Sunday, December 17, 2017

Going Home

We didn’t have to rise too early, and the airport in Palanga is tiny and easy. We returned our rental vehicle [which was packed to the gills] and walked to Departures next door. It was also just as well that the amber museum and many of the shops were closed yesterday; our bags were already full. Since I combined my bags, we had an extra allowance for the painting Dan and Kim bought in Kaunas, but they did have to pay fees in Oslo to get it back to California.

We arrived in Oslo with at least a five hour layover. We wanted to check the bags and visit the city again, but check-in didn’t open until two hours before departure. I volunteered to relax at Starbuck’s while they went to Oslo for last looks. Since I had both carts of luggage within the Starbuck area, it was no problem to keep it company and to find various other patrons to watch it for me if I needed the nearby restroom. Coffee was 43 krona, and that was the exact amount of spare change Daniel had given me. That’s about $5 for a cup, but refills were FREE! I easily drank $5 worth while I enjoyed being on-line with my tablet and organizing photos. Time flew and before I knew it, the gang was back and we were on the plane back to Oakland.
View of glacial Greenland. Norwegian has the best windows on their ‘dreamliners.’

Flight was uneventful, and the three adults had the exit row on the right side of the plane. The landing, though, was something else. Apparently we were early, and our gate was unavailable. So we spun our wheels on the tarmac for at least 20 minutes before we pulled into the gate. Since we were row 7, we exited the plane fairly quickly only to find the door at the end of the gangway locked! Well, that took another 20-30 minutes. They had just opened a new baggage area, since Norwegian has become so popular they need a lot more space, but maybe the baggage handlers couldn’t find it, because it took almost an hour for our bags to show up! At that point, we just hugged goodbye and took off. I was happy to take BART back since an A’s game had just let out, and I hoped the Spatzes were able to beat the worst of the traffic. We had such a great time [even if that was the weirdest exit/baggage drama ever] that I’m going back to Scandinavia next June to explore Sweden for Summer solstice.

Thus endeth the saga of our Norwegian sojourn.
Good Yule everyone!

End note: Melissa tells me that the photo of me in one of the high seats will appear in the next issue of Witches’ Brew due out 1/10.


Had such a great time on the Couronian Spit that we didn’t reach Palanga till after 5 pm. At that point, many attractions were closed, but the Baltic Sea is always open.
Made it to our spectacular hotel room near the beach [ - we had the double apt. Room for family].

That’s our balcony above the entryway. Was hoping for a gorgeous sunset, but it was slightly overcast.
Path to the sea from our hotel.

Sunset on the beach.

Also known as ‘vakarene’ in Lithuanian.

Still the sky had some pink in it.

My friend, Gintare, the landlord’s daughter, is now engaged and studying hotel management in Amsterdam.
Daniel wanted to have a nice dinner on the beach, but Gintare and I just laughed. I said we’d be lucky to find decent pizza. I recommended The Muse, and our hosts chimed agreement. We had a lovely dinner in a charming restaurant above an art gallery in the center of town. We sat at a table in a bay window overlooking the main street. After dinner, we headed back for beach trips, drinks, packing, and baths. Although the tub was lovely and deep, it was so clean, it was very slippery, and I almost couldn’t get out of it!
But the view of the forest from the window was like a fairy tale.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Off to Palanga. Long but very pleasant drive to the coast. Listened to a very interesting sci-fi story that was on Dylan’s device which Daniel played through the car radio. Stopped at first roadhouse on the way for breakfast. Very little English spoken, but we managed to have kugelis, ceppelinai, and pancakes.

Orange chicken for Max, and real ground bean coffees. Bought some homemade cherry jam and chocolate-coated apple cheese.

Took the ferry from Klaipeda to the Couronian spit and drove to Juodkrante to explore ‘Raganu Kalnas’ the Hill of the Witches with over 80 carved wooden sculptures from mythology, folk-lore, and local color. Not ALL of which are presented below, but will see how many I can send!
Card playing with the devil

Frog hugger

Have a seat - there were at least 3 different chairs

Just hoppy to be here

Kim pondering

New seat

Over a barrel

Raven trail markers

Raganas - witch one

See sawing

Tongue lashing

Wood climbing

Juodkrante above - the Couronian spit below

Spent most of the day here, but are leaving tomorrow for USA - off to Palanga.

To be continued


No photos for this one. I was too busy shopping, and I go here every visit.
Drove about an hour to Trakai; amber shopping for the ladies and the castle for the guys. Lunched at a Karaite [the Karaites are a Jewish sect who celebrate Easter] restaurant [first photo on you tube videos:

Fully armed with our purchases of amber and souvenirs, that was enough for a day. Left at 10, back by 3, and we all scattered to do what we wanted on our last day in Kaunas. Can’t find my ATM card, but will deal. [ATM card update: card was lost somewhere, and I cancelled it, no charges made, but my credit union charged me $20 for a new one - cheap for the peace of mind.]

The swains spent the evening in while the adults went for dinner at Grill London which was very tasty. They went for a walk after dinner. I went back to pack and started on the ‘logues. Left so much for Inija and me in the village, that my carry-on fit in my suitcase and it all weighs less than 45 pounds! [the kilos of amber fit in my huge purse.]

Saturday, November 18, 2017

first day in Kaunas

A Day in Kaunas
Awoke early while Daniel was out for a run. Packed up to move downstairs, and then we all went to breakfast at the corner bakery. At first, Daniel was unsure, but I assured him they had lots of options. They did, and Daniel claimed his borscht was one of the best he’d even eaten. Fully fortified, we walked 2-3 blocks to the War Museum and the adjacent Ciurlionis Museum.

This backdrop was painted around 1909. People in the Baltics still celebrate the old ways with a raised fire altar close to a sacred tree[s]. My apologies for the photo quality, but they have it protected behind a clear panel that reflects the light and camera shots.

Kim took the boys to tour the Military Museum while Daniel and I toured the Ciurlionis [beloved mystical painter & composer] Museum.

Hallway glass

Found great souvenirs, and then we all met in the park outside, crossed the street, and visited the totally unique Devil’s Museum about which I’ve written many times.

Best of the examples I captured - that old devil moon.

Afterwards, the swains went back to the apt. while the adults shopped our way down the lane. First we stopped at an ATM [and somewhere along the way I lost my ATM card,
Sidewalk outside the bank

but at least I had obtained some euros first. Kim was enchanted with a nic-nac shop, but I really wanted them to see the Saule gallery.
Pysankai [decorated eggs] above and juostai [sashes/belts below]

They did and bought a painting. I added more amber ‘fingers’ and belts to my hoard. Then we all went back to our pads to relax before dinner.

My studio below their 2 BR [forgot to take pics upstairs. I just was there to sleep, and, in my defense, I left before coffee.]

Kaunas bedroom

My fabulous tub

We were game for the ‘Hunters’ restaurant and had my favorite; reservations! We were going to take a bus; instead we walked a fur piece from our alley to old town, but it was a lovely day, and it wasn’t that far.
I’ve written of the place before; it’s in the town hall square, and it is a game restaurant.
Everything painted on the panels could be on the menu -

Daniel ordered a hunters’ plate of elk, boar, venison, and other delicacies. We enjoyed a lovely bottle of French white wine. The boys had steaks, and I thoroughly enjoyed a veal stew with plums. After dinner we strolled across the square towards the partially restored Kaunas castle.

Max had a blast swinging on a rope attached to the bridge over the moat.
The bridge is in the foreground. We could hear the jazz club and see other signs of nightlife on the other side.

It was almost 10 pm when the Sun disappeared and we went to the Iki [food store] at the bus terminus and caught one back to our digs. Took a long bath and had a restful night.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

First Night in Kaunas

Finally back to finishing up our trip.
We left the village after Zolines around circle
8/15 Arrived at our Kaunas apartment on “Freedom Lane” after dark, but they met us and gave us the keys. Because they knew me, they said we didn’t have to pay till tomorrow [which is pretty cool for Lithuanians]. I put the Spatzes in a 2 bedroom apt. I’d stayed in last year when my studio wasn’t vacant yet. Their apartment was a mid-century modern dream, and this year, I slept on the living room couch the first night since, again, my studio was still occupied. They offered to move me to another place nearby, but I didn’t want to move out of the building.
[flowers outside our building]

Sunday, October 15, 2017

2018 calendars

The 2018 Celestial Calendars have arrived!

Great guide to all things astronomical and astrological for beginner or pro. All with beautiful, color astrological illustrations.

I have the Pocket Astrologer [4 ¼” x 5 ½”] in Eastern or Pacific time for $6.00 each. I have the Wall Calendar in Eastern or Pacific for $11.00 each. I have the Astrologer’s Datebook [4 ¼” x 6 ¾”] with both times zones in it for $9 each.

Shipping is $2.00 for 1st item and .50 for each additional item. Send money to: my paypal address which is
I’m going to be in Ohio 10/24-11/4, so if I don’t receive your order before then, it won’t be shipped till November.

Lynn House Art

Still working on the last 4 days of our European trip, but today was the last day of the Art Show I’m in at the Lynn House.

My two watercolors are framed and I took these at the gallery, but the glass put some reflection spots on the camera view.
Mt. Diablo

Besides my paintings, here are two other pieces I liked:
This one's titled 'Sea Witch'

For my friends who felt - a charming felted wolf

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

8/15 - Zolines

More reasons I adore this country! Found all this while I was researching Zolines for my blog.

This is a national holiday in Lithuania!

Where to celebrate the Grass? (Event Guide 2017) Author: Donatas Andrijauskas Posted:  August 14,

 Žolina is celebrated on the 15th of August.  Herbal - farewell to the summer and thanks to the Earth for the harvest festival. Through the Grass, either through the Christmas Eve or Easter, the family should sit down at the table of food and be together. This day in Lithuania is a day of unemployment, therefore there will be plenty of events in Vilnius and its surroundings.

Skaityti daugiau: .

Here is an event guide: HERBAL HERBS, GREEN TRAKUES August 12-15 "Cemetery" and Trakai region and their artistic groups, the tradition of fostering games and other activities, the Cemetery festivity attracts a great interest of visitors from Lithuania and abroad.

LIVING ROOM Lithuanian Folk Life Museum on August 15 invites families, their friends and relatives to come to the Grass Festival! Aukstaitija village, at Rachkishki chapel, 12 o'clock . The masses, after which the annual harvest and flowers and grasses will traditionally be celebrated. The fair will be played, we play country games, we will have a delicious egg, iodine zaimateukai, and will introduce visitors to the healing properties of medicinal plants! You will enjoy ensemble, Liudvinas Theater "Green Garden" performance and even puppies circus performances! The Lithuanian Folk Life Museum invites you to celebrate the Herald together and keep in mind the good spirits and field flowers, fruit and vegetables grown in your gardens.

Free Herbal Sightseeing Tour "Summer Flowers" In the summer, when we came to life and dressed in the brightest colors and matured abundant crops, our ancestors chose to celebrate the Grass - a magical flowering, abundance and harvest celebration, thanking the lovers of the Earth, who were rewarded with a good harvest. It was believed that those who did not go to the Heritage Festival would not have rich and rich years. So, if you want to take care of your well-being for the coming year - on the 15th of August you are in a hurry to remember the Herbal Traditions along with Vivid Vilnius on a free excursion "Summer Flowers"! Vivid Vilnius invites the residents of Vilnius and the city to remember the most beautiful Heritage traditions and take part in the "Summer Flower" excursion free excursion. During the tour, let's talk about what is going on during the feast Herbs, and we will plant grass, flower gardens, gardens and other vineyards in several places in old Vilnius, meet the plants that Vilnius has once known and which are famous for today. We will also find out how our ancestors celebrated the Herbs, what are the oldest Herbal practices, what to do through the Grass, so that all the rest of the year would be rich and rich.
The excursion route follows the greenest and most picturesque places in Vilnius - the Sventaragis Valley, the Bernardine Soda, the Mountain Park and the coastline of Vilnia.

The Republic of Užupis publishes the freedom of grass The inhabitants of the zealous republic of Užupis celebrate the proclamation of the freedom of grass. The team winning Putin and Short kiss of Vilnius and "The party is over" will unveil a new street art sculpture near the Užupis Art Incubator, telling everything that is really about cannabis. From the controllers of the Windhoek, the dub will play, we will release the opening of the Baltic Shamans store. We will eat snacks from the Canopy, and the Angel of Užupis in front of the Punches will smell of plum smell. Event starts: 6pm.

Absolutely beautiful day for a festival. Spent the morning packing, cleaning, and eating ceburekai. Max was great at helping and moving things around for me.

The rest of them returned from Lativa around noon. They said they had a great time and saw the guildhall with the ‘Cats on the Rooftop’ - yes, believe it or not, that Lettish song is at least 500 years old!

Inija is now quite successful at performing traditional rites of passage. Max came back and told me there was a wedding in the temple, but when we went over to see, we were told it was a private ceremony. Good for Inija. We could easily hear the singing.

Before the fest started, I had all of us celebrate the grasses and flowers by making wreaths. Daniel made one for me, and we all wore ours to the rite. The guys were told that men didn’t wear the wreaths to the rite. [My bad! - I was supposed to tell them to give them to a woman, but they looked so fine, and I was distracted on my way to the stone circle.]

Our Zolines rite was a celebration of bread and grasses. Afterwards, we said our goodbyes. I introduced the rest of Max’s family to the metal smith, and Max thanked him for his teachings, and the smith thanked Max for his help and said he was very strong.
We left within an hour of the rite and headed to Kaunas for three days.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

gediminas' castle

Just had to share these photos of this place.

8/14 Romuva Summer Camp

8/13 footnote
Forgot to add that we went to Zemyna’s kankles concert in the temple; the acoustics are wonderful and she played many selections from her CD [which I have in stock.] Another thing I forgot was how horrid the mosquitos were. The weather was lovely; 70-80 degrees, rare rain, but vicious mosquitos 24/7.

Today we worked on projects. Left Max to hammer away with the smith and hang out with all his new friends. I spent the day catching up with a lot of my friends. Around 2 pm, Inija informed us that the ‘Foreigners’ were in charge of preparing Dinner for everyone that evening.
Zdenak on drum in the temple

Zdenak [my Czech friend] was livid. Why had no one told us sooner? He could have made Czech food, but with less than 4 hours to prepare it, it wasn’t going to happen. [It takes at least an hour to go shopping, and at least an hour to boil a cauldron of water.]
I gathered all eight of us together, and raided the cupboards at Inija’s. I sent the guys off to build up the fire and fill the cauldron and boil the water.
Foreigners hard at work
My instructions for the cauldron were almost medieval: Take 50 pounds of pasta + 5 pounds of chopped up carrots and add to a huge cauldron of boiling water.
Zdenak had said he’d take me to the restaurant in Sariai about 3 km away for ceburekai. And he was in such a temper over dinner, I thought the excursion would do us both good. The lady who makes them is very talented. They are basically a thin, crispy fried dough stuffed with meat or cheese or both. They cost 1.3 euros and are so good. We ran into some others from camp enjoying cold beers, and had one with them while we waited for our order. We each had one on-site, while the cook made me three more cheese ones for later to go.

When we went to check on the foreigners around an hour later, I had them dump out a third of the water or it would have taken hours to boil. I had set all the women various chopping tasks; one did the carrots, one chopped and fried up three different onion sides; one with mushrooms, one sauteed, and one caramelized. They were all delicious.

We had good bread and butter,  two bowls of grated cheeses, sour cream, and a lot of spices and condiments to add to your taste. We actually had all of it ready to serve just before 6 pm. Inija was astonished. She said it was the first time ever that dinner had been served on time.
Several of the ‘foreigners’ complimented me on my organizational skills. Almost everything was eaten. There were only about two pounds of the carrot/pasta mix left over.

No time to rest on our laurels. Tonight was the Talent Show in the ‘Conference Center‘ [an old barn]. I’d signed up for #4. It was quite sophisticated for its rustic setting. Spotlights were muted with baskets which soften the glow on stage. There were even footlights [held up by hand].
Note the basket lamp in front of the wheel

The first act had shared the stage with me before: A man who played the didgeridoo. There were about 10 performers. The photos of me were taken by others, including Max,

but I managed to take one of Lithuania’s newest TV star, Vetra, the youngest
Vetra on the left
daughter of Inija and Jonas Trinkunas, who appears on “The Vikings” with two of her BFF’s.

The highlight of the evening for me was my Belgian friend and his daughter [I let them camp  and park - they drive to summer camp from Belgium - on my property every year. He read an apology  [this kind:
a reasoned argument or writing in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.:
"a specious apology for capitalism".
synonyms: defense of, explanation of, justification of, vindication of, apologia for]

explaining why Lithuania ‘pledges allegiance’ under [the] Sun, instead of under God. Very enlightening, and I could write an entire essay on his explication. Brief version: there are many gods and religions in Lithuania, but there is only one Sun, and so, the Lithuanian government kept 'under Sun'. [Note: Lithuanian does not use articles; a, an, or the, but they are implied.]

It was also the night before Zolines [second harvest festival dedicated to Zemyna the Earth Mother and her grain, specifically, rye.] That meant there would be a ‘pirtis’ [a wet sauna for ritual and personal purification]. I’d seen smoke from the chimney while we were cooking. I’d explained what it was to Max and we grabbed towels and headed over. The guys were dumping hot coals on the grass near the creek that feeds onto the lake. The pirtis wasn’t quite ready. I left Max with the men to learn its mysteries and went back to my place and was just falling asleep when Max returned around midnight. He was so excited; he told me he’d taken a pirtis four times! It was now cooled down enough for the women, but it was too late and too dark for me.

When I first came to our village last century, and we would fire up the pirtis house, the men went in first to fill the iron hot water tank and build up the fire till it was very hot and steamy inside. When they were done they would all jump in the creek, and return to the main house for food. The women and children were next, and I started out on the floor with the kids. There was no plumbing in the village at that time, so this was how we were all able to bathe and have hot water for dishes and laundry; it’s a very efficient system. The next day, the old folks came in to bathe. I guess I’m one of the old folks now; I went over around 6 am when I arose and had the place to myself. Washed my hair, washed myself, soaked my feet in birch leaves and herbs. Did NOT throw myself in the creek, but felt wonderfully prepared for the rest of the day and all the packing and cleaning yet to do.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Bergen to Summer Camp in Lithuania

Wizzed to Kaunas on WizAir for about $100 each. Plane was packed like sardines, and seats didn’t recline, and there was no first class, but it was only about an hour and  a half flight.
Kaunas is the old capital of Lithuania and is an art deco lover’s dream. The airport arrivals area was basically a new quonset hut set up to receive people while the Vilnius airport was closed for two weeks. Daniel had rented an SUV that was a tight fit for the five of us, but we fit! Daniel kept trying to drive to downtown Kaunas, but I kept telling him there wasn’t one. There’s Old Town and ‘Centrum’. Anyway, I was familiar with the road he was on and as we passed a Cili [pronounced silly] Pizza, I told him we should go there. Besides a huge menu of Lithuania and European dishes, they also serve good pizza which the guys enjoyed. In Lithuania, they have strange ideas about pizza, and they serve them with a bottle of ketchup and a bottle of garlic mayo on the side! The tab for the five of us was 45 euros. Daniel said he’d paid that much for lunch for himself in Norway yesterday.
Kaunas is a little like Cincinnati; if you keep trying to drive downtown, you’ll wind up in the Ohio river. So after lunch we headed back to the highway and off to village. Stopped for groceries and supplies and arrived just in time for the communal dinner which was macaroni and cheese from a huge cauldron.
I was pleased that my house had been swept and cleaned, and Max and I retrieved bedding for everyone from Inija’s house. Sadly, the family found my rustic abode too rustic and dusty and left to find a hotel around midnight. [They had to go all the way to Vilnius - about 70 miles.] I was half asleep when they left before I could tell them that I could go back to Inija’s and borrow ‘freshly harvested mattresses.’ Max stayed with me and we had a great time at summer camp, while Dan, Kim and Dylan returned the next afternoon and decided to go to Riga until the 15th.

8/12  Saw lightning at Vakarene [singing down of the Sun]. Started a new sewing project -still working on a cut-out applique herb bag project. Visited and sang in the temple. For lunch, there is a sign-up sheet and you sign up the night before and pick numbers on a menu. I ordered Lithuania pancakes with meat, Max ordered chicken, and I picked up everything + extra chips and munchies for Max.
Although I have the best out house in the village, perhaps that’s another reason Max’s family might have sought out better amenities. I’m used to ‘roughing it’ for the few days I’m there every year.

8/13 - We both slept in late till around 10 am. My German friend who has moved to Lithuania to be a farmer, Kevin, lectured in English on the Viking Age in the Baltic Sea. We both had ordered potato pancakes for lunch and Max took mine with meat by mistake. The day before he’d said he wanted plain, but today he wouldn’t trade me back, but it was okay. I was thrilled he was adjusting and enjoying Lithuanian food. I grilled onions and mushrooms to put on top of my plain pancakes. After lunch, I introduced him to Stashiss [phonetic spelling], the metal smith who usually stays in the front room on the straw bed that Dan and Kim didn’t like, and he started hammering away on a piece of bronze. He came back later and asked if I could help him with a runic inscription?
Sure, I replied, “What do you want to know?”
“I want to know how to carve F. . . OFF in runes.”
Max is so endearing. I showed him the runes and added that three fehu runes and an odalaz rune made an excellent runic inscription on a ring.
Max made the ring and was very enchanted with it, although I’m not sure his parents were.
There were actually two smiths at camp this year. The younger blacksmith brought a portable forge:
village smithy.jpg

The communal meal that night was buckwheat. We politely had some and then went back to my home for some more of our own food.