Vintage Halloween (with Vampires and Wolfhounds)

A large wreath on the front door was made of faded and cracked plastic flowers. You know, those plastic flowers that were sold in the Five and Dime stores in the 1960’s. Faded ribbons and bows hung in odd gray pastel tones.

Without even asking I knew Eleora had taken the flowers off of graves that nobody had visited for years. Long forgotten wives and mothers. I knew Eleora had replaced the faded flowers with real ones and taken time to sit and chat with the departed and sing them songs from their times.

Eleora opened the front door and greeted us wearing a bright yellow skirt with a well worn orange sweater with black cat head shaped buttons. Her feet were bare and her toenails painted a glossy red on one foot and black on the other.

“Do you like my Halloween wreath? I made it yesterday.” She took my hand and led me inside.

“Shabby chic.” I said. “Very nice.”

She gave me a hug and kissed my face all over then took the hands of my children and danced them into the house.

The old lab mix slid around the corner barking, followed by two HUGE wolfhounds.  I was surrounded by a sea of happy wiggling dogs. The sharp spikes in my leg was a tiny black kitten who had enthusiastically crawled up my jeans.

“Who are you?” I asked picking up the tiny purring monster. “Oh my goodness you’re cute.” It mewed back in one of those precious tiny kitten voices.

My brother Max had been there, because the wolfhounds were his. My daughter took the kitten who was named Jinx. A fitting name for a black kitten.

Eleora and Tellias are ancient Vampires. They’re seniors, despite the fact that they look like they are in their late teens or early twenties.  This dear old couple has been together for over 2,000 years – a long time for any romance.

Eleora had decorated the walls and windows with old paper Halloween cut-outs. Mostly cats with a few pumpkins and other creatures of the night. She’d also included decorations made by generations of both Vampire and Regular Human children who’d come in and out of her life over the past century.

Tellias came down the stairs, his white blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail and wearing old farmer overalls without a shirt. He had a Mr. Rodgers cardigan on over it.

He gave us all hugs and kisses, a smile on his lovely face. Ancient yet forever young.

“Let’s celebrate Halloween early. Max dropped off two cases of Poet’s Blood!” He led the procession of dogs and family to the formal dining room and took crystal goblets from a large ornate hutch.

I heard a car door close and knew my brother Max had arrived. He came in looking handsome as usual obviously straight from work all in black leather.  I noticed he still had a weapon on his belt. The dogs went crazy dancing and barking.

Halloween is a time to celebrate. More than that, it is an excuse to celebrate and have fun. But we need to celebrate good times and those we love more often without an excuse of a holiday or other special event. It is always time to love and share, especially if you have elders or anyone who is alone or needs a little extra help or company.

xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Frogs, Love, and Hell

I believe I’ve used the frog story before, but I shall tell it again.

Put a cold cast iron skillet on a cold burner on your stove. Gas works best. Place a large, live, cold blooded frog in the center of the skillet. Use a good sized one – 10-12 inches. Turn on the heat ever so low, then gradually turn it up. The frog will sit until it gets blazing hot and it’s feet and belly stick to the cast iron and it is cooked.

This is what happens to people in this heat (we’re expecting over 100 all week and over 110 F on some days). Elderly people and others who are not always aware will sit in the heat like the frog until they cook. They’ll forget to jump out of the pan, or in the case of some folks, forget to turn on the air conditioning or fan. Or they’ll forget to call for help because they won’t realize they need help.

My neighbor and dear friend Kelly came over tonight with a couple of cold drinks (bless her). She isn’t a Vampire like we are. She suspects we’re different but can’t quite put a finger on it. She also has a ghost in her house (yes, that ghost.)

We sat for a while as she told me of her elderly mother and the heat. Her mother forgets to turn on the air conditioner. Her mother obsesses about bad neighbors but will not let her children or helpers put anything over the fence so to keep out the eyes of those bad neighbors. She asked Kelly to come over (it was 110 outside) to cut down a tree. Kelly said no. Her mother doesn’t know what yard the tree is growing in. Kelly tells her not to go outside and check because it is too hot and because she’ll fall and end up in the hospital – again. The same conversation has happened over and over – with a different plant, a hose, a stray cat, an unfamiliar car parked on the street, or something else that Kelly will either have to deal with or talk her way out of.

She wishes her mother would move to a house where she won’t worry about bad trees and bad neighbors and expensive up keep. Kelly has suggested a smaller home near Kelly and the grand kids. It would be nice with all sorts of beautiful features and a lovely garden within walking distance of Kelly’s home. The kids could visit anytime. Her mother refuses. So Kelly must hear about trees and drive to her mom’s to get the mail, and give up her Saturday fun time. Saturday fun time is important for working moms and all moms and busy women who work, and well, it is important for everyone.

She wishes she could travel and do fun things with her mother. She wishes they could talk more of things that are positive and fun – things that are not bodily functions or other unpleasant things that only bring Kelly stress.

Sometimes the heat can suck the fun out of everything. The heat of being a caretaker can do the same. It is exhausting. Especially if the caretaker has children of her own. Kelly told her kids to put her on an ice flow if she ever got to the point where she couldn’t take care of herself. She asked them to shoot her if she ever lost her sense of humor. I gave her a hug. We talked for another house about books we’ve read this summer. We agree that everyone MUST read “Beautiful Ruins.” Then she went home to spend time with her own teenage children (good friends with my kids.)

After slipping on the kitchen floor today on an unknown object and landing on my back, I lay there thinking that I’d better call The Elders. They’re ancient and sometimes don’t use the best judgement.

Eleorna and Tellias, frail and gentle, were fine. Their neighbor had brought over shaved ice flavored with basil and rosemary. God bless him. They remembered to bring their old dog in and give him plenty of water. They didn’t drive today because sometimes they forgot how to turn on the air conditioner and the sun was too bright and they had lost the keys again, so they stayed home. And they turned on the air conditioner in their beautiful 143 year old house and slept in each other’s arms like young lovers.

I’m always afraid that I’ll drop by their house and find nothing but their ashes. I’m afraid someone will take advantage of them. I’m afraid that one day they might be gone and I will have a broken heart that will never go away.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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For more on the elders in my life and dealing with the elderly (with humor or not) see the links below:

Rats in the Recycle – Taking Care of Our Elders.

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They danced around me, twirling, lightly kissing my face and taking my hands and twirling me around, then twirling each other. Their voices were light like tissue paper in lightly brushing against more tissue paper. Corny description but that is what it is like when they sing and dance a welcome song.
What were they singing? It was in a minor key, but sort of like an old country dance mixed with a funeral dirge. Oh shit. It was Duran Duran.
Even on the darkest night when empty promise means empty hand
And soldiers coming home like shadows turning red
When the lights of hope are fading quickly then look to me
I’ll be your homing angel, I’ll be in your head

I went out to the barn and took a nap, up in loft, like when we were kids.

That was a weird cover version.

This is pretty typical from Tellias and Eleora. They’re old. They’re really old. They’re ancient. They look like college students but they’re over 2,000 years old. And like me, they’re Vampires. Yes, we have our senior citizens too.

Tellias was wearing an old pair of pants with the waist band almost to his nipples – or at least it looked like that. He had tucked in a white dress shirt and put on an orange tie. On his feet were yellow flip flops. He always says if he wears yellow flip flops that nobody will know he is a Vampire. Eleora was wearing a knee length green plaid skirt, with a purple cardigan over an orange lace blouse. They are both pretty in an almost innocent way, like they just walked out of a Botticelli painting, or maybe Rafael.

Anyway, they’re old and I check on them, because like a lot of elderly folks they need help because they can’t always help themselves. And I love them.

Tellias helped me bring bags of cleaning supplies into the house. I brought in a case of Poet’s Blood. I don’t know how often or what they eat. I need to make sure they’re safe.

My brother Val came in wearing jeans, a flannel shirt, and carrying a tool box.

“Working on the barn?” I asked.

“I finshed the roof and took a nap in the loft,” he ansered giving me a kiss on my cheek.

“There are rats up there Val. Big rats,” I said.

“I know, I just grab them by the tail and give them a hard wack on the beams,” he said.

“Make sure you put those little bodies in the recycle bin,” said Eleora.

“Recycle? You aren’t supposed to put dead animals in the recycle bin,” I said.

“Well maybe someone might want to turn them into cat food,” said Tellias.

“Tellias, look at you with that Kylo Ren look going on,” said Val.

“Val is never around. He just comes by and sleeps,” Tellias said looking disgusted.

“I heard that. I’ve spent all day cleaning up your messes,” said Val.

“What did you clean? You’ve been on the computer machine and the telephone all day,” said Tellias.

“On the phone all day long. On the computer machine all day long,” said Eleora.

“All day,” said Tellias.

“All day,” said Eleora.

“I fixed the roof of the barn so the next storm won’t blow it away,” Val said to the elders. Then he turned to me. “Eleora had been channel surfing in the week hours of the morning and saw an informercial about veteran’s benefits. She figured since Tellias had done some work for the war effort during WW2 that he should be getting benefits.”

“That would make me one hundred and two years old according to my military records,” said Tellias.

“You didn’t close that out?” I asked.

“He can get a flag if he dies,” said Eleora.

“Tellias, you need to let them know that THAT Tellias passed away years ago,” I said.

“Some nice man with a strange accent signed me up for life insurance, and a home security system in case one of us falls down,” said Eleora.

“Juliette I spent most of the day getting that cleared up and getting a hold put on their bank account,” my brother said.

“It isn’t our only bank account,” said Tellias.

“She also has five companies coming out for free energy checks and to measure for solar panels,” said Val.

“Free lunch,” said Eleora putting her hands on her hips.

“No Eleora,” said Val.  “I canceled the appointments. You already have solar here. You’ve had it for years. ”

“Where?”

“On top of the barn. I fixed some of the panels today. That is why I was up in the loft.”

“I thought you were killing rats up there,” Eleora said.

“That too,” said Val

“Don’t forget to put the rat bodies in the Green Waste can,” said Tellias. “Or the recycle can. I don’t think it matters.”

“When are the nice men coming out to fix the windows?” Asked Eleora.

“There is nothing wrong with your windows.” Val looked at me again, “Juliette, I cancelled the appointments already.”

“They said we need new windows,” said Tellias.

“Brand new windows. Nobody else can do those kinds of windows,” said Eleora.

“A news crew from the TV station is coming out tomorrow to interview the one hundred and two year old WW2 vet and his pet lion. That would be me,” said Tellias.

“Cancel it NOW,” I yelled. Sometimes I have to yell. I try not to but sometimes…

“I can make them think I’m old,” said Tellias. “I am a Vampire you know.”

“They’ll want to film you,” I said.

“Oh. I see,” said Tellias.

“A lion? Really Tellias?” Val said.

“I just made that up. It sounded more interesting than a regular cat,” Tellias said.

Val went to the cottage on the edge of the orchard where he sometimes lives. While he was out there Eleora and Tellias talked about him and how flighty he was and how they didn’t like his choice of girlfriends, except the one with black hair who was so smart and put together. I had no idea who they were talking about.

When he returned I poured out some Poet’s Blood into big goblets and added a shot of Bourbon into each one.

It had started to rain so we all sat on their big floral couches and watched Logan Lucky for the third time then talked about the Oscars.

“Was your cat named after the Oscar awards?” asked Eleora.

“Oscar Wilde I believe,” said Tellias.

“Yes,” I said, “Oscar Wilde. But he always wears his gray tuxedo, ready for the awards.”

That made Eleora laugh and take my hand.

We visited for several more hours. On the way home I thought about preditors to prey on old people, and young people, and confused people. I thought about the horrible doctor going to prison for the rest of his life because he spent a career abusing girls who were in his care. He was caught. So many are not.

Take care of those who need your help, even when it is frustrating, or confusing, or with no thanks. They might now always seem to care but they do. In thier own fragile way they do.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Silent Nights – Don’t forgot those who are easily forgotten

I made it out to the farmhouse, just outside of town. The lights were off but I knew they were at home. Sometimes they forget to turn the lights on. Sometimes the heat.

The place smells of moth balls, dust and garbage that should have been taken out a week ago. The smell is bad but at least the house looks clean. There aren’t any signs of hording. No signs of anything.

I brought my kids and my brother Max. Max hates going over there but I drag him anyway telling him that it is the right thing to do.

They sit in a small den off of the kitchen watching an old movie – The Bishops Wife. They’ve seen it 100 times and sometimes they’ll watch the same movie every night for a week. They’re on the couch wrapped in a blanket. She has on a red sweater, the one I got her last month on a trip to Target. She was so excited to have something new. He has on a red satin vest and a green bow tie.
She has painted her nails with sparkling gold polish.

We go in and greet them. He was nodding off. She jumps up and covers us with hugs and kisses.

Has anyone else come by this week? I ask. They nod “No” then she speaks up in her child like voice. “Our neighbor brought us some Mandarin oranges off of his tree. Too many for us so make sure you take some home with you. He stayed for tea. I gave him on of my fruit cakes. He said it wouldn’t be Christmas without my fruit cake.”

Her neighbor now in his 60’s has been eating her fruit cake since he was a child. About 20 years ago he moved back into his old family home down the road. He knows about these two old Vampires, but keeps their secrets to himself. Her fruit cake is that good. But the neighbor is the only one who visited aside from us. He is a dear soul who brings their mail up to the house and checks in on them from time to time. They are luck to have him. So many elderly and folks who are alone don’t have a neighbor who cares enough to take a few minutes a week to check in – to care.

The kids took out the garbage. Max listened to the stories he’s heard a million times before and told them of his latest adventures. They listened with amazement and a little confusion, but sometimes added in some words of wisdom and humor that surprised my jaded brother. Our visit was a good thing. Sometimes it is frustrating for me, but I need to be there for the elders who were always there for me. I remember when we were all younger and wish I had those times back again.

Do me a favor, and in the next year reach out to someone who is alone. Bring the mail in for your elderly neighbor or make them cookies once a month or books. Watch a movie with someone who is shut in. Call and check in to an old friend. Offer to help and mean it. Even taking someone to the store, the grocery store or Target means a lot. Those simple acts and everyday things we take for granted are sometimes a BIG deal for someone who is alone. I know it isn’t always easy, but that unease will turn to comfort and joy.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

An alternate universe of memories

Even Vampires have members of “the sandwich generation.” We are those who take care of both our young and the ancient members of our families.

We go between cultures and centuries, trying to keep up with the needs of all. It can be both exhausting and rewarding. The biggest reward is watching the very young and very old together. They seem to have a connection that is unencumbered by the world around us.

This weekend Eleora is with us. Tellias has gone with my brother Val to visit old friends. She can’t stay alone anymore or she’ll wander off, or call 911 just to get good looking young men in uniforms out to her farm, or sit alone without motion for the entire weekend.

Nobody knows how old Eleora is. She looks like a twenty year old, but she is ancient, born before the Roman Empire came to Britain. She is older than any languages we speak today. She is older than dirt (I just said that to be funny.)

We sit over goblets of wine and blood talking about funny things we did on road trips over the years.

Memories are different for Eleora, as if the pages of a book have been torn out then put back in random order. Places, people, and dates are mixed up, making for an alternate universe of memories.

I hold my hand up to my husband Teddy to let him know not to correct Eleora. Just let her talk. We remember all three of the stories, but now they are one story. That’s ok.

Last weekend seventeen year old Clara and I took Eleora to a flower show. I wondered around by myself looking at plants, while the teen and the elder took their time, discussing each plant, and what plants they have at home (African Violets.) They looked at the plants, heads close together, with Clara holding Eleora’s hand and making sure she saw everything.

I over heard someone smile and say the words “special needs.” No, she is just old. But they wouldn’t know that seeing what looked like two lovely young women, perhaps sisters, with the younger helping the slightly slow older girl.

Sometimes when I’m with Eleora I don’t know if I’m in a Harold Pinter play, or just skipping through Oz.

No matter where we are, I’m going to take a deep breath, put away my horrible impatience, and enjoy the unique point of view. And no matter what I think at first, I can still learn from that point of view.

Don’t forget the elders in your life, those who are different, and those who need extra help. We can learn from them, and together our lives will be richer, with far far more interesting memories.

Have a good weekend everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/together/

Don’t Forget

“I need to talk to you about some things. Come quick,” the soft whisper came over the phone this morning.

“What’s up?” I wasted my words as usual.

“Come now.”

When seniors call it could be anything. Someone could be dead, or a water pipe could have burst, or another male, Vampire or a regular guy, could have flirted with Eleora. I never knew what Tellias wanted, and he would never tell me until I arrived. Or he and Eleora might just be lonely.

When my sixteen year old daughter Clara and I arrived Tellias was waiting on the front porch. It was already almost 90 degrees outside. Hot weather is bad enough, but for those as old as Tellias and Eleora is can be absolutely miserable. He wore a Hawiian shirt that looked like it was from the 1950’s with red plaid Bermuda shorts, and yellow flip flops. He’d pulled his long blonde hair back into a braid tied with a purple bandana. Eleora came running out in a yellow halter style sun dress from the 1980’s with her reddish brown curls flying behind her. She grabbed me in a hug and practically lifted me off of the ground. She and Tellias started to sing a happy song in a language I didn’t know, and kiss Clara and me on our cheeks, and took our hands to lead us inside.

Eleora and Tellias look to be all of nineteen or twenty but they’re much older. They’re older than anyone I know. They’re senior citizens, and I love them dearly.

I asked them if they’d eaten lately. They had. I asked if they were feeling alright. They were, despite the heat.

After tall glasses of iced ginger blood with sprigs of mint, Tellias finally told me what he needed.

“I need help with my new car,” he said, taking me by the hand and leading me to the door. We talked as we walked out to the barn.

“But Tellias,” I said, “you know more about cars than I ever could.”

“My darling child, you forget that I was born in BC, and that doesn’t mean…”

“I know, British Columbia.” That is an old joke. Tellias was born sometime in the first century BC and lived through the heydays of the Roman Empire, until he met Eleora in what is now England, but I’m not exactly sure of an exact date or place of his birth. I know it wasn’t Canada.

“I can’t figure out how to get my car to work with my phone. I need you to help me sync it up so to speak.”

“Did you read the instructions?”

“Well, no, but I knew you have the same kind of automobile as I do. I know yours is a 2012 but it is the same basic principle.”

“Nobody at the dealer showed you?”

“I didn’t ask. By the time the damn thing was paid for and all the paperwork was done Eleora had nearly drained the poor young salesman of blood, along with half of the service staff… you know how it is.”

This is typical of our conversations. Like a good young Vampire of only 156 I didn’t flinch or argue the point. I asked him for his keys. He gave me a puzzled look.

“Juliette, just a moment dear, I’m not sure where I left them.”

We spent an hour looking for the keys. He eventually found them in his front pants pocket.

In the cool barn I synced his phone to the system. Tellias could now play his eclectic mix of music and podcasts, and of course make hands-free phone calls. Even as a Vampire I savored the new car smell. Then I realized something else.

“Tellias,” I said, “you didn’t tell me you have bought a hybrid.”

He smiled with his usual boyish charm, “I figured if I’m going to be here another 2,000 years I might as well try to keep the place clean.”

Next to the new car was a 1931 L-29 Convertible Coupé that looked brand new, along with a stunning 1936 Auburn 654 Cabriolet, a well used 1958 Ford truck, and the red 1964 Mustang Convertible. Eleora’s little white Miata was parked in front of the house. She’d left the top off and a family of possums had moved into the back seat (but that is a blog post for another day.)

We spent the next half hour talking about mostly nothing as the neighbor’s cat meowed and wound herself around our legs. We walked back to the house feeling the heat like only Vampires can feel the heat.

Once inside the questions and banter started.

“When are your parents coming to see us?” Eleora asked.

“They never see us anymore,” said Tellias.

“Never,” said Eleora.

“We used to see them all the time,” said Tellias.

“We’d do anything for them,” said Eleora.

“Anything,” said Tellias. “Now they don’t need us.”

“We’re just old,” said Eleora.

“We’re obsolete, like a couple of old cars,” said Tellias.

“A couple of old junkers,” said Eleora.

“Like so much trash to be forgotten,” said Tellias.

“Forgotten by everyone,” said Eleora.

“Do you know where I put my keys?” asked Tellias as he checked his empty pockets.

“I love the both of you more than you can ever imagine,” I said.

They both hugged me. Clara joined in. They said they knew we loved them. I can’t answer to the actions of others and what they do, or who they do it with.

Clara and I stayed another hour then we drove home in silence, just listening to the radio.

Summer is here. Check on those who are frail or alone. Make sure they are cool. Make sure they have food. Make sure they have hugs and a little conversation. Make sure they don’t feel obsolete.

The weekend is here. We’ll go out and partake in what Vampires partake in, but even we want to know that someone cares. We want to know that we’re not forgotten like old headstones in an abandoned graveyard. Warm blooded regular people need that too. So don’t forget. It is easy to put someone who isn’t shiny and new from your mind. You’re busy. But don’t forget. Don’t forget.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman