Attending Marvels, Parenting, Smoke, Fire, Flying in the Age of Covid-19 and Stupid Stuff.

The fires in California and the Covid-19 Pandemic continue to rage on. 

This morning #45, a man with a name I shall not mention because I will go into an angry rage, was in town to tell us what we are doing wrong, spreading ignorance and generally making a horrible situation even worse.

Before he arrived I was lucky enough to catch a plane going 500 miles south of my hometown. 

I usually don’t comment on politics but after raising my children in a time when school shootings was a common occurrence I feel I can say whatever I want. Anyway his is MY blog.

Between Sacramento and Long Beach there was nothing but smoke. I looked out the window of the plane for an hour. I can usually see farmlands, mountains, cities, small towns, and even Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Today I saw nothing but smoke until we were just a few minutes from the Long Beach airport.

Since I’m visiting my children, and since I’m the mom I was tasked with bringing a few items with me. One was coffee. Apparently nobody in Southern California has coffee as good as Sacramento’s own Chocolate Fish Coffee. Another was roller skates. The average pair of competition custom dance skates with wheels weighs about 378 pounds. At least it feels like that trying to haul them around an airport and get them through security. Now you know why skaters have such great legs. Those skates are heavy.

Due to the pandemic the plane was only half way full. All middle seats were empty. I was the only one in my section. 

As I pulled out my tote bag I discovered I’d left my book at the airport. It was a well worn copy of one of my favorite books of all time: Attending Marvels: A Patagonian Journal by George Gaylord Simpson. The book is a journal about finding dinosaur bones in early 1930’s Patagonia. It isn’t just about the bones. Simpson brilliantly introduces the reader to the wide variety of people he meets (exotic and not so exotic) and most of all introduces us to the fantastic and almost unreal Patagonian landscape. I love this book above almost all others. It had such an influence on me. I can’t explain it because I usually don’t dig for bones. On the other hand I’m always up for adventure. If you can check the book out at the library or you can get a cheap copy on eBay. 

Luckily I’m one of those people who can sit on a plane for an hour and a half and do things in my head. I looked at the tops of the heads of the other passengers. I listened. There wasn’t as much talking at all – not like before the days of Covid-19. But up front I noticed there were two Vampires sitting together speaking quietly in a mixture of the old Vampire language and English. One had honey blonde hair and the other a dark auburn. I didn’t know them or introduce myself. It was just an observation. I didn’t feel like meeting anyone new today or invading their space.

I’m down here for a week with my children. They’re busy but getting weary of the smoke, the pandemic, the feelings of unresolved social injustice, and the environmental mess ignored and left up to them to fix. 

One is spending her senior year of college and working online. The other just received a gradate degree and is working online and trying to start a business with his best buddy from childhood.

Sure they’re Vampires, as are most of their closest friends, but the same things weigh heavy on them that weigh heavy on all young people these days.

When I return home I’ll replace the windshield wipers on my car that have been ruined from the ashes and grit that has rained from the sky. I’m thankful that it is somewhat clear here. It is still smoky but I can see real sunlight. 

While I’m home I’ll savor my time with my children and try to forget everything except us. I’m here, as always, to give them support, and love, and to make them smile.

I’ll have more on our adventures as the week progresses.

Stay safe, wear a mask, turn off the news, be kind to others and yourself. And if you get a chance kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Technical Difficulties and Just Trying to Chill

Forgive any weirdness. I’m trying the new block editor on WordPress. I don’t know where any of the settings are. I’m also on a borrowed tablet as my computer is in the shop. I brought it in a week ago today. The guy in the shop said they’d contact me in three business days. I’m not sure what days they’re doing business but it has been a week. Despite the fact that my computer has survived MIDDLE SCHOOL and HIGH SCHOOL, and by that I mean sharing it with CHILDREN, this is the first time I’ve had to have it in the shop.

Children do weird things when they’re around computers. They pull the keys off of the keyboards. They pour sticky stuff on the track pads. They drop them. They eat over them with the opinion that the more crumbs they drop on the keyboard the better. They paint the outside of lap tops with nail polish and acrylic paint.

I haven’t even started on the weird software and apps they download.

If I ever get my somewhat trusty 2012 MacBook Pro back I know I will get judgmental scowls by the guys in the computer repair shop. This isn’t one of those dark geeky holes that are run like a later day umbrella repair shop. It is a sleep modern place in a somewhat trendy part of town about a block from a HUGE Intel facility. Please, guys, don’t judge me. I know the real problems started when my huge dog slipped her huge horse sized head under my arm and caused me to spill coffee all over my track pad and keyboard about a month ago. It might have been more than a month ago. It might have been two or three months ago. I’ve lost track of time.

My husband suggested I just get a new computer but … I need to see if this one can be fixed. That is just the way I roll.

As I write this I’m looking out the window to my back yard and the dry field behind my house. The clearing has happened for fires but that is small comfort. If a fire rolls through the narrow ravine/canyon there will be no stopping it. There aren’t any fire roads.

Already there are fires exploding all over California. The air is smoky. That adds insult to injury when it comes to yet another day of triple digit weather. My heart goes out to those who have been evacuated or are facing evacuation.

This morning I was going to talk about Lola’s latest adventures and lies but I’ll get to that later. Maybe later today.

For so many, including myself, it is difficult to concentrate on anything right now. Adding stupid things like computer repairs, car repairs, broken air conditioning, and hot water heater leaks just adds to it.

College is virtual this fall. Yesterday my daughter said, “Going to college online is a lot better than having permanent lung damage.” We discussed this after hearing news reports of colleges in other states opening with optional mask requirements. Students and staff came down with Covid-19. No shit. Thoughts and prayers aren’t going to help you there. Wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing your hands will help.

My not-so-smart phone isn’t working that well either. I can’t get online with it. I can’t text photos to most people. The screen is broken. Yes, I’m low maintenance. I’m not worried about my hair, my nails, or much of anything else. Everything is pretty basic right now.

But last night I had a Zoom class and I couldn’t even get on with this tablet. I tried to download software and put in 34,000 passwords with no results. Finally I think I set up something and the new password I created was CatShit123! Then my husband came in and told me to use his computer. It worked. Thank goodness something worked.

I know I’m just whining. I’m the mom so I rarely whine. I didn’t even whine or use bad words (except for the passwords) last night. I think most of us are doing that. We’re just going along and realizing that everyone is dealing with the same cat shit.

This morning I saw where some bitch was cutting down police lines in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and yelling about masks, and generally being an idiot. A young man in his 20’s filmed her. He was totally an American kid, but she started to spew racial slurs at him due to his dark hair and skin which was slightly darker than hers. She told him to go back to where he came from. I’m sure he came from someplace a few blocks away. WTF? Seriously. What the fuck is wrong with people? Just wear a mask and realize that some places will be closed for a while. Turn on Netflix and watch The Witcher again. Go watch The Floor is Lava. Just chill. Don’t call people nasty names. Don’t be a racist because a playground is closed.

Maybe I’ll try a DROP CAP.

Oh look, a giant letter.

I’ve got to get more coffee and go out and make sure most of my plants haven’t died.

I’ve also put a ban on anything political. The thought of all of that childish and stupid insanity makes me truly want to drop F bombs.

Other than that I’m painting walls and canvases. My kids are safe. We’re in touch with friends and family. We live in a nice house and not a hot dusty crypt. There is a lot to be thankful for.

I can’t figure out how to make a bulleted list so you just get a plain list today, but it is still important.

Wear a mask.

Wash your hands.

Kiss a Vampire (it is safe. We can’t give you Covid-19)

Call your kids.

Pet your cat.

Stay safe.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Food Supply

“I don’t care what they do but they start to mess with the food supply it pisses me off.”

I listened as my friend Howard ranted about people who don’t wear masks and believe in conspiracy theories.

We have friends who believe they can use the situation to their advantage but I’m with Howard on this one.

Howard is a big guy with big shoulders, big hands, big feet, a big voice, and big brown eyes and nobody in their right mind can resist those big brown eyes. He can also be incredibly scary if he wants to be. Nobody messes with Howard. So when Howard says wear a mask you wear a mask.

“I don’t want to go out to get something to eat and end up killing someone because they have a weakened system to Covid-19. People don’t just get over this thing. There are long lasting effects. Mental too if you think about it. This thing hits hard and scares people, not just people who get sick but people who live with them. Stress sours everything and everybody. Seriously, stress is a total appetite killer for me.”

As I listened to Howard I thought about how stupid some people were equating mask wearing with their rights. Rights for what? The right to make someone else sick? The right to get sick? What is so difficult about a mask? It isn’t like the old days where you had to be the same religion as everyone… oh, right, there are places where that is still expected. I’m sure some of the people protesting masks are like that thinking that thoughts and prayers and waving their hands up in the air will save them. Fat chance. Howard and I have been around for long enough to know that will never happen. You have to save yourself. You can’t depend on anyone or anything else to do it for you.

“Why do we always end up taking care of things? You know we always do. What makes it a real pisser is that they never even know.”

“That isn’t a bad thing Howard. Would you want them to know?”

“I see your point. You going out tonight?”

“I’m staying in. Just got a case of blood from Dave’s Bottle Shop. I got the good stuff. What to say in with me.”

“Sure. Thanks. I didn’t want to deal with anyone tonight anyway.”

So here we were, just two Vampires hanging out at home like everyone else. Weird times, but we’ll get through it. At least I hope we will.

~ end

Thoughts on Summer Heat, Schools, and Dog Walks

I can’t wait until fall comes. I don’t mean that lingering September heat that is like a hot slap in the face with a blow torch. I mean real fall with cool air and where the temperature stays under 75°F.

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Every morning I take my dog out for a walk. One of our stops is the local school which is also a park during non-school hours, which is always right now. The highlight of the school trip is getting a drink out of the fountain. Not for me – for the dog.

If school ever starts again we’ll change our morning route. The school we walk in is an old much loved public school turned into a public Waldorf charter school. The gardens are still growing. Staff is keeping the school clean.

When school was in session I loved watching the kids, all wearing sun hats, go for walks to the trails by the lake we live near. The youngest would hold hands or hold a rope so that they’d stay together. It was precious. The school has such a sense of community like the public charter Montessori school my children went to. The Waldorf school is a community and part of our neighborhood community. The same goes for the newer and larger neighborhood public elementary school down the street.

My daughter will be taking the fall quarter, the first quarter of do fourth year of college, online. It sucks but it is what has to be online school. We can manage that. With all of the money government, both federal and local, they could have online schools and computers for every kid if they wanted to. If they really wanted to they could make it happen.

I can’t imagine teachers, school cafeteria workers, custodians, teaching assistants, administrative staff, and others who work for schools coming down with Covid-19. I can’t imagine the horrible nightmare of children getting the virus.

Too little too late can’t be the lament of our education systems. We need to adjust and to see this as a public health issue. The lives of our teachers, children, and school workers depend on it.

Cafeteria’s can still be open for take out meals for children, or social distancing while school is out. Other services can adjust to meet the needs of children and families.  It can be done.

In the meantime, to switch gears to something nice, here are some photos of one of my walks earlier this week.

  • Talk to with your kids
  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t complain or whine too much in front of your children. They’re stressed out about this too.
  • Kiss a Vampire (it will be ok. Vampires don’t transmit this thing)
  • Check in on the elderly and those who might need extra help or love.
  • Stay in touch with zoom, blogs, and other social media – or just pick up the phone and CALL someone you care about.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Pandemic Superhero Zoom – or – Put it OVER Your Nose and Mouth

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“Oh my gosh, Betty, I haven’t seen you in like forever. Not since we went wine tasting. What was that a month after my wedding?”

He looked at the first square to pop up on his Zoom meeting.

“That was it. Six cases of wine and now thanks to the pandemic we’re down to one. Jimmy, you look great. How are you?”

“Good all things considering. Robin is doing better than I expected. He’s changing careers.” A few more boxes popped up.

Mera, Betty, Mary Jane, Vicki, Iris. It was a good showing. They all greeted each other. Only Vicki and Lois were wearing makeup. Everyone looked pretty casual. Betty and Mera were wearing glasses instead of their usual colored contacts.

Jimmy: Vicki, it’s been forever since we’ve seen you? So you’re staying with Bruce I hear.”

Vicki: He asked me. HE asked me if I’d ride out the pandemic with him at his place. I thought it would be fun. That was in March. Four months later I’m ready to head home.”

Betty: Oh honey, I’m surprised he never asked you to marry him. That man needs a wife.”

Vicki: I might as well be his wife. I have to take care of everything for him. And don’t even get me started on Albert. He should have retired years ago. The poor old guy can hardly get his pants on by himself. I’m up all hours of the night. I keep a baby monitor by the bed in case he falls.

Jimmy: Oh man, I’m sorry to hear that. Robin didn’t say anything to me about it.

Vicki: Bruce is driving me crazy. He always has that fucking light on, you know the one with the wings. I tell him to turn it off, so he turns it off, then as soon as I as I go to do something else he has it on again. He isn’t the one who pays the electricity bill. Those big lights cost a fortune to light up the night sky with. Then everyone down below is wondering what the hell is going on. I tell him that but he won’t listen. He just sits up there on the roof all by himself muttering under his breath like some crazy guy hearing voices or something. And don’t even get me started on the mask thing. I keep telling him that it needs to completely cover his nose AND mouth. But does he do it?

All of the women nodded and muttered in agreement.

Lois: I know what you mean. When he’s just Clark and going down to Lowe’s for something or to the grocery story he wears a mask. When he has to go out flying he refuses. That asshole told me that he won’t catch Covid-19. I told him fine, but he could sure as hell carry it and give it to someone else.

Iris: Tell me about it. My man might be faster than anything known to man but when it comes to getting ideas through his thick skull he is slow as three toed sloth.

Mary Jane: My heart goes out to you ladies. Peter never had problems with masks. He love them. He decorated a bunch with spider web designs.

Lois: Peter is so adorable. You’re lucky to have such a sweetie.

Vicki: She is. Oh my God I am so fed up with the brooding. If the sex wasn’t so great…

Jimmy: Let’s keep it clean ladies. TMI.

Vicki: Sorry. I didn’t mean to vent.

Mera: You’re in a safe space Vicki. We’re here for you.

Vicki: Enough about me. How are you doing?

Mera: OK I guess. I miss everyone. We’re staying in the old light house. Here I’ll show you the view. It is spectacular.

Mera picked up her computer and turned the screen towards the ocean. The others could see dolphins dancing and gray whaled leaping into the air.

Lois: Wow Mera, I want to come stay with you.

Mera: Are you working from home?

Lois: Sure am but Clark thinks I’m some old fashioned house wife. The other day he told me all of his tights had holes in them. He expected me to fix them, or else order him some new ones. I told him the only place I could get tights these days in his size was the cross dresser drag queen sites. He got all pissed off at me. I told him to stop being a homophobic turd. I mean, he isn’t homophobic, you know that Jimmy, but sometimes he is so old fashioned it just drives me nuts.

Jimmy: So did you get him some tights?

Lois: Hell no. I told him to REI and get something practical to wear. He can still fly and be Superman without the silly costume. He can wear some climbing gear or bike shorts.

Betty: I think staying at home away from everything has been good for my Bruce. I don’t have the issue with tights, but he sure goes through pants fast when he Hulks up. He hasn’t lost his tempter or stressed out once in the past three months. I can’t even put into words how wonderful that is.

Jimmy: Well, I have news. Robin is changing careers.

All of the women perked up and asked in unison what was going on.

Jimmy: He got into a graduate program at University of California Davis. He’ll be studying ornithology, you know the study of birds. He’ll be Dr. Robin Grayson when he is done.

The ladies all sent their congratulations. For the next hour they talked in their tiny boxes about staying at home with their unique men. Occasionally a dog, a cat, or a child, an elderly relative would wander in and say hello.

When it was all done Jimmy Olson turned off his laptop and when into the kitchen where his husband Robin was fixing dinner.

Jimmy: Did I tell you how much I love you.

Robin: Every day. I love you to. It’s good to feel appreciated.

  1. Stay home
  2. Wear you mask over your nose and mouth
  3. Don’t think you can’t get this thing
  4. Wash your hands
  5. Appreciate those you’re stuck at home with. We’re all doing the best we can.
  6. Most of all don’t forget the real Superheroes during this pandemic.

 

Superheroes

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

What we’re taking about today: Things we find stupid, frustrating, or maybe good.

Even my kids are weary of people asking Star Wars or Star Trek, or what Hogwarts house do you belong to, or anything about super heroes and their powers.

My kids were home for a while. Garrett left yesterday. Clara leaves tomorrow. They were here for three weeks.

We talk like we always have, about everything and anything. We discuss the news, but try to avoid it. They talk with me. They talk with their dad. We go for walks and talk in the car, and just hang out at home. We’re like everyone else. Maybe we talk a little bit more than everyone else.

Garrett, his friend Randy, and their other temporary roommate Alexis are all graduating from Grad School with no graduation. I plan on doing something for them all but don’t know what yet.

We’ve done drive by graduations and birthdays during the lock down for high school students.

The whole shut down has stopped Garret’s usual romantic head spinning. Seriously, his head is in the clouds when it comes to girls, but there has been a turn in my son lately. Maybe it is Randy’s more casual approach to girls. It could be strange Alexis and her tendency to just shrug off absolutely everything that is thrown her way, but always with sort of a smile and a let it roll attitude.

Garret is waiting for a new job to start. It might start in June. It might start in August. Nobody knows at this time.

Clara is still studying for finals and writing her last papers of the quarter. She is looking at internships. Her boyfriend has plans for the summer that will advance his goals. They’ll drive home in the morning.

My husband Teddy is over the top anxious about both of the kids. I keep telling him that we raised them right. Then again when Teddy was just a few years older than Garrett his entire world was turned upside down in an extremely jarring and unimaginable way. He worries about bad influences, bad directions, bad people, bad career paths. I remind him of house stupid we were at that age. Or at least I used to remind him about how stupid we were but stopped doing that this week. It didn’t seem to matter.

We’re all tense. We’ve been at home. Teddy boarded up his business and will start back later than expected. College is still online with no word of what will happen in the fall. I don’t know what is going on with my work. Everything is up in the air.

We talk about all of the issues that 2020 have brought. Any planning for the future seems strange. We try, but it still seems strange. We’ve had to put off or cancel almost everything.

We don’t talk politics. That is beyond frustrating. OK we do a little bit because it can’t be helped.

We garden. We read. We sit together. We pick out paint colors, pet the cats, walk the dog, and putter around.

The world is never a calm place but lately it seems there is little calm. So within our walls, our neighborhood, and our own souls we try to find that cam place. We do yoga. We laugh at stupid jokes. We tell funny stories.

No matter what our kids are growing up to be their own people with their own lives.

It seems odd that when I started this blog that they were in middle school and high school. We talked about middle school issues, summer camp, school shootings, and dress codes.

Now we talk about the environment, human rights, and the state of the laundry rooms at their apartment complexes. They talk about beach closures, park closures, and where to get the best vintage clothes in Southern California.

My husband and I tell them to be extra careful when they go out at night. I know they will be careful, but we have to tell them anyway.

I raised my birds to fly. Now they’re soaring off in different directions and I can’t see or follow them all the time. I have my own directions to go in.

I will miss my children. My husband will miss them as well in his own way. Then we’ll miss them together as we talk about how proud we are of them. We’ll also talk about how proud we are of ourselves for doing such a fine job of raising them.

The house is quiet now, and for a rare hour I am alone. Even the cats are off sleeping in their corners, or under a bed.

I should be writing new stories, Vampire lore, or complaining about ghosts.

But I’m not. Just waiting till 4:30 when I take the dog to the pet place to get her nails trimmed. Don’t tell me to do it myself. I have a 90 pound drama queen of a German Shepard. I can’t do it.

So that’s it.

  • Stay safe.
  • Feel love.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Listen to your favorite music.
  • Call someone you love and talk.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman