Archive for the ‘the bad economy’ Category

Laundering money

Friday, July 16th, 2010

By Tiber

Soledad is one of Mom and Dad‘s maids and a sweeter person you will never meet, always cheerful, always smiling.

With Dad’s current money problems, though, he had to tell Soledad he’d have to cut back on what he could pay her to do. She could continue to live here, of course, and with so many other people still living here too, she could go on helping out Cook and washing items like the sheets and towels. But no longer could he pay her to do the regular laundry.

My sister, Vanessa, was here visiting today and I saw Soledad take some clothes from her right after money had changed hands. Later, I confronted Vanessa and she said,

“Okay, okay, so I pay Soledad to do some of my laundry. She told us she was fine with it.”

 “What do you mean, ‘us?'”

Vanessa shuffled a little, which is very unusual for her.

“Who else is doing this besides you? Duncan? Kru? Well, not Erin or Iris Nell…Mom?!?”

I got a yes to all.

 “And Dad?!?”

“No, no, he still sends his out. Come on, Tiber, it’s not as if Dad wanted us to go down to a stream.”

Now that I think about it, of course, I can’t even imagine Mom going down to the basement.

“So you’re saying that, lately, the only people actually doing any laundry around here are me and Soledad.”

“Pretty much.”

I think I’m beginning to see at least a partial source of Soledad’s perpetual happiness. She’s been running a successful underground black market using only soap and a washing machine.

And now she makes more money than I do.

Brother, can you spare a mil?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

By Tiber 

My parents’ maid, Gabby, like so much of the world, is obsessed with celebrities. She worships them. Once in awhile, one of our family members will want to confirm some gossip about somebody famous and no matter how obscure it is, Gabby will always know all about it.

Also, like many other people, Gabby thinks that the celebrities she loves, love her right back.

And with Dad having money problems, Gabby figured out a new way to hang onto her job. She decided to contact her favorite celebrities and ask them for money. They’re still rich, so why not?

To her disappointment, though, all she got back were some autographed pictures, no cash. She’d failed in her quest but she still wanted my parents to know that she’d tried, so she explained what she had done, and told them that, at least, they could keep the photos.

My parents, of course, were horrified that she’d contacted any Hollywood people at all and said there was no need to ask anyone for money. Gabby replied that she was relieved to know this since she’d been about to start hitting up the world’s royal families.

On hearing this, my father suddenly paused, until Mom smacked him with a rolled-up magazine.

Mom then worried that maybe they’d hurt Gabby’s feelings and she told her how much they still appreciated her efforts. And then Mom lied and said that she and Dad would be honored to each have one of the photographs Gabby had offered.

Mom just took the first one on the stack but it still pleased Gabby very much. Dad instantly went for the photo five pictures down which “happened” to be some reality star in a bikini bottom. And with that, at least two of them were pleased.

Home sweet theme park

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

By Tiber

I knew I was feeling an ill-defined urge to flee when Dad, suddenly, called us all outside for a family meeting.

He said that to bring in some extra income, maybe we could do what some British families, who also live in big country houses, do – open up part of the house and grounds to the public.

“The tickets would be much less than people would have to pay if they went to a big amusement park.”

“And with good reason,” Vanessa observed.

Undaunted, Dad continued. “Well, obviously, my wonderful children, we’ll have to put in some attractions. And all of you can contribute, depending on how much free time you have.”

I knew he was looking right at the now-downsized king of free time. Me.

“We could do a haunted woods attraction,” my sister, Erin, volunteered.

“That’s very good! What sort of scary thing could we put in there?”

“How about Duncan’s triplets, just sitting on little chairs?”

Dad started to write this down before he realized what she’d said.

“…No! That’s not funny!”

Duncan made a face at Erin but she does better ones right back and he recoiled.

My sister-in-law, Honor, reminded me of my pending nightmare.

“Maybe guests could observe when Tiber starts making our goat cheese.”

Duncan guffawed. “Plus, when so much of it goes bad, we can build a Disneyland Matterhorn out of it!”

“Oh, yeah?” I retorted, “Well, we can also do ‘It’s a Small World’ if you’ll just flash your-”

Duncan jumped me at that point and we soon were rolling around all over the ground. Unfortunately, the goats had gotten there first and the rising smell gave most of the family a valid excuse to run away.

“Stop it! Both of you! Get up!” Dad yelled.

“And in any event,“ he said, “I’ve decided not to have Tiber learn to make goat cheese, after all.”

That was the best news I’ve ever had since, I don’t know, birth.

But Dad just had to go on.

“No, I’m thinking instead, since we still have the goats…that maybe we can make some painted goat carts, you know, with cute little flowers on them and bells. And Tiber can start giving people rides in them, all over the grounds.”

I’ve fallen into hell. And that’s the tricky thing about hell. When you fall there, you just keep right on going.


“You say tomato and I say, ‘It’s alive! It’s alive!'”

Sunday, June 20th, 2010


By Tiber

Dad’s still toying with the insane idea of saving money by having me make goat cheese for the family. My guess is, the only reason for the delay is that since the goats he brought home now know me, they’re trying to take him to court.

In the meantime, Dad has chosen  my sister, Iris Nell, to grow some more of our food. I don’t mean like cattle or wheat, though for all I know, those may be next. He’s had her plant a kitchen garden, where she’s growing herbs and vegetables.

Of course, you always have to take Iris Nell’s personality quirks into account, as you do with all of us, since our quirks are the kind that can suddenly leap out, block your path and taunt you by stripping off their underwear and throwing it in your face, blinding you to the location of the exit. Or maybe that’s just me. Actually, let’s pray that’s just me.

Iris Nell has, at least,  had a little experience with growing tomatoes. When she was a kid, somebody gave her a little plant in a pot. She took good care of it and it began to produce, yes, actual, real tomatoes! This blew Iris Nell away. She’d sit there and stare at the produce on the vines, marveling,

“I made these!”

I think it made her feel sort of like a god. And my parents let it go, thereby setting her up for a lifetime of disappointment when she couldn’t also flick lightning bolts to zap the unkind.

The thing was, though, she could never bring herself to actually eat the perfect little tomatoes, which sort of defeated the purpose. She may have had them bronzed for all I know, so we can only hope that she’s moved along from that stage.

In a way, I understood her feelings. When you’re a kid, you just don’t expect to see some item they sell in a store suddenly appear in your own backyard just because you watered it.

It’s almost like creating your own cat just because you buried a flea collar.

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.

Goat Cuisine

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010


By Tiber

Well, another one of my nightmares has materialized. Just as Dad promised, he has actually brought home three female goats to join Fletcher, the goat that Iris Nell rescued. I thought maybe I was safe because of their cost but since Dad normally has to hire outside gardeners to help Nestor mow the big grounds here, he says that having goats do the mowing will save him a considerable amount right there.

And then, of course, he has this idea that since I’m unemployed, I can now learn how to make goat cheese and we’ll all save money on food. I can’t even make a good cheese sandwich and now I’m supposed to create the cheese?!? This is like giving someone a car but telling them that first they’ll have to invent the tire.

When I had another job interview today and again soon saw it slipping away, I begged them to hire me. I said flat-out that I wanted the position desperately “or I will have no choice but to go out and milk goats!!!” I meant to sound enthusiastic about their employment but looking back on it, I think I just sounded, I don’t know, bat-barkingly psycho.

Of course, it’s not Fletcher the goat’s fault. I like him. I went down to the pen to see him but clearly, he’d already shared the news about me with the females. There was an unmistakable rolling of their eyes and cocking of their heads in my direction as they brayed to Fletcher, “This is the clown you were talking about?!?”

I think even Fletcher looked at me differently. It’s one thing  just to be hiking pals but it’s something else when your buddy is elected, “King of Curds.”

God help me. How could this happen? I was a suit! Suddenly, I’m going to have to completely re-title my future autobiography. Now I’ll have to make it, “From Go-Getter to Goatherd: My Descent into Cheese.”

And a beanie for your bunny

Saturday, May 29th, 2010


By Tiber

As I wrote about in my April 2010 post, “So Tell Us, Who Is Your Rat Wearing?“ my sister, Iris Nell, has been putting together a website to sell her own custom-made all-weather gear for pets other than cats and dogs.

And to my amazement, anyway, she’s actually gotten some orders. Mom, who to everyone’s amazement, is helping her sew, and Iris Nell keep going on and on about how cute all of this tiny attire is.  But frankly, it’s just creeping me out.

Besides the “mice macs and bunny breeches” she said she was making, Iris Nell has also made these little head scarves for iguanas. She tied one on her stuffed iguana mannequin to get a feel for it and when she whipped that babushka-sporting thing around for me to look at, all I could think was, “Contest winner for ‘World’s Ugliest Grandma!’”

Next up were her hamster capes. I actually dreamed about those and it was not pleasant. Suddenly, the caped hamsters were the Spartans in “300” if the Spartans were four inches tall and considerably more furry. And they were kicking my butt!

Now granted, I’ve never claimed to live a Spartan existence but still, these were Spartan hamsters! With pickle-jar lids for shields! Of course, they did have abs- even if those abs were about the size of M & M’s. And yes, okay, even candy-sized, they were still more rock-hard than mine.

I woke up sweating and trying to hide my stomach. I’ve heard of people having phobias about a lot of things. But no therapist in the country is going to treat me if I start getting panic attacks over tiny clothing.

The LitterAce Man

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

By Tiber

Since Dad decreed that everyone in the family now has to get a job (and no one can actually do anything), my brother Duncan has managed to come up with some work  for our younger brother Kru.

Duncan happened to notice our cat, Paracelsus, heading for his cat box. And inspiration struck. Duncan got to thinking about cat sand being heavy. What a nuisance it must be, especially for women, to have to keep buying it and toting it home. Somebody should start a service that delivers cat litter directly to your door. The service could even haul the used cat sand away! Duncan ran the idea by Kru and The LitterAce Man was born.

Kru has a friend whose father loaned him an old truck that had hauled who-knows-what in its original life. But it has a handy spigot in back that allows cat sand, bought cheaply in bulk, to be poured out into any size bag requested.

And the customers have appeared. It’s hard work, toting all of that sand into homes all day long but Kru, by far the fittest of us all, has really taken to this job. And according to him, the women on his route have really taken to him.

Kru thinks there must be some sort of attraction hardwired in females, about seeing a guy lugging something heavy over his shoulder – you know, like a prehistoric alpha male hoisting a dead sabre-tooth tiger back home to the cave. I reminded Kru that he was just a guy toting dead kitty litter back to the utility room.

 “Hey, the hormones released are the same!” he snapped.

He may have a point. To be truthful, I laughed out loud when I first heard about this job. But now, suddenly, women are asking Kru if he might want to stay on for awhile and have a cup of coffee. I’m the one sitting here with the cute cat but Kru, armed only with the cat sand, may soon be getting a lot more than a sandwich.