Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Childhood games and Play

Whew. Tuesday almost went right past me again. Where oh where does the time go.

The prevailing thought today is about play. As children we played all the time. It was just what we did. If there weren't friends to play with we made them up or had tea parties with our dolls or stuffed animals. If there were kids in the neighborhood we found them and usually made friends. We all met at a neighbors yard and spent our summer nights playing tag or catching June bugs. In the winter we made forts and snowmen.

What were your favorite games or activities as a child? In my neighborhood we met at the house on the corner. They had a very big lot and since there were no fences our yard became part of the play area. There was Jon, Lorna and Jan and before that Patty lived there. Across the street there was Denton and Karen. They went to Catholic school so I was always glad to get home to see my friends. I never seemed to have friends like that at school.

So many memories but I don't remember when I quit playing. I didn't play for a very long time. I wouldn't think of sitting down with crayons and a coloring book or a stuffed animal. Now I love them. It's funny but I notice that people reach a certain age and many of them find play an important part of their lives. I have two friends who have chosen "play" as their word for 2011. A reminder to take time for themselves and let go. Art journalers do this and most of the mixed-media artists I've met. They've learned that a little bit of play makes life oh so much better.

In my writing group today a friend gave me a ZhuZhu. I didn't know about this fad but I laughed and laughed as I sent it running across the table. Other members of the group picked it up and directed it back at me as they continued their conversations. I had fun being a child causing trouble for awhile. I don't think I would have done that 20 years ago. I've learned how to play again. I draw, color, sew, hug my stuffed animals, and watch children's movies. (We had a great time with "Wall-e" on Christmas.) As the world becomes more and more stressful we all need to remember to play. 

Share with us how you played as a child. What were your favorite games? Who were your friends? How do you play as an adult? What "games" can you teach the rest of us?

The picture is my cousin Kay and I (kneeling) having our own tea party. I loved that little tea set. I was 6 or 7.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


The Inner Critics are taking over my office.
Hello Blogland Friends,

I'm sitting in Border's with a large hot chai enjoying the day. I'm feeling good today; much better than I have in quite a while, and not just physically. I'm finding this rather strange because is a chilly, rainy day and usually this kind of day sends me right in to the dooldrums. Not today.

When I came I was going to work on my article for the Tombstone Times but suddenly I felt like talking to my blog friends. So this post may ramble a bit. I have had a Border's rewards card for a long time. I had two coupons today, one for the free hot chai and another I used to buy a package of Tazo tea for a friend. I slept well last night. All these things have added up to this good day and lots of positive thoughts. Isn't it wonderful?

I've been working on building my herd of "Inner Critics" and having fun with them. One friend bought one from my Etsy shop and commented how it really does work for her to zip that mouth a few times to make her smile, clear her mind, and get her ready to write. Thanks, Windy, it's great to hear they are serving their purpose.

Well, it is a few days later and I'm back at Borders. It is much quieter and I had to pay for my chai but it's another good day. Saturday was the Phoenix Writers Club Christmas meeting. I had some of my Inner Critics with me and Quinn, a creativity coach bought two. Then she went home and blogged about them, describing them much better than I ever could. Take a look here. She even filled in for the club secretary and did the minutes to Twas the Night Before Christmas. (Thanks, Quinn.)

It seems I was meant to carry this post over. By-the-way I did get my article in to the Tombstone Times.  whew. So here I am still feeling good, enjoying my chai, and wishing you all a very safe and happy holiday.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Holiday Calmers

Tis the week before Christmas and my muse has gone on vacation.

Even though Doug and I don't do anything special for the holiday I've been feeling rushed and stressed right along with all those crazies out there on the streets and at the malls. I've thought for a couple of days about what would be a special post for this last Tuesday before Christmas and have come up completely blank.
I've even zipped the Inner Critic's zipper quite a few times and decided that this time it isn't his fault.

I find that what I most want to do is inspire everyone to think about the peaceful moments. The quiet, calm memories that slow your heart rate and make you take a deep breath and relax. Even if they are just memories from a few days ago. What things do you find calming about the holidays?

Hot apple cider comes to mind.
How about the sounds of silence after a snow?
Watching a fire in the fireplace or a favorite movie such as "It's a Wonderful Life."
Sipping hot chocolate in a room full of lighted candles.
Babies bundled up in fleece jammies sleeping peacefully in your arms.
Cutting snowflakes from crisp white paper.

To my friend, Cindi, it is unpacking all the ornaments her three children made over the years and taking the time to reminiscence about each one before hanging it on the tree.

Here are some wintery scenes from my childhood. This was my grandparent's house in Southwestern Kansas.

So, on this last Tuesday before Christmas 2010 I wish you all special moments of peace and calm.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Warm Fuzzy Memories

While watching all the cold/snowy/icy weather on the news I was reminded of this photo of my mother shoveling the snow at our home in Great Bend, Kansas. I believe this was the last winter before we moved to Arizona. Mom never had to shovel snow again.
This week we are breaking records here in Arizona. Yesterday it was 82 degrees F. Although some are complaining that they can't get in to the spirit of Christmas with this warm weather; I am loving it.

While looking for the picture of mom I found another treasure.
This picture is from my sister's house quite a few years ago. The piece of furniture is her hope chest. I can still picture her sitting in front of it as it sat in the living room of our childhood home. She'd lay out the things inside obviously dreaming of her future home.

The tree lamp was always a favorite for both of us. It is now at my brother-in-laws and still works as far as I know. I don't know how many times I pictured little characters, or a tiny version of myself, in those ceramic branches. Perhaps that horse or those snowmen hanging on the branches of the Christmas tree sneak over there at night.

Old, and not so old photographs, are full of memories. When you can't be with the people you love, sit quietly with a cup of tea and a box of photos and their love will surround you. If you are spending the holidays with loved ones take the time to notice the little things. Take pictures of the everyday. Even though the tree lamp just happened to be there when my sister took this picture it has brought me some warm fuzzies from her this year too. 

What are some of your warm fuzzy memories?  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: First Steps

First Steps

This is my mom on the day she took her first steps.
Grandma said she just started down the sidewalk and that was that.

Look closely at her face. There is determination, pride, and a bit of joy.

That was my mom. She was always taking bold steps; raising us girls on her own, making our home the best she could, fighting cancer with every bit of her being.

She was a source of inspiration for everyone around her right down to her great grandchildren. She will continue to be an inspiration in the stories we pass down about her.

There's the story about when she was about five years old they were visiting my great grandparents. They were going to have roast beef but Mom wanted chicken. So out she went to the chicken yard, caught and killed a chicken and brought it in to the kitchen for dinner.

In 1967 she decided to leave Kansas and come to Arizona to try and make a new start. Just her and me,
 the dog, a cat and a U-Haul trailer full of everything we owned. I didn't want to leave my friends and school in Kansas so I know I wasn't easy to deal with on that trip.  

This has me thinking about all the first steps we take in our life.
There are the obvious ones like baby Viola, first jobs, college, first apartment, first love.
What about all the little steps you take every day?

Stepping out of your comfort zone to help somebody else, trying some new art technique or showing your work for the first time, submitting an essay or short story to a magazine, joining a book discussion group, trying a new food.

What steps have you taken recently? Were they baby steps or big steps?
It really doesn't matter, just that you took them.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Busy Creating

I've had this vision in my head for about a year. It has finally become a real thing. Introducing the "Inner Critic."
You will never be a writer.
Who do you think you are trying to write?
You can't even spell.
Nobody will like what you are doing so you might as well not try.

Have you ever heard these comments and many others sounding off in your mind as you try to write or doing anything creative, for that matter? Well, now when that little voice gets on your nerves you can just ZIP IT. Literally. Each of these "Inner Critics" has a working zipper for a mouth along with lots of personality in the form of mismatched buttons, fun fabrics and "mean" eyebrows.
I will be putting these wonderful little critters, who passed inspection at my favorite writing group, in my Etsy shop in the next day or so. I hope you will stop by and check them out.

I want to add that I'm so excited to have so many people comment on the new traditions in your families. It really shows that most of us don't like what the holidays have become and hope and work towards a better way to show our spirit and love. Thank you, everyone, for sharing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tues...Wednesdays With Rita

Yep, Tuesday just came and went. I did think briefly about my blog post as we headed to do some shopping but the rest of the day it was just....well....gone.

And I'm sorry to say I just don't have any inspiration this week. There is so much going on. I'm still having the onslaught of eye doctor appointments and Doug returned to work after breaking his ribs. Thus the hurried shopping while we could still go during the week.

I did think a bit yesterday about new traditions. How long do you have to do something before it becomes a tradition? Does it matter? Since Jessica moved to Washington and it's just Doug and I for the holidays we have simplified what we do. Most of our shopping is for the grandkids and all of that has to be mailed early so then we just don't do much except have a nice dinner.

Our new tradition, however, is to spend a couple of hours roaming Cost Plus World Market for fun and interesting foods to send to the kids. Foods from around the world, traditional foods, long time favorites such as Walker's shortbread. We have so much fun and it just isn't the holidays until we make it to CPWM. We did that yesterday and I have to say it does seem like each year the selection goes down a bit. We couldn't find a few items. Everybody in the family will get their shortbread.

Do you have any "new" traditions? Say the last 5 to 10 years? What is your signal that the holidays are here?

Happy Hanukkah.

An old journal page that (re)caught my eye.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jennie's Hair

I was saving this picture for a future post but so many have commented on Grandma Jennie's hair I decided to go ahead and put it here.

When they took Jennie's hair down after this picture they found the beautiful waves in the photo I posted yesterday. I never thought to ask how she wore her hair from day to day.

I asked so many questions and yet I missed so many others. I hope if you can still ask the questions you are making every effort to do so...and writing them down.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Favorite Story

Sometime around 1910 my great grandparents, Nellie and Bert Martin, were living on a farm in southwestern Kansas. They had an 8 year old daughter, Jennie, and had just lost a baby boy. Times were very tough.

Nellie and Bert were living in the barn until a house could be built. It had a breezeway with stalls and storage on either side. Nellie did the cooking in the granary with an old quilt as a curtain. They slept in the loft.

Creeks tend to meander this way and that around there and Jennie had to cross one creek 8 or 9 times going each way to school. She'd stop with the neighbor kids and sometimes have dinner until her dad showed up on the horse to take her on home.

The time of this story Bert was away for a time so Nellie and Jennie were alone in that barn. They went to bed for the night but were awakened by a clicking sound down below; kind of like something being knocked against something else. While Jennie hid by the bed Nellie stood over that loft door, her white nightgown glowing in the moonlight from the little doors open on each end, and her pitchfork at the ready.

After a while they didn't hear the sound any more so they both went back to bed.

Just as they were dozing off the click, click came again. They listened a little closer and soon realized the breeze coming through the loft was lifting the lid on the chamber pot just enough for it to make a clink as it dropped back down. They had a good laugh, moved the chamber pot, and slept the rest of the night.

I can't tell you how many times Grandma Jennie told me this story and always ended up chuckling at the end. Today would be her 108th birthday. I have loved this photo of my Grandma ever since I was small.
I hope you enjoyed the story and the photo as much as I always have.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

For those of you in the United States who haven't started your Thanksgiving turkey here are the instructions from my grandson as written for his Kindergarten class:

How to cook a turkey....By Alex Mayer

My dad shoots the turkey. It falls down. Take the feathers off. Then put the turkey in the fridge and wait for a long time. Cook it at my house in the microwave. Cook it for 15 minutes. Put the turkey on a plate and eat it. Turkey is good for me! Candy for dessert, a ring pop. It's good! After we are done eating, I go to bed.

So there you have it. The ultimate Thanksgiving dinner.

It was predicted that this will be the coldest Thanksgiving in Phoenix in 80 years. I'll let you know tomorrow what our highs and lows are.

In the meantime, I hope you are all safe, warm and filled with life's blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Grandma Jennie

My grandmother, Jennie, was born on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1902. Her parents, Nellie and Bert, were visiting some friends in Englewood, Kansas when Nellie went in to labor. I never thought to ask if she was early or if they just didn't think too much about that then.
Whenever Grandma would talk about this picture she said she was holding her locket. Again, why didn't I think to ask about that locket? Could it be the one Nellie gave my sister and we found in her things last spring? (See here.)

Nellie's family settled in an area southeast of Dodge City, Kansas in the early 1880s. They lived in dugouts in a canyon now commonly known as Keith Canyon after the family name. After Nellie and Bert were married they lived in various locations in the area and Grandma Jennie said she learned to crawl on a dirt floor covered by floor sacks her mother had sewn together. When she got older she loved to dig in the sand hills around their house and "Mama was always mad because I lost her silver spoons in the sand."

After Bert "ran out" on Nellie they moved in to Meade and she became a telephone operator. She also baked bread and Jennie delivered it to the local store in her little wagon.
They ended up in Fowler, a tiny nearby town where Nellie's parents had also settled. We have photos of Nellie at the switchboard which I will share another time.
This photo is Jennie (on the right) with her groom, Cecil, on their wedding day, January 20, 1922. That is Cecil's sister Grace on the left. This photo was taken in front of the telephone office in Fowler. Jennie and Cecil lived in Fowler, Meade and Montezuma. I spent many of my summers with them and we usually drove the 80 miles from our home in Great Bend to their home in Montezuma for the holidays.
 Here's Grandma Jennie more as I remember her. She crocheted and tatted. She tried to teach us to tat but her hands flew so fast none of us really picked it up except Elizabeth, her great, great granddaughter.

Grandma passed away here in Phoenix at age 96 and had her "wits about her" all that time. She was a great lady and as often as I asked her questions I realize now there are so many more I should have asked.
I miss you Grandma. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday.

Please share some memories of one of your grandmothers or another
significant older female in your life. Let their memories live on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Art Heals

"When life is difficult, do something to help someone else, and your problems will diminish. There is always someone much worse off than you," said Jane Seymour while discussing one of the lessons learned from her mother.

There was much more to the story but I didn't take notes or record her discussion at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Jane spoke of caring for others, her children, going through devastating times, her art, and the loss of her mother. She touch our hearts as she has done so many times in the past.

We were there for the signing of her latest book Among Angels. It is a beautiful work filled with heartfelt quotes and artwork straight from this wonderful woman's own heart.
I was amazed when people in the audience talked about watching "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman" and gaining strength from Jane through her character. I hadn't really thought about it that way. Jane played the part of a strong determined woman on our western frontier. More than that, she played herself and I think that is why so many people were drawn to that show that lasted 6 or 7 seasons when most didn't think it would last a few episodes. 

She found art during a desperate part of her life and it helped save her just as I've read so many times in magazines and in BlogLand. Art Saves. Art Heals. But, going back to Jane's comment about her mother...by sharing your art and yourself you spread healing throughout the world.

Thank you, Jane, for a beautiful message when I needed it most. Thank you fellow artists for sharing of your selves.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Bullies and Glasses

I'm back. The cataract surgery went well but I had some problems afterward with the pressure caused by the glaucoma going way to high. I've been five days of having to rest and take it easy and no reading. Do you have any idea how impossible that has seemed. I have gotten on-line and scanned some emails and blogs but didn't answer much.

I can't tell you how much I have appreciated all the positive comments on last the last Tuesdays With Rita. My daughter called me the afternoon of the surgery and we discussed how I wasn't sure if I should have posted that particular post about being teased and carrying that hurt and anger around all this time. She told me to read the comments and I would realize it was absolutely right. That people had left beautiful comments and that I had touched more than one with my post.

I wasn't able to read the comments for a couple of days but I held what she told me close to my heart. I realized that my heart was feeling lighter..it was like the dark places where the memories were held all this time were opened up and light and lightness were allowed in.

That others related to the issues of having glasses and being different and being bullied and then giving me advice was, to me, amazing. I have since picked up SARK's new book but I haven't done any reading. Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change Into Gift and Opportunity looks like just what I need right now.

I've had a lot of time to think about my childhood and Janet and Sandra and you know what...they have moved out of that dark place. It is a weird feeling. I don't know if it's because I "went public" or because I received so much positive feedback or because I just made the decision to make the change in my attitude as I made the change in my sight; but it worked. I hope all of you who had similar experiences find light and healing in your hearts for those dark places/memories.

Something has changed in Blogger and I can't upload the photos I wanted to share. I don't want to miss Tuesday so I will work on that issue for tomorrow or the next day, I suppose. In the meantime, I'm reveling in this lightening of my spirit. Can you share a similar experience of letting go? Or do you have an experience you need to tell the world so you can find a lighter heart?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita

Hello All,

Today is a strange day. I'm actually thinking back to the years I wore glasses...such as these in Fifth Grade. I was bullied and even physically hurt at times. I frankly don't imagine the bangs helped any. 

There was one girl in particular...Sandra. She was a little thing which may be why she bullied somebody like me who would never dream of standing up for myself. I remember one day in particular when we were an the turning bars. I had my hands resting on the bar and she was next to me and putting her leg up over the bar. She was stretching her heavy brown shod foot as far as she could so she could squish my fingers. When I said to be careful she told me, in her snotty way, to move my hands. I promptly backed down.

I can picture all this as if it was yesterday. I don't remember if it was that day or another day but I fell off the bar flat on my back. All the wind was knocked out of me. I sat on the edge of the sidewalk and tried to recover while some of the girls tried to get me to go to the teacher on duty. I looked over at her but the fear of saying anything was stronger than the pain in my back and trying to get my breath back. I slowly recovered and made my way to the classroom as the bell rang.

Sandra and another girl named Janet have haunted me all these years. The hurt and sorrow. Being alone and lonely. I was sixteen when I finally got my contacts but for the most part the damage was done.

Why am I dwelling on this? I'm having cataract surgery tomorrow. I had high hopes of not needing contacts or glasses (except reading glasses) again. However, my eyes are such an odd shape, "special" as my surgeon said, that he can't get a replacement lens that will correct my eyesight. I am so disappointed. I will have somewhat better sight (he said I'll be able to find my way to the bathroom at night without glasses) and the cataract will be gone but not what I had hoped for or what I understood would be the outcome.

Still, although I've had my ups and downs I'm trying to turn my attitude around and hope with getting rid of the cataracts (the other eye will be done next week) I will somehow get rid of these negative memories. I feel like putting this photo up on the Internet is a first step. Those glasses were a part of me and contacts will remain a part of me. That's okay. I won't let Sandra and Janet (picture Nellie from Little House on the Prairie) cause me any more pain. As I fight the cataracts and the depression I will shrug them off and fully appreciate all the wonderful people in my life.

What memories are you carrying around? How do you plan on putting them in their place in the back of your mind and replace them with positive thoughts?

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNoJouMo and Other Challenges

I'm doing art every day. The reason is; I've taken up the sword, er challenge. Well, quite a few actually but that is how I work. It's the same with my writing. If I don't have a deadline I just don't get it done. Sure, I write every day, but not the kinds of things that I want to submit. And then I don't go through and do the editing, unless I have to. I've tried all kinds of tricks to change this. I set up false deadlines. If I know the deadline is the 20th of each month I put on my calendar the 10th. This doesn't work because I still Know the deadline is the 20th.

With frustration, stress, and sometimes, tears I make my deadlines. I know I'm not the only one in this boat. I do find that the challenges on BlogLand keep me working. I'm pushed to do something every day. I push myself to try new techniques and mediums. I grow and learn and develop. That's what's important (and filling my etsy shop and making editors happy.)

I'm caught up with NaNoJouMo. I'm really enjoying this challenge of one word a day. Here's a couple of the one's I've done for equanimity and moment.

I'm also busy with art every day month. Sometimes I count the journal pages but I'm trying to do them as separate challenges. Here's the tag I made for June's weekly challenge: Song, Dance, Music. June has these wonderful weekly challenges that have stretched my creativity more than once. Now she is having a big challenge to create a piece using one of her downloads. You can learn more at Dezinaworld. Thanks for the nudges, June.
Are YOU challenging yourself? Tell us your favorite challenges. (Watch out for Tuesdays With Rita for another type of challenge.) Have a Grrrrrrrreat Day.

Materials for artwork on this page:
Equanimity: Caran d'Ache Neocolor II crayons, images from computer and scrabpook paper. lace, charcoal, rapidograph pen
Moment: Neocolor II crayons, magazine image, stamps, charcoal, gel pens, rapidograph pen
Song, Dance, Music: tag, fiber, vintage music, cardstock, Derwent InkTense Pencils, rapidograph pen, Ranger vintage ink, Neocolor II crayons, gel pens, lace


Friday, November 5, 2010

Still Obsessed.

I finally found a Ravel video like the one I saw on tv and the announcer is quieter.
If you like horses even a little bit this will knock your socks off.
Be sure to have your sound on because he literally dances to the music.

Where'd the Week Go???

I can't believe it's Friday. The week has zoomed by. I didn't get many things done that I planned on and a few things I hadn't planned on. I am keeping up with the NaNoJouMo challenge of journaling every day to a word. I'm working in my visual journal but doing more writing than usual. Yesterdays word
was quarter and here's what I came up with...

I guess I was thinking pink, kind of unusual for me, because I had finished the challenge from June at Dezinaworld. The challenge was hot pink and silver. Sadly, I didn't get it sent in in time. This week the challenge is song, dance and music. Thanks, June.

I've also been making Tattered Past hearts to decorate some of my artwork, my blog, and my etsy shop.
I'm really having fun with these.

And, last but not least is my Day One of the art everyday challenge. The word was Inception.

For those who are interested the supplies used in the artwork above are:
Quarter and Inception -- Caran d'ache Neocolor II watersoluble crayons, magazine cutouts, rapidograph pen
Be Yourself -- Caran d'ache Neocolor II watersoluble crayons, magazine cutout, ribbon, pink puff paint, gel pens, sticky note and marker
Hearts -- muslin, paint, do-dads, sticker letters and pillow ticking

So many challenges...so much to do...having so much fun.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Childhood Photos

I am taking Willowing's Art, Heart and Healing on line class. It is an AMAZING class. I'm behind but I will get there. I'm learning so much and thinking about so many new things.

One of the lessons was to find photos of yourself under the age of three. That was a bit of a challenge but I finally came up with these.
the first one is with my dad. Don't you love the hat? I don't have any idea where we were when this was taken.

This one is with my cousin Ron. We were at our grandparents in Montezuma, Kansas. Montezuma was and is a tiny town. Grandad was the one and only barber. There was a corner market, a drug store and the ever present grain elevator. It is a few miles from Dodge City. How simple life was then. An old can and some sand or dirt and we were happy. There are other pictures taken at the same time with some of the older cousins playing marbles.

This was obviously Easter. That's my sister with me. She looks concerned. She told me that I was really
sick that day and she felt really sorry for me. I actually remember that little coat. It was turquoise
and had a rhinestone button at the top. I wonder why I had my little gloved hands held out as if begging for "some more, please."

I was a sad, withdrawn child. Actually I don't have many memories. Willowing asked us to think about our dreams for the child that was you. I wish for her a happy life, full of fond memories, love and support.

What childhood photos would you like to share with us? What memories are associated with them? Do you remember the clothing you had on or the toys you were playing with? Leave a link in your comment, I would love to visit your small selves and I'm sure other readers would too.

(I'll post my spread for the class when I finish it.) 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Inspiration November

Have you read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford? I read it last winter for my book discussion group and when I put it down I told myself I was going to study it as a way to better my own writing. It is melodic, it is lyrical and as he described it "a really simple love story." The kind of story many of us dream of writing. With one thing and another I haven't picked it up since; until I went to hear him speak at the Phoenix Public Library today.

We laughed we almost cried and we were inspired. Jamie said he was a graphic designer and when he got home he would write which he considered playing in the sandbox. After Hotel became a best seller he was able to make writing his day job and thus plays in his sandbox every day. He was lucky as many would say but he also worked hard, did months of research and more months of writing and editing. Mostly the sense I got from him is he wrote from his heart...and that is what came through the story and touched so many readers around the world.

When I visited Seattle this spring I made a quick visit to the Panama Hotel where the story begins. It is now a tea shop on the edge of Chinatown. A place of creaking floorboards, vintage photos and the remains of a bygone era.

Writing is something many of us have to do. Whether it is jotting in a journal, morning pages, words and sentences here and there or the commitment to write a novel about something we feel passionate about... we have to write. I write every day. I have to put pen to paper. In the past couple of years I've gone past words to visual journals and mixed-media art. The most important thing I have learned is that you just have to do it.

Sometimes it isn't easy to stay inspired so I push myself to stay in tune to the world. This blog has opened my eyes to so many things...I see beauty all around me because I'm watching for that little gem I can pass on. I write every day and I try to do art every day. I don't always succeed so I set up challenges or find them in BlogLand.

For years I was part of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I've decided not to do that this year. But I have joined Tammy over at Daisy Yellow who is doing NaNoJouMo and will be inspiring us with one word a day to get us journaling. The second challenge is from Leah at Creative Every Day. This challenge is to make a piece of art every day. A postcard, a tag, a journal page, a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

November is a wonderful month. Full of thanksgiving, fall colors, family and inspiration. Where will you find your inspiration? Come join me in Inspiration November.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Thrilling Ride

Wow. I can't believe the week I'm having. It has me all in a flutter. To tell you about it I have to back up a few months:

Last spring my friend, Kelly, helped me set up my etsy shop. I go the name I wanted and then set about getting things ready to put in it; feeling a little scared and worried the whole time. Nothing was good enough but Finally on Sunday I took the big step and listed a Remains of the Day style journal. I have three more in the construction phase. I want to do other things and have a big variety of things but the first BIG step has been taken. Please take a look at my etsy shop. I still have a lot to do for the "storefront" and such but it's there. Thank you Kelly. Thank you Sketchbook group for your support, too.

Monday I learned I won a goodie bag from Briana for being the first one to post a comment. When I wrote to thank her I mentioned my etsy shop and later she posted a blog post titled: Rita A. is an Artist.
Woohoo. Can you imagine how that confirmation makes me feel. Big hugs for Briana.

I'm becoming more and more interested in fiber arts along with my mixed-media. So imagine my amazement a special workshop from Shelagh Folgate. She has an upcoming course, The Smashees-An Eight Month Textile Course, that I hope I can sign up for eventually. Thank you Shelagh.

Yesterday I arrived early at the Writers Inspiration Group meeting. As my friends and fellow writers arrived they commented on the portrait I posted a few days ago. One of them had even drawn a face based on my lady. Isn't it said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery?

It is so wonderful and heart-filling to be receiving so much recognition and affirmation from my friends both here and through BlogLand. I am nearly speechless.

Thank You Everyone.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Halloween

Here's my Maggie in her cowgirl outfit. Ain't she purdy?

I think just about everybody has Halloween memories. The great or not-so-great costumes, trick-or-treating and classroom parties. I don't remember most of my costumes. I have a picture (somewhere) of me in a store-bought princess costume and I remember being a cowgirl one year (in the outfit in my banner) but that's all I remember. When I wore the cowgirl outfit one man asked me to do a trick...I did a quick draw with my pistol. What else? That would be scary these days. How sad is that?

Mom always made popcorn balls. It was an all-day event and I loved them. All the kids got them. Now you can't hand them out or if somebody did they would just be thrown out. Sad. We carved pumpkins but we were poor and I seem to remember Mom not wanting to carve them because if we just drew on them they could still be used for pie. I guess some years were better than others. We even made caramel apples a few times. Just smelling them takes me back to those days.
Halloween was fun and kind of scary.

Most of all I remember the candy. Not necessarily the Halloween candy but the wax lips, the candy cigarettes, Black Cows, Red Hots, wax bottles, Pixy Stix, Sugar Daddys and Fireballs. Oh my. Most of those things make my teeth hurt just thinking about them. Grandma always had butterscotch discs or lemon drops. I still remember that special candy dish.

Check out this candy store where you can see some of the candies popular by decade. It is amazing how many of these are still around. I was surprised to see Almond Joy came out in the '40s. That was too take for my younger years but I love them now. (My favorite candy is anything by Reese's.)

I'm sure there are many candies I've forgotten just as I've forgotten those Halloween costumes. What were some of your favorites? Are they still around? What memories do these candies conjure up?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Elvis Presley Flaming Star

Gotta love it. Elvis as a cowboy. Thanks to my friend, Richard,
for posting this on Facebook.

Blog Hop, Willowing, Faces

Yes, I've been absent for a few days but I've been oh so busy doing good things.

I finished visiting all the blogs on the Blog Hop. Yes, all 483 blogs. Many of them I signed up for. They are all amazing. The most interesting part is I learned a lot about me. In looking at all those blogs I started noticing all the things that spoke to me, things I wanted to try, people I wanted to meet and places I wanted to go. Some of the blogs spoke to me in words and others in photographs, art, and design. I've always known I'm drawn to old, shabby, tattered things. I love working with paper and fabric. I didn't realize how much I love watercolors and sketching. This seems to be what I'm drawn to most at this time. So, without further ado, I'm putting together a watercolor kit and plan on doing more with that medium.

Second I started the wonderfully witty Willowing art course. It's free and it has taken over Blog Land.
The first lesson was to do a portrait as part of a journal spread. I did that and then I did a second portrait as practice partly because I wanted to use a better paper than is in my journal. Here's the results of the second go 'round:
I can see a lot of problems with her but I can also see that I learned a lot. I didn't have many of the colors she suggested so I have put in an order to Dick Blick for some new Caran d' Ache Neocolor II watersoluble wax crayons. These have become my favorite medium so more colors is a good thing.

Those of you in the class will see I had a terrible time with the brayer effect. I think my paint is drying out a bit. I didn't do as many layers on this one as Tam does on her video. I just want to get the techniques down. 

Practice makes perfect.

I also spent a lot of time yesterday working on a Remains of the Day style journal (Mary Ann Moss.) I love, love, love these journals and I hope to present them in my etsy shop. I'm determined to get this going before the end of the year.

What have you learned about yourself this week? Where are you going with your art, writing, crafting, homemaking? If you put it down in a comment here it will help you get going. Putting it in writing always works that way.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Bit of Catching Up

It has been a busy, crazy week.

I received so many comments and questions about Clare's little paintings I asked her to share with us how she did them. Here's her answer:

They are actually photographs that I took around Cape Cod. They were then printed on matte photo paper on my home printer and sprayed with "Krylon" Preserve It! After they dried I used two different tip size gold pens to draw in highlights. Terribly simple but infused with lots of love for the subject matter. Many Blissings, Clare

Thank you, Clare. You can see more of her work here.
Five years ago my friend, Cindi, and I started the Writers Inspiration Group at a local Barnes & Noble. The group is based on the book Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. We get together every Tuesday afternoon and write, share and write some more. The whole concept is to give the group a prompt to write from and they write for about ten minutes. Then we share (if we want,) no pressure, no judging. The group started out slow and grew and grew and grew.

 Here's our celebration. Lots of laughter, food, and friendship. As you can see... we are MUCH more than a writing group.

 We were also celebrating the first visit of our newest WIG member...little Zoe. This is Cindi enjoying the baby.

And last of all it was my birthday.

Cindi asked each of us to write about a special WIG memory and then we all shared. Funny and sad stories, each writer's special interest, special outings and get togethers, members who've come and gone. The list is endless but not the caring within this diverse group of wonderful men and women (and baby.)

Thank you, Cindi. Thank you, WIGglers. Thank you world.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Generations, Nellie Keith Martin

These two pictures have me thinking about generations. How each one affects the next. And the younger ones affect the ones that came before. This is me with my great grandmother Nellie. I remember her smell, her feel, and her kindness. She was loved by the entire family.

She was born in Illinois and travelled West in a covered wagon. They settled in some dugouts in Southwestern Kansas. You can still see the shape of the dugouts in the side of "Keith Canyon." They later moved to Fowler where Nellie's father built the "Keith House." It is still standing as far as I know.

This photo was taken in Montezuma, near Dodge City Kansas; thus the Dodge City paper in her lap.

The next photo is Nellie with most of her great
grandchildren. That's my sister up upper left
corner and me in the lower right corner.
One child is missing and three more were born after this photo.
Nellie only had one child and still got a good flock of

All of these children now have children, some of those have children, and there is even one in the next generation. Kind of mind-boggling.

And that makes me think I just have to post this wonderful picture of that newest generation.

I leave you with this bad hair day.
Post your stories or include a link to your stories so we can all enjoy your generations.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Emergency Room

Friday night about 10:00 Doug came dragging in from his mountain bike ride out into the desert. He had hit a rut and crashed. He was in pain but decided to head to bed. About 3:00 I heard him moaning and groaning and realized this wasn't just bumps and bruises. I told him to go get in the car while I got dressed and took him to the emergency room.

He has a broken rib, sprained thumb, he banged his head but had on a helmet and some nasty scrapes, cuts and bruises. So he will be out of work for about eight weeks. He does commercial refrigeration and can't climb 40 foot vertical ladders, carry tools, or any other the other things required for his trade. We do have short term disability which will help but it is going to be a LONG eight weeks.

You see he did this just over a year ago. (Anybody want a really nice mountain bike?) After the first few days he started driving me insane. He comes in every few minutes to ask what I'm doing, what we are having for dinner, do I think the world will ever be a better place.... well, not quite, but you get the idea.

So everybody please, keep me in mind with sanity thoughts and him in mind with healing thoughts.

Just in time I received my matchbox swap from Clare of the Yahoo Sketchbook Group. We each decorated a kitchen size matchbox and filled it will goodies that go with our theme: the sea. These are the wonderful little paintings she included. They are only 1 3/4 by 2 1/2 inch.

Aren't these wonderful little peaceful scenes? I love them and I have a feeling I will be putting them to good use as calming scenes the next few weeks. Thank you, Clare.
Peace and Serenity To All.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Treat

It's been a long day. I was determined to get some of the things off my To Do list which has gotten out of control. I do that a lot. I want to try every new thing out there. I want to be involved in everything. I want to join in everything. It just doesn't work. But I try....

My biggest goal today was to get my monthly article submitted to the Tombstone Times. The editor is in England taking care of her daughter who has some health issues. I wanted to be early this month and next week is packed full. So, I worked and wrote and edited and researched and it's done and off to England.

My treat to myself was to spend some time with art this evening. I'm excited about the No Frills Prompts at Daisy Yellow. She is giving us simple prompts to do art with, or write with, and it seems to be just what I need to get back into the swing of art journaling.

I've been wanting to try more watercolors but ended up using my Derwent Inktense pencils to do a "painting" of the photo posted with the prompt "Perspective." I loved the rustic fence. It didn't go well but here it is. Hey, if I'm going to do the work and commit to the prompts I may as well go all the way. Right?

My thoughts on this page... I tend to work in colors that are way too dark. The aspen tree should have been brought down below the Perspective. I shouldn't have done that in a dark area and just added it to the background directly.

What I do like: The thoughts that came up from thinking about the word. The whispy dark lines that signify changes in the foliage. The white paint pen.

Thanks, Tammy, for the prompts and for helping me get a page done in my much neglected art journal.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Won: In More Ways Than One

 It's fun to roam through Blogland and see what people are doing with their art and lives, read the how-tos, and join in the challenges. Last week I won a tag at Creative Carmelina. Isn't that cool?

Underneath you can see that even the envelope is made from a magazine page with artwork added. The stamp is Canadian. 

Thank you, Carmelina, for the tag, the envelope and all the inspiration and kind words you have sent my way.

I had already planned on doing a post today about the tag and envelope. Carmelina's blog is one of the ones I read every day. so imagine my surprise when, today, her post was a jolt from the past. It was almost spooky to see a doll from my childhood in a painting she had worked on long ago. Here's  a close-up of the painting (with her permission):

It looks like my Terri Lee doll. She had the big dark eyes and brown hair. My doll disappeared over the years but when we went to Colorado last spring we came home with my sister's.
Now I can see the eyes are different and Betty's has a different colored wig but when I first saw the painting it was amazing. Like stepping back in time. Carmelina isn't sure if she's going to finish the painting or what but I'm sure glad she posted it because it was wonderful to see.

I think I have a picture of my sister with this doll. I'll have to hunt that up. In the meantime, I'm drawn again to that Terri Lee face. There are all kinds of Web Sites about these dolls. Take a look around. It's amazing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Memorable Moments

Sometimes ideas for Tuesdays With Rita come really easy. Other times I have to look a bit. That usually means pulling down one of the many boxes of photos and going through until I find something that I think will strike a chord with other memory writers.

Usually the box is old family photos. When I have time I try to make a journal spread from copies of these. This book will eventually go to my grandsons.

Today the box I grabbed was newer stuff and I immediately came up with "Memorable Moments."

I've only hinted here about my other life in the Old West. I've spent many years as a researcher, author, writer, and event planner. We've fallen out of it for a couple of years but are slowly getting back in to the swing of things.

Here's a photo of Doug and I in our casual garb. The jacket belonged to my sister and is one of  my favorite possessions. I wear it every chance I get.

 The next photo is in our Sunday-go-to-meetin's. This was before I got my big hat but the black dress is a joy to wear. Doesn't Doug look great? It isn't quite a frock coat but it will do. (I have a thing for men in black suits and frock coats.) Both of these events were in Tombstone, Arizona.
 After a few years of just being an assistant at these events I had my first book published, O.K. Corral Postscript: The Death of Ike Clanton. It has sold well but is now out-of-print. One of the fun things that came from it was being interviewed for a documentary about Tombstone and what happened to the various characters that lived there. Even though the documentary never went anywhere it was quite an experience being filmed like that.
And last, but certainly not least, is my good friend, Terry "Ike" Clanton. Terry is a distant cousin and the spittin' image of the "original" Ike Clanton. Here we are at a book signing. You can see my book about his notorious relative on the table along with another booklet I did on Tombstone.

I talked to Terry yesterday. We are making plans to go to Clanton Days in November. We missed last year and can't wait to see our friends and join in the festivities.

What are some of your memorable moments?