Kage Baker loved novelty – on her own terms. That meant she preferred to sneak up on it, examine it from hiding, then ambush if it looked interesting. If it didn’t please her, she liked having the option to creep away and deny she’d been anywhere near it.
This was because she also liked tradition. Established routines made her feel safe. If something good happened a certain way once, it had to happen that way all the time: traditions didn’t need much time to settle in, just a high enough quotient of GOOD. And she was suspicious and disapproving of anything that interfered with what she expected to happen.
It was difficult to get her to try new foods, for instance. Being one of many in the maternal dining room, she managed to refuse suspect foods much longer than usual: from toddlerhood until well into her adult years. For instance, until Kage left home, moved in with me and had to eat my cooking, she had never eaten lots of things that actually became favourite foods: Brussels sprouts. Yorkshire pudding. Any pasta other than spaghetti. She was in her 30’s before she discovered oysters; her 40’s, before foie gras; her 50’s, before lobster.
The one novelty she embraced without hesitation was travelling. Any new road was instantly fascinating, and Kage could barely wait to find out where it went. New horizons were something for which she had an unslakeable appetite. In fact, she often worked out new routes to old destinations, just so she could try a now road, a fresh approach. We had scenic routes everywhere, ways we took to the most mundane places in order to make them more fun. If we were doing an ordinary shopping – especially if we were momentarily poor, which happened a lot – then going to a new grocery store would make limited budgets more entertaining to use.
If she had a bad day at work, Kage would request the long way home – in Pismo, we’d drive down to the streets that hung just above the beach and follow the coastline all the way. You can drive for miles between the houses and the vast beach, and never lose sight of the sea. And going to work in the morning was enriched by a swing down through the municipal parking lots, to observe the clouds of terns and plovers and sandpipers sweep over the early waves.
Terrified though she was of flying, she could never resists the chance to be in a new place. I think it’s the only reason she ever consented to attend conventions out of state at all. Even so, Kage was willing to drive for days to both see a fresh city and avoid a plane; I got us 1,000 miles in all directions from the Pacific coast. Every time we passed a point we’d reached before, Kage would cheer New road! New road from here on!, leaning out the window while her braid bannered out behind her.
Good thing that driving was Kage’s preferred method of travel, too. (Though she’d have taken sailing ships if there were a clipper service between Los Angeles and Las Vegas …) Daughters of California that we were, we knew how to live in a car. If I could find a car, Kage could find a road: and we could get anywhere.
I’ve been to many more states since she died, more than she ever saw. I fly quite happily, though I can still do long-distance drives for quite a distance, too. This May, I shall be at BayCon in San Jose – which jaunt is a mere gallope, a saunter up I-5. Then in August, I am heading to Seattle, there to pick up my travelling companion – the retired mastermind who was the model for the Unfortunate Mr. Gytte – and we are going to WorldCon at Spokane. New horizons, Dear Readers, new experiences.
Plus, today I finally discovered ramen noodles, which were delightful. How I reached this advanced age and never tried them before is a bit of a mystery to me. But I liked ’em.
There’s still such a lot to do that’s new and wonderful. Kage would be pleased.
Tomorrow: next bit of the story