The Mumpening

Kage Baker developed her personal theory of mumping in our teens. It basically involved the sort of boneless, low energy semi-depression that sets in on late winter afternoons. It’s the vacuous state that leaves you fit for nothing but sitting and staring at the telly.

Give-away symptoms include spending the day in your jammies or sweat clothes;  a decreased blink rate and a glassy gaze; general blurred fecklessness; and leaning at an acute angle in your seat. One is usually rather cross, but too vague to actually quarrel or bitch. It’s a regression to a basal fungoid state.

We learned later in life that “mumping” is also Brit slang for begging or mildly official graft – doughnuts or the odd pint for the local constable; the co-worker who hangs around your desk and eats all the best stuff in your candy dish. Kage’s kind of mumping wasn’t that active, and didn’t ever actually get you anything. It just absorbed all your energy and turned you into a sort of low-level fog bank …

When we were young, she’d announce gloomily: “I’m mumping. I am now a mump sprout. Nothing will be done today.”

When we reached middle age, she decided she was no longer a sprout of anything. She matured into a mump blossom. She favoured shawls and lap robes, then; rum and Coke in tea cups, and plates of nicely buttered toast. They were consumed without any apparent enthusiasm – enthusiasm has no place in professional mumping – but kept her alive to eventually recover from the malady.

After watching enough television, she’d get incensed at the limp plots and idiotic dialogue, and be driven back to writing in a frenzy. So mumping in front of the telly eventually led back to something useful. Unless she found vintage cartoons or classic film noir, or some of those insane Mexican soap operas. Kage could watch any of those for hours.

I’ve been veering into a state of mumpishness for a couple of days now. I think I’d have  dissolved completely if not for accidental life savers thrown into my stagnant pool by the local world. What passes for reality around here has been throwing pebbles at my window, trying to get my attention.

I got a new volume of the intermittent Vogue Stitching Dictionary – this one on knitted trims. It’s gorgeous; the mere sight of all the cunning little edgings makes ones hands itch pleasantly. For unknown (but doubtless stylish) reasons, the editors of Vogue have released each one with photos in a specific colour range. This one is in purples. It’s sumptuous.

The new flock of parrots that has swept into our neighborhood decided to settle down for a late afternoon snack in the camphor tree on our front lawn! I was finally able to see the little buggers up close – a fine big flock of Red-Crowned Amazons. They’re sometimes called Mexican Red-heads, and are hilarious to watch in the trees. Noisy and messy, but I do dearly love Amazon parrots; I’m glad they’ve decided to live here.

I have red Jello, and Belgian chocolate pudding. I have my Kindle. A good friend is making noises about maybe collaborating a story (neat!) and I’m selecting a Kage story to go in another anthology. I’m getting in a blog entry.

So while I may be a mump blossom today, I think I’m going successfully to seed. It’s the best fate for a mump blossom. My petals will decorate the grass, and a passing parrot can snip off my stem and whittle into a whistle for the spring wind to blow through; I can hang in the trees like an abandoned trumpet, and be the voice of dreams.

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 The Mumpening

  1. Honey, you write paragraphs like that last one, you can mump all you want.


  2. Kate says:

    Thank you, Joy. Thank you very much.


  3. mary lynn says:

    I woke up from a six hour nap, mumphed at Tom, flopped into my computer chair and leaned my head over into my hand and sighed. Read your post and knew what my problem was. Thank you Dr. Kathleen


  4. Kate says:

    Mary Lynn – take two chocolate bars, and call for more in the morning.


  5. Widdershins says:

    There ought to be an International Mumping Day! … Perhaps the 20th of February?


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