Tattered Past

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

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?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pink is Everywhere

Last week I received a call from a friend in the Phoenix Writers Club. We are both on the board; she is the secretary and I'm the newsletter editor. She is also a speaker, author, dog lover and warm, smiling lady.

Elaine called to tell me she has breast cancer. As the conversation went on I was blown away by her positive attitude and the plans she had made. One of them was to start a blog. Here, just a week later she is writing on that blog, A Little Rain: Diary of a Cancer Patient, about joining in a 5K race for survivors.

Elaine told me last week that she has drastically changed her diet and is researching more about how to fight this battle. She is already sharing that information with a tab for diet hints.

I've heard, many times, that a positive attitude is the most important ingredient to recovery. Elaine has plenty of that and I know those who come in contact with her will come away with an added bit of strength.

I send best wishes to Elaine and everyone else who is a patient, a survivor, or knows somebody who is. I hope I can do my small part by spreading the word...

October is Cancer Awareness Month.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Mixture of Artsy Stuff

 I signed up for KC Willis' collage class quite some time ago and have been trying to find time to gather all the materials and get started. Then the trip to Washington came up and this and that...you know how it goes.

I have been putting scraps of fabric, lace and other bits in a box and this weekend I finally mixed up the instant coffee dye and went to town.

I had so much stuff I had to hang some of the fence.
Then go chase it down when it blew in to the front yard.

There was some muslin, canvas, upholstery fabric, and other pieces found at yard sales and thrift shops.

The next thing I did this weekend was finish a tag for the fall challenge at Dezinaworld.
This was fun.

 I used  Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Watersoluble Crayons,
Pitt Pen, and old dictionary pages with a leaf punch.

Oh, and that reminds me of a little tip I've been meaning to pass on. The crayons fit perfectly in one of  those plastic photo keepers from the scrapbooking department. I have been collecting these crayons one or two at a time for quite awhile and this little box holds them all ready for travel.
On another note...

Yesterday I picked my friend, Janna, up for lunch. Something we have been doing every Tuesday for at least 15 years. There were some dark clouds but nothing seemed overly threatening. By the time we finished eating the downpour started. Since she had to go back to work I ran for the car and drove up to the door. I was soaked to the skin. Before we left the parking lot the hail started. It was upwards of two inches across. So very scary. I dropped her back at work and headed home. The streets were completely white and most of them flooded. I hit patches of fog and there were trees and branches everywhere. I made it home safe and sound. The power lines fell across our friend's house. Another friend's house was struck by lightening with minor damages.

We are supposed to have more of the same today so I'm staying home. It is getting dark and the wind is picking up. I think fall (winter?) has finally hit the Valley of the Sun.

What have you been working on this week?

Or, how's the weather?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Horseshow

Here we are again. Amazing how the weeks are flying by. Those of you who have been following my blog the last couple of days won't be surprised at my prompt for this week.... HORSES.

Yes, write about something that has to do with horses. These don't have to be real horses, how about hobby horses, carousel horses, horse paintings, stickers, your favorite horse book. Any memory that has to do with a horse.

I wanted to write more about my Blaze. He was such a funny horse. He was boarded at a stables about a mile from our house. On holidays we would go by and give him a special treat; carrots with the tops on, apples and even a peeled orange. He loved oranges.

I rode him all over. I rode English and even tried taking him over some very small jumps. I rode him Western and took him over the trail course at the stables. A friend and I packed lunches and rode out to the McDowell Mountains. That would be impossible now as it has been built up so much.

I rode him throughout my pregnancy (which gave my mother heart flutters) and didn't have a bit of trouble. It's ironic that I fell once during my pregnancy, leaving the doctor's office. (Baby and I were fine.)

I have so many wonderful memories of Blaze. I could spend hours just grooming him. The closeness of his big ol' body and his kind eyes along with the motion of the brush swept all my stress away.

I did a simple page in my memory journal using Neocolor II Watersuable Crayons, gesso, gel medium and a black pen. It was fun to find the memories again.

When I was young I watched all the TV Westerns. Then I rode my horse all around the neighborhood with my left hand held up for the reins and slapping my right hip. I dreamed of a horse and had a few years of that dream come true.

By-the-way, I still have my first copy of Black Beauty.

What are your horse memories?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Horse Love II

I found a link to a video of the Equestrian World Cup in Kentucky, Oct. 3, 2010. I couldn't figure out how to put the video over here but here's the scene I saw:

I wish the commentators would be quiet so we can hear the music the horse and rider are right in step with the music.

Yes, I'm obsessed with this right now.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Horse Love

I took a break from helping working on the house today and flipped on the tv while I folded clothes.

I was completely stunned to see this gorgeous horse competing in the World Cup in Kentucky today.
This is an older video but it give you and idea of how Ravel moves.


I called Doug in and had him watch with me as this amazing horse went through his moves; trotting, walking and literally dancing in time to the music. This particular video is an older one and I hope more from today show up on You Tube.

I know I've seen You Tube videos embedded in a blog and I just haven't figured that one out yet.
Most of you have probably guessed that I love horses. I wanted one when I was young and that desire never went away. When I was in college I took equestrian classes and actually won a trophy at one of the practice shows. This is me on Ajax as I received my prize.

Soon after we were married I was ecstatic to be able to buy a horse. Just an old range horse but I loved him to pieces. Here's me, Blazer, and Doug about 30 years ago.

Blazer may not have been a Ravel but he was my horse and some of the happiets moments of my life were sitting on his back or brushing his big bay body.

There is absolutely nothing like a horse.