Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014 was a total blast. Samantha, Jake and George came from Menlo Park. SAC II, Cheryl, Andy, Donna, Anthony and Hope came from Springfield. Melissa came from St. Louis. Mark, Daya and Ahmed came from Minneapolis. Heidi came from Smithville. Topekans were the Gs, Oma, Nancy and Bobby. A Christmas Eve group shot was miraculously organized.
In addition to battling the common cold, intrepid family members also battled to liberate the legion of Christmas presents that were imprisoned under our $5 tree.

Photos were taken of a bunch of smiley people ...
Mega thanks to all who who joined us for Christmas 2014.
Sorry ... I can't help but post one final shot of my wonderful kid and her wonderful kid.
Make that 2 final shots.
Merry Christmas 2014.

PS. As it ends up, Anthony actually IS taller than Granny.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

100 years ago in France

In December 1914, the world was at war. The German Army had marched though Belgium and had gained control of important industrial regions in France. British soldiers halted the advance along what became known as the Western Front ... a long line of trench warfare
that stretched from the North Sea to Switzerland. The line remained essentially unchanged for most of the war. The brutality of World War I was unparalleled due, in part, to the use of chemical warfare in the form of chlorine gas and mustard gas. Millions of people died. 
In the midst of this brutality, an impromptu peace broke out on Christmas Eve, 1914. German soldiers perched lighted trees on trench parapets and Stille Nacht was heard across the barren "no-man's land" between the trenches. British soldiers reacted by joining German soldiers in a Christmas Truce. Cigarettes and treats were shared. Songs were sung. According to some, a soccer game was played.
Books and articles have been written about the Christmas Truce of 1914. A few years ago, Helen and I saw John McCutcheon tell the story through his song, Christmas in the Trenches.
 While the Christmas Truce of 1914 might be considered a military embarrassment due to the blatant and open fraternization with the enemy, this 100 year old story offers me hope.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving - a day of opposites

Our Thanksgiving Day was not only a day of thanks, it was also a day of total opposites. For almost 30 years, we hosted giant Thanksgiving dinners for family and friends.

After dinner we spent hours cleaning up the kitchen and playing board games. Now, with Samantha, Jake and George happily settled in Silicon Valley, our Thanksgiving Day celebrations consist of small gatherings where somebody else does the dishes, we are the youngest participants and .... believe it or not, I am the tallest.
In recent years, our Thanksgiving afternoons have been consumed with quiet naps. This year, we joined friends at their comfortable home for an afternoon of wholesome family fun and youthful vitality.  We were not even close to being the youngest nor was I even close to being the tallest. There was nothing quiet or nap-like about it. I helped build fun stuff ...
while Helen engaged in a lively (and very serious) game of spoons.

Speaking of opposites ... 1,500 miles away, Samantha, Jake and George spent Thanksgiving Day having a picnic on the beach with Beth. George played in the sand and waded into the Pacific Ocean.
Despite the wide range of Thanksgiving opposites ... the one common similarity is that we are all very thankful for our freedom, our family and our friends.

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

World's Fair and FaceTime with George

In the summer of 1965, our family, including Grandma Katy, packed into our brand new 1965 Buick Electra 225 convertible and ... after Dad served his 2 weeks of active duty at Fort Sheridan, Illinois ... drove to New York to attend the 1964-1965 World's Fair
The five of us, along with 51,607,302 other visitors, gazed at the expositions with awe and wonder. The FUTURAMA exposition took us on ride to the City of Tomorrow. We stared in disbelief at the idea of floating around in air cars,
were introduced to the computer modem and watched Abraham Lincoln come alive thanks to the wonders of Audio-Animatronics.

However, the most intriguing to me was Bell Telephone's new fangled concept known as the Picturephone.
Predictions were that Picturephones would be a common household appliance in the near future. There was only one catch ... they were very, very expensive. A 3 minute Picturephone call between New York and Chicago cost $27 ... the equivalent of $206 today. 

Well, a mere 50 years later, the Picturephone is finally an affordable reality. Known to us as FaceTime
it offers grandparents in Kansas the opportunity to see, and visually interact with, their grandson in California. We love FaceTime with George.

While technology marches on, some things never change. I still love, and occasionally drive, the now almost 50 year old 1965 Buick Electra 225 convertible.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Halloween Weekend - Samantha, Jake, George, Philipp and Nica

Halloween weekend brought George to town for his very first Potwin Halloween. Samantha and Jake dressed him as a golfer ... complete with Scottish Tam, argyle sweater and knickers.  

Although George was the coolest of Trick or Treaters, over 1,500 others visited us as well. Granny and Granddad helped Samantha and Jake hand out the treats.

Philipp, now living and working in Boulder, arrived late Halloween night with Nica ... a very special and beautiful addition to Philipp's life.
We spent the weekend hanging out with young people, playing in the leaves with George
and introducing George to Bobo's apple pie.
Mega thanks to Philipp for letting us meet Nica. Thanks also to Jake and Samantha for sharing themselves ... and George ... with us.

Halloween was scary fun.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Oklahoma

Earlier this year, a golfing buddy of mine attended a charity auction where ... after a glass of wine or two ... he bought a weekend gambling and golfing package at the Indigo Sky Casino located in NE Oklahoma. Not wanting to stick him with the entire bill, late last month several of us decided to pitch in and help. Gambling isn't my deal but WOW, the golfing experience was fantastic. The Shangri-La Golf Course alone was worth the trip.
(A hole with a fire hydrant next to the green. Really?)

(A finishing hole with a double waterfall and double greens. Very cool.)

The weather was perfect, the camaraderie was great and the trip was a blast. 

Interestingly, the trip home included a strange and unexpected adventure. Our GPS took us through Picher, Oklahoma, an abandoned mining town that is contaminated due (in part) to the toxic metal tailings (chat) that are heaped all over town. Chat is the byproduct of zinc and lead mining.
There are also giant sink holes caused by the mining.
It all makes for a very eerie panorama.
Click here for a short (albeit overly dramatized) video about the Most Toxic Town in America. 

From rolling green fairways to mountains of toxic chat, my trip to Oklahoma was one of amazing extremes.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Alaska

Late last month we joined Samantha, Jake and George in Vancouver to embark on a 7-day Alaskan Cruise. Jake reserved the Penthouse of the Celebrity Millennium.
It was pretty fancy.


From Vancouver we went through the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, then to Hoonah (Icy Strait Point), then to Juneau (with a side trip to the Mendenhall Glacier), then to Skagway, then to a boat-side viewing of the Hubbard Glacier and then to Seward. From Seward we took a magnificent 4 hour train ride to Anchorage to catch our flight home.

As always, George ran the show. He cheerfully dressed for dinner

but insisted on checking his messages during appetizers.

He soaked up the hot tub
and loved his family time in the pool.

He rode the swing in Skagway
but skipped riding the World's Largest Ziprider in Icy Strait Point.


George was bored by the massive and thunderous Hubbard Glacier ... 
carefully explored the wonders of the The Alaskan Sea Life Center in Seward ...
but chose to sleep through most of the scenic train ride from Seward to Anchorage.

A giant Alaska-sized "thank you" to Samantha, Jake and George for allowing us to join them on this amazing northwest adventure.
Cool shoes, George.