Musings on Parenting and Vampires

Love is in the air. I know because by 4:00 am the turkeys are already out making their gobbling love calls all over the neighborhood. They’re in the park, in front yards, in side yards, in driveways, on the sidewalks, and in the streets.

Sleep is also still in the air for teens who have nearly an impossible time getting up in the morning. Bribes of coffee and blood & berry smoothies goes on sleepy deaf ears.

But now I’m fast forwarding to school where the child texts me and says she needs $200 for AP tests (Advanced Placement.) If a Junior or Senior pass an AP test then they might be able to skip a college class. And why yes, the fees are cheaper in states I don’t live in.

So while I get texts from the kids, and listen to the turkeys, rain, and leaf blowers from the gardeners next door, I’m trying to think of a plot twists over coffee.

I explained what I was trying to do with the plot twists to my 17-year-old daughter.

“Don’t do something stupid with it. It has to be realistic, but not stupid,” she told me.

Thanks for the advice honey. I’ll be driving back to school in an hour to drop off the AP test fees.

I think about all of those Vampires who spend their days doing lofty things like fighting off rival Werewolf gangs, or lurking around in formal wear with blood dripping down their chins, or discussing with a far off Vampire council the paranormal forces and fuck it, that just isn’t the world I exist in.

This afternoon I’m meeting with an attorney. I’ll be getting about a pint of blood from him, and as usual I’ll leave cookies and juice (just like at the blood bank.)

Other than that things are pretty normal, not just for me but for most of us. By normal, I mean we’re not living some Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee movie script. Sure there are those assholes and misfits who lurk under floorboards, and graveyards. There are those without souls who haunt dark places in the cities. But who needs that? Seriously, WHO needs THAT.

We tell our kids, and other young Vampires that they have a choice. This goes for any kid.

There are choices. They don’t have to do what is expected by media or public opinion. They don’t have to be like everyone before them. If you’re different you can still be with everyone else. You know why? Because even if you’re different, you’re probably more like everyone else than you think. You’ll fit right in and be happy and nobody will know the difference. As long as they don’t know you’re a Vampire (or whatever) then do what you want.

So put away that red lined cape, and put on some jeans. Believe me, it will make dinner a lot easier. Then again, a little black dress is never a bad thing (but that is another story.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

An Afternoon Haunting Over Coffee (With A Ghost)

Some are haunted by the thoughts of “what if.”

Some are haunted by loves lost and missed opportunity.

Some are haunted by terrors in their closets, that come out at night and stare at the foot of their bed with lifeless black eyes, and claws like razors.

Some, like me, are haunted by another kind of ghost.

This afternoon, as I was working on an outline for a book, I heard music coming from the family room of my house.

Telegram force and ready
I knew this was a big mistake
There’s a fine line drawing
My senses together
And I think it’s about to break
If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderline

Nightshades on a warning
Give me strength at least give me a light
Give me anything even sympathy
There’s a chance you could be right
If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderline

I looked from where I was sitting in the breakfast room to see a figure singing and slowly swaying to the music. Black shining shaggy hair came down to the top of his shoulders, hiding the collar of his white shirt. He turned and glared at me. The music stopped. His form went in and out of an odd translucent state. I hate it when they do that. I hate Ghosts.

Then he started to talk. “You’re writing. How quaint. Well, maybe it isn’t so quaint considering you’re a blood sucking cold as death Vampire. Have you prepared your speech for the National Book Awards yet?”

“Go away Nigel,” I said to The Ghost.

And he continued to talk. “You should write something edgy that you can make into a movie. How about a powerful handsome black man, played by Michael B. Jordan who marries a beautiful blonde played by Jennifer Laurence. He promotes one of his younger men, played by Zac Efron over an older man. The old guy, that would be Robert De Niro, gets pissed and makes the Michael B. Jordan character think Jennifer Laurence is having an affair with the young guy and…”

“Othello.”

“I know, I know, but do a new twist on it. Make everyone black except make Othello white. Othello sounds sort of Italian. He could own a chain of successful upscale restaurants. You can add in a character called Mama Othello. Kathy Bates. It would be great. You could get the current pop-star-de-jour to do the music. Someone like Ariana Grande.”

“Go away Nigel, you’re bothering me.”

“Good. That was my intention.”

I continued to work on my writing trying to ignore him.

“I need coffee.”

I ignored him.

“Coffee would be nice. You could have some too. Heaven knows you could use it.”

I continued to work.

“You could write a book about a widow who goes to live in a big house by the ocean that is haunted by a handsome ship captain. The ship captain falls in love with her, but she lives in real world, and he tells her to find someone with a real body. And she writes. She writes his story and doesn’t have to move back with her horrible in-laws from Hell. Then she gets involved with some married shit for brains asshole. She goes home and finds out that her daughter knew about the ghost all along, then she dies and is with the man she loves, you know, the ship captain. It is so sad and romantic, kind of like a Nicholas Sparks novel. Did you know he went to the same high school as your kids? Not the ship captain, but Sparks. Lynn Anderson the singer went there too. Tom Hanks, Hill Harper, and I also went there. I went there too. Did you know that?”

I continued to ignore him.

“Don’t tell me you don’t know The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. It is one of your favorite movies. About a GHOST no less. You’re such a fucking hypocrite, even for a Vampire.”

I continued to try to write.

“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. You like Ghosts. Admit it.”

“Enough. I’ll make coffee.”

“Thank you.”

“By the way, I hate Ghosts.”

“I am not particularly fond of Vampires.”

We sat at the table and watch the rain with hot mugs of coffee. Nigel put his face over the mug and took in the scent. I drank mine with half and half.

He looked down at my pad of paper where I made notes. I use both computer and yellow legal pads.

“Do you think you’ll ever…” he started to say something.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“I like it.”

I looked up. He locked his eyes in mine.

“This is good Juliette.”

“Thank you,” I said, and finished my coffee.

“You should…”

“Don’t.” I shook my head and looked away.

“Fine. But don’t say I didn’t tell you. Don’t you ever say I did not tell you,” he said.

Then he smiled and vanished in a gray wisp of smoke, that smelled like coffee and the ocean.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Who and what haunts your days, nights, and even your coffee?

 

 

 

 

 

Evie

Our friend Pierce was by this weekend. He pulled out a tintype of his mother and sisters.

“Oh my goodness,” I said. “There is Evie when she was alive. How is she?”

“Great, you should get in touch with her. She is in the Oakland Hills these days. She’d love to see you,” said Pierce.

Evie is on the far left, with the long ringlets looking straight into the camera.

They were a lovely family of assorted interesting personalities. Evie has a fire about her, and a curiosity, and sense of humor that kept everyone who knew her entertained, and on their toes. Despite the fact that she had more than her share of suitors she took a different path.

I don’t know exactly when she approached my brother Aaron and told him that she knew what he was (what we all were.) She wanted to be like us.

Years later we were walking on a beach, it was I think 1932. We were wearing satin evening dresses with absolutely nothing on under them. My hair was in Marcel waves. Hers was pulled back in an elegant chignon with a diamond clip.

We were talking about everyone at the party we’d just been at. It was a warm night on the Central California coast, as we walked barefoot, our stomachs happy and full of blood and booze.

Then she stood and faced the waves. She dropped her dress on the sand and ran laughing into the waves. I didn’t see her for days after that. I’ve no idea if she had taken a night swim then run off with a lover, or if she’d hitched a ride on a whale and gone off to Mexico. I have no idea at all.

But that was typical of Evie.

It was good seeing the old tintype. I’ll have to give her a call – and soon.

Just a reminder for all of us to call old friends, and rekindle old relationships. It will be just like being alive again.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Pie, Pi, and Hi Mom (Uncle Rico’s Cheese Pie, and Mattie’s Lemon Pie) and Vampires

3.14159265359

Happy Pi Day!

Garret, who is in his third year of college and almost twenty-one asked me about pie today, because it is the best way to celebrate Pi Day.

Baking and math, is like all art and science – one can’t exist without the other. Baking is an art but it is also chemistry.

Now you might be thinking, “Vampires eat pie?”

Yes, sometimes when we choose to eat solid food we will eat pie. Unfortunately super sweet pies don’t go down well at all for us. But we can limit our intake, just like anyone who has food issues.

Uncle Rico’s Cheese Pie has no crust and is a nice savory pie. Mattie’s Lemon pie goes back to the 1930’s. I fix it for guests. I don’t know if you can fix it without sugar (with Spenda or other non sugar stuff.) Give it a try and let me know if it turns out.

How many people will each pie serve? 3.14159265359 x 2, give or take a few.

Uncle Rico’s Cheese Pie

This works great if you wish to reduce the recipe in half. I use silicone baking pans for this so I don’t need the cooking spray.

  • Cooking spray
  • 10 eggs, beaten
  • 2 (16 ounce) containers cottage cheese
  • 1 pound shredded Monterey Jack
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced mild green chiles
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (optional)
  • 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cooked crumbled bacon (optional)
  • 
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 -2 teaspoons dried thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Prepare a 10×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Mix eggs, cottage cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, green chiles, butter, flour, bacon, and baking powder together in a large bowl; pour into prepared baking dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center of the casserole comes out clean.

 

Mattie’s Lemon Pie

This is the bomb. This is the lemon pies of all lemon pies. Remember Vampires, just a tiny taste. Don’t over do it or you’ll be sicker than a Werewolf after a cat food binge.

This recipe is from the 1930’s, maybe even a little older. First you make the crust. Then make the filling. Put the lemon filling in the crust. Then make the meringue and put it on top. THEN cook it. No the meringue isn’t on the recipe. You’re already supposed to know how to make it. Whip a bunch of egg whites with a little bit of sugar until they are still. Make sure your bowl is absolutely clean. Do not use a plastic bowl. See me if you have any questions. Below are photos of what it should look like. Make peaks, not smooth meringue. Enjoy. It also is a swell pie with lime juice.

Happy Pi Day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Mmmmmmmm that is some good pie! Now let’s do some numbers.

 

 

 

Embracing Ignorance (and Other Parenting Thoughts)

If your child is a senior in high school you’re no doubt like us and finding dozens of mailers, catalogs, and letters in your mail box from colleges you’ve never even heard of. In our case my daughter is getting dozens of invitations from small private religious based colleges. Alright, I’ll come out and say it – she is getting a lot of invitations from private Christian colleges.

I’ve nothing against religion, and I am by no means an atheist. I do have problems with exclusive education where children and young adults learn only one view of the world.

Obviously, those who know me, know my view of the world can be a bit different. But my views on parenting, I feel, are based on raising a child to be an adult and see the “big picture” of the World they’ll go out into one day. I want my kids to go above and beyond my own experiences, and beyond what I can teach them.

I would NEVER send, or encourage my child to go to a college where everyone is the same, and encouraged to be the same.

I always like to think that my children were exposed to those with a variety of lifestyles, religions, and traditions – because from that they learned that not everyone is like them.  But more so they learned that we all have a lot more in common than we have differences.

Sure I could have sent my kids to school where everyone was like us. But why?

Another thing that worries me about a lot of faith-based education, or those who are yodeling about it on the news these days, is that the curriculum is anti-science. To me that is dangerous.

Considering the way Star Wars, and Star Trek are now so much part of American culture, and our own mythology, I don’t understand how anyone can be against science, discovery, or free thought. And the very lessons of these stories is about different people coming together and trying to understand each other. It is the fight between good and evil, and sometime the thin line between the two. But it is also about the promise of space and the existence of others out there in the universe we call home.

Science keeps people healthy. Science keeps our environment healthy. Science makes us comfortable. Science lets us know who we are. Science is knowledge about our world, and ourselves.

I will never understand the cult of ignorance which demonized science in the name of religion. If you love the Earth your God made, wouldn’t you want to protect it? Wouldn’t you want to protect God’s creatures rather than kill them and their habitats? Wouldn’t you want to use the brain that God gave you and discover the wonders of our Earth and universe? Wouldn’t you want all people to be able to spread the message of love, and to love each other? Seriously folks, I’m a Vampire and I have more compassion than (warning I’m going to get political) all of the so-called Christian bible beating bigoted, sexist, misogynistic, assholes who claim to be good people.  What bothers me the most is how willing so many are to embrace ignorance. Not only do they embrace ignorance, but they reject anyone who isn’t dumbing themselves down. Maybe being dumb might be safe, but it is morally wrong.

I’m always being asked if Vampires and Werewolves fight each other. Seriously? Who has time for that? We’re different. We might not get alone. We annoy each other. But we can also be friends, or at least friendly. And over the centuries we’ve learned a lot from each other.

One of the best things about college, or being young, is sitting up all night with others and solving the problems of the world, learning about each other, sharing personal stories, sharing hopes and dreams, building dreams for the future. Think of how much they would miss out on if they were all of the same background, same mind, and same heart. College isn’t just about classes. It is about growing up and discovering who you are – outside of your home, parents, and childhood. Part of the experience is learning from others.

I have to admit that a lot of the students at our school are just like my kids, but, well you know, a lot of them aren’t. That’s a beautiful thing.

Tell your kids that they can reach for the stars – and they won’t be alone.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Beware of Ignorance

 

Owl Songs on a Full Moon Night

When you don’t sleep at night you get to know the owls.

Their songs – or more often their talking, their quotes, their calls, come in five notes.

They say “we knew you.”

They call out a secret code,

To a lone Vampire,

On a Dark Night,

Or maybe they sing to a lost love, or more so the same wrong words.

They sat in the tree like they are auditioning for a Steinbeck novel, in their oak tree on a California night just lit by a full Werewolf moon.

With the white Sierras in the background and the knowledge that the Pacific Ocean is close.

I was with Max earlier, my brother. He is such an alpha, yet so silent in his feelings. He listens to the owls and I know he thinks of a lost love that nobody else knew, or remembers. It only lingers in his heart and the secret places that only the creatures of the night know.

The distant traffic noises fade to nothing, and the night belongs to the soft sounds of the owls, and the random sound of deer walking single file through the field behind my home.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman