Juliette’s Monday Book Club: A Trio of Escapes – Fiction, Travel, Poetry

Under Currents

By Nora Roberts

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I’m currently reading Under Currents.

I’ve been reading books by Nora Roberts for years. I’ve loved her stand alone books. I’ve loved the trilogies. The books in the J.D. Robb In Death Series are my absolute favorites.

This one is different. Below is the official description but that doesn’t describe this book completely. I had a difficult time reading the first few chapters. The descriptions of violence and brutal child abuse were graphic and disturbing. Sure, I read a lot of horror but this was beyond that. I’m not saying don’t read it. Stories of abuse need to be told. Stories of surviving need to be told. Stories of overcoming such horrors need to be told.

Do I like the book? So far so good. I’m still reading. That’s a beautiful thing.

Official Description: For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they’ve come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back…

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.

 

Riding The Iron Rooster
By Train Through China

By Paul Theroux

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Written in 1988, this book was recommended to me by my dad. I couldn’t put it down. Riding The Iron Rooster took me on a live long love of books about travels, but this one always stands out.

Official Description: Paul Theroux, the author of the train travel classics The Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express, takes to the rails once again in this account of his epic journey through China. He hops aboard as part of a tour group in London and sets out for China’s border. He then spends a year traversing the country, where he pieces together a fascinating snapshot of a unique moment in history. From the barren deserts of Xinjiang to the ice forests of Manchuria, from the dense metropolises of Shanghai, Beijing, and Canton to the dry hills of Tibet, Theroux offers an unforgettable portrait of a magnificent land and an extraordinary people.

Riley Love-Lyrics

by James Witcomb Riley

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Years ago, so many I can hardly remember, I picked up a small red volume of poetry at a book store. This one always stuck with me.

Her Beautiful Hands

O your hands–they are strangely fair!
Fair–for the jewels that sparkle there,–
Fair–for the witchery of the spell
That ivory keys alone can tell;
But when their delicate touches rest
Here in my own do I love them best,
As I clasp with eager acquisitive spans
My glorious treasure of beautiful hands!

Marvelous–wonderful–beautiful hands!
They can coax roses to bloom in the strands
Of your brown tresses; and ribbons will twine.
Under mysterious touches of thine,
Into such knots as entangle the soul,
And fetter the heart under such a control
As only the strength of my love understands–
My passionate love for your beautiful hands.

As I remember the first fair touch
Of those beautiful hands that I love so much,
I seem to thrill as I then was thrilled,
Kissing the glove that I found unfilled–
When I met your gaze, and the queenly bow,
As you said to me, laughingly, “Keep it now!”
And dazed and alone in a dream I stand
Kissing this ghost of your beautiful hand.

When first I loved, in the long ago,
And held your hand as I told you so–
Pressed and caressed it and gave it a kiss,
And said “I could die for a hand like this!”
Little I dreamed love’s fulness yet
Had to ripen when eyes were wet,
And prayers were vain in their wild demands
For one warm touch of your beautiful hands.

Beautiful Hands! O Beautiful Hands!
Could you reach out of the alien lands
Where you are lingering, and give me, to-night,
Only a touch–were it ever so light–
My heart were soothed, and my weary brain
Would lull itself into rest again;
For there is no solace the world commands
Like the caress of your beautiful hands.

This is a charming volume of poetry that is near and dear to me. Today some might consider this book might be considered overly sentimental or by some sappy. Screw em. I like it. You can like it too. You can like anything you want.

Inscribed on the inside:

To the Elect of Love, – Or Side-By-Side
In Raptest Ecstasy, Or Surrendered Wide
By was That ear No Message To Or Fro
Between The Loved And Lost Of Long Ago.

My version was published in 1905. The book originally came out in 1883.

You can get copies of this online (free digital) or find it in used bookstores. There are also new paperback versions.

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Happy Reading.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Travels North

Last night I watched the lights over the river canyons and listened to the trains pass through Spokane, Washington. The night was hot but peaceful. In some ways it was different, yet in other ways reminded me of my own home which also backs up to an urban wilderness of a sort.

Spokane is a lovely city, but unfortunately it is so hot – in the high 90’s F.
F could stand for Fahrenheit or it could just stand for fucking frying. I don’t take to heat well, even if I wasn’t a Vampire (which I am, for you who are new to this blog, just deal with it.)

We’re here for the 2019 USA National Roller Skating Figure Championships. After driving up from the Sacramento area we settled into our airbnb at the end of the road, on the edge of a mountain, in the middle of a city.

As we drove though countless little towns through the middle of the high desert I think of how isolated lone Vampires survive and sometimes even thrive (in their own weird ways) in these places.

Most of them feel isolated and cut off in the company of others and prefer the isolation of wide open places, high deserts, or endless fields of wheat, with nobody for company except cattle, dogs, and the occasional cat.

There are those who have regulars, truckers and others along the isolated stretches, who come in for sex, companionship, and a rest from loneliness, in an unknown exchange for blood.

Others go into town every few weeks or months. They load up on food, go to Target, visit the art museum, see friends, then go back to their desolate abodes. These are the ones who savor their solitude but also occasionally appreciate the company of others – when they want the company of others.

Of course we’re happy to explore and be in the community with others. We’d wanted to do and see more here but it is 97F today and way too how for most Vampires (or anyone) to be out moving around. We also don’t know the city so every trip is an adventure of unfamiliar streets and neighborhoods.

Spokane is a lovely city. I wish we had more time here to savor the culture and the company. Alas we must leave soon.

It is only 4:00 p.m. but we’ve settled in for the night. Will we watch horror movies? Hell no, we’re watching The Bachelorette because we couldn’t get live stream last night. We’ll watch Hannah tell Luke P. what an asshole he is, again, in so many words. We might also watch Queer Eye or read. If the wind dies down I plan on taking a glass of wine and sitting out on the edge of the canyon and watching the lights on the hill, the trains going over the bridge, and maybe catch a few stars in the northern sky.

May all of your travels be save and sound. May you find what you need, and what you desire, and what you deserve.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

The Quiet Beauty of San Miniato al Monte

Last week, it seems like yesterday, and it seems like a hundred years ago, I was at San Miniato al Monte monastery and cemetery in Florence, Italy.

The church was built in the year 1018 with no power tools, and workers who no doubt couldn’t even write their own names. It is beauty from a dark time.

It was an unexpected, moving, and beautiful find.

We (my husband, children and I) expected to find an old monastery at the highest point in Florence. We did not expect to find the huge cemetery surrounding it.

There was not enough time to spend there. I could have spent a week looking at the hundreds of touching statues that spoke of memories, but there by those who loved and those who lost their hearts. So many dates were from the 1940’s. So many were children.

The ghosts lurked far from us, watching us walk through the rain. More than anything we could feel the love and the loss. It is a special place where those who are no longer remembered by anyone now living, are still touching our hearts and souls.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Bonjourno

Bonjourno

Florence Italy Lover's Bridge

A perfect January day in Florence, Italy.

I am home from a two week adventure in Italy, complete with Christmas trees, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” style adventures, and finding those lost shadows, and romance for the soul.

So many handsome men, so many cute dogs, SO MUCH ART.

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And coffee. Oh the coffee.

And the wine.

I’ll be posting my stories soon. But I’m back for 2018 with new features, new blog posts, new insights on parenting, relationships, elders, tall tales, and critters.

When we arrived home around midnight this morning we were greeted by rain and the sound of millions of frogs.

It is always good to travel, but it is good to be home.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Useful Links (and I’m not just talking sausages)

25 Useful Links (and I’m not talking sausage)

  1. Do you want to suggest someone for a TED Talk or even suggest yourself? Click Here.
  2. Do you want to donate blood? Click Here.
  3. Do you like to read a fun Vampire Paranormal Romance Series? Click Here.
  4. Would you like to read a super cool Vampire series? Click Here.
  5. Do you want to read some GREAT NEW SCIENCE FICTION? Click Here.
  6. Do you want to find a great place to stay on your next road trip? Click Here.
  7. Do you want to visit or learn about a National Park? Click Here.
  8. Do you need a festive silver-plate serving pieces for the holidays? Click Here.
  9. Do you want to learn about a great art museum? Click Here.
  10. Do you need to identify a silver pattern? Click Here.
  11. Do you want to hear a song? Click Here.
  12. Do you want to learn about Bram Stoker? Click Here.
  13. Do you want to learn about corny Vampire films? Click Here.
  14. Do you want to read articles about writing? Click Here.
  15. Do you want a great easy cookie recipe? Click Here. 
  16. Do you want to read Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing? Click Here.
  17. Do you want to hear another song? Click Here.
  18. Do you want to learn how to knit? Click Here.
  19. Do you want to learn about Fun Goth Style? Click Here.
  20. Do you want to visit Florence, Italy? Click Here.
  21. Do you want to see a Teleporting Fat Guy? Click Here.
  22. Do you want to learn about classic movies and theater? Click Here.
  23. Do you want to read a sort-of-love story? Click Here.
  24. Do you want to read about a journey with a cat, a dog fight, and Vampires? Click Here.
  25. Do you want to learn how to make sausages? Click Here.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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#NanoPoblano

 

Vampire Vegas

I’m in Las Vegas.

Unfortunately I didn’t bring Vlad with me because his reactions would have been priceless.

For the past two weeks I’ve been on the road from Northern California, to Lincoln, Nebraska (for the National Roller Skating Championships), and all points in-between. Now we’re (my daughter and I) on our way home – stopping in Las Vegas for a few days to visit friends.

Vampire friends of course – my friend Amelia and her family.

Las Vegas Vampires are completely different kind of Vampires, as you can imagine. The lifestyle is completely over the top. That said, it isn’t a free for all. It is savvy, calculated, and over the top in just about every way one can imagine.

Nobody goes to Las Vegas expecting to run into Vampires, and the Vampires here like to keep it that way.

Amelia always shows up exquisitely dressed in her vintage (and vintage) inspired dresses, and knocks the socks off anyone looking for sophisticated old Vegas elegance. It is a joy to see.

In the clubs at night, by the pools, in the bars, dancing to the music, in tight short skirts, and elegant trendy menswear, the Vampires charm, and seduce. Everyone has a good time. I can guarantee you that. Sure there are a few stiff necks, and major headaches in the morning but we don’t care.  Should we? Not really. Everybody got exactly what they wanted.

So what’s on the agenda for the rest of the week, summer, year… forever?

We’re having more adventures for the next few days, then heading back up home to my husband Teddy, our pets, and the rest of our crew.

Hey, if you’re in Las Vegas make sure you check out the Arts District. Search on Arts District Las Vegas or go to Twitter at #artsdistrictlv  and visit http://msmercantilelv.com, and http://mainstreet.vegas

I’ll keep you posted on more adventures.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman