Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, July 21, 2023

De-Tangling De Fluff


Remember the 'fashion' dolls of the fifties?
The straight-standing, frozen featured, supposedly beautiful dolls?
That creative people crocheted or knitted clothes for.
Or sunk into cakes.
Those dolls.
Well, besides being known for arriving 'without wardrobe', they were also known for their pre-styled, fine, beautiful hair.
Hair that was not comb-able.
That stuck together in a tight ball and defied any efforts at style change.
I know that hair well.
Because I was born with the same stuff.
And matted permanently together.
Candy-fluff hair, my Mom called it.
Okay, 'candy fluff', I loved.
Candy fluff on my head?
Not so much.
Every morning, and several times throughout the day, Mom would come at me with a comb.
Or some other implement guaranteed to make my hair behave.
None of them worked.
All of them . . . hurt.
Mom: “Diane, hold still! I'm almost done!”
Me: “Waaah!”
And so it went.
As I grew, my hair . . . changed. Subtly.
Oh, it was still fine and soft.
But it no longer stuck together in one fuzzy lump.
Now it stuck together in several fuzzy lumps all over my head.
Mom: “Diane, hold still! There's just one more!”
Me: “Waaah!”
Finally, by about age eight, I outgrew the 'fuzzies'.
But made another important discovery.
Yes, my hair no longer matted together, defying all attempts at style.
And it was now longer and straighter.
But . . . it still hurt to comb it.
Yes. I was a hair wuss.
Mom: “Diane, hold still! Your hair will look beautiful!”
Me: “Waaah!”
Finally, in frustration one day, she uttered the fateful words, “Diane, don't you know you have to suffer to be beautiful?”
I stared at her. “Really?”
She nodded sagely.
I put it together.
If I suffered, I would be beautiful.
It was that simple.
This went on for several years.
Every day, I suffered.
Every day, I looked in the mirror.
Nope. Same face as yesterday.
Finally, at age fifteen, I challenged my mother's hypothesis.
Me: “Mom! I've suffered! Why aren't I beautiful!?”
Mom (In true 'Mom' form): “Oh, honey, you ARE beautiful!”
Right. Waaait. I see where this is going . . .
Moving ahead several years . . .
I was combing my granddaughter's fiery red, naturally curly hair.
ME: “Kyra, hold still! I'm almost done!”
Kyra: “Waaah!”
Me: “Don't you know you have to suffer to be beautiful?”
She stared at me. “Really?”
And so the story continues . . .

Thursday, July 20, 2023

A Sucker Between Friends

In honour of national Lollipop Day, a story about a...lollipop.
So nice! Sigh.

I played hooky.
For those of you who don't know, 'hooky' is a term coined to describe being absent without leave.
In my case, I was absent from school.
And I didn't do it alone.
I should probably point out that these were the days before the school phoned home "to inform you that your student 'insert name' was absent on . . . yadda yadda yadda . . ."
Back to my story . . .
We were in grade twelve. For the last semester of my grade twelve year, I lived with Debbie's family, the Joneses, on their ranch, and attended school in the town of Magrath.
Our school bus arrived promptly every morning at 7:30.
After an hour and a half commute, we would arrive, sleepy and slightly dishevelled at the Magrath High School to begin a day of instruction.
One morning, one of us really wasn't in the mood.
Oh, she got up all right.
Got ready.
Endured the bus ride.
But, standing there in front of those venerable halls of learning, she balked.
“I don't wanna go,” Debbie said.
I stared at her. “What?”
“I don't wanna go,” she said again.
“Oh.” What did one say to that?
“Let's play hooky!”
“Debbie, we can't play hooky!”
“Yes we can! We've never done it and the semester, the year, the school experience is nearly over!”
She had a point. Both of us had been exemplary students.
Precisely what our fathers expected.
“Deb, my dad would kill me!”
“C'mon, Diane, it's only one day!”
I looked at her. Have I mentioned that Debbie was the only reason I ever got into trouble? Well she was . . .
At that point, our friend Leonard, he of the pick-up truck, appeared.
“Leonard! Take us to Lethbridge!” Leonard looked at Debbie. Then he looked at me. I shrugged.
“Okay,” he said.
. . . and she got other people into trouble, too.
The three of us trailed across the parking lot and into Leonard's pick-up.
There was plenty of room on the wide seat.
We settled in for the 12-minute ride to Lethbridge, a city of about 75,000 just to the north of Magrath.
For a guy, Leonard had a surprisingly clean truck. No trash rolling around. In fact, the only thing on the dashboard was his brand shiny new 'Western Horseman' magazine.
“Oooh!” I said, picking it up. “Is this the new issue?”
“Yep. Just picked it up this morning!”
“Do you mind if I read it?”
“Nope. Just don't damage it.”
Leonard took good care of his things. Obviously magazines were no exception.
“I'll be careful.” I sat back happily while the two of them chattered all the way to the city.
Lethbridge is not a huge place, but one with several malls and lots of shopping.
We spent the day going from one to another.
And having fun.
At one of our early stops, Debbie and I bought large lollipops.
On long sticks.
We spent the rest of the day . . . ummm . . . licking.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to catch our bus. No sense in proclaiming that we had just spent the day somewhere other than where we should have been.
Leonard stopped his truck.
“This has been fun!” I told him. “C'mon Debbie, we'd better hurry!” I slid out.
At that point, a friend of Leonard's walked up to his window. “Hey, Leonard, where were you today?”
Distracted, Leonard turned to answer his friend.
Debbie started to follow me.
“Oh, my sucker,” she said, turning back.
Remember when I mentioned Debbie's name? Entwined with the word 'trouble'?
Well that would also apply here . . .
Now Debbie had gotten tired of holding the heavy sucker and had laid it down. Not certain of the surface of the dash of Leonard's remarkably tidy truck, she had chosen to lay it down on his copy of the Western Horseman.
That same brand new copy he had been so protective of earlier.
She grabbed the long stick, only to realize that the magazine came with it. 
Not only had the sucker stuck to the cover of the magazine, but it had also stuck the pages together.
“Ummm . . .” Debbie glanced at Leonard, still engrossed in his conversation. “We'll just leave that,” she said, and slid out after me. “See ya, Leonard!” She slammed the door.
Leonard, still talking, waved cheerfully and the two of us headed for our bus.
Leonard never mentioned his sucker-stuck magazine.
The one he obviously never got to read.
After he had toted two girls all over Lethbridge.
Some fellow hookey-players are just plain nice.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

In Memorium

This mattress once was new and bright,
But now, it’s not so great.
For under sheets of pristine white
The broken springs await.

And though the bedding’s crisp and new
When I lay me down to sleep,
The mattress hidden from my view
Should be on a garbage heap.

It’s stained and tattered, bruised and torn,
Its springs are snapped and broken.
And I suffer there till dewey morn.
(Harsh words are often spoken!)

With back in spasm, to sleep I cling,
My dreams are few . . . and hazy,
Some tears are shed, my hands - I wring.
I’m slowly going crazy.

Tonight, I’ll drink raspberry wine
A quite indulgent habit,
Then into my blankets, serpentine,
I’ll curl up like a rabbit.

'Cause, yes, the time has come, I’m tired
Of sleeping on a cactus.
I’ll, with the morn, at last retire
My insult of a mattress.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Food Flight

 Okay, this has never happened to me. Honest. I mean, I’ve pretended that food talks—especially when trying to get one of my kids to eat broccoli. But it’s never actually happened. So I have my doubts as to the veracity of this story…

But let’s scoot ahead, shall we?
There was an elderly woman who had never been able to have children.
One day, she got the brilliant idea to ‘make’ a child.
She gathered: flour, sugar, shortening, eggs and spices, bowls, spoons, baking sheets. An oven.

Okay, yes, I’m beginning to understand her difficulty at conceiving.
Using all of her not-inconsiderable skill, the woman rolled out a fine dough and cut it into the proper shape.
Then she added some currant eyes, nose and mouth and little raisin buttons.

Her ‘child’ was starting to look pretty sweet. In a totally un-child way—if you catch my drift.
She tenderly assembled the pieces on a baking sheet and slid the whole into the oven.
Then sat impatiently and waited for it to come out.

Huh. Whenever my friends told me they had a ‘bun in the oven—Wink! Wink!’ I pictured something far different. Was I wrong?
Moving on…
Soon her little dough boy was ready and steaming happily on the cupboard.
Well, ready. I’m assuming the ‘happily’.

Even though this little ‘boy’ looked totally delicious in a ‘made-with-flour-and-sugar-and-yumminess’ sort of way, I guarantee that his ‘mother’ just had a nice snuggle with her new baby son in mind, when she reached for him.
Whatever her intentions, ‘Ginger’ was having none of it.

Leaping from the table, he looked at her and said (I am not making this up!): “I’m outta here!” Well, actually, it was something more along the lines of “Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!”

I want to mention this, because I’m sure many of you are thinking it: This little lad was pretty self-aware, considering his lack of years. And the fact that he was 100% cookie.
Bringing the whole Nature vs Nurture discussion to a new level.

Anyways, he leaped nimbly off the table and dashed head-long out the door.
The old woman dashed after him, but, being somewhat slow and cumbersome due to her advanced age and lack of speed-running prowess, he soon left her far, far behind.

I don’t know about you, but I hate it when my food talks back AND makes a runner.
Needless to say, his mother was quite despondent, even questioning her parenting skills.
As we all do when our child acts in a less-than-exemplary fashion.

But I digress…
The little Gingerbread man ran quickly along the country road, making good time.
Well, he would have been making good time if he had any idea where he was going.
And a firm or even a rather vague destination in mind.

A group of farmers was just having their lunch when he dashed past.
Now I’m remembering my box lunches from my youth and a fresh gingerbread cookie would have livened them up no end.
No wonder they all jumped up and gave enthusiastic chase.

But with a laugh and another “Run, run as fast as you can…” speech, he eluded them.
There was real Olympic potential in our little sprinter.
Of course there’d be a distinct lack of competition in his category, but let’s not split hairs, okay?

The same thing happened with a group of children, some geese, and one or two more citizens. He outran them all.
See? Olympics, here we come!
But we’ll soon see that youth and skill can always be outdone by old age and treachery.

The Gingerbread man reached the bank of a wide, cold, fast river and skidded to a stop.
Now, lack of brains aside, he was canny enough the know that, for someone made completely out of dough-like materials: Dry land=good. Rushing water=bad.

He stood there in indecision for a moment.
“Why, little boy! Whatever are you doing out here all alone?” asked a sly voice.
Ginger turned and began to spout his now-famous speech. “Run, run…” But he petered out.
Neither of them were running.

The fox—for it was a fox—was standing just inside the tree-line. Not quite in sight. But not quite out of it, either.
He knew he couldn’t outrun this little guy if he chose to flee.
He would have to best him by brainpower.

And yes, he was fighting an unarmed opponent.
“Are you wanting to cross the river, my fine young friend?”
Okay, I know he’s assuming Ginger’s age, but, let’s face it—how long can a cookie live?
In my house? 0.6 seconds.
Less for chocolate.

“Ye-es,” Ginger responded.
“Well, there isn’t a single bridge or a ferry for miles.”
“But I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Since I’m going across anyway—I have an appointment with my medical professional—I would be totally happy to ferry you across.

“Really? Won’t I be too heavy?”
He looked at Ginger with his clever ‘fox’ eyes. “What do you weigh. Maybe 10 ounces? It’s no problem.”
“Ah. Well, if you’re sure.”
“Oh, I’m sure.”
And, just like that, Ginger leaped up on the fox’s back.

The fox slid carefully into the water.
At first, all went well. The fox swam. Ginger hummed happily to himself.
Then the water started getting deeper.
“Ummm…Mr. Fox?”
"The water’s getting deeper.”
“You’d better climb up on my head. View’s better there anyways.”

Ginger did and discovered the fox was right! Wow! He could see so much better!
But the water was still getting deeper.
“Erm…” Ginger said, hesitantly.
“Say no more my little cinnamon-flavoured friend. Climb down on my muzzle. For sure that’s not going under!”

Ginger thought that made great sense.
Remember, we are talking about a brain of cinnamon/sugar here.
No sooner had he jumped down onto the fox’s muzzle and the sly Mr. Fox had gobbled him up!
Who didn’t see that coming?
Well, besides Ginger…

There are several morals here:
1.    Cheekiness to one’s parents seldom ends well.
2.    When my food talks and runs away, the last thing I’m going to do is chase it.
3.    Ascertaining a rescuer’s motivation is hard. If in doubt, stay off the snout!

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

This month’s number is: 44
It was chosen by me!

Now go and see what my friends have created!

BakingIn ATornado                    


Monday, July 17, 2023


Emojis, now, are what we’ve got
If you’re smiling😊. Or if not,😔
Because we’re never face-to-face,😙
When body language’d be the case💃,
Creative’s what we’ve had to get👩‍🎨,
Show anger😠, fear😨, joy🥳 or regret😟,
And sadness😢, yes, there’s some for that😫,
When we’re online and want to chat😛.
Thank Japanese (this I confess)😇,
That ‘text’ emotions aren’t a guess,🤔
Cause ‘e’ means ‘picture’🏞, that’s for sure,
While ‘moji’ just means ‘character’🧧,
And put together, they compute💻,
And give us something really cute😻!
But there’s one drawback I do tell…🤫
Sometimes they don’t translate too well🤯😱😭,
So my advice 🧐from me to you,
Use those emojis🤗, yes, please do,
They liven up what could be dull🥱,
Expression goes to 10 from null!🤪😏🥴
But say you won’t in this tech race⛹…
Forget talking face-to-face!😊😊😊

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, 'Cousins', surely your
Favourite relatives, for sure!

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!)...

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

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!

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First romance in a decade!

Hosts: Your Room's Ready

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A fun romp through the world's most haunted hotel!

Hugs, Delivered.

Compass Book Ratings

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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

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Semper Fidelis
I've been given an 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!

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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?