Monthly Archives: June 2014

Trash and Treasure


I don’t know if there’s a contest for the most trash and recycling created by two people and a cat, but if there were, we’d walk away with it.

I think of this every Wednesday evening when I set out our bins. The most trash we’ve ever put out was four cans when we were remodeling a room, but four happens every week with recycling. The City of Manassas provided cheerful green bins for our cast off paper, metal, glass and plastic, and we generally filled one of those and a couple of paper grocery bags. This morning I walked out to see what I thought was another recycling bin at the curb. That’s good, I thought. I need another container. But it wasn’t the answer to my first world recycling woes: it was a huge trash can that came to my shoulder (and I’m six feet tall, although I have been shrinking half an inch every decade. If I live long enough, I can be a part of a community theater production of The Wizard of Oz. Wait for it).

The new trash container, in which a family of four small people could make their home for months, is a wonder of blow-molded plastic and chromed steel, with sturdy wheels to make my job of bringing it from its lair beside the house to the curb for pickup the next morning. That occurs in the early afternoon: recycling is on the early shift, plucked from its station about 7 AM when the noise ordinance allows loud noises. And it is loud—now, it’s not dozens of metal trash cans being tossed around at 6 AM loud as happens in large cities, but I hear it every week and know that all’s right with the world.

So, we have added capacity for our recycling needs. I have a feeling that even a gargantuan bin is not going to measure up to the mounds of recyclables we generate each week. If we were illiterate and didn’t eat or use cleaning supplies or buy things that come in packages, we wouldn’t have this problem. I supposed it’s a self-inflicted wound and the reason we cut such a wide path is that we receive a lot of “bulk mail” (AKA “junk mail.” A friend recently retired from the Direct Mail Association, and he is an upstanding and outstanding person, so I don’t intend to disparage his former métier. “Direct mail” might be the only mail some people receive, and who doesn’t want to find out all about the Pillow Pet or the XHOSE? (I am not shouting: that’s how they write the name of their product) We also write a lot and go through paper by the ream for ideas and pieces that didn’t work out.

I’m glad we have recycling in Manassas, and even gladder, perhaps, that we have trash pickup. If you’ve ever been in a city during a garbage strike, you know what I mean. The situation just stinks. Give a cheer for the people whose business is picking up!

Thank you for listening to a little trash (and recycling) talk.



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A Quiet Place Apart

Windy Knoll Farm

I spent this afternoon with six other officers and advisors of Write by the Rails, a nearly three year old organization for and about promoting and supporting writing and writers. We were fresh from the Tacketts Mill Poetry and Jazz Festival the Saturday before, where two Poets Laureate for Prince William County were named (Robert Scott, an English teacher from Osbourn Park High School  and Zan Hailey, an undergrad English major at V.C.U., an artist and a French speaker. Well over 500 people attended and were treated to jazz by Common Ground and a live broadcast hosted by Garfield High School grad Guy Lamberton on WPGC 95.5 which included announcement of the laureates in attendance. Local writers were well represented with about 20 in attendance.

With these memories fresh in our minds, we met at the richly beautiful and serene 95 acre tract of land of Windy Knoll Farm in Nokesville. The 75-year-old farm historically has raised beef cattle and traditional crops, but has moved under the direction of Don and Helen Taylor to agritourism. The Taylors generously offered space for us to meet to evaluate the previous year’s work of Write by the Rails and to plan our programs and emphases for next year. We spent a profitable afternoon doing just that, and plan to return soon for meetings and workshops.

Facilities at Windy Knolls include paths, a playground, two ponds (one natural and one managed). They welcome families, business and other groups, fishers, hikers and  campers, among others. They host country weddings, birthday parties, tour groups and business conferences. Children under 6 are free to visit; all others pay $10 each.

This quiet spot is a rare gem of a setting, and a sorely needed venue for the community. Prices are reasonable, and I was impressed by the passion and compassion of the Taylors. They want to give back to the community, and they certainly have done that. Here’s wishing them all the best with their endeavor!

One final note: while we were there I saw a bald eagle fly by. I thought this was especially propitious for us as we planned our future since many Native American tribes associate the bald eagle with strength, courage, wisdom, illumination of spirit, healing, creation, an ability to see the overall pattern, and a connection to spirit guides and teachers. The eagle represents great power and balance, dignity with grace, a connection with higher truths, intuition, a creative spirit, grace achieved through knowledge and hard work.  All these qualities are involved in being a writer as well.

Here’s a link to their website,, , and one to the Center for Environmental Education:


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