Lynn's Comments: When the kids were small, the work involved often filled a day. By suppertime when laundry, cleaning, shopping and meals were done, I wondered where the time had gone. It wasn't until the dishes were done and the kids in bed that I could sit down - without guilt - and enjoy the paper. It's amazing how "invisible" a housekeeper's job is! For those who share the home and enjoy the fruits of "Mom's labor" things like clean clothes folded neatly in drawers, a tidy, sanitary refrigerator, vacuumed rugs, washed floors, swept and organized closets, prepared meals, answered mail, full toilet roll holders and all the other myriad details that go into running a home seem to occur like magic. If you don't see or take part in the process, you just accept it and expect it all to be done for you. In fact, unless something is NOT done, you don't notice it at all! This revelation came to me when I hired a housekeeper. My sweet lady would come one day every week. I'd leave things for Janet to do. After awhile, dusting and ironing and clean floors just "happened". Recycling was done, mats were shaken and shelves were wiped clean...and if I wasn't there to have a coffee with her and see her work for myself - I took my clean house for granted! Being a "housewife" is a full time job. Add parenting to this and you have an all- encompassing career - for which many of us apologize! I was lucky enough to have a job that allowed me to work at home. I had two jobs! Strips like this one were done to support all the smart, productive and caring moms I knew who were struggling to stay sane. These comic strip complaints also made me less resentful of my own responsibilities. It felt amazingly good to confide my feelings to an unseen community of friends...millions of them!!!
Lynn's Comments: When a neighbor's dog barks incessantly, I can't stand it. I lie awake or pace about the house, getting more and more verklempt. I imagine myself doing unmentionable things to both neighbor and dog and so, when we acquired a pooch ourselves, he was not permitted to bark outside at the wind or whatever it is they bark at. The only thing Willy could not resist protecting us from was the snow plow. After a fierce attack of nonverbal abuse, it would recede from the driveway cowering as our small black spaniel ran after it as fast as he could. It was funny and the noise didn't last long. I have never been able to understand how folks can put up with their own dog's incessant barking - much less inflict the misery on others. I also find it hard to understand how a dog can bark for so long without going hoarse or passing out from lack of breath! I suspect the first query can be explained by suggesting that some pet owners are completely unfazed by the noise and don't give a frog's fart about anyone else in the neighborhood. But, what about the dog? I think I can understand why, but if anyone knows HOW they can bark for so long - please tell me. I'd like to understand...'cause, when it comes to pets and their owners, I sometimes have much more respect for the pet!
Lynn's Comments: This Sunday page was also done as a result of a television program. The National Film Board had started a sort of documentary on FBorFW and a crew had been sent to Lynn Lake to record the local "colour". One of the things we ladies did for fun was to attend different demonstrations in each others' homes. Small private sales events were as popular then as they are now. We went to Tupperware and candle sales, clothing shows, cooking and make up demonstrations - anything that would get us out of the house and into an adult environment. Booze was optional, but certainly helped augment the ambiance and the sales. For the sake of the Film Board, I agreed to host a makeup demonstration in my home. The process required the participants to allow their hair to be tied back so that a variety of goops and granules could be spread on our faces. This was not appreciated by some of the ladies who had never been on television and didn't want their debut to be mid toilette. After a bit of cajoling and a few drinks, we proceeded to give the NFB the inside scoop on the home facial demo...doing what we could to make this the highlight of the film. It took hours and many applications of facial stuff before we could call it quits. The ladies departed with grateful thanks from all involved and I promised them a copy of the video if it ever came to be. It did. The all-day makeup demonstration, with retakes, reasks, and redos, however, was reduced to less than two minutes of the film. In the end, no one complained. It was fun to do, but none of us really wanted to see the results. Some things are best left on the cutting room floor!
Lynn's Comments: I don't know how many times I sat alone after some frustrating bout with the kids, wishing I had "done it better". It's hard to do something better if you're doing it for the first time - and considering how many firsts there are in parenting, you're bound to make a few mistakes along the way. Books, professionals, friends and family can advise you, but in the end this is your responsibility, your environment, your rules - and everyone has to learn to get along. My philosophy is: no matter how much your child looks like you or Uncle Max or sounds like Dad or walks like great aunt Beulah...he or she is a stranger in your home. You have to accord the same respect and consideration to your children as you would to a stranger - and with this as a guide, they should (by the time they're 20)...do the same for you! Even so, I made some awful errors. I shouted, I cried, I fought and I did things that weren't fair. The thing is; kids are resilient and understanding and an apology goes a long way! I remember some tearful times when I had to admit I had not handled something well and I told my children I was truly sorry. Noisy and fanciful, naive and full of mischief, children are still people. They know what's fair and what's not. They can detect a lie; they can sniff out insincerity and they appreciate an apology as much as anyone else. I have apologized many times to my children and they have apologized to me. It's not an easy thing to do - but the hugs, the comfort and the love that comes afterwards, make this humble sign of respect well worthwhile.
Lynn's Comments: Neither one of us was adept at fixing things, although we tried. In the north, if there were no spare parts, you had to wait for something to come in the mail or hope there was a similar machine at the dump. My kitchen appliances were that peculiar shade of yellow they called "Harvest Gold"... but it was closer to the colour of cottage cheese, well past the expiry date - which describes the appliances as well. My stove had one of those ceramic tops - a source of interest and considerable invention. Not only did we try cooking directly on it, but I found that I could repair paperback books by running the spine quickly across the cooking surface to melt the glue holding the pages in and voila- no loose pages! The oven was often used to dry wet winter boots - something you only forgot about once. The memory of hot felt and scorched rubber still comes to mind. Our washer and dryer worked overtime, as did the rest of our appliances, and eventually we had to decide whether to repair or remove whatever broke down. Because the future of the town was so uncertain, buying anything new meant that you might be removing it soon after it was put in. This made "duct tape and bailing twine" the preferred method of repair. I remember being quite miffed that the machinery at the clinic was always in top working order, but then again I could wait - and "patients is a virtue!!"
Lynn's Comments: My kids negotiated their bedtime, as did my brother and I. With the passion and forethought of seasoned debaters, we plied our folks with every possible reason, suggestion and excuse for why we should stay up longer, always to no avail. Now it was my turn to set the rules. Aaron was especially keen to see us give in. It was the challenge that made his entreaties a ritual. By the time dinner ended, he was devising yet another way to add a few more seconds to the deadline of eight o'clock and the ruses began with disappearance. Not one to be unnoticed, he would slip unto the basement to do "stuff" or head outside and down the lane where he'd melt into the network of sheds, fences and open back doors. This was particularly frustrating in summer when the sun went down around midnight and there seemed to be no reason to hit the sack in broad daylight. Bringing him home hollering "no fair" when neighbors were outside washing their cars and chatting over coffee seemed, well,... no fair! Still, a tired kid is not something you want to mess with in the morning, so we placed quilts on the windows, begged the older kids to play elsewhere and hoped the dogs would quit barking long enough for blessed somnolence to kick in. Aaron is almost 40 now. He's still a night owl and often hits the sack well after two a.m. He's convinced me that this is his natural rhythm, that he was never meant to go to bed at eight. Even as a kid, he tells me, he was awake until late into the night and that I should have let him stay up until he was tired. Perhaps he's right. But he was a kid then, and parents have their rules - some of which are meant to save their own sanity!!
Lynn's Comments: These are the thoughts I had as I sat in church with my mother, listening to the Easter morning service. Our Anglican minister put a heavy focus on the death of Jesus and we were all made to feel responsible! "It's because of YOU that he died! You are all SINNERS!!! You nailed Him to the cross!" I was eight years old and I thought..."But, I wasn't there! I wasn't responsible! I wasn't even BORN yet!" Years later, when my children asked to know more about the Easter story, I tried to tell it in a way that they could understand - putting the blame on a time when people were unjustly condemned all the time. I think this helped to separate them from a tragedy that occurred two thousand years ago and allowed them to focus on the message, the meaning and what was achieved. This cartoon was done after Aaron and I had watched a movie together - I think it was "Ben Hur". He was so moved by the crucifixion that he wished he had been there to prevent it. It was an exceptional moment that we shared together and we talked about it for some time. This is one instance when I had an opportunity to talk about some really serious concepts with my son, and I hope used it well.
Lynn's Comments: Word for word this is a true exchange. Aaron and his friend Roy were allowed to go down to "Fergy's", the local corner store, pool hall and hang-out - and Fergy's motto "buy or bye-bye" meant that they wouldn't be there long. Fergy made his money on pop and penny candy and despite the difficulty in getting fresh produce into the north, the licorice was always fresh. Licorice, ginger and chocolate are my favorite diet-breakers and the kids knew I'd shell out a few bucks if I they'd be sure to return with "the goods". It's funny, this thing about licorice. It was my grandfather's favorite, my mother's favorite and Charles Schulz liked it too. I took him a bag of licorice allsorts when he was in the hospital and he lit up with a smile. This is what we munched on as we spoke for the last time. He died not long afterwards and every time I see licorice allsorts, I think of him.
Lynn's Comments: Here is a scenario that would play out many times in my housewifely career: you make easy meals which cover all the food groups, you leave them in the fridge to be accessed by the troops and without a second thought, they bypass your well organized and clearly labeled containers...and eat junk. On your return from wherever it is you went, you then find your freshly prepared grub reduced to dried, moldering leftovers - having never seen plate nor palate. So, you say the next time you fly the coop, there will be no meal preparation in advance and the troops can fend for themselves. I tried this once and the response was "What? You didn't MAKE us anything?" You can't win - which is why the freezer is such a good invention.
Lynn's Comments: Like most dogs tall enough to reach the porcelain receptacle, Farley enjoyed a "fresh" cool swig from the commode. The sound of his lapping was intensified by the shape of the bowl, so the "slorping, galooping" effects were as entertaining as he was. What I did object to was the trail of water that poured from his hairy mug when he left the bathroom. I was more concerned about cleaning up after him than I was about his choice of water sources. I kept the biff pretty clean and besides - dogs chew on every disgusting thing they can find anyway. I tried to keep the toilet seat down, but living with men rather thwarts any success there. The trail of post-refreshment liquid really got me down, but I lived with it for the love of Farley. The head-bashing incident belongs to a friend who told me that her three year old son decided to take matters into his own hands after hearing his mom complain about this same problem. She was shocked to find him smacking the family pooch on the noggin as he drank from the toilet. She gave her son a lecture about abusing animals and sent him to his room for a time out. Later she confessed that despite her son's unkind behaviour...the dog had been cured of a bad habit. In other words, he had "put a lid on it"!
Lynn's Comments: Like most little girls, I was fascinated by make up and wanted to try it on. My mom didn't use much and what she had was out of bounds. Had I ever gone into her cosmetics without permission, I would have been in serious doo doo. One of my mothers' friends was a sales rep for Avon. She carried a stunning assortment of tiny "trial-sized" lipsticks which she gave away when the line changed and the colours were discontinued. Mom was often the recipient of her generosity and when the tiny tubes were empty, I would retrieve them from the garbage and use a toothpick to get the last smudge of colour from the bottom. Sometimes I'd find a big tube tossed away, which was great - except that the colour was always far too red. In order to get away with wearing the stuff, I would heat the tube and mix the lipstick with Vaseline. I managed to sneak the slightly rouged lips past my mom... until I left the tube in my pocket. This, of course went into the wash - leaving a load of laundry covered in red blobs. Too angry to speak, Mom took the ruined clothing upstairs and with a philosophical "what have I got to lose" attitude, she boiled the lot with soap powder in her big canning pot. All of the lipstick came out of the clothing! I was saved. Then it was time for the inevitable lecture about being too young and sneaking around. The next day, she came home from work with a tube of pale pink lip gloss. I had my lipstick and I could wear it openly. Nice touch! Having the "real thing" however, sort of dampened the spirit of adventure and I lost interest in make up until I was in my early teens!
Lynn's Comments: I remember being so distraught that I could break stuff. At the end of my rope, I'd scream and cry and flop down on the floor exhausted and empty and defeated. This was last week! Seriously, when you're too young to understand and too inexperienced to deal with life's situations, collapsing in tears is the only way to respond. We've all been there and despite the fact that you look like someone to avoid...this is usually the time when you need love and understanding more than anything else in the world!
Lynn's Comments: Father's Day has always been one of the more challenging Sunday comics to produce. We never really made too much of it when I was a kid and later, when my two were small, it was a day when the best "present" was to let Dad spend the day in his workshop! Still, it's a day that puts the spotlight on dads and children, no matter what the marital dynamics are - which is a good thing. We need more Father's Days and Mother's Days, if you ask me. Heaven knows- there's nothing more rewarding than being recognized and appreciated for doing a difficult job well!
Lynn's Comments: I loved slapstick movies. Good animated cartoons kept me glued to the screen at the Odeon Theatre every Saturday afternoon. One of the most overrated gag ideas has always been the "slip on a banana peel". This pratfall was something my brother and I tried unsuccessfully to recreate many times. You need: a ripe peel, a slippery linoleum floor and a bozo who doesn't look where he's going. All three are hard to put in the same place at the same time without deliberate and calculated effort. Unsuccessful with the surprise attack, we tried the stunt on each other, our buddies and our dad. (Mom would have whacked the both of us for doing something so stupid, so she was out of the scene altogether.) We never did recreate the wonderful slip, slide and landing that was so funny in the theatre. It was therefore important, once I had the freedom of a comic strip at hand, to complete this elusive gag in the newspapers and fulfil a lifelong quest.