Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Sneaky Shoemaking

Papa Dan was the finest shoemaker in the whole town of Bliss, Anywhere.
Okay, yes, in point of fact, he was the only shoemaker, but why quibble over details?
He was also very sweet.

He was so sweet and kind he couldn’t bear to charge people for his fine shoes.
Especially when they came to him with a tale of woe.
He was a sucker for those.

Thus the people of Bliss were very well shod indeed.
And Papa Dan semi-cheerfully ‘footed’ the bill. (*snort*)
A friend, he was.
A businessman, not so much.
And that’s where our story starts…

Papa Dan was busily cutting the leather for a fine, new pair of shoes.
His last.
Let’s face it, he was broke.
Subsidizing the entire town’s footwear needs had him in the poorhouse.

But though he was financially the poorest person in the town, he still shared what he had.
Even leaving part of his meager food supply on the porch each evening for whoever needed it.

The elves who inhabited the darker corners of the little community were very grateful for his offerings. 
Afraid to mix with the ‘big’ people, they were the only group poorer than Papa Dan.

But they watched him and noted his kind, generous ways. And dwindling resources.
After he had finished preparing the leather, tidying up…and dozing off…they quietly crept in.
And sewed his shoes.

Okay, yes, that’s not something one sees every day (or night)—someone sneaking in to do good deeds under cover of darkness.
That’s like someone creeping into someone’s house to clean.

(Erm…if anyone’s willing to sneak into my house and clean, I’mhappy to leave the back door open.
And do my best to sleep through the whole operation.
Just putting that out there…)

Back to my story…
So the elves sewed while the shoemaker slept.
And the next morning he found—not the leather he had left—but instead two very fine shoes.
Beautifully, perfectly stitched.

Just then, the Queen of Anywhere stopped by.
Okay, I know that doesn’t happen often in really real life.
In point of fact, never.
Hey! If I wanted reality, I’d watch the news.

“Ahemahemahem!” she said in her ‘queenly’ way. “What beautiful shoes! I would like to buy them!”
The shoemaker stared at her.
Number 1—queen.
Number 2—willing to pay real money.
“Erm…” he said.

You can probably understand his confusion.
I mean, how often did either of those things happen? (see above)
“Uh…okay.” He was definitely on a roll now.
Coins changed hands.
“Ta!” said the queen.

“Wow!” he said. “Now I have enough money to buy leather for two pairs of shoes!”
Which he did.
Carefully, he cut out two pairs of shoes, then left them for the morrow.

Again, he headed to bed.
Again the elves visited.
Again they sewed the shoes.
Again they disappeared, giggling happily.
Oh, wait. I forgot to add the ‘giggling happily’ to their earlier visit.

Now picture an almost carbon copy of yesterday—except the shoes are doubled.
Queen, entering the shop, “I just love those shoes I bought here yesterday and I want pairs for my friends!”

“I just have these two pairs today,” the shoemaker said, holding them up.
“That’s okay. I only have two friends,” the queen said, blithely, handing over a small sack of coins. “Ta! Ta!”

Now I know what you’re thinking. No one is trying these shoes on.
Normally people do that.
What can I say…
If you want reality, there’s a 24-hour news channel on the telly.

The shoemaker was overjoyed. “Now,” he said, “I can buy leather for four pairs of shoes!”
Repeat X 4 shopping.
Repeat cutting.
Repeat elf sewing.
Four pairs of shoes.

The shoemaker waved the large bag of coins. “Wow! Now I can buy leather for eight pairs of shoes! Or seven pairs and some lunch. Because I haven’t eaten since this story started…”

One trip to the local tanners followed by a quick drive-thru at the A&W and he was back and cutting once more.
All day he cut.
I mean—seven pairs!
Then, exhausted, slept.

Now you’re probably wondering if he was wondering just who had sewed these shoes that were responsible for his recent turn of amazingly good fortune.
Short answer? Yes.
Kindness wants to recognize kindness.

Holding the seven beautifully finished pairs of shoes the next morning, he knew he had to find out who the clever person or persons were who spent their nights sewing for unsuspecting people.

So he started to plan…
Because of the queen’s generous patronage, his little shop was now thronged with people clamouring for those seven pairs of shoes.
Before breakfast, he was again sold out.

And that’s when his plan came into being.
He would buy leather for shoes and cut it out as per usual.
Then he would pretend to sleep, but in reality, spy on the perpetrators.

Hmmm…are they still considered ‘perpetrators’ if they sneak in to do good things?
Asking for a friend…
Anyways, spy he did.
And what did he see? A group of little, ragged, underfed elves.

Busily and happily sewing his shoes.
After they left, he sat there and thought.
And thought.
And thought some more.
Suddenly he knew what he needed to do.
Then he got to work.

The next night, the elves found, not the leather for shoes they expected, but a suit of clothes and shoes for each of them.
That shoemaker, when he gets going, gets things done!

As they stood there in wonder, he leaped out of hiding with a happy laugh and all were able—at long last—to get acquainted.
Needless to say, they were soon fast friends.

But the story doesn’t end there.
The queen, totally enamored with her new shoes, made Papa Dan (and the elves) the kingdom’s official shoemakers.
I think their shoemaking factory still stands today!

And that’s the sole story.

Today’s post is a word challenge! 
Each month Karen, Mimi or I choose a number between 12 and 50 and we three craft a post using that number of words one or multiple times.
This month’s number is: 33

Now go and see what my friends have created!

Monday, December 18, 2023


Photo: Scott Molnar Photography

Ol’ Santa, he of twinkly glee,
A question he hears frequently
From all those precious little tykes:
“What kind of cookie do you like?”

He’s given it some thought, and so
For all of you who'd love to know,
He has compiled a list that tells,
To help you when you hear those bells!

There’s chocolate chip I’ll mention first,
 They make his taste buds want to burst!
 With oatmeal and with coconut,
They help give Santa Claus his ‘gut’.

Then lemon, soft, or oatmeal, plain,  
His interest, he won’t have to feign,
And ginger, soft or with a snap,
They make this man a happy chap!

And snickerdoodles, I must say,
He’ll eat them day by day by day,
And oatmeal raisin, ‘s long as they
Have raisins plump for this gourmet!

Then Peanut Butter, Whoopie Pies,
And Sugar Cookies, no surprise,
Molasses, YUM! Biscotti, yes!
Or Spritz or Snowball, they’re the best!

Then Thumbprints, Wafers, Macaroons,
Or even those with dates or prunes!
And men of ginger…faces…feet,
Or macarons that taste so sweet.

(In fact, most any cookie will,
Give our Santa Claus a thrill…)

But which would he choose overall,
When to your house he comes to call?
Which does he give his accolade?
The best of all: Ho, ho, Homemade!

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, Christmas will be here,
What I anticipate all year!

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!)
Cookies (December 18) Today!
Christmas/Hanukkah/Holidays (Dec. 25)
The Future (January 1 My last Poetry Monday)

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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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