Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Saturday, April 7, 2018

Health. Matters

Bonk Eye.

Recently, I've noticed something.

That, in itself, is remarkable.
Moving on . . .
I work with a group of elderly people.
Some of them like nothing better than talking about their health.
Or lack thereof.
I've been treated to stories of gall bladders.
Knees.
Hips.
Hearts.
Lungs.
Mysterious lumps.
And a plethora of aches and pains.
I cluck sympathetically.
Knowing that each of these ailments will probably visit me at some point in the very near future.
But what is truly remarkable is the fact that the very young people I also associate with, ie. my grandchildren, are equally interested in their health.
Scrapes, bruises and cuts are examined minutely and then displayed, accompanied by a lurid tale of woe.
Often.
Sometimes, a tiny wound might go undetected for several days. Have scabbed over and be well on its way to healing. But once discovered, it must be fussed over and bandaged and kissed.
Several times.
My two-year-old granddaughter had fallen and bumped her head.
Just above her eye.
After the initial tears and hysteria, she had examined her wound in the mirror.
There was a distinct bruise.
“Mom!” she said loudly. “Bonk eye!”
Her mother agreed that, yes, she had 'bonked' her eye.
But that wasn't enough.
She had to tell everyone in the room.
Several times.
Later, at dinner, she mentioned it again.
Several more times.
Her uncle Tristan, having been at an activity, was late to dinner.
He slid into his chair and started dishing out food.
Here was someone new to tell.
“Unca Tristan!” she said, “Bonk eye!”
Tristan looked at her. “Yes, I see that you bonked your eye,” he said. He started eating.
“Unca Tristan, look! Bonk eye!”
“Yes,” he said.
“Bonk eye, Unca Tristan!”
“Yes.”
She took a couple of bites of food. Then, “Unca Tristan!”
“I know,” he broke in, rather wearily.
“Bonk eye!”
“Yes.”
This went on through the remainder of the meal.
And every time we saw her for the next few weeks.
Long after the slight bruise had healed.
And until the next injury pushed it off the front page.
Then it was, “Unca Tristan! Look!”
He looked at me. “On, man. Are we going to have another chorus of 'bonk-eye'?” 
I laughed.
Health issues.
Most important at each end of the age scale.
Differing only in seriousness.
Not in concern.

Friday, April 6, 2018

All Day Sucker

So nice! Sigh.

I played hooky.
Once.
For those of you who don't know, 'hooky' is a term coined to describe being absent without leave.
In my case, I was absent from school.
And I didn't do it alone.
I should probably point out that these were the days before the school phoned home "to inform you that your student 'insert name' was absent on . . . yadda yadda yadda . . ."
Back to my story . . .
We were in grade twelve. For the last semester of my grade twelve year, I lived with Debbie's family, the Joneses, on their ranch, and attended school in the town of Magrath.
Our school bus arrived promptly every morning at 7:30.
After an hour and a half commute, we would arrive, sleepy and slightly dishevelled at the Magrath High School to begin a day of instruction.
One morning, one of us really wasn't in the mood.
Oh, she got up all right.
Got ready.
Endured the bus ride.
But, standing there in front of those venerable halls of learning, she balked.
“I don't wanna go,” Debbie said.
I stared at her. “What?”
“I don't wanna go,” she said again.
“Oh.” What did one say to that?
“Let's play hooky!”
“Debbie, we can't play hooky!”
“Yes we can! We've never done it and the semester, the year, the school experience is nearly over!”
She had a point. Both of us had been exemplary students.
Precisely what our fathers expected.
“Deb, my dad would kill me!”
“C'mon, Diane, it's only one day!”
I looked at her. Have I mentioned that Debbie was the only reason I ever got into trouble? Well she was . . .
At that point, our friend Leonard, he of the pick-up truck, appeared.
“Leonard! Take us to Lethbridge!” Leonard looked at Debbie. Then he looked at me. I shrugged.
“Okay,” he said.
. . . and she got other people into trouble, too.
The three of us trailed across the parking lot and into Leonard's pick-up.
There was plenty of room on the wide seat.
We settled in for the 12-minute ride to Lethbridge, a city of about 75,000 just to the north of Magrath.
For a guy, Leonard had a surprisingly clean truck. No trash rolling around. In fact, the only thing on the dashboard was his brand shiny new 'Western Horseman' magazine.
“Oooh!” I said, picking it up. “Is this the new issue?”
“Yep. Just picked it up this morning!”
“Do you mind if I read it?”
“Nope. Just don't damage it.”
Leonard took good care of his things. Obviously magazines were no exception.
“I'll be careful.” I sat back happily while the two of them chattered all the way to the city.
Lethbridge is not a huge place, but one with several malls and lots of shopping.
We spent the day going from one to another.
And having fun.
At one of our early stops, Debbie and I bought large lollipops.
Large.
On long sticks.
We spent the rest of the day . . . ummm . . . licking.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to catch our bus. No sense in proclaiming that we had just spent the day somewhere other than where we should have been.
Leonard stopped his truck.
“This has been fun!” I told him. “C'mon Debbie, we'd better hurry!” I slid out.
At that point, a friend of Leonard's walked up to his window. “Hey, Leonard, where were you today?”
Distracted, Leonard turned to answer his friend.
Debbie started to follow me.
“Oh, my sucker,” she said, turning back.
Remember when I mentioned Debbie's name? Entwined with the word 'trouble'?
Well that would also apply here . . .
Now Debbie had gotten tired of holding the heavy sucker and had laid it down. Not certain of the surface of the dash of Leonard's remarkably tidy truck, she had chosen to lay it down on his copy of the Western Horseman.
That same brand new copy he had been so protective of earlier.
She grabbed the long stick, only to realize that the magazine came with it. 
Uh-oh.
Not only had the sucker stuck to the cover of the magazine, but it had also stuck the pages together.
“Ummm . . .” Debbie glanced at Leonard, still engrossed in his conversation. “We'll just leave that,” she said, and slid out after me. “See ya, Leonard!” She slammed the door.
Leonard, still talking, waved cheerfully and the two of us headed for our bus.
Leonard never mentioned his sucker-stuck magazine.
The one he obviously never got to read.
After he had toted two girls all over Lethbridge.
Some fellow hookey-players are just plain nice.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Toddler see. Toddler do.


Who says the younger generation isn’t paying attention . . .?
My good friend, Jen, was having one of her ‘normal’ days.
Housework.
Kids in school.
Kids at home.
She came upstairs from the laundry room.
To hear someone in the front room.
Talking.
Now you have to know that Toddler Girl wasn’t yet making real words.
And the baby was rosily asleep in his crib.
Who could possibly be talking?
She dashed around the corner of the front room and skidded to a stop.
Huh.
Toddler Girl had a baby doll wrapped up and tucked into the crook of one arm.
In her free hand, she held a toy telephone.
She was walking back and forth across the room bouncing her doll up and down in the approved ‘pacifying-the-baby’ manoeuver.
But it was what she was doing with the phone that really caught Jen’s attention.
She held it to her ear, babbled animatedly for a few seconds (with no recognizable words) and threw her head back and laughed out loud.
Then, as Jen watched, she repeated the whole exercise. Walk about jiggling the baby. Talk animatedly. Laugh uproariously.
Hmmm . . . I wonder where she picked that up?
They are watching.
And taking note.
I guess talking enthusiastically and laughing while taking care of the baby is a good thing for them to see.
And emulate.
Unlike my kids who caught me eating peanut butter out of the jar.
With a spoon.
And forever after . . .
Well. Enough said.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

One Dirty Sweater

Me. Talking. It's a habit...

Okay, I admit it.
Fashion has never been my forte.
Yes, I like to look tidy.
And clean.
And have at least a passing acquaintance with what is popular.
I do draw the line at old and frumpy.
But sometimes, I’ve been known to stretch the rules a bit.
Case in point . . .
It was Sunday.
I wanted to wear my cream-coloured sweater. It was bulky. Comfy.
And, with the frigid cold outside, warm.
I donned a coordinating skirt. Then my sweater.
Stopped in front of the mirror on my way out the door to do a cursory examination.
Oops. Something wasn’t quite right.
You have to know that, with the large brood of children we had, it wasn’t unusual to be marked.
Spilled on. Used for everything from soiled fingers to runny noses.
And sometimes said marks and spillage went unnoticed until my little glance in front of the mirror the next time those clothes were worn.
What’s that? Up near the shoulder?
What could only be classified as a smudge.
If I had the equipment, and the ambition, I probably could have taken a fingerprint.
And identified the culprit.
But that was unimportant right then. We were getting ready to leave and this was the only sweater that went with this particular skirt. A total change was indicated. Sigh.
Then I thought of another solution. A daring, totally doable solution!
Turn the sweater inside out.
Which I did.
I glanced again into the mirror.
Perfect! Not one stain or fingerprint.
And no one would notice the inside-out-age anyway.
Wrong.
No sooner had I sat down in one of the pews in the center of the chapel then someone tapped me on the shoulder. “Diane. Your sweater’s on inside out.”
I turned back. “I know,” I said. “The other side is dirty.”
There was a gasp and the sound of laughter from everyone seated behind me.
Then one of them said, and I quote, “Only Diane.”
I guess if I have to be known for something, this is okay.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Pretty Purple Ball


In my defense . . .
Okay, I have no defense.
Sometimes ignorance is just comical . . .
It was a treasured wedding gift. A beautiful, purple blanket.
Warm.
Cuddly.
The kind that squeaks when you squeeze its folds.
I’m sure you all know what I talking about. When you got to a store and all the blankets are there, neatly folded, on display. And you squeeze the corners to see if they squeak?
Okay, well I do.
And some of them do.
Squeak, I mean.
I had no idea this was an indicator that the blanket was 100% pure wool.
No idea at all.
I just knew the squeaky ones were very warm and cuddly. (See above.)
Soooo . . . purple blanket . . .
It had served as the main source of warmth (apart from Husby, who is a percolator) on our double bed for a couple of years.
When we upgraded to a queen size, sadly, the blanket no longer fit.
In the changeover, I decided Mr. Blanket needed a wash.
And yes, I know we should probably read tags.
Well I do now at any rate.
Into the washing machine and set to ‘warm’. (I’m not a complete ignoramus. I do know that very few things should be washed on ‘hot’.)
Okay, I’m a complete ignoramus.
A while later, I pulled from the washer a perfect ball of purple wool.
Only those of you who have witnessed this know just how matted real wool can get when It’s been stuffed into a washer.
Several feeling washed through me.
Shock. Dismay.
Disgust.
I managed to stretch it out and it functioned as a child’s drag-me-around TV blanket for several years.
But its days of real usefulness were at an end.
I’d like to say I learned something from this.
Woefully . . .
In my defense, I did read the tag on Husby’s sweater.
Mine was identical and I thought they were the same.
Not.
The story continues.
Sigh . . .


Monday, April 2, 2018

Con-veniences


Computer terms, most farmers find a challenge to get through.
So here is a tutorial. It’ll help you all to see,
Just what these crazy terms should mean to you and also me . . .


Log on: is something you should do to make the homestead warm.
Log off: Watch out! The tree is chopped and falling. (Could cause harm.)
Mega Hertz: When you’re not careful as you fetch the wood.
Lap top: Cat’s ‘purr-ferred’ sleeping place where all is well and good
Hard drive: Maneuv’ring vehicles through mud or rocky ground.
Windows: Those are what you shut when snow is all around.
Byte: Is what mosquitoes do, those pesky little fiends.
Modem: Work at haying time when fields are being gleaned.
Keyboard: Something near the door where all the keys are hung.
Mouse: Those critters in the barn you’re forced to live among.
Then ‘Random Access Memory’ or RAM, ‘cause sure enough,
It’s when you can't remember any of this awful stuff.

So there you have it and you know the ‘country’ explanation,
Now can you understand us farmers’ up-to-date frustration?


Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we three besought,
To try to make the week begin,
With gentle thoughts--perhaps a grin?
So Jenny and Delores, we,
Now post our poems for you to see.
And when you’ve read what we have brought,
Did we help? Or did we not . . .

Next week, just watch us as we dance,
When we three tackle ignorance!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

April 1, 2018.
Daddy's 93rd birthday.
Today's story won't be told by me.
Instead, I'll let the man himself spin the yarn.
It'll be good!



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