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

 

 

 

 

A walk in the woods and other night music…

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Musings on the California Drought, Frogs, Family Time and the Grammy Awards (and of course being a Vampire)

My brother Val stopped by at twilight for a stroll by the lake. We got the kids to put on their shoes and leave their crypts, excuse me, their bedrooms (as all teens, as you well know, have crypt like bedrooms) and come with us.

We walked along the dry path missing the tall green grass of last winter. The drought has reduced the ground to a gray brown clumps of dead grass. The grasses should be bright green and knee deep. The frogs should be calling out in their winter seasonal ponds. The only sounds are birds and cars. Nothing from the ground where the frogs live. I wonder where they are. Maybe dried up waiting like Vampires for the liquid of life to release them and bring them back from their ghastly dried up slumbers. Will they miss a generation of tadpoles because there is no pond to romance each other in and leave their eggs?

Anyway, it is easy to muse on frogs when their usual deafening night music is absent.

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My teens walk ahead, talking about their friends and school and of course music. The Grammys are going to be on. Only a few of their favorites have been nominated but they want to see it anyway.

Val and I walk behind shoulder to shoulder with private jokes that go back for years.

“Hey, I just discovered that if right after you take a donor, if you chase it with a shot of Jefferson’s Presidential Reserve Bourbon, oh my God, it is a bit of heaven mixed with the best sex you’ve ever had.”

“Who were you with?” I HAD to ask.

He laughed. I knew him too well. It always comes down to a woman (many many women.) He always chases his blood with shots of expensive booze. I mean we all do it, but he feeds more at night than I do. I do it when the kids are in school, meet with donors (as I like to call it) not take shots. Hey, like I’ve said before, we’re Modern Vampires, we don’t lurk around and steal into the bedrooms of strangers and do creepy stuff like that. We’re more civilized and have more fun when we hunt. Why brood when you can have fun or at least…whatever. There is no reason to ever brood.

We got back to the house just in time for the Grammy Awards to start. It was a lot of fun. Something for everyone. One thing that we liked was the fact that one or two artists didn’t win all of the awards (ok 3 or 4 did but still it is better than some previous years.) And this year the performances were good – even the bands/performers we usually don’t listen to. Pink was too much fun. All the old guys were out too. Carol King is not an old guy though – she is a force – an amazing talent. Just about everyone was good and it was fun. There were several bands we all thought should have been nominated. Maybe next year.

So that was my take on the Grammys. Teddy came in towards the end and had to let us all know what crap it all was (except Metallica.) He always has strong opinions on music. I have to admit Madonna was sort of scary and creepy (and a bit sad) in her cowgirl outfit and looking much older than any 55 year old women I know. Yoko was really scary too. If a Vampire thinks something is scary then it is scary.

We all thought the music teacher award was super cool! Go Music Teachers! We know who we’re going to nominate for next year!

Earlier Teddy was at the Kings game with old friends earlier in the evening. They lost (the Kings not the friends.) But the night wasn’t a total loss. Chased with beer rather than Bourbon. And of course friends. That is never a loss.

So a new week starts. I can only hope it will bring more fun and adventures.

Wishing you all a good week.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Lake Natoma as twilight (from the Vampire's little magic phone box)

Lake Natoma as twilight (from the Vampire’s little magic phone box)

Frogs, Love and Hell

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.

Summer-Sun-550This 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

_________________________________

butterfly

For more on the elders in my life and dealing with the elderly (with humor or not) see the links below:

Rain and Frogs

It is dark as dark. Pitch dark.

The rain is coming down. The wind is howling through the trees.

And the frogs in the seasonal ponds are singing up a chorus to rival the Mormon Tabernacle or even Chanticleer! One of my goals in the next year or two is to see Chanticleer the amazing orchestra of voices from San Francisco. In the meantime I have the songs of the frogs – the calming soothing frogs of night. The frogs that Vampires, who seek the dark and quiet, love to hear.

Oh frogs we love thee, water born angels, sprites of the night.

In most parts of the world frogs hibernate when it turns cold. Here they thrive. The big ones are under our front porch. The little ones are in the ponds and creeks.

In the summer when it is dry they are quiet. The ponds are gone. The creeks are more or less dry. They could go down to the lake and ponds at the bottom of the bluffs. I imagine them walking in single file down to the lake, a half mile, single file on the dusty dirt paths. Tiny brown frogs, quietly determined to make it down to the lake, to the water where they’ll live until the first rainfall of Autumn comes again.

We like our frogs indeed.

We like the dark.

We like the trails when it is dry because of the mountain bike guys who ride at night. They stop and visit. Their ride always makes them tired. We never tell them that it is because they just spent a half hour with a couple of Vampires and their children. But it is all good. Everybody gets what they want – and the riders don’t know it. They’re unaware of who we are – they only know how good they feel after we leave them and how happy they are to hear the music of the frogs. They only feel the joy of riding with their lights under the night sky, on the dirt paths, down to the lake where the frogs spend their summers.

There are so many stresses in life for all sorts of creatures. It is a wonderful thing when we can spend time just enjoying the diversity of life and the songs of each other.

xoxoxo

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Rain and Frogs