Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, January 21, 2022

I’ll Be Here

I'll be here!
Every day, while Mama went to work, Tinesy Girl came to stay with Gramma.
Something all of us loved.
There was much hugging and kissing as Mama prepared to go out the door in the morning.
Many ‘I love yous’.
And not a few ‘see you soons’.
Then Mama was off and we were on our own.
We had fun.
There were toys and games to play with.
Books to read.
Plays to enact.
And yummy things to eat.
But Tinesy Girl still missed her Mama.
Now one of TG’s favourite toys was a musically interactive, eminently portable activity board.
On wheels.
There were buttons and keys to push, gears to spin, doors to open and close, and a small, purple phone.
To . . . umm . . . carry around.
And which, until that day, had been MIA.
A cursory and completely fruitless search had been conducted.
And the toy written off as one of those things that ‘will just show up later’.
Our daughter was (and still is) a theatre carpenter. Arriving at work and opening her toolbox, she finally discovered TG’s little purple phone.
Tucked neatly among the hammers and drills of her Mama’s tools-of-the-trade.
Arriving home from work, our grinning daughter triumphantly held up the phone.
TG grabbed it and refused to let go.
It went into the tub with her during her bath.
And ditto when she went to sleep.
The next morning, there was the usual ritual of hugs, kisses and ‘I love yous’.
And her Mama was off for another day of noisy measuring, cutting and piecing together.
As lunchtime approached, she drug out her backpack and zipped it open.
There, on top of everything was TG’s little purple phone.
Our daughter pulled it out and stared at it.
Then she laughed.
The message was finally clear.
“Call me!”

Thursday, January 20, 2022


I love Alberta. 
It's beautiful.
Wide, grassy prairies.
High, majestic mountains.
Blue skies.
Clear air.
Warm temperatures.
Okay, I know that it gets cold in Alberta.
And yes, -40 (C or F) is not uncommon.
But, probably because of the extreme temperatures, Alberta is missing a couple of very important things.
And I'm not complaining.
1. Alberta is the only place on earth that has no rats.
None. They are stopped at the borders, asked to produce a current passport, then turned away.
Let's face it, have you ever seen a rat with any passport, let alone a current one?
There is even a designated rat un-welcome committee stationed at every border.
An effective one.
Equipped with guns and traps.
And lots of cheese.
I don't know about you, but that would certainly indicate to me that I wasn't wanted.
Moving on . . .
So . . . no rats.
2. Alberta also has no big bugs.
Okay, we have bugs.
Just not big ones.
I've seen the pictures of people holding cockroaches that reach to their elbows and spiders that could easily carry off small children.
I know what big bugs look like.
And we don't have them.
That makes me happy.
We know how blessed we are.
Case in point:
Our son was preparing to go out to milk.
It was cold.
Alberta cold.
He was layering up at the back door.
Long johns.
Cotton socks.
Wool socks over cotton ones.
Heavy shirt.
Heavy coat.
Touque. (Warm Canadian winter hat)
Yep. In Canada, we pretty much invented layering.
And going outside isn't something you do at the spur of the moment.
It takes thought.
And time.
I was preparing breakfast and I could hear my son moving around at the back door.
And mumbling to himself.
I dried my hands and walked over to him.
What I heard was, " . . . cockroaches."
I moved closer.
"We don't get cockroaches," he said.
As he pulled on one sock.
"We don't get cockroaches."
Second sock.
"We don't get cockroches."
"We don't get cockroaches."
And so it went.
The same refrain with each and every layer.
Psyching himself up to open that door and get the blast of cold air in the face.
We live in Alberta.
It is beautiful.
And cold.
But we don't have rats.
Or get big bugs.
Sometimes it takes the one to appreciate the other.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Out Bumperd

Or something similar...
That day, I lost my crown.

There was no ceremony.
Few tears.
And an audible sigh of relief.
Maybe I should explain . . .
In the main drive of the ranch, there was a light/electricity pole.
A large one.
I’m not sure whose idea it was to place it thus, but there it stood.
In the centre of the circular drive.
Any drivers had, of necessity, to be vigilant when negotiating our driveway.
Even though said pole had stood there, unmoving and in the exact same place, for years.
As a permanent resident of the ranch, I had always known of its existence.
I knew the exact place where one had to turn the wheel in order to miss it.
And just when to swing around when parking.
But this one day, I was . . . distracted.
Have you heard the ads on TV where they caution you not to drive while distracted?
Listen to them.
Ahem . . .
Without thinking, I shoved the gear shift of our large red and white Chevy Beauville 12-passenger van into reverse.
And started backing up.
After a few feet, I felt a rather large thump.
And the van made a sudden stop.
Frowning, I turned to look behind me.
Oh, right.
Sheepishly, I pulled ahead.
Then got out to inspect the damage.
The bright silver bumper had been neatly creased just to one side of the center.
A deep enough crease to force both the top and the bottom of said bumper . . . umm . . . out. Quite effectively preventing the back door from opening.
I must admit that when my Husby saw it, all he could do was laugh.
Then saw the top point off the crease so the back door would open.
And laugh some more.
That was nearly thirty years ago.
He has been laughing since.
Then one day, I heard another bumper story. A better bumper story. Told by my good friend, Jen.
Jen was backing out of her garage. It has been sleeting and freezing and her drive way was a sheet of ice.
She backed out cautiously.
After a few feet, the vehicle stopped moving.
Stupid ice.
She pressed harder on the accelerator.
Still no progress.
Just a bit more.
Suddenly, the bumper of her vehicle popped off.
The whole thing.
Right off.
And it was at that precise moment that she realized she hadn't, as she had thought, been slipping on the ice.
Her bumper had snagged on the garage door.
The door had won.
She stopped the car and got out to survey.
Then, abandoning her travel plans for the afternoon, she went back into the house and stayed there.
Some time later, her Husby and his dad came to inspect.
Jen watched them as they shook their heads and muttered to each other.
Finally, they picked up the bumper and refastened it.
With cable ties.
It had been 10 years.
They were still driving that car.
And that bumper was still attached.
I happily passed the crown to her.
She’d earned it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022


A peaceful kingdom. And a powerful sorcerer who simply wants to go home. A perfect setting for Sinbad, the hero of Baghdad. (And for a month of nightmares for an imaginative four-year-old.)

Things looked good in the kingdom of Persia. The neighbours were happy. The king was happy. The princess, Parisa—affianced to Sinbad—was happy. Sinbad had come home safely. All was well.

 Except that Sinbad had brought with him a traveler, Sokurah (EES-Expert of Evil Sorcery), plucked from trouble during Sinbad’s latest adventure. And who, now that troubles were well past, wanted his own bed. On his island.

Not one to brook refusal when it was unhelpfully offered, Sokurah EES curses the princess (see above), shrinking her to ‘Barbie’ doll size. Which Barbie, I should probably mention, hadn’t been invented yet.

Somehow avoiding suspicion it was Sokurah EES, himself who had done the deed, he offers help. IF they take him back to his island where he has the proper ingredients.

Confronted with the choice between a permanently-tiny daughter (under threat from everything including the family cat), and possible death and dismemberment, the King agrees. And equips a ship with men, stuff…and Sinbad.

The voyage is uneventful, apart from a few machinations à la Sokurah EES, one or two life-threatening storms and the agonizing and uber disorienting shrieks of sirens. You know—a normal ocean cruise.

When they come, at last, to the island, Sokurah EES conveniently disappears, taking Parisa with him, and leaving Sinbad and his men on their own. Ugh. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

But will Sinbad allow such small things as dragons, giant two-headed birds, cyclops and drunk sailors to bar his way to tiny true love? You obviously don’t know Sinbad very well. And…no. 

I should mention here that this is where we discover the reason Sokurah EES wanted to come home. It was to get the Genie’s lamp—with the genie—stored with the cyclops’ treasure.

And also: the scene where the cyclops is trying to eat Sinbad’s men by reaching into his treasure cave where they’re trapped? That is what gave me nightmares. Welcome to my world.

Soon Sinbad and his men have left a litter of dead bodies—see above vis-à-vis dragons, two-headed birds and cyclops—and found their way to the island’s very heart. And Sokurah’s very castle.  

Now all that stood between Sinbad and his lady love were three deceptively agile, sword-wielding skeletons. (Note: If they’re such good fighters now, how did they die in the first place? Hmmm?)

Of course, Sinbad wins against the Boney ones and confronts Sokurah EES, who turns out to be rubbish at anything resembling hand-to-hand combat. And of course, Parisa is restored, albeit by sword-tip encouragement.

Sinbad and Parisa flee, making a careful circuit around the dragon who guards the castle—because of course Sokurah would have a dragon guarding his castle—and reach the up-till-now deserted beach.

There they are reunited with the sober-and-still-alive half of Sinbad’s men. There they also confront the dragon, released and egged-on by a rather disgruntled Sokurah EES (some people you just can’t shake off).

There is a short battle between another cyclops who conveniently shows up, the dragon, and the genie (remember him?) in which the cyclops slays the dragon (and—oops—Sokurah ex-EES) and chases Sinbad.

Reduced to throwing rocks (albeit large ones) at the retreating Sinbad and crew, the cyclops then heads back to his part of the island to supposedly live in monocular happiness ever after.

Sinbad and Parisa and the remaining sailors set sail for home. But their surprises are not over. Unbeknownst to them, the genie has magic-ed (Diane word) the cyclops’ treasure to Sinbad’s cabin.

And don’t you love it when that happens?


Today’s post is a writing challenge. Each month one of the participating bloggers pick 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: 32

It was chosen by: Mimi!


Check out my fellow bloggers and see how they used the number!  


Links to the other Word Counters posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Messymimi’s Meanderings

Monday, January 17, 2022


We’d had our troubles in the past, but somehow we got through,

We'd gotten (fin'lly) to the year of 2022,

And as the New Year dawned, we had resolve, yes, it is true,

And gladly parked ourselves there in the ‘resolution queue’.


Perhaps it was a vow to lose the weight once and for all,

Get organized, learn something new, save more, spend less, stand tall,

Quit smoking, spend more time with family, both large and small,

Travel more and read more, don’t just live life at a crawl.


Yes, one or more of all these vows, we made while toasting drinks,

To (with the New Year coming on), renew ourselves, one thinks,

But then the days go hurtling past, much quicker than a wink,

And ‘life’ and problems take control ‘fore you can even blink!


Then January seventeenth is somehow there once more,

And, sadly, things look much the same as all the years before,

Your resolutions made so firmly had become a chore,

You’d skipped a day, then two or three, then fin’lly closed the door.


Please don’t think that those New Year’s vows were more than you could chew,

Allowing thoughts of ‘failure’ to creep in and make you blue,

And don’t be hard upon yourself, just look at what you do,

Achieving in a week what took past kin a month or two!


Those resolutions that you made weren’t signed or iron clad,

But mere suggestions you’d considered, be you lass or lad,

So here is my idea that will never make you sad…

Resolve to live each day in such a way that makes you glad!

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, we're back (or maybe front),
For OPPOSITES, we're on the hunt!

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!)...
Ditch Your New Year's Resolutions (January 17) Today!

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)

Telephone (or Say Hello Day) (March 7) 

Genius Day (March 14) 
Celebrating Poetry (March 21) 
Respect Your Cat Day (March 28) (Richard II's 1384 edict forbidding eating them.)
Imperfection (April 4)

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?