Tattered Past

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Follow Up On Crayons

Hello All,
I just had to add a bit about the crayons.

I am a co-founder of the Writers Inspiration Group which meets every Tuesday. We take turns providing writing prompts to the group. After the prompt is given we write for about 10 minutes. Then we go around and read, or pass. We don't critique; we just share. We are almost to our Fourth Anniversary.

Today I took in my pile of back-to-school supplies including 6 boxes of crayons. I also had some coloring pages I had printed off the Internet. I told the group about sniffing crayons and then let them color for awhile. Then we wrote about our back-to-school memories.

Picture 15 adults in a corner of the bookstore sniffing crayons and then quietly coloring. One of the men asked me what to do with it when we finish and I told him to take it home and put it on his fridge.

Here's my Mrs. Duck.
She came from Free Coloring Pages. (Thank you.)

Many in the group commented on how relaxing it was to color. They're right. Coloring is great for stress and will all the back-to-school sales so cheap. So get to coloring.

Now excuse me, I have to go put my picture on the fridge.

Tuesdays With Rita: Back-to-School

This is my favorite time of year: Back-To-School. As summer progresses I start watching for the big back-to-school sections in the stores. Target is my favorite. Then when the time is right...after the displays are all up and just before the kids start coming...I have at it. Here's one of my hauls this year... and yes I do usually do it more than once.

My most favorite part of the whole things is CRAYONS.

The smell of crayons. Reaching back in to my childhood with crayons. Making art with crayons.

Just the last few days the Yahoo Group "Soul Journaling" was discussing back-to-school. some look forward to the paste (and some were past eaters) but many of us loved and still look forward to the smell of crayons.

Awhile back I worked in a round robin journal with the theme of "simple pleasures."
It was so much fun. The bird and flowers are from coloring book pages found on line.
Take a break today. Go visit the back to school section and buy a box of crayons (or anything else that catches your eye) and enjoy a moment of child's play.

Then tell us your favorite back-to-school story.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thoughtful Day

It has been an unusual day. Cloudy and cooler, kind of depressing. I always run errands on Friday...
post office, bank, etc.

As I was leaving the post office I saw a sign for an estate sale and went around the block to see what it was all about. The neighborhood is from the late seventies and nice homes. The sale was in the whole house which was for sale. I roamed around and did find a few things but what I found the most was a wish that I had known the lady who lived there.

There were lots of serving dishes and lovely candles and other things that showed the lady loved to entertain. There was a book on writing tips, lots of classics and poetry by Billy Collins. There were some outside toys that seemed to belong to a young grandchild or two. She had lovely linens, silver, and baskets. I found a calligraphy set, a Barbara Streisand cd, some books, and a basket. As I was leaving some people were loading up a table and chairs and the apparent relative commented that there had been many Thanksgiving dinners at that table. What a memory. 

I don't usually go to estate sales. They seem sad and voyeuristic. I felt that way today but at the same time I feel like I have a memory of a person I never knew. A strange feeling. I don't know this lady's name but I will think of her every time I use the basket or read a poem. The woman who shared a lot of my interests.

On a lighter note...before I went to Washington I took part in a swap with the Remains of the Day group. We were each to send 11 baggies/packets of ephemera and items to be used in ROD style journals. Mine arrived today. What fun.

I spread everything out on the floor and started sorting through every item. So many wonderful things and packaged in fun ways. Isn't this a wonderful mass of items? There was even a flier from Graceland. Woohoo. I am an Elvis fan from way back. There are old letters, fabric flowers, stickers, sewn goodies, buttons, photos and post cards. Every item is a treasure. Thank you, ROD friends.

So a strange day with lots of inspiration.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Over at her blog Trudi Sissions has introduced many of us to the Holocaust Museum's project to gather 1.5 million handmade butterflies for their museum. Each butterfly represents one child who died in the holocaust.

I can't even comprehend that number.

The project is based on a poem written by a 23 year old who died in Aushchwitz on Sept. 29, 1944.
The poem is:

I Never Saw Another Butterfly

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing,
against a white stone...

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly 'way up high.
It went away I'm sure
because it wished
to kiss the world good-bye.

For seven weeks I've lived in here
Penned up inside this ghetto.
but I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.

Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live in here, in the ghetto.

Written by Pavel Friedman, June 4, 1942

Trudi has set up a way for people to send the butterflies through her. Or you can send them directly to the museum. All the information is on her link above or at the Holocaust Museum Website.

There are even teacher resources. So, please, spread the word;
And make a butterfly to remember a child.


Yesterday afternoon I was meeting with my Writers Inspiration Group at a local bookstore. We meet every Tuesday, rain or shine, holiday or heat day. The group is getting ready to celebrate its fifth birthday. whew.

As we sat writing and sharing; the monsoon blew in. Attention quickly went from what was happening in the group to what was happening outside the floor-to-ceiling windows that line the alcove where we meet. The rain fell. The wind blew. They both strengthened. Suddenly we couldn't even see across the courtyard. Branches fell from the palo verde tree just outside the window.

The meeting ended and some braved the downpour while others stayed to wait it out.

As with most of these storms it passed rather quickly and I was able to safely drive home amazed at the downed trees and branches along the road. When I arrived I grabbed my dog and my camera and went out to enjoy the cooler weather brought on by the onslaught of nature. The clouds were massive and I knew we would have a wonderful sunset... but that was an hour or so away so I went in to read my mail and one thing lead to another and I missed most of the sunset. I did manage to snap this amazing photo looking out from our patio to the South. I can only imagine what it had been like a short time before. To the West most of the sunset was behind the houses and I didn't get any good pictures.

Another lesson is how we spend too much time at the computer or tied up in our busy lives and miss the beauty all around us. Next time I'm going to jump in my car and go find a place in the desert to watch the sunset. I promise to share the photos.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Memories, Bee Tree

It feels good to be back on my schedule. I have had a hard time keeping up with what day it was for the past four weeks...because I didn't have my schedule to relate to.

For about 20 years I have had lunch with my friend Janna on Tuesday. I think this is the longest we have ever gone without meeting. I can't wait to see her today and there are many adventures to share.

My mind has been going back to moments with the boys. Those long walks were full of ideas. I think they will always remember the "bee tree". A very large, very beautiful tree that buzzed with bees. As soon as we got near it they would start shushing, walk on tippy toes, and all scrunched down so as not to disturb the bees. We walked under that tree many times and never had a problem. Here's some photos of the "bee tree"

The tree grew up wrapped around a telephone pole and now reaches above the lines. Actually, I'm not sure it is even a tree, but I love it. I collected many fallen blooms to put in my journal. My son-in-law thought it might be some kind of honeysuckle. I don't care.
It is our "bee tree."

Do you have a "bee tree" memory in your life?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Inspiration from Carmen Torbus

Carmen Torbus has been reading my mind (and I'm guessing many of yours.) I have found a lot of inspiration from Carmen's blog. She always seems to be in tune to what is going on. Please go check out her blog. You will be amazed.

 Here are her goals for today:

Today, I'm simplifying and streamlining my processes.

Today, I'm adding new things and taking away others.

Today, I'm setting working hours.

Today, I'm scheduling planning meetings.

Today, I'm visualizing productivity.

Today, I'm taking action steps to reduce procrastination and distraction.

Today, I'm introducing new services to help you do the same.

Today, I'm saying yes to what my time is worth and no to poor time management.

I do have a business so I can apply all of these. If you don't I'm sure you could put in different words.
Thank you, Carmen.

What more can I say? I just need to do. How about you?

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I love this sign. It is over the entry to a garden art store. They have all kinds of cement animals, pots and statues. They weren't open when we were walking early but I still snapped the sign.
I then decided to spend the rest of that walk snapping signs. There are some interesting ones. I hope to study some of the history of Naches as it was a contemporary of Tombstone. Are there wild stories there too?

This sign was in an alley next to a large birdhouse. I'd like to meet the person who did this. Was it because they love their cats or was it someone who hated all the cats roaming around and was being cynical?

Fix that sign. Or not.

I see you.
And last but not least the cafe I always wanted to go in. Funny the baking must have been done earlier or the night before. I never smelled the bread smells but the bacon smell covered the entire downtown. (All two blocks of it.)

Try picking a theme (signs, flowers, broken things, funky cars) and take your camera exploring.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I woke up early today and made myself get up and out the door with Maggie. It isn't as nice to walk around the suburbs of Phoenix as it was the tiny town of Naches but I'm determined to keep up the habit.

Although Maggie is a great dog I really missed walking with the boys. They were always seeing new things, a petal, a leaf, a dandelion, a bird... all those wonderful things we, as adults, tend to miss. I kept reminding myself to tune in to what was around me. There wasn't a lot of fun yard art or sprinklers but I did find beautiful Bird of Paradise in bloom. Note to self: take the camera on all walks.

One day as the boys and I were walking along the canal/ditch we spotted a robin. We all stopped and watched as that robin worked and worked at something in the grass. Pretty soon he pulled up a big, fat juicy worm and started across the walkway. I tried to steal forward and get a photo but he was too fast. I wasn't sure if he was protecting himself or that worm but he was gone in a flash. Here's the picture I did get. The robin is that little spot to the left of the tree.

And cropped and enlarged which I just learned how to do. YIPPEE.

See the worm? That was his treasure for the day. My memories are mine.
Have a great day...and take your camera.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Traveling Projects

I spent today "resting." You know how that goes, I'm sure. You know you need to rest and relax from a trip but the kitchen table is covered in mail, the bags are piled in the living room, emails and blogs need to be read, piles sorted and so on and so on.

I did relax a bit and sorted through my yard sale goodies from the trip including a big department store bag full of fabric remnants from a long-time quilter. There are some great pieces bits. I enjoyed just going through them and thinking about what future projects I might do with them.

Putting together projects has become a part of packing for any trip and this one required some real thought.

Luckily my Yahoo Sketchbook Group announced a workshop over at Artists of the Round Table and I had to go check it out. For my non-artist readers there are hundreds if not thousands of groups and Web sites geared to every kind of artist imaginable. Many of them are just geared to being creative. How wonderful is that?

Anyway, this workshop is based on the book "Drawing Lab: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun, For Mixed-Media Artists" by Carla Sonheim. I was hooked as soon as I saw the book and it turned out it was perfect for my travels because it consists of a lot of little projects. I packed a plastic container with many of the supplies and winged it when I had to. I did make an emergency trip to a craft store to get more watercolor paper but mostly I used what I had with me which stretched my creativity a bit more.

One of my favorites was paint blots. We were told to put a dollop of paint on a piece of watercolor paper and smooched it around with an old gift card. After the paint dried we were to take a marker and outline what we saw. Jessica says I was just thinking about Maggie but this dog jumped off the page at me.

Another lab was to combine drawing and collage.
I had so much fun with this one. I didn't do as much drawing as I planned but I'm happy with it. I had an old fashion magazine in my bag and I added watersoluble crayons, watercolor pencils and markers.


If you are having trouble accepting your own inner artist or are in a rut I highly recommend this book. It is full of fun projects that I know I will do over and over.

By-the-way, I drove 3,661 miles. My travel journal and art supplies tucked safely away to bring out whenever I got a chance. When the boys were napping or had gone to bed, in my hotel rooms, and sitting in the front yard. I'm so glad art has become such a big part of my life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thoughts On Returning Home

I'm home, safe and sound. Doug is still at work so I've been trying to refocus on just being here. There have been a lot of changes in the past four weeks. We've been working on our house over the past couple of years and he made some major breakthroughs while I was gone. The living room is painted and the flooring in the living room and kitchen put down. It looks so different. I think I'm going to have to live with this for awhile.

I had a long drive today. Made a couple of quick stops but pretty much stayed on the road. I hit a major thunder storm near Flagstaff and had to pull over for awhile.

About 30 miles from home there was a major accident. An eighteen wheeler and a car. They were just loading people on the stretchers when I got there. I realized that was the only accident I saw the entire time I was on the road. How amazing is that. I pray those people are okay.

No pictures tonight. Just wanted to check in. I'll be back in full swing soon. Thanks to all for the wishes for my safe journey. They worked well.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back Where I Started...almost

Here I am back at the Bryce Canyon Motel in Panguitch, Utah. This is where I stayed my first night on the road... four weeks ago today. I am finding that little fact mind-boggling. That I have travelled so far and done so much in just four weeks.

I planned a little better and hit Salt Lake City mid-day so the traffic wasn't near as bad. My treat to myself was to stop at Young Living Farms South of SLC and pick some lavender. Just imagine my DISMAY when I got there and they had harvested the fields and there was no lavender to pick. So I roamed around the gift shop again and bought a little bag of lavender potpourri. Better than nothing.

I thought about stopping at Circleville and staying at the Butch Cassidy Motel but since I was familiar with this place I decided to just keep going. Now I Know I can make it on home tomorrow.

I was greeted by two dogs in the lobby and proceeded to tell them all about my Maggie and that I can't wait to get home and hold her tomorrow. Doug said she is still looking for me. sniff sniff

I still have a lot of photos to download and sort. Here's one from the birthday party for Trent our little "Hope" baby. He turns one next week. He was born three months premature so he really is a miracle and full of hope and love and smiles.

We had a little party at the park across the street from Jessica's and he had a great time with his cupcake. None got in his mouth but he sure enjoyed the textures.

Happy birthday, Trent, from Great Great Auntie Rita.

hmmm. I suddenly feel very old and need to go lie down (not to mention the 10 hours on the road.)

Have a great evening and I can't wait to restart Tuesdays With Rita tomorrow.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bliss, Idaho

Hello All,
I am on my way home. I left Jessica's at 7:00 this morning and just checked in to the Amber Inn in Bliss, Idaho. Seemed appropriate somehow.

I have been following the Oregon Trail on-and-off most of the day. I crossed the Snake River just a few miles back. It it so big. I keep trying to imagine what it as like to travel mostly on foot or in a wagon with everything I own in that very wagon and depending on guides when I can't tell one bluff from another.

Some of these bluffs are so big I try to picture urging oxen up and then dragging the brake as we go down so their load won't run right over them.
Here's a picture I took at one of the many rest stops along the way.

It was hard saying goodbye to Jessica, Matt and the boys this morning. I packed all but the essentials yesterday so I could make a quick exit this morning. I don't handle long goodbyes very well. I was out the door at 7:00 a.m.

Tomorrow I have to go through Salt Lake City again but I planned it so I will go through in the morning so I will be a bit fresher. I'm already tired of orange barrels and I know I have many more miles of them to pass before I get home. I guess I shouldn't complain, I'm in a car with air conditioning and cold drinks and the highway is more-or-less smooth and crosses the rivers easily.

Have a great evening. I will check in again tomorrow.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Packing Up and Heading Home

Taking a quick break at Border's. I was hoping to do my business taxes on line but the Web site isn't working. Figures. But it is giving me a chance to let you all know the journey home will start tomorrow.

Jessica is doing much better and I am anxious to get home. It's been almost 5 weeks. The longest I have ever been away from home. Liz and baby Trent came over from Seattle for two days and we celebrated his first birthday. I don't have the photos downloaded yet.
We took our walk this morning but only found one yard sale and it didn't have any toys for the boys. Jessica has promised she will start taking them around after I am gone. I did get a little basket of misc. sewing notions.

I have really found a lot of cool stuff for collage and mixed-media art since I've been up here. I'll have to get it all together and take a picture when I get home. Some really cool loot. lol

As I travel home I will try to check in daily. Just never know if I'm going to be able to find WiFi. I did really well coming up. Three or four days on the road. I'm not going to push it.

Keep on checking in and thank you all for your comments. They make a difference.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yard Art and Flowers

I am enjoying my morning walks with the boys. Most of you don't know, but I am NOT a morning person and getting up with these rambuctious boys every morning around 5:30 has been the biggest challenge of all. I decided quickly that a walk was the best way to wear them down a bit and get us out of the house so Jessica could rest.

The sleepy town of Naches, Washington is the perfect place to walk.
I have been especially enjoying the yard art and flowers. This mushroom was apparently made by putting broken glass in the bottom of bowl and adding cement. I didn't get down and look at the stem but that might have been done in a plastic cup and added at the time or later. Such a simple thing, but so delightful.
The house with the frogs is a yard art paradise with bird houses, feeders, mushrooms, rocks and all sorts of hanging things. I love it.

And of course the trees, the green grass and the flowers. Every yard has a wide array of flowers and I've realized how little I know about them. I can name a few, but I'm never sure if the name that comes to mind is correct. Sure doesn't keep me from enjoying them.

I plan on heading home next Tuesday. This is the longest I have been away from my husband, my home and my dog. I'm anxious to get back. Jessica is doing well and I think by then she will be able to handle things. The boys start school on the 25th. Alex will be in all day kindergarten. Hard to believe.
Tomorrow the little "hope" baby is coming to visit. They live in Seattle. We will be celebrating his first bithday. It is hard to believe he is almost one. He was three months early and it is a miracle he is even here. He is doing great and is an absolute love.
The treasures of the world are everywhere.
Have a great week, Friends.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Checking In

I think the boys and I walked two miles today; and we found a yard sale. Jessica is not too happy with me turning Alexander in to a yard sale fanatic. lol The boys take some coins out of their banks and they have to pay for what they find; with my permission. Today they found beany babies for .25. Remember when those were all the rage and many of us rushed out to get the latest beanie and some people even sued others over beanies? amazing. I have to admit I have a few beanies but I never went that far!!

I found a goldmine today, lots of old patterns, some beads, four old lace collars, and an old gold calling card holder which I'm going to use for my art cards... when I get them done. They will show my blog and my etsy shop, when I have some things ready to go in it.

Jessica is doing much better so when I got the boys down for their naps I felt comfortable coming in to town for a couple of hours. I'm slowly doing less and less. However, I still won't be leaving this week. The A/C decided to go out on my car so Matt will be replacing that on his days off: Tues. and Wed. So I hope to leave a week from Monday so he will be home the next two days to help her out.

I've been doing lots of art, showing the boys how to make things and walking.

These are the paper dolls I made for the Artists of the Round Table group Creative Drawing Lab. I am really enjoying this book and how it is stretching my skills and imagination. My favorite so far was drawing a town in Dr. Seuss style. Which I can't seem to get copied over here so that will have to wait for another day.

Thank you for all the comments. I look forward to my limited computer time and hearing from my Blogland Friends.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hello Bloggers,
I have been so out of touch. It was a week before I could get to a WiFi location and then when I opened up my laptop it was completely black. The lights would come on but nothing on the monitor. So I found a Best Buy and they checked it and said it was the motherboard. It costs too much to make repairs and the computer was about 7 years old so I just bought a new one. And so here I am.

Jessica is improving but I think I will be here at least another week and then a few days to get home. I'm enjoying the small town atmosphere and the weather. The boys and I take walks every morning. I'm guessing a mile or so. We find treasurers and I'm taking lots of pictures.
I will try to be in touch. I miss all my Internet friends, I miss my blog, and I miss my home. But I will be home in a couple of weeks.
Take care, one and all.