Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Germ Warfare

You can almost see those germs...

Germs are a big thing right now.

When I was growing up, germs were something that lived in dog’s mouths.
Or cats.
Or any animals.
I was cautioned to avoid them.
Living on a ranch, that was a lot of avoiding.
It didn’t occur to me that there could be germs in someone else’s (human) mouth.
That paranoia didn’t show up until a few years later. When one of my friends wiped my germs off her pop bottle before she took a drink.
On with my story . . .
Supper time.
That special moment in the day wherein everyone gathers at the table to enjoy a home-cooked meal.
And some great visiting.
Okay, well, that’s what happens in the Tolley household.
Notice I didn’t say a great home-cooked meal.
Because, let’s face it, some of my experiments fail to jell.
Ahem . . .
On this particular night, I had made something that passed the ‘yummy’ test.
But also crossed the ‘sloppy’ barrier.
Most of us did well.
Four-year-old granddaughter (or GD4 for short) didn’t fare as well.
And needed tidying.
Her mother licked her finger and swiped at the little girl’s cheek.
The rest of us thought nothing of it.
We were obviously wrong.
GD4 looked passively at her mother in the midst of her cleaning. “You know, Mom, you just got germs all over my face!”
Her mom stopped. “Oh.” She looked at me. “Oops.”
I should probably mention here that GD4’s face failed to fall off.
Or turn green.
But we had been informed.
Coming from a four-year-old near you.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Equally Bad


Across the land, to one and all, the famine had a grip,

And rich and poor alike were in the famine’s membership,

And Widow Bette and teenaged son (named Jack, for all who care…)

Were skating rather closely to the edge of starved despair.


In desperation, Bette told Jack, “Take Emily...” (their cow)

“…and sell her.” (with the proceeds, they would get along somehow),

Obedient, the young man took the cow and started out,

Not knowing that the strangest tale was just about to ‘sprout’.


A stranger stopped the lad a mile or so along the way,

And asked him ‘whither, he was to’ on such a lovely day,

Jack indicated Emily and told him what was up,

And why Jack had embarked upon this personal ‘roundup’.

I’m sure you’ve heard the story: how our Jack endorsed the sale,

A cow for ‘magic’ beans. You know, a mistake of grandest scale.

How his disappointed mother threw those beans out on the lawn,

Then cried herself to sleep believing all her hope was gone.


You have to know those beans grew up. A stalk into the sky,

And Jack thought he'd explore (and have adventures by and by),

He climbed up to another land, where all folks were immense,

And there he pilfered lots of stuff--in situations tense.


That boy, he needed stealth, because you know, our little Jack

Was just the size and shape to be a giant’s midday snack,

It didn’t stop him stealing, though it kept him on the run,

Whene’er he heard the giant’s voice say, “Fee! Fie! Foe! And Fum!”


Then finally, he took the item Giant treasured most,

 (For evenings when relaxing or when parties he would host…)

A magic harp, the player of the sweetest music e’er,

Whose loss would surely fill our giant’s heart with deep despair!


The harp cried for his ‘Master!’ as Jack began to bear him hence,

It spurred our giant on to a more feverish defense,

He followed our young thief right down the beanstalk growing there,

And where the boy did lead, he neither thought about. Or cared.


But Jack was quick and reached the bottom. Turned and grabbed his axe,

Kept nearby for such things. (Now we've reached the tale's climax!)

When swinging frantically, he fin’ly chopped the stalk and all,

Not even mighty giants could survive that nasty fall.

Then Jack and Mom were happy as a family could be,

With all the stuff Jack stole they both could live quite comfortably,

Now I’ve heard theories claiming that the Giant stole them first,

The larger thief or small, opinions? Who d’you think was worst?!

Today is Fairy Tale Poetry Day!

Hop on over to my friend Karen to see what she posted!

You'll be happy you did...

Karen of Baking In A Tornado: The Moral is Morals

Thursday, February 25, 2021


Husby and I were on a holiday on beautiful Vancouver Island.

Our son lives there and as often as we could, we’d go out to visit.
To...ummm...see our son.
Not to walk the beaches and watch the ever-changing ocean or hike the endless woodland trails and visit the centuries-old trees or take a boat and deep-sea fish or gorge on freshly-caught cod and hand-made fries at our favourite restaurant...
Which incidentally makes the best coconut-cream pie I’ve ever tasted.
Just FYI.
Where was I?
Oh, yeah. Island. Holiday.
One night, we were returning with our son from a day of rambles.
Our car was following the twisting, turning road into beautiful Courtenay.
A last long curve.
A curve marked by a line of reflective poles.
That lit up brightly as our car lights caught them.
One. Then the next. Then the next.
Each going dark as we passed them.
Watching them, I remembered something . . .

I was four and traveling with my family.
Nose pressed against the glass because I had been looking at a book but it had grown too dark to see anything.
Oh, and also because seat belts hadn’t been invented yet.
Every so often, we would pass by some small posts that lit up as we approached.
It was magical.
First one.
Then another.
I stared at them long and hard.
How did they do that?
How did they know to light up just as we were passing?
I thought about it.
Then finally figured it out.
Somewhere inside, there were little people who waited until we approached.
Then lit them just for us.
It was very kind of them.
And I was sure to thank each one.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
Mom looked at me. “Who are you thanking?”
I pointed. “The little pole people.”
She didn’t ask.
She was used to me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021


Shoes hide.

They do.
Especially when there is something important that they need to be at.
Movie night.
Going outside.
There are solutions.
Some of which are—creative—
Little sister was getting ready for Church.
She had been scrubbed shiny.
The only thing keeping her from heading out the door to the waiting car was a pair of Sunday shoes.
Oh, she could find her ratty every day sneakers.
Her manure-y boots.
Even her tall, black rain boots.
But nothing that resembled (or smelled) like it could be worn to church.
She had asked everyone.
Including—as a final act of desperation—Mom.
Who had responded with her patented: “I have no idea where I left them when I wore them last.”
In tears of despair, she sat down on the floor.
And that’s when she saw them.
The shiny tips of her black tap shoes.
Hmmm . . .
Not smelly.
Gleaming with care.
Definitely church-approved.
She grabbed them and put them on, jumped to her feet and headed for the door.
And that’s when their one drawback became apparent.
Remember when I said ‘tap’ shoes?
Well, that comes into play here.
In church generally, we are, for want of a better term, quiet.
And tap shoes...aren’t.
Let’s just say that Mom and Dad could keep track of everywhere she went.
And everything she did.
As could the rest of the congregation.
Yep. Creative solutions.
Sometimes more creative than solution.
But definitely memorable.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Looking At It


They had all been at their cousin’s birthday party.

It had been a much-anticipated opportunity for fun and games.
And had delivered on every level.
They had played in the pool.
Dashed through the sprinklers.
Had a water fight.
Screamed and laughed through several games.
Gorged on food and treats.
Sang and stuffed their faces with rich, gooey birthday cake and meltingly-creamy and delicious ice cream.
Tired, but entirely satisfied, they were lined up, ready to go home.
It was then they received the last perfect surprise to what had been a perfect day.
A large, loaded—identical—treat bag.
Brimming with anticipation, they dashed out to their car and their waiting Mama.
Submitted to the mundane but necessary process of seating and buckling.
Then, at last, the opening of that last hurrah.
That sweet, final cap on the day.
The icing on the cake, so to speak.
Sister dipped in her hand and emerged, holding a large, hand-frosted cookie.
“I got a flower!” she exclaimed.
Brother did the same.
Pulled out the same.
 “I got a flower, too!”
Little sister reaching eagerly into her bag of treats.
Grabbed her flower cookie by the other end and pulled it out and held it aloft excitedly.
“I got a squid!”
It’s all in how you look at it.

Monday, February 22, 2021


I love poetry, I do!
The rhythm and the cadence, too. 
Like dancing, but with words. And find
It brings my poem-loving Dad to mind.
And something else, taught long ago,
Before this girl'd begun to grow.
At long last to our topic. See?
My favourite word that starts with 'D'!


When I was four, my dad adored, and followed him around,
The things he did (to this small kid) did fascinating sound.
From ‘doing chores’ and things outdoors, to office work. With pens.
Well, I’d appear, interest sincere, and lots of time to spend.

Our barn, it burned, all were concerned, that year that I turned four.
Soon things were bought and experts sought. A barn was built once more.
Then we ranch folk (in a masterstroke) with this new elbow room,
Thought we’d have fun, perhaps some sun would clear away the gloom.

We’d have a dance. Some wheel and prance were what was needed now.
Our neighbours, too, would gloom eschew, and our new barn endow.
We hired a band who took command, and music did ensue,
We ate and twirled and stomped and whirled from hello through adieu.

I don’t recall that much at all, I do remember this:
My dad was there, in shined footwear, and nothing was amiss.
He took my hands and had me stand upon those shiny toes,
Then slowly lead (my fears all fled), and love for Daddy rose.

The days have passed, the years amassed, I don’t remember much,
Though far I gaze, that’s day’s a haze, of people, stuff and such.
I know they had both good and bad, some happiness and woes.
One thing that’s best above the rest. I danced on Daddy’s toes.

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 JennyCharlotteMimi, me
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you’ve read what we have wrought…
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Of course, it must be recognized,
Its flavour has us hypnotized,
So this next Mondy, you'd won't dread,
Cause on it PEANUT BUTTER's spread!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
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)
Read a Road Map Day (April 5)
Favorite invention (From Mimi) (April 12)
National Garlic Day (April 19)
The ocean or beach (From Mimi) (April 26)
The best thing about spring (From Mimi) (May 3)

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Read it! You know you want to!

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Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from

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Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

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The Liebster Award
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Irresistibly Sweet Award

Irresistibly Sweet Award
Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

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Sunshine Award!!!
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My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

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Ghost of the Overlook
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