Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Blinking Family

Don't blink!

Way, way too scary . . .
For the past few days, we have been visiting with our daughter and son-in-law.
We've had a wonderful time.
Making puzzles.
Playing games.
And they have introduced us to the TV show, Dr. Who.
Yes I know that most of you will have seen this program.
I know I had certainly heard of it.
But I had never actually sat down and watched it.
Our daughter chose, for our first experience, an episode called, “Blink”.
A story of statues that come to life when you aren't looking at them.
And do terrible things to you.
It was, in a word, scary.
Truly frightening.
Chilling enough that I watched the entire thing snuggled close to my Husby.
And holding his hand.
Okay, so . . . brave, I'm not.
Through the last half of the episode, I had to visit the 'little girl's room'.
But was watching the screen so attentively that I . . . didn't.
Once the show had finished, I shivered, then turned on every light as I made my hasty way down the hall.
A few seconds later, much refreshed, I opened the door.
And this is what was sitting on the floor directly in my path.

I screamed.
And heard loud answering laughter from the family room.
I hate my family.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Best Friend

I have a friend.
A best friend.
Or BFF, if you prefer.
She is fiercely loyal.
Believes in me.
And I nearly missed out on gaining that friendship.
Let me tell you about it . . .
Many, many years ago, our family had just come through a very difficult experience.
Very difficult.
We were wounded and aching.
This woman, a single mom, called me to see if I was interested in babysitting for her.
She had two adorable little tow-headed girls.
I turned her down, with the excuse that I needed some time to heal.
I asked her to give me a year.
She was disappointed.
But understanding.
She gave me my time.
One year later, to the day, she called again.
This time, though still feeling less-than-whole, I accepted.
And her two happy little girls arrived.
Immediately, they mixed seamlessly in with my own kids.
Played the same games.
Ate the same food.
Watched the same programs.
Fought over the same toys.
Became two more members of the family.
Meanwhile, their hardworking and dependable mom gave me an insight into the life of a single parent.
Joy in her children.
And loneliness.
More and more, we invited her and her girls to spend time with our family.
We became friends.
Best friends.
That was over twenty-five years ago.
We were with her when she began to date her future husband.
Who became my Husby's best friend.
We were with them when they married.
And had two more little girls.
We are best friends still.
I often think about her request to babysit.
Given when I was feeling selfish and sorry for myself.
And how nearly I turned her down.
I might have missed this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Terrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Trip

Still on holidays.

Remembering the first one we took here to the Island . . .
A repost:
Ahh, Holidays. some are good. Some are . . .
Everyone has one.
At least once.
The trip from hell . . . umm . . . the terrible trip.
Ours began innocently enough. Organized, even.
We were going to repeat last year's dream trip to the west coast to visit my parents in Abbotsford, BC. But this year, we would continue out to Vancouver Island to go deep sea fishing with Uncle Bub.
We were . . . excited.
I had bought special toys and games for the kids to play on the way to keep them entertained.
Because the view of the Rocky Mountains out the window wouldn't be enough . . .
The car was packed with food and yummy things.
Our valiant little trailer was hooked on behind.
We were ready.
The trouble started about five hours in.
With a leaky hose.
Cars don't run well if they have a leaky hose.
We stopped in Prince George, BC, to try to get it fixed.
And found out that it was a strange-sized hose.
Of course.
A little duct tape later, we were back on the road. Sort of.
Grant kept having to stop to add water.
Oh, and let out whichever child was next in line in the 'upchuck olympics'.
I should point out here that my Mom was right. Looking out the window during a trip was infinately better than playing toys or games.
Little stomachs obviously don't like toys and games.
An important point.
Moving on . . .
We were able to make it another four hours.
More car trouble.
We decided to take a break in Hope, BC.
A beautiful spot. Actually where the movie 'Rambo – First Blood' was filmed.
We pulled into the campground and looked at the map, choosing a little spot back in the trees.
Isolated and quiet.
Until the trains started coming through.
The first blew its whistle at midnight.
For a few unforgettable moments, we thought we had somehow, inadvertantly, set up our tent trailer right on the tracks.
We hadn't.
We had missed them by about six feet.
Trains in Canada are amazingly regular.
One sleepless night later, we were back on the road.
We limped into Abbotsford. And enjoyed a couple of days of much-needed bliss with my parents.
Then . . . that road again.
The ferry-ride was a little more expensive than we had anticipated.
But then, so was everything else.
We made it to the island.
For about half an hour.
Halfway to Uncle Bub's, the entire undercarriage of our faithful tent trailer gave way, skidding our little marvel along on its belly.
Grant pulled over and we surveyed the damage.
We had two choices.
Abandonment and despair and certain death.
My choice.
Or unhooking the trailer, driving to the nearest town and securing repairs.
My husband's.
Fortunately, we went with his.
One of the kids stayed with me guarding the trailer (because, someone might steal it . . . with no wheels . . . okay, it seemed to make sense at the time . . .) while Grant drove off.
We managed to get our trailer fixed, but we were stuck there for two days while the shop made the needed parts to repair it.
And used up every dime of our vacation savings to do it.
Finally, two days late and several dollars short, we limped (remember the car) into Uncle Bub's.
Only to find that the ocean was too rough to go out.
We waited a further two days, scanning the water eagerly each morning.
But the ocean had plans of it's own.
And they didn't include us.
Finally, defeated, we headed home.
The trip back was more of the same. Balky car. Sick kids.
The weather was good.
I have never been so glad to see the lights of home in my life.
We were taught several things on that ill-fated trip.
One. Don't buy toys and games for your kids to play on a trip if everyone is prone to car-sickness.
Two. Beautiful scenery doesn't make a cranky car driver better.
Three. Always check the campground map carefully and ask the attendant if there are any 'un-noted' features one should be aware of.
Four. Your trip will always cost at least 2.74 times what you have saved for it.
Five. Stay home.
Fortunately, we learned none of them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Our Building
The beautiful Maritime Heritage Centre in Campbell River, BC

Normally, I get sick on boats.
Smaller boats:
We went whale watching off the coast of Oregon.
It was a beautiful, sunny, calm day.
The sea was 'running smooth', as our captain informed us.
We scurried awkwardly aboard.
And took up places of advantage to watch for the great denizens of the deep.
The boat put out.
And I immediately turned green.
And stayed that way until we returned to the dock and I once more stood upon terra firma.
We tried once again at Cape Cod.
You can read that story here.
My Husby took me on a cruise on a beautiful ship:
We had every every luxury.
Gourmet meals.
Exceptional service.
Deluxe accommodation of every sort.
And I spent the entire week battling nausea.
Until I was standing once more on solid ground.
Yesterday, we toured the Maritime Heritage Centre in Campbell River, BC.
Took the excellent and informative tour with our guide, Fred.
Poked about through displays of things nautical.
Tried out Captain's wheels.
Tested the rope-tying.
Exclaimed over the ingenuity, creativity and artistic talents of Canada's seafaring people.
And finally clambered all over the only known example of a wooden seiner in its original configuration still in existence, the BCP45.
And I do mean all over.
We wandered about the deck.
Peered into the now remarkably fish-free hold.
Took a turn at the helm.
Sat in the minute kitchen and heard 'fishing' stories.
Climbed down into the engine room and studied the behemoth that gave this tidy little ship power and electricity.
Stared askance (Ooh! Good word!) at the tiny bunking facilities that once were home to a crew of six.
And generally spent a wonderful hour, exploring.
And I realized, as I crossed the walkway back that I had just spent time on an ocean-going vessel and not once did I feel the least bit queasy.
It was a breakthrough!
And as long as every boat I get on is standing perfectly still on supports in the middle of a giant display room, my seasickness and I can permanently part ways.
Yep. Cured!

My new best friend

National Historic Site
As you may remember it

Monday, November 19, 2012

Don't You Wish You Were Here?

My Husby and I are on Holiday.
In beautiful BC. (British Columbia)
We are having a marvellous time.
Did you know that holidays make you younger?
Let me explain.
My Husby and I were married early.
I was 20. He was 21.
We had our first baby just before our first anniversary.
Our second followed eighteen months later.
And our third two years after our second.
We were . . . busy.
It wasn't until our third son was eleven months old that we were able to take our first vacation.
Okay, it wasn't a real vacation.
It was a conference.
But it was in beautiful Halifax. The jewel of Canada's East coast.
And my Husby's ticket was paid for.
All we had to cover were my expenses.
That was as close to a vacation as we were going to get.
For three days, while Husby was at his various meetings, my baby and I spent our time in the comfortable hotel room.
Exploring the many sites of old Halifax.
Or eating.
On the final day of the conference, a gala banquet and ball had been planned.
The hotel supplied us with a baby-sitter.
And I was free to join my Husby for wonderful food and a table full of scintillating (Oooh! Good word!) company.
We ate and talked and laughed.
Partway through the evening, my Husby leaned close and said something to me.
I giggled and kissed his nose.
Then one of the women at the table sighed and said, “I just love newlyweds!”
I smiled at her.
And thought of my almost-one-year-old upstairs with the babysitter.
And my four-year-old and three-year-old at home with gramma.
I had been married five years.
And spent much of that time either pregnant or nursing.
I felt ancient.
And this woman thought I was a newly-wed.
I could draw only one conclusion.
It was because I was on holiday.
It must have been.
Who needs creams and surgery to erase the the years?
I know of something cheaper.
And infinitely more fun.
Here's to holidays.

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