Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Language Lessons

Missing my Mom today...
Mom (third from the left) with five of her eight brothers.
Some ninety-two years ago this year,
On Alberta’s new frontier.
My Mama started school that day,
In Millicent, not too far away.

Swedish was what she knew best,
And not a word of all the rest.
But for this day, that pint-sized girl
Would, English, give a little whirl.

Her mama coached her carefully,
On what to say at Teacher’s knee.
The words that would the class transfix?
“My nom Enes, I’m halfpastsix.”

Clutching book in little hand,
Mama entered ‘No-Girl’s Land’,
Then sat down in the nearest seat,
And tried to make herself discreet.

But Teacher saw her sitting there,
With press-ed dress and flaxen hair,
And called to her to please advance,
And of her schoolmates, get a glance.

My Mama went, but she was tense,
She did not want to be thought dense,
So, hoping they would not despise, 
Recited what she’d memorized.

But when her class did mock with glee,
The words she’d said so carefully.
My Mom, their teasing did abhor,
Wished she could sink right through the floor.

From then, my Mom deliberately,
Forgot her Swedish publicly,
And ever after English spoke, 
When e're she talked with other folk.

Before you sympathize too much, 
Blame kids that did make fun and such,
Please note Mom didn’t cry or bawl...
Scholastically outpaced them all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

More Than One?

 We just celebrated the 47th anniversary of our first date.

First Dates are like Dress Rehearsal. If a Dress Rehearsal is terrible, the play will be great. Likewise, if the First Date is terrible, the Marriage will be great.                                                         Diane Tolley

Forty-Seven years and counting!
First dates.
Relationship killer or kindler . . .
I had known Grant for just over two months.
We attended the same church.
He was cute.
Really cute.
We decided to go on a date. Well, actually, I decided and he . . . never mind.
The first half of the date was fairly low-key:
He was driving a volleyball team to an away game.
Because he could.
The team played. We drove home. And that's as far as our plans went.
But there was still evening ahead.
What to do?
We stood there.
Rather awkwardly.
Finally he proposed that we go to his parent's house and see what movies were on TV.
It was the early 70's. Your choices were limited. In fact, you were pretty much stuck with whatever your one TV station had planned.
We were lucky. There was a movie programmed.
But that's where our luck ran out because it was a movie that both of us had seen.
And neither wanted to see again.
But we grabbed snacks and settled in.
I should point out here that Grant was the middle child of a large family. And yet we had the front room to ourselves.
On a Saturday night.
Moving on . . .
I watched the movie.
He slept. (Something that happens to this day . . .)
When the movie ended, sometime around midnight, I woke him and indicated that I was more than ready to go home.
Sleepily, he complied (real word).
The miles to the ranch were covered quickly as we talked and laughed.
A little too quickly.
Suddenly, by the light of his car headlights, we were staring at my parent's house.
What to do?
Shake hands?
It had been a wonderful evening. We had talked and laughed.
And he had taken a nap.
Yep. Wonderful.
We settled on a hug. And the promise of a second date the next evening.
He walked me to my door. And we discovered that, for the first time in the history of the world, Dad had locked it.
It had never happened before.
I turned the knob in disbelief. What on earth was going on?
I walked around to the main doors.
Also locked.
I had somehow slipped into an alternate universe.
I went to my parents' bedroom window and tapped softly.
No answer.
I tapped louder.
Still no answer.
They must be out.
What was I going to do? Visions of staying the night in one of the barns flashed through my head.
I suddenly missed my bed.
I walked back to Grant, still waiting patiently beside the first door.
"Maybe we can open the window into Daddy's office," I said, pointing to the window beside the door.
I tried to push it up. It moved. Half an inch.
"Maybe if we pry it . . ."
Obligingly (great word) Grant grabbed a nearby shovel and pushed the edge under the window.
It slid up some more.
He applied greater pressure. Another inch.
Then, the shovel broke.
I am not making this up.
It really broke. The bottom edge came right off.
Huh. I didn't know they could do that.
Stupid, cheap shovel.
Fortunately, by this time, I could get my fingers under the window and was able to shove it upwards. I climbed through, turned and waved good-bye to my date and slid the window shut.
All was well.
The next day was Sunday. I was looking forward to seeing Grant in church and had settled myself in the chapel and was watching the door.
He finally came through it, rather red-faced, and sat beside me.
I stared at him.
He was embarrassed.
Later, he told me that, as he had entered the building, he had met my father and our Bishop just inside the front doors.
My Dad had grabbed his hand in greeting, then hung onto it and turned to the Bishop.
"Bishop, do you know that this young man broke into my house last night?"
Grant swears his heart fell into his shoes.
Dad then turned to Grant and said, "Didn't you get it?  I didn't want her back!"
Did I mention that Dad is a great joker?
But to this day, I wonder if he really meant it.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Of Mittens and More

Johnny of the second grade was in his new snowsuit, 
The snow outside necessitated also wearing boots,
He huffed and pulled and pulled and huffed, then finally, defeated,
Enlisted Miss Carmichael’s aid to get this job completed.
The two of them, they pulled some more, and finally succeeded,
In getting onto Johnny’s feet the boots he sorely needed,
But when the boy looked down at them, he saw they were mistaken,
“These boots are on the wrong feet,” Johnny said. “My feet are achin’.”
His teacher sighed and pulled them off. Then pushed and pulled till fin’ly,
They had them on his feet again, and settled quite benignly,
“These boots aren’t mine!” our Johnny said. His teacher sighed and then,
She pulled them firmly from his feet, prepared to start again.
“They’re actually my brother’s. Mom said wear ‘em,” Johnny added.
They pulled them on again so that, for Winter, he was padded,
“Go get your mittens!” Teacher said, now sweating to her roots,
“I can’t!” our Johnny said. “You see, I stuffed them in my boots!”

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, join us for the dance,
We'll talk about our potted plants!

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!)...

Mittens (December 5) Today!

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


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