Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, November 11, 2022

A Sweet Target

You know, the person who coined the phrase ‘easy like Sunday morning’ obviously never lived in our house.
Sally is home.
I could probably just end there.
It had started out as a normal, sleepy Sunday. Mom and Dad up in their room at the top of the house. Sally and Mort in their apartment in the basement.
And me in my little room down the hall behind the kitchen.
It even stayed that way for an hour or two.
Normal. Sleepy.
Then Dad got…ambitious. He and Mom have been redoing the room next to theirs for their anticipated arrival and he was antsy to get to a hardware store and pick up some paint and other stuff designed to organize their disorganized mess.
Dad loves a hardware store!
Must be something left over from his mine engineer days.
Sally volunteered to drive over and get the stuff, but Dad refused. Something about Sally not knowing what equipment he would need. It’s a ‘guy’ thing.
So he and Mom left.
Sally, Mort and I were sitting on the front lawn. Just watching the neighbours do normal, Sunday things. Mrs. Michaelson was in her garden.
The Baginses had dressed their boys in white shirts and ties and packed them off to church.
Scary Gary and his brother were dragging something across the park.
Sally perked up. She jumped up and started across the yard with Mort right behind her. I followed slowly.
“Hey, Scary Gary!” Sally hollered. “I haven’t seen you in dog’s years! We need to catch up. Need a lift somewhere?”
The brothers stopped and looked at her. “Naw, we don’t need a lift, Sally,” Gary said. “We’re here already.” He indicated the park in general.
“K. What’cha doing?”
“We’re going to put this up on a tree and have some target practice.”
I closed my eyes. Did I want to look?
I did.
Gary and his brother had been towing a target.
It was then I noticed the bows each boy had slung across their bodies. And the little quivers of arrows.
Let me point out the dangers, in case you missed them:
Did you just hear an air-raid siren?
Well, you should have.
“I don’t think this is a good idea,” I said in my strongest voice. Which may well have been a whisper as much as it was heeded. Gahhh! Why did Peter have to choose today to go and help his Grandmother?! “Sally! Seriously! Bows? Arrows? Small boys? You?!!!”
The group, chattering happily, carried—now that Sally and Mort were helping—the target to the line of trees on the far side of the park.
I stood well back and chewed my nails while they set up the target and discussed where to stand for ultimate effect.
Madagascar flashed into my mind. That sounded like somewhere far away enough.
Then Gary stood at the line, pulled his bow off his body, strung it—okay, yes, he looked like he knew what he was doing—and nocked an arrow. Then shot.
It fell short.
He and Sally discussed trajectory and force and lots of other words I didn’t know. Then Gary shot again.
This time, his aim was better. He actually hit the target.
Then it was his brother’s turn.
He did better right from the start. Bigger. Stronger. I guess those qualities make a difference when one is flinging projectiles into the heedless unknown.
Then Mort took Gary’s bow and stood on the line.
His shot went wide—landing somewhere in the trees behind the target.
His second shot, too, went wide. This time on the other side.
Smiling, he handed his bow to Sally.
Oh, dear.
Sally stood there, calm and unruffled.
I was the one sweating bullets.
She drew the string back and let fly.
The arrow went straight to the center of the target. I am not making this up!
Robin Hood would have been proud!
Then she shot another and it did the same!
A tiny spurt of pride—and relief—went through me. Well done! Well—
She nocked a third arrow.Oh, wait, aren’t we tempting fate?
This time, just as she shot, the target—none too steady to begin with, fell over.
Suddenly I was remembering the first day we met Scary Gary. When Sally and the two boys had sent a rocket through their family’s front window.
Happy times.
This time, the arrow sailed past where the target had been and disappeared.
We waited for the expected screams. And they came.
My heart stopped.
Sally dropped her bow and started toward the sounds. Say what you will about Sally, she’s no coward.
I started forward as well.
Reaching the edge of the forest, just in time to see a disgruntled woman, covered in frosting, heave a cake with an arrow sticking out of it at my sister’s head.
Dark chocolate.
It looked delicious.
It hit with a wet ‘splat’ and split in two. My sister managed to catch one of the halves before it dropped into the leaves at her feet.
I tried to put the scene together. It looked like Sally’s arrow had found someone’s celebration, just as they had gotten to the ‘sweet’ part.
It had sent the cake end over end and into the woman’s face.
Whereupon she had returned the favour. Or flavour. *snort*
Now both of them were staring and/or glaring at each other. It was kind of hard to tell through the frosting.
Then Sally apologized, citing the faulty target, and pulled out a bill I’d never seen before.
It looked like it had a lot of zeroes on it.
She handed it to the woman, whereupon (that word again) the woman threw her arms around Sally and hugged her.
Huh. Didn’t see that coming.
Sally retrieved her arrow and, still clutching half of the cake, started back into the park.
The rest of us followed.
And all I could think was:
Someone killed the cake, oh, what a pain!
I don’t think that I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it, but a thousand dollars makes it right agaaaain…

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:  disorganized ~ equipment ~ sleepy ~ catch up ~ need a lift ~ easy like Sunday morning, were sent to me, via Karen, from my good friend, Tamara! Thank you!

Now see what my friends have done with their words!

Part-timeWorking HockeyMom                            



Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Letters home

Winding up to Remembrance Day...
Erik, right and a colleague, Larry.
 On the back of the picture, it says: 'I'm the one in green'.
Remembrance Day.
A day set aside to think about all of the people who have served us by laying down their lives.
And who are risking their lives today.
The ultimate sacrifice.
My thoughts are turned to the times when my husband and I have toured memorials around the world.
The military cemetery in Cambridge, England, where we had to leave because I was crying.
The Vietnam memorial in Washington. DC, when we watched a worker do a 'rubbing' for the brother of a fallen soldier, before we had to leave because I was crying.
The bunkers on the beach in Normandy, before we had to leave because I was crying.
The tiny military museum in the English countryside that we had to leave because . . . I think I'm beginning to see a pattern.
My second son served for eight years as an engineer/mine specialist in the Canadian army.
Including a peace-keeping mission in Bosnia. (When he returned home, he walked over to the lawn and just stood there. When asked why, he said, "I haven't been able to simply walk over and stand on grass for 10 months. This feels wonderful!)
I thought it particularly appropriate to include excerpts from some of his letters home . . .
Be warned, he was a soldier and had a very wicked sense of humour and . . . opinions . . .

14 June
Greetings, Earth Dwellers,
The average temperature is currently hovering around +34C, which it has been all week. My secretary, Aida, was translating the radio for me and told me that these temperatures are the hottest in 68 years. Boy, are we lucky. The humidity is about 10000000% on top of that, so as you towel off from your freezing shower, the water droplets are replaced by sweat droplets as fast as you can wipe them off. I'm drinking 10 litres of water a day. 4 of them during my workout alone. Just crazy.
*  *  *
I forget what the date is, July something.
Hi, everybody!
I hope you all had fun at camp this last week, You'd better have. I had a lot of fun diving on the island of Vis. Even without the diving, the scenery was unbelievable. Except for the old ladies on the beach without tops on. Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!! That sort of thing could scar me for life. It should be illegal. Fortunately, I spent lots of time under water. I even held an octopus. He wasn't impressed. His suction cups felt really neat, though. The laser vision burns, though. Who knew octopus could cook their own food? National Geographic had taught me nothing!
Calm now.
*  *  *
I'm doing well, since you asked. I just drove here for the first time yesterday, and I had a lot of fun. The road signs are just a vague suggestion to the motorists here, so I had to adjust my driving doctrine to suit the conditions. Basically, we speed everywhere, and pass when we want to. Even driving like a maniac, my boss, Major Thelwell, says that I'm the safest driver she's seen here. I can't wait to drive around with her at the helm. Apparently I'm in for an exciting trip.
Later this week, I get to drive to Banja Luka on Tuesday, Zgon on Wednesday (it's right beside Kluc on the map, if you're looking for it), and then we go to Sarajevo by way of Tuzla on Thursday, returning on Friday by going through Kakanj. Basically, I get to see the whole country in a week. Sarajevo will be fun, I think.
Please send pictures of the dogs. I told my assistant, Aida about them and she wants to see them. There are a lot of dogs around here, but most are the end result of decades of hasty, unplanned dog sex. There was a cute little puppy who lives in the entrance bunker at the camp in Zgon, though. He was there with all the guards who were dressed in their fighting gear, and he was inspecting our vehicle while we talked to the guards. What a little cutie. I think he was a little Doberman without a docked tail, and no doubt he gets away with murder at the guard bunker. Fortunately, everyone seems to like Canadians.
*  *  *
The Book of Bosnia
Chapter One
1. And it came to pass that the soldiers of the Queen did go forth into the land of Bosnia, to bring a lasting peace unto the land.
2. And the soldiers did look about them and did see many peoples throughout the land, and behold, the land was bountiful, and beautiful to be seen.
3. And it came to pass that there was a spirit of contention throughout the land, causing much death and destruction.
4. And the soldiers dwelt in a tent.
5. Now the soldiers went forth unto the people, saying:
6. What is wrong with you people?
7. Lo, these words were heard by many, and the people did listen. But the people did not speak English, so they did continue to fight, and ignored the Queen's soldiers.
8. And there was no air-conditioning to be had.
9. Now the soldiers were angry, because the people were fighting among themselves, and many people had died. Plus one leg had fallen off their fooseball table, which did enrage them.
10. Therefore, the soldiers did cry out to their Lord:
11. "Oh, Lord, why hast thou forsaken this land?"
12. And the Lord did hear the cry of the soldiers, and did pity them, and did say unto them:
13. "Quit whining! For crying out loud. You sound like a bunch of little girls!"
14. And many great and glorious things did the Lord speak unto the disgruntled soldiers in this manner, until the soldier's hearts were softened and they did fall to the earth in amazement.
15. Lo, their parachutes had not opened.
16. Now the soldiers were of the mind that the Lord had played a rotten trick on them, what with the parachutes and all, so therefore the soldiers did decide to bring peace unto the land of Bosnia by circumventing Him.
12. And it came to pass that the soldiers did cry unto a false god.
18. And this false god was called Chrétien, the father of lies, the ancient enemy of all men.
19. And Chrétien did speak words unto the soldiers, but the soldiers were deceived, and did misunderstand his words, since Chrétien cannot speak any mortal language.
20. And it came to pass that the soldiers began to wander aimlessly throughout the land, and their faith did diminish, and they forsook the false god Chrétien, and did end their days as wanderers, eating berries and kittens and other nasty stuff.
21. And peace was brought by Superman, and there was much rejoicing.

Monday, November 7, 2022

A Sticky Story

My Mama said, “Please eat your mush,”
Makes your skin great and your hair lush,
Sticks to your ribs and satisfies,
Just eating it shows you are wise!
It took time to appreciate,
I eat it now and I feel great!
Of course, I add a trifle more,
Than Mom (when I was three or four…)
My oatmeal now is quite the ‘stew’,
I put in raisins, almonds, too,
‘A bit of cinnamon here and there,
And nutmeg, nothing can compare.
Maybe fruit--all kinds will do,
And coconut? Spoon that in, too,
Then sugar, heavy cream, oh, my,
And I’m in Heaven, by and by.
There’s just one thing which I lament,
Although this dish is Heaven sent,
It passes ribs when it passes lips,
Now it just sticks to my hips!

A little bonus today:
It was my Dad's. He's quite a guy!

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?

In, or eating, come and see,
Which 'Pickle' topic there will be!

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!)...

Oatmeal (November 7) Today

Pickles (In or eating!) (November 14)
Giving Thanks! (November 21)
French Toast--or Breakfast (November 28)
Mittens (December 5)
Poinsettia -or- Potted Plants (December 12)
Muffins (December 19)
Candy Canes (December 26)
Treasure (January 2)
Stuffed animals (Januray 9)
Get lost (January 16)
Clocks (January 23)
Time (January 30)

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