Writing In The Heat

Kage Baker enjoyed, and approved of, modern conveniences. As long as they worked. And behaved themselves.

She loved someone in her immediate vicinity having a phone that would work anywhere; she preferred that it not be her, because she didn’t want to be easily found nor to answer the damned phone.  She liked electricity – she liked even more having battery operated standbys for all her toys that needed electricity to work. So she had a hierarchy of devices: her desktop computer – then her Buke, that would work on batteries – then my Smartphone, ditto – and then pads and pens for when she needed to write, all the batteries were dead, and one of the smaller devices was busily recharging on the hand-cranked charger.

We were saving up for a generator, too.

Lighting was no problem, ever; we lit the house by candles and oil lamps at need and whim, and had plenty of both. We had fire-starters ranging from the culinary blowtorch I used for creme brullee to the flint and steel Kage kept on her desk (and knew how to use). At one point we had a power outage during a move, when most of our stuff was still in boxes – Kage made a rush light out of pencil-sharpener scraps and olive oil in a big clam shell, and we were fine.

We kept sensible emergency kits, of course. But a mere power outage isn’t really cause to break into the Armageddon supplies; not when 30 years or so doing historical re-creating has littered your house with 2,000+ years of retro tech ready to use. I even have a time-keeping candle that can be calibrated down to a quarter of an hour, which is more than detailed enough for me …

Anyway, the system worked for us. It still works; Kimberly keeps her house in the heat just the way we did.

Right now, it’s 91 degrees here. A hot wind full of the scents of hot stone and grilling meat is blowing outside. There are waves 15 feet tall expected down at all the beaches, but there’s also a couple of million overheated people down there lusting after them – I’ve got no desire to join the heat lemmings.  And at least the humidity is behaving itself. Everyone is watching the hills anxiously for signs of smoke, but at least no one is having to grow gills.

Here in our household, all the drapes were drawn at dawn. (Say that 3 times fast, as Kage used to challenge …) All the windows were wide open all night, to let the coolth in; now the house is shut up and radiating heat in all directions except inside. The A/C cools the core of the house, and then a series of fans – staged in overlapping zones, like mirrors lighting the tunnels of a pyramid – stirs the cooler air out to the edges of the building. Getting near the windows on the borders is thus like strolling by a furnace, but no one’s really inclined to stare out at the heat shimmering above the street anyway.

The lights are all off – I believe, virtuously, that this will lessen our load on the electricity grid. Which is nice, since at least 3 devices with self-illuminated screens are lit all the time. The cold blue lunar light of the cathode ray tube no longer spills from the telly or our computers: it’s a fuller spectrum light, now, LED or high-definition pixils or (for all I know) super-excited atoms of noble gasses phosphorescing in 16 million colours. Not the light that lit so many of our childhood insomniac  nights, Kage and I – but one softer and more like the daylight we daren’t let into the house with its freight of unwanted IR and UV.

Man, Kage loved those glowing screens! So much easier to write in the cool dimness when your “paper” sheds a helpful glow over your fingers!

I’m combating the heat as best I can, and writing as much as possible. Blue squirrels are continuing their adventures,heading into a space that is still wrapped in fog for me –  although I believe a Bambi-style forest fire is going to provide an epic denouement to “The Teddy Bear Squad”.  And when it all get just to wearisome hot to cope, I can retire with my Kindle and read off yet another glowing screen.

Kage would have loved it.

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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4 Responses to Writing In The Heat

  1. johnbrownson says:

    A small point of pride: we keep a flint and steel by our stove, with which we re-light the pilot light, when it goes out. Works just fine, and we feel so very virtuous.


  2. I just want to say, this is a wonderful thing you’re doing. I never met Kage, but when she died I sobbed like a baby…I couldn’t even stand to read your blog because it hurt. I hope that doesn’t sound impertinent. Years later now, I was re-reading one of her stories (I re-read her stuff all the time), “Miss Yahoo Has Her Say,” and it was so good, so perfect, so compassionate, that I sobbed all over again at the unfairness that she had to die so young. I’m going back through your blog now and it’s wonderful to expand my understanding of Kage the person.


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