Burning Question #29: Fortune Cookie

Only Thirty-one Burning Questions to go in the Fifty Burning Questions Festival.

When I was a child I used to absolutely love going to China Town in San Francisco. Yes, I was a tiny shy white child with wide eyes taking it all in. I thought it was the most wonderful place ever.

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Fortune Cookies have a long and colorful history. Look it up on Wikipedia. They started out as Japanese cookies. During the Japanese internment during WW2 the crazy little cookies started to show up in Chinese restaurants.

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Once in the 1970’s a friend of mine gave me a “dirty” fortune cookie. The fortune read: Girl chase boy around church and catch him by organ.

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For centuries people have been looking for ways to see their futures. They’ve thrown bones, looked into crystal balls, gone to charlatan psychics, read tarot cards, and done all kinds of weird stuff. But the sweetest of all, and the most fun is the Fortune Cookie.

So is it just a chance encounter with a random slip of paper, or is there another more celestial meaning?

Burning Question #29: What is it to open a cookie without a fortune? A simple machine error? Or a profound statement of the uncertainty of the future?

 

 

A favorite game is to have everyone read their fortunes and add the words in bed after the fact.

  • Success will come to your plans in bed.
  • Use your abilities at this time to stay focused on your goals in bed.
  • You will always be well liked and popular in bed.

Anyway you fold it, fortune cookies are both fun and maybe profound.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

1877

San Francisco 1877

Short Story Sunday: Fall Garden

I’m at Sacramento 2018 WordCamp this weekend. In fact I’m speaking today. But fall is in the air so is post-summer, pre-winter gardening. The following was first posted here a year ago. Hope this gets you into the festive falling leaves, pumpkin spice, and falling acorns kind of mood. I’ll see you next Sunday with Tangled Tales Short Story.

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Fall Garden

So I’m digging away, trying to put in some sort of flower beds in my rocky garden. It is foggy. It is cold. And I am not amused. That is what happens when you live in a house built on gold mine tailings. Rocks. Nothing but river rocks coated in a tiny bit of dirt and a shit load of weed seeds.

I’ve got the pick ax out, and I’m jamming the shovel in a hole, with the cold nose of a ninety pound German Shepard in my face, when I FINALLY get the last rock loose before I can plant a small dwarf lime tree. The dog goes nuts. I push her away and pull out the rock.

It isn’t a rock.

It is a skull.

A human skull.

Shit.

My son comes out with a fresh cup of coffee for me (did I mention it was cold.) He looked at the skull and then calls up to the house.

“Hey Dad, she found another one.” Then he turns to me. “This one is small. Man, woman, or child?”

I toss the skull in my garden gloved hands. “It might be a woman but you never know.”

“Want me to put it with the others?”

“Sure,” I said, handing the skull to my sweet teenager.

I could hear him in the side yard opening the 50 gallon Rubbermaid storage container, and dropping in the skull.

He came back to me after about a minute. “Hey Mom, the container is almost full.”

I took a deep breath. “That’s a lot of skulls.”

He gave me an uncomfortable look. “It sure is. Who do you think they are?”

I put my arm around his waist and gave him a hug. “I have no idea. But thanks for the coffee sweetie. Let’s go in. I think I’m done out here today.”

 

~ End

 

Weirder Tales

Coming later this month from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) Weirder Tales – an Omnibus of Odd Ditties.Weirder Tales

Featuring weird tales from: Benedict, Cooley, Daniels, Fletcher, Garcia, Guettler, Haberfelner, Hunter, Kemp, Kings, Lamb, Merline, Nocera, Roland, Todd, Turley, and White.

There is still time to get your own coveted Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe poster while supplies last. Click here for more information.

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WPaD is the acronym for Writers, Poets and Deviants. We are a diverse group of writers who came together on the Internet to support and encourage each other.

Our collaborative works are charity fundraisers, with a percentage of royalties being donated to Multiple Sclerosis in support of members of our group who live with MS. WPaD books are available worldwide in paperback and ebook. For more information, please visit our website: http//wpad.weebly.com

To see more of Jason’s art at (J Harrison Kemp, Tenkara Studios) and contact information go to:

https://www.facebook.com/tenkarastudios/

https://tenkarastudios.weebly.com

 

~ Juliette Kings aka Vampire Maman
and Marla Todd aka Regular Mom

Burning Question #28: Apple Pie

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Pie!

There are all sorts of pies. Everybody has a favorite.

This is the time of year when the new crops of apples are being harvested. So APPLE PIE is the subject of today’s feel good, non-offensive BURNING QUESTION.

There are some who say, “Actually, apple pie isn’t American.” Shut your pie hole. Nothing is more American than Apple Pie. That is like saying “BBQ isn’t American because the current breeds of cattle used for commercial use originally came from Scotland.”

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Yes, we all went to school with that kid. Our kids had to deal with them. We’ve worked with that guy. Dude, chill. It is just a saying. Now go get yourself a piece of apple pie with ice cream on it and feel good about yourself and the people around you (yes, this IS a parenting blog too.)

Apple pie is universal. Where there are apples there is pie.

Apple Pie.

Everybody loves pie. Even I, who has to say no to most pie (because I’m a Vampire) love pie, or at least the idea of pie.

I once made an apple pie with no recipe. It actually turned out really great. Woo Hoo. The key is to not make the apples too sweet. When in doubt go light on the sugar. The second key is to keep the shortening or butter in the crust COLD COLD COLD and don’t over mix it. That way it will turn out nice and flakey. And one more thing – ALWAYS use good crisp tart apples. Granny Smiths are good. Stay away from Fuji apples for pie. They’re great for eating but not so much for pie. However if you throw in a couple of Golden Delicious (not the red) it adds a nice naturally sweet flavor.

Juliette Trivia: I like to bake more than I like to eat what I bake. I’m not even tempted to eat it. I like giving it away.

Apple Trivia: Apples were first cultivated in Centeral Asia, but they have been cultivated in Asia and Europe for thousands of years. The European settlers brought apples to America (and Canada and Mexico.)  Wherever people go they bring their apples with them.

My children did not learn about Johnny Appleseed in school. When I told them about him they thought it was a weird story.

This week’s burning question will leave with all kind of warm and fuzzy fall fun. How do you like your apple pie?

 

 

Should Apple Pie be eaten plain, with cheddar cheese or with vanilla ice cream?

 

 

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Honey, don’t you need a pot holder? You can tell she is some sort of paranormal person, because otherwise her hand would be burning.

If you have more thoughts on pie let me know. Leave something nice (like pie) in the comment section. If apple isn’t your favorite tell me what is? Or do you prefer savory pie. Or are you feeling like math today and pi? Please share.

Check back next week for another BURNING QUESTION. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Strange Strangers on a Full Moon Night

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This afternoon I was thinking about Werewolves for some unknown reason. Maybe it was the coyotes behind my house. Maybe it was just my own big dog following me around.

I couldn’t get Vlad to get off of his cute Vampire ass and finish his blog post so I’m reposting this mysterious story from my childhood. It was first posted in 2014. And hey, if you’re at Sacramento 2018 WordCamp this weekend look me up. I’ll be there (under an assumed name but ask around.) 

Strange Strangers on a Full Moon Night

Mars was exceptionally bright in the sky last night. The moon was less than full but still exceptionally bright.

This morning I dropped the kids off to school. Garret’s car is in the shop so mom gets to drive. Anyway, I drop them off behind some temporary classrooms (that have been there for 45 years) because Clara doesn’t want to have to walk by the large group of “Stoners” who hang out every morning at the logical drop off point. So this morning she tells me she over heard one of the Stoners saying “That woman stops and turns around every morning. Weird. I guess she doesn’t want to stay here.” They had no idea I was dropping off kids. Sigh.

So the moon, teens, clueless thoughts… what does that all lead to? It made me think of a distant memory of when my brothers Val, Aaron and I were teens.

Go back to 1873. We lived in a city that had regulairly flooded, burned down, flooded again and survived illness and lawlessness and all sorts of disasters (Sacramento of course.) It was enough to make anyone want to leave, but instead people thrived and it grew. Railroads made kings. Agriculture was starting to boom. It was a city with growing art and culture and the new capitol building was almost finished. But to us it was home and our concerns were not those of adults or even most people. We were teens, comfortable in our own skin, a little less Victorian than most our age, a little more independent than most. My brothers and I lived in a tight knit community of Vampires, part of the Modern Vampire Movement. But you already know that.

One night, under a full moon, my brothers Aaron (age 17), Valentine (age 14) and I (age 13) were taking a stroll along the Sacramento River. We were always out looking for vagrants and activity from any riverboats. We were on the prowl, three well heeled Vampire kids who could use our innocence and charm to get in and out of any situation before our prey ever knew we were there.

With our stomachs full and our dark little souls throughly amused we walked home through a grove of trees on the edge of the riverbank. There we came upon a camp. Two figures were hunched over half a dozen large fish, I believe stripers or maybe steelhead. They grunted and tore at the fish. At first glance we thought they were coyotes or large dogs, but then we realized they were something else.

“Werewolves,” whispered Aaron holding his hand out to signal us to stay still.

We watched in fascination, with a bit of disgust, as the two turned back into their human form – a young man and a young woman. They were about our age and completely naked. He was skinny, unlike my muscular brothers. His skin was pale under the moonlight like the bellies of the fish he’d just devoured. She was also thin with ribs sticking out and knobby joints. Her grayish unhealthy looking skin was covered with red welts. Long dark hair hung below her waist. But what surprised us most was the hairless tail that hung down about 6 inches on the end of her spine.

I elbowed Aaron and he gave me a quick look that said “don’t move.”

“She has a tail,” Val whispered a little too loud. Aaron put his hand over his younger brother’s mouth.

The Werewolves put on their clothes, plain and worn compared to our fashionable togs. We had a home and parents. These two were obviously strays just trying to survive their miserable condition.

Val and I wanted to approach the Werewolves but Aaron was against it. He said we should just let them be and they’d be dead more sooner than later. There was a prominent pack of well-heeled Werewolves in town but we had little to do with them and it was obvious that these strays were not part of their pack.

Occasionally my parents would deal with the Werewolves, but always held them at a distance and with considerable contempt. One thing that stood out about the well to do Werewolves was their fondness for velvet. No kidding. Those Werewolves loved their velvet.

This isn’t going to be a moral story where we went back and helped the young Werewolves. We went back and they were gone. None of our friends had ever seen them. We told our parents about them. In turn they mentioned the strays to the pack leader in town and he had never heard of the young Werewolves.

It was just one of those weird things. Ships that pass in the night.

I asked my friend Adam, who is a Werewolf, about the pair when I stopped by his studio this morning (he is a photographer by trade.) He’d never heard of them. The tail on the girl turned out to be something extremely rare, just like a tail on anyone who is remotely human like.

“Why didn’t you help them?” Of course he had to ask.

“I don’t know. We were just kids. We thought they were dangerous. Beside that, maybe they didn’t need or want help. My parents asked around. Nobody knew anything, or if they did they weren’t telling us about it. I’m talking both Werewolves and Vampires. Nobody knew anything.”

I knew there would be nothing online about them but I after I left Adam I checked anyway. There was nothing.

This story has no moral or reason behind it. Just a story of something that happened a long time ago that I’ll tell my kids about and maybe they can find a moral in it.

It might be a mystery forever. But I have a knack for finding people and things so you never know. You never know about anything, not really.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Taking Care of Our Elders

We’re drove out to the old farmhouse where Tellias and Eleora live. About twice a month Teddy (my husband) and I pack the kids into the car and check up on them.

They’re ancients. Nobody really knows how old they are. They are fragile and need help. They don’t have a family. It is just the two of them.

When we drove up, just before dawn, they came to the door to greet me, thrilled to see a carload of their young Vampire friends.

Tellias was wearing an old workshirt that looked like something a guy working in a garage would wear. The name Greg was stitched on it. Eleora wore some horrible looking flowered dress with a stretched out brown sweater. She had on yellow flip flops that had seen better days.

They both looked pale and malnourished.

“Are you two eating anything at all?” I asked as Teddy took the large cooler to the kitchen.

They told me that their car wasn’t running but it was an excuse. The car was almost new but I was sure they’d forgotten to put gas in it or more likely lost the keys.

I unpacked provisions in the kitchen. They huddled around me touching my back and arms, then stroking my face.

“How long since anyone has been to see you?” I asked.

“Not since you were here. Nobody sees us anymore.” Eleora looked at me with sad round eyes.

“What happened to your clothes?” I asked, almost afraid for an answer.

“Someone stole them. We can’t get to our storage unit or the other houses.” Eleora shifting her feet, knowing I knew she was telling a lie.

“Who stole them? Did you let someone in the house?” I asked.

“We were out trying to hunt.” Tellias said putting his head down, trying to avoid my stare. I suspected they’d gone down to the river to find homeless people and transients to hunt and someone followed them home.

They were two of the oldest vampires I knew, over 2,000 years old. Treasures, but like the elderly of all kinds, they are often forgotten, especially those without children. Soon they fall apart like the past civilizations they lived in.

They both look, at first, like they are 19 or 20 years old. He has pale blonde hair and blue eyes. She is a golden eyed girl with reddish brown curls. They are slight with almost translucent skin.

They used to have a working farm with hired workers but now they leased out the farmland. The two acres around the house were kept up with a gardening service, but nobody was watching the residents. They’d been in and out of Vampire comas for years. They’d lost their confidence. I was afraid they’d lost their hunting skills.

These two were never the fierce Vampires of old tales and modern stories. They were always timid and always got by the best they could by hiding in the shadows and keeping out of sight. They were so sweet and good-hearted that it almost killed me to think of anything bad happening to them.

Teddy came into the room and gave Eleora a gentle hug. “We need to get the two of you better.”

They were slightly out of touch, unhealthy and frightened. It was obvious Tellias was depressed. They were prime targets for Vampire Hunters.

The ancients were glad the children were over. They always fussed over them and told them tales of long lost civilizations that no longer existed and were not yet discovered by historians and treasure hunters.

“We have to move them into town.” Teddy told me where the other’s couldn’t hear.

We dined on blood in beautiful crystal goblets the couple had purchased in the 1870’s when they first built the farmhouse. We talked of friends and relatives and the future.

I didn’t want to leave them. But I’d see them soon. I’m going to get them new clothes and find the keys to the car, and move them into the 21st Century where they belong.

Our elder folks are our treasures. We should all love and take care of those we have, both family and elderly friends who often have no family. You’re never too old for love, or friends or living life.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

First posted in 2012. This was the first post featuring Eleoria and Tellias.