Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sunset in Newton Corner

Driving along Newtonville Avenue  yesterday early evening, Marash Girl saw

Look, she said to Marash Boy.  The clouds are pink.  It's going to be a beautiful day tomorrow!  

Those are thunderheads, answered Marash Boy.

Are they?

Though later that evening the moon had a halo around it (a condition that Marash Girl's mom would always use to point out that there was rain in the offing), the thunder never thundered and the rains never rained.

Well, we have to forgive Marash Boy.  He had never heard Marash Girl's friend, Wilbraham farmer & historian Charlie Merrick, quote,

                  Red sky at night, sailor's delight.
                  Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sure Cure for Sore Throats

Yesterday, Brother James mentioned that his daughter Nicolette (who is a counselor at a summer camp in upstate New York) had a sore throat and that he had recommended . . . before he could finish his sentence, Marash Girl broke in, as she is sometimes wont to do, with her tried and true (and fun) cure for sore throats.  Wanna hear what she recommended that ALWAYS works both for her AND her children?

Go to a good movie in a movie theatre (not on TV or on your computer --  don't worry about the entry fee -- you'd pay more than that to go to see your doctor), order the largest possible popcorn with butter and salt (extra large refillable size) and a Coke (extra large refillable size with plenty of ice, NOT diet, no substitutes), grab plenty of napkins --  (DO NOT sneak in your own bottle of Coke or your own bag of popcorn to save a dollar or two because if you do, this cure will not work).  Now settle down in your favorite section of the theatre, preferably with no one on either side of you, and steep yourself in the world of the movie.  If you have finished the Coke and the popcorn by the end of the film, you may have an engorged tummy, but your sore throat will be gone!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


If you are not lucky enough to have your own parsley patch, you have no choice but to purchase parsley from your local greengrocer.  Parsley is so beautiful when you first buy it, but very quickly deteriorates into a limp mound of greenness, and then a mushy mess (that is, if it's left in the plastic bag where you place it when you buy it).  Menzmama  (Marash Boy's mother) used to wash parsley, dry it on towels, and leave the clean parsley wrapped in a damp towel in the vegetable drawer until she needed it, which was daily, as parsley, and lots of it, went into EVERYTHING she made.  Armenian style.  But there is another solution to keeping parsley fresh, a prettier one, one that takes very little space, very little time, and beautifies your kitchen.  That is, a bouquet of parsley on your kitchen table.  Wash your parsley, trim the stems, and put the parsley in a glass jar filled with water.  Your parsley will stay fresh, and your kitchen more beautiful.  Don't make the mistake of putting that glass full of water with parsley onto a refrigerator shelf.  The refrigerator will dry the parsley, leaving it limp, and you will have defeated your purpose.  Oh . . . and don't forget to change the parsley's water daily!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jennie kissed him!

"My name is Jennie, with an ie at the end, NOT a y at the end like the gas station," she said with a twinkle in her eye! 

Peter loved his Jennie (with an ie), and loved to recite the poem below for his Jennie (Lucille Mae) Vartanian Bilezikian; he always recited it with an ie, of course, so Marash Girl will take editorial liberty here to do the same, recording below James Henry Leigh Hunt's poem in memory of Peter and Jennie's love.

Jennie Kissed Me

Jennie kissed me when we met,

Jumping from the chair she sat in;

Time, you thief, who love to get

Sweets into your list, put that in!

Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,

Say that health and wealth have missed me,

Say I'm growing old, but add,

Jennie kissed me. 
James Henry Leigh Hunt

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Photo Credit: Newton Patch
Was this the bear that was sighted or a facsimile?

BLACK BEAR SIGHTED IN AREA: From the Newton Patch, Monday, June 25, 2012:
"Needham Police say the animal was seen in the wooded area between Second and Highland Avenues and the Charles River.  Newton Police Department has confirmed that a black bear has been sighted in the area of 2nd Ave in Needham this morning. The Mass. Environmental Police are currently looking for it.
According to scanner reports, daycares near the Newton/Needham line are on a "lock down" following the bear sighting off 2nd Avenue. Residents were reminded to 'keep their distance' if they spot a bear and to bring in all bird feeders or leftover food, try to cover all trash when possible to prevent any odors that would lure a bear into a residential area."
Marash Boy commented, "There's obviously more food here in Newton for bears than in Wilbraham! . . . And a black bear, at that!"

This morning, the Newton Patch reported Skipjack's, a restaurant on Needham Street located near the bear sighting, closed Monday.   Could it be related to that black bear sighting?

Yesterday's report of "b'ar" triggered a host of Wilbraham memories.  Several years ago a  Wilbraham resident on the East side of Ridge Road reported sighting a black bear eating bird seed from the bird feeder in her back yard.  The Wilbraham resident called the police.  The police asked the resident, "And what do you want us to do about it?"
When the peaches were ripe, the black bears were ready, and one late August, early September night, the kids were tenting in the field in front of the cabin on top of Wilbraham Mountain when they heard shuffling and snuffling outside of their tent.  Not knowing what to do, they did nothing and lived to tell the tale.

Little Karoun (while sitting on the cabin porch) saw a black bear sauntering across the field, coming up from Uncle George's bee hives and  heading into the woods towards Monson.  (I guess the bees scared the bear away when it attempted to taste their honey.)  Deron remembers Karoun telling of this encounter, but today, Karoun remembers nothing of that black bear.

Marash Girl never could figure out how to bar against "b'ar" the unlockable doors of the mountaintop cabin  in Wilbraham, just in case a bear decided that s/he preferred Armenian cooking to what was available in the wilds.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Value of a Penny

Did you see that penny?


And you didn't pick it up?

No, why should I?  It's only a penny.

You're fired, then.

What, for not picking up a penny?  You must be kidding!

If you don't value a penny, I don't want you working for me!  You're fired.

As told to Marash Girl by her father, relating an incident that occurred at Newtonville Electrical Company, Inc., in the 1960's between Peter and a young Newton Trade School intern electrician Peter was training.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

From third grade to third rate --

More David Seeleyisms -- from third grade, Claflin School, Newton, Massachusetts

Perhaps inspired by the requirement to memorize and recite poetry once a week, David Seeley (see could often be heard laughing as he recited the following poetic similes!

Your eyes are like pools -- cesspools

Your ears are like flowers -- cauliflowers

Your teeth are like stars -- they come out at night

Can't remember what he said about noses.  If any of you, dear readers, had a David Seeley in your third grade class, or heard David Seeley's poetic efforts in third grade, or remember the rest of the similes in this poetic effort, please comment below!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Piaz - White Bean Salad, Armenian Style

Photo taken last night just before dinner!

Hot and humid!  No cooking last night!  But lots of fresh vegetables on hand:  Italian green peppers, Italian parsley, Italian plum tomatoes, fresh lime, Progresso Canneloni beans (you can soak and cook the dried version, but not at the last minute and not on a day that is in the 90's with like humidity) So here's the recipe for Piaz - Armenian Bean Salad.  Simple for those of us who like simple.  Ancient for those of us who like tradition.  Delicious for those of us who like gourmet.  A favorite on Wilbraham Mountain.
1.  Wash all vegetables thoroughly and leave to drain.
2. Open the can of cannelloni beans with the tab (you don't even need a can opener, on such a hot and humid day) and pour the beans into a colander. Rinse thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly and pour beans into a bowl.
3.  Chop (by hand) 6 fresh Italian plum tomatoes to about half the size of the beans.  Smaller if you can. (I couldn't.)  Add to beans.
4.  Chop 1 scallion and add to bowl.
5.  Seed two Italian peppers (the light green, longish, not hot variety), chop and add to bowl.
6.  Chop a handful of fresh Italian parsley, including stems (after you have trimmed the edges of the stems.)
7.   Squeeze two fresh lime and add the lime juice to the mix.
8.   Add quality Italian olive oil (about 1/8 cup).
9.  Add Aintab red pepper (available in Armenian or Middle Eastern stores, and perhaps known as Aleppo red pepper now -- it's a sweetish hot dried red pepper)
10.  Add Kosher salt to taste (about 1/2 tablespoon).
11.  Gently stir and serve in bowls as a cold summer soup (if your tomatoes are particularly juicy, as ours were) or as a salad.

Although Marash Girl has referred to ITALIAN produce throughout, this is a traditional ARMENIAN recipe handed down for generations from Marash!

(For a similar summer salad using eggplant, see

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Sad Farewell to a Good Friend

If you were to walk west on Church Street in Newton Corner yesterday, you would have seen the sad demise of an age-old friend.  Words cannot express the sorrow we feel at your passing, dear Beech Tree.  May you rest in peace (although it appears you will be resting in pieces).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Overheard at the Galen Street Post Office

Dismayed to see a notice that the legislature (which, Joan noted, was majority Republican), that that legislature, our legislature, was considering reducing the pension for postal workers, Joan expressed her concern to the postal worker and to Marash Girl who was, as she does daily, shipping books to faraway shores.  Standing in line behind Joan (who was standing behind Marash Girl) was a young woman with a baby who stopped the conversation:  "I'm an independent," she stated, "and I don't want to hear that kind of talk."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thinning the radishes!

Short on space but long on radish seeds, Marash Girl planted a whole package of radish seeds in the tub holding her prize possession: anoukh (that's mint, for those of you not in the know.)  

Anoukh holding court with radish seedings.

Radish Seedings, Newton Corner, Massachusetts

Radish seeds are tiny and very difficult to plant 1/2 to 1 inch apart, as the directions require, but thinning the radishes is part of the joy of planting radishes, because each tiny radish seedling is like a drop of pure essence of radish.  So rather than transplant the seedlings to 1 inch apart, Marash Girl and Marash Boy transplant the seedlings into their mouths, sans root and soil.  

Pure pleasure of pure radish.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Heal thyself

And while we're on the subject of healing (see yesterday's post), there's an old country story that Marash Girl's father loved to tell.  A boy in Marash had a serious eye infection and no matter who his mother turned to for help, no one offered a cure that worked -- not the old women, not the village sages, not the doctors.  But there was a doctor a day's journey from Marash, famous for his cures.  The boy and his mother finally decided to make the investment, hire a donkey, and trek to the abode of the famous doctor.  When they reached the doctor's home, they were hopeful, and rightly so. The doctor, watching the boy carefully, looked at the boy's eyes, looked at the boy's hands, carefully washed both, and offered the following advice.  "Tie your son's hands behind his back for a week.  His eyes will heal."

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Healing Earth

Have a bad cut on your hand?  If it's summer and you have soil to work with, you have no worries! Just go out there and garden.  Why?  Good question.  There she was, Marash Girl, with a pot full of Lily of the Valley cuttings that had to go into the ground, but she had a bad cut on her index finger. . . Vaht to do . . . Plant the cuttings . . . she could always clean up the cut afterwards.  And plant she did.  But what happened to the finger?  It actually looked better after it had worked with the soil.  But that didn't make sense.  She washed the cut, dried it, bandaged it, and later that day, planted again.  Same thing. Soil in cut; cut looked and felt better.  Then she remembered.  Her father used to tell her that in the old country, in Marash, if folks had a cut, the old ladies would put dirt on the cut.  Was it dirt?  Well, for sure they would put moldy bread on the cut and that would heal it.  But in another version of this tale, Marash girl remembers her father saying that they packed the cut with dirt and then bandaged it.  And they put dirt in babies diapers to absorb the poop (the ecologically friendly precursor to ecologically unfriendly Pampers).  What is it that Marash Girl is remembering?  Are there any confirmations out there?  Marash Boy?
Okay.  Marash Boy remembers his grandmother packing mud on a hornet sting.  And we all certainly remember the mud packs of yore placed on the face to beautify the skin.  And Marash boy, yes, he remembers working  at the greenhouse (Mt. Tom Greenhouse, Holyoke, Massachusetts) planting, and noticing that any cuts he may have had on his hands would heal up faster after working with the soil.

The spiritual uplifting (and muscle workout) we get when we work in the garden is well known.  But the healing of cuts?  

Have you, dear reader, experienced healing, physical or spiritual, when working with the soil?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fishing and Lunching at the Ship Restaurant in Lynnfield

Hope it's not inappropriate today, Father's Day, for Marash Girl to recall a Mother's Day of about 10 years ago, when Marash Girl was accompanied by her father and Marash Boy to the Ship Restaurant (was it called that then?) for lobster  (Marash Girl's favorite)!  Going south on Route One soon after the cut off at 128, still  stands a ship restaurant (which in fact is called the Ship Restaurant).  Peter, Marash Girl's father, on that Mother's Day years ago, regaled us with stories of how   he, as a young man, would go fishing in Hawkes Pond behind that restaurant in Lynnfield, how he caught a fish, brought the fish into the restaurant (don't know it's name in the 1930's), and ordered and ate his own, freshly caught, freshly prepared fish for lunch!  Or was that just a fish story . . . 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Remembering Mrs. Miriam Goldstein

Remembering English teacher Mrs. Miriam Goldstein, Newton High School, Newtonville, Massachusetts.  She was not Marash Girl's English teacher, but rather her homeroom teacher, and she is remembered every time Marash Girl hears or reads a Psalm, because every morning, in homeroom, (along with the required salute to the American flag), she began the day with a reading from the Psalms and comfort to all in her homeroom.  Marash Girl remembers Mrs. Goldstein today as Marash Girl reads an email from brother James containing the following.

Psalm 121, King James translation

1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the LORD,
which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is thy keeper:
the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil:
he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in
from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Planting Zucchini

Anyone know how to plant zucchini?  In a mound, flat on the ground?

Marash Girl's father and uncle used to plant their zucchini in the mounds of ashes, now turned to soil, piled up around the base of the apple tree trunks, ashes recycled from the burning of paper in the Hollinator, ashes that predatory insects could not cross (ashes are basic, insects are acidic, according to the sages, and never the twain do mix).  The zucchini thrived, and so did the apple trees.

Here in Newton Corner, there are no apple trees on our postage stamp lot, but there is a hill, a hill going down to the fence that separates this postage stamp lot from the next postage stamp lot.  Wonder if the zucchini will accept the hill as a mound (granted only a mound on one side), or if they will decide that the mound is flat ground on a slant . . . 

The zucchini seeds have been soaking for several days . . . this afternoon they'll be placed in their new home on the side of the hill . . . Wonder if they'll thrive there. . . stay tuned!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Surprise in Santa Rosa, California: A painting by Mihran K. Serailian

Credit: Luther Burbank Home & Gardens

If you're a member of that tiny race called Armenian, and you happen to live in the United States, whenever you take note of another Armenian, whether in person or in print, you get excited.  Don't know if that happens when you're Irish or English, but it sure happens to us Armenians.  And it happens in the oddest and most unexpected places. There we were in Santa Rosa, California, paying tribute to a childhood hero, Luther Burbank, Marash Girl's hero since reading the orange covered biography about him in 3rd grade.  We were being given a tour of his home, and there on the wall of his little house was a painted portrait of Luther Burbank in his garden in Santa Rosa, California.  ("Luther Burbank Home and Gardens (1 acre) is a city park containing the former home, greenhouse, gardens, and grave of noted American horticulturist Luther Burbank (1849-1926)." Luther Burbank Home & Gardens website.)

But look, called out niece Marina, (to whom we must credit these photos).  Look at the signature on the painting.
Not really believing our eyes, we looked further down and saw that our eyes were not deceiving us and that in fact, the painting was painted by fellow Armenian Mihran K. Serailian (see below).

As she wrote this blog recording her feelings of surprise and admiration for an artist who was hitherto unknown to her, Marash Girl checked the internet for any references she could find on the artist, and she found the following artist biography at


1867 - 1957

Mihran Kevork Serailian was born in Caesarea, Armenia on November 9, 1867. Having spent a considerable time in Egypt, he arrived in Boston in 1892 and then accepted a position to teach in Indiana at Taylor University. He settled in San Francisco in 1900. He was a good friend of Luther Burbank and did many botanical illustrations for him. His works include landscapes, florals and portraits.  Exhibitions: Bruner's Gallery (Santa Rosa), 1910; City of Paris (San Francisco), 1924; Hotel Huntington (Pasadena), 1926.  During the 1930's, he worked in New York City with his wife Marie.  He died in San Francisco on Sept. 7, 1957.
[His wife, Marie Serailian was born in Texas on May 29, 1889.    Mrs. Serailian died in San Mateo, CA on July 20, 1973.  An accomplished painter, her works are rare.]

Search as she might, Marash Girl found no additional information, other than one auction record.  Any information leading to the recovery of more info on this artist and/or his wife Marie Seraillian, also an artist, would be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Door Knobs, Rubber Bands, and Memories

Where do you keep your rubber bands?  Do you keep them?  Or do you just toss them. . . Where do they all come from?  At the moment, Marash Girl must have 100 rubber bands on the doorknob, mounded to the edge of the knob so that it's almost impossible to open the door. . . and which door is it?                                
The door leading to the back hall . . . hey, wait a minute, that's not right!  They should be on the cellar door . . . the  door with the glass door knob leading from the kitchen to the cellar, the entrance the family always used to enter and leave our house . . . the cellar with the old stove, the pool table, the work bench holding all those unnamable tools (band saw, soldering iron, clamps, for starters)  with shelves of nails and screws and tools, with fishing rods and fishing lures, with the doll carriage awaiting repair, and in the back room, the old slate double tub with our first electric washing machine with electric ringer and washboard set up beside it.  .  .

So where do you keep your rubber bands, or DO you keep them?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

SPROUTING MUNG BEANS: What Goes Around Comes Around, or Trust your intuition and forget the internet

After all these years, back to sprouting mung beans?  Well, I thought I knew how to do it, but checking a video on the internet proved me wrong.  Easier to sprout larger beans?  Leave covered with water?  For three days?  Shake well?  Rinse vigorously?  Not my memory at all, and not the memory of my daughter who, (what goes around, comes around) is now into raw.  I think you have to leave it by the side of the sink in a bottle, on its side, to remind you to rinse twice a day and slightly tilted so it will drain, she said.

Buy organic dried mung beans.  Check.
Rinse.  Check.
Soak overnight.  Check.
Rinse every 8 to 12 hours, covering with water to soak again. Check. 
Okay, so after three days of soaking and rinsing vigorously, using only a pyrex measuring cup and a regular tea strainer, all I got was de husked mung beans.  Let's try rinsing them and draining them and leaving them drained on their side, as my daughter suggested (and as I remembered), but NOT next to the sink where all the dirty water from folks washing dishes and hands can splash up.  Kitchen, though.  

Back of stove, near window, out of sunlight, cover off, bottle tilted for constant drainage, rinsed and drained thoroughly every day. That should work.

And after three days of nothing, look what's happening!
The first tentative mung bean sprouts.
Now let's wait a day or two more to see if they'll sprout en masse!

Keeping bottle tilted on uneven surface (in this case, the stove top) to aid continuous draining.
Sprouts in canning jar with lid removed.
With hammer and nail, Marash Girl punched holes  into the lid to make twice daily rinsing easier. Be sure to remove lid from bottle before you start hammering! 
Store in refrigerator to keep fresh for the next week or so; sprinkle on salads, add as garnish to soups, or eat just the way they are!

Monday, June 11, 2012

'Beachcoma' Clam Chowder, Plum Island, Massachusetts

Such a beautiful day was yesterday that everyone (it seemed) in the Boston area headed for the Cape or Plum Island.  Marash Girl opted for Plum Island.  Less time, less traffic.  But Marash Girl and Marash Boy hadn't had lunch and didn't want to  walk for miles along the beach with no nourishment.  Stopping at their favorite haunt (where they could eat outside and look over the marshes) was not an option; the lines were out the door, literally, and there was no seating.  So they continued on and soon came to what appeared to be a bar.  Marash Girl remembered her father saying that bars always had the best food . . . how he knew, she's not sure, as she doesn't remember his frequenting bars . . . but on that assumption, he often told the story of how he and Uncle Paul walked into a bar, and ordered lunch.  The waitress came by and asked them what they would like to drink; they declined and said they just wanted the sandwiches they had ordered.  The waitress came by every five minutes to find out what they wanted to drink; they declined and replied that they just wanted the sandwiches they had ordered.  That continued for  half an hour; they never ordered a drink; their sandwiches never came.  So how Marash Girl's father knew that bars always have the best food is a mystery!  At any rate, Marash Boy and Marash Girl walked into a bar (the Beachcoma).  The waitress asked, "What can I get you to drink?"  Marash Girl asked, "Do you make your own clam chowder?"  "I'll check," she said, and came back assuring us that they did make their own clam chowder.  "We'll each have a bowl of that,"  Marash Boy replied.  "What can I get you to drink?" asked the waitress.  "Water is fine," they replied in unison.

And soon, out came two big bowls of clam chowder, $10 for the two, the best clam chowder Marash Girl (and she has been looking for the best clam chowder all her life) has ever had in her life.  Take a drive up to Plum Island on the north shore of Massachusetts and try the Clam Chowder at the 'Beachcoma'.  You'll want to take some home with you for sure!  And don't worry.  There's a restaurant on one side of the establishment.  You don't have to walk up to the bar to order your clam chowder.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Wrist-Wrestling Father" by Orval Land "(For My Father)"

Tired of reading books that were no more than "a quick toss in the hay" (pardon the metaphor), Marash Girl reached for GOOD POEMS, selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor (Penguin Books, 2002). She had never been one for reading poetry (having been forced to memorize poems weekly in third grade), but on this particular day, reading poetry seemed like the right thing to do.  To her surprise, the poems in the collection were so readable that Marash Girl continued reading for an hour . . a good cry, a good laugh, a poem from her past, a favorite . . . but of a sudden, she stopped.  What's this?  'Wrist Wrestling Father' (For My Father) by Orval Land . . .
Marash Girl had a wrist-wrestling father, a wrist wrestling family!  Arm-wrestling (as they called it) evenings with their dad in the breakfast nook at the breakfast nook table . . . (that was on those special evenings when their dad came home from work while they were still awake!)  And the breakfast nook table was the only place that such activity could have taken place because it was narrow enough so that the children and the father could reach across the table, clasp hands, plant their elbows on that table, and struggle.  The children never won (though the poet had), the breakfast nook, the breakfast nook table (it had held so much more than breakfast) and their father (he had held so much more than their hands) are gone, but the memory of the grasp, the clasp, and the struggle is there to this day.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Are your ducks all in a row?

Half-Pint, Sonoma, California:  Rubber duckies all in a row (at attention)!

Old Corner Books, Newton Corner, Massachusetts:  Rubber duckies all in a corner (having fun)!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Stranger in New Delhi

Judith Kirshner Eger loved to tell the story of her parents' first and only trip to New Delhi, India . . .  

Traveling abroad, the Kirshners (who hailed from Brooklyn Heights, NY,) found themselves in New Delhi.  They knew no one in the city.  

A stranger walked up to the couple.  Are you from America? he asked.   Do you know Marash Girl? (Identity suppressed for the protection of the innocent!)

Why, yes, they answered, completely flustered that here in the middle of India, a man who they did not know, who did not know them, would walk up to them and ask if they knew the best friend of their daughter, and learn that they did, in fact, know Marash Girl, and knew her well!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Here's your two cents: A joke from the 1930's

Here is a joke often told by Peter Bilezikian, a tale that has made a difference in the lives of many a rich (wo)man.

It was the depression; it was pouring rain.  A rich man was walking to his automobile when a newspaper boy, cold, wet, and shivering on the corner of the street called to him.  "Hey, mister.  Get the latest news."
"Sorry, kid, I get my papers delivered at home."
"But mister, it's pouring rain, I'm cold and wet, and I can't go home until I sell this last newspaper.  Please buy my paper."
"I told you, kid, I don't need it!"
"But, mister.  It's only 2 cents . . . "
The rich man paused for a moment, reconsidering, took 2 cents out of his pocket, gave it to the newspaper boy, and gruffed, "Here's your 2 cents."
"Thanks so much, mister!"
Without a word, the rich man took the newspaper from the newspaper boy, and threw it in the nearest trash barrel.
That night, much to his surprise, the rich man died and found himself knocking at the pearly gates.
St. Peter came to the gate.
"Yes?" said St. Peter, obviously surprised to see the rich man standing there.  "How can I help you?"
"I want to enter the pearly gates," answered the rich man.
"Really!" replied St. Peter.  "Now tell me. What good have you done in your life?"

(Now this question was, in fact, in contradiction to  Marash Girl's father's beliefs --  Ephesians 2:8, 9 - "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast."  Back to the joke . . . )

The rich man paused.  "I can't think of any good I have done in my life."
St. Peter asked again.  "You must have done something good in your life. .  . think about it. . ."
The rich man suddenly remembered.  "Well, in fact, yes.  Just yesterday, it was pouring rain, and a paperboy tried to sell me his last newspaper, and even though I didn't need the paper, I bought it for 2 cents, and then tossed it in the nearest trash barrel.  I get my papers delivered to my home," the rich man stated proudly.
St. Peter replied, "Is there anything else?"
The rich man paused, thought, and answered, "No, I can't think of anything else."
"Just a moment," answered St. Peter.  "I have to check with the Boss."
St. Peter was gone for a few moments, but soon returned.
"Well," asked the rich man, "What did the Boss say?"
St. Peter reached into the pocket of his robes, and held out his hand to the rich man:  
"Here's your two cents. Go to hell."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


One of the best cooking tips Marash Girl ever got from her mother was how to catch a bit of egg shell that has fallen into your egg mixture and/or muffin/popover/cake batter.  Anyone know?

There's something about an egg shell.  It likes itself.  If you try to get a bit of eggshell out of the mix with a spoon or your finger, (whether it be a mix of eggs ready to be scrambled, or eggs and milk and oil ready to be added to the flour mixture for muffins,)  good luck.  You'll spend a lot of time chasing the bit of egg shell around the bowl.  All you have to do is use the half of the egg shell that you just cracked open, and immediately the bit will attach itself to its kin.

Anyone know the reason?

Now how can we apply this bit of wisdom to life?

Monday, June 4, 2012


Classical, traditional, and folk Arabic and Balkan Music as performed by Christiane Karam & ZilZALA greet Marash Boy & Marash Girl yesterday upon their arrival at WBUR's Springfest.
Marash Boy meets WBUR's Robin Young ("Here and Now") at the WBUR Booth on the banks of the Charles. 
Children enjoy a day of fun and frolic on the shores of the Charles yesterday, thanks to WBUR.

WBUR's Megna Chakrabarti, with baby in backpack, introduces 
Rebecca Loebe (left) to WBUR supporters.
WBUR's Tom Ashbrook ("On Point") enjoys a moment in the spring sun on the banks of the Charles River yesterday afternoon.

Face painting on the banks of the Charles! 
Non-stop live entertainment under the tent on the banks of the Charles.
Folks who had the courage joined a team and rowed along the Charles River, celebrating Spring with WBUR; the story goes that at last year's festival, a woman rower dropped an oar into the Charles, leaned over to get it, and capsized the boat and all of its occupants!

WBUR supporters row along the Charles River.
After 2 PM, "all available rowing spots had been filled."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wait for the Wagon

My father loved to sing "Wait for the Wagon", an American folk song, probably the first song he learned after arriving in the United States from Marash in 1921.  He was nine years old and in the first grade when he learned the song.  He was in his 70's when I first remember his sharing the song with me.  And he was in the emergency room at Newton-Wellesley Hospital when I last remember his singing the song.  It was my signal to call the doctors -- he was leaving us, singing.

I had been at work in Boston that morning, when I returned to my office and routinely checked my voice mail, only to find a message from my Aunt Zabelle telling me that my father had been rushed to the hospital.  I ran  out of the building to my car, and drove the fastest 8 miles I had ever driven from Jamaica Plain to Newton, ran into the emergency room (bypassing the desk), to find my father laying on a stretcher in a room, unattended.  When I called to him, he began to sing.  I could barely hear him: "Wait for the wagon, wait for the wagon, wait for the wagon and we'll all . . . , " and I knew he was leaving us.  But not yet, my mind screamed, as my voice screamed for doctors who came running and saved his life.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Father, Lizz Winstead's Father, and Love: Lizz Winstead, LIZZ FREE OR DIE: Essays

Lizz Winstead, Lizz Free or Die - Essays.  Riverhead Books, 2012
Reading the recently published book of essays by stand-up comedian Lizz Winstead, co-founder of Air America Radio, Marash Girl was surprised to find that Marash Girl's father and Lizz's father, though separated by almost a generation, had something in common:  their love for their children and their sense of humor.  In the next to the last chapter of her book of essays qua autobiography (or as she calls them Lizzsays), Lizz (the youngest child in the family) writes of her father's last joke on his children.  Sending them each a sealed envelope with instructions not to open until after his death (which of course caused them all to do the opposite), the card said, "I love you.  You were my favorite.  Please don't tell the others."  Reading those lines last night reminded Marash Girl of her own father, Peter, who always said to his grandchildren (probably at about the same time Liz's father was writing his last note to his children), "You are my favorite grandchild!"  And when Karoun, Marash Girl's youngest, thought to ask, "What do you say to the others?", Peter answered, chuckling, "The same thing!"

Friday, June 1, 2012

Claflin School, Rotten Tangerines, and the Old Days

  And speaking (see yesterday's blog) of songs adapted to the chorus of the Battle Hymn of the Republic (below),

Marash Girl remembers David Seeley and the boys at the first Claflin School on Washington Park in Newtonville, Massachusetts, laughing and singing the following lyrics to the above tune:

                  Glory, glory hallelujah!
                  The teacher hit me with a ruler.
                  I knocked her off the bean with a rotten tangerine
                  and I went marching home!

N.B. Marash Girl's Claflin School 6th grade class was the only 6th grade class in the then history of Claflin School  that was not allowed to go for a week of camping to Peterborough, New Hampshire  (thanks to Miss Tobin, or was it David Seeley).  No wonder!