Wednesday, July 27, 2016

May God Rest Your Soul, Cousin Charlie

The Lord is our Shepherd. We shall not want . . .
Photo of stain glass window in Newton Presbyterian Church.
This is a difficult piece to write.  There is so much to say that Marash Girl cannot put into words, but she will try her best, through a veil of tears.

Yesterday, Marash Girl's dear cousin Charlie Bilezikian (better known these days as Chuck, and to  outer members of his circle of friends, as the successful founder of the Christmas Tree Shops), Marash Girl's dear cousin Charlie passed away.

Marash Girl would like to tell you about the Charlie she knew way back when they were kids growing up together in Newton. 

Her earliest memories of Charlie begin when he lived downstairs (Auntie Bea, Uncle Kay, Charlie and his older sister Nancy) and Marash Girl and her family (Peter and Jennie and Martha [before James was born], Paul and Zabelle and Pauline [before Johnnie was born], and Grandma Yepros and Grandpa Moses] lived upstairs in the white clapboard house at 474/476 Lowell Avenue, Newtonville.  She remembers playing on those steep stairs with Charlie, going from the first floor to the second and back down to the first floor again -- a game that her parents would never allow her to play, but Charlie and Nancy and the Kasparian cousins loved to play and always included Marash Girl!

Marash Girl got a train set one Christmas that she didn't know how to work -- it was set up on the third floor  (where Grandma and Grandpa lived) in her father's former bedroom  -- she was too young -- but Charlie knew now to work the train; he loved to watch that Lionel streamliner travel in circles around it's little track, and she loved to watch Charlie watch the train . . .

Charlie attended Claflin (Elementary) School as did Marash Girl.  When Marash Girl entered first grade, Charlie was in fourth grade.  Marash Girl always felt confident in school . . . Why?  Because she knew that all she had to do was reach out to her cousin Charlie if she ever needed help and he would be there for her.  

When Marash Girl entered Newton High School, Charlie, of course, was there ahead of her.  He was the most popular boy in high school, and as such had been elected the President of his class.

Everyone loved Charlie; he had a kind word for anyone he spoke with; he always reached out to those around him. . . 

When he became a man, he married wonderful Doreen, and had two children of his own; he set up shop on Cape Cod (the very first Christmas Tree Shop) and became as popular on Cape Cod as he had been in high school.  But being Charlie, he always shared that success with family, and Charlie and Doreen soon began the tradition of sponsoring huge family gatherings every summer at his home in Yarmouth.

The Christmas Tree Shops became wildly popular, and soon Charlie and Doreen set up the Bilezikian Family Foundation, Inc., which reaches out to fund worthy causes on Cape Cod and in Armenia.

To this day, folks (often strangers she meets for the first time on the Cape and in Newton) will say to Marash Girl, "You're Charlie's cousin? What a wonderful guy!"

Now Charlie has gone ahead of us to join his mother Bea, his father Kay, Marash Girl's mother Jennie and father Peter, and Charlie will be there when we join them all one day.  Marash Girl is confident of that.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Fossil that Marash Girl Kicked Home

Marash Girl was so excited. There she was, in the dell, at the spring on the corner of Lowell Avenue and Hull Streets, and she found . . . was it?  yes, it was1  A fossil!  Afraid to pick it up with her hands, for fear that it had ancient germs still attached, she kicked it all the way up from the mouth of the spring to the sidewalk, and then all the way up the sidewalk bordering Lowell Avenue to her home at the top of the hill.  Arriving breathless, she called to her father to show him her "find" (she had left the "fossil" at the bottom of their steep flight of stairs). Her father descended the stairs.   Upon spying the item, her father chortled, "That's not a fossil . . .that's just an old bone that an old dog forgot at the spring when he was getting a drink. . . but look at how you've destroyed your new shoes, kicking this bone all the way home!"

Needless to say, Marash Girl was crushed, so crushed that she remembers the incident to this day!

(For more on  the Spring on Lowell Avenue, see Marash Girl's blog for Monday, August 3, 2015: Grandpa Moses and the Spring on Lowell Avenue.)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Butternut Squash for 8

A while back, in late autumn, Marash Girl had friends over for dinner and served roast chicken with veggies (the veggies washed and peeled surrounding the chicken. (The easiest meal you'll ever make!)  Included in the oven in a separate pan was unpeeled butternut squash with an inch of water at the bottom of the pan.

"I love butternut squash but I never make it.  It takes forever to peel and cut up!" said one of my guests. . .  "Yours is absolutely delicious!"

In fact, Marash Girl remembers her mother struggling to hold and peel the butternut squash before she boiled it to serve to her family.

Doesn't everyone know that all you have to do is rinse off the butternut squash, throw it in the oven with whatever else you're roasting -- whether it be chicken or roast beef or anything else -- and once the butternut squash is soft to the touch, remove it from the oven, cut it in half lengthwise, remove and toss the innards (the dark stringy stuff holding the seeds . . . and the seeds, of course), spoon out the flesh of the squash, separating it from the skin, mash that lovely, orange, now softened squash with a fork or potato masher, add butter, salt, pepper, and, if you like, cinnamon or clove or nutmeg or all three -- but very sparingly -- and there you have it!  Easy and delicious!

So why is Marash Girl writing this on the hottest, most humid summer's day that we have had so far?  Wishful thinking, I guess.  Wishing for the cool days of autumn!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Looking for Yard Sale Signs?

If you're in Kittery, Maine, and it's a Saturday, try looking for Free Signs!  Apparently, most of the yard sales in Kittery, Maine, occur on Friday, so by Saturday, anything that hasn't sold is free. . . or was it just a fluke that weekend when we were there at the end of June?  Fluke or not, it was lots of fun for Marash Girl and lots of grief for Marash Boy . . . needless to say, he hates yard sales, and hates free stuff even more!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

WBUR On Tap: The 2016 Presidential Election

This past Thursday, a beautiful summer's evening, WBUR political enthusiasts gathered on  'BUR's outdoor deck to enjoy a light repast preceding a talk by Mark Singer, author of Trump and Me, and Ellen Fitzpatrick, author of The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidencythe talks  moderated by WBUR Executive Director of News Content, Richard Chacón.  Although the festivities preceding the talks were upbeat, the talks themselves left the audience  asking the question, "What can we do?"
Game show on the deck!
Mark Singer offers his book, TRUMP AND ME, for sale.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Yard Sale, Boston Style!

Photo by Marash Girl

A yard sale on Newtonville Avenue in Newtonville, just down the street from where her father had built Newtonville Electrical Co., Inc. --  This yard sale got Marash Girl to stop and actually buy something -- for two reasons -- the yard sale sign made her laugh -- the first time she had ever seen such a sign in all her years of yardsaling --  and the fact that a man was running the yard sale -- another first in all her years of yardsaling!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Leave It There!

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there!  That hymn contained the message that Grandpa Moses conveyed to his granddaughter Marash Girl all those many years ago. . . It wasn't enough to pray.  It was a must to pray, but after praying, to leave it to the Lord, to leave the burden in the Lord's hands.  NOT continue to carry it around.

A cartoon that Marash Girl saw years later reminded her of her grandfather and this hymn -- a cartoon  that she remembers to this day . . . a cartoon that showed a fellow asking for help with his burden, but refusing to give that heavy pack over to the person who had offered to help; the burdened man continued with his burden on his back, although his friend was at his side, packless, burdenless, ready and willing to help.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Trouble With A Good Book

The trouble with reading a good book is that you can never drag yourself away from it!  All else falls by the wayside, even the book, after you fall asleep reading it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"But I Didn't Want To Cross The Street!"

A preacher friend and Marash Girl were chatting the other day about a sermon series she (the preacher, not Marash Girl) was planning.  The subject of the series was to be "The Good Samaritan".  Marash Girl began to laugh.  

"What are you laughing at?" asked the preacher.  

"The title of your sermon . . . it brought to mind a cartoon I saw many years ago -- a cartoon of a young Boy Scout tugging at the sleeves of an old woman, helping her across the street.  When the two arrived at the other side of the street, the old woman turned to the little Boy Scout and said, 'But I didn't want to cross the street!' "

Monday, July 18, 2016


It hadn't rained for weeks here in the eastern part of Massachusetts, and our gardens were desperate as were the gardeners.  So desperate that Marash Girl and her neighbor decided to do a rain dance late that afternoon; the two of them stood in the middle or the street (a short, no exit street, removing all fear of getting hit by passing motorists) and danced as they had never danced before, praying for rain.  It was not very long after, perhaps several hours, that the heavens opened, the rain came down in a fury, the thunder roared, the lightening blazed . . .  The lesson to be learned here?  Be careful what you dance for . . . .

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Attempted Coup: A Black Flag Operation

" Turkey's Erdogan Reasserts Control After Attempted Coup" - Wall Street Journal

Erdogan will now be able to restore the death penalty and all the other niceties of Sharia law, like beheading and stoning of women and the list is, well, you know, long. 
He will restore the caliphate and absorb Isis. There are already those who are calling him a God. This puts the end times calendar into overdrive, many will think, I guess. 
Absolute power, absolute dictatorship. And what do the ingenues at Fox call it? The rise of an autocrat. Now that's a nice word, and few in this country even know the meaning of it. But, it sure does sound better than dictator. Wasn't Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior's father, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., described as an autocrat at the breakfast table?  Ah yes, the good old days of huggy bears and plutocrat autocrats. . .  

Written by James Peterson the night of the event.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

"I never felt this way about a woman before!"

So here's a NYC story for you . . . Yes, in the day, Marash Girl lived and studied and worked in New York City.  While she was attending Columiba University Graduate School, it was recommended that she apply for the position of guidance counselor in Yonkers, New York.  Calling in to Yonkers from New York City, she experienced a "dead space" where she heard folks chatting, but no ring tone.  She hung up and tried again the next day.  Again, the same thing happened.  On her third try, she decided to ask the folks on the line what was going on.  They explained that this was indeed a "dead zone", an empty "meeting place" which they had encountered while trying to dial into Yonkers from New York City.  We decided to meet daily, which we did, in this dead telephone space, and after several weeks of getting to know each other, we decided to meet in person at a local coffee shop.  Meet we did, and we all liked each other, so much so that one of the fellows invited Marash Girl out on a date.  The date was lovely, and at the end of the evening, the fellow (can't remember his name at the moment) kissed her good night.  Following the kiss, he whispered, "I've never felt this way about a woman before," as he bid Marash Girl (who was not known as Marash Girl at that time) farewell.     No-one had ever uttered those words to Marash Girl before.  Marash Girl was elated.  But wait as she might, the fellow never called her back for a second date.  Confused, she picked up the telephone and called into the "dead space" and found one of the fellow's friends in the "chat room".  Confessing to him her confusion, he replied, "Well, what do you expect? He rooms with his professor."  "So what?" replied Marash Girl.  "But they share the same bedroom," her friend replied.  "So?" Marash girl queried.  "But they share the same bed.  His professor would kill him if he ever found out!" 

And that, dear reader, was the end of that . . .

Friday, July 15, 2016

Has anyone out there ever heard of Mangosteen?

                                             Absolutely delicious, but even one bite costs!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What do you guys in Marash have to say about this?

Marash Boy says, "Niiçin bir Marash Girl var?  Bes bir ish bilir, maraştan olsun,
 isteyorsin  . . .  "

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Make Way For Whales!

                                                     Barnstable, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

If Robert McCloskey wrote the world-famous children's book, "Make Way For Ducklings", who will write the book, "Make Way For Whales"?  It would make for "A Whale of a Tale", although that tale's already been written.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What defines art?

One day, Haig, the fellow Marash Girl wrote about yesterday, visited Andrea and Marash Girl in their rental apartment in the upper West Side of New York City. (Actually, the apartment overlooked the river and was sublet from a man who was a painter, an artist, as it were.)  Haig, on his first visit  to the apartment, was horrified by the "traditional" canvases that were on the wall, and went around the apartment,  removing all the paintings from the wall and hiding them in a closet. "These are not art!" he exclaimed;"they belong in a closet, not on a wall."

Monday, July 11, 2016

Good for me, Not for you!

Living in New York City many years ago, Marash Girl met many an interesting character, one of whom became a good friend. His name was Haig, and yes, he was Armenian and an artist who painted on canvas.  (Actually, she first met him at Camp Haiastan. . . she was dancing the Armenian line dance, he broke into the line on one side of her, his friend on the other, and that was the beginning of a long friendship. . . ) She dated him at first, but soon the relationship got old and she and he moved on to greener pastures, as it were.  One day, when Marash Girl returned to NYC for a visit, she called Haig to see how he was doing.  He said that he couldn't talk at the moment, because he was with his girlfriend.  

"That's good," said Marash Girl, pleased that he had found someone else.

"Good for me, not for you!" was his answer, an answer that makes Marash Girl grin, even to this day!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

What a difference a ribbon makes!

"She always wears a ribbon in her hair."  Grandpa Moses, so pleased, said referring to Mummy (Jennie Vartanian) when she first joined the family in 1940!

"She always wears a ribbon in her hair."  said Ama, smiling at her new granddaughter Dylan Marie, and her very own Megan!

What difference does a ribbon make? It makes everyone who sees it smile! Pony tails do, too!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Appears the Dishwasher

An interesting phenomenon in contemporary life is the dishwasher and the lonely job of filling it . . . Marash Girl remembers the old days when washing and wiping dishes was a social affair . . .  perhaps you, dear reader, are too young to remember that . . .  Today, everyone has his/her own style of filling a dishwasher . . . granted . . . but most irksome is when the one who refuses to fill the dishwasher chooses to rearrange the arrangement of dishes placed in the dishwasher by the dish washer! Your take on this, dear reader?

N.B.  Did you know that washing dishes in a dishwasher is not only more sanitary, but saves water?  It's true!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Heart of the Matter

Who doesn't love the heart (the center) of the watermelon?  Don't all shout at once!

When Marash Girl was little, she used to tell her father that when she grew up and earned her own money, she would only eat the centers of the watermelon.

He doubted her promise.

Today, she starts with the heart, but doesn't "have the heart" to toss out the rest!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chew 100 Times Before Swallowing

It's funny what you remember about folks . . . Marash Girl still remembers being told by her Cousin Ruthie, now long since passed away, that whenever she takes a mouthful of food, she should chew that mouthful one hundred times before swallowing.

If Marash Girl had followed her cousin's advice, Marash Girl would be the sveltest (is there such a word?) woman in town!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

More on P

Spending time with her 9 year old grandson brought back memories of her own elementary school days and the jokes that the boys used to tell.  She wondered if the jokes were still alive and well in Maryland all these many years later, so she decided to ask her grandson . . . 

"Have you heard the joke that Marash Girl heard from David Seeley in 3rd grade at Claflin School? . . . it went like this.  

Teacher:  David, please recite the alphabet.
Teacher:  What happened the the 'P'?
David:  The 'P' went down the toilet.
And of course, all the boys howled with delight, while the girls were embarrassed and the teacher's face turned a bright red."

Iffar answered, "Oh, that joke!  We still tell it.  It goes like this . . .

David, waving his hand in class frantically in class, is ignored by the teacher.

Finally the teacher calls on David, and asks him to recite the alphabet.  David asks if he may be excused to go to the boys' room first.  The teacher replies, "After you recite the alphabet . . . "

So David dutifully recites the alphabet.


"What happened to the 'P'?" asks the teacher.

David replies, chagrined, "It's running down my pants leg."

N.B.  In her day, the "pee" joke was considered a "dirty joke" and Marash Girl never retold it until all these many years later . . . although she remembered it (obviously)!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Jimmy Hovagimian, Super Glue and the Golden Crown!

Now, after many thousands of dollars spent, and her incalcitrant crown (not the one on her head, but the one in her mouth) popping off once again, Marash Girl has come to appreciate family friend Jimmy Hovagimian's efforts at retaining his own crown . . . it was many years ago when her mom and dad were laughing uncontrollably over Farmer Jimmy's efforts to recement the crown on a back molar in his mouth with Super Glue. . .  

Who's laughing now?  Not Marash Girl!  Where's that Super Glue?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Pausing Over a Cube of Cheese . . .

Marash Girl was at Whole Foods yesterday, stocking up on treats for the Fourth of July.  Pausing at a display for the featured cheddar cheese of the day, she accepted the small tooth-picked cube offered her, tasted it . . . delicious!  How much was this cheese?  $39.95/lb.?  Yikes!  In that case, how much was the cube she had just tasted valued at?  You do the math, while she samples another cube of cheddar cheese!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Daniel Benayun's POSTORICAL at Newton Free Library Through July 28th, 2016

Marash Girl just happened by the library yesterday to grab some books by Sherman Alexei, and guess what she ran into?  Daniel Benayun (above) greeting folks at the opening of his art exhibit, standing before Marash Girl's favorite of his works of art.  His paintings, he says, "explore and reconstruct the magical idealism of mid-20th Century advertising."  He sees himself as the "creator of an anti-capitalistic zeitgeist that resurrects the wonder and intrigue of print advertising."  On view at the Newton Free Library, Newton, MA, through July 28th, 2016.
Photo of postcard advertising Benayun's art exhibit at the Newton Free Library.
Blurriness is Marash Girl's fuzzy photography!

MASS MoCA on a Beautiful Summer's Day

Karoun Charkoudian, experienced Yoga practitioner and instructor, holds up the supports of the Sprague Family Bridge at Mass Moca (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, Massachusetts.                                                                               Photo by Marash Girl

The visit to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art left Karoun and Marash Girl in awe; whether or not the trip was worth getting lost on a narrow curvy mountain road at sunset in North Western Massachusetts is the question.
Photo taken by Marash Girl from a "factory" window at Mass Moca.  As Karoun commented, "Unlike the factory workers of today -- i.e., the folks who work in office cubicles -- the factory workers of yesteryear had only to look out of the window (if they were given that opportunity) to find  beauty all around them.        Photo by Marash Girl

Friday, July 1, 2016

Pray with Marash Girl, Cont'd

Cousin Charlie has been released from Mass. General and has returned home with hospice.

We are all loving you and praying for you, my dear cousin!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

When Life Gives You Rocks . . .

When life gives you rocks . . .  all of the farmers of New England were given rocks and what did they do?  They built the beautiful rock walls that line the back roads of New England.

But what if life gives you stones?

Peter, Marash Girl's father, had the answer to that . . . his back yard was full of stones and he wanted a stone-free garden, so what did he do? He gave a party!  Yes, a stone gathering party, a nickel a stone, with hotdogs and soft drinks for all.

Or, of course, you could always make stone soup . . .

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Caring for the Homeless

Overheard in a Springfield Park:

I'm leaving this empty Coke can on the ground outside of the trash can so that the homeless won't have to grovel in the trash can to retrieve it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Native American Walks Into A Bar . . .

There she was in Phoenix, Arizona. It was 2002.  (Back then she hadn't started writing her blog yet, so there are no photos or blog entries; only memories.)   She was lucky enough to hire a fellow to guide her through the petroglyphs outside of Phoenix.  The petroglyphs were magnificent . . . the petroglyphs, that is, that had survived the tourists . . . the petroglyphs that hadn't been chiseled out of the rock by idiots who wanted to decorate the fireplaces in their summer homes . . . 

Marash Girl got to talking with the tour guide.  He was a local, and a Native American.  Marash Girl asked him about his experience as a Native American living in Phoenix.  He told her the following . . .
"Just one example, then . . . My wife (a non-Native) and I walked into a bar and sat down at one of the tables.  We ordered drinks . . . she ordered a glass of wine, and I ordered a beer.  The waiter served her wine.  We waited.  The waiter wandered past our table, with never a glance.  My wife asked him where my beer was . . . The waiter said, 'Oh, no problem. . . it's coming.'  We waited another five minutes and asked again.  The waiter said, 'Yes, coming right out.'  This scenario repeated itself for the next half hour.  The waiter never refused to serve me.  He simply never served me."

(For more on this subject, see Marash Girl's Post for  Thursday, May 12, 2016  "Navaho in Harvard Square")

Monday, June 27, 2016

Pray With Marash Girl!

We are all praying for Chuck Bilezikian, who is in Mass. General Hospital, in critical condition.  May God be with you, Charlie.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Walking along Congress Street in Boston, Marash Girl came upon a cautionary sign warning her of a "hollow sidewalk", a phenomenon of which she had never heard.  By the time she had seen the sign, it was already too late to get off the sidewalk!  What was going on?  When she returned home, she turned to trusty Google, where she read the following:  "Below any ordinary looking Back Bay (Boston) sidewalk, there may be a basement vault that was once used for storage or coal delivery. While the city has the responsibility for maintaining the sidewalk, care for the structure below is in private hands and may not be up to bearing the weight of a vehicle."  As her friend Jack Hackett used to comment, "Yikes!"  Or, as this is Sunday, Marash Girl will remind all of us to "pray without ceasing", especially when walking the streets of Boston!
                                                                                     Photo by Marash Girl

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bad Boys?

Lorig called Marash Girl, so excited that her children were bad boys.   

Bad boys? Marash Girl queried. . . 

Yes, bad boys! replied Lorig proudly.  

Marash Girl was confused. Why would Lorig be proud that her children were bad boys?

To get the answer, Marash Girl had to check Facebook, where Lorig wrote,

"It's Raffi's first night as Silver Spring Takoma Thunderbolts Batboy. So far, so good. All bats have come off the field. Aline is also a batgirl so it seems I'll be spending my summer nights here. If you like baseball, come join me."
                                                                                                                                                              Photo by Lorig

Friday, June 24, 2016

Take me out to the ball game . . . .

                                                     Boston's  Fenway Park, June 22, 2016                                 Photo by Marash Girl
Thanks to Habitat For Humanity in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Stephanie Talanian who won the tickets to this Red Sox Game (The Sox almost won the game . . . ), Marash Girl got to be in Fenway Park this past Wednesday  . . . the first time in a very long time!

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Overheard at a local steakhouse:

"I had a salad. That counts as a vegetable, right?"

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vassal Lane, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Grandma Yester (Bosnian) Vartanian and Grandpa Garabed Vartanian, immigrants from Aintab in the Ottoman Empire, settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  They bought a three-decker house: 47 Vassal Lane, Cambridge, Massachusetts . . . the house where Marash Girl's mother Lucille Mae (known as Jennie -- that's Jennie with an "ie" not an "ey", Jennie would always say) . . . where Jennie, Lydia, and George grew up. Garabed ran a "Ma and Pa" store in Harvard Square (it was only Pa, though) and Yester rented out the first two floors of their 3-decker home in Cambridge.  They arrived as immigrants, and made it in the good old USA!  Marash Girl is so proud of them!  Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa.

N.B.  Somewhere in a drawer, lost long ago, is a photo of Grandpa Garabed Vartanian who played the piano in a band in Aintab!  He must be the source of all the musical talent in our family!  Grandma Jennie, though she never had a lesson in her life, could play any popular tune on the piano . . . by ear!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Leaving Aintab Before the Genocide

Not sure when, but Grandma Yester nee Bosnian had loss in her life early on.  A first marriage to a Bezjian ended in disaster as her young husband was murdered during one of the early massacres (mid-19th Century) in the City of Adana, Ottoman Empire.  Some time after that, she married Garabed Vartanian, of Aintab, and left Turkey to come to the United States (Cambridge, Massachusetts), early in the 20th Century.  One of Marash Girl's earliest memories is Grandma Yester describing her ascent onto the boat in Turkey with her husband Garabed as the Turkish folks on shore beckoned her to return . . . she said, "I knew what they were capable of . . . " (of course, she said this to Marash Girl in Armeno-Turkish) . . . "No way was I going to stay and risk our murders by these people."  Yes, Marash Girl must have been 5 years old at the time, but she still remembers her grandmother Yester's words.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Weaving to Survive . . .

"Armenian ladies weaving a rug at a workshop on Aintab's Sahveli Street, inside the Armenian (Hayk) sector. I would presume the photo was taken over 100 years ago. Some of these rugs took over six months to make." Thanks to Cesar Jacques Khekijian for posting the photo.
Click this link to see Marash Girl's post on her family's weaving to survive during the war in Marash. Her family from Aintab had fled before the genocide . . . more on that in her next post . . .

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Digging Up Maple Avenue 24-7

Yes, 24-7, the construction vehicles roar as they dig up this little dead end street, short and sweet, known as Maple Avenue.  (Yes, it's lined with Maple Trees.)  It used to be a quiet little enclave, with only the slightest whisper of automobile  traffic from the not so far off Massachusetts Turnpike.  But not any longer.  The construction is continuing until the gas lines get replaced, and continuing means the continuing roar of machinery, machinery that never stops, roar that never stops and will not stop for days until the project is complete.  Impossible to garden, impossible to think, impossible to sleep, impossible . . . .

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hit and Run On The YMCA Track

Hit and run on the YMCA track . . . not so uncommon . . . last week a runner running on the inside track (the slow track) clipped a walker who had been walking on the second ring . . . no apology . . . not even a thank you, ma'am!.  This week a little girl riding her bike around the YMCA track (illegally, by the way -- no bikes allowed on the track) hit an elderly woman smack on the back side -- (an elderly woman who had been walking around the track) . . . her father (the little girl's, not the elderly woman's) ran over and yelled at the elderly woman who had been the "cause" of the collision -- after all, his little girl was just learning to ride her bike!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Is Marash Girl planning a trip to Marash?

She says, when asked, "VOCH!  It would break my heart to see what was wrested from us!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Letter From The Past

Two friends -- friends from before the genocide in Marash --friends who were friends to the end . . . In the Marash book once belonging to Arppie Charkoudian, Marash Girl found the following letter, a letter from long ago, a letter that describes what real friendship is all about.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Stuck at a red light?

And speaking of a definition of a split second reminds Marash Girl of a story that Ronnie (Skip) Isaacs told her many years ago, a true story about his father who had stopped at a red light.

It seems that even way back then, the minute the light changed from red to green, the car behind Skip's father started tooting its horn.  Skip's father immediately turned off the car engine, got out of the car scratching his head, opened the hood of the car and started checking everything out.  Finally, after the light had turned from green to red and back to green again, he got back into his car, started the car up, and drove off, chuckling to himself!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Overheard: Definition of a Split Second

Definition of a Split Second: the time it takes between the moment the light turns from red to green and the moment that the jerk behind you starts beeping his horn.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Newest Lion of Marash!

Looking at an inventory of photos taken by Stanley Kerr, author of The Lions of Marash, Marash Girl arrived at the last photo, a photo which she could see at its outset was not like the rest -- it was in color and 5 times as large as the others.  How it got there, Lord only knows . . . because it was a  recent photo taken of the most recent Marashtsi in the family -- a photo of Dylan Marie!  And here it is!  Happy Birthday, Dylan Marie!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Are Bundt Cakes allowed on Airplanes?

Marash Girl had baked a bundt cake for her grandson's 9th birthday.  As she took it out of the cake pan to wrap it in tin foil and place it in her carry on, Marash Boy, horrified, exclaimed, "You can't take that cake on the plane!  It looks like a bomb!"  Although Marash Girl had never seen a bomb (only a hand grenade which her cousin Eddie proudly exhibited when he immigrated to the United States soon after fighting in the French Army), she agreed that she would not put the powers that be to the test . . . So her poor grandson had to eat store bought birthday cake, but then at least Marash Girl and her bundt cake were not detained at the airport!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Bumia (Okra Armenian Style!)

Marash Girl didn't know what to write for her blog today, but she did know what to prepare for supper yesterday evening, so that's what you're getting this morning -- Bumia -- not to eat, but the knowledge of how, for generations, Armenians from Marash and Aintab have prepared okra!  An why today?  Because yesterday Marash Girl happened on some lovely small fresh okra at the market. So here goes.

Heat several tablespoons of olive oil (or your choice of oil) in the bottom of a heavy iron pot.  Chop up one large onion.  When olive oil is sizzling, add onions  and sauté 'til lightly browned.

Rinse (approximately one pound of) okra in cool water. (Better fresh than frozen, better small than large -- the larger the okra, the tougher!) Trim off the stems of the okra. Add to the lightly browned onions and stir.  Add fresh tomatoes (if available) or canned whole tomatoes if you can't find fresh.  Stir.  Simmer for about 1/2 hour.  Add lemon juice (to taste), salt and black pepper and/or Marash red pepper if you have any.

Always better the next day, so prepare the "bumia" (pronounced bum ya) the day before you're planning to serve it.  Although last minute will do as well, because it cooks up very quickly. 

Serve hot over rice (we prefer brown) or boulghour pilaf.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Books in a Latino apartment in Spanish Harlem in the 1960's?

Books in a Latino apartment in Spanish Harlem?  Not if you were Puerto Rican, the only member of the family with education in NYC in the 1960's!  In those days, even though you had made it to a fancy private school in Massachusetts, and later to Yale University, you would never insult your family by taking books into the home.  It would be like telling them, "I'm better than you . . .", (in Spanish, of course!)  And Marash Girl learned this first hand from her dear departed friend, Ramon Santiago, may he rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

When it rains, it pours . . .

When it rains, it pours . . .
And Marash Girl is not referring to the old Morton's Salt advertisement!

Right after the downpour last night, early this morning, the very morning that Marash Girl had promised to ferry her grandchildren to school, the very morning when Marash Boy was away on business, the toilet (luckily empty of human refuse) let loose its water, the cellar flooded, and the     firemen were called to put out the . . . flood!  Luckily Marash Girl's German tenant knew about those things, turned off the water, and . . . well, as Grandpa Peter used to say, "After all, it's only water!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Ridge Road, Wilbraham, Massachusetts, not so long ago, had the most beautiful stand of white birches in the town, white birches on privately owned property, but the town came out with an ordinance (a good twenty or more years ago) stating that owners of property needed town permission to cut trees on their own land  . . . the ordinance to take effect in one month.  The owner of the most beautiful stand of white birches in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, cut off his nose to spite his face . . . whoops, Marash Girl meant to write, cut down his trees to spite the town.  Now there is scrub where there was once a beautiful stand of white birches.  Marash Girl grieves for the lost beauty every time she walks by the property.

Monday, June 6, 2016


       PHOTO OF AINTAB, CIRCA 1900              Thanks to Cesar Jacques Khekijian

Sunday, June 5, 2016


                                                                                             Photo Credit: Odd Andersen/Agence France Press -- Getty Images
New York Times, Friday, June 3, 2016:

Members of German Parliament Holding Signs in German that translate: "Acknowledgement Now says THANKS!"

Note appreciation of the crowd; note the Armenian priests in the foreground.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Day the Cows Came Home

Now that summer's almost here, our minds and hearts revert to Wilbraham and the good old days.  One image in particular stands out in Marash Boy's mind, and that is the image of his tiny grandmother (born in Marash, his grandmother Sanjian who gave birth to 12 children, 4 of whom lived, survived the genocide, who immigrated to Springfield, Massachusetts, summered in Wilbraham, Massachusetts) . . . his tiny maternal grandmother grabbing the ear of an errant cow, the lead cow leading its errant sisters right onto our mountain top, the land fronting our cottage, from the farmer's fields below, this tiny grandmother  driving the herd with the lead cow in tow,  to the breach in the barbed wire where she pushed the lead cow over into the breach, with the herd following into the meadow, back to the owners, the Netupskis, farmers who lived on the other side of the mountain.  You may ask how she could have managed, tiny as she was . .   It seems that Marash Boy's grandmother, when she married, was gifted two things:  a teacher who taught her to read (so that she could read the Bible), and a milk cow.  Though the cow was mountainous in comparison to Marash Boy's slim, 4 foot tall grandmother, the bovine was no match for Marash Boy's Medzmairig's determination.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Newton's Own "Charles Aznavour" Sings French Songs of Love

On Saturday, May 28, at 6 PM, Newton residents were treated to "An Evening of Romance".a concert on the green in Newton Centre featuring Samba, French Songs and Tango.

Above: Armand Andreassian, accompanied by Marisa Avelo, sings French songs of love: L'histoire d'un amour, Que reste t'il, and La vie en Rose, while Leon Charkoudian (seated in background) attempts to understand the lyrics that were in the language that he studied many years ago.   
Piano Painted by Franklin Marval.                                                                Photo by Marash Girl

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Drawer from the Past; or, What Tales An Empty Drawer Can Tell

Why does this drawer look so familiar? Where is it from? Marash Girl struggled to put the drawer in context.  It took Marash Boy to remind her of the story that the drawer told.  To prevent the then newly acquired antique Empire Bureau from being stolen from the never locked cabin, she had insisted on removing one drawer from the bureau that sat in the middle bedroom in their summer Wilbraham abode . . . a trick she had learned from her antiquing friends.  Whenever they saw a bureau on the sidewalk that they could not tote away without the help of a truck, the antique dealers would lay claim on  that abandoned antique bureau by simply removing one drawer, and taking that drawer with them, for, after all, who wants a bureau with a missing drawer?  We know now that tornados make no distinction as to whether or not a bureau has a drawer, a bedroom has a bureau, or a cottage has a bedroom . . . no distinction whatsoever, as the arms of the Wilbraham tornado, on June 1, 2011, took bureau, bedroom, cottage, and all, five years ago yesterday.

[And speaking of empty drawers, let's think about the 8 empty drawers in the desk pictured below, the desk without a top!  Not a tornado, but a family on Eldridge Street, a Newton Corner family that sold their house and emptied their garage, abandoned this desk full of empty drawers and untold tales . . . what stories those drawers must hold!]

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Gentlemen of Claflin School

And speaking of David Seeley (Marash Girl, Sunday, May 20, 2016) . . .  in Marash Girl's elementary school days, the favorite sport of the boys was NOT dipping the girls' pigtails into the inkwell of the desk behind them, but rather pulling the chair AWAY from the girl who was about to sit down, and down she did sit, but not on the chair . . .!  It's amazing that the girls of  Claflin School survived the missing of all those chairs as, daily, they landed on the floor -- kerplunk!

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Little Doll on the Top Shelf at the Top of the Stairs

Auntie Zarouhi. No, that was her sister.  It was Ashod's older sister, Auntie Azadouhi.  She lived with her parents and brother and sister on the third floor in a darkened apartment in West Newton, the older daughter of Uncle Arakel (Sarkis was his middle name, as he was named after his father, Rev. Sarkis Bilezikian, the first Protestant minister in Marash); Uncle Arakel was a younger brother of Marash Girl's Grandpa Moses.

Auntie Azadouhi was so pretty, so sweet, so nice. Dark curly hair, light skin, a beautiful smile. Whenever we went to her house, she let us play with her pretty little doll, the doll she always kept on the top shelf in the closet at the top of the long flight of stairs leading to their apartment.  During one Sunday's visit, Marash Girl had such a hard time parting with that doll that she begged Auntie Azadouhi to let her take the doll home (her home, which was one mile away in Newtonville).

"But," replied Auntie Azadouhi, "if you take the doll home, it will never be here for you to play with when you come to visit!"

Sunday, May 29, 2016


"A miss is as good as a mile!"  Ever heard that expression?  Marash Girl first heard it in fourth grade when David Seeley, the baseball star of Claflin School, called a strike on one of his classmates, who cried out, "But I just missed that one!"  David Seeley called out, "A miss is as good as a mile."

Marash Girl remembered David Seeley's proclamation several years ago, when, during the Brew Fest held yearly on the shores of the Connecticut River at the Holyoke Canoe Club, Marash Girl was chatting with a group of family and friends when suddenly she saw a look of horror spread across their faces.  What could it be?  Had she forgotten to get dressed that morning?  No.  Had she said something inappropriate? Not that she could recall . . .

"Turn around," they cried out.

Marash Girl did so, and there  behind her lay a limb, a huge limb, that moments before, had  fallen off of the oak tree under which she was standing,  a limb that had just missed Marash Girl.  If it weren't for that miss, Marash Girl would not be writing today; but, then, as David Seeley proclaimed many years ago, "A miss is as good as a mile!"