Pistol Packin' Presbytera

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Grandma I Always Wanted to Be

I always imagined myself as the fun mother. I thought I would be the mother in the neighborhood that the other kids would flock to. I would spend my days baking cookies and mixing kool-aid for my sons and their friends. I never turned into that mother although I did have bursts of brilliance : ) When I became a grandmother I thought now is my chance. I turned out to be a law-giver grandma and I am disappointed that once again I don't get to be the fun one.

When you homeschool your grandchildren, you of necessity are the teacher who corrects, points out their errors, grades their tests, makes them study fact cards and puts them to the fire by giving them tests and assigning writing projects. We do have fun but this is still not the ideal of a grandmother I have in my head.

When Theodore was just turning two, his mother Danylle was occupied with baby Dean and his father was playing organ at a different church. I happily sat with them and once again I became the law-giver grandma who taught Theodore (as I had Marina previously) to sit quietly, to not be a distraction to other worshippers and to participate as much as his age allowed. Soon Dean was of the age to be thoroughly instructed in church etiquette and since another child is coming in January, Dean will probably be sitting next to Grandma.

But today was a different day. We went to the park and they played their hearts out. I sat and knitted a top for my soon to be born great niece Zoe while they ran, climbed, slid and played on the swings. When they were worn out from the playground equipment, we walked by the lake and observed the ducks and geese. We finished our morning with baking chocolate chip cookies. Each helped with some of the ingredients and they were thrilled. After we had lunch, I took them home with a supply of cookies and at least one memory of Grandma -- the fun one.

I finally have a day as the Grandma I always wanted to be. I am happy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Little Greek, a Little German

In our house the meals are varied. Some nights we eat at one restaurant and other nights we eat at a different restaurant. And then sometimes, I cook. Tonight we had a little bit of Greek and a little bit of German cooked at home.

This side dish of spinach & feta is very easy and I invite you to try it. I cooked frozen chopped spinach in the microwave and drained it well. I moistened it then with olive oil and lemon juice, seasoned it with salt and topped it off with crumbled feta cheese. This is one delicious healthy green vegetable!

These potatoes are called Grandpa's Potatoes and they are named after my father. He would grill these potatoes in foil pouches when he had his children and grandchildren over for a cookout. You can put them in foil packets and put them on the grill or in the oven. Tonight I fried them on top of the stove. I diced potatoes, chopped onions, added salt, pepper and garlic powder and then added the magic ingredient (pictured below) and cooked it all in olive oil. Oh my was this good!

My husband's father warned him that if he married a German, all he would be eating was meat and potatoes. Well, he did get the meat (we grilled western ribs) and potatoes tonight but that was NOT all. He also got Greek style spinach. Maybe we should open Zorba's Schnitzel House or Hulda's Grecian Delight. Whaddya think?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I Will Lift Up My Eyes

In my trip this spring to Texas, I had the opportunity to take some pictures of some of the ecclesiastical art which is inside Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston. I love this Christ the Lord of Life sculpture. Can you imagine being a child and staring up at this life size Jesus and then imagine yourself in His arms? What a picture of the Gospel this is.

This banner is most unusual and yet so full of meaning. We read in the Old Testament about the covering for the Ark of the Covenant. The word for the covering is Atonement and once a year, the High Priest would sprinkle blood on the cover for the forgiveness of sins. The same word is used in Genesis when Adam and Eve were covered -- once again it took the shedding of blood (in this case an animal) to provide the covering. On this banner, it is quite apparent that Jesus is the Atonement -- once and for all for our sins.

The sculpture here is entitled The Risen Christ. I can picture our Risen Lord proclaiming the victory over sin, death and the power of the evil one. Art like this is instructive, didactic and gives us pause to meditate when we view it. Oh, that all our churches were filled with sights, sounds and smells which lift us out of our ordinary dreary daily life and cause us to lift up our eyes to the Eternal God.

Pastors Playing

What do pastors do when they get together to have fun? Study the Bible? Discuss theological points? Show each other their new vestments? These 2 pastors are practicing their self defense techniques. We all know how handy that is for a pastor!

Here are the same pastors using the good heads that God gave them to figure out how to fit a microwave in this space.

The vented hood is still there instead of the microwave. Eventually they do remove the hood, modify the space and use some of those muscles developed in self defense class to get the microwave up and in. For a pastor, this is called playing or going on vacation.

Another way that pastors relax and play is to strap on a bullet resistant Kevlar vest and go out into the dark jungle of the inner city and ride around looking for trouble. I'm fairly certain that these two did actually find trouble the night they went out. What a way to play!

Lay Down Your Life

On July 1st I attended a memorial service with my chaplain husband for Patrolman Rob Clark. It was held at a park in the 1st District of the Cleveland Police Department. The memorial was constructed so that the people of the area would remember this officer who gave his life for them.

This is a yearly event and the brief memorial service is followed by a cookout complete with this dessert cake. It seems ironic or better yet, bittersweet that such a sweet concoction would bear the shield of the fallen officer.

My husband always bring the Word of God to these memorial services so that people are fed spiritually. The law is ever before the people at the memorial -- Rob's wife, his mother, his sisters. It is apparent that the law of death has taken Rob away from his loved ones. The Chaplain is the one who uses God's Word to point to Jesus the One who laid down His life willingly so that Rob would have eternal life. The politicians, other officers and Officer Clark's family remind us of the love that Rob had for the people of Cleveland. The Chaplain reminds them of the LOVE that God has for each of us -- enough to send His Son to pay for the sins of the world.

Here is a closeup of the brass marker at the memorial.

No police memorial or funeral is complete without a bagpipe. This bagpiper started in the back of the crowd and slowly walked through the group playing Amazing Grace. He then paused in front facing the memorial for a short while. He continued his mournful playing while marching away so that the sound eventually faded into the distance.

This shows the exact reason the memorial was built. The child is being taught by his mother that there is a cost to living in a civilized society. There are evil people intent on harming us and there is a wall of blue which stands between evil and us. Sometimes, police officers are called upon to enter extremely dangerous situations. Sometimes, they do not return. The police officer is the mask of God for us. God uses the police officer to protect and defend us. I don't know if that is what the mother is telling the child, but that is what I would say.

For a police officer, the shield represents him. When my husband found a shield in the rubble of the twin towers, it was treated as if he had found the officer himself. So I close this post with this rememberance of Detective Robert Clark.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Dictionary.com defines Americana as : Materials relating to American history, folklore, or geography or considered to be typical of American culture: These 2 pictures are americana to me. The first looks like it could be anyone's grandma icing a cookie. It was taken at our local Eat 'n Park. You can stand in the lobby and through a glass window watch the smiley cookies being frosted. The woman is intent on her vocation and will bring joy to countless children with her decorated cookies! The American flag adds a certain nostalgia for me.

This second picture is more personal since it has my dear husband and 2 of my grandchildren. Lily and Marina had never been to a neighborhood diner where they could eat at the counter. Needless to say, they were thrilled to eat right at the counter. You can even see the grill and the cook in the background. They spent some time twirling on and enjoying the counter seats. It brought to mind a time when I was younger. Lunch counters were the only places we ever went OUT to eat. We would walk to the corner of the nearest major intersection, Clark and W.25th and then had the choice of Marshall's Drug Store or Honecker's Drug Store. Each had a counter and each provided delicious sodas and ice cream concoctions. This was the neighborhood everything-but-groceries store. We took our vaccum tubes from our TV's to be tested there and to get new vacuum tubes. You could buy smelly perms in a box there and penny candy.

The only time I ate an entire meal at the counter was when my Mom worked parttime at the Woolworth Dime Store. At my lunch hour from elementary school (yes it was an entire hour because kids walked home and they didn't need the extra time for dental hygiene and sex education) , I walked 2 blocks and sat at the counter and had a cheeseburger and a coke. What a treat! I was 15 before I ever ate at a McDonalds.

I also remember eating at a lunch counter in 1965 with my oldest brother Gary. After my mom was in a car accident, I lived with Gary for several months. I'm guessing he was mid 20's at the time. My favorite dessert at the time was a Boston Cream Pie. Gary took me to have dinner at CJ's Sandwich shop and there, displayed in a glass case right before my eyes and salivating mouth, was a piece of Boston Cream Pie. What a kind brother to give me such a treat after our supper.

Our granddaughters enjoyed the lunch counter and my husband and I enjoyed the walk down memory lane that their excitement generated for us.

Reaping What I Have Sewn

Here is the culprit! Besides loving purple and cats and chocolate (as any reader to this blog can attest), I also love hats. Early this summer, my friend Ruth and I went to the Hattery which has more hats than I do! I fell in love with this lovely blue hat but I had absolutely nothing to wear which would go with it.

I have a dress which I have worn for over 10 years -- if you have ever seen me when I am traveling I was probably wearing this dress. I can throw it in a suitcase and take it out and I am good to go. The size is a free size. The ties in the back make it so that it is one size fits all. Very comfortable. I have worn it so much that the seams were beginning to shred and you can only fix a shred so many times : ) So BTEG helped me make a pattern from the pieces parts of the old dress. See - Evil Geniuses really come in handy!

My other friend and Barb helped me out by accompanying me to the fabric store and helping me decide which material would suit my need. I wanted something which was not polyester -- our church is not airconditioned and when I wear polyester I feel like I am wrapped in Saran Wrap. This material fit the bill perfectly and so began my sewing project.

Cutting out the pattern pieces was no problem. The challenge was in the sewing. The last time I sewed a dress from a pattern was in the mid 70's. My sister-in-law Marty did quite a bit of sewing and she helped me tremendously as I struggled with carbon seam lines and darts. We decided on a Friday to sew new Easter dresses for ourselves and we did by that Sunday! The other challenge is that my very ancient sewing machine has a tension setting that sometimes works and sometimes not. This is my third used-passed-down-machine and I have been thrilled that it actually has a backstitch : ) Since all I basically used the machine for was mending (and fixing my shredding seams), it really never bothered me.

As you can see, I did manage to sew my way clear to a new dress. I really enjoyed making this and was quite impressed with myself : ) BTEG did an excellent job of describing how to follow her handwritten pattern. She also taught me how to make a French seam.

I enjoyed myself so much that I went on to make 2 more dresses! And now....maybe a new machine so that I'll get the tension right????