Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, November 5, 2021

Getting Good Help


It started with laundry.

Who knew it would escalate into . . .

Well, maybe I should explain.

Youngest Daughter and her youngest daughter (hereinafter known as Littlest Helper, or LH for short) were doing laundry (see above).

Generally, this included such things as: Sorting. Sitting on the floor to untangle various underpants from overpants. And giving the easiest jobs to almost-three-years-old LH.

Oh. And I should probably mention that LH was currently wearing her older sister’s snake sock puppet on her dominant hand.

Truth be told, said snake (or Mr. Snake as he came to be known) was the one actually doing the work.

Ahem . . .

At first all went well. The little pile of clothes on the floor in front of LH was steadily being dealt with by Mr. Snake, who proved remarkably knowledgable as to what went where and why.

Then, trouble.

Mr. Snake started having difficulties picking things up.

A true disaster when one’s only assignment consists of . . . erm . . . picking things up.

Mr. Snake received a stern and fairly volume-ific ‘talking to’, which in itself was—how can I say this?—humorous. Being forced, as he was, to face his accuser and submit to a firmly shaken finger.

Work resumed.

I really can’t say how it happened, but, by this time, not only was Mr. Snake struggling with his original assignment, he had adopted a rather cavalier attitude.

“SNAKE!!!” LH exclaimed, shaking him.

Finally, as no improvement was forthcoming, Mr. Snake was stripped of his increasingly dubious abilities by the simple act of being stripped from LH’s arm. Then, using the patented two-hand method, he was raised high in the air . . .

And dumped. In slow motion.

Just like that.

No notice.

No back pay or benefits.

Just . . . summarily relieved of his duties. Right there and then.

It was a crime.

Stories shall be penned of the outrage.

The unfairness.

Watch for them here.


P.S. Before you feel too sorry for Mr. Snake, however, you should probably know that apologies were forthcoming sometime during the afternoon, because by bedtime, Mr. Snake was in his usual spot—cuddled in the soft, dimpled arms of his mistress as she wandered happily off to Dreamland.

That is all.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Sunday Rest

A treat from Mom's journals.

How did this . . .
 . . . become this?

Sunday at the Ranch was a day of rest.
We slept in!
Instead of getting up at the uncivilized hour of 5:30 AM, we got up at the uncivilized hour of 6:30 AM.
The Wrangler assigned for the day saddled up Slow Poke and rode out to bring in the horses.
The other cowboys swept out the barn, fed the animals in the feed lots and milked the cow.
The man who drew the short straw got cow-milking duty.
Not a favourite chore.
Especially on Sunday.
And a cause for real irritation to whoever got stuck with it.
'Horse Play' usually erupted around or near.
Let me explain . . .
Hans, an animal lover came down the stairs from the hay loft, Cyclone (the aptly-named barn cat) purring in his arms.
Seeing Joe seated beside the milk cow, grouchily taking his irritation out on poor Jenny-the-cow, Hans got an idea.
Okay, not a great one, as it turns out, but an idea none the less.
He set the cat on Jenny's back and pulled his tail.
The cat's, I mean.
Cyclone's claws instantly contracted into the innocent old cow's hide.
Bellowing in pain, Jenny lunged forward, kicking wildly to free herself.
The milk bucket flew into the air, spilling its contents all over Joe as he scrambled for the door, desperate to get away from the flying hooves.
Cyclone flew through the air like a rocket. Five feet off the ground. He shot through the door with legs spinning, all of his nine lives in jeopardy.
With Jenny, intent only on finding the nearest far-away place, right behind him.
Just as the Wrangler arrived on Slow Poke.
Horse, cow, cat and cowboys met.
Completely out of character, Slow Poke erupted. With great heaves and grunts, he flung himself into the air.
Switching ends.
Pounding the ground.
The Wrangler catapulted into the sky in a beautiful arc.
Over the corral gate.
Everyone stood mesmerized in a total state of shock.
The dust settled.
Then the casualties began to moan and move.
This shook everyone out of their trance.
Mark grabbed his vet bag and began to check for cuts, broken bones and heart beats, prodding gently at each limp form. He swabbed and bandaged and dispensed pain killers.
Then Joe sat up, rubbed his eyes and lay back down. "Wake me in the morning," he said, "I just had a nightmare!" He opened one eye. "I should have gone to church!"
The boys carried Joe to the bunkhouse.
All of the other casualties limped or dragged themselves away to the nearest safe place.
Where they collapsed into a heap.
Everyone survived.
But it was some time before Jenny, Joe, Slow Poke, Cyclone, or any others involved in the spin off would approach the barn without apprehension.
Sundays. Truly a day of rest.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

50 Day Wednesday #13

Dottie imagines herself a do-it sort of person—but is defeated at times. (Lawnmower? Still in pieces on her garage floor.)
One day she had a screwdriver out to dismantle an ‘uncooperative’ vacuum.
I smiled. “Why don’t you just take it to the garage and show it the mower?”

Today is Fifty Day Wednesday!

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

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

Sooo fun!

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

Leave your contribution in the comments...

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

When the Tough Get Going

You see a fence post. We see . . . 
Okay, I’m apologizing up front for this story.
It’s . . . gritty. So to speak.
Ahem . . .
I’ve always wondered about toilet paper ads.
Softer. Stronger. More effective.
I mean, why advertise this stuff?
Are there people who are not buying it?
Actually . . . yes.
Think of the people who live in places where dropping over to the local grocery store is really not a possibility. Like those in the deepest, darkest part of the jungle.
And their banana leaves.
Okay, I understand. Soft. Strong. Effective.
Now think of the cowboys on the wide, wide prairie.
Where there are no trees at all and leaves simply aren’t an option.
What are they going to do when nature . . . hollers?
Case in point . . .
Dad was out with his dad doing . . . cowboy stuff. Fencing and exploring the joys of barbed wire.
They were far from the ranch house and even farther from the miracle of indoor plumbing and its accoutrements.
Grandpa had to go.
You know what I mean.
He turned to Dad. “I’ll be right back,” he said.
Dad nodded and continued with what he was doing.
Grandpa set down his fencing pliers and pulled out his pocket knife.
Dad stared at him, confused. Didn’t he just say . . .?
Grandpa walked over to one of the cedar fence posts and, using said knife, shaved off several pieces of wood.
Then he smiled at Dad and disappeared over the nearest hill.
Can anyone say ‘ouch’?

Monday, November 1, 2021

Grandma Hearing


For years, poor Grandma’s hearing had been slowly growing worse,

T'was steadily much tougher for her loved ones to converse,

And so she got a hearing aid to stop her daily strife,

Was told: ‘With perfect hearing, she’d a whole new lease on life!’


A few weeks later, back she popped for further tests and such,

Her doctor asked if life had changed. She told him, “Not that much.”

“The hearing aid you chose is number one,” he said. “First-rate!”

“Your family must be pleased, now that your hearing’s gotten great!”


But Grandma merely smiled. “I’ve yet to tell them anything.”

“I sit around and listen to the chats of my offspring.”

“They don’t know I can hear their many sordid gripes and crimes,

“But I can tell you, doctor, dear, I’ve changed my will three times!”

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 we promise will be fun,
Cause our topic will be PUNS!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...

New Lease (November 1) Today!
Puns (November 8) 
Clean Out Your Refrigerator (November 15) 
Your favorite record (or) best stereo or record player ever (November 22)

Chia Pets (November 29)
Hanukkah/Holidays (December 6)
Ice Cream (December 13)
Music (December 20)
Fruitcake (December 27)
Sleep (January 3)

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Time Off

“And I found this to wear at the beach.” Norma held something up.

Now, I’m assuming, because she said she would be wearing it and the word ‘beach’ was used, that what she was holding would fall under the classification of ‘swimsuit’.
So much for assumptions.
The garment she was displaying so proudly was a mid-calf length dress made of some dark blue material with puffy sleeves and a huge sailor collar. I could see bloomers of the same material lying on the bed behind her.
“Norma—” I was almost afraid to ask, “—where did you get that?”
She laid it on the bed and smoothed the material fondly. “I found it in a trunk up in the attic. Don’t you think it’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?”
“Well . . .” Cutest? For a moment, I pictured puppies. Kittens. Baby seals. Even Reggie. “Umm—”
Norma made a face at me. “You’re just jealous because I got it before you could!”
I coughed. Politely. “Well—” I was trying to think of something positive to say. “You—umm—won’t get cold.”
She nodded happily. “It was a miracle I found it. I probably wouldn’t have if the trunk hadn’t tipped over just as I was crossing the floor. This little beauty simply fell out and—here we are! And it fits me!” She leaned toward me. “You know I never would have consented to our little beach vacation if I didn’t have this in my wardrobe.”
“You were going to turn Edith’s friends down?”
“You can’t expect me to stuff all of my parts into one of those skimpy things they call a ‘swimsuit’ can you? Think of the stories!”
I scratched my head and glanced at said parts. She did have a point. Even hidden under several layers of cloth, there certainly seemed to be a lot of them.
Norma looked up from her careful folding of the beach costume. “It was the oddest thing.”
“Well, I was downstairs, confiding to Reggie my hesitation in accepting this invitation from Edith and her friends. Then I heard a noise coming from upstairs. I thought it was you.”
“I’ve been downtown all morning.”
“Yeah. I forgot that. Anyways, I came up here to investigate and there was the trunk. And the suit.”
She nodded. “As soon as I saw it I knew I was meant to go swimming.”
I would have known as soon as I saw it that it was time for a rummage sale. But then Norma and I never have thought along the same channels.
“Oh and I brought your suitcase up for you to start packing. I put it—” she turned to point, just as the case she had been talking about suddenly tipped over.
I smiled. All at once the reason Norma ‘found’ her suit became clear. Someone was looking for a weekend alone.
I wonder if Elvis is coming over.

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