Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, April 23, 2021

Awakening My OCD

 

The day I realized just how good I had it . . .
For the first twelve years of my life, 'cleanliness' and I really only had a nodding acquaintance.
I admit it.
Oh, I bathed. Whenever my Mom told me to.
And I cleaned my room/living quarters.
Again when my Mom told me.
Mom was a clean nut.
But the Christmas of my twelfth year, something happened that changed me forever.
And made me realize that I like things to be clean around me.
Really clean.
Let me explain . . .
We had been invited to the home of some good friends for dinner.
It was exciting.
Families with six kids didn't get invited out very often.
For purely logistical reasons.
At least that's what I tell myself.
Moving on . . .
We drove up and were warmly welcomed into the house.
We stepped into the entryway.
And, for the first time in my life, I noticed dirt.
The house was filthy.
I mean filthy.
You couldn't tell what colour the floor tiles were, or even if there were floor tiles. I honestly think some of them were missing, but it was hard to know.
We were led to the kitchen, where the grand feast was being prepared.
I stopped in the doorway.
Frozen.
Or stuck.
It was hard to tell the difference.
Both the counter and the table in the kitchen were generously coated in the reminder of many, many meals. And things had obviously overflowed more than a few times and dripped down the front of the cupboards to pool on the floor.
The stove was unrecognizable.
Even the walls were a hazy sort of conglomerate yellow-grey. The result of the overlapping of hundreds of filthy fingerprints, splashed whatever, and humidity.
Light was dimly provided by several bare, yellowed bulbs.
Perhaps that was a blessing.
One couldn't quite make out exactly what the rubble was, lying heaped in the far corners of the room.
And under the table.
My parents stepped carefully and cheerfully into the room, already deep in conversation with our hosts.
"Is there anything we can help with?" Mom said. This was her usual and inevitable response when entering anyone's home.
Or garden.
Or feed lot.
Huh. Feed lots. And cleanliness . . .
But I digress . . .
"Oh, no, Enes, we've got things well in hand," was her response.
Well in hand?!
I'll just keep mine in my pockets, thank you very much.
"Diane, come and help us."
Mom had noticed my hesitation.
But had somehow missed the rising green colour.
"Sorry, Mom. But I think I need to go outside for a moment."
I remember her look.
Suspicion with just a slight touch of concern.
"Are you all right?"
"I'm really not feeling very well."
She came over to me.
I remember the sound of her feet, sticking to the floor with every step.
She put a hand on my forehead.
"Hmm. You seem a little warm. Maybe you'd better join the men in the front room."
The mess went on?
I couldn't bear to venture further.
"No, I really think I'd better go outside."
I was beginning to sound more than a bit rushed.
"Do you need the bathroom, honey?" our hostess asked solicitously.
My eyes widened. I could only imagine.
"Um, no. Just some fresh air."
I bolted towards the door.
And I do mean bolted. I hardly noticed my feet sticking to the floor.
Soon, I was outside in the fresh air.
Happily sitting in the nice clean dirt.
With the family dog.
He and I knew a good thing when we found it.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Happiest Trails

 

Mom
Usually, the first thing we kids in the Stringam home heard in the morning was the kitchen radio.
On a country channel.
This was followed almost immediately by the sound of pots and pans.
And . . . cooking.
We instantly knew that Mom was awake and had taken up her front-line position before the stove.
Good food was imminent.
Even now, fifty-some years later, the sound of a radio in the early morning means good food.
Though I may have to be the one making it.
But I digress . . .
Mom’s radio played throughout much of the day. If it got switched off, her country records would take up our air waves.
I loved it.
Have you ever noticed that much of the old-time country music has a certain . . . beat?
A slow, bomp-ba-dum-dum, bomp-ba-dum-dum beat?
Well it did.
And whenever it came on, I would pretend I was riding a horse.
Across the ‘lone prairie’ of the living room.
The beat was perfect.
I could keep this up for hours.
Or as long as the song lasted.
My favourite was Dale Evans’ song ‘Happy Trails’, sung by Roy Rogers.
I would ride my horse and sing at the top of my voice, “Happy trails to you! Until we meet again. Happy trails to you! Keep smiling until then.”
And, somehow, that song and my Mom became synonymous with each other.
Moving forward many, many years . . .
My Husby and I were in Jasper National Park here in Alberta.
He was attending a conference.
I was  . . . doing other stuff.
Part of my day included a long, lovely swim in the huge pool.
I know, life is tough.
I had finished my laps and was simply lying back in the water, looking up at the perfect eggshell-blue sky and smelling the scent of pine in the fresh air.
A group of men were doing some work on the roof of the great main building next to me.
The sound of saws and hammering quit for an instant.
And an exquisite (can I use that word here?) male voice floated down to me. “Happy Trails to you! Until we meet again.”
He was simply singing while he worked.
I wonder if he noticed the woman in the pool below him.
Crying.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Papa Preparation



 I’m working on a new book! My Mom’s memoirs: glimpses of a rancher’s wife—wife-ing and mother-ing on the vast Southern Alberta prairies. Told through her letters. Today’s is an excerpt. Enjoy!

[Please note: Blogger won't allow me to edit, so the 'letter' format doesn't work right. Just know this is supposed to be a letter!]

 November 29, 1953   Dearest Mark,   I don’t think a life of the care of children, or perhaps even the medical profession is for our Jerry. Oh, he definitely has the enthusiasm. 


He is very attentive to his new little brother. He’s always wanting to help me with the baby. Holding bottles. Or pins and diaper cream whenever I change the little diaper.


 And he seems to have a genius for diplomacy. I watched him a few days ago with Gerhard and Isa’s son, Ulrich, who tends to be quick-tempered. Ulie was really upset about something.


 Jerry simply stood back and waited for the storm to pass, then moved close again and quietly said, “Ulie, how about we do it this way.” Ulie went happily went along.

 

But there is one area in which he’s lacking. Yesterday, I laid the baby down on a blanket on the floor of the front room while I worked in the kitchen.

 

Jerry was nearby, playing quietly, but obviously keeping an unobtrusive eye on his little brother. Suddenly, quite breathless he came running into the kitchen. “Mom!” he shouted. “George . . .”

 

A pause as Jerry’s little stomach rebelled queasily and thoroughly over the floor, “. . . threw up!” See what I mean? Let’s agree to keep him far from bodily wastes.

 

At least until he can clean up his own messes. On a more positive note, I’ve pretty much decided I want to keep the refrigerator. The ice chest had its uses.

 

And, certainly, it was handy to have the ice so close to hand. But confess. Hauling it was a pain—especially trying to get it up out of the ice house.

 

Why is it that every strong male in the vicinity has somewhere far away to be when the women need some ice hauled? That is a critical question for the cosmos.

 

Anyways, I’m grateful for electricity. Even gladder that I have my ‘fridge.  Thank you!                Love, Enes                                                                                                                                                    P.S. The catalogue has amazing appliances that run on electricity. I’ll get back to you.

 

Today is a word challenge!

Once a month a number is declared and everyone scrambles to carve words adhering to that particular number into a document worthy of publication.

Okay, okay…Number chosen. Blogs written.

With me?

This month’s number was 31. And chosen by me!

(There is only one problem, my partner-in-crime posted yesterday. I am a day late—and most definitely a dollar short!)

Go now and see what the punctual member of our group posted!

Karen of Bakinginatornado

Mimi of Messymimismeanderings

 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Right Music


Father and son.
My second son is a large man.
Large.
Six foot eight in his stockinged feet. When he puts boots and a hat on, considerably taller.
And he is a body builder.
He works as a cop in our fair city.
Let me put it this way . . .
No one argues with him.
They just nod politely and do as he asks.
His very first day on the job, he and his partner responded to a knife-wielding incident. When he got out of his car, the 'perp' took one look, dropped the knife and spread-eagled himself on the sidewalk.
Size is important.
But the man inside the uniform is a gentle, loving person.
And tons of fun.
Before he began to serve with the police, he spent eight years with the armed forces, reaching the rank of Sergeant.
And he drove a big truck.
These two points are important.
Moving on . . .
One day, he was on his way home from the army base driving the aforementioned (good word) truck. It was a beautiful, warm day, and his windows were opened wide.
His head was shaved and he had his army kit on.
He looked every inch the soldier he was.
He was 'in the zone'. Listening and moving to his favourite music, blaring from two powerful speakers.
I should mention here that his favourite music probably isn't what people expect to hear from a head-shaved, muscular, giant of a man in army fatigues.
And sunglasses.
In a monster truck.
But pouring from the speakers were The Archies.
And they were singing their hit song, "Sugar, Sugar".
He stopped at a stoplight.
Still grooving.
Then he glanced to his left.
A small pickup was sitting beside him.
With three teenage boys in the seat.
All of whom were staring at him.
Up at him.
Their expressions were . . . interesting.
My son grinned at them and nodded. Still bobbing to the rhythm.
The light changed and he drove on.
But the small truck stayed where it was.
I think he frightened them.
Who says you need a weapon to intimidate?
Sometimes all it takes is the right music.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Eat. Drink. Stink.


Cause Garlic is an awesome herb with benefits galore,

It’s nutritious, but adds flavour and detoxifies and more!

Improves bone health, low calories, while tasting oh, so grand,

May lower risk of heart disease, (I’ve learned this one firsthand!)

It combats ‘bugs’, dementia, may even help with sports!

Reduces pressure, lengthens life—according to reports.

And so, because it’s helpful and would n’er our health betray,

We’re joining here together: Giving GARLIC its own day…

 

My dog ate all my garlic; he thinks it tastes just right,

But now you have to understand, his bark’s worse than his bite!

 

Some garlic in a salad left poor ‘Drac’ without a pray-er,

Another victim of Buffet: the Vam-pire Slay-er.

 

There is a garlic diet, makes you smell from breath and skin,

You don’t lose much, but face it, from a distance, you look thin!

 

I do garlic magic! First I crush a clove or so,

Add basil, parmesan and oil and blend and shout, “Pesto!”

 

If you were raised by garlic, from your toes up to your head,

You’re justified in saying that: You are ‘garlic bred’.

 

At lunch, we two were in dispute, another friend stopped by,

He took all of our garlic bread. Wish he’d stop taking sides!

 

How’d the Hipster burn his mouth? (I’ll take you now to school…)

Well, he tried eating garlic bread…before it was cool.

 

Where do garlics go to drink? The sal-ad bar.

Why’s the garlic naked? No cloves left. I’ve gone too far…

 

A recipe for garlic toast: (I’ll stop, though I’ve had fun!)

Just raise a glass to everything that garlic’s done!


Photo Credit: Karen of bakinginatornado.com

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, we’ll have to dream a bit

As on the beach we try to sit!



Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?

We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
National Garlic Day (April 19) Today!
The ocean or beach (From Mimi) (April 26)
The best thing about spring (From Mimi) (May 3)

Lost Sock Memorial Day. (May 10)
The anniversary of the patent of the rubber band. (May 17)
Favorite breakfast (May 24)
Memorial Day (May 31)
Best Friends Day (from June 8) (June 7)
Monkey Around Day (June 14)
Fathers (June 21)
Bubbles (June 28)

 

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