House of the Spirits – Casa de los espiritus

They called the farmhouse casa de los espiritus, the ones who picked the fruit and helped with the orchards. House of the spirits.

The original house is gone, replaced in 1884 with a lavish 5,400 square foot Queen Anne style Victorian. The spirits are still there in the form of Tellias and Eleora the very ones who had the home built. Yes, they’re still there because they are Vampires.

Over the years the house has seen friends come and go but the owners stay the same, never aging a day. During the day the house is still but at night the spirits come to life with both darkness and in light. One can go by the darkened old house and hear laughing coming from within. Memories fade except of the faces of youth that never grows old.

On rare occasions we might see ghosts in the orchards or down by the river banks, but they’re never in the house.

Gone are the days of lavish parties but those days might come again.

I kicked back on the veranda with my brother Val recently one moonless night.

“So I guess we’re the spirits,” he said.

“Pretty much,” I replied. Nothing more needed to be said. It was one of those slow nights where we didn’t feel like going out. We’d both had lunch dates so there wasn’t any urgency to go out.

We didn’t play remember when that night. You know, the old game where you sit with an old friend or sibling and remember the most extreme situations you’ve ever been in. Remember when you found the crocodile under your bed, remember when that crazy rogue Vampire tried to tear your head off, remember when you fell off the bridge, remember when the hounds chased us across the field, remember when we were trapped in a crypt, trapped in a burning barn, trapped in a light house, trapped in a sinking ship, trapped with a politician in a rowboat in the middle of a swamp in Louisiana, hidden in a closet, running down the beach with a giant torch, hidden in a church, trapped in a relationship? It could go on forever. But that night we didn’t play that game. OK we did but later. We always play that game.

Bob, the neighbor stopped by. We didn’t play remember when with him either. Bob is 62 and dealing with his 85 year old mother (who has ideas of her own on how Bob should live his life.) I suddenly thought how odd it must be for Bob to be here speaking with a couple of Vampires. He has known us all his life. His family has known us (our family and our kind) since the 1850’s.

Casa de los espíritus applies more to him than to us. He 40 years ago he fell in love with a woman who never aged. Of course her heart belongs to another forever, but he never give up hope. For him there is that ghost of a chance… always the chance, or so I speculate.

The spirits haunt those with the least time. They haunt those who think the most of what could have been.

For those of us who think of what can be the spirits are quiet.

Earlier we heard someone playing the old wind up gramophone Radio Franks Old Maid’s Ball. Now they were all in dancing to Enrique Iglesias singing Bailando.

Val and I laughed and danced along. Why not. Everyone needs to dance, even Vampires in the dark of the night. Taking Bob by the hands we all went inside to join the party.

Tonight the spirit was that of friendship and fun. No haunting scary monsters. That is for another post, I promise.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Musings on Home, Teens and Vampires

A cold rain is coming down through the damp air. My home is surrounded by painters.

Contrary to public urban myths Vampires do not all live in Addams family style homes with the worst of Victorian architecture. I refuse to be a Shadow Creeper. Please, give me a break.

My home is going from a nasty peeling gray putty color to a nice friendly blue. Fifty shades of gray might be ok for bad mommy-porn but not for my house. It was starting to look like a haunted house (or worse the Amityville Horror House or the House on Haunted Hill.) Now it looks kind of like Bear’s home in Bear in the Big Blue House. My readers with teens might remember Bear, Tutter and the Otters. Anyway, my farmhouse style home is no longer looking haunted. It doesn’t mean I’m immune to ghosts but at least I’m not looking like I’m trying to attract them.

Bear's Big Blue House

Bear’s Big Blue House

Small Vampire children loved Luna, the moon in the show. And Shadow. I believe Shadow was Irish. She sounded Irish to me. I’m just musing and walking down memory lane. I love teens, but sometimes I miss having little bitty ones in the house.

All Vampire children love Luna and Bear.

All Vampire children love Luna and Bear.

From my breakfast nook office (where I choose to camp out today) I can see lemon trees and red leaves on deciduous trees.  Modern life. Modern Vampires.

High School is going good this year. Complaints are minor. The kids are smart. There seems to be a somewhat larger and more diverse circle of young Vampires at school.

Character.tutter

Tutter likes everyone, even when he feels confused.

Clara and her friends are always laughing about something. They’re popular with their teachers and fellow classmates, always well liked, but not considered among the upper echelons of “popular kids.” It works better for them that way.

My husband Teddy was worried about one of her friends. The boy wears pale makeup and eyeliner. His hair is bleached white. He wears tight black everything. He rarely talks.

“He’ll grow up to be a Shadow Creeper,” says Teddy. “I don’t want people to think you’re as strange as he is.”

Clara answers her father. “Everybody likes him. Except for the cakey foundation nobody thinks he is that different.”

“Does he like boys or girls?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think he knows. Does it matter?”

“I don’t care. He just seems confused,” said Teddy.

“They’re just teens. He’ll find himself. And no, he won’t become a Creeper. Clara won’t let that happen,” I said.

“He’d never be a Shadow Creeper,” said Clara.

“I hope not,” said Teddy.

“He won’t,” I said.

We’ve had a lot of conversations like this. We’ll have it again in a year, in five years, in fifty years.

Thanks goodness we don’t know any kids who are unfortunate enough to be Shadow Creepers. Those are the Vampires who live under houses, in musty crypts, in the dark and in the past. They’re out of touch and, well, just creepy and awkward. They tend to smell of dust and death. They’re disgusting. We don’t associate with them. Sorry, I accept just about everyone, but I do draw the line with some things.

When you have teens around a lot of different issues come up. You just have to let them explore their options. You have to explore those options with them and discuss consequences, be those good or bad. But you also have to sometimes stand back and not be quick to judge.

It is like when you have a toddler. You have to be like bear and gently guide your blue mouse and otters into not doing stupid stuff. And you have to let them know you’re proud of them for doing smart stuff. Most of all you have to appreciate them for being who they are.

Oh look, the snow is falling. I love this blogging season!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

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In the house of 26 windows

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Why yes, I’ve taken up house keeping in your walls and I’m quite comfortable. Thanks for asking.

 

 

I live in a house with twenty-six windows.

I am a Vampire.

My home is on a hill so that creates a nice cool space under the house where we keep wine, camping gear, yard tools, and boat stuff, among other things. There are no coffins under there. There are no coffins anywhere in my home.

Windows let in the light. Windows also let in the night. They let us watch rare lightning storms. They let in the moonlight. Windows let me view the fog without the dampness.

Wait…I was just going to muse on about living next to an oak forest, and the peaceful setting, and more windows, but I think I just heard gunfire. What the fuck is wrong with people? Sure shooting guns is fun but not in a residential area. Not near a public park. It doesn’t matter that there is a lot of undeveloped land around. Assholes.

A few nights ago, about a mile away, some white trash yahoo shot a gun into the air a bunch of times then shot up a car. Needless to say he is in jail right now. We’ve had two drug related drive by shootings in our quiet relatively crime free community in the past year so everyone is a bit on edge. One was a sixteen year old who had been involved in drug traffic. What a sad waste.

So back to my musings on windows but I’ve totally and completely lost my train of thought.

I’d like to say that I can take care of annoying people. Not as in bringing them chicken soup when they are sick, but as in making them live in fear, or have nightmares that drive them crazy, or other creative solutions. I can, but I don’t, as long as they stay away from me or those I love. As with most Vampires, I just take a deep breath and keep writing (or doing whatever I was doing.) We aren’t super heroes or keepers of the calm. We’re just Vampires. We pick our battles carefully. Then again, doesn’t everyone with half a brain.

Oh great. Now I hear squirrels running around in the wall, between the floor of the upstairs and the ceiling of the downstairs. I am not happy. Squirrel squatters are the worst kind of animal trash. And no, my cats are not earning their keep right now.

Ants are in my house too. I can usually manage them. Our neighbors haven’t been so lucky. They put their cat food dish in a bowl of water so the ants can’t get at the food.

Turkeys are in my yard. I can hear them in the back picking through the dry grass (we’re in a drought remember.) They have done their best to try to dig up the roses in my front yard. There are six of them. All females. They make their rounds digging in yards, looking for whatever turkeys eat. The small calico cat used to stalk the turkeys but now she just ignores them. Don’t suggest shooting them. Just don’t.

Last winter I came home to find a large dead male turkey right in the middle of my front yard. I have no idea what happened. No idea. But there was a broken branch in one of the trees above the dead bird. I just figure he was drinking and fell out of the tree.

So if you thought Vampires are solitary creatures you are wrong.

Speaking of which, I have to get the door. I’ll be back.

That was my charming young hipster friend Cody. I suppose I can’t call him a Vampire in training anymore, or even a new Vampire. He has been part of the community for four years now.

I told him he could take my squirrels and make a beard out of them. Or maybe a coat. Those were jokes of course. Bad jokes but jokes never the less.

My young friend (he is in his mid-thirties) stopped by for coffee and lively discussion. It is what Cody and I do. Today, in a rare burst of emotion, he was asking a lot of questions.

First he asked, “Why do I still need to wear contacts or glasses during the day, but I can see crystal clear in the dark?”

“Our eyes are sensitive to the light,” I told my young friend. “It is just part of being a Vampire. Our night vision, the ability to see in the dark, is a gift. One of many gifts.”

“Is it wrong to be in love with a woman who is six hundred years older than I am?”

“No.” I answered. Of course it that was one of my kids I’d flip and have to go beat the living moonlight out of that old Vampire. But Cody is an adult…long story for another blog post.

He talked, while I listened, about the fact that he could feel the emotions and even the thoughts of others. It was overwhelming to him sometimes.

He talked about how he could smell warm blood inside of live people and it reminded him of summer barbecues and that bothered him. I told him that it happened to all Vampires from time to time.

Then he asked the one question that got on my nerves. “What is that noise?”

“Squirrels.”

“What are you going to do about it?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll blast roller skating music at them. You know, organ music played to popular songs in classic dance beats.”

“That would do it. Or you could hire someone with traps to come out.”

“I could do that too. I could also feed them peanut better cookies until they get so fat they explode.”

We had more coffee and spoke to the transitions in our lives. Even Vampires have transitions. Even 155 year old Vampires have transitions.

“Sometimes I miss things, like being warm. In the winter I can’t see my breath in the cold air,” said Cody.

I’ve always been like this, but I remember as a child wishing I could breath out fog like regular humans could. Growing up this way makes being this way normal.

“Cody,” I said, “your feelings are normal. Your new world is normal too. Take it from me, no matter where you are, make it your normal.”

I’m sure that made no sense at all to him, but he looked at me as if I was some self-help guru.

“Like a new normal,” he said.

“Like the normal you’ll always had but just different. Even if you had never become a Vampire you’d still have major changes in your life.”

Then we talked about books, and had more coffee, and went for a walk down by the lake.

And now, I’m back here with my cats, the squirrels, and still no ideas about my twenty-six windows and how I’m going to tie those into a life lesson story. Oh well.

Have a good week everyone. And don’t feel stupid to ask questions. There are no stupid questions. OK there are stupid questions but I’m a mom and I’m not supposed to say that.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

The house with 26 windows

The house with 26 windows

 

 

 

 

 

On The Road

I’m on the road this week – a Vampire in a hot strange land with confusing traffic patterns. I discovered great coffee (the best I’ve had in years), a wonderful used record store and a few other hidden gems.

As a Vampire one learns to seek and find entertainments, odd spots, art, natural wonders and interesting people no matter where you go. A wasteland to most can be a place of interest to a Vampire.

Or not.

The Vampire community here is small and somewhat sketchy. Despite that, they are well educated and living out of the gutters and dark sad places that most of the population seems to dwell in. They are college professors and musicians and farmers. They hold on tight to their small community and don’t readily let in new members. By that I mean they don’t make new Vampires here. Their numbers never grow.

I met them out on a farm, in the middle of a vineyard, in a new and luxurious home. Old friends. Old stories. Older memories. Yet, there was an exchange of new stories as well.

Iced blood flowed out of bottles into frosted goblets. We put aside our usual hushed tones and laughed out loud.

My friend Judith and I made our way down to the wine cellar where she showed me her latest vintage from her winery a few miles north of the main house.

“We own this place. We always have. Always will,” she said to me. “I hear you’ve been having issues up North.”

“What have you heard?” I asked.

“Rogue Vampires, problems with Shadow Creepers and Vampire Hunters to start.”

“Add an abundance of new Vampires to that mix,” I added. “The fun never ends.”

We talked and solved the problems of the world. We laughed as old friends do and then went back up to the heat with the others.

Everyplace you go has its shares of worries and woes. Everyplace also has its own traditions and charms. Almost. I guess there is  no place like home… even if you’re a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Silver memories of past and future

Together in the filtered light

Counting silver

Memories of parties

Celebrations

Traditions

Long conversations over wine

And cake.

Soon the knives and forks

Minus the moon and a cow

Will go with the spoons

To a new home

With new traditions

New hopes and dreams

And witness more love

Friendship

And life.

 

My husband and daughter are selling silver plate and sterling on ebay this week (Spring break.) She is learning about sales and business and setting a fine table. It is a way for father and daughter to bond and share.

The art of setting a fine table is fading away, but there are times when we should all bring out something special, be it a piece of silver, a crystal vase, or a beautiful set of goblets. Sets of silver plate are inexpensive, often less than stainless you’d get from any modern store. But there is something beautiful and calm and classy about the old patterns. The silver plate is warm and inviting.

Plus you can give your set a story and a history – it doesn’t have to be true, or can be true to you, or just interesting speculation.

Oh, and don’t forget to hang a spoon off of our nose (click here to find out how.)

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Having Guests for Dinner? Thanksgiving Day Movies with a Bite!

Who are you having for dinner this Thanksgiving? That’s right WHO are YOU having for DINNER? Make your list and after the Macy’s Parade and Football and Turkey comes MOVIES!

Even Vampires like those feel good holiday movies! The traditional Thanksgiving movies around here have been Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (plenty of evil characters in that one so we can all cheer for Truly) and of course Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and just about anything we can all sing along to and know by heart. I also love Local Hero, which is just about my favorite movie. Then there is that long list of favorite romantic comedies that we can watch over and over again. But sometimes it just gets old. I mean, we’ve seen these movies 1,000 times.

And it is THANKSGIVING. So since we’re having guests for dinner, why not watch movies about having guests for dinner?

The list below are my suggestions to new traditions in Thanksgiving movies. Feel free to leave your own suggestions too!

To Serve Man – Twilight Zone (1962)

Odd but friendly aliens land on Earth claiming that they only want “to serve man.”  That sounds great to the thousands of people who decide to go away with the aliens with the promise of adventure and wonder. Only the book called “To Serve Man” isn’t what they think. This is so much fun! You HAVE to check it out. One of the best Twilight Zones ever and in wonderful black and white!

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X Files “Home”

From Season 4 – this one will give you nightmares (even if you’re a Vampire or Werewolf.) It is creepy and disturbing and about as awful as it gets, but hey, what could be better to have the family hugging each other on the couch! You MUST see this one! I’m not giving anything away. No spoilers here.

Of course for kicks and grins there is “Bad Blood” from season 5 – an amusing Vampire story that won’t disturb anyone.

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Eating Raoul (1982)

In this black comedy Paul and Mary, a stuffy couple with quite a few misadventures and an odd way of looking at life, decide to have their friend Raoul for dinner. This charming movie is so funny and unexpected. Get out the good wine and the pumpkin pie and sit down for a lot of silly fun.

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World War Z (2013)

Brad Pitt and Zombies. That pretty much says it all. I loved this movie. I also loved the book. And don’t forget to turn on the surround sound on this one! Max Brooks was truly brilliant when he wrote this one.

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Alive (1992)

A plane crash in the Andes. A group of young soccer players stranded without food…except for all those bodies… Based on a true story. This really is a good movie and kind of inspirational. Not blood and guts. It is more about survival and teamwork and friendship.

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The Donner Party (PBS) – American Experience

Everybody loves the Donner Party especially if you live in Sacramento. The Donners and their sad story is in our blood. In the winter of 1846 the ill fated Donner party. So what happens when a bunch of friends (not really) get stranded in the mountains all winter? No need for Vampires to make this story scary. Believe me, this was no party. I’m glad my parents took a ship to California. Mind you there were NO roads there back then (there is now a 4 lane highway and snowplows) and no way to get off the mountain. So after they ran out of food and ate their dogs, a few members of the party started to eat their dead friends. There is some speculation that there was more than one murder involved. And not everyone ate the dead. Plus we have to give credit to those who DID survive and kept their children alive through it all. It is a story that we just can’t stop talking about!

They agreed that having Dave for dinner was a great idea.

They agreed that having Dave for dinner was a great idea.

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So have fun this Thanksgiving and try something new. You never know how Grandma will react and maybe for once weird Uncle Pudd will get to see something he likes!

And feel free to add your own movie suggestions!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman