Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, January 13, 2023

Rolled Up

I know you will be surprised.
I know I was.
But our family made it through the entire holiday without a single disaster.
No bruises the colour of kohl. (Google it.)
It may have something to do with all of us being totally spellbound by our new little sister, Ivy Jean Gunn, born on December 16, 2022. She is the cutest baby ever. Ask anyone.
Okay, well ask anyone living in our house.
And Peter.
Back to the holiday…
We spent a few dollars. Partied quietly on Christmas Eve. Opened gifts and feasted on Christmas day. Lazed about on Boxing Day. Generally accomplished little other than puzzles and consuming less-than-healthy snacks for the next 6 days. Quietly celebrated New Year’s Eve. Slept in on New Year’s Day.
Just a really, really normal time.
Living in Sally’s house, you know that makes me nervous.
Mom loves Christmas. And Christmas trees.
We had the big one downstairs in front of the great windows.
And another—less big—up in Mom and Dad’s room.
Both are real.
Both were supposed to be fresh.
Both shed like Labradors.
Sally got the great idea of—after the big tree was un-decorated—toppling it onto the large rug that normally graces the hall and pulling it out the front door.
Theoretically, all that would need to be cleaned would be said rug.
We thought it a good idea.
Yeah, I was surprised, too.
We denuded the tree. Tipped it over onto the carpet.
Rolled it up.
And slid it outdoors quick as quick.
Brilliant. Maybe the first time in our history an idea of Sally’s worked well.
The smaller tree would be even easier, I thought!
Silly me.
Rather than try to haul the large carpet upstairs into Mom and Dad’s room—and besides it was already outside, thick with dead needles—we decided to use the runner in the upper hall.
We slid it into their room.
Collapsed the tree onto it.
And rolled it up.
Okay, yes, it took a bit more rolling than the big one downstairs, but now we had a neat package that would be a cinch to kick to the curb.
So to speak.
Sally and Mort slid the encapsulated tree to the top of the stairs.
And that’s where everything fell apart.
We secretly knew it would, am I right?
Just as they started down the stairs, someone banged loudly the door.
Peter, standing just inside said door awaiting Sally and Mort and their tree, swung it wide and two police officers stepped into the open greatroom.
Mort turned to look…
Now those of you who know Mort, know also that when he was made, God added things like ‘grace’ and ‘agility’ with a teaspoon and someone jiggled His sacred elbow.
Mort slipped.
The tree he and Sally were carrying between them slid out of their hands and started to roll.
Why do these things always happen to us?
It rolled down the stairs, gaining steam as it went, finally plowing into the two officers staring up at it dumfounded-ly.
They went down like ten-pins.
The one, Officer Smith merely fell back onto his…erm…backside.
The second, Officer Jones, went forward. Over the tree and onto the rather sturdy marble tiles that form the entire lower floor of the house.
Breaking his nose and one of his very handsome front teeth.
I probably don’t have to tell you that their reason for coming was forgotten in the chaos that followed.
Once Officer Jones’ wounds had been blotted and the damage assessed, both men were surprisingly cavalier about the whole thing.
I mean, they (and let’s face it, the entire city police force) know Sally.
Simply dropping by her house is always an adventure.
Am I right?
Happy New Year. 

Today’s post is a writing challenge. Participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post with the understanding that all words be used at least once. All the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, 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.
Today, I’m using: gain ~ dollars ~ bruise ~ kohl ~ rug
They were submitted by: Karen of Baking in a Tornado 
Now check out my fellow bloggers! 


Thursday, January 12, 2023

Little Prayers

I think the Person who receives evening prayers must look forward to those being offered by the children.
You want to talk entertainment?!
Last night, following a day that included church attendance, swimming at West Edmonton Mall, the eating of assorted junk and the wind-down of puzzlemaking with family, five-year-old (hereinafter known as 5YO) disappeared into the bathroom to ‘take care of some business’.
She came out a few minutes later with a strange look on her face.
“What’s the matter?” her mother asked.
“It looked really strange,” 5YO said.
“Strange, how?”
There followed a short conversation of strange-appearances-from-the-past.
I’m editing because—yuck.
“But this was different,” 5YO said.
“Well next time you see something different, please tell me before you flush.”
5YO happily went back to puzzlemaking.
And the subject was, thankfully, dropped.
The evening wound down.
Bedtime approached.
Routines were adhered to, even though the day had been anything but normal.
Teeth brushed, hair braided, hands and face washed, pj’s donned, journal updated, story read, song—sung.
5YO was on her knees to say her evening prayer.
Now you have to know that this is often the highlight of the day for whoever is putting her to bed.
Usually momma.
The prayer rambled around for a while. Thank you for my mommy and daddy. Grampa and Gramma. Thank you for cousins and pets and toys.
Then the unexpected. “Please don’t let any more yellow stuff come out of me. Amen.”
Ummm . . .
All I’m saying is: I wouldn’t mind being on duty when those prayers start to arrive.
I’ve got my notebook.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023


Okay, it looks kind of neat on movies or TV.
In reality?
A little more dangerous.
Perhaps you remember the story (stories) of Superman in which mild mannered Clark Kent tears his shirt off and becomes the wondrous Man of Steel?
It always looked so—effortless. And tidy.
Well, I am a witness to shirt ripping and it is anything but. 
Maybe I should explain . . .
Husby had a favourite shirt that was getting rather threadbare.
And needing to be retired.
Now, in the home of my parents, the retiring of a shirt was almost a ceremony.
Buttons snipped off and neatly stored.
Collar stays fished out; ditto.
Anything operational cannibalized for possible future use.
Then the remaining scraps relegated to the rag bag.
All while soft music was being played and/or a choir hummed quietly in the background.
Okay, I made up the part about the music, but the rest is true.
Now, fast forward to my house. And Husby’s threadbare shirt.
“That shirt needs to be thrown out,” I said.
“I love this shirt!”
“I can see right through it.”
Now many of you may think that is a good thing.
And it would be. Except that the places I could see through were things like: underarms. Front button plackets.
I’m sorry, but there is little that is sexy about underarms. Or front button plackets. 
True story.
Husby sighed.
Thinking the conversation was over and agreed to, I started to leave the room, heading for my snips and the button box. Maybe the stereo.
And that is when Husby hunched forward, tearing the shirt up the back, then grabbed the front and shredded it apart.
Buttons shot everywhere at the speed of sound, a few of them narrowly missing me.
For a moment, the two of us looked at each other as the sound of bouncing buttons died away.
“Or we could do it like that,” I said.
Now I don’t know about you, but whenever I saw Superman do the same thing, no one mentioned flying, potentially lethal buttons.
No one.
The button companies have kept this a dark secret.
I think our hyper vigilant protective agencies should be informed.
Insurance rates are gonna rise.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Where It Started...

For Christmas this year, I received Lego.

Yep. Lego.
As I have done every year for almost 60 years.
It sparked a memory . . .
Maybe he should have wrapped up some teeth . . .
In the Stringam family, birthdays were always exciting.
Family. Good food. Cake.
And presents.
My fourth had been truly memorable, with a little barn fire thrown in for . . . umm . . . excitement.
But my eighth was memorable for two other reasons.
Let me explain . . .
It began ordinarily enough, with Mom's wonderful breakfast and good wishes all around.
Dad had gone into the city, on ranch business, and wasn't expected back until later--when us kids got home from school.
But that was okay, because I knew that my real birthday, complete with birthday food and cake and the all important presents wouldn't happen until supper time.
I went through the day with high anticipation.
I'm sure my teachers tried mightily to teach me something that day, but who can compete with birthday supper and cake?
And presents.
By supper time, I had worked myself into a rare mood.
Mom made my favourite.
With meat balls.
Then the cake. Again my favorite - Angel food. With fluffy seven-minute frosting.
I should point out that the name of the frosting had to do with how long it took to make it.
Because it certainly didn't describe how long it took to eat it.
But I digress . . .
And then that moment.
The time I had been anticipating for an entire year.
When the wrapped boxes came out and were given the place of honour.
Right in front of me.
The first one was rather . . . book sized.
I tore into the colourful paper eagerly.
I should explain, here, that I had fallen in love with reading in the first grade, at the age of six.
Dr. Seuss had introduced me to world of books and I hadn't looked back.
By the time I was eight, I had graduated to the next step.
Chapter books.
And here, on my birthday, I was suddenly holding the greatest treasure I had ever seen.
Nancy Drew. The Secret in the Old Attic.
A chapter book.
All my own.
My world had just gotten bigger.
Then there was more.
A large, rectangular package.
Reluctantly and reverently, I set down my precious new book.
And ripped into my other present.
The wrapping came off easily.
Revealing . . . Lego.
What on earth was that?
I stared at the package.
Everyone stared at the package.
My father was well known for finding the new and the wondrous.
He didn't fail here.
I opened the box and poured out a stream of little red, white and clear blocks.
Of varying sizes and shapes.
I unfolded the brightly-coloured instruction sheet.
And my world got bigger, still.
I needn't tell you that my Nancy Drew collection expanded to include every volume ever written.
Or that Lego became a large part of the Stringam world that day.
And that a major part of playtime, for three generations now, consists of amazing feats of construction with myriad colourful blocks.
Or reading.
I only need to tell you that everything began on my eighth birthday.

This year’s. And yes, I’m spoiled...

Monday, January 9, 2023

Happily Stuffed

From my daughter's experience.
I put it to verse...

Was pregnant and anticipating her first baby’s birth,
Went shopping in a fun attempt to clothe her changing girth,
But nothing seemed to draw and as she walked out of the store,
Saw a bin of stuffy dogs she hadn’t seen before,
For some unknowing reason she just had to purchase one,
Then stuffed it in her bag and soon forgot what she had done.
A day or two went by. One day she caught a case of flu,
To lay in bed in misery was all that she could do,
A worried Husby picked her up and took her to emerg,
Hopeful they could help his sweetie beat this awful scourge,
They pumped in fluids, calmed her down, she got some needed rest,
Happy she responded well, they told her to get dressed,
A child’s cry caught her attention—someone sounded scared,
A little boy whose parents were awaiting treatment there,
And suddenly, she knew just who she’d bought the doggie for,
She gave it to his nurse as she was headed to the door,
The last she saw, the tears forgot as his dog played peek-a-boo
Going up and down it went there in the vacuum tube.
Sometimes at the start, it’s very hard to see the end…
(And sometimes little Stuffies can be so much more than friends!)

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 might come at quite a cost...
We poets all are Getting Lost!
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!)...
Stuffed animals (January 9) Today!
Get lost (January 16)
Clocks (January 23)
Time (January 30)
Frozen Yogurt (February 6)
Random Acts of Kindness (February 13)
Be Humble (February 20)
Pineapple (February 27)
Cookies (March 6)
Butterflies (March 13)
Buzzards (March 20)
Celebrating Earth Day(March 27)

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