Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, June 25, 2021



The hill...

The tiny girl stood looking up the hill that barred her way

From joining her two brothers as they played atop that day,

That hill was huge in her young eyes, and much too big to climb,

But if she didn’t join them, well, to her t’would be a crime!


So she began: foot followed foot. She slowly progress made,

And finally, she reached the top—her conquered land surveyed,

She reveled in the goal she’d seized with bravery and hustle,

And realized, in climbing there, she’d also gained some muscle!


That little girl is older now, but still the lesson lingers,

As ‘life’ has given obstacles (and just a few big zingers!),

And all those hills she’s had to climb, well, they were not a waste,

She’s gained ‘life’s muscles’ conquering the obstacles she faced!

Today's post was a challenge from the inimitable and totally awesome Karen at Baking in a Tornado

Visit her and see what she has done with the theme!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

First Romance

Grade Twelve English 30.
My favourite class of all time.
What could possibly be better than reading books and stories and then talking about them?
Or of writing your own?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Our teacher was a veteran of many, many years. She had taught each of my three elder siblings and survived.
And now it was my turn.
Most of the time, I was fairly quiet in her class - choosing mostly to listen as the conversations went on around me. Keeping my opinions to myself, except when they could be submitted in a written format.
My grades were good.
We were working our way through a thick volume of short stories. Some exciting. Some bizarre. Some sweet and romantic.
It was during this last that I came to grief.
Let me explain . . .
We were reading a story about a man who saw a beautiful hand-made doll in the window of a local shop. The doll affected him greatly. It seemed to 'speak' to him.
He purchased it and tried to find out more about it and the person who had made it.
He discovered that the doll and others like it were made locally and that a woman usually brought them in to the shop a few at a time.
He tracked down the woman.
She was not the artist.
Instead, she kept the real doll-maker a virtual prisoner, and forced her to keep making dolls, which were then sold.
The imprisoned doll-maker was justifiably sad and put all of the love she would have given her unborn children into her dolls. Which was why they were so beautiful.
The man fell in love with the captive doll-maker, stole her away and married her.
And they lived happily ever after.
Okay, I admit it, when I read this story, I discovered that I'm a romantic.
I loved it.
Loved the 'happily ever after' ending.
I was excited for the discussion to start . . .
“How many of you liked this story?” the teacher asked.
My hand shot up.
Then slowly lowered as I realized that I was the only person in the class who had raised one.
“This story was drivel!” the teacher said. “Absolute tripe!” She stomped around the front of the class. “Stupid romantic nonsense! Waste of good print! Waste of time!”
She added several more derisive comments, then stopped and stared at me.
My hand was back on my desk.
“Well, I thought it was romantic!” One of the other girls tried to come to my aid.
The teacher snorted. “Hmph! Don't know why it was included in this book! Maybe as an example of lousy writing!”
The class was silent.
“Asinine garbage! Should be torn out of the book!” She glared around. “Any other thoughts?”
Let me put it this way . . . the discussion following this story didn't take up much time.
The story was given a brief technical reckoning, then dismissed.
And the class moved on to the next story.
I moved with them, reading and responding to my assignments.
But I never forgot my first romantic story.
I read and re-read it.
Loving it more each time.
I still think I was right.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Choking It Down

Chokecherry syrup.
Delicious in so many ways.
The digging out of the 'berry pails' wasn't always a reason for celebration.
When Mom headed towards the saskatoon bushes, yes.
But when the car turned to the chokecherry patch.
Not so much.
Don't get me wrong, we loved the end product of both enterprises.
But the picking of saskatoons also involved interim rewards. ie. the eating of said berries.
Again, not so much.
Fresh from the bush, they were . . . how shall I say this genteel-ly . . .?
In fact, before any of the bright red berries passed our lips, they had to be cooked and treated.
And added upon.
And poured into jars.
As jam.
Or even better, syrup.
You have to know that there was nothing quite like homemade chokecherry syrup on Mom's fluffy pancakes.
Where was I?
Oh, yes.
It was a great family favourite.
My Husby's mother made fabulous chokecherry syrup as well.
Every year.
She then dispensed bottles of it to eagerly awaiting offspring.
It went fast.
As soon as one bottle emptied, another took its place.
And therein (good word) lies a tale . . .
We had been using one bottle of syrup.
Then, as often happens in a household where ten people are sharing the fridge, our little bottle got pushed to the back and hidden behind a bottle of pickles.
I should explain, here, that we always purchased everything edible in gi-normous (made-up word denoting humongous-ness) sizes.
Because mealtime for our bunch strongly resembled the feeding of a threshing crew.
So the idea of a quart-sized bottle being hidden behind a monstrous jar shouldn't be too much of a surprise.
Moving on . . .
There our little jar remained.
While I opened another.
Which was subsequently used.
And replaced.
Some months later, when I finally reached the back of our fridge, I discovered our forgotten, woefully neglected little bottle of chokecherry syrup.
Dismayed at the thought of lost deliciousness, I opened the lid.
And sniffed.
Probably, I should mention that neither of us drinks alcohol.
What follows makes more sense if I do . . .
“Grant, what's wrong with this chokecherry syrup?” I asked. “It smells . . . funny.”
“Funny, how?”
“Well, funny.”
I handed him the jar.
He sniffed. “I think you've created chokecherry wine, honey,” he said, grinning at me.
“What? How did I do that?”
“Fruit. Sugar. Neglect.”
Huh. So that's how it's done . . . “So what do I do with it now?”
“Well, I know someone who would probably enjoy it!”
We took it to our friend, who looked at it.
Swirled it around in the jar.
Sniffed it.
Then finally tasted it.
He looked at us. “Best chokecherry wine I've ever had,” he said, grinning.
Trust the two teetotallers to do it up right.
From the chokecherry patch, through Mom's kitchen (and fridge), to a tavern near you.
Bottom's up!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Charged with Stupidity

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Darwin awards?

If not, allow me to educate you . . .

These rather spectacular awards do not involve any kind of prize because most, if not all, of the people who achieve top status don’t live to brag about it. ‘Darwin’ awards are for those who, through their own foolish actions, take themselves out of the gene pool.

Most are cringe-worthy. Some downright shocking.

Some, fairly laugh-able.

This is my favourite:

Larry decided he wanted to witness life from a few feet in the air. Say 30 or so.

With this in mind, he roped a folding, aluminum lawn chair to the ground then tied 45 weather balloons to it. He buckled himself in for ‘safety’ with a BB gun to shoot at the balloons when he was satisfied with defying gravity and wanted to come back to earth . . . and cut his anchor rope.

He definitely went up.

But not to the 30 feet he had been anticipating.

Nope. He zoomed up to 15,000 feet.

Justifiably terrified, Larry hesitated shooting out any of his balloons, not knowing how quickly such an action would bring him back to earth. Thus, shivering with cold in his lawn chair, and clutching his gun to himself out of fear and the fact that his cold hands simply wouldn’t let go, he drifted into LA airspace.

And was reported by passing aircraft intent on landing.

I can just picture the cockpit conversations: “Erm, base? We have an armed interloper floating through our airspace in a lawn chair. Response?

Helicopters were sent out to investigate/rescue the hapless man.

Sadly, they couldn’t seem to get close. Every time they approached, their whirring blades blew him away from them.

Finally, they decided to try coming down on him from above and managed to get a line to him and pull him in.

Back on the ground, he was immediately arrested.

What was his crime? Trespassing? Posing an armed threat? Unconventional use of weather balloons and/or lawn chairs?

Myself? I think he should have been charged with stupidity and leave it at that.

Today is National Stupid Guy Thing Day. Seriously.

What an untapped treasure trove!

Go and see what the other entrants have concocted!

Karen at Baking in a Tornado

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Father Hood


The Originals

It starts out with a snuffle--a voice he's never heard before,
And suddenly, he's a Father. With a whole new world in store.
The time goes by, he's changed a thousand diapers, maybe more,
His hair's grown grey along the sides, his back is bent and sore,
Knows feeding, changing--s'expert on most 'baby' stuff that's sold,
Imagine how much more he'll know when his child is two days old . . .

The years fly past, his baby's reached the great old age of three,
That wondrous time when head and hands reach *ouch* above the knee,
The scars have healed from babe's first tooth, the child can even talk,
The tiny hard hat's put away--his little one can walk.
The child is toilet-trained, survived each illness, scratch and sore,
Dad knows it all. (Good thing because his wife just had two more.)

His babes grow tall--or he grows small--there's quite a shift in size,
He's not as smart as he once was, through his adolescent's eyes.
He's older now and he can see both sides of any fight,
But it matters not 'cause, like his child, he knows that he is right.
And as he watches, painfully, the sometimes good and bad,
There's one thing that will never change--the fact that he's their dad.

And so it goes, he does his best, survives on little rest,
He goes the round t'ween work and home and simply does his best.
There is little recognition for the work he does each day,
A baby hug, a chocolate kiss may be his only pay.
But he strangles his impatience as he watches tiny hands,
And he gently speaks when teenage heads just do not understand.

His prods and pushes--anger, too, he tempers, 'cause he cares,
His one reward, his children's love, he'll treasure through the years.

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's topic should be fun...
It's BUBBLES. Please tell everyone!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
Fathers (June 21) Today
Bubbles (June 28)
Bikinis (July 5)
Cheer the Lonely (July 12)
Raspberry Cake Day (July 19)
Parents Day (July 26)
Ice Cream Sandwich Day (August 2)
Cats (August 9)
Tell a Joke (August 16)
Wind (August 23)
Monsters (August 30)

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Unexpected Lessons


Dads. There's no one quite like them.
An animated series aired several years ago, to great praise and equally great censure.
Because of the negative and very vocal comments, I chose not to watch.
For three years.
One evening, while working in my office, next to the TV room, I caught a few snatches of conversation coming from the program presently airing.
Two older children were asking their father why there were no pictures of their third and last sibling.
"Didn't you want her?" one of them asked.
It caught me because I am guilty of snapping thousands of pics of our eldest. Hundreds of our second, and then, progressively (or is it de-gressively?) less as each child made an appearance.
I made up for it with the last, when we were back into the thousands, but those in the middle . . . lost out.
The premise intrigued me.
I went to check it out.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that what was playing was an episode of 'that cartoon'.
But I was hooked by the subject matter.
I sat with my teenagers to watch.
The father reassured his children that he had, indeed, wanted their baby sister. Then he proceeded to tell the story.
He had left a terrible job in a nuclear plant and had been working at his dream job in a bowling alley. His work was appreciated and made him, for the first time in his life, happy.
Then his wife announced that baby number three was on the way.
He knew that what he earned at his dream job couldn't possibly support another child.
He would have to go and beg for his old job back.
Have I mentioned that it was horrible?
That he hated it?
Well, it was.
And he did.
Moving on . . .
When one faced the front entrance of the nuclear plant, they were presented with two doors.
One for new workers.
One for returning.
The 'returning' door was small. So small that anyone entering through it was forced to do so on their hands and knees.
Thus, on their knees, they could beg for employment.
It made quite an impression.
I kept watching.
Of course he was given his old job back.
And, of course, humiliated with every step.
Finally, seated once more in his old office, he was presented with a plaque which read: 'Don't Forget. You're Here Forever.'
This was fastened permanently to the wall directly in front of his console, where he wouldn't fail to see it.
Back to the two elder children and their conversation.
"So why are there no pictures?"
And his reply, "Oh there are pictures, kids. Lots and lots of pictures. They're where I need them!"
And then you get a view of his office as it looks now.
On every wall and, indeed, all available surfaces, are pictures of the little girl, in every stage of development.
And they cover much of the plaque.
Which now reads, 'Do It For Her'.
I cried.
It made me think about all of the fathers who go, every day, to a job they hate, just to feed and care for their families.
They are our unsung heroes.
We need to do more singing.

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?