Upgrading Bathrooms

Kage Baker loved having her own bathroom.

Some of this, of course, is the natural consequence of sharing bathrooms with many, many siblings – three of them boys. Some is the result of spending 30 year’s worth of weekends at Renaissance Faires, where the privies were always one of our more outstanding successes at, mmmm, interactive periodicity. And some was just Kage’s native territoriality combined with her urge to decorate every place she was ever in.

Though I was the one who insisted on having bookcases in the bathroom. Kage’s eccentricities ran more to interior decorating. I’ve never understood the need for tchotchkes in a bathroom, but Kage liked … toys. Artistic statements. Thematic deco.

The last several years of her life, we finally achieved separate bathrooms. Not that we had ever minded sharing – but gosh, was it nice! They could be so thoroughly personalized … I was thinking that I would never grab her damned horrible original Listerine again (I like the more civilized minty stuff) but she had whole worlds in mind.

Kage went berserk. She put up beach-themed wallpaper, endless breaking waves on a misty beach, lamenting that there was no way to add crown molding (Kage adored crown molding … ). Her sink and vanity were all kitted out with matching lighthouse motifs. The toilet paper was always blue or green, as were the tissues. There was a shelf shaped like a tiny rowboat on the wall. She had a Davy Jones electric toothbrush, by th’powers! And a night light with a Jolly Roger on it.

When I turned out to be lackadaisical (What do I want in my bathroom? Um – blue towels. I guess … ), Kage took control. My rug and towels were so deep a blue it made your pupils expand. She added wallpaper trim there, too – moons and stars, silver-gilt on cobalt. My water glass, my toothbrush holder, my soap dish: all the same. A mirrored white cabinet with sea-blue knobs added a dimensional portal on one wall. And for a night light, she gave me a fountain of fibre-optic threads that cycled through the spectrum, and she hung blue-white LEDs around the mirror instead of an overhead lamp.

When Kage was done, I could happily have lived in that bathroom.

She gradually expanded each motif out into our respective bedrooms, as well. Hers was maritime and piratical – a Jolly Roger over the bed, and a brass plate on the headboard that read: Officers Only. Prints of sailing vessels. Coloured glass net floats. A bar mirror with Captain Morgan and his blessed rum painted on it. Lamps with glass bodies full of sea shells.

She even managed to coax  moons and stars throughout my room, though what it was mostly decorated in was books. Piles and walls and palisades of books – but on blue shelves, with stellar and lunar sigils on them. I really did live inside her head …

Kimberly and I today embarked on re-making the bathroom here. She is of a like mind to Kage – lights, action, deco! The two of them always shared a great fondness for fiddly bits and googaws, and thought I was a real stick in the mud. And I am, I admit it; that’s why I am handling the hard realities, like a new sink and faucet and the needs of the plumber. Which involve not having the parrot watching him and commenting sarcastically (Oh, no! Ooops!) or the Corgi growling round his ankles and trying to herd him out the door.

Kimberly likes frogs and the colour green, and has many of both all set to decorate the bathroom. But she has made sure that I have deep blue towels available nonetheless, because somehow that is what I have to have. It’s very comforting, really.

Maybe I’ll go really crazy and dig out my optic fibre light again. Acid on a stick! Just the thing to liven up the family bathroom.

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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10 Responses to Upgrading Bathrooms

  1. How wonderful! My only problem would be deciding between nautical and moon-and-starts. I do have a stained glass parrot for a bathroom night light, Mexican Talavera tiles in the kitchen with suns, moons, and stars. Most of the rest is art and books. I’d have more room for books if I didn’t need all that wall space for prints, paintings and a gargoyle.

  2. Kate says:

    Ah, gargoyles! Between Kimberly and I, we have 5 of them. Plus Harry, who moonlights.

  3. I have a blue canary nightlight. It’s not in the bathroom, though.

  4. Kate says:

    Atalanta – I’ve seen butterfly fiber optic nightlights; very pretty. My sister Kimberly has one that is the silhoette of a wolf running in front of an agate full moon. Not just for little kids anymore!

  5. “Which involve not having the parrot watching him and commenting sarcastically (Oh, no! Ooops!)”

    Oh man, too funny! I love your occasional parrot tidbits here. I remember the first time I read the Queen in Yellow – with tears of laughter over that parrot getting loose in the office. You have the same delightful way of writing about birds. I’m a Harry fan for sure.

  6. Kate says:

    Well, Allison, parrots really get a hold on your life. Harry was our beloved companion through thick and thin and all manner of adventures for years; and he is still mine. Kage giggled her way through that portion of The Queen in Yellow, and I just howled when I first read it – but after living with a parrot for a while, they make an indelible impression on you. You sound like you might be a bird person, yourself …

    • Oh yes! One of the earliest entries in my babybook was “loves birds.” Horses cats and dogs too. My birds are all old now, a pair of cockatiels, lovebirds, and parakeets. The horse is even older, 34. I’ve never had a big bird, but I’m crazy about them.

  7. Emma says:

    Just stumbled across this page this evening and I must say, I’m extremely excited! I hope you’re well, Kathleen 🙂
    That blue toilet paper was truly unforgettable. I recall being absolutely shocked and slightly outraged one time at the appearance of plain white toilet paper. The blasphemy!
    But anyway, I’ll definitely being reading this page more often and commenting every now and then if you don’t mind! Its good to reminisce sometimes.

  8. Kate says:

    Allison – birds are grand. I’m an enthusiastic birdwatcher, as was Kage. A copy of Peterson’s Western Birds lives in my car.
    Harry is not a BIG parrot – Amazons are mid-sized, and his is one of smaller species of Amazon. And he’s a small specimen, too: about a foot tall on tippy toe, 9 ounces soaking wet. He is small, neat, trim little guy, without the extravagant wings and tail of a macaw. He is very fierce and commanding, though – most Amazons are happy little thugs, and Harry is typical. He’s my darling.

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