Tattered Past

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

Monday, May 31, 2010

Up In Colorado

Hi Friends,
I'm sitting in a Borders in Greeley, Colorado home of the University of Northern Colorado. This is a lovely town with green hills, huge trees and lots of neat old houses. I've taken a lot of pictures but I left my camera in the trunk so you will have to wait to see them.

On the way up I sewed on little pillows Teesha Moore style and started decorating my flags for the Sarah Whitmire Out of the Book class. I've also been working in my travel journal and picking up lots of brochures and postcards. We stayed the first night in Albuquerque, New Mexico and then came on up to the Brighton, Colorado area.

We found a really cool museum of railroads and freight. The whole building is a scale railroad world from the logging camps, to the campers, to the towns, and the forest fires. Down to details and lots of funny little scenes. Doug and I enjoy finding unusual places and I think this one will remain one of our favorites. There is a large console where the men who have trains on display are routed through a message center and communicate what trains are on what tracks and if any emergency switches are needed. Check it out at http://www.gfsm.org/

It was truly amazing. So, since I don't think I will have internet connection tomorrow for Tuesdays With Rita here's your prompt a bit early. Can you guess what its going to be?

Tell us a memory that has to do with trains (large or small.)

Have a great week and I'll check in when I can.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Flat Stanley Ready To Go

I am in the final days of preparing for another trip. Doug and I leave Saturday for a roadtrip to Colorado. We will be staying with my brother-in-law. My great niece and her baby are flying in from Washington. (I get to hold the "Hope" baby again!)

I've been preparing backgrounds and putting odds and ends into another Moleskine sketchbook for my travel journal. Here's the page where Flat Stanley will reside. As the week goes along I'll add things to the background.

Other pages have paint, collage and stamped backgrounds just waiting for inspiration along the way. I love keeping this type of journal as I can add the bits and bobs that I find along with my thoughts,
sketches, and pictures. I love keeping track of the
"little memories" that are forgotten when the journey is over.

I'll be taking my laptop but I'm not sure I will be able to get to a place where I can connect. Just in case I can't connect until I return here's special wishes for all my friends: Stay Well, Stay Safe and Be Creative.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Hunting and Fishing

Did you ever go hunting or fishing as a child?

When I was small we fished A LOT. Mostly with my grandparents. Grandad would tie the old cane poles to the side of the car and we would head "down on Greene's." I never knew who Greene or Green was but he owned a lot of pasture land in southwestern Kansas. There were 20 plus gates we had to go through to get to the creek. Every time we came to a gate Grandad would get out open the old barbed wire gate. Get back in the car and drive through. Then get out and close the gate. It was quite a ritual. I remember sitting in the car and watching the prairie dogs as they watched us.

Finally we'd get to the creek and took those old cane poles down and stood or sat until we got a bite. I don't know if this picture was taken at Greene's but it looks just as I remember it. The lady towards the front was my Great Great Aunt Laura who I never met. The next lady was my great grandmother, Nellie. The kids are my uncles.

I remember one time Grandad was fishing a little ways down the creek and suddenly he let out a big whoop. We all went running to find he had caught a snapping turtle. I think my Mom made turtle soup. We'd also have frog legs and of course catfish. My Mom did most of the cleaning and cooking of our "mess of catfish."

Those fishing trips with Grandad are my fondest memories of him. What memories do you have to share?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spring in the Desert

I love this time of year. The desert is waking in all its colorful glory. The palo verde trees are sending their yellow confetti across the streets, the daisies are dancing in yards and my favorite, the giant saguaro cacti, are getting their crowns.

The saguaro is only found in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and northern Mexico. They can grow to be 40 to 50 feet tall and have as many as 25 arms. Each one of those arms develops its own crown of white flowers in the spring and red fruit in the summer. They can live to be over 200 years old.

The saguaro cactus is the Arizona state flower. It is a stately cactus and seeing them marching across the desert is something that shouldn't be missed. I often wonder what the early explorers and settlers thought as they came across these prickly "trees."

As our Arizona temperatures reach the triple digits it is wonderful to be able to look out and see nature's bounty. What special  bounty does your area have?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


The Yahoo Sketchbook Project group was formed when a group of visual artists signed up for the Sketchbook Project through ArtHouse Co-op (http://www.arthousecoop.com/) last year. We have formed friendships and a few have even met face-to-face.

We are constantly challenging each other with Round Robins, swaps and just ways to share ideas. Right now we are in the midst of a 30/30 challenge: 30 pieces of art finished in 30 days. Thus the logo on the sidebar.

These don't have to be huge pieces. Some are practicing sketching, others making their own tarot deck, some painting and others doing art journal pages. Some of us couldn't decide and are doing a variety of things. Yesterday I made a pile of simple tags to include with the Remains of the Day style journal pages I am making for swaps and, well, a few for myself.

I am also working in a handmade watercolor journal. The cover and another tag using old book pages are here.

The group shares Web sites and blogs they find inspiring. Techniques and ideas for future projects. Tips and tricks for solving problems. And Friendship.
When I really think about these friendships and others I've made over the years I wonder how it is that people I've never met face-to-face seem like old friends. This phenomenon constantly amazes me.

I guess we shouldn't question. Just accept that friends are friends and we can never have too many of them.

I want all of you to know I appreciate you, internet or face-to-face.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Childhood Performances

Were you ever in a performance when you were very small?

When I was little we lived two doors down from the Church of God in Kansas. My Great Uncle lived next door between the church and us, he was the minister. My mother was our Sunday School teacher.

I don't remember the occasion but Mom made the little plum blossom dresses from crepe paper. I distinctly remember how Mom fussed over every little bit of our costumes. I remember the feel and the crinkle of the dresses as we walked down the aisle to the front of the small church.

I wish I had asked Mom about this in later years and made a note of the exact occasion. Easter, May Day, first day of Spring? I just don't know. I'm not even sure how old I was but maybe 4 or 5. That's me on the right in front. I don't remember any of the girls now, either. I'm glad we at least have the photo.

Do you have memories of a performance?


Yesterday was the monthly meeting of the Phoenix Writers Club. Our speaker was Mike Chamberlin a local news anchor who is also a singer. He told us about his career, his new book and sang some songs.

One of them was one of my all-time favorite songs, "Over the Rainbow" which led to his story about interviewing two of the Munchkins who live here in the Valley. You can see the clip at http://singingtvguy.com/. It is wonderful.

Part of the story, which isn't in the clip, was he was driving Margaret from her house to the retirement home where Ruth lives. Suddenly it occurred to him, "I'm driving around with a Munchkin in my car. And her little feet don't even touch the floor."

Wow. Now Mike is a very special person and I'm honored to have met him. All his love of life and joy in what he does comes out in such a real way.

A little story of my own is I was at the ariZoni awards a few years ago. These awards are for Arizona Theater. It was a lot of fun. Margaret was the keynote speaker and what a joy it was to just see one of the Munchkins up on stage. But I also bumped into her in the bathroom. She just smiled in a pleasant way and went on as I stood there feeling embarrassed.

Phoenix Writers Club has introduced me to so many wonderful people and experiences. I have also made some great friends. The club president for the past six years was Mabel Leo, who I've mentioned before. She gave each of us who have helped her out during that time a pink rose and I was glad to have my camera along. Aren't we a great bunch?

I'm sure I will always remember listening to Mike on Saturday but putting the experience down and sharing it through my blog and my journal will keep the little things in my mind too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lift Your Eyes

The last couple of days have been down days for me. A bit under the weather and with the wind and the sometimes dark clouds I just kind of went a long with it.

Then I had to go out and water the trees. The sky to the East was a bit dark but in Arizona no matter how dark and threatening the clouds you still water...those clouds have a way of disappearing.

As I walked across the back yard I heard a bird fly over. I love birds. All kinds of birds. But that's another story.

As I looked up I saw the bright green of the eucalyptus tree against the bright blue and white of the sky. It was beautiful. I stood there awhile and then came in and got my camera so I could share it with my friends.

If I hadn't looked up I would have only seen the brown dirt, the dry grass and felt the heaviness of the distant dark clouds.

Instead I lifted my eyes to the sound of a bird's wings and the beauty lifted my spirits.

For just a moment step away from your computer. Go outside and look up. Let your spirits be lifted.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Phoenix Writers Club

I have been a member of the Phoenix Writers Club for about six years. All that time the president has been Mabel Leo. A wonderful spunky lady who "took on the Mob" by writing three books about Jack Durant a colorful Phoenix character.

Jack came to Arizona with known mob connections. He started a restaurant where people of all levels met to hash out business, political and personal deals. Just like Las Vegas; the secrets stayed in Durant's. To visit Durant's you enter through the kitchen which adds to the cloak and dagger charm. Inside you are greeted with a posh quiet and sophisticated decor. The food is excellent as is the service.

But, back to Mabel. Last month she stepped down as president of PWC and I made her mixed-media piece as a thank you. It is now on the club's Web site. Go take a look.
http://phoenixwritersclub.com/?page_id=334 and spend some time checking out the many talented people who make up this wonderful club. You can find information on Mabel's books there, too.

PWC was started 80+ years ago by a group of women who were indignent about being banned from the all male Phoenix Press Club. They began meeting in homes and later in meeting rooms of various restaurants. Many of the members have been published and have left their own mark in Phoenix history. The club is still growing and going strong. I'm proud to be the newsletter editor.

Those early women were an inspiration to all who have followed and the club continues to have a place in the writing community. (Men are allowed.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Look Mam No Hands

Tell us about a time you got hurt.

We all know the thing about "Look Ma, No Hands." Well, I learned to ride my bicycle with no hands but most of the time I rode steady with both hands on the "wheel."

One day I had gone up to the neighborhood store and was on my way back along the street I had to walk on to school. I can remember that street like the back of my hand. I had both hands on the handlebars and suddenly I hit a large rock and then the pavement. I had a very deep gash on the front of my shin. I cried my way home and since mom was at work I took care of it the best I could. I should have had stitches because I still have a deep scar.

I had a black eye once when a neighbor boy and I tried to run through a sprinkler at the same time and hit heads. Lots of bee stings and red ant bites. Luckily no broken bones and no trips to the emergency room. A rather dull childhood in that respect.

As I sat at a red light yesterday I watched a red ant wind its way through the weeds on the median. It brought back lots of memories of all those huge ant hills back in Kansas. That got me to thinking about childhood misshaps.

It's funny how little things lead to thoughts and then memories. The light turned green and I didn't write it down but luckily the memory stayed with me until I got home.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Remains of the Day, Shabby Journals

Whatever you call these journals they are wonderful. I learned how to do this through a class with Mary Ann Moss. Please go visit her blog and see what I'm talking about. http://dispatchfromla.typepad.com/dispatch_from_la/rotdoci.html

She has taken the artful blogging world by storm. The Yahoo group made up of students of the class just completed a swap: we sent in 11 pages based on the class and received 10 back (the lucky swap lady kept one.) Mine came today. The photo certainly doesn't show the wonderful textures, colors and fragments in this pile.

If you love the feel of old paper, collect bits of fabric and old lace, or just love thrift and antique stores you must give this a try. I'm "finishing" up my third journal. (I'm not sure they are ever "finished.")

This one is my inspiration journal and will contain all the little things I have received from other art journalers, copies from the Internet or books, tidbits from travels, and all the other bits that inspire my writing, art and life.

There is lots of space for writing and pockets for storing future treasures. Sadly, there isn't room for these wonderful swap pages to be sewn in to this journal.

But, HEY, I can make another one.

And another one....

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Collecting Hearts

I've always been attracted to hearts. I doodle them, I wear them on tee-shirts, I wear them on jewelry and they catch my eye everywhere I go.

On one of the walks I took with my grandson in Washington he pointed out a heart on the swingset at the park.

I snapped that heart as it seemed like a gift from him. He didn't know I collect hearts but something made him point that one out to me.

The other two hearts I found in Leavenworth. Why hearts there? Maybe they were reminding me to enjoy a special day with my daughter.

Hearts always remind me to sit back and take a breath. To notice the little things. To cherish all the beauties of the world and my family's love. I've become a better person since I became more aware of all the hearts in the world.

Take a moment this week to notice some small thing. Then come back and share it with me. Please.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Baby Stories

Tell us a story about when you were a baby.

I regret that I don't have more stories. Especially those that connect directly with the photos. Now I there isn't anybody to ask.

I know I was born in our small trailer and was very premature. My ten-year-old sister slept on the couch and the doctor put me in with her to keep me warm while he tended to Mother. Betty often said she couldn't believe there was anything so ugly. Then she'd smile.

My parents owned a small town cafe and most of my baby time was spent in the kitchen or on a table in the dining area. I love this picture with the old jukebox selector and the Rainbo Bread calendar.

When I was still very young the cafe caught on fire. My mother handed me through a barbed-wire fence to a friend. She always commented that she didn't understand how I didn't get hurt in the process. The trailer was saved when somebody hooked it up to a tractor and pulled it away. The cafe was a total loss.

Hard times for my parents but I survived and still love small town cafes, jukeboxes and bread. How about you?

My journal page is a combination of printouts, Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Artists' Crayons, gel medium, markers, Inktense pencils, stamps, distress ink pad, StazOn Ink pad and charcoal.