To Do

Kage Baker was a great believer in lists. Whenever we travelled, she made out several lists – Things To Do, yes, before we hit the road but also specialized lists: Things To Take. Things For Meetings. The Toiletries List.

Because of her habit, we almost never left anything behind. At least not in the last 20 or so years – there were some incidents in our teens and 20’s, where utterly vital objects were left behind and necessitated all sorts of scrambling to fix. That’s undoubtedly why we didn’t forget anything later on. Kage devised a method to prevent it.

After all, getting 200 miles from home and halfway up the sea-facing cliffs above Highway 1 before you discover you forgot the tent poles … is nothing you want to do twice. Or finding out you’ve left the air mattress (Kage could not sleep on the ground. Very loudly, she couldn’t.) in Los Angeles. Socks and panties can be arranged, and one can usually find a spare skirt at a costume event; but some things simply cannot be lived without. I have driven into Northern Faire at midnight, flashing Kage’s passes while she was disguised as a  sleeping bag  in a duffle in the back of the truck – it had to be me with her passes, because she couldn’t drive …

I’ve spent most of today making tentative lists. When I’ve been awake. It’s cold and grey here, more rain expected by tonight – probably not a lot, not even enough to make a pleasant sound through the branches of the wintergreen and camphor trees: but the streets will begin to glisten mysteriously, and when you step outdoors – if you do – the air is wet and settles on your cheekbones and hair like gauze. Not so much rain as the lowest edges of the clouds, skimming along 6 feet above the ground and dripping down every surface they encounter. The marine layer, is what it is. Kage always said, the marine layer is not the bottom of the air – it’s the top of the ocean. We are living in the topmost froth of the waves, beaten inland to fill the Basin in a barely-tangible flood.

Anyway: it’s made me stay indoors and drowse. I am so very tired; in several important ways I do feel better, but the creeping fatigue of hosting the traitor in my body is wearing me out. Still, making lists helps. It helps me focus on being productive and surviving. It helps me make plans. And it helps me remember to do a few vital things before I end up  post-operative and half-witted.

I have slippers, of course. Not only my lovely blue slipper socks with the smiley face tread, but some beautiful white wool boots that keep my ankles warm as well. They do come equipped with bobbles, unfortunately, but I can’t actually see them so my fashion sense remains unoffended.  The cats can, though, and I have to detach our pocket panther from time to time. Luckily, she is small and slides pretty well on the rug.

I’ll need to pack some underwear and standard tioletries. My doctor says I’ll only be in a day or three, but things can and do happen. I know I will have little use for actual clothes or my own washcloth until they release me – unless I don’t bring any along. Then, it will turn out that all the new patient kits were inadvertently sent to Rancho Cucamunga and the only toothpaste to be had is the stuff in my overnight kit.It’s cool, anyway. It has sparkles in it.

Won’t need a nightgown until I get home. Hospitals provide those horrid gowns: on the plus side, they are cotton and feel nice. On the negative side, they all have the most ghastly patterns imaginable. Why on earth do they weave these things with mauve paisleys and weird geometric shapes? It’s a mystery.

I need to bring something to read (yay, my Kindle!) and something to knit, and a book of crossword puzzles. I will undoubtedly be a happy fungus, post op: again, unless I don’t bring some form of entertainment. So I’ll pack as if I think I will wake up as sharp and aware as Mr. Spock, thus insuring that my actual state of giggling semi-coma will be peaceful and uninterrupted. It’s not easy to be actually bored right after major surgery, but errors in packing and planning can do it to you. I have learned that.

I’ll need Mentos, and a pad and a good black pen: I might write. Really. And a battery-operated tea light in a candle cup. Some chocolate carefully hidden from potentially disapproving health care providers. A comb and hair clips. My Buke, so I can send some incoherent messages to you, Dear Readers. Just remember that I will not be in my right mind for a bit, and when I ask you to come rescue me from the Altarian pirates,  just agree soothingly and stay home. It’ll all be in my opiate-echoing head.

But please be assured, Dear Readers, that keeping you all informed of whatever I think is happening will be my first priority. At least notes, some comic observations, a description of what I imagined my anesthesiologist has turned into (I got a raccoon for my first stent installation, and  Captain Nemo last year.)

Today, tonight, I am obviously full of the conviction that surgery will happen soon. And yes, I really do think it will. I have the office staff of my gynecologist pulling for me, and I know how to get hold of the hive-mind at Medi-Cal, and I have Kimberly willing to assist. And having a sister by your side is worth a dozen or more ordinary assistants.

I think I’ll dictate all my To Do, Pack, Bring and Smuggle lists to her. Her printing, like Kage’s, is so much neater than mine.

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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5 Responses to To Do

  1. Remembering the words to” Good King Wencislas” and playing the tune on the morphine pump and singing along is fun and can frighten the staff/guests/ and random holiday visitors who are bring cheer to shut ins.


    • Kate says:

      Mmmm,I do know *all* the words. And so does Kimberly, in harmony, no less. I must admit, I am rather looking forward to the morphine pump; though I will have to learn how to play it properly.



  2. Carol Light says:

    Kathleen, glad to hear that forging ahead is underway and that you’ve got your sights set on the goal — which is an early return to home and hearth. Your lists sound comprehensive but I didn’t see earphones and something to listen to and on. Hospitals (and the inhabitants therein, particularly your assigned co-inhabitant) can be somewhat noisy places and TVs, while omnipresent don’t necessarily provide a peaceful gentle hum. So perhaps some mp3s of your own devising could be stored on a device to be available to you should you wish some quiet comfort while you are geographically indisposed.



    • Kate says:

      Good idea, Carol. I hadn’t thought of that, as I usually take my music straight from radios and CD players. But a headphone set would be delightful. I never watch telly in the hospital anyway, and I am sure whatever roommate I may have will be grateful if she doesn’t have to argue over soap operas and sitcoms.



  3. PJ says:

    Godspeed, Kate. Safe and productive journeying to you, wheresoe’er you wander.


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