Saturday, June 26, 2010

we are not special snowflakes

After the Sober Husband airily and maddeningly announced, in a complete turnaround, that we shouldn't order a new range but instead buy some secondhand piece of crap off Craigslist or eBay, a certain chill descended over the land. Few words were spoken. Couches were slept upon, in an oddly festive way (Lola, seeing her silent, crabby mother bed down on a couch, was thrilled and claimed the other couch, and it was a little living room slumber party).

Then the Sober Husband said contritely that he had looked on Craigslist and eBay and of course there were no 44 inch, dual-fuel, double oven ranges and that he was ready to just order one and be done with it. His cold, mean wife informed him that he should take his time, spend more time looking, but he demurred politely. He ordered an Aga Legacy, which must be shipped from Europe and will arrive in two months. (By then, we'll have been without a stove for going on five months).

In the end, the choice of the Aga was automatic. It was the winelist paradigm. If the stoves were alcoholic beverages, they'd appear on a menu something like this:
LaCanche - the grapes will be lovingly gathered when they have reached optimal ripeness, crushed, then bottled with a label of your personal design. Price upon request.

LaCornue Cornufe - French, magnificent, striking, it's like getting a really great Chateau Margaux. $$$$

Aga Legacy - Toss the winelist aside and order a manhattan, because that's what the Rat Pack drank, dammit. Retro sensibility paired with impressive function (you'll be drunk fast and look cool getting there). $$$

Heartland Paragon - the (formerly) Canadian option. It's the two buck Chuck of dual fuel, double oven ranges. $$
Virtually everyone (except our friend Bob S., a Scottish maverick) orders the next-to-the-cheapest wine off the list whenever they are dining out. When I reached legal drinking age, it didn't take me long to develop that strategy, and I was shamed when as a middle-aged person, I read somewhere that everyone does that all the time. It's so predictable that savvy restaurant owners always stick whatever they want to unload in that price point on the menu. Before we found the Heartland Paragon, we were agonizing over whether to get the Aga or the LaCornue, but once we found the cheapest alternative, the decision was clear in our predictable, typical brains. It was the Aga, the next-to-the-cheapest on the list.

When I was young and headstrong, I fancied myself special, unique, with my own inimitable way of looking at the world. As I aged, I came to realize how utterly predictable and ordinary I truly am. As Chuck Palahniuk has told us all, we are not special snowflakes, we are not unique and beautiful. We're walking meat.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

the story of my life: jerked around by the moody genius

Most people who know us regard me as a hot-blooded, temperamental woman, a veritable shrew, married to a calm, rational man full of brains and equanimity. Oh God, are they all so wrong, so very fucking wrong. If you were to live with us day in and day out, you would come to realize that the cranky, headstrong woman is consistent and reliable, given to strong opinions but living by them in a fairly predictable way, whereas our calm, capable genius is a drama king whose moods and opinions change erratically from moment to moment.

After a decadent night of consuming over $400 worth of sake and sushi on a blind bro-date with a fellow geek, the Sober Husband felt generous towards me. For over a day, he said with kindness and largesse, "You should order whatever stove you want. Get the one of your dreams. You deserve it."

But then, after I decided to take him up on this and not even order the more expensive of my choices but instead get the significantly cheaper range with less powerful burners, he turned on me. He had a bad day at work, leading to some testy email exchanges in the evening, and he was not in a generous or happy frame of mind. The man actually informed me that I should buy something off Craigslist or eBay. I felt like pulling handfuls of my hair out. I reminded him of our very odd space and how only a few European manufacturers made ranges to fit that size and how thoroughly I had googled those ranges. "But there must be someone somewhere who bought one of those stoves and didn't keep it," he said airily.

This is so like him. He's not consistent; he won't stick to a decision. It can be maddening. It reminds me of when we were discussing marriage, and it was clear we were about to become engaged and married, but then he went to visit his Drunken Housewife-loathing mother, who yammered at him day and night about how he shouldn't marry a divorcee (despite the fact that her own husband had been divorced TWICE before she met him), asking him over and over again, "So why do you want to get married?" and barely listening to the response before she let out an "I don't think THAT is a reason to get married." And then there was the time he drove me into a deep hole of depression over financial worries sparked by an impending property tax deadline, only to have him look at me like I was an idiot a week or so later, when I said something pessimistic about money, and say blithely that he'd just written a check for the property tax, we had plenty of money, what was I talking about, silly Drunken Housewife.

In this state, with our lofty genius preoccupied with work matters and our Drunken Housewife seething over her almost-ordered-but-snatched-out-from-under-her range, we had our Big Fat Important Meeting with an orthodontist to review a proposal for putting braces on Iris. I was under the impression that, after research and a second opinion, we were prepared to get braces for Iris, but the Sober Husband was not. "Can you explain to me again the point of this?" he asked the patient orthodontist. "Why are we doing this? It's not aesthetic, is it?"

He's going to drive me to an early, stove-less grave with this will-o-the-wisp behavior.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

coitus interruptus of the gas stove

It's been over a month since my wretched Magic Chef died. Everyone, including me, is so ready for me to stop researching gas stoves, stop nonstop yammering about them, and just frigging buy one for the love of God. Ten year-old Iris uber Alles laments pointedly, "It has been forever since I've had cookies! I need cookies!" Seven year-old Lola bitches, "Just buy the French one! It's obvious!"

Yesterday I drove to the East Bay to see a gourmet appliance outlet which specializes in floor models and expensive appliances which have been slightly damaged and refurbished. There I didn't find anything that worked for me and the limited space in my kitchen, but I did get quoted a price on the Aga Legacy which was $1,600 less than the San Francisco distributor had given me. I asked the salesman to double check that. He went off and made a phone call and came back, assuring me that was the price.

Gloating I drove home, feeling like a victorious bargain hunter. The time was right to buy: the Sober Husband had been complaining for a while, "I don't understand how you cooked all these years on a 30 inch stove and now you need a 44 inch one" and "How can it cost so much when we bought a $200 oven before?" Then on Sunday night he went out on a blind bromance date, set up by a mutual acquaintance, with the chief scientist of one of the internet's most famous companies. The two geeks hit it off so well on this blind bro-date that they closed out a sushi restaurant and consumed $400 worth of sushi and sake, the Sober Husband wandering home after midnight on a work night mumbling, "You know, he's a real regular there at this place, so at closing, after everyone else left, we got this special sake where they had polished all the grains of rice before making it. We'd had two bottles of sake before, but even so, I could tell it was special." After this massive indulgence, somehow the Sober Husband felt generous, and the next morning he said, "You should get the oven you want. The best one."

Thrilled with both this cooperative attitude and the great price on the Aga, I decided to buy. While I was cooking my (in)famous "pasta in the style of the glutton", with slow-cooked carrots on the side, the Sober Husband called the salesman I'd met the day before and told him we wanted the Aga, after telling me again I could get the more expensive French range if I wanted. I felt happy and calm as I sipped my champagne and sauted my potatoes, garlic, and chives. Then the salesman called back. He'd made a $1,600 mistake. He couldn't sell the Aga for any less than the San Francisco distributor could.

"This puts us back at square zero," I fretted. We ate dinner, nothing settled.

the solar system game/reenactment

In Momdude's earlier post, she mentioned the Solar system reenactment game. However, she did not describe it thoroughly enough, which is not okay,--and I am sure that Lucy would agree with me-- because it was hilarious and she herself laughed out loud at it. Here is how it works:

One person (either me or Lucy) is the sun. They stand still and flail their arms in a peaceful fashion (representing the sun's rays. The other person is a planet (any planet, but the game does depend on which planet is chosen.). Then the planet spins around and "orbits" the sun, pretending to be that planet. It ends up being hilarious.


P.S. I am working on a video of the reenactment on my computer, and it will appear here shortly.

middle school awards and the cynical middle-aged

One of my favorite commenters here teaches middle school on the East Coast. At her school, the faculty give out a modest number of awards at the end of the school year, awards which are intended to reward students who really were outstanding. This year they were made to give an award to a severely handicapped student, and our heroine had mixed feelings.

Over at our school, I recently went to the end-of-year assembly for the upper school for the first time, and I was bemused to see that a number of awards are given out for greatness of human spirit, but not a one for academic excellence. Silly me, I had no idea we'd enrolled our children in an academy of the human spirit. If I'd been looking for one, I might have placed the children at an ashram instead.

Monday, June 21, 2010

while the Drunken Housewife is away

On Father's Day, we went off to "Sunday Streets", where major streets are closed to cars for five hours, to get some exercise and fresh air. We took a break from following speeding Lola, who darted through the crowds of bicyclists on her little Razor scooter, "Scooty", for some sustenance. At lunch, I urged the children to think of reasons the Sober Husband is a great father.

One of Lola's reasons was "he lets me eat sugar paper." I didn't get it.

"When you were at class, Lola ate sugar paper!" Iris said.

"You were out at your art class," the Sober Husband began.

Lola interrupted. "I said I would eat anything, even paper, so Daddy got me sugar paper. We put a lot of sugar on top of a piece of paper, and I ate it! I proved I would eat a piece of paper!" She beamed proudly.

They all fondly remembered that moment. "So that's the kind of thing you get up to when my back is turned, eh?" I said.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

a temporary area of expertise

Ever since my wretched Magic Chef gas range expired, I have been spending the vast majority of my time researching stoves. Yesterday we drove down an hour down the peninsula, over the children's vociferous protests, to go to a large appliance store, because online I read that this store had the 44" Aga and La Cornue. It turned out that they did not have the promised ranges, but instead had a mislabeled larger, much more expensive La Cornue and the smaller La Cornues and Agas.

Rather than waste the trip, I pulled the Sober Husband over to the huge La Cornue and told him to investigate it thoroughly. "Poke around in it. Look under the burners. Pull on the doors. Do whatever you need to do." I signed up on the waiting sheet for a salesperson (evidently this particular store is the place to go for stoves in the South Bay; it was hopping with stove shoppers). The bored children invented a game where they acted out the solar system.

Finally I got a superior acting salesman. I briefed him on my way over to the Sober Husband, who was removing and examining whatever could be removed from the La Cornue floor model. "We're looking for a double oven, five or six burner gas or dual fuel range. We don't need a large oven because I'm a vegetarian and I don't cook turkeys. I've narrowed it down to the La Cornue Cornufe or the Aga Legacy, and what I want from you is to tell us if there is something I'm missing, something cheaper." He rolled his eyes at me and said, "I think you will find there is a lot out there. And the Cornufe doesn't have a double oven; it only has a single oven."

I picked up the La Cornue literature in front of me (well-thumbed copies of which I had already at home) and showed him the Cornufe 110's double ovens. "And it has to be under 45 inches, which rules out all the Wolf and Vikings," I said.

The man visibly crumpled under the weight of my superior knowledge. "I didn't know the Cornufe had two ovens. In all my years I've only sold the single oven La Cornue." He went off to consult with the most knowledgeable staff member and returned to say that no, they didn't think there was anything I was missing. The only other options wouldn't be good enough; they would just have one huge oven for turkeys-on-steroids and a little warming drawer oven.

After some quality time with the La Cornue, we walked around all the other ranges, all of which were completely unsuitable. Then the Sober Husband pointed to a stainless steel range. "What's wrong with that one?" I looked at it. It was a Heartland Paragon which looked a lot like the Aga Legacy. "I didn't know this existed. I know Aga bought Heartland." We looked at it very closely. It was obviously the Aga Legacy's cheaper cousin. It was thousands of dollars less, but it had the same double oven and five burners. "It's just flimsier," said the Sober Husband. "Feel the doors." I pointed out that the burners weren't copper.

"So why didn't the guy tell us about this? This is exactly what we're here for," he kvetched.

"It's gotta be from that same factory," I said (I'd learned earlier in my research that my two favorite ranges, one British and one French, are actually made at the very same factory). "After Aga bought Heartland from GE, they must have started this one up at a lower price point, under a different label." We stared at the cheaper, shinier stove. "I guess I just want anything from that factory. It's all about the factory."

At home, I learned that the Heartland Paragon range is only made in stainless steel and that no one distributes it in San Francisco. The Sober Husband, thoroughly sick of the subject, elusively slipped out of the room over and over again as I researched the Heartland and attempted to plan a trip to Oakland to a distributor. "Just buy the French one!" Lola shouted. "It's obvious! Don't make me go anywhere! Just buy the French one! In magenta!"

"Did you notice how I knew more about stoves than the salesman did?" I bragged. The beleaguered Sober Husband succeeded finally in leaving the room, abandoning me to my monomania.

Friday, June 18, 2010

remembrance of psychos past

Not long ago we invited some of our neighbors over for a barbecue. After we'd had several rounds of drinks and plenty of food, somehow the conversation turned to the the new ultra-modern house on the block, its owner, and the highly annoying contractor who built it last year. The man who bought this highly priced, glass modern monstrosity is a bit of an enigma in the neighborhood. I've exchanged waves with him but that's been it. The Sober Husband claims to have spoken to him once, but no one else seems to have managed to meet him.

"He's straight", my next-door neighbor (who like virtually everyone on this block is himself gay)said, for no apparent reason, about the new neighbor.

"No way!" I said. "That is such a gay house. I can't believe that guy is straight."

"He is!" insisted my neighbor. "I think he even had a girlfriend at one point. And he has cats."

Soon we ran out of material on this new neighbor, whose name no one could remember, and we went on to reminisce about the contractor who built that house. (My conflicts with that hot-tempered builder were well-chronicled here). "I thought he was going to attack me," I said. "He tried to sabotage my car, the little psycho, and my husband didn't believe me."

"I believe you," said my across-the-street neighbor, who'd had some unpleasant run-ins with the contractor. "I believe you."

But both my next door neighbor and my across-the-street neighbor took issue with my description of the contractor as "a little psycho."

"He was short!" I insisted.

"He was six feet tall," argued my next-door neighbor.

"No way!" I tried to muster up some drunken evidence to back my contention that the horrible man in question was diminutive. "All the time it was going on, I wrote about him on my blog, and I wrote he was short."

"I'm five ten, and he was taller than me. He was at least six feet," my neighbor said firmly. My across-the-street neighbor concurred.

"I really thought he was short. He didn't seem any taller than me, and I'm five six and a half."

Aga Legacy and La Cornu Cornufe

If you have any information to report regarding either the Aga Legacy or the La Cornu Cornufe range, please, speak now before yer old Drunken Housewife spends far more money than she has on one of them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

yet another odd thing I found myself saying

"I don't care if Lucy 'indirectly called you a pair of shoes!'"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


"Mommy! Lola just did that thing that bothers you!" Iris said insistently.

"But if I didn't see it, it didn't bother me," I argued. Iris was unaffected by this reasoning.

"But Mommy, she did that thing that bothers you," she said with her chin stuck out stubbornly.

Monday, June 14, 2010

fancy stoves and crappy stoves

I have always hated the stove in my house, for the full seven and a half years I've lived here. Why do I hate that wretched range from hell? Well, to begin with, the door doesn't seat well on the actual stove, which is irritating and probably why the front of the oven is significantly cooler than the back. This means whenever I'm baking anything, I need to rotate it, or it will burn on one side and not be done on the other. And the covers for the burners are ill-fitting, and they often slide around or out when I'm using the burners. This has caused me to burn my hands on many, many occasions, a problem I've never had with any other stove I've ever used.

The crappy metal burner covers aren't the only problem with the burners. It is not possible to keep them ignited at very low levels, so I can't simmer a sauce on low. They won't go very high, either. You can't do a stir-fry on that stove.

The broiler is ridiculously shallow as well, rendering it useless. The actual oven doesn't heat up enough to broil, sigh. Additionally, the thermometer broke years ago, so there is no way of knowing how hot the oven actually is. You have to guess whether it's fully preheated or not.

In short, it's a piece of crap, a profoundly frustrating thing, but I've lived with it rather than replace it out of thrift. Then the oven part failed a couple of weeks ago, right as I was in the act of cooking dinner. The Sober Husband thought at first he could repair it himself, by replacing the thermostat, but that proved not to be the case. After he spent a lot of time and bought some parts, he gave up, and I declared that rather than pay to repair this hellhound of an appliance, I'd rather get another one. Since then we've been limited to using the burners only, which has required some creativity on my part when I held dinner parties with no oven.

I only once bought a stove. At my old house, I lived for a couple of years with a wretched all-electric stove I hated (again from thrift), but when I was fixing up the house to sell, I got a cheap gas stove from Sears. Oh, how I loved that $200 stove. It was infinitely better than the electric stove preceding it (and infinitely better than the crappy Magic Chef I unwillingly cohabit with now). I so much regretted not having swapped stoves years earlier. You'd think I'd have learned from that experience, but evidently the call of thrift is strong. I am from New England, after all.

So now the question we must confront is: do we seize the moment and get a double oven gas stove? Or do we act with financial responsibility and get another $200 Sears stove?

I'm a passionate cook. When I have a dinner party, it's difficult for me to get everything done with only four burners and one oven. If I had a double oven, I would actually use both ovens simultaneously from time to time... unlike everyone I know who actually owns a six burner, double oven range but who doesn't cook.

So I have a new hobby these days: learning about stoves. I will sum my new-found knowledge up for you: there are a wide variety of high end ranges which cost about $8,000 each, and I loathe each and every one of those which I have seen. Evidently the typical range-buyer has one and only one thing on her mind: how is she going to cram a massive, steroidal turkey into her oven and what can she do to get this giant corpse cooked faster. I, on the other hand, am a vegetarian. I do not cook turkeys, crown ribs, or big roasts. I do not need a large oven or a convection oven (which blows air about and is meant to cook meat through faster while keeping it bloody). I cook shorter, denser things like gratins and cakes, which are not going to cook as well in a convection oven.

A high end range sold to Americans is typically 48 inches wide, in large part because it has a big grill on the top. As best as I can determine, the only reason you would need a grill that size is for making two or more pounds of bacon at once. Again, I am a vegetarian. I do not need a huge griddle to strew bacon all over.

Reading websites and stumbling through showrooms, I felt despair. I sincerely hated every Viking, Wolf, or Thermador I saw. I was ready to give up and declare that my tastes in stoves, like so many other things, were hopelessly out of the norm and unsatisfiable. Then I met the Europeans, the Agas and the La Cornues. Both Aga and La Cornue have what seems to me to be just the right sized ranges: both 36 inch and 44 inch ranges. The Aga Legacy does have a terribly shallow broiler which would not be much of an improvement over the deceased stove's broiler, but its side oven can be set to have only heat radiating from the top, which would work well for me. The La Cornue has the best burners I've seen, triple rings of fire in brass settings, a powerful virtue, but its website proclaims "This young *La Cornue* line, born under an especially lucky star, is both valiant and impatient to prove its ability to serve you magnificently and faithfully over a long period of time", which does not inspire my confidence.

Reading reviews, I learned that the Aga 6:4 series sparks a lot of complaints, primarily from British people, but the Legacy, the one I like so much, is well-regarded. The one problem Americans seem to have is not being able to cram in their oversized turkeys. "Tell me how you make an 22 pound turkey in this," one woman lamented. "Please tell me." Aga Legacy, you are now my dream stove.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

the only ones

Seven year-old Lola came over to me and looked me in the eye. "The problem is that Holland and I are THE ONLY ONES who don't have American Girls."

"Oh, so you need an American Girl doll?"

"No, I don't NEED one. I'm just complaining."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

nagging pays off for the young

We got off to a slow start this kitten season. First, the annual kick-off, state-of-the-kitten-rescue event occurred when I was still convalescing from surgery. I made it clear to the children that I needed to get my energy level back up before we could get foster kittens (and indeed, at the beginning of the season there are very few foster kittens, not enough to go around with everyone craving kittens after taking the winter off. It's a different story at the end of the summer, with kittens pouring in at the shelter and people working the phones trying to get "someone, anyone, for the love of god could someone just come down and pick up seven more kittens, we're overwhelmed down here").

Then my poor Ray Charles became incontinent and miserable, and I needed to see him to the end of his pathetically short lifespan first. The children could not take this point and were relentless in their nagging.

"When are we getting kittens? Are we getting kittens today? Did you call Toni? Did Toni call?" they harangued me night and day. The end of school, with no kittens, meant a ceaseless day of nagging for me.

Finally I called Toni, the Mother Teresa of Kittens, and said, "These children are hounding me night and day for kittens. I can't take it any more. I have to bring home some kittens tomorrow. Whatever you've got, save it for me."

Now we have four very fluffy gray and white kittens, very tiny ones, found on Potrero Hill. They eat by themselves, but I have to puree their food first. They are cute and messy beyond belief. But do the children spend the day playing with them? No, they do not. They go off to play Club Penguin or Webkinz on line. It's just old Mommy left to do the work of the kittens. I'm missing my dear Ray so much, as Ray always played with and groomed last year's foster kittens, carrying them around and basically running their lives. He was a veritable feline Auntie Mame.

Friday, June 11, 2010

more losses

I went to Borderlands Books the other day and stopped in my tracks. The window had a huge memorial to Ripley, the adorably ugly hairless cat who was the store mascot. Ripley was my cat-away-from-home, a particularly friendly and charming animal with a raucous voice who loved attention. Just two weeks ago I'd had a long snuggle with Ripley, who'd followed me around the store until I picked her up and held her. The children often pestered me to go see Ripley.

Ripley's untimely death at age 7 due to cancer brought back all the grief I'd been suffering over my poor Ray Charles, euthanized before he'd turned two. I cried.

And then I learned that my favorite restaurant of the last few years, Las Ramblas, had closed. The Sober Husband wasn't sympathetic over that last loss. "Restaurants come and go," he said callously. "And don't you like that other Spanish restaurant? That one we went to?"

"They don't even have churros there!" I said. "It's not the same!"

He rolled his eyes. "I can see your point about the cat; that's sad, but I think you're being over-sensitive about the restaurant. Isn't your favorite restaurant Fleur de Lys anyway?"

"I can't afford to eat at Fleur de Lys these days!" I said hotly. A meal at Fleur de Lys sets me back $200-300 a person. "I haven't been there since the nineties! How can it be my favorite, if I never get to eat there?"

I could see the Sober Husband visibly censoring himself on the topic of my spending out of consideration for my bereaved state. Soon enough the children's merry squabbling distracted us from our depressing conversation.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


First grader Lola informed the Sober Husband today: "I speak many languages. I speak English, pig Latin, gibberish, and Momdude. 'Daddude' isn't really a language, so I don't speak that." She gestured animatedly. "It's really kind of geeky talking, tech stuff."

Without rising to the bait, the Sober Husband took her back a step. "When you say you 'speak Momdude', what do you mean?"

Lola enjoyed the chance to explicate her learned theories. "Well, for example, when you ask Momdude a question she doesn't want to answer, she does this." From where I was, I couldn't see what she did, but the Sober Husband oohed and aahed over her acuity.

"Wait!" I interjected. "What is this?"

Lola came over to me. "Let's say for example, I ask you, 'Are we getting kittens?', and you don't say anything. You do this." Lola stuck her chin out at an angle.

The gesture had no familiarity to me. The Sober Husband chimed in. "It's true. When you're asked a yes or no question, and you don't want to say no, you do that." He moved his face in an imitation of Lola's, in a way that looked completely alien to me. He continued explaining. "You reject the binary nature of yes or no questions." He and Lola beamed at each other. I was nonplussed.

Friday, June 04, 2010


today i went to the orthodontist and he brought horrible news... BRACES!!!!!!!!!
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (running around the room screaming,).
i have lost all of my baby teeth and i have 2 wisdom teeth... so now i "can receive treatment", meaning get horrible horrible painful horrible braces and also wearing headgear! but i don't have to wear headgear at school...but still horrible!


p.s. from her mother: she has 2 "twelve year molars", not wisdom teeth, and also I got a parking ticket while we were at the orthodontist, Lola's earring got ripped through her earlobe in gym, and a bee flew in our car as I was driving, causing Lola to go into hysterics and nearly making me crash the car. It's been a lovely day! On the bright side, Iris's orthodontist is named Jetson Lee, which I consider possibly the best name ever. If you're going to have an orthodontist, it might as well be one with a breathtakingly awesome name. - the D.H.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

interludes with Iris

The Guilt Trip: The children do love to hold a grudge against us, the parents, and recently Iris uber Alles spoke at length about a well-cherished parental misstep.

"Remember the time you forgot about me? And I was the last person picked up from extended care? The extended care teacher went home already!"

"When was this?" I asked cautiously.

"In February."

"Oh, when I was recovering from surgery. It wasn't my fault, then."

Iris remarked cuttingly, "Daddude, you only came to get me because I used the computer at extended care to text message you! You forgot about me! Everyone had gone home, and I had to sit out front by the receptionist!"

The Sober Husband's attempts to defend himself were shouted down, but soon enough he was off the hook, as Iris grew distracted by another convenient target of resentment, her little sister. "Lucy got to stay home that day, because she was 'sick.' She got to stay home with Momdude! How come Lucy got to stay home and just hang out with Momdude?"

Her future in politics: Recently Iris remarked, a propos of nothing, "I want to be a politician when I grow up, or a designer. I would like to be a politician because they control people's lives and run things!"

She's being encouraged in this ambition by her teachers. The other day when I picked her up at school, her teacher murmured to her as he held the car door for her, "Iris, tell your mom about how you're going to be a politician."

"Tell me about what happened today that you're supposed to tell me," I instructed her.

With great relish, Iris announced, "Today I questioned authority." She paused to let that take effect. "I asked why we get report cards, and the teacher said, 'So we can see how good a job we are doing teaching you.' That is so not true! So I said, 'Then the teachers should get report cards, not us.' Then someone said we kids should give them report cards, but I said no, it should be someone in the administration, because kids might take it out on them that we don't want to go to school." Iris carried on. Evidently she'd next veered into a perennial flogging-the-dead-horse topic of hers, the ERB standardized test, which Iris views as an offensive waste of time, and the teachers' defense was that it's much worse in public schools, where the children spend a lot more time being tested and a lot more time preparing for the tests. Iris drew herself up. "So I said, 'We're not in public school; we're paying for private school so we don't have to put up with that.'" She denounced the you're-better-off-than-the-public-school-students defense as lame and hypocritical. "And then it was cutting in to time for science, so I had to shut up."

We all reflected upon this. Then Iris said musingly, "Some day I would like the be the first dictator of the whole world. I would control everyone's lives!"