Slim Randles

Home Country: Darwinian gardening

Days like this, said Doc, a guy has to get out and get his yard work done early — before it gets too hot. “So when does it get too hot, Doc?” “Oh, about three o’clock in the morning. Makes it a toss-up. Do you get up early without the benefit of coffee and conversation […]

Home country: Peak performance

“There’s no sense a-tall,” said Alphonse “Windy” Wilson, “in climbin’ a mountain. Why, you can percolate up to the top and what do you get? Tired.” Windy had cornered several old ladies who were leaving the Rest of Your Life retirement home to walk two blocks to the store. They weren’t fast enough to escape […]

Home country: Fishing 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. “I like your presentation, Dud,” said Doc, […]

Home country: Squash, who needs it?

“It’s all watermelon’s fault,” said Steve, shaking his head and sliding in to the philosophy counter. He nodded at Loretta while flipping his mug to the upright and fillable position. She brought the pot and filled it. “I always thought you liked watermelon, Steve,” Doc said. “I’ve eaten it with you, even.” “That’s why it’s […]

Home country: Squirrely friends

When Steve and Dud got up to go get a paper, it left just Doc and Bert sitting at the philosophy counter of the Mule Barn truck stop. Bert turned his head and smirked a little, being careful not to let Doc see him. Doc also didn’t see Dud outside, punching in a number on […]

Home country: Squirrel jacking

It might have been the winter doldrums that did it. You can never be sure of these things. It’s just that … well, Doc is one of those guys who can’t stand to see anyone bored. He claims it’s bad for their inner chemistry, and since he has more initials after his name than anyone […]

Home country: The beauty of snow

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. Doc found it when he turned on the porch light before dawn and the sheer whiteness of […]

Home country: Time and the wind

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. She was headed for the Curl Up ‘N Dye […]

Home country: Waltzing 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. But Mrs. Doc was never one to sit out a waltz, so she looked around at the menu. Over in the corner, smiling and tapping his foot, was Pop […]

Home country: What’s in a name?

  The speculating began Thursday again. You see, when it’s either too hot or too cold or too windy or the snow’s too deep or we just get tired of thinking about work, we speculate. It’s one of our favorite sports. There’s speculating about why Sarah down at the Read Me Now book store has […]

Home country: Hunter and chatterer

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. Only with Windy the release comes only after he’s […]

Home country: Here comes the rain

We walked quietly out and looked toward the west. It seems as though everyone did. Neighbors were out and the dogs were racing around trying to set new yard-to-yard speed records. Yes, it was getting dark there in the west. But no one really wanted to say it. No one wanted to jinx it. Oh, […]

Home country: Farmer’s ‘recliner’

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. Then he looked around. No cars were coming down the county road. No one at the house could see him. So he smiled, sat on a rock and leaned […]

Home country: Retirement has its challenges

Things were going kinda slow down at the Fly Tying Love Center and it bothered Marvin Pincus a lot. He found it hard to believe that, out of all the people in the valley, none of them needed love advice and the proper type of fishing fly to illustrate it. He had the sign made […]

Home country: Planting for the glory of it

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. So he took his bucket […]

Home country: A recumbent factotum

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. Let’s see … he thought … I can circumlocute over to Mrs. Hennessey’s and […]

Home country: Not exactly Shake Shack

On a good, warm Saturday morning, you have your choice here in our valley: yard saling or livestock saling. Since Windy didn’t need have much of a need to rummage through stacks of doilies or record albums starring Patti Page or the Kingston Trio, he headed for the sale barn. You see, Alphonse “Windy” Wilson […]

Home country: A truck-driving novel

Dud sat at the computer and went over the several hundred pages of his novel for three straight days. Then he had a cup of coffee or two with the guys down at the Mule Barn, and followed that with a walk around town. That night, when he got back from work, he kissed Anita, […]

Home country: The uncatchable trout

“What do you figure he’ll weigh now, Doc?” said Steve. Mavis topped off their cups at the philosophy counter of the Mule Barn coffee shop. “A good 3 pounds, if my guessing is any good,” Doc said, shaking his head. “Your dog?” asked Mavis. “No, Hon,” Doc said with a smile, “Ol’ Lunker, that big […]

Home country: Fly tying and love advice

“You seem kinda low this morning, Sweetie,” Marjorie said. “Business has been kinda slow for a while now, and it’s wedding season,” he said. Marvin Pincus’s “business,” of course, is free love counseling combined with free fly tying, in hopes of bringing connubial jocularity to anyone who might need it. Hey, a retired guy has […]

Home country: Word of the month

“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.” “Get out and enjoy it,” suggested Doc. “Go skiing. Go ice fishing. Build a snowman. Do something. Then you’ll feel better.” “I don’t think your advice will take,” said Dud. […]

Home coutry: Paying it forward

Windy had sent off for a doo-dad for his small kitchen, and that’s why he checked the mailbox. If you’re Alphonse “Windy” Wilson, and you’re long-in-the-tooth and single, you find yourself not checking the mailbox very often unless there’s a reason. It saves the disappointment of finding it empty, you see. But there was something […]

Home country: A time of sweetness

There is a nighttime sweetness and hope that hovers over us this time of year here at home. This is a time for summing up and looking ahead … and a time for dreams. And at night… ah, that’s the time, isn’t it? Outside it’s dark, December dark, and we’re inside and warm and cocooned […]

Home country: Knowing what she wants

When it comes to romance, it’s hard to beat ol’ Dud. He and Anita have been married now for several years, but we’ve never really understood why she puts up with him. “Dud Campbell,” Anita said the other night, “what are you getting me for Christmas?” “Now Honey, it wouldn’t be a surprise if I […]

Home country: Santa is everywhere

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. He takes a bag of candy along, in case anyone cares to stop, and he also takes his daughter Cindy along, […]

Home country: Fly fising

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. “I like your presentation, Dud,” said Doc, […]

Home country: Shakespearean dentistry

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. “Good morning, Herb,” said Andrea, the receptionist. “What can we do for you today?” “Mmfft Crullit!” “Certainly. Have a seat and I’ll let […]

Home country: The backhoe pro

When Jim Kennedy uses his big backhoe, a crowd usually gathers. He’s an artist, you see. He runs his massive-toothed monster gouging holes in the backyards of his neighbors, putting in their pipes and even the occasional swimming pool, and does it with the grace of a surgeon. At Bud McFarland’s place the other day, […]

Home country: Running the Iditarod

It’s the first Saturday in March 1973, and more than 40 dog mushers are ready to leave the semi-pro baseball stadium in Anchorage and drive their teams more than 1,100 miles to Nome. Could they really do it? Well, they did it that year and every year since, of course, in the monumental Iditarod Sled […]

Home country: Car computers mean confusion

Whenever my lack of mechanical prowess threatens to surface, I sure miss the solenoid. It was always there for us, lurking under the hood somewhere, and always — always — it was waiting to malfunction. It was handy, every mechanic knew where it was — like tonsils — and it had a great name. Solenoid […]

Home country: First cup of the morning

Daybreak. Coffee. The Big Two. 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. Well, scratch, anyway. Most of that thinking will start after about the third cup. But it’s a quiet time. A private […]

December 19, 2013 | Posted in Opinion | 1 Reply

Home country: Accordion music

If you ask Dud Campbell, it’s all right to take a break from the arts now and then. Well …  since the arts are a part of a person, that’s not quite right. All right, it’s OK to switch arts now and then. Dud had pretty much beaten himself to death trying to fathom what […]

Home country: Absolutely ‘refrigelated’

One thing about cold: it drives folks indoors. But in some cases, it also can provide entertainment, enlightenment, laughter and education. We’re not talking your local PBS station, here, but Alphonse “Windy” Wilson. This time of year, Windy becomes a seasonal member of the Mule Barn truck stop’s world dilemma think tank, and usually sticks […]

Home country: A cowboy’s dream

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. Kinda pink and made everything glow. “Pretty as a pocketful of baby mouses,” he thought, smiling. The strangeness didn’t take place until they’d started up the mountain toward Steve’s […]

December 19, 2013 | Posted in Opinion | 1 Reply

Home country: Finding the whiz-gidget expert

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. Oh, if we need a two by four that’s eight feet long, we’re on pretty safe ground and can head on over to […]

Home country: The coin toss

Sure was good to see Jimmy back from the Middle East last week. He looks good in that uniform, too. He was running all over the place for a few days, visiting everyone he knows, but he finally came in to the Mule Barn and sat at the philosophy counter, headquarters of the world dilemma […]

Home country: Keeping the buzzards at bay

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. It was that way with Doc […]

Home country: The cow pasture tea salesman

You have to hand it to Windy. When Alphonse “Windy” Wilson chooses to speak, it is a bombastic sampling of creativity. Windy has yet to find a word he can’t make better through his own unique methods. Well, what got him fired up the other day was a meeting of the ladies of the garden […]

Home country: Epithetology

“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. “Epithet time again, Dudley?” said Doc. “Epithets and heat time, Doc. When that heat comes along, […]

Home country: The sound of a woman’s voice

“Bert looks good this morning, Doc,” Dud said, quietly. Three stools down the counter, Bert smiled and said, “Yes, I certainly do!” We turned toward our old pal. “You heard that?” “Sure did, guys,” he grinned. “Look…” He pointed to his ears. “Hearing aids,” he said. We walked over and looked, and sure enough. “It […]

Home country: Sighting a rifle in two shots

Bert was mumbling to himself as he adjusted cracker packets around his morning coffee at the Mule Barn. “Something wrong, Bert?” “Not if you have some Old Fool pills for me, Doc.” “Uh-oh. What happened?” “Well, I’d been telling the Johnson kid some stories of the old days when I was guiding hunters, and I […]

Home country: Farmer time

“That Harley Jacobsen,” said Doc, grinning and shaking his head. He waved his empty cup toward Loretta, who brought the pot over. “What’d Harley do now, Doc?” “He came in the other day, looking good. Relaxed, happy. I’d been after him for some time to take a vacation and get away from the farm and […]

Home country: Hunkering down

There were several of us last Saturday out behind the sale barn. We never buy anything. This is just a way to scratch our agricultural itch. So while others were headed to the sale barn coffee shop, the members of the world dilemma think tank stepped out back, coagulatingly, for some geezer bonding. Doc looked […]

Home country: The emperor of cast iron

In the realm of country cooking, the elite are those who can take a heavy cast-iron Dutch oven, scrape out some glowing coals from a cook fire, and create masterpieces. And in this neck of the woods, the emperor of cast-iron splendor is Ed Parsons. Ed actually has a j.o.b. to pay the bills, you […]

Home country: Blue collar art

It was Herb who first saw Janice Thomas, the art teacher, come in. “She’s putting something up on the bulletin board,” Herb said. “Wonder what it says,” said Doc. “Might be something from school,” Herb said. Steve is of a more practical way of thinking. “You ever thought about going over there and seeing what […]

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