Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, March 13, 2020

Gwen's Turn

Sally has been quiet.
Usually, this would be a cause for concern all on its own.
But she’s on a shoot somewhere in Texas, with fairly normal people (or at least people who can ACT normal) and with on-duty guards militarily (is that a word?) trained to tackle/shoot if the need arises.
And I’m quite sure her movie-making employers have noticed, as have Mom and I, that when you keep her busy, there is infinitely less breakage/scream-age/disaster-age/goodlordharry-age.
So Mom’s and my (and Mort’s) worries have been . . . lessened.
With Sally, they never really go away. (Remember the kidnappers?)
Anyways, Mom and I have been living a more-or-less quiet existence. We have almost daily correspondence from our famous family member, but Sally-at-a-distance is diluted enough for even the most pallid palate.
Sooo . . . quiet.
I work at a local printers. Aksel’s: The Place for Print.
Aksel’s is run by a family. The Pedersen’s. Whose grandfather was named (wait for it) Aksel.
I know. Big leap there.
They are a fun-loving bunch. Supportive of their employees. Cheerful.
I mean, they don’t encourage truancy or other minor infractions, but they aren’t about to fire you for the occasional gaffe. Though they won’t tolerate deliberately sloppy procedures on the line or any form of malicious gossip around the water-cooler.
If they had a water-cooler.
It is doubly attractive for me because it is also well within commuting distance for me and Hairy Barry, my trusty bicycle.
Enough background . . .
I was working with the main printer, “Big Ed”, in his royal residence (aka the back room).
Big Ed was busily coughing out copies of the newest edition of ReMARKETable. A small run magazine for collectors.
He was just completing the print when, quite suddenly, he just . . . stopped.
A small red light blinked into existence. A light I’d never noticed before.
I hopped off my stool.
You have to know that, to date, Big Ed and I had enjoyed a fairly comfortable relationship. No real conflicts or name-calling. And we’ve certainly never come to blows.
All of that was about to change.
I approached the humming, shivering behemoth.
Just as I reached out toward the red button, a ding on my phone indicated a text.
I pulled the phone from my pocket, then moved away from Big Ed to look at it.
Sally.
I’d answer her later.
Shoving my phone back into my jeans, I started to turn.
Just as the entire machine disintegrated in a blast of smoke and hot air.
Rather like a politician.
Ahem . . .
Aksel the Third appeared almost immediately in the doorway.
I was still standing there.
My mind frantically cataloguing and checking off important parts of my anatomy.
When all seemed to be accounted for, I turned to him. “Erm. There seems to be something wrong with Big Ed, Aksel.”
He stared at the mound of smoking rubble where the mammoth machine had stood, largely intact, only moments before. “What did you do?!” He looked at me as he approached slowly. “Tell me exactly!”
“I was sitting. Big Ed stopped. There was a red button. I moved toward it. Got a text. Decided to answer it later and shoved my phone back in my pocket. Started forward again . . .”
“Text? Red button?”
I frowned. “The text I'm pretty sure of. The red button, less so. Should I have done something?”
“How should I know? I didn’t even realize there was a red button!”
He began to poke around, then pulled out his phone and dialed. “Dad? I think Big Ed is toast.”
He listened for a moment, then pocketed his phone and looked at me. “You should probably go home, Gwen. Maybe get checked out by the doctor.”
I nodded and turned (a little shakily) toward the door.
“By the way, who was the text from?”
“Sally.”
“Figures.”
I spun around and looked at him, but he was already back poking at the debris.
I frowned and headed for my bicycle. The (fortunately few) people I saw on my homeward commute seemed to have a special look for me as I rode past.
But I really didn’t think about it. My mind was churning over the fact that Sally had messaged me just before a major malfunction in my company’s equipment.
Could she jinx things from a distance? And more importantly had she, in point of fact, saved me?
This was something that should (or maybe not) be checked into.
I noticed Mom’s car in the drive as I rode across the lawn.
Parking Hairy Barry in his usual home next to the hedge, I hurried to the front door.
Mom was in her favourite recliner, her eyes on the peaceful scene just outside the window.
“Hey, Mom,” I said.
She looked at me, her smile of welcome evaporating. “Gwen, honey?”
“Yeah.”
“Where are your eyebrows?”

Each month, our little band of intrepid, unstoppable scribblers contributes a series of words. Which our gracious leader, Karen shuffles and re-distributes.
Those words then form the basis of everything from recipes to flash fiction.
My words this month--hopped ~ hairy ~ bicycle ~ truancy ~ sloppy ~ gossip--came to me, via Karen, from Jenniy at Climaxed.
Thank you so much, Jenniy! This was the best fun!
Want to keep the fun going?
Head out and see what the others have created!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Honey For Sale

Perfect for each other.
My Mom had been raised on a ranch.
She knew cattle and could speak the language with anyone.
But there were times when she very much longed to change the conversation . . .
She and Dad were out with a group of friends.
Fellow Hereford breeders.
The conversation veered, as it always did, to the discussion of the newest miracle bull.
"That 55L! What a bull! Longest animal I've ever seen!"
An animal's length is important. More beef on the hoof.
Just FYI.
The men were enraptured.
The women, silent, polite listeners.
Mom tried to add some colour other than red and white to the conversation.
"We did something different this weekend," she said. "We went to a Gilbert and Sullivan . . ."
But the men's conversation continued unabated.
"You know, 55L was unknown until his calves hit the ground! Long. Tall. Big as colts!"
"We saw the Pirates of Penzance," Mom finished weakly.
No one heard her.
She sighed and withdrew.
But her mind was working busily.
A few days later, Mom again took a back seat to Dad's cows. Giving up on a much anticipated wedding because Dad couldn't go.
That was the last straw.
The next day, she decided to play a prank on him.
She called the local paper and had this ad inserted:
            HUSBAND FOR SALE - Cheap
            Complete with blue jeans, SSS monogrammed shirt,
            rubber boots, old floppy hat, B.S. spattered coveralls,
            pitch fork, scoop shovel, feed bucket,
            25 Hereford cows and one grumpy bull.
            Not home much.
            Speaks only COW. Call 244-2108

Then she waited.
Not a word was said, though she saw my father reading the paper and knew that he always finished every word.
The next day, another ad appeared, directly below Mom's.
This one read:
            HONEY FOR SALE
            The sweetest gal this side of Texas. Good mother,
            helpful, kind, patient, understanding, loving,
            cheerful, caring, cooperative, self-sacrificing,
            grateful for all favours, especially a frugal income,
            and as a bonus, is beautiful and loves
            my Hereford cows. Call 244-2108.

Enough said.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

When Lion’s Bad

The small boy and the minister looked gravely at each other,
“Today,” the man said firmly, “We’ll talk lyin’, Little Brother.”
The small boy nodded at him, though he looked a bit unclear,
“Don’t worry!” smiled the man, “We’ll make confusion disappear!”
“Okay,” the small boy whispered, “But will this take very long?”
“It’s important,” said the minister, “So that you learn right from wrong.”
The boy sat down across from him and nodded his small head,
“Father Bryon, let’s begin.” Said Father, “Okay, Ned.”
“Now, firstly, son, can you tell where it is you go for lyin’?”
The small boy simply stared at him. “Of course, old Father Bryon.”
“Well tell me, son, I’d like to know.” The little boy said, “Bah!
I know that one, silly! Everyone knows: Af-ri-ca!”

With Karen it all started and, through her, it carries on,
This monthly ‘poem’ ritual and resulting liaison,
So if you’ve enjoyed my contribution, just you wait and see,
The poems that my writing friends have all now brought to be!
Karen of Baking In A Tornado: In the Den
Dawn of Spatulas On Parade: Lions Galore 1, 2, 3, 4

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Moving Meetings

See? 4-H. Totally important.
 I was raised on a ranch near the small town of Milk River, Alberta.
On the Alberta/Montana border.
Farming and ranching country.
We were, quite literally, children of the prairies.
Big brother, George. And calf.
And the highlight of our young lives - the very pinnacle we could aspire to – was 4-H Calf Club.
Our world was small, I admit it.
Yep. When we turned the age of twelve, we could – at last! – join the calf club.
We learned many things there.
Of course, the main (and most obvious) were the care and feeding of your calf.
In my case, handled almost exclusively by my big brother, George.
Because he’s amazing. (Are you reading this, George?)
Big brother, Jerry, ditto.
But there was also the record keeping. (Which George completely refused to do for me. Sigh.)
And the monthly meetings.
Wherein (Oooh! Good word!) we were supposed to learn the proper, accepted, efficient way to run a gathering of that type.
I emphasize the words ‘supposed to’.
Because we didn’t.
Always.
In fact, at some point during many of our meetings, our current club president would throw up his hands and exclaim, in loud and carrying tones, “I don’t know why I do this! I’m getting outta here!”
Something he never did.
Returning to the idea of running a proper meeting . . .
Me. With glasses. And calf.
We had been taught that, if we had something to offer, we should do it in the form of a ‘motion’. As in: ‘I would like to make a motion.’ And then followed by ‘I move . . .’
We were getting it. We were.
One evening, the meeting had been going well.
Everyone had been unusually attentive.
And our leader hadn’t, even once, cried out in despair.
Then one shy young man stuck up his hand.
He was recognized by the ‘Chair’.
And he proceeded. “I-I-I w-would like to m-make a movement!”
There was silence. Then some sniggers.
Umm . . . first door down the hall? Says ‘boys’ on the door?
One of the leaders whispered into his ear, “Motion.”
“Motion!” he corrected himself, turning bright red. “I-I w-would like to make a motion!”
Things carried on.
But the mood had definitely been lightened.
Who says meetings have to be boring?
4-H. Don't you wish you were here?
The grand finale.

Monday, March 9, 2020

The New(d) Game


She had spent the day in catching up and putting things away,
Vacuuming and cleaning in her housework ‘dust ballet’,
And in between, the laundry in the small room down the stairs,
Washing, drying, folding and then making stocking pairs,
When going down the last time; spied the helmet of her son,
The one he wore when playing football—making scoring runs,
Her arms were full, she placed the helmet snugly on her head,
And once she dropped the laundry off, would throw it on his bed.
Because this was the last load, she’d include the clothes she wore,
And so she stripped them off and dropped each item to the floor,
Then, naked, shoved them in the washer; turning at a sound,
To behold the wide-eyed meter man (who’d been duty bound),
“It’s not too hard to guess,” he said, “If you play ‘shirts’ or ‘skins’!
“And Ma'am, though I don’t know this sport, I hope that your team wins!”

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 read what we have wrought…
Did we help?
Or did we not?


Third in the series

Third in the series
Deborah. Fugitive of Faith

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael
A House Divided is now available at all fine bookstores and on Amazon.com and .ca!

Daughter of Ishmael

Daughter of Ishmael
Now available at Amazon.com and .ca and Chapters.ca and other fine bookstores.

Romance still wins!

Romance still wins!
First romance in a decade!

Hosts: Your Room's Ready

Hosts: Your Room's Ready
A fun romp through the world's most haunted hotel!

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My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!
New Tween Novel!

Gnome for Christmas

Gnome for Christmas
The newest in my Christmas Series

SnowMan

SnowMan
A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.

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My novel, Carving Angels

My novel, Carving Angels
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My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic
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Essence

Essence
A scientist and his son struggle to keep their earth-shattering discovery out of the wrong hands.

Essence: A Second Dose

Essence: A Second Dose
Captured and imprisoned, a scientist and his son use their amazing discovery to foil evil plans.

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The Babysitter

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A baby-kidnapping ring has its eye on J'Aime and her tiny niece.

Melissa

Melissa
Haunted by her past, Melissa must carve a future. Without Cain.

Devon

Devon
Following tragedy, Devon retreats to the solitude of the prairie. Until a girl is dropped in his lap.

Pearl, Why You Little...

Pearl, Why You Little...
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