The Orphaned Images Project: Family portrait

31 01 2011

Several observations came to my mind when I saw this photo:

1) My first thought was of one of the Damien: Omen movies. Remember when Jennings, the photographer, begins noticing that in his photographs there are things that foretell the deaths of the nanny and the priest (such as a line crossing through their back or head)? The photographer’s death is also foretold in his photograph. The first thing I noticed in this photo was the “dagger” headed toward the head of the woman second from left. Ominous!

2) The woman in the center—talk about a wasp waist! And her head appears to be a apparition—not quite all there because of the film’s exposure.

3) Someone has sketched in an outline of the man’s sleeve with pencil. Now there’s retouching in its most primitive form. Hey, we photographers try to work with what we’ve got!

The Orphaned Images Project: Picnics

31 01 2011

Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus)

31 01 2011

I force paperwhite bulbs every year and always forget about their scent—when they begin to bloom and I haven’t noticed yet, I walk around the kitchen and living room and ask myself, “what is that smell?” You’d think I’d learn! I kind of have a love/hate relationship with the smell. It’s okay when you get the first whiff of it, but I made the mistake of moving them from their usual place in the kitchen (which I rarely inhabit) to a table in the living room (where you’ll find me if I’m not in my studio). And I’ve had a mild headache ever since doing so. Wonder why? I’m tempted to call it a day (or a bloom) and pitch them, but some blooms haven’t opened yet and I just can’t bring myself to interrupt the blooming process, obsessive gardener that I am.

I just read a post on Margaret Roach’s blog,, about paperwhites and the trick to keeping them from flopping over (gin, vodka or rubbing alcohol). She also mentions that adding a few drops of bleach might limit the strong scent (if you find the scent offensive, that is). Margaret was the first garden editor of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Go check out her blog—it’s wonderful!

I also learned something from the reader comments: Brent of Brent & Becky’s Bulbs says that the Israeli hybrids are the ones that “stink.” Most likely mine are the ‘Ziva’ hybrid that dominate the market for forced bulbs. He recommends one of the newer Israeli introductions, ‘Inbal,’ which has a nice fragrance. I’ll look for that hybrid in their catalog—but it’s still so convenient to get my $5-after-Christmas-sale-deal at Target, complete with the pot and growing mix—despite the stinkiness. I’ll just keep them in the kitchen again next year.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

The Orphaned Images Project: Party of six

29 01 2011

The card this photo is mounted on reads “Hegemann, San Antonio, Tex.” With a little bit of research, I discovered there was a photographer named Otto Hegemann located on 104 1-2 E. Houston Street around 1914. Further research reveals an Otto H. Hegemann was born March 12, 1904 and passed away September 2, 1993 at the age of 89 in San Antonio. I found an Otto Hegemann, photographer, listed as a member of the Scientific Society of San Antonio. This photo is very likely to be his handiwork, although if Otto donated photography services to the Society in 1914, and he was born in 1904, he would have only been 10 at the time! It’s possible there’s an Otto Sr. and an Otto Jr.

Take a close look at the little girl on the left, sitting in her father’s lap. She has been photographed separately and (crudely) inserted into the photo, with a little bit of painting work done to blend her in. Can you imagine what Otto would say if he saw this done in Photoshop today?!

The Orphaned Images Project: Texas bride

29 01 2011

Bleeding Hearts at Brookside Gardens

28 01 2011

Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis)—I photographed this plant at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD on a photo trip with my friend Jeff in April 2008. I posted it as part of a collage for my original posting but decided today that it needs its own spotlight!

Something I didn’t know—it’s a member of the poppy family! This hardy perennial grows well in Zones 2-9 and blooms from April through June. It can do well in full sun or partial shade, although I mostly see it thriving in partial shade in woodland gardens. It has been grown for centuries in Korea, China and Japan. German botanist J.G. Gmelin first brought the plant to Russia for the botanical garden where he was employed. In 1947 Robert Fortune brought the plant to Western Europe through a sponsored trip by the Royal Horticulture Society.

I also learned the “bleeding heart story,” which I hadn’t heard before. I found this excerpt on

It is said that a prince loved a princess who took no notice of him. To try to get the princess’s attention and prove his love, he brought her exquisite and amazing gifts from far and wide. One day he came across two magical pink bunnies and offered them both to the princess. At this point, the story teller pulls off the two outer pink petals and sets each on it sides to show the animals. The princess was unmoved by the rabbits so, he tried again and presented her with beautiful dangly earrings. The next two inner white petals are separated and held up next to the narrator’s ears for display. Still, the princess paid him no attention. The prince was so distraught over being spurned that he took a dagger and stabbed himself. The remaining centre of the flower is shaped like an outline of a heart with a line down the centre. The heart is held up, the dagger-like line is removed, and the story teller plunges the “knife” through the heart’s centre. The princess, realizing too late that she did love the prince, cried out, “My heart shall bleed for my prince forever more!” and her heart bleeds to this day.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Name that flower!

28 01 2011

I photographed this lovely plant in August when Carmen and I visited the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I couldn’t find an identification label, so I have no idea what it is and I hadn’t seen it before. Any of you plantaholics out there want to give this challenge a whirl?

IDENTIFICATION UPDATE: Fellow blogger and landscape designer extraordinaire John Black suggested it is Clematis armandii. I took a look at various sources on the web and he’s right! (Thanks, John) John is principal of Verdance Fine Garden Design in Palo Alta, CA. His work has been featured on HGTV’s Landscape Smart and Landscaper’s Challenge series. I interviewed John back in May 2010 about what it takes to be a landscape designer. Read his insightful, witty and inspirational answers here.

Check out his wonderful blog too:

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Repost: Photographs? Well, not technically.

28 01 2011

Originally posted 1.28.2010

A few years ago I dabbled in scanning flowers on my Epson flatbed scanner and got some pretty good results. The technique works best if you can cover the flower arrangement with a dark piece of fabric or black cardboard. While the original images were nice “record” shots of my flowers, I wanted to do something more with them. I ran the scanned images through some artsy Photoshop filters to give them a romantic, soft-focus glowy look. So there you have it…photographs without a camera!

Not long after I toyed with the process, I saw an exhibit of photographer Robert Creamer’s images at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. These large-scale works were amazing! He scanned all sorts of things—dead birds, flowers, fruit, bones, and more. You can read more about his Smithsonian exhibit here and see more of his work on his website here. Watch the video here for a demonstration of his setup.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

My GardenMuse blog has been Freshly Pressed today!

27 01 2011

Each weekday WordPress selects about ten new blog posts for the “Freshly Pressed” section of the homepage. According to WordPress: These posts represent how WordPress can be used to entertain, enlighten, or inspire. Getting promoted to Freshly Pressed is a major traffic win because receives a high volume of page views. And, we have a feed set up so people can subscribe to Freshly Pressed. Why do we do all this? It’s our way of saying we like you. We really like you.

I awoke this morning to more than a dozen comments on my garden blog, Several of the lovely visitor comments ended with either, “congrats on the feature” or “congrats on being FP.” FP? What is an FP? Then I realized they were congratulating me on being “Freshly Pressed.” I went directly to the main homepage and voila! I had been Freshly Pressed. Thanks for making my day, WordPress!

Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’

27 01 2011

As I write this, our backyard is covered in several inches of snow. It began about 3:00 p.m. this afternoon and didn’t stop until this evening. The snow fell fast and heavy and all the tree branches are outlined in white (a feast for the eyes, but not so good for the trees). Photographic opportunities abound tomorrow morning! Until then, I offer up some color from my garden last spring to contrast the white on white wonderland out there now. Could the Farmer’s Almanac really be correct? It is really only 52 days until spring?

This ‘Nelly Moser’ Clematis has been growing over our tiny backyard pond for more than nine years. In the spring of 2008 it had its most prolific blooming period ever. I wrote about it on this blog here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

26 01 2011

Comfrey (also comphrey) is a perennial herb of the family Boraginaceae and is native to Europe. I photographed this flower at the Huntsville Botanical Garden in Huntsville, Alabama.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Skipper on Hyacinth Bean Vine (Dolichos lablab)

26 01 2011

I was looking through my garden photo archives and came across this little Skipper. I grow this pretty ornamental vine in a pot outside our front door each summer. The purple seed pods are known as lablab.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Re-post: Yearning for blooms

24 01 2011

Originally posted January 26, 2009

Sigh. How much winter is left?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Repost: Picture this. Miami. Christmas day. 1991.

24 01 2011

Originally posted January 2010

(FYI, the title borrows from the character Sophia Petrillo in Golden Girls…”Picture this. Sicily. 1912.”)

With no plans to visit our respective families for Christmas that year (no particular reason not to either), we declared that Christmas must be spent in the Everglades National Park. We loaded up the car with cameras and camping equipment and embarked, with unbridled enthusiasm, on Great Adventure #17 (remember, this was early on in our courtship, so the adventures hadn’t stacked up just yet!) to the Everglades. What surprised us most is how close the park is to Miami. One minute you’re at the mall, the next minute you’re surrounded by alligators.

Camping + Nachos + Steve Martin = It Must Be Christmas!
Michael, master camper that he is, set up a fine tent. It was getting late and we were too impatient to cook over a campfire (okay, so I was the one who was too impatient), so we did what any camper would do if they were just a mile from a city—get in the car and drive to a Mexican restaurant, followed by a late showing of the newly-released movie, Father of the Bride. Mexican Food and a chick-flick. How Christmas-y is that?

Gators + Marshmallows + Open Boat = Are You Kidding Me?
One afternoon we booked a tour on an airboat that took us through the glades to spot alligators. At one point the guide spotted a rather large one, slowed the boat down, then tossed out a marshmallow in its direction. The guide then joked (insert Captain-Clint-from-Jaws voice here), “Aye…ya know…he could scamper onto dis boat in no time flat if he really wanted to…arghhh.” The group was so silent, you could have heard a marshmallow drop.

One morning we were walking along the Anhinga Trail…camera in hand, I searched for something to record in the saw grass marsh. I came around a corner and there sat a miniature alligator…not more than a foot long…and a mere five feet away from me. I stopped and snapped a few shots. Then I kneeled down and shot a few more, moving very slowly so as not to frighten him away. Michael was a few feet behind me. I paused, then turned to him and asked, “umm…this is a baby alligator, right?” He nodded yes. “umm…so…where is its mother?” He replied, “in the tall grasses near this boardwalk, probably watching you.” We had seen several “mothers” sunning themselves on the banks when we entered the park. This little guy? I could take him, but I was no match for his mother. “Ummm…10 shots of this little guy is plenty, I do think. Oh, my, I think it’s time for lunch. Let’s go. Now.

Do You Get the Feeling We’re Being Watched?
I photographed these Black Vultures in a tree overlooking our campsite. In retrospect, I think these vultures must have seen our license plates, figured we were lost Yankees, and were just waiting for us to run out of prepackaged R.E.I. meals and simply perish…our bodies ripe for the picking. Little did they know that in town we had supplemented our MRE’s with refried beans, enchiladas, buttered popcorn and Nonpareils. We lived to tell the tale.

Vulture #2: “So, how long do you give ’em?”

Vulture #1, shrugging shoulders: “I dunno. Whaddya think? Two, three days, tops?”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

The Orphaned Images Project: John (Judge) Botts

23 01 2011

John Judge Botts is Tippie’s paternal grandfather. Born 3.15.1815 in Clairborne County, Tennessee, he was the son of Thomas Botts and Martha Wilson. He had eight siblings: Nancy, Seth, Joshua, Susan Frances, Anna, Martha Elizabeth and Thomas Howard. He married Elizabeth Harvey 6.11.1835 in Howard County, Missouri. He was 20 and she was 14. They had 10 children (!): Sarah Margaret, Louisa, William Marion, John Dickerson, Martha Frances (Franny), Mary Ella, Lenora Belle (Nora), Emma Katherine, Nancy and Mary. He died 8.22.1896 in Salisbury, Chariton, Missouri.

The Botts family research reveals 1838 John and his brother Joshua were among the volunteers to the Mormon War. The Mormons raided this section, stealing fodder by cutting the corn and packing it on their horses, and digging potatoes and carrying them away. Sometimes they traded trinkets for it, but generally took what they could lay their hands on. John was the first settler of Parsons Creek township within its present domain. He first came in 1833, and his brother, Joshua came with him, and they put up a cabin of poles. He settled on section one, township fifty-seven, range twenty-two, but it was nearly three years before he brought his family.

From the Chariton Township archives: Judge Botts comes of an ancestry of brave-hearted pioneers and soldiers, who have shown the hearty manhood to help clear away the forests and build up states, and the moral courage to defend them. The founder of the family in this country came to America in the early days of the colonies. Judge’s grandfather, Joshua Botts, was a soldier in the war of the revolution, and followed the meteor like flag of the infant Republic until it moved in triumph from north to south. He afterwards became a pioneer settler of Tennessee and reared a large family. He lived to the advanced age of 106 years and finally died in Linn county.

The judge’s father, Thomas Botts, who was a soldier in the war of 1812, tore himself away from her whom he had just made his wife, and volunteered for the defense of his country. When the storm of the war had passed he became the first settler in the northern part of the county, at a time when his only neighbors were the knights of the torch and the tomahawk. He lived here many years and was a successful farmer and became very wealthy. His wife, formerly Miss Martha Wilson, daughter of Robert Wilson, was a woman worthy to be the wife of a soldier, pioneer and noble hearted man….About 1834, the family moved to Linn county, where the father died about 1852 and the mother about 1875.

Judge Botts was little more than a year old when his parents settled in this county in 1816. He grew up here and was married in 1835, Miss Elizabeth, daughter of William Harvey, becoming his wife. They were both quite young, the groom being only twenty and the bride fourteen, but their married life has been a happy one, and has been blessed with ten children: Louisa A., the wife of Dr. J. R. Sands, of Salisbury; William M., of Linn county, John D., Fanny, the wife of Dr. Worthington Morehead, and Misses Ella, Mary E., Nora B. and Emma B., all of this county. A year after his marriage, Judge B., moved to Linn county, and there lived until sixteen years ago, when he returned to this county. The qualities in a family that makes pioneers and soldiers in early and troublous times, in times of peace and in an advanced state of society, make prosperous, progressive citizens, leaders and representative men in their respective localities. Judge Botts became one of the largest and wealthiest farmers of Linn county, his farm numbering over 1,300 acres, and he was one of the leading citizens of the county. For thirty years he was a member of the county court, and two years later he was an able and popular representative of the people in the state legislature. In 1867, he returned to Howard county to spend the golden evening of his life under the vine and fig tree he had planted in the radiant morning. Here he has an elegant home supplied with every comfort. “How blest is he who crowns in shades like these, a youth of labor with an age of ease.”


Here’s an interesting connection to me (geographically). John Judge Botts’ grandfather, Joshua, was born in Overwharton Parish, Stafford, Virginia 7.24.1751. (Stafford is only about 30 miles from me!) Joshua married Sabina Birdwell in 1766 and they had four children: Seth, Ellen, Rebecca and Thomas (who was John Judge Botts’ father). Joshua died in 1857 in Linn, Missouri at the (unheard-of-in-that-era) age of 106.

This is the only photograph in any of the albums that had a name scribbled on the back! He’s a rather stern looking fella, isn’t he?

The Orphaned Images Project: Tippie Botts’ album (cabinet cards)

23 01 2011

This 8×10 album was owned by Tippie Botts of Meadville, Linn Co., Missouri, and is inscribed with the date Oct. 5th, 1886. These are just a few of the cabinet cards in the album.

The Orphaned Images Project: Nellie’s bible & family photos

22 01 2011

In the box our family friend Doris gave me many years ago, there are two photo albums that are chock full of cabinet cards, tintypes and even a post-mortem photo of a little girl (both albums belong to a young woman from Missouri named Tippie Botts). There are also three Daguerreotypes (or Ambrotypes), three autograph books (one belongs to Tippie and the other two belong to Helen Shepherd), and a tiny bible given to Nellie by her mother in 1877.

The main title page reads: The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments, translated out of the original tongues; and with the former translations diligently compared and revised, by His Majesty’s Special Command. Appointed to be read in churches. London, printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode, printers to the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty.

The two photos below are the remaining Daguerreotypes Ambrotypes that were not inside the photo albums. I assume the trio in the photo below are siblings. In the photo of the older gent, the photographer appears to have painted something white in his hand—I can see texture on top of the image.

Late-Breaking Research!
On one ancestry website I discovered this information: Nellie’s birthname was Nellie Celeste and she was born 12.21.1871. When you look at the year Burdette Barr married Eva Trimble, you’ll note that she couldn’t have been Nellie’s mother. Further research reveals he was previously married to Hattie Grey on 9.15.1869 in Linn County, Missouri. Hattie most likely was Nellie’s mother.

Nellie married William Sterling Botts on 12.24.1891 when she was 20 years old. Her sister Carrie married Nat Hopson and another sister, Ida Belle (born 10.19.1873) married a man with the last name Littrell and then married a second time to Virgil Botts.

The smaller photo album belongs to Tippie Botts and in the front of the album I found a newspaper clipping that reads:

Death of B.G. Barr

Burdette G. Barr a former citizen of Meadville died in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, July 10. Mr. Barr had been sick about ten days with the pleurisy, and the news of his death came as a shock to his relatives and friends here. The remains were brought here for interment. The funeral was held at the Baptist church Sunday morning under the direction of the M.W.A. of which Mr. Barr was an honored member. The funeral was preached by Eld Smith of Wheeling. The immense congregation which packed the church gave evidence of the great esteem in which the deceased was help by the people of his community. With impressive ceremony the body was laid to rest in the Meadville cemetery by the Woodman. Mr. Barr was born near Beloit Wisconsin, July 18, 1849, moved to Mo. in 1869, lives on a farm near Meadville until fall of ’98. Moved to South Dakota in 1900. Had three children all of whom live in Meadville, Mesdames Nellie Botts, Carrie Hopson, and Belle Botts. He was married Dec. 1899 to Mrs. Eva Trimble who survives him. The relatives have the…(clipping torn at this point)

I’m surmising that Tippie is related to Nellie since she kept the newspaper clipping in her photo album.

Special thanks to Alan for clarifying that these are Ambrotypes and not Daguerreotypes!

The Orphaned Images Project: Tippie Botts’ album (tintypes)

22 01 2011

Tintypes are also known as ferrotypes and melainotypes. They are actually produced on a metallic sheet (not actually tin) instead of traditional glass. The plate was coated with collodion photographic emulsion and sensitized just before it was exposed. Introduced by Adolphe Alexandre Martin in 1853, it became instantly popular, especially in the U.S.

Tintypes were popular with street photographers and photographers working outside fairs and carnivals because the process didn’t require much capital to get set up in business. It was also faster to create: no negative needed and no drying time—making it a one step process. Tintypes also didn’t require mounting in a case and were not as fragile as glass-based images. They were easy to cut and fit into pocket watches or charms. It was the most common photographic process until gelatin-based processes were introduced. 

In some of the images below, the photographer hand tinted the cheeks of his subjects.

Late-Breaking Research! I just figured out that Sarah (Sallie) Buchanan Gordon (the young girl whose autograph book I previously posted, along with a lock of her hair) would later marry William Marion Botts, a farmer. They had four children: Parrilee, William Jr., Lorraine and Tippie. So it appears the contents of this box might have originated with one family after all. I’m not sure what Nellie’s connection to the family is, though—perhaps they are cousins.

(It just dawned on me that my enthusiasm for this particular project is verging on obsessive…perhaps I should be researching my own family instead? Then again, I’ve never seen photos this old from either side of my family!)


From Vimeo: Human + Ice Skates = the Perfect Camera Dolly

21 01 2011

Turn up your sound and watch this video by filmmaker Kasper Bak. It has a lovely rhythm to it. After I viewed it, the following things ran through my mind (simultaneously):

1) Wow, I really, really need that Nikon D7000 right now. Great HD video capability.

2) I would need some ice skates, too.

3) Hmmmm…just remembered that I really don’t like having my feet all bundled up in socks and laced up, corset-like into skates that feel two sizes too small. I was raised in the south…you know, where bare feet originated.

4) Oooh…wait a minute. I did try ice skating in D.C. back in my late 20s and it really wasn’t pretty. Suffice it to say, I suck at ice skating.

5) And anyway, this is metropolitan D.C. We get snow one day and it melts the next (but the schools all close anyway). I’d have to go to Montana to find ice thick enough to make my movie.

6) Speaking of Montana—-back in the late 90s when we visited Michael’s Aunt Jackie near Yellowstone for Christmas, she took all of us ice fishing. We traversed the lake via snowmobile and the kids sat on 5-gallon buckets for hours (the fish were a no-show). I remember thinking, “I just won’t get off the snowmobile. You know, just in case the ice cracks.” Apparently I’m not as smart as I look after all, despite the cute glasses. I did venture onto the ice but very, very slowly (as if that would save me?). Long enough to say I did it and to make the laughing stop. Folks, I was born in Alabama and raised in south Texas. We don’t have lakes that freeze. Sure, sure, I know you’re a native…you’re probably right that the ice really is more than a foot thick on that lake. I don’t care how thick you assure me that ice is, I just don’t know if I can truly ever trust you. What if you are wrong?

7) and just by chance you are wrong, look where my Nikon D7000 (that I don’t have) and I would end up!

<p><a href=”″>Dutch Winter</a> from <a href=”″>Kasper Bak</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The Orphaned Images Project: Resseguie, Comstock and sundry items

20 01 2011

Several years ago Michael and I attended an ephemera auction in Alexandria, Virginia on a whim. We were out shopping and saw a sign announcing the auction to be held the next night, so we decided to check it out. I don’t remember spending much money (less than $100, as I recall), but I came away with a wealth of paper treasures. In addition to several etchings (one dated 1794!), I acquired a medium-sized (ratty) rattan suitcase, its lid bulging from the contents of the case—early 1900s photographs, concert programs (including a Casino de Paris production of Charming Paris, directed by Henri Varna and featuring French film actor Robert Berri, Joan Daniell, Nicolas Arasse and others), a 1910-11 Scholar’s Monthly Report (for fifth grader Earl C. Holsinger from Mayland, VA), books (including Hindenburg’s March into London, translated from the German original and published in 1916 by the John C. Winston Company in Philadelphia), postcards, magazines (including a 1920 Harper’s Magazine), newspaper clippings, a Savings Bank of Baltimore statement booklet (for Mr. Carl E. Weingarten of Baltimore, MD with deposits in 1939–1941 ranging from $1.10 to a royal sum of $5.00!), a 1921 automobile insurance card (for Raymond Koonts of Bedford County, PA), several 1930 Western Union Cablegrams (sent to London from a New Jersey woman named Mimi reporting about a man named Gunnar who is very ill), handwritten letters from a Syracuse University student from Maryland in 1972, and manuals for everything from motors to kitchen appliances. There are numerous other items that I’ll share with you as the mood strikes me. I have no clue as to whether this collection is from one sentimental person or a jumbled mix thrown together by the auctioneer. In any case, I will share a few of the more interesting items from this treasure trove of history.

Most items were loose in the suitcase, but there was one plastic baggie with a stack of photos seemingly all relating to a house or two and the families who resided there. Several of the photos show a family on the front porch of a beautiful white two-story structure, a grandfather with his grandchildren and various gardens around a house. The first photo is a b&w postcard of a watercolor painting of a house labeled “Alexander Resseguie—1738.” Written in pencil on the back is the following:

My great grandfather purchased this house in 1858 for his son-in-law James Comstock, who was my grandfather (father of Strong Comstock). The original Comstock house was across the road on land still in the family (grant of land, 1700) long since burned.


In my research I first found mention of an Alexander Resseguie in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1709. Below is an excerpt from the genealogical record I found on this site here.

Alexander Resseguie was a settler in Norwalk, Conn., in 1709. Tradition has it that he was the younger son of one Alexandre Resseguie, a Huguenot refugee from France, who brought with him from the mother country a small hair-covered trunk, studded with iron nails, containing all of the family wealth he was able to secure, consisting largely of title deeds to property in France. Hoping to some day regain his abandoned possessions, he educated his eldest son to the profession of the law, intending when the time was ripe, he should return to Fiance and establish a claim to the family estates. This hope was destined never to be realized, for the son died just previous to the time of his intended departure on this mission, and the father, disheartened, abandoned the undertaking; the trunk* and papers passed into the possession of the younger son, and at a subsequent period the latter were, the most of them, destroyed by fire.

(*This trunk is now in the possession of Col. George E. Gray of San Francisco, It is eleven and one-half inches long, seven inches wide, and four inches high; the top oval. The wood is worm-eaten; very little hair remains upon the leather, and the nails with which it is studded are of hammered iron. The papers contained in the trunk were nearly all destroyed by fire, by the wife of Timothy Resseguie (14), during a fit of temporary insanity.)

Just how much of fact underlies this tradition we know not. It is the opinion of the compiler that the family fled to England, before coming to this country, and that one Alexandre de Ressiguier, from Trescle’oux, in Dauphiny, who was known as a silk manufacturer in London, in 1696, was the father of Alexander of Norwalk. It is probable that an earlier residence of the family in America would have been a matter of record, but no trace of the name of Resseguie (save one * ) has been found prior to the appearance of Alexander in Norwalk, in 1709. Thus we are compelled to record him as the head of the family, and the ancestor of the American Resseguies. On the first day of April, 1709, he purchased a tract of land of Samuel St. John, and from this time for many years, he was interested in acquiring land, the records showing one hundred or more estates to which he held the titles, located in what is now comprised in the towns of Nonvalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, New Canaan, Westport and Weston. The ability to make these large acquisitions would seem to indicate the substantial character of the contents of the hair trunk.


So here I am with my (ratty) rattan suitcase full of treasures, suddenly wishing I possessed the moth-eaten leather trunk! It is highly likely the house in these photos was inhabited by generations of people related to Alexandre Resseguie. Let’s go with that assumption until I discover otherwise.

Notes: The photo of the little girl has “Lilly” written in pencil on the back. Looks like Grandpa is catching a few zzzzz’s before dinner in the photo of the elderly gentleman in the dining room. The last photo of a house may be the same house and perhaps the portico was changed at a later date. I zoomed in on the photo in Photoshop and the shutters and narrow windows on either side of the front door are the same, but it could possibly be the original Comstock house directly across the street from this house, which, according to the postcard author, “long since burned down.” It looks like there is a lively lawn party going on—and take a look at the car in the foreground!

When researching just exactly what classifies as “ephemera,” I discovered there is a club for such collectors (but of course there is!)—The Ephemera Society of America. Their definition of ephemera: “includes a broad range of minor (and sometimes major) everyday documents intended for one-time or short-term use.” I wouldn’t consider these family photos “one-time or short-term” use, but my suitcase did contain a lot of memorabilia, ticket stubs, programs and the like.

Hearing Loss Magazine: 2010 Recap

12 01 2011

The first issue in 2011 of the Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just arrived in member mailboxes this week. I design the bimonthly magazine and provide photography services. Reflecting back on 2010, I photographed Charles Mokotoff, a classical guitarist and IT specialist from Maryland; Lois Johnson, a former librarian and now the state director of the Texas State Office of the HLAA Chapter in Houston; Jennifer Thorpe, a wife, mother of five, avid blogger and hearing loss advocate from Tennessee; Craig and Lisa Yantiss, and their young son, Anthony, from Virginia; and Lisa Fuller Seward, a missionary back in the states from an assignment in Mali. These cover subjects are in the links below. To view the corresponding pdf links, click on the link, then on the same link again in the next window. The pdf should begin to download and open automatically.

January/February 2010: Classical guitarist Charles Mokotoff was our cover subject in A Life in Music, an interview by HLM editor Barbara Kelley. At age 15 Charles experienced sudden onset of hearing loss in both ears, leaving him with a severe-to-profound loss. Medical intervention was unsuccessful, and he was “given one hearing aid and sent off into the world.” Charles graduated cum laude from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in music, concentrating on classical guitar. He continued on to Ithaca College where he received a master’s degree. He was hired to teach music at Ithaca College and began a career with impressive highlights—one being his Carnegie Hall debut in 1987. In 1992 he set the guitar career aside and began his IT career, leading to his current post at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Sixteen years later, he felt the urge to play again and now balances an active life of performing with his job at NIH. On a personal note, he graciously performed at our first annual Tapas Party last November and was an instant hit with our guests! Read my post about Charles’ cover debut here. You can download and read his article by clicking here: Charles Mokotoff HLM Feature. Visit to listen to his music, watch videos, and see a list of upcoming recitals. His CD is available on CD Baby: Also in this issue: Hearing Health for Young Musicians—Embracing the Concept Early by Catherine V. Palmer; The Third Year: Personal FM Systems and Adults by Mark Ross; Hearing Loops Conference in Zurich by David G. Myers; Hearing Loss—The Price of War by Stephen O. Frazier; and Ascending from Deafness, by Karen Moulder

March/April 2010: The 2010 HLAA Convention in Milwaukee was the cover focus for this issue. Also in this issue: Hearing with Our Brain: Karen’s Journey Back to the World of Sound by Barbara Liss Chertok; Adam Mednick: Noted Neurologist with Profound Hearing Loss by Manny Strumpf; I Just Got Hearing Aids…Is That All There Is? by Mark Ross; Changing Lives in the Developing World by Paige Stringer; They Can Change a Life—A Message to the Pros by Colin Cantlie and Joe Gordon; and Compound Grief and Hearing Loss by Marc F. Zola

May/June 2010: HLAA member Ettalois (Lois) Johnson graced this month’s cover with her article, A Journey into the World of Hearing Loss. For more than 20 years Lois has suffered from Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance. She was diagnosed at age 38, after having migraines, vertigo and tinnitus. Less than six months later, the hearing in one ear had greatly diminished. Ten years later, the hearing in her “good” ear also had deteriorated to the point that she decided to pursue a cochlear implant. She became actively involved with her local HLAA chapter in Houston and attended her first HLAA convention in 1991. She hasn’t missed an HLAA convention since! Also in this issue: Hurricanes and Hearing Loss: Surviving the Storm by Lise Hamlin; Stigma and Hearing Loss—The Lowdown by Mark Ross; Invisible No More by Michael Eury; Getting Her Life Back—This Could be Your Story by Barbara Kelley; Let’s Hear it from the (Walk4Hearing) Teams: How Alliance Groups Work by Ronnie Adler and Rebecca Lander; and The Color of Quiet by Mary McCallister. Read my post about Lois on my blog here.

July/August 2010: HLAA member Jennifer Thorpe and her family (husband Dicky, son Will, and four daughters—Katie, Rachel, Claire and Ellie) graced this month’s cover. Jen wrote I Am Simply Me, sharing how hearing loss affects the family dynamic. Jennifer lost most of her hearing around age four and now has two cochlear implants. Also in this issue: Hearing Loss is Not Just About Me by Cathy Kooser; Let’s Hear from the Families by Barbara Kelley; Employment and Equal Access: A Success Story by Lise Hamlin; What’s On Your Mind? A Question for the Psychologist by Michael A. Harvey; and My Dad, the Ford Man by Tom Hedstrom. Read my post about Jennifer and her family here.

September/October 2010: This issue focused on children with hearing loss, featuring Craig Yantiss and his son Anthony. Anthony’s mother, Lisa, shared her story with Barbara Kelley in We Thought the Test Was Wrong. Anthony failed the newborn hearing screening twice and was later diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears. He wears a hearing aid and has a cochlear implant. Also in this issue: About Maya: A Daughter Born with Hearing Loss by Robyn Bittner; Moving from Grief to Warrior Mode by Christina Marmor; The Early “Big Bang”—A Guide for Parents from a Parent by Marcia Finisdore; Convention 2010 in Milwaukee…Inspiring! by Nancy Macklin; Cell Phones Age into Hearing Aid Compatibility by Lise Hamlin; Hearing Aid Features: A Closer Look by Mark Ross; and The Boy Who Did a Good Deed by AJ Traub. Read my post about this issue here.

November/December 2010: The final issue of 2010 featured HLAA member Lisa Fuller Seward and her article, A Missionary’s Life, chronicling her adventure with hearing loss through the “Dark Continent.” In 2008 she “went from being a healthy 41-year-old wife and mother, living overseas and loving serving my family and God to being sick, then hospitalized, then deaf—permanently.” After a bout with malaria (very common in the area and not her first experience with it), the new medicine she was on caused her kidney function to elevate. She was then given an antibiotic that was ototoxic (toxic to the hearing system), and because of her kidney problems, it had a catastrophic effect on her cochlea. The dosage she was told to take was four times the amount usually prescribed. She was deaf for six months before pursuing a cochlear implant back in the U.S. Her first implant surgery was in September 2008. She now has two cochlear implants. Also in this issue: We Move Forward When We’re Ready by musician Richard Reed; The Sounds of Music—Strategies for Improving Music Appreciation with a Cochlear Implant by Donna L. Sorkin; Choosing and Using a Cell Phone with Your Hearing Aid or Cochlear Implant by Lise Hamlin; Convention 2011—A Capital Experience by Nancy Macklin; The Hearing Healthcare Professional—The Key Factors in Determining Successful Use of a Hearing Aid by Mark Ross; Purchasing a Hearing Aid—A Consumer Checklist; and From Invisible to Invincible by Shifra Shaulson. Check out my post about Lisa here. Download Lisa’s article in pdf format by clicking the link here: LisaFullerSeward.

Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, Costco membership, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.

No Barriers: Bill Barkeley

11 01 2011

Bill Barkeley is the cover subject for the January/February 2011 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I had the immense pleasure of photographing Bill and his wife Mary Beth this past summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was there as the keynote speaker for HLAA’s annual convention in June 2010.

Bill is one of 15,000 people in the United States and 100,000 in the world with Usher Syndrome Type II, which is the leading cause of deaf-blindness. Bill has worn hearing aids since he was five years old, but in 1987 he discovered that he had been slowly going blind his whole life. “My hearing loss is 85 percent bilateral, progressive, severe sensorineural hearing loss. I am also legally blind,” he said. We took a taxi over to a local park for our photo session, and on the way Bill and Mary Beth told me about their journey since Bill was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome Type II. Usher Syndrome is an inherited condition. The vision loss is due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative condition of the retina, and the hearing loss is due to a genetic mutation affecting nerve cells in the cochlea. Learn more about Usher Syndrome on the Foundation Fighting Blindness website here. Despite their challenges, the Barkeleys are the most down-to-earth, upbeat and positive couple that I’ve ever met!

In his article, No Barriers, Bill writes about dealing with hearing loss since early childhood, marrying Mary Beth and raising their three sons, then being diagnosed with Usher Syndrome Type II. By 2007 he had worked his way up to being a director of sales and marketing for a Fortune 500 company. He then decided he “needed a challenge and a vision to help take me on the next phase of my life.” At age 45, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, utilizing the latest hearing aids, FM systems and Bluetooth technology. He said it changed his life. “I retired from my 25-year career. I became a deaf-blind adventurer and storyteller, traveling the globe while sharing a message of inspiration, aspiration, hope and faith for those with hearing and vision loss.”

Walk Your Own Path, a film by Josh Levine, documented Barkeley’s climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. The climb was also covered in the July 2008 issue of Outside Magazine. In Triumph of the Human Spirit: Reaching New Heights with Hearing Technology, published on, in 2008, Bill wrote, “My mission is to educate people about all the available technologies and how they can transform and enhance their lives. The greatest message that came out of my climb was that I had dual disabilities and I did not ask for accommodations. The expedition team did not modify expectations, processes or goals to help me summit. I blended in with assistive technology…it was assimilation versus accommodation. That is incredibly liberating. People describe me as deaf-blind but these words do not define me.”

In 2009 he was awarded the No Barriers USA James O. Goldsmith award. The award “recognizes the individual that passionately and selflessly works to break down the barriers that limit accessibility to life. Through pioneering spirit, focused determination, innovative spirit and tireless effort, the recipient opens the door to adventures for others.”

In July 2010, Bill took a group of kids (with and without hearing loss) to the Peruvian Amazon on the first Hear the World expedition. Hear the World is a global initiative by hearing system manufacturer Phonak to raise awareness about the importance of hearing and consequences of hearing loss. The Amazon trip was covered in social and traditional media. Read a recap of his trip here. The website,, also has an excellent recap of this trip. Bill will lead the second Hear the World expedition with Global Explorers to Grand Canyon National Park in July 2011. Learn more about this trip on Applications start January 17, 2011.

Bill also invites adults, parents, families and kids to join him in South Africa this July for the World Deaf Congress 2011, sponsored by the United Nations. He will share a message of “Life Without Limits” using assistive technologies such as hearing aids and FM systems for hearing loss. Learn more at Barkeley is also on the board of directors of No Barriers USA (, a community of modern day pioneers who use the experience of nature to promote innovation, education and assistive technologies that create transformative life experiences and inspire people with challenges to live full and active lives. Learn more about the No Barriers USA 2011 Festival in Winter Park, Colorado, June 28-July 2, 2011 by visiting their website here.

Mary Beth wrote a companion article for this issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. In For Better or for Worse, she explains that, “Communication is the most important element and the glue that binds the relationship and validates the other person. Being married for 24 years is a real feat no matter what the circumstances. I have to say that our circumstances, although seemingly challenging, have proved to bring us closer together in an effort to stay connected and active. We have witnessed the promises we made “for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer and poorer.” She shares the frustrations and adjustments (revealing both the serious and humorous sides) in dealing with Bill’s hearing and vision loss.

Mary Beth works part-time as the Community Service Representative for HomeInstead, a non-medical home healthcare company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bill is now active in community service. He is past president of the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI). He is on the executive committee of the Hearing Loss Association of America (Grand Rapids chapter). Visit his website, , to learn more about his upcoming adventures and speaking engagements. The Barkeleys have three sons, John (21), Brian (20) and Will (16). Photo of the Barkeley family © Betsy Pangle; all other photos © Cindy Dyer

Read Bill and Mary Beth’s articles in Hearing Loss Magazine by clicking on the pdf here: HLM Bill Barkeley

The Orphaned Images Project: Leisure Suit Larry and the Priest

10 01 2011

More treasures to share from my newest venture, The Orphaned Images Project. A few of my regular readers have asked if they can have a shot at captioning some photos. By all means, please feel free to do so. I will give you a little background to get you started. I promise to re-publish the photos with all of your accompanying captions.

Photo #1: Larry’s mind-tripping moire patterned suit and pre-Harry-Potterish glasses were no match for Carol’s psychedelic pop-art floral skirt. (7.30.1971)

Photo #2: I’m assuming this is in a church (there’s a priest). Apparently the church had fallen on hard times—take a look at the paper wall decor above grandma’s head! What do you read into the sheepish (baby daddy?) look of the guy on the left and the resigned look on Father Murphy’s face? (8.01.1971)

Please feel free to submit your own captions for these two photos (nudge, nudge, Jefferson, Babs and The King of Texas)

UPDATE: Captions and comments

From Jeff:

Picture One — I’m pretty sure the fellow in the top picture is the father of the guy who plays “PC” in those Apple ads. And I love how high the gal’s skirt goes. Yes, I remember the days when wearing your skirts like some old guy in Florida would was considered sexy, damn sexy.

Picture Two — “Behold the red-haired devil child! Hail Satan! Now, Father, go get me another wine spritzer and let’s get this end of days thing rolling!”

From the King of Texas:

What does that guy Jeff mean, talking about how high my skirt goes? It’s just a couple of inches above my ankles, and it will never go any higher, at least not while I’m wearing it, not even for Larry unless he moves that ring from his right hand to his left! I admit that the skirt is a bit higher waisted than I like, but it complements Larry’s tie so nicely. I found it at the Goodwill Thrift store—that’s where Larry and I shop for clothing—they have really great prices!

Second photo:
No, no, NO! My husband is the guy on my left wearing the collar, and the young boy on my right is my lover and the father of my child—got it?

From RedHeadedWoman (a.k.a. Karen):

So that’s where my favorite skirt from 1969 ended up!

From Pepe Le Peu (a.k.a. Rob):

Photo 1— William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson

Photo 2 — “Please hurry, I have a “Where’s the Beef” commercial to film.”

Amaryllis closeup

10 01 2011

I also photographed the Amaryllis blooms against the living room wall with a bit more available window light. It’s a decent shot, but I prefer the drama of the black background.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

In bloom today: Amaryllis

9 01 2011

My friend Karen gave me this Amaryllis plant a few months ago and it is almost completely in bloom today (three out of five blossoms have opened!). Amaryllis bulbs originated in the Andes mountains of South America. The bulbs are tender, so they can only be grown outdoors in Zones 9-11. They are one of the easiest bulbs to force indoors. The term ‘forcing’ refers to inducing a plant to grow (shoot, leaf and flower) ahead of its natural schedule and out of its natural environment.

The plant needs a well-lit and warm place to grow, but after the buds begin to open, move the plant to a cool and shady location to keep the blooms longer. When the flowers begin to wilt, cut them off at the top of the stalk. Cut the stalk just above the bulb when it begins to droop. Water and fertilize as normal until the leaves turn yellow, then cut the leaves back two inches from the top of the bulb. Remove the bulb and store in a cool dark place for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. You can repot the bulb after that and begin the whole (bloomin’) process all over again!

I took advantage of Target’s after-Christmas 75% off sale and have added another Amaryllis plant to the kitchen window sill (not blooming yet) and two pots with Paper White Narcissus bulbs. I grew Paper Whites two years ago and learned quite a bit about the process. My favorite Narcissus photograph and that experience can be seen on my blog here

Paper White stalks can get quite leggy and often require staking. I just learned how alcohol (vodka, tequila, whiskey or rubbing alcohol) can keep Paper Whites from falling over here.  

Isn’t it ironic that alcohol makes people fall over but plants stay upright?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Peek at the past: Guess who?

7 01 2011

I photographed these two performers in the mid 80s. I ran up to the stage to get a quick shot and saw my graphic design professor who happened to be sitting right by the stage. He offered to let me stowaway under the table so I could have better access to photographing the group. I was so close that I couldn’t get the other two members of the band in this photograph. Do you know who these two are and who the group is?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Portrait from the past: Teresa

5 01 2011

I met Teresa in an art class in college. She modeled for me many times and despite no professional modeling experience, she was a great subject to photograph! I was studying old Hollywood glamour photos and was aiming to replicate that look during this session.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

The Orphaned Images Project: Sallie B. Gordon’s album

5 01 2011

Among the wonderful treasures in the box of “orphaned images” given to me by Doris, a family friend, is a 6 x 7.75 red hardcover “CEM Album,” produced by J.B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia. On the first page the album’s owner has written “Miss Sallie B. Gordon.” There is a thread-tied lock of hair (Sallie’s, perhaps?), a perfectly pressed leaf and a swatch of silky blue and red checked fabric nestled into the front of the album. Just imagine—these items are more than 150 years old! Other pages have signatures, poems and well wishes from dozens of friends and the date they signed her book, ranging from 1858-1869.

In the back of the book, Sallie tucked in a card with a photo of a group of men. The caption reads: Active Mitglieder des Beethoven Maennerchors, December 25, 1893. I did a little research and there is still an active “Beethoven Maennerchor” in San Antonio, Texas. You can check out their website here. It is one of the oldest German singing societies in Texas and its purpose is to preserve German song, music and language. The Beethoven Mannerchor was organized in February 1867 by William Carl August Thielepape (1814-1904), who was the mayor of San Antonio during the Reconstruction era. Research on German-born Thielepape revealed he was quite the Renaissance man—he was an architect, engineer, teacher, photographer and lithographer. He was known as the “singing mayor.” After his tenure as mayor, he was an attorney in Chicago. I also found a pdf file—Celebrating Das Deutsche—from the Journal of Texas Music History, Vol. 5 [2003], Iss. 2, Art. 4, that has a similar image (exact same men but a different exposure) on page 6 of the pdf file.

The letter shown below was written by two of her teachers (they address her as “Sarah” and not Sallie; perhaps Sarah was her formal name). The letter reads:

Presented to Miss Sarah B. Gordon by her teachers—Mr. and Mrs. Bower—as a reward of merit for attention to her studies, and obedience to her teachers.

May this token of our regard ever prove to her, that merit never goes unrewarded: that intelligence, modesty and virtue are jewels fairer and richer than earth’s boasted treasures. Be diligent and dutiful and a bright future awaits you.

Youth is not rich in time—it may be poor—part with it, as with money; sharing; Pay no moment, but in purchase of its worth. And what its worth? Ask death-beds; they can tell.

Chillicothe, Mo., May 27th, 1858

I find it fascinating that this little treasure made its way all the way from Chillicothe, Missouri to San Antonio, Texas…carried from the Show Me State to the Lone Star State by a young student, then passed down or tucked away more than 100 years until Doris discovered it at a yard sale and passed it on to me. Thanks, Doris!

The Orphaned Images Project: Little girl in gingham dress

4 01 2011

This is an ambrotype (circa 1854) housed in a Union Case, commonly used for ambrotype photos from the mid 1850s – 1870s. The left side of the case is made of velvet and the metal around the photos is s soft gold-colored alloy called pinchbeck. The outside of the case is made from a compound of sawdust and shellac, which allows elaborate patterns to be created. The image is hand tinted pink on the little girl’s cheeks and the frame has a cover (with a red velvet interior) much like the images in this link here.

Fuji G617 archives: Bryce Canyon formations

4 01 2011

Be sure to double click on the photo to enlarge for full panoramic effect!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.