Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, March 10, 2023


Twice a week, and sometimes more, the wonderful aroma of freshly-baked bread wafted through the Stringam home.
It was followed, almost immediately, by the sight of children munching great slices of fresh yumminess, thickly spread with fresh butter.
I wasn't one of them.
Oh, I loved Mom's bread.
It was amazing.
And I definitely was munching.
But I chose a unique - ie. weird - way of doing it.
Often to be followed by my Mom saying, “Diane! I work hard to make perfectly good, soft bread! Why do you do that to it?!”
She said this because . . . I squished it.
Into a tight little ball.
Which I - then - ate.
Mom would watch, in disgust, as I took my slice of freshly-baked awesomeness.
Quickly peeled off and ate the crust.
Pressed and molded the rest.
Then nibbled.
I have no idea why I did this.
Maybe it was because I had seen the screen cowboys eating little balls of bread out of their saddlebags.
Okay, it looked like little balls of bread.
I didn't realize that what they were eating was, in fact, biscuits.
I wasn't known for my powers of observation and deduction.
Ahem . . .
I no longer eat bread this way.
There are a couple of drawbacks.
The biggest one being that it's rather hard to spread any significant amount of peanut butter and/or nutella on a tightly pressed ball of dough.
And, let's face it, bread is just the medium by which such things are ingested.
And, in a choice between eating balls of dough or getting nutella to the mouth?
Even the cowboys would agree with me.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Barbie Battles

Okay. She's tougher than she looks . . .
My little brother and sister were playing.
Something they wasted a lot of time doing.
When they could have been involved with much more productive pursuits.
Like me.
Sitting in the chair, reading.
Fiery, three-year-old Anita had a new Barbie doll.
She was combing its hair and dressing and undressing.
Happily absorbed in what she was doing.
Placid, five-year-old Blair had been playing with some of his toys.
Also happily absorbed.
Then he noticed Anita’s activities.
This looked interesting.
He watched for a few minutes.
Finally, his curiosity had to be addressed.
“May I see it?” he asked.
I should point out that he asked politely.
Blair was always polite.
Still is, but that is another story.
Moving on . . .
Anita looked at him. “Sure,” she said, grabbing her new Barbie by its feet and holding it out.
Blair moved closer.
He reached out.
Whereupon (good word) Anita lifted her Barbie and whacked him over the head with it.
“See!” she said.
“Ouch!” Blair rubbed his head. “Whydja do that?”
But Anita was back to playing.
“I guess I won’t look at it then,” he said.
Of course there were reports and repercussions.
Punishment was meted out.
And all was forgiven.
But not forgotten.
Who was it who said revenge is a dish best served cold?
This Barbie dish has been waiting a looong time.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Using Clean Words

Probe, (n): a parlor game introduced in the 1960s by Parker Brothers. It is reminiscent of the simple two-person game Hangman, whose object is to guess a word chosen by another player by revealing specific letters. Probe extends the number of players to a maximum of four and introduces additional game elements that increase the levels of both skill and chance. Like Hangman, each player has a secret chosen word. But unlike Hangman, the game ends when the last word, not the first word, is revealed. All players remain in the game until the end.

Enough background . . .
My Father-In-Law, Ray (hereinafter known as Dad), loved games. But one of his favourites was the game of Probe. He loved the challenge of guessing his fellow players’ words.
And he really loved the challenge of coming up with nasty, horrible, very, very difficult words.
Particularly words containing letter such as ‘Z’ or ‘X’ or ‘Q’ or ‘K’.
Or multiples of the same.
Sneaky devil . . .
Dad loved this part of the game so much that he kept a list of words he encountered.
I am not making this up.
In his breast pocket, he kept a list of words he had read or heard that would surely stump his opponents in future games of Probe.
Such words as: acquire (a ‘c’ and a ‘q’? Come on!!!). Galax (wha . . .?). Abuzz (took us a while with that one!). Katharometer (okay, now you’re just making stuff up . . .).
So while I was composing such stumpers as rhododendron, he was crafting masterpieces like: xenophobia. Now how do you compete with that?
It got so that, when any of us sat down to play the game with him, we’d see that list come out, and hear the distant drums that signalled our impending doom.
But my Mother-In-Law beat him.
Okay, I don’t mean actually ‘beat’ him, although there were times (Particularly when he dipped into that pocket and emerged with that list) . . .
No. I mean that she fixed him and his little list of stinkers for good.
And she wasn’t even playing the game.
How? You ask as you prepare to play your own game and are looking for an edge . . .
Simple. She waited for laundry day and washed his list.
When he complained long and loud about her actions, she snickered and said, “Well, they were dirty words. I just had to clean them up!”
Of course she claimed forevermore that it really was an accident. And that she’d never actually meant to do it.
But we knew.
She was simply getting payback for trying to guess such posers as: zomotherapy. And: quadriform
Yep. We knew.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Fort-i-Fied Breakfast

Today is National Cereal Day.
What to say... What to say...

The most – interesting – meal of the day.
Mom believed in beginning the day with a good, hot, hearty meal.
Bacon. Sausage. Eggs. Pancakes. Waffles. Ham. Fruit. Muffins. Fresh bread. Cinnamon buns. French toast.
A breakfast milkshake that included eggs and fruit. And occasionally, chocolate.
She mixed and matched.
And pure deliciousness emerged.
But sometimes, she allowed us kids to graze.
Okay, her version of grazing was to set out a plethora of cold cereal boxes and let us take our pick.
Funny how kids accustomed to ‘home-cooked’ can think ‘store-bought’ is a real treat.
But we did.
We happily selected and poured and sugared and crunched.
Except for big brother George.
He did all of that . . . and built a fort.
His breakfast fort.
And, because he did it, and made it look like fun, I had to do it too.
Did you know it’s possible to sit at the same table with someone and never even catch a glimpse of them?
Well, it is.
With a little ingenuity.
And a lot of cereal boxes.
George would set a large cereal box on either side of his bowl. Then add a third to connect the first two.
Cereal box fort.
Private and exclusive.
One could eat one’s bowl of awesomeness and never even know that one had breakfast companions.
Well, until Mom came, demolished one’s fort with her genius for quick and effective relocation and a, “Stop doing that, you two. We need to see each other’s bright and smiling faces in the morning!”
To which George would inevitably reply, "My face isn't bright and smiling!"
Yeah. Cereal boxes. They can hide so much.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Baker 2.0


My blonde-haired son with eyes of brown,
Who rode his bike all over town,
He’d reached the grand old age of nine,
Had learned so much in all that time.

But mostly, how he loved to eat,
My cookies were a special treat,
He’d lick a beater, taste the dough,
Then grab some cookies, off he’d go.

But soon, my boy just wanted to
Find out how he could make them. True.
And so he learned and soon discovered,
His baking had surpassed his mother's.

Tonight he joined us in our home,
He brought his wife, six kids along,
We laughed and talked and had such fun,
‘Twas hard to think it'd soon be done.

The grandkids said they had a yen...
Our boy went to the kitchen then,
And set the oven, got some ‘stuff’,
Then added till he had enough.

It only took a moment, till,
He, all his kids’ dreams, he’d fulfilled,
And cookies warm were on display,
Enough to last till end of day.

And now, it was his mom. (T’was so!)
Who licked the beaters, tasted dough,
Then, as the cookies, warm, emerged
Stole a few, by hunger urged.

We gathered them (just one more bite!),
To send with folks into the night,
I watched him pack up kids and then,
I thought of ‘now’ and thought of ‘when’.

It’s not so long since he was nine,
And still so young and still all mine,
Where did the years all pass away?
Did this not happen yesterday?

Today is his. It’s his turn now,
I wouldn’t change things anyhow...
I wave to them from on the porch.
I've happ'ly passed the 'cookie' torch!


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 try us out for size...
Our theme will be BUTTERFLIES!

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!)...
Cookies (March 6) Today!
Butterflies (March 13)
Buzzards (March 20)
Celebrating Earth Day (March 27)
Maps (April 3)
Golf (April 10)
Safety Pins (April 17)
Pigs in Blankets (April 24)

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God's Tree

God's Tree
For the Children

Third in the series

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Deborah. Fugitive of Faith

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Hugs, Delivered.

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New Tween Novel!

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A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.


My novel, Carving Angels

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Read it! You know you want to!

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic

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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

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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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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
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