January 31, 2016

She has two escorts, in Three Takes

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Verona, Wisconsin, January 30, 2016. A doe came by yesterday with two young bucks. I doubt this is our Mama and her twins because those youngsters did not have antlers last week. Perhaps these are last year's offspring.

"We love it here. It is just like living in Lithuania."

The "[m]ost segregated town in the UK."

See also here and here.

January 29, 2016

Back to the USSR

Travel posters from Soviet, government-run travel agency.

Domestic Self-Expression

In communist-era "identical[ ] apartments [designed] to 'put an end to any individualistic inclinations, which were considered as a threat on the ‘new man’ who was not to be encouraged into having opinions of his own'."

I could spend hours looking at stuff like this.

ADDED: On which floor would you be most comfortable? I'd choose the nine-floor apartment (although I bet that portrait of Jesus wasn't on display in 1967). The first-floor flat comes in second for me; I like it because you can see the herring-bone parquet.

Some dance in the modern style.

Chicago, Illinois, August 1975. Guests at an anniversary party hit the dance floor. I believe this event took place at "JC's."

This was a time when women often wore wigs and floor-length dresses to parties.

Happy Call

Suburban Chicago, January 1977. Mom does not seem to be engaged here in a work-related call. The throw pillow features Lithuanian motifs; the mother of my friend Ron made it for Mom (Ron's Mom also made the best Cepelinai I've tasted). The watercolor is by Murinas.

Here's the pillow today:

If you don't like it, then consider a Russian proverb: "In taste and colors, there are no friends." That's what I tell a friend each time I start (another) beige sweater.

January 27, 2016

Pink-Sky Reunion

Verona, Wisconsin, January 26, 2016. The fresh snowfall looked clean for a while.


Google solves the game.

(Recall I used to play Go.)

The Life Box (Part 28)

I used to sew many of clothes. It seemed like everyone sewed in the 1970s. It was easy to find fashionable patterns, and there was a fabric store in nearly every shopping mall. Mom and I sewed the ensembles we wore during our European vacation, and I later sewed the garments I packed for my trip to Stuttgart. I think I sewed every bridesmaid gown I wore. Oh golly, I once even sewed a swimsuit.

I saved many of the sewing patterns I used. I was looking today for the pattern for my senior-prom dress, but I could not find it. It was a wraparound halter dress that I made in a silver fabric. I intended to show the pattern to Mom because I wondered if she'd now think the dress was too risqué. It didn't seem daring in 1975 or 1976. (This is not the pattern, but it is very close to it.)

I did find several other patterns from that era, so I wonder if I didn't lend the wraparound halter-dress pattern to someone. I recall I went through a "Cossack phase" during which I sewed many billowy blouses and dresses. I still have those patterns. Here's one:

I made a grey blouse out of the pattern, and I sewed a pink and grey bias-plaid, A-line skirt to match.

I even wore that outfit to a school dance:

Suburban Chicago, January 1975. Dad catches me before the party.

Federalism contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Said Putin
Putin was particularly critical of Lenin’s concept of a federative state with its entities having the right to secede, saying it has heavily contributed to the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. He added that Lenin was wrong in a dispute with Joseph Stalin, who advocated a unitary state model.
(P.S. Stalin is back in fashion.)

January 26, 2016

"The statues were covered to spare Rouhani's blushes."

Rome authorities cover nude statues during Iranian president's visit.

"As well as censoring the private parts of Roman gods and goddesses wine was also banned from official receptions in order to not offend their guests."


Verona, Wisconsin, January 2016. The fox still visits the yard (we assume the fox is a female).

This morning a bald eagle flew over the backyard, but I didn't get a good snapshot. I'd never seen an eagle here. The only time I've spotted one in this area was a few weeks ago. It was near the road in a cornfield (for locals: on PD near M, across the street from the golf course) nibbling on a deer carcass. I was driving and said to myself, "Oh, look. Someone has put one of those bald eagle carvings in the field." And then the eagle moved.

Related by Marriage: Too young for cake.

Suburban Chicago, January 1960. Mr. Irene's maternal Grandfather Stanley, his maternal Aunt Martha, and his Mom celebrate Mr. Irene's first birthday. There's a plate of Košeliena on the table: icky! That's one of the few foods I won't eat (the others are: poppy seed roll, grapefruit, and coconut. I also hate gin.)

"Affection for the Baltic states is common among Russians of a certain age, a legacy largely of the Soviet Union."

Why some Russians seek exile in the Baltic States.

January 25, 2016

We wake up after a late-afternoon nap.

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Verona, Wisconsin, January 24, 2016. The doe and the twins are ready for their evening patrols.

A Closer Look (Part 59)

Southwestern Lithuania, about 1912. This is Mr. Irene's Great-Grandfather Jacob.

Here's the original post.

January 23, 2016

Winter Walk

Door County, Wisconsin, December 1979. Gigi keeps an eye on her favorite human—my Dad.

The German Minister's Villa

Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1926 or 1927. This is the villa occupied by the German Minister (here's the doggie). The American Consul to Lithuania wrote: 

[September 19, 1926] "At the top of the so-called green hill, where there is a fine view of Kovno, we saw the home of the German minister. It is a detachable wooden house brought from Germany. As there is a great scarcity of apartments here and it is only now that a start has been made in erecting modern and sanitary buildings, the Germans solved their housing problem in a very practical manner—they brought their house with them."

[Otober 25, 1926] "At noon, I returned the German minister's call and this afternoon he [Minister Moraht] and Mrs. Moraht called on us. They are pleasant people and we hope to see much of them."

[October 30, 1926] "From [there], we went to the German Minister's house, which is also on the 'green hill.' It is small and has an unfinished appearance inside because the walls are not papered. The walls and ceilings are of wood painted a dark brown, but there may be rooms with more cheerful colors. Mrs. Moraht said that they have ordered another room which will be sent from Germany in pieces and set up by German workmen who will come for that purpose."

[February 5, 1927] "This evening we had dinner with the Morahts at their villa on the green hill, this being the first party they have given since the house was enlarged and their furniture installed. It is nicely furnished with some fine old furniture and a number of beautiful oriental rugs. The dinner was rather elaborate, beginning with caviar on toast and ending with ice cream. They served excellent German wines and champagne. The cognac, dated 1830, was also German. At about midnight we went to the Hotel Metropole where there was a ball. The place was crowded and everybody seemed to be in good spirits. Mr. Moraht took the party to the Metropole (It took two trips). Mr. Moraht took us home in his car at three o'clock. It was a pleasant and interesting evening."
Thanks to the Consul's granddaughter for making this photo and narrative available to us.

January 20, 2016

National Cheese Lovers Day

It's "National Cheese Lovers Day:" another made-up "holiday." Every day is cheese-lovers day around here.  Coincidentally, we're having Macaroni and Cheese for dinner.

Here's our favorite recipe for Macaroni and Cheese. We like the recipe because it doesn't call for precooking the pasta or making a white sauce. It's a recipe we adapted from this one.

Easy Macaroni and Cheese 

1 tablespoon butter

6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese (do not used aged Cheddar because it is too oily, and it will separate)
3 ounces Colby cheese
1 ounce Gruyère cheese
1 ounce Emmentaler or Swiss cheese
1 ounce Grand Cru® cheese (here, too)

2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/16 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/16 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt (use more or less, depending on how salty the cheese is)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup full-fat cottage cheese
4 ounces Velvetta cheese, diced into chunks

8 ounces elbow pasta or medium shells pasta, uncooked

4 ounces reserved cheese mixture (see below)
Additional 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Use the 1 tablespoon butter to grease an 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

In the workbowl of a food processor with the grating disk in place, grate the Cheddar, Colby, Gruyère, Emmentaler, and Grand Cru® cheeses. Transfer grated cheeses to a large bowl. Mix cheeses together and set aside 4 ounces (1 cup) for the topping. (There is no need to wash the workbowl yet.)

In another large bowl, combine the milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, paprika, salt, and pepper.

In the food processor, with the metal blade in place, purée the cottage cheese and the Velvetta cheese cubes. Transfer the puréed mixture to the bowl with the milk and seasonings. Using a wire whisk, stir the mixture well until the cottage cheese and Velvetta are thoroughly incorporated into the milk. 

Add the grated cheeses to the milk mixture and whisk again. Stir the uncooked pasta into the mixture. (Can be prepared ahead to this point; cover and refrigerate.)

Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 35 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees. Uncover the baking dish and stir the mixture. Sprinkle the mixture with the remaining 4 ounces (1 cup) grated cheeses. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter evenly over the cheese. Return the baking dish, now uncovered, to the oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbly. Remove from oven and let casserole rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

ADDED: Do not use packaged, pre-shredded cheeses. Pre-shredded cheeses contain coatings (stabilizers and starches) that affect the texture and taste of this dish.

Related Reunion

Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, December 2015. This is Mary Kay. She's the dog that ties our pack together. Mary Kay is Baci's and Rex's older Sister. She also is Poppy's Mother.

CORRECTION: This poodle is not Mary Kay. It's Buffy, another relation. Buffy is Baci's and Rex's older half-sister. Sorry Buffy!!

Biting my Lip

Bulger Park, Veterans Park District, Melrose Park, Illinois, Autumn 1965. I appear nervous about this recitation.

Check out the jukebox.

January 15, 2016

A Pattern Gem

Verona, Wisconsin, January 2016. The pattern for this sweater has been in my queue for over 30 years. Knitters will recognize it as a Penny Straker design (see pullover here; I plan to knit that for Mr. Irene out of this wool, in color "Blue Lagoon"). I worked the cardigan in Blackberry Ridge's Medium-Weight, Mohair-Blend Yarn, color "Light Gray." That's my favorite worsted wool.

The amazing buttons are carved from reclaimed walrus (I think; could be some other arctic beast) tusks. My Toronto Cousin bought the buttons for me during her trip to Alaska. Score!! Here's a closer look at the buttons:

Winter break ends.

Evanston, Illinois, January 1977. It's move-back weekend.

January 14, 2016


Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1968. The dead tree is a good perch.

Religion Class

River Forest, Illinois, January 13, 1976. Religion classes were mandatory at my high school. Few of us took the classes seriously, and we usually tried to find a course that wasn't very "religiony." This photo is from one of those classes, Marriage Class.

The requirement that students wear uniforms did not mute self-expression.

Twin Peaks, in Stitches

"A Ranking of All 118 Sweaters Seen on Twin Peaks."

I watched the show when I lived in South Carolina, but I didn't pay attention to the sweaters then. My top picks are #80, #68, and #60.

January 13, 2016

Touristy Reunion

Capri, May 1984. Don't let the temptation of swimming in the Blue Grotto lure you to the island.

A Knitted Suit from the 1980s

Columbia, South Carolina, November 13, 1988. I used to knit suits, too (okay, this is a two-piece dress). The sleeves are not Dolman sleeves—I never liked those batwings—but they are wide. I knitted this in Lana Borgosesia's Hilton yarn. I worked the yarn at 7 stitches to the inch: knitters know this is a fine (to some, tedious) gauge.

I loved this garment. It's knitted in my favorite color! I wore it when I taught, and I wore it for special occasions. And . . .  I still have it:

January 12, 2016

Fresh Reunion

Verona, Wisconsin, February 2011. The tracks soon will appear.

Related by Marriage: Stars in his Eyes

Evanston, Illinois, about 1980. That's how the friend who sent this photo described Mr. Irene's expression. Mr. Irene, who does not remember the snapshot, thinks he looks like he is wearing a straight jacket.

January 11, 2016

Cold Snap

Verona, Wisconsin, January 2008. I'm rarely awake early enough to see the sun rise.