Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Allergic Aversions

You want me to eat what . . .?
My Dad always claimed to be allergic to onions.
Whenever he ordered any burger, he always asked them to 'hold the onions'.
We just assumed that he really was allergic to onions.
Later in life, we discovered that his reticence was due, not to allergies, but to aversions.
There's a difference.
But what a scheme!
My kids tried to use it, too.
Our eldest, Mark, became quite expert.
His particular nemesis?
Harmless, deep-browned, baked beans.
My personal favourite.
And one of the major ingredients in my award-winning chili.
Something that appeared with amazing regularity on the family dinner table.
From his very earliest years, Mark exhibited an unparallelled reluctance to put those nasty, evil beans anywhere near his mouth.
Regardless of how many times they might appear on his table.
Once, when he was just learning to say the blessing on the food, his father tried to trick him into 'bean acceptance'.
Grant: “Father in Heaven.”
Mark: “Father in Heaven.” (But imagine it in a little 20 month-old voice.)
Grant: “We thank thee for this food.”
Mark: “We thank thee for this food.”
Grant: “Because it's so yum.”
Mark: “Because it's so not yum.”
Laughter (Grant).
More laughter (Mom).
Grin (Mark).
And so it went.
For 19 years.
At the age of 19, Mark received a mission call for our church to Boston, Massachusetts.
He excitedly prepared to go.
I took him aside. “Mark, you know what they call Boston, don't you?”
“Bean Town.”
His face whitened a little. “Bean Town?”
“Yep. Where do you think the term 'Boston Baked Beans' comes from?”
He had to sit down for that one. “Boston Baked Beans,” he said, faintly.
“Yep. So you'd better get used to eating them, because you will probably be getting them morning, noon and night.”
He went anyways, brave boy that he was.
And returned two years later.
We met him at the airport.
We had sent our little boy.
We brought back an adult.
The first thing I asked him was how he felt about beans now that he had spent two years in the midst of the world's best bean eaters.
His response?
“I just got served beans for the first time yesterday.”
Even the 'Bean Towners' catered to my son . . .
Mark eats beans today.
Mostly to show his children it can be done.
But he doesn't wage much of a battle.
His oldest daughter Megan's favourite food is Grandma's chili.
Okay, maybe the acorn skipped a generation, but it still landed near the tree.

Friday, May 15, 2020

A Little Mousy

It’s quiet.
That, in itself, should be cause for alarm.
Sally is, after all, home.
And where Sally is, there goes Mort also.
Twice the trouble for half the price.
So to speak.
Sally and Mort are playing with her new VR game.
The one Mom could never afford but which proved to be easily attained when one is . . . erm . . . attaining.
As is Sally.
It’s kinda weird, sitting here watching Mort and Sally through the banister between the kitchen/dining/ohmywordwehavealotofspace room and the family room half a floor down.
They are happily engaged in the imaginary world only they can see.
Okay, yes, something that is entirely normal for Sally.
Moving on . . .
I don’t know why, but I’m suddenly reminded of the first time Mom and I knew Sally may be trouble.
“No, Sweetie, you can’t have a pet. Not right now. Mama just has too much to look after with Daddy away.”
Sally had just turned five and for a month, the two of us were the same age. And Sally wanted a mouse.
“But Mama! He’s jus’ a little mouse. Little tiny.”
“But he will still have to be cared for and kept warm and safe. And he and his cage cleaned. We don’t want him to bring us fleas!”
“I can do it!” Sally said stoutly.
Mom looked at her speculatively. Then she smiled. “If any five-year-old could do it, you could, Sweetie.” She frowned slightly. “All right. Let’s try.”
Sally squealed with delight and was soon seated in the back of the car with a little cage on her knees. Nestled snugly in some cedar shavings was one red-eyed white mouse.
“You’ll have to think of a name for him,” Mom said, eyeing the happy pair in her rear-view mirror.
“Hmmm . . .” Sally scrunched her face into its most creative configuration. “Morris.”
Sally nodded happily.
“Morris, it is.”
Mom pulled up to the house and we all piled out, Sally clutching her precious new pet. And cage. As we approached the front door, Mom spotted a large parcel leaning against the newel post at the top of the steps. “Oooh! It’s come!” She grabbed the parcel and unlocked the door.
Sally headed upstairs and, I was pretty sure, proceeded to push everything off the dresser we shared so Morris could reside in a place of honour.
I followed Mom into the kitchen.
She dumped her purchases on the counter, then tore into the ‘front steps’ parcel.
It proved to be a large, pumpkin-coloured duvet.
“Oooh! It’s perfect!” Mom said. She held it up. “Isn’t it, Gwen?”
I nodded and petted it with one hand. “I like the colour.”
“So do I!” Mom smiled. “I had a coupon and thought . . . why not?” She laughed. “This will keep me so nice and warm I won’t even count the days till your Dad gets home!”
Sally appeared behind her. “Oooh! Pretty!”
“And warm!” Mom brushed Sally’s cheek with the soft fabric. “I’m going to have the warmest bed in the whole house!”
Sally smiled, then set the cage she was carrying on the kitchen table. “Morris doesn’t want to be upstairs alone. He wants to be here. With us.”
I looked into the cage at the soundly sleeping little rodent.
Mom leaned over to look. “He looks pretty contented to me.”
“Well, he’s not!” Sally picked up a pencil and tried to force it between the bars. It wouldn’t fit.
Mom shrugged and started gathering up her new duvet. “Don’t tease him, Honey. Gwen, do you want to help me put this on the bed?”
I nodded and hurried after her.
Later, Mom looked up from the TV program she was watching and stopped Sally on her way to her room with a full cup of water. “What are you doing with the water, Sweetheart?”
“You said we have to clean Morris and his cage.”
“Oh. Yes, I did. But that should probably be done here in the kitchen. And I want to supervise your first attempt.”
Now you have to know that this was early days for Sally hi-jinks. Mom was fairly new to it, being as she had only ever dealt with me.
Ahem . . .
Mom turned back to her program, forgetting all about Morris.
Still later, we were all getting ready for bed. Sally, all bathed and clean jumped into her bed and pulled the covers to her chin. “Night, Mom! Thanks for Morris!”
Mom nodded and smiled and leaned over to give her a kiss and a hug. “You’re welcome, Baby.” She glanced at Morris’ cage. “I hope he’ll be all right tonight.”
Sally smiled. “He’s fine. He had a nice bath and he’s all warm and toasty now!”
“Honey, I told you to wait for me!”
“It was just a teensy bath.”
“Well, next time I want to help.”
Mom went out, shutting off the light before she closed the door.
Within moments, I could hear Sally’s breathing change as she headed toward sleep.
Suddenly, there was a scream from Mom’s room.
Sally’s eyes popped open and she turned to look at me. “She did say hers was the warmest bed, right?”

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.
My words were: mouse ~ pencil ~ cup ~ pumpkin ~ fleas ~ coupon
They were submitted by my good friend, Dawn at
Below 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. 
Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mom's Spit

Notice the cute little boys.
One with hair. One with . . . cheeks.
Ignore the glasses.
When I was expecting my second son, I craved anything 'tomato'.
Pizza, spaghetti, anything I could put tomatoes in or on.
But especially tacos.
Mmmmm. Tacos.
There was only one problem.
I couldn't get them hot enough.
I would buy the hottest salsa I could find.
Not enough.
Add a couple of drops of Tabasco.
Still not enough.
A few more drops. (I admit it. My spice world was limited to salsa and Tabasco.)
Almost there.
Seven drops.
And that's the way I ate them.
The entire nine months.
My baby boy was born without any hair on his head.
I think I burned it off.
This is relevant.
Moving on . . .
After the baby arrived, my husband took his little family out for fish and chips.
Mmmmm. More food.
I had our newest baby in a snuggly on my chest.
Toasty and comfortable.
Just the top of his little, bald head peeking above the dark green corduroy of the carrier.
My dinner arrived.
I looked at the loaded plate.
Then at my baby.
I could take the carrier off and lay it on the table, I suppose.
But that would take effort. And the food was there, waiting to be devoured.
Hunger decided. I would just eat.
Over the baby.
It was just like being pregnant again.
Sort of.
All went well.
The mushy peas went first. That was easy. I just held the bowl close and spooned.
Then the fresh, deep-fried, perfectly cooked fish.
And finally, to top everything off, the thick, golden brown chips.
With ketchup.
Then, that fateful dip.
Right on the top of my baby's bald head.
Oops. What to do?
I could get a wipe and clean it off politely.
Pfff. One swipe of my tongue would take care of it much, much better.
I happily went back to eating my chips.
That's when I noticed the woman sitting at the next table.
Looking at me.
A frozen expression of horror on her face.
Clucking in disgust, she stood up and marched huffily from the restaurant.
I remember being a trifle embarrassed.
And briefly uncomfortable.
Then I shrugged.
In the days before wipes, Mom used to clean entire faces with mom spit and a Kleenex. I even heard that Mom spit on a Kleenex would get rust off a bumper.I guess it's all a matter of perspective. Hunger and convenience win.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A Floral Pun-ishment

A man named Andrew had a shop,
And lots of people came his way,
In Dublin Town, his was the top,
Sold flowers nearly every day,

Working hard, he did impress,
With marketing and quality,
But then some monks saw his success,
And thought, like him, they all could be.

And so they did what he had shown,
(They had a slight advantage there,)
Cause they could grow all of their own,
And undercut his blossom share.

Within three months, the damage done,
Poor Andrew’s business almost gone,
He thought to cut his losses: run,
Had little hope to carry on.

But bad boy, Hughie, came on by,
Andrew engaged him on the spot,
To destroy the Monks’ stall and let fly
With herbicide to kill the lot.

That night, Hugh did his darksome deeds
And they proved most effective then,
The devastated monks did bleed,
And to their business said, “Amen.”

Then Andrew's Flowers reigned again,
And proved that when someone you hire,
To kill a business that’s your bane,
Only Hugh can Prevent Florist Friars.

If poetry you do enjoy,
And hope some more you now will find,
To grant your wishes, we'll employ,
And you can call us masterminds!
Karen of Baking In A Tornado: Blossoms, or are they Blooms?
Dawn of Spatulas On Parade: Blossoms and Blooming

Monday, May 11, 2020

My Favourites

I love to walk outdoors in Spring,
The air’s as sweet as anything,
The leaves turn green, the birds all sing.
And flowers fit for any king.

Their colours are resplendent then,
As they appear cross hill and fen,
The subject of the poet’s pen,
And sonnets by the wisest men.

My favourites? Well, that’s hard to say,
I must say tulips right away,
So crisp and clean, they bend and sway,
To brighten early springtime days.

And roses, well, they are a must,
With shades from white to blue to rust,
And daisies, pleasant blooms to trust,
Rise ever cheerful from the dust.

Impatiens, glads, to name a few,
And hollyhocks, begonias, too,
And lilacs, white or purple hue,
Yes, every one improve the view!

But other blossoms make me glad,
Though, at times, I may be sad,
Or, on occasion, even mad,
They’re still the best I’ve ever had…

Six of them I had, at first,
And as they grew, I thought I’d burst
With love for each one that I nursed,
And tended, kept from hunger, thirst.

Each one grew and multiplied,
I watched them all with tender pride,
As they spread through the countryside,
Attracting others alongside.

And though each grew like stately palms,
And faced both storms and times of calm,
Still I can say without a qualm,
My favourite flowers call me ‘Mom’.

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 all of us, together, we
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you’ve read what we have wrought…
Did we help? 
Or did we not?


We’ve talked about where we have roamed,
Next week, the places we call HOME!

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!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?