Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, April 14, 2023

Finishing the Laundry

 “My turn to do laundry!”
I sat up in bed. You have to know that, immediately upon waking, I am seldom coherent.
And yes, that condition flees pretty fast (out of necessity).
Because, you know…Sally.
This time, as my mind began to clear, I frowned.
Had I really seen her face at the door? Heard the barked-out words? The closing of said door?
Because, if I had, we were in trouble.
Sally really doesn’t do many of the chores around the house.
It is her house. And the rest of us who live there rent-free are generally happy to do them.
Mom has just carried on with her ‘mom’ stuff—albeit with a little less stress because the bills are all paid and she has Dad, the former Uncle Pete.
I happily do things that require the use of any sort of machinery because it has always satisfied something in me to…you know…do them.
Sally has simply spun in the middle.
Oh, she has tried to help. She’s willing and eager.
She is also accident-prone and known for her snap—let’s call them interesting—decisions.
After which, someone, usually a professional, tidies up.
So…today and back to that voice at my door.
It could have been part of the dream I was having.
Or it could have been real.
Either way, it would still be a nightmare.
I sighed and threw back the covers.
I climbed out of bed and dressed hurriedly. Then opened my door and poked my nose out into the hall.
At first, it was happily deserted. Then Sally appeared at the entrance to the kitchen, laundry basket in her hands. “Gwen! Come on! Mort and I are waiting to start!”
I think I know why she had suddenly become interested in doing everyone’s laundry.
Sally has an inventor friend who is working on a new incarnation of a washer and drier combination. You know—the one machine to rule them all.
And he has given a prototype to Sally to try out...
I sighed and went back into my room to get my hamper and we hauled everything downstairs.
Now you have to know it’s not that she plans any of this. Or deliberately sets out to destroy.
It just…happens.
The first few loads went surprisingly well.
Baby stuff into the machine first.
Then into the basket for Mort and I to start folding as the first load of whites was shoved inside.
Then a load of colourful clothes was inserted.
I stayed on the periphery. With Mort.
Folding and keeping my head down.
Because who knows when ‘something’ is going to happen?
This went on for much of the day.
The first, second, third and even fourth loads had been washed, dried, and folded. And, I have to admit it, the machine was doing a great job!
A load of towels was cheerfully tumbling, nearly at the end of the drier cycle.
And that’s when it happened.
Can’t you just hear the tight ‘Eee! Eee! Eee!’ of the orchestral strings?
There was a muffled thump, followed by a thick ‘click’ and what sounded like metal screeching against metal.
And then the door of the drier blew off.
I am not making this up.
It blew off.
Landed across the room, like, 20 feet away.
I was supremely glad that no one (ie. me) was standing in the way of it. I think it could have done some real damage.
A tongue of flame licked out of the tub.
I think I screamed.
I know someone did.
And then Sally flew in, fire extinguisher in hand and, with a flick or two, put out the few flames before they did much more than singe a couple of towels.
Say what you will about Sally, she usually gets herself out of difficulties even faster than she got in. And usually, while the rest of us are just starting to react.
Then she pulled the electrical plug out of the wall and looked at me. “I’ll have to tell Daniel there are a few kinks to work out,” she said, grinning.
I should say.
Mort, ever the posterior backup, was busy talking to someone at ‘911’.
A mere moment later we were hearing the sounds of sirens.
When Mom and Dad and Ivy Jean pulled up that evening, it was to see Sally, Mort, Peter and I seated on the front lawn, hemmed on one side by leafy bushes.
And on the other by firefighters. We were watching them roll-up hoses and chat happily about ‘doing safety checks’ and ‘another successful mission’.
Mom, clutching the baby, just stared at the house, her colour fading. “What hap-pend?” She managed at last.
I glanced over at the firefighters and shrugged. “Ummm…Sally did the laundry?” I said.
Mom gasped and leaned back against the arm that appeared around her shoulders. Dad patted her shoulder with his other hand and she smiled up at him and took a deep, sustaining breath.
“The good news is: the laundry’s done!” Sally said brightly.
I looked at her. Then at Mom. “So’s the drier,” I added.

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: everything ~ laundry ~ safety ~ click ~ posterior ~ leafy
Submitted by, Jenniy at 
Thank you, my friend!

Now check out my fellow bloggers! 

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Answering the Call of Nature

Our Steed. I'll explain . . .
Our oldest daughter believed that there was something called the 'Universal Animal Call'.
It was a simple whistle. A single note rising in pitch at the end.
She swore it worked on all animals.
We thought the idea was hilarious.
Enough background.
My husband, for our 25th anniversary, surprised me with a trip to Greece.
And a cruise around the Mediterranean on a tall ship.
My dream of a lifetime.
And the vacation of a lifetime.
Ten days of unbelievable bliss.
I probably don't have to mention, here, that I enjoyed it.
But I will anyway.
I enjoyed it.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . .
What? Where was I?
Oh, yes.
During the cruise, we discovered the joy of laying in the nets beneath the spritsail at the bow of the ship, watching the Mediterranean slip past far beneath us.
It was the most relaxing experience of my life.
On the second last evening of our cruise, we introduced several new friends to this delicious experience.
Let me describe the scene . . .
The sun was setting, glowing orange and red on the clots of cloud floating far above us in the darkening sky. There was just enough breeze to fill every rosy sail and push us forward through gentle, perfect waves on impossibly blue water.
The air was a caress. Soft. Fragrant.
The only sounds were the occasional call of the sea birds as they floated on still wings alongside us.
Rocked gently, we hovered at the edges of complete peace.
Conversation lagged as, one by one, the members of our party flirted with the idea of succumbing to the call of Morpheus.
Drowsily, I turned to my husband and said, "What a perfect evening."
He laughed. "No, we need one more thing to make it truly perfect."
"What is that?"
He was right. The last perfect touch would be dolphins, chittering and giggling as they leaped and played in the water beside us.
"We could always try the Universal Animal Call."
We explained the UAC to our new friends, and joined in their laughter.
Then I sat up.
And whistled.
Tweee-eet! Tweee-eet!
And we laughed again.
Silence settled over us once more.
Silence broken, suddenly, by . . . chittering and giggling.
We looked down.
Several dolphins were leaping and playing alongside us.
I blinked and stared, open-mouthed.
Then rubbed my eyes and stared again.
Yes. There really were dolphins.
And yes, they really were playing beside the ship.
My husband and I looked at each other.
And laughed.
Happily, this time.
Maybe the UAC actually worked.
Or maybe it was just an amazing coincidence.
But it made the evening truly perfect.
And I'll never, ever forget it.
The reason I’m telling you all this is because we are leaving our home and puppy in the charge of our daughter and her family and faring once again into ‘tourist land’. 
We will again be on a tall ship.
And I’m so excited!
Tomorrow’s post is already set, so this is my last post before landing in Malta.
I’ll message you from there!
Wish us luck!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023


The wind blows in Southern Alberta.
A lot.
And usually from the west.
Invariably, it’s hot and dry in summer.
But in winter, you get a selection. Either it’s cold and penetrating; or warm and very, very melty (my word).
This second wind, known as a Chinook, comes in from the west without warning, forming a great arch in the overhead cloud cover and raising the temperature forty degrees in an hour.
The people who make Southern Alberta their home have learned to live with the wind.
What else can you do?
The kids adapt at a very early age.
Case in point . . .
I was five and in grade one. That magical time when everything is . . . magical.
It was winter.
A warm Chinook had blown in during morning classes.
And we had been sent outside for recess.
Not an unusual combination of events.
We ran about the playground, moving with the wind, or trying to make headway against it.
Or huddling close to the school when we had had enough.
And that was when it happened.
And it was Kathy who did it.
Now, I will admit that Kathy was a slender little stick of a kid.
Wiry and athletic and just a tad daring.
But still, her action was life-changing.
She stood out in the wind, unzipped her coat, held the sides out and . . . leaned over.
And the wind held her there!
I am not making this up.
It held her there. At an angle.
Like a kite.
The rest of us had to try it.
We had more or less success.
For some of the heavier kids, the wind wasn’t – quite – strong enough.
For the smaller, a little too strong. It could actually lift them off their feet or roll them over backward.
But for those of us somewhere in the middle, it was remarkable.
You almost felt as though you were flying!
After that, no one zipped their coats shut during a Chinook.
Instead, you used said coats – and that wind – to blow yourself wherever you wanted to go.
And world-altering!
I could see Kathy’s invention of cloth and wind being used for amazing things.
Like . . . pushing great vehicles.
Oddly enough, when I told my parents, they were less than enthusiastic.
And not at all willing to take me and Kathy’s invention immediately to the patent office.
Moving forward . . .
The decades have gone by.
And still, whenever the wind blows, I think of Kathy.
And her coat.
And that clever mind that made such entertaining use of something that could have been so aggravating.
Sometimes, you can still catch me out in it.
The wind, I mean.
Holding my coat open against it.
And remembering . . . 

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

The ‘Off‘ in Stroganoff

Now wouldn't you love to invite them over to dinner?
I know you've all had one.
Some of you might have had several.
You never forget them, no matter how hard you try . . .
I’m taking about dinner party disasters.
My husband and I were hosting our very first party, ever.
We were starting small.
People we thought would be forgiving if things didn't go perfectly.
Okay, it was a few of my former college buddies.
Fellow journalists.
I probably should have given it more thought . . .
Things were going well.
They had exclaimed loudly and satisfactorily over our new addition, a cute little Old English Sheepdog puppy named Skaya.
And greeted Skaya's companion and chewing toy, two-year-old Muffy. 
Another OES.
Who, by the by, couldn't understand what any of us saw in this small, annoying ball of fuzz.
We had served them their before-dinner drinks of chilled ginger ale.
We’re talking high-class here.
We chatted. 
That's a classy term for 'gabbed like crows'. 
Because we're classy.
Ahem . . .
Dinner was ready.
They took their places while I proudly carried in the tureen (a classy term for 'bowl' because we were being . . . I'll move on) of Beef Stroganoff.
I made Beef Stroganoff.
Me, who can't even spell Beef Stroganoff.
Talk ceased as all eyes were on me.
It was my proudest moment.
And, just like that, it was over.
The side of the stupid bowl (okay, classy had definitely flown out the window) broke right out and the entire contents of hot deliciousness landed, unceremoniously, in the nearest girl's lap.
Did I mention hot?
Did I mention lap?
There was a breathless gasp of dismay.
And my friend was on her feet, scraping frenziedly at the formerly delicious-looking, now distinctly icky, main course.
But, sadly, the story doesn't end there.
While my husby and I were frantically trying to clean up our sticky and uncomfortable guest, our  puppy, Skaya, was making quick work of everything that had hit the floor.
She was efficient.
And thorough.
We ignored her, foolishly thinking that we were taking care of the greater problem.
We were so wrong.
Skaya, having cleaned up the floor crawled under the table and proceeded to . . . umm . . . regurgitate everything she had just managed to swallow.
Placing it, quite effectively, on everyone else's shoes.
Something, I might mention, that wasn't lost on the aforementioned everyone else.
There was a mad scramble as people leaped to their feet in a vain attempt to avoid the . . . erm . . . mess.
My Husby grabbed the little pup's collar and dragged her towards the door.
Now, I should point out, here, that Skaya, when frightened, always performed what we later termed the 'submarine manoeuvre'.
Blow all tanks.
She left a (for want of a better term) 'trail' all the way across the floor and out the door.
For just a moment, there was silence in the dining room.
Picture the scene:
Beef Stroganoff, in its many incarnations, everywhere.
Guests liberally bedaubed.
Ichor in a glorious trail on top of everything else.
It wasn't a pretty sight.
Or appetizing.
Needless to say, most of the guests turned down our offer of 'something else to eat?'.
And left soon after.
Never to return.
But we learned.
Now, when we invite people over, they are invariably handed a long, twisted wire and a hot dog and told to 'crowd into the fire and git started'.
It saves on mess.
And embarrassment.
And the dog is in its proper place.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Golf Hazards

Daddy loved telling this one...

Our Gary, well, he loved his golf, much more than I can say,
He’d waited for this tee time. It was such a perfect day!
 And, with his friends, enjoyed the game. Was really doing fine,
It seemed that, on this day, the planets truly had aligned,
The four of them were teeing off there on the seventh hole,
Just where the public road, around the busy golf course scrolls,
T’was at that moment that a funeral cavalcade went by,
Then Gary dropped his club and doffed his hat and closed his eyes,
He stayed like that the whole time as the convoy wound around,
His friends just stood and waited, didn’t make a single sound,
Then, when the cars had gone, and peace had once more been restored,
They looked at Gary. One said, “Man, you surely had me floored!
I am impressed with your respect and taking time to pay
So much esteem to that poor soul and showing it that way!”
Ol' Gary shrugged, put on his hat and grabbed himself a beer,
“Well, what the hay,” he said. “We two were married forty years!”

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, there will be outs and ins
as we're discussing Safety Pins!

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!)...
Golf (April 10) Today!
Safety Pins (April 17)
Pigs in Blankets (April 24)
Rhinos (May 1)
Socks (May 8)
Chocolate Chip (May 15)
Musical Instruments (May 22)
Compost (May 29)




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