Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, December 31, 2021

Starting Out Bad

This wretched ol' pandemic has our mood a little low,
And if it lasts much longer, we'll know nothing else but woe,
It behooves us to remember: others, too were just as down,
But because they didn't give up, soon, success erased their frowns!

Things progressed as normal, as the bright sun sailed that day,
And then we watched in awe as Mister Moon got in the way,
And isn’t that a bit like life? Our plans flow normally,
Then all at once, there’s something comes that we did not foresee . . .

Percy was an engineer, known for brains, not brawn,
Was fiddling with some microwaves from a magnetron.
Then the chocolate in his pocket melted there, right where it was,
His discovery? The microwave. To worldwide applause.

Play-Doh: It was made to clean the paper on the wall.
But poor results and sales had the business in free-fall.
But when kids started using it for their crafts and games,
It gave the struggling company cash and quite a bit of fame.

Harry couldn’t get cyanoacrylate to work.
Instead of forming what he wished, it stuck. ‘Twas quite a quirk.
Then suddenly he realized that he’d made a breakthrough,
And what he had invented would be known as Super Glue.

Teflon wasn’t what Roy Plunkett started out to make,
He wanted different CFC’s, but he made a mistake.
Instead of gas, he found white flakes, intriguing little bits.
You’ll love it on your non-stick pans for when you’re frying grits.

Velcro was an accident, invented via dog.
When George took his pet hunting: picking burrs, the epilogue.
When closely studied, George could see the tiny little ‘hooks’.
He experimented and he won. It’s there in all the books.

So just because the sun is hidden for a tiny spell,
You simply do not have to fear that things aren’t going well.
And just ‘cause life is different than what you may have planned,
Sometimes, it is the unforeseen that truly makes it grand

Welcome to our Monthly Poetry Challenge!
This month's topic? Moods
Did I help lift yours?

Excited for more?
Read what the other challengers have crafted!

Thursday, December 30, 2021


It's tougher than it looks...

Mom was an excellent cook.
She could make almost anything taste fantastic.
She did have her weaknesses.
Her soggy boiled spinach was consumed only with copious amounts of vinegar or butter.
And we won’t even mention her disastrous attempts at lutefisk (specifically prepared cod).
Though I have to admit I have yet to find anyone who can make that eat-able.
Moving on . . .
Mom taught me how to cook.
Of course I was always a better taste-er than cook-er.
But let’s not go there.
She showed me how to make a pot roast.
And how to use the drippings for smooth and delicious, gravy.
Mostly, my forays into the heavenly land of roasted meat and gravy were acceptable.
Sometimes, they weren’t.
But it was one of those ‘less-than-satisfactory’ occasions that gave rise to a new family tradition . . .
On Sundays, before leaving for church, Mom had taught me to put a roast in the oven. Thus, when the family returned from services, the smell of deliciousness would be wafting through the house, making mouths water and giving the impression that food was forthcoming.
Which it was.
Eagerly, the family would perform such tasks as: Changing out of ‘Sunday’ clothes. Setting the table. Drooling.
While Mom (me) whipped up the accompaniments to the main dish.
In short order, everyone was seated and shoveling.
Until Mom (me, again) brought out the gravy.
Now, up until now, my gravy had been a little on the thin side.
On this auspicious day, it was . . . thick.
Really thick.
Eat with a fork thick.
Husby took the bowl, obligingly spooned some of the contents onto his potatoes and beef.
Spread it around with his knife.
And made an unfortunate comment of which the words ‘wallpaper paste’ alone were discernible.
Can I say it? It made me . . . crabby.
Let me get the turpentine to thin it out crabby.
After that, when the smell of roast beef drifted through the air, Husby was the person at the stove, making the gravy.
It has become a family tradition.
And his gravy is legendary.
He doesn’t flaunt his superiority.
Okay, maybe he does.
A little.
But it’s well-deserved.
Isn’t it amazing when traditions are started for the sole purpose of not endangering lives?

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Fifty Day Wednesday #20

Because I felt like telling a joke on this fifty word Wednesday...

I need you to tell me something because it’s really bothering me…

Does this sound fair?

Why is it that when Venus lies around naked in a clamshell, she’s worshipped and considered a goddess.

But when I do it, I’m considered drunk and am ‘no longer welcome at the aquarium’.

Today is Fifty Day Wednesday!

And that means another challenge to tell a story using ONLY fifty words.

Thank you so much, Adela, for opening this new world to me . . .

Sooo fun!

This is an uber-fun, uber-challenging exercise.
Join us!

Leave your contribution in the comments...

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Scary One

This story is fiction, but largely based on my beloved Aunt Emily. The original Miss Ernestine.

Her name was Miss Ernestine.
And the kids in the neighbourhood were terrified of her.
We all called her Miss Scare-estine.
Miss Ernestine was a maiden lady.
A tall, slender person. Always impeccably groomed.
She had many talents.
For thirty-five years, she had taught home economics to hundreds of young girls at the local high school. Now, in retirement, she spun and wove. Was a seamstress extraordinaire. And worked in her garden - a cool, wondrous place that could sometimes be glimpsed through the slats of her back fence - with carefully laid-out tracks and flowered borders. 
But her greatest talent was her ability to stare at kids through reading glasses that magnified her eyes to unbelievable proportions. 
And see into their souls.
At any time of the day, you could see her sitting beside her great front window, spinning.
And watching.
Soaking up the intimate details of the actions of the kids on the block.
Obviously recording them in her steel-trap brain to tell our parents later.
The moment any of us stepped out through the front door of our homes, we felt like little insignificant insects under the careful watch of a giant, bug-eyed scientist. 
Whenever her sharp, magnified blue eyes turned toward me, I could feel my face turn crimson and my heart speed up. Or my face drain of colour and my heart stop. In fact, I was always in a state of mottled anxiety: red, turning white. Or white, turning red. 
Fear does those things to you.
Sometimes, we would see one or more of the adults on the street stop and chat with her. 
But it was obvious that, when it came to the art of jovial conversation, she  . . . struggled.
Okay let’s face it; she was as stiff as last year’s Christmas tree.
She would spend her time correcting any hapless person who chanced to make a comment that fell within her areas of expertise. And said areas of expertise included any and all topics.
She was sharp, critical, outspoken and downright scary.
And the bane of the entire block’s worth of children.
And then my mother got sick.
At first, it was ‘just the flu’, and would be over and done with shortly.
But it stayed, and worsened.
Finally, the doctor diagnosed it as pneumonia.
He assured us that, with proper care, she would recover and continue to live a full and happy life.
But she did need that proper care.
And how she was going to get it as a single lady with six kids - and the eldest only ten - was anyone’s guess. 
Then came that knock on the front door.
My older sister answered it.
And there was Miss Ernestine, loaded down with boxes and bags.
Without even waiting for a ‘come in’, however timidly it might have been offered, she swept into the place and . . . took over.
For the next week, she cooked for us, cleaned, did laundry, helped with homework, kissed boo-boos and nursed my mother.
Bedtimes, though strictly enforced, were a relaxing time of storytelling and learning about bygone days as Miss Ernestine regaled us with tales of growing up in the mad, wonderful city of San Francisco in the roaring twenties. Of her wish for marriage and children that never came to fruition. Of her careful watching of the neighbourhood children to make sure they were safe and happy.
The day that I woke up to see my mother once more installed in the kitchen was both the best – and the worst – of my life.
And later, when Miss Ernestine disappeared out the front door, laden again with boxes and bags, I thought my heart would break cleanly in two.
After that, things on our street were different.
Gone was the fear. The dread. The ignorance and uncertainty.
Armed with the knowledge and understanding of a different perspective, we discovered there was something else that Miss Ernestine excelled at.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Fruitcake Friends

There are many kinds of fruitcake, true,

Some are sweet (kids like them, too!)

Others nutty, lots of crunch,

Some have alcohol—pack a punch,

Some are firm and never spoil,

All are made with love and toil,

You must admit, they can’t be beat,

Firm or sauced or nutty, sweet,


So great to have mid joy or strife…

My friends are the fruitcake in my life!


Thank you for being my friends!

Photo Credit: Karen of
Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With gentle thoughts,
Perhaps a grin?
So KarenCharlotteMimi, 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, come, we’re counting sheep,
Cause our new topic will be SLEEP!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks (with a huge thank-you to Mimi, who comes up with so many of them!)...
Fruitcake (December 27) Today!

Sleep (January 3)

Peculiar People (January 10) 

Ditch Your New Year's Resolutions (January 17)

Opposite Day (January 24)

Typo Day (January 31) Celebrate those funny (autocorrect) mistakes. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

A Christmas Story Beyond the Statute of Limitations

A guest post from little brother, Blair!


I tell this story with a certain amount of hesitance because it demonstrates how hard headed I can be.  A number of years ago when I was in grade school, we were rapidly approaching Christmas.  When I talked with my friends, the main topic that ruled our conversations was what we wanted.


This one particular Christmas season, all of us seemed to be having trouble with a member of our class.  This person did not come from the best home life and I believe acted out because of what was happening there.  As young kids in elementary school we didn’t understand this. We just thought this person was annoying because it was their desired behavior.  Unfortunately, we were not kind in return.


During the beginning of the Christmas season, some of my friends and I were in Sunday school class, engaged in a conversation that involved our frustration with our classmate’s negative behavior.  We were not saying very kind things about this person.  Kind of ironic to talk about this in Sunday school.


Our dear kind and gracious Sunday school teacher didn’t begin her lesson like usual, but let the class talk for a few minutes.  As I think about it now, I’m sure she was disappointed in our attitudes.  She probably asked herself, “have any of these kids heard anything that I have been trying to teach them this year?”  


Finally, she called the class to order and she said that we need to be charitable to other people.  We all agreed.  Then she said that we are going to put this into practice by preparing a Christmas package with special treats and gifts for the family of our troublesome classmate.  We immediately protested.  Somehow we forgot the lesson about charity.  Thankfully, our wonderful teacher persisted and we all agreed to contribute and picked an evening where we could take the package to the doorstep of our classmate’s home.  

The idea was to set the package on the doorstep, ring their bell and then run away so they could not see who had left it.

Finally the day came and we all brought gifts and placed them in the package.  Luckily, our classmate’s family lived 2 houses from the corner of the block so our getaway would be easy. Our Sunday school teacher parked her car around the corner and we took the package to the house of our classmate.  Our little caper worked like clockwork which is amazing for young elementary age school boys.  We set the package on the step, rang the bell, ran down the street and around the corner to our Sunday school teacher’s car and piled in.  


Our Sunday school teacher immediately drove away and we waited for a few minutes a block away.  Then, we drove by our classmate’s home and saw that the father was still looking out the front door onto the street.  

The feeling that we had after that experience picked us all up and filled us with joy.  From that point, Christmas began to take on a new perspective for me.  


I also started to see my classmate from a different perspective as well.  I started to realize not everyone had a wonderful home like I grew up in and I should be more considerate of other individuals because their challenges were MUCH worse than the ones that I had.  I also learned that the best Christmases were the ones that I was able to do something for others.  That brings the greater joy.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Good Day

Through the front window, the snow could be seen, softly falling, dusting the world in a thick blanket of pristine white.

Already, the branches of the lone pine in the front yard were heavily laden. The fallow flower beds, devoid of the rampant growth of summer, had, at least for a time, lost their forlorn and empty look in favour of a magical coverlet.

The ‘White Christmas’ of Crosby and fellow crooners was a reality.

And we could see none of it.

Well, the white stuff, obviously, because we were out in that.

But our view was of it covering the windshield of the car as we waited in yet another snarl of traffic, breathing in the fragrance of the car exhaust of a thousand shoppers as each of them scurried in an equal number of directions to find that last ‘perfect’ gift.


It hadn’t been so bad, really.

In fact, we had enjoyed it. We were together. We had just filled—even overfilled—our tummies with Dim Sum eaten with several of our Chicks and Chicklets. Now we had one last place to go before heading home to light a fire and spend the rest of the day reveling in that view from the front window (see above).

And that one last place was Husby’s favourite store on earth—Lee Valley Tools. The magical place that had made an inspired pairing of our two loves—woodworking and gardening—under one roof.

He had gone ahead into the store while I, content with my full tummy and a book on Kindle, waited in the car.

Then, as the minutes stretched, I began to think of all the fun gadgets and possible stocking stuffers that Lee Valley had to offer.

I decided to join him.

Now Lee Valley Tools isn’t a large store, but there are banks and banks of really good goods. The gardening department is to the right. Larger woodworking tools to the left. Kitchen curiosities and awesome toys further to the back. Order desks line the entire wall on the far side.

A patient line of people clutching newly-acquired goods waited for the ‘next available checkout’.

A masked greeter with merry brown eyes chirped out a happy “Good afternoon!” to me as I walked in shaking the snow from my shoulders. “Is there something I can help you find?” he added.

I smiled, hoping it showed above my mask. “I’m looking for a husband!” I answered.

His eyes widened. “Ummm . . . we don’t get much call for that,” he said. “I don’t know that I can help you.” He looked around the socially-distanced, but still bustling room. “There are a lot to choose from . . .”

I laughed. “I’m fairly particular. How about I wander and just look for myself?”

His eyes smiled. “That’s probably best.”

Husby is not a short man and I could see his furry hat above the racks on the far side of the room, in front of the order desks. I hurried over.

“Don’t look!” he said, covering something he had just been handed by the clerk.

I dutifully turned my back while said clerk obligingly stuffed that ‘something’ into a thick, brown paper bag, then followed Husby as he made his way one-customer-at-a-time to the checkout.

Soon, business transacted, we headed, once more, for the doors.

I caught the eye of the greeter as we passed him. “I found one!” I sang out. “He looks pretty nice. I think I’ll take him.”

“Glad we could help!” he answered. “Come back again soon!”

Soon we were back in the car and not long after that, seeing that view (see above--again) from our front window.

Yep. All in all, a good day.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Fifty Day Wednesday #19

It was growing late. The nurse in the children’s ward heard little Spencer in his room—talking. And talking. Finally, she spoke into the intercom, “All right, Spencer, it’s time to go to sleep now.”
There was quiet in the room, and then Spencer’s little voice, “OK, God, I will.” 

Today is Fifty Day Wednesday!

And that means another challenge to tell a story using ONLY fifty words.

Thank you so much, Adela, for opening this new world to me . . .

Sooo fun!

This is an uber-fun, uber-challenging exercise.
Join us!

Leave your contribution in the comments...

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Sweet Smell of Success



My home town of Milk River, Alberta is a small place just north of the Canada/US border.
Tucked into the heart of farming/ranching country.
Generational farms and ranches surround it on all sides.
The Milk River, itself, meanders quietly through.

Cue: Suspenseful Music.


A peaceful little oasis, perfect for raising families and finding harmony.
In the sixties (my time), all the homes built on the edges of the town looked out, quite literally on farm fields.
And, on the west side of town, one feed lot.


Okay, yes, I will admit that said feed lot was across the tracks and behind the seed-cleaning plant.
But, let’s face it. It was still very, very close to the town.

Closer than some of said houses.
And older than most of them.

My dad raised bulls in that feed lot.
It was…handy.

I should maybe explain—for any of you not familiar with cattle feed lots—erm…what they are.

A feed lot is simply a large series of corrals in which cattle are fattened.

Think of Hansel and Gretel.
To the same purpose.
Without a grieving Papa. Much less candy.

And no witches.

Moving on . . .
Beef cattle are, twice daily, fed a mixture of grains and yummy nutritious stuff. (Again, no candy: see above.)

The cattle happily slurp this up, then wander aimlessly around the corrals… and grow.
When they reach a certain size, they are sold either as breeding stock.
Or as dinner.

In a cow, as in any living being, sustenance goes in one end.

Something else comes out the other.
Let’s be classy and call it ‘effluent’.

A poorly-run feed lot will leave said effluent.
For years.
A well-run operation cleans it away.

Every spring.

Ours was a well-run operation.
And said cleaning was a… smelly proposition.

And now the feed lot’s proximity to the town comes into play . . .
Early one spring, just after thaw, Dad decided it was time to clean the ol’ corrals.

He hired a specialized team, who moved in with loaders and trucks.

In no time, the corrals were tidy and clean.
The evil-smelling  ‘gleanings’ were spread on a nearby field as fertilizer.
Job finished. Money paid. Hands shaken.
Dad went back to his regular day…

Now, the town of Milk River has one distinctive anomaly.

Oh, it has beauty.
It has peace and prosperity.
It also has wind.
Mostly from the west.
That springs up . . . whenever.
Usually at the worst, possible time.

Within minutes of that field being spread, the west wind started to blow.

I probably don’t have to tell you where the accompanying smell went.
Fortunately, the pain was short-lived.
The hot, dry wind’s influence proved to be twofold. Yes, it was causing acute respiratory ickiness; but it also dried the effluent quickly.

The smell died.


Within 12 hours, Milk River’s residents could once more happily breathe the sweet, clean air.
But the damage had been done.
The town secretary, unused to the common smells of ranch life in the spring, decided to take matters into her own hands.

She wrote a letter.
On town stationary.
The letter informed my dad that “under no circumstances would he be allowed to operate a feed lot in close proximity to the town.”
Dad stared.
The feed lot had been there since time began.

Certainly since Milk River had been there.
Was he really expected to shut his business/livelihood, down?
He went to the mayor.
Who went to the council.

Who went to the secretary.
Apparently the letter had been written without the authorization of any…erm… authority.

Dad didn’t have to stop using the feed lot.

Something about it being an old established business…?
But new procedures were introduced. By him.
After that, he did try to be a bit more judicious about what he spread and where.

Pun intended.


Today’s post is a writing challenge. Each month one of the participating bloggers pick a number between 12 and 50. All bloggers taking part that month are then challenged to write using that exact number of words in their post either once or multiple times. 

This month’s word count number is: 43

It was chosen by: Mimi!


Check out my fellow bloggers and see how they used the number!  


Links to the other Word Counters posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Messymimi’s Meanderings

Monday, December 20, 2021

Remembering to Music

Early mornings on a ranch 

all started like an avalanche,
A tottering pile of chores to do 
and food to cook and life renew.
All those days began with Dad, 
all freshly cleaned, in robe of plaid,
Standing in your bedroom door, 
to tell you sleeping time was o’er,
The sun was rising, up you’d get, 
the time had come to toil and sweat.
But Sundays always started slow, 
no need to really jump. And go,
One could lay in bed and dream,
               you were in Heaven, it would seem,
Soft music flowed around you there,
               starting low, just like a prayer,
Then rising, swirling, every note,
               by horns and strings would love emote,
One knew that Dad had placed a stack
               of music on the player’s rack,
Cause that’s how Sundays started out,
               With soft notes swirling all about.
O’er fifty years have slipped on by,
               all in the blinking of an eye,
But still my childhood lingers on,
               though many who were there are gone,
Cause when I hear those flowing strains,               
               ‘tis Sunday morning, once again.

Photo Credit: Karen of
Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With gentle thoughts,
Perhaps a grin?
So KarenCharlotteMimi, 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, something you will crave...
Yes, all ‘bout FRUITCAKE, we will rave!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks (with a huge thank-you to Mimi, who comes up with so many of them!)...

Music (December 20)Today!
Fruitcake (December 27)

Sleep (January 3)

Peculiar People (January 10) 

Ditch Your New Year's Resolutions (January 17)

Opposite Day (January 24)

Typo Day (January 31) Celebrate those funny (autocorrect) mistakes. 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Getting it Right

 “Wow! That has to be the most amazing tree we’ve ever had!”

Sally grinned at me. “Right?” She moved forward and adjusted one of the lights. “I knew as soon as I saw it that it had to be ours!”

Mort spoke up, “And what makes it truly amazing is the fact that it fits in here like it was made for the space!”

Mom, Peter and I looked around.

Mort had a point. This front, ‘living room’ part of Sally’s house (well, technically, it belongs to her, but the rest of us, except for Peter, also call it home.) with its 30-foot vaulted ceiling, is perfect for a 29-and-a-half-foot tree.

Which is what we were looking at.

A tree that, according to Sally, was just sitting there at the Tree Corral (astute business name) at the end of the block, surrounded by boxes and packing crates and largely being ignored by the passers-by.

Mort and Sally opened the nearest box of decorations and pulled out our tree star.

“Hmmm . . .” Mom said. “Perhaps it’s time for a new one?”

I probably don’t have to say it—that star has been through a lot.

“Mort and I will do that later!” Sally said.

Mom nodded as she also opened a box. Then she looked up at the tree. “I think this is the first tree with enough space for all of our decorations.” She looked at Peter. "Could you fetch the ladder?"

He nodded and disappeared.

Sally’s mouth was a round ‘O’ of excitement. “Seriously?! ALL the decorations?” She dove for another in the stack of boxes. “Even these?” She began to pull out the decorations that were . . . less than perfect. And far from the quality found in your average dollar store at Christmas time. These were the nearest and dearest to her heart. Those she and I had made during our years of school. The flocked, tattered snowmen that had spent as much time in our hands during the season as they had on the tree. The penguins, Santas, angels, farm animals and puppies, ditto; each painstakingly crafted from toilet-paper rolls, wire, string, pipe-cleaners, the occasional light bulb, and tons (and tons) of glue.

Happily, Sally and Mort began to find places for them in the grasshopper-green boughs.

“It’s pretty amazing that you managed to get a pre-lit one,” Mom said as she began stringing endless swaths of garland around the wide girth of the tree.

“I know!” Sally giggled. “I have to keep pinching myself to know that this is real!”

“Well, if you get tired of pinching yourself, I’m happy to help,” I put in.

Sally stuck out her tongue at me. Then reached for another handful of ornaments.

It took the better part of an hour, but, eventually, the five of us managed to empty every. Single. Box.


All that was left was the star at the top.

We were standing, looking from our tattered veteran to that one empty spot when the doorbell rang.

Peter, who had just stepped into the kitchen for a glass of water hollered from the front entryway, “I’ll get it!”

The four of us stayed where we were, enjoying the sight of the oversized tree in the oversized spot.

“I thought you might be able to use this,” a deep voice said.

We turned.

Our Peter’s Uncle Peter was standing in the doorway, holding up an oversized star.

Huh. How did he know . . .?

Mom hurried over to him, hand outstretched. “Pete! I’m so glad you could come!”

You have to know that the rest of the household has been watching this developing friendship for over a month now. Let’s face it, when a man’s first introduction to a family includes being covered from tip to toe in paint—and he returns—there is something going on.

He set the star down, took Mom’s hand in both of his and smiled at her, his sun-browned face crinkling at the corners. At times like this, his resemblance to his nephew, our Peter, is remarkable.

“A little bird told me you might need this.” He picked up the star.

I looked at Peter, who winked.

“It’s perfect, Pete!” Mom smiled at him and, for just a moment, my heart turned over. I mean, how awesome would it be for Mom to find someone after all these years alone? My eyes turned unwillingly toward Sally. Well . . . nearly alone.

He and Mom moved toward the tree. “The only challenge is how to get it up there.”

“I can do it!” Sally sang out.

My heart stopped. Please, no.

“We just need the right tool,” Uncle Pete said. “And the talent! I think Mary’s trusty step ladder, here, and a couple of men named Peter can get the job done.”

I started breathing again.

Three minutes later, it was done. Uncle Pete plugged the star into the top string of lights and his nephew plugged the other end into the wall and we were in business.

The tree lit up from bottom to top.

It was . . . magical.

Uncle Pete grinned down at my mom, then turned for a final look at his star before beginning the climb back down. His eyes were drawn to something outside our window. “Huh,” he said. “Why are the cops here?”

Mom’s face went pale and her eyes went, out of habit, to Sally. “C-cops?”

Sally shrugged and wandered back to the tree, adjusting a couple of ornaments. 


She propped her hands on her hips. “Why does everyone always think it’s something to do with me?”

“Because it usually is,” I said.

Sally sighed. “All Mort and I did this morning was go to the lot. Throw some money at the man. Push the tree over onto the car. And drive home!”

Mom scratched her head. “Really?”


Just then the front doorbell rang.

I clutched Peter’s hand. A reflex thing.

Sally hopped happily to the door and swung it wide. “Hello, officers! Come in!”

“Hey, Sally!” one of the officers said. “We’re here to investigate a theft.” He and his partner stepped into the foyer, which opened directly into the front room—in full view of our new tree. He looked up at it. “Of this tree.”

“Wha-at?” Mom looked like she was going to faint. Uncle Pete put an arm around her.

Sally spoke up. “I didn’t steal it! I bought it!”

The officer frowned. “The tree-lighting coordinator reported it stolen.”

Sally stared at him. “What does she have to do with it?”

“Apparently she and her crew were in the process of decorating. Then they took a break. When they came back, it was gone.”

Sally blinked.

I stared at her. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen her actually . . . react to one of her own conflicts.

 “Well why was it at the lot?”

“It was beside the lot.”


Mort spoke up. “Sally just threw $200.00 at the man and he told her to take any tree.”

Sally shrugged. “I thought that included this one.”

The officers looked at Sally. Then at the tree. Then at Sally again.

“I’m happy to pay the extra,” Sally put in.

One officer stepped back and looked at the great front doors. Then at the tree. Then back at the doors. He grinned at Sally. “How about we come to an agreement?”

It took all of us. We managed to peel off our more precious decorations and speed the tree out those doors and onto our lawn, where it was set up in lonely glory for all to see.

The neighbourhood celebrations were moved to the area of the park across the street and, by the time they started, no one even remembered that Sally (and Mort) had mistakenly stolen Christmas.

The neighbourhood donated a much smaller tree to the Hart household, which was duly decorated, in the shade of its much larger brother in the front yard.

And you know what? In spite of Sally—or maybe because of her, all was merry and bright.

Proving that, sometimes--not often--she gets it right.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Use Your Words is a writing challenge. Each month we participants donate several words and/or phrases to our noble leader, Karen, who then re-distributes them.

The catch is, none of us knows who will get our words and what will be done with them.

Totally fun!

My words this month were: conflict ~ grasshopper ~ peel ~ speed ~ tool And given to me, by my friend Rena at:, Rena! :)

You've read mine, now hop over and see what the other participants have created!

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking InATornado

WanderingWeb Designer


What TFSarah

Part-timeWorking Hockey Mom




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?