Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, June 4, 2021

Personal Chef

He's a little taller now...

I had a project.
Or more appropriately a PROJECT.
And a household to run.
And three little boys, aged six months to four years.
I needed help.
Let me explain . . .
My Husby was the director of the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police Museum.
And he had asked me to create a display for it.
A secret display.
Does that make sense?
Moving on . . .
I was to create, in latch-hook, the RCMP crest. 
No small feat.
I had a pattern.
I bought the materials.
I started in.
Now, I should point out, here, that my pattern had originally been designed to create the picture for a 'petit-point' medium.
250 stitches wide by 250 stitches long.
And should end up about four inches in size.
It could also be used for cross-stitch.
Which would make it about twelve inches.
I was doing latch hook.
Six feet square.
Enough said.
A project of that size and scope naturally was going to take time.
But the board of the museum was awaiting my 'surprise'.
I had to speed things along.
How to do that with three little boys.
Some of my usual duties were going to have to be shared.
Someone was gong to have to take over the cooking.
And the most likely candidate was my oldest boy, Markie.
Have I mentioned that he was four?
He was.
But, for six weeks, my four-year-old did all of the cooking in our house.
We ate fruit.
And anything he could manage to cook in the microwave.
We had hot dogs.
Fish sticks.
Lots of hot chocolate.
Cream of wheat.
Bowls of steamed vegetables.
Our menu was rather unvaried, but at least we ate.
And at the end of six weeks, fitted with an old barn wood frame created by my Husby, my RCMP crest was unveiled to the world.
The world liked it.
And I was able to smile and go back to being a Mom.
And relieve Markie of his cooking duties.
Everyone was happy.

There is a codicil . . .
To this day, Mark loves to cook.
His menu has grown vastly from hot dogs and anything 'microwavable'.
But when he's puttering in the kitchen, I still see that little boy.
The one who had to climb up on the cupboard to reach the microwave.
My little chef.
Picture it six feet square.
On a red Background.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Bitten by the Clean Bug

Don't let the outside fool you . . .
Mom was a 'clean machine'.
She loved swept floors, made beds and clean surfaces.
And spent her days with a dust rag in her apron pocket and a broom in her hands.
She often requested assistance.
But her six kids and assorted hired men didn't always comply.
She never gave up.
She was nothing if not persistent.
"Pick that up!" was a favourite saying.
Followed closely by, "Make sure you put that away when you're done!"
Which went with, "If you had put it where it belonged, you'd be able to find it now!"
And there was always the ever popular, "Be sure you leave a place cleaner than when you found it!"
Yep. My Mom.
She tried hard.
But her offspring and assorted other residents were slow to take up the slack.
My brother, George, 'got it' first.
Dad had built a new shop, to my two older, mechanically-minded brothers' specific specifications.
It was a beautiful shop.
Brightly lit.
Containing all of the newest and best of equipment.
And organized to the 'nth' degree by George.
He spent a lot of time there.
Organizing. Mechanic-ing.
One day, Mom needed something.
Her quest took her into the hallowed halls--and remember, this is a place wherein cars and the occasional motorbike are diagnosed, dosed and periodically disemboweled.
She opened the shop door and stepped inside.
George looked up.
"Wipe your feet," he said.
Mom's legacy truly lives on.
The apple definitely stayed in the near vicinity of that tree.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

When Rudest Wins

Pre (and hopefully post) Covid, our family loves taking holidays.

And for a simple country family from Southern Alberta, we have managed to cover a good portion of the globe.
We have had wonderful experiences.
Sunsets over the Mediterranean.
Fresh bratwurst in an open-air mall in Frankfurt.
Moving church services in an old cathedral in Cork.
A wild bus ride through the streets of London.
The smell of the dust in the air on a hot afternoon in Turkey.
The bustle on the streets in Paris.
But, sometimes, like everyone who travels, we have . . . 'adventures'.
Let me explain . . .
We were touring one of the great cities in Europe.
And enjoying seeing things that for us, had existed only in pictures.
We wandered into a very popular tourist site.
And were instantly accosted by a small, but determined group of 'entrepreneurs'.
These people had made little bracelets and were anxious to make a sale.
At first, it seemed as though they wanted to present you with a little gift.
They would smilingly knot one around your wrist.
And I do mean 'knot'.
Then stand back and loudly demand money.
Great scam.
We had seen it happen to people walking just ahead of us.
“Keep your hands tucked in!” Grant whispered urgently to the rest of us.
“Don't let them grab you!”
I should point out here that we had no intention of letting them grab us.
And, through our travels, we had learned the great art of 'obtuse and avoidance'.
The tourist's best friend.
If you don't make eye contact and pretend you don't hear, you avoid a lot of unwanted purchases.
This didn't work here.
If you looked away, a pair of enthusiastic salesmen would move alongside.
One would grab your hand and the other would tie the bracelet firmly.
There was no way of getting rid of it, short of cutting it off.
You would be forced to pay.
We managed better than most.
You learn to be agile, working on a ranch.
But two of them had converged on our youngest daughter.
An outspoken girl of 21.
She had tucked both of her hands against her body and said, “No, thank you.” And, “I'm not interested.” And, “I don't want a bracelet.” several times.
Then she tried to break, as politely as she could, through the closed ranks around her.
Politeness and patience were wearing thin.
And not working in the slightest.
The salesmen had resorted to trying to physically take her hands, chattering enthusiastically in their native tongue.
She shifted back and forth, eluding them.
We started towards her, intent on rescue.
We weren't needed.
Before we could reach her, she suddenly shouted loudly at the two men, “Get the hell away from me!”
Did I mention outspoken?
All heads in the square turned.
Smiles broke out on many tourist faces.
The two would-be salesmen fell back and stared at her.
Finally, one of them drew himself up and sniffed, “There is no need to be rude!”
They disappeared, taking their little bracelets with them.
There was laughter and a small smattering of applause.
Okay, it came from us, but why haggle over details?
I was proud of my daughter.
She had tried to be polite.
She had tried to be firm.
But, faced with a situation in which neither of these tactics proved effective, she became fierce.
And won the day.
This was an isolated incident.
Fortunately, one of very few negative experiences we've had in our travels.
But it proved to us that when patience and good manners don't work . . .
Good old 'country spunk' will.
Take a farm girl.
"I have a baguette and I know how to use it!"

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Blessed Mother

My Mom.
She of the wicked pen . . .
and wonderful cooking.

I wish I'd found this for Mother's day a few weeks ago. But it's wonderful no matter when I share it!
This is 'verse' written by my mother so many, many years ago.

Blessed art thou, woman.
For thou shalt be called 'Mother'.
Yea, and thy tasks and thy chores shall follow thee all the days of thy life.
And thou shalt eat the bread of thine own baking.
And thou shalt dwell forever in a dirty house, if thou dost not choose to clean it thyself.
Thou shalt arise before the cock croweth.
And thou shalt say unto thyself, "Where are the offspring which were given me? Yea, the sun has risen high in the sky and the hour grows late, wherefore I have been long at my labours."
And thou shalt go and find thine offspring prostrate in their cot.
And thou shalt say unto them, "Haste, arise and shine, for I have many labours for thee to perform; wherefore I have been many hours preparing the way."
And thine offspring linger in sleep and shall say unto thee, "Thou didst not watch the late, late, late show as I did last night and mine eyes are heavy and mine bones acheth."
And thou shalt say unto thy offspring, "Get thee up from thy cot; ere I lay a hand upon thee, and go ye hither and scrub a sparkling tub, for thou hast left black rings upon its sides."
And thy offspring shalt say unto thee, "I will go and do thy bidding - in a minute."
And thy rage shall know no end.
And thou shalt weep and wail and gnash thy teeth mightily.
Never-the-less, thou shalt scrub a sparkling tub thyself and glory shall be added unto thee, for thou didst not strike the lazy beast.
Thou are blessed above all others and thy descendants shall call thee 'Blessed', for thou preparest a table before them. Thou cookest meat and all manner of tasty vittles and they shall sit at thy table with thee and partake with thee.
And they shall add glory unto thy crown for they shall let thee also wash the dishes, if thou wilt.
And when the night falleth thou shalt be deflated, and thy offspring shall say unto thee, "She is an old woman, wherefore she neither goes dancing, nor does she watch the late, late, late show."
Thy art and thy craft shall make thee called upon and thou shalt labour at many tasks in thy kingdom for whosoever asketh.
Thou doest his bidding.
Thy back shall acheth with arthritis; thy cane and thy husband shall be thy support.
Thy veins shall be varicose in thine aching legs, but thou shalt do thy duty with a smile; neither shalt thou complain.
Thou are blessed with a crown every second Sunday in May.
Wherefore, thou art blessed above all others for thou are 'Mother' and thou shalt find joy in thy offspring forever.
If thou endureth to the end!
Thanks, Mom.

Monday, May 31, 2021



The peace and freedoms we enjoy come to us at great cost,

Paid by precious few who did not shirk when lives were lost.

But the sacrifice wasn’t solely given by those who went and fought,

But also by those left behind, who by the heart were caught.

Now Bernard was my Dad’s best friend, the brains behind the pranks,

That boy that other boys all love, but parents don’t give thanks,

An independent sort of boy; his father didn’t ‘get’,

They quarreled over something and the boy left home upset,

Though just 16, he went to the recruitment place downtown,

Put two years upon his age, swore not to let them down,

His dad, when he discovered it, went to bring him home,

The boy was underage, he’d tell him, ‘Never will you roam!’

But on the way, he thought about the wild boy, his young son.

And that the army surely’d do what Dad could not get done,

And so he turned around and left his boy there at the camp,

Thinking army life would make a man out of his scamp.

Bernard went through basic; he was in his element,

Mixed well with the men and did the work that he was sent,

Finally, Dad’s friend was shipped right to the battlefront,

Prepared to face the enemy with all the other ‘grunts’,

Lacking heed, he charged in like he’d always done so far,

But this was not the schoolyard, no. This was different: WAR!

Bernard had served for just three days when he paid the final price,

Dying in a soggy field of vegetables and rice.

His father never did recover, mourned from that day on,

Thinking, if he’d just gone on, he could have saved his son,

He blamed himself for failing to retrieve his teenage boy,

The tragedy went both ways, ever robbing all of joy.

On this Memorial Day, let’s honour all who blow the horn,

But let us not forget their loved ones, who forever mourn.

Photo Credit: Karen of
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?

I hope this week quite soon will end,
Cause next week's all about Best Friends!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
Memorial Day (May 31) Today!
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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Read it! You know you want to!

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Available from

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