Fire And The Cool Dark Places Of Summer

With summer we don’t welcome in the fire season, but fire season is here none the less.

I had to go downtown this morning, and from the freeway saw two plumes of fire coming up as if the entire world was on fire or giant pits down to Hell had opened up. From the color of the smoke it looked like grass fires. A larger fire just north of here has burned maybe 12,000 acres. I’m not sure, it keeps growing. We’ll soon start to hear of more fires in all directions. After the devastation last year in Sonoma and Napa Counties, Lake County and other areas in California it seems even more tragic for it to start all over again.

Behind my home we’ve cut back the brush. I’ve cleared my property. We’ve put in fire sprinklers.

As I drove along the freeway looking at the smoke plume in the distance I saw a religious billboard. It just seemed weird, you know the smoke and the message all at once.

This week missionaries and members of several churches (you know who I’m talking about) have been coming around and leaving pamphlets. A few years ago yellow jackets swarmed a nice pair of men who came around to tell me about the Bible. I’m often tempted to tell them we’re Vampires. Not that we’re evil. Oh we are so misunderstood. Another reason why most folks don’t know we’re real.

But back to the nice people who smile and ask me too many personal questions about my beliefs,  what I really need to ask is for them to pray that we don’t have the fire devastation that we have had in the West for the past few years – from Canada to Mexico it has been horrible.

Right now I can smell smoke but I’m not sure where it is from. The sky is too hazy to tell.

When my brother Val and I were teens, around fourteen and fifteen (1873 or 74) we found a way to keep cold in the hot burning summer days.

He stole the key to a church basement (which is no longer there) and a way to get into a seldom used private chapel. Bodies would be put there before burial to keep from rotting so quickly in the summer heat. Also food would be stored in another section behind locked doors.

Yes, it was horrible and wrong for any teens, and we’re Vampires so that even adds more to the wrongness of it all, but we didn’t hurt anyone. Our parents would have hit the roof, but that is another post.

I’d lay as still as death on the cool floor. My skin seemed to melt, not like candle wax, but like burning hard sealing wax. Hair twisted around my neck and clung to my forehead. I couldn’t open my eyes.

Suddenly an icy cold shroud covered me. I sank into the floor even more. A relief to my burning Hell had come.

I could hear my brother Val laughing.

“Thank you,” I whispered. “I thought I was going to absolutely melt.”

Val lay down on the floor beside me and pulled the icy wet sheet over the both of us.

“I hate the heat,” I said to him.

“I know you do,” he replied.

We lay in the dark, on the cold marble floor. The triple digit summer air encased us, drying out the wet sheet. I hooked my index finger with his as we lay as still as death together, trying to find some comfort.

With my eyes still closed I could hear footsteps coming into the room. I couldn’t will myself to move. I was so hot and so uncomfortable.

I’m not a creature who has a wide range of temperature control. The heat makes me want to hibernate or go into a coma.

I could feel someone lift the sheet from our still faces. We opened our eyes wide, not with our natural color, but with solid black. You know, the old black-eyed children trick. It works every time.

A gasp and a cry filled the air, then the sound of the poor lady running away from us.

Val threw back the sheet and propped himself up on his arm. Looking towards the doorway he laughed. “She thought we were dead.”

“And so we are, well sort of,” I answered looking at his pale face, made even paler by the dark hair falling over his forehead.

Today, about ninety summers later the heat still shuts me down. My daughter mentioned that today.

“Dad said you never did well in the heat.”

“No. I don’t.” And that is true as I sit here burning up with my hands sticking to the computer keyboard.

Every single summer the heat rises to triple digits F-ing Farenheit. And every single summer the hot walls of heat hit me so hard that every cell in my body wants to shut down. It should be no surprise, especially since I choose to live here. Then again, it is hot everywhere in the West, aside from the coast and the mountains. Maybe one day I’ll pack up and move, but until then, there are wet sheets and ice.

Oh, one more note, as a public service announcement. When it gets hot PLEASE make sure your dogs don’t end up with burnt feet. If it is too hot for you to walk on the hot pavement with bare feet it is too hot for your dogs. My friend Amelia in Las Vegas used to put booties on her old dog for walks in the hot desert neighborhoods. And triple check their water – cat water too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Solstice

Summer Solstice

Summer Pinup

 

Today is the first day of summer. It doesn’t mean we’re going to have a chanting ceremony to ancient gods or seek out rocks to hug. We’re Vampires, so we’re not chanters. The first day of summer means the Giants are playing the Padres tonight.

This morning was special. I took the dog out at 5:00 a.m. this morning. The sky was just starting to light up. Just as the sun showed itself over the edge of the hills I heard an eagle cry out. Welcome summer.

Welcome a new day. Welcome 100 degree F plus weather.

My dog has gone into a deep depression because I no longer take her everywhere with me. She doesn’t understand that it is too hot to leave her in the car, even with the windows rolled down. Poor baby.

We will do what we must do to keep cool, just hoping that nobody will end up being trapped under cool crawl spaces, only to have someone (me) rescue them fifty years later. I stress this because when my brother Aaron and his “friend” Austin come across some dried up old Vampire I’m the one they call because they’re too big to get up under there.

“Never volunteer to crawl under a house,” I tell my children. “Unless it is someone you know. But it won’t be someone you know because you’ll make sure all of your friends are smart enough not to do anything like that.”

Summer is a time for night walks, and night swims. I wish it was also a time for night blooming flowers but not so much in my yard. Of all things, I am a collector of day lilies. I’m also growing sunflowers but don’t expect blooms until September.

In the meantime here are a few of my blooms. Vampires are fantastic gardeners. I bet you didn’t know that about us. We feed our plants with water and great amounts of love from our cold unbeating hearts.

 

 

We think of a lot of things in the summer. Two of those things are frogs and heat. 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 – like a great big bull frog. 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 105 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.

If you have anyone in your world who is elderly, or otherwise needs help, please check on them in the hot weather. Make sure they are getting plenty of liquids and are staying cool. Local park and recreation districts often have events, such as free movies, during the week for seniors and others. There are also libraries and other public places people can go to for a few hours to read and cool off. Our you can check and make sure your loved one has turned on the air conditioning. Depression era babies who are now elderly often refuse to turn on the air conditioner because they’re afraid it might cost a few extra pennies – even if they can afford it. PLEASE convince them otherwise.

If they’re vampires they’ll just dry up, but that is a fairly easy fix. If they’re regular humans they could become extremely ill or die.

So please. Check in on them. Call them. Take them out for ice cream. Show that you care. It could be a matter of life or death.

Also, remember when it is blistering hot outside your dog’s paws will burn on hot streets and sidewalks. Take your pooch out in the mornings or evenings, or get it booties. Nobody needs a trip to the veterinarian.

Summer is here. It is a time of summer love. It is a time of fun. It is a time for vacations, breaks, and concerts in the park. Enjoy it for what it is. But shouldn’t we just be enjoying everything for what it is. OK not everything. No. Not everything. But you know what I mean.

Awww man, it’s time for summer music and a road trip.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Short Story Sunday: Sunday Coffee

I saw something on YouTube in a church where little children were speaking in tongues. I’d love to see that. Seriously. I can hear them saying, “Mama I spoke in tongues, can we go to Dairy Queen now?” or “Daddy, I rolled my eyes back real far. Can I play with the rattle snakes now?”

Delilah sat with a glass of unsweetened iced coffee, listening to people who sat around her. She loved eavesdropping.

“Sandy said her daughter Kylee called her everyday from college and cried. Kylee is so lonely. I asked her if any of her daughter’s friends from high school were there and she said no.”

“Oh my God, that sounds like something Kylee would do. She has been posting all over social media pictures with friends. She’s having a great time in college. “

Be it a coffee shop, a church, or any public place, Delilah would sit and listen, and wait.

There are so many homeless camps by the river this summer. They’re ruining the area around Gateway Park.

Delilah listened. There was an opportunity, then again she would only go there if she was desperate. She texted a friend who liked things a little rougher than she did.

She smiled at a nice looking man who got up to leave, with his book and coffee-to-go refill. He smiled back. She’d seen him there before. It was an opportunity. She knew he’d walked. She knew he lived close by, in a neat little Victorian house, with a cat, and nobody else. They chatted. She walked with him. Fall was coming soon. She could smell the pumpkin spice in his coffee. He was telling her about his garden. She said she’d love to see it. Then she smiled and thought of the taste of pumpkin spice. Maybe. When one was a vampire you never knew what you’d hear or taste next.

~ end

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Summer TV Update (with Vampires, guilty pleasures, cooking, movies, AGT, and more)

Fall is just around the corner. I know that because I am painfully aware that books for the fall quarter for two college aged kids will run around $1,600 – $2,000, maybe a little less if they are lucky enough to get used books. But on a good note, the summer TV season is still in full swing.

I know I’m not the only person on the planet who is NOT watching Game of Thrones. I was turned off the first season by all of the gratuitous doggy style sex in every single episode. Really? Come on folks mix it up. I think that is an HBO thing. Seriously it gets annoying after a while (like after the first five or six times within an hour.) There were also a couple of other annoying things. I tried to read the first book and couldn’t get through it due to the writing style. It was well written, but I just couldn’t get into it. Hey, I have read a lot of fantasy, more than most, and a lot of difficult literature (which I loved) but I couldn’t get into Game of Thrones. Sort of like I can’t get into any Wally Lamb book (sort of like waiting in Hell, I mean on hold with any technical support department with any cable company, phone company, or eBay.) But if you like it then go for it. Have fun. As us Vampires say, “sink your teeth into it.” And there are dragons. Dragons are always exceptionally cool.

I also don’t watch Dr. Who. Never have. Never will. I will not discuss the subject. Period.

By the way, I have a funny bit. This morning my husband answered the phone at some early still-dark hour. He said, “Microsoft Technical Support,” and presto – the caller was gone. HA HA HA. I love that man.

So what stupid things have I been watching this summer? Not a lot. Mainly movies. Mainly small indie films. I’ll do another post for summer theater films (maybe) later. This is what I’ve watched and highly recommend that I’ve seen on cable.

Juliette’s Short List for Summer Movies You Can Watch On Your TV or Computer:

  • The Fundamentals of Caring
  • Shimmer Lake
  • I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore
  • Tangerine

Note: All of these are small Independent films. Good stuff. None of them will make you want to strangle me after you see them. Please see the ratings and descriptions before you watch them with kids. 

 

The Bachelorette

Late one night, while I was alone, I discovered The Bachelorette. I discovered Rachael. Who couldn’t love Rachael. She is a beautiful, lovely, charming, sweet woman from Texas.

I usually don’t get hooked into this stuff but I did. I watched it in secret without family or friends. I wouldn’t admit to anyone that I was following Rachael’s adventures. But I couldn’t stop watching it.

You know, if it was a guy picking out a girl from the usually room full of chicks in too high of heels and too tight dresses I wouldn’t have watched. But this was different. This was so different. I’m not going to even try to explain today. Maybe later. Not today (I have stuff to do and need to finish this post.)

She started out with about thirty guys who all wanted to marry her, or at least get the chance to find out if they wanted to marry her. Each week she’d give a rose to the guys she wanted to keep in the running. The guys all stayed together in a stable, I mean house. Some were nice. Several were real douches. Some spent their time back stabbing other guys. That got them nowhere. In the meantime Rachael went around the world having romantic adventures with the fellows and FINALLY picked the last THREE. Oh what a heart break and what a sweet ending.

She picked…one of my favorites…the right choice… Bryan. Woo Hoo. I wish them a long happy life together.

I hope it works out for them when reality sets in. You know the reality I’m talking about. How will they handle it when one of them gets sick our injured? How will she deal with his weird high school friend Kyle? What about their morning routines, holidays, decorating styles, views on how they’ll raise their kids, where they’ll raise their kids, morning coffee breath, what they watch on TV and a variety of weird things? Life after dating can get complicated – yes, that is what marriage is. Marriage is rewarding but it isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work, and it isn’t always romantic.

I still can’t believe I got sucked into this. Awww, must be the romantic in me. Hey, Peter, dude, you blew it.

America’s Got Talent

This is my flagship show. What I mean by that is that when I first started this blog back in 2012 I started blogging about this show every single week during the summer. All of us (me, family, friends) would gather around and watch. I publish comments from the peanut gallery – unfiltered and unapologetic. The honest truth. The show is good this year and now in the judges cuts for the top acts. I’ll be posting on it again… and YES WITH COCKTAILS. Do a search for previous blog posts on this show.

I have to add one note about this season’s “golden buzzer” choices. A small girl with a big voice sang a lovely song and received the “golden buzzer.” My daughter looked the girl up on Google and found that she’d been in talent shows all over Asia. No wonder she was so good on stage, so slick, and utterly fantastic in a practiced and staged way. Her parents have made her into an industry – starting with what they named her (after a famous singer.) Unlike many of the other children we’ve seen on the show I feel this child is exploited by her parents. There is nothing natural about her. This isn’t talent. This is force fed performance – like a trained dog or monkey. She is their cash cow – raised to be a cash cow. By the time she is 23 she’ll be washed up, but who cares – mom and dad can retire in comfort. It is too bad the guest judge who pressed the golden buzzer couldn’t have seen through the blatant exploitation of a small child.

Vampire Cocktails – two parts mixer, one part blood. Cheers. And never drink and drive.

Next Food TV Star

This season had a bunch of likable folks (except two who were just annoying.) In my opinion it was the best season ever. They are now down to the last three. All men. All fun. All guys you’d want to hug and have as neighbors. All great. My bets are on Jason, a wonderful guy from Tennessee with an accent that will melt your heart away. I could just eat him up. This man can cook and entertain. Let’s see what happens.

If you don’t want to win on this show do the following:

  1. Refer to yourself as “Mama” something.
  2. Talk non-stop about a distant country you identify with, that nobody has ever heard of, even though you are 5th generation American. Then rather than educating us, and sharing with us the wonders of your beautiful family culture, be so confusing about it that nobody knows what the crap you’re talking about.
  3. Be totally clueless in the kitchen.
  4. Show the other contestants how ignorant and helpless you are.
  5. Act surprised that you’re going to be on TV and have to talk about your food.
  6. Don’t know what a vanilla bean looks like.
  7. Make the other contestants want to cry when they are paired up with you.
  8. Don’t follow directions.
  9. Act like a Martha Stewart wannabe.
  10. Make some sort of shrimp and grits for every single challenge. Yes, we know you’re from the South, but I know damn well that folks from the South eat a lot more than grits.

Preacher

I love this show. I fucking love this show.

Life Below Zero

I’m hooked. Love Sue. Love the others too. But I wish they’d show more than just hunting and fishing. I’d like to see other aspects of their lives as well. We get a hint, but I’d like more. OK I admit, I watch for the foxes at Sue’s and the puppies with everyone else.

Forged in Steel

People make knives. No drama. They are craftsmen and women. They are awesome. Wow. Check it out.

Ink Master

Yes, we’re watching this weird and wonderful train wreck of a show. This year is a team effort (teams of two in competition against each other.) There is less drama and better ink than on previous shows. Thank you producers for raising the bar a little. And did I say better artists? Yes, they’re better than we’ve seen in years. Like most shows this is just something we watch together, talk about while we watch it, and don’t take too seriously. It is family time. Don’t like to watch it alone cause it just wouldn’t be fun. And Dave is still hot.

If this Vampire wants to tattoo your image on his arm…you’ll have to check out his entire body first. Hey, look at the Vampire Maman tattoo (yes, he has a tattoo.) Is that me on his arm? Hell yeah!

 

So have a nice week everyone, and try to get outside too. Have fun – as only the summer can give you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Vampire Road Trips

No, I haven’t been away at some Vampire High Council meeting deciding what to do about nasty Vampires from another tribe, or discussing all of those flea bitten, tick covered Werewolves. Screw that. We don’t even DO THAT. All of the blood dripping lofty ceremony laced fiction out there gets people thinking we’re living in the 15th Century, or all dress like Victorians ALL THE TIME. I’ve been busy and we’re in a heat wave from Hell right now.

We’ll be on not one, not two, but three road trips this summer. The only place we’re not going where it is blazing and stupidly hot is Alaska.

Which brings me to a favorite subject: Vampire Road trips

Some suggest we bring freeze dried blood with us. Yes, that can be obtained by our usual sources but why? First of all we’ll just throw a cooler in the car and keep the fresh stuff on ice. We can also be guaranteed of a steady supply of truckers, hitch hikers, and Airbnb hosts.

The main thing we avoid are hookers in small desert towns (I kid you not.) It is seriously sad to see young women out trolling for truckers in the middle of the day wearing cuts offs, fishnet stockings, and heels. I look at them and wonder, “how the fuck did you end up here?”

We give a nod to the Vampires who live along those mysterious roads that seem to lead to nowhere. We give a nod to the lone Vampires in the small towns scattered across the highways. You know those towns where you wonder what people do there, and why they stay.

We will also stop to see friends along the way, both Vampires and regular folks we know.

All of my bitchiness aside, I love road trips. Driving across country with a kid (even if the kid will have just turned 18) is an amazing opportunity for both parent and child.

On our trips we’ve discussed (in-depth) music, history, art, social studies, geology, zombies, politics, cars, interesting people we’ve known, my own personal history, ways to murder someone when writing a novel, serial killers, movies, relationships, people we know, nature, dogs, cats, current events, and we wonder about things we see along the way.

We’ve seen two exceptionally handsome young men at a rest stop and wondered what two exceptionally handsome young men were doing out in the middle of the desert. We’ve stopped at a giant truck stop sort of place near the Colorado/Nebraska border and wondered where everyone was going. We’ve met a woman who said Lincoln, NE was the largest city she’d ever been to. We’ve seen roadside art, weird mysterious monuments, and a giant crater. We’ve gone to National Parks, and city parks. We’ve driven across Indian Reservations. We’ve driven through small depressed towns, and through some of the most expensive real estate in the country. We’ve been to Temple Square in Salt Lake City and stayed with a gay couple there. We’ve been to interesting little coffee houses that serve lavender scented lattes and vegan muffins. We’ve been on roads that seem to go on forever across the deserts and plains. It is hot because it is summer. It is dry because we’re driving through the West, only as far as Nebraska.

We’ll be in Nebraska this year as well. Then we’ll arrive home and a few days later head off for Alaska. But first we have to go to Fresno for an event. There is no other reason I’d go to Fresno. But in defense of Fresno, like all places, we will find interesting things to do.

So take a trip, even a day trip. You’ll learn something, and maybe even see some Vampires. We love road trips. Just don’t expose too much skin or you’ll get either sunburned or bitten.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

This guy looks interesting. Let’s show him something REALLY scary!

 

 

 

 

Heat, Religion, Frogs, and Old People

Summer is Here! Bake it baby (or if you’re smart you’ll stay someplace cool)

 

I could wax poetically about temperature but it is in the triple digits farenehight outside. Any wax is going to melt and I’m not feeling too poetic.

Yesterday afternoon, a man came to my church asking about my religious beliefs. I ended up with a brochure about “original sin,” something which I do not believe in. Sure some people are born evil. Some are born without souls, and I’ll freely admit that. I’ve met them. But the average little baby isn’t chock full of sin, like a dead deer full of maggots on a hot summer day, so don’t even make that comparison or even suggest to me EVER that babies are full of sin. Sheesh.

I should have given the poor man a glass of water but he was so crisp and unflappable looking that I assumed he had a cooler in his car (which could have been full of beer and Jello shots as far as I know.)

At the time I was holding a large German Shepard by her collar with the door cracked open. I should have never answered but it is usually a friend or a neighbor when someone comes a calling, especially when it is so stupidly hot outside.

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