As We Were: Sharp Dressed Man

Nothing says confidence or sexy like a sharp dressed man, even if that man lived in the 19th Century.

Formal yet casual and confident is how I’d describe our handsome friend in the photograph below.

1880’s style. Then again, a look like this never goes out of style.

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Fortunately this is a cabinet card so the details are clear. Unfortunately neither the subject of the photograph or the photographer are identified. I’ll have to do some research on this one. If I find out anything I’ll let you know.

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For more 19th Century photography fashion and fun see the As We Were page, or check back every first and third Wednesday.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: I am so confused that I just do not care anymore

Dear Diary,

My friend Randolpho slammed down the book he was reading. “Don’t you hate it when you look forward to reading a new book and it turns out to be a forced, contrived, hyped up mess?”

“Are there not reviews?” I asked him.

“There are, but this book won all kinds of prizes and the description sounded interesting. I got the old bait and switch on this one. It is going straight into the recycle bin. I’d donate it but I don’t want anyone else to have to suffer through this crap.”

“One could stick with blog posts because blog posts are usually short and demand little commitment or funding.”

“Nobody reads blogs,” said Randolpho. I knew he was wrong but declined to comment. I fear Randolpho will continue with his unfortunate book choices.

~ Vlad

 

 

Dear Diary,

I was outside this morning in my backyard thinning out a few trees over planted by the previous owner. The neighbors told me that man was as a master gardener. He was nothing but a master idiot. Even I, Vlad the Vampire King knows more about gardening that that fool did.

As I lined up my tools, tied my hair back, put on my work gloves, and scanned my back yard, making a plan my cats played and watched birds. I was busy looking at a list I had made and failed to hear the side yard gate open, for when I looked up there was my cousin Sebastian standing there grinning from ear to ear.

The last time I saw him was right before I was sealed up in a crypt and left for dead. That was a little over three hundred years ago. I was surprised but did not show it.

I had little love for my cousin Sebastian. He was a treacherous being and the worst kind of Vampire. He would have parties and raid the local town and steal children for his guests to feed upon. Young men and women would vanish during the night. He tried to seduce my wife but even she knew better than to be with such a vile and callous Vampire.

He stole. He lied. He cheated. Sebastian was also charming and quick to flatter with his silk voice and beautiful fanged smile. He twisted those around him so that others would sing his praises while he left behind a trail of death and destruction. Even our Grandfather, the most cunning and skeptical of Vampires believed everything Sebastian told him.

When I became King of Vampires I banished him from my land. Years later he and his cohorts sealed me in a crypt and left me for dead. For three hundred years I hoped he was dead and gone, but it had unfortunately no been so.

“Hello Vlad,” he said with that famous smile of his. “I thought you were dead.”

“Why are you here?” I asked.

“Aren’t you cute gardening with your hair pulled back, and your shirt off looking like a model out of Men’s Health magazine,” he said with a sneer.

He called me cute yet he did not even mention my cats. “Everyone seems to think I am cute Sebastian. I neither understand or care what you mean by that,” I said.

“How I remember you Vlad with your righteous indignation, so angry yet so pure in your convictions. How you’d stand there with your golden halo of hair, eyes burning like sapphires on fire, so ready to go in for the proverbial kill. Damn you were magnificent.”

I am still magnificent I did not tell him that. I was angry due to the fact that I knew he had been involved in my three hundred year entombment, but I did not show it. It was like one of the mystery or detective books I have been reading. A friend who smiles might very well turn out to shoot you in the back, or tear out your neck with his teeth. One never knows about these things.

“What do you want?” I asked him calmly without a hint of distrust, or of the hate that had settled like a thin layer of hardened tar in the bottom of my heart. “You always want something.”

“You had everything Vlad. What do you have now?”

I thought for a second, as I often do when asked a profound question such as this.

“I have a chainsaw, two cats, a Vampire woman who loves me despite the fact I am not a king anymore, and my looks. I am also considered cute, by the way.”

“You are nothing,” he said.

“Excuse me,” I told him as I picked up my chainsaw. “I have work to do.” I pulled the cord, then the engine started, and I swung the chain saw. The cats ran after his head as it rolled down the garden path to the strawberry patch. I noticed the Peace rose was blooming with a blush of pink on white. I forgot to tell him I had flowers.

I could not leave even a Vampire body to sit in the summer sun so I quietly put my hands over him and recited a few words in the ancient language of Vampires. He turned to a fine yellow dust, head and all. My younger cat hissed and ran away while her mother sniffed at what was left then rubbed her head against my leg.

The gate opened again and in walked my friend Randolpho. He was wearing a large ridiculous looking straw sun hat, baggy yellow short pants, and a shirt made of fabric so bright it hurt my eyes to look upon it.

“What are you wearing?” I gasped.

“My favorite Hawaiian shirt. Wow, the yard looks great Vlad, but what is that horrible sulphur smell.”

I told him of Sebastian’s visit. In turn Randolpho helped me shovel the dusty yellow ashes into  the garbage can.

“Sebastian always was a real dick,” said Randolpho. “Even when we were kids.”

Friendship is like flowers and Vampires. You treat it with care and kindness and the rewards are endless.

~ Vlad

 

 

Dear Diary,

During this time of the two thousand and twenty pandemic we do not go out as much as we did. Even Vampires have decided it is better to stay in as much as possible.

My friend Randolpho and my Vampire lover Gillian have taken to sitting on my couch all night watching Netflix and drinking alcohol and blood concoctions. Tonight Gillian made something called Bloody Marys made with blood, vodka, red vegetable juice, limes, and a variety of spices.

We are beyond the point of no return I fear with our sanity being in trouble. Gillian and Randolpho are watching something called The Floor is Lava. I am both appalled and fascinated.

“Maybe the three of us should sign up for the show. We’d kick ass,” said Randolpho.

This is a strange world indeed in which we live, and even stranger times. Even someone my age, which is six hundred and seventy six years knows we are in strange times.

At this point I don’t even care. I poured more vodka in my drink. At least I am cute. That seems to be the only constant these days.

~ Vlad

Kissed by a Vampire

This has been the 62nd installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. Click here to read Vlad’s story from the beginning.

Short Story Sunday: Writing On The Wall

Writing On The Wall

Every house I’ve ever lived in as an adult has had writing on the wall. It’s usually phone numbers in the garage next to the automatic sprinkler controls, or labels in the pantry closet, or construction notes. I’ve lived in a couple of places that had backs of closets illustrated by children who are now senior citizens.

Earlier this week my husband Steve and I started painting the walls in our family room and breakfast nook. We’re doing a major decorative remodel. Think “Property Brothers” or something along those lines. As he pulled out screws that previous owners used to hang some large pieces of art or maybe a giant fish or something.

Anyway, a large piece of plaster fell off of the wall. Steve swore something under his breath using the words “fuck” and “damn.” He called me over.

“Look at this honey. What do you think?”

On the wall these words were scrawled in black ink: I killed Heather Marie Larkin. She was a bitch and deserved to die. Her body is buried under the house. JKR 1989.

“Do you think it’s true?” I asked Steve.

“I don’t know. It could be a joke. Have you ever heard of Heather Marie Larkin?”

“I don’t know. It sounds sort of familiar. I’ll look it up.”

The Internet was all over Heather Marie Larkin. She’d been twenty-four years old, a recent college graduate, engaged to a brilliant law student named Ted LaRue. From the comments it looked like the Heather wasn’t well liked. Not just because of her spectacular good looks and charmed life, but for the fact she was a horrible person. Heather Marie Larkin was the girl who got away with everything. If anyone was in her way they would fall – and fall hard.

One night in 1989 Heather vanished and was never seen or heard from again. No clues. No suspects. Nothing. JKR was Joanna Katrina Randolph. She married Ted LaRue two years after Heather vanished. Her parents had built the house in 1982.

Steve said, “You know if she is buried under our house we’ll never be able to sell it. The press will be all over the place. This will always be known as a murder house. Those true crime people will be all over the place, looking in our windows and trying to bug us about things, not to mention the ghost hunters.”

“Good point,” I said.

“Glad you agree. Hand me the paint brush sweetie.”

And I did.

~ end.

Tangled Tales

 

Retelling Lore and Updating Mythologies

This morning I found a dead bat in my house. It was a teeny tiny little thing – a little brown myotis. At first I thought it was a leaf. I was sad to see this tiny nocturnal creature  on the floor of one of the bedrooms, with it’s wings close to it’s body, all alone.

Mind you, it wasn’t a Vampire. It was just a bat. A precious and tiny little beneficial flying mammal that eats bugs. It made me sad to see it dead and alone.

This made me think of common lore, that is of Vampires and bats. Most of us prefer the night but we aren’t shape shifters. Mind you, we can make you think we are but that is your own fault.

Lore is spread through stories once told around the fire at night, and now told in movies, books, and television. Stories and mythologies evolve as our world and culture evolves. What is popular becomes belief. What is unpopular becomes forgotten.

I took the dog for a walk and started to think of the reworking of lore and mythologies, especially in weird times like now. Even the stories of atomic creatures such as Godzilla and giant insects come out of the advent of atomic bombs. Mothman first appeared in West Virginia folklore, in the Point Pleasant area from November 12, 1966, to December 15, 1967. In fact some people claim to still see him from time to time. So much of Space Alien lore and a boom in Science Fiction, also takes place in the 1950’s – 60’s, at the time of the space race,  though it goes back to as long as people have been looking up at the stars.

A writing friend of mine asked about rewriting mythologies. I say DO IT. I love it when authors take old stories and rewrite them.

One of my favorite things to do it to take a modern look at old characters. In my story Sam Judge I rewrote the story of Samson and Delilah in a post apocalyptic setting. Holy shit, I wrote it a few months before our current Covid-19 pandemic started. It was for the new WPaD Anthology Goin’ Extinct Too! Apocalypse A-Go-Go. 

Sam Judge was a retelling of the biblical story from the point of view of Lilah. Once you get rid of all of the sexist bull shit it just becomes a story of a guy with a lot of power and a powerful family, and a woman trying to do her job.

I wonder about a lot of old stories. Take David and Goliath. David was a guy who threw a rock at the big bully Goliath who was a GIANT. David became the King because that is how people picked leaders back then. My take is that David was about average height or maybe on the shorter end of average  like 5″6′. I’m going by what is average today, not five thousand years ago. Goliath was tall but not a giant. Maybe about 6’11” or even 7′ like a basket ball player. Goliath could have been the same height of Goliath who was obviously the epitome of the school yard bully. David kicked Goliath’s ass. It could have been with rocks. It could have been with words. The point of this story is that David’s crew had to spin the story to make it look more spectacular. They had to make David look bigger than life so they made Goliath into a 15″6′ giant and made David into just a regular guy which he wasn’t. The spin doctors were going for the lowest common denominators with their mostly agrarian and illiterate constituents. See where I’m going with this.

Another favorite story of mine and of my readers is Ode to a Greek God. I take the god Hermes and update the readers on what he is doing now in his home in San Francisco.  His son Pan is settled down. Hermes is evaluating his life and still getting into trouble with women. It is a new world where mortal humans tend to be a little more savy and demanding. I might even continue that story one day or update the new mythology.

For centuries people have been fascinated by the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table stories. Was Arthur even real? What about the Holy Grail. There are stories within stories within stories. Everyone from John Steinbeck to Stephen Spielberg had their own wonderful takes on the lore of King Arthur and the Holy Grail. Of course Monty Python did it better than anyone.

I also had my own take on the story of Arthur, Merlin and the Camelot Crew with my Druce and Morcant stories. In Off To See The Wizard the two friends started with a trip to meet Merlin. I’m still writing their stories. By the way Druce is a Warlock, and Morcant is a Selkie. That makes for even more lore.

And speaking of Selikes please read the wonderful new story by emerging author Adelia Hoff called The Fisherman. She did a beautiful job taking the predatory and mean nature out of an old tale.

Be it Bible stories, Greek Gods, Vampires, Selkies, Mermaids, Wizards, Ghosts, old legends, or what ever lore you’re writing just remember that it is your story to tell. YOUR STORY.

Someone started the lore and mythologies we currently retell over and over and over. Why not start your own.

And if you just want to read you have plenty of material. I’ll make a list in my next book blog post.

In the meantime keep your mind open. Keep your heart open. Keep your imagination running. Wear a mask. Talk with your kids. Check in on those who might need extra help. Stay safe.

And tell me what your favorite stories of myths, lore, or retellings of old tales are. I’d love to hear.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Thoughts on Summer Heat, Schools, and Dog Walks

I can’t wait until fall comes. I don’t mean that lingering September heat that is like a hot slap in the face with a blow torch. I mean real fall with cool air and where the temperature stays under 75°F.

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Every morning I take my dog out for a walk. One of our stops is the local school which is also a park during non-school hours, which is always right now. The highlight of the school trip is getting a drink out of the fountain. Not for me – for the dog.

If school ever starts again we’ll change our morning route. The school we walk in is an old much loved public school turned into a public Waldorf charter school. The gardens are still growing. Staff is keeping the school clean.

When school was in session I loved watching the kids, all wearing sun hats, go for walks to the trails by the lake we live near. The youngest would hold hands or hold a rope so that they’d stay together. It was precious. The school has such a sense of community like the public charter Montessori school my children went to. The Waldorf school is a community and part of our neighborhood community. The same goes for the newer and larger neighborhood public elementary school down the street.

My daughter will be taking the fall quarter, the first quarter of do fourth year of college, online. It sucks but it is what has to be online school. We can manage that. With all of the money government, both federal and local, they could have online schools and computers for every kid if they wanted to. If they really wanted to they could make it happen.

I can’t imagine teachers, school cafeteria workers, custodians, teaching assistants, administrative staff, and others who work for schools coming down with Covid-19. I can’t imagine the horrible nightmare of children getting the virus.

Too little too late can’t be the lament of our education systems. We need to adjust and to see this as a public health issue. The lives of our teachers, children, and school workers depend on it.

Cafeteria’s can still be open for take out meals for children, or social distancing while school is out. Other services can adjust to meet the needs of children and families.  It can be done.

In the meantime, to switch gears to something nice, here are some photos of one of my walks earlier this week.

  • Talk to with your kids
  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t complain or whine too much in front of your children. They’re stressed out about this too.
  • Kiss a Vampire (it will be ok. Vampires don’t transmit this thing)
  • Check in on the elderly and those who might need extra help or love.
  • Stay in touch with zoom, blogs, and other social media – or just pick up the phone and CALL someone you care about.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Lost Keys and Lies

Every have one of those days when getting out of the house seems nearly impossible?

I couldn’t find my keys this morning and of course I was running late. And no I can’t just change myself into a bat.  That only happens in fiction.

I’m scouring the house but nothing. Then I heard a throat clearing.  I turned around and behind me is the Ghost, damn him, with my keys.

“I believe I have something of yours.” He said that with a nasty curl of his lip then flicked a lock of black hair out of his eyes.

I reached for the keys and they vanished, along with the Ghost.

I let out a string of not so nice words (the kind moms pretend not to know) and then tried to sense where he could have gone.

Off of the bookshelf I grabbed the box with all of the spare keys. Does anyone else have keys to cars, doors, and safe boxes they don’t even remember?

Anyway I grabbed the spare keys to my car and yelled, “If you don’t give me my keys back I’ll pour a bottle of Pinesol on your grave. I’ll pour a gallon on it.”

Nothing.

“I know where your grave is Nigel. I looked you up. I know all about you.”

I heard a clang as the keys dropped on the tile floor of the kitchen. I picked them up and headed for the front door.

He stood there waiting for me. “How’d you find out where my grave is?”

“I don’t even know your last name. How would I know where your grave is?” I looked at him with such calm as his eyes narrowed and threatened to turn me to ice.

“You’re a Vampire and a liar,” he snarled at me.

“And I’m really good at being both.” Then I smiled and headed out the door.

Anyway, tell your kids that lies and bad words are not acceptable…of course unless you’re dealing with a Ghost.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

keys

Note: This was first posted in 2013. Today is a busy day for me so I thought you’d like more fun and a blast from the past from Nigel and me. Sure he’ll hate me for it but the guy is a Ghost. What do you expect? On the other hand being a Ghost has nothing to do with it. I bet he was an asshole when he was alive.

~ J