Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Speaking of the Kyrgyz . . .

Haroutioun Kyrgyzian, (later Haroutioun Haroutiounian), was attending Tarsus College during the 1895 massacres, the massacres that left his parents slain in their home and his little orphaned sisters (Yepros & Mayry) placed in the German Orphanage Bethel in Marash, Turkey (then Ottoman Empire). Whether or not Haroutioun knew about the family devastation at the time is unclear, but after attending Tarsus College, he left for the United States. The family legend goes that at U.S. customs, he was told to use his father's name as a last name, as the customs officers couldn't understand the pronunciation of the last name he had given them (which was probably Khyrghyzoghlu). Haroutioun travelled to the United States (probably with the guidance and assistance of missionaries and his professors at Tarsus College),  and enrolled in Boston University's Medical School with the dream of becoming a doctor.    How, we don't know, but once arrived in the United States,  (we surmise in Newtonville, Massachusetts,) he met the beautiful Makrouhi Nargesian, fell in love, and married.  Although he had wanted to become  a doctor, she wanted him to be with her and their children, for her Harry not to have to leave in the middle of the night for medical emergencies, leaving the family with no man in the house (understandable as she probably had experienced the horrors of the devastation to Armenians in the Ottoman Empire),  so Haroutioun gave up one dream for another, gave up the dream of becoming a doctor and became a husband, father, and barber working out of the back of his brother-in-law Moses Bilezikian's pool room, so that he could live happily ever after with his beautiful wife, Makrouhi, sister of Khosrov Nargesian.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Where's the cheese?

Ordering a cheese pizza from Bertucci's? Think again . . .  Recently Marash Girl had a yen for pizza but it was after 10 PM.  Where could she go to get pizza at that hour?  Bertucci's!  What a mistake!
If she hadn't asked for extra cheese, there would have been no cheese! She was so outraged by the deminimus cheese on the pizza that she purchased at Bertucci's, that she just had to write this blog post.  Once warned is twice armed, folks!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Murat: Allahaısmarladık

Monica shares her first taste of raw oysters with her husband Murat as they celebrate Murat's last day in Boston at Boston's oldest restaurant: The Union Oyster House

"Benjamin Franklin" (center) bids farewell to Monika and Murat on their last day in Boston 
at Boston's Union Oyster House.

                                      Farewell, Murat, and God be with you!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Thanks giving to the Creator whence all things come . . .

Thanks giving -- a few (or many) simple heart-felt words of thanks.

That was the Pilgrim's first Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2014

THE FIRST THANKSGIVING: Kathy Rudder from Plimoth Plantation talks with Karen Given of WBUR's Only a Game

Kathy Rudder, “Colonial Foodways Artisan” for Plimoth Plantation

Johnny Cakes

Beer brewed by Mayflower Brewing Company, "a craft beer microbrewery located in historic Plymouth. Founded in 2007 by a 10th-great grandson of John Alden, who was the beer-barrel cooper aboard the Mayflower, they are dedicated to celebrating the history and legacy of the Pilgrims by creating unique, high-quality ales for the New England market."

Kathy Rudder, an historical interpreter at Plimoth Plantation, (Plymouth, Massachusetts) visited WBUR yesterday evening to talk with Karen Given of WBUR's Only a Game and an audience of several hundred about the first Thanksgiving, a thanksgiving that is as far away from today's celebration as Europe is from North America. 
Rudder, a foodways artisan and historical interpreter at Plimoth Plantation, came attired in the simple dress of the time and mingled with the audience as they test-tasted the brews (Mayflower Ale, Autumn Wheat, IPA India Pale Ale, and Porter) brewed by the Mayflower Brewing Company and bottled in Plymouth, Massachusetts) and the tasty tidbits of blue cheese and cheddar made by the Plymouth Cheese Company of Plymouth, Vermont, (yes, Plymouth, Vermont), freshly prepared Johnny Cake (small pancakes made with corn meal, flour and real tidbits of corn), caramelized onion souffle spread on crackers, squash spread on crackers, and for the tee-totalers, coffee -- both de-caf and high test.
According to Rudder, we have very little information about that first thanksgiving.  For the pilgrims, Thanksgiving was a concept -- a day of fasting and prayer, not a harvest feast, though as the Pilgrims became more established, harvest feasts were not uncommon. Rudder noted that the Pilgrims would not have called that feast a thanksgiving, as thanksgiving was prayer.  [By the mid-17th century, the settlers were established enough to be able to feast at harvest time.]
Did the Pilgrims have pumpkin pie at their first harvest feast?  Pumpkin definitely, but pie, probably not, as wheat did not grow well and because maize corn has no gluten, it would have been impossible to create a pie crust. Sugar, as well, was a rarity; early on there was no maple syrup or honey for sweetening.  Perhaps they had stewed pumpkin or stewed squash (mashed into a paste), stewed turnips, cranberries (but again, with no sugar).  The first recording of sugar in Plymouth was in 1627.   They may have cooked cranberries with duck or goose, or spit roasted a turkey with root vegetables such as parsnips, semp (grits - ground dried corn), boiling it with herbs to be savory, not sweet.  Pancakes, duck, goose . . . perhaps the first thanksgiving had a tableful of fowl, as meat was most prevalent. One pot meals were typical -- Turkey pottage with onions, turkey drippings, semp, herbs, root vegetables (a perfect solution for "leftovers", to use a contemporary concept). Or a fricasee, boiling the leavings, then frying them and serving with a sauce of egg yolk & vinegar or bear juice.  Although fish and shellfish were available year round, fish was not mentioned in the diaries as a celebratory food.  In the early days, the Pilgrims were drinking water, which is probably why so many died in those first years.  They didn't have beer or tea or coffee or chocolate.  (Actually not in England either. The Dutch & Spanish had it, but it hadn't reached England yet).  
George Washington declared the first day of thanksgiving in 1789 as a day of fasting and prayer.  Abraham Lincoln, in gratitude for a the victory at Gettysburg in 1863, declared a thanksgiving of fasting to be the 4th Thursday of every November. Sarah Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, wrote to five presidents to get them to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday in an effort to bring the country together. (At the time, William Bradford's manuscript had just been uncovered.)
Turkey on Thanksgiving was a regionalism until the late 1940's when the National Turkey Federation came into being.  (Rudder made reference to the Ostrich Thanksgiving celebrated on radio by Jack Benny in the 1939. You can still hear it on You-Tube.) 
Rudder made little mention of the Natives except to say that at the first "harvest feast" were  53 colonists and (among others) 90 natives  carrying many deer.
When asked by Marash Girl if Native Americans still observe a National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Rudder simply answered, "Yes."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Are you Native American?

                          Vineyard Sound, Falmouth, along the bike path (former railroad tracks)

Walking along the bike path which skirts Vineyard Sound in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Marash Girl noticed a family of three who had been posing for a photo, suddenly disappointed.  "Need someone to take that photo?"  she asked.  "My iPhone is out of battery, so that won't help," replied the son.  "No problem," answered Marash Girl as she pulled out her trusty iPhone.  "I'll take the photo and text the photo to you," she replied, not believing that she had advanced that far into the world of the 21st century.

"Are you Native American?" asked the father.  Marash Girl grinned, wondering whether he had asked the question because of her offer of assistance or because of her facial structure, the structure she had inherited from her grandmother, the structure she had inherited from her Kyrgyzian ancestors who had come from the little village of Kyrgyz, where, pesumably, the original settlers were from Kyrgyzstan. [Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east.]

"He stops at every powwow he can find, looking for possible ancestors," commented his wife. "He's convinced that he has Native American blood!" Laughing, Marash Girl answered, "Well, you know what they say: it takes one to know one!"  And then to the gentleman, "Did your family come over on the Mayflower?  Yes?  Well, there weren't many white women to go around in those days . . . "

The family nodded thoughtfully.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wondering in New England

Wonder what it would be like to live in a place where the sun always shines and the temperature never goes below 50 degrees fahrenheit . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Whipped Cream Biscuits a la Boston's Own Spenser

Never heard of Whipped Cream Biscuits before?  Neither had Marash Girl, until reading along in  MORTAL STAKES by Boston's own mystery writer Robert B. Parker, Marash Girl learned that Whipped Cream Biscuits are, in fact, possible to make, and easy to make as well! She decided to look up the recipe on the internet.

At TasteofHome dot com she found the recipe. recorded below  Marash Girl wanted to bake them for Thanksgiving, whipping up double the amount of heavy cream, half to be used for the Whipped Cream Biscuits, the other half to serve over the pies that her guests are bringing for dessert.

The only problem was that when she went to Shaw's Supermarket late last night looking for heavy cream so that she could record the results of her test here today, all she found was heavy cream with heavy preservatives.  Refusing to buy admittedly chemically treated heavy cream, she decided to pass for the moment and simply offer you, dear reader, the recipe (below).  If you're planning to attempt this recipe in your own kitchen, just be sure you read the ingredients printed on the box of heavy cream before you purchase . . .  Marash Girl's recommendation?  Hold out for the pure stuff.  Wonder if Spenser used the pure stuff . . .

Whipped Cream Biscuits Light and fluffy
      1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

Nutritional Facts
1 serving (1 each) equals 173 calories, 9 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 33 mg cholesterol, 248 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein. 

  1. Preheat oven
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in cream. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead 10 times. Roll to 3/4-in. thickness; cut with a 2-1/4-in. round biscuit cutter. 
  3. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm. 
  4. Yield: 5 biscuits.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Spenser Fries Zucchini Circles Dipped in Beer Batter

Reading MORTAL STAKES by Boston's own mystery writer Robert B. Parker,  Marash Girl came upon a new way to prepare zucchini . . . Ready?

Yes, right in the middle of the mystery, Parker's hero/sleuth Spenser prepares zucchini in a manner that may appeal to those of you who make your own beer -- or who simply love beer and always have it around.

Parker makes it simple both for his sleuth Spenser as well as for those of us who would like to try following Spenser's example! And who wouldn't like a new (though tried and true) way to use up all of those zucchini that we get every fall! (We does not include Marash Girl as she was a failure at growing zucchini the last time she tried . . . Either not enough bees or not enough sun or both . . . )

Following Spenser's lead as he prepares zucchini in MORTAL STAKES, simply cut washed zucchini into circles; prepare a batter by pouring some beer into a small bowl of flour and stirring gently until smooth.  Place some flour in a separate small bowl.  Dip the zucchini circles first into the flour, and then dip the floured zucchini circles into the beer batter. Place those dipped zucchini circles directly into a frying pan which has a tablespoon or two of sizzling cooking oil (Marash Girl uses olive oil), and fry the zucchini circles until crisp!

Delicious, according to Spenser!  Marsha Girl can't wait to try preparing zucchini this way.  How about you?

Oh, and if you love Boston, love baseball, and love mysteries, try reading Parker's MORTAL STAKES!  You can skip the part about zucchini in beer batter, though . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Contemporary Autumn in New England

No longer the smiles of folks raking their leaves into piles at curbside, tending their golden fires, no longer the aroma of burning leaves that marked autumn in New England, rather the roaring leaf blowers and the grim faces of unfriendly folks manning the dastardly machines.  

Another neighborhood bonding phenomenon has disappeared.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bill Littlefied's TAKE ME OUT

On Thursday evening at WBUR, (Marash Girl's favorite radio station), Bill Littlefield held court with his long-time friend Stephen Coren (the illustrator of Littlefield's latest book, TAKE ME OUT) before an audience of over 75 admirers.  TAKE ME OUT, a book of doggerel, not a children's book, not an adult book, but a book of rhymes for those who love sports and love fun, a book that Littlefield hopes (in jest or in earnest) will earn a place in the annals of literary history, a place between Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein . . .               Littlefield's joy was infectious as he talked about his writing of the rhymes and treated the audience to selective readings from his latest book, TAKE ME OUT.  
With Thanksgiving soon upon us, and for other reasons which may be obvious to some, Marash Girl has chosen to share with you, dear reader, this piece from Bill Littlefield's TAKE ME OUT, in memory of the Native Peoples of our land.


The Indians and Braves play baseball. Some would say, "Their loss." 
Perhaps those some think Indians and Braves should play Lacrosse.
Lacrosse, I'm told, was played upon the plains across the land.
Before the Indians and braves were made to understand
They had to leave the land they loved for regions quite forsaken.
The barren lots reserved for them, when better land was taken.

Lacrosse is played in high schools now and private schools as well.
It's played at lots of colleges and I suppose that's swell.
Lacrosse requires running, passing, catching, shooting, too . . .
Though not the sort of shooting that the army like to do
When Indians and braves would try remaining on their land,
As if perhaps when told to move they didn't understand.

A lot of people like lacrosse, which I suppose is nice.
To me it seems like slower hockey played without the ice.
But who am I to say what game is worst and which is best?
We each decide which one we think is better than the rest,
And if lacrosse is what you choose, then I will understand,
And hope that in the days to come you never lose your land.

Bill Littlefield (left) andStephen Coren talk about Bill's latest publication, TAKE ME OUT,
at Boston's WBUR on Thursday evening. When asked by a member of the audience, "Do you think women should get into boxing?" Bill Littlefield answered, "I don't think women should, and I don't think guys should either!"
Although not in rhyme, he did make his point!
Bill Littlefield (left) and Stephen Coren signing copies of TAKE ME OUT.
Bill Littlefield inscribes and signs a brand new copy of TAKE ME OUT for an admirer.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Snow Falling on Maple Leaves

First snow kisses the Maple leaves on Maple Avenue                                             Photo by Marash Girl

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On Veterans Day 2014, Newton, Massachusetts

Visiting Blogger Barley Jim submits the following:

Striding into VFW Post 440 on Veteran's Day, a tall and trim TV beautiful Army Major in class A dress blues paused to remove her cap per proper protocol, revealing dark brown hair in a compact bun.  There were rows of ribbons on her chest and diamonds on her ring finger as she carried on her left arm an infant in a plastic baby carrier, and on her right, an overflowing large Louis Vuitton bag.

The Army used to promise "Be all you can be" and she surely is!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Happy Birthday, Anoushig!

 Celebrating at  the Boston Museum of Fine Arts' Bravo Restaurant

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A word to the wise . . .

      Parking his car next to the track at the Newton YMCA, the owner of this car need say no more!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Advice to the Lovelorn . . .

Some sage advice from Grandpa Peter. . .

1) You never marry the person; you marry the family.
Of course, Marash Girl never believed him until his words were proven true! (Family, genetically speaking, if not physically speaking!)

2) You have to love the person for their bad points; anyone can love someone for their good points.  Of course, Marash Girl never believed him until these words were proven true, as well!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pets Allowed in Massachusetts Polling Places?

After observing the fear in the faces of some voters when large dogs accompanied their owners into the polling place this past Thursday, Marash Girl was curious as to whether or not dogs were allowed in polling places. After emailing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Election Division.  she received the following reply:

There is no law pertaining to pets in polling places. Of course, service animals are permitted in polling places, but otherwise it is up to the discretion of the owner or administrator of the building. If the polling place is in a building that does not normally allow pets, the animals may be prohibited from the building.

Elections Division

Marash Girl got to wondering.  Exactly what types of pets might folks take with them to help them make the correct decisions when voting?  Pet cheetahs? Pet snakes? Pet panthers? Pet fisher cats?  Pet donkeys? Pet anteaters? Pet Wallaroos? Pet chickens? H..m...m...m...m...m

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Can you answer this riddle?

An elementary school teacher posed this question to her class, a question that came to Marash Girl via email:  If yesterday were tomorrow, what is today?

Please post your answer in the comments below.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The passing of Tina Marie (Bilezikjian) Alunni.

We all mourn the passing of Tina Marie (Bilezikjian) Alunni.  Growing up in West Springfield, Massachusetts, she made many a trip to Wilbraham Mountain where we all got to know and love her; she brought sunshine with her wherever she went, whether the sun was shining or not.  Our love and condolences to the family.  May Tina rest in peace.

Her obituary follows:

Tina Marie Alunni (nee Tina Marie Bilezikjian) of Valencia, CA passed away on Tuesday, October 21, 2014, at the age of 45, after a three-year long courageous battle with breast cancer.  Tina was born October 22, 1968 in Santa Monica, CA to Vahe Bilezikjian and Harriett Beltrandi. 

At the age of four, she moved with the family to West Springfield, MA. After graduating from West Springfield High School, she moved back to Southern California where she spent the rest of her life. She graduated with a B.A. degree in liberal studies from CSUN and a M.A. degree in spiritual psychology from USM. She was an employee at Sony Pictures Entertainment for 12 years and an ordained minister in the church of M.S.I.A.

She is survived by her husband, Tony Alunni, their three-year-old daughter, Ava Alunni; her brother, John Bilezikjian, his wife, Marilia, and their children, Ana and Deron.

Her zest for life and unlimited enthusiasm won her lifelong friendships wherever she went.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lack of Voter ID Requirement Irks Newton Voters

"What? I don't have to show my ID?  You mean anyone could come in here and say that they're me and vote?  That's outrageous!"  So spoke a middle-aged woman voting in Tuesday's election in Newton, Massachusetts.  Your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Knitting Needles - Perfect Protection in a Not-So-Perfect World

Yesterday, during a lull at the polls, Marash Girl pulled out her knitting needles and continued her knitting of an infinity scarf, a scarf she had promised to make for Meghan's birthday, the birthday now long past!  But the scarf is not the subject of this blog (as it was completed by the time that the polls closed) . . . 

"Look at those knitting needles!  They look dangerous," said a voter checking in at the polls.  Marash Girl laughed, as she remembered that knitting needles do look dangerous and could (if your grandmother had thought to use them that way) become a weapon to be reckoned with!  All of that dredged up a memory from long ago when Marash Girl used to ride the subway from Washington Heights to the Lower East Side where she was an intern Guidance Counselor at Seward Park High School.  So here's what happened.

As most of you can imagine, the subways and buses at rush hour are packed, and often offer the nefarious the opportunity to snuggle up close to an unwary rider. That was, in fact, the case, when one morning during rush hour on the subway in New York City, Marash Girl reached down and found an unrelated hand reaching up under her skirts.  Grabbing that hand, she held it high into the air, and shouted, "What is your hand doing under my skirt?"
"That's not my hand,"  answered the not so gentle man who was attached to the hand.

It was after that experience that Marash Girl unwittingly and unrelated to the incident (or was it?), decided to carry her knitting in her pocketbook; as the pocketbook was not large, and the needles were long, the knitting needles made their way up and out of her bag.  That very first time that she carried knitting needles onto the subway, Marash Girl noticed that folks made plenty of room for her as she stood on the crowded train.

When she related this tale to the voter who had commented on the needles and by then had  checked out of the polls,  the voter commented, "I'll have to spread the word.  Knitting needles -- the perfect protection in a not-so-perfect world!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Don't forget to vote! It's your birth right as an American citizen!

Marash Girl will be working at the polls today, and she wants to see you there!  If you don't remember where you vote, just call your City or Town Hall.  Polls open at 7 A.M. and close at 8 P.M. so don't miss the opportunity to cast your ballot.  When you do, you'll get an "I Voted" sticker to wear all day as a reminder to all those who haven't yet done so!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sea Gull Guards Beachfront in North Falmouth

Having witnessed this very scene a year ago, Marash Girl had to wait 12 months to capture it on camera.  This time, the sea gull cooperated.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Monarch Butterfly Celebrates Halloween!

Monarch Butterfly (lower left) along Surf Drive, Falmouth, Massachusetts.  Photo by Marash Girl, October 30, 2014

Such a gift to see a Monarch Butterfly, albeit on the day before Halloween, in Falmouth, Massachusetts . . . the first Monarch Butterfly that Marash Girl had seen since her days roaming the hills of Wilbraham, Massachusetts. . . There must be milkweed growing along the coast in Falmouth's Salt Pond Bird (and, shall we say, Butterfly) Sanctuary!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nisha Charkoudian contributes to Army's development of app determining body's water needs

Researcher Nisha Charkoudian contributes to Army's development of app which determines body's 

water needs - written by Kelly Field, USARIEM, published October 24, 2014,  reprinted here from www.army.mil.
There's an app for that: Army has developed one to determine water needs
Pictured here is the Soldier Water Estimation Too app main screen. This Android-based smartphone application
 is a decision aid that translates a complex sweat prediction model into simple user inputs. The user need only 
estimate the anticipated intensity of the activity (low, medium, high, including example activities), choose 
from among three categories of military clothing ensemble and input weather conditions (air temperature, 
relative humidity and cloud cover) to estimate the fluid intake required to maintain optimal hydration.

NATICK, Mass. (Oct. 24, 2014) -- Clean, potable water is one thing the world universally cannot live without. It hydrates. It cleans. It keeps us alive and well. No doubt, water is very valuable to Soldiers.

However, as many mission planners know, water planning can be a nightmare. Too much water can strain already heavy combat loads, perhaps forcing some Soldiers to pack too little in favor of a lighter pack. When Soldiers don't have enough water, dehydration could set in, decreasing performance and increasing the risk of serious heat illnesses.

"Water is a huge logistical problem for training and field missions," said Dr. Nisha Charkoudian, a research physiologist from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, known as USARIEM, Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division. "Obviously, planners do not want too much, but having too little can lead to serious problems. Dehydration exacerbates symptoms caused by heat and altitude exposure, and makes a lot of things worse, including the ability to perform physical tasks in hot and high-altitude environments."

To help solve this logistical problem, Charkoudian worked with researchers from USARIEM -- Dr. Sam Cheuvront, Dr. Robert Kenefick and Ms. Laurie Blanchard -- and a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory -- Dr. Anthony Lapadula, Dr. Albert Swiston and Mr. Tajesh Patel -- to develop an app that will help unit leaders accurately predict water needs with the goal of minimizing the burden of water transport and sustaining hydration.

"Research into heat stress has been going on for over 50 years at USARIEM," Charkoudian said. "We have been providing guidance to the Department of Defense about sweat loss and hydration, and refining it for many years through TB MED 507. Paper doctrine provides generalized look-up tables generated from complicated equations. The app meets requests from the increasingly digital battlefield for paperless guidance that is simple, accurate, mission-specific and available in real time."

Called the Soldier Water Estimation Tool, or SWET, this Android-based smartphone app is a decision aid that translates a complicated biophysical and physiological sweat prediction model into simple user inputs regarding the anticipated intensity of activity (low, medium, high, including example activities), three category choices of military clothing ensemble and weather conditions (air temperature, relative humidity and cloud cover).

The SWET app has user-friendly inputs and provides the user with the amount of water required for the specified conditions in liters per hour. A separate "Mission Calculator" tab further simplifies planning by providing total amounts of water required for a given unit (number of people) for a given mission duration (total time, in hours). Total water amounts are provided in liters, one-quart canteens, two-quart canteens and gallons.

Charkoudian said this app was designed for unit leaders to determine group water needs. The average amount of water needed per person does not reflect individual differences, but the model error for individuals is estimated to be small. Soldiers should expect to see this app within the year on the Army's Nett Warrior platform.

"This will be one of the first apps rolled out in the Nett Warrior platform," Charkoudian said. "I am so excited to be doing stuff that is directly helping Soldiers in the field. I think that's just so cool."

In the meantime, Charkoudian said that the app has already undergone limited user testing with the Army Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, Vermont, where Soldiers gave very positive feedback. She is looking forward to more feedback once the app goes live, to make updates and possibly explore its uses in the commercial world.

"There is the potential here for future versions of SWET for sports and sports drink companies, for team sports, as well as for humanitarian and disaster-relief organizations," Charkoudian said. "People want apps; that's what they are excited about. It's something everyone can relate to."

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Halloween on a windy day along the beach in Falmouth
Sandwich Public Library's Scare Crow Contest contributes to the Halloween festivities.
                               Even the Puritans celebrate Halloween in Sandwich, Massachusetts!

Turkeys parade in front of the Falmouth Library on Halloween as school children parade by in costume, joyful to see that turkeys celebrate Halloween as well!  Photo by Nisha

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wild Turkeys at Dusk: Shore Drive Roof Top, Falmouth, Massachusetts

It wasn't an early arrival of Santa with his reindeer. The animals flying through the air yesterday at dusk on Shore Drive in Falmouth, Massachusetts, were wild turkeys, and they were heading for the old woman's rooftop as she screamed in fear at the clumsy flapping of wings surrounding her and the dark hulks rising upwards.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Walking Along Shore Drive, Falmouth, Massachusetts: Make Way for Wild Turkeys

Marash Girl was walking along Shore Street towards downtown Falmouth on Monday morning, the day after the Cape Cod Marathon, when she spied what she thought to be an early (and tacky) Thanksgiving decoration perched on the fence of this Falmouth home, but as she approached,
she realized that there was nothing tacky nor decorative about this live display of wild turkeys, turkeys that decided to lead the way into town.

Photos by Marash Girl

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Lorig Charkoudian writes, "Here’s my oh-so-simple recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits."

2 cups sweet potatoes (cooked and mashed)

2 cups flour (I’m doing half whole wheat pastry flour and half white right now)

2 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

½ cup coconut oil

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil and sweet potatoes. Mix well. Shape or roll out 

biscuits. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cape Cod Marathon, Falmouth, Massachusetts, October 26, 2014

The weekend before Halloween (is there a reason?) has always been the time to head to Falmouth, Massachusetts, to run the Cape Cod Marathon on that Sunday (and if you can't run a full marathon, you can run the half marathon on Saturday.)  Nary a room is available in Falmouth and environs that weekend, as 1,200 runners from all parts of the United States, (as well as from all parts of the Cape, of course), converge on Falmouth to run the now famous Cape Cod Marathon.  This year's marathon featured lots of wind, but no rain, and beautiful views for the runners as they ran their 26.2 miles, the route lined with spectators cheering them on, handing out water, gel, high fives, and shouts of encouragement.  At one junction, (see photo below), a band greets the marathon runners with the music, "When the Saints Go Marching In" as the bystanders clap their hands in time to the music and the runners, and agree with the band, that these runners are indeed saints, running for all of us who could never even think of attempting such a feat!
26.2 or bust.  Lorig Charkoudian running strong!
Aline & Raffi greet their mother Lorig Charkoudian who has just crossed the finish line!
Her shirt says, "Run like a Mother"!
What was my time?  What? I came in second in my category?
"My best time ever!"  Despite the wind, 3 hours, 48 minutes and 10 seconds!
                                                                              Photos by Marash Girl

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Guacamole á la Martha

If you're lucky enough to have a perfectly ripe avocado -- just squishable but not squishy -- a fresh lemon, AND a bottle of all natural salsa (the freshly made salsa in the vegetable section of the supermarket tends to have preservatives added -- check before you buy), your guacamole is minutes away.  Simply slice the avocado in half, remove the avocado pit (unfortunately you can no longer use these pits to grow avocado trees -- probably because they have been genetically modified in some way), dig out the avocado flesh and mash with a fork, leaving the mashed avocado ever so slightly chunky.  Add a tablespoon of salsa and a squeeze of freshly squeezed lemon juice -- more or less, depending on your taste -- stir with fork, and you have just prepared guacamole, absolutely delicious and freshly made, WITH NO PRESERVATIVES! Hope you have some chips around  . . . 

Thanks to Martha McCool for the recipe!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mushrooms in the Sand Dunes of Provincetown

Friday, October 24, 2014

Indoor Gardening á la Thalassa Cruso

Many years ago, Marash Girl read Thalassa Cruso's Making Things Grow, a  gardening book with verve and humor.  To this day, Marash Girl remembers two points from the book, both of which made her smile at the time, and make her smile today.

Cruso cautions us to wash those emptied plant pots before putting them away in a corner of the cellar.  You wouldn't put dirty dishes on a shelf, would you? she asked.

Does Marash Girl remember correctly?  Did Thalassa Cruso really ask, "Do you keep fresh flowers after they have wilted or worse, died? Why keep a potted plant that is not thriving?  Simply buy another!"

That theory, of course, would have been anathema to Marash Boy's mother, who would rescue wilted twigs from the sale shelf at the back of the "Five and Ten" and with her last five or ten cents, buy a twig and nurse it into a living, thriving plant!

Would that Marash Girl had Medzmama's green thumb! Or Thalassa Curso's, for that matter!


While helping set up for the church fair,  Marash Girl overheard the following interchange during a coffee break:

God helps those who help themselves . . .

But God help those who help themselves (to the antiques on the flea market table!)

The Lord's wrath upon them.

Minister: I'd rather wreak my wrath upon them!

Thursday, October 23, 2014



Speaker #1:  So when is your birthday?

Speaker #2:  Halloween.

Speaker #1:  Why does that not surprise me?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lentil Stew á la Nisha

Lentil Stew á la Nisha

1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb dry lentils
4 scallions, chopped
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp Aintab red pepper, or to taste
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Rinse lentils and drain.  Saute onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add garlic powder (and/or chopped garlic) and lentils, sauté for a few more minutes.  Add scallions, cumin, Aintab red pepper and tomatoes.  Add 6-8 cups (total) of chicken broth and/or water (I used mostly broth) and bring to a boil.  Add cilantro.  Let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add more broth or water if you prefer more broth and cook for a few more minutes.  Delicious!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, Brother James!

You arrived home on my birthday, and I must admit, you were the best birthday present Marash Girl has ever received!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Olive Drab . . .

An ardent member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Armenian Club back in the day, David Balabanian was brilliant and funny.  To this day, Marash Girl remembers David's quip when a fellow Armenian classmate left college to join the United States Armed Forces.  "Olive drab on olive drab."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Being Armenian in the Jazz (and Not So Jazz) World of the Past . . .

"Many years ago in Boston, there was a really great tenor sax player named Varty Haroutunian.  He was superb and played nightly at the jazz club downtown called the Stables.  He and Herb Pomeroy were co-leaders and later had a wonderful big band.  I was honored one evening to be asked to sit in with the quintet and had a great time.  The jazz world knew Herb and Vardy, but the two musicians didn't want a life on the road, so they stayed in Boston and played the Stables for years.  As a joke we would sing to Vardy a version of My Wild Irish Rose.  Only we sang, "My wild Armenian nose, how it grows and grows and grows"  He had a bit of a large nose, of course, and in the jazz world we were not particularly kind to one another."
Above is a memory sent to Brother James by musician Phil Welch, now in his eighties.  Having never heard of Varty, Marash Girl looked up the name on the internet and found  http://troystreet.com/tspots/tag/varty-haroutunian/

N.B. It wasn't only the jazz world that sang the song; Marash Girl remembers George Bedirian, Nevdon Kupelian and Raffi Yeghiayan, all members of the Harvard Armenian Club, laughing and singing at the top of their lungs, "My Wild Armenian Nose",  as they drove through Cambridge and Watertown (Massachusetts) in Raffi's convertible Volkswagon bug, with the top down, of course!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Marash, Turkey -- Photos of Marash bring back sad memories for Armenian families

Photo courtesy of Özcan Gülkesen
No longer the Bilezikdjian home.  Photo taken c. 2000, Marash (now known as Kahraman Marash), Turkey

They say the house had the most magnificent baths!

This was the house in which Garabed Agha Bilezikdjian hid his extended  family during the Armenian Genocide.  As Grandpa Peter told it, there was a family in every corner of the living room.  There was a high wall around the house and a well for water in the center, both of which allowed for survival of the family.

When the photographer was asked why the house was in such disrepair, he said that some kerosene sniffers inadvertently caused the house to be set on fire.  It is well known in the city of Marash as the former abode of the Bilezikdjian Family.
1917 Marash German hospital - Marash Alman Hastanesi. Photo courtesy of Özcan Gülkesen

A photo of the German Hospital  in Marash, Turkey, where Marash Girl's Grandma Yepros used to work c. 1918-1922. She worked for a loaf of bread a day! It was in this hospital that she saw the Turkish soldier wearing the coat of her mother-in-law, Marta Ganimian Bilezikdjian.  When Grandma Yepros admired the coat, he bragged, I took that coat off of the giavour before Ithrew her into the ovens!  Grandma Yepros, who the soldier thought was Turkish,  had all she could do to quell her grief stricken screams and continue to care for the injured Turkish soldier at Alman Hastanesi. Oh, Marash Girl shouldn't tell you that; it's too awful and she had forgotten until this moment!

Bethel Orphanage - Photo courtesy of Edward & Mary Ann Kazanjian - Photo darken  during a recent trip to  Marash

Marash Girl, named Bethel after her Grandmother Yepros Kurtgusian Bilezikian, in memory of the orphanage that took Yepros in after she and her sister Mary (Mairie Baju) hid in a closet in their home in Marash and witnessed Turkish soldiers bludgeoning their parents to death.  As Grandma told it, somewhere around 1895, Grandma Yepros, then a little girl of 8 and her sister Mayry, then a little girl of 5, were with their parents at home when a knock came at the door.  Their parents told them to hide behind the curtains in the closet and never to make a peep, no matter what they saw or heard.  Their parents opened the front door, Turkish soldiers came in and  . . .   Soon after, German missionaries retrieved the two little girls, now orphaned, placing them in the Bethel Orphanage (photo above).  Whenever Marash Girl is asked about the origin of her name, she must tell this story.  So sad.  

N.B. Bethel (or Paytel in Armenian) means "House of God" . . . we are all Bethels, are we not?  Our bodies are Temples of the Living Spirit!)

     The current condition of the orphanage at Kumbet quarter... Photo courtesy of Ozcan Gulkesen via Facebook.

1919 Maraşlı Ermeni bayanlar Bethel Alman Yetimhanesinde yufka ekmek yapıyor
(Bethel Orphanage - Kumbet)) 
[Marahli Armenian ladies making bread dough in the German orphanage, Bethel (Bethel Orphanage-Kumbet, Marash, Ottoman Empire] 
Photo courtesy of Ozcan Gulkesen via Facebook.
Is the date of this photo correct?  Or should it be 1900?