Even Vampires Get the Blues

Family lore said he left the battle fields of the war between the states and ran California to seek his fortune. There he died in a mine explosion. But he really went to Patagonia where he met a strange man with the voice of an angel. From there he met a man with the voice of an angel who hired him to go to London to hunt Vampires. And that is exactly what he did before he was murdered by a whore who said she did it for love. His niece ended up with all the gold and didn’t tell anyone.

 

I have the house to myself today and I was trying to pound out a blog post or maybe a story about the California Gold Rush, when my brother Andrew staggered down the stairs. Not quite alone. Andy had bad days, weeks, months… He tries to get in a good place by not spending too much time alone.

I give him coffee. He sits across the table from me. I can tell he is feeling numb and helpless. This extraordinarily gifted being feels this way for no reason – it just comes on like a wave, or so he describes it.

“I’d take drugs for this if I could but they don’t work for us,” he told me.

“I know sweetie,” I told my older brother. All four of my brothers are older. Andy is the second in line.

He is good at hiding it and dealing with it and avoiding it and trying not to acknowledge it. He doesn’t let it define him. But it is hard sometimes.

Andy had inspired a lot of my stories. This includes the popular stories Morning at the Vineyard  and Dancing on the Beach. He is a musician, a lover and gentle soul and can party like no other. He is impulsive and the most thoughtful person I’ve ever met.

When he arrived I had a list of activities. No matter how painful it was he always tried and often the flurry of action and stimulus would knock him out of it. Odd how it works.

We chatted for a while over coffee. I poured a liberal amount of blood into his (remember we’re Vampires) and told him of some fun people we’d meet later tonight… yes, we’re Vampires remember.

But no matter what you are, if you’re a little bit of human you can get the blues. Werewolves get it bad. Regular Humans get it really bad. We just need to be sensitive and help those who have it. Just telling someone to snap out of it is like telling someone with a broken arm to snap out of it.

Andy asked about my blog post, the silly stuff I was writing about hidden stories. We takes about our family, my kids, or brother Aaron’s kids, our pets, music, his work and a lot of other things. He ran his hand through his long brown hair and closed his eyes then gave a slight shake of his head, as he does sometimes.

He takes my hand. “Thanks Jewels, I’m going to be fine.”

“I know,” I tell him. He’ll be fine as long as he remembers that it isn’t him. It is something else. He told me that a long time ago.

So anyway, we have a lot to do so we’ll get on with our fun.

Hope everyone has a good weekend full of love and understanding and good coffee.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

House of the Spirits – Casa de los espiritus

House of the Spirits – Casa de los espiritus

They called the farmhouse casa de los espiritus, the ones who picked the fruit and helped with the orchards. House of the spirits.

The original house is gone, replaced in 1884 with a lavish 5,400 square foot Queen Anne style Victorian. The spirits are still there in the form of Tellias and Eleora the very ones who had the home built. Yes, they’re still there because they are Vampires.

Over the years the house has seen friends come and go but the owners stay the same, never aging a day. During the day the house is still but at night the spirits come to life with both darkness and in light. One can go by the darkened old house and hear laughing coming from within. Memories fade except of the faces of youth that never grows old.

On rare occasions we might see ghosts in the orchards or down by the river banks, but they’re never in the house.

Gone are the days of lavish parties but those days might come again.

I kicked back on the veranda with my brother Val recently one moonless night.

“So I guess we’re the spirits,” he said.

“Pretty much,” I replied. Nothing more needed to be said. It was one of those slow nights where we didn’t feel like going out. We’d both had lunch dates so there wasn’t any urgency to go out.

We didn’t play remember when that night. You know, the old game where you sit with an old friend or sibling and remember the most extreme situations you’ve ever been in. Remember when you found the crocodile under your bed, remember when that crazy rogue Vampire tried to tear your head off, remember when you fell off the bridge, remember when the hounds chased us across the field, remember when we were trapped in a crypt, trapped in a burning barn, trapped in a light house, trapped in a sinking ship, trapped with a politician in a rowboat in the middle of a swamp in Louisiana, hidden in a closet, running down the beach with a giant torch, hidden in a church, trapped in a relationship? It could go on forever. But that night we didn’t play that game. OK we did but later. We always play that game.

Bob, the neighbor stopped by. We didn’t play remember when with him either. Bob is 62 and dealing with his 85 year old mother (who has ideas of her own on how Bob should live his life.) I suddenly thought how odd it must be for Bob to be here speaking with a couple of Vampires. He has known us all his life. His family has known us (our family and our kind) since the 1850’s.

Casa de los espíritus applies more to Bob than to us. Forty years ago he fell in love with a woman who never aged. Of course her heart belongs to another forever, but he never give up hope. For him there is that ghost of a chance… always the chance, or so I speculate.

The spirits haunt those with the least time. They haunt those who think the most of what could have been.

For those of us who think of what can be the spirits are quiet.

Earlier we heard someone playing the old wind up gramophone Radio Franks Old Maid’s Ball. Now they were all in dancing to Enrique Iglesias singing Bailando.

Val and I laughed and danced along. Why not. Everyone needs to dance, even Vampires in the dark of the night. Taking Bob by the hands we all went inside to join the party.

Tonight the spirit was that of friendship and fun. No haunting scary monsters. That is for another post, I promise.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Conversations on Trout and Life with Vampires

Conversations on Trout and Life with Vampires

One morning in August of 2015 morning Garrett (then age 19) and I stopped by to see Great Great Great Grandmama Lola. Even as Vampires go she is old (born the same year as Geoffrey Chaucer), but she looks all of twenty-six.

In her living room was a large fish tank. Garrett immediately went over to check it out. “When did you get this Grams?”

“Last week. I caught the fish myself. Aren’t they lovely.”

In the tank were two rainbow trout, fresh from the river. I could have given her flack about catching wild fish but I didn’t. It would have been a waste of my breath.

Garrett held out his arm and an African Gray parrot landed on his wrist. Lola claims the parrot is over 200 years old but I never know what to think. She has had the bird for over 80 years so she could very well be right. But then I never know with Lola.

I noticed a pair of boots on the floor, tucked halfway under the coffee table.

“Company?” I asked.

“Upstairs sleeping. He’ll sleep for the rest of the day so you don’t have to worry about any awkward moments.”

“So he is just a Regular Human and not a Vampire?”

“Of course,” said Lola. “He works nights for the Highway Patrol. I think it was the boots that did it for me, well that and everything after he took the boots off. Anyway, I’ve made sure he won’t wake up for another six hours at least.”

Then she looked at me and smiled. “Remember the time, when we sat on the wall on the boardwalk watching the ocean and smoking cigarettes for hours. There must have been a thousand shooting stars that night. Then we went dancing with the two brothers from San Francisco.  I could taste the whiskey in their blood. Oh God, I can smell the salt air thinking about it. Do you remember? They were so funny. We couldn’t stop laughing.”

“They both died in the trenches,” I said.

“Trenches? World War One?” Garret asked.

“Yes,” said Lola. “You’ll learn that…” she paused. Then she twisted her long curls into a knot on top of her head, then took a deep breath. “I know you’ve thought about this Garrett. Over the years you’ll meet a lot of people and you won’t forget any of them. Some will go to the back of your mind of course. But what I’m trying to say is you need to respect the memories of those you come across and respect their lives. Respect those you entertain for blood, as well as those you entertain for company. They are more than prey. Respect that.”

“I do respect them. Believe me Grams, I do.”

“Good,” said Lola. “You’ve raised him right Juliette.”

On the way home I thought about those young men, Albert and Hubert. Al and Bert. I thought that war would be the last. We all had that sort of wishful stupid thinking. But no such luck. People are still as stupid and evil as ever. Thank God I was born a Vampire.

Garrett said he wanted to invite Lola down to see him at college. I thought it was a good idea. It is always nice when grandparents visit their college aged grand children, even is the grandparent looks more like a sister.

Lola still suffers from nightmares of things that happened long ago. She has shakes from bouts with Vampire Hunters and scars that have never quiet healed on her body and spirit. She won’t admit it. She lies and says she is alright. I have to admit that we all do that to some extent.

So I excuse her for keeping trout in her living room, and a parrot who sings dirty songs in French and Italian. I excuse her for having men with six pack abs in her bed sleeping off blood loss from the night before. I really don’t need to excuse her, because I accept her. There isn’t anything wrong with her.

I find myself wondering if the mom in me has made me think in ways that are too prim and proper for my own good.

A few days  later I was laughing at this (look below at the funny from Classical Art Memes.)

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And my daughter (then 16) said, “Most parents would have no idea what this means, and you’re laughing out loud at it. That is what makes you the cool mom.”

I don’t always feel cool, but I can out hip any hipster. What was that song? Make “Em Laugh. You know, Donald O’Connor. Look it up on YouTube. I can Make Em’ Laugh. And I can out hip. Yes I can and without looking stupid. Vampires invented hip.

I doubt if my grandkids (when I have them in the far future) will find a 32-year-old CHP officer in my bed, but I’ll be relevant. I’ll be more than relevant. Even now my kids aren’t embarrassed to be with me. Granted we’re Vampires, but teens are teens. Holy crap, I wouldn’t want to be a Werewolf parent. Their kids are weird.

So anyway, just keep laughing, and loving, and don’t bring wild game home, or CHP officers if you can help it (I don’t care how good looking he is.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Lola

Lola

Empty Nest

At the end of my street is a bald eagle nest. The babies hatched this spring have learned to fly a few weeks ago and have now left the nest. We might see them around occasionally during the rest of the summer, but they’re more or less gone. This is the third year we’ve had eagle babies. This is the third year we’ve gone out to the nest and watched new hatchlings grow and leave mom and dad.

The nest is now empty.

Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of grief and loneliness parents may feel when their children leave home for the first time, such as to live on their own or to attend a college or university. It is not a clinical condition.

My daughter just turned twenty. She’ll be moving out in September to attend a prestigious university on the coast of Southern California. I am over the moon proud of her.

I have kept a safe and sound nest for my birdies. They have learned how to fly.

I’ve prepared my children to be adults. They have far exceeded my expectations. I am so proud. I think I said that already, but I am. I always will be.

I prepared my chicks but I didn’t think that I’d be so unprepared.

It isn’t as if I’m unprepared. It isn’t as if I don’t have anything to do. It isn’t as if I don’t have a dog who needs ALL of my attention, elders to take care of (that is another story that breaks my heart), cats to heard, and a husband who is going through his own transitions.

It has been years since I have felt my heart breaking like this. I had no idea.

Yet, I am filled with joy and excitement because my kids are adults and they’re going to make all kinds of awful mistakes, and have wonderful adventures, and be amazing, and successful, and they’ll change the world for the better. I know for a fact that they’ll change the world for the better. When I think about that I am less likely to start crying.

When you have a baby you know that in 18 or 20 years that… your baby will be an adult.

But you know what? Your babies will always be your babies.

Having kids is the best thing, the hardest thing, and the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do. At least it has been like that for me.

I finally found something I was good at. REALLY good at. Better than most at. The BEST at. And now I have to do something else that I can be the best at.

Just between us I’ll still be the best mom ever.

And if you’re reading this you can still be the best mom, or dad, ever too.

Just keep saying to yourself, “Don’t panic. They all grow up.”

You’ll be OK.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Charged Technology, and The Ancient Folks We Love

“Juliette, I am so glad to see you. Were you in the neighborhood?” Tellias took my face in his cool white hands and kissed my forehead.

“No,” I said. “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for three days. Your phones go straight to voice mail. You never check your voice mail. You never check to see if your phones are charged. I was worried about you.”

Tellias said nothing about the phones, took my hand, and said, “Let’s go see Eleora. She’ll be glad to see you. She fell in a drainage ditch out in the pear orchard yesterday. I had to call John next door to come help me get her out.”

“Why didn’t you call me?”

Tellias gave me that annoyed look one gives children with annoying questions. “We got her out.”

He stood in front of me, his blue eyes looking brighter than usual, his white blonde hair hanging to his shoulders. Today he wore a Hawaiian shirt with big blue hibiscus flowers, and ancient worn out orange plaid Bermuda shorts, and his yellow flip flops.

Tellias and Eleora are old. They’re ancient old. Tellias is well over 2,000 and nobody really knows how old Eleora is. They looks as if they’re about twenty years old, but act like they’re in their nineties. For readers new here, I must explain that they’re Vampires. We all are. I’m the one who checks in on them, just as many of you check in on your elderly, or other family members with special needs and concerns.

Tellias and Eleora live on a farm along the Sacramento River, an hour drive from my home. I grew up running through their orchards, then new, and going to lavish parties at their home. The first house burned down, and was replaced with a lavish Queen Anne style Victorian mansion. But that is neither here nor there right now. They won’t plug charge their phones.

In fact when I saw Eleora, lounging on a couch, in a polka dotted white and navy sun dress, with a pink pilled up sweater over it, she looked at me with sad eyes. Did she mention her fall? No.

She asked me, “Why don’t your brothers or your parents ever call me?”

“Because your phone is never charged and you don’t check your messages, and you don’t even use email anymore,” I said, trying to keep from yelling. “What were you doing out in the pear orchard, by the drainage ditch?”

“I was checking to see if there were any bums out there. They used to camp out there during the depression and they’re still camping along the river. Homeless.”

“What if you had found someone? What if they’d hurt you?” I asked.

“I’m a Vampire Juliette. I would have eaten them and torn their heads off.” Then she and Tellias laughed and then he took her hand and they danced around the room.

“She would have eaten them,” said Tellias.

“Every one of them,” said Eleora.

“Every one of them,” said Tellias.

“And torn their heads off,” said Eleora.

“She found a rake I’d lost about thirty years ago,” said Tellias.

“I told you I’d find it,” said Eleora.

“Glad you did,” I said. I really was. Eleora had been asking about the rake for the past thirty years, non-stop.

“It was rusted out,” said Eleora.

“I figured as much,” I said.

“Rusted out,” said Eleora.

“Has anyone seen my truck keys?” Asked Tellias.

“They’re hanging on the hook in the hallway,” I said.

“Oh. I swore I’d lost them,” said Tellias.

“Swore he’d lost them,” said Eleora.

“Lost them,” said Tellias.

I turned to see both of my kids, and my son’s best friend Randy, standing in the doorway with boxes from the car.

Tellias and Eleora ran over to Clara, Garrett and, Randy covering their faces with kisses and hugging them.

“She found the rake,” I said.

“Oh good,” said Garrett, trying not to laugh.

We fixed iced tea, and cold blood over ice garnished with mint and sage leaves. Eleora showed off her quickly healing bruises and scratches.

Their neighbor John, a handsome man in his 60’s stopped by to say hello and fill in the blanks to the ditch story.

“You should have called me,” I told John.

Of course John said he’d call me next time. There have been dozens of next times he has promised to call me about but never followed through on.

Randy, who as usual, was wearing a vintage shirt from the 70’s with a panoramic scene across the front and back. He and Tellias talked fashion, or whatever it is they think they’re wearing. The more heinous the better is the rule with them. Randy is only twenty three so dressing like a mismatched old man looks cool on him. Sometimes I half expect to see him in sandals and dress socks, or worse red socks and sandals.

Almost twenty year old Clara sat with Eleora and held her hand as they talked about Clara’s transfer to the big university in Southern California that will happen in September.

Garrett and John helped me unpack bottles of Poet’s blood, cans of cat food (for the cat, not for the elders) and various other things I brought over. Tellias, who does most of the shopping often forgets to get things like cat food, and soap, and basic things we all need. When the elders want food they’ve taken to calling deliver services for food (Fill in the blanks. Nice warm blooded folks come to the door…) I have already told them not to call 911 to deliver handsome young sheriff officers for dinner.

I have to tell the elders not to do a lot of things. They never listen to me. Heads are nodded. I love you is said over and over. They smile with a coy hint of fang.

Eleora told Clara and me three more times that my brothers and parents never call her.

Before we left I checked the phone cords and made sure the chargers were put in outlets that hadn’t been switched off. I made sure everything was plugged in all the way and charging.

I reminded Tellias where his truck keys were, and where the other car keys were. I also reminded him to write down a list when he went out, and to even write down where he was going so he wouldn’t forget and drive half way to Timbuktu before he realized he was going to the hardware store for nails or a sprinkler part.

As we drove away, the three young adults and I, we waved to the elders, John, and the cat who all stood on the grand front porch of the beautiful Victorian home.

I was glad everyone was more or less alright, but couldn’t help but feel a little sad, and a little depressed. I always feel a little sad and a little depressed when I leave them. I feel the same way when I leave my house to go there. I feel that way whenever I think about them.

I can’t help it. I guess that is what happens when you love someone so much.

In a day or two I’ll call back. I know the phones won’t be charged. I’ll text John who will tell me he’ll check on it for me, but I know he’ll go over there and they’ll tell him their phones are charged. John will believe them and go home.

One more thought before I go. Summer is here. If you know someone who is elderly or needs extra help, make sure they have their air conditioning on when days reach triple digits. Make sure they’re ok, even if you have to drive that extra five or ten, or twenty miles when they don’t answer their phones. Tell them that you love them. Hold their hands and listen to them repeat the same stories over and over.

Be there.

Because they might be gone one day, even if they’re Vampires.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

When in doubt wear a dress

“I’m not going to crawl under a building again. It is going to be a hundred degrees out today. That is bad enough if you’re a regular person but we’re Vampires. Remember? Aaron?”

I have four siblings – all male. I am the youngest of the brood. Aaron is smack in the middle.

When I arrived at his downtown law office I was greeted by Aaron and our brother Val (short for Valentine). Val is between Aaron and me. I’d brought my daughter Clara with me.

“Wear a dress,” I told her.

“Why?”, she had to ask. They always have to ask.

“So your Uncle Aaron won’t ask you to do anything. So he won’t ask you to crawl under a building or into an attic crawl space, or between a wall or into a sewer. You know how he is.”

When we were small, young Vampires in the American West, my brother’s had great fun sending their tiny little sister into small spaces. Be it a hole in a tree or a hole in the side of a building, in I’d go.

Consequently we ended up knowing everything about everyone in the growing city in which we lived. We also knew where all the creepers were, and we had a lot of scary fun tormenting them.

The Creepers, as we called them, were a type of, or more of a Vampire of a certain culture (not ours.) Shadow Creepers were Vampires who were content being ghouls who lurk in the shadows and get all overly happy about finding blood. They’re like those socially awkward kids or the intense annoying kids my daughter goes to school with. They aren’t what we call Modern Vampires. They’re disgusting.

And since they tended to be nasty but awkward we took it upon ourselves to annoy them.

While we slept in real houses and in real beds, the Shadow Creepers tended to search out basements, attics, crypts and holes in the riverbank or in the bottom of ;rage paddle boats. We’d search them out and start our childish torments.

One of our favorite activities would be to go into their lairs and make loud sucking noises. Shadow Creepers have such disgusting eating habits. When they’d wake we’d hiss and scream at them. Of course we’d do other things to them. Mean things. Then again, we knew most of them didn’t even have souls. Plus they’re the ones, in our opinion, who give Vampires a bad name.

Even now the few who remain hate us with a passion. Oh well. They could change, and some of them have, but most of them choose to be nasty horrible beings.

Oh, I forgot, and the absolutely worst is running into a Creeper I used to know back in another century. Ugh. Talk about uncomfortable.

Which takes us to present day when one of them shows up occasionally after being found asleep or awakened from a hundred year sleep.

Over the past few years I’ve been asked to go check them out. Aaron is an attorney so for some reason people come to him when they find these unsavory creatures.

I end up covered with dirt and in the face of some dried up husk of an animated corpse of a Vampire. No self-respecting Vampire would ever ever end up like that on purpose. Plus they always act like it is still the nineteenth century. Wake up assholes, that isn’t cute anymore. It doesn’t make you look smart or mysterious. It just makes you look stupid and creepy.

It is always an unpleasant experience finding Shadow Creepers and I’d just rather call a Vampire Hunter to take them out. You know, like when you call someone to get rid of the wasp next under your front porch.

My brothers were both in a good mood. They just wanted to go for lunch and to the art museum. Thank goodness. It was a lovely diversion. The dresses worked out just fine.

Wishing you all a week of pleasant diversions and remember your sun screen.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted here in June 2015