Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Pi(e) Day!

March 14.
3.14
Pi.
What better way to celebrate that with PIE?!
Okay, yes, I know, it's a bit of a reach, but that's what the Tolleys do.
Reach.
And eat pie.
My daughter and I spent much of yesterday making 58 of the little beauties.
You're all invited. Everyone's welcome.
See you later?
What better way to celebrate than with pie?!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why Wake the Teacher...

My Dad was big on responsibility . . .

Like lots of dads.
And he tried to teach it to his kids . . .
Like lots of dads.
With more or less success . . .
Like lots of . . . you get the picture.
From my earliest memories, my Dad has been a finisher. Any task he was given or that he assigned himself was always completed with exactness.
It was a good example for us to follow.
Most of the time.
At one point, when I was little, Dad had been assigned to teach a class in our church congregation.
He took it very seriously.
Not only did it give him the opportunity to share his thoughts and beliefs with a group of young people, but it also provided a captive audience.
Something else he loved.
Moving on . . .
Every Sunday, one could find my Dad.
Perched on a too-small folding chair, expounding to his group of enthusiastic excited resigned youngsters.
He was always well-prepared and ready. Eager to share what he had learned.
But my Dad was also the county's only veterinarian.
At certain times of the year, he was the epitome (great word, right?) of busy.
Still, he would show up for his class on Sunday morning, ready to instruct . . .
It was spring.
Calving season.
Dad hadn't seen his bed for days.
Mom drove to church because he didn't trust his blurred vision and slow reflexes.
But he could still teach!
He collected his manual and scriptures and took his seat, facing his little congregation.
He began.
A few minutes later, he jumped.
And . . . woke himself up.
Not a good sign.
He peeked at his audience.
For the first time, ever, they were looking at him.
All of them.
And paying attention.
In fact, one could probably say they were riveted.
Dad felt his face grow hot.
He glanced down at his lesson.
What on earth had he been saying? He had no idea.
Dad taught us two things that day.
  1. Neither wind, snow, sleet, or lack of sleep should keep anyone from carrying through with their responsibilities.
  2. Lessons are much more interesting when the teacher is asleep.
Don't you dare fall asleep in my class! That's my job . . .

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Goodbye, Old Lumpy

This mattress once was new and bright,
But now, it’s not so great.
For under sheets of pristine white
The sleeping spring awaits.

And though the bedding’s crisp and new
When I lay me down to sleep,
The mattress hidden from my view
Should be on a garbage heap.

It’s stained and tattered, bruised and torn,
Its springs are snapped and broken.
And I suffer there till dewey morn.
(Harsh words are often spoken!)

With back in spasm, to sleep I cling,
My dreams are few  . . . and hazy,
Some tears are shed, my hands - I wring.
I’m slowly going crazy.

Tonight, I’ll drink raspberry wine
A quite indulgent habit,
Then into my blankets, serpentine,
I’ll curl up like a rabbit.

‘Cause you know, the time has come, I’m tired
Of sleeping on a cactus.
I’ll, with the morn, at last retire
My meatloaf of a mattress.
My good friend, Delores of Under the Porch Light has done it again.
Presented us with our weekly conundrum of six words and/or phrases designed to challenge - or stupefy.
This week, we have:
Spasm, meatloaf, raspberry wine, clinging, serpentine, indulgent
-and/or-
Under sheets of pristine white
The sleeping spring awaits.
Delores, you're such a tease . . .

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Shiny Black (Waterproof) Magic

It started out well.
But magical doesn’t always remain magical.
Maybe I should explain . . .
When Dad was three, his Mom and Dad came home from their monthly Lethbridge shopping trip with something special.
A pair of rubber boots just his size.
Boots that came without any pesky laces.
Overjoyed at being able to don them himself, he quickly did so. Then marched triumphantly around the house.
“Those are for walking in water,” his mother pointed out. Then she pointed out. “Outside.”
Excited at the prospect of being able to step in water without worrying about spoiling precious shoes, Dad hurried to comply.
He stood in the yard for a moment, glancing quickly about, looking for a currently boy-less puddle of water.
In the garden where his mother had been running the sprinkler, he found exactly what he sought. A shiny pool of water just the right size.
Eagerly, he made a dash for it.
For a second, he paused at the edge, letting the anticipation of the moment . . . erm . . . wash over him. Then he stepped into the water.
Oooooo!
He moved further. The water came a little higher on his new rubber boots.
For a time, he kept his eyes on the magical, world-altering foot gear as he splashed around. Then he stopped and watched the ripples slowly still. The pool become calm.
And it was then he noticed that there was a small, blond-haired boy staring back at him out of the water.
He shrieked and spun around, intent on finding either his mother or the nearest far-away place as quickly as possible.
But toddler feet, new boots, mud and water in combination don’t make for graceful, gazelle-like moves.
Hopelessly tangled up, Dad landed backside-first in the puddle. Where his amazing, magical, life-changing boots promptly filled with water.
A few minutes later a nearly hysterical, decidedly soggy, mud and tear-streaked boy appeared at the back door of the house – boots sloshing with water.
I don’t know what his Mom said. I expect something soothing – over the chuckles – as her small son poured out his story.
And his boots.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Cure

Our Building
The beautiful Maritime Heritage Centre in Campbell River, BC
Normally, I get sick on boats.
We went whale watching off the coast of Oregon.
It was a beautiful, sunny, calm day.
The sea was 'running smooth', as our captain informed us.
We scurried awkwardly aboard and took up places of advantage to watch for the great denizens of the deep.
The boat put out.
And I immediately turned green.
And stayed that way until we returned to the dock and I once more stood upon terra firma.
We tried once again at Cape Cod.
You can read that story here.
My Husby took me on a cruise on a beautiful tall ship:
We had every every luxury.
Gourmet meals.
Exceptional service.
Deluxe accommodation of every sort.
And I spent the entire week battling nausea.
Until I was standing once more on solid ground.
Sigh.
Recently, we toured the Maritime Heritage Centre in Campbell River, BC.
Took the excellent and informative tour with our guide, Fred.
Poked about through displays of things nautical.
Tried out Captain's wheels.
Tested the rope-tying.
Exclaimed over the ingenuity, creativity and artistic talents of Canada's seafaring people.
And finally clambered all over the only known example of a wooden seiner in its original configuration still in existence, the BCP45.
And I do mean all over.
We wandered about the deck.
Peered into the now remarkably fish-free hold.
Took a turn at the helm.
Sat in the minute kitchen and heard 'fishing' stories.
Climbed down into the engine room and studied the behemoth that gave this tidy little ship power and electricity.
Stared askance (Ooh! Good word!) at the tiny bunking facilities that once were home to a crew of six.
And generally spent a wonderful hour, exploring.
And I realized, as I crossed the walkway back that I had just spent time on an ocean-going vessel and not once did I feel the least bit queasy.
It was a breakthrough!
And as long as every boat I get on is standing perfectly still on supports in the middle of a giant display room, my seasickness and I can permanently part ways.
Yep. Cured!
As you may remember it.

As it looks now...



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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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