John complains that Elly is packing too much stuff. "If I did the packing, we'd just have the bare essentials." Elly: "If you did the packing...we'd be essentially bare." John smiles mysteriously.
In Mexico, John and Elly get a hard sell from a timeshare representative. John finally turns him down. Elly shops and shops and shops, crowing over how inexpensive the jewelry is. John asks when he'll get to see her wear it. "I don't know, John -- you KNOW I don't wear silver!"
Elly and Connie go jogging. Elly complains that "fat accumulates in the strangest places -- and never where we WANT it to!" Connie: "The lard works in mysterious ways!" (I think I noted that, years ago, Elly accepted the fact that she is a mesomorph, while Connie is an ectomorph, and exercise just doesn't have the same effect on them. Shame she couldn't have held to that.)
Elly and John gripe about each others' annoying habits: Elly snores and John has a nose whistle. Elly recalls the time John and Phil got lost on the canoe trip; John remembers how anxious he was when Elly was pregnant with April. They fall asleep snuggled up, snoring and whistling.
Elly has another late night hot flash. She gets up to read the paper, and the headline "More Funding Cuts to Education" makes her hotter under the collar than before.
Connie observes that she and Elly have known each other for 30 years: "From mini-dress to menopause!" Elly objects to the term, preferring to think of it as "a period of adjustment," while Connie calls it "no period at all." In bed that night, Elly complains that "Men don't have to live with all the physical inconveniences WOMEN have to live with!" While she glowers, John thinks "We just have to live with the women." At work, Moira classifies Elly's condition as "perimenopause". Elly is offended that "All they have is a NAME for it," but Moira points out that "It means they believe it exists."
Elly gets glasses, and is aghast that they reveal "a forest of NOSE HAIRS! And look at all those WRINKLES!" So she stops wearing them, because "they don't do anything for my looks." Later, she sighs to Moira that the person in the mirror "isn't me...It's my MOTHER!" And her "beautiful teenaged daughter is no help," but there's one consolation: someday the same thing will happen to her.
Elly answers the phone while John is in the shower. She prods the patient for information and concludes, "It sounds like your tooth has abscessed and you'll likely need an antibiotic." To John: "Was I right?" He nods, then thinks, "I hate it when she does that!"
Elly and Connie complain about the physical trials of getting old, then declare that they're not going to be the kind of old people who sit around complaining about their health.
Book 19, "Middle Age Spread" (which features Elly's yard-wide butt on the cover): Liz gets her contacts and the infamous Deanna haircut. Elly feels frumpy in comparison. Connie assures her that there's no need for her to slow down just because her kids are getting older. "Our generation has the freedom to grow emotionally, expand our knowledge, travel, exercise -- The opportunities for people like us are endless!" Elly: "Especially the 'grow' and 'expand' part."
Tracey is pregnant for the first time, and apprehensive about labor. Elly: "You don't think about pain when you're producing a miracle!" Later, she gets home to find out everyone else already ate, so she has the evening free. She speculates that she "could have a bath, read a book, call a friend...I could watch a movie or do my nails..." All the while, mending, ironing and cleaning.
Elly and John drive down the U.S. eastern seaboard. In D.C., John says, "There's the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Institution, museums, galleries -- the White House! What would you like to do first?" "Shop."
In Florida, Elly squawks about John having "an AGENDA, and I don't! You always have to GET somewhere! I like to take my time, meander slowly, looking at little shops, stopping at lovely little restaurants...We come to a nice little town -- and you want to blast right through!" John thinks, "That's because I don't WANT to meander slowly, looking at little shops and stopping at lovely little restaurants." Later, they agree that they'll do this again. Elly adds in a thought balloon, "In separate cars."
Sunday strip: Elly goes from shop to shop, and finally home, with increasing bitchface. John to Liz: "Stay out of your mother's way...She's been trying on bathing suits again." Another Sunday strip: Liz observes Elly washing windows, speculates, "There must be some way to stop your arms from flapping around like that!" and finds herself with the cloth and spray bottle in her hands.
Mike comes home for the summer. April sees him leaving for Megafood and protests, "But you just GOT here!" Mike offers to take her with him, and adds, "We'll stop at the Ice Cream Circus and get a cone, OK?" As they go out the door hand in hand, John remarks to Elly: "The strangest things make you cry!"
Elly, with April in tow, visit Elly's parents during and after Elly's mom's heart surgery. Elly feels torn between two families, and is upset to see her mom, once so strong, now an invalid. Also, at home, Mike makes an observation about people getting an alottment of days on earth, and Liz wonders why "some people have too few days, an' others seem to have too many!"
At work, Elly is down to two days a week because megastores are taking business away from the downtown shops.
Elly tells John that Mike is going through a rough patch at school. John: "I remember those days -- but we survived!" Elly: "YOU survived! I left university when we got married! I was the one who stayed home, had babies and typed essays to pay the bills!" John: "Like I said...We survived." (He pats Elly's back and both smile.) Later that night, he also observes that as an old married couple, they're "one more thing on the endangered species list." And as an OMC, they're able to laugh with each other as they try out anti-snoring nose strips.
Book 20, "Sunshine and Shadow": Hot-flashin' Elly gets up in the middle of the night and opens the back door to flap her nightgown in the chill air. Edgar escapes, and after chasing him down the street, Elly goes back to bed, now freezing and waking up John.
Mike brings Deanna home. Elly talks nonstop, then describes her as "Nice girl, but awfully quiet." Later, Elly lists all her good qualities; John adds, "And cute, too!" with a whistle. When Elly glares, he says, "Sorry; I was just seeing her from a single guy's point of view!" From underneath a pillow, he says, "And this, obviously, is the married guy's point of view!"
After Christmas, Elly sees John about to toss out a box of Christmas wrap. She points out how neatly she saved it; John scoffs at the idea of her reusing it. "Because this is the Christmas wrap you told me not to throw out LAST year!"
Elly has another hot flash while walking with Connie. Connie tells her, "There's something you can do about that...I believe in natural ways to relieve discomfort." Elly: "So do I...AAAAUGH!" Elly tries the herbal remedies, and John comments that "You're like an animal...Your breath smells like grass."
Again, Elly wonders aloud, this time to Connie, "Why are women the ones who have to go through all this stuff?" Connie: "I don't think the guys are tough enough to handle it."
Sunday strip: John and Elly have a snowball fight.
Another Sunday strip: April plays with her dollhouse. "Look at your messy room!...Eat your dinner, don't PLAY with it!...Pick up your dishes! Don't expect ME to clean up after you!...No TV 'til you pick up all your toys!...I said NOW, not later!...Don't argue with me. You DO have to have a bath tonight!...Don't use so much shampoo!" To Elly: "Were you listening to me, Mom?" "No...[clutches April] I was listening to ME!"
After Elly's mom dies, Jim finds Elly fretting at the mirror. "You're perfect, dear," he says. "You're young and sweet and absolutely beautiful...You look just like your mother."