Musings on Cats and Vampire Summers

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Oscar, pre-scar days.

I was out early this morning getting something out of my car. OK, I was looking for my purse. I thought I left it in my car last night. I didn’t. While I was outside I heard the sound of an angry cat. You know that snarling, growling, hit pitched sound from Hell that cats project when they’re really pissed off and ready for a fight.

It wasn’t one of my cats. At least it didn’t sound like either one of them. I decided to walk down the street to the mail boxes and find out where the gosh awful noise was coming from.

My cat Oscar, my sweet baby boy was standing in the front yard of my neighbor Josh. Josh lives alone. He rides his bicycle when it is 120 degrees F outside. Everybody likes Josh, but I don’t think he has a cat.

On the front porch (a favorite place of the neighborhood wild turkeys) was the largest calico cat I have ever seen. Her head was the size of a honeydew mellon. She was screaming at Oscar.

Oscar sat there and meowed with a confused little voice. Then he looked at me, then looked at the giant calico.

“Hey, Oscar,” I said. “Come on baby, let’s go home.”

As always, Oscar looks hopeful when his mom (me) is around. I’m always there to rescue him. I scooped him up.

I walked home like a crazy cat lady with Oscar under one arm, and an armful of junk mail in the other arm.

Oscar will always be like a baby, despite a notched ear and a scar across his face. He is thirteen pounds of fur and love. He is also an asshole, but he is my asshole.

This has been a long hot summer. Not all of us are handling it as well as my bike riding neighbor Josh. Then add massive wild fires to the heat and it gets really fun. If someone ever tells you “Burn in Hell Vampire,” you can tell them “FUCK YOU ASSHOLE I live in California.”

After the cat adventure I dropped off a trunk load of supplies that will go up to a fire shelter near Redding (Carr fire.)

By the time I got home my son Garrett was peeling tape off of the walls. We’re painting the insides of our home. From neutral to color. It looks great. As we’re peeling long steps of blue tape from around the windows we talked about all kinds of stuff.

Garrett will be in his fourth year of college. He is twenty-one now. No longer a child. I have kids now but I also have adults – Vampire adults.

“I hate summer necks,” said Garrett.

“It isn’t that bad,” I said.

“Oh come on mom, they’re gross. All covered in sunscreen, sweat, foundation, hair products, and body spray. The body spray is the worst. It smells great, but oh my god, the taste… How did you do it before people took showers everyday?”

“I don’t know. I guess we were used to it. You know, like cigarette smoke and rancid bacon grease.”

“That’s disgusting. I’m sticking with wrists until October.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” I told him. I didn’t mention that I go to nice adult people with indoor private offices. But I’m sticking with wrists more often than not as well.

College classes start soon for both of my kids. It already seems like fall. This morning was unusually cool and nice. On morning like that I pretend I’m living by the ocean or up in the mountains. For a myriad of reasons I’m still here, in the Sacramento Valley with the smoke and the ghosts of the 49ers and the first Vampires to settle in California.

Anyway, that is how my day went.

Hope yours went well.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Don’t bring me your dog… and other parenting stories.

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I grew up in a household with a lot of pets. I remember one summer when we had two wolfhounds, a medium sized black dog of questionable lineage, three cats, an eighty year old parrot, and a cage full of mice. Outside of the house were three horses. There were also five children. Four boys. One girl.

It was 1867. My brother Aaron, the middle child was the most responsible and serious of the lot. He was eleven at the time, and feeling as if he was living in the shadows of his eldest brothers. He was also tired of feeling responsible for his younger two siblings. The wolfhounds belonged (if they could belong to anyone) to our eldest brother Max. The black dog was the family dog. The three cats belonged to themselves, but spent most of their time with me. The parrot was named Louis and was just there for the summer while it’s owner (Tellias) was traveling.

Anyway, to make a non-story short, one day Aaron came home with a Pug. It was adorable. He’d found out that Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale, two gentlemen who shared a fashionable home and had no wives, had a litter of puppies. Aaron took it upon himself to bring one home without the permission of our parents.

My mother told Aaron to bring the puppy, now named Mercutio, back to Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale. Our father said we had to defer to my mother. He was of no help. So we started to yell loudly that it was so unfair and that we loved Mercutio with all of our cold little Vampire hearts. Max, being the eldest and for some reason my mother’s favorite, put in his opinion that we should keep Mercutio. So my mother gave in. I think the fact that my brother Andy told my mother that Aaron would never forgive her. So we kept Mercutio who was a fine dog and a grand addition to our household.

Fast forward to 2018. We’ve had four dogs since my children were born. We had two dogs when we started to have children. Then we had one dog for 12 years. Now we have one dog. We also have two cats. One dog, two cats. I’ve avoided the never ending revolving door of rats, mice, hamsters, birds, and other small caged creatures.

Before I became a responsible adult, and before my brothers became responsible adults we thought we were responsible enough to have pets. We adopted cats and dogs then after a few years they somehow ended up with our parents. At one time the family home contained six dogs, eight cats, and no children.

Looking back, as a parent, I told my children NO. Don’t bring me pets.

A lot of young adults start to collect pets as soon as they move out of home. Unfortunately shelters are full of these pets. As kids move around, as young adults do, they find themselves unable to keep their animals. That is where the parents come into the picture. Just drop the critters off with Mom. NO.

A dog is a 12-16 year commitment. A cat can live for twenty years or more. I can’t stress enough that having a pet is a huge responsibility. You are responsible for a life – the entire life – of a living creature.

Sure dogs and cats are fun. I love my dog. I love my cats. That said, I don’t want anymore right now. I’m at full capacity. There is delicate social balance. If one of my kids brought in another animal at least one of the cats would start having behavioral problems. The amount of fur in the house would be almost too much for me.

Beside that it is just irresponsible for young adults to start collecting animals. At a time when they need to be able to get out and explore, or move someplace else and find new opportunities, a pack of dogs, or two or three cats will just home them down. And it is unfair for the animals, and unfair for the parents who end up taking the pets in. No animal wants to be re-homed.

And while I’m on the subject of pets…if you or your children adopt any dogs or cats PLEASE have them spayed or neutered. Do not let your son equate his dog’s balls with his own balls and is misplaced manhood. It is not the same with dogs as with humans. The only balls your dog needs is tennis balls.

Before your children move out, have that talk about pets. You’ll be glad you did. My parents wish they had.

And that concludes my public service announcement.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Girl with Dog

If you have a cat…

As a parent, even a parent such as I am, one sees a lot of nasty stupid things. You’d think by the time your kids are almost grown (almost 17 and 20) that it would stop. And I’m not talking about kids, I’m talking about parents.

Dear Super Mom,

Maybe the reason you change your children’s teachers, schools, churches, sports, coaches, sports clubs, isn’t because everyone is insensitive and not doing their job. Maybe it is you. Maybe YOU aren’t doing your job. So just shut the fuck up and stop bad mouthing everyone. Look at yourself. And look at your kids – they’re mean to other kids, and they lie. Because of that other kids and adults don’t like them. Go figure your kids are just like you. How sweet. OK I’m done. Peace. 

 

Now that I have THAT out of the way…

Clara and I are planning another cross country road trip across deserts, mountains, and plains. Vampires love road trips. It is a time to crank up the music and see America. And who doesn’t like to taste the local flavor, if you know what I mean.

We are driving from near Sacramento, CA to Lincoln, NE, through Denver, CO. I’ll make sure I send photos from the road and my travel log. We’re going to the National Artistic Roller Skating Championships.

Excuse me for a second. Outside of my window is an angry Ghost. Did I mention that it is the middle of the day and over 105 degrees farenheit outside? Did I mention that I live on a hill, so the window is about two stories up.

I’ll be right back.

OK I’m back.

I motioned for the Ghost to come inside. He looked horrible – almost dead. I mean, he is dead, but not that kind of dead. Unless he is in his head-bashed-in with a frying pan look he had when he died he looks pretty good. He was one of those guys with almost a pretty face. You know, the kind with the sweet smile and eyelashes that make any woman green with envy. Yet, he is still extremely masculine. That does not sway my opinion of him, which is that he is usually a complete asshole.

He vanished in and reappeared standing behind me. His already shaggy black hair was almost standing on end. His skin look gray, even for a ghost. He wore his funeral suit without the jacket, and his black tie was loose around his neck, and he’d rolled up the sleeves.

“You look like you’ve been to Hell and back,” I said to him.

“Don’t even joke about that,” he said, then whispered the words Vampire bitch under his breath as if I wouldn’t hear.

I haven’t seen Nigel, The Ghost, for months, then suddenly he shows up in a bad mood, expecting my full attention.

I wait for him to speak, as one does with a Ghost. And I wait. He says nothing. Then I try to go back to writing something meaningful for my blog post about traveling with teens and young adults, but I’ve lost track of every thought in my head.

So I ask. “What is it Nigel?”

“Nothing.”

“Is it the heat?”

“I don’t have a physical body. I don’t feel heat.”

I’m not one for guessing games. In fact I hate guessing games. You know the type I’m talking about. Someone comes in and says, “Guess who I saw?” or “You won’t believe this. Guess who is getting married?” I don’t want to guess. I don’t want to throw out a dozen names and still not know what you want to tell me. Just tell me. So I didn’t even ask Nigel anything, and of course that drives him nuts, because he’d come back at me with a “guess what” fill in the blank.

The calico cat rubbed against Nigel’s leg. Yes, cats can do that, even if you don’t see the Ghost. Cats always see the Ghost.

Nigel gave the cat a smile and stroked her head, then he glared at me and vanished. I’m not even going to speculate on why he stopped by, other than to annoy me, or maybe he just needed to see the cat.

The train of thought is lost forever.

But I know that if you have a cat to pet then everything will be alright. If you have a cat your most troublesome Ghost will fade away with a smile on his face.

That’s it for today. Time to cool off.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

First published here in 2016. The kids got silver in their event. In 2017 they won gold. We’re not going this year but we’re still skating. I’m also still watching out for Nigel. I passed the cemetery where he was buried a few days ago and thought about him. As for the cats, they’re still sitting on the table by my laptop. 

 

Editors

My Editors Gloria and Oscar: Food and a box is all they ask for (usually)

 

2018 AGT and Cocktails. Summer is here!

vm_eve

Summer is here and that means the Vampires gather in front of the big screen TV and watch America’s Got Talent. It also means we drink cocktails and I record all of the comments from the Peanut Gallery.

This well worn tradition of blogging about the show started in the summer of 2012. We’ve been watching it since 2008 when my daughter and I discovered it one night while we were on the road for the artistic roller skating regional championships. We were hooked. We still haven’t hooked my husband Teddy but that’s ok because he drinks, makes rude comments and makes cocktails for the rest of us.

So without any more boring history let’s get on with the show. Right now the show is in the audition stage. Two acts have already received the Golden Buzzer. That means they can go on without a second try-out. One was one of those dance troupes with a zillion kids being thrown into the air and twisted around like so many cute pretzels. Teddy thinks the man who run these groups have latent tendencies towards pedophilia. Hey, I’m just writing down what I hear. I’m not overly fond of those groups either.

The SECOND Golden Buzzer, which was pressed by Simon himself was for Michael Ketterer a pediatric mental health nurse who is also the father of six children. He and his wife had two girls, then they adopted four boys. Michael’s story was that he wanted to show his kids that they could dream big. He also showed everyone that he not only has a big heart but a soulful big voice.

For the first two auditions there weren’t very many acts that stood out. Oh, except the CATS. There were CATS that did tricks. Big fluffy house cats that did amazing tricks! We loved those cats. See the link to the cats at the end of this post.

So last night we watched auditions #3. Yes, we record everything so we can fast forward thought commercials and stuff we get bored with.

My husband, kids, brother Val, Grandmama Lola, and a few friends were over. I was going to give the usual warning about snarky rude comments and bad language but there wasn’t any. By far round three was the best so far. Alright I take that back. We fast forwarded through a large block of dancers (Clara said they copied their moves from YouTube videos.) Most of the dance groups are on the level or below the level of most high school or middle school dance groups. Just an observation. We also fast forwarded the circus acts and the weird techno acts because they are BORING.

But this is what we liked:

This precious 13 year old just might end up being the 2018 Winner (if the cats don’t get it)

I usually don’t like “Quick Change” acts but this is an exception. These two put on a great show, and they were adorable.

And finally… OMG this guy was brilliant and funny and weird. We loved it. And no, he isn’t really German.

Teddy said that the AGT folks should just give the cat act from the first audition group a million dollars just because they’re a CAT ACT.  This is seriously fun.

AND NOW IT IS TIME FOR COCKTAILS!

Summer Chai Chai Cocktail

Last night Teddy fixed something different.

  • 4 ounces cold Chai Tea. Use unsweetened tea bags and either brew it and chill it, or make sun tea. Make it strong. 1 bag for each cup.
  • 3/4 ounce passion fruit puree or juice. You can also use pineapple, or any other tropical fruit depending on what you like.
  • 1 ounce blood (leave out if you’re not a Vampire)
  • 1/2 ounce sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 ounce balsamic vinegar

Mix this all together and pour over a glass full of crushed ice. Garnish with mint if you have it on hand.

So have fun, drink responsibly, sing a song, smile, hug your kids, and enjoy the summer. I’ll see you next week for more AGT fun and cocktails.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

vm_rick

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burning Question #13: Be Positive. Thank You.

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Once again it is Saturday and time for the 13th of 50 Burning Questions. Answer YES or NO on the quick and easy poll below. Your answer is secret and will not be sold.  

Oscar Wilde

I have always adored Oscar Wilde.

“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” ~ Oscar Wilde

This (below) is my cat Oscar who was named after Oscar Wilde. Stay with me here a bit… We had a gray kitten, but I didn’t want to name him Dorian Gray, so I called him Oscar. That was eight years ago. He is wild, especially when we’re trying to sleep. And like Oscar Wilde, my Oscar is a talker.

Marla Todd _ Oscar Gray

This is Oscar. I love this cat so much.

But we’re not here to talk about cats, Oscar Wilde, or donuts, or the fact that some people spell it “doughnuts.” Why the fur-ball would anyone spell it doughnuts?

But Oscar Wilde, and my cat have a point there. You want to see the donut. I mean, don’t YOU?

What we’re talking about is blood, because as you all know this IS a Vampire blog. And don’t you forget it. OK you can forget it if you’re afraid of Vampires.

We’re also talking about ill tempered Vampires, and others who insist on being negative all of the time and are all doom and gloom and oozing with negativity. Who needs that?

This is also a PARENTING blog so just be forewarned if you’re afraid of parents, or children.

I know you’re all getting tired of me, and I’ve completely confused you (on purpose mind you) so here you go… Burning Question #13… drum roll please.

Burning Question #13: Is a pessimist’s blood type B-negative?

 

jellydonut

Always go for the jelly filled ones.

All negativity aside… I mean, how can you get negative when donuts are involved? Thank you so much for dropping by. I’ll see you next Saturday, or hopefully before then. B-positive!

xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Cats, Lies, and Vampire Parenting Blogging

I was out on my back deck this morning holding my cat Oscar close because I love him. I love the feel of him, the way he hugs my shoulder and purrs. He is so warm and soft (like a rabbit). I heard a noise and looked out in the field to see a coyote trotting along. Oscar tensed up but held on, not with his claws but like a small child would. We both watched the coyote. It glanced up at us then turned and trotted of the way it had come. I held Oscar tight and told him “Come in before somebody eats you.”

Warm things are nice, especially if one is a Vampire. Don’t get me wrong, I love a cool touch but, anyway, I thought of my lunch meeting with Jack, my regular lunch date and regular human. He also knows I’m a Vampire a fact that has complicated our once simple symbiotic relationship.

Jack was out of his shirt, my hands were on his shoulder. He kissed me lightly and pulled me down next to him on the couch. My kiss moved to his neck and just as I was about to sink in my fangs Jack says, “Stop, I can’t do this today. I’m giving in a blood drive tomorrow. They called yesterday needing my type.”

I stopped. I could have continued. But I’m not that kind of Vampire. I’m the kind who blogs about parenting and being nice. Needless to say I was sorely disappointed. I could have ripped his throat out. But I just sort of sat there feeling a bit disappointed.

I stood up and sort of tried to think of some witty thing to say. Jack came to me and pulled me close. “I know you like my warmth. Let me share that with you.”

I ran my hands down his arms, over his chest then around his waist, setting my face on his shoulder. I could hear his heart beating.

Then Jack said, “I saw your blog.”

That shook me out of any dreams of blood lust or any other kind of lust.

“Which one?” I had to ask for this isn’t the only one.

“Vampire Maman, musings of a Modern Vampire Mom. I liked it. You write just like you talk.” He went on to talk about his favorite posts and how he liked the short stories and the parenting stuff and writing on the ancient and elderly. He liked the humor (thanks Jack.) He said I was right on target.

“Good.” I said that not knowing what else to say at the time. For a rare moment I just wanted to be quiet. OK it isn’t that rare, but at that time I just wanted still. Like when he’d found out I was a Vampire I was feeling a bit exposed. I wanted run.

But I stayed. I held him close, because sometimes just something warm is nice. He turned me around to face a mirror. His image was clear. My own Vampire image was a shadow or like a ghost. It was like the image in a daguerreotype that vanishes when turned or shown in the sunlight.

“Look at my eyes, in the mirror and I’ll become clear.”

We stood there looking at each other in the glass, so different, yet connected in our weird way. My image became as crisp as his, as so did my nerves.

We talked a little more about our kids and other odds and ends of everyday life. I guess it is those odds and ends and kids that make it all clear for us.

Just like with Oscar, I suddenly felt protective and wanted to say to Jack “come in before somebody eats you.” I kept that thought to myself.

As I left he gently kissed me again, as he always does. He didn’t say he’d keep checking the blog because he knows me well enough to know that the uncomfortable truths are always wrapped up in lies and disguise, but in the light of the day it is like a warm hug or a kiss that brings it all into the light, or at least makes me feel like I can be clearly seen.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

This post was first published in 2013.