Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, July 14, 2023

Moving Day

Sally and Mort are away, filming.
And Peter’s job has kept him out of town for the past week.
Needless to say, the household has been (apart from Ivy Jean—she of the gargantuan lungs) abnormally quiet.
I’ve been thinking…
Sally's and my Dad was a wildlife biologist, specializing in all creatures cold. You know…penguins and polar bears and stuff. His studies kept him at one pole or the other.
Until I came along, Mom went with him on his adventures. After me, Mom simply kissed him and sent him on his way to explore alone.
Okay, it probably wasn’t that simple. I’m quite sure there were expressions of sadness, etc.
I do remember some of the farewells. Cause we (Sally and I) were six when he left on his last mission.
Before the ship he was on sank in the Antarctic somewhere.
I remember Mom being really sad and watching out the window a lot and jumping when the phone rang.
I know Sally and I missed Dad. But, as we had only ever seen him irregularly, Mom was our whole world.
And as long as she was there, Sally and I were content.
Two big changes that did manage to seep into our little girl awareness were the facts that Mom had to go to work. And we had to move.
Yes. We noticed those.
The house we moved into was smaller than the one we’d been living in, but comfortable. With a tiny garden and a streetful of kids to play with.
Moving into it was an adventure in itself.
Of course, Mom and I had realized earlier that Sally had a penchant for getting into trouble.
I think ‘moving day’ just cemented those suspicions.
In a large way.
Let me tell you about it…
The moving truck had disappeared down the street in a swirl of gas fumes, leaving Mom and us girls to unpack the boxes the two rather burly movers had parked in our new house.
Sally and I were having fun opening said boxes.
Until Sally realized they were just filled with all our old junk from our old house.
Then she lost interest.
I’m quite sure you’ve realized by now that a bored Sally is an unpredictable Sally.
A small group of kids came to the open door and peeked in at us.
The biggest, a girl, spoke to Mom. “Hello! I’m Vivian! Can your girls come out to play?”
Mom smiled at her, then looked at the two of us—me, still opening boxes, and Sally…not.
“I’m quite sure they would love it,” Mom said. “They need a break!”
I straightened from the box I was currently exploring and started toward the door, but Sally beat me to it. “Hi! We’re Sally…” she put a hand on her chest, “…and Gwen. We’re Irish Twins. We’re six. Our Dad died.”
Trust Sally to get the important stuff out in the first ten seconds.
“Oh,” Vivian said. “Well, I’m Vivian and these guys are Blaine, Todd and Choteau.”
Sally looked at the third boy. “Choteau is a weird name.”
“I’m named after my sixth great-grandfather,” the boy said, proudly. “A great explorer. I’m going to be just like him!”
For some reason, my mom looked up at that.
Sally joined the others and the five of them disappeared.
“Aren’t you going with them?” Mom asked me.
I shrugged. “I think I’d rather stay with you.”
Mom smiled. “Well, I do appreciate the help!”
The two of us went back to work.
I use this term lightly. Because 'work' on that day consisted of unpacking a bit...
Then fishing Sally and her new friends out of one scrape after the other.
Mom grabbed the lot of them just as they were starting across the street wearing the unpacked boxes.
And no, none of them could see.
And yes, there were cars passing.
Mom confiscated all boxes into perpetuity.
Then they somehow managed to shut one of Mrs. Ames' (yes, this was the first time we met her) cats into the closet.
With spectacular results.
Mom then forbade all cats into perpet-- you get the picture. 
Finally, things seemed to quiet down.
I don't know about you, but that's when one should really start to worry.
Both of us were in the upstairs bedroom that would soon be Mom's. She straightened, stretching her back. Then she cocked her head to one side, listening. “What is that?” she asked.
I frowned. “Ummmm…”
Muffled voices from the first floor. Then shrieks and giggles.
Mom pushed open the window and looked down at the front entryway.
I heard a cry of triumph, then a thump.
Mom gasped and headed for the bedroom door.
I followed.
If I knew Sally—and I did—something momentous was about to happen…
The stairway in our new house was tricky. It was built almost entirely into a box. Walls on either side and a third wall at the bottom. The only escape routes were on either side at the bottom.
Mom blasted down that staircase like a pro, grabbed the corner of the wall to her right and shot out into the living room without even slowing down.
It was kind of amazing, really.
I was justifiably slower and arrived just in time to see Mom make a grab for…I think it was Todd…as he leaped off a chair and swung toward the front doorway.
Using our front-room curtains as a rope.
Two other kids, notably Sally and Vivian, were already outside, standing in what would eventually be Mom’s flower bed, obviously having successfully completed the same maneuver.
Mom missed and Todd sailed through the doorway.
Sadly the curtains--and wall--not used to this form of abuse, chose that moment to effect a wholesale release.
The entire section of dry wall from the window to the ceiling, along with the now-mangled curtain rod paraphernalia, sailed out the door with him.
Or would have.
If we had a bigger door.
The resulting crash was truly spectacular.
Wow!” Sally said. “That was even better than mine!”
What should have been--in Sally's eyes--Todd’s triumph was dimmed somewhat by Mom charging toward them, through the pile of debris that now cluttered her front doorway.
I was behind her, but I could guess at the look on her face by what was reflected on Todd and Vivian’s.
“What are you kids doing?!” Mom said in her ‘usually-reserved-for-hollering-at-Sally-and-me-when-we’ve-done-something-naughty’ voice.
Sally shrugged. “Playing pirates.”
“With my curtains?!!” Mom’s voice has risen dangerously.
I was ready to run and I hadn’t even been involved.
“Hey! We didn't get a turn!” a voice said, plaintively.
Mom had started scraping the heap of rubble outside with her feet--like an angry bull.
She spun around and pointed at the other two obviously disappointed boys, “OOOOOOOUT!”
Their eyes on Mom, they quickly joined Sally and the others out front.
Mom slammed the door.
She looked at me. “Most of the boxes are still packed," she said, almost to herself. "We can just keep moving.”
Then she shook her head. “Nope. She’d just find us." She sighed. "If anyone needs me, I'll be under my bed. I have a headache."

Use Your Words is a writing challenge!
Each month, I exchange words with our intrepid leader, Karen of Baking in a Tornado.
Neither of us knows what the other will do with her words.
This month, Karen gave me: 
headache ~ twin ~ door ~ curtain ~ wow
Thank you, my friend!
Care to read more?

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

What Day is it?

With special days all through the year to celebrate the great and small,

It’s sometimes difficult to choose a single topic from them all,
With things like ‘Ice Cream Sandwich Day’ and ‘Girlfriend’s Day’, to name a few,
And ‘Tell a Joke Day’, ‘Bow Tie Day’. And don’t forget ‘Spumoni’, too!
There’s ‘Single Working Women’s Day and ‘Be an Angel Day’ as well,
And ‘Kiss and Make Up Day’ (to follow that one day of ‘Kiss and Tell’!)
‘Work Like a Dog Day’s’ special too. And while we’re on that subject, there,
There’s ‘Dog Appreciation Day’ for those with dogs for whom they care.
We’ve ‘Sister’s Day’ and ‘Lover’s Day’ and ‘Son and Daughter Day’ besides,
And even one called ‘Lighthouse Day’ for those who love to watch the tides!
There’s hundreds more for all of us, a ‘Day of Beer’ and ‘Day of Sun’,
A ‘Fresh Breath Day’ and one for ‘Hoyle’ and one for ‘Middle Child’ fun.
But with them all, we chose the one that spoke to each of us for sure,
Not ‘Creamsicles’ or ‘Eat Ouside’ or ‘Chocolate Pecan Pie’s’ allure,
I’m sure you’d like to know the champ. (And yes, I feel like such a tease!)
It’s ‘Relaxation Day’ today! I get to catch up on my ZZZZZZZZZ’s

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Staying Alive

Today is Husby’s birthday. His 69th. 
I had many stories to choose from to honour him.
I chose this one. 
There are a lot of ‘almosts’ here.
But it ends well...

I love Nutella.
For many reasons.
This is the main one . . .
Sometimes, miracles are tasty!

Ten years ago . . .

My Husby had been ill.
Scary ill.
We first noticed it in September.
He was . . . tired.
Through October and November, he just couldn't seem to get enough rest.
We attributed it to the fact that he was busy producing yet another play for our drama society.
A stressful job.
The play closed on November 21st and we were on the road for a book-signing tour on the 24th.
No time for rest.
By the time we returned home two weeks later, he was very ill, indeed.
But he concluded that he was simply overtired and determined to get some real rest.
Which stretched into sleeping twenty hours a day.
And giving up food.
A rather important part of every day, in my mind.
In a two week period, he lost fifteen pounds.
I finally decided to ignore his protestations and made an appointment with our physician.
Who immediately ordered him into the emergency room.
Where they began pumping blood into him.
The next few days were touch and go as they tried to treat him/determine just what the problem was.
They finally decided that his body was systematically attacking and destroying his blood.
Not good.
Throughout this time, he still wasn't eating.
Nothing appealed.
They finally sent him home from the hospital, but with strict instructions to come back every day for more testing/treatments.
And to start eating.
Still nothing appealed.
Finally, as he was rummaging through the cupboard, he discovered a jar of Nutella, mostly full.
I should mention, here, that Grant lived in France for two years before we were married. Nutella was a habit he brought back with him.
Huh. Holding the familiar jar, it suddenly looked . . . good.
He spread it on a piece of homemade bread and took a bite.
It was good.
Over the next couple of days, he went through that jar of Nutella.
Sometimes spread on a bit of bread.
Sometimes on a banana.
Sometimes with a spoon.
Then he bought more.
And ate those.
He was finally eating.
I don't know what they put in Nutella.
Hazelnuts and chocolate and yumminess. And, let's face it, if you spread Nutella on a hubcap, I'd eat it.
But there must be some other secret goodness in there, because it brought him back from the brink.
And I do mean brink.
He calls it the Nutella Protocol.
I call it a miracle in a bottle.
Taken the day before he went into hospital.
P.S. Husby still struggles with this health problem. Pernicious Anaemia.
But with regular treatments, he is able to live a completely normal life.
Well...regular treatments that include regular 'applications' of  Nutella!

Monday, July 10, 2023

My Very Own Teddy

When I was young, the dark I feared,
My brothers teased and thought me weird,
I sighed and recognized my lot,
Imagination’s what I’d got.

Then Mama gave me something warm,
Just to protect me from the storm,
And from the creatures of the dark,
That under my small bed were parked.

‘Twas plump and cuddly, soft and sweet,
It blotted tears, caressed my cheeks,
When monsters came (at close of day),
I cuddled hard—they went away.

I called it ‘Teddy’, ‘cause it was,
A Teddy Bear with furry paws,
And so together he and me,
We grew as close as friends could be.

And time went on and then I grew
Got married to a boy I knew,
But though much older, I’d not outgrown,
That fear of darkness that I'd known,

I had no bear to cuddle with,
Protect me from my monster myths,
But then I found I’d something more,
To stop those monsters at the door.

My marriage gave me someone warm,
Just to protect me from the storm,
And from the creatures of the dark,
That under my large bed were parked.

He’s not fuzzy, but he's sweet,
He blots my tears, caresses cheeks,
When monsters come (at close of day),
I cuddle hard—they go away.

So though I don’t have Teddy now,
It doesn’t matter anyhow,
‘Cause what I have is far more 'good',
Than what I had in childhood!

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?

Need to express your mood a bit?
Emojis will take care of it!

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!)...

Teddy Bears (July 10) Today!
Emojis (July 17)
Cousins (July 24)
Avocados (July 31)
Moonshine (August 7)
Roses (August 14)
Sea Monsters (August 21)
At the Beauty Parlour/Parlor (August 28)

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My FIRST murder mystery!

Blessed by a Curse

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My very first Medieval Romance!

God's Tree

God's Tree
For the Children

Third in the series

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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!

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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

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Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from

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Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

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