Saturday, In A Cloud

Kage Baker liked grey Saturdays. Like so many people, she loved the excuse to sleep late on a morning when you basically can’t tell it is morning. She liked lolling about in her sweats, hair barely confined in a Gordian knot and a severely-stressed scrunchy, working her way gradually from a cup of coffee to a glass of Coke. Somewhere along the sugar gradient, her brain would presumably kick in.

Errands would be postponed. Meals would be re-arranged. A Saturday grey and late enough constitutes an urban survival test: you go and search the pantry shelves to see can be scavenged from what’s on hand. What are the supplies like? Chocolate, coffee, Coca-Cola, check; enough pasta to survive the Coming Zombie Apocalypse. We’re low on bread – but we have flour and yeast. Hell, we’ve got Bisquick, Parmesan flakes and Spice Islands Italian Seasoning – that’s a  pizza right there. Sort of.

The idea was to never get fully dressed or leave the house.

When we lived in Pismo Beach, the universal overcast-ness  gauge was the sea and how much you could see of it from the front room. Since it was two blocks away, the degree to which it was obscured was a great indicator. Was it visible at all, or did the town end on our side of Highway 1? Could you see dry sand, wet sand, or all the way to the breakers? The pier was about a quarter mile long – could you see the end or not? One developed a finely graded set of comparative measures.

In Los Angeles, where we lived for 40 years and where I now dwell again, the walls of the world close down on grey days. The clouds fill up the Basin from edge to edge. They  settle right down over the crests of the Hollywood Hills, so you can imagine the Crawling Eye up there amid the cell phone towers and fire roads. Visibility is determined by how deeply the canyons between are filled up with clouds, and how far down – because they fill up from the top, not the bottom. It’s not fog, it’s cloud; it creeps down the slopes and each receding fold in  the hills is thicker with vapor.

The lid of the sky is on tightly today near Griffith Park. The Basin is socked in, but only beginning about 10 stories up. The lower air is clear but it’s been twilight since the sun came up (If it did. We take it on faith, days like this.) and nothing extends more than a mile in any direction, including up. If you get close enough, you can see that the towers of Downtown ascend into encompassing cloud cover. But until you head a few miles south from here down the I-5, you can’t tell we have a Downtown at all. It might as well be the original pueblo down there, nothing taller than the sycamores along the zanja madre, the Mother Ditch we now call the Los Angeles River …

The clouds are beginning to nibble at the tops of the power lines, now. The cats and the Corgi come in wet from the drizzle coalescing on the roses. My brain is never going to come online at all, that much is clear. Time to go read some of Kage’s stories. And make some pizza.

Sort of.

Tomorrow: Sunday, usually.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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2 Responses to Saturday, In A Cloud

  1. Mark says:

    Slight correction… Zanja Madre = Californio for “mother ditch”; not “acequia madre” which is really New Mexican or old Spanish. Similar concepts….but regional/class inflections.


    • Kate says:

      And slight differences in references accessed, I think. Going back and checking several (instead of one) volumes, I find a preponderance using “zanja”. Thank you, Mark.


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