Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, August 4, 2023

Not Forgotten

I had been living in the big city of Calgary for three whole days.
My roommate got home from work just after I did.
“Hey,” she said. “How as your day?”
“It was good,” I told her . “I . . .”
“We've been invited to a party,” she said, sorting through the day's mail.
I stared at her. “But I don't know anyone.”
“Oh, it was our Landlord,” she said. “He's always throwing parties. And we're invited.” She looked at me. “He's quite a guy,” she added. “You'll never forget him!”
“Oh. Umm . . . okay.”
“Soo . . . let's go.”
“What? Now?!”
I discovered that our Landlord lived in the apartment just below us.
And that the party was already well under way when we got there.
Food. Drinks. Laughter.
Loud music.
And lots and lots of people.
We edged our way in.
“How did you get invited to this?” I shouted into her ear.
“He was out on the balcony having a smoke when I got home,” she said.
“Come on. He wants to meet you.”
We worked our way through the crowded room.
As she edged me past yet another knot of happily engaged people, I happened to glance up at the wall closest to us.
Covering most of it, was the RCMP crest.
“Huh. Look at that!” I shouted. “The RCMP crest!”
My roommate nodded. “Yeah!” she shouted back. “Our Landlord used to be in the RCMP!”
“Cool!” I studied it as we made our slow way past. It must have been about four feet square.
Bright and shining in the dim room.
“Wow!” I shouted “If every officer wore one of those, it'd be like wearing a bullet-proof shield!”
And it was at that precise moment that the entire room happened to be drawing its collective breath in its collective conversations.
And the current song ended.
My comment rang out over the quiet room as though it had been shouted.
Which it had.
It was also at that exact time that my roommate stopped in front of a man in a wheelchair.
Obviously a quadriplegic.
“Umm . . . this is our Landlord,” she said. She leaned toward him. “This is my new roommate!”
The man was drinking a beer through a straw. He nodded and smiled at his newest permanently-crimson-faced tenant. “Wish I'd had one of those 'bullet-proof shields',” he said.
“Ummm . . . yeah,” I managed.
“Would have come in quite handy.”
“Yeah,” I said again.
My roommate and I moved on.
“Wow! Look at the time!” I said. “We should be probably be getting back to the apartment!”
We had been there for a grand total of about five minutes.
And it was 4:00 in the afternoon.
But definitely time to head home.
After that initial awkward meeting, we were in his home many times.
Along with most of the people in the apartment building.
Always, he was cheerful and smiling.
And welcoming.
With never a word over the injury, sustained while on duty, that changed his life forever.
My roommate was right.
I never forgot him.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Iron Lady

Mom. All pressed and ready to go.
My mom was an ironer.
A Demon ironer.
She ironed everything.
Shirts. Pants. Dresses. Shorts. T-shirts. Socks. Pillowcases. Handkerchiefs. Sheets. Pajamas.
I kid you not.
And when I say ‘she’, I mean her girls.
From the age of eight, I had my own little ironing pile.
Admittedly, it was the more easily ironed items. Pillow cases, handkerchiefs, and  . . . flat stuff.
But it was all mine. No other hands could – or would - touch it.
In fact, it would still be there waiting for me, even if I’d been hiding in the barn all day.
Ahem . . .
Mom was very particular about her ironing. Everything had to be done just so. I was fortunate in that my items left very little scope for mistakes.
My sister wasn’t nearly so lucky.
I can still see my mom preparing things to iron. She would sprinkle everything with water, via a spritzer attachment atop a seven-up bottle.
Incidentally, we thought that said spritzer would be great fun in a water fight.
It wasn’t.
Moving on . . .
Then she would carefully roll the sprinkled items into a tight bundle and put them into a plastic bag.
Then put the plastic bag into the fridge.
I know.
I thought it was weird, too.
She said something about ‘keeping things moist’.
Who listened.
One by one, the items were pulled from the bag and ironed.
Then hung.
Then put away.
There was a definite process.
And one didn’t dare skip any of the steps.
Because Mom always knew.
Even if one folded up the handkerchiefs into tiny, tiny little squares.
Those gimlet eyes saw through everything.
Though most everything these days is permanent press, I still iron.
Once in a while.
Okay, I admit it, the bottom of my ironing basket has never actually been seen.
There is a dress down there that's a women's size three!
It’s like an archeological dig.
I miss my Mom.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023


Dad on Shaker.
This really has nothing to do with the story.
I just like the picture!
Ranching is an adventure.
Sometimes a tad uncomfortable.
But always entertaining...
Orphaned calves are cared for in one of several ways on a ranch.
Bottle feeding is always an option.
But the best solution usually involves adopting the little baby onto another mother.
Okay, it sounds good.
But convincing the mother to take on another cow’s calf is tricky.
She is seldom . . . okay, never . . . willing to cooperate.
If she has lost her calf (and I know this sounds icky) the rancher can skin the dead calf and tie the hide onto the living one. The cow smells her calf and the adoption is complete.
But when she still has a calf living, the process is a bit more difficult.
The solution usually involves buckling the two calves together at the neck and turning them in with the cow.
The cow quickly discovers that she can’t kick the strange calf off without also losing her own.
A bovine conundrum.
Eventually solved by allowing both calves to suck.
The only concern thereafter is making sure one periodically loosens the collars as the calves grow.
And that’s where my story starts.
Finally . . .
Several of the cow hands on the Stringam ranch were checking the herd.
They noticed that a coupled pair of calves’ collars were getting a bit snug.
Someone needed to chase the intrepid pair down and perform the necessary loosening procedure.
One volunteered.
By spurring his horse.
Now, this was a man who was accustomed to working with cattle.
He had chased down calves before.
But he didn’t realize in this case that the yoked calves couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t-want-to run together.
Instead, they began to run in at least two different directions.
Forward progression was . . . limited.
The cowboy, used to gauging his movements by normal calf movements launched himself off of his running horse.
He flew straight over the heads of the struggling calves.
And chewed up about 10 feet of dirt.
His friends stared at him.
Then, sympathetic to the end, burst out laughing.
The would-be wrangler spit out a mouthful of dirt and, face scraped, bleeding and dirty, joined in the general laugh at himself.
The calves were duly caught. Their collars loosened. And everyone headed home.
But happy.
Yep. Ranching. An adventure.
You get the picture . . .

Tuesday, August 1, 2023


My older sister and me.
Oh, and George.
And part of Dad
And a little bit of Jerry and Blair.
The food had been, as per Mom’s usual standard, delicious.
The conversation had flowed, eddying around such topics as - the day. School. Ranch work. Friends. Town politics.
I was sitting in a contented stupor.
Well fed.
My favourite people in the world around me.
Life was better than fabulous.
“Chris and Diane,” Mom said, smiling at us. “You girls are on dishes tonight.”
And, just like that, my euphoric bubble burst. I could almost hear the ‘snap’ of its passing.
We looked at each other.
“Okay!” Chris said, bouncing to her feet.
Have I mentioned that my older sister is one of those people who is always willing and cheerful?
She is.
Most of the time, I liked it.
Just not tonight.
My reaction to Mom’s announcement was anything but enthusiastic. “Dishes?! Mooom!”
Okay, I admit that my reaction was purely for selfish reasons. I was in the middle of a good book and my plan had been to drop straight back into it after supper.
But Mom’s word was law and I dragged myself to my feet and helped my perky sister scrape and stack the mountain of dishes.
We did fine to that point.
Now here is where the differences between her way of accomplishing the task, and mine, met.
And clashed.
When she washed, Chris liked to leave the tap on just a tiny trickle. Then she could wash, rinse the item by passing it through the stream, and set the dish into the draining board.
I, on the other hand, preferred the ‘turn-the-tap-on’ method.
Wherein one would turn on the tap each time one was ready to rinse.
In my opinion, it wasted less water.
Here is where I admit that Mom simply put some rinse water into the second sink and . . . dipped.
But who wanted to do it Mom’s way?
I was washing. So I got to choose.
Tap on. Rinse. Tap off.
“Why don’t you just leave it on a trickle?” Chris asked. “It saves time.”
Already feeling disgruntled, I mumbled, “I prefer it this way!”
Big sigh from older sister.
Wash. Tap on. Rinse. Tap off.
“Diane, this is really starting to bug me! Just leave the tap on!”
“Fine!” I turned on the tap and let it trickle.
Chris smiled and continued to dry dishes.
I washed something. Then, out of habit, turned the tap, forgetting that it was already on.
“Diane! It’s already on!”
“Oh, right. Sorry.”
Another dish.
“Diane! It’s already on!”
Another dish.
This time, I turned the tap a little more forcefully than usual.
Not a problem if it wasn’t already on.
Which it was.
The water splashed out, soaking every available surface.
And my sister.
Oops. “Umm . . . sorry?”
“Ugh. Get out of here and just let me do it!” She reached for the wash cloth and, just like that, I was out of a job.
I stood there for a moment and watched her.
Then I shrugged and went to find my book.

Monday, July 31, 2023


 I love avocados. Yes, you know I truly do,
Eaten peeled and sliced or simply smashed into a goo,
They are my go-to nibble when I’m needing just a nosh,
Or added to my salads when I’m wanting to look posh!
They grow in lots of places round the world—both north and south,
And all will taste delicious when you get them in your mouth,
But there is something ‘bout them which I’ll bet you do not know,
And that is how those avocados got to where they’d grow…
A giant ground sloth, Lestodon, he lived in olden days,
He, too, loved avocados and upon them, he would graze,
He (and his buddies), all of them, would then walk all about,
And then they’d give new meaning to the graphic words: ‘pooped out’!
So everywhere they went, they would ‘deposit’ avo stones,
And that is why we find the fruit in many different zones!
So know that as you eat them, how it was they came to be,
One of those good things ‘coming from within’ for you and me! 

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?

In the sky or bottle, we will (all of us) be fine,
Because next week our topic will be all about moonshine

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!)...

Avocados (July 31) Today!
Moonshine (August 7)
Roses (August 14)
Sea Monsters (August 21)
At the Beauty Parlour/Parlor (August 28)
Newspapers (September 4)
Remembering (September 11)
Cheeseburgers (September 18)
Dreams (September 25)
Birthdays (October 2)
Family (October 9)
Dictionary (October 16)
Talk Shows (October 23)
Mischief (October 30)

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My FIRST murder mystery!

Blessed by a Curse

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God's Tree

God's Tree
For the Children

Third in the series

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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!

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Hugs, Delivered.

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My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

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New Tween Novel!

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The newest in my Christmas Series


A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.


My novel, Carving Angels

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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


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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

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Building solid relationships with podcast and LinkedIn marketing

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Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

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Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

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My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

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