Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, February 18, 2022

Heroes

The school massacre in Newtown Connecticut has been in the news again recently.

The stories are still branded in the memory.
Horrific tales of terror, panic and death.
And the agony that followed.
But out of those stories have risen tales of heroism and bravery unequalled anywhere in history.
The principal and school psychologist who lost their lives as they rushed toward danger when the first shots were heard.
The teachers who hid children in closets and cupboards and bathrooms and then kept them absolutely quiet and safe as terror stalked past.
And those who used their last shield, themselves, in a desperate and often futile bid to save the lives of the little children in their care.
They are true heroes.
In every sense of the word.
And I weep for them and their sacrifice.
It has gotten me thinking of the heroes in my life.
The men and women who have appeared, sometimes fleetingly, and had a profound and lasting influence.
My Mom, who taught me responsibility, caring for others and to always, always be kind.
My Dad, who taught me the value of integrity, hard work and a sense of humour.
My eldest brother who taught me generosity.
My next older brother, who taught me the joy of friendship.
My oldest sister, who showed me true patience.
My youngest sister, who is a constant example of focused energy and unfettered joy.
My youngest brother, who showed me that one must never quit. That by keeping on, great things are accomplished.
There were others.
Teachers who spent their entire lives . . . teaching.
Store owners who cared.
Neighbours who watched out for.
People who appeared only briefly and taught me wonderful, important things.
And, more recently, the men and women manning the front lines in our own war with Covid.
None of them have had to make the ultimate sacrifice on my behalf.
None of them will ever appear in a newspaper or on TV as a description of their heroism is proclaimed aloud.
But still, they are heroes.
And they need recognition.
So to those whose actions are so justifiably blazoned across news headlines and TV spots.
And those whose quiet contribution is not as noticeable or dramatic.
I am offering a prayer of gratitude today.
Thank you.
All of you.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Writing Better-ly

A guest post by Diane’s chief proof-reader and editor: Anonymous Husby-Figure

As all of you out there in blog-land know by now, my Beloved Diane likes to write. I for one think that she does it very well.  But – horrors! – sometimes she makes a mistake.
Some time ago, she appointed me to be her proof-reader/editor/fixer-upper by insisting that, although she really does proof-read her columns before she posts them, sometimes typos and grammos just slip in there and hide. 
“Grammo” is the pet word I concocted for her very infrequent “grammatical” errors.
 Over the months, the most frequent of her infrequent grammos was the use of the wrong form of “its” or “it’s” as in: “Its simply not acceptable if it’s apostrophe is missing when its really needed  or present when its not.”  
So to speak.
So I do try to catch Diane’s  typos and grammos, because I do believe it makes for a better read not to have them in there, and I believe that it shows respect to you, her readers.
I do not claim to be a perfect writer, but I did learn early while chasing an elusive education the importance of being word-perfect.  So if you will indulge me, I will do as my Beloved does so well and regale you with the story of where my typo-grammo mania came from.

It was the early 1980s and I was in a graduate school senior seminar, learning French Revolution history and cultural anthropology from Dr. de Luna.  (His name of course is of French extraction, and we often heard about his relationship to the moon – “lune” in French.  Some of my classmates preferred to suggest that it was “loon”, others wondered whether there was a vampire connection, but most of us ended by irreverently, although affectionately,  referring to him as Professor De Lunatic.)  Now besides endless etymological meanderings about his name, Dr. De Luna liked to tell us, almost daily, about how any written work, as in papers and articles, that we gave him HAD TO BE WORD AND LETTER PERFECT.  A summary of his reasonings: “It is disrespectful of your reader if said reader stumbles over typos and grammos  WHICH ARE ENTIRELY AVOIDABLE because you MISGUIDED doctoral candidates were TOO LAZY to proof-read it.  Your work is therefore sub-standard because your miserably lame analysis and argument that you think is intelligent discourse is unreadable because your reader is distracted when  having to stop to figure out what it is that you MEANT to say when you made your typo  . . . . . “ 
I think you get the point.  We got the message, many many times over.
Not so lunatic, when you stop to think about it.
So, time came for us to present to the dear Professor our first major research papers; and, a few days later, time to hand the graded papers back and discuss them in seminar.
Dr. De Luna went around the room, handing each paper back to its (notice this is the right one!) author, each with some mostly encouraging commentary and all with some very vociferous praise for being letter-perfect in the typo and grammo department.
All but one paper – the one belonging to a good friend, Ostap.
Now you should know that Ostap had a great sense of humour, was actually a very good scholar, but he had not internalized the message about being word-perfect.  He just didn’t think it was all that important.  At least not yet.
We came to discover, by the Professor’s 10-minute+ recapitulation of the obviously degenerate if not criminal intent and nature of anyone who dared to hand in a paper IN THIS SEMINAR that was anything LESS than word perfect, once again how important this whole typo-grammo business was. 
At the end of his lecture (not the one about the French Revolution), Dr. de Luna passed this last paper to Ostap, with a scowl and a stare, and asked: “So, Mr. Ostap, what do you think I should do about this sort of thing?  Hmmmmm!???”
Ostap quipped back without the blink of an eye:  “I think you should stop worrying about it so much!  You’ll enjoy life a lot more and live a lot longer!”
We weren’t sure how long Ostap was going to survive.
But he did, and went on to a bright future.  
But not as a writer.
Dr. De Luna retired shortly after.  We think it was because of a brain aneurysm.  Caused by the lodging of typos and grammos in the blood vessels of the brain . . . .

And so, my friends, I pledge to continue doing my best to save you from typos and grammos in my Beloved’s columns.

Its the least I can do.  (Oops!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Seamed

Okay, it seemed bad to me!!!
And ignore the glasses!
I was 12.
I had acne.
My life was over.

Looking back, it couldn't have been all that bad, but when I compared my blotched and disfigured face to that of my best friend, with her milky, creamy, clear, totally spot-free complexion, I just wanted to wear a paper bag over my head.
And did, but that is another story . . .
My mom sympathized.
She said she knew exactly what I was feeling. But I had seen clear-skinned pictures of her as a girl.
She wasn't fooling anyone.
But she did buy me different 'cures'.
They didn't help much. But they made us both feel pro-active.
One such cure was a thin, pink liquid that one painted on.
With a brush.
What it didn't accomplish in actual pimple eradication, it more than made up for in unique-ness.
And price.
For months, every evening, I would carefully coat my face, neck to forehead. Then I would wait.
Now, the instructions were very clear on this point. One applied the product to every visible surface. Then one waited.
Twenty minutes. While said product dried and tightened. And tightened. Until one's face was roughly the colour and consistency of a native signal drum.
Then, just as the wearer/owner was certain that all facial features had successfully merged into one great shiny shapeless mass, one could wash.
The relief was instant. And unfathomable. 
Okay, I don't know what that word means, but it sounds distinctly . . . deep.
Which is what the relief was.
Moving on . . .
For many weeks, the process was adhered to.
Without fail.
And also without results, but I'm nothing if not persistent.
Then, one night, I made the fatal error:
I painted myself. Lay back on my bed to wait the requisite twenty and promptly committed the final, unforgivable sin.
I fell asleep.
When I woke the next morning, my pillow felt . . . strange.
Rather . . . sticky. And at the same time . . . gritty.
What had Mom done to the laundry?
And why hadn't I noticed it when I first went to bed?!
I sat up and stared down at the pillow.
It was covered with pink slivers of  . . . something.
I could see them glinting in the morning light.
Slivers?
Then it hit me.
I gasped and made a record sprint to the bathroom.
I washed. Then, towelled myself dry and leaned in to the mirror for a close look.
And shrieked. 
Lines seamed my normally youthful skin.
Deep lines, following the natural and heretofore unseen creases in my skin and caused by the drying and cracking of the evil pink coating.
I looked . . . old.
At least thirty!
Or a hundred.
My life was truly over.
I slumped down on the side of the tub and hid my face in my hands.
Mom, who had come running when I screamed, skidded to a stop beside me.
She moved my hands aside and looked at me and her eyes widened. "What did you do?"
"I fell asleeeeep!"
She started to laugh. "It'll be okay."
OKAY???! Was she nuts? I stood up and moved, with her, to the mirror.
"Look at me! I look . . . ancient!"
"It'll go away."
I shook my head in disbelief. 
I knew I was forever disfigured.
Nothing on earth could fix this.
I would be regarded as the freak.
The 'Seamed One'.
The . . .
"Breakfast is ready," Mom said.
Okay, my despair could wait until after I had been fed.
I followed her to the table.
For a short, wonderful while, I forgot my troubles in a stack of pancakes with scrambled eggs, bacon and hot chocolate.
My favourite.
But meals can only last so long and the school bus was drawing nearer, even as we ate.
I could put it off no longer.  I got up and made my slow, unhappy way back to the bathroom, feet dragging.
Only to discover that Mom had been right!
The lines were nearly gone. Ah, the resiliency of youth. And youthful skin.
With lighter steps, I bounced back into the kitchen. "You were right, Mom!"
She nodded. But she was careful not to say, 'I told you so'.

I learned from that experience.
After that, I spent very little time 'pimple hunting'.
I really didn't have that many.
And I had definitely seen worse.

P.S. The lines are back. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

My Robo-Valentine

Continuing with Valentine’s celebrations just a bit...


He was contemplating going...somewhere.

He had gotten out of bed.

And pulled on his easily-donned trousers and shirt.

Then things got...complicated.

He needed his special socks. The tight ones requiring much grunting to acquire.

Then orthotics. Particular shoes.

Good so far.

He fussed with his hearing aids.

Then paused before the dresser deciding between three pairs of glasses.

Finally, his hat, coat and gloves.

And that special scarf that covers his neck just right so he won’t get a chill.

I thought the entire operation was adorable.

Especially when, at the last he stood proudly before me. “I’m ready,” he announced. He turned away and added in a mumble, “Mind you, it was a bit like assembling Iron Man. Without the benefit of robots.”

45 years we’ve been together. He just keeps getting cuter!

And I love him!

Monday, February 14, 2022

Sublime Valentine

Oh, Valentine, my Valentine,
Toward your kitchen, I incline.
What ecstasy again is mine,
Your bread is great, your cakes, divine.
At night upon my bed, recline,
For gastronomic Heaven pine
And toss my head, all leonine,
And think of trips so clandestine.
I know perfection will be mine,
My engine fueled by food sublime.
Though my figure trends toward ‘bovine’.
Your name upon the stove enshrine.
And write in letters nine-by-nine,
My heart is yours, my Valentine!


Photo Credit: Karen of bakinginatornado.com
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 just might have some clout,
‘Predictions’ we will talk about...

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!)...

Valentine (February 14) Today!

Predictions (February 21)

DNA (February 28)

Telephone (or Say Hello Day) (March 7) 

Genius Day (March 14) 
Celebrating Poetry (March 21) 
Respect Your Cat Day (March 28) (Richard II's 1384 edict forbidding eating them.)
Imperfection (April 4)


And to my eldest granddaughter, Megan:
Happy 19th birthday, Sweetheart!
I love you!



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SnowMan
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My novel, Carving Angels

My novel, Carving Angels
Read it! You know you want to!

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What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

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Connect with me on Maven

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Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from Smashwords.com

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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!


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Ghost of the Overlook
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