Archive for the ‘The house’ Category

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.

Lights! Camera! Moron!

Friday, October 30th, 2009

By Tiber

Still hiding out in my old bedroom at my parents’ estate, I suddenly saw shadows crossing my balcony. My room is three stories up, so this was not good. My mother’s billion-thread-count sheets almost counted something else on them because suddenly, two men burst through the balcony doors while a third man came crashing through my bedroom door.

Life gives you very few moments that define you as a man. Or somethng else. With only seconds to respond, how you react shows the world what you’re made of.

Me? I measured up the size, the strength, the firepower of my assassins…and I threw jelly beans at them. And they put down their guns!

Okay, fine, it was only because they recognized me. It was my father’s security team. But hear me out! My instincts were spot-on. I had accurately assessed the situation with robot-like precision, given the response weaponry available to me at the time. I knew the cake was too soft. And the chips, though aerodynamically sound for a short flight, could never go the distance.

So jelly beans were the correct choice, carrying with them a true stinging capability as well as every mother’s nightmare of “putting someone’s eye out.”

I could see that none of my bulls-eye decisions were being credited by these guys, though. To them, my great defense was lobbing tiny sweets at them. Charge!

“Meester Tiber! I am so sorry!”

This was from Ben, Dad’s Israeli head of security.

“We caught a man on the geem cam!” (that would be the security camera in the third- floor gym that I thought was turned off.)

They all shuffled out, trying to look serious. Of course, I knew they were just trying not to laugh. Ben says he won’t tell my father I’ve moved back home, which may or may not be true.

What I know for sure, however, is that from now on, my security code-name’s going to be “candy-ass.”

The beginning of the blog

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

By Tiber

My job was outsourced, my girlfriend left me and in a freak pest control accident, which wasn’t even my fault, half of my apartment blew up, leaving my big-screen TV the size of confetti. Cheers!

My name is Tiber (middle names are Luke and Philo but that’s another story). I’m named after the river in Rome which is a great river. I just didn’t like it as my name  because it was different. But now I like it fine, especially since I found out that one day later in my parents’ itinerary and I could have ended up as “House of the Vestal Virgins…Luke Philo.” 

In any case, with nowhere to live and no money for therapy, I decided to secretly move back into my old room in my parents’ house. The reason I figured I could get away with this and pretend I was just dropping by a lot for meals, is because my parents’ house covers about an acre. The family made its fortune back in the 1800’s manufacturing ladies’ whalebone corsets.

I always wished it was in something more macho, like the Vanderbilts’ railroads but hey, who am I to complain?  By the time women realized, “Hey, you mean if I stop wearing these things, I can breathe?!?,” our money was made.

Most of my adult brothers and sisters have never even moved out but my sister, Iris Nell, was the only one to know that I’d moved back in. She frowned.   

“Look, I know you lost your job but is there any way you could run after it?”

“No. I’ll get something else. Eventually. In the meantime, I’ll just live here.”  And that’s when she told me. There’s a rumor going around that Dad’s money may be going too. Or even gone. How is this possible? It was a lot of money. It was a lot of underwear!  

Wild-eyed, Iris Nell grabbed my shirt sleeve and froze, as if she’d just seen blood oozing out from under my bed.  

“We may all have to get jobs!!!”    

Well, this should be interesting.  As far as I know, nobody in my family can actually do anything.  Our house is really named “Villa de la Lune” but we long ago reduced that to the more aptly titled “Villa de Loon.” I have a feeling that now, this is going to be more true of it than ever.