Monthly Archives: May 2013

Wednesday May 1, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

I sympathized with Aaron’s reluctance when it came to music lessons. Despite the fact that I was musically inclined and loved to sing and practiced the guitar incessantly, I did not learn how to read music. I couldn’t take something that came so easily and turn it into a chore. Sheet music represented another language — it was a lot like math. As soon as I started to push my musical son towards the piano or towards the trumpet, I felt his frustration. It was hard to nag him to practice when I knew he much preferred to play by ear.

Saturday May 4, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

Aaron balked at learning to read music and practicing, but he did love his rented trumpet. With my brother’s guidance, he polished the bell, oiled the valves, and cleaned out the tube — which would otherwise fill with fungus, mould, and other odious flotsam (nourished by the moisture and foodstuff propelled by vigorous breath). The instrument itself was a beautiful possession, but it came with the guilt of not practicing.

Sunday May 5, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

My mom was a British cook — this meant we had well-cooked meats and boiled veggies regularly. Spuds were a staple, and we could always count on her gravy…but her specialty was dessert. We had little to spend on fancy cuts of meat or fresh stuff out of season, so we had canned peas, frozen carrots, liver, beef hearts, chicken neck soup, corned beef and cabbage, and other dishes that, when left on the plate for any length of time, had about as much appeal as compost on a hot day. But…the promise of a good dessert was enough to make us chow down just about anything.

Mom made the best pastry in the world. Her puddings were to die for. She made tapioca pudding and caramel cream, chocolate and vanilla and rum butter sauce — all of which were great on ice cream if poured straight from the saucepan. There was pineapple fluff, apple brown betty, treacle tart, and cakes. There were muffins and doughnuts, cinnamon whirls, cookies, and bread. She made stuff from scratch, rarely using her massive recipe collection. Ingredients and measurements she just knew. At a time when everyone was struggling to get by, we were fortunate. Using dessert as a bribe for eating the main course might have been the wrong thing to do, but it worked!

Monday May 6, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

I had fun drawing this character. I had meant her to be very sexy and very nice — someone who would possibly come between Elly and John. She would make Elly jealous, in any case. As the library job continued, Susan became less and less visible. I couldn’t quite resolve her relationship to the rest of the characters…and, perhaps, I was afraid that life might imitate art!

Tuesday May 7, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

Sometimes my readers made some very astute but troublesome observations. When this strip appeared, a woman from Maryland wrote to say that the punch line didn’t work because Elizabeth was not actually looking at the caterpillar. I explained that I needed to draw her face and also her dad’s face, so I’d taken a bit of artistic license. Had I positioned her the way she should have been, the audience would just see the back of her head.

Thursday May 9, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

I have always been interested in bugs and snakes and creepy-crawly things. The only thing I don’t like to catch and examine in my hands are spiders, but they fascinate me just the same. When I was a kid, some of my insect “pets” succumbed to my examinations, and I would create small but elaborate burial ceremonies for them. When one of my garter snakes died, I buried him in a long, flat tie box, and gift wrapped him before I put him into the ground. It was the least I could do.

Friday May 10, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

This reminds me of a story. My friend Christa decided she wanted to learn the saxophone. So as not to disturb her husband one morning, she decided to practice on the back porch. We live in the country, so there were no neighbours to offend. She had just started to honk out some scales when her husband appeared in the doorway excited and out of breath. “Christa!” he cried. “Did you hear that? I think a moose has been hit on the highway!”

Monday May 13, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

Whenever I left my family on their own for dinner, I made sure there was a really good meal just waiting to be heated up. It was my way of showing how much I cared (and how guilty I felt as well). I kind of knew they’d take off to a fast food joint in my absence, which didn’t hurt too much — it meant I didn’t have to prepare a meal the next day!

Friday May 17, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

The big treasure trove was in my mother-in-law’s attic. She had meticulously saved everything. There were ancient skis and snowshoes, lampshades and blinds. There were picture frames, bottles, quilt frames, and toys. There was a trunk filled with clothing — some of it her mother’s. We found corsets, dresses, feathered hats, and knee-length knickers — some was moth-eaten, but most was like new.

Sunday May 19, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

We didn’t own a car until I was about 10. Up until then, any road trips we went on were with my mother’s parents in their ’48 Ford. Our family would pile into the car, along with Grandma and Grandpa, and head out on an adventure. We would inevitably end up sitting in some old guy’s living room, silently counting the stains on his wallpaper, while Gramps bought, sold, and traded stamps. These stops were deadly. With luck, if we behaved ourselves, we’d be rewarded with a picnic or a trip to the beach.

My grandfather was extremely strict, and being his car, we followed his rules. Alan and I would sit in the back of Gramps’ car with a parent between us. If there was an argument, however, one of us would be moved to the front seat. My grandmother would get the window, which left me in the middle — within “cuffing reach” of Gramps. This was the “trouble spot,” and I sat here often. From this spot, I had a clear view of the crackly old Blaupunkt radio on the underside of the dash. I can tell you today exactly what that radio looked like. It was ugly.

One day, Dad surprised us with a real Chevrolet. It was second hand, two-toned green and white. We couldn’t believe our eyes! We could now go anywhere we could afford to go — and our destinations were no longer determined by Gramps. Alan and I loved being able to open the back windows and let our hair blow in the wind. We didn’t have to fight over a window because there were only the two of us in the back…but, we did fight — we HAD to fight. We were kids!

These days, with all of the electronic goodies and gadgetry, young people are immersed in some form of entertainment from the beginning of a trip to the end; so perhaps, backseat sibling feuds are fewer now. Perhaps.

Monday May 20, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

The great Johnston yard sale was an epic event. Everyone in Lynn Lake knew that Ruth had squirreled away some fine stuff and looked forward to seeing what would be up for grabs. Tables had to be borrowed from the church next door. It took us two days to price everything and set it out on display. As luck would have it, the event took place on the day of the high school graduation. Students in their best duds crowded around the tables, trying to score a deal ahead of the old guys.

Tuesday May 21, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

The town’s mine was closing and many people were forced to move. Despite the fact that we were all trying to downsize, Ruth had a fantastic turnout — her sale was like Christmas and Hallowe’en and everyone’s birthday rolled into one. If you didn’t want or need a thing, you had to be there — it wasn’t just a sale, it was an event! In typical Ruth fashion, she provided an assortment of homemade goodies — she was a great hostess. In the end, her hard work paid off!

Sunday May 26, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

Our old sofa had that soft, comfy look and feel that called out to you, “Take a naaaaapppp!” That sofa accepted you like a mother’s arms, and once prone, you were there for as long as the family would allow. The springs were gone in the middle, the arms sagged, and the cushions were worn and discoloured. It exhaled the aromas of baby, breakfast, Scotchguard, and dust. It had been savaged and jumped on and badly treated — yet it was the most sought after roost in the house. My husband flopped down on it as soon as he came in from work, then Katie would flop on him. Aaron and his chums piled onto it to eat popcorn and watch television, and when it was my turn, I’d just curl up and fall asleep.

When we left Lynn Lake, we left that couch behind. We bought a new one for the new house — it was a “Rockston.” We also bought the chair and the end tables, which went with it. This was a great looking couch, and we had it for years…but it was never as nice as the old one: it never saw the rough and tumble of babies, the cushions were never turned into forts or pulled onto the floor for sleepovers, and nobody ever stood on the arms to put paper stars on the window for Christmas. There’s something wonderful about an old couch…in its fabric and foam is a family’s history — it held and supported each one of us through good times and bad!

Monday May 27, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

This is why schools and daycares are the world’s great Petri dishes. Along with the paper plate art projects and newly acquired skills, kids bring home a plethora of microbes. As a young mom, I really resented this bacterial exchange — until it was my turn to decide: is she sick enough to stay home or should I send her?

Tuesday May 28, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

Earlier in my career, when I was a single mom, I worked outside the home and Aaron went to daycare. Any time he was sick, it was miserable for both of us. I knew, it was irresponsible to send a kid out there to infect others, but I had to pay a mortgage and buy groceries, and a day off work meant a smaller pay cheque. If I had to stay home with him, I felt guilty for missing work — and mad at myself for feeling guilty. He, on the other hand, appreciated having me home — all to himself and caring for him.

Wednesday May 29, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

Until I became a teenager and could work at the store, do chores at home, and generally understand adult conversation, my mother and I were like oil and water. My best memories of her when I was very small seem to be when I was sick! She spent hours sitting next to me in my room, reading, taking my temperature, and trying to make me more comfortable. Measles, mumps and chicken pox went the rounds of every neighbourhood, and there was little to do but stay in bed and sweat it out. Mom should have been a doctor. She was smart, unfazed by barf, blood and trauma, and eager to try every home remedy known to man. Her poultices, enemas and steam tents were worse than the plague itself, but they worked. Thanks to Mom, we were up and feeling better before anyone else on the block!