Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, August 12, 2022

Try, Try Again

 Dad took Mom fly fishing. Someplace watery and peaceful.

He seems to be ‘taking her away’ a lot. Between you and me, I think he’s trying to preserve her mental health.
Sometimes, I wish he’d take me and Peter away as well.

Especially today.

First little background…

We live in Sally’s house. She bought it with her first paycheck from her first movie. (I guess it’ll come as no surprise when I tell you she is well-paid.) It is the largest in the neighbourhood and looks—from the outside—fairly grand.

On with my story:

The day started as days do—tranquil. Quiet.

With a couple of my windows open, I could hear the birds singing madly in the backyard. It was such a … peaceful sound.

I could faintly hear Sally and Mort downstairs laughing and banging pots and pans. Probably stirring up breakfast in their kitchen. The four of us (them, Peter, and I) had stayed up quite late watching old horror movies. Then, when discussion of the ridiculous and very unlikely rescue of the heroine by an overly-agile leading man had grown heated, Sally had taken it upon herself to prove to the rest of us that it could be done.

Peter hadn’t even gone out the door till after 1.

I stretched and reveled in being able to spend a few more peaceful minutes in bed.

And that’s when said peace was shattered.

I told you Sally earns quite a bit of money.

Well, she does.

And that’s my theory for what happened…happening.

The garden door to my room burst open. Now, normally, when something like this happens, Sally is the figure entering.

What came in was—definitely not Sally.

Nope. Three large figures, dressed head to toe in camo, toting weapons and sporting the very latest in total-head-coverings.

Not what usually steps in from the garden.

Did you know hearts can stop from sheer surprise?

Well, I’m pretty sure mine did.

I didn’t even get a chance to react. One of them—I’m assuming the ringleader—pointed to me and one of the other guys scooped me up. The third fastened my hands together with a zap strap and then ‘scooper guy’ threw me over his shoulder.

The force with which I hit that hard shoulder drove the breath from my lungs. But, still, I managed a fairly credible scream.

The ringleader spun around and motioned to my mouth.

The third guy applied a gag (emphasis on ‘gag’) and the three of them--and me--continued forward.

All of this took place in near silence. I mean, these guys were big and still they hardly made a sound!

We left my room and made our way up the hallway to the kitchen.

My scream must have alerted Mort. He had just reached the top stair. “SALLY! CODE RED!” he shouted as the leader pounced.

Man, that guy could move!

The man thumped Mort on the head and my gangly brother-in-law went down in an unconscious heap.

The other two looked at their leader and he motioned toward Mort’s hands and face.

Another zap strap and gag were applied. Though what they thought Mort would do when he was unconscious, I’ll never know. He struggles when he's awake.

We left Mort and started down the stairs. Me, still draped like an old carpet over second guy’s shoulder.

In my summer Pj’s which had been entirely adequate for sleeping—in the summer—but which were totally inadequate for a kidnapping.


We stepped out of the curve of the stairs.

At this point, most of the downstairs apartment is open to view. I guess that’s what ‘open concept' means.

Sally was nowhere in sight.

I blinked—the only part of me I could still move.

“Sally!” the ringleader said in a warning tone. “We’ve got your sister!”

I felt suddenly chilled, wishing I was the aforementioned old carpet.

And that an army platoon or two would appear out of nowhere.

The men spread out.

I don’t know where she came from, but suddenly Sally was there, swinging a heavy frying pan.

It connected solidly with the noggin of the third man and, like Mort before him, he dropped like a stone.

Still carrying the pan, Sally leaped over him and darted up the stairs.

The ringleader charged up after her.

So much for ‘We’ve got your sister…’

I didn’t see what happened, but I heard it. There was a heavy thud and boss guy slid down several steps and into our view, bleeding profusely from a crease in the side of his head.

Second guy let out a bellow, dropped me without even a by-your-leave, and he, too, started up the stairs.

Now, call me stupid, but something told me I needed to see what happened next, so I crept up the stairs behind him.

Just in time to see Sally swing down from the top of the stairs on the rope she had attached to the chandelier to prove her point the night before.

The point being someone could swing from a rope and accomplish an almighty rescue.

I’ll never question again.

Remember when I said these guys were packing heat?

Well, up till this time, their guns had remained holstered. I guess they thought Sally would be easy pickings.

Wrong. Remember the kidnapping attempt when she was filming in Brazil? Yeah. That.

Sally swung down in an arc and hit the guy just as he was pulling his gun.

Right in the chest.

The guy, not the gun.

He performed a spectacular back flip, right into the front door, which burst open, spilling him, unconscious, into the glorious morning light.

The light caressed his black hood and pristine camos like warm honey.

When Mom and Dad got back that evening, Sally was giving me a manicure at the kitchen table. Peter was hovering close by. Something about 'not wanting to let me out of his sight ever again'.

Mort had gone to bed early, claiming a headache.

Once more, it was peaceful.

Serene, even.

Mom hung her purse from a hook in the front hall closet and turned to us. “Hello, my sweethearts!” she said brightly. “We had a glorious day! How was yours?” 

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: fly fishing ~ manicure ~ tranquil ~ ringleader were sent to me, via Karen, from my good friend, Rena! Thank you, Sweet Girl!

See what my friends have done with their words!

 BakingIn ATornado     

TheDiary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 


Part-timeWorking HockeyMom 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Baby Words

Husby and I had spent the weekend in Provo, Utah.

He, walking, relaxing and catching-up-on-sleep in the Marriott.
Me, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ally Condie, Brandon Sanderson, James Dashner and Jennifer Nielsen at the Storymakers Conference.
Yep. Me (and over 700 other writers) were all sharing with and learning from the best and brightest, including several New York Times bestselling authors.
What a weekend!
But, as with any good thing, it ended. And I had many long months to wait until the next Storymakers.
But, after we had packed up and checked out, something happened that made the joyous weekend of books and words last just a teensy bit longer . . .
Husby and I decided to attend Church a short distance from the hotel. We walked in as the congregation was singing a hymn. (Yes, we were late.)
We took a seat near the back, where many of the families with small children had taken up residence. (I was missing my grandchildren, so this was the perfect place for us.)
A tiny girl—just shy of actually walking—was in the pew just across the aisle from us. For the first few seconds, she stared steadily at Husby’s bearded face.
He gets that a lot.
Then another couple walked in (We weren’t the latest arrivals. Whew!) with a tinier baby in a carrier. They took a seat a few rows back from us and set the carrier down on the floor in the aisle right next to their bench.
The little girl’s attention was immediately diverted. “OOOH!” she said, pointing to the baby. Getting down on her hands and knees, she quickly closed the distance between her and her soon-to-be-best-friend.
Her parents watched her go.
Did they jump up and retrieve their wandering daughter?
Instead, her father quietly took out a board book and propped it up on the floor in the aisle beside their family’s pew where it would be in plain sight of their little explorer.
The tiny girl sat down beside the baby carrier, then spied the book.
“OOOH!” she said again. She started crawling back toward her family. And her book.
Halfway back, she again sat down, her head swiveling between the baby and the book. Hmmm . . . which to pursue?
Finally, decision made, she closed the distance between her and her reading material. Happily, she grabbed the book. Her dad grabbed her and the two of them proceeded to make their way through something brightly-coloured and catchy.
The baby in the carrier slept on, unaware that her friend had abandoned her for an adventure of the printed kind.
And I realized how important it is that we are readers. That we are raising future readers.
And the thought struck: If more children chose reading over hanging with friends—even part of the time—what kind of world would we live in?
Just wondering . . .

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

A Field Promotion

Sorrel gelding (male).
And yes. I can tell the difference . . .
During college, I rode with the LCC Equestrian Team.
It was infinitely more exciting than anything my journalism instructors could teach in the classroom.
Though not quite the same preparation for real life.
Every afternoon, I would present myself to my teacher at the tack shed and draw my piece of string.
This is exactly how it sounds.
There was a bundle of old twine strings hanging from a hook just inside the door.
I would grab one and head out to the pasture.
Once in the pasture, I would pick out a suitable mount (ie: one that I could get close to), and place the string around its neck.
Then swung aboard and ride the horse back to the tack shed to . . . tack up.
Simplicity in itself.
The heaviest thing I was ever forced to carry was a piece of string.
Okay, I will admit that everyone else carried bridles, or at the very least a halter.
I was weird.
And/or lazy.
Moving on . . .
It was a beautiful day.
The sun was shining. (A fairly common occurrence.)
The wind wasn't blowing. (Not so common.)
I was excited to be out of the classroom and into the field.
So to speak.
I should point out, here, that there were two sorrel (liver brown) horses in the herd.
One a gentle gelding (male).
One a sprightly mare (female).
The differences were obvious.
But I was simply looking for 'sorrel'.
I walked up to the first one and slipped my piece of string around its neck.
Then swung aboard.
The trip back to the shed was quick.
I remember being astonished at the spirit the old gelding was showing.
Wow. He'd never had this much life!
This was going to be a good day.
I stopped near the shed door.
My instructor was standing there. “Wow!” he said. “The last person who tried that ended up getting piled.”
'Piled'. That's a cowboy term for . . . piled.
There really isn't a better way to say it.
Back to my story . . .
I looked down at my mount. “You mean this isn't Chico?”
He looked at me strangely. “Umm, Diane, Chico is a boy.”
“Oh. I never even . . .” I slid off the horse. Sure enough, he was a she. “Oops.”
He went on. “GG has never allowed anyone to ride her bareback. She doesn't like it. She just bucks them off.” He looked at me. “Let's try something, shall we?”
“Umm . . . Okay!” My Dad always said that I had more guts than brains.
He was right.
My instructor grabbed a halter and handed it to me.
I exchanged it for the string.
“Now get on.”
I obeyed.
“Let's run some jumps, shall we?”
GG and I went over the entire course.
I will admit that the jumps were small and definitely not a challenge.
But the point is that we did them.
GG and me.
Something that had never been done before with that particular horse. 
In that particular tack.
My instructor was smiling when we returned. “I've been wondering who to appoint as team captain,” he said. “Now I know.”
I smiled back.
I still don't know exactly what happened that day. With that horse.
But I was right.
It was a good day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Where the Love Came From

Miss Wornoski and her 31 little readers
That's me on the far right, second row.
With my eyes shut.
I love to read.
It started very early.
Grade one.
Miss Woronoski taught me.
I don't remember the mechanics of learning.
Only the sudden explosion of knowledge that came with recognizing series of letters strung together.
Miss Woronoski had a list of words on a large flip chart. And each of us in the class was taken, publicly, through it. I remember her pointing to each word with a long, slender stick and the victim participant having to then read it out.
A word about the stick. It was about three feet long, with a soft, squishy, plastic, cone-shaped tip. Tons of fun to play with when the teacher wasn't in the room.
Ahem . . .
Day by day, she worked her way around the room. Closer and closer to me.
Who would have guessed that panic was one of the subjects taught in the first grade?
Well, it was.
If I would have studied the chart, I would have realized that I could read every word on it.
But I didn't. I just glanced at it briefly with silent 'deer-in-the-headlights' terror.
Thus started a pattern in my life that has served me far too well.
But I digress . . .
Finally, it was my turn. Miss Woronoski looked at me. “Diane.”
Everything I had ever known simply . . . fled. Taking my blood and body temperature with it.
A now-frozen lump, I turned slowly and stared at her.
“Its your turn, dear,” she said softly.
Her words might as well have been: Ready! Aim! Fire!
I was about to die.
I swallowed.
And nodded.
The pointer was raised.
I watched as it moved.
Sooo slowly.
Tapped on the first word.
“And,” I said, shakily.
Next word.
Next. Ooh, a toughie.
And so it went.
Pointer . . . pointed.
I said the word.
Pointer moved on.
I was doing it!
The panic started to ebb.
With only one slight hesitation, on the unbelievably difficult word, 'house', I was done.
Faster than anyone.
Miss Woronoski smiled. “Very well done, Diane,” she said.
I had done it!
Celebrations were in order.
“Diane, sit down.”
She handed me my first. Real. Book. “Here, dear, read this,” she said.
And she moved on to the next student.
I stared at the book she had given me.
The Little White House.
There was a picture of a boy riding a horse on the cover.
We were instant friends.
I opened it and, for the first time began to read a story to myself.
Riveting tales of Tom, Betty and Susan as they:
  1. Helped their parents
  2. Got presents
  3. Rode Pony
  4. Played with Flip
The magic had begun.

There is a codicil . . .
My Husby and I were on a book-signing tour through the US.
We stopped at a tiny little restaurant in tiny-er Dell, Montana, called the Calf-A.
Exceptional food, especially the roast beef.
And pie to die for.
Sorry. Moving on . . .
The restaurant was housed in what had been the little country school.
The blackboards and even some of the pictures and furniture were still there.
On a shelf was a stack of old text books.
While waiting for my order, I wandered over and looked at them.
And there, right in the middle was my book.
My first book.
Just as I remembered it.
I dragged it out and hurried back to our table.
“Look!” I shoved it under my Husby's nose. “Look! It's my first book!
I sat down and opened the cover.
Instantly, I was transported back to my sunny classroom at Milk River Elementary.
To my seat beside the windows.
Right in front of the teacher's desk.
I could smell the chalk dust.
And see Miss Woronoski taking yet another student through her chart of words.
I had nearly read The Little White House through by the time our meal arrived.
Not a statement on how long it took to be served.
But rather on how quickly I could now read.
Thank you, Miss Woronoski.
You changed my life.

Monday, August 8, 2022


I go to church, it’s what I love,

I do believe in God above,

And all the folks who attend with me

Are people that I like to see.


They’re honest, faithful, loving, too,

Will gladly help with things to do,

I mentioned ‘honest’, did I not?

Their honesty, I love a lot…


So it will come as no surprise,

It is a fact that opens eyes,

That seldom do these people lock

Their car doors when to church they walk.


It’s not uncommon when we meet,

To traipse along that sunny street,

And try a car door, here and there,

And find admittance to their lair.


But there’s one time (you will be shocked),

When no one leaves their cars unlocked,

It happens late in summertime,

Or early autumn. (So sublime!)


But it’s not theft they worry ‘bout,

Nope. That thought really has no clout,

What’s taken out is not the sin,

It’s what someone is putting in!


Yep. If unlocked you leave your car,

You may have to travel far,

With your backseat filled with a catch

Of zucchini from your neighbour’s patch!


So if you go to church, you must,

Lock your car doors as we discussed,

Cause you will end up just like me…

Your back seat filled with zucchini!

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, we'll have hunger pangs,
And Pie of lemon--with meringue

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!)...

Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch (or car) Night (August 8) Today!

Lemon Meringue Pie Day (August 15)

Be an Angel Day (August 22)

Bats -or-  More Herbs, Less Salt (August 29)

Labour Day (September 5)

Chocolate Milk Shakes (September 12)

Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19)

Field Trips (September 26)

Friday, August 5, 2022

Praying to Stay Awake

See? Adorable.

I went away to school.

Far away.
It was the most difficult four months of my life.
But I learned a lot.
Most importantly, I learned that I really don’t like to be away from family.
All I could think about was being home.
I learned a lot about prayer in those days.
It got me through.
My five roommates were great. Supportive, fun, encouraging, sympathetic.
And they taught me something about prayer as well.
Maybe I should explain . . .
I lived in an apartment with three bedrooms.
Each shared by two girls.
My roommate, Bev, was a sweetheart.
Kind. Sweet. Patient. Soft-spoken.
And very strong in her faith.
It was not unusual for her to kneel in prayer for a long time.
A. Very. Long. Time.
At some point, shortly after we became roommates, I realized that she wasn’t praying.
She was asleep.
There. On her knees on the hard old floor.
It couldn’t have been comfortable.
After that, when she had been praying for what seemed a sufficient amount of time, I would make some noise.
Not a lot.
Just enough so that if she really had dozed off, it would stir her.
And save those knees.
Now Bev was nothing if not proactive.
She saw that she had a problem and did what she could to fix it.
She bought a book, ‘How to Pray and Stay Awake’.
I applauded her positive, pre-emptive spirit.
That evening, she sat down happily on her bed and opened her new purchase.
A few minutes later, I glanced over at her.
She had nodded off over her book.
And was snoring softly.
Some things you just can’t fix.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Early Parking

My stylin' ride.
The grocery store in Milk River in the 50's was on main street.
Parking was on the street.
Angle only.
I know this doesn't seem to have much to do with my story, but wait for it . . .
Mom usually came into town once a week to do the grocery shopping.
For me, it was a magical time. Mind you, I was born with unfettered enthusiasm. For me, everything was magical. But I digress . . .
On this particular occasion, my brother George was with us.
The two of us had been separated because he was causing fights.
Not me.
Never me.
Ahem . . .
So George was in the back seat and I was in the front.
Mom parked the car in front of the AGT building, directly across from the grocery store, and got out.
When we made to follow her, she put out her hand and told us to stay where we were.
As punishment for being so disruptive on the trip into town, and as Mom was only going into the store for a moment, both of us were forbidden from following.
We could sit in the car quietly and think about what we had done.
We each thought about it in our own unique fashion.
George pouted. Arms crossed, face fixed in a frown of displeasure.
I did gymnastics.
I should probably point out here that the seats of our (then) late-model car were wide.
And long.
And bouncy.
I started out small. Bouncing up and down in a sitting position.
Then I discovered that I could get more height if I got up on my knees.
Finally, I was standing, hands on the back of the seat, jumping up and down. I think I hit my head numerous times on the roof, but no brain, no pain.
I continued to bounce.
I should point out here that, in the 50's, crime hadn't been invented yet. It wasn't unusual for people to leave their kids in a car. With the keys in the ignition.
And the car running.
Don't condemn my Mom. She was a product of her time.
I bounced closer and closer to the steering wheel and wondrous, automatic gearshift attached to it.
Closer. Closer.
And then . . . that one bounce too many. I came down on the gearshift.
The car lurched into action, leaping over the curb and across the sidewalk on fat, whitewall tires.
I think I screamed, but I can't be sure.
There was a distinct 'crunch' and the car came to a sudden stop.
I don't remember George's reaction. I think he remained stoically silent in the back seat.
I picked myself up off the floor and began to cry.
And suddenly, my Mom was there. Holding me in her arms and telling me that everything was all right.
Mom was really, really good at that.
After she had calmed me down, she set me back on the seat and put the car into reverse and edged back off the sidewalk. Then she put it into park and, this time, shut it off and we all got out to survey the damage.
The bumper had pierced the stucco, leaving a half-moon crescent in the wall of the building, just below the front windows.
Where the entire AGT staff had assembled.
They waved, cheerfully.
Mom sighed and towed us into the office to explain.
The office workers were remarkably forgiving of the whole incident. Even laughing about it.
Red-faced, Mom was soon able to drag George and I back to the car.
I think I received a lecture on using the inside of the car as a playground, but it wasn't very forceful.
Probably because Mom realized that the whole thing wouldn't have happened if she hadn't left the car running.
The mark I had made in the wall remained there for many, many years. Until the building was renovated and re-faced, in fact.
Some time after my escapade, a second crescent appeared in that same wall, just a few feet from mine, obviously from a similar source.
I examined it carefully. It was a good attempt.
But mine was better.
Circa 2011. (52 AD (After Diane))
Same building. Different damage...

Wednesday, August 3, 2022


A guest post by Blair Stringam

Shammy. And humanoids.
Did you ever think about something that you did in the past and wonder “what was I thinking?”
If you have then we understand each other.
If you haven't then I guess you have your ducks all in a row.
I don’t.
My sister has told this story to you before, but I need to set the record straight . . .
When I was a wee lad of 5 years, summer on the ranch was a daily adventure. There were lots of places to explore, frogs to catch at the river, horses to ride, chickens to watch (they were very strange) and barns to explore. 
But one thing I was not allowed to do. Accompany my two older sisters on trail rides. 
The epitome of fun. The ultimate in summer adventures.
For everyone  but me.
And so I pestered.
I pestered until one day they finally relented and allowed me to follow them. And even more exciting? My sisters decided that we were not only going on a trail ride but we were going to have a picnic as well. I was beyond ecstatic.
I was to ride my horse Shammy, a very fat, very quiet, very gentle welsh pony that dad had given to me on my 3rdbirthday.
We saddled our horses. Well, my sisters saddled the horses. I couldn't reach up high enough to pull the cinch tight.
We climbed aboard and headed out across the river with my sisters leading the way. Just after we crossed, we picked up a cattle trail that followed, first the river, then a fence line up a steep embankment. 
I should note here: When fences follow steep embankments there are often high and low spots. Now, placing fence posts in the high and low spots is not a problem in itself, but when you string tight wires between said posts, it tends to pull the lower ones out of the ground. There are clever things that ranchers do to try to stop this but sometimes the posts have minds of their own. 
Illustration by Blair.

Back to my story . . .
One of the posts in the fence we were following had pulled out of the ground and was hanging over the trail.
Chris rode by and ducked under the post. I watched her do this. Then Diane rode by and ducked under the post. I watched her do that as well.
Then I rode up to the post.
And didn't.
I don't know why.
It hit me (or I hit it) square on my forehead and I was peeled off the back of my horse.  I landed in a heap and began to cry.
I was mad and I was not going to be consoled even though my sisters were being very kind and soothing. Then (I think in desperation) Chris finally said, “Look at Shammy.  She thinks you are being silly.” 
I looked up at Shammy, who was standing just a few feet ahead.
She was looking back at me with a very puzzled expression on her face.
I was suddenly embarrassed and stopped crying immediately. A cowboy has to tough when he is around his horse.
I climbed back up, hoping that Shammy wouldn’t remember my moment of weakness.
We resumed our trail ride, had our picnic and went home.
Another note: Maybe Shammy didn't remember, but my sisters obviously did. 
It was a long time before I was allowed to go on a trail ride again.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Smell of Memories

The Old Garage.
Look out below . . .
Under the floor of the old garage was a dark, mysterious, magical stronghold. A place of adventure. Of devious deeds and dead bodies long kept hidden. Where pirates, coming down the Milk River in ships, hid their treasures. And their secrets.
A place of adventure. Of wonder.
And vegetables.
Accessed only through a solid, well-camouflaged wooden door, this place was known only to the best and brightest . . . and bravest . . . that the ranch had to offer.
Okay, I admit that I had to wait until one of my larger, stronger minions actually grasped the great iron ring and pulled the door up on its protesting hinges to grant me entry, but from that point . . . I. Was. In. Charge.
Yes, okay, so they also had to reach up to the single hanging bulb and pull the string because it was too far up for me, but from then on . . .
I spent hours there.
Or at least as long as it took my mom to collect her baskets of vegetables and start back up the stairs.
At that point, I would abandon whatever scheme I had launched and scamper up behind her.
I could conquer worlds. Defeat any foe. Accept any challenge.
I just had a bit of a problem with being left in the dark.
The heavy door would be lowered into place with a theatrical thud, and the hideout's secrets would once more be hidden.
Entombed. Quietly, patiently waiting until the next time the sunlight briefly, piteously exposed them.
I loved the root cellar. I loved its mystery. 
Its possibilities.
But I should probably mention here that the south fork of the Milk River never, ever could have floated anything larger than a rowboat.
Well, except, maybe during the flood of '64. But a pirate raid then would, of necessity, have to be brief.
And very, very fast.
So, my stone-walled, dirt-floored stronghold probably never concealed a treasure. Or a body.
I think a cat got mistakenly shut in once for a few hours, but as it emerged unconcerned and completely unscathed, I don't think that counts.
I don't know if that particular root cellar still exists. It had been years since I was back there. But my memories of it are still sharp and clear.
The damp, cool air. The 'heavy' feel of the stone walls and dirt floor. The . . . fuzzy-looking boards that formed the staircase.
But most especially the smells. Earth. Fresh vegetables. Wet, aged wood. Things growing. Things crumbling back into earth.

There is a addendum.
My husband and I have spent many hours travelling on the underground in London, England. It is a remarkably run, efficient system.
But in the deepest tunnels, we met with an unexpected bonus.
Stepping off the escalator, I took a deep breath.
Earth. Old timbers. The natural smells of molder and decay.
I smiled.
It smelled like memories.

Monday, August 1, 2022

To You

When I was growing up, my brothers were my friends, it’s true,

Stuck, as we were, there in the very center of the crew,

But when I started school, I soon discovered something great,

A group of girls my age t’whom I could instantly relate!

Those that I was closest to changed every year or so,

But always there was someone helping with life’s ebb and flow,

I depended on my girlfriends—yep, they really got the knack,

And somehow life was easier when we had each other’s backs,

But life goes on, school ended, we all went our different ways,

Now most of them, mere shadows in my memories of those days,

But others came. Proved girlfriends didn’t have to come from school,

Sometimes, they’re neighbours, work colleagues, whose love and kindness rules,

Then Covid turned us upside down and life, for us, diverged,

And suddenly, a different shape remarkably emerged,

For far too long, all friendship face-to-faces were forbid,

And me and all my girlfriends went into our homes and hid!

But in that time, Life wasn’t o’er, just changing as you’ll see…

Cause suddenly, another group of girlfriends rescued me,

They laugh at all my jokes, encourage when they see I’m down,

And best of all they read my stuff and hardly ever frown!

I’ve learned I can rely on them, they’re there through thick and thin,

To guide or tease me through the problems I find myself in,

To all of you now reading this, I’m talking right to you,

Thank you for the many times that you have pulled me through,

I don’t know what life would be like–I think it’d be the end,

So know that I am grateful for my amazing online friends! 

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's not 'bout cakes or blinis,
It's sneaking about with some zucchini!

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!)...

Girlfriends (August 1) Today!

Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night (August 8)

Lemon Meringue Pie Day (August 15)

Be an Angel Day (August 22)

Bats -or-  More Herbs, Less Salt (August 29)

Labour Day (September 5)

Chocolate Milk Shakes (September 12)

Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19)

Field Trips (September 26)

Friday, July 29, 2022


Today’s topic is WEATHER.

So,first, an oldie many will have already seen:

“Look to the cows,” said Dad, the wise,
“And you will come to realize,
That by their actions, you can tell,
The weather patterns, fair or fell.”

And so I watched, and so I saw
That he was right, my smart ol' Pa.
And he knew what he talked about,
If you're predicting rain. Or drought.

The cows, they crowd together tight
And you know cold will be the night.
They seek the shed and shelter warm
If rain or snow will be the norm.

Then turn their tail and duck their head,
When wind is shrieking round the shed.
But stand out grazing peacefully,
If sun and warmth are meant to be.

But just today, I got a scare,
From cows around me everywhere,
For when I stepped outside my door
And glanced towards the purple moor . . .

(Oops, Alberta's where I live, you see,
And so I meant the wide prairie.)
My cows weren't where they're s'posed to be,
They sat on branches. In the trees.

So now I have to figure out,
What they’re predicting hereabouts.

And then something new.

It MENTIONS weather...

John and buddy, Keith, were on a golfing holiday,

But a blizzard came and forced them to postpone their play,

When it became too difficult to see through driving snow,

Asked at the nearest farmhouse if a roof they could bestow,

A pretty woman answered, said, “A widow, new, am I,

It would not be appropriate. My neighbours would decry.”

She nodded toward the barn, “But you are welcome, there, to stay,

“And you should be quite comfortable. It’s clean and filled with hay.”

The two men thanked her, headed to the barn to get some rest,

Then rose up in the morning after sleep that was the best!

They finished off their trip, the weather did cooperate,

And soon they both were back at home and working eight to eight,

Nine months went by, a letter came, t’was sent from where they’d gone,

And issued by a lawyer and addressed to our friend, John,

He read it. Then he left his office, walked along the hall,

Stopped at buddy, Keith’s, then smiling, asked if he recalled

That night they spent tucked in the barn (as weather boiled without)?

Well, Keith, he nodded. Asked his friend what this was all about?

“Did you visit our sweet hostess while I slumbered deep?

And did you give my name for yours before you fell asleep?"

Well, Keith turned red, embarrassed as he stammered a reply,

“I’m sorry, John,” he said. "What's up? Please know I will comply!”

Well, John just shrugged. “I’m happy that you can be counted on,

That lady died and left her fortune to your good friend, John!”

Karen asks, "Write for me, please?"
We write because she's our Big Cheese,
And we love her, you know that’s true,
So this is what we writers do . . .
We craft a poem based on a theme,
With pencils, sharp, and eyes agleam,
Each month we write and have such fun
We can't wait for another one,
Sooo...this month, how well did I do?
Please go and see the others, too.

BakingIn A Tornado                 


Blessed by a Curse

Blessed by a Curse
My very first Medieval Romance!

God's Tree

God's Tree
For the Children

Third in the series

Third in the series
Deborah. Fugitive of Faith

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael
A House Divided is now available at all fine bookstores and on and .ca!

Daughter of Ishmael

Daughter of Ishmael
Now available at and .ca and and other fine bookstores.

Romance still wins!

Romance still wins!
First romance in a decade!

Hosts: Your Room's Ready

Hosts: Your Room's Ready
A fun romp through the world's most haunted hotel!

Hugs, Delivered.

Compass Book Ratings

Compass Book Ratings

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!
New Tween Novel!

Gnome for Christmas

Gnome for Christmas
The newest in my Christmas Series


A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.


My novel, Carving Angels

My novel, Carving Angels
Read it! You know you want to!

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic
What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

Join me on Maven

Connect with me on Maven


A scientist and his son struggle to keep their earth-shattering discovery out of the wrong hands.

Essence: A Second Dose

Essence: A Second Dose
Captured and imprisoned, a scientist and his son use their amazing discovery to foil evil plans.

Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from

The Babysitter

The Babysitter
A baby-kidnapping ring has its eye on J'Aime and her tiny niece.


Haunted by her past, Melissa must carve a future. Without Cain.


Following tragedy, Devon retreats to the solitude of the prairie. Until a girl is dropped in his lap.

Pearl, Why You Little...

Pearl, Why You Little...
Everyone should spend a little time with Pearl!

The Marketing Mentress

The Marketing Mentress
Building solid relationships with podcast and LinkedIn marketing

Coffee Row

Coffee Row
My Big Brother's Stories

Better Blogger Network

Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award
My good friend and Amazing Blogger, Marcia of Menopausal Mother awarded me . . .

Irresistibly Sweet Award

Irresistibly Sweet Award
Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

Sunshine Award!!!

Sunshine Award!!!
My good friend Red from Oz has nominated me!!!

My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?