I'll skip the bio stuff, since there's not much about the strip itself, and the anecdotes about LJ and her family were composed while her parents were still alive and she was still keeping up the facade. As for the Sunday strips, the first one we see has a very disheveled Elly vacuuming when "Wives and Lovers" comes on the radio. ("Hey, little girl! Comb your hair, fix your makeup...Don't think because there's a ring on your finger you needn't try any more...For wives must always be lovers tooooo...") Elly becomes increasingly irate and finally bashes the radio with the sweeper attachment and continues vacuuming.
Elly gets fed up with doing the ironing. John offers to take over, completes the task cheerfully, then says, "I don't understand why you hate ironing so much, Elly...It's so wonderfully mindless!" Oblivious, of course, to the measuring cup flying at the back of his head.
A stressed-out Elly longs to take a bath, then finds there's no plug. With wild eyes, she searches for "the right-sized potato". Having found it, she lies back amid bubbles and thinks "Who says a mother's mind stagnates in the kitchen!"
Elly tries to sleep off a cold while listening to "Get the dog off there before he breaks something!...So it's burned a little -- eat it anyways!...Don't mind me -- I'm just looking for some clean socks!" Thinks Elly: "Never get sick on a weekend."
Elly shoehorns herself into workout gear. "When you go to war, you wear a uniform." She loudly laments the fact that "I'm shaped like a GOURD!" John reassures her that "Reubens would have considered it perfect! The classic female shape! So cheer up! You have the perfect figure...You were just born in the wrong century!" [shoe flies at head] Then in another strip, she tries on and bulges out of various outfits, finally relegating them all to the Goodwill pile. "They're out of style."
In bed with John, Elly gripes about how awful the mosquitoes are. John kisses her shoulder, gags, and retreats to his side of the bed. Elly: "Mind you...it's amazing how well those repellents work."
John offers to assist Elly in cleaning up after dinner. "John, when you're putting the plates into the dishwasher, they should be turned THIS way 'round!...When you're done with the dishes, you could at least wipe off the counter!...But not with THAT cloth!...You wrapped the leftovers in Saran Wrap, honey. I always put them in these plastic containers...[sigh]You know, Annie, John is the sweetest man on earth...But for some reason, he just HATES to help with anything around the house!"
Elly wakes up late, yawns, stretches, takes a long bubble bath, gives herself a facial, flops on the couch reading "SCANDAL!!", phones her mom and has a long chat while painting her nails. "I'd put John and the kids on, but they've gone out for the day." -- "What? But this is Mother's Day! I thought they were going to do something special for you!" -- "They DID."
Elly in the powder room. Eyeline goes directly to the empty spindle. "Okay, everybody! I've got something very exciting and important to show you! This amazing little invention here is a toilet roll holder! It is inserted into the center of the toilet roll...like this! A small spring inside allows the ends to be depressed so that this unique device can be placed into a wall bracket within easy reach of the facility!! Now! Watch closely as I insert the toilet roll into the toilet roll dispenser!! There! Wasn't that easy? Do you think you could do it yourselves? Wonderful!!" Mike, to Elizabeth: "I can never quite tell...Is she in a good mood or a bad mood when she does that?"
Daily strips: Elly tells Mike to hurry it up or he'll miss the bus. Mike: "Look, I know what I'm doing, okay? Don't get your pantyhose in a knot." Elly grabs Mike by his collar and roars, "Don't you ever talk to me like that! I'm not one of your school friends, I'm your mother, and I DESERVE some respect!!!" Michael thinks, "Strange...They don't react like that on TV."
Elly has started remodeling the kitchen. One night after dinner, she announces that she's going to put up wallpaper. John: "But it's after eight!" -- "That's okay; I'm in the mood." -- "Well, I hope you don't mind if I hit the sack." -- "Nope. Like I said, I'm in the mood." John, thinking, "There was a time when this conversation would have had an entirely different meaning."
Elly bugs John to get a physical. Afterwards, he tells her he has a high cholesterol count, and notes that "If you hadn't bugged and pestered and kept after me, I never would have had that checkup!" -- "John, do you think that I nag you a lot?" -- "No...I think that you love me a lot!" Big hug.
Elly tells John she won't be home for supper because she has a meeting. John points out that she's had a meeting every night that week. After some dithering, she calls off the meeting "with honesty" -- by telling the other members she's "not feeling well". The other family members shrug off her suggestion of a board game or baking. "Then why did you want me to stay home?" Mike: "I dunno; I guess it's sort of like owning a dog. You don't always want to do something with them, but it's sure great having them around!"
Weeks later, Connie and Elly commiserate over how many committees they're on and how little time they have. When Elly tells Mike she has to go to the hockey moms' meeting and she left TV dinners, he gags. "Don't look at me like that! It's because of YOU I'm going! It's YOUR team! If it weren't for you, I could stay home!" -- "You don't HAVE to go!" -- "Of course I do! Do you want them to think I'm unsupportive?"
Driving to the meeting, Elly gets fed up with the slow driver in front of her. "What are you doing? Watching the stupid sunset?!!...Something tells me I don't watch enough sunsets."
More stress signifiers: Elly has a cramp in her shoulder from holding the phone and doing household stuff all day; her agenda keeps her awake but puts John to sleep when she describes it to him; "ad hoc" is the gagging sound one makes when one finds one has volunteered to chair another committee." Elly's doctor tells her that she's a perfect type A. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Later, John finds ELly reading a book on how to handle stress. "I'm going over to Connie's. She'll know someone who could give a workshop! We could form a committee..." John, to himself: "I give up."
Elly is upset with the kids' foul language, and bans TV for two weeks. Too complicated to get into, except that it gives the lie to her current claim that she was never worried about the media's influence on her kids until April was old enough to be susceptible. Also, this is almost entirely on her, not John: he doesn't stress about it because "you're with them [the kids] ten times as much!"
Book 10, "If This is a Lecture, How Long Will It Be?": Elly tells Connie that she doesn't know why a middle-aged woman is suddenly looking out of the mirror at her. They go jogging, with truly humungous butts. Two elderly women at a bus stop watch them and sigh, "Wouldn't it be nice to be young again?"
Phil and Georgia buy a house. Again, too complicated to go into, except that it's noteworthy that they're not afraid to crunch numbers and figure out how they can afford it instead of just saying "We're poooooooooor!" and that the moving process, while aggravating ("They say that death, divorce and moving are the three most stressful events in a person's life...By the end of the day, we might have covered all three!") does not lead to any protracted drama.
John can't find the right Christmas gift for Elly. Elizabeth suggests a ring. John balks at first when he sees that it's a friendship ring, then has it engraved for "Elly, my best friend."
Elly has laryngitis, and is reduced to "a nag-by-note system." While she's recuperating, a frantic Annie tells her that Steve's having an affair. John's initial response is "Well, son-of-a-gun!" When prodded, he admits that he's surprised that Steve would "take on the responsibility of another relationship!...Heaven knows, one's enough work as it is!" Ultimately, though, he and Elly get all huggy. "Gross!" says Mike. Elizabeth: "Yeah! I thought that after a while, parents didn't need to do that!"
Elly confronts Mike on his attitude, promping the title phrase. Her response, "Just long enough for me to...KA-BOOM!!!!"
Elly goes clothes shopping, which she realizes she should never do while in a "fat mood". One skirt fits perfectly, but she's planning to lose ten pounds, after which it wouldn't fit. Connie recommends she take it in. "How likely am I to take in a skirt?...Right...about as likely as I am to lose ten pounds." Afterwards, she claims to be "just having the salad bar," and returns to the table with a gravity-defying overloaded plate.
John buys his first train set. "You don't need the WHOLE laundry room, do you, El?"
That's all for now; the next book deals with April's conception and birth. Meanwhile, I'll note that I left out a few early strips about food. Elly eats all the family's leftovers because she feels guilty about all the starving people in the world. Yet, when she's reading about a famine and the kids come in claiming that they're "starving", this is somehow ironic. I have never understood that mindset: Not eating everything on your plate is exactly the same as taking food out of the mouths of third-worlders, and first-worlders have no right to complain about anything because someone, somewhere, is miserable. My mom never understood it either, and made a point of not inflicting it on me.