Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, April 7, 2023

Toddler Do

Who says the younger generation isn’t paying attention . . .?
My good friend, Jen, was having one of her ‘normal’ days.
Kids in school.
Kids at home.
She came upstairs from the laundry room.
To hear someone in the front room.
Now you have to know that Toddler Girl wasn’t yet making real words.
And the baby was rosily asleep in his crib.
Who could possibly be talking?
She dashed around the corner of the front room and skidded to a stop.
Toddler Girl had a baby doll wrapped up and tucked into the crook of one arm.
In her free hand, she held a toy telephone.
She was walking back and forth across the room bouncing her doll up and down in the approved ‘pacifying-the-baby’ manoeuver.
But it was what she was doing with the phone that really caught Jen’s attention.
She held it to her ear, babbled animatedly for a few seconds (with no recognizable words) and threw her head back and laughed out loud.
Then, as Jen watched, she repeated the whole exercise. Walk about jiggling the baby. Talk animatedly. Laugh uproariously.
Hmmm . . . I wonder where she picked that up?
They are watching.
And taking note.
I guess talking enthusiastically and laughing while taking care of the baby is a good thing for them to see.
And emulate.
Unlike my kids who caught me eating peanut butter out of the jar.
With a spoon.
And forever after . . .
Well. Enough said.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Phil and Chiefy

Thinking of the Old English Sheepdogs we have been privileged to have in our home.
It brought back a tender memory.
Of a little boy who loved one of them...
Okay. Picture him even smaller and glued to a dog...
Phil was a tiny boy.
Not yet two.
With the dubious honour of being both the youngest of the ‘Three Musketeers’ and of his family of seven.
He had been dropped off at Auntie and Uncle’s place for a few days while Mom and Dad took a brief holiday.
For the first few minutes, he followed sisters and brothers around the unfamiliar house, whimpering and trying to make sure they didn’t disappear.
Like his parents had done. 
Then he saw his Auntie’s three Old English Sheepdogs.
Tears were forgotten as his face brightened. 
His small world . . . changed.
For the next two days, Phil attached himself, quite literally, to the big male, Chiefy.
Whom, in his baby way, he thought was called ‘Chiefy-Sit’.
During that time, whenever Chiefy moved, it was with two small hands clutching fistfuls of long, grey hair and a little man toddling along as fast as he could, babbling, “Chiefy-Sit! Chiefy-Sit!”
When Chiefy finally did ‘sit’, Phil would pounce on him. Burying his little face in the soft, gray hair.
If Phil was distracted and moved away, Chiefy followed.
When the little boy slept in his crib, it was with one small hand through the bars, still clutching the long, soft hair.
They were quite literally, inseparable.
It was a short, sweet, two days.
But it ended.
Phil’s family moved away and visits were few and far between.
He grew up and Chiefy grew old.
They never saw each-other again.
Twenty years after this story, Husby and I travelled down to Portland, Oregon to witness Phil and his bride marry.
Since then, he’s become a father and graduated medical school.
He is a plastic surgeon now.
All grown up.
But in my mind, he will always be that little boy.
Clutching the soft grey hair of his short-term furry best friend. . .

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Backed Up

Ah. The good old days . . .
I had to take a couple of horses to auction.
One of the more painful aspects of ranching . . .
In the old days, when I was ranching with my parents, a truck and trailer (chosen from the selection on hand) would appear magically outside the ranch house, loaded and ready to go compliments of my dad or my next older brother.
Oh, the good old days.
This new ranching-on-my-own required much more forethought.
I had the horses.
And the pickup.
What I needed was a trailer.
A rental was indicated.
As an absolute neophyte in this area, I did what one did back then.
Went to the Yellow Pages.
Huh. Did you know there were dozens of companies whose sole purpose was to supply one with the best, biggest, lightest, heaviest, sleekest, cleanest, most-efficient, strongest, easiest-to-pull, prettiest (okay, I added that one), most-amazing trailer in the area?
Well there are.
I chose the nearest dealer.
And a trailer that looked like one of Dad’s.
Better the evil you know . . .
I drove over and, trying to look like I had done this all my life, hooked up to my newly-borrowed piece of equipment.
Okay, that part was easy. Back up the truck as near to the trailer hitch as possible.
Or until the attendant hollered, “Whoa!”
And hook up.
Okay. From that point I was more-or-less comfortable. I had pulled a trailer many times in my life. My real problems arose when I tried something new.
Like backing up with said trailer attached.
This is where I admit that my brother or Dad had always done the ‘intricate’ work.
Have you ever tried this?
Backing up a trailer, I mean.
It’s perverse.
You have to turn the controller vehicle in the complete opposite direction you want the trailer to go.
All the while looking backward over your shoulder.
It’s like trying to write something on a wall behind you by looking in a mirror.
Everything screams at you to turn the other way.
Usually while your spotter/attendant is screaming at you to do it right.
I did make it to the auction.
Horses, truck and trailer intact.
And, after much, MUCH backing up and re-backing up and adjusting and backing up again, and attendants sweating and swearing, finally moved the trailer close enough to the ramp to off-load two confused and rather dizzy horses.
Then I got the heck out of there.
I stopped at the ranch to clean out the trailer.
A nervous horse is a poopy horse.
Just FYI.
And I took the trailer back.
Now, when I had picked up the behemoth, it had been parked among its fellows in a neat line.
Second from the end.
When collecting it, I had only needed to back the truck, hook on, and leave.
Returning the trailer wasn’t going to be as easy.
I would need to maneuver it, without scarring its fellows on either side, back into its home.
The key word here is ‘back’. 
I was sweating before I even drove into the yard.
The attendant cheerfully indicated my parking spot.
Yep. Right where I expected.
Cue the Hitchcock violin music . . .Eeee! Eeee! Eeee! Eeee!
I pulled ahead and shoved the truck into reverse.
Then, taking a deep breath, pressed down on the gas.
And slid in as neatly and perfectly as any trailer-jockey out there.
On my first try.
The trick then was to try to not look as surprised as the attendant.
And to keep the swagger (mostly caused by relief) out of my walk as I helped unhook.
And to suppress the desire to turn hand-springs on my way back to the truck.
Yep. Sometimes, the planets align.
All things work together.
And one is allowed to feel that sense of accomplishment that goes with a job well (and perfectly) done.
Not often.
But sometimes.
Enjoy it while it lasts . . .

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Planning the Glue-ing

It was THE assignment.
The one the teacher had been threatening promising since the beginning of the year.
That was worth 50% of my final mark.
Yes. THAT assignment.
She had handed it out shortly after the Christmas break.
We had three months to complete it.
Due Date: April 1.
Feverishly, I set to work.
Researched. (And just so you know, research was a lot harder back then. It involved such things as: books. Physically turning pages. Trips to the *gasp* library. Looking things up in the card catalog. Knowing the Dewey Decimal System. Becoming close friends with the librarian. Yikes.)
Drew up draft after draft.
Put on the finishing touches.
Slept soundly the night of March 31, wrapped warmly in the knowledge that I had completed the assignment to the best of my ability and that, surely, an 'A' was forthcoming.
Okay, now forget everything I wrote from the line "Due Date: April 1."
Because this is what really happened.
Then March 31 dawned.
And with it, the knowledge that I should . . . you know . . . make a start on the assignment.
What was it again?
A trip to the library was out of the question. We lived 20 miles from town and 'no way one of my parents was going to pay for my slothfulness' .
I'm quoting my father BTW.
I turned to the only resources available.
The cook.
The hired men.
The encyclopedia Britannica.
And the National Geographic.
With occasional queries to my siblings.
And my horse.
Just FYI, that last was a total waste of time. He didn't know anything.
If  Necessity is the Mother of invention, then Desperation is its Father.
And I was truly desperate. (Hence said query to my horse.)
I sifted purposefully through Dad's stack of National Geographics (see above).
Chose a topic at random.
And started in.
Now, just so you know, Dad had problems with us kids cutting up his precious magazines.
But if you hid said magazines really, really well . . .
I don't remember what topic I chose.
But I do remember that there were plenty of colourful pictures that supported it. And as long as I cut using the correct scissors (Diane! You'd better not be using my sewing scissors?!) my biggest decision remained: Do I use this picture? Or the one on the other side ?
Fortunately, Mom had a store of poster board. I'm not sure why. Maybe because she had dealt with Procrastinator #4 (ie. me) before.
But there was one thing she did not have.
A bottle of glue.
And no it wasn't because I had eaten said glue.
This bottle, my smaller siblings had eaten.
True story.
No way you could get them to eat broccoli. But give them a bottle of processed horse hooves and they were on it!
Where was I?
Oh, yes. Glue.
Or the lack thereof.
Then Mom made the momentous announcement: "If you mix flour and water into a thick paste, it sticks really well."
The day is mine!
I mixed and slathered and pasted.
And slathered and pasted.
And pasted.
And . . . you know what? It didn't work at all!
But by now, March 31 had rapidly turned into April 1 and the bus was coming.
I packaged up my 'project' and headed out.
Kathy was proudly showing the culmination of months of preparation when I got on the bus. I don't remember her topic, but I think it had flashing neon lights and maybe an actual working model of a machine that turned lead into gold. Complete with lead. And gold.
Yeah, Kathy was amazing like that.
When she asked me about mine, I quickly changed the subject: "Oh my! Look! Balog's cows are out!"
Yeah, I was clever that way.
Shortly thereafter, I turned in my project along with the others and happily forgot about it.
I think I received a "Diane would have gotten a better grade if she'd spent more time on this assignment."
Who listened?
P.S. Years later, I discovered my assignment stuffed into a file in the back of Mom's file cabinet. And guess what? Those pictures were stuck so tight an act of God wouldn't have removed them.
Flour and water do work.
You just have to . . . plan ahead . . .

Monday, April 3, 2023

Mapped Out

Husby and I like to travel, it’s true,
There’s so many things now to see…and to do,
We’ve been known to travel by car or by air,
But things have sure changed with this travel affair.
Now when we go, we use cell phones and apps,
In earlier days we relied on our maps,
As he was the driver, most places, most times,
I had to navigate—NOT so sublime.
I’d figure out routes and mark them carefully,
Then spy out the exits and stops we would need,
“This is our exit!” I would say, all excited,
It was just like the weather report I recited...
Directing and pointing while guiding our mission
A little bit louder with each repetition.
Cause he of the steering control, he did not
Listen to me, despite how loud I got!
But the most aggravating aspect of this,
He drove us straight there, with nary a miss,
I would find us 8 ways to reach our destination,
But he simply drove with his ‘map aberration’!
We learned we could travel, we just learned what worked,
As long as the maps I did dutifully shirk,
Oddly, we two never argued, or worse,
The map simply stayed right there—tucked in my purse.
But now when we travel, we use GPS,
I type in the address with studied finesse,
And he simply follows, doesn’t dispute his choice
He never will argue with that sexy voice!

Years ago, I saw Foster Brooks at a roast for Jimmy Stewart.
For those who don't know, Foster Brooks was a stand-up comedian whose 'schtick' was acting drunk.
I thought he was hilarious.
Here, he discusses being the navigator for Jimmy Stewart during the Second World War.

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?

With the return of goose and loon...
Golfing season's starting soon!

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!)...
Maps (April 3) Today!
Golf (April 10)
Safety Pins (April 17)
Pigs in Blankets (April 24)
Rhinos (May 1)
Socks (May 8)
Chocolate Chip (May 15)
Musical Instruments (May 22)
Compost (May 29)

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?