Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Definitely Hazardous

Admit it. This is scary...

Okay. Maybe I overreacted.

We were on holiday in a foreign land. France, to be exact.
And having a glorious time.
Our family had just finished an underground rafting trip.
Did I mention that we were under the ground?
I guess I did when I said underground.
Ahem . . .
It was fantastic!
Feeling slightly euphoric, we had driven to our hotel and were unpacking in the parking lot.
Other stuff that wasn't suitcases or food.
Our rooms were on the second floor. One door opening from the long communal balcony into two separate units.
I dragged myself and my load up to the second floor.
Then looked back into the parking lot where the rest of the family was still in the process of unloading/loading.
There, standing in the very center of the lot was a young man, dressed completely in black.
Black hoodie pulled up over his head so that only his nose showed.
He was just standing there quietly.
Looking up at me.
It was . . . startling.
I stared back at him for a moment, then turning, shoved my key in the door and escaped into my room.
Throwing my load onto the closest bed, I took a quick look around.
Nice, quiet little room.
Two double beds.
Then I walked over to the window.
And threw open the curtains.
The man in black was standing directly outside the window, now looking into my room.
I screamed.
I admit it.
He had been mysterious, standing down there in the parking lot.
Standing right outside my window, he was downright frightening.
And really, really creepy.
He made some sort of gesture, but I didn't notice.
I was too busy pulling the curtains shut and crawling under the bed.
Okay, so heroine material, I'm not.
My husby toted his burden of suitcases, etc. into the room a couple of seconds later.
And stared at me as I crawled out from under the bed.
“Ummm . . . looking for anything in particular?”
“No. That guy just frightened me,” I said, as calmly as possible.
“What guy?”
“The one dressed in black. Out there on the balcony.”
“There was a guy out on the balcony?”
“How could you miss him!” I demanded. “He was right there!”
My Husby walked across the room and whipped the curtains back.
I caught my breath.
Isn't this sounding mysterious?
There was no one there.
“But he was right outside! Looking into the room!” I stomped over to the window and peered out.
The man had disappeared.
“Huh. Weird.”
My husband was staring at me. “I think you were down in that cave too long."
I snorted.
I want to point out that it was a ladylike snort. Because I am . . . oh, never mind.
When my kids arrived a few seconds later, I challenged them. “Did you guys see the scary guy in black?”
They too, stared at me. “Scary guy in black?”
“Yeah. He was down there.” I pointed.
“Oh, you mean the one down in the parking lot who was trying to bum cigarettes?”
Cigarettes? Erm. "Yes. That would be the one.”
“Yeah. We just told him we didn't smoke and he left.”
So much for my scary encounter.
I had been hiding under the bed to escape a . . . broke smoker.
But I learned something.
Smoking definitely causes heart attacks...

Friday, September 18, 2020

Being Branded

I had long, skinny children.
Who always outgrew their clothes in length, far before said clothes fit them in width.
As they grew, fitting them got to be a greater and greater problem. 
Did you know that few companies, back when my babies were growing, created clothing for children who look like they have been shaped in a taffy-puller?
Or on the torturer’s rack.
Well, it’s true.
And, by the way, shaping children in either of those methods is illegal.
Just thought I’d point that out.
So . . . long, skinny children . . .
Ever try to find pants to fit a 28-inch waist and a 38-inch inseam? 
I did what any desperate and decidedly broke mom would do. I started making my children’s clothes.
All of their clothes.
Shirts, pants, shorts, dresses, skirts, blouses.
I even took a short course in making 5-pocket blue jeans and made them.
Rivets and all.
I made so many and got so proficient that I stopped even needing instructions and could whip up a pair – from cutting to trying on the finished article – in less than two hours.
I had even been known to make them in my sleep.
Of course, they didn’t look quite the same.
But I digress . . .
One thing I discovered with blue jeans was the fact that you are fairly limited in things you can do to make them . . . remark-able.
Oh, you can sew trim into the outer seams.
And use different colours of thread.
But probably the most noticeable of TYCD (things you can do) is to mess with the back pockets.
And yes, I went there.
I embroidered many things on my kids’ back pockets.
Then I got the wild idea of using their initials.
Only they didn’t always agree.
For example, Erik refused to wear his jeans embossed with the giant letters ‘E’ and ‘T’ on his backside.
I don’t know what his problem was. I thought it would be cute to be called ‘ET’.
Finally, in an attempt at mollification, I added a ‘B’, for his middle name of ‘Blair’.
It passed.
I then used the same idea for his next younger brother’s jeans. Robin Duff Tolley. What could be better than ‘RDT’?
He thought it was great.
Until his father asked what the ‘RDT’ stood for. “Rabbit, duck, turtle?”
“Nooo! Robin Duff Tolley!”
“Oh. Rabbitduckturtle?”
Yeah. Those pockets had to come right off.
I replaced them with something a little less controversial.
Like squiggles.
But the name remained. From then on, our Duff was known as Rabbitduckturtle.
Have you ever heard of the consequences of labeling a child?
Well, the stories are true.
Now, at the age of 40, he loves his moniker. He even has a rubber duck picture on his Christmas stocking.
Beat that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Hand-Me-Down Sayings

Dad, Jerry and Chris
About 3 BD (Before Diane)
But 5 minutes AC (After Coats)
Our kids and grandkids were over for the weekend.
Fortunately for us, spring had finally arrived in Edmonton, Alberta, and they were able to spend much of the day outside.
One grandson, anxious to rejoin his cousins on the pirate ship in the backyard (yes, we have a pirate ship in the backyard) was frantically looking for his coat--discarded when he had come inside.
Moments before.
“Can’t find it!” he lamented loudly.
“Well, Sweetie,” I said. “I don’t know . . .” That was as far as I got.
Because, suddenly, I was remembering my Mom.
And something she said to us every time we were bewailing the loss of some article of clothing.
Which happened often.
Ahem . . .
There would the usual scurry to find said article.
And then the inevitable words, “I CAN’T FIND IT!!!”
Followed, if one were really good, by tears. (I was really good. Just FYI.)
Back to my story . . .
Mom would immediately bring the problem into ‘Mom’ focus with the words: “Well, I don’t know where I put it when I wore it last!”
We would frown because adult-sized Mom would never, ever have fit into it.
And this was NOT helpful!
Then she would laugh.
Whereupon (good word!) we would sigh and slump and renew our search.
So, back to my grandson. The three-year-old standing indignantly in the middle of the kitchen.
I smiled. “Well, Sweetie, I don’t know where I put it when I wore it last!”
He frowned at me.
I heard laughter from the periphery. And “I remember Mom saying that to me!”
Good family sayings traverse generations.
What were yours?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Eleven Twenty-Twos

My foot hurts. I don’t know why; it keeps its own council. But this morning when I first walked, it hurt.

Yesterday, it was my shoulder. It—creaked—whenever I moved it. And forget lifting or carrying anything. It was just determined to hurt.

My knees are always ‘iffy’. Most days, we get along. But occasionally, we are at odds. One or the other—or both.

And forget my memory. I mean, really forget my memory. Things from when I was 4 are crystal clear. Breakfast? Never happened.

I used to listen to ‘old people’ talk about their aches and pains. And think, “I will never get to that point!”

I was wrong. Now it isn’t unusual for a bowel movements discussion between Husby and me to take up an entire lunch.

How did I get here? I was young a moment ago. Strong. Elastic. Now I wear wrist and elbow guards to skate.

I worry about falling. What if I break into pieces and all the king’s horses and men can’t put me back together?

Getting old isn’t for sissies. There, I said it. My baby sister posted something yesterday that I think expresses this time nicely:

I came. I saw. I forgot what I was doing, decided to retrace my steps and got distracted on my way back.

“Now I have no idea what’s going on and realized my hip hurts. And I have to pee.” Yep. This is me.

Today my fellow Word Counters and I are sharing our monthly group post. Each month one group member picks a number between 12 and 74. All participating bloggers are then challenged to write something (or a few somethings, as the case may be) using that exact number of words. Today's number is 22 and was generously donated by Karen of Baking in a Tornado!
Today we all share what we came up with.
Go and see what the others have created!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Sneaky Words

It started out with Dr. Seuss,
And went from there to Mother Goose,
Then Nancy Drew, (clues to deduce),
And any horse tale and excuse.

I loved the mysteries, yes, it’s true,
And romance—some. Well, not a few,
The classics gripped me through and through,
Till Sci-Fi came to my purview.

Distracted when I’d clean or cook,
E’en though I vowed for ‘just one look’,
That’s all it took the get me hooked
To quote my Mom: ‘Lost in a Book!’

But lots of things I did take in,
Some facts and figures, yes, some sins,
Times I’d cry and times I’d grin,
But always magic found within!

But something I can’t say enough,
To whom all books are wondrous stuff,
The what and where of words? Creampuffs!
Pronunciation, though, is tough.

"One way to identify a reader? They know where and how to use a word. They just don’t know how to pronounce it!” *
     *Grant Tolley

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?
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 we've something great in store,
We'll talk about An Ancestor!

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?