25 December 2011

New Year's Day Flea Market 2010 - Lithuania

Happy New Year! I hope your Christmas was delightful and that Santa brought everything on your list.

I recently came across some photographs I took a couple of years ago when I spent the holidays in Vilnius, Lithuania. I hope you enjoy this Eastern Europe Flea Market.

Even though it was quite cold and lightly snowing, at the crack of dawn vendors began arriving and setting out their wares on the snow covered steps.

These guys looked a little tired. Perhaps they celebrated too much the night before.

I thought that this dealer had the most interesting selection of antiques.

If these brass lights could talk, what stories would they tell? They were quite large, close to three feet in length.


What an interesting assortment of Soviet-era antiques and collectibles. Very few of the pieces were priced. Because Russian was the only language taught in schools up until 1990, few older Lithuanians spoke English. That's OK, I was content to just look.

These were some of the few dealers who brought furniture. I suspect the snow had something to do with that.

A suitcase filled with binoculars.

Soviet bronze busts. The brush must have been for removing snow. Several of the vendors had them.

I wish these could have come home with me. I can envision the elegant and romantic house where they used to hang.

Lovely carving on this old box.

There were quite a few military items. German WWII knives with sheaves were selling for around $20.

I can just imagine trying to fly home with a grenade in my luggage. As it was, it took us three hours to get through security in Amsterdam on our way back to the U.S.

I really liked these primitives.

And these.

Assorted metalware on an interesting old trunk.

A view of the city. Note the empty champagne bottles on the landing.

Someone brought an old spinning wheel.

I'm not sure how these books were protected from the snow.

Ornate door hardware and odds and ends.

A leftover from New Year's Eve in Vilnius.

18 December 2011

Christmas In Lithuania

A pretty girl selling handmade treats in Old Town Vilnius outdoor market.

Do you have a favorite Christmas? One you know you'll never forget for as long as you live?

I do.

In 2009, my husband was working in Lithuania and couldn't leave his job to come home for the holidays. Our family had never spent a Christmas apart, so our daughter and I flew over there to be with him.

I LOVE to fly, but I also think it can be excruciatingly stressful, especially if there are connecting flights.

Because my flight originated from a small airport in Hancock, Michigan (CMX)--so small, in fact, that if I call there, I might end up speaking directly to the airport manager--I was able to reschedule my flight to Boston and get a step ahead of the approaching storm that a day later would close and disrupt flights out of many major American and European airports. Whew!

As my daughter and I stood in line to board our 9 p.m. Christmas night flight out of Boston Logan to Schiphol in the Netherlands, the TV monitors flashed breaking news that the "underwear bomber" had just been arrested at Detroit Metro. Oh Great!

I was never so glad in my life when we finally boarded and were in flight.

Traveling on Christmas Day was super fun; complimentary wine and snacks and flight attendants in Santa caps and reindeer antlers; sleeping for a few hours and waking up in Amsterdam. How cool is that?

Neither of us had ever been to Eastern Europe. Were we in for a surprise! Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, would soon charm us with its medieval architecture, fabulous food and drink, and attractive exchange rate that made some purchases only slightly more expensive than Mexico.

View overlooking the city from our apartment.

My husband's apartment was IKEA modern with a woodstove and a spiral staircase and had a great view of the capital city.

Our VIP seating for viewing New Year's Eve fireworks.

I learned that Lithuania gained its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1990. Remnants of the occupation are most notably present in the unattractive, Soviet-built apartment buildings, some that even today remain unfinished. Not surprisingly, graffiti is everywhere, which in itself poses the question: is it art or vandalism?

Graffiti on a wall in Old Town.

Christmas graffiti on a wall near the U.S. Embassy.

More graffiti on lovely painted doors.

Except for weekends, my husband had to work for much of the time we were there. Since downtown was within walking distance, we explored the city during the day, and he took us us around by car in the evening.

The main street in Old Town.

Once you get off the main streets, side streets look like this.

One of the many tunnels that connect the streets in Old Town.

A touch of color brightens dark, drab winter days.

Lithuania is known for its amber and linen. Lithuanian chocolate is to die for.

If you think of Lithuania as a country of women in babushkas (though I'm sure you'll see them in the country), think again.

In Vilnius, women young and old wore fashionable fur coats and tall boots.

Does this look like a remnant of the Soviet era?

Vilnius is a city of stylish and slender women; I don't recall seeing any young women who were overweight.

How in the world does one stay slim with this as a temptation? Notice the empty space.

The local beer was awesome, as was everything else we tried.

One thing you will find in large super markets such as Maxima, are aisles of fresh food, especially cheese, dairy, yogurt, bread, and sausage. We hardly saw any pre-prepared, over-processed frozen foods; a couple of frozen pizza brands was about it. Refrigerators are small and people shop everyday.

This is how you buy fish if it isn't swimming in a tank: many meats such as lamb are similarly displayed on ice and out in the open.
Vilnius is a cat city.....

We saw them on signs and buildings.

This is one of the locals who hung out by the dumpsters at our apartment building. Every morning tenants left small bowls of food for the cute little scavengers.

If you're still reading.....thanks a lot. Guess I got a little winded!

All I can say is that I love Lithuania!!! I hope I get the chance to visit again.

Next up, I'll try to post some pictures taken at an outdoor flea market held on New Year's Day in Vilnius. It would have been 'seventh heaven' for anyone interested in inexpensively priced WWII relics and elegant, old world treasures.

Until next time.....


17 December 2011

Twas the Week Before Christmas

Should I be worried? I haven't done a thing to get ready for Christmas other than trim this scrawny tree. It was twice as tall until I took the handsaw to it. Look at the bright side: it only needs half as many ornaments. ;-)

Before my husband goes out to get a tree, I always tell him, "don't cut a good one," ....one of the few times he actually listens to me! HA! This tree had really scraggly lower branches, and I had no choice but to cut the bottom half off and put it in a bushel basket.

Hey, I'm not stressing over a tree.....'tis the season to be jolly, right?

Wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday season.

04 December 2011

Silent Snow

Holy wah! Would you believe that yesterday I was running around in sandals? Seriously. There was no snow on the ground. This is what I awoke to this morning.

I think what I like most about snow is that it is so quiet. While I was sleeping, my world silently transformed into Winter Wonderland.

Before sunrise, on my way to stoke the fire in the woodboiler, everything feels Clean. Fresh. Pure. An illusion, but still, a moment to savor.

Tangled strings of Christmas lights in a primitive well bucket cast a celestial glow in the woodshed.

It is a perfect winter morning: Fresh Copper Country air and the crackle of burning logs.

16 October 2011

Three more reasons why I love Goodwill

How did they know that I have been looking for barn lights? It must be my lucky day! My husband says they are not for exterior use, but I surely can find a place for them in the new garage or the barn. The two smaller ones are in super condition, nearly perfect. The larger light has a chip that won't bother me. I'll turn it toward the wall. The smaller lights are made by Goodrich, the same company that makes the Barn Light Electric gooseneck lamps that I plan to order and cost about $300 each. The larger light's label says Quad.

I regularly shop our local Goodwill because I never know what I'll find and because I hate paying full price for anything if I can avoid it.  Lately, the bargains have been far and few between. All our store's knick-knacks are priced at $2.49 each. Some will still have a 25 cent garage sale sticker or a Dollar Store tag on them. What in the world are they thinking?

Guess how much these lights set me back? Give up? OK, have a look.....just click on the picture.

I am one happy camper! Three vintage barn lights for $6. Yes!

14 October 2011

Phase 2 - Landscaping Dreams

Well, we're not yet quite finished with Phase 1, but my work is done (hand-dipping 14 bundles of cedar shakes and hand-brushing rough-sawn cedar to the tune of about $1,000 worth of stain).

If the weather holds out, we'll transplant a white pine on the corner and in the spring I'll plant Sea Green Junipers and native grasses, perhaps lay a sandstone pathway around the perimeter. I envision a mass of black-eyed Susans for fall color. We can't do anything until the excavator comes back to put gravel in front of the doors and run the floor drains off the side of the hill. Next week, hopefully.

Yesterday, I hustled (against the weather) and put a coat of Benjamin Moore Benwood Clear Acrylic finish on the inside of the window moldings. It is water-based and doesn't yellow like shellac or varnish. I have been using it for years on pine trim and normally put on  2-3 coats, but I'm afraid the next coats will have to wait until spring. It's entirely possible that we may not see another day above 50 degrees.

The weather is changing fast. Our wet 50 degrees feels like 30. Most of the leaves have fallen from the trees, and I noticed on my way home from work that the Houghton Country Road Commission had come through and placed their long, whip 'markers' for the snowplows. Ugh. That means snow flurries can't be far behind.

My plan for the weekend, if weather permits, is to start moving furniture from the 'real' garage- the one we haven't been able to park a car in for three years-into the loft of the new building. Next year, I hope she gets a makeover. It will be my new workshop/junkshop/staging area. To all: have a sweet weekend!