Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Pole Dancing

The Behemoth
Things move.
Big things.
They move.
I have proof.
On the ranch, we had a large power/light pole.
Firmly planted.
It had been there since the beginning of time.
So . . . for quite a while.
It stood in the very center of the turn-about.
People driving in would go around it, conduct their business and complete the turn as they drove out.
Unless you lived there.
Then you would have to drive in and park.
Preferably somewhere out of the way so the next person would have a place to drive in and turn.
At times it got a little . . . tricky.
I lived there.
I had parked.
I needed to leave.
This entailed backing the van up, manoeuvring into the lane, then completing the turn to head out.
I should probably point out here that our van could quite easily have been described as a behemoth (good word!). It held 12 passengers.
Or two parents and six children, neatly spaced to avoid argument-age.
Well to try to avoid argument-age.
Well . . . never mind.
I loaded in the kids.
I sorted out the first argument.
I started the van.
I sorted out the second argument.
Good so far.
The third argument started.
I began to unknot that disagreement just as I stepped on the gas.
The van reversed, as it should.
Straight back.
All of us inside were concentrating on the ongoing conversation.
None of us (ie. me) noticed the pole directly behind the van.
Well, not until we (ie. me) smacked into it.
I pulled ahead and got out to survey the damage.
The bumper had a lovely crease in it, bending it towards the van and forming a point that made it impossible to open the back door.
Double oops.
Later, when I showed my husband, he laughed, shook his head and simply sawed the top point off the dent. Just enough so the door would clear it.
But leaving the dent for all to see.
The conversation went like this . . .
Husby: "Honey, didn't you see the pole? The large one that has been standing in the center of the yard since forever?"
Me: "Ummm . . . I don't know how to answer that question."
Husby: "You did know about the pole, didn't you?"
Me: "Ummm . . . yes?"
Husby: "You did see it?"
Me: "Well, it was like this . . . I was backing out carefully . . ."
Husby: "Yes?"
Me: "And then . . . that nasty old pole just jumped behind me!"
Husby (with just the right amount of skepticism): "Jumped."
Me: "Yes."
Husby: "Right out of the ground."
Me (getting into my story): "Yes. It was the weirdest thing!"
Husby: "I'm going to go lie down."
True story.
P.S. Cuba, the country, has also been known to move. But that is another story.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Flushed with Excitement

Husby and me. Don't look closely . . .
I told him not to laugh.
But he did.
I married him anyway . . .
It was a bright and sunny Tuesday.
But not just any Tuesday.
This was Tuesday, the 27th of April, 1976.
You may wonder why that particular date is etched so clearly in my mind...?
You have a right to know.
It was exactly four days before my wedding.
Four frenzied days of frenetic functions beFore falling into fluffy, feathery fantasy.
(Hmmm...That was sorta fun...)
Four days that I needed to be--healthwise--at my very, very best.
The day started out well.
I climbed out of bed.
I felt a bit more tired than usual, but, with all I had been doing, wasn’t surprised.
I plopped heavily into my seat and stared at my plate as Mom bustled around, setting platters of steaming deliciousness on the table.
Grace was said.
And oblivious-ness set in as people dove for whatever was nearest.
Soon we were all chewing happily.
Mom passed someone a bowl of potatoes and looked at me. “So what have you got planned...?” she stopped, mid-sentence, and stared at me. “Diane? Are you all right?”
I looked at her.
She got up and moved around the table to me. “You look . . . flushed.”
I shrugged.
She placed a cool hand on my forehead. “You feel a bit warm.”
“I’m tired, but I feel all right,” I said, feeling a slight feathering of alarm.
She tipped my head back and looked at my throat.
“Oh, my word!” she said. “Mark, look at this!”
“What?” I said. “What’s wrong?”
Dad leaned over the table and peered at my neck. “Oh, my!” he said.
Okay, I was thoroughly alarmed by this point. “What?” I said. Did I grow an extra appendage in the night? Did I suddenly get a whisker? Or worse . . . a zit???!!!
Mom sat back on her chair and sighed.
“Diane, I’m pretty sure you have the measles.”
Whaaa...? I jumped up and ran to the closest mirror.
Sure enough, my neck and the lower half of my face were a mottled mass of tiny, red pinpricks. So many of them that, at first, they resembled a rosy flush on my skin. Only on closer inspection did they morph into what they actually were.
I. Had. The. Measles.
Four days before I was going to be married.
My life was over.
Mom bundled me up and hauled me into the doctor’s office. Where our local medical professional confirmed our suspicions.
German measles.
I dragged myself home. How could this be happening to me? Weren’t the measles a childhood disease?
And wasn’t childhood  . . . sort of . . . behind me?
I placed a call to my Husby-To-Be at his work.
Our conversation went something like this:
“Hi, Honey! How’s work?” *soft sob*
“Great! How are you doing?”
“Well . . . I have something to tell you . . .”
Slightly alarmed Husby-To-Be voice. “What is it? What’s the matter?!”
“Well . . . promise you won’t tell anyone. And that you won’t laugh . . .”
“Umm . . . okay . . .”
“I . . . have the  . . . German measles.”
A short pause, while he took in my news. Then, “Bwahahahahahaha!” (Sound of phone being dropped.) And Husby-To-Be moving through the office, telling every one of his co-workers.
Okay, which part of ‘don’t tell anyone’ and ‘don’t laugh’ did he not get?
We did get married.
I was totally fine. Except that in some of our photos, particularly the close-ups, you can see the barest hint of a red flush.
People simply dismiss it as evidence of excitement.
Now you know.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

In With Pigs

Daddy and me.
Do any of the rest of you see the irony here?
Okay, I wasn’t supposed to do it.
And I knew I wasn’t supposed to do it.
But that just made it all the more fun.
Maybe I should explain . . .
On the Stringam ranch, behind the *shudder* chicken coop was the pigpen.
It was rather off the beaten track, tucked in as it was.
A destination in itself.
A perfect location for hijinks when the horses were out and everything else possible had been explored/done.
And boredom was threatening to set in.
Or one was feeling adventurous.
One could climb the fence. Slide into the shadow of the shelter. Pause there.
And pick out a victim co-conspirator.
I should point out here that pigs are very sociable and curious creatures.
When something – or someone – is introduced into their world, they immediately converge to give it a sniff.
And a taste.
And they love to be scratched.
Back to my story . . .
All I had to do was sit there until all of the pigs swarmed me.
Scratch a couple.
And (this is the forbidden part) climb aboard one.
The pig would snort and scamper (yes, scamper) across the pen to the far side.
And, if one were lucky enough to still be aboard, back again.
Okay, yes, the fun was decidedly fleeting.
One’s raging father could – and usually did – appear.
How did he do that?
But there he would be, with hands on hips and the heated glare that only an angry father can summon, as his newly-repentant child silently slid off the pig and exited the pigpen.
Our subsequent conversations usually went something like this:
Dad: Diane! I’ve told you and told you not to ride the pigs! You could injure them. And they get all excited and don’t gain weight.
Me: Look Dad! I fell in the poop!
Yeah. Let’s just cross rocket scientist off that future occupations list.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


Just a word of warning: Treating your appliances like people maybe be hazardous to your health. And to your sleep patterns. And also: I think talking to my Roomba may have given him sentience.

I had just fallen asleep. You know, that deep, deep ‘first sleep’ wherein you are someplace warm and delicious and wish you could stay forever. Usually, the time when your kids wake you up…

Now my chicks are grown and we seldom have our chicklets here midnight skulking. So we’ve grown accustomed to uninterrupted sleep. (Well, barring the bathroom polka, which urge can hit at any time.) Ahem…

Suddenly, my intercom went off. The one on my phone that Husby and I use when neither of us wants to negotiate stairs and his office is down and mine is up. That intercom.

I came out of my delicious (see above) state with a gasp. Then grabbed the phone. “Hello?” Hello?” Crickets. Now you should know that using our handy-dandy intercom necessitates holding one of our handsets.

So someone had to be in the house. Holding said phone. And pressing the ‘intercom’ button. At 1:30 in the morning. Someone who was NOT Husby (who was still snoring away happily) or me.

Clutching the phone as a weapon, I opened our bedroom door and peered out into the hall. Silence. Well, near silence. I could hear Buddy (my Roomba) happily working away under cover of darkness.

A little side note: Recently, Buddy has taken to waking up at 12:40 AM to do his business. No amount of poking or programming will change his mind. Husby and I have just adjusted.

Turning on lights as I went, (Hey, I watch the movies—the bad things always happen because some doofus didn’t turn on the lights!) I moved toward the sound emanating from the front room.

And there I found Buddy. Trapped between the chair and the table and the wall. He had somehow managed to bump the phone onto the floor and was ramming it repeatedly into the wall.

Trapped and needing rescue, Buddy had dialed me! All was explained. Rolling my eyes, I punched his button. “Go to sleep!” He instantly obeyed. I put the phone away and headed back to bed.

Then lay there wide awake. Now that Buddy had figured out how to contact me, what else could I expect? Further demands for aid? Requests for midnight pizza? Dating advice? I’m a little worried.

Each month our intrepid little group accepts a challenge. Of numbers. This month our challenge came from Mimi of Messymimi’sMeanderings and the number was 34.
How did I do?
Now go and visit the others!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Small But Mighty

If you could be an animal, what is it you would choose?
A lion with his heavy mane, a sloth who likes to snooze?
Perhaps a horse who runs so fast, a monkey in a tree?
How about a dolphin playing games of tag at sea?
Mayhap a shaggy bear? They eat most everything that’s seen--
Go sleep the cold months all away and wake up really lean!
Sometimes, I think a great gazelle, cause they run really fast,
Or perhaps a spotted cheetah, watch me as I blow right past!
An eagle flying overhead and looking down on all?
Would you choose an elephant? Or something rather small?
Now here’s the point that I would make: A bug’s not on the list,
At the bottom of the food chain, they’re the ones that just exist,
Look at all the ants, we humans see them as a pest,
And do the things we can to kill or tear apart their nests,
Getting squished or poisoned if they stray beyond their grounds,
Trying hard to live their lives where they cannot be found.
Is it any wonder that an ant I would not be?
I’m sure you see my point and likely with me you agree…
But here’s a thought I had not factored in the very least,
Thought the ant is very small, he is a hearty beast,
And every one can carry ‘most a hundred times their weight,
In food and lots of yummy stuff, to put upon their plate,
And then the thought struck me: In food, a HUNDRED TIMES MY WEIGHT?
I’ll be an ant. Stand back! I’m heading for the choc-o-late!

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?

 Next week it's 'leaves' for those who care,
Good-bye for now, we'll see you there!

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