Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

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!

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)

Friday, December 15, 2023


Sally and Mort are moving.
No. Seriously. They bought that ranch they were looking at and are planning a move just after Christmas.
Part of me tingles with anticipation at the thought.
Imagine. A life without the constant worry at the back of your brain about what mischief Sally is getting into somewhere under the roof you share.
Okay, you’re right. Of course, I will still worry. It will just be from a longer distance.
And maybe one step removed.
I have to admit I love the ranch. Space features large in describing it: Large house. Large barns. Large pastures.
Large trees surrounding the house and barns and pastures.
I haven’t been there a lot. Peter and I have been planning our wedding so Sally and Mort have been traveling back and forth on their own—or with Dad—supervising the ongoing renovations.
Because of course, one must renovate to make a house one’s own.
Or maybe they’re just redoing everything in cast iron or plastic.
Sally will be living there after all.
Anyways, between their excitement, and Peter’s and mine, and Mom and Dad’s over their anticipated next baby, there hasn’t been even a remotely unhappy face in our house for weeks!
In fact, it’s hard to recall the last moment we may have felt the least bit negative.
Until today…
You have to know that, when Sally celebrates, she c e l e b r a t e s. The whole enchilada. Nothing stinted.
And she is really anticipating moving into her ranch.
So I know there will be celebratory…erm…stuff.
A brass band. Maybe a parade.
Okay, I’m exaggerating about the brass band and the parade.
But the fireworks? Real.
Sally had a big box of them sitting between the beautiful little storage shed near the house and the fence that ran along the closest pasture.
A fence none of us realized was electrified.
Something like this could only happen in movies.
Or in Sally’s life.
Of course, this was the day that Peter and I decided to visit and ooh and aah over the progress being made.
Dad and Mort were over by that box of fireworks. Dad was investigating them—seeing what they needed to be safely set off.
He’s like that.
Mort was playing with his new lighter.
Because of course he would be playing with a lighter in the one spot in all of creation where it really wasn't the smart thing to do.
Here is where I admit I have no idea why Mort has a new lighter. He doesn’t smoke. And neither does anyone in our family. I’m thinking it has something to do with being on a ranch now and needing to be able to ‘live off the land’ at a moment’s notice.
Anyways, he and Dad were talking while Dad investigated and Mort…flipped.
Then Dad went to stand up. And reached out, naturally, for the top strand of that fence.
That none of us realized was electrified.
Till then.
Dad is made of tough stuff—former marine and all that—but he wasn’t ready for the charge that shot through him.
I swear his hair stood on end. He jumped and shook and beat a rapid tattoo on the ground with his heels.
And that’s when things really fell apart.
Trying to get his balance, he reached out rather blindly for something to hold onto and again grabbed the wire.
This time, his arms shot out.
The one hit Mort right in the glasses.
Then knocked the lighter from his hand.
Said lighter then arched—with uncanny accuracy—straight into the box of fireworks.
The resultant fireworks show could be seen clear back in the city.
Or so I’m told.
Dad and Mort barely escaped with their hides intact.
The side of the shed is toast.
And Sally is quite disappointed that she missed the whole thing.
Not one to leave things undone, I understand that she’s on her way into the city to procure more fireworks.
I probably should warn you that, if our family can accomplish that kind of damage without Sally, just imagine what will happen with her present.
May heaven smile on us all.

Use Your Words is a writing challenge!
Each month, I exchange words with my friend and intrepid leader, Karen of Baking in a Tornado 
Neither of us knows what the other will do with her words.
This month, Karen gave me: 
undone ~ recall ~ unhappy ~ glasses ~ tattoo
Thank you, my friend!
Now go see what Karen did with my words!

Monday, December 11, 2023

Snow Boots

He went out as the morning sun,
Made new snow glisten bright.
The world was still, the air was cold
The storm passed with the night.

He carefully prepared his mount
With blankets and with tack,
The snow had stopped, the wind had died
He had cattle now to check.

The two of them moved carefully
Into the world of white.
Their breath streamed out behind them
Making clouds in morning light.

But it wasn’t long before he stopped
And looked about him there.
Then pulled his ‘cell phone from his coat
And dialed his wife with care.

“Hi, Hon!” he said with chatt’ring teeth,
Just thought I’d give a call,
To let you know I’m heading back,
Things don’t look good at all.”

“The snow out here’s too deep,” he said.
“It’s cold and wet, I’ve found.
It’s reached the tops of both my boots
It’s hard to get around.”

His puzzled wife said to her man.
“Your boot tops aren’t tall.
“I don’t see how a drift that deep
Could hamper you at all.”

Her husband frowned, “They don’t,” he said.
“Well, they don’t bother me.
But this poor horse I’m sitting on.
He simply cannot see.”
Daddy in winter . . .

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, my favourite thing of all...
It's COOKIES. Join us, have a ball!

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!)
Winter (December 11) Today!
Cookies (December 18)
Christmas/Hanukkah/Holidays (Dec. 25)
The Future (January 1 My last Poetry Monday)

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

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Semper Fidelis
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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?