Tattered Past

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

Friday, April 30, 2010

You Give Me Wings

In my Yahoo Sketchbook group we are doing a round robin. Each month we get another member's art book with a theme, add our own artwork, then send it on to the next person.

The theme for the book I just finished was "You Give Me Wings" and for some reason "Let's Go Fly a Kite" from Mary Poppins popped into my head. I Googled for song lyrics and could even watch that scene from the movie. The lyrics fit the theme even more than I realized at first: "With tuppence for paper and strings/ you can have your own set of wings/ With your feet on the ground/ you're a bird in a flight/ with your fist holding tight/ to the string of your kite..."

So I made kites, lots of kites. Added them to the journal spread atop a sky of acrylic paints, rooftops in Inktense colored pencils, the words printed out and Mary's feet from a magazine and a happy, happy page was born.

I haven't flown a kite in a long time but I do try to play childlike everyday, in my art and in my heart. \

What are some childlike things you could do today?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesdays (...er Wednesday) With Rita:Occupations, Police

I guess I am still on vacation time as I completely zoned out about Tuesdays With Rita for my Yahoo Sketchbook group. At least I made it to my weekly lunch appointment with my friend, Janna, and to my Writers Inspiration Group.

So, this week's prompt is:

What was an unusual job a relative had?

I have to think of my mom. After Daddy left she went to work as a dispatcher for the Great Bend, Kansas police/fire departments. This was in the 1950s so her job was unusual for a woman too. She became Chief Dispatcher and was there for many years.

I loved to go by the office and see her and also sit on the old wooden bench in the lobby and talk to the officers as they came through. I was going to grow up to be a policewoman; just like my mom. That dream stayed with me into college when I began to realize I didn't have the temperament or inner/physical strengths for that job.

I still have the utmost respect for law enforcement and love to listen to friends and relatives who are in the field. My favorite TV show is "America's Most Wanted" and hope to someday shake John Walsh's hand.

Tell us about one of your relatives.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Antique Treasures

When I went walking with my grandsons we looked for treasures. Alex and I found three pennies some neat leaves and some funny bark.
Brendan and I found leaves and bark. They were excited about their treasures.

I was excited to go antiquing in Yakima, Washington. Things are so much cheaper there and there is a much better variety. I love it.

These are some of the things I found. I don't know why the baby shoes struck me but they were inexpensive and I will do something with them, maybe. The prisms I plan on making in to necklaces. The silverware I don't know. The needleholder is a real find and I plan on using it... as a needle holder. Not everything I find gets converted.

I also bought a pile of used stamps from all over the world and another stack of used envelopes from all over the world to use in my collage work. A letter from Argentina was still in the envelope. I could read bits but my Spanish isn't very good.

I love the feel of these papers, the old linens, and the little shoes. Even though they aren't from my history they bring back memories that are. Have you found little treasurers that spark memories for you?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Side Trip

While I was in Washington my daughter took me up to Leavenworth. The main part of town is centered around an area built to look like it is in the Alps. With the snow tipped mountains it is easy to imagine really being in Europe.

Leavenworth has a lush history going back to the P'squoso who came to the area to hunt, pick berries, and catch salmon in the Wenatchee River. Gold was discovered in 1860 and miners flocked to the area. Leavenworth was named in 1892 when the Great Northern Railway began construction. Timber drew hundreds and the town boasted the second largest sawmill in the state. In the late 1920s skiing became the mainstay for many years. The town then looked to its mountain surroundings for the idea of building the Bavarian town to draw tourists to the area.

It worked and now the town is a lovely escape to another world. We spent the day strolling in and out of the many shops, but the highlight to me was lunch at King Ludwig's Restaurant on Front Street. I like to try new things and was looking forward to an authentic meal.

I ordered jagerschnitzel with spatzle and rotkraut. (Please forgive that I don't know how to add the dots over the a's.) The description in the menu was a delicately seasoned and pan fried pork cutlet, topped with mushroom sauce and served with German pasta and red cabbage. I was in heaven and hope all my German ancestors were looking down with pride.

The accordionist, Frank Calapristi, was a great addition to the surroundings of wood, tapestries and old world charm.
As we were getting ready to head back to Yakima we stopped in the Bavarian Bakery to get an apple strudel. A great dessert to end a beautiful day in the mountains.

I will probably never make it to Europe but I appreciate the people who have brought the diversity of their own lands to this country. I could stop and look at the mountains, smell the bakery, feel the nip in the air and imagine what it was like for my families to leave their heritage behind.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day

Elizabeth Golden on her blog (www.thelastdoordownthe hall.blogspot.com) posted a lovely journal page about Earth Day and also challenged her readers to make some Earth Day resolutions.

One of hers is to plant a tree for each of her children. I love that. I'm going to plant trees for each of my grandchildren and my great great nephew for a total of 5 trees. Here in the desert that will make an extra big difference. So my goal is to go find low water trees to plant.

I also plan on using more found objects in my art and try to cut down on plastics and packaging by buying fresh.

To start I did a simple page with a quote from one of John Denver's songs, "Celebrate Earth Day, Every Day."

How will you carry on the challenge?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Flat Stanley Returns to Washington

A couple of years ago a member of my Writers Inspiration Group brought in the writing prompt of "Flat Stanley." I'd never heard of him before. But I was instantly entranced.

"Flat Stanley" is from a series of books started in 1964 by Jeff Brown. There are all kinds of Web sites including special literacy sites centered around these books. Stanley is flat, as in paper, and travels around the world solving problems. Just search for "Flat Stanley" for all kinds of fun things to do.

I immediately bought a book for my grandson, Alexander. Then another for myself and "Flat Stanley" started traveling with us, too. Last year as Doug and I were getting ready to go visit the boys I realized I couldn't find the original Flat Stanley from the book (a very nice encased copy) so I quickly drew my own and he joined us on our travels.

Well, I just returned from Washington last night with "Flat Stanley" safely tucked in my journal for this trip. The boys got a kick out of having their picture taken with him.

This has become a new tradition in our family. Thanks to Doris of my writer's group. What are some of your traditions? How can you start some new ones?

The photo is Alexander, age 5 1/2, and Brendan, age 3 1/2 and of course "Flat Stanley." Please stay tuned for more Washington adventures.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I flew in to Seattle a week ago and my great niece met me at the airport with our little "Hope" baby. He was born 3 months early and is now 7 months old and doing great. I have been dieing to hold him; a great great nephew that seems more like another grandson.

I got my wish. Trent is a loving little guy with a ready smile. Holding him made me think of his grandma, my niece who was my closest friend and soulmate. His greatgrandma, my sister. Our mother and grandmother. A long line of strong women who had hard lives and left us all too soon.

While in Seattle, we visited the Panama Hotel the basis for a book I read for my discussion group; "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" It was a story of love,loss and extreme life struggles.

When the Japanese were sent to the concentration camps during the War many families put their belongings in the basement of the hotel expecting they would be returning soon. Some never returned and their belongings are still down there covered in dust and able to for view by the public through the lobby of the hotel which is now a tea house. I think about all those families, separated from all they owned, their homes and each other.Their culture and heritage packed into dark corners. There were fans, clothing, books, ornaments and photograph albums.

We all need those connections to the past. We also need to make sure we forge connections with the future. Pass on the stories of the past, the stories of your life, the heirlooms and the traditions and culture of your family and your heritage.

It takes effort to do this. It won't be good enough to leave bits of digital thoughts. Our descendants will need letters, journals, and photographs to FEEL the link to their own past. Start your mission to leave something tangible to all the little Trents of the world.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Travel Journal Memories

Last year when Doug and I went to Washington I worked on my first art journal style travel journal. Here's a page from that journal.

I started doing art journals a few months before and am still in love with this type of journaling. It allows me to work with all the mediums I enjoy using: acrylic paints, watercolor paints, charcoal pencils, markers, stamps, fibers, ephemera, photographs, collage... well just about anything I want to use.

A few days ago Doug asked me to make a journal just like that one during my trip this year, since he can't go. I was surprised and shocked. He always takes an interest in what I do and gives lots of positive feedback but asking this out of the blue was truly touching.

So I have my moleskine sketchbook all ready to go. I've packed scissors, glue sticks, stickers, watercolor pencils, paint brushes, tags, markers, pencils, and bits of ephemera to fill up the pages during the next two weeks. I will also be adding things I acquire along the way: fliers, pamphlets, receipts, leaves, candy wrappers... anything that catches my fancy. I will also have my grandsons add their own drawings and whatever else they think should be in there.

It will be a wonderful keepsake of this trip and I look forward to coming back home and sharing it with Doug. As I looked back on last years to find a page to share with this post I was surprised how many memories it brought back and those little snippits of our travels seem to catch the feel of the places we visited better than even the best photographs.

I will be sharing plenty of both with my blogland friends in the weeks to come. Just remember, you don't have to take a trip to enjoy the little things of life, step out your front door and see what you can find to add to your journal.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Apple Pie For Breakfast

If you are ever in Southeastern Arizona, especially Willcox, stop and see the Rex Allen and Marty Robbins museums. Then head back towards I-10 to Stout's Cider Mill. They have the most unbelievable pies.

Doug had to go down there for work and stopped by Stout's to pick up a pie. What a special treat. Their speciality pie takes 10 pounds of apples: per pie. This is the small one. Yummy. Apple pie for breakfast.

As for me, I've been busy getting ready for my trip to Washington. I leave on Tuesday. I'm going to take my notebook computer so I hope to keep up with all my on-line friends, and my blog, but last time I was up there I couldn't get a connection.

I will be in Olympia for two days and then head over to Yakima for two weeks. I'm taking my travel journal, a special shabby journal and my practice journal. I don't want any withdrawal symptoms while I'm up there. Not that I will have a whole lot of time with Alexander (age 5) and Brendan (age 3) to play with. I'll see the little "HOPE" baby in Olympia, he is now about 7 months old.

With so much to look forward to I find I am torn between excitement for the trip and seeing my loved ones; and leaving home, my hubby and my dog. I'm really a homebody at heart.

That makes me think of bittersweet things. I recently read "The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" for my book discussion group. I enjoyed the book and hope to visit the Panama Hotel, which it was based on, in Seattle. More excitement.

Think about some of your bittersweet memories and take time to write some of them down.