Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, January 8, 2021

'Cloth'ing the Emperor

This is both a very old tale and a new one.

Because sometimes the lessons learned have to be learned again.

And again.

And again.

You get the picture . . .

Many years ago, in the Empire of Odd, there lived a ruler who was—how can I put this judiciously—self-absorbed. The center of his own universe, he was only happy when all eyes were on him.

And, let’s face it, because he was Emperor, most eyes were just naturally drawn to him.

Moving on . . .

As time went by, in an effort to remain in the ‘public eye’, his antics grew larger. More outrageous.

And a section of the population cheered.

The larger the antics, the louder the cheers and adulation.

Now, one day, this Emperor was walking down the street (occasionally, emperors do normal, ‘regular person’ things like that) and noticed a very well-dressed man walking along on the opposite side.

This Emperor thought, “He is very well dressed” or something similar and decided right then and there that, not only must he be the most visible person in his empire, but also the most ‘visible’ person as well, if you catch my meaning.

He sent out a command to all of his people that anyone with a modicum of sewing ability was to come to his court and dress him.

And they came.

Dragging along patterns and materials that could only be worn (or afforded) by the very tip-top of society.

And the Emperor was happy.

Soon, however, he had exhausted his own tailors, so he sent to other countries, demanding their very best as well.

And they came.

They dressed him in silks and satins of every conceivable colour.

And with each new outfit, the Emperor’s vanity grew.

He took to parading along the main streets in each new outfit, fully expecting his populace to stand in awe at his resplendence (Oooh! Good word!).

And they did.

Then one day a couple of ‘tailors’ appeared at the gates of the palace with pleasant smiles. And a lot of moxy.

The two claimed that they could weave the most amazing, most stupendous (their word) cloth ever seen.

Of course they were whisked immediately to the Emperor.

And of course put immediately to work.

For days, they sat up in their rooms, living off the contents of the minibar and the bounty of the empire while they ‘wove’ their stupendous (see above) cloth.

And the word went round the empire (because the two tailors had confided to the major domo) that this amazing new cloth was unlike anything anyone had ever seen. Mainly because one had to be of unusual intelligence to be able to see it.

Finally, they announced that they were ready.

Gathering the Emperor and a room full of his courtiers, they brought out a large chest.

“Now,” they said in their most stentorian tones, “There is something you must remember about this cloth (and by association, this suit of clothes) before we reveal it.”

The room was satisfactorily silent.

“Only those who are of utmost intelligence will be able to see either.”

There were nods of knowing in the audience.

Including one or two from the Emperor, himself.

Certainly that word had reached far and wide.

The lid of the chest was flung back to further oohs and aahs and the two men reached in and pulled out their masterpiece.

Now just to be clear, these two men were charlatans and wouldn’t have known a needle from a pork belly. The chest, which appeared to all the people gathered to be empty, was, well and truly, empty.

But the genius of the scheme was that no one could admit it.

Because doing so would be admitting they were . . . erm . . . less than intelligent.

And, let’s face it—no one’s pride wants that.

Especially a self-absorbed, egotistical, rather narcissistic Emperor.

So the oohs and aahs increased in volume as the ‘cloth’ (and by association) ‘suit of clothes’ were revealed.

The charlatans pointed out various selling . . . points and the Emperor was duly dressed.

Of course he was standing there starkers.

And of course no one could (or would) tell him.

The parade that day to show off this amazing new suit of clothes would be remembered for all time, not for what the people saw. But for the fact that they saw too much.

I mean, some things just naturally should be kept under wraps.

Am I right?

So there pranced the Emperor, niggly bits and all.

Finally and completely exposed to the general populace.

And no one dared to mention it.

Until at last, one small, innocent, child pointed and, in his penetratingly shrill child’s voice, said, “Mama? How come the Emperor is naked?”

Of course everyone, including said prancing Emperor, heard.

Of course everyone, including said prancing Emperor, realized that they had been duped.

The Emperor was well and duly exposed. (*snort*)

And the people realized that their Emperor was so self-absorbed that he would fall for anything just to be noticed.

And they had allowed it.

There was immediate and unmistakable twittering and guffawing among the people.

Oh, some kind person covered said niggly bits and helped the crimson-faced Emperor to leave quietly.

But the lesson remained.

Putting on a good show doesn’t make for a good show.

And . . .

Deceit and pride can be overcome by innocence and truth.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Join the Army--Get an Education (The Conclusion)


A guest post by Sergeant Erik Tolley

There are also some other trades that you could join, like the Military Police, Intelligence (I still can't get any answers as to why they call it that . . .), Logistics (nobody will tell me what they do, either . . .), Medics, Marching Band, Cook, etc.
Unfortunately, I've never seen anybody from these trades, so I can't elaborate on what they do.
Not that anyone in the Combat Arms does much, either.
After selecting your preferred trade, you will be given several pounds of forms to fill out, a medical examination (thank goodness the doctor didn't need a rubber glove), and an aptitude test.
This all finds out if you are in good health, or if you need to come back when you look less like an overstuffed sofa.
Now, when that's all over and done with, you will be told whether you qualify for your preferred trade or not.
If you do, you will be given another annoying pamphlet with an attractive picture and a catchy slogan, which will describe in detail what you will learn to do in Basic Training.
Here is a list of some of the things that it will tell you:
Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defence
Rifle Drill
First Aid
Rank Structure
Everything Else

Strangely, this annoying pamphlet doesn't list any of the other things that you will learn while on your Basic Training course.
These other things are just as important to military life as the things listed above.
To correct this, I have added a few of my own ideas of what should be placed on future annoying pamphlets:
Dirty Jokes
More Swearing
Female Anatomy
Male Anatomy
Alcohol Abuse
Washing Vomit Out of Your Clothing
Dragging Drunken Comrades Back to Base
Standing At Attention When Your Blood Alcohol Content is 0.25
Scaring Civilians
Who says the Army isn't educational?

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Join the Army--Get an Education (Part Two)

 A guest Post by Sergeant Erik Tolley. Part Two

In the infantry, you will be subject to many different forms of violent death, such as getting shot, stabbed, burned, shredded and eating field rations more than twice a day.
The sad thing is, these will all be inflicted by your own troops.
I won't even mention what the enemy will do to you.
Basically, you will be a moving target, which is a lot more fun than a paper target, but a lot harder to patch up afterwards.
You will also get to freeze, starve, sweat, stink, roast, and stay up long enough that you will begin to hallucinate about giant pink bunnies running circles around you singing songs from 'Lion King'.

In the Engineers, you will get to do almost all the same things as in the Infantry, but you will also get to play with explosives.
Powerful explosives.
At least your targets are made out of something stronger than paper.
Unfortunately, the pink bunnies now hum the tune to 'Star Wars'.

In the Armoured trade, you will be able to drive and service large, cool-looking vehicles, often fitted with big guns that make loud noises and wake up the Infantry and the Engineers, if they happen to be asleep, which seems unlikely.
You will also be able to go places that no other vehicle can go, and get stuck in places that no other vehicle could even reach.
Then you send for the Infantry and the Engineers, who are conveniently awake, to come and dig you out, while you sit and play cards.

In the Artillery, you will get to shoot big guns.
If anyone in the Artillery is reading this, please call me and let me know what else you guys do, because there are a lot of people who really want to know.

These are the trades known as the Combat Arms trades. I don't know why they are called this, because practically everyone's arms can be used as weapons.
Oh, well.
I guess that's why I'm in the Army.
If I knew, I'd probably be smart enough to still be a civilian.

To Be Concluded...

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Join the Army--Get an Education

SupErik to the rescue
Drawn by Erik in Grade Nine
During Math class.
Don't ask.
Guest Post by Sergeant Erik Tolley

Upon first sight, the army looks real cool.
The recruiting posters depict big, brawny, attractive soldiers (and strong, beautiful women soldiers, too) all dressed up in their warpaint and carrying automatic weapons and squelching about in the mud as if they're doing something constructive and enjoying it, too.
The posters usually include some sort of catchphrase like "Join the Army  - See the World" and "Be a Part of the Armed Forces, and You Could Look Like One of These Attractive Young Soldiers, Instead of the Lumpy, Greasy, Smelly, Disgusting Couch Potato You Are", which usually makes you want to improve your lifestyle by joining the army and squelching about in the mud, wearing warpaint and carrying an automatic weapon.
Unfortunately, the thought that mud, grease, and gunpowder don't necessarily improve your lifestyle all that much usually doesn't occur to people until after they're actually in the army.
This is why most civilians think that soldiers are idiots.
They are.
I can speak from experience on this one.
I'm an idiot and I'm in the army.
Enough said.
I first decided to join when I saw an ad in the newspaper. If I hadn't seen it, I might have gone on to lead a normal productive life. I might even have been a manager at an A & W restaurant by now. (A management position at McDonald's being too ambitious for me).
But such was not my destiny.
Oh, well.
When you first go into the recruiting center, they ask you what trade you were thinking of.
At this point, you blurt out whatever first comes into your head, because the only part of the army that you've ever heard of is the Infantry, and you don't want to stand there looking like an indecisive idiot while the paperwork-person stares at you.
So, you say Infantry.
Fortunately, the paperwork-person has seen dozens of morons like you every day since he or she joined the army, and he or she will give you a cute little pamphlet with another attractive picture and catchy slogan on the front, which outlines the basics of all the different trades in the army.
This will help you to decide better what you want to be, otherwise, the army would be made up of thousands of Infantry soldiers.
And one clerk named Homer.
Strangely, this little pamphlet doesn't point out the actual tasks that you would be forced to carry out in an actual war zone, such as getting shot and tortured.
For clarity, I have provided you with a little more information that will be invaluable in determining which trade to choose, or rather, which trades to avoid.
To be Continued . . .

Monday, January 4, 2021


Their relationship was lengthy; sadly, the ‘illicit’ kind,

The results not unexpected when a ‘he’ and ‘she’ combine,

A baby was forthcoming, and no way to stop it now,

The mom would not have stood for interference anyhow,

Afraid of having to confess, he planned a stratagem,

To cover his misdeed. Ensure his wife could not condemn,

To Italy, he’d send his lover, ending their affair,

But promised when the baby came, he'd happ'ly provide care,

What she had to do, when baby came, was send a card,

With ‘spaghetti’ written on the back. (That's all. It wasn't hard.)

And he’d begin to pay for care and school for eighteen years,

And ensure that her finances never would be in arrears,

And so she left. The months went by—their little one was due,

Indeed, that fateful day arrived, t’was time for babe’s debut,

The father—home from work—his wife was standing at the door,

Read the card she handed him, then passed out on the floor,

Confused, his wife picked up the card and read it once or twice,

Then shook her head. Some knowledge (just a little) would suffice,

She turned it o’er, it said “Spaghetti” three times, scrawled across,

Then, “Two with meatballs, one without, please plan to send more sauce.”

Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With gentle thoughts,
Perhaps a grin?
So KarenCharlotteMimi, 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, we promise we won't bore
We'll talk of our LEAST favourite chore!

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