Kage Baker didn’t really like surprises. She was unnerved by the element of ambush implied in them; and after growing up with three brothers, she was especially leery of practical jokes.
Not the boyos were very good at them, you understand. Senses of humour are on the grim side on the spear side of the family, and two of our brothers are also not the brightest members of the clan … in fact, their jokes tended to go horribly wrong. The old classic of the bag of burning dog shit was likelier to set the doormat on fire than trap an intended victim with stinky stickiness.
And Kage simply didn’t like feeling out of control. So presents were problematical, because she fretted so about them before hand. Would she like them? Would she have to be polite if she didn’t? She tried to hedge her bets by being psychotically precise about what she wanted, and learned to soften her blunt honesty when we less-OCD types messed up. By the time she was 35 or so, she was unfailingly gracious no matter what turned up under the wrapping.
I kind of like surprises. I do have rather quick reflexes – developed by dealing with leaking beer kegs and insane improv theatre – and occasionally shriek or leap straight up in the air when taken by surprise, but mostly I’m cool. And even in these days of postal paranoia, the sight of the UPS or FedEx trucks stopping in front of the house is a thrill. Shopping on the internet has made mail deliveries so much more frequently interesting!
Today, I was blessed with two boxes of complete surprise; both were delightful. They came in identical good old USPS flat rate boxes, their return addresses obliterated by enthusiastic stamps, so they were an unknown until I got them opened.
One was a deck of exquisite Tarot cards – The Incidental Tarot, from Holly DeFount of Raven and Rose Art. I contributed to her Kickstarter Campaign, and have just been rewarded with Deck No. 69 of 160 Limited Editions.
The other was a box of knitting goodies from my dear Faire and knitting comrades of Northern California: several sets of wooden double point needles in larger sizes and an hysterical project bag featuring a pattern of alien skulls over crossed knitting needles. And an invitation to join a chemo cap project, so I am happily starting the caps I didn’t need to make for myself, and will pass on my good luck to some cancer fighter who did lose her hair.
Thank you, Dear Ladies!
Wonderful things! Wonderful projects! I have been run over and ploughed under by exhaustion, Finals Week (but it’s over!) and a deepening depressive fit: these things are all just what I need to feel better.
Despite hating surprises herself, Kage was not above perpetrating them. I think she’s doing so now; because, after more than two years, I am suddenly dreaming of her all the time. The dreams are nice – the waking is hard. Twice I’ve fallen out of bed, rising from somewhere I no longer sleep and headed for a doorway that doesn’t exist in this house, thinking I could find Kage. I keep waking myself up talking to her, too, and scaring myself and Harry to bits.
I guess if I can get used to the dreams, I can enjoy them and defeat the depression of being nightly reminded of her death. The cards might help – Kage was a skilled Tarot reader (“The cards never lie,” she would say solemnly. “The old gypsy woman is full of shit, but the cards never lie.”) and maybe I can derive some psychological ease with them. Besides, they’re simply gorgeous … and the knitting will give me something more active and social to do with my evenings.
Lately I’ve been sitting in the dark playing game after game of solitaire mahjong on my computer, until the wee hours of the morning. It’s kind of Zen, but it’s fatiguing and in the end one is left merely sleepless and seeing Chinese ideographs in one’s hallucinations. Is that a West Wind under that willow rose? Can I move the necessary tiles to free it? Where the hell did a Pepsi logo come from?
So I am going to reclaim my seat on the couch and watch some telly with my sister, and knit some caps. Lots of caps. These newest needles are just what I needed to do it, and it will be good for me. And when I dream of Kage, I can tell her I’ve been busy, and a good girl.
Something odd is in the ether this week; we’ve each seen our resident ghost, the Black Dog is trying hard to chomp our shins, and Tuesday night Kage was much on my mind.
The sky was just as I remember it from the night a few years ago when I saw a satellite launch that Kage said went right over your place in Pismo. Quite something, given that I was in Fullerton at the time!
The sun had set, but still made the rocket contrail glow with faerie gold that night – eventhough it was over the edge of the world. On Tuesday, there was a whisp of cirrus in the sky of similar shape and color.
I wish you peace, and safety from Harry for your new needles.
When we lived in Los Angeles, one could sometimes see the launches from Vanderberg – it was always exciting. Moving to Pismo – where the roar and shaking was sometimes obvious – was even more so. So I remember her being thrilled when you reported that you had seen one of them all the way down in Fullerton, when we had just seen it fly overhead. You were always one of Kage’s most dependable and enjoyed windows on the wider world, Tom.