Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, November 6, 2020

So Similar Siblings

Three little boys were playing around the cul-de-sac in Camper’s Village.
All three were armed with swords—or variations on a theme.
Their play had ranged through the trees, behind the neighbour’s RV, past the water spigot, through the bathrooms, over the garbage receptacles and ‘not too far now, Amos!’ into the woods that surrounded us.
Over gravelled street, flagged guy rope, thickly-needled path and grassy knoll.
It was this last in which they came to grief.
The three had just achieved their goal—the very tiptop of the evil king’s castle—and were ready to proclaim their justly-deserved triumph when one bumped the other (who knows how these things start?) and the smallest one fell backward onto his little sturdily-covered bottom.
He landed on the ground with a thump and a gasped out ‘****!’.
His startled mother provided comfort and then hurried instruction pertaining to appropriate language for appropriate moments.
A short time later, three small squirrels, brothers or sisters or a combination of the two were playing in the trees in the cul-de-sac in Camper’s Village.
All three were armed with shrill voices—or variations on a theme.
Their play ranged through said trees, our campsite, the neighbour’s campsite, the common area, and at least one stand of thick forest grass.
Over outhouse, parked cars, two sleeping dogs, three picnic tables, one startled camper and up the largest tree.
It was this last in which they came to grief.
The three had just achieved their goal—the very tiptop of the greatest tree—and were loudly proclaiming their triumph when one bumped the other (who knows how these things start?) and the smallest one fell backward onto his furry tail.
He landed on the ground with a thump and a gasped out ‘****!’.
His mother appeared in a nearby tree and chittered at him loudly, noises we campers assumed were words of comfort and hurried instruction pertaining to appropriate language for appropriate moments.

This happened exactly as presented here. Both stories.
Doesn’t it just prove the point: In some ways, we’re—all of us—exactly alike?

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Terror in the Night

This post is a departure for me.

I don't often make political statements or comment on world situations.
I choose instead to dwell in the past.
It's peaceful there.
But I had an experience . . .

I’ve always thought that I lived in a safe, peaceful world.
As much as anyone could at a time when acts of terror are delivered up with our morning coffee.
Let’s face it, when one lives miles from the nearest town and many more miles from the nearest city, the chances of world-attention-grabbing incidents are few.
But on that night, I had a soup├žon of what the rest of the world is enduring . . .
We were on holiday.
Suffice it to say we were deep in the Canadian north woods.
A place of few ‘civilized’ comforts.
Where an early-morning discussion of a group of Ravens or the scramble and squabble of a family of squirrels through the trees is much more likely than the reality of a newspaper or an early-morning commute.
We had been there over a week.
And in that period had witnessed—several times—the glorious and awe-inspiring fury of a summer storm, but only caught the barest whiff of the latest heinous world-wide assaults.
It had been wonderful to be able, just for a time, to let the world and its pain pass by us.
That night, we said good-night to our neighbors and ducked inside our dependable little tent.
The usual night sounds lulled us and we settled peacefully into sleep.
Then, at 3:00 AM, I was jerked suddenly from my slumber.
Someone was screaming.
A hoarse male voice.
Then I heard the sounds of others.
Also shouting.
At one point, they began to chant.
Then more screaming.
And, the most terrifying of all, the pounding of dozens—could it be hundreds?— of feet on the ground.
Were they growing closer?
Okay, in this morning light, I know now that it was probably a drunken group of holidayers, maybe watching a drinking game or contest of some sort.
But at the time, in the dark of a moonless night, when one is snatched from a deep sleep to unfamiliar surroundings, the sound was terrifying.
Maybe it was because of the real and constant danger that seems to be closing in on us in these dark days.
Maybe it was my own vivid imagination.
But for a while, I felt what millions of people the world over feel every single day.
Waiting for the inevitable juggernaut of twisted power to overtake and crush us.
Unlike those peoples, I awoke in my peaceful little world.
But, just for a moment, I had a glimpse.
And my heart is now truly theirs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Getting Badgered



The Stringam ranch sprawled out over many, many miles.
And took many hands to cover.
My Dad was twelve and had happily, and of necessity, joined the ranks of the ranch-employed aboard the first horse he could truly call his own.
The recently-broke and still fairly green, Queenie.
His pride and joy.
His first assignment was to keep an eye on the bulls.
I should point out, here, that the bulls were kept in the South pasture.
A vast, open field which went on forever.
With an outer fence that also went on forever.
Back to my story . . .
This fence had to be constantly patrolled.
On the other side of it were the Community Pastures.
Filled with . . . community cattle.
All female.
And none pregnant.
A state which their owners wished to preserve.
So someone had to explain to the bulls that any form of interaction was distinctly discouraged.
This was Dad's job. Make sure that the fence was doing its job.
Keeping the heifers on the one side . . .
And the bulls on the other.
But bulls are, after all, bulls.
And when the siren song goes off in their vicinity, they must answer.
With voice and/or action.
Usually action.
What's a paltry five lines of tightly-stretched barbed wire when love is calling to you from the other side?
They would ignore it as if it wasn't there.
And that's where Dad came in.
At a gallop.
Chase the bulls back.
Fix the fence.
He got pretty good at his job.
One day, he was riding along the fence.
Everything was unusually calm.
Then, something moved.
A brown head poked up out of the great sea of grass.
A brown head with darker brown stripes.
Dad had never seen a badger close up.
He turned Queenie towards it.
It turned away from them and started off across the prairie.
They followed.
It ran faster.
They pursued faster.
After a few minutes of this, the badger had had enough . . . umm . . . badgering.
He turned and attacked.
Well. Hissed.
At this point, Queenie decided she was finished with this adventure.
Dad could go it alone.
She piled him, forceably, into the prairie dust.
And left him there.
Dad screamed and jumped to his feet, certain that his beloved horse had landed him on the badger.
Or near enough that the badger would soon be on him.
He pictured teeth and claws.
And ravening. He wasn't sure what that was, but it sounded nasty.
He looked frantically around.
The badger had disappeared completely.
He took a deep breath of relief, then recovered his horse and continued with his job.
Dad decided, then and there, that the only four-footed animals he and Queenie would chase would be the big ones with hooves.
And horns.
They were safer.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Building. Or destroying.

 This is as political as I get. Because it is a politically important day.

 I live in the seventh-fastest growing city in Canada.
True story.
Of course, with the pandemic, that statistic may have slowed somewhat.
But only slowed.
During my thrice-daily walks, I still see a lot of construction. Houses. Businesses. Streets and infrastructure.
At one of the three schools near me, a portable fence was erected a couple of weeks ago. Then men and machines appeared and scrabbling began. Great heaps of earth were thrown up and men and smaller machines boiled about the site.
Finally, their project progressed enough that an actual structure began to take recognizable shape.
Ah. A future ice rink.
One of several that passed through city planning a few months ago.
As I stood and watched those men in their so-productive activities, I was suddenly reminded of something my dad said years (and years) ago.
“Louie,” he said.
He called me Louie. Just FYI.
“Louie, everyone in the world has a need to make their mark. The weak do it by destroying. The strong do it by building. You have to decide which you are. One of the weak? Or one of the strong.
Will you make your mark by destroying?
Or by building?”
I’ve often thought about Daddy’s wise words.
Because, of course, he wasn’t speaking strictly of things created with hammers and nails.
He was also speaking of relationships.
Of business models.
Of governments.
Of living.
On this day of days, when so much is being decided by my beloved brothers and sisters to the south, I am again asking my father’s question: Are you going to make your mark by destroying?
Or by building.
My prayers are with you.

Monday, November 2, 2020

More Than Learning

 I know you might find this one hard to believe,

But after grade three, teachers had a reprieve,

I followed the rules and did what I was told,

While others cut up, I’as not cheeky. Nor bold!

And so to my Dad, and his ‘doings’ gigantic,

I’ve had to resort for this week’s ‘High School Antic’!  

Dad and his Partner-In-Crime, Mom

Now my Dad, and his friends (not sure which the trailblazer),

Tried all sorts of shenanigans, (bunch of hell-raisers!),

From ‘car-theft’ at 10 to work-pranks at fifteen,

And lots more tomfooleries betwixt and between,

But one of my favourites pops up to the top,

In more ways than one, as you’ll see ‘fore I stop.

See, Dad was mechanical, and understood gears,

And had to support him a large group of peers,

The bunch of them (this is just how mischief spreads…)

Got a prank of significance into their heads,

Their high school headmaster was a man good and true,

Did his best for his kids, to them knowledge imbued,

He wasn’t a man of material means,

What he had was well-used, often mocked by his teens.

He had an old car, a ‘jalopy’ some said,

It had seen a few years, part alive and part dead,

Well, one day those boys, without much of a ‘think’,

Disassembled that car just as quick as a wink,

With wrenches and tools that they brought in from home,

Thus ensuring that old car would ne’er again roam,

Now your thoughts on this matter are surely allied,

Your thinking those boys needed well-warmed backsides,

Please know ‘fore you drag the switch out (to disproof),

The boys re-assembled it.

Up on the roof.


Cause Monday’s do get knocked a lot,

With POETRY, we all besought,

To try to make the week begin

With pleasant thoughts,

Perhaps a grin?

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, we’ve something you won’t hate

‘A Domestic Incident’ from Spike’s Best Mate!

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

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My Big Brother's Stories

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Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
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Sunshine Award!!!
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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
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