Monthly Archives: November 2010

Monday November 1, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

During the years when my children were very young, I did not have the option of going back to school, although I would have liked to. My life in a tiny remote mining town in northern Manitoba provided an education of another kind! The character “Elly” is not me. She is someone I MIGHT have been, given other circumstances. My real life wasn’t nearly as plausible as Elly Patterson’s.

Putting myself in her position, I imagined what it would be like to have not accomplished my educational goals and in the soap opera of life, to be playing a minor supporting role. Aside from her identity as a loving, caring and competent mom, Elly was “Mrs. Doctor so and so”…and she wanted more.

Tuesday November 2, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

I could have done a better job on this strip. The trick is to put an ironical twist into the dialogue which involves the reader. I missed the mark here, by not having Elly thinking in crass, basic and unacceptable terms- ie: “#@**!#*” and then …dropping the punch line. At the time, I thought words like: “lousy, stupid, crummy” were enough to make the ending work- but they aren’t basic enough! I needed some…well, garbage!! With luck I can help other writers improve their dialogue by pointing out my mistakes.

Wednesday November 3, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

I do feel that a writer must also be an entertainer. This is why there is structure in a sentence, and cadence in dialogue. I soon discovered that poetry is an essential ingredient in writing- especially as it applies to comic strips wherein the reader has less than 30 seconds to visually ingest an idea. Any “speed bump” in the writing has to be smoothed out. If the punch line here was, for example; “Let me think, now…..when did we decide to get a dog?” the cadence would be interrupted and the last line less effective.

Thursday November 4, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Few women have the luxury of combining a satisfying career with being a “stay at home mom”. I have never taken this blessing for granted. I have, however always been disappointed that I never finished my education past high school.
With Elly Patterson in mind, I imagined how she would feel, trying to pick up where she left off, trying to achieve her degree in English and then wondering… “What now?” What do you do with a potential career now that you’ve got young children to raise? Raising children is the most important career of all….but for some of us…it’s just not enough.

Saturday November 6, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Dr. Patterson’s receptionist has been based on a number of people over the years, but at this time, she was our friend, Ann-Margret Plummer. Her husband managed the mine and I think she managed everything else! Efficient, sweet natured, honest and fair, we relied on her for everything from book keeping to bringing home the bacon. Years later, we remain great friends and see each other as often as possible.

Sunday November 7, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Yes! You have already read this Sunday page! Somehow this found its way into the Halloween slot and in order to keep the stuff flowing on time, we had to print it again! You might think that rerunning a strip is just as easy as turning the pages of a book…but we manage to find- and lose things as we dig around the archives and put work on line. Fortunately, the RIGHT strip ran in the paper, so you are getting an exclusive apology from yours truly. All we can do is our best…and right now…this is it!! Lynn J.

My kids were born almost 5 years apart. When you have a little kid- one you can pick up and cart around…and one the size of a St. Bernard, the littlest always seems to get the most affection. Older kids sort of shrug off the hugs and wriggle out of cuddles, but they need them nonetheless. I guess the love wasn’t being distributed evenly when Aaron asked this question and it really hit home. I put Katie down and gave him the biggest cuddle right then and there. A lesson well learned. He’s almost 40, now and still not too big to hug!

Monday November 8, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

In Lynn Lake, all the kids played hockey. I was surprised when Aaron declared his interest in joining the juniors – he had never been interested in sports before. Because there were no sporting goods shops, we all relied on hand me downs and the Sears catalogue. The sports exchange happened in the church basement; you could tell it was happening as soon as you went in the door – just by the smell. Everyone was keen to get there early for the best pickings and if you were lucky, you could make a deal with a neighbor before the season began.

Tuesday November 9, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

My husband wasn’t a hockey fan. He’d been a figure skater, though and believed the exercise would be a good thing. Despite the availability of second hand gear, equipping a kid with uniform, gloves, padding and skates was expensive. I wanted to make sure my son was going to enjoy the sport and stick with it for awhile. Aaron did play for a few years- until the coaches became serious and really wanted to win. This is when the good players get to play and the kids who are there for the fun of it get to sit on the sidelines.

Wednesday November 10, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Here is where I switched to another storyline. In order to keep the Connie and Ted arc going, I included this strip. I guess I should have stuck with hockey, but at the time I was into the politics of the game and not too keen on drawing the boys in the arena. What had happened was; Aaron had gone on a trip to the “playoffs” in Thompson. It was a long ride in a school bus and the team had to be billeted with families there. Because he was not one of the strongest players, he and several other boys sat on the side hardly getting to skate at all.

When they returned one of the chaperones called to say that her son and Aaron had only skated for 30 seconds, during the whole time they were there! I was furious. I knew there was a tournament to win- but these were such young kids and such favouritism was so unfair. Together the other mother and I went to see the coach to find out, cordially, “what could be done”. It was evident that the answer was “nothing”. After that, our boys left the team, gave up their gear and skated for the fun of it. Parents worry about their kids getting hurt playing hockey. Not much is said about the emotional hurt of being left out of the game!

Thursday November 11, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

The story of Connie and her unhappy relationships, again, is my story. When I was single (the first time) I went through a few frustrating relationships. I had a wonderful friend, however- a woman I’d met at the university when I worked there as a medical artist. She was a bit younger than my mom and became my mentor and confidante. I was sitting in her kitchen after a particularly confusing date…wondering aloud if I should see this man again when Marjorie said; “you have to decide: …are you in love or in need?” Good question. The answer hurt. I moved on.

Friday November 12, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

In order to tie up the hockey scenario, I wrote this. Game over. Subject closed. There were no sidewalks in town and my kids never did roller skate. This is when the town of Milborough began to evolve.

Lynn Lake, where we actually lived was a northern mining town of about 1200 people. The next community of Leaf Rapids was 60 miles away and Thompson Manitoba was 300 miles of dirt road south from there. We were isolated. Our small Cessna aircraft was a regular every day vehicle as much as it was a luxury. We needed it for work: Rod went into the native communities one week out of every month and my work took me out of town quite often, too. We had a good airport, but the “sked” (scheduled flight) was expensive and often inconvenient.

Not many people could relate to the actual life we lived, and so houses, streets, bridges, and the business district where “John Patterson” had his dental office began to take shape in my head …. and therefore, in “the strip”.

Saturday November 13, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

If Katie had a tricycle, I don’t remember it. The town was so small, there were few sidewalks and I wouldn’t have let her go too far on her own. This is really an image from my own childhood.

My brother had a tricycle to which he was welded. He was on it constantly and because we didn’t own a car, mom trundled us to the corner store- she and I on foot with Alan on his trike. I remember having to wait for him as he sat and watched bugs on the sidewalk or stopped to check out a parked car. It was maddening. Likewise, he would pedal like crazy down the hills and we’d have to run after him.

Balancing groceries and hollering at the top of her lungs, Mom would fly at breakneck speed down to the stop sign where she’d put herself between Alan and the busy intersection ahead. It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I realized how many times we’d put Mom’s life in danger as she tried to protect ours!

Sunday November 14, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Katie was fascinated by the telephone and although she didn’t catch on to the art of conversation right away, she enjoyed the fun of just hearing someone’s voice coming from the receiver. With this in mind, she would sometimes climb onto a chair and press all the numbers. As long as she didn’t raise the hand piece, I let her have fun…until we got billed for a call to Hong Kong!!! True story!

Monday November 15, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

When Aaron was born, Farley the dog was well established as part of the family. Certainly my first introduction to “training” another living thing was the DOG, and from time to time, I clapped my hands and shouted “NO!” to both kid and canine. (I stopped at spraying the kid with water or using a choke chain). Aaron was crawling around the same time he was teething, so kibble and other Farley fare was readily available. When I discovered Aaron teething on a Milkbone and enjoying the grit on his gums, I happily allowed him to indulge. Milkbones, after all, didn’t disintegrate into mush like other teething biscuits and it was cheap. The smell of it on the breath of both my charges didn’t bother me in the least. Compared to some of the other odors emitted, this was “kissing sweet”.

Tuesday November 16, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Farley the dog – in real life – had come from champion stock and had a list of names a yard long (aside from the names I called him). For a while, my first spouse and I belonged to the Old English Sheepdog Owner’s Association. We attended shows, meetings and picnics and I did the heading for the monthly newsletter. We thought about breeding Farley and happily chatted to members about all the caveats involved. He was a beauty. Unfortunately it was discovered that he had mild hip dysplasia and we had to make other plans. I often wonder how life would have changed had we become more involved with the serious business side of dog ownership!

Wednesday November 17, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

From time to time friends who didn’t have children would come by for tea, to chat about whatever ladies chat about during their spare time. I didn’t have much time to spare, so unless the topic was a “grabber” I’d find myself drifting off, eyes wide open, trying to digest something that wasn’t being swallowed. My kids noticed this ability to daydream – especially when I was working – and would ask if they could have a beer or a raise in their allowance just to see if I was tuned in! Suffice it to say, it became embarrassing when I’d run into folks later and ask a question I should have known the answer to. Eventually they knew me well enough to expect the occasional lapse of memory!

Thursday November 18, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Michael needed a love interest and so Deanna Sobinski appeared. She was blonde, sweet, slender and smart and not too interested in his goofy attempts to get her attention. Her first name came from my friend Nancy Lawn’s daughter, Deanna – a playmate of Kate’s… and the name Sobinski was from an art school friend – whose first name, sadly, I forget! I liked the sound of these two names together. It was never my intention to have this relationship be rekindled in later years!

Friday November 19, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

I well remember how horrifying it was to reveal an elementary school crush. We would, of course, tell our best friends – who would then prove their loyalty (or not) by passing on the news. I don’t think I was too upset when others found out who I liked…but I was always aware of those whose faces would go crimson, should the object of their affection be announced to a crowd. This was powerful ammo and could be used against an enemy just as easily as it was whispered to a friend. “I’ll tell them you love GARRRRRYYYYY!!!!” could send a rival for the best seat in the theatre into a panic. The response of “NOOOOOO!” was like the winning chime on a slot machine and I’d wind up in the first row. I wasn’t a mean kid, really ….just an observant one.

Saturday November 20, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

We did have detentions in elementary school, although they weren’t for long. Usually it was a talking to and perhaps a note to take home to Mom. We also got homework. It was never much more than to read ahead in our “reader” – and, yes, I’m talking about “Dick and Jane” (which was a painful bore to those of us who were into The Wizard of Oz and other more challenging books!)

Being born a kid was something I thought about a lot. Adults often treated us as if we didn’t understand or were “too young” for things like…good explanations to good questions. We quickly separated the dismissive grownups from the cool ones and for these, we’d do our best. Always. Many years later, when I had kids of my own, remembering what it was like to wish I was grown up helped me as a cartoonist – and made me a much better Mom.

Sunday November 21, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Like most kids, I believed that all the drudge work belonged to Mom…the repairs and the maintenance belonged to Dad and that I was there to be fed, clothed and endured. I hadn’t ASKED to be born…and therefore I was a perpetual guest. Seems that my parents didn’t order a princess when they brought me into the mix and I was soon expected to clean up my squalor, help with the dishes and generally make myself useful. I rebelled. I felt cruelly done by. I lay down on the floor and howled at the injustice of it all. Despite the hardship and the unfairness of it all – I do remember having a distinct sense of pride and satisfaction once a chore was done.

Monday November 22, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Aaron really did like his grade two teacher. Her name was Caroline Sadowska. She was smart and kind and strict. She stood up to the class clowns, the tricksters and the troublemakers and was always diplomatic in doing so.
The school had suffered a fire and classes were being held temporarily in the Catholic Church basement… Aaron had been up to something and, exasperated, Miss Sadowska called me at home and asked me to meet her at the church, with Aaron in tow. I don’t recall the misdeed or the sentence. I do remember thoroughly enjoying Miss Sadowska’s methods of dealing with parents and kids and her infectious sense of humor.

When our meeting was done and the culprit out of earshot, Carolyn and I agreed – in this small town, where people of like mind were sometimes hard to come by, we were destined to become great friends. “But, let’s wait until he’s in grade three” she said. “It would be hard to nail a kid whose mom was having coffee in my kitchen!”

We waited and did become friends. Three years later Sheena Baker, another teacher of Aaron’s, wrote a book called “There’s a Worm in My Apple” and I illustrated it. The book’s inception was due to my numerous interviews with her, at the school…regarding my son!

Tuesday November 23, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Mrs. Hardacre, as I’ve said, was a teacher in my elementary school. Kids said she was “hard as nails and gave us acres of work” but I liked her. The teachers who were both strict and fair had my attention and I worked hard for them.

Walnut trees grew all around the school and “conkers” was a game we all played with walnuts tied to strings. The object of the game was to whack your opponent’s walnut and try to break it. This resulted in everything from bruised knuckles to chipped teeth. I’m sure it’s outlawed today – or played with heavy gloves and face shields, but in the 1950s we took risks. To compare Mrs. Hardacre to a walnut would have been reasonable, I think…but inside, she was very good stuff!

Wednesday November 24, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Aaron did play hockey for a few seasons. I enjoyed watching the games but wasn’t one of the screamers. Some parents literally hollered themselves hoarse, while I quietly clapped and waved to the kids on the ice. I wasn’t a passive observer, though. I got involved! One of the things I learned quickly was that junior hockey depends on the many volunteer hours required to coach, drive, billet, clothe and feed the teams.

The job I enjoyed most was in the arena coffee shop, making hot dogs and burgers and serving coffee. It was fun to meet everyone, and it kept me busy. Sitting in the bleachers in a town where the winter temperatures went down to -50 Celsius could be chilling, and even though I spent my weekends in the coffee shop – I was warm!

Thursday November 25, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

The last time I wrote about being a “sports widow” we had numerous messages from women who shared Annie’s point of view. If I had grown up in a home where televised sports were part of everyday life and was something we all enjoyed, perhaps I wouldn’t be so sarcastic about the hours wasted on the couch watching a bunch of guys chase a ball. My folks were more into music and comedy.

I have women friends who are addicted to baseball and hockey, too – but not me. I vented through Annie and put into words the thoughts I’d had when I, too, was wishing my spouse enjoyed more vertical activities.

Friday November 26, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Steve Nichols was a character who rarely appeared in FBorFW. As Annie’s less-than-perfect spouse, he was to be gossiped about unseen. This is likely the first illustration I did of him. I never put this drawing into my resource files and soon forgot exactly how I’d drawn him! In the next illustration showing Steve, he looked quite different – sans moustache. Nobody ever mentioned this to me and I never noticed until now. Things like this convinced me to keep an accurate character file.

Saturday November 27, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

I let my frustration overflow sometimes, sending a tsunami towards my kids. What I discovered was – kids can accept an apology. This wasn’t something my folks did too often. An apology was considered a sign of weakness, I guess. For me, it was just plain honesty. When I was at the end of my rope, all I could do was to let the kids know I was human, was in error and was sorry. I think a sincere apology comes from strength, not weakness. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing to do but the results, in the end, are wonderful!

Sunday November 28, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

I hate ironing. I am not alone here…I can hear a cry rising from the masses – men and women alike screaming “I HATE IRONING!!!” And so, I don’t do it – unless I absolutely have to. This means hanging stuff in the bathroom as I take a shower, hoping the steam will do the trick. I buy clothes that can be stuffed in a suitcase and worn immediately. I buy clothes with stripes to camouflage the wrinkles. I get a friend to do it. Anything to keep myself from having to handle that spitting, hissing demon in my laundry room that always seems to have some crud in it. You know…that “scale” or whatever it is that will spit out of those little steam holes onto your cherished garment and stain it permanently with some brown smudge, right at the crotch or some other really visible place. I hate ironing.

Having said that, however…if I could iron the wrinkles out of my face, I would definitely change my tune. I would embrace that miserable device and use it daily – singing its praises to the end of the earth! But this is not possible. There is no iron for the wrinkles on my countenance… the fabric of my face must remain as nature decrees. I am au natural, gracefully declining in my retirement, accepting wrinkles with confidence and dignity. I can’t iron my face, but the irony (iron-y?) is……. those #**!*% spots come anyway!!!

Monday November 29, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Across the lane from us lived the Klotz family. Liz was one of the neighbors I often had coffee with. She and her husband Tony had 3 adopted kids and fostered others, so their house was a busy, welcome retreat from the studio. When I put their name on Mike’s hockey jersey, I waited for them to see it in the paper- but others saw it first and called to tell Liz. She was delighted, but wondered if this meant that her husband’s small auto repair shop now had to sponsor a local team!

From Liz I leaned how to let the small stuff go, to let kids enjoy the freedom to play without noticing the mess of toys and clutter. When it was -40 degrees outside, our homes became playgrounds and trying to keep up with the chaos was nearly impossible. Every mom became a block parent as we took turns being hostess to visiting kids and a support system for each other.

Tuesday November 30, 2010

Lynn’s Notes:

Because we lived in such a bitter climate, warm clothing was a necessity. Gloves in particular had to be worn and accounted for. It didn’t take long for hands and faces to freeze as kids forgot the temperature when they played outside. My mom-in-law, Ruth, kept a supply of extra gloves and I did too. Kids who were not wearing gloves, for some reason, would go home with a warm pair from our house.

We lived halfway between the school and the end of town, so ours was the bathroom and the warming post for kids who needed to stop on the way home. I well remember trying to stuff rubbery, limp little fingers into tight gloves and from this I think the mitten was invented!