Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, May 27, 2022


 The business produced underwear,

The kind that always comes in pairs…

Employees showed up with the dawn,

And when shift ended, stock was gone!

So bags were searched, and pockets, too,

Backpacks, coats, to name a few,

The baggage combed, to no avail,

All those attempts to catch them…failed,

The business finally assigned

Searches of a private kind,

But all the staff, when shift was done,

Well, each was wearing only one,

And still the stock would disappear,

Just how it happened wasn’t clear,

And this went on for quite some time,

(Impressed I say all this in rhyme?)

A bright light o’er in auditing

Said, “I’ve been thinking. Here’s the thing…

“We check them all when they are done

“And each is going home with one,

“I think we’d find our thieves in sin,

“If we checked them coming in!”

And so they did and he was right!

(His light was quite superbly bright.)

Employees going home with one?

Well, they were coming in with none!

So, if you’re selling underwear,

Beware the staff that comes in bare!

Karen asks, "Write for me, please?"
We write because she's our Big Cheese,
And we love her, you know that’s true,
So this is what we writers do . . .
We craft a poem based on a theme,

With pencils, sharp, and eyes agleam,
Or at a 'puter screen, we stare,
Whilst sitting in our underwear,
(Okay, you're right, that is just me,
But, tell me, does it sound carefree?)
Each month we write and have such fun
We can't wait for another one,
Now this month, how well did I do?
Please go and see the others, too.

BakingIn A Tornado                 



Thursday, May 26, 2022

Norma and Me

Behold! My fictional story that sparked my love for tales featuring snarky sisters.
The morning sun shone through the great cage with the brightly-plumaged macaw perched alertly inside.
Norma was on her knees beneath, scraping with a long-handled shoehorn.
And muttering unintelligibly to herself.
I turned the page of my magazine as she emerged, still talking, “. . . fluff!”
 “And feathers!” I turned another page and glanced at her over my magazine. “Need I remind you that it was your idea to get the smelly old bird in the first place?”
She snorted as she straightened her glasses and glared at me.
I looked at her again. “Was that a snort?”
She suddenly found something very interesting in the pattern of the dining room wallpaper. “No.”
“It was! It was a snort!”
“Well, you called Reginald a smelly old bird!”
“Well, he is!” I dove back into my magazine. 
She got to her feet and pushed her glasses up on her nose once more. “Of all the rude, inconsiderate . . .” Whatever else she had to say became muffled as she disappeared into the next room.
I sighed and turned another page. I had long since stopped seeing what was there. I was too interested in baiting my sister.
Soon, Norma was back, still talking. “. . . and you know that I thought he would be some nice cheerful company. And still, you . . .” She stopped and frowned. “Why did I go into the kitchen?”
I looked at her and raised my eyebrows.
She glanced down at her mass of seeds and shredded papers on the otherwise spotless floor. “Oh.” She disappeared once again. “I don’t understand . . .” Once more, her words became a mere thread of sound, muffled by the thick walls. This time, when she emerged, she was carrying the trash can. “. . . know that a bit of cheerful company is always pleasant. Especially when one’s only roommate is one’s little sister. One’s snarky little sister.”
Little sister. The phrase always conjured up the picture of a small child in pigtails. Not the octogenarian of reality. I grinned. “But that’s what makes me so nice,” I said.
She pushed her glasses up and glared at me again, then knelt and started scraping bits of paper and seeds into the garbage. “Nice? Well, I don’t know if I could use the term in describing you.” She got up again and, carrying the trash can, started toward the kitchen once more. “I always thought people who are nice were . . .” What she thought nice people were was again lost through the thick lath and plaster between us.
I turned another page and saw the brightly coloured picture of a woman afloat on a cloud with visions of cars, appliances and tropical locales floating in the air about her. A caption, written boldly below questioned: ‘What are your dreams?’
“. . . and dusters. Don’t forget that we need to take a pile of them with us when we go over to help clean!” Norma was back, still clutching the garbage can. And, inexplicably, a fork. She stopped in the doorway. “Oh. I forgot.” She turned and left, but was back a moment later without the trash can and fork, but carrying a large rag and a bucket of warm, soapy water. “Here, Reginald!” she cooed. “Let’s get things all nice and clean!”
The great bird moved to the side of his cage and looked down on her as she dropped to her knees, dipped the rag in the water, wrung it out carefully and started scrubbing. “Get you - all comfy - and nice . . .” her words took on a rhythm as she cleaned. Finally, satisfied, she dropped the rag into the water and stood up. “There.” She nodded in satisfaction. Leaning close to the bars, she made clicking noises with her tongue. “Who’s the pretty bird? Who’s my little gentleman?”
Reginald tipped his head to one side and regarded her. “Gentleman!” he repeated.
Norma smiled. “That’s right. It’s you!” She bustled off through the doorway.
Reginald looked over at me, then turned slightly, fluffed his feathers, and let go a large, wet glob of something disgusting.
It made a great splat on the still-damp floor.
I smiled and hid behind my magazine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Evenings In

Family games - mischief made legal
Above is a picture of an actual party featuring my parents’ actual friends.
Mayhem may or may not have been included.
On the ranch in the evenings, particularly the long, winter evenings, opportunities for entertainment were few.
If there wasn't anything on your one TV channel, you pretty much had to come up with your own.
Entertainment, I mean.
This meant music (the make-your-own variety), which we practised with more or less success.
Mostly less.
My own personal favourite.
Having a drink with the hired men in the bunkhouse.
Probably the least recommended for us kids.
Or games and/or puzzles.
Usually we went with games and/or puzzles.
One didn't get a lecture from one's parents when one played games and/or puzzles . . .
We had several favourites.
Scrabble. A word game which aimed for word construction creativity.
But only good for four of us six players.
Probe. Another word game. This one, disclosure being the goal.
Boggle. (Or if we were feeling daring, Big Boggle.) Another word game.
Huh. I just realized that we played a lot of word games.
And several of us ended up being writers.
Go figure . . .
Bridge. A card game played by four players.
Unless you're from Southern Alberta.
Where it is played by forty tables of four players.
But that is another story . . .
Rook. A card game resembling bridge and also played extensively in no-holds-barred tournaments across Southern Alberta.
Rummoli. Poker and sequence, all rolled into one happy package.
And finally, Monopoly. The apex of games.
The ultimate in Stringam family fun.
And won, inevitably, by Jerry.
Not that he even appeared to try.
He hummed, sang, bounced his knee rhythmically, talked, told jokes and CLEANED OUR CLOCKS.
Why did we keep on playing?
Good question.
Inevitably, I would end Monopoly with a very tiny hoard of cash clutched in one hand as I stared with dismay at my little shoe, parked firmly on Park Place or Boardwalk.
Each with their large, expensive hotel.
And each with Jerry's smiling face behind them.
I would hand over my little pile, along with the last of my properties, and quietly fade into the sunset.
And immediately challenge him to a rematch.
To which he happily complied.
Okay, I get it now.
It's just another example of the 'I'll get him next time!' mentality.
I never did.
Moving on . . .
Puzzles posed a bit less competition.
A more relaxing way to spend time together.
Visiting was permitted. Even encouraged.
But minutes could go by with soft music playing in the background and not one word said.
Our family's evenings now consist of visiting or playing cards.
Or watching movies.
Not too different from those I experienced growing up.
Family time.
What could possibly be better?

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A PJ Vacation


That's me in the green. Dressed appropriately.
Mom was a stickler for clothing customs and traditions.
“Wear a jacket.” “Put on your shoes.” “Where’s your hat?” “You need gloves/boots/armour in the barnyard.” “Get your helmet!” “I don’t care what the other girls are wearing, you are not going swimming naked!”
And others.
Clothes were almost a uniform to her. You wore what was appropriate. When it was appropriate.
Oh, we were still able to dress in what was going. Bell-bottoms. Not-quite-mini skirts. Go-go boots. (Okay those were my sister’s which I may or may not have sneaked out of her room.)
But one had to wear what. And when.
Now to my story . . .
Husby and I were in the sweet little town of Cardston, Alberta.
Husby and his partner, Shayne, wanted to build a museum there and/or spruce up the main street.
It entailed lots of glimpses into history.
He and Shayne were given a tour of the period hotel that graces the main street.
The Cahoon.
And I had my own glimpse into history . . .
Mom and dad and we kids were in Cardston for some reason.
I don’t remember why. Relatives? Church? Business?
I was five. I had gotten into the car because whenever the family was going somewhere, it was an ADVENTURE.
Soooo . . . Cardston.
While we were there, as sometimes happens in the Great Canadian Prairies in close proximity to the equally-great-but-for-different-reasons Rocky Mountains in the winter, a great storm blew in.
And engulfed us.
And the town.
And probably quite a large part of the surrounding countryside but I was basically concerned with what I could see out the car window.
Dad decided it was far safer to seek refuge right where we were.
We drove to the only hotel. The Cahoon. A great stone structure that loomed over main street.
Requested and were granted rooms.
And proceeded to ready ourselves for bed.
I remember three things that make sense to me now, knowing that the stop-over was completely unplanned.
But that didn’t when I was five.
1. A great iron bedstead that creaked and was really springy and perfect for jumping. Except that Argus of the Hundred Eyes (ie. Mom) was watching me.
2. I didn’t have to brush my teeth because I didn’t have a toothbrush. 
And, most importantly...
3. Mom stripped me out of my clothes and tucked me into the great, springy bed in only my undershirt and panties.
Wait. What? No Pajamas?
I narrowed my eyes suspiciously. Not even a nightie?
This had never—ever—happened before. I was expected to actually sleep? Almost naked?
I know I probably went out like the proverbial candle, with or without my pajamas.
And woke the next morning as refreshed and energetic as if I had been in my own bed, on my own ranch, in my own PJ’s to a fourth new and exciting thing:
4. Breakfast in the hotel restaurant!
It’s funny how all of this came back as we stood there, staring up at the great, old hotel.
P.S. You have to know that pajamas still make up a large part of preparing myself for bed.
Just ask Husby.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Turning Turtle

 A baby turtle, small and wee,

Was standing ‘neath the mighty tree,

Then, looking up, he gave a sigh

And started climbing t’ward the sky,

An hour later finally touched

The lowest branch, which he then clutched

And hitched himself along, till he

Had reached the end. He flexed his knee

Leaped t’ward the ground (and not too slow),

He landed in the leaves below,

Then crawling out (well, by and by),

Again approached, and with a sigh

Began to climb s’he had before,

An hour’s work, well, less or more,

Then finally reached that self-same branch...

Before the thought could make him blanch,

He leaped as he already had,

With similar results (so sad),

Then started mounting a third time,

Sighed as he began the climb.

Much further up, a pair of cranes,

Both sat and watched the turtle’s pains,

The wife, she turned and, to her spouse,

Said, “Should we help the little mouse?”

“I’d like to aid our sweet young whelp….

Would knowing he’s adopted help?”

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?

Cause it's important, next week, we
Will talk Memorial Day. Come see! 

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!)...

Turtles (May 23) Today!

Memorial Day (May 30)

Yo-yo (June 6)

Roller Coaster (June 13)

World Refugee Day (June 20)

The Happy Birthday song (June 27)

Independence Day (US) or Sidewalk egg-frying day (July 4)

Loneliness (July 11)

Ice Cream (July 18)

Old Jokes (July 25)

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God's Tree

God's Tree
For the Children

Third in the series

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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 and .ca!

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

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
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