Kage Baker was only moderately fond of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien . No one could grow up in California in the 1960’s and remain unaware of him; and in fact she read the entire trilogy before it was famous or trendy. We both did. But she not that jazzed by the elves or hobbits. (Her favourites were the ents.) And her favourite poem in the whole thing was the Ode To Hot Water from the first volume.
During all my travails with plumbers and hot water heaters this week, that poem has been running through my head. For one thing, I have been increasingly envious of the ease with which the hobbits get their much-desired bath in the little house on the edge of Buckland: despite bad roads, late starts, mushroom felonies and freaking nazgul, they stagger in and their friends have the bath all ready – man, that is bliss. But last night I finally overcame the demons of plumbing, and have been restored to the Nirvana of hot water.
I’ve gone in to the kitchen and bathroom a dozen times last night and today, just to turn on the hot water and feel it warming up in my hand. I have some deeply-seated issues here …
A confession should be fitted in here; it’ll be pretty obvious to anyone who has read more than two or three postings anyway. Kage Baker is the the linchpin of this blog. I started it to try and chronicle what it’s like to try and finish her books that were left undone – I’ve ended up analyzing and explicating my entire post-Kage life: in general, in specific, in detail, and in the broad blurry strokes that are sometimes all I can see through the glaucoma of grief.
So the Great Hot Water Heater War connected to Kage through that poem in LOTR. I could have connected them by many other paths, as well. For instance – Kage hated cold water, and didn’t even like to swim except in heated pools; so she rarely went into our neighbor ocean more than ankle deep. A little weird, when you live by the sea.
For instance – Her hair was waist-length and heavy as copper wire; washing it required half an hour under a strong jet of water, just to get it wet and rinsed. Then it took 3 hours to dry, being gradually combed and spread out around her so it didn’t felt into new and exciting fabrics – by the time it could be tamed back into a braid, it was a foot-deep cloud all around her.
For instance – She used to cleverly leave a gallon jug of water laced with rose oil in the upper room at the Green Man Inn every morning. By the time Faire closed, she had a gallon of warm, rose-scented bathwater for a luxurious sponge bath. Me – more hurried and less modest – I bathed in the communal showers or even in the tap room, with cold water and a hose (and much noise): Kage devised a boudoir.
There are a dozen paths to link Kage and my water heater. My mind automatically finds them and connects them up – because I haven’t yet learned how to view the world except in terms of the void she has left behind. This is a part of grieving I’ve not heard much about, but it must be pretty common.
Therefore, every post has had a connection to Kage. I suspect they will continue to do so, until I figure out how my life will be shaped from here. If the writing works, as seems possible, Kage will continue to be at least part of the center. More prisms, more bits of glass and gemstone and ice, anything that will refract light will get glued in, so I can continue to write by the lillumination that scatters through them.
But the center will be Kage. She was a daughter of light and morning, and everything that reflects that first red light evokes her: dawn through dew. Ruby glass. A padparadascha set in gold.
Tomorrow: symbolic behaviour