Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fearless Pudd the Protector

Pudd was part Maine Coon as evidenced by her occasional silent meows, her drinking by cupping the water into her paw and bringing the water up to her mouth, her beautiful markings (black with white throat and paws), her long fur, sleek on the top, fluffy under the top layer . . . and her fearlessness.  She came to us as a kitten from the wilds on a cold and rainy night . . . And she stayed with us until her final day.  

Pudd accompanied us to Wilbraham, and on those summers, nary a mouse nor a squirrel could be seen in or around the house.  Pudd would prowl along the rafters making sure that all was clear both day and night.

One summer, a feral cat gave birth to kittens back by the shed, alongside the path leading into the woods.  Pudd   had nothing to do with that cat.  That is, until one day, when she saw the neighbor's dalmation leaping full speed across the acreage that divided our cabin from the neighbor's house . . . full speed towards the feral cat who was nursing her kittens.  The dog had no sooner passed our cabin when Pudd went into action, and caught up to the dalmation just as it reached the nursing cat's abode . . . Pudd leaped onto the dog, yowling, a dog 10 times her size, dug her claws in, until the dog turned around, shaking Pudd off, and returned full speed to his house across the way.

Pudd risked her life for her neighbor, a neighbor who she ostensibly did not know, a neighbor who needed her help.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pudd teaching: Kittens, come hither

Pudd had four kittens that first time.  They were born on the floor of the little clothes closet in our bedroom next to our bed.  Pudd soon moved them downstairs to the dining room where the action was.  When it was time to nurse, Pudd would call her kittens to her with a special call, a sotto voce purr/gurr.  They would come running and snuggle up for the evening meal.  But one evening, one of the kittens did not heed Pudd's call.  Pudd removed herself from her litter, sauntered over to the disobedient kitten, picked her up by the scruff of the neck, carried her up the 16 stairs and down the hallway into the closet where the kitten had been born several weeks earlier, plunked the kitten down, sat on top of her kitten, and after 20 minutes, picked the kitten up by the scruff of the neck, carried her down the 16 stairs back to the dining room, placed her in the feeding basket, called the three obedient kittens to the basket, and fed all four kittens their evening nursing.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Teaching Pudd: To sharpen or not to sharpen?

During this past Thanksgiving weekend, Karoun reminded Marash Girl of an important lesson, a lesson Marash Girl tried to teach the beloved family cat, Pudd, a lesson Marash Girl learned for herself.

Pudd had a habit of stretching up to sharpen her claws on the arm of the sofa chair that sat next to the front door, a chair which had been a wedding present from Marash Girl's father (Peter) and mother (Jennie).  Whenever Pudd sharpened her claws on this sofa chair, Marash Girl would reprimand the cat with a loud 'No!', pick up the cat and unceremoniously toss her outside.

What Marash Girl hoped to teach Pudd was NOT to scratch the furniture.  What she actually taught Pudd was that whenever Pudd wanted to go outside, all Pudd had to do was stretch up and sharpen her claws on the arm of the beloved sofa chair!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Smiling or Snarling? That is the question!

Walking down the street yesterday in the mid-day sunshine, Marash Girl smiled at a stranger.  The stranger, true to Newton Corner form, did not return the smile.  It got Marash Girl to wondering.  When humans smile to be friendly, they bare their teeth.  When animals snarl to warn off the approach of would be enemies, they bare their teeth.  Is that why the stranger didn't return the smile?  Did s/he think that Marash Girl was attempting to ward off an enemy rather than befriend a stranger?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chunked Tomato Cucumber Salad

Ripe tomatoes, Armenian cucumbers (the long skinny ones), fresh mint, pitted kalamata olives, chunks of good feta cheese, good olive oil, good red wine vinegar with a garlic clove that's been steeping in it for several weeks.

Unlike most Armenian salads which are chopped very fine, this salad gains its appeal to the eyes and the palate because each large piece is visible and distinguishable from its neighbor.  On special request from Meghan, we tried it.

Peel the cucumbers.  Wash the tomatoes and remove the stem end.
Wash and dry the fresh mint; remove the leaves from the stem and root before washing.

Chunk the tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese in 1 inch cubes.  Place tomatoes and cucumbers in serving bowl, leaving feta cheese aside.  To the tomatoes and cucumbers, add finely chopped fresh mint and pitted Kalamata olives that have been cut in half.  Just before serving, add your home made dressing of a good olive oil, a good red wine vinegar, in which has been steeped a garlic clove, kosher salt.  Toss.  THEN add feta cheese and lift salad carefully to incorporate the feta cheese without causing cheese to crumble, so as not to leave feta crumbs all over the tomatoes.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

The salad described above was the most popular dish at Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Marash Girl's Turkey Soup, the old-fashioned way . . .

What do you do with all that boulghour pilaf, rice pilaf, pepper dolma, cabbage salad dressed in wine vinegar and olive oil, lettuce and tomato salad, mushrooms, broccoli, and, yes, turkey?

Marash Girl tells all.  Boil all the turkey that's left, carcass, skin, bones, and broth at the bottom of the roasting pan, leaving all in the original roasting pan.  (Break up the carcass so that you do not have to use as much water when you barely cover the carcass with water.) Add a tablespoon of white vinegar (to encourage the calcium out of the bones into the broth -- a tip for which to this day Marash Girl gives thanks to Hermineh), bring all to a boil, and simmer for 1 hour.  There's your broth!  Pour off the broth into a soup pot, skim off the fat (or leave the broth in the fridge for a day and the fat will harden making it easier to remove), add your leftovers (all except for the butternut squash which can be overwhelming), and you'll have an almost instant, and most delicious soup that can never be reproduced.  

Every once in a while, Marash Girl's friend complains that she can never reproduce Marash Girl's soups.  She is comforted by the fact that Marash Girl, herself, cannot reproduce them.  They are one of a kind soups, the way folks made soups in the olden days!  And they are delicious.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


As recalled by visiting blogger Kenar Charkoudian

Whenever the family had a turkey for dinner, especially at Thanksgiving, or perhaps chicken on Sunday in the days of “Chicken in Every Pot,” the children would vie for the wishbone.  A lucky recipient of the wishbone would easily find a partner with whom to play the game of Yades. 
In this game the two participants would pull on the wishbone until it broke in two.  The player who got the longer end of the wishbone, the winner, would call out, "Yades."   The person who got the short end of the wishbone would have to fulfill an obligation the two had agreed upon prior to the pulling.  The obligation might be performing some kind of service for the other such as drying the dishes in his/her place for a week, or giving him/her 5 of your favorite bird cards, or another similar obligation.   This obligation could be avoided if the loser says, “Mitkes eh!”  (i.e. “I remember,”  “It’s still on my mind,”) any and every time the winner hands him/her something.  If s/he takes the handed object before saying "Mitkes eh", s/he loses the game and the obligation must be fulfilled.  On the day the game starts, the winner will often look for objects to casually hand the loser, but the loser is still wise that first day. 
Eventually both players forget about the game and go about their regular day without consequence.  However, sometimes, out of the blue, days or weeks after the game began, the winner remembers the deal, and hands the loser an object.  Receiving no proper response, she calls out Yades! and the game’s obligation has to be fulfilled.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tomorrow we gather together to give thanks,

to give thanks for our homes, our families, the food on our tables, and
the freedom to enjoy our homes, our families, and to share the food on our tables.

This past weekend, while Marash Girl was in New York City, she invited her son and his friends to Kafana, a Serbian restaurant on Avenue C in New York's Lower East Side. Her favorite dish at that restaurant was their Beet Salad.  What?  Uncooked beets in a salad, you ask?  Marash Girl had never tasted fresh beet salad before, but she loved it, so she decided to fight the crowds at her local green grocer's yesterday and try to recreate the salad on her own.  She bought a gigantic beet (probably one pound in and of itself), thinking it would be easier to prepare, less difficult to peel.  Wrong.  Once peeled, the beet was almost impossible to cut through.  [Better to try this recipe with several small beets.] Here is what she did.  She peeled the beet, sliced it into strips (with Marash Boy's assistance) and shredded the beet, using her Cuisinart with the appropriate shredding attachment.  To the now shredded beets, she added olive oil, a good wine vinegar that had had a garlic clove sitting in it for a week or two, and Kosher salt.  That was it.  She tested her efforts by serving the Beet Salad to Marash Boy who is not a beet enthusiast.  "This tastes like a relish," he said as he took a second helping.

As it turns out, the salad Marash Girl ate at Kafana's was not a fresh beet salad, but rather a fresh Celery Root and Beet Salad, and so the salad Marash Girl created was her own, and not at all a recreation of the salad she had eaten at Kafana's.  Next trip to the green grocer's she'll have to check out the Celery Root and try again.  But in the meantime, she and her guests (and, perhaps, dear reader, you and your guests) will enjoy the fresh beet salad all weekend . . . or for as long as it lasts . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monopoly: The Game

Does a child need a teacher who will encourage  learning and exploring the unknown?  Most of us would answer yes to that question.  Marash Girl, for one, would shout yes.  And therefore Marash Girl was pleased when, on asking her grandchild to play Monopoly, her grandchild replied, "Yes, I've played before."  Fine, so they began to play and when her grandchild landed on a property, Marash Girl explained how to buy properties and build houses.  Her grandchild replied, "Oh, my teacher said we shouldn't buy houses when we play because it's too complicated." Guess the teacher meant that it was too complicated for the teacher, because Grandchild caught on immediately, and went on to win that game of Monopoly!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Applesauce, the old-fashioned way

Remember these apples, the wild apples Marash Girl gathered while at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont? Returning from New York City late Saturday night, Marash Girl decided that Sunday was the day to prepare  those all natural, organically grown (by God) apples, turning them into all natural apple sauce for the Thanksgiving table!  Planning ahead, (not one of Marash Girl's strengths), as soon as she had gathered the apples, she had ordered a replacement for the food mill that was lost in the tornado in June, and by the time she returned from New York City, the food mill (made of stainless steel, of course) was waiting to do its thing, which in this case was to assist Marash Girl in the making of all natural apple sauce!  Marash Girl started by washing all the apples with water, removing any bruises (from their fall to the ground), cutting the apples in half, removing the dried brown blossom left at the base of the apples (to avoid any possibility of dark specks going through the food mill into the applesauce).  She then placed all the apples in a heavy pot with about an inch of boiling water (or you could try all natural apple cider for the liquid) at the bottom of the pot and simmered the apples for about 15 minutes, or until they were soft. (See below.)

She placed the food mill securely on a large pot and placed the cooked softened apples into the food mill, a cup or two at a time.  Every so often she removed the residue at the bottom of the food mill by turning the handle in reverse, discarding the residue into the compost, and starting anew with another batch of cooked apples.  The resulting applesauce (see below) is tart and delicious, but sugar can be added if your family prefers sweet applesauce.    This applesauce will be covered and refrigerated until Thanksgiving. If you make as much applesauce as Marash Girl did, you may want to freeze some of it for Christmas!
The color of the applesauce reflects the various colors of the apples used to make the sauce.  Stirring will make the sauce uniform in color, should that be your preference.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Marash Girl joined Occupy Wall Street Day of Action (New York City), speed walking while trying to take photos of signs held by OWS on  their Day of Action as they marched down 7th Avenue and Broadway via Foley Square on their way to the Brooklyn Bridge.

A scarfed Muslim woman carries a sign reading, "The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. . . "

"Pepper spray, racist brutality . . ."

As it started getting dark, a supporter of the march waved the American flag and a sign alerting folks to "Wake up!"

Other bystanders carried video cameras to record the moment.

Robed man on left carries small sign: "General Seminary."  Robed man in center carries sign stating, "In my tradition, we wear this Funan black dress when we suspect that we are  in the midst of something holy."  And woman to right carries sign stating, "Amen. This is what church looks like.  God occupies!"

"Our lives are worth more than their profits" states the sign held high by demonstrator as he passes New York's Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

"The maddest of all:  To see life as it IS and not as it SHOULD BE" . . . Miguel de Cervantes

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators walking south as the sun sets.
Marash Girl was a photo op for this fellow 'shooting' from the sidelines.
Police presence threatens as OWS marchers approach Foley Square.

Massive police presence at Foley Square.  What you cannot see are the bullhorns, the phalanx of mounted police and the huge numbers of New York's finest on foot protecting the 99% . . .  or are they?  Reminds Marash Girl of a chant from the '60's:  Which side are you on, boys, which side are you on?

Leaving Foley Square, Marash Girl comes to a street vendor selling American Flags and Obama signs to tourists.

From the roof of 99 John Street, Marash Girl could just about see the OWSers marching across Brooklyn Bridge.

If protesters have not made their point,  this sign on John Street makes it for them!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Be careful, they both said; there's going to be trouble tomorrow!  Such was the warning Marash Girl received from both brother (Jacksonville, Florida) and sister (Dallas, Texas), a warning which was for naught.  New York City lacked the excitement of the 99% marching through the streets, as well as the threat of New York's finest hovering along the walkways of New York's Financial District.  All was quiet on the Northeastern front of Lower Manhattan yesterday, the day following OWS's Day of Action.  One can only assume that both brother and sister were getting their information from the local affiliate for Fox 5 which features morning anchor, Greg Kelly, the son of New York City's Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street's Day of Action, November 17, 2011 -- Marash Girl marches with OCCUPY WALL STREET's Day of Action in NYC

November 17, 2011, New York City.

Walking down 7th Avenue from 34th Street at 4:30 in the afternoon (in an effort to avoid getting stuck in traffic because of Occupy Wall Street’s DAY OF ACTION), Marash Girl saw a huge American flag and heard the roar of the chant:  THIS is democracy, THIS is democracy.  She had walked south to about 14th Street when she found herself in the middle of 7th Avenue, literally, surrounded by thousands of folks ahead of her, thousands of folks behind her, not marching, but moving quickly, and sometimes running to catch up to the thousands ahead.

From sidewalk to sidewalk there were 15 to 20 people walking abreast as far as the eye could see – up and down 7th Avenue, amidst the cars, limos, taxis, buses, trucks (many of whom were smiling and calling out words of encouragement)  . . . the demonstrators shouting slogans – Whose Street? Our Street! and Wall Street? Our Street!  and We are the 99%. So are you!

Join us! Join us! these clean,  combed, beardless, neatly dressed young people called to the folks cheering on the sidelines.  One young woman called back, "I want to join you, but I don’t want to get arrested!" Very few walkers were from the 1960’s . . . most were the age of their children and grandchildren.  Yesterday there was no singing, just chanting.  And the occasional chant of 'SHAME, SHAME' as the group passed a NYC policeman who was trying to do his job.  As Marash Girl trekked along with the crowds, she recalled the chants of the past:  "What do we want? Freedom! When do we want it? Now!"  But those were not the chants of yesterday.  These were:

"Democracy? THIS is democracy."  And "Banks got Bailed out, we got sold out."

As the OWS walked south on 7th Avenue, a man threw wet paper towels down at the demonstrators – yelling, ‘GET A JOB’, missing the very point.  The woman to the right of Marash Girl snarled, let him come down here and say that!  There are no jobs!  And later, as Marash Girl walked down Broadway, a young woman pushing a baby carriage (she was tall and elegantly dressed) stated (not asked), Why don’t they get a job!  Marash Girl, thinking it was a sincere question,  answered, There are no jobs. That’s the point!  The mother answered in a huff: let them take the jobs of the illegal immigrants. Let them clean houses. They think they’re too good for that!   I live here and I can’t even get home, she said, as she hurried south along the eastern edge of Tribeca with her baby in the most expensive stroller Marash Girl has ever seen! 

Marash Girl left the demonstrators at Foley Square where the demonstrators had gathered and were being addressed through bullhorns both by their leaders as well as by police.  She was warned by one of the demonstrators that if she didn’t want to get arrested, she’d better walk "that a way", as he pointed west toward Broadway.  Not seriously fearing arrest, but having run out of time (she was to meet her son at 5:30), she left the group behind her, as a phalanx of mounted police paraded west on Worth Street past Foley Square, towards Broadway.  Marash Girl wasn't sure just how safe she felt as she passed grim-faced NYC police officers lining both sides of the sidewalk (every 10 feet) as she walked south on Broadway. She saw no newspaper reporters.

Later, Marash Girl checked the local TV coverage and heard from the folks that were inconvenienced because they couldn’t get across the street as quickly as they liked.  Saying there were less than 1000 marching, Bloomberg obviously hadn't looked out his window; either that, or he had never learned how to count real people.  The OWS protestors had taken over the roads and the powers that be hadn’t stopped them.  At least as long as Marash Girl was there to protect them!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Look behind you, but not too far behind you!

Most alarming to learn that universities are discouraging the researching of events and the writing of books on the 17th and 18th Centuries; apparently the 20th Century will do!  How can we know who we are if we don't know where we've come from and why, why we think the way we do, or why we speak the way we do?  (If any of you attended the lecture by David McCullough at the Speakers Series at Symphony Hall this fall, you will have been reminded of the many ways in which the past impinges on our every day lives. )   Now who can suggest the reason(s) that universities may be taking this contemporary bent?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just thinking aloud . . . How soon do we learn our limits?

When do we learn our limits? Is it before we are born, entrapped in the womb?

When (if we do not sleep on the floor) and how (if we do not sleep in a crib) do we learn to stay within the confines of our mattress?  How do we prevent ourselves from falling out of bed while we're asleep?  Or must we fall out of bed in order for the powers that be to remind us, no matter how rudely, of our limitations, even in our sleep?

Perhaps the folks that were ousted yesterday from Zucotti Park could give us some answers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


9 AM: On site reporter cites a lot  of police in riot gear on the way to work. Supposedly they are letting  people  back into the park at 830am without their tents.

The latest update from the site

9:40 AM:  OLP – Entrances Broadway, Cortlandt and Liberty sides for One Liberty Plaza are now open.

Still a huge Police presence and no incidents around OLP at this time.

The ZUCCOTTI PARK has not been open for the protesters to re-enter.

There are about 1000 protesters marching near the Holland tunnel

Occupy Springfield? Springfield, Massachusetts

Occupy Springfield?  The 1% left long ago; all that Springfield has left IS the 99%.  According to an old-timer, a long-time resident of Springfield,  when the 1% were in Springfield, Springfield was a thriving community with a huge manufacturing base and very little unemployment.

Please 1%.  Return to Springfield, Massachusetts, and bring back the jobs and the life of a once thriving and elegant city. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tornado Relief, Pioneer Valley Style

At the Indian Orchard Mills Artists Open House, in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, Lani Giguere (photographer, Longmeadow, MA) and Jeff Groleau (Primary Colour Gallery, Fine Art and Custom Framing, Granby, MA) spent the afternoon of November 12, 2011, contributing to the Tornado Recovery (families recovering from their loss in the  tornado of June 1, 2011).  As Lani said, these folks have lost everything, including family photographs that can never be replaced.  We hope to help them recover, by gifting them a family photograph, professionally  matted and framed.  The families participating, scheduled throughout the day, left with smiles on their faces reflecting the smiles in the photographs that had just been gifted them.  This free event was co-sponsored by Heritage Photography (, Jeff Groleau of Primary Colour Gallery (, Mansir Printing, Holyoke, MA,, Hunt's Photo & Video,, of Pioneer Valley Photographic Artists (

N.B.  For more on the June 1, 2011, tornado that hit towns from Sturbridge to Springfield, Massachusetts, please click

Sunday, November 13, 2011


More images and impressions of Occupy Boston contributed by Visiting Blogger Barley Jim:

 I visited Occupy Boston this week in time to be present at a "GA", General Assembly where the residents were discussing the "procedure to ban anyone from Occupy Boston".  The discussion was free, open, even humorous, all were solicited to speak in turn.  Ah, pure democracy and then the consensual discussed procedure was voted on.

  I had brought warm clothing to donate and noticed a large bin full of gloves, many not only nicer than the ones I had brought to donate but better than the ones I was wearing.

  There was Halloween candy at the entrance and a church had just delivered 12 beautiful homemade apple pies -  a generous blessing!

  There seemed to be a lot of cameras around.  I noticed two young, street garbed clones keeping their barely used looking, black, wide angle LEICAs discretely under their arms while their bulging camera bags unmasked them.

  While a few clearly tourists wandered the camp a number of 1%ers were sincerely viewing the camp and monitoring the GA.

  Again all I encountered were very polite; the camp was well organized, and far fewer police were on sentry.
   I  proceeded to cross the street on my way to do a job for one of the largest financial companies in Boston!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Quick and Easy Baked Chicken Breasts

Got no time and company coming?  Try this recipe for quick and easy baked chicken breasts --  a one dish meal!

We use skinless/boneless chicken breasts, but chicken breasts with skin and bone are acceptable. (How many? As many as you need for the number of people you're feeding. . .We prefer to cut ours in half before proceeding.)

Wash chicken breasts in cold water and dry on paper towels.  Cut in half if you choose.  Place chicken breasts side by side in a baking pan or baking dish (approx. 2 to 3 inches in depth). We use a rectangular pyrex glass baking dish approx. 10 x14 inches.

Cover chicken with sliced or cubed eggplant, onions, zucchini, yellow summer squash, garlic, potatoes, green peppers, yellow peppers, red peppers.

Add (to taste) oregano, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, grated parmesan cheese, Aintab red pepper.

Cover the vegetables and chicken with or canned diced tomatoes, or spaghetti sauce.

You may prepare this dish ahead of time, refrigerate, and put in the oven to bake an hour before you expect your guests to arrive. 

Bake in oven heated to 350 degrees fahrenheit for at least 1/2 hour or until done.  [If you're using bone in chicken breasts with skin on, the baking time will be longer.]  Be sure to turn off the oven when the dish is done (test chicken with fork to make sure) so as not to overcook. Serve hot.

Quick and easy, cook for two, cook for many.  If some of your guests prefer not to eat meat, simply make two baking pans of the same meal:  one with chicken, and one without!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Willie's Village Auto, Stowe, Vermont

BUMP said the sign, just before the bridge, but there was no S at the end of the word,   so after we carefully went over the first bump, Marash Boy put on the gas, and we hit the second, third, and fourth bump at about 20 miles an hour, leaving us and our front and rear axle shaken up!  We were in the middle of nowhere, so we wended our way back to the lodge, and after asking where to go to check out our badly treated mode of transportation, we were handed a list.  The list included Willie's Village Auto in Stowe.  We telephoned. The nice lady on the other end of the line suggested we come right on over.  But it was 4:45, and as we carefully followed her directions, we found ourselves in the middle of the woods on a dirt road, going straight up the mountain.  Where was Willie's?  And although Marash Boy is averse to asking directions (he had followed, he thought, the directions to the T), because it was a mailman that Marash Girl suggested he ask, Marash Boy agreed, albeit reluctantly.  The mailman suggested we turn around and go back the way we had come; that Willie's was at the bottom of the mountain, at the cross roads, on the left.  But do you think they'll notice we're tourists and take us for a ride, as it were?  Well, answered the mailman, if you drive in there with a BMW and New Jersey license plates, I can't promise.  But what if we drive in there with Massachusetts license plates on a 10 year old Volvo?  50/50, answered the mailman.  But the mailman must never have been to Willie's. Read on to learn why.

Arriving at the crossroads at the bottom of the hill, we found Willie's Village Auto.  We drove in, parked our Volvo, wound our way on foot through the cars (in various states of disrepair) in Willie's lot,  and walked up to the office door.  The door was closed, but the key was in the lock.  Fearing that it was already 5 o'clock, and that the shop was closed, we knocked.  The woman sitting at the desk motioned for us to enter, which we did, greeting her with the words, "The key is in the lock of your door."  "Oh, that's okay," answered the young woman.  "We leave it there so that we won't forget where we put it; folks remind us all day long. . . that way, we could never forget!"  And those words were  the beginning of our hour at Willie's Village Auto. 

The owner, the mechanic, and the woman who managed the front office treated us like family, drove our 10 year old Volvo around, put it up onto the lift, found nothing wrong with the car except for the slightest rattle, and charged us what they usually charge their customers for putting a car up on the lift:  $25.00

So here is a shout, loud and clear, to any of you who may find yourselves in Stowe, Vermont, in an automotive quandary.  Call Willie's Village Auto (802) 253-8552 (100 Weeks Hill Road  Stowe, VT 05672-4114)

They tell it like it is and treat you like neighbors (even if you're from Massachusetts)!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The hills are alive with the sound of music . . . and the scent of apples!

Every fall, they would gather apples from the century old apple trees in the fields on top of Wilbraham Mountain, trees planted by their forebears, trees giving fruit to the children and grandchildren of the folks that planted the ancient trees in the rocky ground.  Some children sprayed the trees with insecticide, giving the grandchildren perfectly poisoned apples.  But as time passed, and people passed, so did the spray, and the trees once again were able to gift the children and grandchildren with apples borne of air and water.  More time passed, and the tornado of June 2011 took away that gift.

Now in November in the mountains of Vermont, having missed the joy of gathering apples on the top of Wilbraham Mountain, Marash Girl  wandered along the roads and trails of Stowe, spotting the occasional gnarled apple.
And then she looked up. . .

and kept looking up. All over the hills and along the roads and trails were wild apple trees bearing ancient fruit, fruit for the passerby (animal or human), fruit for the eye and the palate.  But it was already November, and the apples on the trees were no longer reachable -- above arm's length on the ancient trees, no ladder in sight . . .  but the occasional apple had fallen (and yes, not too far from the tree). 

Alert to the existence of the wild apples, Marash Girl, in a tarred parking lot bordering a rock strewn stream, spied,  nestled among the rocks, beautiful golden apples.

She looked above her and saw the tree that had shared its apples, still laden with gold, apples within arm's reach.  Climbing down onto the treacherous rocks and reaching up, Marash Girl, like a child who had not eaten for days, filled her pockets, her hands and her arms full of beautiful golden apples, apples from the hills and mountains of Stowe, Vermont. 

Wild organic apples, a gift from the past . . .

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Remembering Guido

When Guido came to this country, he thought that the streets would be paved with gold.  After he arrived, he learned three things.

1)  The streets were not paved with gold.

2)  The streets were not paved.

3)  He was going to have to pave them.

He loved this country and he loved helping to build it.

Posted by visiting blogger Ann-Louise on Guido, her father.

Monday, November 7, 2011

And speaking of labeling . . .

And speaking of labeling (see yesterday's blog), Marash Girl has to admit that it happens every day.  We DO judge a book by its cover, or a person by the cut of his coat (if he's wearing one . . . that may be why Marash Boy never wears a coat no matter how cold the New England weather).  Very early on, Marash Boy made a pact with Marash Girl not to play the game, that they would do whatever it was in their power to avoid labeling and being labeled (except for what folks could do with their clothes, the cut of their hair, and their New England accent), and so they were persona non grata at parties where the first question anyone asked (when they were younger) was, "Where did you go to school?" or "What did you major in?" (even though that question ended in a preposition),  and later, "What do you do?" and even later, "Do you have children? How many?"  And so it became a game to avoid being labeled, to avoid being pigeon holed, to be creative enough during any conversation to avoid answering any such questions, and concentrate on the more important subjects: (you may fill in whatever you want here.)  But for all of our efforts, we have to admit.  Our names label us.  Our faces label us.  We are, after all, Marash Boy and Marash Girl.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Must we label everything?

Fall is Marash Girl's favorite time of year!

At the local food co-op in Takoma Park, MD, while waiting for the school bus, Marash Girl was enjoying the fall display until she started to notice the labels.  Join her while she shares a bit of her experience. 


What is it that is so offensive about fresh vegetables defaced by stickers?

Is it like our milk that now comes in cartons on supermarket shelves rather than clear glass bottles delivered daily by Ferndale Dairy?  Is it that the vegetables no longer seem to come from God?  Is it that the labels insist on reminding us of the commercialism of the day? Is it simply that the labels interfere with the beauty of the vegetables?  Or is it that Marash Girl remembers gathering tomatoes and cucumbers from her dad's garden, and her own, without man made labels announcing what it was exactly that she was gathering?

But there was hope.
Ah, finally squash sans labels!

As you may have read in an earlier blog, when Marash Girl walked around to the back of the Co-op, she found a farmer with crates of apples sans labels, the way it was in the old days!  And to be fair, most of the squash pictured here had no labels, unlike the supermarkets where every single tomato is defaced by a sticky label announcing its origins.  But the trick is to try to remove the sticky label from the tomato without causing an abrasion and destroying the beauty and longevity of the tomato . . .

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Peter Bilezikian and Primo Levi: Empathy Can Kill

Marash Girl's dad, when asked why, as a young boy, he did not feel compassion for all of those who were suffering and dying around him in Marash during the Armenian Genocide, answered, "If I felt sorry for the others, I could not have survived.  I walked over dead people, watched children, stomachs bloated, drop dead from starvation . . ."  And he himself, who was always hungry, never allowed himself to feel hunger because he had gone hungry for so long.  He never felt compassion for himself.

At age 97, he still had the scar where the bullet shot at him in 1917 from the top of a minaret creased him across the top of his forehead on its way to murdering the woman who had refused him a piece of bread. (He finished all of the loaves she had been baking.) Perhaps that is the reason he could never refuse anyone who asked him for anything.

Fast forward 90 years.  David Sedaris, in his essay "Possession" (Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim),  quotes Primo Levi as saying, "If we were capable of taking in all of the suffering of all of those people [who suffered during the Holocaust], we would not be able to live." 

I think Peter said it before Primo Levi.

Friday, November 4, 2011

David Sedaris, Peter and Paul: Mice, Squirrels and the Walnut Tree

From his book of essays Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim,  in "Night of the Living Dead" (appropriate reading for a Halloween night), David Sedaris writes of the walnut tree in his side yard in France, a tree from which his partner gathers the walnuts every year, and lays them on the attic floor to dry, the attic where the mice run rampant over David's head, and David goes 'nuts' over the mice going 'nuts' over the walnuts.  A walnut tree in the side yard? Mice?  In France? No, a walnut tree in the side yard . . . squirrels . . . in Massachusetts.

Scroll back many a year to the walnut tree in the side yard on Lowell Avenue in Newtonville, the walnut tree which grew tall and strong and was fruited with tons of walnuts every year, (were there walnut trees in Marash?) but walnuts which the Marashtsi planters of the tree never tasted.  Why?  Not the Newtonville mice, but the Newtonville squirrels.  The squirrels along with Farmers Peter and Paul knew exactly when the walnuts would ripen, and every year, the  day before they (yes, they, Peter and Paul and the squirrels) were about to harvest the walnuts, they (yes, they, Peter and Paul and the squirrels) would admire the fruit and look forward to their next day's harvest.  And every year, true to the squirrels' wit, the day of the harvest, the tree would be bare of walnuts.  The squirrels had beat Peter and Paul to the punch (a hard thing to do, believe me) and the squirrels, not Peter or Paul, had harvested every last walnut.  The following year the same scenario.  And the year after that until the farmers would have no more of it.  Failing to capture every squirrel in the neighborhood with their Have-A-Heart trap (which fed Mr. Southwick for many a year, Mr. Southwick who would drown the squirrels (still in the have-a-heart trap) in his bathtub and eat them for supper daily), Peter cut down the walnut tree.  If we can't harvest even one walnut, the squirrels can't either!

One more thing about the walnut tree.  It spread some kind of poison about and around the ground under its branches, preventing any other plants to grow within its reach. Is there a lesson to be learned here?

Thursday, November 3, 2011


What do you give someone for their 90th birthday, when that someone is your dad, a philosopher, a lover of mankind?  Marash Girl had found the perfect gift, but the perfect gift for the perfect person only hung on his wall for 7.5 years, and then he left this world for the next, leaving the perfect gift behind, and so, Marash Girl, having already internalized the message, and wanting to 'pass it on', resorted to Craigs List with the following ad, hoping to find the perfect home for this beautiful antique cross stitch bearing the message that her dad had quoted all his life.  Here is the ad and a photo of the cross stitch. 
Approx. 16x13 inch antique cross stitch in frame picturing cross-stitched house and the following words cross-stitched: Let me live in the house by the side of the road and be a friend to man. Beautifully hand cross stitched with black thread on cream cloth. Circa 1930, probably framed later.   Great gift for your favorite philosopher friend! (What else could you give a real philosopher?)
And here is the answer that Marash Girl received by email.

Serendipity, Marash Girl!

When I was growing up, this same cross stitch was hanging in my house, by the front door.  My mother told me her mother made it.  Her mother, Teresa Hopkins Bovie, came to the US as a teen ager all by herself from her native County Galway, Ireland.  She gave birth to my mother in Princeton, NJ, in 1913.   I came along much later -- 1959 -- and was cared for by my grandmother often in my first three years,  after which  she passed away.  I'm named after my grandmother -- Teresa Kimberlie Cromwell.  I have always gone by my middle name.  And I have always wished I knew my grandmother.... I was so young when she died. 
Anyway, as I was learning to sound out words I remember reading the cross stitch on the wall, and didn't really get it.  What did it mean?

Only now do I understand!  As an adult, at 52, I understand more deeply each year the peaceful, profound simplicity of the message:  "Let me live in the house by the side of the road and be a friend to man."  I've always felt my grandmother's \presence in my life -- including through this wonderful experience with you and your Dad.

Just moved into a new house by the side of the road, too, here in Provincetown.  :)

When my Mom died in '86 we gave away her stuff, including that cross-stitch, and I've always regretted it....

So lately I've been thinking about those words, and decided to go on a search... and found you!  And your Dad.... One of my dear friends is Armenian and we talk a lot about her heritage, and so it means even more to me to know of your Dad.

Tell me something about him. 

I'll watch over this gift.... It's as if you were meant to pass it along to me.....

In its new home by the front door in Provincetown

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Object Lessons

Marash Girl's dad loved to give object lessons, particularly after hearing his children bicker.  

Calling his children into the back yard, and holding out one stick for each, he would command, Break the stick if you can.  Marash Girl and her brother and sister dutifully broke their respective sticks in half.

Holding up three sticks, he repeated the command.  Break this bunch of sticks if you can.  Not one of the children could halve the bunch of three sticks.

His lesson: That's what happens when the three of you 'stick' together!  No one can break you apart.

In the winter, when the back yard was covered in snow, Marash Girl's dad would depend on whatever was at hand for his object lesson.

Holding up his right hand and slapping it towards his left, he would ask the three children,  Did you hear anything?
No . . . came back the chorus of three young voices.

Holding up both hands and slapping them together, he would ask,  Now do you hear anything?  His children dutifully nodded.  They got it.

Marash Girl's mom got it too.  The children never heard her argue with their dad.  In fact, one day, when Marash Girl was grown up, her mom told it like it was: The only reason there's peace in this house is because I keep my mouth shut! (and by house she meant the whole house with Uncle Paul and his family of five on the second floor and Grandma and Grandpa on the third floor).

(She didn't add this but let Marash Girl add here that her mom 'kept her mouth shut' . . . at least while the children were in hearing distance!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


One of the items that survived the June 1 tornado in Wilbraham was the wooden gavel that had its home on the green monster (buffet) that was opposite the front door of the mountain top cabin in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.  Marash Girl looked at that gavel made of oak (was it made from one of the oak trees on the mountain?) and tried to remember. . . What was it that the kids used to play?  She wrote an email asking for enlightenment, and here are the responses.

I believe the wooden gavel was used to play "Order in the Court"  When we would have a mock trial.  Funny, I was just thinking about that game the other day. Deron C.

All I remember about the game was banging the gavel and saying order in the court (and I think there were quite a few circular indents on the porch table from the banging).  Did we actually do a trial?  I don't remember any other part other than the banging of the gavel.  Karoun C.

Banging the gavel and saying, "Order in the Court"?  Nisha C.

Didn't we use it for that game?  The market game.  Corner on the Market?   I remember Marash Girl saying, "Order in the Court!"  Nancy H.

A guessing game of right or wrong decided by gaveling? Levon C.

I was trying to remember how that game went.
Perhaps we should have a re-trial at Christmas. Lorig C.

We got our first glimpse of the court system through this game.  I guess we viewed the courts as chaotic!  Lorig C.

What Marash Girl remembers? An 800 square foot cabin in Wilbraham, with sleeping for 14, almost always 6 children and 2 to 4 adults enjoying the summer camaraderie -- someone had to keep order in that court -- and the kids decided they were the ones to do it!  Where the gavel came from, we'll never know!