Winter Wonderland

You can complain about the cold, wintery weather, or you can go out and enjoy it as Doc suggests in this post by Slim Randles. Doc is one of the more positive-thinking members of the Mule Barn Think Tank, as he tries to keep the other guys focused on the good things in life.

It is cold here in East Texas today, and could get even colder over the coming New Year’s weekend. It’s soup and chili kind of weather and I am prepared, with lots to share.

Before you grab a bowl for yourself, you need to know that I make a mild chili that my Mexican friends and family laugh at. What can I say, I was raised in the north before anyone in Michigan had heard of Tex-Mex food. The first time I tasted chili that a Spanish friend made, I choked. Kind of like you choke on your first swallow of whiskey or your first drag on a cigarette. (BTW, I’ve given up the cigarettes, but not the whiskey.)

While I do make the chili a little spicier than I used to, it is still fairly mild, so add your own red pepper if you need to and enjoy.


“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.

“If he were to take up a winter hobby,” he continued, “he could stop being intransigent and enjoy things more.”

Even Herb was staring at him now.

“I usually,” said Herb, “enjoy a proclivity in that direction, but winter is pretty boring, so maybe I really should be intransigent on this point.”

“Well Herb,” said Dud, “even though you might have a proclivity this season for being intransigent on your attitude about winter, you could kinda ease up and consider a hobby. That way you’d be showing a proclivity for transigence.”

“Transigence?” said Doc. “I thought those were people who lived under bridges. You might want to look that one up, Dud.”

Dud blushed as we laughed.

“Say Dud?” said Steve, the cowboy. “Wasn’t proclivity last month’s word?”

“Yes,” said Dud, “and I believe I’ve used it a couple of dozen times already.”

“And now this month’s word is intransigence, right?”

Dud nodded.

“Well then,” said Doc, “it looks like you are going to have a proclivity for saying intransigence this month. That’s a veritable plethora of proclivity my friend.”

Dud pulled out a pencil and grabbed a napkin.

“How do you spell it, Doc?”

“Spell what?”


We just groaned. Sometimes education can be ugly.

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Brought to you by Cedar Ridge Leather Works, fine custom leather for the shooting sports.

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Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here on the blog, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us.

4 thoughts on “Winter Wonderland”

  1. We all ought to try that exercise of learning a new word each month. I’ve picked up a few during the holiday Scrabble games I play with my husband, but they’re often not very useful.

    I love homemade chili, but also prefer a milder version. Mine is made from ground beef, chopped onions, canned tomatoes and tomato juice, and red kidney beans. In Oklahoma, the chili I used to get at a greasy spoon near work was very thick and contained macaroni. I like mine soupy and with no macaroni.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Patricia. My chili recipe is similar to yours but I use pinto beans instead of kidney beans. Up north we always used kidney beans, but I like the lighter red beans better.

      Sometimes we mix some chili in with macaroni and cheese, making chili/mac. Or we put chili on Frito’s for chili pie. Any way you eat chili it is good.

  2. Hello, Maryann,
    I’ve been living in Athens, a few miles down from you, for 17 years, read some of your books and have intended for all those 17 years to say hello or send some form of communication, perhaps some slow smoke signals. At last I’m saying HELLO. Some of us are just naturally slow with procrastination inclinations to let that dumb wee voice lead us down a boggy road that keep muttering – “later, we’ll do that later.”
    Since I’m trying to become a PROFESSIONAL writer in my later years, studying and all that stuff involved with CREATING WRITING TIME EVERY DAY – no prologue, no epilogue, action, action, action, showing, showing, showing, wee squeaks of telling … well, as you know, one’s brain becomes swollen to a bloat – have we had the terrible incident of a writer’s brain exploding? There must be some incidents of such hidden.

    I”ll hush with that rambling and say that I’m sorry that you’re moving back to the big City. That’s the one I left in 1992. It still feels like second home, my first being in Central Texas, Mexia, just south of Corsicana. A country girl, at ten years old quoting the poem to my mother “I think I shall never see a poem so lovely as a tree.” And later telling my mother I had fibbed. “I didn’t write that poem.” The image of my mother’s face still hangs brightly lighted along the wall in my brain museum, as she says: “I love that poem honey, and someday you’ll write one just as lovely.”

    However,as days rolled by I’m ending in love of fiction. So that’s where I am today and still fighting with wanting to be the old woman hidden away in her cabin writing, totally consumed with words and the miracles that words can accomplish – I’ll sign off with one of my favorite saying when family and others say, why do you want to write all the time, I say … because when I write a description of my living room and send those words to you and your brain absorbs those words and from those words you build my living room in your mind, you have simply used the purest magic available.

    Maryanne, being a writer yourself, you can see I’ve not touched a keyboard in two weeks (away to Florida vising my sister) so words are pushing to get out whether or not they’re doing their job. When you get moved to Big D perhaps we can meet. My son lives in Plano and is the district manager for the restaurants Abuelos. If you ever go to Abuelos ask the front admission person if Pete Stovall is in the restaurant. If he happens to be there, tell him you have met his mother via smoke signals.

    Another reason I wanted to contact you is regarding you web site. I really like the say it organized. It’s time that I get a site setup. All the books say, “get on with it girl.” Did you have someone setup your site or did you do it yourself?

    Happy New Year, Maryanne.
    Your neighbor, down the road.
    Polly (nickname). I’m known as Polly.
    Olga Oliver

    1. Well, Polly, I am so sorry it took so long for you to contact me. It would have been great to meet sooner and then I could have gotten you involved in our local writers’ group. It is a good group of writers, some published some not, who meet once a month to network and critique. I have found that getting together regularly with other writers helps spur my creativity, as well as my discipline. My one piece of writing advice I can give you now, is to forget all those rules and just start writing the story that is wanting to get out. I listened to an interview with an author this morning who said he did not even know that a certain character was going to be in the story until he wrote the first scene and the character just showed up. Sometimes, we just have to go with the flow and worry about all those details of craft later.

      If you are interested in the writers group that meets in Winnsboro, I can pass your name and e-mail to the person who will be coordinating it after I move. I know it is a bit of a hike from Athens, but you might find it helpful. And fun.

      We raised our family in Plano, but moved away over 25 years ago. It sure has changed, but I will check out that restaurant. My kids and I are always looking for a good place to eat.

      Regarding the website, my son, who is a computer guy, set up my website and keeps the things that have to run in the background running. All I have to do is add content, and send the occasional message to him that there is a glitch somewhere. He fixes it. 🙂 It is good to have tech-savvy folks in the family.

      Nice to meet you, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year. Do stay in touch.

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