The Work and Its Ethic

Kage Baker did not consider herself a fan of the Protestant work ethic.

That is a theory that subscribes to the idea that – in theology,  sociology, economics and history – hard work, discipline and frugality are a result of a person’s subscription to the values espoused by the Protestant faith, particularly Calvinism. This was probably an idea with proponents long before Christianity arose – it’s a dour attitude that seems natural to a portion of humans – but it got its current name when Protestants became such noticeably un-fun members of the Christian spectrum. (unlike, say, the Anabaptists …) It’s closely associated with America, especially since America began its run toward nationhood by making bright colours, sex and Christmas illegal; stunts it followed up by occasionally criminalizing various pain-killers, antibiotics and ALL alcohol.

We all know how those campaigns turned out … and are, in fact, still turning out, in new and unexpectedly horrible ways. Nobody profits when law and custom lean more heavily on long lists of “Thou Shalt Nots” than on anything else.

Still, Kage believed in duty, and in discipline. Sometimes she espoused it in the cock-eyed Gilbert & Sullivan fashion: Duty, duty must be done; The rule applies to everyone! as Sir Despard and Richard carol. Of course, then you get lost in hair-splitting Moebius insanity, and end up arguing with your dead ancestors about how actually wicked you really are, if you deliberately flout a curse by being virtuous …

More often, though, Kage’s devotion to what MUST be done was so automatic that even she didn’t think about it. And she thought about everything. But the vital necessity of writing every day, all the time, no matter where she was: that was inviolable and did not require thought. Like breathing, it was a necessary component of life itself; and staying alive is a duty that cannot be shirked. It’s why she gave – first to Mendoza, and then to all her Operatives – the Prime Directive of her Universe:

Nothing matters. Except the work.

It’s what Kage herself believed. She believed it because she could see it demonstrated; because she had experimented, and that worked better at keeping her happy than anything else. She believed it with the intensity of a nun to whom God is not a Mystery, but the plainest bedrock Truth. It wasn’t a grim or joyless creed, either, but rather the basis of all  delight. Kage discovered, at an early age, that doing what you were meant to do was the ultimate satisfaction: that while you couldn’t escape the sorrows and pains of the world, you could fight them by doing what you should.

It took a little effort to find out what you ought to be doing in the first place, of course. And a lot of people argued with you. But once you found it, your course was set and nothing, nothing, would ever be as bad again. Nothing matters, except the work.

Kage wrote damn near every day. But even the worst days in her life (and those days happen to everyone, even someone as stubbornly cloistered as Kage Baker) could be assuaged by her Work. So when she was sad, frightened, angry or ill, she wrote. When she couldn’t write, she talked to me. When even tossing ideas was too hard, she dictated what she had already composed – no argument and no discussion, but it got the Work done nonetheless.

I meant to write an extremely whiny and self-pitying blog yestreday. I meant to do it today, too. Things are rotten in the State, Dear Readers; I am feeling pretty whinish and definitely self-pitying. Why, oh why, is MY old age being troubled by such insanity in the world around me? Why can’t I live out MY Golden Years in a Golden Age? Like anyone ever did, right? It’s semi-human nature, though; you just find yourself bitching when it finally happens to you …

But Kage’s great discovery came to my rescue. I got so intrigued by what I was saying yestreday that I got over being depressed. A lot of that has to do with the enchantment of one’s own voice, of course, but so what? It works, doesn’t it? And that is the big difference, and why Kage didn’t consider that she was driven by the Protestant work ethic. And why I don’t, either.

Because it does work. And it is joy. And it will heal all wounds, assuage all pains, cure all ills. Because really – reallio trulio, Dear Readers – nothing at all matters.

Except the work.


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Where ARE The Flying Cars?

Kage Baker never placed much stock in all the shiny cinematic visions of the future. Those gleaming megaloposes that adorned so many book covers never, ever struck her as valid versions of the future.

“Where did all the old building go?” she would ask scornfully. “There are still streets paved with freaking cobblestones in New York right now. London is  still using streets that taxis won’t fit down. Every city in the world is built on  the bones of other cities, and most of the bones are still  alive!”

“There’s … Brasilia,” I would say: but my riposte was weak and defensive, and I knew it.

“There’s nothing under Brasilia but remains of Atlantean colonies, and no one believes in those,” Kage would say, and dismiss the whole idea out of hand. “This isn’t how cities grow!”

She preferred science fiction where every gleaming, cyber-drenched robotic city had slums, undergrounds and Courts of Miracles beneath its soft, warm, pink sidewalks. She liked the post-nuclear war speakeasies in Bester’s Demolished Man. She liked transient hooches in the air ducts outside star ports, and red-light districts showcasing sputtering neon ads for defunct colas. She absolutely adored the hidden cities of the Underpeople that Cordwainer Smith put beneath all of his glowing, self-obsessed cities of True Men.

While I took Star Trek pretty much on shining-eyed faith, Kage scorned its ultra-hygienic habitats even more than its Foreheads of the Week. The Enterprise was too clean for all those sailing-ship metaphors – where, she wanted to know, was the damned grease? Did no one ever drop a glass? Did no one ever go to a bathroom? The Nostromo and the Millennium Falcon were much more what she thought a star ship would really be like.

If you have read all Kage’s books, Dear Readers, you will recall that her alien habitats, her space ships and stations, were full of grime and eccentric plumbing. That’s how people actually live. The future – at least one in which the protagonists are still recognizably Homo sapiens sapiens – wasn’t going to look much different in a mere 2 or 3 hundred years.

It’s been millennia since slums started forming on the edges of Thebes and Babylon. But they looked pretty much like the ones that fringe Philadelphia and Paris now.

Technology is different. It can evolve and mutate even faster than the best predictions in the worst pulp magazines; gleaming fiendish devices are always found being used in settings of carved stone and ancient wainscotting. The proliferation of wireless chargers, wi-fi hubs and extension cords in America is due to the fact that half of us are still living in houses that had electricity laid on less than a hundred years ago: no one has enough outlets. But our watches and computers and A/V devices and FitBits and sex toys and pet doors are all designed in the last 20 years, for a civilization on its way to the stars.

Which we are not. Just our toys are. The design of the toilet in my bathroom hasn’t changed in 200 years, and the pipes that lead to the City mains are made of baked clay. But the cheap clock in the corner can keep track of 6 timelines, and personalized alarms, and whether or not Daylight Savings Time is happening somewhere in the aether.

However, today in my daily Bargain Notices from Fry’s Electronics – which are waiting with other 100-odd emails on my computer every morning as I squint antiquatedly awake over my coffee – there was an ad for a printer. A 3-dimensional printer. A tiny one, a wee machine that would print things in paper, glass, several kinds of plastic or edible starch and carbohydrates; a machine no bigger than a lunch box, that I could use to make – out of an electronic pattern – a sandwich, a blouse, a fathom  of acrylic yarn, a toy ankylosaurus, a heart valve, faux rubies … it costs $249.00 and came with with a 6-month warranty.

I could have ordered it online, and paid for it with electric currency, and had it delivered by a transport I never spoke to or probably even saw before he left the package on my porch sometime in the next 24 hours. Right alongside the farm-fresh nectarines and plums I ordered in a similar fashion, and received in the dark. In fact, I could have sat here, Dear Readers, and printed a spun-sugar skull for dessert as I ate a plum that was growing on a tree 300 miles away 2 days ago …

Almost  did it, too, just for the sheer stupefying fun of it.

The point here, Dear Readers, is that the future does not arrive when or where or in the clothes we expect. It makes for no end of entertainment (not to mention a genteelly impoverished living), but the actual fruits of the future sneak up on us and move in like so many cats. We all go everywhere with computers now, and we never even think about it: because we call the things “phones”, which is a technology that was born, peaked and grew obsolete over the last 150 years.

The flying cars are going to be called Fords and Mitsubishis and not-your-father’s Buicks. They’ll be competing with maglev trains made by Lego, probably; at least until the Sony transporter industry takes off … while Micky D’s burgers materialize on your table via half a dozen methods.

And odds are, we will never even  notice.


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Finding A Way: I May Need A Clue But I’m Working On It

Kage Baker had a sharp personal dislike of cliches. Aphorisms, folk sayings, pithy one-liners displaying the deep inner wisdom of the speaker: they all, as she put it, gave her “the pip”.

I”m not sure what “the pip” is, but it always sounded serious. Probably fatal, too; at least, for whatever made her feel that way.

She had a deep and abiding scorn for those who considered themselves The Wise. She especially hated Wise Women, because she seemed to attract those in particular – older , or at least larger, women who presented themselves as fountains of right-thinking and goddesshood. (Kage could hold her own against mansplaining, and I never saw her defeated by a pompous male; when you grow up with multiple younger brothers, you develop both an allergy and a resistance to mansplaining.) She  despised Wise Woman so much, she used them several times as minor stereotypes in her stories. Sometimes, as in Sky Coyote, they even get into fights over who is the Wisest Woman of all …

Literary or cinematic characters who behaved that way made Kage especially nuts. I think it was because she couldn’t argue with them, or make them change. Whatever stupid, overbearing thing they said, it was permanent. No amount of yelling at the screen or the printed page (which happened a lot in in our house) was going to shut them up, or knock that mealy-mouthed look off their faces. It was one of the things she detested about TLOTR books and movies; except when Gandalf got snarky about the councils of the The Wise screwing up: Kage liked that.

She got especially vicious about science fiction. Part of that was because, as a female writer in the Old Boys’ Club of the science fiction community, she encountered a lot of annoying pontificating among male authors and fans alike. And part of it was, I think, because she grew up in the 50’s, 60’s and into the 70’s –  it was a steady diet of classic, cheesy movies just overflowing with patent medicine wisdom, most of it blatantly based on 1950’s masculine ideals.

“Look to the skies!” “The Red Menace is disguised as (fill in the alien blank)!” “Science will save us!” “Science will doom us!” “Life will find a way!”

That last one, admittedly, is from the 1990’s – when a new Golden Age of good movies began; for some science fiction, it was when good movies began to be made at all. But they still used those self-congratulatory aphorisms, and “Life will find a way” made Kage particularly insane. Jeff Goldblum was awfully attractive; but  Jurassic Park was chock-full of scientific error and nonsense, and that phrase just came to symbolize the entire pop culture pseudo-wisdom syndrome.

“Life doesn’t find a way,” Kage said, glowering. “Life usually just dies; or turns into something else, or moves away. Some problems are damned permanent!”

Kage did not approve of anything silly. Not even hope. If hope was going to be silly about it, she would do without and slog on relentlessly hopeless.

I have tried to imagine what she would be doing in the current ambient environment of the US, and I’ve failed. I’m pretty sure I’d have had to disconnect most electronic paths into  the household, and installed filters so Kage never had to look at a news channel online. I’d have had to hide the daily newspaper; I’d have blocked most of the telly channels. I would have been translating everything before it got to her, just to ensure that she had access to ideas and research without having her head blow up from the horror of real life.

My only personal recourse since we entered 2017 has been a general retreat from the world. I need to be informed; I want to do a certain amount of responsible, adult stuff, you know? So it’s hard, and I slip up a lot, and horrible things do creep into my view; where, of course, they caper and gibber and cock snooks at me in petty demonic glee.  But I persevere! NOT because life finds a way, because it freaking doesn’t – I do it because, so long as I can avoid despair, I can manage without hope.

Thank you, Professor Tolkien. I appreciate you.

Recently, a nice gentleman suggested to me that I needed to let Kage go and live my own life.  It was well-intentioned advice and I’m grateful, but it missed the point that I am doing that: everything I do right now is in the service of carving out my life on my own. If I were clinging to Kage, her life, her reputation or her ashes, I would long ago have died from the sheer weight of grief. Instead, Kage left me a clearly-marked path to independence, creativity, and the feeling that – although I am old, slow and fat – I am still living a life of purpose.

Why, only today I sent a note off to my agent, asking what hole my recent stories had fallen down, and what the inexplicable paperwork I’d just gotten from Italy meant. Of such world-shaking concerns is a writer’s life filled to the brim …

And it is a life, and it is mine, and it is filled to overflowing with – as R.L. Stevenson noted – a number of things. Life has no idea what is doing, and the way is by no imagination clear or obvious. But it all goes on regardless, Dear Readers; we all go along with it, too.

And, not to be cliched about it, but we should all be as happy as kings.*




Flowers blooming through lava – subtle, eh?


*”The world is so full of a number of things/I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings!” From A Child’s Garden of Verses



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The Barbecues Are Blooming

Kage Baker did not like to barbecue. She only rarely even enjoyed eating it.

She could cook a fair treat over an open fire, but she used pots and pans and spits and griddles, and made many more things than charred meat. She said barbecuing was a guy thing mostly, and in any event – she personally did not have the necessary barbecuing gene. So when we went camping we had pan-fried steaks, and fancy potatoes, and sauteed onions and mushrooms; food you had to eat with a knife and fork.

If you camped with Kage, you ate asparagus with hollandaise sauce. By the light of a Coleman lantern.

Some people, of course, do have the barbecuing gene; they can accomplish miracles. My sister Kimberly is one of them, as is her son, Michael. Kimberly has been unfazed by any weird thing people have brought her to grill over charcoal, and she never even considers charcoal lighter: she uses a miniature charcoal burner’s cone with tinder and paper and other flammable stuff, and her barbecue never tastes of petroleum by-products. She has even produced perfect Yorkshire pudding and drop biscuits over an open flame, and baking is THE ultimate skill on a barbecue.

At our house right now, the entire neighborhood is gently perfumed with the scents of iron, and flame, and cooking beef. I’m not sure it matters what you’re actually cooking (we’re having turkey, I think); Memorial Day barbecues smell like broiling beef, whether it’s hotdogs, premium steaks, or something completely non-mammalian. The scent just evolves out of the rising smoke.

It’s appropriate that a holiday dedicated to the memory of our honoured dead should be so characterized by wonderful roasting smells. And after all, Dear Readers: the departed in glory are the point today, regardless of the competing shouts of the mattress sales and beer adverts. It’s for the sake of those who have passed through the worst fires that we send the sweet blue smoke up to the gods; incense and rare spices and fire are what we send aloft in the honour of those who have gone through it all before us.

I think too  many people forget that. I hope more people remember. I like to think that the perfumes of love and memory and devotion rise over our houses today.

That’s a ponderous lot to get out of the smell of Kingsford and steak next door, isn’t it? But, you know, it’s those simple, homely things that should remind us most clearly that heroism is a household virtue. The heroes are our own blood and bone and selves. Meals shared with love and grateful memory are the proper province for heroes – they lived and died to make that possible, not for medals and trumpet calls. The laughter of their loved ones around a shared fire are what they longed to hear.

Let’s give them that, as the long hot summer opens up before us. The season of heat and incense is opening like a rose everywhere this weekend. Let’s make sure that it’s an offering of courage and gratitude, not one of hate and strife.

Let’s make sure, Dear Readers, that the flames all burn like roses.

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I’ve Gang Agley

Kage Baker never missed a convention due to illness.

She did miss a signing due to simply forgetting, and going off to Faire instead. That is, in fact, more or less why she never missed anything again – when you come home in the middle of the night and find a note from the local police asking you to call your agent (who thinks you’re dead), it scars you for life. I can laugh about this now, but Kage never, ever found it amusing.

Even when she was too ill to walk, she honoured her appearance commitments. Literally on the eve of her hysterectomy, she insisted on attending the World Fantasy Awards. She was up for an award, which she did not get; but we had a wonderful time. I ran her all over the Convention in her wheel chair, Neassa kept her supplied with chocolates, and she dispensed them from a vintage papier-mache jack o’lantern on her lap. We had a wonderful time racing around corners and clipping pedestrians in the halls. Several self-righteous people demanded to know what she had done to herself: Kage derived a lot of satisfaction from announcing cheerfully, “I have cancer!” and watching their faces crumple up as they tried to think of something to say.

We had a hilarious, slightly naughty, totally care-free time of it. The only thing to do when you are on your way to what turns  out to be be your penultimate appearance, is to party madly. I have happy memories of Kage ordering “Home, Rasputin!”  as I wheeled her backwards down a hotel hall (anyone remember Bewitched?) and she and Neassa distracted the crowds by throwing Snickers bars at them.

Of course, Kage had minions. And didn’t have to drive, not even her own wheelchair. And, although she was harboring Death itself in her belly, she wasn’t sick sick. She maintained control of her bodily functions and her wits.

This Thursday night, as I packed happily for BayCon, I abruptly developed vertigo. It was like nothing I have ever felt before – not a little dizziness on standing up too soon, or the majestic cosmic wheel that lets you know you have drunk one pint too many; no, this felt like my eyeballs were turning round and round in opposite directions. It got worse and worse, then a headache started, and when both reached their peak – I started throwing up.

I kept throwing up, too, for an interminable time. I think I threw up everything I’d eaten for the last week, and possibly a few feet of my upper intestine. The vomiting finally stopped; but the nausea, the headache and the vertigo continued for the next three days.

This is a rotten way to spend a holiday weekend. I’ve been mostly asleep since then – I wake up every few hours to cautiously take necessary pills, then go back to sleep. My diet consists of Gatorade Ice – the kind with lots of electrolytes and more colour than flavour – and rare attempts at mashed potatoes. I’m not enjoying any of it, but Kimberly insists that it is at least preventing me from dying of malnutrition in my sleep.

Personally, I’d rather die in my sleep than feel like this.

It may be gastritis. It may be a new kind of migraine. It may have been a minor, micro-stroke. Insane amounts of my blood are being analyzed for all sorts of pathogens and exotic markers, and I am taking something called Pantoprazole. I think it sounds like I’m a character in a vaudeville skit – the rear end of a horse, probably – but it’s apparently meant to reduce digestive acid. I haven’t thrown up since Friday, so … it must work on something.

Obviously, I am not at BayCon. I regret this hugely, and I apologize for anyone who hoped to meet me there. While Michael and Neassa would have been willing to see through this, I couldn’t have made it up there in the first place. And I’d have felt horrible, being wheeled around puking on people.

All Kage did was throw “fun-sized” microscopic chocolate bars. She had more class than I do.

Back to bed now, Dear Readers. I shall resume when I can sit up for another 20 minutes.


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Ivory Towers and Local Habitations

Kage Baker never wanted to be famous. She had a deep aversion to being a public person; she considered that the most ladylike display of fashion was to be invisible.

She was pretty good at it, too, considering that she spent so much of her life performing. But of course, when you are a performer, you are not usually yourself. Kage had a nice wardrobe of personae that she put on, depending on what the emotional weather was like in her excursions. At Renaissance Faires, she was a version of the Wife of Bath, a calm and interested tourist viewing the world through amused eyes. At Dickens, she concocted a combination of Preserved Killick* and Long John Silver (and still managed to portray a warm, maternal cook). And when she went to science fiction conventions, she channeled her own Aunt Anne, whom you Dear Readers might remember as the elegant, cocktail-imbibing Marion Kerby in Topper.

If you hung around with her at conventions, you might get to see the real Kage – usually at a table in the bar, late in the evening. But that was a private show, only for her intimates; she stayed in character with an adamantine will in public.

I’ve never been half the actress Kage was. The characters I have portrayed at various Faires (which have enjoyed a small bit of local fame) were successful and memorable in so far as they were because they were designed by Kage. My entire career as a performer has been built upon the scaffoldings she wrote for me to fill.

I’m still working at perfecting the last character she wrote – her heir, the writer, the finisher of stories. I have made a little progress – but I am old now, old and stiff and slow: it’s not the easy trick it was in the days of yore, and ale, and glory in the golden dust of Chipping-Under-Oakwood, to transform into some lithe and lively Merry Wife. I keep trying, though, because it was what Kage wanted.

Tonight, I’m packing for BayCon, which was Kage’s favourite convention. I have tons of panels, so I am very pleased – I like to be useful and I LOVE to pontificate, and the lovely folks at BayCon always indulge me. I will have minions (my ever-resourceful entourage – Michael and Neassa – will be there to keep me on track); I will meet lots of old friends and hopefully some new ones. There will be too much coffee, not enough sleep, and a weekend spent on endorphins. I do like that …  and if I am good form, I will manage to be the wry, wise, maternal nerd Kage intended me to be at this point.

That will be better that the whiny old woman into whom I all too frequently morph these days. The excellent company I anticipate having will help no end. Unlike Kage, I actually kind of enjoy being in the spotlight: as long as I know my lines. And Kage left me lots.

In actual fact, though, neither of us really liked being public persons. Our alter egos liked it, some of them – not us, so much, though me more than Kage.

A good friend recently sent me a link to some wonderful quotes from Will Durant, that wonderful historian. (Thank you, Steve!) One of them was a perfect description of what Kage (and I) always really wanted to be:

“And last are the few whose delight is in meditation and understanding; who yearn not for goods, nor for victory, but for knowledge; who leave both market and battlefield to lose themselves in the quiet clarity of secluded thought; whose will is a light rather than a fire, whose haven is not power but truth: these are the men of wisdom, who stand aside unused by the world.”

This is not to assert that I have any right to claim I am a man/person of wisdom – quite aside from Dr. Durant’s antique usage, for which we can forgive him at this distance. Kage had a much better claim to this state, and it is most certainly what she wanted to be. It’s what she was, as much and whenever she could be, in the Embassy she built of our home.

But bright and early tomorrow I shall head off once again to the wide stage of the world. Time to leave behind my Ivory Tower for a little, and make some art.

* Captain Jack Aubrey’s steward, memorably portrayed in the film by David Threlfall.
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I Can See Clearly Now

Kage Baker had good eyesight. She was very glad about it, and never entirely reconciled to the necessity of reading glasses in her later years. Her fashion sense was much engaged with the jewelry aspect of  her glasses frames, and she was very picky about them.

One of the last things her mother advised Kage, at the literal end of her own life 25 years ago, was to make sure Kage’s soon-to-be first pair had red frames. “That will look best on you,” Mrs. Baker ordered, from her hospital bed. It was pretty much a comment out of nowhere, but Kage obeyed; and was comforted –  especially when her mother died very soon after that – to find that her mom had been correct. Red glasses were cool. Kage wore them for the rest of her life.

Me, I’ve always gone for what are now called John Lennon glasses. They used to be called National Health specs, as they were what the UK government gave you when you got spectacles through the National health benefits. They are round wire-rims, gold or silver (coloured, anyway) and I’ve worn them whenever possible. Due to my own mother, my  first glasses were blue sequinned kitty-cat frames (oh, shame and horror!) but I soon got my way, via a couple of excursions into modest horn-rims. I need glass 24/7, Dear Readers, and my own vanity told me not to spend that much time in frames I hate.

Yestreday, I got new glasses. These are the first pair post-cataracts, and the new lenses are a wonder! My eyesight sans glasses has improved markedly – by anyone else’s standards, I am still staggering blind, but compared to my past experience – man, I can see like Legolas on a hilltop! Over the last two weeks, though, my old glasses wouldn’t work and my eyes hadn’t healed enough for new ones. I have been, of necessity, totally without corrective lenses, except for the prosthetic intraocular lenses I now sport in both eyes: enough to keep me from walking into walls,  even enough to allow me limited use of my Kindle.

But watching television, reading for very long, being on the computer for more than a half hour: all these left me with ghastly eyestrain headaches. I could not drive. I went to the movies last week (saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2) and really enjoyed the film. I could see adequately, and the film is great: but I also walked out feeling like I was wearing a barbed wire head band.  My nearsightedness was vastly improved, but there was nothing that could be done for my astigmatism: in my natural state, I live in a world of fuzz, Dear Readers, rainbows and fuzz.

But now! Now I can see EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME!

I remember getting my first glasses, and the almost inexpressible bliss my new vision gave me. Hated blue kitty-frames notwithstanding, at least I didn’t have to look at them; and I could see so much! There were leaves on trees – I’d known that, because I got up close and personal with trees a lot (I had an arboreal childhood) but only via my non-sight senses. To my eyes, all trees were low clouds on sticks. Textures! Colours! Actual facial features on all other life forms! I saw the pupils in someone else’s eyes for the first time – it was our boxer, whose beautiful eyes turned out to be dark purple.

I walked around drunk for months – glasses did nothing toward my day-dreaming lack of attention in class, because I was always staring at something I had never, ever seen before and gently freaking out.

It’s the same now. The cataracts had diminished light and colour horribly, and now those are back, and better than ever. My eyes have been so improved by the new lenses, that my glasses are now both lower-power AND bring my eyesight up to 20/20: a personal best in my entire life. And the migraines have cleared out, which is an enormous pleasure.

I can drive again. I shall be able to make it to BayCon in a week with no difficulty at all; despite which, my stalwart nephew Michael will be accompanying me in case of road disasters. And the lovely Neassa will be joining us at the Con, to make sure I don’t run into the walls with just my ordinary klutziness.

And I can write again. The computer screen is no longer overlain with little silver and ebony roses, expanding into razor-wire spirals as my frontal lobes short out. My head doesn’t hurt. My eyes don’t hurt. I can see!

And there, Dear Readers, am I happy!



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