Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, July 9, 2021

Here’s Goo for You!

There is a toddler golden rule:
Silence is golden, except when you have a toddler. Then it’s suspicious. 
I have a new one:
If a toddler is giggling, it could go either way . . .
Our family is large.
Because of that, food is always purchased in quantity.
[A little aside here . . . Our youngest daughter had moved out on her own for the first time and was grocery shopping with her roommates. She made a momentous discovery. One that she had to phone home to tell her mother about. “Mom! Did you know that peanut butter and Miracle Whip come in little jars? Really! I had to buy them. They were so cute!”]
But I digress . . .
True to form, we purchase many things by the restaurant-sized pail.
There is one drawback.
Buying in quantity isn’t always practical when said substance needs to be refrigerated.
Unless one also possesses a restaurant-sized fridge.
Which we don’t.
For that reason, condiments are quite often stored in the garage. In the sun room. Or right outside, depending on the cycle of the Great Canadian Weather at that particular moment.
Our house has another option. When it was built, the contractor neglected to insulate the floor under the back kitchen entrance.
In winter, that floor gets . . . a tad chilly.
Perfect for extra food storage.
And right off the kitchen.
It was in this area that I had placed a bucket (see above) of ranch dressing.
Okay, yes, it was within perfect reach of Grandson #3 (hereinafter known as GS3), but the lid was on.
And let’s face it, even grandma needed help getting that lid off.
I’ve finally gotten to my story . . .
The family was over.
Dinner was done and the older kids had gone downstairs to play.
The adults and those deemed too young for the hijinks of the older crowd were in the front room.
Visiting/crawling about. Maybe I should clarify. The adults were visiting. The babies were crawling about.
GS3 had disappeared into the kitchen.
We weren’t concerned. Everything was buttoned down/closed/out of reach.
He was there for some minutes.
Then the giggling started.
A giggling toddler is a happy toddler is a good sign. Right?
Ummm . . .
A few minutes later, his mother went in to check on him.
“Uh-oh!” Mom-speak for, ‘We’ve just set our levels to def-con one!’
I hurried in.
The walls (and, indeed, every available surface of the back entrance) were heavily spotted in thick, white goo.
GS3 had somehow wrenched the lid off that pail of soppy, white substance. Dunked his little fingers.
Then flung them around.
Numerous times.
Thus, the giggle. 
Mom took the toddler for a needed cleaning and Grandma started in on the mess.
I will say this. The coating proclivity of Ranch dressing has never been fully explored. Someone should get a grant and do a study. Preferably a parent . . .
Also: If anyone needs help removing those impossible-to-remove lids, I have a toddler who can help.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

A Real Kick

You un-decorate how you want and I'll un-decorate how I want.
It was a party.
And all sorts of things happen at a party, right . . .?
Becoming a teenager was a big thing.
Well, it was to me.
And I was having a party to celebrate.
A different party from any I had had before.
This party was going to include *dun-dun-duuuunnnn!* boys!
I had planned carefully. Games of pool and ping-pong. Music. Dancing. 
I had even decorated with streamers and balloons and invited everyone – jocks. Cool kids. Regular Joes (my group).
And, wonder of wonders, they were all coming.
It was going to be great.
It was great.
Competitions ongoing in both the ping-pong and pool rooms.
Kids dancing in the family room.
Kids circling the food table. 
But nothing is so good that it can’t be made just a bit better, right?
Toward the end of the evening, I was in the ping-pong room.
A final match had just ended and the champion crowned. 
The lights had been dimmed.
Did I mention that I had decorated with balloons?
I did.
That is important here . . .
Suddenly, I had the fun idea of ending the evening by breaking up the decorations.
And what would I use? My foot.
Okay, I can see the look on your face. But it honestly made sense at the time.
I chose my target - one of the lower balloons fastened to the wall. I took aim.
And kicked.
The balloon gave a satisfying ‘pop’ as it expired.
But it remained fastened where it was, making a dark shadow on the wall. 
A large black shadow.
Before I could investigate, one of the cool boys I had been trying to impress all evening decided to take my example and kicked the balloon next to mine.
His results were even more dramatic. His balloon also perished on a lively note. But it must have been a vastly larger balloon because it left a vastly larger shadow.
A foot-shaped shadow.
On closer inspection, it turned out that, not only had our balloons been destroyed.
But the wall behind them had, too.
Yep. My party had just turned a corner. The one wherein property damage is considered in the cost.
I managed to stop anyone else from following in my footsteps – so to speak.
But the damage was there for anyone to see.
My dad was in that group.
Shortly after that, the party broke up and peace once more settled across the Stringam household.
I managed to keep my mom out of that room for the remainder of the evening by offering to clean it myself. (Yeah, she was surprised, too.) Alone in there, I turned the lights up and examined the damage.
Then I noticed that the drywall (the renovations were ongoing and the taping and mudding and painting had not yet been completed) was a yellow colour.
Hmmm . . . almost the exact colour of the pads of yellow, legal-sized paper on my dad’s desk.
I dashed upstairs and secured two sheets of the stuff and some glue.
Hurrying back to the scene of the crime, I held one of them up to the wall. Eureka! (Don’t you just love words?!) It was almost the exact same colour!
Quickly applying glue, I fastened a sheet of paper over each gaping hole.
I will mention here that my parents never mentioned it there.
I mean, the person who finally did the finishing on that wall must have discovered my oh-so-clever camouflage. But my parents sold the house shortly after my party and the paper was still on the wall the day we moved out. 
To this day, I don’t know if they ever knew.
I was always afraid to ask.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021


Artistic: fourth from the right, top row.
Un-artistic: fourth from the right, second row.
Grade three art class.
So much fun with so many things artistic.
None of them me.
I’m not sure, but I think when artistic ability was handed out in Heaven, I was outside.
Doing something else.
Or if I was there, my ability was poured in with a teaspoon and someone jiggled Heavenly Father’s elbow.
Moving on . . .
Others in my class were gifted with a bit more.
Quite a bit more.
One boy, in particular, was amazing.
And it was to Randy that I looked whenever a new assignment was handed out.
He never let me down.
We were in grade three, and had been given large pieces of paper and paints and instructed to paint a tree, I immediately turned to see what he did.
And how he did it.
He started with a graceful, fluid line of brown from the bottom of the page to the top.
I dipped my brush in my brown paint.
And made a streak.
That’s all. A streak. Heavy. Clumsy.
And distinctly un-graceful.
I tried to fix it.
It became an ungraceful streak that . . . thickened.
My teacher asked me, kindly, if I’d like to start again. I received my new piece of paper with relief bordering on giddiness.
And proceeded to do the same thing.
Oh, I did produce a tree.
But I had to label it so others would know.
Another time, we were given pictures to colour with our new pressed-wax crayons, and I fared better.
Again, I craned my neck to see what Randy would do.
His Santa picture was coloured heavily, completely filling in the spaces.
No white specks showing at all.
I tried to copy his technique.
But without his results.
Oh, I managed to stay within the lines. And it even turned out . . . acceptable.
But it just didn’t have the flare – the snap – that Randy’s did.
But I was nothing, if not persistent.
Every picture from then on was coloured with great intent. A lot of crayon.
And Randy’s technique.
But with equally disappointing results.
Then, a few months later, Randy changed things up.
For this newest colouring project, he outlined each space heavily, then proceeded to fill in lightly.
I could almost feel my mother’s relief as requests for new boxes of crayons . . . diminished. In fact, I think my current box and Randy’s new method actually lasted me through the end of the year.
I kept on trying. And sometimes, was actually satisfied with my efforts.
But, by the end of grade three, I had realized something.
When it comes to things artistic:
Some do.
Others appreciate.
I’m definitely in the second category.
And I’m happy there.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021


Two little girls were playing.
Had been for most of the day.
Their electronics – Ipads, television programs, movies – were lying forgotten.
They had spread pillows across the living room floor and played ‘stay-out-of-the-lava’. 
Arranged the dozens of little ponies into regimental order and enacted several scenarios. 
Dressed in pirate togs and created suitable situations. 
With appropriate pirate-y talk. 
Built a fortress and other grand structures out of Lego and then destroyed them – several times. Ransacked the toybox for forgotten treasures and pressed them back into service. 
Climbed Mount Sofa. 
Read books. 
Had a dance party.
And trekked to the kitchen numerous times for ongoing nutritious sustenance. (Those little engines needed a lot of refuelling with such a busy schedule.)
It had been a full day.
And it wasn’t over yet.
Engaged in yet another grand and complex enactment, they charged through the living room.
Then, one of them stopped and announced – loudly – “I have to go potty!”
She turned toward the hallway. But before she left, she looked back at her cousin. “Pause the game, okay? I’ll be right back!”
Her cousin obligingly stopped where she was and simply stood there.
A few minutes later, needs met, play resumed.
Remember when I mentioned they had left their electronics behind while they played?
Well, some aspects simply cross over . . .

Monday, July 5, 2021



My girl and I sat on the beach. We’d had a little tiff,

I tried to talk a time or two. Response was just a sniff,

Then finally, real desperate, I turned to her and said,

“We’ve got to talk a bit or this relationship is dead!”

She still said nothing, sat there staring at the pretty view,

I thought I’d introduce to her a topic that she knew,

“I find it funny, Babe,” I said. “Apparel at the beach.

“If someone wore their bra and knickers, sure you’d hear a screech!

“Yet in bikinis they appear, and onlookers applaud,

“So why is one acceptable, the other says you’re flawed?”

She sat there just a moment more, then gave a little cough,

“I don’t care what they say, Hon, please go and take them off!”

And now for the ultimate in Bikini poetry!

Photo Credit: Karen of
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, our skills, we will apply,
To Cheer the Lonely, we will try!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
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Cheer the Lonely (July 12)
Raspberry Cake Day (July 19)
Parents Day (July 26)
Ice Cream Sandwich Day (August 2)
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Tell a Joke (August 16)
Wind (August 23)
Monsters (August 30)
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