Taking Care of Our Elders: Frogs, Love, and Hell

Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon #2

I’m a mom so I take care of my children. Like many others (and I know more than one of my readers) I also have seniors in my life who need my help. Even Vampires can be among the “sandwich” generation.

Over the years I’ve been writing about the ancient Vampires Tellias and Eleora. They look young, but they’ve been around for centuries. Sometimes they need a little extra help.

Our elder folks are our treasures. We should all love and take care of those we have, both family and elderly friends who often have no family near. You’re never too old for love, or friends or living life.

From the Summer of 2013

Frogs, Love, and Hell

I believe I’ve used the frog story before, but I shall tell it again.

Put a cold cast iron skillet on a cold burner on your stove. Gas works best. Place a large, live, cold blooded frog in the center of the skillet. Use a good sized one – 10-12 inches. Turn on the heat ever so low, then gradually turn it up. The frog will sit until it gets blazing hot and it’s feet and belly stick to the cast iron and it is cooked.

This is what happens to people in this heat (we’re expecting over 100 all week and over 110 F on some days). Elderly people and others who are not always aware will sit in the heat like the frog until they cook. They’ll forget to jump out of the pan, or in the case of some folks, forget to turn on the air conditioning or fan. Or they’ll forget to call for help because they won’t realize they need help.

My neighbor and dear friend Kelly came over tonight with a couple of cold drinks (bless her). She isn’t a Vampire like we are. She suspects we’re different but can’t quite put a finger on it. She also has a ghost in her house (yes, that ghost.)

We sat for a while as she told me of her elderly mother and the heat. Her mother forgets to turn on the air conditioner. Her mother obsesses about bad neighbors but will not let her children or helpers put anything over the fence so to keep out the eyes of those bad neighbors. She asked Kelly to come over (it was 110 outside) to cut down a tree. Kelly said no. Her mother doesn’t know what yard the tree is growing in. Kelly tells her not to go outside and check because it is too hot and because she’ll fall and end up in the hospital – again. The same conversation has happened over and over – with a different plant, a hose, a stray cat, an unfamiliar car parked on the street, or something else that Kelly will either have to deal with or talk her way out of.

She wishes her mother would move to a house where she won’t worry about bad trees and bad neighbors and expensive up keep. Kelly has suggested a smaller home near Kelly and the grand kids. It would be nice with all sorts of beautiful features and a lovely garden within walking distance of Kelly’s home. The kids could visit anytime. Her mother refuses. So Kelly must hear about trees and drive to her mom’s to get the mail, and give up her Saturday fun time. Saturday fun time is important for working moms and all moms and busy women who work, and well, it is important for everyone.

She wishes she could travel and do fun things with her mother. She wishes they could talk more of things that are positive and fun – things that are not bodily functions or other unpleasant things that only bring Kelly stress.

Sometimes the heat can suck the fun out of everything. The heat of being a caretaker can do the same. It is exhausting. Especially if the caretaker has children of her own. Kelly told her kids to put her on an ice flow if she ever got to the point where she couldn’t take care of herself. She asked them to shoot her if she ever lost her sense of humor. I gave her a hug. We talked for another house about books we’ve read this summer. We agree that everyone MUST read “Beautiful Ruins.” Then she went home to spend time with her own teenage children (good friends with my kids.)

After slipping on the kitchen floor today on an unknown object and landing on my back, I lay there thinking that I’d better call The Elders. They’re ancient and sometimes don’t use the best judgement.

Eleorna and Tellias, frail and gentle, were fine. Their neighbor had brought over shaved ice flavored with basil and rosemary. God bless him. They remembered to bring their old dog in and give him plenty of water. They didn’t drive today because sometimes they forgot how to turn on the air conditioner and the sun was too bright and they had lost the keys again, so they stayed home. And they turned on the air conditioner in their beautiful 143 year old house and slept in each other’s arms like young lovers.

I’m always afraid that I’ll drop by their house and find nothing but their ashes. I’m afraid someone will take advantage of them. I’m afraid that one day they might be gone and I will have a broken heart that will never go away.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

2019 Summer Reading: Transport Yourself to Another Time

Today, on my Monday Book/Reading feature I present three books that are quite different, but three books that will transport you into another time or place.

Reveries of a Bachelor

by I.K. Marvel
1850

I’ve carried my curious little volume around for years, with now yellow and brittle pages, treasuring it as a nice little book that takes one back to 1850, in the time of the Industrial Revolution and the California Gold Rush.

This summer I’ll be reading it again after many many many years.

Reveries of a Bachelor examines the dream-like lives Americans were living at the time. It was one of the top best sellers of its time but has received little attention from 19th century literary critics. In the text, Ik Marvel theorizes on boyhood, country life style, marriage, travel, and dreaming.

It was one of poet Emily Dickinson’s favorite books.

It is now quaint, and dated, but there are still hard truths of the heart and soul that we can all find in this volume of essays.

If you like social history, or write historic history from the mid-19th Century this book contains a wealth of sentimental information.

Reveries of a Bachelor is no longer in print. You might be able to find a copy online, on eBay, or maybe at your local used bookstore. Some people are asking over $100 for a copy but I know you can find one on eBay for under $10.

This sweet, and sometimes silly book will transport you to another time. Fix a tall drink and spend an hour or two with it under a shade tree or on your back porch with your cat or dog at your feet.

ik

Author I. K. Marvel

Artful Players
Artistic Life in Early San Francisco

by Brigitta Hjalmarson

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I love this book so much.

From the book jacket: With a handful of wealthy Gold Rush barons as indulgent patrons, an active community of artist appeared in San Francisco almost overnight. A subculture of artistic brilliance and social experimentation was the result in essence, a decades-long revelry which finally ended with the 1906 earthquake. 

Unfortunately when most people think about art from 1849 – 1906 they think of French, or Italian, or German art. Or they think of artist in the Eastern United States. But the real story, the personalities, the talent, and the fun was in California, specifically San Francisco down to Monterey, and even in Sacramento.

This book is non-fiction but it is a well written story and oh so fun to read. You’ll be transported in time with the adventures of Jules Travrnier, Thomas Hill, William Keith, Julian Rix, Grace Hudson, Theodore Wore, Oscar Wilde, and others. It was a time and place where both men and women could break out of the normal constraints and be the artists they wanted to be. Yes, there was drama, and the guys still didn’t want the girls to play in their club house, but it was an amazing time. It is a time and place you won’t want to leave. So pack your tuxedo, your camping gear, and your paint brushes and join the fun in Artful Players.

I read this book in January but I know I’ll be reading it again soon, just to savor it and get in the details once more.

Note: This book is available on Amazon for about $30. You can get a nice copy for a lot less on eBay or other online non-Amazon book sellers. Also check with your local used bookstores.

Chronicles of The One Trilogy

Book 1 Year One

Book 2 Of Blood and Bone

By Nora Roberts

I have book one and two of this Nora Roberts trilogy. Book 3 comes out later this year. I have to admit that I’m a fan of Nora Roberts trilogies. This post appocolyptic series includes magic, romance, and no doubt some nice twists and turns. I haven’t read either books yet. These are on my summer reading list. I will no doubt read them with tall cool drinks on my back deck undisturbed by two or four legged visitors.

I absolutely LOVE the J.D. Robb “In Death” series, and am of course waiting for the next book to come out.

 

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I will never shame anyone about what they read (if you want me to I can give you my shameful awful reading list of books I violently dislike.) I like to read just about anything. My goal is to give you some fun and interesting suggestions, and share books I’ve enjoyed, found curious, or think I’m going to enjoy.

So until next Monday – have fun and happy reading.

And you know, you can always read my blog anytime you want. With over 2,000 posts it is guaranteed to keep you entertained.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

summerreading

 

Frogs, Love, and Hell

I believe I’ve used the frog story before, but I shall tell it again.

Put a cold cast iron skillet on a cold burner on your stove. Gas works best. Place a large, live, cold blooded frog in the center of the skillet. Use a good sized one – 10-12 inches. Turn on the heat ever so low, then gradually turn it up. The frog will sit until it gets blazing hot and it’s feet and belly stick to the cast iron and it is cooked.

This is what happens to people in this heat (we’re expecting over 100 all week and over 110 F on some days). Elderly people and others who are not always aware will sit in the heat like the frog until they cook. They’ll forget to jump out of the pan, or in the case of some folks, forget to turn on the air conditioning or fan. Or they’ll forget to call for help because they won’t realize they need help.

My neighbor and dear friend Kelly came over tonight with a couple of cold drinks (bless her). She isn’t a Vampire like we are. She suspects we’re different but can’t quite put a finger on it. She also has a ghost in her house (yes, that ghost.)

We sat for a while as she told me of her elderly mother and the heat. Her mother forgets to turn on the air conditioner. Her mother obsesses about bad neighbors but will not let her children or helpers put anything over the fence so to keep out the eyes of those bad neighbors. She asked Kelly to come over (it was 110 outside) to cut down a tree. Kelly said no. Her mother doesn’t know what yard the tree is growing in. Kelly tells her not to go outside and check because it is too hot and because she’ll fall and end up in the hospital – again. The same conversation has happened over and over – with a different plant, a hose, a stray cat, an unfamiliar car parked on the street, or something else that Kelly will either have to deal with or talk her way out of.

She wishes her mother would move to a house where she won’t worry about bad trees and bad neighbors and expensive up keep. Kelly has suggested a smaller home near Kelly and the grand kids. It would be nice with all sorts of beautiful features and a lovely garden within walking distance of Kelly’s home. The kids could visit anytime. Her mother refuses. So Kelly must hear about trees and drive to her mom’s to get the mail, and give up her Saturday fun time. Saturday fun time is important for working moms and all moms and busy women who work, and well, it is important for everyone.

She wishes she could travel and do fun things with her mother. She wishes they could talk more of things that are positive and fun – things that are not bodily functions or other unpleasant things that only bring Kelly stress.

Sometimes the heat can suck the fun out of everything. The heat of being a caretaker can do the same. It is exhausting. Especially if the caretaker has children of her own. Kelly told her kids to put her on an ice flow if she ever got to the point where she couldn’t take care of herself. She asked them to shoot her if she ever lost her sense of humor. I gave her a hug. We talked for another house about books we’ve read this summer. We agree that everyone MUST read “Beautiful Ruins.” Then she went home to spend time with her own teenage children (good friends with my kids.)

After slipping on the kitchen floor today on an unknown object and landing on my back, I lay there thinking that I’d better call The Elders. They’re ancient and sometimes don’t use the best judgement.

Eleorna and Tellias, frail and gentle, were fine. Their neighbor had brought over shaved ice flavored with basil and rosemary. God bless him. They remembered to bring their old dog in and give him plenty of water. They didn’t drive today because sometimes they forgot how to turn on the air conditioner and the sun was too bright and they had lost the keys again, so they stayed home. And they turned on the air conditioner in their beautiful 143 year old house and slept in each other’s arms like young lovers.

I’m always afraid that I’ll drop by their house and find nothing but their ashes. I’m afraid someone will take advantage of them. I’m afraid that one day they might be gone and I will have a broken heart that will never go away.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

_________________________________

 

For more on the elders in my life and dealing with the elderly (with humor or not) see the links below:

Just stuff – musings on life, kids, me, stuff

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Juliette aka Vampire Maman

I’ve been … things are changing quickly around here.

I’ve been spending time with the elders Eleora and Tellias. They’re extremely old. They’re forgetful and need time and care.

Clara is spending her last summer at home before going to the big prestigious difficult to get into university in Southern California (NO not any of the ones involved with the cheating scandals.) Unlike her brother who went off to college with his BFF, she is looking for housing and searching out potential roommates. She is also getting ready to go to the regional championships for her sport then on to the national championships. She is also working and spending a lot of time with her boyfriend, and with me.

Teddy, my husband is working a lot, and diving into a lot of new things. I don’t talk a lot about Teddy, other than his good looks and winning personality. Did I mention his good looks and winning personality.

The eldest child is home on and off after his first year in graduate school. His BFF Randy is still his BFF. They have girlfriends. That is plural girlfriends. I keep out of it.

My writing consortium WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) is coming out with our THIRD horror anthology soon. I’ll keep you posted. I believe that will be our 12th book.
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Summer always brings mixed feelings for Vampires. The weather brings more people out, in fewer clothes. That makes meals easier. Then again, it is hot and bright and we need gallons of sunscreen and I’ve never liked the extreme heat. But with the heat comes flowers and I love my flowers.

So anyway, I am reorganizing my life along with everyone else so I hope to bring more news, stories, thoughts, and interesting blog posts this summer.

One thing I am doing is spending a lot of time at the art museum. Fun stuff. Vampires love art, so of course we support all of our local museums and art events.

In the mornings I love to sit on my deck before dawn with my coffee and listen to the birds. I feel, I KNOW, I’ve done a great job preparing my little birdies for the big outside world. My chicks have spread their wings and are now flying on their own.

Parenting, and writing about parenting has been such a huge part of my life for the past 23 years that I now find myself at a loss for words, as the last one finished up community college and is now leaving… moving 450 miles away. Hey, at least I know there are plenty of cheap flights down her way, and it isn’t really that far of a drive.

OK, I’m done. Time to go out and plant more sunflowers. Yes, it is an odd thing to think about – a Vampire planting sunflowers, but we do all kinds of unexpected things. If you’re a Vampire you’ll understand.

Have fun,

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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

 

Midweek Summer Reading: Ian Rutledge Series by Charles Todd

Ian Rutledge has returned from WW1 and is back to his job as an inspector with Scotland Yard. The woman he loves has left him. The ghost, only he can see of Corporal Hamish MacLeod is in his head, or riding in the back seat of his car. The war is over but violent death is still part of his life. His sister Francis is always there for him and always a delight.

I love these books. Right now I’m reading “A Pale Horse” which takes place in 1920. The characters are alive and believable. The story lines are captivating. If you’re looking for a new series (especially fans of Nigel the Ghost) you’ll like love these books.

The author is a mother/son team. They do a magnificent job.

The first Book in the series is A Test of Wills : Ian Rutledge, returned home from the trenches of the Great War, loses his fiancée Jean after long months in hospital with what is now called PTSD, and faces a bleak future. Fighting back from the edge of madness, he returns to his career at Scotland Yard. But Chief Superintendent Bowles is determined to break him. And so Rutledge finds himself in Warwickshire where the only witness to the murder of Colonel Harris is a drunken ex-soldier suffering from shell shock Rutledge is fighting his own battles with the voice of Corporal Hamish MacLeod in his head, survivor’s guilt after the bloody 1916 Battle of the Somme. The question is, will he win this test of wills with Hamish—or is the shell shocked witness a mirror of what he’ll become if he fails to keep his madness at bay?

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For more information go to: https://charlestodd.com/the-history-of-inspector-ian-rutledge/

 

Happy reading.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman