Tattered Past

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





Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Remember When: A Special Moment


I was watching a YouTube video by Ilene McInnes on art journaling the other day. I love to kind of zone out with these and let the inspiration soak in. As she was working on the VIDEO she was sharing her thoughts which I found quite interesting.

Our favorite actors or other performers make us smile. We enjoy their work and we watch for them because we enjoy their work.

As artists (or writers, or bakers . . .) we send our work out into the world and hope it will make somebody happy. Make them smile or touch them in some way. What a joy it would be to share our work with one of those celebrities.

One of my favorite shows is still "Little House on the Prairie." Anybody who watched Melissa Gilbert grow up as "Half-pint" fell in love with her. Her sun bonnet hanging behind her and her pigtails flying is such a classic.

I was really in to making miniatures for awhile and even sold a few items. One of my favorites to make was a sun bonnet. I read that Melissa Gilbert also collected miniatures and I really wanted to send one to her as kind of a thank you for all the smiles she brought to me.


The scale is one inch to one foot. 

During the same time period my husband and I were very involved in author, historian and celebrity events in Tombstone, Arizona. Although we worked the events we were more with the authors than the celebrities. They were kept more shielded.  

I'd come prepared with a sun bonnet and had another friend give it to her at the signing event. 


She smiled and waved at me. I was honored.

I did get my photo taken with her after the banquet that night. Here's another one I shot while she was posing with her son and and one of the author's spouses. I wish I'd waited to hand it to her myself but I didn't know if another chance would come up.


I'd met her husband at the time, Bruce Boxleitner, a few times and even had lunch with him and a couple of friends at one of the earlier events. That is him in the white hat standing behind Melissa in the photo above.

I thank Ilene for bringing up that memory and will send her a link to this post. It has me going through the large box of photos from those days and I hope to slowly get them all scanned. I will be sharing more here as time goes on.

Thank you for sharing my memory and please share any similar stories you might have.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Remember When: Owls

We finally found a day we could celebrate our anniversary. Hubby's schedule 
has been crazy and I've been under the weather.

We made up for it. 

We headed to Joe's Crab Shack in Tempe and indulged in crab stuffed 
mushrooms, clam strips and steamed snow crab. 


I LOVE SEAFOOD!

Then we took our new ghost hunting equipment to a local cemetery and enjoyed the beautiful weather and learned how to use the equipment. We haven't had time to analyze it all.

As we were sitting under a tree we kept hearing an owl. I walked around and 
around that tree until I finally found him. For those of  you who haven't noticed:


I LOVE OWLS!!


I have a lot of memories connected with owls. I have an aunt who has collected owls forever and her whole house is completely filled with them. I never got pictures of them but they filled the shelf under her coffee table and every other nook in the house. They were from all over the world and made of everything imaginable.

When my grandson was two they were living with us and he'd come in at night and sit on my chest and we'd sing and make animal sounds. My favorite of course was: What does an owl say? 
Who Who Who

After shooting a bunch of stills I got out the other camera and tried to video tape him. I got him looking at me and all round and staring off into the sunset but I couldn't seem to get him Who-ing.
Just as I was giving up I finally got what I wanted.


video

When I was in Washington this summer I tried to explain to that same grandson that I don't know anything about his video games and although I'm glad he's so good at them I'd like to talk about something else.

So he kept asking me all about owls. What their eggs look like, how big they are, what they eat, etc.
He's getting a book about owls as soon as I can find one. 

I also hope to be better prepared for his questions next year. 

Do you have any owl memories?

Oh, and I almost forgot, for about a year we had an owl that loved to sit in the eucalyptus tree in our yard. He has since disappeared but we both loved to wake up and listen to him Who-ing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Remember When: Wedding Day

This photo was taken thirty-eight years ago this week. I remember a time when I didn't think I would live past 30 (a common notion in the 1960s.) Now I've lived twice that long and been married more than half of that.

We met at a disco. He had just gotten out of the Navy and I was in my senior year at ASU. So young, so many dreams.

We lived in an old rock house in south Phoenix which has since been torn down for a freeway. It was a wonderful old house with a fireplace and wooden floors. Later we bought our current house in north Phoenix and raised our daughter and a number of cats, dogs, rabbits, birds and even a horse.

Many of our dreams were put on the back burner and then eventually forgotten. We had our ups and downs but we hung in there.

Now our dreams are smaller. To watch our grandsons grow, to do a little traveling, to visit all the haunted hotels in our state. Our interests have changed sometimes growing apart and sometimes shared. We've met some amazing people and shared some stupendous experiences.

Some things never change. I still love white dress coats with black slacks. He still loves to wear flannel and we both live in jeans. Our favorite music stretches from rock (him) to New Age (me) with Western Ballads and Oldies in the middle. Even though we differ we usually have a central point where we meet.

How has your dreams and life changed? What things have stayed the same? Where does your gratitude lie?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Remember When: Critters

My sister had a way with critters. She always preferred their company over most people. Over the years she had horses, dogs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, and, well, I'm sure I'm forgetting some of them. (She hated cats and only allowed them in the barn but she did have them.)


 I remember her in this position. Her forehead on that of an animal, talking softly, and making peace with the world. They always listened as if they understood every word and wanted her to know it.

She was like Ellie Mae from the "Beverly Hillbillies" except she reminded me more of Granny with all the spitfire and gumption. Betty wouldn't let anybody get away with anything. 

At times it was embarrassing. Like in a store when she grabbed a salesclerk's tie and pulled him over to where she wanted to be to ask questions. She never got in trouble for that. I often feared for her but people seemed to take her in stride.

There was the time she went to the high school band room with her grandson and saw one of those kids with his pants down around his hips. I was told she went right up to him, pulled his tee-shirt up and told him to get a belt. 

I think she shocked them so much they just went along. But, nobody ever came back and filed a complaint or anything. 

Yeah, my Sissy was a handful. I often wish I had her gumption and strength to do the things she loved. Besides all her critters she was an amazing artist. In high school she was selling oil paintings. She could etch on glass and ostrich eggs, she did ceramics, and amazing pen and ink drawings her entire life. 

Most of all she loved her critters. Especially the goats and dogs. She had to give up the horses and eventually the goats because of health problems but there was always a dog at her feet. 

Is there somebody in your family or friend list who had a way with critters? 

Write a story about them.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Remember When: Yearbooks


Do you still have your high school yearbooks? (Assuming you were in a time and place to get one.)
When you come across fellow classmates do you run to look them up? Or flip through the pages to find a face to go with a memory? 

I love my yearbooks and they have a choice position on my shelf. I was on the yearbook staff in high school and college so there is that added connection. 

Friday night I met two energetic and fun author's: Chris and Bev. After talking for a bit Chris and I realized our families came from the same tiny town in southwestern Kansas. Further "do you know?" questions led to the fact that people with her maiden name married into my family a couple of generations before the move west. So we may or may not be cousins. 

Over the weekend I dug out my mother's 1941 yearbook. She was a senior in that tiny little town. So was Chris' father. 


This yearbooks isn't just for the high school. All classes are in this slim volume. Some of my aunts and uncles are on the other pages. 


There's my beautiful mother second from the bottom. She wasn't on the yearbook staff but the girl shown below her was. I won't point out Chris' father but he's up near the top of the page. They were both in the glee club and in band. 

I have a really hard time imagining my mother as a teen. I don't know if she had a job or helped out at home with her five younger siblings. Her grandmother ran the switchboard in Fowler for many years. Her father became a barber. Chris' father or grandfather was a barber (perhaps both.) Her family also owned the ice cream parlor. 

I'm sure Chris and I will have many stories and hopefully some photos to share. 

You just never know when this small world will shrink right onto your own doorstep. 

Do you have similar stories? Have you imagined your parents as teens? 
The possibilities for memories and stories are endless when you use your yearbooks as a memory jogger. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Art Journal Fun

I haven't shared my art journals in awhile. In the meantime, they've taken on a whole new look. At least for now.

That is one of the wonderful things about these journals. Nothing is right or wrong. It is just how you feel at that time. I've gotten away from the layers and layers of paint, paper, stencils, tape, stamps and anything else that comes along.

I've learned and adapted this technique which I learned partly through my friend Barbara and partly through a couple of on-line classes taught by Kelly Kilmer.

Kelly calls this "painting with paper." I find this technique more restful and certainly easier to do when on the road.

Basically with a couple of magazines, bits of left over paper from other projects and some gel pens I'm ready to go. Oh, some scissors, a glue stick and a glue tape runner.

For this project I was simply working in a Canson multi-media art notebook. It has heavy paper meant for "regular" art journaling but I like the spiral binding. I've also done this in books I've stitched myself and, well, any book I like.

I put one large picture from a magazine down and then start adding stuff on top. 
A focal point, stickers, washi tape, and finally pen. 
I did these first few pages while at my daughters and soon my grandson had his spiral book out and was doing his own pages. 

You just never know when a memory will be made.

The one thing I'm carrying through this book is making a quote or saying with some plain word stickers I'd picked up at JoAnns. The page above became "life is a journey." 


This page grew out of thinking about things I like and want to do. You can see all kinds of cutouts from magazines, stamps, scrapbook papers, and some artwork. Whatever happened to be in a folder I had with me and a magazine. 
(I really like working from magazines about flea markets and thrift stores.)


This one got a bit whimsical. Mostly because it just wasn't coming together. That's okay. 
The butterfly sticker on her nose topped it all off. 


I did this page after I got home and had a little more to work with. Whimsy, fun. It came from losing some friends last month and facing a bit of my own mortality. Sad, yes. But I'm not going to let my inner child fade away with sadness. The friends I lost and certainly the friends I see now wouldn't want that. 

So gather some paper, tape, glue, stickers and anything else that strikes your fancy
and go have some fun. 

Let YOUR inner child play.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Remember When: Summer Casualties

That's my cousin, Lisa, in the laundry basket and Granddad Cecil who put her there. This picture is dated June 1960 but that is the developed date so it may have been a year older. I do remember this because everybody was rushing to get cameras to take a picture of Lisa in the basket. I was about seven years old. Granddad was probably reaching into his shirt pocket for a Camel cigarette.

My grandparents lived in a small Kansas town where most everybody had huge gardens and the farms rolled right up to the edge of the property. I don't remember if Grandma had a ringer washer but we did at that time. Laundry day was a big job but those sheets and pillowcases strung out in the Kansas sun smelled so fresh.

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. They lived in another town. Mom would drive me there and leave me for a few weeks and then come back and get me. I loved to explore and seldom wore shoes. I stepped on many a bee and rushed in crying to have grandma put a poultice of baking soda and water on the area to "draw the stinger out." I also had more than one run-in with red ants.

Stubbed toes were common, still are. I got a good one on the bed leg this weekend. Also splinters and other vicious pointy things. It was all part of growing up.

So was a family laugh over some little thing that would have been forgotten if somebody hadn't grabbed their camera.

Do you remember childhood injuries from going barefoot?
Do you remember a grownup doing something completely unexpected?
Do you have an old photo that needs the story to go with it for future generations?




Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Remember When: Thoughts



 Saturday was my niece's fiftieth birthday. Or it should have been. We lost her way too soon. Here's Jackie in the first four generation photo in the lap of my grandma. My mother is next to her and my sister standing. They are all gone. My niece's daughter pointed out that I am now the matriarch of the family. That was really a strange thought to me. I don't feel strong enough to live up to these women.

This post is about my niece. She was 9 years my junior and as we got older became as one. We were so close in so many ways. Through my teen and college years and her growing up years I missed a lot but as she got older we bonded in special ways.

We would talk about our memories and one of them was this planter. I loved this planter which apparently the rest of the family hated. I imagined little people climbing around the edges and going in the door. I made up stories about this house.


When Mom and I moved to Arizona she apparently gave it to my sister. I didn't know that and as an adult I bought a replacement at an antique store. There were so many memories of making up those little stories and losing myself in them.

One day Jackie and I were in Prescott and we came across another one. She told me about doing the exact same thing as she was growing up. We bought her the third version. Sometime later we were telling my sister we found one and she said, "That ugly thing? I have it. You could have had it if I'd known."

I don't know where the original is or even the third one but I still have mine on the shelf over the television.

As time went on Jackie and I found we both loved history, Reese's peanut butter cups, Pepsi, writing, and so much more. We'd spend hours watching Elvis movies and eating those peanut butter cups and drinking Pepsi. We'd laugh over the smallest things. Often only a knowing look between us would set us off.

I miss her very much, but I'm glad to have the memories and to be able to share them.

Write about a special person in your life. Or a special object that nobody else seemed to care about.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Remember When: Ice Cream

I have many pictures of my sister and I. She was ten years older and so many of them look more like mother and daughter. She never liked having her photo taken so I'm surprised there are as many as there are.

This one makes me smile because of the pure devilment in her eyes. I'd hate to be the person on the other end of that look. lol She never lost that look; it just got more intense.

I'm not sure that is an ice cream cone in her hand, may be a candy bar, but I decided to write about ice cream. I don't remember having a lot of ice cream growing up. There was a Dairy Queen across from the park in town and also a Tastee Freeze a few blocks from our house. Oh, and the A&W with root beer floats. sigh

Now it's everywhere and there are so many flavors it seems impossible to decide on a favorite. I think back then there was chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. And Neapolitan: the combination of the three in sections. Usually my favorite because I wasn't never good at making decisions.

My favorites now are chocolate chip and mint chocolate chip. Matter-of-fact when I was carrying my daughter mint chocolate chip ice cream was my primary craving.

I also love Ben & Jerry's. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and sometimes Cherry Garcia.

Ice cream isn't spurring any major memories except going to my cousins and watching them make ice cream with a hand crank machine. I don't remember if I helped, except when it came to the eating part.

I just got a memory flash of my sister in high school with a big bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup. We must have had it more than I thought. Do you remember the Hershey Syrup in the cans that had to be opened with pointed can opener and then we never quite knew what to do with it.

As always, once the memories start they lead to more and more memories. Write about your favorite ice cream as a child and now. Did you use Hershey Syrup? Did you have homemade ice cream? What other memories do you have?


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Travel Log: Home Again

 Just a few photos from my three-day drive home. I left Yakima Tuesday and traveled through Oregon, Idaho and into Nevada. There was a lot of construction in Nevada and I had three long waits while flagmen kept us in line. The times did allow for photos.


I didn't plan on spending another night in Pioche but I did want to stop and see if the Lincoln County Museum was open. It was. It is stuffed full of cool stuff.

While I was in side (about 30 minutes) a storm hit with hard rain and hail. 
The thunder in the mountains was terrible. 
My poor little car was fighting to stay in place. 

So I stayed another night at the Overland Hotel.
This was my room. Isn't it lovely?


No strange experiences this time. 

I was up early and on the road. 
Finally back in Arizona.
The Joshua Tree National Forest.


And home to my Maggie.


I have a lot more to share but for now I'm unpacking, playing catch-up and resting. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Travel Log: Homeward Bound Day 1

As much as I love to travel to Washington and see the kids I'm always glad to head home. I got lots of big hugs to held me over until I get home.

Today was a beautiful day as I cruised through Washington, Oregon and Idaho. I'm just north of the border with Nevada. I took a slightly different route and the scenery was gorgeous. I didn't get any pictures because it was getting kind of dark by that time and a storm is coming in.

So I'm settled for the night.

I just talked to Hubby and the Phoenix area is flooding so I have a feeling tomorrow will be a long, wet day. Thankfully my little car handles it all well.

Again I tried to imagine what it was like to travel the Oregon Trail which I crossed a few times as I headed southeast.

I did take some photos at a rest stop in Oregon. It overlooked the Snake River at one of it's narrower points.


I also snapped some of the surrounding countryside. The mountains go on through 
the entire northeastern corner of Oregon..  

Sometimes as I topped a mountain and looked over the valley to the next rise I felt overwhelmed. 
I can't imagine those pioneers topping a mountain after using drags and ropes and chains to get up there only to have to use them to get back down and then do it over and over again. 

My family came to Oregon much later and probably had trains at least part of the way.
My husband's family came on the Oregon Trail in the 1850s and 60s. 
One of them went to the goldfields in California first and then on to Oregon and then Washington where his family finally met him. They had stayed behind in Missouri while he traveled the West.

So many amazing stories. 

Stay tuned for Homeward Bound Day 2.
(If I don't get washed away. lol)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Travel Log: Last Day

Here are some highlights from my visit with The Boys.


A special lunch at Red Lobster with Flat Stanley.
Each boy has a day with Grammy.


A special birthday party since I can't be here for their actual birthdays.


Working on our journals after one of our walks. 


And a special weekend with my daughter.


I head home early in the morning. I never know where or when I will stop 
or what adventures Flat Stanley and I will have . . . 
so stay tuned. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Travel Log: Goldendale, Washington

 Jessica and I are in Goldendale, Washington for the weekend. We have seen some beautiful things,
such as the Yakima River.

The Presby Mansion and historical society museum.


I did NOT go up the three stories of stairs. I stayed on the ground floor and did some research while Jessica mounted the stairs and took some photos. 

I learned some more about the Martin and Beeks families who settled in this area.

Dinner at an old saloon. Fantastic hamburger.

Then we walked around Main Street and found some really odd things like a 
plastic gorilla and a playing card stuck to the side of a building.


And a thrift store. 

The sign says "Chester drawers w/single bed  . . ."
And some teens in the back who found some old matches in a box and thought it would be fun to light them. 

Tomorrow we head for the old family cemetery and then back up to Yakima.

Stay tuned. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Travel Log: Back to School

Most people look forward to Christmas or even Halloween. 
My favorite time of year is back-to-school.

 Especially when I can take the boys shopping. 


Each boy had a day with Grammy. A shopping spree for school supplies
and lunch at Red Lobster. 


We also take walks and watch for yard sales. No yard sales yet.
We'll try again this weekend. 

Then it will be time to head home. 

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Remember When: Family History

There are as many reasons for starting the search in family history as there are  . . . well, genealogists.

Actually, many start for the same reason I did. They didn't know one or both parents or didn't have a chance to know other family members. I started my quest to learn about my dad but it didn't take long for me to get the genealogy "bug" and search for all my ancestors. 

I have file drawers full of documents and copies of photos. I've tried to get it all in the computer 
but I have had a couple of computer crashes and then got side-tracked. 

Along the way I have found cousins: first, second, third and more, along with those many times removed. 

This is a photo of my dad's family. I don't remember ever meeting any of them except the lady on the far right, my great Aunt Nell. I think that is my dad in the back row, fourth from the right, his head poking up above everyone else.

I do know that is my great grandmother in the wheelchair and her husband seated to her left. That may be my grandfather in the hat and grandmother to his right. Not sure though. 


This photo is much later. There's my dad front row, second from the left. 
He is the handsome one holding the little girl in the bonnet: my sister.


This is my cousin, Linda, who I met a couple of weeks ago 
when she came to Arizona for a wedding. 

Linda is on the left. We had a great time sitting over tea at Starbucks 
talking and talking as if we'd been friends our whole lives. 

She remembers seeing me when I was tiny. She talked about my dad having a beautiful bass voice. He stayed with her family for awhile after he and my mother split up. 

Have you started your own genealogy? What interests you about the search?
Have you found some unexpected relatives? Have you been able to meet any of them?


Monday, August 11, 2014

Travel Log: Nevada, Idaho, Oregon

After leaving Pioche I traveled on up through Nevada in to Idaho. It rained most of the way.


Flat Stanley was glad for the occasional breaks. 


I passed over the Snake River and the Powder River. The book I am reading is the journals of a guy who traveled west during the Civil War. He eventually settled in Montana. Even though it wasn't the exact same area he wrote about the Powder River and what it was like traveling by wagon.


Covered Wagon Days: From the Private Journals of Albert Jerome Dickson

I was really glad for my little car and hotels at the end of the day.

On entering Oregon I stopped at a rest stop and took a photo of this sign. 
Oregon has the best rest stops and visitor's centers. 


The scenery of northeastern Oregon isn't what you would expect. 
The view across the highway from the rest stop. 


 I also crossed the Oregon Trail. 
Then the Columbia River which never ceases to amaze me. It looks like a long lake.  

I think a lot about history and my ancestors as I drive. 
I compose articles and stories. I just hope to get them on paper. 

Tune in later for more about my travels in the West.