Kage Baker considered any temperature under 70 degrees as cold. For her, every winter was a hard one. Northern California, with its frosts and fogs and occasional snow up high, was as close to an Arctic climate as she could ever stand.
Heater control in our house was a serious war. Kage would habitually turn the thermostat up as far as it would go, while covered in two layers of clothes, socks, shoes and a lap robe. She was always cold, from October to May; especially her hands and feet. I’d endure the heat until I was dripping sweat and considering stripping completely, then turn it down in self-defense. Only temporarily, though – not even showing Kage our outrageous gas bills slowed down her attempt to create the Door Into Summer in our living room.It was like she felt endothermy was too expensive for everyday use, and preferred not to temperature-regulate on her own.
And I was outvoted, you see, because Harry felt the same way Kage did. He spent winters snuggled on her shoulder, hiding under her braid and glaring at me. On really cold nights, we’d put a hot water bottle in his cage to warm it up under the night-time blanket. The fact that he never chewed a hole in it was, we always thought, proof that the little bugger knew it was for his own good.
I like the cold. I hate sweating, I loathe heat, I go barefoot and short-sleeved through most of the year; I made socks for Kage, who was a connoisseuse of stockings, but I rarely wore them. Every few years someone gives me slippers, which I usually lose under my bed because I never have them on my feet.
Here at Kimberly’s, the cats play with them. The cats consider all my foot gear as cat toys which are occasionally loaned out to me to wear out of doors. I have no idea why … but since I never do wear shoes except to go outside, it’s no bother. I sometimes have to remove a cat from a shoe, or hunt up the mate to my huaraches in the little black cat’s nest, but I don’t mind. Except when they steal and shred my innersoles. Dr. Scholl’s is second only to catnip as a recreational cat-drug.
And despite what Kage told me when we were teenagers, it is not illegal to drive barefoot in California … it can be freaking stupid, if you break down, but it’s not against the law. I felt very self righteous when my research confirmed that, but it did remove a certain interesting frisson of naughtiness from otherwise boring drives. Oh, well.
So, why am I maundering on about cold feet? Especially as I now live in Southern California again, in a house with a perfectly normal central heating system … no more eccentric cottages with only a fireplace for warmth, or weird back houses with jury-rigged gas heaters that frighten the Gas Company guy … and Kimberly, like Kage, is only a nominal mammal, and would prefer nor to have to expend her personal energies on exothermic labour.
It’s because one of the side effects of my illness seems to be a sudden sensitivity to cold. Which is a real drag, and absurd besides – I’ve lost a few pounds, true, but I have lots to spare and am in fact about as well-insulated as a seal. And it’s not really that cold in the Los Angeles Basin; it hasn’t hit 60 in a few days, but that’s not cold. Not really cold. And anyways, that’s outdoors; it’s in the sub-desert 70’s here at my desk.
If it turns out cold feet are a side effect of cancer, I shall be extremely displeased. But in the meantime, there is just no denying that they are cold, and the power strip under my desk doesn’t generate enough heat to make a difference. And I keep kicking off the power switch, too, and my computer dies … so it’s time to go shake the cat out of my slippers, and put them on. I am sure Kage is laughing at me from Wherever.
Keep your feet warm, Dear Readers.