Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, November 13, 2020

A Too Cozy Cabin

Or something similar...

Okay, the idea of staying for a couple of weeks in a cabin in the woods at the edge of a pristine lake should sound like a specific slice of heaven.
To normal people.
Mom and I are bringing Sally.
What could possibly go wrong?
Things started out…normally.
With a, “This is the place!” Sally dragged her suitcase across the wide porch and into the cabin.
Which was beautiful, I had to admit. A snug, shaggy, little dwelling with cedar siding and wood shakes, it looked to be one with the surrounding forest.
Across a small clearing was another cabin, remarkably the same.
I looked at it, then at Mom, one eyebrow raised.
She smiled. “Don’t worry, Dear. When Sally booked us, the landlord told her the other cabin would be unoccupied during our stay.”
I nodded as my COVID senses stopped tingling.
The two of us followed my sister inside.
Sally had already disappeared into one of the three bedrooms. Her voice floated back to us. “Oh, this is really nice!”
Mom and I looked around at a wide fireplace, comfortable sitting room, tiny but functional kitchen and bathroom and three golden-wood paneled bedrooms, brightened with the addition of hand-worked quilts and folksy wall hangings.
Everything was scoured and clean.
Mom sank into a chair in front of a crackling little fire. “Now the holiday can begin!” she said.
Looking from the large windows, I could see we were perched on the edge of the lake. The porch wrapped around to a wide deck on the back, which, in turn, led to a dock. A small rowboat dragged from a rope tied to one of the dock posts.
The rest of the day passed relatively peacefully.
If one of your relatives hadn’t been Sally.
After supper, in true ‘Sally’ fashion and holding an enticing bit of enchilada, she coaxed the neighbourhood cat inside. The ‘cat’ that turned out to be a possum. Needless to say, Mom and Sally and I had an entertaining time chasing the wretched creature around until it finally found our pile of ‘enticings’ out on the deck and vacated the premises.
Exhausted, Mom and I headed for bed the minute we got things set right again.
The next morning, just as the weak morning sunshine was beginning to light my room, I was shocked awake by a loud “AAAAHHHHHH!!”
Sally had just seen a rat.
A bit bleary-eyed, Mom and I searched until we found a store of traps while Sally sat on the kitchen table hugging her pantyhose-encased feet.
Mom baited a trap with a bit of peanut butter and set it.
A while later we heard it snap.
As I carried the trap to the garbage, Sally studied it carefully.
Then she shook her head. “No,” she said. “That’s not him.” 
Though we didn’t see any more, Mom and I were rather twitchy for the rest of the holiday…
Other than those little hiccups, we really had no disasters until the last one.
The ‘Sally’ bomb that must detonate.
Let me tell you about it…
Sally had gone out for a walk.
Which was, to the rest of us, a clarion call to batten down the hatches.
Sure enough, a short time later, she returned with something under one arm and breathing hard.
“Quick, close the door!” she shrieked.
I did so as she moved to the kitchen table and set something down.
Something furry.
That squalled.
Sally stepped back. “Ta-daaaa!”
Mom and I were staring at the cutest little baby bear.
I felt my heart stop.
A baby bear here meant that a mama bear was…
Somewhere outside, we heard an ear-numbing roar.
The front door may be water tight, but it obviously allowed for sound leakage.
“Uh-oh,” Sally said, rather breathlessly. “He was all by himself and I …”
Another roar. This one just outside.
“Quick girls!” Mom shouted. “Head for the back!”
Pushing us ahead of her, and grabbing up the car keys and poker as she ran, Mom hustled us toward the back bedroom. Hers in fact.
Just as we reached the entry, the front door blew in, accompanied by yet another roar. This one within the confines of what was becoming an increasingly tiny house.
Mom slammed the bedroom door.
Sally and I looked at her. “But Mom. There’s no back . . .”
That was as far as I got.
Mom swung the poker with purpose and shattered the large back window.
The one that had heretofore looked out over nothing more than the other cabin. And peace.
She threw her colourful quilt over the slivery remains of the panes and gave us another shove.
“Out we go, girls!”
The three of us scrambled over the sill and dropped to the ground.
We heard another roar as we dove into the car and slammed the doors shut. Mom started the car and we backed up the drive.
My last view of the cabin included a large bear’s head poking out of the window of Mom’s former room.
Sally was looking sad. “I thought I’d found a real live teddy bear.”
“You found a real live death!” Mom muttered.
“How can you get a real, live dea . . .” Sally saw the look on Moms’ face and let her voice die away.
“Mom, that bear is going to trash that nice cabin,” I said after a few minutes. “Will their insurance cover that?”
“I’m sure it will, honey.” Mom made a face. “They used to call it ‘Act of God’ insurance. Dunno what it is now.”
“‘Act of Sally’ insurance,” I whispered into her ear.
“Now THAT would be expensive.”

Use Your Words is one of my favourite challenges!

Each of us participants submits words.
And our intrepid leader, Karen re-distributes those words.
To hi-jinx and hilarity!
My words this month were: cabin ~ edge ~ leakage ~ pantyhose ~ specific
And were generously donated to me, through Karen, by my amazing friend, Rena of
Thank you, Rena! This was SO MUCH FUN!
Now go and see what the other participants have created!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Singing As We Go

With grandchildren
Our family was camping.
With our good friends, the Boyd family.
Something we had done every year.
For Over 30 years.
Rain or shine.
Usually rain.
It involved work.
Setting up trailers and tents for nearly thirty people inevitably included some sort of exertion.
 1.  There were the usual ‘tarp wars’.
Won by whichever family could set up the best, tightest, most wrinkle-free campsite covering.
 2.  The leveling of the tents/trailers.
Highly important if some members of the tribe were susceptible to the headache inevitably brought on by sleeping with one’s head tilted below one’s feet.
 3.  And the choosing of the ‘Boydolley’ camp song.
This was very important. It had to be the most aggravating, annoying, ‘stick in your head’ song imaginable.
We’d had such treasures as: ‘Oh, How I Love to Stand’.
And: ‘Hi! My Name is Joe!’
Plus the ever-popular: ‘Ninety-Nine Bottles of Non-Alcoholic Beverage on the Wall’.
And who can forget: ‘Jon Jonson’?
Seriously, who can forget it . . .?
And then there was the year that the Grandkids were finally old enough to get involved.
And vote.
What did they choose?
What classic would take its rightful place in history?
Was it something momentous?
It was ‘Slithery Dee’.
The classic song featuring a monster that comes out of the sea and eats everyone.
Perfect camp fare.
For a family camped beside a lake.
Moving on . . .
There were various versions.
Depending largely on the age and capability of the singer.
Megan, the eldest could sing it quite well, “Oh, Slithery-Dee!”
Right behind her was Kyra, “Oh, Swivery-Dee!”
And then there was the youngest talker, Odin, “Oh, Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee!”
They sang it by the hour.
And I do mean By. The. Hour.
Until . . . THE EVENT.
It was early afternoon.
Lunch had just finished.
Grandma (me) was lying on the bed in our tent trailer, telling stories to as many of the grandkids as would lie there and listen.
At nearest count – several.
Then they asked to sing ‘Slithery-Dee’.
I complied.
We were just getting through the first verse, wherein (good word) Megan had been eaten, when we were interrupted.
I should tell you, here, that our little tent trailer consisted of a central square block.
With three wings/beds.
Each wing was covered by the main canvas, which folded around and hooked under said wing.
Canvas that could be . . . un-hooked.
Without the person, or persons, on the wing knowing anything about it.
Back to my story . . .
Where were we?
Oh, yes.
End of the first verse.
Unbeknownst (another good word!) to us, my Husby had unhooked the canvas immediately below us.
Just as we started to sing, “Oh, Slithery-Dee!”, a hand and arm reached up through the wall of the trailer and grabbed the nearest grandchild.
Who promptly screamed.
Inciting an immediate riot.
Grandma and grandchildren boiled out of the trailer like angry bees.
Realizing what had happened, we started to laugh.
Then we fed Grandpa.
To Slithery Dee.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


My heart was aching, woes amassed,

I’d trauma in my recent past,

So when she called to see if I

Could watch her babies by and by,

I turned her down, while pleading woe,

“Give me a year for good to grow,”

And so she did, and called again,

(I was doing somewhat better, then)

I took her girls, tow-headed pair,

They joined with my kids then and there,

Two families became as one,

Us—family herd, her—single Mom,

I learned from her, she learned from me,

But most, she taught what friends could be.

Sometimes I think of days long past,

When hearts were heavy, woes amassed,

And how I could have turned her down,

Allowed myself—through grief—to drown,

And what I would have missed, if I

Said no, when she, to me, applied,

Through her service, love and ‘time well spent’,

I learned what ‘Friendship’ really meant!


This poem has been an exercise

If, from a theme, we could devise

To craft a poem, both wise and new,

And present our labours here, to you!

So tell us what you really think

Of what we've hewed in pen and ink,

We’d like to hear (if you don’t mind),

Be truthful now. Or else be kind! J

Karen at Baking in a Tornado

Lydia at Cluttered Genius

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Dying Right

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. There are so many stories of the courage and bravery of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for those of us who followed.
Here is one.

Richard Rowland Kirkland was eighteen when he enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861, shortly after war had been declared. 
By 1862, Richard had seen many of his closest friends from Kershaw County killed and had fought in some of the largest battles. 
In December of that year, his unit found itself in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

This is the story of that battle...

Richard Rowland Kirkland

Just eighteen when he enlisted,
Richard offered his support,
Of Confederates, his group consisted,
They, the Union army’d thwart!
Within a year, from Kershaw County,
To closest friends, he’d said adieu,
In battles, large, they’d paid the bounty,
And death’s dark veil they hurried through.
In Fredericksburg, there came that fight,
8,000 Union soldiers shot,
Though some were dead at Marye’s Heights,
There’re many hundreds that were not.
Their cries and moans of pain and thirst,
Assaulted ears of South and North,
T’ween this and battle, this was worst,
They needed aid. Someone go forth!
For hours those cries were unrelenting,
But no one hearing, offered aid,
For fear they, too would be consenting
Targets. If from their lines they strayed.
Then Richard, he could stand no more.
Defied the band of army ‘law’,
Behind the lines of his own corps,
Approached his gen’ral Joe Kershaw.
“I’ve got to help!” young Richard told him,
“A flag of truce to bring me home?”
The older officer just looked grim,
And told him he was on his own.
So Richard packed what he could carry,
Blankets, canteens by the pound,
Crossed that ‘No Man’s Land’ so scary,
Reached the first, then started round.
No one fired as our young ‘fighter’,
Dealt compassion by the hour,
Making wounded’s burdens lighter,
Serving with empathic power.
Kindnesses are oft found missing,
When we tell the tales of war,
One fact, we should not be dismissing,
Of Richard Kirkland’s we need more.
Our Richard took a fatal blow,
During Chickamauga’s fight,
"I'm done for," said the 20-year-old.
“Tell my Pa that I died right."

Monday, November 9, 2020

Domest(ick) Incident


They’d been married one week, plus a day,

Sylvester and his good wife, May.

And May thought she should mark the date,

With something special for her mate.


A chicken dinner was her plan

She dug out pot and frying pan,

Consulted her mom’s recipes,

For gastronomic ecstasies.


All afternoon, she cooked and stirred,

By love for her Sylvester, spurred,

At last she had the table set,

With goodies from her kitchenette.


She heard his step upon the stair,

And quickly pulled him to his chair,

He saw the things that she had done

And gently hugged his Honey-bun.


They ate enthusiastically,

Of fluffy spuds and buttered peas,

And other dishes by the score,

Each one, another to adore.


But when the crowning plate arrived,

So very prettily contrived,

He carved, and laid the pieces down,

And poured out fine, rich gravy; brown.


Then the anticipated taste,

And, suddenly, his smile displaced.

“My dear,” he said, with quite a sniff,

“What did you stuff the chicken with?”


She smiled upon him brilliantly,

Then sighed and answered blissfully,

“That part, I didn’t have to follow,

For the chicken wasn’t hollow!”


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 from Mimi, with our love,

Are NEWSPAPERS (or memories of)!

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?