The Orphaned Images Project: Gertrude Kitchens and Olive May

17 07 2011

From the writing on the back of the top postcard, I’m surmising the lovely young woman is Gertrude Kitchen (or Kitchens). It is addressed to Miss Ethel Noland, a woman I wrote about in a previous posting on this blog. There was no address or cancelled stamp, so the postcard was never sent.

The second postcard is addressed to Mrs. Frank Wilson, Idaville, Ind., RR No. 19. It was sent June 27, 1913 at 8:00 a.m. from Lima, Ohio. (Postage was just a penny!) The card reads as follows:

Dear ??? and all: How is this for outdoors picture. Why don’t you write. How are you and (Maud?) and Leonard? — Gertrude

The baby is identified as Olive May, 14 mo. old.

Farewell, Antarctica Dad

23 06 2010

On the freighter MS Disko, en route to Antarctica in late February 1998, I met my Antarctica Dad—aka Richard (Dick) Franklin, who hailed from Dayton, Ohio. I met him at breakfast the first morning after we boarded the ship from Ushuaia, the capital of the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego and the southernmost city in the world.

He declared, “You look and sound exactly like my middle daughter, Julie—so from here on out, I’m calling you ‘daughter.'” And he did just that via e-mails, Christmas snail mail letters, an occasional phone call, and on a visit as he was passing through the D.C. area with his wife in October, 2006. Although I have yet to meet Julie, my twin-separated-at-birth, I learned that she is an artistic soul as well, nestled in the middle of two sisters—just as I am. I shot the photo (above) of Dick and Judy when they visited us on October 22, 2006. They were standing under our Jack-in-the-Beanstalk-tall false sunflowers that had grown so tall that they began to form a natural archway to the front porch! We became fast friends, Antarctica Dad and I, a bond that lasted until his death.

There were so many things that I didn’t know about him but so many things we had in common as well—a love of gardening, nature, photography and travel. He was gregarious, witty, a great listener and my long-distance cheerleader. He e-mailed me jokes, political musings and inspirational photos. He kept me posted on his ongoing tree identification project. Each year I got the annual Christmas letter that highlighted all the things he and Judy were doing in retirement, including galavanting across the U.S. and abroad. He always signed his e-mails to me with Antarctica Dad, Adad, or just Dad. And when I shared his stories to friends and family I always prefaced them with, “My Antarctica Dad told me this…”

I looked over the e-mails from him that I’ve saved throughout the years. In this one below, dated Tuesday, February 10 he congratulated me on getting the opportunity to photograph Dr. Vinton Cerf, the “father of the Internet,” for the cover of the Hearing Loss Magazine.


Congratulations!!!!!!! You’ll do a fantastic job and catch the guy behind the beard and the mind that put the world in one big bag via the internet. They couldn’t have picked a better photographer. I can’t wait to see your pictures. Luv ya, Adad

Antarctica Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year. He kept his friends, including me, in the loop after the diagnosis and while he was exploring treatment options. I received his first e-mail about his health issues on January 21. He had surgery on February 26 to remove the upper left lobe of his left lung. My last e-mail from him was dated March 28, and was full of positive news about getting ready to undergo chemo and relief that the cancer had not spread to his brain, as this kind of cancer often does. He ended every e-mail with, thanks for the prayers, but keep the prayer lamp lit. Love to all. His first chemo was April 1 and when I didn’t hear from him via e-mail for a few weeks, I assumed everything was moving along on course. On April 21, Judy e-mailed everyone to let us know that Dick was being cared for in hospice after unexpected complications from his chemotherapy regimen had set in. He passed away the next morning at 12:02 a.m. He was 82.

His obituary, published in the Dayton Daily News, reads:

FRANKLIN, Richard A. age 82, of Huber Heights passed away early Thursday morning, April 22, 2010 at Hospice of Dayton. He was preceded in death by his parents, 1 brother, and 1 daughter. He is survived by his wife, Judy, of 43 years, 3 daughters, Janet Franklin of Kettering, Jeriann Staddon of Miamisburg, and Julie Franklin of Oakland, CA, 1 sister, Norma Tennies of East Randolph, NY. He leaves behind 4 grandsons, 1 great grand daughter, and 2 great grandsons, as well as several nieces and nephews, and a host of friends and acquaintances. He graduated from Bradford High School in Bradford, PA. He served his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II and then graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. He retired Chief, Telemetry Division in 1986 at the Foreign Technology Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He was elected into Sigma Xi, Research Society of America, and received over 70 awards and commendations, and ended his career by being awarded the Department of Air Force Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. He joined the York Rite Masonic bodies of Tokyo, Tokyo Chapter No. 1, Tokyo Council No. 1 and Tokyo Commandery No. 1. He was a member of the Antioch Shrine of Dayton, the Southern Forge and Anvil Association, the Western Ohio Woodworking Club, and the National Rifle Association. Dick actively served as a Boy Scout leader for over 30 years, rose to District Commissioner, and received the District Award of Merit. He volunteered for Metro Parks at Carriage Hill Farm for over 40 years. Dick was an avid photographer, world traveler, and Certified Open Water SCUBA Diver. His wish to be donated to Wright State School of Medicine was honored. Memorial services will be May 1st at St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church, 5040 Rye Dr, Huber Heights, with Pastor Dobbins officiating. Visitation is scheduled for two hours preceding the service at 3:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation in Dick’s name may be made to Shiners Children’s Hospital, 1900 Richmond Rd, Lexington, KY 40502.

I was so honored to be his “Antarctica daughter” for the past 14 years. He is dearly missed. Farewell, Adad—much love follows you!


SIDEBAR: It really is a small, small world: Judy’s nephew, Jeffrey Hopper, was the 12th victim of the infamous D.C. snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo. The 37-year-old was shot while leaving a Ponderosa Steakhouse in Ashland, Virginia with his wife Stephanie. They had stopped for dinner en route to their home in Florida after visiting family in Pennsylvania. He is one of the few survivors of the “D.C. Sniper” attacks in D.C. area in October 2002. I remember that paralyzing time so well. With the randomness of victims and venues, and the fact that one fatal attack happened in an area where I frequently shopped, I seriously considered uprooting and leaving the northern Virginia area. I was in Denver photographing a client’s conference in late October that year when Muhammad and Malvo were finally apprehended. It was such a relief to come back home, knowing they had been caught.

The two had intentionally filled the gas tank before reaching the D.C. area so they would not have to stop and become a “potential target.” “When I was shot, I felt as if I had an unusual type of stomach ache,” Mr. Hopper said. “It was a dull, queasy feeling, not a sharp pain.” He lost about 70 percent of his stomach, part of his pancreas and spleen and his liver, kidney, lung and rib were damaged. He has since recovered from his extensive injuries. However, he and his wife joke about how they no longer go to buffets because, “Jeff does not have the stomach for them.” As Mrs. Hopper waited in the hospital for her husband to recover, a local church sent her a care basket with fruit, a toothbrush, toothpaste and other “simple comforts. “She now makes “trauma bags” with similar items for the local trauma center so that others may be comforted during tough times. —excerpted from “The Sniper Attacks, 7 Years Later: A Remembrance / Washington


Just stick a flower on it!

4 05 2009

I just knew pinning a flower on my first needle-felted hat attempt would improve it immensely. A little embellishment goes a long way. Not bad for a first attempt, right? Ahem. Don’t look too closely.

firstfeltedhat1And a few words to the person who wrote the instructions on how to use the foam hat form—you really shouldn’t have put the sentence “Stabbing too deeply will pull chunks of foam out and mess up your project!” in the middle of the instruction sheet. It would have been much more helpful to have that as step #1 in the process. I felted so hard to the foam that I think Nancy pulled a shoulder muscle trying to wrestle the finished hat off the foam form. It resembled a rainbow brite-colored cat hairball at first glance. After a little prodding, pulling and cajoling, the hat began to take shape, although I’m still not sure I would wear it in public (so I offer my sincerest apologies to the sheep that gave up its coat for this project—I did not do your offering justice, I’m afraid). It is a first attempt, remember, so temper your judgment. Stephanie, however, makes it look like a boutique hat, so I’m not too terribly disappointed with my freshman try at needle felting a hat. Thanks for modeling for me, Stephanie!

The flower pin was made by Leslie of Sweaterheads, in Astoria, Oregon. I met Leslie at the Portland Saturday Market (arts and crafts heaven!) two years ago and she explained how she makes these flowers with recycled wool sweaters. Check out this link here that details other projects you can create with wool sweaters or click here to read Diane Gilleland’s article on how to felt sweaters. You can crochet or knit projects such as hats and then felt them yourself, but recycling with sweaters from thrift stores (or your own closet) is faster and cheaper—not to mention it breathes new life into discarded stuff! Always a good thing. Check out the step-by-step process of washing machine felting on

On Saturday, Michael and I drove up to the Howard Country Fairgrounds in Maryland to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival to meet his sister Nancy, her friend Marie and Marie’s niece Stephanie. All three women are avid knitters and yarn fanatics. By fanatic, I mean Nancy and Marie start the process from the sheep/rabbit/alpaca up! They both raise fiber-bearing animals and shear, spin and weave their results. We joined Nancy two years ago at the festival and came home with roving (wool that has been washed, combed and carded), a spinning wheel, needle felting equipment, and a ton of enthusiasm for all things wool. The only thing we didn’t bring home were sheep. Not that it hadn’t crossed our minds, mind you. Where there’s a will, there’s a…sheep. But the townhouse homeowner association might frown upon that…even if Michael is on the Board. On this trip, Nancy brought us almost-black wool cleaned and ready to spin (or felt) from the progeny of a ram we “invested” in for her hobby farm endeavors. She also set up our spinning wheel (again) so we could actually use it. Thanks, Nancy! SIDEBAR: Nancy bought some funny t-shirts for her sons. The shirts had an illustration of a ram with the slogan, “I think therefore I ram.”


It may just be me, but I think there’s something inherently wrong with selling lamb kabobs at a fair within smelling distance of the live lambs. As my baby sister would say, it’s just not right. But I digress.

After we returned home, we gathered ’round the fire coffee table and drank champagne Diet Coke with Ned Michael while playing delightful parlor games crafting. I felt like I had stepped into Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (I’m a cross between Jo and Amy, I’ve determined). And there just happened to be exactly four of us. Pretty cool. If this is what they do in the obviously-crafty state of Ohio, maybe we should consider moving there. I could get into this creative group dynamic! No tv, no music, no other distraction. Just the (overzealous) tap, tap, tap of my scary felting needle and the clicking of knitting needles from the sock and shawl creators. Pictured above: Little Women Nancy, Stephanie and Marie. A word of warning: all knitters and crocheters can multi-task while doing their craft. You really can’t shouldn’t multi-task when you’re needle-felting. If you do, you will end up with one sharp barb (or 3, 6, or 12 of them) in your finger (much more painful than a sewing needle prick, trust me). Sadly, this supreme multi-tasker speaks from experience. It is a pay-close-attention-to-what-you’re-doing endeavor. Those barbs are sharp—have a box of bandaids at the ready!

multineedleNancy and I shared needle felting duties on this hat. Marie was knitting a shawl and Stephanie was creating an elaborately-patterned pair of socks. I asked Stephanie how long a pair of socks takes to make and she said about a week. We assessed that this would be at least a 40-hour work week. If we assumed she would be paid at least the current minimum wage ($6.55 per hour), she could bill $262.00 for her time. Adding what I’m assuming could be anywhere from $10-20 for the yarn (just a wide-ranging guess, some yarn skeins run $25+ each, depending on the fiber content), she would have to sell that pair of socks for almost $300 to cover time and materials. She just graduated in December with a geology degree and is gainfully employed in Harrisburg, PA. I advised her against quitting her day job. Making socks is obviously a labor of love and not a pathway to wealth. So if you ever see handmade socks priced at $20+ per pair, don’t tsk tsk over the price!

Needle felting is felting without water (dry felting). You use special barbed felting needles to push the top layer of wool “roving” into subsequent layers.  Wool roving is wool that has been washed, combed, carded (and sometimes dyed) into a thick rope to be spun into yarn. Roving can also be made from cotton, silk and other fibers. When wool roving is prepared, but not twisted, it is known as a “sliver.”

I’m not entirely new to the needle felting process. I did make some rather nice free-form flowers (including a sunflower complete with a hovering bee!) for my crocheted hats after attending the festival the first time. I also created a series of miniature 3-D fruits for one hat, a tribute to Carmen Miranda. Many of the videos on utilize cookie cutters and molds as guides; I created mine in a free-form fashion. You can buy needle felting applique molds like these here. My freshman fruits and flowers were created with either a single needle or three-needle implement, rather than the menacing 12-needled one I used on the hat above. I own the pattern shown at left, but have yet to make one of these more detailed flowers. Aren’t they stunning? You can buy the pattern on Indygo Junction’s website here. You’ll find kits, patterns, roving, pre-felted felt squares, felt appliques, ready-to-embellish purse “blanks” and finished purses and flowers on this link here. Below is a flower pin I bought at the festival. I’m inspired to create some variations of my own. It measures about 4-5 inches across and was needle felted with four colors of wool roving.bluefeltflower

If you’re interested in needle felting but don’t want to do it entirely by hand, check out the needle felt or needle punch machines. The machines use barbed needles to mesh decorative fibers and fabrics together onto a base fabric in an applique fashion. I bought a demo clearance model last year and have played with it a little. Now I’m inspired to get it out of the hall closet and actually create something to crow about! There are fantastic videos on needle punching (with a specific machine by Janome) here and here. Brother makes reasonably-priced machines and has some great techniques on their website here. Machine needle felting doesn’t require a bobbin, thread, or previous sewing experience, and the creative possibilities are infinite.

To needle felt flowers, jewelry or 3-d characters (or a questionable hat like mine, for that matter) by hand, you’ll need some of the supplies below. The website I’m linking you to isn’t the only source of these materials—you can also find them at your local craft store on other online vendors.

Wool roving:

Felting needles and holders:

Molds for flowers, leaves and other shapes (if you need more structure and fear the free-form process!):

Needle felt hat forms (from Hooked on Felt, the originator of this product that I used for my hat):



Needle felting on felt scraps (what gorgeous flowers!):

Needle felting a heart lapel pin:

Needle felting directly onto a purse:

Beautiful samples of felted flowers for sale on and

Machine needle felting demo here (watch the 40-second live demo at the bottom of the site):

Needle felting basics:

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.