House of the Spirits – Casa de los espiritus

House of the Spirits – Casa de los espiritus

They called the farmhouse casa de los espiritus, the ones who picked the fruit and helped with the orchards. House of the spirits.

The original house is gone, replaced in 1884 with a lavish 5,400 square foot Queen Anne style Victorian. The spirits are still there in the form of Tellias and Eleora the very ones who had the home built. Yes, they’re still there because they are Vampires.

Over the years the house has seen friends come and go but the owners stay the same, never aging a day. During the day the house is still but at night the spirits come to life with both darkness and in light. One can go by the darkened old house and hear laughing coming from within. Memories fade except of the faces of youth that never grows old.

On rare occasions we might see ghosts in the orchards or down by the river banks, but they’re never in the house.

Gone are the days of lavish parties but those days might come again.

I kicked back on the veranda with my brother Val recently one moonless night.

“So I guess we’re the spirits,” he said.

“Pretty much,” I replied. Nothing more needed to be said. It was one of those slow nights where we didn’t feel like going out. We’d both had lunch dates so there wasn’t any urgency to go out.

We didn’t play remember when that night. You know, the old game where you sit with an old friend or sibling and remember the most extreme situations you’ve ever been in. Remember when you found the crocodile under your bed, remember when that crazy rogue Vampire tried to tear your head off, remember when you fell off the bridge, remember when the hounds chased us across the field, remember when we were trapped in a crypt, trapped in a burning barn, trapped in a light house, trapped in a sinking ship, trapped with a politician in a rowboat in the middle of a swamp in Louisiana, hidden in a closet, running down the beach with a giant torch, hidden in a church, trapped in a relationship? It could go on forever. But that night we didn’t play that game. OK we did but later. We always play that game.

Bob, the neighbor stopped by. We didn’t play remember when with him either. Bob is 62 and dealing with his 85 year old mother (who has ideas of her own on how Bob should live his life.) I suddenly thought how odd it must be for Bob to be here speaking with a couple of Vampires. He has known us all his life. His family has known us (our family and our kind) since the 1850’s.

Casa de los espíritus applies more to Bob than to us. Forty years ago he fell in love with a woman who never aged. Of course her heart belongs to another forever, but he never give up hope. For him there is that ghost of a chance… always the chance, or so I speculate.

The spirits haunt those with the least time. They haunt those who think the most of what could have been.

For those of us who think of what can be the spirits are quiet.

Earlier we heard someone playing the old wind up gramophone Radio Franks Old Maid’s Ball. Now they were all in dancing to Enrique Iglesias singing Bailando.

Val and I laughed and danced along. Why not. Everyone needs to dance, even Vampires in the dark of the night. Taking Bob by the hands we all went inside to join the party.

Tonight the spirit was that of friendship and fun. No haunting scary monsters. That is for another post, I promise.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Summer Reading: Dracula, Frankenstein, and Other 19th Century Horrors

For me summer reading means picking up a variety of books. It means trying out new books, as well as revisiting old friends.

After a steady diet of mysteries, romances, and modern literary fiction, sometimes we need to sit around the proverbial camp fire and be scared silly.

Oh by the way, this blog is inhabited by Vampires, and we read. We usually don’t sit around and read Vampire books but when we do we like it to be interesting.

Dracula – Annotated

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Dracula is a fun, unusual, and well written book.

Unfortunately, as with many books that grab the imagination, Dracula has been made into a lot of awful movies that only vaguely capture the story line. You have to read the book.

I recommend adding “The Annotated Dracula” which is Dracula by Bram Stoker, with an introduction, Notes, and Bibliography by Leonard Wolf. The book also includes maps, drawings, and photographs, plus beautiful illustrations by Satty.

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Mr. Wolf, who sadly passed away earlier this year, also created annotated versions of Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and The Phantom of the Opera,

Note: An annotated book is a book that includes notes and images about the book. It is more than just foot notes. Please see the photos I’ve included.

There are many annotated versions of Dracula from 1975. I recommend this one. It is out of print but you can find copies on eBay, other online sources, your library, and at your local used book store. Ask around.

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This is hours of good fun, and you’ll get to read the ORIGINAL.

 

Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein

Assembled from the original text by Mary Shelley

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For a lot of people Frankenstein can be a difficult read. First published in 1818 it quickly became a classic. However, it was written in 1818 and is sometimes puzzling and odd to many modern readers. I love the book, but I understand if it isn’t always easy.

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Like with Dracula, NOBODY has made a movie true to the book. READ THE BOOK. Get the real story.

A great version to start with is the illustrated version from one of my favorite illustrators Gris Grimly. Yes, it is a graphic novel. Yes, you will like it. Yes it is strangely weird and ugly and beautiful at the same time just like the original story.

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Get a copy, put it in your tote bag, back pack, satchel, or purse and carry it with you all summer. Savor it with a tall glass of something cold and remember to keep a light on later in the night.

 

Now for a different kind of horror…

 

The House of Mirth

by Edith Wharton

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Imagine living in a world where social status and money rules every chance of happiness you have. Imagine being a woman with no power over her own life, and who is judged and brutally unforgiven by every choice she makes – by the people who should be her own. Welcome to the cruel world of the 1870’s and how a women who is of the upper class, but with nobody to protect her is left to fend for herself in a world that has no place for women like her. This is the story of Lily Bart, beautifully told by Edith Wharton.

This book is brilliant, but frustrating and tragic. This is also a reminder to get out and vote in every single election so that the rights and opportunities for women everywhere will not be taken away.

The House of Mirth can be found in every bookstore and every library.

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High Fashion 1870’s

 

Happy summer reading and feel free to leave your comments or reading suggestions in the comments.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Travels North

Last night I watched the lights over the river canyons and listened to the trains pass through Spokane, Washington. The night was hot but peaceful. In some ways it was different, yet in other ways reminded me of my own home which also backs up to an urban wilderness of a sort.

Spokane is a lovely city, but unfortunately it is so hot – in the high 90’s F.
F could stand for Fahrenheit or it could just stand for fucking frying. I don’t take to heat well, even if I wasn’t a Vampire (which I am, for you who are new to this blog, just deal with it.)

We’re here for the 2019 USA National Roller Skating Figure Championships. After driving up from the Sacramento area we settled into our airbnb at the end of the road, on the edge of a mountain, in the middle of a city.

As we drove though countless little towns through the middle of the high desert I think of how isolated lone Vampires survive and sometimes even thrive (in their own weird ways) in these places.

Most of them feel isolated and cut off in the company of others and prefer the isolation of wide open places, high deserts, or endless fields of wheat, with nobody for company except cattle, dogs, and the occasional cat.

There are those who have regulars, truckers and others along the isolated stretches, who come in for sex, companionship, and a rest from loneliness, in an unknown exchange for blood.

Others go into town every few weeks or months. They load up on food, go to Target, visit the art museum, see friends, then go back to their desolate abodes. These are the ones who savor their solitude but also occasionally appreciate the company of others – when they want the company of others.

Of course we’re happy to explore and be in the community with others. We’d wanted to do and see more here but it is 97F today and way too how for most Vampires (or anyone) to be out moving around. We also don’t know the city so every trip is an adventure of unfamiliar streets and neighborhoods.

Spokane is a lovely city. I wish we had more time here to savor the culture and the company. Alas we must leave soon.

It is only 4:00 p.m. but we’ve settled in for the night. Will we watch horror movies? Hell no, we’re watching The Bachelorette because we couldn’t get live stream last night. We’ll watch Hannah tell Luke P. what an asshole he is, again, in so many words. We might also watch Queer Eye or read. If the wind dies down I plan on taking a glass of wine and sitting out on the edge of the canyon and watching the lights on the hill, the trains going over the bridge, and maybe catch a few stars in the northern sky.

May all of your travels be save and sound. May you find what you need, and what you desire, and what you deserve.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Just talking about teens (Boys are Stupid: Part 28)

(Reposted from July 2015. The kids are all grown up now but this is still funny…at least to me)

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Girl Child (age 16): I’d hate myself if I was a teenage boy. I am so glad I’m a girl. If you’re a boy you’re expected to act cool, drop F bombs a hundred times a day, say the N word a hundred times a day for no reason because they think they’re cool but they’re a bunch of stupid little boys, you stink all the time, if you get near another guy and give him a bro hug you have to say “No homo.” Boys are so insecure. Then they go home and be perfect little clean mouthed little polite mommy’s boys.

Man Child (age 19): We’re not all like that and the rest grow out of it. Most of us grow out of it.

Girl Child: Sure, you and my guy friends. But the rest of the guys. They’re all a bunch of F boys. They posture like a bunch of monkeys. I feel sorry for you.

As a mom I just listen. Girls swoon over the Man-child. The Girl-child is going to break hearts. They are both going to grow up and realize that they were on the right track – more than either of their parents (or at least more than I was.)

Some of you might be horrified but all kids talk like this, at least the ones I know. They talk about life and love and what they see and hear at school.

Then I watch them both sit in the cool dining room with the shades drawn, working on school work for fall. They’ll laugh together until their sides split, then they’ll study and study and study. I’m not helicopter parent – they do this on their own.

For all parents of young children my advice would be to guide your kids. Talk to them. Encourage them to be curious. Teach them study skills. And let them know that at a certain age that it is on them to work for their future. Let them know that they should be kids, but prepare them to be adults.

Sure they’ll make mistakes. How else can one learn?

I let them speak their minds around me too. I don’t want them ever to be afraid to speak or feel they have to have secrets.

But I swear, being around teens is like a 24/7 comedy club. I have to write this stuff down as they say it, or record it.

Oh well. Just thinking out loud.

So your assignment for this week is to hug your kids, listen to them, laugh with them and love them. And tell them not to be jerks or try not to offend everyone they see. It isn’t cool. It is just stupid.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Charged Technology, and The Ancient Folks We Love

“Juliette, I am so glad to see you. Were you in the neighborhood?” Tellias took my face in his cool white hands and kissed my forehead.

“No,” I said. “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for three days. Your phones go straight to voice mail. You never check your voice mail. You never check to see if your phones are charged. I was worried about you.”

Tellias said nothing about the phones, took my hand, and said, “Let’s go see Eleora. She’ll be glad to see you. She fell in a drainage ditch out in the pear orchard yesterday. I had to call John next door to come help me get her out.”

“Why didn’t you call me?”

Tellias gave me that annoyed look one gives children with annoying questions. “We got her out.”

He stood in front of me, his blue eyes looking brighter than usual, his white blonde hair hanging to his shoulders. Today he wore a Hawaiian shirt with big blue hibiscus flowers, and ancient worn out orange plaid Bermuda shorts, and his yellow flip flops.

Tellias and Eleora are old. They’re ancient old. Tellias is well over 2,000 and nobody really knows how old Eleora is. They looks as if they’re about twenty years old, but act like they’re in their nineties. For readers new here, I must explain that they’re Vampires. We all are. I’m the one who checks in on them, just as many of you check in on your elderly, or other family members with special needs and concerns.

Tellias and Eleora live on a farm along the Sacramento River, an hour drive from my home. I grew up running through their orchards, then new, and going to lavish parties at their home. The first house burned down, and was replaced with a lavish Queen Anne style Victorian mansion. But that is neither here nor there right now. They won’t plug charge their phones.

In fact when I saw Eleora, lounging on a couch, in a polka dotted white and navy sun dress, with a pink pilled up sweater over it, she looked at me with sad eyes. Did she mention her fall? No.

She asked me, “Why don’t your brothers or your parents ever call me?”

“Because your phone is never charged and you don’t check your messages, and you don’t even use email anymore,” I said, trying to keep from yelling. “What were you doing out in the pear orchard, by the drainage ditch?”

“I was checking to see if there were any bums out there. They used to camp out there during the depression and they’re still camping along the river. Homeless.”

“What if you had found someone? What if they’d hurt you?” I asked.

“I’m a Vampire Juliette. I would have eaten them and torn their heads off.” Then she and Tellias laughed and then he took her hand and they danced around the room.

“She would have eaten them,” said Tellias.

“Every one of them,” said Eleora.

“Every one of them,” said Tellias.

“And torn their heads off,” said Eleora.

“She found a rake I’d lost about thirty years ago,” said Tellias.

“I told you I’d find it,” said Eleora.

“Glad you did,” I said. I really was. Eleora had been asking about the rake for the past thirty years, non-stop.

“It was rusted out,” said Eleora.

“I figured as much,” I said.

“Rusted out,” said Eleora.

“Has anyone seen my truck keys?” Asked Tellias.

“They’re hanging on the hook in the hallway,” I said.

“Oh. I swore I’d lost them,” said Tellias.

“Swore he’d lost them,” said Eleora.

“Lost them,” said Tellias.

I turned to see both of my kids, and my son’s best friend Randy, standing in the doorway with boxes from the car.

Tellias and Eleora ran over to Clara, Garrett and, Randy covering their faces with kisses and hugging them.

“She found the rake,” I said.

“Oh good,” said Garrett, trying not to laugh.

We fixed iced tea, and cold blood over ice garnished with mint and sage leaves. Eleora showed off her quickly healing bruises and scratches.

Their neighbor John, a handsome man in his 60’s stopped by to say hello and fill in the blanks to the ditch story.

“You should have called me,” I told John.

Of course John said he’d call me next time. There have been dozens of next times he has promised to call me about but never followed through on.

Randy, who as usual, was wearing a vintage shirt from the 70’s with a panoramic scene across the front and back. He and Tellias talked fashion, or whatever it is they think they’re wearing. The more heinous the better is the rule with them. Randy is only twenty three so dressing like a mismatched old man looks cool on him. Sometimes I half expect to see him in sandals and dress socks, or worse red socks and sandals.

Almost twenty year old Clara sat with Eleora and held her hand as they talked about Clara’s transfer to the big university in Southern California that will happen in September.

Garrett and John helped me unpack bottles of Poet’s blood, cans of cat food (for the cat, not for the elders) and various other things I brought over. Tellias, who does most of the shopping often forgets to get things like cat food, and soap, and basic things we all need. When the elders want food they’ve taken to calling deliver services for food (Fill in the blanks. Nice warm blooded folks come to the door…) I have already told them not to call 911 to deliver handsome young sheriff officers for dinner.

I have to tell the elders not to do a lot of things. They never listen to me. Heads are nodded. I love you is said over and over. They smile with a coy hint of fang.

Eleora told Clara and me three more times that my brothers and parents never call her.

Before we left I checked the phone cords and made sure the chargers were put in outlets that hadn’t been switched off. I made sure everything was plugged in all the way and charging.

I reminded Tellias where his truck keys were, and where the other car keys were. I also reminded him to write down a list when he went out, and to even write down where he was going so he wouldn’t forget and drive half way to Timbuktu before he realized he was going to the hardware store for nails or a sprinkler part.

As we drove away, the three young adults and I, we waved to the elders, John, and the cat who all stood on the grand front porch of the beautiful Victorian home.

I was glad everyone was more or less alright, but couldn’t help but feel a little sad, and a little depressed. I always feel a little sad and a little depressed when I leave them. I feel the same way when I leave my house to go there. I feel that way whenever I think about them.

I can’t help it. I guess that is what happens when you love someone so much.

In a day or two I’ll call back. I know the phones won’t be charged. I’ll text John who will tell me he’ll check on it for me, but I know he’ll go over there and they’ll tell him their phones are charged. John will believe them and go home.

One more thought before I go. Summer is here. If you know someone who is elderly or needs extra help, make sure they have their air conditioning on when days reach triple digits. Make sure they’re ok, even if you have to drive that extra five or ten, or twenty miles when they don’t answer their phones. Tell them that you love them. Hold their hands and listen to them repeat the same stories over and over.

Be there.

Because they might be gone one day, even if they’re Vampires.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Frogs, Love, and Hell

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 – 10-12 inches. 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 110 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.

My neighbor and dear friend Kelly came over tonight with a couple of cold drinks (bless her). She isn’t a Vampire like we are. She suspects we’re different but can’t quite put a finger on it. She also has a ghost in her house (yes, that ghost.)

We sat for a while as she told me of her elderly mother and the heat. Her mother forgets to turn on the air conditioner. Her mother obsesses about bad neighbors but will not let her children or helpers put anything over the fence so to keep out the eyes of those bad neighbors. She asked Kelly to come over (it was 110 outside) to cut down a tree. Kelly said no. Her mother doesn’t know what yard the tree is growing in. Kelly tells her not to go outside and check because it is too hot and because she’ll fall and end up in the hospital – again. The same conversation has happened over and over – with a different plant, a hose, a stray cat, an unfamiliar car parked on the street, or something else that Kelly will either have to deal with or talk her way out of.

She wishes her mother would move to a house where she won’t worry about bad trees and bad neighbors and expensive up keep. Kelly has suggested a smaller home near Kelly and the grand kids. It would be nice with all sorts of beautiful features and a lovely garden within walking distance of Kelly’s home. The kids could visit anytime. Her mother refuses. So Kelly must hear about trees and drive to her mom’s to get the mail, and give up her Saturday fun time. Saturday fun time is important for working moms and all moms and busy women who work, and well, it is important for everyone.

She wishes she could travel and do fun things with her mother. She wishes they could talk more of things that are positive and fun – things that are not bodily functions or other unpleasant things that only bring Kelly stress.

Sometimes the heat can suck the fun out of everything. The heat of being a caretaker can do the same. It is exhausting. Especially if the caretaker has children of her own. Kelly told her kids to put her on an ice flow if she ever got to the point where she couldn’t take care of herself. She asked them to shoot her if she ever lost her sense of humor. I gave her a hug. We talked for another house about books we’ve read this summer. We agree that everyone MUST read “Beautiful Ruins.” Then she went home to spend time with her own teenage children (good friends with my kids.)

After slipping on the kitchen floor today on an unknown object and landing on my back, I lay there thinking that I’d better call The Elders. They’re ancient and sometimes don’t use the best judgement.

Eleorna and Tellias, frail and gentle, were fine. Their neighbor had brought over shaved ice flavored with basil and rosemary. God bless him. They remembered to bring their old dog in and give him plenty of water. They didn’t drive today because sometimes they forgot how to turn on the air conditioner and the sun was too bright and they had lost the keys again, so they stayed home. And they turned on the air conditioner in their beautiful 143 year old house and slept in each other’s arms like young lovers.

I’m always afraid that I’ll drop by their house and find nothing but their ashes. I’m afraid someone will take advantage of them. I’m afraid that one day they might be gone and I will have a broken heart that will never go away.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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For more on the elders in my life and dealing with the elderly (with humor or not) see the links below: