Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, April 15, 2022

Anxiously Engaged

 It was a quiet morning.

I know you have a hard time believing that, but it’s true. Maybe the statement will carry more merit if I confess that Sally and Mort have been gone since breakfast.

Yeah, I thought so.

Mom has been notably absent as well. Uncle Pete showed up at the crack of dawn and took her off on some adventure or other.

I don’t really worry about them, though. I mean, how much trouble can a mid-forties mother and her ‘recently-returned from Iraq’ beau get into.

Don’t answer that.

I’m beginning to think Peter and I are the only two sane people in this scenario.


Peter was over and had graciously accompanied me on my errands: stopping at the bank, dropping off my donations at the Big Brothers, Big Sisters call center, discussing schedule adherence with the neighbourhood boys who are selectively and collectively in charge of walking our dog, and just generally having a ‘normal’ day.

Okay, we had to sort out a Scary Gary/brother/Mrs. Michaelson dispute when the former decided to set off firecrackers--something that would have been a fairly common-place occurrence if not for the fact that said crackers (Every. Single. One.) headed with unerring accuracy into Mrs. Michaelson’s prize-winning tulips.

Peter finally resorted to taking charge of the situation and marched both of the Townsend boys—and the rest of their firecrackers—to their mother, Mary.

I, meanwhile, tried to sooth Mrs. Michaelson’s ruffled feathers.

And help her patch up her tulip bed.

Anyways, errands run, neighbourhood sorted out, Peter and I had flopped down on the grass in the front yard. Just soaking up the sunshine.

We both heard it at the same time.

A siren.

I looked to the left. Yep. There it was. And getting closer. I sighed and looked at Peter.

He was gazing off to the right. He looked at me, his mouth opened to make a comment.

Then he frowned and tipped his head.

I did the same. Wait. Siren-s?

From both directions?


Mort’s rather disreputable Volvo raced in from the right and barely made the turn into our driveway.

From the left, Uncle Pete’s car did the same, pulling in tight behind Mort.

Peter and I rose slowly to our feet.

Just FYI, it’s a good thing to always meet Sally’s shenanigans whilst on one’s feet…

As the passengers hurriedly disembarked, a police car, lights flashing and siren blazing blew in from the right and pulled to the curb out front.

Then another (ditto for lights and siren) from the left.

Mort and Sally and Mom and Uncle Pete raced toward Peter and I.

“We’re engaged!” they all said together.

Oh, my… 

Today’s post is a writing challenge. Participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post—all words to be used at least once. All the posts are unique as each writer has received their own set of words. And here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words: bank ~ call center ~ schedule adherence ~ dog ~ dispute

Were given to me, via Karen, from my friend, Sarah at

Now go and see what words the others got—and how they used them!

Baking In A Tornado

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver


Part-time Working Hockey Mom

What TF Sarah


Thursday, April 14, 2022

Health Matters


Bonk Eye.

Recently, I've noticed something.

That, in itself, is remarkable.
Moving on . . .
I work with a group of elderly people.
Some of them like nothing better than talking about their health.
Or lack thereof.
I've been treated to stories of gallbladders.
Mysterious lumps.
And a plethora of aches and pains.
I cluck sympathetically.
Knowing that each of these ailments is now starting to visit me.
But what is truly remarkable is the fact that the very young people I also associate with, ie. my grandchildren, are equally interested in their health.
Scrapes, bruises and cuts are examined minutely and then displayed, accompanied by a lurid tale of woe.
Sometimes, a tiny wound might go undetected for several days. Have scabbed over and be well on its way to healing. But once discovered, it must be fussed over and bandaged and kissed.
Several times.
My two-year-old granddaughter had fallen and bumped her head.
Just above her eye.
After the initial tears and hysteria, she had examined her wound in the mirror.
There was a distinct bruise.
“Mom!” she said loudly. “Bonk eye!”
Her mother agreed that, yes, she had 'bonked' her eye.
But that wasn't enough.
She had to tell everyone in the room.
Several times.
Later, at dinner, she mentioned it again.
Several more times.
Her uncle Tristan, having been at an activity, was late to dinner.
He slid into his chair and started dishing out food.
Here was someone new to tell.
“Unca Tristan!” she said, “Bonk eye!”
Tristan looked at her. “Yes, I see that you bonked your eye,” he said. He started eating.
“Unca Tristan, look! Bonk eye!”
“Yes,” he said.
“Bonk eye, Unca Tristan!”
She took a couple of bites of food. Then, “Unca Tristan!”
“I know,” he broke in, rather wearily.
“Bonk eye!”
This went on through the remainder of the meal.
And every time we saw her for the next couple of weeks.
Long after the slight bruise had healed.
And until the next injury pushed it off the front page.
Then it was, “Unca Tristan! Look!”
He looked at me. “On, man. Are we going to have another chorus of 'bonk-eye'?” 
I laughed.
Health issues.
Most important at each end of the age scale.
Differing only in seriousness.
Not in concern.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The Original Field Trip

Living on a great Alberta cattle ranch has its ups and downs.
Maybe I should explain . . .
In Alberta, cattle are generally raised in one of two locations. 
In a feedlot. This is for the ‘feeder’ cattle. Those animals one to two years old without offspring. 
The upside of a feedlot operation is that when you have to check on your animals, you just walk out into the corral and . . . look. The downside is it’s rather smelly.
But the cattle are happy and healthy with regular feedings and good friends to stand around with, so all is well.
The other location most frequently used is the field. Now the field, as suggested by its name, is out . . . in the field. So . . . not close to the house.
Checking the cattle every day requires a good horse and rider. (ie. me and/or Chico or Bluey or Zee or Zephyr or Fancy or Peanuts or Pinto or Rebel or Lady or Topper or . . .)
Or Dad in the family car. (ie. yikes)
Now, for many fields, the second option wouldn’t be a problem. Those fields are flat. (Saskatchewan flat. Google it…)
In our part of Alberta, the fields aren’t.
Flat, that is.
Maneuvering around them on a horse is simplicity in itself.
In a car? Less so.
And still, Dad did it. 
A suggestion of a Sunday drive inevitably ended up in one field or another, ‘just to have a look’.
I, in the back seat would white-knuckle the entire trip as the car went straight up. 
Or straight down. 
Or, the very worst. Straight sideways.
We kids would roll around in the back seat like dried peas (seatbelts were only something they used at Cape Canaveral).
Fortunately, the speeds were kept to a minimum as we crawled about the field. 
But that allowed for me to imagine tipping over backwards. Or forwards. Or sideways. 
In slow-motion.
Believe me, I would rather have been crawling.
Quite literally.
The smell of sage in my nostrils. The feel of the stiff, prairie grass under my palms. The threat of some messy accident far, far away in the ‘never-going-to-happen’ realm.
One good thing came of our little trips through the fields.
I mastered the art of breathing only in short gasps.
P.S. I get sick on boats. Something about the up-ing and down-ing and sideways-ing. Did I actually learn all about seasickness while living in the middle of the landlocked Alberta prairie?

Tuesday, April 12, 2022


Another 'Daddy' Story.
In rhyme, because I love it!

It's all true!
“Great Grampa,” said the strong young chap,
You’ve lived a very long lifetime,
Please share with me just what to do,
To stay forever in my prime.”

The aged cowboy tipped his hat 
And gave the boy a level look,
“Don’t git your lariat in a knot. There
Ain’t no script and no guidebook.

But one thing I kin tell you, sure,
(Though first, the thought may not appeal!)
It has to do with eatin’, Son,
Each mornin’, gunpowder on your meal.”

The boy just nodded. That, he’d try.
Then every day, without debate,
He’d sprinkle just a pinch or so
Of sulfur, charcoal, and nitrate.

Yep. Every morn on his oatmeal.
It worked! He saw a hundred three,
And when he died, at that great age,
He left a large posterity.

He left his children. (Fourteen!) Yep.
And grandkids? Thirty. It is true.
And great-grands, forty-five of them.
And great-greats? five and twenty. Whew!

And there’s one more thing he left behind,
I’ll mention it and then I’ll quit.
The handsome crematorium?
Now a twelve-foot, smoking pit.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Through Their Eyes

This is a poem from a year ago.
I think it suits as well now as it did then! ;)
My sweet Pandy-girl. Who saves me every day.

Do you ever wonder what fur babies think?

When they’re around us, do they reckon we stink?

If we’re standing there, naked, and they stop and stare,

Are they wondering how we stay warm with no hair?

And rolling in things that we people condemn,

Do they snigger and smile cause there’s more just for them?

When we throw a ball for them, day after day,

Do they shake their heads wond’ring how it gets away?

When we go for a walk, are they just helping out,

Making sure that we’re healthy while moving about?

And watching us eat with those big, solemn eyes,

Do they simply ensure that no problems arise?

When we stare at a screen for the hours on end,

Are they thinking, “You’re rotting your brain, my dear friend!”

When they poke with the nose or lay down on the keys,

Are they saying that we need a break? (If you please!)

And when they refuse to respond when we call,

Merely pointing out what we would do, is banal?

Do they spend their lives trying to make us behave?

With the hope that so doing will Master’s life save?

Extending their lives with our caring and fuss…

Have you thought that they’re doing the same thing to us?

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?

If Juggling turns your crank a bit,
Come back next week, it’ll be a hit!

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!)...

Pets (April 11) Today!

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)

Sunday, April 10, 2022

My BFFs of the BBBs

Once again, It's my turn to host the Best of Boomer Bloggers! This week, this amazing group of writers takes us through the garden of delights that is customer service, things they wished they had said, April creativity, retail company scorecards, a lobster supper, Griffith Park, the Grammys, and imperfections.
And the best part? I get to hang out with them!
So go ahead. Give my BFFs of the BBBs a read!

Let's start with Carol Cassara...
Over on Carol Cassara's blog, she's talking about the decline in customer service. You have probably asked the same question she does in her post, How DidCustomer-centric Behavior Become Obsolete?

Then Laurie Stone...
Have you ever wanted to tell someone something, but the words never came? Maybe you were embarrassed or got busy, but the moment didn’t arrive. And then it was too late. And you have regrets. This happened to Laurie Stone. Here are 6 things she wishes she had told Joyce, her mother-in-law.

There's a new creativity challenge for April.  Jennifer, of Unfold and Begins, continues the fun with a focus on having fun with creativity. All of the creativity prompts this month focus on fun and play. But let's not forget about having fun withcreative self-care as well.

Consumers can use scorecards showing which retail and clothing companies are doing the best job eliminating PFAS – “forever chemicals” that contaminate air, water, and consumer products – from clothing. The scorecards were developed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Fashion FWD, and the U.S. PIRG EducationFund.

And Meryl Baer...

This week Meryl Baer of Beach Boomer Bulletin enjoyed a lobster feast - cooked in her kitchen. This week’s post, Lobster - it’s Whats for Dinner - include pictures of the before and after cooked crustacean. 


Rebecca Olkowski...

Rebecca Olkowski with has another blog for local travel in Los Angeles. She recently wrote about all the things you can do in Griffith Park, which is the second-largest city park in California. If you plan on visiting LA in the future, please check it out.

And Tom Sightings...

Tom from Sightings Over Sixty is not particularly a fan of the Oscars, but he does like The Grammys. Tune in to New Faces, New Voices to hear a review of some of the latest music acts, and find out when and where you can see them next time.


And me!

On Mondays, Diane Stringam Tolley at On the Border hosts a 'Poetry Monday' challenge, based on a theme. This week, the topic was IMPERFECTION. Hmmm...what to talk about? In a world where so many are happy to point out the imperfections in others, Diane decided to point out her own. In rhyme...

Real Estates: All Murders Included in the Price!

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Blessed by a Curse

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God's Tree

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For the Children

Third in the series

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Deborah. Fugitive of Faith

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael

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A House Divided is now available at all fine bookstores and on and .ca!

Daughter of Ishmael

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Hugs, Delivered.

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My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

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New Tween Novel!

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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

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Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from

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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!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?