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Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

A new year. A new start. Who said I can't finish this book?

Dud Campbell walked the frozen sidewalk and blew steamy breath out through his parka hood.

All I need, really, are a few ideas.

Dud's been working on his novel, "Murder in the Soggy Bottoms," for several years now, and it has taken on different blends of seasoning, largely depending on what things were happening here in our little valley.    

Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

There's nothing like New Year's Resolution to make a guy feel completely inadequate, thought Doc as he sat and sipped coffee at the philosophy counter

of the Mule Barn truck stop's coffee shop. In other words, thinking central.

He happened to mention this to Steve, sitting on his left. Steve shoved his hat back and looked at his dear friend.

"Now Doc," he said, "I don't think you should talk that way. You see, the guys and I think you're about the most adequate fella we know. Why, some of us are still here because of your adequacy. I know I am."

Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

"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. "Herb seems to be intransigent on this one."

We all looked at Dud.

"You see, he said he couldn't stand winter," Dud continued, "which shows he has a proclivity for intransigence on that particular subject."

We looked at him some more.

Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

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, because she's always been his head elf. Cindy's grown now and has helpers of her own, but this has been a daddy/daughter event for a long time and neither sees any reason to quit.

Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

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 up. The cold makes our world shrink, especially at night.

But we have our dreams.

Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

It began the way most miracles do: by accident or the hand of God, take your pick.

It might have been the weather, at least partly. For December, the day had been almost balmy and warm. You know, sweaters instead of heavy coats. No mittens in sight.

Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

"Ahhh! Coffee!" said our resident cowboy, Steve, raising his cup at the philosophy counter. "Let's raise our cups to whichever Brazilian came up with this stuff."

Very slowly, Herb Collins stood with his cup of coffee there in the midst of culture and education at the Mule Barn truck stop.

"Actually, Steve," Herb said, in his most professorial tone, "his name was Kaldi. He lived in Ethiopia."

And here Herb grinned fiendlishly at Steve. "And he was a sheepherder!"

Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

Steve slowly saddled Old Snort, and climbed aboard. Kinda stiff this morning. He pulled his hat down a little lower and pulled the wild rag up to cover his nose and mouth from the morning chill.

How many mornings had he done this over the years?

As Snort trotted out into the meadows and the hills surrounding our valley, he looked with perked ears for cattle. That's what Snort does for a living.

Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

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.

Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

Dud came in the Mule Barn truck stop all grins. Aha! thought the other members of the world dilemma think tank, Dud's been up the road in deer camp three days now. We know what that happy look means.

Or maybe not ...

"You fellas have GOT to come out to the camp with me and see what I've got!" Dud said. "You won't believe it!"

"Got a nice buck did you, Dud?" said Doc.

"You just have to see for yourself," he said.