Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Bubbles of World Peace

I spent part of my Sunday helping in the Nursery at our church.
It was an experience.
Twenty little kids, ages 1 ½ to 3 years.
What do you call a group of toddlers?
A Tantrum of Toddlers?
A Teeter?
Tumble?
Toddle?
It would be worth exploring.
I know what you call a group of parents/grandparents who have spent two hours with the little cretins. A Tired.
But I digress . . .
This little group of boys and girls had been playing happily.
Reading books. (I use this term lightly.)
Running.
Playing with puzzles. (Again used lightly.)
Running.
Throwing balls and other toys at each other.
Running.
‘Cooking’ such gourmet specialties as . . . trucks. Shoes. At least one book. And two of the puzzle pieces we had been hunting for for over twenty minutes.
Playing with dollies.
Fighting/tug-o-warring with said dollies.
Crying when dollies were put away in a safe place and other toys introduced.
Running.
Falling off the slide.
Devouring snacks.
Devouring their neighbour’s snacks.
Running.
Before you think any of them were in any real danger, let me disabuse you.
No one was in any real danger.
There were few tears (mostly at losing their tug-o-war prop) and no injuries.
But I discovered something.
See?
When a group of toddlers is running madly and the room is started to resemble the streets of Edmonton after the Stanley Cup, all one has to do is turn on the bubble machine.
It’s true. I watched it happen.
The bubbles instantly attracted (and held) the entire group of toddlers.
They (the bubbles, I mean) floated gently into the air and every child in the room stopped what they were doing and exclaimed, as one, “Oooooh!” Then they ran to the blanket/blotter beside the machine and jumped and hopped, trying to catch the little, dripping, glistening balls of wonder and amazement.
It was incredible. Magical.
Quiet.
I’m getting a machine like that!
P.S. I wonder if this would work on the mobs that form after sporting events or political rallies? It's worth thinking about . . . 
Who's with me?!

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Why of Buying

She was pregnant.
Newly so, and more than a bit excited by the prospect. 
Necessity had driven her to the mall. 
Preparations to begin.
New clothes to buy.
She visited shop after shop but nothing drew her.
Tried on shirts and smocks and pants and dresses.
All were cute and appealing.
But none appealed.
The only thing that caught her eye in the entire, rather wasted experience, was a little stuffed puppy.
She held it and looked at it and snorted softly.
Well, maybe this new baby she was carrying would like it.
In about a year.
She bought it and stuffed it into her bag and forgot about it.
A few days later, a worried husband brought her to the hospital. Violently ill for the past couple of days, he ignored her protests that ‘it was just the pregnancy’ or ‘just a touch of the flu’ and hustled her into the waiting car and off to seek medical attention.
Seated a short time later in the facetiously-named ‘waiting’ room of the above-mentioned hospital, she tried to relax and await her name being called by a clipboard-toting official.
She looked around at her fellow awaitees.
A small boy across the room caught her attention.
With no obvious parental companions, he was being cared for by the nurses on the shift.
And not very happy about it.
The boy. Not the nurses.
She got up and moved closer.
Apparently this little guy had been, with his parents, involved in a car accident.
He had checked out.
And was now waiting for them to do so as well. (They were both fine, as it turned out. But it took a while to determine that.)
In the meantime, a small boy needed distracting.
She suddenly remembered the little puppy tucked away in her bag.
She produced it.
And was rewarded by the instant light in the child’s eyes.
He clutched it and smiled.
The games the nurses were playing took on new interest as they included his new toy.
Puppy could hide in the most fun spots.
Including the vacuum tube that normally transported documents between floors.
Puppy could go in. And up with a ‘thoomp’.
And come back down again with a ‘boof’.
Oh, the giggles.
He was still happily engaged when her name was finally called.
And he and his family had left when she reappeared.
But she realized why she had needed to buy the little puppy.
It was not for her child.
It was for someone else’s

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Let Them Eat Ice Cream

Our family believes in good nutrition.

We do.
It just doesn’t always sound like it . . .
My son and DIL were entertaining.
Dinner was winding down and dessert was being distributed.
Yummy dessert.
With ice cream.
Now, I should probably mention here that their kids are known vegetable/fruit eaters.
Oh, they like other things. It’s just that, if given the choice, they have been known to go for the ‘healthy’ alternative.
But I digress . . .
Their mother had made buttered, dill carrots as one of the vegetable dishes with dinner. A noted family favourite.
Eight-year-old Daughter Number Two, hereinafter known as D2, was agitating for a third helping.
A third helping. 
"Please, please, please?"
“No,” her mother said. “Your sister hasn’t had seconds yet. I’m not giving you thirds until she has had a chance.”
Still D2 continued. "Mo-om!"
“No!” her mother said. “Not until everyone has had seconds.”
More coaxing. "Please, Mom?"
“No! Stop asking!”
D2 is nothing, if not persistent. “Pleeease?”
“Argh!” (real word) “You’re not having more Carrots!”
“But Mom . . .!”
“NO MORE CARROTS! EAT YOUR ICE CREAM!”
Hmm . . . okay . . . not something you hear every day . . .
Sooo . . . which would you choose?


I know what MY choice would be...

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Whistle You to Work

Father-In Law was an amazingly patient man.
Kind. Loving.
He was always so.
These qualities were especially apparent during one experience shortly after he and Mother-in-Law were married. . .
The two of them had settled in a former granary on FIL’s Mother’s farm.
Now Great-Grandma was an ‘in-charge’ sort of person.
And she happily took charge of this new little family.
Very early every morning, she would appear at the side door of her house, walking in the direction of her son’s little home.
Did she softly call to make sure the young couple was ‘up-and-at-em’?
Nope.
She blew a whistle.
A loud whistle.
Now I’ve heard of some annoying alarm clocks in my time.
Certainly I’ve chucked a few because they were too . . . erm . . . efficient.
But how do you stop a mother/mother-in-law? Okay, yes, there are probably times when you wouldn’t mind a more forceful resolution, but let’s be practical.
People would notice a M/MIL (see above) if they’d been set out with the trash for pick-up.
Am I right?
So back to the whistle . . .
FIL found a unique solution.
He swiped that whistle in an unguarded moment.
And tossed it into the flour bin.
The one that was full of flour.
That flour bin.
For weeks, Great Grandma searched for that whistle.
But came up whistle-less. So to speak.
Then one morning, fairly early, the shrill single tone was again heard.
“Oops,” FIL said. “Looks like Mother needs her flour bin filled.”
Yeah. That probably wouldn’t have been my reaction.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Winter Get-Away

Holidaying always looks great. Relaxing and perfect. When one is anticipating. Let’s just say it’s not always so good when one is experiencing.

Always remember to pack essentials in your little carry-on. You never know where your luggage will vacation. Often it’s not where you are.

When renting a car, make sure it’s not to a company who’s waiting to pick you up on Martinique. When you’re on Guadeloupe.

B&B photos aren’t always accurate. Ditto for reviews. And if it looks like a ‘renovation’ instead of a ‘vacation’, head for the hills.

When your Landlady promises every day for twenty days that you will have wifi ... tomorrow, it’s really okay to not believe her.

You don’t have to stay home from your day at the beach to let workmen in. They aren’t going to show up anyway.

Actually that’s not true. They will show up. Right at suppertime. And stay till midnight. The noisier the tools—the later they stay.

One working toilet for eight people in the corner of one of the bedrooms can suffice. It just takes a lot of cooperation.

A brand new bathroom (and toilet) following a week of noise and confusion and workmen at all times is definitely worth it. Almost. 

One other important thing, though, is a door on that new bathroom. People get skittish when whatever they are doing is public knowledge.

Just because supposedly competent workmen have been properly engaged, it doesn’t follow that said workmen will install new windows in the right holes.

One can do without hot water in the kitchen. As long as there is plenty of it in the working bathroom. True story.

You can think of a million and one dishes you want to make in the oven—when you don’t have one that works.

Remember to watch out for the exposed wires that are supposed to make said (non-operational) oven work. They can really pack a wallop.

Bright and shiny. Like something out of a modern kitchen. Just because a toaster is top-of-the-line, it doesn’t follow that it will actually…toast.

Always keep a thick, absorbent mat on the floor in front of all the sinks. So the water will have someplace to go.

The Landlady’s idea of a beautiful swimming pool, and yours, are probably poles apart. Nine feet of mud isn’t nine feet of water.

Back-hoes in your front yard, adding to the mountain of dirt that is NOT your swimming pool, do not make for relaxing days.

Buying tools and effecting repairs yourself is totally acceptable. And may save your precious sanity. Just don’t expect a reduction in the rent.

When a foreman says he will come back and build you a front step, believe him. A pallet can be a front step.

Sometimes desperate tourists are the popular fathers of invention. Walkways made out of pilfered shipping crates will be appreciated by the whole neighbourhood!

It’s quite all right for your washer to discharge down the outer house wall. It’s also fine to use it as a shower.

Just because a baguette is warm, it doesn’t follow that it’s fresh. OR ant-free. Please be careful when choosing your boulangerie!

Don’t worry. We’re fine. Enjoying the sun, fun and  beaches in beautiful Guadeloupe. At least they work!

Word Counters is another of Karen’s word challenges. Each of us participants is given a number submitted by one of our fellows. It is this number we use to craft . . . whatever we want.
It’s totally fun!
My number this month was 23 and given to me by Mimi of Messymimi. Thank you, my friend. This was so much fun!
And fairly therapeutic…

You’ve read mine. Now go and see what the others have created!

Baking In A Tornado          

Monday, January 20, 2020

Connected

It starts when first we come to earth,
A tiny human, at our birth,
That first connection to our Mom,
Then add our Dad, we’ll love him some,
And on to siblings, if they’re there,
Who for (of course) we sometimes care,
Then grandparents, yes, one or two,
And uncles, aunts and cousins, too,
At church, our brothers, sisters, friends,
Wow! These connections never end!
Our circle in our neighbourhood,
Who could be either bad or good,
Our teachers and our chums at school,
As we all learn the Golden Rule,
The roommates when we all ‘move out’,
(When dates are all we  talk about),
Then, college done, and off to work,
Where some are nice and some are jerks,
Those who share our daily grind,
Some kept and others left behind,
Then our own families that we start,
The spouses, kids who take our hearts,
And pets and Mother Earth, you bet,
Then Holy Smoke! the internet,
Countless connections bad or fun . . .
To think it started with just one.

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 all of us, together, we,
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you’ve read what we have wrought . . .
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Jenny
Mimi
Mother Owl
Merry Mae

Next week, it’s Jenny’s turn to say
What our topic is that day.
Stay tuned. For sure it will be fun,
Not just for us. . . For everyone!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Nosedive

The house had been quiet.
Too quiet.
I’ve always wanted to say that.
But, of course . . . Sally.
Sally was off making another movie. And, because she was still only 16, Mom had gone with her as her chaperone to ensure things like . . . School.
Sleep.
Proper diet.
Lack of criminal charges.
You know, the things that mother’s normally do at home.
Well, at least mothers of daughters named Sally.
I was keeping the home fires burning. So to speak . . .
When our biggest ‘supposedly problem-free’ printer suffered chills and fever at work, the boss had sent everyone home early, so to celebrate, I picked up a frozen pizza to heat at home while I binge-watched the rest of Good Omens.
That David Tennant, who's with me?
Pretty quiet, mundane night, right?
Dinner. Movie.
No house falling about one’s ears.
No flashing lights and sirens.
Heaven.
I popped the pizza in the oven and sat down to catch the evening news while it heated.
And you have to know whose face was on the screen the moment it flashed into being.
Yep. Sally’s.
I closed my eyes for moment, then opened them.
Just to be sure. I do see her face a lot in my imagination . . .
Nope. It was still Sally.
Sigh.
I pointed the remote and hit the volume button.
“I’ve seen the video three times myself and still can’t quite process what I’m seeing!” an announcer was saying excitedly. “If you’ve just tuned in, there was trouble on what should have been a normal day of shooting for hot, young director, Jamie Lassiter’s newest film, Nosedive. Let us show it for you again . . .”
The scene switched to a clear view of a helicopter rising up from a rather rocky beach.
An Andean-blue lake was in the background and a clear, red sun just rising over the green canopy.
When the helicopter was a hundred feet or so in the air, a person appeared, slipping out of one of the open side doors. A small person. Child-sized. In a heartbeat, they were dangling from one of the struts of the undercarriage.
Something you see a lot.
On a James Bond film.
Even as I watched, they lost their grip on the strut and started to fall. I instinctively measured the distance between them and the rocks below. 
It wasn’t good.
At that moment, another person appeared, making a forward dive from the same doorway.
I knew in an instant who that second person was. But wasn’t Sally filming a story about a school teacher in the jungle somewhere?
What the heck?!
The second figure tucked in arms and legs and shot like a bullet toward the first, catching them and continuing along the same trajectory toward the nearby lake.
Just before they hit, It looked as though the larger figure managed to actually lift up and skim the tops of the waves for a bit. Super hero style.
Then they made a mighty splash.
As boats and men poured out from the beach, two heads could be seen, bobbing in the blue water.
One waved and I was sure I could see white teeth as Sally gave a trademark ‘Sally’ smile.
The announcer returned. “Have you ever seen anything like it?! Following what should have been a catastrophic safety-harness malfunction, stunt double, Sally Larson managed to pluck nine-year-old co-star, Virginia Noble out of the sky and carry both of them to safely.
Little Miss Noble, whom you may remember from her Oscar-nominated turn as Charly from the movie, Charly-Girl, has been sent by ambulance to a near-by hospital. For observation.
But the heroine, after being pulled from the lake, merely saluted the medical staff and headed for the showers. And a hearty meal.”
A final shot of Sally, nose deep in a plate of spaghetti, shovelling up the food like it was her last meal on earth.
I shut the TV off and simply sat there, all thought of David Tennant gone right out of my head.
Sally a hero?
Sally world famous?
How would we all survive?

Each month, Karen at Baking in a Tornado, or KarentheAwesome as we prefer to call her, issues a challenge. 
And words.
Each of us uses these words to craft something . . . crafty.
My words this month came to me, via Karen from my wonderful friend, Minette at Southern Belle Charm.
Thank you so much, Minette!

I have several other friends who take the challenge!
Go for a visit.
You’ll be glad you did!
Here are links to all the other Use Your Words posts

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Light in the Darkness

The darkness doesn’t bother me at all,
Cause Christmas lights all go up in the Fall,
And drive away the darkness that has crept
Upon us in such tiny increments.

But after Christmas, darkness gets me down,
As decorations leave all over town,
Allowing night that has been held at bay,
To creep upon us, shortening each day.

So Husby, he of brain and heft and might,
He takes me with him when he seeks the light,
And for the very darkest part of year,
He somehow finds a place of sun and cheer.

So now I’m reading tales of cold and woe,
My children tell of shovelling the snow,
Sooo . . . Apologies to all of you, my troop,
But I’m sitting in the sun in Guadeloupe!


Each month our Karen challenges us,
To craft a po-em without muss or fuss.
So happily, we all put pen to page,
Trying to create a new ad-age!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Leaping

Each four years, we get special day,
To use to go to work, or rest, or play,
The twenty-ninth of February dawns,
Aaand . . . we greet it with our normal blinks and yawns.

My brother’s friend was born upon that day,
Couldn’t celebrate each year, needless to say,
But on her day, her friends, a fuss did make,
Her sixteenth. With four candles on her cake!

My brother and his wife chose Leap Year, then,
Decided then to marry way back when,
So now I know that Leap Year is upon,
By looking at the years through which they’ve gone.

But leap year’s most especial now to me,
And had been for a lot of years. You see
It was during leap year Husby and I wed,
Started sharing everything from ‘eh’ to ‘zed’.

I know it is just one day in each year four,
But I understand much better than before...
There’s other days each year that higher rate,
But for a whole year this we celebrate!

Cause Monday’s do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thoughts,
Perhaps a grin?
So all of us together, we
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, and it will be perfection,
We’ll talk all our vast connections.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Best

The Christmas holidays are wonderful.
For so many reasons.
One of the best for me is that my middle son, Duff, decamps from his bolthole in warm, beautiful, sea-surrounded Courtenay, BC and flies over the mountains to visit us in snowy, land-locked Edmonton, Alberta.
For two precious weeks, we get to visit and play ‘catch-up’.
I love his stories.
This is his most precious...

Middle son’s fondest wish was to be a Dad.
For a short, wonderful while, he was.
To a sweet little five-year old girl whose mother he was dating.
This is his fondest memory…

Duffy was sitting on the couch—feet up on the coffee table, happily absorbed in a video game.
His daughter was snuggled close, watching him and providing a running commentary.
Nature called.
He got up to answer it.
When he came back, his little girl was ‘hidden’.
She had inserted her small self between the rear of the couch and the couch cushions.
In his spot.
Muffled giggles could be heard.
Middle Son wondered aloud, “Well I wonder where Kit could be? I don’t see her anywhere!”
More giggles.
He sat down. “My, this is one lumpy couch. I don’t remember it being this lumpy!”
He wriggled his back against the cushions.
More giggles.
“Oh, well. I guess I’ll just have to live with it.” More wriggling.
And giggling.
Finally a small face appeared. “Dad!”
“Oh, there you are, Kit. I thought I just had a lumpy couch. Hey! You’re in my spot!”
Pure giggles as only a five-year-old-whose-gotten-away-with-something can produce.
It’s a small memory.
Like the little girl who gave it to him.
But most precious.

Third in the series

Third in the series
Deborah. Fugitive of Faith

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael
A House Divided is now available at all fine bookstores and on Amazon.com and .ca!

Daughter of Ishmael

Daughter of Ishmael
Now available at Amazon.com and .ca and Chapters.ca and other fine bookstores.

Romance still wins!

Romance still wins!
First romance in a decade!

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