Archive for the ‘Mom’ Category

I Love Your Car, Man

Monday, April 26th, 2010

By Tiber

As I reported back in December, here Dad is, trying to save money and Mom suddenly brought home two peacocks. Well, they’re a peacock and a peahen.

Dad went crazy but Mom explained that their other owner couldn’t afford to keep them either but they certainly couldn’t be released into the wild because the other birds would pick on them for being so much more attractive.

“Attractive?!?,” Duncan blurted out. “The male, maybe, but that is one head-jerkingly ugly-ass peahen.”

Of course, this comment (and truism) meant that Mom and my sister, Iris Nell, would keep and protect the peahen from then on, no matter what.

And “no matter what” has just arrived.

I will never be able to stamp out the noise from my brain. It started with a shrieking up-and-down-the-scale animal cry which was then joined by a metallic groaning and scratching and heaving.

We all raced outside when we heard it. And there he was. The male peacock. Evidently Duncan had been right. The peahen was not hot enough. And the peacock had instead found his dream mate in the form of a blue Porsche that was parked in front of the house. He wasn’t the first male to fall in love with that car…only in his case, he wanted the car to know it. Twice.

Why couldn’t it have been a friend’s car? Our friends are used to us. But no, it belonged to a new potential financial partner of Dad’s. I think we can now change the word “potential” to “will never be at any time, any place or any circumstance ever.”

They say that love is a game and in the game between the peacock and the Porsche, the car lost.

So Dad says the male peacock has got to go. He’s probably right, unless we want to hire someone to stand outside all the time and wave away everybody driving a blue car.

The female can stay though, and already, Iris Nell is worrying that she’ll be too lonely all by herself. It’s clear that instead of hunting for work, the rest of us are going to have to get out there and find a friend for the peahen. And what will be most time-consuming about this is that the next peacock will need one of two things. 1) to be really unattractive himself or 2) glasses.

The song remains the same

Monday, April 19th, 2010

By Tiber

As I’ve mentioned before, my very reclusive Aunt April stays full-time in her own small suite of rooms up on the third floor and we hardly ever see her.

 Of course, last month, we did have a brief sighting.

As I wrote about in my older post, “Not in Bruges,” Dad forgot to tell Aunt April that we now have a Belgian man named Jasper renting a room up on the third floor and when she spotted him padding to the bathroom in the dead of night, she went after him with a pitchfork. I guess she could have pretty much anything in her rooms but now, since Dad took it away, we all know she’s at least down one pitchfork.

Anyway, she suddenly appeared again last night, long white hair askew, this time in the living room, where a number of us were watching TV. It was comforting to be in a group right then because, as with a ghost, you sort of wanted to confirm that everybody else was actually seeing the same thing.

And then she spoke. “You all like different music!!!”

Okay. Point taken. And yet…? Thankfully, she went on.

 “I don’t know which one of you is doing it! But YOU know!!!”

Uh, no. Still very unclear.

“What I MEAN is, whoever’s playing that same song over and over and over and over again, just because YOU like it, should remember that NOT EVERYBODY AGREES!!!”

Our frozen, perplexed looks continued until, at last, there was a small, “Oh, dear,” from Mom.

Aunt April’s contorted gaze whipped around towards her and Mom then said, “It’s been very windy today.”

What the hell did that mean?!? It sounded as if the two of them had suddenly become World War II spies and were communicating in code.

But Mom explained… “Remember, April, we put that musical greeting card I bought you for your birthday on your windowsill. Do you think the wind might be setting off that funny little song over and over again?”

Our accuser held her ground for a good three seconds before she stormed off.

Well, at least we got to see Aunt April.  And it’s always especially nice when she’s unarmed.

So tell us, who is your rat wearing?

Thursday, April 8th, 2010


By Tiber

Since Dad says everybody now has to get a job, my sister, Iris Nell, has finally come up with one that she may be able to handle.

As I’ve said before, one thing Iris Nell can do really well is knit. One of our great-grandmothers taught her and she’s never stopped. It’s not, however, in a sweet, honoring the ancestor sort of way but more in a Madame DeFarge, still-knitting-away-while-heads-are-being-chopped-off-in-the-French-Revolution sort of way. Still, being an obsessive/compulsive  does give you a great deal of experience and Iris Nell figures she can certainly whip out lots of little clothes.

Her first thought was to open a business making dog and cat clothes but she quickly decided that this market was too crowded. So instead, she’s going to open the “It’s Not Raining Cats and Dogs” online shop, where you can buy “custom-made, all-weather gear for other animals.”

To everyone’s great surprise, Mom is evidently helping her. No one knew Mom could even sew. As kids, whenever we tore a piece of clothing, Mom would murmur, “Oh, dear” and then quickly drift out of the room. We have always assumed she had some sort of thread allergy.

But now, my sister and mother are spending hour after hour making hamster hats, sugar glider sweaters and mice macs.

Of course, for me, if you’re actually buying very expensive all-weather animal attire, it immediately brings up two questions:

a) Should you really be taking your exotic little pets outside in all kinds of weather? And-

b) Shouldn’t you be checking yourself into a psychiatric facility?

Evidently, I am alone in asking these questions.


It was Mom. In the conservatory. With the idiot.

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

By Tiber

On the list of phrases women do not want to hear, it’s probably not as high as, “No, no, honey, she’s a linen buyer and she just wanted to check out our sheets.” Still up there, however, is the dreaded, “There’s no reason to spend good money on a professional when I can easily fix this myself.”

Mom was alone and watering plants in the conservatory. (And yes, when you’re in a house this big, it does often sound as if you’re living in a game of “Clue.”)

She was using that long metal pole thing, with the grip on the end, to take down a high-hanging plant, when she accidentally shattered one of the panes of glass in the roof. Dad now always instantly thinks of cost so my brother, Duncan, said we should just cover the hole with plastic and at least that would keep the rain out.

Mom said it wouldn’t keep a neighborhood burglar out.

“No burglar could fit through that hole,” Dad pointed out.

Uncomforted, Mom went on, “Well, a raccoon could get in!”

Dad rolled his eyes.

“Only if he was airlifted and dropped. And frankly, if we have a neighbor who is airlifting and dropping raccoons, we have a bigger problem than a hole in the conservatory roof.”

In any event, Dad said, to save money, he would fix the window himself and you knew right then you could title the next chapter “and let the expenses begin!”

Dad bought the replacement glass, got the size off and had to replace it. He then bought the wrong kind of adhesive and had to go back once more. Once at home, he realized he’d forgotten one of his new tools and he had to return for that, So already he’d paid for six trips in his car.

Then he had to get the two security guys to quit work to come and spot him, in case he fell off the ladder and when he inevitably cut himself on the glass, my sister, Vanessa, had to take time off of her own work because she was the only one here who knew how to bandage.

By the time Dad had finally installed the new pane and then slipped and smashed this glass too, skidding down the outside of the conservatory wall, catching his coat on a rain pipe, inverting himself and finally ending up hanging there enclosed in a cloth ball, Mom had had enough.

The security guys sprang to help but Mom said to leave Dad right where he was.

She went inside, gave the each of the triplets a pool cue and told them, “Hurry outside, children, and join in the fun! Up on the side of the conservatory, Granddad’s hung a giant pinata!”

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.

It’s Bring Your Rat To School Day

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

By Tiber

With Dad’s current financial problems, Cook may not be convinced that she won’t be fired, but personally, I think she’s safe. Dad loves the pies she makes. Dad loves all of her cooking. Dad knows that having Mom cook would probably kill us all. 

As I’ve said before, my mother rarely eats, so the idea of cooking something every day has always been sort of mystifying to her. Once, she made a real effort to be domestic, for our sake, and she actually baked some cookies for a school event for my sister, Iris Nell.

Now Iris Nell really should have told Mom that she’d put her pet gerbil, Giblet, under the loose-fitting foil covering the cookies, to keep him warm for the trip to school, for some show-and-tell thing. And Giblet was nice and warm too until my mother proudly whipped the cover off to unveil her delicious cookies and, clearly, a dirty and deranged rat jumped out and lunged and spat and threw rabid crap balls at all of the children. Or at least that’s how it was reported later.

I didn’t think that sounded like Giblet at all but, ultimately, that’s how it was perceived and really, that’s all that counts.

So you can see how, unlike most people, my mother is not as comforted by food as the rest of us. Sometimes, to this day, I still catch her eyeing tasty dishes, just to make sure they don’t move.

Our peahen has a great personality

Monday, December 7th, 2009

000_peacok and peahen

By Tiber

I knew it was the male peacock who had the colorful tail but that’s pretty much all I knew about peacocks. Now, I guess, we’re going to learn a lot more.

My mother just heard about two peacocks whose owner was now too broke to keep them. She felt sorry for them and had them brought here. (This is where my sister Iris Nell gets this sort of thing.)

My father yelled that in this economic climate, we can’t afford them either.  Mom insisted, though, that they certainly couldn’t be released into the wild, not because they couldn’t survive but because they clearly would be picked on and mocked by the other birds, for being so much more sophisticated and attractive. (These sudden verbal side trips are why my father loses arguments around here.)

“Not that attractive,” my brother, Duncan, chimed in. “At least, not the female.” He proclaimed that the female was one head-jerkingly ugly-ass peacock, or peahen, to be specific.

Iris Nell, generally kind, unless animal insults are involved, grabbed a mirror and started chasing Duncan all over the room, thrusting the mirror up to his face and yelling, “And do you call this handsome? Do you? Do you?!?”

I was trying to stay neutral. I sort of thought that was one ugly-ass peahen too but really, what do people ever know about another species’ good or bad looks? No man I’ve ever known has ever once eyed any girl rhinoceros and thought, “I have got to get me some of that.”

And yet rhinos continue.

Mom’s in the crow’s nest, run for your lives

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
By Tiber
My mother Gwen, unlike my father, is a very elegant person. She never eats but, like a plant, if you water her enough, you can keep her forever.
I know she loves all of us children, but I think she was under the impression that after giving birth to us, her job was pretty much done. When she sees any of us, she always has a vaguely surprised expression as if to say,
 “Oh, hello, dear. Did you want something else?”
She has only one brother so with six of us, I think a lot of the time, she felt trapped in the middle of a British soccer riot. Many of my early memories of her consist of her exiting a room. Hello, Dr. Freud! My relationships don’t seem to last so maybe I’m just hardwired to feel more normal when a woman’s walking out the door.
Anyway, unsurprisingly, my mother likes Meissen porcelain, handmade soaps, log fires, that sort of thing. But one of her greatest obsessions is…pirates…the classic kind. We have no idea why. From her appearance, it’s not the kind of thing you’d match her up with, well…ever.
Maybe she was married to Captain Morgan in a past life. Maybe she was Captain Morgan. It’s true that even in this life, she’s still one of the few people who can scare Dad.

Sometimes, when it’s time for Happy Hour, Mom will suddenly look up from writing a thank-you note and yell out,

“What ho! It’s time to splice the main brace!”

And it’s nowhere near International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

She used to keep a small skull-and-crossbones flag in her car, which sort of unnerved us when we were little. But now that I think about it, she did always get the best parking spaces.

And come time for our birthdays, we all kept having pirate-themed parties.

“Oh, they were having a sale on eye patches,“ Mom would murmur. (As she drifted out of the room).

It didn’t matter if I or my sisters or my brothers requested “space aliens” or “Cinderella” or “animal” birthday parties, all of them would somehow always morph instead into a pirate party and we’d all end up bearded.