Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, June 17, 2022

A Little Topsy-Turvy

Husby and I were on the vacation of a lifetime in the Caribbean.

Now before you start feeling too envious, let me point out the down side.
Umm . . . . 
Okay, you can feel envious.
While on the Island of St. Lucia, we were able to join some other intrepid explorers and . . . erm . . . explore.
On horseback.
And yes. It was amazing.
But what stuck most in my mind happened afterward.
We handed our steeds (yes, we rode steeds) over to our guide and his assistant, then went with another guide on a ramble over the part of the plantation we had missed with our four-footed friends.
We marched along pathways worn smooth in the days of slavery. Watched a donkey turn the mechanism that, as in days past, crushed the sugar sap out of cane.
And generally ooh-ed and ah-ed a lot.
A lot.
Then we were abandoned at the cluster of shopping huts near the plantation entrance to eat and drink and unload bags of money.
Okay, you probably know that we saved a long time for this trip and that we really don't have bags of money. But we were happy to browse. And peruse.
And then I saw it . . .
Now just to keep you in suspense a little longer, I am going to give you a bit of background . . .
My Aunt Mary Stringam had a doll collection.
Behind glass.
In her family room.
I was not allowed to touch said dolls.
Ever.
Sigh.
There was one that I found particularly interesting.
It was a topsy-turvy doll. I'm sure you're wondering what that can possibly be. It's a doll with two very different heads. One at each end. With a long dress that covers the one or the other and essentially gives you two dolls!
Genius, right?
Well, I thought so.
I don't remember what Aunt Mary's two-sided doll had for each of its heads (there are some with Goldilocks at one end and the wolf at the other.) I just remember how very much I wanted to play with it.
Enough background.
That thing I saw in the little shop on St. Lucia? A topsy-turvy Caribbean doll. And, just like that, the memories of that ever-wanted and ever-out-of-touch doll came back to me.
And I instantly knew what I was going to get each of my granddaughters as a gift from my holiday.
With one for me. That I can take out whenever I want!
One last note:
When you ask a shopkeeper for 14 of any one item, especially hand-made dolls, they are quite willing to give you a break on the price. Just FYI.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Uplifted

It's officially summertime in Edmonton. 

Today we were driving past one of the many ski hills that abound in the area.
The snow is finally gone. The slopes green-grassed and empty.
Only the lifts, looking forlorn and forgotten, are there to remind one of the usual bustle on those slopes.
Lifts.
It reminded me of something . . .
Years ago, our family used to ski Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana.
Every winter.
It was the highlight of our year.
Well, mine, anyway.
Dad forked over a whopping $3.00 ($4.00 CAN) per ticket for us to ride all the lifts all day.
Watched as we attached said ticket to our ski jackets.
Then waved us off cheerily.
I don't know what he and Mom did all day while we kids were having the time of our lives.
But as long as he showed up at the end of the day and immediately took us to be fed, we were happy.
But back to the ski slope . . .
At that time, Big Mountain had four main slopes.
There was the bunny hill. Which we learned on. Then immediately spurned.
Two intermediate slopes.
Where I and my siblings spent the most time.
And, finally, the advanced slope. Which, for me, merely served as the entrance to the back trails. 
Oh, I skied it.
Once.
And ended up taking off my skis and walking down.
Don't ask.
Moving on . . .
The first thing we learned about skiing was the fact that you had to get to the top of the hill before you could come down.
Skiing 101.
And that required the use of the tows/lifts.
Sure. It looks fun here . . .
The bunny slope had a rope tow.
A very sneaky rope tow.
Consisting of a rope running continuously.
I assume it was pulled by some sort of . . . puller.
The rope had to be approached cautiously.
One would place one's mittened hands on said rope.
Then slowly tighten those hands around the heavy, quickly-moving hemp until finally, one's grip was tight enough to actually start one sliding up the hill.
It wasn't as easy as it sounds.
If one gripped too hard, the rope would jerk one off one's feet.
Which, I must admit was hilarious.
Unless it was you.
And, even funnier was the sight of a pulled-off/escaped mitten riding up the rope.
All by itself.
Do not attempt this without supervision.
Ouch.
The tow on one of the intermediate hills was a little more . . . touchy.
It was the 'poma' lift.
Pomas consisted of a long pole attached to the high tow wire by a spring.
With a little disc welded onto the bottom.
Which disc, when inserted between the skiers legs, would, theoretically pull one up the hill.
It took practice.
A lot of practice.
There were the inevitable mishaps and false starts.
People who lost their grip on the poma and watched it spring up into the air.
While the hapless skier slid to a halt down below.
Or, better yet, the people who lost their balance and were dragged several feet before they realized that any hope of completing their ride to the top was gone and that their best tactic at that point was to . . . let go.
The poma lift always attracted a non-skiing group of observers whose sole purpose was to watch.
And laugh.
Jerks.
I should mention, too, that getting off was . . . tricky.
Enough said.
Effective. And cozy.
The other intermediate slope tow was a 'T' bar.
A bar in the shape of a T.
That pulled two riders up the slope.
Or one rider if the other one fell over.
Which happened a lot.
If you were a bit more of a skiing expert, you got to ride the chair lift. The most fun of all. And the easiest to ride.
How often does that happen?
The problem was that it took one to the very highest slope.
And the steepest (see above).
My siblings and I became experts on each of these lifts.
The Ultimate.
Oh, not all at once.
It took time.
And we had our learning curve.
Which was infinitely more 'curve' than 'learning'.
But still, we had fun.
And were finally able to stop providing entertainment for the jerks.
HA!
Masters of the ski lifts.
Life just didn't get any better.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Socked

 


You…and I…see a pile of socks…

I should probably mention that I am a bit of a ‘neat freak’ and have a penchant for all things ‘laundry’.

Oh, and Husby hates wearing socks.

On to my story…

Yesterday, I was collecting for the weekly ‘sock fund’, wherein all socks that have been worn, may have been worn, or simply find themselves unfortunately out of place are donated to the hamper.

Ready to be returned in (to quote ‘Q’ from James Bond) pristine order.

It’s a simple and satisfying operation.

I collect and launder and fold and return.

Husby wears.

What could possibly go wrong?

Stay with me…

I came to a pile of socks in the corner of the bedroom.

Now, you have to know that we’ve been here before. Husby is as protective of his sock stash as a middle-aged dragon would be of his gold and gems. Thus, my hesitation over simply grabbing the whole bunch and leaving.

Me: Which of these socks need to go to the laundry?

Him: None.

Me: But you can’t have this many pairs going at once…

Him: Yes, I can.

Me….

Him…

ME: But…

Him: Look. (holding up one pair) These are sturdy for working outside. (Drops it and picks up another) These are still sturdy, but less so, for working inside. (Moves to a third) These are long and fuzzy for warm tootsies when we are downstairs watching TV. (Fourth) These are a little more dressy for Sundays. (Fifth) And these are short for wearing with my sandals. I haven't worn any of them often enough to warrant washing.

Me: Are you sure you’re wearing the right socks now?

Him… (But with a look that should have burned a hole in said socks.)

Me: (Sighing as I turn away) Wearing socks with sandals is for nerds. And you have pairs especially saved for just that. That must make you a special kind of nerd.

Him…

Me: Yeah, I'm out. Nerd.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Bill of the Pecos

There are an unending number of variations on this story.
All in differing degrees of incorrect.
This one’s…probably much the same.
Ahem… 

Pecos Bill started out life much like any other baby boy in the 1830s/40s. Parents. Birth. Packing up. Joining a wagon train. 

Unbeknownst to his parents, Billy exited the family wagon along the Oregon Trail somewhere between Kansas and Idaho. Near a coyote family. 

Who saw the baby, not as food (as would have happened in any other story), but as a welcome and beloved addition. 

In no time, Bill was playing with his coyote brothers and sisters and, as those baby legs lengthened, hunting with the pack. 

We aren’t exactly sure where or when he met up with men and/or civilization, but we are fairly certain he must have. 

Because, based solely on observation, he adapted local flora and fauna as a substitute for such things as: lassos. A whip. Friends. 

His horse was a maniacal thing known as The Widow-maker. With a notch on its bridle for numerous hapless victims across Texas. 

Bill was known for many and varied feats of strength and skill. Using only home grown and cleverly adapted implements, no less. 

When the area of Texas he called home was plagued by drought, Bill handily roped/pulled a giant cloud in. From California. 

On a dare, he roped (you have to know said ‘rope’ was actually a ‘snake’.) a tornado. With spectacular results. 

Using his wits and a sharpened stick, he carved the Rio Grande. Mind you, I’ve seen that river. ‘Grand’ in name only. 

At some point, he laid his eyes on Sue. Or Slew-Foot Sue as she came to be known. I know. I know. 

‘Slew’ because she lived near one? Or because her feet stank? The origin of that image-inducing moniker has (rather fortunately) been lost. 

And this is where our story starts… Soooo…Bill and Sue met. Bill was smitten. We’re not sure about Sue. We’re assuming. 

In an effort to impress Sue, Bill demonstrated his not-unremarkable skills with a revolver. By shooting out all the stars. Except one. 

Which became known as the Lone Star of Texas. What better way to say ‘I love you forever’ than destroying something romantic? 

Okay, it wouldn’t impress me one iota. Sue? Finally, she was smitten. I guess it’s true that there’s literally someone for everyone… 

A wedding date was set. And Sue had two requests: To ride to the service on Widow-Maker. And to wear a bustle. 

Bill, ever ready to please, agreed to both. Handing her his charge card--or something similar--he told her she had ‘carte blanche’.

The day of the wedding dawned clear. If the weather had been ‘iffy’, Bill simply would have looped something and changed it. 

Sue, elegantly dressed in the aforementioned bustle, climbed aboard Widow-Maker. I imagine the first few paces went…well. Sadly, the following steps…didn’t. 

Widow-maker, true to his name, began to get…twitchy. And anxious to rid himself of his burden in his ‘horsey’ way. Bucking was indicated. 

Something Sue was well-equipped to handle. Except that Sue was wearing that wretched—what idiot thought these were attractive? —bustle. (see above) 

The bustle started to bounce. Higher. Higher. Maintaining her seat became difficult. Then more difficult. Then almost impossible. Then completely impossible. 

Finally, Sue lost her not inconsiderable grip. Like a scene out of a B movie, she was launched high into the air. 

Coming back to earth proved painfully problematic. Widow-Maker having abandoned her, she hit the ground with great force. And absolute zero protection. 

Then bounced back up with all the force of a tightly-strung woman’s undergarment. You have to admit—a great potential for power. 

Each time she hit the ground, she bounced back up with increased force. It wasn’t long before her trajectory was looking…moon-like. 

Fortunately, her beau knew something about stopping an object on the move. Stepping calmly to the fore, he swung his lariat (snake). 

On her next bounce, he deftly snagged his beloved and quickly and neatly put a stop to Slew-Foot Sue’s wild ride. 

In no time, she was cuddled safely in her husband-to-be’s arms. The marriage followed quickly. As did Widow-Maker’s stern and forceful lecture. 

Bill and his precious Sue then proceeded to live happily ever after—raising a whole passel of daring young men and women.

Okay, okay, I know you’ve heard other variations of this story. All told with verve and candor. Admit it. Mine is better. 

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: 22
It was chosen by: Karen!
Links to the other Word Counters posts:
BakingIn ATornado
Messymimi’sMeanderings   

Monday, June 13, 2022

Coaster Rolled


Ol’ Ben went to the hospital to visit with his friend,

Poor Silas lay there, hurting bad, and bandaged end to end,

Well Ben, he asked him seriously just what on earth he’d done,

To end up wrapped in bandages from toes to ears to tongue,

Well Silas sighed—you know—a shamed, regretful puff of air,

Then looked at Ben, his oldest friend, now seated by him there,

“The grandkids thought a ‘theme park’ day’d be grand as grand could be,

“Then talked and talked till they convinced their mom and dad…and me,

“The drive was great, they sang and laughed, and so, of course, did I,

“Pulled up into the car park. (Perfect day with bright blue sky.)

“Straight to the roller coaster like someone shot them from a hose,

“Hustling ‘Gramps’ between them by clutching his elbows,

“The first round wasn’t bad, but at the top I saw a sign,

“We went too fast for me to see—the writing was too fine,

“I paid to go around again, I wanted so to read,

“Why on earth would someone put a sign too high to heed?

“I got a word or two that time, but still my wonder grew,

“A third time, sure, would tell me all and then I would be through.

“That last time round, I stood up tall, determined I would see…”

Then Silas just stopped talking. Ben jumped up, “My friend, tell me!

“What it was that happened? Did you read that wretched sign?”

“Figure out just what was written in those silly lines?”

Poor Silas, he looked back at Ben, “T’was payment for my crimes…”

He sighed again, “For safety, PLEASE STAY SEATED AT ALL TIMES!”

Photo Credit: Karen of bakinginatornado.com
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, something sad for me...
All the World's refugees.

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!)...

Roller Coaster (June 13) Today!

World Refugee Day (June 20)

The Happy Birthday song (June 27)

Independence Day (US) or Sidewalk egg-frying day (July 4)

Loneliness (July 11)

Ice Cream (July 18)

Old Jokes (July 25)

Girlfriends (August 1) 
Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night (August 8)
Lemon Meringue Pie Day (August 15)

Be an Angel Day (August 22)
Bats -or-  More Herbs, Less Salt (August 29) 

Blessed by a Curse

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My very first Medieval Romance!

God's Tree

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For the Children

Third in the series

Third in the series
Deborah. Fugitive of Faith

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael
A House Divided is now available at all fine bookstores and on Amazon.com and .ca!

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My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

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New Tween Novel!

Gnome for Christmas

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The newest in my Christmas Series

SnowMan

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A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.

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My novel, Carving Angels

My novel, Carving Angels
Read it! You know you want to!

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic

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What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

Join me on Maven

Connect with me on Maven

Essence

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Essence: A Second Dose

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Captured and imprisoned, a scientist and his son use their amazing discovery to foil evil plans.

Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from Smashwords.com

The Babysitter

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A baby-kidnapping ring has its eye on J'Aime and her tiny niece.

Melissa

Melissa
Haunted by her past, Melissa must carve a future. Without Cain.

Devon

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Following tragedy, Devon retreats to the solitude of the prairie. Until a girl is dropped in his lap.

Pearl, Why You Little...

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The Marketing Mentress

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Building solid relationships with podcast and LinkedIn marketing

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My Big Brother's Stories

Better Blogger Network

Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

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The Liebster Award
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Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

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My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

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