Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, September 11, 2020

Learning Manners

“Well I’m so glad to be able to have this chance to get to know you, Mrs. Townsend!” Mom took a sip of tea and smiled at the red-headed woman sitting opposite her in our living room.
“Likewise, Emma!” the woman winked. “And it’s ‘Mary’, please.”
Mom nodded.
Mary went on. “Of course I needed a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how your family survives when I realized that you, too were the mother of . . . one of ‘those’ kids. Whose mere existence is a life-changing-event.”
Mom nodded sagely and took another sip of tea. “Of course I’ve had mine a bit longer than you’ve had yours.”
“How old is Sally?” Mary asked.
Mom sighed.
I broke in. “I’m quite sure she’s been with us for—oh—a thousand years or more, right Mom?”
She smiled. “At times, it seems so.” She looked at Mary. “Sally is eighteen.”
Mary pushed the fingers of one hand through her fiery hair. “Eighteen. And Gary is eleven.”
Mom smiled sympathetically. “You have lots to look forward to.”
Now it was Mary’s turn to sigh.
“By the way, how did your family end up here?”
Mary took a bite of a cookie and chewed thoughtfully. “It’s kind of a strange story, actually.”
Mom smiled and settled back in her chair. “I like strange stories.”
“Well, my husband, Emmett, had been out of work since the pandemic started. He’s an auto mechanic. A really good one. But with no one using their cars, his boss simply laid everyone off.”
Mom nodded sympathetically.
“Anyway, he sent his resume to a company here and apparently they liked his profile and it didn’t take much convincing for them to invite him here for an interview.”
“That’s pretty exciting!” Mom said, offering Mary another cookie.
“Well, when you’ve been out of work for as long as he has, with COVID and everything, it sure is!” She smiled. “He got all his ducks-in-a-row and came. Sadly, he didn’t get that job. And to top things off, his car literally laid down and died just after his interview. Transmission.”
Mom winced. “So what did he do?”
Mary smiled. “The tow truck took him to a nearby repair place and Emmett got to talking with the guys there, and, before he knew it, he had a job offer.”
“Well, I’m glad you ended up here. And even more glad you chose our neighbourhood!”
“We like it. And now with our Gary finding a kindred spirit in your Sally . . .” She frowned. “By the way, where did they go?”
Both women looked at me.
I shrugged. “They said something about teaching Old Man Smith’s dog, Tanner, some manners . . .”
Mom snorted. “Gwen! You rhymed.”
I shrugged. “Don’t worry it won’t go to my . . .” Something moved on the front lawn. I leaned closer to the great front windows.
“What is it, hun?” Mom asked.
“If I didn’t know any better, I would guess it’s Old Man Smith’s dog, Tanner. Running for all he’s worth. And crying . . .”
“And learning some manners?” I could hear the smile in Mom’s voice.
“Well, learning something. He’s got clothes on.”
“Yeah. He’s . . .”
Just then a small, flesh-coloured streak zipped across the yard behind the dog. “Taaaaner! Taaaaaner!” a boyish voice screamed. “Come back here. Bring me my paaaaants!”
Just then another, larger streak appeared. “It’s okay, Gaaaary! You can have miiiiine!”
Then the much slower figure of Mort, carrying something in a bundle. “Saaaally! Don’t give away your paaaants! Use mine! Use miiiine!”
I glanced back at the two women seated together in the front room. "Ummm . . . there are three people outside, none of whom are wearing any pants."
Mary’s hands were on the arms of the chair as though she was about to get up.
Mom reached for her tea and took a sip. "So, a normal day, then."
Mary settled back and took a bite from another cookie.

Today’s post is a writing challenge. Participating bloggers submit 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 this month? behind the scene ~ transmission ~ life-changing event ~ profile ~ convincing ~ ducks in a row
They were submitted by my good friend, Tamara at: Part-time Working Hockey Mom
Thanks so much, Tamara!      

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A Four-Footed Character

Just driving ‘round the backwoods in his trusty Chevrolet,
Ol’ Art spied him a sign that made him turn another way,
Cause ‘Talking Dog for Sale’ would catch the eye of anyone,
And Art, he figured sure a dog that talked could be so fun!

He drove into a yard and asked a man just sitting there
If he’d a dog for sale and if so, could he point where?
The man, he shrugged and told him that the dog was out in back,
Then pointed. Art, he thanked him, and the man said, “No prob, Mac.”

In the yard, ol’ Art, he found a black Lab sitting there,
"You talk?" he asked the dog. And the dog said, “Mid to fair.”
After Art recovered from the shock, while still a little dazed,
He said, “What's your story?” and prepared to be amazed.

The Lab looked up and said, “Well, I discovered pretty young
“That I could talk and so I thought that I could help out some,
“I told the CIA. And soon they flew me cross the skies,
“And sat me in some rooms with world leaders and with spies.”

I was their most valued spy for eight years running, true!
“But the jetting around got to me and I figured I was through.
“So I went to an airport. Thought I’d do security,
“Standing near suspicious guys who never noticed me.”

“I uncovered some amazing stuff. Rewards came thick and fast,
“Then I got married, had some pups, and I'm retired at last.”
Ol’ Art was just amazed. He stumbled to the owner then,
Said, “How much for the dog?” “Oh, a tenner,” said the man.

“Ten dollars? Are you sure? This dog's amazing! Why so cheap?”
“Because he never did those things. The dog’s a lying creep!”
So just a note, in ending, s’not how talented you ‘ere’,
But whether you’re a man (or dog) of greatest Character.

Each month, for fun, and on a theme, we two write poetry,
Tell me what you think of poems from Karen and from me! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Smells Like Employment

Who would you hire?
To a cowboy looking for employment in the 50s, the Stringam spread proved enticing.
Many times, someone would ride in with everything he owned on his back and in his saddle bags.
Usually at mealtimes.
Invariably he would be invited to put up his horse and stay to eat.
The interview had begun.
During the meal, everyone seated around the table would ply the newcomer with questions:
Where are you from?
Where have you been?
Where are you going?
But the boss would be watching for answers to the unasked questions.
By the end of the meal, his decision would be made.
And the cowboy would be directed to the bunkhouse.
Or the highway.
We often wondered how Dad did it.
How could he tell what kind of a man/hand this stranger would be?
He finally let us in on his secret.
Or secrets.
By the way the man swung into the saddle and handled his horse, Dad could tell he'd had lots of experience.
The fact that he treated his horse with affection and respect told Dad he was trustworthy.
He carried very little tack, so Dad knew he wasn't a thief.
He'd worked at the Bar K/Night Ranch/Q Ranch for two years and Dad knew their standards and expectations, so the man had been well-trained.
And last, he wasn't flamboyant in his dress. No ten-gallon hat or silver, big-rowelled spurs. The man had his needs and wants under control.
He was hired.
My Dad was seldom wrong.
Although once, some . . . refining was needed.
Let me explain . . .
Luke rode into the ranch yard, looking for work.
He was invited to loosen his girthstrap and join the boys for dinner.
He complied.
Talk was general as the boys got to know him.
There seemed to be a broad consensus that Luke was okay.
Everyone looked at Dad.
Who nodded.
Luke was directed to the bunkhouse and given a bunk.
The door closed.
And that's when everyone got the first whiff of Luke's one . . . drawback.
Luke didn't like water.
More particularly, washing in it.
At first, the boys were subtle.
Opening the windows.
And then the doors.
Then they started making comments.
“Whew! It sure smells in here!”
“I think someone needs a bath!”
Which got more pointed.
“Yak! I'm choking to death!”
With looks directed at the offending party.
Luke remained stubbornly oblivious.
Finally, the rest of the boys grabbed their bedrolls and toted them to the big ranch house.
“Morning, Ma'am,” the first one said. “We're moving into your attic!”
“Yep. There's poison gas in the bunk house,” the second one said.
“We're choking to death!” said a third.
And they did.
Move in, I mean. Not die.
Mom turned to Dad, eyebrows raised.
Dad shrugged his shoulders. “I'll talk to them,” he said.
He must have.
Because that evening, the boys moved back into their bunk house.
Then roped Luke, hauled him down to the river and scrubbed him down themselves.
All was quiet for a week.
Till glances and remarks indicated that the next 'bathing' was being contemplated.
This time, Luke hauled himself to the river and scrubbed off.
From then on, all one of the boys had to do was take down his rope.
And Luke would scurry for the shower.
Oh, he complained. “Too much water is bad for the health!”
His words, not mine.
But he did it.
And the sweet, clean air of the Alberta prairies once more wafted through the bunkhouse.
Hiring is a tricky business.
But with discernment, skill . . .
And soap . . .
It can be done.

Monday, September 7, 2020

The Kitchen

Where no one likes a witch in,
Ingredients are switched in,
And chores are sometimes ditched in
The kitchen.

Where my mom found some britch(es) in,
And sometimes swung a switch in,
While all of us would pitch in
Mom’s kitchen.

Occasionally a glitch in,
And recipes hit a hitch in,
But only scents are rich in
My kitchen.

So Sing Along with Mitch in,
And try whatever’s ‘kitch’ in,
To satisfy your itch in
Your kitchen.

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 Jenny, Charlotte, Mimi, Me
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And when you’ve ready what we have wrought…
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Next week, stop and take a look,
We'll talk of what we love, our BOOKS!

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

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Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

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Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

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Sunshine Award!!!
My good friend Red from Oz has nominated me!!!

My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

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