Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, October 14, 2022


Well, I was right. Mom and Dad are pregnant!

Mom is pretty excited. I mean, she had Sally and me 10 months apart over 18 years ago. I guess she’s been secretly thinking her family was incomplete.

Who knew?

But Dad? Dad is completely OVER THE MOON!

You’d have to see it to believe it—this former crusty old Major all googly-eyed over baby stuff.

But I suspected he had a soft spot somewhere in his makeup. I mean, he did deliberately join our family. Even after he’d met Sally.

Speaking of Sally, I should probably tell you that Sally and Mort are still in Munich. I think they are due home any time.

It’s been…quite peaceful. Even a bit...shall I say it? Boring.

Until today.

Dad has been totally obsessed with helping Mom with everything. Baby shopping. Exercising. He and Mom came back from their new favourite walking trail with him carrying her like a prized poodle because he was afraid she'd gotten too tired (but that is another story!) He even insists on going to Mom’s doctor appointments. I think it’s totally sweet.

They just got back from one.

A doctor's visit, that is.

Peter and I were making supper when they walked in. Well, Peter was. I was abuse-ing some craft materials in an effort to make a little scarecrow decoration for Halloween. I looked at them, standing there just inside the front door. “Supper’s almost ready.”

They merely nodded. Mom--smiling. Dad--not. 

Dad helped Mom take her coat off and hung it up for her. Then the two of them walked over to the couch and sat down.

Now, normally, this wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. I mean, it was fairly normal behaviour, am I right?

But neither of them was saying anything.


And Dad seemed to be holding Mom’s hand with greater…intensity…than usual.

I set down the glue gun I’d been holding.”Okay. Out with it.”

They looked at me.

“Your Dad’s a hero,” Mom said quietly.

I smiled at Dad (who was now shaking his head) and thought about his bravery in joining our family and making Mom so happy. “He’s already a hero to me,” I told them.

“No,” Mom insisted. “He really is a hero.”

I abandoned my crafts and moved closer, sitting in the chair opposite the couch.

Peter shut off the heat under the soup he had been stirring and joined us.

Mom, her fingers tightly entwined in Dad’s, leaned forward. “There was a fire at the Doctor’s office!”

Dad groaned and put his head back against the cushions.

I stared at Mom. “Whaaat?”

She nodded. "It’s totally true. A fire.” She looked at Dad. "And your dad put it out!”

I turned to him. “Seriously?”

I’ve seen him blush before, so I know what it looks like.

“Yes,” he said finally.

“Well, that’s great!” Peter said.

“Was anyone hurt?”


Mom sat there, smiling at him. He was staring at the floor.

Neither of them were saying anything.

Mom put her head on his shoulder. “And he saved everyone!” She squeezed his hand, then got up and headed toward the hallway. “I need the bathroom,” she said, unnecessarily.

Dad looked at us after she had closed the door. “I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life,” he said.

“So…what happened?” I asked.

Dad’s blush got darker.

Okay, this was really strange.


He sighed. “Well…actually, I started the fire.”

Okay, I hadn’t been expecting this. “Seriously?” I asked again.

He nodded. “Your Mom couldn’t…well…it was dark in the corner where she was sitting and she was having a hard time reading her magazine and I thought…maybe I should move the light over for her. So I did. But I pulled too hard and the cord ripped out of the plug. And it spit sparks all up the wall and it…actually It was pretty spectacular. Suddenly the whole wall was aflame! And there was stupid me, with my jacket, beating out the flames.”

“But you put the fire out, Uncle Pete,” Peter protested.

He rolled his eyes. “After I started it.”

I smiled at him. “A true ‘Sally’ moment,” I said. I got up and crossed the floor, then gave him a big hug. “Dad? You wanna know something? You fit right in!”

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:  scarecrow ~ abuse ~ walking trail ~ poodle were sent to me, via Karen, from my good friend, Rena! Thank you, my friend!

Now see what my friends have done with their words!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

My Chinny-Chin-Chin

She was sitting on my knee, studying my face as only a toddler can.

Wha's that, Gramma?" She pointed.
"My chin," I said helpfully.
"No, Gramma . . . that!" She pointed again.
"Oh, that's a scar, sweetheart."
She touched it. "Owww!" she said.
"It doesn't hurt, sweetheart. It's old. Like Gramma."
"Gramma got it from a cow."
She stared at me. Skepticism writ large in the two-year-old expression.  No way the gentle cows from the books we read could ever have given Gramma the two-inch scar she sported across her chin.
"Yep. A cow," I repeated.
So, for my granddaughter, and those who haven't heard the story . . .

Me and GollyGee. Ready for action...
I never used a saddle.
Only a 'riding pad'.
Tacking up was amazingly easier. Riding much more natural.
And no stirrups to get in the way.
But it afforded other . . . complications. For one thing you could never use a rope.
Nothing to dally to.
Chasing down and securing a calf presented . . . certain challenges.
But . . . Adapt. Adopt. Become adept. The theme song of ranch life.
I simply rode up beside them and leaned off to one side, catching said calf by the tail. Then I slid off on top of him. Or her.
It was fool proof.
Until I met Cow 175.
Head on.
But I am getting ahead of myself . . .
The day started out much as any other. I was 'riding herd'. Checking to see if anyone had calved, or needed help in doing so. I came across a small, obviously newborn calf hidden in the tall grass.
I should explain that a new cow mother will instruct her new calf to lie quietly until she returns.
I don't know how they do this. But they do.
The new little calves will simply lie there while you vaccinate them and check them over.
But the final step, the one where the calf is officially identified and tagged to match mama, is the trickiest.
Because this requires the attendance of said mama.
Imagine trying to pick out the mama when all the cows and calves . . . look the same.
I found that the best way was to straddle the calf and make 'distressed baby' noises. Guaranteed to encourage any mama to come on the run.
It worked.
Mama came.
Mama saw.
Mama attacked.
Now I should mention here that my Dad raised Polled Herefords. The breed known for their gentle dispositions. And the absence of horns. Thus the word 'polled'.
They don’t need them. Let's just say that if they had them, my scar would look a whole lot different.
And this story would have had a vastly different ending.
See that 'poll' on her head, between her ears? 
Avoid that.
Moving on . . .
175 hit me with the pointy part of her head. The part between her ears made entirely of bone.
I saw stars and quite a bit of the prairie as I left the calf.
In a summersault.
The culprit and her offspring wasted no time in vacating the area.
I got to my feet and stared after them, fuzzily. I had lost my glasses in the encounter. But that didn’t even slow me down.
I piled back onto my horse and started after the two, quickly nabbing the calf once more. This time, I took the precaution of dragging it beneath my horse—an old cowboy trick.
Something else you should know is that throughout my years on the ranch, I was known for riding really . . . ummm . . . green horses. Usually radically unsuited to ranch life. GollyGee, my mount of the moment was totally in keeping with this reputation. She was an ex-racehorse. Tall, lean, fast, and really . . . un-smart. Usually, a person walking anywhere near her would have startled her. Thus sending her, by the most direct route, to the moon.
And a person dragging something toward her? To Jupiter.
Perhaps the anger radiating off me in waves had a stupefying effect. Perhaps she was merely trying something new. Self preservation.
Whichever. She stood like a rock as I dragged the 50 pounds of protesting red and white calf beneath her.
Now most cows are afraid of horses. Fortunately for me, this particular cow was only over-protective, not suicidal.
She did laps while I injected and tagged her calf.
Then I stood up, releasing the baby, but before it could regain its feet and rejoin its mama, I walked over and booted said mama in her giant red butt. Twice.
I don't know what it did for her, but it made me feel a bit better.
Then I watched as the two of them headed for some human-less spot.
Riding back to the scene of the crime, I searched around until I finally discovered my glasses. Miraculously undamaged.
Then I rode home and stabled my horse.
And here is where the story really gets interesting . . .
My Mom was the daughter of a rancher. Her years of ranching experience were many and varied. But she could still be shocked.
When I walked in the kitchen door, she screamed. And ran for a towel. It was only then that I realized that I could feel the tip of my tongue.
Through my bottom lip.
And that my shirt was completely covered in blood.
Huh. How did I miss that?!

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Fired Up

‘T’ and his friends were digging a hole.

But not just any hole.

This was to be a hole of parts. Something stupendous. Mind blowing.

A hole to be remembered.

And it was.

Just for all the wrong reasons.

Maybe I should explain…

The boys had been digging for quite some time.

It probably seemed much longer to them than it was in reality, but that doesn’t matter.

Because, regardless of how long they had been digging, they were getting tired.

And bored.

Remember the saying, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’?

Well, tired muscles and boredom are the ‘Father’s of desperate creativity’. And yes, I just made that up.

Because these boys were ready to try anything to get their giant, stupendous hole in the ground.

Except work hard.

Then one of them had—what to him was—an astounding idea.

They would get their Olympic-sized hole.

And they wouldn’t have to do much work.

I think it was this last that got everyone’s attention.

They all looked at him sceptically. “How?”someone asked.

He explained that he had a bunch of fireworks and firecrackers.

Now he really had their attention!

“Let’s put them all in our hole and light them. The resulting explosion will do our work for us.”

Now you have to know that a group of little boys are definitely NOT going to turn down this idea.

They helped him gather up his fireworks…

And dump the entire mass into the hole.

All was good so far.

They lit the fuses.

Still okay.

And that was the precise moment ‘T’s’ mother came out into the yard to collect the laundry that had been drying on the line.

A job that put her in close proximity to the hole.

Oh, not close enough that the boys were worried about her safety.

Just close enough that they were worried about their own if she caught sight of what they were doing.

Meanwhile the fuses were still hissing happily away in the hole.

One of the boys got the brilliant idea of covering the hole (and their soon-to-be crime) with a sheet of plywood.

Which they did.

Then, as a last precaution, they all stood on said plywood.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. Boys standing on a flimsy sheet of plywood over a hole containing a boatload of explosives.

The good news? They got their hole.

The bad news?

They almost achieved orbit.

The explosives…erm…exploded.

The plywood disintegrated.

And several small boy bodies were tossed around like wood chips. (Which were also plentiful—owing to the shattering of their plywood Crime-cover.)

They survived.

I know you were worried so I thought I mention it.

But I think ‘T’s’ mom grounded him from explosives for the rest of his natural life—as well as that of any future children/grandchildren.

The hole may still be there.

Being used for something spectacular.

Well, that’s what I like to think…

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

My First Murder

Okay, I'm half-past excited here...
My newest book has just been released.
My first cozy murder mystery!

Harriet Ansen--Harrie to her friends--has spent the last 30 years as a stay-at-home mom/Grandma. With that training ongoing, she is ready to face a new challenge. Her first out-of-the-house job.
Beaumont's newest Real Estate agent.
Will her years of changing diapers, drilling spelling tests, dealing with testy coaches and serving on the PTA prepare her for what's next? For bickering (and seriously odd) relatives. Exotic animals. A philandering boss.
And murder?

I would love for you to read it. And then let me know if you figured it out!
Who knew murder could be fun? Well, writing about it anyway!
P.S. My internet search history is now seriously deranged and may get me flagged! ;)

Find Real Estates: All Murders Included in the Price at Amazon! In Kindle, Paperback and (new!) hardcover formats.

Monday, October 10, 2022


My friends and I were at the pub, we’d gone to have a drink,

We saw a man approach, then turn and give us all a wink,

The bundle he had ‘neath one arm, he set upon the bar,

Said, “Here’s a thing you’ll never see. Be it near or far!”

The bundle he’d set on the bar was squishy, had eight limbs,

This strange young man had gone and brought his octopus with him!

“Now everyone,” the man said to us, “I’ve a challenge here…

“My pet can play most anything. The cost to you? A beer!”

A man walked up and handed him a trumpet, gleaming gold,

The octopus, he took it. Played it long and loud and bold!

The man, surprised, just nodded and he bought the guy a beer,

Another came up with a sax. Said, “This I’d like to hear!”

Well that old mollusk took that sax and played like John Coltrane,

Another drink and more applause. The owner said, “Again?”

A trombone and a drum were brought. A tuba. Clarinet,

Each was played with verve and talent, each got better yet!

Then finally, a man approached with bagpipes. Yes, it’s true,

He said, “Here’s a challenge for your mollusk to get through!”

Well the owner simply shrugged and passed the pipes down to his pet,

He knew his octopus’d have no problem with this threat,

He closed his eyes, prepared to listen. Frowned when nothing came,

Looked down to see his octopus just staring, all aflame,

The mollusk moved in closer and the two, their limbs did link,

Said, “Baby! Nice pajamas! Can I offer you a drink?”

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 we'll make things sweet and real,
Discuss our fav Italian meal!

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!)...

Octopus (or something squishy) Today!

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

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