Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, November 20, 2020


That wonderful time when two people are starting out.
And learning so much.
For good or bad . . .
June was a happy bride.
Determined to do everything right.
Unfortunately, her mother had also insisted on doing everything right.
Particularly in the cooking department.
By herself.
So June remained untaught.
Willing and eager. But untaught.
Then: Marriage.
And the aforementioned DER (Doing Everything Right).
June asked her new husband what he would like for breakfast.
Pleased, he told her just something simple. A couple of boiled eggs.
“O-kay,” June said doubtfully, wondering frantically how to make a boiled egg.
Determined, she went into the kitchen. Put the eggs in a pot.
Added water.
Good so far.
Now. How long to boil them?
Most cakes take 30 to 45 minutes.
She’d go for the longer time, just to be sure.
And she did.
45 minutes later, she proudly presented her new Husby with her version of The Boiled Egg.
Now, at this point, these eggs would be suitable for such things as:
Perhaps lobbing into enemy territory.
What did Husby do?
He ate them.
With a smile on his face.
That wonderful time when two people are starting out.
And learning so much.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Getting What You Need


Friends are important.
They provide words of encouragement when you most need it.
Suffer along with you during dark times.
Laugh when events call for it.
Sometimes all at once.
Umm . . . maybe I should explain . . .
That exciting time when cowpokes and horses are pushing herds of cows from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’.
If this was a math equation it would be something like: If eight cowpokes on eight horses were pushing 400 head of cows from pasture A to pasture B, how many opportunities would there be for accidents/hi-jinks?
Answer: Yes.
Roy and his crew were pushing cows along their usual route.
A route which included at least 1 (one) muddy-watered, swiftly-moving river.
All sorts of things can happen in a river.
It’s wet. And muddy.
And did I mention swiftly-moving?
Fortunately, most of the cattle had crossed safely.
Then there was that 1 (one).
Who foundered. (ie. Stopped going across and started going down.)
One of the hands roped her and, together with said rope and strong language, towed her to safety on the far side.
This is where Roy stepped in.
Because he . . . stepped in. And loosened the lasso off of the animal.
I should probably mention here that cows aren’t noted for their brains.
But are noted for their sharp and pointy horns.
Did she get to her feet and kiss and profusely thank her rescuers?
Ummm . . . no.
Instead, she lowered her head, sighted on the nearest two-footed person (ie. Roy) and proceeded toward him.
At a run.
In an instant, Roy was high-stepping just ahead of those horns.
Now, remember where I mentioned friends at the beginning of this story?
And how they are always there for you?
That applies here.
Because as Roy was hot-footing it around trees and across muddy river banks and shouting for help in several languages, his friends were right there for him.
Friends. Those people who are yours just when you need it the most.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Running With Rum

The Smuggler and her get-away vehicle.
Before she . . . got away.
Mom was a teetotaler.
I thought I should mention that. It explains so much . . .
Dad had surprised Mom with the trip of a lifetime.
Okay, in the 60’s it was the trip of a lifetime.
Driving down along the scenic 101 through Washington, Oregon, California and into Mexico.
They were going to be gone for weeks.
She was just a bit excited.
They set out.
Visiting every landmark, great and small.
Every roadside exhibit.
Every tree, post and rock along the entire route.
Dad loved to see . . . things.
When they had finally finished with Sea World in San Diego, time was growing short.
They had one day to make a hop into Mexico.
Tijuana was all they would have time for.
They set out.
Crossed the border into Mexico.
And had a day of shopping the family-run stalls and businesses on the streets of Old Mexico.
Mom was in her element.
The sheer amount of purchasable ‘stuff’ was mind numbing.
She set to work with a will.
Picking up such treasures as: Velvet paintings.
Items of leather work.
And some lovely bottles, encased in clever, hand-woven reed containers.
Happily, she piled her purchases into the back seat of the car and the two of them set off on the long road back to Canada.
Crossing the border from Mexico to the US was a simple matter of declaring that, yes, they had done some shopping and spent ‘X’ amount of dollars/pesos, and no, they weren’t transporting any firearms, tobacco or alcohol.
They continued on.
Back through California, Oregon and Washington.
Seeing whatever sites Dad had missed on their first pass.
There weren’t many.
Finally, they reached the border, again declaring how much they had spent and that they weren’t carrying any firearms, tobacco or alcohol.
The last few miles to the ranch were covered quickly.
Mom had children to see.
And gifts to bestow.
Their homecoming was noisy and enthusiastic.
Mom handed out her purchases.
Brought all the way from Mexico.
Across two borders.
She had purchased one thing for herself.
The three little bottles in their fancy, hand-woven cases.
She arranged them proudly on the mantle above the fireplace.
One larger.
Two smaller.
For many months, they sat there.
In their place of honor.
Then one of my brothers happened to pick one up as he was dusting.
It was full of liquid.
“Mom! What’s in this bottle?”
“What kind of liquid?”
“Well . . . just water, I suppose.”
“Huh.” He twisted off the cap.
Let’s just say that, if it was water, the water in Mexico is vastly different than anything that flows in Canada.
“Mom. I hate to tell you this, but this isn’t water!”
Mom appeared. “It isn’t?”
“Umm . . . no.”
“Well what is it then?”
“I think you have three bottles of tequila here.”
Okay, remember the part where I mentioned ‘teetotaler’?
That would apply here.
 “What’s tequila?”
 “It’s a very strong alcoholic drink. From Mexico. With a worm in the bottom.”
The ‘liquid’ was duly poured out, worm and all, and good old 100 proof ranch sulphur water poured back in.
Mom went back to the kitchen and my brother went back to his dusting.
All was well.
But I can’t help but think about my teetotaling Mom bringing her three bottles of tequila across, not one, but two borders.
It’s always the ones you don’t suspect . . .

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Red vs Big

1. There once was a sweet little girl. Her name’s unknown. Because she always wore a red-hooded cloak made by her mother, she was just called Red Riding Hood.
2. Red Riding Hood (or RRH for short and to save words), was always very happy to help her mother. And, by association, grandmother, who lived in the woods.
3. One fine day, RRH, carrying a basket of goodies, was wending (Oooh! Good word!) her way to said grandmother’s house to supply aid and/or sweet treats as needed.
4. Along the way, she was met by a Wolf who was not only Big and Bad (note the capital letters), but also could converse quite well in human.
5. Sooo…not your normal wolf by any stretch of the imagination.
He asked her where she was going and RRH, being a bright, friendly, albeit naive child, told him.
6. He smiled and waved her off, then, being Crafty as well as Big and Bad, took a shortcut through the woods, arriving at Grandmother’s just ahead of RRH.
7. What transpired when he and Grandmother met is unclear. Perhaps he gobbled her up. Poor choice. Everyone knows senior citizens are high in cholesterol and low in fiber.
8. Regardless of what happened, their interaction culminated in his weird wearing of the elderly woman’s nightgown and sitting in her bed when the sweet, unsuspecting RRH arrived.
9. There followed a dialogue consisting of questions and answers designed to ferret out the truth. And which ended with BBCW (see above) chasing RRH around the cabin.
10. A local woodcutter, heading home for the day, heard RRH’s shrieks, arriving just in time to see her bash BBCW over the head with the aforementioned treat basket.
11. Now, normally, this would have been passed over as a fairly amusing attempt to waylay someone as powerful as the BBCW. Except for the fairly heavy honey pot.
12. If any of you have had the misfortune of dropping one of those suckers on your toe, you know the damage they can do. Even at low speeds.
13. This one laid the BBCW out pancake flat. So flat, the bulge in the critter’s belly became noticeable. Did anyone bet on the ‘gobbled up’ story? You just won.
14. The woodcutter, possessing—you know—woodcutting…stuff…immediately slit open that belly and, what do you think? Out popped a very disgruntled and rather untidy, but totally alive Grandmother!
15. Then the three of them found several large stones and filled that greedy belly with them. Because nothing says ‘full and satisfied’ like a belly full of rocks.
16. Then Grandmother, possessing the skills, sewed that old belly shut quick as a wink. (Of course blood, gore and correct bodily functions have no place in fairy tales.)
17. The BBCW, when he awoke, felt full and satisfied (see 15) but extremely thirsty. He made his way to a nearby stream where he bent for a drink.
18. But those wretched rocks shifted (they’re quite unpredictable you know, rocks) and pulled him into and underneath the clear water. And there and then, the BB(not so)CW drowned.
19. I’m quite sure that RRH, her mother and grandmother and even the woodcutter really didn’t want this for the BBCW. What can I say? He made poor choices.
20. So, something to think about. If laziness and craftiness try to inhabit the same sphere, laziness will win. Or actually—lose. However you want to look at it.
Word Counters is a totally fun word challenge.
This month, the number of words allowed? 28. Chosen by: ME!
Care to see what the others in the challenge have created?
Baking In A Tornado 
Messymimi’s Meanderings  

Monday, November 16, 2020


When I was young, occasionally, My Dad would read the news,

‘Twas mostly for the headlines, but sometimes to just amuse,

He’d tell us of disasters far away from prairie home,

Describing things that made Mom gasp, (made me vow ne’er to roam),

At other times, the things he read were wonderful and bright,

Ironically, convinced me what I wanted was to write,

At times, a po-em, he’d recite, all sober (or carefree),

I came to find a lot he ‘read’ came from his memory,

Once he said Sylvester Forrest passed away, t’was true,

Mom said, “Oh that’s sad, who’s he?” Said Dad, “I’ve naught a clue.”

The best, though, were the stories that got more and more absurd,

Until the punch line—WHAT?—he’d dreamed up each and every word!

He didn’t always have the time, cause chores and work would call,

But if he pulled the paper out, we knew we’d have a ball!

It’s many years since I heard Daddy reading out the news,

A choice ‘tween him and sources now? I know who I would choose,

Those mornings when he’d take a break from riding through the herds,

And duck his head behind those crisp new sheets of printed words?

They were the best in memory. And I’d not make a fuss

If just once more, I’d get to hear Dad ‘read the news’ to us!


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?


This week, from Mimi, we had fun,

Talking Newspapers, everyone!

Next week from SpikesBestMate, in rhyme,

We will talk about ‘SHOWTIME’!

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