Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Tuesday, December 31, 2019

We're Off...Again

Today, we embark...
It's winter here in Edmonton, Alberta.
I know this will come as no surprise. It's been cold and snowy for over two months.
But now it's officially official.
So, once again, Husby says it's time to escape.
And I'm agreeing!
This year, we're off to Guadeloupe.
Two months of sun and sea.
I will stay in touch, Wifi (and weather) permitting.

And HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Wherever you happen to be!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Never Again

Bob’s party was a hit. And Jack had gladly overdone,
Sampling every drink and having way, way too much fun,
But when the party ended, he knew he'd had too much stout,
So he handed Bob his car keys and on foot, he started out.
He’d stumbled for a block or two, then a cop came from the dark,
And stopped him as ol’ Jack was stumb'ling out across the park.
“’Tis half-past four, and time you were at home and safely bedded.
“Just where have you been, lad?” he said. “And tell me where you’re headed.”
Well Jack just looked at him and tried to straighten up his sight,
But everything stayed blurry, though he tried with all his might.
So finally, he shrugged and gave the cop a painful smile,
“I’m headed to a lecture, sir. And it will take a while.”
“A lecture at this time of night? Well, surely you are kidding!
“Not fun at all, in fact it sounds like it would be forbidding!”
Well, Jackie shrugged and then he frowned a tiny, little frown,
“It’s true, sir,” he protested. “And it’s right here in this town!
“Now I will try to save you from an incorrect conjecture,
Cause I’m really on my way to sit and listen to a lecture!”
The cop frowned, “Who'd give lectures at this horrid time of night?”
Well Jack just shrugged and snorted. “Sir. I'll tell you. It’s my wife!”

Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With gentle thoughts,
Perhaps a grin?
So all of us, together, we
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you’ve seen what we have wrought…
Did we help?
Or did we not?


Next week the holidays will be past,
Let's talk of something that goes fast!

I hope you all have a fantastic 2020!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Mall Miracle

Go here. Have fun.
My SIL is a good, hard worker—steady and dependable.
He provides for his family.
All the necessities of life.
The only thing missing is extra money for . . . extras.
Trips to West Edmonton Mall for a day at Galaxyland aren’t within the scope of their usual budget. Thus it was with great joy that their family received, as a gift, passes for just that. A day ‘doing the rides’ and enjoying the fun at the world-famous park.
They packed up snacks and kids and made the twenty-minute trip to The Mall.
They rode, laughed, screamed and loved everything from the Carousel to the Mindbender. Finally, happily exhausted, they took a break—sitting on a set of steps and enjoying some of the treats they had brought.
Directly across from them was a bank of coin-operated video games. Presented, perhaps, as an alternative to riding/rushing/screaming. Or maybe as a little diversion to someone who is waiting for those who are riding/rushing/screaming. These games offer, as a reward, coupons to be used for the purchase of ‘Galaxyland stuff’.
As their family sat eating and recounting their experiences thus far, a middle-aged man (waiting for kids and/or grandkids) was playing one of the games.
‘Hat Trick.’
He was doing well.
Really well.
The machine lit up. And paid out.
2600+ coupons poured forth.
2600. Plus.
SIL laughed. “Wow! If you’re wondering what to do with those, we can take them off your hands!”
The man turned, smiled . . .
And dropped the entire pile into SIL’s lap.
2600+ coupons.
I needn’t tell you about the astonished faces or the hastily gasped out thanks as the man nodded, smiled again, and left.
Or the normally out-of-reach gifts chosen by several little girls who had just received their first glimpse of Heaven.
I would like to ask one thing of you, the reader, though.
Please pass this story around.
I want this man to know the joy he brought to those little girls.
Maybe, somehow, we can thank him.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Morning After


He gets it done, you know he does, cause he’s. . .well he’s The Claus. But sometimes . . .

It’s happened once or twice in ev’ry hundred years or so
When, for whatever reason, Santa simply cannot go,
And cause there’s no one willing, (and there are not any planes!)
Then Mrs. Santa steps right up and takes those Christmas reins.

The reindeer seem to know that something different’s in the air,
And get excited when they hear her step upon the stair.
And does she dress in red and white? In fur and velvet? No!
She’s dressed in leather for her chase o’er lands of heat or snow.

In a worn ol’ buckskin jacket and some goggles—Santa’s spares,
A pair of leather ‘racing’ gloves, a helmet o’er her hair,
Some ‘biker’ chaps and leather boots, a scarf that’s warm and soft,
One that covers mouth and nose when she’s up there. Aloft.

She steps into the loaded sleigh, the reindeer snort and stamp,
She smiles and says, “My children, it is time that we decamp!”
“And be more careful this year as we streak ‘cross swamp and heath,
I’d like to try this time to keep the bugs out of my teeth!”

And with a cry of “Wagons, ho!”, she, sleigh and deer are gone,
Leaving Santa and the elves at home to carry on,
And as they clean. And plan for all the next year’s girls and boys,
Mrs. Santa does the work:  delivering the toys.

You have to know she sets speed records everywhere she goes,
They’re still unsure just what flew through in Rome 10 years ago,
Those Salt Flats guys have not recovered—likely never will,
From the blur that passed them both like they were standing still.

And she and all the reindeer have a huge sleighload of fun.
Deliveries in record time. This woman gets ‘er done!
And as she very nimbly hops out of the sleigh. And in,
She’s never lost for laughs. Or found without her happy grin.

And with the rising of the sun, she’s back. She parks the sleigh,
Then checks it to be sure it’s safe to drive another day.
She gives each deer a great big hug and praises all of them,
And tells them, each and everyone, they are her brightest gems.

Then hurries in to Santa and the breakfast he’s prepared,
Expresses hope that what was troubling him has been repaired,
Then with a sparkle in her eye, she tells him of her night,
And all the records she has broken during this year’s flight!

Then Santa simply shakes his head and serves her scones and cream,
And teases her that her new name will be Madam Jet Stream,
And when she’s full. And drowsy from her chase up through the clouds,
He tucks her in and kisses her and tells her he is proud.

So on this Christmas Eve as you anticipate the morn,
Waiting for sleighbells to tell you someone is airborne,
It may not be old Santa who is pulling on the reins...
It might be Mrs. Santa, setting records once again!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas with the Mrs.

My annual Christmas Eve poem.

Again with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore . . .



On the night before Christmas, long hours ahead
The toddler awake, I’d just got her to bed.
The stockings were hung in a haphazard row,
While Mama assembled new toys just below.

The kids were asleep. Well, except for the last,
Just waiting for morning to get downstairs fast.
I toiled on alone, ‘cause there wasn’t a dad.
I had broken a nail and my language was bad.

From out on the lawn came a very loud sound,
It brought me to my feet, had me looking around.
I flew to the window, and thought as I ran,
‘Are my neighbour’s cats rifling through my garbage can?!’

It was bright (as can only the moon on snow be),
And I narrowed my eyes to be able to see.
And what did I glimpse, coming over the way?
But some deer, all in harness, and a stout little sleigh.

With someone in a coat that looked comfy and soft,
And clearly, some magic to keep them aloft.
They flew like a Michael Schumacher on course,
While the driver attempted some will to enforce.

"Now Baby! Now, Jazzi! Now, Frolic and Jolly!
On, Cherub! On, Angel! On, Kitten and Folly!
I need you to get to the rooftop this time!
And a fine, gentle landing would be so sublime!"

To say that they flew like some leaves past the attic,
Would be perfectly true, it was quite that erratic.
I was holding my breath as they shot toward the sky,
And prayed that my windows and roof would survive.

Then finally (thankfully) up on the roof,
The unmistakable sound of thirty-two hoofs.
Then some noise in the chimney I’d not heard before,
And someone emerged, on their knees, on the floor.

The figure was dressed in a warm, sooty coat,
With some Uggs on their feet and scarf 'round their throat.
With toys, books and clothes in a gi-normous sack,
Which they dropped to the floor with the words, “Oh, my back!”.

And then sparkling eyes were directed at me!
From under a hat that was worn with esprit.
I surprisingly saw, not a lad, but a lass,
Was I scared? Well at first, but soon it would pass.

In white teeth, she had clutched a short pencil end,
And a notebook, she held in one mittened hand.
Her round, wrinkled face shone with laughter and fun,
And I don’t think her happy laugh could be outdone!

She was joyful and glad, and just a bit round,
Her smile made me smile, 'twas so friendly and sound!
She gave me a grin and then winked an eye,
And I knew I was right to bid my fears goodbye.

She didn’t say much, simply nodded my way,
And I watched as she worked – like a pudgy ballet.
She finished her job, made a note in her book,
Then nodded and smiled and her exit she took!

I heard her footsteps as she ran to her sleigh,
Heard her call to her team as they all flew away.
Then this sweet woman cried, as she flew o’er the town,
"Happy Christmas to all, don’t let life get you down!"

Merry Christmas, my friends! And a very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Groaner for Christmas

The Little Things: Laura Sylvestri Photography
Some questions:

Does Claustrophobic label those afraid of Santa Claus?
And low elf esteem in Santa’s elf? Depressed by what he was?

Is Christmas like your job? You work. The fat guy gets the credit.
And do you call an Elf who sings a wrapper? There, I said it.

Did Rudeolph get his famous name because he was obnoxious?
Are they really saying deck the Halls? A lawsuit makes me cautious.

Is the Christmas script unlike the rest because it has no-el?
A disbelieving kid a Rebel Without a Claus? Do tell.

Why is Santa’s Christmas wrap exactly like my Mom’s?
Is Santa Claus North Polish? Please, this question’s irked me some.

Is subordinate claus what Santa calls his clever little minions?
This Christmas time, because I’m broke, can I gift you my opinion?

When the Gingerbread man makes up his bed, does he use a cookie sheet?
Does Santa have three gardens for his “Hoe. Hoe. Hoe.”? Please Tweet.

These are things that scorn me when awake at half-past two.
Those trivial things that I can’t answer. Tell me, now, can you?

But while you think, remember, that it’s not the gifts and tree,
But who is there beside you as you’re sipping on Chablis.
The family and those friends with whom you live throughout the year.
And without whom life would be sad here in this biosphere.

Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thoughts. Perhaps a grin?
So, all of us, together, we
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you've seen what we have wrought...
Did we help?
Or did we not?


Next week, we'll tell you all about,
Our Resolutions, Better Watch Out...

Saturday, December 21, 2019

When You're the Answer

A true story.

1981.
Carol’s big suburban slid into the parking lot of the Native Friendship Centre in Slave Lake, Alberta.
Her boss met her in the foyer. “Can’t do it this year,” he said sadly.
Carol stared at him. “What?”
“The basket delivery to Trout Lake? Can’t do it. There’s a storm and our pilot says there’s no way he can land on the strip.”
Carol’s heart sank. There were people in Trout Lake who needed those hampers of food very much. Families who counted on them.
“I’m sorry,” her boss went on, starting to turn away.
“I’ll drive up there.”
He turned back. “What?”
“I’ll drive.”
“Carol, it’s three hours in good weather! And there’s a storm so bad we can’t land in it. Who knows what the roads will be like?”
“There’s someone who wants that food,” Carol said quietly. “I know it. I can feel it! Someone desperately needs their basket.”
He stared at her for a moment. “Well . . .”
“How many baskets have you got?”
“Twenty-nine.”
“Let’s load them in my truck. And I need one of your staff to come along. I don’t speak Cree.”
Soon, over her boss’ continued protests, the boxes of food were carefully loaded and she and young Theresa Cardinal seated in front.
They were off.
The trip went surprisingly well despite the near-white-out conditions in the blowing snow and the continuing cold. The only difficulty was one point when the two of them slid into a ‘T’ intersection with no idea of which way to turn.
Carol looked at her co-pilot. “Which way?”
Theresa shrugged. “We don’t use roads.”
Carol laughed. “I’m turning left.”
Her instincts were right. Four hours after they left the Centre in Slave Lake, they were pulling into the small hamlet of Trout Lake, Alberta.
On a usual year, there would be people and the horse-pulled school wagon available to help with deliveries.
This year, in the frigid temperatures and blowing snow, there was only Carol, Theresa, and Carol’s big suburban.
Still pressed by that sense of urgency, they started going from home to home where their offerings of food and gifts were received with smiles of gratitude.
Finally, they pulled up before a tiny, log cabin and Carol slid out of the truck.
The wind was blowing quite strongly, whistling around the little structure. For a community deep in the protection of the bush she knew that the storm around them must have grown mighty indeed.
Her long, fur-lined Cree coat kept out the worst of it and, grabbing the large box of food, she walked to the door.
Something was odd. The door, ice built up all along the edge, wasn't closed. Couldn't close.
And someone, in an effort to keep out the howling winds had stuffed an old quilt in the space.
Carol knocked. A soft voice inside, barely discernible over the sound of the storm, called out in Cree.
The two women entered.
The cabin consisted of one room. There was a tiny, elderly woman standing in the kitchen area to the left, looking unsure and frightened.
Across the room, seated on an old bus seat, were several children of various ages. They, too were staring at the two snow-covered, frost nipped women standing in the doorway.
Carol had a vague impression of a bed in the corner to her right and of someone in that bed.
Theresa began to talk to the woman as they deposited their burden on the table.
The woman stared at the box, then back at them.
“How many children live here?” Carol asked.
Her companion translated.
The woman held up six fingers.
Carol went back out to the truck to grab six brightly-wrapped packages.
When she got back, the woman was in conversation with Theresa.
Unable to understand them, Carol turned her attention to fixing the door. Picking up a hatchet, she began to carve away the icy build-up on the door until it could, once more, close.
As she was testing the door, the woman came over to her and tearfully thanked her. In Cree: "God will always remember you."
Carol and Theresa left the cabin and continued with their deliveries, but the dreadful sense of urgency that had been so much a part of their journey had melted away.
And that was when the story came out.
The elderly woman’s husband had been sick for over a week. The sole breadwinner for the household, he had been unable to get outside to find food.
The family, quite literally, had nothing to eat.
Nothing.
The woman had been praying for someone–anyone–to come to their aid.
In the nearly 40 years since that day, Carol can still see that small, Cree woman, huddled in almost complete despair with a sick husband, six hungry children and a door that wouldn't close in a Northern Alberta snowstorm.
And Carol is grateful to have been, for just an instant, the answer to someone’s prayer.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Warming Winter

Ready to tour.
The Milk River 4H Beef Club was the brain-child of my Dad.
He lived in an agricultural area where most of the families earned their living either farming or ranching.
The training up of the next generation seemed like a good idea.
He approached the powers-that-be - convinced said powers-that-be.
And the club was formed.
With eleven new members.
Calves were purchased.
Things were underway.
A few months later, the man (power-that-be) who had given permission decided to make a visit to his newest club.
A tour was organized for his benefit.
But on a school day so the parents were delegated to show the official around.
Accompanied by my dad and Dad's two assistants.
It was a cold day in December.
They had visited several farms and were about to get into their vehicles after seeing one more.
The farmer, seeing that they were a bit chilled, reached behind the seat of his truck and pulled out a bottle of whiskey. "This'll warm you a bit!"
He handed the bottle, first, to Dad.
"Thanks, but I don't drink," Dad said, passing the bottle on to the next fellow.
Who happened to be the official.
"Well, we government officials aren't allowed to drink," the man said. "But since Mark doesn't drink, I'll drink his drink."
He took a sip.
Then handed the bottle to the next man.
Finally, the bottle made its way around the little group and back to the official.
"Oh. Does Mark take two?" the man asked, taking another sip. "Well, he is a glutton, isn't he?"
4-H.
Memorable, educational, satisfying,
And warming.
On so many levels.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Pocket Shopping

Not exactly. But close...
‘Twas Christmas. My Mom had us all in the car.
It was time for the shopping. We had to go far,
To Lethbridge ‘most seventy miles away.
We talked and we laughed—just enjoying the day.

My brothers and sister had done this before,
Gone shopping for Christmas with Mom at the stores.
But for four-year-old me, this time was the first,
I was way beyond eager, nigh ready to burst.

But when she had parked and I looked from the car,
From the ranch to the city was more than just far,
I had somehow moved on to a whole other sphere,
And I stared at the thousands of folks that were here.

I was used to my world, I’ll admit it. It’s true.
I was here, I must shop. What else could I do?
All my siblings had spread—in the crowd, disappeared,
I slowly climbed out, tried to swallow my fear.

Mother picked up my brother and gave me a grin,
As I stood there so anxious on trembling limbs.
“Let’s go shop for Christmas, Diane,” to me, said.
And I nodded and shivered and wished I was dead.

But then she said something that filled me with hope,
As she showed me the pocket attached to her coat,
“Now you hold on tight and we’ll wander along,
And no one can hurt you and nothing go wrong.”

So I did and I found that my mother was right,
Holding tight to her pocket, I let go of my fright.
I discovered that shopping for Christmas was fun!
If I held really tight till the shopping was done.

Years have passed, I forgot ‘pocket shopping’ with Mom,
Till one day, with my kids, we had errands to run,
And with my arms full with the baby and all,
We started our tour of the stores in the mall.

A tug on my coat and I looked down to see,
A toddler’s hand clutch my pocket. And me.
I knew how she felt—the security. Calm.
I’d felt it myself with a pocket. And Mom. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Gone

A long short story.
Just because...

“Cross my palm with silver, young man and I shall tell you what I see in your future!”
Gerald scratched his head and stared into the blue face. Was this a face he could trust? Should he be—as Brother Martin cautioned when he gave him the day off—cautious?
“How do I know what you say is true?”
The man straightened huffily and his blue skin seemed to glow. “You question the Blue Haruspex?”
“Well . . . I . . .”
“If I may interject.” Frederick, Gerald’s friend, whispered loudly into Gerald’s ear, “You are right to question. I see not any entrails.”
Gerald nodded, then looked puzzled. “Entrails?”
“A true haruspex would have his tools of the trade, so to speak. His sacrificial animals and innards.”
“Right.” Gerald made a face and looked at the Blue Haruspex. “What he said.”
The blue face was looking rather confused. “You would hark to the voice of your manservant?”
Gerald waved a hand. “Well, actually he’s not . . . Yes. Usually. Sometimes . . . Anyways, he’s right. Where is your sacrificial animal?”
Again the man drew himself up, sticking his blue nose into the air. “I have no need for such puffery!”
“And I have no need of your services.” Gerald nodded decisively and turned away.
Good decision, Gerald.” Frederick followed him.
A blue hand shot out and grabbed Gerald’s small, rather unmuscular arm, just above the elbow. The long fingers encompassed it entirely. “Gerald? Gerald? Hear me, Master Gerald! For what I say will affect, not only your life but the lives of all who inhabit Lessor Tess.” His voice had gotten . . . weird.
Gerald stopped and turned. Then gasped. The blue face was definitely glowing. And the eyes had turned red. 
Not something one sees every day.
“Erm. O-kay.”
“I see anguish. Pain. Unbelievable suffering as all of humanity chokes and dies in the ashes and soot of an expired world.”
Gerald’s eyes slid to one side, then back. “Erm . . . I was rather hoping for a ‘turn the corner there, right now, and the woman of your dreams, carrying a big pink basket, will trip and fall into your arms.’ You know. That sort of thing.”
The blue fingers on his arm tightened and the man leaned nearer. His breath smelled rather like eggs. And cheese.
“Your world is doomed. Doooomed! And you are the one –the only one—chosen to save it. You must go on a great quest.”
Again, Gerald looked away, then back again. “Are you sure you have the right guy?” He lifted his imprisoned arm. “And this kind of hurts, by the way.”
The blue fingers tightened still more.
“Ouch!”
“Heed me, Master Gerald! There is none else who can do it. If you do not go on your quest to save humanity, then humanity is doooomed.”
“You keep saying that.”
“What?”
“Doooomed.”
“I like how it sounds. Doooooomed.”
“You’re right.” Gerald smiled. “It sounds kind of . . . mysterious. Dooooooomed.”
“Doooooooooomed.”
“Doooooooooooooomed.”
Frederick looked disgusted. “Could we get back to the point?”
The Blue Haruspex loosened his grip. “Oh and one more thing. If you do not go on this quest, you will not meet the woman of your dreams.”
Interestingly, now he had Gerald’s full attention. “My what now?”
“The woman of your dreams. The girl you are supposed to spend the rest of your life with. Your counterpart. The Lady Gerald . . .”
Gerald shuddered.
“Okay, that didn’t come out right, but hopefully, you get my drift.”
“So if I don’t go on this ‘quest’, I don’t meet the girl and I don’t get married?”
“Plus that little first part where I mentioned complete global annihilation. You do remember that right?”
“Right. But say again about the girl.”
The BH sighed. “Yes. If you go on this quest, you get the girl.”
“Yahoo!” Gerald hopped around a bit. “A girl! A girl! A girl!” He turned back. “So what do I need to do?”

The BH shrugged. “Well, you need to . . . go.”
“Yeah. But go where?”
“Somewhere . . . not here.” The BH pointed down the road. “My guess would be to follow the road. Things will happen as they should.”
Gerald sobered and stared in the indicated direction. “Ummm . . . what things?”
“You’ll know.”
“But how will I know? What if monsters and/or trolls come out of the landscape.”
“You’ll definitely know if monsters and/or trolls come out of the landscape.”
“Know what?”
“That’s it’s time for something to happen.”
Now Gerald had come to a complete standstill. He tapped a finger on his lips thoughtfully. “So being torn limb from limb is a distinct possibility.”
“Nothing great was ever gained without great sacrifice.”
“But does that mean I have to sacrifice a limb or two?”
“Maybe.”
Gerald went a little pale. “I’m not sure I want this assignment.”
“It is not an assignment, Master Gerald. It is your destiny.”
“Nevertheless . . .”
“You cannot not want your destiny!”
“Yes, I can.” Gerald folded his arms. “It’s my destiny. I can choose whether or not I take it.”
“What? No, you can’t!”
“Says who?”
“Says . . . everyone.”
“Well, they’re wrong.”
“What!!” By this point the BH was getting a bit . . . perturbed. “You cannot decide to ignore your destiny!”
Gerald stuck out his chin. “I can too!”
The BH threw up his hands. “I give up.”
Gerald grinned. “I was just funning with you. I’ll go.” He peered down the road. “How long before I get to meet the girl?”
The BH shrugged. “How should I know? It is your quest.”
“And my girl!”
“Yes.”
Gerald nodded decisively and, hitching his small, leather pack over one shoulder, started down the road. “Come on, Frederick. Let’s go.”
The BH looked surprised. “Perhaps you should prepare? Maybe pack something? Quit your job? Say goodbye to loved ones?”
Gerald thought about that for a moment. “Nope. Frederick is all I have. I guess I could kiss Brother Martin’s sheep good-bye or something, but they’re sheep. I expect they’re pretty sloppy kissers. So we’re off!”
“Just like that? Just a thought, but what about taking along—oh, I do not know—perhaps a weapon?”
“Hmmm. That is a good idea.” Gerald picked up a long stick. “Here. This’ll do!”
The BH looked more confused. “A stick.”
“It’s pointed. See?”
“A pointed stick. You are going out on your life-changing, possibly dangerous quest, with a pointed stick?” The BH rolled his eyes. “That may protect you . . . if the bad guy comes at you with a banana!”
Gerald put his hands on his hips. “Are you trying to talk me out of this now? After talking me into it?”
The BH looked a little embarrassed. “No.”
“Well, then. See ya in a week or two!” Gerald saluted jauntily with his stick and started down the road, with Frederick close behind him.
The BH watched them until they were out of sight. Then turned as a tall, strapping, well-armed young man and his companions stopped beside his little booth.
“A fortune-teller! Yo-ho, my good man! How about a fortune for me and my friends?”
“Cross my palm with silver, and I shall tell you what I see.”
“I’ll do it.” The young man held up a coin, then made a show of placing it in the blue palm. “Make it good, my man!”
One of his companions laughed. “How could it be anything but, Gerald? You are the village champion at . . . everything.”
Gerald tried to look embarrassed, but failed miserably.
“Gerald?” the BH stared. “You say your name is Gerald?”
“How can you not know him?” another companion said. “He’s been the chief defender of this village since he could hold a sword!”
“Erm. I’m not from this village.” The BH looked down the road after the first Gerald and his companion. “Oh, dear.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

One Seventy-one

On her wedding day.

It’s Christmas. I’m missing Mom...
Our Christmas house had just been decorated, but now, my perennially-busy mother was nowhere to be seen.
I entered the front room, lit only by the lights on the tree.
There she was, just sitting quietly, looking at it.
I remember those lights bathing her in a soft glow.
A different, more heavenly light is shining on her now.
How I wish I could see it!

Today is a word challenge.
Each of Karen’s followers submit a number between 12 and 74.
Those numbers are then re-distributed by our intrepid leader to each of us.
My number this month? 71
And it came from my good friend Mimi at Messymimi



Here's everyone else.
Visit them. It'll be fun!

Monday, December 16, 2019

On Time


Time moves at different speeds, it is an actual fact,
Faster when your happy and your day is packed,
But slower when you’re stuck through something tedious,
Like when your babe won’t sleep and making quite a fuss.

As a child, time seemed to move at sluggish speeds,
The time ‘tween Christmas seasons left me rather keyed
Up about the time it took in getting there,
It took FOREVER and it simply wasn’t fair!

And when we sat in church to listen faithfully,
I was astonished at how slow the time would be,
 I’m sure that wretched clock was ticking different,
And time moved on like it was swimming through cement.

At school too, the time, it hung and didn’t move,
It really didn’t care how much I disapproved,
But ticked along the minutes at a snail’s pace,
And I was stuck there in my stupid desk’s embrace!

But strangely, when my friends and I were on the run,
Moving through the day (and games) and having fun,
It seemed an eye blink. Time was, in an instant, gone,
And Mom was shouting from the back door, “Supper’s on!”

But now I find all time seems to just disappear,
I barely start my day and then the evening’s here,
And even things that drag are, in a moment, done,
And projects finished that I’ve only just begun.

But, you know, it doesn’t matter if it’s fast or slow,
Time, that flighty spirit with its ebb and flow,
Cause I’ve been blessed to have it whether good or bad,
Forever grateful for all that I have. And had.

 Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin,
With gentle thoughts, perhaps a grin?
So all of us, together, we
Have crafted poems for you to see,
And now you read what we have wrought...
Did we help?
Or did we not?
Jenny
Mother Owl
Messymimi
Merry Mae

Next week, because the time is here,
We'll talk about this time of year!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Christmas Puppies


Don't you just want one?!
For over thirty years, our family raised Old English Sheepdogs.
Smart, dependable, protective, gentle and very hairy.
In our opinion, the best breed in the world.
In that time, we placed little balls of fur into many, many homes.
Some stories . . . . stick out in our memories . . .
Our very good friends, a wonderful family of four, were fellow OES aficionados.
They, in particular the father of the family, had unselfishly come to our aid on many occasions.
And we wanted to do something nice for him/them.
Knowing his/their love for ‘sheepies’, I consulted with his sweet wife about the possibility of surprising him with one of our puppies as a Christmas present.   
She was totally on board.
Christmas approached.
The puppies grew.
Finally, they reached the golden age of eight weeks.
It was time.
We loaded our family – and puppy – into the van and headed into the city.
Now, the actual formula . . .
We would present ourselves as a group to the front door of the home and proceed to ‘carol’ them.
Someone in back would hide the puppy until the climactic moment.
You know how, in movies, puppies are given and things turn out perfectly?
Well, sometimes it happens in real life.
We assembled.
Rang the doorbell.
And, when it opened, launched into our specially-adapted version of We Wish You a Merry Christmas:
We wish you a Merry Christmas!
We wish you a Merry Christmas!
We wish you a Merry Christmaaaaas!
And here’s your sheepdog!
The puppy was produced on cue.
Smiles and tears.
Lots of hugs.
And our family faded into the soft, Christmas night.
It was a beautiful, perfect experience.
Sometimes, you have those . . .
The puppy, Alonzo, served and loved his family for a great many years.
But there is one more thing to add.
I’ve been asking my children about their favourite Christmas memories.
And this one tops the list.
Christmas and children and puppies.
They just go together.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Stunt-ed


Sally’s back home.
I know those three little words probably don’t fill you with trepidation (real word).
I can only say this . . .
You’ve never lived with her.
For six weeks, whilst the world’s newest stunt double was filming her first movie, her fond and adoring family basked in the quiet peacefulness that was Life Without Sally.
Okay, yes, it was a bit boring.
But a whole lot relaxing.
I think Mom actually gained some much-needed weight.
I know that, for the first time, ever, I could actually see the floor in Sally’s room.
Did any of you know the rug in her room was pink?
I didn’t.
Moving on . . .
All of that ended when a brass band, 140 marching soldiers and 10-car police escort announced Sally’s return.
That and the city-wide lock-down.
Okay, there wasn’t really a brass band.
A few less than 140 soldiers.
And I didn’t really count the police cars.
But the lock-down happened.
Nearly.
Maybe I should explain . . .
There were actually . . . fans . . . waiting to welcome Sally off the plane when she arrived. Kids and a sprinkling of adults waving posters featuring Sally (well, Sally’s body with the head of the actress Sally was doubling) swinging on a rope, with a pump-action shotgun on a strap over her shoulder and fairly plump chicken clutched in her arms while the world behind her exploded into chaos.
Huh. Now that I think about it, Mom and I could probably have taken that same picture at least once a day for the past sixteen years. . .
Just a thought.
Back to Sally’s homecoming . . .
Mom and I waited until she had finished with her adoring fans. Then the three of us made our way outside and toward the bus, already filled to capacity with a sprinkling of commuters and 41 Japanese tourists.
Sally, not particularly silent at the best of times, was spilling over with NEWS.
Which I could probably distill into one word: stupendous.
She bubbled on about the cast. The shoot. The location. The director. The stunts. The daring feats she managed to pull off. The looks on the faces of everyone watching whenever she undertook those same feats.
I could totally sympathize with them.
Ahem . . .
The three of us managed to find seats—Mom and I jammed into the back and Sally somewhere on the aisle in the middle—and Sally continued to talk. She began to pull things from her capacious carry-on. Props. Curios. The actual chicken from the poster. (Like Sally, a stand-in.)
Then, just as the bus was crossing Aldersyde and Croft, kind of the geographic center of our town, Sally pulled out a rocket-launcher and waved it in the air so we could appreciate.
You can see where this is going . . .
Mom and I, both used to Sally and her ways, got a start when we saw what she was waving.
Now just imagine the scores of people, many of whom didn’t even speak English, looking on from a position of complete ignorance.
The panic was instant and notable.
As the bus-driver jammed on the brakes, people started screaming and heading for the nearest exits. By the quickest way possible.
Doors and/or windows proved mere suggestions as they burst outward and were discarded.
I should probably mention that the panic did not end when they all gained the streets and sidewalks.
Nope.
From there, they scattered through the city screaming ‘Terrorists! Terrorists!”, in at least three languages that I could pinpoint, and at the top of their supposedly-relaxed tourist-y lungs.
I’m pretty sure you can imagine the rest.
The sirens. The pretty-much-instant police response.
The barricades.
The soldiers.
In the time it took Mom and I to get over our initial shock and, with the still-talking Sally in tow, make our way from the bus, it was surrounded and the city on the brink of a lock-down. (See above.)
Then the explanations.
And the lectures.
With the distinct possibility of fines and/or community service.
Dear Lord help us all.
Welcome home, Sally.
We missed you.
Sigh.

Each month, Karen’s (she of the Baking in a Tornado fame) followers contribute words to the collective.
Words which are then re-distributed to said collective.
Use Your Words is the result.
Resistance is futile.

This month, my words: pump ~ plump ~ post ~ poster ~ part
Were assigned to me by the Great Karen herself! Thank you so much, my friend!
And Sally thanks you, too…  

Now go forth and visit the others!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

10 Gramma House Rules


The holiday season is fast approaching. A time of family get-togethers and, hopefully, fun family times.
Hopefully.
We'll start with a . . . 
Disclaimer
Parents are responsible for their own children while at Grandma’s house. Grandpa and Grandma used to be responsible – but they’re not anymore.

Toys
1.  All toy trucks with sirens are forbidden – alarmed neighbours keep running out to see if Grandpa has run over their cat.
2.  All musical toys are also forbidden. The national anthem of the Tolley house is not “Turkey in the Straw.”
3.  “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” is not on the list either.

Food
4.  All treats for grandchildren are under Grandpa’s control. He’ll share with you as soon as they release him from the psyche ward, which will be when he stops humming “Turkey in the Straw.”
5.  Food prepared at Grandma’s house is made with TLC. Despite what Grandpa puts in it.
6.  At Grandma’s house the “best before” date on her food expires in two hours. Food ingested but not swallowed before this time will not be recycled.

Diapers
7.  Soiled diapers carry a ‘Noxious-Gas’ rating of 10. All carriers shall be banished immediately to the clean-up facility at the end of the hallway.
8.  All soiled diapers shall immediately be wrapped securely and placed on the front porch for eventual transport to the garbage can. Most grandchildren should be removed from the diaper first.
9.  Reusable cloth diapers soiled for longer than one day before washing shall be sold as fuel to the nearest nuclear power plant or placed in a rocket and shot into the sun.
10.  No pooping under the dining room table, even if you are wearing a diaper. This means you, too, Grandpa.

You can thank me after the holidays.

Grampa

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