Posts Tagged ‘Dad’

Viva Las Vegas, where the saints are marching in

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

By Tiber

You may remember when Cook got angry and threw a pan that made a dent in the floor, Soledad, the kitchen maid, believed the imprint looked like the Virgin Mary. Dad thought it looked more like Ann-Margret in “Viva Las Vegas.”

The image ended up being lost anyway so we never got that far with it.

But now, it’s happened again.

Cook got angry with somebody else and threw a pasta colander at the wall. (Or as she put it to Dad, she was “playing catch with some poor children and she just missed.”) Either way, this time, Soledad thought the watermark it left looked exactly like St. Joseph.

Once again, she wanted to make the kitchen a free place of pilgrimage. But since the Vatican has a gift shop, she felt it would be all right to sell St. Joseph souvenirs.

Unlike Soledad, we’re not Catholic but, obviously, we wanted to be respectful. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, since Joseph was not the “real” father, could you charge as much for his items as you could for a Mary?

Then again, Joseph seems to appear in a lot fewer places so maybe you could charge more just for his rarity.

Predictably, once again, Dad peered at the watermark and said that the imprint looked exactly like Ann-Margret in “Viva Las Vegas.”

Dad has also seen Ann-Margret from “Viva Las Vegas” in his dreams, in cloud formations and in beer foam. Somebody said he was like Jimmy Stewart in that old movie, “Harvey” where Stewart kept seeing a large rabbit that wasn’t there.

At least Dad has upped the crazy in a good way.

If you’re going to constantly be seeing an imaginary friend, it’s a hell of a lot better to have it be  a really hot redhead than simply be a giant hare.

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.

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.

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.

Donner party, table for six…Donner party, table for five…Donner party, table for four…

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

By Tiber 

My father called the family together for another of his recent pep talks.

“So,” Dad said. “As you know, we’re not quite as…snug in our little financial bed as we once were but-”

“Biggest euphemism of all time!”

My father eye-lasered his oldest son with a “Thank you, Duncan.”

Duncan’s 10 year-old-triplets, maybe in an attempt to defend their father or just because genes are irreversible, spoke up in their usual synchronized monotone.

“Donner party. Donner party. Donner party…”

“Now see? There’s good news right there!” Dad said brightly, causing everyone else to head for the door.

“No, no, I mean, that we’re not in as much trouble as the Donner party!”

“For the moment, ” Duncan replied.

“So we can, at least, savor the moment,” the ever-optimistic Iris Nell added.


Dad was so relieved to find someone sort of on his team.

“And I promise you this. If we ever do get as desperate as the Donner party around here, how about if I ring a bell and everyone can get a running head start?”

This caused my mother to actually express some emotion.

“That’s not remotely fair! I’m bound to be one of the slowest runners in the whole family!“

“Oh, for God‘s sake, Gwen. I was joking! We‘re just…penny-challenged right now. That’s all.”

The triplets started up again, “Donner party. Don-” which Dad mercifully interrupted.

“Come on, kids! We’re not going to end up like the Donner Party at all! You’re old enough now to know the kind of family you come from!”

The triplets then looked at each other and they did proceed in a much more believable direction.

“…’Lord of the Flies’…’Lord of the Flies’…’Lord of the Flies.’”