Tattered Past

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

Friday, September 30, 2011

Things That Never Change

One of the things I have to do for my job as a genealogist and historian is scan old newspapers (and other records) for specific information. The other day I had to go through the Phoenix Daily Herald for early 1895. Here's one of the pages I chose at random and because I liked that add in the upper right-hand corner.

These newspapers are on microfilm and this is actually one of the better ones as far as clarity and ease of reading. Every time I have to do this it comes to me how much things really don't change.

In 1895 the schools were short on funding, a woman and her two children barely escaped a house fire, there were a couple of shootings and a stabbing, a new restaurant opened and the county prisoners were working on the road between Phoenix and Tempe.

The Bee Hive store had these quarter-page ads that changed every day. The art work was fun to see. I chose a copy of this one because of the dress.

If you've visited downtown
Phoenix you probably saw the Rosson House. It is a beautiful Victorian house
built for Dr. Rosson in 1895.

I can just picture Dr. Rosson sitting on that lovely porch reading the Phoenix Herald and wondering if he should head to the Bee Hive for a new scarf.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Art Journal, Hand Prints

When I was in kindergarten our teacher had us spread our hands on a black sheet of construction paper and then she flicked white stuff all over the page leaving our hand prints to stand out.
This is one of my most vivid childhood memories. Maybe because my mom had those prints throughout her life and I saw them many times. I don't remember what the "white stuff" was, it was thicker than paint, and kind of stood up on the paper.
Those prints have disappeared but the memory is there.
Last year when I went to spend a few weeks with our grandsons I took some things with me to do crafts along with the supplies to work in my travel art journal.
One day I was looking at the pile of felt and decided to trace the boys hands. After cutting out they fit nicely into my journal.

 This year I made sure to stick a piece of felt in my book to do it again. A new "tradition" is born.

The boys stood still better this year and were excited to see their hand prints take a place in my journal.

Art journaling has made a big difference in how I look at things. I notice and keep the little things in life . . . and also keep better track of those times that tend to slip by, like children growing.

Who needs those fancy kits they sell in card and craft shops for making hand prints. A piece of felt and a marker work just fine. And they fit right in there with the photos, pressed leaves and flowers, tickets and receipts that will keep our memories alive for years and years.

Some day the boys will look back on these hand prints just like I did my prints on black construction paper.

What memories can you create for the future?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Medium

Friday evening my husband I went over to Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. I love this bookstore but I don't get over there very often.

Allison DuBois was the speaker. For those who don't know, the television show "Medium" was based on her work here in the Phoenix area. As much as I enjoyed the show seeing her in person is amazing. She glows with positive energy and a love of life. I have all of her books including the one she signed Friday, Talk To Me. Allison's husband, Joe, and her daughters were with her. Isn't that wonderful?

The place was packed, far beyond what anybody expected, so we couldn't see her during the talk but I heard her just fine. Some of the things that stand out are:

When we pass-on we revert to the age at which we were happiest. As another of Allison's books says, We Are Their Heaven, so they choose to stay with us. Ask them to give a sign that is indelibly them . . . such as a favorite flower or food. Keep your "conversations" with them happy. They don't want to see you unhappy. If you put pictures up around your house choose ones from when they were younger or happy or well. If you enter a place or room and it feels sick, as if the room has cancer, acknowledge that feeling and it will go away.

When the talk was over and Allison was nearly finished signing I finally made my way up to her to have my book signed and talk for a minute. The last time I saw her she talked about Tombstone, Arizona being one of her favorite places to go because of all the energy. I asked her this time if she had been there lately and she said no but she loves to stay in the Rose Room at the Silver Nugget bed and breakfast. I told her about some of my experiences in the town and it was just great to connect with someone with that common interest . . . even if just for a few moments.

Here's the photo my husband took of our meeting:
Allison, me with my back to the camera, the bookstore lady.

I also had an interesting time with the people who were there. Standing in line at the restroom the lady next to me asked how far we'd come and I told her. She had come about twice as far and I said that was really determination. Her reply was, "To see her? YES!"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Found Poetry

After I published my post on found  poetry I realized I forgot to show the pictures of working on it.

That little tin is a gift card tin from Michael's. I love these tins. They come in very handy for lots of things; in this case a place to put all my words and phrases cut from magazines and books. Although I said I used a gluestick I actually used this Zig glue pen. These are great for applying just a bit of glue and being left in the car on a hot day doesn't seem to affect them (at least if they are in a bag in the trunk.) Those little scissors come with a cap and are great for travelling, too.

I did notice that I had way too many things to work with. I thought it would be good to spend an afternoon cutting words and phrases and have them all ready to go. But when it came to the poetry it was overwhelming (and even a small cough was disastrous.) I think if I wanted to work on just a poem again I would cut out things that inspired me that moment for the main part and perhaps use my tin for the secondary words. Make sense?

I have been inspired over and over to do these found poems, most recently, of course by Quinn's book. And now my blog has inspired somebody else. Find out more about that at Creative Carmelina. I always find Carmelina's blog inspiring and peaceful because she uses such calming colors.


P.S. I'd love to read your poems!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Watch The Squirrels

Yesterday, Janet, who is in my Yahoo Sketchbook Group wrote to us that she was sitting on the porch watching two squirrels fight. This struck me, especially, because I just wrote a poem about watching squirrels.

I've written before about Quinn McDonald's book Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art. She started a workshop based on the book at the Artists of the Round Table Yahoo Group. I was excited to sign up but because I was in Washington and had limited Internet access I was late getting started. I've been so busy I just can't seem to get focused so I'm following Quinn's worksheets without really staying with the group.

This is the book I am using is this Canson Mix Media spiral bound pad. I really like the size of these books and the weight of the paper.

One of the lessons was to draw our gremlin (or Inner Critic).

This is mine, He doesn't have a name yet. He sits there like an old rock with his mean eyebrows and stitching mouth. Part of the reason he criticizes every thing is he is green (with envy?)
Another lesson is to use found poetry. I love these exercises. You go through a bunch of magazines, catalogues or books and cut out various words. Then playing around with them you "write" a poem.
  Mine reads:


You always wanted
to make a difference,
to discover harmony
and a future of hope.
You only need
to relax
stay positive
and watch the squirrels

The background was done with Neocolor II Watersoluable Crayons,  glue stick, Rapidograph pen and Caran d'Ache Supracolor Soft Aquarelle pencils with a waterbrush.

The next type of found poem is more difficult. Take a page from a book and circle words and phrases that make sense and form your poem. This one reads:

"My parents
gave me the gift of
exquisite molehills,
a green diamond,
and tiny green pearls.

I proudly jump for joy.

No one taught them to fly.
Growing up has its
own treasures.

We hold perfectly still
as feathers come down to our pond,
a fragile family treasure
for imaginary refuge."

This made some sense at the time but now I'm not too sure. That's okay, I'll do more.

The supplies for this were the Caran d'Ache Sup[racolor soft aquarelle pencils, gluestick, Rapidograph pen and a waterbrush.

These pencils are really nice and the best part I found the set of 18 at a thrift store for about $3.00.

Now excuse me while I go sit on the gremlin (or Inner Critic) so he can't keep me from pushing the publish button. 

It is scary to put stuff out there that isn't great but I'm learning. I will . . .

push , , ,

that . . .


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: To Do Lists

Susanne, a friend and member of one of my writing groups, commented the other day that my blog always makes her think. Me too,

This week I've been so busy I haven't had much time to think . . . at least I haven't come up with any worthwhile thoughts. I've tried writing a few blog posts but none of them seemed right.

There goes that Inner Critic, Again.

So, I sit here at Barnes and Noble with a strawberry/banana smoothie trying to come up with something different to write about. But my brain is hung up on the other things I should be doing.

Sometimes it helps to get those things down on paper so here goes:
1. Finish my article on haunted Tombstone for the  Tombstone Times journal.
2. Work on the Web site for my genealogy business.
3. Get caught up in the workshop Quinn McDonald is doing over at the A.R.T.Yahoo group for her new book, Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art.
4. Plan prompts for the Writers Inspiration Group tomorrow.
5. Work on my mystery novel.
6. Work on other articles I have started but don't seem to finish. (That Inner Critic, Again.) .
7. Start the newsletter for the Phoenix Writers Club.
8. Do my blog. (hehe)
9. Go home and clean house, including sorting through all the boxes we recently took out of storage.
10. Work on the Martin genealogy so I can include the family information with the photos I took this summer in Washington
11. Get ready to Finish This Book (by Keri Smith) with Arlene at Spirit Essence Art. (I did buy it while I was at B&N.)
12 Weed the garden and get it ready for fall planting.

You know what? It works. I feel more focused. I can finish that article and write another blog post for today so this really will be "Tuesdays With Rita."

What's on your list?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Terry and Wyatt Earp

Our speakers at the Phoenix Writers Club on Saturday were Wyatt and Terry Earp.
They are two wonderful people who have touched so many lives.
Terry is a playwright who has 36 plays to her credit.

(Why the fish? We meet at the Bluewater Grill in central Phoenix.)

Wyatt is related to the "original" Wyatt Earp and if you've ever seen photos of Wyatt in his retirement years you will see that the contemporary Wyatt looks just like him. They were at a function with Hugh O'Brien a few years ago. Hugh played Wyatt Earp in the television hit of the 1950s. He asked Terry to write a play and after thinking on it she decided an elderly Wyatt looking back on his younger years and especially the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral would be a good idea. O'Brien didn't go with the play because of other commitments so Terry got to thinking again and her husband began performing "Wyatt Earp: A Life on the Frontier."

The play has been performed 635 times since then. Wyatt has performed all over the Southwest and in Alaska, Boston, Edinburgh and Budapest. Amazing. Terry went on to write "Gentleman Doc Holliday" which Wyatt has performed 372 times. Terry also wrote and performs the parts of the women in the Wyatt and "Doc's" lives.

As Terry talked about her writing career the one thing that stood out to me was that she just did it. She said she wrote plays, submitted them and had them produced before she heard all the warnings about how difficult it is. She said, "I didn't know any better." In other words, knowing what the pros had to say didn't hold her back. Terry just did it. As writers, or anything, we should remember that.

Wyatt talked about promotion. He said to focus on people and groups where people have a common interest. He showed us Cowboy magazine, the Wild West History Association and the Tombstone Tumbleweed as possible outlets for people interested in their plays. He also talks to everyone. If somebody says they live in some little town he says he has always wanted to perform there. "Magic happens," said Wyatt as he told about performing around the world. Opportunities open up if you let the universe know you are out there.

These are important things for writers, performers, artists and anybody who wants to get their work out there. Wyatt and Terry have long inspired me. As writers, performers, Old West history buffs and as fantastic people.

For more about Wyatt and Terry Earp visit their Web site here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Street Performers

Here's another spread from my Washington travel journal. I did this in the car on the drive from Seattle to Yakima with only a pencil, Pitt Pen, waterbrush and strips cut from a Peerless Watercolor Paint Book. (If you aren't familiar with these paint books they are wonderful for travel.)
This page was done from memories of the street performers or buskers at the
Pike Place Market a few days before.

We passed this guy and his piano which obviously came out of the van behind him.
He was a fun player and sang a song that had everybody laughing. We went on down the
street for a bit and when we came back he was gone and somebody else in his place. They
must have this schedule down to the minute. It's amazing.

When I spotted these three guys from the back it was like stepping back in time.
Not that I ever saw the Beatles in person.

They were really pretty good as you can see and hear from this short video.
I wish I had filmed them longer. I didn't realize at that point just how much video my little Kodak could actually hold. I figured that out much later.

I've been anxious to show this video to my friend who just spent a month in London and wrote about the buskers there. It was funny when I found a bit of London in Seattle.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Project Steps

One of the things I missed while away was my garden. I knew it would be
hard for Doug to work all day and then come home and take care of the
garden so I didn't expect him to do more than harvest and water.
In other words weeding was not on his list of honey-dos.

I was amazed at how quickly it got out of control. The corn, lavender, spinach and
zucchini are all gone. The zucchini was still producing when I left but the record
breaking temps in August put an end to that. The okra is still going nuts although
the plant in front is looking really sad. The tomatoes are surviving and
I get a couple of vine-ripened yummys every day.

The biggest problem is all that Bermuda grass and weeds that have gotten bigger than some of the plants that are supposed to be there. There's one vine thing that I thought was my cantaloupe but on doing some research (comparing leaves on the Internet) it turns out to be a weed.

So where am I going with this? A reminder that when we keep up with things on a daily, weekly, monthly basis whether it be our health, our finances, a writing project, an art project or a garden it is much easier to keep up when you do it in small doses . . .  weeding daily is much easier to handle than to come back and have to do it all at once.

I've decided to just wait until it cools off and get out there and attack the whole garden . . . and plant new crops for the fall. August may be tough in the desert
but we will have a wonderful fall for planting again.

Meanwhile I can spend time each day on updating things on my
computer, writing ideas for my novel, working in my art journal
and sorting through stuff in the house.

What project are you working on that would be easier to face in small doses?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Travel Journal, 2011

Every year I head up to Washington to visit my grandsons. For the past few years I have taken a moleskine journal to record all the little things that happen.
 I put paint on a few pages, add pockets to others, and just generally get it ready for the trip. The first page includes my packing lists and last minute to-do lists from getting ready for the trip. This a page for my tickets and other stuff from the trip up.
 I collect any and everything along the way and as you can see it gets pretty fat by the end of the trip. I do leave a few pages blank along the way so I can go back and add photos when I get home . . . I try to keep the book chronological but that doesn't always work and I don't worry about that.

 One of the "must dos" is prepare a page for Flat Stanley. He is a character from a series of children's books. A bulletin board fell on him and now he can mail himself to all kinds of places and slide in to others to solve little mysteries. When you buy a Flat Stanley book you get a Flat Stanley to take on your adventures. I lost mine so I made a new one and he gets a special place in each of my journals.
During my trip I take him out and get pictures of Stanley enjoying the same things I do. It is fun, especially for the kids. This page is from lunch at the Oyster House on the pier in Olympia, Washington. That is my great, great nephew stuffing his face. We sat outside and I had crab cakes and fried oysters. I absolutely love seafood and this was a great treat.

Another important part of every trip to Washington is visiting the "bee tree" in Naches. This is actually a trumpet vine that has grown up over a utility pole and looks like a tree. It literally buzzes with all the bees. That's why there are bee buttons on the front of the journal. My grandsons and I talk about the bee tree a lot; it is our special place.

Most of these pages are done with watercolor crayons or paints. There are stickers and cutout words from magazines. Pretty simple. I use a glue stick to keep everything in place although for the buttons I used Ultimate Glue and tied them in place on the back with yarn. The writing on the cover is a paint marker. The moleskine is the one with the lavender band and has thicker pages than others. I love them.

I will be sharing more pages from my journal and more about my trip as time goes on. Thank you for visiting and sharing this with me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Back-to-school, genealogy

Well, it's been over a month since I've been able to spend any time at the computer. I've tried to catch up on e-mails, blog posts, etc. but finally gave up and decided to start fresh. I hope I haven't missed any major developments in the lives of my Internet friends.

The trip to Washington has me thinking about many things. One of them is genealogy and the importance to our children and grandchildren.

The trip to Goldendale to work on my husband's family turned out to be a very special trip for my daughter and I. It was time for just us. Doing something we both enjoy. It reminded me of another trip we took in 1990.

My mother passed away that May. Her wishes were to be buried with my baby brother in Kansas. In June Jessica and I set out for Kansas and spent a couple of weeks visiting family and going to the cemetery. We also did quite a bit of genealogical research. This was in my avid genealogy phase so she didn't have a choice but luckily she has always shown an interest in finding things . . . especially cemeteries.

On this trip we visited Meade County, Kansas where my great, great grandparents settled. We got to see the Keith house; built by John Riley Keith, a stonemason.

We also visited the historical society and found the old Sunnydale School that had been moved in from the country. This was the same school my grandmother went to.
This was a surprise to us and to Grandma when I later showed her the photographs. Jessica is in the classroom talking to the lady

This is an apropos post as this is
my favorite time of year: back-to-
school, with the smell of crayons,
a fresh tray of paints, pencils to
sharpen and all the other joys of
new things.

I've thought that another reason I liked it so much. We didn't have much money growing up but when it came to back-to-school clothes and supplies I always got as much as we could manage.

I loved taking my daughter shopping for her supplies. Who'd have thought that one day I would be taking my grandsons shopping. I just talked to Alex and he is ready for his second week of First Grade and likes math the best.

What are your favorite back-to-school memories?