Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Thanking the Doctor

Our last Granddaughter but one (or LBO, for short) has lived a large portion of her young life during the pandemic.
Normal, to her, is having both parents at home, walking, or playing or eating with her during every waking hour. And many of the sleeping ones.
Huh. When you look at it like that, it sounds rather idyllic.
Moving on . . .
In the last few weeks, her world has enlarged by one Gramma (and occasionally one Grampa), who appears at the nearest corner for ‘walkies’.
Usually, Gramma is accompanied by one four-footed, rather fuzzy companion.
Both are greeted by eager waving and “Bwa-Bwa!”
We haven’t quite figured out which she is most enthusiastic about, the two-footed, or the four-footed.
And which one is really ‘Bwa-Bwa’.
But I digress . . .
At the completion of every walk, her mama says, “All done walkies, Sweetheart! Say bye-bye to Gramma!”
Followed by many, many blown kisses with sound effects: “Bwa-Bwa! Mwaaaaa! Bwa-Bwa! Mwaaaaa!”
Which continue until Gramma (and companion—see above) are well and truly out of sight.
Now LBO is a very active little girl. Happily busy and curious.
Much like her mother before her.
You know the old adage: a toddler is someone two feet high with an arm reach of eight feet?
Written for her.
Nothing is truly out of her reach.
Including Sister’s Playmobile.
Which contains numerous microscopic pieces.
Some of which fit perfectly into one’s nose.
I’m quite sure you’ve put it together.
Certainly, she did.
Resulting in a late-afternoon visit to the local ER.
And a subsequent request to appear at the Stollery (the world-class children’s medical center in Edmonton) at 9:00 AM the next morning.
Which, in due course, happened.
Poking and prodding with lights and/or cameras were a matter of course.
But to actually facilitate said poking and prodding, restraint was, sadly, necessary.
Resulting in the expected shrieking.
And tears.
Finally, when no little Playmobile piece was discovered (turns out she had sneezed it out unbeknownst to her mama), and the restraints were removed, a very sad little girl prepared to leave.
“All done, Sweetheart!” her mama said. “Say bye-bye to the nice doctor!”
And she did. Between hiccups and sobbing breaths came “Mwaaaaa!” with accompanying blown kisses.
Gracious to the last.
And sometimes, being a doctor does have its rewards.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Mom Song

Mom's favourite picture.
There is a line from a Joe Diffie (yes, I’m a country music fan) song that goes:
Home was a back porch swing where I would sit, 
And mom would sing Amazing Grace, while she hung out the clothes.
That line reminds me of my own Mom.
Mom was always singing. The first thing she did when she entered the kitchen in the morning was switch on the radio.
And hum along with the current favourites while she stirred up breakfast.
Later, radio off; I can picture her with her hands in hot, soapy water, belting out ‘Darling Clementine’.
Or hoeing in the garden to ‘Till We Meet Again’.
It’s amazing how ‘Amazing Grace’ or any number of other songs go along with milking the cows. The rhythm just works.
Folding clothes? That will always remind me of ‘You Are My Sunshine’. When she could convince one of us to join her, sung in two-part harmony.
‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart’ was waltzed with the broom across the kitchen floor.
And what would pea-shelling and bean-snapping be without ‘My Easter Bonnet’?
And early morning without ‘Good Morning, Mary Sunshine’?
Or bedtime without ‘Irish Lullaby’?
Riding out to the cows inevitably brought a rendition of ‘The Old Grey Mare’.
And evenings with the family - at least one chorus of ‘Whispering Hope’, again in harmony.
There are dozens more. I can’t picture Mom without a song in her heart and on her lips.
And her kids all do it, too.
Sing, I mean. While working.
More than once, I got smacked on the back of the head for bursting into song at inappropriate times during school.
It’s been too many years since I heard my Mom sing.
But in my memory, she’s singing still.
The last lines from that same Diffie song are totally appropriate for me: My footsteps carry me away. But in my mind, I’m always going home.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

G of the G

Sometimes, things said shouldn’t have been.
Because sometimes little ears are hearing.
And shouldn’t be.
Let me tell you about it . . .
Mom had invited some of her friends over for tea and a visit.
The house had been scrubbed inside and out.
The kids, ditto.
Furniture had been arranged.
Sighed over.
Okay, admittedly, what was said at this juncture was directed to no one and almost under Mom’s breath.
Just not enough under her breath: “I sure hope Mrs. (name-withheld-because-we-don’t-want-this-to-happen-again-EVER. Or NWBWDWTTHAE, for short) doesn’t choose to sit here. This antique chair of mother’s is pretty delicate and she is so heavy.”
FYI. Just because kids don’t appear to be listening, it doesn’t follow that they aren’t.
Moving on . . .
Little sister was well within hearing.
And understanding.
And . . . eeep . . . recording.
A short time later, the ladies started arriving. Including the aforementioned NWBWDWTTHAE.
The woman hovered uncertainly near the previously-discussed chair.
And that’s when little sister took it upon herself to save the day. Swooping in quickly, she smiled at the woman. “You can’t sit here,” she said in her most authoritative voice. “Because you’re too fat.”
I know you’ve had those occasions when you spoke without thinking. Or when something you said was repeated to the wrong person.
When the embarrassment is so thick and deep you want to just sink through the floor.
Take comfort in knowing that it’s happened to all of us.
To some of us, more than once.
We call ourselves the Girls of the Gaffe.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Smacking the Stop Sign

Ready to Run!

Sometimes, prayers are answered.
Let me tell you about it . . .
For years, I enjoyed my early-morning run.
My family was very supportive encouraging tolerant unconscious of it.
Let’s face it, to fit it in before time to get everyone ready for school, I started before most of them were even awake.
And/or cognizant.
But one of them was watching.
Youngest daughter had just entered the eighth grade. Strong-willed and a little rebellious, she was my chief worry out of six kids.
And, incidentally, one reason for my frequent prayers.
One morning as I was preparing to leave, she appeared.
Running shoes donned.
“Mom? Can I run with you?”
All the reasons why she shouldn’t raced through my mind.
She’d slow me down.
She wouldn’t be able to finish.
She’d get injured.
All of which, I’m happy to say, I ignored.
I nodded. “Sure.”
And we went running.
On the—then—outskirts of our small town, there was a four-kilometer Ring Road. Our house was situated just one house away from this ‘made-for-running’ track. If one followed the road, one inevitably returned to that spot from whence one came.
A few steps and we were off.
Of course we didn’t make it all the way around that first day.
Or the next.
Or any of the days afterward.
In fact, in the four years we ran together (till she graduated high school and went off to college) I think we only made it all the way around once.
But that didn’t matter.
Because what we did do was talk.
And talk.
And talk some more.
And become best friends.
Now, pushing a stroller and with her older daughter bouncing along beside us, we still walk.
No longer do we make a pretense of ‘running’.
Walking is just fine.
And we talk.
And talk.
And talk some more.
It took a while, but I realized finally that the Lord had answered my prayers.

P.S. I’m sure you’re wondering what the title has to do with this story . . .
On the far side of town, at the halfway mark on the Ring Road, is a stop sign, just at the top of the hill.
Every day, our goal would be to make it up said hill and smack said stop sign to signify our triumph.
Because that’s what we had.
In more ways than one.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Truth, Forgiveness...and Chocolate

For those of you following Sally’s stories with me . . .
The story you are about to read is true.
The days, weeks and months of Kindergarten were peaceful. Understandably so because . . . Sally.
And it was really nothing she did . . . well, other than knock a would-be bully onto his can the first day in class. I’m not sure, but I like to think she changed the whole course of his life. And everyone else who witnessed and/or heard.
Who’s with me?
Anyway, the peaceful days continued through the fall and winter and into the spring.
Continued until what is written in the annals of Briercombe Elementary School as ‘The Day of the Doll’.
Here we go . . .
A new girl moved into the area.
A very pretty girl with long, flowing, dark hair by the name of Rachel.
Whose name became . . . Betty.
It shall all be understood . . .
It was soon very clear to the rest of us at ol’ BES that Betty was determined to vie for the position of ‘Top Girl’.
A position held—to date—by no one.
Because it’s elementary school. Geeze.
Before long, Betty (see above) was terrorizing the smaller children. Taking their toys and roughing them up.
Sally and I, engaged with our friends in a cut-throat game of Jacks, heard the scuffles. And indignant outcries.
And the tears.
Sally’s radar went off.
And so did she.
Apparently (because few of us actually saw it from start to finish) Betty had snatched little Miriam’s precious Ava—her doll/constant companion/don’t-anyone-touch-her-or-I-may-faint-and-quite-possibly-die.
With predictable results.
Sweet, golden-haired Ava held high over her head, Betty was dancing around the playground, taunting the much smaller, now copiously-weeping Miriam who was in arm-outstretched pursuit.
Suddenly, the rest of the playground fell silent and parted for the newly-arrived-on-the-scene Sally.
Betty stopped and stared at the red-faced little demon headed rapidly in her direction.
I think she managed to figure out that the tide had turned.
And it wasn’t in her favour.
Clutching the now-forgotten doll, Betty spun about and made a bee-line for the school.
And the principal’s office.
An interesting side note: It was the first (and only) time in the history of BES that a student ran ‘to’ the principal’s office.
But I digress . . .
Sally was right behind her.
With the still-weeping little Miriam, a faint and distant third.
I watched as Betty skidded around the last corner and disappeared into the school.
Now I didn’t actually witness what happened thereafter.
But there were enough reports from students who did that I’ve been able to stitch together a fairly accurate account.
Betty wasted no time asking for directions (it was a small school—finding the principal’s office was really a no-brainer), but simply charged up the hall until she happened upon her feverishly-sought goal.
She dashed in.
And took cover behind the principal’s desk.
And the principal.
Sally simply marched in and stood there, hands on her hips.
The principal looked from one girl to the other. “Erm . . . can I help you girls?”
She was a very polite principal.
Sally just raised an eyebrow in Betty’s direction.
Betty silently held out the doll.
By this time, Miriam had arrived. Still crying.
Sally snatched Ava from Betty and restored her to her rightful owner, who, clutching the doll to her small self, turned and disappeared.
Then Sally turned once more and glared at Betty.
Remember, Sally at this point was still only in kindergarten. So . . . on the shady side of five.
Betty hovered somewhere around the ‘twice-Sally’s-size’ grade three level.
One of them was obviously in charge.
And it wasn’t Betty.
For a moment, the two of them regarded each other. Then, as large tears started welling up in the bigger girl's eyes, Sally grabbed Betty’s hand and pulled her back into the hall. “Hi, Betty. I’m Sally!” she said brightly.
Betty looked at her. “Umm . . . my name’s not . . .”
“Welcome to our school, Betty. You’ll like it here! Have some chocolate.”
I have it on good authority that the principal merely shrugged and went back to what she had been doing.
I expect you’re wondering what happened to Betty?
Well, maybe this will clarify . . .
Earlier this afternoon, a delivery arrived for Sally. A fairly large package that smells deliciously of chocolate.
In the upper ‘sender’s’ corner were the words ‘Rachel. Aka Betty’.
And the addressee?
“To My Very Best Friend EVER”.
Yep. Truth. Forgiveness. And chocolate.
In the same perfect package.

Tuesday, July 7th is Global Forgiveness Day, Tell the Truth Day AND World Chocolate Day. I'm celebrating all of them with my friend!

Karen of Baking In A Tornado: Truth, Forgiveness, and Chocolate
Jenn from Sparkly Poetic Weirdo: Truth, Forgiveness and Chocolate

Monday, July 6, 2020

Summer Light

I give a smile to Mr. Sun,
With his appearance, Winter’s done,
The light and warmth from him are spun,
As life returns to everyone.

And in his light, with joy, I bask,
Surely, this is all I ask,
To close my eyes and tip my flask,
Forget the snow and Winter tasks.

Ooh. See the sunhat I have brought,
And salves. With burns, I won’t get caught,
I’ll do the things I know I ought,
Cause Mr. Sun can be so hot!

So I am at the house herein,
Conditioned air now cools my skin,
So tell me why I wear a grin,
When Mr. Sun returns again?

Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought,
To try to make the week begin,
With gentle 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 . . .


This week our Jenny gave us light,
From which we penned with all our night.
Next week, because they're awesome creatures,
We'll talk about our fav'rite teachers!

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