Saturday, February 6, 2016

Flowering in the Face of the Storm

                                   Do we have the courage to flower in the face of the storm?
                    Looking east at 10 AM Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, Newton Corner, Massachusetts

Friday, February 5, 2016

A 21st Century Miracle!

A policeman pulls over a car in which he finds a member of the clergy.  "Reverend, have you been drinking?" asks the policeman.  
"Yes, but I’m just drinking water!" answers the reverend.  
"Isn’t that a bottle of wine beside you?"  replies the policeman.
"Oh, my God," intones the reverend. "Miracle of miracles. He’s done it again!"                                                                           With thanks to Gary Lind-Senanian

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bacon, Brussel Sprouts and Pecans!

 Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Pecans

Last minute invitation to dinner last night (actually Marash Girl invited herself to dinner) found Marash Girl confronting a vegetable she always thought she hated, but her friend changed that prejudice in a hurry.  How?  She combined brussel sprouts with Marash Girl's favorites: bacon and pecans. 
Here's how.

Prepare bacon on stove top until crisp.  Pour off most of the bacon fat and with what's remaining, stir fry the (already trimmed, cleaned and rinsed) brussel sprouts with shelled pecans. (She was going to saute onions first in the bacon fat, but having no onions or scallions, she proceeded . . .)  Add white wine. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Place pan in oven and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  Remove pan from oven, add bacon bits, stir up, and serve.  Delicious (even if you hate brussel sprouts)!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Marash Martha's Blueberry Muffins

Marash Martha’s Home-Made Plump Blueberry Muffins



2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp Vanilla extra
[optional - 1 cup finely chopped walnuts]

In a separate bowl sprinkle/coat 1.5 cups fresh blueberries with 1/2 cup flour.

By hand, gently fold the floured blueberries into the whirled ingredients of the mixmaster (after you've stopped the mixmaster from whirling!)

Preheat oven to 425F. Divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups and bake for 5 minutes at 
425F, then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the heat to 375 F and bake for another 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Note: Every time Marash Martha makes these, she remembers Mommy's muffins! The best!   Like mother, like daughter! Mommy taught us the trick of tossing the blueberries with a little flour (this keeps the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffin)!! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Esh Mart

The Marash event this past Sunday caused much reminiscing in the home of Marash Boy and Marash Girl. Marash Boy was remembering the expression used both by his Uncle Ed (who walked out of Marash during the famous snow storm) and his father-in-law Peter (who rode out of Marash on a "jackass", as Peter would love to put it, in 1920).  The two of them loved to use the word "eshmart".  Marash Girl always thought that they were calling some one "smart" imitating the "old country" accent, as they were wont to do on occasion.  But Marash Boy reminded Marash Girl that this was a play on words, a play on words that depended on one's knowledge of English and Armenian and the accented English spoken by Armenians from the old country.

So what does eshmart (or usmart) mean?  Well, for one, it means smart (with an Armenian accent). And if you know Armenian, and if you knew Peter and Ed, you would know that they were making fun of someone that everyone thought was smart, but that they knew was "esh mart", literally a "jackass man"!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sheriff Peter Koutoujian Speaks at the Annual Commemoration of the Heroic Defense of Marash

Sheriff Peter Koutoujian holding is daughter at the annual commemoration of the Heroic Defense of Marash (1920)
Photo by Marash Girl

Honored guest Sheriff Peter Koutoujian spoke to over 200 people gathered in the hall of St. Stephen's Armenian Apostolic Church yesterday remembering the Marashtsis who died in the defense of their city, remembering his father Peter Koutoujian who passed away a year ago, and remembering his grandfather who immigrated to the United States from Marash early in the 20th Century.  Sheriff Koutoujian assured the audience:  "Today we are all Marashtsis.  We remember and mourn the losses of our ancestors during those terrible days . . ."

                                            Also in attendance were Marashtsi cousins
                    left to right:  Ara Demirjian and Levon Charkoudian . . . Photo by Marash Girl 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Must we be hit over the head before we get the message?

Today, walking by her shelves of books, one book in particular came flying off the shelf (for no apparent reason other than its title . . . or perhaps to give Marash Girl something to write about) and knocked into her before it landed on the floor.  Reaching down to replace it on the shelf, Marash Girl got the message:

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fleeing from Marash in a Snowstorm

At NAASR's Thursday night's talk on Humanitarianism, historian Keith David Watenpaugh referred to the Armenians fleeing Marash in 1920 during a snowstorm (snow rarely fell in that region), the Armenians following the French army who had abandoned the Armenians in Marash, stealing out in the middle of the night, covering their horses'  hooves in burlap so that no one would hear their departure (ref. Marash Girl's interview with Steve Balyozian oral history, 1973), leaving the Armenians who had already suffered and lost so much, to once again suffer and lose so much.  In those days, the women carried their babies on their backs, and doing so in the snowstorm, most of the women were walking with dead babies on their backs, never realizing that the babies were no longer alive.  Not so Auny Nectar.  Now the story.

Growing up, Marash Girl loved her Aunty Azad but always wondered why Aunty's eft eyelid was droopy, unlike the eyelids of other folks in her family.

Marash Girl's father Peter told the tale.

During the exodus from Marash in the snowstorm of 1920, Marash Girl's Great Auntie Nectar and Great Uncle Karekin walked with the Marashtsis away from Marash, away from their homes, away from certain death into the snow, into an unknown future.  They had with them a wee baby, Azadouhi, a baby Auntie Nectar carried until, having tired, gave the baby to her husband, Uncle Karekin.  Uncle Karekin, facing the blizzard, starving and barely able to walk himself, did the best he could.  Miles into the walk away from Marash, Nectar turned to Karekin.  "Where's the baby?" she asked.  Karekin, slight of frame, admitted that he  had been unable to carry the baby any longer and had put baby Azadouhi down in the snow.  Nectar, screaming with rage, turned back to Marash, and walked the mile (was it a mile? was it longer?)  in the snowstorm to find her baby by the side of the road, not yet completely covered with snow.  She gathered the baby up into her arms and with long, energetic strides, an energy no doubt made of fury and determination, returned to the group of exiting Armenian Marashtsis, Armenian Marashtsis leaving their homeland, leaving all they knew, but NOT leaving their children behind.

The baby was Marash Girl's Aunty Azad.  Aunty Azad's eyelid had frozen in the snow, but Aunty Azad had survived, thanks to the courage of her mother Nectar.

Friday, January 29, 2016

BREAD FROM STONES - The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism: An illustrated talk by Historian Keith David Watenpaugh

Watenpaugh reads from his book BREAD FROM STONES
at NAASR in Belmont, Massachusetts, yesterday evening.

Historian Keith David Watenpaugh

Prof. Keith David Watenpaugh, historian of the Modern Middle East and Professor and Director of Human Rights Studies at UC Davis, graced the halls of the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research (Belmont, Massachusetts) yesterday evening, with a reading and discussion of his most recent book, Bread from Stones: The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism, Univ. of CA Press, 2015. 

Having studied at UCLA, Watenpaugh lived and conducted research in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Armenia and Iraq.  His talk focussed primarily on the missionaries in Aintep and Marash, (much to the delight of  Marash Girl,) and more specifically on Stanley Kerr, author of Lions of Marash (see Kerr in photo on right, seated in foreground second from left). 

As promised, Watenpaugh's talk clarified the humanitarian efforts on behalf of the Armenian people during the "genocide and mass violence, human trafficking, and displacement of millions in the early twentieth century..." Watenpaugh said he really couldn't understand the impetus behind the humanitarian efforts. . . although his title, a Biblical reference, would suggest that it was exactly that (Christian faith) that led to the humanitarian efforts on behalf of the Armenian people. Tough as it was to hear, once again, the horrendous accounts of the (relatively speaking) recent history of the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman government, unlike the Armenian orphans of the early 20th Century, the Armenian audience last night did not burst into tears, although Marash Girl can't imagine why not. Are we so inured to the pain?
Title page of BREAD FROM STONES inscribed
and signed by author Keith David Watenpaugh
Dr. Paul Barsam presents his
freshly autographed copy of

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pot-Sized Spaghetti

The latest in the world of "building a better mousetrap" is a grocery item labeled "pot-sized spaghetti"!  No longer must you engage in the back wrenching effort of breaking your spaghetti in half before throwing it into the pot of boiling salted water, nor shall you ever again stand there holding a handful of long strands of spaghetti in a pot of boiling water until the strands soften up and enter the water whole.  Now all you have to do is throw a box of pot-sized spaghetti into your grocery shopping cart, go home, and, after you engage in the great effort of boiling water (have you learned to boil water yet?), you will have to open the box, and toss the already shortened strands of spaghetti into the pot.  Do you think you can do that?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

HInts for a Happy Marriage from Kahlil Gibran and Mother Goose

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.”  ― Kahlil GibranThe Prophet

Above is one of Marash Girl's favorite passages and perhaps the secret to a long and happy marriage and a long and happy family life (yes, it goes for parents and children too!)

Granted the metaphor Marash Girl offers below is somewhat of a reach, and this may be considered sacrilege, but didn't Mother Goose say it first ?

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
and doesn't know where to find them;
leave them alone, and they'll come home,
wagging their tails behind them.

Well, you get the point.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

“Who Today Remembers”: Portraits of Survivors by Mary Hilt

Armenian Genocide Survivor
Watercolor by Mary Hilt

“Who Today Remembers”: Portraits of Survivors by Mary Hilt 

On Sunday, January 24, 2016, while folks were digging out of the snowstorm that came down the night before, and just before the GAME (the Patriots were playing Denver), ALMA celebrated the opening of "Who Today Remembers" with an opening gallery talk by the artist, Mary Hilt who, in the 1990's, interviewed survivors of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks against their Armenian citizens (1915-1922).  Hilt painted watercolors of the individuals she had just interviewed, capturing in those watercolors the essence of the survivor.  Marash Girl herself was approached to identify the subject of one of the paintings, but unfortunately did not recognize the person in the painting who, up until that time, the artist thought was Peter Bilezikian.

Artist Mary Hilt talks about her experience interviewing and painting
survivors of the Armenian Genocide in the 1990's..

Monday, January 25, 2016

It's snowing down south!

The snow in Takoma Park, Maryland, was not pink, but it was deep!
It was snowing down south -- no, really -- no, your slip was NOT showing (not that you'd being wearing a slip in this day and age).  It was really snowing down south -- much more than here in Boston.  2 feet of snow down south, with a travel ban in New York City!

Add a full moon to boot, and they got extra high tides: it was not only snowing down south, but it was flooding down south -- all along the eastern seaboard!

But snow with wind?  Here's advice for your next snow storm --  Don't overexert yourself, but in an effort to make things easier, do a little at a time . . . if it's windy out there, don't start shoveling your walk until the storm is over, or you'll be doing it all twice!  Your shoveled walk will be the recipient of your neighbor's snow drifting into whatever space it can find!

This is how one public minded New Yorker, (a family member who lives on Wall Street) dealt with the snow:  "I decided to shovel a couple of corners of intersections we'll need to traverse with the baby stroller on Monday en route to daycare." 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fire Alarm at Chestnut Hill Mall

This past Friday, while shopping at the Chestnut Hill Mall, a fire alarm began to toll, and the lights started flashing.  No one cared. Things continued as usual.  A man sitting with his young son outside of the shops inside of the mall, continued sitting.  Folks continued browsing.  Marash Girl began to doubt herself. . . "That's a fire alarm isn't it?" she asked the mall guard who was standing at the outer door to the mall as Marash Girl emerged.  "Yes," he answered, but it's only practice. . ."  "Practice? But no one's practicing!" exclaimed Marash Girl.  "Spoiled, we Americans! We believed that all is well no matter what we see or hear around us."  The guard just shrugged. Marash Girl walked over to her car, started the engine, and drove out of the parking lot and left onto the main road, where she encountered three fire engines with their sirens screeching, the engines racing to the Chestnut Hill Mall.  Was that a test for them as well?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

On Making Banana Bread

How many times has Marash Girl written on the subject of banana bread?  Well, she's making that tasty sweet bread again today.  Why?  Why not!  Seriously, though, because a friend asked Marash Girl to bring dessert to her home for dinner tomorrow night, because a snowstorm is in the forecast for today, because the weather is grey, damp, cold and windy,  and most importantly, because Marash Girl has a bowl full of overripe bananas (overripe because the heat has been turned up so high for so long -- New England winters, get it?)  Off to make the banana bread now . . . no time for writing lengthy missives!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ghosts or Guilt?

There they were, standing at the foot of the bed, just looking at her, not saying a word.  She was lying on the 18th Century bed in the 17th Century summer house on the coast of Maine, the house she had acquired in payment for the loans she had made to her paramour, the house that had been in her paramour's family for centuries, the house that would now belong to her descendants. . . Three ghostly women dressed in clothing of an earlier time, stood in silent witness, staring at the woman who had taken their family home, a home that had been theirs since the beginning of their time. . . a home that had been meant for their family alone . . . they stood silently staring at the young usurper who lived to tell the tale.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

"If it weren't for the Turks, not one Armenian would be alive today!" Peter Bilezikian

Marash Girl apologizes for being so late with her post today, but she had to finish the murder mystery she could not put down and then meet college classmates for lunch.  But before meeting college classmates (yes, believe it or not, Marash Girl did attend college), she met with an old friend, Alfred Demirjian.  Alfred was remembering Marash Girl's father Peter, and remembering how he always said (and Marash Girl can attest to this), "If it were not for the Turks, not one Armenian would be alive today."  In fact, Alfred said that many a Turkish friend came in with the newspaper article (The Boston Globe) in which Peter was quoted saying exactly that:   "If it were not for the Turks, not one Armenian would be alive today."  Now you may ask, "How could an Armenian Genocide survivor say such a thing?"  And Marash Girl asks you, "How could an Armenian Genocide survivor not say such a thing?" If it were not for the "good Turk", the good Turkish neighbors, the good Turkish friends in high up places in the Ottoman government, true enough for both Marash Girl's family and Marash Boy's family, families that would not have survived if it were not for a Turk who risked his/her life or his/her family's lives in order to save Armenian lives.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bats in the Belfry? Guess again!

An educated woman, the wife of a preacher, and a born-again Christian, told Marash Girl one autumn that there were ghosts living in her attic.  Ghosts?  Marash Girl asked, and from her tone of voice, the friend knew Marash Girl was not buying her "ghost" story. 

"Come by and hear for yourself!" the friend challenged Marash Girl.

Marash Girl agreed to go visiting, thinking, "Could there be bats in the belfry?'  (Just joking!) When she arrived at the house to check out those "ghosts" in the attic, there were indeed footsteps running back and forth across the ceiling/qua attic floor.  

"Those aren't ghosts," said Marash Girl!  "They're squirrels! It's nearly winter, after all, and it's cold outside!  You need to call someone to catch those varmints before they take over your house!"

Sure enough, when the friend called an animal exterminator (NOT a ghostbuster), the exterminator's traps were soon alive with grey squirrels, and the footsteps in the attic were no more.

Even if there were ghosts in the attic, Marash Girl's friend wouldn't have been able to hear them walking across her attic floor, now, would she?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"Family Pictures" by Susan Kricorian: A New Exhibition at the Armenian Museum of America, Watertown, Massachusetts

The artist Susan Kricorian and her children pose in front of the Susan's  painting of her father, Eddie Krikorian. The artist's grandmother was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide.
Mari Kricorian, the artist's grandmother, loving.
Mari Kricorian, her daughter -in-law Irene and her two grandchildren, Nancy and Susan (held in her mother's arms)
on Lincoln Street in Watertown, Massachusetts, painted by Nancy Kricorian from a photo taken in the 1950's.
                         Eddie Kricorian (the artist's father) stocking shelves in the family grocery store.

The exhibit "Family Pictures" at the Armenian Museum of America (3rd floor gallery), Watertown Square, opened Sunday at a site not more than a mile from where the photos inspiring these works of art were originally taken. "Family Pictures" has particular meaning for Marash Girl, as the artist and her family pictured in these paintings were a part of Marash Girl's childhood.  Mari Kricorian (the artist's grandmother), Eddie Kricorian (the artist's father), Irene Kricorian (the artist's mother), Nancy Kricorian (the artist's sister, author of the book ZABELLE), and Susan Krikorian, the artist herself, attended the United Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church in Watertown, the church in which Marash Girl's Uncle Vartan preached, the church in which Marash Girl was raised. Conversing with the artist's mother, Marash Girl asked Irene how it was that both her daughters were artists.  The answer:  "I never allowed them to watch television.  I always gave them pencil, paper, and crayons with which they could entertain themselves. . . and they're paternal grandfather was not only the owner of a grocery store, but a cabinet maker and artist in his own right!"  Reminiscing further, Irene Kricorian (the artist's mother) reminded Marash Girl that, at the first book signing for Zabelle (a novel written by Irene's daughter Nancy Kricorian and published in 1998), her daughter Nancy was asked, "Why did you write a novel based on your grandmother's life?" Nancy's reply:  "I wanted to write a book about an ordinary woman."  Marash Girl's father, Peter Bilezikian, rose out of his seat and exclaimed, "Your grandmother was no ordinary woman!"

And, if Peter Bilezikian were here today, he would concur that Grandmother Mari Kricorian's grandchildren are no "ordinary women"!

Monday, January 18, 2016

God Always Answers Prayer

Marash Girl remembers a sermon she once heard at the United Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church in Watertown, Massachusetts. Was it her Uncle Vartan  who preached the following?

God always answers prayer.  God may not answer your prayer the way you want the prayer to be answered, but God always answers prayer.

Marash Girl is certain that Martin Luther AND Martin Luther King would agree . . .

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Turkey CONFRONTS Its Critics?

Not to put too fine a point on it, yesterday's Wall Street Journal reported that  "Turkey Confronts Its Critics".  How about, "Turkey Arrests Its Critics"! According to the Wall Street Journal, "The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who on Friday visited the site of this week's suicide-bomb attack in Istanbul, temporarily detained at least 12 scholars who signed a letter criticizing Turkey's fight against Kurdish rebels."

As an Armenian Armerican, Marash Girl is all too aware of the arrests and hangings of the Armenian intellectuals by the Young Turk Government in 1915, an action that foreshadowed the beginning of the Armenian Genocide when over 1.5 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire (Armenians, citizens of the Ottoman Empire, living in Marash, Aintep, Diarbekir, Harpout . . . and on, and on) were ultimately sent to their death . . . among them two of Marash Girl's great grandmothers who lived, yes, in Marash, Turkey (Ottoman Empire).

Saturday, January 16, 2016


After a cup of hot chocolate at Starbuck's this week, Marash Girl was reminded by her friend Nancy: "You have to prayoritize."  Whether a slip of the tongue, or simple philosophizing, it's the best advice Marash Girl has been given in a long time.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Which of the two wolves wins?

An old Indian explains to his young son that each of us has within us two wolves that battle.
The first wolf represents serenity, love, and gentility.
The second wolf represesents fear, avarice and hatred.
"Which of the two wolves wins?" asks the child.
"The one that we nourish,"  the grandfather responds.

With thanks to Andrea Colls-Halpern for this post.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

No one is perfect!

Okay, so Marash Girl decided to invite a college classmate to brunch the next morning.  No sweat, right?  Wrong!  She assumed all was well, until she checked the refrigerator and there were very few strawberries left for her strawberry banana salad; no problem. Marash Boy went out at 8:30 PM the night before the brunch to purchase strawberries from Whole Foods.  There were none -- fresh or frozen!  Okay, Marash Girl decided to simply put more bananas than strawberries in the salad.  No problem.

The day of the brunch had arrived. Marash Girl was going to make waffles, her favorite, but when she went to the cupboard, the cupboard was bare!  No King Arthur Flour -- her old standby.  Only gluten free flour "with an easy cup for cup exchange".  If she hadn't learned by this late in life, she would never learn.  She made the exchange and much to her dismay, the texture of the waffles was sticky, sticky, sticky.

Oh, well,  she could at least make the parsley and egg omelets --  her mother's standby!  What happened?  She was in such a hurry that she used her new cuisinart to chop the parsley.  Mistake!  The parsley was chopped perfectly, fine, but far too fine for the dish she was preparing. No problem.  Marash Girl's classmate may not know the difference  . . .  unless, of course, her guest's family used to make this Armenian favorite the way it should have been made -- with very coarsely chopped parsley!  

On to the coffee.  The coffee.  Marash Girl makes it every day with paper filters in her glass coffee pots (which, by the way, they still sell at the Mall -- Marash Boy and Marash Girl thought that these coffee makers had died in the '70's! )  But once again, no luck.  The coffee, for some reason, broke through the paper filters when she poured the hot water into the cone (something she does every day), and she had mud to serve rather than her deliciously fresh brewed coffee.

Oh, well.  Hopefully her classmate will be relieved to know that even Marash Girl is not the perfect "Dandigin"!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How Peter Learned To Swim

“Well, it’s easy,” I says. “All yuh need is a little confidence. Duh way I loined, me older bruddeh pitched me off duh dock one day when I was eight yeahs old, cloes an’ all. ‘You’ll swim,’ he says. ‘You’ll swim all right—or drown.’ An’, believe me, I swam! When yuh know yuh got to, you’ll do it. Duh only t’ing yuh need is confidence. An’ once you’ve loined,” I says, “you’ve got nuttin’ else to worry about. You’ll neveh forgit it. It’s somp’n dat stays with yuh as long as yuh live.”   
Above is an excerpt from ONLY THE DEAD KNOW BROOKLYN by Thomas Wolfe, published in the June 15, 1935 issue of The New Yorker.

It could have been Marash Girl's father Peter writing this tale . . . except he would have been speaking in the perfect English of the streets of Brighton (Massachusetts), not Brooklyn (New York).
Marash Girl's guess is the sink or swim philosophy worked until it didn't, in which case, hopefully, the pals would jump in and save their floundering friend.  At least Marash Girl prays that they would!

N.B. Most Armenian kids coming from Marash did not know how to swim, either because there were no ponds readily available for swimming, or because their parents feared for their children's lives.  Marash Girl does know that Marash Boy's mom forbid him to go swimming . . . for that very reason.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


So there we all were at the breakfast table celebrating Cecie's 15th birthday when John said (in relation to what, I can't remember), "You remember OZYMANDIAS!"

And then, right there in the middle of a 15 year old's birthday breakfast, it came back to me -- my father's frequent reminder of Ozymandias.  Did he (my father or John) believe that we (Cecie or I) had visions of grandeur . . . of overweening self-worth?  Or were they simply sharing their worldly wisdom.  In any case, Marash Girl will share her worldly wisdom with you, right here.

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

Note: Ozymandias is regarded as among Shelley's most famous works.  Wikipedia has the following to say about the poem:  "In antiquity, Ozymandias was a Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Shelley began writing his poem in 1817, soon after the announcement of the British Museum's acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Ramesses II from the thirteenth century BC, leading some scholars to believe that Shelley was inspired by this. The 7.25-ton fragment of the statue's head and torso had been removed in 1816 from the mortuary temple of Ramesses at Thebes by Italian adventurer Giovanni Battista Belzoni. It was expected to arrive in London in 1818, but did not arrive until 1821.[5][6] Shelley wrote the poem in friendly competition with his friend and fellow poet Horace Smith (1779–1849), who also wrote a sonnet on the same topic with the very same title. Smith's poem was first published in The Examiner a few weeks after Shelley's sonnet. Both poems explore the fate of history and the ravages of time: that all prominent figures and the empires that they build are impermanent and their legacies fated to decay and oblivion."

Here is Horace Smith's poem with the same subject, with the same title.

by Horace Smith

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone, 
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws 
The only shadow that the Desart knows:- 
'I am great OZYMANDIAS,' saith the stone, 
'The King of Kings; this mighty City shows 
'The wonders of my hand.'- The City's gone,- 
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose 
The site of this forgotten Babylon. 

We wonder, and some Hunter may express 
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness 
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace, 
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess 
What powerful but unrecorded race 
Once dwelt in that annihilated place. 

What made one poem famous, and the other lost in the annals of time?  There are reasons, Marash Girl is certain.  Can you provide one?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cutie Little Sweet Peppers or Burning Hot Devils?

Cutie Little Sweet  Peppers or Burning Hot Devils? Don't know until you taste them!  A metaphor for life?

One bite and we were on fire.  What to do to quell the burning?  Eat bread?  No luck.  Call the doctor? It was too late and we could barely speak for the fire in our mouths -- and now in our eyes (all over our hands)!  Try eating honey . . . Our daughter had just taken our bottle of honey to her home in Western Massachusetts, so no honey.  Ice?  Didn't help.  Bread?  Take my word for it; it doesn't help.  Butter?  A bit better but only a bit.  The only "think" left was downing a shot of tequila.  It worked!
(If you check out the comments below, you'll see that a shot of milk will do just as well!)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Tracts? Or the Good Life?

When Marash Girl was five years old, she returned home from church (the United Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church where her grandfather's brother, Great Uncle Vartan, was preacher) with a handful of Christian "tracts".

"What are you going to do with those tracts?" her father Peter queried.

"I'm going to take them to all of our neighbors to tell them about Jesus!" answered little Marash Girl.

Marash Girl's father stood up and taught one of the most important lessons he had ever taught.  "When folks ask you what it is about you that causes you to live the good life, THEN you can tell them."

Sorry to have to admit this, but Marash Girl has yet to be asked.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

"If every Christian . . ."

"If every Christian lived the Christian life, everybody would want to be a Christian!"  Peter Bilezikian would often proclaim to his children.  A good lesson in living and not talking the life!

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Mystery of the Disappearing Car

Christmas morning, and Marash Boy, age 4, found a kid's pedal car under the Christmas Tree at 17 Dearborn Street, Springfield, his home.  He was thrilled.  He rode in his little car throughout the house --  from the living room into the dining room, from the dining room into the kitchen, from the kitchen into the hallway and all the way down the hallway until he reached the living room where he would take a sharp turn to the left and start his trip all over again.  But two days later, his pedal car had disappeared.  He was sad, but dared not ask the car's whereabouts for fear of hurting his parents.  That same day, he went with his mother on a shopping trip down town, and there he saw, in the window of their friend's cobbler shop, his little car.  He saw but said nothing, swallowing his hurt, but 14 years later, he built his own car, a car he rode throughout Springfield, Massachusetts, and later, as a Harvard student, throughout the Harvard and Radcliffe campuses, carrying with him the prettiest girls in town.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Goodbye, Caroline, May God Be With You

Caroline's Holiday Message to the World
People really do die of pneumonia.  Caroline Rand Herron, long time friend and Radcliffe classmate, New York Times writer and editor, long time resident and community activist in Truro, Massachusetts, passed away this week. She had had three different strains of pneumonia.   I'm sure she's screaming as loudly as she can, "GET YOUR PNEUMONIA SHOT," but, at the end, she did not die of pneumonia.  While in Brooklyn to attend to the issue of repeated pneumonia, she died of an asthma attack that was so severe, the emergency folks could not reach her in time to save her life. . . Were she still with us, Marash Girl is certain she would have  more than a few acerbic words to say to them . . . We will miss her words, both spoken and written.

Goodbye, Caroline, May God Be With You.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

On Armenian Christmas

 The First Christmas from an Ancient Armenian Illuminated Manuscript

"The Armenian Church celebrates the holy birth (Sourp Dznount) of Jesus Christ on January 6. In Armenian tradition, this feast day commemorates not only the birth of Christ, but also His baptism by John the Baptist. The latter is remembered through the 'Blessing of Water"' ceremony, which follows the Divine Liturgy on January 6."

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Love Their Faults

Advice to those about to marry from Marash Girl's father:  Anyone can love someone for their "good points".  The question is whether or not you can love the person's "bad points".   If you can live with those, you'll be fine.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Frank Stella and Arppie

Yesterday, as Marash Girl listed a "coffee table book" for sale (FRANK STELLA, a volume published in 1970 by the Museum of Modern Art) she remembered Arppie.   Yes, it's the new year and Marash Girl continues to remember with love the wonderful people who have been a part of her life.  Arppie, Marash Boy's sister, (someone who, by the way, visited Marash in 1962 or thereabouts, not with a group but on her own), was not only the International President of the Armenian Relief Society, but she was the Director of the Jorgensen Auditorium at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut; as such, she always invited her friends and relatives to University concerts and art openings.  It was during one of these events that Marash Girl became aware of Frank Stella's work.  And she has been a fan of Frank Stella ever since.  [And it's important to note here that Marash Girl has always been a fan of (God rest her soul) Arppie!]

Pages from William Rubin's work on Frank Stella published by MOMA in 1970.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Cousin Herald and the Bag of Chocolate Chips

Who doesn't like chocolate chips?  Stop reading right now if you don't.  For those of you who know (or knew) the love for chocolate chips, read on.

Grandma Jennie loved to bake and would often bake chocolate chip cookies, but her kids loved the chips whether or not they were surrounded by cookie dough.  Thus, in the interest of keeping chips on hand for her baking needs (which were often, as she entertained frequently and generously), Grandma Jennie placed her bag of gold . . . er, chocolate chips. . . on the topmost shelf of the kitchen cabinet,  just above the Westinghouse electric stove, and just to the left of the cellar door.

Try as they might, the kids could not reach those chocolate chips; that is, they could not reach them unless their cousin Herald came visiting.  He, too, loved chocolate chips, and he was tall! The kids were never so happy as when Herald reached up to that top shelf and they could all share in Grandma Jennie's chocolate chips.  

The funny thing is, Grandma Jennie never once scolded any of her kids for their "generosity" to their cousin Herald.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

More on "Too good to be true!"

This morning Marash Girl was wakened by a text asking, "So what was too good to be true?"  She supposed the texter was referring to an earlier blog post by that title.

What prompted that earlier post?  Marash Girl had been talking with an Armenian friend who commented that her mother always said, shud luv, luv ché.  (Translating from the Armenian, very good (or too good), not good.)

As the friend and Marash Girl discussed the saying on New Year's Day, it turns out that Marash Girl's friend always thought that the expression meant (or that her mother meant) that it is not good to be too good to someone else because the recipient would not appreciate the favor, and would become resentful. Marash Girl thought the phrase meant that whenever someone appears to be too good, you know there has to be a flaw hidden somewhere -- that one should never assume perfection in another person (or in oneself, for that matter!)

How would you interpret the saying?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

An envelope stamped and mailed in Marash on January 25, 1913

January 25, 1913 a postage stamp and envelope sealed and sent from Marash. Photo Courtesy of Ozcan Gulkesen, Birzamanlar Marash Facebook Page

One wonders to whom this envelope was addressed and what it might have contained. . . Peter Bilezikian was six months old when this envelope was postmarked.  Who knew at that time of the devastation that was soon to follow in Marash.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Too Good To Be True!

A  friend and Marash Girl were chatting the other day, and the friend commented on someone they had both met recently at a party.

"My mother would have said,  Շատ լաւ, Լաւ չե! (Shud luv, luv ché!).  Or she might have chosen to say it in English: "Too good, no good!"

Or as Americans might put it, "Too good to be true!"

Monday, December 28, 2015

Marash Red Pepper On Your Tulip Bulbs?

One of Marash Girl's favorite Christmas gifts this year was a dozen tulip bulbs, planted for her on Christmas Day.  And guess what?  Marash Girl insisted that the bulbs be sprinkled with Marash red pepper before the tulip bulbs were covered with soil.  Anyone know why?

Hint #1.  Here in New England we have lots of grey squirrels.

Hint #2.  Grey squirrels love tulip bulbs.

Hint #3.  Grey squirrels hate to eat anything that will burn their tender tongues!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Glamorize Your Punch This New Year's Eve!

Making a big punch bowl of . . . . yes, of course, punch?  (What is punch and why is it called punch?)

Marash Girl makes hers with cranberry juice cocktail and gingerale (both all natural, of course), as you may have read in some of her previous posts, a punch she first tasted at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Christmas Celebration many years ago.

But Marash Girl adds a special zing to her punch, both visually and taste wise, a zing provided by the ice that she prepares especially for the punch.

Marash Girl fills large fancy bundt cake pans with fresh water in which she floats thinly sliced oranges and lemons. She then places the fruit and water filled bundt pans in the freezer, and when frozen, removes (by running hot water over the bottoms of the pans) the beautiful shapes from the pans to use as ice in the punch. This home-made ice elegance not only adds glamour to your punch bowl but adds a bit of zing to the punch as the ice melts (the flavors of the rind and the juice are subtle but there).

By preparing your own ice in this way, you do not have to worry about running to the nearest package store for large bags of ice, but can prepare many pans of your own fancy ice ahead of time, wrapping the beautiful ice forms in plastic and storing them in the freezer.  The ice made in this way will melt more slowly and keep your punch coldly delicious.

Happy celebrating!

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Photos from Dylan Marie's Agra Hadik

Dylan Marie had been reaching for the "Dahn Digin" Doll, a doll dressed in traditional costume, symbolizing life in the home and a mother, wife and homemaker, but as you can see in earlier photos, there was interference and urging from older members of her family.  She selected the Lip Gloss.  Go figure what that symbolizes!

 Hadik, the traditional dessert served at the Hadik celebration, is boiled hulled wheat, sweetened with sugar and cinnamon and decorated with dried fruits and nuts to be served to the assembled after the 6 month old child chooses her future!  The kernels of hulled wheat look like a baby's first tooth.

Friday, December 25, 2015

The First Christmas

The First Christmas for Dylan Marie

The First Christmas from an Ancient Armenian Illuminated Manuscript

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Agra Hadik

Having been brought up Protestant, Marash Girl does not know a lot about the Agra Hadik tradition, but since her grandchildren have been born, she's been an ardent enthusiast.  Today the family will celebrate Dylan Marie's Hadik, yes, albeit on Christmas Eve.  What is Hadik?

When a baby approaches six months old, it is traditional in the Armenian culture to mark the occasion with a Hadik celebration, a celebration of the baby's first tooth.  As Marash Girl understands it, (and please add your comments below, for she's sure you may know more about this celebration than she does), the family invites close friends and relatives to a small afternoon party where a blanket is spread out on the floor, on the blanket is placed various object that represent occupations (for example, a pencil to represent a writer, a gavel to represent a judge, a large cooking spoon to represent a cook, a cross to represent a priest or minister, a comb to represent a hairdresser, a stethoscope to represent a doctor . . . you get the idea).  The baby is then placed on the blanket surrounded by the guests who try to encourage the baby to reach for the favored profession of that particular guest.  When the baby finally reaches for an object (for example, a soup ladle), the guests cheer and hug the baby, and then drop some "Hadik" on the baby's head to try to make the baby laugh and show that first tooth.  The guests then gather around the large bowl of Hadik (hulled wheat -- which when cooked, looks exactly like a baby tooth -- cooked up with sugar and cinnamon) and partake of the Hadik, laughing and wishing the baby well.  The hadik is followed by pastries and coffee/tea for the guests, or, if the party takes place during supper time, a full meal is enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Peter never wanted to open a gift at Christmas. He was saddened when we asked him about celebrating Christmas in Marash.  His memories of Christmas?  
"In Marash, we each were given one dilim (one slice) of an orange for Christmas -- what a treat!"

In remembrance,  at Christmas, Marash Girl puts an orange in every Christmas stocking that hangs from her fireplace mantle. In remembrance.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Missionary Photo of Marash c. 1919

         The above photo was taken by Dr.Stanley Kerr in 1919 in Marash.   American mission buildings were at the northeast part of the city.                      
                         Photo and photo identification courtesy of Osman Koker

This is the Marash where Marash Girl's father lived 'til the age of 8.  Those were the mountains that he roamed, where he and his fellow playmates mirrored the struggle that was going on in the city below.  Peter grew up in Kumbet, a village of Marash, but had to flee with his family in 1920 during the mass deportations and genocide of the Armenians by the Turks.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Nutcracker?

Yesterday morning, Marash Girl received a phone call.

Young Friend: Guess where we're taking the kids today!  To the n. . .

Marash Girl (breaking in):  To the Nutcracker?

Young Friend:  To the new Star Wars movie!

"How Christmases have changed!" Marash Girl thought, but to herself only!

A First Christmas

Dylan Marie wonders, "What is going on?"

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Vegan Or Carnivor

As the family discussed the menu for the upcoming Christmas Eve party, the members of the family who were not meat eaters decided that they would like to place a sign stating 'Vegan' in front of the traditional Armenian meals that were prepared with vegetables only. 

The youngest member of the family suggested, "Why not put a sign saying 'Carnivor' in front of those platters that contain meat or eggs?"

"But what if somebody switches the signs?" Marash Girl wondered.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

On Tea and Teapots

Marash Girl's mother loved teapots; her children always bought her a teapot for her birthday, for Christmas, for her anniversary.  Jennie never broke a teapot or a teapot cover, and used them all the time to make Chai way before Chai became popular.

When company was coming, she would simply toss cinnamon sticks and cloves into a pot of boiling water and simmer for a while.  The welcome scent of cinnamon and cloves would fill the house and greet the guests.  When it came time to serve the tea, Jennie poured the spiced boiling water into a teapot over several teabags of Lipton black tea (that's all they had at the supermarket in those days--way before the time of Constant Comment or loose tea).

So it comes as no surprise that Marash Girl loves teapots, but whichever teapot is her favorite of the moment, she invariably breaks its cover.

What really made Marash Girl appreciate a teapot was when she went visiting one day and the woman she was visiting offered her a cup of tea.  The woman boiled water, poured boiling water into each tea cup, took one teabag, dipped it into her cup, then when her tea was dark enough, dipped the used teabag into Marash Girl's cup.  The woman thought she was conserving all kinds of things -- tea, energy, paper, waste, etc. etc.  But what she wasn't conserving was grace.

Grace and conservation go hand in hand.  One teabag (or better yet, one heaping teaspoon of your favorite loose tea) in one teapot of hot water goes a very long way!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Candied Pecans For Christmas

Out of ideas for what to give those folks who have everything?  Try making candied pecans.  If you can find a good source for purchasing (freshly) shelled halved pecans (Costco, perhaps?), all you need are a few egg whites, some sugar and a dash of vanilla.  Here's a recipe that Marash Girl adopted and adapted from the internet.

Candied Pecans

Preheat oven to 250 degrees fahrenheit. 
Beat until frothy in a large bowl: 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon of water.
Add 1 cup white sugar, 1 tsp. pure vanilla, 1/2 tsp.  salt.  Beat together.  
Add 1 pound pecan halves and stir with large spoon until pecan halves are completely coated with egg white mixture.

Place coated pecan halves in a stainless steel baking pan which has been sprayed with oil.

Bake coated pecans at 250 degrees fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so (set timer so you don't forget) to make sure pecans are baking evenly.  Remove tray from oven. Allow pecans to cool.  Try to restrain yourself from sampling too many, or you'll have none to gift!

Store the surviving candied pecans in a dry container (preferably a lovely glass bottle with a screw top cover or glass with a pretty cloth covering); add a beautiful ribbon and there you have the perfect gift for folks who have everything.

Just make sure they're not allergic to nuts!