Tattered Past

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

Friday, June 29, 2012


Friends have been telling me they can't leave comments on my blog.
Not only that; they can sometimes leave them and sometimes not.
I've gone in and done everything I can think of to make it easy for my readers without opening it up to the spam I weed out on a regular basis.

So I'm asking a little favor. Please leave a comment on this post just by leaving your first name or initials. You can, of course, say more, but I want to see if I can get an idea of what is happening.

In return I wish you a happy, sunny day.

This is another one of my art journal spreads. I'll still add journaling when something comes to mind but for now I'm enjoying the colors.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Art Therapy

We have been battling insurance companies for months . . . for various reasons.
Switching to Cobra, various health issues, hospital and lots of doctors visits.
Now Doug has a new job and we are again changing plans and adjusting to the
new rates and coverages.
Mostly it amounts to numerous phone call, getting conflicting information,
resubmitting and resubmitting . . .

Well, you get the idea.

Last Thursday morning was especially frustrating and by the time I met
my Art Buddy at for our afternoon arting I was rather beside myself.
I tried working on a regular collage art journal page and it just wouldn't come
together. Suddenly this picture came to the front and then that line of people in the background photo.

So this is representative of me pinching the heads off some of these insurance representatives.

As I work on these pages I start with colors and then images and then more colors. Back and forth until I'm happy with the layout. Then I add pens and more color. It's always relaxing and theraputic.

This one topped them all, however. Now when I start getting frustrated with the people I'm dealing with I just picture pinching somebody's head off and smile.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Remember When: Second Grade

A couple of weeks ago I commented on one grandson entering Kindergarten next year. The other one is going in to Second Grade. My Second Grade was spent with my grandparents in another town. I spent a lot of time there so it wasn't totally foreign.

The summer after First Grade I stayed with my grandparents and then it was decided I would stay through the school year. I don't remember much of what was going on but my sister was a senior in high school and working and mom was holding one or two jobs.

Grandad was a barber and his shop was on the Main Street which was only about two blocks long. The school was a few blocks away with their house near it. My world was a triangle.

My best friend lived in the triangle as did most of the other kids I made friends with. Some lived on nearby farms and took the bus. My teacher lived on a ranch. Mrs. Bentley was a grandmotherly type and very kind. She'd known my grandparents forever.

One day, Jon, my best friend and I decided to swear our love. We went in during recess and he gave me a ring all official like in front of Mrs. Bentley. Appaently she later called my grandma and they had a good laugh because when I was born we lived in that same town and Jon's mother worked for my mother so often we shared a playpen or crib.

At the end of the school year a little going away party was thrown for me. This was a really big deal for me because I was always so shy and quiet I was never even invited to parties in my own town. I still have two of the little gifts I received at that party. A plastic clamshell box that had bathcubes in it and a What's It?

From the back it looks like a penguin, there's a lions mane, raccoon eyes, rabbit fur and various other critters.

 I'm not sure if this is my Second Grade picture. I need to get them all together and decide on the order or hope there's one somewhere that has the dates. For now, it's close enough.

Second Grade was a special time. I have so many memories but I think maybe because I was in a different place they stand out more. I learned the song, "Mother" and was in a Christmas play, but most off all I had a best friend named Jon.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Computer Woes and A Children's Author

The best laid plans. I actually sat down last night and scanned a bunch of photographs I've been wanting to use for my blogs and also downloaded some photos I've been taking to share with you, my readers. That was all on my  desktop but I saved the photos onto a flash drive and into my MegaCloud file. I thought.

After I took care of a few things at home I packed up to spend the afternoon with my Barnes and Noble community and catch up on some writing. Somehow the flash drive I use for my photos became corrupted and I can't find them in my MegaCloud so here I am pictureless. I can only hope they are on my desktop but with a cookie and a large drink at hand I really don't want to go home and check. So its writing day.

I finished reading Ninth Ward a children's book written by Jewell Parker Rhodes. It was fantastic. Jewell is one of my favorite writers anyway but this book outshines them all. It is about a 12 year old girl, Lanesha, who lived in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans during Katrina. The story is of her survival and I will forever have the ending scenes in my mind when I need to be reminded of courage, hope and overcoming adversity.

You can learn more about Jewell and Lanesha here. Jewell is a novelist and is professor of Creative Writing and American Literature and Director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at Arizona State University.

Jewell has a new blog about Lanesha and her new book, an historical fiction children's book. To learn more about her writing process and her tips for writing historical fiction visit her blog: Lanesha Says.

I've heard Jewell read from her books many times and she is amazing. She makes the wife of Fredrick Douglas, a voodoo queen and Lenasha all come to life through her amazing voice. I look forward to meeting her new character, Sugar. Thank you, Jewell, for so many memories.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Remember When: Fathers

"H. S. Wilburn, 1946, at work"

I just kind of ignore Father's Day. I don't have any concrete memories of
my father, Herman. The one flash I have that I think is a memory Mom always said is impossible but well, I don't agree. It doesn't really matter;
it's my memory.
Daddy was an abusive alcoholic and not around for many years. He was killed in a head-on collision in Oklahoma when I was eight or nine.
Daddy couldn't keep a job and never paid child support. At that time, alcoholism was met with jail time instead of help and understanding. Sad. Wish it was different but I can't change the past, only my view of it.
I know, that no matter what, Daddy loved us. My sister received his wallet after he died and in that wallet were small notepad papers I had drawn for him during one of his brief visits. I don't remember the visit but I'm guessing I was in first or second grade. It warms my heart to know that he kept those little drawings with him through the years.
I'm reading a book I found at a Goodwill, Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction, and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life by Bonnie Friedman. Although I have read many, many writing books and read or heard about many others this one hasn't been on my radar. I'm loving it.
The chapter I read today was basically about writing your memories and whether or not you should write memories that might hurt someone. She gets off into a couple of related subjects and I plan a series of blog posts about this book but for now I want to share a quote from the last paragraph.
Ms. Friedman is comparing Frankenstein's monster to our memories.
Good and bad.
"At the beginning of its life, Frankenstein's monster was actually a gentle, loving creature. It was the doctor's constant rejection that drove it savage with loneliness. Our monsters may turn to blessings if we regard them with kindness. They may have been blessings from the start, made goblins in the shadowy hallways of our minds."
This quote says what I wanted to say with this post. I want to make Father's Day a positive by finding and honoring the good things in my own father's life and his (non)relationship with me. Next year I want to enjoy the stories of other fathers and be able to add some of my own.
What monsters could you change in to blessings?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Childhood as Writing Inspiration

Every Tuesday for the past six years I have met with my Writers Inspiration Group at the local bookstore. The group is based on the book Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg in which she suggests free-writing from a prompt. No editing, no plans, no thinking:  just letting words flow onto paper or laptop screen as they come.

Some Tuesdays I lead the group and last week I had my prompts ready to go but then I was scanning my Blogroll and came to The Sum of All Crafts by Valerie Brincheck. Valerie always shares wonderful vintage photographs and images. I've used quite a few in my art journals but I hadn't really thought about using them for my writing group, until I saw this photo:
I HAD to make copies and take them in for the group to write stories about. I printed a few out on regular paper, enough for every two people to share a copy. I passed them around and the group knew exactly what to do;
I passed around copies of the photo, just printed on regular paper, nothing special and the pens lifted and away they went.
The group was entranced by the detail's and not only the child size furniture but the doll size furniture.
Yes, it's a great photo but I quickly realized that I have a completely different attitude to it because I'm a historian and genealogist. I'm used to scenes like this including this one of my mother and her siblings.

That's my mother at the table on the left. She was the eldest and grew up loving to cook, take care of babies and entertain.
I have more photos like this but I have to find them. Meanwhile, what story can you come up with for one of these photos?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Guest Post: Steena Holmes, Finding Emma

Childhood Recipes
Guest Post by Steena Holmes
My great-grand parents lived in a small white house with a beautiful garden and wood swing in the back yard. As a child, I always loved going to their house. Behind them was a car wash and just a hop-skip-and a jump away was a stream where I would watch fish dart away from my stick.
But that wasn’t the only reason. My great-grandma was German. Whenever we would visit there would always be a fresh loaf of bread sitting on her counter or rising in her back room. In her front room would be a covered jar with candies that she’d let me sneak goodies from when my parents weren’t looking.
There is one dish that I ‘think’ my mom learned from her or from her mother. We call it kinip - but as for it’s real name, I’m not sure. As a child, my mouth used to salivate when my mom would start cooking this dish. And now, as an adult - it has become my comfort food. Whenever I visit her (which isn’t often enough) I always ask her to make this dish and amazingly - my children now beg for it as well. It’s my youngest daughter’s choice of meal in our home now and she’s not always thrilled that I won’t make it as often as she wants.
When I’m disappointed, emotional, missing home or just in a ‘mood’, this is the one dish I’ll always turn to. It’s funny how your comfort foods tend to be things associated with your past.
So, what exactly is kinip? Well, the best way I can describe it is boiled dough mixed with browned potatoes in butter and onions. Did I mention the butter? In a frying pan you mix chopped up potatoes with butter and add onions (my mouth is already watering...although I prefer not to use onions). Then in a mixing bowl, mix flour and water until is a little firmer than glue. With your clean hands, place that dough in your palm and with a butter knife cut strips into a pot of boiling water. You’ll know the dough is done when it rises to the top. Mix with the potato mixture, add some salt and pepper and voila. My ultimate favorite comfort food!
Finding Emma By Steena
Megan sees her daughter Emma everywhere. She’s the little girl standing in the supermarket, the child waiting for the swings at the playground, the girl with ice cream dripping down her face. But it’s never Emma.
Because Emma’s been missing for two years.

Unable to handle the constant heartache of all the false sightings, Megan’s husband threatens to walk away unless Megan can agree to accept Emma is gone. Megan’s life and marriage is crumbling all around her and she realizes she may have to do the thing she dreads most: move on.

When Megan takes a photo of a little girl with an elderly couple at the town fair, she believes it to be her missing daughter. Unable to let go, she sets in motion a sequence of events that could destroy both families’ lives.

About the Author:

Author of the new heart wrenching story "Finding Emma", Steena is a woman who believes that 'in the end, all things succumb...to the passions of your heart'. Steena's life revolves around her family, friends and fiction. Add some chocolate into the mix and she's living the good life. She took those passions and made them a dream come true by pouring her heart into each of her stories.
Proceeds from each book will be donated to The Missing Children's Society of Canada - an organization dedicated to reuniting families.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Remember When: Woolworth's

Compared to living in the Phoenix Metro Area the town I grew up in was small. There was the center of town with the county courthouse and stores all around. Further down was the park and zoo. I spent all my summers riding my bike and walking back-and-forth to the park. This was in the '50s so it was just like those old shows where life is idyllic.

Some of my best memories are centered around the Woolworth's store. It was a great old building with wooden floors and large bins of treasurers. Upstairs in the back was the office area and it was wonderful to go up there with Mom and be able to look down onto the whole store.
One time, after a visit to the dentist, Mom took me to Woolworth's and let me pick out something special. I still have the little pink jewelry box and I keep many little memory joggers in it.

There are also some memory joggers on it. In the '60s I apparently wanted to update it, thus the "flower power" sticker on top. Those black smudges to the right of the lock are from the fingerprint powder when we were burglarized back in 1975.

Inside is a mishmash of items from my life. I've realized while working on this I have other things spread out between other boxes and I really should put them all in one place.
In the meantime, if you look closely you can see a little elephant pin, a plaster dog I colored black and got from that same dentist, a piece of sealing wax, an Elvis key ring, some coins, a pen from Great Bend, a Paul McCartney pin that my niece brought me from one of his concerts, a gold ID bracelet, and a unicorn bookmark.

I have searched ebay for years trying to find a photo or postcard of Woolworth's in Great Bend. I let out quite a whoop when I found this one and ordered it right away. I love finding these treasures of my past.

Do you have special memories from another place or another time that might be saved in postcard format? Go look around. It's amazing! Even if you aren't interested in buying the items you will find many memories to add to your collection.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Change In Plans

Doug and I had big plans for getting things done around the house yesterday. I got up early and worked in the garden until it started getting to hot. Doug was cleaning out his work truck. Then we moved inside and had laundry going and Doug fired up his air compressor to clean out the vacuum and suddenly a loud alarm went off, the lights started flashing, the clothes dryer started making a terrible grinding sound, there was a pop and the smell of metallic burning around my computer table. Doug ran outside to the fuse box. I started shutting things down and Maggie went nuts.

For about two hours Doug was in and out to the fuse box (because he does A/C installation and repair, he is very familiar with electrical) checking lines. In the meantime, we thought we had blown the dryer, my modem was fried and it was the oven that was sounding the horrible loud alarm. Maggie is running around and trying to climb into my lap any time I try to sit down.

Finally he figured out there was something wrong with the wiring on the electrical company's side of the box so we called them and settled down to wait with no electric. I was calmly reading a book and Doug got to pondering what it must have been like for the pioneers who didn't have air conditioning, Netflix, Internet, clothes dryers, hot water, a refrigerator and all those other things we take for granted. I think about those things a lot but he was really drawn into the imaginings.

The electric company came and had to run a cable to the box in the neighbor's yard which got us electricity for now. They will have to come out later to dig ditches and rerun some of our wiring from the house.

So we slowly started turning stuff back on. The burning smell was the surge protector which also took out the modem but my computer and everything else was safe. So we rushed up to Best Buy and got a new modem. While I worked on installing that, Doug found out the wii was also burned out. For that we only had to replace the cord which is on order. The dryer was fine and so was the freezer and all those other wonderful things.

I have a feeling we were very lucky but the stress of not knowing what was going on and having burning smells in our house and the dog going nuts was so stressful. It took Maggie a long time to settle down. She has a red chew toy that we only give to her at special times because we don't want her destroying it. She didn't even want that. As we settled down Doug went up to get KFC for dinner and I tuned in to some oldies on uTube. Maggie finally settled down and was holding her red toy in her paws and relaxing on the side of the bed.  All's well at the Ackerman house.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Remember When: Kindergarten

As the school year ends my grandson, Brendan, is ready to become a kindergartner.
What an exciting time in life.

I started my school days at E. E. Morrison Grade School which I was surprised has it's own Web page.  Also it has been torn down during the years since we left Kansas.

I don't remember my teacher's name. I do remember sitting around her on the floor as she played the piano. We learned "This Old Man" which is still one of my favorite songs. There classroom was very large with windows on two sides and shelves lined up underneath.
In one corner was a really nice playhouse with child size wooden furniture.
We had our towels for nap time.

Here's our class. I think. Actually after looking closer I think this might have been First Grade but I guess it really doesn't matter. I'm the little girl in the center of the back row with the little ponytail on the top of my head.
I remember many of the names and actually went on through grade school and in to junior high with some of these kids.

Does the school where you started still exist? Have you tried to find photos of it? Is there a Web site? You just never know and it's well worth the effort to go looking for your memories.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Finding Emma" Scavenger Hunt

So much is happening through
WOW - Women On Writing
with the beginnings of the blog
tour for Finding Emma.

(Steena will be visiting Tattered Past on June 16 with a special guest post. Don't forget to tune in!)
Come along with Emma on a scavenger hunt!

We're going to the Carnival! At each stop along Steena's tour there is a hidden word--something you would find at a fair or carnival. Find the word and enter it at the Scavenger Hunt page on Steena's website
Each entry is an extra ticket to win! Need more clues? Join us at the Carnival Board on Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/steenah/summer-carnivals-childhood-memories/)
where we will post images of the clues. Join in the fun by leaving your own favorite carnival pics! Read about prizes and additional details on The Muffin.(http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/2012/06/emmas-scavenger-hunt.html)

First Prize: Work with a Bestselling Author.
Our Grande Prize winner will help create a character for Steena Holmes’ next book!
Second and Third Prize Winners will each receive a signed copy of Finding Emma and a special pewter angel figurine from The Missing Children’s Society of Canada, an organization dedicated to bringing children home.