June 10th

Kage Baker would have been 62 years old today.

That would have made her 2 years older than me for the next 3 weeks – there was a year and 20 days between her and me. And by long-standing tradition, I’d have teased her brattily about it for most of those 3 weeks. about what an old lady she was becoming. Much lively and inventive cursing accompanied this ritual, as all good inter-sibling teasing should produce.

She might actually have been rather smug about it this year – because it would have meant that tomorrow, I would have had to start her paperwork for registering with Medicare. Kage had no intention of formally retiring, but benefits can begin as early as age 62. And a lot of the time, if you don’t hit your early mark on time, it’s harder to get properly registered in the system when the big 65 rolls along.

The last few years I have helped many folks – usually employers – start the interminable process. Because no matter what you intend to do – and more and more people are not really keen to retire and go sedentary – the good old Federal gummint gets confused if you wait to start the paperwork.

I honestly think you can get away with all kinds of nonsense from the gummint if you just fill out enough paperwork on time. Haven’t most of us known people who managed to get their dogs on Social Security, or voter rolls, or equipped with state IDs?  I knew a guy who put down “SPY” as occupation on his income tax reform (inspired by Robert Heinlein) and to his delight found he could not be forced to rescind it: because he always did his taxes on time, completely and error-free. Also, the IRS couldn’t DISprove it. The nonsense with the best paper trail won the day.

Kage threw her hands up in despair and denial, though, when she had to do any paperwork herself. She would sign wherever instructed, but refused to read it. Not that she signed in ignorance; she always got a verbal precis, usually from me. But her vision, she claimed, was not capable of reading legal boilerplate. Her strabismus meant that her off-center eye was also off-line a lot of the time, and she claimed you needed at least double vision to read legalese.

“You mean binocular vision,” I objected once.

“Nope, though binoculars might help. I meant double vision. You’ve got to be able to focus on the delirium factor,” Kage explained.

“Oh, screw you!” I replied, and returned to doing the taxes.

Typical conversation. Pretty sure Kage meant exactly what she said, too. What I’m still not sure of is if she meant what she sounded like she meant … and I must admit that there is a good chance that Kage really did see some sort of hidden writing in legal papers. Maybe it was like elvish writing, that you could only read by the light of burning bullshit …

Anyway: she’s permanently won the birthday race, and will now be my junior forever, a little more each year. She would dance a gleeful dance over that. Kage loved saying “I told you so!”

In other news, I have discovered that sneezing in a CPAP mask is as close to explosive decompression as one is likely to experience and survive. I expected all the cunning and amusingly named little bones in my ears to bulge out, like in a Warner Brothers cartoon. It certainly felt like the malleus was beating hell out of the incus – also as if the entire collection was turning inside out and reverting to a gill arch. As the incoming rush of air was pumping out my mouth and making my lips flap like banners, the effect must have been amazing, visually. Luckily, no one saw it but the orange kitten, who always looks astonished and vaguely horrified …

On the good side, I’m sleeping deep, restful sleep. Four days running now! Haven’t needed a nap and have something beginning to resemble energy! It’s miraculous. One grotesque industrial accident is not going to put me off.

Also, I got a note today from SFWA  – that’s the Science Fiction Writers of America, to whom I applied for membership last month. Their Operations Manager says YUP, it sure looks like I qualify; a couple copies of copyright pages and TOC’s, and I will be an active member.

Funniest thing, too … their Operations Manager is named Kate Baker. And it’s Kage Baker’s Birthday. Really makes me wonder.

Like I said, Kage loved saying “I told you so.”


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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