Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

Giveaway ends April 08, 2017.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Almost Stacked

A good start.
The magic number.
And she was so close!
Gather around. I have a story to tell . . .
Our family loves to eat out.
Someone else cooks.
And cleans.
What’s not to love?!
Our budget doesn’t allow for great frequency.
But we manage it about once a month.
We do have our favourite places, but we like to branch out and explore new locations as well.
On this particular day, we were trying one of the new places.
Famous for their Eggs Benedict and other breakfast foods.
Mmmm. Breakfast . . .
Where was I?
Oh. Right. Barb and Ernies.
Our order had been placed.
We were gnawing on our napkins with hunger  pulling children down off the table waiting patiently for our food.
Now, I should mention here that, some years before, in desperation, Husby had created a kid-diverting activity. Creamer-stacking.
You heard me right.
Creamer stacking.
Wherein one stacked creamers. The goal being to see just how high one could stack said creamers.
Okay, so, rocket science, it wasn’t.
But it was diverting.
Husby’s record was sixteen.
Back to my story . . .
There was a bowl of creamers on the table.
Our youngest daughter decided her day had come.
The day when she beat her father’s record.
Carefully, she smoothed out the edges of the paper seals on the little plastic containers.
Carefully matched them. Top-to-top. Bottom to bottom.
One. Then another. Then another.
Other bowls of creamers were secured from other, unoccupied tables.
Her stack grew.
Finally, she placed the sixteenth. The stack shook. Just a bit.
We held our breath.
It steadied.
She reached for the seventeenth creamer.
Set it gently on top and made the microscopic adjustments.
Then, just as she was about to release it and, incidentally, proclaim her new status as World Creamer Stacker Supreme, Ernie, he of the name, Barb and Ernie . . .
Shook. The. Table.
Her carefully arranged stack collapsed.
Along with her world title hopes.
And her euphoric bubble.
It was then we realized that everyone had been watching us, because the rest of the restaurant burst into laughter and clapping.
And totally missed the heated, narrow-eyed glare our daughter turned on the restaurant owner.
Husby’s creamer-stacking record remains a tie to this day.
Oh, there have been some feeble, half-hearted attempts.
But they're usually abandoned after about seven.
If you’re ever in Edmonton, try Barb and Ernie’s.
The food is fantastic.
But forget the extra activities and stick to eating.
It’s better for Ernie’s health.


  1. Ernie doesn't realise (or perhaps he does) how lucky he is...

  2. I'm afraid I'd be like your daughter and give that man the stink-eye :)


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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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