Saturday, August 20, 2005

Dinner at Vile’s

We arrive back at the apartment about 30 minutes or so before Vaidas is to pick us up for dinner at Vile’s (Vee La). You may recall from an earlier post that Vaidas is married to Vile’s daughter Rasa. They are a young couple currently living in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. By the way – I have some information links on Kaunas and Vilnius posted to the right of this Blog – check them out! Rasa works for a company that produces beautiful crystal glass – items that are sold for thousands of dollars, I don’t remember the name – I will for a later post. Vaidas is a PR consultant with his own business. He is currently in start-up mode with three full time client’s and two more part-time clients.

Thinking we have a good 30 minutes – we all crash on the couches and swear to just close our eyes for a few minutes. 1 hour, 45 minutes later we start awake and realize that we have not been picked up yet! So here we are sleepy eyed, bewildered and wondering if we have our schedules correct when the phone rings. It is Rasa letting us know that Vaidas has had car trouble and is now on his way. Another 30 minutes pass until he finally arrives. Visibly frustrated, Vaidas is rather quite on the ride to Vile’s. I must interject here that they (Rasa & Vaidas) have just returned from a disappointing vacation at the Baltic Sea. The weather was a bit cool for them and a major storm passed through while they were there. They are also preparing to head for Switzerland later in the week for the rest of their holiday so they are also bogged down with last minute details.

We arrive at Vile’s to find a large construction truck parked in the driveway. Unlike most of the relatives, Vile & Edmundas have a very nice home that they share with their oldest son Linas and his family. Linas is in the process of building a home and expects to be done next spring. He has been working on this home for the past three years – doing most of the major work on his own. Quite a feat when you really think about it. Things have sped up recently as they now have the ability to get a mortgage for the remaining material and labor. Until just recently they did not even know what a mortgage was – more to thank for because they have joined the European Union.

In either case, Vile & Edmundas are having new windows put in – and while the workers were supposed to be gone by 2:00 PM – they were apparently delayed and now at nearly 7:00 PM are still working. Unlike their American, unionized counterparts – they stay until the job is completed. No returning the next day to finish up in this country.

Their house is two stories. Linas and his family live on the first floor with Vile and Edmundas upstairs. Entering in from the staircase immediately to the left is the master bedroom – inside construction workers are busy placing a new window casing into the bare sill. Next to the bedroom is the living room/dining room, not unlike what every other apartment has. Across from the living/dining room is the bathroom/toilet. They actually have a very beautiful stand-up shower that is tiled and quite modern. Next to the bathroom is the small kitchen. Next to the living/dining room is another bedroom that they have converted to a TV/Computer room. It is there that Linas’s oldest daughter Eve is playing games. Then, finally, next to the TV/Computer room is a small sunroom that has a staircase down to the lovely, lush backyard. More on that later.

The house itself is very tastefully and traditionally decorated. Vile has a very soft touch and the color schemes tend to be more muted. Browns, tans and crèmes are the call for the day. Traditional Lithuanian art and pictures adorn the walls and shelves. But she also has modern touches built in – a DSL line for the computer as well as a DVD player with the TV. All in all a very comfortable and inviting home.

Vile is running around trying to get the workers out the door, the food on the table and her guests welcomed. Rasa is looking rather frustrated and Edmundas is handing out beer! Linas’s girls are running around and now we are thrown into the mix – it is something of a fun, warm and inviting three ring circus. Vile is ever the picture of grace under fire – smiling, laughing and bringing food to the table. At one point she makes up two plates for the workers and soon they are enjoying the same Sislykai (Shish Link A) that we are about to dig into. Sislykai is basically Shish-ka-bob Lithuanian style. Tender marinated pieces of pork neck, pork rib with onion, mushrooms, and tomatoes grilled to perfection. It is a mouthwatering treat and especially good the next day!

Lithuania is about three things – family, food and drink. When all three are together it is a blast! Picture a small room, about the size of a bigger office basically, filled with people and food. Shoulder to shoulder – plates overlapping on the table – drinks clinking together as they sit sweating on the table (no ice, remember). The room is alive with laughter and conversation. For us this is the best family to be with – they speak English for the most part and they are ever accommodating to our needs. Soon the desserts begin to flow – fresh pastries and ice cream smothered in recently picked strawberries and raspberries. We are busting at the seams by this point!

Soon Edmundas is pulling out a large Turkish water pipe to smoke. Looking a bit like a water bong – the Turkish water pipe is ornately decorated. It stands about two or three feet tall – the base a bulb of water flowing upwards into a slim neck that has two valves below a metal pad with an oblong, aluminum cover (the type you might find on an incense burner). The first of the two valves is attached to a long hose with a mouthpiece on the end. The second valve is used to release pressure and to force out any build up of the toxins filtered through the water. They are convinced that this is a healthy exercise and not harmful at all. I argue, fruitlessly, that you are smoking a tobacco – taking in carcinogens that do harm your lungs. I’m told, emphatically, that it is not a tobacco but a paste made of various things. For example tonight they are smoking an apple smelling paste. Before long they even have me doing it! The trick is to inhale as deep as you can and blow the smoke out through your nostrils. The thicker the double streams issuing from your nose the better job that you have done! It takes me several attempts to accomplish this task as I am always hacking up my right lung! Lisa on the other hand is an old pro rather quickly and she receives thunderous applause for her efforts.

Despite the claim of healthiness – we are soon getting dizzy – if not from the smoke, then from the deep inhaling and slow exhaling. While we are all taking a break – sipping on some homemade Black Currant wine – Migla sneaks a pull on the pipe to see what all of the fuss is about and Linas quickly snatches her up to take her to bed – we are all practically on the floor laughing. It will be a good sleep tonight!

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