Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thirty-Eight Years

Kids . . .
It's been thirty-eight years since my Husby and I said "I do."
It was eight o'clock in the morning when we exchanged our vows.
The first hot, sunny day of the year.
I forgot his ring.
And tossed the bouquet so high that it hit the ceiling and dropped directly behind me.
But it was there that the adventure started.
Maybe I should explain . . .
My Husby and his brother-in-law (hereinafter known as BIL) worked as civilian guards for the RCMP.
A job that entailed long nights spent watching the prisoners.
And visiting with the 'on shift' RCMP officers.
They became friends.
The guards and the officers.
Not the prisoners.
I thought I should point that out.
Ahem . . .
When my new Husby and I were set to leave on our honeymoon, we were very careful to leave a get-away vehicle safely hidden.
In the next town.
Let's face it, with this BIL, getting away was not only difficult. It was very nearly impossible.
He had been known to fill honeymooners vehicles with balloons or crumpled newspaper. Saran-wrap them shut. Apply Vaseline to each and every surface. Stick Oreo cookies to every window. Wrap them in toilet paper.
He had a fund of new and clever ideas.
But new Husby was crafty.
He and a trusted friend had gone days before and stashed the get-away vehicle in a garage of a friend of a friend of a  friend.
No one was finding it.
Oddly enough, his BIL asked only one thing. "In what direction are you headed?"
Husby told him. "North."
He merely smiled and nodded.
Okay, yes. It seemed too easy.
Our friend sneaked us out of the reception and into his car.
Then he took us to our truck.
It was undamaged.
We piled in and started out.
Just as we were about to turn onto the main highway to Calgary, Husby stopped.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"It's too easy," he replied.
I stared at him.
"Too easy," he repeated. He put the truck into gear and turned it around.
"Umm . . . so . . . what are we going to do?" I asked. I mean, going back to my parents' was sort of out of the question . . .
"We're still going to Calgary," Husby said. "But we're going by a different route!"
And we did. We followed every secondary, gravel and/or dirt road all the way from Fort Macleod to the great metropolis.
It took a bit longer.
But we arrived safely.
We checked into our hotel.
Stayed there for a couple of days.
Then headed out on our real honeymoon.
We were gone two weeks.
Two wonderful, enjoyable, surprising, educational weeks.
When we arrived back home, we were met by the BIL, who welcomed us home warmly.
And with a wide grin.
Husby could stand it no longer. "What did you do?" he demanded.
The grin widened. "I had the boys put an APB out on your vehicle," he said.
"You . . . what?"
"Yeah. They put an APB out on your vehicle. I'm amazed they didn't pick you up!"
An APB is an 'All Points Bulletin' which alerts every police station - and I do mean EVERY - that such-and-such a vehicle is wanted. If spotted, approach, detain and apprehend.
I mean, the police in other areas didn't know why our vehicle had been flagged. They only knew it had been.
The results may have been disastrous.
I still shiver.
And glare at the BIL.
Thirty-eight years later.

P.S. Husby surprised me with an Alaskan cruise for our anniversary!
Internet connections are few and far between.
I'll check in when I can.
And give you the full report when we get home!
Wish us luck!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Prayers With Blair

To my younger brother on his 54th birthday . . .
Happy Birthday!
 . . .or crying works, too
It was an uncharacteristically quiet day in the Stringam household.
The older kids were at school.
Dad and the hired men were outdoing . . . ranch stuff.
Mom and the two youngest children were in the house.
Anita asleep in babyland.
Blair, known for playing quietly, playing quietly in the basement.
I should point out, here, that two-year-old Blair was being toilet-trained.
The lessons were ongoing.
With mixed results.
Mom was busy in the kitchen.
Her 'mom alarm' went off.
Time to check on Blair's progress.
Or lack thereof.
She stood at the top of the stairs and called down.
“Blair! Time to go potty!”
Okay, so subtle, we weren't.
Her little tow-headed boy appeared at the bottom of the stairs.
Definitely not making eye-contact with his mother.
“Blair! Did you wet your pants?”
The answer was quite obvious.
Mom sighed. “Blair you come up here this moment!”
Obediently, the small boy started up the long flight of stairs.
On little hands and knees.
About midway, he paused.
Looked up at his mother standing like a nemesis at the top of the stairs.
Then put his little hands together.
Bowed his head.
And squeezed his little blue eyes tightly shut.
“Heavenly Father. Please bless Mommy, Daddy, Brothers and Sisters. And Blair.”
He looked up.
His prayer had been answered.
By this point Mom was sitting on the top step.
Laughing too hard to even consider another lesson in toilet training.
Who says prayer doesn't work?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gentility Lost

This post is a bit of a departure for me.
I usually don’t like to discuss issues.
But something has caught my attention . . .
My daughter, son-in-law, and their children enjoy attending Cosplay exhibitions.
They get quite involved, creating costumes for their entire family, interacting with like-minded people.
Tons of fun.
At a recent gathering, my SIL saw a couple that he is acquainted with.
I stress that he knows these two people.
But only in a ‘Hi, how are you doing!’ sort of way.
He had seen them at a recent Cosplay fair and they had been dressed as a coordinated couple.
At this show, the one partner was dressed as they had been before.
The other was in something different.
Innocently, my SIL asked this person why she wasn’t in her matching costume, especially as there was a contest.
Loudly, and blithely, she informed him – and anyone else who happened to be standing nearby - that she couldn’t wear that costume this weekend because she was, and I quote, “Having her period!”
My SIL was embarrassed. He mumbled something, took his little girls and left.
Do we share too much?
Is there nothing that is personal? Or private?
Or special?
In our efforts to prove that thinking people can discuss anything, have we lost our gentility?
That thin slice of refinement that sets us apart from the less intelligent creatures of the earth?
I’ve watched my dog greet others at the dog park. They have, quite literally, no secrets.
If they can sniff it out, they will.
And do.
And they are quite happy sharing.
Have we reached this stage? When we can (and will) blurt out anything.
Have the words: refined, courteous, gallant, cultured, polite, discrete been discarded in favour of (so-called) freedom and independence and equality.
Have we lost our gentility?
What are your thoughts?

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Great White (Blonde) North

See? Blonde.
My Father-in-Law (hereinafter known as FIL) did not like blondes.
And my Mother-in-Law hated beards.
These two statements go together.
Just give me a moment . . .
So . . . back to my FIL.
No one knew why he did not like blondes.
And they did ask.
“Dad! Were you dumped by a blonde?”
“Dad! Did some blonde do something horrible?”
“Dad! Could I borrow twenty bucks?” Oh, wait, that has nothing to do with this.
Back to my story . . .
He passed away without ever sharing the reasons for his aversion.
But his family knew it well.
Whenever one of his five sons asked to borrow the car for a date, the first question was, invariably, “She’s not a blonde, is she?”
To which the invariable answer was, “Oh, no, Dad! She’s not a blonde! Definitely not a blonde!”
Even if she was.
The keys would be produced.
The date embarked upon.
All was well.
Yep. FIL’s aversion was well known.
Sometimes a little too well known.
His wife had an aversion as well.
To facial hair.
Here it comes . . .
If her husband ever suggested that he was considering growing a beard, she had the perfect answer.
“I’ll dye my hair blonde!”
Even the remote possibility of beard growing disappeared instantly.
In his later years, he did make allowances.
I mean, he personally picked me for his son, and I had the white-blonde hair only found in people of Swedish heritage (like me) or points north.
And, in fact, two of his sons married blondes.
Call it parental opposition.
But the mystery remains.
The only other statement we ever heard from him concerning blondes was, “You know why blondes have more fun, don’t you? Because they get dirty quicker!”
Hmm . . . was that a hint?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Well Served

Server and Servee.
I'm a people-pleaser.
Or try to be.
Call it a weakness.
But I've always had this compulsion to make everyone around me as comfortable as possible.
Most of the time, it's fun.
Occasionally, not.
Let me tell you about it.
When I was first married, my greatest wish was to see my new Husby happy, comfortable and well-fed.
I worked hard at it.
Fortunately, he is a kind and considerate man, so all was well.
I had meals ready at meal times.
Kept the laundry done.
Cleaned the house.
Ran errands for him.
This went on for some time.
Then, I began to realize that some of the 'errands' were jobs he could have done equally well himself.
And probably should.
Case in point:
Whenever he would use a tissue ( Kleenex), he would then hand me said used tissue and I would hunt for a garbage to throw it in.
True story.
Can everyone say “gullible”?
This went on for nearly three years.
Then, one day, we were at a reception.
My Husby used a tissue and turned and held it out to me.
Now, the normal people-pleasing Diane would have taken it and found a place to dispose of it.
The new Diane looked at the tissue, then at my Husby and said, “Throw it out yourself.”
Whereupon (good word) he laughed and stuck it into his pocket. “Finally caught on, did you?” he said.
And that's when I hit him.
Oh, not hard.
Just enough for him to know that I was . . . displeased.
And that he could run his own stupid errands from now on.
I said it.
Erm . . . can I take that for you?

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