Tattered Past

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Childhood games and Play

Whew. Tuesday almost went right past me again. Where oh where does the time go.

The prevailing thought today is about play. As children we played all the time. It was just what we did. If there weren't friends to play with we made them up or had tea parties with our dolls or stuffed animals. If there were kids in the neighborhood we found them and usually made friends. We all met at a neighbors yard and spent our summer nights playing tag or catching June bugs. In the winter we made forts and snowmen.

What were your favorite games or activities as a child? In my neighborhood we met at the house on the corner. They had a very big lot and since there were no fences our yard became part of the play area. There was Jon, Lorna and Jan and before that Patty lived there. Across the street there was Denton and Karen. They went to Catholic school so I was always glad to get home to see my friends. I never seemed to have friends like that at school.

So many memories but I don't remember when I quit playing. I didn't play for a very long time. I wouldn't think of sitting down with crayons and a coloring book or a stuffed animal. Now I love them. It's funny but I notice that people reach a certain age and many of them find play an important part of their lives. I have two friends who have chosen "play" as their word for 2011. A reminder to take time for themselves and let go. Art journalers do this and most of the mixed-media artists I've met. They've learned that a little bit of play makes life oh so much better.

In my writing group today a friend gave me a ZhuZhu. I didn't know about this fad but I laughed and laughed as I sent it running across the table. Other members of the group picked it up and directed it back at me as they continued their conversations. I had fun being a child causing trouble for awhile. I don't think I would have done that 20 years ago. I've learned how to play again. I draw, color, sew, hug my stuffed animals, and watch children's movies. (We had a great time with "Wall-e" on Christmas.) As the world becomes more and more stressful we all need to remember to play. 

Share with us how you played as a child. What were your favorite games? Who were your friends? How do you play as an adult? What "games" can you teach the rest of us?

The picture is my cousin Kay and I (kneeling) having our own tea party. I loved that little tea set. I was 6 or 7.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


The Inner Critics are taking over my office.
Hello Blogland Friends,

I'm sitting in Border's with a large hot chai enjoying the day. I'm feeling good today; much better than I have in quite a while, and not just physically. I'm finding this rather strange because is a chilly, rainy day and usually this kind of day sends me right in to the dooldrums. Not today.

When I came I was going to work on my article for the Tombstone Times but suddenly I felt like talking to my blog friends. So this post may ramble a bit. I have had a Border's rewards card for a long time. I had two coupons today, one for the free hot chai and another I used to buy a package of Tazo tea for a friend. I slept well last night. All these things have added up to this good day and lots of positive thoughts. Isn't it wonderful?

I've been working on building my herd of "Inner Critics" and having fun with them. One friend bought one from my Etsy shop and commented how it really does work for her to zip that mouth a few times to make her smile, clear her mind, and get her ready to write. Thanks, Windy, it's great to hear they are serving their purpose.

Well, it is a few days later and I'm back at Borders. It is much quieter and I had to pay for my chai but it's another good day. Saturday was the Phoenix Writers Club Christmas meeting. I had some of my Inner Critics with me and Quinn, a creativity coach bought two. Then she went home and blogged about them, describing them much better than I ever could. Take a look here. She even filled in for the club secretary and did the minutes to Twas the Night Before Christmas. (Thanks, Quinn.)

It seems I was meant to carry this post over. By-the-way I did get my article in to the Tombstone Times.  whew. So here I am still feeling good, enjoying my chai, and wishing you all a very safe and happy holiday.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Holiday Calmers

Tis the week before Christmas and my muse has gone on vacation.

Even though Doug and I don't do anything special for the holiday I've been feeling rushed and stressed right along with all those crazies out there on the streets and at the malls. I've thought for a couple of days about what would be a special post for this last Tuesday before Christmas and have come up completely blank.
I've even zipped the Inner Critic's zipper quite a few times and decided that this time it isn't his fault.

I find that what I most want to do is inspire everyone to think about the peaceful moments. The quiet, calm memories that slow your heart rate and make you take a deep breath and relax. Even if they are just memories from a few days ago. What things do you find calming about the holidays?

Hot apple cider comes to mind.
How about the sounds of silence after a snow?
Watching a fire in the fireplace or a favorite movie such as "It's a Wonderful Life."
Sipping hot chocolate in a room full of lighted candles.
Babies bundled up in fleece jammies sleeping peacefully in your arms.
Cutting snowflakes from crisp white paper.

To my friend, Cindi, it is unpacking all the ornaments her three children made over the years and taking the time to reminiscence about each one before hanging it on the tree.

Here are some wintery scenes from my childhood. This was my grandparent's house in Southwestern Kansas.

So, on this last Tuesday before Christmas 2010 I wish you all special moments of peace and calm.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Warm Fuzzy Memories

While watching all the cold/snowy/icy weather on the news I was reminded of this photo of my mother shoveling the snow at our home in Great Bend, Kansas. I believe this was the last winter before we moved to Arizona. Mom never had to shovel snow again.
This week we are breaking records here in Arizona. Yesterday it was 82 degrees F. Although some are complaining that they can't get in to the spirit of Christmas with this warm weather; I am loving it.

While looking for the picture of mom I found another treasure.
This picture is from my sister's house quite a few years ago. The piece of furniture is her hope chest. I can still picture her sitting in front of it as it sat in the living room of our childhood home. She'd lay out the things inside obviously dreaming of her future home.

The tree lamp was always a favorite for both of us. It is now at my brother-in-laws and still works as far as I know. I don't know how many times I pictured little characters, or a tiny version of myself, in those ceramic branches. Perhaps that horse or those snowmen hanging on the branches of the Christmas tree sneak over there at night.

Old, and not so old photographs, are full of memories. When you can't be with the people you love, sit quietly with a cup of tea and a box of photos and their love will surround you. If you are spending the holidays with loved ones take the time to notice the little things. Take pictures of the everyday. Even though the tree lamp just happened to be there when my sister took this picture it has brought me some warm fuzzies from her this year too. 

What are some of your warm fuzzy memories?  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: First Steps

First Steps

This is my mom on the day she took her first steps.
Grandma said she just started down the sidewalk and that was that.

Look closely at her face. There is determination, pride, and a bit of joy.

That was my mom. She was always taking bold steps; raising us girls on her own, making our home the best she could, fighting cancer with every bit of her being.

She was a source of inspiration for everyone around her right down to her great grandchildren. She will continue to be an inspiration in the stories we pass down about her.

There's the story about when she was about five years old they were visiting my great grandparents. They were going to have roast beef but Mom wanted chicken. So out she went to the chicken yard, caught and killed a chicken and brought it in to the kitchen for dinner.

In 1967 she decided to leave Kansas and come to Arizona to try and make a new start. Just her and me,
 the dog, a cat and a U-Haul trailer full of everything we owned. I didn't want to leave my friends and school in Kansas so I know I wasn't easy to deal with on that trip.  

This has me thinking about all the first steps we take in our life.
There are the obvious ones like baby Viola, first jobs, college, first apartment, first love.
What about all the little steps you take every day?

Stepping out of your comfort zone to help somebody else, trying some new art technique or showing your work for the first time, submitting an essay or short story to a magazine, joining a book discussion group, trying a new food.

What steps have you taken recently? Were they baby steps or big steps?
It really doesn't matter, just that you took them.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Busy Creating

I've had this vision in my head for about a year. It has finally become a real thing. Introducing the "Inner Critic."
You will never be a writer.
Who do you think you are trying to write?
You can't even spell.
Nobody will like what you are doing so you might as well not try.

Have you ever heard these comments and many others sounding off in your mind as you try to write or doing anything creative, for that matter? Well, now when that little voice gets on your nerves you can just ZIP IT. Literally. Each of these "Inner Critics" has a working zipper for a mouth along with lots of personality in the form of mismatched buttons, fun fabrics and "mean" eyebrows.
I will be putting these wonderful little critters, who passed inspection at my favorite writing group, in my Etsy shop in the next day or so. I hope you will stop by and check them out.

I want to add that I'm so excited to have so many people comment on the new traditions in your families. It really shows that most of us don't like what the holidays have become and hope and work towards a better way to show our spirit and love. Thank you, everyone, for sharing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tues...Wednesdays With Rita

Yep, Tuesday just came and went. I did think briefly about my blog post as we headed to do some shopping but the rest of the day it was just....well....gone.

And I'm sorry to say I just don't have any inspiration this week. There is so much going on. I'm still having the onslaught of eye doctor appointments and Doug returned to work after breaking his ribs. Thus the hurried shopping while we could still go during the week.

I did think a bit yesterday about new traditions. How long do you have to do something before it becomes a tradition? Does it matter? Since Jessica moved to Washington and it's just Doug and I for the holidays we have simplified what we do. Most of our shopping is for the grandkids and all of that has to be mailed early so then we just don't do much except have a nice dinner.

Our new tradition, however, is to spend a couple of hours roaming Cost Plus World Market for fun and interesting foods to send to the kids. Foods from around the world, traditional foods, long time favorites such as Walker's shortbread. We have so much fun and it just isn't the holidays until we make it to CPWM. We did that yesterday and I have to say it does seem like each year the selection goes down a bit. We couldn't find a few items. Everybody in the family will get their shortbread.

Do you have any "new" traditions? Say the last 5 to 10 years? What is your signal that the holidays are here?

Happy Hanukkah.

An old journal page that (re)caught my eye.