Kage Baker had an enormous sympathy for Queen Elizabeth II, and her 40th anniversary speech of 1992,  in which the royal lady lamented her just-past Annus Horribilis: The Horrible Year.

In 1992, there was a dreadful fire at Windsor Castle, caused by a light in the Queen’s Chapel igniting a curtain. The Royal family was featured in some memorable scandals – Prince Charles was taped talking smut to Camilla Parker-Bowles while still married to the doomed Princess Diana; the Queen’s sister Anne was both divorced and re-married, becoming the first Royal to do so since Henry VIII. Elizabeth’s son Andrew, the Duke of York, had to fight an accusation of sleeping with an underage girl. His estranged and soon-to-be-ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, was caught in some poolside foot fetishism with an American businessman. And Elizabeth’s husband, Prince  Consort Philip, declined to pet a koala on a state visit to Australia, in case it should give him “some ghastly disease”. He also commented, when asked what he thought looking back over his life, that he wished he’d stayed in the Navy …

Queen Elizabeth must have wished, in 1992, that she could still import French swordsmen for some relative pruning.

Oh, and Pakistan beat the UK in the World Soccer Championship, too.

For Kage, too, 1992 was the Annus Horribilis. It was the year of the Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles, which were rotten for everyone. The riots destroyed several landmarks of Kage’s life, and so terrified the insurance company we both worked for that they left California for South Carolina.

That was also the year Momma died. We both lost our jobs, we lost our house, and we ended up fleeing Los Angeles with everything we could fit in my van. And Kage never, ever came back.

I didn’t much cherish 1992 myself. However, it lost out for the No. 1 spot on my fecal roster in 2010, when Kage died. However, for sheer continuous low scale pain and frustration, 2015 is doing its very best to qualify for the top 10.

I caught shingles.  I think; whatever it was, it was ugly and it hurt. My flu shot was reported to be only 25% effective, and I caught 3 of the 4 flu strains it was meant to prevent; I had the flu for most of January and February, and it felt like I hacked out a lobe of each lung. My agents had various breakdowns and had to be talked down out of the trees. My travelling computer croaked it, my Kindle croaked it also, and I had to spend money I didn’t have to restore at least part of my electronic safety net. Two of my 1099’s never arrived, making tax season even more exciting for a self-and-barely employed writer.

These are all small things. Their main poison is that they have never stopped – the year so far keeps tripping and falling into yet another pool of crap. This week, my poor sister Kimberly has developed appalling pain and inflammation in her hip – and since she pretty much runs this household, and can barely walk, sleep or drive … well, it’s been a frantic time. Michael and I are filling in as much as we can, but Kimberly hates to relinquish some of the reins she so expertly manages – and some things, like finding a comfortable way to sleep on a bum hip, are not things some one else can do for you.

And to top it all off, last night at the grocery store, I backed into a little old man in a wheelchair. He was leaning over behind my car (according to a witness) and was essentially invisible. And I barely nudged him. He wasn’t knocked over or anything. Still: I backed into a little old man in a wheelchair.

No, he was not hurt. No, I did not run away. No, the police did not blame me. I called 911 and waited for the police and the paramedics; the paramedics pronounced him just fine, and I was courteously told I was free to go. We exchanged what information we could – he spoke only Armenian, and didn’t want to talk to me at all – and I reported it all to my insurance company.

Now I just wait to see what happens. Best scenario is that his family lawyer calls me up and yells at me. Worst scenario, I get sued. Ha ha ha, in that event – I am a dry well.

A sad, scared, depressed dry well. Having a low-level shit storm breaking on my unhappy head yet again. I have taken desperate refuge in my new Kindle, and am spending an inordinate amount of time reading. So sorry, Dear Readers, but it’s my tried-and-true safety zone in times like these.

Next week, though, I am going to BayCon: Women of Wonder! in Santa Clara – May 21st through 25th, I shall be swanning around the Hyatt at the Convention Center, in the hands of my entourage – Neassa and Michael, who are excellent me-wranglers. I shall write from there, and people-watch (“The things are also people …” ) and have a wonderful time pontificating from the several soap-boxes the nice Con staff has assigned to me.

In the meantime, I shall try to rise – again – above this unending tide of crummitude and woe. And if there isn’t a word like crummitude, there bloody well ought to be.

Annus horribilis, indeed. You know, a 9.8 earthquake is predicted for the 29th of May – something to do with planetary alignments (the perennial excuse) and that dear old mountebank, Nostradamus.

It’d almost be a relief …

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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10 Responses to Horribilis

  1. Luisa Puig says:

    Oh No! Golly, I am submitting all sorts of prayers, offerings, and dances (which for me is a big thing) to any and all Dieties to intervene on your behalf, Kathleen. Whatever is the source of all this agony *must* be halted. Gentle hugs to Kimberly, too. Egads, annus horribilis, indeed.


  2. Luisa Puig says:

    PS – I suggest you try and get any parking lot security video footage from the store ASAP. IIRC, such footage is not necessarily kept for very long (24-52 hours?) before it is re-used (i.e., taped over). Also, I hope that perhaps among one of your many St. Alban’s Guildmembers might be of the Legal Trade, and could perhaps assist you in getting said footage (stores can be fussy sometimes about who gets what). You know, legal advice is always good to get anyway.


  3. Gerry says:

    I’m sorry to read about your troubles. But the dear old Queen and her family have come back very strongly from their bad year, and I’m sure you will too. I generally enjoy reading your blog, especially about the new tales, and I’ve started buying a new set Company books, my original ones being in storage. They’re down in Bournemouth, where I used to live, on the south coast of England. Kage captured the spirit of that region so well in one her her stories, did she actually visit here, I wonder, or could she have picked up such authenticity from research?


    • Kate says:

      No, Kage never travelled outside the continental United States. She hated flying. But she was a determined and accomplished researcher – via maps, Google, documentation, primary sources like court and parish records, correspondence and memoirs. She tracked down first-person accounts of things as diverse as Turkish cemeteries and stone knapping. Also, she had an astoundingly accurate ear for dialects and accents. It was a matter of great pride to her that her depiction of various locales was often taken as first-hand knowledge by natives – among them the UK, and the Basque country …


  4. Miz Kizzle says:

    What Luisa said. Lawyer up, pronto! A consultation is usually free (at least it is in my state.) The best case scenario is the old fellow just shook it off and that will be that. I hope you got the witnesses’ names. In future, it’s a good idea to get names and contact information of anyone who witnesses a mishap. I know it’s hard to remember all that stuff when TSHTF.
    Oh well, worse things happen at sea. I just finished reading Dead Wake by Erik Larson about the Lusitania and holy cow!
    It wasn’t Prince Philip you backed into, by any chance, was it? He’s my favorite royal. The things he says just crack me up.


    • Kate says:

      I have statements, names, phone numbers, police report(s) photos, and the police got the security cam footage – not that it shows much, but they’ve got it. At this point, I have done all I can and am waiting for the return of the business week to see what happens next. If anything … prayers are gratefully accepted. But I do think we are covering all the necessary bases. I simply hate the necessity. I am terribly thankful the old gentleman was unharmed, but I hate going through all this.

      I’ll probably never find out what he was doing bent over in his chair behind my car …


      • mizkizzle says:

        Having a somewhat jaundiced view of humanity, I wonder if he might have stationed himself there, crouched down, hoping. to be bumped. I once worked with a woman whose parents made a nice living from suing for slip and falls.
        Anyway, I’m praying that it all blows over.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Kate says:

    Curiously enough, I too have a somewhat jaundiced view … and the possibility of a scam did indeed occur to me. But what *really* set off my radar was nearly everyone else – 2 of the witnesses, a paramedic and one cop each took me aside and confidentially advised me to beware of the same thing. I’m prepared to fight the good fight, or at least the factual one … and I am bolstered in my intentions by the fact that you cannot get blood out of a turnip. I am the very Queen of Turnips.


  6. Lynn says:

    Kathleen, our best collected Downward wishes for you. I knew it had been a rough five months but didn’t understand how very rough it has been. Gerry got it right; the Royals bounded back from their horrible year and you will too. You are built of very stern stuff.

    Regarding old Armenian men: having been raised around many of them, most are the sweetest people in the world. It’s the younger generation (and I mean 65 and younger) who will sell you a line and be offended if you don’t believe it. I would hope that a lone non-English-speaking Armenian wouldn’t be hiding behind your car in the hopes of a suit against you. The non-English-speaking part is what I’m focused on – and he could have been killed. However, his son, may rocks from holy Mt. Ararat roll down on him, might see this as a great opportunity to bleed your turnip.

    You’ve done everything you could to arm yourself; it seems you’ve had some really good advice. Read your Kindle and sleep lots. Knitting will help you, I’m sure. Find yourself some of the most luxurious wool you can afford, a pattern you can do in your sleep and meditate on peace and fluffy sheep on a warm, green hill.


    • Kate says:

      Thank you, Lynn – excellent advice all around.

      If I even have an internal vision of an Armenian (and I don’t think I do … ), it’s probably of Sandra nee Mehtarian: a generous and loving friend of mine for decades. That, and all the nice folks I’ve encountered in most of a lifetime living next door to Glendale … this incident has left me slightly flabbergasted, but there’s no question that I am responsible for bumping the gentleman, and I have every intention of honouring that responsibility. I’d just like not to end up in jail or something while I do it.


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