Archive for the ‘The house’ Category

Jack Frost Nipping At Your…well, farther down than your nose…

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

By Tiber

We lost our heat, right when the storm began to hit.

We had stocked up on extra everything – except for a spare furnace.

This huge house is never what I would call “toasty” but without the furnace going, it was becoming positively “iglooey.”

We have big fireplaces and, obviously, people used fireplaces for eons to get warm. How did they do this?

We sat right in front of ours, all bundled up and eating soup and ended up just being people who were sitting right in front of fireplaces, all bundled up, eating soup and freezing.

Expeditions kept being organized to go down to the basement to try to fix the furnace but except for somebody saying we could throw the instruction booklet into the fireplace and make more fuel, nobody knew what to do.

Then, of all people, Gabby, the maid, spoke up. She suddenly said something that sounded to me like, “Have you checked the huggelbort in the uvula?”

She went on to explain that on one of the 12,000 reality shows she watches, their furnace broke down too. This is the show entitled, “We Are The Stupidest Organisms on The Planet Since Bacteria Were Here Alone.” I’m pretty sure that’s it. Anyway, their repairman had started to tell them briefly how he’d fixed their furnace but two of the cast members instantly keeled over from boredom.

Gabby, though, for some reason, had remembered what he‘d said. And it worked! We got our heat back and Gabby’s going to get some kind of bonus.

She said she always knew that reality show celebrities were powerful enough to save people until it was pointed out that it was the repairman and not the reality show celebrities who had saved us.

“Yes, but they put him on their show, even if it was for only 13 seconds!”

I’m very grateful for fhat but still, I’d be a lot more inclined to watch this show if it was hosted by the furnace repairman and he promised to only have the reality show celebrities on for the same amount of time.

Going beddie bye-bye

Sunday, December 5th, 2010


By Tiber

My parents have some guests staying here this week. It’s a couple they really like, so Dad thought it would be nice to put them up in one of the most elaborate guest rooms. This one has a big antique bed in it that, once upon a time, belonged to a prince.

The bed is capped by a very large and heavy wooden canopy dome. I don’t know how long it’s been since anybody checked the canopy attachments. I guess  the answer now would be, “too long” – since the man and woman were lying in the bed when the whole canopy fell down on top of them.

Fortunately, the dome is so big, at least there was some air trapped under there. Unfortunately, the dome is so big, they couldn’t get out from under it.

Finally, when the two didn’t come down to dinner, a search party was sent up and they were retrieved.

Since Brunty, the butler, wanders all over the place, Dad later asked him if he hadn’t heard any commotion coming from that room.

“Yes, sir. I did hear two people yelling.”

“Yelling?!? Brunty! Why didn’t you do something?!?”

Brunty pulled himself up to his most dignified height and replied.

“Because, sir, while the gentleman was shouting out, ‘Hello! Hello!,’ his lady was then shouting, ‘In HERE! In HERE!!!’ I could only assume that, though the gentleman had clearly lost his way in his lovemaking, he certainly didn’t want me popping in there and giving him better directions.”

A Raisin in the Bun

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

By Tiber

Back in the 1800’s, when my father’s house was built, the governess had her own bedroom off  the schoolroom and both were located between the family wing and the staff wing. Other adults seldom went there.

With no governess now, my siblings and I long ago took over this space for our own indoor clubhouse. TV, music, games, old sofas. Great! We still use it.

I came in today and the light from the window was glinting off something stuck way behind one of the sofas. I finally wrenched out the item and it was my old lunch box from school!

I opened the box and in a moment even exceeding Proust and his cake, my little kid existence came rushing back at me from the smells that were still captured inside. Bologna sandwiches! Bananas! Chocolate cake! And…and…oh, dear God, no, RAISINS! The loathed and nausea-inducing raisins – all of them resting, so seemingly innocent, in their cute, perfect-for-kids size boxes. I hated them but Mom decided they were healthy and I got them constantly.

And I ate the little rabbit turds! There were trash cans everywhere at school but I never threw them out. I just kept eating them. Good kid? Or remarkably slow? You make the call!

Of course, now I’ve just read that they’ve discovered raisins are actually very good for you. So, evidently, Mom was right all along.

My brother, Duncan, showed up as I was writing this. As usual, we were fighting but I had a game on TV so he just sat down and watched it with me. Because that’s the rule in here. No bullying, no pulling rank, no battling of any kind and believe me, we used to leave chunks of hair and skin all over the rest of the house. But in here, you have to leave it all outside, the same way you’d take off your muddy boots. Maybe we sense the ghosts of governesses past, threatening to whack us.

Or maybe we just really hit on something. Everybody should have at least one space that’s neutral, where all of the crap is left outside the door.

Note to you raisin companies, however. Go with the good health angle, absolutely. But you could truly sell a whole lot more product if your new ads could also read, “Raisins! Inexpensive and good for your health! And now made without any actual raisin taste!”

Without the cape fear

Monday, June 21st, 2010

By Tiber

With a house this big, we often have a lot of overnight guests. And more than once, someone has set up, shall we say, a friendly nocturnal visit to a bedroom other than his or her own. The problem, though, with so much house, is that you can easily lose track of the exact bedroom you’re seeking.

This happened again last night, when a male guest burst into one of the other bedrooms naked, to surprise his lady friend. He leaped up onto the bed in the dark and yelled, “Even Zorro would envy this mighty sword!” This was news to my grandparents who, up until then, had been asleep in there.

Mortified, the male guest fled, but to his credit, he did show up for breakfast in the morning, trying to pretend that nothing had happened. He didn’t look anyone in the face, however, and because of this, he never noticed that, courtesy of my father, who thought it was hysterical, all of the men at the table, my grandfather included, were wearing small, black masks.

Brunty, Dad’s forever out-of-the-loop butler, did notice.  He leaned down to whisper to my father at the table and with his eyes still focused on the other men, neglected to realize that my father was wearing a black mask too.

“I think you should be on guard, sir.”  Brunty confided.  “It has come to my attention that some of the guests may be planning a heist.”

If ghosts can walk through walls, why do they go bump in the night?

Friday, March 26th, 2010

By Tiber 

I love anything to do with ghosts.  And though I’m aware of all the supernatural occurrences, witnessed either by me or others, here in my parents’ house, I still have yet to come upon a full-body apparition. And a full-body apparition is what I want to see. It would be the Holy Grail of the paranormal.

Of course, not everyone might feel the same way.

We had a guest staying here last night and she had her own ghost experience first-hand. She had been given a bedroom that hadn’t been used in awhile and, in the middle of the night, she woke up and saw it – a dim, white apparition, wavering in the shadows on the far side of her room.

After a moment, the shimmering thing started floating, right towards her bed. And, to the woman’s horror, she felt something clammy brush against her feet, turning them both ice cold.

The guest dived under the covers so she wouldn’t see any more.  But then she felt the mattress vibrate. as if the ghost had actually sat down, almost right up against her, in the dark.

Was the thing conscious of her presence or not? Was it angered by her being in this bed or in this room?

The woman became too paralyzed with fear to make a run for it. All she could do was continue to hide until she finally got up enough courage to just peek out. By the time she did, the specter had vanished.

Even then, our guest was too terrified to scream, she was too terrified to move and since we just found out that Brunty, the butler, has started sleep-walking, we’re all too terrified to tell her.

And we have lift off

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

By Tiber

With all of the cold weather, my brother’s 10 year-old triplets, Lauren, Shirley and Bo,  have been home far more than usual. And even though my parents’ house has three wings and five floors, it seems as if every time you turn around, here’s a triplet, there’s a triplet, everywhere a triplet, triplet.

It was driving Dad crazy and he told them if they went off and played by themselves, it would give them valuable life skills for the future. Well, that didn’t work so he was forced to sign an I.O.U. for the second he gets more cash.

Later, we all knew somebody was using the little iron-grilled elevator, next to the main stairs, because you could hear that humming sound as the elevator started up. This didn’t really catch anyone’s attention. The sudden metallic grinding and loud clunk that followed, however, did.

The yelling of the triplets was also noticed since they were the ones who had undoubtedly been messing with the elevator and who were now the ones stuck in the elevator.

Their mother wasn’t home at the time but my mother, their grandmother, was frantic to get them out. Dad seemed a little slower to the rescue. The kids were fine for the moment.

And Dad felt strongly that we should wait for an electrician to free them instead of having a family member fool around with the malfunctioning machinery and possibly make things worse.

That was probably true but my mother couldn’t help but catch that dreamy look in Dad’s eyes when he realized that for a short time, at least, he could legally keep the demon threesome locked up in a cage.

The rest of us entertained the triplets while they were stuck in there. Since they were hungry, Kru and I got some bananas from the kitchen and threw them to the kids through the gaps.

Again, my mother was horrified.

“You are so callous!” she railed at us but I knew that wasn’t it. The kids were enjoying the bananas, shrieking and climbing the bars. That’s what was bothering her. She knows better than anyone…our whole family is only one elevator ride away from devolving from our usual and constant nit-picking into literally picking nits.


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?