Wednesday, July 29, 2009

keeping a list

Iris uber Alles remarked animatedly the other day, "I'm going to keep a list of everyone Momdude calls an idiot! There are so many!"

"Who did I call an idiot?"

Iris mused. "Hmmm.... Oh! Ray Charles[the cat, not the talented singer]! And lots of people driving!"

Friday, July 24, 2009

stirring drama

Iris and Lola are writing a play, which begins with Iris announcing, "Hello, I am an artist, and I would like a martini." I can't really follow the plot well, but at some point they break out into a rousing chorus of "Butts and alcohol! Butts and alcohol! Who doesn't love butts and alcohol!"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

the importance of having good standards

Over burritos tonight I made some mention of maintaining my high standards, and nine year-old Iris uber Alles interjected passionately, "It's very important to have low standards! And then you won't be disappointed! If there's one thing I've learned in all my years, it's to have really low standards!"

"In all those long years?" I asked ironically.

"Yes," said Iris uber Alles with complete seriousness. "I have learned to have really low standards!"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

a need

"Dad-dude, I know why you are so stressed all the time! It is because you don't have an enemy! Everyone needs to have a nemesis! The brain can't function well without someone to hate!" said nine year-old Iris uber Alles excitedly to her father. "You need an ENEMY!"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

beautiful butterflies

"Momdude," said six year-old Lola, staring into my eyes and speaking with the intensity of Christopher Walken in the watch scene from "Pulp Fiction." "I forgot to tell you something. When we were at Dolores Park, I saw a flock of butterflies."

"Oh, that's nice, honey," I said abstractedly.

Lola grabbed my arm. "Now I am afraid of butterflies." She shuddered.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

days of sloe gin and idiocy

On Friday I stopped off at a wine shop to pick up some inexpensive yet fabulous wine and beer, amongst running other errands with my complaining children. Among other distractions and irritations, Lola, who had been charged with carrying a loaf of fresh artisanal bread from the bakery, dropped the bread on the sidewalk after complaining bitterly about having to carry it, and Iris uber Alles fussed about being hot and tired. When we got home, I unpacked all our purchases and found that along with my bottle of wine and bottle of beer, there was a bottle of Plymouth Sloe Gin. I hadn't paid for it.

This caused a crise du conscience. I love Plymouth Sloe Gin (we went through two bottles of it last year in a sloe gin fizz craze), but I hadn't intended on buying a bottle. I really am trying to cut back on spending after the incredible extravagance of buying my baby parrot (who had her first word lately, "hello"; I am so proud). I initially decided to keep the sloe gin, figuring that multimillionaire and mayor Gavin Newsom could afford to give me a bottle of sloe gin (he's half owner of this particular store), plus I have a grudge against that store because they give some customers tastings but never offer me a sip of anything, even when I hold a bottle up and twist it about in my hands pointedly, but then I would be too ashamed to go there again, and it is conveniently located near Lola's dance lessons. I really wasn't raised to be a thief, even an accidental thief, so in the end I called the store and authorized them to charge the sloe gin to my credit card. They were thankful I'd called, having realized the sloe gin went astray.

The next day was a long-awaited, rare date night for the Sober Husband and me. I'd bought us tickets for "Jack Goes Boating" at the Aurora Theatre, a play which had great reviews (indeed Philip Seymour Hoffman, who originated the role of Jack in New York, is turning it into a movie which should come out in 2011). As I was getting ready, the Sober Husband asked me what time the play was. "Eight, I think," I said, wriggling into my fishnets. He wasn't satisfied by that and went off to check, using his iPhone rather than a computer, as is his iPhone-addicted habit. "Seven!" he shouted. "It's at SEVEN, not eight!" He looked at Google maps on the iPhone. "It will take us at least forty-five minutes to get there, and it's at SEVEN."

We'd planned to go by the Triple Rock Brewery first, but that was clearly out. "I'm glad you checked," I said as I brushed my hair and put on make-up.

By six o'clock I was ready to go, in my shoes, with my velvet coat over my arm. The husband was anxious. The children, still in a funk from having been made to do housework that afternoon, were eager to escape from their parents' eyes into the custody of their teenaged babysitter. But where was she? At 6:05 the Sober Husband began to stress. "Relax," I said. "But she's never been late before," he said. He called and left a message. At 6:15 he walked down and knocked on her door, but there was no answer. He came back. "At this point, we can't get to the play on time," he said.

I felt like crying. I had really wanted to see this play, and I'd been looking forward to it all week. Since it was a sold-out show, I called the box office and told them they were free to release my tickets from will call and sell them. The box office woman kindly told me that she'd treat it as a donation to the theatre and send me a letter for my taxes.

We were at a loss, being all dressed up with no ability to go out. "We could all go out to dinner," said the husband, but the children were tired and slobby. We decided to open the sloe gin and have sloe gin fizzes, and I made a list of what we needed (lemons, soda water) and started to make a batch of simple syrup. Then our teenager called, apologetic, saying she could be there in a few minutes.

The Sober Husband, for some unfathomable reason, decided to look at the theatre schedule again. At this point he discovered that he had misread it. The show was at eight, like I'd said, not seven. It was on seven on Sundays. He shared this with me. "Dammit!" I said. "I gave the tickets back, and I didn't have to!"

I made him call the box office, and unbelievably enough they could restore our tickets unto us, and we set out once our babysitter was in place. The play was just what I like, a strong ensemble cast performing a witty script, with an imaginatively done set. On the way home the Sober Husband expressed a desire to see more experimental theatre, rather than "people talking", and I felt defensive. "I always feel like I'm apologizing for my taste to you," I said. "This was what I like. I like this sort of thing. I like to read novels, and I like to see this kind of play. I like Southeast Asian coffee, and I like a strong ensemble play, not a big musical or something with a star." The husband however wants either "old plays that have stood the test of time" or "something more experimental, like in Chicago." In the end, though, which one of us keeps an eye on the theatre listings and knows when there's a play which has good buzz, and which one of us doesn't even read the datebook section of the newspaper? I foresee plenty more witty ensemble plays in the future and a dearth of improv.

The next day we opened the sloe gin and were able to agree upon the sloe gin fizz as one of the world's finest cocktails. "It's fruity, but it's still manly enough for you," I remarked, and we both lifted out glasses happily.

Sloe gin fizz

2 parts sloe gin (preferably Plymouth)
1 part regular gin (I like Tanqueray)
1 part simple syrup
1/2 part fresh lemon juice

Shake over ice, and then pour into a highboy with plenty of soda water. Garnish with a lemon slice if you aren't lazy.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

an insult

Nine year-old Iris uber Alles sized up some friends of Lola's and said to me confidentially, "They look like their mother dresses them! All... The color..." She struggled for words.

"You mean 'color-coordinated,' right? They are so color-coordinated."

"Exactly, Momdude! Exactly!" She felt vastly superior.

The children in question look like they're ready to pose for a Hanna Andersson catalogue shoot at a moment's notice, whereas Iris tends to look like she got lost on the way to Burning Man and Lola usually looks like a hobo's child. I expressed that opinion to Iris, and Iris beamed and reached out to me in a moment of affection for the mother who lets her children choose to be weird or shabby.

This was a change of sentiment from the morning, when Iris scolded Lola severely for wearing a purple butterfly shirt I gave Iris when she was only four, which is tattered but still beloved after five years and two owners. Lola owns many beautiful new pieces of clothing but prefers to wear certain beloved pieces, no matter how may tears, rips, or stains they have acquired over the years. "Someone is going to call CPS if you wear that! CPS!" shouted Iris.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Two severely undersocialized kittens I was given to work with, along with my crack team of kitten tamers, Iris and Lola, escaped and are living in the guts of my dishwasher.

exciting foods

Lola insisted on barbecuing Doritos and chocolate chip cookies today. Iris and I did not try these exciting new foods, choosing instead to stick to corn and potatoes.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

more running in the family

Six year-old Lola has a blog. Today she used the blog to ask me to keep her favorite foster kitten... but I can't. Sigh. It's going to be a very rough day tomorrow, when I turn the kittens back in at the San Francisco Animal Care and Control. Know anyone who wants a very charismatic black or tortoiseshell kitten?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

it skipped two generations --- why not three generations

Lola has always had a lot of special physical gifts. As a baby, she crossed her eyes spontaneously one day, and after everyone reacted with "Look at the baby's crazy eyes!" and doting on her, she made "crazy eyes" forever after. Once I raised one eyebrow at then-toddler Lola, who considered and then perfectly quirked a single eyebrow (her father still can't raise a single eyebrow, and I only taught myself to after considerable effort, during a "Star Trek" phase as a child). These feats were all the more amazing as Lola didn't even talk yet.

Recently she took up sport burping, so much burping that often she is sent into the backyard to spare her mother's sensibilities. An awestruck Iris once returned to tell me, "Lola burped sixty-nine times so far, and it hasn't even been an hour!"

The Sober Husband informed the children that his grandfather had been able to make himself burp on command and how amazing and rare that was. Lola burped at him. "Wait, did she do that on purpose?" Lola burped again, proving that she was indeed burping on command.

Iris got excited. "Lucy, you have GOT to teach me that!" Later Iris came up to me, depressed. "Lucy says that I have to SWALLOW air, not breathe it. Eat it. Then I will burp. But I don't get it."

Later Iris claimed to have mastered this arcane art, but I am not convinced. The two of them go around bragging, "Burping skips two generations. We are the generation that burps. We can burp whenever we want!"

I am not charmed.