Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, July 19, 2024

Travels and Stories

It's been another busy month for the flies in the Tolley Household.
First: A Recap
With health and age concerns, the powers-that-be (Husby) have decided 2024 and 2025 will be 'The Years of the Travel' and so far they've delivered.
First, February in Hawaii:
Husby and a friend

March and April in Europe:
A little bit of Florence
Husby doing what he likes best!

May: at home welcoming a new Great Grand-Baby!
Auntie Q holding her nephew!

June exploring Saskatchewan and crying over graduates:
Eldest Grandson

Third Granddaughter--my writer!

Hanging Hearts Lake, Saskatchewan

And then July. Home with family, then off to visit extended family in Nova Scotia:
Annual Family Medieval Feast

A little pilgrim girl...

Peggy's Cove with my sister!!!

Did I mention that her youngest son, my nephew, is a chef? Well, he is and this is what he made for us:

You can check out his other videos at Redsfeast on Youtube. Bring your appetite!
Thank you for taking this whirlwind trip with me!

And now...a story... (Warning: Nudity!)
First, a little background (*snort*)
I get to have Q, Granddaughter #11 with me whenever her mama works. Which isn't often enough for me!
Recently, Son # 2 and his wife went to Scotland for a little rain-soaked and wonderful holiday. This is what they brought me:

Which is a huge joke here because Gramma (me) goes every year to see the Highland Games and every single one of those stone throwers is wearing underwear. Just ask all of us senior women who line up every year to watch the event!
Also: Grampa, whilst all of this is going on inside, is out in the garden, shirtless to try and get some sun.
Now on to my story...
This magnet sits at the very top of my fridge where I thought none of the youngers would see it. But little Miss Bright Eyes did.
Q: Gramma? Why isn't that girl wearing any underwear?
Me: That's not a girl, sweetie. That's a guy and it's kind of a joke. You see, the men in this country called Scotland have special cloth that they make into what is called a kilt. Different colours for different families. It's kind of like a skirt for guys. And they claim they don't wear any underwear under the kilt.
Q: (Thinking it over) Well, I always wear underwear under my skirts! And leggings, too!
Me: Yes, Sweetie. The men are very proud of their kilts. Here I'll show you some pictures.
Picture us looking
One of them is of a VERY buff man. Shirtless. In a kilt.
Q: Oh look, Gramma! He looks just like Grampa. But with muscles.
Me: Bwahahahaha! 
I think it very odd, but my husby didn't find it nearly as funny as I did.

Fly on the Wall is a monthly challenge that I share with my blogging sisters, Karen and Marcia where we invite people into our lives and recap the activities and/or thoughts of our past month.
This was a wee glimpse into mine...
Now see what my sisters have done!

Friday, June 21, 2024

Eensie Weensie

Fly on the Wall is a monthly challenge that I share with my blogging sisters, Karen and Marcia (and this time, Sarah!) where we invite people into our lives and recap the activities and/or thoughts of our past month.
This is a wee glimpse into mine...
Okay, I tried to find the cutest one I could. It still makes me shiver.

The fact that spiders and I aren’t friends won’t come as a surprise to many of you.
Further, the statement ‘Spiders and I exist best when on different time continuums’ will also strike a familiar chord.
But still, I’m bothered by what follows…

The eensy weensy* spider climbed up the waterspout.
Actually as far as this goes, I’m fine with it. Spider in waterspout. Diane. Both in different quadrants of their co-existent world and unlikely to cross paths. We’re good.

On with the poem…
Down came the rain
Still good. I like rain.
And washed the spider out.
Uh-oh. Here’s where the poem and I begin to come to odds. I mean, I can totally sympathize with someone being washed out of their homes.
Even spiders.
Out came the sun
I like sun, too. Sun soaked=Warm. Glorious. Happy. Who’s with me?
And dried up all the rain
Okay. A normal and natural consequence. I use this principal of nature every day for drying laundry. True story.
And the eensie weensie spider climbed up the spout again.
Here, I’m forced to say, “Good for you, Mr. (Or Ms.) Spider. You have more stick-to-it-ive-ness than most people I know. Including me.”
Because how many of us would simply dust (or dry) themselves off and start in again?
Believe me, there would be a lot of ‘what-if(s)’ and ‘but last time(s)’ rolling around in my noggin. And it would take a lot more than a brightly shining, sun-er-ific day to get me to start that arduous journey once more.
And—I’m assuming here—but what if during that whole ‘up the waterspout’ thing, little Ms. (or Mr.) Spider had also constructed a home of fine filaments that took many ‘spider hours’ to construct. So, in truth, not only was he (or she) washed out, but also his home and belongings were now somewhere out of Waterspout Falls (not a tourist hot spot) and up Waterspout Creek.
Without a paddle.
So that whole ‘up the waterspout’ thing becomes much more of a ‘starting over from scratch’ affair than simply climbing and re-climbing.
I suddenly find myself in awe of such unwavering resolve and resolution. And hope.
In truth, this poem becomes much more a statement toward keeping up one’s courage than of a little spider climbing again and again (you have no idea how many repeats my kids could happily sing) the same steep slope.
So to all those determined and courageous spiders out there in the world…I salute you!
And now for the ‘silly’ in all of us, my second son’s version of Eensy Weensy. Sung endlessly (with appropriate hand gestures) to all of his kids when they were toddlers.

The eensie weensie parasite crawled up the chi-ld’s back.
Down came the rain and washed it down the crack.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain…
And the eensie weensie parasite crawled up and ate his brain!

You can now picture the resultant squeals of laughter.

*See also "Incy Wincy” Spider. Or “Itsy Bitsy”. I’m assuming they all mean the same thing…

If you enjoyed my Fly on the Wall post, go now and see what my friends have been up to this month!
You'll be glad you did!

Friday, May 17, 2024

Away From Home

Fly on the Wall is a monthly challenge that I share with my blogging sisters, Karen and Marcia, where we invite people into our lives and recap our past month.
This is my glimpse into mine...

I'm a homebody.
There, I've admitted it.
I do like being in familiar surroundings. 
And especially in my own bed. With my own bathroom (something that grows increasingly important with the passage of years! But I digress...)
And my own stuff around me.
But Husby loves to travel.
And I love to be with him.
So I travel.
It's actually quite funny. With numerous health concerns between the two of us, much of what we pack consists of...pills.
Yeah. We pretty much resemble a traveling pharmacy.
Fortunately, pills are fairly portable. Thus far.
Where was I?
Oh, yes. Traveling.
And enjoying it.
Recently, Husby and I and a couple of close friends, Bill and Judy, left our aforementioned comfortable surroundings and did an Amsterdam/Belgium/Italy loop.
It was cold. I've never quite witnessed the cold like Amsterdam when it's +3 C, blowing a legitimate gale. AND raining.
Yep. There's no cold quite like it.
And I live in Canada!
But we enjoyed every single minute.
Let me 'briefly' tell you about it...
First Amsterdam (Or Hamsterdance, as Granddaughter #11 called it!). We were there for the tulips.
And wow! Did we see TULIPS!
(Just FYI: None of my pictures turned out, so most of what follows came from my artist/photographer friend, Judy White.)
Husby and me!

Keukenhof- a must-see!

Of course, being in Holland, we had to see windmills in Kinderdijk:

And museums: The Rijks Museum is beyond stupendous:

I want this library so much!

Now THAT's a model!

Nightwatch by Rembrandt. Just one of thousands!

And churches: 
Grote Kerk, Haarlem

We could have spent a month there!
But we had a schedule to keep, so on to the First World War Sites in Belgium. 
Just outside of what was known then as Ypres:

Of the 12,000 graves in this cemetery, only 4,000 were identified. The rest were 'Known Unto God'.
I've never cried so much...

Hill 62 Battlefield. Preserved just as it was. The divots and swales are from artillery blasts.
And now "sheep may safely graze'.

St. Julien Canadian Memorial

And then Florence and the surrounding countryside:

So many works of art. So little time!

And SO many people!

We also took a bus trip out into the countryside of Tuscany. Pisa, Siena, San Gimingano. Fantastic!

We're not sure how many of these trips we have left in us, so we toured and ate and talked and laughed and absolutely enjoyed ourselves. There are thousands more pictures and an equal number of memories, but at least you got a glimpse.
Thank you for coming along!

When you start to look like your passport photo, it's time to go home.

Now go and see what Karen and Marcia were up to this month!
Trust me. You'll be glad you did!

Friday, April 19, 2024

Being Simple

It's time for Fly on the Wall!
Where we give our beloved readers an opportunity to see what has been going on in our homes--and minds--this past month.
I have been thinking about--what else--pie!

I’m quite sure you all know that I love pie.
True story.
And so poems that discuss this particular subject are pretty much guaranteed to capture my attention.
Thus, I introduce to you:
Simple Simon.
Okay, personally, I think labeling anyone as ‘simple’ is a little insulting. I just want to put that out there. And yes, at first glance, this appears to have nothing at all to do with ‘pie’.
Wait for it…

Simple Simon met a pieman,
Going to the fair,
Says Simple Simon to the pieman.
Let me taste your ware!

Ha! Told you!
Let’s just make a note here and now that I am totally with Simon in asking for a little taste. If someone is giving away free tastes, I’m there.
Just ask the girl at Baskin Robbins. I think I set a record.
Judging by the look on her face, she wasn’t as impressed as I was.
But I digress…
What were we talking about?
Oh, yes. Pie tastes…
I’m there.
Particularly if the pie is lemon. Or cherry. Maybe blueberry. Pumpkin.
Okay. Any flavour. 
So thus far in the story, Simon and me, we’re together.
Now that pieman’s reaction in the next stanza is, in a word, predictable.

Says the pieman unto Simon.
Show me first your penny,
Says Simple Simon to the pieman.
Indeed I have not any!

Oh, Simon, I feel your pain.
That Baskin Robbins girl (see above) said the same thing.
Of course, by that point, I think my ‘tasting’ could easily have equaled a double cone.
But this is where Simon and I depart company. Because I DID have a penny!
Or several, because, let’s face it…ice cream ain’t cheap!
I should point out here that I do, in point of fact, sympathize with the pieman. I mean, this is his livelihood we’re talking about. And—here’s where ice cream differs from pie—a little taste out of a tub of ice cream is noticeably less noticeable than a little taste from a nicely, neatly-covered pie.
So let’s move on, sadly, away from pie.

Simple Simon went a-fishing,
For to catch a whale,
All the water he could find
Was in his mother's pail.

Okay, here’s where I admit that I am a miserable fisherman. In my life, I’ve caught a grand total of…zero fish.
Oh, I’ve drowned a lot of poor, defenseless worms, one or two bugs and some fairly innocent corn kernels in a bid to catch something besides boredom.
With no luck whatsoever.
But even I, with said miserable record, know that one is hardly likely to catch even a mini whale in one’s mother’s pail.
Pretty simple, Simon.
And lastly, this…

Simple Simon went to look
If plums grew on a thistle,
He pricked his fingers very much,
Which made poor Simon whistle.

A couple of thoughts here.
Thistles were plentiful where I grew up.
And—I just want to say this here—not one ever bore anything even remotely resembling a plum.
Stupid, useless thistles.
And I have been the recipient of a thistle’s tender embrace.
It is anything but tender.
And you’ve probably figured out that, having experienced the ‘prickly’ tendencies of your typical thistle, the last thing I feel like doing is whistling.
Just sayin’…

Up for more?
Go, now and read what my sister writers have been up to this month!
Enjoyment guaranteed!

Friday, March 22, 2024

A Pie-Filled Fly

It's time now to be a Fly on the Wall and get another glimpse into life at the Tolley house.
It's been quite a month!
Gramma and Grampa are home (from their recent holiday to places warm and rainy) and ready to FAMILY!
While the elders played cards...

The youngers ate ice cream and teased their cool uncle.

But the best part was Pi Night. Where we get to make pies and invite our friends and just enjoy each other's company.
The Tolleys wait for this all year!
2024 was year 12 of this celebration.
And here is a little peek!

This year's crew. We made 84 pies! Apple, Cherry, Blueberry, Strawberry/Rhubarb, Peach, Pumpkin, Coconut Cream, Lemon, Chocolate Cream, Banana Cream and Butterscotch.

Quite a sight!

Then the people started arriving!

And arriving...

And arriving...

The pies began to disappear.

A little creativity can get you a lot of pie!

Still eating.

Our new pie-eating champ. 11 pieces. (Exactly the amount she is holding!)
(Let's face it...only the young join in on this challenge!)
The title was formerly held by a young man whose record of 10.5 pieces stood for five years.

The clean up. 
And all that's left of 84 pies.
Gramma and Grampa are heading to bed.

See you next year?

P.S. As a little added bonus, my baby sister and her husband surprised us by secretly flying in from Nova Scotia! Best. Surprise. Ever!!!

Fly on the Wall is a challenge. We participants take the opportunity to give our friends a glimpse into what we were up to this month. 
We're so glad you could join us!
Now go and see what my friends have been doing this month.
I guarantee you'll love it!

Friday, February 16, 2024

A Sprat Chat

I admit it. I’m on a bit of a ‘Jack’ kick right now… 

Jack Spratt could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean.
And so Betwixt the two of them,
They licked the platter clean.

Isn’t that a great story? These two have been served a meal and each likes a different part and they are so much in agreement that they can divide things up and each be totally satisfied.
This, of course, is a nursery rhyme, quite likely without much basis in reality.
And right off, suggests several things to me…
  Jack and his wife get along well. I mean, how agreeable is your spouse to sharing your meal?
No “Wait! You got all of the peas! Why do you get more peas than me?” or “What? You know I love mashed potatoes and I’m quite sure that wasn’t half!” or the ultimate “Hey! I was saving that as my last perfect bite and you took it!”
Not that that has ever happened to us…
They are also pretty well-matched. How many couples do you know who could divide an entrée completely into two and everyone is happy with what they get?
And, I just want to put this out there, but if someone is sharing a steak with me, no way is he going to get all the meat and leave me all the trimmings.
For one thing, ick.
And for another…no… 'ick’ pretty much is what I am staying with.
So, as a lesson in spousal confluence, this is a great example.
As a lesson in nutrition, not so much.
One final thought. If they have a dog, that poor guy is pretty much stuck with what comes out of the Alpo bag.
Because leftovers are going to be non-existent.
Just saying…

This post is part of the monthly Fly-on-the-Wall challenge. 
Our noble leader, Karen of Baking in a Tornado, challenges each of us participants to offer a glimpse into our private lives.
With mixed results this month.
I mean, everyone else has been doing things.
I've been lying on a beach in Hawaii, moving only enough so people don't poke me to see if I'm alive.
But I did want to write and share something.
I came up with...good ol' Jack.
I'm loving this!
Go now and read what the other participants have contributed. 
You'll be glad you did!

Menopausal Mother

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Jumping Jack

Disclaimer: Okay, right off, I want to say that I do not condone the actions of said ‘Jack’ in what follows. In point of fact, I think…
Well, maybe I should start at the beginning…

Jack be nimble,
Jack be quick,
Jack jump over the candlestick

You’ve heard it before, I’m quite sure. This little ditty about a mysterious someone named ‘Jack’ who spends his time airborne over candlesticks.
Now I don’t know about you, but for me, a candlestick is generally used as a source of light. And less commonly, heat.
But never as some sort of athletic measuring stick.
That just makes me uncomfortable.
I mean, what happens if Jack is feeling a little less ‘nimble’ on a given day and thus ‘slower’ in his reaction times?
Would it then follow that we might see:

Jack not nimble
Jack not quick
Jack scooting over yonder hill in a frantic search for a water source.

You’re right. It doesn’t rhyme.
Now just where and/or when did this really strange activity begin?
Are we to believe that one day, out of the blue, some kid named Jack just decided to leap over some random candlestick?
Okay, yes, I know that a group of kids hanging out together are often the architects of ‘mischief’. And maybe someone suggested the art of flame leap-age as a possible reprieve from boredom.
Maybe they even suggested that everyone give it a try, and he who neither lights his britches nor snuffs the candle wins good luck and a long life.
Let’s face it, if one does light one’s britches on fire, long life isn’t going to be a problem.

Kids be nimble
Kids be quick
Kids better find something constructive to do or Mama going to warm kids’ britches--without a candlestick.

Hmmmm. I’m having trouble with this.
Actually, I’ve heard of bridegrooms attempting similar feats—the leaping, not the lighting—in an effort to ensure a long and happy marriage.
But you know me. I prefer things like: affection, conversation and good humour to blah…blah…blah…marriage.
But that’s just me…
So…back to Jack. And his candlestick.
I think the whole exercise is just silly, silly, silly.
Waste of time, energy and resources.
I think it would be better said like this:

Jack be nimble
Jack be quick
Jack leave the candlestick on the table and get Jack’s chores done.

The end.
P.S. Now I’ve heard of hiding your light under a bushel, but never under a derriere.
I just wanted to put that out there.

Monday, January 1, 2024

The Future

For fourteen years, I’ve had such fun,
Telling tales of life: homespun,
I’d talk of growing up and stuff,
Of doings planned, or ‘off the cuff’,
Of mischief made and laughter wrought,
Some lessons learned, successes sought,
A little fact with fiction mixed,
With lots to entertain betwixt,
I love to write, you know I do,
But now’s the time to say, “Adieu.”
New challenges for me to face,
(I pray I’ll do all this with grace!)
What I’ll miss most is all of you,
Will I be back? I’ve not a clue…
But know as I walk these new trails,
And try to keep on telling tales,
That in my thoughts, you all will be,
I’ll hold your mem’ry close to me…
The future beckons. It’s so bright,
(Soon everything will be just right,)
So know as now my blog I close,
I’ll still be writing poems and prose.
I dedicate it all to you,
And leave my love and prayers, too!

My good friends, Charlotte and Mimi,
Will ‘Poem’ on, but without me,
Cause that’s what Monday is about,
I can’t conceive a week without!

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?

This post today will be my last,
The Future surely got here fast!
But two of us will carry on
I pass, to them, the 'poem' baton!

Thinking of joining up for Poetry Monday?
Charlotte and Mimi would love to welcome you!
The Future (January 1. My last Poetry Monday) Today!

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

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My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

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