Pistol Packin' Presbytera

Presbytera, in the Greek culture, is the wife of the Father, or parish priest.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Behold the Snowman Cometh

When January 7th rolls around, I put away my Christmas decorations (after all, there is no 13th day of Christmas) and the snowmen come to visit for the rest of January. Today they were packed up and I bid a fond farewell (at least for 11 months) to some of my favorites.

This snowman is my gingerbread snowman given to me by my son Nick. He bought it for me when he worked at Sears and he rests on the floor in the corner of the dining room. This year, he stood guard over the poinsettia plant and did a fine job because the plant is still beautiful

This cute little guy also resides in the dining room when he comes to visit. He hangs from the light over my dining room table along with several other tiny snowmen. This signature snowman (see my name on it?) was given to me by my son Theo as a "just because" gift. Don't you just love gifts like that?

I visit my brother and his family in Alabama often and several of my snowmen hail from that warm state. Whenever I purchase a snowman from the South, I do it as a duty to preserve their life. I don't see how they could last through the summer there and they seem to do just fine up here in the North. The snowman family on the top left was a gift from my nephew Tom and his wife Ashley. Although 4 snowmen, they are one unit -- like our immediate family was when the boys were growing up. The snowman on the right has batteries and when prompted by a loud noise will sing and dance. If you remember Soul Man by Sam & Dave, that is the melody he uses to sing "I'm a Snow Man" . For obvious reasons, this snowman is a BIG hit with my grandchildren : ) The other snowman is a crystal snowman which I purchased from my great-nephew, Dylan, for a school fundraising drive.

The last group I want to show you is the rest of my out-of-town snowmen. The teeny-tiny snowman in the middle front is from the Great State of Texas which goes to prove that not all things in Texas are big! I bought this in San Antonio while visiting my friend Julee. The small snowman on the right was purchased in Branson MO when my friend and I attended a women's chocolate retreat. The slouchy hatted snowman on the left is a former Florida resident rescued when the Chaplain and I visited his brother Jim and wife Linda in 2005. The large snowman in the rear is from our neighboring state of Michigan. Our homeschool group had a field trip to Greenfield Village and we stopped in the gift shop before leaving. This commanding snowman, commanded me (by mind waves) to take him home. I could only obey!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It's As Easy As 1-2-3

Baby Saranita needed a winter hat that would fit. The one that she has is very big on her and will work wonderfully for next year. Knitting Grandma to the rescue : ) I thought it would be great fun and I had the perfect purple varigated yarn to use. I used this pattern that uses 2 needles and is knit flat.

Knitting it flat was the easy step 1 and the next step was to sew the seam so that you actually have a round cap. The little loop at the top is something new I learned for this hat. It's called an I-cord and is made on double pointed needles. I didn't have double pointed but I discovered that my stitch holders come apart and I used them as double pointed needles. Whew! I was very excited about this hat for Saranita and proudly took it to church the next day so she could have a hat that fit.

Here is number three with Saranita wearing the purple hat I made for her and it is TOO BIG!!! Oh well, I guess it isn't as easy as 1-2-3. Back to the drawing board.

I went back to the pattern and decided that I had to reduce it by 1/3 in order for it to fit. Reducing a pattern was another thing I learned on this project. I also discovered that when I knit the first hat, I grabbed the wrong needles and used a size 6 instead of a size 4. I am a wiser knitter and a more careful knitter now!

Here is the final pink hat which fits exactly and doesn't she look cute as a button with Grandpa? Now she will have two BIG hats for next year : )

Monday, January 29, 2007

Coffee in January

Coffee in January is a welcome thing, especially in my snowman mug. I bought this several years ago and now I look forward to using this mug in January. After the mild winter we have seen so far, I despaired of ever getting a picture of the snowman in snow! The weather cooperated and I got my picture. Just a couple more days this week to see this happy guy. I have a snowman collection and if I get time, I will post some pictures of snowmen which have traveled very far to come live at my house.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I heard on the radio today that this is BLUE MONDAY.

The reasons this fine day was burdened with that moniker are threefold. By now, people have realized that they are not going to keep their New Year's resolutions and boy are they bummed. By now, people are starting to get their credit cards bills and realize they have to pay the piper for their extravagance in December and boy are they bummed. Today is also the day they have ENOUGH of the gray overcast skies and boy are they bummed. These three things come together for an all together depressing day.

Not so with me. I have not made resolutions in years. For many years on New Year's Eve I would look back on the past year and be comforted by the fact that it couldn't get any worse. The next year it would get worse. So I stopped looking back and stopped looking forward : )

Our Christmas is always on a cash basis and this year I also made some handmade items for gifts. It is our habit to pay the piper before he pipes!

Just last Wednesday we had an entire day of sunshine so I am not in my sunshine withdrawal mode yet....it usually takes over a week of gray skies before I feel blue. Maybe this Thursday or Friday....

Everyday is a gift from our Heavenly Father and that makes it NOT blue.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Thankful For My Parents

56 years ago today, my parents brought me to the font to be baptized. They brought me to The Lutheran Church of the Covenant, an LCMS church then which is ELCA now. My Godparents were my Aunt and Uncle who were Baptists. But the faith God implanted into me on January 21, 1951 has grown through the years.

God has sent men to bring me the Word. The faith which He gave me has been watered by faithful Pastors. I could give you the names of these faithful men but they would simply point to Jesus as the one who did the watering. They taught me that it is GOD who gives the increase. They provided teachers in Sunday School, explained things to me in confirmation, forgave my sins in the stead and by the command of the Lord Jesus Christ. They spoke words of Law and words of forgiveness to me. They answered questions I asked in the many bible classes I have attended. They spoke the familar words of the Liturgy to me and placed the Word in my mouth.

Some of these pastors are with the company of heaven now. My Mom and Dad no longer walk this earth either. I have a few physical rememberances of them. What I do have from all of them though is something eternal -- a lasting faith in the Triune God. This morning I looked at the font in our church, sang the liturgy with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven and am so grateful that long ago, my parents brought me to receive the best gift of all.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I've Driven In Snow Before

I was on my way to Ft. Wayne for a Consensus meeting today. It was snowing quite a bit as I was getting ready but hey! I've driven in snow before so I continued with my preparations. My friend Rosemary who was here asked if I was still going to drive in that snowy mess. Sure, I replied. I've driven in snow before. My husband even counselled me that someone else could take notes at the meeting (I am secretary for Consensus) and was I certain I wanted to drive in the snow. I replied I was sure I wanted to go and that it might be stressful but I've driven in snow before....

Off I went waving goodbye through the falling snowflakes. I stopped at the gas station and then got on the interstate. I noticed as I was getting on that a whole line of cars were getting off the interstate as I was getting on but you know what I'm going to say....I've driven in snow before!

Once when we were living in St. Louis while my husband attended Concordia Seminary,we traveled to Jackson TN to visit my brother and family for Easter weekend. There was a winter storm in St Louis and we counted over 80 vehicles on the right and left of us as we took the interstate to Jackson. Ice, snow and bitter winds soon became warmth and there were daffodils blooming when we arrived safely in TN. I was 25 and carefree.

Another time we traveled north from St. Louis and hit an ice storm on our way to Peewaukee WI to visit our former Pastor. I had to constantly reach out and whack the wipers to get the accumulated ice off so we could drive. I was much younger than now...probably 24. So you know I'm speaking the truth when I say, I've driven in snow before.

Back to now. Back to today. After noticing the spinouts, the cars on the side of the road and facing the whiteouts swirling around, I did a very OLD thing today. I got off the freeway and called to let them know I wasn't coming to Ft. Wayne. I just couldn't drive in those conditions. I am old. I am officially a wimp.

Monday, January 15, 2007

How many of you are there?

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

That would be with my first and last name. I guess it would be unusual to find the name Barbara attached to a Greek last name. As far as my first name, there are 1,469,846 people in the U.S. with the first name Barbara. Statistically that's the 15th most popular first name. I believe I have only met 3 of them !

Monday, January 08, 2007


A friend sent me this and I love it. Enjoy!


There once was a woman who woke up one morning,
Looked in the mirror,
And noticed she had only three hairs on her head.
Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today."
So she did And She Had A Wonderful Day.

The next day she woke up,
Looked in the mirror
And saw that she had only two hairs on her head.
"H-M-M," she said,
"I think I'll part my hair down the middle today."
So she did And She Had A Grand Day.

The next day she woke up,
Looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.
"Well," she said,
"today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail."
So she did And She Had A Fun, Fun Day.

The next day she woke up,
Looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.
"YEA!" she exclaimed,
"I don't have to fix my hair today!"

Attitude is everything.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ornaments from afar

Blessed 12th Day of Christmas
Some of my ornaments come from quite a distance. This one I bought in Mobile AL when I was there in 2003. I was still homeschooling Nick and this field trip was our last hurrah. We packed up my sister-in-laws van, picked up my mother-in-law and headed a 1000 miles south. We met our friends, the Stumms, there and really enjoyed ourselves. My mother-in-law did not walk the parade route but we brought a beach chair and a blanket so she could be comfortable watching the floats go by. Mobile AL's Mardi Gras actually predates the one in New Orleans and is much more family oriented. You can see the 3 traditional Mardi Gras colors on this bulb.

This beautiful bulb has not traveled as far since I purchased it in 1997 in Cincinnati which is only 200 + miles from here. We were in Cincy for a party at my nephew Peter's house. Most of the Cleveland branch traveled down for the weekend. We had a field trip to a mall. I hate shopping but when I came across these beautifully swirled purple bulbs, what could I do????

This ornament has traveled the farthest and is the ornament I have owned the longest. In 1969, Bea Richards and Deaconess Martha Boss were returning to Hong Kong to work in a handicraft center employing handicapped people. Miss Richards was a long time member of the congregation I grew up in. She was a Sunday School teacher, nursing home visitor, taught VBS in Cleveland's inner city and was very active in the LWML. She worked here at a furniture store until she retired at the age of 65 in 1969. She lived here but her heart was always in Hong Kong. At the age of 65, she sold all that she had so she could finance her way to Hong Kong to use her talents to help administer the handicraft center and send the crafts back to her connections in LWML. She lived in a modest room in a YMCA and worked at her heart's desire until she died in 1985. She was an inspiration to me -- she didn't need a program, a district or a Synod to accomplish great things; she just went out and did it. Before she left, she gave me this ornament and I cherish it as well as the memory of Bea Richards and her 10,000 mile journey to help God's children in Hong Kong.

You've seen bits and pieces so I thought you might like to see the tree put together. The purple bows were made over 20 years ago and have faded from their deep color. At our tree trimming party in 1984, my friends brought ribbon, wire and white lights and we spent the evening making these bows. I have added purple lights to the tree but the bows of long ago remain.

All my granddaughter wants on the twelve day of Christmas is her two front teeth. She lost the second one today!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Handmade Ornaments


The first call my husband received out of the seminary was in 1978 to start a mission congregation in Vermilion OH. Within several months he located a church building and had a base of 15 families. One of the first new Lutherans confirmed were Kathy and Mike. Kathy made and handpainted this ornament and I think of them every time the Magi go on our tree. Since it is breakable, it always is located near the top!

The next call my husband received was to a dual parish in Wisconsin. Dairy country. As far from big city life as we could be. We learned a whole new language, got to love the smell of farm life and made many new friends. One of the older members, Johanna made this barn and silo for us in 1983. It brings back fond memories of our time up north. This is one of the indestructible ornaments so it hangs low on the tree so the children can see, touch and be amazed that Grandma has a barn on her tree!

From the year on this ornament, I can tell that we were at our current congregation. I love this ornament which just happens to be in my favorite color. Sometimes this ornament hangs on the tree and sometimes it hangs from the light over my dining room table so that we can appreciate all of the sides. It is a cross stitched ball with a quilted background.

Our dear friend Waltrud crocheted 4 of these bells for us several years ago. I gave a bell to each of our sons as they married and started a collection of their own ornaments for their trees. We still have 2 left and these tiny bells are nestled high in our tree.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Blended Traditions

Blessed 10th day of Christmas!!
When two people marry, they bring holiday traditions from both families and sift them out and come up with their own brand of holiday traditions. In our home we have joined the Greek heritage to the German heritage and formed our personal Kavouras traditions. Several years ago I purchased ornaments to highlight our heritages. Here is the Greek ornament which says Kala Christougena which means Merry Christmas. On the back of the ornament is a list of some of the Greek traditions surrounding the birth of our Savior.

We also have the German ornament with the words Froehliche Weinachsten -- again Merry Christmas On the back of the ornament are German traditions. Since I am the baker in the family we do some German cookies at Christmas. We also keep the German tradition of handing a pickle ornament on the tree.

This ornament is the last one to be put on the tree(actually hidden by the Frau of the house). In the morning, the child who finds the ornament gets an extra gift. Lily has found the pickle the last two years so this year her mom encouraged her to hang back and let someone else find it. Our friend's daughter found it this year. She shared her extra gift of Cracker Jacks with the rest of us.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

On the 9th day of Christmas

This year was a very bleak Christmas as far as chocolate that I could sink my teeth into! I did not despair since the Christmas season was not over with yet. On Christmas Day, my dear husband, my two sons, my two daughters-in-law and my 5 grandchildren did not think it important that I receive chocolate as a gift. I did receive many wonderful gifts, much outpouring of love and was surrounded by my family...but NO chocolate.

That all changed when my symbethera kindly gave me the gift pictured above. In the Greek language, there is a word for the mother-in-law of my son and the word is symbethera. We both share children and once our children are married, my daughter-in-law's family becomes part of our family and we become part of their family. My symbethera, Sandy, recogized my chocolate-less plight and gave me some delicious Ghirardelli chocolate in a metal Christmas ball. Yum! I am blessed.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Bread

In the Greek tradition, a sweet New Year's bread is baked and inside the bread is a silver coin. Since the removal of silver from our coins, we now wrap a coin in aluminum foil and bake it into the bread. My brother-in-law Eli bakes this wonderful bread every year. The head of the family slices the bread and in our case it is my mother-in-law. The first slice is for the house, the next is for the head of the family and then for each of her children and their spouse and then their children. My husband is one of 7 siblings so you can imagine there are quite a few pieces of bread!! Whoever gets the coin in their slice is said to have a lucky year. Here is my mother-in-law slicing the New Year's bread. We gather around and name each slice. Our immediate family had slice 13 through 24 but alas we did not get the silver coin.

This year the coin went to the 37th slice, my niece Elizabeth. Here is YiaYia with the lucky slice. Ironically, Elizabeth was not there because she was home sick with strep throat. Not a lucky beginning to the year BUT we're thinking that those are 2006 germs and she will only get better from here on out! Once the anticipation is past, many recount the year that THEY got the coin! Regardless of the coin, we know who holds us in His Hands so we are certain that each year is a year surrounded by our Blessed God.

A Bevy of Birthdays

On this eighth day of Christmas I would like to tell you about the many birthdays we have celebrated this past octave. The birthday of our God's Firstborn was a joyous and awe-filled celebration. It has struck me anew how impossible the Incarnation is and yet necessary for our salvation. I thank God that He is able to do the impossible and that He even loves me to the point of taking on flesh for my sake.

December 25th is also the birthday of my nephew Christopher. In times past we combined Christmas Eve with a birthday celebration for Chris.

Our eldest grandson celebrated his 4th birthday on December 27th with a haircut by Grandpa. We carefully dried the blood before we took the picture : ) The firstborn son of our firstborn son always has a ready smile. His persistent question in church is whether it is time to run to Grandpa. As soon as he could toddle, he made his way to Grandpa's side so that he too could greet the people coming out of church after the closing hymn. I was making my way back from Alabama when Theodore was born.

My newest sister-in-law, Crina, also celebrated her birthday on the 28th. Their first anniversary is on December 31st but she managed to sneak in a birthday celebration too!

Can you tell that our granddaughter Marina is celebrating her 7th birthday? I think the missing front tooth is a dead give-away!! Marina was born 29 years after our nephew Peter's birthday on December 31, 1970. New Year's Eve in our family has a totally different emphasis now. Marina was born on the eve of 2000 when I was (of course) in Alabama. I'm glad that I was here this year to celebrate the many birthdays of the octave.

Lastly, we managed to celebrate the birth of a new year knowing that the Incarnate Christ will be there for us every day of 2007 no matter what the year holds.