50 for 50 #42 – Washington Monument

I didn’t have the time or the budget to travel to Washington D.C. this week to see the Washington Monument so I did it virtually. When I was three years old my family moved to Maryland. The closest congregation of our church was in Washington D.C. so each Sunday we made the drive in the morning for Sunday School and then stayed in the city until Sacrament Meeting in the afternoon. We would usually spend that time at one of the many attractions of Washington D.C.

Not long after we moved to the east coast we sent to the Washington Monument for our Sunday outing. We were enjoying the huge reflecting pond between the monument and the Lincoln Memorial. As children do, me and my sisters starting dragging sticks in the water. Seeing the potential for disaster in our Sunday clothes my parents told us to stop. My sisters listened but I didn’t and soon fell into the water. Because I didn’t know how to swim my dad had to jump in to get me out. We ended up having to drive back home so my dad could change our of his wet suit. I’m not sure if I actually remember this day but there are vague images that seem to be from that day.

I also remember climbing the stair to the top, but I’m pretty sure that we did that on another day. I wonder now if I really made it to the top at such a young age. Maybe I got a little help from my mom and dad. It was fun to take a trip down memory lane this week to celebrate my 50th year.

My virtual tour on the internet turned up some interesting things about the monument and the reflecting pool.

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool Nearly Complete

Washington Monument Earthquake Update



50 for 50 #41 – A Walk in the Woods

trail along the back of GDB’s Oregon campus

This past weekend I went with my friend Lisa to Oregon for Parker’s graduation as a guide dog. Lisa finished raising Parker when his original raisers moved to Florida when he was about a year old. One of my favorite parts of the trip was a couple of walks I took. The reminded me so much of the many walks our pet dog, Shadow, and I took while we lived in Boston for a few months. I love how the parks and other areas around Boston keep the natural look of the trees and plants. These walks turned out to be a perfect way to celebrate my 50th year this week.


The first walk was by our hotel. From the our 4th floor window we could see a paved trail so on Saturday morning before we went to Parker’s graduation we took Zodiac out for a walk and explored the trail. It was lovely. Everything was freshly washed with last night’s rain. The path wound its way through a little patch of natural vegetation with tall trees and blackberry brambles. I wished I had my camera with me it was so lush with moss and ferns. The only disappointment was how short it was. It came out of the trees onto the parking lot of a Costco that we didn’t know was there.


A few hours later. Zodiac and I were exploring Guide Dogs for the Blind campus in Boring while we waited for graduation time. Lisa was visiting with Parker and his new handler. I had heard about what students call “the Oregon trail” on campus and I set out to see if I could find it. We did! on the back edge of campus there is a loop that runs along the back of the kennels and then into what looks like the natural growth of the area. It was very much like the trail by our hotel with lots more blackberry bushes and huge tall trees. This time I was prepared with my camera and got a few shots off. We took the loop twice and enjoyed every minute of it. For me there is nothing more therapeutic than a walk through nature. This was perfect after the long drive from Utah. I’ve learned over the years that I need to have sometime out in nature to be at my best in coping with the stresses of everyday life. I don’t do it often enough these days.

ferns and moss covered wood

leaves and pine needles on the trail

Zodiac enjoying a sniff

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.

50 for 50 #39 – USNS Gaffey

USNS Gaffey

This week to celebrate my 50th year I decided to do some research on the ship we sailed on when I was almost three years old.  My dad was in the navy so we took the U. Sl Naval Ship General Hugh J Gaffey from Hawaii to the main land. All our household goods were packed up, including our car. I was young enough that I’m not sure I remember anything but I have an image of a slide that I think was on the ship. But one of my sister’s remembers my mom buying us a sack of play dough that we played with on the ship instead of taking a nap. It took five days for us to reach Oakland, California. My other sister remembers a little lizard that hitched a ride in our car and we found it when we picked up our car in California.

I don’t have much information on the Gaffey but I know that there is lots of information on the internet about ships from researching for the Europe 1952 book. Typing “USNS Gaffey” brought up over 13,000 hits.  It seems that this ship was originally named for Admiral W. L. Capps and then was renamed for General Hugh J. Gaffey.

A collection of photos taken on or of the Gaffey.

A bit of the history of this ship.

Here is a blog post on NASA’s sight about another military family sailing to Japan on the Gaffey.

This trip has been my only ocean voyage to date. Though I’m looking forward to a cruise to Alaska next year. I have an extravagant dream of sailing around the world in a leisurely fashion and spending time at lots of ports along the way. Has anyone else taken a ship like the Gaffey?

50 for 50 #38 – Osaka Japanese Resturant

Karen and Osaka in front of the Osaka Restaurant

Today to celebrate my 50th year we drove to Provo and ate at Osaka on Center Street. We use to live less than a mile away but what this place reminds me of most is when I did Christmas windows out of candy for Provo City Arts Council. I did my window in Osaka all but the very first year that I did a window. Mary was always so nice to work with and she always wanted to keep my window up until after Valentines day. By then they were pretty faded and certainly ready to take down. She actually still has the focal point from one of the windows in her lobby. The year our theme was Christmas Around the World I made a life-size Japanese woman in a Kimono covered with sliced jelly belly candy. She has gotten a bit dusty over the years but for the most part she is still in pretty good shape.

Each year we did a window, Mary would give us a gift certificate to her restaurant. And I still had some money left on the last one she gave me. Also one of my fellow puppy raisers has a dog about the same age as Yakira whose name is Osaka. When Karen got Osaka off the truck and thought it would be fun to take our pups to Osaka and have lunch. Well it has almost been a year and we finally got it done. I forgot to take my camera today but I took a couple of shots of Karen and Osaka in front of Osaka with her camera. I’m sure she will share the photo with me then I can post it here. Zodiac was a good boy and resisted playing with Osaka under the table until it was about time to leave.

Yakira ended up having to stay home. She has been given no car travel until Monday as part of dealing with her anxiety during the trip to Denver last week. I’ll have to find a photo of the candy windows I did at Osaka and post them here also. Today is another one of those lovely fall days with blue skies and nice temperatures.

50 for 50 #37 – Visit Banta

I have the goal to visit the puppies we raise about a year after they graduate. I was so happy last year when things fell into place to be able to visit Apex. So this tripped seemed like another perfect way to celebrate my 50th year. This weekend we got to reach that goal with Banta. Denver isn’t that far away, so going to see her wasn’t to expensive but time this summer was crazy so we decided to wait until the weather cooled and a few of my big time commitments were done. The cool thing about going this weekend was that Sunday marked three years since we first saw Banta as she was handed to Bill off the puppy truck.

We had a smooth drive to Denver except we discovered that Yakira is not a good traveler. Zodiac did perfectly, sleeping most of the way but Yakira was anxious the entire way. Other than that the drive was smooth. We took US 40 so we could enjoy more of the colors of fall and take a different route than we would take home.

Bill holding Banta with Yakira and Zodiac playing nearby

We got to see Banta on Saturday. It was so funny, because she recognized the sound of our car. Our GPS lead us to the back of Mark’s place and she jumped up and started to whine. We figured out where to park and walked to the front door. And she was so excited to see us. That was when we found out that she had an early warning system for our arrival. After a brief hello we got the pups from the car and let them get to know each other. They had lots of fun romping around the house and got along pretty well.

romping pups

Cherry Creek State Park

A while later we drove to Cherry Creek State Park and walked along a nature trail to the reservoir. There were so many sailboats on the water, I was amazed. It was an enjoyable walk. Banta and Mark have done a couple of 5k walks this summer but he had surgery on Monday and wasn’t up to too long of a walk but it was fun to just take a leisurely walk and enjoy the nice breeze coming across the lake. The temperature was perfect.

We dropped Banta and her handler back at his house so he could rest for a couple of hours before we went to dinner. It was so good to get to know him better. Graduation is such a crazy time that you just done get to know each other that well. That is something that I really enjoyed when we visited Apex last year, and it was the same this time. It is so good to get to see the puppy we raised and see that they are still the same as they were when we had them. A bit more mature and but so much about them is still the same.

Zodiac, Banta and Yakira

Sunday we spent a quiet morning sleeping in and then went to church. In the afternoon we went back to hang out with Banta some more and then out to dinner again. Saturday we went to an Italian place called a Mama Roma’s and Sunday we went to Rib City. Both had great food and not so crowded that we had to worry about making room for more customers as we lingered long after finishing eating just chatting about a variety of things. Last night it was especially tough to decided that the meal was over. But we eventually did. It was a nice and relaxing trip  and Mark said he hoped we would come back again. The two of them are so perfectly matched. He loves all of Banta’s quirks and has the skills to handle her strong-willed side and even appreciated it.

Banta at Rib City

I’m looking forward to seeing Casey next spring either before or after our cruise to Alaska.

50 for 50 #36 – Jordan River Trail


Zodiac waiting to get out of the car

Today we took a walk along the Jordan River. This trail is one of my favorite places. I use to take our pet dog, Shadow there all the time. I even learned to roller blade on that trail a few years ago. I don’t get down there much lately. Since Apex, none of our puppies have had so much energy that a neighborhood walk can’t take care of it. The weather was beautiful this morning and there were lots of runners and bikers on the trail too. I prefer to go during the week when it isn’t so crowded. I’ve walked that trail in all kinds of weather from hot summer days to stormy ones with snow and cold wind. It is a little slice of nature running down the middle of the Salt Lake Valley.

Bill holding Zodiac and Yakira on the retractable leashes ready to hit the trail

When we lived in Provo, Shadow and I often frequented the Provo River trail. It is an awesome trail too. I think I should make more of an effort to get out into nature more. In the past it always helped me deal with the stresses of life. Even though I have a lot of things on my plate these days maybe taking time out to be in nature once a week or even every couple of weeks might rejuvenate me and help me to handle my to do list better. I’ll have to give this some thought. Do you have favorite places that you haven’t been to in a while?

Yakira enjoying the Jordan River Trail


50 for 50 #35 – Make a Slide Show

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug “I Know” slide show

So this week I finally got around to making a slide show. Back in college I took a class on putting together slide shows, but that was the old-fashioned way with multiple slide projectors and fancy dissolve units and a special cassette tape player to record the syncing of the music and the timing of the slide changes. I totally loved that class. The power of images and music together was awesome.

I intended to use Photostory recommended by Stephanie. Remember her “Raising Skyler” video? When I looked at the details of Photostory it didn’t look like to would work for my needs. The slide show I need to put together was going to be show to a group of girls and their parents at our girls camp awards night. And the reviews of Photostory said you couldn’t save it in a high res or burn it to a DVD. The plan was to show it using a DVD player and a television. So I had to pick another program. My research didn’t give me an obvious favorite. But I settled on ProShow Gold. They had a free two-week trial, so I thought I could make the slide shows and then decided if I wanted to buy the software.

I tried it out and it seemed pretty easy. The one problem that I didn’t realize with the trial was that it put a big banner across the bottom of the screen. There was no way I could have that “trial” banner in my finished slide show. I figured this all out the middle of the week and the deadline was Sunday. I didn’t have time to start over with new software. So I went ahead and paid the $69 for the software.

The hardest part of putting the slide shows together was sorting through the photos to find the best ones. I actually did three slide shows. I had selected three songs that focused on three different things to do with camp. One was focused on the beauty of nature with the song “I Know” by Jenny Phillips. The second was another song by Jenny Phillips called “A Light on a Hill”. This song was the inspiration for our camp theme and I wanted it to focus on the girls and how they were an example to others. Both these songs are on her “Arise and Shine Forth” album. The last song “This Little Light of Mine” by The Lower Lights, was our actual theme song at camp. We sang it every day with verses that the girls made up. This show was all about the fun of being at girls camp.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug “A Light on a Hill” slide show

I didn’t have time or the knowledge to really customize each slide show. I just picked out the photos, got them into a rough order and let ProShow do the rest. I let it pick the timing and the transitions. After it synced everything together I went back and adjusted the order of the photos to work with the words better. The software crashed on me multiple times, which was frustration. It did a pretty good job of recovering where I was at but it took a long time to get things back up and running after each crash. By the time I got the last slide show together it was after 5 a.m. Sunday morning. I was exhausted of course.

I got a couple of hours of sleep and then between choir practice and church I worked on figuring out how to get the slide shows onto a DVD. Well that didn’t work. I don’t know why but I could get it to even begin to cut a DVD. So I had to go to plan two. I exported each show as an mov file. This worked fine but it was a very slow process. (My computer isn’t very fast). So by the time I got all three slide shows saved as mov files I needed to go set up for the awards night. There was no more time to experiment in trying to get the slides shows on to a TV. So I just took my laptop and played them on that. Since the screen isn’t big enough to show to a whole room of people we played the slide shows before the meeting started and during the refreshments afterward.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug “This Little Light of Mine” slide show

Now I’m uploading them to the internet so that the girls can download them and have their own copies to enjoy. It was a good learning experience and I can’t wait to do another one. This time with the time to really learn how to control things and not just slap the thing together. ProShow really did a pretty good job but I’d like to see how much more it can do. Hopefully the crashing won’t be too much of a problem because I’d love to put together many more slide shows and I really don’t want to buy another piece of software.

What software have you used for putting together slide shows? I’d love to learn from your experience.


50 for 50 #34 – Humane Society


About 16 years ago we adopted a lab mix from the Humane Society of Utah. They said his name was Kiwi but he didn’t seem to know that name so we picked a new one, Shadow. He took to that name right away. Shadow was a part of our family until 2007 when he got cancer.

So this week, to celebrate my 50th year, I drove back to the Humane Society in honor of Shadow and the start to our involvement with dogs. The place has changed in some ways and is the same in others. They’ve added on to the building with a vet clinic and a really nice place for the cats waiting for adoption called Kitty City. It is such a contrast to the space they have for dogs. The dog area hasn’t changed other than they have put some elevated dog beds in each the kennels. It was a very sad place to visit. The poor dogs with no family to love them. I’m sure that most of them would make wonderful pets with the right love and training. But there they are abandoned to their fates.

Humane Society of Utah

When I drove up I saw a man taking a large white and black dog in. The poor pup had no leash and the man was tall enough that the dogs front legs where off the ground. It was such a sad sight. If that is the way he treats dogs, than that dog is probably better off at the Humane Society. Such a contrast to the loving treatment that all the puppies that are part of the Guide Dogs for the Blind family. They come to us with no baggage. They really think the whole world loves them because they have such a sheltered life. No mater what their future brings there will be someone there to make sure they have a safe and loving home. This is one of the things that I love about Guide Dogs for the Blind, they truly love each one of these puppies.

50 for 50 #33 – Swiss Chocolate

Lindt milk chocolate

This week, to celebrate turning 50 years old this year, I decided to eat some Swiss chocolate. I picked up a bar of Lindt classic milk chocolate from the grocery store. The package stated that it was actually made in New Hampshire but that the quality was guaranteed by Lindt & Sprungli of Switzerland. So it wasn’t actually Swiss chocolate but it was still yummy.

Almost 30 years ago, while I was playing volleyball at BYU, we took a month-long trip to Europe. One of the stops on our tour was Switzerland. I remember seeing the Chateau de Chillon with its stone walls by the lake, Bern and the LDS temple there, and finally the beauty and quiet of Interlaken. I’d love to visit Switzerland again some day.

Chateau de Chillon – 1983