Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, February 20, 2021

A Borrowed Hammer

 I love ancestor stories . . .

The Council House was being built in Manti, Utah, using volunteer labour.
And borrowed tools.
My Great Great Grandfather (hereinafter known at GGGrandfather) Jeremiah Stringam was one of those labourers.
With one of those borrowed tools.
In this instance, a hammer, lent to him by his friend, Augustus Dodge.
GGGrandfather, together with the rest of the crew, was busily laying flooring on the upper level of the mostly-finished building when the call came for lunch.
Setting the hammer down, he happily answered said call.
When he returned, he discovered that everyone had not left when he did, but had continued working.
And the entire floor had been finished.
In dismay, he looked over the beautiful job, knowing that, somewhere under those boards, was the hammer he had borrowed.
Yeah. I know. That happens to things I borrow, too.
Back to my story . . .
He found Augustus and told him his dilemma. He added, “If you’re around when that building is demolished, I guess you can claim your hammer.”
Moving ahead . . .
In 1910, fifty-plus years and a new century later, the Council House was scheduled for removal to make way for a spanking new library.
GGGrandfather, now an elderly man, heard the exciting announcement and went to observe the proceedings.
When the time came for the floor in the upper story to be removed, he was on hand to personally examine the space under every board as it was pulled up.
And finally, there it was.
Augustus Dodge’s borrowed hammer. Safe and sound.
There's a lesson in this.
Always return what you borrow.
Even it it's centuries later.
P.S. I wonder what the fine would be on that 'library book'?!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Washed. And Red


In Canada, we have SEASONS.

I emphasize the word because some of them are extreme.
Particularly our winter.
But during the shoulder seasons (Spring and Fall), it isn’t unusual to see four different kinds of weather in one day.
We can go from sun to rain to snow to hail. All during one lunch hour.
There is a saying: If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.
I have a reason for telling you this.
All this weather is hard on vehicles.
Those trusty steeds that must weather . . . the weather.
They get—for want of a better term—filthy.
Okay, yes, we have car washes.
A plethora (Ooh! Good word!) of them.
And, for the few minutes of every sunny day, they are CROWDED.
So one has to be ready and able to head to the nearest car wash at a moment’s notice.
People with children and schedules may wait months to get a place in line.
Enough background . . .
DIL had taken her family to the library so her kids could sled down the library hill with their father.
And, as the day was sunny, took the opportunity to get into line for the car wash.
She returned sometime later to pick up her breathless and weary, but exhilarated family.
She bundled up her smallest daughter and packed her to the car.
As they approached, her daughter asked, loudly, “Where is our car?”
Her mother pointed to the shiny red beauty in front of them. “Here it is.”
Her daughter looked at it, then at her mother. “Our car is red?!”
Yeah. Wash your cars.
You may be surprised at what you find...

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Way Past Speeding

I'm quite sure this flashed past.
And I do mean flashed.
We teenagers in Milk River lived an hour from the bright lights of Lethbridge.
Let me start again. 
Everybody in Milk River lived an hour from Lethbridge.
The teenagers . . . a little less.
Maybe I should explain . . .
It was Friday night.
The only theatre in Milk River was showing something that none of my group was interested in seeing.
It happened occasionally. 
Now that we were old enough to legally drive, we were becoming less and less enamoured with what our small town offered and more and more interested in what we could find in the big city.
Twice as many choices for movie-watching, for example.
The only problem on this particular evening was our timing.
We had decided, en masse, that the movie we were all assembled to see was far less interesting than one of the choices currently running in Lethbridge.
And we had decided this while we were standing on the sidewalk, waiting to get in.
Half an hour before either movie was set to start.
Could we make it?
Our driver of the evening gave a nonchalant shrug of the shoulder and a flippant toss of the head. “Of course!”
That was all we needed.
We, ten of us, piled – and I do mean piled – into his car. Four in front. Six in back.
Seatbelts hadn’t been invented yet.
And we were off.
We cleared the town limits, then our driver ‘buried the needle’.
And that’s when the reality of the situation hit me.
What we were doing went beyond speeding.
I’m quite sure we were flying.
At one point, I think I glimpsed Saturn.
I should probably point out, here, that I don’t like traveling at high speeds. In fact, horse and cart is my usual form of transportation. And let’s face it, Old Bessy really wouldn’t make much of a showing on the Indianapolis circuit.
Back to my story . . .
I was so terrified that I spent the entire trip flat on my stomach on the back floor under everyone’s feet. It was the safest place I could think of.
Once I poked my head above the seat and stared in awe at the needle. 
Which was flat against the little pike at the bottom of the speedometer.
How do you say ‘yikes’?
Oh, right. 
We made it safely.
In twenty-four minutes.
The only casualty was my equilibrium.
I don’t even remember what the movie was.
Can anyone say ‘irony’? We took our lives in our hands for a movie that none of us can even remember. The very essence of being a teenager.
But if any of my grandkids try this . . .

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Sweet Ride to Morningtown

Have you ever felt that if your life winked out tomorrow that would be all right with you?
Because you know that you would be remembered?
Well, that just happened to me.
To understand how I’ve arrived at this conclusion, you have to know this:
That our family has its ROUTINES when it comes to bedtime.
Set in stone.
Don’t mess with this.
There will be cosmic significance.
Allow me to describe said ROUTINE . . .
There are several steps beginning with the Bath and the all-important choosing and donning of the PJs. Then the nearly as important bedtime snack (or three) followed by the brushing-of-the-biters. (Probably the least favourite part of the whole getting-ready-for-bed routine.) Once the teeth are shiny, we have prayers, story reading and lights out.
Then the song.
The culmination of the whole sequence.
This song, like the story and prayer, can vary, depending on the mood of the child.
It just doesn’t.
For this part, you need a bit of background . . .
When our oldest grandchild was two, she had her first sleep-over with Gramma and Grampa. Gramma sang Gramma’s favourite ‘sleepy’ song, Morningtown Ride.
And, unwittingly created a legacy.
Now every grandchild, whether going to sleep at Gramma’s or at home, has to have Morningtown Ride sung.
At least once.
How do I know this?
During a holiday, our DIL, Barb, was putting her two youngest chicklets to bed.
And suddenly, from their bedroom came the familiar words Train whistle blowing . . .
Later, DIL explained that every one of her children—and their cousins—have to have that song sung every night.
It was truly brought home during a ‘cousin’s sleepover’ (pre Covid). Gramma was putting all the younger girls, and one boy, ages 6 to 10) to bed. When it was time for the culminating song, the unanimous choice was (you guessed it) Morningtown Ride. When Gramma started to sing, six little voices joined in. (And then carried on alone because Gramma was crying.) 
Yep. Gramma could die tomorrow.
And she’d be remembered.
Wanna hear the song?  Morningtown Ride

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Muffet Conundrum

First of all, a little background...
Little Miss Muffet, Sat on a tuffet, Eating her curds and whey, Along came a spider, And sat down beside her, And frightened Miss Muffet away. Just FYI, I can’t claim this little ditty…

 But I’ve always loved it. And you know why? Because that little girl could have been me. Yep. I love cottage cheese. And hate spiders. Both of which feature rather strongly in this sweet little tale of gluttony and cowardice.

Let’s look into the story, shall we? Examine it with just a little more depth? Because don’t you just love to lift the skirts and get to the petticoats of a story? Hmmm…maybe that’s an unfortunate way to put it.

Miss Muffet, (We’ll call her Agnes, shall we?) was a happy, cheerful little girl. Full of hopes and dreams. Perhaps just a bit more of the latter than was practical, but, let’s face it, she was only just past six.

Her days were spent either in her pretty little bedroom, playing with her numerous toys or in the garden, having Adventures. (Notice the capital ‘A’ in adventures? That’s cause they were Amazing!) There, she was limited only by her imagination.

Oh, and by spiders. Well, most bugs. But especially spiders. Because they had so many spiky, hairy legs. And were just so…crawly. With a knack for showing up at awkward and unexpected moments. And in the wrong (ie: close) proximity.

One fine day, Agnes was playing with her puppy, Dribble (named by her normally placid father following a rather unfortunate episode involving a too small puppy bladder and Papa’s bedroom carpet), or ‘The-Right-Honorable-Poopsie-the-Third’ as he was in this story.

The two of them had just conquered ‘Mount Olympus’ (Agnes’ nanny had been reading to her from the Big Book of Greek Myths. That Hercules. Am I right? Yow.) and were in the process of much celebratory eating and drinking.

Okay, yes, in the myths, said eating and drinking included such things as wine. And wine poured over roasted meats. Definitely some wine-soaked bread. And cheese. Agnes was six. From that menu, her choices were extensively limited. Ummm…yeah.

Sooo…cheese. In this story, like Agnes, said cheese was in its infancy, before all the sweet stuff has been squeezed out and the whole lot aged. (ie: grown up). In modern terms, cheese from the farmer’s own kitchen. Or…cottage.

Agnes loved it. In fact, most mornings/afternoons/evenings, one could find Miss Agnes seated on her favourite low stool (or tuffet for those who don’t have access to Wikipedia) with a tasty little bowl of the stuff. And a spoon.

Many a triumph had been celebrated to its creamy, clarion call. Many a defeat drowned. Many an Adventure summarily interrupted. And always, the sweet rapture of that first delectable taste. The soft, melting curd. The salty tang of the whey.

Agnes had just seated herself prettily on her tuffet—heels and knees together. Head up, spine straight and shoulders back (This was the 1800’s after all) and received her little bowl of tasty, delicious-ness. Wasting no time, she tucked in.

And that’s when Dribble started to whine. Now, at first, Agnes assumed (not surprisingly), that what had pressed her little dog into vocalizing was that innate ‘doggins’ desire: food. In fact, Agnes' instinctive, effective, corrective spoon had already been raised.

Then Agnes realized Dribble’s sharp brown eyes were not—as per usual—trained on his mistress’ treat. Rather, they were watching something…beside her. Now I don’t know about you, but when someone is alarmed about something ‘beside’ me, I...react.

Agnes lowered her spoon and slowly turned to see what it was Dribble was so doggily concerned about. She sucked in a breath. A spider. Making its spiky, hairy-legged way across the tuffet in her direction. Panic was decidedly indicated.

Now you may picture an elegant departure from said tuffet, heels and knees together and spine straight. Myself, I’m going with a bowl shooting straight into the air, skirts and petticoats flying as a screaming little girl disappears somewhere spider-less.

Little Miss Muffet may have lived in the 1800’s, but I’m a modern 2021girl. And BTW, what’s with those skirts and petticoats? I think I’ll picture her in dusty jeans and slightly muddy boots and with a spunky, can-do attitude.

In fact, I think I’ll stick with my Daddy’s version of the story: Little Miss Muffet, Sat on a tuffet, Eating her curds and whey, Along came a spider, And sat down beside her...So she squashed it with her spoon.



'Word Counters' is a totally fun once-a-month challenge featuring a specific number of words. No more. No less.

This month’s number was: 40

Chosen by our intrepid leader, Karen of Baking In A Tornado

Ready to explore some more?

Hop over to the other amazing participants!

Karen of Baking in a Tornado

Mimi of Messymimis Meanderings

Monday, February 15, 2021

Through Our Pets' Eyes


My sweet Pandy-girl. Who saves me every day.

Do you ever wonder what fur babies think?

When they’re around us, do they reckon we stink?

If we’re standing there, naked, and they stop and stare,

Are they wondering how we stay warm with no hair?

And rolling in things that we people condemn,

Do they snigger and smile cause there’s more just for them?

When we throw a ball for them, day after day,

Do they shake their heads wond’ring how it gets away?

When we go for a walk, are they just helping out,

Making sure that we’re healthy while moving about?

And watching us eat with those big, solemn eyes,

Do they simply ensure that no problems arise?

When we stare at a screen for the hours on end,

Are they thinking, “You’re rotting your brain, my dear friend!”

When they poke with the nose or lay down on the keys,

Are they saying that we need a break? (If you please!)

And when they refuse to respond when we call,

Merely pointing out what we would do, is banal?

Do they spend their lives trying to make us behave?

With the hope that so doing will Master’s life save?

Extending their lives with our caring and fuss…

Have you thought that they’re doing the same thing to us?

Cause 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 JennyCharlotteMimi, me
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you’ve read what we have wrought…
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Check next week with us, you'll see

Our favourite word that starts with 'D'!


Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?

We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...

Favourite Word that Starts With D (February 22)

Peanut Butter Day (March 1)

Be Nasty Day (March 8)

Pi(e) Day (what else would it be?) (March 15)

World Poetry Day (March 22)

Something on a Stick Day (March 29)

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Read it! You know you want to!

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