Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Saturday, April 2, 2022

The Power of Positivity

There were tears.

Cousins had been playing happily for some time.
They had ranged through the house: upstairs arranging the detailed and extensive Santa’s village; the basement with its vintage western village, playhouse, castle, train and Barbie dolls; the spare room and its Minecraft game.
The hours had passed peacefully as the parents visited.
Then, the tears.
Parent (and grandparent) ears perked up.
Said tears couldn’t be too serious. They were moving—coming up the stairs.
Granddaughter #6 appeared, cradling something. Her face the epitome of woe.
“Gramma?!” she wailed. “It’s broken!”
“What, Sweetheart?”
“This!”
‘This’ proved to be a small, pink bunny, approximately four inches high, made of super-stretchy silicone.
Designed to be overextended and available at the local dollar store four-for-a-dollar.
With all the toys they had at their disposal, the one she was crying over was this inexpensive little bit of—let’s face it—trash?
She handed it to me. “See? The foot broke off!”
It had indeed. Snapped off cleanly, leaving the stump of a leg.
“Were the kids too rough?” I asked, in my sympathetic ‘Gramma’ voice.
“No. I did it myself. I stretched it too ha-ard!” The last word came out as a wail.
“Well, I’m sorry, Sweetheart, but this can’t be fixed.” I handed it back. “You will have to play a bit more carefully.”
Yeah. No real solutions here. I prepared myself for the protest.
She looked down at the poor maimed little toy and sniffed. Then she brightened. “Hey! Now it’s a pirate!” She spun around and started back toward the stairs. “Arrrr—me hearties!” she said as she started down.
Turning stretchy bunnies into—pirates.
It’s true. The power of positive thinking can do anything.

Friday, April 1, 2022

97

It's my Dad's 97th birthday today! I do hope they celebrate in heaven.
Here is a memory from his tenth birthday . . .

Grandpa Stringam and his seven sons. Dad is the little guy in the front.
My Grandma Stringam had a great sense of humour.
It didn’t emerge often.
But when it did . . .
It was my Dad’s 10th birthday.
Preparations had been ongoing in the family kitchen for most of the day and for Dad, forbidden the hallowed hall, the anticipation was palpable.
Finally, he was called in and settled in the place of honour at the family table.
The meal commenced.
Amid much laughter and badinage, it continued.
Finished.
And the much-anticipated cake was finally brought out.
It was one of Grandma Stringam’s triumphs. A great, tall, beautifully-frosted tower of perfection.
Grandma set it in front of Dad and, for the first time in his life, handed him the knife.
Ooh, the excitement! The responsibility! The trepidation . . .
Dad carefully poked the blade of the knife into the mound of frosting. Slid it down to the surface of the cake itself. Watched as the blade bit into the soft deliciousness.
And it was there that things came to a sudden, inexplicable halt.
Literally.
The knife simply wouldn’t go any further.
It  . . . stopped.
Dad pushed a bit harder. No progress.
Cakes were harder to cut than he had anticipated. He exerted all the pressure of his ten-year-old arm.
Nothing.
His mother, standing beside him, said, “Maybe you need to try another knife.” She duly handed him a long knife with a serrated edge.
Dad set the first one down and reached for the second.
Tentatively, he poked the blade through the frosting and into the cake. Again the knife stopped just past the surface.
This time, though, as he sawed the blade back toward himself, something unexpected came with it.
A tiny strand of something white and . . . fluffy.
Dad reached for it. Rolled it between his fingers.
Cotton. 
He frowned. What was cotton doing in his cake?
He sawed the blade once more. More cotton.
He glanced suspiciously at his mother.
Who was grinning hugely.
Oh.
Grandma had baked his perfect cake, then cut the top off, hollowed it out and filled it with cotton. Carefully reassembling it, she had frosted it and set it before her brand-new ten-year-old.
Now, laughing heartily, she went back into the kitchen and returned with the inside. Just as carefully frosted and decorated.
Fortunately, this one cut – and ate – easily.
Ten-year-old birthdays.
So exciting. So memorable.
For so many reasons . . .
P.S. Happy Birthday, Daddy! I love you! And I miss you!

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Early Spell-Checker


Speller extraordinaire
Speller less extraordinaire
















Our second son is, in many ways, like his father.
It's a good thing.
One of the most notable is his ability to spell.
Anything. Any time.
It's a gift.
I should mention, here, that I don't have this gift.
Enough said . . .
It was the early 80's. My brother, Blair, was working on his Bachelor's degree in Engineering.
We had a computer.
Which he visited.
Often.
Our computer was in our eight-year-old second son, Erik's room.
Blair would work there by the light of a single lamp. We would hear the clicking of the keys late into the night.
On this occasion, Erik was supposed to be sleeping.
He wasn't.
Occasionally, the keyboard sounds would stop and I would hear the brief sound of voices.
Then the clicking would resume.
Finally, Erik came out of the room, needing a drink of water.
I was tidying the kitchen.
He moved close to me.
"Mom," he whispered. "Uncle Blair can't spell."
Ah. The occasional sound of voices was explained. Blair was consulting with his spell-checker.
It must have worked because he went on to achieve a doctorate in Engineering.
Okay, I admit that today's sophisticated spell-checker programs are probably more efficient and more easily accessible.
And don't need their sleep.
But none of those programs have personality. And certainly aren't as cute.
Yep. Progress isn't always progress.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Waiting...

March goes. A wave good-bye, she earns, 
And April comes, and hope returns
That soon we'll see some warmth and sun
And know that springtime has begun.
When colour will return anew,
And leaves come back and flowers poke through.
The grass turn green. The song of bird
Throughout the warming air be heard.
When soft and pristine breezes blow,
And places, then, to see. And go.
The doors and windows, closed so long,
Are opened wide to catch Spring's song . . .
It's here, you know, that airy Spring,
When bells ring out and songbirds sing,
There's warmth and joy and sunlight's gleam
And spring has sprung--cause I can dream.
Sigh.

Ready to set sail . . .


Someday . . .
P.S. According to my son, Erik, these are the seasons of Canada:
- Winter
- Fool’s Spring
- Second Winter
- False Spring
- Third Winter
- Spring?
- Thought It Was Spring, But It Was Winter Again
- Muck
- Spring
- Summer (1 week, while you’re at work)
- Mosquitoes And Potholes.  Also Wasps
- Fall
- Winter?
- We’re Damned Lucky That Fall Has Lasted This Long
- Winter

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Swim Champ

Front to back: George, Me, Chris, Jerry, Dad and Blair.
Look closely. Can you pick out the intrepid swimmer?
I had never taken swimming lessons.
We simply lived too far from the city (Lethbridge) for it to be a priority. Or even possible.
But I loved to swim.
And, with the river in such close proximity, did it a lot.
In the summer.
In winter, for obvious reasons, we were pretty much shut out.
Then, someone of great intelligence from the town came up with a fantastic idea.
Why not hire a schoolbus and cart a load of kids to Lethbridge once a week?
It was genius!
Swimming lessons had become a reality.
I was going!
The bus ride was a treat. I wasn't confined to my usual fourth row back and Kathy had a portable record-player, which she kept going the entire trip.
Do you have any idea how many times you can listen to the Surfaris 'Wipe-Out' in a fifty-mile bus ride? Answer: A few.
The bus deposited us safely in front of the Civic Center and we scrambled madly for the door and the change rooms, then poured out into the main pool room.
We were ready.
The teachers began to sort us into groups, using a list of highly-specialized criteria.
How old are you? Are you afraid of the water? Have you ever taken swimming lessons before? What colour is your swimsuit?
Do you like boys?
Finally they had us, more or less, categorized.
I had never taken swimming lessons, so I was inserted into the beginners class.
“Okay, kids. See if you can put your face into the water.”
Woohoo! Compliance! I took off like a seal.
“Okay. You! Little girl in the blue swimsuit!” Sigh. “Would someone please fish her out?”
Have I mentioned that I like water?
“Are you sure you've never had lessons?”
Head shake.
“Well, I'm moving you up to the next level.”
Okay.
And so it went.
By the time we were finished our one-hour lesson, I had been . . . promoted . . . seven times.
It must have been some sort of record, to go from the beginner level to the 'Junior Lifeguard' level.
In one lesson.
Who could have known that all my flailing and thrashing around like a demented fish had actually been getting me somewhere.
Or that, in the still water of a pool, with no current to fight, I could actually make headway.
Really fast headway.
Jerry (the only member of my family who could fight the river's current and win), eat your heart out.
Because miracles do happen.
I was suddenly the soggy and triumphant queen of my little, watery world.
It didn't happen often.
But it was a very good feeling.

Monday, March 28, 2022

No Cat Stew



I love cats, you know I do,

They’re smart. And entertaining, too,

Sometimes, they just don’t think things through,

Or fail when trying to construe,

But give you something fun to view…

To drapes and screens, they stick like glue,

Have inconvenient timing, true,

Mess up the portrait you just drew,

Or bid your brand new rug adieu,

Your hugs and kisses they eschew,

Until the times when they want to,

Beneath your window, half-past two,

Loving, fighting right on cue,

Until you’d like to throw a shoe,

And think you’d rather have a gnu,

But I think you would be so blue,

If you didn’t have your ‘baby boo’,

You’d have to find a nice way to

Be entertained by something new,

So, here’s to cats, I’ve known a few,

I love their ways and their miscues,

Love watching antics on ‘YouTube’,

But one more thing and then I’m through…

Love most that they belong to you!

P.S....

An edict from King Richard 2,

Forbade the eating of your Mew,

So when your setting down to chew...

Don't add 'puddy tat' to your stew!

Photo Credit: Karen of bakinginatornado.com
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 (With great affection) 
Be discussing IMPERFECTION!

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!)...

Respect Your Cat Day (March 28) (Richard II's 1384 edict forbidding eating them.) Today!
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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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 Amazon.com and .ca!

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Now available at Amazon.com and .ca and Chapters.ca and other fine bookstores.

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New Tween Novel!

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The newest in my Christmas Series

SnowMan

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A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.

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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

Essence

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Essence: A Second Dose

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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 Smashwords.com

The Babysitter

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Melissa

Melissa
Haunted by her past, Melissa must carve a future. Without Cain.

Devon

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Following tragedy, Devon retreats to the solitude of the prairie. Until a girl is dropped in his lap.

Pearl, Why You Little...

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Everyone should spend a little time with Pearl!

The Marketing Mentress

The Marketing Mentress
Building solid relationships with podcast and LinkedIn marketing

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My Big Brother's Stories

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Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
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Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

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My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

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