Hobby Horses

Kage Baker  had any number of pet topics, peeves, interests and hobbies – like everyone, really; although maybe some of hers were a little unusual. But, also like everyone, she cherished these topics and would happily embark on lectures to her companions and auditors, on those subjects dear to her enthusiasm and curiosity.

And Kage could not be stopped when she so embarked. She had Asperger’s Syndrome, and once she began a remark, she would go on to the end as she had envisioned it. Anyone who talked with her was familiar with the sequence – she’d begin to talk, her conversational partner would say something: and she would wait, as tensely poised as a hunting cat, for their breath to run out so she could pick up right where she had left off. Sometimes, she’d run back a sentence or two – word for word, usually – just to make sure she was back in the right place in her narrative.

It wasn’t that she didn’t care what you were saying – she did, at least as much as anyone ever does; we’re all guilty of just waiting for our next turn in a conversation. But she had worked out what she had to say, she had a script in her head, she had a sequence, damn it, and she had to get through it. She was the same way with physical tasks, too – as so many Asperger’s folks (and lots of other people, too) are; but it was harder to notice those unless you lived with her. But Kage got up, got washed, dressed, breakfasted, caffeinated and began her day’s work: all in a carefully orchestrated and repeated sequence. And if she missed a step, she usually went back and did things over to get them in there.

Kage was perfectly aware of this. She knew she had a touch of OCD; she deliberately harnessed it to her work habits, as an engine and a tachometer. She used to tell me I needed more of it myself. I think she regarded my more improvisational approach to life as suspiciously  laissez faire, and she may well have been correct. There’s just no denying that some of Kage’s indomitable work ethic was partly based on mad compulsion.

But hey – everyone does have their hobby horses and favourite topics. Kage’s included automatons and clockwork in general; historical pomology; Catalina pottery; silent genre movies. Cryptozoology, conspiracy theories, hauntings. She’d have sold a limb for an authenticated oopart, or to taste a Black Ben Davis. And she worked a lot of these things into her stories, which I happen to think were often some of the best grace notes and flourishes in them. I have lots more, in the Notes …

And of course, I too have my own hobby horses. Maybe they’re just ponies, as I don’t think I am quite as obsessive as Kage – but I must admit, these are the topics I research idly when I am just wandering through the aether; these are the topics I consider when I don’t know what to write about.

Today is the actual, practical beginning of a new year of work and endeavour. “Old Christmas is past, 12th Night is the last -” as the old song goes; yestreday was 12th Night. Today our lights came down or changed colour, from multi-coloured strings everywhere, to just a few in icy blue and white, to honour the Winter. I took yestreday off and spent the last day of Christmas in childish soft clothes; but today I am dressed: jeans instead of jammy pants. a real shirt. All the underwear – socks, panties and bra. Yes, Dear Readers, for me complete undergarments equal social responsibility; you should see what I wear at Dickens Fair …

Anyway, I thought I would share a few little obsessions with you all today. They are interesting, nay, fascinating; there maybe stories in all of them. And Kage was intrigued by most of them, too. Any and all of them will alter the way you look at the world – and really, that is one of the Great Good Things of Life, isn’t it?  So, for your delectation, I present:

Bruniquel Cave, where Neanderthals may have been experimenting with religion. Or ball room dancing. Either way, unique and wonderful.       http://tinyurl.com/j9x4e9c

Nova in 2022. In the constellation Cygnus (best observed in the Northern Hemisphere in the Summer) two stars are colliding. They will produce a nova, expected to be visible from Earth in the year 2022. Nobody die in the next 5 years!   http://tinyurl.com/hmcstha

Extinct trees found in Queen’s Edinburgh gardens at Holyroodhouse. This one would have been especially dear to Kage. Wentworth elms have been sheltering with Her Majesty, Elizabeth the II. God save the Queen! http://tinyurl.com/jgfnyd4

5 unconsidered problems from global warning. And this one particularly amuses me. Stuff gets thawed when the ice melts, you know? Some of it is going to make life much more interesting, even though there is no real expectation of either giant monsters or Brendan Fraser.  http://tinyurl.com/hd8odd3

99 Reasons 2016 Was Good. Just because it appears I am still a semi-incorrigible  optimist.   http://tinyurl.com/z2hkk6k

There, a few little somethings to spice up the New Year. Because when you stop being able to peer through new Facets of the Universal Prism, it’s probably time to let go and die.

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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4 Responses to Hobby Horses

    • Kate says:

      These are wonderful! I’m making my way through the oopart pages with great delight. And HOW do I get those apples? I will find a way … thank you, Tom!


  1. mizkizzle says:

    Thanks for the links.
    One of my obsessions is horses, because they’re the best animals, next to cats and dogs. Did you know hobby horses were real horses at one time. How cool is that? They were small, crazy-fast, had almost supernatural endurance, and were a lot like the horses that the Romans used for chariot racing, except they came from Ireland. Connemara ponies are descended from them.


    • Kate says:

      I didn’t know that about Irish hobbies – though I know the Scots Borderers called their small, fast horses, “hobbleys”, and they wee renowned for out-running the English … most of what I know about hobby horses is medieval, based on pageant horses and the numerous horse figures used in Morris dancing and other rituals – like the Padstow Hobby Horse, famous for guaranteeing pregnancies. In fact, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire version of the Padstow Horse was downright notorious – I know a dozen or so kids born after their mothers were caught by it …


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