Giving Thanks

Foggy night full of mystery

Brings a morning of sunshine

And a day for giving THANKS.

A celebration that will last

Far into the Foggy night

And remain in our hearts.

 

 

Thank you to all of you who have visited this blog and made it a success (and fun).

And thank you to all of my fellow bloggers for keeping me entertained and enlightened and amused! 

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampires, Party Favors, Family, Friends, Thanks, and a Recipe for Swiss Chard.

Back in the 1880’s around the time of Jack the Ripper, my brother Valentine and I spent some time in London. We were in our 20’s out having fun and getting into more trouble than I want to mention tonight. There, in London, we met another young American Vampire, named Pleasant Van Dusen. Pleasant and I became lovers. He was handsome, cultivated, fashionable, sexy, and I hate to admit, but a bit more of an asshole than I needed. But at the time we worked well together, especially with the party scenes of both elegant Vampires and warm blooded folks.

We were young. We were Americans. We were full of too much joy and light for most Vampires we met there. Truly, we were, and of course the others, the English, and European Vampires found us extremely fascinating.

On cold November evening, dressed in our best formal party wear Pleasant and I attended a party that was promised to be spectacular. Upon entering the ball room of the beautiful mansion we were greeted with the sight of a low table about ten feet long, covered with all sorts of food. There were cakes, berries, apples, pastries full of cream and more fruit, chicken pies, tiny roasted potatoes, breads, and muffins of all kinds. Around the table sat at least two dozen small children, dressed in frilly fancy clothing, eating away without any adults saying no.

Of course not. The only adults in the room were Vampires, and the children were very warm blooded.

Pleasant and I looked at each other, then looked again at the children. This was not what we expected. The host and hostess greeted us with a giddy excitement that was unusual for English Vampires of the time. They had obtained two dozen children from different sources. It would be such a rare and wonderful night of feasting after the little darlings were done with their own party.

I have to say that by different sources I mean children of the poor, without parents, or with parents who were more than willing to sell their own children to well dressed, attractive people with a lot of money. These Vampires, I found later, had their sources. There was no shortage of children to be purchased – no questions asked.

Pleasant smiled and introduced me to his friends. They were lavish with their attention on me, especially after they realized that I was one of those rare Vampires who was born a Vampire, not made one after the fact.

To make a long story short, sort of, when the time came to pick a child and feast upon it’s young and delicate blood, I feigned illness. A blood bourne disease, no doubt from an opium user or some other drug, Pleasant explained to them. As we were ready to leave, coats in hand, the host handed us two bundles.

“One of each. A boy and a girl. Consider them party favors,” said our host.

In our carriage on the way home we discovered we had a skinny baby girl of about eight months, and a talkative boy who said he was four years old.

The boy said he lived in a house with his father and five or six women. He didn’t know which one was his mother. He said a pretty woman, with pretty clothes, who smelled like flowers, gave his father real money, then she took him to the party. Before the party a group of maids gave all of the children baths, then put them in clean fancy clothing. It had been great fun with more food than any of them had ever seen.

We arrived back at the house I was sharing with my brother Val.

We told our story to Val, who was both disgusted and amused.

“What are you going to do with the children? You know we can’t keep them,” said Val.

“I don’t know,” I told him.

Then Pleasant, in typical Pleasant fashion, said, “I don’t care what you do with them but you need to get rid of them as soon as possible.”

“Me?” I asked.

“Yes, you Juliette. I have to get something to eat before I starve to death. I’ll be back in a few hours.” And with that Pleasant Van Dusen left into the night in search of fresh blood, but not from children.

Val glared at the door. “Typical Pleasant. Of course he left those children with you.”

“Am I going to live you now? Are you going to be my new parents?” The boy called out.

“I think I know someone who might take them in. She doesn’t have children her own. God knows she and her husband have been trying. This might just be a blessing in disguise,” said Val.

“Are you her Vampire?” I asked my brother.

He smiled. “Yes, I am her Vampire. She owes me.”

Val and I gathered up the children. The boy said he was called Billy. The girl had no name. I held her tight against me. She was so warm, and smelled like a bit of heaven.

We dropped the children off at the home of Val’s friends, a lovely women called Lillian and her husband the Marquis of Lampeaus.

Val spoke to them while I kept the children quiet. He used his powers of persuasion to convince the childless couple  to keep the children as their own.

Like I said, I’m trying to keep this story short.

Right before dawn Pleasant came back into the house. He made love to me in my bed, his hair smelling cigar smoke, his breath of fresh blood. He brought me a bottle of Poet’s blood, the first I’d ever had.

Then he said, “Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We should celebrate, with Val and maybe a few other friends.”

And so we did.

And we continue to, but now I’m married to Teddy, and Pleasant Van Dusen is with someone who fortunately is not me.

Occasionally, like on Thanksgiving, we, Vampires eat things that are not blood, or things that go with blood. One of these is Swiss chard.

Way back in 2012, I shared a recipe for my Thanksgiving Swiss Chard. I haven’t fixed it for years, but hey, it is a good source of something green for your belly (and heart.)

Juliette’s Swiss Chard

  • About a half pound of bacon (or more to taste, use whatever kind you want but a good thick cut pork bacon works best for me)
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh lemon juice (about ¾ cup) or balsamic vinegar (cranberry flavored is nice)
  • 1-4 table spoons fresh garlic chopped – to your own taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • One onion – chopped sauted until translucent.
  • Hand full of roasted chopped walnuts.
  • 4 bunches Swiss chard, cut in 1 inch pieces. It is up to you if you include the stems (I don’t, my mom does). I also add in a hand full of flat leafed kale and sometimes some spinach.

Put some olive oil, a couple of table spoons of the stuff, in a large skillet and heat it up nice and hot. Throw in the garlic and chard and crumbled cooked bacon. Toss it around until the chard starts to wilt a little. Throw in about a table spoon of butter, the onion, and a little bit of the bacon fat. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Then drizzle with the lemon juice or vinegar, season with salt and pepper. Top with walnuts. Taste as you go to make it just how you like it. Simple and easy. That’s all.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. And yes, the children lived long happy lives with their new parents. They really did.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: A Ray of Hope (a Thanksgiving Story)

Thanksgiving is in Tahoe this year. My husband Justin’s family has a large beach front cabin. It is a 5,000 square foot cabin and two other smaller A frames within walking distance. Yes, they’re insanely rich, at least to me. They’re also incredible loving and giving and have taken me into their family as one of their own.

My mom left when I was five, taking my twin baby brother and sister with her. Dad said she said she was bored with her life. Bored with my dad and bored with me. I only saw her once after that. She’d poisoned the minds of my siblings by telling them that my dad was abusive. Her new husband gladly went along and encouraged it. My brother is now a successful motivational speaker. My sister is a teacher. I don’t talk to them. They don’t want to talk to me, but they like to talk about me, or somebody they say is me. I don’t care anymore.

When I was growing up Thanksgiving were small, like my grandparent’s two bedroom house – Just my dad, Grandpa and Grammy, and Uncle Ray. We’d gather around the kitchen table in Grammy’s kitchen and have a feast on old chairs covered with yellow vinyl. The table would be covered with turkey, green bean casserole, jellied cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with little marshmallows browned on top. Everything except the turkey came out of a can except the wine. The wine was from a box with ice cubes. It was great.

Uncle Ray lived with Grandpa and Grammy. He believed that at the age of 15 he was abducted by aliens and taken for a blinding fast tour of the universe and Planet X. Ray believed that Jesus was protecting bigfoot, unicorns and other rarely seen creatures so that when mankind finally killed itself off that those were the creatures who would rule the earth. A great gray wolf would lead dwarves and elves out from their underground kingdoms to live in peace. Aliens from space would set up trade routes to earth and help the new found order prosper.

Despite his weirdness Uncle Ray was accepted into UC Berkley and managed to obtain a degree in Political Science. With his knowledge of politics he began working on his plan for a new world order he’d build along with Jesus and the Bigfoots and elves.

Yes, Uncle Ray was nuts but I adored him. My dad protected him. My grandparents accepted him. The university where he occasionally taught a course tolerated him. He never married so I was the only child there for the holidays.

At night a few hours after pie and watching “Meet Me in St. Louis”, Ray and I would go outside. He’d grab a turkey leg and I’d take a wing. We’d munch on our turkey while Ray pointed out constellations and tell me about his time with the aliens and his love for Jesus.

Ray would always take my hand and solemnly tell me, “Jenna, what I’m telling you is real. I’m not crazy.” Then we’d go inside and have turkey races with some funky wind-up toys my Grandpa got for us. We’d laugh until our sides hurt.

My grandparents and Ray are gone now. Grandpa died in his sleep the year I graduated from college. Grammy had a stroke a few months later while at a prayer group. Three years ago Ray went hiking in Death Valley one spring and vanished. The rangers found his backpack, hiking boots and an empty water bottle. There was a note that said, “Tell Jenna that I love her.”

I still have the note.

Thanksgiving with my family was never fancy or exciting but I knew I was loved.

Right after I graduated away from college my dad remarried. I met my husband Justin and Thanksgiving dishes no longer involved food from cans or vinyl chairs.

This year dad and his wife Gracie went to Montana to visit friends for Thanksgiving. I knew I’d miss them but wished them a good time.

As Justin and I drove up into the mountains I thought about Ray as I looked out the car at the forests. Over the river and through the woods… When I was 16 Ray and I would drive up to the mountains to see the stars. I’d drive. He never learned how. In the cool summer nights we’d stand in a clearing at 8,000 feet and watch the endless show of zillions of stars and watch for shooting stars and satellites. Ray would tell me about the aliens who’d be back to get him. He’d tell me about how the ancient Greeks would navigate ships and come to America to visit. He’d tell me about planets that were inhabited by people so beautiful that our eyes would explode if we looked at them. He’d tell me that he’d been in love with a girl once and kissed her under the stars but she killed herself. He said he’d see her again. The aliens said they had taken her just before her soul was lost. Uncle Ray said to never be sad. He also told me over and over that he wasn’t crazy.

“What are the thinking about?” Justin startled me out of my reverie.

“My Uncle Ray. I miss him.”

Justin put his hand on mine. “I know honey, I know.”

Thanksgiving was spectacular. The food was amazing, the company was wonderful, the day was perfect. I’m blessed to be married into such a great family.

A few hours after dinner, after football and a lot of other fun, I took Justin by the hand and led him to the kitchen. I got myself a smoked turkey wing and gave Justin a leg, then poured two glasses of wine, minus the ice cubes and took him outside to watch the stars.

We talked about what fun we’d had that day. Then we talked about starting our own family, maybe trying to start that week.

A fireball sailed across the sky. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe a meteorite?

Justin held my hand and said, “It’s your Uncle Ray.”

I think it was.

 

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

desert

A Particularly Ill-Tempered Ghost

“I remember my last Thanksgiving. I was dead a week later.”

I looked up from my work at Nigel the Ghost. He’d materialized in the chair across from me in the breakfast nook. Today his black hair was in kind of a side bang across his blue eyes making him look like he was getting ready to sling his guitar over his shoulder and go play in a Punk Pop band somewhere. He was wearing a white shirt with a black vest, and black tie looking rather somber.

When someone tells you something like that words often are difficult to find, especially if it is a particularly ill-tempered ghost.

So I asked the first question that came to mind. “Did you ever figure out who killed you?”

“No. Not a clue. It still pisses me off. I was in the shower and then nothing. Blood running down the drain and the side of my skull was bashed in.”

“How long has it been?”

“Thirty years.”

There was a pause. We looked at each other but nobody said a world. I could hear the clock ticking, and the dog no doubt doing bad things in the back yard like digging a hole the size of Lake Tahoe.

“I hate the holidays. And you’re a Vampire, here forever, and you don’t even eat Turkey.”

“Turkey isn’t really a Vampire kind of thing Nigel.”

“So what do you eat? Small babies? Unsuspecting travelers from other states?”

“Were you this rude when you were alive?”

“No, but I’m doing my best to haunt you with my rudeness since I know I can’t frighten you with loud noises and flying furniture.”

I got up and went to the kitchen for more coffee. I’d made a note to my self to go to Dave’s Bottle Shop later because they are having a huge sale of Poet’s Blood and Philosopher Plasma. I can get 20% off of case price. That also includes wine. In the meantime I had a ghost to deal with, or not. I didn’t have to deal with him.

For as long as I’ve known him I’ve come to expect him to be especially assholish around November and December.

“We could visit your grave if you like. Do you want to watch a movie? I could check Netflix.” I said.

The room grew cold. He brushed his hair out of his face and glared at me.

“What do you want from me Nigel? You know I’m a Vampire. You know I don’t particularly like Ghosts.”

I got half and half out of the refrigerator, and poured it in my coffee.  Nigel followed me. He leaned on the kitchen counter.

“I can see right through you,” I said.

He slammed his fist on the counter, making the entire house shake. “Oh, now you think you know my motivation. Just because you’re a Vampire…”

“No, I can see right through you. You’re transparent. I can see the dog looking through the sliding glass door.”

He lifted his hand and the door opened letting a muddy dog inside. She went to her dog bed and curled up.

I looked at the mud on the carpet.

Nigel ignored the mud. “May I please have a cup of coffee? It would calm my nerves.”

The Ghost sat down at the table with me and held his hands around the hot mug. He took in the smell of the coffee he couldn’t drink. “Thank you. I feel better now.”

He didn’t apologize for his rudeness or the mud. That was fine with me. I don’t expect much from any Ghost, especially Nigel.

He looked up at me and gave me a half smile. “So are you going to blog about how diverse the paranormal community is, and how we all get along, and how everybody should be like us?”

“Nobody reads my blog or listens to me Nigel,” I said.

“It was a stupid idea anyway. Mind if Mary and I come hang out with you on Thursday?”

“Sure, that would be nice. Everybody likes Mary,” I told him.

“Thanks,” he said. “Please note Juliette that I did thank you. This is for Mary as much as it is for me. She likes you.”

Mary is Nigel’s Ghost girlfriend. Long story short, she was murdered in 1701 or sometime around then. They’re a good match. He is sweet when she is around. Love will do that, even to a surly perpetually pissed off ghost.

My family is used to Ghosts. We don’t always like them, but we accept them, as long as they don’t throw furniture around.

I’m never sure what the head count will be for Thanksgiving. All are welcome, even if we aren’t all exactly the same. And even if we are.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

coffee

 

 

Vampire Diary: Fangs Giving

Dear Diary,
I was sitting at a night club bar and a woman sat down next to me. She asked if I was spending the Thanksgiving day with my family.

“I do not know where my family is,” I said.

Then she asked, because people are always curious, “How about your parents?”

“My father is dead,” I told her.

Then she said, “I am so sorry. What about your mom?”

“I have my mother’s heart,” I told her.

I do have my mother’s heart in a box in an upstairs closet. It is now dried up with a silver bladed knife running through it.

I did not tell her that. I told her, “I have a sister, and maybe a cousin I could find. They might be dead. They might be alive. Who can tell?”

She gently put her warm hand on my arm, “What about grandparents Vlad?”

“My Baba. I am sure she is still alive. My Baba is a fighter. I had a wife once too but it has been centuries since I’ve seen her.”

HA HA HA. For my friend, she thinks centuries means a few years. I have not seen my former wife for five hundred years. That is a lot of centuries.

~ Vlad

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Dear Diary,

Tonight I saw my young friends Brittany and Kate. I can say they are friends. I am happy in their company. I drink their blood. They are happy in their ignorance.

We met at a place with loud music. It was too loud like something out of a nightmare. I offered to take the women home in my car because of the rain. As we drove along dark city streets suddenly the women screamed. I stopped. In front of us a car had hit an animal. It continued on. The women got out of the car and grabbed up a small body and brought it into the car. I wrapped it in my coat.

“It is just a puppy,” cried Kate with rain water and tears running down her face.

“It died,” cried Brittany.

I could not let the women be in so much distress. I am a Vampire and my heart is cold, but it is not made of stone and dirt. “I will bury the beast,” I told them.

When I arrived home, after dropping off the women, I put the small gray body in a box. It was still warm. I suddenly thought of my mother who loved all dogs. I went to the closet and took out the jeweled box that contained her heart.

When I was a young man of only thirteen, my mother vanished. Some said she left with a lover. Some said she was killed by the Vampire Hunter Guillaume Morte. Then one night a box was left at the door of the castle with my name on a tag. Young Vlad. It was written in blood. Not my mother’s, I knew the blood was not hers, but the heart, I knew the heart was hers. My father locked himself in his room for a week in great mourning and refused to look at the heart. He told me to put it away, and say her name only in the dead of night.

“Dear Mother, how I miss you,” I whispered as I pulled the blade out of the dried out heart.

The heart vanished with a wisp of red black smoke. Before me stood an apparition of a woman, not my mother, but a ghost of a young woman I had never seen before.

“Who are you?” I asked.

She glared at me. “Who are you?”

“I am Vlad, King of Vampires. Former Kings of Vampires.”

“My name is Jane. I’ve heard of you. You got locked in that crypt for three hundred years. Bummer.”

“How did you know? You’ve been in this box for centuries.”

“I hear things,” she said. “You know, you’ve been carrying me around forever.”

“I thought that was my mother’s heart,” I exclaimed. I did think it was my mother’s heart. How could I have been so mistaken.

“I’m a Werewolf. You know, silver blade, and all that BS. I swear, I’m still pissed off at those guys for stabbing me and cutting out my heart. Damn it. What the Hell is wrong with people?”

I suddenly had a thought. “I have a dog. It is dead but the body is still warm. You could take that body.”

Jane went over to the small body still wrapped in my coat. “That is no dog.” Then she kissed the pup.

“I do not understand,” I said to the ghost.

The pup stood up and walked to me. Then I realized that this was no dog. It was no wolf. It is an animal I have only seen in North America – a coyote.

“She will be your companion, and your familiar,” said Jane. “Her wild soul has left her body so I left her with a piece of Werewolf soul. Hey Vlad, I normally don’t keep company with Vampires, or even like you guys, but thanks for getting me out of that box and freeing my heart. I gotta go. Have fun.” Then Jane vanished into a burst of opalescent light.

The cats walked in large circles around the pup. “I will call her Jane,” I said to them.

The small pup then squatted and peed on my floor.

~ Vlad

__________________

Dear Diary,

The blood of small children and virgins is highly over rated. It lacks in character and depth.

The great feast of Thanksgiving will be here this week. I must prepare. I know almost nothing of this feast. I watch wild turkeys walk in flocks up my street, but these are not the turkeys who will be consumed along with blood red cranberries, bread soaked with broth and cooked until it is dry, and great quantities of root vegetables, and pies.

I will have the blood of poets. I will have the blood of football players. I will have the blood of strong middle-aged women who rule their homes and make the feasts. Then I will sleep it off.

My neighbors asked my Vampire lover Gillian and me to join them in their feast. Gillian asked what we could bring. Blood of course, but Gillian said no. She is bringing roasted yams with garlic and thyme, and a few bottles of Cabernet. She said we must eat a small quantity of food, then have our blood at home. I told her that I know my manners. I am not uncouth or without cultural sensitivity. It makes me angry that sometimes she treats me as if I am a soul-less Vampire of the shadows who is driven by nothing but blood lust.

I even made a joke, the kind that makes one laugh, but Gillian was not amused. I said we would bring blood pudding and blood sausage to the Thanksgiving feast. She said I was disgusting. I made a joke. It was funny. I told her we could bake black birds in a pie. She rolled her eyes at me. I do not understand women and their lack of humor.

When I go out at night among the humans I hear men speaking to each other about their women. Their women treat them like children, questioning their actions, and telling them to behave and use their manners. They are told not to speak of politics, and sports, and automobiles. They talk of building man-caves to escape. This must be a bad situation if they wish to leave the comfort of their homes to live in caves away from women. I wonder about these caves and what motivates the women to drive their men away.

When I return home Gillian greets me with cold passionate kisses and leads me up to our bed. I think I will not have a man-cave.

~ Vlad

________________

Dear Diary,

Today, during the day, I walked the wee Were Souled Coyote pup named Jane to the park in my neighborhood. My two cats followed me with their tails up high.

When I arrived I found myself surrounded by the women who were out walking. There are always women out walking at this park. It is what Modern women do. They walk in serious ways alone or in groups. And they surrounded me.

They said Jane the Were Souled Coyote pup and I were so cute. They said the cats were so cute. I am a grown man, almost six feet tall, how I can be considered cute as a six week old pup or cats I still do not understand. The logic of these women is beyond me. What is this cute. I have yet to find an answer that will satisfy me.

I smiled at them, minus my fangs, with a small wink, and show of my dimples. I have found, even centuries back, that my special smile with a wink makes women weak at the knees and in my power.

Chuck who lives around the corner told me that puppies are “chick magnets.” Chicks are women. I did not know that until recently.

The grown women giggled like girls and all wanted to hold the small coyote pup. When they asked what kind of dog she is I told them a German Shepard, Queensland Healer, Husky mix. I know one, in this modern age is not supposed to keep wild animals, even if one is a Vampire, but this pup is no longer all coyote. She has the soul of a Werewolf, and no longer has her wild coyote pack soul. She only has her lone soul. The full moon has just passed, but I will be ready for the next full moon. I wonder what will happen, if anything. Time will tell.

In the meantime I will continue to earn my dinner with a wink and a smile.

And if cute helps I will do that too, whatever cute may be.

~ Vlad

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Kissed by a Vampire

Click here for all of Vlad’s Vampire Diary Adventures.

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Giving Thanks and Sharing Joy (with Vampires)

This year the Thanksgiving table will be set with:

  • Spice and caramel scented candles
  • Pine cones, weird fancy gourds and rosemary centerpieces.
  • Cranberries
  • Zinfandel and Cabernet
  • Cheese balls and roasted tomato salsa (I bet you didn’t know cheese has balls)
  • Turkey from the smoker outside
  • Poets blood
  • Roasted onion tart with a ground walnut crust
  • Tart apples, sweet pears and pomegranates.
  • Surprise dishes that others will bring (but I know they’ll be good)
  • And a table set with old silver and old friends.

Once again our feast will be simple but the main courses will be good conversation and the joy of being together for no reason other than to enjoy the company of those we love and be thankful that we are free to gather together without fear.

As a rule we don’t have our guests for dinner. It isn’t the way of our Vampire culture, so feel free to drop by (it will be safe.)

My brother Max is already here sitting in the wingback chair, his long legs stretched out, reading something in a binder, and my calico cat in his lap. Garrett is home with a couple of friends from college. They’re upstairs with my youngest Clara, laughing and listening to music.

Tomorrow will be a full moon so we will be watching to hear the howls of our Werewolf friends.

I look out into the woods behind my house, under the oak trees I can see the Ghosts, standing close. Nigel holds Mary’s hands and brings them to his lips. Then he kisses her and they vanish into the dusk off to wherever Ghosts go when they’re feeling romantic. They are so beautiful and so horrible at the same time.

As we give thanks this year let us remember that those who live so far away are not so different than us. My we all one day give thanks together, no matter where we are, or where we belong.

I gave Max a glass of wine and asked him what he was reading.

He smiled, “I’m reading a wonderful book. Your book.”

If Max thinks something is good then it is good. Wow. I’m thankful it is written and that everyone who read it likes it. No, it isn’t based on this blog or my life.

I give him a kiss on his cold cheek. He smiles at me showing just a slight bit of fang. I’m excited that everyone else will be here by Thursday.

I’ll try to cover the entire holiday season starting right now. So more to come… there will be a few glitches but you know how it is.

Oh, one last thing. I’m grateful for all of you – my readers. More than I can express. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Light the evening