At the Crocker Art Museum

My heart is in this place. The Crocker Art Museum, in Sacramento California, is such an amazing, beautiful, wonderful museum. Put it on your MUST SEE list.

I’m just posting images today. No words necessary. If you have any questions just ask and I will answer. Or go to crockerart.org for more information.

I can’t always explain the wonder and awe and feeling of being so complete and one with the universe when I’m in the presence of art. It is time travel for the soul. It is the essence of being. It was something that transports.  It is like a high that no drug can match. It is magic. ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Enjoy. Oh, one more thing. I’ll post a story inspired (sort of) by the museum. It is also about dogs and full moons and maybe a little romance…maybe.

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California.

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Night Dogs (A Short Story)

Constantine Jones sat on the bottom of the museum steps wondering what just happened.

Earlier that evening he’d put on his best Armani suit, a Hermes silk tie, and was feeling good about the outcome of the evening. It was to be a charity event. Beautiful people would be there dressed up. Everyone would be relaxed, and happy, and it would be delightfully fun.

After discussing art and drinking champagne he’d lured a few well-heeled patrons to remote galleries to see some unusual modern art. There he took a few pints of blood from wrists and left his donors with no memories, except those of a delightful conversation with a well dressed, nice looking young art expert. Well, a 165 year old art expert, but that was besides the point.

Then in the main gallery, the California Room, he saw her standing in front of the Thomas Hill grand painting of Yosemite Valley. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room but she was attractive in a cute sort of California girl way, and had that delightful look of both shyness and playfulness. Her olive green dress shimmered along the neckline with iridescent beads. As she turned her head towards him it was like a lightning bolt had hit his heart. First sight.

Second sight as well. A smallish dog of unknown breed stood next to her with a service dog vest on. A service dog. Why did she need a service dog?

With his usual ease, Constantine approached the woman. He asked if he could pet the dog. She said yes. She told him she’d had a head injury when she was in Afghanistan. She’d been in the Army. He would never guessed. The dog could detect seizures.

They talked for an hour about art, and life, and it seemed as if he’d met his soul mate. It was the best hour he’d ever spent. Then she was gone. He hadn’t even asked her name.

So like Prince Charming, he sat at the bottom of the stairs wondering where Cinderella had gone. All he had of her was one of her earrings he’d found on the steps. It was a gold strand with a single diamond on the end. The diamond was real.

I might as well walk home he thought. It was just a couple of miles. He’d clear out his mind. The full moon, and lights from late night downtown bars and restaurants lit the way.

Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a large dog wearing a back pack. A service dog? A smaller dog in a vest followed. Around the next corner, in an alley, he saw three more large dogs in the dark, all wearing packs.

Maybe it was a training exercise. The dogs could have been German Shepards looking for drugs or a missing person, or even bodies. It was weird, but at this point he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He was a Vampire so weird and unusual was over rated anyway.

Constantine thought about the woman he’d met. She’d been a nurse in a convoy, and there was a bomb. She didn’t say anything else except that her dog was named Tess. She liked Jazz music, indie films, and indie books. Of course she liked art too. She was a high school art teacher now, having moved on from nursing. But sometimes she helped out the school nurse. Weird how he got those details. He’d told her… what had he told her about himself? Not much. He was a Vampire so he never told much, at least not at first. He’d told her that he ran a philanthropic foundation that supported the arts, and other causes. He told her he had two cats and liked astronomy. She also was a watcher of the moon and stars. Then she kissed his cheek, excused herself, and a few minutes later he saw her walking out the front door of the museum.

As a Vampire he usually had a good feel for people but he couldn’t get a final read on her. Again, he thought about the fact that he didn’t even get her name. But the dog was named Tess. Tess the service dog.

Constantine thought about war. He could imagine the horrors she’d been through. He was a child during the Civil War or the War Between the States, whatever they wanted to call it. Those weren’t memories he cared to relive. He’d come out to California as soon as he was old enough to be on his own, as soon as he’d become a Vampire, and stayed there.

As he walked along the dogs with packs stayed in the alleys and shadows. Looking at the local news feeds and police scans from his iPhone he found nothing. One of his neighbors was a K-9 cop. Constantine would ask him about it tomorrow.

Arriving home at his craftsman style bungalow he noticed a few dogs in packs at the end of the street. This was getting weird. Odder, and a nice surprise, was that a woman in a slightly wrinkled olive green dress, and a single diamond and gold earring was standing on his front porch.

Tess the service dog stood beside her. Hanging off of her shoulder was a back pack.

No. It couldn’t be. She wasn’t Cinderella. She was a Werewolf.

They introduced themselves, again, but this time with names. Her name was Diana. Like the goddess of the moon.

“You have my earring,” she said smiling and holding out a hand.

“You have my heart,” he heard himself saying, much to his surprise.

Then he kissed her under the full moon, as Tess sat at attention and wagged her tail.

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Savor

As I walked downstairs from my bedroom I wondered how many tons of cat vomit is flushed down toilets each year?

At 4:12 a.m. the dog had asked to go out. As I made it to the entryway I saw that the poor thing couldn’t wait. She had tummy troubles and made a huge mess. She is a large dog at 85 pounds, so believe me it was a huge mess. After taking a large bag full of the mess out to the garbage I sprayed the carpet and now I’m waiting to scrub it. Fortunately for me the carpet is being replaced with hardwood floors soon.

So what does this have to do with parenting, vampires, or having an empty nest?

My nest is not so empty. Since there are no children in the house the animals are all more aware of MOM. We are all adjusting. The cats are eating quicker and barfing because the dog is trying to eat their food. The dog is eating cat food and getting huge runny poops. I’m trying to give all of them extra attention.

In the meantime my adult children, young but still adults now, are keeping in touch this week though the magic of the smart phone.

I just received photos of costumes from Paramount Studios, and last night photos from Griffith Park Observatory (yes, the one in LA LA Land.)

Then photos came of Pike Place Market and a friend’s new beard. This is the first beard of the group. It is well groomed, blonde, and a new trendy hair cut. Looks good.

They’re on winter break from school and off with friends, one north, and one south.

When I was that age I also tumbled into adventures, and unfortunately more misadventures. If I had the resources, and the wherewithal kids had now… Yes, I think how different it might have been, but does that matter? I’ll let my alternate universe self deal with that. I’m just happy beyond words to see I’ve given my kids the tools they need. Yes, they have those phones, but there are so many more tools one must have.

They’re curious, and full of adventure. They smart. They’re cautious. They’re playful. They’re young and without fear of the unknown.

The other day Nigel the Ghost, who left his body, ok died, around the age of 26 or 27, told me to tell my kids to treasure their youth and make the most of it.

I was feeling snarky so I said, “we’re Vampires.”

Then he said, “then treasure it all the more.”

He is right. And so, no matter who we are, what we are, or how we live, we should treasure everyday, and every experience.

I thought about all of the adventures I’ve been on with my children. There will be many more to come, and I am glad they are having their own adventures as well now. They’re building their libraries of wonderful memories. Yes, I wish I was there, but like I said, we will have our adventures too.

A new lesson for our adult children should be to savor the moments. Plan fun. Continue to play. Take breaks. Watch for falling stars. And to continue to treasure those you love.

Tell them, as they grow older, they should keep an open mind as well. My mind is much more open now than it was when I was a clueless eighteen year old.

Just remember, and this is coming from an old Vampire, to savor all moments. Even if it is just petting a cat who leans against your leg, or the quiet of a cold winter night.

xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Reflections on 2018 and the Year to Come

The first installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary was on December 26, 2014.

Of course I distance myself from Vlad and his cohorts. It’s complicated. I hate that expression, it’s complicated, but in this case it is. Sort of.

I help a lot of new Vampires adjust. I also watch old ones adjust. Sometimes I help. Sometimes I leave that job to others.

2018 was a different kind of year. I have high hopes for 2019. New beginnings along with the ancient. Not being in the possession of a crystal ball I can’t tell the future. But like all of us I can make the future and/or at least influence it.

Outside of my small circle, out in the greater world there are mysteries I can’t predict. I can’t even find spoilers on the Internet. Like will the find if anything is in the Chapel Vault on Oak Island. Is anything on that island except a lot of really cool equipment? Will my dog start coming when I call her? She is now three years old and is the only dog I’ve ever met who ponders the meaning of the word come every time she hears it. Will anyone I know be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship? Will yet another person ask me to turn them into a Vampire? Will my daughter get into the school of her choice? Will my son and his friend Randy continue to be baffled by adulthood? Will people in politics get their heads out of their asses or their asses out of town and let someone else do the job? Will I speak anywhere for large groups of people? I can’t answer most of those questions and right now don’t have the energy to even speculate.

The next year WILL bring posts about art, empty nests, old cemeteries, old photos, Short Story Sunday, and of course Vampires and their complicated lives (which are complicated just like everyone else’s lives.)

The Burning Questions will come to a finish (at least for weekly questions.)

I will continue to work on training my dog. I will work on this blog. I will try not to drive my husband completely crazy. OK I can’t guarantee the last point here. I will no doubt drive him nuts but it is up to him on how to react to my eccentricities.

I’m just sort of pondering and musing here right now. That is all.

Baby New Year will soon come tumbling along, hopefully without projective vomiting, nasty butt rashes, or too many scraped knees. You know how kids are. And with any hope by next December old man 2019 won’t be so worn out that he can’t remember what the Hell just happened during the past twelve months.

I’ll write more resolutions later, maybe. Years ago I used to write predictions on New Year’s Eve and put them in an envelope and seal them up. The envelope would be opened a year later. It was always fun and funny to see what would happen. Of course it was all crazy stuff like who might meet the love of their life, or find a whale in their backyard, or see a space alien, or go to the South Pole. And I would always be surprised to see that a lot of those things would come true. Maybe I should start doing it again.

Christmas is over and the New Year is to come. And in-between we still have the holiday season. Let’s all enjoy it. Let’s all enjoy every season.

By the way, I had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. I never know how many people will be over but my door is always open with good cheer. Blood doesn’t always make family – good cheer and shared time does. Believe me when I say that. We are all family.

Thanks for dropping by. Now think about what you’ll write down to seal in that envelope.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

You Gotta Believe (a silly little story for Christmas Eve)

“Where’s that friend of yours, the Welsh Corgi?”

“Brad?”

“Yeah Brad, the little guy.”

“He went north to the Pole. Seasonal help with the fat man.”

“No shit. With Santa?”

“His third year. He makes enough money to last the rest of the year. In fact in five years he’ll be able to retire.”

“No shit.”

“I shit you not.”

I was sitting in the booth next to a couple of Werewolves, nursing my coffee until Steve showed up.  I pride myself on the number of conversations I’m able to overhear everyday. Then again, I’m always listening. It is my nature to listen and know everything that everybody is saying and feeling. It has nothing to do with being naughty or nice and everything to do with being a Vampire.

Steve slid into the booth and faced me. I mouthed the words, “Werewolves behind me.”

He smiled then took my hand. “You look sexy tonight.”

If I’d had enough blood in my veins I would have blushed.

After coffee and cherry pie we walked the streets, in and out of art galleries and glancing into bars and restaurants. Christmas lights twinkled in some of the windows. Other windows were painted with holly and Christmas tree designs.

Outside of a trendy club we saw a couple of Vampires we knew talking to a group of attractive young women. They nodded at us. We nodded at them.

I kept thinking about the Werewolves in the cafe. “Steve, do you believe in Santa Claus?”

“Why are you asking?”

“One of the Werewolves was saying a small friend of theirs was going up to the North Pole to work for Santa Claus.”

“I didn’t believe in Vampires until, you know, until I became one.”

He had a point there.

We ducked into a bar full of happy people, all talking and catching up on the last Saturday of the Thanksgiving break. It was warm and collars became undone and scarves were loosened. It was a beautiful sight for a couple of Vampires.

After a moment in a dark corner in a dark corner with a sweet young man named Kyle I glanced up to see the Werewolves at the bar.

For the next half hour I’d be warm so I knew they might not suspect I was different from the rest of the bar patrons. I sat on the bar stool next to them. The large one glanced over at me.

“You were in the diner. You’re a Vampire.”

“Busted,” I said. “Hey, I don’t mean to be rude but while I was waiting for my friend I overheard you talking about your friend going to the North Pole.”

“Sure, no problem. Seriously I love the dude, we’ve been friends forever, but I’m worried he’ll end up being part of some sled team or eaten by bears on the way up.”

“Is there really a Santa Claus?”

He smiled. “We’re here aren’t we? I mean, it isn’t so much as him making toys and all. It is more of a fairy dust sort of thing if you know what I mean.”

I never thought I’d hear a Werewolf talking about fairy dust and Santa, but I’ve come not to be too surprised by anything. It was sort of nice.

A warm hand slid into mine. Steve was next to me, also warm for a short time. We spent the rest of the evening talking with the Werewolves about living like Santa Claus. You know, living in a world where everyone says they believe in you but you know they don’t.

As we went back out into the street I saw a couple walking a tan and white Corgi dog. I looked up into the sky and saw a shining star above the light of the city. Maybe Brad made it to the North Pole. You have to believe. After all, it is beginning to look like Christmas. You gotta believe.

~ End

~ Merry Christmas. Love, Juliette aka Vampire Maman

In Appreciation of Rex The Dog – A Halloween Tail

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Consider the dog…

Rex was a small dog of the largest order. He had the courage of a lion, the voice of an opera star and the heart of a lover.

Rex was a real son of a bitch too. He’d stare anyone down. Take on large dogs five times his size with gusto – always being the one to draw the most blood.

Rex’s owner took him everywhere. Rex went to business meetings, poker games, and all manner of business. Where his man went Rex followed tail in the air, head high, quick feet. Rex loved parties where ladies would come in big pretty skirts and scoop him up in their arms and hug him. They’d talk in high baby like voices to him that he liked a lot. It would get him all excited, so much in fact that he wanted to jump and bark. They’d throw him balls and kiss him when he returned.

Later they’d want to kiss his master as well, but it rarely went past a kiss. When it did Rex would stand guard at the door, just in case.

Rex watched for the watchers of the night. These were the people who smelled more like predators than most folks. They were always good to Rex – better than most, but Rex knew to watch. He’d watch them because according to the rules of the dog one has to watch one’s back for larger dogs. The predators weren’t larger but they were more dangerous. But like some of the big dogs, Rex loved them. He saw them protect his master from harm that his master couldn’t see. There were evil forces that only dogs and other predators can see. His master and most people were not predators.

“One can love without complete trust if one is being protected.” Or at least that is what Rex made himself believe.

Rex had been with his master since he was a teen. Now his master was 25. He was a successful man, about to be married, on the edge of greatness. But Rex knew it was time to go to where all good dogs go.

Nights grew colder and fall came. Rex had a hard time walking. He was 14 years old. Not a young dog anymore. Then one night he curled on the foot of his master’s bed and fell asleep forever.

The next night his master, still devastated by the loss of his small and noble companion heard a quiet knock on his door. It tapped out a rhythm not unlike a popular song at the time. He went to the door and there stood a beautiful girl. He knew her. He knew her father and well-respected family. She looked so lovely with her blonde bottle curls and paisley shawl around her milky white shoulders. She wore a ball gown of pink and cream. What was she doing there?

He told her she needed to leave, it wasn’t proper for a girl of her age, and standing,  to be out alone at a man’s house,  but she talked her way in. The man should have lived a long life and joined his faithful dog Rex in Heaven. Instead he discovered the girl, and the two friends who had come with her were predators – some of the very ones who had fed Rex treats and thrown him balls.

Rex’s Master, to this day says that night he went to Hell. Dragged down by rogue Vampires. Rex would have warned him, or at least he thought.

He has had many dogs since then, but he’ll always remember Rex, the dog with more charm and spunk than 100 dogs put together.

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That has been a favorite story for the Vampire kids for a long time. For Rex went away and the next day was Halloween night, the night his master unwillingly became a Vampire. 

My kids have often sadly commented that we can’t turn our dogs into vampires so that they can be with us longer.

Note: A dog turned into a vampire would not be a Werewolf Dog. We all know that. Werewolves and their dogs are an entirely different matter.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tiny Babes, Good Dogs, and Birthdays

Little Willie Sleeps

I believe this is the grave of little Willie Adams who died October 23, 1877, age 4 months, 22 days, in Sacramento, California. This little stone touched me so when we visited the cemetery in 2012 –  and I had no idea when I first saw the stone that the dear child died on this day (which is also my birthday).

It sends a shudder down my spine but at the same time fills my heart that this dear baby was so loved, and after 141 years not forgotten. He was just at that age when babies start to laugh and really see the world around them.

Sweet slumber little Willie. You were loved and I believe the love never dies.

October is an odd month with the Day of the Dead, Halloween, and so many birthdays.

I used to have a tank full of big beautiful fancy gold fish and on my birthday four years ago ALL of the fish died. I imagine they’ll be swimming around over my head on Halloween night.

That same October my Jasmine, the best dog ever crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I wrote a lot about her and posted a lot of photos of her here. She had my heart and soul. Yes, despite what you hear, which is not true, Vampires do have souls. We have one for our hearts and one for our shadow. Jasmine grabbed the one for my cold unbeating heart.

Jasmine

Jasmine – Best Dog Ever

By the way, today is also Weird Al’s birthday. He turns 59. Happy Birthday Al. The first time I heard him was I believe in 1978. I thought “This guy is nuts. I love it.” Little did I know.

My name is Juliette Kings. I’m married to Theodore Kings (Teddy.) I live near Sacramento. I was born on October 23, 1859. I am a Vampire, but most of all I’m a mom. And of course an artist, a writer, and I hope a good friend.

So I bid you all goodnight and good morning, depending on when you read this. Hugs. Kisses. Happy Birthdays. And remember to hug your dogs, hug your cats and give them lots of under chin rubs, and talk to your kids.

And in this month of October, do not forget those we have lost and loved. Love never dies, even if you’re a Vampire or a dog.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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I love you. Juliette drew this.