Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Saturday, October 8, 2016

Sweglish

Bergs. My best people.
Marrying into a family is a happy, joyous proposition.
It can also be daunting and just a bit scary.
Even when everyone is on the same page—linguistically speaking.
Aunt June joined the Berg family way back in the sixties.
A city girl, she had a lot to learn about her future husband’s ranching family.
That had nothing to do with . . . ummm . . . ranching.
His parents had immigrated to Canada from Sweden.
He and his siblings were first-generation Canadians.
And Swedish terms largely peppered the family’s daily speak.
So to speak.
Such terms as (forgive me, but I’m going to write these words as they sound, which will probably horrify my Swedish relatives.) Hell. Ringadongen. Shurkfasta. And the ever popular Yamen Ha Do Sit Promaken.
And these were just the words she encountered on her first visit.
Perhaps some explanation is in order . . .
Approaching the house, Uncle Leif and his future bride were met at the door by my MorMor, (Mother’s Mother) and invited in. “Just hang your coats here in the shurkfasta,” she told them.
Okay. That wasn’t too hard to figure out. Coats. Hang.
This may not be so bad.
They walked from said shurkfasta into the large kitchen, where one of the boys was trying to save a step and attempting to pour milk from the crock into a glass.
“No! Hell with the pitcher! Hell with the pitcher!” MorMor said.
Admittedly, future Aunt June’s ears pricked up at that one. But she soon figured that too. Pour.
She even figured out from the conversation about wrangling cows that a ringadongen was a coulee.
Smart girl.
But the one term that stumped her was ‘Yamen Ha Do Sit Promaken?!”
Said with just a touch of wonder and amazement.
And even a bit of head shaking.
Let’s see if we can figure this one out.
Someone was doing something amazing.
And MorMor was watching.
And she said: that phrase.
Okay. That’s as much as I’m going to tell you.
Let’s see what you come up with . . .
Aunt June happily joined the family.
And learned to appreciate, and even participate in the occasional lapses into Sweglish.
It was a very special price to pay for happiness.



Friday, October 7, 2016

Genderly Confused

Girls raised on a ranch, doing 'ranch stuff' alongside the men, are often mistaken for yet another of those men.

Until someone gets close enough to see that there are definite differences.
It's the original 'gender confusion'.
Now, on to my story . . .
Enes, my Mom, like her daughter after her, was raised on a ranch.
Surrounded by brothers.
I had three.
She had eight.
I had sisters.
She didn't.
She spent her days working alongside her brothers.
And playing sports.
I spent my days occasionally crossing paths with my brothers as they worked.
And playing make-believe.
No big surprise that, of the two of us, she was the one with the biggest muscles.
And the most athletic ability.
But like me, dressed in jeans and shirts, and with fair hair cropped short, she was often mistaken for yet another brother.
Shortly after she and my father were married, they were invited to join with the rest of their rural Milk River community in an afternoon pot luck and a game of baseball.
Mom excitedly prepared yummy eats. Sandwiches, salads and her special 'out of this world' pie. And grabbed her baseball glove.
The two of them spent a wonderful time, eating and visiting. Mom got to know many of her neighbours.
The nearest of which lived nine miles away.
Finally, the food was packed up and the game began.
Mom was picked early. She was obviously young and strong.
And there had to be an even number of guys and girls on each team.
Her 'captain' didn't realize that he'd just picked a ringer.
Mom walked up to the plate for her first turn at bat. The ball came towards her.
She swung.
Remember where I mentioned that she had played sports with her brothers?
She often beat them.
The bat connected with the ball with a healthy 'crack'.
And sent it out of the park.
So to speak.
The ball shot over the outfielder's heads.
They stared at it blankly for a moment.
Then started to run.
Her team was ecstatic.
One young team member crowed loudly, “Atta Boy! Enes, old girl!”
And the confusion continues . . .
I know, I know. Who'd of thought . . .

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Needed Trip




What do you say about the most amazing holiday you’ve ever taken?
Ever. Taken.
That is was fantastic. Stupendous. Awesome. Astonishing. Surprising. Astounding. Remarkable. Over-whelming. Breath-taking. Tremendous. Grand. Outstanding. Impressive. Magnificent.
I’ve run out of impressive words . . .
But I hope you get the message.
We had wonderful time.
But the most important part about it had nothing to do with the shopping, or seeing the places only dreamed about.
Maybe I should tell you about it . . .
We flew into Istanbul.
Even the name stirs up the imagination. Here is the site of a hundred, hundred years of HISTORY. Of sultans and harems and the mysterious Bosporus. Of conquering armies and a people who refused to fade away.
Okay. Yes. I read a lot.
We were ushered through the remarkably clean airport and into a waiting cab (a large one because we have large luggage. Yes. Large luggage. I’m going to go with that.)
Then a breath-snatching view of ancient walls interspersed with modern skyscrapers as we wound our way through the old city to our former-mansion-built-in-1835-and-now-an-amazing-hotel. Square in the middle of everything.
I’m not kidding. We were within walking distance of Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Egyptian Spice Market, Galata Tower and bridge, and many more.
Every view was astounding. Around every corner, something that dropped the jaw.
And you're right. I spent a lot of time with my mouth open.
Then there were the scents. The braziers, coffee, spices, roasting corn, roasting meats, incense, seawater, perfumes, baking pastries, bread, roasting chestnuts, and the occasional whiff of diesel (In a town of 15 million, some of that is expected).
And the people. (Like our new friend Erik and the amazing food he serves in our now-favourite restaurant, Ab-i Nefis. (I have his phone number if you want to make a reservation...)) The intelligent, friendly, courteous, dedicated, hard-working, elegant individuals who crowded the streets and the markets. Who cleaned and cooked and served and bargained and spoke better English than their Canadian visitors, and joked and laughed and carried children while pushing an empty stroller.
And finally, and most important, the five-times daily call to prayer (adhan).
The most amazing part of the whole experience.
There is something so reassuring and comforting in such a touching and heartfelt display of faith. It brought us to tears every single time. And brought us to a standstill. While much of Istanbul went on around us, the Canadians were transfixed by the beautiful voices calling us to remember to be grateful. To have faith. And to come and worship.
I acknowledge that there is no god but Allah.
I acknowledge that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (After prophethood).
Hasten to prayer (Salah).
Hasten to success.
Prayer is better than sleep (Recited only for Fajr prayer's Adhan).
God is greatest.
There is no god but Allah.
At times, the voices were all around us. Some taking turns singing out their beckoning message. They woke us in the early morning and reminded us one last time before sleep.
On my last morning in Istanbul, I woke to the voices beginning to sing in the distance. Then they were overpowered by the Muezzin in the mosque across the street from us.
From the kitchen of the hotel, I could smell the coffee brewing and the bread just coming out of the oven.
I lay there, realizing just how much I was going to miss this wonderful land of faith and food and friendship.
I needed this trip. I needed to come to Turkey. To see that 99.9% of the Muslim people are not those who make the headlines. But are family members who are spending their lives working, serving, laughing, caring and worshiping.
I loved my stay in Istanbul.
As soon as I can, I’ll be back.
I have friends there.
First of all: Tea. As it always comes in Turkey.
Our new Turkish family.
View inside our hotel.

Our room.
View from our hotel. Astounding.
Only hinted at by my IPhone.
Süleymaniye Mosque.
I hope I look as good when I'm 600 years old!
What can I say? Spices!!!
More spices.
Galata Tower. From the outside.
Galata Tower. From the inside looking outside.

Yes. It is Suleman. Or at least he would have you think so...


Erik. Cooking us supper. Testi-kebab. Mmmmmm.
The Blue Mosque. As photographed by an amateur. 

Hagia Sofia. Ditto.
Hagia Sofia. Professional shot.
My favourite photo. A sweet girl inside Hagia Sofia.
Friendly Canadian Tourists.

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