At the Crocker Art Museum

My heart is in this place. The Crocker Art Museum, in Sacramento California, is such an amazing, beautiful, wonderful museum. Put it on your MUST SEE list.

I’m just posting images today. No words necessary. If you have any questions just ask and I will answer. Or go to crockerart.org for more information.

I can’t always explain the wonder and awe and feeling of being so complete and one with the universe when I’m in the presence of art. It is time travel for the soul. It is the essence of being. It was something that transports.  It is like a high that no drug can match. It is magic. ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Enjoy. Oh, one more thing. I’ll post a story inspired (sort of) by the museum. It is also about dogs and full moons and maybe a little romance…maybe.

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California.

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Night Dogs (A Short Story)

Constantine Jones sat on the bottom of the museum steps wondering what just happened.

Earlier that evening he’d put on his best Armani suit, a Hermes silk tie, and was feeling good about the outcome of the evening. It was to be a charity event. Beautiful people would be there dressed up. Everyone would be relaxed, and happy, and it would be delightfully fun.

After discussing art and drinking champagne he’d lured a few well-heeled patrons to remote galleries to see some unusual modern art. There he took a few pints of blood from wrists and left his donors with no memories, except those of a delightful conversation with a well dressed, nice looking young art expert. Well, a 165 year old art expert, but that was besides the point.

Then in the main gallery, the California Room, he saw her standing in front of the Thomas Hill grand painting of Yosemite Valley. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room but she was attractive in a cute sort of California girl way, and had that delightful look of both shyness and playfulness. Her olive green dress shimmered along the neckline with iridescent beads. As she turned her head towards him it was like a lightning bolt had hit his heart. First sight.

Second sight as well. A smallish dog of unknown breed stood next to her with a service dog vest on. A service dog. Why did she need a service dog?

With his usual ease, Constantine approached the woman. He asked if he could pet the dog. She said yes. She told him she’d had a head injury when she was in Afghanistan. She’d been in the Army. He would never guessed. The dog could detect seizures.

They talked for an hour about art, and life, and it seemed as if he’d met his soul mate. It was the best hour he’d ever spent. Then she was gone. He hadn’t even asked her name.

So like Prince Charming, he sat at the bottom of the stairs wondering where Cinderella had gone. All he had of her was one of her earrings he’d found on the steps. It was a gold strand with a single diamond on the end. The diamond was real.

I might as well walk home he thought. It was just a couple of miles. He’d clear out his mind. The full moon, and lights from late night downtown bars and restaurants lit the way.

Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a large dog wearing a back pack. A service dog? A smaller dog in a vest followed. Around the next corner, in an alley, he saw three more large dogs in the dark, all wearing packs.

Maybe it was a training exercise. The dogs could have been German Shepards looking for drugs or a missing person, or even bodies. It was weird, but at this point he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He was a Vampire so weird and unusual was over rated anyway.

Constantine thought about the woman he’d met. She’d been a nurse in a convoy, and there was a bomb. She didn’t say anything else except that her dog was named Tess. She liked Jazz music, indie films, and indie books. Of course she liked art too. She was a high school art teacher now, having moved on from nursing. But sometimes she helped out the school nurse. Weird how he got those details. He’d told her… what had he told her about himself? Not much. He was a Vampire so he never told much, at least not at first. He’d told her that he ran a philanthropic foundation that supported the arts, and other causes. He told her he had two cats and liked astronomy. She also was a watcher of the moon and stars. Then she kissed his cheek, excused herself, and a few minutes later he saw her walking out the front door of the museum.

As a Vampire he usually had a good feel for people but he couldn’t get a final read on her. Again, he thought about the fact that he didn’t even get her name. But the dog was named Tess. Tess the service dog.

Constantine thought about war. He could imagine the horrors she’d been through. He was a child during the Civil War or the War Between the States, whatever they wanted to call it. Those weren’t memories he cared to relive. He’d come out to California as soon as he was old enough to be on his own, as soon as he’d become a Vampire, and stayed there.

As he walked along the dogs with packs stayed in the alleys and shadows. Looking at the local news feeds and police scans from his iPhone he found nothing. One of his neighbors was a K-9 cop. Constantine would ask him about it tomorrow.

Arriving home at his craftsman style bungalow he noticed a few dogs in packs at the end of the street. This was getting weird. Odder, and a nice surprise, was that a woman in a slightly wrinkled olive green dress, and a single diamond and gold earring was standing on his front porch.

Tess the service dog stood beside her. Hanging off of her shoulder was a back pack.

No. It couldn’t be. She wasn’t Cinderella. She was a Werewolf.

They introduced themselves, again, but this time with names. Her name was Diana. Like the goddess of the moon.

“You have my earring,” she said smiling and holding out a hand.

“You have my heart,” he heard himself saying, much to his surprise.

Then he kissed her under the full moon, as Tess sat at attention and wagged her tail.

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Off To See The Wizard

Off To See The Wizard

Druce had just pulled his toasted seed and dried berry bread out of the oven when his friend Morcant came through the door carrying a basket.

“What do you got in there?”

“Smoked salmon, a bottle of squid ink, and dried salted kelp chips.”

“Nice.”

“I see you’ve made your famous berry bread. That will win over the hearts of the coldest stone.”

“We can only hope. I’m paring it with a jar of honeycomb, and a jug of my best mead.”

Druce wrapped up the bread and took a look at his friend. Morcant wore a soft seal skin over his shoulders. His tunic was sleeveless showing off his muscular arms. Today Morcant’s black hair was worn down around his shoulders framing his handsome face. Druce never wondered why all of the women in their village and the surrounding area sought Morcant out even if it was just to look.

The seal skin was that of Morcant’s sister who’d died in the past summer season. She and Morcant were Selkies. On land they were human, and in the sea they were seals. They guarded their seal skins with their lives, for if anyone stole their skin they would be trapped as humans, and in bondage forever.

Morcant’s brother-in-law never took his wife’s skin, but celebrated the fact that as a Selkie she had come to him of her own free will. Her love was free, and her husband was devoted to her. They had that rare true love that so many seek but never find.

One day while they were out fishing, his sister still in her human form, they were overcome by a great shark and dragged to the bottom of the sea as dinner. Morcant, as customary for Selkies now wore his sister’s skin to stay close to her spirit and to have her love with him always.

Druce looked into his mirror and brushed his sun streaked brownish blonde waves with his fingers. He was smaller than Morcant, and not quite as handsome, but the ladies still liked him too. And of course he liked them more than they could imagine.

“So, Druce,” said Morcant, “when exactly did this Wizard guy come into town?”

“Last week, under the darkness of the night.”

“What’s he like?”

“Personally? I don’t know. I hear he was sleeping with his sister. Nymue told me that. She also said he used to stalk her, asking her about her magic and getting all sappy and trying to sound mystical about it. One day she showed him a sword she was going to give to the next king and he said I’ll show you my magic sword. She kicked him out and told him she’d put a bad enchantment on him if he ever hit on her again. And I mean bad, you know, guy bad, like his sword won’t work for a year or two. Like a blade of grass.”

“Sounds like a creeper.”

“A real mess if you ask me. Anyway, that was a while back so maybe he’s changed. Gotta give a guy some doubt that he has grown up since his misplaced youth chasing ladies in lakes and all of that shit.”

“OK so I don’t get it Druce. You’re the Worlock around here. What’s the difference between you and some Wizard dude, except that you’re better looking and are better with women.”

Druce laughed. “As a Warlock, I can, how can I put this so it won’t sound weird. As you know I can harness and control spirits, demons, and other’s who aren’t human. I can’t make them work for me. I also control their evil so that they can’t harm people. I take their energy and do good with it. I can also do other magic and tricks through my own will. I deal with both sides of the world, that of the dead and that of the living. That of the physical and that of the spirits.”

“And what about Wizards?”

“Wizards learn their craft. They are gifted in the ways of magic, but their magic comes mostly from the use of potions, and the channeling of their magic through a staff, or wand. They can scare spirits and demons but they can’t control them. And Wizards are giving Warlocks a bad rap. I hear that in other parts my kind are being hunted down and burned to death. They think we’re minions of Satan.”

“That’s bull shit. Then why the fuck are we going to greet this guy and bring him gifts. He sounds like a freak to me.”

“Because he is working for the King.”

“The Kings is an idiot. He is obsessed with some old cup, and everyone knows his wife is sleeping with his best friend.”

“Hey, I didn’t put him into office. Blame that on Nyume. The Lady of The Lake should have minded her own business and …”

There was a scream and in through the door came a whirl of gray, which stopped and materialized into a woman. She smiled showing lovely white teeth, but her eyes were black and crazy. No harm. Just their friend Milen, who was also a Banshee.

“Milen,” said Druce, as he blew her a kiss. “Thanks for coming. I have fresh venison stew in the pot there over the fire. I put the eyes in there for you.”

She grinned and put a long fingered hand into the boiling stew and plucked out an eye, the popped it into her mouth.

“Hey, Milen, we should be gone just a few hours,” said Druce. “I’m so glad you could watch the baby for me.”

“Ohhhhhh of course,” she said as she went over to a baby unicorn who was curled up asleep in its tiny bed made of soft sea grasses and dried fragrant flowers.

“Alright then, we’ve better get going, if we’re going to go,” said Druce, and they packed up their gifts and went to meet their new neighbor.

The new Wizard had chosen and old Roman camp on a hill as his new home. The buildings were already there and in fairly good shape. It was also about a five day journey from there to where the King lived. Or at least the king the Wizard worked for.

The two friends arrived at the home of the Wizard and were greeted by a tall man with a brown beard flecked with gray. His eyes shone blue like spring wildflowers, flecked with gold.

The Wizard welcomed them in and introduced himself as Merlin, the Wizard. There was something sort of sad about him, like someone who had a lot of friends, but nobody he was really close to. Druce wondered if Merlin could pick up on emotions and sadness like a Warlock could. Or like a woman could.

Merlin thanked them for the gifts and asked them to come sit. He led them to a room where the walls were covered with tapestries and the chairs with lush textiles and furs.

“The seal skin you wear is beautiful. The finest I’ve ever seen,” said Merlin to Morcant.

“This is my sister’s skin. She passed six moons back. I wear this skin in her honor.”

There was a pause in the conversation and a bit of weirdness.”

“Morcant is a Selkie,” said Druce.

Merlin looked surprised. He was surprised. He’d never met a Selkie before. It seemd, as they talked, that there were a lot of things Merlin had never done.

Still they visited and had polite small talk. Druce and Morcant of the village and the surrounding peoples, and those who were not people. There was also a lot they didn’t tell him. When the sun began to set Druce and Morcant bid their host goodbye.

They started the walk home in silence but then Morcant spoke.

“Merlin was nice. Not much of a bro, if you know what I mean, but nice. But dude, he has more demons than you’ll ever have.”

Druce gave a sad smile, “At least I can control my demons. Fuck, they aren’t even my demons. Merlin needs more sunshine, and he needs to divorce himself from his dysfunctional family and friends. I always tell everyone that it isn’t demons that are bugging them, it is their toxic friends and family members that are getting them down. He needs to let go.”

“True,” said Morcant. “Are you going to tell him about the unicorn?”

“Hell no,” said Druce. “I’m not telling him where the dragons are either.”

As they passed a cottage on the edge of a field of grain a woman stepped out and greeted them. “Morcant, will you stay the night with me? I could use your love, and I’ll have plenty to give back.”

“Go,” said Druce. He knew Morcant had been seeing the Widow Cath for few months. Her elderly husband had died leaving her a large farm to manage, a task she did better than most men. Morcant had always been fond of her, but now it was becoming a bit more than fond.

At home Druce found the Banshee Milen sleeping with the tiny unicorn baby in her lap. She’d taken on a physical form, that of a woman of a certain age who had a well earned beauty earned from a life well lived, at least before she had been betrayed and murdered by her husband. He put a blanket woven of the softest flax over them.

He poured a glass of beer and pulled a stool outside in his garden, out under the stars. He could hear the waves of the ocean. Maybe later he’d go down to the beach and see what spirits were among the sea shells and boats tonight.

But now he sat and thought of the sad Wizard. Then he thought of the women he knew and how it would be nice to have one of them in his bed that night, skin against skin, and a special kind of magic that came when two people came together in desire of both the body and the soul.

Then he thought about how dragons had become so endangered due to the trade of dragon bones by Wizards for their wealthy clients. Everyone with half a brain knew that dragon bones powder did nothing to make one’s manhood larger.

Then he thought of women again.

Milen the Banshee came out with a stool and sat next to him. He told her about his visit to Merlin. She said it was sad when one was so full of power and so lost. Then she said she was glad her husband had been hanged after she’d died. She always mentioned that. Druce didn’t blame her. She hadn’t planned on being a Banshee.

Then she put her hand on Druce’s. “Darlin, I’ll be in human for for another hour or two. Let’s go inside and take advantage of that.”

And like any good Warlock who knew what was good for him Druce kissed her and took her inside.

~ End

 

First published January 2018
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tangled Tales

 

A word about hate and being a total douche (listen up parents)

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I don’t say much about politics on my blog. I do say a lot about parenting.

Parents who excuse their children for bad behavior and hateful choices must take responsibility for the actions of their children. They must also teach their children that stupid things they do as teens can and WILL follow these stupid children for the rest of their lives. No excuses. Chosing to be a douche is NOT a choice any of us want for our children. Having those ugly actions spread all over the Internet guarantees that the ugly actions will follow that child FOREVER.

I say this and I will repeat it again and again and again.

Hey kid, forget anything you ever do that is good BECAUSE no matter how much good you do – FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE – this one STUPID SHITTY THING is what you’ll always be remembered for. ALWAYS.

I know you’ve all seen this on the news or Internet. In case you haven’t this is what happened (from NBC news):

A Catholic archdiocese outside Cincinnati is investigating the actions of some of its high school students during the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington Friday.

Some students wearing Make America Great Again hats and clothing appeared to surround and may have taunted a Native American troupe as it performed the “American Indian Movement” song about strength and courage. It’s not clear which of those young people surrounding the Native Americans are students of Covington Catholic High School in Covington, Kentucky. There appears to have been jeering by another group of people preceding the incident caught on video.

Why were these boys there? Why did they migrate to the people they did? Why did they wear clothing that would provoke other protesters? Yes, I know all about self expression and freedom of speech but sometimes you have to THINK. You have to THINK about how others will react – because they WILL react, especially if you wear that slogan, picture, or message on your clothing that is meant to cause a reaction that you KNOW might be offensive to others.

Why not teach kids to have a dialog with others? Speak with your own words. Listen to others. Speak, not yell, not taunt, not threaten. Speak to join people together, not tear them apart. Ask others why they believe the way they do? Try to understand them. You don’t have to agree with them, but at least you can know where they are coming from too. Even if they’re an asshole. Rise above the asshole.

This isn’t the first time teens did ugly things that will go down in history.

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The little pukes from Covington will go down in history the same way as Hazel Massery (the screaming girl) did in Little Rock. They will always be remembered for their ugly behavior. They will never be able to run far enough away from it no matter how old they are, or if by some miracle they have a change of heart. They will now and forever after been known for their stupidity.

Parents:

  • Talk to your kids.
  • If you want change do it in a positive and productive way.
  • Listen to your children.
  • Teach your children about hate. Teach them that it is ok to have feelings, but to discuss them.
  • Tell you kids that being a douche is NOT OK.

That’s it for now. I have to go write some short stories and a novel. Seriously folks, you’d think shit like this would only be in fiction. It SHOULD only be in fiction.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Note: I’ve already received messages saying this post is “FAKE NEWS.” Any hateful comments or comments about “FAKE NEWS” will be removed. This article is about teaching your children to be good decent people. It is not intended as a place for people to blindly spew their political agenda. You can do that somewhere else. Do it on your own blog.

If you want to wear your MAGA hat and mock old men that is your right as an American. That does not mean it is the right thing to do. If you want to tell me I’m evil because I’m not a vegan that is also your right, but again, that does not mean it is the right thing to do. Doing something rude and hurtful to provoke a reaction, and not a positive result is never the right thing to do.

For God’s sake even my conservative Republican husband agrees with me on this one. He warned me not to post this, but I feel that parents need to talk to their kids about this kind of thing.

I stand by my words. I stand by my story. I stand by my observations on society. 

 

 

 

Burning Question #46: Eclipse

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Are you going to watch the eclipse Sunday night? Seriously folks, this is not trick. That is the Burning Question this week.

Yes, this week is Burning Question #46. Yes, 46 out of 50 Burning Questions.

Did any of you see the FULL the Solar Eclipse in September, 2018? I camping with friends in Lincoln City, Oregon when I saw it. The FULL SOLAR ECLIPSE. Wow. It was take-your-breath-away spectacular. Since I was a child I’ve been trying to see every lunar eclipse I can. The one coming up this weekend is no exception.

“A full 62 luxurious minutes of totality,” says Sky and Telescope Magazine.

“The Only Total Lunar Eclipse of 2019,” promises NASA.

“This full moon will appear to be one of the largest of 2019,” reports Space.com.

North and South America will get the best view of the super “blood moon,” but you might get a good view in Europe and Africa as well. Check your local sky charts and news.

A total lunar eclipse is what happens when Earth aligns up just right with the moon and blocks the sun’s light our little cheese orb (the moon.) That causes a LUNAR ECLIPSE. Look it up on SPACE.com or one of the other science sites for more technical information.

Yes, I can tell you everything you want to know about Werewolves (but I won’t) but I can’t tell you everything about a lunar eclipse. What I can tell you is that is will be AMAZING and more fun than a lot of things. AND it will be RED. I don’t know why but the moon will turn RED.

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  • At 9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, the moon will start to creep into the part of Earth’s shadow known as the penumbra. Not much darkening will be visible yet, according to NASA.
  • By 10:33 p.m. ET, you should see Earth’s shadow start to move across the surface of the moon, growing larger and larger and larger until it completely covers it up.
  • 11:41 p.m. ET will mark the totality of the eclipse, as the moon is fully shaded by Earth. That’s where the “blood” comes in. There’s no violence involved. Instead, the term comes from a reddening of the moon as light leaks around the edge of Earth.
moon babies

This photo is so cute I can hardly stand it.

So I’ll be out on my deck watching the night sky with all of the Vampires, Werewolves, and Ghosts. Where will YOU be?

 

Burning Question #46: Will you seek out the RED MOON? Will you be watching the Lunar Eclipse?

 

I guess you could even consider this experience an extension of your personal space. Get it – SPACE. The MOON. You’re watching it.

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Feel free to leave comments, scientific theories, Werewolf poetry, love letters, your own eclipse stories, or whatever you want to say. Seriously, feel free. Please. Say something. Join the party. I’ll bring beer. Craft beer. And I have cats.

I know, I sound like an idiot but I love an eclipse and I’m really tired right now. I’ll be better tomorrow. I wish you all clear skies and an amazing view. Let me know if you saw it.

One more thing: Everyone say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friend Amelia. My favorite Las Vegas Vampire! Wishing you the best year ever my friend.

And I’ll see you next Saturday for Burning Question #47.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Storm

I never realized that the high rise downtown held the Federal Courthouse, art, poetry, and historic displays. There are also incredible views, even in the storm. Yes, I was there yesterday afternoon.

Even with the Federal Government shutdown there is still almost no parking to be found on the downtown streets. I finally found a spot near the old rail yards. The old rail yards is a yet to be developed area that used to be, well, rail yards. Old brick building still stand waiting to become trendy and useful again. Acres and acres of land waits for something, or maybe nothing. I’d like to see just a big park. Tracks still go out in all directions.

The active rail station is also near by taking commuters to the Bay Area and to far off places. I’d say exotic but only because it sounds more fun. Right now taking the train from Sacramento to Reno is the only way to go. I think the highways are closed this morning due to snow. If they aren’t closed it is painfully cold and slow. Over the past 24 hours the snow has come down not in inches but in feet. Dozens of feet.

Anyway, the only parking I could find was about five, maybe six blocks away, over an overpass that went across the old rail yard and tracks. On the wide sidewalks of the cheerfully designed urban bridge were homeless structures made of shopping carts, blankets, tarps, and bicycles. Across the way, and below, under more underpasses, and along walls were more homeless staked out in small groups of two or three, waiting out the storm. They’re just waiting out life. Just waiting.

I walked over the bridge, bundled up in my wool coat with my big blue umbrella. Within about a half minute I was soaked. My pants were soaked. My feet, through my boots, were soaked. Granted my boots are Doc Marten’s but they’re a heavy canvas. I should have worn my leather boots. My coat was soaked.

Ghosts stood on the bridge, on the side with the two homeless forts. They looked at me with blank eyes that stared out of gray holes in their heads. Two wore baggy suits and looks contempt. A woman in a long dirty blue dress with a bustle stood alone. Three Chinese ghosts huddled with quilted coats and  long pigtails.

I walked on. I hate ghosts. A gust of cold wind hit my face along with about a gallon of water. A ghost stood in front of me. She wore a sort coat, open with a short orange dress underneath. Her feet were bare. Long dark bangs skimmed the top of her eyes.

“Are you here to feast on the almost dead below?” She pointed down to the homeless camps. “Will you take them?” She pointed to the blanket and tarp fort across the street by the bus stop.

I tried to walk on but she followed me making hissing noises. I stopped despite the storm.

“There are already Vampires down there but I am not like them. Let me be,” I said.

“They will be found dead and cold, and nobody will know,” said the Ghost.

“Not because of Vampires,” I said and walked past the Ghost.

I know the kind of Vampires who are down there. They too live on the streets, or roam the streets then after feeding go back to the cold dark places they call home. They take what they need – blood and nightmares.

I am not one of them.

This morning I’m watching my cat, his fur wet, drinking fresh water from a bowl. My dog is curled in her bed. There are no Ghosts in sight, not yet.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Brothers in Arms

When I read this I was touched by the power of the words and the subject matter. This is from my friend Rob Fletcher, a talented Welsh writer and photographer. Thank you Rob for allowing me to share your words.

Brothers in Small Arms

Born of metallurgy and chemistry I was:
Stamped, checked, moved, spilled and counted with millions of brothers in a grim piranha factory.
Automated, made, bought and sold with a quiet conscience of lethal exchange.

Destiny discovered fate and decreed my instant made
birth which heralds a coming death in a far distant country.
Cousins larger, nieces smaller…pieces put together quickly as
Productivity swears at innocence.

Tumbling shiny into green coffin boxes…
Stacked, steady, stable…waiting weds anticipation.
Sold in white and black markets and traded silently for a single drilled duty.
My sole mission to expend death.

Packaged and sent on a demon journey I’m:
Trucked, planed, boated and trained because my demand outstrips its supply.
I’m really wanted, loved and caressed.

Jungle appetites, African friendly
I arrive clinking and jangling…jostling my brothers for my
awaiting providence
My liaison with short life.

Strong black fingers pick me up admiringly…
I’m embraced, turned over and fondly kissed
under a hot and brooding war sky!
I’m wished upon…and I shall fulfil this desire.

Gently, I’m click-pushed first into my temporary steel curved prison along with my immediate band of siblings above me.
Then we’re snapped into our final position.
Smoke, noise and murder prevail…we are turned safety left, lorded and loaded and aimed not aimlessly.
Suddenly, mechanical release action jerks us free!

My brothers fly orgasmic allies
barrel tearing
and I explode
by engaging rifling as I spin free velocity charged, prior sighted and trajectory traced.

I speed towards a soft sweat-sheened forehead as young feared eyes see my untimely arrival and realize my tidings
bring death out of its hiding place as I thwack flesh and snuff out misplaced
youth soldier dreams in a lost sorry battle.

Fallen teen-torn blood spills from a 7.62 millimetre hole.
My slim body sent care of Kalashnikov and
with impartial human target remembrance,
bullet boy expires with diamond-fixed glory.

© Rob Fletcher. All rights reserved.

Author’s Comments:
“Death and life were not
Till man made up the whole
Made lock, stock, and barrel
Out of his bitter soul.”

-WB Yeats.

“Son, the only thing that guns are good for is making holes in things.”

-Eric Fletcher.
1921-1989.