What We’re Talking About Today (with my kids)

I started writing this post a week ago while I was visiting my kids in Southern California. OK, just the title.

Since then, a long standing and troubling subject of these talks has resurfaced – shootings. Be it a grocery store or a school it seems that shootings are somehow normal. That is, at least a segment of our population who values clumps of cells in a woman’s body, and guns, over the lives of living breathing people – especially living breathing children. They use the term “founding fathers” to justify owning assault weapons that are made for killing humans (not animals for food.) The founding fathers would be horrified if they know their words and intent were used to justify parading around guns like fools and brushing off mass killings of innocent people.

Grocery store home deliveries will last much longer than the current pandemic because people will live in fear of being killed for the simple act of grocery shopping. They’ll fear going out for a massage because some asshole said he had issues with his own perverted sexual hang-ups brought on by religion, bigotry, and his own sick and twisted selfishness. The school shootings will start up again because young men will have access to guns in the homes of their family members, or guns they easily purchase when they turn eighteen.

My daughter was born in 1999 the year of the Columbine killings. It should have stopped then and there. It should have stopped. There is NO REASON this should be happening.

There are patterns. A few diverge but there are patterns. The patterns are ignored. The shootings continue.

With the advent of Covid-19 and various other changes in my life I’m not writing as many blog posts because I’ve sort of lost my sense of humor.

It also had to do with the suffocating political environment we were all living in.

On a good note, since this is a parenting blog of sorts, my daughter has been accepted into the Masters program at a major Southern California University for a double Masters in Public Policy and Urban Planning. I am over the moon happy that this funny, happy, positive kid has worked her ass off and worked smart to get where she wants to be.

Of course I’m freely joking that my daughter got in and I’m not going to jail for it.

Cheating in anything is bad. Cheating at parenting is absolutely the worst. If you cheat to get your child into a school you don’t only set them up for failure but you also take a place from a child who deserves it. Of course if you cheat to get your kid to the front of the line you aren’t the kind of person who gives a shit about kids who aren’t yours.

My husband got the dog a new bed and the cat sleeps on it. The Internet if full of photos of cats sleeping on the dog bed while the huge dog sleeps on the floor next to it.

While I was in Southern California my kids and I walked along the beach and talked about everything under the sun and moon. We talked about movies, books, my daughter’s school, my son’s work, the environment, how huge cargo ships are, gardening, and dogs.

I always tell my readers to talk with their kids. Now that they’re grown we are still talking.

Museums are opening back up.

Restaurants are opening back up.

Maybe even movie theaters will start opening.

Werewolves and Ghosts have done alright, but believe me, it will be a lot easier for Vampires right now.

What is left in my coffee cup from a few minutes ago is getting cold, so I’ll stop my ramblings soon.

I miss those days of driving to school in the car with my kids and talking about whatever was on the radio or on their minds. I feel like those talks helped make them the successful young adults they are today. At least it got them thinking about the big picture – the world outside of their own small circle of family, friends, and school.

Stay safe. Keep wearing your masks. Be kind. Don’t be a dick. Talk to your kids. Hug your dog, especially if a cat has taken it’s bed. Check in on those who are elderly, alone, or need extra help. And kiss a Vampire – you’ll thank me for it later.

I’ll be back soon – hopefully with something fun.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Captain Asshole & The Character of a Cat

Due to a ongoing change in attitude my cat has taken on the title Captain Asshole.

Since March 2020 I’ve more or less been home. Yes, the world has changed for all of us. This means the world has changed for cats. It used to be that they, and by they I mean cats, used to spend a lot of time alone. Now that I’m around more my cat Oscar expects a lot more of me, and he is, well, basically an asshole.

Oscar goes by many names. Baby Boy. Boo Boo Kitty. Idiot Boy. Sweetie Pie. Captain Asshole.

There is also another asshole named Gloria the Calico Cat aka Itty Bitty Kitty. She is the reason why I can’t have nice things. Every bit of furniture in my house has to be covered or she’ll claw it up. We heard getting another cat would help. She’d have a buddy after her beloved Angus the Manx went over the Rainbow Bridge. We got her a buddy ten years ago and she still hates him. But this isn’t about her.

Oscar has always been a talker. Recently he talks non-stop about just about everything that pops into his head. He has also become extremely demanding. Come up stairs. I want to go out. I want to come in. I want to go out. I want to come in. I want to go out. I want to come in. I want to go out. I want to go in. Give me treats. Give me treats NOW. Are you asleep? Are you asleep? I need to wake you up. I need to sing you the songs of my people.

A few weeks ago we got new hardwood floors in the downstairs of our home. That meant ripping up old carpet that smelled like every dog and cat that ever lived in our house. It also means that Oscar now has permission to take over the downstairs, previously the territory of Gloria, as his own.

Hardwood also means that Oscar and Alice the 90 pound German Shepard are playing slip and slide all over the place.

Oscar has also taken over the red couch, once the domain of Gloria and only Gloria, and he has taken over Alice’s dog bed.

By the way, when we were painting the walls Oscar peed on the drop cloths, the dog bed, and the dining room table. He might go a year without doing something like that. He won’t tell me why he does it. Maybe he is marking his territory, but maybe he is just being an asshole.

Sometimes I wonder if I should build Oscar his own fort.

I’m not really complaining. I love my pets. I adore them. They’re destructive and fill my house with fur but I can live with that.

A cat might be angry. A cat might be an asshole. What a cat will not be is someone who engulfs themselves in a contrived veil of negativity. A cat might lie to you, but you will always get an honest opinion from a cat.

Despite their contempt for each other Oscar and Gloria often hand out together on the front porch as they defend their property from other cats, and the unseen forces of the universe. They greet guests together with a shower of unabashed cuteness. Sometimes, shock of all shocks, they’ll even share a meal together.

Today it is raining so the cats have been inside all day. One habitually misses the litter box. The other is thinking about scratching up more furniture. Right now they’re both sleeping. Without children in the house I have my cats, and one solo dog who are missing the attention, even though they get more attention now than they ever did.

Stay safe.

Wear a mask.

Be kind.

Hug a cat (if it will let you)

And of course, kiss a Vampire. You’ll thank me for it later.

xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

The Poop

Yesterday my 21 year old daughter shoveled up an entire big brown grocery bag full of dog poop. I didn’t have to ask. She offered.

Our dog is huge. Our yard is fairly large with a lot of oak and citrus trees, no lawn, and some raised beds for a garden. It is a fairly wild undeveloped space that backs up to even a wilder undeveloped space. Between the garden and the compost bin way out back the dog crapped everywhere.

The point of this story is to say how proud I am of my child, and to be snarky, on my biggest snark subject of 2020. It isn’t political shit (pun intended.) It isn’t about shitty people who won’t wear masks and social distance. It isn’t even about toilet paper. It is about shitty people who raise shitty kids then expect to have the right to shit all over everyone else.

Yes, I’m talking about the school admission scandals.

Entitled, and frankly stupid idiot kids like the fashion/beauty influencer Olivia Jade, were getting spots in universities (private and public) because their parents cheated they system. The parents took fake sports photos, bribed coaches, paid people to take tests for their brats, and assorted other lies and pay-offs.

This is nothing new. A lot of famous people, including well known public officials have been known to have cheated their way through school admissions and straight through to graduation.

Cheating is not cool. It is a crappy thing to do. It might help the cheater but it hurts everyone, including hard working kids, and I specifically mean middle class kids who work their asses off to get into good schools. I’m talking about the kids who don’t get into the schools and programs they deserve to be in because a cheater took their place.

My daughter got into a top university on her own. She did the research. She filled out the applications. She took the tests. She wrote the essays. Her school was not involved in the recent admission scandals. If she goes to a university that was involved in a scandal for graduate school I’m going to have a shirt made that says, “My child is going to _______ and I didn’t have to go to prison for it.”

I guess the real point to my snark today is that an entitled brat like Olivia Jade, or so many more like her, would never volunteer to pick up poop so her mom wouldn’t step in it every time she went out to her garden. And after that we talked about fellowships, school, the environment, making a difference in the world, favorite movies, and dogs.

The point of this isn’t to be negative about the children of the rich and famous. Many successful, hard working, smart, and compassionate, young people have rich and famous parents. But the point is that their parents actually parented. Their parents gave them the skills and values so they wouldn’t even consider cheating to be ok in any universe.

In this world nobody is entitled to anything. Add that to your list of parenting things to do. Your child is not entitled to anything.

But, all young people are entitled to the opportunity to try, and to dream, and to take a chance. It is their opportunity, not something the parents should do for them.

Sooooooo that is the shit for today. The poop is scooped.

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Be kind. Don’t cheat. Check in on those who might be sick, old, alone, fragile, or just need extra help. And as always, kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Fiction: Play Date

The last day stuck in his memory.

Josh had left the meeting and work for the day. He needed to think. 

Coffee and avocado toast. He’d found a seat by the window. Four hours of negotiations on the acquisition. 

His phone dinged quietly with a text from his sister Kitty. She’d started the seedlings for her summer garden. It was only March but it was time for her. Every year he’d go to her house and help her can salsa and a myriad of other wonderful magical things she’d fit into Mason jars. Then they’d go on her deck where they’d drink beer and eat chips and salsa, and talk about everything, and nothing at all. She’d always pin her hair up and wear dangling earrings.  Her laugh was infectious. He had needed that laugh after all of his meetings that morning. Jake would call her later.

Right now it was an exhausting and shitty day.  Nobody was happy. Nobody would listen. He’d had an intelligent well thought out plan. It was a cluster fuck of already made ignorant opinions. Nothing was backed up with facts or experience. 

On the way home a ladder had fallen from a utility truck, hit a car a few places ahead of him on the freeway.  The next thing Jake knew a woman was holding his arm and they were both covered with blood. 

His arm was broken, his face was bruised and cut, his entire body felt like he’d been beaten with a baseball bat then thrown off of a cliff.  His car was totaled.  Stitches went from his left ear down his jawline to his chin.  Three pins or screws or something was now holding his arms together. The headaches lasted weeks. 

The woman went to the hospital with him. She held his hand. Her name was Scarlet. The last thing he said to her was, “make sure someone feeds my cat.”

It was the last day before everything shut down. 

At home he didn’t need a car. He couldn’t have driven anyway for the next few weeks. Using a keyboard was almost impossible with two hands. If he had to go out he could take an Uber or Lyft. Food could be delivered. Cat food and litter could be delivered. No problem. 

Zoomie the gray tabby kitten was delighted to keep him company.  Unfortunately his girlfriend had moved back in with her ex the day he got out of the hospital.

By April a new car had been delivered and now had almost eighty miles on it. He wasn’t going anywhere. All work was at home. At least work was going well and keeping him busy. He’d hired three people he’d yet to meet in person.  A woman named Emerald had been cleaning his house since he’d come home with the broken arm.

By June the depression rolled in so he would put Zoomie in a backpack or in his harness and go for long walks.  By July his sister was canning without him. His brother and parents had driven down to see him a few times. It was always great to see them. They begged him to come up and stay with them but he was too busy with work. He’d bake cookies for Emerald to bring home to her husband and kids. 

At the end of July he could pull his hair back in a ponytail. He’d started working out again. Zoomie was getting huge.  

One morning on Facebook he saw where a friend of a friend posted something about a dog. My brother passed away. His dog Daisy needs a home. Daisy is a sweet five-year-old German Shepard/Lab mix. She is well trained. We don’t want to take her to a shelter.

Without thinking more than five minutes about it Josh called the number. A man answered. He said his neighbor would drop off the dog.

A few hours later he got at text. I’m outside in your front yard with Daisy.

Daisy stood wagging her tail and wiggling with happiness. A pretty brown haired woman wearing a sundress held Daisy’s leash. At least he thought she was pretty. Her eyes were pretty above the mask.

She introduced Daisy to Josh, then said, “How are you Josh? Do you remember me?”

He couldn’t quite place her.

“I was in that accident when you broke your arm. I was in one of the other cars. I’m Scarlet. Do you remember me?”

“Oh, wow. Scarlet. It’s good to see you.”

“Good to see you too. You look good. Thank you for the nice letter and the flowers,” then she laughed, “and the toilet paper.”

In September Josh cleaned out the texts in his phone and found Scarlet’s message. I’m outside in your front yard with Daisy. Right now Daisy was at his feet snoring with Zoomie curled up at her side.

Outside the smoke from the fires made it unhealthy to walk. Josh put on music and danced while playing with Zoomie and Daisy. Then he pulled his hair back and attended Zoom meetings, trying to look like he was normal.  He noticed how the scar on his face showed up, not so much ugly or disturbing but interesting. 

There were Zoom calls with work and friends. His family stopped by once a month. A few friends came by. Josh talked to his neighbors. The world was opening up. It wasn’t the world where he’d stop for coffee and avocado toast when he wanted to think. This was a world of protests, and weirdness, hate, and mean politics. But in his own bubble it was a world of people who’d reached out. It was a world where he treasured each phone call and guarded visitor. It was a world where Zoomie and Daisy were his own tiny family with their own habits and secrets.

One Saturday right before Halloween he received a text. Hi. Do you mind if I bring my dog Crystal over? She and Daisy used to be great friends. In fact, they’re sisters from the same litter.  I thought it would be fun to have a play date.

Josh thoughtI could use a play date too. 

Then he texted back,That would be awesome. Bring Crystal over anytime.

Opening and closing his hand Josh still felt a little bit of numbness and a little ache.  He’d be fine. It would be more than fine.

~ end

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Note: I’m just fooling around with some ideas for much larger and more detailed stories. As we all stay at home, worry about the election tomorrow, and think about the well being of those we care about we’re still side tracked by other challenges. Fortunately good things still happen. This might get worked into my 2020 NaNoWriMo project. You never know.

Have fun. Stay creative. Stay safe. Wear your mask. Vote. Check in on those who might need extra help both mentally and physically. Hug your kids. Kiss a Vampire. And keep checking back for more silly stuff.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Photo by Carlos Mossmann on Pexels.com

Short Story Sunday: Too Hot To Wear Black

Damn. At 107°F is was way too hot to wear black.

It felt like 250°F inside because the air conditioning had gone out the day before. It was Sunday and nobody could come out and fix it until Tuesday or maybe even Wednesday.

Elizabeth looked in the closet and grabbed a blue and yellow sundress. Screw wearing any kind of bra. It was too hot for that. She slipped on a pair of black flip flops and small diamond posts. It was even too hot for dangling earrings or hoops. Earrings in this weather tended to get hot and burn her neck.

She threw some extra clothes, her laptop, the book she was reading, and whatever else she’d need for the next few days in a backpack.

In the kitchen two dogs were laying on the tile, which was still cooler than anything else in the house. Sage, an extremely large black and tan German Shepard was snoring. Jack, an old yellow Lab mix with a black tail and white feet was wagging his tail as he hoped his cuteness would bring treats.

After packing up dog bowls, toys, treats and kibble she called the dogs out to the car.

When she opened the car door the blast of hit air was like a friggin furnace. The dogs jumped in the backseat. Elizabeth turned on the air conditioner and headed out.

Damn it was hot. The radio played some Fleetwood Mac song. Damn she hated Fleetwood Mac. How could anyone listen to that crap. She flipped through the stations and got an awful live version of Jimmy Buffet singing Boat Drinks in front of an obviously stoned crowd, then she got some whiny girl singing about her boyfriend. She’d had enough with annoying female vocalists. She turned on the classical station but someone had decided it was a good day to play brass band music. It reminded her of Monty Python. Finally she stopped at Oh My My by Blue October. Finally something that she could sing along to and wouldn’t make her want to scream every cuss word she knew.

At a stop light both of the dogs started baking at a car with three barking dogs. All tails were wagging. It was just a hey hey hey we’re all riding today.

The dogs had been fed before they left but Elizabeth’s stomach growled. It was so hot lately that food wasn’t a priority and frankly it was a hassle. She’d eaten the day before when she went to her friend Jax’s house. He’d cut her hair for her and she’d had lunch there. Nine inches off. She shook her head and let the new layered bob swing against her cheeks. She loved it. It had been a long time since she’d had sort hair. This was fun and sort of messy and perfect.

Passing the cemetary Elizabeth glanced over at the crypts under the trees. Even in the shade it would be over 120 inside those things. She could almost hear bones cracking and dried flesh splitting underneath suits and lace dresses. How could anyone think Vampires lived in crypts. Not only was it too hot in the summer but there wouldn’t be anyplace to put your books or clothes, or anything else. There’d be no guarantee of any Internet connections. It would be nasty and uncomfortable even in a large family size crypt. Where did people get the ideas about Vampires living in crypts. The ghosts alone would drive anyone mad.

Arriving at her boyfriend Austin’s house Elizabeth hearded the dogs through the front door. She looked into the large family room where two college aged girls were watching a movie. Since the pandemic Austin were letting them stay there. They’d been kicked out of their campus housing. He was a professor living alone in a rambling old Arts and Crafts style house so he had room for the girls and a male graduate student.

Austin was in the kitchen cutting up vegetables.

“It is soooooo hot,” she said, kissing him. She didn’t bother with social distancing. This was a safe spot.

“Oh wow,” said Austin. “I love your hair like that.” He ran his hands through it and kissed her again.

“Thanks. Damn it is hot today. My air conditioning is out. I’ll be here a few days if you don’t mind.”

She opened the freezer and pulled out an ice tray. Then she filled a tall glass with red frozen cubes and topped it with ginger ale and rum.

“That looks disgusting,” said Austin. He let her keep frozen human blood in his freezer. When a man is in love with a Vampire he’ll let her keep just about anything in his freezer.

“It is lovely. You should try it sometime,” she said.

The dogs danced all around Austin.

“Where’d the dogs come from?”

Elizabeth smiled. “Sage and Jack. Their owner died. They’re Covid Orphans. They would have gone to a shelter so I took them. What? Don’t look at me like that. I’ve had dogs before.”

“When was the last time you had a dog?”

“I don’t know. 1937. It was 1937. I had a beautiful sweet Afghan Hound named Bosco.”

Elizabeth filled a plastic bag with ice. “I’m going up to your room for a nap. I didn’t get any sleep last night. Do you think the girls will mind if the dogs hang out with them?” She didn’t wait for an answer. Austin had said something about waking her when dinner was ready but she hardly heard him. That would be in about three hours.

Austin’s bedroom was cool and dark. She dropped her dress to the floor lay on top of the comforter with the ice under her neck.

Oh my my. She closed her eyes and slept dreaming of a good foggy beach and a warm handsome man.

It was summer and way too hot to wear black.

~ end

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As We Were: A Man and a Much Loved Dog

teddyanddog

A handsome man

A fashionable suit

A much loved dog

A fitting tribute

CDV 1860’s

From the beginning of photography there have always been photographs of people and their dogs. We love our dogs, and they love us back and grab our hearts in remarkable ways that we can’t even describe.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

juliette

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

This is part of the Vampire Maman series As We Were: A series inspired by 19th Century portraits where I share 19th century photos from my personal collection. For more please click here.