Musings on Cats and Vampire Summers

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Oscar, pre-scar days.

I was out early this morning getting something out of my car. OK, I was looking for my purse. I thought I left it in my car last night. I didn’t. While I was outside I heard the sound of an angry cat. You know that snarling, growling, hit pitched sound from Hell that cats project when they’re really pissed off and ready for a fight.

It wasn’t one of my cats. At least it didn’t sound like either one of them. I decided to walk down the street to the mail boxes and find out where the gosh awful noise was coming from.

My cat Oscar, my sweet baby boy was standing in the front yard of my neighbor Josh. Josh lives alone. He rides his bicycle when it is 120 degrees F outside. Everybody likes Josh, but I don’t think he has a cat.

On the front porch (a favorite place of the neighborhood wild turkeys) was the largest calico cat I have ever seen. Her head was the size of a honeydew mellon. She was screaming at Oscar.

Oscar sat there and meowed with a confused little voice. Then he looked at me, then looked at the giant calico.

“Hey, Oscar,” I said. “Come on baby, let’s go home.”

As always, Oscar looks hopeful when his mom (me) is around. I’m always there to rescue him. I scooped him up.

I walked home like a crazy cat lady with Oscar under one arm, and an armful of junk mail in the other arm.

Oscar will always be like a baby, despite a notched ear and a scar across his face. He is thirteen pounds of fur and love. He is also an asshole, but he is my asshole.

This has been a long hot summer. Not all of us are handling it as well as my bike riding neighbor Josh. Then add massive wild fires to the heat and it gets really fun. If someone ever tells you “Burn in Hell Vampire,” you can tell them “FUCK YOU ASSHOLE I live in California.”

After the cat adventure I dropped off a trunk load of supplies that will go up to a fire shelter near Redding (Carr fire.)

By the time I got home my son Garrett was peeling tape off of the walls. We’re painting the insides of our home. From neutral to color. It looks great. As we’re peeling long steps of blue tape from around the windows we talked about all kinds of stuff.

Garrett will be in his fourth year of college. He is twenty-one now. No longer a child. I have kids now but I also have adults – Vampire adults.

“I hate summer necks,” said Garrett.

“It isn’t that bad,” I said.

“Oh come on mom, they’re gross. All covered in sunscreen, sweat, foundation, hair products, and body spray. The body spray is the worst. It smells great, but oh my god, the taste… How did you do it before people took showers everyday?”

“I don’t know. I guess we were used to it. You know, like cigarette smoke and rancid bacon grease.”

“That’s disgusting. I’m sticking with wrists until October.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” I told him. I didn’t mention that I go to nice adult people with indoor private offices. But I’m sticking with wrists more often than not as well.

College classes start soon for both of my kids. It already seems like fall. This morning was unusually cool and nice. On morning like that I pretend I’m living by the ocean or up in the mountains. For a myriad of reasons I’m still here, in the Sacramento Valley with the smoke and the ghosts of the 49ers and the first Vampires to settle in California.

Anyway, that is how my day went.

Hope yours went well.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Musings on Middle School, Empty Nests, Change, and Cryptozoologists

I used to write horror… I mean posts about Middle School. That seems like a long time ago. The mornings with angry mom’s before their coffee kicked in trying to get their kids out of the mini van door without death or dismemberment. There were those with hormonal rages and anger issues – and that was just the parents. The kids were going through puberty too.

After that we all blew through high school with little or no angst. Yes, parents of wee ones, don’t listen to the people who say in their best witches voices, “Just you wait until that child is in high school. You’ll hate them. They’ll hate you. They’ll be sexed up druggies and there is nothing you can do about it.” Seriously, I kid you not, people say things like that to pregnant women and women with babies. Ignore that shit storm of negativity. Ignore it. Don’t eat that poison apple. Don’t be around people like that.

Last week we were in Orange County taking yet another college tour I believe the child have found a home at UCI  (Zot! Zot! Zot!) aka University of California Irvine.

So in a year I will be living in a home without children. They will always been near. We will text. We will talk. We will send funny things over social media. They will call me and come home for holidays and just because. And I will visit them. You’ve read the blog. You know we’re close.

Aside from a childless house, I’m sure you already know, I’m going through other transitions. Major career changes have turned things in a different direction for me and it is perfect timing. So I’m kind of like an octopus with all of my arms going in different directions.

Oh, I have a joke. I made this one up. What do you call a cat who lives underwater? A quadrapuss. 

Now that I’m doing a do over I’ve made a list of ten things I need to do.

Empty Nest Transition List

  1. Change my job title on LinkedIn to Cryptozoologist.
  2. Paint with wild abandon. Note: I didn’t say whether this is my walls or art. This is a burning question and the answer is BOTH.
  3. Start a Vampire blog. Continue blogging about parenting and Vampires and everything else. I really should start a Werewolf blog or maybe help Nigel start his own blog. Yes, Nigel the Ghost. Or maybe not. 
  4. Learn advanced plumbing.
  5. Landscape my back yard.
  6. Make Vlad’s Vampire Diary into a Major Motion Picture.
  7. Win an Oscar.
  8. Write.
  9. Seek out strange new worlds.
  10. Finish. Anything. Just finish. FINISH.

What is on your list? Oh come on, we can be cryptozoologists together. It will be fun, especially if you become a Vampire too (or if you’re already one.)

My brain is empty. I’ll see you next time for Burning Question #23.

xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Vlad and Gillian Make a Movie

And while we’re here… Can you believe the guys in Journey really dressed like this. Cryptozoology.

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A conversations over coffee and musings about the lives of others (or don’t trade in your soul because you can’t get it back.)

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Coffee with Vampires and Ghosts

A conversations over coffee and musings about the lives of others.

This morning I met for coffee with my brother’s friend James.

James is one of those people I find extremely obnoxious, but we have a connections through my brother Andy and through some shared experiences. We all have friends like James.

When he isn’t just hanging out with old friends, James is a psychiatrist to some pretty well known individuals. He is good at giving people ways to find normalcy in their lives. That is their normal. Everyone has his or her own normal, they just have to find it. The same goes with inner peace and contentment. James gives his patients the tools and teaches them how to use those tools to keep healthy.

As I drove to his house, through one of the more exclusive neighborhoods in the city (East Sacramento), I passed a home I’d once been in, years ago. The house belonged to a wealthy man. I’m talking insanely wealthy. A friend of mine was his executive assistant.

I was there for a party. He was lovely and friendly. I’d met him before and he remembered me. My friend adored him. He was a good man.

Unfortunately his ex-wife, his narcissistic daughter, and his psychiatrist only saw dollar signs. They poisoned him with their demands and their bad advise. It was never about him. People who cared couldn’t get through to him. The women took and took from him, stabbing out pieces of his soul until one day he killed himself.

“There is a special place in Hell for them. No, really, Jewels, the reservations have been made,” James told me as he poured me a second cup of coffee in his well-appointed kitchen.

I believed James, because like me, he is a Vampire. He lives with one foot in death’s door at times. He knows what it is like to grab up your own soul and hold it tight. For unlike Regular Humans, Vampires can’t give away or trade our souls, but sometimes there are those who try to come up from the depths of Hell and steal them away.

“And to think,” I said, “people call us ghouls.”

“They’re such hypocrites,” said James.

We had more coffee and talked about our friends, our work and books we’d read over the summer. I looked around the beautiful kitchen. Too bad not much cooking happened in it. Most Vampires don’t cook much. We do, but not much. I don’t need to explain why.

James made a lame joke about cooking and I laughed. Then he smiled with a sexy bit of fang and said, “Let’s go upstairs and fuck.”

I smiled back. “You know I’m married.” Yes, that is the reason I don’t see much of James.

“Right, you’re married to the most handsome Vampire in the world, but come down to the dark side with me this morning. Nobody will ever know. Mix it up a little.”

“Oh James,” I said, “even if I was single I’d have to say no. It isn’t going to happen. But thank you for the coffee. It was delightful.”

“At least I can try,” he said taking my hand and kissing it.

Now I’m home, taking a break from my work, sharing my morning. I’m also wondering if anyone is mourning still for the lovely man who was driven to his death by demons who took the form of friends and family.

I look at my old dog sleeping on the cool tile by my feet. I hear a hawk outside. It is a calm space where demons are not allowed. I will not let them in.

Close the door if they knock, even if they look like someone you know.

Beware those who have already traded in their souls at the expense of others.

OK everyone, have a nice day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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I’m on the road with my handsome husband and beautiful daughter this week touring one of the colleges by the ocean in Southern California. Yes, this is the parenting part. So anyway, this is a repost from August 2015. Thanks for dropping by. I’ll tell you all about it soon.

Don’t bring me your dog… and other parenting stories.

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I grew up in a household with a lot of pets. I remember one summer when we had two wolfhounds, a medium sized black dog of questionable lineage, three cats, an eighty year old parrot, and a cage full of mice. Outside of the house were three horses. There were also five children. Four boys. One girl.

It was 1867. My brother Aaron, the middle child was the most responsible and serious of the lot. He was eleven at the time, and feeling as if he was living in the shadows of his eldest brothers. He was also tired of feeling responsible for his younger two siblings. The wolfhounds belonged (if they could belong to anyone) to our eldest brother Max. The black dog was the family dog. The three cats belonged to themselves, but spent most of their time with me. The parrot was named Louis and was just there for the summer while it’s owner (Tellias) was traveling.

Anyway, to make a non-story short, one day Aaron came home with a Pug. It was adorable. He’d found out that Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale, two gentlemen who shared a fashionable home and had no wives, had a litter of puppies. Aaron took it upon himself to bring one home without the permission of our parents.

My mother told Aaron to bring the puppy, now named Mercutio, back to Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale. Our father said we had to defer to my mother. He was of no help. So we started to yell loudly that it was so unfair and that we loved Mercutio with all of our cold little Vampire hearts. Max, being the eldest and for some reason my mother’s favorite, put in his opinion that we should keep Mercutio. So my mother gave in. I think the fact that my brother Andy told my mother that Aaron would never forgive her. So we kept Mercutio who was a fine dog and a grand addition to our household.

Fast forward to 2018. We’ve had four dogs since my children were born. We had two dogs when we started to have children. Then we had one dog for 12 years. Now we have one dog. We also have two cats. One dog, two cats. I’ve avoided the never ending revolving door of rats, mice, hamsters, birds, and other small caged creatures.

Before I became a responsible adult, and before my brothers became responsible adults we thought we were responsible enough to have pets. We adopted cats and dogs then after a few years they somehow ended up with our parents. At one time the family home contained six dogs, eight cats, and no children.

Looking back, as a parent, I told my children NO. Don’t bring me pets.

A lot of young adults start to collect pets as soon as they move out of home. Unfortunately shelters are full of these pets. As kids move around, as young adults do, they find themselves unable to keep their animals. That is where the parents come into the picture. Just drop the critters off with Mom. NO.

A dog is a 12-16 year commitment. A cat can live for twenty years or more. I can’t stress enough that having a pet is a huge responsibility. You are responsible for a life – the entire life – of a living creature.

Sure dogs and cats are fun. I love my dog. I love my cats. That said, I don’t want anymore right now. I’m at full capacity. There is delicate social balance. If one of my kids brought in another animal at least one of the cats would start having behavioral problems. The amount of fur in the house would be almost too much for me.

Beside that it is just irresponsible for young adults to start collecting animals. At a time when they need to be able to get out and explore, or move someplace else and find new opportunities, a pack of dogs, or two or three cats will just home them down. And it is unfair for the animals, and unfair for the parents who end up taking the pets in. No animal wants to be re-homed.

And while I’m on the subject of pets…if you or your children adopt any dogs or cats PLEASE have them spayed or neutered. Do not let your son equate his dog’s balls with his own balls and is misplaced manhood. It is not the same with dogs as with humans. The only balls your dog needs is tennis balls.

Before your children move out, have that talk about pets. You’ll be glad you did. My parents wish they had.

And that concludes my public service announcement.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Girl with Dog

Musings On Moving On

I’m not special. I’m busy. I’m different. I’m impatient and frazzled more than usual these days. I’m a mom.

So don’t sweet talk me or give me hollow compliments. You never had to prove anything to me. I’m a Vampire. You never have to prove yourself to a Vampire.

That is what I said to the creature who stood before me the other night. I was out with my 18-year-old son and we met some people for dinner. Our dinner. You know, we’re Vampires. It’s OK. When we were done with our tummies full and our “friends” empty of a few pints of blood and full of sweet dreams, we quietly headed for the car. Halfway down the alley we were stopped by a stranger, or someone I thought was a stranger.

His face was in the dark as he asked if we were having a nice evening. I took my son’s arm and gave a nod, ready to move on when the man stopped in front of us.

“You don’t know who I am.”

I looked at him in the face and I knew. It had been at least 80 years but I knew him. I can’t even start to tell you how annoying it is when someone from my past shows up when I’m with my kids.

“I know Vampires never forget. And I’d never forget you Juliette. You’re still just as beautiful as the last time I saw you.”

We made a little bit of small talk. He complimented me several more times. Then we went our ways like ships that pass in the night. Just signals of those who might or might not meet in port one day.

“Who was that mom?” Garrett was naturally curious about the person we’d just me.

“He’s a Warlock. We used to run in the same circles, kind of sort of. There was always something about him that made my skin crawl.”

“He seemed nice enough.”

“He is, but…”

“He’s a Warlock?”

“He was such an asshole. It has nothing to do with him being a Warlock. We had a lot of the same friends. That is all. It is what it is.”

We talked a bit more. Just another night of a week full of annoying things that fortunately are separated by really nice things, like evening with my son.

Garrett and I talked for the next hour about people we know and our plans for the summer and his graduation from high school. We talked of college and the people he’ll meet. There will be new friends. Some will last for a year. Some will last forever. Some will come and go from our lives like shadows.

We came home to find my husband Teddy and daughter Clara watching Lizard Lick Towing. I know, we’re Vampires who have sunk to the lowest of low, but at least it was good to see some daddy/daughter bonding. They watch Bar Rescue together too. So much for Gothic Vampire stereotypes.

I told Teddy about my old Warlock acquaintance. He used to be among my circle of friends a long time ago but we grew up and all moved on. It wasn’t the wrong time wrong place situation. It was just time to move on.

Just like with my children and the end of the school year, it is time to move on.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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This is a Vampire Maman Friday Flash Back: This was first posted here in May 2014

Trust your kids. Seriously, they’re your kids so you should trust them.

If you automatically assume you can’t trust our kids they will never trust or respect you.
         ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Don’t listen to parenting advice from people who are bad parents with rotten kids.
         ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

My nineteen year old daughter just texted me that due to the forest fires she and her boyfriend can’t see Mt. Shasta. Last night she sent me a photo from the cabin they’re staying in near Dunsmuir and Castle Crags State Park.

I would have never sent my parents messages like that had there been phones or texts when I was her age. The only texts they would have sent me were texts asking me where I was and texts that proved they didn’t trust me. I wanted to hear about the dog not their concerns that I might have been doing something bad. Of course they were too uncomfortable talking to me about “bad” things.

Never be uncomfortable talking to your children about anything – no matter how old or how young they are. You’re the parent. You never need to be uncomfortable with YOUR child. Of course you might just be uncomfortable about yourself. Don’t be an ostrich and get your head out of the sand. Ignoring shit won’t make it go away.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my parents but it was a different relationship than I have with my own children.

I learned that I was not to be trusted even when I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Parents assume they can’t trust their teens. Then again can we trust anyone? We all have our secrets. But to automatically assume that youth can’t be trusted does far more harm than good.

If children know you don’t trust them they will learn to lie. They will learn to be great liars too. Lies will be come part of their everyday life. Strange to some but true.

So how do you build that trust? Talk to your kids. Listen to them. Engage with them. Be there for them. Believe them when they do tell the truth. Stand up for them. Start the dialogue when they’re young.

I don’t advocate a totally no rules childhood. Kids are going to make mistakes. They’re going to do stupid things. They’re going to be untrustworthy. That is part of growing up. Childhood is a time of trial and error. But if you teach them to learn from their mistakes, if you guide them to do the right thing, if you teach them about self-respect and the value of a good reputation, if you teach them to be smart – not just book smart but street smart, then, well, it is a good start. Nothing about parenting should be accidental, even if you’re relaxed like me. I’m serious.

Every child is different and every family is different so it isn’t always easy. But don’t go into parenting with a harsh negative attitude. Teach your kids with love, and laughter and a positive attitude. Make them WANT to keep you updated on their where, when, who, and why.

Unfortunately our kids are all unique individuals so we can’t control everything they do or think. We can’t control all of the influences in their lives or their weird impulses. Unfortunately in a lot of families an older child will screw up so the parents assume all of the kids will. Don’t do that. Don’t punish all of your kids for the actions of one.

For example I have known several people who had siblings who took college money and lied about going to school. So the parents decided not to help any of their kids with college. That is just messed up. Don’t punish all of your children for the actions of one.

The blind lack of trust can and will cause resentment that lasts a lifetime. Nobody wants that.

Sure, your children will do stupid things at all stages of their lives. But try to trust them. Give them your trust and they will value it, if they know you value them.

Simplistic? Yes. Easy? Not always.

Sometimes kids are assholes. You have to talk to them about that in straight forward honest terms. Sometimes you have to say “don’t be a jerk” Any kid over ten will understand that.

We’ve all done stupid things in our youth. Learn from your mistakes and use that experience as a parent. That is your job.

I trust you on this one.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman