Bisy – Backson

Kage Baker was a salamander. A desert nymph – a cactacead? – or a fire elemental or an actual genie: they’re supposed to be smokeless flames in their natural forms. Maybe a dragon of some sort; she was partly of Welsh descent, after all, although her habits of scholarship, tea and solitude were more Chinese than Cymric.

The main point is, she loved heat. She loved flame. She loved being very, very warm – so warm that other people gasped and withered and dropped noisily dead around her. (Well, some people did. All right – me.) All weather was sweater weather, unless it was triple-digit heat – hence her enormous collection of hoodies and cardigans. Her room was always a fit habitat for orchids and geckoes; mine had frost on the windows in the winter. On the inside.

Here’s the thing: climate change is altering the weather in California, especially Southern California. It was always hot in the summer, with occasional hot spells set into the Fall and Winter landscapes like small burning gems. Now,  though, it gets hot at random all year round, and the summers enjoy the climate of Pandemonium. I spent the middle 30 of my 60-odd years happily acclimatizing to a Northern California seacoast, before I moved back down here to the Los Angeles Basin – just in time for congestive heart failure and global warming to combine into perfect terrarium for a lizard. Or Kage.

The last couple of years, I’ve also spent some time flirting with kidney failure. Solved that problem by finally evicting the offending organ, but … you become more susceptible to heat when you have reduced kidney function. I can handle the weather by restricting my active phases to times when the temperature stays below 80 – but when it goes too far above that and stays there, I tend to gradually wilt and wither.

June’s been a toughie. We’ve had spates of heat well over 100 degrees, though at least the thermometer on City Hall hasn’t melted again; I think they replaced it with a wireless sensor after that happened 5 years ago. No one has ever been sure how hot it got that day … but last week it got up to 115 for several days. I did my best to sleep through it. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks, mostly – sleeping. I am dehydrating and conserving my sugars  …

This week has been better, but it’s been up in the 80’s now for a few days, and after a while even the best A/C in the world begins to falter. Our house is not a sealed environment, which is apparently what I need; until then, I just have to cope with the fact that heat radiates in through the windows, other people have to go in and out the doors occasionally, and if the nighttime temps won’t drop below 75, you’re never going to get very cool.

But June is going away in cooler style – it’s barely 80 today, and a grey cloud cover is teasing us with the faintest promise of thunderstorms. Probably all that will happen is dry lightning and more of the surrounding hills will burn – but there is actually a little cool breeze wandering around, so we may get lucky. I have lots of iced coffee  (I’m trying to both stay awake and not die of heat exhaustion) lots of loose cotton clothes, and I’m staying indoors.

And in the meantime, Dear Readers, my regimen of mostly sleeping is helping. When I am briefly conscious, I’m working on updating Kage’s own website, and waiting for the suddenly-multiple Foreign Potentates to pay me – now that the IRS has finally given them permission to do so. Italy, Germany, Spain, China – yeah, the Brits are flinging spanners left and right, but they haven’t offered to buy anything of Kage’s anyway, so I’m not worrying too much. If we get paid in Deutschmarks again, huzzah! Kage loved that.

Something approaching normality should resume by Friday, with the new month. I resort to A.A. Milne for explanations. In the meantime, Dear Readers, stay cool.



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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2 Responses to Bisy – Backson

  1. Kara says:

    I love the idea of a cactacead! I suspect Apollo would think twice about harassing someone like that. 🙂

    Stay cool and feel better.


    • Kate says:

      She would wear a chiton of glittering Coke can tabs, and a huge red hibiscus flower behind one ear. The cactus dryad was a product of our early 20’s – We used to giggle about this, drinking rum and Coke and Rose’s Lime Juice cocktails while Kage did sketches … it was an especially fetching outfit with hot pink Converse Hi-Tops.

      The Coke and rum and Rose’s Lime juice, btw, was called a “Djinn Tonic.” One of those drinks that tasted better the more you drank … went well with Bomb Pops.


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