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

Why don’t you blog about me anymore? And other things my kids and I talked about including V-Steams.

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Garrett just turned 22 last month and is in his final year of college at the big university right on the ocean. Final year of undergraduate work that is. He is still living with his best buddy Randy.

When I spoke with him yesterday he said, “You never blog about me. I talk to you every day. Almost every day. I text you all the time.”

I’m learning how to transition from minor children to adult children.

So I said to my son, “You told me that what I wrote about you was embarrassing. Maybe I’ll just write about Randy.*”

*Garrett’s best friend Randy. Randy wears plaid pants and other creative vintage clothing. Randy looks like a cross between a young David Lee Roth and Chris Evans. Randy is pretty goofy. Girls like Randy a lot.

The last time I spoke with Randy, a couple of weeks ago, he was telling me about some discussions he’d been having in one of his classes about free will, choice, and what we choose to believe. Somehow the discussion of things we can’t prove like honest politicians, and other cryptozoological beings came up.

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He’d sent me a funny Sasquatch meme. I told him that it got that ass from doing squats. That is why it is really called a Sas-squat.

But seriously, for as long as I can remember there have been stories of Bigfoots aka Sasquatches and the likes. So often people claim to have seen a body of one. I was flipping through the TV channels the other night (Vampires and others are known to do that) and say some guy who’d claimed to have shot a Bigfoot. He said it looked at him before it died. It had whites in it’s eyes just like us. It was small so he could have carried it to his car, but he didn’t. The man claimed because he was on National Park land he was afraid he’d get in trouble.

Really? Dude you shot a BIGFOOT.  A BIGFOOT.

If I found a live Bigfoot (Sasquatch) or even a body or a body part, HELL YEAH I’d take it. Are you kidding? I wouldn’t think twice. I don’t care if I found it in the forest or on the steps of the California State Capitol building. The first thing I’d do it take it over to the UC Davis Vet School and say “HEY, take a look at this!”

I would not advise doing the same if you found a Vampire or Werewolf. I’d advise you back away slowly then RUN as fast as you can.

That night I was hanging out with my husband Teddy and Clara. Clara is 18, in college, and still at home until she transfers to a university by the ocean.

The subject of businesses near my husband’s came up, specifically spas.

My husband and child said they thought I should open a spa called V and next door have a spa for house cats called “The Pampered Pussy.” Then they almost laughed until they were practically falling off of their chairs.

What brought this up? There are spas where you can get your Yoni steamed. Yes, steamed. It will cure everything from unhappy crotch syndrome, tension, Scrophularia, and give you an elevated sense of well being among other things.

It is called a V-Steam. V stands for vagina, or Yoni, or cootch, or Vajayjay, but we prefer vagina in Vampire Land.

Why have women started to call their vagina Yoni? Because they’re cute and musical? Maybe. You never know.

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At these spas you sit on a chair that looks like an old fashioned potty seat, spread your legs and get your parts steamed. WTF?

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My husband suggested that someone would be in the background playing a harp. He hates harp music.

I said a saxophone. We all laughed then Clara suggested Kenny G. Then I thought of Yanni. Why not? Steam your Yoni to Yanni.

Holy shit. They have group parties too. Yes, you can get steamed with all of your friends, drink wine, and even paint a pretty picture at the same time.

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Invite all your friends. It will be fun.

Then the subject of the show Naked and Afraid came up. Bugs and bug bites. Say no more. Nobody, not even the most hardened Vampire wants bugs near their Yoni, not even Kenny G.

We tried to avoid politics. It is just so frustrating. However, I was called up to be a poll worker again for the next election. I show up and after my training know more about the voting system than 99% of people who are running for or currently in office.

Aside from my husband who is in a slightly different mindset than most of us I do not with good things upon a lot of people in Washington D.C.

You know who I’m thinking about. Nasty horrible people who lie, cheat, steal, embrace ignorance, celebrate bigotry, and use religion as a tool of hate and control. You know who I’m talking about. Bitter men born before 1976 who act like they were born before 1876. Rat bastards of the worst kind.

We heard rumor that the cast of What We Do In The Shadows might be having a show on FX. I love that movie. It is absolutely adorable. It is as cute as Vlad (Vampire Diary.)

I usually really don’t care for most Vampire movies. They tend to be seriously bad and boring and stupid. But it makes for great drinking games.  BUT there are exceptions. Don’t hate on me. Most Werewolf movies are even worse than Vampire or Ghost movies. I’m sorry Werewolves. We still love you out of the movies (sometimes, don’t let it go to your heads because you’re still assholes.)

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But back to Garrett…

We talked a lot about his girlfriend, and his classes, and how he wishes he had a dog but won’t get one until he is more settled down. He told me about surfing at night. He told me about finding red starfish in a tide pool. He told me about a book he’d read called “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

That is a thought that no parent wants to hear concerning their own child.

We also talked about The East Area Rapist, also known as the Golden State Killer. He was found maybe six miles from my home. Back in the 1970’s he raped women in their homes a few blocks from where I live now. I lived near there at the time. I’m glad they found him. He’ll rot in Hell for sure.

In Northern California we seem to have our share of serial killers. Sometimes it seems like more than our share. Then again I hear of all of the weird deaths in places like rural Nebraska and the swamps of Louisiana. Things are weird. There are horror stories and then there is real life. It is a fine line between the two. Truth is often stranger and more horrific than fiction.

Anyway, Garrett just texted me again and I have to go.

Love your children. Talk to them. And even when they’re grown they’re still your babies. They’ll always be yours. Listen, love, learn, and always be their heart and soul.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Bloom

Even Vampires get the blues, but nothing so bad that some flowers won’t fix it. I dare say I don’t live in a black house with dead plants in the yard. OK I’ll admit that everything in the yard used to be dead but not anymore. I’ve spent the past three years digging in the river rocks rolled in a light dusting of dirt and managed to make something of it. The key has been to plant so that something is always blooming.

These are my flowers. The gray one is Oscar the cat.

 

 

But one can never have too many flowers in their world.

A few weekends ago I took the old ones Eleora and Tellias out to see the world. I had to get them out of their old musty house and into a bright spot. We went to the Sacramento Orchid Show.

Eleora wore satin red shoes. These were old shoes that she’d used years ago for ballroom dancing. She’d tied silk orchid flowers to the straps. She matched it with a red skirt decorated with appliqué poinsettia and snowflakes. With that she wore a yellow lace blouse. I asked her about her choice of a Christmas skirt.

Eleora looked at me with almost an eye roll and said, “Flowers. We are going to a flower show. This is a flower skirt.”

I didn’t argue. Tellias wore his usual yellow flip-flops, black dress pants, and a white tuxedo shirt with rolled up sleeves. He’d trimmed his pale blonde hair from just below his shoulders to collar length. It had kind of a wave in it now that I hadn’t seen since the 1960’s.

Lola, my great great great great great grandmama also came along. She is quite a bit younger than Eleora and Tellias, but still ancient in her own right. She wasn’t wearing anything unusual, just jeans and a pretty shirt like just about everyone else at the orchid show.

But all in all we looked like a group of nice young people. Tellias and Eleora appear to be in their late teens or maybe twenty or twenty-one. Lola looks forever twenty-five, and I look just slightly older, even thought I’m the youngest of the group at a mere 158.

I watched as Eleora and Tellias went off by themselves, huddled over each orchid plant in awe of the beauty of the unusual blooms. They talked over each other, hummed, sang a few songs, held hands, and occasionally gave each other a quick kiss. I kept a sideways eye on them just to make sure they wouldn’t do anything too odd. They were indeed a beautiful and strange pair who positively glowed over the sight of the orchids. If anyone did look at the couple they’d usually smile. How could they help but smile at those two.

Lola and I walked behind them admiring the plants and catching up with each other. She mentioned her ex-husband, her first, was alive. She thought he was dead. Of course she hadn’t seen him in about five hundred years, give or take a few. She had no intention on seeing him ever again. I asked if he had an Internet presence and she told me no. That isn’t unusual for Vampires. A lot of them go on the Dark Web for obvious reasons, or they’re like me and don’t give a crap what people think. Nobody believes any of this shit anyway, but there is an element of truth in it all – more than an element. But back to Lola…

“You need to let go of him,” I told her.

She took my arm in hers and led me to a giant yellow orchid. “That is so beautiful. I need get one of those. I’ve been trying to keep up the greenhouse. It keeps Eleora and Tellias active. They can putter around and sing little ditties to the flowers to make them bloom.” She led me over to a grouping of pink orchids. “These too. Eleora loves pink. We’re growing herbs too. Back when I was married to him we grew oranges and lemons in a greenhouse. It was too cold to grow them outside.”

“Why’d you leave him?”

“Not why you’d think. He wasn’t cheating on me or cruel to me. He was just such an asshole. So full of himself. And he was violent even for a Vampire. I didn’t like his friends either. The passion was there but… always the passion, but I got tired of fighting and making up all the time. I got so tired of all of the drama. When I met Thomas, my next husband it was like a glowing ray of moonlight. He was so kind and gentle, and he was funny. He made me laugh. And there was also great passion like every Vampire woman dreams of. Then… I just don’t understand. Thomas was burned alive as a witch, and that asshole still lives on.”

She has told me this story over and over and over, for my entire existence. We all have friends and family members like that. And as they get older they tell the stories more often. I try to keep Lola, Eleora, and Tellias involved so that they have new stories to tell.

Than again Lola’s current boyfriend is thirty nine years old. You wouldn’t think it would work but it does. I wouldn’t want my son or daughter to get involved with a much older Vampire, but Lola and Cody went in without one taking advantage of the other. Plus Lola has always been diligent about keeping up with the modern world.

As a parent I’ve always kept up with current culture. There is nothing worse for a young adult to have a mom or dad who is still living in 1984.  Parents owe it to their kids to keep up with everything from music to fashion to movies and everything else that is going on. If your kid is politically involved you need to be too. Share your music – new and old. You’ll be surprised how many things you both like. Keep an open mind. It will keep you young.

Despite their age (well over 2,000 years) I’ve always believed keeping an open mind is one of the things that has kept Eleora and Tellias young. Nobody wants to be a musty dank old Shadow Creeper and sit around in rotting Victorian clothing drinking thick days old blood in chipped old china cups. That isn’t just good advice for Vampires. It is good advice for everyone.

Tellias and Eleora bought twelve new orchids for their greenhouse. Lola texted Cody and told him to meet us later for wine on the back deck. I called my husband Teddy to do the same.

No matter who you are, or what you are, make it a goal to keep growing and blooming. And have fun, no matter what your age.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Frogs, Love, and a Rain Swept Night

All night we’ve had thunder, lightning, rain, and hail. Hours later my back deck is still hail. In the creek and field behind my home the frogs are singing with loud clear voices, calling for romance. Pick me! Pick me! Oh let me prove that I am the amphibian of your dreams. Thousands of little frogs, so small that one could be comfortable sitting on a quarter, are belting out love songs as fierce as any Rock-n-Roll idol.

I love the frog music. I love the sound of the rain. I love the thunder and lightning.

In a land where drought is more of normal state of things, a week of storms is a wonderful and magical thing.

Frogs never worry about expressing their love. They aren’t shy like their human neighbors.

My husband sings in the shower. A happy feeling of love always fills my heart when I hear him doing that. He doesn’t know it. And we might be a bit cold blooded sometimes but we’re no frogs.

In 1868 my two older brothers (Max and Andy) were more or less out of the house. That left twelve year old Aaron, nine year old Val, and seven year old me.

We’d read the story of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mr. Mark Twain, and we’d decided to have our own frog jumping contest.

At the time the city of Sacramento was being torn up in order to raise the streets to protect us from future floods. The railroad was also tearing things up. We didn’t care. In the middle of the night we left our home in search of large frogs. I wore some of Val’s old pants so I wouldn’t have to bother with getting a skirt caught on anything.

Through the mud and dirt three vampire children headed towards the river as the sun set over the distant hills. We could see the light of boats as we took a dirt path down to the water. The passengers waved back at us as we jumped and shouted to get their attention.

Val found some pennies on the beach. I picked up a few clam shells and put them in my pocket. Aaron had forgotten about the frogs and was loudly reciting the battle speech from Richard III (yes, the one from William Shakespeare) as he stood on the edge of the water looking into the sky.

Then we heard the sound of applause and looked up to see a group of men at the top of the embankment cheering on Aaron.

My brother continued his grand speech after which he bowed, and the three of us ran off laughing into the night.

On the way home we looked into windows of businesses and homes, laughing the whole way. We saw cooks, and lovers, gamblers and quiet readers.

When our parents arrived home they found us clean and playing cards. We gave them angelic smiles.

Our mother smiled at us, showing a little bit of her lovely Vampire fangs. “Did you hear the frogs tonight?”

“Yes,” I said, “and tomorrow we’re going to catch our own frogs and have a race.”

“We’ll see about that,” said my mother with wink.

The three of us never did have a frog race, or a frog jumping contest, but we did catch plenty of frogs after that night.

A few years ago I took my own children out to the vernal pool near our house where the seasonal rains create a froggy paradise. It is a regular version of Frog Bachelorette. Or at least it amuses me to think so.

So once again the sun will come through the clouds, and the sounds of birds will replace that of frogs, and maybe even with our feathered friends love will also be in the air.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Delivered To Your Door

Delivered to your door…

I looked at the muscular, almost beautiful, naked body on the bed and the folded up sheriffs’ uniform on the chair. The badge seemed to sparkle saying “look at me, look at me.” A white and pink orchid flower was behind his ear.

Holy crap, this wasn’t how I’d planned on starting out my week.

I was reading on my deck, a glass of wine in my hand, my eyes closed for just a second…

I was three years old and someone was throwing me up in the air and I laughed so hard I could hardly breathe.

His hands are warm and I cling to him to put my ear next to his chest and hear his heart. I hold him tight feeling the heat radiate from his body. I keep laughing. He is so different from everyone else I know.

Thirteen years later, he takes my hands, I laugh. Then my best girlfriend says “He’ll marry me and I’ll be his wife forever.” No way would she get the most handsome man in the world to marry her. I laughed in her face and everyone yelled Happy New Year. Someone lit up lights to spell out 1865. We were in California and in love with men we have silly school girl crushes on. Who cared about the war? We were safe.

I woke in a cold sweat, on the back deck, my book on the ground, the cat staring at me. I heard my son’s voice.

“Mom, Uncle Val is on the phone.” My son Garrett stood at the sliding glass door holding my phone out at arms length.

My brother Valentine, 13 months my senior said I have to come right now. It was an emergency. Nobody else could come. None of our three older brothers could make it. Everyone else had suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.

I arrived at the farm house, my two teens in tow, slamming the door as hard as I could when I got out of the car.

I’m usually pretty calm but I lit into my brother when I saw him walking towards us. “Nobody ever consults with me. I’m the one with the kids and the husband and my own business. I’m on fucking call 24/7 for everyone in this family and nobody ever asks me what I want or need. Nobody.”

“Are you done?” Val asked this in an uncharacteristically sarcastic tone.

“No. What is going on?”

My brother scowled at me and shook his head. “Why are you yelling?”

I went into the house leaving him in the yard. I could hear my son saying “Bad day to mess with my mom.”

Dealing with the sick and elderly is something we do. We do it for love or obligation or family bonds or whatever the reason it is usually on autopilot fueled by guilt and frustration. I’m so saint but sometimes I want to play that saint card so much it hurts.

Eleora stood at the door in a yellow bikini top and a tie-dye skirt, her brown curls done up in red bows. She fluttered around then kissed me on each cheek. Tellias gave me a big hug. He was wearing a green shirt with yellow parrots embroidered on the back. A patch on the front said Dave in large script letters. His white blonde hair was pulled back with a green ribbon.

They look like they’re 19 or 20 years old but they’re ancient – two of the most ancient Vampires known. They were pioneers and founders of the Modern Vampire movement. It is hard to see them like this. It literally breaks my heart.

Steel guitars were hissing away on a scratched up old record playing on a wind up phonograph in the corner.

“We can’t find the car keys,” said Tellias.

“We’re being tropical tonight,” said Eleora as she danced around and put an orchid flower behind my ear.

I was ready to scream. “Again? Where did you last have them?” I asked slowly and calmly.

“If we knew that we’d be driving,” said Tellias, as he took the ribbon out of his hair and shook it out on his shoulders.

“We’d take a road trip to Montana and Maine and Michigan and Maui!” Eleora sang as she danced around again.

“How long have the keys been gone?” I asked.

“Two or three weeks. Val won’t let us use his car,” Tellias said.

“He says we drive too creatively,” Eleora giggled.

“Yes, he said we drive too creatively,” added Tellias.

“Creatively,” said Eleora, this time more seriously.

“Creatively. That was a nice way to put it,” I said more to myself than to the Elders. “What about food? Is Val bringing you food?”

Tellias patted my hand. “Val has been a darling but we like delivery. We call and they come to the house. Amazing. We should have done that a long time ago.”

Delivery? What in the world were they doing? I looked at the hanging chandelier in the entryway. “Nice fixture. Is it new?”

“A couple of nice men came and installed it,” Tellias told me. “It should last for years. The old one was fitted for gas and ugly. Remember?”

“We had them for lunch,” Eleora proudly told me.

“You shouldn’t do that. They’re help,” I told them.

Eleora just smiled. “We liked them Juliette. We wanted them to stay.”

“Are they still here?” I asked not knowing if I wanted to know the answer.

Tellias answered this time. “No, they left. Then we called the County Sheriffs and asked them to come out. We said someone tried to break in. Eleora sounded scared. They sent two good-looking strong young men right to our door.”

“Right to our door. Good looking healthy young men,” Eleora echoed.

I glanced out the window and saw the black and white car on the side of the house. Oh no.

“Where are they?” I asked trying not to panic.

They both looked to the ceiling. I ran up the stairs.

In a bedroom done in high Victorian style, I found a golden haired well-built man face down and naked on the bed. His uniform was neatly folded in a chair. He was alive but in a deep sleep. The name badge was Murphy, as in Officer Murphy.

Another handsome muscular young man was in the next bedroom over, shirtless on his back, asleep. I noticed a wedding ring on his finger. The name badge on his shirt had the name Garcia. His sleeping eyes moved a little under long dark eyelashes.

I called down the stairs. “How long have you had these guys here?”

“Since yesterday. We jammed the GPS on their car.”

I sat down on the top step, almost in tears. They couldn’t find their car keys but they could jam a GPS signal. I thought about the guy with the wedding ring. His wife must be sick wondering where he is.

In most popular novels ancient Vampires are powerful creatures of the night. In my life they are silly creatures that forget all rules about consequences or right and wrong. They act like senile teenagers, with occasional flashes to the wise, powerful leaders they once were.

Tellias sat down next to me. “We thought about keeping them for a while. Then you and Val wouldn’t have to worry about us.”

Eleora slid down on the other side and stroked my face with a cool hand. “Why are you so upset? Everything will be fine. It always is.”

We dressed the nice handsome patrol officers and positioned them in less provocative poses. An hour later another patrol car and an ambulance arrived. Two officers had become ill with an unexplained illness. Not knowing what to do a young couple took them in to their home. All was well. The officers recovered with no memory of what happened. Both mentioned an overwhelming calm and sense of well-being. Imagine that.

Tellias took my hand, like he did when I was a child. “Juliette, my dear child, we weren’t going to turn those young men into Vampires. You know we wouldn’t do that.”

“I just worry about you two,” I told him.

“You care too much for those Regular Humans,” said Eleora. “You have to distance yourself.”

“I’m married to a man who used to be a Regular Human,” I said quietly, but ready to scream.

Tellias squeezed my hand again. “And if it wasn’t for Eleora and me he would be dead.”

I went back to the bedroom where the married officer had been. Years ago my husband lay in that bed, a phantom between two worlds, that of the humans of the light and those of us who favor the dark. An unwanted conversion that had turned those warm hands cold forever, but given me…

“Mom?”

I looked over to kids standing next to me. A 14 year old daughter and a 17 year old son. They shouldn’t have to see all this, but I don’t believe in sheltering them. I never have.

I guess I should do my famous parenting blogger bullet points but there is no point in this story. It is just one of those things, on one of those nights.

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Yes, you might have read this before but hey, I’m on the road right now with Teddy. I’ll have all kinds of adventures to share when I return. This was first published in 2014 (I think, the kids are 18 and 21 now, so it was a while ago.).

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman