Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, June 11, 2021

Scooting

Okay, I admit it. With Covid winding slowly down and everyone in our household vaccinated, not once, but twice (amazing how accommodating a city can be when Sally lives in your household…just sayin’), things are starting to look quite a bit rosier.
And, let’s face it, with the advent of Peter, my life in particular has taken on a distinct glow.
In the weeks since that first meeting at the park, we have managed to meet at quite a few other places.
7-11 for Slurpies.
Wendy’s for Baconators.
Pizza Hut for . . . you know . . . pizza.
Popeye’s for the best chicken sandwich this side of anywhere.
And more than one visit to Dunkin’ Donuts.
I know. I know. That’s a lot of meeting ‘somewhere elses’. I’ll tell you right here: I was just a bit afraid of exposing him to too much Sally.
Because.
So I discovered that we like the same food, drinks and snacks.
And, once I relented and allowed him a closer acquaintance with my family by actually (gasp) inviting him inside our yard, we realized there were even more things we had in common.
Like liking the same movies on Sally’s big outdoor screen.
Even those featuring heartbreak, beautiful women in distress and/or men in kilts.
Seriously. He’s the first guy I know who also cries at the end of Pride and Prejudice.
That alone would be a reason to hang onto him.
He’s also steady, honest and I probably don’t have to mention it—brave.
Because this guy can handle Sally’s shenanigans. Well, I’m just going to say it: he’s a king among men and leave it at that.
But today, he proved that, not only is he all of the above, he’s also smart . . .
Sally and Mort were pouring over some sort of catalogue when I reached the breakfast table out on the back deck this morning.
That alone shouldn’t be reason for alarm.
But in our household, it is.
You know that Sally’s job pays . . . quite well.
So money is definitely not a problem at this time in her (and by association: our) life.
As I sat down to Mom’s amazing apple popovers and homemade yogurt, I glanced casually over at what had them so engrossed.
It was a motorcycle catalog.
M-O-T-O-R-C-Y-C-L-E C-A-T-A-L-O-G.
Did this orchestrate the same symphony of alarm into your heart as it did mine?
Then, all I can say is this: YOU DON’T LIVE WITH HER!!!
Suddenly, all I could picture was Sally, hell-bent-for-leather, riding through the formerly peaceful streets of our fair city, causing no end of mayhem.
And Mort right behind her, tangling up the dripping remains.
I mean, if they would promise to only ride out in the boondocks, then maybe.
But what are the chances of that?!
My life and the lives of all the other innocent citizens who called this city home suddenly flashed before my eyes.
My mouth was instantly frozen in an ‘oh’ of horror.
And then Peter walked in.
Well, knocked on the back gate and waited for admittance.
Then walked in.
Suffice it to say I was more than glad to see him.
He took one look at that magazine, then turned and glanced at the dismay that was still writ large on my face.
And pulled out his phone.
“You know what would be better than motorbikes?” he asked.
Both Sally and Mort looked at him. “What?” asked Sally, already interested.
“Mobility scooters.”
“Say again?” Mort said.
“No. You could totally have fun with these!” Peter tapped a few keys and held the phone out to them. “See? They’re electric. You could get a bunch of them and have all kinds of races. Play baseball. And, at a top speed of 4 miles-per-hour, everyone could do it!”
Sally reached for his phone, her eyes glued to the screen. “Yeah . . .” she said softly.
I was staring at him.
In less than 100 words, he had neatly diverted their attention.
And channeled their enthusiasm toward something not too deadly.
This man wasn’t just smart. He was a genius!
By this afternoon, Sally, Mort and Scary Gary along with half a dozen neighbourhood kids and at least three seniors were organizing races and a baseball game around the park in the center of our neighbourhood.
And from now on, when any of us speak to Peter, we're just going to call him ‘Sir’.
He deserves it.
 
Today’s post was a writing challenge. Each participant picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words to be used at least once and all the posts to be unique as each writer has received their own set of words.
That’s the challenge—here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.
 
My words were: boondock ~ electric ~ heartbreak ~ mouth ~ sir
And given to me by my sweet friend, Rena at: https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog
 
At the end of this post are the other blogs featuring this challenge.
Check them all out—see what words they got and how they used them. 
 
Baking In A Tornado                  
Wandering Web Designer
Climaxed
What TF Sarah
Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Thursday, June 10, 2021

See. And Do

Grandma was babysitting.
Cousins, the two-year-old (H) and the three-year-old (B) had been playing in the front room.
Occasional outbursts over the train.
The doll.
The stroller.
The spot on the couch.
Whose turn it was to breathe the surrounding air . . .
Had been painstakingly and endlessly sorted out.
Silence had descended.
There’s nothing quite as suspicious as two toddlers who have gone quiet. 
Grandma hurried to investigate, skidding to a stop in the entry to the living room.
The two little girls were still playing. But had changed things up a bit . . .
B held a tiny water paint set in one hand. In the other, the dry miniscule brush. “Look at me, please,” she said.
H was seated, facing her older cousin.
B was ‘painting’ H’s face. “Look at me, please,” she said again. She applied a couple of strokes. “Look at me, please.” A couple more.
Grandma smiled and stood quietly watching.
Have I mentioned that B’s mom is a face-painter? Well, she is.
A good one.
It doesn’t matter what we try to teach them, kids do what they see us do.
 Actions definitely speak louder than words.
Although in this case, the words are nice, too . . .
The novice
The professional

The result

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Stringam Travels

Ready to go.
Pictured L to R: Anita, Blair, Dad, George, Jerry,
Missing: Mom, Chris, Diane and the potty.
Traffic has slowed to a crawl.
Not a usual thing for a small, semi-hard-topped, two lane, secondary road twisting through the foothills of Southern Alberta.
The Stringams join the end of a line of cars.
Dad peers ahead through the windshield. "Huh. Weird." 
"What on earth could be causing this?" Mom spits on a Kleenex and starts to scrub the face of her youngest son. "Careful with that chocolate bar, son, you're getting it on your father."
"Can't see, yet. But the line will be straightening out soon and . . . ah!"
The line has done so and disclosed the culprit.
A house.
White clapboard.
Two storey.
Not something you see in the middle of the road every day.
Usually that's reserved for bungalows . . .
The house creeps along. The Stringams creep along behind it, more cars joining them every minute or so like the growing tail of some large, unwieldy monster.
"Mom! I have to go potty!" Little brother, Blair, is standing on the front seat and has started doing the dance.
"I wonder if he knows we're here." Mom pulls the potty out from under her seat. "You'll just have to go while we're moving, dear. We don't want to lose our place in line."
Right. Because the Stringams will be left behind as the rest of the line of traffic moves off at 10 MPH?
"Mom! I hate going when the car is moving!"
"Well, try not to miss." She turns to Dad. "How long till the turn?" 
"At this rate? About three days."
The family is heading to the relatives for dinner. Mom and Dad are beginning to hope that their food tastes 'just as good the second day'.
Mom opens her car door and dumps out the potty, then wipes it out with the spit Kleenex, stuffs it back under her seat and drops the used tissue into her handy-dandy paper bag trash receptacle.
She glances around at her brood. Four are scattered across the wide back seat.
Important note: Seatbelts and safety measures haven't been invented yet.
Jerry and George are arguing over a car magazine. Chris and Diane are reading. Diane is getting rather green around the gills.
Mom frowns. Might be a good time to distract Diane. She glances out the window, hoping to spot some horses. The only thing known to pull Diane from a book.
Blair is now happily parked in the front seat between Mom and Dad, looking at the pictures in one of his brother's comic books.
Anita is perched on Mom's knees, nose against the window and half-filled bottle of cream soda in her lap.
"Mom! I wanna drink!" George has given up trying to wrench the magazine from his older brother and is now sitting with his arms crossed on the back of the front seat.
"Okay. I just get one here . . ." Mom mimes taking a glass and turning on a tap. "There you go!"
"Mom! A real drink! Of Pop!"
Dad glances back at his second son. "There'll be plenty of pop in the well when we get there!" 
"You can have some of mine!" Anita offers her bottle.
George looks at the pale-pink liquid that started out a brilliant red and makes a face. "That's okay. I can wait."
"Mom? I'm car sick!" Diane has emerged from her book on her own.
Not a good sign.
Again the potty comes into play. Diane now sits with it on her lap.
"How much further?" Chris has come up for air.
"A year or two," Dad again leans forward and peers through the front windshield.
"I'll tell a story!" Mom volunteers. She proceeds to drag out her Reader's Digest and regale the family with a humorous gem about being raised in the ghettos of New York.
The story winds down and she closes the magazine.
George sighs. "I'm bored."
Mom blinks. That was fast. Then her face lights up. "Let's play a game! How about 20 questions?"
Jerry drops his magazine to the floor. "Okay! I've got it!"
"Animal, vegetable or mineral?"
"Animal."
"Is it dead?"
"Maybe."
"Hey! You can't have maybes! Only 'yes' or 'no'!"
The game is played to its usual conclusion.
Elvis.
And another round starts.
Blair and Anita have fallen asleep.
Mom rescues the offensive cream-soda bottle just before it tips over. She again opens her car door and discretely empties it out onto the road.
Diane imagines, for a moment what it must be like to follow the Stringam's car at 10 MPH. Heads bobbing about. Car door opening periodically to expel various fluids.
"Oh, look!" Dad grins and points. "The house is pulling over!"
Mom laughs. "Now that's not something you hear often!"
Mom always manages to keep her sense of humour. It's a gift.
Slowly, the line of cars begins to pull out around the house like a stream finding its way around a large, recently-dropped stone.
Dad pulls up beside the house driver and gestures to Mom, who rolls down her window. "Why don't you get a travel trailer, like everyone else?" he shouts with a grin. 
"I'm so sorry!" the driver shouts back. "Were you following me long?"
About four years, three months, twenty-one days, and thirteen hours, Dad thinks. "Oh, no. Not long!" 
They wave to each other and the Stringam car moves off.
Just another family car trip.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

On Doing It Yourself

Let's run through this again . . .

I'm a people-pleaser.

Or try to be.
Call it a weakness.
But I've always had this compulsion to make everyone around me as comfortable as possible.
Most of the time, it's fun.
Occasionally, not.
Let me tell you about it . . .
When I was first married, my greatest wish was to see my new Husby happy, comfortable and well-fed.
I worked hard at it.
Fortunately, he is a kind and considerate man, so all was well.
I had meals ready at meal times.
Kept the laundry done.
Cleaned the house.
Ran errands.
This went on for some time.
Then, I began to realize that some of the 'errands' were jobs he could have done equally well himself.
And probably should.
Case in point:
Whenever he would use a tissue ( Kleenex), he would then hand me said used tissue and I would hunt for a garbage to throw it in.
True story.
Can everyone say “gullible”?
This went on for nearly three years.
Then, one day, we were at a reception.
My Husby used a tissue and turned and held it out to me.
Now, the normal people-pleasing Diane would have taken it and found a place to dispose of it.
The new Diane looked at the tissue, then at my Husby and said, “Throw it out yourself.”
Whereupon (good word) he laughed and stuck it into his pocket. “Finally caught on, did you?” he said.
And that's when I hit him.
Oh, not hard.
Just enough for him to know that I was . . . displeased.
And that he could run his own stupid errands from now on.
Ha!
There.
I said it.
Kleenex, anyone?
P.S. On occasion, he still tests the waters. The waters still refuse to throw out his used tissues.
Forty-five years and counting...

Monday, June 7, 2021

Friend, the Best

 

I have a friend. I call her best.
For she stands out from all the rest,
She’s fiercely loyal, caring, kind,
Encouraging and quite refined.
She believes in me, is fun and smart,
But I almost missed this friendship’s start.

Wounded, aching, recovering slow,
My Man and me, we’d had a blow,
That rocked our family to the core,
Our hearts were broken, tattered, torn.
T’was when this single mom asked me,
To watch her girls. She’d pay a fee.

But I was hurting, my heart sore,
I really couldn’t handle more,
And so I let her down that day,
Turned her little girls away,
But she was patient. Just one year,
Had passed. And she again appeared.

Once more she asked, and I agreed,
 Her girls joined mine in thought and deed,
But it’s not there the story ends,
Their mom became my lifelong friend.
Through good and bad, we two stayed close,
And helped with things that matter most.

Years of friendship we have had,
She supported me through good and bad,
Through marriages and births and more,
And grandkids, whom we both adore.
And coasting toward that Old Age ‘Hill’,
I find that we are best friends still. 

I think about it quite a bit,
And her request to babysit.
When I was feeling sorry for
Myself. And what had gone before.
And somehow, I just can’t dismiss
You know, I might have missed all this.

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 monkey 'round a bit,
Please don't miss out, it'll be a hit!





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