Kage Baker was intrinsically a maker and a builder.
She went through the not-uncommon taking-things-apart phase when she was little; what was unusual is that she also put them back together and they worked. Sometimes even when there were parts left over. She once kept an old brass alarm clock in a basket on her desk, for nearly 20 years because the original re-build had left extra parts; she just kept trying it over and over in different configurations until it once more kept time. There were still parts left over, and it gained and lost minutes eccentrically, but it did work.
She built stone walls and terraces in the yard as a teenager; she landscaped gardens everywhere she ever lived. At Faires, she designed and made buildings, sets, stages, sacred wells, ready-made ruins. She made models and jewelry; she taught herself to make cording with a lucet, darn socks, enamel metal. She sculpted, carved, painted and illuminated manuscripts with the fervour of an Irish monk. Or maybe an Irish nun. An Irish nun on far too much Coca-Cola.
Kage’s hobbies and obsessions shaped a lot of our life. She invented an entire school of art for the Children of the Sun, and decorated several rooms with interesting friezes and brightly painted furniture. I still have Tarot cards in it, designs for stained glass windows and a couple of illustrated epic poems. She carved and painted a wooden door ward that hung on our front door(s) for 40 years, and scared off a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses with its polychromed weirdness. She put new batteries in her brass alarm clock a month before she died: it’s an old-fashioned-looking thing, Kage liked it for the tick. It’s still sitting on my desk, and still running on those batteries she put in 7 years ago … keeps time, too. I’m afraid to mess with it.
The bottom line in all these activities was that Kage designed and built the walls around her life. She envisioned an Embassy, back when we were in high school – and she built it, and it kept her safe so she could write and life as she wished. Being wise, she occasionally put in some new plumbing or got a new couch, but she never poked holes in the walls.
I lost all my walls when she died. And for a long time, I haven’t really felt I needed new ones. I’m in a good place, a safe place, and I was coming along nicely. I put up a little lattice, some light withy for shade and privacy. Some lacy curtains, you know, to make nice shadows on the walls. But recently, venomous bugs and poison snakes are getting in. I find I can tolerate the raccoons clog-dancing on the roof, but the Rough Beasts* getting in through my magic windows have become too much.
However, aside from whining and whinging and carrying on, I have done nothing about it. Oh, I tried a few insecticides and anti-ophidian traps, but it’s all patent medicine, Dear Readers. What is required is closing the damned windows, and building a few walls. Kage would be out in the yard ruining the good mixing spoon in a pan full of Redicrete by now! She’d be having me haul rocks in from the empty lot next door, carefully selected for attractive inclusions and fossils …
So today, when I opened my morning email and discovered 127 emails, I counted how many were requests for money from political machines: 13% of them. How many were re-posts of really quite horrid political rants, raves and articles from Facebook? 22%. How many were re-posts of the same screaming man holding the bodies of his murdered twin toddlers in Syria? Only 3%, but that meant 4 (rounded up evenly) people or organizations thought I needed to see those dead babies today.
Man, I have had enough.
As I do not actually desire to fall on my sword, I am taking steps. I’d have to borrow a sword from my nephew anyway (he has 5 or 6 – like all the men I know) and I don’t want to mess up his toys. So I have blocked a lot of the frenzied organizations that beg me for money and try to hold me hostage with news of their enemies; outrages. Apparently, half the Democratic Congress, most of the governors in the country, and the entire DNC will now collapse without my JUST! FIVE!DOLLAR! contributions, but you know what? They are all grown-ups, they can manage.
I have also discontinued my Facebook account; at least as far as FB and Zuckerberg will let one do that. I’m sure they will continue to send me whimpering little notes, but I will no longer get 127 stories of dead babies, homeless grandmothers and dying forests every morning. I’ll check the news from time to time, on my own time.
The idea is to break the despairing paralysis that prevents me from writing. Since I sat right down and did this entry, with considerable enthusiasm and a rising heart, I think it will work. I’ve had the minimal sense to shake the pebble out of my shoe, close the window, re-weave the aging wicker-work, and start planting defensive rose bushes all around me. So consider it a rose hedge, Dear Readers. It’ll smell nice. It’ll please the eye. And hopefully, it will stab any lurking hyena right in its rolling, bilious and blood-shot eye.
I’ll continue to write, and anyone who wants to see how – and if, and what – I am doing, is welcome to check it out at https://doctorzeus.co
I’ll be there.
*Yeats, The Second Coming. Look it up, kids.