Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Knowing the Quoting

Two things you need to know for today’s story: 
  1. We have raised a family of movie-watchers. 
  2. And a family of movie quote-ers. Who are now into the third generation.
On to my story . . .
       Six-year-old Grandson#2 (hereinafter known as GS2) was sitting at the kitchen table.
Colouring.
You have to know that this boy has aspirations of becoming one of the truly greats in video game design. He was understandably absorbed.
Only Sister (OS) was running around the front room.
With nothing between her tender tootsies and the big, bad furniture.
Nothing.
She miss-stepped.
Two somethings collided.
The solid, wooden something remained impassive. The soft, flesh-covered something let out a screech of pain.
OS proceeded to roll about on the floor.
Holding one foot.
And crying.
The busy household came to a screeching halt.
Everyone stared.
Well, almost everyone.
Without turning or interrupting what he was doing, six-year-old GS2 said, deadpan, “There goes our last female.”
Ultimate precision.
In craft.
In speech.
It’s a gift.

For those who may not have seen it: 'Our last female' from Ice Age

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fluff


No
Yes










Remember the 'fashion' dolls of the fifties?
The straight-standing, frozen featured, supposedly beautiful dolls?
That creative people crocheted or knitted clothes for.
Or sunk into cakes.
Those dolls.
Well, besides being known for arriving 'without wardrobe', they were also known for their pre-styled, fine, beautiful hair.
Hair that was not comb-able.
That stuck together in a tight ball and defied any efforts at style change.
I know that hair well.
Because I was born with the same stuff.
Fine.
Soft.
And matted permanently together.
Candy-fluff hair, my Mom called it.
Okay, 'candy fluff', I loved.
Candy fluff on my head?
Not so much.
Every morning, and several times throughout the day, Mom would come at me with a comb.
Or some other implement guaranteed to make my hair behave.
None of them worked.
All of them . . . hurt.
Mom: “Diane, hold still! I'm almost done!”
Me: “Waaah!”
And so it went.
As I grew, my hair . . . changed. Subtly.
Oh, it was still fine and soft.
But it no longer stuck together in one fuzzy lump.
No.
Now it stuck together in several fuzzy lumps all over my head.
Sigh.
Mom: “Diane, hold still! There's just one more!”
Me: “Waaah!”
Finally, by about age eight, I outgrew the 'fuzzies'.
But made another important discovery.
Yes, my hair no longer matted together, defying all attempts at style.
And it was now longer and straighter.
But . . . it still hurt to comb it.
Yes. I was a hair wuss.
Mom: “Diane, hold still! Your hair will look beautiful!”
Me: “Waaah!”
Finally, in frustration one day, she uttered the fateful words, “Diane, don't you know you have to suffer to be beautiful?”
I stared at her. “Really?”
She nodded sagely.
Wow.
I put it together.
If I suffered, I would be beautiful.
It was that simple.
This went on for several years.
Every day, I suffered.
Every day, I looked in the mirror.
Nope. Same face as yesterday.
Finally, at age fifteen, I challenged my mother's hypothesis.
Me: “Mom! I've suffered! Why aren't I beautiful!?”
Mom (In true 'Mom' form): “Oh, honey, you ARE beautiful!”
Right. Waaait. I see where this is going . . .
Moving ahead several years . . .
I was combing my granddaughter's fiery red, naturally curly hair.
ME: “Kyra, hold still! I'm almost done!”
Kyra: “Waaah!”
Me: “Don't you know you have to suffer to be beautiful?”
She stared at me. “Really?”
And so the story continues . . .

Monday, June 18, 2018

Gnome, Sweet Gnome


‘Twas a surprise, my Husband said, this gnome with lederhosen, red,
Cause I needed something to regard, and help adorn my dreary yard.
His words embarrassed, just a bit, but rather than to pitch a fit,
I tried to show him I was pleased, and smiled and gave my man a squeeze.

Then dutifully, I embraced, my acquisition and I raced,
To prove to Hubs I was a fawner, I put it in a place of honour.
And there it sat, all smiles and glee, and pleasing everyone but me.
But Hubs was happy, so I was, too, and life went on a day or two.

“I saw him in the window, thought... they’d be a pair, and so I bought!”
And thus he brought Gnome number two. This one, with lederhosen, blue.
Dear Husband bought with such great glee. And so I placed it carefully,
And now two faces in my yard, dressed red. And blue. And standing guard.

“A little trio! Look. And See. That one is there on bended knee.
‘Tis a proposal… (Oh, what fun!) …of marriage to that other one!
The third a preacher. Ready. Set. Just how much better can it get?!”
And thus acquired four, five and six. And added to my little mix.

And so it went. With each new day, more little figures came my way,
For Husband, thinking they gave joy, bought little Gnomish girls and boys.
And I placed each and every one, to try to please my Honeybun.
And soon, one couldn’t walk or run, without colliding with someone!

Now my yard’s crowded, oh, dear me! There’s gnomes as far as one can see,
Some are seated, some stand up. They’ve kittens, horses, birds and pups.
I think there’s three that carry snails. Look! One has brought me gnomish mail!
Those painted eyes, they do not see, repeated pleas to leave me be.

And so I know what I must do, to save my yard (and reason, too).
I’ll have a little garden sale. It’s what I need, it cannot fail!
The sign, I’ll make so carefully, it’s letters large and filled with glee:
For sale, one husband, not alone, with him come 80 Garden Gnomes!


Mondays to get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we three besought,
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thought--perhaps a grin?
So Jenny and Delores, we,
Have posted poems for you to see.
And now you've seen what we have brought . . .
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Next week through our working haze,
We'll celebrate vacation days!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Men in Training

To all the amazing Fathers.
And especially to those in my life...

We have four sons.
From the time they were born, my Husby taught them to honour women.
His approximate words?
“In the creation process, Heavenly Father made the earth and everything on it. With each day, the things He made were more and more beautiful. His final, greatest creation? Woman. How are you going to treat God's greatest creation?”
He also told them that their Father would find someone very special for them to marry.
But they had to pray for her now.
All of them took his teachings to heart.
They treat women – all women - with a kindness and respect that is, unfortunately, seldom seen in the modern world.
Even as small boys, they were gentlemen.
And they did pray.
When our third son, Duff, was eight, his Sunday School teacher asked her class of seven boys if they prayed.
Each of them nodded.
She handed out pieces of paper and pencils.
“I want you to write down the things that you pray for,” she said.
Dutifully, the boys took their pieces of paper and began to make a list.
When they had finished, their teacher gathered them up and glanced through them.
I should probably note here that the first Nintendo play system was just new.
And wonderful.
And greatly sought after.
Certainly by the small boys in this class.
Back to my story . . .
At the head of every list, each of them had carefully recorded, 'Nintendo'.
Except for one.
At the top of one little eight-year-old boy's list was, 'wife'.
Our son's.
His teacher stared at it.
Then she looked at Duff.
“You're praying for a wife?” she asked, somewhat sceptically.
“Dad told us if we started praying now, we would get someone special,” Duff told her. “Like he did.”
With tears in her eyes, the teacher told us the story.
And brought tears to mine.
I had heard my Husby teaching our children.
But it was at that moment that I realized just what he was teaching them.
And that they were learning it.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Future Father

Big Brother
Our third son, Duffy, was two-and-a-half when our first daughter was born.
He stuck to the baby and I like glue.
That doesn't mean he learned anything . . .
At the tender age of three, Duffy was enrolled in the Sunbeam class in our church.
With eight little girls.
Boys were obviously something new.
Moving on . . .
The scheduled lesson was all about babies. A precious gift from God.
It was a beautiful lesson.
My four-month-old baby, Caitlin was invited into the class.
I came with her.
Sort of like show-and-tell.
But interactive.
And noisy.
Okay, just like show-and-tell.
After the little girls got tired of cooing over the real baby, their teacher (the mother of five girls, herself) brought out a large basket.
Filled with everything 'baby'.
There were dolls by the dozen.
Clothes.
Blankets.
Bottles.
Instantaneous heaven for the budding little mothers in the class.
Duffy was a boy.
And, though his older brother liked cuddling dolls, Duffy was more comfortable with trucks and things 'boy'.
He was handed a baby doll.
Naked.
And a blanket.
He dangled his doll by one foot and looked at the little girls around him.
All had at least one (some had purloined two) little babies wrapped warmly and tucked tenderly into their arms.
Most were singing softly.
And rocking.
Duffy stared at them, then held up his baby.
Still by one foot.
Okay. He could handle this.
He spread his blanket out on the floor.
Then dropped the doll onto one corner and proceeded to roll it up like a sausage.
He then jammed the resulting package under one arm.
Done.
The teacher handed him a bottle.
There's more?
He took the bottle and looked at it.
I should mention here that I nursed my babies.
Duffy had never seen a bottle before.
I can still see his little confused face.
What an earth was he supposed to do with this?
Finally, he pulled out his little, blanket-wrapped bundle, grabbed a corner of said blanket and gave it a pull.
The doll flipped out, spun in the air for a moment, then clattered to the floor.
Duffy again grabbed it by the foot.
This time, he examined it minutely.
Ah. There was a tiny hole in one butt cheek.
Perfect for the strange little bottle he had been handed.
He stuck the nozzle of the bottle into the little hole and beamed happily at me.
All was well.
My son, father to future generations . . .

There is a codicil.
Despite this obviously rocky start, Duffy has proved to be an excellent and loving father.
Gifted with working with children of special needs.
I guess he was watching after all.

Friday, June 15, 2018

While Mom's Away


Mom had to go out for a while.
Actually, her errand should only have taken a few minutes. She needed to go to the DMV and collect her new license. But everyone knows that those places are staffed by sloths (True story. I saw it in a movie once.)
So, she had no idea just how long she would be.
A lot can happen in our home in a short period of time. Just FYI.
In her absence, Mom had put me in charge.
I am two years older than Sally, after all.
Sally, the sly thing, didn’t say a word when Mom delegated me. Merely sat there, with that little half-grin she usually wears. The grin that tells me Sally is . . . thinking.
Not a good thing.
The instant the door closed behind Mom’s I’ve-seen-better-days faded pink coat, Sally turned to look at me. “It’s my turn. Give me the remote,” she announced.
“What?” I protested. “It is not! You’ve had it all afternoon! I just got it!”
“But you’re the one in charge and that means that you have to keep whoever’s in your charge happy.”
“Where does it say that?”
“In any babysitting manual you can find.”
“Well I don’t know where to find a babysitting manual!”
Sally’s smiled widened. “Well, until you do . . .”
“Fine! Take the stupid thing.”
“And I want popcorn.”
“Get it yourself!”
“I’m getting unhappy.”
I rolled my eyes. “You were born unhappy!” I decided I’d had enough. “And you know what? I’m going to hold the remote!”
“You have to get it first!” Sally leaped to her feet, jerked the long, black cord out of the console and started to spin the device with it.
Like some sort of modern-day gamer gladiator.
I prepared myself, balancing lightly on the balls of my feet, hands up, ready to pounce.
Swing. Swing.
The remote went past me a couple of times.
Swing. Pounce! I had it!
For a brief, glorious moment, I felt the cool, molded plastic in my hands, then Sally jerked on the cord and both the stupid appliance and my triumph disappeared.
Now normally I would just prepare myself for round two. That’s what you have to do with Sally.
But this time, she miscalculated. And the remote slid right out of her hands, sailing with uncanny and devastating precision through the hole in the front door screen.
Where it smacked into the head of Mrs. Petrie, who just happened to be standing there, arm raised, ready to knock.
Of course neither Sally nor I had seen her.
Our only clue that she was anywhere in the vicinity came when she let out a little shriek
Just before she pitched over backward.
She must have been coming to collect for something because a little basket of papers and coins went straight into the air.
The coins made little ringing sounds as they rained around her.
The papers started to drift across the grass.
Now I should mention here that we have a new and very nosy neighbour, Mrs. Casper, or Mrs. Gasper, as Sally and I like to call her.
Who just happened to be out on her lawn where she saw the whole thing.
And immediately jumped to the erroneous conclusion that Sally and I were attacking and/or trying to rob poor Mrs. Petrie, now out cold on our brick walk.
The old bat didn’t even try to get at the truth. She merely dialed 911.
Our Mom arrived home just a minute behind the police.
She shouldn’t have been too surprised to see the red and blue lights as she drove up.
I mean, she’s seen them before.
Umm . . . maybe.
She started shrieking, though, when she stepped out of her car to see one of the officers apprehend Sally.
Then things just got confused.
Fortunately, Mom’s good at confused.
She has to deal with Sally and me after all.
While she sorted everything out, Sally and I retreated to the living room.
I plugged the remote back in and sat on the couch.
“It’s my turn,” Sally said.

Mid-month Fridays are the best! That's when Karen of Baking in a Tornado and her rag-tag group of followers exchange words.
And get creative.
This month, my words came from our amazing leader herself!
They were:
apprehend ~ collect brick ~ home ~ remote
How'd I do?
Looking for some more fun?
Hop over to my fellow Karenites and see what they've created!



Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thirty

Three. (With sister, Tiana)

Tristan on the left.
Somewhere in the middle years.
With beloved friend, Zack (and brother, Dillon)
How did this happen?
April 7, 1991.
Husby and I were visiting with his mother and other family members in her home in Fort MacLeod, Alberta.
It had been a beautiful day.
Great food.
Lots of laughter.
And birthday cake.
Also somewhere in the middle...
We were celebrating the birth of her son, Husby's youngest brother.
Who was turning thirty.
I was sitting beside her as she shook her head, her eyes on her tall son standing with his wife and several children.
"Wow," she said. "I can't believe my baby's 30!"
I looked at my various children running in and out--the youngest with a second piece of absconded cake in his already-chocolate-coated fingers.
"I can't believe my baby's nearly three!" I said, thinking I was somehow still in the competition.
She smiled.
Move forward a few years.
It's June 14, 2018.
Husby and I were visiting over breakfast. "Wow! June 14," I said. "Tristan's birthday!"
"Yep." He nodded. "What year is this?"
I thought about it for a moment. "Huh. Thirty!" I looked at him. "I can't believe my baby's thirty!"
Yeah, Mom Tolley. I get it now.
Happy Birthday, Son.
Today. With youngest daughter, Twizzle (aka: Elizabeth).

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Peace


The thought of Barefoot Days suggests
A time of peace, with sunlight blessed.
Shoeless feet along a trail,
Or treading beach to scan for whales.
Squishing mud between one’s toes,
With no thought giv’n to fears or woes.
What a carefree life! I praise
All simple, sunlit Barefoot Days.

But now I must admit that I,
Find this old world one ‘scary guy’,
From rising, till I find my bed,
The news is filled with fear and dread.
No one to trust and families torn,
And many still to hatred sworn.
I need as I traverse the haze,
A few more of those ‘Barefoot Days’.

Karen of Baking in a Tornado issues the Monthly Poetry challenge and we, her friends/obedient followers, drag our sorry selves jump to the task.
The result is as you see. Several poems on a theme, but with vastly differing results.
It's totally fun!
See what the others have created:
Karen of Baking In A Tornado: Barefoot Days
Jules of The Bergham Chronicles: Barefoot with You
Lydia of Cluttered Genius: Barefoot Summer
Dawn of Cognitive Script: My Barefoot Days

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Oak Memories

One of the vast displays.
Notice the barrel, off to the right...

I guess if one had to pick a theme for this blog, that theme would be ‘Memories’.
Mostly mine, but occasionally, someone else’s.
Today is one of the ‘someone else’s’.
Throughout his career, Husby worked as a project manager for every one of our amazing world-class Alberta museums. 19 of them. Much of his time was spent in a large, rather stuffy office, but frequently, he was on the road doing actual, physical . . . stuff.
During office time, take-a-child-to-work-day wasn’t possible. But when he was on the road . . .  
Our middle son, Duff, loved to go with his dad to work.
The construction of the Reynolds Museum in nearby Wetaskiwin was nearing completion. The buildings were up. The inside displays were ongoing. And it was this need that was being addressed when Husby loaded Duff into the truck and headed for the nearby farm outfitters.
There they purchased what was, to eight-year-old Duff, a HUGE oak barrel.
Loading it into the back, they headed for the museum, where Duff made a bee-line for his usual hidey-hole in one of the center’s vast closets and switched on the video he had been watching the last time he had come to work with Dad.
He loved it in there. People would come by to get something and greet the small boy with a smile and a ‘which video are you watching now?’ greeting.
Then the big day came for the grand opening, attended by thousands.
As Husby’s family, we were given preferential treatment, being admitted hours before everyone else for a first glimpse.
We wandered through the amazing displays, ooh-ing and ah-ing on command.
One of the kids got thirsty and we stopped at a water fountain to get a drink.
“That’s my barrel!” Duff said excitedly.
Sure enough, the water fountain had been constructed using a large oak barrel as the base. Fitting it right into the ‘farm’ theme of the central floor of the museum.
Perfect.
Moving forward fifteen years . . .
As a young man, Duff visited the Reynolds Museum once more with a group of friends. They wandered through the displays, again ooh-ing and ah-ing on command.
Duff stopped at the water fountain, still housed in the oak barrel. It didn’t seem quite as huge now.
But it still brought back the memories.
Of time spent with his father.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Eternal Sunshine


Twin brothers. One a pessimist, his life’s outlook sour,
And one an optimist. It’s true! Was gladder by the hour.

A fam’ly blessed with healthy sons, one Jonny, one named Joe,
They grew together in the light that fam’ly love can show.
But Jonny, eldest of the twins, a confirmed cynic, he,
Saw ‘life’ in only adverse terms, the worst that they could be.

Now Joe was different. Joe could see the best that life could give,
A ‘glass-half-full’ old chap was he, and happy just to live.
Before I go much further, tell me, which would you prefer?
The optimist or the pessimist? (I’ll probably concur!)

Now on their birthday (ten years hence), their father had prepared
A test for his beloved boys. Their feedback, he’d compare.
For Jon, he wrapped up carefully the best toys he could find,
For Joe, a box of smelly dung with golden cords entwined.

Now when they opened up their gifts, poor Jonny sat and sighed,
“They’ll all be broken in a week!” he, to his fam’ly, cried.
But Joe, he looked inside his box, then started for the door,
His father started after him. “Joe, where’re you headed for?”

Joe laughed as he donned hat and coat and headed for the yard,
“You have to know, dear Dad,” he said. “It really isn’t hard.”
“When I unwrapped that box of ‘poo’, I knew some mastermind
Had left my gift outside and soon, a pony, I will find!”

Which would you choose, the pessimist? The one who’s always sad?
Or would you choose the optimist? Who’s never-ending glad?
Now this is just a silly story, meant to entertain,
And now you’ve had your giggle, but the question still remains . . .










Mondays to get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we three besought,
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thought--perhaps a grin?
So Jenny and Delores, we,
Have posted poems for you to see.
And now you've seen what we have brought . . .
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Next week from our happy homes,
We'll celebrate the Garden Gnome!

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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