Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, March 24, 2023

A La Mud

All the talk about pie this past week has reminded me of something...
The next generation starts in. Mmmmm...
I've used many, many recipes in my life.
I started with simple: crackers and cheese.
And, believe me, you have to get that one just right . . .
To more complicated: hot dogs.
And I'm sure I don't have to explain the vital importance of the meat to bun ratio. And I won’t even go into the selection and/or serving size of condiments.
But my very first recipe was not nutritious.
Or even edible.
In fact, though it smelled rather good, I wouldn't have fed it to the dog.
Well, actually I did try.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
I was staying with my friend/cousin, Jean.
It was summer.
We had been playing in Aunt Grace's kitchen. Under Aunt Grace's feet.
Till Aunt Grace finally had enough and kicked us outside to play.
Dutifully, we had played.
Then we started looking for something a little more . . . constructive.
“Let’s make mud pies!” Jean suggested.
Mmm. I like pie. “Okay.”
She found an old pot and we started adding ingredients.
I should mention here that, as we didn't have all of the ingredients for pie, and really weren't completely sure what those ingredients were, we . . . erm . . . substituted.
Back to my story . . .
Dirt. (For flour)
Water. (For water) And I should tell you that you have to get this ingredient just right. Too much and your mud pies are sloppy. Not enough and you can’t do a thing with them.  Just FYI.
Rocks. (Those were the raisins)
Two eggs that we stole from the hen house. (For eggs)
Grass. (For coconut)
We didn't mix any awful things into it, though I did find some dog doo that I was tempted to add.
For flavour.
Jean stopped me. “Diane! If you put that in, no one could eat it!”
Important point.
Finally, we mixed our wondrous concoction and formed it carefully into little blobs on the wall of her mother’s flower garden. Right in the sunlight where our pies could cook and get nice and toasty.
Mmmm. They even smelled good.
I never got to taste our pies.
We were called in to dinner and my Mom picked me up just after that.
But I remember them. And how they would have tasted . . .
Our good friend, Shirley was over visiting.
She told us her ‘mud pie’ story.
How she and her sister found an old pail.
Added their ingredients.
Stirred well.
When it comes to the ‘cooking’ part, Shirley’s story takes a different turn from mine.
Her family had a chicken coop.
With a little wood stove inside to keep their feathered friends warm in the cooler months of the year.
Why bother to set their mud concoction into the sun, where the actual ‘baking’ would be iffy, at best.
They would set their creation on the little wood stove.
And boil it.
No sooner said than . . .
I probably don’t have to tell you that the flaws in their technique were almost immediately apparent.
In Shirley’s words . . . “It really stank!”
So, a note to all mud-pie enthusiasts out there.
Don’t boil.
You heard it here first.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Very Guilty

In honour of National PUPPY Day...

Husby and I are empty nesters.
At that point in time, it was a fairly new experience. One that we were enjoying immensely. Maybe because we got all the perks (quiet evenings) with all the blessings (grandkids over daily).
But what we didn't have was a four-footed furry.
Maybe I should explain...
For over thirty years, we raised Old English Sheepdogs. (We love the breed. Smart, loyal, protective, easily trained.
And highly amusing.)
When our last puppy, Aldo, bid us farewell and crossed the rainbow bridge two years before, we decided our 'furry' days were over.
We were truly empty nesters.
Then, that March, our friends got a puppy. An OES cross.
And quite suddenly I knew my own dog days weren't done.
A week later, I was the proud owner of the newest generation of Old English Sheepdogs.
Pandora, but we called her Pandy. Among other things...
She was everything we've come to love about the breed.
And had settled into her own little corner of my heart.
Enough background...
That evening, Husby and I were in the family room, watching the movie 'Dragonslayer'. I was multi-tasking in that I was also working on a puzzle.
Pandy was rousting around, nose to the carpet.
A habit of hers, I must admit.
She rousted herself into Daddy's office.
Now, normally, this wasn't cause for concern as usually, Daddy was in there with her.
This time, he wasn't. (See above.)
I allowed the normal amount of time necessary to wander into the room, realize that your beloved person is not there, and wander out again.
That time had elapsed.
"Pandy!" I called.
She came out immediately.
But the reason for her tardiness became immediately-and painfully-apparent.
And yes, that's an Eat-More bar wrapper stuck to someone's furry face.
I've heard of wearing your guilt.
But never quite this accurately.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Goodbye, Please?

The walks were nearly bare! Then, this morning . . .
 November 8th. They squealed with glee,
They ran outside, both he and she.
For glistening, glorious, flakes of snow,
Upon the ground in drifts did go.

Almost too lovely to believe,
They praised the Lord that they did leave
The desert dry for such a place,
With snow-wet cheeks, they did embrace.

Our Ernest went to shovel, then,
And soon their walks were clean again,
Till the snowplow trundled through,
And on their sidewalk, snow did strew.

He laughed. “I get to shovel more!”
And finished this delightful chore.
Then back inside to watch it all,
The white snow unrelenting, fall.

Next day the sun arose and shone,
Soon all their precious snow was gone,
They sadly groused to neighbour, Bill,
“Don’t fret,” he said. “You’ll get your fill!”

And he was right. A week or so
Would scurry past, then winds would blow,
And with them came eight inches more,
All piled so nicely there. Outdoors.

With scoop in hand, he headed out,
And finished just in time to scout,
The snowplow coming up the road,
And dumping, once again, his load.

He shook his head. “That goofy guy!”
“He must not see as he goes by.”
Then, with a grimace, he did bend,
And shoveled up the snow again.

Next day another foot or so,
Upon their neighbourhood, did go,
It took two hours before he saw,
The sidewalk bare, the snow withdrawn.

Until the driver of the truck,
Deposited his load of muck.
He shook his fist and nearly swore,
Then sighing, started in once more.

I probably don’t have to say,
The snow fell day by day by day,
Poor Ernest and his mighty scoop,
Understandably, were pooped.

Then came that day and the last straw,
Another foot or so he saw,
His shovel broke, he nearly cried,
He threw it at the snowplow guy.

He stomped inside and told his wife,
That he no longer liked this life.
He said, “It’s May. For Heaven’s sake!
Who knows how much more I can take.”

“Before I have a heart attack.
Or I beat someone blue and black!
Go grab your bags and pack your things,
We’re moving back to Desert Springs!”

So If you’re thinking of the snow,
How jolly and how fun to go,
It is as sweet as you perceive,
But in Canada, it never leaves!

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Something Wooden This Way Comes

 Okay, I understand the despair and resulting need and would have probably done something similar if I had the skills. And the time. And perhaps some magical ‘other worldly’ help. Maybe I should start at the beginning…

Geppetto was a lonely woodcutter, living somewhere in the wilds of Italy. (Are there wilds in Italy?) He longed for a friend/son. But, as that wish seemed unlikely to be granted, he resorted to making his own.

Once my parents told me to go make some friends, but it never occurred to me that they could have been talking literally, rather than directionally. Hmmm…I wonder what I could have come up with? Moving on…

That Geppetto, he was one talented woodcarver. The small boy he carved was both beautiful and functional. But not real. I want to stress that here, because the rest of the story will try to suggest otherwise.

This is where the ‘other worldly’ comes into play. Blue Fairy had her eye on kind and gentle Geppetto. Perhaps because he was k&g? (see above) And saw an opportunity to put her wand to good use.

Now I’m a little ‘iffy’ on the whole ‘Blue’ fairy bit. Was she really blue? As in colour. Or just really depressed. None of the versions of this story explain. I think it needs to be explored.

Anyways, regardless of her personal real-or-imagined mental struggles, the Blue Fairy saw a chance to help someone who was suffering. And did what she could to alleviate it. I’m beginning to like her. A lot.

Her spell went something like this: “Now, remember, Pinocchio: be a good boy. And always let your conscience be your guide. Prove yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and someday, you will be a real boy.” Oh, boy.

Right now, I’m wishing someone had chanted that over my four boys. It might have eliminated a lot of ‘Mama’ angst/sleepless nights. Oh, well. It may have taken a little longer, but they made it eventually.

Pinocchio, having realized sentience, immediately went on to wreck the room and burn his own feet off. Okay, yes, it was a rocky start. But he improved. He moved up to truancy, running away and poor decisions.

And lying. Let’s not forget that little gem. But he discovered that a lie, though small at first, “grows and grows until it’s as plain as the nose on your face.” Which in Pinocchio’s case, meant: gi-normous.

True story. Whenever he attempted to tell a lie, his little, wooden bud of a nose grew longer. And longer. Finally sprouting branches and even residents. And no, I’ve never actually seen a nose do that. Horrifying.

The Blue Fairy came to his rescue, sending woodpeckers to peck his tree of a nose back into a standard and acceptable ‘nose’ shape once more. Lesson learned right? Right?! Sadly, there were still other ‘adventures’ brewing…

Listing them. Hang on tight! Running away instead of going to school. Getting puppetnapped by a fairly nasty puppeteer intent on making the best of a little, stringless puppet. Running off again at the enticement of some other nasties.

Only to end up at the enticing-sounding ‘Land of Toys’, and discovering that, in reality, young boys were turning themselves into little beasts and being caged and sold accordingly. That particular scene haunted me for decades. Yikes.

From there, sporting some spanking new ‘donkey’ parts, Pinocchio escapes and, returning finally home, discovers his beloved Geppetto has gone in search of him. There follows some angst as the two of them search desperately for eachother.

Complicated by the fact that Geppetto, and his entire household (ie. cat, fish) have been swallowed by the huge, terrifying and, let’s just say it: doggone rude Dog Fish. Pinocchio has his work cut out for him.

But he has become clever and resilient whist making his bad decisions and figures out that the best way to escape the behemoth that now has them all captive is to make it sneeze. In a word: Ewww.

But it works. Before you can say Gesundheit, Pinocchio et al are skimming the waves ahead of a ‘no more Mr. Nice Guy’ big fish. Pinocchio sacrifices himself to save his beloved Geppetto. And all is well.

Except for the ‘sacrifices himself’ part. Re-enter the Blue Fairy. (I don’t know about you, but I’d like to keep her around. Just sayin’.) Who rewards him for his bravery with life (again) making him a real boy.

Headline: Little Wooden Head Runs for Political Office.
News at 11.
I knew it!

Today’s post is a word challenge! Each month one of us chooses a number between 12 and 50 and the rest craft a post using that number of words one or multiple times.

This month’s word count number is 37. And was brought to you by: Karen of Baking in a Tornado!

Links to the other Word Counters posts:

Baking In ATornado

Monday, March 20, 2023


 My kids' favourite 'Buzzard' joke...

The thrilling circus passed this way,
Folks of the desert came to play,
Poor Bobby Clown, so old and grey,
He’d gone out drinking. Went astray,
Could not find his way back. Dismay!
He did not live to see the day.
And somewhere on the sand, he lay,
Until along about midday,
Some buzzards passing by the way,
Decided: here, they all would stay,
No one alive to tell them ‘nay’,
And good ol’ Bob would be their prey.
The poor old clown had some decay,
And also just the right bouquet,
Knowing nothing’d come their way,
That’s better than a ‘Bob souffle’,
The buzzards’d better not delay,
They started and they ate away.
But one of them, we’ll call him Jay,
Turned up his nose and moved away,
The others watched him with dismay,
Each were wond’dring, “What the hey?”
They stopped and asked him why he strayed…
“Cause it tastes funny,” Jay did say! 

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 celebrate our way,
A little topic called 'Earth Day'!

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!)...
Buzzards (March 20) Today!
Celebrating Earth Day (March 27)
Maps (April 3)
Golf (April 10)
Safety Pins (April 17)
Pigs in Blankets (April 24)
Rhinos (May 1)
Socks (May 8)
Chocolate Chip (May 15)
Musical Instruments (May 22)
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