SQUARED UP ARIZONA SUNSETS #12 – Marilyn Armstrong

ON THE SQUARE – ARIZONA SUNSETS #12 – Marilyn Armstrong

I was amazed at the sunsets everywhere in Arizona. Just when I thought they couldn’t be better, the next night would be even more brilliant.

And so it went from one night to the next night, glorious sunset after sunset. In the mountains and even from city streets. Some nights, the sunset was so red it turned the mountains red, too.

Sunset – Phoenix

In the Phoenix mountains

More from the Phoenix Mountains

Sunset reflected on the Superstition Mountains

RED MOUNTAINS IN A PHOENIX SUNSET – Marilyn Armstrong

Sue Vincent and I have been talking about pictures you take that are so different that no one even believes they are real. So here are my scarlet mountains which are reflections of the red sunset in the west. The mountains are east of Phoenix.

When I first saw them, I didn’t even believe they could be so red. I’d never seen a sunset so red it reflected a whole range of mountains. So these are the pictures. No filters. No special processing. Just the reflection of a scarlet sunset on the mountains nearby.

WANDERING IN THE DESERT – Marilyn Armstrong

WANDERING, BUT NOT LOST, IN
THE sOUTHWEST dESERT


Ironwood in the desert

Phoenix sunset – Photo: Garry Armstrong

For a woman raised in New York and living in Massachusetts, the desert is another world. The colors of the sky. The mountains jutting into the sky and giant cacti growing across the landscape. We have spent two vacations in Arizona and each has been glorious.

Sunset

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Another sunset

UNWINDING AND DISENGAGING – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Unwinding

I was intending to unwind when we went down to see Tom and Ellin, but it turned out to be a more about technical recording information than relaxation. I like computers more than most people, but I really wanted to get away from them … just for a day or two.

Ironwood in the desert

Truthfully, I’m beat. I think I have never needed a vacation more than I do now. It’s not going to happen, but I can yearn.

The sun is a big flaunter. Never embarrassed to show off its colors, early morning or light by night.

The Superstitions

The last time we had a real vacation was January 2016 for almost two weeks in Arizona. Otherwise, it has been a day or two with friends and that’s good too, but I need time to unwind. When we used to go down to the Vineyard on vacation it took me a whole week to relax and another two to almost forget what I used to do for a living.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Giving the lack of money not floating around here, I’m not counting on ever getting another vacation. I think maybe that part of our lives is done. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

Physically, getting around has become pretty difficult, so unless we had a lot more than “just enough to get around,” there’s not much for me to do. We’d need a driver and someone to help us haul luggage.

Although a week along the seashore or in the mountains might be really lovely. Even near the sea or almost in the mountains.

MANY GUNFIGHTS AT THE O.K. CORRAL – Marilyn Armstrong

The first movie I remember seeing with my mom was “Gunfight at OK Corral.”

It was a busy day at the Utopia Theater which was a small movie house. There were hardly any seats left by the time we got there, having walked from home. I had a non-driving mom who believed in healthy outdoor exercise.

Wyatt Earp at about age 33.

Wyatt Earp at 33. (Photo: Wikipedia)

We found a seat in the second row. Burt and Kirk had heads 20 feet high. It left an indelible mark on my mind. I became an O.K. Corral aficionado, catching each new version of the story as it was cranked out by Hollywood. When videotaped movies became available, I caught up with all earlier versions, too.

I stayed with “Gunfight” as my favorite for a long time. Maybe I’m just fond of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. Garry generally favors “My Darling Clementine” but he is a John Ford fan.

In 1993, along came “Tombstone.” One viewing and it was my favorite version of the gunfight story. A few more viewings and it morphed into my favorite western. There are a lot of contenders for second place.

I don’t love it for its historical accuracy, though It is nominally more accurate than other movie versions. It omits more than it includes, but if you are looking for accuracy, you should consider reading a book. There are quite a few written and some are excellent. The Earps were a wild and crazy family. Doc Holliday was even wilder and crazier.

They were a lot wilder and crazier than depicted in any movie made about them. They are always shown as lawmen, but in those strangely shady days, there was an exceedingly thin line between law enforcers and lawbreakers. The Earps fell on both sides of it, depending on which account you’re reading.

English: John Henry "Doc" Holliday, ...

John Henry “Doc” Holliday (Photo: Wikipedia)

They were all lethal and no more honest then they needed to be.

There were also other Earp brothers who are left out of the story, maybe because they weren’t in the peacekeeping business. Dad was a real piece of work and deserves a movie of his own. Although I tend to be prickly about historical details, I do not watch westerns for historical accuracy. There are just some genres that don’t work if you are searching for accuracy and westerns are a big one.

I watch westerns because I love horses, deserts, the great blue sky of the west, and dusty old towns with wooden sidewalks. Really, I will watch anything about horses. You could just run films of horses in a field and I’d watch that too.

Tombstone

Next, I love westerns because when I was growing up watching Johnny Mack Brown movies on the old channel 13 (before it became PBS) in New York, I always knew the guys in black hats were villains and the ones in white hats were heroes. It appealed to my 8-year old need for moral simplicity.

In westerns, revenge and righteous violence are good, clean fun. Not merely acceptable, but desirable. In the Old West, when you find a bad guy, get out the six-shooter, shotgun, or both — and mow’em down. Justice is quick and permanent. Without guilt. You can be a wimp in real life, but watching “Tombstone,” as Kurt, Val and the gang cut a swathe of blood and death across the southwest — I cheer them on.

“Tombstone” is deliciously violent. The gunfight at O.K. corral is merely the beginning. There’s a deeply satisfying amount of killing to follow. I revel in it. When Kurt Russell declares that he’s coming for them and Hell will follow … I am there. Yes, kill the bastards. It’s so cathartic!

Garry and I made a personal pilgrimage to Tombstone.

Tombstone shopping

I have argued with people who keep saying the movie was filmed on a sound stage. Unless everyone in Tombstone was the victim of a mass hallucination  — note that mass hallucinations are not nearly as common as Hollywood suggests — during which time a movie company rebuilt the town to look like historical Tombstone, then the movie was  filmed in “Tombstone.

I have pictures of Tombstone. We bought tee shirts. It was our favorite part of a long summer’s vacation in Arizona. Although there may have been some re-shooting on a set, the bulk of the film was shot in Tombstone. It was and remains the only thing of note to happen there in the past 100 years.

August was not the best time to visit, but our host worked. It was hard to find a good time to visit. The mercury climbed to 124 and never dropped below 120 while the sun shined. It was a heat wave, but heat waves seem to be pretty common there.

I think that’s why they invented awnings over the wooden sidewalks. It certainly isn’t to keep the rain off.

It was painfully hot. Maybe that how come everyone was shooting everyone else. Who wouldn’t want to shoot people living in that heat without air conditioning? It makes one cranky.

I don’t watch movies for a dose of reality. I have plenty of reality. I watch westerns for escape and entertainment. Westerns let me immerse myself in a kind of violence I normally abhor but somehow when they are shooting their 145th bullet from a six-gun, I forgive them.

MORE SPIKY SQUARES FROM THE SUPERSTITIONS – Marilyn Armstrong

SPIKY MARCH SQUARES

Once I got to editing, cacti and other pointy things just went mad in my pointy brain! So here are some more square yet pointy, spiky, jagged pictures … and keep them away from your eyes! You could put your eye out with one of those pointy things!

I don’t even know what these are. Maybe the edges of young ironwood tree?

Cactus! Let’s not always see the same hands!

Those are some amazing barbs, too. You get close to these and they hop right on to your pants legs. These are jumpers!

Not only spiky squares. Jagged, barbed, bristly, serrated, prickly, spiny, and pointy things and that’s certainly one of them.

THE SUPERSTITIONS – Marilyn Armstrong

The Superstitions: Most Jagged Mountains – 03/19/19

The Superstitions, known locally (I am told) as “The Supes” are a heap of jagged rocks. Nothing except cactus grows there. Maybe the odd bit of ironwood too. It’s pretty barren and very harsh.

Perfect for this challenge!

Not only spiky squares. Jagged, barbed, bristly, serrated, prickly, spiny, and pointy things and that’s certainly one of them.

PLACES WE’VE VISITED – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Places People Visit


We honeymooned in Ireland. That was definitely special!

Gotta love the bullet holes in the signs, all of which are in Irish … and all the maps were in English. I didn’t put the holes there, but I could see the point.

Then, we went to California. Remarkably, I don’t have any pictures. I think that was one of the times I was between cameras. When I first got back from Israel, I didn’t get a decent camera for a bunch of years. The one I took to Ireland was a cheapie and I really wish I’d spent money on something better.

Three mountains in Arizona

We went to Arizona — twice and Vermont, also twice.

Mountainous

We also went to Florida a couple of times and Disney World twice.

Attean View – Sunset – Jackman, Maine

And Maine — maybe half a dozen times? And the Cape, of course. And Ogunquit.

Sunrise in Rockport and Ogunquit …

Golden sky in Rockport

And most of the time, we’ve just stayed home and enjoyed the scenery!

RUGGEDLY SILENT – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Tuesday – RUGGED and FOWC with Fandango — Silent

Rugged and silent, the Superstitions loom over the bleak desert near Phoenix, Arizona

Following them … and not by much of a distance, either … were a mixed bag of posse wannabes. A few professional lawmen, a clutch of bounty hunters, and anyone else that had a gun and a horse and could be drug up by the sheriff and the railroad people.

A cactus sunset near the Superstitions

The horses were exhausted and it wouldn’t be long before they collapsed unless they were allowed to stop, rest, drink, eat. For that matter, it wouldn’t be much longer before they, themselves, collapsed.

Whose idea was this, anyway? They could have hit a bank or a Wells Fargo shipment. Hell, they could have hit half a dozen stagecoaches without setting off this kind of frenzy. It was those railroad guys. They really didn’t like bandits. Which they were. Damn.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

It was getting dark, now. The sun was setting over the mountains. Where could they go? Ahead were the Superstitions … and there was nothing up there but jagged rocks. Where was water? Some grass for the horses and a place to lay themselves down and breathe.

In the distance, they could hear the hoofbeats of oncoming horses. They looked into the fading sun and they knew.

It was over. For good, this time.

SQUARE UP ARIZONA SUNSET – Marilyn Armstrong

ARIZONA SUNSETS – Marilyn Armstrong


I was amazed at the sunsets everywhere in Arizona. Maybe it was because it never rained, but the colors were amazing. Just when I thought they couldn’t be better, the subsequent night would be even more extraordinary.

And so it went from one night to the next night, glorious sunset after sunset. In the mountains and even from city streets. Some nights, the sunset was so red it turned the mountains red, too.

Sunset – Phoenix

 

AND HELL’S COMING WITH ME … – Marilyn Armstrong

Wyatt Earp: All right, Clanton… you called down the thunder, well now you’ve got it! You see that?
[pulls open his coat, revealing a badge]
Wyatt Earp: It says United States Marshal!
Ike Clanton[terrified, pleading] Wyatt, please, I …
Wyatt Earp[referring to Stillwell, laying dead] Take a good look at him, Ike … ’cause that’s how you’re gonna end up!
[shoves Ike down roughly with his boot]
Wyatt Earp: The Cowboys are finished, you understand? I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin’ it!
[lets Ike up to run for his life]
Wyatt Earp: So run, you cur… RUN! Tell all the other curs the law’s comin’!
[shouts]
Wyatt Earp: You tell ’em I’M coming… and hell’s coming with me, you hear? …
[louder]
Wyatt Earp: And Hell’s coming with me!


Hell is definitely coming …

The dust rose from the desiccated, dusty road that is Main Street in Tombstone. The horses looked hot and tired. They had every right to be. It was godawful hot. In the sun, more than 125 degrees and I don’t care, dry or not, that’s like sitting in an oven. Add basting and soon, you could be Thanksgiving dinner somewhere.

Tombstone

I think when it isn’t quite as hot, you can ride the stage. When the temps are that high, it’s not good to stress the horses more than they are already stressed merely by pulling the coach. Slowly pulling the coach. It’s a pretty big carriage, though they are also huge horses.

Still, heat kills. It’s bad enough to make horses pull the stage in such weather, but to add the weight of passengers might be too much. Those big horses come dear, you know. The interior of the stage is probably pretty hot too.

As we wandered around the town, we bought souvenir tee shirts. One for me, one for Garry. Of course, we did. Wouldn’t you? They were pretty pricey, so we bought only two. We also bought some books. And a calendar. I think we would have bought the coach, the horses and maybe the saloon if we could have. We really liked Tombstone.

We also love the movie. I really don’t know how many times we’ve watched it. Often enough so we both know all the lines. the scenes. We laugh before it’s funny because we already know. So being in Tombstone was awesome. No, I mean it. Really awesome. As in “we were struck with awe” and also, we didn’t fall down with heat stroke, though I’m pretty sure we were pretty close to it.

Garry bought a tee-shirt that said “You tell ’em I’M coming…” and mine said, “And Hell’s coming with me.” You had to see us together to really feel it.

These days, our sense of justice has been so deeply damaged, we have returned to watching Westerns to get some of that old justice juice going.

The movie is “Tombstone.” It was shot in Tombstone, Arizona in 1993. They more or less rebuilt the town to make the movie and have kept it that way. It brings in tourists. We are exactly the kind of tourists for whom they are always waiting.

We would gladly have spent more money, but retirees don’t have a lot of spare money. And, to be fair, we own many, many tee-shirts already. I had settled for taking pictures and staying in the shade. No wonder they had covers over the sidewalks. Even for Arizona, that was a serious heat wave, but at least the shade made it possible to inhale.

We watched Wyatt and his crew clean up the west. They killed them all. The move is full length, but it always feels too short. Garry says that’s how you know a movie is perfect because you don’t want it to end.

I didn’t want it to end.

MIGHTY OAKS, MOUNTAINS, AND WHERE THE RIVERS RUN – Marilyn Armstrong

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: PLACE IN THE WORLD

I guess the height of building do it for some people, but for me, it’s the mountains and the oak trees. I live in an oak forest. The trees are tall. In winter, I worry about them falling from heavy snow or ice. In the summer, I worry about wind and then, finally, about the millions of leaves that are going to fall everywhere in my world.

Followed by the snow. Again.

Sunset – Jackman, Maine

I grew up in New York and for many years lived in Boston. None of these are “the place in the world.” For me, it’s always wild places. The height of our trees, the peaks of mountains. the valleys and rivers the places against which I measure my place on this earth.

ARE YOU WATCHING FOR YOUR SHIP? – Marilyn Armstrong

I was out in Arizona talking to a Blue Corn Navajo lady who made jewelry. She had carefully given me her tribal affiliations and all I had to say was “Eastern European Jewish,” which lacked panache. I don’t seem to have much of an ability to show a lot of dash in casual conversation. Whatever talent I have, it’s more introverted.

Nonetheless, it was a good conversation. I casually said I was ” … waiting for my ship to come in and hoped it had a fortune on board for me.”

She asked me, seriously, whether I’d been out on the docks looking for my ship.

Looking for my ship?

She said “Yes, you have to watch for them. Otherwise, they can pass you by and you’ll never know you missed it.”

Navajo … the sky really does seem bigger.

I’m sure I forget for years at a time to go look for my ship. It’s probably come and gone and I’ll never see it, even in the foggy distance.

It’s like looking for your writer’s voice. Recently, a lot of people have claimed to be looking for it. Or grumpily asserted they can’t figure out what it is and thus will never find it.


Your writer’s voice is, to put it in the simplest possible terms, you. It is how you speak, but written. It is how you feel. In words. Written down. That’s it. The beginning and the end of it. Anyone can find it, but you have to be looking for it and most people aren’t.


They think they are, though. They think it’s some kind of style or form. Exactly the reverse is true. Many writers are afraid of finding themselves and that’s what stops them from being what they could be.

Show time! These people have found their voices.

Your “voice” IS you. You are your voice. Once upon a time — more than 30 40 years ago when my mother was alive — someone told me I wrote like I was afraid my mother would read it. I realized she was right. I was genuinely afraid my mother would read it and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I could not find my voice until after she died because until then, I was not really looking for it.

The voice was there. I just wasn’t ready to use it where people might hear me.

If you are looking for your voice, stop reading books about it. A college course isn’t going to help you. Write how you speak and write what you say … the way you really say it. If you can’t go back to your writing and read it out loud … and have it sound like natural speech or more to the point, your natural speech? Rewrite it. If it sounds stilted and fake? It is.

Not everyone needs to find their voice. If what you want to do is write about what’s going on in the world, you only need to write well. Your voice need not come into it.

I want to add a bit here on style and form. Style and form (or format) are not your voice. They are formulas and relate to whatever type of writing you choose as your specialty. In other words, your audience or readership. If you are writing for children (for example), there is a rather rigid formula (with which I almost entirely disagree), especially if you want schools to use your work. In my very humble opinion, the really great kid’s writers have totally ignored the formalities of the genre and written what they wanted to read when they were young.

I never saw myself as a kid’s writer. Even as a kid, I wasn’t much of a kid. I always wanted to explain stuff, but I didn’t know it until I fell into technical writing as an adult. Who would have guessed it? Not me. I was going to be the next great “author” … although I was never sure which great author. I had quite a few favorites. In my youngest days, I tried writing like all of them,  sometimes at the same time. It wasn’t pretty.

Oh how many editors wrote me — personally wrote me and I had no idea that was a big deal, by the way because I was naïve enough to think that’s what happened to everyone — to “just be yourself.” When you are very young, you aren’t sure who “yourself” is. Maturity is so terribly time-consuming.

Finding your voice means letting go of the writers you admire and wish you could be. It means forgetting how others sound and — scariest of all — letting the real person you are loose. Which is to just letting your real “self” show where anyone can see and read it. It doesn’t matter what you are writing about, whether it is for kids or technicians or news-readers or lovers of magic.

You have to be yourself and no one else. Many of us are not ready to find that voice because we are afraid our mother or father or brother or husband will hear and maybe, they won’t like it. Or us.

As for my ship? I’m not hanging out by the dock, watching for it. For all I know, it’s on its way back to wherever it came from.