Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, August 18, 2023

‘Modern’ Health Care

To celebrate Bad Poetry Day, one of Daddy’s favourite stories!

"I insist!" she told the doctor in her firmest, loudest voice,
‘Fore out the door he sent her (she suspected was his choice).

"I'm not leaving without answers!" Her voice was now a shout.
"Is it measles, mumps or hiccups?! I'm prepared to have this out!"

The doctor sighed and shrugged, "You know there's someone I can try.
We know the what and where and who, well now let's find the 'why'."

So he found a room and parked her, tucked up snugly in her bed,
Tried, some peace, to whisper, and relieve her of her dread.

Then upon her firm insistence. And with no more ado,
He left, but said he'd send someone to give that second view.

All at once, her door swung wide, and a cat stepped in the room.
She stared at him in silence as he circled in the gloom.

Three times around, he strolled, and he did watch her carefully,
Then turned and with a feline grace, meowed to be set free.

A moment more, a dog walked in, with a great big doggie smile,
He sat upon his haunches and he stared at her a while.

The dog he left. She sat a while and finally, back he came--
Her doctor with some more intel. He called her by her name:

"Well, the catscan's perfect, Ma'am," he said, "I couldn't be more calm.
And the Lab work's just as positive, so it's time for moving on!"

So remember when its 'doctor time'. And you ask for more info.
Your doctor looks to many views to make his knowledge grow!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Being Neighbourly

Okay, I'm not sure if this is what it looked like,
but I know it had four wheels and seats for all of us . . .
My sister, Chris had turned 16.
And gotten her driver's license.
For us kids on the ranch, the world had just gotten a whole lot smaller.

It was our first foray into town without parental supervision.
For the first time, ever, there would only be siblings in the car.
A truly magical night was planned:
1. Great company. (Jerry and George wouldn't tease me, even once. They had promised.)
2. Great entertainment. (The Friday night movie was always a first-run hit, thanks to the theatre politics of the time - but that is another story . . .)
3. Our own little Envoy station wagon. (With two-week veteran, Christine, at the wheel.)
4. An anticipated stop at the local drive-in after the movie. (Mmmm . . . burgers . . .)
5. The heart-stopping possibility of joining a queue of cars cruising main. (Our first chance to participate. Somehow, cruising main had never been considered when Mom or Dad were chauffeuring . . .)
Yes, magical was the right word.
And it all happened. The movie, the drive-in, the cruise.
Best. Night. Ever.
Then, as with any magical night, twelve o'clock came. With some sadness, our little Envoy was pointed towards the far distant lights of home and ordered to return us there.
Obligingly, it started out.
Then, partway home, it stopped.
My two mechanically-minded brothers scrambled happily out of the car. Almost instantly, they spotted the problem. A disconnected fuel line. Easily repaired.
I think they were a bit disappointed the problem was eliminated so quickly; they would have loved to crawl over, under and through  . . .
We were again under way.
Only to stop once more a few miles further down the road. This time, out of gas. Obviously, the fuel line had done more than just briefly stop the engine.
We four independent kids sat there in the moonlight, wondering what to do.
And suddenly realizing that independence wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
Let me paint you the picture . . .
The year was 1966. Phones had just recently been installed in the ranching country of Milk River and ran on the 'crank' method. (Our ring was two longs, by the way.) Cell phones existed only in Star Trek. We were about 6 miles from town. The nearest neighbours were at '117', a ranching community about 5 miles away. Our home was a further 9 miles from there. Few people used this road during the day, and even fewer by night. The chance of rescue by someone heading home was slim to non-existent.
It was a fairly warm night with a full, bright moon. Still, we were hesitant to start walking. There was no possibility of getting lost, but wolves, though not common, weren't unheard of. Or cougars either, for that matter.
What to do.
And then we saw lights. Behind us, coming up from town.
Real lights. On a real vehicle.
Coming fast.
Now who on earth could that be at this time of night on these roads?
An elderly pickup slid to a halt beside us. The dust always followed directly after, settling belatedly down over the scene.
Two doors popped open.
And two bachelors who lived in the foothills west of our ranch leaned into the window. The smell of their breath hit us before they had even opened their mouths.
And suddenly it became clear just why we weren't the only crazies out at this time of night.
Obviously, DUI hadn't been invented yet.
"Hello, Kids!" the first one said, slurring his words slightly. "What'sa matter?"
"We've run out of gas," Chris said, hesitantly.
"Oh tha's no problem," the second said. "We've got a shain!"
Oh, goody. They had a shain.
The 'shain' turned out to be a chain, which they proceeded—with colourful language and various starts and stops—to hitch to the front bumper of our car.
"All set, kids?"
My sister gripped the steering wheel.
And we were off!
Let me just say this . . . elderly bachelors, driving an equally elderly truck, and having just come from their twice yearly trip to the bars in Sweetgrass, could sure cover the ground.
We approached speeds nearing 50 miles per hour. And that was on gravel roads, at night. And hitched to the vehicle in front of us by a 10 foot shain . . . erm . . .chain.
I was right. My sister, though just a two-week veteran, was a veteran. Her driving that night would have inspired Mario Andretti. (Go ahead, google him. We'll wait . . .)
At one point, the chain came off and the ancient truck drove on without us. We coasted to a stop and watched them go, wondering if they would even notice.
But half a mile further up, they slid to a stop in a cloud of dust, and then dutifully returned. After repeating the whole 'sorting out the shain' episode, we were off again.
The lights of the ranch never, ever, looked so good.
The men dropped us and our lifeless vehicle in the barnyard, waved cheerfully and wound their way back up the drive.
We marched happily to the house, full of the excitement of the evening and its hair-raising conclusion.
I have to tell you that was just the beginning of many, many trips to town for fun and entertainment.
But somehow, no matter what was planned, nothing quite matched the adrenaline of that first experience.
I guess 'brushes with death' hold an excitement all their own.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023


Hours of fun. Or aggravation . . .
Mom always appreciated a good joke. Usually, she stood back and . . . appreciated. Occasionally, she was the instigator.
Let me explain . . .
Our family had just been introduced to a new game. Battleship. Actually, an old game, originally played with paper and pencil, now in a new format.
Plastic peg boards of Mediterranean sea blue. With cute little plastic ships.
We spent many hours playing this game, trying to outwit each other with our clever placements.
Very occasionally, we were able to convince one or the other of our parents to play.
Dad was deadly. He systematically shot at your ships.
Every third hole.
You could see his juggernaut (good word) sweeping down on your hapless little fleet and were powerless to stop him.
The game always left you feeling like a butterfly on a pin.
But Mom was a little more. . . gentle. She would destroy your ships using woman's intuition.
You were just as dead, but you felt better about it.
One day, she was playing with one of my younger siblings, Blair. The game had been going on for some time.
Mom: "B-8."
Blair: "Hit." .
Blair: "G-3."
Mom: "Miss."
Mom: "B-7."
Blair: "Hit."
Blair: "G-1."
Mom: "Miss."
And so it went.
Finally, Mom had cornered Blair's last ship and was closing in for the kill.
And that's when Blair got tired of the constant discouragement. "Where are your darn ships anyways?!" he demanded.
Mom gazed down at her board. "Ships?" she said.
Then she grinned.
She hadn't put them on the board.
Game. Set. Match.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Kitten Mittens

Okay, let me state right off the bat that I am rather ‘iffy’ about the whole ‘kittens wearing mittens’ thing.  I mean...doesn't that just sound rather dirty and disgusting? And unnecessary?

I know the kitties in my life would have a shred-fest if they were presented with a pair of mittens. Or lose them entirely. Kind of like kids and socks.

On with my story…
So when our story starts, those mitten-wearing kittens have, in fact lost their mittens. Okay, they were sad, certainly, but honestly, who did not see this coming?

Their mother is, justifiably put out. She probably made the mittens. And to have all three pairs disappear at once? My kitties only ever lost one mitten at a time. Truth.

I don’t know if I agree with the whole ‘no pie’ scenario, however. A more appropriate punishment would be to teach those little beggars to knit. Maybe they’d be more careful…

Soon afterward, the kittens found their mittens. Rejoice! I’m wondering, though, if it was they who found them? Or Mom. You know the adage: Nothing’s lost till Mom can’t find it!

And their reward? What else? Pie.
I approve.
A lot of kitties I know would jump through hoops for pie.
And if there’s ice cream atop it? Through hoops of fire.

There follows a lot of purring. Again, appropriate.
Mittens found. Mama happy. Anticipation of full tummies.
This is as close to a kitty paradise as those mischievous little monkeys can get!

But alas, in this story, all will not stay serene and happy.
And I don't quite understand this next part: they 
donned their mittens to eat their pie.
Donned their mittens.

Okay, I admit it—when pie is being offered, I ‘gird my loins’ so to speak. Gloves set aside and apron donned. That way, cherry filling to the elbows distresses no one.

Except me, who simply cannot lick my elbows. And, please believe me, I’ve tried.
But these three kittens put on their mittens before tackling their personal little slices of deliciousness.

The outcome is much what you would have expected. Pie-soiled mittens. Remorseful, contrite kittens.
And a mama who is out of threats.
No wonder all anyone can do is sigh.

But in a surprising twist, those three suddenly-resourceful kittens drag out the old wash board and scrub those mittens clean.
Their mother is surprised and pleased.
Undoubtedly, smiles and hugs follow.

But only briefly.
In what one can only assume is a bid to begin training said kittens in their future rat-hunting duties, Mama announces that she smells a rat.
Close by.

The story ends there, in a total cliffhanger.
My concern is this: Did they wear their mittens?
Did they soil them?
What punishments should Mama invent for that scenario?
Any thoughts?

For your entertainment, my version of The Three Little Kittens…
The three little kittens
Had no mittens
Because said mittens would have been ridiculous and a hindrance to everyday life.
The end.

The real poem (with apologies to MessyMimi because this part doesn’t follow the word count!):
Three little kittens,
They lost their mittens
And they began to cry,
Oh, mother dear,
We sadly fear
Our mittens we have lost.
What! Lost your mittens,
You naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie.
Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.
You shall have no pie.

The three little kittens,
They found their mittens,
And they began to cry,
Oh, mother dear,
See here, see here,
Our mittens we have found.
What! Found your mittens,
You darling kittens!
Then you shall have some pie.
Purr-rr, purr-rr, purr-rr,
You shall have some pie.

The three little kittens,
Put on their mittens,
And soon ate up the pie
Oh, mother dear,
We greatly fear
Our mittens we have soiled.
What! Soiled your mittens,
You naughty kittens!
Then they began to sigh,
Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.
They began to sigh.

The three little kittens,
They washed their mittens,
And hung them out to dry
Oh mother dear,
Look here, look here,
Our mittens we have washed.
What! Washed your mittens,
You're such good kittens.
I smell a rat close by!
Hush! Hush! Hush! Hush!
Hush! Hush! Hush!
I smell a rat close by.

Today’s post is a word challenge! 
Each month Karen, Mim or I choose a number between 12 and 50 and the others craft a post using that number of words one or multiple times.
This month’s number is: 31
It was chosen by Mimi of Messymimi's Meanderings!

Now go and see what my friends have created!

Monday, August 14, 2023


Though I spend a lot of my time staring at a screen,
Me and e-lec-tronics, well, we’re not what you’d call ‘keen’,
And often I am tempted to (what could be called) ‘disjoint’
What follows is what I would label as a case in point!

I got a message from my server. And it made me quake…
“Your password has expired and a new one you must make!”
I typed in ‘roses’, 'cause you know I love them. They’re the best,
But my answer? “Too few characters.” was to me addressed.
So ‘pretty roses’, next I tried. T’was simple, so I thought,
But, "Sorry, one numeric character, please." was what I got.
1 pretty rose’ I thought would work. I typed it cleverly,
And, “No blank spaces.” next they sent. I was not filled with glee!
So I obeyed. ‘1prettyrose’ I thought would do the trick,
And, "10 different characters, you must use." My wrath was getting thick!
1bloodyprettyrose’ was next. The best that I could choose…
But, "Sorry, at least one Upper Case letter you must use."
1BLOODYprettyrose’ I typed. I thought that it would do,
But, "No successive upper case characters for you."
1BloodyPrettyRose’, I typed. I thought that I obeyed,
“No less than 20 characters.” My hope’d begun to fade.
My bland response: "No punctuation." I thought, Holy cow!
But, "Sorry, that password has been used." I’m done. I’ll take a bow.

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'll be an exciting one,
With 'Sea Monsters' we'll have fun!

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!)...

Roses (August 14) Today!
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)
Watermelon (November 6)
Grandma's Kitchen (November 13)
The Bus (November 20)
A Pet's Life (November 27)

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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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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

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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

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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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Better Blogger Network

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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!!!
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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?