Tattered Past

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





Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita: Frank and Bert Martin

This photograph is of my gr. gr. gr. grandfather Francis "Frank" Marion Martin who was born in 1844 and my gr. gr. grandfather William Albert "Bert" Martin who was born in 1876. I never knew either one and neither did my mother. Bert left his wife Nellie (see hair post below) when their daughter was very young so although Grandma knew him she didn't have a lot of memories. Both men tended to move around a lot and remarried a few times. 

All genealogists develop a thing for dead people and cemeteries. After all, most of the people we research are, well, dead. I knew Frank was buried in Portland and over the years I asked many people to see if they could get a photo of his stone. Nobody ever did. Then, oddly, my daughter moved to Washington and we were passing back through Portland and made a little detour to visit the cemetery. And surprise... he doesn't have a stone. The cemetery had very good records and we found where he is buried but no stone. Sad.

Bert was another matter. We knew he was buried in the Los Angeles area. So when Jessica was still young we went to visit Disneyland and Doug took us to the cemetery. The office gave us a map of the plot and we walked and walked and couldn't find him. I was feeling bad for having my family take part of our vacation to roam around a cemetery (it wasn't the only time) but we kept saying, "we'll just look a little longer."

Doug was walking along and saw a big clod of dirt on a stone and thought it looked tacky and went to kick it off. It bounced a couple of stones over and landed on Bert's stone. It all felt kind of spooky. I took pictures and we were on our way.

A few weeks later I was chatting on the phone and fiddling with the photos and noticed what looked like strange writing above the stone. I broke out all in goosebumps as the writing looked like "Sarah" or "John" and "Martin." Since then many people have seen the writing and given me their opinions on the writing. Everybody seems to see the "Martin" but the first part is debated.


I just don't know what to think of these things. During my thirty plus years of doing family history lots of strange things have happened. This is just a case when there is something physical to go along with the story.

Do you have serendipitous stories about your family? I'd love to hear them.

Oh, and one more thing...Grandma always thought she had a brother through a later marriage of her father, Bert. Could his name be John?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Technique "Secrets"

Last week I finished my spread in the Yahoo Sketchbook Group Round Robin. This book belongs to Fran and her theme is for us to tell her some of our favorite techniques. Now, how smart is that?

I chose working with old book pages because I LOVE TEXT.

So here's what I did...
1. Colored around the page making squares and working my way in with Caran D'Ache Neocolor II Watersoluble Crayons. Then I blended them with a Huggies baby wipe. I added some more colors to various places and kept going until it was nice and soft and smooth.
2. I then used brown and green crayons to color pages of text and then smooth with the Huggies.
3. I found a cute picture in a magazine and as I cut the little pirate out I put a couple of old book pages underneath so I could cut them all at the same time. (It comes in handy to have all these cut shapes around.)
4. I used gel medium to glue down one of the text pages and then the one of the boy to make a duplicate. I then took what was left over of the book page and made another form. You can use any of these pieces individually.
5. I then went around all these things with distress ink and charcoal pencils to blend and highlight.
6. I cut a tree from the brown painted text page and little leaves from the green and used gel medium to put them all on the page. I blended with crayons, charcoal and distress ink. I happened to have the bird image from another project and he just fit there on the branch.
7. Along the top is a border cut from a book page. I also used some punched shapes on the right. Just experimenting with ways to add texture and shape.
8. Last but not least I went through a book and found lines and words to make a poem. The words were then applied with the gel medium and a bit of charcoal and distress ink.

And there you have it. Lots of fun and the text just "makes the page."

The "Found" Poem

swirling snow
she hurried up the steps
and felt warm and cozy
as the day
faded into dusk


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita and Fairy Knots

Girls love to do hair and most of them love to have their hair done; at least when they get older.

There's an old folk tale that if your hair is all tangled when you get up in the morning it is because you made the fairies angry and they came and tied your hair all in knots during the night. Makes sense to me.

I can just see a little girl with long blond hair and her mother trying to get the knots out while telling her, "Well, you shouldn't have gotten run around in the garden and made the fairies mad."

This photo is of my mother doing her grandmother Nellie Martin's hair. I wonder who enjoyed it more. The funny thing is her sister, Marie, standing to her right became a beautician. The smells of a beauty parlor still take me back to her salon in the tiny town of Minneloa, Kansas. It was on the street behind their house and I can even picture the path worn from their back door to the salon.

The other two children are my Aunt LaVerne and Uncle Harold. There were two more boys yet to come. I'm not sure where this picture was taken. It wasn't Nellie's house so it must have been my grandparent's house and it is the late 1920s.

My memories of having my hair done are varied. I have very fine, thin hair and Mom was always doing it up in pin curls or rollers. Maybe I'll show you my school photos next week. Anyway, the other option was to take me to my grandfather the barber and have it cut very short and straight. We always joke about a bowl being used. The good thing about that is he always had Juicy Fruit gum in the barber shop cabinet or at least a nickle so I could go two doors down to the grocery and get some Cracker Jacks.

How many memories can you come up with connected to hair? As you can see, one memory leads to another and another and another. That is the "beauty" of writing memoir.

The memories never end.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Everything's On Hold

Or at least it feels like it. We replaced my computer yesterday so now I have  a whole lot more power, a 20 inch screen, and Windows 7. I like the Windows 7 but of course I have to go around and set things up and try to find my files on all the back up files and make sure I have settings. Some of it has gone well and some hasn't.

To say the least I haven't had time to do art or work on posts. I'm planning on a couple of tutorials so check back. As soon as I get this computer settled in. I do have a 20 inch screen now so I look foward to viewing all those wonderful art videos and classes I've been finding. I'm taking Julie Prichard's Layer Love class, and Mary Ann Moss' Remains of the Day Journals and Stencilry. Great classes. Addicting though.

As far as art videos. One of my favorite people is Milliande. If you aren't familiar with her video's go check them out. Besides learning lots you will love her obvious joy of living and art and her accent. One of my favorites is: Milliande's Zentangle. It is mesmerizing to watch her doodle into a circle.

Here's one of my zendalas
A zentangle is an form of doodling using repetitive patterns contained in some type A zendala is doodling in a circle as in a mandala. Either form is calming and meditative and used by a variety of therapeutic situations. I use them to relax, warm up for other art or just when I need to clear my mind. They work and all you need is paper and a pen.

Give a zentangle or zendala a try.

Meanwhile, back to setting up the computer.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blog Hop and Memory Keepers

I've been visiting various blogs this morning. I have viewed creative spaces, mountain cabins, art journals, and gardens. What a wonderful way to start the day. Take a look at the Blog Hop below. See all those wonderful blogs? They are full of inspiration and friendly, creative people for you to meet.

The one that touched me the most because I feel a real soul connection with this whole idea is at Penny's new blog titled memory keeper. I've been following her art blog creative overflow  but now she is taking off with a new blog geared to writing about her family. Penny's father was a photographer and she has a large collection of wonderful photos to share with her readers. I look forward to her photos and remembrances.

On another note, my desktop developed problems today. I've had this same problem three or four times before but now the contract has run out. It is the video card which in this Gateway is part of the mother board. So the decision. Have it replaced again or get a new computer. Thank heavens for my laptop! I can stay in touch although I don't have many of the addresses I want on this one. I shall endeavor to persevere.

In the meantime, start gathering your family photos. Find the ones stuck in a drawer. The others stashed in a shoe box. The ones still in envelopes from relatives. Gather them all in to one place. It's time to start putting the memories with them.

On that note: here's my Grandmother Jennie (in the white dress)
with a lady I believe was a friend. Don't you just love the summer hat? I wish I knew the friend's name and the occasion.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita:Stella Pope Duarte

A few months ago I took a class from Stella Pope-Duarte a prize-winning local author and storyteller. I have taken quite a few classes with Stella besides hearing her speak on various occasions. We even did a reading together at the Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. Here's a picture of the three of us who spoke that night. Stella is in the center and I'm on the right. http://www.stellapopeduarte.com/

In the storytelling class Stella taught us to take our family stories and tell them in ways to make them come alive. We used props and pictures to add to the history. It was fun to hear the stories of Irish immigration and cousins on the Titanic by one class member and living in a hotel by another.
The story I told is one I heard from my Grandmother Jennie Martin Covey Leaman many, many times. It is one of my favorites.

Jennie's parents were Bert and Nellie (Keith) Martin. They were married in 1900 and lived in southwestern Kansas on various claims. Grandma said she learned to crawl in a dugout with flower sacking for a rug. At the time of this story they were living in a barn waiting for the chance to get a house built. The barn had a breezeway with stalls and storage on the sides and the hayloft above. The kitchen was set up in the grainery with a blanket as a door. They slept in the loft. Grandma was very young.

During a time when Bert was away from the farm, Nellie and Jennie were asleep in the loft when they were awakened by a noise in the breezeway below. They listened and thinking somebody was down there Nellie decided she should be prepared for whomever or whatever was there. Grandma described the scene as she hid by the bed and Nellie stood over the trap door with a pitchfork in her hands. They had left the doors on either ends of the loft open and the moonlight made her white nightgown glow while the breeze made it flutter giving her a ghostly appearance. 

After awhile the sounds quit and they decided to go back to bed. Just as they were settling down they heard the sound again but this time they realized what it was. The breeze from the open doors was lifting and dropping the lid on the chamber pot they had sitting off to the side. Grandma said she and her mother had a very grand laugh and then settled down for a peaceful night's sleep.

Nellie is the grandmother who owned the necklace I wrote about last week. She was an amazing woman and the stories about her could fill a book. Here she is as I remember her. 
Do you have stories told by members of your family? Have they been recorded? It's time to do it. Now.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

30/30 Challenge

It's Sunday evening and we just had Doug's barbecue chicken. Yummy. We've spent the weekend trying to get caught up on the house after being gone. It's amazing how many dust bunnies moved in during that time.

I finished two challenges this weekend. First was the 30/30 Challenge from the Yahoo Sketchbook Project group. We challenged each other to do 30 pieces of art in 30 days. I chose to do a visual journal. Here are three of my favorite pages.

The "Magic" page I did in the car coming home. It has book text, gel pen, magazine cutouts, stamp pad ink, charcoal and watersoluable crayons.

"Tweet" was a page I did before we left for Colorado. It has acrylic paint, magazine cutouts, graphite pencil, charcoal pencil, stamp pads, and stamps. I did the dots by rubbing Distress Ink Pad ink over a sheet of punchinella (the waste from making sequins.)

"Be Yourself" came from the magazine cutout of  identical chickens. Society or at least fashion society tries to get us to all be alike. We aren't pretty enough, or cool enough, or whatever enough if we aren't like the famous people we see on television every day. I used acrylic paint, stamp pads, book text, stamps, distress ink, markers and gel pen, and a fabric flower and brad.
 This whole challenge has been a lot of fun. We don't have a final count on how many finished but there are quite a few. At the very least we all practiced new things, shared and commented on each others art. We also grew as friends and as artists. What more could you ask for?

The other challenge came when I read about another blogger on Earth Day. She said she was going to plant a tree for each of her children. I decided then and there to plant a tree for each of my grandchildren, plus our great great grandnephew (who seems more like a grandson.) I bought five trees and today we finally we planted them. Not the best idea for Phoenix in June but that's the way it goes around here. The big tree in the background was a live Christmas tree we had when our daughter was small. So that seems appropriate. Now if I can just keep these five Italian cypress alive through the summer.

Meeting these challenges is a great feeling. I think this blog helped. I feel more accountable to myself and my readers. Set yourself a challenge this week and let me know what it is and how you finished it. Really!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Building Art


Doug and I love visiting old towns and driving around to find neat old buildings. Las Vegas, New Mexico caught our attention this time. There are over 900 buildings on the historical registry in this town. Amazing.

Isn't this house grand? I wonder about that room up in the tower and how it would work for a studio. I can almost feel the wooden floors and banisters that must grace the inside of this house.

                                               This is the Plaza Hotel. I'm not familiar with all the history (researching it is on my agenda) but what a wonderful old building. "Doc" Holliday and Big Nose Kate spent time in this town. The building was built in 1882, after they left, but it seems I read somewhere they did return at some time so maybe they did visit this stately hotel. One bit of history from a brochure I picked up at the visitor center is that Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders had their first reunion in this hotel.
The artwork on the side of this old building caught my eye. So much more appealing than billboards. I love to see the weathered signs on the side of the buildings. I love looking at details of architecture and how they made things.

One final building I will share with you isn't a building any more. It is just the cellar but we were fascinated with the old boiler and the way they made the stairs. Who were the people who climbed those stairs? Was it a store or a hotel? We don't know but it is a real piece of history and a look into a simpler time.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kelly's Art Journaling: Artist Blog Hop

Kelly's Art Journaling: Artist Blog Hop

My art journal friend, Kelly, is doing a Blog Hop. No you don't need bobby socks just a link to her blog with your own. This will be a great way to make new friends, learn new techniques, and have fun.
Thank you, Kelly. Huggles

Tuesdays With Rita: The Locket

I spent most of yesterday trying to sort through pictures and boxes of things I brought home from my brother-in-laws in Colorado. My sister, Betty, has been gone for three years but her presence feels just as strong as always. We are working on sorting more of her things and reliving memories. Her granddaugter, Liz, met us there so we were able to pull together some stories.

When Liz was married Betty loaned her a necklace to carry which Liz thought had come from our great grandmother, Nellie. I don't remember ever hearing anything about it. There, deep in Betty's jewelry box, we found the necklace with an obviously newer chain.

I'd been going through pictures and eagle-eyed Liz spotted one of Betty's school pictures with this necklace. So we have what would be called providence for ownership of the necklace. Nellie passed away in the early 1960s. I remember her somewhat. Betty, who was ten years older than me had a large store of memories of her.

We have many such heirlooms but we don't always know the history behind them. It is taking all of us to piece it all together along with other stories. As a genealogist I've been rather remiss at doing this and so now it us much harder and sometimes we just have to make the best connections we can.
What are some of the things that have been handed down through the generations in your family? Are there stories about items that have not survived? Write then down and share them with your family and with your friends here on the internet.


Monday, June 7, 2010

As Requested

Home. There really is no place like it. We had a wonderful trip, drove over 2,000 miles and found lots of treasurers. Not to mention visiting with my brother-in-law, Fay; great niece, Liz and her son, Trent.

I wasn't sure where I would start with sharing photos but since my dear friend, Windy, asked to see the prairie dog village I decided to start there.


This photo is along the highway between Lochbuie and Brighton, Colorado. Doug had never seen one before and was really amazed. I remember on those fishing trips with my grandparents watching them pop in and out of their holes as we passed. I realize they are just pests to gardeners and farmers but to me they are a joy to watch.

As soon as we stopped they sounded the alarm and all the prairie dogs disappeared down their holes. Except one.

He stayed on top of his mound sounding the alarm the entire time we were there. Brave little prairie dog.
As we were leaving for our trip home "Flat Stanley" posed with Fay and his great grandson. Even though
we have had much sadness in our family with the loss of my sister and niece, what a joy it is to get together
and share new memories with the youngest generation.



Thursday, June 3, 2010

Nearing the End of Our Trip

Here we are in Northglen. We had lunch at Olive Garden and I'm stealing a bit of time to check in at Barnes & Noble. Just bought the Summer 2010 Somerset Studio Gallery to peruse on the trip home.

My brother-in-law, great niece and her son went to Kansas today to visit his mother who is 97. She hasn't seen her great, great grandson yet. Doug and I are enjoying a day exploring.

We've been going through lots of stuff. Pictures, pictures and more pictures. Again, my camera is in the trunk of the car. I just don't like hauling too many things around. We found the trunk Daddy made in high school and a necklace my sister wore for a school picture that Liz remembers being told it was given to her by her great grandmother, Nellie. Liz carried it in her bouquet when she got married as something borrowed. It is beautiful and I'm guessing might have even come from Nellie's mother. Nobody knows those things anymore. We are just piecing bits and pieces of stories heard and memories together to make the best history we can.

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow" is playing on the intercom. What a beautiful song. I don't know who is singing.

Doug commented on seeing his first prairie dog village today. He is getting a kick out of them. They are everywhere. Maybe we can stop and get some pictures.

In the meantime, I'm trying to keep up with my 30/30 challenge journal and our travel journal. I haven't done any other art. We plan on starting home in the morning so I will be back to working on the prayer flags for Sarah Whitmire's class.

I'll be home in a couple of days and start sharing pictures then.

Hope you all are well. Think about your family stories. Start now so maybe you won't have the problems me are having in fitting things together.