The Official Season of the Weird

Kage Baker enjoyed not just the standard seasons of the calendar year. She also got a lot of pleasure out of celebrating seasons of her own devising. Part of it was her firm belief that there were simply not enough reasons to celebrate in your plain vanilla year. Some of it was, I think, that she got an extra kick out of declaring definitions of reality out of her own busy head, and then enforcing them.

As the redoubtable Adam Savage has said: I reject your reality and substitute my own.*

October starts the Official Season of the Weird, in my personal calendar; it usually extends about to the end of February, and definitely depends on as many trips up and down I-5 as I can manage. It has a brief resurgence in late summer, when the Silly Season usually takes over the news cycle. You know, thing like men biting dogs, UFO swarms, mysterious odors or vagrants or unearthly animals strolling though neighborhoods. Lake monsters. Huge hairy green and purple things romping down Los Feliz Boulevard (true story).

Kage also lit our several Lava Lamps whenever we were engaged in brain-storming on a story. That is because Lava Lamps are the Official Lamps of the Weird. We have three in the household now; a yellow one with coloured glitter, a blue one with silver glitter, and a clear one with purple goo.  That last one makes shapes like mutant brains and alien internal organs, and can inspire no end of demented ideas.

Of course, it also helps to search for, note and file away such interesting weirdnesses as may come to light at any time. One of the newer (and most tragic) phenomena I’ve noticed lately is the animal or plant that has been sighted only a few times, and is now being declared extinct. Let us raise the final glass to a few of these unfortunate species, now known only to the denizens of the Western Isles …

Rabb’s fringe-limbed tree frog, discovered in 2005 and gone from the wild in 2007. Schomburgk’s deer, whose last known representative was killed by a drunk in a Thai temple (hey, these things happen …) a few years after it was identified. Several varieties of Hawaii’an birds, whose names consisted mostly of the letter “O”. The Stephen’s Island wren, who was discovered by a lighthouse keeper named David Lyall: and was rendered extinct within the year by Mr. Lyall’s pet cat, Tibbles.

On the other hand, an extraordinary number of things have been declared extinct, only to be inexplicably found alive and breeding somewhere unexpected. I’ve covered lots of these, attributing them to the Company, of course; but there are more and more of them each year! Something is going on … By now, Dear Readers, you must all be familiar with reputed revenants like the thylacine, the North Pacific Right whale, the Cuban solenedon, and – my personal favourite – the Lord Howe’s Island Giant Stick Insect. And, of course, the  poster creature of not-extinction, the coelocanth – a huge, inedible fish still constructed along lines all other fish gave up 65 million years ago.

However, other, less well know and slightly more recent extinct animals now known not to be gone include: the dwarf elephants of Java; the  Australian Night Parrot (a flying cousin of the New Zealand kakapo; the 5-foot long Palehouse Earthworms of Washington State, which are said to smell like lilies of the valley; and the pottok – Basque ponies that look precisely like the horses portrayed in cave paintings 30,000 years ago. Pottoks have been living quietly unremarked lives for 30 millennia, up there in the Pyrenees with Joseph’s relatives …

There are also non-biological weirdnesses, too, that seem to get more common in this season. For instance, there is a recent new theory that Planet X – oft-predicted and so far undiscovered – is actually a mini-black hole, left over from the birth of the Solar System. Something with an enormous gravitational drag is out there playing pinball with the frozen objects of the Kuiper Belt. Within the last year, Mars has been shown to possess vast underground seas – albeit mostly frozen – as well as its very own teeny-tiny, eccentric magnetic field.  More stars have been found dimming at peculiar and unanticipated intervals, like Tabby’s Star: are they all orbited by alien mega-structures? Who knows?

A mineral never before seen on Earth has been found inside a tiny diamond speck ( Tardigrades , perhaps the cutest microscopic animals in the world – okay, maybe the only cute microscopic animals – are theorized to be living on the Moon, abandoned there like Matt Damon on Mars  ( There is an actual brain drain in the human skull (

As Kage used to say, Life is not only better than we were ever told – it’s much stranger.

On a purely personal note, I recently stubbed my toe on something peculiar in my bedroom. Not that there is anything peculiar about tripping on something in there – my room is a morass of discarded objects, fallen books, mismatched shoes, sleeping cats: if it can be fallen over, it lives in my room. And I fall over it. Anyway, on seizing up the offending thing, I brandished it in outrage and demanded to know what it was. That was when I recognized it as a weird sort of mallet doohickey found in the Northern Inn decades ago. We never knew what it was supposed to be, but Tom Westlake used to pursue suspected vampires with it, followed by his minions brandishing stakes.  This is what it looks like:







It’s a bit battered. It has been used to chase vampires, smash rats and pumpkins, and is at least as half as old as I am.

Now: this is what Ronan’s the Accusor’s war mace looks like, from Guardians of the Galaxy:




Why did I find Ronan’s mace in the Green Man Inn, 30-odd years ago? How did I carry it with me for all the intervening years, and never notice what the damn things is? In fact, I don’t even know how it got into my bedroom.

The Season of the Weird, Dear Readers.

It’s… right … behind … you!






*One of the founders of Mythbusters; now the head of Savage Builds (on Discovery).

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Now Is Gone September

Kage Baker liked to sing that refrain, as we whirled over the line between September and October. It was a play on an old Faire favourite:

Now is come September, the Hunter’s Moon begun;

And through the wheaten stubble is heard the frequent gun.

The leaves are pale and mellow, and kindling into red;

And the ripe and bearded barley is hanging down his head.

All among the barley, who would not be blithe,

When the ripe and bearded barley is hanging on the scythe?

Because, you know, tonight is the last night of September. After this, we are really dancing in the dark by the light of the harvest moon; plus whatever stars we choose to drape amid the branches and boughs.

Who could not be blithe? Not me, that’s for sure. The weather is cooling down, I needed a blanket last night, and all the lights in our front garden have been changed to orange and yellow. We even have a couple of strands of candy corn lights, just to add seasonal charm. There is an autumnal model tree all rich with tiny white lights on Kimberly’s desk, and wax tapers are lit all over the living room.

I am about as blithe as I can get in all this, and enjoying the season as it curves over us in a great, smoke-scented wave. However … for unknown reasons, I woke up sick to my stomach. I’ve thereafter drooped about all day, harbouring warm cats and huddling beneath my comforting blankets as I try not to throw up.

So far, so good. But it’s not conducive to writing, especially if I don’t want to throw up on my computer keyboard. And I don’t. Those cans of air don’t do anything to clear puke off the keys, and the frighten the cats.

So, I shall see you all tomorrow, Dear Readers, when I am closer to good health and not a walking land mine of yuck. I have some interesting weirdness to entertain you all, some strange coincidences and unnatural connections, some missing and/or resurrected species scattered hither and yon. Fun stuff.

Now I’m gonna go take an anti-emetic and curl up under a cat. Sweet dreams, all.


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Cheese, Chocolate, Marshmallow and Skeletal Pumpkins

Kage Baker tolerated September, with its endless echoes of the horror of Going Back To School, in order to get to the month-long festival of October.

Even though we were actually back in the classroom for October, it was the month when Fall really began in Los Angeles. The skies cooled and cleared, there were dangerously exciting winds; the leaves changed, then fell and then flew chittering through the dark streets like the ghosts of crabs. There were often tarantulas hidden among the drifted leaves; and yes, most emphatically, there are tarantulas in the Hollywood Hills. Also in Griffith Park. Also, one memorable evening, on Franklin Avenue – where we mistook a scuttling fuzzy shadow for a kitten – at first, anyway …

All this transitory shadowy horror was just the frame for the main event, of course: Halloween. We lived for Halloween when we were school age, Kage and me and all our sisters. We still lived for it once we (presumably) grew up, but when you are managing the mania yourself it’s easier to present a false face of deliberation and calm. When decoration is done by your own will and whim, you can get it done without nearly as much whining and nagging. On the other hand, you end up doing a hell of a lot more of it. The brakes are off.

Anyway, the changeover between September and October – in which we are now embedded – brings out all the hitherto-hidden goodies that have been sheltering from the summer heart. Under the house, maybe, where the skunks like to den and hunt black widows, before they come out every evening to eat spilled bird seed on our front porch. (They are good neighbors. They eat many bugs and spiders and slugs, clean up spilled sunflower seeds, and keep the raccoons under some control.)I’ve been subconsciously collecting interesting things to share with you, Dear Readers.

All this gives me some impetus to rise above the level of depression in which I am also embedded. The world keeps kicking my household in the teeth. We are fighting back, but sometimes success can only be measured by whether or not someone cries all evening. It is my great good fortune that the beginning of Fall, Halloween candy, new television seasons, cooler days and cold nights all intersect at once. I even wrote two new sentences on the ghoul story yestreday.

I am honestly trying, Dear Readers.

The season of pumpkins is also upon us. The dark side of this is the appearance of pumpkin spice in everything. This tasks me, Dear Readers, it tasks me and I will not have it! I don’t like pumpkin spice in anything but pumpkin pie ( and sometimes Dreyer’s pumpkin pie ice cream), but I do love it in that! The best pumpkin pie in the world is made by my sister Kimberly – she has won contests with it – but the best commercial pie is made by Costco. They’re the size of Captain America’s shield and are a superior custard. And there’s a Costco only half a mile from my house.

It’s also the season of marshmallow pumpkins. The best ordinary one is made by See’s; I have one of them, plus a bag of the extraordinarily good See’s licorice, just waiting for October to ignite. The best speciality version is made by Russell Stover. The chocolate is as thin as gold leaf, weirdly crackly, and the marshmallow is flavoured orange – a mouthful is bliss, unnatural bliss. Perhaps my diabetes is contributing to my delight, since I have to ration candy with scientific exactitude – but really, who cares? It all tastes twice as grand this year, and I will take whatever sips and slivers of joy I can manage.

There are also plain chocolate pumpkins (again, See’s are best). Got a couple of those in reserve, too. Also, there are skeletal pumpkins this year. Kimberly has become enamoured of animal skeletons as Halloween deco, and we currently are harbouring a cat, a dog, a parrot and a frog – all in their bony morphs. The skeletal snake is cool; the skeletal unicorn is rather over the top. Today, she found a pumpkin skeleton: the ridges in the pumpkin are made of bone, literal ribs.

She also found a new variety of real pumpkins, called a Mellow Yellow. It’s  … yellow. Kind of nice, actually. It’s sitting on the front porch now, looking ever so harvesty. And yellow.

I myself have found an interesting heirloom variety, called the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. It is not made from cheese, nor does it taste like cheese, and further nor is it used in cheese making. It’s just a straightforward cooking pumpkin, lauded as one of the best; it fell out of favour and was almost lost, but a few vines were preserved in private gardens. (Thank you, Mendoza!) You can check it out here:

So, it’s pumpkin season, and Fall, and Halloween is coming, and we are changing out all the front porch lights from the red-white-blue of Summer to the orange and yellow of Fall. Later we’ll add some purple, maybe; definitely some pumpkin lights and candy corn lights for Halloween and then Thanksgiving. We are coming back to life, here.

Fall is not classically the season to come back to life – but hey, I also take my opportunities where I can. And I was conceived in October, at a Halloween party in a brewery … mythic, huh? It makes the season a good one in which to feel life pumping through my veins again, in the sweet, warm dark.

Bear with me, Dear Readers. I may be on the edge, but I am building a fort and laying in supplies. Of pumpkins, right now.



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NaNoWriMo. And Mo, and Mo, and Mo …

Kage Baker constantly toyed with the idea of taking writing courses. Or teaching them. Or just hanging around some event where training or teaching was happening, and basking in the warm, collegiate atmosphere; especially if there was one in the bar.

She did teach a few courses, at conventions and such. A couple of times, she critiqued convention attendees short stories – she said it filled her with great hope, because so many of them were really excellent. She said it also made her cringe, because she had taken so much longer to get good at it than the aspirants whose work she was reading. And it demonstrated to Kage how poorly she, herself, would take to such public criticism; which pretty much put paid to her vague inclination to try a Clarion workshop.  She said it would turn into a murder mystery.

One teaching gig was at a convocation in Colorado Springs, where we got a quickie course in the symptoms of altitude disease. We learned to hydrate constantly, to keep to a moderate walking speed at all times, and joked about how badly we’d be breathing in our 60’s. Now that I am in my 60’s, and much better versed in congestive heart failure, I know how jejune and shallow that glib expectation was: but unless one takes up marathon running or poorly-accessorized SCUBA diving, the pains of shortness of breath can come as an amazing surprise. Not for mere giggles is it acronymed as SOB.

What I remember best about it was our (slow and panting) walk through the Garden of the Gods. It’s an extraordinary place; Kage said it was the image of her idea of a garden for the Children of the Sun. We were also thrilled to see that the runways at the Colorado Springs Airport are regularly used as race tracks by pronghorn antelope. It seems much more interesting and less safe than mere bird-strike.

She never did decide on taking any more courses herself. That built-in self-doubt, and the equally built-in arrogance, of the self-taught and naturally talented prevented it. Besides, Kage never really had enough time when she wasn’t actually writing for publication. She had no time for classes, courses or seminars.  She just went on keeping her creative muscles warmed up and continually exercised, and thought about signing up for for a class whenever she stopped to play video games.

Something Kage never contemplated – or even heard of, I think – was National Write a Novel In a Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo by its devotees. I discovered it the year Kage died and I moved back to Los Angeles, and I have stayed with it ever since. The main event is an online marathon of writing. It runs from November 1st to November 30th, and its simple purpose is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. No re-writes, no polishing, nothing but getting the words out in a steady flow, day by day. If you stick to the daily minimum of 1,666  words per day, it can be done easily. You post day by day, get your word count verified at the end, and voila! With luck, you have the basis of a novel, which can then be polished any old way or amount you like before you consign it to either a publisher or your trunk files …

I always begin at 12 midnight on Halloween nights, eating leftover Halloween candy and running madly into the sweet night by the light of Jack O’Lanterns and orange faerie lights.

This exercise is an enormous amount of fun, and pain, and frustration, and triumph – just like real writing, but condensed and higher proof.  I’ve reached my goal more times than not, and have the T-shirts to prove it. I have also produced 2 completed manuscripts: one has been published (The Women of Nell Gwynne II, from Subterranean Press) and the other (Knight and Dei) is even now being considered by Tachyon Publications. I consider these great successes, considering I had never finished a solo novel on my own before 2010.

These nice folks do sponsor other writing events throughout the year, but NaNoWriMo is the Big One. And I just got their annual notice today, declaring that the 2019 site is now open and functioning. You can register your name and novel, set up your parameters, and starting counting down the days until November. It’s wonderful to contemplate. And who knows? I may even get another  embryonic novel again out of the exercise.

If I do hit the 50,000 word mark, you all, Dear Readers, will be owed acknowledgement and thanks. You have set me up nicely for the marathon, keeping both my imagination and discipline exercised. Or at least as much as they can be – I may still hobble rather than sprint, but at least I continue to move forward.



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Seasons May Be Happening

Kage Baker was a fervent Californian. She was born here.

I suspect she’d have been fervent about wherever she had happened to be born – she was strongly attached to her native earth, and felt she owed it to her corporeal origins to be cognisant with its history. She learned the lore, she memorized the legends, she scouted out and became intimate with the local landmarks.

And she did the same thing for all the places we lived after we left Los Angeles: new maps and neighborhood libraries were magnets for Kage. Within a few months of a move, she knew more about the history of a place than most of its native-born. She’d correct them when conversational errors and mispronunciations came up, too; which was a habit she strove mightily to correct, out of sheer courtesy.

But you can’t always tell what the weird local dialect may have done to a word you learned how to pronounce from formal research. In San Luis Obispo, for example, near where we lived for 20-odd happy years, they all pronounce it as “San Louis” – as if they lived in Missouri.  And there is a main street called Higuera. Being born in Los Angeles and having a working acquaintance with Spanish, we pronounced it “Eegwarah” – and people giggled, and corrected us. In SLO, even the native Spanish speakers pronounced that street “HIgeereh”. I don’t think anyone even knew why; or cared, for that matter. We amended our ways. In public, anyway.

No matter where we lived, though, Kage was a defender of California’s seasons. Those of you, Dear Readers, who are also Californians may have never thought of whether we have seasons or not. Those of you who do not live here have probably never given it much thought, either. But you still probably hold to the idea held by the United States East of the Rockies: that California has no seasons.

At best, it’s often held that we have artificial seasons here. Things with funny and derogatory names, like “Fire, Riot, Drought, and Earthquake”. Things named after sports teams or natural disasters, meant to bring a scornful smile to the faces of those hardy souls who deal with REAL WEATHER. Apparently, REAL WEATHER means anything that only happens somewhere that isn’t California – but the truth is, we have all that damned REAL WEATHER somewhere in our state, as well as our own special versions of it.

In California, you can go surfing in the morning, and then drive up to the snow before the Pacific even dries completely in your hair. You can ski in your bathing suit, if you’re really crazy; some years, as late as June or July. You can play Polar Bear in icy water on New Year’s Day; or have a barbecue in the back yard, depending on where you live. There are dunes, swamps, mountains, valleys, crop lands and wilderness. We have dozens of volcanoes and cinder cones, and three of them are considered both active and high threat. We can go 5 years at a time without rain, and then get it for 5 months straight, and then catch on fire for another 4 months – and we’ll still grow most of the nation’s salad while all that is happening.

Kage was proud of it all – its ferocity, its variety, its frequent batshit craziness. We once drove all night and for more than 500 miles through one single thunderstorm, complete with water spouts off the coast and a funnel cloud in the San Joaquin Valley. We danced in the streets in 80-degree winter nights, and in sudden, cold summer hail storms. (We were once young, and usually poor; you dance where you can, then.) Pismo Beach was subject to micro-bursts: intensely local dry tornadoes, that swept across the town taking roofs, kayaks, lawn furniture and the occasional domestic animal.

We have it all, Dear Readers. Whether we want it or not.

Right now, the summer is actually winding down. That doesn’t always mean things get cooler right away, and in fact the last fortnight has been the hottest of the yearBut the Autumnal Equinox is in a week, and the texture of the light is  changing even if the temperature is not (yet). It’s getting that crystalline look that means there is ice in the upper air. Fog and clouds are blowing in and out all day, making their last bows before Fall clears the atmosphere. Such plants as shed or change their leaves are beginning to do so; some are setting fruit, or going comatose, or disappearing completely – they will appear next Spring, just in time to get in the way of the first lawn mower of the year.

Halloween  always has about a 50/50 chance to either broil or drown us.

We’ve been able to turn off the A/C at night lately, and just leave the fans on. We open all the windows, and the sweet night air fills the house while we sleep. I do get woken up from time to time by crunching from the open windows on the porch, but it’s only the skunks and raccoons raiding the bird and squirrel food. I don’t mind the night shift, even when they squeak and squeal and dance on the lawn; they are the least intrusive of the neighbors, unless the wildcats and coyotes try to eat someone … and even that is better than bad karaoke at 2 AM.

Soon, I hope to sleep under a blanket again.

I can feel Autumn slowing the Year Wheel, the drag of all that summer growth gradually stopping the seasons’ rush for a moment of equipoise. There are quiet moments in every dance, and now we are just upon point of briefly standing still. We will catch our breath and trade partners before we fling ourselves into the long night of winter.

If you listen, you can hear the music slow. If you dance with the seasons, you will catch them in their pavane and move with the rhythm of the year. There is one, Dear Readers, and not one marked with sports ball or natural disasters.

Even in California.


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Toys and Accessories

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.


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Beginning the Long Run

Kage Baker never wanted to rush into the winter season. September was, in her mind, far too soon to be thinking about December’s Extreme Christmas. And there was still Halloween to fill October with black and orange, fallen leaves and candles, monsters and ghosts … the last quarter of the ritual year is awfully crowded, and Kage refused to short-change any of the holidays.

But we do have to start somewhere and somewhen: that was always my job. I can start planning Dickens Fair, and still have mad enthusiasm for Harvest Home, Samhain and Thanksgiving. I may be hunting up my hoops and purple satin, but I’ll be packing by the light of orange faerie lights and drinking iced coffee from a skull mug. I have strung holly and ivy on the walls of the Green Man while eating turkey sarnies and pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving. And I’m one of those hugely annoying people who happily sings Christmas Carols all year round.

So today, our fearless, peerless leader Kevin Patterson sent me the first rough bllueprints for our little section of London. We are moving across the street, which will be interesting but not too hard. We can flip the Parlour in mirror image, and warn our guests about the strange entities suddenly appearing in the new angles of the walls … and this will give us early warning, to make sure we don’t accidentally cut a critical yard off the Kitchen width, so the ladies who cook have to imitate paper dolls trying to wedge themselves in there. It’s nice to make sure we have doors and windows, too. One year, those got left off: it was quite a scramble to refit the Parlour so that we weren’t doing silhoettes in a cracker box.

I am especially looking forward to the Dickens run this year, specifically because of the travel. For the first time in 3 or 4 years, I will have my car back in working order. I’ve been renting cars at need, which worked fine; especially as I keep getting too ill to drive for long distances. But at the moment, my health is better. And today, I finally got my beloved PT Cruiser running again! I know the PT Cruiser is not regarded as a classic car, but it was what I wanted from the moment I set eyes on one. Kage loved it, too. And she made sure I had that car, all paid for and completely mine, before she died.

So now it’s alive again – with a brand new transmission, to the amusement of the AAMCO mechanic. They don’t get many manual transmissions to work on anymore, and very few of those are owned by middle-aged women. He was impressed. He also liked my telling him how the LAPD suggests that a manual transmission is the cheapest anti-theft device going – which is true, Dear Readers, as so few of the young, cool, cutting edge thugs have learned how to drive one. Ha ha.

I then spent half the day fighting my way through the webs and illusions of the DMV, and so by next week the Cruiser will be re-registered, re-insured, and on its merry way. And so will I. With a brand new driver’s license, as well, since over the last insane year my license vanished somewhere in the tide of chaos that rolled through our house.

I suspect I threw it out in some frantic cleaning frenzy. Alternately, I figure I will find it in about a month, packed away with my comic pressure socks from the last BayCon and weeks after I’ve replaced the thing. It hardly matters, really; I’ve never had a license that didn’t make me look like an aging troll, so new or old makes no difference. As long as it gets me through Security checkpoints, all is well.

So, round and round we go. I’m trying to establish, once again, old habits that have enriched my life in the past. Like writing. Like having a working car. Like racing the moon’s rising down the shadowed road through half a hundred alternate Universes, in my black pearl of a car, equipped with the pewter figure of a pirate pointing the way forward with his cutlass on the dashboard. And with the zombie bobble-head buccaneer in the back window, draped in multi-coloured Mardi Gras beads. Accessories are everything in a cool car …

Life has always been so very rich. And so it will continue for a while.



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