Baby corn dogs score a touchdown at tailgate parties

October 16, 2014

Hello, my name is Deanna and I own a deep fryer. There, I said it.

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Think Tank member cashes in on offbeat idea

October 16, 2014

Slim Randles

Slim Randles

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.

Steve, the professional cowboy of the bunch, was reading the house copy of the Valley Weekly Miracle. Somebody else had already done the crossword, the sports page was old news, and if he wanted to keep up on church news, he’d probably attend every now and then. So Steve was belly deep in the personal ads in the classifieds.

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Membership in the club was brief

October 9, 2014

The Club didn’t last long.

Slim Randles

Slim Randles

It wasn’t the dues, which were nothing. It wasn’t being worried about being elected recording secretary or something if you missed a meeting. There were no officers, no directors and no meetings.

It was born of an idea that occurred to Doc one day. He said the members of the Mule Barn truck stop’s philosophy counter and world dilemma think tank should organize.

After his third cup, Doc turned to the others and said that sitting there having coffee day after day without any real purpose just didn’t seem right.

Doc said, “There are so many things a real organization can do.”

“What would those things be, Doc?” Steve asked.

“Giving shoes to orphans,” Doc said. “Or curing hunger in Third World countries. Or we could watch TV and file complaints.”

Then Dud piped up. “Would we have to wear funny hats and have a secret handshake and a password?”

“Absolutely,” Doc said. “Otherwise, how would you know who was one of your brother club members and who wasn’t?”

Mavis said, “What’s your secret password? Regular or decaf?”

“I don’t think we should let women join,” Bert said.

Nobody nodded until after Mavis had topped off the cups, and had gone into the bowels of the kitchen.

“OK,” Steve said. “Let’s get this straight. No meetings. No name for The Club, right? No officers. No dues to pay. All we have to do is give our shoes to some orphans, right?”

“And feed kids in Third World countries.”

“I don’t know any kids in Third World countries. Could we feed one or two around here, just to kinda e-e-e-ease into it?”

“I don’t think so,” Doc said. “We gotta come up with a Third World country and then find out who’s in charge of feeding kids. Then, we can send them something.”

“I move we adjourn this meeting,” Steve said.

“There are no meetings,” Doc said.

Since no one could name a Third World country without a map or listening to National Public Radio, The Club died a quiet death.

Brought to you by “Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing,” at



Slow mornings make our days bright

September 25, 2014

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 of coffee.

RandlesSlimColumn 20140900

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Sparrow gives us new ending to sad story

September 17, 2014

When we first noticed the baby sparrow, here at the house, it saddened us all. He had fallen from his nest and was slowly walking around the front yard under the tree while his mother and father had an absolute fit.

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Chipper Invitational attracts good nuts

September 10, 2014

In honor of his entirely fictional pet squirrel, Doc is calling the annual golf tournament the Chipper Invitational this year. He’s thinking of making that a permanent name for his invention, the most unusual golf tournament in history.

Slim Randles, Columnist

Slim Randles, Columnist

Do you remember how it began? A few years ago Doc decided to raise money to buy winter coats for some of the local kids who can’t afford them. He figured a golf tournament would be just the thing.

But one of the things this valley has never had is a golf course. But that didn’t slow Doc down. With the laughing consent of two farmers whose land abutted each other, Doc got busy. He took a shovel and some long sticks and laid out an 18-hole golf course in less than two hours.

He’d dig a hole and put a long stick next to it. Then he’d walk a while and do it again. He did this eighteen times and the course was ready. So each fall on the day of the big tournament, the farmers moved their cattle to a safe pasture away from the possibility of deadly golf balls, and the fun was on.

Doc charges ten bucks a head for the tournament, almost every able-bodied person in the valley plays, and the kids get winter coats. Not a bad deal.

So this year, in honor of Chipper the non-existent pet squirrel, Doc laid out the course up by the forest. The hazards of this year’s course included an elk wallow, a rock face the size of a library and a thicket of manzanita that a mouse couldn’t penetrate.

Mrs. Doc and Anita got together and made a clay statue of the mythical squirrel sitting up chewing a nut for use as a perpetual trophy for the winner. They put a little engraved brass plate on it that reads “Chipper Invitational Golf Tournament: Dedicated to the nuts in the valley.”

We wonder, also, if Doc benefits any from the sale of golf balls down at the dry goods store.


Brought to you by Home Country Hour, where you can hear Windy Wilson, among others, at




Aroma of autumn colors our days

September 4, 2014

It comes to us slowly and delicately, as all beautiful things should. It’s usually in the early morning. We can smell it. We can feel it. That little nip that teases us … autumn. Almost autumn.

Slim Randles

Slim Randles

Summer is heat and work and sweat and cold drinks of water and swimming and barbecues. But autumn is fall … the pinnacle. This is when people have the county and state fairs, because the vegetables and animals are at their peak and ready to show. The heat drove some of us into the house this stifling summer and led us to make quilts, make furniture, can fruit. And now, if they’re good enough (and we know, if no one else does) they can go to the fair, too.

In the mountains, the deer and elk are at their finest, with antlers dark brown with the patina of age and wisdom and those tips white as ivory. Polished. This is the polished time.

We are all at some kind of pinnacle in autumn. We have worked through the heat and now we can plan to ratchet it back a bit. We can take our skills to the mountains for hunting and fishing, or just discover a new hobby there at the house that will keep hands and mind busy during the cold to come.

The children are off to school, preparing themselves so someday their autumns will be like this, sweet with fulfillment, honed to a point, seeping with satisfaction the way ours are.

Autumn … come and whisper to us in the morning. I’m almost here. Almost here. Almost here.


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Folks keep in step to sounds of love and life

August 28, 2014

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.

Slim Randles

Slim Randles

Over in the corner, smiling and tapping his foot, was Pop Walker. Pop and several other residents of the Rest of Your Life retirement home were there to enjoy the dance and celebrate summer.  Pop has a hard time with his memory, these days, but always forgets things with a smile.

“Pop,” said Mrs. Doc, “how about a dance?”

“Why sure … uh?”

“Mrs. Doc.”

“Right. Mrs. Doc.”

Pop had learned to waltz back when more people did it, and the decades had smoothed his dance steps with the fine sanding of time. It was a pleasure for Mrs. Doc to go around the floor with him.

She smiled and winked at her husband as she and Pop danced by. Doc grinned and swirled a fancy di-do with Ardis, just to show off. Then she and Pop got closer to the bandstand and there was Dud Campbell playing his accordion. He looked happy and surrealistic in the muted reddish lights on the stage. Next to him sat Carla Martinez, playing rhythm guitar and smiling out on her town and her life. Jim Albertson was up there, too, playing the waltz’s melody on the harmonica, and trading the lead with Jasper Blankenship on his fiddle.

As she and Pop Walker danced away, the bandstand receded in a blur of light and sound. Passing like ships in the night were Dewey Decker with Mavis from the Mule Barn truck stop. Mavis’s hair is growing back in since the treatments, giving everyone in the valley just one more reason to be thankful. Randy Jones and Katie Burchell sailed by on wings of love.

The waltz ended and Pop walked Mrs. Doc to her seat.

“Thanks for the dance, er … honey,” he said.

“Thank you, Pop.”

The people who dance through our lives give us the reason to get up and get dressed each day.

Listen to the “Home Country Hour” podcast on your computer or other electronic marvels, at


Speculating about Mrs. Doc again

August 20, 2014

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.

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Windy traps audience with words

August 15, 2014

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.

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