Happy Birthday

Kage Baker was born on June 10. In 1952. Today she would have been 59. Now, that’s fantasy for you. No one ever expects to get that old or imagines what it will feel like – at least, no one who remembers her 10th birthday. Or her 16th. Or her 21st.

Kage remembered them all. She was so patently the same person she had been on all those previous birthdays, she stared through all the anniversaries of her 5th decade as if they were Carnivale masks. And behind whatever glitter, feathers and beads she chose that year, the same assessing black eyes looked out. The 5-year old who examined the world, took it apart in analysis and re-assembled it to suit her better.

Kage spent her entire life re-making the world to what she thought it should be. I suppose most people try to do that – she succeeded. In a small radius; through her books and stories and her utter refusal to live her life any way but her own. She re-designed the world around her to a more interesting, brighter, more comfortable place; a world full of exotica and eldritch wonders and adventure, where the word “boring” referred only to the gophers in the garden and shipworms.

Aside from staggering through the last year bleeding from the emotional sucking chest wound her death left in me, I miss that corruscating world in which Kage lived. I crave adventure, I crave the other universes that intersected ours on a daily basis; I miss Ermenwyr and Mendoza and The Watchful Person and the Fog King and the dozens of other people who lived in Kage’s world. I’m trying to assuage that hunger by writing about them and sharing them with you, Dear Readers – but now I finally understand why Kage rather wistfully commented that she wished someone would tell her the stories …

Her birthday last year – man, she was full of energy! She’d been diagnosed and come to terms with it; we were assaulting the gates of the medical industry trying to get someone to schedule her surgery and therapies. We had plans! She was writing, we’d found Santa Rosa plums, and we went to her favourite restaurant in Cambria – the venerable Brambles Dinner House.  Kage had Bramble martinis – fresh blackberries in Sapphire gin. It was a wonderful evening.

I gave her a Netbook for her birthday – her Buke, that fit in her purse and which she considered vital equipment for her upcoming hospital stays. She loved it; she spent her birthday evening building a custom slide show for her screen saver, and we set up our own Harrynet domestic network (named for our parrot) for all the computers we suddenly had … it have her a giggle every time she turned it on, and the Buke informed her that Harry was up and running. Which he usually was, all around the back of her chair, swinging from her braid and squeaking.

She sparkled so. Birthdays with Kage always ran on into the closest weekend; she said we’d gotten too old to do all our celebrating in one day, so festivities were extended as far as we could take them.

Last year, I was at some convention or other on her birthday. I celebrated it privately, still gobsmacked with her loss and running all over the continent on her postmortem business. This year – I dunno. Writing, certainly; probably a movie. Maybe dinner at Damon’s, the best steak in L.A. and a demented tropical ambiance; I’ll go over to the wall-wide aquarium and give the lion fish, drifting by like a beaded Handbag from Hell,  her regards. I’ll drink one of the horrid mai tais she loved, and wear the umbrella in my hair like an orchid.

Happy Birthday, kiddo. Birthdays don’t matter to you anymore, but it pleases me to mark your entry into the world. The sky was still ringing with the echo of your arrival when I stumbled into the world in your wake a year and 3 weeks later. I’m working now to see to it that your name lasts a while yet longer here. And if any of the crap they told us as kids is real, then you’re immortal now.

But I miss you. Tell your God for me that He’s a selfish bugger, and I do not forgive Him for taking you.


Post Scriptum: the Word Press site just had a major meltdown. All the fancy fonts and design flourishes are gone, and we’re down to html code and plain straight-line frames. I must assume God didn’t care for my remarks … I don’t care. I meant what I said, and I stand by it! Send your solar flares, God! Blow winds and crack your cheeks! I survived losing Kage, and I will survive whatever you do to my writing – Kage taught me how.

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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9 Responses to Happy Birthday

  1. Margaret says:

    Of course she’s immortal – in her books, in the memories of you and everyone who was fortunate enought to know her. I suppose it’s easy enough for me to say that, since I never met her, so can’t possibly feel the awful physical absence. I wish I had, though, because from your writing here, it seems as if the three of us would have had lots to talk about; your interests and hers are/were so wide-ranging that perhaps everyone feels that way. I hope your day goes well. Please admire the lion fish for me – I’ve never seen one in person.
    Happy bitthday, Kage Baker, and if you’re in a position to do so, a swift kick in the shins to who or whatever is responsible for removing our favorite people long before we’re ready to part with them. (If my computer crashes, I’ll know the deed has been done.)

  2. athene says:

    Tonight I will raise a glass to Kage and those who loved her, with a special toast to you, who loved her best. I’m afraid it will have to be gin, though–a Mai Tai (ptui! drink of accursed name) would probably kill me. Soldier on.

    • Kate says:

      Athene – yeah, those mai tais are deadly. And the ones they serve at Damon’s are a lurid red and yellow stripy drink, rather like a melted Long John popsickle. I think that was what Kage liked about them – she loved Long John popsickles.

      Margaret – Damon’s has wild decor. The aquarium has been a favourite all our lives; it’s a salt water one, with really interesting exotic fish in it. A lion fish, usually, and the odd eel or two, big snails: Kage loved aquariums. Hey, you know what? They are having a problem with proliferating lion fish in Florida right now, and you know what the solution is turning out to be? They’re edible! People are being encouraged to catch ’em and eat ’em, and the State is supplying recipes! Cool and strange.

  3. Neassa says:

    I will raise a glass of chocolate milk in her memory. And I’ve found a pirate movie – The Black Pirate with Douglas Fairbanks Sr – to watch this evening. Stay tough and keep writing, kiddo. Love to you, and for her.

    • Kate says:

      Neassa – you were always Kage’s chocolate milk buddy. It wasn’t my tipple, but I remember the two of you happily quaffing it after a long day of Faire. Along with hot whomp biscuits.

      *The Black Pirate* is a good one, too.

      Kathleen kbco.wordpress.com

  4. Jane says:

    Happy Birthday Kage! You were taken waaay to soon. I’ll join you, Kathleen, raise a glass of wine and wish Kage wonderful conversations with a host of fascinating people who can tell her great stories and listen endlessly to hers. Kathleen, I wish you courage to continue your brilliant writing!

  5. Tom says:

    Sorry to have missed the date itself, but I must tell you I felt an odd hankering after brownies and chocolate yesterday. Now I know why.
    The world is brighter and better for Kage having been here. I do not forget.

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