Monday, June 26, 2017

The Kindness of New Yorkers

"BROKEN"  (in case folks  hadn't noticed!)   Some kind NYC soul took it upon him (her?) self to create the sign attached to this bench, and to cover the sign with plastic! "BROKEN"  (if you hadn't noticed)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bobcat At Home

Wild Bobcat at home in this Southern California Gated Community. . . .
Photo by Martha McCool

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mayor Cohen with Mayor Cohen

Mayor David Barry Cohen, who served as mayor in the City of Newton, Massachusetts from 1998 to 2009, posed next to his portrait  on Monday evening at Newton City Hall.                                            Photo by Marash Girl

Friday, June 23, 2017

It's 9:00 A.M. Do You Know Where Your Kids Are?

                                                                  (Photo of a poster on the streets of New York City)

A new twist on an old theme.  "It's nine o'clock in the morning...Do you know where your kids are?"  Scary if you're a parent, right?    But if you're a parent in NYC, you or your caregiver can text “SCHOOL” to 30365 to get the help you need and find out how many days your child has missed.  Unfortunately, that text will NOT tell you where your kids are!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Jim Corsi, Day Jr. High, Newton High School, Boston Red Sox, Swartz's Hardware (Nonantum)

 Jim Corsi at Swartz's Hardware, Nonantum      Photo by Marash Girl
Yesterday, Marash Girl went shopping for an oven thermometer at Swartz's Hardware down the Lake (Nonantum) (that's Newton). As she was waiting in line at the checkout counter behind the fellow pictured above, an affable fellow who was purchasing hardware to repair his refrigerator handle . . . the fellow and Marash Girl had a wee conversation regarding the hardware the fellow was purchasing for the repair (Marash Girl feeling she was somewhat of an expert having inherited some of her father's intuition for refrigerator repair). An affable fellow he was, and soon, of course, we both started bragging about the fact that we had both attended Day Jr. High and Newton High School.  Not sure who mentioned the fact that the fellow pictured above, Jim Corsi, was a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, and later a studio analyst for the Sox. One would have trouble finding a nicer, more "martamod" fellow.  He was thrilled to have Marash Girl take his picture.  (See above.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

From Facebook

Similar to what Grandpa Peter told us!

Séta Tahan and Teporah Bilezikian posted in Marash Bilezikjians on Facebook
Séta Tahan
January 29 at 12:13pm
To Paulo..( as You are interested, with the family History, let me give you some info. I have heard from Father& aunts. 
Garabed, in jail, ( because as Houry said) helping Fedayins..All his belonging were taken by the government. So, his younger brother, Nazareth , also very wealthy, having his big house( you have a picture in front of the door) so, Nazareth(Pacha) took in charge all his brother's family, and they came &a live together. Until the big "Genocide". But my grand pa, being a friend with the"Wally" ho was, it seems a "nice" Turc, told him in secret "Nazareth , take your family, friends, servants some money & leave Marash, don't let someone know I gave you this advice.Say you are going to Aleppo visit a branch of your family".. 
. My grand mother told me one day I was 9 years old,( they used to live in Aleppo, & we were born, my mother too, in Lebanon , so they used to come every 2years to visit us ) she said"Nazareth couldn't sleep for days, not knowing how to behave, not fair to know &keep it secret , at he end he decided to tell the close family members, his married daughters, of course his brother's family, the servants, close friends , etc..etc.. & told them also to advices their own families&friends in big secret. 
The Wali, as promised , let some soldiers escort them until Aleppo(which also belonged to Turcs). Some of his brother's family refused to leave (Houry knows their names) and were killed. But until his death, grand Pa was affected :saying "oh!I 
It was such a difficult situation...I did it first for the family, then I couldn't tell loudly"run away, you are going to be killed" because the Wali, will be killed and all of us with him. 
Untill he died his last words had been" we forgot..that friend...or the other " like a nightmare "

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Little Women on Wall Street, or Facing the Wall Street Bull!

                 Fearless girls (Dylan Marie on right) face down the Wall Street Bull, New York City

Monday, June 19, 2017

What is it?

What is it about going to the dentist that is so unsettling, even though one is only going for a teeth cleaning?  Is it the feeling of being "tied" down, unable to move lest the sharp instruments will stab you?  The inability to attack with your mouth, perhaps dating back to prehistoric times?  The fear of pain?  Whatever it is, it never leaves, does it?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all of you fathers out there, and to all of you folks who made the fathers fathers!

Remembering back in the day when Marash Girl and her sibs would offer a happy father's day greeting to their father and would get back in return, "Just be good.  That will make me a happy father!"

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Free books, anyone?

Today  (a sad day for Marash Girl), Marash Girl begins to empty her warehouse of 35,000 books.  Anyone interested?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lost the Lease on my Warehouse

Today I was forced to grapple with reality.  I have lost the lease on my warehouse and must divest myself of thousands of books that have been for sale online.  Anyone interested in taking over the lot?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Add What?

In her last blog post, Marash Girl recommended that if a soup or a scarf in progress doesn't look right, perhaps you need to add a color, a texture, a stitch.  She neglected to mention that, especially in the case of a scarf, you may  need to rip the whole scarf out and start all over again!  And in the case of the soup?  Watering the soup down would be close to starting all over again, and not as painful as throwing the whole soup out.  But if you must do that, you must!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Knitting In Life

Yesterday evening, Marash Girl began to knit a scarf using newly purchased, beautiful yarn, but as she started knitting, the beautiful yarn was not becoming a beautiful scarf.  Why?  What could she do?  And then she remembered that just as in cooking, just as in life, she needed to add another ingredient . . . another color . . . another texture . . . another strand of yarn.  The stitch alone was not enough.  Note of warning here:  be careful what you add, especially to the soup . . . you can alway rip out the knitting, but the soup?  

Okay, you philosophers out there . . . how would you apply this to life?  Your life?  The life of others?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

May God grant you . . .

Whenever Marash Girl's dad was non-plussed  upon hearing a senseless comment made by an erstwhile conversationalist, her dad would comment, "God give me money and you brains!"  

Search as she might, Marash Girl could find no reference online to this statement, nor has she ever heard the comment elsewhere.  Was her dad translating an Armenian proverb?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Josie Graduates from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts,

Yesterday, Josie Simmons graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, the same school attend by famed painter Frank Stella.  Congratulations Josie and Frank!
Image by Frank Stella graces entrance to Phillips Academy

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Try, try again, Nasrettin Hoja Style

Nasrettin Hoja was seen stooping at the shores of Lake Akshehir, spooning yogurt (or madzoon, as we Armenians call it) into the lake.  

"What are you doing," the townspeople asked him.  

"I'm going to make the lake turn into yogurt," answered Nasrettin Hoja.

"That's not possible," scoffed the townspeople.

"But what if it is?" countered Nasrettin Hoja.

[Note:  Madzoon is made by heating milk to just boiling, cooling it and when it is at just the right temperature -- not too hot, not too cool -- adding and stirring in a tablespoon of madzoon which has been mixed with some of that warm milk, bringing the total mixture -- madzoon and milk -- to the same temperature.  Cover the bowl, wrap the bowl in towels, set aside, and the next day, you will have madzoon!)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Go ahead! Try, try again!

Most of us who were growing up mid-century remember the phrase, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"  It was our core, our reason for not growing up.  It told us all that we needed to know:  that no matter what, we would eventually succeed . . .  or, if necessary, find a better way!  But do any of us know where that phrase comes from?  Marash Girl did not, and so she went ahead and looked it up on the internet, and this is what she found:

William Edward Hickson is credited with popularizing the proverb:
'Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try, try again.
If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try, try again.[2]
The proverb can be traced back to the writings of Thomas H. Palmer in his Teacher's Manual, and The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat.[3]

Try Try Again


by T. H. Palmer

'Tis a lesson you should heed,
If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try again; 

Then your courage should appear,
For if you will persevere,
You will conquer, never fear
Try, try again;

Once or twice, though you should fail,
If you would at last prevail,
Try, try again; 

If we strive, 'tis no disgrace
Though we do not win the race;
What should you do in the case?
Try, try again

If you find your task is hard,
Time will bring you your reward,
Try, try again 

All that other folks can do,
Why, with patience, should not you?
Only keep this rule in view:
Try, try again.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Miracle of Perennials

What with the beautiful weather that has finally arrived in New England, Marash Girl's thoughts have turned to the miracle of perennials -- those flowers that return every year, no muss, no fuss -- they just come back to cheer us up!  Every year!  No time to write any more!  Gotta go out and start pulling out the perennial weeds!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Lost the Lease on my Book Warehouse

Thousands of out of print books up for grabs!  Anyone interested, please leave contact info by clicking the blue comment link below.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sitting on the Post Office Steps in Beirut, Lebanon

Years ago, during Gail and Marash Girl's visit with cousin Garbis Dagermenjian in Beirut, Lebanon, the three were to meet in the central square in front of the post office.  Gail and Marash Girl were early, so rather than pace up and down in front of the post office (which they felt would be unbecoming of young ladies), they sat on the post office steps awaiting Garbis' arrival.

Garbis arrived soon after the appointed time, but his face was red with fury!  "Whatever was the matter?" the girls wondered.

As Garbis soon explained, the post office steps were, in fact, the place where the local prostitutes sat awaiting their customers.  How would two young and innocent American girls ever even guess at that reality?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Knit As You Fly!

They don't allow knives on board airplanes but they allow knitting needles?

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Music in My Life

After Auntie Zabelle first set me at the keys of the piano when I was in first grade, my parents took me to the All Newton Music School where I met Mrs. Beulah Bell who, coincidentally, lived on Lowell Avenue as well.  She was my second piano teacher, a teacher who was with me for 12 years.  In amongst those years, Mr. Parker who lived on Otis Street in Newtonville was the orchestra leader at Claflin School, (yes, Marash Girl played piano for the orchestra at Claflin School), Mr. Jurgelewicz was the leader of the orchestra at Frank Ashley Day Jr. High School, (yes, Marash Girl accompanied the orchestra and the chorus at Day Jr. High School), and then in high school, Donald March led the orchestra and kept Marash Girl on to accompany the high school orchestra as did Henry Lasker who kept Marash Girl on to accompany the high school chorus.  Even in college, Marash Girl accompanied the acapella chorus (only during rehearsals to make sure they stayed on key!)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

In a hundred years

How did Daddy comfort us kids when we were wailing?  Broken hearted? Scraped and bleeding?

Invariably, he would console his children with these words :

 "In a hundred years, you'll never know the difference!"

Some consolation!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Wild Front Garden -- No Grass to Cut!

                                                                                    Photo Credit:  Sarah Salter

Friday, May 26, 2017

Remembering Miriam Goldstein

One of Marash Girl's most memorable teachers was not really her teacher, although some students were lucky enough to have Mrs. Goldstien for English. Miriam Goldstein was Marash Girl's homeroom teacher in 10th grade at Newton High School, in a homeroom which encompassed students of all levels, from all walks of life, all religions, and all reading levels; the only thing they had in common was the first initial (B) of their last name.  

Mrs. Goldstein exuded caring for each student as she called the roll in homeroom every morning and read aloud a chapter from the Psalms to her homeroom class before she led them in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and then prayed with us aloud as we recited the Lord's Prayer.  Her caring was contagious; we all cared for each other that year.  Thank you, Miriam Goldstein, for being there for the students of Newton High School.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Yesterday Evening's Knitting Circle

Brother James called this morning to ask "Did your knitting party keep you in stitches?"

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Soul of an Octopus

Gail has been reading "The Soul of an Octopus".

She asks, "Did you know that an octopus has a soul, consciousness, but no bones, 3 hearts, and every arm has its own brain individually.  They are smart, escape artists and can be affectionate.

"If you wanted to be a philosopher and start thinking about what a soul is and what  consciousness is, just think about an octopus."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wedgwood and the Senior Citizen Center

Browsing the Resale Table at the Senior Citizen Center, Marash Girl picked up an unusual piece of what appeared to be Wedgwood and peered at the bottom of the piece to see if there were any identifying markings.  None that she could see, but it was still a pretty piece.  The woman next to Marash Girl took the piece out of Marash Girl's hand (gently grabbed?) and turning it over, said, "See, it's not Wedgwood!" as she (the woman who had grabbed the piece) proceeded to hand the antique vase over to the saleslady and pay the $2 listed on the price tag.

Monday, May 22, 2017

May the Lord bless you and keep you, Uldo.

Remembering that before he died, her father had told her to call Uldo should she ever need help with her book warehouse, Marash Girl picked up the telephone and called the phone number that her father had given her for Uldo and his wife Natalie.  Of course, many years had passed since her father had given her that phone number, but dial the number she did.
Uldo's wife Natalie answered the phone, surprised that Marash Girl was asking for Uldo.  "Uldo is with the Lord," she said.

Marash Girl is so sorry to hear of the passing of this wonderful, talented, kind and generous man, a good friend of the Bilezikian family,  a member of the Watertown Evangelical Church, Uldo Collella, who passed away in March of this year at the age of 85.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Growing up with Three Bathrooms

Not many people Marash Girl's age can claim the particularly luxurious accommodation of growing up with three bathrooms, but Marash Girl can!

Now maybe it's not appropriate to talk about bathrooms in a blogpost, but Marash Girl is going to attempt to do this anyway.

She grew up in a two family house which actually housed three families . . . a house  with a pool table in the cellar (more on that later), her family on the first floor (one bathroom with a toilet, sink and bathtub), her auntie and uncle and three cousins on the second floor (one bathroom with a toilet, sink and bathtub) and her grandma and grandpa on the third floor (one  bathroom with a toilet, sink and walk in shower!)

So, if the first floor bathroom was in use, up she went to the second floor bathroom.  If the second floor bathroom was in use, up she went to the third floor bathroom.  If the third floor bathroom was in use, down she went to the first floor bathroom, and by then, THAT bathroom would be empty.  Phew!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Johnnie Vaich: How to Select Your Best Photos!

Johnnie Vaich had a camera store in Newtonville Square.  It was there that Marash Girl bought her first single reflex camera and it was there that Marash Girl received her first lessons in photography.  The most important lessons she ever learned from Johnnie Vaich?  Take many photos of the same subject, and when you go to develop the photos, (yes, Marash Girl would develop her own photos in those days), "Don't try to select the best photo you've taken; simply get rid of the 'less than best' photos and soon the best will emerge."  

Thank you, Johnnie Vaich!

[More on Johnie Vaich in future posts, but today, Marash Girl must be off to a memorial service!]

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ice Cubes for your Indoor Plants?

Yes, ice cubes for your indoor plants!  Easier and safer than watering is to place ice cubes on the soil around your indoor plants -- the ice will slowly melt and the plants will welcome the refreshment, without getting drowned!  They can't sip wine, but they sure will enjoy those sips of water!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Nomad Story Slam at Newton Free Library

The Newton Nomadic Theater sponsored another Nomad Story Slam yesterday evening, Wednesday, May 17, at 7 PM at the Newton Free Library ... and, yes, it was FREE. (Even the refreshments were free.)  A special event being presented as part of the month long Newton Festival of the Arts, the theme of all stories was "out of the blue" and the night featured four invited guest storytellers:
Tova Mervis - Author of "The Ladies Auxilliary", "The Book of Separation"
Tom Lyons - owner of the NE Mobile Book Fair
Alicia Johnson - Pastor of the Myrtle Baptist Church
Linda Plaut - Director of the Newton Cultural Council

The guests were, of course, also welcome to throw their names in a hat to tell a 5 minute, true, about themselves, "out of the blue" story.

Linda Plaut - Director of the Newton Cultural Council

Alicia Johnson - Pastor of the Myrtle Baptist Church

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dreams of Superwoman

Marash Girl would often dream that she was Lois Lane (Superman's Lois) or Superwoman or Nancy Drew -- out there saving the day for a would-be victim.

She never did become Superwoman, or Nancy Drew, for that matter.  But she still loves reading murder mysteries with a heroine leading the way!

Any suggestions for books she may not yet have discovered?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The New England Fog and Uncle Paul

Growing up, whenever Marash Girl and her family were in the car driving through a heavy New England fog, they would remember and retell the story of Uncle Paul, who driving from New Jersey to Massachusetts through a heavy New England fog, was unable to see anything except for the taillights of the car in front of him.  That was enough for Uncle Paul, a fearless and well-practiced 1930's driver.  In the midst of his trip, however, the car in front of him stopped suddenly.  Thus, Uncle Paul found himself stopping behind the car he was following; he couldn't figure out what the problem could be.  Pulling up his brakes, and getting out of his car, he found that he had pulled up behind the car he had been following --- pulled up right into their driveway!  Where he was now he had no idea, but at least he was safe and sound at home, even though it was someone else's home!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Haven't heard these Armenian exclamations for many a year!

Ooof!  (That was said if you stubbed your toe or bumped into a chair or such!)

Okh! (That was said--the sound elongated-- for example, as an expression of extreme delight in drinking a cool glass of water on a hot day . . .)

Haven't heard either of these expressions since childhood!  Have you?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day to One and All (Fathers Included)!

Mother's Day at the Marriott
                                      Happy Mother's Day to One and All (Fathers Included)!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Growing up During World War II

Little Marash Girl would be sitting in the bathtub, hearing the whistle of the jets overhead, wondering, "Oh, is that the sound of an atom ball falling?"  That was many years ago, and thankfully, that was NOT the sound of an atom ball falling!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dr. Taner Akçam: The Story Behind 'The Smoking Gun'

                   Taner Akcam presenting yesterday evening at the Armenian Museum of America          [Photo by Marash Girl]
"A Presentation of Never-Before-Seen Armenian Genocide Documents" by Taner Akcam sponsored by the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research and the Armenian Museum of America,  attracted an large and attentive audience yesterday evening at the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, Massachusetts.

 "On April 23, 2017, The New York Times published an article about Taner Akçam's recent work. The article centered on an Ottoman document described as "the smoking gun," demonstrating the Ottoman government's awareness of and involvement in the elimination of the Armenian population. The document, acknowledged as authentic by the post-World War I Ottoman government, had helped convict its author, Behaeddin Shakir, as one of the masterminds of the Armenian Genocide. However, this key piece of evidence, along with other damning documents used during the post-war Constantinople trials of the perpetrators, vanished. Or so it seemed.
     In the course of examining the archive of the late Fr. Krikor Guerguerian, Akçam discovered that the Armenian Catholic priest had made photographic copies of Shakir's telegram and other crucial documents. This presentation at the Armenian Museum of America will present this and other documents that have never before been discussed in public."

Thank you, Professor Taner Akçam, for your unstinting research into the truth, the true history behind the devastation of the Armenian populations living in the Ottoman Empire.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Practicing Piano Under a Practicing Piano

Remembering her piano practicing days (she studied piano for 12 years of her life, and practiced for 1/2 to 1 hour almost every one of the days of those years), Marash Girl recalls the "jungerma" that occurred when she would be playing Bach and her cousin would be playing Chopin right over her head (upstairs),  at the same time.  That was an interesting concoction -- 18th and 19th century music made modern, and nobody was there to record it!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stretch Your Toes to the Length of your Yorghan

Got cold feet?  All you have to do, according to Marash Girl's dad, is to "Stretch Your Toes to the Length of your Yorghan!"  Now that could mean not to stretch out quite as far as you've been stretching, or it could mean to stretch even farther than you've been stretching.  Try even harder.  Work even more intensely!  In any case, that's the advise from the old country, the old country being Marash, of course!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Jangurma?  Haven't heard that word in a long time.  Is it Turkish?  Is it Armenian?  At any rate, it's the word that the older folks used when complaining about all the noise we kids were making!  Jangurma!  All those wonderful words thrown into our daily English made life so much richer than it may have been  , , ,  the words, the folks, the songs, the stories . . . How Marash Girl misses them!

Monday, May 8, 2017

First Impressions -- Splattering the Living Room Wallpaper!

When Marash Girl first visited the home of Marash Boy, before she was married to Marash Boy and before she had met his family, while helping to make the salad, she offered to dry off the lettuce leaves with a method that was certain to dry every leaf.  She hadn't tried the method yet, but she was sure it would work.  

The method?

Place the rinsed lettuce leaves into a pillow case.  Knot the pillow case closed.  Swing the pillowcase full of lettuce leaves in a circle over your head.  The lettuce will come out dry and ready to "dress" with home-made salad dressing.  (If you're Armenian, that would be lemon juice, olive oil, sait and pepper.) 

The problem?

The pillow case was old and as Marash Girl swung the pillow case over her head (it was cold outside, so Marash Girl and the pillow case full of lettuce leaves were in the living room of her soon to be in-laws), the pillow case tore open and the lettuce leaves flew  all over the living room, spattering the recently upholstered furniture, the wallpaper, the floors.   

That was her introduction to Marash Boy's family.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

From the Marash Book , a translation.

Bilezikjian Family
Hovhannes Bilezikjian’s father, Mahdesi Garabed Bilezikjian, has moved to Marash either from Persia or Armenia.  Garabed becomes a merchant, gets wealthy and after being chased by (beyeri) Turks escapes to Kesaria.  Garabed’s son was Hovhannes Bilezikjian, who had two sons, Garabed Bilezikjian (who died in Marash prison in 1896) and Nazareth Bilezikjian.

Garabeds’s children are, Armenag, Hagop, Arsen, Mihran, Haroutun, Hovhannes, Santoukhd and Zarouhi.

Nazareth Bilezikjian’s children are Haig, Hovhaness, Levon, Stepan, Mariam, Arousiag and Lousentag.

Havhannes Bilezikjian:  He was born in Marash, in 1826.  After finishing school at 17 years old he starts working as a merchant.  Establishing a huge import/export business.   He becomes successful, and wealthy.  Marash people call him Altoon Babase . (Gold Father)

Being sick he does not get involved with community affairs. But he donates lands to Secondary School and Soorp karasoun Manganzt (St. forty Children’s (?)) Church.  He does monetary donations too.  He dies in 1892.

Garabed Bilezikjian:

He was born in Marash in 1850.  Educated on his own, he continues his fathers business.  He was a church going man.  Being charged with helping with Zeytoon revolution he gets imprisoned in Aleppo but gets freed soon.  After 1895 massacre, he gets jailed again and dies in prison at the age of 45.

Bilezikjian family members Nazareth and Armenag Bilezikjian also were merchants.   They helped with community affairs. Milli (??) government has taken all their belongings.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Marash Girl NEEDS YOUR HELP: Losing Book Warehouse

Marash Girl is losing her lease on her book warehouse at the end of August, 2017.  As some of you may have learned by now, Marash Girl sells out of print books on the internet, the number hovering around 30,000, depending on the day!  

If anyone knows or hears of dry first floor warehouse space in the Newton, Massachusetts, area, please let her know!  Her books need a new home!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Not happy with the political . . . . . ????

Some 200 Brookline residents think there's enough evidence to impeach President Donald Trump.

The problem is, who would be taking Trump's place?  Look down the line . . . Will they have to impeach the next, and the next and the next?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Lilacs of Spring

Thanks to Marash Girl's children who gifted her this lilac bush on Mother's Day years ago.  More on lilacs in the next blog post!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Concert at the Armenian Cultural Foundation

Over a week ago, now, Marash Girl attended (first row seats!) a concert featuring New England Conservatory students  -- Canadian/Armenian Eva Aronian, violinist, and American/French Pierre-Nicolas Colombo, pianist.  Hosted by The Andreassian Music Fund and the Canadian Women's Club (Canadian Consulate), the musicians, New England Conservatory students, (Violinist Eva Aronian, Pianist Pierre-Nicolas Colombo) played pieces by Maurice Ravel, Johannes Brahms, Fritz Kreisler to name a few.  A cocktail reception preceded the concert which was followed by (the concert, not the cocktails) a social hour that included desserts and coffee.  An enjoyable Sunday afternoon!  And particularly enjoyable for Marash Girl, as the concert was held at the Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington, Mass., a foundation established to preserve the collection of her dear, long ago friend, Vahan Topalian.

Armand Andreassian introduces the event at the Armenian Cultural Center

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Memories of Tuna Fish!

As Marash Girl whipped up a simple tuna salad for Marash Boy's lunch today, she was flooded with memories. 

Whenever her mother, Jennie, heard Marash Girl coming in the cellar door to visit, Jennie would begin to fix a bowl of tuna fish with celery and mayonnaise  to make into a sandwich for Marash Girl for although Jennie was an amazing Armenian cook, Jennie knew that Marash Girl's favorite was . . . yep . . . tuna fish with mayo!  [Marash Girl and her sister Martha and brother James would feel so sorry for the neighbor children because their mother would put chopped onions in her tuna fish! Can you imagine?]

Fast forward to Marash Girl's college days and the tuna fish sandwiches that were offered at a little sandwich shop on Massachusetts Avenue . . . Marash Girl and Gail would trot over to the shop when the luncheon meals were particularly disappointing and order a tuna sub -- "Heavy on the tuna, please!"

And forwarding even further, whenever Marash Girl would begin to open a can of tuna in her Newton Corner home, her wonderful cat Pudd would hear the the sound of the can opener breaking into the can of tuna fish and she would come running!  Marash Girl would always pour the juice from the can over Pudd's meal (especially if it were rice pilaf), and Pudd would be purring so loud that you could hear her all the way into the dining room.

(Of course, we had to check the label to make sure that there had been no additives or preservatives!)

Yes, we loved canned white tuna fish -- (after it had been removed from the can, of course), but it was sad when we would be forced to face the reality of where that tuna came from . . . forced to face that reality every summer that we went to Plum Island and saw the fishing boats coming in with the proud fisherman pointing to the catch -- a nearly dead tuna fish!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Vanilla Prices Soaring?

Not again!  Marash Girl grew up in an era when her mom couldn't afford to buy real vanilla to flavor the wonderful cakes that she (her mom) baked.  Once Marash Girl realized this, she would splurge at Christmas time to buy her mom a bottle of real vanilla.  The flavoring was expensive, but it's alternative, vanillin, was so riddled with chemicals that in large doses, well . . . . you get the picture.  Why is Marash Girl remembering that today?  According to the Boston Globe,  "A massive spike in vanilla prices is threatening to drive the cost of an ice cream cone into the stratosphere."  Any chemist out there can tell us that the chemical makeup of artificial vanilla is very close to that of formaldehyde . . .               just saying . . . !

From Wikipedia:  Vanillin is a phenolic aldehyde, which is an organic compound with the molecular formula C8H8O3. Its functional groups include aldehyde, hydroxyl, and ether. It is the primary component of the extract of the vanilla bean. Synthetic vanillin is now used more often than natural vanilla extract as a flavoring agent in foods, beverages, and pharmaceuticals.
Vanillin and ethylvanillin are used by the food industry; ethylvanillin is more expensive, but has a stronger note. It differs from vanillin by having an ethoxy group (–O–CH2CH3) instead of a methoxy group (–O–CH3).

Any chemists out there who are willing to weigh in on this question?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bald Eagles Soaring

Neighbors reported seeing  two Bald Eagles soaring over the Mass Pike in Newton Corner, just a little to the west of the YMCA.  A rare sight.  They (the eagles, not the neighbors) were high up enjoying this beautiful morning.  Unfortunately (for Marash Girl but not the eagles), by the time Marash Girl trotted over to the YMCA, the eagles had departed.  The City Councilor of Ward 1 suggested that they (the eagles, not the neighbors or Marash Girl) may be nesting at Mt Feake Cemetery in Waltham. (Newton City Councilors care about the wild and the tame, the living and the dead!)

Saturday, April 29, 2017


Went to see THE PROMISE yesterday afternoon with my cousin, Doreen.  Glad to have seen it in the afternoon, as seeing it in the evening hours would have caused troubled dreams.

It reminded Marash Girl of all the stories that she has recorded from genocide survivors in the early '70's, stories that are available at the Armenian Museum of America and at Columbia University library.  But there's still work to be done.  Those of us who are children of survivors have their stories to tell -- stories that Marash Girl had not been able to record for one reason or another.

If you have such a story, please make a note in the comments below, and Marash Girl will try to be in contact with you to record your story.  These personal audio memoirs will be stored at the Armenian Museum of America (in Watertown) and at the New England Genealogical Society (in Boston).

Don't wait!  No time like the present!  And it's a promise we can keep, a promise to never forget, a promise to tell the story of the Armenian past to the Armenian future!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Readers -- Need Your Help Finding Warehouse Space for my Book Business!

Hi, loyal readers. As some of you may know, Marash Girl sells out-of-print books on the internet, books which she has stored in a storage facility on Newtonville Avenue,  a few blocks down from where her dad and uncle had their shop (Newtonville Electrical Company, Inc.).  Marash Girl loses the lease on her warehouse as of August 30, 2017.  She cannot renew the lease as the building will be torn down.  She would so appreciate any leads or suggestions you may have as to where she might move her books.  She needs 500 to 1,000 square feet, dry, ground level space, and is willing to share.  Please "pass it on", as the kids used to say in elementary school.  If Marash Girl does not find another space soon, she will be, as they say, "Out of Business"!  

Can you help?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Advice from the Past

A young professional recently out of graduate school, Marash Girl wanted to move out of her family home into an apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"Why do you want to do that?" asked her Uncle Paul, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide.

"To find myself," she answered.

"You want to find yourself?" he queried.  "Just look in the mirror!"

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Reprinting Eulogy for Peter Bilezikian, survivor of the Armenian Genocide, written by his son.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


PETER BILEZIKIAN, MORE THAN A CONQUEROR: The Eulogy read at Watertown Evangelical Church via skype  by Peter's son, James Peter Bilezikian.  Peter died at age 97 1/2 on March 24, 2010.

Anybody who was blessed to see and eat of the garden our father husbanded for forty years would know the pull the very first garden, the garden of Eden,  had on his heart.  Where there were stones and struggling grass and cabbage weeds that flourished and dandelions that ruled, our father planted a garden.  Each spring he would sift through the loam, which became blacker every year because of his nurturing, and pick out the rocks, then the stones, and finally the pebbles, and throw them into the ravine at the edge of our kingdom where the mulberry bush held court.  This garden was to the west of the three bee hives which guarded the back door of our property.  A century old apple tree, whose bark was dappled with age and seniority, reached over the fence from the yard of our neighbor, ‘old man’ Cogan, and shattered the illusion of separation of neighbor from neighbor, and sheltered the hives with a promise of an early feast of pollen and nectar.  The scent from their April blooms covered the hives and blew from a horn of plenty.  It announced the arrival of spring after a winter siege long enough to put recovery from the snow gripped land in doubt.  It was a victory of life over death, and the garden was its celebration.

Like the antediluvian mist that rose from the ground and watered the earth, the fruit of the garden rose from the ground, and hung from a design of poles and pipes and twine, never sullied by contact with the soil in which their roots were buried, ready to be eaten with the sun still smarting on the skin.  It was a feast, a moveable feast, of light and life.

One of dad’s favorite hymns that we would hear him sing impromptu on a Sunday afternoon, or a Saturday evening was…
In The Garden (first verse)
By: Charles Austin Miles, 1913
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
To hear this rock hard man break forth and regale his father in heaven always filled me up. To watch him, as a child, climb those cellar stairs that led up to our kitchen, caked in the black dust of the oil burners that he cleaned and bear the mark of the chimney sweep of a century earlier, or the West Virginia coal miner from the mile deep pits of bitumen, filled me with wonder and made my eyes wide when he surfaced to the sunlight of our kitchen and my mother’s smile and me and my sisters’ excitement at the return of our father.
Can you eat violin lessons?  That was the question his mother asked our father when he came home one day, reporting that his middle school would teach him how to play the violin.  But even that pittance to be charged was too much for his immigrant family.  It was from that deprivation that ushered forth the treasure of his soul stored up until he was fully grown and married to a beautiful foreigner (Armenian girl) from Aintab, via Cambridge Massachusetts. Dad made certain that all three children studied a classical instrument for 12 years by the time we graduated high school. When visitors arrived at our home, one, or all of us, were asked to perform on either the piano or the violin.  We children were our parents’ flags of victory over the enemy that had sought our family’s life.  The music that came from our hearts, from the fingerboard of the violin or the keyboard of the piano, was the sound of light bursting forth from the darkness that sought to overwhelm him and his mother and brother and sisters in their childhood.  The love of Christ sounded forth in those notes of the cherubs who were his progeny.  He and mother were more than conquerors.  They gave us life and life abundantly.
Dad would joke about his singing voice, and he was right.  He said the best song he sang and the one in greatest demand was ‘Far, far away’, the farther, the better.  Dad married Lucille Vartanian, Jenny to everybody, who, unlike himself, had a radio quality voice that sang out throughout many a day to the confusion of our friends who called us on the phone.  They would ask what station we were listening to because the voice and the songs were so pretty.  The two became one in their marriage, as was designed by our Father in heaven.  They protected each other from the hardness of the world.  Dad’s hospitality was equal to our mother’s welcome.
I can remember
the cool air seeping through the metal of our screen door, whose shape was
distorted after years of children running into and out of the house. The air
was of spring, an air that wilted in the mornings, after a few months, as the
days sailed into summer. I can remember the people arriving at our house, at
our small home, huge with welcome. It was the look on their faces, when my
mother opened the door, I always scrutinized the look, it was the look of
pleasure at the sincerity of welcome, and the attempt to hide their
excitement at their arrival on our shores, as it was not good form to be so transparent. They
knew they were entering a world of experience, as our house was a
museum of life where everything could be touched and upon which everything
could be gazed. There was conversation and laughter in our home. It was a
conversation that carved time out of the granite block of the darkness of
days. It was a conversation that never tittered, because it was not driven
by clock or courtesy.
That was the rub of it all. Father had suffered through ‘the granite block of the darkness of days’ and yet I never once heard anger or bitterness escape his lips toward the perpetrators of the crime against our humanity.  We were raised in a spirit of forgiveness that blew from the soul of our parents, souls in which the Holy Spirit made residence and which liberated them from ‘the granite block of the darkness of days’. 
Almost every Sunday afternoon there was a ‘thanks God, praise God’ that wheezed out of the lungs of Auntie Mary.  That was her signature arrival as she made her way through the house to our dining room to find us seated at a late lunch to find the chair that had been saved for her.  She was the kid sister of dad’s mother, one who had survived with them through the years of the genocide and the battle for the city of Marash.
It was these several things that informed my father’s and mother’s actions and which described their lives as our parents.  They walked in a spirit of forgiveness, of praise and thanksgiving, a spirit which came from their relationship with the Father in heaven through his son our Lord Jesus Christ.
That was how and why dad was able never to refuse a call in the middle of the night in the dead of winter from somebody whose furnace or oil burner was no longer working.   I knew that because the phone was in the corridor ten feet from the entrance to my bedroom. The ring would awaken me and I would hear my father speak, and the tone of his voice.  He never complained.  He got dressed, put on the layers necessary to survive the blizzard raging outside or the bitter cold of a forever winter’s night and like the Christian paladin he was, ride to the rescue of those stranded under a cold winter sky.  Because he and his family were rescued so many times while trying to survive Marash and the war against humanity, as rescuer, it never occurred to dad to send a bill to those he rescued.  Dad would have said that Jesus rescued us from our bondage to sin, and never sent us a bill, because He paid for the rescuing and the sin on the cross of Calvary.  Dad and mom were examples of those who grew in conformity to the image of Christ, to the mind of Christ.
When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment.  He said, ‘to love the lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and the second is unto the first, to love thy neighbor as thyself.’  Further on in the New Testament, St. John declares that any man who says he loves God, but hates his neighbor, is a liar, and his father is the devil.  Dad hated certain ideas and philosophies, but not people, not even the people who held those philosophies anathema to his thinking.
“When you are a Catholic, miracles happen.”  This was the evangelism for Roman Catholicism that daddy would hear often enough from Johnny Flynn, a close friend, and one of the salesmen that frequented Newtonville Electrical Company, the business established, owned and operated by daddy and his brother, Uncle Paul.  Johnny Flynn was six feet tall, 3 inches taller than my father, had those telltale Irish brown eyes that looked at home on the face of a boy, but always improbable on the face of an adult.  He was a spare man with unsparing freckles over all his face, faded, then, from the onset of middle age.  He was an average catholic for those days of the last years of the Korean War, if you counted the six children he had.  Dad never took issue with Johnny Flynn’s declarations of miracles awaiting any who were blessed to be Roman Catholic or might become Roman Catholic, or his attempts at proselytizing.  On Christmas Eve, 1951, dad got a call from a friend reporting that Flynn’s home had no heat, and had been that way for a couple of days.  Dad wondered why he had not been told by Johnny, a good friend, and then he realized, no doubt, Flynn was too embarrassed to admit he did not have the funds to pay for a service call.  Dad advised Harry Mooseghian, a protégé of his, to meet him late in the evening so they could embark on an adventure together.  When it was dark enough and late enough, while Flynn’s family slept, the two snuck into the cellar of Flynn’s home, through the unlocked bulkhead doors.  Sure enough, the culprit was a faulty oil burner.  Dad returned to his store, found a model identical to the one Flynn had, stole back into the cellar a second time through the bulkhead doors, and exchanged the good oil burner for the ruined one.  The following Friday, Johnny Flynn, visiting dad along with all the regulars that met there on late Friday afternoons for coffee and donuts, breathlessly recounted the tale of the miracle of waking up on Christmas morning, the week before, to a home well heated.  For two days the Flynn family had shivered through the misery of December cold that hovered just above freezing, and on Christmas morning awakened to a home delivered and resurrected from the dead of winter.  Johnny Flynn, flush with the proof of one more miracle in his life, and because of his deep affection for my father, tried again to convert Peter with, “When you are a Catholic, miracles happen.”  Johnny Flynn went to his grave never knowing the story of his deliverance.
Whether it was helping out widows locally, or Armenian orphans in Beirut, or anybody else the Lord called upon him to help, it was done quietly, always.
On March 24, at 1 a.m. Peter told one of his caregivers, that he was going to die that day.  He sang hymns off and on with her until 5 a.m.  Peter said he was going to be with his wife, his brother, his sister, his parents, and his Lord Jesus Christ.  At six a.m., he called for Irene, another caregiver.  When she arrived at the side of his bed, he looked up at her and said, “I am tired”.  With those last words on his lips, Peter Bilezikian passed into heaven.
Peter would be the first one to quote the following scriptures (Romans 8: verse 35, 37, 38, 39) as a testimony to where he was going following the death of his body.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Because Peter Bilezikian was one of the sheep in the pasture of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Great Shepherd, he knew that he would dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.