Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wiping in Canada, Eh?

A repost of my favourite Christmas shopping story.
Because I'm still sick.
Sigh . . .
Red Mittens - not just for hands any more!
We were shopping.
I will admit, here, that shopping is not my favourite activity.
I need a really good excuse.
It was Christmas.
Okay, Christmas is a really good excuse . . .
My youngest two children and I were out to find a gift for Grant.
Their Dad, my Sweetheart.
The hardest person to shop for.
After much wrinkle-browed thought, we had decided that whatever we were seeking would best be found at Lee Valley Tools.
My husband's favourite place on earth.
Really.
It is a long-standing family joke that he must go once a month to LVT to pay homage to Thor, the Tool God.
But I digress . . .
We set out.
It was December.
Winter.
In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, winter equals snow.
Ask anyone.
But avoid those with chattering teeth.
Th-th-they c-c-c-can n-n-n-never be t-t-t-trusted.
Or understood.
Where was I?
Oh, yes. Winter. Shopping. Setting out.
At first, things went well.
A heavy, wet snow was falling thickly, but the window wipers were managing to keep the windshield clear – sort of.
We made it into the city.
And immediately slowed to a snail's pace.
Let me describe the scene for those of you not familiar with travel accompanied by snow: All roads are now white. And slippery. All surfaces have become heavily coated in ice. Nothing is recognizable. Little is even visible.
The windshield wipers are your best, and only, friends.
But even they, too, get clogged with snow and need the occasional boost.
This is accomplished by stopping. Getting out of the vehicle. And slapping said wiper against the window hard enough to remove any accumulated snow.
Or, if you are my husband, by opening the driver's window and catching the wiper when it is in its furthest upright position and giving it a quick snap while it is still in motion.
It's all about timing.
And coordination.
Neither of which I have.
And both of which were to be needed shortly.
Several times, I pulled out of the crawling traffic and performed the necessary operation to clear the windshield.
Then waited for a break in the traffic and pulled back in.
Total time wasted? Hours.
Okay, well, it seemed like hours.
There must be a better way.
I would try Grant's method!
Genius!
When the traffic had stopped for yet another light, or stalled vehicle, I quickly rolled down the window. Then I reached out.
I waited for just the right moment, when the wipers were at their apex (neat word, right?)
Closer. Closer.
There!
I reached out and caught the top of the wiper.
Snap!
Okay, that didn't sound good.
As the wipers began their downward stroke, I realized what I had done.
The blade was still in my hand.
I had snapped the entire thing off it's arm.
Umm . . . oops?
The window quickly became covered in a blanket of white.
Well, half of it at any rate.
Unfortunately, it was the driver's half.
Rather necessary if you want to see where you are going.
And usually, the driver does.
Something needed to be done.
And there was no one but me to do it.
Rats!
Quickly, I climbed out and switched my only remaining wiper blade to the driver's side.
Okay. Now I could see.
That's important.
But now, the other side of the windshield was suffering from the lack of wiper-age.
Hmm.
I looked around.
Our options were . . . limited.
“What about this?” My daughter's voice from the back seat.
She was holding up her red mitten.
I stared at it.
Huh. Might work.
I took it and, climbing out into the storm once more, proceeded to tie it to the other wiper arm.
There.
Perfect.
We switched on the wipers.
Wipe.
Wipe.
It worked!
Now we had a wiper and a . . . mitten.
I don't have to tell you how it looked.
In point of fact, we giggled every time that mitten came into sight.
We finished our trip.
Shopping done. Purchases made.
Van safely parked back on the driveway.
And Grant replaced the wiper that had so inconveniently decided to come off.
Stupid thing.
The wiper, not Grant.
I learned several things from this:
1. Don't shop.
2. Don't drive.
3. Don't live in Canada
4. Don't go anywhere without your red mittens.
Okay, you're right. I didn't learn anything because:
1. I still shop.
2. I still drive.
3. I still live in Canada.
Pack your mittens!

25 comments:

  1. Oh Diane, I LOVE your lessons learned/notlearned!! I shop, I drive, I live in Canada AND I now know what to do if the wiper stops working!

    I do hope you feel better soon, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lesson for all of us. I'll tell my daughter . . . :)
      And thank you. I'll be on the mend . . . soon . . .

      Delete
  2. We lived in Iowa for about 2 winters, which was plenty enough. You are a brave woman--I would stay in when storms like that hit. And I grew up in Illinois.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a 'sty in' person myself. Snow outside. Warm fire and hot chocolate inside. My kind of day. Sigh.

      Delete
  3. I am well-acquainted with the hand-out-the-window-windshield-wiper slap.

    And I would give anything to see you driving down the road with half of your windshield being cleared by a red mitten. :-)

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh. So you're one of those talented ones...
      Just thinking about it still makes me giggle!

      Delete
  4. Great story, Diane, but the red mittens really got me. They are plain vanilla, just like mom used to make. Well, plain cinnamon red hots in this case. Mom would have put one on a windshield wiper, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those cinnamon red hots really do the trick. Useful in so many ways!

      Delete
  5. I live in Canada and I shop but when it's snowing or freezing rain I stay home......with age comes much wisdom lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah! Does it come automatically, or do you have to do something . . .

      Delete
    2. You have to make a lot of poor decisions first....eventually you're beaten down enough to listen to good advice. I still have relapses though.

      Delete
  6. Another fantastic story by you; I can just picture the whole things. Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Pack your mittens."
    I'd say pack extra mittens, you never know when you'll need them.
    Stroke of genius using the mitten like that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh I do hope you are feeling better. I heard it was nasty cold out your way and yes never forget your red mittens in Canada:) B

    ReplyDelete
  9. I won't forget my mittens... they come in handy... ;-)

    ReplyDelete
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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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