Tattered Past

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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Birds of Prey

On the West side of our house is a very tall eucalyptus tree. We have a standing debate in our house about getting this tree trimmed. I always vote "no."

Now the neighbor across the street has weighed in as a "no" because he is delighting in the birds our tree attracts . . . because it is tall and those empty top branches give them a great view.

This is an osprey (we believe) that he caught a couple of weeks ago. We were gone but he said half the neighborhood was standing around looking at our tree. Osprey live on fish so if this is one we wonder how he is doing here in the desert . . . although there are lakes in the area.               
                                    Last week he watched a hawk enjoying the view.

Pretty soon another hawk appeared and chased the first one away.

Aren't these birds amazing?

We also have a visiting owl but we haven't gotten any photos yet. We believe his/her nest is under one of the overpasses on the the local freeway. I LOVE waking up in the early morning hours and hearing him hoot, hoot, hooting away.

There are so many surprises in the desert, in the city and wherever you may be if you just keep your eyes and ears open.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Class Reunion

Saturday night was my 40 year class reunion. The attendance was down but we had a great time. It always amazes me how some people change and some stay just the same. Both in looks and personality. Most of us have mellowed: there were a couple who were still snobs.

I attended East High School in Phoenix which was new then and has since been torn down. I am envious of people who can actually go to homecoming and visit their school at the time of reunions.
The girl on the end of the front row with the long hair and her hand in front of her face was at the reunion. She still has beautiful hair. The other one in the middle of the row and turned partially around was there too. I can't really see most of the faces. I was in the back. When I got married I went from a "W" last name to an "A."

One of the guys, Jim, saved Everything. He had all the yearbooks, newspapers, fliers, programs and anything else in the paper area. It was amazing.

Here's everybody that was at the reunion from our class. (There were some other classes there also.)
My husband was way off to the side taking this but he did pretty good. I'm sitting on the right with the white patterened shirt.

Our school colors were red and purple which I hated but now I see that the combination is popular. Who would have thought. Our mascot was the Longhorns which caused a lot of ribbing because the school was a few blocks from the feedlots and packing company. It was especially bad when we had a home game and the wind was in the "wrong" direction.

We split up into the grade schools we had attended. There were quite a few that "fed" into the high school. I actually only attended Balsz a month as we had just moved down from Kansas. That is another story.

One of our classmates is a professional photographer so I look forward to seeing his photos. I took quite a few and when we all got together my husband took some. It's really funny how he wasn't very involved at his school (Scottsdale High) and when we went to his ten year reunion he didn't know anybody. He's found people he knows or have common interests or friends at all my reunions (we've only missed one.) This year it was our student body president, Doug, who knew my husband's step-father and used to have lunch with him about every week. Doug was very excited to meet my Doug and talk about Lee.

My favorite part of the evening was sitting with old friends going through yearbooks. I was on the yearbook staff but also I just love those memories.

What memories do you have of your high school or one of your reunions?

Monday, October 24, 2011

BFF - Best Friends Forever

When I was 12 years old a new girl came to town. She lived catty-corner across the alley and we quickly became best friends forever. One time we went to Dodge City, Kansas with my mom and I introduced her to my favorite place: the Longhorn Saloon (sarsparilla) and Boot Hill in general.

That's Lydia on the left and me on the right playing tourist. Boot Hill was great back then, all open and easy to get around. Sadly that has changed but that is another blog post, or not.

We moved to Arizona the next spring and a few months after that Lydia's family moved back to Florida. We have stayed in touch ever since. In school we wrote volumes, maybe why never really journaled. I had Lydia to write with all my teenage woes.

Our birthdays are one day apart and we still exchange gifts. Lydia has an amazing ability to come up with cool stuff. She has sent me Winnie The Pooh books, an Elvis tote bag, Chronicles of Narnia books, jewelry and always caring thoughts.

This year it was a book and mug from Suzy Toronto. They are great. I look forward to lots of inspiration from both but especially the tea I plan on putting in the mug.

Lydia put in a special request for an Inner Critic so I sent her one of those along with a couple of other things. I can just picture her poking the IC and zipping his mouth as she works in the family business office.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Birth Day

Last week I found this little camera on sale for $5.19 at Walgreens. It isn't great but it is lightweight which makes me happy in this time when I am trying to lighten all my loads but still want to come up with photos for my blog.

I had to head to the Arizona State Archives today and put the camera to the test. This building was opened about three years ago after much hard work by many people.

After I finish with my client work I always spend a little time working on my own projects. It is a 30 minute drive so I don't just run down there much anymore.

Today I decided to check the Graham County, Arizona deeds for Doug's Martin family. This is the same family we worked on in Washington. I've felt for awhile that Doug's great grandmother was Jane Remley Martin but I hadn't found her full name in any of the records.

On November 29, 1893 Jane Remley Martin and her husband, James Martin of Solomonville sold a lot in that town to Lydia C. Dowdle. It is unusual for a wife's name to be listed like this, with her maiden name. I don't remember ever seeing it and it is almost always James Martin and wife, Jane Martin.

What I love about research is the mystery, the puzzles and finding the answer. This felt like one great birthday present. So even though Doug was sent to Tucson for the rest of the week I had a pretty good day.

Of course stopping at Starbucks for a large hot chai and a peanut butter cupcake sure didn't hurt. Because the cupcake was a mini I also had an orange/cranberry scone. Yum.

I'll close with a photo of the purple sage. My little camera did pretty good.

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes and thanks to Jane for helping me find her full name.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Birthdays

My birthday is tomorrow. Here's a picture of my mother holding me at about four or five months. I was a very small baby, born at home, in the middle of the night. I got conflicting stories but one was that my drunken father had lit in to mom and brought on labor 2 or 3 months early. I caught a cold and spent a couple of months in an incubator in the small town clinic. I weighed around four pounds. The doctor always called me his miracle baby. Frankly, I think that woman in the plaid dress was a miracle mom. I has her sixth baby. My sister the oldest than a few miscarriages and a baby brother who lived a couple of days. How my mom lived through that is impossible to comprehend.

This is my mother holding my daughter at about 4 months. Jessica didn't want to come in to the world and I was in labor for 18 hours but no other problems and she never had any health issues as a child.

Mom was so proud of her. Since my sister's family lived in another state she wasn't able to be around my niece and nephew when they were babies. Or when my niece had her babies. Jessica was ten when we lost her Nana. While I was in Washington this summer we talked a lot about her memories of Nana. Mostly that there was always lots of food. Mom loved to cook and she was an amazing cook.

I miss my mom. Jessica misses her but her memories aren't as strong. Because of that amazingly strong lady we are both here. She left us an amazing legacy.

Tell us about your mom, your birth and the connections that reach into this time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Writers Inspiration Group

About six or seven years ago I took a creative writing class at the local community college. I learned a lot and made friends with one of the classmates, Cindi.

We both love to write although she's more of a poet and children's writer and I do non-fiction and history. We got to talking because we both have fibromyalgia and other issues and we had daughters graduating from the same school. We just hit it off and became good friends.

We kept trying to challenge each other to write but there wasn't enough of whatever we needed to keep doing it. About the same time we discovered the book, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg. This book is an absolute must for anybody who wants to do any writing. Through various prompts and very short essays Natalie teaches how to do the stream-of-consciousness type of writing that just gets the words down on the page.

And an example of one of the essays.

Cindi and I finally decided to start a little group of writers using prompts and ideas from this book. We wouldn't critique or judge. We would just get together and write. I talked to an acquaintance at the local Barnes & Noble and we set it up to meet in the coffee shop on Tuesdays. Our first meeting was October 11, 2005.

The group we named the Writers Inspiration Group or WIG; celebrated it's sixth anniversary today. Most of the people who joined the first few months are still members. We have met EVERY Tuesday except holidays and the day Sarah Palin was to do a book signing at the store. (Actually we just moved to another location for that day so we did meet.) Either Cindi or I have been at every meeting except one.

The amazing thing is how the group has grown to be a close knit group of friends. We have dinners and parties and join each other at writing events around the Valley of the Sun. We cheer when somebody gets something published and give ideas when somebody is stuck on a project. I am often at a loss for words when it comes to describing the members of the group, the energy and the connections.

We still give two or three prompts every Tuesday and we write. Over the years we started reading what we write and sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry . . . but we never critique or judge.

Here are a few prompts we have used in the past. The trick is to take the prompt and start writing without worrying about what you write, grammar, or even if it makes sense. Just write. The first prompt is one Natalie Goldberg says to use over and over.

I remember when . . .

Use these three words in a story, essay or poem: cake, coffee shop, rain

Describe a travel mishap (if you don't have one of your own make one up)

Describe a day at the beach using all five senses

What is your favorite season and why?

If you were a super hero, who would you be?

Get the idea? Try writing a few things and you will be amazed at what you come up with. Let me know how it goes. Perhaps you could start a similar group in your area. There are always writers looking for other writers to find inspiration.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Today's Ponderings

Our country’s flag ripples in the wind, a cool wind that hints of autumn
even here in the desert where the temperatures run in the triple digits for months on end.
The smells on the wind are drowned out by the café mocha (with whipped cream)
that sits by the side of my laptop. I used to hate going anywhere alone. A feeling left
over from a lonely childhood or peer pressure during adolescence that convinced me
that being alone meant nobody wanted to be with me.

Even if being alone was by my own choice.

Now in my 50’s I  treasure being alone. To write mostly. I think nothing of heading to
the local Starbucks or Barnes & Noble for a few hours with the keypad or
pen and paper.

Today is even more special because I can sit outside for the first time in months.
I can enjoy the breeze in my hair and even the sound of traffic.
The day started out bad with more pain than usual after a restless night. And fasting for
routine blood work. Sitting in the office crowded with people including a man next to
me who smelled of stale cigarettes and sweat. I felt the bad mood building.

I went home and had breakfast, petted the dog and tried to figure out what to do with my day;
feeling more lost and depressed as time went on. My husband called and convinced me to get out of
the house and get a coffee or chai. Spend some time with my laptop and enjoy the beautiful day.
On the way here I started noticing things that made me smile:

A license plate that I read as Happy Grammy (Hpy Grmy)

And a young guy riding a bicycle with a dog trailer behind .. . . 
a Chihuahua peeking out, enjoying the view and the cool breeze.

A couple on a three wheeler bicycle, like my grandma used to ride, the driver a young guy with long
curly hair and in the basket on the back a young women in scrubs; long blond hair flying in the wind. 

It’s time to start enjoying our wonderful lifestyle here in the desert. Doug and I have made plans to

become tourists and go out and about with camera, Flat Stanley and adventurous hearts. Sitting
outside feels like when we visited Seattle and had lunch at a little bistro near the wharf. Sometimes it
takes looking at where you are in a different way to truly appreciate it.

I’m smiling and I do believe the world is smiling back.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Church Memories

This picture is the Church of God in my hometown of Great Bend, Kansas. The couple standing in the back is my Great Uncle Bill Wilburn, (Preacher) and his wife Ruby.

I remember those pews so well. I remember sitting with my Mom. That window in the back was the nursery and allowed the person caring for the babies to see and hear the sermon.
That's my Mom in the upper right corner with my sister next to her with the glasses. I was sitting in the second row with the other young children. The white scratch is through my face.

My Mom had various ways of keeping me entertained during the sermon. One was to make babies in a blanket from her handkerchief.
They looked like this.

This was one of the handkerchiefs my mother embroidered. Isn't it lovely? See the little "babies" peaking out from the blanket with the flowers?
To make these fold the handkerchief in half.

Then roll up opposite corners to make the babies.
Pull the other corners up behind and in front of the babies to make their little blanket.

I remember these so well. They were one of the ways my Mom showed her love for me.
I still get a warm feeling when I make them for myself.

Do you have special little memories from church or some other quiet time with your parents?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thirty-Five Years Ago

At this exact time, thirty-five years ago, Doug and I were heading north to Colorado for our honeymoon. We were married at the First Christian Church in Phoenix, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, on Oct. 2, 1976. Through thick and thin we've managed to hold together.

Today we went to Joe's Crab Shack for an early dinner (we both hate crowds) and had crab stuffed mushrooms and the steamed crab buckets. Here we are waiting for our food:

We have to go to Tempe to get to a Joe's so we enjoy making a day of it. To "walk it off" we went to Tempe Marketplace and browsed the stores. I was excited to find that Bath and Body Works have returned to the lavender/vanilla pillow spray. They had a different scent for awhile. This is like the original one and I LOVE it.

For desert we split a scone sitting by the fountains in front of Barnes & Noble.
The sun was starting to set and it was really nice out.

On the way home we pass through the Reservation along the north end of Scottsdale. I took a few pictures along the way. Then I noticed a big heart in the clouds. By the time we got past some underpasses and big buildings the heart was gone.

A few minutes later we saw this rainbow.

It doesn't show up real well but you can see it coming out of the bottom of the clouds right out of the McDowell Mountains.

I can't decide which is better. The darker one has a better setting in front but I also like the flags.

Anyway, it was a wonderful day. Relaxing and full of togetherness.

I wonder what the next 35 years have in store for us.