Tattered Past

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





Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Childhood Pet(s)


Tuesdays With Rita continues with a prompt asking about childhood pets. I did this page about Smokey.

My Mom and Dad were divorced when I was very small. I don't even remember him. One of the last things he brought my sister and I was a pekingese puppy we named Smokey. Here's a picture of my parents with baby Smokey.

We had Smokey until I was thirteen or fourteen. In 1965 Mom gave me a baby chick for Easter.Smokey seemed to love that little chick. They got along great until the chick started getting to big and went to live on a farm.

A few years before we had a burglar. He didn't get in the house but Smokey was barking and Mom yelled at him to be quiet. In the morning she went to work and the neighbors called after finding Smokey lying in the yard. He had been kicked in the head so hard he lost his eye. Never seemed to bother him.

Smokey was a great weather forecaster. Mom kept his bowls on newspapers in the kitchen and whenever a storm was coming he would try to push the papers up over his food to "bury" it. When the tornadoes came he was really intent on hiding those bowls. The tornadoes didn't come in to town and there wasn't any damage.

This journal page was done with acrylic paints, a used dryer sheet, stamps, copies of old photos, cardstock and calligraphy pens. I hope you enjoy the memory as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Catahoula What?



I would like you all to meet Miss Maggie. I found her about four years ago at the Humane Society. I had lost our dog a few weeks before and waited to find a new pet because we were going out of town.

The day after we got home I headed to the HS and went up and down the aisles. I knew I wanted a puppy, short-haired, medium sized and female. None of the dogs fit. There were some wonderful dogs and I almost gave in to a couple of them. I called Doug crying that I couldn't find a puppy. I had waited so long to have another dog in the house and I couldn't stand it any more.

I decided to look one more time just as the volunteer brought a dog and put her back in the cage. I looked down at her and she looked up at me and it was love at first sight. I can't even describe the look she gave me.

I had her brought to the introduction area and held her and petted her and finally decided she was the one after they assured me she was a Queensland Heeler and would only be 40 to 45 pounds.

Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. Miss Maggie kept growing and had very long legs. While I was walking her down in Tombstone one time a guy stopped me to ask where she got those long legs. I said she found them by the side of the road. He thought she was a Heeler, too. There were many opinions on her breeding but eventually a vet said she thought Maggie was a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Hound.

A Catahoula what?

This dog originated in Lousiana and is a herder. It may be related to very early wolfhounds. It is the Louisiana state dog and is a very rare breed. The history is fascinating. http://www.bulldoginformation.com/catahoula-leopard.html

As for our Maggie. When the HS picked her up it was a few days after Independence Day and we think she ran away from her previous owner because of the fireworks. She was about three months old. They had found her on some church steps in South Phoenix covered with ticks, fleas and so dehydrated they had to give her an IV and pack her in ice. They saved her life and I often feel it was just for me.

Maggie gives us hugs when we come in the door. She is very smart and loves to be held (no easy task with her 65 pounds.)She runs like the wind and is very possessive.

Every dog we have had has been the best ever. And that is as it should be. As I look forward to visiting my family in Washington State I dread leaving my "puppy love" behind. I've had to put off bringing the suitcase out. Maggie knows what that means.She will have long days with Doug at work but I know they will share hugs and a goodie every evening.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Favorite Toy Memory


I grew up on Westerns. I also grew up playing cowboys and Indians. When I wasn't racing around the yard slapping my hip to get my "horse" moving I had my plastic figures spread across the kitchen floor.

I Googled to find photos of the figures I remember and was shocked to find how well I remember those steers with the twisty tail and the cowboy with the whip (and others with ropes and guns.) The plastic fences and little campfire and the saddles and the harness to snap horses into the buckboard. Oh the memories.

In the Sketchbook Group where I am leading "Tuesdays With Rita" the memories have been amazing. Some of the toys mentioned are: silly putty, yoyos, slinkys, dolls of all kinds, magic slates, troll dolls, hulahoops, Etch A Sketch, the bald guy with the iron shavings that you put his beard and hair on (Wooly Willy)and on and on.

What are your toy memories?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Journaling and Memories


The Yahoo Sketchbook group I belong to has asked me to to post a prompt a week for spurring them to write, collage, paint, sew, and journal about their memoirs. I decided to do this on Tuesdays and Tuesdays With Rita was born.

As this is a group of mostly art journalers most of them will do a visual journal page. Writing, especially with pen and paper, is a proven way to bring those memories to the foreground.

You can find pictures of items, eras like the 50s, fashions, the places you lived, and all kinds of information by googling or looking in various magazines based on nostalgic stories and items. I've added a page from an old visual journal about walking in the snow back in Kansas.

So besides those prompts on the side-bar over there I will be bringing Tuesdays With Rita to my blog. I hope this helps many of you to start writing your personal and family histories.

The prompt for this week is... What was your favorite toy?

Have fun.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Is Here


I thought today was the first day of Spring. Off a day. Oh well. I wanted to share this photo of my African Violets. Aren't they lovely? My mother's name was Viola which she got from her mother's middle name. The story goes my great grandfather wanted to name my grandma Violet but it was changed to Viola and then made her middle name... Jennie Viola. I wonder if Mom would have liked Violet better then she did Viola or Vi.

When we think of spring we think of tiny shoots coming up from the ground, buds on the trees, spring cleaning, the old adage about wearing white before April (or was it May?)and pollen.

I'm not much for spring cleaning, especially this year as we are still in the process of remodeling, but I am thinking about beginnings and growth. Beginning new projects and learning new art techniques. Trying new colors and maybe a fresh spring outfit in whatever color is popular this year. Maybe I'll write some poetry or start a new visual journal with a spring related theme. There are so many things to do. So many things to learn and experiment with.

What new things can you try this spring? Have you started your memoirs yet? Get yourself a set of watercolors and play with blending colors to make new shades. Plant some herbs. Try some new recipes for summer salads.

Let me know what you discover this spring.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Things Happen So Quickly Around Here


I often think of this quote from "The Wizard of Oz" when things happen and my life feels like it is spiraling out of control.

As much as I like keeping busy I am one of those people who needs daily quiet time to cope. I am active in lots of things but need a lot of time to myself. I like to have a routine and quiet.

The past week has really spiraled: in a good way, but still overwhelming. First of all my great niece contacted us to meet her in Colorado the first week of June. Doug and I worked to make arrangements and will be driving up to see her, the baby who is the center of "Hope" and my brother-in-law. The sad news was with that trip I didn't think we could also afford for me to go to Washington to see my daughter's family.

Then last night our daughter called and they made arrangements for me to visit for two weeks in April. I'm so excited to see my young grandsons. I will also get to see my niece and the baby. What a joy for this Grammy.

But at the same time I'm making lists of all the things that suddenly have to be done before I go...besides packing and all that. Two articles for the "Tombstone Times" my RoundRobin for the Sketchbook group, nine zendalas for the Sketchbook group, a painting for the ArtHouse Project, the Phoenix Writers Club newsletter, and 11 Remains of the Day pages. And a few other odds and ends. Seems a bit overwhelming. Sometimes I wonder how I get myself in to all these things but then I remember how much I enjoy doing them. Making art, sharing art, helping other writers, receiving things from other artists in trade, writing and learning new things every day. These are the things that make me smile and make my life worthwhile.

So, I am reminding myself now how much all these things mean to me. How wonderful it will be to see my boys and the baby. I will have special time with my daughter and son-in-law and my niece who is more like a daughter.

How lucky can a person be?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award


Wow. What a surprise. I didn't let myself check my blog until I finished putting all the taxes into the computer and do a printout for my husband to check.

When I did check imagine my surprise that I got an award. No, not for finishing my taxes (although I do have a Hershey bar waiting in the freezer) but for my Blog.

My friend from the Sketchbook Project Group on Yahoo nominated me and now I have to do seven things as part of the reward:
1. Post the image of the award.
2. Thank the person who gave it to me.
3. Link to the person who gave it to me.
4. Tell you seven things about myself that you wouldn't know.
5. Choose seven great bloggers to give this award to.
6. Give a link to their blogs.
7. Leave them a message on their blog.

So join me as I make my way through these seven things...
1. Done.
2. and 3. Thank you Lisa C. You can find Lisa on her blog at http://randomveracity.blogspot.com/. Lisa's artwork and photography will inspire you and make you smile. (We both graduated from Arizona State University in different fields and at different times. Now we are ArtSisters.)
4. 1) I love paper. I love to feel paper, smell paper and work with paper. Old papers are my favorite but I have quite a collection of new scrapbooking papers. I can do origami, quilling, and other paper arts besides my collage and journals.
2) I was born near Dodge City, Kansas and grew up watching the old westerns on TV. Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke... they are all a part of me. I love the Old West: the stories, legends and people who settled this great land.
3) I have a rescue dog from the Arizona Humane Society. She was supposed to be a Queensland Heeler but it turns out she is a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. (I feel another post coming, just to explain this rare breed.) Her name is Maggie and she is Wonderful.
4) I began doing my genealogy over 30 years ago and have traced some lines to Charlemagne. Other lines are stuck around 1800. All of my known ancestors came to the New World in the colonial period. They originated in Germany, Ireland, Scotland, England, Switzerland and a few other countries.
5) My favorite food is steamed snow crab. I also love chocolate.
6) I have lived in the desert most of my life and don't plan on ever leaving.
7) I collect hedgehog figurines and wish I could have a real one but they are illegal here because if they got loose they could significantly alter the ecosystem.

5. and 6. Many of the blogs I visit regularly have already been nominated. I don't want to duplicate so here are some other favorites who deserve this award.
1)Lori: Art journaling at its best. Also great organizing ideas.
http://keepanartjournal.blogspot.com
2)Sarah: This lady touched my creative self more than any other.
http://sarahwhitmire.blogspot.com
3)Elena: Through life's trials Elena reaches out to touch other hearts.
http://elenaismyname.blogspot.com
4)Betsy: I feel inspired to do ATCs every time I visit this blog.
http://heavens2betsy-creativeoverflow.blogspot.com
5)Ophelia: Collage, inspiration and a very big heart.
http://opheliasart.blogspot.com
6) Fran: A fellow Arizonan and inspiring artist.
http://reclusivegoddess.blogspot.com
7) Deborah: Beautiful images and a caring soul.
http://glisteninthesunshine.blogspot.com
7. I'm adding to learn how to make hidden links. In the meantime, I'm off to tell these wonderful ladies how much I admire their blogs.

Thanks again, Lisa, best to you always.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Doodling Zendala Style


This is one of the zendalas I made for a swap with the Yahoo Sketchbook group. This group was formed when a bunch of us were was working on our sketchbooks for the ArtHouse Sketchbook project last fall. We have become a close knit group of artists who share ideas, techniques and challenges. For this particular challenge we are making nine zendalas the size of a cd to exchange with nine other members. The separate artworks will then be bound into a book for each of us.

The art of the zendala is related to the centuries old art of the mandala. They stand for the unity of the soul and the universe and are used for meditation and contemplation. There are many formats, many in black and white and some with color. A great video on how to draw a zendala is on Milliande's Web site. She is a wonderful, inspiring artist and just watching her video is meditative in itself.

This art form is being used by therapists and seems to be taking on a life of its own. The are called mandalas, zendalas and zentangles depending on the format but they all seem to refer to the convergence of zen and doodling. Another interesting site on this art form is: www.zentangle.com.

I used two different colors of fine point Sharpie pens for this zendala but you can use any style pen, pencil, colored markers, colored pencils and even watercolors.

Try a zendala of your own and learn a great way to relax. Something we all need in these trying times.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head"




I gave my talk at ASU College Emeritus today. The subject was genealogy and memoir. Mostly giving people ideas on how to get started in gathering their own history.

I don't get over to ASU often so I thought it would be nice to arrive early and walk around the campus a bit. Also, I love to roam around college bookstores. They always have great stuff for writers, artists and anybody who loves paper, books and pens.
(I found a cork dip pen nib holder.) It was a nice day but threatening rain. Well, part way back to my car the sky opened up and I soon resembled a drowned rat..

In the car I was listening to an old B. J. Thomas cd. Remember "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head?" That really wasn't planned.

I then drove over to the golf course club house where the meeting was being held. It it was pouring so hard I couldn't see and missed the driveway. I went down and turned around. By the time I got back to the parking lot the wind had picked up. I had a small suitcase, a computer bag, a plastic bag and my purse to carry in and couldn't handle the umbrella. The wind was so bad it wouldn't have helped much anyway. (I wish I'd had those galoshes I wrote about in my last post.)

Well, I'm happy to say we had a good turnout. Some friends came just for me (thank you dear friends) and it was an enjoyable time. I sold a book and best of all I inspired some people to locate their own family pictures, heirloom and stories.

Luckily the rain abated and it was really nice but windy when we came out. I caught this picture of the flags. I also got one of the golf course. And, NO, I didn't get any of the talk. Besides feeling like a drowned rat I rather looked like one.

I gave everybody a prompt to write from. We didn't have time to read them but I'd like to hear from some of you...
What was your favorite place to shop as a child? (Remember to use the five senses.)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Woolworth Memories



As I worked on my genealogy the past 30+ years I gathered postcards of places associated with my ancestors and my own lifetime. In the older days I found them by patiently searching through boxes of old postcards at antique stores. I did find some great ones that way, including the location of a Civil War battle one of my ancestors was in: The Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas.

Now I search on e-bay. Easier to focus in on particular areas like Great Bend, Kansas where my family lived from when I was about 3 to 13. I have fond memories of the downtown area, the stores that lined the streets around the old stately county courthouse. The Crest Theater where I first saw "Snow White" and a magic show with dogs. The bank building with the stately marble columns that later became a jewelry store. And my favorite, the Woolworth store.

I remember that store vividly. The uneven wooden floors that creaked with every step, the open bins that were about waist-high and allowed even a child to look across the store and keep her Mother in sight. The office on the balcony along the back a mysterious seeming place. It was there we went for school supplies, the pink jewelry box that was a treat for "being good" at the dentist's office, my first nylons, and other memorable purchases.

Someday I will find an interior photo of that particular store but for now I am happy to have a postcard of where it sat along the street. I remember walking along that sidewalk in the summer in a red peasant dress and in the winter in a heavy coat and golashes. My Mom and my older sister taking me to that wonderland of toys, crayons and new anklets.

Next week I am giving a talk at ASU on writing memoir. This postcard will have a special place in my story and I hope will inspire others to hunt for their memories in antique stores and through the Internet.