Urgent Emergency…but everything is alright…all things considering…because, you know, we’re Vampires.

Pandemic. Protests. Election. Fires. More fires. More smoke. Online school. Online work. My computer is off kilter and hardly working. My not so smart phone is also broken and limping along. Then yesterday I fell and smashed my nose, which thankfully isn’t broken, but I feel like I’ve been in a bar fight or maybe hit be a baseball bat.

Other than that things are pretty good.

We just returned from five days in Aptos, California, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It was wonderful and cool. While fires burned around us we were safe. Now that we are home the sky is still hazy and it is hot as hell but we’re safe.

The dry Oak Forest near my home where I walk my dog.

I have an ear worm. It is an ear worm with the wrong lyrics but I can never hear it with the correct lyrics.

You play tricks on my mind
Your underwear is so hard to find

That would be “Urgent” … the song by Foreigner. You know it.

My great great great great grandmama Lola is by for a few days. After social distancing with her current younger Vampire lover she decided he was too stupid to keep company with and has stopped by my house for a few days.

At six hundred and seventy six years Lola looks all of twenty six years give or take a few.

“So what happened with Frank?” I asked.

Lola stretched out her long legs and kicked off her sandals. “He is a picky eater. That is horribly unattractive in a warm blooded man, but in a Vampire man, and now during these times, it is downright stupid. You know how I hate stupid men.”

“Picky. Like what?”

She scowled. “He said he would only drink the blood of dark haired women with blue eyes who were virgins. I called him a disgusting sexist homophobe creeper. I should have known he was weird when he kept going out and coming back hungry. I told him that if he starved to death it would be fine with me. When I wouldn’t let him touch me anymore he admitted he would feed from other sources, but by then I was done with him. I should have known, but he was handsome and seemed like a lot of fun at first. The tip off should have been his fondness of some night elf girl on that World of Warcraft game. I thought someone who was two hundred and twelve who’d been a Vampire for the past hundred and ninety years would be a little more mature.”

“Yuck,” I said and sat down on the couch next to her. “Do you want to watch a movie?”

She smiled, then jumped up to find my husband and my brother Val.

We saw First Cow. It was a sweet movie and a quiet movie. You’re wrong if you think Vampires sit around watching horror and slasher movies.

Lola and my brother share a three bedroom cottage out in the country near the river delta, on the property belonging to Eleora and Tellias. Sometimes they stay there, sometimes in Lola’s house in San Francisco, and sometimes in Val’s house in Sacramento. I can’t always keep track. They watch out for each other. That means one less person I have to watch out after… but I still do watch out after them.

So that’s what we’re up to. I have to mention that when we got home our animals (a dog and two cats) went nuts and are still attached to us like leaches. It is good to be loved.

All this and I didn’t even mention politics. Nope. I’m not going there today.

From Scott Metzger, one of my absolute favorite cartoonists

Oh, yes, one more thing. I saw a new mural by my husband’s business. I’ll post photos of the two murals on the side of the building that houses the art gallery next door. I love them.

  • Stay safe
  • Wear a mask
  • Social Distance
  • Don’t be a dick about it
  • Check in on those who might need extra help or might be lonely
  • Talk to your kids
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • Don’t let the bullshit get to you
  • Turn off anything that has to do with politics for the next

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Aptos, CA

Thoughts on Summer Heat, Schools, and Dog Walks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Normal, or Whatever

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I’m trying to appear to be normal and appear to be a normal parent.

Considering I’m a Vampire that is always the the case, you know, appearing to be normal.

Normal: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

Of course I’m more than normal. I want to shout off of the roof tops what a proud parent I am but I don’t want to brag or sound crass. OK, I DO want to brag in a big way.

So often we hear the tern the new normal. What does that even mean? Or worse we hear back to normal.

How about new beginnings. Or the new better way. Or the new challenges. Or something positive. Positive might not be a word that most people expect from Vampires but we’ve survived thousands of years because we’re positive about the future. We look back on the past but there is too much to dwell upon. Looking upon the future is what keeps us fresh and young. It isn’t just all about blood you know.

We also live with a certain amount of fear which is good and bad. It is usually bad.

When I started this blog in 2012 my son Garret was in high school. He was playing his guitar, flirting with girls, painting pictures, writing poems, and being a normal Vampire teen. Now he is grown, finished with college, starting a career and thinking about getting his own place.

After living with his best friend Randy through college and grad school he is now ready to be completely on his own. Randy will still be in the picture but an hour away with his own job and interesting (to say the least) relationships.

While I am still adjusting to having an empty nest, Garret will be getting his own first nest.

His sister Clara, now at almost 21 and completely the adult of the family, is going to go looking for places with Garret. They’ll be living closer together, something they look forward to.

I don’t need to warn them about the dangers of not being careful as in who they let into their homes, or share their secrets with. They’re fully aware of keeping their night life separate from their day life, so to speak.

Some things never change. Some things change continuously.

Our goal should be to not let any of it throw us off and keep a balance. Right now, in this strange year, it is easy to be thrown off. Yet, at home it is easy to keep things the same.

Dogs still wait at the door for their owners to return. Children still need to go out on their own. Sometimes they need to come back, then out again. Sort of like cats.

So that’s all. I’m just thinking out loud today and avoiding a painting project, and staying out of the summer heat. I got the car smog checked, did some research, made some calls, and payed bills. Yes, Vampires need to do those things as well.

As for normal…

Try not to be too normal. While normal is easy, it isn’t always the most interesting thing to do. It is safe, but not always.

Things are still going to go bump in the night. Then again that might not always be a bad thing.

And if you need something to read remember that the newest WPaD Anthology Goin’ Extinct Too! Apocalypse A Go-Go is now available in digital format. The paperback will be available in July 2020.

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  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Talk to your kids.
  • Hug your dogs and cats.
  • Don’t yell at your significant other too much. They’re getting tired of all of this too.

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This is where I’d rather be RIGHT NOW.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Stop just for a moment

Children are sensitive souls, even when they are almost grown.

When parents are sorting through their own issues, their teens are stoic for the most part. They turn it all inside. That is when we (parents) need to buck it up and watch and listen.

They need us almost more now than when they were toddlers.

The same goes with marriage. By the time kids are teens life is so crazy and complicated and emotionally turned upside down.

We are all so busy and stressed that it just gets overwhelming.

I always say TALK WITH YOUR KIDS. I still say that. But today I have another chant for you. Talk with your spouse/partner. Talk to the other parent in the house. This is assuming the other parent is in the house. If he or she is make the time for them, as well as for the kids.

I know you know this. We just need reminders.

Yesterday my brother Aaron stopped by. Aaron and I are the only married siblings of my parent’s brood of five. He was happy that his young adult children were home for a few weeks, but they were off in their own world. His wife Verity was either with the children or working on a thousand things that had nothing to do with him.

I thought about my own household where we were all coming and going at 3,000 mph.

Stop. Talk. Hug. Say I love you.

“Maybe we’re meant to be solitary creatures,” said my brother.

“We all need our time alone. Is everything ok?” I asked.

“Sure. I’m around my family but they’re not really there.”

We talked more. They ARE there but everyone just gets so tied up in everything but each other.

Sometimes both Aaron and I feel alone, yet we know we are both part of something extraordinarily special and amazing. We have spouses and children who are there for us no matter what, and we are there for them. In turn, we are siblings who are so different, yet we are always here for each other.

I get lost in my own thoughts and issues and forget everyone around me. I become like a shadow. I become invisible. Sure, we’re Vampires so we should be invisible for the most part, but not when it comes to those we love. Nor should we make anyone feel invisible.

So your assignment for today: Love and show it. Your heart might not be beating but it doesn’t mean you can’t make someone feel they are valued and needed.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

sunset heart

First published here June 2015

Reading and Writing: A Good Story

Let’s talk about reading and writing.

My sister-in-law Verity recently threw a stack of books into the recycle bin. That is a habit she got from me. If a book is too stupid/bad/boring/offensive to finish then why risk someone else wasting their time on it? Just throw it out.

Her reason for the latest toss out was, “I hate it when favorite male authors get old and decide to write sexist drivel about older men with hot young things, or two guys in competition over the same hot young thing. What is up with these authors? They used to write the best books.”

We talked some more and decided that this is not the rule. Most male of our favorite authors we read are on their mark. They still write witty characters, and if anything else their female characters have become more realistic, believable, and entertaining.

Another thing we decided gets a book into the recycle bin is when authors (usually female) start writing about either weak female characters who are always victims, or characters who are so snarky towards the poor smitten male characters that we’re shaking our heads and thinking what the hell is wrong with these people?

Books, like real life, should be populated with a variety of characters. With so many variations and personalities why depend on cliches?

I see that a lot, cliches, in online writing groups. Those who want to be writers ask questions about such things. They often don’t realize that they just need to write in their own voice, or the voice of their characters. They struggle with trying to describe something on paper, when all they really need to do is open their mouths, say the words out loud as if telling a friend, then write THAT down.

The same goes for writing dialogue. Be natural. Be real. Listen to how people talk to each other in real life. An author should be like an actor and get into the character, and even become the character they are writing about.

I had to admit to Verity that I am not the best at editing, but sometimes I can tell a good story. I’ve also read thousands of books over the years. I love a good story. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate my favorite authors (both indie and mainstream) who can write a good story.

What I love about bloggers is that they tell good stories. Bloggers write like they talk, and boy do they talk. Blogs are usually so spontaneous. It makes me happy, even when the subject matter is deep and depressing. I’m happy because it is fluid, entertaining, and as if I’m right there with the blogger. It is that intimate voice that I love so much. There is also the interaction with the readers that is so rewarding as well.

My advice to people who’d like to dip their big toes into writing and see how it feels is to blog first. Why? It is good practice. You can write whatever you want. It is totally yours. You can try things out. You don’t have to worry about rejection. Blogging has a built in community – believe me, you’ll find it, or it will find you.

Verity went through a bag of books I brought her and found something new to read. I gave her recommendations for books to download too. She’ll find something she likes. There are so many good books. As much as we all complain about everything it is nice to know that we live in a world with so many wonderful story tellers.

And speaking of wonderful story tellers… I can’t go without saying something about the new anthology from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) Goin’ Extinct Too! Apocalypse A-Go-Go. Nineteen authors share their stories, essays, poetry, and visions of a sometimes grim, and sometimes hopeful future. You decide, and if you like it leave a nice review.

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What are your pet peeves about books, story lines, and characters?

What do you like the best about your favorite books or types of books?

What makes you dump a book into the recycle bin?

What makes you keep a book and want to read it again?

Any other thoughts on the subject?

Did your cat do anything cute today?

Let me know. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Social Distance. Read a book. Stay safe.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Coveting (or my husband builds a deck)

With the help of a friend my husband is rebuilding our deck. From the house I can hear both cursing and singing. Today our friend is off on an excursion and so Teddy is by himself.

From the window I can see faint outlines of solemn faces watching him work. They wore themselves out during the gold rush and longed for sleep. Now they long for the ability to lift large pieces of lumber and use power tools. Their sad eyes show how they covet a physical body and electricity they never knew during their own mortal lives.

They also look at my husband in distain because he was born in 1849 during his parent’s journey to California. Ghosts are jealous of the living, but even more so of Vampires who often have their bodies for a long long time after most of the ghosts are long forgotten.

So while I’m working on a novel, thinking about new cushions for the deck chairs, and trying to keep the dog, who must stay inside entertained, the ghosts silently watch my husband and wish they had power drills, precut lumber, and cargo shorts.

I know some of them are buried in the small cemetery across the river. They came from far away places – some as far as Ireland. Most of them died before their 45th birthdays. They aren’t the grizzled old miners from the movies, but young vibrant men following a dream. They went to see the elephant and never returned.

From my window I wave at the ghosts and try to shoo them away. Their faces turn towards me all at once in a slow steady motion. I roll my eyes at their drama. They are not amused but they dare not haunt a house full of Vampires. They dare not haunt me, because even though my children are now grown I am still THE MOM.

There are also other ghosts about. I expected to see Nigel, The Ghost, but he as been keeping to himself. Maybe he is tired of insulting me or just ran out of things to say.

Today it cooled off to the 80’s. There is wind and clouds in the sky. I can see fire in the distance, but it looks more like a brush fire than a forest fire or buildings. Wild turkeys walk along the fence with their quail sized babies following along. A deer ran across the field and into the oak forest.  I doubt if the ghosts care. Their eyes are on Teddy building the deck.

Anyway, that is all for today. Nothing else. No moral. No twist.

  • Wash your hands.
  • Wear your mask.
  • Talk to your kids.
  • Check in on your elders.
  • Don’t let the ghosts haunt you. They won’t take your tools.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Juliette’s House