Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, May 21, 2021

Down Under












It was a hot summer day.
The girl whose family owned the only swimming pool in the town was hosting an impromptu pool party with her friends.
One girl came without a swimsuit.
“No problem,” the hostess said, “I have a whole drawer full. Just find one you like!”
She then waved, vaguely, before turning back to her other guests.
The guest disappeared, returning a short time later dressed in a modest blue two-piece.
Tossing out greetings to the young men and women clustered around the pool, she sauntered around to where her hostess was sitting.
And struck a pose.
“What do you think?”
Her hostess looked up, then shrieked and jumped to her feet. “Where did you get that?!” she said.
The guest blinked and glanced around nervously.
All eyes were on her.
“F-from your drawer, like you said.”
“The top drawer?”
“Y-yes.”
“That's my underwear drawer!”
“Eeeeeeee!” the guest sprinted back into the house.
She had been covered.
In what could easily be mistaken for a swimsuit.
But just being told she was wearing underwear made her scramble madly for shelter.
I thought this story was hilarious.
Then, I saw it happen to my Mom.
Well . . . something similar, anyways . . .

Our family was getting ready for church.
My current boyfriend, coming to church with my family for the first time and dressed uncomfortably in a shirt and tie, was seated in the great room, waiting for the rest of us.
I was the next to be ready, so I sat beside him and started chattering.
Something I did a lot.
A lot.
But I digress . . .
My mother scurried out of her bedroom and started puttering around in the kitchen, in plain sight of the two of us. She put a roast in the oven for dinner and then started tidying up from breakfast.
I kept talking.
But for some reason, my boyfriend wouldn't look at me, but stared, instead, out the window.
I kept talking.
He kept staring fixedly (good word) at something outside.
Suddenly, my mother, still in the kitchen, said, “Oh, my! Look at me!”
I did.
As she was making a fast exit towards her bedroom.
At first, I saw nothing wrong.
She was dressed in her usual fashion. Undershirt, bra, full slip.
Skirt. Stockings.
Oh. Wait. Something was missing.
Her blouse.
Suddenly my boyfriend's fixed gaze made sense.
He had noticed as soon as Mom had entered the room.
Huh. Funny that I didn't see it.
Okay, so observant, I'm not.
Mom went through the rest of the day rather pink-faced.
Which was funny.
She had been completely covered.
Modestly, even.
In at least three layers of cloth.
But because the material had been termed 'underwear', she was embarrassed.
As I would have been.
As anyone . . . you get the point.
Aren't we weird?

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Soothing the Savage Teacher

Ignore the glasses. But love the shoes!
I love to sing.
How I love to sing.
I'm not saying I'm any good at it. But I love to do it.
I sing all of the time.
When I'm cleaning.
Eating.
Sleeping.
Shopping. Actually, that is a big one. Usually, people just stare and shake their heads, but occasionally, someone will comment.
"Someone's in a good mood!"
Or, "Someone really loves shopping!"
Or, my favourite, "Mommy, that lady sings weird!"
I always have a song stuck in my head.
Usually something good.
Sometimes not.
Me, standing in line to buy tickets at the Citadel Theatre: "I have the worst song stuck in my head!"
Lady behind me with hands over her ears: "I know! And now it's stuck in mine!!!"
Moving on . . .
Singing calms me. It is my companion whenever I am doing something that doesn't require great concentration.
Dishes.
Laundry.
Sewing. Actually, sewing is probably my big one. 
It was through sewing that I realized that I love to sing while working with my hands.
Let me explain:
I was in Home Economics. Home-Ec or Ugh! for short.
We were sewing.
Aprons, I think.
Mine looked like . . . well, let's just say that no human being would ever be able to wear it, and leave it at that.
But I was happy.
And I was singing. You Are My Sunshine, as I recall.
A happy, cheerful sort of song that just went with the day.
My teacher, Mrs. M walked past.
"Diane! Quit singing!"
Now I don't want to suggest, here, that her reason for her protest was the quality of my singing.
Although it probably was.
I like to think she was trying to keep order in the classroom.
It's better for my ego.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize I was."
Silence for a few minutes. Sounds of sewing machines . . . umm . . . sewing.
Then, "You are my Sunshine . . ."
"Diane!"
"Oops. Sorry!"
More sewing.
"My only Sunshine . . ."
"Diane!!"
Notice the two exclamation points. That is to indicate the raising of Mrs. M's voice a trifle.
"Darn! Sorry, Mrs. M, I don't realize I'm doing it."
"Well, realize it!"
"Okay."
Still more sewing.
"Please don't take my Sunshine away!"
Mrs. M didn't give third warnings.
Instead, she walked past me and smacked me in the back of the head.
Teachers occasionally did that in the sixties. A trait that was left in the past. Happily.
It got my attention.
Briefly. 
But I must be a slow learner.
Because it didn't stop me.
Instead, it made me realize that I love to sing.
I'm not saying that I'm any good at it . . .
You know the rest.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Ghosting in the Ghost Town

 

See? No horses.
Vacation.
The best of times.
The worst of times.
My parents had decided that our family needed to visit Montana.
And Virginia City.
It sounded . . . Western.
To those of us from the ranch, that translated to mean – exotic.
We led a small life, I admit it.
I don't remember much about the 'getting there'.
I was four.
It was long.
And sleepy.
But I do remember stumbling along wooden slats with my Mom.
Then being carried by said Mom.
That's when it got exciting.
We were in an old-fashioned, western town with boardwalks and hitching posts.
There were even a couple of watering troughs.
But no horses. I noticed that straight off.
We went into the museum.
I should explain, here, that there are two different kinds of museums.
The slick, professional, institutional showcase of fact.
And the humble, heartfelt, community tribute to history or 'collection of stuff out of Gramma's wash shed'.
And, because my husband is a historian, we've seen many, many examples of each kind.
Moving on . . .
Virginia City's museum was the warm, homespun type.
Long glass-topped tables filled with . . . curiosities. Those little, wondrous items which fill the local citizen's heart with awe and amazement.
But really don't have a global impact.
I stared obligingly at antiquated pieces of equipment and tools. Signs and billboards of past eras. Household paraphernalia.
But what I most took note of was anything that suggested 'horse'.
Oh, and the preserved bodies of two-headed lambs and calves and kittens.
While my family wandered around, I stood nose to nose with one or another of these amazing specimens.
While they exclaimed about 'memories' I pointed out numbers of eyes and ears.
It was a fascinating visit.
But it ended.
All too soon.
And suddenly we were back outside on the boardwalk.
We moved to the next building.
A drug store.
Or at least that's what Mom called it.
It didn't look like the one in Milk River.
But I was willing to give it a shot.
I followed Mom inside and wandered up the first aisle.
Stuff.
I was bored.
Maybe if Mom picked me up again.
Things always looked more interesting when she carried me.
I help up my arms.
She obliged.
Okay, I was right. It was a bit better from up here.
We wandered through the store.
At the back, against the wall stood a large, wooden cabinet.
With one door.
Which was closed.
I stared at it as we grew closer.
It seemed . . . mysterious.
Okay, I admit, I didn't know what the word mysterious meant.
But the mere mention of the word sounded . . . mysterious.
Ahem . . .
Mom stopped beside the cabinet.
With the only closed door in the entire place.
I stared hard at that door.
What secrets did it hide?
Candy? Toys? Maybe another two-headed kitten?
I looked at Mom. “Open it, Mom! Open it!”
“Well I don't think I should,” she said uncertainly, glancing over at the proprietor.
He merely smiled and nodded.
“Open it, Mom! Please?!”
“Well, It's probably storage or something.”
“Open it! Open it!”
“Well, I guess it's all right.” Another glance at the proprietor.
“Open it! Open it!”
Her hand reached out and grasped the knob.
I held my breath.
What were we going to see?
Something magical?
Something wildly exciting?
Something . . .
The door swung back with an appropriately spooky 'screech'.
Hanging quietly within was a skeleton. Human.
“Ai-Yi-Yi-Yi-Yi! Close it! Close it! Close it!” I hid my face in Mom's shoulder.
Mom must have swung it shut.
I didn't see.
And I missed quite a bit of the rest of Virginia City, glued as I was to her shoulder.
But that was all right.
How could they top that?

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Explaining

Covid had not given our family a good week. With school moved to online, and no activities, everyone was growing…antsy.

Feeling cooped up, I took our youngest son for a walk. Spring was finally here, and the day was sunny and warm.

All went well for the first few minutes. Then we came across a little, dead bird in the grass beside the sidewalk.

“Oh, the poor little bird!” my son exclaimed, kneeling. With tear filled eyes, he looked up at me. “What happened to him?”

I knelt, too. “I’m afraid he must have just fallen out of the tree and died, Son,” I said. “Poor little guy.”

“Mama, we can’t just leave him here,” he said, softly. “Can we take him home? I promise I will look after him.”

I smiled a little at his enthusiasm. “He’s dead, Son. There’s really nothing you can do for him. Except maybe bury him.”

He thought about that. “Okay. Let’s take him home and I’ll bury him .” He looked at me. “Can you help me?”

I smiled. “Of course, Son. What a kind thing to do.” I found a tissue and wrapped the wee body in it.

He tenderly carried it home and the two of us, in a short, simple ceremony, buried it carefully under our peach tree.

A few days later, his friend, Julie, who lives in the house next door was out in her yard, crying about something.

Ever the tender heart, my son hurried out to talk to his friend through the fence. “Julie! You okay? What’s the matter?”

Through her tears, Julie told him that their dog, Spotty, had died. “He was okay yesterday,” she said. “And he just died.”

The two friends sat out there for a long time, talking, and I was proud of my son and his compassionate impulses.

Finally, he came back into the house, looking rather blue. “Julie’s dog died,” he told me. “Yesterday. She’s really sad about it.”

“I heard. I think you were very kind to go over and talk to her. She really needs her friend right now.”

He nodded, then looked thoughtful. “Julie says he was just dead. Was he mad? Didn’t he like her? How did he die?”

I sighed, trying to think of a way to explain death to my four-year-old, who had already been too exposed this week.

“Well, Son,” I started. “You remember that little bird we found earlier this week? The one you buried in the back yard?”

He gasped and, clutching my arm, looked up at me, his blue eyes wide. “Mom! Did Spotty fall out of a tree?”

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: 22

It was chosen by: Karen at Baking in a Tornado


Now go and visit the other participants!

Baking In A Tornado  

Messymimi’s Meanderings

Monday, May 17, 2021

This Band of Rubber

How glad I am for the rubber band,

It ties back hair, makes bund’ling grand,

So many times, replacing string,

Convenience in so many things!

 

But what I like ‘bout them the most,

To which I’d give a little toast,

The rubber band was loads of fun,

For me, my kids, and Honey Bun! 

 

I will explain, so you’re not lost,

This game we played had little cost,

Those stretchy bands were cheaply got,

But hours of fun were hap’ly wrought . . .

 

Now, Husby, he of talent, much,

He took some older wood and such,

Then crafted very carefully,

Some fun, new toys for him. And me.

 

And one for each and every kid.

Till all were done, he kept them hid,

Then brought them out for us to see,

Crafted with delight. And glee.

 

Those bits of wood, now something more,

A gift to make us laugh and roar,

And chase each other round the house,

Intent on games of cat and mouse.

 

For what he’d crafted carefully,

(Promoting fun and repartee!)

Were little guns to take in hand,

And fire from them, those rubber bands!

 

Each equipped with two clothespins,

Eas’ly loaded, set to win,

E’en the youngest got the knack,

And hap’ly gave his sibs a whack!

 

Now, one more thing ‘bout which I’ll tell,

That Husby thought especially swell,

Each ‘gun’ shot two. Reload again.

Yes, ours shot two. While his shot ten!






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, come join us for the day...
You Favourite Breakfast's on the way!





Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
The anniversary of the patent of the rubber band. (May 17) Today!
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)
Bikinis (July 5)
Cheer the Lonely (July 12)
Raspberry Cake Day (July 19)
Parents Day (July 26)


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