Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, October 17, 2020

I (Don't) Spy

Ray Tolley, my father-in-law (hereinafter known as FIL) was a man of integrity. Honest, forthright and industrious, he worked the land on his farm near Fort Macleod, Alberta with skill and patience, gleaning a good crop from the dry land every year but one until his death at the age of seventy.
FIL was a man of faith. Of deep thinking and wisdom.
He was also a man with a wicked sense of humour. Because, let’s face it, how could one have endured the hours he did sitting on a tractor, without one?
From using a ruler to measure ability (which was inevitably ‘nigh onto nothing’), to posing the conundrum, ‘which would you rather be – dumber than you look or look dumber than you are?’ to which the forgone conclusion was always, ‘How could you?’ (Yeah. Try to get out of that one . . .), FIL personified the image of weather-beaten farmer, tanned of face, hard of muscle and clever of tongue.
He had many sayings, most gleaned from family, neighbours and reading, but my personal favourite was when he’d come home and dramatically exclaim to his grandkids that, “I almost saw a coyote today!”
Inevitably, one or more of the younger kids who hadn’t heard this one before would get caught up in the conversation. “Really, Grandpa?” Then the reality of the statement would sink in. “Ummm . . . how do you almost see a coyote?”
The slow grin. The uh-oh look. The sure sign that someone had taken the bait and was about to be ‘had’.
Then, the punch line.
“If he’d been there, I’d have seen him!”
FIL left us nearly 40 years ago and, if he were still alive would be well past 100. But when one of his sayings crops up in a conversation, we know he’ll never truly be gone.
There it is!

Friday, October 16, 2020


Have I ever mentioned that living with Sally is like permanently cozying up with Charon in a small corner of Hell?
Well, it is. And it is.
I wasn’t sure if I should share this story. After all, neighbourhood children (and one mayor) were terrorized in the unfolding of this tale.
At least one of them is considering opening a Special Victims’ Unit for Sally alone.
Moving on…
Sally, Mort and their new sidekick, Scary Gary (my title) had been whispering and giving each other significant looks for a week.
Now, this alone should be cause for alarm.
And being that Halloween is approaching, doubly so.
We were right to fear.
And I have the film footage to prove it…
We have a gazebo in our back yard.
Perfect for a carefully-controlled Halloween celebration, right?
Sally is involved.
Yeah, I can see your perspective shift.
Anyway, this morning, Sally and Mort informed Mom and me they were having a small, socially-responsible get-together tonight in said gazebo and we were invited. 7:00. Costumed. And masked.
Mom and I looked at each other. I could see ‘I’ll-be-under-the-bed’ written all over her face.
We nodded at Sally.
They turned happily and disappeared.
Later, a large truck backed into our driveway and unloaded some tables and other paraphernalia, a boatload of pies, and two people in masks to set everything up.
A few minutes before seven, I peeked into the backyard to see it transformed into a Halloween postcard.
Tables had been set up in the gazebo and loaded with pies and snacks of every kind, with a huge, steaming tureen at the end of the nearer one.
Various figures with glowing eyes stood sentinel around the perimeter of the gazebo, emitting puffs of smoke and alternately shivering or moaning. A chair was positioned in front of each.
The rest of the yard was wreathed in swathes of fog.
The two masked attendants stood on one side of the far table, serving utensils in hand, obviously prepared to…you know…serve.
Sally was dressed as a griffin because, as she had painstaking told me, she wanted angel wings (but really didn’t want to be an angel).
Personally, I had my own opinion about the whole ‘angel’ bit. Some costumes are simply too unbelievable. Who’s with me?
She was holding what looked like a large cherry pie and chatting with the servers from across the table.
I adjusted the skirt of my pirate wench costume, touched the gold hoops dangling from my ears and wished, not for the first time, that Mom was beside me.
She had—probably wisely—opted for her usual spot under her bed.
As I stepped into the yard, the rest of the guests arrived en masse: the kids from the neighbourhood. Seven of them at any rate.
With Scary Gary, dressed rather appropriately as a zombie, in the lead.
At first, the others hovered uncertainly near the gate. Then as Gary, in his best ‘zombie’ fashion, dragged himself across the yard, a witch, a warlock, and a ghost or two quickly followed.
Soon everyone was happily shouting to each other, taking plates of food, finding a chair, and/or chowing down.
Sally, still clutching the pie for whatever reason had stepped back to give them all room.
Her back was to the house.
It was at that moment Mort emerged.
At least I’m assuming it was Mort. But there aren’t many who could pull off the ‘skeleton’ look quite like Sally’s tall, gangly boyfriend.
I remember watching an old movie from Mom’s bygone days about a party that ends in complete and total disaster. Someone at the end asks how on earth it all started and no one knew.
Not so here.
I think I could totally pick the point where disaster first reared its masked and ugly head.
Mort crept up behind Sally and… “Sally!”
She gasped and threw up her hands protectively. Hands that, until very recently, had been holding the pie.
Said pie went straight up.
And stuck to the ceiling of the gazebo.
Did you know pies could do that?
I didn’t.
For just a moment, both Sally and Mort looked up at the pie expectantly. I mean what goes up must come down, right?
It didn’t.
Sally shrugged and turning, punched Mort in the shoulder.
For some reason, I decided I needed to start filming that pie. I took out my phone, pointed, and pressed ‘record’.
A car pulled up just outside the garden gate and four people got out and approached Sally.
“Miss Hart?”
Sally turned to a short, rather squat man dressed in a beautiful tuxedo with matching black mask. She waved. “Hello, Mr. Mayor!”
Did I mention that the city’s mayor lives in our neighbourhood?
Probably not.
Well, he does.
“I’ve brought my kids. Thank you for inviting them!” He turned to the angel and devil beside him. “Taylor? Tyson? Make sure you keep your masks on!”
The boys nodded and headed eagerly toward the far table.
“I must run,” the mayor said. “I’m hosting an international press conference in a few minutes!”
He turned.
And that’s when the pie stopped defying gravity.
Right onto the mayor’s balding head.
Have you seen the damage a very large cherry pie can do to a pristine tuxedo?
I doubt it.
But I probably don’t need to describe.
The mayor was in midstride when it hit and, thrown violently off balance landed heavily on one end of the closest table.
The legs under him collapsed, catapulting the large, smoking tureen at the other end into the air, along with anything else that had been on the table.
Pies began dropping like bombs all over the yard and screaming neighbourhood children boiled about like angry bees.
The great tureen shot with uncanny accuracy right through the garden gate.
Landing with the rather sickening crackle of breaking glass on the front windshield of the mayor’s car.
Where it upended and poured whatever it had contained all over the interior of the formerly spotless vehicle.
I pressed ‘end’ on my video. I mean, who could top that?
Sally turned to the mayor. “Well, you don’t want to be late for your press conference…”

Each month, Karen's Klub joins together to exchange words. Well, actually, we supply the words and Karen shuffles and distributes.
It's totally fun.
And none of us knows who is going to get our words and what they will do with them.

My words this month: witch ~ warlock ~ ghost ~ hell ~ hello, came from the maestro herself, Karen at 
Thank you, dear friend! GREAT words!

Now see what the others in the group have created!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

So Now We Know...

The children’s organization in our church begins when the children are three.
Watching those little ones come into the room for the first time to join the older kids is quite a treat.
They look so tiny.
In an effort to get to know each of the children, a survey is distributed at the beginning of the year.
These are the answers my three-year-old granddaughter (hereinafter called GD3) supplied.
Enough background . . .

Primary Spotlight 2015
I came down to__[earth]__ from my Father above.
My home has __[five]__ people and __[1]__ animals to love.
I like to __[go on doughnut dates]__ with my family.
If you see someone with __[hazel]__ eyes and __[curly brown]__ hair, it could be me.
I like learning about __[the alphabet]__ when I go to school.
When I grow up, I want to be __[four years old]__ (I think that would be cool)
In my spare time, I think __[watching movies with mom]__ is fun.
And I like to eat __[cucumbers and marshmallows]__ when the day is done.
I like the color __[pink, purple and green]__ when I am making art.
On Sunday __[Sunbeams]__ is the class I go to
Singing __[Popcorn Popping]__ is one of my favorite things to do
On __[October 11]__ you can say “Happy Birthday” to me
Thanks for getting to know me!
Each week, one child is selected and the answers are read out one by one.
Then the other children in the room try to guess who the ‘spotlight’ is.
When GD3’s was read, things went something like this:
Teacher: I came down to earth from my Father above.
GD3 (loudly): Hey! I came down to earth too!
Teacher: My home has five people and one animal to love.
GD3 (more loudly): Hey! That’s the same as me!
Teacher: I like to go on doughnut dates with my family.
GD3 (louder yet): Hey! Doughnut dates! That’s what we do!
Teacher: If you see someone with hazel eyes and curly brown hair, it could be me.
GD3: Wow! I have hazel eyes! Look!
I think you can see where this is heading . . .
For every answer read, GD3 was deafeningly ecstatic that someone else liked/did/had the same things she did.
By the time the survey was done, every other person in the room had their hand up.
The first time, ever, that had happened.
Primary. The most entertaining part of Sunday Church attendance.
P.S. I can see a future in theatre, but I do hope GD3 never tries to go into politics.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Ludd and Me


In days of Yore, 

'Mongst rich or poor,

Were those who toiled, and did the chores.

Oft spending years, 

Mid sweat and tears,

To learn their craft, with all their peers.

A 'weaving' flood 

Was in their blood,

Professed to follow Young Ned Ludd.

Like Robin Hood, 

He may have stood,

‘Tween dread machines and livelihood.

These weavers saw, 

In this hoopla,

A loss of work. With sheer chutzpah

Attacked machines 

And owners dreams,

And any mech’nized thing, it seems.

The years have passed, 

Machines amassed,

We’ve mechanized, both thick and fast.

They’re mostly good, 

Machines that would

Produce things faster than we could.

And these machines, 

Provide the means

Of making things from jars to jeans.

But what’s been tossed, 

And what the cost,

Have all our finer skills been lost?

That brings me to, 

My point to you,

And what I have been trying to do.

Cause now, ‘lectrics, 

With nasty clicks,

Have taken over, just for kicks.

I watch in awe, 

My toddlers paw,

And make things work without a flaw.

It makes me mean, 

Those glowing screens,

I picture buying some benzene.

And with a touch, 

(Though not too much),

Remove my source of rage and such.

And with much glee, 

I will be free,

A modern Luddite will I be!

Each month, some poetry, you'll see

There's some from Karen,

Some from me,

I hope that you enjoyed what we,

Have crafted just 

For you to see!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Nine Years Old

I’m cheating a little for this Poetry Monday.
The theme this week is ‘Someone You’ve met’.
And yes, I can remember the very first time I met her. A newborn in her mama’s arms.
Our second daughter’s first daughter.
The ‘cheating’ part is where I admit this poem is not new.
I wrote it for my eldest son when he turned nine.
I have to admit that was a very long time ago.
This time around, it’s for my 1stDof2ndD (see above).
Happy birthday, Sweetie!
Eldest son, Nine Years Old

Newest Nine Year Old

Well, now I'm nine and you can see
The changes time has wrought in me.
I've grown three feet since I was born,
I’m tall and slim as a stalk of corn.

I've learned about so many things,
I know of bikes and kites and strings.
I can cook and clean and comb my hair,
And help my sis with family prayer.

I can haul in wood, or hammer nails,
Or water trees with heavy pails.
I can hold the baby, shine my shoes,
Or sit with you and discuss the news.

I’ve learned to knit quite perfectly,
I can beat you at Monopoly.
I can take out garbage, weed and hoe,
Then eat the carrots, row by row.

In fact I've grown so big and tall,
With doing chores and playing ball,
That maybe you can't really see
How young and weak I still can be.

How I take a ‘friend’ to bed at night,
And ask you to leave on the light.
How I still like my whole face kissed
And like to make a 'Christmas List'.

And even though I numb your knee,
I like to be held tenderly.
I like to know that you are proud
And have you tell me right out loud.

Please understand, with all my size,
With knowing looks in big brown eyes,
That I am not as old, you see
As my outside appears to be.

Ignore my size and adult airs,
Forget that I've climbed lots of stairs.
Just hug and kiss and try to see
That little child inside of me.

And now a LITTLE treat:

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 now you've read what we have wrought...
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Next week we'll denigrate or praise,
The interesting Diet Craze!

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!

Search This Blog

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?