A Vampire Muses About Natural Disasters, 2020, Halloween, and New Discoveries. YES there is fun to be had in 2020.

What we’re talking about today.

I just found out about a tsunami warning issued following 7.5 magnitude earthquake off Alaska Peninsula today.

Along with living in fire country, I also live in earthquake country. I’m not so close that if the Big One hits San Francisco or Los Angeles I’ll be in any danger. If a big one hits San Francisco I will be able to feel it.

The tsunami warning signs at the coast are lovely graphics but they are a reminder that it can, and will, happen again. We don’t know when or exactly when but it will.

Almost everyone around where I live has a story about either the 1906 or 1986 San Francisco earthquakes, or ones in Northridge, San Fernando, and Long Beach, or Humboldt and Santa Cruz Counties.

Which brings us back to everything else in 2020…

Weird stuff always happens to me so I’m doing ok during all of the current weirdness. October usually brings it on for me with general death and distruction, but any month works for stupid shit and unusual nobody wants to deal with.

On the other hand October is usually the best month of the year. First of all it cools off. It isn’t cooling off this year. But hey, my kids are coming up to visit. Woo Hoo.

I don’t know if the leaves will even change this year or just stay green and everything will evolve into evergreens. At least the migrating birds are migrating and sticking to schedule.

Fire season isn’t over yet. I watch the skies and the dry grass and trees hoping that nothing around me, or anyone else will catch fire. We’re tired of fires. We’re tired of the BS that surrounds them with the lack of fire cruse or aid for those in the way of fires, and PG&E bull shit. Why the hell are all of the power lines still above ground? It know it is expensive to bury them but isn’t it more expensive to have the entire Western United States burn down every single summer and fall?

Alice my dog and I go on long hot dry walks. We’d like it to cool down.

There are two weeks left until the election. I don’t suspect that all of the political weirdness will end because no matter what the results there will be… let’s just hope whatever the reaction is to the outcome that it doesn’t rival a Stephen King novel.

I’m still not sure if I’ll carve the pumpkins on my front porch. If I do I might as well pull out my magic witch hat and dress up the dog. The kids will be here for Halloween too so no matter what it will be fun. Vampires always find ways to have fun.

What else is new.

My daughter sent me this video. I laughed and almost cried.

I also discovered Owlkitty this week. I love Owlkitty.

The Crocker Art Museum will now be open four days a week. I am so jazzed. I’ve made reservations for my birthday.

I’m just thinking out loud. What are you thinking about and talking about?

No matter what wear a mask, stay safe, talk to your kids, hug your cats and dogs or whatever critters you call family, don’t be a dick, be kind, and as always kiss a Vampire. xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Raised but not out of the crypt yet…

Raised but not out of the crypt yet…

For the first eighteen years parenting is all consuming. Even if you’re not one of those helicopter parents, your job as a parent 24/7.

Then it happens. All your hard work pays off. You’ve raised responsible, well balanced, and lovely young adults.

Now what?

I’m still active but not hovering.

I’m still giving out advice.

I’m trying to be positive.

I’m still teaching them.

And I’m still learning from them.

An old friend recently asked me if I’d talked to my kids about drugs, sex, and other adult trouble. Of course. I started young on those talks. There is no reason to be shy about it. Would you be shy about the dangers of fire or picking up rattle snakes? Of course not, so there is no need to be shy about other potentially dangerous activities.

Excuse me… something just hit the window. I thought it was a bird, then I saw a ghost standing in my backyard flipping me off.

I hate ghosts.

But does he stay outside? No of course not. With a slight hint of sulphur and lavender he materialized next to me, then pulled up a chair and sat. He wore a black suit, white shirt, black tie, with black 80’s Bon Jovi hair. He was as every bit good looking, maybe even more than Jon Bon Jovi, but I didn’t want him in my breakfast nook.

“What are you doing here Nigel? Ghosts haunt people at night, not mid-morning,” I said to him.

“You’re a Vampire so it is only fitting that I haunt you during the day. What bug crawled up your cold ass,” he said without even a hint of a smile.

I tried to ignore him. He flipped my computer around.

“Stop it,” I said pulling it back.

“So how are you doing in this heat wave? Has your body temperature reached 70 yet?”

“Go away.”

“No. I want to talk about your Vampire spawn. They’re all grown up. What are you doing? Getting all empty nest weepy?”

“Shut up Nigel. You never had kids.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes I do.”

He sat for a few seconds and pouted, then he stood up and walked around for a bit, then came back to me.

“I was young once. I even died young,” said Nigel The Ghost. “My 40th high school reunion is in a few weeks. I’ve been checking in on the reunion meetings. My middle-aged classmates have no idea I’m there but I am. I didn’t even make it to my ten-year reunion. Holy shit. The thing is, Juliette, is that I’ll be young forever, or at least I’ll appear young, when I choose to appear. The only photographs of me are when I was young. But I come by my eternal youth honestly. I died young. You on the other hand are young because of your parasitic nature as a Vampire. Ever think is that? You have no right to talk shit about ghosts when you suck blood out of living people in order to have eternal youth. How fucked up is that?”

“You can go now,” I said, tired of his insults.

“And now you’re all bent out of shape because your kids are leaving the crypt, and you can’t write about their perfect childhood, or your perfect child rearing advice, or your cold little perfect life, or whatever you call it. Are you alive?”

“Nigel,” I said to the ghost in a calm voice. “Don’t ever say I live in a crypt again. And get the fuck out of my house.”

“You’re beautiful when you’re angry,” he said with a mean-spirited grin. “I can imagine you with blood dripping down your chin.”

He knows I never have blood dripping down my chin.

With a flip of his glossy black hair, Nigel started to talk again. He never shuts up. “They were talking about me last night. It made me sad, and angry. You know I was murdered, and I have no idea who killed me. It could have been someone in that room. But it was taken away from me. I could have had a wife and kids. I could have… I could have had gray hair, I could have had a wedding, I could have had a dad bod, I could have sat around with my friends and talked about the good times we had, and people we lost, but they were talking about me and I couldn’t say anything because I’m dead, sure my art is still around but man, it just kills me, and I’m dead, and I will always be dead…and it just sucks. You, maybe not YOU, because you were born the dead way you are, but most Vampires have the choice to be dead. I didn’t have that choice.”

“Could they have seen you if you wanted them to?”

“No. That is the frustrating part. A few could feel a cold breath of air, or a lost memory.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Don’t be. You don’t owe me anything.”

Then he put his hand over mine. All I felt was an icy chill. Then he looked into my eyes, and in a wisp of blew smoke he vanished.

I always want to ask Nigel if he was that big of an asshole when he was alive but I never do. I have a feeling he wasn’t. Being a ghost can do that to a person.

A lot of kids are lucky enough to go through childhood without any loss, tragedy, or well, without any bad things happening. Once they turn into adults all bets are off. It seems to start with car accidents, then illness, other accidents, suicide, and even murder. Wrong roads are taken. Bad decisions are made. Bad relationships last too long. Then again, if we all look back we’ll find the good stuff is there. Sometimes it gets hidden, but it is there.   I’m not getting all Sunday School on you. The good stuff is there, even if it is the memory of laughing with old friends, a walk in the cool fall air, or finishing up the best book you ever read.

My kids are out of the crypt. Unfortunately for ghosts they never get out. Don’t be a ghost until you’re dead. Think about it. You couldn’t give better advice to your young adults.

That’s all.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Note: This was first posted in August 2017. I’m having computer issues so anything new is extremely difficult now. Wash you hands, wear a mask, hug your cat, talk to your kids, and stay out of trouble.

Vampire Maman

What we’re taking about today: Things we find stupid, frustrating, or maybe good.

Even my kids are weary of people asking Star Wars or Star Trek, or what Hogwarts house do you belong to, or anything about super heroes and their powers.

My kids were home for a while. Garrett left yesterday. Clara leaves tomorrow. They were here for three weeks.

We talk like we always have, about everything and anything. We discuss the news, but try to avoid it. They talk with me. They talk with their dad. We go for walks and talk in the car, and just hang out at home. We’re like everyone else. Maybe we talk a little bit more than everyone else.

Garrett, his friend Randy, and their other temporary roommate Alexis are all graduating from Grad School with no graduation. I plan on doing something for them all but don’t know what yet.

We’ve done drive by graduations and birthdays during the lock down for high school students.

The whole shut down has stopped Garret’s usual romantic head spinning. Seriously, his head is in the clouds when it comes to girls, but there has been a turn in my son lately. Maybe it is Randy’s more casual approach to girls. It could be strange Alexis and her tendency to just shrug off absolutely everything that is thrown her way, but always with sort of a smile and a let it roll attitude.

Garret is waiting for a new job to start. It might start in June. It might start in August. Nobody knows at this time.

Clara is still studying for finals and writing her last papers of the quarter. She is looking at internships. Her boyfriend has plans for the summer that will advance his goals. They’ll drive home in the morning.

My husband Teddy is over the top anxious about both of the kids. I keep telling him that we raised them right. Then again when Teddy was just a few years older than Garrett his entire world was turned upside down in an extremely jarring and unimaginable way. He worries about bad influences, bad directions, bad people, bad career paths. I remind him of house stupid we were at that age. Or at least I used to remind him about how stupid we were but stopped doing that this week. It didn’t seem to matter.

We’re all tense. We’ve been at home. Teddy boarded up his business and will start back later than expected. College is still online with no word of what will happen in the fall. I don’t know what is going on with my work. Everything is up in the air.

We talk about all of the issues that 2020 have brought. Any planning for the future seems strange. We try, but it still seems strange. We’ve had to put off or cancel almost everything.

We don’t talk politics. That is beyond frustrating. OK we do a little bit because it can’t be helped.

We garden. We read. We sit together. We pick out paint colors, pet the cats, walk the dog, and putter around.

The world is never a calm place but lately it seems there is little calm. So within our walls, our neighborhood, and our own souls we try to find that cam place. We do yoga. We laugh at stupid jokes. We tell funny stories.

No matter what our kids are growing up to be their own people with their own lives.

It seems odd that when I started this blog that they were in middle school and high school. We talked about middle school issues, summer camp, school shootings, and dress codes.

Now we talk about the environment, human rights, and the state of the laundry rooms at their apartment complexes. They talk about beach closures, park closures, and where to get the best vintage clothes in Southern California.

My husband and I tell them to be extra careful when they go out at night. I know they will be careful, but we have to tell them anyway.

I raised my birds to fly. Now they’re soaring off in different directions and I can’t see or follow them all the time. I have my own directions to go in.

I will miss my children. My husband will miss them as well in his own way. Then we’ll miss them together as we talk about how proud we are of them. We’ll also talk about how proud we are of ourselves for doing such a fine job of raising them.

The house is quiet now, and for a rare hour I am alone. Even the cats are off sleeping in their corners, or under a bed.

I should be writing new stories, Vampire lore, or complaining about ghosts.

But I’m not. Just waiting till 4:30 when I take the dog to the pet place to get her nails trimmed. Don’t tell me to do it myself. I have a 90 pound drama queen of a German Shepard. I can’t do it.

So that’s it.

  • Stay safe.
  • Feel love.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Listen to your favorite music.
  • Call someone you love and talk.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Vampire 101: Removing Blood and Red Wine Stains (file this under ADULTING)

Now that both of my kids are out of the house I am not longer there for them when they get stains on their clothes. Dirt is easy.

I’m not going to believe the Tide Ad (The Super Bowl Ad) where the woman keeps saying “It can wait.” It kind of can’t. The faster you get something on that stain the better.

A good item to give your college bound kid (or yourself) is a laundry stain pen. Most major brands make them and they can be found in any grocery story. These handy little stain removers can easily be kept in a backpack, purse, pocket or binder.

But if you DO get a blood stain follow these follow these steps:

Don’t wait. Don’t scrub. Don’t put heat on it (heat will set the stain in forever unless you’re getting out grease and oil.)

To remove blood stains from washable fabrics.

  • Spray with a stain solution such as Simple Green or any laundry pre-treatment and wash immediately in cold water.
  • Check before you put the shirt (or other whatever is stained) in the dryer. You don’t want to set a stain in that you can still remove.
  • If any stain remains, I usually soak the hell out of it overnight with OxyClean or Goof Off spray. If you don’t want to do that then soak it in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1­/2 teaspoon dishwashing or liquid laundry detergent, and 1 tablespoon ammonia for 15 minutes.
  • For excess solid or caked-on stains, scrape off what you can, scrub gently with a soft brush or clean sponge, blotting occasionally until the stain is gone.
  • This works for most organic stains, not just blood.

To remove blood stains from leather or suede:

  • Mix a solution of mild soap in lukewarm water. Dish soap works well. You want a lot of suds.
  • Apply only the foam with a sponge and gently rub the stained area, taking care not to spread the stain. Q-tips work great for this.
  • Wipe dry with a clean soft cloth. If all else fails take it in to get it professionally cleaned.

Blood stains on Silver

It may seem romantic and daring to the younger Vampires to use silver goblets to drink blood from but DON’T DO IT. Not only is it hard to clean but it is TACKY. Use glass or ceramic. Or even a red cup is better than ruining a nice goblet. But what if your college aged child gets carried away with the moment. Wash the silver right after use. Dried blood will cause some nasty tarnish. Better yet, tell your kids NOT to use silver with blood – especially not YOUR silver. If the stains are difficult get out the polish and elbow grease and MAKE YOUR KID DO THE WORK and polish those stains out.

Red Wine

I spill red wine a lot more than I spill blood. My secret is to get Simple Green on it ASAP. If you don’t have Simple Green just put it in the wash ASAP, or in a sink with whatever dish washing liquid (like Dawn) or any organic spray cleaner, or OxyClean.

If you’ve got a red wine stained carpet and on furniture take care of it ASAP. You’re taking care of it right now, and you didn’t start scrubbing away like a mad man (or woman).

Apply a dry material that will “lift” the red wine out.

Like any liquid, red wine will move toward anything dry that it comes into contact with. Your best move right after you get a red wine stain is to grab a dry, powdery material and apply it generously on the red wine stain. These include:

Table salt
Baking soda
Sodium percarbonate, a.k.a. a granulated form of hydrogen peroxide
Dry soap powder
Talcum powder, which is used for baby powder
Clay Kitty litter

These dry materials will “pull” the red wine out of the carpet, but don’t just start rubbing them in. Remember, you never want to rub (or scrub) the stain, regardless of what you’ve applied to it. Always apply the blotting method, even when it comes to cleaning up the salt or powder.

This works on oil stains too. I have a friend who used this on her car seats (the baby powder) and it worked wonders.

Let the salt (your best option), or any other dry, powdery material you use, settle for a few minutes. In some cases, this may be enough to actually remove the stain completely, especially if you acted fast enough. Otherwise, you may need to apply additional methods.

Coffee stains

If you get water on it right away most coffee stains will come right out. Most soap will get it out too. But use the same steps as above for blood stains and don’t let it sit too long.

If you’re prone to stains I suggest getting a small Green Machine or other mini type carpet spot cleaner. You’ll thank me for it later. This is a great tool for your adult children who are renters and concerned about getting their security deposits back (and just having nice looking carpets.)

Another life hack, or Vampire hack, is to always have a spare shirt in your car or backpack. You never know when you’re going to slop something on your shirt. It is good to be prepared.

My children were fortunate to go to an elementary school where life skills were threaded through the curriculum. They learned to do laundry, cook and plan meals, money, and interior design. This wasn’t some high end private school. It was a public school (Montessori). They learned the skills, wrote about them, did math problems about them, and compared notes. I will all kids learned this stuff in school. It is fun for them and they learn how reading, writing, and math fit in with the real world. If your child doesn’t get this in school take the time to teach them. When they move out they’ll call you about things that aren’t laundry or how not to overdraw their bank and Vemo accounts.

I’ve got an empty nest now but I will text my kids, share daily dog pictures with them, and maybe even talk to them today. But one thing I won’t worry about is stain removal – ok, maybe I will. They know it but they still always ask because, well, I’m the mom.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Mamam

 

 

 

 

Empty Nest Brain Drain

Even without any children in the house I find myself in constant motion these days.

My time is like a hole in a low water table area. It is empty but fills up faster than I can dig.

There is work to do, and things to plan, and research to take care of, meeting to go to, other people to see, places to go, animals who are five times more demanding now, and I can’t even seem to think. I’ve spent more time in freeway traffic than I want to think about. On the other hand I can’t complain about the traffic – I could be living in Southern California.

I’m also in touch with my children, every single day. It could be a long conversation or a series of funny texts but I’m in touch.

And you thought Vampires just sleep all day and then rise in the night to go out and find blood. That is like saying everyone else sleeps all night then rise in the morning to find toast and coffee then go back to sleep.

It might be all about the coffee but it isn’t all about the toast or the blood.

Sorry, I’ve got major brain drain right now. Let me get more coffee, go meet with my editor, see some chickens (I’ll post photos) and get back to you, maybe this afternoon.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Seeing Beyond Yourself

When your children go out into the world there are traits they’ll need to be successful, even if they’re Vampires.

Compassion and seeing beyond your own single mindedness is something that our world lacks. It is also something our children can make up for, and make their future brighter.

You can be the smartest person in the world but if you can’t see traits and qualities in other that you don’t have then you aren’t that smart.

You can be rich but if you don’t give back then you’re morally poor.

You can think you know what you like, but if you’re closed minded you’ll never really know what you like.

As our children become adults they must move from the sheltered world of their childhood, that of high school and their parent’s home, and see beyond themselves.

Your assignment for today, as a parent, grandparent, or anyone with a young person in your life: Talk with your young person about the big wide world. Talk to them about compassion and making a difference. It is a big world, but even a small bit of compassion will go a long way and make a big difference. How have you seen beyond your world? Share that. And with any luck, your young person, in the infinite wisdom of youth will share their visions with you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman