Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, November 25, 2011

From my Husby's desk

From my Husby!
Just because I thought it was funny . . .
On vacation . . .

Subject: Scam warning! Home Depot
A 'heads up' for those men who may be regular Home Depot customers. This one caught me by surprise.

Over the last month I became a victim of a clever scam while out shopping. Simply going out to get supplies has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don't be naive enough to think it couldn't happen to you or your friends.

Here's how the scam works: Two seriously good-looking 20-21 year-old girls come over to your car as you are packing your shopping into the trunk. They both start wiping your windshield with a rag and Windex, with their breasts almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts. It is impossible not to look. When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say 'No' and instead ask you for a ride to McDonalds. You agree and they get in the backseat. On the way, one of them climbs over into the front seat and starts hugging and kissing you, while the other one steals your wallet.

I had my wallet stolen May 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, & 24th, 29th. Also June 1st, 4th, twice on the 8th, three times last Saturday and very likely again this upcoming weekend.

So tell your friends to be careful.

P.S. Walmart has wallets on sale $2.99 each.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pesky Tonsils!


My second oldest grandson just had his tonsils out.
Poor little guy.
But they were so huge that they made it difficult for him to swallow and were constantly getting infected.
There were perks.
For a week, he got to live on freezies and fruit pops and jello and things cold and wet.
He is feeling much better now.
And able to swallow, perhaps for the first time in his life.
Bless modern medicine.
It was day surgery. In and out.
The whole experience reminded me of my older brother, George.
Who had the same problem, fifty years ago.
Are we seeing a pattern, here?
George had a big appetite.
And a small throat.
He would chew and chew and chew on a piece of tender, wonderful roast beef.
Chew and chew and chew.
Then, finally, give up in despair and sit there, morosely, with a lump of meat in his mouth that he simply couldn't swallow.
My Dad took pity on him and told him to spit his mouthful into Dad's hand.
Which he did.
And which my Dad then disposed of.
Umm. Ick.
Then George would happily move on to the potatoes and gravy.
For a couple of years, the same scenario was played out at the Stringam dinner table.
George starting out with things chewy and delicious.
Then moving on to things mushy and easier to swallow.
Finally, it became so common that Dad didn't even get the chance to offer to help.
George would chew and chew and chew, then reach for Dad's hand and spit his mouthful into it.
Often without Dad realizing it.
Until it had happened.
Sort of hard to ignore then . . .
When he did it at a restaurant, my parents decided that something had to be done.
Diagnosis: large tonsils.
Solution: Removal.
Back then, though the operation was common, it meant several day's stay at the local hospital.
But with lots and lots of ice cream and jello.
Modern medicine has come so far.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Bare Blue Stringam

Both of my parents served in the 4-H calf club in our community.
This duty included attendance at the club's annual summer retreat.
I know you are wondering what this has to do with nicknames, but wait for it . . .
Because both of my parents were going on the trip, all of their children had to come along.
My brother, Blair, was three.
A happy, friendly little boy.
Who didn't always spit out his words clearly.
One young man, a member of the club, asked the smiling little towhead his name.
"Blair Lewis Stringam."
"Blair Lewis Stringam."
Admittedly, it came out sounding something like 'Blairloostringam'.
But I digress . . .
"Bare Blue Stringam?"
"No! Blair Lewis Stringam."
"Okay. Bare Blue Stringam."
And just like that, he had a nickname.
It's that easy.
My Grampa, George Stringam had a younger brother who couldn't pronounce Grampa's name clearly.
It came out "Dard."
Thus, his nickname. Dard.
Which my brother, George, inherited the moment he was born.
My daughter, Tiana, was learning to spell her name.
She wrote the letters 'T', 'I' and 'N' properly. But her 'A's' had the lines on the wrong sides, thus disguising them as 'B's'.
Her second oldest brother, Erik was looking at a sheet of paper she had been practicing on.
"Who's Tibnb?" he asked.
A name we call her to this day.
I, myself have been through several incarnations of my name as told here.
What are the nicknames in your life?
I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Break Time!

Mischief-maker extraordinaire!

Halloween was a time of hijinks and high-spirited fun in Milk River in the 60s.
Much like it was everywhere.
My brother's stories always surpassed anything my friends and I could dream up, however.
Our lone constable tried hard to keep order in his town.
By different techniques . . .
1. Keeping a strong presence.
Rather hard when you are the only cop in a town full of 'hooligans'.
His word, not mine . . .
And the kids know that as soon as you've driven past, you can't see them.
2. Locking everything up.
Also only effective if one actually . . . locks . . .
But I am getting ahead of myself.
One group were especially rowdy.
My eldest brother's group.
Oh, they didn't do actual damage, unless you count the time they burned down a rickety old shed and, along with it, the power lines to the entire town.
But that is another story.
They just had fun.
One Halloween, our intrepid, lone policeman decided that the best defense was a good offence.
And the best way to do that was to round up the troublemakers before they actually . . . made . . . trouble.
Which he did.
My brother and his friends were escorted, under protest, to the local jail and locked into one of the cells.
Throughout the evening, many more were brought in.
The cell was getting crowded.
Our policeman was quite proud of himself.
He had single-handedly stopped the mischief in our town.
What he hadn't considered was the imagination and daring of this particular group of young men.
And the security of his police station.
With its back door that was never locked.
Something that all of the kids in town knew.
Partway through the evening, two of the mayor's sons sneaked in by that door and gave the 'prisoners' a file.
An actual file.
I am not making this up.
Then they left.
The boys locked in the cell immediately went to work and, in short order, filed through one of the bars.
One by one, they sneaked through the opening and out the back door.
One of them, however, refused to leave.
He wanted to see the face of the constable when he discovered the empty cell.
He got his wish.
The constable came in to perform a routine check.
He found, not a sound cell full of potential law-breakers; but instead, a cell minus one bar and most of his prisoners.
Consternation warred with chagrin in his expressive face. (Ooh! Good sentence!)
The lone young man was laying back on a bunk, both hands behind his head.
He sat up. "Sir! There's been a jail-break!"
And you thought Milk River was a sleepy little town!

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Coat! Oh, and Christmas Tree . . .

Clockwise from right: Aly (Hired man's son),
Anita, Blair, and Me - in my little gold beauty.

It wasn't often that we kids were able to go on a field trip with my Dad.
When it happened, we were eager.
When it happened at Christmas, we were beyond excited.
That's all of the 'E' words I can think of.
Except that 'energetic' should be stuck in there somewhere.
And, for me, usually immediately followed by, "Empty all tanks!"
When I think about it, I guess it's not surprising that we didn't go on field trips with my Dad very often.
Back to my story . . .
Dad was taking us four oldest kids to the Sweetgrass Hills to cut down our family's Christmas tree.
It was the 50's.
Families did things like that back then.
But we had to make a quick stop in Milk River at the Robinson's store to get me a winter coat.
I had outgrown my old one and Dad wasn't excited about trailing me through the forest wrapped in my blanket.
Go figure.
So the excitement level for this trip had just been dialed way up.
In fact, I was so elated, that Dad didn't even wait for the 'announcement' (see above), but sat me in the car with a bucket already in my lap.
Smart man.
We made the 20 miles to Milk River without incident. (see above . . . again.)
And entered the store.
I should explain here that the Robinson's Store was the only shop in Milk River that featured clothing.
There were neat piles of everything wearable.
And the wood plank floors creaked delightfully.
And if you were really lucky, you got to watch Theo Barrows gift wrap packages at her counter in the middle of the store.
The curling of the ribbons was especially fascinating.
Where was I  . . .?
Oh, yes.
New coat.
Dad asked the manager where we could find coats in my size and was conducted, with me tagging eagerly behind, to a rack at one side of the store.
My eyes were immediately drawn to a gold, furry, wonderful garment.
I reached out a hand and brushed the soft fur.
"This one, Daddy! This one!"
"Okay, we'll try this one," Dad said.
I dropped my blanket and slipped my arms into the sleeves.
"I guess we'll take it," Dad said.
Good thing, too, because there was no way they were ever going to pry me out of that coat.
Dad paid and we trooped back out to the car.
The other kids excited now to get to the real reason for this trip.
Me brushing and brushing the soft fur on my arms and chest.
We had fun finding the tree.
I think.
We did end up with one.
I really don't remember much about it.
Me and my coat were happy, sitting in the car together.
And watching through the windshield.
Because, after all - one couldn't wear one's new coat out into nature!
What if it got soiled?
Blair (in my now-outgrown coat), and Anita
The original recycling program
Dad later said something about 'waste of time and money'.
But who listened?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saved for Greater Things

Tristan and his wife, Jess.

When we were teenagers, my husby and I got involved in theatre.
And stayed involved.
This year marks 42 years for me.
And slightly more for him.
I know, I know. Do the math.
That makes us both . . . old.
But we love it.
We raised our children on the stage.
All six.
Our most recent production, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers closed last night.
To a standing ovation.
Our youngest son, Tristan was singing the role of Adam.
And as I watched him, I couldn't help but remember his first time on stage, at the age of 5.
We weren't sure if he would remember lines, so we made him a mute.
Big mistake.
He hasn't stopped talking since.
Then I thought about all of the roles he has had in his short lifetime.
And other experiences he has had on the stage.
Let me tell you about one.
We were setting up the stage for a production of “I Hate Hamlet”.
Look it up. It's funny.
We were trying different configurations with our set pieces.
One piece, a double glass door in it's own frame, was built by a home builder.
He hadn't understood that set pieces were supposed to drag around easily.
And be . . . light.
He had built it according to building code requirements.
So . . . definitely not light.
We had stood it up and were discussing where it should go in the grand scheme of things.
My son, Tristan was sitting innocently in a chair on stage, waiting for his parents to finish moving furniture around.
We stepped away from the door, intent on another piece of scenery.
And that's when it tipped.
The door, I mean.
Towards my son.
It was one of those things that you could see happening.
But were powerless to stop.
For a moment, time slowed to a crawl.
The door dropped.
And smacked the back of our son's chair off.
A large, heavy, wooden chair.
Broke the back right off.
Our son turned and looked.
The door had missed him by a whisker.
I watched him singing last night.
And thought about that wall falling towards him so many years ago.
Obviously preserved for greater things.

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