Kage Baker was a devotee of the whirlwind.
She loved catching sight of dust devils, especially when we passed one on I-5: both of us at speed and usually at a tangent. Sometimes we’ d drive through one several times as it danced to and fro across the highway, pelting us with tumbleweeds and terminally astonished bugs. She’d be be yelling and applauding with glee, while I fought the wheel and tried to see where we were going.
Tornadoes and hurricanes fascinated her, in that terrified fashion that roller coasters inspire. She watched satellite footage of eye storms on the Weather Channel, “swearing a prayer”, as Shakespeare said, in reverent fright. A day’s drive across the fine state of Missouri one summer had her white and shaking, but staring with a sort of gleeful terror at the occasional funnel cloud in the distance. And the rare winter waterspouts off our own California coast just enthralled her, even when they waltzed inland and bit holes in coastal towns.
Her favourite ever video online was of dust devils on Mars.
However, she hated metaphoric whirlwinds. A large portion of our household budget and energy was spent on maintaining a NO WHIRLWIND zone in our house. She needed clear air to work in, both physically and emotionally; the barometers on the wall above her desk took care of potential sudden drops in air pressure, and her own iron will kept the rest away. Kage didn’t answer phones; didn’t read most of her own mail; had a strictly guarded short list of correspondents. She once showed me a picture of the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre, and said disapprovingly, “This is what happens when you open the door without checking!”
Kage always figured I could decipher her metaphors without much instruction …
Me, I’ve been living in a pretty vigorous whirlwind the last few weeks. Deadlines, slogging though writing that will not cooperate, dealing with a sudden squall of paperwork – I just got a letter from the Los Angeles County Tax Board, informing me I need a business license to legitimate whatever the hell they think it is that Dr. Zeus, Inc. does … That’s what I get for putting a cleverly comic reference in the license registration for a software program.
And, of course, Domestic Storm Kitten is raging through the household. Every day, Ashby has gotten a little braver, plumper, more energetic – and somewhat crazier. She eats, sleeps and runs Madcat through the house. These pastimes sometimes segue into one another, such as racing sideways into the dog’s dish and then falling in his water bowl to get a drink. The Corgi tries valiantly to herd her, but Ashby just stands up and bounces butterfly paws off his nose, then VTOLs right over his head.
Right now, as we go through the acclimatization process, Kitten Watch is a 24-hour deal; I get the night watch, as I am the one up late enough to collect her into my bed when she gives out. Ashby pats my face with her amazing snow shoe paws, like tiny soft alien hands; purrs directly into my ear, sprawls with the abandon only babies have. Several things have led us to believe she is part Maine Coon cat – her huge paws, her absurdly long and furry tail, her extravagantly feathered and tufted ears. Her most un-feline amiability, and her tendency to chirp like a ground squirrel rather than meow. And when she’s asleep, it really shows: she is made of dandelion fluff and champagne bubbles right now, but she is looooong. Gonna be a beefy bed cat, I suspect.
The Corgi is in for a surprise if that happens. Life is increasingly interesting round here. Fifteen pounds of flying kitty is going to make a hell of a whirlwind.