Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, September 2, 2022

Soothing the Savage Soldier

 Since today is the anniversary of VJ Day, I’ve had my soldier’s son’s experiences on my mind...

Our Engineer - far right.
Our son, an army engineer, was on his Combat Leadership course.
It was gruelling. 
Months of training.
An adrenaline rush of enacting scenarios.
Analyzing situations.
Digging in and getting dirty.
And added to the daily duty roster, morning inspections.
Not only must they learn how to survive, even thrive in battle situations, they had to look good while they did it.
So each evening, after dinner, was spent in cleaning oneself and one's gear in preparation for inspection directly after breakfast the next morning.
For the most part, the soldiers enjoyed it.
It was a chance to unwind.
Kibitz around a bit.
Laugh and joke.
And keep their adrenalin up with pounding, exhilarating music.
At least that was what they called it.
Loud. Fast. Heavy.
Followed immediately by bed.
Needless to say, it took some time to wind down.
Except for our son.
Whose choice of music was a little more . . . conservative.
He would drift away almost immediately to the soft, soothing strains of Loreena McKennitt.
Or Enya.
One evening some time after lights out, the men were restless.
Knowing that their morning would come fast, not to mention early, they were anxious to get some needed sleep.
And it was proving elusive.
Again, except for our son, who had his stereo by his ear and had already drifted away.
To Enya.
One of the soldiers noticed.
And commented.
It had given him an idea.
The next evening, the group completed their usual day-end tasks.
To their usual music.
Then crawled into their bunks.
Lights were doused.
Then, out of the darkness, a voice.
“Hey, Tolley. Play us some of your music.”
Our son turned up the song he was currently listening to. 
Only Time.
Within seconds the sounds of snoring filled the dorm.
After that, immediately following lights-out, the strains of choice were something soft.
And sleepy.
The magic of music.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Stand-ing for Something

My middle son, who lives on the West coast, was talking about seeing a lemonade stand where he lives.
Said son was lamenting because he wasn’t carrying cash when he spotted the stand and thus wasn’t able to offer any monetary support.
“I hate to not give them anything,” he told me.
I was surprised, not because he isn’t known for his generosity, but because he was so upset about it.
Then he explained:
He had been operating a lemonade stand in his dim and distant youth. (I’m sure I had something to do with it, though the details are a lot fuzzier for me than for him.)
Picture it, if you will. Little eight-year-old dwarfed by the table before him, flanked by paper cups, too-large pitcher of sparkling yellow juice but armed with a big grin and tons of enthusiasm. A large, hand-printed card is prominently displayed. ‘Lemonade: 25¢’.
A construction worker approached and asked for a glass. It was carefully poured and handed over. The man produced a five-dollar bill and passed it to the small boy, who promptly produced his little cash box and started to count.
“Never mind,” the man said. “Keep the change.” Smiling, he walked back up the street.
Leaving his little server staring at the bill, an incredulous – but happy – smile now covering his face.
That small boy never forgot that act of generosity.
And now, every chance he gets, he pays it forward. 
Husby and I were touched by his story.
The weather here in Northern Alberta has been just lovely. Warm. Sunny. Perfect for the little lemonade stands that periodically dot our town.
A couple of days ago, Husby and I spotted one. A brother and sister. Little budding entrepreneurs smiling hopefully at everyone who passed.
They were doing a brisk business.
We gave them all our change. It just seemed the right thing to do.
But even our little act of kindness was eclipsed by a story Husby and I watched last night on the evening news...
David Hove, 10, dreamed of earning enough money to buy an X-Box and had started a little muffin stand in front of his family home in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Nature called and he grabbed his cash box and made a quick trip into the house.
In the few minutes he was away, a white SUV pulled up and a man got out and helped himself to the boy’s table, cooler, stock and even his little water bottle.
David came out of the house to discover that his little dream had disappeared.
But the story went out through the neighbourhood and across the country.
And soon people were bringing donations to help him get on his feet again.
In almost less time than it took the thief to steal David’s dream, it was restored. 
In fact, someone came with a spanking new X-Box and handed it to the boy.
With a smile that could be seen across the country, David hugged his prize. When asked if he was going to stop selling now that he had achieved his goal, he replied, “Nope.”
“What are you going to save for now?” the interviewer asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe a car?!” David said, grinning.
Good luck, David. 
My faith in human kindness is restored.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Going in the Woods

Ahhh! Romance!
Our good friends had been dating for some time.
For a young man deeply in love, a despairingly long time.
He had decided that the moment had come.
In a surge of love and commitment, he had purchased . . . the ring.
Then, being a man of imagination and daring, he plotted . . . the proposal.
He would take his love to their favourite place and pop the question there.
Where was their favourite place? 
The woods.
All had gone according to plan.
They had rambled along the woodsy paths.
Had a picnic.
The time had come to hide the ring, then lead his love to the magical spot.
And propose.
He excused himself, citing ‘having to take care of some business’.
Now I don’t know about you, but if I was walking with someone in the woods, and he excused himself saying . . . that . . . I know what I would think.
His soon-to-be-if-all-went-well fiancée thought the same thing.
He disappeared.
She sat on a log among the pink, white and indigo flowers and waited.
Finally, a large grin of satisfaction on his face, her date returned.
She stood up.
“So!” he said heartily, thinking of the ring he had just so cleverly hidden. “Do you want to see where I went?”
Now, in his mind, all was sweet, romantic and full of promise and anticipation as he led his love to that beautiful, magical little clearing.
In hers . . .
“Umm . . . no,” she said, giving him a strange look.
It took a moment to register.
His well-planned, uber-romantic idea had just fallen flat.
‘Business in the woods’ flat.
And looking in from the outside, I would have to side with her.
Oh, they did get engaged.
And married.
Enjoyed parenthood and are now enjoying grandparenthood.
He just learned, when planning surprises, he had to be more careful of how things look.
And how he worded them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022


It’s ‘Back to School’ time hereabouts.
The Sweet and Innocent Grade Ones. Really.
In the sixties, schools had strict rules.
Breaking said rules carried punishments.
1. A severe ‘talking to’.
2. Being kept in at recess or lunch hour. Or *shudder* 
3. being sent to the *gasp* principal’s office. Where there was always the looming specter of ‘THE STRAP’.
Which, I should point out, none of us had ever seen. But which our entire class had heard on one occasion. But that is another story.
Moving on . . .
I started grade one in the fall of 1960.
There were three of us Stringams in Milk River Elementary at that time.
Myself. My next older brother, George, in grade three. And our eldest brother, Jerry, in grade six.
Our eldest sister, Chris, had just graduated to Junior High. Because she had reached the unbelievable and unreachable age of twelve.
Jerry and his classmates ruled our school. We lowly serfs in grade one observed their doings with awe bordering on worship.
I should mention that this was the brother who teased me mercilessly at home. And who Mom chased around with the broom.
But at school, he was a lord.
He could do no wrong.
We spent hours in observation.
And mimicry.
Until . . . the event.
Remember when I was talking about rules/punishment?
Well that comes into play here.
In Milk River Elementary School in 1960, the principal had instituted a bold new form of punishment.
I am not making this up. We really had punishment by lemon.
And no one was exempt.
No one.
On Friday mornings during Assembly . . .
Oh, I should also tell you we had Assembly every Friday morning.
Ahem . . .
On Friday mornings, any malefactors were marched to the front of the gym, before the entire school population, and handed a lemon. Which they then had to peel and eat.
For most of them, it was a painful process.
For those of us watching, it was a painful process.
Let’s just say it. Rules in Milk River Elementary weren’t often broken.
But one time, it was my brother, Jerry who had transgressed. It was his turn to stand there.
And he had company.
Let me explain . . .
Jerry’s teacher was busily doing 'teacher' things at her desk. Jerry and his friend, Stan had made a paper jet. Okay, yes, they were supposed to be doing school work. This was more fun.
They threw it.
And watched, proudly, as it flew, straight and smooth. Then, in dismay, as it sailed neatly out into the hall.
It landed at the feet of the Principal, who just happened to be standing there at that precise moment.
He picked it up.
The boys held their breath and watched.
The Principal looked at the clever little plane. Then, forgetting himself for a moment, threw it back into the room.
In full view of the teacher, who chose that moment to look up.
If there was a punishment bell, it would have clanged loudly at that point.
Paper planes were on the ‘forbidden’ list.
And all three ‘launchers’ were guilty.
At that Friday’s Assembly, my brother and Stan--and the Principal--all took their places at the front of the gym.
Each was handed a lemon.
Which Jerry and Stan peeled and ate at lightning speed. Just to get out of the spotlight.
The Principal took his time. Wincing with every bite.
The assembled students were screaming with laughter by the time he was done.
Finally, he waved for silence and dismissed us.
Then probably hurried to the bathroom to gargle.
We never forgot.
And school crime hit an all time low.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Working On It

 With the crazy price of gas these days,

Our scientists must find a way

To either make our fuel improve,

Or other schemes to help us move.


They had some promising success

With electricity, not gas,

And solar, wind, to name a few,

Each looking like the new breakthrough!


But one group thought they’d like to know,

What Grandma’s garden had to show,

Gathered herbs of every kind,

For something new they had in mind.


And so they ran experiments,

With cinnamon and peppermint,

Then basil, turmeric and kelp,

And many more they thought would help.


They’ve pretty much come up with zip,

Nothing we would call ‘blue chip’.

They’ve tossed the cloves, bay leaves and lime,

At least their trains all run on thyme!


A little note to follow up,

For human fuel, those herbs are top!

Cause they won’t cause our hearts to halt,

They are a step above the salt! 

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?

It comes just once a year, you know,
So, Labour Day, we'll have on show!

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!)...

Bats -or-  More Herbs, Less Salt (August 29) Today!

Labour Day (September 5)

Chocolate Milk Shakes (September 12)

Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19)

Field Trips (September 26)

Name Your Car (October 3)
Octopus (or something squishy) (October 10)
Most Memorable Italian Meal (October 17)
Bathtubs (October 24)

Halloween -or- your favourite Knock-Knock Joke (October 31) 

Oatmeal (November 7)

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
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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!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?