Montezuma’s Castle

Writers’ Trigger:

Why not make your own Universal Deck of Cards? If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by seasonal obligations, this activity does not call for a lot of effort and yet, the finished product is very useful. I like this activity because there is a game-element to it, and I am always up for playing a game.

The object is to build a personal cache of words. Randomly pulling three words from the cache is a great way to jumpstart your writing on a gray, overcast day. Begin by brainstorming the words that you will use.

  • List 16 words for each of the five senses: taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound.
  • 10 action or motion words
  • three abstract nouns
  • seven words that defy categorization.

Choose specific words over general (Meadowlark, not bird); choose words that resonate for you personally (memory-wise, the words should take you somewhere); and choose words that have an interesting sound.

Once you have your 100 words, you will copy each word on cardstock. When you are feeling creatively flat, reach into your stash and blindly draw three words. Incorporate these words in a piece of writing. The beauty of building a deck of cards is that you can dip into it again and again and never draw the same three cards.  


We have just returned from a family reunion in Sedona, AZ. The Red Rocks are world- famous. Below, I’ve posted the view from my sister-in-law’s living room window.


Perhaps you are thinking, “Well… that’s the view from one window, what about looking out another?” Every view is spectacular. If the view isn’t red rocks thrown down by Thor, the view is mesas and canyons on a grand scale.

The landscape is a tourist draw as is a thriving arts community, but an additional attraction is Sedona’s reputation for Vortex Healing. The town draws a lot of “crystal types.”

Any number of tour guides will lead you (for a fee) to enlightenment. One of the most amusing websites promoting enlightenment tourism can be found by going to Once there, type “Sedona Vortex Healing Tour.” A great video will introduce you to Kavitaa, your guide.

I don’t question that the landscape can take you outside yourself, but the sing-song, kindergarten teacher, mother-to-child voices of the guides puts me off. The voices and the blatant commercialism close my mind. I refuse to be enlightened.

For me, the highlight of this trip was a visit to Montezuma’s Castle which was built into a cliff-face by the Southern Sinagua in the 1100s. The five-story tall “castle” stands 100 feet above the valley floor. The Sinagua were attracted to the Verde Valley by irrigation systems left by the Hohokam an earlier people who lived on the river between 700 and 900.

Although the castle was built before the Montezuma we know (the Aztec emperor of Mexico conquered by Cortez in 1520) the European Americans who first discovered the castle in the 1860s were so amazed at the sophistication of the stone and mortar building that they mistakenly assumed that it was built by the Aztecs.

The five-story, 20-room building rises 100 feet above the valley floor. According to the National Park Service brochure, four ladders were needed to reach the castle. Not that all ladders were equal in length, but on average, each ladder was 25-ft tall!

I picture myself living at that time. A step-ladder is about my speed, and so I am truly impressed, not only with the building but also with the daring of the women who with a container of water on their heads, climbed first one ladder and then another.

As common wisdom has it… “They don’t make women like they used to.”

A cross-section of the building gives some notion of how the rooms might have been used. No one knows why the complex was abandoned in the 1400s. Because the castle was built into a cliff recess, the relatively soft limestone has withstood the ravages of time. A larger, 50-room apartment complex to the west lies in ruins.

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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