Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, November 26, 2021


She looks toward me through a curtain of hair,

I wonder how much she can see? Does she care?

This doggins who’s taken control of my life,

Who plays when I’m happy and comforts through strife,

Makes sure aged joints will get their proper care

By pulling me outside into the fresh air,

She sits by my desk while I sweat o’er a page,

Patiently waiting her chance to engage,

Excited to go. In the car, she will hop,

Then wait endlessly while her dad and I shop,

She’s boundlessly patient, and waits for her turn,

E’en happily gobbles the bacon I burn,

Ready for ‘walkies’ each day just at dawn,

Well, she was born ready—I’ve got clothes to put on…

While she stares at the screen with her big, dark-brown eyes,

Does she figure it out and the mystery surmise?

When we’re done with the news, the day’s pretty much dead,

She’s glaring with purpose, “Come on! Get to bed!”

I wonder what we would be like—without her,

Would we miss licks and hugs and that cuddly fur?

Would we get out of bed before noon? (What a waste!)

Would it have to be me giving new foods a taste?

If we didn’t have Pandy to tow us along,

Would we get some fresh air and be healthy and strong?

What if she wasn’t with us for life’s greatest show?

I’m glad that, at present, I don’t have to know.



Welcome to our Monthly Poetry Challenge!
This month's topic? Animals
And what could be better than those who share their lives with us?

Excited for more?
Read what the other challengers have crafted!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanks Giving

It's Thanksgiving for our brothers and sisters across the border.

What am I thankful for?
This will start you out. It started me out . . .
My hometown!
Southern Alberta small town life in the 50s.
Crime hadn't been invented yet.
It was, literally, a different world.
Our doors were never, ever locked.
Every house contained numerous children, who ran hither and yon (good term) all day long. In and out of each other's yards and homes and refrigerators.
Mom, like all of the other moms, worked in her home, cooking, polishing and cleaning and doing other 'Mom' stuff.
She would come to the door at meal times and call out into the street, whereupon (another good word) her various offspring would head home for home-cooked food.
Canned soup was something new and wonderful. Always served with yummy homemade bread sandwiches.
At some point during the day, one of us kids would be sent downtown with a pillowcase to the local post office to retrieve the mail.
Shopping inevitably meant going to one of the two (yes, we had two) grocery stores, or if clothing or dry goods were required, Robinson's.
The drug store ran a tab (a sheet of paper with our names written on it) for chocolate bars purchased.
At ten cents each.
Freshly-roasted nuts could be procured from the display in the center of the store.
Trips with Dad to see the insurance agent inevitably meant a Hershey chocolate bar because the bottom drawer of Mr. Hovan's desk was full of them.
We had our own cobbler, Mr. Szabo, and I loved to go with Dad to his shop because it was fascinating to watch him fashion great hunks of leather into real shoes with his little hammer.
A trip to one of the two local car dealers turned into an adventure when he showed us his brand new Polaroid camera that magically developed its own pictures while you waited.
Every Saturday, Dad would send us to the movies with fifty cents. Twenty-five for the movie. Ten for popcorn and ten for a bottle of Grape Crush with a straw.
With five cents left over.
Until I discovered that the five cents could be spent on a package of licorice. Whereupon (that word again), I started coming home empty-handed.
But happy.
The theatre also had 'cuddle seats'. Double sized seats at both ends of every other row. Perfect for two sweethearts to cuddle in together while they watched 'Santa and the Martians' or 'Sinbad' or 'Lassie'.
All candy contained sugar and natural flavours.
Most of it was made on this continent.
Our clothes were mostly cotton.
Easily wrinkled, but pressed into shape by Mom's ever-present iron.
Easter Sunday was an opportunity to wear one's new spring hat and matching outfit.
And absolutely everyone attended church.
Thanksgiving was a chance to gather, not only one's own enormous family but any and all extended family members and shoe-horn the entire mob into any available space.
At Christmas, an enormous, real tree was erected in the center of the intersection of Main and First streets.
The traffic happily drove around it for the entire season. Well, most of the traffic. Aunt Grace ran into it once.
The arrival of Santa in Mr. Madge's special North Pole plane, a much-anticipated event.
And, once again, everyone went to church.
Midnight mass with one's Catholic friends was a special treat.
We rode our bikes down dirt - then gravel – roads.
One always held one's breath when a car went past until the dust cloud following it settled down.
Cars always drove slowly because the streets were inevitably teeming with children (or better known by their technical name - 'small fry').
There was only one channel on the black and white TV set, so if the program airing didn't appeal, there was literally nothing on TV.
In the evenings, when one wasn't involved in Cubs, Scouts, or CGIT, one was home with the family, watching the one TV channel or playing games together.
Mom always made treats.
Yummy ones.
We had whole neighbourhoods of Hungarians, Germans and Japanese.
And all of them were wonderful people and terrific cooks.
Funny how so many memories revolve around food . . .
Sports events were exactly that.
Ball games were played in a dirt lot and the crowd sat on the ground or brought their own chairs to enjoy the fun.
Basketball was huge.
The whole town would pack the high-school gym to cheer on our teams.
Winter sports were limited to home-style rinks or the town rink, and only when it was cold enough to support ice.
The curling rink, with its refrigeration unit, was always popular.
'Bonspiel-ing' was a sport in itself.
The town was founded on and supported by, farming and ranching.
Most of the vehicles that rumbled down the streets were dusty farm trucks, many containing a farm animal or two.
And everyone knew everyone else.
Their address, phone number (Jody's phone number was 6), family members.
Even pets.
It was a wonderful way to grow up.
Like an enormous, caring family . . .
I loved growing up in Milk River.
It was a perfect life.
But that 'small-town' life has largely vanished everywhere now.
Oh, one can catch glimpses of it.
Friendly neighbourhoods.
Caring neighbours.
So now it's your turn. What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Fifty Day Wednesday #16

Marie brought her new boyfriend in and smilingly introduced him.
Her parents accepted his shaved head, piercings and tattoos, but were appalled at his brusque, uncaring attitude.
“But is he a nice boy?” they asked their daughter.
“Pfff…if he wasn’t nice, would he be doing 300 hours of community service?”

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 . . .

Sooo fun!

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

Leave your contribution in the comments...

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Little Girl

Me. And my Daddy.
My first experience with the radio . . .
Mom must have heard the sobs.
She came out of the kitchen, drying her hands on a towel. “Diane?”
More sobs.
“Diane, where are you?”
She followed the heartbroken sounds to behind the couch.
To the little four-year-old who had crawled between the piece of furniture and the large picture window just behind.
I looked up at her.
Can’t you just see the little tear-stained face?
Mom smiled at me and reached out to pull me into her arms. “Diane, what’s wrong?”
The two of us sat down on the couch.
Mom dabbed at my face with her towel. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
“He left her, Mom!” I managed at last.
Mom stared at me. “Who? Left who?”
“He left her. His little girl. Why did he leave her?”
Mom’s face was a veritable cornucopia of expressions.
With a large dollop of confusion.
“Honey, what are you talking about?”
“The man!” I looked at her intently through drenched eyes. Surely she knew him. She had been listening to him. I reached out and grasped her arm, giving it a shake. “The man you were listening to!” I looked away. “He was so sad ‘cause he had to leave his little girl in gings-tin-down.” I looked back at her. “Why did he leave her?”
Mom’s face suddenly lit up. “Oh. The radio!” she said.
It was my turn to stare at her. “The radio?”
She cuddled me closer. “Honey, you were listening to a man singing on the radio!”
“But he left his little girl! He said!” I scrubbed at my nose with a slightly grubby hand. “And he was sad.”
Mom smiled. “It was just a song.”
“But his little girl!” I couldn't get past the thought that, somewhere, there was a little girl who was missing her daddy.
“He’s not actually talking about a little girl . . .” Mom began.
“But he said!” I broke in. “I heard him! He said his little girl!”
“In this case he’s talking about his wife or sweetheart.” She tightened her arms around me. “Sometimes men call their wives or sweethearts ‘little girl’.
I felt my face twisting into my favourite - and most effective - confused expression. “What?”
She nodded. “It’s just their way of saying, I love you.”
“Oh.” I thought about that for a minute.
Just then the front door opened.
Tears and forlorn little girls forgotten, I leaped down from Mom’s lap and headed for the front hall. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”
Tall and strong, he was there to scoop me up. “How’s my little girl?” he said.

True story.
And here's the exact song, by the incomparable Harry Belafonte. Enjoy!
I have Kleenex . . .

Monday, November 22, 2021

When Love is More Than Blue

 Almost fifteen. My friend, Debbie, and me,

Were dreaming of love and a boyfriend (or three!),

 We sat in her bedroom one late afternoon,

Eating some snacks as we listened to ‘tunes’,

She had this small player—held one ‘45’

Two teenagers trying to keep angst alive.

Then she placed a new record on top for a spin,

“Ooh! Listen to this sweet one I just got in!”

And, for the first time I heard  Paul Mauriat,

Piano and strings in a brand new format.

And before ‘Love is Blue’ fin’lly played to the end,

I was totally in love with it, just like my friend.

But, oddly, for teenagers dreaming of love,

It did something else, (What were we thinking of?)

Our class had been reading The Lord of the Flies,

The one with the schoolboys (where somebody dies),

And Debbie talked on ‘bout when Simon was stabbed

By the boys he called friends. Well, it just made her sad,

And she pictured that body out there on the beach,

All by itself, and no help within reach,

Well the thought made her cry. And just then on the air,

Came this song about love, but it had her ensnared,

Thinking of Simon. The tide coming in,

And tenderly lapping his hair and his skin,

Well, I told you the thought of it just made her cry,

She decided right then that she just had to buy,

Though the rest of the world heard with love on their minds,

Deb’s and my thoughts were a far different kind.

You know, more than fifty years passed since that time,

That day (decades later), would look so sublime,

When Deb had me looking at something quite grand,

From a far different angle than the writer had planned.

I wish I could go back—be fifteen again,

Playing those records—of love and of pain,

Our whole lives ahead, no idea of strife,

But making us ready for our future life.

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?

You never yet,
met a pet,
I can bet
That's better than all of the pets WE will get...

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks (with a huge thank-you to Mimi, who comes up with so many of them!)...

Your favorite record (or) best stereo or record player ever (November 22) Today!

Chia Pets (November 29)
Hanukkah/Holidays (December 6)
Ice Cream (December 13)
Music (December 20)
Fruitcake (December 27)

Sleep (January 3)

Peculiar People (January 10) 

Ditch Your New Year's Resolutions (January 17)

Opposite Day (January 24)

Typo Day (January 31) Celebrate those funny (autocorrect) mistakes.

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?