It Feels Like Saturday. Or Maybe West

Kage Baker believed that how a place or time felt was more important, and more informative, than what or when it actually was. If a day felt like a weekend (or weekday), her responses were tuned to what it felt like, disregarding what the calendar said about it.

The general ambiance of a place was an even more Kage-specific indicator.  I’ve mentioned that she sometimes decided that wherever we were “looked funny”; or worse, the people there did: we would depart, while she spun me stories of just how the people were strange, and the probable fate of strangers who stayed there. (Sometimes justified, too – non-residents are not welcome in Ballena Bay.) There were times she could not bear to be traveling for too long in a given compass direction; or, conversely, felt that it was a good day to drive north for a few hours.

“Wake up,” she’d announce, striding into my bedroom, “we need to go north today!”

“Where? How far? How long?” I would mumble, groping for my glasses (I always hear better with my glasses on).

“I don’t know. I’ll tell you when we get there.” Then she’d go work out a travel route where we didn’t slip on to an eastbound road while we were also going north. Going east made her uncomfortable.

This is an interesting way to design road trips, and I usually enjoyed it enormously. One memorable occasion we started out from Pismo on a Friday morning, and went on through all the coastal towns between there and San Francisco. Nothing was planned, we just didn’t feel like stopping or turning around. It took us three days to get home, camping and staying in motels at random: the best one was the hilariously named Borg Motel in Monterey. Incredible sea view, and the best bacon on the coast in the restaurant next door – if you can avoid being assimilated.

Why did I put up with this? Well, like I said, it was interesting. Stories got told, and we sought for and found fascinating things. We’ve explored most of the small graveyards on the California coast, for instance – a stone mausoleum in Arroyo Grande with a broken roof filled by an enormous honeycomb, honey dripping down its walls; the dappled deer that graze all fearless between the headstones in Pacific Grove; a cemetery almost abandoned in Port Arena, where ground squirrels have built a metropolis between the graves and the ground opens up most alarmingly under your feet.

We’ve found wonderful – and merely wonderfully strange – rest stops and parks, with plaques honoring pioneer wives, and merchant seamen. and the dead of 4 wars in a town so small the total was less than 20 names: none forgotten, though. Commemorations of Freemasons and dry stone masons and some family named Mason who introduced a special variety of grape to a valley up North. Signs extolling the Rare Santa Clarita Valley Prune (all in proud caps on the sign), or fruit stands with two dozen unlikely flavours of pistachio nuts, like jelly beans. Farms that bred miniature horses, sheep, cattle, poodles; someplace called The Pork Palace that had a huge sign proclaiming itself OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, but with no indication of what it was open for – we figured it was either a temple to bacon or a brothel.

Today, as the year has nearly run out, is loose in time in just this way. I got out of bed at a sane hour, but it feels like a Saturday today, not a mundane Wednesday. Can’t tell the time, either, because Los Angeles is once more pent under a rainstorm. So we went to the movies – The Deathly Hallows, which is long and dark and weird and so does nothing for one’s sense of temporal stability. Good movie, though; good way to spend a Saturday.

And I think it’s a good day to have breakfast for dinner, too. Kage would agree it just feels that way.

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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4 Responses to It Feels Like Saturday. Or Maybe West

  1. Valerie says:

    Oh, Kathleen! I stopped by our small local library today, hoping I could reserve Bird of the River before somebody snatched it up again. As I asked the librarian for it, a pleasant young man, another librarian, asked, “Is that by Kage Baker? I have it out – but I can’t find it.”

    Which led to a pleasant conversation about Kage’s work. He had a true appreciation of her intricate plots and characters, while I praised her unerring taste in word choice. I concluded by cheerfully threatening him with harm if he didn’t cough up the book. (Because now I’m having to read Bujold again, and it wasn’t a Bujold day, it was a Baker day. My natural inclinations are being thwarted!)

    This is the same benighted library that discarded Anvil of the World a few weeks ago, just when I wanted to read it. I found the discarded copy in my favorite thrift store the day after I’d tried to check it out, so that worked out okay. Thrift stores are like magic oceans – they tend to throw what you’re needing right at your feet.


    • Kate says:

      A friendly librarian is a resource beyond rubies, Valerie. Hopefully he will find BOTR for you.

      It’s a weird thing about Kage’s books in libraries. They always start there – libraries have always been her allies – but they all get stolen. I have had people write to me proudly to tell me how they were compelled to make off with some edition of her books. I never want to be rude to fans, but I usually have to very carefully choose the words to tell them that stealing from libraries is WRONG and they should put the books back … dreadful karma, stealing books. Go to thrift stores by all means, but don’t pilfer from libraries!


      • Valerie says:

        People steal books from libraries…and then tell the copyright holder about it? Whoa. Here I thought I was so old and cynical, and there’s something that can still shock me!

        Libraries are sacred.


  2. Kate says:

    Most of the folks who stole Kage’s books and then told her about it were actively boasting. Other writers tell me they get this, too – it’s like the book stealers feel they have struck a blow for literary freedom.

    People are strange.


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