Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Saturday, April 14, 2018

Flying Boots

Mom and kids at the 'front' entrance.


Dad and kids at the 'back'.
Behind that door? The Stairway.
New, still-unfinished house.
Large family.
Little kids.
What could possibly go wrong . . .?
The House-in-Town was nearing completion.
Now you have to know that the Mark and Enes Stringam family had always been ranch dwellers. And that said ranch was 20 miles from town.
The older kids were in school, necessitating much driving back and forth along that always-adventurous 20 miles of—depending on the day—gravel, mud, ruts and/or dust.
99 % of it driven by Mom with four little kids in her car.
My parents came up with a unique solution: Build a house in town and move the family there. Thus, instead of Mom driving to the town and back, Dad would be driving to the ranch and back.
Less people in the car.
And no little kids.
Perfect.
Back at the house, there were a few things that still needed doing—floor coverings. Doors to be hung. Cosmetics, really.
In mid-1956, the family moved in just in time for school.
Things started out well.
Dad off to the ranch each morning.
Older two kids off to school.
Mom, toddler and very mobile baby at home.
Now one of Mom’s biggest worries was the long stairway to the basement. Bare, wooden steps.
And no door at the top.
She barricaded it as best she could with a wooden child’s gate at the top.
But with workers and other family members going up and down, keeping said gate where it should be was . . . difficult.
Now George, nearing three years old, was fascinated by boots. Particularly his mother's, which he found easy to slip on and off. And Mom, neatness person that she was, insisted that all boots be removed and stored just inside the ‘back’ entrance.
I should probably point out that this entrance was ‘back’ only because it was secondary, not because of location. In reality, it opened into the house only a few yards from the ‘front’ entrance.
Directly onto the stairway going down.
That same stairway that didn’t have a door.
Thus George playing with the Boots was, by necessity, near the Stairway.
I take a long way to get where I’m going, don’t I . . .?
Suddenly, Mom heard the unmistakable sound of a small body thumping and bumping down the stairs.
In an instant, she knew what had happened—toddler, boots, stairs—and went into ‘flight’ mode. Reaching the bottom just shortly after her son.
It could have been far worse with those rough, unfinished steps. But George emerged with only bumps, bruises and fear.
The remarkable thing?
The little soldier kept his boots on.
Both of them.
Right through the scuffle. 
I guess we all hang onto what's important.
Well done, little soldier. Well done.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Half Baked

The greatest food fight in the history of the world. (Credit: The Great Race.)

Mother stopped in the kitchen doorway.
The look on her face would have been comical, if it wasn’t so . . . not.
Uh-oh. Busted.
I glanced sideways at Sally and she looked at me. I dropped the lime I was holding and it hit the floor with a wet ‘plop’.
Mom stepped inside the room, then stopped again. She was staring down at the floor.
I, too looked down. A large puddle of . . . something that may once have been butter ended right where mom’s white tennis shoes began.
Ummm . . .
She lifted her head and looked right at Sally and me. I was pretty sure I knew what was coming next. “I knew something was up when the doggo came running out of the room with his tail between his legs!”
Nope I guess I was wrong.
“How did this happen?”
Bingo! That’s the one!
I glanced again at Sally. I could see the corners of her mouth turn up slightly.
Mine did the same.
“We . . . ummm . . . we were baking a cake,” Sally began, rather timidly. Just then the timer ‘dinged’ on the stove. She nodded toward it. “See?”
Mom waved a hand, taking in the liberally bedaubed cupbards, walls and floors. “Is this a usual ‘cake-baking’ technique?” Her voice was deceptively calm.
“Ummm . . .” I began. Again Sally and I looked at each other. “I’m going to hazard a ‘no’?”
“And you’d be right!”
Yessss!
“Which is wrong on so many levels I can’t possibly count them!”
Rats!
Again she waved a hand. “So? How did this happen?”
I scratched my cheek, then realized something was dripping down my face. I looked at my fingers. Was that egg?
“Gwen? Sally?”
“We were baking a cake,” Sally said again.
Mom raised her eyebrows. “And?”
“And things got out of hand,” I volunteered.
Mom nodded. “I can see that.”
I got a paper towel and wiped my face. Yep. Egg. And quite possibly milk. I frowned as I tried to remember the exact chain of events that had led us to the present situation. “I was looking in the fridge for the eggs.”
“And I was trying to find the cinnamon,” Sally added.
“And I found them.”
“And so did I.”
“And I dropped one.”
“Right on my head.”
I looked at Sally. “It was totally an accident.”
Mom interrupted there. “How can you accidentally drop an egg on your sister’s head?”
“Well, I was carrying the container and I had to lift it to get past her and it . . . sort of . . . tipped.” I demonstrated.
Mom snorted. “Sort of tipped.”
“Yeah. And then an egg fell on Sally and—you know—broke open. And then Sally said I did it on purpose, but I really didn’t.”
“She totally did!” Sally broke in. “I mean, why lift it over my head. Why not just go around?” She picked up the container of cinnamon and smiled. “And then I accidentally—sort of—spilled the cinnamon in her direction.”
“In her direction.” Mom folded her arms.
“Yeah. And it—sort of—got on her. You know.”
“I’m beginning to.”
“And then Gwen got the flour,” Sally said.
I made a face at her. “And you got the butter.”
“There might have been a bit of oil in there somewhere.”
“And a couple more eggs.” I rubbed at my face with the paper towel again.
“And a few limes.”
“I know for sure there was a least one cup of milk.”
Sally grinned. “At least one because your hair has reached the saturation point.”
I touched my dripping head. She was right.
Mom said something under her breath.
“Language, Mom,” I said.
Mom puffed up like a toad. “I get to say whatever I want! You two fruit bats have made your last mess!” She took a long breath. “Now clean this up!” She waved a hand. “I don’t care how long it takes. I don’t care how you do it. Get it clean!”
“Could we have a piece of cake first?” I asked.
Mom threw her hands into the air. “Aarrgh!”
“I’m guessing that means no?”
She turned and left.
Sally and I looked at each other.
I gave her a slow grin and tossed an egg up into the air a couple of times.

Each month, a intrepid group of writers submits a series of random words to Karen of Baking in a Tornado. She then re-distributes them to the others in the group.
My words this months were: butter ~ lime ~ saturation ~ doggo ~ language

And they were submitted by:  Climaxed         
This is so much fun!
Hop over and see what the others have done!

12personalities12
My Brand of Crazy



Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Toast to You


Mom’s Breakfast. The best meal of the day.
Not including all the other meals . . .
Radio blaring out the latest country song and today’s beef auction prices.
Bacon sizzling on the stove and blasting the aroma of sweet deliciousness into the atmosphere.
Perfect eggs beaming their ‘sunny-side-up’ smile.
Potatoes in a steaming, melty-cheese mound.
And the unmistakable sound of a sharp knife scraping with purpose over a piece of burnt toast. Eliminating all signs of black, way-overdone-ness.
For all my childhood, that’s how I thought toast was made. Burnt black, then scraped back to the desired colour and texture required by whomever it was being made for.
Imagine my surprise to marry, receive a toaster that had more than just a ‘char’ setting, and discover a world of levels of toasty done-ness.
Yow.
Move ahead several years . . .
Last night, my daughter and her family were over for supper.
I made a big pot of rich, creamy cauliflower-cheese soup.
Of which there is no more delicious soup on the planet.
I’m quoting my daughter, of course.
She was in charge of the garlic toast.
Made in the oven to the perfect level of . . . perfect-ness.
We got talking.
It’s what we do.
I sniffed. “I think that toast is done.”
Daughter: “Oh, man!” There was a bit of scrambling and a pan of blackened pieces of bread pulled from the oven. “Well, I guess garlic toast is out of the question.”
“Not so fast!” I grabbed a sharp knife, the first piece of toast, walked over to the sink and started scraping. In no time, it had been restored to a lightly-browned, perfectly-toasted state. I handed it back to her.
She stared. “Really?”
I grabbed the second piece and re-enacted the scenario.
Still slightly doubtful, she started buttering that first slice.
Soon, we had a platter full of fairly appetizing, hot, buttery garlic toast.
Now granddaughter had been watching the entire process. And proclaimed her profound doubt as to the eat-ability of the end result.
In strident six-year-old tones.
She finally took a tiny, tentative bite. “Hey! It’s really good!”
She finished her piece and reached for another.
I like to think of it as ‘toast resuscitation’.
Yep. My mama weren’t no dummy.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Really Wild


We had the grandkids over,
Our intrepid little band,
A treasure hunt, some laser tag.
We’d lots of fun things planned.

I said, “The sky’s the limit!”
As they started Seek and Hide,
Cause for this day, this gramma
Walked on her wild side!

We scrambled through the brush,
While hunting one and all,
Then scrambled through again,
Looking for our only ball.

We piled in the car,
To play some laser tag,
We ‘weaseled’ through the hurdles
And Gramma waved the flag.

We stopped and ordered pizza,
It just seemed apropos,
Then piled in the car again,
And headed for a show.

Now when the movie finished,
'Twas such a lot of fun,
We got back in the car again,
Cause none of us were done.

We headed back t’wards home,
We weren’t quite finished yet.
We had donuts yet to make,
And records yet to set.

And then the kids were gone,
Their parents took them back,
The house was bare and quiet,
As outside, the skies went black.

This walking on the wild side,
Though much to be desired,
And fun the while it lasted,
Makes Gramma really tired!












Each month we have a topic,
Once Karen's led the way.
So tell me, now you've finished,
How did we do today?


Karen of Baking In A Tornado: Wild Side
Dawn of Cognitive Script: Walking Wild
Lydia from Cluttered Genius: Wild Child
Jenn from Sparkly Poetic Weirdo: Wildly Cautious
Sarah of My Brand of Crazy: The Wild Ride

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Watch-ing Out

A snowy Ninja.

They had spent the weekend playing.
Running. Hide and seek-ing. Laughing.
Eating.
A bit of sleeping.
It was Sunday morning.
Gramma had them in their Sunday clothes. Hair was brushed and shining.  
It was almost time to leave for Sunday meetings.
Gramma still had things to do, so Brother and Sister had time on their hands.
What to do? What to do?
They couldn’t get dirty, so eating was out.
As were most of their usual activities.
Hmmm . . .
Sister conceived a brilliant plan. She would teach Ninja classes!
These would entail remaining upright—mostly.
And keeping clean—again, mostly.
They started in. Or rather, she started in.
“Now do what I do!” she commanded little Brother. She climbed up on the bench and hopped off.
He climbed up on the bench and hopped off.
She repeated the motion.
He did, too. Then sat down.
She hopped on one leg.
Brother raised an eyebrow.
She jumped on two legs across the room.
Brother looked around.
She bent down and sneaked from piece of furniture to piece of furniture.
Her head popped up from behind the couch. “Hey! You’re not doing it!” She looked at me. “Gramma! He’s not doing it!”
I looked at Brother.
“I’m a Watching Ninja,” he said calmly.
Well that explains it.
And next time I’m in spin class, I’m using it.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Ignorance


It’s possible, or so I’m told,
For all of us, e’en wise and old,
To know a lot of topics bold,
And nothing much of others.

And so today, I’ll illustrate,
Perhaps I can elucidate,
How knowledge can be, here, first-rate,
While, there, less than another’s.

A city slicker full of charm,
Stopped one day at a large sheep farm,
Gave compliments meant to disarm,
While speaking to the shepherd.

Then wanting to assert his worth,
That he was smarter from his birth,
As proved by clothes and width of girth,
And big words, language peppered.

And so he said, “I’ll count your sheep!
Cause I could do it in my sleep,
And my high reputation, keep,
For being so much wiser.”

"And for my talents, one, I’ll take,
With him, my own herd, I will make,
Or maybe in an oven, bake,
He’ll be an appetizer."

The farmer said, “Please go ahead,
And add the figures in your head,
Your words do not fill me with dread,
Let’s see your smarts! Yes, really.”

The ‘Slicker’ yawned, then smugly smiled,
And looked the pasture o’er a while,
He said, “My figure, I’ve compiled,
Though conditions weren’t ideal-ly.”

“Four hundred sheep, plus thirty-two,
There, I have shown my ‘smarts’ to you,
And now a sheep I will accrue.”
He grabbed one. Started walking.

The farmer said, “I know that I,
Can see that you are one smart guy,
But if, from shoes to smart bow tie,
I guess your occupation . . .”

“Could we try doubling-or-naught?
I’d like to give my smarts a shot,
And see if your goose can be caught,
And stop me from deflation.”

The ‘Slicker’ smirked. “This, I must see.”
Said farmer. “It occurs to me.
 An accountant, you must surely be!
It’s obvious to me, too.”

The ‘Slicker’ gaped. “How did you know?
You really have dealt me a blow.”
The farmer smiled, “I’m not that slow,
Put down my dog, I’ll tell you.”














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, come back, cause here's the thing,
The three of us will tackle SPRING!

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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