Drifting Quietly

Kage Baker regarded the week between Christmas and New Year’s as pretty much wasted time. Un-real time, imaginary and basically inaccessible, only there to make the calendar pages come out more or less even.

Some of the Meso-Americans, she liked to point out –  specifically the Aztecs, who engineered much better calendars than their European contemporaries – actually built a 5-day period into their solar calendar, that was officially not part of the year. It was the big Time Out before the New Year started, and the time it encompassed didn’t officially exist: but it made things come out tidily.

It was regarded as a time when bad luck was likelier to get you, and you had to be very careful about spiritual observances: time was literally out of joint. The best thing to do was sit quietly, eat at home, spend time with your family and try not to attract attention from the gods. Kage thought that was an extremely sensible tack to take for the week between our own modern winter festivals. And it’s what she always endeavored to do.

This is pretty much a week to do nothing. As far as possible, anyway. I’m spending it dozing, reading, writing, and waiting for the phone to ring. Nothing yet, but it’s cheering to know that when it does ring, it’ll probably be good news. Except for the unending string of boiler-room employees, desperately trying to sell aluminum siding to people who’ve just spent all their spare money on IPads …

Or even to us, who haven’t bought IPads but also don’t want their damned siding … I mean, who does? One house in this neighborhood has aluminum siding – I remember when Bob and Mimi bought it, when I was a grade schooler: it was a nine day’s wonder and all the kids used to ride their bikes past and throw baseballs at it, to hear the weird metallic Clunk! it made. One house, in all the half-century of my life … and you know what? Aluminim siding does last forever, and so not even Bob and Mimi ever bought any more.

There’s a moral there, a good one for the end of the year. Sometimes it’s best not to innovate unnecessarily. Sometimes the status quo is unchangeable. Sometimes it’s just better to lie low and be quiet, rather than stand up and make a spectacle of yourself. Spring is coming but for now it’s still Winter, and things sleep then for some very good reasons.

So I’m going to go take another nap.

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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3 Responses to Drifting Quietly

  1. A place which is no place and a time that is no time. Exactly. Although I usually spend it cleaning house. (Some people do Spring cleaning, we do Boxing Day cleaning). A big annual party turns out to be the only sure way to make sure it all gets scoured thoroughly at least once in a year. And sometimes, even writing!


  2. catharine says:

    what happens to babies born during this un-time? Are they cursed with bad luck forever?


  3. Kate says:

    As I recall, most folks tried not to give birth during those 5 days.Of course, as we all know, it is possible to “delay” a birth by several days: you just don’t let the neighbors find out, lol. People do it all the time. Unfortunately, the Aztecs sometimes sacrificed such children instead, especially if they were high-born and so potentially influential. As a counter measure, though, babies born in or near the Un-days were given especially lucky names, as well. . And often given to the religious orders. There’s always a way out of these things


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