Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, July 17, 2020


It was a normal day in the Hart household.
Let me qualify . . . In a house where there is a ‘new normal’ each and every day, it was a normal day in the Hart household.
At least it started out that way.
Don’t they all?
But I digress . . .
It was a beautiful day. Sunny. Warm.
Especially wonderful because it followed three days of pounding ‘stuck-in-the-house-with-Sally’ rain.
Sally and Mort decided they would go over to the park and play some one-on-one at one of the basketball courts.
After the surprise wore off (Who knew either of them had even heard of the game of basketball?), I decided to follow.
There were others playing when we got there, but enough courts to go around so that social distancing wasn’t a problem.
I took a seat on the tarmac beside their area and prepared to scoff/belittle/pretend to snore.
Hey, it’s an important job!
Their game of ‘horse’ began.
Now Sally, for all her faults, is surprisingly athletic. Even though I know for a fact she has never even held a basketball before, she did really well. It took about 3 seconds for her to figure out how to dribble and move. Quite effectively.
Even her shooting was pretty much amazing.
Huh. Who knew?
Now Mort, on the other hand, is all long arms and legs.
None of which is in communication with the others.
The only way he could even attempt to dribble was with both hands.
And forget moving while he did so.
After his third flat-on-his-face attempt, he gave up trying.
And simply dribbled. And shot.
From wherever he might happen to be.
There were numerous shots taken from in and around the key.
All dismal—though fairly spectacular—failures.
Surprisingly, shots taken from the ‘3-point’ area seemed to get closer. With one actually dropping through the basket.
Something that stopped play on all the courts around us.
Even engendered a smattering of applause.
Needless to say, Sally was the uncontested (and getting louder) winner of every game.
Now things had been going along for some time in this manner.
I was enjoying my task of cat-calling and verbal derision.
Sally was sailing about, looking more and more like . . . someone-famous-who-plays-basketball.
My ignorance is woeful…
Mort was dribbling. And/or shooting.
He had actually sunk a second shot and was standing there, grinning widely as Sally went for the ball.
And that’s when things . . . changed.
Sally stopped. Staring.
I turned to see what she was gazing at so intently.
A couple had sat down on a nearby bench. Totally absorbed in each other, they were oblivious to any of us in the vicinity.
Which is probably why what happened . . . happened.
It took me a moment to recognize what had only taken Sally a split-second.
The boy in the couple was our best friend Mary’s boyfriend, Troy.
The girl . . . wasn’t Mary.
Before I had barely taken in what was happening, Sally flipped that basketball at the speed of light.
With deadly aim.
It smacked Mr. Amorous on the side of the head just as he was moving in for a lip lock, knocking him right over that bench.
It may not have been just but it certainly was justice.
In a blink, Troy was sitting on the ground, looking around dazedly.
The girl in the duo came to her feet and spied Sally heading in her direction. Abruptly abandoning whatever may have been developing in her and Troy’s relationship, she lit out for the nearest far-away (Sally-less) place.
Needless to say, the kiss never happened.
Sally scooped up the ball, gave Troy a silent glare, and sauntered back to her game.
Still looking rather confused, Troy got to his feet and headed out of the park.
Sally and Mort went back to playing.
I left. I mean, how could you top that?

P.S. I should have stayed.
An hour or so later, Sally and Mort showed up at home.
They paused just inside the front door, breathing heavily.
Sally looked at us. “If anyone comes to ask you about the basketball pole that somehow got sort of . . . broken, plead ignorance, K, Mom?”

Each month, Karen from Baking in a Tornado and her followers play word games. It's our go-to for fun. Each of us uses words we've supplied which are then shuffled and re-distributed by our intrepid leader.
No one knows where our words have gone or what will be done with them.
See? Fun!
My words this month came from Karen herself.
just ~ justice ~ basketball ~ snore ~ louder
What could I do but write another 'Sally' episode?!  

See what my friends have done with their challenge!  

Thursday, July 16, 2020


This many kids. One adult.
My good friend was in hospital for a couple of days for some minor surgery.
Her four kids (three girls and one boy) were staying with us.
And our (then) four kids. (Three boys and one girl)
The kids were perfectly matched.
Boy-girl, boy-girl, boy-girl and boy-girl.
And got along very well.
My house was quieter with eight (ranging in ages from 1 to 7) kids in it, than it was with just my own four.
They were all playing happily.
Then I suddenly realized that I needed to go to the store.
The status quo was about to change.
I buckled in what amounted to essentially four sets of twins and started off.
All went well.
We arrived and I immediately hunted up a cart.
No way I was going to try to herd this bunch without some modern conveniences.
The two babies were buckled into the baby compartment on the cart.
The two toddlers went into the basket.
The two kindergarteners hung onto the outside.
And the two seven year olds were allowed free range.
But with strict instructions to stay close.
We were off!
My errands were run in record time.
And, quite suddenly, it was snack time.
I looked into my wallet.
I should point out, here, that my husband had just graduated from post secondary and was working in his first real job.
We were poor.
Well, rich in children.
But poor in things that can actually . . . purchase things.
Moving on.
My wallet held the grand total of two dollars.
Which in itself was a miracle.
I was standing in the middle of the food court, contemplating my options.
They were . . . limited.
Finally, I approached a kiosk called, The Loaf, which specialized in sandwiches made from thick slices of 'freshly-baked-on-the-premises' bread.
"What would you charge for just a slice of fresh bread and butter?" I asked the girl behind the counter.
She scrunched up her face in thought.
Then she said, "Twenty-five cents."
The magic words.
I ordered eight slices of fresh bread and butter and handed her my two dollars.
Then I passed out slices of thick, warm, fresh bread to each of my little hoard.
Who happily chowed down.
A cowboy term for tucking in.
Which is another cowboy term for . . . oh, never mind.
You get the picture.
They ate.
And enjoyed.
A couple walked past while my kids were busy . . . umm . . . enjoying.
"What a good idea for a snack!" the woman exclaimed. "I think you are the best mother I have ever seen!"
I smiled, rather self-consciously.
'Best mother' is obviously code for 'too-broke-to-buy-anything-else'.
We finished our snack and headed back to the Sears store for one last item.
My friend's eldest daughter, who had been following closely asked if she could dart over and peek at the girl's blouses.
I told her that it was fine. I would just walk slowly so she could catch up.
And continued down the aisle.
I passed one of the entrances to the store.
Two women had just come in.
They, a mother and her mother, were struggling to control a small boy of about two.
Who was red-faced and screaming.
Actually, now that I think of it, all of them were red-faced and . . .
Back to my story.
The grandmother looked up and noticed me walk past with my cart full to overflowing with children and said," Here the two of us can't control one child and that woman," she pointed, "has . . . five, six, seven!"
Just then, my friend's oldest daughter rejoined our group.
I smiled at the women and said, "Eight."
And walked on.
Okay, I know it wasn't strictly truthful.
But it was so much fun to say it!!!
And, just for a moment, I felt like one of those uber-organized, amazing women one sees who are always neat, tidy and . . . well . . . together.
Controlling hoards of children and still managing to look serene.
Yep. For a moment, I was SUPERMOM.
But, sadly, only for the moment.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

When Freedom Isn't

The following is based on a real discussion with my—then—fifteen-year-old son, who didn’t believe in the rules his parents—or anyone ‘official’—were trying to enforce.
All he wanted was his ‘freedom’!
It turned out to be an interesting discussion.
And even more pertinent in 2020 than it was in 1995!

“Freedom’s what I want!” he said. “And what I really need!
“No one to tell me what to do, and none to intercede.
“Just let me live my life,” he said. “And I’ll let you live yours.
“I won’t be forced to follow rules or do things I abhor!”

“That’s ‘freedom’ in your point of view? Life’s just a big buffet?
“Just take the things you want?” I said. “And never have to pay?”
He puffed his fifteen-year-old chest and struck an ‘adult’ pose,
“One day you’ll see I’m right. Obeying rules really blows!”

“To do away with rules and laws? Well that sounds really swell!
“But remember while you’re doing this, th’other guy is as well!
“So guard your ‘stuff’ with all your might, and guard yourself as well,
“Cause just like you, your neighbour’s free to steal or raise some hell.”

“I know there’s lots of things you want to do when you’re fifteen,
“And rules might sound restrictive, dull, and, let’s just face it, mean,
“They hold you down and really seem as bonds that tie and chafe
“But let me tell you, Son,” I said. “These rules will keep you safe!”

Once a month, our Karen challenges each of us to rhyme,
And we try to fulfill this challenge each and every time,
This month, because of all that's going on both far and near,
We felt that Freedom was the topic 'bout which we should hear.

Karen of Baking In A Tornado: Short and Clear
Lydia of Cluttered Genius: Cost of Freedom

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A Rose By Any Other Name...

My beloved friend Donna Tagliaferri of My Life From the Bleachers is expecting twin grandsons in the near future.
Choosing names has become a priority.
Donna has happily supplied several. (Romulus and Remus being her most recent contributions.)
None has been considered.
Donna, Husby feels your pain . . .

We have a tradition in our family.
I know what you’re going to say . . .
Another tradition?!
Hear me out . . .
When we were expecting our babies, and fighting arguing over considering possible names, my ever-helpful Husby gave me a list from which to choose.
My Husby has doctorates in History and Anthropology. Did I mention that?
It’s significant.
Moving on . . .
The list was seven pages long.
And included such classics as: Trophimus. Trogillium. Vafthrusdinal. Gundohar and Gundobad (If we should ever be blessed with twins.)
I see your face.
Mine sported a similar expression.
And named our babies. Mark. Erik. Duff. Caitlin. Tiana. Tristan.
Now, I'm sure you’re wondering about the aforementioned tradition.
That comes here . . .
Because I was rude ignorant smart enough to ignore his helpful advice, my uber-determined Husby started in on the next generation.
With one significant change.
Our children weren’t given a choice.
Nope. They were given a name.
One name per grandchild.
Oh, they chose their own names, too. The names that would appear on birth certificates and numerous and sundry other legal places throughout the child’s life.
But each of them has a Grandpa Name (hereinafter known as GN) as well.
Unofficial, but just as important.
Let me enlighten you. These are the names as they now stand:
Megan Sarah. GN: Cruchenperk
Kyra Danielle. GN: Ataxerxes
Odin Erik. GN: Dashley-Odensis
Thorin James. GN: Ragnowinthe
Erini Tiana. GN: Salmanezer
Jarom Elliott. GN: Abindaraz
Bronwyn Bell. GN: Pintiquinestra
Linnea Viktoria. GN: Adrevalde
Hazel Jane. GN: Bardowick
Willow Victoria. GN: Cantabrie
Leah Brooke Rachelle. GN: Ettelwulf
Aksel Grant. GN: Burthred
William Duff. GN: Hieronymus
Emma Charlotte. GN: Boadicea
Elizabeth Rose. GN: Clytemnestra
Quincy Rue. GN: Mehitabel
Nora Isabel. GN: Goleuddydd
And are those kids proud of their Grandpa Names?
A resounding: Yes!
But still their parents, in true 'parent' fashion use the names they chose.
So there’s the usual (and well-remembered) angst. The ‘Why don’t they use my good names?’ question.
Maybe you can answer that . . .

Monday, July 13, 2020

Teacher Mine

Miss Woronoski, for a start...
I'm the little monster second row, far right who refused to wear something 'nice'.

Through my life, there’s things I’ve learned,
And knowledge gained and kudos earned,
All of which just would not be,
But for the teachers sent to me.

There’s Miss Woronoski, for a start,
In Grade One, took me to her heart,
So kindly, she began to lead,
From her, I learned to love to read!

Then Mrs. Hainsworth in Grade Six,
Her massive class was quite the mix,
Convinced me not to scratch and bite,
Instead she taught me how to write!

Now Junior High was a surprise,
Ms. Wollersheim with gimlet eyes,
From the day that we arrived,
She’d do anything to help us thrive.

And Grade Nine brought me my first crush,
That Mr. Bauer turned me to mush!
We girls were stricken, every one.
And who knew Science could be fun?

So many more that got me through
To university. It’s true,
To Mrs. Fooks the very last,
Of ‘official’ teachers from my past.

Their names: McMillan, Herbst and Ford,
Some I feared and most adored,
And Mueller, Jeffers, Chipman, Read,
Taught me lots of stuff I’d need.

Hendrickson, the music fan,
And Bob, who parked like Iron Man!
And Laqua, Thomas, Seltzer, too,
From them I learned what I should do.

Each has a place there in my past,
And in my heart where mem’ries last,
I’m glad they could, my teachers, be,
T’was each of them who made me, ME!

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?


Next week's poems might turn to rants,
Our topic will be wretched 'ANTS'!

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My FIRST murder mystery!

Blessed by a Curse

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My very first Medieval Romance!

God's Tree

God's Tree
For the Children

Third in the series

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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

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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

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A fun romp through the world's most haunted hotel!

Hugs, Delivered.

Compass Book Ratings

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My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

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New Tween Novel!

Gnome for Christmas

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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

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What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

Join me on Maven

Connect with me on Maven


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Captured and imprisoned, a scientist and his son use their amazing discovery to foil evil plans.

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