Monday, November 13, 2006

My Summer Vacation

Remember when summer vacations used to be 3 glorious months long??

Well now they're a meager 2 weeks, so you have to choose and plan them meticulously. I think I did pretty well with a few days in Lithuania plus my whirlwind Lithuanian bus tour of Italy!

Italy is gorgeous, delicious, and unflinchingly Italian. The houses dotting the rolling hills are standardized down to the shade of red/brown they can be, to maintain the landscape's Italian flavor. Rampant fields of sunflowers, vineyards, lone church steeples, ruins, gorgeous and stylish Italian folk (atop the ubiquitous vespa), and oh the food...

Don't even get me started on the Sistine Chapel - it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, and so overwhelming that it brought me to tears. The sheer amount of content you are faced with is too much to comprehend at once. I now refer to anything uber breathtaking as eliciting the Sistine Chapel Effect.

My mom and I flew into the tiny airport in Rijeka, Croatia, and proceded to visit Florence, Pisa, Siena, Rome, Vatican City, Pompei, Naples, Burano, Murano, Venice, and Opatija, Croatia.

Italy was spectacular - and seeing it through the eyes of a budget Lithuanian bus tour - priceless. My mom and I endured EIGHT days on a bus, driven by our trusty Hercules (or whatever the strapping young Croatian man's unpronounceable name was), probably the safest bus driver in the world. It was a pleasant surprise!

The trip was delightful and sublime, and we saw just about all our minds and eyes could absorb.
More details to come!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New York's Biggest Block Party

I noticed some hubub today around the guggenheim museum as I left work, and my street was blocked off, so I decided it must be interesing and went to check it out. Live music every few feet, artists on display, chalk drawings completely obscuring fifth avenue along the entire stretch of museum mile. I saw a guy juggle fire, then juggle 3 batons...while balancing an upside down unicycle on his chin. He also then climbed onto the unicycle, and juggled a fire baton, a sword, and an apple while riding around. Apparently I had stumbled onto the Museum Mile Festival and it was fantastic!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

OOoooo Shiny and New

I'm back. Sporting a shiny new beautiful laptop. It's lovely.

Otherwise, it rained all day today, and I had a mini umbrella incident. Well, it was more like 2 incidents in one. So..I was just walking - minding my own business - when my umbrella accidentally, suddenly and simultaneously became entwined with TWO other umbrellas. As the three of us little ladies were wrestling our respective umbrellas, they themselves, in turn, were wrestling 2 other umbrellas. I thought this was a pretty hilarious spectacle. The other participants were not amused. I'm sure that anyone that knows me would assume it was my fault. They would probably be correct.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Vineyards in Alaska

Yeah, there are some! I am embarking on a cross country journey now that I'm newly unemployed, so what better way to spend the free time than going out on the road...

I'm tagging along with (mooching of off) my friend Autumn on her drive out to Portland, Oregon, soon to be her new home (and home to 2 of our other friends from college, Kate and Pam). We plan on covering over 3,000 miles. That's almost 3 times the distance from Vilnius, Lithuania to Paris, France. Boy is Europe tiny.

We will be traversing 11 states in our travels, those being New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Oregon! And of course, we will be seeing the magnificent and majestic (so I hear) Pacific Ocean...they're just going to have to try and stop me from jumping right in there. Well, ok maybe not, it is winter.

While looking up things to do in corn-field abundant Nebraska (there are as few attractions as you would imagine), I discovered that Nebraska has wineries...SCORE! This made me curious....so I looked into wine production in the US and apparently every single state in the US has vineyards. Even Alaska and North Dakota! What a country, eh?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Scooty Pants

What are scooty pants you ask? Well, see for yourself. Scooty pants are quite possibly the most interesting thing I've ever seen.

I also would like the world to know that I looked up the word "doodle" in the dictionary, and one of its definitions is: to make a doodle. I looked it up because I learned of a breed of dog that is a cross between a dachshund and a poodle--a doodle. I think that might be the cutest puppy I've ever seen. Though I say that about pretty much every puppy I have ever seen, so....

I just recounted this story in an email, and realized it was prime blog material:

The other night I was with my roommate in her car (she was driving), and we had just picked up our friends in a part of Brooklyn she doesn't usually drive in. We're driving, and my roommate suddenly realizes that we are in the middle of an intersection, with 2 options, going straight, or turning left. The problem is, we don't know where we're going, and we think we need to make a right. Going straight would take us over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan.

So, she cuts off 3 lanes of traffic to make an illegal right turn, warranting a shower of honking from all angles. Naturally, there is a police van parked in the median on the street we turned down, so he turns on his flashers and sirens. Of course, we assume its not meant for us, at which point the officer steps into the middle of the street in front of us, waving his arms wildly, motioning for us to pull over. Crap!

So, we pull over, and the guy is like, you can't make a right turn there. And my roommate, in rare form, says, "Oh really? I didn't know!" The guy goes, well, there are signs clearly saying no right turn. Christina, almost in tears, voice shaking says, "But officer, we're lost and I've never droven over here before!" The guy looks at her license, verifies this, points us in the right direction and tells us to be more careful. We barely had the windows rolled up before everyone started cracking up, and the use of the word "droven" will never be lived down....

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Turkey Day in the Motherland

You've had the hotel next door cook three turkeys for you, you've borrowed 100 wine glasses, there are still 7 side dishes to prepare, 40 guests are due to arrive in 20 minutes for your Thanksgiving/Housewarming party, and your power goes out. How my mother's head didn't explode at this point I really don't know. I calmly lit a candle and continued to chop cucumbers. Fortunately Darius apparently picked up some tricks during his wayward youth and picked the lock to the fuse box, and was certainly hero of the hour. It was a fantastic party, and fun to explain to the Lithuanians what yams, Stove Top stuffing, string beans, and pumpkin pie were. The sweet potatoes garnered the most interesting reactions. Most people thought they were mashed carrots. One guess was mashed potatoes mixed with carrot juice.

In a nutshell, me, Darius and my Dad popped over to Vilnius to celebrate turkey day with my mom and her fabulous new apartment. 24 hours before we had arrived, there was not yet a floor, and it took about 6 months for the renovations to finally be completed. Her workmen, are, how shall we say, not the most highly motivated of individuals.

Interestingly, my mom starts asking me these questions:
"When you guys had your plumber over...about how old was he?"
"And, like what did he kind of look like?"
"MMhm, I thought so."
"Vaiva I think I have the same one-eyed plumber who worked on your apartment"

Ridiculous.

It was a splendid time, but WAY too short of a trip...we managed to go to the theater, the ballet, Aras' place in Reise complete with pirtis (sauna), and of course a range of the new and old hangouts/restaurants/watering holes.

So many things have changed in Vilnius since I was there last in the summer of 2003! My old apartment looks like it hasn't changed from the outside. I would imagine any renovations would have resulted in the removal of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) sticker in the window. My old street, Ausros Vartu, is now almost entirely made up of the ubiquitous "Shop of Amber". Very classy.

Sadly SoHo baras, the old haunt of choice, is a goner...replaced by a sterile wine bar with no character whatsoever. But, happily, there is a place we ate at called "Grasas" that has astroturf on the wall with plastic flowers gowing out sideways. Pretty awesome. To those who doubt that Vilnius has changed, let it be known that there is a salad bar in Vilnius. Where the key ingredient in the salads is not mayonnaise but rather lettuce. It was a little overwhelming.

I managed to get in the traditional staples: koldunai (meat-filled dumplings covered with sour cream and bacon), cepelinai (meat-filled potato "zeppelins" covered with sour cream and bacon), barsciai (beet soup with bacon), and of course, the lovely and amazing Svyturys, my favorite Lithuanian beer.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Have you ever heard a mouse cry?

Well, I have. And its quite as horrifying as it sounds. So we had a little pepino problem. I say had because it seems that the $150 sharper image "mouse mover" system my roommate purchased is doing the trick in sending those pepinos back to their origin. my roommate scares easily, and is not tolerant of any sort of rodent life--she has a fear of butter, so you can imagine how she feels about mice.

It seems that my $3 glue traps smeared with peanut butter weren't really doing the trick, hence the ultrasonic wave system that makes an environment "unpleasant" for mice, sending them back to their "origin", as the box graciously noted. They didn't mention anything about the crying.

So we plug this thing in, and then we hear "eeeee......eeee.........eeeee", much like the whimpers of a puppy, only ten times as high pitched.

Lord. But that didn't last too long, and now the apt seems to be rodent free. I was a little bit afraid that the mouse had been "unpleasanted" to death, but there's no stench, so i guess he or she escaped.

Not as bad I guess as when a whole family of mice fell out of the ceiling on top of my mother when she moved into her first house with my dad. Ughhh.

Lyrics from the hit song, "Pepino, the Italian Mouse" by Lou Monte:

Pepino, oh, you little mouse Oh, won't you go away Find yourself another house to run around and play You scare my girl, you eat my cheese, you even drink my wine I try so hard to catch you but you trick me all the time

The other night I called my girl I asked her could we meet I said let's go to my house We could have a bite to eat And as we walked in through the door she screamed at what she saw There was little Pepino Doin' the cha, cha on the floor