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

juliettepurpledress

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.
61747127_2777780292294736_7064107027273875456_n

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

28276254_10213223685085818_8251351024668157784_n

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?

Unknown

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

 

Happy reading.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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

35144695_1712139408822220_269581615267577856_n