Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, March 5, 2021

Bob and Murray

 


Before you read any further, you have to be able to accept two facts:
1.      That cats can talk.
2.      That a cat would walk around in a pair of fine boots.
I know what you’re thinking. No cat would ever submit to wearing an item of clothing.
Go with me on this…
A wealthy miller had three sons. A very good thing, except when it comes time to divide an estate. Then all sorts of complications arise.
And so it would prove with our story. When the miller died, his eldest son, Harold, received the mill.
His second son, Jerrold, a fine pair of mules.
And the third son, Bob, a cat.
I have to admit, here, that Bob, though he loved cats in general and that particular cat…particularly, was just a bit perturbed. I mean, what on earth was he to do with a cat for an inheritance?
I had the same thought.
As he was sitting with his head in his hands contemplating that very thing, the cat (let’s call him Murray) spoke to him. “Master?” it said in a very cat-like purr. “Bring me a pair of boots and I shall make your fortune for you.”
Of course the astonished young man (when he got past his astonishment) did exactly that—purchased a pair of fine boots that perfectly fitted his fur baby.
Because who is going to deny their cat such a simple request?
Ahem…
Murray, the cat proceeded to go out and bag a rabbit. (Hunter talk for hunter-ing and killing.) He then presented said rabbit to the king. With the Marquis of Carabas’ compliments.
O-kay.
You’re probably wondering where Bob got his new name.
I have only this to say: Murray is one clever cat.
For the next few weeks, Murray performed a similar service—delivering dead, but succulent animals to the king. In the Marquis’ name.
Let’s just say that, after about the second day, he had the king’s attention.
One bright and sunny day, the king decided to take his sweet and intelligent daughter out for a carriage ride/tour of the kingdom.
Because it was bright and sunny.
Murray, who in this story appears to be omniscient, (It’s a short leap from cat wearing boots to cat knowing everything. Am I right?) noticed.
And quickly devised a plan.
He instructed his young master to shed his clothing and dive into the river.
I’m quite sure there was a bit of conversational back-and-forth-ing, but the up-shot was that Bob, clothes-less, ended up in the river as his cat requested.
Murray then took his master’s rather ragged attire and stuffed it somewhere unfind-able.
Then ran out on the road and flagged down the king’s carriage.
“Help,” he shrieked in his loudest cat voice. “My master has been robbed!”
Of course, Murray was recognized. And of course, the king ordered his servants to fish Bob/the Marquis out of the water and dress him in the finest clothes. And invite him to join the cheerful touring party.
Where the king’s daughter (we’ll call her Jill) took one look at the sweet and intelligent young man and fell heart-first in love.
Good so far.
But the story’s not over yet.
Murray then ran ahead of the carriage and, stopping anyone in the vicinity of the road requested they tell the king the land they worked belonged to the Marquis of Carabas.
Which they did.
Finally, Murray came to a great and handsome palace.
Owned by an ogre.
Now, this ogre was the actual owner of all the lands that had just been ‘claimed’ by the 'Marquis of Carabas'. He ruled his lands with an actual iron fist because this ogre had one quite remarkable ability: He could change himself into anything.
No wonder the people were happy to accommodate Murray in his request to claim a different landowner.
Yikes.
Murray, more brave than…well…anything, marched straight into that palace and demanded a meeting with the owner.
The astonished servants complied and soon Murray and the ogre were face to face.
Well…sort of…
“I can change into anything,” said the ogre.
Probably not the way I would have started the conversation, but then I’m not an ogre.
“Interesting,” Murray replied. “Can you change into a lion?”
“Pah! That’s easy!” And he did.
A rather scary one with sharp teeth and claws.
Murray took a couple of steps back. “Very realistic. And rather scary.” He stroked his kitty chin. “Can you change into something very big?”
“Pah! Child’s play!” And suddenly an elephant was standing there in the ogre’s front room.
Murray frowned. “That is very good. But it’s easy to change into big things. How about something very tiny? Like…erm…a mouse?”
“Pah…!”
And that’s the last thing the ogre said. Because as soon as his furry little mouse body appeared, Murray was on it like a…cat on a mouse. And devoured it.
Just then, the king’s carriage arrived.
Quickly, Murray ran to the front door to welcome the king and his daughter (and Bob) inside the newly-acquired palace of the Marquis of Carabas.
I know you’re wondering how Murray got the servants to fall in with the scheme.
Let’s just say they were infinitely more excited about serving sweet and kind Bob than they had ever been serving an ogre and leave it there, shall we?
The king was properly impressed and, a short time later, when Jill and Bob announced their engagement, happily gave his blessing.
The country prospered. Largely due to the fact that Bob/Marquis put Murray in charge of everything.
Because doesn’t life always go a bit smoother when the cat is in charge?

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Daddy's Girl


We have a dog.
Hmmm…that doesn’t quite cover it. Let me start over.
A fur baby owns us.
Better.
This fur baby came to us at the age of 8 weeks almost two years ago. A little black and white, bear-cub of cuteness.
And immediately captured our senior hearts.
A little background…
Something told me we needed a dog.
We had always had dogs. But our Aldo had crossed the rainbow bridge a couple of years before and we assumed our glorious dog-days were behind us.
As were our walks outside.
I realized that if we didn’t have an excuse to get us into the great outdoors, we’d become hopeless couch-seniors—TV remote fused to one hand—rooted and unable to move.
There was also an added incentive. Apart from his family’s sweet little Banjo when Husby was a teenager, he had never had a dog that was ‘his’.
Oh, our family had tons of dogs. Usually Old English Sheepdogs. And usually a plethora (good word) at the same time.
But none were ‘his’.
With his retirement and subsequent ‘being-at-home-all-the-time-now’ this was his chance.
It took a couple of weeks of convincing. But Husby finally relented.
Sooo…Pandy.
Did you ever have a plan that worked? Where all the planets aligned and balls dropped into their proper places and order?
It happens occasionally.
And it did here.
These two are inseparable. Where Husby is, Pandy is not far away. Under his desk in his office. Lying beside his chair in the family room. Watching closely from an acceptable (dogs aren’t allowed in the dining room) distance at mealtimes. Out in the yard when yard-work is indicated. Riding in the truck with him to appointments or run errands. Waiting patiently while he does whatever it is humans do when doggies are told to ‘stay’ and not allowed out of the truck.
Yep. Where he goes, Pandy is…ahem…underfoot.
Then…yesterday.
Husby was out at the Agriculture Grounds taking some measurements. A member of the Ag Board, he has been organizing the restoration of a period barn on the property and needed to take some measurements.
Pandy was along.
Because.
For some time, she had followed him around, keeping a watchful eye on his doings.
He set up a ladder and climbed into the loft.
Pandy sat and stared up at the hole that had swallowed her daddy.
Then he pulled the ladder up and into the loft so he could look at the ceiling some forty feet from where his little girl sat.
His last glimpse of her was big, brown eyes looking up at him from the ground so far below.
He finished his tasks and returned to ground level.
His fur baby had disappeared
He walked around, calling her.
No Pandy.
The featherings of alarm.
Then he looked toward the truck.
There she was, waiting patiently as she does whenever he takes her somewhere she isn’t allowed to follow. She knew that, at some time, he would return, so this was the safest—and surest—place to wait for her daddy.
Smart doggins.
I just watched the two of them disappear on yet another jaunt. Husby with the leash around his neck. Pandy hopping and jumping with excitement.
Yep. You know that ‘something’ which told me we needed a dog?
It was right.














Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Melty Deliciousness


                          
                                                          The Pass Dairy as it looks today. 

My Father-in-Law (hereinafter known as FIL) loved ice cream.
Maybe I should re-word.
My FIL LOVED ice cream.
Better.
Nearly every meal ended with the creamy deliciousness.
No matter how large the portions had been.
In his words: “Ice cream just melts and goes in the cracks.”
Snack times must always include some form of the treat.
If one was traveling, one could always find someone, somewhere, who could provide a scoop or a spiral.
And that is where this story starts . . .
FIL knew the best places in all of Southern Alberta to buy ice cream.
He would be driving and suddenly turn off the main road.
When questioned, the answer inevitably contained some form of the words: Ice cream. And Need. Some. Right. Now.
Many, many places catered happily (and satisfactorily) to his passion.
But his particular favourite was The Pass Dairy.
In the Crowsnest Pass.
More specifically in the town of Bellevue in the Crowsnest Pass.
For a dollar, they would give you an ice cream cone that was truly heroic in size.
In fact, they took pride in the fact that theirs was the largest, best cone anywhere.
Something FIL challenged them on regularly.
On this particular day, he had gone into the little shop.
And emerged with a cone piled high with a perfect spiral of soft, melting deliciousness.
High.
I think we could properly insert the word: Massive.
Mother-in-Law stared at it, wide-eyed. “Ray,” she said. “If you eat all that, you’ll be sick!”
FIL just looked at her and smiled. “You know better than that!”
He was right. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Travel Signs

We had spent a few days with our coastal son.

The one who lives in paradise.
He is fun, funny and a deep, deep thinker.
He is also the one who remembers everything.
At the top of his list of memories during this visit?
His Dad’s Dad-isms. The strange things his dad told him during his upbringing that he realized, belatedly, really couldn’t be true.
But now are an integral part of his childhood.
If not a part of reality.
First?
A few road signs:
The ‘Deer en pointe’ sign.

A sure warning that there are deer practicing—or performing—ballet in the vicinity.
Occasionally in the middle of the road.
Hence the sign.
Next?
The Snakes on Road sign.

Which gives a warning and also a estimate of number.
But you have to look closely to find them.
When they aren’t slithering down the middle of the road.
Just FYI. We’ve never seen them slithering down the road.
Those signs are erroneous.
Then the Sign which, to the rest of the word says: Loose Gravel.

To Dad, it said “Loo-Che Gravel-lay”.
An Italian fellow who obviously haunts roads in poor repair.
Enough signs . . .
Now we move on to a couple of animals that only Dad knows.
The first and foremost: The rock gopher.

A small rodent-appearing animal that bores holes through solid rock.
I know you’ve seen the holes.
Now you know how they occur.
And, finally, the side-hill gouger.

These are cows seen grazing on the sides of steep hills or mountains.
Their legs are shorter on one side than the other.
Thus their ability to walk comfortably on those steep sides of mountains.
Their only draw-back is their inability to turn the other way.
That would be—a disaster.
And would cause the inevitable, but rarely seen, rolling cow slide.
Dad-isms.
What your kids remember instead of real facts.
And that’s just fine.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Snack of Choice


When Bro and I got home from school,

For both of us, the standing rule

Was finding something good to eat,

A goodie, nosh, a snack, a treat.

 

When mom was there, we were so glad,

She’d something warm (and never bad),

With cookies, cakes, to name a few,

To savour. Smiling as we’d chew.

 

But, sadly, when our mom was out,

We had no treats to talk about,

And Bro and I were on our own,

Our snackless state we two’d bemoan.

 

 But soon we learned to seek and find,

We knew our mom would never mind,

His choice was sardines. In a can.

I’d shudder. Try a different plan.

 

Soft bread. I’d toast it just a bit,

Light brown was best, I do admit,

Then quickly, ‘fore it cooled (what dread!),

Some peanut butter, thickly spread.

 

It melted finely to my toast,

T’was just the way I liked it most,

And, to this day, I do recall

That first taste, best one of them all.

 

I love it still. Just yesterday,

Some peanut butter came my way,

Via bread and knife and jar,

Still my favourite snack by far.

 

But now I ask of all of you,

Given choice, what would you do?

A sardine tin (like my dear Bro),

Or peanut butter. How’d you go?

Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With gentle thoughts,
Perhaps a grin?
So JennyCharlotteMimi, me
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you’ve read what we have wrought…
Did we help?
Or did we not?
 

Next week, for fun (and not dismay),
We'll celebrate Be Nasty Day!




Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
Peanut Butter Day (March 1) TODAY!
Be Nasty Day (March 8)
Pi(e) Day (what else would it be?) (March 15)
World Poetry Day (March 22)
Something on a Stick Day (March 29)
Read a Road Map Day (April 5)
Favorite invention (From Mimi) (April 12)
National Garlic Day (April 19)
The ocean or beach (From Mimi) (April 26)
The best thing about spring (From Mimi) (May 3)


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Germ Warfare

You can almost see those germs...


Germs are a big thing right now.

When I was growing up, germs were something that lived in dog’s mouths.
Or cats.
Or any animals.
I was cautioned to avoid them.
Living on a ranch, that was a lot of avoiding.
It didn’t occur to me that there could be germs in someone else’s (human) mouth.
That paranoia didn’t show up until a few years later. When one of my friends wiped my germs off her pop bottle before she took a drink.
Hmmm.
On with my story . . .
Supper time.
That special moment in the day wherein everyone gathers at the table to enjoy a home-cooked meal.
And some great visiting.
Okay, well, that’s what happens in the Tolley household.
Notice I didn’t say a great home-cooked meal.
Because, let’s face it, some of my experiments fail to jell.
Ahem . . .
On this particular night, I had made something that passed the ‘yummy’ test.
But also crossed the ‘sloppy’ barrier.
Most of us did well.
Four-year-old granddaughter (or GD4 for short) didn’t fare as well.
And needed tidying.
Her mother licked her finger and swiped at the little girl’s cheek.
The rest of us thought nothing of it.
We were obviously wrong.
GD4 looked passively at her mother in the midst of her cleaning. “You know, Mom, you just got germs all over my face!”
Her mom stopped. “Oh.” She looked at me. “Oops.”
I should probably mention here that GD4’s face failed to fall off.
Or turn green.
But we had been informed.
Germs.
Coming from a four-year-old near you.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Equally Bad

 


Across the land, to one and all, the famine had a grip,

And rich and poor alike were in the famine’s membership,

And Widow Bette and teenaged son (named Jack, for all who care…)

Were skating rather closely to the edge of starved despair.

 

In desperation, Bette told Jack, “Take Emily...” (their cow)

“…and sell her.” (with the proceeds, they would get along somehow),

Obedient, the young man took the cow and started out,

Not knowing that the strangest tale was just about to ‘sprout’.

 

A stranger stopped the lad a mile or so along the way,

And asked him ‘whither, he was to’ on such a lovely day,

Jack indicated Emily and told him what was up,

And why Jack had embarked upon this personal ‘roundup’.


I’m sure you’ve heard the story: how our Jack endorsed the sale,

A cow for ‘magic’ beans. You know, a mistake of grandest scale.

How his disappointed mother threw those beans out on the lawn,

Then cried herself to sleep believing all her hope was gone.

 

You have to know those beans grew up. A stalk into the sky,

And Jack thought he'd explore (and have adventures by and by),

He climbed up to another land, where all folks were immense,

And there he pilfered lots of stuff--in situations tense.

 

That boy, he needed stealth, because you know, our little Jack

Was just the size and shape to be a giant’s midday snack,

It didn’t stop him stealing, though it kept him on the run,

Whene’er he heard the giant’s voice say, “Fee! Fie! Foe! And Fum!”

 

Then finally, he took the item Giant treasured most,

 (For evenings when relaxing or when parties he would host…)

A magic harp, the player of the sweetest music e’er,

Whose loss would surely fill our giant’s heart with deep despair!

 

The harp cried for his ‘Master!’ as Jack began to bear him hence,

It spurred our giant on to a more feverish defense,

He followed our young thief right down the beanstalk growing there,

And where the boy did lead, he neither thought about. Or cared.

 

But Jack was quick and reached the bottom. Turned and grabbed his axe,

Kept nearby for such things. (Now we've reached the tale's climax!)

When swinging frantically, he fin’ly chopped the stalk and all,

Not even mighty giants could survive that nasty fall.


Then Jack and Mom were happy as a family could be,

With all the stuff Jack stole they both could live quite comfortably,

Now I’ve heard theories claiming that the Giant stole them first,

The larger thief or small, opinions? Who d’you think was worst?!


Today is Fairy Tale Poetry Day!

Hop on over to my friend Karen to see what she posted!

You'll be happy you did...

Karen of Baking In A Tornado: The Moral is Morals


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Reflections


Husby and I were on a holiday on beautiful Vancouver Island.

Our son lives there and as often as we could, we’d go out to visit.
To...ummm...see our son.
Not to walk the beaches and watch the ever-changing ocean or hike the endless woodland trails and visit the centuries-old trees or take a boat and deep-sea fish or gorge on freshly-caught cod and hand-made fries at our favourite restaurant...
Which incidentally makes the best coconut-cream pie I’ve ever tasted.
Just FYI.
Where was I?
Oh, yeah. Island. Holiday.
Husby.
One night, we were returning with our son from a day of rambles.
Our car was following the twisting, turning road into beautiful Courtenay.
A last long curve.
A curve marked by a line of reflective poles.
That lit up brightly as our car lights caught them.
One. Then the next. Then the next.
Each going dark as we passed them.
Watching them, I remembered something . . .

I was four and traveling with my family.
Nose pressed against the glass because I had been looking at a book but it had grown too dark to see anything.
Oh, and also because seat belts hadn’t been invented yet.
Every so often, we would pass by some small posts that lit up as we approached.
It was magical.
First one.
Then another.
I stared at them long and hard.
How did they do that?
How did they know to light up just as we were passing?
I thought about it.
Then finally figured it out.
Somewhere inside, there were little people who waited until we approached.
Then lit them just for us.
It was very kind of them.
And I was sure to thank each one.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
Mom looked at me. “Who are you thanking?”
I pointed. “The little pole people.”
“Oh.”
She didn’t ask.
She was used to me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Tap-Toeing


Shoes hide.

They do.
Especially when there is something important that they need to be at.
School.
Church.
Movie night.
Going outside.
There are solutions.
Some of which are—creative—
Little sister was getting ready for Church.
She had been scrubbed shiny.
Groomed.
Dressed.
The only thing keeping her from heading out the door to the waiting car was a pair of Sunday shoes.
Oh, she could find her ratty every day sneakers.
Her manure-y boots.
Even her tall, black rain boots.
But nothing that resembled (or smelled) like it could be worn to church.
She had asked everyone.
Including—as a final act of desperation—Mom.
Who had responded with her patented: “I have no idea where I left them when I wore them last.”
In tears of despair, she sat down on the floor.
And that’s when she saw them.
The shiny tips of her black tap shoes.
Hmmm . . .
Not smelly.
Gleaming with care.
Definitely church-approved.
She grabbed them and put them on, jumped to her feet and headed for the door.
And that’s when their one drawback became apparent.
Remember when I said ‘tap’ shoes?
Well, that comes into play here.
In church generally, we are, for want of a better term, quiet.
And tap shoes...aren’t.
Let’s just say that Mom and Dad could keep track of everywhere she went.
And everything she did.
As could the rest of the congregation.
Yep. Creative solutions.
Sometimes more creative than solution.
But definitely memorable.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Looking At It

 


They had all been at their cousin’s birthday party.

It had been a much-anticipated opportunity for fun and games.
And had delivered on every level.
They had played in the pool.
Dashed through the sprinklers.
Had a water fight.
Screamed and laughed through several games.
Gorged on food and treats.
Sang and stuffed their faces with rich, gooey birthday cake and meltingly-creamy and delicious ice cream.
Tired, but entirely satisfied, they were lined up, ready to go home.
It was then they received the last perfect surprise to what had been a perfect day.
A large, loaded—identical—treat bag.
Brimming with anticipation, they dashed out to their car and their waiting Mama.
Submitted to the mundane but necessary process of seating and buckling.
Then, at last, the opening of that last hurrah.
That sweet, final cap on the day.
The icing on the cake, so to speak.
Sister dipped in her hand and emerged, holding a large, hand-frosted cookie.
“I got a flower!” she exclaimed.
Brother did the same.
Pulled out the same.
 “I got a flower, too!”
Little sister reaching eagerly into her bag of treats.
Grabbed her flower cookie by the other end and pulled it out and held it aloft excitedly.
“I got a squid!”
Life.
It’s all in how you look at it.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Dancing

I love poetry, I do!
The rhythm and the cadence, too. 
Like dancing, but with words. And find
It brings my poem-loving Dad to mind.
And something else, taught long ago,
Before this girl'd begun to grow.
At long last to our topic. See?
My favourite word that starts with 'D'!

Dancing!

When I was four, my dad adored, and followed him around,
The things he did (to this small kid) did fascinating sound.
From ‘doing chores’ and things outdoors, to office work. With pens.
Well, I’d appear, interest sincere, and lots of time to spend.

Our barn, it burned, all were concerned, that year that I turned four.
Soon things were bought and experts sought. A barn was built once more.
Then we ranch folk (in a masterstroke) with this new elbow room,
Thought we’d have fun, perhaps some sun would clear away the gloom.

We’d have a dance. Some wheel and prance were what was needed now.
Our neighbours, too, would gloom eschew, and our new barn endow.
We hired a band who took command, and music did ensue,
We ate and twirled and stomped and whirled from hello through adieu.

I don’t recall that much at all, I do remember this:
My dad was there, in shined footwear, and nothing was amiss.
He took my hands and had me stand upon those shiny toes,
Then slowly lead (my fears all fled), and love for Daddy rose.

The days have passed, the years amassed, I don’t remember much,
Though far I gaze, that’s day’s a haze, of people, stuff and such.
I know they had both good and bad, some happiness and woes.
One thing that’s best above the rest. I danced on Daddy’s toes.

Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With gentle thoughts,
Perhaps a grin?
So JennyCharlotteMimi, me
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you’ve read what we have wrought…
Did we help?
Or did we not?
 

Of course, it must be recognized,
Its flavour has us hypnotized,
So this next Mondy, you'd won't dread,
Cause on it PEANUT BUTTER's spread!




Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
Peanut Butter Day (March 1)
Be Nasty Day (March 8)
Pi(e) Day (what else would it be?) (March 15)
World Poetry Day (March 22)
Something on a Stick Day (March 29)
Read a Road Map Day (April 5)
Favorite invention (From Mimi) (April 12)
National Garlic Day (April 19)
The ocean or beach (From Mimi) (April 26)
The best thing about spring (From Mimi) (May 3)

Saturday, February 20, 2021

A Borrowed Hammer

 I love ancestor stories . . .

1854.
The Council House was being built in Manti, Utah, using volunteer labour.
And borrowed tools.
My Great Great Grandfather (hereinafter known at GGGrandfather) Jeremiah Stringam was one of those labourers.
With one of those borrowed tools.
In this instance, a hammer, lent to him by his friend, Augustus Dodge.
GGGrandfather, together with the rest of the crew, was busily laying flooring on the upper level of the mostly-finished building when the call came for lunch.
Setting the hammer down, he happily answered said call.
When he returned, he discovered that everyone had not left when he did, but had continued working.
And the entire floor had been finished.
In dismay, he looked over the beautiful job, knowing that, somewhere under those boards, was the hammer he had borrowed.
Yeah. I know. That happens to things I borrow, too.
Sigh.
Back to my story . . .
He found Augustus and told him his dilemma. He added, “If you’re around when that building is demolished, I guess you can claim your hammer.”
Moving ahead . . .
In 1910, fifty-plus years and a new century later, the Council House was scheduled for removal to make way for a spanking new library.
GGGrandfather, now an elderly man, heard the exciting announcement and went to observe the proceedings.
When the time came for the floor in the upper story to be removed, he was on hand to personally examine the space under every board as it was pulled up.
And finally, there it was.
Augustus Dodge’s borrowed hammer. Safe and sound.
There's a lesson in this.
Always return what you borrow.
Even it it's centuries later.
P.S. I wonder what the fine would be on that 'library book'?!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Washed. And Red

Noticed.

In Canada, we have SEASONS.

I emphasize the word because some of them are extreme.
Particularly our winter.
But during the shoulder seasons (Spring and Fall), it isn’t unusual to see four different kinds of weather in one day.
We can go from sun to rain to snow to hail. All during one lunch hour.
There is a saying: If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.
I have a reason for telling you this.
All this weather is hard on vehicles.
Those trusty steeds that must weather . . . the weather.
They get—for want of a better term—filthy.
Okay, yes, we have car washes.
A plethora (Ooh! Good word!) of them.
And, for the few minutes of every sunny day, they are CROWDED.
So one has to be ready and able to head to the nearest car wash at a moment’s notice.
People with children and schedules may wait months to get a place in line.
Enough background . . .
DIL had taken her family to the library so her kids could sled down the library hill with their father.
And, as the day was sunny, took the opportunity to get into line for the car wash.
Success!
She returned sometime later to pick up her breathless and weary, but exhilarated family.
She bundled up her smallest daughter and packed her to the car.
As they approached, her daughter asked, loudly, “Where is our car?”
Her mother pointed to the shiny red beauty in front of them. “Here it is.”
Her daughter looked at it, then at her mother. “Our car is red?!”
Yeah. Wash your cars.
You may be surprised at what you find...

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Way Past Speeding

I'm quite sure this flashed past.
And I do mean flashed.
We teenagers in Milk River lived an hour from the bright lights of Lethbridge.
Let me start again. 
Everybody in Milk River lived an hour from Lethbridge.
The teenagers . . . a little less.
Maybe I should explain . . .
It was Friday night.
The only theatre in Milk River was showing something that none of my group was interested in seeing.
It happened occasionally. 
Now that we were old enough to legally drive, we were becoming less and less enamoured with what our small town offered and more and more interested in what we could find in the big city.
Twice as many choices for movie-watching, for example.
The only problem on this particular evening was our timing.
We had decided, en masse, that the movie we were all assembled to see was far less interesting than one of the choices currently running in Lethbridge.
And we had decided this while we were standing on the sidewalk, waiting to get in.
Half an hour before either movie was set to start.
Could we make it?
Our driver of the evening gave a nonchalant shrug of the shoulder and a flippant toss of the head. “Of course!”
That was all we needed.
We, ten of us, piled – and I do mean piled – into his car. Four in front. Six in back.
Seatbelts hadn’t been invented yet.
And we were off.
We cleared the town limits, then our driver ‘buried the needle’.
And that’s when the reality of the situation hit me.
What we were doing went beyond speeding.
I’m quite sure we were flying.
At one point, I think I glimpsed Saturn.
I should probably point out, here, that I don’t like traveling at high speeds. In fact, horse and cart is my usual form of transportation. And let’s face it, Old Bessy really wouldn’t make much of a showing on the Indianapolis circuit.
Back to my story . . .
I was so terrified that I spent the entire trip flat on my stomach on the back floor under everyone’s feet. It was the safest place I could think of.
Once I poked my head above the seat and stared in awe at the needle. 
Which was flat against the little pike at the bottom of the speedometer.
How do you say ‘yikes’?
Oh, right. 
Yikes.
We made it safely.
In twenty-four minutes.
The only casualty was my equilibrium.
I don’t even remember what the movie was.
Can anyone say ‘irony’? We took our lives in our hands for a movie that none of us can even remember. The very essence of being a teenager.
But if any of my grandkids try this . . .

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Sweet Ride to Morningtown

Have you ever felt that if your life winked out tomorrow that would be all right with you?
Because you know that you would be remembered?
Well, that just happened to me.
To understand how I’ve arrived at this conclusion, you have to know this:
That our family has its ROUTINES when it comes to bedtime.
Set in stone.
Don’t mess with this.
There will be cosmic significance.
Routines.
Allow me to describe said ROUTINE . . .
There are several steps beginning with the Bath and the all-important choosing and donning of the PJs. Then the nearly as important bedtime snack (or three) followed by the brushing-of-the-biters. (Probably the least favourite part of the whole getting-ready-for-bed routine.) Once the teeth are shiny, we have prayers, story reading and lights out.
Then the song.
The culmination of the whole sequence.
This song, like the story and prayer, can vary, depending on the mood of the child.
It just doesn’t.
For this part, you need a bit of background . . .
When our oldest grandchild was two, she had her first sleep-over with Gramma and Grampa. Gramma sang Gramma’s favourite ‘sleepy’ song, Morningtown Ride.
And, unwittingly created a legacy.
Now every grandchild, whether going to sleep at Gramma’s or at home, has to have Morningtown Ride sung.
At least once.
How do I know this?
During a holiday, our DIL, Barb, was putting her two youngest chicklets to bed.
And suddenly, from their bedroom came the familiar words Train whistle blowing . . .
Later, DIL explained that every one of her children—and their cousins—have to have that song sung every night.
It was truly brought home during a ‘cousin’s sleepover’ (pre Covid). Gramma was putting all the younger girls, and one boy, ages 6 to 10) to bed. When it was time for the culminating song, the unanimous choice was (you guessed it) Morningtown Ride. When Gramma started to sing, six little voices joined in. (And then carried on alone because Gramma was crying.) 
Yep. Gramma could die tomorrow.
And she’d be remembered.
Wanna hear the song?  Morningtown Ride

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Muffet Conundrum


First of all, a little background...
Little Miss Muffet, Sat on a tuffet, Eating her curds and whey, Along came a spider, And sat down beside her, And frightened Miss Muffet away. Just FYI, I can’t claim this little ditty…

 But I’ve always loved it. And you know why? Because that little girl could have been me. Yep. I love cottage cheese. And hate spiders. Both of which feature rather strongly in this sweet little tale of gluttony and cowardice.

Let’s look into the story, shall we? Examine it with just a little more depth? Because don’t you just love to lift the skirts and get to the petticoats of a story? Hmmm…maybe that’s an unfortunate way to put it.

Miss Muffet, (We’ll call her Agnes, shall we?) was a happy, cheerful little girl. Full of hopes and dreams. Perhaps just a bit more of the latter than was practical, but, let’s face it, she was only just past six.

Her days were spent either in her pretty little bedroom, playing with her numerous toys or in the garden, having Adventures. (Notice the capital ‘A’ in adventures? That’s cause they were Amazing!) There, she was limited only by her imagination.

Oh, and by spiders. Well, most bugs. But especially spiders. Because they had so many spiky, hairy legs. And were just so…crawly. With a knack for showing up at awkward and unexpected moments. And in the wrong (ie: close) proximity.

One fine day, Agnes was playing with her puppy, Dribble (named by her normally placid father following a rather unfortunate episode involving a too small puppy bladder and Papa’s bedroom carpet), or ‘The-Right-Honorable-Poopsie-the-Third’ as he was in this story.

The two of them had just conquered ‘Mount Olympus’ (Agnes’ nanny had been reading to her from the Big Book of Greek Myths. That Hercules. Am I right? Yow.) and were in the process of much celebratory eating and drinking.

Okay, yes, in the myths, said eating and drinking included such things as wine. And wine poured over roasted meats. Definitely some wine-soaked bread. And cheese. Agnes was six. From that menu, her choices were extensively limited. Ummm…yeah.

Sooo…cheese. In this story, like Agnes, said cheese was in its infancy, before all the sweet stuff has been squeezed out and the whole lot aged. (ie: grown up). In modern terms, cheese from the farmer’s own kitchen. Or…cottage.

Agnes loved it. In fact, most mornings/afternoons/evenings, one could find Miss Agnes seated on her favourite low stool (or tuffet for those who don’t have access to Wikipedia) with a tasty little bowl of the stuff. And a spoon.

Many a triumph had been celebrated to its creamy, clarion call. Many a defeat drowned. Many an Adventure summarily interrupted. And always, the sweet rapture of that first delectable taste. The soft, melting curd. The salty tang of the whey.

Agnes had just seated herself prettily on her tuffet—heels and knees together. Head up, spine straight and shoulders back (This was the 1800’s after all) and received her little bowl of tasty, delicious-ness. Wasting no time, she tucked in.

And that’s when Dribble started to whine. Now, at first, Agnes assumed (not surprisingly), that what had pressed her little dog into vocalizing was that innate ‘doggins’ desire: food. In fact, Agnes' instinctive, effective, corrective spoon had already been raised.

Then Agnes realized Dribble’s sharp brown eyes were not—as per usual—trained on his mistress’ treat. Rather, they were watching something…beside her. Now I don’t know about you, but when someone is alarmed about something ‘beside’ me, I...react.

Agnes lowered her spoon and slowly turned to see what it was Dribble was so doggily concerned about. She sucked in a breath. A spider. Making its spiky, hairy-legged way across the tuffet in her direction. Panic was decidedly indicated.

Now you may picture an elegant departure from said tuffet, heels and knees together and spine straight. Myself, I’m going with a bowl shooting straight into the air, skirts and petticoats flying as a screaming little girl disappears somewhere spider-less.

Little Miss Muffet may have lived in the 1800’s, but I’m a modern 2021girl. And BTW, what’s with those skirts and petticoats? I think I’ll picture her in dusty jeans and slightly muddy boots and with a spunky, can-do attitude.

In fact, I think I’ll stick with my Daddy’s version of the story: Little Miss Muffet, Sat on a tuffet, Eating her curds and whey, Along came a spider, And sat down beside her...So she squashed it with her spoon.

Ha!

                 

'Word Counters' is a totally fun once-a-month challenge featuring a specific number of words. No more. No less.

This month’s number was: 40

Chosen by our intrepid leader, Karen of Baking In A Tornado

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