science fiction convention.

But now, I do think everything is just about set. Despite all my carrying on all afternoon and evening, I have only 3 bags – a big wheelie, a computer case and a tote. My clothes for the morning are all laid out, and I have all pertinent reservations. And that is a miracle, too.

Just to spread the general miraculousness around, I include here a picture of one of the most amazing things I have ever seen: a hummingbird nest built on a ripe peach.

Dispatches from the road begin tomorrow!




  • From The Flower Drum Song
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Bad Relationship

Kage Baker enjoyed an adversarial relationship with her computer, its OS, its platform host(s) and all the Thrones, Power and Choirs of its programs. She had not the faintest idea how they all  worked, except that it had something to do with storing information in light. Her clearest understanding of how the machine worked was encapsulated in a line from the Moody Blues: … You’re magnetic ink …*

When it didn’t work, she handed it off too me and went and watched movies. or cartoons. It kept her calm.

y computer  is not behaviing well tonight. As so often happens, it got a mandatory, unxplaiined, irreversible update from Mcrroft last night. It has beenby, sslow, unrresponsive or too responsive, speaakkinng in tiongus all eveniung.

I can’t even backspace to correct the intteresting erroors youu see here: the missinng andf doubled letters, the epileptic spacing

I therefore givee up. Gonna go watch Nova drop some vulcanologist into MaunaKkea.

Catch you tomrrow.









*In The Beginning album

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