July 31, 2013


Verona, Wisconsin, September 2011. We use turkey to stage photos.

A Good Place

Suburban Chicago, January 1962. Mom's holding her knitting, but she can free one hand.

Warm-Weather Memory

Kaunas, Lithuania, early 1930s. A friend of Henry and Suzanne delights in the summer.
Thanks to Henry and Suzanne's Granddaughter—my Kaunas Cousin—for making this photo available to us.

July 30, 2013

A Campus Walk, in Three Takes

Evanston, Illinois, April 15, 1978. Harris Hall is the home of the History Department.

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Evanston, Illinois, April 15, 1978. The English Department is in University Hall.

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Evanston, Illinois, April 15, 1978. The Deering Library stopped functioning as Northwestern's main library in 1970.

Do you keep an old ensemble thinking you might wear it again one day?

I do. And I am not the only one.

(The oldies I have are dresses and suits my Mom knitted for me in the 1970s and 1980s.)

Related by Marriage: Forest-Preserve Duty

Chicago, Illinois, about 1954. Here's another image of Mr. Irene's Dad—wearing the shades—during his V.F.W. days.

Grab a Book: Foreign-Language Edition

Suburban Chicago, October 1965. Mom's brushing up on her German.

Soon, the school year will begin.

Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1943. One of my Mom's medical-school classmates prepares her lessons.

July 29, 2013

Ice Cream Social

Venice, Italy, July 1989. Mr. Irene and I stop for ice cream along the Zattere, and these fellows fly in to clean our dishes.

(My favorite ice-cream flavor is Nocciola—Hazelnut.)

Related by Marriage: The Way Out.

Chicago, Illinois, 1951. Here's an image from a wedding at which Mr. Irene's Dad served as a groomsman. When we asked Mr. Irene's Dad what was notable about the event, he emphasized that the service took place at a Lutheran church.

General Manners: Be patient.

Suburban Chicago, May 1961. Dad has been snapping photos during my solo performance, but I've grown weary of the session.

July 28, 2013

Arsenale Reunion

Venice, Italy, June 1989. Mr. Irene and I explore the area around the Arsenale. It's a good place to get a feel for everyday Venice.

Sunday Tea

Kaunas, Lithuania, early 1930s. My favorite photos are the ones in which people naturally show expressions of love. These are friends of my Dad's older cousin, Henry, and his wife, Suzanne.

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

At Copacabana Beach ...

... "[d]ancing cardinals warm up the crowd in Rio" before the Pope's appearance.

(I wouldn't call that a "flash mob," however.)

Sunday Paper: Lithuanian-Language Edition

Door County, Wisconsin, July 1979. My friend Kris's maternal Grandfather, her Dad Vytenis, and one of the Heidis enjoy the lake view. Kris's Grandfather—in his eighties here—holds a copy of the Lithuanian-American newspaper, "Draugas." 

July 27, 2013

Wander Off

They're off to class.

Evanston, Illinois, April 25, 1978. Two of my dormmates part company as they head to class. For those of you familiar with Evanston: this is the intersection of Emerson and Orrington, looking east toward Sheridan Road. On the left is Searle, the Student Health Service, where I worked as a switchboard operator. On the right is the sorority quad and Cahn Auditorium. I took this photo from the common room—the "Lounge"—in my dormitory.

General Manners: If you attend a party, then look like you're having fun.

Suburban Chicago, July 1963. I'm enjoying my birthday party, and it looks like most of my friends are, too. (Today's not my birthday; I'm just posting a birthday-party photo.)

Happy Feet

It's "National Dance Day."

November 17, 1991, Madison, Wisconsin. Our folk-dance group, Žaibas, prepares to take the stage at the Oscar Mayer Theater in Madison's (now razed) Civic Center. The group performs annually at Madison's International Festival.

Related by Marriage: Hurricane Gloria, in Three Takes

Mr. Irene leased a house in the early 1980s near Long Island Sound in suburban New Haven. He lived there with some fellow graduate students from the Biology Department. The house, built in 1918, stood directly on the beachfront. It served as overflow lodging for a tennis and beach resort just a quarter-mile away. The resort, established in 1867, still operates today.

Hurricane Gloria, a meandering storm that crawled up the East Coast for several weeks, made landfall for the third and final time along the Connecticut coast on September 28, 1985. It was the worst hurricane Connecticut had seen in thirty years: its ferocity at landfall was a bit of a surprise. Computer modeling technology then was not what it is now. 

When the hurricane hit, Mr. Irene had just taken off on a flight out of Hartford airport bound for Chicago. He was returning to attend a friend’s wedding, and his flight was one of the last cleared to leave before Gloria’s landfall.

Here is how the shoreline looked at impact, just two miles from Mr. Irene’s Connecticut home.

Branford, Connecticut, October, 1985. Mr. Irene arrived home to find that the wooden, screened-in porch had taken the brunt of Hurricane Gloria’s force.

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Branford, Connecticut, October, 1985. "Tomo," a gentle German Shepard and Collie mix, served as mascot to the graduate-student household. She lived in fear of the simplest thunderstorms, and she was relieved when the hurricane ended.

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Branford, Connecticut, Spring, 2013. The house, today.


Via Althouse: Poppy watches Abby.

July 26, 2013

Stone Wall

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1966. We approach the tree line.

City Weekend

Vilnius, Lithuania, about 1936. Suzanne—the wife of my Dad's older cousin Henry—visits the city center. Vilnius is known as the "City of Churches."
Thanks to Suzanne's Granddaughter—my Kaunas Cousin—for making this photo available to us.

A Picnic with the Cousins, in Three Takes

After a snowstorm prevented our family from attending my Toronto Cousin's wedding, Dad and I flew to Canada the following summer to visit the newlyweds. We stayed with Dad's twin sister, Jonė, and her husband, Kadis. We also spent time at the new home my Toronto Cousin and her husband, Toronto Al, had just purchased.

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Toronto, Ontario, June 1978. That was the summer my Toronto Cousins grew corn.

Departing for the Ceremony

Suburban Chicago, December 1958. My Godparents depart for my christening. The two boys are my Godmother's sons.

July 25, 2013

Primary Sources

"So next time you pick up a skein (or seven) of your favorite yarn, remember to say thanks to the little dude who gave it to you."

And don't forget about knitting with dog hair.

Classic Reunion

Madison, Wisconsin, July 2013. Priuses occupy many of the spaces in my workplace garage. It was refreshing to see this Chevy in that "Prius for Everyone" environment.

Related by Marriage: Men in Arms

Chicago, Illinois, October 1950. Here's another image from the send off gathering in honor of Mr. Irene's paternal Uncle, Ignas. You know the men aren't Americans because of the manner in which they're interlocked at the elbows. American men wouldn't connect this way; they instead would wrap their arms around one another's shoulders.

(European men also are comfortable sitting with crossed legs.)


I wrote earlier about my fear of earning a bad grade. The anxiety blossomed during a 1968 incident. My Parents and my Best Friend's Parents were Nixon supporters during that autumn's campaign. Although Mom had barred me from engaging in activities in which I mixed with the public—no lemonade stands, solicitations, or the like—my Best Friend and I hatched a plan. In the late afternoons, after school, we stood on a busy intersection corner near our homes and waved "Nixon's the One" signs at the passing commuters. Many drivers honked; their attention encouraged us to continue campaigning.

My Best Friend and I decided we needed professional-Nixon gear. My Best Friend's older sister—who at that time may only have had a learner's permit—drove us to the Nixon campaign office on Fifth Avenue, in Maywood, Illinois. The workers there gave us straw hats, signs, and paper bags—lunch sacks—filled with "Nixon's the One" buttons. We continued our corner patrol. As cars approached the stop sign, we handed out fistfuls of the buttons.

I had great fun during the campaign season, but the political distraction ate into my study time. In late October, I took an essay exam in my fifth-grade American History class. I wrote my name, date, and home room number neatly on the first three lines of the loose-leaf page. In the upper right corner, in tiny letters, I wrote "Nixon's the One." I added three exclamation points after the phrase, and I underscored the word, "One." I don't remember the specific question the teacher had posed, but the exam tested our knowledge of the Monroe Doctrine.
I got a "D" on the exam. The Rec Room rumbled when I showed the score to my Mom. Mom implemented a regimen of supervised studying. Initially, she required me to sit next to her on the sofa, where she listened for an hour or so as I read my American History lessons aloud, nightly. The oversight eased over time—Mom gradually allowed me to read silently—but for many years, she watched me as I studied next to her in the Rec Room, ensuring that I didn't lose my focus.

Suburban Chicago, April 1970. Mom looks annoyed here, but she's probably just focused on her knitting. She's also reading; Mom often "multi-tasked."

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Suburban Chicago, May 1978. I prepare for a final exam in a History and Literature of Religions course. My leg is in a cast because I fell out of window on campus. It was a foolish incident; I'll write a post about it later. Mom is on call because the phone is within reach.

July 24, 2013

Summer Landscape

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1966. This is the view one sees when driving from Many Glacier Hotel to Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.

Shared Enterprise

Door County, Wisconsin, July 1979. My Mom loves to pick berries. Here, she and her best friend, Donna, collect wild strawberries in an undeveloped lot adjacent to the cottage.

Another Mystery Location

Lithuania, about 1943. My Dad popped this snapshot of his friend, Casey, into an envelope marked "Lietuva," or "Lithuania." If you know the location at which Dad took this photo, then please leave a comment.


Suburban Chicago, December 31, 1978. I used to play the game of Go. I wasn't very good at it, but I met many interesting people because of Go. Here, my two college buddies coach me through a New Year's Eve game in the Rec Room.


The "Insectothopter" is one of the items on display at the CIA Museum.
There are more pieces from the collection here. My Dad would have loved the pipe radio. Some items are more primitive, even if "[d]etails of pigeon missions are still classified."

July 23, 2013

Architectural Reunion

Chicago, Illinois, July 6, 2013. Listen closely to the docent because she covers a lot of information.

The room faced east.

Suburban Chicago, December 1978. Dad sometimes worked in his study; this was also the room in which he learned to type.

Morning Beachcombers

Door County, Wisconsin, July 1979. The family of my Mom's Best Friend, Donna, arrives for a weekend visit. Dad uses the self-timer to capture a candid shot. From left to right are: my Mom, Donna's Father, Donna, my Dad, and Donna's husband Vytenis.

The Life Box (Part 9)

In the scrapbook Ernest Hemingway's mother compiled, she included an apology the author penned on May 11, 1913.
Did you ever write a remorseful note to your Parents? I did:

Suburban Chicago, about 1967 or 1968. I wrote the note to obviate a likely punishment for two low exam scores. In our household two things sparked swift discipline: (1) disrespect; and (2) a bad grade. I don't remember whether this apology worked. It was memorable: Dad placed the note in the manila folder in which he saved my grade-school report cards.

July 22, 2013

Where the trip is the destination.

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1966. The Going-to-the-Sun Road takes visitors from one end of the park to the other. But the purpose of the drive isn't to reach St. Mary or Lake MacDonald; instead, it's to appreciate what you see along the way.

General Manners: Pause before you "finger wag."

Suburban Chicago, April 1961. I hold back my finger wag because Dad is taking a picture of me and my babysitter.

(Did you think I had forgotten about the "General Manners" series?)

Another Image from Augsburg

Augsburg, Germany, 1947. Here's another image from my Dad's visit to the Augsburg DP camp, where he and friends celebrated the birthday of Dad's Goddaughter.

A Child's Summer

Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1936. This little girl was the youngest child of my Dad's paternal Aunt Victoria. You may have seen her childhood photos earlier here, here, here, and here. She also appears as an adult in this photo on the far right, and on the left in this one.

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

Monday is laundry day.

What's to be done with Shetland fair-isle jumpers after Shetland ponies wear them?
The sweaters must be washed, of course.

July 21, 2013

Swiftcurrent Reunion

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1966. When we visited Glacier National Park—in 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972, and 1973—we stayed at the Swifcurrent Motor Inn. My Parents rented two adjacent rooms at the end of one of the Inn's buildings. The price for the two rooms was $28.00 per night. We could have stayed at the cheaper cabins the Inn offered, but back then, no cabins featured baths, and Mom and I insisted on indoor plumbing. This is a photo of the entry to our rooms.

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Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1987. Here's a view of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn's entrance in 1987, when I visited my Montana friends, and they drove me from Missoula to Glacier.

Sunday Paper: Companion Edition

Suburban Chicago, February 1970. Gigi's not interested in the news because she can't read either.

Old Photos and a Scrapbook

Ernest Hemingway's mother collected memories about her son's Oak Park childhood.

Related by Marriage: Two Brothers, in Uniform

Fort Bragg, North Carolina, about 1951. The U.S. drafted both Mr. Irene's Dad and Dad's older brother, Ignas, into the Army shortly after the men emigrated to the United States. Here, the two brothers reunite when Mr. Irene's Dad visits Ignas at Ignas's base in Fort Bragg.

Thanks to Ignas's daughter—Mr. Irene's Los Angeles Cousin—for sending this photo to us.


Shetland knitwear designers Kate Davies features a post about SWANTS, or "sweater-pants." Artist Stephen West bought an old Norwegian sweater—a Setesdal—at an Amsterdam thrift shop. He then steeked the vintage garment into a pair of pants. Yes, the first thing I see is the codpiece, which looks like it came from a central motif on the sweater's back.
Here's a man wearing a knitted jumpsuit. The creator called it an "Aran catsuit."

Mr. Irene has never worn knitted pants—and he'd never wear a knitted onsie. But he has humored me by wearing some brightly colored sweaters:

Madison, Wisconsin, November 17, 1991. Mr. Irene and I attend a post-performance party hosted by our folk dance group, Žaibas. I wear Vogue Knitting's 1991 Map of the World sweater. Note that I altered the pattern by knitting the Soviet Union in red, not pink, and adding Lithuanian as an independent country. I also knit the sweater in Merino Wool (Baruffa's "Maratona"), not in cotton. Mr. Irene wears a cotton (Tahki's "Cotton Classic"), sport-weight Aran based on a sweater, knit in the same salmon color, in this issue of Filatura di Crosa.

Hand knitting peaked somewhat in the early- to mid-1990s (I worked in a yarn shop as a sales girl between 1991 and 1992, so my view may be skewed). The garments were complicated and challenging, and designers like Missoni and Fendi regularly created new patterns. I think if today you want to knit something in that same league, you should turn to some Japanese patterns. Many of the American knitting magazines now target beginner, or "quick," projects.

Fortunately, one of the best designers from the earlier era—Alice Starmore and her daughter, Jade Starmore—still create stunning designs.