Kage Baker ran her daily life around habits and rituals. Most people do, I suspect; it makes it easier to get through those moments when your brain derails and you can’t remember whether to marinate the London Broil or soak your socks.
Who among us, Dear Readers, has not wandered into the kitchen in the morning and become gradually aware that we don’t know: 1) what day it is; 2) where the coffee might be; and 3) who that is asleep on the couch? Life becomes easier to kick-start when you can fall back on some pre-programmed activity.
In summer, and on weekends, habit and ritual come to our rescue. Kage didn’t care if her insistence on taking a path through the house that was as regulated as a toy train’s bordered on OCD – as long as it ended up with her at her desk, caffeine to hand and all her clothes on. Kage felt OCD was a little like alchohol use- if you could keep it under control, it had many positive social and personal applications …
Saturdays at home called for making especially good coffee (we were both coffee snobs, I admit it freely), with half and half to hand. They were occasions for rare take-out – bagels, doughnuts, maddened MacDonald’s food frenzies. Mostly, though, they were time for the kind of lovely food you can only make at home if you aren’t on your desperate way to work. Flannel cakes (not pancakes; those were a dinner dish), biscuits and gravy, English muffins. We preferred Wolfermann’s English muffins, which are not only excellent simple of themselves but make the best base in the universe for eggs Benedict. And they are huge, enormous disks like medieval trenchers – a parrot can barely drag on across the table.
Summer Saturdays were for drives, of course – which sometimes ran into Sundays, if we got far enough afield. If we stayed home, they were still the perfect time for car picnics, which is where you only drive as far as it takes to get a nice view somewhere and then sit in the car and devour whatever feast you packed. Great for brainstorming, car picnics – especially when powered by roast beef sarnies, Harp Ale and chocolate macaroons. Or fresh fruit – cherries, plums, exotic apricots.
Summer Saturday evenings – ah, those were for monster movies. There’s a self-imposed limit on how many of those there are available; especially if, like Kage, you are not fond of blood and gore. The habit had begun in childhood, when Thriller and Chiller and their ilk reigned supreme in juvenile telly on Saturdays. In adulthood, Kage just swtitched the focus to a sort of general cineme fantastique and we had plenty of fodder for hot nights. Turn out all the lights except the Lava Lamps, get bowls of ice creams, and settle back for weird films! Harry would get to stay up late, sitting on the back of Kage’s chair and squeaking excitedly at all the explosions and screams, scrambling down for a bite of ice cream from time to time ….
Yestreday, school ended for the LAUSD. My sister and her husband, teachers both, are finally free – for a while at least, until summer duties kick in. But this morning was a major, household-wide sleep in, and the day has passed tranquilly on a tide of Dr. Who and Top Gear episodes. Fresh fruit and Cheetos have abounded. Dinner will be Chinese food. And we have a charming choice for the evening film, of either some alien invasion or a shark takeover.
My highest claim to usefulness today has been doing clean-up on a stretch of Marswife, which had apparently been written while I was asleep and channeling Klingonese spelling. And this, of course. But now the afternoon light is filling all the trees with gold, the corgi is asleep on my little private porch, the little black cat is purring behind me. Harry is on top of his cage, singing softly into his shoulder blades. The late day smells of barbecues and plums.