Kage Baker was a firm believer in the adage: “When it rains, it pours.” Even though it didn’t mean what she thought it meant. And even when she found out what it did actually mean – it didn’t mean that.
It is the motto of Morton Salt, of course, and refers to that salt’s superior pouring power. Supposedly, Morton’s salt doesn’t clot when it rains. Which is a foreign idea to a Southern California kid, anyway. It does not refer to the fact that when it rains, the rain pours down heavily – which was what Kage thought when we were kids. But then, she was reading the labels on every container in the kitchen by the time she was 3 or 4, and her grasp of the principles of the world was not as secure as her grasp of the alphabet.
She ultimately took it to mean abundance – cornucopia – a generous Fate. As she said to me in a later discussion of the properties of Morton’s salt: “I know, I know: it means that the salt is magnetized or mentholated or something to prevent you getting goiters, but who cares? It’s a neat description of goodies falling from the skies!”
This was a great example of Kage’s Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-heliocentric-model-of-the-solar-system Syndrome. Morton’s salt is neither magnetized nor mentholated – either of which staggers the ordinary imagination. What it is, is formulated with magnesium carbonate, which lessens its tendency to cake when it gets damp (though you still need to add rice to the salt shakers if you live in a beach town … ) And while Morton’s does come in an iodized version, to enhance thyroid health and prevent goiters, that’s got nothing to do with its anti-clumping tendencies. But in Kage’s world, it did – and pouring when the rains came meant Dame Fortune was playing the Lady With A Thousand Pockets, and there was chocolate and fireworks in every one.
So when a week brought royalty checks, and contract requests, and submission approvals, and nice fan letters, and a J. Peterman catalog, and a new story idea – “When it rains, it pours!” Kage would exclaim in delight, and dance around the living room with Harry the Parrot.
This has been once of those weeks for me, Dear Readers.
I got a little royalty check – which is never to be scorned. And I got a contract request for a story reprint – for actual money! – for “The Bohemian Astrobleme”. That’s one of my favourite stories, because we wrote it together very near the end of Kage’s life. And because the title made her laugh hard.
My agent acknowledged receipt of the new contract I sent them, so now I am once again represented. And one of the lovely ladies at the Virginia Kidd Agency has read through the e-copy of the new novel for the first time, and likes it. This may not mean a thing, of course, but being told someone at your agent’s office does, yes, like your new book is always an occasion for joy. And I got an idea while driving nephew Micheal to school this afternoon – you just cannot beat driving for story ideas, ever – which will allow me to finish off “The Teddy Bear Squad” brightly, brightly and with beauty … * And the first rose has bloomed, too: the Chrysler Imperial, red as a rabbit’s wings.**
So this is utterly one of Kage’s good weeks. So far, anyway; and it’s being so very good that I don’t think it can live down to a lesser standard at this point. Cutting off my hair seems to have loosened the constraints on my spirit, and things are being accomplished under my hands like sea foam running irresistibly up a beach.
And it’s due to rain this weekend, too. When, I have no doubt, it will extravagantly pour.
* Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land
** Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings