Thank you all for visiting our site today and for joining in the discussion. I want to especially thank Taryn Raye, AndreaW, Mary Connealy, Paty, Tanya Hanson, Joanna Sheats, Cherie J., Connie Lorenz, Crystal Adkins, and my fellow Western Authors, Charlene Sands, Pam Crooks, Elizabeth Lane and Linda Broaday.
Thank you all for your delightful posts and insightful comments.
And now one more thing before I sign off for the day — I thought I’d share some photos with you from the weekend. The first photo is a picture of the very first shot that I fired, along with the so very understanding and patient instructor — who was left holding the gun as I backed up crying. The second photo was taken the next day, with me recovered from my original shock and shooting on my own.
Have a super day tomorrow and please remember that if you haven’t already done so, please be sure to enter into our contest. There are some wonderful prizes.
Having just returned from a four day weekend at a very unusual place, I thought I’d tell you a bit about it. Since the name of our blog is Petticoats & Pistols, I thought it might be pertinent to talk a little about pistols…guns.
Now this is a subject that I know next to nothing about and anything I’ve ever written about guns has been research…in fact, outside of holding a gun in my hand maybe twice this lifetime, I’ve had nothing to do with pistols and in truth, up until recently, little interest in them.
However, since I often write about men at a time in history when a man was known by the kind of weapons he used and how well he kept them — not to mention how well he could shoot — it occurred to me that perhaps my hero should be carrying a weapon every now and again — particularly since he needs to protect the heroine against the bad guys. So this weekend my husband and I attended a four day class on shooting. The place was the hot desert area of Las Vegas area and the place was Front Sight.
Although I’ve always been a pro-second Amendment person, the one thing I learned is how much I really don’t know. So please come with me for a moment and share a little of this unusual weekend with me.
Imagine this: I thought it would be an easy weekend with me and my husband together, doing a little shooting and a little learning and a lot of one on one with my hubby.
Wrong…except for spending a good deal of time with my hubby — but time spent on a shooting range…
Little did I know the weekend would be spent much like a bootcamp. Our hours were from 8AM to 7PM each and every day(sometimes later — on Saturday we had a night shoot), and we were constantly shooting or learning. Now, since I exercise daily and since we had to be up long before the sun came up in order to make it to the complex on time, it soon became apparent to me that this was anything but a casual weekend.
One thing I thought was spectacular about this course (which was taught by former police officers or military personnel)was a required seminar on the ethics of owning a weapon and the moral choices one has to make if ever one is in a life and death situation. In other words when to shoot and when not to shoot.
Okay with that said, now we get to the first time I have ever shot a gun. At Front Sight, things are taken step by step. First you practice with your gun without ammunition — we rented our guns, by the way. Then you load up the gun with ammunition and you are ready to walk out onto the range to shoot. Luckly, an instructor is nearby to ease you through your first shoot.
Never in my life would I have thought I would have reacted as I did to the first shot I’ve ever taken with a gun. Never. Not ever. What was that reaction?
Yep, I cried. Luckily the instructor was there to hold the weapon for me as I literally left the weapon hanging in the air, put my head in my hands and cried. And cried. But knowing I was there to learn, and really wanting to learn how to defend myself if ever needed, I continued on — after some heady discussion with my hubby. Subsequently, however, I cried again on the second and third shot, as well. It got better, though, and after that initial response, the first day passed quickly into a gorgeous sunset. I even started making some good shots.
However, it was back to the beginning for me on the second day with my first shot of that day. Again, I cried. I can’t explain it, nor did I want to try to figure out why. Perhaps it was the extreme use of force or maybe it was something else. I don’t know. The only thing I knew for sure was that the only thing I could do was to bust through it.
And I did. It was better on the second day, though — and with lots of instructor help, I came to eventually enjoy myself. It was a rather large class there at Front Sight with the guys out numbering the gals by about 6 to 1. However, I soon met someone who was a little like me and hadn’t shot before and we soon became friends.
On the third day, we were all put through simulator drills — where we went into a “house” that had cardboard figures in it of men with guns. We students had to decide when to shoot and when not to shoot. It was the first time I ran across the cardboard picture of a man holding a woman hostage with a gun to her head. And I was supposed to shoot at the image of the criminal.
I put my gun down and said, no way. I was afraid I’d shoot the woman hostage instead of the bad guy. But the instructor was kind, understanding, and walked me through it — and I eventually took a shot at the cardboard figure of the bad guy, and I gotta tell you, I manged to lay a shot to the bad guy’s head in one shot alone. However, as soon as I’d done it, I again cried. Thank goodness the instructor was there to coach me through that, as well.
Looking back on it now, I must admit now that the entire experience was fun and exciting, though at the time I thought it was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done. One thing did happen, though, and that is that I came away with the feeling that if ever I were caught in a life or death situation, I would not only know what to do, I would have the skills to do it.
Will I ever go back to Front Sight to improve my skills? You bet.
Hopefully, later today I will be able to get up some pictures of the weekend end (I have to wait for my hubby to download them first). But for now let me share with you the cover art for THE LAST WARRIOR, my next book which is due to be released in March of next year.
I would love to hear from you about your reactions to shooting, if you’ve ever done it — or your opinions about shooting, as well. So come and let’s have a talk.
Just like an eagle can fly into the Grand Canyon, my vision was to enable visitors to walk the path of the eagle, and become surrounded by the Grand Canyon while standing at the edge of the Glass Bridge. The bridge gives us a chance to share the wonder of the canyon that the Hualapia Tribe has graciously offered.
My dream was to find a balance between form, function and nature. Once a dream…now a reality.”
David Jin, Founder, Grand Canyon Skywalk
Stepping out across the Skywalk at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon definitely provides an eagle’s view of the canyon.Standing 4,000 above the canyon floor is a fascinating experience. The distance below is truly incompressible to the mind and eye.The hawks soaring below looked like graceful black specks against amber stone. Standing on the glass walk, you truly feel as though you are walking through the clouds, and when the sky’s reflection hits just right, you ARE walking on clouds.Check out the cool yellow booties provided for viewers to protect the glass.
Even my teenage boys thought the Skywalk to be more thrilling than any roller coaster we’ve been on. Visiting the Hualapia Reservation was, by far, my best visit to the Grand Canyon. It is a looong drive to the west rim, which takes you through Joshua Forest (dense population of Joshua trees), before turning onto a 15 mile dirt road widning through the private land of the Hualapia Tribe. From there the elevation climbs, leaving behind the Joshua trees (which only grow at an elevation of about 3000 ft) and takes you through the more common desert scrub of sage and cacti, and up to Eagle Point. Aside from the Skywalk, they also have authentic Indian dwellings visitors can walk through. The clay structure with the hole in the roof is a sweat lodge. Below is a sage wickiup used during the squelching hot summer months. There was also an amphitheatre with scheduled Native American cultural performances where we sat and watched dancers from various tribes across the states perform dances, sing songs and play a variety of drums.
Leaving the village, a short bus ride took us up to my absolute favorite part of our three-stage tour–Guano Point, where you can take in a view of the canyon and Colorado River WITHOUT BARRIERS. The only thing keeping you from plummeting to the rocks 4000 feet below is your own common sense. For me, this was better than even the Skywalk. This was the place I felt detached from all the other distractions and could really get lost in the land, my thoughts, and daydreams.
See that dark shadow against the cliffs…directly over our heads were big black and gray clouds. We happened to be there at the onset of a thunder storm, the electricity in the clouds actually had our hair standing on end! Talk about luck–spectacular views, pleasant temperatures in July and storm clouds booming overhead like tribal drums….*sigh* The day could not have been more perfect. Inspiring, thrilling, educational, serene…and more natural beauty than you can shake a stick at 😉
Lonesome Dove, written by Larry McMurtry, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning western novel and the first published book of the Lonesome Dove series. Can you imagine the daunting task that native Texan and screenwriter Bill Wit tliff took on when he adapted Larry McMurtry’s novel to film? First, he needed to rein in the sprawling 843 page story while still retaining its majestic essence. Wittliff’s work was also made more difficult because, in the novel, McMurtry uses the narrator’s voice to reveal information about characters and to describe events. To provide the same information in the film, Wittliff needed to create dialogue and provide visual cues that did not exist in the novel.
A Southwestern Writers Collection is housed at Texas State and many of the original documents he used while creating this western classic can be viewed online at:
The web exhibit features storyboards, costumes, including Gus’s boots, and even Gus’s dead wrapped body.
The epic four-part six-hour mini-series focuses on the relationship of retired Texas Rangers and their adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana.McMurtry originally developed the tale in 1972 for a feature film entitled The Streets of Laredo (a title later used for the sequel), which was to have starred John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and James Stewart.That didn’t happen, but thank goodness, McMurtry later resurrected the screenplay as a full-length novel.It deservingly became a bestseller and won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
The mini-series won six Emmy Awards and was nominated for 13 others.
Casting for this epic was pure genius.Who better to portray these multi-faceted aging Texas Rangers who to this day represent the epitome of courage, loyalty and everything we think of when we think “American West?”
Robert Duvall is Captain Augustus McCrae, co-owner of the Hat Creek Cattle Company, and considers himself the brains of the outfit. Generous, humorous, and lazy to the point of eccentricity, he serves as a foil to the more serious, practical Call. When not working, which he does as little as possible, Gus pursues his three chief interests in life: women, alcohol and cards. He is well known in the territory for his loud voice, superior eyesight and accuracy with a revolver.
Tommy Lee Jones is Captain Woodrow F. Call, Gus’s partner in the company. Less verbose and chatty than McCrae, Call works long and hard and sees no reason why others should not do the same. A former Texas Ranger, he served with Gus when both were young men. Though Call has utter disdain for lazy men who drink, gamble and whore their lives away, he has his own secret shame, which he hides carefully from his comrade. Call’s ability to manage unmanageable horses is also well known.
Danny Glover plays a magnificent role as Joshua Deets, an ex-slave and former Ranger.When the story starts he’s a ranch hand at the company. On the drive, he serves as scout. A remarkable tracker and morally upright man, he is one of the few men whom Call respects and trusts.
Before he hit the NY streets as a cop, Rick Shroder played Newt Dobbs, young orphan raised by Gus and Call. His mother was a prostitute named Maggie Tilton, who died when he was a child. He knows his mother was a prostitute, and has no idea who his father might be. Most other observers, notably Gus and Clara Allen, are quite certain that Call is his father. Call eventually comes to this realization privately, but is never able to admit it explicitly.
Anjelica Houston is Clara Allen, a former love of Gus’sShe declined his marriage proposals years ago, and now lives in Nebraska, married to a horse trader who is comatose, having been kicked in the head by a horse. They have two girls, though she is afflicted deeply by the death of her sons. Though separated from Gus by many miles and years, she still holds him fondly in her heart. In contrast, she has utter contempt for Call.
Diane Lane is the lovely young Lorena Wood, a kind-hearted young woman who was forced into prostitution by her lover, then abandoned in Lonesome Dove. Lorena is silent, strong willed, and intimidating, refusing to submit meekly to her various admirers. Discontent with her line of work, “Lorie” hopes to leave the dead town and find her way to San Francisco.Gus is her champion, and who could ask for a better one?
Secondary threads with characters of July and Almira Johnson and Blue Duck are intricately woven into the plot and throughout the journey of the cattle drive.You can’t help but be enamored by the characters and caught up in their adventures.Watching the story unfold brings laughter and tears every time.The music that accompanies the panoramic scenes does a beautiful job of enhancing the grandeur of the vast landscape and feel of the untamed west. I often listen to the original soundtrack, composed and conducted by Basil Poledouris. Lonesome Dove spawned the follow-up miniseries, Return to Lonesome Dove.
Trivia facts about Lonesome Dove:
* Robert Duvall, who has appeared in over 80 movies, told CBS that Augustus McCrae, the character he played in Lonesome Dove, was his all time favorite role.We can see why.
* The characters of July Johnson and Roscoe bear the same names as the sheriff and his sidekick who track James Stewart and Dean Martin in the movie Bandolero! (1968). Also, the sequence where Stewart and Martin discuss Montana resembles a similar scene in Lonesome Dove.
* The book, and the character Gus, is mentioned in country singer George Strait’s song “That’s My Kind Of Woman.”
So, fess up.How many times have you watched Lonesome Dove?Did you think return to Lonesome Dove lived up to the first?Have you watched Streets of Laredo or Deadman’s Walk which precede the story?
If you’re a western lover and you’ve never seen this movie, well, I’m just sad for you.But your situation is subject to change.Head for Blockbuster!
Getting the clothes right in a book is as important as in a movie and writers and costume designers go to a lot of work to make sure they have it right.
Costume designer Van Broughton Ramsey won an Emmy Award for his work on Lonesome Dove. Ramsey did extensive research into the clothing of the period, and he made sure that the characters’ wardrobe matched their occupations and social standing. Ramsey collected cloth swatches and photocopies of period photos from books and articles. He even commissioned specially silkscreened bandanas for Gus and Call. Ramsey also compiled a notebook containing the shooting schedule, filming locations, and sizes of the principal cast members and extras. By using this information in conjunction with his research, Ramsey created these initial drawings which were used to produce the actual costumes.
Tomorrow I’ll be blogging about Lonesome Dove, the epic mini-series loved by western fans everywhere. Don’t miss it!
There are few things that smack of the Old West as much as a cattle drive and all that one entailed–cowboys, drovers, rowdy cowtowns.Remudas of horses and thousands of head of longhorn cattle.Dust and sweat–and fortunes made at the end of the line.
One lesser known facet of the era is the cattle queen, a rare and intriguing breed of woman who owned her own ranch and herd.A hard life made harder without a man at her side.
I had long wanted to build a story combining those parts of America’s history, and UNTAMED COWBOY was born.
But once I had the plot in mind, my creativity stalled.What did I know about cattle drives–besides almost nothing? So I hit the Internet and found some lovely rare book sites.Along the way, I uncovered some intriguing tidbits of information. Here’s a few I’ll share with you:
1.The horns on longhorn cattle had a spread of up to seven feet wide and were strong enough to rip bark off a tree.
2.The average size herd during the peak of the cattle drive era was 3,000 head.It took a remuda of 75 horses and 7 – 10 cowboys to drive the herds.Trail bosses were paid $100/month, the cook $50/month and each cowboy, $30/month.These were minimal expenses for herds that when sold netted their owners $100,000 for a trip that took anywhere from several weeks to several months.Do the math.That’s a hefty profit for the time.
3.The usual fare for cowboys was beans, bacon, hard biscuits and strong coffee.Ironically, though they were surrounded by beef, the outfits rarely killed a beef on the trail because only a smart part of the meat could be eaten before it spoiled.
4.In dry country, thirsty cattle could smell water ten miles away.
5.Lightning was the most common cause of death on the trail.During a storm, the cowboys would hide their silver (metal spurs, knives, even six-shooters) to avoid being struck.
For those rare times when beef was available, the camp cook would make his own version of “Sonofabitch Stew.”(Sorry–I don’t mean to offend anyone, but this is what they called it.Honest!Variations were SOB Stew, or Son-of-a-gun Stew.)
Here’s one yummy-sounding recipe:
2 lbs. lean beef
Half a calf heart
1 ½ pounds calf liver
1 set sweetbreads (thymus gland)
1 set brains
1 set marrow gut
Louisiana hot sauce
Kill off a young steer and cut up beef, liver and heart into 1 inch cubes.Slice the marrow gut into small rings.Place in a Dutch oven or deep casserole.Cover meat with water and simmer 2 – 3 hours.
Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.Take sweetbreads and brains and cut in small pieces.Add to stew.Simmer another hour, never boiling.
Eww! <gag, choke!>Can you imagine eating this?
(By the way, this picture is one an old-time photographer took of cowboys eating the stew out on the range.)
What are some of the strangest foods you’ve eaten?Where were you when you ate it?How did it taste?
Let us know, and you’ll be eligible to win an autographed copy of UNTAMED COWBOY and a couple of sparkly Harlequin pens!
Okay. I’ll go first. My Sicilian grandmother used to fry zucchini blossoms, and they were the best! She’d go out into her garden first thing in the morning when the bright yellow blossoms were open (during the hottest part of the day, they’d close). Now, maybe you didn’t know there were female and male blossoms, but there are. The female part bears the fruit, so if you pick those, you won’t have any zucchini. She’d pick the male blossoms, dip them into beaten eggs, dredge them in seasoned bread crumbs, romano cheese, salt and pepper and fried them. Mmm. I can almost smell them now. A wonderful Italian treat and a treasured memory!
I look forward to hearing from you!
And don’t forget to enter our FALL BONANZA CONTEST–just go to the Primrose News Office page, and we’ll tell you how!
The American cowboy had a whole passel of unwritten codes and sayings about how to conduct himself in the West. In fact, a list of those would probably fill an entire book. They were usually short, blunt, and to the point because the cowboy was sparing of his words. They always brimmed with a whole lot of wisdom though. And breaking one of their rules might land you in a heap of trouble.
Love and protect your family.
Be gentle and kind to your horse.
Respect yourself and others.
Treat the land well and it’ll be good to you.
Don’t spit on the sidewalk.
Keep a lid on your can of cuss words in the company of womenfolk.
Don’t stick your nose in where it don’t belong or it might get broken.
And the list goes on. The saying that sticks in my mind lately though is this one–“Dance with the One That Brung You.”
It was proper etiquette for a lady to always remember who brought her to the dance and to show her appreciation by nothing less than dancing with that person. Abandoning her escort to dance with another was considered unmannerly, not to say ill-advised, and tantamount to throwing down the gauntlet. The spurning could lead to serious consequences–and had sometimes been known to cause a case or two of lead poisoning.
Grant you, society today is very different from the way it was a hundred or so years ago. But, most of us who remember the unwritten rules of conduct fare much better than those who’ve tossed them in the trash. I still cut a wide berth around someone who hawks up a big wad of phlegm and spits it on the sidewalk. Yuck! And we sure haven’t done too good a job at taking care of the land. We’ve polluted and ravaged what was once so bountiful.
I remember my mama’s teachings and try to live accordingly, not only to make her proud of me, but because I want to make myself the very best I can be. So far, her wisdom has steered me in the right direction. When I was born in the late 1940’s, my parents, two sisters, a brother, and me lived in a one-room tent. The picture at the right shows a little of what it looked like. (And it was the first time I rode a horse. Seems I started early. Even if the horse was borrowed.) It took my parents a long time to recover from the Great Depression. They never had too much to begin with and what precious little they had was lost when the Depression hit. My folks were long on pride and short on money. The tent was a blessed, prized possession. They’d seen plenty of times when the sky was their roof and the ground their bed. Even then they gave thanks for that. There’s much to be said for doing what you can with what the good Lord gives you. I’m not ashamed for having lived in a tent for the early part of my life. Being poor is no reason to hang your head. I think if the young, spoiled movie stars today had a lot less money and a more stable structure to their lives they wouldn’t be in the revolving doors of rehab and jail. Maybe instead of a cell the judge should sentence them to living on a working ranch for a few years? That might help them learn to appreciate the wonderful gifts they’ve been given. And to keep their dadgum bloomers on! It sure couldn’t hurt. Nothing else seems to work.
I think everyone should always remember where they came from, how they got where they are, and who brought them to this dance called life. I’m proud of my humble beginnings. No matter what success or accomplishment may come way I never want to forget for a single moment the place I came from and the sacrifice of loving parents who worked their fingers to the bone. They’ve already gone from this earth but they left a treasured legacy in trying to give their kids the very best they could. I know I’m deeply satisfied to have been so lucky. Because of them I have a clear view (most of the time anyway) of the world and how I fit in it. At least I keep my bloomers on!
I hope I never get too uppity or forget my raising. And I always want to remember to dance with the one that brought me.
Do you have memories of your growing-up years that still influence you today? Or maybe you still practice some of the codes of the west?
Special Reminder: Be sure to enter the Big Fall Bonanza Contest on our Primrose News Submittal Page!!! Lots of neat prizes to give away to some lucky person. Yea! 🙂
It’s a great day to sit back and watch classic westerns. I personally plan to climb into my classic western library and watch “3:10 to Yuma” as I eagerly await the opening of its remake September 9th.
A sister blogger mentioned this film as well as two other new westerns being released this year, signaling, we all fervently hope, a renewed interest in western novels.
I’m no longer a frequent theater goer. In truth, it’s been more than two years since I’ve been in a theater which indicates my opinion of most of today’s movie offerings. One reason for this long abstinence is I have no time. I have a mother in a nursing home, deadlines and far too much involvement in various organizations. Time is a precious commodity not to be wasted, and I see a dearth of good character-driven stories in theaters today.But “3:10 to Yuma” will draw me back. The movie is a remake of my second all-time favorite western by the same name. That film, starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, is featured regularly on Starz’s Western Channel. If you’ve never watched it and you’re a western fan, you’ve missed a treat. Like “High Noon,” it’s in black and white. A lone guitar is its music backdrop. Tension is palpable.But unlike “High Noon,” it’s not entirely good against evil. Too many nuances. The hero isn’t embarking on a quest for noble reasons. He’s doing it for money. And the villain, well, you’ll have to watch.It IS a duel between two men. A good man, a farmer, who is desperate for cash in drought-strickened Bisbee Arizona (I confess to some bias here; my dad grew up there), agrees to put an outlaw on the 3:10 train to Yuma. Problem is the outlaw’s gang is determine to free him, no matter how many lives they must take. Glenn Ford, as the outlaw, is great. Although he’s a ruthless murderer, he has charm in abundance. At every turn, he is testing his captor. One reason I like the film so much is the starkness of the landscape, of the story itself. The end comes as a complete surprise.
In the new version, Russell Crowe has Glenn Ford’s part. I can’t see how he could possibly be better than Glenn Ford in the role, but then he IS Russell Crowe. And the last film I saw in the theater was “Master and Commander.” I think that tells you something about how much I like him.
I’ve seen some of the trailers for “3:10.” In the original film, Van Heflin’s sons were young and remained on the farm. Apparently in this version, the farmer’s son is older and follows him as he takes the outlaw to justice. Looks like terrific action. Terrific cinematic effects. I’m not so sure I like that. The power of the original movie was its simplicity.
But I do like the fact that it is a major motion picture, and that two other major productions are coming out this year. I’m praying it’ll spur new interest in our western heritage.
Having said all that, I thought I would list my top ten favorite western classics. My all time favorite is “The Big Country” with Charlton Heston, Jean Simmons and Gregory Peck. Unlike “3:10,” it’s a big sprawling epic of a western. The last scenes are classic.
My third favorite is, of course, “High Noon,” followed by “Red River,” “Duel In the Sun,” “The Magnicent Seven,” “Shane,” “The Unforgiven,” “Lonely Are The Brave, “The Last Wagon,” “How the West Was Won,” and “Hondo.”
What are your favorite all time classics? How do you rank them? And why?