Monthly Archives: July 2015

Wednesday July 1, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

I don’t think there’s a mother on earth who doesn’t blame herself for the unforeseen things which affect the lives and the health of her children. We wonder if the things we consumed or did, or even thought, affected our babies’ development. We worry and we wish and we think, "If something bad is going to happen, God, let it happen to me."

Thursday July 2, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

As a medical artist, I once had the privilege of working on a long and demanding project which tracked the development of the foetus. I worked with tiny, unborn bodies. I drew detailed illustrations showing how internal organs grew, expanded, displaced other organs, and eventually packed themselves neatly into the body and began to function. I learned minute details about the bowel, the heart, and the brain. I learned that each organ depended on the others to turn, close, twist, secrete or open at an exact time in an exact order, and if anything failed to do what it was supposed to do at the right time, then there might be a serious problem. Years later, when I gave birth to my first child, I couldn’t believe how perfect he was. When you think about the infinite complexity of creation, it’s a miracle that any of us comes through the process as "normal!"

Friday July 3, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

When Annie had her baby, I wanted to acknowledge those who are born with a difference. I knew this might be a controversial topic and I didn’t want to focus on something which was not an integral part of the strip, so I chose a condition known as "polydactyly," meaning "many fingers." It’s not uncommon and can be corrected, often very easily, with surgery.

Saturday July 4, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

When this story appeared, I received calls from editors wanting to know what the reader response was to this storyline. Many parents did contact me with stories about their babies’ varying conditions at birth, and the one thing they all told me was how accepting their other children were of a new baby brother or sister who was just a little different.

Sunday July 5, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

One year my dad insisted we all go on a camping trip into the BC interior. He was an amateur rock hound who loved to gold pan, and his plan was to follow the route of the gold rush to Barkerville and back.

Before we left, both he and my mom made sure we kids had everything we needed. They packed, repacked, checked, and double-checked our suitcases, and told us that if we forgot anything, we’d be out in the bush where there were no stores, we would have to live without it. Off we went in our old 1959 Chev, with a pile of supplies and suitcases lashed to the top of the car.

After a long day of driving, we finally came to our first stop; a swampy, mosquito-infested campground just north of the town of Hope. The sun had dropped below the mountains. Mom reminded Alan and I that there was nothing around us for miles, and to make sure we had everything we needed for a night in the woods…just as Dad discovered he’d forgotten the tent poles.

Monday July 6, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

My daughter’s husband is the kind of man who changes babies, walks them when they can’t sleep, and takes care of them when they’re sick. He feeds them, plays with them, reads to them, and does their laundry. This man is a rare breed. He should be cloned…And, he LOVES to fish!

Tuesday July 7, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

My friend Ghislaine has three children — all married with children of their own. They had given Ghi eight grandsons, and baby number nine was due. Everyone wondered of this would be the long awaited girl, but when number nine boy arrived, they all breathed a sigh of relief. What would they have done if a little girl had come along? All the stuff they had was for boys! Now, they look forward to all the future girlfriends they will welcome into their homes.

Friday July 10, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

I have friends who are serious canoeists and they are in seriously good shape. After a couple of hours paddling last summer, I had to go to a physiotherapist for six months. No joke!

Saturday July 11, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

My three-year-old granddaughter asks these kinds of questions every day. She also makes these kinds of observations. When you write a comic strip, you have to think like a kid. I think like a kid, and I don’t ever want to grow up!

Sunday July 12, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

When I did this strip, my husband and I had a Cessna 185 with amphibious floats. Much of our time was devoted to flying and to looking after the plane. My husband was a serious and well-trained pilot, and when he bought our son, Aaron, a model aircraft, he was sure he could fly it as well as he flew the Cessna. He quickly discovered that a model requires very different skills. This is yet another comic strip based on a scene from real life, and I don’t think I asked for approval!

Monday July 13, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

This was a situation which came from my own childhood: My brother had twisted his knee in a soccer game and was being bullied by some bigger kids in the neighbourhood. He was limping and they accused him of faking the limp (even then we were both theatrical and always pretending to be something or someone else, so the accusation wasn’t entirely without cause). I jumped between the bullies and him and threatened to beat them up if they touched my brother. At the time, this thought went through my head, "Nobody knocks my brother around but ME!"

Tuesday July 14, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

This story was based on a true story, which might have ended in tragedy.

My husband, who had been flying a float plane just long enough to feel confident, offered to pick up some friends after a canoe trip down the Kazan River in the Northwest Territories.

Wednesday July 15, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

The guys Rod had offered to pick up had been on a canoe trip with an outdoor adventure company, which had already arranged their return transportation, but my husband wanted the challenge of finding them and ferrying them back to Lynn Lake, Manitoba — where we were living. I was against the idea from the start, but Rod’s dad, having been a prospector in his day, thought it would all be fine. The two men went over the maps, worked out the exact location the canoeists would be found, and prepared for the departure. The flight was on.

Thursday July 16, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

I changed the story to show John and Uncle Phil, winding their way towards Parry Sound, where there are so many bays and tiny islands a novice canoeist might easily become disoriented, lost, or capsized.

Friday July 17, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

I went to the Lynn Lake airport to see Rod off on his arctic adventure. It was August; not too cold where we were living, but the summer ends in July up north, so the window of good weather was closing fast. He had to get to a small bay on the northwest coast of Yathkyed Lake as quickly as possible.

Saturday July 18, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

I was angry with him. I wondered how he could do such a risky thing when he had a wife and two small children to consider. He was the kind of man who, when he decided to do something, actually did it! I went home and began the wait. His father’s reassurance was comforting, but still, I worried.

Sunday July 19, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

My three-year-old granddaughter and her friends have learned the word "consequences." When you do something bad…there are consequences. Recently, after a nice evening of playtime and stories, Laura decided she wasn’t going to go to sleep. She whined and cried and tried to wake her baby brother, with whom she shares a room. Her mother, Katie, said she would have to give up her favourite sleep toys if she didn’t end the strike. Laura whined and lost her teddy. She then lost her blankie, her pillow, her quilt and her sheets. The whining continued until she was lying on a stripped bed with nothing but her "pull-ups" to keep her warm. At this point she capitulated, stopped her bad behaviour, and decided to sleep.

Katie was pleased to have had the standoff resolved — thanks to "consequences."

Monday July 20, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

Back to the wilderness story.
Rod’s first attempt to fly to Yathkyed Lake ended when he ran into a snow squall and had to put down on a lake halfway to his destination. Not knowing a lake on which you are going to land can sometimes kill you. Rock, debris, and other obstacles are often obscured in bad weather, and even though you are in the air, it’s hard to judge the exact direction of the wind.

Tuesday July 21, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

Too low on fuel to keep going and collect the men, Rod went back to the Lynn Lake airport. The next day, with weather reports looking good, he set out again. I was not happy. The area he was flying over was without resources, without flight paths, and without strong radio signals. He was flying by map, compass, and the luck of the draw.

Wednesday July 22, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

The three canoeists he was going to pick up were in the exact location they said they would be. Rod brought the float plane up to the shore and the men climbed aboard — carrying as much as they could stuff into the plane. Some things had to be left behind and retrieved later: their supplies, their canoe, and their life jackets. The paddles had been shoved into the small Cessna 185. A strong wind had begun to blow and they knew they’d have to take off as soon as possible. They didn’t know it at the time, but the plane was overloaded and was not about to handle the way it should.

Thursday July 23, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

Rod turned the plane into the wind as the canoeist passengers fastened their seat belts. In the arctic, there are no trees and nothing to break the wind. Great gusts buffeted the side of the plane. With a heavy load and an inexperienced pilot at the helm, the small plane tipped into the waves. The weight of the water pressed down on one float and the plane rolled helplessly upside down.

Friday July 24, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

The three canoeists immediately realized the danger they were in. They extracted themselves from their seatbelts, opened the doors of the aircraft and climbed out.

Rod, who was the only one wearing a life jacket, was able to get out as well — just before the plane submerged. Freezing and afraid, the four men sat on the Cessna’s upturned floats and tried to consider their options. It looked as though the plane was drifting to shore, but it was soon evident that the tail had hung up on the bottom of the lake and the plane was staying in the same position, just pivoting around in the bay.

As hypothermia began to affect them, they had no choice: one of the men had to go to shore and get the canoe. They chose the strongest swimmer, gave him the only life jacket, and watched as he swam slowly through the choppy water to the shore.

Exhausted and ready to collapse, he untied the canoe. He had the presence of mind to put a can of Avgas aviation fuel that had been left on shore into the canoe. He climbed inside and shoved off (without paddles) towards the helpless aircraft.

It was a miracle, they all said later, that the canoe drifted back to the plane. Everyone carefully climbed into the canoe. The swimmer, now unconscious, was slowly revived as the canoe, now floating freely, drifted to the opposite shore of the bay. This was another miracle.

They managed to gather some dry willow, and with the aid of the Avgas they soon had a tiny fire going. They knew that their wet clothes were lowering their body temperatures, so everyone stripped down to nothing and, surprisingly, they felt warmer. This was a test for survivalists, and luckily, my husband was with men who truly measured up.

Saturday July 25, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

Back home, I was beginning to worry. My father-in-law knew exactly where Rod had gone, and he knew almost to the minute when he’d return — if all went well. The ETA came and went. My mom-in-law took the kids, and I drove up to the airport to wait. Rod’s dad joined me. The weather was clear but cold and it was getting dark. The men at the airport assured us that the guys would be safe if they’d had to put down on a lake somewhere, but nothing sounded right to us. We filed a missing persons report and waited for Search and Rescue to respond.

Monday July 27, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

At Yathkyed Lake, the men had set up a camp. Without warm clothing, a tent or supplies, they created a windbreak by putting the canoe on its side. A tiny fire was kept going as they dried their socks and underwear over it. They hung their clothing on ground willows, and all traded off using the one pair of boots they had to go in search of firewood. They placed rocks in a ring around the fire. Two men at a time would lie under the canoe, and the other packed hot rocks around them. When they were able to move, they traded places. The wind and the flies were relentless. They tried to keep their spirits up by joking. Rod knew that his dad would be doing everything possible to find them. The ELT (emergency locator transmitter) had not gone off in the plane, so there would be no radio signal for rescuers to follow, but Rod’s dad, Tom, knew the territory. He knew the ETA, and he would be quick to know there had been an accident. Every motion of the wind sounded like a rescue aircraft. Every minute that went by seemed like forever.

Tuesday July 28, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

An enormous Hercules Search and Rescue plane arrived from Alberta along with a helicopter and a Twin Otter outfitted with bulging Plexiglas side-windows where spotters would sit. They set up a military style office at the Lynn Lake airport. Enormous maps of the search area were put up on the walls. There were pilots, co-pilots, SARTECHS (search and rescue technicians), spotters, and others. Everyone was serious, focused, and prepared. What surprised me was the way they treated me. Rather than shooing me away, they sat me down and explained with kindness and courtesy exactly what they were doing and how the operation would proceed. I felt relieved and comforted. They knew exactly how to treat people in crisis and in shock. I was surprised by how coherent and calm I was.

Wednesday July 29, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

I thought about my children. I thought about the three other families who were now gathered together to wait for news — anything that would tell them what had happened, and what was going on. I called them every two hours. I called them just to let them know that everything possible was being done. I felt guilty for being so close to the scene and the first to know. It was all so surreal.

Thursday July 30, 2015

Lynn’s Notes:

This is true enough! I thought about all the petty things we had done and said to each other when all that really matters is life and love, and the knowledge that everyone is safe. When someone is gone, you go through the litany of "what ifs" and "if onlys," and ask "why?" It made me realize how suddenly things can change, that we should appreciate each other each and every day, and be truly grateful for what we have.