Kage Baker liked Sunday breakfasts out. She had favourite restaurants, as opposed to favourite dishes – it was the ambiance of specific places she craved; once there in the place she wanted, she’d usually order the exact same thing every time. What she ordered depended on what the kitchen did especially well, but her default choice was always scrambled eggs with tomato and an English muffin. With a view of the gardens, if they had any.
Some places did French toast especially well, or some unusual omelette – at The Gozabo in Avalon, she always ordered a sausage and green onion one, something she ate nowhere else: because no one else made the sausage from local wild pigs. At Cliff House in San Francisco, she always ordered a hangtown scramble – eggs and oysters, and popovers – because it sounded (she said) like something Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax would eat. I’d have eaten damn near anything, myself, for those popovers. They are the plus non ultra of popovers, at Cliff House.
One restaurant in Novato had the best hot chocolate in the world. For years we ended every Northern Faire there, breakfasting in luxury before we went back to strike our set.The Cowgirl Cafe in Pismo served ONE sausage patty as a side dish: it was almost a foot across, a veritable manhole cover of sausage, and Kage ordered it when she was feeling carnivorous. The Latitude Bar and Grill in Pacific Grove has the best bacon in the Universe, worthy of the Welsh princes who stole pigs from the fey.
Kage kept them all in her book of memory, and composed Sunday breakfasts out of them wherever we were. She had only one caveat – under NO circumstances would she travel after a breakfast of pancakes. It was bad luck. Eat pancakes, stay out of cars – the only time she ate pancakes, therefore, was at home when she was resolved not to go out. Or when we were at a hotel restaurant, and she knew she wouldn’t need a car at all. Science fiction conventions were pancake territory.
We went and got a nice bespoke breakfast this morning, Kimberly and I, fetching it home for the gentlemen. For a variety of reasons, including two of them not being human, the 4 gentlemen in our household do not drive … a lovely time was had by all. As I hope your Sunday breakfasts too, Dear Readers, were worthy of this bright warm day and left you all happy and satisfied.
But now, for dessert – a little more of The Fog King, eh?
The Fog King, continued
You learned letters and numbers and colours at home. Your Momma and the Many Aunts gave you baby slates and blocks and wonderful chalks and crayons and paints; but you had to memorize their names and combinations to get the toys, so you learned because you wanted them.
And while you weren’t allowed to run in some halls (though the big girls often did, but big girls got away with a lot), in others you could. And in some, you had to run; corridors and rooms with trumpet signs were running spaces, and they moved around for fun. The Many Aunts noted who took paths through the house that let them run more than walk, or vice versa, and if you liked to run, you got to learn baby tumbling. And they took you out to the parks and the shops by the seafront.
Axe Bay was a wide irregular crescent of a city along the two-winged bay. The South Blade was mostly mercantile; the North Blade was mostly residential. The Haft was a straight avenue through the center of the city, with the Ducal Palace at one end and the harbor lighthouse, the Spike, on the other. The Spike rose up on the very tip of the promontory that separated Left Blade from Right, surrounded by the long wharves.
The long curve of Guard Street fronted the Bay, with warehouses and chandleries and rope walks and shipyards and sailors’ pleasures lining the Left Blade side. Along Right Blade there were parks and beaches, more and more expensive shops, fancy hotels and baths; rich houses rose in the streets further inland. The Lacquers lived on the Right Blade, of course, but when you went down to Guard Street you might end up anywhere. It depended on whether an Aunt or Momma or the big girls took you.
It was nice with Momma, but the best times were with the big girls: because Momma wanted you to learn things, while the big girls just wanted you not to interfere while they had fun. So you got to visit everything, and as long as you saved your questions for afterwards, even the big girls might explain what you had just seen. If you told on the big girls, you probably never got to see the inside of a sailors’ bar again – but if the beards and tattoos and noise scared you, Wenekla thought, you didn’t want to see them again anyway. She liked them.
What she loved best, though, were the carts, the vendors’ carts. She loved them better than the shops, where you couldn’t touch things. They ran the whole length of Guard Street, parked all over, manned by their shouting owners. The only real difference was that the carts on the Left Blade shouted more and had brighter colours. And they sold cheaper noodles, dumplings, sandals, scarves, maps, charms, sausages and dolls on sticks, wine and lemonade in funny cups chained to the carts, jewelry … you could find anything in the wide world along Guard Street, and between the two Blades you could probably find it twice over. But you’d spend copper on the Left and gold on the Right.
Wenekla preferred the Left Blade to the Right. You could get more for a penny, which was all she usually had. There were more interesting people walking around. Better still, more of the people were children; best of all, some of them were boys.
Pelk’s father ran a fried seafood cart. Balish’s mother sold ribbons and laces. Red Davo and Black Davo denied any parentage; neither were they brothers, but were called after the colours of their hair and wandered the wharves like a pair of mismatched kittens from the same litter.
They were Wenekla’s only friends until she went to the Sisters when she was six.