Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, October 13, 2023

Almost True

...that one time when Sally didn't make things worse...

“Look! ‘The Paragon Paranormal Society has thoroughly investigated this site and guarantees its authenticity’!”
“Huh. Who are they when they’re at home?” I muttered under my breath.
Peter and Dad laughed.
Mort was now hopping from foot to foot, obviously excited.
Or he had to go to the bathroom.
I gazed up at the creepy-looking three-storey house and shivered. If they had a bathroom…
The five of us started up the great front stairs to the doorway.
They creaked ‘authentically’.
So far so good.
“Oh, look at that! A spider! Whoda thought?” Sally poked at a large, furry brown member of the species in its rather spectacular web.
It curled its legs up, then scurried away from her.
“Oh. It’s real. My bad.”
Just then, a gust of wind blew over the porch, tossing Sally’s and my hair and almost claiming Dad’s ball cap.
He opened the door—another realistic creak—and we went inside.
“Welcome!” A solemn voice called out. “Please join the group. We’ll be getting started soon!”
The five of us hovered near the door, allowing our eyes to adjust to the gloom. Finally, I was able to make out a large, square room, with a stairway directly in front of me, great shelves filled with…gee-gaws…on all the walls, and a rather mundane-looking reception counter to the right. The voice seemed to have come from there.
A group of 8 or 10 people were gathered/huddled beside the stairway. Some of them were, like Mort, excited.
The rest seemed more like me.
We gathered with them.
A moment or two later, a tall figure emerged from behind the counter and approached us—finally coalescing into a young man.
Wearing a heavy cowl.
Okay. Creepy.
“Welcome to Dell House,” the young man said. “I’m Night and I’ll be your guide this afternoon.”
His voice was deep and sounded like it was coming from the bottom of a well.
I shivered. Of course his name was ‘Night’.
“First, a warning. Dell House spirits are capricious and unpredictable. They can appear at any time and have been known to ‘attack’ in numerous ways. Blasts of wind. Falling items and pictures. So please be alert. Best to stay away from walls at all times. And hang onto each other.”
A timid hand slowly rose on the far side of the group. “Ex-cuse me?” a faint voice said.
Night turned toward them. “Yes?”
“Is it quite safe?”
“Well…no one has died here. Well…apart from the spirits.” Night’s laugh was, like him, weird. “Stay together and let’s go.”
“Do you have a history of this place?” Dad asked, falling into step beside our guide.
A long-fingered hand dipped into some hidden pocket in Night’s robes and emerged with a handful of pamphlets. “Our history is written here.” He handed one to Dad.
“Thanks.” Dad fell back with the rest of us, squinting as he tried to read in the rather inadequate light.
Suddenly, a blast of wind, similar to the one we had felt outside, tore the paper from his hands.
“Hey!” Dad made a spectacular, but futile effort to catch it. Then he glared as the paper rose nearly to the ceiling two floors above us.
Night silently handed Dad a second pamphlet. “That happens a lot,” the young man said.
Dad looked at me. “I’m beginning to believe the reports,” he whispered.
I giggled nervously.
Night took us up the main staircase.
By this point, everyone in the group was clinging desperately to someone else.
My bunch wasn’t any different. I had linked arms with both Dad and Peter and I saw Mort grab Sally’s hand.
One man ahead of me was gripping the heavily-carved bannister. Suddenly, he jerked his hand away. “It’s hot!” he said.
“Oh, yeah. That’ll happen, too,” Night said. “Careful.”
We had just reached the top of the stairs when a stream of water came out of nowhere and struck Mort in the chest.
“Hey!” he shouted, ducking to one side and brushing hastily at his shirt, now dripping wet.
Night paused and looked at him. “Capricious and unpredictable.”
“Maybe you should give us an idea of what more we can expect,” Dad said.
What can I say. He’s an ex-marine, but the urge to plan and execute remains strong.
Night looked at him and shrugged. “We don’t know, sir. It’s never the same twice.”
Dad looked at me and Peter. I tightened my hold on both of them.
We were guided along a wide hallway, hung with a dozen or more massive portraits.
“The family through the generations,” Night said.
Man, this guy wasn’t about to waste breath explaining anything!
As we were passing one picture of a young girl and her beribboned pet goat, the picture suddenly just…dropped, hitting the floor with a heavy thud.
Someone shrieked and everyone huddled closer together in the center of the hallway.
Okay, I knew why Night had advised us to stay away from the walls.
We continued down the hall.
Doors slammed open, then shut.
Light fixtures swayed alarmingly.
Soft, strange music played. It would grow for a moment, then die.
And I’m pretty sure I saw a translucent figure sail across the hall and into the wall just ahead of us.
“Did you see that?” I managed to gasp.
Dad and Peter’s eyes were on the same spot.
“I did,” they said together. They looked at each other.
“Keep up,” Night said.
We hurried to catch the others.
Throughout all this, Mort and Sally were uncharacteristically silent. I kept glancing back to make sure they were still with us.
Sally seemed calm, but Mort’s eyes were bigger than dinner plates as he swiveled to watch everything.
Night led us into bedrooms, where rugs rolled themselves up and dresser drawers made a staccato sound as they moved in and out. Blinds snapped up and curtains slid back and forth across the rods.
Bedclothes were tossed about.
A pillow sailed past. Dad ducked, but I wasn’t as fortunate.
The resulting cloud of dust made me sneeze repeatedly.
It was hard to know how to react or where to look first.
As we made our way back into the hallway from one of the bedrooms, Peter leaned close and whispered in my ear, “Even if this is all fake, it’s pretty spectacular!”
Just as the words left his lips, another wind blast tore through—this time seeming to target him. It nearly pulled him free from my grip.
Our hold tightened.
The tour continued...
We couldn’t have been in that house for more than half an hour, but it seemed days. Every floor and room sported some new and startling event.
My fingers were just beginning to grow slightly numb from Peter and Dad’s crushing grip when Night finally steered us back to the main staircase.
We descended it, relief writ large on every face in the group as we spied our escape.
Night stopped at the bottom of the stairs, halting the group. Then he looked up at us. “We, the spirits of Dell House hope you enjoyed your visit. Do tell your friends and neighbours. And come back yourselves. If you dare.”
With those words, he suddenly…disappeared.
I am not making this up. He disappeared. His cloak was suddenly—empty. It dropped to the floor in a heap of cloth.
We stared, aghast.
One woman fainted.
But Sally is made of sterner stuff.
“Cool!” she said. She cracked her knuckles and grinned at the rest of us. “Let’s go again!”

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: 
ghost ~ grow ~ brown ~ spider ~ soft 
Thank you, my friend!
Now go see what Karen did with my words!



Monday, October 9, 2023

Where Laughter Comes From...

I must admit, I started small,
When mama chased me down the hall,
And made me giggle wildly,
With threats of tickles as I’d flee.

From there, I moved to Daddy’s jokes,
When entertaining mealtime folks,
Or when, the wide prairies, we rode,
And he was in his joking mode.

And then my siblings took it on,
To laughter, all we six were drawn,
And we’d quote ‘Mad’ and ‘Cowpokes’ jests,
And try to outdo all the rest.

And when I married, Husby Dear,
Worked hard to fill my days with cheer,
And he did well, my better half,
His goal was always “Make her laugh”.

Then our kids, too, got in the game,
That ‘laughter’ goal remained the same,
And they’d tell tales, quote movies, songs,
To keep the merriment going strong.

My grandkids now are starting out,
I guess there couldn’t be much doubt,
That they’d pick up the ‘laughter’ gene,
And see which one would reign supreme.

Now I have given lots of thought
To what is funny. What is not,
Don't need to plot with charts and graphs . . .
'Cause it's my FAMILY makes me laugh.

Photo Credit: Karen of
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 might be more complex...
Cause DICTIONARY's in the text!

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!)
Family (October 9) Today!
Dictionary (October 16)
Talk Shows (October 23)
Mischief (October 30)
Watermelon (November 6)
Grandma's Kitchen (November 13)
The Bus (November 20)
A Pet's Life (November 27)

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God's Tree
For the Children

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Deborah. Fugitive of Faith

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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!

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What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

Join me on Maven

Connect with me on Maven


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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!!!

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?