Random visits and musings

A post from the past about tending your own garden of fragrant herbs, love, and memories to keep.

Vampire Maman

I answered the phone to a paper thin voice whispering “Come quick. Come quick. I need help.”

“What is wrong? Are you hurt?”

“I can’t get up. I caught my leg in a hole in the floor. I think I broke it.”

It was Eleora.

“Can you feel it?”

“I can’t even see it. I broke it off. Completely off.”

“Where is Tellias?”

“Out. He went out. He has been gone a long long long long time. I think we can get my leg back on. Bring a needle.”

Then without so much as a goodbye she hung up.

Tellias didn’t answer his cell phone. He never did. I called their neighbor John but didn’t get an answer.

Why was there a hole in the floor? Maybe she was in the barn. And no, I can’t call 911. Eleora is a Vampire. So am I.

Those of you who frequent this…

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Don’t Bother Me (I bet you feel the same)

I still own the small adorable house (1,100 square feet) I purchased when Teddy and I first started dating. I don’t live there, but I rent it out to a little nice family. About once a week I get a call, text, or letter from someone wanting to buy it. I always tell them $650,000 cash by Friday, small bills. Nobody has taken me up on the offer yet.

The latest guy asked where I got the price. I responded with, “Dude it is my current selling price. We are in California, plus the property has the added bonus of being haunted. Ghosts cost extra.”

I have to give the guy some credit because he responded with “Good luck! No ghosts for me! I was thinking of $900k; now that there are ghosts I’m not interested.”

What else is going on today?

I’m not seeing any ghosts at my house (where I live.)

I have seen a dozen or so squirrels who no doubt were the ones who took one of my humming bird feeders yesterday. There were also two coyotes out back who had ALL of the neighborhood dogs barking. Something large flew over. I have no idea what it was because I only saw the shadow.

As with most Vampires, I don’t like to be bothered. I let the dog bark and growl at the door. Yes, my dog is a total goof ball filled with sweetness and preciousness, but she is also a ninety pound German Shepard with a loud hell hound bark. Then there is that low growl that would put fear into just about anyone.

Just like the random animals that wander in and out of my yard… wait, that isn’t correct. The animals aren’t so random. I see the same ones every day and every night.

Be it home repair, religion, or anyone asking for money, I don’t like strangers at my door. I don’t like strangers calling me on my phone. I don’t like them sending me mail (traditional or email.)

My twenty year old daughter keeps getting invitations to move into local senior communities. I forward the invitations to her with the note, “Skip college and go straight to retirement.” When she was in high school she was flooded with coupons for baby formula and sent diaper samples.

My husband gets advertisements for burial plots.

My twenty three year old gets mail about gun shows and male “enhancements.” I don’t forward those to him.

We all record everything we watch on TV so we can fast forward through the commercials.

I’ve worked in marketing. I know how it works. Unfortunately things are totally out of control and so random. The invasion of personal privacy is out of control.

That’s all. Now I have to go search for the missing humming bird feeder, and maybe one of my ghosts.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

 

Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Popular Books From An Alternate Universe

Note: Vampires are not overly fond of Time Travelers   from our universe but from time to time we get some delightful books shared by travelers from an Alternate Universe.

Looking For Alaska

Austin and his Granny head north in her motorhome looking for adventure, and vampires.

Life of Pi

Mathematician Laurence Humboldt has all of the numbers and formulas figured out. That is until he meets baker and the county fair pie champion Emily Frost. Not only can she bake but she has the recipe for love. Is it an acquired taste for Laurence or just  something he just can’t resist.

Lonesome Dove

Political analyst Hawk Kilpatrick is sick and tired of women thinking he is just another tough and cocky guy due to his name. While at an election debate he meets another guy with a tough name, Raven Jones, who introduces Hawk to a unique dating club – a club only for those with avian names.

The Goldfinch

Book Two in the Avian Club Trilogy. Raven Jones has given up on love. But soon finds himself investigating the theft of a rare endangered Bolivian Trenimore’s Goldfinch, and also investigating love with a mysterious woman named Wren.

Catcher in the Rye

After an injury at the World Series star baseball catcher Blake Woodward finds happiness running his grandfather’s distillery, but will he find romance with the quirky booze blogger Andie Sampson?

Lord of the Rings

Jared inherits a title and a castle. But will he also find love when he allows a circus to camp on his property over the summer?

Madam Bovery

When Emma, a French widow finds herself alone and longing for adventure, she buys a Montana Cattle Ranch. Little did she know that along with her bovine companions, she’d have to deal with the mysterious and handsome large animal vet Logan McClellen. Will Emma find love among the cows or will Logan’s past catch up with them both?

Frank N Stein

Dr. Victor is a successful medical researcher during the day, but at night he moonlights at the brew pub Frank N Stein. Just as he finds cures for the body, at the pub he finds cures for the souls of those who come in for the fine brews. When he meets the beautiful and spunky fashions designer Melanie Zapp he wonders if it is now his time for healing and love.

Dracula

Dashing Count Dracula finds that he can no longer live a quiet life when the evil attorney Jonathan Barker accuses him of murder. To make it even more complicated Dracula is a Vampire. In order to clear his name and that of his Werewolf sidekick the lovely India Tanto, he goes to England where he attempts to clear his name and along the way find love in the most unlikely of places.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Tiffany Jackson finally is getting her dream and turning the old Sea Mansion into the most trendy Bed and Breakfast on the West Coast. After hiring handsome breakfast cook LaMar Donatello things couldn’t be better until mysterious and frightening things began to happen in the old house by the sea. LaMar and Tiffany look for clues in their cooking and maybe solve the mystery of multiple murders and perhaps find love.

David Copperfield

Hunky David English finds himself winning the largest Copper mine in the state of Arizona in a poker game. He literally digs in and brings profits back to the people of Rattle Snake Gulch, but will he find love in the arms of the mysterious daughter of the local ghost?

The Outsiders

Classic teen tale of a group of friends who are forced to give up their cell phones and spend the summer OUTSIDE by the local lake and walking nature trails. Can they survive? Can they find love? Maybe a little common sense and conversation? Find out in this gripping tale of survival and friendship.

Eat, Pray, Love

Howard Smith is overweight and destined to be single for the rest of his life. So he becomes a priest, but soon he falls in love with Sister Ann. They both find redemption through healthy living and sharing an adventure in soul searching (with a little soul food added in for spice.)

Bridges of Madison County

Former National Geographic Photographer and musician Jimmy Page is hired to take photos of structural damage after an earthquake but soon finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation. Very married Detective Maria Italiano soon tries to find the killer while she tries to stay out of the arms of Jimmy Page.

50 Shades of Gray

Christian found himself in a rut and feeling like his World was black and white. Take a spiritual journey with him as he finds the shades of gray in life and gets depth back into his life with color and the true meaning of spiritual giving.

Hamlet

A small pig brings joy to a stressed out New York stockbroker.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Tired of staying home while her husband travels through time Betty takes charge and does some traveling of her own.  Not only does she turn the clock back on her cheating pervert of a husband but she ends up finding true love in the most unusual time and place.

 

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Happy Reading! Feel free to share your favorite books.

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

Short Story Sunday: There Would Always Be Cats

Everyone was surprised when the first bombs went off in the Southern Hemisphere. Who would have thought? So much for going to Machu Picchu for Bill’s retirement. Then again, she didn’t really think Bill would ever retire? His fans demanded more and more each year in a time when one would think he’d be too old to be considered sexy anymore.

After that nobody could have even imagined those people from God knows where, from some other universe or galaxy, or even Hell, coming along and causing even more problems.

Apparently they, the purple people, been watching the Earth for a while like a bunch of creepy stalkers. Ellie knew all about stalkers. She’d been a movie star (under another name) for decades. She’d had perverts with cameras trying to climb over her fence and bothering her when she took her kids to the beach, to school, or anywhere else they went. She knew all about stalkers.

Fortunately for humanity the strangely attractive, but violent purple humanoids were allergic, to of all things, cats. Yes, cats did them in. First of all, in all of their travels through the universe they had never seen anything so adorable and appealing. Second, and most important, even their highly super advanced space suits couldn’t keep out whatever it was about cats that finally killed them.

It was like a drug. The purple aliens had to have cats. They craved the soft fur, and the sound of purring. They swooned at the sight of a tiny triangular nose, and the child like mewing. Then they died.

Cat dander. Who would have thought?

All of the aliens died. That was a good thing because the governments of The United States of America, Canada, and Mexico were able to get the technology off of their spaceships. Nobody was quite sure what was done with said technology, but the humans of North America had it ALL.

Then the weather changed, again, and some sort of weird pressure system clamped off the radioactive and other poisons from the south. By then the poisons and aliens had also killed off half of the population of the Northern Hemisphere. North America, Most of Europe, the Pacific Rim, and most of North Africa were spared, but it was carnage in between. The purple aliens came through Asia like the ancient Huns, only sparing the lands along the Himalayas. They also crept into Florida but were killed off by all of the cats in Key West.

Ellie poured a glass of wine and thought about how sad it was that the Argentinian and Australian vineyards had been all but destroyed. It was a good thing that the California vineyards had been untouched.

She looked at the gray green pelt stretched out in her back yard, then at the ocean view beyond her infinity pool. The gray green aliens had come next. They were especially violent but there had been fewer of them. They’d discovered beer and meth. It didn’t take long before all of them died, but not without causing a lot of damage and hate among the California locals. The folks in Silicone Valley had taken the gray green technology. There again, it was too soon to know if anyone was going to do anything with it.

She thought of her husband and how sad he had been lately. He was from Australia. He’d come over thirty years ago to do just one movie and stayed. His ability to do any accent, along with his good looks had kept him working. Even now, after the wars, and alien invasions, and a prosthetic leg (blown off while fighting purple aliens) he was still working. His most recent movie was about lovers separated by the pressure system that separated the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Too bad it couldn’t be filmed on location. Ellie was glad the movie had finished shooting. Bill had been so sad through all of it.

As a formation of jet fighters flew over Ellie thought of their eldest son. He was a pilot. He might even be up there right now looking out for aliens to blast out of the sky.  Her daughter had spent time seeking out the war criminals who’d set the bombs off. Now war had been banned.  Most primitive social structures had been more or less disbanded. Unfortunately after the bombs, and the opening up of holes for aliens to get in, people were just fed up with aggression and assholes. Just fed up.

The only advantage was that now Ellie could have as many cats as she wanted. There were seven of them right now. Edward (gray tabby), Olie (orange tabby), Mitzi (calico), Jen (black), Rick (black and white tuxedo), Pixy (gray and white tabby), Jasper (gray).

Out of the sky came a fireball followed by the formation of jet fighters. The fireball crashed down on the beach, and showed itself to be a golden sphere with a large protrusion that looked like an old fashioned TV antenna. Ellie put her wine down and grabbed her binoculars to get a better look.  A door popped open on the top of the sphere and out of it emerged an orange man in a silver jump suit.  His ears were pointed like an elf.

“Not on my fucking shelf you don’t,” Ellie said to herself.

“Ellie, what in the world are you talking about.”

She turned to see Bill had come out on the deck to join her.

“An orange alien in a gold ball with an old fashioned TV antenna. It looks like an elf.”

The jets flew over and bombed the gold ball and the orange alien to oblivion.

“We’ll go down tomorrow and check out the debris, said Bill. “We might find something interesting.”

“I wonder where it was from,” said Ellie.

“I don’t care at this point dear. We’re nothing but food for them.”

“These ones are orange, like those creatures from Willy Wonka.”

Oompa Loompas.”

“With elf ears.”

As Bill put his arm around his wife’s waist they both turned to the sound of someone running across the yard.

Soot and blue blood covered orange alien in a half burned silver jumpsuit ran towards them, followed by seven snarling, hissing, screaming cats. As the cats grew closer, the alien stopped and looked around. It opened its mouth to show rows of tiny sharp teeth. Bright blue eyes the size of teacups opened wide. No sound came out.

“Get out of my yard,” Ellie yelled at it, picking a Meyer lemon off of a nearby tree and throwing it as hard as she could, hitting the orange alien on the head. As she grabbed another lemon the cats attacked clawing up the silver jumpsuit covered legs. The alien then dove into the infinity pool.

“Oh for God’s sake,” said Bill. “Not in the pool.”

The cats stood together by the edge of the pool. Along with Ellie and Bill they watched the orange alien fizz like a bath bomb and disintegrated leaving nothing but a bubbling orange scum on the surface of the pool and a charred silver jumpsuit.

“It must have been the chlorine,” said Ellie.

“Maybe,” said Bill. “I’ll call the authorities to come clean up the mess and take a report.”

“Just in case,” said Ellie, “we should call the pool service for an extra cleaning.”

“Good idea,” said Bill.

Later after the authorities had taken a report, and the toxic waste crew and scientists had cleaned up the mess, Ellie opened a bottle of wine.

She and Bill, the love of her life, watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

Their cats gathered around and purred.

“You know Bill, we’re living in weird times. I always thought the 1980’s when we were young were weird, but these times are really weird.”

“Weirder than extreme shoulder pads and Xanadu?”

“Well, maybe not,” Ellie said laughing.

Then they clinked their glasses together, and watched the sunset, not daring to speculate what the future might bring. All they knew was that it was their own crazy romantic story to tell; like a strange underground cult movie that turned out to be their life story. And of course along with their love and their children, they had their cats. That was the one thing they could always be certain of. There would always be cats.

 

~ end

Tangled Tales

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

Small Ghosts – St. John the Baptist Cemetery – and my weird brother

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You never know who you are going to run into. Last Saturday morning we went out to the Farmer’s Market in Folsom. It wasn’t the usual California Certified Organic Farmer’s Market we usually go to, but one that was closer to home. We thought we’d give it a try.

By we I mean my daughter Clara and my elder brother Max. Of course Max complained that he wasn’t a morning person. I told him it would be just like when we were kids. He wasn’t impressed but enough prodding and cajoling got him up and into his usual black shirt and jeans. I always tell him that a visit to my house never guarantees he will get any sleep.

Yes, that is what this Vampire family does every once in a while. For those of you who are new here…we don’t live in the dark shadows or crypts or old black houses or castles. Our world is the same as yours… only we’re not quite like everyone else.

He wasn’t impressed by the market either. It was small compared to the larger Certified Organic Farmer’s Market we’ve been going to since the kids were babies. On the bright side there was a wonderful tea and spice seller I’d go back for. We also picked up some wool for a friend who spins.

The crowd wasn’t large. Maybe it was the biting cold wind. Despite that Max still got more than his fair share of looks. There is something about him that attracts people – a magnetism that oozes out of him even when he is at his grumpiest. A smile from him can warm and chill like death depending on what kind of mood he is in.

“Your friends are so weird,”Max said out of the blue as I was exploring the spice and tea booth.

“Tell me something I don’t know. At least they’re interesting.”

The night before we’d been out and about doing Vampire stuff (you know – Vampire stuff) and ran into my old pal Foxy Mendoza (aka Mitch aka Jonathan.) Foxy is pretty annoying and an acquired taste like fermented shark or unripe green oranges or dog food on toast. Foxy is always fun and flashy and for some reason he can charm those warm-blooded ladies unlike most Vampires. Women are attracted to Max like they’re attracted to chocolate or shoes. They like Foxy like … I have no idea. Last night Foxy was wearing red pants (something nobody should wear over the age of five) with a blue and green vest that he wore over a black shirt. This was topped with a pork pie hat with a peacock feather in it. None of it went with his strawberry blonde hair and pale complexion. He was talking about how cheese and mustard pairs up and the historic… anyway, it was annoying – but fun to watch. Plus Foxy is always so glad to see us.

So back to the Farmer’s Market. I saw a few parents from the school so we had to chat. Max was charming as I introduced him.

By the time all of the booths had been viewed and we’d visited with our friends Max and Clara were ready to go.

On the way home I decided to stop by the old St. John the Baptist Catholic cemetery (this is really an old-fashioned graveyard.) You’ll find no lavish crypts here. It is a small plot of about two or three acres and a small church founded in 1853. Yes, this was the Gold Rush Era in California. Irish emigrants came here to find their fortunes, make a better life and for many, die before their time. Unfortunately like many cemeteries of that time a high number of the graves are those of children and young people in their teens and twenties. Deaths at a young age were not unexpected, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t tragic or heartbreaking to their families and friends.

Max walked alone for a bit while Clara and I looked for stories in the headstone inscriptions.

A few were born around the same time as us or born before we were. We remembered places like this as a child, but so many are now gone or moved. Maxwell was born in 1849 on a ship in San Francisco Bay. I came along ten years later with three more brothers in-between us. We thought such practices of burying folks was odd, until we were told that we were not like others. If we were lucky and smart we’d be around long after the white stones turned gray with age and wind wore the names down to a faint scratch.

We didn’t feel any ghosts in this place. We never have. Everyone had moved on or moved elsewhere. Maybe under a full moon or an anniversary there might be the spirit of one of the occupants, but the place has never felt overly haunted like other places of the dead. You might find them (ghosts) walking the banks of the lake or sitting on the edge of the bluffs, but not here where they were laid to rest so long ago.

That isn’t quite the entire story. In the back, along the fence is the lone grave of a small child. She didn’t live during the Gold Rush but a much later addition. Her name was Julie Ann and she lived from 1975 to 1983. Over the years her grave has been visited by strangers but there is no sign of anyone around who loved or cared about her. Her stone is covered with dirt, lichen and leaves. She is alone, far from the family graves of children who lived in the nineteenth century.  I hope she was loved. More than anything I hope she isn’t there.

As a rule I hate ghosts, but the small ones are sad little things that need to move on and have their peace.

Clara jolted Max out of his revelries by bumping on his arm and asking, “So, Uncle Max, how long do you plan on having the squirrel on your face?”

“Excuse me?” Max looked annoyed.

“The beard. I think it looks good,” I told him. It does looks good – short and neat, not one of those shaggy things.

“You should shave it off. But I like the glasses,” said Clara. Like a lot of teenage girls, Clara thinks glasses on good-looking guys is ultra hot. She wandered off to look at more stones and find things to tell her friends about.

Max stopped by one of the older stones and smiled. The inscription was of a 21-year-old women from Ireland who died in 1862. She’d come all the way to California only to quickly die.

My brother glanced at me. “She isn’t there.”

“Tell me more,” I said leaning against him in that funny way siblings lean on each other.

“Mom turned her.”

I almost said HOLY SHIT, but let him continue his story.

“The lass was in an abusive marriage. As a Vampire she could have freedom she never had as a young wife with a husband who thought it was his duty to beat her. So with the help of our dear mother she escaped and a stone was placed on an empty grave.” Then he gave a low laugh. “She lives in Seattle now.”

“You know her?”

“Yes, I know her. Oh don’t look surprised. She seduced me when I was sixteen.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“You were only six – just a kid.”

We looked up to see Clara looking at more stones as she made her way back up to the car. I was not going to tell her about Max’s friend. She could learn about that later – much later.

Anyway, for those of you who are traveling around Northern California or in  the Sacramento area and looking for something to do on a Saturday or Sunday check out Folsom. You can visit St. John the Baptist then talk a walk down historic Sutter Street, have lunch, shop or stop by and have a beer at one of the many fine pubs. Walk down to the old Powerhouse or across the old footbridge and get a first class view of the beautiful Rainbow Bridge and Lake Natoma. Then have a picnic at Negro Bar State Park and feed the geese and ducks at the beach. Bring your bicycles and ride around the lake on the American River Bike Trail. Or head over to the Folsom Zoo where you can see the most amazing assortment of wild animals (from tigers to hawks to monkeys) who have been rescued and can no longer survive in the wild on their own. Then take a drive over to Folsom Dam. There used to be water in the lake before the drought (really, I kid you not.) You can also see the famous Folsom Prison which is right next to the lake. Maybe you’ll hear the ghost of Johnny Cash singing in the hills (I doubt that too but it sure would be cool.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First published in 2015
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On the American River Bike Trail near Negro Bar.

On the American River Bike Trail near Negro Bar.

 

Sickening Sweet and Predictable

“If you bring out that wonderful pink box most children will gather around. When you open it, bursting with two dozen donuts in at least eight different variations, you expect the children to be delighted. You’ll be surprised to see the faces look in scorn at the sprinkled cake donuts, the apple sweet rolls, the bear claws, and the French curls. Except for a few of the children, they all want puffy sickening sweet and predictable plain glazed donuts.

Those are the same children who will visit another home and tell their friends, “That isn’t the way we do it at OUR house.” At school, rather than listen and learn, they will scorn others for opinions and customs different than their own narrow experiences. Their world is their own home, their classroom, their family, and their street. They have no used for anything outside of that world. Surprisingly these children are often the most aggressive and popular in there schools.”

The Demon took a long thin clawed finger and drew a circle in the sand. His skin was a grayish green, his eyes yellow with deep black pupils that never dilated, and his face a collection of sharp angles that could have been both handsome and disturbing at the same time. As with his companion his leathery wings were folded and tucked close to his back. His tail was wrapped around out of the way.

His companion, a smaller female Demon was the palest of grayish yellow – almost white. Her long white hair was in a braid and hung over her shoulder down the front. Olive green eyes looked back at the male demon who was her teacher.

She blinked sand out of her eyes. “So those are the ones we hit on first, the ones who have narrow singular minds. We go after those who do not see beyond their own three for four doors?”

“Yes.”

A young couple passed by them. He was tall with brown curly hair twisted up in a knot on the top of his head. She was shorter and blonde. They both wore sweaters and walked with their arms around each other.

“What about them? Let’s take them,” said the pale female Demon.

“No. It has been tried. They were not the children who only take the glazed donuts. They were children who from a young age have sought out the world from a different point of view. They were encouraged to be curious. They are cynical and skeptical. They are creative. They are curious. They ask questions. Most of all they are not followers.”

“Isn’t that exactly what we want?”

“Of course it is, but we haven’t been able to tempt them. They are on the high ground so to speak. They question everything. They weigh right and wrong. Their moral compass is too hight for us.”

“But wouldn’t you think that the children who are protected and not exposed will be the least susceptible to our charms?”

“Exactly the opposite. We paint a beautiful picture for them. We suggest that the world is an ugly place that is against them. We can tempt them. We can tempt the selfish and the self absorbed. We can tempt those with small views of the world. We can tempt both those who have seen too much and those who have seen nothing. Those two are the easier recruits.”

“But what about those two walking on the beach?”

“They can’t be touched. They’re hard in their minds but their hearts are pure. They will analyze everything. They’re not religious but they are self righteous. Worst of all they’ll think we’re stupid, or worse funny.”

The female Demon rolled her shoulders then stretched out her wings. “But they can’t see us as we are.”

“No they can’t,” said the male.

Anyone walking by would see a young couple sitting in the sand, not that unlike the the couple walking along the beach.  She looked pretty and pale like a cartoon princess. He was handsome in a hipster sort of way. People who walked along the beach smiled at them. Their tiny red sharp toothed demon pet who the female had on a leash looked like an adorable beagle mix.

“We can fool some of them,” said the male, “but not everyone, and it isn’t always the ones you expect. Even some of the good ones will still pick out the glazed donuts. You just never know.”

As the young couple in the warm sweaters who walked arm in arm walked back to their car they glanced at the attractive seated couple who sat in the sand with their dog. The dog barked and the woman told it to be quiet.

The young man held his girlfriend’s arm a little tighter, “I get a bad vibe off of those two.”

“I do too,” said the young woman. “I don’t know what it is. They kind of creep me out.”

“You wanna get coffee? There’s a great little bakery not far from here.”

“That would be great,” she said. “A raspberry filled scone sounds great right now.”

The Demons watched the couple as they walked to their car.

The male Demon shuttered. “They gave me a strange warm cozy vibe. I feel kind of sick.”

“Me too,” said the female. “You wanna get breakfast?”

“Sure. They mentioned the bakery around the corner. Let’s not go there.”

The wind kicked up and blew sand across the beach covering up the cloven prints and tiny claw tracks left behind.

 

 

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers.