Monday, March 31, 2008

More Family

At the time of the get together, Wills (Bill & Mary Ellen's son) was dating a girl from Peru named America. Great name! Really nice girl. I introduced my self and asked, "how are you?," "very brave," she said. It was a genuinely funny response because many members of the family upon finding out she would be staying in the dormitory-style housing told her she was "very brave." So she adopted that as her response to the many introductions and "how are you"'s. I don't know if the relationship is alive at the time of this writing, but she was very nice and very fun to meet.
Mary Ellen did her magic again with writing words to a song that we could all sing to Lucy. She altered the words of "Timeless To Me" from the musical "Hairspray" and all the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren sang to her on Sunday. It was perfect. Mary Ellen had done this one memorable time before when Bob and Lucy left on their mission in about 1992. It was so memorable that two summers ago at Bob's 80th at the Lake House, Annie sang the whole song to them and Kelly got it on video. I'm sure years and years from now, Emily will sing this one again.
Kelly just loves everything about being on vacation. He loves to ride, he loves to hang out and talk with everybody and easily meets and embraces the extended family members. He was and is and always will be the perfect addition to our family.
This is really a pretty good smile for Lucy in front of a camera. In fact, I got more smiley pictures on this trip than any other. (Oh, just as a side light - if you'll take notice of the jacket she's wearing, I (Rodger) actually picked it out for her! This constitutes a complete role reversal and closes a rather lengthy circle, as for many years I could literally look down at my clothing and see that everything had been purchased by Lucy [except the underwear and maybe the shoes.] So, this is one of the more meaningful blogs ever produced at this site and should be kept forever by my posterity.)
All of us commented how much more relaxed these get togethers are since we've gotten old. We're just more mellow - including Jon - who's looking good here.
This was the spectacular view from the parking lot of the lodge. Timpanogas is a beautiful mountain and represents a significant landmark in all of our lives. This first time I saw it was when I arrived in Provo as a freshman at BYU. It guards the whole valley and I never tired of looking at it, even marveling at its beauty. Jeanne picked rocks there at Sundance ski resort to get her pass to ski there on the BYU ski team (even though the golf team got passes for free - which still bothers her to this day. In fact, two weeks ago, Jeanne and I went to the Washington, D.C. area to do a youth fireside in the home of a fellow graduate from the MBA program who had golfed at BYU. She even mentioned there the fact that she had to pick rocks and he, who didn't even make the team, got a pass for free.) Anyway, it is a spectacular mountain and I fell like this picture does it justice. You can see the snow being whipped toward the top of the mountain. The next day Casey and I were looking up at it from the parking lot in the evening and watched a huge avalanche roar down from the top and over a ridge. It was quite a site and a reminder that Timp is a real mountain, with real dangers despite its spectacular beauty.
Jeanne still has what it takes to teach skiing. Even when she wants to be skiing with the "big kids" she sacrifices and spends time teaching the little ones how to do it. Of course, in the end, this will be her legacy, that she ALWAYS was willing to subjugate her own will to help someone else out - pretty Celestial, wouldn't you say? She's worked hard over the years to teach me this one, and I've learned a little but will definately be clinging to skirt tails when the judgment comes. Addison is a quick learner, but akin to Bill, who always wanted to put speed above responsibility. He is a good athlete and will be a good skier (or boarder) so long as he lives through the learning experience.
Oh, and cute too!
Casey is tremendously studious and felt more pressure from school obligations than the rest. He spent a lot of time with us though and we were very grateful. He's still always fun to be around, always nice to children and adults and way too smart for most of us. His mind is always posing meaningful questions that lead to interesting discussions which is fun.

This is the wonderful thing about the Hickman family which is so unusual for most families I know. I can't even tell you how Molly and Mary are related. Mary's mother is Molly's father's niece. What does that make them? I don't know! But this picture portrays how well they know each other and how much they love each other even though I can't describe how they are related. Furthermore, Molly lives in Seattle and Mary lives in Utah. Anyway, that pretty much describes just how close the Hickman family is. (I would like to say that I'm spending much more time on the phone with my brothers lately! Something I should have done long ago.)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's About Family

Going to Utah was all about family. We were all celebrating Lucy's 80th birthday, but in a way that was only an excuse. Her birthday had passed a couple weeks earlier but it was the stated purpose for getting together. Jeanne's family has been very good about finding opportunity at least once a year to be together. It seems like after Mary died Bob and Lucy committed themselves to the concept that the family would be together more often.
That may well have been the genesis of the thought process that ultimately led to the purchase of the lake house and even though we live in Pennsylvania, there is always a trip to the lake house during the summer where fun time is spent with siblings and cousins. Emily know Megan, for example, more like a sister than a cousin.
Emily did kind of "lose it" when we visited Val, Jeanne's cousin, who is a true American cowboy. Val like to hunt and eats a lot of meat obtained by hunting, including bear and other "exotic" things. He has heads and skins mounted and hanging on his walls. We were all having fun being in his "museum" and listening to his stories, but Emily has never been big on the concept of hunting and killing, etc. and just had to leave. I caught her mid-sentence above saying "Dad, can you believe there's a dead bear on his wall."
Lucy's older sister June and always been very kind to me and Jeanne. I know her as well as any of my aunts and uncles and see her more often then I do my own, so she has become a true aunt to me. She always sends birthday cards, although she has many grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) of her own, many of whom she has literally "mothered." It was truly a wonderful moment to get a picture of the two sisters with big smiles.
Speaking of smiles, nobody does that any better than Mary. She is always to happy to see us. It was a joy being around her and she found lots of opportunity to be with us even though she had a lot of commitments at school.
We even found time to go skiing in the afternoon. Sundance had a great deal where you could ski from 2p until 5p for $19. Three hours was the perfect amount of time for me. Based on the photo above, it's hard to imagine how they were all complaining that they needed to get skiing since there was so little time! I'm glad they let me take it though. The picture will be a family treasure.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Finally Got To Utah

As you know, miracles happen every day we just need to notice them. This day was no exception. I was scheduled to leave for Utah on Thursday morning, but found a flight from Tucson on Wednesday evening that would get me to SLC about the same time as Jeanne and Emily arrived from PA. I got on the plane in Tucson at 6:15p. All went well until we were on final approach to Las Vegas. At that time we were informed that it was too windy to land and we would be diverting to Phoenix. Of course every plane trying to land in Vegas was diverted to Phoenix so Phoenix was BEDLAM! While, I got a flight to SLC and finally arrived at 2:15a. It was a long night. Oh, my luggage didn't arrive but Jeanne was at the airport to greet me and that made the entire day!
Of course the weather was a bit different in SLC than in Arizona. I called early in the am to see if my luggage had arrived. "No, it is not here yet," said the male voice with a heavy Indian (as in from India) accent. "It's lost," was my reply. "No, it is not lost until 5 days." "Fine, technically it's not lost, but it's lost!" "Mister Pickett, I have a very good feeling that this luggage is not lost." That required some repentance on my part. I'm supposed to be the optimistic one. While I was in the shower, the airline called to tell me my luggage had arrived. I apologized for not being more positive and thanked the man for believing my luggage to SLC.
It's always a wonderful, amazing thing to see mountains after being in PA for extended periods of time. they simply take my breath away. Here is an everyday scene in Utah that made me stop the car and get out on an off-ramp to take a picture in freezing cold weather.
It was so good to be with family. Kelly took Laynie, Addy, and Clay to the park for some snow fun. I trailed along with the camera looking for photo ops.
Becca and Ella. It doesn't get much cuter than that!
Clayton and Addison got their first ski lessons from Nana. It was very fun watching them ski down the little lawn in front of Becca's house, just loving the feeling of going fast on the snow.
Just look at that face. One can only hope the expertise catches up to the craziness FAST! He so reminds me of Bill, who would go anywhere and do anything on skis and scare his parents to death, following every near-death experience with, "I meant to do that!"
More mountains. The view from just up the street from Becca's house.

About February 12th

Though this blog is being uploaded on March 23rd, these events happened around February 12th. The desert does give plenty of opportunity for photography. For these pictures I simply walked around the golf course next to the resort. Moma and Papa cacti look like a happy couple.
Above is the Marriott resort we stayed at. How can something so huge be supported with water and everything else necessary to maintain such a property and gold course and pool and spa, etc. out in the middle of the desert? It's baffling - nice but baffling.
This photograph is currently one of my most viewed photos on I named it, "How can you stand this." Apparently the claws on the birds toes are long enough to reach through the spines of the cactus, make contact with the actual plant and support the bird without his feet touching the stickers. Nice arrangement, but what if you miscalculate?
Just a solitary leaf with the sun shining through taken with my 80-400 VR lens at 400mm. Not bad for that kind of zoom.

Tucson - Study in Contrasts

Tucson, Arizona is a rather medium-sized city in the middle of a desert. Why people ever thought in the first place to live in the desert is beyond me. And when I say, "in the first place," that is to say the children of Adam and Eve, or whoever was the first to say, "wow, here's a hot, dry, arid, death-trap of a place with no water, let's settle down," just amaze me. So, here in the middle of the desert you see the "old" and the "new" contrasted against each other as those who were somewhat more "original" and really laid the groundwork for those to come are squeezed out by the new, certainly less colorful and less pleasing.
Despite new arrivals, ancient survivors remain. I simply cannot see a roadrunner and not think of Saturday morning cartoons. Why was the roadrunner smarter than the coyote? All I could tell from meeting them is they are curios and they are fast. They are also a pretty bird. I don't know what they look like in flight because I never saw one fly.
Above is a picture of some of the beautiful fauna that must have attracted the original settlers. It seems EVERY plant in the dessert has spines or stickers or something that poses into you. I suppose they are so busy trying to get water they simply have no time or energy for anything else, like fending off natural predators. So, just grow some stickers in the first place and then don't worry about it. Somehow the birds find ways to nest and perch on these plants. Hmmm. Which bird was it that first thought, "boy the dessert would be a wonderful place ..."
Of course the Cindy Rowe golf team is under a great deal of pressure to keep winning. This was the third year in a row that we have won the tournament. We started it off right with a birdie on the first hole. Kirk Reed and Brian Clayton are workmates (left and right) while James O'Malley is a supplier/firend. James and I have played in the member-guest tournament at the country club for 3 years running now.

At the end of the day I hiked a large hill to get a view of the city and take some pictures. This is what I saw. It was a little scary to wait for the right moment because I knew better than to be up there in the dark but the light just kept getting better and better. I probably got even better than this, but I did the smart thing and booked it down the hill (20 minutes) before complete darkness set in.