Thursday, March 11, 2010


I love a line from the movie, Inkheart: "Don't just stand there like you're taxidermed!"

Reminds me of an incident that took place during the '70s when we were house-sitting for Dr. E. B. Pannkuk, an orthodontist and deacon in our church. He's a big game hunter so his house is filled with trophy animals from all over the world.

His wife, Marlene, a gracious lady, showed me around the house.
She gave me detailed instructions on how to work everything. Everything included a little remote control for the house alarm system.

"If you need a silent alarm, Kathy, press 7 and the police will come."

"Oh, Marlene, I'm sure we won't need that," I laughed.

My grandmother, Mamie Tippett, joined us there one day. She'd lived in Johnston County, NC, all her life, about 30 miles from our home in Raleigh. So this trek was an adventure for her.
In her day, it really was an all day trip to the capital city by horse and wagon. She was in her 80s when she took her first airplane ride. My cousin, Charles, flew her and buzzed her house. Grandma loved new adventures.
So my younger brother, Ricky, brought Grandma over for supper one evening during our house-sitting week there. She walked around, amazed at all the strange, exotic animals.
Grandma gawked at the lion and eased around the leopard, studying each trophy, beady eyes to beady eyes. Trying to wrap her mind around it, she finally clapped her hands and exclaimed, "Whoooo-eeee! That man musta' gone all OVER North Carolina to shoot this many animals!"

Ricky, always up for a challenge, said, "E.B. told me he swims 40 laps a day in their pool. I'm gonna do that."
Ricky tried it but gave out before finishing. Only when they talked later did he realize that E.B. didn't say laps, he said lengths. It was a long pool...twice as long to my defeated brother!
Uncle Ricky with our Kent and Kimberly celebrating a birthday

I prepared dinner as Ricky milled about the den, picking up what he thought was the TV remote. The TV didn't come on so he turned it on manually then tried the remote again. I was distracted but vaguely heard him muttering about it not working.

"Ricky! That's not a TV remote! It's for the alarm system!"

He sheepishly put it down with, "Oops."

"Just so you didn't press 7..." I admonished.

"I did."

I chuckled. He's such a jokester. He didn't chuckle back. "Rick, tell me you didn't REALLY just press 7!"

"I did."

Still not quite sure I believed him, I continued with supper prep. Then the doorbell rang. Spatula in hand, I answered it to find two, uniformed policemen, "Ma'am, we received an alarm from this house."

I laughed too loudly, nervously explaining at warp speed, "Youseewe'rehouse-sittingforthe Pannkuksandmycrazy,littlebrother..."

They weren't laughing. "Do you have some ID, ma'am?"

I did but it proved nothing. I pointed to my confused grandmother standing beside me. I laughed again and tried to get the levity going. It only went down when I said, "Would I rob a house with my grandmother here and a spatula in my hand?"

My head swiveled left then right, seeking verification, "Ricky! Ricky!" No answer. They probably thought I made him up too. Eventually they realized I was telling the truth. When they left, I fell back against the wall, heaved a sigh and sank straight to the floor.

Ricky descended the staircase, grinning guiltily.

"Where WERE when I needed you, Richard Lee Tippett?! You probably went upstairs to hide when the doorbell rang!" I accused, not really thinking he did.

"I did."

He did!

Don't just stand there like you're taxidermed.

He did.

Neither forgiving nor forgetting,


  1. Kathy,

    You really need to stop plagiarizing old stories from Readers' Digests that people wrote decades ago. Gracious, you'll write anything!

    BTW, I'm the adopted one!

    Still hiding upstairs,


  2. Liar! Liar! Pants on fire, lil bro! You WERE there! You did SO do it! I'm tellin' MAMA!

    Hm-mmmm...however, I might be able to sell this TRUE story to Reader's Digest.

    If I make money, you're forgiven but never forgotten!

    Love you!

  3. Haha, had definitely not heard this one before! Good stuff!

    I very clearly remember that house! Very cool, with all the exotic animals, but as a little girl I was terrified of going in from the pool to use the restroom all by myself…too creepy. Therefore, I am quite sure that I did not contribute to the cleanliness of the pool… ;) Hap-pee times!

  4. I remember that house, oh so well! I first baby-sat there, at the age of twelve. The black and polar bears, the zebra skin on the ceiling, the enormouse male lion, etc. were
    just a TAD creepy to this tween! My FAVE story, though, was the "all over NC"-Grandma
    comment! Love those home-folk!!