April 29, 2015

Infinity Reunion

Dodgeville, Wisconsin, April 2012. We've stepped into the "Infinity Room" at the House on the Rock.

A Look Inside the Student Booklet

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Kaunas, Lithuania, 1940 to 1944. Here's the booklet my Dad's twin sister, Jonė, carried through medical and later dental school. The second column lists the university subject (example: "Fizika" is "Physics"). The third column states the number of hours spent on each subject during the week. The fourth and fifth columns present the professors' names and signatures for each subject. The sixth column provides the date the work (what we consider "credits," I think) was completed. The last column lists the date of the subjects' examinations, the grades (example: "l. gerai" is "very good"), and the professors' signatures.

A Small Party

Hanau, Germany 1945. Lithuanian Displaced Persons at the Hanau camp host a children's party. My friend Nijole is the girl standing on the left. Her Mother holds her (her Mom also appears in this photo, sitting on the sofa behind my Mom).

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

"[I]t's got knitting and crochet patterns so you can re-create the look yourself."

It = the book, Cats in Hats.

April 27, 2015

We talk about the goose ...

... in Lithuanian:

Verona, Wisconsin, April 25, 2015. I say, "That goose is a problem." I hear my American accent when I listen to myself speak in Lithuanian.

Party Favors

Suburban Chicago, April 1961. My babysitter does a head count of the guests; she then helps my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, prepare the party treats. I move from the kitchen into the living room to play with the toy piano and my friend's Slyvester-the-Cat doll.

Tatjana quickly adopted the American custom of birthday parties (in Lithuania, people celebrate name days, not birthdays). This clip also offers a glimpse of our dependable refrigerator, and it captures Tatjana tearing off sheets of waxed paper. She always relied on waxed paper. Waxed paper! Who uses that now? It was never really functional.

Oh: that vase with the carnations. It's still in use. 

A Recovered Image

My Mom's friend Joy sent this photo in the early 1990s.

Kaunas, Lithuania, 1923. This is my Mom.

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 On the back of the photo, Joy wrote:
 Dearest [Irene's Mom],
This is you!

This photo is historical. It was with me in Siberia in my photo album. It endured all of our sufferings along the shores of the Laptev Sea. It was there for all 17 years of the deportation. Then the photo returned with me to Lithuania in 1958, and now it is in America! 1991.

April 24, 2015

She checks the eggs again.

Verona, Wisconsin, April 2015. Mama Crane continues her routine.


Toronto, Ontario, Canada, July 1964. My Toronto Cousin is ready to make a Sunday social callhttp://amberreunion.blogspot.com/2012/10/were-invited-to-afternoon-coffee-party.html.

"She wanted students to see it all."

My beloved high school English teacher, Sister Angele, died last week. Some of the reflections at her wake stirred up memories. 

Although I don't share Sister Angele's love of travel, touring Greece with her was a great experience. She was a tolerant chaperone who left us on a long leash as we explored Greece and Turkey. We dodged serious trouble a couple of times. Our group also avoided some of our responsibilities. For instance, we all carried assignments overseas because we had homework. I was supposed to read Vanity Fair during that trip expressly for Sister Angele's class. I started reading the book on the plane ride home.

When we returned to school, Sister Angele pulled me aside into the hallway outside of her classroom. She warned me not to detail our "escapades" to classmates. Sister Angele's message and tone were stern, but her head posture and glint conveyed an appreciation of the mischief.

Santorini, Greece, April 1976. Sister Angele is the teacher who required us to memorize and recite the prologue to Canterbury Tales in Middle English. She taught me not to fear public speaking, and she introduced me to the study of the Middle Ages. She thereby started two threads that ran through my life.

April 23, 2015

The First View

Athens, Greece, April 1976. This was my first photo of Athens as we rode the bus from the airport to the hotel.

Related by Marriage: The Fort

Fort Popham, Phippsburg, Maine, 1953. A friend of Mr. Irene's Dad visits a landmark.

Think Big.

River Forest, Illinois, November 1975. Here's another image from my stint as a high-school yearbook photographer. I took this in the office of the school's library. You likely notice the card catalog and typewriter. Did you see the film-strip canisters?

April 22, 2015

Dramatic Reunion

Verona, Wisconsin, April 22, 2015. A long-haired cat lurked around the pond this afternoon. Mama Crane grew rattled. And we had snow flurries.

(You can see the eggs during a few scenes here.)

An Old Friend

Kaunas, Lithuania, May 7, 1944. This fellow must have been a close friend of my Dad: when the friend wrote a note on the back of this photo, he addressed my Dad as "the little sparrow."

Neither this couple nor Dad predicted their lives would be disrupted in about two months.


Suburban Chicago, December 1983. My Mom's best friend, Donna, appreciates Meškė.

April 21, 2015

Side-Street Reunion

Athens, Greece, April 1976. There's not much to do here.


Suburban Chicago, June 1960. I remember my Parents received that whirligig as a housewarming gift. It frightened me. I wasn't afraid of getting knocked in the head by it. Instead, the sharp edges spooked me.

A Closer Look (Part 30)

Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1923. My maternal Grandmother Jadzė lost one of the earrings she wears in this photo. The earring fell down the same well into which her bracelet tumbled.

Here's the original post.

April 20, 2015

April 19, 2015

Turning the Eggs, in Three* Takes

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Verona, Wisconsin, April 2105. Mama Crane does this several times a day.

Then she sits down:

*Plus one.


Suburban Chicago, April 1958. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, oversees the party.

Related by Marriage: Thanks for the Big Bear

Los Angeles, California, about 1960. Mr. Irene's Los Angeles Cousin enjoys her new bear. (There's a copy of "Draugas" on the end of the couch.)

April 15, 2015

A Closer Look (Part 29)

I took a closer look last night at the first photo I had used in yesterday's crane post. I saw two eggs resting in Mama Crane's nest. Yes, the quality of the image deteriorated as I zoomed in on the photo, but perhaps you will see the eggs, too:

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Here are two more shots:

 Verona, Wisconsin, April 2015. We hope to see chicks in about a month.

A Different Angle

Russian Soviet Socialist Republic, June 6, 1969. Elena, one of the two younger sisters of my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, writes, "To Tanjusha, my dear sister."

This photo was one of three publicity shots Elena sent to Tatjana.

Thanks to my friend D for translating the text from Russian to English.

Babos Receptai (Part 8)

My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, sometimes added other people's recipes to her collection. She received a recipe for "Karališkas Mazurkas" (Royal Mazurka) from a friend; that recipe became a regular feature of our family's Easter menu.

Poles commonly bake Mazurkas, but I've not seen a recipe similar to this one.

Here is our version of the recipe (Note: My Mom later wrote "5 eggs, 1/4 pound butter, 3 cups flour, 2 cups sugar" in the margin): 

Karališkas Mazurkas

8 ounces (1-3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder*

8 ounces (1 cup, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (my addition)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (my addition)

5 eggs

3 ounces (3/4 cup) blanched, slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust rack to the center position. Generously butter a 9 x 9-inch square baking pan (reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees if using a glass pan). Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the sugar very slowly, beating mixture until it is very thick and pale yellow, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract and the almond extract. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. (Mixture may appear curdled at this point; that is okay.)

Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, gently fold in the dry ingredients (do not overmix or the cake will be dry). Fold in the blanched, slivered almonds. 

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for about 33 to 37 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  

Cool in the pan and slice into squares. 

*A later version uses 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, instead.

April 14, 2015

He takes off.

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Verona, Wisconsin, April 2015. We've seen Papa Crane land near the pond; here he flies off for his afternoon rounds.