Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Not-So-Sound Raisoning

It only LOOKS delicious . . .
I love raisins.
Especially in trail mix.
Or coated in chocolate.
I should probably point out, here, that coating in chocolate is not really an accurate test of raisin love.
If you coated a hubcap in chocolate, I'd eat it.
Moving on . . .
I did not always love raisins. (Even now, I prefer my cinnamon buns and other baked treats to be raisin-less.)
It wasn't until after I was married that I learned to appreciate them.
There is a reason for that . . .
My brother, George, is two years older than I. Throughout our growing-up years, his prime responsibility was the teasing of his younger sister.
He practised his craft at every opportunity.
And became very good at it.
One day, our mom made cookies. Something she did a lot.
On this particular occasion, she had produced mounds of raisin cookies.
They were spread out temptingly across the table.
The aroma drew my brother and I from the depths of the house.
“Mmmm. Raisin cookies,” George said. He turned to me. “I knew that Mom was going to make raisin cookies today.”
“You did?” I asked innocently.
“Yep. I did,” he said.
“Did Mom tell you?”
“You can tell by the smell?”
“Partially. But that's not the real reason.”
“Well, I give up. How did you know?”
He leaned towards me, a big grin on his face. “I knew Mom was going to bake raisin cookies because I saw her picking the raisins off the fly-paper at the back door.”
And from that moment on, in fact for the next twenty years, George had all of the raisin goodies that emerged from Mom's kitchen to himself.
Smart cookie.

P.S. He also tried to convince me that my rice was moving.
But that is another story . . .
He only LOOKS cute

Friday, March 26, 2021

Hobbying Along


I’ve had some hobbies in my life,

They gave me calm from daily strife,

But through the years, those hobbies changed,

Through different genres, they did range.


When I was very, very young,

My hobbies, largely, were unsung,

Consisted of my toys. And me,

Of horseback riding, scraping knees,


Then, when I was ‘bout 8 or so,  

I changed things up, began to grow,

Discovered Nancy Drew. And books,

And Lego building had me hooked.


My horses took a larger role,

Chasing cows and bending poles,

And books and writing (when indoors

And finished with the daily chores).


When I was wed, what a surprise,

To find that cooking for my guy,

Was something that I liked to do,

From roasts of beef to chicken stew.


Then, with our babies, we soon found,

To associ-ate kept us spellbound,

And nothing mattered more than they.

That ‘hobbie’ surely made our days!

For them, I learned to knit and sew,

Days filled with crafts and punching dough,

Observing Big Bird on ‘The Street’,

With snuggle hugs and kisses sweet.


But they all grew, as children do,

Married, moved, bid us adieu,

And so my hobbies morphed again,

To writing books—of joy. Or pain.


These days, I write, or read, or bake,

Still have Lego, puzzles make,

Play games with Husby, movies, too,

(With caution, sometimes watch the news.)


But we’ve discovered something great,

A fad to which we both relate,

It takes a coat and comfy shoes,

And paths along which you can cruise.


Yes, walking is our passion, new,

We take our Pandy, see the views,

And as we walk and breathe fresh air,

We solve the world’s problems there.


At times, it is especially fine

With our sweet grandkids, so divine,

We take them places we have been,

And show them things that we have seen.


Though my hobbies morphed therein,

Dependent on the time I’m in,

My fav-ou-rites, I do avow,

Are the ones that I am doing now!

Each month from Karen, we accept,

A challenge to our gifts adept,

A theme she gives, a poem we craft,

Write draft on draft on draft on draft.

(Please, I’m just kidding, one’s enough

To prove that we’ve all got The Stuff.)

So now we all present to you

What we have made for your review!

Karen at Baking in a Tornado

Mimi at Messymimismenaderings

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Tiny Bit of Courage

It's bigger on the inside...
We visited the Horne Lake caves on Vancouver Island near where our middle son lives.
Getting ready.
The area is beautiful and the caves undeveloped and natural, which we found exciting.
But I learned something unexpected from the experience.
Let me tell you about it . . .
We went, first of all, for our son, who has Tourette’s and suffers from anxiety.
The fact that he acceded to our wishes to explore the caves is a testament to his courage, his trust in us and/or his very good team of health professionals.
Things started out well.
We donned our protective gear and mugged for a couple of pictures. Then our guide started out with us trailing (pun intended) along behind him down the forest path. A couple of young women were in our group just ahead of us and when we got to the very narrow cave opening, the one put up her hands and said, “Nope. Can’t do it.” They were guided to a secondary cave a short distance away. One without the ‘turn-sideways-and-suck-in-your-gut’ entrance.
I followed the guide, a little anxious for my son coming along behind me.
But then we reached the first cave and there he was. (Handsprings are not encouraged inside these caves. Just FYI.)
I had to keep my celebrating to a “Well done, Son!” and a smile.
We continued on through the ‘mud room’ and the ‘boulder room’ and the ‘crystal room’.
A lot of rooms.
Crouching and sliding to get from some to others.
And still my son stayed with us.
Sometimes even leading.
We saw rock formations that flowed and dripped.
Myriad colours and shapes and sizes.
Were told ‘not to touch that!’ or ‘Ooh, feel how cold this is!’
Lots of things to look at and experience.
A couple of times, I saw my son look upward toward the sky of stone above us.
I did the same.
Then realized that things down below were lots more interesting if I didn’t think about the tons and tons (and tons) of rock hanging over our heads.
We made it through, unscathed and perhaps a little more knowledgeable than when we had gone in.
And with an increased respect for my son’s courage.
But then I thought of something else.
Something that was only peripherally related to the caves we had just explored . . .
Those caves were like our little piece of our world.
There is much that is scary hanging over our heads. Crime. Terrorism. Natural disasters. Disease.
We could allow this to paralyze us and keep us from going forward.
Or we can maintain our focus and simply carry on. Not let fear stop us.
Keep on exploring.
Keep on living.
Which do you choose?

Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Not for the shy or faint of heart . . .
Recently, there has been a lot of press about women nursing their babies.
Usually, because it has been carried to extreme lengths.
I nursed my babies.
And loved doing it.
But this isn't a commentary about that.
Though it is about 'extremes'.
Maybe I should explain . . .
A veterinarian friend of my father's had stopped in for a chat.
An immigrant from the UK, he was very fond of his tea.
My father offered him a cup.
Uncharacteristically, he declined. With a slight shudder.
Dad stared at his friend. What could possibly have put Dr. Ilovemytea off his favourite beverage?
The friend realized that he had aroused Dad's curiosity and an explanation was in order. He told Dad that he had just come from a vet call to a farm at the furthest border of his practice. 'Out in the sticks', you might say. His veterinarian business had been concluded.
And successful.
Hoping to prolong what was, to her, the highlight of a normally solitary day, the woman of the household had invited Dad's friend into her front room for a visit. She had recently given birth to a fine son and was anxious to share her story with someone.
All was well.
She and the baby were thriving. Baby was nursing well and growing rapidly.
The woman offered the doctor a quick cup of tea before he began the long trek back to town.
Happily, he accepted.
The tea was brewed.
The woman brought it in and set it in front of her guest. “Would you like milk?” she asked.
Dad's friend said that, indeed, yes, he would love milk.
Whereupon (good word) the woman flipped out a breast and squirted some milk into the doctor's tea.
He blinked. Well . . . at least it was fresh.
As the story unfolded, Dad burst into laughter.
“So, did you drink it?” he asked his friend.
“Of course,” the doctor said.
“How was it?”
“Well, it tasted just fine,” he said. “Tasted fine.  But put me off a bit.”
Tea, anyone?

Monday, March 22, 2021

Someone’s History

I love writing poems, it’s true,

And crafting words, a lot, a few,

Today the world agrees with me,

In honouring all poetry!

The building beckoned, as they do,

With thoughts of finding something new.

I dropped the gate and rode on o’er.

Excited just to go explore.


What I thought was an abandoned barn

A stout refuge from storm, or harm,

Was definitely something more,

A house, a home. From years before.


Now without windows; shingles, too,

The door hung on one hinge, askew.

Old rubble did the floors pollute,

And glass was crunching ‘neath my boots.


A stove, a one-time work of art.

Inclusive of the nickel part,

Now lay supine and punctured, split.

Some reprobate had blasted it.


I wondered, “Could I haul it back?

And save it from its sad attack?

Then fix, repair and retrofit

And somehow make the best of it?”


But realized, as people do,

There was no way I could renew.

And sadly turned away; To find,

Another treasure left behind.


In one old bedroom near the stair,

Some boxes of old letters there.

I sat down on the dusty floor

Soon deep in lives lived long before.


I tucked away the words of love,

And climbed up to the floor above.

To find more boxes neatly stored

With clothes and magazines galore.


But, though the find was truly grand,

I daren’t try to touch—with hand.

For absent panes allowed, unchecked…

With pigeon poop was all bedecked.


Then, at the rafters did I stare,

Some ancient denim dangled there,

So long forgotten by someone,

Tossed and left when work was done. 


Moved over to the window then,

Looked out upon the fields again.

I thought about this home, bereft.

Why they came. And why they left.


It once had shone with tender care

As proved by what was left in there.

Abandoned. Those who worked and played,

As from the landscape did they fade.


Was death a reason? Poverty?

Had fortune kicked them to their knees?

Old age? Illness? Life’s sad flaws?

I sighed. There must have been a cause.


As I rode home, my thoughts askew,

Considering the old. And new.

So grateful to have chanced to see,

A glimpse of Someone’s History.

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 while we hunt and pick,
We’ll talk of Something on a Stick.

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
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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