Tattered Past

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





Thursday, July 28, 2011

200th Post

Wow. That snuck up on me. Two hundred posts.

I'm here at Barnes & Noble in "my" writing spot. I put that in parenthesise because if my writing buddies are here we get shifted around. But today, one is on her way to Missouri and the other is working so I'm all alone. I thought I would get a lot done but the files I thought were on my flash drive are not there. I was using the desktop so they safely at home. No getting the Phoenix Writers Club newsletter done, no writing an article on the Huachuca Water Company for the "Tombstone Times."

I do have a large hot chai to finish so I'm settled for awhile. Gee. I'm being forced to take a break. How cool is that?

We went to Quinn McDonald's book release at Changing Hands bookstore last night. It was great. There were over 30 people including some I've known on-line but never met in person. (We have plans to get together when I get back from Washington.) Quinn told some great stories about her days working for the CIA and FBI. She talked about the background of her new book. And had us make ourselves permission slips to do something we normally have a hard time doing . . . let go, make art,
make mistakes, take time off, whatever.

Near the end she held up two Inner Critic stuffies as prizes. The whole room went "Ahhhhhhhhhhh." It was so funny. Congratulations to the winners should they find me through the tag. It was pretty amazing to see the reaction of that many people all at once.

This morning I put three more in the mail to make their way to their new homes. I wonder if I remembered to zip their mouths shut. That could get pretty scary for some unsuspecting postal worker who doesn't usually listen to his inner critic.

I also had to go have a little replacement part put on my Kia, and stop by to pick up my eyedrops at the pharmacy. They were waiting for a fax from the Doc but when I called them they hadn't gotten the fax to begin with. This happens so often and I really wonder why they insist on using that system; especially when they don't double check. Just another gripe about the way our society has gone.

I did pick up a couple of post cards to send to my grandsons to remind them I am coming in about a week to give them big hugs and take them to visit the"bee tree." Alex has been worried because they are having a late season and the bee tree hadn't bloomed yet, and if the tree didn't bloom there wouldn't be any bees, and Grammy couldn't visit until we could go see the bee three.

Being a grandparent is the greatest thing on earth. Even when they are far away. It just takes a little more effort to find special things.

I hope you haven't minded the wee bit of rambling. As a reward to those who have stuck with me through this post, and in celebration of my 200th post, I'm going to have a contest. Leave a comment below and on Tuesday I will draw a name for one of you wonderful readers to win their own Inner Critic.

Good Luck. Enjoy and remember to take time for yourself.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Day!

My friend, Quinn McDonald is having a Celebration today for the release of her new book, Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Marking Art. She is giving away an Inner Critic. Check out her blog and the Excitement over at QuinnCreative.

The release will actually be tonight at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona. I can't wait to go, she's going to have cookies and M&Ms.
Here's the book, the piece on found poetry I submitted for the book, and an Inner Critic.

Believe me. It took a lot of zipping that Inner Critic to get that piece made and submitted. A huge step for me. And look at the outcome. So, although our Inner Critics may be helpful at times, they should also spend a great deal of time zipped.

I hope to see some of you at Changing Hands tonight. Or perhaps at the A.R.T. (Artists of the Round Table) yahoo art group where Quinn is teaching a class based on her book. You have to join the group to participate but it is free. If you've never taken an online workshop here's your chance to give it a try...you only have to buy the book.

Now go make art.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Lucy Martin Overdeer, Coming Together


Isn't this picture lovely? This is my husband's great grandmother, Evelyn Lucille (Martin) Overdeer.
She was born in 1888 in Washington State and died in Globe, Arizona in 1920.

One time while visiting with Doug's "Granny" as everyone called her she allowed me to go through a box of photos and make copies with my camera. I had a special set of lenses that fit on the front of my SLR. (This was way before digital took over.) I was able to use natural light and get copies.

Granny told me the Martin's were from Goldendale, WA but I haven't had much luck in researching them until recently. Nobody in Doug's generation or even his mother's kept track of the genealogy. As far as I have found out there hasn't been any connection with the Martins since Granny was a small girl.

I happened across some articles in the early Arizona newspapers that gave me the connection. And surprise, surprise, surprise...some of them were in the tiny town where my daughter and her family now live. Through Ancestry and other sources I have traced the Martins back to Missouri and then Iowa. I wonder what the chances are they will be found in Ohio or Maryland where my Martin family were living generations earlier. Or even be from a common ancestor.

Twilight Zone music...I just realized Doug's great grandma was born a Martin and mine became a Martin through marriage. Her husband spent some time in Oregon and his father is buried in Portland.

This is just some of those synchronicities that happen while doing genealogical research. The connections can be uncanny.

For now I'm happy to know more about the lady in this photo and perhaps when I visit up there next month I can find even more about her Washington relatives.

Do you know of "coming together" stories in your family? Stories in which members of your family seem to come back together after generations or long distances?


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: First Car, Kia Rio


With a "new to me" car in the carport I've been thinking about my other cars. I really haven't had that many. We tend to buy a car and drive it until it won't drive any more.

This Ford Galaxy 500 was my first car. I can't even remember what year it was.

I didn't get my driver's license until I was 18 and already living out of the house. So this car took me through many of those early harrowing driving times. Over-reacting to rain slick roads and a red light and stalling in the middle of a busy intersection. No accidents and one minor ticket for doing a left hand turn seven minutes after the time allowed on a sign on the right side of the street. The cop said he tried to stop the car in front of me but couldn't get their attention. I guess I was an easy mark.

The only dent it ever got was in the "A" Mountain parking lot at ASU. Somebody bashed in the whole right side. I was not a happy camper.

My next car was a white '67 Cougar. Then a silver Mercury Sable. The last is my Pontiac Grand Am which we are donating to the Breast Cancer Society. In 1983 we bought a small 1982 Econoline Van which we still have and it runs great. That's Doug's vehicle along with his '48 Jeep Willys. He drives a work truck for his job so we don't have to worry about that.

So all my cars have been white or silver it feels funny to walk out on the carport and see the bright blue Kia Rio. It's fun to drive though and all I have to do is plug in my MP3. Gee, can you believe I'm catching up a bit in the electronic age.

What was your first car? Do you have pictures?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekend Happenings

We've had quite a weekend and all I want to do now is crawl in to bed with a good novel. I'm currently reading "This Glittering World" by T. Greenwood for my book discussion group on Tuesday. I'm really enjoying it especially since it is set in Flagstaff and Phoenix, Arizona. I love reading novels about my own home state.

Friday night we had a great dinner with our friends, Wyatt and Terry Earp. Great food, great conversation and great friends. Who could ask for more? Wyatt was telling us about performing his Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp programs in Paris. I guess there are a lot of Old West fans there, too.

On the way home my Pontiac Grand Am which has been having lots of problems finally gave up the ghost. Doug worked on it all day Saturday and we decided it was going to cost more to repair it then it was worth...and I would be without a car for who knows how long.

So we went car shopping and came home with a 2009 Kia Rio. I never thought I would own a foreign car but we really like this one and it only had about 8,000 miles on it. Can you imagine? We got a great deal but I'm not looking forward to car payments again.

All of the cars I've owned have been silver or grey so this is going to take some getting used to. It drives well and seems quieter than my old Pontiac. We spent today running errands and taking turns driving.

Have a great week!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Under the Zucchini Leaf

 Meet Aunt Sage. She lives
under the zucchini leaf in
my special Arizona garden.

I met Aunt Sage when my writing buddy, Christine, brought her to our group yesterday.
She isn't much of a writer, the green thumb tends to get in the way, but she is great for the garden and on careful consideration she came home to live under the zucchini leaf.
She has her gardening gloves and a seed packet tucked neatly in her apron and of course a straw hat on her head...an absolute must in the Arizona sun.

So the question now is...how will she do with taking care of the weeds?

(Thank you, Christine.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesdays WIth Rita: Dust Bowl, Monsoon

Summer Storms.

Many people have emailed me or commented after seeing the dust storm we had last Tuesday. It was a pretty big one. But not that unusual. We stood at the kitchen window and could see the house behind us although it was a bit hazy. The streetlight in front of it was a very dim glow. We couldn't see anything beyond that.

What was really strange was seeing all the dust in the morning. It was pooled in dips and looked like tan waves on the parking lots. Cars looked like they had grown fur overnight. Most of them still do...we don't bother to wash our cars very often in monsoon season. In my garden the zucchini leaves looked like they had some strange disease and my lettuce felt all velvety.

We've had a couple of smaller dust storms since then and some thunder and rain two nights ago. You just never know what will happen this time of year. However, what happens in one part of the Valley of the Sun doesn't happen all over. I was talking to a friend once who lives about a mile or so away...she was getting dumped on and we didn't get a drop.

I once heard a hairdresser say that if the weathermen say we have a 50% chance of rain it means that only 50% of the Valley will get rain. That's the best explanation I've heard.

The monsoon starts the first week or two of July and lasts through August. The weather goes from hot and humid to balmy to dusty to pouring down rain. You can see more about it here.

While watching the dust I got to thinking about the Dust Bowl my grandparents lived through. I wrote about that here. The family was in the cellar and couldn't tell when Grandad opened the doors and went outside...the dirt was so think it was black as night. That lasted for a very long time and whole cars and cattle were buried. People died.

This storm made national news. Makes me wonder about all the sensational stuff we see on tv.

One of the great things about the monsoons is the sunsets. I always enjoy a good sunset...but often forget to take pictures.


I've always been a bit afraid of storms and especially lightening. I still remember my grandparents telling me not to stand near the windows and for sure stay away from trees. No matter that those trees surrounded the house.

What storm memories do you have?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Inner Critic Tour

Quinn McDonald has a free giveaway going on over at Create Mixed Media which includes her new book and one of my stuffed Inner Critics. Inspiring mixed media artist, Violette, has made a link to this on her blog here.

Thanks to Quinn, Violette and others, the little stuffies are making a whirlwind tour through blogland.

Thanks to everybody who helps spread the word.

To help celebrate I'm putting a
new batch of Inner Critics in my Etsy shop.


These little guys have been so much fun to make, sell and share. Writers, artists and everybody else with big mouthed Inner Critics can now tell them to just ZIP IT.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sleepless in Arizona

Last night was One of Those Nights. Awake around 1:30 and too restless to even try to go back to sleep. I knew I had to get up at 5:30 to take Doug in to his first day at a new job so that didn't help. I finally gave up and found a page in my art journal and started painting this portrait. I used only Neocolor II watersoluable crayons and black and white acrylic paint. I can see where she's off in various places but I'm pretty happy with her.


The monsoons have officially hit the desert. I went out a couple of days ago to start the water in the garden and this beautiful sky sent me flying back in for my camera. I love Arizona sunsets.

I took this photo of the garden a week or so ago and it has already grown a lot since then. We have had numerous harvests of lettuce and zucchini and two batches of okra. And finally the first two ripe tomatoes.

The Early Girl tomato plants were getting so big and the tomatoes so heavy we had to trim them back a little. It broke my heart to loose those green tomatoes until I started doing some research on how to make fried green tomatoes.

Our ancestors didn't like to waste food either so when they had to trim back the tomato plants they made use of those green tomatoes. I found numerous recipes on the Internet but we ended up using our own version:

Slice the green tomatoes in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
Put them in a bowl and cover with milk.
On a plate mix cornmeal, flour, and seasonings
Put the tomato slices into the flour mixture until well coated and add to a skillet of hot oil to brown on each side. (The consensus seems to be not to use olive oil which we normally would do. They say it overwhelms the tomatoes.)

We had our fried okra (done the same way) and fried green tomatoes with Doug's famous baby back ribs and it was the best meal we've had in a long time.

I don't know how much we are saving by having our own garden in the desert but going out and harvesting our dinner is like heaven on earth.


I've been told this is a night blooming cereus. I'm not sure. The original plant belonged to my mother who passed away in 1990. The first few years it bloomed on or around Mother's Day. It shoots out a long branch and the flower blooms at night and lasts through the next day. It folds up and eventually the branch falls off.

Last month it bloomed with four big blooms but my photos didn't turn out. The other morning I was greeted by this delicate flower and there's another one coming in. Whatever this plant is the message is clear...Mom is always with me in one way or another.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Swimming Babies

 My friend, Cindi, wrote on her blog Loving Arizona Living, recently about how important pools are to all of us in Arizona. She was a Jersey girl and didn't grow up with pools just like this Kansas girl.

Raising families in Arizona changed that. Even though we didn't have a pool we decided it was important to start our daughter in swimming and survival at an early age. Here we are (I'm wearing the hat) in swim class when she was just a few months old. The program was called Swimfants and was a big hit.


She stayed in the program until she was about four
years old. She developed strong swimming skills.
Here she is with the instructor.

And our little bathing beauty. I have always loved this photo for some reason.
No the poor kid didn't have a chance. I didn't have any hair either.
As the popularity of the program grew the series, "That's Incredible" came to town to film the kids. We still have the video and there is a brief view of my back and Jessica jumping into the water. Gosh we haven't looked at that in years.
Since she was so young Jessica doesn't have many memories of those Swimfant years. She does remember swimming on the local Parks & Recreation team and going to meets all over the Valley of the Sun.

What memories do you have of heading to the pool?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Excitement in the Air

Happy Birthday, America.

About two years ago I took a class in raw art journaling at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. The class was taught by a very vibrant and inspiring lady, Quinn McDonald, who has since become a friend. Sharing art does that for people in case you haven't noticed.

Raw Art Journaling attracted me because it is like mixed-media art journaling but simpler and touches me on a different level. In the class Quinn showed us one of her journals that had a wonderful tree on the left side with the cutest little bird flying away towards the right where she had made some notes pertaining to business calls and such. It was done with InkTense Pencils and was lovely.

Quinn travels around the country doing workshops for business and other venues. She journals on the go with pencils, a waterbrush pen, markers, and a few other odds and ends. When she asks for something to drink on an airplane she asks for a cup of water and pulls out her pencils and a waterbrush and she is set for a relaxing trip.

About a year ago Quinn, through her newsletter, asked for submissions in different categories of journaling for a book she was working on about raw art journaling. I sent in a found poetry piece and it was accepted. My first bit of published art. The books will start arriving this week and I can't wait to spend a few hours studying it. We met for coffee about a month ago and I got to see the book itself but I just breezed through it at that point... I didn't want to take up the visit time and I also wanted to savor each page.

You can see the book at amazon.com (my artwork isn't shown.) and learn more about Quinn here.





If you are in Arizona on July 27 join Quinn at the Changing Hands Bookstore. If you haven't been to Changing Hands it is an experience in itself.

I look forward to receiving my copy of this book and immersing myself in creativity.

Friday, July 1, 2011

There and Back Again

I am sitting in the coffee shop across from my friend and fellow writer, C. B. Wentworth. C.B. returned a week or so ago from spending a month in London just "being." She's posted many photos from her trip including a pic she took for me of the Old Curiosity Shop. (I'm a big Dickens fan.) (Thank you, C. B.)

Today she was writing about all the junk food she enjoyed as part of "getting to know the neighborhood." Well, I have to say she brought back a Galaxy bar to share and English chocolate is so different from ours, especially when fresh. A heavenly delight. Today we settled for a mint chocolate Godiva bar. It worked.

C. B spent her month doing some touristy stuff but mostly just picking a direction to go for the day and jumping on the tube to explore with her main interest being coffee shops and book stores. She walked along the Thames and saw so many wonderful sights. She is still in a surreal world somewhere between London and Arizona but I'm glad to have her home and to take in all her excitement and amazing stories.

Even though the heat here in the desert is daunting right now I hope to catch some of her excitement and maybe find some new out-of-the-way places here in Phoenix. After all, many people come here from all over the world to do what C. B. did in London. In the meantime, I hope you will join me in following her adventures and make sure to backtrack through her blog to see more of Jolly Ol' England.

Thanks for sharing C. B.