November 30, 2014


Verona, Wisconsin, March 2014. It's the last day of another gun-deer season, and you made it. Now run into the open field and play.

Related by Marriage: Armored Group Headquarters

Camp Irwin, Barstow, California, 1951. Mr. Irene's Dad was a tank instructor, so he's reporting to the correct building.

Grab a Book: Fireside Edition

Door County, Wisconsin, April 1976. Mom has her projects within reach as she sits near the fire.

(I posted the mountain-goat photo here. I see that I have not yet scanned the other image on the wall. I'll dig around for it.)

November 29, 2014

It's Saturday night, and she's ready for her bath.

Door County, Wisconsin, April 1976. Gigi liked getting bathed.

Weekend Spin

Near Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1936. Suzannethe wife of my Dad's older cousin, Henryand a relative take Suzanne's daughter, Kaunas Nina, for a ride on the sled.

Thanks to Kaunas Nina's daughter—my Kaunas Cousin—for making this photo available to us.

Dress Rehearsal

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, about 1966. The director ensures the children know their parts.

Thanks to Toronto Al for making this photo available to us.

November 28, 2014

The tracks are back.

Verona, Wisconsin, February 2014. The deer make the rounds in the backyard.

Related by Marriage: Forget about the leftovers.

Marquette Park, Illinois, November 1965. Let's have some rye bread and sausages instead.

Mr. Irene's family visits the home of Uncle D and his wife, Danutė. The occasion is a visit from Mr. Irene's paternal Uncle, Ignas. Left to right are Uncle D, Mr. Irene, Ignas, Mr. Irene's Mom, and Danutė. Mr. Irene's mind wanders as he thinks about the likely, upcoming trip to White Castle.

Here's another snapshot from that afternoon. Thanks to Ignas's daughterMr. Irene's Los Angeles Cousinfor making this photo available to us.

It's a little early for the tree, but ...

... it's fine skating weather.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, January 1961. My Toronto Cousin is ready to lace up the skates.

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

November 27, 2014

We-made-it Reunion

Verona, Wisconsin, October 2014. Even the tender, little ones are safe.

Thanksgiving Solo

Door County, Wisconsin, November 1975. I don't know why I didn't make the trip to the cottage with my Parents that year.

(Dad wears one of those zippered cardigans.)

Happy Thanksgiving

We're grateful for many things. Although I'm thankful for every day, sometimes a holiday creates a special memory.

Verona, Wisconsin, November 2012. Everyone eats, and Baci mooches. Later, he'll be tuckered.

November 26, 2014

November 24, 2014

Seasonal Reunion

Verona, Wisconsin, February 2014. We're settled in for the night.


Toronto, Ontario, Canada, about 1955. Small things spark interest.

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

Thank you, but I prefer the other glass.

Suburban Chicago, July 1960. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, accommodates my request.

"Knit the Internet"

Arne and Carlos, the knitters behind Christmas Balls, have a little fun with their needles.

(More of Arne and Carlos's works appear on their Facebook page.)

November 22, 2014

Few-Trees Reunion

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1972. We're approaching the tree line.

Work on the focus.

Suburban Chicago, 1967. I'm still learning to use the new camera; focusing isn't easy when one has bad eyesight.

Mom sits at her sewing machine. The shelves on the left store Mom's medical books. On the left are many of Dad's historical books; he rarely read fiction (that's something else he and I have in common). I see two books that influenced me: (1) Zoë Oldenbourg's The Crusades; and (2) Stanley Loomis's Paris in the Terror.

A Closer Look (Part 13)

Kaunas, Lithuania, 1928. This is my Dad's twin sister, Jonė, at that children's party. Jonė, about five years old here, already had her impish, innocent expression.

Here's the original post for this photo.

November 20, 2014

Dappled Reunion

Monona, Wisconsin, November 2009. Ghiddi enjoys the camera's attention.

Another Visit

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1966. We've stopped at Logan Pass again.

Wheelie Ban

Venice will fine tourists who drag wheeled suitcases through the city's paved walkways and historic bridges.

"Long-suffering Venetians will be exempt from the new law and will be free to clunk their noisy suitcases up and down the canal banks."

(I would have appreciated a ban against the noisy luggage when I was in law school.)

Related by Marriage: At Home

Marquette Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1958. Mr. Irene's Mom poses with her parents, Stanley and Anna, on the steps of their home.

November 19, 2014

A Fine Yarn

Verona, Wisconsin, November 2014. This is "Belle," a cardigan designed for Rowan by Lisa Richardson. It's one of the lightest and most comfortable garments I've knitted.

*     *     *     *     *

The yarn, "Kidsilk Haze Stripe," is a mohair and silk blend. It's soft and not at all scratchy. I liked the yarn so much, I am knitting the same cardigan again, this time in shade "Chiaroscuro."

Find a friend and enjoy the ride.

Downers Grove, Illinois, February 1962. Cheer up; someone is watching out for you.

The Black Squirrel

High Park, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1960. My Toronto Cousin interacts with a park native.

November 18, 2014

Shared-Space Reunion

Verona, Wisconsin, November 2014. There's room on the Redbud for more than one.

Related by Marriage: November Forest Preserve

Suburban Chicago, November 1958. Mr. Irene's Dad isn't chilly.

Babos Receptai (Part 5)

It's time for a seasonal turn for "Babos Receptai." Lithuanians, like most Europeans, usually don't eat turkey.* A suckling pig, filled with liver stuffing, graces the Christmas table, and Lithuanians often eat roast veal at Easter. Lithuania does not observe Thanksgiving, although over the years, many people asked me what people eat in Lithuania during that holiday (pre-1991 answer: they don't eat to give thanks; they stand in line at the grocery store).

Our family adjusted to the Thanksgiving holiday, and we always served turkey. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, did not, however, stuff the turkey with the moist dressing familiar to the American table. Tatjana instead prepared that liver stuffing intended for the suckling pig. How I hated it as a child! The texture reminded me of a grainy paté,** and I gagged on the taste. I insisted on walking over to my Best Friend's house as soon as our "Thanksgiving meal" had ended so I could enjoy the real offerings of the holiday.

I've now been making Tatjana's liver stuffing for Thanksgiving since 1984. It's our twist on a traditional side dish. But it remains an acquired taste.

Here's Tatjana's recipe for the delicacy:

Here's how I modified and wrote up the recipe:

"A Very Good Stuffing for Chickens or Small Turkeys
(This proportion is enough for a 15-pound turkey.)"

2 cups water, boiling hot
1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms

1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons) butter
2 large onions, chopped (2 cups)
2 medium ribs celery, chopped (2 cups)
3/4 cup Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, minced
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces bacon, diced
8 ounces veal calf's livers (or turkey livers)
8 ounces chicken livers
8 ounces ground veal

1 pound unseasoned bread cubes (part rye bread, if desired)

1/2 cup liquid reserved from soaking mushrooms
2 eggs, beaten to blend
1 cup chicken broth 

1 cup Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, minced

Combine 2 cups boiling water and the dried mushrooms; let stand for about 30 minutes, or until the mushrooms are softened. Drain through a coffee filter, reserving the liquid. Squeeze the mushrooms dry and chop coarsely.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are very tender and translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the vegetables from the skillet to a very large bowl using a slotted spoon. Leave any remaining butter in the skillet. To the bowl, stir in the mushrooms, the 1/2 cup parsley, dried marjoram, dried rosemary, dried thyme, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

In the same skillet, in any remaining butter, sauté the bacon. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and add to the vegetable mixture, leaving about 4 tablespoons of the fat in the pan. Add the veal and chicken livers to the pan and sauté until the livers are almost cooked through. Add the ground veal and sauté for about 3 minutes. Cool.

Transfer the liver mixture to the workbowl of a food processor and process, using the metal blade, until the meats are just ground.  Stir the meats into the vegetable mixture. Mix the bread cubes into the vegetable mixture. (Can be prepared one day ahead to this point. Cover the mixture and refrigerate. Cover and chill the mushroom liquid separately.)

Mix together the beaten eggs and 1/2 cup reserved mushroom liquid; add to the stuffing. Stir in enough chicken broth to moisten.

Generously butter a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker. Transfer the stuffing to the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on "High" setting for 2 hours. Reduce heat to "Low" and cook until heated through, about 2 to 3 hours.

Just before serving, moisten the stuffing with some of the turkey drippings and stir in the remaining 1 cup minced parsley. The slow cooker, turned off, will keep the stuffing at serving temperature for up to 3 hours. 

*A group of American students and ex-pats invited me to a Thanksgiving celebration when I first arrived in Venice in 1983. It was my job to find the turkey. My Italian language skills still were elementary, and I had forgotten my dictionary when I visited the butcher shop. When I arrived at the counter, I tried to explain what I was trying to buy. Exasperated, I said, in Italian, "a big bird!" The butcher nearly laughed me out of the shop.

**The liver stuffing, and a paté, were among the specialties Tatjana prepared when the family lived in Lithuania. The housekeeper was territorial about her kitchen work, and she resented times when Tatjana decided to cook. As family and guests gathered around a holiday table one year, the housekeeper brought the paté—the only dish Tatjana had prepared—to the table. A guest said, "Oh! Paté!" The housekeeper replied, "This isn't paté; it's shit."

November 17, 2014

Cloudy Reunion

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1972. A cloudy sky paints richer shadows.

November Coats

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, about 1949. The women are dressed for the colder weather. Toronto Al's Dad, Vladas, is on the far right. (Additional photos from this day appeared here and here.)

Thanks to Toronto Al for making this photo available to us.

ADDED: My Toronto Cousin reports that the other man is Vladas's Dad.

Kitchen Work

Suburban Chicago, December 1961. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, directs the cleanup with her daughter, Jonė, and my Mom. Mom's the one washing the dishes. (Stills from this day appeared here and here.)

November 15, 2014

Beachcombers' Reunoin

San Francisco, California, April 1968. Wear sensible shoes when you visit the beach.

Winding down during the weekend.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, January 1960. My Dad's twin sister, Jonė, relaxes with her daughter, my Toronto Cousin.

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

I missed my calling.

#15, "Knitter in Residence." It makes sense, if you follow stranded knitting.

Thanks to my friend Nora for calling my attention to this.

A Closer Look (Part 12)

Kaunas, Lithuania, 1928. Here's another example of a child with his "adult face." This is my Dad at the party at which he likely first met my Mom. Whenever Dad showed me this photograph, he noted he was upset at the time because he hated the hat the hostess had assigned to him. People who provoked Dad will recognize this quiet expression of icy contempt and broody warning.

Here's the original post for this photo. Ah! What Dad would have done with digital-photo technology.

November 14, 2014


Door County, Wisconsin, November 1975. It's easier to sleep when it's cold.

The Camera Bag

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1972. That's a heavy thing to carry during a long hike.


River Forest, Illinois, September 1975. A cherished high-school friend visit me this week. She took a day off and drove up from the Chicago area. I had seen her twice in the last thirty-eight years. We picked up as though no time had passed. She brought a photo album filled with some touching snapshots. Among them was this one she took at the "Big Sister/Little Sister" picnic the high school hosted at the beginning of our senior year. We attended a mandatory, outdoor Mass during the picnic. My friend correctly remembered that I disliked going to Mass, and she recalled I was annoyed by the 1970s-ish "cool" Mass trappings. I'm (wearing a bandana and) apparently singing compliantly in this image, but my friend spotted a look of discomfort and skepticism in my brow.

Thanks to my friend Mary for making this photo available to us.