Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, September 16, 2022


 “What is it?” Mom’s concerned voice trickled down the hall to my room.
Without conscious thought, I scrambled from my bed and hit the hall already at a full run.
We live in Sally’s house.
Dealing with Sally’s escapades on a nearly daily basis.
I’m totally justified in my overreaction.
I skidded around the corner, catching the handle of the fridge to stop my forward momentum.
Mom, looking rather intent, was standing by the sink, her cell phone pressed to one ear. She glanced at me and held up one finger.
I fidgeted while she continued her conversation.
Across the room, Dad was lying on the couch. Well, I’m assuming. Now he was slowly rising, his eyes on Mom.
“Oh. Well, that’s good,” Mom said.
I swiveled to look at her again. The pinched ‘Sally’ look had been replaced by the relieved ‘Sally’ look. There are no other looks.
It was obvious that, whatever Sally (and by association, Mort) were up to, it wasn’t something Mom had to deal with.
I relaxed and Dad sank back to the couch and, once again, picked up the book he had been reading.
Mom pressed ‘end’ and smiled at the two of us. “Well, that was a whole lot of nothing,” she said brightly.
You have to understand the ‘speak’ in our house. “Whole lot of nothing’; is code for: ‘Sally hasn’t done anything that’s gotten her arrested today hallelujah’.
“What’s Sally been doing?” I asked.
“Oh, well, she has a day off from shooting, so she and Mort are wandering a fairground in Munich, seeing who can find the biggest pretzel and dancing to the latest Schlager hits—whatever that means.”
“Schlager is music, Mom. Bright. Lively. I rather like it.”
“Ah. She says if her shoot goes over, she and Mort are going to try to take in Octoberfest.”
I shivered as Dad and I exchanged a glance. Sally at Octoberfest? Someone would be shipping her home in a barrel.
“So what would the two of you like for breakfast? When will Peter be here?”
Dad and I looked at each other. Okay, we are the weirdos of the family. Both of us like a hearty bacon and eggs and pancakes and waffles and maybe steak breakfast.
Mom and Sally and Mort prefer something lighter.
And way more sugary.
Peter is still on the fence. Easily swinging both ways.
“He’s probably on his way. He doesn’t have to work until later today.”
“Well, I’ll just do the usual then?”
Dad grinned at her. Steak and eggs and waffles, it was.
I opened the fridge and dragged out a grocer’s tray of ribeye steaks, which I threw on the indoor grill and painted with my favourite sauce.
Say what you will about people with money, living with one definitely has its perks.
A knock on the front door preceded Peter’s entrance. He came over and greeted me with a quick kiss and a slow hug.
I love that man!
Then he and his uncle, my father, started to set the table as they launched into one of their long, drawn-out discussions about modern government and the state of all branches of the modern military.
You have to know that Dad (the former Uncle Pete Gunn) served many, many years in the military. Marines. Reaching the rank of Major before retiring. He definitely has some opinions.
I flipped the steaks and squirted on more BBQ sauce.
Mom and I have breakfast timed almost perfectly.
But the time I was setting the platter of steaming steaks on the table, Mom was carrying in the bowl of fluffy scrambled eggs and the plate of crispy waffles.
Okay, yes. A big breakfast makes me…poetic.
As everyone was sitting down, I thought I heard a car pull up. I hurried to the big front window and peered out.
“Who’s here?” Mom asked.
“No one. Just someone next door at the Baggins’.”
I started back toward the table, walking past the couch where Dad had been lying. His book had fallen to the floor and instinctively, I leaned over to pick it up and put it in a safe place—and glanced at the cover.
‘The Best Baby Name Book in the World’: Two thousand of the most popular Baby Names Anywhere!
I looked at Dad, who was leaning forward, talking to Mom, their hands linked romantically.
Peter was looking at me. “Gwen? Coming?”
I simply stared at him as my train of thought crashed and died on some lonely shoal.
He started to get up.
Mom and Dad turned to look at me and Dad saw the book in my hands. His face went red. No small feat for someone as deeply and permanently tanned as he was.
“Ummm…something you’d care to share with the class?” I asked. 

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: Oktoberfest ~ Pretzel ~ Schlager ~ Munich ~ Fairground ~ Barrel were sent to me, via Karen, from my good friend, Tamara! Thank you, my friend!

Now see what my friends have done with their words!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Phatherly Phone Phun

My 'Creative Parenting 101' Professor
When Dad spoke. We listened.
Most of the time.
One ignored my father at one's own risk.
Let me tell you about it . . .
I had a boyfriend.
It was a new and exciting experience for me.
We would say good-bye at the school bus stop, get on our respective buses and head for home.
Fifty minutes later, we would be on the phone.
For hours.
I should point out here that, in the 1960s, we had one phone line to the ranch.
And, because we were ultra-modern and progressive, two phones on that line.
One in the kitchen.
And one in my parents bedroom.
The epitome of modern convenience.
Back to my story . . .
I don't know what we found to talk about. But talk, we did. Until one or both of us was tagged for chores.
Or supper was announced.
Or our parents got annoyed.
My Mom was usually quite predictable, saying such things as, “Diane! Get off the phone! You've been on there for an hour!”
To which I would comply.
And under protest.
My Dad was a little more creative.
He would walk in the door, see me there on the phone, note the time, and leave the room.
That was my cue.
And my only warning.
I had seconds to say my good-byes. 
Because Dad wanted me off the phone. And I wasn't going to like his methods.
They were . . . effective.
He would simply walk into his bedroom and turn on the radio.
Then take the phone receiver and lay it down beside said radio.
If I hadn't already ended my conversation, I did so then.
With a shouted good-bye and hastily cradled phone.
Mission accomplished.
Simply and elegantly, without a word being spoken.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Beauty in the Eyes Of...

Our family was watching ET. Again.

We love the movie.
And it brought back the memory of that first time. Back in 1982...
Okay, he's cute!
Our family was at the movies.
We had popcorn and treats.
Soft drinks.
And the quickest route to the bathroom mapped into our heads.
We were ready.
Erik was four and a little more than eager.
The theater darkened slowly.
Expectation grew.
They don't do this anymore, but in times past, every step to the opening of a movie served to heighten the anticipation to a fever pitch.
Slowly lowered lights.
Projector springing to life.
Train of white light beamed on the still-closed curtains.
Said curtains slowly drawing back.
Pictures suddenly appearing.
It was inspired.
Everyone in the theater was transfixed.
Hands which only recently had been scrabbling (Grandpa's word) through the popcorn hung suspended, unmoving.
The audience waited, barely breathing, for the first signs of Movie.
And then it finally came, restoring breath and life to those watching.
And they were truly prepared to be entertained. Even bewitched.
Our movie that night was ET. The story about the little Extra Terrestrial.
It began . . .
Cute little kids and family interaction.
ET was introduced.
Erik crawled into my lap and announced in what he fondly believed was a whisper, “I don't like him. He's scary!”
Not scary enough that he wanted to leave, however.
He watched as the children in the movie befriended the helpless, stranded little alien.
Adopted him.
Loved him.
(Spoiler alert . . .)
He cried when ET 'died'.
And cried, again, when he came back to life.
At the end of the movie, he sighed happily and followed the rest of us out of the theater.
On the way home, as usual, we talked about the film and Erik posed the question, “Why was ET so much cuter at the end of the movie than at the beginning?”
I stared at him. “He was just the same, sweetie.”
“No. He was cuter at the end.”
We thought about it. How could something that really never changed in looks get 'better' looking?
And then it hit me. “Because, at the end, you loved him, sweetie.”
“Oh. Right.”
And it was true. The ugly little alien remained ugly until we got to know him.
Loved him.
And then we saw his beauty.
Truth comes best from a four-year-old.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Here and Hereafter

With the death of my beloved Queen this week, my feelings are quite tender and my thoughts about the hereafter on my mind...

I’m a believer . . .
My mom was a wonderful person. A hard worker. Kind and caring. Supportive. Encouraging.
But Mom had a trait that she struggled with her whole life.
She was a world-class worrier.
She worried over debt and income and other things. 
But mostly, she worried about her family. Especially her kids and grandkids.
She worried so much that she made herself sick.
A sickness that, twenty-one years ago, took her life.
I’m like my mother in a lot of ways. Good ways, I hope.
And, though I’m not nearly in her class when it comes to worrying, I do have that tendency.
And that brings me to what happened that night . . .
Some of my children were struggling. The downturn in the economy had cost many in our area their jobs and our family was not immune.
The stresses of job-hunting as well as keeping a family going with little or no income were taking their toll.
And I’d been worrying.
One day, I was sitting on the edge of my bed, sunk in despair.
And then a scent drifted over me.
A scent I hadn’t smelled in years.
My mother’s favourite perfume.
Now, you have to know that I did/do not wear perfume. And that particular scent hasn’t been sold in forever. 
I knew it was my mother.
Knowing I was upset and doing what she could to make things better.
She succeeded.
Thank you, Mom.
I miss you.

I believe in the hereafter. I believe that my Queen has earned her rest and is, even now, sitting with her feet up. Maybe drinking a cup of tea. Thank you for the gift of your selfless service, Your Majesty. 
Enjoy your rest.

Monday, September 12, 2022


 There are so many treats out there,

All glorious and made with flair,

There’s candies, hard, and candies, soft,

And gums from which aromas waft,

Those goodies baked, don’t make me start,

Just contemplating stops my heart!

The cakes that make the ol’ mouth sing,

Some with spice and some with zing,

And pies of every size and hue,

For one to share (if you order two),

And every type of muffin, rolls,

Donuts, whole, and donut holes,

Squares and slices, loafs and knots,

Some with fillings, some with spots,

And chocolate bars to make you drool,

Mere looking’s classified as cruel…

With all these things to bite and taste,

(And most end up upon your waist!)

I must admit they tempt me not,

I guess willpower’s what I’ve got,

Don’t think of me as gifted, though,

I have a flaw that causes woe,

Though nothing tempts, from gum to cake,

What makes me crack? A CHOCOLATE SHAKE!

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's not to dodge or fear,
Bring your 'pirate'. Join us here!

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!)...

Chocolate Milk Shakes (September 12) Today!

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!

Be Courageous!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?