Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, September 9, 2022

Tucked In

Routines are important.
Especially when one has many small bodies that one is trying to shuffle into bed.
The bedtime ritual in the Tolley household was probably one of the most adhered-to in the entire day.
Little, wiggling bodies were scrubbed clean.
Teeth brushed.
Hair combed.
Jammies donned.
Stories read.
Family prayer said.
And lastly, the all-important Ceremony of the Tucking In.
The grand and glorious final scene in the whole bedtime scenario.
I won't mention here that the tucking in was usually immediately followed by the "I can't sleep" or "I wanna drink of water" or the all important "I have to go pee".
Okay, maybe I will.
Moving on . . .
One of our children, particularly, looked forward to being tucked in each night.
Our daughter, Tiana.
She would emerge happily from the bathroom, sparkling clean and dressed for bed and announce to her Dad, "I'm ready!"
Whereupon (good word) he would drop the evening paper and follow her to the bedroom she shared with her sister.
Then would follow the boosting into bed.
The careful molding of the blankets around the warm little body.
And the ever important good-night kiss.
Then lights were doused, doors closed and Mom and Dad could relax.
At least until the post-tucking parade began.
One evening, Tiana announced to her father that she was ready to be tucked in.
Then realized that she had forgotten something and disappeared.
But notice had been given.
Dad was already on the move.
He went to her room, performed his usual ceremony.
Then resumed his chair and his reading.
Tiana re-appeared.
"I'm ready now," she said.
Her father looked at her. "I already tucked you in," he said.
"What? I'm right here! You didn't tuck me in!"
"Well, I tucked somebody in."
Tiana ran to her room.
"You tucked in my teddy bear!" she said loudly.
Her father grinned into his newspaper. "Well, he was there!" he said.
After that, it was a race to see who could get to Tiana's room first.
She, grinning as her father was forced to perform the usual ceremony.
Or her father, who would then tuck in whatever was close at hand.
Muffy, the sheepdog.
I repeat. Routines are important.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Electronic Love

My baby sister was here from the East coast for a visit.
The best of times.
She had (and has) a job which required her to be on her feet.
And she had a sprained ankle.
The worst of times.
But the story of her ankle has a hilarious twist.
If you'll pardon the pun . . .
Baby Sister is a runner.
She lives in a remote area and, when family, employment and weather allow, runs in that beautiful place she calls home.
Woodsy trails, old forest and the slight tang of salt in the air.
Where was I?
Oh, yes.
Baby Sister.
And running.
On this particular day, she was rounding a curve, heading for home.
Just ahead of her, the school bus had just dropped off her son and a few of his friends.
They acknowledged her presence with a wave and started walking along the road.
And that's when she hit something.
Tree root.
Uneven surface.
It sent her tumbling.
Her ankle took the brunt of the force.
The four teenagers saw her go down.
Three of them sprinted towards her.
Concern writ large.
One . . . didn't.
Her son.
Now I don't want to suggest here that he is uncaring or unfeeling.
Because he isn't.
In fact, he is a very affectionate and loving boy.
But the fact remains that, while the others were hurrying to her assistance, he was bent over his phone – texting.
His friends got her up and, working together, managed to help her hobble the short distance home.
Seated there, her foot up, she picked up her phone.
She had a text.
It was from her son.
Well, modern caring.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Modern Princesses


Not just another pretty face!
Our family was together.
Because we do everything in a group.
Or in our case, a herd.
We do it often. With almost everyone living close, it's an easy thing.
On this day, we were at our local church building.
We had been eating and visiting. My two favourite things.
Now, while some of us continued with that, Grampa and a couple of mothers/aunties had gathered several of the younger kids together in the gym.
They were in a circle to play some games.
Most of which included loud noises.
Clawing, scratching and biting gestures.
And animal sounds.
They were . . . involved.
One of the two-year-old girls came out of the gym.
And with both hands raised in her best clawing-the-neighbours-or-anyone-else-who-might-get-in-the-way position.
Auntie stopped her.
“Are you a bear?” she asked.
The little girl looked at her indignantly and sniffed. “I’m a princess!” she stated. “See my pretty dress?!”
Auntie and I looked at each other. “Not the sort of princess I was raised with, but . . . okay,” she said.
It’s a new world.
Princesses now have claws, stomp around and growl a lot.
But still wear pretty dresses.
I think I have the premise for a new reality show...

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Cool Riding

A guest post by Blair Stringam.

Growing up on the ranch meant that we were busy.

Very busy.

We didn’t often get to visit the (pop. 39,000) Big City–the happening place for shopping or recreation.

In the summer we especially had little free time. Instead, we spent our days baling hay, building and/or fixing fence, herding cows and if we were lucky swimming in the river.

The big exception was when we traveled to the city for the summer fair. Of course, that usually meant we were accompanied by a handful of our best bulls, cows and heifers that took up most of our time with their washing, cleaning, combing and feeding. And show days that, if said bulls/cows/heifers placed well, would net us a colorful ribbon or two that we would proudly hang in our stalls. And later, our walls.

Still, the fair was a great diversion from the normal daily routine of the summer.

A visit to the fair also meant that we would be able to glimpse all the latest in farm equipment, walk through the crafts displays and most importantly, hit the midway—that place with the wonderful food (let’s not mention nutritional qualities) and the most exciting rides. Well…exciting for a ranch kid that had heretofore been engaged in normal ranch kid activities (see above).

I especially remember a visit to the fair when I was 10 years old…

It has been a fun few days, but, our much-anticipated trip to the fair was coming to a close. We were spending the afternoon of that final day in the midway trying to enjoy all that we could before resuming the daily routine back at the ranch (see above. Again).

This year, it just so happened that we were getting pelted with cloud bursts throughout the afternoon thoroughly dampening an otherwise exciting midway experience. We had been mostly able to keep out of the rain because many of the rides had large canvas canopies to keep their riders dry.

Now, this summer, the most desirable ride was called the SnowBobs.  It was decorated with pictures and structural highlights featuring bobsleds being pulled through the snow by horses; with a number of actual 'sleds' positioned in a sloping loop beneath--those that would hold two people (for the romantic experience) or those that would take 6. Maybe. If you were skinny.

Once everyone was securely seated, the ride would start and the sleds would run around the loop with the latest hits blasting from very loud speakers.

I should probably point out that riding a bobsled behind a horse in the winter is a different experience. For one thing, it is quiet. Peaceful. (And this was pre-boom-box, so listening to the latest hits was not possible.) But we didn’t care about the major disconnect. For us, the music was great and the ride was exciting.

By the end of the afternoon, I had spent all of my midway money and was waiting for my siblings by the bobsled ride with my equally-broke cousin. I knew that when they (said siblings) finished their ride, we would be going back to the cattle stalls to load our large pets into the cattle trailer and head for home. Our adventure at the fair was swiftly drawing to a close. Sigh.

It was at that moment the sky opened up.

All the kids standing around quickly bought tickets and got on the bobsled ride, leaving my cousin and me standing out in front. Getting soaked.

Even if we could buy tickets, the ride looked like it was filled beyond the legal limit.

We had to just wait and hope that the rain would stop.

It didn’t.

Suddenly, a big long-haired guy came running down to the front of the ride and yelled at my cousin and me to get on.

We happily and quickly obliged, walking around sleds that looked already overloaded.

Then we found my older siblings, who quickly made space for us. (Like I told you: Skinny!)

The ride started and the wonderful music began blasting.

I knew that 2 things were going to happen soon. The ride would end and we would be packing up and heading back to the ranch.

But, for now, it was raining, my older siblings were allowing me, their annoying younger brother, to participate and I was listening to the music: American Women, Magic Carpet Ride, Bad Moon Rising, Born to be Wild, Run Through the Jungle, etc., and enjoying the ride.

Monday, September 5, 2022


First proposed in ’82,

Endorsed in ’94,

The Labour Day that we all know,

Esteemed the working doer.


Those hardy souls who underwrote,

The countries that we know,

Helped to make them what they are,

Ensure that they would grow.


Let’s celebrate them, everyone,

The working girls and guys,

Who keep our nations well and strong,

And help us all to rise!




To someone wearing other than

The working man’s attire,

A Labour Day, to some of us,

Means something else entire.


Now we have further ways to cheer

These others we speak of,

A day marked down in early May

Is joined with equal love.


So Labour Day to some means one…

To some of us another,

I’ve celebrated six myself…

Each one made me a mother!

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?

Comes with a straw, is icy cold,
Join us next week--we'll NOT withhold!

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!)...

Labour Day (September 5) Today!

Chocolate Milk Shakes (September 12)

Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19)

Field Trips (September 26)

Name Your Car (October 3)
Octopus (or something squishy) (October 10)
Most Memorable Italian Meal (October 17)
Bathtubs (October 24)

Halloween -or- your favourite Knock-Knock Joke (October 31) 

Oatmeal (November 7)

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!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?