Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, November 16, 2018

Left at the Fork

As is usual in our home, the day started out quite normally.
But those of you who know Sally, also know this can only mean ‘something’ is coming.
In Sally’s patented roundabout way.
Sally’s and my school was hosting a bake sale. Proceeds to be used to buy a pair of goats for a little village somewhere in Nigeria.
So Mom and I were baking up the proverbial storm. Cakes, cookies, squares. All in a charitable effort to provide . . . charity. Initially, Sally had been helping. Then we asked her to do something else.
Somewhere else.
Because . . . reasons. Also . . . Sally.
I’m assuming she retired to the front room because shortly after she left us, the TV began to blare at about 150 decibels. Clash of the Titans. I’d know it anywhere.
Frowning sharply, Mom had raised her sticky hands into the air and marched in there.
As the sound was almost instantly halved and Mom returned still with sticky hands but minus the frown, I assume she had successfully curbed Sally’s nine-or-nothing impulse to volume control.
Peace was restored and everyone was happy.
We went back to work.
Some 90 minutes later, Mom and I had managed to bake—and frost—some four cakes, 14 dozen cookies and three large sheets of squares.
I was in the process of wrapping up those things deemed cool enough to . . . erm . . . wrap up.
Mom was mixing yet another batch of brownies.
Then, from the front room, we heard the scrape of chair legs, followed almost immediately by thumping and the sounds of battle.
All right, yes, the sounds of men and hardware were purportedly coming from the television, but there were enough local reverberations to convince both Mom and me that the movie battle currently broadcasting wasn’t confined to the screen.
We looked at each other.
“Should I . . .” Mom started to say.
That was as far as she got.
From the front room came shout of, “A Titan against a Titan!”
And, also from the front room, a huge thump, then a moment of silence.
For those of us in the kitchen, it quickly became all too apparent what that tiny moment of silence actually meant, as something long and pointy flew into the kitchen in a great, graceful arch, neatly snagging one of the two ‘iffy’ legs on the laden table.
I probably don’t need to elucidate vis-à-vis said legs because those of you who know Sally, would also know why we have a lame table.
Moving on . . .
For a moment, the table teetered on two sound and two less-sound legs.
Instinctively, I dove for it, but misgauged my trajectory and managed—rather than to right it as had been my intention—to push it to its ultimate doom.
The weakened legs folded like wilted lettuce.
Packages of baking slid to the floor in an unhurried, sweet-smelling avalanche.
Mom and I stared at the heap. Then, as one, turned to stare at the architect of our doom.
A pitchfork, still with one of the table legs clutched in its tines, lay on the far side of the kitchen, its innocent, supine position belying its former destructive-ness.
Sally appeared in the doorway. “Oops.”
If looks could skewer, Sally would have been a goner. “A pitchfork?!” Mom shouted. “Where the h-e-double-hockey-sticks did you get a pitchfork?!”
Uh-oh. Mom almost swore. Mom never almost swears.
A journey someplace far away was indicated. Sally disappeared.
Mom was two steps behind her.
I started to pick up packages.
Yep. Just another day.

P.S. Most of the baking survived the ‘clash’.
I’m not so sure about Sally…

Each month, Karen's followers exchange words.
It's fun.
And entertaining.
This month, my words were: bake ~ everyone ~ roundabout ~ journey ~ titan 
And were given to me by my good friend, Jules at The Bergham Chronicles

Now hop over and see what the others have done with their words! 
Baking In A Tornado                            
The Bergham Chronicles                         
The Blogging 911                                      
Cognitive Script                                      
Part Time Working Hockey Mom              
Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                         

Thursday, November 15, 2018

When Love Makes the Difference

Our family was watching ET. Again.
We love it.
And it brought back the memory of that first time. Back in 1982...
Okay, he's cute!
Our family was at the movies.
We had popcorn and treats.
Soft drinks.
And the quickest route to the bathroom mapped into our heads.
We were ready.
Erik was four and a little more than eager.
The theater darkened slowly.
Expectation grew.
They don't do this anymore, but in times past, every step to the opening of a movie served to heighten the anticipation to a fever pitch.
Slowly lowered lights.
Projector springing to life.
Train of white light beamed on the still-closed curtains.
Said curtains slowly drawing back.
Pictures suddenly appearing.
It was inspired.
Everyone in the theater was transfixed.
Hands which only recently had been scrabbling (Grandpa's word) through the popcorn hung suspended, unmoving.
The audience waited, barely breathing, for the first signs of Movie.
And then it finally came, restoring breath and life to those watching.
And they were truly prepared to be entertained. Even bewitched.
Our movie that night was ET. The story about the little Extra Terrestrial.
It began . . .
Cute little kids and family interaction.
ET was introduced.
Erik crawled into my lap and announced in what he fondly believed was a whisper, “I don't like him. He's scary!”
Not scary enough that he wanted to leave, however.
He watched as the children in the movie befriended the helpless, stranded little alien.
Adopted him.
Loved him.
(Spoiler alert . . .)
He cried when ET 'died'.
And cried, again, when he came back to life.
At the end of the movie, he sighed happily and followed the rest of us out of the theater.
On the way home, as usual, we talked about the film and Erik posed the question, “Why was ET so much cuter at the end of the movie than at the beginning?”
I stared at him. “He was just the same, sweetie.”
“No. He was cuter at the end.”
We thought about it. How could something that really never changed in looks get 'better' looking?
And then it hit me. “Because, at the end, you loved him, sweetie.”
“Oh. Right.”
And it was true. The ugly little alien remained ugly until we got to know him.
Loved him.
And then we saw his beauty.
Truth comes best from a four-year-old.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


I know, to you, it prob’ly doesn’t seem a lot like cleaning,
But hear me out and I’ll explain the way that I am leaning,
I’m sure you will agree my method’s really quite efficient,
You cannot argue with results—spectacularly . . . sufficient.

Each day I open up the fridge and reach for something yummy,
Something pleasing to the taste and nourishing for my tummy,
But often times, I reach right past the ghosts of yesterdays,
Those things once fresh but whose appeal has long been passed away,

Now listen close, cause here’s the point that I was getting to,
That remarkable technique that you should really not eschew,
It’s amazingly efficient and effective, you will see,
And best of all it takes so little energy from me!

Once a year, I open up the ‘frigerator door,
And loudly contact all the food that wasn’t there before,
“All you with arms and legs and sense, I’m sorry to aggrieve,
But every one of you will have to pack their bags and leave!”

Each month all Karen's friends will gather, writing on a theme,
And sometimes genius burns and sometimes inspiration gleams,
At times we may be silly or find purpose when we're done,
But one thing that is certain is we all are having fun!

Hop over and see what the others have done with this month's theme: Cleaning Out the Fridge!
Karen of Baking In A Tornado: Clean Out Your Fridge Day
Dawn of Cognitive Script: Out With The Fuzzy
Lydia of Cluttered Genius: Clean that Fridge

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Best of the Worst

Let’s just say that ‘gambler’ wasn’t in the cards for him.
Maybe I should explain . . .
It was game night at the Tolleys.
Something that happened . . . often.
The night’s game of choice? Spoons. A fairly uncomplicated game ideal for the large family.
Which we were.
One reduces the deck of cards to one set of four for each person playing. Thus, if eight of you are playing, the deck consists of eight sets of four cards. Or 32.
Oh, and there are spoons in the middle of the table (hence, the name) numbering one less than the persons playing. Why this is so will become clear.
The cards are shuffled and dealt. Four to a player. The idea is to then pass them one at a time (and in unison) to whoever is seated to your left, keeping only those cards you wish to ‘collect’.
The goal is to be the first to get all four cards the same.
And to then grab one of the spoons placed temptingly in the center of the table.
As soon as that first player grabs a spoon, everyone else at the table then does likewise, trying to not be the one who misses out.
A-ha! Now the reason for the one less spoon become apparent.
Because the person who doesn't manage to grab a spoon receives a letter.
In our family, the letters received eventually spelled out ‘horse’.
And woe be unto anyone who collected all five.
Because you were then ‘out’.
Whatever that meant.
No one in our household ever achieved that landmark.
And now on to my story. You must have realized that all this was leading somewhere . . .
Sooo . . . game night.
And Spoons.
Middle son, Duffy, was getting into the game. He had already collected a couple of letters and was trying his best to not further his losing streak.
Someone snatched a spoon.
Everyone followed madly behind.
And a letter was ‘rewarded’.
There was some laughter and the spoons were replaced and the cards re-shuffled.
Then eldest daughter suddenly pointed to the center of the table. “There’s one spoon missing!” she said.
True enough. There were only six when there should have been seven.
A short search was initiated.
Duffy pointed across the table. “You should probably lo . . .” That was as far as he got.
Because the missing spoon slid out of his sleeve to land with an incriminating little ‘click’ on the polished tabletop.
“Erm . . .”
Remember that part where I predicted he’d never become a gambler?
Now you know why.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Someplace Warm

The winds were blowing awful fierce,
Forecast predicting something worse,
The snow was falling thickly down,
And ice encased our little town.

We were feeling cold’s effects
And hunkered down like freezing wrecks,
All bemoaned our precious health,
Cause it was just September twelfth!

I scurried past the travel place,
Its sunny posters in the case,
They were not meant as an insult,
Though that is how they really felt!

I tried to peer across the street,
And felt as though I had been beat-
en. Standing in the cold and storm,
I imagined someplace warm.

I found my car and cleaned it off,
Then took a breath, began to cough,
Cheated as I could ever get,
We hadn’t finished summer yet!

I eased my car into the night,
Of honking horns and dulled headlights,
Then driving slowly through the storm,
I imagined someplace warm.

It took a while to find my street,
Trust me, by then I was beat!
With windows iced and brakes all locked,
Felt that I drove a curling rock.

I parked the car, forced back the door,
I tell you, it was quite a chore.
Then up the sidewalk, slip and slide,
I hurried just to get ‘inside’!

My fingers and my nose were blue!
I turned the lock and darted through,
Then stopped and blinked—well, once or twice,
I’d just walked into paradise!

A fire, warm, burned in the grate,
And supper waited, there aplate,
I felt protected from all harm,
I’d finally found my ‘someplace warm’!

Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we three besought,
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thoughts--perhaps a grin?
So Jenny and Delores, we,
Have posted poems for you to see.
And now you've seen what we have brought . . .
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Next week, we three will use our skills,
To talk about the things we build!

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?