Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Playing It Loud

 I probably don’t have to tell you it didn’t work.

Hmmm . . . Maybe I should recap.  
Norma, my elder sister, and I have been roommates since the death of my husband three years ago. Norma never married and, in a move that was at once uncharacteristic and generous, asked me at the funeral to sell my home and move in with her.
It took me a while, but I finally decided that it would be much more practical for us to halve our expenses by sharing living quarters. Two days after the funeral, I was cramming my bed and furniture into her spare room.
This was new territory for us.
With the gap in our ages—she is twelve years older than me—we had really never ‘shared’ anything. Before I was old enough to be a friend, companion, or even a ‘spoiled-brat-hiding-under-the-bed-to-listen-to-her-and-her-pals’, she was gone, working in the big city.
Now was our chance to make up for it.
At first, all went well. I put up with her rabid attachment to her smelly old bird, Reginald, and she put up with my need to poke pins in her ego at key moments.
All was well.
Until we discovered our visitor. Our fragrant, albeit invisible boarder.
Then everything changed.
Reginald developed a nervous disorder resulting in bowels even more active than usual. Her words, not mine. (I mean, how is that possible?) And finally forced her to send him (temporarily) to our cousin, Edith.
Something that still doesn’t sit well. With any of the three involved parties.
Once good old Reggie was out of the house, Norma, using his future return as an incentive, took it upon herself to expose and terminate our boarder.
I probably don’t have to mention that issuing an eviction notice doesn’t work with invisible visitors. That was the first thing she tried.
Her most recent attempt included dried grass.
And a lot of sneezing.
Effective in exposing our visitor.
But in no way allowing us to capture. Or evict.
And that brings us to today. And her next challenge.
I walked into the sunny front room and stopped. “What are you doing?”
Norma looked up. “I just had the best idea! I’m going to . . .” her words faded to a mumble as she bent over the old stereo that, until this moment had resided in dusty splendour in the basement. She straightened. “What do you think?”
I looked at her. “I think you’re crazy, but that has nothing to do with this. What did you say?”
“I’m reinventing my strategy. I’m going to change the atmosphere here.”
I glanced from the stereo back to her. “And?”
She smiled. “I’m going to play our old records really, really loud.”
I blinked. “Oookay. And that will do—what exactly?”
She looked at me, disgusted. “Well, obviously she likes it quiet.”
I raised my eyebrows.
“And if we—somehow—make this place become more—undesirable, maybe she’ll just leave.”
I sighed. “I don’t know, Norma. Maybe she’ll grow to like it.”
Norma reached into the stack of old LPs on the chair and slid one out. “Remember this one?”
I glanced at the cover. “You’re going to chase our ghost out by playing Elvis Presley?”
She nodded. “If it’s played real loud?”
If her plan was to get someone out of our house, it worked.
I’m now sitting at Edith’s.
With Reginald.
On a more positive note, I think Elvis actually showed up.
I’m quite sure he and our ghost were dancing up a bonafide storm.
I left before the rain started.

Friday, October 29, 2021


I love my little Roomba, cause he helps me every day,

Cleaning dust and dirt and crumbs and tucking them away,

I call my Roomba ‘Buddy’, and that’s what he is, to me,

A friend that cleans from wall to wall and everywhere between.


But today a door was opened and my Buddy got away,

Stealth’ly stealing down the walk and running off to play,

Who knows the mischief he will start? Or if he will return,

I have to tell you solemnly, I really am concerned.


But there’s a truth I cling to and that gives me peace of mind,

Even though my Buddy’s gone and (so far) him, we cannot find…

He has no natural predators, there’s none would bite and chew,

It’s not because he’s handsome, though his looks I’d not eschew!


And it’s not because he’s armed—equipped with weapons of defence,

So why am I not worried bout his actions’ consequence?

It’s because I know a secret, which I’m glad to share with you,

Nature abhors a vacuum. There. Now you’ll not worry. Too!

Today's post was a challenge from the inimitable 
and totally awesome Karen at Baking in a Tornado and Mimi at Messymimismeanderings.

Hop over and see what they’ve done with the theme!

Thursday, October 28, 2021


More Spooky Sputterlings...

“Norma. Watching you sneak around like that is just really . . . creepy.”
She looked at me. “For your information, I am not sneaking!” She lifted her nose into the air with attitude. “I’m tiptoeing.”
Should I say it? My sister is, for want of a better word, bulky. Yeah, I’m going in. “Well, when you do it, it’s creepy.”
This time, I got a glare.
I grinned. “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to trap our ghost!”
I should probably mention to any first-timers out there that my sister and I have a ghost. Well—our house has a ghost. Or some sort of resident.
One that smells nice.
I introduced you to him or her (I’m going with her) here.
I felt my eyebrows go up. When I’m talking to my sister, they do it a lot. “How are you planning to trap our ghost?”
“I’ve figured out what she (my sister agrees on the sex of our secret inhabitant) has a weakness for. And I’m going to bait a trap with it.”
My eyebrows went higher. “And the tiptoeing?”
She looked at me. “I’m trying to keep her from finding out about it until it’s too late.”
“Norma, do you honestly believe that our ghost can’t see everything you’re doing right now?”
She thought about that for a moment. Then, “I’m going to go with no. For one thing . . .” she stepped into the tell-tale spot “. . . I can’t smell her perfume.”
“Oh.” I thought about that one. Maybe she had a point. “Ummm . . . so what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to put down this handful of hay.” She held up some dull green grass.
Okay. Eyebrows again. “Hay?”
“Yes. And when she sniffs it, she’ll sneeze. Then I’ll have her!”
“Norma. When you sniff hay, you sneeze.”
“Yeah. So?”
“I don’t.”
She just kept looking at me. “And?”
“Norma,” I said patiently. “Not everyone is allergic to hay. And besides, she’s a ghost. Ghosts don’t sneeze.
“But when I wave it . . .” Norma did so. And sneezed violently.
It echoed weirdly around the room.
I suddenly felt something go creepy-crawly down my back. “Norma,” I said quietly. “Do that again.”
She waved the hay. And sneezed.
This time, the echo was a little behind.
And a little to the right.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

50 Word Wednesday #12

I looked at Jim. “What’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“You may not be far wrong.”

“Excuse me?”

He took a deep breath. “Remember that ugly yellow plaid suitcase that disappeared with Aunt Minnie two years ago?”


“It’s standing in the front hall. Soaking wet.”

Today is Fifty Day Wednesday!

And that means another challenge to tell a story using EXACTLY fifty words.

Thank you so much, Adela, for opening this new world to me . . .

For the rest of October, I think I’ll concentrate on things spooky.

Sooo fun!

This is an uber-fun, uber-challenging exercise.
Join us!

Leave your contribution in the comments...

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Spooky Sputterlings

  A few years ago, I serialized my stories about a pair of elderly sisters, The Sputterlings.
Things got a little...spooky. Perfect for this time of year!

I sniffed. “I smell it again!” I said.
Norma looked up from her newspaper and frowned, confused. “What?”
“That fragrance! That weird fragrance!”
She pursed her lips and sniffed, audibly. “I don’t smell anything.”
“Come over here. It seems to . . . cling to this exact spot!” I stepped to one side and indicated with both hands. “Right here!”
Sighing, Norma set down her paper and heaved her bulky self to her feet. “Fine,” she said. “But I’m only doing this because you’re my sister.”
“You’re a true friend,” I cooed, giving her just a bit more space.
Obligingly, she manoeuvred herself into the designated spot. “Okay. Here I am.”
“Now sniff!”
She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. Then frowned and did it again. “Huh,” she said.
“Right?” I watched her.
She stepped to one side and sniffed once more. Then stepped back and repeated the procedure. “Huh,” she said again. She looked around, then slowly dropped to her knees. “I only do this because I love you,” she said, glancing up at me.
“And I love you,” I said. “So what’s making that smell?”
She bent down and sniffed the carpet. “Huh. Nothing.” She sat back on her heels and stared thoughtfully upwards. Her eyes brightened. “Maybe it’s the spirit of some former resident,” she said.
I gave her my best ‘tell-me-another’ look. “Right. A former resident who haunts only this spot?”
“Well, maybe she died right here.”
“Don’t be morbid,” I said, moving a step away.
“No! I can see it! Her body laying here, crystallizing slowly.”
"Ugh!" I said. Then grinned and picked it up. “Her spirit hanging around till her mortal remains are discovered, then deciding in that instant that it must always stay . . .”
“Pfff! What will you think of next?!”
Norma made a couple of shuffling movements, then sighed and held up her hands. “Could you?” she asked.
I shook my head and reached out to help her to her feet.
Both of us sniffed the air again.
Suddenly, a whisper of sound. A . . . hissing. It burst inside my head. “Roommates!” it said.
I spun around, then looked at my sister. “Did you . . .?” I said no more. The look on her face told me everything.

Monday, October 25, 2021


 I always have loved music,
It reaches to my soul,
And cheers or calms, when troubles
Would threaten my control.


I’m grateful for my music,

As it has filled our home.

For gracious, cheering pieces

That set a happy tone.


Our family loved the musicals,
They’d happ’ly sing along,

And even join the dancing as

They sang those favourite songs.


And then my Husby introduced,

A whole new music style,

He took us to an opera,

Convinced that we would smile.


It was intimidating,

I do not have to say,

The show was titled ‘Carmen’,

(A rather famous play.)


But clutching shiny playbooks,

And seated in our chairs,

We watched the lights and orchestra,

Could do nothing else but stare.


And then the op’ning strains,

As the band began to play,

We smiled as music wrapped around,

And took us far away.


Then one specific phrase,

From violins, I think,

It caught our fam’ly by surprise,

Made Husby and me blink.


For it was so familiar,

Known from our childhood,

“Bugs Bunny!” we both said aloud,

Oh life (right then), was good!


With opera, we fell in love,

(Attended just a bit.)

Each story took us far away,

The music was a hit.


But though it was a passion,

New productions found us there,

We loved it most when ‘Bugs’ appeared,

Our silly childhood hare!


Now one last ‘note’ before I go,

And yes, I meant the pun,

How many got our opera firsts,

From that ‘hare’y one?

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 a New Lease, we will find,
For rent or life or peace of mind!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
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