[ t h i n k ]
[ t h i n k ]
Good morning everyone and thank you for being here to celebrate the life our Dad, Joe Pickard. My name is Scott Pickard and I am the third of Betty and Joe’s four children: Carolyn of Grand Junction; Larry of Houston, TX; Scott of Champaign, IL; and Kay of Denver, CO. Joseph Pickard passed away just a few days before Thanksgiving, that wonderful holiday when we celebrate the many blessings we all share in America. In that lingering spirit of Thanksgiving, and now with the Christmas season ahead, our family wishes to say “thank you” to our Dad’s many friends, supporters, and caregivers that have made his life (and our Mom’s) so happy and peaceful since they moved here eight years ago.
We know there are many members of the First Presbyterian Church here today. Our family would like to thank you all for the friendship and fellowship you have given to our dad since he first became a member of this fine church. Joe Pickard was a man of softly-spoken yet unwavering faith which was the bedrock and compass guiding him through a resilient, successful, and joyful life. He loved this church and its congregation. Thank you, First Presbyterian members. And we must say a very special thank you to Pastor Tom Hansen for all that he has done to bring our family together during the passing of our mom, Betty Pickard, three years ago, and now our dad, Joe Pickard. Tom’s wise words and positive spirit have given our family comfort and peace during these times. Thank you very much, Pastor Tom.
And we need to thank everybody in our family who have traveled far to celebrate the life of Joseph Simmons Pickard: our dad, father-in-law, granddad, great granddad, and the leader and main event at all of our family reunions. The “Pickard Family Tree” that flows from Betty and Joe Pickard now numbers 37, soon to be 38 when a baby granddaughter will be born in February to Ryan and Caitlin Pickard of Houston, Texas. Our family has been reunioning someplace in the United States every other summer for the last 20 years. Just this last summer we were all together in Grand Junction at the Wine Country Inn. We had a great time and Dad had a great time with his 19 grand and great-grandchildren all around him. So a big Thank You to this wonderful family.
We know that there are many residents and staff members from the Atrium here today to pay their respects to Joe Pickard. The Atrium has been home to our parents since 2008. We want to thank the residents and staff for your friendship toward our parents, and Joe in these last three years since mom passed away. We want to thank the staff at the Atrium for their kind and caring services, day-in and day-out, which made it a comfortable and peaceful home for Dad. And as you all know, Joe never missed a meal, so that must say something! Thank you to all the residents and staff at the Atrium.
In particular, though, we need to thank Joe’s close friends – Marilyn, Richard, and Jim — who sat together every day to share breakfast, lunch, and dinner at what they called the “Happy Table”. You helped Dad get through a very sad time after our mom passed away. He so enjoyed your friendship and good humor each and every day. A heartfelt thank you to the Happy Table crew.
We know there are many family and friends here that have played golf with Joe Pickard at one time or another. We want to say thank you to his golfing buddies for all of the good times and fellowship you shared with him on and off the golf course. If you were lucky enough to play golf with Joe, you had to call all your penalties and make all of your putts, even if the ball was 1 inch from the hole! He was an exceptional golfer and it was, second to being with mom, his greatest passion and the most fun thing for him to do. At our family reunion here in July, he hit the ceremonial opening tee shot on the first hole and of course, he hit the ball right down the middle of the fairway. To my knowledge, that was — at age 99 — his last golf shot. In particular, we want to thank Josh Holmes for encouraging our Dad to enter the 2014 Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, UT, at age 97. And it is no surprise that he won a gold medal! Thank you Josh, and thank you golfing buddies for being such good friends to Joe Pickard.
There is a special couple here today that I think we all know: Carolyn and Dave Brown. Our family needs to thank Carolyn, our sister, and her husband Dave, for everything they have done for Betty and Joe Pickard, mom and dad, since they moved to Grand Junction in 2008. Carolyn and Dave watched over and cared for Joe and Betty and were best friends to them including day trips up to the Monument, or the Mesa, or the Book Cliffs; sharing meals at Grand Junction restaurants; libations at 5:00 pm at the Atrium or Snow Mesa Road; golf on Friday mornings; and cheering on the Broncos on football Sundays. They have simply been there for Mom and Dad every step of the way until dad’s final days. Thank you, Carolyn and Dave, for being the local “guardian angels” to our parents and doing everything you could to make their Grand Junction period secure, peaceful, and happy.
And finally, we have one last very big thank you to our mom and dad, Joe and Betty Pickard, for their gift to us of immeasurable value, which is the example of the very life they lived: two people who loved each other for 73 years as husband and wife, always together, never apart, building their story year by year of honest hard work, faithfulness, the joys of family, and ultimately the relaxed peacefulness of retirement. They have been like two stars in the sky always showing us the way, guiding us, inspiring us, teaching us, and comforting us. Mom and Dad, Betty and Joe, we love you, we thank you, and now, may you both rest in peace together.
Several years ago my wife and I were vacationing on the beach near the Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan. Next to us was an attorney from Madison, Wisconsin and his family who we befriended and enjoyed their company and conversation. The next thing I know the attorney and his daughter were off walking the beach for two hours collecting rocks and putting them in plastic bags. When they returned to their spot right next to us, they dumped the rocks in the sand and in less than an hour they sifted through the rocks and picked ones that best matched a particular state and they constructed a map of the United States right there in the sand from memory. Wow, was I impressed!
I would guess the daughter was in high school and clearly she and her dad had done this before. My immediate thought was, I can’t do that! I thought I knew the U.S. states pretty well having traveled through every single one of them (the lower 48 not including Alaska and Hawaii), but in spite of that there was no way I could construct a map from memory and be able to identify rocks that could represent each state and put them in the right position. Right then and there I challenged myself that I would learn how to do this and I would construct my own “beach map” out of rocks the next summer, and this is the story of how I did that.
A game/activity idea is born
During the drive home from the beach (which takes about three hours to get to Champaign, IL), my mind was racing with ideas about the beach map. The simple pledge to just learn how to do it grew into an idea to create what I call a “family beach activity game,” call it BeachMap. Once the spark of an idea takes hold, there is nothing more enjoyable than that first period of brainstorming to try to put that idea in motion. My wife and I enjoyed a back-and-forth discussion in the car trying to figure out how we could create a tool/process that would help teach adults and kids how to build a map out of beach rocks and have fun in the process. If you ever get creator’s (writer’s) block, try getting in the car with a collaborator and drive for three hours and the ideas will flow!
Tinkering in the garage
I do all my creating and designing in several places, but when it comes to dealing with something physical I like to go to my garage where I have all my tools and lots of bench space. My first thought was to develop a device which would allow me to “stamp” a map of the United States in the sand which would also show the outline of each individual state. That way you would have a guide for the shape and size of a rock you would need for each state and it would simply be a matter of placing that rock in the right position. You would also have the benefit of making the entire map and each individual state in perfect scale to each other. So for the last three summers I have built three beach maps with rocks and experimented with several different ways to “stamp” the map outline in the sand.
I made my first stamp out of silicone rubber using a 2-component product called OOMO. The rubber stamp looked like a blue doormat. To do this I purchased a box of laser-cut wooden U.S. state pieces from a supplier in Greece I found on Etsy. I laid those pieces out on the table and kept a 1/8-inch gap between the border of each state. Then I poured the silicone rubber mixture over that map to form (cast) the stamp. When the rubber had cured, I peeled it off the table and carefully removed each state piece which revealed the impression of a U.S. map with a tin border around the perimeter of each state.
The stamp worked quite well but it had the disadvantages of: (a) being too heavy, i.e, too costly to ship to a customer; and (b) the thin borders around each state were not durable and wore away in spots. My first beach map using the “doormat” stamp was a total success (people loved it!) but I didn’t think it was a feasible approach if I were going to make this a game product which could be economically shipped to customers.
For the second map, I built it simply used the “puzzle pieces” of each state and assembled them on the beach to create a map impression in the sand. Then I was able to remove each wooden piece and use each piece as a guide when walking down the beach to find a good rock to match that state. I didn’t like this technique as much as having a stamp which could be used to quickly make a perfect impression of a map of the United States in the sand, as many times as I wanted; however, the individual state pieces are very light and economical to ship.
For the third prototype, I constructed a stamp by gluing the state pieces on a piece of plywood in reverse (mirror) image so that when the stamp was turned over and pressed into the sand it would make a perfect impression of the United States map. This clearly would be too big and bulky to ship as a game product, but this gave me a durable stamp for experimentation and many trial runs on the beach.
I think I’ve figured out how to make a very lightweight, flexible, and economical stamp, but I’ll save that information for a follow-on post.
It’s all about the rocks
The basic idea of the game/activity is to walk along the beach and find one rock that is the approximate size and shape for each particular state. You will discover, however, that this is basically impossible to do for the states California, Texas, and Florida, so you may need to use two or more rocks to configure those states. This is not a game of perfect so you have to embrace the imperfections. If you find a rock that is shaped exactly like a state and is the right size, pat yourself on the back because that’s pretty rare. As Tim Gunn of Project Runway says, “Make it work!”
Another objective is to make the overall map and each individual state to scale, whatever that overall scale will be. That’s why the stamp approach is so helpful. The range of size of rocks you can reasonably find on any given beach will dictate the size of the map you can build. The beach where we go to in Michigan has rocks anywhere from a tiny pebble up to about 4 inches in height x width. That’s why I usually need two rocks for Alaska, California and Florida, and 3-5 rocks for Texas (wouldn’t you know it, my home state!)
Walking along the beach and trying to find rocks that match the approximate size and shape of a state is what the game is all about. It sounds so simple (and to some, maybe even boring) but this is a great visuospatial activity for kids and adults alike and when done with someone else, it is really more fun and satisfying than you might think. You’ve just got to give it a try and in the process of having fun, you will learn your states!
One approach is to set out with a puzzle piece for say, Illinois, and try to find that rock. That’s a very focused way to do this but it’s a bit of a needle-in-a-haystack approach and I have discovered that it’s not the best technique. What my wife and I do is walk along the beach and pick up a bunch of rocks that at the time look like they might be good matches for one state or another. Then we come back with a big bag of rocks and dump them out on the beach and do the matching at that time. As you start to populate your map with rocks (states), you will have inevitable gaps and then you can go back out down the beach to specifically look for those rocks to close the gaps. Trust me, after you do this a few times, it’s surprising how good you get at it.
I’ve been enjoying experimenting with this activity for three summers now and here’s what I’ve learned:
Kids and adults really enjoy the activity and are impressed with the finished product. I made a point of building these beach maps right along the stairway which leads down to our beach so people would pass the map on the way down and on the way up from the beach. I would take pictures and post them on our beach club’s Facebook page to alert people and let them comment. People really seemed to like it and that’s satisfaction enough for me!
You can appreciate and enjoy the infinitely fascinating variety of rocks and their origin, shape, color, and texture. All you rock lovers know what I mean!
It is a rich visuospatial game/activity and creative process and in this age of digital everything, we need more hands-on activities that connect hands, eyes, and brain….. a poor man’s Luminosity!
Nothing is more stress relieving and relaxing than meandering down the beach looking for rocks and letting your mind wander. It’s a vacation within a vacation.
Challenge yourself and give it a try
As of yet, I have no commercial game/activity product to sell, but I continue to enjoy the experimentation, prototyping, and general tinkering toward that goal.
I hope I’ve given you enough information and reason to give it a try, and if you do, let me know how it goes!
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We’ve got some resources, we just need to do something with it.