Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Are you the çeşnici başı for your family?

Sunday morning and leftover sweet potatoes.  What to do?  Let's make pancakes.

Marash Girl put the sweet potatoes (without skins, of course) into the Cuisinart, blended them up 'til smooth, and added enough milk to equal the amount of liquid asked for in the recipe.  In other words, she substituted some of the sweet potatoes for some of the milk.  The batter completed, she dropped the pancakes in tablespoonful onto the griddle, and voila!

Marash Girl:  These pancakes are delicious!  Have some!

Murat:  How do you know they're delicious?

Marash Girl:  I don't follow the old saying, "Yapan Yemez"! Bu yapan yeh!

Murat:  Oh, so you're the çeşnici başı (the taster for the Sultan who will die if the food is poisoned)!
My aunt, a doctor for the employees of a Turkish government factory, had to taste the food before it was fed to the employees.  She was not only a doctor, but the factory's private çeşnici başı!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Politicians in the Sun

Former Massachusetts Commissioner of Community Affairs Leon Charkoudian greets Massachusetts Sheriff of Middlesex County Peter Koutoujian at the Newton YMCA where the sheriff's son Peter was playing soccer yesterday.

Note:  Commissioner Charkoudian's parents were born in Marash; Sherrif Koutoujian's grandparents were born in Marash!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bumia, Murat, and Merrick Farm

Approaching the farm stand on a recent trip to Merrick Farm 
(see http://marashgirl.blogspot.com/2014/09/stopping-by-merrick-farm-on-sunny.html ), Marash Boy gave an exclamation of joy.  Looking up to see what it was that gave Marash Boy such happiness, Marash Girl spied a bin of freshly picked okra -- but each of the okra in the bin was 4 inches long.  Too bad, said Marash Boy.  We can't make bumia with these.  Let me see, said Marash Girl as she bit into one.  They're delicious and crispy, not tough at all!  Of course we can make bumia with this.  And so throwing handfuls of okra into a bag, Marash Girl happily paid Farmer Merrick for what she knew would soon be a delicious Armenian treat!  Home they went with the okra, which Marash Girl displayed in a bowl on the kitchen table as she prepared to make the traditional Armenian Bumia.  In walked Murat, their friend from Turkey, who looked at the okra and exclaimed with disgust, "We throw those away!"  Marash Girl just laughed as she rinsed the okra and began to prepare supper.  

While she sautéed onions and garlic in olive oil in the bottom of a large heavy pot, Marash Girl sliced off the stem ends of the okra (to be tossed into her compost pile in the side yard-- the stems, not the okra), and sliced each okra into half inch pieces.  (Each okra was about 4 inches long including the stem -- certainly a throw-away had she not already eaten one, had she not known how delicious and crunchy they were!)  She then added the okra to the pot, stirred it around, added some leftover spaghetti sauce (she had no canned or fresh tomatoes which she would typically have used), and let the okra simmer for about a half hour, adding freshly squeezed lime juice at the very end; while the okra was simmering she looked around to see what she had to serve it with, and rather than bulgur which she typically would serve with bumia, she found black rice on the shelf and decided to cook that up with  water (rather than the traditional chicken broth -- and anyway, black rice was far from traditional!)  The results were amazing!  The okra was NOT slimy, but rather perfectly al dente and served over the black rice, a real taste treat. Marash Boy and Marash Girl couldn't eat enough of the delicious bumia with black rice!  Murat refused to even taste it!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Students are much nicer than clients!"

Marash Girl asked her friend why, after becoming a lawyer, she went into teaching law rather than "lawyering".  Her friend's answer was clear and to the point.  "Students are much nicer than clients."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Yesterday was 9/11

Yesterday, 9/11 . . . Marash Girl prays for the souls of the nearly 3,000 folks that were lost in the attack, and she  gives her thanks to the Almighty that New York City eventually overcame the horror . . .  that her son  survived 9/11/2001, albeit after witnessing the second plane crash into the World Trade Center from the 38th floor of his office building at 388 Greenwich St., near the Holland tunnel entrance -- no supervisor in sight . . . He and his co-workers on the floor looked at each other, and without a word, walked towards the exit and down the 38 flights of stairs, not knowing what they were fleeing, what was awaiting them, where they would go . . .   at first, trying to return home while most people, after exiting the office building, headed north immediately, he was not allowed south of the Brooklyn Bridge.  So he walked north to a co-worker's place, just north of Canal Street and kept walking, never knowing what he was walking away from, what he was walking towards . . . he  walked on, kept walking north, and survived to tell the horrendous tale.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Iyi dīr ama bir dafa daha yapma!

Marash Boy's grandmother Turvant was the master of understatement. A native of Marash and a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, never did she want to hurt anyone's feelings. As a result, the little woman was often the master of comedy.  Should a dish that her daughter prepared be not to her liking . . . or worse . . .  she would simply say in her first language, "Iyi dīr . . . ama bir dafa daha yapma!" "It's good . . . but don't make it again!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We Grieve the Passing of our Dear Friend and Khnami, Dr. Hrair Atikian

Dr. Hrair Atikian (1940-2014)
46 year Sherman Oaks Resident and Prominent North Hollywood Orthodontist 
Dr. Hrair Atikian, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and uncle, passed away on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 in Burbank, CA due to complications caused by cancer.  He was 74.  Hrair Atikian was a resident of Sherman Oaks for 46 years, and a prominent orthodontist in North Hollywood for more than 35 years.  
Hrair was born on February 25, 1940 in Kessab (Kasab), Syria, the youngest of eight children blessed to Hovhannes and Martha Abdulian.  Two weeks after Hrair's birth, his biological mother passed away, whereupon Hrair was lovingly adopted by his maternal aunt, Efronia Atikian and her husband, Agop Atikian (a well-known chemist and schoolmaster) - whom he always warmly called "Mom and Dad."  The family immigrated to the United States in 1954, settling in Boonton, New Jersey, where Hrair attended Boonton High School and graduated in 1958.  Hrair then attended Cooper Union, where he studied mechanical engineering for two years.  After witnessing a downturn in the engineering industry, Hrair redirected his academic focus and enrolled in New York University (NYU), graduating in 1962 with a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry.  Hrair moved to Boston, and from 1962-1966, Hrair attended Harvard School of Dental Medicine.  He graduated from Harvard Dental School in 1966 with a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree.  
In June of 1966, Hrair married Martha Bilezikian of Newton, Massachusetts.  They moved to Portland, Oregon where Hrair completed a post-doctorate program in Orthodontics at the University of Oregon Dental School.  In 1968, shortly after moving to Studio City, California, Dr. Atikian opened up his own very successful orthodontics practice in North Hollywood, California.  For 35 years, many local youth and adults received orthodontic treatment from Dr. Atikian.  He practiced with honesty and integrity, with a conservative approach.  Hrair was meticulous and dedicated in his practice of orthodontics.  
In late 1970, Hrair and Martha purchased their home in Sherman Oaks, where Hrair resided up until his passing.  Hrair and Martha had three daughters: Katherine ("Katie"), Caroline, and Alison - who brought Hrair much joy, love, and happiness.    
In 1994 Hrair and Martha separated and later divorced.  In 1996, Hrair married Mary (Ekmekji) Britton.  They enjoyed nearly 18 years of marriage, which included travel to Kessab, Syria and other destinations.  Mary lovingly cared for Hrair throughout his illness.  
Dr. Atikian practiced orthodontics until late 2003, at which time he entered an early retirement and sold his practice in order to care for his 34-year old daughter, Katie, in the last months of her life as she courageously battled pancreatic cancer.  The dedication, loyalty, diligence, and relentless sacrifice displayed at this time summarized Hrair's character absolutely.  Hrair was calm, hard working, loving, kind, loyal, and honest to the core.  He was intelligent, and had a quick and subtle wit.   
Hrair was very active in the local community, dedicating time and resources to the Armenian community and several American charitable organizations.  Hrair was involved with the Kessab Educational Association (KEA) since 1969, serving as Chairman three times, as well as Secretary and Treasurer.  Hrair's other civic involvements included: the Kiwanis Club - North Hollywood Chapter from 1969-2010; the United Armenian Congregational Church Deacons' Committee for 11 years, where he served as Chairman for 2 years; and the Merdinian Armenian School for 12 years.  Hrair's 12 years of service to the Merdinian Armenian School included 5 years as the Chairman.
An avid reader, Hrair enjoyed history, archaeology, and anthropology.  Other hobbies included stamp and coin collecting, and spending time with his children, grandchildren, and family - which in his own words were his "raison d'etre" or "reason for being."
Dr. Hrair Atikian is survived by his wife, Mary Atikian; his daughters, Caroline Atikian O'Malley and Alison Sykes; his grandchildren, Shannon Michelle O'Malley and Jack Ryan Kade O'Malley; his son-in-law, John O'Malley; his brothers, Misak, Daniel, and Vasken Abdulian, and their families; and his sister-in-laws, Joyce and Patsy Abdulian, and their families.  Dr. Atikian was predeceased by his daughter, Katie.  
A Memorial Service in Hrair Atikian's honor is scheduled at the United Armenian Congregational Church, 3480 Cahuenga Blvd. West, LA, CA  90068, on Saturday, September, 27th at 10:30 a.m.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School (13330 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks, CA  91423 - Memo Line: Hrair Atikian); or to the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) Kessab, Syria Fund (31 West Century Road, Paramus, New Jersey  07652 - Memo Line: Hrair Atikian).  
This obituary was prepared by Hrair's daughters, Caroline O'Malley and Alison Sykes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Quick Trip Through the Brimfield Antiques Fair, Brimfield Massachusetts≈

A World of Neckties!

Note the Revolver front left!

Prayed for Peace

Garden faucet handles as colorful as the flowers they water!

Take your pick!

Merry Christmas 1892

Have a Coke!  Or some hot peppers?

Medzmama's Kneading Bowl?

It'll cure what ails ya!


Add an outboard motor to your rowboat and off you go!

Don't row, row, row your boat!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Feathers of Healing . . . Musqueam Native Lore

Could she still be there?  They met her two years ago, when they drove up a side street off Route 20 looking for a place to park during the Brimfield Fair.  (See http://marashgirl.blogspot.com/2012/12/rain-snow-and-native-americans.html) "Let's see if we can find the same house."  And Marash Boy, the in-house Indian with his unbelievable sense of direction, found her.  This is the street, he said, and that's the house, and there she is!  But this year there were no signs, and she was alone -- her daughter who had been at her side two years ago had died of a serious illness.  Her friend next door who had been with her last year had macular degeneration and could no longer get around so had moved to an elder care facility.  But there she was, alone, accepting this year only $3 for parking a block from the Brimfield Fair.  Do you remember us? they asked.  Of course, she answered.  You told us about praying for the health of our loved ones whenever we find a bird's feather on the ground.  Yes, she said, and I still do that.   

When I find a feather, I wonder who has fallen ill. You know, when I find a large feather, I know it means a serious illness.  I take the feather inside, place it in a vase or a bottle, and pray for the healing of the ill one.  I pray harder over the larger feather, for the larger feather represents the greater illness, and less insistently over the smaller feathers which represent the less serious illnesses.  My brother died at the beginning of World War I, and then my father moved out of the city --  bought a farm in West Brimfield.  I graduated from Springfield Tech in 1945. My family is from the Musqueam Indian Band  located up by Canada.  Grey Wolf wanted to marry me, but I didn't like him.  I married a man who was half Italian and half Irish.  We loved each other.  

The threesome chatted a bit more, and then Marash Boy and Marash Girl bid farewell to the woman and wandered down the hill to the Brimfield Fair . . . Take a look at the photo below and comment.  What are the chances that, very soon after leaving their Musqueam Native friend, they would find this bottle of feathers at a booth at the Brimfield Antiques Fair?  (The only bottle of feathers they saw during their whole tour of the fair!)
[More photos of the Brimfield Fair tomorrow!] 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Stopping by Merrick Farm on a Sunny Afternoon

Stopping by Merrick Farm on this sunny afternoon, Marash Girl and Marash Boy were in luck!  Farmer Llewelyn Merrick was on hand to greet them and share a few laughs as they selected fresh produce from the Merrick Farmstand.  (Marash Boy was thrilled to find fresh okra for Bumia!)

Long an admirer of the Merricks and Merrick Farm, Marash Girl and family have always purchased fresh corn from the farm at the foot of Wilbraham Mountain. Lorig, Deron & Karoun worked on the farm during their summer vacations.  As Deron once proudly stated to his grandfather after working long and hard one hot summer's day and coming home with a roll of quarters and a bagful of fresh vegetables from the farm, "Look, Grandpa, I'm putting food on the table!"

Farmer Lewellyn Merrick displays his white pumpkin:  "Who grows white pumpkins?" he laughed.

The Merrick Farm Stand at 651 Main Street in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, is open late June through late November, 7 days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Cruelty of Leplebou Ouzoum

Writing yesterday's post (scroll down, see below) on  leplebou ouzoum brought back sad memories as well.  It brought back the memory of the Armenians' days of hunger and want, and Peter's memory of a rich cousin holding out leplebou ouzoum  and asking hungry Peter if he wanted any, six year old Peter saying yes, and the wealthy older cousin laughing and tossing the tasty tidbits into his own mouth,   taunting Peter with the words, "Do you want some?" -- gleefully repeating the cruelty.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Leplebou Ouzoum

Leplebou Ouzoum --  the words themselves are fun to say, almost as much fun as eating the treat -- leplebou ouzum was a quick and easy handful of munchies that Marash Girl's father used to love to eat, and love to talk about.  Simply saying the words brought a smile to his face, as, no doubt, eating the treat did.

A little boy in Marash in the early 1900's, Bedros longed to have a handful of those dry roasted chick peas and raisins -- always available to serve to guests  when he was a little boy (though not available to him during the genocide),  roasted chick peas and raisins offered the perfect balance of bland and sweet, dry and moist, dessert and meal, all in one.

Tears later -- whoops, Marash girl meant to write "years later", leplebou ouzoum continued to bring joy into their home.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Patience of the Blue Heron

A Blue Heron patiently awaits lunch at the base of the Watertown Dam on the
Charles River in Watertown, Massachusetts
Photo by Marash Girl

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Three Cheers for the King!

Marash Girl got a ride back home from the automobile repair shop this morning by a young Moroccan man who had just arrived in Boston after a 6 hour plane flight from Morocco.  When Marash Girl asked him how things were in his country, he said they were fine -- not like in the other parts of that world.

"Why is that?" Marash Girl asked him.

"That's because the other countries have presidents.  We have a king."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cecchi's Farm, Agawam, Massachusetts

Cecchi's Farms, perhaps one of the last surviving farms in Agawam, Massachusetts, continues to supply the greater Springfield (Massachusetts) community with the freshest in local produce.
"Corn so fresh the ears still wiggle!"

Heirloom tomatoes, a la Cecchi's Farm
Cecchi's baby potatoes are as colorful as his heirloom tomatoes!
Many years ago, Medzmama (Marash Boy's Mom) used to look forward to the first frost when Farmer Cecchi became her hero, as he would allow her to go onto the fields and harvest tiny baby eggplant so that she could pickle the rarely prepared Armenian delicacy, stuffed baby eggplant, Marash Boy's favorite, and candied eggplant "patlijan datlusu".

Monday, September 1, 2014

St. Mark's Armenian Festival, Springfield, Massachusetts

Deciding which old favorites to play next are Armenian musicians ( l. to r.)  Dave Ansbigian - guitar; Joe Sarkisian - dumbeg & vocals; Bob Raphalian - oud; Leon Janikian - clarinet           
Arriving later than she would have liked, Marash Girl spent most of yesterday afternoon at St. Mark's Annual Festival, dancing barefoot on the grass to the Armenian music of Leon Janikian, clarinet; Dave Ansbigian, guitar; Joe Sarkisian, dumbeg & vocals; Bob Raphalian. oud. Old country Armenian songs (and the newer  "Catskillin Jampah" played at the request and to the great amusement of the dancers) delighted hundreds of folks from all over the Springfield area (and from all over the world), folks visiting one another as they feasted on shish kebab, pilaf, salad, and home made Armenian pastries.
Folks of all ages enjoyed the festivities!

Waving a white handkerchief,  Haig Rakijian leads
 the ladies in the ancient steps of the traditional Armenian "bar".  Photo by Marash Boy

So taken by the Festival was the rain that it awaited the end of the picnic before displaying its down-pouring powers!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Surprise on Payson Road, Belmont, Massachusetts


Yesterday, parking along Payson Road in Belmont, Massachusetts, Marash Girl wondered where, in actuality, she was when she looked up and saw these Native American plaques  posted on  the telephone pole at the side of the road.   Asking a neighbor what they were and why they were there, the neighbor said that the plaques were there for as long as she had been there, and that perhaps her neighbor was spiritual. . . Marash Girl never learned the real story behind the plaques on the telephone pole, but perhaps you, dear reader, know. . .

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Eat your vegetables!

                         192 Main Street, Sharon Springs, New York 
                           (20-30 miles from Cooperstown, New York) 
                                                           Photo compliments of Peter Kastner

Friday, August 29, 2014

You can always tell . . .

One day Arax decided to visit her cousin Jack  at his store. (Jack was born in Marash, arrived in the USA via Aleppo, fleeing the genocide.) When Arax arrived, Jack was sweeping the floor.  He stopped sweeping, looked up at her, and grinning, said, "You know, you can always tell who the owner is; he's the one with the broom in his hand."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Beware the hot pepper!

At a farm in Granby, Massachusetts, Marash Girl assisted her daughter in gathering vegetables, and this week hot peppers were in abundance!  And were they beautiful.  Deep red and deep green -- so the ladies gathered 2 quarts -- one to keep and one to give away.  Today Marash Girl can barely type these words as her hands are burning from processing those peppers!

Fearless, (and clueless, I might add), Marash Girl had washed those beautiful little peppers in cold water, and  (wearing glasses, luckily) cut those peppers in half, discarding the seeds, readying the peppers for chopping and freezing.  Little did she know that the capsaicin,the chemical in those hot peppers, could float through the air and attack the skin on her face!  Now, almost 18 hours later, her hands still burn -- but then those hands had, after all, touched the peppers, and her face still burns from the capsaicin which floated through the air and attacked the skin on her face with no help from her hands.

Cold water, soap, nothing has helped to stop the burning.

Any suggestions?

Marash Girl's suggestion is that we stay away from those beautiful little peppers unless we have a penchant for burning!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink!

"Wait! Let me give you bottled water to use to brush your teeth!" Those were the words that alerted Marash Girl to the problem with the drinking water in Gloucester, Massachusetts . . . . But she didn't really believe that beautiful Gloucester would have such a problem. . . Her friend continued: "My plumber told me that there has been a serious problem with the water here since they put in the new water pipes in Gloucester -- a chemical from the lining of the pipes seeps into the water -- it's carcinogenic!  And if my plumber told me, it must be true!  What plumbers are so picky about water?"  Well, Marash Girl didn't really believe her friend . . . she figured that her friend was over-reacting to a problem that possibly existed in the past but no longer . . . she didn't believe her until they went out to dinner that night and the waitress greeted them by assuring them that the owner of the restaurant had installed a very expensive water filter to use for any and all of the tap water used in the restaurant . . . for washing, for cooking, for drinking!  But can you really filter out a chemical that is carcinogenic? Marash Girl wondered. And why would anyone buy a house in Gloucester knowing about the water problem?  Obviously, because they didn't know about the water problem . . . Oh, dear . . . .

Fast forward two days . . .  Marash Girl and Marash Boy stopped at Harvard Community Health in Wellesley Hills and there were signs everywhere stating "Per order of the Town of Wellesley, do not use the public water supply" and "Please do not drink from public water supply until further notice!"
Please do not drink from public water supply until further notice!

"Please use Purell only for hand washing until further notice!

What is going on?  And how can a health facility function only on Purell?  Without considering further, Marash Boy and Marash Girl drove on to Wellesley Hills to visit their favorite bakery for a breakfast coffee and pastry.  Marash Girl asked for decaf coffee and was told that the establishment was not making decaf coffee because of the limitation on bottled water, as the public water supply in Wellesley was no longer safe to ingest.  Oh, no! Again?

And just to confirm what the staff had told her, up drove a truck labeled "Brookline Ice & Coal" (were we going back in time, or was it Marash Girl's imagination?), the driver pushing a hand cart of ice to be used by the restaurant which could no longer use ice made with Wellesley water.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Marash Red Pepper

For years, Marash Girl has been recommending Aintep Red Pepper to be used in the traditional Armenian recipes that she has recorded in this blog, and more recently Aleppo Red Pepper, as Aintep red pepper was no longer available.  Perhaps because of the troubles in Aleppo, Aleppo red pepper is no longer available, because it was only recently that she found that her favorite Armenian store  is now selling Marash Red Pepper in Watertown . . . yes, red pepper all the way from Marash, the ancient homeland of her father's family!  Can you believe it?

(Tip to those of you who wish to use this marvelous spice in your Armenian cooking: Massis Bakery is online and ships around the country !)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Artist's Work or Artists Work: Bear Skin Neck, Rockport, Massachusetts

                                 Artist's Work, or Artists Work: Bear Skin Neck, Rockport, Massachusetts             Photo by Marash Girl

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

THE GIVING TREE, Armenian Style

Family Day at Camp Haiastan brought Marash Girl and Marash Boy to Franklin, Massachusetts, to visit with their two grandchildren.  The visit began with one of the campers retelling an Armenian folk tale that Marash Girl had never heard.  

THE GIVING TREE, an ancient Armenian folk tale

Once there was a poor man who went into the forest looking for a tree to cut down so that he could chop it into pieces and sell the wood in the marketplace in order to feed his family.

Finding the largest tree he had ever seen, he began to chop it down.  The tree cried out, why are you hurting me?  The poor man answered, because I must sell your wood in the market place in order to feed my family.  The tree answered, I will give you a magic table so that you will always have food to feed your family.  Just do not chop me down.

The tree gave the poor woodsman a table that would always have food on it, and the woodsman went away happy.  But one day the woodsman was telling a rich neighbor about his table, and the rich neighbor offered the woodsman many pieces of gold for the table.  The woodsman looked at the gold, looked at the table, looked at the gold, and agreed to sell the table to his neighbor.  But after a year, there was no gold left, and the woodsman had to return to chopping wood in order to feed his family. He found the the largest tree he had ever seen, the same tree that had given him the table, and he started to chop it down.  The tree cried out, why are you hurting me?  The poor man answered, because I must sell your wood in the market place in order to feed my family. The tree asked, what happened to the magic table I gave you? The poor man answered, I sold it for gold, and now I have no more gold.

The tree said to the poor man, I will give you a donkey.  How will that donkey help me feed my family? asked the poor man.   Just tell the donkey to bray, and when he does, he will bray gold coins. You will never want again.  But one day the woodsman was telling another rich neighbor about his donkey, and that rich neighbor offered to buy the donkey for more pieces of gold than the woodsman had ever seen.  The woodsman looked at the gold, looked at the donkey, looked at the gold, and agreed to sell the donkey to his neighbor.  But after a year,  there was no gold left, and the woodsman had to return to chopping wood in order to feed his family. He found the the largest tree he had ever seen, the same tree that had given him the donkey, and he started to chop it down.  The tree cried out, why are you hurting me?  The poor man answered, because I have no money left to feed my family.  The tree asked, what happened to the donkey that I gave you? The poor man answered, I sold it for gold, and now I have no gold left.  The tree answered,  See this stick?  and the tree told the stick to beat the man.  Stop, stop, shouted the man.  The tree told the stick to stop, and told the man, I will give you this stick, and every time you tell it to beat someone, it will do so until you tell it to stop.  The poor man thanked the tree, took the stick and went to his rich neighbor.  Do you see this stick, he asked his neighbor.  It is a magic stick.  And he told the stick to beat his rich neighbor.  The neighbor cried out, please tell your stick to stop beating me!  I will tell the stick to stop beating you if you return my table to me, and so the rich neighbor returned the magic table to the poor man, and the poor man told the stick to stop beating his neighbor.  Then  the poor woodsman went to the rich neighbor that had bought the donkey from him, and said to the rich neighbor,  Do you see this stick?   It is a magic stick.  And he told the stick to beat the rich neighbor who had purchased the magic donkey.  The rich neighbor cried out, please tell your stick to stop beating me!  I will tell the stick to stop beating you if you return my donkey to me, and so the rich neighbor returned the magic donkey to the poor man, the poor man told the stick to stop beating his neighbor, and the poor man was never poor again.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"Parev, arev!" "Բարեւ արեւ!"

"Grandpa Peter" used to love to tell the story of an Armenian friend from Marash who would always greet him with the words, "I don't say hello to that sun up there, but I say hello to you!"

Marash Girl wonders if that was an expression left from ancient days when Armenians worshipped the sun and folks would greet the sun with "Բարեւ"!  Even the greeting 'Parev' (hello in Western Armenian) appears to be a coming together of the two words good (pari) sun (arev) . . .

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Good Harbor, Salt Island, and Midia Dolma

Now barren of seaweed and mussels, these rocks at Good Harbor, Gloucester, Massachusetts, are the very place where, as a child, Elaine gathered fresh mussels with her grandmother, mussels which her grandmother would use to make Midia Dolma . . .

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Who's fault is it?

"It's always the man's fault . . . by default!"   Murat

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Roman Catholicism: Are you Irish or Italian?

Recently,  talking with an Irish Roman Catholic friend about the difference between the way the Italians and the Irish practice Roman Catholicism, Marash Girl's friend quoted Father Michael Craig's quip: "The Italians make the rules and the Irish follow them."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Attention: Nutella lovers!

Nutella begins in Turkey (who knew?) with the hazelnut, and Turkey's hazelnut crop has been affected by bad weather . . .  a late spring frost!  So stock up on Nutella while you can, you lovers of Nutella, as there are 50 hazelnuts in every pound of Nutella.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kids say the darndest things . . . with thanks to Art Linkletter.

Talking with her grandchildren about Camp Haiastan, Marash Girl commented, "I wish I could be a camp counselor there; it would be so much fun!  But I don't think they hire folks my age. . . "  

Iffar, one of the soon to be campers at Camp Haiastan and Marash Girl's grandson, commented, "You could tell them you got into an accident on the way over and that's why you look that way!"

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What is that smell?

On vacation in Chatham, Marash Girl decided to shop at the local farmer's market to buy her vegetables, rather than at the local Stop and Shop.  The produce was at least twice the price of the vegetables at the supermarket, but worth every penny, she thought.

Onions . . . I need fresh onions, she thought, and so she whipped out a $5 bill and purchased a pound of onions.  Happily returning back to the cottage, she placed the onions along with the garlic in a bowl on the kitchen counter, pleased that she would be serving her family fresh, tasty, local produce, but as it turned out, the weather turned hot and the meals she prepared, offsetting the weather, became fresh salads rather than simmered soups.

Less than a week passed before she and her family began smelling a stench that could be none other than a dead animal.  A mouse? A chipmunk? Fresh fish that had fallen under the stove top? What could it be?  The smell was unbearable.  Everyone in the house started the hunt.  Under the stove, in the stove, under the stove top units . . . nothing there.  With the fan on to make it possible to enter the kitchen without gagging, we continued the hunt.  Slowly the guests left (was it the stench that chased them away?), and Marash Girl continued the hunt -- 

The weather turned cool.  Marash Girl decided to use the freshly harvested onions to prepare soup. . . By now, dear reader, you may have guessed the conclusion to this tale.  The stench in the kitchen was not a dead animal, but rather a dying onion from the fresh produce she had purchased less than a week earlier!

Friday, August 15, 2014

On Tap: WBUR's Bob Oakes Interviews Matti Kovler

At a reception prior to his interview with Bob Oakes, Matti Kovler (far left) poses with Newton Corner admirers on WBUR's outdoor deck.
Musician, composer, performer and (surprise to us all) humorist Matti Kovler kept his audience and Bob Oakes of WBUR's Morning Edition entertained yesterday evening at WBUR's On Tap .
Funny, humble, and a world-renowned composer/musician, Matti Kovler, who also teaches music and composition, recently received his Doctorate from Boston's New England Conservatory of Music.  He was born in Moscow and moved to Israel when he was 10.  Still in the Israeli army reserves, Matti talked about his family,his life growing up, his life with music, his life as a world citizen, as a  teacher of music, a musician, a composer of music.  [WBUR's announcement described his music as blending "folk, jazz and classical traditions, with influences ranging from Jewish folklore to Antonin Artaud. Click here to listen to the music of Matti Kovler."]

The first song he performed, a traditional Jewish lyric, was a haunting melody which, Kovler related, once caused the Hassidic Jews in his audience to close their ears because the music was too sacred to be performed in public.  The song contained the repeated lyric, Vy, Vy, Vy, an expression which is most familiar to those of us who speak Armenian and/or Turkish!

Matti emphasized that Jewish music was far more than the music popularized by  "Fiddler on the Roof".

Bob Oakes (left) and Matti Kovler yesterday during an interview at WBUR's On Tap.  Photo by Marash Girl

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Eşek hoşaftan ne anlar?

Recently Marash Girl witnessed a conversation between a man and two women, one woman who was  clearly madly in love with the man, the other woman who was married and could care less.  The man was oblivious, chatting away with both women, completely unaware of the overweening love . . .

How sad, Marash Girl thought.

When Marash Girl related the story to a friend, he replied with an old Turkish expression that Marash Girl had never heard before.

Eşek hoşaftan ne anlar?

Don't bother going to Google Translate because it doesn't tell you what it means . . .

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams: May God rest his soul

With difficulty, Marash Girl listened yesterday to the sad news about the death by suicide of the famous, well-loved actor/humorist Robin Williams.  The tragedy caused Marash Girl to remember a story that her father often told.

There was a man who was very, very sad, so sad that he finally decided to go to a doctor for help.  The doctor listened to the sad man, thought for a moment, and said, "I know the perfect cure!  Go and watch a performance by Pagliacci.  He will make you laugh!"  

"But doctor," despaired the man, "I am Pagliacci!"

N.B. Pagliacci is the title of a well-known Italian opera about a famous clown by the same name; in Italian, pagliacci means clown.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Need help in identifying this shore bird!

On a Sunday afternoon walk along the perimeter of Schoolhouse Pond, (the fresh water kettle pond in Chatham, Massachusetts), Marash Girl spied a bird she had never seen before.  Grabbing her iPhone, she snapped the following photos.  Can any of you readers out there identify the bird for her? Could it be a type of heron?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wanna go to the Hookers Ball?

Saturday night and nothing to do . . . "Wanna go to the Hookers Ball?"
"I said, Wanna go to the Hookers Ball?  It's right down the street . . . didn't you see the big white tent and all the ladies all dressed  up?  There's a big sign that says, Parking for Hookers Ball in the Ocean State Job Lot Parking Lot!  Too bad we didn't bring the right clothes with us!"


"The Hookers Ball -- it's a fundraiser for the local fishermen and fishing industry that's been going on here in Chatham for the last few years . . . "

Marash Girl, somewhat relieved, would have loved to have gone, but unfortunately, didn't have the right outfit for the occasion!
The Hooker's Ballroom

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Part Two

Leaving the Cape Cod League Baseball Game last night in Brewster, Massachusetts, a game between the Brewster White Caps (who, by the way, wore dark blue caps) and the Harwich Mariners, Marash Girl spied a pink bumper sticker on the back bumper of a car in the parking lot:

Whether or not the sticker was commenting on the results of the game (Harwich Mariners 5, Brewster White Caps 0), Marash Girl was not sure.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Take me out to the ball game . . . .

Attending a Cape Cod League Baseball Game last night in Brewster, Massachusetts, a game between the Brewster White Caps (who, by the way, wore dark blue caps) and the Harwich Mariners, Marash Girl overheard an old gent calling over to his friend:

"Got the results back from my brain scan; the doc said there was nothing there . . .
I coulda told him that!"

Friday, August 8, 2014

Happy Birthday, Otro Baba!

and apologies for being a day late!  Every August 7, we all gathered to celebrate (more recently in Wilbraham) -- to celebrate the birthday of the man who was born in Marash in 1912, ran barefoot through the streets, fought with his Armenian friends and Kurdish non-friends in the mountains with Old-Testament style sling-shots, fearlessly survived a genocide, arrived in Newton when he was 8 years old, ran shod (no longer barefoot) with the Irish boys through the streets of Brighton, later to graduate from Watertown High School with a scholarship to MIT which he could never take advantage of as his ede (older brother) told him he had to help support his family. (Peter often joked about the fact that yes, he went to MIT and walked right past it!)  Started a successful business with his brother (Newtonville Electrical Company) in Newtonville, Massachusetts, first in his Uncle Vartan's building on Bowers Street, and then on Newtonville Avenue in a building he and his brother had built, married the beautiful Jennie (Lucille Mae Vartanian), had three beautiful children, and lived to be 97 and a half years old, contributing to the world around him through his work and his thought: Peter lived his faith and died singing praises to the Lord.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

On the Shores of School House Pond, Chatham, Massachusetts

Here is where a picture is worth any words that Marash Girl might utter.

Hmmmmm . . .  words fail her because she's having too much fun!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014