Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Worm and the Bird

Summer 1976.

It was the summer between 3rd and 4th grade. It was Saturday morning and I had walked to the candy store to spend my one dollar weekly allowance. Upon returning home I saw a worm floundering around on the warm concrete near the front porch steps. I picked the guy up, dug my finger into the dirt a few feet away, placed the worm and covered him with soil. Heck, didn’t want the guy to cook up on the hot sidewalk.

A few hours later a neighborhood friend came to visit. We’ll call him Williams. Playing in the yard, possibly with the dog or playing catch, we found a wounded bird. Bum wing. At my mom’s prompting we got a shoe box and placed the bird inside for safe keeping to take it to the animal shelter.

Remembering the worm I ran out to the front yard and, to Williams’ amazement, dug into the soil with no hesitation and retrieved the worm. I placed it in the box for the bird.

“No way! How did you know there was a worm there,” exclaimed Williams laughing effusively.

I tried to explain what had transpired earlier that morning but he was too overtaken with disbelief to comprehend. He proceeded to ask several times more about how I knew to dig in that exact spot for a worm.

[Side note: How about the worm’s wild swing in fortune. Saved one moment from a hot concrete sidewalk to the cool cuddlings of an earthen hole. Next moment pulled from its cool soil cocoon to be offered up as a snack to an ailing bird.]

Moral: Don’t bask idly in your good fortune. Revel in it, but keep moving.

Friday, February 27, 2009

An Oddball

[Note to the gentle reader: The following is not an endorsement of the behavior being described. It is merely an eyewitness account of a day in the life of an oddball.]

Dad Klem told of a school classmate a goodly number of years ago from his early days in Michigan. This classmate caught two flies and pulled their wings off. But wait, there’s more. The guy tied a string around their necks (or the similar part in insect terms - my nomenclature is lacking in this area) connecting the two flies. He then tied this same string to a matchbox. The flies, having no wings yet seeking movement, walked and pulled the matchbox like a miniature, and homely, set of oxen.

My dad recalls this fellow as being excessively patient and a bit of an oddball.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Haircut Day

Going back to when I was a little rascal haircuts were conducted by Mom Klem. My siblings are four boys and a girl, the youngest. Roughly once per month haircut day turned up on the schedule, but only for the boys. This is how one subject remembers it.

It was late in the evening when mom placed a bed sheet on the kitchen floor. A stool was set up in the middle of the kitchen on the sheet, got the buzzers out with the varying length clippers spread out on the kitchen counter, and called the boys in one at a time. She would then sheer her boys with the efficiency of a sheep shearing operation. There is legend that Mom Klem once had to wrastle a guy to the floor and hold the rogue down to finish the job, but the job got done. I don’t personally recall this episode so I think I’m clear of the offending behavior.

[Side note on Mom Klem’s practical sensibilities: Haircut day always preceded ‘washing the floor’ day. Any loose shards of hair would be picked up the next day should they succeed in eluding the sheet.]


Wife Klem and I were in a very large wholesale/retail store and saw a haircutting set. Buzzers. At Wife Klem’s suggestion we made the purchase. The next generation of Haircut day had arrived!

My boy’s hair seems to grow faster than my own. When Wife Klem sees his hair getting too shaggy he is advised that haircut day will be shortly forthcoming. We found that advance notice helps to decrease the extent of the physical scuffle at haircut time.

The picture of elegance is as follows: Stool is set up on the back patio, buzzers and electric razor for the neck are laid out on the patio table, sucker issued to appease the boy, plug in buzzer, cut. My haircut immediately follows the boy’s. After me I sweep up and we’re done until next time.

[Photo: The boy on stool reviewing a notebook of his own drawings of extreme Hot Wheels tracks while the cut is in progress. He’s a busy guy with no time to waste.] [Photo removed by Klem on 7/26/2010]

Haircuts used to be a real battle with the bellyaching, the boy’s bellyaching, not mine. But it’s a smooth operation these days and is generally conducted in good spirits.

Haircut day was Sunday.

“Mommy, I want a hole in the back like dad,” said the boy laughing and mocking his old man’s budding bald spot. Laugh it up boy, your time will come.

Thanks for the cut, Wife Klem. It looks and feels great!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Day I Ate a Fly


I was in 4th grade. The kids wore uniforms at this elementary school. The boys wore dark blue corduroy pants, no jeans or shorts, and a collared blue short sleeve shirt. I remember this day being slightly gloomy with a gray sky overhead. It was sweatshirt weather, but not exceedingly cold. This was the day I ate a fly.

At lunch I’d abscond with my lunch pail to our assigned dining area, find an eating partner or two, and eat the thing. There was no cafeteria, you ate what your mamma packed for you. Three faces come to mind as witnesses of the above noted event. We’ll call them Deeney, Goey, and Montagna.

I had been talking to my lunchtime chums and upon concluding my monologue I quickly bit down on my sandwich. I don’t know why I made a spectacle of myself in this manner, perhaps a move of emphasis as to what I had been saying. In any case, I bit and chew.

First they had the look of surprise and horror and this immediately transformed to much laughter. I was told a fly had landed on my sandwich as it was making its vertical ascend toward my pie hole and the fly didn’t make it out. I had taken an initial look at the sandwich then averted my eyes once it was visually cleared for Go. I didn’t see it, the fly, but my sudden movement had apparently captured a usually elusive insect. The perfectly timed reactions of the three was too clean to have been orchestrated off the cuff.

I denied their claim that I had eaten a fly. But I was doing little more really than trying to convince myself of that fact. I chewed and swallowed it, fly and all. I finished the sandwich.

To my knowledge I am yet to eat a caterpillar, worm, beetle, stink bug, spider, or boll weevil.

Monday, February 23, 2009


My parents’ dog passed away last night peacefully in her sleep. Mulligan was a good dog of questionable beginnings. She was a stray living at an industrial building managed by Dad Klem.

A new tenant was moving into the building and a stray dog living on premises was not going to be conducive to business. My maternal grandfather, Grandpappy Tedesco, was at the time a widower and feeling lonely. After some discussion a match was proposed and made. Mulligan and Gramps became roommates.

Mulligan, a common golf term for taking a do-over that would not be counted on the scorecard, seemed an appropriate name for this dog. She got a mulligan herself when she was whisked off from her life on the streets to live with gramps and then with my folks after grandpa passed away.

We assumed that she had met with some abuse or harsh treatment over the years living on the streets fending for herself. She was leery of human contact. In her early years living with grandpa she wouldn’t let anyone she didn’t know to touch her until after several visits. Interaction was going to happen on her terms on a time frame that she felt was appropriate. She eventually changed and liked human contact and being petted. Although she sensibly remained her old self when in the vicintiy of a toddler what with their erratic behavior and movements.

Mulligan had been ailing badly for a few weeks and her passing away had become expected. It was lately more a matter of do we let her time come naturally or the grueling decision of do we put her down to save her from the pain and suffering.

My family and brother’s family had dinner at my parents’ house last night. It’s a biweekly occasion, Sunday night dinner with mom and dad. It was our last night with Mulligan. I wonder if maybe she held on long enough to see us all one last time.

Wife Klem astutely noted that Mulligan’s gift to my parents was that she passed away on her own rather than making my parents live with the decision of putting her down.

She was a good dog. She made Gramps very happy at a time when he needed someone.

Sweet dreams, Mule.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Adventures of Jackie - The Perfect Day

I posted a brief story on Feb. 15, The Adventures of Tedesco, with the main character based on my boy. Not wanting my daughter to feel slighted I counter here with a second story. This one with the character based on my daughter.

The Adventures of Jackie - The Perfect Day

Jackie awakened one warm sunny Saturday morning. Lying in her pink bed with the overstuffed pillows, dolls, and stuffed animals she was barely visible from amongst the adorable clutter. She was only five but had successfully explained to her parents that she slept best when all her animals and dolls were in bed with her.

Looking around her sun splashed room she saw her neatly piled boxes of games and climbed down from her bed. Wearing her favorite pink pajamas with snowmen she opened her Monster Madness game and set it up. With the pieces assembled on the board she began the game and played the part of both players. She spun the arrow, moved each game piece, and selected the appropriately colored monster from the board as determined by where the arrow landed. It was a close game, but she won! Putting the game and all its pieces back in the box she returned the game to the pile.

Everyone else was still was asleep. Stepping around her good dog who had been sleeping just outside her door, she entered her big brother’s room. Tedesco, eight years old, was still asleep. Jackie flicked his ear lightly and he brushed at his ear. Smiling she did it again. Again he brushed at his ear. Finally on the fourth flick he woke up laughing, “Jackie, what are you doing?”

“It’s Saturday, sleepy head, what are you doing sleeping in?”

Anxious to be enveloped in the pleasures of the weekend the kids went into their parents’ room and jumped on the bed. Groggy, but familiar with the usual Saturday morning antics, mommy and daddy were not alarmed nor angry.

Going downstairs as a team and settling up for breakfast mom and dad realized that they didn’t have any breakfast foods.

“Sorry guys, it was such a busy week that we didn’t have time to go to the grocery store. We don’t have any strong food,” said dad apologetically. “You’ll have to eat cookies for breakfast. Oh, and Jackie, I’ll also get you two big scoops of cake frosting.” She preferred her cake frosting without the bothersome cake to get in the way.

“Yum yum yummy,” accepting her breakfast plate.

“I’ll pour you some lemonade,” mommy added.

It was such a lovely day they decided to go for a walk to the park. “Jackie, would you like to ride my shoulders,” asked daddy as they left the house. She accepted gladly.

What wonderful luck. It turned out that several ponies from My Little Pony were having a picnic. Seeing their friend, they came by to say hello. The ponies and Jackie were classmates in first grade.

“Hi, Jackie, want to play with us,” the ponies asked her.

“Mommy, is it OK if I play with the ponies,” she asked.

“Of course, stay where we can see you girls. Nice seeing you at the park, ponies,” said mommy.

The ponies took turns giving Jackie a ride around the park. Then they played at the playground with Tedesco.

It was almost noon so Jackie said good bye to the ponies and she walked home with her family.

“It’s my turn to carry Jackie,” said mommy. Jackie relented.

The kids washed their hands and prepared for lunch and a video. It was Jackie’s turn to choose the video and she chose the animated movie Monster House. She likes scary things.

“Hey, guys, we should have gone to the store after breakfast. We still don’t have any strong food. You’ll have to eat ice cream cones for lunch. Would that be OK,” asked daddy. “Tedesco, you can have the mint-chocolate chip and Jackie can have a vanilla cone. If you’re still hungry eat a few lollipops until you’re full.”

That afternoon everyone played board games. Candyland - Jackie got the Frostine card every game, Chutes & Ladders - Tedesco kept landing on the chutes. Dino-opoly, Hullabaloo, and Balloon Lagoon, or Balloon Galloon as Jackie called it. She won every game. Unstoppable.

When the family finally made an outing to the grocery store mommy and daddy forgot the shopping list on the refrigerator. They asked Jackie if she remembered what was on the list.

With the bags filled with candy, gum, juice boxes, chocolates, fruit roll ups, assorted colorful boxes of sugar cereal, and soda pop they drove home. Her parents didn’t realize their mistake until they got home. Checking their grocery list it turns out they didn’t get anything they needed. Jackie and her brother dined that evening on milk shakes with sprinkles and a big bowl of marshmallows.

After dinner they rode their bicycles in the back yard and didn’t fall down even once. Then they worked on their coloring books. They stayed in the lines and didn’t break any crayons.

At 8:00 the kids brushed their teeth and went to bed without any fuss. Mommy and daddy had forgotten to give baths.

With her dog just outside her bedroom door Jackie went to sleep. You could barely see her through all the dolls, stuffed animals, and overstuffed pillows.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chase, the Game.

I hail from a family of five siblings. I rank in as child #3 with two older brothers, they are more rank than I, and a younger brother and sister being less rank. Five kids. Not a huge number of offspring, but enough to create confusion and cast doubt as to blame from broken windows to unwelcome paint and crayons on the walls.

As us kids got older it could sometimes necessitate a larger degree of difficulty for entertainment to keep amused. A game of Strongman worked fine when we were youngsters of twelve and under. This was often played on Grandma and Grandpa Tedesco’s front lawn after Sunday night dinner while waiting for the parents to issue their final good byes.

The game entailed all participants to try to tackle the standing Strongman. Once he was toppled the toppler became Strongman. Repeat process. By the time the teen years hit this was a distant but remembered past time. We had moved on to the likes of Chase.

I don’t know under how many configurations Chase was engaged, but when I participated it always involved a driver, a runner, and a capturer.


Sample scenario: Three Klem brothers lounging around the house on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

“Let’s play chase.” Or simply, “Chase?” would propose one.

Invariably the answer was yes. Youngest Klem boy, usually employed as the runner, would bolt out of the house heading due south toward the 7-11 one mile away [the location had been preset by tradition]. The eldest would get car keys and we would get in the vehicle looking for the runner. When a visual had been made, vehicle would pull near the curb, stop, and the capturer would hop out of the vehicle and tackle the runner. Preferably on grass.

Much guffawing and chuckling ensued. Drive continued to 7/11 where the runner was rewarded for enduring the more strenuous role of Chase. A Slurpee. Make it large.

Fun times.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Compiled Quotes

“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” Dorothy Parker, writer [1893 - 1967]

Brick walls are there to keep out those who don’t want in badly enough.’ Randy Pausch, professor Carnegie Mellon University [1960 - 2008]

“People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, philosopher [1803 - 1882]

Monday, February 16, 2009


I have an uncle, my pop’s older brother, the classy one. He was a Navy man from 1951 to 1953. Maryland. Although he never experienced the glory of being based on a battleship or some such warring vessel, he was for a two week stretch based on a barge. Other than this illustrious barge duty he was firmly attached to terra firma. In a recent conversation he mentioned that he would periodically purchase moonshine while in the Navy.

He and his Navy colleagues, so I hear, were avid partiers. At one shin dig he got to talking to an old guy and was offered a sip of moonshine. “It was clear, not colored, and smooth,” he seemed to be recalling favorably as he described it to me, “and very strong.” The old guy explained to my uncle from whence the moonshine came and how he too might obtain a bottle.

Protocol went as follows: He and his buddies would drive to the beach, park the car, hike up into the forest to the designated tree stump. Put down $2, place a rock on the bills and walk away. Returning in ten minutes a pint of moonshine now stood where the bills had been. Hike back to the car, return to Navy-issued room, drink up.

Moonshining, in this day and age, has my curiosity raised. Buying moonshine or the product of a still or device of unknown quality or cleanliness does not strike me as inviting. But I guess the biggest question I have for my uncle is, “Why not just go to the liquor store and get what you need?”

Regardless, thanks for your service, Uncle.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Adventures of Tedesco - A Day At the Park

I wrote a brief adventure for my boy placing him as the main character a few years in the future. I tried to stay close to the car racing / Hot Wheels theme in which he’s been totally enmeshed as of late. The silly guy enjoyed it. That pleased me.

Adventures of Tedesco - A Day At the Park

Tedesco awakened early on Saturday morning. His dog was at the bottom of the stairs wagging her tail to greet him good morning. His mom, dad, and sister were still asleep. He helped himself to a pair of pop tarts and got a cool drink of water. He saw that his dog also needed water and refilled her bowl.

He was in the family room designing a radical new Hot Wheel track on his computer when everyone else came downstairs. The family had plans to go to the park after breakfast. Tedesco was anxious. The park was going to be fun. Not because of the slides and swings that he used to enjoy when he was a young kid, but at 14 years old he was looking forward to the race car show that was at the park today.

The family got to the park early while all the cars and hot rods were still being set up, arranged, and prepared for the viewings. Dad bought hamburgers, fries, and pops for everyone. Tedesco was a growing boy and the single hamburger was not enough.

“Mom, I’m still hungry. May I have a few dollars, please? I’d like a large hot dog with everything on it,” said Tedesco rubbing his belly.

“I don’t know where you keep putting it all. You already ate four of your dad’s pancakes for breakfast and two eggs. Here you go,” handing him a five dollar bill.

Eating the last bite of his burger he thanked his mom and walked to the snack shack. He placed his order and then noticed a couple guys arguing about something. They were a few years older than he was.

“No, I can’t do it. My ankle is hurt. I can’t drive. The race is off,” explained one of the guys.

“There’s no canceling out. This was to settle things. You race or you lose,” said a boy in jeans and a blue t-shirt.

“If you can’t race, then you lose. You’ll have to give him your Hot Wheels collection,” said a third guy.

“No way. That wasn’t the deal,” said the first boy with the hurt ankle.

“Then you’ll have to find someone else to race for you. How about him,” said the boy in the blue shirt pointing to Tedesco who was watching and eating his hot dog.

“Hey, man, you want to drive this car?” said the hurt boy limping toward Tedesco. “I got in an argument with that guy in the blue shirt last week about who’s car was better. He said that we should race and the winner gets the other guy’s Hot Wheels collection. Then I hurt my ankle skateboarding. I can’t lose my Hot Wheels! They’re awesome! You gotta help me,” he explained.

Chewing down the last of his dog Tedesco said, “I feel bad for you, but I’m only 14. I don’t even drive yet.”

“Look, you know the Hot Wheels video game, don’t you,” asked the boy with the ankle.

“Of course. Who doesn’t,” Tedesco retorted matter of factly.

“Well, my car has been modified so that it drives using the same kind of controls. Take a look,” said ankle.

Peeking into the vehicle Tedesco saw that this car did indeed have the video game controls instead of the steering wheel. “Easy, yeah, I can drive this. Where are you guys racing?”

“Right over there,” pointing to a race track just beyond the park. The park was equipped with sweet safety features that prevented the cars from smashing together and keeping the drivers safe. “I tell you what. If you beat that guy, I’ll let you pick any two Hot Wheels from his collection. What do you say,” asking Tedesco hoping that he’ll say yes.

Tedesco looking at the other driver then back to the guy with the bad ankle, “I’ll do it. But I want three cars and another hot dog if I win.”

Smiling very large, “That’s a deal. Hey, what’s your name anyway?”

“Tedesco,” getting into the car, starting it, putting on the seat belts, checking the mirrors, revving the engine, and then driving to the starting light.

All the guys assembled at the track. They watched as the starting light went from Red . . . Yellow . . . GREEN.

The other guy got off to a fast start and was way ahead of Tedesco. But staying calm and cool Tedesco was still getting familiar with the controls and the contour of the track. The car was accelerating nicely and the traction was great. He was slowly gaining on the other car when the other driver dumped some slippery oil onto the track. Tedesco saw this and deftly avoided the mess and retained control of the car. The race continued to be close but Tedesco still trailed. As they approached the last lap the other driver accidentally drove over the oil that he dumped onto the track the lap before. He lost control of his car and crashed into the padded sides. Tedesco raced past and crossed the finish line. The checkered flag was waving wildly.

The other driver felt bad about losing the race but it was his own fault. He didn’t race fair when he dumped the oil. He shouldn’t have cheated and that ended up costing him the race.

The guy with the bad ankle was very happy with his race effort and let him pick the three Hot Wheels, “You were so awesome out there!” He was so happy that he also bought him a milk shake to go along with that hot dog.

“You were gone for a while,” said his mom when he returned to his family.

“Yeah, I was talking to some guys by the snack shack,” he said.

“Where’d you get those Hot Wheels and the milk shake,” his mom asked.

“There was a special today,” said Tedesco handing his Hot Wheels to his dad to see. “Do you want some milk shake,” sharing it with his younger sister.

The family walked on toward the show cars, “What’s for dinner tonight,” asked Tedesco.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Boy’s Job Interview for Mattel

My boy really likes Hot Wheels. I mean a lot. The only other interest that has reached similar proportions was dinosaurs. That peaked at five years old, he’s seven now.

Over the years we’ve checked out many dinosaur books from the library. His knowledge in this area was such that on several occasions he identified misnamed dinosaurs in books we checked out, author and publisher errors. The Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex, for example look very similar. We’ve come across books with drawings of an Allosaurus, but the captions may refer to it as a T-Rex, and vice-versa. When asked how he knew he would say that the Allosaurus had three-claws per arm to the T-Rex’s two claws. He is correct. How could the authors and publishers screw up?

This slackening dinosaur interest has been a gain for Hot Wheels. The pendulum has swung so far that he recently said he no longer wants to get a job at a museum. He had mentioned a number of times that he wants to work in a museum after school before becoming a paleontologist. I don’t think he’s completely turned the corner on a future in paleontology, but he has now said that he is interested in a job at Hot Wheels.

We went online looking for career opportunities for Hot Wheels. We found out that Hot Wheels is a division of Mattel Inc. and that there was a Human Resources job available at Mattel 30 miles from home. I suggested that we review the job prerequisites and do a mock interview to help him prepare to improve his job prospect. After mentioning that he could buy many more Hot Wheels with the money he earned from the job he consented to the interview. The ensuing video documents the effort:

[Video was removed by klem on 5/15/2009.]

I may have to admit that his attention span and stamina may not yet be ideal for gainful employment.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Umbilical Cord and the Bully

The birth of a child is an amazing process. We can be thankful that there are medical professionals and specialists in this field.

Our second child, a daughter, was born on 9/13/2004. The details of which will be sparse here in an effort to keep on point. I’m not a guy who shows his strongest side at the sight of blood, giving of blood, medical procedures, medical discussions, or needles. How I managed to witness both birthings without passing out I’m not sure. I guess I figured that if Wife Klem’s strong enough to do the hard part I’d better try to muscle through in my spectating capacity.


Child two arrived, baby was crying, got toweled off, still crying and the doctor turns to me and says, “Dad, do you want to cut the cord?”

I’m hanging onto consciousness on the strength of what remains of my adrenaline boost. [No, I didn’t get a shot, but viewing the birthing process furnished me with a self-induced adrenal kick.] There’s a flurry of medical people in the room, blood, a Pretty Mommy that could do with some comforting and a crying baby that’s awaiting review of all critical parts. The doctor, meanwhile, is looking to me, the most inconsequential person in the room.

“No thanks. Go ahead,” I respond happy that the actual birthing is done and hoping to get to my wife.

“You don’t want to,” asks the doctor surprised still giving me his full attention.

“I’m good, thanks,” Klem.

“Dad, come on. Are you sure,” not relenting.

Wife Klem, fresh off the birthing, is even trying to get the doctor off me, “He doesn’t want to. Just cut it.”

Looking to conclude this silliness so that the two patients can get the needed medical attention at this critical time, “OK” taking the giant scissors and cutting the thick piece of flesh like so much twine.

Sitting back down and watching the medical folk complete their tasks. ‘I’d just gotten bullied by an MD,’ I contemplated. Unkind.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

One’s Aging Metabolism

A hypothetical adolescent or youth has just gotten in a good gorging. Abundantly generous portions of dinner followed by the knocking back of two slices of cake for dessert. Lots of food. But heck, the youngster is growing and the body needs the fuel. An adult, a jealous adult, beyond their peak calorie-burning years has observed the impressive feat of consumption and wields a vague remark about ‘Wait until your metabolism slows down when you get older’.

A young adult topped off a rambunctious Friday night of drinking too much beer by then awakening early Saturday morning for a few hours of full court basketball. An elder remarks that ‘You’re not always going to be able to do that after imbibing so much hooch’ remembering that their own body too was once able to rebound so succinctly after a rugged evening of carousing.

The above noted young adult and youth, having no concept as to what bodily repercussions await their aging metabolism, smile and proceed with no further thought to those warnings issued by the respected elders.


I recall my comeuppance. I was 27, my professional career yet in its infancy. I was active and exercised regularly and was not concerned in almost any way in regard to the prospects of a faltering weight or dimensions of my belly. But I do distinctly recall the afternoon visiting the tailor and for the first time in my life explaining that I needed my waistline taken out on a pair of favored trousers.

I felt as if my body were changing in the horrible way in which I’ve heard adults warn. My youth was a thing of the past. What other bodily horrors and changes await me up ahead? I was afraid. I had come to know the fragility of my humanity.

Fourteen years have passed. I have discovered more of those feared changes. Crummy unappreciated health of youth.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Circle of Defense

Our second child, the girl, was born September 2004. She immediately became a focus of her brother’s antics and games. She was still only a baby at the time of the Circle of Defense.

Feb. 2005

Wife Klem and I were reading the Sunday morning newspaper amidst a leisurely breakfasting. The baby had been placed on a blanket on the floor in the family room. At only a few months old she was immobile.

The boy was four years old at this time. Dinosaurs were his passion and fascination. He had amassed a large collection of plastic dinosaurs and they lived in a tub with lid. It was not uncommon for him to carry his tub of dinosaurs to a room of his choice and set up a diorama. “I’m gonna make a scene,” he’d explain. Sometimes it was a massive battle scene with meat eaters against the plant eaters. Sometimes, just to mix things up, it might be dinosaurs versus mammals versus reptiles and amphibians. It was his father’s pride to see the boy put his categorization skills to such industrious use.

On this particular morning he had incorporated his baby into the scene, “my baby” as he was apt to say. When Wife Klem and I checked up we saw that he had arranged his dinosaurs entirely around his baby sister. She had been circumnavigated. With the immobile infant in the center he had arranged for a Circle of Defense.

[Photo of defense perimeter while still under construction.] [Photo removed by Klem on 7/26/2010.]

There are times when we can all benefit from a Circle of Defense.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Klem's Book of Observations, excerpt ii

. Rarely are you driving in shade.

People who say ‘no pun intended’ are liars.

Everyone can use an occasional expunging.

Bald heads. I like it when they’re polished and shiny.

The butt. A tremendous concept. And so amusing.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

25 random things about me

This ‘25 Random Things’ theme has been getting much play on Facebook. I’ve abstained from responding but find myself too weak to abstain any further. Made the following list, but accidentally came up with 30 things. I present them here for your amusement and ridicule.

1. I avoid taking deep breathes when in the vicinity of dumpsters.
2. I weighed in at my all time high of 172 lbs. Wife Klem was pregnant with our first child. You know, on-purpose sympathy weight.
3. Undermounted sinks. It’s the only way to exist.
4. Surface space. There can never be enough of it.
5. I’m annoyed, but tolerant, when people say, “Bless you” after a sneeze. It’s just a sneeze. Let it go.
6. I’ve never taken drugs. But beers? Yes. Large amounts that would embarrass me if my mom were to know.
7. A buddy and I used to smoke cigars at parties in high school. It was our thing. Silly creatures, we were.
8. I have a weakness for dogs. They’re lovely beasts.
9. I’m a beer snob. But any beer with an alcohol content of 9% or more is not a desirable concoction.
10. I once belched the alphabet in college. I had plenty left over and should have kept going.
11. I was proud of my boy the day he threw up but made it to the sink before he blew up. Sure, he was feeling punk, but no clean up work!
12. I like being married.
13. I used to relish going out on Friday and Saturday nights. Absolutely no longer. Kids are the perfect excuse now.
14. My weekends as a bachelor revolved around seeing my buddies and where we were going to be on Friday and Saturday nights.
15. I knew Wife Klem was the one when we started dating and I wanted to be with her instead of my chums.
16. I prefer to watch a big ball game on tv rather than live. Even if the tickets were free.
17. The clear BIC pens with blue ink are my writing implements of choice.
18. I relish Friday Night Movie Night with Wife Klem. It’s our family tradition. Kids are in bed and we fire up a movie about 8:30 pm.
19. I’m self conscious about my tiny wrists. How are these things so small?
20. I think I have a writing compulsion. Honest.
21. I find my facial hair to be an annoyance. But I find facial hair amusing on others.
22. I’m a certified SCUBA diver. Once while 35-feet deep I felt ill and threw up through the rented regulator. Felt much better. I swam through the orange cloud of chum.
23. Decades ago I watched a college basketball game. I was 10-years old. Assumed that I’d one day be able to slam dunk when I was full grown and looked forward to it. The much coveted dunk was never attained on a regulation height hoop.
24. I’m a minimalist.
25. James Joyce. Dammit, no he is not a good author! Writer of tripe. That's how I feel about that.
26. At a friend’s request I once called his boss and quit his job for him.
27. Resilience. My favorite English word based solely on how it sounds. Beautiful.
28. Hablabamos. My favorite Spanish word based solely on how it sounds. Funny.
29. I’m in awe of pioneers who came west in their covered wagons. Daily battles for food and water against a wily foe, the elements. Crazy bastards. How’d they do it?
30. Wife Klem and I got a Trust, a Will, and the important supporting documents drawn up two years ago. It’s a relief having that done. Hope we don’t need them any time soon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Compiled Quotes

“When I read something saying I’ve not done anything as good as Catch-22 I’m tempted to reply, 'Who has?'” Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22 [1923-1999]

“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats, poet [1865-1939]

“Men hate those to whom they have to lie.” Victor Hugo, author [1802-1885]

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Klem's Book of Observations, an excerpt

What was the first phone book like? One page with five names on it?

Don’t you hate perforated edges that are inadequately perforated?

PVC piping. Lincoln logs for adult boys.

The gift of gab. Whoever called it a gift anyway?

A person is only as strong as their own self-doubt.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Dad Klem and His 75 Birthdays

Dad Klem celebrated birthday #75 this weekend! A bunch of Klems from several different vantage points descended unto San Francisco for the shin dig hosted by my sister. [Great grub, JQ! And thanks for hosting.]

It’s good to have a pop such as this one. A guy we can look up to with respect and admiration. He seems to have made all the right decisions along the way. I offer the following flavor of the man.

A joke as told by the above noted venerable Klem at a recent family dinner:

How to catch a polar bear

1. Cut a hole in ice.
2. Put peas around the hole.
3. When polar bear comes to take a pea, kick it in the ‘ice hole’.

Happy birthday, Pop. I love you.