Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, May 19, 2023

Bringing Up Gramma

My sometimes ride. And chauffeur.

Looking forward to school’s end and the start of the summer holiday. Because...

For many of you, the statement: ‘The Tolley family tends to spend a lot of their summer outside on bicycles’ will come as no surprise.
I’m almost sure I’ve mentioned it before.
And it's true.
Every morning, weather permitting, we saddle-up—Grampa, Gramma and as many of the chicks and chicklets as are out of bed and/or conscious.
With 27 members of our family living within town limits, at times it’s quite a group.
But the fact that we live in a community riddled with small lakes and a veritable web of biking trails makes the whole thing . . . in a word . . . easy.
Even taking into account that our town crowns the highest hill for miles and there is, of necessity, a lot of up-ing and down-ing.
With such a trail of cyclists, it’s a blessing that we have to cross only the occasional major street.
Our mishaps have been relatively few.
In fact, the only people who have pitched off their bikes are Granddaughter #4 (our newest little rider) . . . and Grandma.
And guess which one holds the record?
And yet I still insist on going.
Finally, sitting on a park bench, putting yet another band-aid on Grandma's much-abused knee, and while the kids played at that day’s choice of park, Daughter #1 came up with an ingenious solution. One, I should point out, that would still allow Grandma to continue on the rides, but would be marginally safer and include two-wheeled death traps only peripherally.
Ahem . . .
Her answer? Pump Grandma full of helium, tie a string to her ankle, and float her along behind one of the bikes.
Like a balloon.
Can’t you just see it?
Her idea sparked all kinds of responses: “Ahhhh Reel me in! Low bridge! Low brid . . .!” and “Kids! Power li . . .zzzzaaaap!” and the ever popular: “I told you not to untie Grandma! Now we’ll never get her back!” That little beauty was also followed closely by: “Good thing we wrote her address on her forehead!”
There were suggestions of “Old Air/Wind/Gas bag” and something to do with “being full of hot air”. But by that point, I was already on my bike and halfway out of the parking lot.
My family’s for sale if you want them.
You get the idea . . .

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Entertained at the Old Watering Hole

Or you could do it that way . . .
There was no lawnmower in the early days on the Berg Ranch.
When the grass got long, the hay mower could be used, but in smaller areas, this proved impossible.
One had to get creative.
The four-footed lawnmowers were brought out.
Usually, the well-trained saddlehorses would take care of the problem—filling their bellies and tidying the area at the same time.
But one year, three Angus bulls were given the job. They spent their days tethered out among the trees, contentedly munching the long grass and growing fat in the cool shade.
For water, someone would untie them, lead them across the yard to the trough by the barn, then take them back to continue their ‘work’.
It worked well. Till the ‘incident’.
Anyone who has lived on (or near) a farm can tell you that there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ day.
Usually, the dust-ups and uh-ohs are just something to laugh at.
And, fortunately, that was the case here.
One evening, several of my Berg uncles were leading the three members of their lawn maintenance crew to water. Grampa Berg happened to be standing there beside the trough as they approached.
Meanwhile, across the barnyard, two salesmen in a car slid to a stop. Seeing Grampa out in the yard, they started toward him.
All went well to this point. Bulls. Uncles. Grampa. Salesmen.
Now the bulls were used to their Berg attendants. And knew all of them by sight.
But these salesmen were new and strange.
The bulls decided they were worth investigating.
At a run.
Towing the boys.
The salesmen were understandably alarmed. And decided, individually and collectively, that their best course was to run.
Which they did.
Right into each other.
Resulting in two stunned salesmen trying to crawl away along the ground.
The bulls stopped short and stared. Yep. Here was definitely something new . . .
I know you'll agree with me that there is all kinds of entertainment for us humans at our local ‘watering holes’.
Turns out it’s the same for the four-footed variety as well.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

A Frog-ly Prince

Okay, yes, I’m taking a little bit of ‘poetic license’ here. Even though this couldn’t remotely be considered a poem. Ahem…
Remember the story of SnowWhite? Wherein a girl lived with seven men, married an eighth and no one thought it remarkable?
Well SnowWhite’s ‘happily-ever-after’ included a teenaged daughter who loved to play with a golden ball her father gave her.

I am not making this up (though someone obviously did…). Nope. Beautiful Princess Penelope had a golden ball—her favourite toy.

Now one day whilst happily playing in the garden, she lost the aforementioned ball of golden. You know how these happen.

You throw something into the air and it lands…elsewhere. Husby does it all the time with garbage and the trash receptacle.

Well it happened this time vis-à-vis ball and the nearby stupidly-deep (Penelope’s description) well. Tears ensued. And a princess-ly tantrum.

Stemmed only when a very small voice at Penelope’s feet spoke up. “Princess. I can get your ball for you!”

Admittedly, it took a while for our sweet princess to even hear the voice, openly and vocally aggrieved as she was.

But finally, she began to pay attention to the large frog at her feet. The one…you know…speaking. Human words.

Now I’ve caught a lot of frogs, what with my riverside upbringing, and never have any of them talked to me.

And, trust me, I’ve coaxed. But this one did. He told Penelope he could fetch her precious ball. For a price.

She was definitely listening now. If he didn’t have her at ‘Hello, Princess’, he definitely had her at ‘Pay me!’

The price? She had to let him eat from her plate at every meal and sleep on her pillow at bedtime.

She agreed. Because…ball. But let’s face it, she probably didn’t really think things through. A frog at bed, bath and beyond?

I know what my parents would have said. DID say. I can still hear their loudly-voiced veto from the distance of decades.

But her tearful pleas and/or her convincing story of family honour resting on the fulfillment of a contract did the trick.

She suddenly had a very entertaining and talkative new roommate. One who was with her morning, noon and night. Quite literally.

The two grew to be friends. The princess even graduated the frog from pocket to pillow transportation. A big leap. (Snort.)

Then the frog’s next request was voiced. (That’s the thing about frogs. Give them an inch; they swim all over you.)

An itty bitty kiss. I’m quite sure the princess at least…blinked. That’s quite a request. Even from a best-friend talking frog.

But, hey. I mean, they’d been friends for days now. And what’s a kiss between friends? She considered it a moment.

Then shrugged, held the frog up…and kissed it. Right on the big ol’ ‘kisser’. Can anyone say ‘Ew?’ Oh, yeah. Me.

Immediately, or maybe sooner, the frog began to shimmer. Then shiver. Then change from a…frog…into something a heck-of-a-lot more human-ish.

Before she knew it, Penelope was staring at a full-grown man. In her bedroom. All sorts of alarms went off.

A small voice from the bottom of the dogpile featuring every single one of Penelope’s body-guards finally garnered some attention.

Slowly the guards got to their feet and pulled the frog-man to his. And then the whole sordid story came out.

He was actually a prince who had been enchanted by a jealous, overly-amorous and unrequited witch. A terrible combination, you’ll agree…

The spell she had placed upon him was keyed, ironically, to the act of kissing. Only a smooch would save him.

Once the furor had died down the two, girl and former frog, discovered that their budding friendship was actually something more.

Marriage followed. And yadda, yadda, yadda…happily ever after. It’s amazing how often that happens. Fact or fiction, it makes me happy.

Today’s post is a word challenge! 
Each month one of us chooses a number between 12 and 50 and the rest craft a post using that number of words one or multiple times.

This month’s number is: 21
It was chosen by Mimi of Messymimi'smeanderings!

Now go and see what my friends have created!

Monday, May 15, 2023

Making It Up

I've been away, you may have seen
That on my blog I have not been,
Some catching up, I have to do,
So here're some poems from me to you!

April 17: Safety Pins:

Most pins are sharp, I’m sure you know,
It helps them go where they need to go,
I’ve used a few, I will admit,
To fasten things that needed it,
I’m always cautious, those things hurt!
And I will not with danger flirt,
So ‘safety pins’ I choose to use,
Thusly named, I cannot lose,
But something more I must submit…
They all still have a pointy bit!

April 24: Pigs in Blankets

I love blankets, yes, I do,
To cuddle, and the cold eschew,
It isn’t rare to find me rolled,
Encapsulated ‘gainst the cold.
You would imagine I’d support,
Giving wraps to weaker sorts,
Most everyone would benefit,
From having blankets, sewn or knit,
But there’s one group I won’t accept
Their needing blankets while they slept,
And that group is the pigs, you see,
There’s no need. They’re not like me,
But there are other ways that they
‘Go together’ as they say…
Cause Pigs in Blankets as a treat?
There are few things have them beat!

May 1: Rhino

Sometimes in nature, we will see,
A crossing of an “A” and “B”,
Like lion with a tiger, whew!
A ‘Liger’s’ what you get. It’s true.
A donkey and a horse result,
In one big mule. It’s no one’s fault,
A donkey also features with
A zebra. Zonkey’s not a myth!
There’s Jaglions and Grolar Bears,
Coywolfs, Camas, (please don’t stare!)
Beefalos, Narlugas, too,
And Hinny’s (Just to name a few)…
But cross and elephant and rhino?
What do you get? Ellefino!

May 8: Socks 
(For this, I cheated--sorry, peers--
This is a po-em from last year...)

“Please tell us of your problem, sir,
We're here to give you aid.
Supporting is how we get through,
Speak up! Don't be afraid!”
“Just look around the circle, Sir,
There’s not but friends you’ll see.
Get the whole thing off your chest,
Then Madge will serve us tea...”

“It started much as any day,”
He said. And then he sighed,
“A run together in the dawn,
I was so proud, I cried.”
“Then changing for the workday, but
A load of laundry first.
Who knew that act would be her last?
‘Twas like we both were cursed!”

“So innocent as soap went in,
Naive as buttons pressed,
Then watched as clothes began to swirl,
And tumble with the rest.”
“All was well until the load,
Was moved into the drier.
And watching it together as
The heat was getting higher.”

“Then she was gone, t’was just that fast,
My love was there no more.
And all I had was memories
Of what we had before.”
“I’ve tossed it round within my mind,
There really is no doubt
As a pair of socks, we two went in,
As a single, I came out.”

So that is it, I've caught right up,
All that's left's today's poem. (Yup.)
I'll not abandon you, and hey!
I'm happy that you came to play!

May 15 (Today!): Chocolate Chip

It started as a cookie, yes!
T’was better, far, than all the rest,
An enterprising tollhouse wife,
A small idea. Got a knife,
And chopped a ‘something’ into bits,
And to her dough, she added it,
Then her idea just took off,
And, trust me, no one teased or scoffed,
Cause people came for miles around,
To taste that treat. And soon all found
That it surpassed all those that were,
And caused more than a little stir…
Today we add her ‘something’ to
The things we bake and cook and chew,
Deliciousness from plate to lip…
What did she make? The CHOCOLATE CHIP!

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 all get musical,
Of INSTRUMENTS, you'll get your fill!

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 Chip (May 15) Today!
Musical Instruments (May 22)
Compost (May 29)
Hot Air Balloons (June 5)
Red Roses (June 12)
Kissing (June 19)
Canoes (June 26)
Mirrors (July 3)
Teddy Bears (July 10)
Emojis (July 17)
Cousins (July 24)
Avocados (July 31)

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?