Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Gratitude Attitude

Admit it, you'd love for someone
to make this for you !
I'm weird.
I do weird things.
I've accepted it.
Moving on . . .
I had taken my three-year-old granddaughter to The Mall.
The big mall. The one that covers many city blocks and holds many, many stores and attractions.
And several thousand people.
It is bright. Entertaining. Noisy.
And, at times, crowded.
Kids love it there.
Parents tolerate it.
Older people ignore the enticement of 'modern shopping gone mad' and use it as an indoor track during the interminable Edmonton winter.
'People-dodging' has become an accepted, even sought for work-out.
With all these people and attractions vying (real word) for our attention, it is only understandable that some . . . gentility might get lost.
Let me explain . . .
My granddaughter and I were waiting for my son to finish an interview.
We were hungry.
The choices were, truly, endless.
She chose McDonald's.
We ordered from a smiling young man. Chicken pieces for her.
Salad for me.
We found a booth and started eating.
Now, I should point out here that, for the most part, I like McDonald's food.
Not gourmet, but tasty and satisfying.
Even with those expectations, my salad was a very pleasant surprise.
It was good.
Really good.
In fact, probably one of the best salads I had ever eaten.
Crisp where it should be crisp. Cheesy where it should be cheesy. Olive-y where it should . . . you get the picture.
I looked at the brightly illustrated billboard to recall what I had ordered.
Ah. Mediterranean salad.
I finished.
And licked the bowl.
Okay, not quite, but I have to admit that I was certainly tempted.
My granddaughter finished her meal.
"Come with me, Sweetie." I took her hand and walked back to the counter.
A young woman was standing there, smiling brightly.
I went up to her. "Hello. May I please speak to the manager?"
Her smile . . . dimmed somewhat.
"Umm . . . yes?" She started to slide down the counter away from me.
I followed. Finally, "Are you the manager?"
She nodded hesitantly, by now, her smile all but gone.
"Oh, good. Well I have to tell you that I just ordered your Mediterranean salad," I pointed, "and it is probably the best salad I've tasted in my life. Thank you."
She stared at me. Finally, my words must have sunk in, because, suddenly, her face lit up.
Really. With the biggest smile I had ever seen.
"Oh, thank you!" she said, rather breathlessly.
The boy who had served us our meal suddenly appeared from the 'food' part of the establishment, where it would seem he had been hiding, and presented me with an equally large smile.
"Thank you!" he said.
I smiled at them and left.
I have to tell you that this isn't an unusual thing for me to do.
It started when I saw the movie, "Heaven Can Wait", with Warren Beatty. In one scene, he gets up from the very formal meal, served by his army of servants, and pushing open the kitchen door, hollers, "Thanks for dinner!" or something like that.
Now I had been raised to always compliment and thank my mother, or whoever had prepared my food in ours or someone else's home. I had just never taken it to the next level.
Thanking and complimenting someone you haven't even met. 
Or seen.
After that movie, I decided to try it.
With amazing results.
I've now been doing it for years.
Almost without fail, I receive surprised, but enthusiastic smiles.
And gratitude.
It's a simple thing.
A smile, a compliment, and a thank you.
It might put some much-needed sunshine into someone's day.
I know it did that day, in that crowded mall.
Into mine.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Farewell 2020


If I’d known in March that it would be my last time ‘eating out’,

I’d definitely have got dessert, ignored the Brussels sprouts,

Cause Season One of ‘20 hurt us more than just a bit,

Season Two was predetermined not to be a hit!

I never thought “I wouldn’t touch them with a six-foot pole”

Would someday be a way of life. And a global goal.

The dumbest thing I ever purchased, (bought at its premier)?

A planner to help schedule my 2020 year.

I can’t believe survival instincts kicked in on this wise:

To purchase toilet paper. (To keep you and yours alive?)

They said a mask and gloves were all I needed when I shopped,

They lied. The others all wore clothes. (And then they called the cops!)

“Please stand upon the big black X,” they told me right out flat,

But the Road Runner and Coyote taught me not to fall for that!

What and how much food you eat won’t matter one small bit,

Just know for sure your fav’rite earrings still will always fit…

We’re told that social distancing will make this virus pause,

The buttons on my shirts and jeans have taken up the cause!

I’m staying up on New Year’s. Not a party will I throw,

Cause I’m just staying up to make sure 2020 goes.

Here's to a MUCH BETTER New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Driving Miss Daisy

A guest post by my Husby, Grant.

Meet Daisy.
On the farm in the early 1960s, one of the daily chores – actually twice daily, morning and evening – was milking the cow. 
For a few years we had a super-gentle, highly-milk-productive Jersey cow named Daisy. 
In rotation with some of my brothers, our twice daily job was to go out into the north pasture, bring Daisy into the barn, and tease from her the twice-daily bounty of rich, creamy milk.
Milking Daisy wasn’t a terribly hard task.  She always stood very quietly while one of us milk-boys would sit on the three-legged stool beside her and extract her bounteous supply. 
Her only quirk – and I am convinced she knew exactly what she was doing – was that she quite enjoyed swishing her tail around to her human-occupied side, pretending to swat at flies but hitting us square in the side of the head with a rather hard and hairy-raspy appendage. I think it was her way of saying “hurry up, I haven’t got all day here!”  Daisy loved her rich pasture much better than the annoying milking barn.
Daisy’s pasture was directly north of the barn, and she seemed to always migrate to the far side, at least a half mile away.  When it was time for milking, we could always bet that she would be right in the far corner.  Bringing Daisy in was the hardest part of the milking routine, because we always had to walk out to bring her in – about a mile or more, twice a day.
Then, as a young lad, I discovered the concept of laziness.
I realized that Daisy was a gentle enough soul that I could actually hop up on her back and she would let me ride!  This cut down the twice-daily walking by half!! 
I thought I was pretty smart.
Except that Daisy liked her pasture. 
Oh, she would move alright when I was on her back, but she would head to yet another far corner of the pasture rather than towards the barn.
I decided that what Daisy needed was a steering wheel.  So one day, going out to get Daisy, I took an old corn broom with me, hopped up on Daisy’s back, and used the broom to “steer” her, so to speak.  She would start walking in a random direction, but if I wanted to steer her meanderings toward the left, I would cover her right eye with the broom – magic!  She would move left.  And of course the opposite happened when I needed to go to the right.  Within days I had the system perfected, and Daisy had been trained to take me right to the milking stall in the barn, complete with my laziness and broom steering mechanism.
Daisy was with us for many years.  I am sure my bones are still made out of her wonderful, fresh milk.  When Diane and I married, we bought two more lovely Jersey milk cows, Kitty and Bunny (that’s another story, click here) largely because of the good memories we had of Driving Miss Daisy.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Stuffed and Happy

A guest post by my eldest daughter, Caitlin.

In better health...
Back in October 2006, I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. 
Aside from the morning sickness that would hit any time it liked, it was a good pregnancy. 
During this time, I would sometimes hop the bus to the mall and peruse for some clothing that would fit my altering figure.
And occasionally find something for my hubby or the babby-to-come. 
One time, I went into a maternity store, but the only thing that caught my eye was a little stuffed dog toy. I bought it, thinking the new baby would (eventually) like to play with it. I paid for it, popped it in my bag and forgot about it.
I would remember it later . . .
Around that time, I was working women's clothing retail. It was my job to get the deliveries unwrapped and properly hung for display. I loved it, because it meant I didn't have to interact with people as much as the other ladies.
Ahem . . .
Also around that time, a rather nasty bug was making its merry way through everybody who worked there. It was a short-lived stomach flu, but it was still nasty.
Now, at the best of times, I dislike being sick. But I was about 5 months pregnant then, so I didn't have just me to worry about! The other ladies were very conscientious about my condition, but the bug wasn't.
I knew I had caught the flu when my hubby and I went to bed, and I couldn't control my nausea. Normally, I'd get a swift bout and I'd either run to the bathroom, or it would settle on its own. This night, after I ran to the bathroom for the third time, my sweetie got me a bucket to keep by the bed. By 3 am, I hadn't slept a wink, and I was starting to bring up food I hadn't even eaten yet.
Panic ensued.
Hubby bundled me into a jacket, and, bucket to hand, got me onto the next bus heading to the hospital.
We made it to the emergency, and when they found out I was pregnant and bringing up last week's meals, they tried very hard to get me in quickly.
Now, this was a hospital emergency ward. There were several other just-as-imperative cases there, including at least one car accident which I found out about after I'd been ushered into a cubicle and hooked up to an IV to combat my dehydration. They'd given me some Gravol to help with the nausea, and both hubby and I had managed to snooze a bit. 
Around 5 am, they took me in for an ultrasound to make sure the baby was okay. (It was) and when they wheeled me back, I noticed a little boy in tears in the emergency cubicle across from ours. 
His was the family that had been in the car accident. He was fine, but both his parents were immobilized, pending further tests to ensure no damages to . . . well, anything. 
All that little boy knew was that he couldn't sit with Mommy or Daddy, and he didn't know anybody there. The nurses tried to keep him occupied, but judging by the tears, they weren't succeeding.
That's when I remembered the little stuffed dog in my bag.
I pulled it out and told hubby to give it to the nurse to give to the little boy. 
Since the crying stopped soon after that, I think my tactic worked.
I was judged well enough to leave around 6 am, and we packed up our few things to get ready to go. I happened to glance into the main area where the nurse's desk was, and saw the little boy laughing with one of the nurses. She was stuffing the little dog into a vaccuum tube and sending it zipping up and down the vaccuum chute in the emergency ward. Every time it popped back down, the little boy would giggle so cutely I couldn't help but smile. We left to the sound of giggles, and that's when I knew why that little dog had caught my eye.
It's been fourteen years, and I would love to know what happened to that little boy and his parents.
Sometimes, we're moved upon to do things that we wouldn't ordinarily do.
Like me buying stuff.
 Not even I can say that with a straight face . . .

Monday, December 28, 2020



Bob’s party was a hit. And Jack had gladly overdone,
Sampling every drink and having an excess of fun,
But when the party ended, knowing he'd had too much stout,
Jack handed Bob his car keys and on foot, he started out.
He’d stumbled for a block or two, when a cop came from the dark,
And stopped him as Jack contemplated crossing Central Park.
“'Tis half-past four, and time you were at home and safely bedded.
Where have you been, my lad?” he asked. “And tell me where you’re headed.”
Well, Jack just looked at him and tried to straighten up his sight,
But everything stayed blurry, though he tried with all his might.
So finally, he shrugged and gave the cop a painful smile,
“I’m headed to a lecture, sir. And it will take a while.”
“A lecture at this time of night? Well, surely you are kidding!
Not that fun at all, in fact, it does sound quite forbidding!”
Well, Jack, he shrugged and then he frowned a tiny, little frown,
“It’s true, sir,” he defended. “And I'm going there right now!
I'm trying hard to save you from an incorrect conjecture,
I’m really on my way to sit and listen to a lecture!
And I'm thinking from this moment, I'll resolve to never revel,
'Cause that lecture's being given by none other than the devil!"
The cop frowned, “'Devil Lectures' in the wee hours of night?”
“Sir, I can get them any time, the devil is my wife!"

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?
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, our talents we'll apply
SPAGHETTI is the theme we'll try!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

PJ Game 2020

We have a tradition in our home.

Well, several, actually.
But I'm only going to talk about this one . . .
Pajamas. On Christmas eve.
And spaghetti, but that is another story.
So . . . pajamas.
Every year, Mom hunts up the most distinctive pattern she can find and everyone is forced excited to wear it.
So, in honour of this very special time, here are a few examples from the past.
 Christmas, 2002.  And no, that isn't a cow print couch . . .
Christmas 2003. And yes, we do look like escaped prisoners.

2007.  Little jump, here.

2008 and our numbers are increasing.
You can't see the striped socks, but they're there!
2009. Things are changing radically . . .
2010. What a mob!
2011. Well, a small, but important sample.
2012. The year of the polka dot.

2013 The year of the Googly

2014 - also glowed in the dark.
2015. What can I say? Gingham.
2016 Gramma and Grampa and a choice selection of Grands.
And PJ's. What do you think?
About this time, my DIL made for me from a selection of past pajamas . . .
Fifteen years of Tolley PJs

2019...most of us...

Also 2019...a selection of the grands. With their 'Grampa Names'!

And now 2020!
Eldest Son and Family

Second Son, ditto

Eldest Daughter and Family

Youngest Daughter and Family

Youngest Son and Family

How was your Christmas?
Colourful and bright?
I do hope it was MERRY!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

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!

Grab and Add!

Search This Blog

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?