2019 Summer Reading: Transport Yourself to Another Time

Today, on my Monday Book/Reading feature I present three books that are quite different, but three books that will transport you into another time or place.

Reveries of a Bachelor

by I.K. Marvel
1850

I’ve carried my curious little volume around for years, with now yellow and brittle pages, treasuring it as a nice little book that takes one back to 1850, in the time of the Industrial Revolution and the California Gold Rush.

This summer I’ll be reading it again after many many many years.

Reveries of a Bachelor examines the dream-like lives Americans were living at the time. It was one of the top best sellers of its time but has received little attention from 19th century literary critics. In the text, Ik Marvel theorizes on boyhood, country life style, marriage, travel, and dreaming.

It was one of poet Emily Dickinson’s favorite books.

It is now quaint, and dated, but there are still hard truths of the heart and soul that we can all find in this volume of essays.

If you like social history, or write historic history from the mid-19th Century this book contains a wealth of sentimental information.

Reveries of a Bachelor is no longer in print. You might be able to find a copy online, on eBay, or maybe at your local used bookstore. Some people are asking over $100 for a copy but I know you can find one on eBay for under $10.

This sweet, and sometimes silly book will transport you to another time. Fix a tall drink and spend an hour or two with it under a shade tree or on your back porch with your cat or dog at your feet.

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Author I. K. Marvel

Artful Players
Artistic Life in Early San Francisco

by Brigitta Hjalmarson

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I love this book so much.

From the book jacket: With a handful of wealthy Gold Rush barons as indulgent patrons, an active community of artist appeared in San Francisco almost overnight. A subculture of artistic brilliance and social experimentation was the result in essence, a decades-long revelry which finally ended with the 1906 earthquake. 

Unfortunately when most people think about art from 1849 – 1906 they think of French, or Italian, or German art. Or they think of artist in the Eastern United States. But the real story, the personalities, the talent, and the fun was in California, specifically San Francisco down to Monterey, and even in Sacramento.

This book is non-fiction but it is a well written story and oh so fun to read. You’ll be transported in time with the adventures of Jules Travrnier, Thomas Hill, William Keith, Julian Rix, Grace Hudson, Theodore Wore, Oscar Wilde, and others. It was a time and place where both men and women could break out of the normal constraints and be the artists they wanted to be. Yes, there was drama, and the guys still didn’t want the girls to play in their club house, but it was an amazing time. It is a time and place you won’t want to leave. So pack your tuxedo, your camping gear, and your paint brushes and join the fun in Artful Players.

I read this book in January but I know I’ll be reading it again soon, just to savor it and get in the details once more.

Note: This book is available on Amazon for about $30. You can get a nice copy for a lot less on eBay or other online non-Amazon book sellers. Also check with your local used bookstores.

Chronicles of The One Trilogy

Book 1 Year One

Book 2 Of Blood and Bone

By Nora Roberts

I have book one and two of this Nora Roberts trilogy. Book 3 comes out later this year. I have to admit that I’m a fan of Nora Roberts trilogies. This post appocolyptic series includes magic, romance, and no doubt some nice twists and turns. I haven’t read either books yet. These are on my summer reading list. I will no doubt read them with tall cool drinks on my back deck undisturbed by two or four legged visitors.

I absolutely LOVE the J.D. Robb “In Death” series, and am of course waiting for the next book to come out.

 

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I will never shame anyone about what they read (if you want me to I can give you my shameful awful reading list of books I violently dislike.) I like to read just about anything. My goal is to give you some fun and interesting suggestions, and share books I’ve enjoyed, found curious, or think I’m going to enjoy.

So until next Monday – have fun and happy reading.

And you know, you can always read my blog anytime you want. With over 2,000 posts it is guaranteed to keep you entertained.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Cat-ur-day

Saturday is here which usually means a Burning Question Poll or a lousy drawing.

But TODAY it is Cat-ur-Day. Move over Saturn, the cats are here.

Last night while I was folding laundry (yes, Vampires have laundry) my cat Oscar was curled up next to his buddy Stan-Lee. Stan is an old Steiff tiger of the most pleasant disposition. Oscar loves his Stan.

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Oscar is my baby boy, even though he turns eight this summer.

Gloria is almost fourteen. We got her at the pound (Sacramento Animal Control and Rescue) on my daughter’s 6th birthday. She was a teeny tiny little thing. Gloria is still pretty small but fierce. She is the hunter, and I will say no more. Birds, bugs, lizards, and all small rodents – you have been warned.

But wait… for all of you who need your poochie dogo fix I also took a picture of Alice, my cuddle bug hellhound (aka GSD aka German Shepard Dog.) Alice is three years old. Her birthday is December 25th. Alice weights 86 pounds, loves the cats to no end, listens to the “mom voice”, and steals the cat food as often as she can.

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For those who came here looking for a Burning Question or a drawing I aim to please.

Here is a doodle I did a while back of a vampire child and her cat. Just a doodle.

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The Tiger and Vampire Maman

And something else a little more detailed.

This one was done under another name (aka Marla Todd) but I drew it. This was a while back. I have a stash of works I’ve never shown anyone, and a lot of work I’ve sold or given away. Hell yeah I’ve been paid for my artwork and illustrations.

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Finally…

Drum roll please…

The BURNING QUESTION for today is: How does society influence art?

If you don’t like that one talk about your cats, dogs, art, or spring garden in the comment section below. Yes, that is what the comment section is for. Start the discussions NOW.

Happy Cat-ur-Day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Culture

Dear Diary,

Tonight I cut myself while shaving my face. I did not bleed as I had not eaten yet. I realized that if I did eat I would start to bleed. That would be a problem as I had put on a white shirt. I had rolled up the sleeves to right below my elbow. Modern women find that “hot.” I am not sure what they mean by “hot” except maybe they are so excited that they age a dozen years in their excitement and stop having children but I know that is not what hot means. I also know that my lover Gillian would slap me if she knew such a thought had come into my mind. What do they call it? Hot flash? A hot flash. I would cause a hot flash. I do not think that is what women mean by hot when they see my sleeves rolled up.

I am a Vampire. Hot is not a good description for me. I once heard a woman say I was smoking hot. I went into the restroom to find a mirror. There was no smoke coming out of me or my clothing. I was going to ask her to explain but ended up going to her house and drinking her blood instead. If a woman wants me to be hot then I shall be hot.

In order to make my cut go away I put my finger on the wound and said a few ancient Vampire words in order to heal myself. Then I left my house. As I drove I wondered if a hot flash was anything like a flash mob, then I thought of something else.

After going out to a local club for a quick bite I noticed a spot on my shirt. I was bleeding. I covered my cut with a paper napkin until the bleeding stopped. I hate it when I leak. It has been what some call one of those days.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Today I met my friend Constantine at the art museum. When I was Vampire King of my own Vampire Kingdom there were no museums. I had paintings, and sculpture, and skulls, tapestries, and strange bones on shelves. I would let people into my castle to see the objects. We did not have churches in the Vampire Kingdom so I displayed interesting things people brought me from far away places.

While I was locked in a crypt for the 18th – 20th Centuries museums came into vogue. Constantine told me that museum comes from the word muse, or as a shrine of the muses. This museum phenomenon is all new to me. I do not think I have a muse. I only have an um.

Constantine was late. I walked into the vast building, connected to an older vast building. Herds of children followed old people called docents out of the lobby, up stairwells, and elevators. I walked the halls alone finding myself surrounded by strange things.

I find almost all things strange in the 21st Century but the museum seemed to be a repository of strangeness. The strange galleries were filling up with children who seemed to love the random splashes of color, and disturbing sculptures. I could hear someone asking the children about the purpose of the horizontal lines. I had to leave before I was caught up in the frantic excitement.

Down a hall I found myself alone, surrounded by paintings of mostly outdoor places. I stood in front of a painting of singular beauty. The scene was that of a marsh, or field on a foggy morning, with a group of trees in the background. It was simple, yet drew me in unlike any other piece I had seen.

A hand settled on my shoulder and a voice spoke quietly next to me. “I knew the artist well. He painted that right before he left California. It was because of a woman. She was cheating on him. I miss him.”

“That is a sad story my friend,” I said. “What happened to him?”

“I was going to go back to the East Coast where he’d set up a studio, but he’d died. I should have changed him into a Vampire when I had the opportunity, while he was still here. I think he would have done well as one of us,” said Constantine.

Constantine spends a lot of time at the art museum. He is there on Thursday nights and other adult events. He said there were lectures and films to see. He says it is his favorite place to dine because he likes the crowd of art lovers. He says art makes their blood sweeter.

As we walked around, he told me stories about the artists and the artworks. He explained the different art movements, even with art that does not move. Yes indeed, there is art that moves.

At one point two lovely young women stood near us. All young women are lovely are they not?

I glanced over at them and smiled. Constantine did the same.

“Are you two models? Actors maybe?” One asked while the other just smiled.

We told them no. They smiled and walked on, talking to each other about how handsome and cute we were.

“What do those charming women mean by cute? Is it different in a museum setting? Either way I have yet to understand exactly what they mean. A kitten is cute. A baby is cute. We are not kittens or babies.” I said to my friend.

Constantine just laughed but failed to answer my questions.

I asked him if any of his art was in the museum. “Not yet,” he said. “Maybe I’ll donate one of my 17th Century pieces, but I have to admit my early 20th Century landscapes are more popular.”

Constantine has always been an artist. He has also always been sly and quick to take advantage of easy situations. He is an extremely successful Vampire.

I will come back to the art museum. Maybe I will get a membership.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Five years ago I was rescued from my entombment. Trapped in a crypt for three hundred years left me completely in the dark. Maybe that is not the correct expression to use since I am a Vampire and being in the dark is not that bad of a thing.

I am 675 years year old yet my points of reference and my appearance is that of a Millennial.

I have experience but my technology is too old.

Once I even told someone that I was raised in a religious cult in an isolated mountain town and home schooled by coyotes and squirrels. I could not tell them that my isolation was due to being locked in a crypt with five dead bodies, and with a wooden stake through my heart.

I know that my style is such that my friends need not call the five Queer Eye men to make me over.

I know that my hesitation and naivety can charm both men and women. I know my good looks can do the same.

But when someone asks me if I am straight and I check my posture that is embarrassing. It was two years before someone told me that “straight” was someone who is attracted to the opposite sex. I do not know these new words.

I do not want to act like an old man. On the other hand I have met old men who would be considered “exceptionally cool” by a Mellinnial, or anyone else who is alive and not a Vampire.

My head is spinning. It is time to sleep. Good night Diary. Close up. Go to sleep. The cats are waiting on the foot of the bed and wish for me to join them.

~Vlad

 

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

Click HERE to see all of Vlad’s Vampire Diary entries. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winding River – A Mystery

 

While going through a pile of old artwork I found this large format photo. It is about 16 x 18 inches and printed on heavy paper. It was printed in the 19th – early 20th Century. I don’t know who the photographer was, or who printed the photo. It is an original photograph.

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About a month ago I saw a photo of a painting of the exact same scene. The photo was from the late 19th Century. The scene is in the Rocky Mountains, maybe in Colorado. I don’t remember the what/where/who of that painting.

I’m putting the following questions out to my readers, and art/photo/Western historians. I don’t know the answers to these questions so any help would be WONDERFUL and I’d be grateful to you forever:

Who was the photographer?

Was this the Winding River and are the mountains in the background the Rockies?

Who painted this scene?

What is the painting and where is it located? Is it in a museum?

If you know any of the answers let me know. Yes, this is a mystery. Let’s solve it together.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

96 Colors

96 Colors

Yesterday my new set of 96 Firm Pastel Color Sticks (Prismacolor Nupastel) landed on my front porch along with pastel paper to draw on.

I am so excited.

NINETY SIX COLORS! AND PAPER 18 x 24 INCH PAPER!

It has been years since I’ve created any serious fine artwork. Sure I doodle and still occasionally do graphic design shit but I’m ready to start working on a grander scale again.

So what are YOUR goals for today?

  • Do something creative (even if it is fixing something without instructions.)
  • Seek out color.
  • Keep away from bad blood (for both Vampires and non-Vampires.)
  • Laugh.
  • Look at the moon (Werewolves – that is up to your discretion.)
  • Talk to your kids. Hug them. Listen to them. Encourage them.
  • Go to a museum (I will be there.)
  • Banish Demons (especially the ones with the big leathery wings and yellow eyes.)
  • Have fun.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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At the Crocker Art Museum

My heart is in this place. The Crocker Art Museum, in Sacramento California, is such an amazing, beautiful, wonderful museum. Put it on your MUST SEE list.

I’m just posting images today. No words necessary. If you have any questions just ask and I will answer. Or go to crockerart.org for more information.

I can’t always explain the wonder and awe and feeling of being so complete and one with the universe when I’m in the presence of art. It is time travel for the soul. It is the essence of being. It was something that transports.  It is like a high that no drug can match. It is magic. ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Enjoy. Oh, one more thing. I’ll post a story inspired (sort of) by the museum. It is also about dogs and full moons and maybe a little romance…maybe.

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California.

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Night Dogs (A Short Story)

Constantine Jones sat on the bottom of the museum steps wondering what just happened.

Earlier that evening he’d put on his best Armani suit, a Hermes silk tie, and was feeling good about the outcome of the evening. It was to be a charity event. Beautiful people would be there dressed up. Everyone would be relaxed, and happy, and it would be delightfully fun.

After discussing art and drinking champagne he’d lured a few well-heeled patrons to remote galleries to see some unusual modern art. There he took a few pints of blood from wrists and left his donors with no memories, except those of a delightful conversation with a well dressed, nice looking young art expert. Well, a 165 year old art expert, but that was besides the point.

Then in the main gallery, the California Room, he saw her standing in front of the Thomas Hill grand painting of Yosemite Valley. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room but she was attractive in a cute sort of California girl way, and had that delightful look of both shyness and playfulness. Her olive green dress shimmered along the neckline with iridescent beads. As she turned her head towards him it was like a lightning bolt had hit his heart. First sight.

Second sight as well. A smallish dog of unknown breed stood next to her with a service dog vest on. A service dog. Why did she need a service dog?

With his usual ease, Constantine approached the woman. He asked if he could pet the dog. She said yes. She told him she’d had a head injury when she was in Afghanistan. She’d been in the Army. He would never guessed. The dog could detect seizures.

They talked for an hour about art, and life, and it seemed as if he’d met his soul mate. It was the best hour he’d ever spent. Then she was gone. He hadn’t even asked her name.

So like Prince Charming, he sat at the bottom of the stairs wondering where Cinderella had gone. All he had of her was one of her earrings he’d found on the steps. It was a gold strand with a single diamond on the end. The diamond was real.

I might as well walk home he thought. It was just a couple of miles. He’d clear out his mind. The full moon, and lights from late night downtown bars and restaurants lit the way.

Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a large dog wearing a back pack. A service dog? A smaller dog in a vest followed. Around the next corner, in an alley, he saw three more large dogs in the dark, all wearing packs.

Maybe it was a training exercise. The dogs could have been German Shepards looking for drugs or a missing person, or even bodies. It was weird, but at this point he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He was a Vampire so weird and unusual was over rated anyway.

Constantine thought about the woman he’d met. She’d been a nurse in a convoy, and there was a bomb. She didn’t say anything else except that her dog was named Tess. She liked Jazz music, indie films, and indie books. Of course she liked art too. She was a high school art teacher now, having moved on from nursing. But sometimes she helped out the school nurse. Weird how he got those details. He’d told her… what had he told her about himself? Not much. He was a Vampire so he never told much, at least not at first. He’d told her that he ran a philanthropic foundation that supported the arts, and other causes. He told her he had two cats and liked astronomy. She also was a watcher of the moon and stars. Then she kissed his cheek, excused herself, and a few minutes later he saw her walking out the front door of the museum.

As a Vampire he usually had a good feel for people but he couldn’t get a final read on her. Again, he thought about the fact that he didn’t even get her name. But the dog was named Tess. Tess the service dog.

Constantine thought about war. He could imagine the horrors she’d been through. He was a child during the Civil War or the War Between the States, whatever they wanted to call it. Those weren’t memories he cared to relive. He’d come out to California as soon as he was old enough to be on his own, as soon as he’d become a Vampire, and stayed there.

As he walked along the dogs with packs stayed in the alleys and shadows. Looking at the local news feeds and police scans from his iPhone he found nothing. One of his neighbors was a K-9 cop. Constantine would ask him about it tomorrow.

Arriving home at his craftsman style bungalow he noticed a few dogs in packs at the end of the street. This was getting weird. Odder, and a nice surprise, was that a woman in a slightly wrinkled olive green dress, and a single diamond and gold earring was standing on his front porch.

Tess the service dog stood beside her. Hanging off of her shoulder was a back pack.

No. It couldn’t be. She wasn’t Cinderella. She was a Werewolf.

They introduced themselves, again, but this time with names. Her name was Diana. Like the goddess of the moon.

“You have my earring,” she said smiling and holding out a hand.

“You have my heart,” he heard himself saying, much to his surprise.

Then he kissed her under the full moon, as Tess sat at attention and wagged her tail.

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman