Attending Marvels, Parenting, Smoke, Fire, Flying in the Age of Covid-19 and Stupid Stuff.

The fires in California and the Covid-19 Pandemic continue to rage on. 

This morning #45, a man with a name I shall not mention because I will go into an angry rage, was in town to tell us what we are doing wrong, spreading ignorance and generally making a horrible situation even worse.

Before he arrived I was lucky enough to catch a plane going 500 miles south of my hometown. 

I usually don’t comment on politics but after raising my children in a time when school shootings was a common occurrence I feel I can say whatever I want. Anyway his is MY blog.

Between Sacramento and Long Beach there was nothing but smoke. I looked out the window of the plane for an hour. I can usually see farmlands, mountains, cities, small towns, and even Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Today I saw nothing but smoke until we were just a few minutes from the Long Beach airport.

Since I’m visiting my children, and since I’m the mom I was tasked with bringing a few items with me. One was coffee. Apparently nobody in Southern California has coffee as good as Sacramento’s own Chocolate Fish Coffee. Another was roller skates. The average pair of competition custom dance skates with wheels weighs about 378 pounds. At least it feels like that trying to haul them around an airport and get them through security. Now you know why skaters have such great legs. Those skates are heavy.

Due to the pandemic the plane was only half way full. All middle seats were empty. I was the only one in my section. 

As I pulled out my tote bag I discovered I’d left my book at the airport. It was a well worn copy of one of my favorite books of all time: Attending Marvels: A Patagonian Journal by George Gaylord Simpson. The book is a journal about finding dinosaur bones in early 1930’s Patagonia. It isn’t just about the bones. Simpson brilliantly introduces the reader to the wide variety of people he meets (exotic and not so exotic) and most of all introduces us to the fantastic and almost unreal Patagonian landscape. I love this book above almost all others. It had such an influence on me. I can’t explain it because I usually don’t dig for bones. On the other hand I’m always up for adventure. If you can check the book out at the library or you can get a cheap copy on eBay. 

Luckily I’m one of those people who can sit on a plane for an hour and a half and do things in my head. I looked at the tops of the heads of the other passengers. I listened. There wasn’t as much talking at all – not like before the days of Covid-19. But up front I noticed there were two Vampires sitting together speaking quietly in a mixture of the old Vampire language and English. One had honey blonde hair and the other a dark auburn. I didn’t know them or introduce myself. It was just an observation. I didn’t feel like meeting anyone new today or invading their space.

I’m down here for a week with my children. They’re busy but getting weary of the smoke, the pandemic, the feelings of unresolved social injustice, and the environmental mess ignored and left up to them to fix. 

One is spending her senior year of college and working online. The other just received a gradate degree and is working online and trying to start a business with his best buddy from childhood.

Sure they’re Vampires, as are most of their closest friends, but the same things weigh heavy on them that weigh heavy on all young people these days.

When I return home I’ll replace the windshield wipers on my car that have been ruined from the ashes and grit that has rained from the sky. I’m thankful that it is somewhat clear here. It is still smoky but I can see real sunlight. 

While I’m home I’ll savor my time with my children and try to forget everything except us. I’m here, as always, to give them support, and love, and to make them smile.

I’ll have more on our adventures as the week progresses.

Stay safe, wear a mask, turn off the news, be kind to others and yourself. And if you get a chance kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Juliette’s Book Club: Expanding Your Horizons

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“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

 

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My daughter called me to ask if I’d ever read Desert Solitaire by Edward Abby.

It was on a list of about 125 books from one of her classes. She had to choose one. All had to do with environmental issues and/or political issues with the environment. Also on the list were Silent Spring by Rachael Carson, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, and Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez.

Yes, I have read all of them. Everyone should read all of them. I told my child to read all of them.

Then she said, “Mom, I only have to read one.”

“Then read Desert Solitare. That book changes lives. They all do, but read that one first.”

Then we talked about our trip to Arches National Park a few years ago. I told her how much the surrounding area and Moab have changed since Edward Abby wrote his classic book.

Desert Solitaire is a collection of treatises and autobiographical excerpts describing Abbey’s experiences as a park ranger and wilderness enthusiast in 1956 and 1957. The opening chapters, First Morning and Solitaire, focus on the author’s experiences arriving at and creating a life within Arches National Monument. In this early period the park is relatively undeveloped: road access and camping facilities are basic, and there is a low volume of tourist traffic.

Desert Solitaire depicts Abbey’s preoccupation with the deserts of the American Southwest. He describes how the desert affects society and more specifically the individual on a multifaceted, sensory level.

“A man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, powerlines, and right-angled surfaces. We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to set foot in it. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.”
Edward Abbey

 

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I have started reading Horizon by Barry Lopez (author of Arctic Dreams.)
So far it has been a book that is hard for me to put down.

From the National Book Award-winning author of the now-classic Arctic Dreams, a vivid, poetic, capacious work that recollects the travels around the world and the encounters–human, animal, and natural–that have shaped an extraordinary life.

 

This Book Club isn’t so much about what I’ve read, but about what I’m reading now, or will be reading soon. Like most of you, I have a big stack of to-read books, as well as a long list of to-read books.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Halloween Hotties: Werewolves

My friend Brandy, who just happens to be a Werewolf, asked me an interesting question yesterday. 

Why are most Werewolves in fiction male? Why are sexy Werewolves usually male? Why are there so few sexy Werewolves. What’s up with that?

I thought about it for a second. Well Brandy, I’m sure my gentle readers would be able to come up with dozens of examples of all of the above mentioned. I just don’t know of many. In the meantime, maybe I need to change that and write a few stories for Brandy.
Today I’m reposting favorite from 2013. It was part of my “Halloween Hottie” series.  Aside from all of the love letter, taking kids to rock concert, and spoon hanging posts THIS one is in the top five all time most popular.

Halloween Hotties: Werewolves (if you’re into guys who smell like wet dogs)

Time to Countdown to Halloween with Halloween Hotties  – WEREWOLVES.

Werewolves. I’m torn on this one. I just don’t find them attractive at all. OK – I don’t find most of them attractive.

Now wolves, the wonderful wild wolves who don’t turn back into humans are some of the most beautiful creatures on earth.

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But Werewolves? Really? They’re just gross and disturbing.

This is not attractive or hot in any way shape or form.

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But before he was transformed…Mr Chaney was quite the looker. After the transformation his was just one ugly dog faced boy.

Lon Chaney looking hot in a suit! Sweetheart stay out from under that full moon!

American Werewolf In London = hot guys, ugly werewolves.

Looking cute now guys but wait until midnight!

So what does the whole Werewolf thing mean in modern culture. Man shows his inner beast? Nooooo, it’s just another way to creep us out and give us some scary fun.

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Caution: If you’ve come here for deep and meaningful look at my parenting posts.

That said, if you are looking for a HOT Werewolf… The hero of Robert McCammon’s The Wolf’s Hour, Michael Gallatin, is the most smoking hot Werewolf ever to grace the pages of fiction or non-fiction. I love this book. It goes down in my top 10 favorite books of all time. Take my word for it.

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The Wolf’s Hour is about a Russian Werewolf who is a Nazi hunter during WW2. Trust me, this isn’t some silly book. It is powerful, well written and filled with some of the best characters ever written. Read it. Read it. Read it. And by the way, Mr. McCammon you’re pretty hot yourself! I mean, any man who can write how he writes has to be hot.

Then there is Adam, my own Werewolf friend. He just rolls his eyes at me.

Yes, I do have personal experience with these guys. It is creepy when you see hair growing out of the top of somebody’s hand. I can handle the teeth thing, especially since I have fangs too. And I like a man with a little hair on his chest, but not covering his entire body like, well, like a DOG or a bear rug. Nor do I like the idea of kissing a guy knowing that he was chewing on his ass the night before. Yuck.

I once told Adam that I found the idea of turning into a wolf somewhat disturbing. He went off on me for a full 15 minutes about how vile Vampires are and that we’re more or less the most evil disgusting creatures that ever stayed awake all night. I told him I hoped he’d get fleas in his crotch and that I would NEVER forgive him for trying to rip my throat out a while back. I told him he smelled like a wet dog after he’d been a wolf for the night.

Most Werewolves are Halloween Hotties because of what they look like BEFORE the full moon. You gotta admit I’m right about that one. I mean, look at the photo below with the cute guy and the puppy. Cute now…just wait until the full moon and he turns into some disgusting hairy beast that eats Alpo and small children. Maybe we just want to take care of them – like we take care of our faithful dogs. Poor babies…. No, I don’t think so.

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Adam and I didn’t talk for a while after our big Werewolf vs Vampire blow out and insult throwing contest,  but we’re back to being in the close friend category.

Creatures such a Vampires and Werewolves can get a little emotional with expressing our feelings. That said, if you want emotional try spending some time with a ghost.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

And as long as you’re here…check out the rest of the blog for more fun and more Werewolves.

He claims he looks more like the wolf, but I've seen him with those wolf teeth and hair growing out of his arms...it is enough to scare the most hardened Vampire.

 

Midweek Summer Reading: Ian Rutledge Series by Charles Todd

Ian Rutledge has returned from WW1 and is back to his job as an inspector with Scotland Yard. The woman he loves has left him. The ghost, only he can see of Corporal Hamish MacLeod is in his head, or riding in the back seat of his car. The war is over but violent death is still part of his life. His sister Francis is always there for him and always a delight.

I love these books. Right now I’m reading “A Pale Horse” which takes place in 1920. The characters are alive and believable. The story lines are captivating. If you’re looking for a new series (especially fans of Nigel the Ghost) you’ll like love these books.

The author is a mother/son team. They do a magnificent job.

The first Book in the series is A Test of Wills : Ian Rutledge, returned home from the trenches of the Great War, loses his fiancée Jean after long months in hospital with what is now called PTSD, and faces a bleak future. Fighting back from the edge of madness, he returns to his career at Scotland Yard. But Chief Superintendent Bowles is determined to break him. And so Rutledge finds himself in Warwickshire where the only witness to the murder of Colonel Harris is a drunken ex-soldier suffering from shell shock Rutledge is fighting his own battles with the voice of Corporal Hamish MacLeod in his head, survivor’s guilt after the bloody 1916 Battle of the Somme. The question is, will he win this test of wills with Hamish—or is the shell shocked witness a mirror of what he’ll become if he fails to keep his madness at bay?

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For more information go to: https://charlestodd.com/the-history-of-inspector-ian-rutledge/

 

Happy reading.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman