Tattered Past

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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Handmade Christmas

I've been busy doing crafts for friends and for my etsy shop. These are some silver spoons and games tiles I inked.

They will be put together in various combinations. I love how the colors turn out.

Meanwhile I've been receiving wonderful handmade gifts. A beautiful tag from my friend Janet and try as I might I couldn't get a decent picture so you'll just have to take my word for it. lol
A crocheted and lace ornament from Lee is Australia. Again no photo.

I did get a good photo of this little Alpaca bag from Karen. I'm using it for a wallet. Behind it is a lovely candle from Ellie. Thank You All.
These things have been especially precious as my husband lost his job two weeks ago. We are doing okay and since it is just the two of us we are fine with just a nice dinner. We had already sent off the gifts to kids and grandkids. We have our home, plenty of food and good friends near and far.
Yesterday we had an unexpected visitor. This hawk was in our tree and then down on our back fence. Such wonderful birds.

Here's Maggie our Catahoula with her Christmas bandanna. She has one for every holiday and mood.
Merry Christmas from our home to yours.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Imagine That

Imagine my surprise when I picked up the phone this morning and it was my grandson, Brendan, telling me he saw his puppy on the computer. He was so excited. See my last post here.

When my daughter got on the phone and explained what was going on I asked her to write the story up to share:

Hi, Mom. About a month ago, Brendan kept wanting to sleep with me at bedtime. He was very upset when I told him he had to sleep in his bed. When I asked him why he wanted to sleep in my bed so bad he said "because I miss you, Mommy". So, I tried to think of something that I could give him, to sleep with. Then I thought of my "Puppy". When I gave it to him, I told him that this puppy was very special and I loved it very much. I told him that when he sleeps with it at night, and it would be like he is with me. He got a huge smile on his face and went right to sleep. He has slept with it every night since, and also makes sure that he has it at nap time. When I was reading your blog today, I showed Brendan the picture and asked him who was in it. He screamed, "It's my Puppy!!" It makes me feel so good, that a special toy I had growing up, can now bring my son comfort. I keep trying to remember who gave me that puppy, but it really doesn't matter. All that matters, is what it meant to me, and now means to Brendan.

P.S. I still think those ornaments are ugly! :-P"

Imagine That!?!

I don't remember who sent it either. But to have the photo and now have this photo is PRICELESS.

Happy Holiday Memories

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Baby's First Christmas

I was going to try and find another holiday photo from my own childhood but decided this might be better.

Two weeks ago I posted a picture of my first Christmas. This is my daughter's first Christmas. We were at my mother's house and as you can see Mom loved to decorate.
I don't remember what else Jessica got that year or even much of what happened but she did have that stuffed puppy for a long time.

Look closely at the bottom of the tree, right in the middle.. . . see that pink ornament with the gold balls around the outside? I remember when we bought those. It was at Gibson's in Great Bend, Kansas. It's funny that one of the set is on the tree from my 11th Christmas which I posted last week.

Ironically, I picked those ornaments out and Jessica always said they were the ugliest ornaments we had. Ugly or pretty they still have a place in our family history.

Blog Award

My friend Amy over at tbn ranch
always inspires me or gives me a much needed chuckle with her zany outlook on life, animals and getting by.

Amy is a great poet, animal groomer, horse, dony and chicken owner and who knows what else.

Amy has honored me with a This Candle Lighter Award for blogs which bring light to the world, through positive and uplifting writing. Thank you, Amy.

I pondered this over night and have come up with two blogs that I feel especially meet the criteria.

http://www.alittlerain.com/uncategorized/life-after-cancer/ is my friends blog about being diagnosed with cancer and beating it. Now she is moving on in a strong, awe inspiring post-cancer life. Go spend a little time with Elaine and learn what a true fighter is.

Carmen inspires me in a different way. Her posts read like poetry and she is always sharing her wonderful artwork with the world. Drop by and pay her a visit at http://www.couragetocreatewriteandlove.com/

If you receive this award, there’s more good news… there’s no rules! You can pass it along if you like or just let me know you received the message. Congratulations Ladies, thank you Amy and Happy Holidays to One and All.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Little Bit of Joy

The other day a bit of joy arrived in my post office box. I won a lovely vintage style stocking from Lilla Le Vine in Honolulu. You can see it here. While you are there take a look around at her wonderful vintage/Paris inspired projects.
This is it but my photo isn't near as good as hers.

Inside the stocking were some pretty little tags which I am putting to good use.

Every year the Phoenix Writers Club has a book exchange as part of the Christmas party. Everybody is supposed to bring in a slightly used/or new book and tell us about it. Then we draw numbers to see who gets to choose from the always interesting pile of books. Sound nice? Take a book and get a book?

Well, here's the twist. If you have a book you really want somebody who wants that book and has their turn later can take that book (certain restrictions apply.) Then you get to go choose from the book table again. This goes on for quite some time and it is always fascinating to see which books people end of "fighting" over. I remember last year These Is My Words by Nancy Turner was very popular. It happens to be one of my all-time favorite books.

So Lilla's pretty little tags have been stuck to the books I am taking and one punched and hung from the bag with the numbers along with a couple of little bells. They look very nice.

Here's the books from today's exchange. Paris Wife was the most popular this year.

Some of my Inner Critics held court on the back table and one went home as a door prize.

Thank you, Lilla. For the lovely
stocking and just for sending me some "joy."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday Art

Every Thursday afternoon my friend, Barbara, and I meet at Barnes & Noble for coffee/tea
and art time. Today we spent about 3.5 hours and I did another owl. When I started working on
him I expected him to become "psychedelic" as the one from a couple of weeks ago but he had a
mind of his own.
Barbara says he needs a name but we didn't come up with one. Any ideas?
The owl was done in my Canson Mix Media: multi-media spiral bound book, 7 x 10 with a .35 Rapidosketch pen and colored pencils.
I haven't decided on a background. Maybe there won't be one. This was very
relaxing and a big surprise to me.

Yes, I'm a Writer

During the Writers Inspiration Group first six years we have had many memorable moments. Sometimes something a person writes, or says, or a kindness one does or a new member with something to say.

One of my favorite memories is when Arzani showed up for the first time after being invited by another member. Arzani introduced herself and said, "I'm not a writer, I just wanted to see what you were all about."

Arzani fit right in and kept coming saying she felt so at home with the group. 
She proved quickly to all of us that YES! she was a writer.
A couple of months later National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo) started and Arzani
 jumped on the bandwagon to write a book of 50,000 in 30 days.

The Legacy of Violetta Rose was born and before we knew it Arzani had published her book on CreateSpace and was doing book signings. You can find more about her and the book here.

After 20 years in Arizona she and her husband decided it was time to move on and experience a new place. The day after Thanksgiving they left for Oregon. She sent this photo this week:
They are experiencing a lot besides a new location. (We don't get much snow here in Phoenix.)

As her departure date neared we started thinking of something special to do for her. Cindi wrote a poem and we had everybody sign it. Then I turned it in to a mixed-media piece of art.
I love doing these types of collages. Lots of paint, gesso, stamps, ephemera,
fibers and charms. Arzani was delighted.

So here's to Arzani and her new life.
We miss you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Anniversary and Goals

Two years ago this month I wrote my first blog post. You can see it here. The one and only comment I received was by my friend Lisa who said I would soon be addicted. She was right!

Oddly it seems that December is my month to accomplish things. I think that is partly because I stay home more to avoid the crowds and traffic.

This fall my goal was to get a new Web site up for my genealogical and historical research business. It went up this week and you can visit it here. I still have some tweeking and more stuff to add but there it is and I'm feeling happy about that.

I also added some Inner Critics, a wall hanging and some ROD style journals to my Etsy shop.

Another postcard from my grandfather's collection. This one is dated Jan. 22, 1910 and is from his sister Ruth Covey.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Christmas Milestones

 Our family didn't take many pictures on an average day but holidays, visiting family and moves seemed to always bring out the camera. Milestones, graduations and birthdays, usually start the shutter bugs. Funny I don't have a single picture from a birthday and I don't remember any birthday parties.

 There are still milestones . . . like the year I got my first record player.
Christmas 1965 I was falling in love with the Beatles (can you see the album already tucked proudly on the stand?) and others.

I was 12 and heading in that in-between time when I still wanted my Barbies but wanted to be "grown-up" too. Times sure were different then. I think girls go through that at 5 now. But no matter. I played lots and lots of music on that record player and although it is long gone I still have most of my record album collection (and something to play it on.)

By the way, I still have some of those ornaments, too.

What milestones in your life coincided with holidays?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Owls Have It

My friend, Barbara, and I have started meeting at Barnes & Noble every Thursday to share coffee/tea, companionship and creativity.

Last week I started on this owl from a magazine ad.

I then gave the torn out page to Barbara to do with as she pleased. Imagine
my surprise when I went through my blog roll this morning and found this.

You can read more about this fun owl at her blog and also see another way she challenged herself.

What fun it is to share something we both enjoy. I've been trying so many new things since I met Barbara and really appreciate her friendship and creativity.

The owl was done in a Canson Mix Media 7x10 art pad with a Rapidosketch .50 pen. I'm trying to decide if I want to add some color. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Letter To Santa

I've often written about my writing group: The Writers Inspiration Group. We get together every Tuesday and somebody gives out prompts and we write for about ten minutes and then read whatever we came up with; if we want. No editing, no critiquing.

What is so amazing is how we often write the same things, or a prompt hits one (or more) of us in the gut. That happened today as Susanne gave us holiday stationery and told us to write a letter to Santa. We could choose a piece of paper with a person on it as the writer (I pulled out "a doctor") or as ourselves or whomever.

The doctor prompt didn't do anything for me but I kept thinking about that two-month-old me I wrote about this morning. So I wrote the letter from "me." It was a very strange feeling to think about what I might have wished for.

Here's my letter:

Then I got home and a friend had left a comment on this morning's post about whether I was talking about the "tear" in the photo or "tears" of the child. It was funny because when I wrote that as "tear" I wasn't sure I was spelling it right because eye tears came to mind. Does that make any sense? lol

This may all seem a bit nonsensical but I wanted to share how writing a simple blog post has touched me during the day and I'm sure will continue to touch me as I think about my family. I don't mean to be sad or anything about this, it's just the way it is and was. It makes me who I am and sometimes coincidences happen to make us appreciate our lives.

Tuesdays With Rita: First Christmas

I was thinking about Christmas Past and realized I don't have
many pictures or memories of Christmas as a child.
Sorting pictures back through time I found these two of me and my first Christmas.
My parents and ten-year-old sister were living in a tiny trailer on the main street
of Montezuma, Kansas. Next door was the cafe they owned.
I was born in this trailer in the middle of October. The trailer
was so small my sister had to sleep on the couch.

I can almost feel my Mother's love while studying this picture. I wonder what she was thinking.
I'm intrigued by those costumed dolls on the shelf. They must have been my sister's collection.
They must have been lost in the many moves my family went through
as I don't remember them being around.

Excuse the tearing on this photo. It must have been stuck to another one but it is one
of the few I have of my Father holding me. See my little eye peeking out through the tears?
Even though things didn't work out and I don't have any memories of my dad I can
feel how much he loved me too.
My sister never liked having her picture taken. I can picture Mom and Dad trading of the old box Kodak to get pictures of each of them with their new baby.

Do you have pictures of your first Christmas? Have you been told stories about it?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Clanton Days

Terry "Ike" Clanton is quite a character. He is a distant cousin of the original Ike Clanton who played a key roll in the events surrounding the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Terry has taken it upon himself to set the record straight about what happened that infamous day in Tombstone, Arizona.

Terry is an actor, announcer, and host of the Haunted Saloon. You can learn more about "Ike" here.

This year my husband and I attended the 18th Annual Clanton Days Rendezvous after a hiatus of three years. We didn't let our friends know we were coming and what fun it was to watch their faces especially since I now wear glasses.

We were only there one night so missed some of the festivities such as Terry's Tour of Tombstone, from the Clanton Point of View. The gunfight reenactment at the O.K. Corral itself. And dinner and liars and costume contests on Friday night.

We showed up at the Tombstone Livery on Saturday night. We dressed Western but not in costumes.  There were our old friends and some new friends to make. We had a chuck wagon style dinner with bean, salad, potatoes and dutch oven brisket. Yum.
Owner of the place, Cowboy Doug, entertained with stories, cowboy fashions and roping tricks.

Our friend, Susanne, sang "God Bless America" dressed as the Western heroine Annie Oakley.
Terry "Ike" Clanton (left) and Ben T. Traywick, retired town historian, answered questions about history and the Town Too Tough to Die.

Later Steven "Doc Holliday" Keith introduced us to his faro table at on Fifth Street and told us about the history of the legendary figure of "Doc."

A grand ol' time was had by all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Human Irritants

On one of my Yahoo groups we got on the subject of people we would like to give a wake-up call in some way. It got comical as one member wants a dart gun so she can shoot idiots on television, another wants a tank to run through certain areas of government or crowded stores and then they came up with those air horns they use at sports events for people who block doorways.

Some of us yell or make snide remarks or sometimes just move shyly away but we don't really do anything about it and then we have to decide if we are going to let it ruin our day (which is a whole different subject.)

What I really noticed about this conversation was that we all hate the same kinds of things, have had the same types of experiences and wish we could just stand up and do Something. Reading what others had to write and their suggestions on how to deal with the human irritants was therapeutic in itself. I actually found myself chuckling.

So here's a list of human irritants and a few ideas on how to deal with them. I hope you get a few chuckles.

1. People in a crowd of slowing traffic stop in front of a store door or whatever and cause everybody else to have to wait while they stand in the doorway and check their cell phone or decide which way they want to go.

2. People on cell phones in restaurants.
3. People in line, say at the post office, who don't pay attention when they are being called to the counter.

4. People moving chairs around in a coffee shop or similar and not picking them up so there is a huge screeching noise.

5. People who stand in line and when it's their turn to pay change their minds, or have to dig for five minutes in their bag for their money, or actually want to run and get one more thing.

6. In stores where there is one line and the cashiers don't pay any attention to the person in front of that line and instead wait on whomever might be standing in their space.

7. Cell phones ringing during talks and plays and even worse . . . the people who answer them.

8. People who talk on the phone (or sometimes in person) with a piece of hard candy or wad of gum in their mouth.

9. Standing in front of a display looking at something and somebody steps right in front of me to look at the same thing.

10. Texting or talking on the phone while driving, walking in parking lots, in a crowd, or while someone is trying to talk.

11. Tailgaters.

Well, I could come up with more and I'm sure you each have your own list.

I'm sure you have all heard the trick of when you have to get up in front of a crowd and are very nervous picture them in their underwear. So what I'm thinking is if we all have funny things to picture when these irritating people get in our way then it will help us smile and move on.

As I was driving around today I pictured a big train horn to get people to pay attention. Or carry around a chopstick to poke people in the ribs when they get in the way or cause problems. How about a fake hand to take the candy. Slapstick type things come to mind.

Of course, we couldn't or wouldn't do these things but I bet you will remember this post and perhaps smile a bit next time you meet up with a human irritant.

How would you deal with some of the human irritants out there?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let's make it 222.

I am always amazed and inspired by my writing friend c.b. wentworth. She in turn has been inspired by other bloggers including Cindy Archer. On the linked blogpost Cindy Archer listed 22 things she has done and then 22 things she has not done. Entertaining and thought provoking.

C. B. turned the list into 22 things she is thankful for in reference to Thanksgiving in the U.S. One of the comments mentioned getting 22 people to do the same and then why not 222 people. Sounds good to me.

Since I already did a Thanksgiving list I'm going back to 22 Things About Me:

1. I've been working on my genealogy for about 30 years and have numerous colonial families.
2. I've never been East of the Mississippi.
3. I wrote the book "O.K. Corral Postscript: The Death of Ike Clanton"
4. I used to own a horse name Blaze.
5. I love sarsaparilla.
6. My favorite food is steamed snow crab.
7. I do "morning pages" almost every day.
8. I love wearing my boots, hat and buckskin fringed jacket.
9. I've seen Old Faithful, the giant redwoods, the Royal Gorge and the Grand Canyon.
10. I've accepted that I will never be able to read all the books that catch my interest.
11. I used to backpack into wilderness areas.
12. I have a nine room Victorian dollhouse.
13. I've been working on a book about my childhood for my daughter and it is taking way to long.
14. I enjoy learning new things.
15. I still have my first Barbie, Ken and Skipper.
16. I've never fired a gun.
17. I believe there is life besides here on Earth.
18. I never knew my dad.
19. I love Harry Potter and I'm currently going through all the movies, again.
20. I have lunch almost every Tuesday with a friend of 25+ years.
21. I hate cell phones in restaurants and bookstores.
22. I cherish all the keepsakes from family members who have passed away.

Make your own list of 22 things and link back to this post. Let's see if we can make it to 222 people.

p.s. Even if you don't share your list I found thinking about them made me really aware of how grateful I am for my life.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mandala Class

Over at Willowing and Friends Guadalupe Brizuela Cabal has started
a class in doing mandalas. You can find it here.

The class started last week but I haven't had much time to even watch
the videos until last night. Guadalupe gives us two templates to download.
I printed them on cardstock and the "kind-of" followed along with her
directions. I say "kind-of" because I always end up doing my own thing
with these classes.

Here's my mandala from the first template:

I used InkTense watercolor pencils which I love. This gave me a bit of a chance to practice blending but working on cardstock wasn't much fun.

So I tried my own design on watercolor paper and the pencils worked much better but it didn't fit on my scanner very well so the colors here aren't very good.

This has been fun and interesting. She used a compass and a triangle to get the designs and gives lots of information on "reference points" and "adding layers."

I look forward to learning a lot more from this workshop and want to send a special

If you haven't signed up go pay a visit. You will be amazed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Tiny Gratefulness

We spent the weekend in Tombstone, Arizona listening to boots on the boardwalk

and watching all the men in black frock coats (well, at least I did.)

Now I'm feeling a little brain dead.
It seemed the harder I tried to think of something special to write about this week the more the ideas eluded me.

Finally while waiting for my writing group to start today I had the idea I was looking for.

With Thanksgiving in the U.S. just two days away we are all thinking about family and turkey. It will just be the two of us and my husband is on call but I still look forward to the holiday. I am thankful for my family, my friends and his job but I wanted to go beyond that. So I decided to share five tiny things I'm thankful for:

1. Ladybugs that protect the garden and tickle my fingers.

2. Glitter that brightens a journal page, a card and a day.

3. Ice that makes my tea more refreshing.

4. Words that go together to make conversation, for communicating love and in the books I love to read.

5. Ink that swirls on the page to form the words and drawings to turn my journals into thought filled safes.

What are five tiny things you are thankful for?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Postcard Collections

What is it about postcards that attracts so many of us? Whether old or new, from places we've been or places we just want to go to, many people collect these wonderful bits of ephemera.

When my daughter was little we started collecting postcards for her. Where ever we went we came home with a handful of postcards. She still has that collection and now her son is starting his own. Every so often I send the boys each a postcard just for fun and to show them where I live. Arizona is far different than Washington and it is a bit hard for them to understand the distances but they enjoy the postcards.

A couple of weeks ago the leader of the day at my writing group used old postcards she had found at antique stores as prompts. We could write about the place shown or, even more fun, was reading the messages and writing as if we were the author or the recipient of those short bits of life.

I was reminded of the postcards my Granddad Covey collected. I ended up with a small envelope of them. It is so interesting to look through them.

Harold Cecil Covey was born in Harper, Kansas on October 14, 1899. His family were farmers and some of them are still in the area. I remember him as a very quiet, solemn, and stern man. He was a barber in a very small town up until he died.

Here's one of the postcards:

 The back says "Hello Cecil, Suppose you are having a fine time now as you don't have to go to school. Come out here and we will go swimming in the river. Harry" It is addressed to Master Cecil Covey, DuQuoin, Kansas and postmarked Jerome, April 1918.

 Wilburn, Nov. 1919. "Dear Cousin, How would you like to be run over by this big roller. I am well. How are you? Herbert" Wilburn was a tiny town near Fowler where my grandma lived. They were married January 22, 1922. I never heard how they met. It's fun to speculate.

This one is dated Fowler, June 27, 1909 and is also from Herbert. I wonder how Herbert chose to send this card to Cecil or if he even really looked at it. Cecil was only 11.

Here's a few others from the same time period.

Do you have a postcard collection? Are you drawn to these wonderful bits of history?

Just as these kitties are traveling as your visit family members during the holidays ask about their postcard collections. You might come up with some surprises in your family history.

(p.s. You can click on the postcards and print them out to use in your artwork.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Sharing Creativity

My husband often rides his mountain bike in the desert North of Phoenix. In the summer he rides at night with friends but since the temps have dropped he can ride during the day and see new and different things that are outside his flashlight beam.

Saturday he found trash art. There may be an official name for taking whatever is found in the desert and making it in to something but I don't know what it is.

This one has tires, metal, shotgun shells painted red, beer cans, bricks and wood.

 This one has dumped stone and brick, and topped off with a chair and lots of beer cans.
This is all on city land so he hopes some bureaucrats doesn't take it upon
themselves to tear these down.

A friend in Northern Arizona sent me this link:


The art is amazing but most of all I love that this guy just does it. No recognition needed. He just wants to spread the "word" of how he feels about the demise of our libraries and some of his own creativity.

The greatest part, perhaps, is that this happens in Scotland and the newspaper asked if people wanted to know who the artist is and the majority said no. Sadly, they mention this probably couldn't happen in America and I agree.

One of my points with all of this is mentioned in one of the blog comments. These artists are showing "unconditional love." They are sharing their thoughts, passion, time and creativity in a non-promoting manner.

For quite some time now I've wanted to make rocks to spread my thoughts to the world. They won't be anything like these sculptures but I hope they brighten someones day.

How could you spread the "word?"

Friday, November 4, 2011


I find inspiration all over the Internet through blogs, classes, workshops and all the wonderful people who share their own inspiration and warm hearts.

One of the blogs I look forward to reading is by Carmen at A Playground of Imagination, Beauty and Love. Carmen has a way with words and images and a truly wonderful view of the world.

A few weeks ago she shared a video of a vintage postcard book she made. You can see it here. I love it and commented that I would have to look for some postcards to make one of my own. Carmen answered and offered to send me a few to get started. As somebody who loves "stuff" I gladly accepted and pledged to send a package in return.

Well, Carmen's package arrived today and I was stunned, speechless and ecstatic.

See why?
This was the first layer, so to speak. As I opened all those little packages I kept finding more and more treasures. Including an old key. Something I had mentioned that I have been looking for.

Lots of amazing postcards for my own book.

Some amazing photos. Isn't that baby in the bowl wonderful?

I'm having trouble putting in words what I want to say. I'm touched that somebody I have only met on the Internet could be so generous. (She even sent a birthday card making it all a birthday present.)
I've been touched by many of her posts and look forward to her posts and now I can see how she really does make a difference by being her.
I hope one day we can share a hug but for now I just want to say

Thank you, Carmen.