Archive for the ‘the family’ Category

You give me fever

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011


By Tiber 

Doesn’t it seem as if this winter has gone on for about 18 months?

Yesterday, Brunty, my parents’ butler, went outside, looked around, saw his shadow and came right back in.  A groundhog does that and it predicts six more weeks of winter.

Would our butler be similar to a groundhog?

Let’s see. Disappearing suddenly as if into a burrow? Hibernating? Not appearing to work at a job? Check, check and check.

And the rest of us, being cooped up for such a long winter, have all got cabin fever or, in this case, country-house fever.

Anyone can get it. I guess you could get houseboat fever or igloo fever too.

With us, though, a game of indoor hockey inevitably breaks out.

The dogs play their own excellent game of snout-hockey and Mom, of course, would like it if there was no hockey. But Dad’s usually leading the charge so there’s not much she can do.

And it wouldn’t be a successful game unless we broke something.

This time, we slammed the puck (actually one of those cans of Spam that Dad can’t get anyone to eat) right into the little elevator controls.

Now, it’s gone haywire and all night long, it kept coming up and going back down all by itself.

Actually, we’re praying that it’s all by itself. The only thing worse than living in a haunted house as we do, is if your ghosts suddenly send out invitations and  all of their friends start coming over.

Silent Night, Happy Night

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

By Tiber 

You may remember that last year at Christmas, Dad found a box of real 19th century clothing up in one of the attic rooms and proceeded to dress us up as Charles Dickens-style carolers so we could try to make some money at the mall.

Of course, there wasn’t enough of the 19th century clothing to go around, so Dad had to raid a box of 1920’s and 30’s clothing to fill in. Vanessa ended up looking more like a hooker in a speakeasy and Kru looked more like Scrooge’s accountant so this alone should have tipped us off that the project was doomed.

We got to the mall and auditioned out on the floor, only to realize, belatedly, that none of us knew all of the words to a lot of the carols. Dad panicked on “Oh, Tannenbaum” and instead started singing about his old college friend, Joe Tannenbaum.

And even with “Jingle Bells.” somebody replaced “riding in a one-horse open sleigh” with “riding in a Porsche Cabriolet,” which we then had no choice but to follow. Dad was furious and said later that we’d taken a lovely song about festive bells and turned it instead into a Christmas carol about German engineering.

In spite of it all, though, Dad optimistically thought that we might still get a call from the mall for a return appearance this year. That call did not arrive.

So Dad called all of us together around the piano here at the house and asked if we wanted to sing, just with the family. He turned around to pick up some sheet music and all twelve of the rest of us had disappeared instantly, like mist in a forest.

When we don’t want to do something, we can all vanish into thin air, thick air, medium-sized air faster than a frog tongue on a mosquito. I think we would all make very good spies.

So whether your family is singing well, singing badly or even not at all, Happy Holidays to you and have a New Year that is bright.

Gobble Gobble. Or not.

Thursday, November 25th, 2010


By Tiber

As you may recall, last year, in order to save money, Dad bought cases of Spam and tried to get us to eat it. Consequently, Dad still has cases of Spam.

This year, what with over 20 people here for Thanksgiving just with family and staff alone, Dad suggested that rather than buying an expensive turkey, we could model the Spam to look like one. Cook wouldn’t participate for professional – and sane – reasons, so Dad ended up doing it himself. Dad is no sculptor and the end result really looked a lot more like a bulbous pink stomach that had somehow escaped from a Pepto-Bismol commercial.

We still have the two peacocks, so my sister, Iris Nell, instantly jumped up and announced that anybody getting any ideas at all about them would have to kill her first.

So we made a meal out of the side dishes. My brother, Kru, sat there morosely trying to build a turkey out of his mashed potatoes and looked more and more like Richard Dreyfuss, in “Close Encounters,” after the aliens had zapped his brain.

Someone suggested that, for fun, the triplets could make those turkey pictures where you draw an outline of your outstretched hand. This was quickly vetoed. Not only are they about six years too old for that but knowing them, if you add a lack of protein into their everyday selves, they could easily just end up eating their own hands.

Finally, my sister, Erin, said,

“The point is, we’re all together!”

And instantly, people were yelling out things like,

“It’s not my fault!”

“I tried to lock him in his room but he got out anyway!”

“I told them Thanksgiving was in December this year but it still didn’t work!”

And then, we all realized that she’d meant it as a good thing.

And, truthfully, it was.

So Happy Thanksgiving from all of us to all of you and yours.

Going full Superman, going full Supermonty

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

By Tiber 

My younger brother, Kru, still has his cat sand delivery business but he decided that maybe he could bring in even more by making up a new superhero persona and then doing stunts and personal appearances. So he asked the family for ideas on who he could be.

I thought, “Come on, dude, you know us! Don’t you know we’ll either a) hurt your feelings or b) get you killed?” And yet he persisted.

Duncan suggested Kru become “Intensive Care Man” in honor of where so many of his stunts have landed him in the past.

Iris Nell thought he could be “Sadman”.


“Because sometimes you are!”

She came over and gave him a hug to make him feel better but I still think seeing a big, old “Sadman” signal in the sky would just depress everybody.

Erin had the best idea. She came up with “Recession Man.”

“Don’t come around here, Kru, because we’ll all vomit but ‘Recession Man’ could be the first superhero who doesn’t even have the money to be able to afford a suit! And believe me, even though it’s you, there are bound to be people who will pay to see that.”

Back to normal, or as close as we come to it

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

By Tiber

Thankfully, it turned out that the fire alarm went off the other night due to faulty wiring. There wasn’t a fire at all. Dad, however, was still so pleased with himself for leading us all out to safety, I thought he was going to plant a flag.

The staff, as I mentioned before, all drifted away when they got outside so Dad wouldn’t be reminded of how many people he’s paying. This meant that, later, they needed to sneak back inside one at a time, in hopes that he wouldn‘t spot them then either.

Kru looked out the window and said it was like watching an old cartoon, where, periodically, someone would tip-toe wildly across an open space, disappear behind a very thin tree trunk and then make a crazed run for the house.

Mom, unfailingly polite, was so worried about dragging the firefighters over here in the middle of the night, that she asked them all to come in and enjoy some mulled wine. They thanked her but said they really couldn’t drink on the job. Plus, I suspect they had more important calls than ours that probably included actual flames.

It was only after they left that Mom remembered, with horror, that no one had thought to help the unknown old woman up in the attic. Dad reminded Mom that there hadn’t actually been any danger. But he did concede that if there were, we couldn’t very well go upstairs and wander around in the hope of finding her again.

Unlike the firemen, the unknown old lady did drink that bottle of wine that Mom took up there last New Year’s and more than one of us has heard her rooting around up there since then. But after Mom’s stumbling upon her that one time,  she’s become more and more like the “yeti in the attic.” We’ve all heard of  her but there hasn’t been another actual sighting.

Mom said the least we could do was to leave a map up there showing where all of the house exits are located.

“And I really should give her another bottle of wine.”

Dad just rolled his eyes and said, “You keep this up and she’s just going to want more.”

But I say, pursuers of the world’s mysteries, take note! You’d be a lot more likely to spot that yeti if,  first, you would only get him drunk.

Jack Daddy to the Rescue or It’s Alarming How an Alarm Can Alarm You

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

By Tiber

Everybody was asleep last night when the fire alarm went off.

Dad has made us have fire drills for years and he took control again last night, like some world explorer with a threatened expedition. I think he would have been okay with a little of his house burning down, just to be able to play the hero, leading his charges out of the inferno.

And everybody did get out, family and staff alike, as the fire trucks barreled down the drive.

The staff had another problem, however. In the money crunch, they’ve tried so hard lately not to remind Dad how many of them are actually on the payroll and now, here they all were together outside.

So, maid Gabby tossed a blanket over maid Taffy and half sat on her, as if she was just a cushion they’d brought out.

The three security guys tried to blend in with the firemen, who, on seeing what a nuisance they were, finally gave them something to do.

Cook, who’s big and tall, tried to hide kitchen maid Soledad behind her. But Soledad is short and wide so Cook started waving a big dishtowel in front of herself to conceal this.

Nestor, the gardener, who’s been living here since his divorce, quickly wandered off to do some yard work. And Brunty, the butler, just wandered off.

Mrs. Brunty, knowing her husband gets lost even indoors, took off after him and Gabby felt she had to help her.

Duncan looked at Cook waving the big dishtowel and asked if she was bullfighting. Not wanting to draw more attention to them, Cook and Soledad then shuffled backwards into the hedges and disappeared, like the dead ball players in “Field of Dreams.”

So, even though 10 staff members had fled the fire, the only one who remained was Taffy, still crouched under the blanket on the ground.

Dad, maybe not as oblivious as everyone would like to think, went over, lifted up the blanket edge, and said,

“Don’t you worry, Taffy. No fire’s going to beat us!”

Unsure what to do, Taffy gave Dad a big thumbs up and he just covered her with the blanket again.

Reality bites…Just somewhere else

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

By Tiber 

As I’ve said before, Gabby, one of my parents’ maids, is our expert on all things “celebrity.”  The way things are trending in our culture, she may end up being the most important person in the house.

Recently, she expressed an idea over in the staff wing that quickly made its way over here. Since Dad needs more money, why didn’t we do our own reality show?

Iris Nell, whose brain has dug out certain well-worn trenches, naturally thought first that “maybe a prince will be watching and then want to marry me.” This prince thing has seriously got to be stopped. There can’t even be enough of them to go around, even if they were handing them out.

Honor heard about the idea and said she would never consider putting the triplets on any show because of the bad influence. We all knew, of course, that  the “bad influence” would be on the entire crew of teamsters the kids would end up taking out, causing us to be sued for a lot more than we were making.

Dad was initially all for a reality series since he seemed to picture it being more of a sophisticated talk show with him as the urbane host, rather than the much more likely scenario of demonic edits and close-ups from a toilet-cam.

Mom was the one who put a complete stop to it, though. In another of her sudden reveals of “things we never knew about Mom,” she brought out a clutch of ribbons she’d won in college for sharpshooting and murmured that anyone bringing a reality producer anywhere near the house could draw his or her own conclusions.

I’m thinking it’s a no-go. 

Stop or I’ll shoe!

Monday, July 19th, 2010

By Tiber

As he’s doing with everybody on the payroll here, Dad put his newly money-conscious eye on the cost of his live-in security team. He’d been talked into hiring three men so they could work in shifts. I always felt they just wanted a better poker game.

In any event, Dad decided that, really, with so many family members living here, maybe we could just protect the estate ourselves. He really likes the security guys, though, and it was with real regret that he finally let them go.

And of course, that very night, we were attacked. Well, by “attacked,” I mean there was the sound of an invasion. Sort of.

It later turned out to be just a raccoon making this high-pitched squealing. About a third of the household thought Duncan’s daughters were being attacked which was horrific. A third thought gentle Iris Nell was being attacked which was terrifying. And a third thought I was being attacked which was just plain rude.

You may remember, when the security guys accidentally came after me a few months ago, thinking I was an intruder, I defended myself with jelly beans. (Which I still maintain was the best thing I had available!)

This time, at the onset of this true attack, and with no security people to handle it, the entire household sprang into action and raced outside with a highly effective cache of defensive weapons consisting of a green flip-flop, a tea cup, a ruler, a beach ball, a knitting needle, a Slinky, a stapler, a nose trimmer, a bottle of black nail polish, a Harry Potter wand, one chop stick, a headless Beanie Baby, and a Prada handbag.

Even Cook, the one person who could have immediately grabbed a clutch of knives panicked and ran out brandishing only a melonballer.

Dad realized right then he was going to have to hire the security guys back. Next time, it might be a slightly bigger animal on the property. The security guys responded to Dad’s call so quickly, frankly, I think they were waiting right outside the front gate.

Not only that, now that I think about it, my guess is, they were the ones also tickling that raccoon.