Outtakes 209


by Cait Collins


The outdoor musical drama, TEXAS, is a seasonal event in the Texas Panhandle. The show is spectacular and is loaded with special effects and fireworks. A couple of weeks ago, the young stage manager, Peyton Trueblood, was killed in a tragic accident at the amphitheater in Palo Duro Canyon. Performances were cancelled for Friday and Saturday, but the cast and crew chose to start again on Sunday.

I was privileged to be in the audience for the second performance following the accident. The average age of cast and crew could be considered young. Many of them are students pursuing their educations at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas or at another area college or university. The actors, singers, dancers, musicians, and crew bond as a family. No doubt they were still grieving the loss of their friend, but they performed. From the opening number to the close, I did not see a missed dance step, no lines were dropped, no voices faltered. Even as they opened the second act with the beautiful song “West Texas Rain”, they remained strong, and in perfect harmony. These young men and women along with the older members of the company showed true professionalism from the appearance of the Rider on the Rim to greeting guests after the performance. I was impressed by their courage; by their dedication to their craft and to the audience. They taught a valuable lesson just by keeping on keeping on.

Sometimes I get discouraged when my writing does not go the way I think it should. I wonder if I will ever make it in the business. I make excuses for not getting out my computer and working on my current project. I am not always living up to my personal standards. I have no reason to sluff-off on my commitments. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. So I am rededicating myself to my writing. No more failing to have my blog ready to post. I will have something new to read every critique meeting. No more hiding accomplishments. I will put my name on everything I write. I am a professional writer. And the emphasis will be on “professional”.


Writing Exercise

Writing Exercise

Rory C. Keel

Our Wordsmith Critique group participated in a writing exercise in which we wrote a letter to a student. In the letter we selected a word and wrote about all aspects of that word and our surrounding community.

When you’re stuck in your writing, use this type of exercise to move your writing along.



1. An airtight bag that rises and floats above the earth when filled with hot air or gas lighter than air, such as hydrogen or helium.

2. A bag of this sort with an attached car or gondola for carrying passengers or instruments.

3. A small rubber bag inflated for use chiefly as a toy or decoration.

4.  The outline enclosing the words or thoughts of a character in a cartoon, as in a comic strip.


Dear Brian,

Balloons are the most amazing things. They are made from many different materials such as nylon and rubber. They can be any color of the rainbow like blue, red, yellow and green. Some balloons are even Silver or Black.

When I watch a balloon rise into the air, it lifts the corners of my mouth creating a smile without even being tied to it.

A balloon can fly like a rocket when you let it go untied, zigzagging around the room before running out of air.  Clowns use them at parties to make balloon animals like a giraffe or a wiener dog.

Have you ever used them to play games with your friends? When I was a child, my brothers and I would play with them like volleyballs, hitting them to each other across the room. We would also see who could pop the most by sitting on them one at a time. At the carnival people throw darts at them winning the prizes that are hidden behind them.

One of my favorite things to do is watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on T.V. and see the giant balloons of Mickey Mouse and some of my other favorite heroes. Wow, It takes a lot of people to hold the ropes so they don’t fly away!

Science also uses balloons. A weather balloon is a balloon that carries an instrument that measures atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity. It can obtain wind data by being tracked by radar as it floats along the air stream. These balloons can reach an altitude of 25 miles or more.

Ocean scientists use balloons to lift heavy objects from the ocean floor such as sunken ships. Balloons are attached to the object and inflated with air, which brings it to the surface of the water.

In medical science balloons are used to open arteries to help blood flow easier. An instrument is inserted near a blocked artery and a balloon is inflated, expanding the artery to allow more blood to flow to the heart.

Balloons are sometimes used for transportation. In early years giant balloons that were driven by propellers were called Dirigibles or Zeppelin’s. They carried passengers from place to place. The military used them in early wars to carry equipment and as look out posts. Today we call them blimps, such as the Goodyear blimp we sometimes see at football games.

Hot air balloons are very popular today. A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is the gondola or wicker basket that carries the passengers and a source of heat, usually an open flame. The heated air inside the envelope makes it float since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the envelope.

Recently, A hot air balloon event was held near my community of Canyon, Texas, in the Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the United States.

The hot air balloons were filled at the bottom and lifted out of the 800 ft deep chasm and high into the sky.

The rim of the Palo Duro Canyon in located about 12 miles from my community, the city of Canyon, Texas. It has a population of about 13,000 people, and is the county seat of Randall County. It is located south of the city of Amarillo, Texas, in the Texas Panhandle. The city of Canyon has an average of 19 inches of rainfall annually and ranges in temperature from 74 degrees for the high to 44 degrees for an average low, and an average of 9 inches of Snow each year.

With a University like West Texas A&M University, and many things to see and do such as the play TEXAS in the Palo Duro Canyon, Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, Canyon Texas is a wonderful community to live in.