Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, March 25, 2022


We all have things we like a lot,

From shoes to pens, salt shakers. Pots,

Those things for which we’ve great affections,

Will often end up in collections.


Our DIL has got a spot

For hippos. Them, she loves a lot!

My aunt saved shakers: pepper, salt,

There, on display, she would exalt.


And Husby gathers statues, true,

Each carved of wood—of wooden hue,

He also has a game of chess,

From every place we’ve been, I’d guess.


My dad had clocks: handmade and fine,

My mom had recipes divine,

My sister: beaus; my girlfriend: clothes,

A neighbour: finest books of prose.


One thing I’ll point out—yes, I must,

Is this: collections gather dust,

Now, if you love them, you don’t mind,

But that’s just not how I’m designed!


So my collection’s not like theirs,

No using dusters fine as hairs,

No need to re-arrange and shift,

No rejects to retire, re-gift.

I think that mine’s the best of all,

With figures short and figures tall,

Of diff’rent colours, weights. (And lids…)

The things that I love most—my kids!


Part of my collection...

Each month Karen's awesome little group of poets chooses a theme...
Then heads to our computers to rhyme!
This month’s theme: Collections
Treat yourself and see what the others have done!

BakingIn A Tornado


Thursday, March 24, 2022


This is a confession.
Yeah. It was me.
Perhaps an explanation...
Mom had a pair of toenail clippers.
Those suckers could cut through anything.
Well almost anything.
They had sat atop her dresser in a special spot for all of my life.
I had watched Mom use them on numerous occasions. Seated on a chair, one ankle cross over the other knee for convenience and leverage.
Always with a garbage pail beneath in case of accidental drop-age/escape-age.
Followed by the steady sound of clip-age.
Then mom would get to her feet, restore the garbage to its rightful corner, and return those great, heavy clippers back to their place.
Until next time.
And there they sat.
Now, I had borrowed these clippers from time to time.
Usually when I had misplaced my own.
Because mine didn't have a place of honour on my dresser.
Or anywhere, for that matter . . .
Now, that day:
Erm...I was somewhere far out in the pasture! Doing the things I was supposed to be doing!
Not in my parents room snooping around for Christmas presents!
Or at least that's the story I always told my mom.
And it wasn't me who took a straight pin from the pincushion which also resided atop Mom's dresser and tried to clip it with her clippers.
Just to see what would happen.
Resulting in a gap in the very center of the smooth edge of said clippers.
Because--just FYI--in a contest between straight pins and clippers, straight pins win.
But now at long last, I'm changing my story.
To the truth.
A little late, but there you are.
I'm telling you this so you don't have to watch your mom, to the end of her days, clip her toenails with a defective set of clippers.
Sorry, Mom!

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Marked Green

It came out of the blue.
Or green, as you will soon see . . .
Mommy was working at her desk in her office.
Little Girl (hereinafter known as LG) was playing at her little craft table in the next room.
Now, I should probably mention, here, that LG was (and still is) NOT one of those children who got into things. Nope. She was/is a 'rules' sort of person. She liked to know them.
And, on occasion, reinforce them—especially to any other children in the vicinity.
Also, as an only child, she entertained herself with admirable skill.
Sooo . . . back to my story.
Mommy: Desk.
LG: Standing in the doorway.
"What is it?"
Okay, now she had mommy's attention. "Mommy, this happened."
Mommy turned around.
LG was holding up her left hand.
Which has been covered, wrist to fingertips, in green marker.
"LG (not her real name) what did you do?!"
"I'm sorry. It just happened."
"Your entire hand got coloured in green marker."
"Ummm . . . yeah."
"How did it happen?"
"I did it."
A shrug. "I just . . . wanted to."
"You wanted to colour your entire hand."
Mommy was getting a little lost. "But . . . why?"
Another shrug.
"What has Mommy said about drawing on yourself?"
"Not to do it."
"So . . . why did you do it?"
A third shrug.
"Let's go and wash, shall we. Then I think we'll have to put the markers away for a while so we can think about this."
And here's what we take away from this:
I’m sure you’ve seen people out in the world who do seemingly inexplicable things. Things that make you stare at them and think to yourself: Really? You're going to go with that? Did you even think about this at all?!
Those things?
Yeah, it's still inexplicable.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Spray Your Bears Away!

Hold your breath!
It was a hot summer afternoon.
And my Husby kept a small can of bear/pepper spray in his night table for home defence.
These two statements are connected.
Maybe I should explain . . .
In Edmonton, Alberta, we have beautiful summers. 
We wait all year for them.
And they are worth it.
For about three weeks of said summers, the thermometer actually reaches 'uncomfortable'.
Edmontonians head for the pools or hide in their cool, dim basements.
The latter is where our family was. Happily watching a movie. Minding our own business.
Okay, most of us.
Our middle son, sixteen-year-old Duff, was upstairs.
Raiding the kitchen.
Our second son, Erik was also upstairs.
In the front room working on a model.
Duff finished eating and started wandering around. We heard his footsteps go into our bedroom.
Then we heard the front door close as he headed outside.
Shortly afterwards, Erik, still hard at work on his model, started sneezing.
Finally, he came downstairs. “I don't know what kind of aftershave Duffy uses,” he gasped, “but I think I'm allergic!”
And then our youngest son started to sneeze.
I turned and stared at him.
Suddenly, I could smell...pepper.
Husby gasped. “My bear spray!” Looking at the rest of us, he bellowed, “Everybody out!”
Yes. Bellowed.
We held our breath and charged in a disorganized scramble for the stairs.
Once outside, we huddled in a group on the lawn sneezing and staring at the house.
“So what do we do now?” I asked.
Husby shrugged. “Open all of the doors and windows and let the place air out.”
“How long will that take?”
He shrugged again. Then bravely went back inside to do exactly that. “There – achoo! – I think – achoo! - that's got them – achoo! - for now,” he said, rejoining us.
We looked at each other. 
“Who wants to go up to the store for a doughnut?” Husby asked.
A chorus of positive responses.
Ten minutes later, we were wandering around in the grocery, munching fresh doughnuts.
I will state here that nothing can make bad experiences go away faster than fresh doughnuts.
Moving on . . .
After about an hour, Husby suggested that we head home.
“Is it safe?” I asked.
“We'll see.”
Once more, we were huddled on our front lawn.
Once more, he bravely approached the front door.
He moved inside.
More nothing.
He reappeared in the doorway. “I think it's all right.”
The rest of us cautiously joined him.
I could still smell pepper.
But it was no longer overpowering.
A thorough vacuuming and dusting soon eliminated it completely.
Later that evening, Duff told us what had happened. “I was looking through Dad's night table for some tweezers,” he said. “And I saw the can of bear spray. I picked it up and, out of curiosity, pressed the button.”
He grinned. “That's all I remember. I was blind, deaf and dumb for about five minutes. All I could think of was getting outside as quickly as possible.”
“You could have hollered or something!” Husby said.
“I couldn't do anything!” Duff said.
Please note: Bear/pepper spray is effective.
Really, really effective.

There is a codicil.
Several years later, we installed hardwood in the entire upper floor of our house.
As Husby was removing the carpet in our bedroom, I could suddenly smell of pepper.
“I smell pepper!” I observed brilliantly.
Husby stopped and sniffed. “I do, too,” he said. He looked at me. “Huh. Must still be left from Duff's pepper attack.”
“But that was six years ago.”
He shrugged. “Pepper obviously lasts.”
The final lesson here?
Bear/pepper spray is effective and lasts a long time. 
One application and bears and/or family members will stay away for years!
You can thank me later...

Monday, March 21, 2022

Two Little Butts

Today, for Poetry Monday,  we salute poetry!
The rhythm. The rhyme. The emotion.
At times, the silliness!
And what better way could there be to salute poetry than by...writing...poetry.
Here, then is my most popular poem from the past 12 years of blogging...

Our family was ‘raised on the stage’. And for a few wonderful years before Covid, I realized the dream of having my grandchildren follow in their parents’ footsteps.
This poem was written as we wrapped ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’ in 2017.

Their parents were all in the cast or backstage,
Their grandparents, too, with the play were engaged.
Two little girls in the large gallery,
Two last little sprigs on their family’s tree,
Had grown bored with the play they had seen from Day One.
That first day was great! The rest, not so fun.
They’d watched scenes through first blocking and all incarnations,
Knew all of the songs and heard all the Orations.
And while those in the room were still fixed on the show,
Running sound and effects. Lights above and below,
Two little girls weren’t attentive at all,
They wanted to run. They wanted to crawl.
They did not want to sit in their chairs quietly,
They wanted to dance, laugh and giggle. Times three.
But Grampa, just sitting there, manning the lights,
Had to keep ‘shushing’ his two little mites.
And then in an effort to give them a scare,
Vowed to tape their two little butts to their chairs.
Two little girls sat down quietly then,
But those silly old wiggles soon started again.
And then Grampa, still working the lighting board’s keys
Heard a sweet little voice, and it said, "Grampa, please—
We’ve done all that mom sent for we two to share,
Grampa, please, could you tape both our butts to the chair?"
Every day we learn something, and today, here is one:
When is a threat not a threat? When it’s fun!
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 promise won’t be flat,
Our topic is ‘Respect Your Cat’!

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!)...

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

Pets (April 11)

Juggling (April 18)

Brothers (April 25)

Babies (May 2)

Music (May 9)

Purple for Peace (May 16)

Turtles (May 23)

Memorial Day (May 30)

Yo-yo (June 6)
Roller Coaster (June 13)
World Refugee Day (June 20)
The Happy Birthday song (June 27)

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A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.


My novel, Carving Angels

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Read it! You know you want to!

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic

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What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

Join me on Maven

Connect with me on Maven


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Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
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