Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, March 20, 2021

A Lollipop Ship

Where memories are made...
It was just a routine trip to the local recreation centre.
Something we did often when our kids were small.
Who knew it would result in someone’s fondest memory . . .?
With six children and one income, Husby and I had to choose our family entertainment carefully.
We went to a lot of free things.
We did manage Adventure Food (any nationality other than Canadian) once a month. And for our big splurge, we bought an Attractions Pass. A valuable little tool that gave us admittance to any of Edmonton’s many parks and attractions as well as every one of the numerous swimming pools.
We went swimming every Saturday night.
That way, they were all entertained, played out, and bathed and clean for Sunday morning.
Yeah. I’m just clever that way . . .
Earlier one Saturday afternoon, we changed things up a bit and took the clan to the Kinsmen Recreation Centre instead of our usual Millwoods Wave Pool.
The kids were excited at the prospect of a new pool.
And their Dad and I were excited to have them excited.
Let me describe the swimming part of the center as it looked then: There was the large tank, with swimming lanes, for the serious swimmer. The diving tank for the serious diver. (Note: this pool has been used for competition diving as well as for shooting movies. Interesting, right?) The warm-up tank--also used for lane swimming and family groups and toys. And the smallest tank. Shallow. Warm. For families with young children.
Our family instantly separated into three pools.
Husby had the three youngest in the ‘baby’ pool, I had our middle son in the middle pool, and the two eldest disappeared to try out the diving boards.
The middle tank was the most interesting to me. It had large floating toys perfect for family fun.
I had my son in a ‘coracle’ (a small, circular boat) and was pushing him around.
And singing.
Because that’s what I do.
Did you know there’s a song for nearly every activity?
Well, it’s true.
In this case, the music of choice was “The Good Ship Lollipop”.
We swam/floated back and forth for much of the afternoon. He lying relaxed in the little boat. Me, pushing and singing.
Then we fished everyone out, showered them off, and headed home.
It had been a pleasant afternoon, one that I was to tuck away with my memories of other pleasant afternoons.
Move forward over thirty years . . .
Husby and I were visiting with our middle son at his home on Vancouver Island. During our stay, we, as per usual, started telling stories.
And talking about favourite memories.
Our son told us his favourite memory of growing up was one day when we went to the Kinsmen pool and I sang ‘On the Good Ship Lollipop’ to him while I floated his little boat back and forth in the water.
Yep. That was his favourite memory.
I realized that when we think we are providing simple entertainment for our children, we are also making memories.
And one of those memories is going to be their favourite.

Friday, March 19, 2021


Now wave! It might be someone we know.
The Stringam Ranch was twenty miles from the Town of Milk River.
For the first ten miles out of town, you were passing through other ranch properties.
So your chances of meeting another motorist were pretty good.
After that, there was just one destination.
The Stringam Ranch.
Any traffic that came out that far needed emergency veterinarian assistance.
Or knew the family and my mom's cooking.
This is a long-winded way of telling you that, on any given trip into town, Dad knew every single driver that we passed.
A cloud of dust would appear on the horizon, growing larger. Finally a small dark spot could be detected, right at the base of said cloud.
The speck grew larger.
And larger.
Finally became recognizable as a vehicle.
Dad would slow down and pull over to the right side of the road.
Because lines hadn’t been introduced into our part of the country. And who could paint a line on dirt anyway?
The other driver would also slow and pull to his right.
The two would give each other a friendly wave.
And continue on.
Whereupon (good word) I would bob up out of wherever.
“Dad! Who was that?”
“That was Mr. Angel.”
I would disappear again.
Another vehicle.
Another wave.
Me bobbing up.
“Dad! Who was that?”
“Mr. and Mrs. Lindeman.”
As we grew closer to town, the vehicles were more numerous.
“Dad! Who was that?”
“Mrs. Swanson.”
I should mention that there was one vehicle that recognized. Even as a four-year-old.
It was an old car, driven very, very slowly.
I don’t remember what year or model though my brother, George, will.
It was driven by a hat.
I am not kidding.
A hat.
A nice men’s hat.
I would stare in astonishment as this particular, peculiar vehicle drove past.
Just a hat.
It was the one time during our entire trip that I wouldn’t bother my dad.
Because I knew who that hat was.
It was Grampa Balog.
After it passed, I would slump down on the seat.
Why couldn’t have a hat for a Grampa?
A hat that could drive cars.
Some kids have all the luck.
Moving ahead many years . . .
I was driving with one of my grandkids.
One of the hundred-or-so cars that we passed was driven by someone I knew.
I waved.
“Gramma! Who was that?”
And I was instantly transported back sixty-plus years.
I was four years old again.
And Daddy knew everyone on the road.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Art of Blurting



Word master. 

I know you’ve done it.

I know I have.
Blurted out something that sounded a whole lot different in your head.
It’s true.
Your brain coughs up a thought.
And hits ‘send’.
Then, somehow, during transition, it gets . . . mixed up.
Maybe exposure to the air changes it.
And it ends up sounding like . . . nothing you intended.
My mom was a master at this.
Example one:
Picture Christmas Eve.
Every available surface in the kitchen groaning beneath seven layers of freshly-baked Christmas delicious-ness.
No supper in sight.
A starving son-in-law, passing the piles of goodies.
Hunger overcomes discretion.
He pops a butter tart into his mouth.
Mom, emerging from the point of action in front of the oven, red-faced and carrying yet another pan of treats, “Don’t eat that! It’s for Christmas!”
Example two:
Mom brings home the good peanut butter.
Not the cheap un-homogenized stuff which allows all of the oil to rise to the top so that the upper layers are too creamy and the bottom layers need to be chiseled out with a hammer then passed through the meat grinder to make them of a consistency to spread.
Which tin, I should mention, is still on the shelf 3/4 full and gathering dust.
Sooo . . . the good peanut butter.
Which is immediately set upon by the ‘finickily-starved’ (I just made that up) peanut butter fiends that inhabit the house.
“I’m going to stop buying that peanut butter. You kids just eat it!”
Mom taught her daughters well.
I, too have had my share of ‘things-said-that-didn’t-come-out-just-right’.
We were discussing a young man of our acquaintance who had been born with weak joints in his hips.
My mother-in-law was cautioning my kids not to jump off the retaining wall in her back garden, citing this young man as an example of ‘damage that could follow’.
I knew that his condition was genetic.
Or congenital.
Which mean the same thing.
What came out was, “Oh, but I thought his condition was genital!”
Wait. Everybody un-hear that!
Just let me suck those words back into my mouth!
Admit it.
It’s happened to you . . .

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Quincy/Bran Muffins

Youngest Daughter was baking muffins with her two-year-old daughter. 
Here is the awesome, amazing recipe. You may want to give it a try...

Bran Muffins with Quincy (2.3 yrs)

1 cup Buttermilk mama pour it
1 cup Wheat Bran
1 Quincy sneeze
Another 1 cup Wheat Bran
Stir them together no don’t lick the spoon
1 cup Flour don’t blow on this
1 tsp Baking Powder I said don’t blow
1 tsp Baking Soda where’s my tsp no take it out of your pants please
1/2 tsp Salt well done
Stir them together where’d you put the spoon?
1/3 cup Oil yuck get your finger out of that
3 tbsp Molasses HAHAHAHA it IS funny
1 Egg stab that yolk 1000 times
1/4 cup Brown Sugar where are you taking the recipe??
1/2 tsp Vanilla I think Quincy can I see the recipe?
Finally, mix all together, throw it in some greased muffins tins, NO DON’T SPRAY THAT, clean kitchen cabinet, clean toddler, never make muffins again.

P.S. If you don't have the Exact Quincy ingredient, this recipe still works by inserting a toddler of your choice...

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

A Sign


Baffin Island Inuksuk

An inuksuk is a manmade stone landmark or cairn found in northern Canada, Greenland, and Alaska and built for use by the Inuit, IƱupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America.

This region has few natural landmarks. The inuksuk were likely used for navigation, reference points, travel route markers, fishing, camps, hunting grounds, places of veneration, drift fences for hunting, or to mark a food cache.

With me so far?  We have a large family. Large. Which means that, until just recently (with the onset of marriages and moving outs), we had to buy our supplies in large quantities. I’m talking five-gallon pails of everything.

 Now, because it was impractical to have those huge containers taking up the rather limited counter-space in one’s kitchen, we stored them in the basement storage room. Then took smaller containers downstairs and filled them. Often.

Case in point: I have a small oil crucible that stores easily in my spice cupboard. Occasionally, when it gets emptied, it is carried down to its big brother in storage and refilled. Simple and practical.

And now we come to the actual story in this…erm…story. I had wrung the last drop out of said oil container. Not wanting to interrupt what I was doing, I set it aside to refill later.

Those who know me, know also that, when I’m cooking, I shouldn’t be interrupted until I’ve finished, or at least until all chances of messing up catastrophically have been eliminated. Just a FYI. Sooo…oil crucible. Empty… 

A short time later, cake safely and happily in the oven and opportunities for disaster largely diminished, I turned. Now was the time for replenishing. I reached for the empty container. Only to find it *gasp* missing. 

I flagged down Husby as he beetled through a few minutes later. “Honey? Did you see my oil container? I left it right here.” “Oh, yeah. I found your inuksuk (see above) and got your message.” 

He pointed. “It’s there.” I opened my spice cupboard to find my container, filled, sitting in its usual place. (Yes, I’m bragging a bit because how many partners see something that needs doing. Then do it?)

My point in telling you this is to explain that inuksuk don’t have to be made of stone and parked somewhere in the frozen tundra. Sometimes they are red plastic with ‘Tupperware’ stamped on the lid. As signposts, they can still get the job done. 

If only one is willing to see.


Real Canadian Inuksuk
Background: Real Canadian

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: each month one of the participating bloggers pick a number between 12 and 74. All bloggers taking part that month are then challenged to write using that exact number of words in their post either once or multiple times.

This month’s word count number is: 36

It was chosen by: Mimi of Messymimi’sMeanderings

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge.

Check them all out! 

Baking In A Tornado                   

Messymimi’s Meanderings

Monday, March 15, 2021

Pi(e). Sigh

On March fourteenth, with happy grins
(And recipes and rolling pins)
Our fam-il-y made pies for all,
(For longer than we can recall),
Until that fateful day last year,
We called off ‘life’ mid death and fear,
And even now, a whole year late,
Though hopeful, we still cannot bake,
And so another year goes by
With nary e’en a smell of pi(e)!

Maybe a story will help me feel better...

When nurses train in Liverpool,

(An awesome place to go to school!)

Too broke, they are, for dining out,

Eat canteen food, or do without.

But sometimes, lucky they will be,

When visitors bring treats for tea,

Cause sometimes extras are bestowed,

On nurses there. (Some thanks to show.)

One day, appeared a lady, sweet,

Held in her hands a special treat,

A pie of pork, aroma fine,

‘Twas clearly meant for some to dine!

The lady held this great pie up,

Said, “Could you ladies ‘eat this up?”

The nurses, all, were very glad,

To keep this pie from going bad.

With appetite, they did succumb,

Devoured it to the last crumb.

Then satisfied, they sat and talked,

When sudden, in the lady walked,

The nurses smiled, a welcome sight,

Tried to thank her just a mite,

She stopped them with a wave and smile,

Said, “I thought it’d take a while,

“But did you ‘eat the pie I brought?

“I’ll take it now if it is ‘ot!”

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 KarenCharlotteMimi, me
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 a tribute, while we play,
We’ll talk of World Poetry Day!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
Pi(e) Day (what else would it be?) (March 15)
World Poetry Day (March 22)
Something on a Stick Day (March 29)
Read a Road Map Day (April 5)
Favorite invention (From Mimi) (April 12)
National Garlic Day (April 19)
The ocean or beach (From Mimi) (April 26)
The best thing about spring (From Mimi) (May 3)


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