Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Little Lego Lost

We’d been staying in a lovely resort in beautiful Banff, Alberta. 

(This resort has everything. Comfortable rooms with every amenity. Pool. Sauna. Play rooms. Workout rooms. Squash courts. Tennis courts. Mountain bike borrowing. Nearby everything. And happy, helpful people.)

But no by-the-minute maid service.
On with my story . . .
Okay. Now picture it lost.
The Lego Kitty was lost.
The world had ended.
Everything is a tragedy when you’re three.
And Little Girl (LG) was three.
I told LG, "It'll show up. When you clean up."
“But I don’t want to clean up,” she told me with little girl logic.
I countered with old lady logic. “Well, when you’re done playing, you will have to clean up.”
The small lower lip came out and she turned away and continued to play.
A day or two later, we were packing the apartment for the inevitable checking-out.
Lego kitty still hadn’t had the grace or good manners to show up.
Tears threatened at the thought of leaving the minuscule – but highly important – toy behind.
A search was initiated. With little success.
I repeated my mantra. “It’ll show up. When you clean up.”
Fortunately, Mom had my back. She nodded. “Let's try it. Let’s clean up.”
Sighing heavily, the now-put-upon LG started picking up her Legos.
In a short time, all were safely stowed in their handy-dandy little Lego-shaped box. The floor lay, pristine and clean.
Still no kitty.
I could see the doubt starting in the big, hazel eyes.
“Okay,” I said, “Let’s move the sofa!”
Mom pushed and I pulled and VOILA a little, gray kitty appeared.
LG pounced on it and held it up triumphantly. “It’s here!” She crowed happily. “When you clean up, it shows up!” She tucked the toy in with its brothers and sisters and packed her box away.
I looked at her mother and we both smiled.
Once in a while, you have a good parenting moment.
And sometimes, you have to wait a while. A generation, in fact.
I’ll take it.
P.S. On several different occasions, I've heard LG, now 8, telling her cousins that, 'If you clean up. It'll show up!'
With varying degrees of success.
We'll keep at it...

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


Daddy, Big Brother George. And me.
I'm the one in the curlers...

Near Misses:
1. When I was just two, Bobby the Cow (the queen of the barnyard) and I had a disagreement. I lost. Turns out she hates children. Who knew?
2. Did you know that mothers are capable of scaling a 100 foot TV tower in mere seconds? They just need toddler-at-the-top motivation. True story.
3. When butchering chickens, it’s probably best if four-year-olds remain somewhere out of the picture. Chicken heads have been known to cause varying degrees of trauma.
4. Chicken-traumatized children would also much rather wrestle 1500-pound bulls than venture into the dreaded chicken house to retrieve eggs from underneath 3-pound bundles of nastiness.
5. Graduation from one’s pony to one’s brother’s spritely gelding may not be all that wonderful. Though it may guarantee a medical emergency ride on Dad’s amazing stallion.
6. When vaccinating calves, always remember the large crossbar of the cattle squeeze. And remember, too, to always look up. Believe me, your nose will thank you.
7. When crossing the barbed-wire fences on a ranch, long pants and good balance are a necessity. Although impressive thigh-to-ankle scars make for a good story…
8. Okay, this wasn’t me, but I heard and it’s still a good lesson: Even from the distance of the house roof, don’t pee on the electric fence.
9. When moving a cow herd across sideless bridges, make quite sure there is a bull’s tail in the immediate vicinity. Your bones will bless you. And it.
10. It’s important to note that even polled (hornless) cow heads are capable of significant damage when they meet human heads. Just ask my traumatized mother. Or me.

Word Counters is a monthly challenge from Karen at Baking in a Tornado and her gang.

Each of us submits a number and the lucky recipient uses that number to craft...something.
It's so fun!
This month, my number is 28 and it came from my awesome friend, Sarah at Writer Sarah Nolan

Monday, November 18, 2019

Night Riders

I was ten, and George was twelve,
And Jerry close to fifteen,
And Chris, the eldest of us all,
The grand old age of sixteen.
But most important, she could drive,
She’d just received her permit,
And we were planning something grand,
On roads of dirt. And moonlit.
Yes, we were going into town,
The first time without parents,
To see a movie, cruise down main,
Just fun. (And not aberrant.)
And all went just as we had planned
Then much too soon, our ‘party’
Was done and we were headed home,
Feeling all grown up and smart-y.
But partway there, the fuel line,
Well, it just disconnected,
But nimble fingers went to work,
And soon it was corrected.
A little further on, we stopped
Cause now the tank was dry,
On such a dark and lonely road,
When no one lived nearby!
But then some lights! Who could it be?
Our neighbours, soon it prov-ed,
Had made their annual trip to town,
To do whate’re behoov—ed. 
They tumbled from their ancient truck,
“Now, kidsh, whash ish the matter?”
When we explained, they laughed and then,
They started in to chatter…
“Don’t worry kidsh, we’ve got a shain,
We’ll help you in a jiffy!”
We kids could smell the liquor,
(And were feeling rather ‘iffy’.)
But soon they’d gotten out their chain,
And wrapped it round our frame,
Our sister drove like Mario,
The speeds were nigh the same!
They dropped us off in our barnyard,
And waved to us so cheerful,
We kids trooped over to the house,
To give our folks an earful!
I often contemplate that night,
And think what might have been,
When neighbours came and saved us all
By appearing on the scene!
Though, it was a little scary and
it was a bit insane,
Driving 50 m.p.h.
On 12 short feet of 'shain'!

Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought,
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thoughts. Perhaps a grin?
So Mother Owl, Jenny and Mimi,
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, because I Think it’s fun,
We’ll talk of WINDOWS. Everyone!

Saturday, November 16, 2019


It was time for another 'cousins' sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's.
Between you and me, the term 'sleepover' is a misnomer.
It should totally be changed to 'wake'over.
Just sayin'...
Sooo...cousins. Here.
Number? 10.
That means grandparents were outnumbered by five times.
Age range? 6 to 14. Or every local grandchild not currently in a diaper.
The schedule?
Spaghetti supper: By Grandpa.
Visiting around the supper table: Everyone.
Old Bugs Bunny cartoons: Grandpa.
Stories and songs and 'bedtime' for the younger half: Grandma.
Skull King for the older half: Grandpa.
More Skull King plus Sherlock Holmes movies and visiting until nearly time to get up for breakfast: Grandma. (Smart Grandpa was snoring happily in bed during this period.)
Dollar pancakes with sausages and scrambled eggs: Grandpa.
Visiting over the breakfast table: Everyone.
Playing and/or visiting: Everyone.
Kisses and hugs and see-ya-soon-I-love-yous at the door as parents arrive for the pick-up: Everyone.
Naptime: Grandpa and Grandma.
Things went fairly smoothly. Several of the older cousins are deep into Dungeons and Dragons and were schooling the next group in creating their characters/bad guys/good guys.
The younger set was playing stuffies/school/???
I found these on the younger girls’ door.
Maybe you can help me figure it out...

Well...according to this, at least the boys will be safe...

Friday, November 15, 2019


Have I mentioned that Sally never—ever—has any good ideas.
Maybe I should re-word: Sally has awesome ideas, but they never come to anything ‘good’.
Oh, she often has good intentions.
But the outcome seldom is what any normal person could predict.
I mean, it was only last week that she, ably encouraged and abetted by her boyfriend Mort and our Cousin Ruth, managed to turn an innocent celebration of all things ‘pirate’ into a ‘sink-the-enemy’s-ship’ debacle. Sending The Adventure Slide Park’s life-sized model of the Jolly Roger to Whatshisname’s locker.
I can still see the look on Mom’s face when I fished her out from under her bed and told her.
Then there was today, for another example . . .
It started out as an innocent shopping expedition.
We needed milk.
And eggs.
Such normal activities, right?
But Sally insisted on coming along.
For a while, all was well. We entered the store like normal people. Wandered the aisles. Perused shelves and produce.
Collected. Purchased. Bagged.
And left.
I remember pausing in the doorway on the way out. So this is what ‘normal’ is like.
As I stood there, I noticed store employees popping out all over like tree buds. Employees who had been noticeably absent while Sally had been in the store.
Hmmmm . . .
I turned and followed Sally across the parking lot.
We walked along the sidewalk toward home, each laden with a couple of grocery bags.
It was a warm day. The sun was shining. I could hear birds in the trees, singing madly at each other.
It felt, for want of a better word . . . normal.
We were walking along the high, page-wire fence that enclosed the long-abandoned Paxton’s Shoe Factory and warehouse.
Sally suddenly stopped and turned toward the great, grey-weathered, windowless structure.
I stopped behind her. “What is it?”
“I heard something.”
I put on my best ‘listening’ face and tipped my head toward Sally.
Huh. Someone was crying. Loudly.
“Do you hear that?”
“The crying?” I asked.
She gave a short nod, her eyes focused on the building.
Suddenly, she hooked both of her bags over her shoulders, grabbed the fence with long fingers and scaled it.
Like a monkey.
Or a spider.
I blinked, then hurried back the way we had come and went through the wide-open gate, shaking my head as I did so.
Trust Sally to make the showy entrance.
I joined her just as she darted through an entryway.
It proved to be a short walkway lined with rickety shelves that opened into a large central court, overgrown with weeds and the repository of many, many years’ worth of trash.
On the far side, we could plainly see a man standing over a girl. He was . . . well . . . not shouting, but talking loudly and poking her with a stick or something with every phrase.
She was cowering away from him, trying to push at the stick and sobbing heavily.
Sally didn’t pause for even a moment. She pulled the bags from her shoulders and, swinging them wildly, charged across the open space.
I took a deep breath and followed, not quite sure what the two of us were getting into.
I saw the bag in Sally’s right hand connect soundly with the man’s head, knocking him off balance.
Then before he could react, her left came around and laid him out.
I stopped and stared down at him.
His unconscious face wore a look of complete and utter surprise.
And fear.
As Sally stood triumphantly over him, grocery bags at the ready, the girl he had been abusing rose to her feet.
Tears seemingly forgotten, she asked, rather breathlessly, “What are you doing?”
Sally turned to her. “Helping.”
“But . . .”
“CUT!” someone roared.
Sally and I turned toward the voice and noticed, for the first time, the cameras and crew lined up in the shadows along the far wall.
One rather red-faced man was advancing toward us followed by someone with a clipboard and someone else carrying a little case of something.
I’m not really sure, but I think the first man may have had steam coming from his rather prominent ears.
He stopped beside the guy on the ground. “Is he dead, Brady?”
The person with the little case knelt down. “No, just stunned, I think. He’s coming around now.”
The man then turned to Sally. The words that exited his mouth contained more than a few expletives, so I will edit. “What the ********************** are you doing?!”
Sally looked at him calmly. “Helping.”
“Helping?! ********************** who are you **************************** helping?!”
She pointed toward the girl, who was frantically shaking her head.
The man took a deep breath. “I could have you ************************ arrested and charged! I could . . .”
“Mr. Armin, sir? I think you should see this . . .”
The man turned. One of his cameramen was gesturing.
He gave one last glare to Sally, then with a brief “We ain’t ************************** finished with this, yet, Honey,” he started toward his cameraman.
The two men stood by the camera, looking at the screen.
A short conversation followed in which the words, ‘natural’, ‘born-for-this’ and ‘magic’ featured prominently.
Mr. Armin slowly retraced his steps, stopping beside Sally once more. “Ummm . . . sooo . . . would you like a job?” he asked.
It was the first time in my life I can remember Sally speechless.
I took the opportunity. “Hey, Sally. Were you carrying the eggs?”

Today is a word challenge.
Karen’s Girls, as we affectionately call ourselves supply words to our intrepid leader. Who then shuffles and re-distributes. 
We can then craft our given words into whatever we see fit.
Fact. Fiction.
The choice is ours.
This month, my words were: 
warehouse ~ crying ~ short ~ shelves ~ fence
And given to me by my good friend Dawn at
Thanks so much, Dawn! Your words were awesome!
Now go and see what the others have done with their challenge...

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Low Language

At least one of us was a lady . . .
Dad always told me that foul language is a sign of a feeble mind. We'll go from there . . .
It was hot!
I was tired!
Give me a minute, I'm sure I can think of better excuses . . .
The milk cow had been quartered in the east pasture, waiting for her to 'freshen'. (A cowboy term for 'give birth'.)
I know.
Cowboys are weird.
Moving on . . .
Her moment was getting close and it was time for her move into closer quarters.
I was elected to do it.
On foot.
Dad dropped me off at the gate with specific instructions. "Just chase her along the ditch, past the ranch and into the near-west pasture." I nodded. Instructions received and understood.
He drove off.
Things went well at first.
Right up until we reached the ranch entrance.
Madame Cow (I use this term lightly) couldn't quite get into her head the part of our instructions that said, "PAST the ranch."
I should explain here that the entrance to the ranch was on the north side of the road. The ditch we were following toward the west was also on the north side of the road.
And, when the breach in the fence appeared, Madame Cow insisted on turning . . . north. Towards the buildings. I had to sprint around her (remember I was on foot) and turn her back towards the road.
At which time she took the corner and headed east up the ditch we had just come down.
Another sigh. A little more forceful this time. And accompanied by a "Stupid cow!"
I got around her (feet, again) and turned her back west.
She followed the fence and again turned towards the ranch.
Way wrong!
"Stupid, dumb cow!"
Back towards the road.
Please head west. Please?!
Nope. East.
*#$! Cow!
Just a little swear.
This went on for some time, and my language, I'm ashamed to say . . . worsened.
Or got more colorful. That would be the 'PC' term.
Remember, I was raised around hired men. Experts at the English language. Or at least a certain part of it.
Not an excuse, just a reason.
Again and again, I got round her and tried to head her in the correct direction.
Again and again, she . . . didn't.
And my language got more and more peppered with, shall we say, 'colorful metaphors'?
None of which explained to said cow exactly what I expected of her.
I have to admit that the poor animal was probably quite confused by this time.
There were the buildings. With hay and comfort.
Why were we going the other way?
Okay, strange human, I'll just go back where I came from.
Except that it would have probably sounded more like this:
In 'cow' of course.
Finally, after what seemed hours of chasing back and forth, and turning the air blue with . . . ahem . . . profanities (me, not her), the cow skipped past the ranch entrance and, wonder of wonders, walked right over to the proper field.
Okay, I'd rather go here, too . . .
Eureka! (real word)
I opened the gate and she stepped sedately through.
Then turned and looked at me.
Stupid human!
At least one of us had retained her gentility.
I closed the gate and started back towards the ranch, humming happily. All that had gone on before conveniently forgotten.
Dad's truck slid to a stop beside me. "Need a ride?"
I climbed in, still humming.
Dad drove for a moment. Then he said, not looking at me, "I got a real education this morning."
I looked at him, innocently, "Oh?"
"Yes. I discovered that my middle daughter knew words I didn't think she had even heard of."
"Oh." Very tiny voice, "You heard me?"
"Heard you! They heard you in town!"
That was all that was said.
It was never brought up again.
But I knew that Dad knew.
And he knew that I knew that he . . . never mind.
I'd like to say that I never used 'foul' language again, but I'd be lying.
For some reason, working with cows brings out the lowest form of expression.
Probably a good thing I don't work with them anymore.
And I should probably point out that swearing isn't an easy habit to get rid of.
Even now, years later, a very strange word will pop into my head.
I'm happy to report that it never makes it past my lips, but I feel some dismay in the fact that it appears at all.
I'm a work in progress.
I should have taken lessons from the cow.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Be Kind

Kindness is my motivating force for life!
In honour of World Kindness Day, a poem I wrote.
My talented son put it to music!

When I grow up, here's what I'll be
An astronaut in space.
A doctor or a farmer or
An athlete in a race.
A soldier or an engineer,
A miner in a mine.
No matter what I choose to be,
I'm choosing to Be Kind.

Be Kind. Be Kind.
That's how you were designed.
Be smart, be fun, be fast on the run...
But best of all, Be Kind.

Or maybe I could be a nurse,
A fireman, or cook,
A pilot or photographer,
A writer, writing books,
A vet-rin-ar-i-an who'd help
The animals I find,
No matter what I choose to be,
I'm choosing to Be Kind.

Be Kind,
Be Kind,
That's how you were designed,
Be smart, be fun, be fast on the run...
But best of all, Be Kind.

This post is part of a monthly challenge.
Why don't you head over and visit the other participants?
You know you want to...

Karen of Baking In A Tornado: Kindness of Strangers
Dawn of Spatulas On Parade: A Kinder Gentler World
Lydia of Cluttered Genius: TheyAin’t Your Friend

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Wrong Knife

Husby is a knife connoisseur.
A bona fide expert on all things sharp and/or pointy.
He and our son have a forge in the back yard and create their own.
Give lessons.
He could tell you the quality of the steel just by holding it. Could explain what the ‘tang’ is. (And no, it’s not a drink for astronauts.)
Soooo . . . Connoisseur and expert.
Usually, it’s a good thing.
Except when I’m cooking and using my favorite knife-for-all-occasions. The knife that fits my hand. And is sharp and pointy.
And does the job.
Inevitably as I'm working, Husby will enter the room and announce, to any who may want to hear (no one), that I am once again using the wrong knife.
The fact that he is still alive is testament to my restraint and/or his ability to stay just out of reach.
I can see the headstone now: Here Lies Husby. Stabbed With The Wrong Knife.
Moving on . . .
Today, the planets aligned.
The ‘I’s’ were dotted. The ‘T’s’ crossed.
My ducks were finally in a row.
My ship had come in.
Because Husby, he of the infinite knife wisdom, used a small paring knife to slice the block of cheese.
Eschewing the handy-dandy cheese knife sitting nearby.
His excuse? The paring knife was already dirty and he didn't want to dirty another.
The consequence? The knife broke. Just behind the stubby little tang that cheap knives are known for. (See? I was paying attention.)
But the best part - the very best part – is this:
For the first time ever, I was finally able to say, “You used the wrong knife!”
You’ll have to picture the glee and handsprings.

My day has come.
I'm buying a lottery ticket . . .

Monday, November 11, 2019

Glasses. And a Prayer

First pair.

Mom noticed I was squinting, that
I couldn’t read the signs,
It didn’t take her very long to see between the lines.

Her darling nine-year-old had early
Gotten her birthright,
And now she needed glasses to correct her poor eyesight.

I chose the frames I wanted, watched
The doctor hem and haw,
And finally was fitted without fanfare or hoopla.

For several weeks I wore them, then
One day they disappeared,
And I was back to ‘blindness’, or a ‘something else’ quite near.

Now I was at the church,
With lots of kids one afternoon,
And we were singing hymns and trying hard to stay in tune.

Then a teacher told a story from
The pulpit up the stair,
A story of a child who needed help. And offered prayer.

That tiny prayer was answered,
She was given what she sought,
And I began to think: to say a prayer was what I ought.

No sooner thought, then done, I folded
Up my arms and prayed,
‘Twas simple, but I hoped my need had duly been conveyed.

I opened up my eyes again,
It hadn’t taken long,
I smiled to myself and then went back to singing songs.

Then I noticed something sitting on
The pulpit, quietly,
It looked to be a shadow, and it interested me.

You have to know the span was far,
I really couldn’t see,
But still my eyes kept straying. Yes, it’s strange, you must agree.

And when the service ended, I
Went to investigate,
Hurrying through the throng because I really couldn’t wait.

And what was there? I’m sure you’ve guessed,
My glasses safe and sound,
My prayer had worked and, oh, my precious glasses had been found!

That was the first time I remember
Answers to a prayer,
O’er years and years, I now have used what had been started there.

T’was such a little thing, you know,
A prayer to find my specs,
And who could know that it would have such lasting, long effects.

Newer and . . . improved?

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?
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you've read what we have brought...
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Next week, because we have a few,
We'll talk of 'Neighbours' just for you!

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Perfect Pet

Look at that cute, fuzzy face!
For over thirty years, we raised Old English Sheepdogs.
To us, they are amazing.
Friendly. Energetic. Smart. Teachable. Protective. Gentle. Loyal.
And really, really fuzzy cute!
Our last breeding pair passed away several years ago.
For several years, the house that used to be overrun with large, hairy, four-legged beauties, was home to one.
The last puppy from our last litter.
Who, when this story starts, had just turned the grand old age of thirteen.
First, a little background...
When Aldo was just starting to eat solids, we noticed that he wasn't developing like his brothers and sisters. Something was definitely wrong. Concerned, we took him to the vet, who promptly announced that he had Parvovirus and should be put down – along with the rest of the puppies in the litter.
But I’m a veterinarian’s daughter. And his single symptom - diarrhea - just didn’t convince me that such was the case.
I put him in the bathroom in the care of my fifteen-year-old daughter.
For two days, she made sure the tiny puppy ate and drank – especially drank.
And then we discovered that he did just fine if he was fed adult dog food. That the puppy formula was simply too rich for those sensitive puppy innards.
We changed his diet. He began to thrive.
But the time spent together in that small room created a bond that we simply didn’t have the heart to try to break.
So Aldo stayed.
He was an amazing companion to all of us. And boasted a higher vocabulary than many people.
My daughter had him very, very well-trained.
We didn’t realize how well-trained until that day.
On to the story...
My daughter’s theatre job necessitated some late nights. That day was one of them as, following her production, she and her husband and co-workers struck the set.
It was very late indeed before they opened the front door of home.
Aldo, who usually waited quietly on the front hall carpet until his mistress got home, was nowhere to be seen.
There was evidence that he had been there. A few crumbs from a Dentabone were visible.
My daughter called him.
I should mention here that, at the time, Aldo was in perfect health. He just couldn’t hear any more.
Unsruprisingly, there was no answering scramble of dog feet.
She went to the back door – which had been left open into the sunroom.
There she noticed something else. The screen door of the sunroom was slightly open.
When Husby installed that door, he put brightly-coloured strips of hard plastic at intervals across the screen so Aldo wouldn’t run into it and harm himself – or anything else.
Ironically, Aldo figured out how to open the door – using those handy strips of plastic. And his all-purpose doggie nose.
There is only one drawback. He hasn’t yet figured out how to close the door afterward.
She went into the yard, still calling, and stopped at his doggie run. Aldo’s run is cleaned after each use, but she found evidence that someone had walked him.
She went back into the house and finally to her room and Aldo’s bed.
There he was, in blissful doggie-dreamland.
He noticed her, happily welcomed her, then flopped down and went immediately back to what he had been doing.
Obviously not needing a quick trip out back because someone’s mistress was doing who knows what instead of tending to him.
It took a moment, but she finally figured out what had happened.
When his mistress didn’t appear at the usual time, he got himself a treat. Walked himself. And put himself to bed.
The perfect dog.
I wish we'd saved his DNA . . . 
Yep. Tired of waiting.

Friday, November 8, 2019

A Teacher

Truly home now from my holiday and back in the classroom with my beloved students.

Have I mentioned I teach the greatest group of teenagers in the entire universe?
Well, I do.
And I missed them.
I was sitting, thinking after they all filed out of the classroom yesterday. Would I be a teacher who made a difference in their lives?
We all had at least one of 'those' teachers.
The ones who made such an impact that they changed your life.
Let me share mine with you...

The greatest teacher who ever lived worked in Milk River, Alberta.
In Junior High School.
I was terrified of her.
Then I  loved her.

Mrs. Wollersheim TAUGHT Social and Math.
Notice the capitals for emphasis?
I meant to put them there.
My first experience with Mrs. W was in grade seven.
I'll never forget it.
I was one of the former grade six kings and queens of Milk River Elementary, now demoted to the lowest of the low.
Grade seven in the Junior/Senior high school.
I was a worm.
Already intimidated by my surroundings, I and my classmates were seated in our desks in Mrs. W's room, awaiting the next installment in terror that Junior High was turning out to be.
We didn't wait long.
From down the hall, outside the wide-open classroom door, we heard a sound. A steady 'Creak. Creak'.
I should mention, here, that our school was old. Methuselah old. And creaky. In fact, it would have made an excellent set for a horror movie, "The Killer Who Terrorized the Grade Sevens in the Old, Creaky School."
Okay. Movie-writing was never meant to be my forte. (Oooo. Italian.)
Moving on . . .
Each member of the class stiffened into attention, all eyes were trained on the doorway.
A trickle of sweat traced a path down the temple of the kid in front of me.
Okay, I'm exaggerating. But you have to admit that, for a moment, I had you.
Okay, you don't have to admit it.
A hollow voice rang down the hall.
"Ahem. Now class . . ."
I should point out that Mrs. W never, ever waited until she was visible to begin teaching.
She didn't have to.
" . . . and that's what we are going to do today."
She appeared in the doorway. A short, heavy-set woman in a print dress, with her hair pinned back into a bun. Sharp eyes covered by thick spectacles. And flat, black walking shoes, capable of carrying the wearer through an entire day of teaching.
The anticipation was over.
We were, at last face to face.
So to speak.
The class shivered en masse. (I'm on fire today! A French term. I think it means altogether.)
She looked us over.
Complete silence.
We sat, frozen in our desks.
Does a teacher's visual acuity depend upon movement?
She moved forward. "The first thing you will have to learn, class, is that when I walk into the room, your books and notebooks will be opened to the correct page and you will be ready to learn."
Frantic zipping of binders (zippers were the newest, coolest thing on binders) and shuffling of paper.
Finally, silence once more.
Mrs. W had reached the front of the room and was standing to one side of the desk, watching us.
We felt like proverbial mice in the gaze of the proverbial hawk.
Our reaction was anything but proverbial.
I'm not sure, but I think a couple of students wet themselves.
She nodded and began to teach.
And, despite our misgivings, we began to learn.
And the first thing we learned was that, though she appeared to be a tyrant in the classroom, she was anything but.
Oh, she demanded respect.
And got it.
Even the class clowns showed only exemplary (real word) behavior when seated under her watchful eyes.
But she would do almost anything to have us succeed.
Every one of us.
At anything we tried.
If we were having difficulty with a concept, even if it was a subject taught by another teacher, she would bundle us off to her home. Feed us with the rest of her family.
And teach.
If any of us were involved in extra-curricular activities, she was on the front row for concerts and athletics.
My brother had decided to serve a mission for our Church and though she was of a different denomination, she was there in the chapel, both for his farewell talk and for his homecoming.
And she did this for approximately 100 students.
Every year.
For 35 + years.
The things she taught us could never be found within the covers of a school textbook.
"You'll get it. Let's try again."
Respect and obedience.
"Mr. Russell. Would you mind putting that away and joining us?"
"How many of you are there? Well, I'm sure you'll all fit in the front room. If not, we'll jam some into the kitchen. Come in, come in. Let's have some hot chocolate. Don't worry about your boots. Jake'll clean up later. Okay, now what Christmas carols are you going to sing for me?"
Any Social or mathematics I learned, I got from her.
Any sense of discipline?
Mrs. Wollersheim is gone now.
She spent her last few years in a nursing home in Milk River, her brilliant mind alive, her physical self hampered by disease and old age.
But she left a legacy.
Her love for us.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

When Sailing

Our Steed
When cruising aboard a tall ship, guests are treated to every luxury.
Many gravitate to the wine list and the limitless selections at the bar.
We non-drinkers gravitate to the food.
The plentiful, Michelin-three-star-chef-rated, out of this world food.
Food so tempting and divine that one really can't refuse.
Thus my saying that they should just weigh us guests checking in and again checking out and charge by the pound.
Also, for one evening during a sailing, we--guests and crew--have a talent show.
These two topics go together.
I will elucidate...
For many of our sailings, Husby and I have chosen to participate in the talent show. Two of a handful of guests that do.
Usually, we recite. He, something Canadian.
Me, something cautionary.
It's totally fun.
This year, I decided to change things up a bit and taught the other guests the Royal Clipper Food Song.
Okay, yes, I made it up.
And it goes like this...

Foo-oo-oo-oo-ood. Delicious!
Foo-oo-oo-oo-ood. Delicious!

Verse One:
A guest likes things that can be chewed,
So boiled or baked or fried or stewed,
Just simply brings us lots of food
And happy guests we'll be!

Foo-oo-oo-oo-ood. Delicious!
Foo-oo-oo-oo-ood. Delicious!

Verse Two:
We like your omelets and cakes,
Your sausage cured, and puddings baked,
Your Entrees, salads, soups and 'plates',
Your gouda, swiss and brie.

Foo-oo-oo-oo-ood. Delicious!
Foo-oo-oo-oo-ood. Delicious!

Verse Three:
So bring us lots of food, my friends,
I promise you will not offend,
We'll pray this trip will never end.

Foo-oo-oo-oo-ood. Delicious!
Foo-oo-oo-oo-ood. Delicious!

The audience did the chorus and I did the verses.
Let's just say it went down well.


Served by wonderful waiter, Arnold...

Less formal.

Served with limited self-control.
Foo-oo-oo-oo-ood. Delicious!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


On the sea.
First up, Bonifacio, Corsica.
Bonifacio. Awesome, right? Who's with me!
Still not up to much, so I only got this far. Then back to the ship.
Then on to Mahon, Menorca and our first castle. Have I mentioned I love castles?
I did better this time. Managed to scramble around the castle a bit.
Ugh. Upping.
Just a couple of pictures to whet your appetite for...
Ibiza, Balearic Islands
And no, I had no idea it existed until I went there.
I'm woefully ignorant of all things geographical.

A couple of guards at the gates.

Have I mentioned I love photographing hallways?

And stairs...

And cannons?
And now on to Motril, Spain. From there, a bus to Granada and the World Heritage site: The Alhambra! (Long number one on Husby's to-see list!) An amazing palace and gardens that once housed the Sultan and his household. Became the home to Granada's homeless, now restored to much of its former beauty.
Remember when I mentioned gardens?


View of the city wall from the Sultana's rooms.

One of the amazing courtyards.

And another.
And on to Morocco!
First stop, Safi. 
From there, we took a bus to Marrakech. We sang 'Marrakech Express' along the way. Most of the passengers didn't get it...

 Amazing countryside in Morocco. Hot and dusty. Plenty of donkey wagons. And each family had their own little compound with high, cement walls, usually a little mud-brick home with a satellite dish on the roof. Unlike any place I've ever seen!

Another palace.
With the *ahem* Sultan and Sultana. (Hey, I can dream!)

Marrakech market!

More market. And lots of bargaining.
They now call Husby the Canadian Bandito...

They know gates in Marrakech!
Then bus ride back to the ship and on to Casablanca. Morocco.
To prepare for our visit, the ship showed Casablanca, the movie.
Sadly, Casablanca was a bit of a disappointment.
Apart from the absolutely beautiful mosque, the third-largest in the world, the city itself was rather run-down and dirty. Many, many beggars.
A city of wildly varying contrasts. The utterly poor and destitute compared to the most stunningly beautiful building I've ever seen.
And the Rick's Cafe they took us to?
Not the real one. Just FYI...
Wait for it...

Seriously one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen!




From there, on to Tangier, Morocco.
A beautiful city. Very progressive and on the move. Restorations in every quarter we saw.
My next home.

Ali Babba at the gate.

One of the local streets.

And markets.
I loved Tangier. A little sad our visit was so short!
From there it was back to Spain and Cadiz, where we went to a sherry-making plantation.
And to see the Andalusian horses train.

These guys are serious about their sherry.
25,000 barrels in this storage room alone!

Sadly, the only horse I managed to photograph at the Andalusian training school.
Photos of the real thing were prohibited. Sigh.
P.S. They were AWESOME!
And then it was back to the ship and on to our final port, Lisbon, Portugal.
We said a sad good-bye to our shipboard acquaintances and headed into Lisbon for the final three days of our holiday.
Doing what we do best.

Hallway. Why do I love them so much?

Castle hallway. Ditto.

Monastery. Catch your breath beautiful!

Lisbon city street.
And an elevator built around the same time as the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

View from the top of said elevator.

Another view...

Typical city street

Typical delicious food.

Out in the country. (Sintra. The most amazing place!)

 And home.
We had the very best of times. Great company. Great food. 
And tons of site-seeing.
We packed a lot into a few weeks, but crossed many, many items off the bucket list.
My only problem now is... where to next?!

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!

Follow by Email

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?