Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Good Cawse

This week's Delores words are way too much fun!
crow, evening, rapid, mist, emerge, blazing
Follow me . . .

A crow emerges from the mist,
Its blazing eyes can’t be dismissed,
I wonder as I have before,
What did he get his bad rap for?

Did he miss eating all his greens?
And then quit cawlege in his teens?
Drink too much cawfee in his life?
Forget to cawl his loving wife?

Perhaps his drinking went too far,
Spent too much time at his crow bar.
No visits from ol’ Santa Caws,
For frequent and diverse faux pas?

Did his cawstume-wearing e’er portend
An inclination to offend?
And did his friends all scream ‘foul play!’
When they met to play crowquet?

The cawking did our bird eschew,
When fixing plumbing old and new?
And did he horrify his Folks
With cawnstant telling of bad Jokes?

When meeting his albino friend,
Call him cawcasian to the end?
And did he stomp the crowcus flat?
When angry, crowcuss like a brat?

For such a shiny, pretty bird,
His reputation seems absurd!
So, for the record, I dispute
The rapid loss of his repute!

‘Tis evening of a crisp fall day,
And shrouded figures come our way,
Please be kind-hearted, don’t demean
Our slandered crows this Halloween.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fluffy Guardian

Handle with care . . .
I had finished college.
I was now a college graduate.
This meant several things.
1. I was no longer a student.
2. I had to earn my own living
3. I had no idea how to do it
4. I was a bit frightened
My Dad knew the people who published 'The Canadian Hereford Digest'.
Yes, it's just as exciting as it sounds.
And yes, they would give me a job.
Their offices were in Calgary (population 450,000+ in 1975). This necessitated me moving there.
It was a bit larger city than I was used to.
A bit.
Okay, I admit it. Our family had been living outside of Fort MacLeod. Population 3500.
On a ranch.
Population 6.
I don't know what the percentage of difference is.
My estimate would be: large.
I packed up my little, orange Dodge colt and my six-month Old English Sheepdog puppy, Muffy, and headed out.
My best friend, Debbie was living in Calgary, in a comfortable one bedroom apartment.
I could move in with her.
In a matter of hours, it was done.
In a matter of days, I had gotten used to the change of pace that working and living in a large city entailed.
In a matter of weeks, I could fly across said city like a native, making use of the myriad (good word) back streets and little-known avenues.
I was officially a city girl.
I enjoyed my work and the people I worked with.
I got along famously with Debbie.
I was earning $300.00 a month. A fortune!
There really was only one thing that stopped me from being completely happy.
I was still a bit frightened.
Lets face it, Calgary just wasn't a ranch in the Porcupine Hills of Alberta.
For one thing, there were . . . people . . . everywhere you looked. People I didn't know.
And a complete lack of cows.
I did have my dog.
And I found a place to board my horse.
But somehow, that didn't make all of the strangers in my new world any more familiar.
Or friendly.
One Sunday night, I was just returning to my apartment from a weekend at the ranch.
I really hadn't been excited about leaving, so I had put it off until very late.
Very late.
My Muffy and I pulled up in front of the building about 2:00 am.
Now this wouldn't have been a problem back on the ranch. In that safe little world, the most I would have had to worry about was my parents . . . worrying.
Here, there was the unknown.
Suddenly the dark street looked, you know, dark.
And rather scary.
I got out and started unloading my suitcase and boxes of food and donations from my Mom.
Then I proceeded to lock the car door.
Suddenly, Muffy growled.
A deep, forbidding sound.
Then she pressed back against my knees, pushing me against the side of the car.
I stared down at her in surprise.
I should probably mention, here, that Muffy was the gentlest dog ever born.
Her own bark startled her. And I had never heard her growl.
I didn't know she could.
But there, still pressing me back against the car, and still growling deeply, was my gentlest of dogs.
I stared down at her.
A sound intruded.
Footsteps.
I looked up.
Just in time to see two men walk past on the sidewalk.
The far side of the sidewalk.
Both of them were looking at Muffy.
She was definitely looking at them.
Her head was lowered, her stance rigid and the hair on her neck and back, standing up threateningly.
She was almost unrecognizable.
For several moments, we stayed like that.
Muffy, me, and the car.
Which was beginning to dig into my back, by the way.
The men continued on their way, perhaps even quickening their pace a little.
They had disappeared before Muffy quit growling and looked up at me.
Her back end began to wiggle happily once more.
I let out my breath.
We made very quick work of gathering our stuff and getting inside the building.
After that, I made sure I returned, if not in the daylight, at least at a decent hour.
And, oddly enough, I discovered that I was no longer frightened.
And as long as I was accompanied by my guardian.
Gentle Muffy.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Potty 'Train'ing

We are potty training our two-year-old.
With mixed results.
But yesterday, I received a glimmer of hope.
She may be catching on to what 'potty-training' is all about . . .
(Make sure your volume is turned up for this one.)

video

P.S. If you can't hear it, she's saying, "Train go potty! Train go potty!"
We'll keep working on it . . .

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Farm Girl Dating

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
We were playing football.
The full-on, tackle kind.
Oh, our grade six teacher thought she was teaching us ‘flag’ football.
We had the flags and everything.
But we were farm kids.
And flag football was for wussies.
Lloyd had the ball.
And was zipping toward our goal line.
Pretty fast.
The rest of my team had given up and fallen back.
I alone was still running.
I don’t give up easily.
I got him.
Perfect tackle.
At about the ten-yard line.
We both had the skinned elbows to prove it.
He was just as surprised as I was.
From then on, I was the star football player of our grade six P.E. class.
Fleeting glory, but glory just the same.
Moving ahead several years.
I was sitting, chatting with some of my school chums at our high school reunion.
I won’t tell you exactly how long my classmates and I have been out of school. Suffice it to say it’s been a tad more than 39 years.
Sooo . . . back to my reunion.
One man was talking about the dating scene during our high school years.
“I should have asked you out,” he told me. “We all wanted to ask you out.”
I stared at him. “What are you talking about?! You could have asked me out! Any of you could have asked me out!”
He smiled, sort of sheepishly. “No,” he said. “We couldn’t.”
“Umm . . . why?”
“Because we were all terrified of you!”
Oh.
Wait a minute! I’m a nice person!
Then I thought of the times during our younger school years when I outplayed, outran, or outlasted the boys in my class.
Like our football days.
I think he had a point. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

That Slip

Mom. With Dad. Don't ask . . .
What articles of clothing do you treasure?
Get foolishly sentimental (ie. I’m never washing this!) over.
And why?
That jacket you bought that Peter Tork sneezed on when you went to that amazing concert back in ’66?
The red dress that was so eye-popping and perfect at the Christmas dance in ’80?
Those jeans that flattered so well and, even as they became more and more ragged, continued to be your best and truest friends from ’78 through to ‘92?
Those boots that were sooo warm and sooo comfortable that you wept when the sole ripped right out of the left one?
That slip.
Slip?
Ummm . . . Maybe I should explain . . .
My Mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in the 80s.
It is a horrifying, wasting sort of illness.
For several years, she gamely battled it, exercising, proper diet.
Medications.
But the disease won and she passed into eternity on April 9, 2002.
We were happy for her – she had been so ill.
But sad for the rest of us.
In the months after her death, Dad found homes for her jewellery, clothes and keepsakes.
Each of her three daughters carted home boxes of Mom’s ‘stuff’.
Special because it had been hers.
I had great fun going through my boxes.
Immersing myself in the memories.
I put jewellery into my own case, remembering special pieces Mom had worn.
Set fancy, fun hats on the shelf in the closet, thinking about the times I had sneaked into her closet to play dress-up with them.
Hung up dresses and other clothes. More memories.
And went back to my normal life.
Then, Sunday rolled around.
I should point out here that we dress in our best for Sunday worship services.
It’s just our way . . .
I scrambled through my closet for a slip and grabbed the first one I came to. One of my Mom's.
I slipped it on.
And was immediately immersed in the soft scent of Mom’s ‘special occasion’ perfume.
I had forgotten.
Mom had been ill for so long, and, in all that time, had worn no perfume at all.
Suddenly, I was lost in memories.
Mom hugging me before she and Dad went out somewhere special.
Mom sitting beside me in Church.
Mom smiling across from me in a restaurant.
And thousands and thousands more.
It took me a long time to get ready that day.
Stepping from the softly-lit past into the garishly -coloured present took great effort.
After church, I hung the slip up carefully.
Almost reverently.
And vowed never to wash it again.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mind Music

Pure magic inside that head!
Tracy was sitting there, bobbing to her favourite song.
Or at least her favourite-right-this-moment song.
Finally she turned to her mom.
“Mom, what’s that song?”
Her mom looked at her. “What song?”
Here’s where I should explain that the song four-year-old Tracy was bobbing to was running through her head.
And only in her head.
“That song in my head.”
See?
Her mom smiled at her. “I don’t know what song it is.”
“Yes you do! You know . . . that song!”
“Why don’t you try singing a bit of it and then I can help you.”
Tracy puckered up her little face and made a couple of noises. Then she sighed in frustration and said, “I can’t!”
“Well are there any words? You could tell them to me and I’d know.”
Again that earnest ‘I’m trying’ face. Again the sigh of defeat.
Suddenly the little girl brightened. “I know!” she said excitedly. “Come over here!”
Obligingly, her mom moved closer.
“Now put your ear here against mine!” Tracy commanded. “Then you’ll hear it!”
At last! the solution to the 'I've-got-a-song-stuck-in-my-head-and-I-haven't-a-clue-what-it-is' conundrum.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be four again?
Things were so simple then.

P.S. Her mom never mentioned whether or not she heard anything . . .

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Parents' Toys

My first/George's third birthday party.
Notice the bull and matador.
How come I didn't have toys like that?

My favourite toys . . . weren't mine.
Because everyone had better toys than me.
Or at least Mom and Dad did.
Their neat toys were all carefully displayed.
On their fireplace mantle.
Okay, I thought it was weird, too.
Especially since they never, ever played with them.
Not once.
I had watched.
There was a plaster matador and bull set.
One of which, had a cape.
And one, horns.
I'll let you sort that out.
They were immensely fun to play with.
Until Mom caught up with me.
"Diane, put those back!"
Sigh.
Then there were the models of bulls.
Horned and polled Herefords.
They were terrific when one wanted to play farm.
Of course, then the matador's bull would have to join in.
Giving the matador just that much more responsibility.
He was tall and strong and handsome.
He could handle it.
"Diane, what did I tell you?!"
Rats.
But the best of all was the bronze horse.
He was glorious.
Standing looking out across the prairie, ears pricked.
He even had a bronze saddle and bridle.
With bronze reins.
"Diane! How on earth did you lug that thing down there! Put it back at once!"
What?! I was behind the couch! How on earth . . .
Man. That woman could see everywhere.
Mom and Dad's toys entertained me for years.
Until I dropped the matador.
It was an accident!
And twisted those bronze reins off the horse.
Oops. Who knew they would do that?
But I maintain that if they didn't want them played with, they should have put them away.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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