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Slim Randles

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Venison at any cost

In our part of the country, fall means deer hunting. Many of us will dress up like a pile of leaves, go out into very cold weather, and sit still until we freeze to death.

November 20, 2015 6 p.m. read more..

Living with re-GRETS

Windy found his audience out the side door of the sale barn, admiring a pen of cattle they had no intention of buying.

November 13, 2015 6 p.m. read more..

Sellin’ it

You have to hand it to Windy. When Alphonse “Windy” Wilson chooses to speak, it is a bombastic sampling of creativity.

October 16, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

A blue ribbon moment at the fair

Mrs. Doc (we know she must have a first name, but keeps it a secret) joined the other ladies in the quilting tent at the state fair. It was so exciting. It was the first time she’d ever entered a quilt in the competition, and she was nervous.

September 23, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Sowing seeds in the clouds

There are a few universal truths in our lives: the sun comes up in the east, it rains in Ketchikan and you can tell what the weather’s like by eavesdropping on the senior members of the world dilemma think tank … meeting daily at the Mule Barn coffee shop since God made dirt.

September 16, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Radar blips

Doc was the first one in at the Mule Barn truck stop this morning, so he got to pick, and he chose the round table instead of the philosophy counter.

August 12, 2015 4:13 p.m. read more..

Can’t argue with logic

Whenever Delbert McLain – our chamber of commerce here – gets a new idea, he generally shows up at the Mule Barn for coffee.

July 29, 2015 3:49 p.m. read more..

All ears

“Bert looks good this morning, Doc,” Dud said, quietly. Three stools down the counter, Bert smiled and said, “Yes, I certainly do!”

July 17, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Going Fourth

Windy Wilson was on the prowl, this beautiful Independence Day morning, searching the neighborhood for something to do for others. He decided to let his weekly day helping others come on the Fourth this week, because he was feeling very American.

July 10, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Dance your way through life

Mrs. Doc watched the dancers swirl around the cleared hardwood floor of the Legion hall, and smiled to see her husband, Doc, waltzing with Ardis Fisher.

June 26, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Horse sense

Steve, the tall cowboy of us philosophy types, was riding a young horse through town the other day to get him used to “boogers.”

April 29, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Finding inspiration

Dud looked at his Anita across the kitchen table and smiled at the wonderment of her. She didn’t take him for granted, and he didn’t take her for granted, either.

April 24, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

A Windy day

Instead of the philosophy counter, we were at the righteous round table yesterday, because Herb got there first and he picked.

April 3, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Winter doldrums

It might have been the winter doldrums that did it. You can never be sure of these things.

February 25, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

A silent blessing

Somehow the snow is a little like Christmas. We can expect it. We can listen to the television weather and expect it. But still, when it comes it’s like a gift … a wonderful unwrapped gift, because it is the wrapping.

February 18, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Time races on by

Mabel Adams was out the other day, with her new walker, the one with the basket on it, and a seat for sitting when she gets tired. It’s a purple kind of walker and she likes it. It has hand brakes, too, just like a bicycle.

February 11, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

False front

Doc was just getting up to leave the philosophy counter as Herb walked in. Herb was grinning and flexing muscles and had the look of eagles in his eyes. We stared.

January 28, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Coffee clatter

It was the cold outside that bound us together better inside the Mule Barn truck stop.

January 16, 2015 3:31 p.m. read more..

Vocabulary enrichment

“I can’t stand winter,” said Herb Collins, who had dropped in at the Mule Barn’s philosophy counter for a quick cup. “There’s nothing to do.”

January 7, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Santa has his ways

For years now, Herb Collins has been helping Santa by donning the red and the beard and the tassels and waving to passing cars on Christmas Eve out at the Old Fort Road crossing.

December 12, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Trail blazer

“Hey Doc,” said Herb, reading the latest copy of the Valley Weekly Miracle, “did you see all these specials they’re having in the city? Just for the Friday after Thanksgiving, too. You know, a guy could get a lot of Christmas shopping done then and save some money.”

November 28, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Pass the biscuits, please

Steve will have Thanksgiving dinner over at Doc’s and Mrs. Doc’s this year, and any number of his friends are grateful for that. Steve is one heckuva cowboy and trainer of young colts, and a good friend to all, but he’d never make it as a dinner host.

November 21, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

A man’s gotta grow something

Dewey Decker, that accident-prone neighbor of ours, is the undisputed Pharoah of Fertilizer, the Monarch of Manure. He has turned a shovel-ready business into a going concern, with the help of the woman of his dreams, Emily.

November 7, 2014 4:55 p.m. read more..

Bargain at just a buck?

It was a contemplative kind of morning, each member of the vaunted World Dilemma Think Tank seemed to be content to think silently for a change, just sipping on the coffee refills and waiting for Loretta to bring more.

October 24, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

One more cup

There’s something so satisfying about getting out of bed when the world is still dark and quiet and resting. Making the coffee gives us time to scratch and think.

September 26, 2014 3:06 p.m. read more..

Small miracles

When we first noticed the baby sparrow, here at the house, it saddened us all.

September 17, 2014 3:01 p.m. read more..

Nuts in the valley

In honor of his entirely fictional pet squirrel, Doc is calling the annual golf tournament the Chipper Invitational this year.

September 12, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Words of wisdom

Every hunter knows places to look for in the woods ... places where game is more likely to be approached or surprised. It’s that way with Windy Wilson, too. Windy is a hunter, but he just hunts audiences, and he does believe in the catch-and-release system.

August 15, 2014 3:29 p.m. read more..

Life of a Farmer

Harley pulled the tractor over to the ditch and cut the engine. He climbed down stiffly, walked to the water and soaked his head and shirt.

August 1, 2014 3:02 p.m. read more..

On the classy side

Dud Campbell, our resident would-be novelist, was busy on his day off. Anita watched him excitedly as he removed something from the box that had arrived.

July 30, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Seeking glory

Like a doctor removing something important, Herb Collins gently peeled the wrapper back from the root ball and tenderly placed the baby tree in the hole. Then he stood and walked around it to see which way he should align it. Actually, looks pretty good just the way it is.

July 11, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Drumming up business

Delbert’s at it again. You know Delbert McLain, our local chamber of commerce? He’s the guy who wants to bring lots of people here so the place isn’t quite as nice as it is now.

June 4, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

A little more polish needed

The focus group broke up after an hour-and-a-half with laughter and full tummies and hugs and handshakes. Dewey got his tie clip caught on Mrs. Doc’s sweater as she hugged him, but that was his only physical disaster and it was a minor one.

May 28, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Dry run

The problem Marvin Pincus had yesterday was simply time.

May 16, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Mixed messages

“How about a television ad,” Steve said during the manure-and-worm free lunch focus group, “that shows a cartoon of a worm with a happy smile on his face? You know, you can have him munching on manure, and then producing ….”

May 9, 2014 3:05 p.m. read more..

The benefits of worms

Dewey and Emily were the first to finish their lunches, and the two sweethearts whispered together at the nearby coffee machine while the rest of the valley’s first focus group finished up.

April 18, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Behind every good man is…

Emily led the group of five into the Mule Barn, through the coffee shop itself, and into what is known locally as “the banquet room” when it isn’t being used for storage.

April 11, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Painless therapy

As a prequel to the morning coffee inhalation down at the Mule Barn coffee shop, the members of the world dilemma think tank were found at the break of day, armed with fly rods, in their other guise as charter members of the Lewis Creek Piscatorial Pursuit Alliance.

March 26, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Dental delight

Herb walked into O’Dontal Dental the other day, holding his hand against a swollen face. He hadn’t even made an appointment to see Perry first, and it became obvious why he hadn’t.

March 19, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Simple pleasures

If there’s one thing you can honestly say about Delbert McLain, he’s as persistent as a winter cough.

February 26, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Kinda nosy

The subject was love, of course, with Valentine’s Day upon us last week, and that’s why the grizzled and semi-grizzled members of the world dilemma think tank had settled upon it. Well, to be fair, they agreed to talk about someone else’s love life, naturally.

February 19, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Makings of a connoisseur

Our resident cowboy, Steve, brought us the shocking news: cowpuncher Three-Chord Cortez, that bunkhouse balladeer, plans to study opera, in hopes an aria or three will make him even more attractive to girls during a serenade.

February 7, 2014 3:47 p.m. read more..


Whenever my lack of mechanical prowess threatens to surface, I sure miss the solenoid.

January 31, 2014 3:12 p.m. read more..


One thing about cold: it drives folks indoors.

January 15, 2014 3:46 p.m. read more..

Not a bad deal…at all

Day started slowly, after Steve and Snort were already through two big pastures and into the birth of the hills. Sure was pretty, too, he noticed.

January 8, 2014 3:08 p.m. read more..

No need for overkill

You have to look for the schism, Jasper said to himself out at the woodpile. He put another chunk of firewood up on the splitting block and took a look at the checking cracks that ran part way through the circles of age rings.

December 31, 2013 1:30 p.m. read more..

Secret weapon

Janice Thomas hasn’t been the valley’s most innovative art teacher since the invention of dirt for nothing, you know.

December 6, 2013 3:06 p.m. read more..

Someday I’ll know…

There were two little boys down at the Doughnut Hole Café the other day, standing outside, just waiting.

November 20, 2013 3:35 p.m. read more..

Pass the salt

It was a bright morning, and we had finished off the coffee and conversation at the Mule Barn truck stop, and we couldn’t think of anything much to do because we were still full from breakfast and it was too early for lunch, and the political problems and Hollywood gossip tanks had been thoroughly topped off.

November 13, 2013 3:31 p.m. read more..

Home town shopping

A building project (for those of us who are carpenterially challenged) can be a confusing nightmare of little whatchits we never learned the name of and have no idea how to use.

October 9, 2013 4:07 p.m. read more..

Work in progress

Dud Campbell could feel it in the mornings … the cool breeze on the skin, the slight chill in the air, the messages nature sent to tell us autumn is here.

October 4, 2013 4:53 p.m. read more..

A dry bath in paradise

The evening was one of those that come back to you time after time, year after long year. It comes back and whispers of how good life can be when you’re well fed, enjoying life, and a good friend shares the front porch with you on a summer’s evening.

August 30, 2013 4:53 p.m. read more..

Epithets good for the soul

“Sanctimonious siphons, it’s hot!” said Dud, sitting at the philosophy counter and turning over his coffee cup for action with a single smooth move. Dud is a regular at the Mule Barn truck stop’s legendary world dilemma think tank.

August 16, 2013 4:23 p.m. read more..


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