Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, August 11, 2023

A Little Unexpected

First of all, I should tell you that, following a home invasion a few months ago, Mom insisted Sally have an alarm system installed. A loud one.
With buttons in every room of the house.
Which, when pressed, can signal Arcturus.
Well, that’s what it seems like.
Actually, I was fairly enthusiastic about said alarm system, being intimately involved in said invasion.
On with our story…
Okay, I admit it.
I overreacted.
But when one lives with Sally…
Sally and Mort have returned. She was away, filming some sort of thriller—a departure for her. Mostly she’s been cast in adventures.
She doesn’t have to act for those. (snort!)
Anyways, this film featured Sally (in the starring role) as a girl who ends up staying in some sort of haunted castle. They were filming at a genuine castle somewhere in Romania. Where, apparently, the ‘spookiness’ didn’t have to be enhanced in any way.
‘Nuff said.
But since they’ve been back, Sally has been…anxious. You know, nightmares. Sleepwalking.
Like we didn’t have enough to contend with when she is just ‘normal’.
What am I saying?!
It’s been strange because, up until now, there hasn’t been anything that seems to disturb our girl. She has handled her usually self-inflicted chaotic life—including kidnapping—with equanimity (look it up) and courage.
Anyways, at about 11 pm I kissed Peter goodnight at the front door and waved him off, then headed to bed.
Everyone else had already retired and the house was blessedly quiet.
It remained so for a couple of hours.
Then there was a horrendous scream next to my bed.
I am not making this up. The scream was right there beside me!
Of course, it was Sally, on one of her new sleep-walking dream tours. Something I figured out later. After my brain actually caught up.
Of course, I sat straight up from my sound sleep.
Of course, I slapped the button on the night table next to my bed.
And the aforementioned alarm system?
Well, just know that there are emergency workers enroute from Arcturus as we speak.
The ones closer by—ie. the police—arrived within a couple of minutes.
Confusion, shouting and milling by partially-awake people along with the screaming of a very upset baby added to the confusion.
Let’s just face it—if anyone in our neighbourhood—in our city—had been asleep, they weren’t any longer.
By the time the police had shut off the klaxon, ascertained (Ooo! Good word!) that no one had broken in and Sally et al were safe and accounted for, every light in the neighborhood was on with most of the neighbours standing out on their lawns. Or ours.
Sleep was probably banned forever.
The police finally left.
Mom and Dad took Ivy Jean up to their suite to calm her down.
Even Sally and Mort disappeared downstairs into their apartment.
With stern admonitions for Sally to stay there.
And never work on another scary picture.
I was sitting on the front step, enjoying the newfound peace when Peter appeared on his bicycle.
In his PJ’s.
Oh, I forgot to mention that the alarm also goes off at his house—something he insisted on after that home invasion wherein I…never mind. You understand.
“Gwen!” he gasped out. He dropped the bike on the lawn and scooped me up off the step. “Are you all right?”
I felt my face grow hot. “Yeah. It was a misunderstanding.”
“Oh, man! I’ve never been so worried. I couldn’t get you on your phone—or anyone else either.”
“Oh, sorry. Things were a little—”
He didn’t wait for me to finish. “Then my stupid car wouldn’t start!” His hold on me tightened. “The distance from your house to mine might as well have been from here to the moon!”
“Yeah, I think they heard the alarm there—”
Again he interrupted. “I can’t stand this a moment longer!” He set me down, then dropped to one knee. “Gwen, will you marry me? Please?”

Use Your Words is a writing challenge!
Each month, I exchange words with my friend and 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: 
found ~ where ~ people ~ return ~ dream
Thank you, my friend!
Now go see what Karen did with my words!

Thursday, August 10, 2023


What we wanted.

What we got.

Debbie and I had spent the morning dreaming about the big ‘B’.
All of whom were fascinating and none of whom were interested.
We were drooling over yet another male lead in a long line-up of romantic movies.
This one was a Western. My personal favourite.
Mmmmm . . .
Suddenly, Debbie jumped up and shut off the TV right in the middle of our current favourite doing...erm...cowboy things.
Who does that?!
“I want to do something,” she announced.
I glowered at her and briefly considered pointing out that we were doing something. Her whole demeanour suggested . . . action. Which probably meant that, sooner or later, I was going to have to get off the couch.
“I want to build a birdbath.”
I stared. Had I heard her correctly?
“I’m serious!” Her voice started to gain in pitch and enthusiasm. “I saw one in a magazine article. It was made of cement and had an all ‘harmonious-with-nature’ theme. It started with a little pool up top, then plunging down a waterfall  to the bottom!”
In her eagerness, she began to pace.
I hated it when she did that.
“We could make a little thatched roof to limit weather-ly interference.” She spun around to face me. “So what do you think?!”
I should point out here that her asking me that was merely a magnanimous gesture. We were doing it. She just wanted me to feel included.
I rolled my eyes and pushed myself to my feet. Let’s get this over with . . .
Pulling her little brother’s wagon, the two of us walked downtown to the hardware store. Then followed a frenzied rush to grab anything she thought would help. And the expenditure of two months of allowance.
As we toted her baggage home, she talked endlessly about the indelible impression her creation would make. About how the town gentry would stroll past, abandoning their normally impartial opinions in their excitement over this brush with the . . . wet and bird-like.
Yeah, she dreamt big, that Debbie.
What followed could only be considered inhumane – which is really ironic, considering we were creating something to benefit nature.
Because I was a farm girl – with muscles - I hauled cement. Mixed cement. Formed cement in a great hole which I had also helped dig.
Then I collapsed.
Debbie looked at the mass of grey glop in the bottom of our hole and then at her exhausted friend.
“It’s perfect!” she said.
I, too, looked into the hole. At the plop of cement in the bottom. Seriously?
Debbie got the garden hose and filled the little indent in the top of her creation. “See? Perfect!”
I blinked. Then turned to look at the paraphernalia strewn about. “What about . . .?” I got no further.
“Perfect!” Debbie nodded decisively, then gathered everything else up and packed it away.
After that, when the weather cooperated, Debbie happily filled her birdbath. Her beautiful, aesthetically-pleasing work of art.
Well, to her . . .
Debbie’s family moved away from Milk River decades ago.
But I think her birdbath sits there to this day.
A monument to what can be accomplished by the lazy and unmotivated. 
Or of an afternoon spent with a friend.
Take your pick.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Mom Advice

Twenty-five of her sayings . . .
Plus one.

Treasure Trove.

1. At forty, a man knows almost half of what he knew at twenty.
2. How do Mothers ever learn about all the things they warn their daughters not to do?
3. We do not live by bread alone, though dough plays a very important part.
4. Beware of salesman with 'Pie in the Sky' ideas--They plan to use your dough.
5. Happiness can be thought, sought or caught. Never bought.
6. Little wonder today's teenager gets mixed up--half the adults are telling him to find himself. The other half are telling him to get lost.
7. What's the difference between a teacher and a train? A train says Choo, choo, choo. A teacher says, "Spit out your gum!"
8. A wife with horse sense never becomes a nag.
9. The best thing about some popular songs is they don't stay popular long.
10. A man owes it to himself to become successful. Once successful, he owes it to internal revenue.
11.The horse and buggy are disappearing, but not the waggin tongue.
12. Sometimes my Dad takes things apart when they don't go. You'd better go.
13. This is the land of opportunity. Where else could you afford to spend so much for so little?
14. Half of your troubles come from wanting your own way. The other half from getting it.
15. Tact is the art of making company feel at home when you wish they were!
16. Life begins at 40. But that's also when everything begins to wear out, fall out or spread out.
17. Middle age is when actions creak louder than words.
18. A flood is a river that's grown too big for its bridges.
19. Political bed fellows not only share the same bed but also the same bunk.
20. A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
21. All a youngster wants out of school is himself.
22. By the time a man gets to green pastures, he can't climb the fence.
23. The worst place to live in the world is beyond your income.
24. The best night spot is a comfortable bed.
25. No wishbone ever took the place of a backbone.

And bonus--My personal favourite:
Smokey the Bear and his wife could never have kids. Whenever she got fire in her eyes, he'd hit her in the head with a shovel.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

The Therapy of Thwimming

Okay, it was scary.

But it turned out all right . . .
Our family have always been swimmers.
Our children are introduced to the water soon after they arrive.
And spend copious amounts of time there.
When we take a holiday, our choice of hotel is always based on whether or not it has a pool.
On to my story . . .
We were in Great Falls with my Husby's eldest brother and his family.
We had a favourite hotel there.
With *gasp* two pools.
The main pool was popular.
And usually busy.
We had decided to gather beside the smaller pool.
Adults, visiting.
Kids, playing.
Because we grown-ups hadn't planned on swimming, my Husby put on his suit under protest.
But I insisted.
At least one adult needed to be prepared.
We went down.
And spent a pleasant half-hour talking and laughing.
Now I should explain, here, that this smaller pool had one major draw-back.
It really wasn't made with children in mind.
It was roughly circular in shape.
And was shallow at the outer edges.
And deep in the middle.
I know. Weird.
Moving on . . .
Our oldest boy, aged four, was playing happily with his cousins in the shallows.
The kids were shouting and giggling and generally making 'happy' sounds and our oldest nephew, aged six, was keeping up a continuous dialogue of, “Mom! Dad! Look at this!”
His parents had tuned him out.
Something I simply couldn't do.
And for which I am eternally grateful.
“Mom!” he shouted.
I turned and looked at him.
“Mark's down there!” he said, pointing toward the centre of the pool.
My Husby looked at me.
“Get him!” I shouted.
He jumped in and an instant later, came up with our little boy.
For a few seconds, Mark coughed and gasped.
Then cried.
And just like that, our swim was over for the day.
We left the next morning, everyone well and happy, and completely unaware of the psychological damage that had been done.
A few days later, we took our family down to the river to our favourite swimming hole.
Though the water came no higher than his ankles, Mark refused to put one foot into the river.
Later, we went to the local swimming pool for what had always been our favourite Saturday evening activity.
Mark, our fish, clung to the ladder and screamed.
Okay, something was definitely wrong.
For the next few months, every time we tried to go swimming, it was the same.
People splashing around.
Mark sitting as far from the water as he could get.
A year passed.
Without much change.
Then our family moved to Edmonton.
Within hours of getting settled, my Husby discovered the local rec centre.
And their 'wave pool'.
Sounded intriguing.
What on earth was a wave pool?
We packed up the kids and went to investigate.
It turned out that a wave pool was just that.
A pool.
With waves.
For fifteen minutes, the water was calm.
Then a horn would blow and the waves would start.
Small, at first, then growing in size until they were . . . significant.
Mark had been paddling in the ankle-deep water at the shallow end.
A big step for him.
The horn sounded.
He looked up.
And stared at the wall of water coming toward him.
Okay, it wasn't a wall.
Maybe more of a . . . fence?
Well, maybe a median.
But it was definitely coming toward him.
We watched as he considered his options.
Then, to our surprise, he dropped to his knees and . . . let the wave roll over him.
And just like that, his fear was gone.
Our fish was back.

There is a codicil:
Mark is married now, and the father of six.
Several times a week, he takes his family swimming.
It is their favourite activity.
Every time they appear with wet hair and faces glowing with exercise and happiness, I give thanks for the disaster that wasn't.
And for the therapeutic properties of waves.

Ahhh! Therapy!

Monday, August 7, 2023


The Alexander Bros were sipping moonshine on the deck,
They’d been sipping for a while and both were feeling rather wrecked,
It was their newest batch and had been left a little long,
And—let’s just face it—one word to describe it now was ‘strong’!

Well, as they sat and sipped a truck went past with rolls of sod,
And Archie spat across the rail and gave that truck a nod,
Said sadly to his brother, Lenny, “What I wouldn’t do…
To live life like rich people can when they can hire a crew!”

Then Lenny looked at him, said, “Archie, what you on about?
What is it ‘bout that truck that’s gotten you in such a pout?”
Said Archie, “I just want to get the things that I am owed…
When I win the lottery, I’ll send my lawn out to git mowed!

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?

Roses are red, or sometimes they're blue,
Come join us next week, we'll have roses for you!

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!)...

Moonshine (August 7) Today!
Roses (August 14)
Sea Monsters (August 21)
At the Beauty Parlour/Parlor (August 28)
Newspapers (September 4)
Remembering (September 11)
Cheeseburgers (September 18)
Dreams (September 25)
Birthdays (October 2)
Family (October 9)
Dictionary (October 16)
Talk Shows (October 23)
Mischief (October 30)

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?