Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, October 13, 2017


Saggot jumped back, colliding heavily with the front door and knocking a gusty ‘whoof’ out of himself.
The inspector merely stared at the hockey stick, wide-eyed, the colour draining from his face.
“Inspector? Are you all right?” I touched the man’s shoulder, but he didn’t appear to notice.
Slowly, he dropped to his knees and reached a shaking hand out toward the stick.
“Inspector! Don’t touch it!” Saggot shouted. “You don’t know where it’s been!”
The inspector looked up as his fellow officer, his face now suffused with brilliant colour.
Angry colour if I know my shades.
And I do.
The bushy brows had lowered threateningly as well. My late husband used to assume the same expression. I called it ‘dropping his visor’. I choked back a laugh.
“Saggot!” the inspector barked. “You’re off this case!”
The rotund policeman blinked. “But . . .”
“You heard me! Go wait in the car!”
“But . . . sir . . .!”
“Go. Now. Or. I’ll. Have. Your. Badge. And. Gun.”
I was suddenly glad this trim officer wasn’t looking at me. I was almost ready to hand him my badge and gun.
If I’d had either.
Saggot turned and fumbled with the door handle.
“Oh, for Heaven’s sake, can’t you even open a door? What are our boys in blue coming to?” Norma again.
Saggot froze, his mouth dropping open. His hand dropped from the knob and he stared as it turned smoothly without him. A moment later, the door swung wide, bumping into the stunned man.
“There you go!” Norma wasn’t wasting any time.
Saggot’s mouth snapped shut and, without a backward glance, he bolted outside.
The door closed smartly behind him, rattling the glass.
The inspector had risen to his feet, his arms clasped around the hockey stick. He looked toward the door, then shook his head and turned to me. “Could you ask your sister who . . .” he swallowed hard. “. . . who gave her this stick?”
“Norma . . .”
“I heard him!” Norma snapped.
“Well you don’t have to get snippy with me. I’m just the messenger.”
A sigh. “Fine. I’m sorry!”
“You don’t sound sorry.”
“Well I am! What do you want? You want it in writing?”
“Yes, I do.” I folded my arms across my chest.
A paper appeared out of nowhere, and drifted to the floor.
I scooped it up and turned it over. ‘I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!!!!!!!!’ was written across it in Norma’s distinct scrawl, and, at the bottom, ‘You haven’t changed Reggie’s paper today.’
“Drat, Reggie!” I shouted. “He’s your stupid bird! You look after him!”
“I can’t! He’s afraid of me!”
“Well then, he’s finally gotten some sense!”
A distinct sniff. “That wasn’t very nice.”
“Norma! This isn’t very nice! Talking to you in the air. Having policemen barging into my home, speculating on my possible proclivity for murder and mayhem.”
“Ooh! Proclivity. Good word, Sis.”
“Thank you.”
“Oh, you may need this.”
A roll of toilet paper appeared much the same as the hockey stick and sorry note. It bounced a couple of times and came to rest against the inspector’s shoe.
“Why’d you take that with you?”
“Well, one doesn’t know, does one? I mean, isn’t it best to always be prepared?”
I picked up the roll. “I guess.”
“May I speak?”
I looked at the inspector and shrugged. “I guess so.”
“Norma?” He looked up into the air.
“I’m over here, sitting in the chair.”
Both of us leaned over and peered through the doorway into the living room. Reggie, his colorful feathers slicked down tight stared back at us.
“I got tired of standing around. I needed to sit down.”
“Oh.” Still clutching the hockey stick in both arms, the Inspector maneuvered through the entry and moved hesitantly inside.
“Have a seat.”
“Okay.” He shuffled toward one of the chairs.
“Not this one. I’m in it!”
“Norma, how is he supposed to know! You’re being woefully unwelcoming. You’re usually a bit more hospitable than this.”
There was a pause. Then, “You’re right. I’m sorry. Please take the blue chair, Inspector. It’s a bit more spacious and comfortable. Then we can have a nice, cozy chat.”
He perched gingerly on the indicated seat.
“So you want to know where the hockey stick came from?”
The inspector looked down at the stick clutched tightly in his arms, then over at the chair opposite. “I think I do.”
“A rather nice young man gave it to me.”
The man caught his breath and his eyes filled with tears. “A young man, you say?”
“Yes.” There was a pause and Norma’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Yes, I’ll tell him.” Speaking normally once more, she went on. “He’s here now, Inspector. Would you like to talk to him?”
The man looked like he’d just seen the coming of the Lord. Tears spilled down his cheeks. “C-can I?”
“Well, I think so. I’m not really sure how these things work.”
“Inspector?” The voice was husky, soft. A young man’s voice.
“Yes. It’s me. Inspector Wilson. Who . . . who are you?”
“You know me as Benny, Inspector.”
The man sucked in in a quick, sobbing breath. “Benny?”
“You’ve been looking for me for a long time.”
“You were my first, Benny. The case I just couldn’t solve. You’ve . . . pardon the expression . . . haunted me for over forty years!””
The young man laughed. “Well, I appreciate that you kept on trying. I know it was hard for my parents, not knowing.”
“You just . . . disappeared.”
A sigh. “Well, I can finally tell you. I was playing hockey on the ice on the lake and fell through. I know it was stupid to be there by myself, but I wanted to practice something new on my own. The recruiters were coming and I just had to impress them!”
“So you weren’t kidnapped. Or murdered. Or a runaway.”
“Nope. Just stupid. I’m so sorry.”
“I never figured it out. You were supposed to be at training. It never even occurred to me you were training. Just by yourself.”
“Can you tell them, Inspector? So they can finally stop . . . wondering.”
“I . . . yes, I can.”
“Thanks, Inspector.”
“Thank you, Benny.” The inspector mopped at his face with his sleeve.
I pulled a long piece from the toilet paper roll and handed it to him.
He nodded his thanks. “Benny?”
“He’s gone, Inspector,” Norma said.
He shook his head and set the hockey stick on his lap so he could blow his nose. “After all this time.”
I touched his shoulder. “What will you do?”
He smiled wryly. “Go and tell his parents.” He looked up at me. “If they’ll believe me.”
“Well I believe you,” I said.
“And I do as well!” Norma added.
“Well of course you’d believe, you silly old girl. You’re there with him!”
“Oh sure. Cloud the issue with facts!”
“I think I’ll be going,” the inspector said, getting to his feet. “Erm . . . can I take the stick?”
I shrugged. “Norma?”
“Well I don’t want it. What would I do with it?”
I sighed. “Yes, take it.” I followed him through the foyer. “Good luck.”
The door opened on its own as he approached it. He shook his head, then paused just inside. “I’ve been working on this case my whole life. It’s hard to take in.”
“Well take it in and close the door! Reggie will get a chill!”
I rolled my eyes. “I apologize for my sister, Inspector.”
“No need.” He looked at me. “I’ll be in touch.”
He pulled the door shut behind him.
I turned just as another paper appeared, fluttering to the floor. I picked it up.
'Bird cage', it said.
I sighed and headed for the living room.

Enjoying this episode of the Sputterling Sisters?
Catch up with them here:
Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, 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.  
At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them. 

My words for October:   colorful ~ spacious ~ brilliant ~ woefully
They were submitted by:

Now go and see what the others have done with the challenge!

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Ready to work.
If you look closely, you'll note the absence of glasses.
And the presence of the band-aid.
     Before I get Started: 1. My new boyfriend had a medical condition I wasn’t aware of.
           2. The world refused to coalesce into remotely recognizable shapes when I wasn’t wearing my glasses.
           3. I was vain.
There. I think I’ve covered all of the bases.
Would you care to try to convene these statements into a story?
I’m almost sure it would be better than mine.
Fine . . .
My new boyfriend was ‘working’ for my Dad.
Which meant that he spent a lot of time on the ranch, following me around, and occasionally did some actual work.
On this bright summer afternoon, we had been assigned the arduous task of moving the milk cow from her pasture on the east side of the buildings to the more convenient pasture on the west side.
We were on foot.
He was heeling.
I was heading.
Which meant that I was in the front to get in the way if said cow decided to turn in the wrong direction.
He was behind in case she suddenly felt that she couldn’t bear to leave her former pasture.
I should probably mention here that I always wore glasses. There’s nothing more embarrassing than discovering after a lengthy, one-sided conversation, that the person you are talking to is actually the neighbour’s mule.
I will say only that he was a good listener.
Back to my story . . .
On this bright and sunny afternoon, I had removed my glasses because I was trying to improve my tan lines. Large, white, goggle-shaped circles on one’s face weren’t conducive to beauty.
Oh, I also had a band-aid on my nose for the same reason.
Let's not talk about this any more . . .
At first all went well.
Then, they didn’t.
I ran ahead to stand as a human shield when the cow crossed over the entrance to the ranch buildings.
Once I was in position, I turned to ascertain progress.
The cow had turned and was heading back to familiar ground.
Boyfriend had disappeared.
I quickly ran up the road, got around the retreating animal and turned her back in the right direction.
Then spent the next twenty minutes sweating, hollering and cursing.
Oh yes. I cursed. For the whole story, read here. It’s not a pretty tale, but we’ll wait till you get back . . .
Finally, I had the stupid, perverse, ornery, cantankerous, belligerent, of-questionable-heritage, stupid (I repeat the word, deliberately) animal where she needed to go.
Daddy picked me up for the short ride to the ranch buildings.
And that’s when I remarked that my boyfriend, he of the dubious intelligence, had abandoned me.
Had just disappeared.
Dad frowned.
He turned into the drive to the ranch.
Then stopped.
Shoved the truck into reverse.
And, tires squealing, sped back along the main road.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Your boyfriend,” Dad said, coming to a skidding stop.
And there he was. My boyfriend. Lying in the ditch.
How had I missed that?
Oh, right. Glasses.
Turns out that he had a medical condition that caused him, at times, to faint.
Who knew?
Fortunately, he had simply slid down into the soft, thick grass that lined the ditch and slept peacefully in the warm sun until we discovered him.
Dad got him up and we helped him make his woozy way to the truck.
By the time we reached the ranch buildings, he was well on his way back to normalcy.
After we had gotten him seated on the couch and supplied with drinks and eats, Dad turned to me. “Glasses,” he said simply.
 I nodded sheepishly and went to fetch them.
I learned something from this:
         1. When acquiring a new boyfriend, always ascertain health concerns.
         2.  Don’t ever try to outguess your optician.
         3. Don’t be vain.
       You learned it here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


When you’re canoeing with your spouse,
‘Cause you must ‘get out of the house!’,
When falling in that cold, wet stream,
The honest thing to do is scream.

When movies reach a fever pitch,
With scary scenes that make you twitch,
And monsters to freeze your bloodstream,
The proper thing to do is scream.

Your lotto ticket, you have scratched,
And all your numbers are a match,
So coming true are all your dreams,
You’re right, the thing to do is scream.

When standing in the line to see,
Your heartthrob sing like a banshee,
Then he’s right there! His teeth agleam,
The coolest thing to do is scream.

Your day has gone from bad to worse,
You feel you’re underneath a curse,
The last straw: Toddler. Diaper cream.
The healthy thing to do is scream.

Now it’s October, ghosts abound,
And goblins, too, so you have found,
They’re on your street and on a theme,
They’re out to scare you. Yes, please scream.

Once a month, Karen and friends (ie. us) become poem-ists.
On a theme.
This month? Scream!
Do it. It's fun!

Visit the others and see what they have done . . .

Karen of Baking In A Tornado: You Scream
Dawn of Cognitive Script: A Bootiful Scream

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Happily (?) Wed

Still in a poetry mood.
Another of my Dad's favourite stories. 
And, who knows . . . maybe it happened . . .?

They’d been married one week, plus a day,
Sylvester and his good wife, May.
And May thought she should mark the date,
With something special for her mate.

A chicken dinner was her plan
She dug out pot and frying pan,
Consulted her mom’s recipes,
For gastronomic ecstasies.

All afternoon, she cooked and stirred,
By her love for her Sylvester, spurred,
At last she had the table set,
With goodies from her kitchenette.

She heard his step upon the stair,
And quickly pulled him to his chair,
He saw the things that she had done
And gently hugged his Honey-bun.

They ate enthusiastically,
Of fluffy spuds and buttered peas,
And other dishes by the score,
Each one, another to adore.

But when the crowning dish arrived,
So very prettily contrived,
He carved, and laid the pieces down,
And poured out fine, rich gravy; brown.

Then the anticipated taste,
And, suddenly, his smile displaced.
“My dear,” he said, with quite a sniff,
“What did you stuff the chicken with?”

She smiled upon him brilliantly,
Then sighed and answered blissfully,
“That part, I didn’t have to follow,
For the chicken wasn’t hollow!”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Love's Harvest

The prayers for rain had ended and the prayers for sun commenced,
Throughout the farming year, the pleas for either kept us tense.
The harvest was upon us and the grain was ripened gold,
The time was short to gather in before the snow and cold.

Most of the farmers had commenced. Their silos being filled.
But Ross’ sat neglected. He’d spent the summer ill.
His neighbours eyed his quiet fields and shook their heads. “When done,
I’ll go and help poor Ross,” they said, “One cannot waste the sun!”

That Sunday, those attending church received a big surprise,
When the Bishop told them: On the morrow, snow would fly.
“I know the Sabbath is for God,” he said, and then he grinned.
“But today I’ll harvest Ross’ crops. Now who can I count in?”

The meetings were abandoned. The run for trucks became a race,
And one, by one, combines and grain trucks came to Ross’ place.
While the men and boys were driving, girls and women, too,
Make thick, delicious sandwiches and ladled bowls of stew.

Now dew can halt a harvest, one needs dry to get the grain,
And as the light began to fade, they eyed the sky again.
But in the west an arch appeared, a chinook had filled the sky,
A promise they could carry on, that they’d stay warm and dry.

Throughout the night, they harvested, not one got any sleep,
And by the morning, they had won, there was nothing left to reap.
Tired, but glad, they filed home and into slumber swept,
The promised snow appeared and dropped two inches while they slept.

Only Ross of all those men had gotten in his grain,
But nary one of those who helped did fret, grip or complain,
Indeed, that day, through service, what they gained could not be bought,
For those who gave so willingly, a real Love’s Harvest had been got.

Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we three besought,
To try to make the week begin,
With gentle thoughts--perhaps a grin?
So Jenny and Delores, we,
Now post our poems for you to see.

And when you’ve read what we have brought,
Did we help? Or did we not . . .

And next week in our neighbourhood,
We tackle 'History'. It will be good!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Indictable at 10

The Victim
The question was innocent enough. “Daddy? How old were you when you started driving?”
The answer was anything but.
Innocent, that is.
Let’s leave Dad there for a moment while I explain something . . .
Okay, I know that, for most people, learning to drive begins at the ripe old age of 14.
In the farming and ranching community, however, it’s a tad different.
Farm and ranch kids start driving as soon as they can see over the dashboard.
Oh, never on real roads.
But in the fields, especially during seeding and harvest, they are needed.
Back to my question . . .
“I was ten,” he told me. “I learned how to drive when I was ten. And then I stole a car.”
Now there’s something you don’t hear every day. I stared at him. “Ummm . . . okay . . . details, please?”
He sighed and smiled. “My buddies, Bernard and DeVere, and I were walking home from school. Grade five.”
“I’m with you so far.” He had my total attention.
“And we were walking past DeVere’s house. And there, parked in the driveway, was DeVere’s dad’s car. A Model A Ford."
"With the keys inside.”
I should explain that people did that back in the thirties. Crime hadn’t been invented yet. Moving on . . .
“Bernard said, ‘Let’s take your dad’s car for a ride!’” Dad said. “At first, there was a bit of discussion.” He smiled. “DeVere didn’t think it was such a good idea.”
“Understandable.” I shook my head.
“But we talked him into it with: ‘we’ll only be a few minutes’ and ‘just around the block’. Things like that. Then we all piled in and I started the engine.”
“So you were the actual thief.”
“That’s what I said.” Dad grinned at me.
“ ‘Let’s take turns!’ Bernard said. When he took over, DeVere suddenly sat up and said he’d forgotten something. We looked at him. Bernard said, ‘What did you forget?’ And DeVere said, ‘I forgot to stay home!’”
“We drove past my house and into the country and things went well for a few minutes. Then suddenly, DeVere pointed at a car coming toward us and shouted, ‘THAT’S UNCLE ALVIN!’ Sure enough, it was. His uncle stared at us as we drove past. ‘STOP!’ he bellowed. I guess this family always talks in exclamations. ‘WE HAVE TO GET HOME!’ DeVere hollered. “WE HAVE TO GET THERE BEFORE HE DOES!’ We did a quick turn and headed back to town, certain that Uncle Alvin was hot on our heels. But he wasn’t. We pulled into the drive, parked and got out. And never saw any sign of Uncle Alvin. Then or later.”
I stared at my Dad. “That’s it? That’s the whole story?”
He nodded.
“Oh.” I hate to say I was disappointed, but I was. Somehow, I was picturing sirens and heart-stopping chase-scenes and dust flying as cars made nearly impossible turns on sketchy country roads.
Then I thought of those three ten-year-old boys.
I guess this is better.

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!

Search This Blog

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?