Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, October 22, 2021

Car Love

The Great Pumpkin. As he was . . .

It started in college.
With Snoopy and The Great Pumpkin.
Maybe I should explain . . .
I love cars.
The older, the better, it's true.
But really, any cars.
When I went to college, my Dad put a down payment on a bright, new, orange beauty for me.
A Dodge Colt.
Any extra money I had was squandered on it.
Any extra time was spent under the expert tutelage of my older brother, traipsing through its inner workings.
We were inseparable, my car and me.
But it was my roommate at school who actually gave my beauty its name.
Debbie, said roommate, drove a little white Chevy.
Named Snoopy.
What else could she call my car but, The Great Pumpkin.
Okay, here's where I admit that the name suited.
The car was orange.
And kind of . . . round.
Great Pumpkin, it became.
And a new tradition was begun.
After the Pumpkin, we drove such darlings as: The Frog. Ralphie. Bluee. WagonHo. WagonHo 2. Lady. The Beast. 
And a little Firefly named Zippy.
Something to note: We fit my Husby, myself, an eleven-year-old, two nine-year-olds, a seven-year-old, a five-year-old, a two-year-old and a baby in a carseat into that sturdy little Firefly.
And made it, unscathed, to church.
Sometime, I'll explain the logistics of such a feat.
Another aside: Our second son, Erik, he of the six foot eight inch height, ended up driving little Zippy. Watching him unfold from that compact little car was a treat in itself.
Back to my story . . .
I don't know where these names came from.
Sometimes, they resulted from some little quirk in a vehicle.
Sometimes from the appearance.
But they caught on.
To the point where people who weren't even in our family knew the names of our cars.
And used them accordingly.
Our children too, picked up the habit.
Our one daughter's family, for example, have driven, successively: Phoebe, Elene, Persephone, Owlyet (named by their daughter), Pepper, Valka and Wanda.
Presently, my Husby and I are driving two elderly pick-up trucks: a 1994 Dodge Dakota with a skin condition, appropriately named Scabbers and a rusting 2000 GMC Sonoma, with a bit of a balky nature, encouragingly and hopefully called Everready. (Or Scabbers, Jr.)
Oh, and a 2010 red Dodge Journey, unimaginatively called, Red.
Let’s drive!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Heart Warming

Romance lives here.

October is fast disappearing here in Northern Alberta.
And we who live here know that means winter could arrive at any moment.
Any moment.
Months of cold, snow and ice.
But we survive it.
Want to know our secret?
Maybe this story will help...
Mari and Lee met almost thirty years ago and have been married for just past twenty-six.
A good marriage.
A marriage that has withstood some hefty bumps and setbacks.
And thrived.
Once again, it was time for the annual Library Conference in beautiful Jasper, Alberta.
Mari’s presence was required.
Lee’s was not.
So, for the days of the conference, they were apart.
But really only separated by distance.
Let me explain . . .
On the first night, Mari received a phone call from her sweetheart.
They chatted.
Then he asked her if she was wearing her warm, comfy, red pajamas.
I should mention, here, that warm, flannel sleepwear is a necessity in the frozen north.
Just FYI.
Back to my story . . .
It was an odd question.
“No. I’m wearing my warm, new, black and white jammies,” she said.
“Well, I wanted you to wear the red ones,” he said.
“Umm . . . I don’t have any red ones.”
“Yes, you do. I saw them in your suitcase.”
Puzzled, Mari went to said case and sorted through. Could Lee have possibly meant the orange pajamas?
She took them out and allowed them to unfold.
A note dropped out.
An I-love-you-even-when-you’re-far-away sort of note.
Suddenly the separation and distance didn’t matter.
Because they were always together.
Sooo...back to my question.
How do people survive in this cold, rather forbidding six-to-eight-months-of-winter-per-year climate?
Warm hearts.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

50 Word Wednesday #11

Mother shall return soon,” said Mr. Brand’s young hostess. “Every year she watches for my father and brothers’ return.”
“Where are they?”
“All lost in the bog three years ago. This is the anniversary of their deaths. Oh, look. Here they all come!”
He runs, not knowing she tells tales.

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 . . .

For the rest of October, I think I’ll concentrate on things spooky.

Sooo fun!

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

Leave your contribution in the comments...


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Of Teeth and Nails

Word Counters is a bit long-winded today...

He was beautiful and he knew it. The favoured mount of the master, he was usually found prancing his way about the countryside, tossing his gleaming black mane and/or tail and collecting admiring glances from human and animal alike. But did all the adulation make him humble? Or kind? Nope.


Instead, he was self-centered and narcissistic. Caring only for himself and his own wants and desires. Okay, yes, he submitted fairly willingly to the demands of his master, but let’s face it—only because to refuse would have had some fairly serious and decidedly unpleasant consequences. Yikes.


One day he was engaged in what had become common. Prancing around and/or eating and/or making fun of the lessor animals. Were they happy about this last activity? Well let’s just say the sheep, chickens and pigs had banded together and were assuaging hurt feelings by inventing new and colourful metaphors.


And it was at precisely that moment that The Rat wandered into the farmyard. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to know that Mr. Rat was preceded by a reputation garnered by centuries and generations of his ‘sort’. An unsavoury one, if I’m forced to make a judgement.


Sadly, this name, though not earned by him personally, would prevent his being quickly (or even possibly) accepted by the general population of the aforementioned farmyard. And I’m talking about the ‘nice’ sheep, chickens and pigs. With Mr. Stuck-Up on the far side of the paddock he hadn’t a hope.


But Mr. Rat was a clever fellow and, if anything, determined. Going from one group to another, he politely introduced himself. “Hello, my friends,” he would say. “As you can probably guess, I am new to the area and wondered if there was a possibility of comfortable lodgings and perhaps gainful employment hereabouts?”


Whereupon (good word) he was met, invariably, with either stoney stares or outright violence. Between you and me, those pig and sheep’s hooves and chicken beaks can do real and lasting damage when wielded by those in possession and with a modicum of knowledge. Not the most pleasant  of introductions.


Repulsed at last, Mr. Rat found himself in the paddock with Mr. Stuck-Up. Perhaps a bit of clarification is in order at this juncture. Mr. Stuck-up wasn’t our central character’s real name. Instead, he had been given the moniker: Big Jim. Or ‘Jimmy’ to his friends. If he had any.


Back to my story . . . Mr. Rat doffed his hat (yes, he had a hat) and bowed most respectfully to the glorious and imposing vision that stood aloof and majestic, and whose satin coat and long, flowing locks gleamed in the loving, golden caress of the afternoon light.


“Good day to you, Kind Sir,” the rat said. He then followed up this greeting with his introduction and question. All of which were, at first, simply ignored by Big Jim, who remained standing on his little hillock, staring fixedly at some fair, far-away spot only he was privy to. 


Then, Mr. Rat had the temerity to repeat himself—speaking just a bit louder in case it proved that the magnificent animal before him was merely hard of hearing. Big Jim, insulted at the suggestion of less-than-perfection, immediately reacted. With flint-hard hooves. And pin-point, rat-mashing accuracy.


He missed, however. (I know you were probably concerned.) But his message was well received. Mr. Rat knew beyond a doubt that he was unwelcome. Amazing how a set of hooves threatening to dance a tattoo upon your very mortal parts can strongly suggest a certain . . . attitude.


He retired to the No Rat’s Land between Big Jim’s paddock and that area claimed by the other denizens of the barnyard. And there he stayed, to their mutual disgust and equal disregard, feasting upon whatever grains and slops they spilled. For a rat, a fair (and tasty) situation.


A few days after the advent of The Rat, as everyone called him, Big Jim, suddenly became lame. I probably don’t have to explain to you the horror with which such an occurrence is viewed. A horse, as you know, is only as good as its feet and/or legs. 


To say the master was concerned is a vast understatement. Farriers were called out. Veterinarians. Anyone with even a tidbit of knowledge of horses and their accompanying hooves. No cause could be found. Word began to be bandied about that Big Jim was going to be sold. For meat.


Big Jim was, justifiably, crushed. Standing on the far side of his paddock, he was no longer the proud animal he had been. Instead, he was the picture of despair. Now, instead of ‘gazing to impress’, he watched for the wagon he knew was coming. That would signal his doom.


“Excuse me,” a small voice spoke.

Big Jim looked down.

Mr. Rat was standing respectfully at his feet.

Too sore and sad to even react, Big Jim merely looked at him. “What?”

“May I look?”

“What can you do?”

Mr. Rat shrugged. “I have strong teeth. Perhaps I can help.”


Big Jim merely shrugged and jerked his head toward the offending hoof. “Do what you want,” he said, shortly.

The rat walked around to the large hoof, propped up on a small mound of dirt. He sniffed with his little rat nose. He peered with his sharp little rat eyes.


“I think I’ve found the problem, he said, finally.

Big Jim stared at him. “Really. When all the doctors searched and couldn’t find anything, you—a rat—has done what none of them could do.”

The rat nodded. “You have a nail up in your hoof. Sharp. With no head.”


Big Jim stared some more. “How could I have picked up a nail?”

Mr. Rat shrugged. “I don’t know. Prancing?”

If Big Jim had not been completely covered with hair, he probably would have blushed convincingly. “Ummm . . .” he said.

“I can get it out,” said Mr. Rat.



“It will take others to help me, but if we all pull together, it should work.”

Big Jim was justifiably cheered by the little rat’s words. I mean, we’re talking about his life here. 

“I don’t ask much . . .” Mr. Rat said.

Big Jim looked at him. “Much?”


“Just a bed and some of your grain and a little respect.”

Big Jim thought about it. For .38 seconds. “Done! What do I need to do?”

“Well, first of all, I will need to find some help.” The rat looked around. “Do you suppose the other animals will assist?”


Big Jim thought about that. He thought—with shame—about the times he had made fun of the other animals. Would they help someone who had been nothing but cruel to them? Would he, given the same scenario? He doubted it. He had never thought about anyone else in his life.


“You can ask,” he told the little rat.

Mr. Rat scurried off and, amazingly, came back with a long line of animals prepared to help.

Humbled, Big Jim looked at them. “I am sorry for the way I treated you,” he said. “And I thank you with all my heart.”


They smiled wide animal smiles. “I guess we all have things we’re ashamed of. We regret our treatment of our rat friend here. Maybe our working together will signal a needed change in all of us.”

Big Jim nodded. “I’d like that.”

“Let’s all get to work,” Mr. Rat said.


He walked back around to the injured foot and nibbled at a spot with his sharp, strong teeth. Slowly, the end of a long, thin nail was revealed. Finally, there was enough exposed that he could grip it. He signalled to the other animals to grab onto each other. 


One by one, they grabbed tails with their teeth and beaks.The last one, a large, fine sheep, grabbed Mr. Rat’s tail. Then they pulled.

And pulled.

And pulled some more.

Slowly, inch by inch, a long, thin nail was extracted from the hoof.

Steadily, they pulled, until it was freed.


Mr. Rat dropped it to the ground and they all gathered around for a look.

“Ew,” said one of the chickens.

“In a word,” Big Jim said.

“How does your foot feel?” asked one of the sheep.

Big Jim carefully lowered his hoof to the ground. “Better!” he said.



Big Jim recovered. And wasn’t sold. 

He lived a long, happy life, right there on the farm.

But from that day on, he, and all the other animals, treated the others with respect.

Because they had discovered that each of them needed each other. From the tall. To the small.

Thank you for the lesson, Mr. Rat. Jimmy and his friends are forever grateful. 

Today’s post is a writing challenge! Each month one of the participating bloggers picks 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: 50

It was chosen by: Me!


At the end of this post, you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Keep the party going!


Baking In A Tornado

Messymimi’s Meanderings

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Meat I Can Eat


I always have loved meatloaf,

Mom made it, oh, so well,

That tender, sweet deliciousness

And what a sav’ry smell!


She paired it with potatoes,

And veggies, butter-y,

Then after grace was uttered,

She heaped a plate for me!


Oh, how I loved the flavour,

Onion, garlic was divine,

A hint of ripe tomato,

And spices were just fine!


I gobbled first and seconds,

And sometimes even thirds,

Mouth full of meat, potatoes,

Too delicious e’en for words!


Years have past, and Husby

Now wears the meatloaf ‘wreath’,

What I love the most about it now?

For it, I don’t need teeth!

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?

With OPERA as our topic,
Next week is sure to be,
The best one in a long time,
At least t’will be for me!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?

We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
Meatloaf Appreciation (October 18) Today!
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)

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?