Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, April 10, 2020

Brakes

...or something similar...

I don’t know where he got it.
And I'm certainly am not surprised things turned out the way they did.
Maybe I should start at the beginning . . .
Sally is home.
This time—with the outbreak of Covid-19—she is here for the foreseeable future.
Apparently movie stars are just as susceptible as the rest of us.
Go figure.
Woe be unto us.
I should probably explain that there have been a few changes in our household.
For one thing, the household.
A couple of months ago, Sally—she of the handsomely-paid movie star job—bought a new, significantly larger house a couple of blocks from our old neighbourhood. Then begged Mom and I to move in with her.
I will admit she captured me with the promise of my own bedroom.
With my own bathroom.
And a beautiful yard.
We had just finished moving in when the call came to stay at home.
This is self-isolating deluxe!
Oh, also Mort is sharing our stay-at-home-i-ness with us. It had started as a week-long thing while his parents had their house renovated.
And the timing was bad.
He now has the basement suite.
Can you believe I actually live in a house with something besides storage in the basement?
Yeah, I keep catching Mom pinching herself, too.
Anyways, back to this morning . . .
Mort appeared from his sunrise walk with an ancient bicycle.
Tandem.
Apparently it had been rusting happily among the weeds of Little Pearl Creek for some years. With all this time on his hands, he decided he could give it the extensive care it needed.
And a home.
He spent much of the morning in the garage (yes, we have a garage!) fixing said bicycle. Greasing. Adjusting.
I don’t know. Doing ‘bike’ things.
Finally, he and his new friend emerged.
One pedal was missing its rubber thingamee and had been reduced to the basics. Both the front and back fenders had to be removed because of possible tetanus-y stuff.
In lieu of two fully-functioning seats, he had tied on a couple of towels.
It was just as rusty and disreputable-looking, but now it had been ‘oiled’ and ‘upgraded’ (his words).
“Sally!” he shouted from the front walk.
I’ll tell you, she could be anywhere, doing anything (because she is, you know, Sally) but that girl could hear that boy’s call no matter what was going on.
She appeared at the front door, with Mom and me close behind.
We find it’s best to start any new adventure with our eyes on Sally.
Let’s face it, it’s just safer.
“Come for a ride with me!”
While Mom and I were still gazing at the sad vehicle with something akin to horror, Sally squealed with delight and leaped aboard the drivers ‘seat’.
Have I mentioned that girl is game for anything?
Mort swung his long legs on behind and, with a quick wave for those of us with too much sense to even approach, they were off down the drive.
Mom and I looked at each other, then shrugged and went back inside.
I had been in the middle of creating a nice slow-cooker stew for supper and was soon happily absorbed in chopping vegetables once more.
The handy little kitchen gadget was bubbling merrily, earning its keep, and I was tidying up when I heard Mom shriek.
I dropped the dishcloth and ran.
Hey. I live with Sally. Something dangerous and/or entertaining was surely happening . . .
Mom was standing in the open front door, staring outside.
I joined her.
Sally and Mort were just coming up the drive.
Both looked a little different than when they had left 20 minutes before.
Sally was soaking wet.
And Mort had sprouted leaves and petals.
The bicycle was nowhere to be seen.
“Are you hurt?” Mom asked.
“Nope!” Sally said brightly.
“Soooo . . . want to tell me about it?”
They stopped at the bottom of the steps.
“Nope!” Sally said again.
Mom turned to Mort. “Mort?”
He brushed at some of his greenery. “Ummm . . . you may want to avoid that Mrs. Talent and her flower garden just to the east of us here.”
Mom sighed, then cocked an eyebrow. “And . . .?”
Sally broke in. “If anyone asks, we have no idea how the old flour mill got knocked into the creek.”
Mom blinked. “The whole mill? Like, the building that’s been there since the dawn of time?”
Sally nodded and headed past Mom and me into the house.
Mort followed more slowly, then stopped and smiled, rather ruefully. “Funny thing,” he said. “Did you know that bikes need brakes?”

Today is a word challenge. My favourite thing!
Here’s how it works. Our intrepid leader, Karen collects word from her loyal followers, which she then re-issues back to said loyal followers.
No one knows whose words they will acquire or what will be done to the words they’ve given.
Get it?
See? Totally fun!
My words today: flower ~ flour ~ petal ~ pedal were given to me by Karen herself! Thank you so much, my friend! This. Is. Awesome!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Mom


What do I remember?
Warm hugs and cuddles.
Clean clothes, clean sheets, clean house.
And wonderful, many-times-a-day food.
Stories.
A superwoman who could leap tall buildings at a single bound. Or at least scale mighty towers to rescue an erring two-year-old daughter.
And also pull that same daughter from the slavering jaws of death dressed up as a Holstein cow who mistook said tot for something . . . threatening.
A midnight sewer. Because there simply wasn’t time to make her six children’s clothes in the light of day.
A gardener extraordinaire. And canner and preserve-er, ditto.
A woman who treasured the written word.
Pie-maker unequaled.
An extra hand in the corrals and at round-ups, despite all her other duties.
A game board enthusiast. Whose record for ‘Battleship’ still hasn’t been beat.
A holidaymaker and sewer of costumes.
A woman firm in her beliefs who would, with her hand tight in her husband’s, lead her family along the path of faith.
A person who laughed easily.
And encouraged constantly.
And who gave up a university education and a promising career as a baseball player to stay home and 'help out'.
Nurse. 5-star chef. Writer. Athlete. Wisewoman. Cheerleader. Math coach. rancher. Gardener. Teacher. Story-teller. Cuddler.
Mom went home 18 years ago today.
She was the light in my life.
She will be my light forever.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Un-Safe

Me.
Occasionally, when Mom got tired of driving twenty miles of dirt roads for everything, my parents would move the family to our townhouse.
The one . . . umm . . . in town.
It was a whole different lifestyle for me.
I had a tricycle. A hand-me-down from three siblings before me.
Red.
Sturdy.
With a single plastic tassel hanging from one handle grip that waved in the breeze when I went really, really fast.
Which I did.
Often.
I was the master of the universe!
I could go anywhere!
As long as I stayed on the sidewalk.
The streets around our block were 'dangerous'.
There were dragons there.
Okay, so Mom described the dangers as speeding cars that would flatten me into a pancake, but I put my own spin on it. It was so much better.
So, back on the tricycle . . .
I rode it endlessly.
Doing laps of our block.
The different homes there were categorized according to points of interest and/or what foodstuffs could be procured on the premises.
Lodemier's house, where the baloney sandwich ruled supreme at snack time, and where best friend, Laurie, lived. Reese's house, where good cookies could be found at any time. Madge's house, another food emporium. Winter's house, with the cute, fuzzy Pomeranians. And so on.
It was paradise.
For me, anyway.
I'm not sure what they thought when Diane pulled onto their driveway on her trusty steed.
At least they were kind.
And polite.
All of this is just my long-winded way of saying there was nothing more interesting than the homes on our block.
Why would anyone venture out onto dragon-infested gravel street in search of anything else?
It just didn't make sense.
So I stayed on my sidewalk.
And was safe . . .
There was an alley running the length of our block. The back yard of every home opened onto it. It was a hive of activity every day as dozens of children ran and played.
Occasionally, it was used for vehicles. Our neighbour, especially, was known to park his huge grain truck there during harvest, to keep the behemoth (real word) off the street.
And that simple act diminished the safety margin by a factor of 100.
I don't know what that means, but it sounds . . . unsafe.
On this particular afternoon, our neighbour had come into town from his farm for lunch.
Having finished said lunch, he had strolled back out to his truck to return to work.
I had also recently finished my lunch. And was on my way to his house for a much-needed cookie fix.
For a short while, the two of us occupied the same general space.
But his vehicle was vastly superior to mine.
Okay, well, it was bigger.
I was just crossing the entrance to the alley, safely staying on my sidewalk as he was backing his truck up.
I should mention here that trucks in those days didn't have warning beepers or rear-view cameras.
In fact, they barely had mirrors.
Needless to say, my neighbour didn't see me.
Or my tricycle.
It could have been a disaster.
I pulled into the alley entrance.
And stared, transfixed at the enormous blue box of the truck backing, slowly but steadily, towards me.
Closer. Closer.
Hmmm. Something whispered that maybe I should get off my tricycle and move to the side.
I did so.
The truck kept backing.
Backing.
There was a tiny crunching sound as it ran over my tricycle, folding it in two.
Huh. There's something you don't see every day.
The driver kept backing, oblivious to what had just happened.
He waved at me cheerfully as he went past. Then, reaching the street, he reversed direction and headed out.
I watched him go.
Then looked at my tricycle.
Or the little mashed-together bits of metal that used to be my tricycle.
Sigh.
Dad would fix it.
I ran home.
Dad did fix it. And it looked even better when he was through.
Brighter red.
And two little tassells instead of one.
And I think he made it a little bigger.
Dads could do anything.
Soon I was back on the sidewalk again.
Conquering worlds.
Staying safe.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Un-Seen

I always was afraid at night
When Mother would turn out the light,
Into the darkness, I would stare
And look for monsters waiting there.

My terror's lasted all my life,
E’en after I became a wife,
Though I admit there's far less fear
When someone else is sleeping near.

But still, the darkness frightens me.
Still harbours scary things, you see.
Into the darkness, I will stare
For thugs and villains waiting there.

Once, Husby took me out to see
A great new movie, just released.
About a girl, so sweet and kind
Who could control things with her mind.

That night, my world again askew,
The light stayed on because I knew
The darkness, into which I stared?
For certain, Carrie waited there.

And beings who would steal your mind
Performing tests on all mankind.
Into the darkness I still stare
And watch for aliens waiting there.

And so it’s been - the darkness wins,
The light goes off, and my mind spins.
Creating creatures in the night
That disappear by the morning light.

Last night I stumbled down the hall
Intent on answering nature’s call
And when I glanced into the mirror,
My reflection was just one pale blur.

For my trifocals help me out,
So I can see my way about.
If in the darkness, I did stare,
I’d not see anything waiting there.

Hmmm . . .
What you can't see won’t hurt you, right?
Shhh . . . I’m turning off the light.

Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot
With Poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thoughts.
Perhaps a grin?
So all of us, together, we
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you've read what we have wrought . . .
Did we help?
Or did we not?


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