Sunday, August 14, 2005

Dinner At Milda’s

Being here means having to give up a lot of freedom. Let me explain that – first and foremost we are at the mercy of whom ever our translator is – in most cases that is Lisa’s father, who does a great job of translating but we are also aware that he enjoys just turning himself lose in our conversation – so we try not to ask what is being said if we can’t get it form someone else. That being said – it is worthwhile to note that a majority of the young folks speak English or are learning – so in most cases we have a handy translator besides Lisa’s father.

The other freedom is movement. To get to and from where we want, we have to rely on the goodness of the family and their transportation. For the most every one is amiable and volunteers themselves up quite readily (or their kids up for that matter!).

We now find ourselves waiting for Saulius to come pick us up to go to Milda’s, his mother, house. Milda does not live far from our current base of operations so it is a quick ride – even quicker with the Lithuanian version of Speed Racer behind the wheel.

Some background on Milda – she has spent the last three years of her life in the States working as a caregiver to earn money. Bear in mind that he original Visa was a travel one and only good for 6 months! This means that she can never return to the United States again – but when you visit her house you can see how it has paid off. When they started – the house was something of a wreck. The walls we full of dry rot, the windows and roof barley held the rain out and everyone told her it was a mistake to by it – but Milda had a vision and wanted to see it through. So while she toiled in America, acting as a live in care giver for a woman with Alzheimer’s – giving baths, changing diapers, feeding, keeping company – basically on call 24 hours a day – she would send every penny back to her son who would then invest it back into the home.

Basically they built a brick frame around the dying wooden structure – once which was complete – they gutted the inside and started all over. The entire configuration of the interior was re-written in Milda’s vision. From a decrepit, almost ready for destruction house to a beautiful home in less than three years is quite an accomplishment!

When you pull into her driveway, built of interlocking paver bricks, you are immediately struck by the unique siding on the house. It is actually sprayed on concrete that is painted. The prayed concrete gives a very unique texture that is much nicer than the standard stucco that we have in the United States. The color is complete unique as well and screams out Milda (who is something of a free spirit – at least in my eyes). It is not quite as lime green as you might think – but more of pastel lime green. It looks much better than it sounds and if we have more time – we will take some pictures to post. Inside the floors are oak as well as the beautiful staircase that winds it way up towards the second floor. As you stand in the door to your right is the kitchen – tastefully decorated in soft purples with stainless appliances and marbled tile floor. Like most kitchens in Lithuania it is small as you do not normally eat in them. Located off the back of the kitchen is the master bedroom occupied by Milda. A good size room that seems to have a bit of Oriental flair to it. The master bed – a queen size I think – is located close to the floor – as most are I’ve noted. The bathroom is also located to the immediate right – a huge soak tub takes up the majority of the space in the blue room. In front – slightly off to the right – is the blond oak stair case that winds it’s way to the second floor – an open air staircase (that is you can see straight though) it is a nice modern touch in this very old European country. If you walk straight from the front door – you will walk into a very tastefully decorated front room/living room/dining room, as in all cases with most Lithuanian homes – the front room does double as well as triple duty. The walls are a soft peach color and the room itself is inviting. It is here that we will eat, talk, drink and gather!

Going up the oak stairs you are struck by the openness and light from the skylight in the center of what is a loft office are. There are two more rooms up her – one for Saulius and his fiancée and a spare room that is being made into a media room. All of the rooms have these wonderful light fixtures the likes that I have never seen before. They all smack of creativity! For example, within Saulius’s room, the lights in the ceiling track in a lazy curve – with white twinkle lights embedded into the ceiling, giving a starry effect to the room. Tasteful cans provide the main lights for the room. In the loft area, hidden rope lights give off soft pink hues across the ceiling. All in all the lighting is used to not only shed illumination but to provoke a feeling as well.

After the tour – we adjourn downstairs to start dinner. As with most meals in Lithuania – rice is on the menu. Now you would think we would be treated to local cuisine – but in most cases so far in the trip – we have been treated with fairly “American” food. In this case we had these wonderful, marinated pork chops (of which I had two I must confess). As it turns out – Milda wanted us over for dinner on Sunday and when those plans did not bear fruit – the pork chops ended up being marinated for an extra day – and by my judgment it did them no harm at all!! Of course Vile, her husband Edmundas, and their grand-daughter Migla were there. (Milda and Vila do virtually everything together you cannot see one without the other, which is very nice.) So the drinking began early – starting out with two home brews, from Milda we have sweet black currant liquor and from Milda a raspberry currant brew – after trying both, Vile teasingly asks me which is better – to which I reply: BOTH!

Dessert is a tasty array of wild strawberries (which are a quarter the size of strawberries and grow on a tree), watermelon, a fruit cake and ice cream. Being the polite guest and foreigner – I try every delicious morsel!

Milda is a wonderful host and we end up staying well beyond our planned time.

Saulius, however, left early to go eel fishing. Now while that might not sound too strange – here is the story. Saulius is a diver and enjoys spear-fishing, so he has an opportunity to go spear-fishing with a friend for eel at night. Again, not too strange. The strange part is that they are going eel fishing in a gaming preserve, illegally – not only which, the father of Saulius’ friend is the GAME WARDEN at the preserve they are going to! He is going to let them in! As it turns out – they catch three and they are smoking as I write this!

I mentioned Migla earlier – she is the youngest daughter of Linas, son of Milda and Edmundas. She is a very energetic three year who took a bit of time to warm up to us as the strangers in the house. After about twenty minutes or so of coaxing, she and I become best friends! We play catch me as she tries to sneak around my chair and at one point – while sitting on my lap pulling my beard – she launches into a litany of Lithuanian of which, of course, I do not understand. So instead I raise my eyebrows at the correct points, shake my head and tell her “Yes!?!” as if I know what she is saying and she continues on! At one point, she grabs Lisa by the hand and chides: “Tata (Auntie), come play with me!” In Lithuanian of course. So they disappear into another room that now drips with giggles and screams of delight.

As I mentioned before – I will try and post some photos as soon as I get caught up. It is now getting late – so I will end this post for now and continue tomorrow and try to get caught up as quickly as possible.

Suffice to say – a great time was had by all. Milda was a lovely hostess!

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