Musings on Dusk and Art

William Keith - Dusk near Monterey

William Keith – Dusk Near Monterey

I was in my dining room, one cat sitting on the table and one in a chair ready to take a swipe at the other’s tail. My eyes went to the painting on the wall and I allowed myself to be transported to the coast. It was dusk. The wind was in my hair, the cats were playing around my feet. The waves made what would turn into the music of the night.

My brother Max and Grandmama Lola still keep a cottage there, from their days hanging out with artists and other Bohemian types. I still love to spend time there in the cottage that now acts as a safe house of sorts.

Then I’m back in my house, transported back to another place in another century.

As I’ve often said – I can’t explain the wonder and awe and feeling of being so complete and one with the universe when I’m in the presence of art. It is time travel for the soul. It is the essence of being. It was something that transports. It is like a high that no drug can match. It is magic.

It has been too long since I’ve picked up a brush, pastels or put pen and ink on paper. I need to close my eyes and feel the passion again, then in a quiet space create without doubt or care of what anyone else will say or think. It is like the verse from Matthew 6.6:

When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 

When you create art it is like prayer. It is an extension of your soul. It is the ability to create a vision with your eyes and hands and heart. I don’t have the ego to show off, rather it is a gift for me to share.

So I go to my inner room, close the door, and create my fine art in secret.

I do a lot of things in secret, but then again, I’m a Vampire. That is what we do when we’re not waxing poetically about life, love, art and parenting.

Grandmama Lola dropped by and we shared a pot of tea and talked about art and life and what makes us really alive. It isn’t the blood in our veins but the wonder and visions in our souls that makes us real.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Desert Winds

On the edge of the Sandia Mountains, My friends Amelia her husband Raul and I drove down the gravel road to the home of Ximena, an ancient woman who mostly lived in solitude with the company of the birds and the wind.

Ximena’s home was a large old adobe structure rimmed with bells and bushes of purple flowers. She greeted us at the door, as always wearing a long colorful skirt. Her black hair flowed down her back almost to her knees. Dark eyes smiled at us in a welcome greeting, as did her fangs. She is almost as ancient as Tellias and Eleora, and like them Ximena looks like a young college girl.

We came into the main room. Walls lined with books and crystals flanked part of the room with windows on the other side looking towards the mountains. We could smell the dried chiles rastas hanging in the kitchen. A red shouldered hawk perched on a wooden chair. It called out when it saw us.

“Maria, you still sing so sweetly,” I said to the bird. She gave me a cold stair then allowed me to pet her feathered head.

Maria the hawk had been around since I was a young woman, more than a hundred years. I wondered at times how she could live so long, then I stopped wondering and chalked it up to magic, love or pure mystery. It is what it is. That is how things work here in the land of magic.

A youngish man with dark hair and eyes like Ximena, but pale skin, came into the room. He was introduced to us as Kyle. But he wasn’t like us. I could feel his warmth as soon as he walked into the room.

Kyle was a man of many talents. He was a photographer, a teacher, a writer, an engineer and apparently a lover. After talking over wine and a light diner we also discovered Ximena’s young friend was also extremely opened minded.

He was also a young widow. One night left him alone with his dreams dead, but he kept going and kept at least a portion of the dreams and spark alive.

While Raul, Amelia and Ximena went to a back room to examine some old maps or something, Kyle and I went out to the porch. Bats flew about as the sounds of the bells filled the air.

Kyle asks me about my husband Teddy. I smiled shyly and told him how we’d met as kids and fallen in love a hundred years later. I think I’d always been in love with my husband on some level.

Then Kyle spoke of his lost love. “After Kayla, my wife, passed away everyone kept asking me if I’d go back. Over and over they’d ask the old what if question. You know, you can’t go back. I can’t bring her back. I will never forget her. She is part of me, but I live in the world of the living.”

“No ghost?” I had to ask (always thinking of obnoxious Nigel)

“Only a Vampire in the Southwest would ask that,” Kyle answered with a knowing smile.

“A Vampire anywhere would ask that. Don’t get me started on the ghosts I see all the time.”

“No ghost. Kayla moved on the night she died. That is a good thing.”

“Yes it is. You’re a wise man with a loving heart. In some circles that is a rare thing.”

He leaned against the rail. “I don’t know you except by reputation but I want to ask you a few thing, or at least see how you feel about a few things.”

“Okay,” I said.

“I’m in love with Ximena. I know what she is. I know how old she is. It doesn’t matter.”

I shrugged and laughed. “My 500 or so year old Grandmama is in love with a 35 year old. What are you, about 38?”

He smiled. I was correct. He was 38 and absolutely a delight – young, yet years ahead of most men his age.

“Dear Kyle, you also want me to tell you if I think it would be wise if you became a Vampire? Right?”

He smiled an uncomfortable hot blooded smile.

I said to him, “Kyle, you are in love with the cold wind under the moon and the sprint of night. She is an amazing being. I’ve always admired her. If you feel you can make a life out here with her then do it. But don’t lose yourself in her. Always be who you are, even after you become a Vampire. That is the only way it will work. If you try to be too much like her she will leave you, because she fell in love with you, not with herself.”

Raul and Ximena came out to join us with wine for Ryan and spiced blood for the rest of us.

Ximena whistled and Maria the red shouldered hawk came and landed on a table next to her hand. Ximena gave the bird a piece of meat she took from a bag in her pocket.

Into the night we talked until the sun came up and created unbelievably beautiful light and shadows on the mountains.

I could hear the wind whispering to the lovers:

The light

in dark eyes

promises kept

forever and

again

in our hearts

we love

we laugh

and we learn

to do it 

all

over 

again.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Love of a parent never wavers or dies – a story of a father and son

Vampire Maman

A story about a father and son as told to my children and me by my husband.

My Father

“I know your mother was surprised when she arrived in Heaven and found only two of her three deceased children waiting for her.” My father gave me a wink and his familiar smile.

“I’m sure someone filled her in on what happened to me,” I answered.

The old man just smiled. I saw my dad one last time in 1913. He was 89 years old and fragile. He’d been born in 1824, come to California in 1849 with a wife and two small children in tow. I’d been born on the way out in Panama. After they arrived in Sacramento six more children were added to the family.

They’d come out with your parents, your grandparents, who were their closest friends. The men were business partners. Both of the wives were…

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Short Story Sunday: The Changeling (my favorite Mother’s Day story)

The Changeling

I’ll always remember what my preschool teacher said at lunch and snack times. “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” My parents lived by that. I’m surprised they didn’t both tattoo it on their foreheads.

Sometimes parents will notice their lovely happy babies will suddenly seem to change. Well they have changed. Your baby has been replaced by a crying, unhappy, grouchy, nasty, Goblin Changeling. Congratulations.

Sometimes the horrible Changelings are left to die on the doorsteps of churches, or locked in attics. Usually the real babies are brought back. Fairies and others help out. More often or not ransoms are paid. A mother might pay with her beauty. A father might pay with his strength. It could be anything depending on the mood of the Goblins.

In my case the Goblins dropped me into the home of someone who seemed oblivious to my nastiness.

I spend my entire childhood treating my parents like crap and tormenting my little brother Trevor. My brother hated me but he should have loved me. Without me Trevor would have been one of those sensitive pantywaist boys who lets people walk all over him. I made him tough. I made him stand up for himself. He should have thanked me for it.

I have no idea why my parents put up with me. The only reason I wasn’t expelled from every school I attended is because I always made straight A’s. Sure I caused a lot of tears but I kept the schoolyard in line. My minions kept close while I doled out punishments fitting crimes of weakness. As for lies… I was the number one princess of lies, and adults never knew what was going on. They alwaysbelieved me.

Sure there were more times I could count that I had my mom in tears, but hey, that is what you get for accepting a Goblin Changeling. She could have dumped me in foster care or sent me off to some farm of a distant relative. People suggested boarding schools, drugs and shock treatments. She just told them that they could never understand that I was different and unique in ways that nobody could ever understand.

At one time my parents sent me to counseling. I told Dr. Cray everything she wanted to hear. The good doctor said I was a well-adjusted and brilliant child. She said I was mature for my age hence others not understanding me. Boy did I have it pulled over her eyes.

Anyway, Trevor and I grew up and went out on our own. I met a few other Changelings and even married one.

We’re one of those successful power couples. He’s the CEO of a billion dollar software company. I’m an attorney and the biggest asshole out there, and proud of it. Beauty and brains and no morals what so ever. Justice for all.

As soon as I found out my future husband Blake was an over the top arrogant, self-centered SOB I fell in love with him. He loved me back as only a Goblin Changeling can love another Goblin Changeling.

I remember a day when a woman approached me. This should have been one of those turning points where I changed my heart and became a good person. I recognized her because I’d gone to school with her.

She said, “You were a bully. A mean horrible bully. You ruined lives.”

I just glared at her and said, “You should have learned from your bad experience. Instead you made the choice to be a loser.”

I’m like that. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. I don’t care if they said I mean to my parents and twice as horrible to my brother. Tell me something I don’t know.

So on Mother’s Day I showed up at my parents with my husband. The hubby joined my dad in the back at the grill. Trevor and his wife Emily were in the kitchen with my mom. I put the vase of yellow roses I’d brought for my mom down on breakfast nook table and gave my mother a rare kiss.

Trevor glared at me. Emily looked uncomfortable.

“I have good news Katie,” said my mom. “Trevor and Emily are going to have a baby.”

“How about that Trevor, you aren’t dickless after all. Well congratulations.”

“Why did you have to say that Katie. Why are you so horrible all the time,” said the lovely Emily.

“I’m just like that Em. Well, I also have news. I’m pregnant too,” I said.

Trevor got right into my face. “You always have to try to upstage me Katie. I don’t care if you are having a baby. Your child will NEVER be allowed to be with mine. NEVER.”

“You know baby brother, if it wasn’t for me you’d never be with Emily. Why do you think all of those other bitch girlfriends of yours dumped you before you ended up with her? I was looking out for you asshole. I was also the reason you have your dream job. So screw you Trevor. I hope your kid is ugly and stupid.”

My mom should have looked shocked but she was used to me telling off Trevor. I was pissed and went into the living room. Mom followed.

She put her hand on my arm, then took it off as I tensed up. “Are you happy about your baby Katie?”

“Sure. It will be fun.” Then I looked into her blue eyes and suddenly I wanted to cry. I mean, like, my eyes started to sting and water up. “You’re amazing mom. Why did you put up with me all these years?”

“Because I knew nobody else would take you. My own baby had passed on. My little angel had never been right. The Goblins had scheduled a drop off not knowing there was no baby for them to take home. They just left you. Even Goblins don’t want their Changelings. What was your dad and I to do?”

“But mom, you knew?”

“Always.”

“So why’d you keep me?”

“Remember that horrible cat Billy we used to have.”

I remembered Billy. He was worse than I was. He’d hiss at everyone. He’d growl when you’d feed him. No act of kindness was rewarded. Billy was nuts. Damn, he was the Devil’s own cat.

My mom continued. “We kept Billy because if we’d given him up he would have died. Nobody else would have understood. He would have been put down. It was the same with you.”

“I loved that cat,” I told my mom.

“I know you did Katie,” said my mom.

She put her arm around me. “Let’s go back to the others Katie. And do me a favor. Try to be nice to Trevor. Just for today.”

“Sure. I love you mom.”

“Love you too Katie. More than you’ll ever know.”

“When I’m a mom I want to be just like you.”

We joined the rest of the family around the grill, all smiles and making nice. All the while I was thinking of ways to torture my brother and get even on the rest of the universe.

Life is good. Well, at least it is for me.

 

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Bloom

Even Vampires get the blues, but nothing so bad that some flowers won’t fix it. I dare say I don’t live in a black house with dead plants in the yard. OK I’ll admit that everything in the yard used to be dead but not anymore. I’ve spent the past three years digging in the river rocks rolled in a light dusting of dirt and managed to make something of it. The key has been to plant so that something is always blooming.

These are my flowers. The gray one is Oscar the cat.

 

 

But one can never have too many flowers in their world.

A few weekends ago I took the old ones Eleora and Tellias out to see the world. I had to get them out of their old musty house and into a bright spot. We went to the Sacramento Orchid Show.

Eleora wore satin red shoes. These were old shoes that she’d used years ago for ballroom dancing. She’d tied silk orchid flowers to the straps. She matched it with a red skirt decorated with appliqué poinsettia and snowflakes. With that she wore a yellow lace blouse. I asked her about her choice of a Christmas skirt.

Eleora looked at me with almost an eye roll and said, “Flowers. We are going to a flower show. This is a flower skirt.”

I didn’t argue. Tellias wore his usual yellow flip-flops, black dress pants, and a white tuxedo shirt with rolled up sleeves. He’d trimmed his pale blonde hair from just below his shoulders to collar length. It had kind of a wave in it now that I hadn’t seen since the 1960’s.

Lola, my great great great great great grandmama also came along. She is quite a bit younger than Eleora and Tellias, but still ancient in her own right. She wasn’t wearing anything unusual, just jeans and a pretty shirt like just about everyone else at the orchid show.

But all in all we looked like a group of nice young people. Tellias and Eleora appear to be in their late teens or maybe twenty or twenty-one. Lola looks forever twenty-five, and I look just slightly older, even thought I’m the youngest of the group at a mere 158.

I watched as Eleora and Tellias went off by themselves, huddled over each orchid plant in awe of the beauty of the unusual blooms. They talked over each other, hummed, sang a few songs, held hands, and occasionally gave each other a quick kiss. I kept a sideways eye on them just to make sure they wouldn’t do anything too odd. They were indeed a beautiful and strange pair who positively glowed over the sight of the orchids. If anyone did look at the couple they’d usually smile. How could they help but smile at those two.

Lola and I walked behind them admiring the plants and catching up with each other. She mentioned her ex-husband, her first, was alive. She thought he was dead. Of course she hadn’t seen him in about five hundred years, give or take a few. She had no intention on seeing him ever again. I asked if he had an Internet presence and she told me no. That isn’t unusual for Vampires. A lot of them go on the Dark Web for obvious reasons, or they’re like me and don’t give a crap what people think. Nobody believes any of this shit anyway, but there is an element of truth in it all – more than an element. But back to Lola…

“You need to let go of him,” I told her.

She took my arm in hers and led me to a giant yellow orchid. “That is so beautiful. I need get one of those. I’ve been trying to keep up the greenhouse. It keeps Eleora and Tellias active. They can putter around and sing little ditties to the flowers to make them bloom.” She led me over to a grouping of pink orchids. “These too. Eleora loves pink. We’re growing herbs too. Back when I was married to him we grew oranges and lemons in a greenhouse. It was too cold to grow them outside.”

“Why’d you leave him?”

“Not why you’d think. He wasn’t cheating on me or cruel to me. He was just such an asshole. So full of himself. And he was violent even for a Vampire. I didn’t like his friends either. The passion was there but… always the passion, but I got tired of fighting and making up all the time. I got so tired of all of the drama. When I met Thomas, my next husband it was like a glowing ray of moonlight. He was so kind and gentle, and he was funny. He made me laugh. And there was also great passion like every Vampire woman dreams of. Then… I just don’t understand. Thomas was burned alive as a witch, and that asshole still lives on.”

She has told me this story over and over and over, for my entire existence. We all have friends and family members like that. And as they get older they tell the stories more often. I try to keep Lola, Eleora, and Tellias involved so that they have new stories to tell.

Than again Lola’s current boyfriend is thirty nine years old. You wouldn’t think it would work but it does. I wouldn’t want my son or daughter to get involved with a much older Vampire, but Lola and Cody went in without one taking advantage of the other. Plus Lola has always been diligent about keeping up with the modern world.

As a parent I’ve always kept up with current culture. There is nothing worse for a young adult to have a mom or dad who is still living in 1984.  Parents owe it to their kids to keep up with everything from music to fashion to movies and everything else that is going on. If your kid is politically involved you need to be too. Share your music – new and old. You’ll be surprised how many things you both like. Keep an open mind. It will keep you young.

Despite their age (well over 2,000 years) I’ve always believed keeping an open mind is one of the things that has kept Eleora and Tellias young. Nobody wants to be a musty dank old Shadow Creeper and sit around in rotting Victorian clothing drinking thick days old blood in chipped old china cups. That isn’t just good advice for Vampires. It is good advice for everyone.

Tellias and Eleora bought twelve new orchids for their greenhouse. Lola texted Cody and told him to meet us later for wine on the back deck. I called my husband Teddy to do the same.

No matter who you are, or what you are, make it a goal to keep growing and blooming. And have fun, no matter what your age.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Quotes about Life, Love, Art and Vampires

Quotes about Life, Love, Art and Vampires from Vampire Maman (things I’ve said)

Our old friends

 

The only thing a man should wax is his car.

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I was so angry I could have killed him… then I remembered he was a Vampire.

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The closest I get to a true religious experience is when I’m in the presence of art

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I can explain the wonder and awe and feeling of being so complete and one with the universe when I’m in the presence of art. It is time travel for the soul. It is the essence of being. It was something that transports.  It is like a high that no drug can match. It is magic.

vswirl2

There is something romantic about most art as well, or at least the art I’m attracted to, be if figural, landscape, modern or ancient.

board

When I pass him he always puts a hand on my waist or back. He takes my hand when we walk or sit anywhere. We don’t even have to talk, but we do talk. We talk a lot – all the time. We never run out of things to talk about. We’ve been together for a long time and have our banter down to an art. It delights most and some find it extremely annoying, but it is what we do. And a lot of that conversation/banter is about art.

wings

Val always says “love isn’t a physical thing. It is a meeting of souls. Be it friendship or romantic lovers, it is something we can write about and dream about, but we can never truly explain or define it.”

v_swirl

Just shut up and give it a rest.

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“What are you?” I asked him that question surprising myself that I didn’t ask whobut what.

He laughed and I caught something different in his smile. His teeth. He looked like he had fangs. “I am a genetic wonder and mystery. I am the Velociraptor of the human subspecies.” Then he looked serious. “Shawna, don’t be afraid of what I tell you for I would never harm you. I am a Vampire.”

“Like in the movies?” I stupidly asked.

“No, like the guy standing next to you. Like the guy who came down to the ends of the earth to heal a broken heart and soul, to give up, to write songs and wallow in my misery only to find you.”

traditional vampire

I will be with you even when we fall apart and our body parts trail behind us…and there is nothing left except our love. ~ From a Zombie Love Letter

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You’re the warm summer breeze against my skin. You’re a warm embrace on a cold winter night. You’re the hot in my chocolate. You’re the key to my lock. You’re the one who knows the punch line.

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Eleora quietly got out a few plates. “I was 300 years old before I tasted cheese.”

flurish

As a Vampire you are a born liar (like a cat.) That isn’t a good thing or a bad thing. It is just a thing. Just like being a writer – you tell a certain truth, even if it might be the truth, say in an alternate universe. You’re only a liar if you tag your work “non-fiction” or if you’re an asshole, but that is another story. Ask Oprah about it.

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Everybody loves to hate on people who write about Vampires.

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Most Vampire Hunters will be heard in hushed whispers or desperate cries “Don’t look into their eyes or they’ll have you.”

Most Vampire Hunters are idiots but it is true about the eyes. The mirror to the soul and the entrance to all of your wildest dreams and most dreaded nightmares.

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But I stayed. I held him close, because sometimes just something warm is nice. He turned me around to face a mirror. His image was clear. My own Vampire image was a shadow or like a ghost. It was like the image in a daguerreotype that vanishes when turned or shown in the sunlight.

“Look at my eyes, in the mirror and I’ll become clear.”

We stood there looking at each other in the glass, so different, yet connected in our weird way. My image became as crisp as his, as so did my nerves.

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People won’t admit they read poetry and are moved by it…but late at night they go on the internet and search it out. It is like pornography. I’m dead serious (no pun intended). It is a need that most people will not dare admit to.

moth

“I’m a realist. You aren’t a Vampire. You have no idea what we can do to people.”

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In big and little ways the ability to change directions and go from one extreme to another without missing a beat is what life is all about. Old and young and all of us in the middle – it is what we do. It is who we are.

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You never know who will be there to help. You never know but sometimes it might seem like a miracle or something you won’t be able to describe. But there are those who will help – more than you think.

gothic design

I don’t really believe in fate, not much. None the less, when good things happen or bad things are avoided treasure that. Most of all you should treasure those precious folks that make up your life.

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So what happens when she breaks up with you and you get all butt hurt and can’t stand to see her face but you know you’re going to keep running into her for the next 200 years?

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Lucy,
I’m tired of being pursued by sluts like you who cheat on their boyfriends. You took me to your bed when you knew another man was in love with you. Shame on you. Tell the same to that little trollop Mina.  And tell Jonathan that Mina isn’t as innocent as she acts.
Drop dead,
Dracula

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Three Vampires and the ghost driving into the night on our way to kill Rogue Vampires singing along with the soundtrack of Across the Universe.

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“Souls are cheap and keeping them is expensive,” he hissed in my ear with nasty wake-the-dead breath.

We all need our dogs.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman