I Ate’nt Dead

Kage Baker loved the works of Sir Terry Pratchett. She read them all, at least up to the point where she died. One of the things she regretted was missing out on whatever he had coming out in the future.

Her favourite of his story cycles was the Witches. And of the witches, her favourite was Granny Weatherwax (though she always wanted to hear more about the tragic career of Black Alice.) She was doing her best, all through her fifties, to grow up into Granny, too. She was aided in this by a certain severity of mien, a fair and highly-coloured complexion, a fondness for hatpins, and being tall and rather forbidding. Also by always going around with me.

I, too, wanted to grow up to be Granny Weatherwax. Who wouldn’t? She is the coolest of witches; the strongest, the best and the most autocratic. But of the pair of us, it was clearly Kage who had the chops for the role – because I practically have “Nanny Og analog” stamped on my forehead. I’m short, I’m fat, I hang around bars and I favour red boots. Inordinate numbers of people call me “Mum”.  I even smoke a pipe.

So, it was clearly Kage who won the palm in that contest. We were both pretty content with the aging bit, especially with such a pair of role models as Pratchett’s Witches … in fact, we were planning on dressing as them for our next Halloween. We figured Kage would be on her feet and a lot leaner by then – and indeed, she would have been perfect, had she lived. We were gonna have such fun … and we had a lot of fun just in the planning.

One of Granny’s talents that Kage most especially admired was Borrowing: assuming the mind of another entity and going out into the world to clandestinely observe things from that alien viewpoint. Kage loved the idea, and tried as hard as she could to cast her mind into other things’ thoughts when she wrote. She was always most comfortable as an observer, anyway; looking through the eyes of other creatures was almost an instinct for her.

When Granny Weatherwaxwent a-Borrowing, she appeared deeply asleep. Or dead. To prevent upsetting the neighbors (and being buried alive, which is always so awkward) Granny would hold a sign while she lay in her trance: I ate’nt dead. Kage went into her own trances while at her computer; she also put that sign up, as a way to let people know she was present but  really, really busy and they were not to disturb her. I usually ignored it. Harry bit holes in it. Writers, like witches and prophets, get insufficient honour in their own lands.

I have been deeply withdrawn of late, Dear Readers. I can apologize, but that’s about all – except to bestir myself now that I am more awake, and get back to work. I’ve been reading (the entire Dune series, and now I’m into Evo Devo); watching old television series, knitting, and sleeping. And Kimberly says I should let people know I didn’t die in mid stitch, or while following the trail of Hox genes through Drosophila melanogaster, or in my sleep.

And that does seem polite. So there you are. And here I am.

And I ate’nt dead.

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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10 Responses to I Ate’nt Dead

  1. Miz Kizzle says:

    You’ve probably read Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast novels, but if you haven’t they’re a treat.


    • Kate says:

      Oh my yes, I read “Gormenghast” when I was 13 – back when Ballantine, I think it was, was re-printing all sorts of “lost” fantasy classics in an attempt to cash in on the Tolkien-spawned enthusiasm. I loved Gormenghast, too. And it was one of the few books I read first and was able to turn Kage onto first.

      Our favourite characters were Flay, Dr. Prunesquallor and Steerpike. And we both adored the BBC production of it several yearsd ago – wonderful cast.

      Kathleen kbco.wordpress.com


      • Miz Kizzle says:

        Peake wrote a pirate story for children called “Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor.” It makes a nice gift for kids who like fantasy but are too young for Harry Potter.


  2. Elizabeth Pruyn says:

    Glad to hear that. Let us know when you come to yourself again please.


  3. Allison says:

    Februrary is a sucky month anyway. Nothing much good ever seems to come of it, bad things happen invariably leaving one stuck, or broke, or alone….and it’s cold. It’s almost over and I’m glad to see it go. I did meet you once in person, so I can cheerfully imagine you with the red boots and pipe. Always loved the descriptions in Kage’s books of Mrs Smith packing hers….pinkeeed – I would like to try it!


  4. Luisa says:

    Personally, I call it ‘hybernating,’ and can do a right proper “Grumpy Bear Mom,” when bothered.
    (Which does not happen much … anymore … heh-heh-heh).
    Recoup on your own pace, Kathleen.
    We can be patient; or
    at least should be able to learn to be so.


  5. Gwen says:

    I salute you from my own hibernating hole (its nice to know I’m such good company). I confess I’ve been sending out a similar message (I’m not dead, I don’t hate any of you, I just need to be really quiet for a bit). If firmly believe that February is made for this sort of thing – revisiting beloved books and shows, embroidering and knitting, baking. I figure I’ll come out of my hole when it gets warmer.


  6. Medrith says:

    I am glad you aten’t dead. However, don’t go low-rating Gytha Ogg, she has a tremendous amount going for her. I think she has a lot more fun than Esme Weatherwax does; after all she doesn’t have to be the good one & can cackle if she wants to. Many years ago I overheard my elder daughter (now 42, it’s been a while) tell a little boy that if he didn’t play what she wanted, I would turn him into a frog! Wow if only!!!


    • Kate says:

      Heavens, I would never low-rate Nanny Ogg! I seem to be aging into her – which always did amuse Kage. But I too am pretty sure Glytha has more fun than Esme. *I *certainly did when Kage and I were girls … but she could always slip into the Steel Magnolia dignity, whereas I was not much better than I should have been. As they say.

      Kathleen kbco.wordpress.com


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