Attending Marvels, Parenting, Smoke, Fire, Flying in the Age of Covid-19 and Stupid Stuff.

The fires in California and the Covid-19 Pandemic continue to rage on. 

This morning #45, a man with a name I shall not mention because I will go into an angry rage, was in town to tell us what we are doing wrong, spreading ignorance and generally making a horrible situation even worse.

Before he arrived I was lucky enough to catch a plane going 500 miles south of my hometown. 

I usually don’t comment on politics but after raising my children in a time when school shootings was a common occurrence I feel I can say whatever I want. Anyway his is MY blog.

Between Sacramento and Long Beach there was nothing but smoke. I looked out the window of the plane for an hour. I can usually see farmlands, mountains, cities, small towns, and even Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Today I saw nothing but smoke until we were just a few minutes from the Long Beach airport.

Since I’m visiting my children, and since I’m the mom I was tasked with bringing a few items with me. One was coffee. Apparently nobody in Southern California has coffee as good as Sacramento’s own Chocolate Fish Coffee. Another was roller skates. The average pair of competition custom dance skates with wheels weighs about 378 pounds. At least it feels like that trying to haul them around an airport and get them through security. Now you know why skaters have such great legs. Those skates are heavy.

Due to the pandemic the plane was only half way full. All middle seats were empty. I was the only one in my section. 

As I pulled out my tote bag I discovered I’d left my book at the airport. It was a well worn copy of one of my favorite books of all time: Attending Marvels: A Patagonian Journal by George Gaylord Simpson. The book is a journal about finding dinosaur bones in early 1930’s Patagonia. It isn’t just about the bones. Simpson brilliantly introduces the reader to the wide variety of people he meets (exotic and not so exotic) and most of all introduces us to the fantastic and almost unreal Patagonian landscape. I love this book above almost all others. It had such an influence on me. I can’t explain it because I usually don’t dig for bones. On the other hand I’m always up for adventure. If you can check the book out at the library or you can get a cheap copy on eBay. 

Luckily I’m one of those people who can sit on a plane for an hour and a half and do things in my head. I looked at the tops of the heads of the other passengers. I listened. There wasn’t as much talking at all – not like before the days of Covid-19. But up front I noticed there were two Vampires sitting together speaking quietly in a mixture of the old Vampire language and English. One had honey blonde hair and the other a dark auburn. I didn’t know them or introduce myself. It was just an observation. I didn’t feel like meeting anyone new today or invading their space.

I’m down here for a week with my children. They’re busy but getting weary of the smoke, the pandemic, the feelings of unresolved social injustice, and the environmental mess ignored and left up to them to fix. 

One is spending her senior year of college and working online. The other just received a gradate degree and is working online and trying to start a business with his best buddy from childhood.

Sure they’re Vampires, as are most of their closest friends, but the same things weigh heavy on them that weigh heavy on all young people these days.

When I return home I’ll replace the windshield wipers on my car that have been ruined from the ashes and grit that has rained from the sky. I’m thankful that it is somewhat clear here. It is still smoky but I can see real sunlight. 

While I’m home I’ll savor my time with my children and try to forget everything except us. I’m here, as always, to give them support, and love, and to make them smile.

I’ll have more on our adventures as the week progresses.

Stay safe, wear a mask, turn off the news, be kind to others and yourself. And if you get a chance kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Smoke Gets In My Eyes (Fires, Gender Reveals, and Reveries of a Vampire King)

Dear Diary,

The sky is red with smoke and fire. There is a demon wind blowing as if it wants to take the roof off of the house.

“There are too many fires,” I told my friend Randolpho. “It is like Hell has come up from the bowels of the Earth.”

“This is 2020. Welcome to the new normal. I hear there is a big fire by the airport and on some of the river levies. Add those to the fires already going on including that fire started by those fools having a gender reveal party.”

“Gender reveal party?” I asked. “What do you mean by gender reveal and why is there a party?”

“Before babies are born some people get overly excited and throw a gender reveal party. You know, to announce if they are having a boy or a girl.”

“That is ridiculous. How do they know if it is a boy or a girl? Even a witch will not be able to tell you that with a hundred percent certainty.”

“Ultra sound, or amnio. Oh my God. You don’t know about those things. Let me show you.”

Randolpho pulled out his phone and went on the Internet, where almost all information can be found. 

“Ultra sound is a way to see a baby before it is born to make sure it is developing right. ”

I looked at a photo of a tiny human being. There was a face and this one was obviously male. 

“But how is this done? The baby is inside of the mother. It would die if they cut her open.”

“They don’t cut her open. Get a clue Vlad. The technician takes sort a wand and rubs it over the mother’s pregnant belly. Then an image of the baby appears on a computer screen. Then the image can be printed out.

“This is amazing. If I had not seen it for myself I would not have believed it. Then what is amnio?”

“Amniocentesis is a procedure in which amniotic fluid is removed from the uterus for testing or treatment. Amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds and protects a baby during pregnancy. 

A large needle is inserted into the mother amniotic fluid around the baby is extracted. One can tell then not only the gender but if there are any genetic issues the parents should be aware of.”

“Genetic issues?”

“For example if a child will have Down’s Syndrome.”

“What is that?”

“Remember Maria? The small girl who liked to wear crowns of flowers and always had a song and a smile. She had Down’s Syndrome.”

I remembered the young Vampire maiden. She was one of my mother’s ladies. Once a cocky young Vampire called Vink called Maria an idiot and belittled her in front of the entire Vampire court because she did not understand his stories. He thought the stories were humorous. They were not.

My mother had Vink thrown into the dungeon for a week for his meanness. 

Even being a Vampire Maria passed on the next winter. We were all sad. Everyone loved Maria. Vink continued to be a fool and was banished from the court.

“Now there are people like Maria who graduate from High School and some even graduate from college.”

I thought about this for a while. There is so much I need to learn.

“Do you ever want to have kids Vlad?” Randolpho asked. I thought that was odd. We have known each other for over 670 years and we have never discussed it.

The subject made me feel somewhat uncomfortable.  I told Randolpho he needed to change the subject.

Later I tried to sleep but could only think of babies crying and keeping me awake. I thought about a baby laughing and broke out in a cold sweat, then coughed from the smoke. 

~ Vlad

Dear Diary,

The smoke is thicker today. My mind is still on children. I am in Hell.

I poured a glass of chilled blood and put a piece of fresh mint on top of it. Mint is something we did not have when I was Vampire King. After being locked in a crypt for three hundred years I have discovered many new things such as mint, chilled drinks, and viewing babies inside of their mothers. I might have missed the 18th, 19th, and 20thCenturies, but here I am in 2020.

Once when I was much younger, when I was Vampire King I went on a journey to being a group of young orphan Vampire children back to my castle. My wife had just abandoned me and I had the need to, what term do they use so often now, get away. I had to get away.

After riding for a week with some of my finest Vampire soldiers, I met my contact at an ancient castle by the edge of a large lake. The Vampire in charge approached me. He was slightly taller than I am, making him around six feet tall. His appearance was striking, not just because of his height but also because of his fashion. He was dressed all in black with dark glossy brown hair about his shoulders. He wore no wig as many men did at that time but like me, he wore his own hair. His eyes were deep golden brown surrounded by thick lashes, and a face spotted with light facial hair on his jaw line and a hint of a mustache growing in. His clothing and boots were all black except for a purple sash around his waist and a green feather in his hat. 

He introduced himself as Toby Rose, the Captain of the group, and the Captain of the ship that had brought the children from England. I immediately liked him. 

Toby Rose spoke the old Vampire language with an English accent. The women at the castle thought he was charming. Their attentions lingered more on him that on me – which was something new for I was always the one woman kept their eyes on.

Later as we walked along the edge of the lake Toby told me he had heard my wife had left. We looked towards the castle and saw a group of women walking along the road. 

“They are beautiful,” said Toby Rose.

“Yes, they are,” I replied. They were beautiful but I was not in mood for strange women.

“I love women. I love the way they feel with their warm skin, and soft lips. I love knowing how easy it is for me to please them. The are always surprised by me in the best of ways. I also love men. I do believe I love being with a man the best. I love their strong arms, and the way a man moves and smells. I love the feel of a chest covered with hair, and the brush of stubble on my neck when he kisses me.” Then he laughed a low quiet laugh. “I love to feel their stubble everywhere if you know what I mean.”

Toby Rose was quite forward. I was curious and asked him, “When did you know you desired both men and women.”

“I have always liked everyone,” he said with a laugh. “My father always told me you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. He was a wise man, my father was.” 

I was somewhat surprised Toby Rose was so open with me in a time when those who expressed their sexuality so openly were often hung or burned alive. On the other hand we were Vampires, open to all desires and all ways of life. We rarely judged.

In fact, when my sister was born a cousin mocked my parents because my mother had given birth to a girl. We had no gender reveal at the time. My father became angry, pinned his cousin down and cut one of his balls off. Then he put it into a jar and placed it in my sister’s nursery. 

“Now my daughter has as many balls as you do,” my father said to his cousin.

My father would do things like that. I did not tell Toby Rose about that memory.

As we walked along the riverbank we spoke of the children we had rescued. We spoke of our lives and what we wanted. Toby gave me gentle words about the departure of my cheating whore of a wife, which made me feel better.

“You hungry?” Toby Rose asked.

So we went for a hunt. After we were full of warm blood and the thrill of hunting together we joined the rest of our party along with our hosts in the castle.

Everyone spoke of Toby Rose. All of the women wanted him. All of the men wanted to be like him. He was a fierce fighter, and a lover who never shared secrets. He was a leader. He was a mentor and a teacher. Toby Rose was an amazing man and an amazing Vampire.

I noticed women, as always would look at me with longing, but they boldly approached Toby Rose to let him know that they wanted him to come to them later.

Later as I was alone in my chamber, getting ready to retire, there was a knock on my door. I opened it and let in Toby Rose, who was wearing nothing but an oversized robe.

“I want you Vlad,” Toby Rose whispered, as he put his hand on my hip and stepped close.

“Toby, I am not ready for this. I do not know if I will ever be ready,” I told him.

Toby Rose kissed my neck scraping fangs across it making me close my eyes and wonder what indeed was happening. Then Toby Rose took my hand and put it under his robe. “I’m ready. I have never been more ready.”

“Toby Rose!” I said.

Toby Rose’s robe dropped to the ground and I found out that Toby Rose was a woman.

I have to admit it was one of the best nights of my life.

That is my gender reveal story.

About a year ago I tried to find out what happened to Toby Rose. Nobody knows. She might be an old Vampire content living a quiet life. She might be dead. Or she might be locked in a crypt somewhere, a prisoner of the dark. I do not know.

~ Vlad

Dear Diary,

My love Gillian is now sleeping in my bed as I write this.  I have never told her of Toby Rose, or about any of my other lovers, nor has she told me about hers.

Even after hundreds of years some things never change. Like all self respecting Vampires we never kiss and tell.

~ Vlad

This has been the 63rd installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. To read all of them, or find your favorites again CLICK HERE, or check out the right sidebar.

Smoke

Fire season has started. It seems as if everything exploded a few days ago. The air smells like smoke. Ashes cover cars and any other outdoor surfaces. 

I took this photo yesterday from my front yard. It was about 8:00 a.m.

The glowing orange ball is the sun.

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I’m about forty miles from the nearest fire. There are many. I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m worried about the parks near where I live, including behind my own home, catching fire.

My heart goes out to those who are in active fire areas, and to those who are fighting the fires.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Taking Care of Our Elders: A Place Between The Night and the Day

Now is a time we all need to take special care with our elders/seniors and others who need extra help. 

I am running a Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon. These stories are about my elders Eleora and Tellias, but I know many of you will be able to relate. 

From 2013

A Place Between the Night and the Day

Yesterday a call came in. A small whispery voice, like old tissue paper that had once wrapped up lace and flower petals said, “We can’t find Ginger.”

The conversation continued, or I attempted to continue it. I asked where they’d seen Ginger last and if they’ll looked everywhere. But I got the same answer. “YOU have to come. We can’t find Ginger.”

Ginger is an old dog. She is some sort of medium sized Lab and Golden mix with a few other breeds in there. One day 15 years ago she showed up starving and dirty on the Elder’s farm. She was grown even then and seemed middle aged. Like her owners, Ginger is ancient and confused.

The elders are Tellias and Eleora, two ancient Vampires who aren’t even sure how old they are. He met her when he went to Britian with the Roman Army. That was a while back. Theirs was a story of sweeping epic romance, but now, they were calling me to find their old dog.

I brought the kids with me, 17 year old Garrett and 14 year old Clara. When we arrived, they, the Elders were along. The early morning air was filled with smoke from forest fires in the hills. Eleora was afraid of smoke, so she was out of sorts even more than usual. Back in the days of burning rice fields she’d leave town for the coast.

When we arrived Tellias came out to greet us in an old black tux with no shirt underneath the jacket and bare feet. His blonde hair was covered by an old pith helmet. Eleora wore a halter style sundress out of some ugly brown and yellow batik fabric and red cowboy boots. She carried a large butterfly net and a green glass bowl of dog biscuits. Despite their age and frailties they look as though they can’t be much older than 20.

And it is my job to take care of them and make sure they’re safe and have what they need. It is my job to make sure they don’t do stupid things.

My children and I were showered with hugs and kisses. They usually sang songs to us when we arrived, but this time is was all about finding Ginger.

We searched high and low for Ginger. We called. But no answer.

“We’ve looked everywhere,” said Tellias.

“Everywhere,” said Eleora.

“Everywhere,” whispered Tellias.

So we all searched and called more. After taking a break from dog searching, cleaning up, fixing a few things, and throwing in some laundry that had piled up, we sat down for a few moments. There was a click click click on the floor and we turned to see Ginger looking at us with big brown eyes.

We have no idea where she’d been, but we were glad that she was back. She is covered in hugs and kisses. All is well.

It had been a long week with my work, the kids starting school, my husband’s activities and looking after the Elders. Some say don’t sweat the small stuff but it all seems the same. There is no small stuff or big stuff – just stuff. But it is my stuff. It is my choice to be the one who manages all the stuff and take care of stuff and deal with stuff.

It isn’t that I love the stuff, I love the people who bring the stuff to me.

And in the early mornings between the night and the dawn I am left alone to my own stuff, or what I can clear out of my head and heart. I walk the trails near my house under the oaks, on the edge of the bluffs over the water. I can hear the first birds of the morning and see the last bats of the night. The deer, coyote and bobcats walk at a distance and sometimes let me see them in their own world. The squirrels jump through the trees like crazed acrobats.

I think of everything and nothing. I think of things that I don’t have time to think about when I’m looking for old dogs, lost socks, and lost souls.

My mind wanders the hills far beyond where my feet take me. Sometimes I see ghosts, but even they know not to bother me in my Vampire reveries.

At that place between the night and the day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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

 

Short Story Sunday: Smoke

Smoke

The sky is gray with smoke, the same color as the dove sitting on the back deck rail.

I’m not just saying that to be literary. The sky IS the same color as the dove. It isn’t clouds. It’s smoke from the summer fires.

I watched him through the window as he watered the garden. He was doing it all wrong but I wasn’t going to tell him.

My mind wandered to where I would go if I could go somewhere else. It wasn’t like the movies or books where I could go home to some idyllic small town. This was home. There is no extended family. There is no family at all to speak of.

I imagined the winter when we didn’t have to water the garden and everything was green.

A house on the beach where the cool winds blow away the heat and the smoke and the smell of death in the basement.

My husband waved at me.

“Did you put on sunscreen? You need a hat,” I called to him.

“I’m coming inside right now,” he said with a smile.

I saw a bit of fang flash when he smiled. He’d do that when he wanted me to smile back. Smiles had been rare these days.

I remember the fires of long ago. I remember the screams. I remember the cheers as bodies exploded and cracked. I remember the horrible smell. And I remembered to tell my children to never tell anyone who or what they are or they would face the flames.

The sliding glass door opened and he came in with an armful of roses, zinnias, and sunflowers.

“Our harvest today. Get a vase my love. We’ll bring the beauty out of the smoke.”

I smiled and took the flowers and he kissed me.

It wasn’t a smoking hot kiss but that isn’t what I wanted or needed.

All sI needed was a cool kiss from a man who loved me, and maybe eye drops.

Yes, I needed eye drops. Then I closed my eyes and thought of the waves and the cool sand between my cold Vampire toes.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman