September Newsletter | “Log of the Trail”

Meeting Announcement: Our September meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 21, 2010, in the Fiesta Room of the Hallmark Apartments in Alpine.

Homework Assignment: Something new that you’ve been working on, 500 words, perhaps for the Chaos.

Speaker: Elaine Davenport will report on the workshop she attended this summer.

From the Atelier of Phyllis, Our Prez:

September derives from the Latin word Septem which means seven. It was the Roman calendar’s seventh month. Summer is waving goodbye to us as days become shorter and nights longer. Autumn peeks over the horizon beckoning Trail Writers to a new beginning of meetings, writing assignments, submitting articles to the Chaos and planning spring retreat. Come to the Sept. 21 meeting if you can.

I grew up on a farm in West Virginia where The Old Farmer’s Almanac hung on a nail in the kitchen. Dog-eared old copies retired to a bookshelf in December, and a crisp new edition took up residence on the wall. Every family in the community consulted the almanac and compared notes about weather predictions, phases of the moon (must have bright moonlight for coon hunting), signs of the Zodiac, when to plant specific crops, and, for some folks, position of constellations, and which planet was the morning or evening star. My maternal grandmother, most of her children and many neighbors were avid starwatchers.

No doubt my farming ancestors read the first copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac in 1792, or whenever it reached Virginia (West Virginia did not become a state until 1863) and passed their dependence on it to future generations. Though I neither sow nor reap crops, I am a daughter of the soil who always has a current copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac near my reading chair. Over the years I have learned about astronomy, weather, animals, gardening, quaint old sayings, and some things that can only be classified as absurdities. Without my almanac I would not have known that Jupiter is “simply awesome” (their quote) this year. The planet has not been this close to earth or so bright since 1963, and I have enjoyed watching it.

“Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still” warns one of the September pages. In other sections I found these tidbits: “Yawning is a way for the body to cool the brain.” “The average dog is nicer than the average person.” “Old Faithful is getting a little unfaithful (it no longer blows reliably every 65 minutes).” Here are some notable September dates:

  • Sept 11    Patriot Day in honor of those who died in terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers
  • Sept 15    Spanish Heritage Month (goes until Oct. 15)
  • Sept 16    Mexican Independence Day
  • Sept 18    Yom Kippur
  • Sept 22    Autumnal Equinox
  • Sept 23    Beautiful Full Harvest Moon
  • Sept 28    Li’l Abner cartoonist Al Capp born in 1909.

I would love to hear from others who read The Old Farmer’s Almanac. my email address is .

Phyllis Musgrove

Environmental Literature Course at Sul Ross

From Dr. Barney Nelson:

This fall I’m offering Environmental Literature (Eng. 2315) Tu-Th 12:30-1:45pm. It substitutes for Eng. 2301 on any degree plan, fulfilling the English literature or 2000 level English course requirement. I am only able to offer the course once every two years, so it won’t come up again soon. It is a great course for those interested in nature and contemporary environmental issues or majoring in any of the sciences. We read mostly Southwestern desert writers (Hispanic, Native American, African American, etc.) including many from the Big Bend area and look at the various ways nature is represented in our stories (economics, gender, trophy, etc.). I hope to organize a trip to Bosque del Apache in New Mexico in mid-November as part of the course. If you have questions or would like to see a syllabus, let me know.

Dr. Barney Nelson

(432) 837-8154

Writers of the Purple Sage

The focus of this year’s Writers of the Purple Sage is historic fiction and historic non-fiction and Will Bagley, Spur Award Winning author of Blood of the Prophets will keynote our event.  Our retreat begins with a reception and book signing on October 8th with the sessions themselves on October 9th.  Southern Utah’s red rock is gorgeous at that time of year so it would be a great time to visit the area and participate in our retreat geared to helping authors get their works published.  Click here to view flyer describing the event. The cost of the event is only $15 to cover the cost of a Dutch Oven luncheon due to some generous gifts from art and history organizations in Utah.  You can register online at Participation is limited to the first 100 individuals who register.

Our Adopted Recycling Bins

By Donna Greene, Keeper of the Bins

Phyllis asked me to put together an article about the recycling bins Texas Mountain Trail Writers adopted.  Our bins are located on Holland Avenue, under the big recycling sign, across the street from UPS.  Janith, Petei and I volunteered to monitor the bins and take the recycled items to the Hal Flanders Recycling Center which is located on Avenue I past the Alpine Cemetery.

I go by there at least twice a week and pull out items to take to the recycling center.  As a Texas Master Naturalist, the hours I spend doing this counts toward the 40 volunteer hours I’m committed to put in per year.  Plus, the bins are located along my walking route so I’m able to drop into them whatever I collect while walking each morning.  It’s a win/win situation for me.

There is a sign with Texas Mountain Trail Writers displayed in big black letters in front of the bins.  Hopefully someone will Google us and find out about our fine organization and join up.

Most of the information you wanted to know or never thought you’d want to know about recycling is found on the Hal Flanders Recycling Center website (  We’re all members of this planet, and every little bit we do to help out helps everyone.

From Martha Latta, City of Alpine

How about a little history first?  Ancient history of recycling in Alpine can be found on under ‘Who was Hal Flanders?’  More recent history is the commitment by the City to establish a permanent recycling site (on Cemetery Road) to be operated by Texas Disposal.  Subsequently, Leslie Hopper wrote a grant that was awarded to the City from the Rio Grande Council of Governments to enhance the recycling center with signage, expand the variety of recyclables accepted, further expand recycling into the community, and hire someone part-time to implement these ideas.  I was the one hired to do that, and one component of expanding into the community was the placement of mini recycling units in prominent pedestrian areas downtown.  The purpose of these units is two-fold: to provide a convenient place for people to dispose of things that are recyclable, and to be a visible reminder to people to recycle.

Besides all the ‘feel good’ reasons to recycle, here in Alpine the primary purpose is to extend the life of our landfill.  Landfills are permitted by TCEQ, are expensive to build, challenging to locate, and based on the permit type, are limited to how much tonnage they can accept daily.  The Alpine landfill serves not only Alpine, but most of the surrounding communities as well. On the home page of the website is an ‘odometer’ that shows how many pounds of material have been diverted from the landfill since recycling was restarted in Alpine, and how many days the landfill’s life has been extended.

By having community members ‘adopt’ the mini recycling units, recycling becomes more community oriented, rather than just a ‘City program.’  Also, by having the adopters’ names on the units, there seems to be less abuse of the containers (people putting nasty things in them like soiled diapers.)

Don’t say the old lady screamed.
Bring her out and let her scream.
—-Mark Twain

Trail Bits

The results of the Pen 2 Paper contest can be found at our website, Thanks again to everyone who participated! We’re going to start planning for next year’s competition soon, so stayed tuned, and keep writing!

The El Paso Writer’s League is celebrating 75 years with a one day Celebration Writing Workshop on October 9, at the Brown Street YWCa. Presenters will be Monica Gomez (Poetry) and Lucia Zimmitti(Fiction). Time: 9qm-4pm. Price: $20 for EPWL members and $35 for non-members. Lunch is included, Contact Patsy King at 1 915 886 3136 or .

Kip Piper has launched her new blogging website – The Random Blonde – filled with Business and Marketing tips, as well as items on Cooking, Diet, Health, and Lifestyle, among others. For tidbits on her travel adventures this summer, be sure to check out her Travel section, with reviews and tales of the road. Remember to join her email list for weekly emails on relevant and timely topics! Visit her site at Kip looks forward to hearing from you!

Demystifying Writers’ Demons One at a Time

One by One –  by Joan Upton Hall

Be verbs tell instead of show

Fiction writers, don’t tell your readers what someone or something is. Show them instead! Help them experience what your point of view character does (and make use of senses). Show other characters’ reactions by what they do and say.

Weak: “The afternoon was getting hotter, and Jim was sweating.”
Stronger: “Jim wiped sweat from his forehead and squinted at the afternoon sun.”

Weak: “Paul is proud his date is a pretty girl.”
Stronger: “Paul swells with pride at the admiring looks his date attracts.”

Weak: “The smell of Grandma’s pumpkin pie had been sweet and familiar, an0d Meghan imagined she was instantly a little girl again.”
Stronger: “As soon as Meghan opened the car door, the familiar aroma of pumpkin pie invited her. She wanted to run inside like a little girl and throw herself into Grandma’s ample arms.”

Do demons bedevil your writing? Similar, confusing words? Grammar, punctuation, or capitalization rules? “The Demystifier” will clear up the mystery (primary reference unless otherwise noted: Garner, Bryan A. Dictionary of Modern American Usage. N.Y.: Oxford University Press). Address questions and comments to freelance editor, Joan Upton Hall at: . More problems like the above are demystified in the booklet, 50 Writers’ Tips. Find more at

Final Note from the Editor:

Have news? Toot your horn, clang your bell, raise your roof! Tell us your news and stories – or writing news in general, such as publications you would recommend, contests, book events, etc. Send your Braggin’ Rights and Trail Bits to .

2 Replies to “September Newsletter | “Log of the Trail””

  1. A hardy greeting from Jeddah,Saudi Arabia..

    Yes..I am a hillybilly from West Virginia..
    Me and cousin Phyllis share stories from time to time…..

    Here is somthing from the Arab World…

    Almanac is an Arab word..The Arabs would say Al-Manacah…
    It means..”THE WEATHER”…
    Someone out there can check this out…I believe it came to us from the Moors in Spain or from the pilgrims visiting to the Holy Land..

    Sahara is an Arab word…It means “desert”…

    Picture this: A white explorer arrives on the shores of North Africa..he looks around at the landscape…He ask the tranlator to ask one of the locals..” Ask this man for the name of this area?”
    The local man from North Africa tells the translator..”SAHARA’
    The white explorer says “Script..write that down!!”..I will call this area….”THE SAHARA DESERT”…

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