Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, June 19, 2020


Chris. Taste is everything . . .
1953 BD (Before Diane). 
My parents were traveling and had made a stop in a small town for lunch.
At a tiny hotel restaurant.
They perused (real word) the menu and made selections for themselves and their -then- three children.
They made their order.
And waited.
Suddenly, Mom noticed that my elder sister, Chris, age four or so was chewing happily on something.
She watched her, suspiciously, for a few moments.
Finally, "Chris, what are you chewing?"
My sister looked up at Mom and said, "Gum."
Mom thought about it for a moment.
"Wait a minute. You're chewing on gum?"
"Umm-hmm," Chris said, still chewing.
"I didn't give you any gum." Mom turned to Dad. "Did you give her some gum?"
He shook his head and pulled Jerry out of the sugar bowl. "Enough sugar, son."
"Well, where on earth did she get gum?"
"Why don't you ask her?" Dad said. "Jerry, leave the salt and pepper alone."
Mom turned to Chris. "Honey, where did you get the gum?"
Chris slid the wad in her mouth to one side and said, "Here, Mom!"
She pointed . . . under . . . the table.
"There's lots more! You want some?"

Thursday, June 18, 2020


Okay. This story is about urine specimens.

Those who are faint of heart or easily queasy, stop now.
I told you to stop.
You don't listen, do you?!
You asked for it  . . .
In today's world, when a doctor requires a urine specimen, he sends his patient to the 'lab'.
See. Handy and dandy.
And supplies said patient with a handy, dandy little container.
Complete with antiseptic wipes.
This wasn't always the case. 
Let me tell you about it . . .
My parents had been shopping.
I should probably mention, here, that in the 50s, no one ever locked their cars.This is important.
Moving on . . .
Dad was helping Mom into the car.
A short distance away, a woman was also getting into her car.
A very obviously pregnant woman.
She opened the door. Then gasped and leaned against her car.
Dad hurried over. “Are you all right?”
Then he realized that she was laughing. Really laughing.
“Are you all right?” he asked again.
The woman straightened and wiped her eyes. Then she pointed at the car seat. “The . . . the bottle!” she gasped. Then went into another peal of laughter.
By this time, Mom had joined them.
She and Dad looked at each other and Dad shrugged.
Must be a pregnancy thing.
Finally, the woman calmed somewhat and again, wiped her eyes. She looked at my parents. “I'm on my way to my doctor,” she said.
Okay . . .
She looked back into her car and cleared her throat. “I was supposed to bring in a urine sample.” She pointed into her car. “I left it there.”
My parents glanced at the empty car seat.
The woman looked at them again. “The only empty bottle I could find was a whisky bottle,” she said.
Ah.“You left a urine sample in a whisky bottle on the front seat of your car?” 
Not a drink for the faint of heart.
Dad was catching on fast.
The woman nodded.
“And someone stole it?”
Again she nodded. “They must have.”
Dad started to laugh.
He ushered Mom back to their car and helped her in. Then he got into the car and sat back, still laughing.
“What's so funny?” Mom asked.
“Well, all I can think about is how the thief will discover his mistake!” Dad said. “What if it was some kids! Can't you see it? ”
“This is whisky? What on earth is all the fuss is about!”

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Fed. And Organized

Mr. Organized
Dad was a veterinarian.
The only one for several counties.
Well . . . If you didn't count Dr. Brewster, the animal inspector at the Coutts border crossing.
Let me start again . . .
Dad was a veterinarian.
As well as a purebred Polled Hereford breeder.
And always had an office somewhere in our home.
There were the inevitable examination counters.
And a fridge holding such things as penicillin, bottles of 5-way or 8-way or black-leg or rabies vaccines.
And other stuff that I couldn't pronounce.
I should mention, here, that Dad knew what each bottle did.
Probably important for a veterinarian to know.
He also had several large filing cabinets standing about the room.
Full of . . . files.
Dad knew exactly where everything could be found in his office.
He was very organized.
One day, he was working on the registration forms for his new crop of calves.
A time-consuming task that only he could do.
I sauntered in.
Yes. Just like in the old west.
Sauntering on . . .
Daddy looked up from his desk.
“Diane, could you look in that file cabinet over there,” he pointed with his pen, “and get me the 'G' file?”
I turned to the indicated cabinet and pulled open the appropriate drawer. “This one?”
“Yes. Just the 'G' file, please.”
I started to work my way through the alphabet.
There was a large space partway through. I jumped to that.
'J' as it turned out.
“Daddy, did you know that you have a large bag of ju-jubes in your filing cabinet?”
“Filed under 'J'?”
He looked at me. “Where else would they go?”
Where indeed.
I continued my search.
Huh. Chips under 'C'.
Also chocolate.
I finally found the 'G' file and, pulling it out, handed it to my father.
But then I turned back to the cabinet.
Way too interested to stop now.
“Dad, you have Oreo cookies under 'O'.”
Dad looked up. “Is that where they are?!” he said. “I kept looking for them under 'C'.”
Yep. Filing cabinets and organization.
And snack time.
They go together.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


Who does that?
I mean, seriously, who?
Maybe I should explain…
Jared was a prince. A real, bonafide prince.
The ‘son of a real king and queen’ sort of prince.
I know it probably sounds awesome, and for many years, it was.
But recently, it had become, well, a pain.
Stay with me, children, I shall tell all.

Jared had ‘come of age’, which, in normal you-and-me speak means he was old enough to get serious about finding The One.
*cue romantic music…
Now if it was us, we’d probably design a heart-stopping page in the ‘Swinging Singles’ or, depending on our age, maybe the ‘Sagging Singles’.
Or get a cute puppy and appear at the park.

Jared didn’t have those options.
I mean, there really isn’t a dating site for the ‘Stately Singles’ or whatever it would be called.
Jared was stuck with the girls his parents managed to find among their Rolodex of royal friends.
Most of whom he’d known since childhood.
Can we just say none appealed and leave it at that?

He searched.
Oh, my yes, he searched. Austria, Italy, France and the many and varied countries of continental Africa elicited no one who even remotely appealed.
He even put on his galoshes and winter coat and huffed and puffed his way across Canada.
And we all know just how attractive those Canadian girls can be!
Ahem . . .

But still no one seemed to strike that spark. Or if they did, they couldn’t prove they were ‘royal’.
Yep. Jared was in a pickle.
One evening, as he and his parents stood on one of the myriad balconies bedeck-ing their palace, enjoying the awesome lightning display accompanying a Hollywoodish rainstorm, there was a knock at their royal door.

Jared and his parents frowned.
“Maybe it’s a princess come to look for me for a change!” Jared said.
They all laughed.
Just then their Major Domo, Domo, came to the balcony entrance.
“A young lady has been caught in the storm,” he said. “She says she’s a princess and seeks shelter.”
“But of course!” the queen said quickly.

“Bring her in!” the king added as he ushered his family inside.
Domo disappeared.
“Wouldn’t it be something if she turned out to be amazing?” Jared asked.
“And a real bonafide princess,” his mother added.
“Yeah. That.”
Just then a young lady appeared in the doorway, with Domo behind her.
“Here she is, your majesties,” he said, bowing.

She was a rather sodden young lady, whose long, red hair hung in dripping hanks down what looked to be a formerly-pristine, decidedly expensive crystal-beaded dress.
She sank into a deep (and shivering) curtsey. “Your Majesties,” she said. Then she gave a massive sneeze. “Oh, excuse me!” She dabbed at her nose with the back of one dripping wrist.

“Oh, my dear, you must be frozen!” the queen declared, rushing forward. “Domo!” she waved a hand. “Prepare a bath in the Red Room and fetch some dry garments!”
The man bowed and left.
“Come, dear,” the queen went on. “Let us get you clean and warm!”
The girl stretched quivering, blue lips in a semblance of a smile.

“I am so sorry to come here alone and unannounced. But my carriage shed a wheel at the bottom of your drive and my driver sent me on to keep me warm and safe.” She looked down and smiled a little half-smile. “It wasn’t raining then.”
“Well, never you mind,” the queen said. “Let’s get you warm and comfy!”

She put her arm about the shivering girl and steered her toward the doorway.
“Now, tell me, my dear,” the queen said as they stepped out into the hall. “Domo was saying something about you being a . . .”
Their voices faded.
“…princess?” the king finished the queen’s sentence. He looked at his son a moment. Then grinned.

Jared was staring at the doorway where the girl (and his mother) had disappeared.
“Son?” his father said.
Jared blinked. “Is there really a silly rule that says I have to marry a princess?” he asked.
The king laughed. “I’m afraid so. Why else would you have been charging all over the globe these past few months?”
“Why, indeed.”

I don’t know about you, but I think I’m seeing a whole love-at-first-sight sort of . . . thing.
Who’s with me?
Meanwhile, down in the Red Room’s dressing room… The dressing room of the Red Room? The big room’s little room? Oh, never mind. …the girl was happily (and modestly) soaking in a tub of hot, soapy water.

At the same time, the queen was directing a vast army of servants in the placement of 40 mattresses atop the Red Room’s bed. The bed in the Red Room? Belonging to the Red Room?
Why am I having so much trouble with this?
Did Twain have this kind of distress? Or Dr. Seuss? I think not.
Moving on...

Unbeknownst (Oooh! Good word!) to the pile-ers, the queen had first placed a small, ordinary pea under the bottom mattress before the ‘pile-ing’ began. A pea that was now covered by, not 1, but 41 mattresses!
I know. Weird, right.
I guess she had her reasons.
Maybe she wanted to pre-pea the bed? *snort*
Sorry about that.
I digress…

When the girl emerged from her bath all warm, glowing and with her hair newly cleaned and arranged, the queen gasped.
Even in borrowed nightclothes, she truly was beautiful.
Some people are like that.
“Daphne, your bed is ready,” the queen said, patting the pile of mattresses.
Oh, right. I forgot. The girl had told the queen her name.

Daphne blinked, but obligingly climbed the ladder to the top, then snuggled down into the soft blankets.
“Have a good sleep, Dear,” the queen whispered.
But Daphne was already there.
The next morning, a smiling (and totally rested and happy) young face appeared at the breakfast table.
“Good morning, everyone!” Daphne sang out cheerfully.
People do that in stories.

The king, queen and Jared looked up and smiled. The king and Jared rose to their feet and Jared reached for her arm.
“Oh Daphne, my sweet girl, it’s so nice to see your bright smiling face at our breakfast table!” the queen said graciously. She patted the chair beside her. “Please, dear. Come and sit next to me!”

Jared led her over and released her arm.
Daphne sank into the proffered chair.
The queen smiled and pressed Daphne’s hand. “Now my dear, tell us how you slept. Every detail!”
Daphne smiled back. “Like a dream,” she said happily. “I can’t remember when I’ve slept so well.”
The queen blinked and frowned slightly. “Oh. Really? Well that is…wonderful.”

“Yes. I think I could happily sleep on a stack of mattresses for the rest of my life!” Daphne said.
“Oh. Well, I’m not quite sure . . .” began the queen.
“How we’ve missed meeting you all this time,” Jared broke in. He smiled warmly at the girl. “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship!”

Okay, yes you’ve heard something like that before.
Go with me on this…
Well what did you think? That placing a pea under 40+ mattresses was going to make a bit of difference? I mean, I’ve slept like a baby (or like a teenager because we all know babies don’t sleep) with a tree root under my camping mattress.

Jared and Daphne were soon an ‘item’.
Then quickly moved from there to ‘affianced’.
The queen confided to Jared the whole '40 mattresses and a pea' story the evening before his wedding day.
When he asked her why she merely shrugged. “Mother always told me that a true princess should be as delicate—and bruise-able—as a rose petal.”

“Well that’s stupid,” Jared said. “How could she withstand the rigours of life?”
You’re probably wondering what rigours a princess/future queen would have to withstand?
All I have to say is: childbirth...
And you know what? It wasn’t important if she was a ‘real’ princess or not because to Jared, she was his princess.
And that’s all that mattered.

Word Counters is a word challenge.
Each of us happy participants donates a number.
Which is then distributed by our intrepid leader, Karen, to someone else.
My number this month was: 59
It was submitted by my good friend Mimi 
Thank you, my friend!
Now go and see what the others have created!

Monday, June 15, 2020


My Mom could do it...
All my life, I’ve tried to grow it
And I never could.
E’en though it would have brought an increase
in our livelihood.

Conditions were too dry some years
The seeds just did not grow,
Though I set the sprinklers there
To splash both to and fro.

And some years were too wet, I guess
The results were still the same.
And though I weeded carefully,
Their non-growth brought me shame.

Then one year all was right, they grew
Right near to touch the sky,
And like ol’ Curly in the song
High as an el’phant’s eye!

But that year came the crickets, they made
Short work of my plants,
And what they didn’t eat were soon
Devoured by the ants.

At long last, I threw in the towel
Gave up the scheme as lost,
Decided that the whole thing came
With just too big a cost.

So now I’m happy. My new scheme goes
Just the way I plan,
Cause now the best way to grow corn
Is to get it from a can!

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?

A big, huge thanks to our new friend
SpikesBestMate, our love we send!
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