Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, July 8, 2022

Fishing for Brothers

Our intrepid camping ally, Ancient of Days.

It's Summer.

Camping time.
Something our family did every year (when the chicks were growing) in a little, blue tent trailer purchased in Calgary, Alberta in January 1978. It was so cold that day that I thought the flooring was a sheet of tin.
In my defense, linoleum can resemble tin when it is frozen solid.
When the planet heated up a bit, we opened our new purchase and discovered a tidy, little world in itself. Three neat beds and a square central floor.
Perfect for a family of eight.
It took our family everywhere.
For many years, we camped for a week each summer in a beautiful campground in Saskatchewan.
Kimball Lake.
We had a lot of adventures in that time.
Today, I'm remembering one in particular...
Our two youngest were napping.
I use this word lightly.
Because there was no 'napping' happening.
Youngest Daughter (YD) was on the bed she normally shared with her older sister.
And Youngest Son (YS) was in the playpen on the floor.
Something he had learned to crawl out of.
Usually, this wouldn't have been a problem.
Let me describe our trailer to you.
It had three wings that folded out to form the beds.
The canvas wrapped around each of these wings and hooked securely underneath with elastic cords.
It was possible to slide through those spaces.
If you were small enough.
And YS, at thirteen months, met that criteria.
He crawled up onto the bed.
Rolled against the side.
And slid through.
Now it wasn't a long drop to the ground underneath, but it would have given the little fellow quite a jolt.
YD, three, had been watching.
She saw him slip through.
And, with uncharacteristic three-year-old speed and fortitude, leaped across and grabbed his hands.
“Mo-om!”
My good friend, Tammy and I were seated just outside, visiting.
Suddenly, we saw a pair of little legs kicking and wiggling out of the side of the trailer and heard my daughter call out.
I ran into the trailer.
YD and the top half of YS were visible.
She had both of his hands and was leaning back, trying to keep him from sliding further.
He was giggling happily and trying to wiggle out of her grip.
“Mo-om!” she shouted again.
I grabbed my son and pulled him to safety.
Then put him back in his bed with stern instructions to stay there.
That tiny son is now a husband and father and that trailer went down the road many seasons ago.
But every year, at camping time, I think of the small boy and his almost escape.
Picture those little legs protruding from the side of the trailer, kicking merrily.
And his sister, recognizing his danger and holding on frantically with all of her three-year-old strength..
It's a good memory.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

On Using Protection

Big Sister modelling the new chaps. 
Daddy. Ditto.

In the calving field at the Stringam Ranch was a large patch of bullberry bushes.

Or at least that's what we called them.
I don't know what their 'official' name is.
It really doesn't matter.
Whatever their name, they were deadly.
Spikes – I am not exaggerating – up to two inches long.
Against a tender and unprotected human hide, they could do some real damage.
The cows in the field had learned to use them.
When a *gasp* human appeared, they would charge into the bushes.
And chuckle with their friends.
I’m fairly certain.
Moving on . . .
The first time or two, my horse decided to charge in after them.
I should explain that a horse's hide is equally as tough as a cow's.
A human's? See above.
Inevitably I would emerge from such incidents rather the 'worse for the wear'.
As my mother was so fond of saying.
The second time I showed up at home with bloodstains on my shredded jeans, my mother dragged out Dad's heavy hide chaps.
Now, I should mention here that chaps look really good on a tall slim cowboy.
Really, really good.
And certainly they have their uses.
The chaps, not the cowboys.
Okay yes. A cowboy, too, has his uses.
But that is a completely different sort of post . . .
Back to my story . . .
Chaps provide protection from the ravages of ranch work.
They have saved many a pair of jeans from wear during haying.
And many a cowboy from damage when things get up close and personal.
But they are perversely hard to ride in when one is doing so bareback.
I know.
I tried.
Bareback riding requires balance.
Intuition.
And a good grip with the knees.
Chaps, especially heavy ones, prevent the all-important knee grip.
And actually make balance a bit more difficult.
Sigh.
What to do?
Protection won out.
I wore the chaps.
And they sported the scars to prove it.
Picture leather nearly a quarter of an inch thick.
With cuts that went almost all the way through.
That could have been me.
Years later, I showed them to my children.
Who expressed proper and well-deserved awe and amazement.
One day, Husby and I were wandering through a store in cattlemen country.
Hanging from the rafters just inside the front door were a pair of chaps.
But not just any chaps.
These were made of leather, dyed green and purple and gold and pink.
With silver fringe.
I stared at them.
Chaps had obviously changed.
Not just for protection any more.
Now they could be worn to scare cows out of the bush.
Or so that their rider could be seen by satellite.
Ranching has come a long way.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Wrong

Now tell me a dark shirt and light tie wouldn't have looked spiffy!

My future Husby and I were preparing for our wedding.

It had been a painless process to this point.
We were standing in the Men's Wear shop.
The best one in Lethbridge.
Husby-to-be was dressed in a new suit.
Light blue.
Spiffy. (real word)
He looked fantastic.
It was the 70s.
Enough said.
I loved this new, light-blue suit.
I thought it would look even more fantastic with a dark blue shirt and a light tie.
Now, I should explain here that Husby-to-be had spent his whole life - and particularly the last two years - in a dark suit, white shirt and dark tie.
He never noticed how the rich and famous and photographed were dressed.
Never even caught a glimpse of the 'fashion' ads.
Dark suit, white shirt and dark tie were what a young man wore.
Every young man.
Always.
His wife-to-be was just a touch more daring.
I had seen the fashion ads.
Had glanced through the Movie Star magazines.
I knew Husby-to-be would look amazing in a light suit, dark shirt and light tie.
Like the men in the Godfather.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have mentioned that.
I had gotten him into the suit.
But there, all progress had stopped.
He stared suspiciously at the dark shirt I was holding up.
And the light tie.
Finally, he uttered the words that every husby-to-be learns, sooner or later, NOT to say.
Those fateful words that draw a neat line between pre and post-marriage days. 
“I'll ask my mom what she thinks.”
I sucked in a breath. I'm sure the look on my face spoke volumes.
Volumes.
Because he immediately recognized he had said something wrong.
He wasn't sure what, but . . . definitely wrong.
He did wear the light suit.
With a white shirt and light-ish tie.
All totally without any input from his mom.
Compromise at its best.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Putting the ‘Pooper’ in Party

With all the parties going on in both my country and my sister country to the south this past weekend, it’s put me into a party mood. Oh, not having one. Just telling a story about one...
Jerry. With Mom.
Oh . . . and me.
Jerry is my big brother.
He’s cool
He’s neat.
And he never could be considered a ‘party animal’.
An explanation is in order . . .
One of the best times to host a party is on New Year’s Eve.
Everyone is excited.
Everyone is happy.
And , more importantly, everyone wants to party.
Jerry decided to host his first, ever, New Year’s Eve celebration.
Invitations were extended.
Preparations were made.
And Mom cleaned the house for two days straight.
They were ready . . .
The party started out well.
Forty or so kids, all intent of having a great time.
There was a group in the ping-pong room.
Cheering or competing.
Another group around the pool table.
Ditto.
There were kids dancing in the front room.
Kids playing games wherever there was a space.
Kids circling the snacks table.
And kids visiting with my Mom in the kitchen.
The house was full and the party was, for lack of a better term, ‘hitting on all cylinders’.
The time came for the big build-up to the New Year.
Noisemakers were handed out. Because forty-plus people couldn’t make enough noise on their own.
The countdown.
The cheer.
Or rather, din.
And the New Year was official.
Everybody completed the ritual hugging and kissing.
And went back to what they had been doing.
Well, almost everyone.
Several young ladies were looking for someone specific to ‘congratulate’.
My brother, Jerry.
They searched throughout the house. Staked out the bathrooms until the current occupant emerged. And finally enlisted the help of my Mom.
She did a circuit of the obvious places. Then decided to see if Jerry was, for some reason, in his room.
She knocked.
No answer.
She cracked the door and peeked into the darkened room. Reached in and flipped the light switch.
A sleepy head lifted from the pillow.
“Whazzup?”
He had visited and played games.
He had congratulated and cheered.
He had gotten tired.
He had gone to bed.
Never mind that he was leaving his guests to wind down and find their own way to the door.
Nope.
Bed was the place for him.
My brother, Jerry.
Party host extraordinaire.
“Hope you had a good time! Don’t forget to shut off the lights when you leave!”

Monday, July 4, 2022

On Being Independent


A group of friends anticipating finals Monday morn,

Had spent the Saturday before with friends and ale in horns,

The celebrating went too long, they slept next day away,

And missed their Independence Test ‘cause they had been at play,

When they arrived, they sought their Prof and begged her on their knees,

To let them take the test. They added, “Pretty, pretty please?!”

They told a story settled on: of back road and flat tire,

And how they waited long for help (for hour after hour),

They told her how the wait’s result was missing her key test,

They simply couldn’t make it back to write it with the rest,

Their prof just smiled, “Of course, I’ll let you take it late,” she said.

“Come back tomorrow set to write.” They grinned and went to bed.

Next morning, bright and shining (all were ready now to write),

Rested and refreshed from dreamless sleep they’d had last night,

The prof put each lad in a room and handed out exams,

Then closed the doors and left all of the earnest little lambs,

They turned the page, found question 1 took very little thought,

They didn’t even have to sweat the answers that they sought!

“For 5%: The date The Declaration had been signed”,

July the 4th of ’76. Didn’t even need their minds!

This would be a breeze! they thought (their happiness grew higher),

Then question 2: “For 95%...”, it asked, “…which tire?”

Happy Independence Day to all my neighbours from the United States!

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, may be a little hard,
Cause 'Loneliness' is on the card...

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks (with a huge thank-you to Mimi, who comes up with so many of them!)...

Independence Day (US) or Sidewalk egg-frying day (July 4) Today!

Loneliness (July 11)

Ice Cream (July 18)

Old Jokes (July 25)

Girlfriends (August 1)

Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night (August 8)

Lemon Meringue Pie Day (August 15)

Be an Angel Day (August 22)

Bats -or-  More Herbs, Less Salt (August 29)

Blessed by a Curse

Blessed by a Curse
My very first Medieval Romance!

God's Tree

God's Tree
For the Children

Third in the series

Third in the series
Deborah. Fugitive of Faith

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael
A House Divided is now available at all fine bookstores and on Amazon.com and .ca!

Daughter of Ishmael

Daughter of Ishmael
Now available at Amazon.com and .ca and Chapters.ca and other fine bookstores.

Romance still wins!

Romance still wins!
First romance in a decade!

Hosts: Your Room's Ready

Hosts: Your Room's Ready
A fun romp through the world's most haunted hotel!

Hugs, Delivered.

Compass Book Ratings

Compass Book Ratings

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!
New Tween Novel!

Gnome for Christmas

Gnome for Christmas
The newest in my Christmas Series

SnowMan

SnowMan
A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.

Translate

My novel, Carving Angels

My novel, Carving Angels
Read it! You know you want to!

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic
What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

Join me on Maven

Connect with me on Maven

Essence

Essence
A scientist and his son struggle to keep their earth-shattering discovery out of the wrong hands.

Essence: A Second Dose

Essence: A Second Dose
Captured and imprisoned, a scientist and his son use their amazing discovery to foil evil plans.

Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from Smashwords.com

The Babysitter

The Babysitter
A baby-kidnapping ring has its eye on J'Aime and her tiny niece.

Melissa

Melissa
Haunted by her past, Melissa must carve a future. Without Cain.

Devon

Devon
Following tragedy, Devon retreats to the solitude of the prairie. Until a girl is dropped in his lap.

Pearl, Why You Little...

Pearl, Why You Little...
Everyone should spend a little time with Pearl!

The Marketing Mentress

The Marketing Mentress
Building solid relationships with podcast and LinkedIn marketing

Coffee Row

Coffee Row
My Big Brother's Stories

Better Blogger Network

Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award
My good friend and Amazing Blogger, Marcia of Menopausal Mother awarded me . . .

Irresistibly Sweet Award

Irresistibly Sweet Award
Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

Sunshine Award!!!

Sunshine Award!!!
My good friend Red from Oz has nominated me!!!

My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?