Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, December 31, 2021

Starting Out Bad

This wretched ol' pandemic has our mood a little low,
And if it lasts much longer, we'll know nothing else but woe,
It behooves us to remember: others, too were just as down,
But because they didn't give up, soon, success erased their frowns!

Things progressed as normal, as the bright sun sailed that day,
And then we watched in awe as Mister Moon got in the way,
And isn’t that a bit like life? Our plans flow normally,
Then all at once, there’s something comes that we did not foresee . . .

Percy was an engineer, known for brains, not brawn,
Was fiddling with some microwaves from a magnetron.
Then the chocolate in his pocket melted there, right where it was,
His discovery? The microwave. To worldwide applause.

Play-Doh: It was made to clean the paper on the wall.
But poor results and sales had the business in free-fall.
But when kids started using it for their crafts and games,
It gave the struggling company cash and quite a bit of fame.

Harry couldn’t get cyanoacrylate to work.
Instead of forming what he wished, it stuck. ‘Twas quite a quirk.
Then suddenly he realized that he’d made a breakthrough,
And what he had invented would be known as Super Glue.

Teflon wasn’t what Roy Plunkett started out to make,
He wanted different CFC’s, but he made a mistake.
Instead of gas, he found white flakes, intriguing little bits.
You’ll love it on your non-stick pans for when you’re frying grits.

Velcro was an accident, invented via dog.
When George took his pet hunting: picking burrs, the epilogue.
When closely studied, George could see the tiny little ‘hooks’.
He experimented and he won. It’s there in all the books.

So just because the sun is hidden for a tiny spell,
You simply do not have to fear that things aren’t going well.
And just ‘cause life is different than what you may have planned,
Sometimes, it is the unforeseen that truly makes it grand

Welcome to our Monthly Poetry Challenge!
This month's topic? Moods
Did I help lift yours?

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

Thursday, December 30, 2021


It's tougher than it looks...

Mom was an excellent cook.
She could make almost anything taste fantastic.
She did have her weaknesses.
Her soggy boiled spinach was consumed only with copious amounts of vinegar or butter.
And we won’t even mention her disastrous attempts at lutefisk (specifically prepared cod).
Though I have to admit I have yet to find anyone who can make that eat-able.
Moving on . . .
Mom taught me how to cook.
Of course I was always a better taste-er than cook-er.
But let’s not go there.
She showed me how to make a pot roast.
And how to use the drippings for smooth and delicious, gravy.
Mostly, my forays into the heavenly land of roasted meat and gravy were acceptable.
Sometimes, they weren’t.
But it was one of those ‘less-than-satisfactory’ occasions that gave rise to a new family tradition . . .
On Sundays, before leaving for church, Mom had taught me to put a roast in the oven. Thus, when the family returned from services, the smell of deliciousness would be wafting through the house, making mouths water and giving the impression that food was forthcoming.
Which it was.
Eagerly, the family would perform such tasks as: Changing out of ‘Sunday’ clothes. Setting the table. Drooling.
While Mom (me) whipped up the accompaniments to the main dish.
In short order, everyone was seated and shoveling.
Until Mom (me, again) brought out the gravy.
Now, up until now, my gravy had been a little on the thin side.
On this auspicious day, it was . . . thick.
Really thick.
Eat with a fork thick.
Husby took the bowl, obligingly spooned some of the contents onto his potatoes and beef.
Spread it around with his knife.
And made an unfortunate comment of which the words ‘wallpaper paste’ alone were discernible.
Can I say it? It made me . . . crabby.
Let me get the turpentine to thin it out crabby.
After that, when the smell of roast beef drifted through the air, Husby was the person at the stove, making the gravy.
It has become a family tradition.
And his gravy is legendary.
He doesn’t flaunt his superiority.
Okay, maybe he does.
A little.
But it’s well-deserved.
Isn’t it amazing when traditions are started for the sole purpose of not endangering lives?

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Fifty Day Wednesday #20

Because I felt like telling a joke on this fifty word Wednesday...

I need you to tell me something because it’s really bothering me…

Does this sound fair?

Why is it that when Venus lies around naked in a clamshell, she’s worshipped and considered a goddess.

But when I do it, I’m considered drunk and am ‘no longer welcome at the aquarium’.

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, December 28, 2021

The Scary One

This story is fiction, but largely based on my beloved Aunt Emily. The original Miss Ernestine.

Her name was Miss Ernestine.
And the kids in the neighbourhood were terrified of her.
We all called her Miss Scare-estine.
Miss Ernestine was a maiden lady.
A tall, slender person. Always impeccably groomed.
She had many talents.
For thirty-five years, she had taught home economics to hundreds of young girls at the local high school. Now, in retirement, she spun and wove. Was a seamstress extraordinaire. And worked in her garden - a cool, wondrous place that could sometimes be glimpsed through the slats of her back fence - with carefully laid-out tracks and flowered borders. 
But her greatest talent was her ability to stare at kids through reading glasses that magnified her eyes to unbelievable proportions. 
And see into their souls.
At any time of the day, you could see her sitting beside her great front window, spinning.
And watching.
Soaking up the intimate details of the actions of the kids on the block.
Obviously recording them in her steel-trap brain to tell our parents later.
The moment any of us stepped out through the front door of our homes, we felt like little insignificant insects under the careful watch of a giant, bug-eyed scientist. 
Whenever her sharp, magnified blue eyes turned toward me, I could feel my face turn crimson and my heart speed up. Or my face drain of colour and my heart stop. In fact, I was always in a state of mottled anxiety: red, turning white. Or white, turning red. 
Fear does those things to you.
Sometimes, we would see one or more of the adults on the street stop and chat with her. 
But it was obvious that, when it came to the art of jovial conversation, she  . . . struggled.
Okay let’s face it; she was as stiff as last year’s Christmas tree.
She would spend her time correcting any hapless person who chanced to make a comment that fell within her areas of expertise. And said areas of expertise included any and all topics.
She was sharp, critical, outspoken and downright scary.
And the bane of the entire block’s worth of children.
And then my mother got sick.
At first, it was ‘just the flu’, and would be over and done with shortly.
But it stayed, and worsened.
Finally, the doctor diagnosed it as pneumonia.
He assured us that, with proper care, she would recover and continue to live a full and happy life.
But she did need that proper care.
And how she was going to get it as a single lady with six kids - and the eldest only ten - was anyone’s guess. 
Then came that knock on the front door.
My older sister answered it.
And there was Miss Ernestine, loaded down with boxes and bags.
Without even waiting for a ‘come in’, however timidly it might have been offered, she swept into the place and . . . took over.
For the next week, she cooked for us, cleaned, did laundry, helped with homework, kissed boo-boos and nursed my mother.
Bedtimes, though strictly enforced, were a relaxing time of storytelling and learning about bygone days as Miss Ernestine regaled us with tales of growing up in the mad, wonderful city of San Francisco in the roaring twenties. Of her wish for marriage and children that never came to fruition. Of her careful watching of the neighbourhood children to make sure they were safe and happy.
The day that I woke up to see my mother once more installed in the kitchen was both the best – and the worst – of my life.
And later, when Miss Ernestine disappeared out the front door, laden again with boxes and bags, I thought my heart would break cleanly in two.
After that, things on our street were different.
Gone was the fear. The dread. The ignorance and uncertainty.
Armed with the knowledge and understanding of a different perspective, we discovered there was something else that Miss Ernestine excelled at.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Fruitcake Friends

There are many kinds of fruitcake, true,

Some are sweet (kids like them, too!)

Others nutty, lots of crunch,

Some have alcohol—pack a punch,

Some are firm and never spoil,

All are made with love and toil,

You must admit, they can’t be beat,

Firm or sauced or nutty, sweet,


So great to have mid joy or strife…

My friends are the fruitcake in my life!


Thank you for being my friends!

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, come, we’re counting sheep,
Cause our new topic will be SLEEP!

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!)...
Fruitcake (December 27) Today!

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!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?