Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, July 1, 2022

A For-Real Canadian

Canada Day.

For those of us who think Canada is the greatest little corner of the earth, a time to reflect on our blessings.
And so, a post about my son, the soldier.

Heading overseas.
In his first career, our second son was a soldier.
Mine/explosives expert.
Not a career his mama chose for him, I should point out. But one that, because he loves his country, he was happy to take on.
He was slated several times to go overseas.
But only did so once.
I probably should explain . . .
There is a good deal of heavy training that goes into a call overseas.
Both physical and mental.
My son’s squad had received their notice.
They were slated to go to Nijmegen, Holland
And were preparing.
Picture men and women running. Climbing.
And lifting heavy objects.
Sitting at desks and puzzling over complicated logic problems.
Okay, that’s how I pictured it.
In reality, their short tour to Nijmegen was one of goodwill.
So their training consisted of marching.
And marching.
The day of departure grew closer.
They were representing Canada.
They needed to be properly outfitted.
They were issued new uniforms.
Including new boots.
Which they were instructed to wear.
While marching.
Now I don’t have to point out to you what the combination of new boots and 8 hours of marching can do.
Our son developed blisters.
Blisters on his blisters.
Which immediately became badly infected.
You’ve heard about a soldier only being as good as his feet?
It’s true.
He was put on the ‘injured’ list and sent back to base.
Somewhat disappointed and rather embarrassed.
But another tour was announced.
A real tour.
To Bosnia.
Real training this time.
Including the aforementioned (good word) running, climbing and lifting of things heavy.
Two days before they were ship out, my son was clearing some brush near the base.
Using a machete.
Which he had just sharpened.
His hand slipped. Slightly.
And he nicked his opposite thumb.
A quarter of an inch.
But it was a surgically precise quarter of an inch.
He managed to sever the tendon in his left thumb.
The surgeon assigned to fish out the two tendon ends and put them back together said she’d never seen anything like it.
Is she hadn’t been an eye-witness, she never would have believed that anyone could manage such a delicate and accurate operation with a scalpel.
Let alone with a huge machete.
‘Injured’ list again.
Needless to say, by this time, he was getting quite discouraged.
But I must admit that his parents were secretly happy.
Don’t tell him . . .
His third call came to serve overseas.
He again responded.
And this time - finally - succeeded.
For the better part of a year, he served as head of the mine cell on the base.
He did well.
And was commended.
Then came home to us.
I remember that first evening, after he stepped out of our van.
He immediately walked over and stood in the middle of the lawn.
We stared at him.
What had our son been learning overseas?
“I haven’t stood on grass for 10 months,” he said. “You don’t dare. Over there.”
Huh. Something we had never really thought about before.
We had assumed all of his sacrifices were made in the going.
We hadn’t realized the extent of what he was giving up while he was there.
To him and all who serve with him, thank you.
Happy 155th Birthday!

Thursday, June 30, 2022


Yep. They’re on their own...
Our eldest son isn't someone who could be considered 'sneaky'.

In fact, I think he swings quite the other way.
Oh, he tries.
In fact, when he was little, he used to fancy himself a ninja.
The master of subtlety and sneak-iness.
But when it came to actually . . . shifting the blame, or obfuscation of facts?
He was lost.
And oddly enough, it was usually because he couldn’t bear to leave things in a disorderly manner.
Let's face it. Sneaking into other people's possessions, and tidying them before you leave?
Better than they were before?
Not the most subtle of practices.
When ES was 12, his scout group was fund-raising.
He dutifully received his case of chocolate-covered almonds.
I should point out that he was supposed to sell them.
He didn't.
The case of packages rested - for safety's sake and because I knew my almond-loving son - on the floor in my bedroom.
Daily, I lifted one of the boxes on top and rattled it.
Just to make sure it hadn't been tampered with.
In hindsight, I should have dug deeper.
Moving on . . .
The evening came when we had been planning to go door-to-door.
I lifted the case.
It was surprisingly light.
Much too light.
I discovered that the only boxes that actually contained almonds were the four on the top.
ES had been systematically eating the rest.
Then tidily sealing the empties and putting them back into the box.
He also had a thing for ice cream.
The sneaking of which was a family Olympic sport.
But where the other kids would grab a spoon and sneak a bite, then dispose of said spoon into the sink where it would instantly achieve anonymity, ES would get out a bowl.
And spoon.
Sneak his ice cream.
Then rinse the bowl and spoon.
And set them in the freezer.
With the ice cream.
Remember what I said about subtlety?
Yep. Not happening.
Years have passed.
I can't comment about his almond/ice cream snitching ways or their effectiveness today.
His wife and his six kids have to worry about that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Museum Piece

Picture it green. And nickel-plated.

When my Husby was a teenager, he bought an old truck.

Which he painted green.
Forever after, it was known as The Frog. And became a common sight on the streets of Fort MacLeod, Alberta.
The Frog was Husby's pride and joy.
He loved tinkering with it.
Often, his father commented on the amount of time spent with that old truck.
And the dollars.
“What are you doing now?” he asked one day. “Nickle-plating it?”
Husby laughed...but an idea was born.
He bought a small tin of aluminium paint.
Then crawled under the truck.
Scraped the rust and dirt off the chassis.
And painted it.
Shortly thereafter his father took the truck down to the local shop to have the oil changed.
The mechanic slid underneath to begin proceedings.
“Hey!” he shouted. “It's chrome-plated under here!”
Husby's dad had to see it. Then shook his head and snickered. “I knew it!”
Later, Husby and many, many friends were heading to a youth activity down near the river in Lethbridge.
The cab of the truck was stuffed with young bodies. (Pre-seatbelt days—how did we survive?!)
And the back with many more.
A policeman pulled them over.
“Have you been drinking?” he asked my Husby.
“No officer. We are just heading to a youth activity.”
“Well you have a taillight out,” the officer said. “While we're at it, let's give this truck the once-over.”
The officer and his trusty flashlight began a systematic search for 'things wrong'.
Brake lights.
High/low beams.
Horn. Husby pulled out the ashtray.
The horn honked loudly.
The officer swung his flashlight back to the console.
“Do that again!” he said.
Husby pulled out the ashtray.
“This thing belongs in a museum!”
He was right.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

War by the Bucketful

Not just for food storage any more.

Second Son is tall.

In his stocking feet, six-foot-eight. Put shoes on the lad and . . . well, you get the picture.
I have a close family friend.
I don't want to say that she is short, but . . . okay, she is short.
Her head reaches somewhere between our son's chest and his belt buckle.
She makes up for lack of quantity with excess of quality.
In fact, the word 'feisty' might describe her perfectly.
SS used to tease her about her height.
Or lack thereof.
I should point out that this woman has six children of her own. She could give it right back.
One day, she and SS had been exchanging insults.
After a particularly pointed comment which ended with his pretending to put an elbow on the top of her head and using her as a fence post, she tried something a little more proactive.
“Oh!” she said. Nearby was a bucket of honey.
Okay, yes. When one has six children, plus foster kids, one buys honey by the bucketful.
Moving on . . .
She pushed the bucket close and stood up on it.
I should point out that it only increased her height by about ten inches. Not nearly enough.
“Ha!” she said, looking up into his face. “What are you going to do now?”
SS merely stepped backwards.
“Oh!” She said again. She jumped off her bucket and kicked it over beside him.
Then she stepped up once more.
“Ha!” she said a second time.
He stepped back once more.
This went on for some time.
She pushed that bucket of honey all over the kitchen.
Somehow, confrontation is a bit less . . . confrontational . . . when one partner has to keep moving their honey bucket to continue with the . . . confrontation.
I wonder if we could market this idea on a global scale . . .

Monday, June 27, 2022

Sing With Me

My Hero.

Born and raised in China
And studied in Beijing,
She was considered brilliant
In most everything!


Fine malariologist,

Found artemisinin,

Won the Nobel prize in ‘15

For the fight that she did win.


Millions have been saved by her,

The road she walked was rough!

But singing Happy Birthday to

Tu Youyou? Well, it’s tough!

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 Monday's Independence Day!
You really cannot stay away!

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!)...

The Happy Birthday song (June 27) Today!

Independence Day (US) or Sidewalk egg-frying day (July 4)

Loneliness (July 11)

Ice Cream (July 18)

Old Jokes (July 25)

Girlfriends (August 1) 
Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night (August 8)
Lemon Meringue Pie Day (August 15)

Be an Angel Day (August 22)
Bats -or-  More Herbs, Less Salt (August 29)

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!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?