Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Fizzled Sizzle


“Our life needs more ‘sizzle’,”
Said Husby. To me.
And I wondered just what in the world could he mean?

So I went to the lexicon,
Searched the word there.
I admit that the things that I found made me stare.

It said ‘sizzle’s a hissing sound,
Water—hot steel.
Which happens whenever I’m making a meal.

It also suggested
To burn up or sear.
Sounds to me like a branding iron on a calf’s rear.

Or the hissing sound made
When burning or frying.
That happened last night. He thought something was dying.

And lastly, to seethe
With deep anger: resent.
Now I’m really unsure just what my Husby meant.

So to my dear friends,
Use a whisper. (Don’t shout.)
Can you tell me what life with more ‘sizzle’s’ about?

Friday, October 23, 2020

Daddy/Daughter Dating

Daddy and me.
Okay, picture us a few years older.
But just as cute . . .
I was on a date with my Dad.
I had been working at my 'first-official-job-wherein-Dad-was-not-my-boss' in Calgary, Alberta, and having the time of my life.
Have you noticed that saying 'having the time of your life' doesn't necessarily denote 'good' or 'bad'?
I mean, it could mean the worst time of one's life.
Or the best.
Just saying . . .
Dad had to come up to the big city on business and had stopped into my work to ask the boss (whom he was good friends with and NO, that's not the reason I got the job. I think . . .) if he could take his best girl out on a date.
My boss smilingly agreed and I was free for the day.
There are perks to your father being good friends with your boss.
Dad took me to a football game.
It was a perfect day.
Crisp, cold air, but not too chilly.
Blue, blue sky.
Okay, I'm remembering it how I want.
Dad and I had been sitting through the game.
Cheering on all of the guys in red, white and black.
I used to be a football cheerleader, so I had a vague idea of what the game entailed.
Get the ball across the opposing team's goal line by whatever means necessary.
Then hug the players if they won.
And especially if they lost.
But partway through the game, I had a blinding revelation. “Dad, all of those players have spent all of this time fighting for control of the ball!”
Dad looked at me. “Yes,” he said, doubtfully.
“Well, I just had an idea!”
His eyes narrowed. Dad was used to my brilliant ideas. “Go on."
“Well, if they're just going to fight over the ball,” I said, “why don't they just use two balls?”
Okay, we thought it was hilarious.
The guy in front of us? Not so much. “Could you please shut up?” he demanded. “Some of us are trying to enjoy the game!”
We decided it was a good time for Dad to take me to dinner.
We went to my favourite restaurant. The one I went to only when Dad was buying.
Old Spaghetti Factory.
We were seated in the old trolley car that is central to every OSF restaurant.
Things were getting busy.
Soft music playing. Quiet talk and laughter around us. Gentle chime of silverware on china. Subdued, romantic lighting.
The server brought us our menus and fresh, warm bread with selections of butter, then withdrew while we sliced, buttered, ate and perused.
Dad was studying his menu. “Can you read this?” he asked, finally.
I glanced down. “Ye-es,” I said, slowly.
“Well, I can't!”
Did I mention the 'subdued' lighting?
He pulled out a matchbook and proceeded to light a match. Then used its light to read his menu.
The server sprinted towards our table.
“Problems, sir?” he asked.
Dad looked at him, lit match still in hand. “Nope.” Then turned back to his menu. “But I think my daughter and I are ready to order.”
There is nothing . . . nothing like a date with your dad.
Truly the time of my life. In the best of ways.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

A Short Trip

Ready for town . . .
We lived 70 miles from the nearest city. Thus, a 'trip to town' was more of an event.
Inevitably, I got car sick. Not a pleasant thing for anyone stuck in the vehicle with me.
And, being four, I sometimes confused being excited with being sick.
Let me explain . . .
On the ranch, the most exciting thing our Dad could say was, “Everyone get in the car, we've got to go to the town!”
It was equivalent to being told we were going to Disneyland.
All right, I admit it, sophisticated world travelers, we weren't.
We would then pile into the car (And I do mean 'pile'. Seatbelts hadn't been invented yet.) and head up the gravel road towards the great white lights of Lethbridge. The trip took an hour and a half. Or more, when Diane was one of the passengers.
Invariably, at some point between the ranch and the first town, Milk River, a small voice would pipe up from the back seat, “I'm sick!”
The car would slide quickly to the side of the road. Mom's door would fly open. Diane would pop magically to the top of the heap of humanity in the back seat and . . .
I'll leave the rest to your imagination.
Every trip.
Every time.
But then . . . something changed.
The little voice would speak up sooner.
And sooner.
Until the car wouldn't even have made it out of the driveway before the fateful words were heard.
Mom and Dad tried to puzzle it out. Why was Diane getting sick so quickly after getting into the car?
They must have figured something because they certainly came up with an effective solution.
On that fateful day, Dad announced that he had to make a trip into town.
With much talk and laughter, we kids piled (that word again) into the car.
Dad got in. His door closed.
A pause while he found the key and jammed it into the starter.
He turned the key.
The motor roared to life.
He reached for the gear shift.
“I'm sick!”
His hand hovered there for a split second. Then dropped down and shut off the key.
“Then, you'd better stay at home with your Mom.”
What?! No! I stared at him, horrified.
“Go on. Get out.”
The tears started.
I should mention here that my Dad is a real push-over for tears.
Any tears.
Except, obviously when his small daughter needs to be taught a lesson.
“Diane. Get out.”
Suddenly, Mom was there, opening the car door.
She carried me, by now crying bitterly into the house and set me down on a kitchen chair.
Over my sobs, I heard the car start up and pull out of the driveway.
They were really going to leave me! It was more than my little four-year-old heart could handle.
I lept off the chair, ran to my parent's room and crawled under the bed.
Now, I should point out here that, never before or since have I crawled under my parent's bed. Maybe because never before or since has anything been that traumatic. But I digress . . .
I lay under there, sobbing for hours. (Or more probably five minutes – it's all the same when you're four.)
Suddenly, a banana appeared at the side of the bed. A fresh banana, with the peel still on, but just slightly opened to reveal the yumminess underneath.
It stayed there, just temptingly out of reach.
I looked at it. I love bananas.
And it really looked good.
I slid towards it. Just a little.
It stayed there.
A little more.
I could almost reach it.
There! I could touch it.
And I was out from under the bed.
“Are you feeling better?”
I looked up. Mom was sitting there on the floor, holding the banana.
I nodded and crawled into her lap. She held the banana for me to take a bite, then handed the rest to me and snuggled me tightly.
I munched my way through the treat, still sniffing occasionally.
Mom waited until I was done.
“Was it good?”
Nod. Sniff.
“Would you like something else?”
She stood up, taking me with her and carried me into the kitchen.
Where she fed me a cookie.
Then another.
Why does everything look better on a full tummy?
Then she sat down. “Diane, in the car, were you really sick?”
I stopped chewing and looked at my cookie. Then I stared at her, wide-eyed.
“I don't think you were, were you?”
Slowly, I shook my head.
“So why did you say you were?”
I looked at the cookie again, my mind working frantically.
“Were you excited about going to town?”
I nodded.
“Okay, I want you to think about this . . .”
Great. Thinking. My forte. Not.
“When we go in the car, I don't want you to say that you're sick. Unless you really are sick.”
I turned that over in my mind. I nodded.
“Can you remember that?”
Another nod. I started chewing again.
Mom smiled and stood up. “Good.”
And, oddly enough, that was all it took.
Never again did I pipe up from the back seat for anything less than genuine illness.
Or the potty, which Mom kept under her car seat.
But that is a whole other story.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

'Twenty' Winks

The real reason Rip slept for 20 years?

Tell me what you think of this…
A man, married to a distinctly unpleasant woman (His words—not sure what the full story is, but I don’t want to judge…) disappears for 20 years, then returns and gives an astonishing performance of…astonishment…when he finds his family gone and his house in ruins. He later meets up with his daughter, now grown, and goes home with her.

Said daughter, now the wife of a wealthy landowner and mother to two children, tells him everything that has occurred in his absence. Including the death of his wife and nearly all of his drinking buddies. The man—oh I forgot to introduce you, his name is Rip—then proceeds to tell his part of the story, which includes entering a cave and falling asleep for twenty years.

Now the genius part of this story is the fact that Rip had no proof. None whatsoever. Other than his newly-long-grown beard, similar outfit to the one he was wearing when last seen, and decaying rifle. Tales of a group of tiny people, happily bowling inside the mountain where he slept are, sadly, inconclusive. And unprovable. And why on earth did he include them in the first place? 

So here is a man who conveniently disappears, leaving his wife and children to fend for themselves. Then, when enough years have elapsed for every possible problem to have resolved itself, he returns to reclaim his life with a plausible/not-so-plausible story. See? Genius. My question is this: Where did Rip actually spend those twenty years? And doing what? Sleeping? Really? A good story, Rip, but we’re watching you. 

And by the way...where is this cave?
Asking for a friend.

Today's post was brought to you by the number 68 and by the letter 'M'. For Mimi 

See what the other participants have created!
Happy Word Counters Day!

Monday, October 19, 2020

'Die' With a 'T'

When I was young, my parents said

To clean my plate—from soups to bread,

I was a skinny chicken, then,

With every food that’s known to men.


As I grew older, diet changed,

From meat to chocolate, it ranged,

And, as a teen, it wasn’t odd

To lunch on Mars bars when abroad.


‘Twas then I started diet fads

To keep my weight from getting ‘bad’.

It started with my Nutri-shakes,

Nutrition, some. And flavour, fake.


From there, I moved to Watching Weight

With guides to track just what I ate,

It worked for years—I even taught

‘Bout only eating what I ought.


Now I’ve seen diets come and go,

‘Eat Only Meat!’ ‘Eat Only Roe!’

‘Away with dairy, eggs and cheese’,

OR ‘Breads are evil! Cause disease!’


I have tried Keto, I admit,

It was a satisfying hit,

And I’ve considered trying Noom,

(I learned about that one on Zoom!)


Will it, like others, come to naught?

(Though I lost the same 10 pounds a lot!)

Think I’ll return to being eight,

Eat everything. And clean my plate!


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 Jenny, Charlotte, Mimi, me

Have crafted poems for you to see.

And now you’ve read what we have wrought…

Did we help?

Or did we not?


Next week, from Mimi, join us here

For ‘Favourite Potables’. Teas to Beer!






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