Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, May 20, 2022

Tiny Pray-ers

I’m really on a poetry roll...
Have you ever watched the kids at church?
Or heard their daily prayers?
Well, I’ve been doing some research,
These things are true, I swear . . .
Said Mom to her girl  in the pew,
“We must quiet reverence, keep!
Do you know why?” Girl said, “I do!
‘Cause people are asleep!”

With the Lord’s Prayer, he declaimed,
“Our Father, Who does art in heaven.”
Then added, “Harold is His name."
And then, “Amen!” was given.
Another praying (as he had been taught),
Asked to be a ‘lamb’.
“But,” he said, “It matters not,
It’s fun the way I am!”

The elder lad, who, without shame,
Watched baby brother blessed.
Spoke with the priest and then became
Unaccountably distressed, 
The Service done. Clutched dad (Jerome),
While looking very blue,
Said, “Priest wants me in a Christian home,
But I want to stay with you!”

Two boys were fighting over food,
Who’d be the first one served.
Mom frowned because it wasn’t good,
“You must be like the Lord!
‘You go first!’ He’d always say.
And first, His brother’d be.”
One boy looked at his brother then,
“You be the Lord!” says he.

The small boy grabbed his father’s hand,
And led him to the beach.
A dead bird lay there in the sand,
Dad frowned. T’was time to teach.
“What happened?” his young boy inquired.
“He went to Heaven, son.”
The boy frowned down at the body, mired,
“Thrown back when God was done?”

A small girl asked to bless the food,
For guests her mom invited.
She said, “I can’t! My prayers aren’t good!” 
(She was a bit excited.)
“Just say what you’ve heard Mama say.”
She nodded. That was fine.
"Lord,” she said, “Just why on earth
Did I ask these folks to dine?!”

We talk of Faith, we talk of Hope.
We talk of Charity.
We follow prophet, rabbi, pope,
Find comfort on our knees.
Though we’re sincere in thought and word,
With pomp and pageantry,
There’s no one closer to the Lord,
Then the children that you see.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Changing Careers

Shortly after we were married, Husby took a job as foreman at a housing plant.
Building pre-fabricated homes.
He was good at it.
And it was two minutes from where we lived.
He was home for lunch every day.
As well as for breakfast and dinner.
For his new bride, life was perfect.
For the man actually going out to work . . .
The job was very stressful.
Many bosses - several without any knowledge of building.
Any knowledge.
He carried on.
For two years.
He had a family to feed.
But the stress started to tell.
He developed health issues.
And stopped sleeping.
That's when he started making noises about going to school.
Husby had been in school when we started dating, but had quit to take a job after we were married.
Now, he realized that he had made a mistake and wanted to correct it.
I was unconvinced.
How would we provide for ourselves if we had no income?
So he continued working.
Growing more and more unhappy.
And sleeping less and less.
One time, he suddenly snorted, sat up on the edge of the bed and started getting dressed.
“Honey, where are you going?” I asked. “It's 4 AM.”
He jumped and looked around. “Oh,” he said. “Oh.”
He pulled off his shirt, lay back down, and was instantly snoring.
Is there a term for sleep-dressing?
Probably . . . sleep-dressing.
Moving on . . .
One night, around 3 AM, I was sleeping quietly.
Suddenly, Husby shot up in bed, grabbed me by the collar of my pyjamas, pulled me to a sitting position in the bed and shouted, “You hold the ladder! I'll nail the soffit!”
My sleep-fogged brain vaguely discerned that these were 'house-building' terms.
“Honey, you're dreaming,” I said, rather shakily. “Go back to sleep.”
He wasn't to be deterred.
He shook me slightly. “Okay?!”
“Okay!” I said.
“Good.” He dropped me and flopped back onto the bed.
Seconds later, I could hear his soft snore.
He had been asleep the whole time.
I, however, would probably never sleep again.
I was finally convinced. Stark, heart-racing trauma will do that to you.
Husby went back to school.
He studied History, Arts and Anthropology.
(Finally achieving a doctorate, a fantastic career, and a lot of satisfaction.)
His health instantly improved.
As did his sleeping habits.
Going back to school was a good decision.
Though with two tiny babies and a wife to feed, it had seemed anything but.
He no longer sleep-dressed.
Or roughed up his wife.
And you can bet that the installation of any soffit was in broad daylight.
With a much more willing assistant.
Oh, and real soffit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Tiny Truths

 What can I’s just a ‘poetry’ week!

Six of Seventeen...
These are truths I’ve come to know
As through Life I’ve chanced to go.
A better time you will have too. 
If you share what you do accrue . . .

The first: you cannot baptize cats,
Don’t argue, just accept the fact.

If Mom and Dad, a spat have shared,
Never let Mom brush your hair.

If Sister hits, then don’t hit back,
You will get blamed for the attack.

Though with faith he seems imbued,
Don’t trust your dog to watch your food.

Unless you want a style with ‘flair’,
Don’t sneeze while someone cuts your hair.

When holding cats, to avoid the welts,
Leave the vacuum somewhere else.

If brother is a three-year-old,
A tomato’s not for him to hold.

White shorts look good, but people stare
At polka-dotted underwear.

And when you‘re sad as sad can be,
The best place is on Gramma’s knee.

And as I’ve aged, my wisdom’s grown,
My chickens from the nest have flown.
But as an elder, I’ve learned more,
Take heed, here’s what you have in store.

Raising teenagers, you’ll agree, 
S’like nailing jelly to a tree.

Those wrinkles, although clearly there.
Are painless. Just so you’re aware.

Those oaks that you see standing ‘round,
Were once a nut that held its ground.

If jogging’s what you like to do,
Then laugh. You’ll jog the inside, too.

And cereal somewhat kills the joy,
When picked for fibre. Not the toy.

So there. That’s it. It’s all I’ve got.
I know it’s really not a lot.
But if you want to silly be.
Try these, and you’ll be just like me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Owls, Cats and the Moon

You’ve heard it. The sweet ‘Owl and the Pussy Cat’ poem. For a moment, I need you to forget the fact that ‘pussy’ has a prurient ‘new’ meaning and just remember the word the way it was when we were children. 

Okay, I am the last person to advise someone on their love live. Seriously. Whom you love is between you and them and I wish you every happiness. Even as a small child, I defended Ms. Pussy Cat’s choice of suitor. 

It was a few other aspects of their story that had me…concerned. Oh, I had no problem with their pea-green boat. Between you and me, when I sail, I see a lot of that colour. Too much, in point of fact. 

But, fine. They can paint their boat whatever colour they want. It’s a free world… My bigger concern was their choice to bring some honey and their money wrapped up. Together. Choice of wrapping aside, do you see the inevitable difficulty? 

For one thing, wouldn’t their money get…I don’t know…sticky? I don’t know about you but whenever I’m around honey—and you have to know I am VERY careful and apply using only approved utensils—every finger I own ends up sticky. 

And a few other fingers besides. Why just yesterday, I was spreading honey for my granddaughter’s PBH and both of us had to be hosed down afterward. True story. And, just incidentally, I didn’t even get a bite of said sandwich. 

Just thought I should put that out there. Ahem… Sooo do you suppose merchants they met balked at taking their sticky money? I know I would have. It’s bad enough when I ‘sticky’ myself (see PBH above) but taking someone else’s? 

Ew. I’m seeing more of that pea-green colour. Now I loved the part where the owl, by the light of the stars, sang so sweetly to his lady-love. That would have melted the most romance-resistant heart on the planet. Just sayin’. 

Ms. Pussy Cat’s head was certainly turned. So much so that SHE proposed marriage on the spot. I’d call that a success. Any thoughts? Their only snag was the fact that there are relatively few jewelry stores on the high seas. 

Undeterred, the two sailed for just over a year, finally making landfall in the fabled land of the ‘Bong Tree’. And interestingly, no sooner had they set foot on this island, they discovered, I’m assuming among the Bong trees, a pig. 

With a very convenient ring in the end of its nose. Okay, two things: Just how large was this ring? And secondly, how hygienic? I mean, have you EVER seen a pig’s nose? They sniff a lot of rather unsavoury stuff. 

The price was certainly good, no arguments there. In today’s money, they paid roughly 6 cents US. Okay, there’s a whole argument that can be made vis-a-vis getting ripped off in paying for something special and simply not paying enough. 

But let’s not go there. The marriage apparently occurred the next day. When you’ve been sailing for over a year and you have no idea of your next port, it’s probably advisable to take care of business while you can. Agreed? 

A local, hillbilly turkey (You imagine him how you want and I’ll imagine him how I want…) took care of the formalities. The reception was good. Or at least the food was. (Hey! I like Mince! And quince jam? Very mmmmm.) 

And to feed each other with a runcible spoon? Perfect. (Okay, no, I don’t know what it is either.) But the truly textbook touch was the wedding dance by the light of the moon. That cemented it. This relationship will last! 

So Ms. Cat and Mr. Owl’s story is actually one about overcoming obstacles, ie. fur and feathers, sticky money and pigs’ nose rings, choices of living accommodations: trees vs barns. And marrying your love. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Today’s post is a writing challenge. Each month one of the participating bloggers pick a number between 12 and 50. All bloggers taking part are then challenged to write using that exact number of words in their post either once or multiple times. 

This month’s word count number is: 41
It was chosen by: ME!
Links to the other Word Counters posts:
BakingIn ATornado

Monday, May 16, 2022

Purple Peace

There seems so little we can do

            For troubled folks we know (or knew),

Apart from giving money, goods,

            T’help others navigate their ‘woods’,

But something that reduces strive?

            Helps others make it through their life?

 All we can do is not condemn,

Then don a colour just for them.

Like YELLOW just to show we care,

            That we are suicide aware,

And RED for Heart Health, yes indeed,

            We wear that shade for those who need,

There’s GREEN for Mental Health, oh yes,

            It’s more important than you’d guess,

And BLUE or PLAID for cancers there,

            To those who hurt from those who care,

The RAINBOW shows that you endorse

            The LGBTQ, of course,

And finally BLACK—support is strong,

            That gender-based hurt is very wrong…

So all these colours bring us to

            The colour PURPLE, old and new,

So why don that shade? You may ask,

            Who would we help with such a task?

It started with an ‘alien’ bent,

            A friendly sign from ‘earth’ was sent,

And PEACE was offered, yes, indeed,

            If e’er those aliens had a need,

But now it is a little more,

            It shows that violence we abhor,

And nasty despots have no place

            Cannot cause pain to any race,

So please wear purple, show that you,

            Want PEACE in this old world, too!

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 topic very dear,
We’ll talk of TURTLES! Join us here!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks (with a huge thank-you to Mimi, who comes up with so many of them!)...

Purple for Peace (May 16) Today!

Turtles (May 23)

Memorial Day (May 30)

Yo-yo (June 6)

Roller Coaster (June 13)

World Refugee Day (June 20)

The Happy Birthday song (June 27)

Friday, May 13, 2022

One Step Forward. Two Steps...

 Sally shrugged. “I don’t know why they got so bent. Mort had paid for the stupid ring.”

“Just another in a long string of misunderstandings, Sal,” Mort said, flipping a page in the magazine he was reading.

I raised an eyebrow. “Something you seem to excel at, Sis.”

She made a face. “The guard was new and a bit trigger-happy.”

“He pulled a gun?” Using one oven mitt-encased hand, Mom whacked Mort’s feet to get them off the coffee table, then set down a platter of bubbly, cheese-filled appetizers.

“Nope. A cell phone. With a speed dial to the police.” Sally grabbed a round of cracker, ham and melted cheese and popped it into her mouth. “Oooh. Theeth are HOT!”

Mom grinned at her. “You think? I did just take them out of the oven!”

I looked at her. “So what happened with you and Uncle Pete?”

Mom glanced at her newly-minted fiancĂ© and blushed. Let’s face it. She’s not cut out of quite the same ‘thumb-my-nose-at-the-world’ stuff as Sally. “Another misunderstanding.”

I merely looked at her. “We’re listening.”

She sat beside Uncle Pete and they linked hands. “We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, to tell the truth. Apparently there had been a mugging nearby and the perpetrator…”

“What big words you know,” I said.

She tossed me a glare, cleared her throat and went on. “…the perpetrator looked like a decidedly attractive ex-marine recently returned from Afghanistan.”

Uncle Peter smiled at her. “I love you,” he said. She blushed even more.

“See? Easily explained,” Sally said, reaching for another cracker.

Peter and I exchanged a glance. “So what do we do now?”

Sally bounced to her feet. “Let me grab some money. WE are going shopping!”

I summoned up a smile. “Have fun.”

“No. Not Mort and me! YOU and me!”

I had time to look at Peter hopelessly whilst reciting the oft-misquoted ‘We who are about to die salute you!’ before I was jerked from my comfortable perch on the couch.

In less time than I imagined possible, the two of us were skating up and down aisles at Dollar Tree. Sally was pulling packaged decorations off shelves with total abandon. “Oooh! This! And this! And these!” She pushed her laden cart(s), collecting another as one was filled. Before long, she had a positive train.

I glanced at my watch. We’d been there 7 minutes.

I tried to get her attention. “Sal, don’t you think it would be much smarter to actually come up with a theme—or at least colours—and then go to a Bridal Wedding planning company and start there?”

Sally looked at me. “They have such a place?”

“Several.” I edged past the tottering pile in the cart nearest me. “They’ll help you plan your wedding and everything.”

Sally pursed her lips and looked thoughtful. Then she started pushing her carts toward the checkout. “Well, we’ll get…”

That was as far as she ‘got’.

As Sally was rounding the corner from aisle 4 something—on of her pockets? —caught one of the shelves.

In a heartbeat, it and all three of its closest neighbours came crashing down, ejecting their contents. Instantly, the center of the aisle became a war zone.

Shoppers—and me—scattered.

Sally calmly remained—haven’t I told you she’s made of stern stuff—and, when the manager and a small army of employees approached, pointed at the mess. “There’s been an accident,” she said, needlessly.

As the manager et al gaped at her, Sally pushed/pulled her carts to the checkout. The young man behind the till had been staring at what he could see of the mess behind her. He turned wide eyes to Sally. “Erm…” was all he could manage.

Sally merely shrugged. “Please add these things up,” she said. “And anything that’s broken in there.” She pointed.

You know, I don’t say this often (in point of fact, never), but sometimes, I’m downright proud of my sister.

Life with her is never boring, and actually is often filled with laughter and that’s the truth.

The future is now—if we can just survive it… 

Today’s post is a writing challenge. Participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post—all words to be used at least once. All the posts are unique as each writer has received their own set of words. And here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words: the future is now ~ hands ~ laughter ~ money ~ pockets ~ love

Were given to me, via Karen, from my friend, Jenniy at Climaxed

Now go and see what words the others got—and how they used them!

Baking In A Tornado

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver


Part-time Working Hockey Mom

What TF Sarah

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Completing the Circle

Still on a ‘licking the bowl’ kick...
The source of all that was delicious.
Mom was in the kitchen.
My favourite thing.
I was in my usual spot. On the cupboard beside her Sunbeam mixer.
That maker of all things delicious.
She added something to the mixture already in the bowl and turned on the beaters.
Mmmmm. Could anything look better?
I leaned closer.
“Mom? Can I have a taste?”
“Honey, it’s just sugar and butter.”
“But it looks so good!”
She stuck the tip of the spatula into the batter and held it up for me.
I leaned in and licked.
It was delicious!
Mom just shook her head, rinsed the spatula and continued adding ingredients.
“Mom? Can I have another taste?”
“In a moment, dear. It’s almost ready.”
I sighed and fidgeted impatiently.
Finally, she added one last ingredient.
I should mention here that vanilla smells much better than it tastes.
Just FYI.
Then she got a spoon and gave me a dollop of batter.
Mmmmm. Even better than the last taste.
“What is it?” I asked as I licked the spoon.
“White cake.”
“I like white cake.”
“I know.” Mom scraped the batter into a cake pan and shoved the pan into the oven.
I looked around.
Usually, by this time, the sound of the mixer had attracted all the youngsters in the vicinity.
And some of the adults as well.
But there was no one.
The world was mine!
“Mom? Can I lick the bowl?”
Licking the bowl.
That ultimate in rewards.
That oft hoped-for and seldom granted treat of treats.
I should point out that it didn’t actually involve ‘licking’ the bowl.
Mostly it consisted of running a spatula around the inner surfaces, catching every minute spec of deliciousness.
Okay and there was some licking involved.
Mom set me on the floor and handed me the bowl and spatula.
I sat where I landed and started in.
Could life possibly offer anything better?
Moving ahead . . .
I was making banana bread this morning.
My fourth granddaughter was seated on the cupboard beside me, mouth sticky from ‘tastes’.
I spooned the batter into pans and put them into the oven.
“Grandma? Can I lick the bowl?”
The circle is complete.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Really Empty

I should probably mention, right up front, that Husby and I are empty-nesters.
For the first time.
It's been quite an adjustment.
First, there were our six little chicks and those years of 'oh-my-word-what-else-could-happen'!
You know what I'm talking about.
Then there were the moving-out-to-go-to-college-serve-missions-and-or-in-the-army years. And the moving-back-in when those cycles passed.
A lot of to-ing and fro-ing.
Then there were the marriages. And the moving-back-in-with-mom-and-dad-while-we-save-for-that-all-important-deposit-on-our-first-home phase.
And now, with each ensconced in their own place, Husby and I are well-and-truly alone.
Fortunately, all but one of our chicks and chicklets are nearby, so there is still quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing.
But for the most part . . .
Today, this being alone really struck home. (So to speak.)
I was in the kitchen. We had some overripe bananas that were just calling out to be made into the yummy, deliciousness that is known as banana bread.
I finished mixing the batter and pulled out the beaters. Then, out of habit, I called out, "Anyone want to lick the bowl?"
That all-important point wherein the lucky contestant is handed the big mixing bowl and a spatula.
And for the first time--ever--no one answered.
No little bodies came swarming eagerly up the stairs.
No one appeared in the kitchen doorway.
There was no fighting. No arguing over 'who-got-it-last-time!'
I stood there, spatula half-raised, and stared at my empty kitchen.
And realized that empty-nesting is not all it's cracked up to be.

P.S. Okay, yes, I got to lick the bowl, also for the first time--ever--but it was only slight compensation.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Activities Suspicious

Throughout time, lazy, but creative people have been bilking their fellow man out of their hard-earned coins.
With each new ‘modern’ invention came new and creative ways to deceive.
Then came the phone, and an ever-increasing series of scams.
And these deceptions  must be working, because the scammers are still calling.
Case in point...

It was becoming quite familiar.

The ringing phone.

The incomprehensible number, which had a second number under it corresponding to someplace local.

Husby reached for it. “Ugh,” he said.

Tax season seems to encourage these types of calls.

Much like spring inviting flowers.

Although I have to admit, I much prefer flowers to 'scammy' phone calls.

Just sayin’…

Husby pressed the button. “Hello?” he said tentatively.

“This is Service Canada.” A robotic voice.

Husby rolled his eyes. You have to know that, had it really been an official call, he would have been accommodating and polite.

Or at least polite.

“Your social insurance number has been canceled due to suspicious activity…”

Husby pressed the ‘end’ button and dropped the phone to the table.

I looked up from my breakfast. “How many is that this morning?”

“Three,” he said wearily. “They started early.”

I went back to my porridge.

But the whole thing makes me think. I mean, just what has my social insurance number been up to that is so suspicious. Did it steal a car? Rob a bank? Can’t you just picture my tidy little number running down the street packing heat? Obviously, it's good at what it does because it has only raised suspicions. I know! Train robbery!

We should make a movie…

Monday, May 9, 2022

Music for Me

I love music, yessiree,

I’ve always something playing,

The songs that make me sing along,

Or softer ones for praying.


Whatever mood I’m seeking, well,

There’s music made to order,

From instrumentals soft and sweet,

To bagpipe and recorder.


Feeling chip and cheerful, well, 

There’s music for that too,

And songs lamenting broken hearts,

And some just for the blues.


There’s some I like to play real loud,

Like CCR (the best),

While others lull me off to dreamland,

Help me take a rest.


But just today, I realized

That music (you’ll agree!)

Designed with all my moods in mind…?

Must be written just for me!


P.S. I’m happy to share. You’re welcome!

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, tell us you’ll join in,
Wear Purple for Peace—let’s all begin!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks (with a huge thank-you to Mimi, who comes up with so many of them!)...

Music (May 9) Today!

Purple for Peace (May 16)

Turtles (May 23)

Memorial Day (May 30)

Yo-yo (June 6)

Roller Coaster (June 13)

World Refugee Day (June 20)

The Happy Birthday song (June 27)

Friday, May 6, 2022


From the “It could have happened” Department...

“It was scandalous, I tell you! Scandalous!” 
The weekly afternoon tea of the local Ladies’ Aid Society was hitting on all cylinders.
Mrs. Petrie had the floor. Currently, she was making her point by jabbing a tiny, half-eaten petit-four in Mrs. Hall’s direction.
Mrs. Hall nodded solemnly, her own cake untouched as she carefully sipped a fresh cup of hot tea.
I watched as Mrs. Petrie took another nibble of the rich frosting, heavy jowls quivering in delight.
“Do you know what happened?” Timid little Mrs. Barry’s soft voice took advantage of the momentary break. 
Mrs. Petrie puffed up importantly and launched in again, crumbs of cake flying. “Oh, my dear, I know everything!” she said. She reached for a second petit-four, then a third, and set them carefully on her plate.
I glanced at the laden tray in the center of the table and sighed, praying silently that I’d made enough. 
Mrs. Petrie’s stories do tend to go on . . .
“Well . . .” Mrs. Petrie looked around the table, making sure she had collected everyone’s attention. Her voice lowered. “They found her at the entrance to the park!” she said. “Drugged, they said!”
“No!” someone gasped.
“Yes!” Mrs. Petrie’s voice slid up a notch. She stuffed her second cake into her mouth and chewed quickly. “She was wobbling about, hardly able to walk!” She swallowed and reached for more cake. “Her brains are absolutely fried!” She shook her head woefully and pushed in another bite. “They say she’ll never be the same!”
“But that’s awful!” Mrs. Barry said, shocked.
“Oh, my dear, you don’t know the half!” Mrs. Petrie said, her voice lowered again. “They’re saying it was the clerk she’s been seen with! He did it to her!”
Mrs. Harris looked quite shaken. “Do you mean to tell us that that boy gave her . . . drugs?” 
Mrs. Petrie nodded, her face grave.
“Oh, but that’s terrible!” Mrs. Butterfield dabbed at an imaginary tear. “What on earth will Margery do?”
“Well I know what I’d do if it was my daughter!” Mrs. Petrie said stoutly. “I’d put her on bread and water for a week!” She stuffed in another cake.
“But her brain!” Mrs. Butterfield said.
“I know!” Mrs. Petrie said. “She’s been absolutely ruined!”
Seven heads shook in sympathy.
I sighed and reached for a cake. The tray was getting perilously empty.
Just then, the door opened.
Seven heads swung around. Seven pairs of eyes speared the newcomer.
“I’m sorry I’m late!” Mrs. Beaker said, breathlessly. “I had to . . .”
She got no further. 
“Marjorie!” Three of the ladies had risen to their feet. “We just heard!”
Mrs. Beaker paused in the act of removing her coat, frowning. “Heard what?”
“About your daughter!”
“Oh, that!” Mrs. Beaker laughed. “What a mix-up!”
Several people glanced quickly at Mrs. Petrie, who calmly claimed the last cake and started eating.
“Umm . . . what happened?” Mrs. Barry asked.
“Well, that boy Abby’s been seeing took her for a walk in the park,” Mrs. Beaker said. “Apparently, he’d been planning on surprising her with a proposal.” She smiled.
“What was he proposing?” Mrs. Hall asked suspiciously.
“Marriage!” Mrs. Beaker said.
“What?” Someone drew the question in with a shocked breath.
All eyes turned to the now-silent Mrs. Petrie, who continued to chew solemnly.
“But it was sort of a disaster,” Mrs. Beaker said, seating herself at the table. She glanced briefly at the empty tray, then nodded her thanks as someone filled a cup for her.
I slid my untasted cake in front of her and she nodded again.
“Really?” someone said. Everyone leaned closer. “Do tell!”
“Well, he had hidden the ring somewhere in the park, but, as they were walking, it began to rain.” She took a sip of tea. “Oh, lovely!” she said, smiling at me.
I smiled back.
“Then what happened?” Mrs. Butterfield asked impatiently.
 Mrs. Beaker frowned. “Well, as far as I got the story straight, he had to run to the spot where he’d hidden the ring because he was afraid that the rain would wash it away and Abby ran after him and broke the heel off her shoe!” She laughed. “I guess she went down in a heap! By the time he had rescued his ring and his future fiancĂ©e, both of them were a little worse for the wear!”
The ladies at the table were silent.
“They staggered out of the park, their arms around each other . . .” Mrs. Beaker laughed again. “I guess it was quite a sight!”
“So . . . no drugs?” Mrs. Hall asked.
Mrs. Beaker frowned. “No. Well, Abby took a couple of painkillers after they had collapsed onto the bench outside the park,” she said. “She had given her ankle quite a turn.” She looked at me. “This cake is divine!”
“Thank you,” I murmured.
“And now, Abby is engaged!”
There were several rather forced expressions of congratulation and, for a few seconds, the other ladies silently sipped and nibbled, casting the occasional accusing glance in Mrs. Petrie’s direction.
Suddenly, the visibly un-repentant woman sucked in a breath. “Oh, girls!” she said. “Did I tell you about Old Man Gunnar?”
All eyes turned toward her.
“Apparently, someone is trying to murder him!”
“Do tell!” someone said.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Getting ‘Grave’ About Gravel

Drive with caution.
We country kids learned how to drive on gravel roads.
Now, I should point out here that travel on gravel roads can be tricky—even treacherous.
Especially when the gravel is deep and loose and hasn’t been graded (scraped into an even surface) in a while.
Usually, on our sparsely-gravelled roads, this wasn’t a problem.
Occasionally, it was . . .
At those times, if one stepped on the gas pedal a bit too eagerly, the back-end of the vehicle could begin to fish-tail (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like) and one could easily lose control.
Particularly if one was not very experienced.
Usually at times like this, the ditch is the inevitable final destination.
Best-case scenario: the vehicle simply leaves the road and travels, more-or-less in a straight line, into the ditch.
Worst-case scenario: Lives are at risk as the vehicle flips over. Often multiple times.
Most gravel-road stories landed (pun intended) somewhere between these two developments. 
I had heard of some of the worst of the worst.
Had actually witnessed a roll-over when a bunch of us kids were on our way home from a day out at Writing-On-Stone Park. (Fortunately no one was seriously injured.)
And I had been intimately involved in one of the best.
FYI, there’s nothing ‘best’ about it . . .
It was late.
My friend, Debbie and I were on our way home from an activity, closely followed by two friends in a pick-up truck.
Male friends.
Cute male friends.
I was driving.
And distracted.
We were travelling at speeds a little beyond what I normally drove.
Because I was showing off. (See above - ie. distracted.)
My little red car started to fish-tail.
Instantly, I was remembering the one and only roll-over I had witnessed just a few months previously.
I decided the only way to avoid that particular scenario was to head straight for the ditch.
Which I did.
Straight in. Keeping all four wheels on the ground.
And straight into an approach.
We stopped, dead.
Our friends pulled up in a cloud of dust and dove out of their truck.
“Are you all right?” one of them shouted.
My friend, Debbie got out. “We’re fine,” she said, sounding a bit shook up and more than a little disgusted.
It was my first and, to date, only accident.
All I could think of was how angry my parents would be.
I burst into really unattractive tears.
And sobbed like a two-year-old.
For about ten minutes.
After making sure I really was all right, our two intrepid and very attractive young men climbed back into their truck.
And sat there in uncomfortable silence.
The car was fine.
A couple of dents.
My friend, Debbie and I were fine.
A couple of bruises.
The biggest injury of the evening was to my attract-ability.
These were farm boys.
Used to farm girls.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, farm girls cry.
But let’s face it, a stoic tear sliding attractively down a smooth, unblemished cheek is a far cry from someone sobbing their heart out with swollen eyes, dripping nose and blotchy face.
And without even being injured.
Yep. Any possible connection with either of those boys was instantly severed.
So . . . my point?
If you are driving on gravel roads, be cautious.
Your vehicle and/or your hide might not be the only things injured . . .

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