Graduation Day – Yakira

Yakira at Diane’s feet

We left Friday morning for Yakira’s graduation, after dropping Dune off at my friend’s for puppy sitting. The roads were great but the trip was long. I’m always ready to be there after about an hour or two of driving. It really is a pretty drive but 12 hours is a long time in the car. Zodiac is an excellent traveler and was very patient and willing to get back in the car even when we could tell he was tired of it. We finally got to Gresham and settled into our hotel for the night.

Mount Hood

On Saturday, we woke up to blue skies. I was so excited. I’ve been to Oregon for 3 other graduations and never had a glimpse of Mount Hood. But this time it was perfectly clear. We drove around the area a bit before graduations trying to get a photo. We got to Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Boring, Oregon campus a little early so we could take Zodiac on the “Oregon Trail” that goes through the natural vegetation on the back edge of campus, before he had to go in a kennel in the kennel kitchen. You can’t have a puppy in training with you while you are presenting the dog you raised during graduation. He loved the walk but wasn’t so happy about going into the kennel.

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video of seeing Yakira for the first time since October

Finally the time came for us to see Yakira and meet her new partner. It was kind of funny because Yakira was a little slow in figuring out who we were. But once she realized she was a happy girl. Bill was holding her leash and she started doing some crazy labby loops and got away from him and looped off to say hi to one of the other pups in class. Yakira looked great and very happy. Her handler, Diane, is a great match and we enjoyed getting to know her. She still has her retired guide, Betty Jo so Yakira has a buddy to hang out with at home. It was so nice to just hang out with Yakira and her partner and get lots of puppy loves. I was hoping that Yakira would move somewhere warm and her new home is in southern California so that is perfect for her.

Yakira giving Bill a kiss

We got a chance to meet Yakira’s sister Yumi’s raisers at graduation. She said that Yakira is just like Yumi except she is black instead of yellow. I also got to meet another of the graduates who I know from a guide dog user/puppy raiser email group I’m on. Her partner, Tyra is Yakira’s half-sister.

Yakira looking up at Diane

After graduation I got Zodiac from the kennel kitchen and we took him and Yakira out to the paddock behind the dorms and let them romp for a few minutes to get reacquainted and then went out to eat afterwards with Diane and Yakira. GDB has made another great match for our girl. She is going to love her new home in southern California and her new life as a guide dog. Yakira was not Diane’s original match on dog day. But it soon became clear that this first dog just wasn’t going to be a good match for Diane’s career. She recently got her masters and will be working with disable college students to make sure they have the accommodation they need for their disability. This first dog will make someone a wonderful partner but she just didn’t settle quickly enough after interruptions for Diane’s job situation. The trainers brought Diane two new dogs to try and she choose Yakira.

Yakira & Zodiac under the table at dinner

The hardest part was decided it was time to take Yakira and Diane back to the dorms. There is this moment after you drop them off when the puppy you raised realizes that you aren’t staying. You can see them processing it in their minds. It isn’t that they don’t want to go with their handler. They are happy to do that. I think they would like it if we could be around too. Even more than the formal graduation ceremony, that is the moment, for me, when they truly move on to their new life. It was a great day but very exhausting.

On Sunday morning we went back to campus to pick up a career change dog named Pauletta. Pauletta has arthritis in her lower back and so her puppy raisers are adopting her. She was recalled a few weeks ago for breeder evals but the arthritis changes everything. They were trying to figure out how to get her to Denver. She wasn’t cleared for air travel after her spay but it was fine for her to travel by car. So we brought her home with us and they got up super early Monday morning to pick her up and then headed right back home. It was fun to watch that reunion. Pauletta will be certified as a Therapy Dog and do great things with her life even though she won’t be a guide dog. GDB is so full of wonderful people. It was nice to be able to do something to help Pauletta get home to her family faster. Below is the video I shot of Pauletta seeing one of her puppy raisers for the first time since she went back to Guide Dogs for the Blind. You can hear Zodiac barking in the background, unhappy not to be part of the reunion.

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Pauletta watching out our front door


Gift Idea #47 – Travel to Family History Site

idea numbers47How about planning a trip to a place where your family came from. It could be across the ocean or just across town. The distance isn’t so important as having the purpose of the trip to learn about your family’s past. Just pick a place, do some research and plan an itinerary. One word of advice, be flexible and don’t over schedule your trip. This isn’t about packing it so full that you can’t enjoy the time with family members and learning about the past.

So you have something to wrap up, you could print up your itinerary with a map and some images of your destination and the ancestor(s) associated with this site.

Gift Idea #34 – Maps

idea numbers34I love maps and I think they would make a great gift for young and old alike. By hanging a map of the country or area where an ancestor lived it gives you the opportunity to talk about that person and to learn a little more about what life was like for them. The map could be very graphical and simple like these:

My Roots Collection

Or something with lots and lots of details. The map could be a world map with pins or stickers to make important locations to your family or it could be the map of just a city and show the different addresses where your family has lived. The map could be modern or it could be a copy of an old antique map. By googling maps I found this store with all kinds of cool maps.

They even do custom maps. Wow, this makes me want to continue to explore all the options of map. There are so many options, one (or more) is sure to work for your situation.


Yakira – phase 1

Yakira - photo by Lisa Thompson

Yakira – photo by Lisa Thompson

This weeks phase report finally had Yakira’s name on it. She is official in phase 1! It seems like it she has been gone for such a long time. Actually it has been almost 7 weeks. Some of the other dogs that went back on the truck with her are in phase 5. I’m guessing that the Thanksgiving holiday slowed down her start into training. I know I shouldn’t get impatient about it all but I still do. I really do know that it will all work out and that the best life for her is ahead, no matter what road that is.

For more details on what Yakira is learning in phase 1 see this post on Casey in phase 1.

On news on some of the other puppies in our life:

  • Zodiac is doing great. I’ve seen some maturing in the last week or two. He is being much less of a rebellious teenager. Sometime I see him crouch to jump on me and he stops himself. He turns 9 months on Monday.
  • Apex is off on a cruise to the southern Caribbean for more than I week. Sue has promised pictures. I can’t wait to see them. He has such a great life with Sue.

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

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?


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?

Europe 1952: Maps

Among the many items that my mom saved from her trip to Europe in 1952 was a large map. I decided I wanted to use it at the beginning of each chapter. The map was challenging to scan because it was so big. So I scanned sections of it and then used Adobe Photoshop‘s photomerge to stitch together the section of the map for each country. If you’ve never used photomerge it is a very handy tool for doing things like panorama shots.

photomerged map

After I had a map section for each country I added a brown route line to mark the roads they traveled in that country. I did this also in Photoshop using the brush tool. To bring more focus to the country I added a grey mask that partially block out the neighboring countries, by adjusting the transparency of this layer.

map with route

map with surrounding countries grayed out

Once I brought the map image into Adobe InDesign, I added text boxes to label the cities they stayed in along with other relevant information and arrows to make it easier to tell the location of the city on the map. Arrows are easy to make in InDesign, just go to the stroke palette and select the style of arrow point you would like for the beginning or end of the line you made with the pen tool.

map with labels

I think the maps were effective in communicating a lot of the information at the beginning of each chapter in a visual way. How have you used maps in your projects?