Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Saturday, April 28, 2018

Selective Correcting


Spelling is her strong suit.
As my editor, it’s kind of a necessity.
But I caught her!
Maybe I should explain . . .
My daughter (and said editor) was to be part of a program to collect data for a health study.
This involved bloodwork.
And the drawing of said blood.
All was well. One by one the victims participants took their places on one of the gurneys.
And, also one by one, donated their small bit to research.
It was Daughter/Editor’s turn.
The nurse told her the process was a little painful (Medical speak for ‘it’s going to hurt like the dickens’.) The nurse’s suggestion was that D/E take her mind off it by spelling ‘Christmas’ backwards.
Backwards? D/E frowned and shrugged. “Okay.” She started in. “Ummm . . . S, A, M . . . Ow!”
A-Ha! This is the woman who corrects my spelling.
And even I know that, in no place in the word ‘Christmas’ do the letters ‘O’ or ‘W’ exist.
Finally. I get to correct her spelling!
The day is mine.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Love Express-ed

“Well, I think you’re crazy, Man.”
I gave my co-worker a rather weak smile. “I think so, too.” I slid into my van, silently cursing cupid, love and every other word or emotion associated with the day, then put the van into gear and pulled out.
Considering it was such a busy day for those of us on the delivery end of things with our packages and flowers and—yes, even our hate mail—I had managed to hit a lull in the traffic and my trip to her building was quick and relatively painless.
Did I mention quick? In too short a time, I was parked and staring up at the four floors between she and me.
Four floors.
Could I make it?
Did I really want to?
I gripped the package in one hand and continued to stare. Then I took a deep breath.
Better get it behind me.
I climbed out of my van and entered the building.
There were a couple of well-dressed women waiting for the single elevator and I joined them just as the door slid open.
“Ha! Do you really think that?” the one said to the other, pressing the button for ‘2’.
I waited for her to back away, then pressed the ‘4’ and stared up at the lights above the door. Man, this elevator was slow.
“I truly do. That woman is a whack-job.”
“Well, at least she doesn’t report to you.”
I tried not to listen, but you know how it is when you are enclosed with strangers.
In a painfully slow elevator.
“Poor Rebecca. I think she is at her wits end.”
The other woman shrugged. “Well, Rebecca didn’t have that many wits to start with.”
Both women laughed as the door slid open. They disappeared and the doors closed again.
There was a grinding sound as the elevator lurched into action once more.
The light flashed behind the ‘3’ and I sighed. One more floor.
Just as the ‘4’ lit up, the elevator jerked to a sudden halt. I put a hand on the wall to brace myself, then stared at the doors, willing them to open.
They didn’t.
Suddenly, something poked between and wrenched them apart slightly. “Is anyone in there?” a disembodied female voice called out.
“Erm—yes,” I said.
“I’ll have you out in a jiffy!” The voice went on, muttering. “Stupid elevator. How could we be cursed with such a thing?” There was a pause. Then, “I ban you to the depths of hell!”
“What?” I gasped.
“Not you! This miserable *grunt* stupid *grunt* box! Of course it would die on THIS day. This day of heart break and misery!”
Whatever had been slid between the doors continued to wrench at them. Then something clanged and fingers appeared. Stubby, capable fingers.
Familiar fingers.
The doors finally opened enough that I was able to catch a glimpse of a wide, reddened face topped by thinning grey hair scraped into a bun at the back of her head.
White teeth were clutching the woman’s lower lip as thick arms strained to pry the doors apart. “Just. One. More.”
The doors were finally wide enough that I was able to duck and slip through. Or so I thought. When I was part way, her grip slipped and the doors slid shut.
“I’ll save you!” the woman shrieked. Releasing her hold, she grabbed my hand, braced her feet on the doors, and pulled.
I popped out--leaving at least one button and I think a bit of skin behind--and landed on my knees. She had fallen heavily onto her fairly broad backside. We stared at each other for a moment.
Then I held up the package still clutched in my left hand. “Erm—I have a d-delivery.”
She frowned and reached for it. “For me?”
I nodded.
“Where’s your clipboard?”
“Erm—I forgot it.”
She raised thinning eyebrows. “Forgot?”
I felt warm colour rush into my face. “It really wasn’t necess—”
She was already tearing the envelope open. A velvet ring box slid out into her hand. She opened it and looked at me, rubbery lips a round ‘o’ of surprise. “Bruce?”
“Erm—Clara will you—?”
“I do.”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Plane Dating

I could hear her voice as I came down the hall.
It was raised.
Have I mentioned I don’t like raised?
I don’t.
“What?! What?! What are you talking about?! How is this my fault?!” The rather grating voice was up at least an octave.
Oh, man. Someone was getting it in the ear. Instinctively, my steps slowed.
“I’m going to come right through this phone and choke you till you’re dead!”
Better listen, pal. If it could be done, she’d be the person who could do it. Every alarm should be going off in your head. I shivered. I could just picture that burly arm emerging from the receiver.
“Why you little pipsqueak! I’ve got half a mind to ta- . . .” the voice broke in the middle.
Uh-oh. He cut her off. Buddy, never cut her off.
“Why you . . .!”
Silence. Buddy was talking again. We were obviously dealing with a rebel here. A rather brave rebel.
“But . . .!”
More silence.
“I’m telling you, it’s smashed! Smashed!”
It didn’t seem possible for that voice to rise higher, but it did.
“And we’ve waited weeks for that airplane model! Weeks! It’s the key display for our annual Royal Spring show! Made by prisoners while they were in a POW camp in Japan. Have you got no respect, man?!”
Oh, man. She’s playing the respect card . . . I’d reached the end of the hall. The wide reception area was before me. I could see Clara’s desk. She was turned slightly away, but I could see how red her wide face was. I rubbed a hand over my head and seriously considered a full retreat.
She turned slightly. I froze. What is it they say about carnivores’ visual acuity?
A model airplane was sitting in front of her on her desk. I frowned. It looked all right to me. Could this be the subject of her discussion?
She suddenly vaulted to her feet. “You listen to me, you . . . you . . .” Words seem to fail her. Her face was now more of a purplish colour.
I stared. I’d never seen this happen before.
“Well, it’s up to you to send someone to fix it!” A pause. “I don’t care if he just finished his rounds for the day. I need him to come back!” Another pause. “Listen, mister! I’ve got half a mind to bring this by your office and stick it in your one good eye!”
Uh-oh. She was threatening real violence now. Maybe I should . . . I stepped into the room.
Clara spun around and looked at me. Then jammed the phone down on its cradle. “Well, it’s about time! I’ve been screaming at your boss for 10 minutes!”
“Uh. Yeah. He sent me here as soon as he heard your voice. Was there something you need me to fix?”
She made a face.  “Are you kidding?” She moved around her desk. “Maybe we should stop meeting like this.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Doing the Dance

More Bruce and Clara.

Wherein nothing is explained . . .
David Handschuh
Or something similar . . .

Her hair was down.
It was never down. Usually, she kept it scraped tightly back into a rusty, greying bun on the back of her head.
I admit it. I stared.
“It’s you!” She cooed.
Did you know people can coo? Well, they can.
“Umm . . . yes. It’s me. The same person as yester . . .”
“Don’t speak!” Her large, surprisingly statuesque body slipped around the end of her desk. She slid red-tipped nails across its gleaming surface and her fairly prosaic print dress actually swirled provocatively as she floated toward me. “Just . . . be.”
I felt my eyebrows go up. “O-okay.” I glanced around. “Umm . . . be what?”
She laughed. A soft, throaty little burst of sound. “Yourself, darling. Just be yourself.”
“Oh. That. I think I can . . .”
“Don’t talk.”
“But how can I be myself if I can’t . . .”
She placed gentle fingers against my mouth.
“. . . talk?” The word came out justifiably muffled.
“Feel the music, darling.” She was starting to sway.
I frowned. “Music?”
“Hush.”
“Hushing.”
Her arms came out, one wrapping itself about my shoulders, the other reaching for my wrist. For several seconds, we swayed to some music that only she could hear. I could feel the heat of her plump arm where it touched my back. Her hand felt slightly moist on the skin just above my hand.
“Oh, this is it, darling!” she whispered.
“What?”
Just then, showing more moves than a mime and catching me completely unawares, she sent me into a dramatic dip.
I admit it. I screamed.
Chuckling, she set me on the floor and stepped across me, heading back toward her desk. “Bring me something exciting today, Bruce?”
“Umm . . .” I thought about that one. “Well . . .”
She picked up the package I had dropped when she grabbed me. “Oooh! I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time!”
I laid my head back against the cool granite tiles and thought seriously about asking for a transfer. Then I lifted the hand still carrying my clipboard. “Don’t forget to sign . . .”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Devil's Delivery

Before. 30-year-old kitchen
Today. Sigh.
 The work on our new kitchen continues.
But now all the cuboards are gone. And my sink.
But I have hope that all will--one day--be renewed.
So, because this is a busy week, I thought I'd revisit Bruce and Clara. My two most unlikely sweethearts.
Oops . . . spoilers . . .


My son works for Fed-Ex.
This is for him . . .

“Ma’am, would you be so kind as to . . .” I got no further.
The large woman seated behind the desk surged to her feet and pointed a plump, shaking finger at me. “Insubordination!” she shrieked.
I felt my eyes widen. I took a step back. “Ex-excuse me?”
“You miserable excuse for a man!” Her voice became even shriller. “What do you mean by coming here at this hour?!” She shot a telling glance at the nearby clock.
“I . . . what?”
Her eyes narrowed. “I see retribution for you! I see despair and a plethora of demons just waiting to grasp you in their claws and pull you down to where you will be properly inducted into those halls from which the wicked forever burn and never escape!”
I blinked and looked around, then indicated myself questioningly.
The finger came out again. “Yes, you! Demon-spawn!” She waved her hand, indicating the spotless corridors that lead off in every direction. “Watch and beware. The demons are preparing as we speak. Your time is at hand!”
I glanced rather nervously to the right and left. “Demons? C-claws? But I only . . .”
“Speak not! You will only seal your fate!”
“Seal my . . . but I came to . . .”
“Silence!” the voice had become a shrieking siren of sound. The small, watery, piercing eyes glanced down at my hands. “Hold! What do you carry there?”
I lifted an almost-forgotten package. “I . . . um . . .”
“Is it a potion? A talisman? Something from your master?”
“I . . . master? Well, actually, yes.”
“Give it to me little man! Before I set the denizens of hell upon you!”
“Ummm . . . here.”
She pounced, holding the seized package up and peering at it closely.
I lifted the clipboard in my other hand. “Erm . . . you’ll have to sign here. And here.”
“Ooh! It’s my samples from the museum!” The woman poked out a thick tongue and licked rubbery lips which had curved into the semblance of a smile. Then she grabbed a pen and scribbled next to my finger. “There! Thanks, Bruce! Next time, don’t be late!”
“See you tomorrow, Clara.” 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mr. Sun


I give a smile to Mr. Sun,
With his appearance, Winter’s done,
The green and warmth from him are spun,
As life returns to everyone.

And in his light, with joy, I bask,
Surely, this is all I ask,
To close my eyes and tip my flask,
Forget the snow and Winter tasks.

Ooh. See the sunhat I have brought,
And salves. With burns, I won’t get caught,
I’ll do the things I know I ought,
Cause sun, you know, can be so hot!

So now I’m at the house herein,
Conditioned air that cools my skin,
So tell me why I wear a grin,
When Mr. Sun returns again?

Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we three besought,
To try to make the week begin,
With gentle thoughts--perhaps a grin?
So Jenny and Delores, we,
Now post our poems for you to see.
And when you’ve read what we have brought,
Did we help? Or did we not . . .

Come back next week, it won't be hard,
We three will spend time in the yard.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Archaeological Pockets

When my kids were little, I could trace their entire day in what they spilled on their clothing.
Or from what came out of their pockets.
Now to today's story.
A couple of things first . . .
I’ve taken to wearing what my grandkids call, ‘Grandma pants’. Elastic waist. Stretchy.
Comfortable.
There is one drawback.
They have no pockets.
None.
And I’ve looked.
So, inventive person that I am, I’ve also taken to wearing a vest.
That does have pockets.
Maybe not the most fashionable Grandma out there.
But certainly one of the most comfortable. And stocked, rather than stacked.
And that brings me to today . . .
It was time to throw today’s vest (and pants, etc.) into the laundry.
First is the ceremony of the ‘emptying-of-the-aforementioned-pockets’.
I laid the items out on the cupboard, ready for re-insertion into my clean vest.
I looked at said items.
And realized they say a lot about me.
First, the pen. As an author, one never knows when one will have to sign something. Preferably one’s books. Thus, I am never without a pen. You’ll notice it is a particular type. My personal favourite.
Next, the safety pin. We just finished a theatrical production imaginatively named, The Toy Box. As general odd-job person behind the production, I always found myself in need of safety pins. One never knows when a soldier, Barbie, Clown or stuffie might need a quick fixer-upper. The pin has simply not been removed. Yet. Perhaps in time for next year’s production . . .
Nail file. With the dry weather, my aged nails are constantly chipping, cracking or breaking. No more explanation needed.
Flosser and toothpick. Aged teeth seem to collect half of what I eat. True story.
Playmobile Lamp and Lego dot. In my household, one plays with Playmobile or Lego out of self-defence. One must always be prepared.
Missing: The used Kleenex. It was pretty self-explanatory anyways. And besides: Ewww.
So there you have it. The story behind the contents of my pockets.
So what do your pockets say about you?

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