Smoke River

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Saturday before last my husband Teddy and I took our boat out on the Sacramento River.

Nobody else was out there. Hardly anyone else. Despite it being a holiday weekend everyone stayed home due to the smoke.

We just didn’t think about it. It had been so long since just the two of us went on a boat ride for no reason that we just did it.

Several miles up river we stopped at a familiar pier. My brothers and I jumped off this pier, or at least the first pier that was ever here. About ten different piers have been here since, brought down by floods, winter frost, blazing summer heat, errant boats, and age.

Eleora and Tellias stood on the end of the boat dock and waved at us. Eleora, in a full flowers skirt, a yellow blouse and a worn orange sweater danced around with a purple scarf. like Isadore Duncan. Tellias stood smiling with one hand in the pocket of his black tuxedo pants, and waved with the other hand. He wore a lime green tee shirt with a pattern of black roses. They looked like a couple of teenagers or college students. But they’re neither. Nobody knows exactly how old these ancient Vampires are. Over 2,000 years – that we know. They don’t talk about it much.

The helped us tie up the boat and lent us hands. As always they gave us hugs, lots of kisses, and sang us a welcome song. Today is was a strange sort of a haunting gothic punk version of Moon River. I never question their choices. Today I even sang along as they danced around Teddy and me giving me light kisses and taking my hands. Teddy just smiled and unloaded a couple of bags out of the boat of things we’d brought the Ancient ones. We didn’t bring gifts because we had to. We brought them because sometimes those who are older than us forget things, or need things, or need help.

Then they took our hands and led us up the lawn to the path that went through the orchard and to the Queen Anne style Victorian they live in.

Our conversations went away from the smoke and to Thanksgiving plans.

My husband’s mother had a deep set belief that there was something morally wrong with a woman who could not cook. She equated not being able to cook with being a prostitute.

In fact she once said (according to my husband) “If you’re going to marry a woman who can’t cook you might as well marry a whore. At least she’d be good at something.”

Actually I doubt if she ever said that out loud but I know she thought it.

That said, in 1875 Teddy became a Vampire so marrying a woman who could cook became a moot point. I can cook, but then again I do a lot of things one does not expect from a Vampire. We all do. We have to blend in.

Up at the house my brother Val was waiting in the kitchen with a nice chilled bottle of Poet’s Blood, and a bottle of Angel’s Envy Bourbon to wash it down with. We sat on the back porch and talked about the fire, Thanksgiving plans, the rest of my siblings, and my children.

Thanksgiving will be a good day. A day of love. A day to truly be thankful, in a world that seems to be increasingly full of sorrow.

Some things can be fleeting, like the overly wrought emotions of family relations, especially this time of year. It makes one grow weary of the pointlessness of it all. The way people hold grudges and hate – and hold fast to traditions that only make one feel controlled and not loved.

So we gather with friends, those who wish to be with us for no other reason than that they enjoy our company – and we theirs. Family can be like that as well, if they allow it. If they dare.

In the Vampire world we tend not to keep grudges for they last far too long and do far too much damage. No need to fight when the sun comes up each and every single day and gives us a new opportunity to take a deep breath and let go. And in the night we see our light, the beautiful stars that will last on for a billion years after we’re all gone. And it humbles us and makes us realize what really matters is our love and our companionship and our memories – that is the good memories. The others, the bad memories, should be banished from our lives.

So tonight we shall toast our glasses filled full and laugh until our sides hurt. We’ll listen to the stories and funny jokes from the young ones and we will celebrate all that we are truly thankful for.

Including our Regular Human friends.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

I am thankful for all of my readers. xoxoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Musings on Childhood and Hell

A lot of my childhood memories are of me just trying to figure things out.

My mother and I watched a funeral procession when I was almost four. She pointed out the beautiful white horses that pulled the carriage.

I asked what the box in the carriage was. She said a casket. Then she said the man’s body was in it.

His body. I thought about that for a while. If he body was in the casket where was the rest of him. Where did they put his arms and legs and head?

Of course I didn’t ask my mother about it.

I grew up in a Vampire family but nobody in my house slept in caskets or lived in cemeteries. Where we lived didn’t have a lot of history so the cemeteries were fairly new anyway.

We also didn’t spend a lot of time in church. Like I said, I grew up in a Vampire family and in the Vampire community. That said, my brother Val and I were fascinated with churches.

One Sunday when I was about six years old, and Val was seven, we went inside the tent of a traveling preacher. Many people smiled at the two small, somewhat well dressed children who sat quietly in the back. We didn’t fidget or squirm like the other children, but sat completely still and listened in horror as a man in a black suit hollered about sin, damnation and HELL.

When we got home we asked our fourteen year old brother Andy about what we’d heard.
“Where is Hell?” I asked him.

“Hell is where people who aren’t Vampires go when they’re bad,” said Andy.

“I thought bad people went to jail,” said Val, trying to sound grown up.

Andy smiled with just a hint of fang and said, “Bad people do go to jail. They go to Hell after they’re hanged.”

After that Andy took it upon himself to educate Val and me. He read us Dante’s Inferno. I didn’t understand any of it but the pictures were terrifying. We read bits of the Bible. That was also terrifying. Then Andy read us Faust and sang songs from the opera (which was first performed in 1859, the year I was born.) Faust seemed like an idiot to me but I never told Andy that.

Later my parents sat us down and told us about good and evil. We learned of demons and the fallen ones. We learned of angels and what to watch out for. We learned of things that lived in the shadows. But most of all they told us to beware the darkness in the hearts of men, false prophets, and those who use the beautiful cloak of ignorance to blind and control.

As we grew up and grew the wiser I still remember thinking about what Andy said.

They go to Hell after they’re hanged. 

I suppose Hell is whatever you want it to be, and when or where ever you want it to be. But I’m not really thinking about that much, and I don’t think about much of anything Andy says anymore. He’s the crazy one. Don’t take me wrong, I love my musically gifted and somewhat dramatic and romantic sibling.

Over the years Val and I continued to sit in the back of churches and circus tents, I mean church tents, and listen, mostly for the music. Vampires love music of all kinds. We get it where we can.

We also wonder how we grew up to be so normal, but then again, most people get things wrong as children. That I guess is why we’re not born adults.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Tiny Babes, Good Dogs, and Birthdays

Little Willie Sleeps

I believe this is the grave of little Willie Adams who died October 23, 1877, age 4 months, 22 days, in Sacramento, California. This little stone touched me so when we visited the cemetery in 2012 –  and I had no idea when I first saw the stone that the dear child died on this day (which is also my birthday).

It sends a shudder down my spine but at the same time fills my heart that this dear baby was so loved, and after 141 years not forgotten. He was just at that age when babies start to laugh and really see the world around them.

Sweet slumber little Willie. You were loved and I believe the love never dies.

October is an odd month with the Day of the Dead, Halloween, and so many birthdays.

I used to have a tank full of big beautiful fancy gold fish and on my birthday four years ago ALL of the fish died. I imagine they’ll be swimming around over my head on Halloween night.

That same October my Jasmine, the best dog ever crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I wrote a lot about her and posted a lot of photos of her here. She had my heart and soul. Yes, despite what you hear, which is not true, Vampires do have souls. We have one for our hearts and one for our shadow. Jasmine grabbed the one for my cold unbeating heart.

Jasmine

Jasmine – Best Dog Ever

By the way, today is also Weird Al’s birthday. He turns 59. Happy Birthday Al. The first time I heard him was I believe in 1978. I thought “This guy is nuts. I love it.” Little did I know.

My name is Juliette Kings. I’m married to Theodore Kings (Teddy.) I live near Sacramento. I was born on October 23, 1859. I am a Vampire, but most of all I’m a mom. And of course an artist, a writer, and I hope a good friend.

So I bid you all goodnight and good morning, depending on when you read this. Hugs. Kisses. Happy Birthdays. And remember to hug your dogs, hug your cats and give them lots of under chin rubs, and talk to your kids.

And in this month of October, do not forget those we have lost and loved. Love never dies, even if you’re a Vampire or a dog.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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I love you. Juliette drew this.

 

 

 

Capitol Roses

There is a myth that Vampires like dead dusty roses. THAT is just a myth. We love beautiful vibrant roses and all flowers.

Yesterday it was my mom’s birthday. As part of the celebration we strolled around the rose garden in Capitol Park in Sacramento, CA.

Just wanted to share a few of my favorites. I thought it would be a good way to start off the week.

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For more amazing flowers check out Cee’s Photography: https://ceenphotography.com/2018/10/07/flower-of-the-day-october-8-2018-dahlia/

Share the flowers in your world.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Allegory of Art and Life and Whatever (and College Students and Vampires)

I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about art.

Yesterday I stopped by my brother Val’s office/house downtown. I’ve always loved this large stick style home. He purchased it around 1910 and has done a remarkable job of keeping it up over the years when so many Victorian and Craftsman style homes went into disrepair.

Val’s office is on the bottom floor. The second floor is a comfortable space where Val keeps his official home address. On the third floor is an apartment occupied by a couple of college students.

Neither one of the young men, now in their third year of college, would have been able to go to school away from home without the horrible nightmare of college loans had it not been for Val’s Home Away From Home (so they call it.)

I’m not completely sure where he found Colton and Luke. I think Val met Colton studying in the old cemetery or something along those lines and the other kid came along. Colton was worried he’d have to move home and transfer schools and majors, or maybe just drop out. In exchange for rent they watch the place when Val is gone, do yard work and house cleaning, and keep their grades up.

The boys aren’t Vampires either, and they have no idea about Val. All they know is that Val is exceptionally cool and a little different.

Anyway, I was at Val’s thinking about art. Luke showed me some sketches he’d done of some friends of his on his way out to classes at UC Davis (a short trip across the causeway.) The kid is good. I’m ready to beat the crap out of anyone who discourages him.

Val was at his big desk with his computer checking all kinds of financial stuff I know nothing about. I looked up on the wall at his Maynard Dixon painting. It was of a woman wrapped in a shawl looking in profile towards a gold and orange landscape.

“You should donate that to the museum,” I said. “It is a hidden uncatalogued gem.

“Maybe. I haven’t had it that long.”

“You bought it from the artist. How old can it be?”

“Sometime in the 30’s. A mere matter of days for the typical Vampire.” He smiled and gave me that amused look that makes the girls all melt. Well except me because I’m his sister and I know his tricks.

“Why don’t you donate some of your art Juliette? God knows you’ve got it coming out of your ears.”

“I can’t. Not yet. I’m too attached. And I need more. I always need more art.”

Val laughed. I continued. “I bid on something for the art auction, you know the one for public television. I’m spending at least one day a week at the museum. Clara is taking an art history class so we’re talking about a lot of art. That isn’t a bad thing mind you. I’m also working on my art again. I’m also reading a book about art. My house is full of art. I’m going to go into an art coma.”

“Is that a bad thing?” My brother looked at me as if I’d lost my mind.

“No Val, it isn’t a bad thing. It is a good thing. I’m just kind of overwhelmed. And I don’t have a Burning Question for Saturday.”

He told me to make it about art. We thought about it and threw around a lot of really stupid ideas, which is par for my Burning Questions feature.

I’ll think of something, or use one of our ideas.

Around that time Luke came rambling downstairs to say hello to Val. He was a typical twenty year old male with that sort of cute and, always together, always smart, and always on the verge of some sort of disaster look. It was charming.

“The outside lightbulbs are out, on the front and back porches.” said Luke. “Do you have any extras?”

“Sure. In the second story hall closet, next to the laundry room.”

“Thanks. Hey, can I ask you something?”

“Go ahead,” said my brother.

“You kind of like the dark don’t you. I know you aren’t cheap so it isn’t the electricity bill you’re worried about,” said Luke.

“Good observation,” said Val. “Glad you asked. My eyes are sensitive to the light and I just need to rest them.”

“Makes sense. OK I’ll change those bulbs, then I have to study.”

“On a Friday?” I asked.

“For a bit. I’m going out later. There’s a movie at the Tower, Sisters Brothers or something like that. I’m going with Madeline.” Then he gave a shy smile.

Val slipped him a couple of twenties. We talked for a little bit longer.

Val and I are very old. It is always good to be around the very young.

But now my old brain must think up a Burning Question for October 6. It will be something about art – that thing which has twisted up my heart and soul for as long as I can remember.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Allegory of Painting

Allegory of Painting, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: The Box in Dave’s Basement

The Box in Dave’s Basement

“I was just going out for coffee,” said Austin as he looked at the carnage surrounding him.

Coffee with the crossword puzzle, and a little bit of fresh air sounded good. Then Dave, who lived three houses down called to him as he waked by, “Hey, Austin, there’s something weird in my basement. Take a look.”

Austin was both a history professor and a general contractor specializing in historic restorations, so of course he’d check it out. Dave lived in the oldest house on that street, built in 1888. It was a fantastic small Queen Anne, painted shades of blue and cream.  Dave led the way to the back of the dark space to an oblong box.

“I was measuring the room and moved away some lumber that had been here since I moved in and found this,” said Dave. “It looks like a coffin. Do you think I should call someone?”

“Let me take a look. I’ve found these before,” said Austin, taking out his penknife. He slid the knife around the edges of the box to see if there was a latch or any loose spots.

Then all Hell broke loose. Two men, dressed in long black coats, carrying guns and large knives appeared at the door.

“Hey,” yelled Dave. “Get the fuck outta here. I told you guys to stay away from my house. I’m calling 911. I warned you.” Then he turned to Austin. “The bastards were out last week. I told them…”

The men moved closer. Dave continued, “Out NOW.” Dave was a medium sized silver haired average family guy his mid fifties, with some sort of upper management job with the Department of Water Resources. His wife was wife away on a girl’s weekend. His kids were away at college. He’d been working on making the basement into the ultimate man cave over the past few weekends. He wasn’t in the mood for Vampire Hunters.

“Damn it. I said GET OUT you crazies,” Dave yelled.

“Just let us have the box,” said one of the men, a tall shaggy haired guy with some sort of unidentifiable accent.

Austin took a step forward, getting between Dave and the vampire hunters. “No can do guys. You have to go.”

The other man, a bald guy with huge shoulders pointed a gun at Austin and Dave. “Move aside gentlemen.” He then shoved them out of the way and with a swift kick popped open the box.

Inside was the perfectly preserved body of a woman in an old fashioned lace dress. She looked as though she was made of fine leather. A bunch of dried roses were in her hand.

The shaggy haired man lifted a huge wooden stake. Dave and Austin both yelled, “NO.”

Dave jumped on the back of the bald man. Austin knocked the shaggy haired man out of the way.

Suddenly a blinding flash of light and a blast of cold air knocked them to the wall. Two more men appeared at the door, also in black but without the coats. One carried a knife, and the other a whip. The smiled, showing fangs.

“Holy shit,” whispered Dave.

The vampires grabbed the men in the black coats by the scruff of their necks, like small children, and threw them back out into the sunlight. One of the vampires uttered a string of long strange sounding words, and the vampire hunters ran down the street.

The woman in the coffin sat up, and moved her head around.

“Stiff neck?” Austin asked.

She looked at him, surprised. Then she smiled with a slight show of her own fangs. “Yes, thanks for the concern. How long did I sleep?”

“From the looks of your dress, maybe ninety years,” said Austin.

“I guess I missed that party then,” she said with a slight laugh.

“This is too weird,” said Dave as he got up, and crossed the room. He turned on the overhead shop lights and got a good look at his company. “You mean to tell me you’ve been in that box for ninety years?”

The woman just blinked against the light. The two Vampires stood out of the shadows.

“Hey, Austin,” said one of them. “I thought that was you.”

“Pierce,” said Austin. “I had no idea you were a vampire. Small world. Dave, this is Pierce, he guest lectures for me sometimes on nineteenth California government issues.”

“And this is Max, he…”

“Max,” said Austin as he held out his hand. “Good to see you. Thanks for helping out.”

“Austin,” said Max.

Dave looked at the Vampires then laughed. “Pierce. I know you. You were teaching American History at UC Berkley in the late 70’s. I took a couple of classes from you. You look like you haven’t aged a day. How old are you?”

Pierce smiled and shook Dave’s hand. “I’m 171, but who’s counting.”

“I was just going out for coffee,” said Austin as he looked at the carnage surrounding him. “You’re all welcome to come.”

The woman’s name is Lily. She had a lot of catching up to do so Dave gave her a pair of jeans and a shirt out of his wife’s closet, and they all headed out for coffee.

That’s all.

This is not my bed. I don't sleep in a box.

Alright folks, this is what happens when a writer keeps trying to write a story and every five minutes someone needs something and interrupts. This is what happens when you’re a mom, and a wife, and working a business, and have parents, and neighbors. You get a story but it is more real-life, and a little dull rather than sensational. Just a normal Sunday morning that ends up with everyone meeting for coffee. Coffee is good. Almost everybody likes coffee. Most people like Vampires too but they just won’t admit it.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman