Browsing Archives for January 2009

Books for the Weak and Shaky

January 30th, 2009

A few weeks ago a reader asked me to compile a list of some of my favorite children’s books.

Of course, I am far too weak and shaky to take on such an arduous task and I would hope by now that my readers would understand that! Especially when you consider that I had to go back to work this week… only one day a week… but still… when you are give over to ‘spells’ and ‘fits’ and ‘spasms’ and you have been diagnosed over the internet as clearly having a delicate constitution, one four hour shift at work in a Garden Center in January during which only three customers darken the door, could literally mean death.

Still, for the sake of that one reader who asked, I am offering a few of my favorite children’s books in a giveaway today, as well as two books that are not children’s books but fit under today’s category quite nicely. That category being

Books That Feature the Weak and Shaky.
I love weak and shaky books.
They make me feel so welcome.

Have you ever read anything by Haven Kimmel?
She is especially hilarious if you grew up in a small town surrounded by weak and shaky people.

No one brings to life the world of the weak and shaky like Haven Kimmel.

I came slowly to Haven’s book, A Girl Named Zippy. It was almost as if the book was haunting me. I saw it everywhere I went. In the grocery store, the gas station, the dollar store, the dry cleaners, the city park. Everywhere I went there was this book with the wide eyed baby on the cover staring back at me. That baby kind of creeped me out. Finally, in a sort of desperate attempt to ward off the wide eyed creepy baby ghost that was haunting me, I checked out the book and I read it.
I don’t know if I have ever felt more in sync with a writer that I did with Haven Kimmel in the pages of A Girl Named Zippy.

One night, I was reading the book in bed and laughing my eyeballs out and the Country Doctor asked me what I was reading. I read a few pages out loud to him, in between wiping the gush of tears that I was crying due to so much hilarity.
“She sounds just like you.” he said.

That may be the nicest thing he has ever said to me.

“She Got Up Off The Couch” is a sequel to “A Girl Named Zippy”.

This book tells the story of Haven’s mom finally… well finally… getting off the couch.

You see, Haven’s mom was very weak and shaky.

This book is also very funny and relates her mother’s triumph over difficult circumstances… in a weak and shaky way of course.

Which is the only way to triumph if you ask me.


Back when I was working as a children’s librarian, one of my jobs was to read through a cart load of new books every week in an attempt to stay familiar with the collection. Most of the books were picture books and most of them were TERRIBLE. It is truly disgusting how many horrible children’s books are published each and every day!

The true gems…. the timeless classics…. the moving, engrossing, adventurous, riveting, jewels are so rare that when you finally pick one up and open the cover and start to read it, you feel like you have entered a parallel universe.

Knuffle Bunny is one of the rare jewels. In this book, both Trixie and her dad are kind of weak and shaky and prone to ‘going boneless’ which is one of my favorite expressions in all of literature.

Sometimes when I am feeling especially weak and shaky, I also go boneless.

It is a wretched thing to witness. I hope it never happens to you!

This book won a Caldecott and it’s author – Mo Willems – is a writer for Sesame Street.

I have written of my love for Arnold Lobel many times. Frog and Toad may be the penultimate weak and shaky characters in all of literature.

Is Frog the weak and shaky one… or is it Toad?

Maybe they switch back and forth?

Nevertheless – the one always has the other to pull him through and isn’t that what friends are for?

I have both a Frog and Toad collection of books as well as a collection of Frog and Toad collection on CD up for grabs today.

My eldest son was soothed to sleep by the warm, fuzzy voice of Arnold Lobel reading from Frog and Toad on many, many nights, which was a weak and shaky triumph for me.

Thank you Arnold.


Avocado Baby, might be my favorite weak and shaky picture book of all time.

Written by John Birmingham, Avocado Baby tells the heartwrenching tale of one family that is almost impossibly weak and shaky.

You aren’t even sure they are going to make it!

They are too shaky to remove the toys from the fruit bowl. They are too weak to carry their newborn baby up the steps without help. And then… to make things even worse… the pathetic, puny, pale baby won’t eat anything!

Until one day, they feed the baby an avocado pear.

And wondrous things happen.

To win one of the books today, just leave a comment.

Winners will be selected at random.

Please note -my books are usually gently used, but occasionally they are new.

You never know what you are going to get.

Which weak and shaky character said that?

If there is a book you would particularly like, feel free to mention it in your comment, but I can’t make any guarantees. I am just too weeeeeeaaaak and shaaaaaaaaaaky.

I better go lie down now.

Sadly, this contest has come to an end.

Clay Advises

January 29th, 2009

My brother-in-law Clay is a man of many talents and much wisdom.

After all, he has managed to stay married to my sister April for a long, long, loooooooong time.

Speaking as a person who also lived with April for a long, long loooooong time, I can honestly tell you that this is no easy feat.

So Clay, how do you do it?

How do you keep the home fires burning?
How do you stay with my sister year after year after year…… after year?

Clay thought for a moment.

He reflected.

He chuckled softly to himself…

He gripped his forehead with his fingers…

He sank into desperation.

How do I do it?
How do I do it?
How do I do it???
He asked himself over and over again.
Finally he hit upon a few answers….



More Booze!

Thanks for sharing with us today Clay.

I am sure that you have helped a lot of people.

Dear Readers,

CDW is struggling… STRUGGLING… to come up with things to say these days.  She has written this blog for almost two years now without flinching once, but suddenly a brick wall has loomed up in front of her and she can’t stop beating her head against it.  All she has for you today and the next day and yes possibly many days after that are her most embarrassing moments.  She is sickened by this, but she has searched both her innards and her outtards  for something… anything less obvious and has come up empty.  She also has absolutely NO IDEA why she is referring to herself in the third person.  Please send help.  Soon.
Embarrassing Story Number One – The Walt Bodine Show
The Country Doctor and I were living in Kansas City just a few blocks from KU Med.  I had at least one baby… maybe two and was cocooned inside of a nest of babies, toddlers, diapers, breast pads, and baby wipes.  I had also become a radical devotee of the radio program called The Walt Bodine Show.
You see, we did not have a television back then.  Neither one of us owned a TV when we got married and since we were such fascinating people and clearly intellectually superior to all the other people in the world, we could not be bothered with getting a TV.  Instead, we listened to the radio…  a lot…
…And wrote stories.  And played stringed instruments on the porch with the forest animals.  And painted murals.  And rescued donkeys.  And collected porridge recipes.  And built creations.  And handcrafted mead.  And went on sunrise hikes to the tops of mountains.  And ambled about the meadow with field bouquets.  And jigged.  And founded a lyrical writing society where the members had to wear filmy white dresses or breeches.  And hosted open mike poetry readings.  And came up with new types of grains to stick inside of multi-grain breads.  And gave our kids unusual names that no one knew how to pronounce or spell.  And collected morning dew.  And yes… it was a very precious time in our lives.
And Walt Bodine was the glue that held it all together.  
Walt Bodine hosted and still hosts a radio program on KCUR, the Kansas City public station.  He interviews visiting authors, wildlife experts, local chefs, parade organizers, colorful characters, political pundits, obscure poets, playwrites, artists, former sitcom actors… stuff like that.  At the time I was listening to The Walt Bodine Show, it seemed like Walt was about a hundred years old and guess what?  He is still hosting  the same show.  
Walt is a very endearing man, his voice and mannerisms are very homey.  You feel like you are listening to a beloved uncle interviewing a famous person… except your uncle doesn’t realize he is talking to a famous person… he thinks he is talking to his neighbor across the back alley… and after a while you also feel like the famous person is your neighbor across the back alley.  That is the magic of Walt Bodine.
Right before we moved away from Kansas City, some moron at KCUR decided that it was time to replace Walt with a new, upbeat, young, hip, happenin’, talk show host and the station attempted to fire Walt Bodine.  
The entire city staged a revolt.
Well… maybe not the entire city… but there were protests in front of the station.  People hoisted signs above their heads and shouted in unison “Don’t be Mean to Walt Bodine!”  You see… it rhymes… and it saved Walt… and he went right back to hosting his show.  For once, the right person triumphed.
Anyway…. after Walt interviewed his guest, he would often open up the show to call-in questions.  One time, after I had been listening to the show for a few months, and really felt that Walt was my dearest friend, I decided to call into the show with a question.  I was kind of nervous and panicky about it, and to give myself a little protection, I decided I would use a fake name.  I decided I would call myself, Melissa.
The subject they were discussing that day had something to do with pregnancy and delivery or something like that…  I can’t remember the details… but I felt there was a viewpoint that was not being expressed and I certainly felt that my opinion would be a startling revelation to Walt and his audience.  So I called in…
Screener – Hello, this the Walt Bodine Show…
Me – Hi!!!!!!!
Screener – What is your name?
Me – Uh… Melissa!!!!
Screener – Okay… Melissa… Where are you calling from?
Me – Uh… Kansas City, Kansas.
Screener – Okay… Walt will introduce you in a few seconds and then you just go ahead and ask your question.
Me – OKAY!!!!!
Walt Bodine – Okay… now we go to Melissa calling from Kansas City Kansas.  Melissa how are you today?
Me – (silent)
Walt Bodine – Melissa… Are you there?  
Me – (silent)
Walt Bodine – Melissa?  Can you hear me Melissa?
Me – (silent)
Walt Bodine – Can she hear me?  Do we have a bad connection?  Melissa?  Is anyone there?
Me – Oh!   
Walt Bodine – Melissa?
Me – Walt Bodine???  Hi!!!!  This is RECHELLE!!!
Walt Bodine – Oh…Rechelle??
Walt Bodine – Oh… okay… Melissa…   

Me – Yes… Melissa… that is my name.
Walt Bodine – Okay…. Melissa?  Do you have a question for us today Melissa?
Me – Yes….I… Uh… Oh… Um…
And I went on and on trying to back track… trying to make it all go away… trying to not be such a heaving idiot, but it was too late.  I held onto the slender tendril of hope that no-one I knew had been listening to the show that day.   A few weeks later, I went back to Lawrence to visit my sister and I dropped by the Lawrence Arts Center where I used to work.   
Me – Hi everyone!  
Entire staff of Art Center – Hi Rechelle.
Me – How are you all?
Entire staff of Art Center – Good… we heard you on the radio.
Me – What?
Entire Staff of Art Center – We heard you on the Walt Bodine Show… Melissa  (raucous laughter ensues)
I never called into The Walt Bodine Show again.  
But I still listened everyday.