Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Bambi’s Booty

Friday, February 5th, 2010


By Tiber

Something amazing was discovered here this week. I thought my brothers and sisters and I had found all of the secret passages in this big, old house. We could never keep one a secret since the urge to leap out of a wall and try to give someone a heart attack was always too great.

But my brother Duncan’s preternaturally focused 10-year-old triplets found another little hidden room. In one of life’s appalling extraordinary coincidences that you can later retell for the rest of your life, my sister-in-law, Honor, asked triplet #3 to “give her a hand” in finding a dropped earring and he literally gave her a hand. Well, part of one, anyway. It was a human finger bone.

Honor, not surprisingly, went berserk. And then, so did everybody else, causing the triplets to forget where they’d found it. Demonstrating the difference with kids today, whereas I might have been calmed down with the promise of cookies, the triplets weren’t themselves again until guaranteed a trip to the surplus store to buy more supplies for the “inevitable upcoming breakdown of civilization.” But at least we found the little hidden room.

And the second Dad marched us in, we saw what was, unmistakably, a small pirate treasure chest. In my old post “Mom’s in the Crow’s Nest,” I wrote about my mother’s completely incongruous love of old pirates. It would be like a Hell’s Angel collecting Strawberry Shortcake dolls. You just don’t expect it.  But Mom, on seeing our own pirate treasure chest, was thrilled – even with the rest of the human hand bones splayed out in front of it, along with a dagger with a skull carved on it. Evidently, someone was a little too attached to the chest so someone else made him a little less attached to his hand.

Actually, we were thankful that the triplets had played with a finger bone and not the dagger. Duncan, of course, claimed that proved an interest in anatomy and that they’ll all end up being doctors. I know the triplets, though, and my guess is, if they really do have an interest in anatomy, they’ll all end up as grave-robbers.

Anyway, thank God it was just a hand, though we’re all wondering privately if the rest of our guy may show up somewhere else.

The big moment arrived and Dad stepped forward, holding his breath, and slowly lifted up the lid to delight his eyes with the solid gold doubloons he knew were within. The chest was filled to the top but with old cloth and sewing articles like needles and thread and buttons and thimbles.

We’ve since found out that these items actually had some value in their day and were worth looting by anyone. But Dad’s furious. He’s convinced that in spite of so many alpha-males like Captain Kidd, Henry Morgan and Blackbeard, his own pirate ancestor was a teenaged girl fashionista.

Hello, Bambi the Buccaneer.

Chauncey, the handyman

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010


By Tiber

We’ve had so much bad weather, somebody finally had to go up and check the attic rooms for leaks. We’re all so far away, down here on the other floors, it could get really bad before anyone knew it.

Dad couldn’t convince any of us to go up there, though, and he certainly wasn’t heading up there himself. We’ve all known about that unknown old woman in the attic since Mom first saw her awhile ago. Then Mom took up the New Year’s cookies and wine (hoping they would just sit there) and they were actually consumed. That’s made the old woman’s presence, wherever she is, a little too real for all of us.

So, despite wanting to save money, Dad had to call on Chauncey, the handyman. Yes, that‘s right. “Chauncey” is our handyman’s actual name. Evidently, with the film “Being There” coming out the year he was born and his mother in a movie mood, she decided to name him after the character, “Chauncey Gardiner.” Great film but, come on! “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” came out the same year so she could have just as soon gone with “James T.” instead of “Chauncey.” Hell, “Uhura” would have been better.

In any event, his name got him hired here. Mom heard about him and was worried that all of the “Spike” and “Moose” handymen were probably beating him up and stealing his jobs. And when he showed up and looked exactly like a “Chauncey,” we figured it might actually be true. But it turns out, he’s one strong guy. He’s like that glue in those tiny tubes, where you just can’t believe it can hold so much.

So Chauncey was dispatched up to the attic rooms to check for any water damage. He’s probably already heard that some people think our house is haunted. And nobody told him at all about the old woman.

It wasn’t long before he came down and headed right for the front door.

All he said as he left was, “No time. No leaks. No charge.”

Oh, he saw something up there, all right. The question is, which is worse? A staring, younger dead person or a crazy older live one?

Do not add water to the Cook

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

By Tiber

Everyone can reach his or her limit and Cook reached hers this week. It’s been hard enough for her to creatively cut back on the food expenses, as per Dad’s order. But then, when nature attacked, it was just too much. I know she believes in God. It’s just that her belief is pretty much confined to the conviction that He’s out to get her.

It rained hard here all week. The roof could be leaking for all we know. It would show up first in the attic rooms but since Mom found that unknown old woman up there, nobody really wants to go and check.

What wasn’t debatable, however, was the flood in the kitchen. Cook had worked a long time putting together this tasty but cost-conscious vegetable dish but with her concentration and her thick shoes, she didn’t realize that the kitchen floor was flooded until the water was up to her ankles. She panicked and slipped and before she knew it, her perfectly prepared spinach was drifting away like seaweed. She screamed and took off for parts unknown, while everybody else was called to the kitchen as fast as we could get there.

Kru found the source of the leak while Dad organized a bucket brigade with cooking pots, so we could bail out the water that was already there.

Mom felt somebody should go and try to find Cook but with the house so big, we’ve lost people in here for quite awhile before. Finally, Brunty, the butler, was tapped to look for her. He’s been lost in the house so much himself, he’s probably familiar with rooms we haven’t even seen.

And he did find Cook pretty quickly. She was holed up in the far away and isolated room that was used for the nanny, back when the house was built in the 1800’s and the Victorians not only didn’t want their children heard, most of the time, they really wanted them in another town.

Cook was rocking away in an old rocker, like a maniac, and even Brunty’s news that the water was now out of the kitchen didn’t dislodge her. So he had to take more severe measures and lie. He said it was a real shame that the dinner she’d prepared had been ruined but that without her down there, he’d heard someone say they were going to make a casserole with a topping of processed cheese and pork rinds.

Cook isn’t the youngest person in the house but she was back in the kitchen so fast, you’d think she had crashed downstairs on a fire pole.


Footsteps in the attic, a buzz in your head

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

By Tiber

Just to bring everybody up to speed, my parents’ house is so big, that recently, my mother went up to one of the many seldom visited attic rooms and suddenly, came upon a completely unknown older woman, sitting in an overstuffed armchair and reading a book by the light of a lamp. My mother, whose picture covers the entire Wikipedia page for the word “polite,” quickly excused herself and exited, even though it’s her house.

Since then, the few times anybody has been up there, the old woman hasn’t been spotted again. The suspicion has always remained, however, that she still might be up there…somewhere.

As my parents were feeling sentimental at New Year’s, Mom decided to take a tin of cookies up to the attic for our “guest” and Dad even contributed one of his microbrew beers, just to see if these would be consumed. But it turned out that Mom, who doesn’t like beer, had, at the last minute, opened a bottle of red wine and taken that up with a glass instead.

After the holidays, we all trooped up there to check, and now there was a brightly colored Christmas garland, that no one recognized, sort of draped around the room.

Only cookie crumbs remained of the snack and there wasn’t a drop left of the wine. 

It was probably the older woman who’d polished them off but then somebody pointed out that what it really looked like, was when we were kids and we’d left the cookies and milk out for Santa. We all paused with the same thought. Everybody’s wise about the Christmas Eve snack but really, when you think about it, when would Santa really need a pick-me-up? After Christmas.

No one has seen him, obviously, but then again, no one has seen the old woman again either.

This would not be the kind of police visit you’d want.

 “We have a report that Santa Claus has not checked back into the North Pole and he was last seen entering your house. Do you have any information on this?”

“Uh…He could be up in our attic somewhere.”

“Why would he be up there?”

Nervous glances all around. “We may have gotten him drunk.”

Deck the Halls with Cows of Wally

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009


By Tiber

It would take you days to go through all of the things in my parents’ endless attics. In  my older post, “Our Maze Eats Another One,”I wrote about my mother even finding an unknown old woman up there, reading. The old lady may still be up there but Dad didn’t mention it when he was rooting around this week.

He did find a box of real 19th century clothing and he thought maybe we could make some money as Dickensian Christmas carolers at the mall.

There weren’t enough of the 19th century outfits. though, so he borrowed from a box full of 1930’s clothes. My older sister, Vanessa, ended up looking more like a call girl in a speakeasy. I didn’t tell her because a) that would be rude b) that would be unkind and c) Vanessa scares me.

My brother, Kru, was stuck with an old, drab, 1930’s suit but when he complained, Dad said to knock it off and just tell everyone he was Scrooge’s accountant.

When Dad found a little wooden crutch, he slapped a cap on my sister, Iris Nell, and proclaimed her “Tiny Tim.” Duncan said that was “just wrong.” We thought, for a second, he was trying to be politically correct. But no. He just went on that, obviously, we’d have to call her “Medium-sized Tim.”

We got to the mall and began our audition, only to realize, belatedly, that no one knew all the lyrics to the carols. We got “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose“ right.  But the next line, “Yule-tide carols being sung by a fire,” we all got wrong as “Yuletide cards we will all be a mailin,” which left us no choice but to finish the verse with “Folks dressed up like Ms. Sarah Palin.” Of course, the real line is “Folks dressed up like Eskimos,” so I guess we were close.

Dad then quickly jumped into “Oh, Tannenbaum” but he was nervous and began to sing instead about one of his best friends. “Joe Tannenbaum…Joe Tannenbaum…” He gamely tried to keep this one going with “I met him first in college. Joe Tannenbaum, Joe Tannenbaum…he has a lot of knowledge…”  There was really nowhere to go from there, though.

Even “Jingle Bells” we messed up because instead of singing “Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh,” my sister, Erin, blurted out, “Oh, what fun it is to ride in a Porsche Cabriolet.” We couldn’t stop cold on another song, so this time, we just went on with the theme. The trouble is, it was no longer a tune about festive bells so much as really a song about German engineering.

We knew then we weren’t going to be hired. The mall manager was nice and told us we were very talented. It was just that the patrons listening to us didn’t seem to be singing along.

Mostly, they all just looked perplexed.

The ghost hunters arrive

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

By Tiber

I’ve talked about my parents’ house before and it really is as alive as the people who live in it. Well, it’s as much alive as some of them. Being so big and so filled with history and emotion, people are always asking if it’s haunted.

Over the years, we have had some odd occurrences and then when our friends brought their baby over recently and he seemed to see something, Dad finally decided to call in a professional ghost hunting team.

They went all over, checking out our wing, the staff wing, the kitchen wing. And they did find some cold spots. The biggest cold spot was near the dining room, to which my idiot brother, Duncan, responded,

“Of course, my wife could have just walked through!”

After the team been told that sometimes the little elevator, by the main staircase, travels up all by itself, (though not when they were here, of course), the team said our ghost could be the trickster type, just trying to scare us by starting up the elevator motor. My sister, Iris Nell, became really indignant at that.

“Or maybe our poor ghost is just old. Do you have any idea how many stairs there are in this place?!?”

The ghost team gamely plowed on, finding their prime piece of evidence in the form of a good EVP (electronic voice phenomenon). A disembodied male voice seemed to say the word, “accordion.”

My father became so emotional, I was surprised that he’d be that afraid. But it turned out that wasn’t the case. Instead, he roared,

“I am not buying an accordion for anybody, living or dead!”

The ghost team said he could consider an exorcism. My father said if he ever heard anyone playing “Lady of Spain,” he’d consider a hitman.

My youngest sister, Erin, always guaranteed to be the most morbid of the group, came up with,

“Maybe one of our ancestors killed an accordionist and buried him somewhere in the house.”

Well, that cast a pall over everything. No one knew how to respond. It was my father, surprisingly, who finally gave in.

He said he wasn’t a completely unreasonable man and in time, he might consider at least buying the ghost a guitar.

Our maze eats another one

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

By Tiber

We had a little excitement the other night when one of our guests, a guy named Wade, went missing. With so many rooms in this house, I guess it’s surprising that it doesn’t happen more often.

Everybody spread out to look for Wade, first covering all of the first floor and then moving upstairs. The staff even searched in their wing and Mom proceeded up to the big attics.

She opened a door on the left and jumped back. There was an unknown, old woman in there, sitting in an armchair, next to a lamp, reading. She looked so comfortable that Mom, whose house it is, was the one taken off-guard and she was the one who politely excused herself and left.

We still don’t know who this woman was. She could still be living up there, for all we know.

One thing this discovery did, however, was to even out our count.  We may have been down one person but here we’d located a new one. Wade’s wife was pretty adamant, though, unreasonably I thought, about our actually finding her husband and not just substituting him with somebody else. So the quest for Wade continued.

Once we’d all regrouped, we realized that one of our search-party couples had also not rejoined us.  Great. Now, even if we could have convinced Wade’s wife to accept the old woman in the attic, we were still down two.

Thankfully, this couple was quickly discovered when someone heard their faint yells. It turned out the two of them had peered into the silver vault, looking for Wade, but Brunty, our butler from another planet, had mistaken them for burglars. He’d pushed them into the vault all the way, then locked the door to await security, quickly forgetting to call security at all.

Eventually, we found Wade too. He’d been walking outside and had accidentally made a wrong turn and ended up deep in the hedge maze which is really dark at night, without the lights on. People tend to panic in there.

A couple of guests happened to walk past it and one of them did an impression of Jack Nicholson. And Wade somehow managed to instantly vault over the top of one of the maze’s nearly 10 foot high walls.

Too many people have seen “The Shining.” It’s what gets them nervous and lost in the maze in the first place.

I give the movie credit, though. Evidently, it’s the one thing that can also get them out.

This land is our land

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

By Tiber

Some family friends came by with their new baby and my sister, Erin, texted me about the visit from downstairs. As soon as the baby arrived here, he started to look all around. Then he’d stop and stare fixedly at things that weren’t there…Or were they? Our house does seem to be haunted so that could explain it.

The funny thing here, though, is that right after going all wide-eyed for a few moments, the kid would then instantly conk out asleep. His parents said he was just a good napper but we’re not so sure.

Erin said he reminded her of a canary in a coal mine. God knows my family can be the poison gas. Or does baby know something? Does something wicked – or just plain disgusting – this way come?

At least we can rest easily knowing that our house is not built on top of any sacred burial ground. Native Americans were in the area back in the 1800’s when our house was built. And when my ancestors were picking out the land to build on, they actually met with the tribal elders on this very spot to make sure that no burial ground had ever been here that we could possibly defile.

Evidently, the answer was a solid “no” because the Native Americans began backing up immediately and eyeing each other.

“Here?!? Seriously? You want to build on this land?!? No, no, it’s all yours! Really! You take it!…Uh…Good luck to you! Gotta run!”

To which our forefathers cheerfully responded,

“Well, that’s wonderful! Full speed ahead with our house construction then! And thanks for coming by! We love getting to know the locals!”

Ah, yes, my ancestors. Ahead of their time in harmony! Ahead of their time in unity! Way behind the curve in intelligence.