Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sucker(s)

So nice! Sigh.

I played hooky.
Once.
For those of you who don't know, 'hooky' is a term coined to describe being absent without leave.
In my case, I was absent from school.
And I didn't do it alone.
Maybe I should explain . . .
We were in grade twelve. For the last semester of my grade twelve year, I lived with Debbie's family, the Joneses, and attended school in the town of Magrath.
Our school bus arrived promptly every morning at 7:30.
After an hour and a half commute, we would arrive, sleepy and slightly dishevelled at the Magrath High School to begin a day of instruction.
One morning, one of us really wasn't in the mood.
Oh, she got up all right.son
Got ready.
Endured the bus ride.
But, standing there in front of those venerable halls of learning, she balked.
“I don't wanna go,” Debbie said.
I stared at her. “What?”
“I don't wanna go,” she said again.
“Oh.” What did one say to that?
“Let's play hooky!”
“Debbie, we can't play hooky!”
“Yes we can! We've never done it and the semester's nearly over!”
She had a point. Both of us had been exemplary students the entire four months.
Which is precisely what my father expected.
“Deb, my dad would kill me!”
“C'mon, Diane, it's only one day!”
I looked at her.
Have I mentioned that Debbie was the only reason I ever got into trouble?
Well she was . . .
At that point, our friend Leonard, he of the pick-up truck, appeared.
“Leonard! Take us to Lethbridge!”
Leonard looked at Debbie. Then he looked at me.
I shrugged.
“Okay,” he said.
And she got other people into trouble, too.
The three of us trailed out of the school and into Leonard's pick-up.
There was plenty of room on the wide seat.
We settled in for the 12-minute ride to Lethbridge.
For a guy, Leonard had a surprisingly clean truck. No trash rolling around.
In fact, the only thing on the dashboard was his brand shiny new 'Western Horseman' magazine.
“Oooh!” I said, picking it up. “Is this the new issue?”
“Yep. Just picked it up this morning!”
“Do you mind if I read it?”
“Nope. Just don't damage it.”
Leonard took good care of his things. Obviously magazines were no exception.
“I'll be careful.” I sat back happily while the two of them chattered.
Lethbridge is a city of about 75,000 just to the north of Magrath.
Not a huge city, but one with several malls and lots of shopping.
We spent the day going from one to another.
And having fun.
At one of our early stops, Debbie and I bought large lollipops.
Large.
On long sticks.
We spent the rest of the time . . . ummm . . . licking.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to catch our bus. No sense in proclaiming that we had just spent the day . . . somewhere other than where we should have been.
Leonard stopped his truck.
“This has been fun!” I told him. “C'mon Debbie, we'd better hurry!” I slid out.
At that point, a friend of Leonard's walked up to his window. “Hey, Leonard, where were you today?”
Distracted, Leonard turned to answer his friend.
Debbie started to follow me.
“Oh, my sucker,” she said, turning back.
Now Debbie had gotten tired of holding the heavy sucker and had laid it down. Not certain of the surface of the dash of Leonard's truck, she had chosen to lay it down on his copy of the Western Horseman.
That same brand new copy he had been so protective of earlier.
She grabbed the long stick.
Only to realize that the magazine came with it.
“Uh-oh,” Debbie said.
Not only had the sucker stuck to the cover of the magazine, but it had also stuck the pages together.
“Ummm . . .” she glanced at Leonard, still engrossed in his conversation. “We'll just leave that,” she said, and slid out after me. “See ya, Leonard!” She slammed the door.
Leonard, still talking, waved cheerfully and the two of us headed for our bus.
Leonard never mentioned his sucker-stuck magazine.
The one he obviously never got to read.
And after he had toted two girls all over Lethbridge.
Some fellow hookey-players are just plain nice.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Playgirl(s)


College years are for making all sorts of mistakes.
Right?
Well, that's what I tell myself.
But this is one I didn't make.
My roommate, Debbie did.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Maybe I should explain . . .
Debbie and I were browsing through the convenience store.
Both of us were suffering from chocolate withdrawal.
We needed a fix.
There was a magazine rack near the checkout line.
Debbie was glancing over the offerings.
“Hey!” she said. “There's a magazine here called 'Playgirl'!
I looked at her. “I thought it was called 'Playboy'.
“Well, there's that one, too.”
“Huh. Weird.”
“What do you suppose 'Playgirl' is?”
The guy behind the counter spoke up. “It's pictures of naked men instead of naked women,” he said.
We stared at him.
Surely not.
I should explain here that both of us were children of the country. The words, 'sheltered', 'naive' and just plain 'dumb' come to mind.
“I've never seen a naked man,” Debbie said.
“Me neither,” I said. Something I was blissfully happy to continue for a good long time.
“Hmm.”
I should mention, here that when Debbie said, 'Hmm' in just that way, anything was possible.
Anything.
“I'm buying it,” she said, reaching for the cellophane-wrapped magazine.
“Ick!” I said. I was ignored.
She shoved it into her bag with her chocolate bars and we headed home.
At this time, we were sharing a two-bedroom basement apartment with two other girls, both as unworldly as we were. And neither of which was at home.
Debbie set her shopping bag on the apartment's only desk, which stood in our roommates' room and pulled out the magazine.
Then she stripped off the cellophane.
“Okay,” she said. “Ready?”
I shook my head. Again, I was ignored.
She flipped back the cover.
The magazine fell open to the centrefold.
Gasp!
I caught a brief glimpse of a handsome young man leaning casually against the doorway of what looked like an abandoned house.
Fortunately, I got no further.
Roommate slapped the book shut.
“Well, that's that,” she said, her face bright pink.
She shoved the magazine under the pillow of the nearest bed.
Episode over, we forgot about it.
Until a couple of days later when our roommate returned from her weekend home and crawled into bed.
We heard a shriek.
Then silence.
“Uh-oh,” Debbie said.
There was a knock at our door.
Debbie answered.
“What is this doing in my bed?” The magazine, held distastefully by finger and thumb, was extended.
“Oh,” Debbie said. “Umm. What makes you think we had anything to do with that?”
Our roommate gave her a 'Nice try, Debbie' look, dropped the magazine at our feet and disappeared.
Debbie picked it up and threw it into the trash.
Episode truly over.
But to this day, I wonder what was happening during the moment of silence after the roommate discovered the magazine . . .
You learn a lot of things during your college years.
One way or another.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pudding on a String


A repost for a busy day . . .

Enjoy!
Daddy, George and Me.
I'm the one in the dress . . . and curlers.
My Dad had made me a new toy.
It was a large - very large (about 5 inches in diameter) button on a string.
Intriguing.
You would thread a long, heavy string through the holes of the button and knot it. Then you would push the button to the centre and grip one of the two loops of the string in each hand.
Now you held something that resembled . . . a button on a string.
But then came the exciting part. If you wound up the button, you could pull the string out away from the button on each side and it would unwind and rewind the opposite way.
If you handled it just right, you could keep it going.
All day.
Which I did.
And it created a bit of a breeze if you got it going very fast.
Which I also did.
Enough background.
Mom had just made a large pot of pudding and set it on the cupboard to cool.
I was waiting, rather impatiently for it to be cool enough for me to eat.
That was when I got my, to date, greatest idea.
My button could generate a breeze. It would cool the pudding and I could eat it that much faster!
I pushed a stool over to the cupboard and climbed up.
Carefully, I manoeuvred my button over the pudding and pulled the strings.
It worked!
For a moment.
Until I relaxed my hands on the ‘rewind’ or maybe the ‘unwind’ stroke.
Then, it dipped and skimmed the top of the scalding hot pudding straight into my face.
And my hair.
And the ceiling.
The covering properties of a button on a string have never been fully explored. I think they should.
I believe Mom was cleaning up pudding from the most impossible places for months.
Long after I had healed.
P.S. I still like pudding. I just prefer it inside me.




Don't forget to enter the draw for a set of my books. Carving Angels and Kris Kringle's Magic.
Bring Christmas home early this year! You can enter by becoming a follower of my blog and leaving a comment. Go ahead. Don't be shy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Titles of Authority


I attended a wonderful college at Rexburg, Idaho for one golden semester in the fall of 1973.
It was as long as I could manage to be away from my family.
Have I mentioned I'm a wuss?
Well, I am.
I was so homesick during those endless four months that I could have died.
I even wrote an article about being homesick that was picked up by the local paper.
I still think the tear-stains on the paper were the real sell.
Moving on . . .
During my time at college, I studied Physical Education.
Really.
I actually took classes in Soccer, Interpretive Dance, Track and Field, and Swimming.
Did you know they offer college level courses in those things?
Yeah. I didn't either.
It was a fun semester.
To round things out, I had to take some other remedial courses.
Chosen from a list.
And including such things as . . . English Language Arts.
And one or more sciences.
Sigh.
I chose Astronomy.
Because Zoology was filled up.
For an entire semester, I studied the stars.
We even went out in the evenings and, with the help of large telescopes, mapped the heavens.
It was chilly.
But fun.
Our instructor for the class was a man named Brother Greg.
Oh, I should mention, here, that this was a Christian school and that we called each other brother and sister.
Even the instructors.
Soo . . . Brother Greg.
Brother Greg was a wonderful man.
Kind.
Patient.
Let's face it, when you are shepherding a group of seventy or more students around, you'd have to have a good dose of both.
And he answered every one of the questions I put to him.
Smiling quietly and nodding whenever my hand shot up accompanied by, “Brother Greg! Brother Greg!”
I enjoyed my Astronomy class.
I even earned a reputable grade.
And it was then that my world stood still.
As well as all of the stars and planets I had been studying.
Because when Brother Greg handed out our final papers, with our grade prominently displayed, I got the biggest shock of the semester.
Brother Greg's name was Brother Nelson.
Brother Nelson?
Where on earth did I get Greg . . .? Oh. Brother Greg Nelson.
On the very first day of class, when I had been writing things down, I had started to write his name and was interrupted.
Thus, he became Brother Greg.
To this day, I wonder how I went through an entire semester without realizing that everyone . . . everyone . . . in the class was calling him something else.
I know the class was Astronomy, but was my head literally in the clouds?
Because he was such a nice man, he never corrected the weird student from Canada who insisted on calling him by his first name.
And neither did the other sixty-nine kids in the class.
Perhaps they snickered behind their hands whenever my hand went up.
Maybe (and this is a faint hope) they never noticed.
Oh, well, as least my grades were good.
Today, I couldn't tell you a single thing taught that semester.
Except for what I learned on the very last day.
And that, I simply can't forget.



Don't forget to enter the draw for a set of my books. Carving Angels and Kris Kringle's Magic.
Bring Christmas home early this year! You can enter by becoming a follower of my blog and leaving a comment. Go ahead. Don't be shy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spooktacular Blog Hop

The biggest blog hop of the year!!
Over 400 participants!


And I'm doing something I've never done before . . .
Giving away a 'set' of my books.
That's right.
Carving Angels and Kris Kringle's Magic.
Together for the first time!
And all you have to do to win them is be a member of my blog and make a comment.
That's it.
It's that easy.
Become a member and make a comment.
Good luck!

Carving Angels and Kris Kringle's Magic. Together for the first time!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fifty Things We Learned This Weekend

Two of our granddaughters stayed with us for the weekend.
While their mother, a professional face-painter, was facepaint-er-ing.
It was a wonderful weekend.
We learned:

  1. Little sisters shouldn't sit on big sisters when both are trying to go to sleep.
  2. Big sisters shouldn't sit on little sisters . . . ever.
  3. Play-dough doesn't taste very good, but it's still better than whatever Gramma just fixed for supper.
  4. Whatever Sister is playing with is infinitely better than what I have.
  5. Clothes are for spreading all over the floor.
  6. Especially clean ones.
  7. Sigh.
  8. One can sit through any boring church meeting if there is food and/or things to colour.
  9. One should never, ever colour one's sister.
  10. Even if she would look better.
  11. Water in a bathtub is only the beginning.
  12. Fireplace ashes can make one's hands . . . and clothes . . . remarkably black.
  13. Hot dogs and ice cream make anything better.
  14. Especially ice cream.
  15. As long as Grampa doesn't try to steal it.
  16. Stories with Gramma must be followed by stories with Grampa.
  17. Because he can do the voices.
  18. Rocking mooses can buck you off.
  19. Rocking stools can do the same.
  20. When Grampa is holding the remote, we watch what he's watching.
  21. Even if it is boring.
  22. One can hide from Gramma for incredible amounts of time if one is quiet.
  23. Or falls asleep.
  24. If Grampa says something a two-year-old doesn't want to hear, one can just stare straight ahead.
  25. For hours.
  26. Almost six-year-olds know e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.
  27. And are happy to share it.
  28. Especially if it means they don't have to eat their supper.
  29. Toys are lots of fun to get out.
  30. But not so much fun to put away.
  31. Climbing is acceptable only if one doesn't fall.
  32. See #13.
  33. One should always know where one's head is in proximity to anything.
  34. Tables. Chairs. Walls. Doors. Sisters. 
  35. See #13.
  36. Again.
  37. One can do all the things in a pretty church dress that one can do in jeans and a T-shirt.
  38. Until Gramma catches you.
  39. If one kicks her foot just right, one can project one's shoe great distances.
  40. And even hit one's sister.
  41. In the eye.
  42. Gramma doesn't like it when one sneezes and then rubs one's hand across one's face.
  43. But do it anyway.
  44. Socks are made for hiding, especially when one is getting dressed for Church.
  45. Shoes, ditto.
  46. Grampas are good for playing ponies
  47. Or Troll-Under-The Bridge.
  48. Grammas are good for dancing.
  49. Both are good for cuddling.
  50. But they get tired fast.
Weekend's over. I'm going back to bed.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

28th Anniversary of my 29th Birthday

Early in October, I celebrated the 28th anniversary of my 29th birthday.
Go ahead.
Do the math.
We'll wait . . .
It was a wonderful time.
Good friends.
Good food prepared by someone else.
Beautiful beaches.
Fun shopping.
And amazing activities.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I just had to share.

The view from our bedroom window in the day.


Same view at night. 

The local  groundskeeper. Keeping the grounds.

The view from the beach.



Drinks with friends on said beach. 

My Birthday dinner with my good friends.


My Sweetie and me. Snapped as I was eating the blueberries from my lemonade. Mmmm. 

They are very friendly down in Mexico.


Very friendly indeed.
Please, please come home with me. I have a bathtub!















Today, it snowed in Edmonton.
Need I say more?
Sigh.





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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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