Pistol Packin' Presbytera

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

Thursday, July 26, 2007

O Chaplain, My Chaplain

If you have the opportunity and are interested, For the Life of the World published an article about the work my husband does as a chaplain. It can be found

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

First Fruits

This post should really be called first veggies! We planted no fruits in our garden but we did plant some vegetables. The spinach and most of the carrots we lost to the animals who come to call in our yard. We then sprayed what was left of the garden to deter the deer and bunnies from eating our bounty. Today I took about 10 steps out my front door and looked carefully. The green beans were definitely ready for the picking!

I picked enough beans for supper and brought them inside to wash and get ready for eating. We had a delicious meal thanks to a manager's special on Delmonico steaks at our neighborhood Giant Eagle. I also had a few award winning turnips left from my visit to Polly. I cooked the turnips with some cloves of garlic and potatoes. Mashed them together and they were yummy.

Carrying the garlic theme through to completion, I cooked the beans and topped them with garlic sauted in olive oil. And yes, the steaks were seasoned with garlic and herb before grilling!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Purple Chocolate

My favorite color is purple.

My favorite chocolate is dark chocolate.

I was introduced to the following at my friends's home in Indiana.

Coincidence? I think not!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Berry Reprise

This week the blueberries were in and we were out in the field picking the berries! This is the 3rd year we have gone and Lily was very excited to be with us this year. Last year, Lily was in Arizona having loads of fun with her other grandma and we missed having her helping hands. She has a berry bucket slung over her shoulder but she actually spent most of the time toting her cousin Saranita around. This picture was taken early in our day and her cousin is still content to sit on the blanket and play with toys.

This was the first year for young Dean to be going blueberry picking and he was VERY excited to be going with grandma. Marina and Theodore were with me last year and Marina is the most experienced of the grandchildren. She's been with me all three years. She was a big helper with her younger brothers and also with picking. She carefully explained to Theodore and Dino that they should only pick the dark purple berries. I finally gave up telling them they should ask me BEFORE they pick the berries : )

The real workers were also there!! My dear daughter-in-law Naomi and my sister-in-law Crina both love blueberries and are quick pickers! Naomi was not able to pick as many as last year because last year Saranita was inside her and not prone to wandering off!! We did manage to pick for 2 hours and got about 16 pounds of berries between all of us. We started at 8 a.m. and the sky was very overcast. Another successful weather day for picking. We were also blessed when we picked the strawberries with overcast eyes. The berries were not as plump as I've seen them in the past but I think the last 3 days of significant rain will make our additional picking next week bountiful.

The owner of Boneta Berry Farm always has frozen popsicles available for the young ones when they're done. In addition, I packed juice and crackers which we ate in the shade (the sun did come out)of the back of the van.

Saranita has one question for Marina -- CAN I HAVE SOME????????

We decided to make some blueberry jam much to the delight of my husband. The fruit is supposed to be smashed but we learned that blueberries don't smashed nearly as easily as strawberries! The batch on the right was smashed by hand and looks like blueberries floating in jell. The jar on the left was smashed electrically with my Oscar jr. We haven't done a taste test yet but I'm thinking with the amount of sugar -- both will taste delectable.

Our tower of freezer jam was added to the strawberry jam already in the freezer. We froze enough berries for 3 pies. We also need more berries for blueberry cobbler and blueberry muffins. For lunch the next day, Lily and Marina learned how to make a fruit salad with blueberry, strawberry and banana topped with Cool Whip. They were thrilled to make something from start to finish which included a knife!! We obviously do not have enough berries for all these grand plans so next week we head back out to pick some more. I do not particularly like blueberries but I absolutely love making family memories.

The grand finale -- my kitchen AFTER our blueberry mess. This clean kitchen was brought to me courtesy of Naomi -- what a gem!

Camera Dump

My camera had some photos which were hanging on waiting for a blog post and this is it! I was struck by how much this reminded me of Europe although it's smack dab in the middle of the city of Parma OH. Most European immigrants who settled in the Cleveland area in the late 40's and early 50's took up residence in the city of Cleveland. Many, after they established themselves, carefully saved to purchase a double (up and down or side by side)house in the suburb directly south of the city. In Parma, you will find beautiful ethnic churches throughout the city. In the background of this picture you see the gold domes of St Jehosaphat. There is a lovely mosaic on the front of the building which I will post sometime. My husband and I were lunching at the tavern next door and were so struck by the contrast of bar/church/clouds.

On my recent trip to Sussex I had the opportunity to snap this delightful picture of 3 generations of Uffelmans although none go by that name now! To the left is Sandy and then her daughter Naomi in the background and to the right is the granddaughter that Sandy and I share, Saranita. This was taken in June and we would not be able to take this picture today because Saranita is now crawling and why sit and pose when there is exploration to be done!!

This picture was also taken on the way home from our trip to Sussex WI. It is at a rest stop on the Ohio Turnpike. I can not even begin to imagine how tired these motorcyclists were that they were able to sleep out in the open, in this position, while people streamed past as they entered the rest stop.

Here is the final picture taken after we got back home. Here the lovely Miss Saranita is surrounded by Mrs. Kavouras on her right and another Mrs. Kavouras on her left : )

Sunday, July 15, 2007

National Ice Cream Day

Passing on Family Traditions

Who knew?

Certainly not I! My daughter-in-law Naomi called me to tell me that today was National Ice Cream Day. I hadn't a clue but it's a day I'll never pass up in ignorance again!

I come from a long line of ice cream lovers. Some of my earliest memories of my dad involve going for a long ride in the country to some custard stand that he discovered. The four of us would troop out of the car and enjoy delicious custard. I also remember ice cream being of medicinal value growing up. Sore throat? A pepsi-float will cure that!

Another memory I have of ice cream and my dad happened when we were living in St Louis and my husband was attending the Seminary. My brother, Tom, was also at the Sem and my dad and step-mom were visiting us. We went to a mall which just happened to have a Baskin-Robbins store. We had different places to visit in the mall so we agreed to meet back at a certain time at BR and have ice cream. My husband and I got back early and lo and behold, we found my father trying to wipe the evidence off of his face -- he tried to sneak in an extra cone before we all got there. We roared over that one.

Nick called later and asked if I had gone for ice cream yet. "No, I answered, because your dad is installing a new bedroom ceiling fan". He informed me that they were on their way over and we could walk to the corner ice cream store which is a little less than a mile away. We just happened to park across the street from my other son so those grandchildren joined us on our ice cream adventure. And my friend just happened to join us then so she and her daughter got on board the ice cream train. Needless to say, a delicious time was had by all.

Friday, July 13, 2007


This post is about my husband's paternal grandmother, Efstathia. It is written by her grandson John and he explains how this article came to be. I have included my own comments about her after his article along with a picture of her from 1980 with my eldest, Theodore, who was named after her one and only son.
NOTE: John originally wrote this for a group that is working on a book to honor the women who started the Greek Orthodox Church in Cleveland. The original version started John thinking about the many accomplishments of his grandmother, so he added some things to make it more complete.

Efstathia Kavouras was born in Raxes, Gortynias, Greece on 26 October. The year is unclear. It’s been shown as early as 1890, but most likely it was 1895 or 1896. I suppose the official date—the one that counts—is on her passport; but it doesn’t matter. What does a year show now? In her passport picture, she looks young—unbelievably young to one of her later-born grandchildren—she has dark hair and she is wearing a coat with a fur collar. It’s deceiving, because she was not the fur-collar type. She was too practical for that. But the picture shows something more: a young woman with a determined look; a look that said she would face whatever came her way. And she did. It was a look and attitude that anyone who knew her would come to know well.

Efstathia came to the United States in 1930 with her 12-year old son, arriving at the start of the Depression. She joined her husband, Demetrios, who had been working in America for several years, helping build the trans-continental railroad. I can only imagine the awkwardness of becoming reacquainted with her husband after several years’ absence, but she never talked about that. I don’t know how long it took my grandfather to save money, but together they found a way to pay for the passage and have her arrive in a fancy coat.

She was barely able to read in any language—certainly not English—but she didn’t let that stop her. Efstathia quickly became a strong presence in both the Greek community and the church. She lived almost all of her life near the Annunciation church on West 14th St. I didn’t know her when she worked or when she was raising her son. A child has no concept of his parents’ or grandparents’ past. In the world of childhood, I knew she was there, a strong presence in our family. It didn’t matter where she had come from or what she had done. She was my Yaya. But I have many memories of the way she lived her life. She was a philanthropist in every sense of the word. Here are just a few memories her family has of her.

She met a young Greek widow who was struggling financially and who, for several reasons, had been unable to have her five children baptized. Efstathia made arrangements with the Greek priest to get the family to church and have the children baptized; acting as the godmother, she made sure all the children had new clothes for the church service. With assistance from the church, she found financial help for the family, and she was a friend to this woman for many years.

Another time, she found out about an old Greek couple—living on a small income—who needed help. The woman was bedridden and her husband was caring for her alone. Efstathia provided visits and food, but she wanted them to feel connected to the Greek community. She bought them a radio so they could listen to the weekly news and radio programs that were broadcast in Greek.

At Efstathia’s funeral, in 1982, an older woman who I knew vaguely from the Greek Church came to talk to me. “I loved your grandmother,” she said. “When I married my husband many years ago, the women of the church wouldn’t accept me because I wasn’t Greek. Your grandmother was the only one to befriend me and make me feel welcome, and the other women soon followed.” Later, I imagined the scene. The other women would have incurred Efstathia’s considerable wrath if they had continued to snub this woman.

Efstathia’s greatest achievement, however, was raising money for her beloved Annunciation Church. One of her early goals was to buy kitchen equipment so the church could host an annual Greek festival. She did not wait for donations. She called members of the church and asked them for money, often telling them the amount she thought they should give. She was fierce with anyone who tried to put her off. The Greek festival, begun with the money that she raised, continues today.

When the priest visited Efstathia after she had cataract surgery, he questioned her promise that she would be raising more money. “My husband will be my eyes,” she said. “He will make the calls.” And the fund-raising continued—and continued. Through her decades-long efforts, the church thrived, expanded, and built a large church hall.

Efstathia was devoted to her son and his family. She didn’t abandon the family she had left behind in Greece either, constantly sending them clothing and money. I do not think Efstathia ever passed by anyone who was in need. She prepared countless pots and pans of her incomparable food, carefully packing containers and sending her husband to deliver them. When she found out about families in need, she brought them to the attention of the Philoptochos, the women’s organization of the Greek Orthodox Church, and she insisted that the group lend its support.

In 1981, she received the Archdiocese Laity Award from Archbishop Iakavos. It mentions her “untiring record” of more than forty years of service. As I re-read the letter, I thought about the young woman with the dark hair and determined look. The hair had turned gray and wiry, and she probably never owned another fur collar, but the determined look never went away. We who knew her remain inspired.

Presbytera's comments

When Yiayia first met me, she did NOT like me at all. First of all, I was not Greek. She had promised a trip to Greece for any of her grandchildren who married someone of Greek descent. She never did have to cough up the money even though she had 7 grandchildren. Secondly, she didn't like me because I wasn't Greek!!!! Once we were married though, she warmed up to me and taught me how to make some Greek pastries. I sat on a couch in her kitchen (yes, the kitchen was used for everything) and warmed up a pound of butter by mixing with my hands until the heat of my hands brought the butter to the correct temperature. I never told Yiayia but whenever I made kourabiathes at home, I just whipped the heck out of the butter with my KitchenAid : )

She was very supportive of us when my husband was in the Seminary. She was very proud that one of her grandchildren was going to be a Lutheran priest. Whenever we would have the opportunity to visit Cleveland, she always slipped us a twenty dollar bill which in the mid 1970's was a great amount. Her husband Demetrius, who was called Papouli by us, would then be obligated to match her donation to us. It was quite fun to see the two of them in action. She was also very generous to our first born Theo who was named after her son.

Our first year at the seminary, my husband's brother and wife visited us in St Louis. Before they boarded the plane, they needed to make a stop at Yiayia's house. She sent a cooked and hot-from-the-oven leg of lamb along with my brother-in-law. It was dutifully wrapped in layers and layers of newspaper tied with many strings. Imagine the smell going through the airline cabin from his carry-on!

When we later moved to Cleveland, she would call me everyday to ask what I was cooking. Even though she spoke little English, we somehow communicated and I quickly learned to answer that I was cooking casserole (a hot dish). Never, never would I tell her that I was feeding her grandson something like hot dogs!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

God Gave Us Pastors

This past Sunday, I attended the ordination and installation of Peeter Pirn at Unity Lutheran Church. It was a hot, sticky afternoon in a church with no air conditioning. In addition to the bulletins, the ushers were handing out bottles of water in the narthex.

The preacher was Rev. Charles Froh from San Mateo California so I knew that I would get fed from the sermon and I did! He minded us that God would use Pastor Pirn to bring us Jesus. He referred to the beautiful stained glass windows in the sanctuary which visually bring us the Christ. The attendance was terrific and we had the opportunity to see many retired area pastors and their wives.

I rarely have the chance (not that I am looking for it) to worship in other Cleveland churches. When I am not traveling, I like to worship at my home congregation Christ Lutheran Church. When I am traveling, I choose confessional churches which rely on the Liturgy to convey the truth of God's love to me.

I was pleasantly surprised that the service utilized the liturgy. I have been to this church in the past and I know that the Deliberate Interim Pastor likes to tweak the litury. He has deliberately instituted changes in several churches where he has been the interim. The one that is the most abhorrent to me is that after the Pastoral Absolution (we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.)this deliberate interim Pastor then confesses his sins to the congregation and then has the congregation absolve him of his sins. This is such a twisted tweaking of the Pastoral Office! When I hear the Absolution, those words come from Christ Himself -- using the lips of the Pastor. Hopefully, the new Pastor will turn this practice back to its Lutheran form.

The title of the post is the title of the ditty that this Deliberate Interim Pastor wrote. I think it arrogant that he would insert his own song into the installation/ordintation service since the hymnal is replete with hymns which have withstood the test of time. I did get there early enough to read the words to this ditty before the service began so I knew I could not put his words on my lips. I used the time to study the architecture and windows. When I read the words, I was reminded of St Paul writing in 1 Corinthians "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men."

1. "God calls His people, Yes! Our God calls us all; That we fulfill His task, that's all He'll ask Of those who come to Him, With their hopes, gifts and faith; His Mission here to do, For me and you!

2. Here we need God to give Us hope, help and peace, As we, live in a world That's cold and sad, Since Satan's promises Of deception and lies, We need someone to lead beyond the skies.

3. People, like sheep are lost With eyes blinded shut; Waiting for help and hope from Him Whose Name Says all we need to know, For direction through life; Giv'n us from Pastors here, Who're free from strife!

4. That's why God gave to us, His Pastors to lead Those who on Him rely, To pray and plead to Him for guidance here, In a world filled with greed. Bless all Your Pastors Lord, That us they'll feed!

5. In Scripture we are told From whom we must learn All precepts from above, And for them yearn; When urged by Prophets, false, To go on our own way. Listen instead, to You....From Pastors, true.

6. Since life on earth is filled With power, lust and ill; You gave us Pastors, Lord, Who live Your will....To garner guidance still, That Your love we fulfill. Bless all the Pastors....Yes! and shout: Amen! "

It is unbelievable to me that an LCMS Pastor of over 50 years experience could write this song. Although it names Satan, it does not name Christ. Although it is a song about pastors, it nowhere mentions preaching, Baptism, Absolution, or Holy Communion. Although it speaks about God calling us, it makes no distinction between the Call to the Public Ministry and the vocation God gives to all of us. Although the songs purports to bring us Jesus, it is a Jesus who is a lawgiver to help us through this life. Such a pity!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More Sweetness

We recently went strawberry picking being inspired by Mumme Mom! It has been many, many years since I've gone strawberry picking. So long ago that my oldest son was a toddler. Equipped with the willing hands of 2 granddaughters and my Sister-in-law Crina, I sallied forth. We originally intended going picking with a homeschool friend but that field was no longer available for u-pick. Blessedly, we located a nearby farm and off we went.

The workers........Lily



Since my knee surgery, I am not able to kneel so all my picking was done bending over from the waist. This is not the way to pick strawberries! That was the message that my back leg muscles told me for an entire week after picking! The girls enjoyed themselves and it was a perfect day. After several days in the 90's, our day was pleasant and we were so glad that it was overcast! I enjoyed talking and working with my sister-in-law Crina who grew up in Romania during the communist regime. It was interesting hearing the different foods they made and preserved. From her account, I guess Romania is populated by many plum trees : ) After awhile, Crina learned a new English saying "I am all strawberried out."

We rode back to where the car was parked on a flat bed wagon pulled by a tractor. Needless to say, the giggle girls were delighted.


We did make many containers of strawberry freezer jam, some with sugar and some with an artificial sweetner. We froze some strawberries in syrup in small containers to be enjoyed in the winter over ice cream. We also included some strawberries prepared for Mumme Mom's salad. My daughter in law Naomi was not able to pick with us but she did come help us clean, slice and cook the bounty.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Honey and My Sweeties

Last week, Lily, Marina and I were invited to my friend's home to watch honey being extracted from trays in their hive. Marina is learning to be calm around bees so we thought this would help her to see a bee and think of something other than its stinger!

After the bees fill the cells with honey, they seal the end with wax which must be removed from both sides of the frame before the honey can come out. Here you see Lydia melting the wax with a wonderful implement designed to do just this thing. It looks somewhat like a cake decorating knife crossed with an iron. Both of these pictures show the wax melting away because of the iron.

Once the wax is removed, the frames are inserted 3 at a time into the extractor. Centrifugal force causes the honey to move out and down into the bottom of the extractor.

It takes a lot of muscle power to get the extractor whipping around enough for centrifugal force to take over. Here is Lily trying her hand and muscle at the crank on the extractor. Alas, her city muscles were not developed enough to create the spin needed but she gave it a good try.

Farm women to the rescue!!! Liddy is spinning away and the honey begins to flow.

Even though we were not helpful other than cheering from the sidelines, our honey hosts graciously sent us home with some booty!

In addition, we were given some fresh turnips from their garden. I took them home, cooked them with some carrots and mashed it all together. Yummy!