Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, November 18, 2022

Cheap But Expensive

That day.
Missing: The pants
My siblings and I loved to ski.
Our Dad had introduced us to it the winter I turned eight and it had become a . . . habit.
Well, actually more of a fixation, but we'll go with habit.
We went every chance we could get.
And scoured the catalogs for new and wonderful accessories for our grand passion.
I had just made my first official 'ski' purchase.
New ski pants.
They were expensive.
But gorgeous.
Dark brown.
Perfect fit.
I was going to wow everyone on that hill! I couldn't do it with my skiing. This was the next best thing.
I should explain, here, that ski pants in the 60s weren't the stretchable remarkable cloth that we have now.
Something which will figure largely in my story later.
But they had little side zippers at the ankles and dark elastics that slid under your foot.
They were nifty (real word).
Happily, I donned them and my brother and I were off.
Now, I should explain, here, that Big Mountain in Whitefish Montana was a wonderful place to ski.
There were numerous slopes.
Each with its own particular brand of ski tow.
I always chose the expert slope.
Not that I could actually ski the expert slope.
For two other reasons.
  1. It had a ski trail that wound around behind and through the wonderful forest, and
  2. The trail came out at the top of the Intermediate slope, allowing the skier to then ski to the bottom. Oh. And . . .
  3. Be comparatively unharmed.
It was the best of all worlds.
I made my first run to the top of the expert slope.
Got my limbs more-or-less together and headed for the mouth of the trail.
It was stunningly beautiful.
The sun was shining.
There had just been a fresh fall of snow - over a foot of sparkling, fluffy whiteness blanketed the landscape.
I took a deep, satisfying breath of the spicy air, slid onto the trail and for the next 20 minutes, was in heaven.
Finally, the trail ended.
I slid quickly out onto the slope only to discover that it hadn't yet been touched by . . . anything.
It was still in it's pristine, just-been-snowed-on condition.
Breathtakingly beautiful.
It took me a few moments to discover that this could also present a problem.
Let me explain . . .
The trail I had been on had been fairly packed and my skis were still on that level.
They hadn't yet adjusted to the extra foot of fluffy snow.
I was sliding along with everything below my knees hidden in the fresh stuff.
For a second, it was fun.
Then, it wasn't. 
I hit something.
I never discovered what it was. Rock. Lump of ice. Tree stump. Yesterday's skier.
It stopped me.
And I wasn't prepared.
My body, already bent forward in my best 'snowplow' position, bent further. In fact, I whacked my forehead painfully on my knees.
Something I wish I could do today.
But I digress . . .
My glasses popped off into the deep snow.
Oh, rats.
I rubbed my head and scrabbled around in the snow, finally, triumphantly, extracting my glasses.
Then I straightened. And felt a draft.
Remember what I had said about my ski pants being not stretchy?
This would be where that fact comes into play.
When my body had done its 'fold-in-half' trick, it proved to be something my new pants had been completely unprepared for.
They split from waistband to waistband, right along the crotch.
I was now effectively wearing two pant legs.
Held up with a narrow strip of cloth at the top.
I definitely needed a longer coat.
Or a loincloth.
And this was the first run of the day.
I made the run down the slope as carefully and unobtrusively as possible, then sneaked to the car and my suitcase.
The change from my new, albeit flimsy, ski pants to my usual jeans was accomplished in a minimum of time and a maximum of scrambling. In the wide rear seat.
I mean the wide rear seat.
Not the wide rear seat.
Never mind . . .
And I was back on the slope.
I learned something that day.
Expensive can sometimes mean cheap.
It just costs more.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Finding One's Manners

Q teaching manners to Uncle.

Manners are important in youngest daughter’s family.

Something she and her husby are trying to instill in their children.

One of the words they are trying to limit/purge from their family vocabulary is ‘stupid’.

Their success is…patchy.

Case in point:

Youngest daughter of youngest daughter (hereinafter called Q) was talking to her mom. At some point in her discourse came the phrase, “Mom is so stupid”. Wherein, a horrified look crossed her little face and she instantly and loudly juggled in the word, ‘SILLY’.

Then Q, still obviously dismayed, stared at her mom. She blinked. “Ummm….I don’t know what happened,” she said at last. “My manners fell out of my head!”

Running over to the garbage, she flipped back the lid. “There they are!”

Learning to be well-mannered isn’t always measurably successful.

But it sure can be entertaining!

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Halloween PSL

A guest post by Blair Stringam. 

It was Halloween and I was the mature age of 12. 
Too old to go house to house for treats.
So my friends and I were down on main street in our small town, trying to figure out how much mischief we could get into without it being too much.
We were likely remembering the stories of Halloweens past when our older siblings got thrown into our local jail and then broke out (a great story that Diane has told).
We were trying to find our own unique expression of mischief when some kids from our group thought of hauling junk from the back alleys and piling it in the middle of main street.
A really good idea (NOT!).
Two of my hockey buddies and I went into the back alley and found a large, empty wooden spool. We thought it would be a great candidate for our growing pile.
Now I should point out here that said spool probably weighed 200 lbs. or more so the only way for us to move it was to get it rolling.
Which we did.
When we neared our growing ‘art project’ (we were enlightened in our small town!) we thought simply adding the spool seemed a bit boring. So we decided we would wheel the spool up the street to the north. There was a slight slope and we thought it would be great to let the spool roll down the street and crash into our collection.
Once we pushed the spool up the street about 400 yards, we let it go.
The spool slowly started rolling.
About then, we assumed that we wouldn’t get the spectacular crash that we hoped for, so we started pushing.
The spool really started to pick up speed/momentum and we could see that the weight of it was going to provide a spectacular crash when it hit our community youth art project. However, as the spool got closer, I realized it was starting to veer off to one side.
It was heavy and moving fast by this time and I couldn’t figure out how to steer it back to our intended target.
Sure enough, when the spool arrived at our sculpture, it just skimmed the side and continued down the street.
We stared in horror. It was now headed for a muscle car sporting an amazing paint job that belonged to one of the guys who worked on the local oil rigs and who was presently imbibing at the local bar.
At this point, I realized we were in a great deal of trouble. The spool had picked up quite the momentum. My two buddies were not making any effort to try to help.  Perhaps they were just as surprised as me.
I ran down to the spool and tried to stop it. But it had too much momentum. There was no way I could, even if I (ouch) stood in front of it.
I decided to try to give the spool a hockey hip check. I bent my knees and pushed my hip into the side of the spool as hard as I could.
Remember where I said the spool weighed about 200 lbs? I weighed about 120 lbs. Soaking wet. And holding an anvil.
I bounced lightly off the side like a gnat.
However, I did manage to alter its trajectory.
It was once more running down the center of the street.
Some of my hockey buddies joined me and we were able to (finally) slow it down and stop it.
We then rolled it back to our sculpture and tipped it over.
Once, I was sure that the spool was not going to cause any unscheduled modifications to the motor vehicles, I went home to bed.
I may have not had the wild Halloween story to tell like my older siblings, but at this point I was too emotionally drained to care.
Halloween is hard.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Sleeping Through the Exciting Part

As with many things, the roots of this story go way, way back. To the joyous and much-anticipated birth of a baby.
A planned ‘welcome to the world sweet, precious girl’ party.
And real/imagined slights.
So here we go… 

Way back in the 1400’s, Princess Aurora was born to goodly parents. These parents, the king and queen of the land had been awaiting this birth for what seemed forever.
And they were just a tad…excited?

Assuming that the rest of the country would want to celebrate their glorious news with them, they announced a grand party where there would be much…erm…celebrating. Games and contests. Food. Dancing. Talk and laughter.
And, of course, gift-giving.


Invitations were sent to nearly every household. And, amazingly, RSVP’s were soon pouring in.
I know what you’re thinking. Few people RSVP any more. They just show up.
But go with me on this. It is a Fairy Tale… 

The day arrived and so did the crowd. Soon, the party was hitting on all cylinders.
Oh, wait. This is the 1400’s.
The party was hitting on all hooves.
More accurate?
People were playing. Dancing. Eating. Doing ‘party’ stuff.
Then the all-important gift-giving time arrived. I don’t know about you, but I love that time!
And cake. I love cake.
There were the usual gifts.
Baby dresses enough for 1000 babies.
A boatload of silver spoons.
At least one set of sheets. (Who invited that kid?!)
And then the Fairy Godmothers showed up.
Now one really never knows when this will happen. They’re kind of on their own schedule.
Thus the lack of anticipation/preparation.
Now the first Fairy endowed sweet Aurora—magically—with beauty.
Cause who wants a plain princess?
Okay, that’s a whole other issue—moving on…
The second FG endowed her with the gift of song.
No sour notes there. 
The third had just pulled out her wand when the ‘oops-oh-dear-really?-you-didn’t-get-your-invitation?-how-did-that-happen-it-must-have-been-addressed-wrong’ guest arrived.
Just a mite vexed at the oversight.
‘Mite vexed’. *snort*
You should see her when she really gets going!
Despite not receiving an invitation—whatever the reason—this uninvited guest (UIG for short) pulls out her wand and, with a sly smile, bestows her own gift.
Something that would actually be delivered by spindle on little Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday.
Yes, I know. Hardly an appropriate gift at a gala celebrating ‘life’.
Maybe there really was a reason her invitation went ‘astray’.
Just sayin’…
Then she vanished.
Huh. Didn’t even stay for cake.
Ummm…I’ll have her slice if no one minds.
Back to my story…
Needless to say, the party was pretty much over at that point.
A death sentence can do that.
The third FG stepped up.
She couldn’t stop that gift. It had already been ordered.
But she could…change…it.
Instead of ‘death’, she could commute it to ‘sleep’.
Not so different!
I know people who sleep like the dead already!
No sooner said than done.
Then, in order to ensure no one (ie. disgruntled UIG’s) could sneak in and cause further unannounced complications, little Aurora was sent with her FGM’s deep into the forest.
And all spindles were burned.
I guess cloth would be ordered in for the next 16+ years.
That night, Aurora and her three guardians left the castle to take up lodgings in the ubiquitous ‘somewhere’.
Without magic or anything else that would call attention.
And there the four of them stayed.
The three FGM’s who couldn’t ‘magic’.
And one royal personage who couldn’t ‘princess’.
Strangely enough, the girl thrived.
No real word on how the FGM’s truly did.
But at least they survived.
Of course there’s also the little side story of incognito Aurora meeting and falling for a bona-fide prince hours short of her all-important 16th.
And said prince thereafter being captured and imprisoned by that same UIG.
The 16 years passed. The three dutiful FGM’s brought her back to the castle and her pining loved-ones.
A word on her parents through all this.
I know for sure I would have been.
What are your thoughts?
But, unbeknownst to everyone else, the UIG was waiting.
With a spinning wheel she had been saving for just such an occasion.
She coerced Aurora into touching the nasty spindle.
And the curse/counter curse clicked into place.
The FGM’s discovered her apparently-lifeless-but-only-sleeping body and ensconced her in a soft-and-comfortable bed.
Hey you picture it how you want.
Me? If I’m going to be there a while, I want soft and comfortable!
Then, to derail (oops 1400’s!) sidetrack any more pain and heartache, they put all the rest of the kingdom to sleep as well.
Because the only thing that could break the IUG’s nasty spell was true love’s first kiss.
And who knew how long that would take?
I’m sure I’m not giving away too much if I remind you of Aurora’s sweet prince imprisoned in the IUG’s ‘guest quarters’.
He’s not getting out of there any time soon.
Well, not without a little interference from the aforementioned FGM’s.
Something you should probably know: Never underestimate FGM’s.
And their trusty—not rusty despite 16 years of being stuck in a closet—wands.
Those beggars are made to last!
The FGM’s manage to break the prince out of said prison.
Endow him with power to destroy the UIG.
Then watch as he fights said UIG and then leaves her as a moldering heap of sword-skewered former greatness.
The prince, again led by the FGM’s, finds his way back to Aurora’s castle where his true love lies somewhere in an upper chamber.
Dreaming of True Love’s kiss.
I’m assuming. I was unsuccessful in finding any personal interviews.
The prince sees her lying there looking…totally attractive…
Okay, here is where I wonder about the whole ‘beautifully asleep’ scenario.
Does no one in Fairy Tales drool?
Awaken with lines completely spider-webbing one cheek? And really bad breath/hair?
The prince, overcome with love, gives Aurora Love’s First Kiss.
Whereupon (good word) she awakens.
I should point out there was none of the expected screaming, “There’s a MAN in my room!”
Wherein her father appears, sword in hand.
Just a sweet smile.
The reaching out of a soft hand.
And two young people—together at last—appearing at the top of a great staircase…
Another thing. What’s with great staircases in Fairy Tales?
One word: Arthritis.
The spell is broken. The young sweethearts are together at last.
The UIG is a rotting heap at the bottom of a nearby cliff.
What else could we add here?
Oh, you’re right.
And they lived happily ever after.

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

This month’s word count number is: 39
It was chosen by: ME! 

Here are the links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out! 

BakingIn ATornado                    


Monday, November 14, 2022

Pickles Becoming

 I love pickles, yes, I do, you know they make me smile,

Cause they add ‘zip’ to sandwiches; and to my snacks, add style,

I find it quite amazing though, that plain cucumbers can

Turn into something so much more than what they first began,

And there’s a lesson for us all from those modest beginnings,

And we can learn that there’s a step ‘tween fa-il-ing and winning,

It isn’t always easy, turning ‘meh’ into delish,

Likewise, it’s usually difficult becoming what you wish,

So just remember what I say: 'cause here is my two cents…

Becoming perfect pickles takes a ‘jarring’ experience!

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?

In, or eating, come and see,
Which 'Pickle' topic there will be!

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!)...

Pickles (In or eating!) (November 14) Today!

Giving Thanks! (November 21)
French Toast--or Breakfast (November 28)
Mittens (December 5)
Poinsettia -or- Potted Plants (December 12)
Muffins (December 19)
Candy Canes (December 26)
Treasure (January 2)
Stuffed animals (Januray 9)
Get lost (January 16)
Clocks (January 23)
Time (January 30)

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

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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?