Just Whistle

Kage Baker is, as ever, my goad and reminder. I need to write, which she never lets me forget; her voice is my constant companion, in memory. And when I find myself considering doing something that is a flagrant waste of time – like watching television while doing nothing else at all – hers is the wry and disapproving glance I catch in the corner of my mind’s eye. If she’d ever managed to master that one-raised-eyebrow trick, she’d be using it on me.

Luckily for me, she never did learn that. It annoyed the hell out of her that I’ve been able to do it since age 11. Now I feel compelled to raise a sarcastically inquiring eyebrow at myself whenever I pass a mirror. And what are you doing with your time today, hmmm?

This weekend, as little as possible. I plead ill health and elf-bolts; migraines, melancholy and heartburn have rendered me wan and listless, a veritable mushroom, a pale and fungoid sufferer in stuffy rooms. I’ve had an urge to wear purple, and fuzzy socks. I haven’t even had the energy to read; and when that happens I must either cheer right up or die outright: I have reached the utter dead end of my resources.

And it’s been raining all weekend, too. That’s actually a good thing, and I have been pleased to lie warm abed and listen to the soft rain drip off the roof. It’s been a lovely soaking rain, and the earth has rejoiced considerably under it. It’s also been a perfect rain for sleeping through, and I’ve made an honest effort to do that.

Having finally gotten myself out of bed, out of my nightgown and into some real clothes today, I managed to go shopping for wooden clothespins. Those are an essential item in my household, as they are Harry’s favourite toys. They can’t be found just anywhere – not many people still hang their clothes out on lines – but craft stores carry them as dollie blanks. Harry has a coffee cup always full of them by his daytime perch, and he spends a little happy time each day industriously turning clothes pins into tooth picks and tinder. And when I get lazy and he runs out … that’s when he attacks my knitting and shreds my knitting needles. And then laughs at me.

I did sit up long enough to chat with my family and watch some movies, and finally pin down my charity blanket project to a pattern that will work. I messed up the one I had planned a half a dozen times; I finally settled on simple stripes, and it’s finally beginning to advance in length. High time – Kimberly has nearly completed the first colour skein in her classic afghan.

Of course, the real purpose underlying all the activity – the shopping, reading, knitting, family time – is that these are the battery-chargers of the domestic writer. They drive the inner heat that keeps the vital kettle simmering on the back burners of one’s mind, so that eventually a full head of steam is built up and it begins to whistle urgently, ululating back there like a ban sidhe, ordering me to lay down all the other excuses for creativity and get me back to my keyboard.

Kage used to describe its wailing. I suggested she try thinking of it as a train whistle, calling her out on adventures; she fixed me with her black, black eyes and said, “Ha! Just you wait – it’s a  summons, is what it is, and there’s no invitation about it. When it calls, I go. And so will you.”

She’s been right, usually. It was, after all, her habit to be so. Of course, my own habits do tend to tunnel in like dastardly moles, and change all the careful flower beds so neatly laid out by Kage’s care. That’s why this meandering blog entry is being composed at half-way to midnight, to make my mark and keep a New Year’s vow.

The lovely thing, though, Dear Readers, is that once this duty is done and pinned up – well, the soft rain is still falling outside my window, and the few lights in the house are low and comforting; it’s quiet enough to hear the moth-wing flicker of the candle flame in the jar on my desk.

Now there’s plenty of time to write. So I’ll bid you all goodnight, and be off to do so. That’s no train whistle out in the dark – Kage was right. And I know 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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