Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, November 2, 2012

The Circus Tent


For a quarter of a century, we have gone camping every summer with our good, good friends.
We have enjoyed our time in the Great Canadian Woods.
Visiting and laughing around the campfire.
Chopping wood.
Sharing meals.
Watching our children grow.
And our numbers increase.
Seeing our grandchildren introduced to 'nature'.
And seeing our hair get a little greyer and our steps a little slower.
Now, when we go, there is generally just the four of us.
And we still spend the time talking and laughing.
And reminiscing.
I wouldn't miss it for the world.
Recently, our friends have had a new addition.
I should mention, here, that when we camp, we do so with few luxuries.
Each of us has always used a little tent trailer.
And that is the extent of our amenities.
Moving on . . .
The 'new addition' I spoke of was a 'new to them' tent trailer.
Many, many years younger than the old one (aka: The Circus Tent).
And . . . not quite as brightly coloured.
Their Circus Tent ended up in our back yard, awaiting a new owner.
For some time, we deliberated what to do.
Advertised.
Made phone calls.
With little or no progress.
Finally, my Husby shoved the little trailer through our back gate and onto the boulevard.
Then he put a sign on it which read, “Please Take Me Home – Free!”
An hour later, the little trailer was gone.
Mission accomplished.
But that isn't the end of the story.
Yesterday, as our first snow flew, we deemed it time to place our own trailer into its winter habitat.
Carefully, my Husby was manoeuvring it into the back yard.
As he got out to close the gate, a young man appeared in the opening.
“Excuse me!” he said.
My Husby smiled at him. “Yes?”
“Are you the person who put the little tent trailer out on the boulevard last spring?”
Uh-oh. “Umm . . . yes.”
“Well, my wife and I saw it there and took it home,” the young man said.
“Oh?”
“Yes. We fixed it up. Painted it. And took it camping with our young children this summer.”
“Oh!”
“Our family had the best time! It kept us safe and dry and worked perfectly.”
“I'm so glad!”
“And we've been driving past here every day since, hoping to see someone that we can thank.”
“Oh.”
He put out his hand. “Thank you,” he said. “We wouldn't have been able to afford one any other way. We just wanted to let you know that your gift was very much used. And very much appreciated.”
My Husby shook the proffered hand and waved as the little family drove away.
For over a quarter of a century we have gone camping in the Great Canadian Woods.
We have loved it.
We didn't charge anything for the little tent trailer.
But we still got a paycheck.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Saving Savanna


A beautiful, tender little Christmas story of love, faith and forgiveness by friend and author, Sara Fitzgerald.

Devan swallowed and then changed the subject. “We only have three days left until Santa comes down our chimney. What do you want him to bring you?”
“There’s only one thing I want from him,” she whispered, leaning toward him.
He forced a smile. “And what’s that?”
“I want Mommy back.” 
Devan can’t help but blame God for his wife’s death, so the last thing he wants to do this holiday season is celebrate. But when his daughter, Savanna, makes a special Christmas wish, their little family will never be the same. Filled with faith and tenderness, this heartwarming story is sure to remind you of the real power behind the magic of Christmas.

Saving Savanna is the story of one little girl's Christmas wish. And the faith and understanding that make her wish come true. Tenderly, sweetly told, Saving Savanna is sure to be a perennial Christmas favourite with young and old alike.

Our Winner!

Great news!
The excitement has ended.
The dust has settled.
And a winner has emerged, triumphant.
No, it's not the gladiatorial contests.
It's the draw for a set of my books: Kris Kringle's Magic and Carving Angels.
And the winner?
ZaraAlexis of http://zaraalexis.blogspot.ca/
Congratulations, Zara!
If you like them, please spread the word!
And to everyone else - thank you so much for entering! I wish I had a book to send to all of you . . .
If you are still interested in reading either Kris Kringle's Magic or Carving Angels, they can be found at Amazon.com.
Christmas, here we come!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Just Put a Little Love on That

Mmmm . . . love.

We were invited out to dinner last night.
Our hostess served us Turkey a la King.
And fresh, warm muffins.
With a crisp spinach salad.
Everything was absolutely delicious.
Which is usually the case when someone else cooks.
But as I was eating my salad, I suddenly remembered the spinach of my youth . . .
My Mom was a terrific cook.
Really terrific.
I can't remember anything that she made that I didn't like.
From her breakfasts of pancakes or waffles or bacon and eggs, through to her suppers of roast beef or shepherd's pie or veggies with cheese sauce, and everything in between.
Terrific.
But Mom had been raised by her Mom to believe that everything . . . everything . . . needed to be well done.
Meats.
Carbs.
Even veggies.
All had to be baked or fried or boiled to 'within and inch of their lives'.
Or at least until they had lost whatever colour they originally had.
It wasn't until I was married that I discovered the joy of 'medium rare' and 'tender crisp'.
And sometimes . . . raw.
I remember the first time someone served a mound of fresh, crisp cauliflower.
Uncooked.
With dipping sauce.
I stared at it.
Weird.
Cauliflower was suppose to be served steaming hot.
With cheese sauce.
I didn't even try it that time. Merely having seen it was sufficient for me.
Shortly afterwards, I did.
Try it, I mean.
I found it delicious.
And it opened a whole new world for me.
A world of colour and taste and texture that I never knew existed.
Back to the spinach.
Do you know how my Mom always served it?
Boiled.
I kid you not.
She would boil it.
Then serve it as a glop on our plates.
With vinegar.
And something else?
We loved it.
Slurped it down like it was our last food on earth.
My point here is that I love food the way I prepare it now.
But I loved it equally as well when Mom fixed it.
I guess it all just comes down to how much love is served with it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vacuuming. Ugh.


My first official household job when I became a newly minted teenager was the vacuuming.
Ugh.
Mom would drag out her antiquated upright vacuum, wheel it over to where I was sitting watching Saturday morning cartoons, and say, cheerfully, “Diane! You've just won a trip!” There, she would pause significantly, smiling widely at me.
I knew what was coming.
Which made it distinctly un-funny.
Finally, she would add, “Around the house with the vacuum!”
Sigh.
I hated vacuuming.
And her vacuum, whatever it's glowing attributes in its younger days, was distinctly past its prime.
In fact, it hardly had any suction at all.
Vacuuming with a machine that hardly sucks really sucks.
So to speak.
Dutifully, and after a significant number of follow-up 'encouragements', I would drag myself out of my comfy chair, grasp the handle of my nemesis, and start in.
Brrrrrrrrr.
Stupid vacuum.
Brrrrrrrrr.
Look at that! It won't even pick up that piece of lint.
Brrrrrrrrr.
Have I mentioned that I hate vacuuming?
Brrrrrrrrr.
And so it went.
Every Saturday, there was a half hour or so of my life that I'd never get back.
Sigh.
I learned a few tricks.
For example, running an upright vacuum with a spinning brush over an area rug usually resulted in disaster.
The ingestion of said rug.
I learned to stand with a foot at either edge of it to hold it down.
Genius.
But I also learned that spinning brushes are not to be tampered with.
Not-so genius.
Maybe I should explain . . .
One day, the wretched vacuum quit sucking altogether.
For several minutes, I ran it back a d forth over the same piece of lint.
Nothing.
Without shutting it off, I tipped it up to see if the problem was something obvious.
It was!
Right . . . there.
Now, just because a vacuum had quit sucking, doesn't necessarily mean that it has stopped working.
I poked one finger towards the problem.
ZZZZZTTTT!
Ow.
Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!
I dropped the vacuum and did the dance of pain, clutching my injured right pointer finger in my left hand.
Finally, I spread my hand, palm up and gazed at it.
Looked okay from here.
I turned it over.
My fingernail was black.
I kid you not.
Black.
The vacuum had ripped it free of my finger in one quick, easy movement.
Leaving it attached only by the outer edges.
And it had filled instantly with blood.
Ick.
And it hurt.
Ouch.
Sometime later, an incessant noise intruded upon my pain.
I realized, belatedly, that the vacuum was still running.
Not that it was doing any good.
I switched it off and ran to find my mom.
My black fingernail was with me for a long time.
A long time.
A reminder that vacuuming was not to be taken lightly.
Or at least that vacuums were to be treated with respect.
After that, whenever I needed to see the inner workings, not only was the beast switched off.
But it was also unplugged.
A lesson harshly taught.
But a lesson nonetheless.

P.S. I still hate vacuuming.
Just FYI.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our New Song. Please.



Sweethearts.

A poem.
Because it's Monday . . .


Now you have a Love that is loyal and true,
And perfect in every way.
But knowing all that, now I put it to you . . .
What in the world would you say?

From the time that we met as she walked down the street,
Just a’singing her favourite song,
Every moment together was perfect and sweet,
Put it mildly, we two got along.

Daily we’d treasure our moments together
And the years have gone past in a blur,
But lately, I’ve found that there’s one sort of weather,
I’m finding it hard to endure.

Now I’m not nasty or mean and I try to be kind,
I’ve given her arms that are strong.
It’s been sixty five years, I’m mos’ deaf and near blind,
And I’m needing a different song!

I admit that I liked it when our Love was first new,
But more and more often, I find,
That ‘Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do’,
Is driving me out of my mind!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Texting Through Time


My friend and fellow writer, Christy Monson has released her new novel, Texting Through Time: John Taylor and the Mystery Puzzle!


Micah and Alicia are excited to meet John Taylor as a child in England. But when their phone won’t let them return to their own time, they’ll follow the prophet around the world, learning some important lessons along the way. Humorous, entertaining, and informative, this book is a wonderful introduction to church history that’s bound to be a family favorite!

Second in the series and targeting Christian YA readers Christy Monson's new book is a fun and exiting dash through the past with our two favourite brother and sister time-travellers, Micah and Alicia.
With their scientist father's experimental (and often particular) time-travel phone in hand, Micah and Alicia's 'quick peek into the past' turns into a full-blown scriptural adventure that they must solve before they can return to their own time.
Beginning with the meeting of a young John Taylor near a castle ruin in 1800's England, our two explorers discover that this future prophet is already a person of kindness, integrity and faith.
As they continue to follow him throughout his life; his emigration to the United States and his life lived in the service of God, they discover a man who is also courageous, prayerful and loving.
Laced with scriptural clues and references and entertaining adventures and mishaps, Texting Through Time is an exciting race with discovery, discouragement and dying cell phone batteries.
There isn't a more exciting way to learn about LDS Church history!
Read about this book at Goodreads!
Texting Through Time will be available November 13 at Amazon or through any LDS booksellers.

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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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