Heat, Religion, Frogs, and Old People

Summer is Here! Bake it baby (or if you’re smart you’ll stay someplace cool)

 

I could wax poetically about temperature but it is in the triple digits farenehight outside. Any wax is going to melt and I’m not feeling too poetic.

Yesterday afternoon, a man came to my church asking about my religious beliefs. I ended up with a brochure about “original sin,” something which I do not believe in. Sure some people are born evil. Some are born without souls, and I’ll freely admit that. I’ve met them. But the average little baby isn’t chock full of sin, like a dead deer full of maggots on a hot summer day, so don’t even make that comparison or even suggest to me EVER that babies are full of sin. Sheesh.

I should have given the poor man a glass of water but he was so crisp and unflappable looking that I assumed he had a cooler in his car (which could have been full of beer and Jello shots as far as I know.)

At the time I was holding a large German Shepard by her collar with the door cracked open. I should have never answered but it is usually a friend or a neighbor when someone comes a calling, especially when it is so stupidly hot outside.

I believe I’ve used the frog story before, but I shall tell it again.

Put a cold cast iron skillet on a cold burner on your stove. Gas works best. Place a large, live, cold blooded frog in the center of the skillet. Use a good sized one – 10-12 inches. Turn on the heat ever so low, then gradually turn it up. The frog will sit until it gets blazing hot and it’s feet and belly stick to the cast iron and it is cooked.

This is what happens to people in this heat (we’re expecting over 100 all week and over 110 F on some days). Elderly people and others who are not always aware will sit in the heat like the frog until they cook. They’ll forget to jump out of the pan, or in the case of some folks, forget to turn on the air conditioning or fan. Or they’ll forget to call for help because they won’t realize they need help.

My neighbor and dear friend Kelly came over tonight with a couple of cold drinks (bless her). She isn’t a Vampire like we are. She suspects we’re different but can’t quite put a finger on it. She also has a ghost in her house (yes, that ghost.)

We sat for a while as she told me of her elderly mother and the heat. Her mother forgets to turn on the air conditioner. Her mother obsesses about bad neighbors but will not let her children or helpers put anything over the fence so to keep out the eyes of those bad neighbors. She asked Kelly to come over (it was 110 outside) to cut down a tree. Kelly said no. Her mother doesn’t know what yard the tree is growing in. Kelly tells her not to go outside and check because it is too hot and because she’ll fall and end up in the hospital – again. The same conversation has happened over and over – with a different plant, a hose, a stray cat, an unfamiliar car parked on the street, or something else that Kelly will either have to deal with or talk her way out of.

She wishes her mother would move to a house where she won’t worry about bad trees and bad neighbors and expensive up keep. Kelly has suggested a smaller home near Kelly and the grand kids. It would be nice with all sorts of beautiful features and a lovely garden within walking distance of Kelly’s home. The kids could visit anytime. Her mother refuses. So Kelly must hear about trees and drive to her mom’s to get the mail, and give up her Saturday fun time. Saturday fun time is important for working moms and all moms and busy women who work, and well, it is important for everyone.

She wishes she could travel and do fun things with her mother. She wishes they could talk more of things that are positive and fun – things that are not bodily functions or other unpleasant things that only bring Kelly stress.

Sometimes the heat can suck the fun out of everything. The heat of being a caretaker can do the same. It is exhausting. Especially if the caretaker has children of her own. Kelly told her kids to put her on an ice flow if she ever got to the point where she couldn’t take care of herself. She asked them to shoot her if she ever lost her sense of humor. I gave her a hug. We talked for another house about books we’ve read this summer. We agree that everyone MUST read “Beautiful Ruins.” Then she went home to spend time with her own teenage children (good friends with my kids.)

After slipping on the kitchen floor today on an unknown object and landing on my back, I lay there thinking that I’d better call The Elders. They’re ancient and sometimes don’t use the best judgement.

Eleorna and Tellias, frail and gentle, were fine. Their neighbor had brought over shaved ice flavored with basil and rosemary. God bless him. They remembered to bring their old dog in and give him plenty of water. They didn’t drive today because sometimes they forgot how to turn on the air conditioner and the sun was too bright and they had lost the keys again, so they stayed home. And they turned on the air conditioner in their beautiful 143 year old house and slept in each other’s arms like young lovers.

I’m always afraid that I’ll drop by their house and find nothing but their ashes. I’m afraid someone will take advantage of them. I’m afraid that one day they might be gone and I will have a broken heart that will never go away.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Keeping the Fires Alive in Our Cold Vampire Hearts

Keeping the Fires Alive in Our Cold Vampire Hearts

First posted in June 2014
I walked into her bedroom. I’d never met the woman. I’d heard of her, but the details are always the same. She is pretty and smart and fun thirty something woman and not interested in a serious relationship. Perfect for my brother. By the way, my brother is a Vampire. So am I. But you already knew that.

They were on the bed but nothing had happened yet. Her shirt was off. So was his, along with his belt and the top button of his jeans was undone. His mouth was on her neck.

“Val. Valentine you need to come with me.” I almost growled it out. The woman screamed. I thought her name is Courtney but I could have been wrong. It didn’t matter. She screamed again. Val’s eyes glowed red at me.

“Stop with the eye glow. We have to go. Family emergency. Now.”

“Courtney, darling, I’m so sorry. I have to go with my sister,” he said, giving his lady friend a kiss and grabbing his shirt and belt. She covered her chest and stared at me, then looked at Val, then looked back at me. You can tell we’re related. There is a very strong family resemblance. I could see the bite marks on her neck. He’d be back. Val almost always goes back, especially to one this lovely. Plus he owed her some future sweet dreams for my barging into her bedroom. On the good side, in the morning she’ll forget any of this happened. That is one advantage of being a Vampire – we can make them forget.

An hour earlier I’d received a call. “Come now, come now.” The quiet voice almost hissed in my ear. Dealing with the elderly can be both rewarding and heart breaking and sometimes it just pisses me off because I’m the one… I love them, but sometimes it would be nice if I had some help.

“I thought you were staying with them,” I snapped at my brother.

“I can’t be there 24/7. I needed a break. I need my own space sometimes.”

“We saw Wicked tonight. A nice family outing. Why is it that every time I go to the theater or on vacation or have something nice planned someone calls me with an emergency. It could be our parents or Andy or the Elders or… all I ask for is one night. Just one.”

Val mumbled something but I just cranked up the radio.

Old Tellias met us at the door of the Queen Anne style farm-house. His pale hair was around his shoulders making him looking more like a Victorian Angel rather than a Vampire. He wore an open tuxedo shirt and jeans like some college student trying to make a fashion statement. It was just the way he dressed, like he had his eyes closed.

“She isn’t well. She isn’t well at all,” he said in a paper thin whisper.

Eleora was not well. They’d been together for 2,000 years and even now as they slowed down their love stayed strong. Anyone that old is bound to be fragile and that is exactly what these two are.

Eleora was on the fainting couch wearing a flowered sundress and an old stretched out sweater. Her long dark curls were dull and hanging limp in the heat about her shoulders.

To anyone else she’d be a young woman of maybe 19 or 20. My head spun. Eleora was at least 2,500 years old if not more. We knew Tellias was born before the birth of Christ, but not too long before.

It didn’t matter. She lay still as death wrapped in an old sweater and covered in a quilt, not breathing, or making her heart pump. She wasn’t dead but she wasn’t alive. She just was.

“When was the last time she ate anything?”

Tellias gave me a guilty look. “Maybe last week.”

“Why didn’t you call me or at least called John next door. We could have brought you something. Have you been out of the house at all?”

He shook his head. “We lost the car keys.” Again. They were always misplacing their car keys. Any spares were long gone. “I didn’t want to bother anyone.” he added. “You’re all so busy.”

It is frustrating to see that pretty face of his and know that the brain behind it isn’t working at full capacity. Maybe it isn’t his brain. Maybe his spirit is just tired.

I reached up to the top of a bookshelf where he kept spare keys in a box. I dragged my brother out to the barn. The old 1955 Ford truck was still out there. After charging the battery (thank goodness for jumper cables) I got it started.

Tellias stood in the barn doorway not saying a word. This Vampire who once took charge of every situation was now so helpless and confused. I still admired him. Unfortunately it wasn’t a night to express those thoughts.

When I returned to the house Eleora was sitting up. I sat next to her and took her cold hand. She curled her fingers around mine.

“Nobody needs us anymore. Most of our close friends are gone.”

It broke my heart to hear her say that. “Oh Eleora, dear Eleora, don’t talk like that.”

“Ginger died.”

I didn’t expect that. Ginger was their old dog, a large yellow lab mix who’d shown up about 10 years ago. Everyone loved Ginger, but nobody more than Eleora and Tellias.

“When? Why didn’t you call me?” I asked still in shock.

“She wouldn’t get up.” said Tellias. “Her legs wouldn’t move.”

“We sat with her all night,” said Eleora.

“All night, until she stopped wagging her tail,” said Tellias.

“Until her heart stopped,” said Eleora.

“Then she was gone,” said Tellias.

“She died.” said Eleora.

“Ginger went to where all good dogs go,” said Tellias.

“Ginger was a good dog,” said Eleora. “A good good dog.”

The old dog seemed fine last time I was over, but that was two weeks ago. Tellias buried her in the orchard under the walnut trees.

That is why Eleora was so sad and out of sorts. Her dear dog friend was gone. It always amazes me how much love dogs and cats have and how their loss is so heavy on our hearts.

Eleora squeezed my hand. “Tellias shouldn’t be so worried about me. He worries too much. He worries all the time. He worries. It is what he does. I’m glad you’re here. I loved that dog.”

“So did I,” I said trying to blink away the tears. Even Vampires have tears for dogs they love.

Eleora put her hands on my face and kissed me on the forehead and wiped my eyes. “You’ll be fine dear Juliette. I am glad you’re here. I miss Valentine being around. He had to go to the city he said. Not where you live. He went to the big city. But he said he’d be back all summer. All summer long.”

Val had vanished. I eventually found him in the upstairs bathroom throwing up blood (not his own of course.) His skin had taken on sort of a greenish tint, which brought me back to Wicked. Anyway, he wasn’t well.

“I don’t know what is wrong with me,” he said, looking as dead as a Vampire can look.

As soon as I entered the room I could tell by the smell what was going on. “Courtney is pregnant.”

Yes, one thing that makes a Vampire male sicker than a dog is blood from a pregnant woman. A look of surprise came over his face. No of course he isn’t the father. He couldn’t be. It turned out she had an on again off again boyfriend of three years. So much for that. I’ll make sure Val gets her a nice gift for the baby – a crib or a rocking chair or a nice fat savings bond.

Val gave me one of his looks. It is kind of a scowl with a bit of fang. “What are we doing? I mean what are we really doing Juliette? We used to travel the world and have grand wild adventures. We were the Vampires of lore. We ruled our world.”

“We were out of control idiots. Remember?”

“But what about now?”

“We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re taking care of each other. You never asked me how Wicked was?”

Val put his arm around my shoulder. “How was Wicked dear sister?”

“Amazing! It was so much fun.”

We talked for a bit more until Tellias came up to see what we were up to. I called Pete at the Bottle & Blood store and ordered a delivery of a couple of cases of mixed blood to be delivered to the farm that night.

So where are we?

I guess we’re here we’re supposed to be. We’re where we are right now. We’re keeping the fires alive in our cold Vampire hearts and souls. I guess we can’t ask for anymore than that.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Silver Webs and Silken Bats

Oh right, I do have a husband. I write about kids, my brothers, other Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts, cats, short stories and all sorts of things. I don’t say much about my husband or marriage.

Today he is helping the Elders decorate for Christmas.

He found old netting of silver spider webs and long strings of red glass beads to add to the old fragile ornaments they put up every year.

Over the past few years they stopped decorating but Teddy (my husband) decided they needed a tree.

In the attic he found boxes of hand blown glass owls, small wooden elves from Germany, tiny little bats made of beaded black silk and a large hat box full of shining stars and crescent moons with smiling faces.

Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you need to stop celebrating.

“But who will see the tree?” The ancient Vampires looked confused.

“You will see it,” said Teddy. “I will see it. Your friends will stop by and see it. You need to pick up the phone and call your friends, both Vampires and humans. Call your old Werewolf friends too, I don’t care who you like. If they’re old let me know and I’ll give them a ride here and I’ll give them a ride home. I’ll make them egg nog. I’ll help you make it happen for everyone.”

Tellias and Eleora look young but they’re ancient. They’re older than Christmas, so sometimes they get confused or feel isolated. Sometimes they forget everything outside of their own house.

Teddy always hounds me to call my friends and people I know who might need a friend. We all know what it is like to spend a holiday alone or without cheer of others. Even a little tree or a wreath or a shining star on a string can make a difference. More than that a hug or a call.

Christmas time is about the promise of peace and hope and love. After 2017 years the human race still hasn’t gotten it right, but maybe one day. The smallest acts of kindness can move us closer in that direction.

Wishing you all a season of peace and fellowship.

And about that husband of mine…I’m glad I married him. I always will be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

time for christmas

Vintage Halloween (With Wolfhounds and Ancient Vampires)

A large wreath on the front door was made of faded and cracked plastic flowers. You know, those plastic flowers that were sold in the Five and Dime stores in the 1960’s. Faded ribbons and bows hung in odd gray pastel tones.

Without even asking I knew Eleora had taken the flowers off of graves that nobody had visited for years. Long forgotten wives and mothers with abandoned graves under a rainy October sky. I knew Eleora had replaced the faded flowers with real ones and taken time to sit and chat with the departed and sing them songs from their times.

Eleora opened the front door and greeted us wearing a bright yellow skirt with a well worn orange sweater with black cat head shaped buttons. Her feet were bare and her toenails painted a glossy red on one foot and black on the other.

“Do you like my Halloween wreath? I made it yesterday.” She took my hand and led me inside.

“Shabby chic.” I said. “Very nice.”

She gave me a hug and kissed my face all over then took the hands of my children and danced them into the house.

The old lab mix slid around the corner barking, followed by two HUGE wolfhounds.  I was surrounded by a sea of happy wiggling dogs. The sharp spikes in my leg was a tiny black kitten who had enthusiastically crawled up my jeans.

“Who are you?” I asked picking up the tiny purring monster. “Oh my goodness you’re cute.” It mewed back in one of those precious tiny kitten voices.

My brother Max had been there, because the wolfhounds were his. My daughter took the kitten who was named Jinx. A fitting name for a black kitten.

Eleora and Tellias are ancient Vampires. They’re seniors, despite the fact that they look like they are in their late teens or early twenties.  This dear old couple has been together for over 2,000 years – a long time for any romance.

Eleora had decorated the walls and windows with old paper Halloween cut-outs. Mostly cats with a few pumpkins and other creatures of the night. She’d also included decorations made by generations of both Vampire and Regular Human children who’d come in and out of her life over the past century.

Tellias came down the stairs, his white blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail and wearing old farmer overalls without a shirt. He had a Mr. Rodgers cardigan on over it.

He gave us all hugs and kisses, a smile on his lovely face. Ancient yet forever young.

“Let’s celebrate Halloween early. Max dropped off two cases of Poet’s Blood!” He led the procession of dogs and family to the formal dining room and took crystal goblets from a large ornate hutch.

I heard a car door close and knew my brother Max had arrived. He came in looking handsome as usual obviously straight from work all in black leather.  I noticed he still had a weapon on his belt. The dogs went crazy dancing and barking.

Halloween is a time to celebrate. More than that, it is an excuse to celebrate and have fun. But we need to celebrate good times and those we love more often without an excuse of a holiday or other special event. It is always time to love and share, especially if you have elders or anyone who is alone or needs a little extra help or company.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone,

xoxoxo,

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

halloween cats

An alternate universe of memories

Even Vampires have members of “the sandwich generation.” We are those who take care of both our young and the ancient members of our families.

We go between cultures and centuries, trying to keep up with the needs of all. It can be both exhausting and rewarding. The biggest reward is watching the very young and very old together. They seem to have a connection that is unencumbered by the world around us.

This weekend Eleora is with us. Tellias has gone with my brother Val to visit old friends. She can’t stay alone anymore or she’ll wander off, or call 911 just to get good looking young men in uniforms out to her farm, or sit alone without motion for the entire weekend.

Nobody knows how old Eleora is. She looks like a twenty year old, but she is ancient, born before the Roman Empire came to Britain. She is older than any languages we speak today. She is older than dirt (I just said that to be funny.)

We sit over goblets of wine and blood talking about funny things we did on road trips over the years.

Memories are different for Eleora, as if the pages of a book have been torn out then put back in random order. Places, people, and dates are mixed up, making for an alternate universe of memories.

I hold my hand up to my husband Teddy to let him know not to correct Eleora. Just let her talk. We remember all three of the stories, but now they are one story. That’s ok.

Last weekend seventeen year old Clara and I took Eleora to a flower show. I wondered around by myself looking at plants, while the teen and the elder took their time, discussing each plant, and what plants they have at home (African Violets.) They looked at the plants, heads close together, with Clara holding Eleora’s hand and making sure she saw everything.

I over heard someone smile and say the words “special needs.” No, she is just old. But they wouldn’t know that seeing what looked like two lovely young women, perhaps sisters, with the younger helping the slightly slow older girl.

Sometimes when I’m with Eleora I don’t know if I’m in a Harold Pinter play, or just skipping through Oz.

No matter where we are, I’m going to take a deep breath, put away my horrible impatience, and enjoy the unique point of view. And no matter what I think at first, I can still learn from that point of view.

Don’t forget the elders in your life, those who are different, and those who need extra help. We can learn from them, and together our lives will be richer, with far far more interesting memories.

Have a good weekend everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/together/

Short Story Sunday: When You Grow Old

This has been a busy week. I’m on a road trip across country, or at least half way across. This morning I’m in Denver, CO. Tonight I’ll be in Lincoln, NE.  So, I’m sharing one of my favorites again with you. Enjoy and have fun.

 

When You Grow Old

“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked my brother’s caretaker Josh.

My brother Bob is 90 years old. A former screenwriter and movie producer, he lives in a modern glass and polished wood mansion on the Central Coast of California.

I’d been at Bob’s for six months.

“Your grandmother would have been 101 this year,” Bob told me. I was going to turn 101 this year, at the end of October. What Bob doesn’t know is that I am his sister Valentina. He doesn’t know I’m a vampire either. He thinks I’m a great niece who is the spitting image of his older sister who passed away in 1935.

I walked the beach in the evenings with Bob. He leaned my arm and told me about the cycles of the tide and the migration of the whales.

Arriving home we found that my brother’s caretaker Josh had fixed dinner. A beautiful salad and fresh rockfish. Josh, a tall skinny but muscular blonde in his 30’s had been with Bob for about three years. He divided his time between helping Bob and two other elderly folks near by, and when he wasn’t with his old folks he was surfing.

I asked Josh why he worked with old people. “They’re exceptional creatures,” he told me, “with the knowledge of lost times. They have wisdom and humor that needs to be honored. You can’t always get that out of old people, but if you work them just so and LISTEN they’ll give you the secrets of the universe. And the weird thing is, no not weird, I the magic of it, is that they don’t even know they have that knowledge.”

The next morning we had a visitor. It was Stephen, one of my brother’s neighbors. “You’ve been good to your brother,” he whispered in my ear. He was also a Vampire, something I’d known for a while, but never talked to him about. Our paths crossed but this was the first time we had made a social call since I’d been there.

It seems Stephen and Bob have been friends for the past 10 years, since Stephen purchased the run down house next door and restored it to the former glory of its past. Until today, he only visited Bob when I was out. They spend the evenings talking, watching movies and playing cards with Josh. There was a bond of friendship that was so real and close, the kind that never ends, even with age and differences of opinion.

A few night later Stephen and I walked the beach.

“How long have you been a Vampire?” I asked him. It was a common question Vampires ask each other.

“Since the summer of 1802. Funny it seems like yesterday.”

“So hows it working out for you? I mean, the Vampire thing and all?” I had to ask.

“Good. It’s all good. You know it isn’t for everyone.”

“I wonder about Bob.” I had wondered about my brother and if I made him into a Vampire if I’d restore his youth and keep him in my life.

“Bob is happy where he is.”

“I think you’re right.”

We walked more and listened to the waves. Then he kissed me under that stars. That was a surprise. A nice surprise.

The next morning after Josh had helped Bob with his shower and getting dressed I visited with him over coffee. Josh was such a caring free spirit, loving his work with the elderly and his relationship with the waves.

“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked Josh.

He smiled. “I’ll ride out on the surf and become one with the sea.”

“Who will listen to your words of wisdom?”

“You and Stephen can pass it on. You’ll still be here. You’ll always be here. So will Bob, not in body but his spirit is strong. He’ll be around as long as the stars over the surf.” Then he winked at me. “Valentina, I know all about you. Your kind is all over the coast down here. I grew up with Vampires. It’s cool.”

And so it was.

~ end

 

Pacific Ocean

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman