Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Thursday, November 26, 2020

12 (Part Two of Two)

 Part Two

If you missed the first part (And many did because of technical difficulties!) you can find it here!

Things went according to plan.

Okay, I know this isn’t common in a fairy tale, but go with me on this…

In next to no time, Gerrold was trailing after a little train of princesses as they made their silent way through a little-used side door and out into the gardens.

And from there through an equally little-used side gate and out into the neighbouring forest.

Intent on their destination, none of them noticed they were being followed by a soft-footed shadow.

Good thing, too, although I’m not quite sure what would have happened if Gerrold were discovered.

I mean, these girls weren’t—you know—monsters.

Silently, the group and the shadow crept through the woods, arriving finally at a strange, dark, little stone house.

A house that, as they approached, suddenly lit up until it was almost too bright to look at.

The front door opened and a very odd creature stepped out onto the stoop.

Because it must have been a stepping stoop.


The creature had very wrinkled green skin and large, bat-wing ears. But the strangest thing about it were its eyes.

They…glowed. Green.

Not something you see every day.

It was dressed very formally and, as the girls advanced, swept a beautifully-brushed top hat off a rather lumpy head and bowed deeply.

The girls smiled at it warmly, then stepped past it and entered the house.

Immediately, lights sprang on throughout the house and music began to play.

The creature followed after the last princess, Sofia, and closed the door.

Gerrold sprang from the shadows and approached the house, still walking carefully. In a moment, he had his face pressed against the tall window just to the right of the doorway.

I really don’t know what he was expecting, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t what he saw.

The 12 princesses were dancing with 12 creatures exactly like the one who had just welcomed them in.

Well, almost exactly. Truth is, I can’t tell one demon from another.

They all look the same to me.

True story.

And yes, they were demons.

Those same demons, in fact, who had accepted a deal with the new Queen to overrun and generally annoy the stuffing out of the King, princesses, and anyone else who happened in their path.

Yep. Those demons.

And that’s exactly what they would be doing.

If they weren’t dancing their hairy, rather disgusting little feet off with the aforementioned 12 princesses.

Are we beginning to catch on?

Our clever little princesses, knowing of the wicked Queen’s plan, had found a solution that worked.

And at very little cost to anyone.

If you don’t count the fact that none of them were fit for active duty before about 10:00 each morning. And all needed to be re-shod with equal regularity.

Quietly, Gerrold tucked away this little tidbit of information and crept back into the cover of the trees. Later, as dawn approached, he again fell in behind the girls as they once more picked their way through the woods.

This time, they walked a little slower because: 1. Tired and 2. Worn-out shoes on rough woodsy trails. More than a few rather strident comments featuring all demons in general and the Queen in particular floated back from the exhausted girls.

Soon they were tucked up in their safe, warm beds and Gerrold was reporting to their father.

Now the King was a fairly clever chap and wasted no time in taking all his strongest guards and going straight to the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Said horse being the queen.

Of course.

At first she denied outright.

Then prevaricated.

And finally confessed.

Now the King was a gentle, considerate ruler.

But when someone threatened his kingdom, he could get . . . testy.

He ordered Queen Demona imprisoned.

Then, when his girls had awakened, the fourteen of them (because now Gerrold was included) had a ‘discussion’.

About keeping secrets from their father—regardless of the reason.

The king dismissed the girls—and Gerrold—and went off by himself to ponder just what an appropriate punishment should be for a Queen who lied and cheated and tried to steal.

But as it turned out, he needed have wasted grey matter on the subject.

Because once the Queen’s dastardly (Oooh! Good word!) plan was uncovered, the strength and power poured into it to make it work snapped back—as often happens in these instances—upon the caster.

In this case, Queen Demona.

Now spells are tricky things. And even have been known to have a sense of humour.

Sometimes a bit twisted, but they are—you know—spells.

This time, the spell forced the Queen to start dancing.

And dancing.

And dancing . . .

She is dancing still.

The kind King keeps having Gerrold (now Prince Gerrold, because that’s what happens when you marry a princess…) toss new shoes at her.

And her meals are all, of necessity, fast food.

And, let’s face it, she’s very, very, very fit.

But still, sadly, she’s cursed.

We can learn a couple of things from this story . . .

First: Don’t curse people. It never works like you think it will.

And Second: There are some people who think dancing is the greatest form of totally enjoyable exercise.

And some who think it’s torture.

They’re right.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

12 (Part One of 2)


There have been many versions of this story.

This is the true one.

Would I lie to you?

The kingdom of Nie was known for three things: its prosperity, its shoes and its 12 beautiful princesses.

Yes. You heard right.


Where did they get 12 princesses?

Seriously? Ummm . . . this isn’t that kind of a story.

Moving on . . .

Now the girls’ mother had passed away a number of years before, when the youngest was a mere baby. So their father (the king), with the help of several loyal servants, had raised those girls with all the love in his heart—which was a lot—and they had grown into sweet, true girls who loved him very much in return.

All was well.

Until the king remarried.

And the shoes started wearing out.

I may be getting ahead of myself.

Sooo, yeah, the king remarried. He had been alone (apart from the aforementioned hundreds of servants in the castle) for a very, very long time and his daughters were overjoyed that he would finally have a companion and friend.

Sadly, as happens occasionally, the unspeakably beautiful woman, Demona, had never heard of the word ‘companion’ and thought ‘friend’ was just ‘fiend’ spelled wrong.

Her only goal in saying “I do!” was securing the fat kingdom of Nie for herself.

Almost immediately after the nuptials were completed, her dastardly plan went into effect.

The idea was fairly simple. Drastically distance herself from the man she had just sworn to love and cherish, and bespell all of her demon ‘fiends’ (See? That word.) to attack the kingdom and do away with said man and anyone remotely related to him.

I sure there was much gleeful hand rubbing and chortling going on in the queen’s quarters on that first night as she anticipated the outcome of a night of demon terror. Which she, incidentally, did not have to witness. Because...bespelled demons.

Pretty slick plan, right?

The only drawback was the fact that, with all her careful preparation, she forgot that she was living with a houseful of spirited, curious (and sneaky) young women.

At least one of whom overheard Demona’s demonic plans.

And immediately told her sisters.

Who then plotted to…erm…out-demon the demons.

When the queen arose the next morning, instead of sobbing, or better yet—silence—she was met by the usual, cheerful sounds of ‘a-palace-having-a-very-normal-day-thank-you-very-much’.

Speechless with surprise and, increasingly, with fury, the queen ran through the castle, taking note of the people who hadn’t disappeared.

Most noticeably the king and his wretched daughters.

What in the name of all that’s evil had gone wrong?

When she came upon the aforementioned KAHWD (see above), not only were they cheerful and smiling, they were happily discussing shoes.


Most notably the fact that 12 pairs of new and pristine had inexplicably and overnight, turned into 12 pairs of old and distinctly worn out.

The emergency cobbler was being called in.

As Gerrold, the young man with the hammer, arrived, the queen decided she had somewhere else to be and brushed rudely past him in the doorway.

Some people… Am I right?

Pleasantries were exchanged, feet were measured, new shoes ordered and the Gerrold gathered up his paraphernalia and left.

But not before he and the youngest daughter, Sofia noticed each other.

Later that day, the new shoes were delivered. Just in time for the girls to try them on just as they were getting ready for bed.

That Gerrold. He’s good.

Darkness settled over the kingdom and again, Queen Demona lay awake, her eyes gleaming strangely as she anticipated her elevated status the following morning.

I probably don’t have to tell you that the next day was practically a carbon-copy of the last. With a progressively angrier queen hurrying through the castle, intent on finding people dead who had the temerity to be very much alive.

And again discussing shoes.

This time, she didn’t wait for the cobbler to arrive (missing the significant looks he and Sofia were now giving each other), but flung herself out the front door of the castle and onto the first horse that could be saddled and brought up from the stable.

Then she and her mount disappeared down the dusty road into the woods.

Later that day and in a far better mood, she returned and climbed up to her rooms where the hand-rubbing and glee re-commenced.

Again, Gerrold brought new shoes to replace the less-new shoes just as the girls were preparing for bed.

Again, the kingdom settled in.

But the next morning, Queen Demona was once more speechless with surprise and rage when the day dawned clear and bright . . . and sorrow-less.

She was for sure going to have to, at the very least, get new demons.

This time, when Queen Demona stopped in the doorway, something in the conversation the 12 princesses were having with their father made her pause.

Again the discussion revolved around worn-out shoes. Again, Gerrold was summoned. But this time, Queen Demona noticed that, during the ensuing conversation, most of the princesses (except Sofia, who really only had eyes for the cobbler), kept looking at her when they thought she didn’t notice.

Something was definitely up.

She picked up one of the worn-out shoes and examined it. Huh. Either the materials and/or workmanship were shoddy, or someone had been dancing in this shoe for hours.

Hmmm . . .

Dropping the shoe, she turned and left.

Followed shortly thereafter by all 12 of the princesses.

Sofia was the last to leave, casting one last tender look at the cobbler as she disappeared through the doorway.

The king…noticed.

Now say what you will about the low-li-ness of a cobbler compared with the high-li-ness of…say…a king and you’ll have to agree they’re pretty much on either end of the ‘li-ness’ scale.

But this king liked the cobbler. Liked that he was a hard worker. And liked how he treated his girls and Sofia in particular.

He called Garrold over and the two men had a discussion that revolved through the subjects of daughters and shoes and focused in on just-what-the-heck-is-going-on-and-why-are-the-shoes-wearing-out-so-fast?

You’ll agree, rather hefty topics.

It was decided that Gerrold would hang about the castle once he delivered today’s shoes, and follow the princesses and maybe get to the sole of things.

That’s just a little pun.


Something he was only too eager to do.

Stay Tuned tomorrow for the conclusion!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Books for Wine

Life on a ranch in the 1950s was a world unto itself.
A place where a family could grow together, leaning on each other.
Quiet. Peaceful.
A place where the world seldom intruded.
Except for that . . . erm . . . exception . . .
Three brothers were growing up on their family farm.
Just down the road from a Hutterite colony.
Both settlements were rather remote.
But it’s hard to say which was the most un-worldly.
The three teen boys had comic books.
Something the Hutterite boys wanted.
The Hutterite boys had access to homemade wine.
Something the brothers wanted.
The two groups made a bargain. Comic books for wine.
The only obstacle to the conclusion of their mutual agreement was the actual . . . conclusion.
Because neither family approved.
Go figure . . .
They finally worked it out.
The brothers would leave their offering of comic books at a pre-appointed spot in a nearby field.
The Hutterite boys would retrieve said books and leave, in their place, a bottle of the colony’s finest.
This went on for some time.
To the mutual satisfaction of all parties.
Reading and drinking were continuing apace.
Then, that eye-opening event.
When the boy’s dad brought home a bottle of wine.
From the same colony--but carried in through the front door and in full sight of all who lived there.
Huh. Weird.
The boys were given a glass.
And discovered that the colony’s best they had been receiving really wasn’t.
Hmmm . . . who do you complain to when your ultra-clandestine deal goes awry?

Monday, November 23, 2020


We’ve spent our lives in theatre, t’was what we loved to do,

But stage life didn’t always work the way we wished it to.

So here is just a taste of the things ‘to be or not to be’,

That tell that you belong within the ‘Theatre Community’!

If your trusty sofa’s on the stage much more than you, yourself,

You have a ‘Frequent Shopper’ card for all the Goodwill shelves,

Or can’t find your own vacuum, but within the Prop Room there

Can easily find a prop that’s not been used for twenty years!

You've ‘cleaned up’ a tuxedo using black felt pen.

It’s hot glue holds your costume on until production ends,

You’ve seriously considered NOT enacting the murder scene,

Cause a gun would wake the audience and might make them really mean,

Tech Week finds you devoting all your troupe’s impressive powers

In getting your play’s running time to under four long hours,

Your kids have begged you not to buy them Happy Meals once more,

They’re better with your lines (and with your cast, better rapport),

Your son just played your father with his makeup thick and veined,

You race back to rehearsal ‘cause you forgot your kids—again,

You’re the only guy auditioned, so you nat’rally got the part,

The cast outstrips the audience when the play is due to start,

Your gun is held together with electric tape, quite black,

You've leaned out through a window ‘fore you thought to fold it back,

The audience recognizes you in makeup and moustache,

Cause just before the show they saw you taking out the trash!

The set designer cautions not to enter from stage left,

(Though you're onstage in five) cause all of that half is still wet,

In dinner gown and heels, you’ve moved a sofa ‘cross the stage,

Or done the same (and you’re a guy!) and feeling mighty strange…

All this and more is just a taste of what it means to be

A member of the troupe of the ‘Theatre Community’!


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, it won’t be very hard,

We’ll talk about the festive CARD!



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