Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Saturday, October 31, 2015

Novel News

I am so excited to announce that my newest novel is also my Granddaughter's newest novel!
It's true!
High water has just been released.
And it was co-written with my eldest granddaughter, Megan!





High Water was conceived during our annual hike in the great Rocky Mountains.
So this is it.
The next generation.
I could die happy right now.
But I think I will stick around for a while and see which of my other amazing grandkids has a story to tell.
Meanwhile . . .
Interested in a great read for the Tweens in your life?
Check it out!
High Water

Friday, October 30, 2015

Small But Mighty

Our youngest granddaughter, Baby Girl (hereinafter known as BG) was a tiny little thing.
Not walking yet, she scurried using the time-honored technique perfected by infants and babies since earth started.
Hands and knees.
At eleven months old, she could sure get around.
Her favourite toy/workout apparatus was her rocking moose - one of many made by my Dad, BG’s great-granddad.
(Yes, I said moose. We live in Canada, it seems apropos.)
If BG wasn’t busily exploring somewhere she shouldn’t, she could be found on that moose. Rocking wildly.
And she was more than a little possessive.
Something that had only recently discovered.
Allow me to illustrate . . .
BG, the youngest of four siblings, was underfoot in the kitchen.
Her oldest sister, nine years her senior, saw an opportunity to take a ride on the currently unoccupied moose. (Hmm. There’s a statement you don’t see often!)
I should mention here that said older sister had waist-length hair.
This will be important later.
Moving on . . .
BG looked over and spotted her sibling on her moose.
Hey!
She motored over and, latching onto the moose’s tail, levered herself to her feet.
Balancing there, she reached out and grabbed a hank of her sister’s hair.
Then she pulled.
“Ahh! Mom!” eldest sister squawked.
BG pulled again.
“Mom! She’s got me!”
BG tugged and tugged and finally, eldest sister disentangled herself and dismounted.
Her youngest sibling lost no time in climbing aboard.
Then she turned and grinned at her sister.
A knowing, ‘Nya-nya-nya-nya’ sort of grin, complete with wrinkled nose and sparkling eyes.
Did I mention that she was eleven months old?!
I predicted she’d be CEO of a major company by the time she’s five.
Stay tuned . . .
The innocent bystander/cause-of-it-all.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Lights Out

Husby has always paid the bills in our home.
As a single income family and he the one earning the money, it seemed apropos.
He has also tried to convince his rather large family that we need to at least make a show of being economical.
It’s an uphill battle.
Lights are a biggie.
Because power is a biggie.
It isn’t unusual for one to hear – several times per day – the phrase, “You forgot to shut off the light!”
You’d think we’d learn.
Sometimes, though, the shoe is on the other foot.
With mixed results . . .
Husby and I were getting ready for bed.
Actually, he had already readied and was cozily cocooned and, I thought, drowsy.
I was a few minutes behind him.
I approached the closet wherein the change to pajamas would occur.
And noticed that he – the-mighty-earner-of-the-money-and-payer-of-the-bills – had left the light on.
My day (night) had come.
“You left the light on!” I said gleefully as I entered the closet.
I should probably mention here that some joker, when designing the closet, put the light switch on the outside.
No sooner had I closed the door, when the light went off.
Yeah. He thought it was pretty funny, too.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cat Cleaning

Two things you have to know before I start.
Blacken was a black cat. A thirty-pound black cat.
And Blacken could take care of himself . . .
It was a fairly normal day in the Hippard household.
People doing . . . household things. Cooking, tending children, office work, cleaning.
It was this last that was ultimately responsible for the ‘incident’.
Logan was in the office, attending to the afore-mentioned work when he detected a change in the regular household sounds.
A different voice.
A man’s.
Stepping to the door, he clearly heard, “And as you can see, the Sux Vacuum can easily clean up this mess. Far better than any other conventional cleaning product. Because it really sucks!”
Or some such statement-guaranteed-to-make-a-sale.
Shaking his head, Logan returned to his work.
But no sooner had he crossed the room, when he heard, “And now I’d like to show you the ‘pet attachment’.”
Logan knew the only animal that could possibly be within reach was Blacken (see above).
This, he had to see . . .
Hurrying down the short hallway, Logan was just in time to see the salesman – not without difficulty – pick the large cat up from its comfortable ‘I’m-relaxing-don’t-bother-me-if-you-know-what’s-good-for-you’ position on the living room rug.
Gripping the animal firmly, he picked up the vacuum hose with handy-dandy pet attachment . . . erm . . . attached.
“Okay, turn it on!” he said to someone else in the room.
The sound of the motor was immediate.
As was what happened next.
Just a hair (pardon the pun) behind the sound of the motor, and in an effort to get somewhere – anywhere – else, the cat instantly came to life.
With every sharpened digit fully extended, it climbed the man’s face.
And leaped from the top of his head to the nearest vacuum-less place.
Everyone in the room, with the possible exception of the two protagonists, saw the fall-on-the-floor-laughing potential of the incident.
Which they did.
For some minutes.
Because.
I should probably mention, here, that both claw-er and claw-ee survived the encounter – though the cat with much less wear and tear.
And, possibly in an act of contrition, the family purchased the vacuum.
Without the pet attachment.



Monday, October 26, 2015

Church Bunnies

As a rancher, during the work week, Dad was usually seen in work shirts and pants.
Heavy boots.
Leather gloves.
But on Sundays, all of that changed.
He would appear, dignified and tidy, in 'church' attire.
Suit.
White shirt.
Polished boots.
And a tie.
Usually, Dad chose his own ties.
He had good taste.
Well . . . conservative taste.
No garish patterns.
No fluorescent colours.
Yep. Conservative.
But one of his ties stands out in my memory.
One that . . . wasn't conservative.
It was a quiet, dark tie.
With tiny, white polka-dots.
His favourite.
He wore it for three years.
And that is hilarious.
Maybe I should explain . . .
One day, just after church, I was giving my dad a hug.
Something I did often.
But now I was getting tall enough that his tie and my eyes were pretty much on the same level.
I buried my face in his clean, white shirt.
Then I opened my eyes.
And saw . . . dots.
No . . . wait . . . they weren't dots.
They were . . . something else.
I grabbed his tie and examined it closely.
Huh.
“Dad, do you know what's on this tie?”
“Polka-dots,” came the ready answer.
I lifted the end of the tie up to his face and held it there.
He looked. Then took the tie from me and looked again a bit more carefully. “Oh,” he said.
That tie he had been wearing for the past three years, teaching and/or officiating in church before lots and lots of people.
That tie.
Well, the tiny, regular pattern?
Wasn't polka-dots.
No.
It was playboy bunny heads.
Tiny little white playboy bunny heads.
My dad had been a leader in our local church congregation for three years . . .
Wearing a tie with playboy bunny heads on it.
See? Hilarious.
I think he thought it was funny, too.
But the tie disappeared.
Where it ended up, only big brother, George, knows.

When he passed away, Dad still had quite a collection of ties.
Long.
Cork.
Bow.
Feather.
Bolo.
But not one of them had polka dots.
Real or imagined.

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The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael

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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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