Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Blink

In happier times...

My Dad was in the blacksmith shop.
And wherever Dad went, we kids trailed after.
Because.
Why is it that everything Dad does is interesting?
For the first couple of minutes.
After that, one's short attention span rather gets in the way.
But I'm getting ahead of myself . . .
Two-year-old Blair had followed Dad to the shop. Mom was in hospital with newborn sister, Anita, and Gramma was babysitting.
But Dad did such interesting things . . .
For a short time, Blair had been fascinated with simply watching as Dad puttered.
Then, other interesting sights caught his attention.
Tools.
Horseshoes.
Old paint cans filled with stuff.
He began to explore.
Dad kept an eye on him as he toddled about.
Then, Dad turned on the air compressor.
Its roar filled the old, log-built room and drew every kid in the vicinity.
Blair.
He watched, fascinated as the wheel spun.
"Now you stay back, son," Dad told him firmly.
And he did. For a very, very long time. He was two. Thirty seconds is a very, very long time when you're two.
Dad turned his back for a moment.
Blair saw his chance. He moved forward and reached out to touch the spinning wheel. For a moment, he couldn't figure out what had happened.
Then the pain started.
He screamed.
Dad spun around to see Blair shaking his hand and spraying blood everywhere.
He grabbed him, pulled out his every-ready handkerchief to wrap around the wounded hand and headed for the house.
Dad made the trip to the hospital in record time.
And that is something when you are traveling on uncertain dirt roads.
Soon, Blair was home again, with a neat glove bandage around his pointer finger.
Which now was missing part of the first joint.
Dad figures that the spinning belt caught it and nipped it off against the flywheel.
A terrible wound.
Leaving a scar. And a story to impress girls with twenty years later.
Ahem . . .
But a fixable wound.
And a solemn reminder that turning your back for a second is all it takes.
Ranches can be dangerous.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wings of Death

Does this scare you?

Debbie's family lived on a ranch not far from ours. Her father had worked for my parents as a young man, before he had married.
They had remained good friends.
As had Debbie and I, once we had made our respective appearances (ie. born).
In our senior year, I stayed with them for a semester. They were kind, wonderful people. Very clever and full of fun.
Debbie and I had a room in the basement. Lovely twin beds and assorted other furniture.
With the lamp hanging over her bed.
This is an important point.
She was also terrified of moths.
Another important point.
And I liked to read at night after climbing into bed.
These all tie together.
Let me explain . . .
It was late. Debbie had long been trying to sleep.
I was reading.
It never occurred to me that I was being inconsiderate, though I knew full well the room's only light hung directly over her.
She tossed and turned and finally huffed and, throwing back the covers, got out of bed.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“Bathroom,” she mumbled.
Just then, a moth that had been fluttering around in the light for the past half-hour, made the mistake of appearing where Debbie could see him. “Screech!” In a blur, she headed towards the door.
For some inexplicable reason, the moth followed her out into the dark hall.
You never can tell with moths.
There was another horrendous screech and Debbie darted back into the room, jumped into her bed and pulled the covers over her head.
The moth fluttered in happily behind her and was soon once more dancing in the light.
“STUPID MOTH! SHUT OFF THAT STUPID LIGHT!” Debbie shouted, through the covers.
I stared at the quivering lump that was my friend. “How on earth did you know the moth followed you into the hall?”
“HE TOUCHED MY FACE! SHUT OFF THE LIGHT!”
I complied.
Imagine. Frightened of a silly moth.
Now if it had been something truly scary. Like a spider . . .

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Baby Words

Husby and I spent the last weekend in Provo, Utah.
He, walking, relaxing and catching-up-on-sleep in the Marriott.
Me, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ally Condie, Brandon Sanderson, James Dashner and Jennifer Nielsen at the Storymakers Conference.
Yep. Just me (and over 700 other writers) were all sharing with and learning from the best and brightest, including several New York Times bestselling authors.
What a weekend!
But, as with any good thing, it ended. And now I have the long months to wait until Storymakers 2018.
But, after we had packed up and checked out, something happened that made the joyous weekend of books and words last just a teensy bit longer . . .
Husby and I decided to attend Church a short distance from the hotel. We walked in as the congregation was singing a hymn. (Yes, we were late.)
We took a seat near the back, where many of the families with small children had taken up residence. (And yes, I was missing my grandchildren, so this was the perfect place for us.)
A tiny girl—just shy of actually walking—was in the pew just across the aisle from us. For the first few seconds, she stared steadily at Husby’s bearded face.
Yeah, he gets that a lot.
Then another couple walked in (We weren’t the latest arrivals. Whew!) with a tinier baby in a carrier. They took a seat a few rows back from us and set the carrier down on the floor in the aisle right next to their bench.
The little girl’s attention was immediately diverted. “OOOH!” she said, pointing to the baby. Getting down on her hands and knees, she quickly closed the distance between her and her soon-to-be-best-friend.
Her parents watched her go.
Did they jump up and retrieve their wandering daughter?
Nope.
Instead, her father quietly took out a board book and propped it up on the floor in the aisle beside their family’s pew where it would be in plain sight of their little explorer.
The tiny girl sat down beside the baby carrier, then spied the book.
“OOOH!” she said again. She started crawling back toward her family. And her book.
Halfway back, she again sat down, her head swiveling between the baby and the book. Hmmm . . . which to pursue?
Finally, decision made, she closed the distance between her and her reading material. Happily, she grabbed the book. Her dad grabbed her and the two of them proceeded to make their way through something brightly-coloured and catchy.
The baby in the carrier slept on, unaware that her friend had abandoned her for an adventure of the printed kind.
And I realized how important it is that we are readers. That we are raising future readers.
And the thought struck: If more children chose reading over hanging with friends, what kind of world would we live in?
Just wondering . . .


Monday, May 15, 2017

Honey Bun

My husby and I went to dinner today.
It’s something we both like to do.
(Let’s face it, I love it when someone else cooks,
Then tidies and does dishes, too.)

Talk drifted through topics both varied and wide,
Like politics, family and pain,
(With short bouts of silence to fork in some food,)
Then starting the talk once again.

We studied our fellow restaurant customers,
And yes. All our comments were nice.
(I know it was something you wondered about,
We were tempted at least once or twice.)

Then the dialogue turned, as it oftentimes does,
To topics light-hearted, amusing,
(I admit I prefer it when talk turns that way
I find it to be less confusing.)

We were talking of heroes and who we thought great,
Of qualities never found lacking,
And whom should be honored. Whom we should retain,
And which should just be sent packing.

My Husby’s my hero, I’ll freely admit.
Though, compared to the others, he’s…round.
His kindness and his generosity shine,
And with many good things, he abounds.

But Husby decided as the talking went on,
My Stud Muffin he just couldn’t be.
Instead he’d consider himself something more,
He’d be my Stud Bun now. To me.

So know as your reading this, Husby and me,
Are having some wonderful fun,
Exploring and wandering throughout the world,
Just me and my honey(stud)bun.

Monday needed help.
So Delores, Jenny and I decided that a little poetry would liven things up a bit.
This is my attempt. 
Hurry over to see what they’ve done!

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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