Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Till Death Do We Start Part Two

A short story in two parts.
Part Two (conclusion):

For a moment, all was quiet.
Then a voice spoke out of the thick darkness. “Okay, everyone stay seated till I get the lights back on!” There was the sound of movement. Careful footsteps.
Suddenly, a large light fixture over the choir seats at the very top of the building sprang into life, reflecting in the eyes of several dozen people seated there. A large man turned from the wall and let his hand fall from the switch. “There. Now remember to collect everything you brought in with you,” he said to the people.
“Oh, Mr. Dale, do we have to go so soon?” a woman asked. “It was so beautiful, I just want to sit here and remember.”
Mr. Dale laughed and sat in the nearest seat. “It is quite an experience, isn’t it, Mrs. Stephans?”
Mrs. Stephans sighed. “Sooo romantic!” she said, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.
Several assenting voices.
“I think it was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life,” said the man seated next to Mrs. Stephans.
Mr. Dale nodded and smiled. “It’s so nice to be a part of someone’s special day.”
“Please, can you tell us more about them?” Mrs. Stephans asked.
Mr. Dale wrinkled his brow in thought. “Let’s see,” he said. “Henry and Anna met when Henry’s family moved into the house next to Anna’s family. He was eight and she was six. It was literally love at first sight.  They finally received their parents’ permission and were to marry on Anna’s sixteenth birthday.” He smiled. “By all reports, those ten years between were a very, very long time for both of them.”
His smile disappeared. “But their happiness was not meant to be,” he said. He was silent for several moments. Finally, “Anna never made it to the ceremony.” He shrugged. “But Henry . . . waited for her.”
There was a storm of questions.
Mr. Dale held up his hands and got to his feet. “And now, I need to ask you all to follow me to the manse,” he said. “There will be coffee, tea and refreshments there. And a bit more information if you’d like. Please remember to collect all of your belongings,” he went on. “My collection of cell phones is plenty large already!”
People began to stir, collecting coats, handbags. Carefully, they followed Mr. Dale down the stairway to the main floor. A few of them ran gentle fingers over the pews, paused in front of the plain altar and gazed up into the rafters.
A couple paused in front of the old pump organ. “Could you play it, Mr. Dale?”
“It hasn’t wheezed out a note in over fifty years,” Mr. Dale said.
They stared at him. “But . . .”
Mr. Dale looked around and smiled. “The ceremony you just witnessed was supposed to have taken place on August 9, 1890. The organ only plays for that.” He moved to the front door and held it open. “Shall we go? I’m sure you have questions. I can answer them at the manse.”
Reluctantly, the group gathered and silently filed out into the evening air.
Mr. Dale glanced around the church, then reached out and snapped the switch on the wall, plunging the room into darkness once more.
He stopped there for a moment, with his head on one side, and listened. Somewhere, he thought he could hear the sounds of laughter and merriment. He smiled. “Have a happy evening, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Blakely,” he said. “You waited such a long time for it. I’m so glad it’s yours.”
He swung the heavy door shut.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Till Death Do We Start

A short story in two parts . . .
Part One:

The light of countless candles softly illuminated the interior of the great room. The air was heavy with the smell of melted wax. Smoke rose in a thousand columns to the high ceiling where it pooled and swirled in the gently drifting air, blurring and softening the sight of the carved beams that supported the ancient church’s roof.
A small crowd of men and women, plainly and practically dressed, were seated in the highly polished, simple wooden pews. A few bonneted heads drew close together as women chatted with quiet enthusiasm.
A largish, well-rounded woman was seated before the tiny pump organ near the front of the room, her well-corseted figure threatening to overflow the bench. Her feet, nearly hidden in the heavy folds of her long dress, manipulated the pedals with ease, and plump, practiced fingers touched the keys reverently, filling the air with soft music and providing the final, perfect touch.
A young man, dressed formally in an obviously new, dark wool suit, stood nervously at the front of the room, eyes darting between the elderly minister speaking in a low voice beside him, and the front of the chapel.
Suddenly, the great, front doors swung wide and the music swelled into the stains of the wedding processional. The entire crowd slid quickly to their feet and all heads turned to see a veiled figure, dressed in a simple white cotton gown, appear in the opening, clutching a modest bouquet of wildflowers.
Smiles broke out on every face as the bride proceeded into the room and stepped slowly and gracefully along the aisle between the rows of benches in perfect time to the music.
The young man at the front, his eyes locked on the vision that was slowly approaching, straightened his tie. Then his shoulders. Then he cleared his throat and stretched his neck in its uncomfortable stiff, white collar. Finally, he forced quivering lips into a semblance of a smile.
The young woman reached him and held out her hand.
He grasped it tightly and all traces of nervousness vanished as he raised it to his lips, then tucked it tenderly into the crook of his arm.
The two of them turned together to face the minister.
The elderly cleric nodded to the organist and the music drifted to a stop. Then he turned toward young couple, as the people in the congregation quietly resumed their seats. “Dearly beloved,” he said. “It is with great pleasure that I stand before you today, to join in holy matrimony, this man . . .” he nodded to the young man, “. . . and this woman.” Another nod.
The crowd watched him quietly and expectantly.
The couple had turned and were looking at each other. Through the heavy veil, the young woman’s mouth could be faintly seen, curving into a soft, glowing smile. The young man’s eyes glistened suddenly with unshed tears.
The minister went on. “It has taken them no small amount of time and many twists and turns in life’s road to bring them together. But here they stand before you at last.”
A soft sigh went through the crowd and white handkerchiefs appeared in more than a few hands and were pressed into service, fluttering gently.
The elderly man smiled. “Owing to the difficulties they were forced to overcome in order to be here together today, I will dispense with the mostly boring and certainly long winded and formal words of wisdom I had planned to share and offer them only this: Love each other. You deserve each other.”
He looked at the crowd, grey eyes twinkling beneath heavy, white brows. “I think that should suffice, don’t you?”
Murmurs of assent in the crowd.
He turned back to the couple. “Henry James Blakely, do you take this woman, Anna Mary Mildred Peavey, to be your lawfully wedded wife? To have and to hold, to love and to cherish?”
Henry tore his eyes away from the woman beside him and looked at the minister. “I do,” he said, his voice breaking over the two words. He cleared throat and tried again. “I do.”
A whisper of sound fluttered through the crowd.
The minister smiled and nodded. Then he turned to the young woman. “Anna Mary Mildred Peavey, do you take this man, Henry James Blakely, to be your lawfully wedded husband? To have and to hold, to love and to cherish?”
Anna turned to her companion, her shadowy lips once more curving into a sweet smile. “I do!” she said clearly.
Another sigh from those watching.
“Then, it is with great pleasure that I – finally – pronounce you man and wife,” the minister said. He smiled widely. “Congratulations, Henry. You may now kiss the bride.”
With trembling fingers, the young man caught the edge of the filmy veil and drew it up and back from his new wife’s face.
Warm blue eyes smiled, then drifted shut as Anna leaned toward him and pressed soft lips to his.
Henry’s arms went about her gently, as though fearing he would crush her slender body.
Then the two of them broke apart with a gasp and both faces coloured adorably. Henry once more tucked Anna’s arm through his and the two of them turned finally to face the crowd.
“Hurray!” someone said and several people laughed.
“Martin! Not in the church!”
More laughter.
“Dearly beloved,” the minister said, putting one hand on Henry’s shoulder and the other on Anna’s, “It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Blakely!”
This time, several people cheered and a couple applauded.
The organ swelled into the Wedding March and the newly-wedded couple led the way along the aisle to the front doors. The minister followed closely and the church emptied as everyone crowded in behind them, talking and laughing.
Finally, the last two people swung the heavy front doors shut with a whoosh and a boom.
Instantly, every light went out.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tenting for Dummies

Tenting was my favorite thing in the world.
I could happily sit for hours in my soft, quiet shelter. Immersed in my own little world. Miles away from the business and bustle of life.
Or at least inches away.
On the other side of my blanket.
And my chair.
Oh, and the all-important pillow.
Okay, so tent-making wasn't an art with me. In fact, you could probably say that it was . . . fairly inexpert, invariably consisting, as it did, of a blanket tossed over a chair and held in place by a pillow.
Frank Lloyd Wright, I wasn't.
But I still loved it. Hiding in a shelter erected solely by my own two little hands.
For a short while, I was the queen of my world.
Then, one day, I was introduced to a whole new world. My brother, George, deigned to join me.
Something, I might point out, that rarely happened . . .
And instructed me in the creation of a complex, blanket draped wonder.
George set up chairs and draped them with covers, connecting them to each other and holding each in place by different items, drawing heavily from the various 'objets d'art' that Mom had strewn about the room.
The blankets were pulled over to the couches, secured, and then drawn to the tables. There, they were again weighted into place.
Slowly, our little 'club house' grew until it covered the entire front room.
The two of us stood back and surveyed it proudly.
It had an entrance. And a back door. It had twisting tunnels and little rooms.
It was perfect.
I was quivering with excitement. I couldn't wait any longer. I dove in.
"Careful, Diane!" George said.
But he was too late.
My rash action pulled on one of the blankets.
In fact, the blanket that was being held in place by a large, ornate, plaster vase.
Both slid from the table.
The blanket survived.
The vase didn't.
George and I stared, aghast, at the mass of wreckage.
And then, like a figure of doom, Mom appeared in the doorway.
"What are you two . . . my vase!"
There was no hiding it.
There was our intricate web of blankets, furniture and bric-a-brac.
To one side, a limply hanging corner.
And, beside it, the broken vase.
Even a fool could have figured out what had happened. And Mom certainly wasn't a fool.
"Did you kids use my vase for your fort?"
How did one answer that? I mean, couldn't she see it?
George was braver than me. "It was Diane's idea."
I stared at him. "It was not!" I said, hotly.
"Was too."
"Was not!"
Okay, so our arguments could never have been classified as intelligent.
"Okay, enough!" Mom had worked her way gingerly across the sea of blankets, plucking up breakables as she went.
Finally, she reached the vase.
She set down the other objects she was carrying and stared down at it.
Then she looked at us.
"Ummm. Sorry, Mom," I said. Not entirely original, but it was all I could think of.
Mom picked up the vase. Then the pieces.
She looked . . . sad.
Mom never really had to discipline me. I could do it all by myself. I burst into tears. "Sssooorrry!"
She turned and looked at us once more. "I don't ever want you two playing with my things again."
"Oookaaay!" More tears.
I should have been on the stage.
Mom carried the pieces of her vase out of the room without looking at us again.
And just like that, our fort was no long the wonder it had been. George and I 'folded' the blankets and put things back.
Mom kept the vase, carefully gluing the numerous pieces back together.
To our 'waste not, want not' Mom, it was totally in character.
But it haunted us for years, in fact, it still sits atop a cupboard at my Dad's apartment.

I still like to tent.
But fortunately, my husby introduced me to such marvels as . . . tent poles. Pegs. Guy lines.
What it lacks in ingenuity, it certainly makes up for in convenience.
And unbreakable-ness.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bird Brains

Admit it. He's cute!

I have birds. 
Zebra finches, to be exact.They are easy to take care of, make cute little-bird sounds and are infinitely entertaining to watch.
I love them. It is a love affair that has been going on for sixteen years, now.
It all started innocently enough. I was directing a play that required caged birds as part of the premise. A local bird shop supplied us with a canary, two doves and a finch.
 A cute little finch with a smart polka-dot waistcoat, red cheeks and a black and white striped tail.
It was love at first sight.
During the days, not thinking it wise to leave our little rent-a-birds at the theatre, I brought them home with me.
One day, while I was in the other room, I could hear a cheerful little song. Rising and falling notes that sounded almost as though someone were swinging on a tiny, rusty gate. (A musical, tiny, rusty gate.)
I thought it was the canary, noted for their singing.
Entranced by the sound (and yes, I meant to use the word 'entranced'.), I hurried into the room, and stopped beside the canary cage.
The little yellow bird turned and looked at me.
And the little notes kept on.
Could canaries still sing if their beaks were closed?
My knowledge of birds was truly woeful.
I moved to the next cage. Two sweet doves blinked at me sleepily.
The third cage.
And my little maestro was revealed. Singing his little heart out.
My heart was captured.
He was my new - 2 ounce - Jose Carreras.
And my hero.
Later, onstage, when all the other birds were frozen with fear as the spotlights of the theatre shone on them, I heard that same little song.
Miraculously, with people spouting lines and charging back and forth across the stage, my little finch still found the courage to sing.
That was it. I couldn't part with him. He had to be mine.
Fortunately, my husband agreed and, at the end of the play, when the other birds were returned to their shop, Peter stayed with me. (Peter finch. Has a sort of ring, don't you think?)
Soon after that, I decided that my little Peter needed a little mate.
And so Polly, she of the beautiful white feathers and similarly striped tail, joined our household.
She and Peter immediately set up housekeeping and a few weeks later, Piggy popped out of the nest. Followed shortly after that by Pepper, Poppy and . . . Percival? Pat? Plethora? Preamble? Pancreas? (I'm ashamed to say I've forgotten his name. I do know it started with a 'P'.)
They quickly outgrew the cage that had seemed so large only a short time ago.
My husband made them a new cage. A large cage in the shape of a grain elevator.
And my birds became a permanent part of our lives.
They are constantly busy. Constantly doing 'birdy' things.
Constantly entertaining.
One can almost hear the conversations as they alternately groom each other, or chase one another madly around the cage.
"Yes. Right there! That's the itchy spot. Oh get it! Get it!"
Or . . .
"Stop that racket!"
"But it's the same song you were singing five minutes ago!"
"I don't care! I don't like you singing it!"
Or better yet . . .
"What are you doing in my cage?!"
"I live here!"
"Well, who said that could happen!"
"What are you talking about? I was born here! To you!"
Or the ever popular . . .
"I don't like the way you look!"
"But I'm your son, I look like you!"
"Don't change the subject!"
In all the years of raising them, I have only been able to touch them when they first leave the nest and haven't quite gotten the knack of flying. Even then, I can only touch them for an instant.
I quickly pick them up, band their legs and let them go.
For that second, with the tiny, frightened bird quivering in my hand, we are truly one.
Then they are released and become another cute, busy, easily-panicked member of my little finch society.
It's the only thing I wish I could change.
Well, that and the mess of torn newspaper and scattered feathers and seeds that constantly litter the floor beneath and around their cage.
I've tried taking them to task for this, using forceful, penetrating words similar to those I used in raising my own children . . . you little monkeys! You're acting like slobs! D'you hear me? Slobs!
They never listen.
Wait. Neither did my children!
Hmmm. Children. Birds.
Am I seeing similarities?  
My private elevator.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Carefully, now . . .
By the early 1870's, smooth wire fences were fast being replaced by the new, and far more formidable and efficient barbed-wire.
Now, domestic (and no few wild) animals could be effectively contained.
Wars were fought by stock owners and free-range enthusiasts over this new invention and its perceived advantages and disadvantages.
And no few lives lost.
With the ending of the hostilities, barbed-wire became the accepted medium for fencing in the ranching and farming world.
Sometimes, I wish the outcome had been different . . .

The Stringam ranch was large.
Really large.
And, to keep its inmates (cattle) controlled, it was fenced with miles (and miles) of strands of barbed-wire.
Wire that had to be strung, stretched, looped, stapled, fastened, weighted and maintained.
And maintained. And maint . . . never mind . . .
And all of this work had to be accomplished by weak, easily wounded human beings.
You can imagine the damage that two to four sharp points of wire, created to discourage even the most thick-skinned cow, could do so soft, very-not-tough skin.
I can count 13 scars on one finger alone.
Thank goodness for heavy, leather gloves and even heavier moosehide chaps.
Over the years, we thin-skinned humans had many differences of opinion with the barbed-wire which stretched across the ranch. Most trivial, requiring a Band-Aid or nothing at all.
But a few, fairly serious . . .
Once, my Dad and brother, George were stringing wire (A complicated procedure which required the paying out of four strings of wire from an apparatus on the back of the truck, closely supervised by said brother, George).
Dad hit a bump.
George was thrown into the tangle of wire, resulting in multiple deep gouges and cuts to his hands and arms.
Not good.
Or pleasant.
Band-Aids wouldn't do for that mishap.
He had to be sewn back together.
Like a quilt.
Only not as warm and cuddly.
But at least it was a mishap that could only be considered an accident.
My run-in with 'The Devil's Rope', could easily have been prevented.
If I'd been smarter.
Hmmm. Like most of my calamities . . .
I'd been out visiting the horses and was heading home.
There was a fence in the way.
Now a normal person would have employed the usual method for getting past a barbed-wire fence. Climb under or through. Climb up a post. Find a gate.
But not me. I was determined to simply climb over.
Now, I should mention here that climbing over a barbed-wire fence is possible.
Just not very smart. And certainly not simple.
You have to do it carefully. Step on the bottom wire and bend the top wire down. Then lift your leg gingerly over the top wire and step to the ground. Then swing the other leg after the first.
Easy peasy.
As long as nothing gets caught. (Pant legs or crotches come to mind.) And as long as you can keep your balance.
I was only wearing a pair of shorts, so getting a pant leg caught wasn't even a consideration.
It never occurred to me that I should watch out for my actual . . . leg.
The barbs entered my skin at mid thigh, and at the apex of my swing over the fence.
I lost my balance and fell over the fence.
The barbs raked two grooves down the entire length of my leg.
The good news? I was over the fence.
The bad news? I now sported two 18 inch furrows from mid thigh to mid calf on the inside of my right leg.
I got to my feet and looked around.
Good. Mom and Dad were away on a Hereford Tour. And no one had seen my folly.
I limped quickly to the house and made use of the first-aid kit that Mom always kept just inside the back door.
Smart woman, my Mom.
Then I stared at my injury. Visions of the rows and rows of stitches it had taken to sew my brother closed floated through my mind.
In Technicolor.
I definitely didn't want that.
But no Band-Aid could possibly cover this wound.
Finally, I twisted a clean cloth around my leg.
Then, belatedly, put on a pair of jeans.
A few days later, when my parents returned, Mom instantly noted my limp.
And made me show her my injury.
And then hauled me in to the doctor.
By that point, stitches couldn't have done any good. The doctor merely pasted my leg with goop. Applied some gi-normous bandages, and gave me a shot.
All better.
I still have the scars.
They remind me that, in a difference of opinion between me and barbed-wire, the wire is always going to win.
And always, always wear jeans.
Or armor.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Rope Tricks

Dumb and Dumber . . . and the riding pad (BP- Before Pee).
Not using a saddle really did pose certain challenges.
Being unable to use a rope being the most notable.
Unfortunately, I had to learn that particular fact by experience.
I had been Dad’s official herdsman for . . . about two weeks. A job that had hitherto been the responsibility of one or more hired men.
Our operation had shrunk in size until we no longer needed hired men. We kids could do most of the work. And did.
24 hours a day. Seven days a . . . but that is another story.
I was checking the herd for prospective, or recent, mothers.
My horse stumbled, literally, over a small, newborn calf lying in the tall grass.
At that early point in my new career, I didn’t know that the calf certainly wasn’t in any danger. Mama was nearby.
All I could see was a small, defenceless little creature that needed my help.
I picked it up. And somehow got it across the riding pad on my horse. And then managed to get up behind it.
No mean feat for someone without stirrups.
Or a brain.
I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of the cowboy bringing home the small, half-frozen calf. The tiny creature lying helplessly across his saddle.
I had always pictured myself doing just that. It seemed . . . romantic somehow.
And was.
Until the calf peed.
All down my new riding pad.
You never saw that in the pictures.
I managed to make it to the corrals in the corner of the pasture and set the little cretin down in a corner. The I went off in search of Mama.
The cow running around and bawling.
Now all I had to do was reunite them.
She didn’t want to vacate the area where she had last seen her baby. He must be here. If she ran back and forth a few . . . thousand . . . more times, she was sure to stumble over him.
I tried chasing her.
Heading her.
She kept doubling back.
Then I had a brilliant idea. I would rope her. She certainly wouldn’t be able to argue with that. Genius!
I rode back to the corral and returned with my Dad’s brand new lariat.
Did I mention brand new?
Getting the loop over the head of the frantic cow was easy. Then I would just . . . dally . . . I looked down in consternation at the place where the saddle horn should be.
Where it . . . wasn’t.
The rope slid through my hands, along with the cow.
I managed to reunite cow and calf.
By bringing the calf and putting him back where I had found him originally.
The cow wore Dad’s expensive new lariat for several months. I called her ‘Ring Around the Collar’.
I though it was funny.
Dad didn’t.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gassed Up

My Victim
I had my driver's license.
I was queen of the world!
I have to admit, here, that most ranch and farm kids were driving from the time that they could reach the gas pedal in the tractor.
But not officially. Not on an actual ... (Dramatic music: Dun! Dun! Duuuun!) ... public road!
I was quivering with excitement.
And to make things even better, I officially became my parents' 'errand boy'.
I could die now, quite happily.
Life couldn't possibly offer anything more.
Okay, so I then proceeded to back my father's car into the tractor. (Another story.)
And run it into the garage. (Another, another story.)
And into the ditch. (Another . . . oh, never mind.)
But I was still on top of the world.
With all of the driving I was doing, inevitably, I would run through the gas. (At $.29 per gallon, one had to be a bit judicious . . .)
And Dad had a gasoline rule. Whoever was driving when the gas gauge reached 1/4, was responsible for filling the tank.
I should point out here that, on the ranch, we had our own bank of gasoline tanks, carefully monitored and filled periodically. There was one tank containing purple gas (for farm vehicles), one for diesel (tractors and equipment) and one for regular (mine). Two of them were side-by-side on the same framework. The other a bit apart on its own stand.
Dad showed me how to 'fill 'er up'. First, you unlock the nozzle. Then you twist the valve. Then you put the nozzle into the tank and pull up on the lever.
Simplicity in itself.
As long as Dad was standing there.
He took me through the steps several times until he was satisfied that I could do it on my own. Then he left me.
I finished filling and locked everything up again. I was, once more, the master of my universe.
For several months, I enjoyed my new found freedom. No longer was the 20 miles into town such an insurmountable barrier.
But, during those first months, I never again had occasion to fill the tank. Whenever I got into the car, it had already been filled by the previous driver.
What a blissful existence. Driving around in a car that never, ever ran low on gas.
The best of all worlds.
Then, Mom asked me to drive into the city to do an errand.
The city.
70 miles away.
I was ecstatic. I hopped into the car and headed out.
The trip was uneventful, if one ignored the fact that I was DRIVING TO THE CITY! ON MY OWN!
Okay. It was an event.
But when I returned home, I noticed that the gas gauge was just kissing the 1/4 full line.
Oh-oh. Time for a fill up.
I pulled into the tanks.
Then stared up at them.
Which one had Dad used?
I couldn't remember.
Okay, so I know a lot of things. I just can't remember what they are . . .
Finally, after much wrinkle-browed concentration, I chose one and proceeded to run through the procedures in my head. Unlock. Twist. Insert. Fill.
I had it.
I did it.
But a little voice in my head, the one that tried, vainly, to keep me from my many terrible fates, told me to stop at 1/2 full.
For perhaps the first, and only, time in my life, I listened.
I capped the gas tank and locked up the nozzle. Then drove triumphantly into the driveway.
Where the car stopped.
What was wrong?
I tried to start it.
It made the appropriate noises. Coughed a couple of times.
And died.
Have I mentioned that my next older brother is a whizz with engines and anything mechanical?
He came running.
“What’s the matter?”
“I dunno. It just . . . stopped.”
“Let me have a look.”
All was well. George would figure it out . . .
“Ummm . . . did you just put gas in?”
“Yeah. Why?”
“Ummm . . . I think you filled it with diesel.”
“Is that bad?”
He pulled his head out from under the hood and gave me . . . the look.
Now, anyone who has been to a mechanic and asked a stupid question knows exactly what I am talking about.
The sun went out of my day.
“What's the matter?” My voice had suddenly gotten very tiny.
He sighed patiently. “Diane, this car runs on regular gasoline.”
“You put in diesel.”
“And that's bad?”
“You might as well have filled the tank with . . . oh, I don't know . . . mud? Pancake batter?”
“I think you might have wrecked the engine.”
Big oh.
“Let's talk to Dad.”
How about . . . you talk to Dad. I'll just go and join the Foreign Legion.
“Come on.”
As it turned out, that nagging little voice of reason in my head had given me good advice when it told me to only fill the tank half full.
Dad simply had us push the car . . . did I use the word 'simply'? . . . and fill it the rest of the way with normal gas.
Oh, the car gas is in the tank off by itself! How did I miss that?
Then, he told us . . . and I'm quoting here . . . to “go and burn it off”.
What? Really?
Never, in the history of the world, had punishment so closely resembled reward.
Happily, my brother and I headed into town. Tooled main. Hit the mean streets of Warner. Back to Milk River. More cruising main. Off to Coutts.
It was a glorious night.
Okay, so we smelled a bit like a bus and the engine ran a little rough, but it was worth it.
Of course, afterwards, I had to pay the piper, in the form of car lessons.
To quote George, “No sister of mine is going to drive without knowing how everything works.”
And he did mean everything.
In subsequent years, because of him, I could change a tire or belt and perform everything from an oil change to a major tune-up. Or I could pull into a shop and tell the mechanic exactly what I needed or what I thought was wrong.
In their language.
And all because of a few drops of diesel.
Amazing how life works.

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?