April 30, 2013

Spring Field

Primrose, Wisconsin, May 2005. Wild mustard carpets the hillside.

Ice-Cream Weather

Mackinaw City, Michigan, July 1961. Mom grabs an ice-cream cone during our day trip to the tourist spot.


Suburban Chicago, Spring 1961. A toy piano does not reverse my disinterest in piano lessons.

Way-Back-When Road Trip

Near Vilnius, Lithuania, about 1936. Members of Suzanne's family head off to a summer vacation spot. The girl in the wagon with the bobbed haircut is Suzanne's daughter, Kaunas Nina.
Thanks to Kaunas Nina's daughter—my Kaunas Cousin—for making this photo available to us.

April 29, 2013

Spring Planters

Chicago, Illinois, April 2007. It's the prettiest time of year to visit the city.

Facciamo la pasta in casa.

"Let's make pasta at home."

*     *     *     *     *

Suburban Chicago, April 1985. When I returned to the States after living in Italy, I tried to reproduce some of the dishes we had made in Venice. In the 1980s, the "authentic" Italian food craze was just taking off in this country, and many of my favorite foods—gnocchi, risotto, and tiramisù—were not yet available here. Few people had heard of "Parmigiano Reggiano," and I could buy that only at swank delicatessens. It also was impossible to find ready-made pasta for lasagna. My Dad found the process of making pasta at home amusing.

Related by Marriage: Wedding Tunes

Probably Würzburg, Germany, about 1946. This is the wedding of a cousin (the bride) of Mr. Irene's Dad. The woman to the right of the groom—in folkdress—is Danutė.

"Regulations restricting the size of dogs people could keep in Chinese cities were introduced following an outbreak of rabies in 2006 in which more than 300 people died."

Large dogs bred for field work in colder climates don't belong in tropical, cramped urban centers.

April 28, 2013

Bistro Supper

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, September 1985. We pull up as dusk arrives. The mountains cast a blue shade on the village.

We maintain our Sunday rituals, even in rocky times.

Seligenstadt, Germany, 1948. Friends of my maternal Grandfather, Jake, gather for the afternoon.

Sunday "Drive"

Shore of the Nemunas River, about 1920. Many family photos feature boat rides along the Nemunas River or people standing along the reedy riverbank and shoreline. Here, relatives of Suzanne—the wife of my Dad's older cousin—embark on a short ride.
Thanks to my Kaunas Cousin for making this photo available to us.

Annual Banquet

Mr. Irene and I last night attended the banquet hosted by Madison-Vilnius Sister Cities, Inc. The centerpiece of the evening was a presentation by the Grandson of Aleksandras Stulginskis, the second President of the Republic of Lithuania.

Madison, Wisconsin, April 2013. The greeters warmly welcomed us.

*     *     *     *     *

Madison, Wisconsin, April 2013. The venue decorated the tables with the tricolors of the flag.

*     *     *     *     *

Madison, Wisconsin, April 2013. The chef delighted guests with a customized, Lithuanian meal. We started out with Šaltibarščiai. Note the appropriate side plate of dill-coated, boiled potatoes.

*     *     *     *     *

Madison, Wisconsin, April 2013. We ended the meal with a chocolate variation on Napoleonas. One criticism: the dollop of orange marmalade was a downer because I expected apricot jam.

(Note: The Šaltibarščiai were so good, I decided to share a spoonful with the tablecloth.)

*     *     *     *     *

Madison, Wisconsin, April 2013. No Lithuanian event is complete without a loterija.

UPDATE: Link to professional photos taken by Paulius Musteikis.

April 27, 2013

Posed Reunion

Door County, Wisconsin, May 2005. Spring bulbs bloom later in the northern part of the state.

Off Lead

Door County, Wisconsin, July 1983. Mom tests Meškė's obedience skills.


Kaunas, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, Spring 1958. Kaunas Nina holds her baby—my Kaunas Cousin—as her husband looks down at the infant. Standing behind Kaunas Nina is my Dad's older cousin, Henry. Henry's wife, Suzanne, sits on the right. The fellow seated between Henry and Suzanne is Suzanne's cousin.

Related by Marriage: Spring Blossoms

Near Dearborn, Michigan, Spring 1958. Mr. Irene's Mom finds the showiest tree in the park.

April 26, 2013

"Why can't I go outside?"

Brookfield Zoo, 1968. This snapshot offers a better view of the mural in the giraffe enclosure.

Favorite Things

Suburban Chicago, Spring 1967. Here's Dad with three of his favorite things: the London Fog windbreaker, the new VW, and the Rolleiflex.


Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois, May 1967. I know why I am standing on my toes, but why am I holding onto Mom's pocketbook? I have my first "real" camera around my neck. I took this photo and this one that day.

"Hay! Let's stop here to relax."

Near Vilnius, Lithuania, about 1920. The croquet players take a break from their game. Suzanne—the wife of my Dad's older cousin, Henry—is the woman wearing white on the far left.

(Ha ha. The blog already had a "hay" label.)

Thanks to my Kaunas Cousin for making this photo available to us.

April 25, 2013

Modern-Kaunas Reunion

Kaunas, Lithuania, August 2011. This is my Parents' hometown as it looks today. When she emigrated, my Mom found American architecture startling: she thought the flat-roofed Brooklyn houses looked like matchbooks. She smiles every time she sees a tiled roof.

"smiley barn?"

Thanks to my Toronto Cousin for making this photo available to us.

Tatjana at the Lake

Lake Nipissing, Ontario, Canada, July 1964. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, visits us at Lake Nipissing. This photo illustrates the colors of her housecoat.


St. George's Parish, Bridgeport, Chicago, June 1917. Mr. Irene's maternal Grandmother, Anna, poses on her wedding day with her sister, Petra (on the right), and another attendant.


Near Vilnius, Lithuania, about 1920. Croquet became a "mass phenomenon" in nineteen-century Lithuania. Here, members of my Kaunas Cousin's family test their skills on the front lawn.

Thanks to my Kaunas Cousin for making this photo available to us.

April 24, 2013

Grab a Book: Lakeshore Edition

Door County, Wisconsin, August 1975. Mom reads while I float in the distance. I (partially) take back what I said about spending time in the water.

It's almost warm enough to sit outside.

Suburban Chicago, Spring 1963. Mom enjoys the backyard patio after a day of work.

In Step

Kaunas, Lithuania, perhaps around 1930. My Dad's older cousin, Henry—on the left—and his friends take a stylish stroll. Although their caps resemble those worn by Lithuanian high school students, these men appear to be well past high-school age.

Thanks to my Kaunas Cousin for making this photo available to us.

Those Melancholy Eyes

Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1927. This is my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana. This image arrived in the "new batch" of photos my Kaunas Cousin recently sent. It also is a photograph I never seen.

Here's how Tatjana looked about twenty years later, after World War II.

Thanks to my Kaunas Cousin for making this photo available to us.

April 23, 2013

Waiting for Business

Venice, Italy, April 1984. The gondolieri haven't switched yet to the uniforms they typically wear in the summer. The men stand in front of the Palazzo Ducale.

Related by Marriage: Sunny California

Los Angeles, California, July 1970. Mr. Irene—wearing sunglasses—and his Los Angeles Cousins visit the "Marineland of the Pacific" attraction during Mr. Irene's California vacation.

Why are we here?

Suburban Chicago, March 1959. Did Dad think the Forest Preserve parking lot was a good place to take baby pictures?

Vacation Game

Near Parry Sound, Canada, July 1954. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, engages my Toronto Cousin in a hide-and-seek game.

Happy St. George's Day

Sometimes we pay more attention to name days than to birthdays.

April 22, 2013

Devilish Reunion

Near Juodkrantė, Lithuania, August 2011. The monster doesn't spit splinters. He's just a typical example of a woodcarving celebrating the country's pagan roots.

Thanks to my Toronto Cousin for making this photo available to us.

UPDATE: This image is from Raganų Kalnas—the Hill of Witchesnear Juodkrantė, Lithuania. I've made the correction above.

Related by Marriage: The Youngest Brother

Near Panevėžys, Lithuania, about 1950. This is Stacey, the young brother of Mr. Irene's Dad. Stacey stayed behind on the family farm when his older brothers, Mr. Irene's Dad and Ignas, fled the Soviet occupation in 1944.

Tornado season approaches.

I grew up in the Midwest, and I was accustomed to the dangers of the spring tornado season. Our grade school teachers taught the history of the 1920 tornado that devastated the parish and town. I feared tornadoes more than monsters. The siren sounds sent me bolting to the basement. As an adult, I've kept a list of items to grab when the warnings approach. Among those items are three leashes: I don't want the dogs loose if the outcome is grave.

My Parents expressed surprise about how common tornadoes are in this part of the country. They didn't recall hearing about tornadoes in Lithuania. Tornadoes, they explained, are rare in Europe—although there was a tornado last year in Venice.

Here is a photo of a funnel cloud in Lithuania. My Dad's cousin, Henry, likely captured the image:

Near Kaunas, Lithuania, 1925. Thanks to my Kaunas Cousin for making this image available to us.

An Ordinary Day

Suburban Chicago, 1963. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, sits at the kitchen table after cooking dinner. I wonder if she struck this pose so that she'd have a good snapshot to send to her sisters, who lived in the Soviet Union.

April 21, 2013

Safe Reunion

Verona, Wisconsin, April 2013. This little fellow flew into our picture window a few days ago. He remained stunned for a while, but he later flew away unhurt.

We take a break from our exercising.

Near Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1918. My Dad's older cousins, Vytas and Henry, take a break from their horseback ride. We still haven't been able to identify the sisters. My Kaunas Cousin thinks they may be friends of the family. My Toronto Cousin, however, noticed that both girls—and especially the one on the left—share our family's "melancholy eyes."

An Awkward Stage

Bulger Park Hall, Melrose Park, Illinois, February 1969. Until I looked at photos from this minejimas, I had forgotten that there was a stage when my Lithuanian-school classmates and I wore improvised folkdresses. We had grown out of the children's costumes our Moms had sewn, but the teachers determined we still were too young to wear the preteen models. As a result, we sported pleated, plaid skirts for this independence-day performance. Those of us who still had heads small enough to fit our crowns wore those, too.

Party Basement

Rockford, Illinois, Spring 1965. When people hosted big, festive parties, they served dinner at folding tables in their basements. My memories of the basements of some homes is clearer than my memory of the residences' other living spaces. Most "party basements," like this one, had paneling, and many featured large, backlit murals of a landscapeusually a scene from a national park.

There are more photos from this Rockford party here and here.

April 20, 2013

Quiet Canal

Venice, Italy, November 1983. There are quiet spots in Venice. This one is near La Fenice.

The Snail Collection

acquired Gigi. The hamsters were around by the time I arrived, and for a time we kept an undomesticated rabbit. I even remember that caiman.
A neighborhood kid gave me some snails when I was in the fourth or fifth grade. The snails multiplied rapidly. I housed the snails in jars lined up on the Rec Room bookshelves. When my fifth-grade teacher—an interesting woman from Argentina—crafted a "science-fair" assignment, I used the snail collection as the inspiration for my project.

Suburban Chicago, April 1969. Check out the snail "Nursery."

Summer Whites

Vilnius, Lithuania, about 1920. This is a portrait of Valerie's family. Valerie was the older sister of Suzanne—the wife of my Dad's cousin Henry.
Thanks to Suzanne's Granddaughter—my Kaunas Cousin—for making this photo available to us.

Related by Marriage: Army Buddies (Part 12)

Camp Irwin, Barstow, California, 1952. In this "Army Buddies" snapshot, Mr. Irene's Dad—on the left—waits with a friend for the bus that will take them to town for a weekend's leave off the base.

April 19, 2013

A Walk in the Field, in Three Takes

*     *     *     *     *

*     *     *     *     *

Door County, Wisconsin, August 2000. There are still plenty of quiet spots in which to roam.