Holding Fast In The Storm

Kage Baker loved all her techno-tools. Machines fascinated her, especially ones she didn’t really understand. She enjoyed that combination of high-tech and mysticism.

Not that she trusted them, mind you. Kage didn’t trust much of anyone, really, and her computer – for all she considered it a limb of her muse – was no more trusted than anyone else. But she worked out coping mechanism for its inevitable betrayals, and wasn’t really surprised when the hard drive lost its mind and a week’s work.

She also loved the inexorable tidal sweep of unmitigated weather. We lived most of our lives literally on the edge of not-very-civilized areas, and Kage liked that. Doing Faires, we had to really care what the weather did, for weeks at a time – outdoor performances, even in sunny California, are subject to the whims of rain, wind,  snow, scorching heat, sudden fog, peat fires and plagues of malign insects; and none of those, Dear Readers, is a euphemism.

And when we weren’t living in leaky cottages in dirt-road villages, we were living in unpaved oak groves, or the weirder parts of the Hollywood Hills, or on the very last sandy edge of the North American continent … places where the walls are ancient wood and salvaged canvas; places where the incoming tide crests half a block away in a really wet storm, and ducks and deer and foxes come to shelter on your front porch.

So she didn’t trust the weather, either; but again, it seldom surprised her. When an owl fried itself on the town power lines and left Pismo with no electricity for 3 days in the arms of a Pacific gale – well, Kage took that as a demonstration of the nature of owls and storms. When a pelican ran into the telephone lines and hanged itself, and the rescue truck hit the pole and knocked it – plus the next 5 or 6  connected poles – into the local 7-11: that was just business as usual. Kage quoted Coleridge while she watched the crews disentangle the unfortunate bird, and laughed her ass off.

When the Front Market of the Northern Faire flooded one morning before Opening, Kage kilted up her skirts and joined the rest of us in a bucket brigade to drain it. When the peat parking lots caught fire during an Old California performance, she kept customers’ kids quiet all afternoon with ghost stories; when our fire fighters came in to rest with their boots still smoking from the burning ground, she was on the team pouring water on their feet to put them out.

It was all business as usual in our peculiar life. Kage liked it that way. As long as you expect the weather to produce prodigies, or your electronics to develop antagonistic AI personalities, it all provides an additional cachet to life in general.

Tonight, it is raining like hell in Los Angeles. It wasn’t supposed to – the latest Stormageddon that has had the meteorologists’ knickers in a twist was forecast to do its worst North of Point Conception.  And apparently, it has done quite a job, from Santa Barbara to the Oregon border. One of the redwoods that had a road cut through it fell over. Part of Highway 1 fell off the mountain at Ragged Point; more of it is slipping in Pacifica, and Santa Cruz. There are local floods from the Marin Highlands to Santa Rosa. The Russian River is probably migrating by now.

Here in L.A., the Los Angeles River is being evacuated – people live and play in it when the droughts are in season; then it rains and the River fills up, and the islands dissolve, and the Fire Department has to rescue lots of hapless homeless folks and idiot surfers. There are mudslides everywhere where a fire has previously burned – which is 75% of  everywhere – as well as in every hillside street – which is 50% of the rest of the city. Everyone forgets how to drive, and hits utility poles. And all the lines comes down under the weight of rain, and wet squirrels, and depressed raccoons.

Which should happen pretty soon. The roof is sounding like a drum, and it seems to be raining sideways on the windows.

So all the while I’ve been writing this – my computer has been having intermittent TIAs. When it’s clinging to consciousness, it is moving at (last time I checked) 50 kilobytes the second. And I assure, Dear Readers, I am not using a nostalgic broadband connection …

But it wouldn’t surprise Kage; not at all. She’d back up her work every few minutes, and she’d be using a thumb drive for security. The candles and oil lamps would be set out ready for the power to fail. She’d swear and pound on her desk when the screens froze (as they have been doing) and then forge on. So I have, too.

Though I’ve made sure my Kindle is powered up for when I’m done here. And I have a pen and a notebook ready, too, in case writing must be indulged. And quite honestly, I have no idea when and if this latest offering will reach any of you, Dear readers. Word Press keeps kicking me off and neither Facebook nor my email will let me in at all.

But I am here!  I raise my small lantern in the night to all of you, and fondly believe I can see the faint, warm sparks of yours out there in the drenching dark.

Stay safe.


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 Holding Fast In The Storm

  1. Mark says:

    When the peat parking lots caught fire during an Old California performance, she kept customers’ kids quiet all afternoon with ghost stories; when our fire fighters came in to rest with their boots still smoking from the burning ground, she was on the team pouring water on their feet to put them out.”

    Huh? I think you’ve got your fires mixed up…. Old California was the fire that started at Archery, when a duffus to remain nameless put a hot weed whacker down in fresh cut dried grass and sparked an inferno that ran up to the top of the hill. I remember because I was one of the guys who dropped everything (a booth I was running) to hump hose up the hill along the side of the fire….and that’s *not* a great place to be trying to drag yourself & and 80lbs of hose up a slope in moccasins.

    I’m pretty sure the peat bog “carbon condition” was actually at a Renaissance Fair….


    • Kate says:

      I remember multiple peat fires during Renaissance Faires, Mark. And I remember two of them during Old California – but to tell the truth, I never found out how those fires started. I guess it’s not exactly surprising that a weed whacker on the slopes above Archery would catch easily … what I most clearly remember is the afternoon you gentlemen came back to the area outside the Red Barn with your boots smoking, not where the fire started.


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