2019 Summer Reading: Old Bones and a Birthday

This past July 4th I was sitting on the side of a mountain overlooking Donner Lake and watching a spectacular fireworks show. As the fireworks went off we could see the train on the other side of Donner Lake moving along watching the show. Truckers and cars along the highway also stopped to view the fireworks.

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We were there for my daughter’s 20th birthday. The dogs are Brody and Alice. I had to show off this cake – made by my daughter’s boyfriend’s mom.

I’m from Sacramento, and I’ve spent a lot of time around Donner Lake. Needless to say everything the ghosts of the Gold Rush, and transcontinental railroad workers are still around, as well as the ghosts from the ill fated Donner Party.

Let’s go back to October of 1846. The Donners and the Reeds were two families who headed up a group of folks coming out to California to start a new life. From the get go it was a total shit storm of misdirections, grumbling among the travelers, and bad decisions.

When the “Donner Party” finally made it to what is now Donner Lake, they were only what is now a 90 minute drive from my house outside of Sacramento. Unfortunately there was no Interstate 80 to take them down the hill, no snowplows, no tow truck, no park rangers, no nothing. They were trapped by an unusually heavy snow fall and had to spend the winter in a high mountain wilderness. Many survived. Many did not. Of course, you all know, and I know you’ve been waiting for me to say this, many ate the bodies of their traveling companions (yes humans, they’d already eaten their horses, cattle, and dogs.)

The members of this unassuming and ill-fated group had no idea they’d be so famous. They also had no idea that the frozen lake they camped by would become a California State Park, and a favorite vacation spot. We go up for a day trip there all the time.

Descendants of the Donners, Reeds, and other members of the Donner Party are still living in the Sacramento area.

Which brings me back to 2019 SUMMER READING.

For years I’ve been reading ALL of the books by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I’ve listed many of them in my past reading lists on vampiremaman.com.

THANK YOU to the authors for so many hours of fun reading.

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Preston & Child

I love their books. Some of the stories are so far fetched and out there that you’d think a Vampire like me wouldn’t be reading them, but hey, I read for FUN. And you know, I’m sort of out there far fetched myself.

I am so excited because my copy of their newest book OLD BONES has finally arrived.

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This is the official description:

Nora Kelly, a young curator at the Santa Fe Institute of Archaeology, is approached by historian Clive Benton with a once-in-a-lifetime proposal: to lead a team in search of the so-called “Lost Camp” of the tragic Donner Party. This was a group of pioneers who earned a terrible place in American history when they became snow-bound in the California mountains in 1847, their fate unknown until the first skeletonized survivors stumbled out of the wilderness, raving about starvation, murder-and cannibalism.

Benton tells Kelly he has stumbled upon an amazing find: the long-sought diary of one of the victims, which has an enigmatic description of the Lost Camp. Nora agrees to lead an expedition to locate and excavate it-to reveal its long-buried secrets.

Once in the mountains, however, they learn that discovering the camp is only the first step in a mounting journey of fear. For as they uncover old bones, they expose the real truth of what happened, one that is far more shocking and bizarre than mere cannibalism. And when those ancient horrors lead to present-day violence on a grand scale, rookie FBI agent Corrie Swanson is assigned the case…only to find that her first investigation might very well be her last.

As soon as I finish the deliciously wonderful  book I’m reading now (Tight Rope by Amanda Quick) I will devour Old Bones.

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Donner Lake

 

Today’s post was brought to you by my coffee cup, which is now unfortunately empty, and my busy day. I’ll have more reading fun next Monday.

It will be 102F here today. I don’t know about where you are but I plan on staying cool, editing MY BOOK, and maybe getting in a little reading. Alice the dog also is getting her nails clipped but then again that is an entirely different blog post.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Burning Question #57: Bunches of Cats (and dogs)

 

Welcome to Vampire Maman’s BURNING QUESTION. This is YOUR opportunity to answer ALL of the Burning Question of the universe.

 

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Today’s question doesn’t need much of an introduction. Just ANSWER THE POLL. Then leave comments below. Discuss this question or anything else you want or NEED to talk about right now (or later.)

 

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Burning Question #57: If a bunch of cats jump on top of each other, is it still called a dog pile?

 

I forgot all about sea lions. Look they’re piling.

My real goal is to get my two cats to wear cute hats and ring bells for treats. I tried to do that a few times but they were afraid of the bell. I’ll keep trying.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Dog Park

Dog Park

“Come with me my love on an adventure that will surpass all adventures,” he said to her with his rich masculine voice, and his dreamy brown eyes.

This was not the adventure she had expected.

She looked at her dog, a five year old, ninety-six pound German Shepard named Joe. “I suppose you want me to take you to the dog park.”

“Yes, come with me my love and I will chase balls, sniff butts, and act a fool, and you my love, my only, my queen can take me there.”

“Because you can’t drive.”

“I am but a dog. You are a woman of great power and the keeper of transportation.”

She heard a noise and turned her head. Joe turned his head at the same time.

Her husband stood in the doorway to the kitchen where she and Joe were talking.

He gasped as he looked at his wife and dog. “Joe can talk?”

“Yeah, and he can hold three tennis balls in his mouth at the same time. He’s a smart dog. Put your shoes on if you want to go with us.”

~ End

Short Story Sunday: Shelter

Constantine never cared what anyone thought, until now. Now he wanted everyone to think good things. That was odd considering he was a Vampire.

Life was easy when in almost any setting one was always the best dressed, the best looking, the most charming, and the most knowledgable on almost any subject. It also didn’t hurt to be a four hundred year old Vampire, but that was besides the point. Constantine had always been the most at almost everything.

On Thursday night he’d walked home after having drinks with friends, and of course drinking from friends. A few blocks from his home he’d stopped. Normally he wouldn’t have but the burst of cold air, the flashing lights, and police tape made him curious. It was really the blast of cold air that had made him stop. Someone had died. A few ghosts from a hundred years back had stopped to look as well. They met Constantine’s gaze and just shook their heads.

He took a step towards the ghosts. “What happened?”

“Murder,” they whispered, then they vanished into the dark night. Then he heard a woman’s voice whisper, my babies, my babies.

The following day he found out that a woman was murdered by her boyfriend. Restraining orders obviously were of no use. She had no children, no family, and not many friends. She’d worked as a paralegal and walked to work. Everyone liked her. She was a always cheerful but was sort of a loner. Her name was Keera. She was thirty-six. The man who killed her had gone back to his own home and killed himself.

My babies, my babies.

Saturday afternoon brought hail. It also brought a flat tire. It was more than just a flat. The entire tire rod had busted.  Constantine stayed in his car (of course he was waring an expensive suit and forgot his umbrella) and waited for a tow truck. His friend Robert said he could be there in an ninety minutes. Then he looked up and saw he’d broken down right in front of the city animal shelter. He could wait there. After the car had been towed he ran to the the shelter entrance.

The last time he’d had a pet of his own was in the 19th century. Apollo was a white and brown speckled English Spaniel. He’d missed the dog, a goofy faithful friend. Sometimes even Vampires needed some one goofy in their life even if that friend was a dog. Since then he hadn’t had time for a dog. There was too much fur, too much time, too much everything with a dog.

As he waited for Robert, Constantine looked at all of the dogs, happy to see him, all saying take me home through their barks and yips.

At the back of one the enclosures curled up together in a dark ball of fur were two dogs. At first he’d thought there was only one massive brown and tan dog they were so close together. They didn’t jump up. They didn’t bark. The larger dog, a German Shepard lifted it’s dark head and looked at Constantine with dark almost human eyes. Next the other dog, a Black Lab, with a spot of white on it’s chest, looked up, then hid it’s head again in it’s companion’s fur.

My babies, my babies.

“These dogs came in a few days ago. Their owner died. No family. Nobody wanted them. We’re asking that they stay together but it’s hard to place two adult dogs together,” said a shelter volunteer, a small middle aged woman with a kind face. “The Shepard is six. Her name is Jewel. The Lab, Cole, is only two. They’re inseparable.”

“I’d like to meet them,” said Constantine. He noticed the woman eye his suit. “I’m not worried about the fur.”

As the volunteer opened the door of the cage the dogs stood. They both came up and wagged their tails. The German Shepard peed on his shoe, not as an aggression, but in joy and excitement. Cole the Lab rolled over so his belly could be rubbed.

He looked up and saw a ghost. A woman with brown hair, and large brown eyes set in a round face. “My babies,” she said as she faded out of his sight.

“They belonged to the murdered woman,” said Constantine.

“Yes. It was so tragic.”

“How long will they be here before, they’re… put down.”

“Two weeks.”

“I’ll take them.”

“Both of them?”

“Both of them.”

An hour later Robert was laughing and telling Constantine how crazy he was. “Two grown dogs. Whatever you do don’t give them human blood.”

“They’ll have dog food. Won’t you?” Constantine said looking into the back seat where the two dogs sat close together. Jewel turned her head from right to left as she listened.

Robert stopped at the large pet supply story where they picked up dog beds, leashes, toys, and lots of dog food.

Later, on Saturday night, Constantine sat on the couch and read. Jewel put her head on his feet. Cole jumped up on the couch and curled next to Constantine.

“Do you miss your mom? I promised her I’d take good care of you,” he said to the dogs.

Jewel looked up at him and turned her head, then she jumped up on the couch on the other side of Constantine and put her head in his lap. Cole wagged his tail and licked Constantine’s hand.

His friend would say he was crazy. The last thing he needed was two large grown dogs. But maybe that was exactly what he needed.

The wind blew outside and the rain pounded the windows.

Thank you.

The wind whispered to him. Thank you.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Cat-ur-day

Saturday is here which usually means a Burning Question Poll or a lousy drawing.

But TODAY it is Cat-ur-Day. Move over Saturn, the cats are here.

Last night while I was folding laundry (yes, Vampires have laundry) my cat Oscar was curled up next to his buddy Stan-Lee. Stan is an old Steiff tiger of the most pleasant disposition. Oscar loves his Stan.

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Oscar is my baby boy, even though he turns eight this summer.

Gloria is almost fourteen. We got her at the pound (Sacramento Animal Control and Rescue) on my daughter’s 6th birthday. She was a teeny tiny little thing. Gloria is still pretty small but fierce. She is the hunter, and I will say no more. Birds, bugs, lizards, and all small rodents – you have been warned.

But wait… for all of you who need your poochie dogo fix I also took a picture of Alice, my cuddle bug hellhound (aka GSD aka German Shepard Dog.) Alice is three years old. Her birthday is December 25th. Alice weights 86 pounds, loves the cats to no end, listens to the “mom voice”, and steals the cat food as often as she can.

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For those who came here looking for a Burning Question or a drawing I aim to please.

Here is a doodle I did a while back of a vampire child and her cat. Just a doodle.

Vampire Maman

The Tiger and Vampire Maman

And something else a little more detailed.

This one was done under another name (aka Marla Todd) but I drew it. This was a while back. I have a stash of works I’ve never shown anyone, and a lot of work I’ve sold or given away. Hell yeah I’ve been paid for my artwork and illustrations.

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Finally…

Drum roll please…

The BURNING QUESTION for today is: How does society influence art?

If you don’t like that one talk about your cats, dogs, art, or spring garden in the comment section below. Yes, that is what the comment section is for. Start the discussions NOW.

Happy Cat-ur-Day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Friday Political Thought

On my alter ego Facebook page I have a feature called “Friday Political Thought.” I started it during the first Obama election cycle. People were getting nasty and ugly so I vowed to post kittens and things that would make everyone feel good, since political thoughts are rarely good. In fact most political thoughts are vile and ugly. I find that sad since politicians and politics should “serve us” not “Serve us up to the alligators” or “Serve us and make us sick to our stomachs.” These days politics are so vile and disgusting that I have no words, but I do have silly memes. I always have silly memes.

Anyway, here we go. Friday Political Thought for April 5, 2019:

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And here is your kitten:

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Juliette aka Vampire Maman