Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, September 16, 2016

Baby Painting

The day started out normally enough.
Babies playing quietly while I snatched a couple of minutes online to look at drapes.
“Hmmm—the green or the teal?”
It had taken days to narrow my choices down to these two and my husband’s frustration with me was growing. “Make a choice. Any choice! If you don’t like them we’ll send them back. Need I remind you the neighbours can see into our bedroom when the lights are lit? And no, I don’t want to keep on shutting them off. The lights, not the neighbours.”
He was right. I wouldn’t admit that to his face, but I will to you.
I sighed. Green. Or Teal?
Feeling a bit parched from my time perusing, I decided a nice cup of herbal tea would be in order.
As the water was heating, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t been hearing anything from my toddlers for the past minute.
Silence is golden. But in a toddler, it’s suspicious.
I quietly moved toward the living room where they had been playing.
If they were happily engrossed in something harmless, I did not want to draw their attention. Then I’d have to entertain them.
And my drapery decision would be put off just that much longer.
I stopped in the doorway. Both of them were on the couch and I could just see the tops of heads. They looked all right. Happily engrossed in something.
Could I leave them alone for a while longer? I took a step back toward my kettle and future cup of tea.
Then, something told me to look a little closer.
I still tried to walk quietly, figuring I could just peek over the couch without them knowing. I moved nearer.
Nearer.
And that’s when all thought of leaving them on their own or drapes or decisions went right out of my head. In fact, everything went out of my head.
Because my toddlers had been busily--happily--engaged.
Little baby hands painting each other with diaper cream.
I admit it, I screamed.
Then dove for my camera.
You understand. This needed to be recorded.
For the slide show at their weddings.
And posts on Facebook.
Yeah. I’m on it.


Each month, Karen of Baking In A Tornado organizes a group of bloggers in a word exchange.
My words this month? teal ~ parched ~ baby ~ frustration ~ cream ~ herbal
They were submitted by the inimitable Carol Graham.

Like what you read? See what the others did with their assignment! Do it. It'll be fun!
Baking In A Tornado
Southern Belle Charm
Not That Sarah Michelle
Spatulas on Parade
The Bergham Chronicles
The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
Confessions of a part time working mom
Never Ever Give Up Hope
Climaxed 


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Back To School

Mom is third from the left.
‘T’was seventy-six years ago this year,
On Alberta’s new frontier.
My Mama started school that day,
In Millicent, not that far away.

Swedish was what she knew the best,
And not a word of all the rest.
But for this day that pint-sized girl
Would, English, give a little whirl.

Her mama coached her carefully,
On what to say at Teacher’s knee.
The words that would the class transfix?
“My nom Enes, I’m halfpastsix.”

Clutching book in tiny hand,
Mama entered ‘No-Girl’s Land’,
Then sat down in the nearest seat,
And tried to make herself discreet.

But Teacher saw her sitting there,
With press-ed dress and flaxen hair,
And called to her to please advance,
And of her schoolmates, get a glance.

My Mama went, but she was tense,
She did not want to be thought dense,
So, hoping they would not despise,
Recited what she’d memorized.

But when her class did mock with glee,
The words she’d said so carefully.
My Mom, like ice (or stuff that melts),
Wished she could be someplace else.

From then, my Mom deliberately,
Forget her Swedish publicly,
And ever after English spoke,
When e're she talked with other folk.

Before you sympathize too much,
For kids that did make fun and such,
Please note Mom didn’t cry or bawl,
And scholastically outpaced them all.

Every Month, Karen of Baking in a Tornado issues a challenge. In rhyme.
This month? Back to School
Where would I go but back to the past?

See what these other bloggers have done with the theme!
Karen of Baking In A Tornado: The Evolution of Back to School
Dawn from Spatulas On Parade: Back to School and Off the Streets
Jules of The Bergham Chronicles: Summer’s End

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

For Raisons Unknown

It only LOOKS delicious . . .
I love raisins.
Especially in trail mix.
Or coated in chocolate.
I should probably point out, here, that coating in chocolate is not really an accurate test of raisin love.
If you coated a hubcap in chocolate, I'd eat it.
Moving on . . .
I did not always love raisins. (Even now, I prefer my cinnamon buns and other baked treats to be raisin-less.)
It wasn't until after I was married that I learned to appreciate them.
There is a reason for that . . .
My brother, George, is two years older than I. Throughout our growing-up years, his prime responsibility was the teasing of his younger sister.
He practised his craft at every opportunity.
Mercilessly.
And became very good at it.
One day, our mom made cookies. Something she did a lot.
On this particular occasion, she had produced mounds of raisin cookies.
They were spread out temptingly across the table.
The aroma drew my brother and I from the depths of the house.
“Mmmm. Raisin cookies,” George said. He turned to me. “I knew that Mom was going to make raisin cookies today.”
“You did?” I asked innocently.
“Yep. I did,” he said.
“Did Mom tell you?”
“Nope.”
“You can tell by the smell?”
“Partially. But that's not the real reason.”
“Well, I give up. How did you know?”
He leaned towards me, a big grin on his face. “I knew Mom was going to bake raisin cookies because I saw her picking the raisins off the fly-paper at the back door.”
And from that moment on, in fact for the next twenty years, George had all of the raisin goodies that emerged from Mom's kitchen to himself.
Smart cookie.

P.S. He also tried to convince me that my rice was moving.
But that is another story . . .
He only LOOKS cute!

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Little Bit of Courage

It's bigger on the inside...


We visited the Horne Lake caves on Vancouver Island near where our middle son lives.
Getting ready.
The area is beautiful and the caves undeveloped and natural, which we found exciting.
But I learned something unexpected from the experience.
Let me tell you about it . . .
We went, first of all, for our son, who has Tourette’s and suffers from anxiety.
The fact that he acceded to our wishes to explore the caves is a testament to his courage, his trust in us and/or his very good team of health professionals.
Things started out well.
We donned our protective gear and mugged for a couple of pictures. Then our guide started out with us trailing (pun intended) along behind him down the forest path. A couple of young women were in our group just ahead of us and when we got to the very narrow cave opening, the one put up her hands and said, “Nope. Can’t do it.” They were guided to a secondary cave a short distance away. One without the ‘turn-sideways-and-suck-in-your-gut’ entrance.
I followed the guide, a little anxious for my son coming along behind me.
But then we reached the first cave and there he was. (Handsprings are not encouraged inside these caves. Just FYI.)
I had to keep my celebrating to a “Well done, Son!” and a smile.
We continued on through the ‘mud room’ and the ‘boulder room’ and the ‘crystal room’.
A lot of rooms.
Crouching and sliding to get from some to others.
And still my son stayed with us.
Sometimes even leading.
We saw rock formations that flowed and dripped.
Myriad colours and shapes and sizes.
Were told ‘not to touch that!’ or ‘Ooh, feel how cold this is!’
Lots of things to look at and experience.
A couple of times, I saw my son look upward toward the sky of stone above us.
I did the same.
Then realized that things down below were lots more interesting if I didn’t think about the tons and tons (and tons) of rock hanging over our heads.
We made it through, unscathed and perhaps a little more knowledgeable than when we had gone in.
And with an increased respect for my son’s courage.
But then I thought of something else.
Something that was only peripherally related to the caves we had just explored . . .
Success!
Those caves were like our little piece of our world.
There is much that is scary hanging over our heads. Crime. Terrorism. Natural disasters. Disease.
We could allow this to paralyze us and keep us from going forward.
Or we can maintain our focus and simply carry on. Not let fear stop us.
Keep on exploring.
Keep on living.
Which do you choose?


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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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