Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Plea for Garden Sanity

Dear Alison, I write to you with the hope  of doing something about the inordinate invasion of our neighborhoods—this beautiful Garden City—by the professional landscapers and their machines that are meant to bring beauty. . .

Yesterday, I was visiting with a friend on our front porch — a friend that I have not seen since college days.  As we sat there, the landscapers arrived to pretty up the house across the street.  The noise and the dust that ensued for the next 45 minutes chased us into the house, but that was no protection.  The noise and the dust seeped over our front stairs, onto our front porch, through the storm door, and under the closed front door . . . grit now all over my wooden hall floor and the small oriental rug that is there it.

Is there nothing that can be done?

Respectfully, Marash Girl

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

God Answers Prayer

With all the talk about drought in California and flooding in Texas, Marash Girl is reminded of an old joke, a joke that was alive and well while she and her young family were living alongside the Connecticut River, a joke that has become the centerpiece of her philosophy of life.  Here goes.

Flood warnings. The river was rising but the man refused to leave his home.

A police car came by; the policeman offered to drive the man to higher ground. "The river will flood; you must leave now," said the policeman.

"I will stay," said the man.  "God will save me!"

The waters continued to rise and  the man climbed to the second floor of his house, as the waters covered the first floor.

A man in a rowboat came by and shouted to the man:  "Come with us. The river continues to rise."

"I will stay," said the man.  "God will save me!"

But the waters continued to rise, and the man had to climb onto the roof of his house.

A helicopter hovered over, dropped a rope ladder, and shouted, "Climb the ladder; you must leave!  You're house will be covered with water soon, and you will drown!"

"I will stay," said the man.  "God will save me!"

The waters continued to rise, covered the house completely, and the man drowned and, yes, he went to heaven.

He arrived at the pearly gates, and when St. Peter answered, the man demanded to see God.

"What's the problem?" asked St. Peter.

"I need to talk to God.  He didn't keep his promise to me!"

"Okay," said St Peter.  "Come with me."

The man followed St. Peter, and as soon as the man saw God, the man cried out,

"You promised to save me, and look!  You didn't keep your promise!  I drowned in the floods!"

God answered.  "I sent a police car, a rowboat, and a helicopter.  What more did you want?"

N.B. Special thanks to Paul Siemering, my helicopter during my first years teaching in Boston Public Schools!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Armenians on Facebook

Yesterday, reading a missive on Facebook, Marash Girl was shocked to learn of the story of her Aunt Arousiak, the story, that is, of how Aunt Arousiak  survived the Armenian Genocide.

Dr Hagop Bessos, Descendant of Genocide Survivors, writes on Facebook --
7:59pm May 24, 2015
My grandfather was one of those caught up in the snow storm that Marash Girl refers to. Here is the testimony that was passed to me:

How my 13 year old mother survived the Genocide

The picture above (1913) shows my grand parents' family (Mesrobiani/Bilezikjian), with my 3 Mesrobian great uncles in the back.
In 1920 at the tail end of the Armenian Genocide, as Turkish troops prepared to attack the French controlled town of Marash, my grandfatlher took his wife and three children to an American missionary centre for protection. He left them there and, carrying as much jewelry as he can (he and this family were wealthy jewelers), he joined the countless Armenian men and French troops escaping to Aleppo in a freezing blizzard. Sadly the message to leave reached his three younger brothers too late for them to escape, who were caught up in the Turkish assault and cold bloodedly slaughtered.

As my granfather marched in the snow he was kicked by horse mounted by a French trooper, knocking him out. By the time he regained consciousness, the convoy had moved on considerably and he could only make them out in the distant horizon. He noticed a man lying down beside him and poking him he said to him “come on, let us move and catch the others up otherwise we will be left behind and freeze to death”. The man did not budge and my grandfather realized that the man was frozen to death. Leaving the body behind he caught up with the retreating convoy and reached Aleppo safely, where he immediately set out to organise the rescue of his children. Using some of his jewelry he hired a carriage and couple of Turkish men, instructing them to go back to Marash and smuggle my grandmother and the three children to Aleppo (my 13 year old mother Eliz, my 10 year old aunt Arosiag, and my newly born uncle John).

The two Turkish men managed to leave Marash undetected by the Turkish troops, but on the way to Aleppo they were attacked by armed Kurdish men who tried to kidnapp the children. My grandmother had to make an impossible choice by holding on to her son but letting his sisters go. Soon after, my grandmother and her son along with the two Turkish men reached a village where they sought refuge. My grandmother was inconsolable, devasted at loosing her two daughters. As it happened, her plight came to the attention of a prominent and influential Turkish town elder who took pity on her and set out to find the Kurdish perpetrators and retrieve the girls. To my grandmother's utter relief he managed to rescue the girls and reunite them with their mother. My grandmother, wanting to show her gratitude, offered to give the town elder one of the expensive rugs she had stowed away in the carriage. However, he refused to accept the gift and sent them safely on their way to Aleppo, where they were reunited with my granfather. My mother went on to attend high school at the Aleppo American College graduating in 1925 and shortly thereafter marrying my dad and settling down in Beirut, Lebanon.

Thus, in the midst of the genocide, there were kind Turkish people to whom are owed the lives and wellbeing of countless people such as my mum and aunt.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Beauty Queen of Lenane, presented by Newton Nomadic Theater

Last night, the Auburndale Library, the Newton Nomadic Theater presented an all too realistic performance of Martin McDonagh's THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE . Intense acting and the intimate setting contributed to the stark and creeping horror of the destruction of two lives, perhaps three.  Presented in heavy Irish brogue (before you get to the play, you'd better practice listening to some Irish to get your ears attuned), the play slowly went from humorous, sometimes snide remarks about the English, to the psychological and physical cruelty (beyond measure) between an aging mother and her 40 year old daughter.   

Well done, indeed, folks, and you can even meet the actors while you have a glass of wine at the end of the show. (You may need one.)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Best Iced Coffee is Coffee Iced Coffee

And speaking of iced coffee (see yesterday's post), the easiest way to make iced coffee that doesn't taste watery after the first few minutes?  Just freeze some coffee in your trusty ice cube tray, and fill glasses with coffee ice cubes before pouring the coffee into the glass.  Your iced coffee will never get watery . . . just coffee -ey! (Is there such a word?)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Cold Brew Coffee

Marash Girl discovered cold brew coffee thanks to a friend visiting from California.  Marash Girl  didn't really believe her friend, didn't believe that the coffee would be better than freshly (hot) brewed coffee, but last night, with nothing exciting in the offing, Marash Girl decided to try her hand at making a cold brew for breakfast.  Here's what she did, and what you can do, too!

Coarsley grind 1 cup of coffee beans (Marash Girl likes French Roast or Sumatra).

Put 1 cup of freshly ground coffee into a pitcher with 2 cups of cold water.  Cover the pitcher with plastic wrap. Leave overnight on your kitchen table (or, if you have a kitchen counter, which Marash Girl does not, that will do as well).

In the morning, stir the mix and (1) pour into a French Coffee Press, if you have one, and press down until the coffee is all at the top, and the grounds at the bottom, or (2) pour through coffee filter paper into your Chemex coffee urn (if you have one) or (3) pour through a fine sieve into a bottle.  Give the liquid time to filter through.  Be patient!

The resulting coffee will be absolutely delicious, and very concentrated.  Store it in a glass bottle in your refrigerator and when you're ready for a cup of coffee, simply add steaming hot water or steaming hot milk to taste (about 1/4 cup coffee to 3/4 cup water or milk, or if you like your coffee strong, more coffee, less water or milk -- test it out and see how you like it).

Or pour the cold brew over ice, and there you have delicious iced coffee, the perfect summer drink!

This process produces a cup of coffee that is smooth with lower acidity.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

True Sign of Spring - Sidewalk Art in Newton Corner

                                                         "All Me"                           Photo by Renee Brant
A block from Underwood Elementary School on the Eldridge Street sidewalk was this chalk drawing  celebrating spring and the springtime of life!                                                                            

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

She Killed Her Cat

A while back, a friend gifted a very large dragon leaf begonia to Marash Girl.  The plant was too 

large for any space in Marash Girl's abode, so Marash Girl gifted the plant to a friend who worked at 

Newton Parks and Recreation.

Last night, at a meeting of Newton Parks and Recreation, Marash Girl saw the new owner of the 

dragon leaf begonia and asked how the plant was doing.

"Oh, it's fine," she said.   "We're keeping the begonia at the office though.  After doing some research, 

I learned that begonias are poisonous to animals, especially cats!  All of us at the office love the 

begonia."   The conclusion to the story?   "The plant is doing great, and so is my cat!"

N.B.  The former owner of the begonia never could figure out why her father's cat, a cat she had adopted and dearly loved,  mysteriously passed away soon after she adopted it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

No Armenian in Marash

Uncle Paul went to grammar school in Marash, Turkey. Uncle Paul shared many 

stories of his experiences with his children, nieces and nephews; one of those 

took place in his grammar school where the children were secretly taught  

Armenian. When the Turkish soldiers came in on their regular inspection, an 

inspection to ensure that only Turkish was being spoken/taught, the students 

had to hide their books as best they could; Uncle Paul sat on his book.  Teaching 

Armenian, Uncle Paul said, was strictly forbidden by the Turkish government in 


Marash Girl's father Peter Bilezikian was told by his mother never  to speak 

Armenian in the streets, although the family  spoke Armenian in the home.  

Peter remembers when he was a little boy in Marash, seeing a man with no 

tongue; Peter was told that the man's tongue had been cut out for having 

spoken Armenian outside of the safety of his home.

In the early 1970's, Marash Girl did an oral history interview with Miss (Sion?) Gayzagian, (the interview stored at the Armenian Museum of America), a neighbor who lived on Waverly Avenue, a woman who was born in Marash.  She told Marash Girl that she was placed in an orphanage in Marash (was it Bethel Orphanage?) somewhere between 1915 and 1918, and that the missionaries who ran the orphanage told the girls that they were to forget Armenian, to never speak it again; that they should speak only Turkish; that Armenian was gone forever.  In fact, they were punished if they were caught speaking Armenian.

It was Turkish only, folks!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Kumbet, Marash, Turkey

Kumbet, Marash, Turkey, taken from the Bilezikjian house.  1916           Photo Credit: Bir Zamanlar Marash, Facebook

Marash Girl's father Peter, Uncle Paul, Auntie Rosie, Auntie Gulenia, and Grandma Yepros were living in Kumbet when this photo was taken in 1916.
Early 20th Century Map of Marash - Note Kumbet Quarter to the East, middle of the right side of the map, just West of the road to the German Farm, just southwest of the mountains that Peter used to roam as a child.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bethel Orphanage, Marash, Turkey

 Present day building that was Bethel Orphanage, Kumbet, Marash, Turkey
The building has four floors and 27 rooms and is presently used as a private residence. Marash Girl wonders who lives there now  . . .  See Marash Girl's blogpost, Saturday, October 18, 2014, for family history related to this building.  See vintage photo below.

Stairs from the past -- Osman Koker sent this photo of the stairs in the Bethel Orphanage -- no wonder blind Grandma Yepros had no trouble managing three flights of stairs at the family home on Lowell Avenue in Newtonville! 

According to Facebook's Bir Zamanlar Marash, as of today, 124 years old and the oldest of the historic mansions still standing in Kahramanmarash, Bethel Orphanage, the oldest German orphanage, four-story masonry building has 27 rooms.

Photo Credits:  Bir Zamanlar Marash, Facebook

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Author Aline Ohanesian and ORHAN'S INHERITANCE

Aline Ohanesian, author of the recently published novel, Orhan's Inheritance,  addressed an audience of 60 people on Thursday evening at Porter Square Books.  Before she began her talk, she looked around her and commented, "I love independent book stores!"  Marash Girl seconds that thought!

Aline Ohanesian, author of the new novel  Orhan's Inheritance, greets admirers on
Thursday, May 15, at Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Later, she admitted,
"I guess I'm writing about the Armenian Genocide."

Aline Ohanesian's grandmother, (which grandmother, we never learned,) an Armenian who survived the genocide perpetrated on the Armenian people by the Turks at the beginning of the  20th century, pulled aside the author who was then only 8 years old, and told little Aline her story. Years later, Aline Ohanesian, now married with her own little children, was drifting into sleep when she heard a female voice uttering two sentences -- sentences that would not leave her -- sentences that became the heart of Orhan's Inheritance
              "[t]here is only what is, what happened. The words 
              come much later, corrupting everything with meaning.”

[Much to her parents' dismay, the author dropped out of a history Ph.D. program in order to write Orhan's Inheritance,  a book which was nominated, and became a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.]     

Ohanesian's ancestors were from Sepastia (Sivas), Ottoman Empire, where, according to Ohanesian, there was no physical segregation between the Armenian and Turkish communities.  Given that fact, she stated, there must have been moments when love grew between a young woman and a young man, love that knew no religious boundaries.  On this premise, and after much research on the period as well as visits to Turkey, Ohanesian chose to set her novel in 1915 in the Ottoman Empire in its declining years, during the Armenian Genocide. Orhan's Inheritance is, among other things, a love story between a 15 year old and an 18 year old, between an Armenian Christian  girl and a Turkish Muslim boy; it is the story of Armenians being forcibly torn from their homeland.

Marash Girl began reading Orhan's Inheritance yesterday evening; she has not been able to put the book down.  By page 160, her tears were flowing freely.

Orhan's Inheritance has been translated into 12 languages, and is the #1 best seller in Serbia, Croatia and other countries that have suffered ethnic cleansing. 

President of the Armenian International Women's Association Barbara Merguerian (left)  congratulates author Aline Ohanesian (right), 
on the success of the author's first novel, Orhan's Inheritance

Aline Ohanesian autographs her first novel, Orhan's Inheritance.
                                                                                                                               Photos by Marash Girl

Friday, May 15, 2015

WBUR's Bob Oakes talks of Vietnam

Photo by Marash Girl  
During a recent WBUR fundraiser, Bob Oakes took a moment out of his busy morning to regale a group of volunteers with colorful tales of his recent trip to Vietnam.  Unfortunately, Marash Girl was too busy answering telephones to get the details of the conversation!                                                                                                                                                                                          

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Red Sox Suitcase in the Nation's Capital

The 8 hour train trip from Boston to Washington, DC, had finally come to an end.  As Marash Girl descended from the train onto the walkway, the train service attendant reached up to help Marash Girl with her bag.  "Whoa! I burned my hand!" said the Amtrak attendant as he lifted Marash Girl's suitcase off the train, onto the platform in Washington, DC.

Confused, Marash Girl wondered what he was talking about until she remembered that she had borrowed her son's Red Sox suitcase for the trip.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Grandma Jennie's Strawberry Short Cake

Today, King Arthur sent me an email with a recipe for their strawberry shortcake using biscuits for the base. Immediate flashback to Grandma Jennie's strawberry shortcake which always tasted better than anyone else's. Why?  Because Grandma Jennie made her strawberry short cake from scratch, yes, with freshly picked strawberries,  her own freshly prepared and baked sponge cake (possibly Betty Crocker's recipe for sponge cake?) and heavy cream freshly whipped by her own hand.  (Those were the days when folks thought it was very cool to buy frozen sliced strawberries and whipped cream in a tin can that squirted out the cream in a stream or in a plastic tub that contained an artificial whipped cream called Dream Whip -- so many chemicals that it would make you faint just to read them!)  But Grandma Jennie bucked the tide and made her own, old-fashioned strawberry shortcake, cake that left everyone asking for seconds and left Grandma Jennie (Marash Girl's mother)  smiling!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

iPhoneless in the Nation's Capital

Her iPhone had not charged during the night, although she had plugged it in the night before  so that it would be charged before she left.  She took the iPhone downstairs that morning and plugged it into her computer so that she would be certain that it would be charged when she left the house for her 4 day journey.  And charge it did -- for 4 days running - as Marash Girl was in such a rush to catch the 6 AM train to Washington, DC  -- a train that would be taking her to see her grandchildren AND to the National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial -- yes, she was in such a rush that she left her iPhone charging at home.  No phone calls -- well, that wouldn't have been so bad . . . but no photos for 4 days, 4 days when she would be surrounded by iconic images, historic photographs, antique textiles, and famous Armenian Americans (famous to her, at least) from all over the United States  . . . not to mention her old friends and her daughter and grandchildren!  It was difficult.  Marash Boy tried to comfort her by purchasing a throwaway camera from CVS, but taking photos with that was like trying to wash clothes by hand, feeding the clothes into the ringer one by one, (do you know what a ringer is?  Clue -- it is not a bell!) and using clothespins to hang each piece up, one by one, on a clothesline to dry.  

Marash Girl is still hoping that the throw-away camera has some decent photos to post, but before she'll know that, she has to drop it off at the Watertown CVS to have the photos put onto a disk so that she can transfer the photos from the disk onto this computer and then onto this blog.  

But then, all may not be lost.  Maybe she'll see some famous Armenians that she can photograph with her iPhone at the Watertown CVS . . . 

Monday, May 11, 2015

The problem with going away is coming back . . .

There's no place like home, or so the adage goes, and going away makes one appreciate home all the more!  The only problem with going away and playing,  is coming back and playing . . . catchup!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lilacs for Mother's Day

Returning home late Sunday night, Marash Girl was greeted by her lilac bushes in full bloom -- lilacs, the flowers that Marash Girl's mother Jennie loved the best.  The lilac bushes had been gifted to Marash Girl by her children on Mother's Day a number of years ago, the bushes then small, unassuming, flowerless . . . now in full bloom. Author Claire Merrill once titled her children's book,  A Seed Is A Promise. Marash Girl would like to paraphrase that by noting that a small plant is a promise, and the promise has indeed been fulfilled!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Judith Saryan, Zabel Yessayan and THE GARDENS OF SILIHDAR featured at the Armenian Genocide Centennial

Judith Saryan's photo.
                                                Photo by Marash Girl

Judith Saryan speaks about Zabel Yessayan in the Decorative Arts Room 
at the National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial, Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C.   

Zabel Yessayan's book, THE GARDENS OF SILIHDAR, is available at 
Bethel Charkoudian Books. To search her catalogue of  books and sheet music, or to order THE GARDENS OF SILIHDAR, click the link below:

Friday, May 8, 2015

Traditional Armenian Costumes at the National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial, Washington, DC.

l. to r.  Raffi Charkoudian-Roger, Lorig Charkoudian, and Aline Charkoudian-Rogers, model traditional Armenian dress on Friday, May 8, 2015, at the National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial, Washington, DC.  [The folks pictured above are descendants of Marashtsi genocide survivor Peter Bilezikian and 1st generation Aintepsi Armenian American Lucille Mae (Jennie) Vartanian Bilezikian, and Marashtsi genocide survivor  Azniv Sanjian Charkoudian and Marshtsi Armenian American Nishan Charkoudian ]

Yesterday King R and Enila went to the Centennial Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Washington, DC.  King R and Enila and their mother Girol, dressed in traditional Armenian costume and paraded through the Marriot Marquis, contributing to the centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, the commemoration that will continue through to Sunday in Washington, DC, and throughout the year 2015.

King R says of the experience, "Those cloth Armenian shoes from the 18th Century were really comfortable!" Enila says, "The traditional Armenian costume was surprisingly comfortable, and I felt like a queen wearing it."  They both agreed that "it was super fun."  Girol said that everyone was asking them who they were, where they had come from, and if they were a dance troupe from Hayasdan!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Bee Haven

The Bee Haven -- no, not the bee hive, The Bee Haven!  Yes, that's what it says on the front of this little house that Marash Girl found in a church thrift shop on Cape Cod.  Marash Girl thought it was cute and put it up on her front porch as decoration, but yesterday, a honey bee (who apparently can read) went right inside and took up residence!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"Pizza? Uh,Uh!" - New York Times

On May 1, 2015, The New York Times published an article by Eric Lipton and Rachel Abrams entitled, "Commonly Used Chemicals Come Under New Scrutiny".  The article should have been entitled, "Pizza Boxes Come Under New Scrutiny"!  The import of the article for those of us who love pizza?  Ya can't order out pizza.  The cardboard of the pizza box contains the poisonous chemical PFAS which readily bleeds from the cardboard into the pizza, and from the pizza, guess where?  So now what . . . Well, if you're Armenian, or at least Marashtsi Armenian, you have no problems.  Just dig out your big, round, trusty sini kufte tray . . . or do you make paklava in that big round tray   . . . and take it along to the pizza shop when ordering, politely asking the pizza man,  "Just put the pizza in here, Խնդրեմ!"

Oh, and don't forget to make sure that the tray is stainless steel and not aluminum . . . (Some Armenian stores now carry the trusty sini kufte/paklava 18 inch in diameter circular trays in stainless steel!)  You wouldn't want to ingest any of  the tomato sauce that may have interacted with the aluminum, thus bringing the possibility of alzheimer's into your future!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Resting Along the Charles River

Black Double-Crested Cormorants on the Charles River, Watertown, Massachusetts  -
Thanks to John Simmons for bird identification.                                                          Photo by Marash Girl

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Going to Washington, DC to commemorate the Armenian Genocide Centennial?

For weeks, Marash Girl's daughter has been looking forward to a visit from Marash Girl and Marash Boy so that they could commemorate the Armenian Genocide Centennial together at events in Washington, DC.  The question always came down to the following:  
"But what events shall we attend?  I checked the website -- -- and all of the events are sold out!"  

Marash Girl kept sending her daughter the link, reminding her that the website referred to many events; Marash Girl's daughter, who had earned her doctorate at Johns Hopkins University,  kept searching but always came up with the same answer: "All the events are sold out!"  Marash Girl checked the website herself and came to the same conclusion.  But that couldn't be.  So she asked Marash Boy, who had earned his doctorate at Harvard University (granted not a doctorate in how to manipulate websites), and he too came up with nada.  Marash Girl called Tatoul Badalian who masters the online calendar of Armenian Events in the New England area, and he could not help.    What was going on?  Finally, Marash Boy reminded Marash Girl that she was friends with one of the managers of the centennial program.   Marash Girl immediately picked up her iPhone, and commanded Siri to call said manager who immediately answered and greeted Marash Girl.  Marash Girl had, apparently, interrupted the manager's dinner.  Nonetheless, the manager was gracious and patiently explained to Marash Girl that Marash Girl (did Marash Girl have a pencil?) should go to the website,, and would there find a list of events.  "But they're all sold out," Marash Girl announced, with great assurance. 

"NO!  Did you go to the website?" 

"Yes!" answered Marash Girl, "and I clicked on EVENTS. And everything was sold out!" 

"Oh," announced her friend.  "There's your problem.  You have to click on 'OUTREACH' and you'll find a listing of all kinds of free events going on in the Washington, DC area over May 6, 7,  8" . Marash Girl had never imagined that "Outreach" meant a listing of events. Nonetheless, Marash Girl did as she was instructed  and did indeed  find a list of free events that were NOT sold out, although no dates or times were listed for the individual events on the website.  Luckily, the website tells us that "schedules and venue sites are provided at the Marriott Marquis."  Whew!  Finally an answer?  We'll see . . .

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Durumlu Marul and Uncle Paul

Marash Girl never buys iceberg lettuce, not since the word was out that the darker and more bitter lettuces are  better for you.  Sometimes she cheats and uses Romaine Lettuce, but nothing is as wonderful as iceberg lettuce, good and crunchy.  (Marash Girl's son's favorite treat at Not Your Average Joe's used to be a big wedge of iceberg lettuce with their special dressing -- almost as good as dessert!)

Growing up, Marash Girl doesn't seem to remember any other offering BUT iceberg lettuce -- or was it her mother's favorite as it is hers. . . Grandma Jennie would offer delicious salata made of sliced  tomatoes and cucumbers (both fresh from Grandpa Peter's garden if it was summertime) with chunked iceberg lettuce and freshly chopped mint. On occasion, Marash Martha decided to offer a salad that the family had never tasted before:  iceberg lettuce, freshly chopped apples (from the apple trees in the back yard), and freshly chopped walnuts (NOT from the walnut trees in the back yard -- the squirrels always managed to get those nuts the night before Grandpa Peter  and Uncle Paul were about to harvest them). 

Marash Girl can't remember what either of Grandma Jennie or Marash Martha used for salad dressing; she remembers the first time her mother served romaine lettuce, though. That time and ever thereafter, whenever her mother served romaine lettuce, her father started chanting, "Durumlu Marul, Dumumlu Marul".  What was that all about?  He soon regaled the family with the story of Uncle Paul, who as a young boy in Marash, would walk through the streets of Kumbet chanting "Durumlu Marul, Durumlu Msarul", and carrying a basket of Durumlu Maral over his head, hoping to sell the heads of romaine lettuce one by one to the ladies of the houses in their neighborhood in Marash, Ottoman Empire.  As Paul was still young enough to be considered a child, but old enough to carry the basket over his head, the Muslim women could freely purchase from him, as he was not yet a man!

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Sermon for the Grace Church (Episcopal), Brooklyn Heights, NY, on the Centennial Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide by Rev. Julie Hoplamazian

A Sermon for the Grace Church Brooklyn Heights On the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide by Rev. Julie Hoplamazian

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Encyclopedia Britannica and the Armenian Genocide

Marash Girl's father, Peter Bilezikian, spent much of his time (when he was not working), pouring through the Encyclopaedia Britannica. . . he was a history buff, and particularly enjoyed reading the articles on ancient history, medieval history, and yes, contemporary history. Grandpa Peter's faith in the  Encyclopaedia Britannica was vindicated today when it came to light that the Encyclopedia Britannica has replaced the reference to the "Armenian Massacres" with the words "Armenian Genocide".  As Grandpa Peter used to say, "We know what happened, whether the Turks admit it or not!"
Photo of Kumbet (section of Marash) in present day Turkey where Grandpa Peter was born and lived until he was 8 years old, when he was fortunate to leave with his family -- yes, he survived to tell the tale. Thanks to Ozcan Gulkesen for the photo.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Robin Young and Bassem Youssef converse at the Kennedy Library

Bassem Youssef converses with a member of the audience at the Kennedy Library after
 his on stage conversation with Robin Young.                                 Photo by Marash Girl

Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian satirist and former host of the popular Egyptian TV show, Al-Bernameg, held court with WBUR's Robin Young (Here and Now) last night at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts. Considered the "John Stewart of Egypt", while broadcasting in Egypt, he had 40 million viewers a week.

Beginning his career in Egypt as a cardiac surgeon, he soon became a renowned TV comic. (What's so funny about that?)  (He hinted that the surgeons practiced their humor while their patients were under anesthesia.)    "Broadcasting is about money, power, and politics," he said, and continued:  "Political satire and humor can breed peace. . .Here in the United States, none is silenced -- people can express their opinions openly; whether there will be change is a different matter. . . In the Arab world, we don't have this luxury."  Once he had to leave Egypt, he refused to do the same program from outside because it would not be satire then.  "Folks were hurt every time I spoke in public."  And when Robin Young asked about his future, he answered, "I hope to reinvent myself somehow.  I live in Dubai now as do my wife and daughter  (though presently I am a visiting scholar at Harvard University).   I'd like to do a Pan Arab show."  When asked about Isis, Youssef exclaimed, "Isis are stupid people -- crazy -- They're not everywhere. . ."  

When Robin Young asked him, "What in the United States is so funny?" Youssef answered, without hesitation, "Fox News and Donald Trump (the wig, of course)!  I actually respect him.  He's honest."

Youssef admitted to missing his country where it's warm and sunny -- "something you don't know about here in New England.  I miss my family.  Sometimes I wake up and I don't know what city I'm in.  I woke up one day and I was in Vegas. . ."

Robin Young asked Youssef whether he could translate any of his jokes from Arabic into English.  His answer:  Humor is a third language.  In Arabic, much of our humor comes from the use of profanity."  And on politics, he commented, "In Egypt, he military is more sacred than religion. . . Why would history make any exception for us?  In Egypt, we're in the 1960's.  If you don't have money to buy a time machine, just go to Egypt!"

"In Egypt," Youssef continued,  "there are lots of divorces because of political issues.  (Do Democrats marry Republicans here in the U.S.?)  And many parents report their children to the authorities! . . . My personal life has been a mess My family is game for everybody, so my family is living in Dubai now. . . In Egypt, people are questioning everything now: religious authority, autocratic authority, the status quo."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Politics of Public Bathrooms

When is a lady allowed to use the men's room?

Whenever she has to!

Cousin Charlie told Marash Girl recently that he walked into the men's room and was surprised to see a lady there.  He excused himself and walked out to check the sign on the door.  Men's Room.  Clearly.

Why was she there?

It has long been known that at any public event, there are short lines, if any at all, of men waiting to use the men's room.  On the contrary with the ladies' room, where the lines often go around the corner.  Some ladies have taken matters into their own hands, and when the line in front of the men's room disappears and the room is empty -- no men in sight -- ladies stand guard so that other ladies may use the facilities before the intermission ends.

When will the builders of buildings catch on?

And what exactly is it about the female anatomy that necessitates the long lines?

So the other day a friend was at the mall, and the sign in front of the Ladies Room said "closed for repairs". There was a Men's Room (no line) and a Family Bathroom with a lone lady standing in front saying that that bathroom was occupied, and that she was next.  Marash Girl's lady friend, not knowing what to do, knew what to do.  She knocked on the door of the Men's Room.  No answer.  Pushed open the door 'til it was slightly ajar and called in.  No answer.  Walked in, used the facilities, and walked out.  Moving uncomfortably from foot to foot, lone lady was still waiting for the Family Bathroom to free up,

Monday, April 27, 2015

The fox went out on a chilly night . . .

The fox went out on a chilly night
And he prayed to the Lord to give him light
For he'd many miles to go that night
Before he reached the town-o, town-o, town-o,
For he'd many miles to go that night
Before he reached the town-o.

So went the folk song in one of Marash Girl's  children's favorite songs, one of their favorite books, a book illustrated by Peter Spier in 1961.

Why is Marash Girl writing about this now?

Because she was wakened early this morning by harsh calls from outside her open  bedroom window, calls that sounded somewhat like a crow -- bird calls, she thought, as she hunkered back down to sleep . . . birds wakened by the imminent rising of the sun.  But there was no sun, the sky was overcast, and it was 4 o'clock in the morning!  Did you hear that fox? Marash Boy mumbled from under the covers. The fox?  Oh, of course.  A fox.  Like the one that went out on the chilly night . . . He finally reached the town-o.  AND there are folks who keep chickens here in Newton Corner. Of course.

And Marash Girl went back to sleep as she wondered who she should be rooting for: the fox or the chicken.
Photo by Marash Girl
(From Wikipedia:  The Fox is a traditional folk song. It is also the subject of at least two picture books, The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night: an old song, illustrated by Peter Spier and Fox Went out on a Chilly Night, by Wendy Watson. According to the 2006 Bluegrass Picker's Tune Book by Richard Matteson, the earliest version of this song appears to have been a Middle English poem, dating from the 15th century, found in the British Museum.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Merjumek Kufte To Remember

Yesterday, Marash Girl's daughter arrived to commemorate the 100th Year Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide by spending the afternoon with her mother making Merjumek Kufte, a family favorite since her (and her father's) childhood, a staple food dating back hundreds of years, no doubt . . . a meal that was available to the poor, both high in protein and high in nutrition . . . (See

Marash Girl: Merjumek Kufte Continues To The Next ...)

The assembled made the kufte together, with no recipe, with only the memory of the feel, the look, the smell, the taste . . . and it was the most perfect merjumek kufte. . . the most perfect remembrance . . . the most perfect proof that the Armenian people had survived, still survive and would survive for generations to come.