It all means something

Early this morning I stepped outside with bare feet. Something was underfoot, it grave a little as I stepped down, then for a second stuck to my foot. It had a dry feel of maybe a leaf or bunch of matter tied up with dust and cobwebs. It was a dead songbird.

The small creature that lay by the door was a gift from the cat. She brings me a bird at least once a week. The birds she catches in the front yard are hers to eat. When she catches birds in the back of the house she gifts them to me, because she doesn’t think I can catch birds. Plus I always give her food, so in turn, she brings me food.

I went back inside to find something to wrap the poor dead bird in. When I returned it was gone.

Later I drove down the winding river road to see the Elders, Eleroa and Tellias.

When teenage Clara and I arrived at the Victorian farmhouse we were met at the door by the neighbor’s orange cat. He purred and spoke a few words of his own language before he ran across the orchard to his own home.

Inside we found Tellias reading in his large red leather wingback chair. He looked up at us with glacier blue eyes in a face surrounded by long white blonde hair. He held out his hand and started to sing a song of greeting.

She’s only testin’ her wings and if you give in to her
You’ll be just another feather in her cap
She’ll drop you in a flash
She’s castin’ a spell
Well, if she’s castin’ a spell
I can cast one as well

Like most of the songs he’d sing to me, this one was pretty random. But it was always nice. He stood and gave me a kiss, then gave Clara a hug.

“It has been too long since you visited us last my dear. I’ll forget what you look like,” he said in a mock scolding tone.

“Never,” I said. “Where is Eleora?”

The smile left his face. “Upstairs asleep. She is always asleep.”

“Is she eating?”

“Not really. She won’t leave the house and I’m tired of bringing people in.”

I found Eleora upstairs laying on her bed, eyes closed, chestnut curls spread out over the pillows. The room was dark but stifling hot. I turned on the ceiling fan and watched the dust fly off of the blades. The woman on the bed didn’t look much older than my almost sixteen year old Clara, but she was much older. Eleora was over 2,000 years old but didn’t look a day over twenty-one.

I sat next to her and took her cold dry hand in mine. “Eleora darling. Wake up.”

She smiled showing a tiny bit of fang. Then she slowly opened her eyes. “You’ve finally come back.”

“I know, I’m sorry. But you’ll be over on Sunday for Father’s Day.”

“I wouldn’t miss it.”

Downstairs Clara had fixed a pitcher of iced blood flavored with rosemary and mint. Sounds horrible to most people, people not like us,  but it is really wonderful with a splash of soda water on a hot summer day.

I handed Eleora a glass and made sure she drank it all.

We sat and talked for a while about everything and nothing. While Clara told Eleora about school and impending college choices, Tellias and I went for a walk in the orchard.

I could smell the peaches and picked a few to take home with me. Tellias took my arm in his and told me that he wished I’d come by more. I promised, but made him promise me that he’d ask for help and keep the air conditioning and fans in working order. I made him promise that he’d try to get Eleora to eat more often.

Despite the fact a Vampire can dry up under a house and wake up fifty years later does not mean that it is the right thing to do. We like comforts and like those we love to live in a civilized state.

Now that is it summer and the heat will only get worse, please check in on your elderly friends and relatives and neighbors. Make sure they are comfortable, cool and fed. Also check on others who might need extra help. It is the right thing to do.

Now I write in a cool dark place of comfort. After visiting Tellias and Eleora I think of the small things that make things that make up my days. A song from Tellias or a small dead song bird – it all adds up into the mix. It all means something, even in just a tiny way.

Even if you’re a Vampire and even if you’re Human.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Lost and found and just shut up and dance…

The soft voice on the phone said, “come over right now. You need to come over now.” Then the phone went silent. Tellias, an ancient Vampire, one of the elders had called me. He and his love Eleora live surrounded by orchards by a river near a delta. They look young but they’re as old as the ancient redwoods.

My brother Val greeted me from the porch of the Victorian farmhouse.

“They left the keys in the car and someone stole it. The good news is that the car was found. We just need to pick it up today.”

“Why did they leave the keys in the car?”

“They said they were driving around and got lost so they walked home.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“They’re old.”

Their neighbor and his kids manage the orchards now for the most part. Tellias still walks among the groves of walnuts, nectarines, almonds and oranges. There is also a line of ancient olive trees that runs down the drive from the highway to the main house.

“How is the water situation for you this summer?”

“Grim. We’ll manage.” He waved his hand in a way that signaled he didn’t want to talk about it.

“Tell me what happened with the car,” I said.

“Someone took it. Can you believe it? Joy riding is what the report said. They blew a tire and left it a block from the police station downtown. Everything else is alright. I’m having the car detailed and brought back home. You needn’t worry so much about us.”

“Why did you leave your car?”

He shrugged his shoulder as if he was talking to an idiot. “We felt like walking, under the stars and all. It was romantic. You know, we’re considering getting horses again. Megan next door has horses now. Not for serious farming, but she has them. I visited yesterday. You’ll have to see them. One is Percheron. Huge beautiful animal but she is as sweet and calm as a horse can be. Her name is Tansy. I need a horse like Tansy. Maybe I’ll get a couple of Shires. Do you remember the last pair we had? Daniel and Susanna. I loved those horses.”

“Val said you were lost.”

Tellias took my hand. “Aren’t we all a little lost my dear. Now let us go see what Eleora is up to.”

I don’t know why I try to get answers from Tellias or Eleora on anything. He avoids conflict and she is just confusing.

To some extent they were always like that but now they tend to be off course and a little lost most of the time. They usually don’t even care. Why should they? Maybe it just bothers us, but I don’t want them to be harmed or taken advantage of.

We went to the sun room in the back of the house to find Eleora. She danced around me and gave me hugs and kisses all over my face just like when I was a child. Eleora is as old as the wind but looks as young and beautiful as a fresh faced college girl.

“Are you getting enough to eat?” I have to ask.

“Yes,” she said with a smile, “we came across a couple of nice young folks in a bar last night. All were type O. High blood alcohol so I got a bit woozie.”

“There was a band playing so we danced too,” said Tellias.

“Yes, we danced with everyone,” said Eleora twirling around the room.

“With absolutely everyone,” said Tellias.

“Absoutely everyone,” said Eleora as she grabbed my hands and twirled me around. “Tellias even danced with all the ugly girls.”

“Everyone needs a dance partner.”

“Even if they’ve been beat with the ugly stick.”

“Eleora, you’re being harsh. They were lovely young women. A little rough around the edges with lovely.”

“He thinks all women are lovely.”

“She flirts with every man she sees.”

“I’m glad you had fun,” I told them. I was glad nobody got hurt, and I wasn’t thinking about Tellias and Eleora.

I was a little frazzled from taking one of my cats to the vet earlier that day for a scratched eye. Nothing like a car ride with a cat. I was also thinking of my brother Andy who was home recovering from an attack and his girlfriend who broke her arm while she was taking care of him. And I wish I could take care of everyone but I can’t.

Then I got a text: mom mom mom mom mom mom where are you? mom mom mom mom mom

Before I left, Val who is a professional finance guy, said that I didn’t need to worry about the Elder’s finances. They were fine in that area, even if the orchard dried up and blew away they’d be fine. There were times when they lived as if they didn’t have a penny to their names.

Val, who was staying there with them for a while was always concerned about them. He said they complained all the time that nobody came to see them. They forgot things and lost things all the time. They would go too long between eating anything.

I listened remembering the times when I was the only one who ever went to visit them. They aren’t relevant to so much that is going on or so it seems. But nobody should be considered not relevant or not important. Nobody should have to get lost to feel found.

Anyway. That was that.

Maybe I’ll get a horse too, or at least go dancing.

Funny… I turned on the radio to hear that song by Shut up and Dance by Walk the Moon. Now I can’t get it out of my head.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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_______________________________

 Shut up and Dance

Oh don’t you dare look back

Just keep your eyes on me.
I said your holding back,
She said shut up and dance with me!
This woman is my destiny
She said oh oh oh
Shut up and dance with me

We were victims of the night,
The chemical, physical, kryptonite
Helpless to the bass and the fading light
Oh we were born to get together,
Born to get together.

She took my arm,
I don’t know how it happened.
We took the floor and she said

Oh don’t you dare look back
Just keep your eyes on me.
I said your holding back,
She said shut up and dance with me!
This woman is my destiny
She said oh oh oh
Shut up and dance with me

A backless dress and some beat up sneaks,
My disco tec Juliet teenage dream.
I felt it in my chest as she looked at me.
I knew we were born to be together,
Born to be together

She took my arm,
I don’t know how it happened.
We took the floor and she said

Oh don’t you dare look back
Just keep your eyes on me.
I said your holding back,
She said shut up and dance with me!
This woman is my destiny
She said oh oh oh
Shut up and dance with me

Deep in her eyes,
I think I see the future.
I realize this is my last chance.

She took my arm,
I don’t know how it happened.
We took the floor and she said

Oh don’t you dare look back
Just keep your eyes on me.
I said your holding back,
She said shut up and dance with me!
This woman is my destiny
She said oh oh oh
Shut up and dance!

Oh don’t you dare look back
Just keep your eyes on me.
I said your holding back,
She said shut up and dance with me!
This woman is my destiny
She said oh oh oh
Shut up and dance with me

Oh oh oh shut up dance with me
Oh oh oh shut up dance with me

Songwriters
MCMAHON, RYAN / BERGER, BENJAMIN / PETRICCA, NICHOLAS WILLIAM / WAUGAMAN, SEAN / RAY, KEVIN / MAIMAN, ELI

Published by
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

Read more: Walk The Moon – Shut Up And Dance Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

 

A Christmas Concert

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“I was there. I saw the star. I knew something was happening,” said Tellias who is over 2,000 years old. He was right in my face almost yelling.

He tells us that every single year but he never gives us any details. We’ve stopped trying to get information out of him.

I am the one who watches the elders, the ancient Vampires.

They speak in riddles and metaphors, not because they are wise but because they are tottering and annoying. They are confused and trying to get control over their lives that seem so out of control.

Today I took them out to a sing-a-long and a bell concert under the rotunda in State Capitol building in Sacramento. It is a beautiful building restored to how it was in 1880. A good size crowd showed up too.

Tellias was wearing a vest embroidered with snowmen and snowflakes, a large black top coat and a top hat. Eleora wore a red plaid skirt down to her knees, red flats with white lace tights, a sweater with a felt reindeer on it, complete with bells on the antlers and a red cap that hung down her back with a white pom pom. Had it been anyone else I would have told them to change, but since they look like they’re teens it was sweet. Had they looked like the really old people they are it would have been super sweet. Anyone else it would have been just tacky.

It was just Tellias, Eleora, my teenage daughter Clara, my brother Val and me. Garrett, off from college on break, was at my parents in San Francisco for a few days. My husband Teddy was working and everyone else was busy too, or just not to be found.

On the front steps of the Capitol building a photographer was taking photos of a happy wedding party. The bride was beautiful in a strapless dress of pure elegance and fluff. Clara and Eleora discussed the dresses in detail. Val and Tellias walked together discussing architectural details of downtown buildings and what the new arena would do to the character of the area. I took in the view of the park and Capitol Building under the cold overcast sky.

Eleora was in a good mood today. She has been grouchy and temperamental lately and overly critical of everything and everyone. A sweet thing by nature the turn to a grouch hasn’t been good.  With that has come hoarding  – something that another family member, Grandmama Lola has said NO to. I hope Lola has put a stop to the clutter and papers and obsessions that Eleora has started to take on.

Tellias just sighs and gets depressed, going on walks around his orchard and visiting with his neighbors way too much.

When we entered the concert area in the rotunda the two elders lit up like Christmas candles. Eleora put her arm around my waist and kissed my cheek. Tellias looked pleased and happy to see Eleora laughing in delight.

They listened to the bell concert with great patience. Behind us sat a mother and her little boy. They were delightful. It reminded me of when my own children were small and we’d go to all sorts of concerts and events.

When I was small Tellias and Eleora would take Val and I to concerts and events. We were active and unruly but we’d calm for music and poetry. We’d sit still by the river bank while our dear Ancients told us about the calls of the birds and of giant fish who swam in the waters.

They’d hold our small hands and guide us through the night and teach us that with love there was no fear.

I glanced at them walking by the front of the State Library making a joke about how cold the couple sitting out in front (two statues) must be on this December day.

Things change. People change. Time passes.

But the love we have, even when it pains us, is there. We love and remember and share those memories. But most important – we need to keep making memories.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

California State Capitol Building and State Christmas Tree, December 20, 2014

California State Capitol Building and State Christmas Tree, December 20, 2014

As pretty as a birthday cake inside of the California State Capitol Building

As pretty as a birthday cake inside of the California State Capitol Building

A beautiful place for a concert

A beautiful place for a concert

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Under the rotunda

 

Downtown Sacramento from the Capitol Building

Downtown Sacramento from the Capitol Building

 

 

 

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This is one of the most beautiful places on earth. No matter how many profoundly unwise and stupid things happen in this building, there is a peace under this dome.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Roses at the California State Capitol

Christmas Roses at the California State Capitol

Baby it's cold outside!

Baby it’s cold outside!

A Man of Wisdom at the State Library

A Man of Wisdom at the State Library

View of the Tower Bridge from the State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA

View of the Tower Bridge from the State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA

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View from Capitol Park, Sacramento

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Keeping the Fires Alive in Our Cold Vampire Hearts

I walked into her bedroom. I’d never met the woman. I’d heard of her, but the details are always the same. She is pretty and smart and fun thirty something woman and not interested in a serious relationship. Perfect for my brother. By the way, my brother is a Vampire. So am I. But you already knew that.

They were on the bed but nothing had happened yet. Her shirt was off. So was his, along with his belt and the top button of his jeans was undone. His mouth was on her neck.

“Val. Valentine you need to come with me.” I almost growled it out. The woman screamed. I thought her name is Courtney but I could have been wrong. It didn’t matter. She screamed again. Val’s eyes glowed red at me.

“Stop with the eye glow. We have to go. Family emergency. Now.”

“Courtney, darling, I’m so sorry. I have to go with my sister,” he said, giving his lady friend a kiss and grabbing his shirt and belt. She covered her chest and stared at me, then looked at Val, then looked back at me. You can tell we’re related. There is a very strong family resemblance. I could see the bite marks on her neck. He’d be back. Val almost always goes back, especially to one this lovely. Plus he owed her some future sweet dreams for my barging into her bedroom. On the good side, in the morning she’ll forget any of this happened. That is one advantage of being a Vampire – we can make them forget.

An hour earlier I’d received a call. “Come now, come now.” The quiet voice almost hissed in my ear. Dealing with the elderly can be both rewarding and heart breaking and sometimes it just pisses me off because I’m the one… I love them, but sometimes it would be nice if I had some help.

“I thought you were staying with them,” I snapped at my brother.

“I can’t be there 24/7. I needed a break. I need my own space sometimes.”

“We saw Wicked tonight. A nice family outing. Why is it that every time I go to the theater or on vacation or have something nice planned someone calls me with an emergency. It could be our parents or Andy or the Elders or… all I ask for is one night. Just one.”

Val mumbled something but I just cranked up the radio.

Old Tellias met us at the door of the Queen Anne style farm-house. His pale hair was around his shoulders making him looking more like a Victorian Angel rather than a Vampire. He wore an open tuxedo shirt and jeans like some college student trying to make a fashion statement. It was just the way he dressed, like he had his eyes closed.

“She isn’t well. She isn’t well at all,” he said in a paper thin whisper.

Eleora was not well. They’d been together for 2,000 years and even now as they slowed down their love  stayed strong. Anyone that old is bound to be fragile and that is exactly what these two are.

Eleora was on the fainting couch wearing a flowered sundress and an old stretched out sweater. Her long dark curls were dull and hanging limp in the heat about her shoulders.

To anyone else she’d be a young woman of maybe 19 or 20. My head spun. Eleora was at least 2,500 years old if not more. We knew Tellias was born before the birth of Christ, but not too long before.

It didn’t matter. She lay still as death wrapped in an old sweater and covered in a quilt, not breathing, or making her heart pump. She wasn’t dead but she wasn’t alive. She just was.

“When was the last time she ate anything?”

Tellias gave me a guilty look. “Maybe last week.”

“Why didn’t you call me or at least called John next door. We could have brought you something. Have you been out of the house at all?”

He shook his head. “We lost the car keys.” Again. They were always misplacing their car keys. Any spares were long gone. “I didn’t want to bother anyone.” he added.  “You’re all so busy.”

It is frustrating to see that pretty face of his and know that the brain behind it isn’t working at full capacity. Maybe it isn’t his brain. Maybe his spirit is just tired.

I reached up to the top of a bookshelf where he kept spare keys in a box. I dragged my brother out to the barn. The old 1955 Ford truck was still out there. After charging the battery (thank goodness for jumper cables) I got it started.

Tellias stood in the barn doorway not saying a word. This Vampire who once took charge of every situation was now so helpless and confused. I still admired him. Unfortunately it wasn’t a night to express those thoughts.

When I returned to the house Eleora was sitting up. I sat next to her and took her cold hand. She curled her fingers around mine.

“Nobody needs us anymore. Most of our close friends are gone.”

It broke my heart to hear her say that. “Oh Eleora, dear Eleora, don’t talk like that.”

“Ginger died.”

I didn’t expect that. Ginger was their old dog, a large yellow lab mix who’d shown up about 10 years ago. Everyone loved Ginger, but nobody more than Eleora and Tellias.

“When? Why didn’t you call me?” I asked still in shock.

“She wouldn’t get up.” said Tellias. “Her legs wouldn’t move.”

“We sat with her all night,” said Eleora.

“All night, until she stopped wagging her tail,” said Tellias.

“Until her heart stopped,” said Eleora.

“Then she was gone,” said Tellias.

“She died.” said Eleora.

“Ginger went to where all good dogs go,” said Tellias.

“Ginger was a good dog,” said Eleora. “A good good dog.”

The old dog seemed fine last time I was over, but that was two weeks ago. Tellias buried her in the orchard under the walnut trees.

That is why Eleora was so sad and out of sorts. Her dear dog friend was gone. It always amazes me how much love dogs and cats have and how their loss is so heavy on our hearts.

Eleora squeezed my hand.  “Tellias shouldn’t be so worried about me. He worries too much. He worries all the time. He worries. It is what he does. I’m glad you’re here. I loved that dog.”

“So did I,” I said trying to blink away the tears. Even Vampires have tears for dogs they love.

Eleora put her hands on my face and kissed me on the forehead and wiped my eyes. “You’ll be fine dear Juliette.  I am glad you’re here. I miss Valentine being around. He had to go to the city he said. Not where you live. He went to the big city. But he said he’d be back all summer. All summer long.”

Val had vanished. I eventually found him in the upstairs bathroom throwing up blood (not his own of course.)  His skin had taken on sort of a greenish tint, which brought me back to Wicked. Anyway, he wasn’t well.

“I don’t know what is wrong with me,” he said, looking as dead as a Vampire can look.

As soon as I entered the room I could tell by the smell what was going on. “Courtney is pregnant.”

Yes, one thing that makes a Vampire male sicker than a dog is blood from a pregnant woman. A look of surprise came over his face. No of course he isn’t the father. He couldn’t be. It turned out she had an on again off again boyfriend of three years. So much for that. I’ll make sure Val gets her a nice gift for the baby – a crib or a rocking chair or a nice fat savings bond.

Val gave me one of his looks. It is kind of a scowl with a bit of fang. “What are we doing? I mean what are we really doing Juliette? We used to travel the world and have grand wild adventures. We were the Vampires of lore. We ruled our world.”

“We were out of control idiots. Remember?”

“But what about now?”

“We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re taking care of each other. You never asked me how Wicked was?”

Val put his arm around my shoulder. “How was Wicked dear sister?”

“Amazing! It was so much fun.”

We talked for a bit more until Tellias came up to see what we were up to. I called Pete at the Bottle & Blood store and ordered a delivery of a couple of cases of mixed blood to be delivered to the farm that night.

So where are we?

I guess we’re here we’re supposed to be. We’re where we are right now. We’re keeping the fires alive in our cold Vampire hearts and souls. I guess we can’t ask for anymore than that.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Teddyanddog

 

Vintage Halloween (with Wolfhounds and Old Vampires)

halloween cat 1A large wreath on the front door was made of faded and cracked plastic flowers. You know, those plastic flowers that were sold in the Five and Dime stores in the 1960’s. Faded ribbons and bows hung in odd gray pastel tones.

Without even asking I knew Eleora had taken the flowers off of graves that nobody had visited for years. Long forgotten wives and mothers. I knew Eleora had replaced the faded flowers with real ones and taken time to sit and chat with the departed and sing them songs from their times.

Eleora opened the front door and greeted us wearing a bright yellow skirt with a well worn orange sweater with black cat head shaped buttons. Her feet were bare and her toenails painted a glossy red on one foot and black on the other.

“Do you like my Halloween wreath? I made it yesterday.” She took my hand and led me inside.

“Shabby chic.” I said. “Very nice.”

She gave me a hug and kissed my face all over then took the hands of my children and danced them into the house.

halloween punkin headThe old lab mix slid around the corner barking, followed by two HUGE wolfhounds.  I was surrounded by a sea of happy wiggling dogs. The sharp spikes in my leg was a tiny black kitten who had enthusiastically crawled up my jeans.

“Who are you?” I asked picking up the tiny purring monster. “Oh my goodness you’re cute.” It mewed back in one of those precious tiny kitten voices.

My brother Max had been there, because the wolfhounds were his. My daughter took the kitten who was named Jinx. A fitting name for a black kitten.

Eleora and Tellias are ancient Vampires. They’re seniors, despite the fact that they look like they are in their late teens or early twenties.  This dear old couple has been together for over 2,000 years – a long time for any romance.

Eleora had decorated the walls and windows with old paper Halloween cut-outs. Mostly cats with a few pumpkins and other creatures of the night. She’d also included decorations made by generations of both Vampire and Regular Human children who’d come in and out of her life over the past century.

halloween cat 2Tellias came down the stairs, his white blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail and wearing old farmer overalls without a shirt. He had a Mr. Rodgers cardigan on over it.

He gave us all hugs and kisses, a smile on his lovely face. Ancient yet forever young.

“Let’s celebrate Halloween early. Max dropped off two cases of Poet’s Blood!” He led the procession of dogs and family to the formal dining room and took crystal goblets from a large ornate hutch.

I heard a car door close and knew my brother Max had arrived. He came in looking handsome as usual obviously straight from work all in black leather.  I noticed he still had a weapon on his belt. The dogs went crazy dancing and barking.

Halloween is a time to celebrate. More than that, it is an excuse to celebrate and have fun. But we need to celebrate good times and those we love more often without an excuse of a holiday or other special event. It is always time to love and share, especially if you have elders or anyone who is alone or needs a little extra help or company.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone,

xoxoxo,

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

halloween cats