Smoke River

45957661_10215117865799152_6615037672144502784_n

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: A Ray of Hope (A Thanksgiving Story)

Thanksgiving is in Tahoe this year. My husband Justin’s family has a large beach front cabin. It is a 5,000 square foot cabin and two other smaller A frames within walking distance. Yes, they’re insanely rich, at least to me. They’re also incredible loving and giving and have taken me into their family as one of their own.

My mom left when I was five, taking my twin baby brother and sister with her. Dad said she said she was bored with her life. Bored with my dad and bored with me. I only saw her once after that. She’d poisoned the minds of my siblings by telling them that my dad was abusive. Her new husband gladly went along and encouraged it. My brother is now a successful motivational speaker. My sister is a teacher. I don’t talk to them. They don’t want to talk to me, but they like to talk about me, or somebody they say is me. I don’t care anymore.

When I was growing up Thanksgiving were small, like my grandparent’s two bedroom house – Just my dad, Grandpa and Grammy, and Uncle Ray. We’d gather around the kitchen table in Grammy’s kitchen and have a feast on old chairs covered with yellow vinyl. The table would be covered with turkey, green bean casserole, jellied cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with little marshmallows browned on top. Everything except the turkey came out of a can except the wine. The wine was from a box with ice cubes. It was great.

Uncle Ray lived with Grandpa and Grammy. He believed that at the age of 15 he was abducted by aliens and taken for a blinding fast tour of the universe and Planet X. Ray believed that Jesus was protecting bigfoot, unicorns and other rarely seen creatures so that when mankind finally killed itself off that those were the creatures who would rule the earth. A great gray wolf would lead dwarves and elves out from their underground kingdoms to live in peace. Aliens from space would set up trade routes to earth and help the new found order prosper.

Despite his weirdness Uncle Ray was accepted into UC Berkley and managed to obtain a degree in Political Science. With his knowledge of politics he began working on his plan for a new world order he’d build along with Jesus and the Bigfoots and elves.

Yes, Uncle Ray was nuts but I adored him. My dad protected him. My grandparents accepted him. The university where he occasionally taught a course tolerated him. He never married so I was the only child there for the holidays.

At night a few hours after pie and watching “Meet Me in St. Louis”, Ray and I would go outside. He’d grab a turkey leg and I’d take a wing. We’d munch on our turkey while Ray pointed out constellations and tell me about his time with the aliens and his love for Jesus.

Ray would always take my hand and solemnly tell me, “Jenna, what I’m telling you is real. I’m not crazy.” Then we’d go inside and have turkey races with some funky wind-up toys my Grandpa got for us. We’d laugh until our sides hurt.

My grandparents and Ray are gone now. Grandpa died in his sleep the year I graduated from college. Grammy had a stroke a few months later while at a prayer group. Three years ago Ray went hiking in Death Valley one spring and vanished. The rangers found his backpack, hiking boots and an empty water bottle. There was a note that said, “Tell Jenna that I love her.”

I still have the note.

Thanksgiving with my family was never fancy or exciting but I knew I was loved.

Right after I graduated away from college my dad remarried. I met my husband Justin and Thanksgiving dishes no longer involved food from cans or vinyl chairs.

This year dad and his wife Gracie went to Montana to visit friends for Thanksgiving. I knew I’d miss them but wished them a good time.

As Justin and I drove up into the mountains I thought about Ray as I looked out the car at the forests. Over the river and through the woods… When I was 16 Ray and I would drive up to the mountains to see the stars. I’d drive. He never learned how. In the cool summer nights we’d stand in a clearing at 8,000 feet and watch the endless show of zillions of stars and watch for shooting stars and satellites. Ray would tell me about the aliens who’d be back to get him. He’d tell me about how the ancient Greeks would navigate ships and come to America to visit. He’d tell me about planets that were inhabited by people so beautiful that our eyes would explode if we looked at them. He’d tell me that he’d been in love with a girl once and kissed her under the stars but she killed herself. He said he’d see her again. The aliens said they had taken her just before her soul was lost. Uncle Ray said to never be sad. He also told me over and over that he wasn’t crazy.

“What are the thinking about?” Justin startled me out of my reverie.

“My Uncle Ray. I miss him.”

Justin put his hand on mine. “I know honey, I know.”

Thanksgiving was spectacular. The food was amazing, the company was wonderful, the day was perfect. I’m blessed to be married into such a great family.

A few hours after dinner, after football and a lot of other fun, I took Justin by the hand and led him to the kitchen. I got myself a smoked turkey wing and gave Justin a leg, then poured two glasses of wine, minus the ice cubes and took him outside to watch the stars.

We talked about what fun we’d had that day. Then we talked about starting our own family, maybe trying to start that week.

A fireball sailed across the sky. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe a meteorite?

Justin held my hand and said, “It’s your Uncle Ray.”

I think it was.

 

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Good Intentions (Children of the Earth)

woodscello.jpg

From the VM archives from 2013. A Thanksgiving story from long ago.

Stay with me on this one…

After skate practice (roller) my daughter grabbed my purse for me and said “WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN THAT THING?”

I said “River rocks.”

She said, “I will never carry a purse and fill it full of crap.”

I told her that it was none of her business what I had in my purse or how much it weights.

And by the time we got to the car she said a gun in my purse would be heavy. Then I told her I didn’t have a carry permit and she said I didn’t need one. Yes, this is the 14 year old, but we have hypothetical conversations like this all the time so don’t worry about it. Anyway, she asked if she had a needle, like a knitting needle would that be considered a concealed weapon. I told her it was a matter of intent. Does she intend to knit a scarf or stab someone with her knitting needle? Intent is everything.

The the conversation moved on to bear spray. I could have bear spray without a carry permit, or at least I think I could, but hey, who is checking my bottomless bag of mystery and fear (what the kids call my purse.)

Clara said that bear spray would come in handy for the upcoming bear apocalypse. I wondered if bear spray would keep zombies away.

I’ve been up close and personal with a lot of black bears. They have run across paths I’ve hiked (with and without fish in their mouths). They’ve walked along beside me on trails (I kid you not, it was weird.) They have sniffed around my tent.

Grizzlies on the other hand are another matter. I’ve never seen one in the wild but I’ve come across their fresh prints. That even puts fear into the heart of the most hardened Vampire. Grizzlies CAN bite your head off. Really. No amount of bear spray is going to do the trick on a Grizzly. Yikes.

So the point of this, aside from the fact that we have a lot of silly conversations just for fun around here…is that a bear once lead my brother Val and I to an unusual place. It wasn’t our intent but it was where we were supposed to be, even though we were not supposed to be there.

It was 1932 and my brother Val and I were driving home for the holidays. We decided to drive rather than take the train. It provided us with more freedom and a chance to see some of the back roads of America. In 1932 almost everything was a back road compared to now.

Anyway, we packed up and took our Packard Dualcowl Pheaton on the road. What possessed me to wear silk and fur is beyond me now, but that is just how we did it in those days. Val as always looked dapper and totally relaxed. Val and I are less than two years apart in age and act and look too much alike to be taken as anything other than brother and sister.

So there we were driving on a dirt and gravel road with no name, through hills that are older than Vampires when something in our beautiful car blew and sputtered and stopped.

It was night, which is no big deal for us. We could see the eyes in the woods. No big deal. Woodland creatures respect as they respect all predators. Except there were bears who came cautiously close, black bears. We started to sing and the animals left. No need for bear spray, if we’d had bear spray.

“Now what?” I asked my brother. I was absolutely starving and needed food badly. Sure in a pinch an animal would do but human company would be nice. More than nice.

We walked down the road for a mile or two when we could smell the scent of human kind in the air and saw lights through the trees.

Then sounds. Mournful singing. Singing in weird monotone voices, pitched high and ancient sounding.

Country folk with age old songs that they handed down from generation to generation without benefit of written music or any written word. I was sure most of the singers couldn’t even write their own names.

A we came to the meeting house the door opened and an arm motioned for us to come in.

The room was full of folk, plain folk of all ages, singing with unified voices songs of the hills. They sang of life. They sang of lust and greed. They sang of love. They sang of God and the spirit that is deep in us all. They sang of all that they knew.

Then they looked at us in their poor clothing. We were rich city folk, but more than that.

“Don’t be afraid,” said a man who was obviously one of their leaders. “We know what you are. You’re people of the night. Show us your fangs.”

Val and I froze as they gathered around us. Then when our fear built up they started to sing.

We are all different
Children of the earth
God’s blessing
On us all
God’s blessing
On us all
There is no evil
Only fear
There is no evil
No evil here.

Then they sat us down and offered us their wrists. They told us stories of Vampires and spirits and Werewolves and ghosts. They told us of all creatures and of living in unity.

They said they’d welcomed us because we were lost. They invited us to join them at their Thanksgiving table. There would be fresh turkey and greens, cornbread and black eyed peas. There would be pie and root vegetables found in the forest. There would be kinship and understanding.

We stayed for the feast. And we talked of their kin and traditions. We also told them of our family.

They all wanted to touch us. They all wanted to share their blood with us. We sang the songs with them into the night. We learned their songs and they learned a few of ours – or at least some popular songs of the day.

Val and I slept through the day, and when night came again they walked us back to our car, which started just fine.

I think about those people with their bare feet and drab clothing. Their odd twangy voices that sang in unison like an unearthly wind or a chorus of lost angels.

And to this day Val and I are thankful. We never could find that road again and nobody we ever talked to knew of these folk we spent our Thanksgiving with. I’m sure they were real and not just ghosts in the woods. I’m sure this Thanksgiving one of their great grandchildren is listening to the story about the time those rich Vampires came to visit.

Thanksgiving isn’t just about who you want to be with, but maybe who you need to be with. We’re thankful for all of them. And thankful for the haunting memories of music and fellowship. Most of all we’re thankful for good intentions.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

1929 Packard

Giving Thanks and Sharing Joy (with Vampires)

This year the Thanksgiving table will be set with:

  • Spice and caramel scented candles
  • Pine cones, weird fancy gourds and rosemary centerpieces.
  • Cranberries
  • Zinfandel and Cabernet
  • Cheese balls and roasted tomato salsa (I bet you didn’t know cheese has balls)
  • Turkey from the smoker outside
  • Poets blood
  • Roasted onion tart with a ground walnut crust
  • Tart apples, sweet pears and pomegranates.
  • Surprise dishes that others will bring (but I know they’ll be good)
  • And a table set with old silver and old friends.

Once again our feast will be simple but the main courses will be good conversation and the joy of being together for no reason other than to enjoy the company of those we love and be thankful that we are free to gather together without fear.

As a rule we don’t have our guests for dinner. It isn’t the way of our Vampire culture, so feel free to drop by (it will be safe.)

My brother Max is already here sitting in the wingback chair, his long legs stretched out, reading something in a binder, and my calico cat in his lap. Garrett is home with a couple of friends from college. They’re upstairs with my youngest Clara, laughing and listening to music.

Tomorrow will be a full moon so we will be watching to hear the howls of our Werewolf friends.

I look out into the woods behind my house, under the oak trees I can see the Ghosts, standing close. Nigel holds Mary’s hands and brings them to his lips. Then he kisses her and they vanish into the dusk off to wherever Ghosts go when they’re feeling romantic. They are so beautiful and so horrible at the same time.

As we give thanks this year let us remember that those who live so far away are not so different than us. My we all one day give thanks together, no matter where we are, or where we belong.

I gave Max a glass of wine and asked him what he was reading.

He smiled, “I’m reading a wonderful book. Your book.”

If Max thinks something is good then it is good. Wow. I’m thankful it is written and that everyone who read it likes it. No, it isn’t based on this blog or my life.

I give him a kiss on his cold cheek. He smiles at me showing just a slight bit of fang. I’m excited that everyone else will be here by Thursday.

I’ll try to cover the entire holiday season starting right now. So more to come… there will be a few glitches but you know how it is.

Oh, one last thing. I’m grateful for all of you – my readers. More than I can express. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Light the evening

Thankful

Wishing you all

A Thankful Day

With warm beating hearts

Cool clear minds

Of friends and family

And peace in your souls.

 

In the quiet of the night I think of what I am thankful for this year. The list is too long to write down. It hasn’t always been that way – or so it seemed. But what you see isn’t always with your eyes. What you see isn’t even always with your heart. It is clarity of seeing the big picture and coming to peace and being thankful and letting go and letting in.

Holy crap… excuse me…

A ghost was staring at me through the window. It was a pale shadow of a large unfortunate bird. Standing next to it was the ghost of a man with dark shaggy hair and a black suit with a skinny tie. He silently mouthed the words “Be thankful Vampire.” Then he took the gruesome form of his own death then smiled then vanished. Oh please spare me the dramatics. I know you’re a ghost. Get over trying to haunt me. It isn’t going to work.

I hate it when he does that. On the other hand, he usually flips me off so I have to be thankful for that.

I AM Thankful,

For each and one of everyone of you

who visits my blog.

I’m thankful for all of you who write

to make me think and laugh and ponder.

I’m thankful for everyone who creates the art I look forward to each day.

I’m thankful for so much,

even sometimes… for a ghost

of the past, present or future.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

shaker_window_small

Modern Vampire Thanksgiving Wishes

My teens and their friends are all off to the movies to see either Frozen or Enders Game. We all saw Catching Fire last weekend (thumbs up all around – and yes, we read all of the books and love them.)

Movies are a great opportunity for young Vampires to get out and have fun, socialize, see a movie and well, of course, do their Vampire thing. We’ve always trusted our children out after dark, because after all, we are nocturnal creatures.

Teddy and I are going to be homebodies tonight before the big day tomorrow. I have almost everything done and now I just relax. Tomorrow morning we throw the turkey in the smoker, a few things in the oven and we’re done. Macy’s Day parade, a nap, then get up to watch football and a 6:00 Thanksgiving Dinner (always better at night after the sun goes down.)

This year it will be a few family members but mostly friends and a lot of teens. It will be a party.

While I was cleaning stains out of the carpet today I turned on “Almost Human.” I’d never seen it before so I thought I’d check it out. It takes place in the future (about 40 years from now). It is about a damaged cop and his partner, an android who has feelings (and is absolutely darling but in a good non annoying way.) They’re both, cop and android, sort of lost souls and different from others, or at least they feel that way. I can relate.

I think most of my friends can relate too.

But that’s ok. It is ok to be different. That is one of the things I’m most Thankful for is that we ARE all so different.

It is those little personality quirks that make us unique and interesting. Granted sometime annoying, but if we can look past some of the annoying habits, it can be charming.

My friend Matthew and his son Josh and Matthew’s sister Katrina are coming. Josh is a typical 16 year old. Matthew and Katrina are positively Gothic Vampires. And I don’t mean modern cool and lovely Gothic. I mean, “living in a crypt” sort of Gothic. This will be their first modern Thanksgiving  with Modern Vampires. They’re learning a new culture and we embrace them. Sure they’ll be weird in their “I live in a dank, dark Castle with rabid bats and sleep on beds made of cobwebs” sort of way, but after a few glasses of blood, maybe some wine and some spinach dip they’ll be fine.

My husband Teddy even promised to explain all the jokes to them.

So anyway, my goal is for fun and drama free. No discussions on politics or religion or old sour issues that don’t even matter anymore. We are gathering in love and fun to celebrate what we’re Thankful for.

I wish all of you the same. A relaxing day with people you love, good food and brilliant and witty conversations, and football. Maybe even a movie.

To all of my readers – I am so thankful for all of you. I really am. I feel blessed to have you following my tall tales of Vampire teens, friends and family and my musings on life and love.

And to those I follow – YOU ROCK. You know who you are and you’ve opened my mind and entertained me like there is no tomorrow. Thank you.

So gobble gobble and cheers.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman