Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Not Quite Clean

Okay, there are only six here. But you get the picture . . .
Mom is third from the left.
Bath time has changed over the past century.
The concept of indoor plumbing is actually very recent.
In my mother's day, running water in the house meant that some enterprising and resourceful person had built the house over the well.
And designed the kitchen so that the sink was situated perfectly to accommodate the pump.
Right where the water was needed.
Clear and cold.
Directly from the ground.
Heating it to a decent temperature for such things as cooking and cleaning was a whole other process.
So . . . bath time.
I should mention, here, that I wasn't present for any of this.
I'm telling it as my mom told me.
Every Saturday night, Gramma Berg would pull out the large tub and set it in the middle of the kitchen floor.
Then painstakingly fill it bucket by bucket.
She had nine children, eight boys and my mom, to scrub.
And one tub to do it in.
The youngest went in first.
Then the second youngest.
All went well to this point.
Though the water was getting a bit . . . soapy.
But that is where her system inevitably broke down.
The fifth-youngest son always exhibited the same reaction to stepping into warm water.
He peed.
In the water.
Every time.
And my Mom, who stood next in line would get a little . . . perturbed.
Gramma always tried to soothe her only daughter by pointing out that the water was mostly clean and soapy. And that Mom would get a good rinse with clean water.
But Mom was only slightly mollified (real word.)
I often wondered why, in my time, my mother so enjoyed her baths.
I didn't have to go back very far to find out.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Siblings of Summer

The crew. With one small addition.
In 1965, when I was 10, my dad had the opportunity to buy a second small ranch just over an hour from the home spread. Near the town of Coaldale, Alberta.
It would have been a logistical nightmare for one man to run both places, so he had two choices.
A - put a foreman and workers on the second place, or B - park some of his children and one cousin there.
Because Dad was a frugal (and adventurous) man, he went with plan B and, at the beginning of the summer, myself, my three older siblings and our cousin, Michael, found ourselves in a tidy little ranch house nestled in a fold of the prairie.
My eldest sister, age 17 served as chief cook and bottle-washer.
My two older brothers, ages 15 and 12, as general cowhands.
My cousin, wherever he was needed.
And me, as ballast.
Our jobs were properly delineated and we went to them with a will.
Chris cooked.
Jerry and George brought in the hay crop and tended the cattle.
Michael moved between them.
And I read and showed up for meals.
Oh, and rode my horse.
It was a learning, growing experience for all of us.
Simply managing such an operation would have been a challenge, but this ranch was unique.
It was also infested with rattlesnakes.
One day, while stacking hay, my oldest brother sat down on a bale to rest. There was a sudden buzz at his feet. Without even thinking, he simply pitched sideways off the stack, neatly avoiding being bitten. Then he and his younger brother hunted down the culprit and disposed of it.
Can’t have rattlesnakes in the hay . . .
Then they coiled up the remains on the front step of the house and rang the doorbell.
Okay, I served two purposes on the ranch. Ballast and victim.
After that experience, I mostly remained inside the house. Only going outside to ride. Walking slowly and carefully and observantly.
The technique must have worked because my only other experience with anything slithery was during a ride to check the cows, when my mount leaped suddenly and nimbly into the air and I saw, beneath us in the grass, something long and skinny and very, very mobile.
Another memory from that summer was of my sister, busy in the kitchen.
Chris was making stew for supper. For a few minutes, she hunted around in the cupboards. Finally, she sighed. I asked her what was wrong.
“I don’t have any more flour,” she said. “Well, I’ll try . . .”
By this time I had lost interest and gone back to my reading.
I’ll never forget the stew she served that evening.
It was absolutely delicious.
Absolutely. Delicious.
Better than anything I had ever eaten.
I overheard her conversation with Jerry as I worked my way through a third helping.
Chris: I couldn’t find any flour for thickener.
Jerry: This is great. What did you do?
Chris: I used pancake mix.
Resourceful. And maybe a secret ingredient for delicious-ness?
It was a wonderful summer. Days of being cared for by older siblings. And cousin. (Sometime, I’ll tell you about my brother chasing off a mischievous bull using a bucket and a shovel.) Evenings spent playing five-handed solitaire. (It can be done.)
Learning that, if left on our own, we could succeed.
Our Coaldale summer.
I’ll never forget it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Register of P

My walking buddies/confession/therapy group

The Statute of Limitations has run out.
Or so I assume.
It’s been thirty years.
Maybe I should explain…
Every morning, rain or shine (okay, preferably shine) my daughter and I go for our morning walk.
We’ve been doing it since grade eight (hers, not mine) and we have a wonderful ramble and always a great talk.
This morning, the air was noticeably cooler. A few leaves have changed colour and are falling.
Our favourite time of year.
I guess it brought out the urge to confess.
At least one of us was a bit more garrulous than usual…
Our route took us past the house we lived in when we first moved to our little town of Beaumont.
Where her eldest daughter’s classmate/friend now lives.
This is how the conversation went:
Granddaughter: This is where my friend lives!
Daughter: I wonder if they got the smell of pee out of the heat register.
Me: …….
Daughter: When I was three or four, you would wrap me in a towel after my bath and send me into my room to get my jammies on. I was too warm and comfy to go back into the bathroom and use the toilet, so I just stood over the heat register.
Me (you’ll just have to picture the mouth dropping open): !!!!!
Daughter: Yeah. I figured it would go along the pipes and down to the sewer like it does in the bathroom.
Me: I have no words.
Daughter: There’s a blog post for you!
Me (rubbing hands together gleefully): Heh. Heh. Heh.
P.S. When I told this story to Husby, he rolled his eyes. “And here I spent all that time trying to get the smell of cat pee out of the carpets from the former owners (they had four cats who liked to do their business behind the wet bar in the basement). Little did I know it was an ongoing and current problem.”
Emphasis on ‘going’.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Au Nature-al

The theme for this week, I’m sure you all know,
Is ‘Nature’. Where plant stuff and animals grow!
But first, my regrets for my absence this week,
If you want to know why, then I’ll give you a peek!

Fairies in the woods...

Cohort Family #1

With cohort families #2 and #3.

Cascade Gardens, Banff, Alberta


And again...

I love this place, can you tell?


One last one.

Busy holidaying.

And conquering . . . things.

And waiting while others conquer things.

One last fairy in the woods...
This place had all amenities,
Like indoor plumbing, pool, and trees,
But one more reason we had fun?
Of WiFi, there was simply none!

Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thoughts,
Perhaps a grin?
So Jenny, Charlotte, Mimi, 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 a topic we all know,
'The Kitchen'. Come with me, we'll go...

Real Estates: All Murders Included in the Price!

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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

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A House Divided is now available at all fine bookstores and on and .ca!

Daughter of Ishmael

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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

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Need a fright?

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

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New Tween Novel!

Gnome for Christmas

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The newest in my Christmas Series


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

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

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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

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

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My Big Brother's Stories

Better Blogger Network

Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

The Liebster Award

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Irresistibly Sweet Award

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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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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?