Update from Casey


This week marked one year since we put Casey on the truck back to Guide Dogs for the Blind. So I took that as an excuse to send a quick email to Casey and her partner. I was so excited when I got an email including photos back! Here are some excerpts:

Casey and I are doing really well. Casey has settled into the school routine nicely and has been well received at the law building. She provides comic relief in lectures because she tends to groan, snore and grunt her way through class! We have some long days – I have night classes on Tues. and Thurs. but she manages to get me home safely which I very much appreciate.

I just ordered her a raincoat because she HATES the rain! We have had nothing but sun all summer and fall – very unusual. It just started raining really hard a couple of days ago. She does not like puddles – avoids them like the plague, and slows down to a crawl when it rains. Did you guys notice this? I am hoping the raincoat will make her happier – rainboots might be next!

She’s also doing well at the swimming pool where I swim (she stays on deck with a tie down). She keeps a watchful eye on me when I get into the pool but eventually has a nap.

She happily chews on her nylabone and rolls around on her back, chasing her tail a few times a day. Our cat, Sammy, is still quite cranky about her but she steers clear of him. We have many, many different routes that we do around the neighbourhood and she knows them all – loves the chip trails at a nearby park and walking near the ocean. I love being able to go out for pleasure walks now – was not able to do that before, and now I walk a ton with her which is amazing. We get our fresh air and exercise every day.


Casey and her “cousin” Jasper

Nothing makes my day better than an email from one of pups unless it is an email from one of our pups including photos and I got both! We hadn’t heard any thing since just after they got home from class and I was concerned that we were going to have any ongoing contest with Casey. So this email was even more cherished. I sure hope that we can have some contact with the puppies we raise as they move on to the main purpose of their lives.


Good-bye to Yakira

last group photo with me, Zodiac and Yakira

We got up at 5 a.m. on Monday morning to get Yakira to the puppy truck on time. The drop off spot is about an hour from our home and they leave the first thing in the morning, after breakfast and walking the dogs already in their care. We like to get there early enough to help the puppy truck drivers walk the dogs. It seems to help make the process of sending off a puppy a little easier. There is a nice little walking path by the hotel where the puppy truck stops for the night.

Bill saying his last good-bye to Yakira

After all the dogs were walked it was time for all the new recall dogs to get on the truck. There were three dogs that morning and we went first. The puppy truck has two tiers of kennels and Yakira ended up on the top row. She got a large dog biscuit upon getting in to help make the kennel a more positive place. We said our last good-byes and took the last photos. The puppy truck drivers patient all the raisers. No one is rushed but no one takes unfair advantage of the situation either.

The puppy truck stopped Monday evening in Meridian, Idaho and finished the trip to Boring, Oregon and the Guide Dogs for the Blind campus there on Tuesday. We don’t expect to have any news on Yakira for a while. I think at this stage if we get news too quickly it probably won’t be good. Casey was dropped from breeder evals in just a couple of weeks. Banta was in breeder evals for months. We got some news after about a month and a half that she was in the last stages of breeder evaluations.

We all miss our sweet and gentle Yakira. But Zodiac is taking it harder than I expected. We are puppy sitting a four-month old yellow lab named Tim. I thought that would be enough to keep Zodiac from being too sad but it has worked. There is a sadness in his eyes and he doesn’t have much interest in many of the things that usually attract his attention. It seems the bond between Yakira and Zodiac was even stronger than we knew.

Europe 1952 – Adding Memorabilia

One of the great things about doing this project was all the stuff that I had to work with. One of the challenging things about this project was all the stuff I had to work with. My mom is a saver and I think she saved everything she got on this trip. I have no idea how she got it all home. She didn’t have that much luggage. Even though sometimes it was a pain to figure out how to include most of the documents, brochures etc. that she saved, it adds to the flavor and the interest of the book. Some of the things I had to work with were:

How I dealt with the above items I covered in earlier posts. Follow the links above.

  • Documents

Some where scanned and others were transcribed and reformatted to fit the page.

  • Brochures
  • Maps
  • Menus
  • Letters
  • Business Cards
  • Receipts

I scanned these and cropped them to size before placing them in the document.

  • Postcards
  • Ticket Stubs

Some of the postcards and tickets stubs had interesting edges that I didn’t want to crop off. So after scanning I opened them in Adobe Photoshop, deleted the background so that it was transparent. Then when placed in the document the deckled or torn edges were preserved.

  • Booklets
  • Books
  • Medallions

Since these items were thicker I wanted to keep the dimension. So I also opened these images in Adobe Photoshop and deleted the background to make it transparent. I really like how you can tell they are books and not just a single sheet of paper. It was fun to have the medallion that my mom got from visiting the Pope. This same process works great for objects of any shape.

When placing the memorabilia on the page it is usually good to gather them near each other on the page and not spread them out across the page. Overlapping another piece of memorabilia or a photo can also help. The overlapping visually connects the items together and brings some order to a layout that might otherwise get too busy.


This Week in 1856 – Crossing the Platte – Mary Taylor

From John Jacques:

At Deer Creek, on the 17th of October, owing to the growing weakness of emigrants and teams, the baggage, including bedding and cooking utensils, was reduced to ten pounds per head, children under 8 years, five pounds. Good blankets and other bedding and clothing were burned, as they could not be carried further, though needed more than ever, for there was 400 miles of winter to go through. A detachment of soldiers were stationed at the bridge over the North Platte, to remain there until the emigration had passed, and then to withdraw to Fort Laramie to winter.

19 October 1856:

That was a bitter cold day. Winter came on all at once, and that was the first day of it. The river was wide, the cold, exceedingly cold water, was up to the wagon beds in the deepest parts, the current was strong, and the bed of the river was covered with cobble stones. Some of the men carried some of the women over on their backs, or in their arms but other women tied up their skirts and waded through, like the heroines they were, and as they had done through many other rivers and creeks. The campy was barely over, when snow, hail and sleet began to fall, accompanied by a piercing north wind, and camp was made on this side of the river.

Captain Hunt’s wagon company camped on the other side of the river, and Captain Hodgetts was on this side. That was a nipping night, and it told its tale on the oxen as well as on the people. The snowstorm appears to have been a very extensive, as well as severe one, reaching westward at least to the Wasatch Range.

Patience Loader

October 19, 1956:

We halted for a short time and took shelter under our carts. After the storm had passed we traveled on until we came to the last crossing of the Platte River. . . . The water was deep and very cold and we . . . drifted out of the regular crossing and we came near being drowned, the water coming up to our arm pits. . . .

“. . . After we got out of the water we had to travel in our wet clothes until we got to camp and our clothing was frozen on us. . . . When we got to camp, we had but very little dry clothing to put on.

“We had to make the best of our poor circumstances and put our trust in God our Father that we may take no harm from our wet clothes. It was too late to go for wood and water, and wood was too far away that night. The ground was frozen [so] hard we was unable to drive any tent pins in. As the tent was wet when we took it down in the morning it was somewhat frozen, so we stretched it open the best we could and got in under it. . . .

Every day we realized that the hand of God was over us. . . . We knew that we had not strength of our own to perform such hardships if our heavenly Father had not help us. . . .

(Wallace Stegner, The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail [University of Nebraska Press, 1992], 3, 247.)

Josiah Rogerson

October 1856

The crossing of the North Platte was fraught with more fatalities than any other incident of the entire journey. . . . More than a score or two of the young female members waded the stream that in places was waist deep. Blocks of mushy snow and ice had to be dodged. The result of wading of this stream by the female members was immediately followed by partial and temporary dementia from which several did not recover until the next spring.

(Josiah Rogerson, Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Jan. 1914, as quoted in LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, Handcarts to Zion [Glendale, Ca.: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1960], 109.)

Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson Kingsford

October 19, 1856

My husband (Aaron Jackson) attempted to ford the stream. He had only gone a short distance when he reached a sandbar in the river, on which he sank down through weakness and exhaustion. My sister, Mary Horrocks Leavitt, waded through the water to his assistance. She raised him up to his feet. Shortly afterward, a man came along on horseback and conveyed him to the other side. My sister then helped me to pull my cart with my three children and other matters on it. We had scarcely crossed the river when we were visited with a tremendous storm of snow, hail, sand, and fierce winds. . . .

About nine o’clock I retired. Bedding had become very scarce so I did not disrobe. I slept until, as it appeared to me, about midnight. I was extremely cold. The weather was bitter. I listened to hear if my husband breathed, he lay so still. I could not hear him. I became alarmed. I put my hand on his body, when to my horror I discovered that my worst fears were confirmed. My husband was dead. I called for help to the other inmates of the tent. They could render me no aid; and there was no alternative but to remain alone by the side of the corpse till morning. Oh, how the dreary hours drew their tedious length along. When daylight came, some of the male part of the company prepared the body for burial. And oh, such a burial and funeral service. They did not remove his clothing—he had but little. They wrapped him in a blanket and placed him in a pile with thirteen others who had died, and then covered him up with snow. The ground was frozen so hard that they could not dig a grave. He was left there to sleep in peace until the trump of God shall sound, and the dead in Christ shall awake and come forth in the morning of the first resurrection. We shall then again unite our hearts and lives, and eternity will furnish us with life forever more.

I will not attempt to describe my feelings at finding myself thus left a widow with three children, under such excruciating circumstances. I cannot do it. But I believe the Recording Angel has inscribed in the archives above, and that my suffering for the Gospel’s sake will be sanctified unto me for my good.

(Elizabeth Jackson, as quoted in LeRoy and Ann Hafen, Handcarts to Zion [Glendale, Ca.: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1960], 110-13.)

Make a Free Ebook

Blurb recently introduced the option to make your traditional book publishing projects and to entice people to try it they are offering the conversion for free for the next three days. Starting October 18, 2012 the charge will be USD $9.99 for each book. Go here to get more information.

I hope I can take a few minutes in the next three days and try this out. Have you used a service like Blurb to do an ebook. The closest I’ve come to doing an ebook is creating a pdf document. I know so little about this that I’m not sure the differences. Blurb’s ebooks are for the iPad.


50 for 50 #40 – Have a Party

Party Table

When I made my idea list at the first of the year of things I thought would be fun to do to celebrate my 50th year, one of them was having a party. We have the tradition of having a farewell party for each of our puppies in training before the return to Guide Dogs for the Blind for the next stage of their training. Today it was Yakira’s turn to be the guest of honor. It isn’t anything fancy just a chance for our friends, neighbors and family to say good-by to the puppy. It is kind of a thank you for the little things they do in helping us raise successful guide dogs. For many people it is the first time they have seen the dog “out of jacket” and how they behave at home. At Apex’s party many people comment on how much like a regular dog he was at home.

voting for official portrait

We have a few treats and it is just a time to relax and enjoy each others company. I think the party helps me to mentally and emotionally prepare for the puppy to leave us. For Yakira’s party we had everyone vote for their favorite photo to be used for Yakira’s official portrait on our puppy portrait wall. We also had a card for everyone to sign. I’ll keep the card up somewhere until Yakira finds her next place in life, either as a breeder, a guide dog or in another career. Bill made cookies and caramel (these were a huge hit) and we had Scooby snacks and popcorn.

Yakira’s card

We also had a couple of Yakira’s good friends come to the party. Clifford (my sister’s career change dog) was here the party and Osaka (a fellow puppy in training) came to say good-by too. The four pups had lots of fun together. I have a celebration bandana that Yakira wore as the guest of honor (and so that visitors would have an easier time keeping track of who was who). With three black labs in the house it was quiet the party. The only treats for the dogs were bowls of ice cubes, given out at regular intervals.

Yakira, Clifford and Zodiac playing

It was a fun evening and both Yakira and Zodiac are exhausted. For that matter so are us humans. We have an early start tomorrow to get Yakira to the truck in the morning so I’ll wrap this up now.


Yakira – photo by Lisa Thompson

This week has been one of lasts. The last walk around the neighborhood with Yakira. The last puppy class. The last time to the local grocery store. The last time to work with Bill. The last time to go to church. Last sleepover. Last time having a lunch date with Bill.Then there are all the lasts that I didn’t realize were lasts when we did them. She has been so many places with us over the last year. Tomorrow marks one year since we first saw Yakira.

Yakira – October 13, 2011

Sometimes I get very sentimental and a bit sad but at the same time I’m excited to see what Yakira’s future will bring. We are having a farewell party for her on Sunday evening. Then we put her on the truck early Monday morning. This is all part of the puppy raising process. The good and the bad. So proud of the dog she has grown up to be. But also seeing her weaknesses and hoping that the change of environment and stress of this transition doesn’t bring out those weaknesses and make them a deal breaker. But also knowing that if they do, then being a breeder or a guide dog isn’t what is best for her future. So that is the last of the sappy stuff about Yakira being recalled to Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Mary – two more illustrations

Indians along the trail

It has been a while since I posted an update on the project to put together and illustrated book about my great-great-grandmother, Mary Taylor’s early life and experience crossing the planes. My niece has done two more illustrations. The image above is illustration #10 and the text will cover  Mary walked all day pushing and pulling a handcart with her mother, father, husband and cousin in the Martin Handcart Company. One day, Indians rode by the handcarts. The Indians did not hurt the pioneers.

Six illustrations down and about 18 to go. We are past the 25% mark on the illustrations. Realistically I can’t see getting to the text until December at the earliest. I have too many other things on my plate until then.

Burt Simons with his loaded carriage

This is illustration #16 showing Mary’s rescuer, Burt Simmons, who had a stout carriage full of food. He was ready and left to save the pioneers before the other wagons. It is exciting to see more illustration getting finished for this project.


Enhanced Ebooks

I love the idea of the ability to embed media like video in the context of a book. Ebooks have that potential. In the next few years I believe that we will see the power of ebooks come into their own. I can’t wait to explore to learn the skill and explore the possibilities of this medium.

image from Robert Leslie’s book Stormbelt

I found an interview with Robert Leslie, a photographer know for his photographic journeys, about a resent project he calls Stormbelt. You can find the interview here on Blurberati Blog. I’m intrigued with the idea of having both a print and digital version of a book. It is an interesting project that I think you will enjoy.

Stormbelt Book Preview

Stormbelt Ebook Preview

Europe 1952 – Passport Stamps


I’ve always loved passport stamps and dreamed of having a passport full of interesting stamps. So I wanted to find a way to include all the stamps from my mother’s passport into the book about her trip. But just scanning the pages and including them that way seemed like an ugly solution. After some thought I decided to figure out a way to include just the image of the stamp on each chapter heading page.

scan of passport page

After scanning the pages of her passport I  cropped each stamp into a separate image from the rest on the page. Some of the stamps overlap which just gave me more stuff that I erased from the image. All of these work was done in Adobe Photoshop.

cropped to single passport stamp

Now I started playing around with a way to separate the inked image from the background. With a simple white background it is easy to use the magic wand tool to select and then remove the background. But as you can see passport paper isn’t plain. The tool that helped the most was the background eraser tool. I hadn’t used this before so it was good to learn about it. But I still ended up doing some clean-up by hand.

cleaned up passport stamp

The last step I did was to make the image black and white before I placed it on the chapter heading page. To give it more of the effect of being stamped on the page I changed the transparency to multiply. There is probably a better way to clean-up these images but I got it done and I was happy with the effect. I like having the passport stamps for each country on that country’s chapter heading page.

What ways have you found to include things like passport stamps in your projects?