Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, April 22, 2022

Gentility Lost

A rant.

My Husby and I like to swim.
It keeps us healthy and young.
Or at least healthy.
After a bit of rigorous paddling, we like to sit in the hot tub and visit.
Our local pool facility inevitably has music playing.
Yesterday, shortly after we got in, a catchy tune started.
I started to listen.
The chorus came on.
The background music quit, just as the last line was sung.
A last line that consisted of the words, “What the ****!”
The words were painfully clear.
I looked around at the small children playing near us.
Children to whom the words were just as clear.
“Did you hear that?” I asked my Husby.
He didn't.
The chorus came on a second time.
“What the ****!”
“I can't believe what I'm hearing!” I crawled out of the pool and marched, dripping wet, into the front office.
The song wasn't as loud here, but still discernible.
“Can you guys hear that song?” I demanded.
The two women at the front counter frowned. “I wasn't listening,” one said.
“It's foul!” I said. “And there are little children out there listening to it!”
“Oh, my! We'll change it!” she said.
And she hurriedly did so.
They hadn't chosen the song. They had merely turned on one of the satellite radio stations, thinking that it would have a modicum of decency.
They were obviously wrong.
The experience reminded me of the time, a few months ago, when my Husby and I were eating breakfast at a local 'family' fast-food restaurant.
A young woman a few tables over was talking loudly on her cell phone to her boyfriend.
Or I'm assuming it was her boyfriend.
Some of the one-sided conversation would suggest it . . .
“You're the worst ****ing boyfriend I've ever had!” she said. “What are you ****ing talking about? I can't believe you would ****ing say that to me! How could you ****ing do that to me? Well **** to you too!”
And so the conversation went.
For nearly twenty minutes.
There were families there.
Trying to eat.
Most hurried their children through their meal and packed up and left.
And still, the girl shouted obscenities into her phone.
It turned my stomach.
Finally, we packed up what was left of our breakfast and escaped.
Finding somewhere better to finish.
Thinking of that girl and that song, I can't help but wonder . . .
Have we lost our gentility?
My Dad taught me when I was growing up, that what came out of a person's mouth was a direct reflection of what was going on in that person's brain. That a person who resorted to obscenities in their conversation simply didn't have the intelligence to converse on a higher plain.
I think of a speech given by a woman named Margaret D. Nadauld:
The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.”
We can easily substitute the word 'people' for the word 'woman'.
Have we been concentrating so hard on being tough and independent that we have lost our ability to talk on an intelligent level?
Is this really how we want to be heard expressing ourselves today?
Is that how we want our music, our movies, our conversations, our lives to sound?
And, for goodness sake, can't we think of another word?!
What are your thoughts?

Thursday, April 21, 2022

First and Sweetest

See? C.U.T.E.
How had I never noticed this before?
And how long had this been going on?
Maybe I should explain . . .
I was at the movies.
Something the kids in my family did at least once a week.
The highlight of said week.
This particular picture was a western.
My favourite.
But something was different this time.
Oh, there were the usual items of interest.
Lots and lots of horses.
And I think there were cattle also.
But for the first time, I noticed that there were also . . . cowboys.
Cute cowboys.
When did they get there?
One cowboy, in particular, caught my attention.
Black-haired and lithe.
Slim and well-muscled.
And oh-so-delicious in jeans and boots.
No wonder people liked westerns so much.
And I had thought they came, like me, to see the horses.
I was glued to the screen every time he appeared.
Which proved to be frequent.
Being as he was the star of the picture.
I was so enraptured that I didn't follow much of the story.
Oh, there were a couple of noteworthy parts.
One, in particular, featured one of the secondary cowboys being captured by bad guys and then creatively tortured with cactus needles within earshot of his buddies.
The next morning, his badly abused body was dropped in the middle of their camp.
I will admit it. It made me sick.
For two days.
But even that horrifying scene couldn't dim the splendour of my new hero as he saved the day.
I watched eagerly for his name to be mentioned in the end credits.
Audie Murphy.
I said the name over and over.
Committing it to memory.
Then I headed home.
“Mom, did you know that there are really cute guys in movies?”
My Mom stared at me. “Umm . . . yes,” she said, rather cautiously.
This was a new topic of conversation for me and I'm sure she was wondering where I was going with it.
“Well, the movie I just saw starred the cutest guy ever!” I said enthusiastically.
“Oh, yes,” I said. “His name was Audie Murphy! Oh, Mom he was soooo cute!”
“Audie Murphy? THE Audie Murphy?”
“Oh.” I frowned. “Have you seen the picture?”
Mom laughed. “No,” she said. “But I used to drool over Audie Murphy when I was your age!”
Now it was my turn to stare. “Really?”
“Oh, I was so in love with him!”
“Huh,” I said and headed for my room.
My mom had been – had been – in love with my hero when she was my age?
He was . . . old?
I never saw my new/old hero again.
I think the movie I had seen was his last.
Newer, younger heroes took his place in my world.
Heroes that my Mom had never dreamed about.
But, oddly enough, at this end of my life, it's Audie Murphy that I think of when someone mentions their screen heartthrobs.
I guess it's true.
First love is always the sweetest.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Climbed Out

Because it’s her birthday, I thought a story about my eldest daughter...appropriate. Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!
Cute. But hard to carry . . .
Our family was on holiday.
A not in-frequent occurrence.
A chance for mischief and mayhem.
And donuts for breakfast.
And which, for us, meant stopping at every point of interest, museum, and huge ball of string we could find.
We were in Yellowstone Park.
The kids were loving it because there was lots of ‘nature’ and not one ball of string anywhere in the vicinity.
We had hiked to the bottom of one of the falls.
A nice steadily-downhill walk of about two kilometers (a little over a mile).
We had enjoyed the sight of the pure, sparkling water pouring down the cliff face.
The clean air.
The rampant forest growth.
And the ‘people watching’ watching.
(Probably the most fun activity of all.)
We were ready to start the hike back.
Now, I should point out here that the worst thing about hiking down into a site is the probability that one will, inevitably have to come up to get back out.
Unless there are people-porters about.
And there never are.
Hmmm . . . 
But back to my story . . .
We had ascended about fifty feet when my eldest daughter turned her ankle.
Awakening an old, rather nasty injury.
She was suddenly hobbling about on one leg.
Not a really convenient – or safe – way to hike up a forest path.
I don’t care how wide and smooth it is.
Everyone else in our group had preceded us by several minutes. And because cell phones only existed on Star Trek, there was no one to turn to in our distress.
There was nothing else to do.
I would have to carry her out.
I should probably mention here that, my seventeen-year-old daughter weighed exactly the same as me at this point in time.
And was several inches taller.
She climbed on my back and we started up.
I could make it about thirty steps before I had to stop to breathe.
And reassure myself I wasn’t in any way...dying.
Oh, we made it. 
Though the walk that had taken us ten minutes to go down took over an hour back up.
Our family spotted us as we came up over the last rise. They closed around us and my Husby took our daughter up the last 100 yards.
Where we both, my daughter and me, collapsed on a convenient bench.
The attendants so conspicuously absent during our climb were instantly swarming around her, offering ice and wraps and comforting, consoling words.
I, on the other hand, received nothing but a blithely given, ‘Thanks, Mom!’
But that’s okay.
She still owes me.
And I have a long memory . . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Jill on the Hill

 Today we honour the number 17. And our wizarding skills in creating paragraphs using only that number:


   Jack and Jill went up the hill

   To fetch a pail of water;

   Jack fell down and


   broke his crown,

   and Jill came tumbling after.

   Up Jack got, and home did trot,

   As fast


   as he could caper,

   To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob

   With vinegar and brown paper.


Okay, first of all, what wise-acre put the silly well at the TOP of a hill?

Wouldn’t the oh-so-diligent diggers just have to dig that much further down to get to water?

And what about the people who have to trundle up and down bearing easily-spilled pails of liquid?

Some things to think about. (Oops. NOT a 17!) Ahem…

Jack and his twin sister, Jill, were tasked with fetching their mother a pail of fresh water.

A simple enough job, surely? All it required was taking the bucket, walking UP to the well…

Lowering the well’s pail into the dark water far, far, far below. (Okay, fine. Maybe I’m exaggerating.)

Then bringing it up again, brimming with clear, cold water and pouring said water into their vessel.

Hanging the well bucket neatly on its hook (because woe betide anyone who fails to do so).

Then, working together, lifting their bucket between them and reversing the whole trip back to the house.

What could possibly go wrong? Apart from the whole ‘cooperation thing’—a nearly impossible task for many siblings.

Followed by the necessity of having to walk DOWNHILL with said brimming bucket. (Can anyone say ‘disaster’?)

Well, as you’d expect, the aforementioned ‘disaster’ did, indeed occur. With both siblings falling and/or tumbling.

Jack got the worst of it, however, breaking his ‘crown’—which I’m assuming is his poor head.

I should point out that said ‘break’ wasn’t serious enough to warrant medical intervention and/or expensive hospitalization.

And that he was able to ‘caper’ quickly in the direction of Old Dame Dob’s soothing hands.

But I also want to call attention to the forgotten-ness of his sweet (I’m assuming) sister, Jill.

Didn’t she tumble also? And (I’m just thinking out loud) have to carry the water by herself?

Admittedly, the bucket probably wasn’t as full as it had been, considering the whole ‘cart-wheeling’ incident.

But still, Jill was left to carry on (I mean this literally) by her own small self.

Kudos to Jill. Well done! May your tribe increase. You’re definitely our kind of folks, sweet girl!

I think a rewrite of the poem is in order—one more reflective of the current situation…


Jill and Jack were coming back

Together with their water,

Cause some dumbbell had dug the well,


Atop the hill (the rotter!)

Both fell down, but Jack, the clown,

Garnished all the men-tion,


Jill, as asked; she did the task,

While Jack scarfed the at-ten-tion.

Today’s post is a writing challenge. Each month one of the participating bloggers pick a number between 12 and 50. All bloggers 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: 17
It was chosen by: Mimi at Messymimi’s Meanderings   
Check out the others to see how they responded to the challenge!   
BakingIn ATornado

Monday, April 18, 2022

The Knife-alyzer

A man who juggles for his dough,

Was driving off to his next show,

A traffic stop soon halted him,

A cop approached, all fit and trim…

“I’m sorry for the wait,” said he.

A lumber wagon lost a tree.”

“Oh, that’s okay,” the juggler said,

“I’ve till tonight to earn my bread.”

The cop leaned on the window then,

Ready for a talk ‘tween men,

Then by mistake or just by chance,

He gave the car’s back seat a glance,

And saw, displayed for all to see,

A dozen knives just laid there; free.

A hand upon his copper’s gun,

“What’s with the knives?” (His good mood done!)

The juggler simply shrugged and said,

“They’re for my act. They keep me fed!”

The cop said, “That you’ll have to prove…

So come out here and show your moves!”

The juggler clambered from his car,

Scooped up the knives (and scimitars),

And struck a stance there with a sigh,

As cars and trucks went streaming by,

Then, to the cop, his talent showed,

As through his hands those weapons flowed.

Meanwhile, on the thoroughfare,

A car went past the two men there,

The driver, told his passenger,

As wide-eyed, he glanced o'er at her,

“I’m glad, my drinking, I’ve deferred,

Sobri’ty tests are now absurd!” 

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's best of all the others,
Our awesome topic will be BROTHERS!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
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Juggling (April 18) Today!

Brothers (April 25)

Babies (May 2)

Music (May 9)

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)

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