Short Story Sunday: Fall Garden

I’m at Sacramento 2018 WordCamp this weekend. In fact I’m speaking today. But fall is in the air so is post-summer, pre-winter gardening. The following was first posted here a year ago. Hope this gets you into the festive falling leaves, pumpkin spice, and falling acorns kind of mood. I’ll see you next Sunday with Tangled Tales Short Story.

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Fall Garden

So I’m digging away, trying to put in some sort of flower beds in my rocky garden. It is foggy. It is cold. And I am not amused. That is what happens when you live in a house built on gold mine tailings. Rocks. Nothing but river rocks coated in a tiny bit of dirt and a shit load of weed seeds.

I’ve got the pick ax out, and I’m jamming the shovel in a hole, with the cold nose of a ninety pound German Shepard in my face, when I FINALLY get the last rock loose before I can plant a small dwarf lime tree. The dog goes nuts. I push her away and pull out the rock.

It isn’t a rock.

It is a skull.

A human skull.

Shit.

My son comes out with a fresh cup of coffee for me (did I mention it was cold.) He looked at the skull and then calls up to the house.

“Hey Dad, she found another one.” Then he turns to me. “This one is small. Man, woman, or child?”

I toss the skull in my garden gloved hands. “It might be a woman but you never know.”

“Want me to put it with the others?”

“Sure,” I said, handing the skull to my sweet teenager.

I could hear him in the side yard opening the 50 gallon Rubbermaid storage container, and dropping in the skull.

He came back to me after about a minute. “Hey Mom, the container is almost full.”

I took a deep breath. “That’s a lot of skulls.”

He gave me an uncomfortable look. “It sure is. Who do you think they are?”

I put my arm around his waist and gave him a hug. “I have no idea. But thanks for the coffee sweetie. Let’s go in. I think I’m done out here today.”

 

~ End

 

Burning Question #28: Apple Pie

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Pie!

There are all sorts of pies. Everybody has a favorite.

This is the time of year when the new crops of apples are being harvested. So APPLE PIE is the subject of today’s feel good, non-offensive BURNING QUESTION.

There are some who say, “Actually, apple pie isn’t American.” Shut your pie hole. Nothing is more American than Apple Pie. That is like saying “BBQ isn’t American because the current breeds of cattle used for commercial use originally came from Scotland.”

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Yes, we all went to school with that kid. Our kids had to deal with them. We’ve worked with that guy. Dude, chill. It is just a saying. Now go get yourself a piece of apple pie with ice cream on it and feel good about yourself and the people around you (yes, this IS a parenting blog too.)

Apple pie is universal. Where there are apples there is pie.

Apple Pie.

Everybody loves pie. Even I, who has to say no to most pie (because I’m a Vampire) love pie, or at least the idea of pie.

I once made an apple pie with no recipe. It actually turned out really great. Woo Hoo. The key is to not make the apples too sweet. When in doubt go light on the sugar. The second key is to keep the shortening or butter in the crust COLD COLD COLD and don’t over mix it. That way it will turn out nice and flakey. And one more thing – ALWAYS use good crisp tart apples. Granny Smiths are good. Stay away from Fuji apples for pie. They’re great for eating but not so much for pie. However if you throw in a couple of Golden Delicious (not the red) it adds a nice naturally sweet flavor.

Juliette Trivia: I like to bake more than I like to eat what I bake. I’m not even tempted to eat it. I like giving it away.

Apple Trivia: Apples were first cultivated in Centeral Asia, but they have been cultivated in Asia and Europe for thousands of years. The European settlers brought apples to America (and Canada and Mexico.)  Wherever people go they bring their apples with them.

My children did not learn about Johnny Appleseed in school. When I told them about him they thought it was a weird story.

This week’s burning question will leave with all kind of warm and fuzzy fall fun. How do you like your apple pie?

 

 

Should Apple Pie be eaten plain, with cheddar cheese or with vanilla ice cream?

 

 

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Honey, don’t you need a pot holder? You can tell she is some sort of paranormal person, because otherwise her hand would be burning.

If you have more thoughts on pie let me know. Leave something nice (like pie) in the comment section. If apple isn’t your favorite tell me what is? Or do you prefer savory pie. Or are you feeling like math today and pi? Please share.

Check back next week for another BURNING QUESTION. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Trained

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I won’t come when you call me but I still love you so much.

I came downstairs in the wee hours of this morning to find my brother Max making coffee. Being the eldest of my four brothers, and my husband’s best friend since childhood Max frequently crashes at my house when he’s in town.

“Watching Queer Eye?” I asked. Max usually wears all black being the brooding alpha male Vampire he is. Today he was wearing tan shorts with a button down multi-colored flowered shirt, a gray sweatshirt and red Vans without socks.

“Very funny Jewels. Yes, but no tha.” he said. “Coffee?”

Max poured two mugs full before I could answer. My German Shepard Alice nudged him with her squeaky dinosaur toy.

“Is she crate trained?” Max asked me.

“She isn’t anything trained,” I said. My dog has gone to dog class. She knows what all of the commands mean and then some. But she does what she wants. All I ask is that she doesn’t pee in the house.  “She goes to her bed when I tell her to,” I said.

Max is getting married sometime next year. I wonder how trainable he’ll be. I know crate training won’t be an option.

“Do you go to bed when you’re told to?” I asked.

He smiled. “Rarely. I’m housebroken too, if you’re asking.”

I looked at the long dark red scar on his arm. “Does it still bother you?”

“No. Not often. I’m not letting the demons get the best of me.”

I thought both mentally and physically but I didn’t voice it.

“Where are you and Mehitabel going to live after you get married? Your house is practically haunted.”

“Funny coming from my sister who has a ghosts in her house.”

“My ghosts are harmless.”

He shrugged.

I glanced out the window and could see Nigel The Ghost flipping me off from my back deck.

“Max, what if you have kids? You can’t have a baby in a house with demons?”

“I’ll get to that when the time comes.”

I can see why he doesn’t want to move to his home with a grand view of the Golden Gate. He has been there since the 1930’s. But no matter how much you like where you live you don’t need to share demons with your children.

We talked some more about marriage and my kids, and our niece and nephew (our bother Aaron’s grown children.) More coffee too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Below is the original post about Max’s demons. As a side thought: Don’t let your demons get the best of you. You don’t need to be carrying that poison around inside of you.

Demons

I’ve had several posts mentioning Demons, especially concerning my brother Max. A few years ago I visited him at his house in San Francisco. Our parents and brother Andy, also live in the City by the Bay. I’m the one everyone calls when things get weird. Max is single and lives alone, and I’m also married to Teddy, his best friend since childhood.

Anyway, this is why we don’t like Demons around, at least one of the reasons.

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My eldest brother Max, for those of you who don’t know, is one of those alpha Vampires who hunts Vampire Hunters, Rogue Vampires and all sorts of nasty evil and just plain annoying creatures and things that go bump in the night. He is a hunter and sometimes a killer – that said, he and his associates protect us all from things we shouldn’t need to deal with.

Max looked like Hell warmed over. He’d been out on a call and found himself up against a group of Demons. Yes, that kind of Demon – nasty and evil, no doubt straight from Hell and running rampant trying to cause problems anywhere it could.

Teddy still has the cold hard fear of Demons. That isn’t a bad thing. We don’t like them. They’re creatures that don’t derive from humanity but like goblins, have no problems pretending they derive from humans.

A long nasty deep pair of scratches ran across Max’s arm. There was no sign of healing on the ugly red marks. He’d been cornered and put up a fight before his back-up team arrived. The Demons were taken care of but not first without doing damage to Max and who knows who or what else.

Late into the night we talked over several bottles of wine and blood. Our brother Andy came by as well for a few hours to visit. Max was restless the entire night. Just before dawn we all retired to spend a rare day sleeping (Teddy and I live during the daylight due to school hours.)

I was awake before dusk. It was a beautiful clear day. From the back window I could see a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay going out into the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. No wonder Max loved living here so much.

In the kitchen making tea I discovered Max’s old friend Celeste. She was beautiful beyond compare, wearing nothing but a pair of black lace panties and a magnificent seal skin coat. That wasn’t unusual because Celeste is a Selkie. On the land she is a women and in the ocean a seal. I was and wasn’t surprised to find her there. Max says he won’t mingle with those who aren’t like him, but I know who his friends are. I have no problems with Celeste or her kind.

Celeste rolled her shoulders and told me about my brother. “He called me last night. Said he needed some distraction. You know how Max is. His brain just gets full or he gets bothered and doesn’t know what to do about it. You know, Juliette we’re just friends with benefits. I just fuck him and talk. Nothing else. You think I’d be crazy enough to fall in love with a Vampire? Not on your life. Just friends. Always just friends.

Celeste then put a wedge of lemon in her tea and continued, “There is someone else, a Vampire girl he has a strange sort of bond with, but he doesn’t want any emotional entanglements with her. He was afraid she’d be too much for him, for his heart. I’ve never seen a guy try to logic and think his way out of falling in love like Max has this time.”

I saw a long burn along Celeste’s arm. “Oh that. I brushed against Max’s arm where the demon scratched him. Damned if it didn’t burn me too. The salt water will heal it. But you need to check in on him. He’s in pretty bad shape. The Demons really got to him this time and not just physically. They really fucked with him big time,” she told me in her whiskey and silk voice.

I took her arm and looked at the burn. It was hot to the touch. I spit on my finger and rubbed it along the burn.

“It stopped hurting. Thanks,” she said with a smile full of sharp white teeth. It was a smile that she won’t show a Regular Human. I have to admit I was flattered.

After a bit more small talk she left and no doubt went back into the Pacific Ocean and turned back into a seal.

I went upstairs to Max’s room. He was asleep, curled in soft gray blankets wearing a black silk robe. I took his arm and looked at the deep scratches that had turned an angry blackish red.

He opened his eyes. The usual blue gray hazel had turned dark, almost a dull black. I could tell he wasn’t well.

“I saw Celeste. She is worried about you.”

He gave me a “join the club” look. He didn’t need to say it out loud.

Taking his arm, I put my hand over the poisoned gashes and saw the ugly face of the Demon who clawed him.

“Don’t little sister. You’ll get sick,” Max said.

Ignoring him pricked my finger with the tip of my fang and let a drop of blood fall on his wounds. I put my hand back on his arm and willed the poison away.

Yes, I did end up making it to the bathroom before I threw up and almost fell over from my head spinning, but I was fine after a few minutes (ok hours). The poison wasn’t meant for me so I was fine – bothered but fine. It could have stayed with Max for weeks or even months. It could have set him back into a spiral of depression and hopelessness that if not taken care of could have done permanent damage. Demons are like that. They’re horrible evil things.

I kissed his cold cheek and left my brother to sleep.

When someone you love is poisoned by Demons you need to help them get through it – no matter what kind of Demons. They do a lot of damage, but it can be fixed. Demons hate any kind of love or understanding and will poison us against it. So we fight them. And those like Max fight them so they can’t hurt anyone else.

Like I’ve said, when you’re a Modern Vampire every single day has the potential of being weird, but we do what we can do avoid it.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let them fly

In the past I frequently blogged about teaching your children to be independent because one day they’d be like little birds and fly.

I discovered that my children are not like little birds. They’re like hawks and eagles. They’re raptors.

They are fierce and strong with the majesty of those who soar the sky, taking ownership of all they see.

On the other hand they’re like otters. They always make me laugh.

They’re like dogs who are always loyal, brave, and always there with a kiss.

Like cats they can keep a secret. And like cats they don’t put up with bullshit.

So they fly like the great birds of the sky but they know they always have a place to come home to. No matter where I am it will always be home. My nest will always be warm and safe.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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The red shoulder hawk who lives behind my house.

About those Vampires… and other things

I blog about parenting.

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And Vampires.

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If you’re looking for the latest trend in massive mondo strollers, yoga pants, sparking pedophile Vampires, chins dripping in blood, dark evil Vampire Lords, tiger mom shit, you’ve come to the wrong blog.

So here we go… this is the story.

In 1849 several groups of Vampires headed West of California for a new beginning. They were part of the growing movement, later called the “Modern Vampire Movement, of individuals who no longer wanted to live in the dark, hidden away. They lived with regular people, as regular people, except they were Vampires. Aside from their hidden identities and some rather different biology and lifestyle issues they were indistinguishable from most people.

My family settled in the Sacramento area, where some of us till love. I was born here, part of a family of rare Vampire children. Yes, Vampires can had children together. They can’t have kids with non-Vampires.

Werewolves also moved West and lived in their communities as well. They could always be picked out of crowd by their flashy clothing and snarky personalities.

That is about it. No blood dripping Dark Vampire Lord. No sparkling pedophiles. Sure there are what we call Shadow Creepers. They’re the Vampires who act like creepy ghouls, in the shadows and lurk in the dark at night. There are also those who are truly dead due to the fact that they have no souls. They’re the dangerous ones. OK, fine, we’re all dangerous to some point, but seriously less so than our warmer blooded relatives.

This is the end of the explanation.

I write about my family and my world.

My message isn’t really about Vampires.

This is what it is about:

  • Talking to your kids.
  • Listening to your kids.
  • Relationships.
  • Cat Poetry.
  • Accepting differences.
  • Modern Life.
  • Fitting in.
  • Not fitting in.
  • Being different.
  • Being the same.
  • Talking to your kids.
  • Communication with your children.
  • Short fiction.
  • Musings.
  • Odds and ends.
  • Venting.
  • Cats.
  • Dogs.
  • Old people.
  • Life changes.
  • Empty nest.
  • Deliberate parenting.
  • Old or interesting cemeteries.
  • Funny stuff.
  • Burning Questions.
  • Musings.
  • Possums (and other woodland creatures)
  • Other things.
  • Being there for your kids. Always.

I believe that covers most of it. I’m still half asleep so if I left something out I’ll post it later. I need either more coffee or I need to go back to bed. I’m not sure which yet. I’ll know in about five minutes.

Thanks for dropping by.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Parenting in the Land of Monsters

As parents we all have those moments that we can’t get out of our minds. Now that my children are in college I’m cautiously walking down the memory lane of their childhood.

I was driving down the freeway this morning and saw some interesting things. The first was that Stormy Daniels is going to be performing at a local strip club. This is one of those large “Gentlemen’s Clubs” that is in an industrial area far away from homes or schools. I hear the place is popular with a certain groups in the local high tech companies but that is another blog post. That has nothing to do with this post except I thought it was interesting. Read on.

I also passed the sign to the Curragh Downs subdivision in Fair Oaks, California. This is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in my neck of the woods. The houses are large and often with a view. The community is exclusive and gated. But I pass no judgement. A lot of nice people live there.

Yes, this has to do with parenting and children.

In November 2016 ago my daughter and I volunteered to be Election Clerks for Sacramento County. The polling place was at the Curragh Downs club house. Everything went well with the polling, as it always does. Other than the crazy old guy with dementia who always yells at the poll workers, it was a positive day.

But at the end of the night, later at night after the polls had closed, when we were counting ballots, and putting away equipment, the woman who was responsible for the club house came by to lock up. As we, the six poll workers finished our work this woman started to spew her opinions.

She gladly spewed out racial slurs and political opinions. Most of the comments were racial. All of us poll workers were clearly uncomfortable but as poll workers we could not express our opinions. For about twenty minutes this woman reveled in her personal stand-up act of self congratulatory bigotry. She was white. Then she said what she was saying was ok because her husband was Asian. WTF?

I don’t have to words to describe how upset I was. This was one time I was with my child and I could not be my best Vampire Mom. At the car I was livid. My lovely child told me that the woman was wrong and a bad person but that I should have been so upset. But I was upset. I was extremely upset.

That woman was a monster in the body of a smug middle aged woman. I don’t care that our political opinions did not match. It was the fact that she gleefully was able to share her open hate and blind ignorance.

No parent wants a positive experience about how our society works to be tarnished by some flaming asshole jerk-off entitled nasty ignorant hateful bitch. That is why I’m calling her out here and now. I don’t know her name, but I can still tell my story.

There are other childhood stories in my folder today. There was time when another mom called me to say she thought my 8th grader was cutting herself (cat scratches.) There were a few girls I thought were Satan’s spawn. Yes, there are children who act that badly (and so do their parents.) There were other things so bizarre that I wasn’t sure what to think. I’ve posted a lot of those here. Do a search – you’ll find them.

My children have returned to college. One is far away. One is still at home. They are excited about life. They are excited about being part of the big wide world.

Their father and I have taught them that there is no room for hate, racism, or other bigotry in our world. They have learned to accept those who are different. They’ve also learned, in a lot of cases, to celebrate and appreciate those differences.

Like I’ve always told them, “The world would be a boring place if we were all the same.”

You can’t protect your children from everything, but you can talk to them about it. You can support them. You can teach them to stand up for their opinions and rights. You can teach them to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

I just wanted to call out that bitch.

That’s all.

Hug your kids. Talk with them. Love them. And if they’re 18 or older make sure they vote.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman