Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, February 13, 2021

God's Tree

My 18th novel has just become 

available to order!

Need something warm and wonderful during these cold, winter months/cool summer evenings?
How about a story about some very special children?

Children are our heritage.
But throughout the world, children are suffering. Disease, famine, war.
It breaks the heart.
What if there was a way to heal these children? To simply take them to a place where any malady: genetic, bacterial, viral, accidental could be freely and instantly healed.
God’s Tree is born from this wish . . .
When DeeAnn and her small family move to the Midwestern United States, they are merely seeking convenience for her husband’s rapidly-growing IT business.
And trees.
What they find, or rather their eight-year-old son, Bryce, finds is something much, much more. One special tree guarded by a creature with a sword.
This ‘Guardian’ allows the young boy to eat the fruit of its tree. And to bring other children to do the same. In each case, these children are instantly and remarkably healed.
By the tens, then by the tens of thousands, children are brought.
And healed.
But in this world, no miracle can go unchallenged. Where most rejoice at these recoveries, there is an element—those whose careers involve the treatment of childhood illnesses—who do not.
The two parties meet in the court case of the millennium, and it is Faith that is on trial.
Who will win? And will the outcome end the miraculous work that goes on at God’s Tree?
This story was a work of love for me.
Because nothing—nothing—is more important than our precious children.
They are our future. Our next generation.
The ones who will be caring for me and my peers when we become too aged and feeble to do so ourselves!
I do hope you enjoy God’s Tree!

Friday, February 12, 2021


“Well, I can’t believe you’d just recycle it without at least letting me know it had come!”

“Come on, Sal, it was just a stupid letter from the bank. One of those ‘We can make you glowingly rich if you give us all your money’ offers.”

“Addressed to me!”

“Or ‘Occupant’.”

“Well, it was my first one and I would like to have been able to at least read it.”

Mort spoke up for the first time. “Isn’t it still there?”

We both looked at him.

“Isn’t it still there? I mean trash day isn’t until tomorrow. So doesn’t that mean the letter will still be in the bin at home?”

“Huh.” Sally suddenly grinned. “Yeah! Clever boy, Mort!” She and Mort shared a high five.

“Come on, you two.” Mom waved a hand. “The elevator’s here.”

“I love these old elevators,” Sally said as she and Mort followed Mom and me inside. “The ones with the old accordion gates. It’s like stepping back into time!”

“Yeah.” Mort’s freckled face was dimpled with smiles. “Cool!”

He and Sally carefully pulled the door shut.

I shook my head. “Well they make me nervous.” It’s true. They do.

Mom looked at me. “Don’t worry, Dear. They inspect these things all the time. I’m sure it’s perfectly safe!” She pushed the button for ‘six’.

I snorted. Of course, we were going to the sixth floor. Why couldn’t the eye doctor take up residence closer to the ground? Like sensible people?

The elevator groaned and started to rise. Slowly. I rolled my eyes and leaned against the brass rail that ran around the inside wall.

Mort and Sally were watching the floor indicator above the door as it passed the two. The three. The four.

And that’s where it stopped.

Along with elevator. With a galvanic jerk that nearly sent us all to our knees.

I gripped the rail. Perfect.

“There’s no box,” Mom said.

“What?” I looked at her. She was indicating the wall beside the controls. “No box.”

“No phone?”

She shook her head.

“Better and better.” I pulled out my phone. “Well I, for one, am not about to…” I held the phone up. Then lifted it above my head. Then walked around the prison…erm…elevator. Then shoved the useless thing back into my pocket.

“No reception?” Mom asked.

“Of course not,” I told her. “We’ve actually stepped back in time.”

“Oooh!” Sally clapped her hands excitedly. “An adventure!”

“Cool!” Mort added.

“Are you kidding me?” Okay, I wasn’t in the best of moods to start with. Because…letter. And maybe a bit of animosity. And now this?

Sally bounced up and down on the balls of her feet.

I put out a hand. “Please stop that.”

She did, but her wide grin went on. And on.

 “Well, we’ll just have to wait until we’re discovered,” Mom said.

I stared at her. “In this centuries-old box? Hanging from a geriatric string hundreds of feet in the air?”

“Honey, I’m sure it’s been inspected…”

“Then why didn’t they install a call-box?”

Mom was silenced.

We slid to the floor, well, Mom and I did. Sally and Mort were making fun new discoveries.

“Look, Mort. Behind this little door is some of the old wiring!’


“And this little light. I don’t ever think I’ve seen a bulb like that.”


“Wow. Think how old this elevator must be! Probably the oldest one in the whole city!”

Or the oldest one…ever. I tried not to listen.

“I think they just painted over the old wallpaper. Look. It’s flocked. I’ll bet it’s as old as the elevator itself!” The two of them went on.

I put my earbuds in and turned on some music.

Eight songs later, Sally, who had finally been convinced to sit down by the entreaties of a tearful Mom, got to her feet. “Well, I’m not going to sit around here and wait. Come on, Mort.”

I pulled my earbuds out. “What?”

“We’ll be right back.” Sally climbed on Mort’s shoulders.

“Can you reach it?” he asked.


I stood up as well. “What are you…?”

Sally was pushing up on a little hatch in the ceiling.

“It’s a door,” she said. “Probably for the people who inspect this elevator.”

“Sally, it’s never been inspected in its entire existence.”

Sally grabbed the upper edge. Then she pulled herself up. “Hey! Lookit this!” A moment later, a rope ladder tumbled down from the hatch. “Come on Mort!”

Mort tested it with a foot. Then with his weight. “Looks good.” He started to climb.

Mom stood and put out a hand. “Mort, honey, I’m not sure if this is wise.”

I rolled my eyes. Sally and/or Mort and ‘wise’ in the same sentence?

“It’ll be fine, Mom. We’ll be right back!” He disappeared.

Mom and I stared up at the little hatch, listening to the sounds of the two of them finding their way out.

“Yay!” we heard them say, faintly. Obviously, they had been successful.

Mom and I sat down once more. And waited.

I kept expecting to hear the sounds of men and equipment. Maybe a siren or two.



“We’re back!”

Mom and I looked up to see Mort’s smiling face in the hatch opening. “Here. Take these!”

He handed down a little tray with four ice cream cones in it.

Mom and I got up and reached for them. “Erm…”

“We’re coming down!”

First Mort, then Sally descended the ladder and were once again standing with us in our little box.

Mom and I stared at them.

“Sally,” Mom began. “Did you…?”

“Better start eating them,” Sally said. “You don’t want them to melt.”

Instinctively, I reached for one of the cones and started licking. It did taste good.

Mom did the same.

Sally and Mort happily sat down, enjoying the treat.

Just then, we heard the sounds of knocking. Someone…outside. “Anyone in there?!”

“Yes!” Mom and I jumped to our feet. “Yes! We’re in here!”
“Stand away from the doors. We’ll get you out!”

The doors opened a crack and we could see the tip of a large pry bar. Then, as the doors were forced further apart, we could see faces. And emergency gear.


Finally, the doors were forced fully back. A man in a fireman’s hat was looking up at us.

“You folks been in here long?”

“Oh, an hour or so,” Mom said.

He looked at the ice cream cones melting in our hands. “An hour?”

“It was so cool!” Sally said, jumping to her feet. “This is the most awesome place! Have you seen the old wiring and lightbulbs?”

“Uh…yeah, we have.”

The four of us were helped down to the floor by some very confused-looking emergency workers. 

We thanked them and headed for the nearest stairway. 

Finally, standing, once more, in the foyer on the good old ‘safe’ ground level, I couldn’t wait any longer. “Sally, when you left, didn’t you go to get help?”

She looked at me. “Are you kidding? And miss all the fun?” 


Today’s post is a writing challenge. Participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All 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.

My words this month were: animosity ~ elevator ~ letter ~ recycle.  And given to me by my sweet friend, Rena at :

Come and see what my other friends have created! 

BakingIn ATornado                   


Part-timeWorking Hockey Mom    


TheCrazy MamaLlama                            


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Banana Politics


I've been reading about the politics being played out in some organizations in the modern world.
Even churches have their internal power struggles and vying for position.
It reminds me of our church suppers.
Maybe I should explain . . .
In the sixties, we had Church Socials.
Big pot luck dinners.
For any and all occasions.
New Years.
They were fun.
Everyone would show up with their large families and a huge dish – or dishes - of something delicious to share.
The food would be arranged on a long series of tables. Everyone would load a plate. And the visiting would begin.
Good food.
Good friends.
It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon or evening.
Invariably, there would be someone’s Grandma’s recipe for home-fried chicken.
And many, many incarnations of potato/meat casseroles.
Salads by the creative and colourful dozens.
Home-made rolls just begging for a large dollop of freshly churned butter.
And desserts of enough variety and inevitable tastiness, to make decision-making difficult to impossible.
But there was one draw back.
As with all pot lucks, the first in line got the most choices.
Made quickly to avoid ‘pot luck crush’. 
What is ‘Pot Luck Crush’? Imagine a river, dammed by a small obstruction. Pressure builds. Finally, the obstruction is yelled at by some starving individual and threatened with oblivion.
Pot Luck Crush.
My cousin, Reed was usually the first in line.
He had made an art of choosing – and heaping - quickly.
His favourites were the salads.
I should mention here, that two of the most popular salad dishes were the green jello salad.
With shredded carrots.
And the yellow jello salad.
With sliced bananas.
The carrots in the carrot salad tended to be suspended throughout.
The bananas, however, inevitably rose to the top.
And that’s where Reed came in. He could deftly and expertly – and quickly - scrape the entire layer of bananas from the salad.
Then move happily on to the rest of the offered dishes.
His actions weren’t popular. Usually, from further back in the line, there would be a howl of protest.
Reed would just grin. The you-should-have-tried-harder-to-be-first-in-line grin.
The rest of the assembly would be stuck with banana-less salad.
Or what amounted to plain lemon jello.
But the sheer volume of other dishes soon silenced any further protest.
And before long, everyone was happily munching.
Until the next time.
When Reed would again slip deftly and expertly to the front of the line.
Yes. Even in the sixties, we had church politics.
The difference was that they were fought over bananas.
Hmm . . . 
Maybe not so different after all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Baling...Can Take You Away...

It's -40C (-40F) here this morning.
I'm dreaming of sun. And warmth...
Not me, but you get the picture.
So to speak . . .

Add one brother and it's pretty close.

Eight years old.
In my children's day, that meant that they were allowed to dress themselves.
And bathe without three younger siblings in the tub.
In my day, it meant that I was now old enough to drive the tractor.
Pulling the baler.
My day had come!
My first lessons were a confused jumble of clutch, steering wheel, gas pedal and 'Don't do that!'.
But I soon had it figured out and was able to drive a fairly straight path down the field.
Training over.
I was now ready for the real thing.
Dad directed me to the field where the rows of mown hay were nicely dried.
And ready to be baled.
I should point out here that we used a machine that popped out small, rectangular bales.
Depending on the type of grass, they weighed between 20 pounds (my favorite - made of prairie wool) and 90 pounds (my least favorite - made of something that resembled lead).
And were always moved by hand.
There were none of these gi-normous round or rectangular bales that you see in the fields now.
Bales that couldn't possibly be moved by anything other than a tractor.
Or Superman.
Who didn't live on our ranch.
The tractor person - me - was supposed to follow just to the left of the windrow (row of mown hay) and keep the pickup on the baler . . . umm . . . picking up.
Are we clear?
Let's start.
The hay was grabbed by little fingers of the pickup rotating on the baler.
Then it was passed through the machine and tamped into a small, rectangular compartment.
Finally, the contraption managed to tie the bale with two pieces of hemp string, and the whole thing was pushed out the back by the next bale being formed.
Out to where my brother Jerry was waiting.
Jerry was standing on a stooker (small trailer) being pulled behind the baler.
The bales slid out of a chute straight into his arms.
He then stacked them on a rack at the back of the trailer, building what we call a 'stook'.
Yes. Weird, I know...
Four or five bales on the bottom.
Then one less.
Then one less.
Until a single bale marked the top of the stook.
Jerry then hit a leaver, which tipped the trailer, dropping the neat stack off the back and launching him into the air.
I don't know about other stookers, but Jerry always used this upward motion to see how high he could jump.
It was very entertaining.
Or at least it would have been, if I weren't keeping my eyes trained on the windrow.
Ahem . . .
The only things I had to worry about were keeping true and not going too fast.
If one went too fast, the tamper couldn't keep up and hay would get clogged in the baler.
Which then resulted in a broken shear pin.
And your brother running alongside the tractor and banging on the side to get your attention so he could put in a new one.
Or so I'm guessing...
It was a wonderful way to spend a hot July day.
The smell of newly-mown hay.
The blue sky.
Fresh, clear Alberta air.
Mountains shimmering on the horizon.
Your brother singing at the top of his lungs on the stooker.
And your mind busily creating all sorts of adventures.
A perfect world.
Discovered when I was eight.
From atop a tractor.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Best and Worst


Ready for anything . . .
Today our poets cover,
Our fav'rite holidays,
In truth I will go anywhere,
As long as Husby pays...

My Husby loves to travel,
It’s just the way he is,
North or South; East or West,
The world is truly his.

He loves to take me with him,
(It’s good I love to go)
Foreign or domestic,
Above or Down Below.

But there’s one thing problematic,
One teeny, little blight - 
To see most things he wants to see,
We have to take a flight.

To get us two from here to there
We hurtle through the air,
While all around me talk and eat,
I curl up in despair.

He says we’re safe, quotes stats galore,
The balanced dance of gear.
I see a tube with flimsy wings,
That gives me naught but fear.

At times, our target’s tropical,
We'll cruise and eat and swim,
But though I will be happy there,
The problem's flying in.

I love to go to a'traveling,
And be sunstroke aware.
I’ll treasure each small moment,
The pain is getting there!

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 a somewhat thoughtful chew…

Life from your pet’s point of view!


Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?

We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...

From Your Pet's Point of View (February 15)

Favourite Word that Starts With D (February 22)

Peanut Butter Day (March 1)

Be Nasty Day (March 8)

Pi(e) Day (what else would it be?) (March 15)

World Poetry Day (March 22)

Something on a Stick Day (March 29)

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Read it! You know you want to!

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Captured and imprisoned, a scientist and his son use their amazing discovery to foil evil plans.

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E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
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