Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, May 17, 2024

Away From Home

Fly on the Wall is a monthly challenge that I share with my blogging sisters, Karen and Marcia, where we invite people into our lives and recap our past month.
This is my glimpse into mine...

I'm a homebody.
There, I've admitted it.
I do like being in familiar surroundings. 
And especially in my own bed. With my own bathroom (something that grows increasingly important with the passage of years! But I digress...)
And my own stuff around me.
But Husby loves to travel.
And I love to be with him.
So I travel.
It's actually quite funny. With numerous health concerns between the two of us, much of what we pack consists of...pills.
Yeah. We pretty much resemble a traveling pharmacy.
Fortunately, pills are fairly portable. Thus far.
Where was I?
Oh, yes. Traveling.
And enjoying it.
Recently, Husby and I and a couple of close friends, Bill and Judy, left our aforementioned comfortable surroundings and did an Amsterdam/Belgium/Italy loop.
It was cold. I've never quite witnessed the cold like Amsterdam when it's +3 C, blowing a legitimate gale. AND raining.
Yep. There's no cold quite like it.
And I live in Canada!
But we enjoyed every single minute.
Let me 'briefly' tell you about it...
First Amsterdam (Or Hamsterdance, as Granddaughter #11 called it!). We were there for the tulips.
And wow! Did we see TULIPS!
(Just FYI: None of my pictures turned out, so most of what follows came from my artist/photographer friend, Judy White.)
Husby and me!

Keukenhof- a must-see!

Of course, being in Holland, we had to see windmills in Kinderdijk:

And museums: The Rijks Museum is beyond stupendous:

I want this library so much!

Now THAT's a model!

Nightwatch by Rembrandt. Just one of thousands!

And churches: 
Grote Kerk, Haarlem

We could have spent a month there!
But we had a schedule to keep, so on to the First World War Sites in Belgium. 
Just outside of what was known then as Ypres:

Of the 12,000 graves in this cemetery, only 4,000 were identified. The rest were 'Known Unto God'.
I've never cried so much...

Hill 62 Battlefield. Preserved just as it was. The divots and swales are from artillery blasts.
And now "sheep may safely graze'.

St. Julien Canadian Memorial

And then Florence and the surrounding countryside:

So many works of art. So little time!

And SO many people!

We also took a bus trip out into the countryside of Tuscany. Pisa, Siena, San Gimingano. Fantastic!

We're not sure how many of these trips we have left in us, so we toured and ate and talked and laughed and absolutely enjoyed ourselves. There are thousands more pictures and an equal number of memories, but at least you got a glimpse.
Thank you for coming along!

When you start to look like your passport photo, it's time to go home.

Now go and see what Karen and Marcia were up to this month!
Trust me. You'll be glad you did!

Friday, April 19, 2024

Being Simple

It's time for Fly on the Wall!
Where we give our beloved readers an opportunity to see what has been going on in our homes--and minds--this past month.
I have been thinking about--what else--pie!

I’m quite sure you all know that I love pie.
True story.
And so poems that discuss this particular subject are pretty much guaranteed to capture my attention.
Thus, I introduce to you:
Simple Simon.
Okay, personally, I think labeling anyone as ‘simple’ is a little insulting. I just want to put that out there. And yes, at first glance, this appears to have nothing at all to do with ‘pie’.
Wait for it…

Simple Simon met a pieman,
Going to the fair,
Says Simple Simon to the pieman.
Let me taste your ware!

Ha! Told you!
Let’s just make a note here and now that I am totally with Simon in asking for a little taste. If someone is giving away free tastes, I’m there.
Just ask the girl at Baskin Robbins. I think I set a record.
Judging by the look on her face, she wasn’t as impressed as I was.
But I digress…
What were we talking about?
Oh, yes. Pie tastes…
I’m there.
Particularly if the pie is lemon. Or cherry. Maybe blueberry. Pumpkin.
Okay. Any flavour. 
So thus far in the story, Simon and me, we’re together.
Now that pieman’s reaction in the next stanza is, in a word, predictable.

Says the pieman unto Simon.
Show me first your penny,
Says Simple Simon to the pieman.
Indeed I have not any!

Oh, Simon, I feel your pain.
That Baskin Robbins girl (see above) said the same thing.
Of course, by that point, I think my ‘tasting’ could easily have equaled a double cone.
But this is where Simon and I depart company. Because I DID have a penny!
Or several, because, let’s face it…ice cream ain’t cheap!
I should point out here that I do, in point of fact, sympathize with the pieman. I mean, this is his livelihood we’re talking about. And—here’s where ice cream differs from pie—a little taste out of a tub of ice cream is noticeably less noticeable than a little taste from a nicely, neatly-covered pie.
So let’s move on, sadly, away from pie.

Simple Simon went a-fishing,
For to catch a whale,
All the water he could find
Was in his mother's pail.

Okay, here’s where I admit that I am a miserable fisherman. In my life, I’ve caught a grand total of…zero fish.
Oh, I’ve drowned a lot of poor, defenseless worms, one or two bugs and some fairly innocent corn kernels in a bid to catch something besides boredom.
With no luck whatsoever.
But even I, with said miserable record, know that one is hardly likely to catch even a mini whale in one’s mother’s pail.
Pretty simple, Simon.
And lastly, this…

Simple Simon went to look
If plums grew on a thistle,
He pricked his fingers very much,
Which made poor Simon whistle.

A couple of thoughts here.
Thistles were plentiful where I grew up.
And—I just want to say this here—not one ever bore anything even remotely resembling a plum.
Stupid, useless thistles.
And I have been the recipient of a thistle’s tender embrace.
It is anything but tender.
And you’ve probably figured out that, having experienced the ‘prickly’ tendencies of your typical thistle, the last thing I feel like doing is whistling.
Just sayin’…

Up for more?
Go, now and read what my sister writers have been up to this month!
Enjoyment guaranteed!

Friday, March 22, 2024

A Pie-Filled Fly

It's time now to be a Fly on the Wall and get another glimpse into life at the Tolley house.
It's been quite a month!
Gramma and Grampa are home (from their recent holiday to places warm and rainy) and ready to FAMILY!
While the elders played cards...

The youngers ate ice cream and teased their cool uncle.

But the best part was Pi Night. Where we get to make pies and invite our friends and just enjoy each other's company.
The Tolleys wait for this all year!
2024 was year 12 of this celebration.
And here is a little peek!

This year's crew. We made 84 pies! Apple, Cherry, Blueberry, Strawberry/Rhubarb, Peach, Pumpkin, Coconut Cream, Lemon, Chocolate Cream, Banana Cream and Butterscotch.

Quite a sight!

Then the people started arriving!

And arriving...

And arriving...

The pies began to disappear.

A little creativity can get you a lot of pie!

Still eating.

Our new pie-eating champ. 11 pieces. (Exactly the amount she is holding!)
(Let's face it...only the young join in on this challenge!)
The title was formerly held by a young man whose record of 10.5 pieces stood for five years.

The clean up. 
And all that's left of 84 pies.
Gramma and Grampa are heading to bed.

See you next year?

P.S. As a little added bonus, my baby sister and her husband surprised us by secretly flying in from Nova Scotia! Best. Surprise. Ever!!!

Fly on the Wall is a challenge. We participants take the opportunity to give our friends a glimpse into what we were up to this month. 
We're so glad you could join us!
Now go and see what my friends have been doing this month.
I guarantee you'll love it!

Friday, February 16, 2024

A Sprat Chat

I admit it. I’m on a bit of a ‘Jack’ kick right now… 

Jack Spratt could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean.
And so Betwixt the two of them,
They licked the platter clean.

Isn’t that a great story? These two have been served a meal and each likes a different part and they are so much in agreement that they can divide things up and each be totally satisfied.
This, of course, is a nursery rhyme, quite likely without much basis in reality.
And right off, suggests several things to me…
  Jack and his wife get along well. I mean, how agreeable is your spouse to sharing your meal?
No “Wait! You got all of the peas! Why do you get more peas than me?” or “What? You know I love mashed potatoes and I’m quite sure that wasn’t half!” or the ultimate “Hey! I was saving that as my last perfect bite and you took it!”
Not that that has ever happened to us…
They are also pretty well-matched. How many couples do you know who could divide an entrée completely into two and everyone is happy with what they get?
And, I just want to put this out there, but if someone is sharing a steak with me, no way is he going to get all the meat and leave me all the trimmings.
For one thing, ick.
And for another…no… 'ick’ pretty much is what I am staying with.
So, as a lesson in spousal confluence, this is a great example.
As a lesson in nutrition, not so much.
One final thought. If they have a dog, that poor guy is pretty much stuck with what comes out of the Alpo bag.
Because leftovers are going to be non-existent.
Just saying…

This post is part of the monthly Fly-on-the-Wall challenge. 
Our noble leader, Karen of Baking in a Tornado, challenges each of us participants to offer a glimpse into our private lives.
With mixed results this month.
I mean, everyone else has been doing things.
I've been lying on a beach in Hawaii, moving only enough so people don't poke me to see if I'm alive.
But I did want to write and share something.
I came up with...good ol' Jack.
I'm loving this!
Go now and read what the other participants have contributed. 
You'll be glad you did!

Menopausal Mother

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Jumping Jack

Disclaimer: Okay, right off, I want to say that I do not condone the actions of said ‘Jack’ in what follows. In point of fact, I think…
Well, maybe I should start at the beginning…

Jack be nimble,
Jack be quick,
Jack jump over the candlestick

You’ve heard it before, I’m quite sure. This little ditty about a mysterious someone named ‘Jack’ who spends his time airborne over candlesticks.
Now I don’t know about you, but for me, a candlestick is generally used as a source of light. And less commonly, heat.
But never as some sort of athletic measuring stick.
That just makes me uncomfortable.
I mean, what happens if Jack is feeling a little less ‘nimble’ on a given day and thus ‘slower’ in his reaction times?
Would it then follow that we might see:

Jack not nimble
Jack not quick
Jack scooting over yonder hill in a frantic search for a water source.

You’re right. It doesn’t rhyme.
Now just where and/or when did this really strange activity begin?
Are we to believe that one day, out of the blue, some kid named Jack just decided to leap over some random candlestick?
Okay, yes, I know that a group of kids hanging out together are often the architects of ‘mischief’. And maybe someone suggested the art of flame leap-age as a possible reprieve from boredom.
Maybe they even suggested that everyone give it a try, and he who neither lights his britches nor snuffs the candle wins good luck and a long life.
Let’s face it, if one does light one’s britches on fire, long life isn’t going to be a problem.

Kids be nimble
Kids be quick
Kids better find something constructive to do or Mama going to warm kids’ britches--without a candlestick.

Hmmmm. I’m having trouble with this.
Actually, I’ve heard of bridegrooms attempting similar feats—the leaping, not the lighting—in an effort to ensure a long and happy marriage.
But you know me. I prefer things like: affection, conversation and good humour to blah…blah…blah…marriage.
But that’s just me…
So…back to Jack. And his candlestick.
I think the whole exercise is just silly, silly, silly.
Waste of time, energy and resources.
I think it would be better said like this:

Jack be nimble
Jack be quick
Jack leave the candlestick on the table and get Jack’s chores done.

The end.
P.S. Now I’ve heard of hiding your light under a bushel, but never under a derriere.
I just wanted to put that out there.

Monday, January 1, 2024

The Future

For fourteen years, I’ve had such fun,
Telling tales of life: homespun,
I’d talk of growing up and stuff,
Of doings planned, or ‘off the cuff’,
Of mischief made and laughter wrought,
Some lessons learned, successes sought,
A little fact with fiction mixed,
With lots to entertain betwixt,
I love to write, you know I do,
But now’s the time to say, “Adieu.”
New challenges for me to face,
(I pray I’ll do all this with grace!)
What I’ll miss most is all of you,
Will I be back? I’ve not a clue…
But know as I walk these new trails,
And try to keep on telling tales,
That in my thoughts, you all will be,
I’ll hold your mem’ry close to me…
The future beckons. It’s so bright,
(Soon everything will be just right,)
So know as now my blog I close,
I’ll still be writing poems and prose.
I dedicate it all to you,
And leave my love and prayers, too!

My good friends, Charlotte and Mimi,
Will ‘Poem’ on, but without me,
Cause that’s what Monday is about,
I can’t conceive a week without!

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?

This post today will be my last,
The Future surely got here fast!
But two of us will carry on
I pass, to them, the 'poem' baton!

Thinking of joining up for Poetry Monday?
Charlotte and Mimi would love to welcome you!
The Future (January 1. My last Poetry Monday) Today!

Friday, December 29, 2023


Superpowers? Let’s make a list,
Cause all of them, I think I missed,
Like super strength, for that I’d opt,
When I think of the stack of plates I dropped!

And other things, like super speed?
To do my chores, for that, I’d plead,
And super sight? With super eyes
I’d wear my specs just for disguise!

Hmmm…super smell? That may be mine,
Cause stinky stuff I smell just fine.
But what would give life seasoning?
Why, super thought and reasoning!

Command of elements, that’d be neat,
And flying would be oh, so sweet!
And swimming without needing breath,
Yep. Nothing that would cause my death!

If I could live a long, long time,
With super life, that would be fine,
Just think of all that I could do,
The learning and the skills accrue...

But wait. If I am still around
When all I love are ‘in the ground’,
Now how exciting would that be
If I lost friends and family?

You know, I’ll stick with what I’ve got,
My aching joints and tangled thoughts,
My power fits me like a glove,
My super power, friends, is LOVE! 

Karen asks, "Write for me, please?"
We write because we like to please!
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,
With 'Super Power!' how did I do?
Now, go and see the others, too:

Baking In A Tornado: Finale      
Messymimi’s Meanderings          

Monday, December 25, 2023



A tiny town, the angel sings,
Is chosen for the King of Kings.

It sleepy lies and quiet waits,

While all salvation, God creates.


And in a manger, not a bed,

Our Savior lays his newborn head,

Soft grasses frame his tiny form,

And keep his swaddled body warm.


A hush falls o’er the stable scene,

The babe has come, all is serene,

He will bring peace from world’s alarms,

But for now, a babe, in His mother’s arms.

 For just a moment, all is still,

As Son fulfills his Father’s will,

Though tiny now, one day He’ll be,

The Saviour of both bond and free.


The choir gathers, awesome sight,

Their presence shines upon the night,

Above the clouds, their voices swell,

As they shout forth their first ‘Noel’.

As bells ring out the joyous news,

In golden tones, in ones and twos,

We recall another place on earth,

When a prophet spoke of the coming birth.


Far to the East, men weep, because

A star shines bright. They point, and pause,

There in that sphere, each of them sees,

The prophecy that’s come to be.


And all the Faithful, now, are called,

From pastures—free, to cities—walled,

To see the babe who soon will reign,

When He brings peace and conquers pain.


God makes so much from something small,

This babe? Salvation for us all,

How are we freed from pathways grim?

Why...just believe. And follow Him.

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, will be my very last,
The Future surely got here fast!
But two of us will carry on
I pass, to them, the 'poem' baton!

Thinking of joining up for Poetry Monday?
Charlotte and Mimi would love to welcome you!

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

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!

Real Estates: All Murders Included in the Price!

Real Estates: All Murders Included in the Price!
My FIRST murder mystery!

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!

Be Courageous!

Grab and Add!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?