Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, December 2, 2022

A Toad in the Hole

The native denizens of the pasture
I was checking the herd in the north pasture.
My favorite assignment.
You pointed the horse in the right direction and sat back for the ride.
Occasionally you would be required to come out your reverie long enough to glance around and take stock (literally).
The cows would stare at you for a moment, glance towards their calves for reassurance, then drop their heads and continue grazing.
Then you could sink back into your own thoughts.
Tough job.
The most peaceful work on the planet.
Except that this time, there were more critters in the pasture than I had anticipated.
But I am getting ahead of myself . . .
It had been a wet year. Almost unheard of in very arid Southern Alberta, but very much appreciated.
Things were green and growing. There were even small ponds of water standing about. 
Something I had never seen.
I started up the east side of the pasture, heading north.
All was well.
I turned west at the northern fence and continued on.
Everything remained quiet.
Reaching the western boundary, I turned south.
Halfway along the western fence, my horse stopped.
Okay, this was different. I emerged from my thoughts long enough to frown at her and give her a nudge.
She stayed where she was, eyes and ears pointed straight ahead.
Huh. Weird.
Maybe my goofball ex-racehorse had seen something. It would take a miracle, but I believed in miracles.
I decided to look around.
Just to my left was a small hill, and beneath it, a basin, hardly more than a dimple, which had until today been filled with fresh, clean water.
Water that had . . . too quickly . . . disappeared in the sandy soil.
Now only mud remained.
And something more. Something that was . . . moving.
I nudged my horse again.
But she was staring at that mud and "had no intention of going any closer, thank you."
I slid off her and, looping the reins around my arm, proceeded forward on foot.
My horse let the reins play out as far as she could, then reluctantly followed.
I stopped a few feet from the mud's edge because that was as far as I could go without stepping on something.
A tiny toad.
One of dozens, maybe hundreds of them, crawling over each other and milling about.
In a place that, in a normal year, was miles from any water.
And where, I should point out, we had never, ever seen them before.
Where could they have come from?
And, more importantly, how could I get one home?
I glanced at my still-nervous horse and my 'saddlebag-less' riding pad.
Nothing there that would hold them.
I had pockets.
Hmm. Worked for Dennis the Menace on TV.
I picked one up and studied his small, sturdy-looking but still delicate body.
No. I might squish him.
I set him down.
I watched them for some time, moving about, doing their little 'toady' things.
It was fascinating.
But finally, I had to move on.
Regretfully, I mounted up and let my horse make a wide detour around the writhing mass of little bodies.
By the time I was able to drag my father out to see them the next day, the mud had dried up.
And my little friends had disappeared as if they had never existed.
I glanced around.
Surely this was the spot?
But there wasn't a living thing to be seen.
Certainly nothing moved.
Where could they have gone?
Dad stared at the spot.
Then he looked at me and shook his head.
He believed me. I know he did.
I'm almost sure he did.
Okay, well, it wouldn't have been the first time I had told a 'big windy'.
But this time, I was telling the truth.
We never saw them again.
They disappeared as completely as if they had never existed.
Maybe they hadn't.
But if that's true, I had held, for a short time, a bit of my imagination in my hand.
It tickled.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Conveniences, Modern

In 1848 or 9, 

The guys in charge thought it was time,
To close the place that represented
Everything that was invented.

“What need have we of patents, new?
There won’t be any more breakthroughs.”
“We’ll save some cash, if we close down,
The patent office in each town.”

Yes, they had electric power,
And indoor plumbing, bath and shower.
They’d bifocals and games of ball,
The clock, the telegraph and all.

But let’s see what we would have missed,
Had they done just what they wished,
In 1848 or 9,
Had they been allowed to draw the line.

The first dishwasher (of a kind),
In 1850 was designed,
And the wash machine to make clothes new?
Invented in the 50’s, too!

The vacuum came a little later,
The 1860’s. Ask its maker.
The clothespin and sewing machine,
Toilet paper, jelly beans.

The phonograph. The mason jar.
Kleenex or the chocolate bar.
And what would you, if you had known
Do without the telephone?

And airplanes and the ballpoint pen,
I’m sure you use them now and then.
Air conditioning. And jeans.
Earmuffs and most all machines.

There’s millions more that I could tell,
Like penicillin, solar cell.
I’ll put computers on the list,
And that is where I will desist.

We're glad that they did not succeed,
To close the patent place. Agreed?
With me, let’s raise a plastic cup,
Thankful someone shut them up.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Cold or Gusty

Winter has truly arrived here in Northern Alberta.
With temperatures set to plummet to -30C (-22F), we are digging out the long-johns and woolies.
And remembering other days...
This . . .
In the early days of our marriage, Husby and I bought a mobile home.
It was 686 square feet of cozy, happy space.
And it was all ours!
Our little home on wheels came with a small entryway, built by the previous owner and attached to the side of the trailer with an assortment of screws.
Husby got the trailer set up. Dug lines for water and sewer. Connected the power.
And attached the entry.
We had a home!
I should probably mention, here, that, in Southern Alberta, mobile homes MUST be set up in an east-to-west direction. If they sit north-to-south, there is a very real risk of having them roll over in tomorrow’s gale force winds.
True story.
Moving on . . .
Our little home sat on the bare prairie, fully exposed to the elements, but it presented one of the small sides to the wind.
All was well.
Our bedroom was in the far west side. No problem.
And then . . . the wind.
During the day, spending our time - as we did - in the center, or on the east end, the wind was merely scary as the trailer shivered with each onslaught.
At night, however, it was truly terrifying as we lay in our bed with the floor bucking and hopping beneath us.
One doesn’t get much sleep when one is in a constant state of ‘oh-my-goodness-we-are-going-to-roll-completely-over-with-the-next-gust’.
One afternoon, I was standing in the kitchen with the wind howling around me. A strange noise had begun. A . . . scraping sound. I waited for the next blast. There it was again. I followed the sound.
Right to our little entryway.
With each blast, it was being slowly ripped from its moorings. I could see daylight in the cracks.
Frantically, I called Husby at work.
He hurried home and surveyed the situation. He fired up the tractor and placed the bucket against the backside of the little box, supporting it against the onslaught.
Then went back to work.
For the rest of the day, I kept an eye on our sad little entryway.
Things didn’t look good.
Finally, Husby came home for the day. He looked at the entry, creaking and jumping with every gust. 
Then he reached out and, putting a hand under the step, lifted.
The entire structure vaulted into the air like a box-kite and flew 300 feet, landing in the nearby field. You have to know that this wasn’t a little, flimsy, featherweight structure. It was built of solid materials. Walls, floor, roof, doors.
And yet it flew 300 feet.
Husby then proceeded to build newer, bigger and better.
Which lasted until we sold our little first home and moved north.
Out of the wind.
Into the cold.
But our house didn’t shake and we could sleep at night.
Yep. I'll take the cold.
Or this . . .
Photo Credit

Monday, November 28, 2022

Real French Toast

The sign said, ‘Breakfast Any Time’,
You know I like to eat,
And breakfast is my favourite meal…
It really is a treat!
A whole day’s worth of calories,
So much from which to choose,
Everything from cake to nuts…
One really cannot lose!
But harking back to that bright sign,
The ‘Breakfast Any Time’,
I thought that I’d just go right in…
And try some tastes sublime!
The server sat me on a chair,
Then handed me a card,
The foods they offered listed there…
But my choice wasn’t hard!
I gave the menu back to her,
Said, “Now that I’m ensconced,
You’re serving Breakfast Any Time…
French Toast in the Renaissance!”

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?

We'll try to keep you warm next week,
And try on 'Mittens'! Take a peek!

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!)...

French Toast--or Breakfast (November 28) Today!

Mittens (December 5)
Poinsettia -or- Potted Plants (December 12)
Muffins (December 19)
Candy Canes (December 26)
Treasure (January 2)
Stuffed animals (Januray 9)
Get lost (January 16)
Clocks (January 23)
Time (January 30)

Sunday, November 27, 2022

BBB Times Ten


It's my tenth turn to host my BFFs of the BBB's!

Recently, Husby and I took a little Covid holiday. (In that IT visited and we suffered. ) Nothing quite changes your perspective like a brief dalliance with de-struction.
But we're alive to tell the tale (Which is quite, quite disgusting) and that's all that matters!

Now onto more pleasant things!
This time, my Best of Boomer Bloggers are discussing everything from Thanksgiving to Christmas!

First is Carol Cassara of Carol A. Cassara, Writer:

Christmas started early for Carol Cassara, with a week in London chock-full of fun events, from theatre, to visiting the Queen's grave, to tea at the Ritz (and more). Over at her blog she shares details and photos in How We Started Christmas in London.

Buying a new car and wondering which ones on your short list are the most reliable? Consumer Reports issues a report every year on vehicle reliability. Toyota tops the latest list with Mercedes-Benz coming in last, reports Rita R. Robison, consumer and personal finance journalist. See which brands are No. 2 throughNo. 23 in her article.

 Then we have Laurie Stone of Musings, Rants and Scribbles:

Do you feel holiday pressure starting to kick in? Do you feel the need to get everything done…on time…on budget… and with a smile? The other day Laurie Stone’s inner Scrooge started up. The to-list was growing — trees, wreathes, cards, decorations, stockings, holly, cookies, gifts. She needed to get into the spirit. Then she turned on the radio…

And Rebecca Olkowski of Baby Boomster:

As the weather gets cooler, we begin to crave warm and satisfying meals. Rebecca Olkowski, with has a great recipe for Butternut Squash Stew that is Italian-inspired and vegetarian. It’s also packed with nutrients and immunity boosters. Give it a try.

Followed by Meryl Baer of Beach Boomer Bulletin:
The month of November we turned the clocks back one hour, celebrated Thanksgiving, and Meryl Baer of Beach Boomer Bulletin spent a couple of weeks exploring New Mexico and Arizona, and contemplating time. She ruminates on the topic of time in this week’s post.

Then finally, me! 
Diane Tolley of On the Border:

When a Little learns to pray, it's both entertaining...
And something to be THANKFUL for!

And that's a wrap!
Thank you for reading...
I do hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!

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