Archive for the ‘Dad’ Category

If these walls could talk, they’d slur their words

Friday, February 4th, 2011

By Tiber

It’s freezing.

Dad even made Cook’s sister, Saskia, come stay in the main house instead of the gatehouse.

Dad has started worrying, though, that with everybody being inside so much, we aren’t going to stay very fit.

We have a gym on the third floor but not everyone uses it so Dad decided to organize a speed walk all over the house, for family and staff alike.

Kru and I, who do use the gym, were not thrilled about this at all and I was really glad – but surprised – when he pulled me to the back of the moving pack and then popped open the secret panel in the library that leads to a little hidden room.

We learned when we were kids that there are secret passages all over the house. And little brother had stashed some sandwiches in here, so in we went. I didn’t think Kru was that organized. Or that devious.

But suddenly, the hidden panel crashed open again. Busted! It was Dad.

How did he even know where to look for us? Of course, we’d forgotten that he’d spent his own childhood in this house so he’d found all the secret rooms too.

Plus, it turns out he knows even more than we do. Rather than being mad, he just headed over and popped open a panel in the little room that we’d never even noticed before and handed out three microbrews.

“What?!?” he asked as we sat there, staring at him. “Sometimes a man’s gotta get away.”

Kru nodded and gave Dad a sandwich. And we all kicked back until the sound of twenty other exhausted people jogging finally faded away in the distance.

The Bicycle Thief – The Sequel

Thursday, December 16th, 2010


By Tiber

You may recall when Mom decided to bring in some extra cash too and she got a job in the office of the soup kitchen where she normally volunteers.

Of course, as she pointed out at the time, since she was then working there and not just volunteering, she couldn’t very well ignore that the food and the table settings weren’t that good.

So Dad started getting new bills for catering, linens and the dreaded “Trevor’s Floral Fantasies.“ When Mom ordered 25 ergonomic chairs for the job training room, though, Dad’s head exploded and it was decided that Mom, while a wonderful rich person to have around, did not do “budgeting” well at all and her career at the Mission was quickly over.

Now, she’s done it again.

A friend of hers, who volunteers at a charity thrift shop in one of the nearby towns asked Mom to help out since, sadly, there are a lot more customers these days. Mom would again just be volunteering and taking customers’ money, so that seemed safe enough on the expenditure front.


Mom, to her credit, really got into moving the merchandise and she got more than she had expected from selling an old bicycle.

The problem was, the bicycle had not been for sale. It had belonged to a little boy who was across the room, picking out some small, used Christmas gifts for his only family member, his poor, invalid grandmother who raised him.

Charles Dickens came by the shop and said, “Dear God, no, this is too sad for even me to write about.”

You can imagine how bad Mom felt. That bicycle was the family’s sole form of transportation so, obviously, she had to buy the boy a new one. Plus, a helmet. And some new sneakers. And socks. And a plasma flat-screen TV because poor Grandma had always dreamed of one, so that even though she couldn’t afford to buy anything on the Shopping Networks, at least she could finally see all of the beautiful things people kept talking about.

Therefore, Mom’s day of volunteering at the Thrift Shop cost Dad a little over $2000.

He tried explaining the term ”thrift” to Mom. “It’s even written on the front of the store, Gwen!!!”

But, finally, he just gave up.

What was he going to do? He didn’t want the kid to be without transportation either.

Of course, Mom may or may not know that her own transportation options are now going to be much more limited. Dad has been trying to con all the rest of us into playing, “this really fun Christmas game I heard about! It’s called ‘Who Can Be The Most Successful In Permanently Hiding Mom’s Car?'”

Gnomes, phone home

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

By Tiber 

Dad hates confronting women and here he’s had to do it twice in one week. He finally accepted that he really had no choice but to confront his own sister, our Aunt April, about the sea of other peoples’ garden gnomes we’d discovered up in the attic.

He flat-out asked her, “April, did you steal those garden gnomes?”

She tried to finesse it by retorting, “Completely insane people would do that!!!”

But Dad came back with, “Anybody can steal a roomful of garden gnomes but in this case, was it you?”

This left her nowhere to go so she confessed but, of course, that was quickly followed by “But wait! It’s not what you think!”

I have always said that someday we will find our family crest. And when we translate the Latin motto below it, it will undoubtedly read, “But, Wait! It’s Not What You Think!”

“Jack, I would never steal something just because I coveted it.”

This was a relief to Dad until she continued, “But I have no problem with removing someone’s family member if I feel it’s being mistreated,” sending Dad’s relief right out the window.

“Okay, maybe I took too many,” Aunt April admitted,  “but once you see the need in one set of eyes, you see it in all of them.”
So this is where my “save-the-world” sister, Iris Nell, gets this gene! Dad, however, does not have this gene.

“Their eyes are not needy because they’d need actual eyes to express the need that they need you because they’re needy!!!”

Clearly, Dad was losing it too.

“All right, April, what would you say about returning the gnomes?”

“I’d say. ‘no.’”

“You’re returning the gnomes!!!”

“All right!!!”

He won’t make her go up to anybody’s door so I can already see that this will involve lobbing gnomes back over garden walls and someone will be hit and die. The tabloids will excitedly pick this up as, “Will the Gnome Killer Strike Again?!?”

And then, my “save-the world” sister, Iris Nell, will hear about this, think that someone is killing garden gnomes, decide the gnomes should then all be put into protective custody somewhere, somewhere like an attic, say – and we’ll all end up right back where we started.

“Price.” With a “p.” You know. As in “pterodactyl.”

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

By Tiber 

One of Dad’s pet peeves is people who work in customer service who say they speak English when they really can’t.

He does have an argument since, to his credit, whenever he travels to a foreign country, even if it’s just  for a day, he always learns at least a few phrases of the local language.

Consequently, when customer service employees can’t understand what he’s saying, he’s always more than happy to spell things out for them.

He‘ll say, “That’s ‘k’ as in ‘knife.’”

Or, “No, no, ‘h’…as in ‘heir!'”

Or “p” as in “pneumonia,” “w” as in “wrench,” “o” as in “opossum.”

He always gets the English-speaking supervisor to help him out very quickly. And he never even needs to ask.

Sneezy, grumpy, dopey, doc

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

By Tiber

Yes, that’s right. Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, Doc. The Four Dwarfs of the Apocalypse. My father has a cold.

This may not seem like breaking news but, believe me, when it happens, it pretty much breaks everything. They ought to put one of those honking warnings on TV, like the ones that say a tornado is coming. My father does not do sick well.

When we were little, Dad always carried a whistle that he’d blow if he wanted a kid to do something. This was how we all discovered the hidden passageways in the walls, because when that whistle would blow, you did not want to be the last person visible.

Today, that whistle was going off again, louder than ever. Plus, my mother had given Dad a bell to ring in case he wanted her and that too was bonging away, because Dad was beating it onto those old buzzers that still run over to the staff wing. Within minutes, a huge crowd was in his room, fearing that he was being attacked. But no, it’s just a cold.

When Dad’s well, he can easily have five projects going on but when he’s sick, he suddenly remembers twenty things that need doing immediately.

On seeing my father’s pallor, though, Cook had her own concerns. “This isn’t food poisoning…is it? I mean, no one’s dead, right?”

My mother reassured her that, no, it was just a simple cold, to which my father replied, ”Simple?!? You call my agonized and excruciating misery SIMPLE?!?”

And then Dad goes from belligerent geezer to pouty four year-old.

 “I want some ice chips. Cook, can you make me some that look like stars?”

That was it for my mother.

“Cook is not going to waste her time making you ice cube stars. How about if I hit an ice tray with a hammer and you can pretend the pieces are snowflakes?” I think she was being sarcastic but Dad said that sounded nice. So the rest of us ran away.

I will say this, though, we’re all pretty healthy.  And maybe this is one reason why. We’re all related to Dad and, God knows, no one wants to look like this.

Raise the drawbridge, lower the Dad…She’s living in the gatehouse and you shall not pass

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

By Tiber

Here Dad is trying to cut expenses and now he’s got another person living here.

Cook’s sister, Saskia, just lost her job and her husband.

As a side note, when did women start getting so big? I don’t mean fat. I just mean big. Cook’s taller than I am and Saskia’s even bigger than she is. I really think her husband may not have left so much as just run away. Duncan’s always maintained that the reason Cook never knew her father was because he was actually a sasquatch. And with the appearance of this giant sister, he claims this confirms it.

“Her name’s even Saskia! She’s named after him!”

Duncan is going to get us all killed one day by the simple use of his mouth.

Anyway, Cook asked Dad if her sister could live here until things get better. Knowing that money’s tight right now, though, she had already worked out the perfect space and job for her. She could be our gatekeeper! Our house was built long before security cameras and for almost a hundred  years, someone did live in the gatehouse and screen visitors.

So, even though Dad has still kept on his regular security guys, as a favor to Cook, he said yes to Saskia living in the gatehouse.

“You won’t even know she’s there!” Cook assured him.


Dad knows all too well that she’s there.  Because of her ex-husband, maybe Saskia’s wary of all men now. But for whatever reason, she never remembers who Dad is. And every time he drives in or even out, she throws herself in front of his car, yelling, “Halt! Who goes there?”

Dad’s feeling less and less like a man just coming back home with his dry cleaning and more and more like a barbarian salivating  to storm the castle.

Without the cape fear

Monday, June 21st, 2010

By Tiber

With a house this big, we often have a lot of overnight guests. And more than once, someone has set up, shall we say, a friendly nocturnal visit to a bedroom other than his or her own. The problem, though, with so much house, is that you can easily lose track of the exact bedroom you’re seeking.

This happened again last night, when a male guest burst into one of the other bedrooms naked, to surprise his lady friend. He leaped up onto the bed in the dark and yelled, “Even Zorro would envy this mighty sword!” This was news to my grandparents who, up until then, had been asleep in there.

Mortified, the male guest fled, but to his credit, he did show up for breakfast in the morning, trying to pretend that nothing had happened. He didn’t look anyone in the face, however, and because of this, he never noticed that, courtesy of my father, who thought it was hysterical, all of the men at the table, my grandfather included, were wearing small, black masks.

Brunty, Dad’s forever out-of-the-loop butler, did notice.  He leaned down to whisper to my father at the table and with his eyes still focused on the other men, neglected to realize that my father was wearing a black mask too.

“I think you should be on guard, sir.”  Brunty confided.  “It has come to my attention that some of the guests may be planning a heist.”

Mom’s on a Mission

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

By Tiber

Now Mom has been fired from her new job. Well, to be honest, she wasn’t fired, as much as removed.

With Dad’s need for more money, when Mom heard about a part-time job in the office of the local soup kitchen where she volunteers, she applied for it and got it.

This weekend, though, my father noticed some new bills coming in and he asked my mother about them.

“Didn’t we stop ordering food from ‘Carousel Catering?’”

My mother explained with her usual calm logic that when she’d only volunteered at the soup kitchen, she didn’t feel that it was her place to criticize, well, the soup. Or any of the other food, for that matter. But now that she worked there and represented the establishment itself, she couldn’t very well ignore the fact that the food wasn’t that good. So she’d called in some help.


My father kept on reading the credit card bill.

“There’s also a charge here for ‘Lux Linens.’”

“Well, once you have better food, you have to have a better looking table.”

“Which would also explain the dreaded return of  ‘Trevor’s Floral Fantasies.’”

“Centerpieces, Jack! What else are the people going to look at across the table?”

“Each other, Gwen!” Dad roared. “They can look at each other!!! Nobody on this planet can have too many friends!!!”

Of course, Dad was yelling because he was still losing the argument. But Mom had truly overstepped which Dad saw when he finally got to the bill for modern furniture.

“And it says you also placed an order for 25 ergonomic chairs.”

“That’s right. They’re for the job training room. And don‘t forget. Some of these people have been outside standing on their feet all day.”

Dad was starting to turn the color of an eggplant so Mom played what, to her, was her ace.

“You seem to be forgetting, Jack, but I’m now pulling down my own salary!”

“Which you will have to keep pulling down for the next 97 years to pay for the damned chairs!”

That may have been a slight exaggeration. But probably not by much.

So that was the end of Mom at the Mission.

The chairs probably would have been nice. But they were not to be. My mother is exactly the kind of rich person you want around, gracious, thoughtful and unfailingly generous. Poor? She doesn’t do poor very well.