Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Sunday, March 25, 2012

I Can Do It! - or - The Night the Lights Went Out in Alberta

When this . . .
Becomes this . . .







Dinner time on the Stringam ranch was the best part of the day.
Plenty of good food.
Lots of company.
Stimulating conversation.
The quiet melding of day's work and evening's relaxation.
But, as usually happens, the good times must end.
And be followed by the un-stimulating.
The mundane.
The dishes.
A subtle reminder that there was payment required for the privilege of eating at one of the world's best tables.
Sigh.
Everyone had their assignments.
Up until this point, mine had been to collect the silverware.
And things un-breakable.
Oh, and stay out from under foot of those whose job it was to deal with the more fragile of the table's settings.
But I had recently turned eight.
My duties had suddenly become more onerous.
Remember what I said about things breakable?
That would definitely come in here . . .
My job now included the ceremonial carrying of the plates to the sink.
The beautiful plates that featured a hand-drawn etching of either a horse or a bull.
For the first few weeks, I carried them one at a time.
It took a while, but no plate was damaged.
Then I got . . . efficient.
And creative.
If I scraped everything onto one plate, I could stack the plates at the table and, theoretically, carry them several at a time to the sink.
A much more efficient system.
And a great saving of my valuable time.
I did it.
First with a couple of plates.
Then three.
Four.
Finally, through a system of trial and error, I discovered that I could carry a total of eight plates at a time.
The time savings were astronomical.
I staggered under the weight of so many heavy dishes, but I got my job done in a fraction of the time.
Genius.
One evening, Dad had watched me at my job.
Eyeing the heavy stack of plates uncertainly.
“Are you sure you can carry all of those, Diane?”
“Oh, I do it all of the time, Daddy!” I chirped happily, pulling the stack towards me.
“Well they look a bit heavy for you.”
“On, no! Look. I can do it!”
No sooner were the words out of my mouth then the entire stack of beautifully illustrated plates slipped from my hands and fell to the floor.
It was a crash of Biblical proportions.
I don't know what that means, but it sounds mighty.
Which it was.
The crash, I mean.
For a moment, I stared in horror at the mass of broken crockery at my feet.
The sound had drawn people from the far reaches of the house.
And even in from the yard, where the cowboys were enjoying an evening smoke.
Everyone was present to witness my utter failure.
There was only one thing to do.
Cry.
And I made it good.
Angry words were swallowed as everyone rushed to comfort me.
Not.
“Diane, what did I just say?”
Gulp. “The stack was too heavy.”
“And . . .?”
“It wa-a-a-a-s!”
“Okay, no use crying over it,” Mom said, coming to my rescue. “Help me clean it up.”
I should mention here that Jerry, he whose job it was to wash that night, should have thanked me for relieving him of a large part of his chore.
He didn't.
He owes me one.
Moving on . . .
One plate survived.
One of the bulls.
And it remained.
A gentle, subtle reminder that one should never take on too much at once.
Or tragedy can follow.
Good lessons.
Expensively taught.
Sigh.

12 comments:

  1. that was what my Gram called "a lazy mans load" valuable lesson learned

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd forgotten that phrase! My Dad used to say that! Darn. I wish I would have remembered sooner . . .

      Delete
  2. Oh I think your Dad jinxed you. lol If he hadn't said anything you would have done it well. lol
    He could have then said it after you were done.

    I know I stack my plates in the cup board and then once I clipped them with my hand and they all came tumbling down lol

    Happens :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So you understand the noise they make! Ouch!

      Delete
  3. Such memories. How awful. I relived every minute of breaking the pottery milk pitcher that held exactly half a quart. No one yelled or blamed me; it was just cleaned up and life went on. I've spent hours looking for a replacement of Mom's favorite pitcher. I still look.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I looked and looked for replacements. Back then, we didn't have the internet. I'm going to look now . . .

      Delete
  4. Aw poor little kid! And you've got a very good point. How exactly are biblical proportions quantified? What are the cubit to metric conversions on that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, TT! Biblical sounds . . . huge. But how is it measured???

      Delete
  5. Sounds like you were just taking the bulls by the horns. And the bulls won! ha ha :)

    I probably would have cried for at least a couple of days over something that traumatizing! I've been known to cry that long over those kinds of things when I was that age.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, no!!! I just knew what was going to happen after your father said that - it was really all HIS fault!!

    Ah well, they are only "things" after all :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. P. S. That is the most awesome label :)

      Delete
    2. Hmmm . . . I like that! I'm telling him!
      And thank you! I always try to impress you with the labels! :)

      Delete

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