Posts Tagged ‘The house’

It’s hot, hot, hot. And you’re not, not, not.

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

By Tiber 

It is so hot, there has to be another word for it. I saw some iguanas outside and they were all wearing those little beer can hats with straws.

And, of course, with a melting heat wave, our entire air conditioning system has to give one last choking gasp and then go out.

Make no mistake. man’s greatest invention was not the wheel or the printing press but air conditioning.

Without it, you will die. Not only because you will get heat stroke but also because you and everyone around you will soon end up killing each other.

Dad was too enervated to do anything but Mom, who seldom seizes the lead in anything, instantly took charge.

This may be because out of everyone here, she’s the one, over the years, who has seen the largest number of us naked. Besides the whole family, she’s also seen Taffy, the maid, (the unfortunate cactus incident), Brunty, the butler, (the unfortunate hammock accident) and even Cook (the day the flan exploded).

Knowing that clothes were soon going to be coming off in the heat wave today, Mom floored it into town and somehow found a guy who would not only fix the air conditioning on a Saturday but also do it at a reasonable price.

So civilization has been restored!

Plus, I think we may have found Mom’s Achilles heel.

Anytime we want her to do something, it’s pretty clear that all we have to do is mention that it might be fun if we all gathered together and performed a completely naked conga line that would go bouncing throughout the entire house.

Tea for two-oh sorry, make that tea for one

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

By Tiber

Being unemployed, I thought maybe I should learn some new skill here at the house. Everybody seems to like it if a person can cook well so I figured how hard could it be to whip out a couple of specialties?

Of course, I can’t even boil water.

A tired cliché, you say – except that I actually mean it.

I decided I wanted some iced tea and my sister Vanessa told me to make hot tea first. So I put some water on to boil and proceeded to wait. And wait.

Finally, Vanessa returned and with much eye-rolling, told me that, obviously, I had to turn the heat up higher or else the water would just continue to sit there and stare back at me. So, yes, that’s right. I literally could not boil water.

But I learned!

Unfortunately, there are more steps to making iced tea.

After brewing the tea, I then poured the now boiling water straight into a glass container to chill. Well, come on! I was nervous. Not as nervous as Vanessa, of course, who had to hit the deck to avoid the shard bullets when the pitcher exploded.

I was too annoyed by then to do any actual cooking. But I’ll get back to it. Maybe.  If I’m in the little upstairs kitchen again.

There’s no way I’d use the big kitchen downstairs. Cook would take it as a personal affront that I was preparing food.

And I think it’s always good to remember that the craziest member of our household is also the one who spends entire afternoons…sharpening her own set of knives.

Butler down

Friday, May 6th, 2011

By Tiber

Brunty, my parents’ butler, went missing today.

We’d had some people over last night and they had wanted to try to negotiate the big maze we have out in back.

Dad always gives guests a bottle of wine and a corkscrew so they can at least have a drink if they get lost. But these guests got out of the maze in record time and they left the bottle of wine behind.

When Brunty went into the maze this morning to retrieve the glasses, he’d found the wine and decided to drink it himself.

“Didn’t want it to spoil, sir,” he’d told Dad. (Since unopened wine evidently has the same shelf-life as milk).

We finally found Brunty this afternoon because we could hear him, holed up in the maze and yelling wildly at the birds. Obviously, he’d been passed out.

Under the impression that Hitchcock’s film, “The Birds” was a documentary, Brunty kept insisting that the birds screaming today meant they were preparing for a big attack.

Dad said actually the birds weren’t “screaming” so much as “chirping”  and maybe Brunty just had a hangover instead.

Mrs. Brunty, the housekeeper, (as well as Brunty’s wife) was mortified by the whole thing. She apologized to Dad and said that at least for today, her husband probably wouldn’t be “on his game.”

I think we can manage. For all anyone can see, Brunty’s “game” pretty much consists of  just sitting around and occasionally polishing something.

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.

“Have fun stormin’ the castle!”

Monday, January 24th, 2011

By Tiber

Even though Dad is trying to cut down on expenses, we’re ending up with even more people living here than ever before.

Cook’s recently divorced sister, Saskia, is now living in the gatehouse. Dad still has the security guys but Cook said her sister could earn her keep by doing a little extra screening of any arrivals.

Saskia is as Amazonian as Cook and, it turns out, three times as draconian so whenever anybody she doesn’t remember appears, she’s starting to greet them with the welcome of Cerberus at the entrance to hell.

A woman came up to the gatehouse unannounced this evening and Saskia sprang into full-bore security mode.

She pawed through the contents of the woman’s purse, did a full pat-down on her, made her sing a famous song everybody learns in grade school (figuring a terrorist wouldn’t know it), waved what looked like a ruler over the “suspect’s” hands to “check for gunshot residue” and then made her walk a straight line and touch her nose in a DUI sting.

The woman did not do very well on the last part because, being a WASP and “with the sun over the yardarm,” she’d already enjoyed Happy Hour.

“Ah, ha!” yelled Saskia, having made at least some kind of catch.

“Ah ha, yourself, you dreadful wombat!” the criminal/terrorist retorted. “If you will think back a few minutes, you will remember that I didn’t drive over here anyway but was dropped off by my friend, Henrietta.”

Grandma Noni had a point.

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.”

Our Ghost Is Hosting

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

By Tiber

Not for remotely the first time, one of us has experienced something supernatural in this big, old house. Unfortunately, this time, that “one of us” was me.

I was making popcorn in the second floor kitchen (which we always give thanks for, since going down to the main kitchen and making popcorn will result in Cook’s popping your own head off).

So, I was happy to be in the second floor kitchen until…I heard a loud clank on the far side of the room. The metal corkscrew which I KNOW was resting on the drainboard by the sink had suddenly been launched across the room where it hit the refrigerator.

I didn’t bump it. I was nowhere near it. The house did not settle two feet. We did not have an earthquake..

As you know,  however, we’re well aware that we do have at least one ghost. We think he may have been a pirate.

Of course, with the house being in our family for so long, there’s a good chance we’re also haunted by at least one of our own ancestors.

So the question is, was the ghost just wanting some wine and a talk? Or was it trying to kill me with a pointy, metallic dart?

You’d probably say that sounded more like the pirate. But if my own family is any indicator, that could just as easily have been one of my ancestors.

Maybe the ghost was just trying to get my attention. Or maybe the ghost is hosting a party and he simply tripped and dropped the corkscrew.

Can somebody please get on with it and invent a ghost translating device?

“Look, I know you’re over there, dude, but what the hell are you trying to say?”

It’s just like playing Charades. But they’ve stuck you with the invisible team.