Musings on Pets, Art, Vampires, and Trying to Make Sense of Anything At All.

It started out as one of those days where the dog ate all of the cat food, the squirrels at all of the bird food, the cat tried to eat a bird that flew into my house, I’m trying to take photographs and the fall lighting is all off, then the cat barfed on the carpet. The other cat is asleep out on the deck. He never causes me problems aside from his yearly “I am an idiot and got myself gravely injured again,” vet visit. Today, I am also feeling a great sense of loss that has come over me in a wave.

A sense of loss and melancholy isn’t uncommon for Vampires. I just had to throw that out there.

I put on some sunscreen and decent clothes and went out in search of art supplies. I didn’t need any. I thought it might inspire me to try to put pen or pastel to paper. That is to put it to paper without fear of disappointing myself.

At the downtown art supply shop, the one that had been there for decades, I wandered the isles looking at brushes, textures, tools, and colors. I was drawn to all of the shades of gray, then got sort of perturbed that some asshole decided to write a bad porn book of that name that became oh so popular with bored middle aged women who didn’t date enough when they were single. Still I looked and imagined what I might create.

I felt a cold hand upon my arm, then looked to my left. “Connie,” I said upon seeing my old friend. Constantine Jones, the very one I wrote the story Night Dogs about. He’d told me about that night a few years back. I valued his friendship because he matched my love of art, both in creating it, and in studying it.

“Juliette. Pastels today?”

“Maybe,” I said.

We talked of art and our lives. He asked about my children. I asked him what he was up to. I purchased pastels and paper. He picked up a few brushes and oil paint. Then we walked down the tree lined street to a small independent coffee shop.

As we sat in the shade sipping our coffee nobody would have suspected that we were Vampires who’d know each other for over a century.

No, dear reader, this isn’t a story of fangs, dripping blood, or darkness. All creatures, even the most ardent predators, the lions, the hyenas, the wolves, and the wolverines, still need their times of peace. We are always aware, but sometimes we just need to take a break from what keeps our bodies alive and think about what keeps our passions alive.

Even more so it is the small things that matter. It is things we do for tangible reason like having coffee with an old friend. We talked about art, as kindred spirits do.

Connie touched took my hand in his. It was warm from holding the coffee. I thought how odd that was to have a warm touch from another Vampire.

“Your heart is heavy,” he said to me.

“I don’t know what it is right now,” I told him. “I’m fine.”

“You’re not.”

“It shall pass. I just have too much BS that I have to deal with.” That is true, but isn’t that the case for a lot of us.

Standing across the street I saw a lone figure with dark hair and a black suit with the tie loosened. Connie looked as well.

“A ghost,” he whispered. “Why is he looking over here?”

“I know him. He lives at my house most of the time, but he’s buried near here.” I motioned for my ghost, Nigel, who was an artist in life, to come join us.

I pulled up a chair for a friend that nobody but Constantine Jones and I could see. I ordered coffee for Nigel. He sat in the chair holding the cup and letting the aroma pass through him. He can’t drink it but he can smell it, which is a small comfort for a ghost.

We talked more of art, and the weather, and small things that friends talk about.

After two hours Connie went his own way and Nigel came home with me. As we drove down the freeway Nigel changed the radio station about thirty times. I finally yelled at him to stop it.

And now I’m home. I don’t know where Nigel got off to.

From my window I cans humming birds in the lemon and orange trees. The calico cat sits snoring in a chair. I can hear the other cat scratching a piece of wood outside.

I feel better. Sometimes we just need to get away from ourselves for a while, or at least get into a different place where we can be the selves we need to be, and deserve to be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Savor

As I walked downstairs from my bedroom I wondered how many tons of cat vomit is flushed down toilets each year?

At 4:12 a.m. the dog had asked to go out. As I made it to the entryway I saw that the poor thing couldn’t wait. She had tummy troubles and made a huge mess. She is a large dog at 85 pounds, so believe me it was a huge mess. After taking a large bag full of the mess out to the garbage I sprayed the carpet and now I’m waiting to scrub it. Fortunately for me the carpet is being replaced with hardwood floors soon.

So what does this have to do with parenting, vampires, or having an empty nest?

My nest is not so empty. Since there are no children in the house the animals are all more aware of MOM. We are all adjusting. The cats are eating quicker and barfing because the dog is trying to eat their food. The dog is eating cat food and getting huge runny poops. I’m trying to give all of them extra attention.

In the meantime my adult children, young but still adults now, are keeping in touch this week though the magic of the smart phone.

I just received photos of costumes from Paramount Studios, and last night photos from Griffith Park Observatory (yes, the one in LA LA Land.)

Then photos came of Pike Place Market and a friend’s new beard. This is the first beard of the group. It is well groomed, blonde, and a new trendy hair cut. Looks good.

They’re on winter break from school and off with friends, one north, and one south.

When I was that age I also tumbled into adventures, and unfortunately more misadventures. If I had the resources, and the wherewithal kids had now… Yes, I think how different it might have been, but does that matter? I’ll let my alternate universe self deal with that. I’m just happy beyond words to see I’ve given my kids the tools they need. Yes, they have those phones, but there are so many more tools one must have.

They’re curious, and full of adventure. They smart. They’re cautious. They’re playful. They’re young and without fear of the unknown.

The other day Nigel the Ghost, who left his body, ok died, around the age of 26 or 27, told me to tell my kids to treasure their youth and make the most of it.

I was feeling snarky so I said, “we’re Vampires.”

Then he said, “then treasure it all the more.”

He is right. And so, no matter who we are, what we are, or how we live, we should treasure everyday, and every experience.

I thought about all of the adventures I’ve been on with my children. There will be many more to come, and I am glad they are having their own adventures as well now. They’re building their libraries of wonderful memories. Yes, I wish I was there, but like I said, we will have our adventures too.

A new lesson for our adult children should be to savor the moments. Plan fun. Continue to play. Take breaks. Watch for falling stars. And to continue to treasure those you love.

Tell them, as they grow older, they should keep an open mind as well. My mind is much more open now than it was when I was a clueless eighteen year old.

Just remember, and this is coming from an old Vampire, to savor all moments. Even if it is just petting a cat who leans against your leg, or the quiet of a cold winter night.

xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Dog Park

“Come with me my love on an adventure that will surpass all adventures,” he said to her with his rich masculine voice, and his dreamy brown eyes.

This was not the adventure she had expected.

She looked at her dog, a five year old, ninety-six pound German Shepard named Joe. “I suppose you want me to take you to the dog park.”

“Yes, come with me my love and I will chase balls, sniff butts, and act a fool, and you my love, my only, my queen can take me there.”

“Because you can’t drive.”

“I am but a dog. You are a woman of great power and the keeper of transportation.”

She heard a noise and turned her head. Joe turned his head at the same time.

Her husband stood in the doorway to the kitchen where she and Joe were talking.

He gasped as he looked at his wife and dog. “Joe can talk?”

“Yeah, and he can hold three tennis balls in his mouth at the same time. He’s a smart dog. Put your shoes on if you want to go with us.”

~ End

 

Tangled Tales

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Boys Will Be Boys

 

Adam had heard the stories about Luther.

When they were kids Luther would go out to the fields behind Grandma’s house and shoot anything that moved. It started with birds and rabbits. Then it moved on to cats. Luther had an almost gleeful vendetta to shoot any cat he was that wasn’t in somebody’s yard.

Luther’s parents (Adam’s aunt and uncle) just shrugged and said, “boys will be boys.” They figured that Luther wouldn’t grow up to be a sissy. When Adam told them he only shot animals with a camera they just laughed.

When Luther’s daughter was afraid of an excited terrier pup he told everyone he was going to shoot the dog. That would be after he kicked it, beat it, and refused to give it food for almost a week. Luther’s sister Belinda gave Luther an earful, called him an asshole, and took the dog. It was the second dog she’s rescued from Luther.

A few years later he starved a German Shepard. That dog was rescued by his cousin Janice.

He continued to shoot cats. His wife continued to post photos of their pets on social media. It was a different group of pets every other year. She talked of how sweet their fur babies were and how much she loved them. It sort of made Adam sick.

It reminded Adam of a strange creepy family that had rented the house next to his a few years back. The four children would look at him though cracks in the fence and say strange things.

One day the oldest, the only boy, whispered, “my sister is retarded, do you want to see her dance?” Then the child popped his head over the fence and yelled, “my sister is retarded, do you want to see her dance? My mom said you’re gay because you don’t have a family. Do you want to see our kittens?”

The parents knew the children loved kittens more than anything else. They let their cats have a littler of kittens, then they’d take the mother to the pound and keep the kittens. When the kittens started to look and act more like cats they would take them to the pound and keep one or two females to have more kittens. The sick cycle would continue.

One day Adam’s seven year old niece Aurora was visiting. The creepy children came to the fence and whispered mean things. Adam turned the hose on them. An hour later the mother of the children came over claiming that Aurora had said mean things about their special needs child. Adam called her a liar and an animal abuser and threatened to have them evicted. Luckily for Adam they were gone within a month for not paying their rent.

A nice couple with a beautiful well behaved, well loved dog moved in. They were the perfect neighbors. It turned out that they were con-artists. They’d call the County offices and file complaints against their landlord and then refuse to pay rent. It had been a pattern with them. With a little effort and a few code violations they never had to pay for lodging – never ever. Then they vanished and the landlords sold the house and Adam bought it and rented it out to friends.

Now twenty years later he was out of town for Aurora’s wedding, and the entire family was there. Aurora was hesitant about inviting Luther to the wedding, but his kids were sweet, and everybody liked his wife. Adam wondered what kind of woman would marry a man who abused animals.

At the reception Adam’s longtime girlfriend Brandy told him about Luther bragging about dumping a dog at the lake. He said everybody dumped dogs there. Then he’d laughed about it. The dog was worthless but at least he hadn’t shot it.

Adam had once asked Luther why he was so mean to animals. Luther said, “I hate cats. I don’t know why. They’re worthless. Dogs on the other hand need to know their place. If they scare my kids, or pee in the house I’m going to shoot their asses. They’re just dogs. It isn’t like they have souls.”

Luther’s girls liked puppies but only if they didn’t jump or nip like puppies tend to do.

Then Brandy looked up at the dusky sky and said, “Full moon tonight Adam.”

Adam kissed her, then went to get more wine.

“Look at the moon,” said Luther. Then he laughed. “Let’s go shoot some werewolves.”

The next morning, after the bride and groom had left for Hawaii, Luther’s wife said he was missing.

Luther was found in the woods behind Grandma’s old house. He’d been gutted by wild animals. The police said it looked like it might have been wild dogs, or maybe even a bear.

Adam and Brandy skipped the funeral and drove up the coast to his beach house. That night he lit a candle in memory of all of the cats and dogs who’d suffered abuse at the hand’s of humans.

He found Brandy in the bathroom gargling with salt water. “What’s the matter honey?” He asked her as he rubbed her back.

“I don’t know Adam. I just can’t get the bad taste out of my mouth.”

“I know the feeling well,” he said, then went to the kitchen and opened a bottle of wine. It was a nice full Zinfandel, guaranteed to mellow out the evening. He poured a glass for himself, and one for Brandy. Then he went outside and listened to the sound of the waves, and the light house horn, and tried to empty his mind, until the next full moon night.

~ End

 

 

 

 

Go Pee Pee

At 3:29 a.m. I took the dog out to go pee pee.

To make her go fast and get it all over with I have to say, “go pee pee” in a high shrill voice while trying not to wake my neighbors up.

It is as still and quiet as death out, but the dog and I both know we’re being watched by creatures of the night.

So I was outside in a robe and bare feet not really caring because A) I’m not cold, and B) Nobody can see me, and C) I don’t care if they see me.

Then I see a familiar figure standing in the middle of my street (which is really a private drive for seven houses.) He flips me off, which is his usual asshole move. I swear, nothing ruins a nice quiet evening faster than a Ghost.

The dog and I went inside to find Nigel (The Ghost) sitting on the couch in my living room.

“I have a question for your advice column Juliette. Do Vampires go pee pee,” he asked me.

“I’m not even going to answer that,” I told him.

He didn’t smile or laugh. That is almost as rare as seeing a ghost. To tell the truth seeing Ghosts isn’t rare for Vampires, but I usually don’t interact with them. They’re vile creatures for the most part.

“Don’t you have someone to haunt?” I asked.

“Only you,” he answered.

“I’m going to make coffee,” I told him. “Do you want some?”

“I can’t drink it. I’m a…”

“Ghost. I get it. You’re a bitter, obnoxious, annoying Ghost. I’ll give you a cup and you can smell it,” I said.

“Um, sure,” he said.

“Were you this annoying when you were alive?”

“Of course, only everyone thought I was charming,” he answered.

In the kitchen we sat over coffee and small talk, and the dogs and cats who also see what others cannot.

Wishing you all plenty of sleep, and coffee, and dogs who go pee pee outside rather than inside.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Unanswered Questions (about super heroes, animals, and fools falling in love)

Part 1

Batman vs Superman

When this movie first came out I thought it was about Batman and Superman fighting over the last pair of XL sized tights.

Alright, I told this joke to about twenty people and everyone, without a single exception, ignored me. I thought it was funny. I was ready to get a reaction and laugh until my side hurt.

But that brings me to a questions. Why do super heroes wear tights? If you’re a skater or a dancer you know that tights get snagged and tights get runs. What self-respecting GUY is going to fly through the air or wherever with runs in his tights?

Does Batman, and his super hero friends shave their legs? Ladies know that a big mat of leg hair under stockings and tights can show through, making for an unattractive mess.

When they wear tights do they wear footless tights and thick socks under their boots to prevent blisters? That would be the most practical because they could slip off their boots and socks and switch to flip flops on hot days. (And click here to find out why Vampires wear yellow flip flops.)

Why capes? They don’t help anyone fly. Even Vampires have given up on the whole opera cape thing. They’re not practical unless you’re going to have a picnic and forgot to bring a towel, or you’re stuck in the airport overnight and need a blanket.

Why the masks? Why don’t you want anyone to know who you are? Aren’t you proud of saving the world? Don’t you want people to be able to relate to you? Are you ugly without the mask? If you’re a super hero why are you afraid so someone knowing who you are? I mean, you’re stronger than just about anyone and have super powers so it isn’t like someone is going to hurt you anytime soon.

I’m sure there must be answers. Nobody, male or female, in my family is a big super hero fan, except, yes, we do see most of the Marvel movies. We adore the Avengers in the movies, because they’re just all so darned good looking. And who didn’t love Guardian’s of the Galaxy, but they didn’t wear tights. I can’t imagine Chris Pratt in tights. And he isn’t going to be playing a dancer anytime soon, I can almost guarantee that.

 

Part 2

Why do we keep animals in our homes?

My puppy eats tampons then barfs them up. My cats barf up everything else. My entire house smells like dog pee. Somebody keeps digging up my roses. My dining room chairs are covered in cat fur and cat barf. My cats fight and hate the dog. One of the cats claws up furniture. Don’t even suggest a spray bottle – that means you have to catch them in the act, and they’re sneaky little shits.

Sure they’re cute, they’re sweet, they give us unconditional love, they protect us (so I hear but I’ve yet to see that in my house), they’re funny, they make us laugh, but they’re a pain in the ass. Yes, they wrap their little paws around our hearts and don’t let go. Sigh.

 

Part 3

Why do fools fall in love?

When my son was in high school I’d find notes in the dryer, folded up, and now crisp. They were love letters and poems he’d penned on yellow legal pads, then folded many times and hidden in his jeans pockets, only to be found by me, his mom.

Sweet Madison
Your blonde hair blowing
In the wind
Behind your bike
I wish
You’d break up
With Mike
And Kyle, Brandon, Forest, James, Jake, Ian, Austin, Jason, Christopher, Justin

Or

I imagine when we’re grown. You a CEO in pearls and a suit. I the most powerful Vampire in North America. You in a meadow, on a beach, in the moonlight. The wind is in your hair. You ask for a hair clip. I don’t have one because I’m a dude.  You look at me and smile then tell me you got into Yale. Your dream. Our dreams entwined. You’re leaving. I’m staying on the West Coast. You broke my heart. Damn you.

I found hundreds of those little notes scrawled out on yellow paper in fine point Sharpie or purple ball point pen. He seemed to have a thing for girls with hair blowing in the wind.

He is my romantic. Garrett is always falling in love, or out of love, or falling for the idea of love. I’ve always thought he loves the idea of love more than love.

Now he is in college and the game has changed. I’m starting to find the notes again, now that he is home for summer break.

I love the way your cool skin feels on mine.

or

I love the way your warm hands feel on my cool skin.

I wish I didn’t see those. He is twenty now. But cool and warm? That means he is seeing both Regular Human and Vampire girls. Yes, that is to be expected. But I didn’t want to see that. I’m his mom.

Oh well.

At least I know that he talks to me about this stuff. Even at twenty he talks to me.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Evil Squirrel at Evil Squirrel’s Nest, and his inspiration on unanswered questions about Super Hereos from our friend at  Faith, Hope, and Chocolate.