Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, February 25, 2022

Snacked Out

When I was young, my Mama tried to steer my snacking picks,

To things that grew on trees; or from the ground—cut into sticks,

She told me those snack choices would improve my health and life,

By building stronger bones and teeth, I’d dodge a lot of strife.

But I had other pre-fer-en-ces, tastier by far,

Just sit here for a moment and I’ll tell you what they are…

First, bubblegum, the kind that came in balls both smooth and rough,

And little bags of Lik-m-aid, I couldn’t get enough,

And little, waxy tubes of liquid, marvelous and sweet,

And Pixie Sticks. The purple ones. Now there’s a tasty treat!

A bag of popcorn, movie popped, a bottle of grape crush,

Or Macintosh’s toffee. Mmm. Now that’s a sugar rush,

But if I had to choose, my very favourite by far,

Was anything of chocolate—be it bits or in a bar,

Like Smarties, Mars or Coffee Crisp or all Three Musketeers,

Or anything with caramel (to which chocolate would adhere),

Almond Joy’s another big one; hey, let us just say,

Except for Big Turks, chocolate was welcome any day.

That brings us to the present. (And please know I’m strong and well),

To aged innards, all those sweets would ring out my death knell,

You have to know I have a little taste both now and then,

And every one serves as a little glimpse of ‘way back when’,

But snacking now? I’m choosing all those things my mother picked,

Like things that grow on trees or from the ground, cut into sticks.


Welcome to our Monthly Poetry Challenge!

This month’s theme is Snack Foods.

How did I do?

Got an appetite for more?

Go and visit my friends' blogs!

Baking In A Tornado: Treasured Treats                 


Thursday, February 24, 2022

Making An Ash of Oneself


My Husby built our family a picnic table.
It was the scene of many, many family meals and celebrations.
And occasionally the scene of . . . adventures.
Let me explain . . .
First, a little background.
Husby built a little home for us.
Okay. Originally, it was built as a dog kennel.
Then converted to a chicken coop.
Then we cleaned it up, insulated and paneled the interior.
Put down new flooring.
Now it was a house.
We moved our family in.
Snug and cozy.
It was heated with a wood stove.
That is an important point.
But I am getting ahead of myself . . .
When I was expecting our fourth child, we decided that we needed more than 300 square feet to live in.
Husby built a basement and we moved our little house onto it.
Wow! Double the space!
We could now have such luxuries as . . . bedrooms!
A bathroom!
But still heated with a wood stove.
Now comes the part where the picnic table and the wood stove come together.
It was winter.
Not much call for meals outdoors when the temperature is hovering around minus 20.
The table had been shoved close to the house.
One day, just as we were preparing to head into town, Husby decided to clean out the little well-used stove.
He carefully collected the ashes into a paper sack and carried them outside to put in the ashcan.
Yes, we really had an ashcan.
Don't ask.
Moving on . . .
One of the kids had a minor emergency just as Husby reached the front door.
He set his bag of 'mostly dead' ashes on the picnic table and scrambled to take care of the problem.
Then we packed up and left.
The bag of ashes sat, forgotten, in the center of the picnic table.
I should explain, here, that the wind always blows in Southern Alberta.
This is important . . .
We were gone for some hours.
The wind blew on the little paper sack full of ashes.
And finally, ignited some of them.
They consumed the bag.
Then started on the nearest combustible object.
You guessed it.
Our picnic table.
Pushed up tight against the house.
When we returned from town, my Husby stopped the car and turned it off,
Then hollered something unintelligible and ran for the house.
I was busy unbuckling children and pulling the baby out of her car seat.
I turned around just as Husby appeared with a bucket of water.
Which he threw on the picnic table.
It was then that I noticed the plume of smoke.
And heard the hissing of unhappy flames meeting . . . something extinguishing.
I moved closer.
Husby stood, surveying our picnic table.
Or, through the smoke, what was left of our picnic table.
An expression of relief and chagrin on his face.
“What on earth happened?” Me.
“I think I must have left the bag of ashes on the table.” He.
“Huh.” Me.
I herded the kids into the house while Husby poured more water on the picnic table.
Later, we took stock.
The table, miraculously, was mostly intact.
The bag of ashes had burned a large (12”) hole in the very centre.
The rest of it was still usable.
The miraculous part was the fact that the fire had confined itself to the centre of the table.
With the brisk wind, it could easily have burned the entire thing.
Not to mention our house.
Miracles, indeed.

There is a codicil.
My brother, Jerry, and his family were over to our little house for dinner.
As they were leaving, Jerry spotted the hole in the middle of our picnic table.
He laughed, sat down and said, “This porridge is too hot! said Papa Bear.”
Miracles aside, it was pretty funny.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022


 From 2015...

Admit it. He's cute!

I have birds. 
Zebra finches, to be exact. They are easy to take care of, make cute little-bird sounds and are infinitely entertaining to watch.
I love them. It is a love affair that has been going on since 1997.
It all started innocently enough. I was directing a play that required caged birds as part of the premise. A local bird shop loaned us a canary, two doves and a zebra finch.
 A cute little finch with a smart polka-dot waistcoat, red cheeks and a black and white striped tail.
During the days, not thinking it wise to leave our little rent-a-birds at the theatre, I brought them home with me.
One day, while I was in the other room, I could hear a cheerful little song. Rising and falling notes that sounded almost as though someone were swinging on a tiny, rusty gate. (A tiny, rusty, musical gate.)
I thought it was the canary, noted for their singing.
Entranced by the sound (and yes, I meant to use the word 'entranced'), I hurried into the room, and stopped beside the canary cage.
The little yellow bird turned and looked at me.
And the little notes kept on.
Could canaries still sing if their beaks were closed?
My knowledge of birds was truly woeful.
I moved to the next cage. Two sweet doves blinked at me sleepily.
The third cage.
And my little maestro was revealed. Singing his little heart out.
My heart was captured.
He was my new - 2 ounce - Jose Carreras.
Later, onstage, when all the other birds were frozen with fear as the spotlights of the theatre shone on them, I heard that same little song.
Miraculously, with people spouting lines and charging back and forth across the stage, my little finch still found the courage to sing.
That was it. I couldn't part with him.
Fortunately, my husband agreed and, at the end of the play, when the other birds were returned to their shop, Peter stayed with me. (Peter finch. Has a sort of ring, don't you think?)
Soon after that, I decided that my little Peter needed a little mate.
And so Polly, she of the beautiful white feathers and similarly striped tail, joined our household.
She and Peter immediately set up housekeeping and a few weeks later, Piggy popped out of the nest. Followed shortly after that by Pepper, Poppy and . . . Percival? Pat? Plethora? Preamble? Pancreas? (I'm ashamed to say I've forgotten his name. I do know it started with a 'P'.)
They quickly outgrew the cage that had seemed so large only a short time ago.
My husband made them a new cage. A large cage in the shape of a grain elevator.
And my birds became a permanent part of our lives.
They are constantly busy. Constantly doing 'birdy' things.
Constantly entertaining.
One can almost hear the conversations as they alternately groom each other, or chase one another madly around the cage.
In all the years of raising them, I have only been able to touch them when they first leave the nest and haven't quite gotten the knack of flying. Even then, I can only touch them for an instant.
I quickly pick them up, band their legs and let them go to become another cute, busy, easily-panicked member of my little finch society.
It's the one thing I wish I could change.
Well, that and the mess of torn newspaper and scattered feathers and seeds that constantly litter the floor beneath and around their cage.
I've tried taking them to task for this, using the same forceful, penetrating words as those I used in raising my children . . . you little monkeys! Clean up this mess!
They never listen.
Wait. Neither did my children! Sigh.
My private elevator.
Present day...
And now we come to it.
Yesterday, 2 days shy of his fifteenth birthday, my last finch, Whitney, flew home. He's had a rough last six months. He couldn't fly any longer, so I had to put his feed and water on the floor. But he's been happily hopping-and still singing-so all was well.
Last picture of Whitney
I don't have the heart to start again. So I'm just ending this chapter with these words: Thank you, my little featherheads. I love you so much!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Moose(t) Terrified

See? Scary!

Gramma Berg's house had a sunroom.

A wonderful spot.
All windows.
And one permanent tenant.
The sunroom was wonderful.
The tenant wasn't. At least to a very small girl.
It was large.
Dark brown.
With great, glassy eyes, a huge nose, a wooly beard.
And large ears.
Oh, yes, and an enormous pair of antlers.
Yes, I admit it - it wasn't your normal tenant.
It was a moose.
The quite obvious fact that it wasn't alive made no difference to its terror factor.
I was certain that, if I went into that room, the great creature would blink its eyes and 'get me'.
Okay, obviously I didn't think that through. The creature possessed no visible limbs, and for all of my life, had resided in the same place on the wall.
Just exactly how it was supposed to 'get' me, we'll never know.
But the truth remains, it terrified me.
And knowing this, my cousins made great sport of daring me to go into the sunroom.
Something which inevitably sent me screaming to some moose-less part of the house.
I loved Gramma’s house.
The moose and I tolerated each other.
So long as he kept his place, and I could see that place from a distance, we got along fine.
Kinda like a large spider.
But that is another story.
After Gramma passed, the moose was donated and hung where it could scare scores of other people.
Moving forward fifty years . . .
Several members of my family were holidaying in Banff, Alberta.
We spent a week scrambling about the mountains and wandering through the townsite.
We took the kids to see the 'stuffed animal place'.
Or Banff Museum, as it is officially named.
It houses hundreds of perfectly preserved birds and animals native to the Banff area.
Many of which were present when the museum opened.
In 1903.
On the second floor, it is quite possible to get up close and almost personal with the head of Sir Donald.
A bison.
Several of us were standing, looking at the great animal.
My six-year-old granddaughter peeked out from behind me.
“He scares me,” she whispered, shivering.
“But he's dead,” I said. “He can't hurt you. There’s nothing to be scared of.”
“He's scary,” she maintained.
Quite suddenly, I remembered Gramma's moose. And trembling in fear as my cousins dared me to go into his sunroom.
Yeah. It pretty much looks as though neither I (nor Sir Donald in point of fact) had a leg to stand on . . .

Monday, February 21, 2022

Four-Footed Prognosticators

Ha! I KNEW it was going to snow!
“Look to the cows,” said Dad, the wise,
“And you will come to realize,
That by their actions, you can tell,
The weather patterns, fair or fell.”

And so I watched, and so I saw
That he was right, my smart ol' Pa.
And he knew what he talked about,
If you're predicting rain. Or drought.

The cows, they crowd together tight
And you know cold will be the night.
They seek the shed and shelter warm
If rain or snow will be the norm.

Then turn their tail and duck their head,
When wind is shrieking round the shed.
But stand out grazing peacefully,
If sun and warmth are meant to be.

But just today, I got a scare,
From cows around me everywhere,
For when I stepped outside my door
And glanced towards the purple moor . . .

(Oops, Alberta's where I live, you see,
And so I meant the wide prairie.)
My cows weren't where they're s'posed to be,
They sat on branches. In the trees.

So now I have to figure out,
What they’re predicting hereabouts.

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 will plot and scheme,
When DNA will be our theme.

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!)...

Predictions (February 21) Today!

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)

Sunday, February 20, 2022

BBB and Me!

 I'm so excited when it's my turn to host!

Yes, it's BBB (Best of Boomer Bloggers) time once again. That time when I get to show off my friends...and me!

First, Carol of  Carol A. Cassara Writer.

Like most of us at this age, Carol Cassara has been dealing with grief and loss. And even though she has developed helpful tools to help people manage through, she's no stranger to the pain, as she explains in her post, Coping with Grief and Loss

Next, Jennifer Koshak at Unfold and Begin

Valentine's day has come and gone but not the need to focus on ourselves. Jennifer, of Unfold and Begin, wonders if Do you treat yourself with the same importance ad others, especially now with our aging bodies. Join her in learning how to loveourselves during the aging process.

 And Laurie of Laurie Stone Writes

Laurie Stone tried not gazing into the seductive squares of Wordle, she really did. She knew she shouldn’t look when she saw people’s scores popping up all over social media. “Keep scrolling,” she told herself. “You already have enough games in your life.” But one day she was weak and succumbed. Before she knew it, Wordle had drawn her in like cotton candy at the summer fair. Here are three things that maybe pull us all in…

Then, Rebecca Forstadt-Olkowski of Babyboomster 

Has some of the spark in your relationship lost its spark? Many people over 50 are enjoying a platonic rather than a romantic relationship with a partner for various reasons. There are benefits and drawbacks to it depending on what makes you happy. Rebecca Olkowski, with, writes about it in her latest post.

And, Rita Robison of Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

Keep wearing a mask, advises Rita R. Robison, consumer and personal finance journalist. Since Dec. 1, when health officials announced the first omicron case in the United States, the share of Americans who have been killed by the coronavirus is at least 63 percent higher than in any other of the large, wealthy nations.  

Then, Tom Sighting at Sightings Over Sixty

Older people are supposed to be wise, says Tom at Sightings Over Sixty. In We Are Old But Are We Wise? he tries to figure out what it means to be wise. We know it probably doesn't involve keeping up with the latest fads and trends, or social media sites. So what is it the wise person knows that the rest of us don't, especially in these changing turbulent times? 

Followed by Meryl Baer of Beach Boomer Bulletin

There are days in our lives that make an individual realize they are aging. Meryl Baer of Beach Boomer Bulletin experienced such an episode this week. She recounts the event in this week’s post that made her face the fact that she is now, officially, an old lady.

And finally, ME!

No one has to be told that the world remains in turmoil. In the past weeks, even Canada, known generally as a peacekeeping country, has taken center stage. All of this has gotten Diane thinking about the quiet heroes in our lives. The ones who usually DON'T make the headlines...

And that's a wrap!

A huge thank you to all my amazing friends!

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?