Kage Baker was a devotee of accessories. She believed firmly that all outfits and most activities were improved by having the right bling; she had accessories for all her favourite clothes and costumes. From hair clips to shoes, she gathered all the right stuff to go with every occasion, and with all her dedicated clothes.
Kage never wore any earings except the small gold hoops she had worn since she’d gotten her ears pierced at 18. She wore the same jade ring on her hand from a trip to Avalon when she was 22. And she wore the same two carved pieces of ivory for 30 years and more; they were carven from antique Mah Jong tiles by an artist at Faire, strung on linen cord in a booth roofed by an oak tree. One was a smiling sun; the other was a miniature mask of John Barleycorn, the King of All the Fields. She never took those off, not until she went in for brain surgery a month before she died.
But she had special necklaces for conventions – a string of polished pink and green jasper, another of lapis lazuli and copper. Citrines set in gold Celtic work. She had a padparadscha sapphire ring; she also had half a dozen lurid plastic rings from the ’60’s, and they all lived in the same ancient blue velvet box in her jewellry case. For Dickens Fair, she had a pin made from a cufflink with a fouled anchor emblem; she wore it in a silk scarf, for Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax. Her taste was exquisite, deliberate and precise.
On the other hand … Kage loved toys. She loved miniature civic landmarks marked in uneven gold ink: Souvenir of San Francisco! Santa Catalina, the Island of Romance! The Space Needle, Faneuil Hall, the Del Coronado Hotel shrunken down to be a piggy bank. She loved all the little plastic robots in the entire world – from the drop-weight toddling robots you sent away for with half a dozen Rice Krispies box tops and 3 dimes taped to an index car, to all the windup teeth, glowing eyes, noses with moustaches, and teeny tiny Godzillas vomiting sparks. She had a clockwork bunny – he had blood red eyes and danced in a manic circle, and she called him General Woundwart.
Kage’s desk was covered with these things: she swore she couldn’t write without them. She was probably right – I am not in any position to scoff, as my desk is likewise covered with similar doohickeys. I have a dead tree with Halloween lights in it. I have lava lights and a Kit Kat Klock. I have a 3-eyed alien from Toy Story riding a Lego rocket ship, a windup jackdaw that compulsively hops and fall over, a glass bottle of water and earth from Glastonbury, and a jointed skeleton. I have been well schooled in fetishes and good luck charms.
Kage’s accessorizing always extended to our cars. Rainbows were popular, until they got sort of politicized. For years, various of the characters from Disney animation accompanied us everywhere – only ones from the NEW films, the really good ones like Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Kage was particularly fond of Lumier, and of Shan Yu from Mulan. That was before she went all pirate, and started decking out the car with cutlasses and Jolly Rogers and air fresheners shaped like a skull and crossbones … and so, of course, I still have a pirate pointing the way on my dashboard, and another guarding the stern deck in the Cruiser. I wouldn’t feel safe without them.
I do have some of my own fixations, though. In fact, just today, a new bit of bling arrived in the mail. It’s a charming little squid, quite naturalistic, with the loveliest lambent emerald eyes. He’s about 5 inches long, made of especially squishy plastic and will hereafter grace my dashboard – just above one of the vents, so his tentacles can wave in the breeze from the A/C. Thus will the blessing of Cthulu accompany me on my travels …
Got one for Kimberly, too. It’s to match the plaques on her car’s fender, where a martial Darwin fish is battling it out with a Cthulu fish, eye to eye to eye to eye … everybody needs blessings. Blessings and bling, that’s what you need through all life’s little adventures.
Kage taught me that.