Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, January 7, 2022

Getting the Point

I had saved forever!

It was mine!
It's not fair!
Maybe I should explain . . .
In the early sixties, exciting things came in the mail.
Okay, yes, they still do.
But somehow, getting stuff in the mail is just a bit more exciting when you are eight.
Isn't it a beauty?
At least it was for me.
Probably because it didn't happen often.
Dad would stop at the post office and come out with the usual bushel basket of ranch mail.
Whereupon (good word) I would pounce.
“Dad! Is there anything for me?”
He would look at me, smile and say,” What's your name?”
“Sorry. Nope.”
I got smarter. Or at least more efficient. “Dad! Is there anything for me? My name's Diane.”
But the answer seldom changed.
“Sorry. Nope.”
But when I was eight, I discovered that you could 'order' stuff.
Free stuff. Lots and lots of it. The back pages of literally every magazine had rows and rows of ads from companies who were just aching to mail it to you.
It was a whole new world.
I scoured every magazine, gleaning offers of free stuff and sent out dozens of requests.
Then started receiving packages in the mail.
Games and puzzles.
It was like Christmas every time Dad went for the mail.
Now he no longer asked what my name was, he simply handed me packages.
Ahhhh. Valhalla.
Then I discovered something else.
First a little sidenote: Dad always kept a stock of ice cream and ice cream treats in the freezer.
For special times.
We weren't allowed to eat them without permission, though.
But that was all right because we received permission a lot.
I'm sure you're wondering what this has to do with ordering stuff.
That part comes now . . .
The ice cream treats had wrappers. Normally, we would simply throw them away when they had fulfilled their purpose. Then I discovered that there were offers printed on them.
From 'Popsicle Pete', whoever that was.
Offers for 'free' stuff.
Okay, I realize that they weren't strictly free, being as you had to buy the ice cream.
But I digress . . .
If you collected 'X' number of wrappers, you could order 'Y'.
I studied the selection.
I made my choice.
And hoarded my wrappers.
Eons later, I finally had enough. I could order that super amazing, extra special . . . knife.
Just what every eight-year-old needs, right?
Oh it wasn't just any knife. There was a picture of a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman on it.
And it cost me every one of my 14 wrappers.
It was to become the heart of my collection.
Of stuff.
I sent out my wrappers.
And waited.
And waited.
Finally, Dad handed me that extra special package.
I tore into the paper and triumphantly held up my knife.
Whereupon (Oooh. Twice in one post.) Mom grabbed it.
“Diane! What are you doing with this?”
I stared at her. “It's mine. I ordered it.”
“You can't play with a knife!”
“I wasn't going to play with it!”
“What were you going to do with it?”
“Ummm . . . cut stuff?”
“Right. Your fingers, probably.” Mom carried my special treasure to the cupboard.
The one above the fridge. Incidentally, the only one in the whole house that I couldn't get to.
“Mom! I bought that!”
“I know, dear,” she said. “And I will give it back to you. After you turn ten.”
I stared at her in disbelief. “Ten?!”
“Yes. By that time, you will be old enough to own a knife.”
Ten?! That was forever!
I stared up at the cupboard.
Then at my Mom.
She couldn't possibly mean it.
“But . . . I bought it,” I said again, weakly. Maybe it would have more impact this time.
“I know, dear,” Mom said.
“But . . .” I could think of nothing else to say.
That's when the tears started.
Even those failed to move her.
For years, my knife had its home in that cupboard. Not to be discovered until we moved.
“Huh,” she said. “Look, Diane. Here's your knife.”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot,” I said. I took it from her and looked at it. “Cute.”
“Diane! Can I have the knife?” It was my little brother, Blair.
Age? Ten.
I handed it to him.
One should never have to wait for their fun.

Thursday, January 6, 2022


Today is my Mama's 98th birthday!
Last year, I posted an excerpt from her journals that encapsulated her core beliefs.
Today, in her honour, I publish them again.
I miss you, Mom! Happy Birthday!

My Mom's Philosophy in a nutshell:

Happiness is a direction, not a place.

From her journal:


GIFTS OF THE HEART: love, kindness, joy, understanding, sympathy, tolerance, forgiveness

GIFTS OF THE MIND: ideas, dreams, purposes, inventions, projects, poetry

GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT: prayer, vision, beauty, aspiration, peace, faith

GIFTS OF WORDS: encouragement, inspiration, guidance, praise

Mom, when I grow up, I want to be just like you!

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Fifty Day Wednesday #21

The line-ups were long. I was 9 carts back.

Suddenly the man fourth before me screamed and punched the guy in the line ahead of him, then fell sideways to the floor. His eyes rolled back and he had spittle coming from his mouth.

“New variant!” someone shouted.


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, January 4, 2022

Getting Bouncy

Or something similar . . .
I had just turned four and had recently discovered a new and wondrous activity.
Which I had to keep very, very secret.
Because for some reason, my Mom didn’t approve.
Weird . . .
I was a fresh graduate of my toddler bed (the one with the kitty on the headboard) and had definitely moved on.
My new bed was a big, old, iron monstrosity with heavy bars forming the head and foot boards.
Did I mention big?
And old?
Well, both were appropriate.
It was about six thousand times the size of my old bed.
And a million times taller.
True story.
When my mom introduced us, we eyed each other distrustfully.
Okay, well, I eyed.
It just . . . sat there.
Looking huge.
Mom lifted me and set me on it.
I went very still. Then looked around.
The chenille bedspread was soft and neat.
I lay back. Hmm. Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.
I stood up.
Wait a second. This bed was really . . . bouncy.
I started to jump.
Mom came back into the room and saw me. “Diane, don’t jump on the bed. You might hurt yourself.”
I stopped and sat down.
Mom bustled out again.
I looked at the bed. The big, soft bed. How on earth was it going to hurt me?
I stood up. Waited a moment to make sure she was gone.
Then started to jump again.
She stuck her head back inside. “Diane!” 
I stopped. Man, she was good!
She picked up my laundry basket and headed for the kitchen.
I started to jump.
“Diane!” Warningly from the dining room.
Geeze. That woman was everywhere!
This time, I waited until I heard her doing things to the wringer-washer in the kitchen.
On the second bounce . . . “Diane!”
Okay, that was freaky.
I heard the washer go on. Ha! No way could she hear me now!
I bounced a really, really big bounce.
The biggest bounce of my very short career.
And bounced my nose right into the metal headboard.
You know that pause between the thump and the wail?
It takes that long to discover that one has been injured.
That said injuries hurt.
And to draw a great, big breath.
Mom was there in a heartbeat.
Holding a cloth to a nose that was streaming blood.
Both from the business end.
And from the bridge, where it had been broken.
I have the scar, still.
There is a moral . . .
When Mom tells you not to do such-and-such because you might get hurt?
Believe her.
Just FYI.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Lost Among the Stars

 Sherlock Holmes and Watson headed out to forests deep,

Thinking they could get away and catch up on some sleep,

They’d enjoyed the forest stillness and expected lack of crime,

And sitting by the fire just delighting in downtime.


But finally, they grew sleepy as they stared up at the trees,

And climbed into their tent so they could catch up on some zzzzz’s,

The rustlings of the forest soon lulled both of them to doze,

And ‘In the Arms of Morpheus’, were finding some repose.


Then sometime after midnight, Holmes shook Watson wide-awake,

His friend yawned and rubbed his eyes and gave his head a shake.

“Tell me, John, what you deduce by gazing at the stars?

“I know that there are many, but I’m thinking now of ours.”


I deduce just by the number that the universe is vast,

Containing billions of these stars—quite bright when they’re amassed,

I’m sure these stars have planets, and deduce, statistically,

Intelligent life exists as well, on one or two or three.

But Holmes just looked disgusted as John attempted to sound smart,

So John tried to think of something Sherlock couldn’t take apart,

“I guess that philosophically, when compared with what’s out there,

“We’re really insignificant, far less key than we’re aware.”


But Sherlock shook his head, “My friend, you’ve really missed the mark,

“Speculating numbers of the stars there in the dark,

“When trying to impress me with your philosophic bent,

“Somehow you missed (with your remarks) …that someone stole our tent!”

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?

We might have only heard of some,
    But some we know a mite,
PECULIAR PEOPLE, we'll discuss
    Our lives, they do excite!

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!)...

Sleep (January 3)Today!

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. 

Kites (February 7)

Valentine (February 14)

Predictions (February 21)

DNA (February 28)

Sunday, January 2, 2022

The BBB and Me!


Once more, it is my awesome opportunity to host the Best of Boomer Bloggers!

This week, our beloved Boomers discuss everything from overthinking, travel, financial planning, and economic inequality to falling asleep. With a new blog thrown in! Enjoy!

I love my people!

Are you prone to nervous spells? Overthinking? Sweating not just the small stuff but everything? Then like Laurie Stone, you may be neurotic. Over the years she’s learned certain situations trigger the anxious, jumpy rabbit in her. Yet the good news is she’s recently learned this fascinating coping technique.


When CarolCassara was diagnosed with sleep apnea, she was told to have a sleep study. Since a home-based study was impractical, she had to sleep in a lab for a night. And, as usual for her, it did not go quite as planned. Here's her humorous take on that night, with more to come. 

Rebecca Olkowski, with, has been busy setting up a new blog expressly for her adventures in Los Angeles called and has moved some of her posts from her main blog there. She will continue to write on both sites but wanted her local stuff to stand out more.  Please give it a visit here.

The holiday season was subdued again this year, at least for Meryl Baer of Beach Boomer Bulletin. She stayed home and spent time doing…not much worthwhile. On the last day of the year, she took a walk, as she recounts in this week’s post Year End Interlude

Rising prices? Supply chain issues? Vaccines? Poor customer service? Climate change? Check out Rita R. Robison’s consumer and personal finance blog to see what she’s picked for the top 10 stories of 2021.

Tom fromSightings Over Sixty has done some homework over the holidays. Now ... does he want to Blame the Upper Middle Class for all our economic woes? It's not clear whether he does or not. But two recent books do take on the professionals in the upper middle class for their smug self-righteousness and their role is perpetuating economic inequality. Check out his blog post and see if you agree.



And now me, Diane. Happily writing fiction about the scariest woman in the neighbourhood. Who just might not be that scary after all.
A story very much based on my Aunt Emily. 

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!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?