If I end up in rehab, blame the cat

If you’ve spent any time at our house, you may have encountered Wrigley, or Riggs, for short, a 9 year old, 12 lb. Maine Coon of questionable parentage.  If you’ve ever spent the night at our house, you may be aware that as soon as everyone goes to bed, Wrigley gets a severe case of the Night Terrors.

By Night Terrors, I mean that she walks through the house carrying something small in her mouth, like Kellen’s sock or bib or mitten, signifying either her offspring or something she’s killed.  Or both.  While she does this, she screams very, very loudly.  If you believe that cats cannot scream, I am here to inform you just how wrong you are.  The sound is almost indescribable.  If I had to describe it in writing, it would go something like:  “RRRROOOOWWWRRROORRRRWWRRROHHHRRRROOWHH”.  She only pauses long enough to take a breath and it can last for hours. 

It's Probably Just Revenge For This

In the summer, you can simply banish her outside, but you can still hear her quite often when you’re on the second floor if the windows are open, but at least the sound isn’t in the hallway right outside the bedroom.

However, in the winter, you can’t just throw her out the door (even though that has happened on many occasions) since her lifestyle has evolved her beyond any normal cat survival skills, and she would likely freeze and die.  If that happened, there would likely be a lot of guilt and crying.  And Janet would be upset, too.  The worst part would be if the boys found a cat-sicle in the yard.  Not that they would be emotionally damaged, but that they would bring the cat in the house and put her in the microwave to thaw her out, citing the precedent of Han Solo at Jabba the Hutt’s palace.

If you’re quick enough to catch her and not crazy mad enough to throw her out into the cold, you can always throw her in the laundry room, where her food and litter box are located.  This includes shutting the door behind you, so the cat cannot follow you back out into the rest of the house.  Occasionally, this has been an issue.  It does not bode well for an individual to be outsmarted by a cat at the simple task of using a door.  I am reminded of the first rule of sorting hogs:  You Have To Be Smarter Than The Hogs.

Anyway, I consider myself lucky if I can catch and sequester the cat two nights per week.  The other five nights we have to deal with the Night Terrors.  I recently discovered that if I sleep soundly enough or am tired enough, the cat doesn’t wake me.  I first found that if I take some night-time Excedrin or Tylenol, I sleep right through the Terrors.  However, you can’t take medications like that every night.  It’s just not healthy.  So I went in a different direction:  Sweet Beer.  I found that if I can consume 3-4 sixteen ounce cans of Miller Lite just before bed, I also sleep undisturbed through the night.  And besides, beer is good for you, in most cases. 

To summarize, if I develop an alcohol problem, it will not be my fault.  The blame falls solely on Wrigley.

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Charlie’s 2010 Christmas Letter!

2010:  Thoughts, Impressions, Odors…

by Charlie Breed

As I sit down to compose this, my annual letter to humankind, I begin to think about the things that remind me it’s my favorite time of year.  I’m not really talking about the change in weather or the presence of snow or even Mom’s elaborate and enhanced profanity as she tries to get all the lights working on the Christmas Tree.  No, I know it’s Christmas time when Logan starts singing everyone’s favorite Christmas song around the house.  You probably have heard it before; it goes something like this:  oink-oink-oink,  oink-oink-oink,  oink-oinkoinkoink-oink.  Yes, of course, it’s Jingle Pigs.

Now I could write about livestock and holiday tunes all day, but down to business we must get.  We’ll start with me.  I’m six and in first grade now and I’m really starting to learn a lot.  I know how to read, do math, and pawn cheap junk off on family members for cash for school fundraisers.  My favorite subjects are recess and gym.  I have lots of friends, too, so I’m going to need a cell phone soon just to save Dad from phone conversations like this:

Dad (answering phone):  Yell-o!!

Little Girl:  Hi.  Can I talk to Charlie, please?

Dad:  You sure can!  Can I tell him who’s calling?

Little Girl:  Yes.

(Long, Awkward Pause)

Dad (hands phone to Charlie):  Um, phones for you…

I got my first report card and had all A’s, except for one B and an N in handwriting, which I thought stood for ‘Nice!’ but evidently, it means ‘needs work.’  Whatever.  Have you ever seen my Dad’s handwriting?  Now that needs some work.  Dad said by the time I’m grown up, you’ll just have to think toward a computer and everything will type itself out anyway.  Or will the computer type it out, and then we’ll think it?  After all, that’s already how we get football rankings and presidents.  Otherwise, I played flag football in the spring and soccer in summer/fall.  I prefer defense in football because it’s more fun to tackle than to be tackled.  In Soccer, my favorite thing was to get a goal, but I only got one in the first game.  But based on the way Dad was jumping up and down on the sideline, it must have been pretty awesome.

Logan is four now and in his second year of pre-school.  He loves his teachers and is turning into quite an artist.  He also played soccer this year and was pretty successful at it.  In his last game, he scored three goals!  We had to dump a bucket of water on Dad.  He is also the master of mayhem and destruction in our house.  We even came up with a brand new word to be added to the vernacular:  Logurt.  Logurt is any substance that began as either fully liquid or fully solid, but after being acted upon by Logan, is now neither.  Some things that have been turned into logurt in our household are:  DVDs, milk, sofa cushions, the lawn, and Mom’s right big toe.  Logurt.  Use it in conversation at holiday gatherings.  Logan is also responsible for other events that have no words to describe them.  Some of his greatest hits are:  he’s found playing with one half of a silly putty egg, the silly putty and other half of the egg are nowhere to be found, Dad tells him to find the silly putty, Logan tells him not to worry, it’ll turn up, and it does, in between the sofa cushions;  another event is Logan leaves small, hard plastic toys strewn about the floor, Dad steps on them in sock feet, then exclaims to Logan, “Are you trying to kill me?!”, Logan, knowing that the simple answers of yes or no will likely both get him into some kind of trouble, responds. “I think the answer to that is pretty obvious.”  The kid has a future in politics.

Our littlest bundle of joy, Kellen, is now one.  He sure is a cute little cuss.  His hair is kind of thin on top, but he has long, looping wispy curls in the back.  When he wears a turtleneck, he looks like Dwight Yoakam going to a poetry reading.  Well, if Dwight Yoakam walked around with a pacifier in his mouth all day, that is.  He’s walking very well now and is a big-time climber.  Whenever Dad can’t find him, he just looks in my bed (the top bunk) and Kellen’s usually there.  Not that Dad loses him a lot.  You also have to keep the toilet lids down and the clothes dryer closed, otherwise he’ll get in there.  He now has 11 teeth.  If you don’t believe me, count the dental imprints on Mom’s thumb.  Kellen loves music and really likes to dance.  He really gets down when Dad plays side one of AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock” and when he hears the theme to “Elmo’s World”.  I’ve always been a “Back in Black” guy myself.  On the down side, Kellen’s unpredictable digestive issues are the reason the recliner in our living room has been rendered nearly uninhabitable and why it’s also now known as ‘Chair-nobyl’.  Needless to say, we are expecting great things from Kellen.

Mom and Dad haven’t really done too much that could be considered exciting.  Mom still runs the nursing home up in Dyer and is doing a fine job.  All those old people can rest easily; there’s been nary a broken hip or lost denture in her tenure this year.  Dad still runs after us most days and really doesn’t do much else.  I’ve been on him to find a job, but he said nobody will hire him until I let him use me as a reference.  And that ain’t happening anytime soon because, as I stated earlier, the guy’s handwriting is really holding him back.

Well, that’s pretty much it.  Our 2010 was a pretty darn good year and I hope yours was, too, and I also hope you have a great holiday season and a wonderful 2011!!


Charles J. Breed

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Bear Down!!

WOO-HOO!!!!!!! Bears win! Bears Win! A select few of the CLK Blog staff (Janet, Pat & Tracy Spang, myself) were lucky enough to attend Sunday’s stomping of the Viqueens of Minnesota and we could not have had a better time.
Important stats: The Blog team went 29 for 34 and 416 ounces consumed. Impressive numbers. I just wish we could have gotten to those last two beers. The other three were unfortunately my fault as I had three drops in the red zone. Time to get back to fundamentals. And just like the Beloved, penalties were a problem for us. Patrick was called several times for illegal use of the hands; just use your imagination. Janet and Tracy drew a flag for illegal formation when they tried to claim better seats than they had paid for. There was also a personal foul for improper frequent urination in a Walgreens parking lot that will likely draw a fine from the league.
Thankfully, I forgot my phone, so there are no photos.

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Kellen Photo of the Day 11/10

Fear Me, For I am the Dark Knight!

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Conversations from Middle School

On Saturday, October 16, Charlie, Logan, Kellen, and myself met with the blog steering committee behind the middle school in Stockton, Illinois. While the amount of discarded cigarette butts strewn about the grounds was sorely lacking for a public school, we found the level of broken beer bottles to be completely acceptable.  Thusly, a proper venue had been found and approved so we set about conducting official business.

Our first (and really only) order of business was a presentation by Charlie on the current playground state of affairs at his school.  He stated that his school policies dictate the prohibition of such schoolyard staples as football, dodgeball, and, almost unbelievably, tag.

The Most Exciting Activity at Recess in American Public Schools Today

  Evidently, during recess, the kids are supposed to stand quietly and not fart.  Two things that are virtually impossible for six-year-olds, Charlie said.

Is it possible that our culture has been so wussified, that we refuse to let our children even suffer the stygma of being “IT” in a game of tag?  Or let them feel the sweet sting of a dodgeball to the face?  To the elders of the committee, these were key events that helped shape us into the fine people we are today.  That today’s young people were being deprived of these experiences was, to us, unconscionable.

Our solution was obvious to us.  Inspired by the very location where we were meeting, it was decided that “Smear the Queer” must be reintroduced into our collective cultural consciousness.  “Smear the Queer” is a simple schoolyard game which enjoyed its heyday in the early and middle 1980’s.  The game is played with a football.  The number of players can be as few as three and as many as, well, there really is no upper limit.  Gameplay is simple:  the football is thrown high into the air in the midst of a group of players.  Whomever catches the ball becomes the ‘Queer’ and tries to evade all of the other players, who are attempting to tackle (Smear) him with great vigor.  Once the queer has been smeared, piling on, or a ‘dogpile’ often results, with the queer at the bottom of the pile, at times under tremendous weight.  It is at the bottom of the dogpile where men are forged.  The pressure exerted on the individual at the bottom of the dogpile is the same that transforms coal into diamond.  After the dogpile is over, the Queer throws the ball into the air again, another player catches it, becomes the Queer and the sequence repeats.  You may wonder what happens if the Queer escapes and is never tackled.  If there is one hard and fast rule to Smear the Queer, it’s that nobody escapes getting tackled.  Ever.

American Hero, Queer Smearer

To further prove the cultural significance of Smear the Queer, here is a brief list of individuals that likely played the game as children:  Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris, Ronald Reagan, George Patton, John Wayne, Audie Murphy, Steve McQueen, and Sigourney Weaver.

And a few that never played:  Richard Simmons, John Wayne Gacy, Bernard Madoff, Rod Blagojevich, Oprah, and Ross on “Friends”.

I will be training Charlie, Logan, and Kellen in the ways of Smear the Queer, probably much to the dismay of the other parents in the neighborhood (and possibly in the house), but, hey, what can you do?  I am also challenging myself to utilize lessons and attitudes learned from Smear the Queer in my everyday life.  I encourage you to do the same.  If you’re voting, think Smear the Queer.  If you’re at the deli in the grocery store, think Smear the Queer.  If you’re doing the dishes, think Smear the Queer.  Allocating your 401k?  Smear the Queer.  Colonoscopy?  You know what to do.  I believe the world could only become a better place.  I have some hope, since we are not alone.  Click the link to find kindred spirits: 


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C/L/K Blog Advisor gets Engaged!

We received word last week that blog advisor-at-large Mark Kuehl of Rochester, MN, has become engaged to the lovely Renee Anderson, also of Rochester, so that makes it pretty convenient.  I will now reprint in its entirety the email I received describing the momentous occasion:

“And, I proposed to Renee over the weekend!”

Wow, I really get a sense of the romance there;  at least it wasn’t a Text a la Favray.  I would imagine the actual proposal was a bit more heartfelt  and eloquent and probably utilized a complex rhyming scheme, because everybody loves a good limerick.  Not to

Don't have a photo of Mark and Renee, but here's one Mark took of me and Chicago Cubs team president Crane Kenney. Go Cubs!

mention Mark’s public speaking skills are top-notch from the time he spent on Highland’s forensics team.  I just hope he left the attention-getter flash paper at home because a bride with no eyebrows is so 2006.

And from what I understand, this will be a mixed marriage since Renee is, against all odds, a Packer fan  (shiver)!  This could lead to a small amount of conflict, but I’ll bet they’ll agree that neither one of them will feel any pressing need to be in Dallas this coming February.  Any idea if the state of Minnesota has deemed this type of union legal?   Oh, well, I guess the worst that can happen is that they have to get hitched in Iowa.

Our best wishes go out to the happy couple and their families, or as Kellen puts it, “Mwack! Stutt!  Ooowalwaldaaayyyhhh!”  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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Kellen Photo of the Day

"Crank this sucker up!!"

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