Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, July 22, 2022

Shining Optional

Go ahead! Sing!
How do you 'rise and shine'?
Throughout my life, I have been summoned from sleep in various ways.
Some gentle.
Some strident.
All annoying.
My mom, a member of the 'never wake a sleeping child' sorority, let me sleep in till I woke up on my own.
Well, until I went to school, that is.
Then, her usual wake up call consisted of, “Diane! Get up! The bus will be here in ten minutes!”
Okay, I will admit that she usually called me much earlier than that.
I just wasn't listening.
Dad's form of summoning consisted of one word. “Spring!” And it was always obeyed instantly.
Mom, you could coax and cajole, but dad?
You moved.
Often, I found myself standing beside my bed with no idea of how I got there.
My Husby took a more creative, albeit (Oooh! Good word!) equally annoying route.
He would sing.
And loudly.
In our house, 'Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!', the usually bright, happy, uplifting anthem from Oklahoma, sounded more like . . . honking. Or ball-bearings rolling around in a hubcap. (Don't ask me how I know what that sounds like.)
His 'singing' brought instant . . . let me put it this way: No one slept through it.
“Dad! Aarrgghh!”
Moving ahead . . .
Our oldest son had recently become engaged.
To a beautiful girl.
Our entire family had traveled to Fort Macleod to a reunion.
Our future daughter-in-law was bunking with our other daughters.
It was morning and there was far too much sleeping going on.
My Husby decided he needed to do something proactive.
He went to the door of the girls' room.
Cleared his throat.
And started singing.
You really haven't heard 'Oh What a Beautiful Morning' sung quite like he sings it.
Our future daughter-in-law looked at her future-sister-in-law. “Does he always do this?”
FSIL's answer was muffled by the pillow over her head. “Yes.”
“Oh. Maybe I'll have to rethink my joining this family.”
She did join. She comes from hardy stock.
I thought I'd tell you that in case you were worried.
Back to my story . . .
This morning, my alarm woke me.
“Bla-Bla-Bla-Bla-Bla-Bla . . .”
Suddenly I missed my Mom's repeated time updates, my Dad's single word warnings and my Husby's singing.
It's all a matter of perspective.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Putting In Everything

I’ve mentioned my new fitness craze, Aqua Fit.

Well, something occurred to me today whilst I was in the pool. Somewhere between ‘Lift! Lift! Lift!’ and ‘Push! Push! Push!’

But first I have to tell you something about my Daddy...

Daddy was the youngest of 11 children. When Mama met him, she thought he was nice but a rather spoiled youngest son.

She wasn’t far wrong.

But it was nothing that 65 years of husbanding, fathering, ranching, veterinarian-ing, Cattle organization-ing, production sale-ing, neighbouring, friending, teaching…and a host of other responsibilities couldn’t teach.

I think he was one of the wisest men I’ve ever known.

Finally I’ve reached what I’ve been wanting to say…

We were sitting in church. Daddy and me in the middle of the pew with assorted family members spread out on either side. I had just told him in my loudest six-year-old voice that this meeting was boring.

He looked down at me and made his patented ‘shushing’ motion. Then he leaned over and whispered, “Diane. You get out of something what you put into it.”

That was the first time I remember him saying that particular statement.

After that, I heard it a lot.

And it became a pattern for my life. If you hear my kids and grandkids claim they’ve also heard it a lot…believe them.

Now, back to my class.

I push myself. I do. I try to make each movement count. Keep in time with the music. ‘Push! Push! Push!’

Then I’m that annoying person at the end of class who announces how many calories we burned that day.

One of my fellow Aqua Fitters (is that a term?) laughed. “Diane,” she said. “You’re moving twice as fast as the rest of us. You burn way more calories.”

I stared at her. Surely not.

Next class, I looked around. Many of the women were chatting while they worked out, their movements slow and leisurely. Some weren’t even doing what the instructor…erm…instructed.

I’m not condemning them for it. They are happy and still benefitting.

But all I could hear was Daddy’s voice. “Diane. You get out of something what you put into it.”

I will continue to put in everything. 

That way, I’ll get everything out.

See you there?


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

A Notable Talent

Don't let the innocent expression fool you!

Our eldest son (hereinafter known as ES) had a world class talent.

World class.
If it had been an event in the Olympics, he'd have taken home the gold.
But there wasn't.
And he didn't.
Maybe I should explain . . .
ES was born with the ability to throw a tremendous, colossal, stupendous, prodigious, enormous, fantastic, howling, mind-blowing tantrum.
I know that many children do.
Even some adults.
But no one has ever done it quite at the same level.
And he saved his best performances for when we were in public.
Usually in the toy section of the local department store.
When he was three, he gave his most memorable performance.
Well, I certainly can't forget it . . .
He wanted a toy.
I can't remember which one, but he wasn't getting it.
The family budget was already suffering chills and fever.
Any unnecessary purchases would have surely sent it into a coma.
We started to move away from said toy.
ES realized that his begging and pleading had come to naught.
He dropped to the ground.
And began to flop around like a landed fish.
Then the screams started.
Ear-shattering. Air raid worthy.
Now, my Husby and I had learned that that proper way to handle a tantrum was to just keep walking.
Which we did.
To this point, it had never worked.
We discovered that ES could flop and scream AND keep up with his moving parents.
Skill and talent.
But this day was a little different.
This day, we had unexpected . . . help.
As we ducked around the corner, and before ES could start after us, an elderly gentleman walked up to our writhing boy and stood there, looking down at him.
ES finally realized that someone was standing beside him.
He opened his eyes.
To see a perfect stranger.
“I guess you'd better come with me,” the man said.
Tantrum instantly forgotten, ES scrambled to his feet.
His father poked his head around the corner.
ES ran to him and grabbed him about the knees in a grip fuelled by three parts fear and one part . . . okay, four parts fear.
My Husby silently looked at the man.
Both of them smiled.
And just like that, ES’ public tantrums were finished.
Oh, he still treated us to private performances, but never again were we humiliated in public.
We often think of that man.
A father?
Whoever he was, his wisdom . . .
. . . and timing . . .
Were one of the greatest blessings of our parenting years.
I wish we could tell him.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022


Okay, yes, I’ve recited/ sung this rhyme all my life. It’s only now I’m trying to make sense of it:
Hey, Diddle Diddle,
The Cat and the fiddle,
The Cow jumped over the moon,
The little Dog laughed to see such sport,
And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.

Okay, let’s try to unpack this whole thing from the beginning. First off, who names their child Diddle? Especially when said child has (sadly) already been saddled with the surname ‘Diddle’. Isn’t that just cruel? At the very least it shows a distinct lack of imagination! What are your thoughts?

Now on to the main part of the rhyme…

Right off, there’s the ‘Cat and the Fiddle’ thingy. Am I right in questioning what that cat doing with that fiddle? He surely wasn’t playing it. I’m no expert, but from observation, it appears one needs the use of one’s thumbs.

One thing I do know is this: no self-respecting cat has ever been caught with even one such digit. Tell me if I’m wrong. Sadly, the idea of a fiddle-playing cat conjures up the scary sound of the scrape of horsehair against strings that could only be labeled: ghastly. 

Moving on…

And now let’s tackle the cow. 
This particular bovine seems capable of heretofore unheard of altitudinal achievements. I owned cows. And watched as one in particular, who had been happily grazing with a herd of deer, tried to follow said deer as they lightly leaped our pasture fence.

She applied bovine brakes in the nick of time. What followed would have doubtlessly been an udder disaster. (*snort*) 
So, if a cow is physically incapable of leaping a four-foot fence, how could she possibly achieve the 405,500 km (251,000 miles) or the estimated distance between the earth and moon.

Not only that but there’s the whole ‘breaking-free-of-the-earth’s-gravity’ to be reckoned with. You’ve seen the power and force needed for rockets to achieve this. I have yet to see a booster rocket affixed to a cow. Though the thought does conjure up a unique visual. 

Nope. The only thing I’ve ever seen coming from the back end of a cow is…quite disgusting. And, I should point out, something that definitely wouldn’t be capable of sending said cow very far up. Although it has been known to send someone (ie. me) pretty far away… Just sayin’.

Then we move on to the little dog. Laughing. Now this one I can believe. Oh, you know I’ve seen my dog crack a grin or two at my calamities. And I’m pretty certain that, when she and her goofball buddies get together, they only pretend to be off playing.

In reality, they are snickering together over their respective master’s/mistress’ misfortunes. Tell me you’ve seen them. Jerks. And then they have the nerve to come back, tails wagging and doggie kisses ready. Not that I’ll ever succumb… Nope. Nope. No… Awww, I can’t stay mad at you!   Where was I…?

And that brings us to the whole dish and spoon debacle. Or, more precisely, their ‘running away’. I want to know, first off, if the spoon was a willing participant. I mean, the dish ran away with it. That sounds highly suspicious to me. Shouldn’t they have run off together?

And another thought: Often this phrase, ‘running away’ is used to express some sort of sordid affair. In which other parties (not included in the tale) may be elsewhere being betrayed and thusly: sad.

That or they were joining a circus. Either way, I’m not seeing a long-term relationship resulting. 

I say we give the whole rhyme a do-over…
Hey, Michael Diddle,
All cats are a riddle,
The cows only look at the moon (405,000+ km away).
The little dogs laughed cause they're all just jerks,
And the dish and the spoon had a mutually fulfilling relationship.
You’re right. It was better the other way.

Today’s post is a writing challenge. Each month one of the participating bloggers pick a number between 12 and 50. All bloggers taking part are then challenged to write using that exact number of words in their post either once or multiple times. 

This month’s word count number is: 50
It was chosen by: Mimi!

Links to the other Word Counters posts:
BakingIn ATornado

Monday, July 18, 2022

Scooping the Blame

From a mostly-true story...

A party! It was just the thing for newlyweds to do,

And the weather and the comp’ny made the whole thing perfect, too!

T’was warm and sunny, food set out. And promised good discourse,

The kind that keeps you talking until everyone is hoarse!

The barbeque was done. The host had set up a small stand,

With yummy, creamy ice cream--every colour, type and brand,

Her husband made a beeline for it, and was first in line,

Then went again and then again—the number eight or nine!

His wife just frowned as he returned, said, “Hon, I’m curious…

“But aren’t you just a bit embarrassed some will see you thus?”

Her husband took a bite and shrugged. “There’s really no ado…

“Cause when they scoop another bowl, I tell them it’s for you!”

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 for all you special folks...
We're going back to good, old jokes!

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!)...

Ice Cream (July 18) Today!

Old Jokes (July 25)

Girlfriends (August 1)

Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night (August 8)

Lemon Meringue Pie Day (August 15)

Be an Angel Day (August 22)

Bats -or-  More Herbs, Less Salt (August 29)

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!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?