Musings on Pets, Art, Vampires, and Trying to Make Sense of Anything At All.

It started out as one of those days where the dog ate all of the cat food, the squirrels at all of the bird food, the cat tried to eat a bird that flew into my house, I’m trying to take photographs and the fall lighting is all off, then the cat barfed on the carpet. The other cat is asleep out on the deck. He never causes me problems aside from his yearly “I am an idiot and got myself gravely injured again,” vet visit. Today, I am also feeling a great sense of loss that has come over me in a wave.

A sense of loss and melancholy isn’t uncommon for Vampires. I just had to throw that out there.

I put on some sunscreen and decent clothes and went out in search of art supplies. I didn’t need any. I thought it might inspire me to try to put pen or pastel to paper. That is to put it to paper without fear of disappointing myself.

At the downtown art supply shop, the one that had been there for decades, I wandered the isles looking at brushes, textures, tools, and colors. I was drawn to all of the shades of gray, then got sort of perturbed that some asshole decided to write a bad porn book of that name that became oh so popular with bored middle aged women who didn’t date enough when they were single. Still I looked and imagined what I might create.

I felt a cold hand upon my arm, then looked to my left. “Connie,” I said upon seeing my old friend. Constantine Jones, the very one I wrote the story Night Dogs about. He’d told me about that night a few years back. I valued his friendship because he matched my love of art, both in creating it, and in studying it.

“Juliette. Pastels today?”

“Maybe,” I said.

We talked of art and our lives. He asked about my children. I asked him what he was up to. I purchased pastels and paper. He picked up a few brushes and oil paint. Then we walked down the tree lined street to a small independent coffee shop.

As we sat in the shade sipping our coffee nobody would have suspected that we were Vampires who’d know each other for over a century.

No, dear reader, this isn’t a story of fangs, dripping blood, or darkness. All creatures, even the most ardent predators, the lions, the hyenas, the wolves, and the wolverines, still need their times of peace. We are always aware, but sometimes we just need to take a break from what keeps our bodies alive and think about what keeps our passions alive.

Even more so it is the small things that matter. It is things we do for tangible reason like having coffee with an old friend. We talked about art, as kindred spirits do.

Connie touched took my hand in his. It was warm from holding the coffee. I thought how odd that was to have a warm touch from another Vampire.

“Your heart is heavy,” he said to me.

“I don’t know what it is right now,” I told him. “I’m fine.”

“You’re not.”

“It shall pass. I just have too much BS that I have to deal with.” That is true, but isn’t that the case for a lot of us.

Standing across the street I saw a lone figure with dark hair and a black suit with the tie loosened. Connie looked as well.

“A ghost,” he whispered. “Why is he looking over here?”

“I know him. He lives at my house most of the time, but he’s buried near here.” I motioned for my ghost, Nigel, who was an artist in life, to come join us.

I pulled up a chair for a friend that nobody but Constantine Jones and I could see. I ordered coffee for Nigel. He sat in the chair holding the cup and letting the aroma pass through him. He can’t drink it but he can smell it, which is a small comfort for a ghost.

We talked more of art, and the weather, and small things that friends talk about.

After two hours Connie went his own way and Nigel came home with me. As we drove down the freeway Nigel changed the radio station about thirty times. I finally yelled at him to stop it.

And now I’m home. I don’t know where Nigel got off to.

From my window I cans humming birds in the lemon and orange trees. The calico cat sits snoring in a chair. I can hear the other cat scratching a piece of wood outside.

I feel better. Sometimes we just need to get away from ourselves for a while, or at least get into a different place where we can be the selves we need to be, and deserve to be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Halloween is Almost Here (more musings and random thoughts)

Halloween is Almost Here (more musings and random thoughts)

Halloween is almost here

Ghosts and Goblins yell and cheer,

Witches drink their Bat Eye Beer

Halloween is almost here.

 

halloween kittie

 

At the crack of dawn this morning, actually about an hour before, I looked out on my deck to find two ghosts holding coffee mugs and savoring the first stirrings of the woodland creatures who live in my yard and behind my house (along with the sounds of fire truck sirens, trucks and a random dog bark or two.) I watched my translucent friends put their heads together in close conversation, occasionally laughing or using hand gestures.

These ghosts have discarded any old ideas of white sheets and hollow eyed wails. They leave that for others. Sure they can haunt the crap out of anyone and show their form in death (a rather violent image, especially for the one called Mary) but they usually choose not to.

He has pale skin and dark, almost black glossy hair that layers around his face. She has long reddish brown hair that she lets blow in the ghostly winds that most of us can’t feel.

If it was any other pair of ghosts I would have chased them off, but these two are mine. At least mine because they live in my space. I usually don’t like ghosts or anything without a body, but there are always exceptions.

I didn’t interfere with their reveries. I’d pick up the cups later. That is the empty cups they fill with their phantom coffee. I had other things on my mind.

Earlier my husband Teddy had come home with a scratch across his handsome face. Three scratches from fingernails to be exact and bites in various places.

He’d been called to see about a rare pocket watch a client of his was looking for. When he arrived at the old Victorian he discovered that the apartment was below street level (the original street level.)

The door was answered by a woman of shocking appearance. She was bloated like a dead thing that had been out in the sun. Her eyes were sunken and rimmed with pale pinkish red. Despite her bony frame the fashionable black dress she wore strained at the seams. White blonde hair tangled around her face. Blood caked around the corners of her mouth and on the cuticles of her fingernails.

He recognized her, barely. In 1934 he’d spent two weeks with her on Catalina Island. People thought she was a film star with her Jean Harlow looks and beautiful clothes. So much for happy memories.

She told him that now she fed on transients and outcasts who wouldn’t be missed. Rather than taking a pint or a quart here and there she sucked them dry. Nobody would miss them or care. It always looked like natural causes anyway. Then she’d sleep it off for a week or two and start again.

Teddy, being the man he is and a Vampire with a social conscience tried to tell her that what she was doing was not acceptable. Bad move Teddy. She attacked him, screeching that she never asked to be a Vampire. She didn’t choose that life. She had become isolated as those she preyed upon.

As she fled into the night  The young man who made the nicely decorated basement apartment at home was in a deep sleep. He wasn’t someone off the grid but someone who’d left his bedroom window open and a Vampire climbed in. Teddy had the decency to erase any bad memories the young man might have had. Then Teddy called a Vampire Hunter to take care of his old friend. Teddy didn’t have the stomach to do it himself.

We talked about it for a while and like so many things it just seemed sad. Too many things seem sad.

Halloween is almost here but we’re already up to our eyeballs in scary shit, including just about everything in the news and other stupid stuff.

But then again like all families we’re busy to the point where we can’t stop and even think about anything much. It is like this all the time. Halloween brings a flood of activity. The kids will be in town for my mother’s birthday. Friends, activities, and the usual Vampire stuff.

But I’ll make it a point to stop and sip my coffee and watch the sunrise.  And tomorrow we’ll set pumpkins on the front porch and plant fall bulbs.

 

Halloween is almost here

Werewolves howling is so near,

Zombie looking for his ear,

Halloween is almost here.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Fall

Dear Diary,

Autumn is attempting to come to this hot dry place in which I live. A few trees have started to show off their golden and red leaves. The other leaves just fall because they are dead. Now I must rake them into a pile and put them in what is called a green waste can even if they are brown. My neighbors use machines called leaf blowers. I have one of those as well. I turn mine on when I leave home and put it on my back deck so that I will not have intruders.

As a Vampire I should not be concerned with the colors of the day but one can not live only in the dark. One must be on watch all hours of the day. No Vampire who lives more than the natural life span of a man sleeps soundly or deeply.

Even in the colder of weather, even if it rained, even if a glacier rumbled slowly down the street which I live on, men here would wear short pants and show off their hairy legs.

I have asked women if they find these shorts appealing. I am answered with odd stares and rolled eyes. I will assume that they are saying no. Still I do not understand. Why would a man wear a shirt, a sweatshirt, a jacket, a hat, wool socks, hiking boots, and short pants? Are red hairy knees thought to be attractive? I think not. Even though my legs are perfect I will not wear short pants when the weather turns cold.

I asked my Vampire lover Gillian about this. She told me that not everything is tied to one’s vanity. I have no idea what she meant by that. I have learned that it is better not to ask.

That is the world in which I, once the King of Vampires, exists.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Gillian said I should stop talking about shorts.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

After being locked in a crypt for three hundred years I find myself behind on cultural traditions of the Twenty First Century.

Today if the first day of the harvest season.

When I was King of the Vampires, and lived in a great castle on a hill surrounded by forest and farmland, there were great celebrations on this first day of the season.

As King of Vampires it was my job to make sure that all, not just Vampires were happy. After all I was proud that my kingdom was the Farm-to-Fang Capitol of the world.

Mind you, some Vampire Lords would exploit their populations with displays of spewing blood and tearing of flesh. I found that distasteful. Rather I found if my population was happy then I would be well fed and happy. It is common sense. Unfortunately, as it is also today, many leaders do not have common sense.

Each year a grand harvest festival would take place. During the day parades with men made of straw, wagons full of grain and root crops, and children dressed up with tall pointed hats the color of the gold and amber leaves. Even the Witches would come out to bless the harvest and keep the evil spirits away. Being the benevolent King that I was, I would allow all, including Witches and even Werewolves to show themselves at this time. Every door would have a wreath made of ribbons and wheat. Red ribbons meant that Vampires were welcome to come and partake of blood.

Warm blooded would curl their beards in wild patterns and attempt to outdo each other. Most Vampires had no beards, so they would curl their hair. I did not curl my golden locks, rather I would remain as I always was, a stunning example of male beauty and power.

The parties and feasts would last for days. At my castle we would have fresh blood, and watch as the men of straw were burned in great bonfires. There would be no executions at this time, only the burning of straw and wood.

Today I made a wreath out of wheat and ribbons. Since I no longer am king, and I no longer have farmland, I had to obtain my wreath materials from a craft store.

I discovered that a craft store is the domain of females. The other shoppers and store clerks watched in as I looked for supplies. I could hear them whispering and skittling around the isles of the store to get a look at me.

“He is so cute,” I’d hear them say, thinking I could not hear. I am a Vampire so I hear nearly everything. I do not know what they mean by cute. Kittens and puppies are cute. Hamsters are cute. I do not look like a hamster. Some they thought I was hot. I wondered if I looked as if I was ill. I had no fever.

I left with a glue gun, 100 sticks of glue, five wreath forms, wheat stalks, ribbon in black, orange, yellow, gold, red, and green. I also had an unpainted nutcracker, fabric for a scare crow face, a straw hat, buttons, 30 colors of acrylic paint, paint brushes, fabric paint, glitter, a book on how to knit, knitting needles, black wool yarn, fuzzy red yarn, a sketch pad, twenty quills and ink, a measuring tape, a pack of needles, five colors of thread, a bag of plastic dinosaurs, a bag of sea shells, calligraphy pens, and a six foot tall plastic skeleton. I will go back before Halloween for more items.

At home I made a grand wreath of ribbons and wheat. I hung it on my front door. Then I made a man of straw and put him in my yard underneath an oak tree.

Two of my female neighbors walked by. They said the man of straw was cute. Then they said I was cute for making the man of straw. I do not understand. How can the man of straw be cute when I am cute. I do not understand this word cute.

I was not wearing short pants, but jeans. I was wearing what is commonly called a tee shirt. It was black and stretched over my body like a second skin.

As the women walked on one mentioned my six pack. I do not recall having beer in my front yard for them to see. Another said I must work out a lot. Sometimes I do work outside but not often because I am a Vampire and I do not like the bright sun.

My two cats rolled in the morning sun making meowing noises for me to rub their bellies. I rubbed their bellies. I like the cats. They understand me for they are also hunters. I sometimes understand cats, in a world in which I seem to understand so little.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

My love Vampire love Gillian said to me, “Do people who sell their souls become demons who come back centuries later and become politicians? Asking for a friend.”

“Who is this friend?” I asked.

She rolled her eyes as she often does.

“Tell your friend that I believe the answer is yes,” I told her.

Then she kissed me and started to unbutton my shirt. “I’m going to enjoy that six pack you told me about yesterday.”

“I did not know you like beer,” I said.

Then she laughed. I was confused. Then she kissed me again. That is something I always understand.

~ Vlad

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

 

 

 

This has been the 52nd installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. To read from the beginning CLICK HERE.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words: Fair Oaks

 

Curing olives with my dad

The glug of the garden hose

In the tub of green fruit

Golden fall leaves surround us

And the smell of

New roses and

Fresh mowed grass

We’ll crank the ice cream

Then take one

Last swim

Before the time fades

Away with nothing

Left but love.

 

~ Marla Todd

 

Drinking Games and Raking Fall Leaves

Against my better judgement I had the radio on all day today. I learned that most of the old fart senators in Washington don’t know, or pretend not to know about drinking games, that teenage boys think farts or funny, or anything about beer. All of these “Good Christian Men” forget about their college years when they were sleeping with everything without a penis, drinking beer until they puked and passed out, and lighting farts on fire. They also like to hear themselves talk (even when it is through somebody else) so they ask a woman about a traumatic event she experienced at age fifteen and wonders why she didn’t tell anyone. Guess what? Teenage girls don’t share stuff like that because they know nobody will listen.

All of this just makes me think of drinking games. Take a drink for every time someone asked Kavanaugh if he liked beer or drank beer or every time Kavanaugh said he said the word “beer”. I was driving when I heard the whole beer episode. I thought I was in some sort of world that had turned into the cross between a Salvador Dali painting and a Carrie Nation Rally. By the way, if you didn’t know this already, Carrie Nation was six feet tall. I kid you not. But back to the hearing…I almost pulled over to the side of the road. I wouldn’t have been surprised to have seen Rod Serling hitch hiking with an alien.

We’ve also suggested that the TV shows “Hawaii Five-O” and “Longmire” be made into drinking games. Whenever someone gets shot you take a drink. It they die in a more unusual way you take a drink. If someone gets kidnapped you take a drink. If someone who is a main character gets kidnapped or shot you take a drink. By the end of the show, well you never see the end of the show because you’ll be passed out by then.

When I arrived home I decided to not listen to anymore noise. Alas, my plan to just listen to the purring of my cats and maybe some music turned into my usual Thursday headache. And it is also the Friday morning headache. That is LEAF BLOWERS.

About half of my neighbors have yard services and that means leaf blowers.

Vampires, due to our naturally gentle and quiet nature, hate leaf blowers.

I HATE LEAF BLOWERS. 

And half the time I see the guys blowing leaves they’re just blowing dirt. They’re blowing NOTHING. I want to yell at my neighbor after the three hour bout of blowing leaves that he needs to move to the desert if he hates a single leaf in his back yard.

Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, and everything I hold near and dear, I swear that I HATE LEAF BLOWERS. The loud noise makes my head feel like it is going to explode. Kids can’t study. Babies can’t sleep. I can’t work. I can’t do fucking anything.

I told my daughter that next Thursday when the leaf blowers start blowing I’m getting out my trumpet, and YES I do own a trumpet, and blowing it off of my deck until they all think Gabriel himself has come down to earth to do whatever it is that arc angels do. And then when there is a strange silence I shall put down my trumpet, show my fangs and whisper, “vengeance is mine.”

So I take a deep breath. 

I like raking leaves. To be honest, I don’t rake leaves, I sweep them. I sweep them off of the walkways, out of the gutters, and off of the driveway. Along with the leaves are hundreds, and maybe thousands of acorns.

Where are the squirrels when I need them? They’re in the trees barking at me and my cats.

Back to sweeping leaves. There is something so satisfying about sweeping my leaves up. It is quiet. Sweeping is prime time to get my ideas and creativity in order. It is a time to think. I love the way I make little and big piles. I love the smell. I love the mix of leaves and the random flower blossoms and bark that mixes with the leaves.

Right now there isn’t much in my wild back yard except trees so I let the leaves fall on the bare ground to make a soft carpet and get scattered by the dog and the wild turkeys. I don’t need perfection. I don’t need the noise of leaf blowers.

I need the quiet and the celebration of nature in my somewhat ordered world. To be honest with you there is little order in my world, but leaf sweeping, and any yard work in my tiny botanical garden under the oaks brings solace.

So wishing you all peace in this change of seasons. Turn off the radio and TV. Have a beer that nobody will question you about, and count your blessings.

And then hug your cats, talk to your kids, and be a good Vampire. Fall is here.

Remember…Halloween is just around the corner.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

juliette kings _ Marla Todd

No Leaf Blowers Allowed in My Yard

 

 

Weirder Tales

Weirder Tales – Now Available on Amazon and other fine online bookstores. Proceeds to to MS Research.

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Fall Garden

I’m at Sacramento 2018 WordCamp this weekend. In fact I’m speaking today. But fall is in the air so is post-summer, pre-winter gardening. The following was first posted here a year ago. Hope this gets you into the festive falling leaves, pumpkin spice, and falling acorns kind of mood. I’ll see you next Sunday with Tangled Tales Short Story.

fallcolorleaves

Fall Garden

So I’m digging away, trying to put in some sort of flower beds in my rocky garden. It is foggy. It is cold. And I am not amused. That is what happens when you live in a house built on gold mine tailings. Rocks. Nothing but river rocks coated in a tiny bit of dirt and a shit load of weed seeds.

I’ve got the pick ax out, and I’m jamming the shovel in a hole, with the cold nose of a ninety pound German Shepard in my face, when I FINALLY get the last rock loose before I can plant a small dwarf lime tree. The dog goes nuts. I push her away and pull out the rock.

It isn’t a rock.

It is a skull.

A human skull.

Shit.

My son comes out with a fresh cup of coffee for me (did I mention it was cold.) He looked at the skull and then calls up to the house.

“Hey Dad, she found another one.” Then he turns to me. “This one is small. Man, woman, or child?”

I toss the skull in my garden gloved hands. “It might be a woman but you never know.”

“Want me to put it with the others?”

“Sure,” I said, handing the skull to my sweet teenager.

I could hear him in the side yard opening the 50 gallon Rubbermaid storage container, and dropping in the skull.

He came back to me after about a minute. “Hey Mom, the container is almost full.”

I took a deep breath. “That’s a lot of skulls.”

He gave me an uncomfortable look. “It sure is. Who do you think they are?”

I put my arm around his waist and gave him a hug. “I have no idea. But thanks for the coffee sweetie. Let’s go in. I think I’m done out here today.”

 

~ End