Musings on Cats and Vampire Summers

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Oscar, pre-scar days.

I was out early this morning getting something out of my car. OK, I was looking for my purse. I thought I left it in my car last night. I didn’t. While I was outside I heard the sound of an angry cat. You know that snarling, growling, hit pitched sound from Hell that cats project when they’re really pissed off and ready for a fight.

It wasn’t one of my cats. At least it didn’t sound like either one of them. I decided to walk down the street to the mail boxes and find out where the gosh awful noise was coming from.

My cat Oscar, my sweet baby boy was standing in the front yard of my neighbor Josh. Josh lives alone. He rides his bicycle when it is 120 degrees F outside. Everybody likes Josh, but I don’t think he has a cat.

On the front porch (a favorite place of the neighborhood wild turkeys) was the largest calico cat I have ever seen. Her head was the size of a honeydew mellon. She was screaming at Oscar.

Oscar sat there and meowed with a confused little voice. Then he looked at me, then looked at the giant calico.

“Hey, Oscar,” I said. “Come on baby, let’s go home.”

As always, Oscar looks hopeful when his mom (me) is around. I’m always there to rescue him. I scooped him up.

I walked home like a crazy cat lady with Oscar under one arm, and an armful of junk mail in the other arm.

Oscar will always be like a baby, despite a notched ear and a scar across his face. He is thirteen pounds of fur and love. He is also an asshole, but he is my asshole.

This has been a long hot summer. Not all of us are handling it as well as my bike riding neighbor Josh. Then add massive wild fires to the heat and it gets really fun. If someone ever tells you “Burn in Hell Vampire,” you can tell them “FUCK YOU ASSHOLE I live in California.”

After the cat adventure I dropped off a trunk load of supplies that will go up to a fire shelter near Redding (Carr fire.)

By the time I got home my son Garrett was peeling tape off of the walls. We’re painting the insides of our home. From neutral to color. It looks great. As we’re peeling long steps of blue tape from around the windows we talked about all kinds of stuff.

Garrett will be in his fourth year of college. He is twenty-one now. No longer a child. I have kids now but I also have adults – Vampire adults.

“I hate summer necks,” said Garrett.

“It isn’t that bad,” I said.

“Oh come on mom, they’re gross. All covered in sunscreen, sweat, foundation, hair products, and body spray. The body spray is the worst. It smells great, but oh my god, the taste… How did you do it before people took showers everyday?”

“I don’t know. I guess we were used to it. You know, like cigarette smoke and rancid bacon grease.”

“That’s disgusting. I’m sticking with wrists until October.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” I told him. I didn’t mention that I go to nice adult people with indoor private offices. But I’m sticking with wrists more often than not as well.

College classes start soon for both of my kids. It already seems like fall. This morning was unusually cool and nice. On morning like that I pretend I’m living by the ocean or up in the mountains. For a myriad of reasons I’m still here, in the Sacramento Valley with the smoke and the ghosts of the 49ers and the first Vampires to settle in California.

Anyway, that is how my day went.

Hope yours went well.

~ 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

 

You Don’t Tug on Superman’s Cape

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It is almost 5:30 p.m. and 107 degrees Farenheight outside. I’m going to piss someone off with this post but maybe not. It is just too hot to care. Just like old people and tiny children who just say whatever they want.

This morning I took Eleora to the art museum. It was lovely. She made rude comments about the modern art. She made a racist remark about someone walking along outside of the museum. She is old. She forgets things. I said nothing this time. I just changed the subject. When one is with a 2000+ year old Vampire one learns to change the subject quite frequently.

Then we had lunch (a lovely cold type A blood soup with heirloom tomatoes) with my husband who was on a political roll. By then it was over a hundred degrees outside. I thought about our daughter who’d gone up north with her boyfriend to spend time in a cabin. It is only 102F there today. The poor kids are going to swelter. At least I know they’ll wear their sunscreen.

And now I’m home in my quiet house waiting for the cool dark night and Vampire things.   But that got me thinking about mysteries and strange heated things like the mystery surrounding George Reeves, and Christopher Reeve and coincidences and other strange things like Superman. I never think of Superman, except… maybe it is the heat. Maybe it has something to do with no spitting in the wind…

I’ve never been a big fan of the Superman franchise. Except for Christopher Reeve, and of course George Reeves, all of the other movie depictions have made him seem like some sort of weird overly pretty sissy. I love pretty men, but … come on you know what I’m talking about. These guys aren’t Supermen. They’re fashion models. No offense to fashion models – fuck it – I can’t say anything these days without offending someone.

But in defense of the not so masculine and memorable Supermen, they should consider themselves lucky.

Christopher Reeve, who was insanely talented in so many ways, and was also a heart-throb in the romantic movie “Somewhere in Time,” was in a riding accident. Tragically he became a paraplegic. But that didn’t stop him. It showed that he WAS Superman in body and soul. You know what happened. It was tragic, but he kept going. Damn.

George Reeves was murdered. The case has not been solved. Any thought on this would be interesting to hear.

The guy who originally illustrated Superman also drew S&M comics. The guy who drew Donald Duck also drew beautiful racy women (I have one of his original nudes in my own bedroom.) OK enough of these fun facts some of you might not have known.

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By Carl Barks who later created Donald Duck. I wonder which illustrations he had more fun drawing. I have the original sketch of this in my bedroom. I think he enjoyed this one more than any duck.

I found a box of old comics including a large lot of Lois Lane, Superman’s Girlfriend. These are the weirdest comic books in the known universe. These were from the late 50’s and early 60’s, before the influence of Marlo Thomas and Mary Tyler Moore. Holy shit Lois made a fool of herself over Superman and Clark Kent. Seriously Lois, if you can’t recognize a guy when he changes his part and takes off his glasses then you need to get your eyes checked. Lois was smart, sexy, but always gave off the vibe that she really wanted to be a bad girl. She wanted to be a modern girl who was a woman with equal standing with men AND equal pay. She wanted to be the one wearing the tights.

It is 107 degrees farenheit outside (I already said that but I’ll say it again) and my brain is fried, but not enough to stop me from thinking about Lois.

 

The Bomb

A Lois Lane Story from Juliette aka Vampire Maman

“What the hell Clark? Tights?”

“I wear them to yoga, and palates.”

He was fantastic, but then again as soon as he opened his mouth to talk I was ready to fall asleep.

But my god the man was good in bed.

The next day I was still investigating a murder, and I stopped for coffee at a place called Krypto Coffee. I’m sitting there taking notes and sipping my iced vanilla latte when some bald guy sits down and tries to sweet talk me. He tells me how rich he is and treats me like I’m some dumb bimbo ready to fawn all over him.

I just picked up my drink and left. Fuck I hate when that happens. What is it with guys around here?

No sooner had I walked out there was an explosion in the building across the street. I could hear the sirens. I ran across and tried to help the injured people coming out of the building. Then I get body slammed and something picks me up and I’m all the sudden up in the sky.

I had the breath knocked out of me, and then I realized that I was in the arms of a flying man.

“I’m Superman,” he said.

“Please put me down,” I told him.

“I’m here to save you,” he said.

Then I looked at his face. “What the fuck Clark? Jesus Christ on a bicycle put me down.”

“How’d you know it was me?”

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That is all I have right now. I’ll add my own illustrations to the story later. Maybe.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Stay cool. Have fun. And don’t mess around with Jim.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Midweek Summer Reading: Tropical Treats that will have you laughing out loud

Today I’m taking you to Florida for two of my favorite books. Both will take you on a wild ride with characters you’ll never forget.

Favorite is an understatement. I’ve read one of them four times and plan to read it again this summer. The other is a book I discovered in 2013 and might also add that to my reading list again.

Warning: These are both laugh out loud, pee your pants, spit out your coffee funny.

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As a parent I knew all about the fun books for younger readers by Carl Hiaasen – Chomp, Holes, Hoot, and Scat. I had no idea he also wrote even  more books for adults.

Bad Monkey
by Car Hiaasen

Andrew Yancy-late of the Miami Police and soon-to-be-late of the Monroe County sheriff’s office-has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical (Hiaasenian) explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its shadowy owner. Yancy thinks the boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, the sheriff might rescue him from his grisly Health Inspector gig (it’s not called the roach patrol for nothing).

But first-this being Hiaasen country-Yancy must negotiate an obstacle course of wildly unpredictable events with a crew of even more wildly unpredictable characters, including his just-ex lover, a hot-blooded fugitive from Kansas; the twitchy widow of the frozen arm; two avariciously optimistic real-estate speculators; the Bahamian voodoo witch known as the Dragon Queen, whose suitors are blinded unto death by her peculiar charms; Yancy’s new true love, a kinky coroner; and the eponymous bad monkey-who just may be one of Carl Hiaasen’s greatest characters.

 

Where is Joe Merchant
By Jimmy Buffett

I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH.

Where is Joe Merchant? That’s what his sister, Trevor Kane, the hemorrhoid-ointment heiress, wants to know. For Desdemona, Merchant is the missing link in her ongoing communications with space aliens. Tabloid journalist Rudy Breno only cares that Merchant gets bigger headlines than Elvis. And for renegade seaplane pilot Frank Bama, the mystery of the presumed-dead-but-often-sighted rock star is turning his life upside down.

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Now all you need to do for a perfect summer reading experience is to sit back on the deck with a Margarita, or an ice cold beer, and escape with Carl Hiaasen and Jimmy Buffett.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Fire And The Cool Dark Places Of Summer

With summer we don’t welcome in the fire season, but fire season is here none the less.

I had to go downtown this morning, and from the freeway saw two plumes of fire coming up as if the entire world was on fire or giant pits down to Hell had opened up. From the color of the smoke it looked like grass fires. A larger fire just north of here has burned maybe 12,000 acres. I’m not sure, it keeps growing. We’ll soon start to hear of more fires in all directions. After the devastation last year in Sonoma and Napa Counties, Lake County and other areas in California it seems even more tragic for it to start all over again.

Behind my home we’ve cut back the brush. I’ve cleared my property. We’ve put in fire sprinklers.

As I drove along the freeway looking at the smoke plume in the distance I saw a religious billboard. It just seemed weird, you know the smoke and the message all at once.

This week missionaries and members of several churches (you know who I’m talking about) have been coming around and leaving pamphlets. A few years ago yellow jackets swarmed a nice pair of men who came around to tell me about the Bible. I’m often tempted to tell them we’re Vampires. Not that we’re evil. Oh we are so misunderstood. Another reason why most folks don’t know we’re real.

But back to the nice people who smile and ask me too many personal questions about my beliefs,  what I really need to ask is for them to pray that we don’t have the fire devastation that we have had in the West for the past few years – from Canada to Mexico it has been horrible.

Right now I can smell smoke but I’m not sure where it is from. The sky is too hazy to tell.

When my brother Val and I were teens, around fourteen and fifteen (1873 or 74) we found a way to keep cold in the hot burning summer days.

He stole the key to a church basement (which is no longer there) and a way to get into a seldom used private chapel. Bodies would be put there before burial to keep from rotting so quickly in the summer heat. Also food would be stored in another section behind locked doors.

Yes, it was horrible and wrong for any teens, and we’re Vampires so that even adds more to the wrongness of it all, but we didn’t hurt anyone. Our parents would have hit the roof, but that is another post.

I’d lay as still as death on the cool floor. My skin seemed to melt, not like candle wax, but like burning hard sealing wax. Hair twisted around my neck and clung to my forehead. I couldn’t open my eyes.

Suddenly an icy cold shroud covered me. I sank into the floor even more. A relief to my burning Hell had come.

I could hear my brother Val laughing.

“Thank you,” I whispered. “I thought I was going to absolutely melt.”

Val lay down on the floor beside me and pulled the icy wet sheet over the both of us.

“I hate the heat,” I said to him.

“I know you do,” he replied.

We lay in the dark, on the cold marble floor. The triple digit summer air encased us, drying out the wet sheet. I hooked my index finger with his as we lay as still as death together, trying to find some comfort.

With my eyes still closed I could hear footsteps coming into the room. I couldn’t will myself to move. I was so hot and so uncomfortable.

I’m not a creature who has a wide range of temperature control. The heat makes me want to hibernate or go into a coma.

I could feel someone lift the sheet from our still faces. We opened our eyes wide, not with our natural color, but with solid black. You know, the old black-eyed children trick. It works every time.

A gasp and a cry filled the air, then the sound of the poor lady running away from us.

Val threw back the sheet and propped himself up on his arm. Looking towards the doorway he laughed. “She thought we were dead.”

“And so we are, well sort of,” I answered looking at his pale face, made even paler by the dark hair falling over his forehead.

Today, about ninety summers later the heat still shuts me down. My daughter mentioned that today.

“Dad said you never did well in the heat.”

“No. I don’t.” And that is true as I sit here burning up with my hands sticking to the computer keyboard.

Every single summer the heat rises to triple digits F-ing Farenheit. And every single summer the hot walls of heat hit me so hard that every cell in my body wants to shut down. It should be no surprise, especially since I choose to live here. Then again, it is hot everywhere in the West, aside from the coast and the mountains. Maybe one day I’ll pack up and move, but until then, there are wet sheets and ice.

Oh, one more note, as a public service announcement. When it gets hot PLEASE make sure your dogs don’t end up with burnt feet. If it is too hot for you to walk on the hot pavement with bare feet it is too hot for your dogs. My friend Amelia in Las Vegas used to put booties on her old dog for walks in the hot desert neighborhoods. And triple check their water – cat water too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Solstice

Summer Solstice

Summer Pinup

 

Today is the first day of summer. It doesn’t mean we’re going to have a chanting ceremony to ancient gods or seek out rocks to hug. We’re Vampires, so we’re not chanters. The first day of summer means the Giants are playing the Padres tonight.

This morning was special. I took the dog out at 5:00 a.m. this morning. The sky was just starting to light up. Just as the sun showed itself over the edge of the hills I heard an eagle cry out. Welcome summer.

Welcome a new day. Welcome 100 degree F plus weather.

My dog has gone into a deep depression because I no longer take her everywhere with me. She doesn’t understand that it is too hot to leave her in the car, even with the windows rolled down. Poor baby.

We will do what we must do to keep cool, just hoping that nobody will end up being trapped under cool crawl spaces, only to have someone (me) rescue them fifty years later. I stress this because when my brother Aaron and his “friend” Austin come across some dried up old Vampire I’m the one they call because they’re too big to get up under there.

“Never volunteer to crawl under a house,” I tell my children. “Unless it is someone you know. But it won’t be someone you know because you’ll make sure all of your friends are smart enough not to do anything like that.”

Summer is a time for night walks, and night swims. I wish it was also a time for night blooming flowers but not so much in my yard. Of all things, I am a collector of day lilies. I’m also growing sunflowers but don’t expect blooms until September.

In the meantime here are a few of my blooms. Vampires are fantastic gardeners. I bet you didn’t know that about us. We feed our plants with water and great amounts of love from our cold unbeating hearts.

 

 

We think of a lot of things in the summer. Two of those things are frogs and heat. I believe I’ve used the frog story before, but I shall tell it again.

Put a cold cast iron skillet on a cold burner on your stove. Gas works best. Place a large, live, cold blooded frog in the center of the skillet. Use a good sized one – like a great big bull frog. Turn on the heat ever so low, then gradually turn it up. The frog will sit until it gets blazing hot and it’s feet and belly stick to the cast iron and it is cooked.

This is what happens to people in this heat (we’re expecting over 100 all week and over 105 F on some days). Elderly people and others who are not always aware will sit in the heat like the frog until they cook. They’ll forget to jump out of the pan, or in the case of some folks, forget to turn on the air conditioning or fan. Or they’ll forget to call for help because they won’t realize they need help.

If you have anyone in your world who is elderly, or otherwise needs help, please check on them in the hot weather. Make sure they are getting plenty of liquids and are staying cool. Local park and recreation districts often have events, such as free movies, during the week for seniors and others. There are also libraries and other public places people can go to for a few hours to read and cool off. Our you can check and make sure your loved one has turned on the air conditioning. Depression era babies who are now elderly often refuse to turn on the air conditioner because they’re afraid it might cost a few extra pennies – even if they can afford it. PLEASE convince them otherwise.

If they’re vampires they’ll just dry up, but that is a fairly easy fix. If they’re regular humans they could become extremely ill or die.

So please. Check in on them. Call them. Take them out for ice cream. Show that you care. It could be a matter of life or death.

Also, remember when it is blistering hot outside your dog’s paws will burn on hot streets and sidewalks. Take your pooch out in the mornings or evenings, or get it booties. Nobody needs a trip to the veterinarian.

Summer is here. It is a time of summer love. It is a time of fun. It is a time for vacations, breaks, and concerts in the park. Enjoy it for what it is. But shouldn’t we just be enjoying everything for what it is. OK not everything. No. Not everything. But you know what I mean.

Awww man, it’s time for summer music and a road trip.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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