Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, July 15, 2022

Chickening Out

 Of course you know ‘something’ was bound to happen.

I’m blaming Sally.



Sally has been filming near us.

And by near us, I mean in the countryside about an hour from good old home base.

Mort goes with her every day because as her husband, he gets special privileges now.

Go figure.

Mom and Unc…Dad decided they were going off to have a ‘romantic’ picnic-for-two in a park.

So Peter and I went with Sally and Mort.

You know, FOMO.

It was kind of fun, watching the filming, even though it was sweltering out.

It’s a nice little story about a city girl who gets sent to her uncle’s farm to ‘clean up her act’.

Of course, Sally is the city girl.

But between you and me, that act is never going to get cleaned up.


The filming wrapped for the day.

And that’s when things came unraveled...

The filming was happening on a large farm.


Big old barn.

Chicken coops.

Pig pens.


And lots and lots of cows.

Red and white cows.

Okay, yes, I called them ‘brown’ and white.

The rancher, Mr. Banks, immediately corrected me.


Back to my story…

Apparently, the head cameraman wanted some particular shot and the camera he needed had to be fixed or adjusted or something.

Plus, they had to order some kind of different rug.

Anyway, we found ourselves with extra time.

Someone had turned on a radio somewhere and Sally’s favourite song was playing.

She was dancing to the music. And that’s when she proposed her grand idea.

I know. I know. Sally…and ‘grand’ are just a recipe for trouble.

Anyways, apparently earlier, she had seen the farmer’s kids swinging from a rope out of the opening in the hay loft and into a huge pile of straw down below.

Sally though it would be great fun.

I looked at the height of the hay loft. And the depth of the straw and, probably for the first time—ever—agreed with my sister.

First Sally went.

“Heeeyaaaah!” Straight down and into the straw.

She landed and looked up at the rest of us. “That was the most fun ever!”

She quickly scrambled to one side as Mort went next. “Look out belooooow!”

He, too bounced to a stop and grinned. “Rad!”

The rope swung (Swang? Swong? Swinged?) back to me. But I quickly handed it off to Peter.

He winked at me and immediately made Tarzan look like a beginner.

And yes, I am prejudiced.

Then there was me. With the other three looking up encouragingly.

What can I say.

I’m a lemming.

Now I should probably mention that the pile of straw we were swinging down into was immediately adjacent to one of the chicken coops.

A small one. With grey, weathered boards for a roof.

I think it was used as a brooder house in the early spring.

Now, it sat empty.

This is important.

Also, you should know that I weigh about 100 pounds.

Soaking wet.

And carrying an anvil.

I grabbed the rope. Let out my grandest “Hallooo!”

And jumped.

The rope caught up the slack and I found myself swinging down and down and down, then over and over and over.

Then past and past and past.

“LET GO OF THE ROPE, GWEN!!!” Peter shouted. “LET GO!”

But I couldn’t. I actually couldn’t. My fingers were frozen to the line.

Finally, as I reached the far apex of my swing, the rope slid through my hands and, spread-eagled, I sailed through the air.

And that’s when the nearness of the chicken coop comes into play.

I went through the roof, landing on my back in the straw inside.

Now there were a couple of things that made this straw different than the pile I was supposed to hit.

That straw was clean.

And free of chicken dust.



There was an immediate rain of old, weathered boards.

I curled up into a ball and let them fall about me.

Then, choking and gasping for breath in the dusty air, slowly started to climb to my feet.

Peter was suddenly there. He wrapped his arms around me and plucked my out of the pile of rubble. Then set me gently on a strawless patch of ground nearby. “Are you all right?”

I looked into his worried eyes and managed a smile as I took stock of my parts. “Yeah. All present and accounted for.” I sneezed. “I could use a shower, though.” I looked up at the new skylight feature in Mr. Banks’ chicken coop. “Oops.”

Sally and Mort appeared in the doorway. “Man, Sis, we can’t take you anywhere!” Sally said.

I think I managed a glare. Probably not a very effective one, owing to grime and dusty air and…the fact that Sally was more interested in the hole in the roof than she was in me.


My legs were a bit wobbly, so Peter supported me as we made our way outside.

Mr. Banks was there.

“I’ll pay for the damage,” Sally said immediately.

He nodded. “Been meaning to replace this coop. I guess now’s the time.”

He went inside.

Sally looked at the rest of us.

“Wanna go again?” 

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: sweltering ~ farm ~ song ~ park ~ rug

Were given to me by my good friend Karen at Baking in a Tornado!

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, July 14, 2022

Not Quite Nude

The cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.
 And I do mean Cover!
In honour of National Nude Day—an experience...
I had a swimsuit.
I made it.
Long. Old-fashioned. Neck to knees type.
Yes, popular at the turn of the century.
The Twentieth century.
I loved it. It covered me.
It encased anything that might otherwise unexpectedly fall out.
And saved me the aggravation of having to shave my nether regions.
I hated shaving my nethers.
Moving on . . .
Swimming was the only exercise I could do that didn't hurt something.
I swam a lot.
This necessitated my going to the pool.
Usually, I swam in the morning with the other octogenarians.
I fit right in. And no one could see well enough to notice that my swimsuit was different from those found at the local Zellers.
All was well.
But I missed my morning swim one day.
And was forced to go at a later time.
With the younger set.
Who could see.
I strode confidently from the dressing room towards the pool.
And that's when the trouble started.
A group of kids, probably in the 10 to 12 age range was sitting on a large, foam raft not too far from the entrance/exit to the change room.
I entered.
One young girl pointed. And laughed.
I suddenly felt as though I was in junior high again.
It wasn't a pleasant feeling.
But that's not important.
What is important, was how this young girl was . . . dressed.
Her slender little pre-pubescent body was covered, barely (and I use this term deliberately) by two almost non-existent triangles of cloth on her upper half and only slightly larger triangles on her lower half.
She was as close to naked as one can get and still legally appear in public.
And she seemed completely heedless, sitting there amongst other boys and girls her own age, laughing at someone who was dressed in a far more modest, albeit fairly 'unique' swimsuit.
I remember when near-nudity was a source of embarrassment. When one's worst dreams were of appearing somewhere public . . . in a less than exemplary fashion.
Okay, I have to admit that, that day, one of us was embarrassed.
Me. For her.
My point is this: When has modestly become an opportunity to jeer?
When did society do a complete turn-around? When did the naked start laughing at the clothed? (Not that I'm promoting the idea of the clothed laughing at the naked . . .) But when?
I have to admit that I believe in modesty.
It promotes confidence and self-worth. It promotes respectful behavior, both to oneself and to others.
I still wear a similar bathing suit, and will continue to do so.
I'm comfortable.

And isn't that the point? 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Dating in the Sunset


Just the two of us.
My Husby believes in date night.
A least once a week.
He and me.
In our earlier, more penurious days we got creative.
In nice weather, long walks.
Around town. Along the river bottom.
Sometimes, we'd wander through the mall, just looking.
Occasionally buying a hot chocolate or ice cream cone to share.
Going grocery shopping.
Having an evening picnic.
Wonderful times.
As we near retirement, dating consists of movies, dinners, theatre and concerts.
Still fun.
As long as we're together.
A couple of evenings ago, Husby's truck broke down.
He pulled into the nearest parking lot, called first for a tow-truck, and then me to come and bring him home.
I arrived long before said tow-truck.
Looooong before.
Together, we waited.
Nearby were several formal restaurants.
And an A&W.
Not wanting to leave the truck until help deigned to arrive, Husby suggested that one of us run across the street to the fast food outlet and grab a couple of burgers.
I volunteered.
Between you and I, I'd rather do that then instruct a tow-truck driver if and when he decided to show up.
Ahem . . .
I returned.
We ate.
Have I mentioned that the world looks better on a full tummy?
Well, it does.
We talked and laughed.
Sitting on the tailgate of the truck in the warm sun.
And the cool summer breeze.
Oh, we both had places we needed to be.
Things that needed doing.
But, for that moment, all that was important were a couple of burgers.
The tailgate of our truck.
The warm summer evening.
And the two of us.
Re-discovering the perfect date.
In our sunset years.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Exercising Grannie's Fannies

War chest.

I’ve always been into fitness.
Active ranch life.
Sports in school and community.
High impact aerobics as a young mom.
Running--which I discovered I loved more than anything.
Yep. Running and me, we were friends. I was going to be one of those octogenarians you see out at the crack of dawn hoofing it around the town.
But then my knees got involved. In the worst way. They gave out.
So I slowed my pace to a walk.
Then my hips followed my knees.
I cycled for a time, but that didn’t make my hips any happier.
Finally, on the 5th of April, 2022, I discovered Aqua Fit.
I have a new fitness love. Seriously. Nothing hurts!
But you have to know that, although it looks like we members of the Grannie’s Fannies (my eldest son’s label for our class) are merely thrashing around. To music. We are actually putting in a lot of effort.
A lot.
Well, according to my watch. (I purchased said watch—an underwater beauty—precisely so I could track my calories.)
So, long story…erm…long, I’ve found my new fitness regimen and I couldn’t be happier.
Of course, I have a few points for discussion…
One of our torturers instructors keeps telling us to engage our core.
And, just between us, my core and I have been more-than-engaged for a number of years. It probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that—about 20 minutes into the workout—me and my core are considering a trial separation. Possibly even divorce. For irreconcilable differences.
Also, the masochist on the deck guide keeps shouting at us to breathe.
Seriously? There are people in the pool who are not gasping loudly and desperately for breath?
Sometimes she instructs us to do a certain move—without actually…you know…moving.
Now I’ve noticed something. When she tells us not to move, that’s precisely when I’m going to.
Oh, I don’t mean to.
It just happens.
Then when we are supposed to move, I don’t. Or even worse, perversely hit reverse.
Call me a contrary.
And sometimes, I just have too many parts.
I’m sorry, but keeping track of all of them? And making them all do something different?
It’s not happening.
And, let’s just say it now: if you’re going to put a floatie device in each of my hands, they’d better be working together. Cause if I have to try and wave just one of them around, there’s going to be serious up-ended-ness.
End of rant…
But I flail with purpose.
That uber-fantastic watch I told you about earlier?
According to it, I average between 300 and 500 calories per workout.
So I’m happy.

Monday, July 11, 2022


A couple of poems I've gotten done...
One is thoughtful.
One for fun!

Finding What You Seek

“Look for the light,” he said to me.
“When all’s a blank and lonely sea,
And life becomes a mystery,
You'll find there's possibility,
Cause those things you seek, you'll see!”
I shine life's flashlight from the lee,
The darkness flies, the shadows flee.
And in its single beam, I see
Trembling there in lonely glee,
A host of possibles for me!
So he was right in his decree,
Cause I was I see!

                      *  *  *

Never Lonely

I live with people--quite a few,

We all do things that people do,

At times there’s no one in my croft,

(And know this doesn't happen oft),

But for a moment, I despair,

As loneliness breaks o’er me there,

But then I see the brimming bin,

And dirty clothes enclosed within,

And I realize that I,

Will not be lonely by and by,

I needn’t have a ‘lonely spree’,

With endless wash for company!

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, for super, summer fun,
We'll talk of ice cream, everyone!

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!)...

Loneliness (July 11) Today!

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)

Real Estates: All Murders Included in the Price!

Real Estates: All Murders Included in the Price!
My FIRST murder mystery!

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Blessed by a Curse
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God's Tree

God's Tree
For the Children

Third in the series

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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 and .ca!

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A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.


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Join me on Maven

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Available from

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

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