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

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Library Crimes

I rarely look inside my purse.
It’s true.
I don’t shop. And when I do, it’s so rare, I need instructions about where to slide or insert the little card thingy.
I also love to read.
All of this will become relevant . . .
When the kids were little, we went to the library.
A lot.
It builds character.
We had our routines. Which usually consisted of me hauling a great bag of books into the place.
And another great bag of books out of the place.
Why do so many of my life’s memories include me carting heavy loads?
Just wondering . . .
On many of our visits, several of the books I carried in and out were for me.
This is both good and bad.
Because I read a lot. Which was good.
But I also brought whatever I was reading with me wherever I went in the house. And, because I’m unorganized, usually left it there. So, when the time came for our weekly library trip, I couldn’t yell at my kids for displaced books because I was the worst offender.
Sigh.
On this particular occasion, I had lost the book I was reading.
Really lost it.
No amount of hunting and cleaning and interrogating family members brought that little beauty to light.
Finally, in desperation, I decided I would simply have to purchase said book.
During our library visit, I talked to the girl at the counter, explained my dilemma, and paid for the stupid book.
Then gathered my kids and headed toward the exit and my great bag of books that had been slid through and was waiting for me beyond the turnstile.
As we neared the gate, a great electronic shriek filled the room. Definitely not a ‘library’ sound.
It startled all of us.
Including the people behind the desk.
“Ma’am?” one of the girls said. “Do you have an unscanned library book?”
I looked at my children, all bookless, and shook my head.
“May we examine your purse?”
Nodding, I handed it to her and she opened it.
And there, nestled among the used Kleenex, lipbalm and hairbrushes, was the lost book.
I am not making this up.
Both of us gaped at it like we had spotted a snake nesting in the warm confines of my handbag.
“That’s it!” I exclaimed unnecessarily.
She pulled it out and looked at me.
I don’t remember what happened after that. I think they gave me my money and kept the book. Everything was a blur.
I should tell you I have no idea of how that book got into my purse.
Ahem . . .
I swear I’m not indifferent to rules. I understand how a library works—the whole borrowing and returning thing. I also know that when you wish to purchase a book, you go to a book store, pay your money, and then stuff your book into your bag.
Knowing isn't doing, I guess.
So, if you’re considering going to the local library to apply for a membership card and need a personal recommendation from a friend?
Probably you should look elsewhere.

Every month, Karen, of Baking in a Tornado collects words.
Then she distributes said words.
The result is Use Your Words and it is such fun!

My words this month were:  character ~ unorganized ~ indifferent ~ recommendationlibrary and came to me, via Karen, from Rena at Diary of An Alsheimer's Caregiver 



Here are the other participants:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

(Bad)Luck of the Irish


He’s not a  mean or nasty lout,
In fact, were you to ask about
Our Paddy Craig O’Connor boy,
You’d find that he’s just hoi polloi.

He’ll shoulder in, with work to do
He loves his wife, and kiddies too,
He’s loyal, almost to a fault,
A fisherman--a seasoned salt.

But after a long day at sea
He’ll meet the boys occasionally,
And, of the good stuff, have a dram,
Then get himself into a jam.

‘Cause Paddy, when he’s had a few,
Well, there’s nothing he won’t do,
Though he draws the line at lawless stuff,
It's hard for him to say, "Enough!"

He’s mixed the pigs in with the sheep,
And upset everybody’s sleep,
Howled with the dogs, sang with the cats,
Joined Ladies Aid with a box of bats.

Dropped a pig in the local pub,
Took chickens to the senior’s club.
Yes, Paddy really has a knack.
For strolling down the 'mischief' track.

Until that time e’en Paddy knew
He’d knocked the Universe askew.
He had to make a major change.
Frivolities, he’d rearrange . . .

It’d started harmlessly enough,
With Paddy swimming ‘in the buff’.
Just floating out there in the bay
Till the Archbishop came his way.

I must admit: How could he know
An august visitor would show?
But there he was upon the sand,
With formal robes and raise-ed hands.

Well, Paddy rose out of the sea,
His clothing somewhat absentee,
Walked up to ask him “What's the craic?”
And give His Grace’s hand a shake.

And right there on the sea levee,
In frank and simple way, did he
Beseech His Excellence to leave.
A blessing for one who believed.

The blunt request no sooner said,
His Grace’s face turned slightly red,
T’was only then Pad realized
They were the focus of all eyes.

The village, whole, was there to see.
Pad sobered up immediately,
And in the mayhem that ensued,
Vowed he would be more subdued.

So if you’re staying there to sleep,
Hear pigs and chickens and some sheep,
Know, with those feats of fun and brawn,
That Paddy’s clothes are staying on.

Every month, Karen of Baking in a Tornado presents a challenge.
Poetry. On a theme.
For March? Luck.
What could be more fitting than a repost of someone's luck--erm--running out?
Okay, well it made sense to me . . .
See what the others have done!
Karen of Baking In A Tornado: Luck Gone Amuck
Dawn of Spatulas On Parade: The Meaning of Luck
Jules of the Bergham Cronicles: Luck of the Draw

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Elves and the Shoemaker

What an amazing experience!
The Elves and the Shoemaker was my very first attempt at writing, producing and directing.
And I survived.
Would I do anything differently?
Nope.
Enjoyed every uncertain, educating, sleepless, difficult, breathtaking, teary, exhilarating minute!
To all my elves and shoemakers: Thank you. A HUGE thank you.
I love you all!
Pictures by : Kristi Milner Pfeiffer.
Sawyer's saving you a seat!
Little Elf Face


Playbill...

Townspeople



Welcome to the town of Bliss, Anywhere.

The elves appear
While the Shoemaker sleeps . . .


These shoes are 'Perfection'!

Peeved being a little less peeved.

Bad Boy Blues

Narrator 'staying out of it'.

Sorry, Jonny, I forgot you were there.
Why were you there?

Shoes for everyone!

Videos and more pictures to follow as soon as they are ready!


In other news:

Tonight is PIE NIGHT!
The second most magical night in the Tolley year.
71 pies this year. 
Apple, Strawberry/Rhubarb, Cherry, Blueberry, Cherry/Blueberry, Peach, Chocolate, Coconut-cream, Lemon and pumpkin.
Wish you were here!


Monday, March 13, 2017

Taped

It's Monday!
Time for a little rythm.
A little Rhyme.
And a whole lotta fun!

Our play has wrapped.
Today and tomorrow? Memories of The Elves and the Shoemaker:


Their parents were all in the cast or backstage,
Their grandparents, too, with the play were engaged.
Two little girls in the large gallery,
Two last little sprigs on their family’s tree,
Had grown bored with the play they had seen from Day One.
That first day was great! The rest, not so fun.
They’d seen scenes through first blocking and all incarnations,
Knew all of the songs and heard all the Orations.
And while those in the room were still fixed on the show,
Running sound and effects. Lights above and below,
Two little girls weren’t attentive at all,
They wanted to run. They wanted to sprawl.
They did not want to sit in their chairs quietly,
They wanted to dance, laugh and giggle. Times three.
But Grampa, just sitting there, manning the lights,
Had to keep ‘shushing’ his two little mites.
Then in an effort to give them a scare,
Vowed to tape two little butts to their chairs.
Two little girls sat down quietly then,
But those silly old wiggles soon started again.
And then Grampa, still working the lighting board’s keys
Heard a sweet little voice, and it said, "Grampa, please—
We’ve done everything mom sent for we two to share,
Grampa, please, could you tape both our butts to the chair?"
Every day we learn something, and today, here is one:
When is a threat not a threat? When it’s fun!

Ahhh! Doesn't Poetry just smooth out the wrinkles?
Visit my good friends and see what they've done with Poetry Monday:
Jenny_o at Procrasintating Donkey
Delores at Mumblings

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dadstory: Conclusion

The play is done.
It was a great success and so much fun!
Details to follow tomorrow--when I've recovered!

Dadstory: Conclusion

Dad was a hopeless clutterer. He was never unclean; just disorganized. And he did not really have the patience to bother with tidying things up - unless it was his vehicles or machinery or building a granary, and then everything was kept in tip-top shape. But to actually sit down and try to organize things, Dad could not be bothered. For example, whenever the family was getting ready to go on a trip, Mom would start sending things out with all of us to Dad, who had the chore of packing it in the trunk of the car. It would be easiest to say that Dad's inability to fit everything into the trunk stemmed from the fact that rarely knew ahead of time how much he was expected to fit into the trunk - and he always ran out of trunk before suitcases. But I think it would be closer to the truth to state that Dad simply started putting things into the trunk with little thought as to spatial arrangement, and much space was wasted or ill-used. And so, the trunk filled up before the goodies quit coming. Dad would eventually give up, and go to tell Mom that she was going to need a three-ton truck to transport all of 'that stuff'. Mom would invariably come out to the car for inspection, and take EVERYTHING out of the trunk, and start over. Dad, at this point, would hover nearby, trying his best to convince Mom that she might as well give up, she was never going to get it all in anyway. Mom would continue, telling Dad that only "a dumb ezzle" would pack a trunk "like a sausage" or some other such loving jab, while Dad would snicker and continue to try to intimidate her into giving up as he had. After a little while, Mom would clamber out of the trunk, say something to the effect of "is that all there is?", and then drag Dad over to look at her packing job. "Well, I'll swan!!", Dad would exclaim as he examined the trunk, which was invariably little more than one-half full. And then he would snicker and grin, amid accusations that Mom had thrown half a dozen things away while he wasn't looking - all the while knowing that it was simply Mom's superior packing techniques that made the difference.
 Dad was a simple man. Now I don't mean that in a pejorative sense at all. What I mean is that to Dad, life was very simple -- black and white, with no shades of grey. Everything was either right or wrong. There was no teetering in between. I remember one time watching the evening news next to Dad, one of his favorite activities. I don't recall the particular incident, but I do recall that there was a report on the news that evening of one of the senseless battles that had been raging, resulting in some deaths. Dad's eyes didn't leave the screen, and he said: "Now what do you suppose they would want to do something like that for?" At the time, I thought it was just Dad's way of expressing his disgust with violence, for he was a gentle and peaceful man. I thought it was just a passing comment, inspired by the carnage on the TV screen. But when I thought about it later—many times, in trying to understand my father—I realized that the comment was more than just a rhetorical question. Dad REALLY didn't understand. He could not for any reason fathom why people had to do such things to each other. In a way, it was innocence—and I guess that's why I say he was a simple man. He could not understand many of the complexities of society. In many ways, I envy Dad. He created his own world, and lived quite happily in it. I am most grateful that he chose to include me in his simple world. It was great while it lasted, and I often long for more of it.
 Dad was a spiritual man too, in his own way. He understood the inner being in himself, and he understood more about humankind than I think most psychologists could lay claim to. This was evident through a little habit that he had—a good habit, I must say—of collecting poems. For as long as I can remember, Dad was always clipping poems from whatever reading material that he was into at the moment. For the most part, the poems came from the Wheat Pool Budget, a little newsletter affair that came out once a month or so, for farmers that were members of the Wheat Pool organization. Others he would clip from newspapers, or write down as he heard them. When Dad died, Mom asked what I would like that was his. I asked if I could have his collection of poems. I have often thought I should make a book of them; they would make a wonderful anthology of poetry (and a pretty big one, at that). But I haven't; they sit in a file folder, unorganized. Just as Dad left them. When the rush of life gets to me, and I wish Dad were around to give me a word of wisdom, or a grin and a snicker, or tell me one of his goofy jokes to cheer me up, I go to his poems. It is there I am able to find his philosophy on life. It is there I find comfort and solace.
It is there I find Dad's Story. 

Grant Tolley
1986

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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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