Tattered Past

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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Inner Critics and Lace

My good friend and writing pal, Windy Lynn Harris, was one of the first to order an Inner Critic. Her enthusiastic response when she received her IC runs through my mind whenever I work on them.
Her words give me inspiration and confidence.

Last week Windy named her IC and wrote about that inner voice on her wonderful blog, The Backstory Cafe. The comments to her blog reminds us that we are the only ones fighting that critical voice.

I will remember Windy and Eye Roll every time I sort through my stash of buttons looking for just the right combination for each little critter.

Meanwhile, I have more ICs waiting for their eyes.

Other projects will come out of this large pile of vintage laces I found the other day.
They were smashed in to plastic bags and I really had no idea how much was there until I let them loose
on the living room floor. 

I sat and looked at the pile and tried to decide what to do with it all. I do have very limited storage and working space.

Two days later the pile was tamed into neat little piles. 

While sorting, many ideas for future projects wandered through my mind.
Wall hangings, pillows, journal covers...

As I sat at the eye doctor's office this morning I even pictured a pretty, lacy glasses case.
Can't be that hard, right?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Disasters

Well, I couldn't find the picture I wanted to post about childhood hobbies and collections so until I do I'm decided to write about disasters.

No, there's no logical reason for that. It just happens to be the pictures I did find. 

I've written quite often about my Great Grandmother Nellie Grace Keith Martin. I have a few memories of her and oddly one of the strangest is my cousin crying at her funeral. He was only a year older than me but obviously understood what was going on more than I did. I just remember confusion... he was experiencing real grief.

Nellie was born in Perry County, Illinois in 1878 to John Riley and Nancy Ann Thompson Keith. When she was about six years old they made the long wagon trek to southwestern Kansas and settled southeast of Dodge City. In 1900 Nellie married William Albert Martin. He left her a few years later and she later filed for divorce.

Whenever I asked my grandmother to describe her mother the first word that came up was industrious. Nellie baked bread to sell, ran a switchboard and a boarding house. By the time I have memories of her she was in an old folks home. This picture is pretty much how I remember her but I don't know how much is real memories and how much is seeing this picture over the years.

I have many doilies and other handiwork she did during her life time. The time print on this photo is December 1961. By this time she was living in the Bethel Home in Montezuma, Kansas. The same place where I was kept in an incubator after I was born. I do remember her room. Nellie lived on an upper floor and her bed was to the left of the door. She lived here until her death in 1963.

It is a miracle she did live to this time because sometime in the summer of 1960 Nellie was living in another home. I don't remember where it was but I do remember visiting it soon after the gas explosion which demolished the entire building.

I can still feel what it was like standing around as my mom and other family members talked about the miracle of Nellie climbing out one of those windows following the explosion. Nellie was always a very large woman and around 82 years old at the time so we are lucky we had her with us for three more years.

Although the memory is dim I will never forget standing there trying to understand what had happened. I was about seven years old. I didn't understand what a natural gas explosion was or why it was so miraculous Grandma Great (as we called her) survived. I only understood being scared of that building and of the demeaner of my mother.

Does your family have stories of surviving disasters? How do they make you feel? 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Old Journals and Diaries

I am part of a book discussion group that meets at the local Barnes & Noble every month. Our leader, Phyllis, gathers a list of books and we vote on the ones we would like to read (along with her other book groups.) From that she puts together a list for the next six months.

The first book for 2011 was The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel. Lily is a young journalist in New York City who returned to her apartment building one evening to find they had cleared out the basement of belongings left there by former tenants. There were trunks, clothing, and other items dating back to the early part of the 20th Century. Sadly most of the belongings ended up in dumpsters. Lily got her hands on a small red leather diary with a metal clasp.

She read the book and felt a connection to the teenager who had kept the diary in the late 1920s. Little did she know as she read and reread passages in that journal that she would one day meet that girl as a woman in her 90s and that there really would be a connection between the two of them.

The discussion group is made up mostly of women from their 30s to their 80s with all different backgrounds. When Phyllis asked us if any of us kept a diary only a couple of us raised our hands. We talked a bit about how most people in times gone by kept detailed journals. We've all heard about or even read the published diaries of pioneer women, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and various Civil War soldiers. 

We talked about journals kept by our families and many wished they had one from a great or second great grandparent. There aren't any such things in my family. If great grandmother Nellie kept a diary it didn't survive. How I would love to find something like that. I do have a transcription of the journal kept by a neighbor in the 1880s. It is a treasure. Nellie is mentioned a few times in the day-to-day life of the woman. It helps me picture Nellie at that time.

This photo is of Nellie when she was a young school teacher in Southwestern Kansas. It is one of the few photos we have from that time. In her hand is a book and a bell.

Do you have a diary from one of your ancestors? Are you keeping one for those who follow you? (I mean a physical diary that they can hold in their hands like Nellie is holding that book in the photo.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Highly Prized

Last evening I was in the back yard watering the bushes and trees and kept hearing an unfamiliar chirping in the big old pine tree. I looked and looked and finally spotted this bright and energetic guy up near the top.

I ran inside and got my camera and was so happy he stayed around for a while longer even though he kept himself hidden among the branches and pine cones.

I don't think I have ever seen a cardinal in Phoenix.

I was pretty much shooting blind as I couldn't really see well, even with the camera. When I previewed them it was fun to also see the moon in the photo.

It is way off on the left
hand side and the cardinal
is just off the left center.
Made my day!!

Seeing the cardinal just emphasized my choice for the Sketchbook Challenge prompt for this month:

Highly Prized.        

Since I had my cataract surgery on my right eye I have been having numerous problems and I haven't been able to see correctly. Finally, I am supposed to get my new contact in a few days. I so appreciate my eyes so I did my sketch of  my eyes. (Tried anyway.) The left side is from a photo I took of my grandsons while we were out on a walk this summer. People I Highly Prize.

It has been pretty amazing to see what people have come up with for this prompt: children, spouses, homes, pets, books, quiet moments with a cup of tea, exploring Blogland, and hands. Many people have done more than one sketch. I think I could fill this sketchbook and still have many more to go.

What are some of your Highly Prized items?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Childhood Performances

Children love to be the center of attention. Many thrive on stage. I never did but I do remember three times I was in a school play. I feel like there must have been more but I sure don't remember them.

The first one I remember was in second grade when I went to live with my grandparents for the year. We put on a Christmas pageant and I was a gift. I can still remember all us little girls with big boxes around our bodies trying to get down a narrow hallway and on the stage without being crushed. It seems to me the boxes were about 4 feet square but then I was pretty small. The love of my life, at that time, Jon, was a clown. More about him another time.

For the second play I was back at home and going to E. E. Morrison Elementary. I don't have any idea what the play was or what part I had. All I remember is my mom coming in late and sitting pretty much center front. She had on her police uniform and I was so proud.

She was the chief dispatcher and that's her sitting in front. I don't remember any of the other women.

The third play was in 8th grade after we moved to Arizona. I had gone to junior high for almost two years in Kansas and was so looking forward to being a big ninth grader. Instead we arrived in Phoenix on Easter Day and I had to go back to grade school because that's the way that district was set up.

We did a follies type show and I was in the chorus line while another girl mimed "Georgie Girl."
Remember that song. It still drives me nuts.

What programs were you in as a child? Tell us about your experiences. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sketchbook Projects

This seems to be the year for sketching. I see it as part of the trend to get back to basics, simplify, and take pleasure in the little things.
After all the dictionary defines sketch as 1: a rough drawing or outline, 2: a short or light literary composition (as a story or essay).

My sister, Betty, was one of those people who could sit down with a pencil and paper or even dip pen and paper and come up with a sketch of most anything you could ask for. She did it all her life.

I've tried off and on to follow her example but the last year or so all the forces seem to be coming together for me to get serious about sketching. Last year I did a workshop through the A.R.T. group based on Carla Sonheim's book, "Drawing Lab: For Mixed-Media Artists." I also did part of a workshop based on "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain." Both of these helped me fall in love with drawing and sketching all over again.

Now there's the Sketchbook Challenge. This month we are to do a sketch of "something precious." Simple as that. With all that's been going on with my eyes I have been very strongly reminded that they are one of my most precious things. So I'm working on a sketch of my eyes along with my grandsons going on a walk. It isn't completed yet but I am enjoying it so much. You can see one of my favorite sketch artists here. Nikira sketches the way I want to, one day.

Another challenge that some of my friends have taken on; is taking a photograph every day. I'm spread too thin but it does have me thinking about my camera more. I've decided to take pictures of each part of my house. Today I did the back yard:
That is Holly, our rescue pigeon. She was hit by a car in front of our house and had a broken wing and other injuries. I nursed her back to health and she now lives in the aviary where I used to raise cockatiels.

I am always drawn to trees and the sunlight on this eucalyptus was eye catching.

Last but not least, my Maggie and her beautiful eyes.

Enjoy your everyday life through sketching, photographs, writings or just taking the time to notice the little things. We live in a beautiful world.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: River of Time

I was drawing a blank on what to write about this week. Feeling just a little under the weather or something. But, since the main topic of conversation seems to be the weather I decided to find any older family photos that had snow in them. The first one is Grandma Jennie. I'm not sure where this is except it's a small town in Southwestern Kansas. They lived in Spearville and Fowler where my grandfather was a barber.

The next picture is Jennie's mother, Nellie, and five of her six children. That's my mom on the far right. She never did like having her picture taken but I imagine here she's wishing they'd hurry up and get the photo done so she could go inside.
So we have three generations. There are three more generations of girls and one boy since then. Think about it. That many generations in such a short amount of time: just over 100 years.

I just finished reading a fascinating book about writing historical fiction. In it, James Alexander Thom talks about how we are all part of a river of time. Nellie came to Kansas in a covered wagon and here she's pictured with her grandkids and a car. Her father was a stone mason and built the house behind them; block by block. My sister was born in that house and it is still standing as far as I know. My mom was the eldest of her generation and my sister was the eldest of her generation. They both saw the advent of television, microwaves and cell phones.

When you start putting your ancestors into the river of time they start becoming more real. The man who built this house was of the age to serve in the Civil War although for some reason he didn't. So think about that, I hugged a woman who had been hugged by someone from the time of the Civil War. Kind of puts it in a new perspective, doesn't it?

Where do your ancestors fit in to the river of time?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

National Nearly Everything Month

Roni over at Ink Stains listed some of the celebrations and events for January. I found it very interesting that this is Celebrate the Past Month, International Creativity Month, National Book Month, National Hobby Month and National Letter Writing Month. WOW! Some of my absolute favorite things are being honored this month.

I spent the morning looking at the challenges I have joined: The Sketchbook Challenge here, The Strathmore
Online Workshop here and Milliande's Art Journal January here. With all these workshops and the resulting practice I hope to see a lot of improvement in my own sketches this year.

Meanwhile, I've been busy in my Corner Studio making Remains of the Day style journals, Inner Critics, and wall hangings.

When I was visiting the Grandsons this summer we went on daily walks and collected treasures. So for Christmas I made each of them a treasure box. This is Alexander's...
And this is Brendan's. The images came from a wonderful children's book I found at the thrift store.

The last thing I want to share is the wall hanging I did for KC Willis' class. Although she warned about the type of images we used I just had to do something connected to Elvis. This is mine and it has a prize spot on my wall. If you aren't familiar with this wonderful online class you can find out more here.
So here we are with a whole new month and a whole new year to look forward to. There is certainly plenty to keep us all busy. I'm off to work in my sketchbooks.
Happy New Year One And All.