Smoke River

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Saturday before last my husband Teddy and I took our boat out on the Sacramento River.

Nobody else was out there. Hardly anyone else. Despite it being a holiday weekend everyone stayed home due to the smoke.

We just didn’t think about it. It had been so long since just the two of us went on a boat ride for no reason that we just did it.

Several miles up river we stopped at a familiar pier. My brothers and I jumped off this pier, or at least the first pier that was ever here. About ten different piers have been here since, brought down by floods, winter frost, blazing summer heat, errant boats, and age.

Eleora and Tellias stood on the end of the boat dock and waved at us. Eleora, in a full flowers skirt, a yellow blouse and a worn orange sweater danced around with a purple scarf. like Isadore Duncan. Tellias stood smiling with one hand in the pocket of his black tuxedo pants, and waved with the other hand. He wore a lime green tee shirt with a pattern of black roses. They looked like a couple of teenagers or college students. But they’re neither. Nobody knows exactly how old these ancient Vampires are. Over 2,000 years – that we know. They don’t talk about it much.

The helped us tie up the boat and lent us hands. As always they gave us hugs, lots of kisses, and sang us a welcome song. Today is was a strange sort of a haunting gothic punk version of Moon River. I never question their choices. Today I even sang along as they danced around Teddy and me giving me light kisses and taking my hands. Teddy just smiled and unloaded a couple of bags out of the boat of things we’d brought the Ancient ones. We didn’t bring gifts because we had to. We brought them because sometimes those who are older than us forget things, or need things, or need help.

Then they took our hands and led us up the lawn to the path that went through the orchard and to the Queen Anne style Victorian they live in.

Our conversations went away from the smoke and to Thanksgiving plans.

My husband’s mother had a deep set belief that there was something morally wrong with a woman who could not cook. She equated not being able to cook with being a prostitute.

In fact she once said (according to my husband) “If you’re going to marry a woman who can’t cook you might as well marry a whore. At least she’d be good at something.”

Actually I doubt if she ever said that out loud but I know she thought it.

That said, in 1875 Teddy became a Vampire so marrying a woman who could cook became a moot point. I can cook, but then again I do a lot of things one does not expect from a Vampire. We all do. We have to blend in.

Up at the house my brother Val was waiting in the kitchen with a nice chilled bottle of Poet’s Blood, and a bottle of Angel’s Envy Bourbon to wash it down with. We sat on the back porch and talked about the fire, Thanksgiving plans, the rest of my siblings, and my children.

Thanksgiving will be a good day. A day of love. A day to truly be thankful, in a world that seems to be increasingly full of sorrow.

Some things can be fleeting, like the overly wrought emotions of family relations, especially this time of year. It makes one grow weary of the pointlessness of it all. The way people hold grudges and hate – and hold fast to traditions that only make one feel controlled and not loved.

So we gather with friends, those who wish to be with us for no other reason than that they enjoy our company – and we theirs. Family can be like that as well, if they allow it. If they dare.

In the Vampire world we tend not to keep grudges for they last far too long and do far too much damage. No need to fight when the sun comes up each and every single day and gives us a new opportunity to take a deep breath and let go. And in the night we see our light, the beautiful stars that will last on for a billion years after we’re all gone. And it humbles us and makes us realize what really matters is our love and our companionship and our memories – that is the good memories. The others, the bad memories, should be banished from our lives.

So tonight we shall toast our glasses filled full and laugh until our sides hurt. We’ll listen to the stories and funny jokes from the young ones and we will celebrate all that we are truly thankful for.

Including our Regular Human friends.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

I am thankful for all of my readers. xoxoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Musings on Childhood and Hell

A lot of my childhood memories are of me just trying to figure things out.

My mother and I watched a funeral procession when I was almost four. She pointed out the beautiful white horses that pulled the carriage.

I asked what the box in the carriage was. She said a casket. Then she said the man’s body was in it.

His body. I thought about that for a while. If he body was in the casket where was the rest of him. Where did they put his arms and legs and head?

Of course I didn’t ask my mother about it.

I grew up in a Vampire family but nobody in my house slept in caskets or lived in cemeteries. Where we lived didn’t have a lot of history so the cemeteries were fairly new anyway.

We also didn’t spend a lot of time in church. Like I said, I grew up in a Vampire family and in the Vampire community. That said, my brother Val and I were fascinated with churches.

One Sunday when I was about six years old, and Val was seven, we went inside the tent of a traveling preacher. Many people smiled at the two small, somewhat well dressed children who sat quietly in the back. We didn’t fidget or squirm like the other children, but sat completely still and listened in horror as a man in a black suit hollered about sin, damnation and HELL.

When we got home we asked our fourteen year old brother Andy about what we’d heard.
“Where is Hell?” I asked him.

“Hell is where people who aren’t Vampires go when they’re bad,” said Andy.

“I thought bad people went to jail,” said Val, trying to sound grown up.

Andy smiled with just a hint of fang and said, “Bad people do go to jail. They go to Hell after they’re hanged.”

After that Andy took it upon himself to educate Val and me. He read us Dante’s Inferno. I didn’t understand any of it but the pictures were terrifying. We read bits of the Bible. That was also terrifying. Then Andy read us Faust and sang songs from the opera (which was first performed in 1859, the year I was born.) Faust seemed like an idiot to me but I never told Andy that.

Later my parents sat us down and told us about good and evil. We learned of demons and the fallen ones. We learned of angels and what to watch out for. We learned of things that lived in the shadows. But most of all they told us to beware the darkness in the hearts of men, false prophets, and those who use the beautiful cloak of ignorance to blind and control.

As we grew up and grew the wiser I still remember thinking about what Andy said.

They go to Hell after they’re hanged. 

I suppose Hell is whatever you want it to be, and when or where ever you want it to be. But I’m not really thinking about that much, and I don’t think about much of anything Andy says anymore. He’s the crazy one. Don’t take me wrong, I love my musically gifted and somewhat dramatic and romantic sibling.

Over the years Val and I continued to sit in the back of churches and circus tents, I mean church tents, and listen, mostly for the music. Vampires love music of all kinds. We get it where we can.

We also wonder how we grew up to be so normal, but then again, most people get things wrong as children. That I guess is why we’re not born adults.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Capitol Roses

There is a myth that Vampires like dead dusty roses. THAT is just a myth. We love beautiful vibrant roses and all flowers.

Yesterday it was my mom’s birthday. As part of the celebration we strolled around the rose garden in Capitol Park in Sacramento, CA.

Just wanted to share a few of my favorites. I thought it would be a good way to start off the week.

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For more amazing flowers check out Cee’s Photography: https://ceenphotography.com/2018/10/07/flower-of-the-day-october-8-2018-dahlia/

Share the flowers in your world.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Allegory of Art and Life and Whatever (and College Students and Vampires)

I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about art.

Yesterday I stopped by my brother Val’s office/house downtown. I’ve always loved this large stick style home. He purchased it around 1910 and has done a remarkable job of keeping it up over the years when so many Victorian and Craftsman style homes went into disrepair.

Val’s office is on the bottom floor. The second floor is a comfortable space where Val keeps his official home address. On the third floor is an apartment occupied by a couple of college students.

Neither one of the young men, now in their third year of college, would have been able to go to school away from home without the horrible nightmare of college loans had it not been for Val’s Home Away From Home (so they call it.)

I’m not completely sure where he found Colton and Luke. I think Val met Colton studying in the old cemetery or something along those lines and the other kid came along. Colton was worried he’d have to move home and transfer schools and majors, or maybe just drop out. In exchange for rent they watch the place when Val is gone, do yard work and house cleaning, and keep their grades up.

The boys aren’t Vampires either, and they have no idea about Val. All they know is that Val is exceptionally cool and a little different.

Anyway, I was at Val’s thinking about art. Luke showed me some sketches he’d done of some friends of his on his way out to classes at UC Davis (a short trip across the causeway.) The kid is good. I’m ready to beat the crap out of anyone who discourages him.

Val was at his big desk with his computer checking all kinds of financial stuff I know nothing about. I looked up on the wall at his Maynard Dixon painting. It was of a woman wrapped in a shawl looking in profile towards a gold and orange landscape.

“You should donate that to the museum,” I said. “It is a hidden uncatalogued gem.

“Maybe. I haven’t had it that long.”

“You bought it from the artist. How old can it be?”

“Sometime in the 30’s. A mere matter of days for the typical Vampire.” He smiled and gave me that amused look that makes the girls all melt. Well except me because I’m his sister and I know his tricks.

“Why don’t you donate some of your art Juliette? God knows you’ve got it coming out of your ears.”

“I can’t. Not yet. I’m too attached. And I need more. I always need more art.”

Val laughed. I continued. “I bid on something for the art auction, you know the one for public television. I’m spending at least one day a week at the museum. Clara is taking an art history class so we’re talking about a lot of art. That isn’t a bad thing mind you. I’m also working on my art again. I’m also reading a book about art. My house is full of art. I’m going to go into an art coma.”

“Is that a bad thing?” My brother looked at me as if I’d lost my mind.

“No Val, it isn’t a bad thing. It is a good thing. I’m just kind of overwhelmed. And I don’t have a Burning Question for Saturday.”

He told me to make it about art. We thought about it and threw around a lot of really stupid ideas, which is par for my Burning Questions feature.

I’ll think of something, or use one of our ideas.

Around that time Luke came rambling downstairs to say hello to Val. He was a typical twenty year old male with that sort of cute and, always together, always smart, and always on the verge of some sort of disaster look. It was charming.

“The outside lightbulbs are out, on the front and back porches.” said Luke. “Do you have any extras?”

“Sure. In the second story hall closet, next to the laundry room.”

“Thanks. Hey, can I ask you something?”

“Go ahead,” said my brother.

“You kind of like the dark don’t you. I know you aren’t cheap so it isn’t the electricity bill you’re worried about,” said Luke.

“Good observation,” said Val. “Glad you asked. My eyes are sensitive to the light and I just need to rest them.”

“Makes sense. OK I’ll change those bulbs, then I have to study.”

“On a Friday?” I asked.

“For a bit. I’m going out later. There’s a movie at the Tower, Sisters Brothers or something like that. I’m going with Madeline.” Then he gave a shy smile.

Val slipped him a couple of twenties. We talked for a little bit longer.

Val and I are very old. It is always good to be around the very young.

But now my old brain must think up a Burning Question for October 6. It will be something about art – that thing which has twisted up my heart and soul for as long as I can remember.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Allegory of Painting

Allegory of Painting, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

 

 

 

I’ll Meet You At WordCamp Sacramento 2018 (Yes, I’m a Speaker!)

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I will be speaking about personal blogging (i.e. non-commercial blogs like yours and mine,) the blogging community and keeping your unique blogger voice alive at the 2018 WordCamp Sacramento this September.

Yes, I am over the moon honored to have been chosen as a speaker. Note: I will be speaking under a different name. More on that later. 

As you all know, I’m passionate about my blog, your blog, and supporting each other. I’m passionate about creativity. I’m passionate about sharing. I’m passionate about you.

From the official WordCamp Sacramento site:

WordCamp Sacramento is a casual, locally organized conference happening September 15-16, 2018 that covers everything related to the world’s favorite platform: WordPress. Whether you’re brand new to WordPress, you use it casually, or you’re a seasoned professional, there is something for everyone at every skill level!

In its fourth year, the event will include a Beginner Track and two mixed tracks of sessions running concurrently on both Saturday, and three mixed tracks of sessions on Sunday.

Tickets go on sale in June.

For more official information click on this link: https://2018.sacramento.wordcamp.org

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I’ll be talking more about blogging and the event as we get closer to September. In the meantime I’ve got to bug Vlad about getting his latest Vampire Diary post finished, and I have some book recommendations too (and a new summer feature for Wednesdays.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Yes, this is the place.

Burning Question #14: The Pineapple Dilemma

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It is time for #14 of 50 Burning Questions. Happy Saturday. Now get ready for an emotional roller coaster.

Today I submit one of the most divisive burning questions in the history of the universe.

Traditional Italian vs Hawaiian. No this has nothing to do with soccer or volcanos. It has everything to do with PIZZA. 

 

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Burning Question #14: Should Pineapple Be Allowed On Pizza?

 

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I hope I haven’t caused any riots. Please, listen to Israel sing. It will make you feel happy, even a world where a simple pizza topping can tear families and friendships apart.

In the meantime please feel free to leave comments. Let me know what your favorite pizza toppings are, where you favorite pizza joint is, or anything else you need to say.

 

I’ll see you next Saturday for Burning Question #15.

Oh, and by the way you can get your pineapple coconut and Thai tea ice cream at Gunther’s in Sacramento, CA. They make their own ice cream. Loads of flavors. Gunther’s has been there since 1940 – they know what they’re doing. To make it even better Gunther’s is fairly close to the Old Sacramento City Cemetery AND the Sacramento Zoo so you can make a day of it. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman