Urgent Emergency…but everything is alright…all things considering…because, you know, we’re Vampires.

Pandemic. Protests. Election. Fires. More fires. More smoke. Online school. Online work. My computer is off kilter and hardly working. My not so smart phone is also broken and limping along. Then yesterday I fell and smashed my nose, which thankfully isn’t broken, but I feel like I’ve been in a bar fight or maybe hit be a baseball bat.

Other than that things are pretty good.

We just returned from five days in Aptos, California, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It was wonderful and cool. While fires burned around us we were safe. Now that we are home the sky is still hazy and it is hot as hell but we’re safe.

The dry Oak Forest near my home where I walk my dog.

I have an ear worm. It is an ear worm with the wrong lyrics but I can never hear it with the correct lyrics.

You play tricks on my mind
Your underwear is so hard to find

That would be “Urgent” … the song by Foreigner. You know it.

My great great great great grandmama Lola is by for a few days. After social distancing with her current younger Vampire lover she decided he was too stupid to keep company with and has stopped by my house for a few days.

At six hundred and seventy six years Lola looks all of twenty six years give or take a few.

“So what happened with Frank?” I asked.

Lola stretched out her long legs and kicked off her sandals. “He is a picky eater. That is horribly unattractive in a warm blooded man, but in a Vampire man, and now during these times, it is downright stupid. You know how I hate stupid men.”

“Picky. Like what?”

She scowled. “He said he would only drink the blood of dark haired women with blue eyes who were virgins. I called him a disgusting sexist homophobe creeper. I should have known he was weird when he kept going out and coming back hungry. I told him that if he starved to death it would be fine with me. When I wouldn’t let him touch me anymore he admitted he would feed from other sources, but by then I was done with him. I should have known, but he was handsome and seemed like a lot of fun at first. The tip off should have been his fondness of some night elf girl on that World of Warcraft game. I thought someone who was two hundred and twelve who’d been a Vampire for the past hundred and ninety years would be a little more mature.”

“Yuck,” I said and sat down on the couch next to her. “Do you want to watch a movie?”

She smiled, then jumped up to find my husband and my brother Val.

We saw First Cow. It was a sweet movie and a quiet movie. You’re wrong if you think Vampires sit around watching horror and slasher movies.

Lola and my brother share a three bedroom cottage out in the country near the river delta, on the property belonging to Eleora and Tellias. Sometimes they stay there, sometimes in Lola’s house in San Francisco, and sometimes in Val’s house in Sacramento. I can’t always keep track. They watch out for each other. That means one less person I have to watch out after… but I still do watch out after them.

So that’s what we’re up to. I have to mention that when we got home our animals (a dog and two cats) went nuts and are still attached to us like leaches. It is good to be loved.

All this and I didn’t even mention politics. Nope. I’m not going there today.

From Scott Metzger, one of my absolute favorite cartoonists

Oh, yes, one more thing. I saw a new mural by my husband’s business. I’ll post photos of the two murals on the side of the building that houses the art gallery next door. I love them.

  • Stay safe
  • Wear a mask
  • Social Distance
  • Don’t be a dick about it
  • Check in on those who might need extra help or might be lonely
  • Talk to your kids
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • Don’t let the bullshit get to you
  • Turn off anything that has to do with politics for the next

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Aptos, CA

As We Were: Lola

lola

Meet Lola. Yes, that is her name.

What attracts you to an image? A face. A dress. The details of a collar. The pose? Or is it the attitude? A photograph can take you on a journey into the past, or make your present more interesting.

What do you see? Take a few minutes look at the details: the composition, the mood, the light, the tiny details.

She will always be here as long as her image looks you in the eye and tells you, “I’m so glad you could join me.”

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

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As We Were, a look into 19th Century photography, fashion, and culture. The idea came from my box of ghosts, or that is the many boxes I have full of 19th Century photos that need to be shared.

My regular readers will recognize some of the images, but there are many many many more that haven’t been seen for a long time.

Each 1st and 4th Wednesday I’ll share my photos, along with stories, thoughts on fashion like how bustles and hoop skirts really work, society, and other related subjects.

  1. As We Were: A Series About 19th Century Photography, Fashion, and Fun, 1840’s
  2. As We Were: Fabulous Hats
  3. As We Were: Men With Hats

 

All images are from the collection of and property of  Juliette Kings / Marla Todd. Please ask for permission before reproducing. Thank you.

Remember… Thoughts for International Women’s Day 2020

Remember those who came before you.

Remember those who could not vote.

Remember those who were expected to be silent.

Remember those who were told to follow.

Remember those who refused to follow the rules and paved the way.

Remember those who changed the world and raised their children to change the world. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

lola

Lola

Conversations on Trout and Life with Vampires

Conversations on Trout and Life with Vampires

One morning in August of 2015 morning Garrett (then age 19) and I stopped by to see Great Great Great Grandmama Lola. Even as Vampires go she is old (born the same year as Geoffrey Chaucer), but she looks all of twenty-six.

In her living room was a large fish tank. Garrett immediately went over to check it out. “When did you get this Grams?”

“Last week. I caught the fish myself. Aren’t they lovely.”

In the tank were two rainbow trout, fresh from the river. I could have given her flack about catching wild fish but I didn’t. It would have been a waste of my breath.

Garrett held out his arm and an African Gray parrot landed on his wrist. Lola claims the parrot is over 200 years old but I never know what to think. She has had the bird for over 80 years so she could very well be right. But then I never know with Lola.

I noticed a pair of boots on the floor, tucked halfway under the coffee table.

“Company?” I asked.

“Upstairs sleeping. He’ll sleep for the rest of the day so you don’t have to worry about any awkward moments.”

“So he is just a Regular Human and not a Vampire?”

“Of course,” said Lola. “He works nights for the Highway Patrol. I think it was the boots that did it for me, well that and everything after he took the boots off. Anyway, I’ve made sure he won’t wake up for another six hours at least.”

Then she looked at me and smiled. “Remember the time, when we sat on the wall on the boardwalk watching the ocean and smoking cigarettes for hours. There must have been a thousand shooting stars that night. Then we went dancing with the two brothers from San Francisco.  I could taste the whiskey in their blood. Oh God, I can smell the salt air thinking about it. Do you remember? They were so funny. We couldn’t stop laughing.”

“They both died in the trenches,” I said.

“Trenches? World War One?” Garret asked.

“Yes,” said Lola. “You’ll learn that…” she paused. Then she twisted her long curls into a knot on top of her head, then took a deep breath. “I know you’ve thought about this Garrett. Over the years you’ll meet a lot of people and you won’t forget any of them. Some will go to the back of your mind of course. But what I’m trying to say is you need to respect the memories of those you come across and respect their lives. Respect those you entertain for blood, as well as those you entertain for company. They are more than prey. Respect that.”

“I do respect them. Believe me Grams, I do.”

“Good,” said Lola. “You’ve raised him right Juliette.”

On the way home I thought about those young men, Albert and Hubert. Al and Bert. I thought that war would be the last. We all had that sort of wishful stupid thinking. But no such luck. People are still as stupid and evil as ever. Thank God I was born a Vampire.

Garrett said he wanted to invite Lola down to see him at college. I thought it was a good idea. It is always nice when grandparents visit their college aged grand children, even is the grandparent looks more like a sister.

Lola still suffers from nightmares of things that happened long ago. She has shakes from bouts with Vampire Hunters and scars that have never quiet healed on her body and spirit. She won’t admit it. She lies and says she is alright. I have to admit that we all do that to some extent.

So I excuse her for keeping trout in her living room, and a parrot who sings dirty songs in French and Italian. I excuse her for having men with six pack abs in her bed sleeping off blood loss from the night before. I really don’t need to excuse her, because I accept her. There isn’t anything wrong with her.

I find myself wondering if the mom in me has made me think in ways that are too prim and proper for my own good.

A few days  later I was laughing at this (look below at the funny from Classical Art Memes.)

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And my daughter (then 16) said, “Most parents would have no idea what this means, and you’re laughing out loud at it. That is what makes you the cool mom.”

I don’t always feel cool, but I can out hip any hipster. What was that song? Make “Em Laugh. You know, Donald O’Connor. Look it up on YouTube. I can Make Em’ Laugh. And I can out hip. Yes I can and without looking stupid. Vampires invented hip.

I doubt if my grandkids (when I have them in the far future) will find a 32-year-old CHP officer in my bed, but I’ll be relevant. I’ll be more than relevant. Even now my kids aren’t embarrassed to be with me. Granted we’re Vampires, but teens are teens. Holy crap, I wouldn’t want to be a Werewolf parent. Their kids are weird.

So anyway, just keep laughing, and loving, and don’t bring wild game home, or CHP officers if you can help it (I don’t care how good looking he is.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Lola

Lola

Short Story Sunday: Face Your Demons

“I’ve faced my own demons, something I’d rather not think too much about, but I’ve never had to face someone else’s demons.” Lola as she peered into the dark room at the glowing yellow eyes. “Are you looking for Max?”

“You’re young,” said the owner of the yellow eyes. “What do you know about demons?”

“Oh please,” said Lola. “I’m six hundred and seventy five years old. I’ve been around the block with your kind more than once. Max is my great great great great grandson.”

Lola could now see the Demon spreading it’s leathery wings, and standing. It was a female, with the long legs of a runway model, and the body of a 1950’s pin-up model. “You must be a new demon. Max has had his share of demons when it comes to women but I thought he’d more or less shrugged most of you off. You’re definitely not a Fallen are you, you know fallen angel. They’re the worst. So full of themselves, especially the females. No, I take that back, the males are total assholes, almost as much as they were when they were angels, only in a different sort of way. What did you say your name was?”

The demon said nothing.

“Max isn’t here right now. I know you were expecting him but..” Lola put her hands on her hips. “This is my house and you’re not welcome here. Not now. Not ever.”

“You’re pretty. He favors you in his looks,” said the demon.

Lola, usually one for compliments didn’t smile. Despite her age she looked around twenty-five or twenty-six. Today her long brown hair hung down her back in a loose pony tail. She was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt with pockets full of sand and shells. She’d just come back from a walk on the beach. She’d looked forward to a glass of wine and a book, not a demon.

“Why do you wish to haunt Max? Your kind has already tried to kill him. He has scars that will take years to go away, even for a Vampire, because of demons. You can’t take his soul. What do you want?” And with that question Lola flipped on the light switch.

Standing in the back of the room was the demon, her skin an odd shimmery gray, her eyes yellow, her hair a copper color. She wore a dress that could have been leather, of god only know what. If it wasn’t for the pointed teeth and yellow snake eyes she might have been considered quite attractive. Lola could smell a bit of sulphur in the air. She’d have to burn some nice candles as soon as she got rid of the demon.

The demon sat down on the edge of the bench by the grand piano. “I am not here to do harm to Max. I love him.”

“Oh no you don’t. I should have known this. Until lately Max has been a disaster when it comes to women. But now, he is with someone he loves, truly loves and knows. Max is with her tonight.” Lola gave the demon the mom look. “If you try to contact him or bother his woman I swear I will kill you with my own hands.”

“You can’t kill me,” said the demon.

“I’ll make you wish you were dead.”

The demon looked at Lola and a black oily tear fell from her left eye. Then one fell from the right eye.

“Listen,” said Lola, sitting on the edge of a large red wingback chair. “Max isn’t the one for you. Sure he is good looking and has that bad boy charm, but don’t get carried away with that. A long time ago I was married to someone who was the most attractive, charming, powerful, and fascinating Vampire ever. Guess what? I’m not married to him anymore. I fell for the packaging but as soon as I got him unwrapped down to his core I found out he was totally wrong for me. That was five hundred years ago, but I will never ever forget the lessons I learned from that. The main lesson was not to let demons keep reminding me of him and my early feelings.”

The demon looked angry and her eyes turned red. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“My dear, you’re not listening. Find yourself a nice demon. Even a fallen angel if you need to, but somebody you have more in common with. Find someone who gave his soul to Satan but will give his heart to you. Max can’t give his soul away, and he’ll only give his heart to another Vampire. I know my boy. That is just the way he is. It would never work.”

“You do not know that to be true,” said the demon.

“Oh but I do know it to be true. You’re young, I can tell. What maybe from the 20th Century? I’ve been around for a while. I’ve seen this kind of shit before. You’re only hurting yourself. On the other hand if you’re into getting off from pain, suffering and that kind of  stuff Max definitely isn’t your guy. The last thing he needs is a drama queen.”

“May I stay for a bit?” Asked the demon, as she rested her clawed hand on the keys of the piano.

“No,” said Lola.

The demon stood, raised her wings, and flew out of the French doors into the night.

Lola wiped off the piano bench and keys. Then she poured a glass of wine, and found a new book to start. She found something Max had given her called Red Darkling. 

But before she sat down she took out her phone and texted Max.

You need to control your demons. Seriously Max. Grandmama Lola is not amused by visits from dreamy eyed leathery winged members of your fan club. 

Then she curled up on the couch, and listened to the distant waves of the ocean, the sounds of frogs, as she sipped her wine, and cracked open her book. A night without demons was a wonderful thing.

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

History

“I was tired of Rome. When the first opportunity came up to go to Britain I took it. It was sometime around 78 or 79 AD. My timeline is a little fuzzy on that. I had no idea where I was going or that I’d meet the love of my life and some of the best friends I’ve ever had there. There was nobody like me in Rome. I was alone. I’d always been alone as long as I could remember, since I was a small child. I’d met other Vampires, but they weren’t like me. They were distant and fearful, living in the shadows. I was almost a demigod. Imagine that, and here I am, an old man, living on a farm by a river in California.”

Tellias didn’t look like an old man. He looked about nineteen or maybe twenty. Today Tellias was wearing yellow flip flops, black tuxedo pants, an orange and brown work shirt with the name Lloyd embroidered above the pocket, and his 1966 Rolex Submariner. His white blonde hair was tucked behind his ear.

We were in my brother Aaron’s office,  a restored Italianate mansion built in the 1870’s. Aaron has a law practice. Today his cohort and friend (if you could call it that) Austin Durant was there. Austin Durant is a history professor but he also restores old building. He is also a Vampire Hunter. This is where it can get complicated.

Durant works with Aaron to rid the world of Shadow Creepers, the Vampires who have no souls, and/or no redeeming value to society. They’re the ones who can’t control themselves, cause problems, or just fill out walls and craw spaces with their dried out crusty nasty barely animated corpses. Sometimes I begrudgingly help them out.

I know, I’ve been distracted… I’d stopped by with Eleora and Tellias, the ancient Vampires that I keep an eye on. My great great great great Grandmaman Lola was also along.

Austin was enchanted by the stories. When I first met Austin he tended to be a little tense being the only non-Vampire in the house, but by now he knew we wouldn’t harm him. Why would we?

I went to the kitchen to make tea, and check my email. Eventually Austin met me in their. I poured him a cup and we chatted a bit while we watched the storm outside.

“When I think of all of the history you and your family has experienced, it is just mind boggling,” said Austin.

“We have seen a lot. Sometimes too much.”

Lola came in and got a glass of water. She flirted a bit with Austin then moved on. Nobody would pick her out as a Vampire with her wavy brown hair, jeans and a sweater. Sometimes she walked with a slight limp, but otherwise she looked your average twenty five year old woman.

After she’d left Austin asked (in almost a whisper), “How old is she?”

“Lola is six hundred and seventy five years old. She was born the same year as Geoffrey Chaucer. Same day too. When is your birthday Austin?”

“July 5.”

“You have the same birthday as P.T. Barnum. It seems fitting doesn’t it. You’re a historian and a Vampire Hunter. That makes you sort of a purveyor of freaks and important facts nobody wants to understand.”

“How…”

“You have the same birthday as my daughter. She was born July 5th, 1999.”

“Is she, your daughter a Vampire? Your kids are Vampires like Aaron’s kids aren’t they?”

“Of course they are.  By the way, I have the same birthday as Weird Al but I’m exactly a hundred years older than he is.”

“You were around during the California Gold Rush.”

“Right after the Gold Rush. My husband Teddy was born on the Panama Peninsula when his parents were on their way to California in 1849. They were among the first. My brother Max was born in Sacramento a few weeks after Teddy’s parents and my parents arrived. Aaron was born in 1854. I came along in 1859. Our other brothers Andy and Val were also born in the 1850’s. 1851 and 1858. We were a big family of little Vampires. I suppose we were around during the tail end of the Gold Rush, kind of sort of. I vaguely remember adults talking about the war, you know the Civil War. My big memories are more about the city growing up around us, floods, fires, the art museum, and the railroad. The rail road was big. Oh, and I remember then the State Capitol building went up. That was glorious fun. We had roller skates too, for indoors. The streets weren’t good enough for street skates.”

“You skated?”

“Yes, we skated.”

“I know all of this, or most of what you’re telling me, but when I hear it from you…when I hear it from you, it’s like…I don’t know. It’s extraordinary. The things you’ve seen…”

“Austin, don’t have too much adoration for us. You have your own extraordinary talents and experiences.”

Dear Eleora blasted into the room, twirling her red circle skirt, and singing something that sounded like a long lost Motown song. She kissed my cheek, then kissed Austin on the cheek.

“Would you like some tea sweetie?” I asked her.

“Not right now, but when you’re done with yours come back and join us, and bring Mr. Austin with you.” Then she fluttered out of the room.

“She is the wife of Tellias, right?”

“Yes she is. I’m not sure if they ever were formally married but they’ve been together since he arrived in Britain from Rome.”

“How old are they?”

“Over two thousand years, but nobody knows for sure. We believe she is older, but we don’t ask.”

“They look like teenagers.”

“They act like old people. They are old people.”

We finished our tea and got back to the others. I took all of my elders home. Aaron and Austin got to work on some restoration and nasty ghoul extraction they’d been working on.

One day I might sit down with Austin and tell him all of my tales of bygone days. Then again, I think he just might get depressed when he finds out that nobody ever learns from their mistakes. Nobody listens to reason, or cautionary tales, or cares about anything in the past or in the future. Then again, I might be wrong.

It doesn’t matter how old someone is, or how young, but how they see the world. It is how they choose to see the world.

I tell my kids that. My now legally adult children. They seem so young, because they are. And of course, they keep me young as well – all 159 years of me.

Stay young. Share stories. Live well. Learn from your mistakes, and from your success, and from each other.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman