Tattered Past

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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Art Journal

I am taking my second on-line class with Kelly Kilmer. My friend Barbara has taken numerous in-person classes with her and helps to make these on-line classes more personal. Even without that I am loving what and how Kelly teaches. This class is Journey Within: Guide to Unlocking Your Creativity Within.
We started out by gutting and then rebinding a hardcover book. That's mine on top decorated with duct tape, wall paper and punched paper.

Here's the spine. It's amazing how easy this all is when you have a wonderful teacher.
Here's the inside cover with more paper and tape and the first page waiting for journaling and other pen work.

 I tend to get side-tracked easily but I'm steadily working on this journal and will share more over time. In the meantime, go get to know Kelly and her wonderful journal pages and classes.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Friends Over Time

It's funny sometimes how people, friends, come and go in our lives. When my husband was in high school his step-dad worked for New York Life Insurance Company. One of Lee's fellow agents was Wyatt Earp. Really and truly.

We got to know Wyatt again after we got into Old West writing and re-enacting as Wyatt performs plays written by his wonderful wife, Terry.

Many years ago as I was first getting into genealogy and very active in the Family History Society of Arizona I met Phyllis. Phyllis moved on and we lost touch but happened across each other through her job at Barnes & Noble.

Also in my active genealogy days I became friends with Suzanne who it turned out was my high school English teacher.

We all met at a luncheon hosted by Phyllis and the many book discussion groups she leads. Wyatt and Terry performed "Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt Earp" and Suzanne was one of my guests.

This all makes me appreciate the people I've known over the years, some I still see, others' I don't but may again one day. I appreciate the opportunities I have to be in organizations such as the genealogy club and book discussion groups. I appreciate these people who go out of their way to make these meetings happen.

Ain't Live Grand?
(Sorry Suzanne.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sunday in Tempe

Sunday we met my in-laws in Tempe for the birthday dinners. On the way Doug and I dropped a copy of my book off at the Tempe Public Library where it will be a part of the collection.
They had one of those wonderful sale rooms and I bought three large print books (total: $1.50) to cut up in to "found poetry" and to decorate some of my artwork.

By the time I got them home I decided I had to read them first. Are there ever too many books to read?

After killing some time at the library we visited this guy in front of Joe's Crab Shack near Arizona Mills Mall. Apparently this was once a Rusty Pelican and they kept this smile provoking guy at the front door.

With my current love of birds I had to take a few different poses of him.  
I was carrying my good Nikon and really looking to take lots of pictures.

I didn't get any photos of dinner. We all had big buckets of crab, shrimp, lobster clams and mussels. Seafood heaven. The carnage was not a pretty sight.
We had fun and very colorful visit.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Poetry Month

I've never been much for reading poetry or writing it but this week the co-leader for my Writers Inspiration Group had us writing away; for National Poetry Month.

First she had us write six sentences or phrases about something to do with nature. I was thinking about a conversation with my grandson about saguaro cacti.

Holes in the saguaro
Made by cactus wrens, flitting about
Nests on top of each other, year after year
Chirping babies singing
Condominiums - cactus condos

Then we had to write it down to the American haiku of  syllables: 5 - 7 - 5 (Well close anyway.)

Cactus Wrens

Cactus wrens flitting
Saguaro filled with chirping birds
Cactus condominiums

Then we just wrote a story type poem:


Sometimes my grandson amazes me
with his insights into the world.
Sometimes he asks questions
about cacti or dragons or ants on the street.
Sometimes he makes a joke.
Like the other day,
"Grammy, do you know what?"
"No," I say.
"I love you."

Not great poetry or maybe even good but its a start. There is certainly lots of meaning.

Now it's your turn.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Remember When: Big Move

I was born in a tiny town in Kansas and grew up in a somewhat larger town about 80 miles away. My sister moved to Denver with her husband in about 1962 or 1963 and that was the only time I had been out of my home state; as far as I know.

After my grandfather died my grandmother decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona to be near one of my uncles.

In 1967 Mom decided we should join them. We loaded up everything we could in a Hertz trailer which mom pulled all the way to Arizona behind our car. A larger tiger cat, a small dog and a very reluctant teenager in tow. This photo was taken at the hotel we stopped at in New Mexico. Mom decided to give the cat a part of one of her Valium because he wouldn't settle down in the hotel room. All night long we could hear the cat get up and fall down and the dog sit by the bathroom door whining because he was worried about his animal buddy.

We'd never travelled much, only to my sisters in Denver and my grandparents or aunt and uncle near Dodge City, Kansas. I don't think I'd ever stayed in a hotel so that experience was exciting to me.

However, at thirteen years old moving to another place was not on my agenda. I'll never forget when we arrived in Phoenix and I saw the palm trees and a bank in Tempe that looked like a giant turtle. Exotic for sure. But not enough for leaving my friends and school behind. We arrived in town on Easter Day.

I spent a lot of time hating where we lived and wanting to be back with my friends in Kansas. Things didn't go so well with mom as jobs weren't as plentiful as she hoped.
At one point we lived at this hotel, the Stagecoach Inn, on Van Buren Street.
Mom was the manager so we lived in that building right in front. Those windows were the lobby and our apartment was behind that with a door that opened from our living room to the lobby. There were two swimming pools and kitchenettes in the back where many families in transit lived.
That was a pretty exciting time. I think I lived in the pools.

The Stagecoach Inn is long gone but it has a place in my memory.

Did your family ever make  major move? Were you happy or sad about the change.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Happy Birthday

Today is my husband's birthday. We've been married 35 years.
Since you've all seen many photos of me as a child I thought you might like to see some of Doug.
 That's Doug's mother in the background. Her birthday is this week too. We will all be going to Joe's Crab Shack on Sunday to celebrate.

Here's Doug in Tombstone a few years ago.
And both of us at another Tombstone event.
One of the greatest things about being married this long is sharing memories.

Happy Birthday Doug.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Remember When: The Yellow Dress

As I've worked to get in the habit of blogging and doing other writing projects I'm thinking more and more about writing my memories for my kids and my own personal growth.

Part of this project is to get all my photographs scanned and identified. I figure I will also weed out some of the photographs that won't mean anything to the future and I probably won't remember many of them anyway. These are things that just need to be done.

Barbara and I were talking over our art journals one day and she described a dress she had when she was seven or eight years old. Yellow with a lacy over dress and small collar and puffy sleeves. It was like a slap in the face because I had a dress just like that but hadn't remembered it in years. Especially the yellow part.

I believe this is that dress which I wore at about 7 1/2 That's my sister and Grandma Jennie.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile will remember "Tuesdays With Rita" which came about through an Internet art group. I tried to bring up memories and suggest topics for readers to write about. I'm going to continue that but now I'm calling it "Remember When."

I hope these writings spur memories just like Barbara's mention of the yellow dress. I hope you will take the time to write them down before they disappear into the dark reaches again.

Your memories matter write them down.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Strange Stuff

One of the wonderful things about doing a blog . . . at least for me, is how it makes me more aware of my surroundings. I notice more. Also, I make a point of remembering more things. Or at least trying. I really need to develop the habit of writing things down because by the end of the day I do forget things.

Yesterday I had to run by the doctor's office to pick up a prescription I'd left there. The office is right next to a hospital. I thought it really strange as I pulled into the parking lot to see a fire truck and paramedics with lights flashing in front of one of the other medical buildings. The hospital is right there, then I remembered this is just a small community type hospital and not a high level trauma center. I still wonder if that hospital might have been easier than dealing with the paramedics and transport. I did see them leave with lights and sirens going.

The next thing that struck me as kind of strange was in the ladies room at the local bookstore. There on the wall in black marker was a quote from Edgar Allen Poe:

And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

I guess if you are going to write on the wall in a bookstore bathroom it is good to at least be literary.

I know there was a third thing that struck me funny but, alas, I've forgotten it so I found a few fun photos from my files.

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I am taking Joanne Sharpe's Letter Love art journaling class. It actually ran in February but with the wonderful use of videos and pdfs the class remains open.

Here's a couple of the pages I have done for this class.
The first one she suggested using pan pastels but since I don't have any I used chalks and rubbed them in really well with a rag. I'm very happy with how they turned out.
I still haven't gotten the knack of going from the top to the bottom of each space with all the letters.

This next one was a lot of fun using all types of markers.
I had so much fun I made postcards for each of the grandsons with their names. They seemed to like them although Jessica said one of them was pretty tattered by the time it got there.

I look forward to more lettering fun as I finish the class and go on to
"do it my way."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thrift Store Finds

I love searching thrift stores. I try to make at least one a week. Sometimes I look at clothes and sometimes bags and purses. Mostly I look for stuff to art with.

Last week I found these wonderful buttons. I don't know which is most exciting . . . the buttons or the cards they come on.

My favorite is this bluebird. Isn't that a wonderful vintage card?

I'm sure many of my readers are asking what I will do with this?
Well, I could take it apart and use the buttons on something and the artwork in a collage. Or maybe put the whole thing on a mixed-media canvas or even in a Remains of the Day style journal like this one I made on Easter.

For now I'm just enjoying the nostalgic artwork.

Other recent thrift store finds have been silver plated spoons to decorate and add poetry words to, books to take apart and remake in to journals, upholstery fabric for journals and wall-hangings and journals and scrapbooking supplies.

Did I need any of this? No. But I did need the smiles these items caused. Life is made up of the little things, even if they come from a thrift store.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gardening In Ignorance

About a year ago I decided I wanted to plant another garden. We'd had them when I was growing up and I had one for a short time after we bought our house, about 36 years ago, but I hadn't braved the dirt in a long time.
So we went to the nurseries and bought plants and seeds and started watering. The first season was pretty good. Especially the tomatoes. YUM. We became very creative with all the zucchini.

People kept telling me I couldn't do this or that in Arizona. I couldn't grow lettuce in the summer. I couldn't grow tomatoes. I couldn't . . .

I just remembered the gardens my mom, grandmother and Aunt Marie had while I was growing up. Neat rows of produce that graced the table each night. Of course, that was in Kansas and I was a kid so the garden was fun.

What I learned in those gardens has done me well here. I didn't know the word "can't." We replanted various things last fall but others kept going through the summer, fall and winter.  Lettuce, radishes, carrots, green onions, tomatoes, bell peppers.
We have them all.

Regardless of what people tell me. I plant whatever comes to mind. 

Sometimes knowledge holds us back.

Without that knowledge I've tried growing many things and
most have been successful.

Another example is lavender. Can't grow it in Arizona?
Mine seems to be doing okay. I'm experimenting with different types and some are doing better than others but I have lavender. Sniff. Sniff.
I even took the plunge and got myself gardening shoes. I'm amazed at how comfortable they are but I don't think I'll be wearing them to the local coffee shop.

 Then again . . .

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Who? Who?

Some of you will remember the owl drawing I posted a couple of months ago (already, that long?)
I've been eyeballing this owl journal at Barnes & Noble for a long time. (It doesn't help that it is on a display right next to the cafe.)
Mostly it reminded me of the fun Barbara and I had drawing our versions of the owl I'd found in a magazine. I showed the journal to my husband when we were there Saturday for the author signing and, well, I'm sure you can guess what I found leaning against my computer screen when I got home on Tuesday.
I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. Besides being an owl and leather the pages are heavenly.
The problem? I'm afraid to write in it because it is so beautiful.

I'll get over it. For now I'm trying to decide if I want to write special childhood memories or fill it with quotes. Oh, and handling it a lot. It really is wonderful.

On another note, my aloe vera is getting ready to bloom. Actually, I've never noticed an aloe vera blooming before so this may be all it does. I've had this plant for almost 20 years and this is the first time it has decided to bloom.

It's also putting out lots of babies. If any of my local friends want a tiny aloe vera just let me know.

As I said to my husband when I found the journal,
Who? Who?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oldies but Goodies

Sometimes I just want to step back in time. Go back to those times when life was simpler, I was younger and music was something I really enjoyed.

Lately I've been on a Beatles kick. I've been a Beatles fan from nearly the beginning. This shocks my daughter as she asked me during their latest visit if girls really acted "that way." I think it finally hit her that I really did live through all of that.

As I reminiscenced about the Beatles I dug out all my Beatles albums. Yes I still have them.

And something to play them on.

This is till my favorite. What Memories!!

In my car I've been listening to the "A Hard Day's Night" cd that I found at Walmart awhile back.
I first saw that movie at a drive-in theater in Denver, Colorado with my aunt and cousin. I think that was 1964. The summer I spent in Colorado to help out my sister who was having her first baby.

I remember my aunt commenting that she never noticed the Fab Four having accents when they sing but they sure do when they talk. If you haven't seen the movie, or even if you haven't seen it in awhile. take a look. There really are some classic moments.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue working through my album and memory collection.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Funny Side of Autism

Saturday my husband and I went to the local Barnes & Noble to listen to an Arizona author talk about her book on autism. Lisa Masters wrote "The Funny Side of Autism: Funny Things Children with Autism Do and Say" to help raise awareness of this growing problem and to educate people that there is much, much more to autism than "Rainman."

I listened to Lisa and people in the audience talk about their autistic children. The delights, the struggles and the hope for each and every one.

One of the quotes I came home with is "It isn't that they can't do it . . . its that they can't do it right now." He talked about taking his daughter to the theater and how fearful she became. When she was a little older she wanted to go again so he said he'd hold her hand and if she became fearful they would leave. She went in, fearful, but determined to see the film. Once it started she was great and now loves going to the theater.

His daughter was there and she talked about a couple of funny things she has said. Amazing.

The new numbers are that 1 in 88 children has autism. The chances you will be affected is extremely high. If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, caregiver or just concerned please visit Lisa's web site and blog. Pick up her book or the new one which is coming out this month. www.TheFunnySideofAutism.Com

There really is a funny side to autism.

Lisa Masters and her book.

Those of you in Arizona, Lisa will be a part of an event on April 20 at The Compound, 7000 E. Mayo Blvd., Scottsdale. For more information go to the calendar tab at:
Benefits The Autism Society