Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, October 8, 2021

Scrambled


Scrabble is a Tolley game…

Five months plus forty-five years ago, today, Husby and I were on our honeymoon.

Had been for eight days.

We were in Glacier National Park, enjoying the scenery.

And each other. ;)

We stopped into a store. I can’t remember which, but they had Scrabble games.

One of which went home with us…

From then on, Scrabble was our game of choice. That particular game provided hours (and years) of fun.

I admit it, he was much faster than me. 

Grant's rack of choice.
You probably can't see it, but it says: 'Diane takes a long time.'

But I was determined to create the largest words I could and usually managed to use most, if not all, my letters.

And very often won.

As our children learned to read, they joined in. Playing with them took on many iterations, the most popular of which was 'Scribble', a game in which all letters MUST be used and the words created must NOT be found in any dictionary. Giving rise to such words as: Keeregg--the bright orange egg of the Keer bird which is laid over wires across the highway. You’ve probably seen them. (Note: Those little suckers have to be able to fly right from hatching, or chaos and/or death will ensue!)

As our children moved out, they went with their own game under their arms.

We still play. Oh, the original game is battered and life-weary, much like the two players, but still intact and serviceable.

Also much like the two players…


P.S. I'm still winning...


Thursday, October 7, 2021

Almost Arrested

Guest post from Little Brother, Blair!

Mosque in Casablanca

I was almost arrested in Morocco. 

Really. 

At least that’s what I thought... 

When I was 15 years old, I joined a travel club in high school and we traveled to Spain.  Prior to joining the club, I had heard about the trip and the total cost. Way more money than I had. That trip was not in my future!

Then one day my mother asked me if I was aware of the trip. I said yes, but I didn’t have the cash to pay for it. She said that it was the chance of a lifetime, so if I paid for half of the trip with my 4H calf money, she and dad would pay for the other half.

I thought it was a good deal.

I signed up.

Prior to the trip, our travel group had a few meetings where we were instructed on how we should behave and how and what we should pack.

Finally, we were given a very big warning. We should be very careful about the laws in a foreign country.

Otherwise, we could get “thrown in jail and we would never see our families again”.

I didn’t think much about this because: I didn’t break rules.

Finally, the day of departure arrived.  Our travel club boarded a school bus that took us to the Calgary airport.  From there, we flew to Montreal, then to Copenhagen, Denmark.  We spent a day in Copenhagen (I’d sure like to go back there sometime) then, finally, jetted off to Spain.

While in Spain we saw flamenco dancers, ate strange and wonderful food, and toured fascinating places. One day we boarded a ferry and boated across the Mediterranean to Morocco, by far the most fascinating place of all.

I had never seen anything like it. The architecture, the markets, the people, the smells were not at all like anything that I grew up with on the ranch. I stared everywhere in amazement.

As we made our way down one of the streets, a lady dressed in a burka walked between my group and me. I didn’t pay much attention because I was busy gawking.

Then I noticed some police about 100 yards ahead of us. They were looking at our group. I started to wonder why they were interested in us. We were just farm kids from Canada. 

Suddenly, the police pointed at me and said, “There!”

Abruptly the statement “Don’t get thrown in jail or you will never see your family again!” ran through my mind.

I thought, “What did I do? Am I not allowed to look at the buildings or the people?”

I was gripped by fear as the police ran down the street toward me.

As they neared, the lady in the burka suddenly screamed, “NO, NO, NO!”, spun around, and ran right into me.

She was about 8 inches shorter than me but she could have been a star linebacker for high school football.

She ran off down the street as I stumbled backward, off-balance and terrified the police were coming to arrest me.

They ran past me after the women in the burka.

I breathed a sigh of relief…

…but it took me a while to calm down.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Fifty Word Wednesday #9


The box was empty.

Piqued, I called the company, demanding my Minion costume.

The sounds of shuffling at their end. Finally, a voice came on the line. “Madame, we’re sorry about the mix-up. Your Minion costume is on its way. Feel free to keep the Lady Godiva costume already sent!”



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 . . .

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

Leave your contribution in the comments...

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Easy Mark

There really aren't 20 mule teams inside. I looked.
On the Stringam Ranch, electronic media was in its infancy.
We had one TV channel.
And that only came on for a limited number of hours per day.
Mom would park me in front of the TV just shortly before 10 AM, and I would stare at the 'Indian head' test pattern until the National Anthem.
And then, magically, The Friendly Giant would appear.
He read stories and played music.
Just for me.
Of course there were other programs. The Jack Benny Show. Leave it to Beaver. Lassie. The Wonderful World of Disney. Bonanza. Ed Sullivan.
And Woody Woodpecker, that always came on when I was supposed to be gathering the eggs. (But that is another story.)
Each memorable by itself. And each enhanced by the ads woven skilfully between and throughout.
I loved the ads. Those wonderful, amazing ads that, in 30 seconds or less, could convince me that now, thanks to the additive of the month, I could have cleaner wash.
Or whiter teeth.
Or better coffee.
We weren't actually coffee drinkers, but I was sold by the ad that asked, “How do you like your coffee?” and then answered by, “Why, I like my coffee . . . Crisp!”
How convincing were such ditties as, “You'll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent!”
Or, “J-E-L-L-O!”
I was mesmerized (and yes, I meant to use that word) by the ad featuring several pickles dancing around, singing, “You can tell a Heinz pickle, by its crunch!” and ignoring the jar, who implored them to get back inside before they got eaten up. And, after all of them were eaten, that same jar lamenting, “You can't tell a Heinz pickle nothin'!”
That was hilarious. And if something made me laugh, I had to have it.
We simply couldn't do without it.
Mom had to buy it.
Or make it. Or do it.
The Kraft ads with the smooth-voiced narrator and the wonderful scenes from the perfect Kraft kitchens?
Mmmmm. Mom could do that.
The housewives in the pretty dresses, pearls, pumps and a miniscule apron demonstrating everything from floor wax to cookware?
Well . . . my Mom always wore a dress, and an apron. And I had seen her in pumps and pearls whenever she and Dad went out.
But for some reason, I couldn't get her to combine them when doing housework.
“No, Mom, you have to do it this way! Like on TV!”
Moms are weird.
She did buy boxes of Kellogg's frosted flakes because Tony the Tiger said they were “Grrrrreat!”
She didn't have to worry about Esso, though.
I had a bit of a problem with putting a 'Tiger in my Tank'.
I wasn't quite sure how Tony would feel about that.
She never bought me the tiny, little chuckwagon I so desperately wanted, that drove through the house carrying . . . ummm . . . whatever it carried. I confess, I never really got past watching the minuscule driver and team.
I begged and begged my Mom for the 'Five Pounds Thinner Girdle' or the 'Cross Your Heart Bra' from Playtex.And I couldn't understand why that made her laugh.
Every time.
I also tried to convince her that she needed to be using Ivory Snow for all things 'baby'. And to add the power of the Borax 20-mule team to everything else.
Actually, I just wanted the mule team. I can't tell you how many boxes I opened looking for them.
Mom probably can.
Moving on . . .
We ate Campbell's soup on occasion and I tried to look plump cheeked and shiny like the Campbell's kids.
I also wanted the bowls they ate from.
Because.
She baulked at that.
She did buy me Kraft Peanut Butter.
Oh, occasionally, she tried to substitute some inferior brand that was on sale, but, inevitably that jar of lowly second-rate peanut butter went stale on the shelf.
I had seen the ads.
I chewed Wrigley's Juicy Fruit Gum because it had better flavour and wanted only Chiquita bananas because the girl had a neat hat and I liked the song.
'Carnation hot chocolate was frothy great – and – so easy to make'. And it went so well with 'Jiffy pop, Jiffy pop the magic treat. As much fun to make as it is to eat!'
Okay, I have to admit it.
Ads worked for me.
It's probably a good thing that we didn't have more channels.
Mom - and me - never would have survived.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Golf as Life

World-famous Golf course
Banff Alberta
I’m cheating today.
But as the theme for Poetry Monday is ‘Golf’, and this is a poem I’ve always loved, I’m sharing it.
I’m not sure who wrote it, That doesn’t matter.
It just makes me happy to read it.
And isn’t that what Poetry Monday is all about? :)



Life is like a round of GOLF

With many a turn and twist,

But the game is much too sweet and short

To curse the shots you’ve missed,

Sometimes your hits are straight and far,

Sometimes your putts roll true,

But each round has its wayward shots

And troubles to play through,

So always swing with courage,

No matter what the lie,

And never let the hazards

Destroy the joy inside,

And keep a song within your heart,

Be grateful you can play,

For the round is much too short and sweet

To let it slip away!


Photo Credit: Karen of bakinginatornado.com
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 we have a choice to pitch!
Parties or Thanksgiving. Which? 



Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?

We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
Golf (October 4) Today!
Throw a Party (October 11) (Also Canadian Thanksgiving!)
Meatloaf Appreciation (October 18)
Opera (October 25)
New Lease (November 1)
Puns (November 8) 
Clean Out Your Refrigerator (November 15) 
Your favorite record (or) best stereo or record player ever (November 22)

Chia Pets (November 29)

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Read it! You know you want to!

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What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

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Essence: A Second Dose

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Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from Smashwords.com

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

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