Tattered Past

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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's a Small World

I spent the day at the computer trying to tie up a bunch of loose ends. When I needed to get up and move I worked through boxes of stuff we emptied out to do the floors. I'm determined to make a decision on every item and NOT bring a lot of it back in.

Part of my problem is I have too many interests and am always going off in different directions. There's the genealogy, not only mine but clients from the business I started in 1990. Then there's the writing and research for books and articles on the Old West and Arizona. Then there's the miniatures I was addicted to for years and have moved away from but don't want to give up my houses. Let's see.. now there's the art journaling, painting, fiber arts, Remains of the Day style journals, Artist Trading Cards, ephemera and scrapbook supplies. In between there's boxes of family photos, piles of paper, magazines, books I need to read and so on and so on.

It's all so overwhelming I even ended up on Facebook today because I didn't want to deal with all the decisions. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook but mostly ignore it. When somebody shows up and wants to be a friend I say "yes." Sometimes I don't know who they are but I think they must be from one of the big Old West history events I've worked at, or one of my writing or book discussion groups, or genealogy or, well the list is endless. This happened with Debbie. There aren't many Rita Ackerman's around so when she asked to be my friend I didn't question it.

She caught me on chat today and asked if I was working tomorrow. Well, since I work at home it got me to wondering, so I asked her where she works and explained my question. Well, she works at a clothing shop...in Florida. A few more questions back and forth and we figured out we didn't know each other and it's a good thing I answered because she would have thought Rita at work was snubbing her. I wished her the best in finding her friend. Who, strangely enough, she says looks like me, too. Now how's that for scary? Another me with my name and my appearance? She said if she finds her on Facebook she'd let me know. I wonder what Debbie will tell Rita in Florida about the Rita in Arizona tomorrow at work.

For some reason "It's a Small World" is going through my head.

And I think it is time to go do some art. June over at Dezinaworld has challenged us to do something with fall colors or theme. It doesn't feel very fall like here in the desert but I'm feel inspired.

Meanwhile, as I unload boxes and sort through stuff I'm finally getting all my visual journals in one place. Here's most of them (I hope.)
My husband keeps asking what I'm going to do with all of these. I don't have an answer. Any ideas?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Redecorating

Yes, I've been a bit quiet here on my blog. There's a good reason. We are remodeling our house and the last five days were for putting down the wood laminate and painting my bedroom/office. That means Everything had to come out of the walk-in closet (where I store most of my art supplies), my office and all the research notebooks and such along with the desktop computer.

The flooring is wonderful. It is somewhat cushy and smooth and I am loving going barefoot again.

Do you remember a time when your home was being redecorated?

We lived in the same house most of my childhood. When we sold it I was really sad. Mom wanted a better house but that was my home and I loved all my little places and the memories and the huge yard. I never felt right in the new house.

To continue my story we had to clean and paint the old house and my Aunt Marie and Cousin Kay came to help. We spent all day working on that house and then Mom decided it was time to clean-up, which we did. Then she got a call that she had to wait for awhile for some guy to show up about something so I dug out my paint brush and set back to work. My cousin sat there and watched me for a minute and said, "I do what MY mother tells me." I don't remember my response but I just figured it was better to get more done than to just sit around. Neither one of us got in any trouble but I always remember her tone of voice. I was 12 and my cousin a couple of years younger.

Kay is now a mother to five children and a grandmother to I don't know how many. She's lightened up over the years.

Please share your memories.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stained Glass

For the Dezinaworld challenge this week we were to do stained glass. I felt a little intimidated by this but then thought about swap I am in with an ocean theme. So I made two "stained glass" ATCs of lighthouses.

I had already used acrylic paint to put a green/blue background on the cards because I was going to decorate them in a different way. I went on line and found some ideas for stained glass and found the lighthouse. I then used a black marker to draw a similar image on the cards. I used Derwent Inktense pencils to color in the glass adding water to blend the colors and make them a bit more luminous. I went back over some of the lines with the marker. I sealed them with a spray sealant but before it dried I sprinkled on a bit of light blue glitter.

They turned out more interesting than I expected and I'm excited to try the Inktense pencils on more "stained glass."

Thanks, June, for the inspiration.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Hello Friends and Readers,
The day has arrived but first I want to thank all of you for helping me celebrate my 100th Post. I'm so happy to have made new friends and inspired new and old alike. That's what makes life worth living.
So without further ado..
The winner of the Goodie Bag is...

Midnite Scrapper.

Congratulations. Please email me your address so I can get your bag in the mail. I look forward to seeing what you do with some of these items. You can visit Midnite Scrapper here.

Thanks to all of you for entering. I wish I could send a goodie bag to each and every one of you but alas that isn't possible. I do plan on more giveaways and lots more inspiration so please keep on visiting. You never know what I will have up my sleeve.

Huggles to All.

Tuesdays With Rita: Secret Places

I was reading a blog the other day (I'm sorry I can't remember whose it was) in which the blogger was talking about secret places. Small, secure places we made or found for ourselves when we were children. She, as most of us, draped a blanket from chair to chair and hid underneath feeling completely safe from the entire world.

Secret places were where we could be alone; to dream, think, read, play, talk to our dolls, maybe even draw or journal.

My favorite place was in the space above the closet. This area was very large and had it's own door. There were blankets and some other forgotten things up there. To get to my space I had to climb up the back end of the bunk beds I shared with my sister. Then I'd somehow get onto the main closet door and swing it nearly shut so I could work my way up into the cupboard. (No, I never fell doing this.)

My sister was ten years older and Very in to horses. I found an old halter up there (we never owned a horse so I don't know where it came from) and would jingle it and play with it; dreaming I was riding the ranges with my favorite television stars. I loved it up there. In that cupboard I travelled the West and probably the world.

I had two secret places outside. One was in the crab apple tree which completely hid me in the spring and summer. There was a perfect sitting branch for "doing nothing" just like Christopher Robin. The other place was in in the back corner of the yard. The way the bushes and a tree were arranged it made a great little spot. Mom had stored some old wood back there that I rearranged into a comfortable little room.

All children find their own little secret places but as adults the places become larger and are usually shared with a family. A safe haven from the world. Some of us find other secret places to retreat when we need to be alone... a special bench in the park, a booth at the local cafe, a corner in the library.

Did you have a secret place as a child? Do you have one now?

The house where I had my secret places. No photos of the closet that challenged my climbing abilities.Yep, that's me and our dog, Smokey.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Amazing Things

I am stunned and thrilled at all the response to my 100th Post. I've tried to contact everyone and feel I've made some new friends. A wonderful perk I didn't expect. Thank you.

Yesterday was our Phoenix Writers Club meeting. I haven't been there all summer because of travels and stuff and it was so nice to see all my friends and fellow writers.

Our speaker was Clay Thompson, a columnist for the Arizona Republic. He is witty and interesting. He said his reason for getting in to journalism was basically people. People are good or evil, dumb or smart, (and a few others I can't remember) but they are always interesting. He stressed that we should all pay attention to the miraculous little things that are always happening around us. He talked about how dogs don't sweat but they pant. If humans panted we'd pass out. How is it that all these little things in life are the way they are?

Wow. That got me to thinking...and again for being grateful for this blog because it has already opened my eyes to some amazing things. My mind is starting to think about this phenomena and I hope I can turn this awareness into something I can share with all of you. Maybe ATCs, maybe just posts, maybe photographs, hmm... maybe all of the above and more.

The main thing is I don't want this feeling to go away. I want to expand this awareness of all those little miracles.

Here are a few I've noticed in the past:
Little Trent who was three months early and is now one year old.
An area is southern Utah where they are finding new species on a regular basis. There are approximately 80 digs going on in the area.
Spider webs that cover this long row of bushes and manage to withstand rain and wind and the passing of little boys.

What little amazing things can you find today?

Friday, September 17, 2010

100th Post

Here it is! My 100th Post! 

This is exciting to me. When my husband looked kind of blank about my plans and then asked me why this was a big deal I didn't really have an answer for him. On further thought I've decided it is an affirmation. I decided to do a blog and I've stuck with it. I've had a certain amount of success in positive comments and I enjoy it. The blog has opened up new possibilities and visions for me. I look at the world a little differently.

As promised I am having a giveaway. Everybody who leaves a comment to this post before Tuesday, September 21will be entered into a drawing. I will put all the names into a hat and draw one lucky winner.

So, what is the prize, you ask?

A large goodie bag full of vintage and new papers, fabrics, sequin waste, dried flower petals, fibers, buttons, beads, trims, and my Lillian Russell tag, "She Dreamed."

So please, spread the word, if you aren't a follower please become one. Help me celebrate this blogging milestone. With your support there will be more to come.    I dreamed for a long time about having a blog. I've dreamed most of my life about becoming a writer and an artist. Dreams come true but only if there are supportive people around you.
Thank you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I'm waiting for the glass man to come replace the windshield in our van. The are two many chips and one is huge and starting to crack. I also have a chip in my windshield that he will repair. 

At least with this waiting I can be at home and get things done. Unlike waiting in line at the post office where sometimes I can read the mail I just pulled out of my box (but mostly just stand) or waiting in line at the grocery store or pharmacy. Those times don't seem to lend themselves to using the time productively.

It can get interesting at times...listening in on other peoples conversations; to each other or on their cell phones, wondering what is in the packages they are holding; maybe even making up little stories about the packages. Trying to see the wanted posters in the display case. Oh, more stories.

Of course doctor's offices are a little better because you can sit for awhile and journal or read or listen to conversations and make up little stories based on a few words you might hear. The magazines are diverse and may introduce you to something you hadn't thought about before. More ideas, more stories.

I was once in the doctor's office and a lady, obviously from the South, was talking to the lady next to her. She had on bright colors and was flamboyant in every way. The second lady was going through the decisions of having a hysterectomy and Mrs. Flamboyant was on a roll. "Now, Honey, you don't let them take your ovaries. Just don't do it. No, no, don't let them take your ovaries." I kept burying my head deeper in my book so they wouldn't see me chuckling. I got a great story out of her for my writing group the next week...and now here she is showing up again.

Now that I really think about it; maybe waiting isn't such a bad thing. Do you have a waiting room story to share?

Tumwater Falls, Tumwater, Washington

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Heirlooms, Cedar Chest

Today I'm thinking about heirlooms and how they become such things. I never knew my dad or his family. He was an alcoholic and he and mom divorced when I was young. My sister being 10 years older has memories of him. Daddy was killed in a head-on car crash when I was about 10. Mom and Betty went to the funeral while I stayed at my other grandparents.

Afterwards our Grandpa Sam called Betty aside and told her she should have the cedar trunk our dad made in high school for his mother. It is now until we can arrange to have it brought to Arizona. I think about the love he had for his mother as he built this huge chest. How she must have cherished it so much. Her name was Carrie and she died before I was born.
Betty always said he could do anything. Woodworking is just one of those things.

All that is left of our father is this trunk and some photographs...well and me. Betty passed away three years ago. The family grows and fades but those special heirlooms remain as a testimony to who they were. Daddy loved his mother, he loved my mom and I know he loved Betty and I, his disease just kept him from being able to be with us.
That's my dad on the back left. Handsome wasn't he? His parents are in front.

One of those funny things of genetics; my sister looked just like our Aunt LaFerne (back row, second from the right) even down to the red hair.

Share with us a picture and/or story of a family heirloom. Put a link in your comment and I will pay you a visit.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Art Play

This is post 97. We are counting down (up?) to the big 100. I'm excited about this. I spent a big chunk of time yesterday putting together a giveaway. I think you will all be as excited as I am...whenever that 100th post should appear.

Meanwhile, I'm getting lots of great comments on the new look for the blog and I thank you for the feedback. Doing anything on the computer is trial and error for me. Even if I figure something out one time I have to go back to trial and error because I can never remember how I did it. I also tend to have to "live" with things a bit before I'm sure of them. So, please, keep the comments and suggestions coming.

Yesterday was also an art day. I finished the butterfly for the Houston Holocaust Museum.
While working on this I thought not only of the holocaust children, but of the children of Pakistan, and Haiti, and the Middle East and the countries where they are forced in to prostitution and slave labor and molested and hurt. Not to diminish the holocaust memorial but sometimes I wonder if we've learned anything.
Here's the link to the Butterfly Project.

On a much lighter subject I did                            
another tag for the "gold and lace"
challenge at Dezinaworld.

This little girl playing grown-up
mommy had me wondering if
she dreamed of a big house
with lots of fancy things,
including gold, lace and diamonds.

I am really loving doing these tags. This
one has Distress Ink, a gold ribbon and sequins,
laces, ribbon, lace and the picture and words
from my stash. All was glued on with gel medium
and The Ultimate glue which I learned about through
Sarah Whitmire's Soul Journaling classes. That stuff
holds a lot of bits-and-bobs.

Today I have more artsy goals. One is to start the
Layer Love painting class through Julie Pritchard.
I signed up before I went to Washington. I think it's
finally time I get started. Don't you?

Do you have a weekend art project to share? Let me
know through your comment by adding your blog or
other link and I will go take a look.

Art is to be shared.

Friday, September 10, 2010

There and Here

Here I am back at the coffee shop with my hot chai. I've been silent for a couple of days because I'm working on some projects and trying to upgrade this blog and open my etsy shop. Yes, I'm taking all kinds of steps. Well, maybe I should say stumbling along... but I'll get there.

The big news (for me at least) is that this is my 96th post. My first post was on Christmas Day and I remember wondering if I would have enough to say... or really have enough to say that people would be interested in. And yet my list of followers has grown. New people visit all the time and leave comments. Others respond through e-mails or when I see them at various meetings. This astounds me. When I read the Somerset magazine "Artful Blotting" I realize that most bloggers start out where I did, they persevered and the changes in themselves and their lives began.

As I near my 100th post I think back on the past few months. How I've grown, made friends, expanded my art, touched others with my stories, and the list goes on-and-on.

I don't know what day that post will happen to appear. I post when it strikes me, not on a schedule. So please, dear friends, keep checking back. I plan on having lots of surprises for you wonderful people including a special prize.

Now, here I am at home. Thinking about projects and swaps and ideas. Still have much to do but it helps to know I have all my Blogland friends along to help. Thank you.

P.S. Please be patient with my my stumbling and goofy page things as I learn how to do more things.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Picking Up on the Challenge

Another challenge. I love these. They inspire me, they get me to thinking, they get me to making art. Like a muse.

Hey, do you have any idea how many art blogs are out there? Thousands. I have no idea. I can't keep up with them. Guess What? They can all be connected to your muse. Just browsing from blog to blog you will find more beauty, ideas, techniques, printables, art.... than you could possibly do in a lifetime.

Just remember to get away from the computer and get something done. Here's a tag I made for Mary Green's Lillian Russell challenge on her blog, Green Paper. This is an amazing blog full of all the things mentioned above. And the best part... it inspired me.

This tag has Distress Ink rubbed on the base with some Inktense colored pencils blended in. Then the images from the challenge. More Inktense Pencils, computer generated words dabbed with Distress Ink and various trims. Tags are wonderful. They are useful, easy to do in a limited amount of time and so much fun.

Thank you, Mary.

Story Tellers: Spread the Word

I'm not the only one feeling the need to "get those stories down."  Shannon  over at A Southern Belle With Northern Roots has started "Story Tellers" Wednesday. These are family stories based on your photos and memories. She is also having an unbelievable vintage giveaway. You have to take a look at this lovely collection of vintage items.

Shannon's stories are amazing and while reading them I have been reminded of many tidbits of my own. For example: in her Story No. 2 Shannon talks about her "Grandpa Coke" who loved playing practical jokes.

He reminded me of my Grandad because they both smoked Camels and wore fedoras. 
 That's about as far as the similarities go because while her grandfather played with the kids and pulled pranks my Grandad was a very stern man. I don't think he ever told a joke. 
Grandad was a barber and had his own shop in Montezuma, Kansas.
There was always Juicy Fruit gum in a little white cupboard
behind the barber chair and a
coin to take to the corner store for Cracker Jacks. 
He loved to fish and tied his cane poles to the side
of the car to take us out to the creek in Greene's
pasture. He wore a white shirt and suspenders to
work but was always in denim coveralls the rest
of the time. We knew he loved all of us grand kids
even though he was quiet and seldom smiled. I spent
many summers and one whole year living with my
grandparents. Although Grandad wasn't demonstrative;
I always knew he loved me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Over on June's blog there is a weekly challenge.
The prompt for this week is "lyrics."
I chose "This Is One of Those Moments" from the movie "Yentl." For those not familiar; the movie is about a Jewish girl who wants nothing more than to read and study. Her father is a teacher and gives in to his young daughter's desire but when he dies she is forced to take make a big decision to continue her studies.

The song talks about the things in our lives that "no man can take away" such as learning and memories.

The background is cobalt green and iridescent pearl acrylics. The images were stuck down with gel medium and then gone over with gesso, stamps, Staz-On ink and Distress Ink, with computer generated words.

It "talks" about the big moments of my life, getting married, having our daughter, looking forward to grandchildren and spending time with them, visiting the West coast, owning my own horse...
but also the small moments: chatting with friends, reading a good book, stopping to smell the daisies.

All moments that I "will remember all my life."

Tuesdays With Rita: Ancestry and the Civil War

Friday I watched "Who Do You Think You Are" featuring Brooke Shields. This is an on-and-off program presented by Ancestry in which celebrities dig into their family history. Usually, if you go far enough back you will find common ancestors such as I have with Brooke and thousands of others with a royal connection. It was fun watching her talk about, and visit, some of the places where our common ancestors resided.

That gave me the bug to work on my own genealogy a bit. This is a project I started over 30 years ago and have very sadly neglected the last few years. I, of course, went straight to Ancestry and lo-and-behold I found a photo of the gravestone of my great, great grandfather who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Samuel Wilburn was born in 1839 and died in 1893. Living most of his life in Arkansas with a short stint in Coffeyville, Kansas. He was married to Mary McFerran who outlived him by many years. Here is a photo my aunt took at a family member's house of Sam and Mary.
The family story is that Sam and Mary planned on getting married but when he went off to fight for the South they put the marriage off. Afraid Northern soldiers would destroy their belongings they hid them in any way they could. Mary's wedding dress was wrapped in oil cloth and put into a hole in an old tree. There it survived until he returned from the War.

The other part of the story is that Sam was captured and placed in the Rock Island Prison during the War. He did serve and he was captured but that is all I have been able to prove. The story continues that his brother, Frank, was a Union soldier and was also captured. An agreement was made to release the brothers but for some reason the North didn't follow through. When Frank was later recaptured by the South he was killed in retaliation.

I don't know if the part about Frank is true. I haven't found any records of Frank Wilburn serving or anything about the exchange. It is still a great story. My Great Aunt Nell and Uncle Bill, who told me this story, were proud of our ancestor who fought for what he believed in. Does it matter I can't prove the story? Not really. I'm proud of my ancestors, too.

Do you have war related stories that have been handed down in your family? Have you written them down where your descendants will find them and the tradition carried on?

Please do, and not just in a computer where they may get lost. Save those stories for all the future genealogists. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Coffee Shop

I am treating myself today. I've been running and working all week and feeling a bit stressed.
So today I'm taking some time for myself. I'm at Seattle's Best having a cranberry/oatmeal cookie and a medium hot chai. I love chai and they have the best here.

It is a beautiful day. It is supposed to read 110 degrees but I don't think it will. There is a breeze and the sky is bright. It's wonderful to take time to notice these things. I find my blog helps with this. I'm always looking for things to write about. Pictures to share. And of course ideas for my artwork and writing.

I found this quote at Lisa's blog this morning: "Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing." by Camille Pissarro. Isn't that wonderful? (By-the-way, Lisa has a wonderful story about Cedric the gentlemanbug. Pay her a visit and add some magic to your day.
So what do I see today, in this place where I have spent many hours writing, reading and relaxing.

There are wonderful pictures of Seattle and Pike's Place Market that bring back happy memories.
Books and magazines are still being read.
The mesquite trees on the patio are all gnarly and bent.
There are no books on the upper storage shelves which I remember being full in the past.
They are playing soft jazz. I don't know the musician.
Christmas cards are already out; along with the 2011 calendars.
A guy just walked in with a big bouquet of purple flowers.
There's a lady in a straw hat with a pink band sleeping in one of the cushy chairs.

I'm already feeling better.
Take some time. Go to a quiet place, with pen or paper or your computer, and write down the little things you see.