CHUCK SURVIVES AND BONNIE COOKS

Chuck here.  I realize I have been derelict in blogging my experiences of late, but I have never been this busy in my working life.  Keeps me off the streets and out of trouble, but also keeps me from communicating with you.  As a matter of fact, I’m just back from Sunday prepping for Monday, so don’t have a lot of time now, either.  Bonnie will carry on in a paragraph or two.

Nothing new to report on scholastic experiences.  My big concern is the level of writing.  That can’t be quickly fixed, and unfortunately poorly written work takes much longer to grade than better written, irrespective of content.  More time lost!

I always show my econ students how the power of compound interest and astute investments can make their golden years golden.  Three or four approached me about learning more.  So, I said sure, but we couldn’t take any more time in class.  Maybe a get-together in the Old town at the Fat Cat  and they could buy me a red pop or two to show their appreciation.  Something approaching thirty showed up last Monday night, so there goes the red pops.  Not only couldn’t go downtown, but my classroom was too small – had to move to a small auditorium. At least the internet makes it a lot easier to demonstrate this stuff, so no prep required – just another couple hours in the classroom.

I had thought that the Klaipeda area was pretty safe.  Last Sunday, in a fit of saying phooey on prepping, John and I decided to go up the coast a way and see the ice-laden Baltic crash against the coast.  The pictures below show what happened.

Surf’s up.  Frozen, however.   A cold, sleety snow was blowing in.  No polar bears, but John told if the ice gave way and I fell in, I was on my own.  Children are such ingrates!
John mentioned someday we’d have to find abandoned German coastal defenses from WWII.  Looks like we didn’t have to wait..  I’m taking the picture from an abandoned anti-aircraft position.  Inside the one you’re looking at was considerable detritus dating after the late unpleasantness – I’d say the previous Saturday night, judging by the labels.

Uh, Oh! Not quite so abandoned as I thought. This is my official SS interrogation (complete with guest book sign-in.) Not quite sure what to put down. "Nice dungeon you have here, sir. Is that a real machine gun?"

Fortunately, the machine gun was a replica (they said).  Not sure about re-enactors choosing the Wehrmacht.  But, if you are Lithuanian, you have your choice of invaders, and I guess the Germans were the least bad – at least if you were Lithuanian.  Anyway, ten litas sprung me after I easily (too easily) convinced them I knew nothing.

On Friday evening, we had Algis and Lianna as dinner guests.  I served what I thought would be representative of an American company meal for them–marinated flank steak, salad, twice-baked potatoes, a green bean casserole (I had to fry my own onions as they don’t sell those handy little cans of fried onions here) and apple crisp with ice cream for dessert.  They were very curious about how I made everything and had seconds of the potatoes and green beans and Lianna asked for the recipe for the apple crisp.  It made me wonder if they were just being polite but who knows?  I realize because of our dining experiences here that people get accustomed to the tastes of their home and some other dishes can taste too different to be appreciated.  They came bearing gifts–a bottle of wine–rated an 89 by Robert Parker himself– a beautifully decorated cake (shown below), and a nice coffee-table book about Lithuania.

You can see these lovely-looking cakes in all the grocery stores. It is covered with a glaze and is very shiny which doesn't show up in the picture. They suggested we take it to our family meal with John & Rachel tonight so we have not yet tasted it.

Algis and Lianna. Lianna is very attractive in person--this picture doesn't do her justice but is the only one I have.

Once again we were picked up by Algis, this time with his daughter, Gabriella, for a Saturday adventure.  He was embarrassed that two of the churches and a museum he wanted us to see were closed when we got there.  However, we saw a couple of things and had an altogether enjoyable day.  First we drove to Kretinga, just a few kilometers northeast and saw the Church of Annunciation of the Almighty God to Holy Virgin Mary (can you imagine answering the phone there?) and the adjacent monastery.  Of course, during the Soviet years, this was not in use but, thankfully, it was not destroyed and the monks returned in 1989.

Above mentioned church, Girl is Gabriela.

Monastery next to church

Inside church. The modern design of the altar and lectern seemed to clash with the rest of the church.

Painting of St. Anthony of Padua whose relics are buried here.

Replicas of body parts which were healed after prayers. We saw similar things in Ancient Corinth. People would bring little sculpted feet and other parts to the temples to ask for healing.

After the church, we visited the Kretinga Manor, an old mansion set in a lovely park (not so great at this time of year) and with a glassed in conservatory where we had tea and dessert.

Outside of Manor

Algis and Gabriela

Another traditional Lithuanian treat--this is an appetizer and is meat ground up with rice--not bad. A second appetizer--boiled potatoes served with what amounts to pure, very rich butter with LOTS of garlic. You take a potato bite and a big slab of the butter together. Once again I am wondering how these people stay so skinny. I managed to eat a polite amount of this "heart attack on a plate."

The meat for the main course was cooked on hot stones (look carefully to see meat) in this fire pit in the middle of the restaurant.

Last night, Chuck was the wrap-up speaker for a conference here on the serious and escalating  problem of falling birth rates in European countries.  As most of you know, these countries are losing population at an alarming rate.  He gave thoughtful and inspirational remarks which we hope will sink in with at least some of these young people

We are looking forward to next weekend: we will be travelling to Vilnius on the bus Friday evening and John and Rachel, along with the children, will drive over the next day for a couple of days.  We’ll be staying at the same B&B  near to all the sights in Old Town.  We are not sure what we’ll do the rest of the spring break week but hope to get to Riga, Latvia, as well.  We have had to accept the fact that Tallin is just too far for the short time we have available.  Chuck will need to be back by Saturday to grade all the midterms before Monday classes.

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3 thoughts on “CHUCK SURVIVES AND BONNIE COOKS

  1. WOW-You two are having SO MANY unique experiences that you will have to write a book when you return. Also we know that you two will return “slim and trim” as well. We are so glad that you are enjoying your time there, though. It’s hard to believe that you have been there over two months already. Thanks for keeping us up to date. The pictures are great too-you must have a very good camera. I don’t envy you having to grade those semi-illegible papers, though. That truly IS time consuming! (I remember those days well). Take care and enjoy your spring break!

  2. You get a grade of A+ on your report. It’s part of the payment for the privilege of making the trip. Just kidding. I do enjoy your letters. Thanks for taking the time.

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