Friday, November 30, 2012

A Tribute to My Mom, “Jennie” (Lucille Mae Vartanian) Bilezikian

A Tribute to My Mom

“Jennie” (Lucille Mae Vartanian) Bilezikian
10/08/1917 – 11/30/1991
Jennie (Lucille Mae Vartanian) Bilezikian, age 63, with grandson Deron Charkoudian
 in side yard of family home, 474 Lowell Avenue, Newtonville, Massachusetts.  (Note apple orchard in background.)
By Visiting Blogger
Martha Mae (Bilezikian Atikian) McCool

Our Mom was a wonderful, fun loving, caring, patient, and warm hearted individual who also possessed incredible culinary expertise!
Mom was ahead of her time, always selecting the freshest fruits and vegetables, and preparing wholesome meals all cooked from scratch.
Mummy’s apple pies were memorable.  She made her crusts from scratch,  the flakiest ever, and the apples were picked fresh from our apple trees.  In fact, many of the members of the Women’s Education Club were envious of Mom’s talents.  It was always noted that the meetings held at our home had the greatest in attendance; the ladies always lingered, hoping for either a recipe, or a sliver of pie to take home to hubby!!
I distinctly remember when my maternal grandmother traveled from California to Massachusetts to enjoy the summer with us, she was astonished and even heartlessly admonished Mom for wasting time by not utilizing frozen packages of veggies, and adding water to cake mixes!!
Mummy enrolled in Drivers-Education while we were in elementary school, and a short time later, she was awarded her driver’s license.  Once she earned the badge of “Chauffer”, she took great pride in taking us shopping, or for a spin throughout Newton and the surrounding areas . . . I even remember some of those Newton High School Boys tooting and waving at us . . . she was adorable behind that wheel and could have easily passed for the beauty queen at Newton High School North.
Mom was a good sport, as well.   Periodically, Dad used to take us fishing to have fun but also to give Mom a few hours on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to enjoy without the commotion of 3 children.  The ironic part is that we would invariably return home with an enormous water filled bucket containing our “catch of the day” enjoying their last swim during the car ride back home.   Little did those fish know that our good hearted Dad would leave the fish preparation for Mummy.  In those days,  I guess it was considered “man’s work”  to catch the fish, and “women’s work” to clean, scale, and cook the fresh catch of the day!!!
As we entered college, Mummy always encouraged us to bring friends home for Sunday dinner.  As I recall, the dining-room table was always extended in order to accommodate everyone comfortably!   News of our hospitable family spread and friends always looked forward to visiting.
Mummy was the perfect role model.  She was a devoted mother and wife, and passionate about her responsibilities to raise us properly, in a very good home environment.  She set a wonderful example for us to follow and she was greatly loved.   She was always there for encouragement; she was always there to lend a helping hand.   Mummy was consistently cheerful and good hearted; we feel fortunate to have had such a terrific Mom.
February 22, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Marash Girl Blog Awarded Liebster Blog Award by Hye Thyme Cafe

Chris Coyle of Hye Thyme Cafe has awarded Marash Girl's Blog the Liebster Award!  Marash Girl thanks you, Chris! What the award is actually for is unclear -- the award may mean that the giver loves the Marash Girl Blog (liebster translated from the German meaning "beloved").   Marash Girl, in order to accept this award, must "pass it on" to five other bloggers who have fewer than 300 followers; in addition, she must reveal 11 facts about herself once she accepts the Liebster Award, which she does.  So here goes.

Award # 1 goes to Karoun at, Yoga teacher/philosopher, Springfield, Massachusetts, [new studios in West Springfield, Massachusetts, coming in 2013].

Award #2 goes to Robyn at The Armenian Kitchen, a collection of (mostly) Armenian recipes (for the American kitchen) and the history surrounding those recipes.

Award #3 goes to Deron at whose blog mainly provides information on bars and pub crawls in New York City.

Award #4 goes to Garo (Christian Garbis) at Notes From Hairenik | An Armenian Blog (in English) that  keeps us updated on the latest in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, from the perspective of an American Armenian.

Award #5 goes to a blogger new to blogging, and a new resident of Southern California, Abigail Howard at Class of '62, who writes about life in the slow lane!

Upon accepting this award, the recipients must agree to list 11 facts about themselves.  Here are the facts about Marash Girl.

Fact #1.  Marash Girl loves to find treasures at yard sales.
Fact #2. Marash Girl loves to gift those treasures to people she loves.
Fact #3. People she loves don't like the treasures and return them to Marash Girl.
Fact #4. Marash Girl donates those treasures to the local church flea market
Fact #5. Marash Girl's friend finds the perfect gift for Marash Girl at the local church flea market.
Fact #6. Marash Girl's friend gifts the perfect gift found at the local church flea market to Marash Girl.
Fact #7. Marash Girl redonates the perfect gift found at the local church flea market to the local church flea market.
Fact #8.  Marash Girl makes sure she is not in town for the next local church flea market
Fact #9.  This action taken by Marash Girl makes Marash Boy happy, but reading the Marash Girl Blog does not, which makes Marash Girl sad.
Fact #10.  Marash Girl loves to write blog posts daily.
Fact #11.  Marash Girl loves folks who read her blog posts, and especially folks who have signed up to follow her blog (hint, hint).

Marash Girl has notified the recipients of the Liebster Blog Award and awaits their acceptance with bated breath.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Doggie Doo-Doo

Yesterday evening after dark, returning from the supermarket, Marash GIrl was carrying groceries from the trunk of her car to her porch, taking a short-cut by walking over her front lawn (as opposed to walking along the sidewalk and up the stairs).  Soon enough, she had carried all of the groceries from the porch, down the front hall, through the dining room into the kitchen.  But the strangest of smells followed her, and when she looked, sure enough, there was doggie doo-doo all over the bottom of her brand new right running shoe.  

Any suggestions as to how to encourage the folks who walk their dogs to pick up after their dogs?  Cleaning up her shoe and her floors last night was not fun. 

N.B. Newton (Massachusetts) has a leash law, so there are no dogs running loose . . . only dogs on leash being walked by their owners. . . unless the leavings were from a well-fed coyote from Cabot Woods!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Wilbraham Cautionary Tale

This morning, I burned my hand on the teapot and immediately went for the ice . . . but the experience brought back a 20 year old memory . . . 

Pre-tornado photo: Marash Boy builds a fire in the fireplace in Wilbraham (As Marash Girl is the photographer,
there are no photos of her building a fire.)  N.B. The tornado deconstructed the fireplace which is no longer.
Marash Girl loved to go barefoot in Wilbraham -- over rocks and leaves, grass and soil. . .  even when she was preparing the fire for shish kebab.

As it happened, the fire was almost perfect, coals ready to be rearranged for the shish kebab, when a coal fell off of the open end of the fireplace, and Marash Girl's bare foot stepped on that coal with her full weight.  The burning coal burned the bare foot, as burning coals on bare feet are wont to do, but Marash Girl knew just how to proceed, or at least thought she did.  She grabbed some ice from the ice bucket, limped to the front porch, and,  for the next 8 hours.  watched the view of the valley from her seat on the porch, placing her burned sole on ice, and replacing the ice as it melted, until at long last, the burn disappeared.  No pain. No scar. The moral of the tale?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Her iş bitti, o kaldı?

On the day after Thanksgiving, Marash Girl was reading one of her favorite blogs (The Armenian Kitchen), where she found the latest in kitchen gadgets -- the pomegranate deseeder, an instrument so clever, that you can remove the fruit from the pomegranate without ever gazing on its internal beauty.  Laughing, screaming through her mind came all of the voices from her past commenting, "Her iş bitti, o kaldı?" . . . a favorite expression with Armenians from Marash, an expression from her childhood, an expression that Marash Boy used even yesterday, an ironic statement:  "We've accomplished everything that we need to,  so that now we can consider this (bit of foolishness)?" or "With all we have to do, you're bringing this to my attention?" or an ironic, "We've solved all the problems of the world so we can focus on this now!" and the statement would invariably cause the "bringer of this foolishness" to chuckle . . .  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Images of grace in a clumsy world . . ." - Bill Littlefield and WBUR's "Only A Game"

Bill Littlefied at WBUR
Photo Credit: Marash Girl
Sports provide us with "images of grace in a clumsy world" . . . so spoke Bill Littlefield on Thanksgiving Day, 2012, on his show, "Only A Game", WBUR-FM, Boston, Massachusetts

Thank you, Bill Littlefield.  You provide us with clever verbal images of sports in a verbally clumsy world!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Miracle on Worthington Street": Gas Explosion in Springfield, Massachusetts

Friday, November 23, 2012, 5:30 PM.  Our telephones started ringing. . . There had been a gas explosion on Worthington Street in Springfield,  Massachusetts, and several blocks away, all of the windows had been blown out at the Birney Building (on Apremont Triangle), the building that the City Church called home, and the building that houses the studio of Karoun Yoga. Miraculously, no one had been hurt.

At the time of the explosion, the Mayor of Springfield was at the Springfield Museum Quadrangle lighting the Christmas tree -- the folks attending the ceremonial lighting there thinking that the explosion was all part of the show, the Mayor and the Lieutenant Governor knowing differently, heading at a run down Edwards Street, down Chestnut Street, past the just blown out windows of the Birney Building on Apremont Triangle, towards 453 Worthington Street where they could already see a huge black mushroom shaped cloud looming upward, and acrid smoke filling the air.  It was 5:25 PM.

The Scores Strip Club (euphemistically known as a "gentleman's club", though what gentleman would be seen there, Marash Girl has yet to figure out) had reported smelling natural gas at 4:25 PM.  The gas company and fire department had arrived at the scene and turned off the gas, to no avail.  Very soon after, the building at 453 Worthington Street and its neighbor were no longer, the explosion heard and felt for miles around, blowing out windows and causing structural damage to buildings for blocks around, the air filled with acrid smoke.  (If you have questions on whether or not your building is habitable, call 413-787-6031 or 413-787-6032.)

Oh, and the miracle? 2 buildings were completely destroyed, 12 buildings were significantly damaged, 12 buildings suffered moderate damage, (48 DAMAGED BUILDINGS AS OF NOVEMBER 26!) windows for blocks around were blown out, 18 people were injured, (9 firemen, 4 gas company employees, 2 police officers, 2 civilians, and a water & sewer worker) . . . but not one life was lost.

Karoun's condo, 3rd floor corner apartment, Chestnut & Worthington Streets

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Church on Meeting House Lane

The Church on Meeting House Lane
Sagamore Beach -- the stone church --  the Swift Memorial Methodist Church -- Marash Girl felt a kinship to it -- it too had been harmed by tornadic (is there such a word) winds two years ago, causing extensive water damage to the interior of the church.  Thus, taking the grandkids to church on Sunday mornings meant driving down to the Swift Memorial Activity Center to a church service where the children said, "That was really interesting . . . and I understood every word!" 

In the same building, the church thrift shop does a thriving business on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  The first Wednesday Marash Girl took her grandchildren, they didn't realize that there was a basement full of books, and so they meandered through the first floor shop, finding a treasure chest for Elina and three crochet hooks, one for Marash Girl, one for Elina, and one for Iffar (for their next stint with their Ama when they'll learn the fine art of crochet!)

On their second trip to the thrift shop, Marash Girl found it closed -- torrential rains had kept the volunteers at home.  But her third trip there, on her last day in Sagamore Beach, Marash Girl circumnavigated the book room, finding such treasures as were far too many to purchase and carry back to Boston . . . while Marash Boy took a trip to the local Dunkin' Donuts for his morning coffee.  

At the checkout counter, Marash Girl girl found the greatest treasure of all.   She met the cheeriest lady on the beach.  This lady was laughing about her friend who decorated her (the lady's) blue jeans with daisies all down the side.  She paused in her story to greet Marash Girl and they began chatting.  When Marash Girl told her how much they (Marash Girl and the grandchildren) had enjoyed the church service the previous Sunday, the cheery lady said, "Yes, I love this church.    My son died in VietNam, and I didn't go to church for many a year after that. I blamed the wrong person," she said with a grin, pointing upward.  "This church helped me back to joy." Her joy was palpable. Her joy was memorable.  Her joy was an inspiration.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

How fleeting is beauty . . .

Marash Girl awoke to sunrise framed in an eastern window.  She hurried from the warmth of her bed into the cold of the morning to record the moment, but by the time she had reached her camera, the sunrise had faded.  

How fleeting is beauty . . .

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving with Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish -- Raw Foodies, Take Note!

On Thursday, December, 16, 2010, Marash Girl wrote a blog post entitled ON NOT PEELING AN ORANGE.

In that post, she outlined the following recipe for Cranberry Orange Relish, a concoction that her second grade class prepared and sent to the boys overseas for Thanksgiving.
"Cranberry Orange Relish

2 cups fresh cranberries, washed, sorted (discarding the squishy ones) and stemmed
1 juicy orange with skin (washed)
1 cup sugar

Put cranberries and oranges through a meat grinder, or if you're living in the 21st century, through a Cuisinart chopper. (Be careful to chop sparingly; you don't want a puree.)"

Because juice oranges are a lot less juicy than they were in the "good old days", Marash Girl would recommend that you use two juicy oranges rather than one, and if the mixture is not orangey enough, add some of your own freshly squeezed orange juice.  (Adding a third orange with peel would throw off the taste balance.)

Marash GIrl doesn't know anybody else who makes this dish, though she gets calls every year from friends who want her to save them some (and this year from someone who wanted the recipe. . . she was so happy to learn that Marash Girl had recorded it in today's post!)

Cranberry Orange Relish gets better as it stays, and Marash Girl's friend informed her this morning that it freezes well, too (though she never has any leftovers to freeze)!

If you use organically grown oranges and cranberries, AND you substitute a raw sweetener for the sugar, even the "Raw Foodies" in your family will love it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How far does the wind blow?

Yesterday, complimenting the fruit and vegetable man at Stop & Shop for having such a wonderful selection of organic fruits and vegetables, Marash Girl launched into a discussion about the cost of healthy eating.  How could folks afford to pay more than twice as much for a fruit or vegetable that was "organically" grown?  Did that mean that only the middle class or more precisely the well-to-do could afford to eat healthy in the latest way?  What did that mean for the poor?  Were the wealthy going to live longer and healthier than the poor because they had the money to purchase foods that were organically grown?  And if that was the case, what were we saying about our "democracy"?  Is it a real democracy when some folks cannot afford to live in a district where their children can attend good schools, learn about foods that have not been chemically treated, and then get jobs that can pay for those foods?

The fruit and vegetable man swallowed hard and said, I buy organic milk for my children. . . For my children . . . 

How much money does the fellow working in the Stop and Shop vegetable section earn?  And how much does buying organic milk stem the tide against disease borne of eating non-organically grown foods?  And what, in reality, are organically grown foods?

When Marash Girl and Marash Boy summered on top of Wilbraham Mountain, they planted vegetables, never sprayed, fertilized only by a crop of winter rye every winter to replenish the soil, compost, and crop rotation for good measure . . . They harvested peaches from peach trees that had been planted in the 1940's and had never been sprayed.  . . . however, they did not live in isolation.  The fallen neighbor sprayed his peach orchard regularly, even when the wind was blowing . . . He was acres away, but then, how far does the wind blow?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hunting the haunting at Dunkin' Donuts

The brave souls that work at Dunkin' Donuts, Blakeslee, PA

Granted it was October, the week before Halloween, but certainly that could not account for all of the  promises of haunted houses in the Poconos.  We had stopped at the Sunoco Station (across from Dunkin' Donuts) at the confluence of Pennsylvania Routes 940 and 215 in Blakeslee, to gas up and get directions to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania (not his house, but the town named in honor of him).  The gal behind the counter gave us the directions and when we asked if any of the buildings at Jim Thorpe were haunted, she answered, "Oh, if you're looking for haunted, the Dunkin' Donuts across the street is haunted.  I work there, so I know!"  A haunted Dunkin' Donuts?  This Marash Girl had to see with her own eyes, so to cheer her up on a dreary, foggy, misty day, a day that was too fog-filled to travel to Easton, (the aborted plan for the day,) Marash Boy decided to take Marash Girl to breakfast at the haunted Dunkin' Donuts.  And there she was, the girl from the Sunoco station, the girl with tatoos on her arms, serving coffee at Dunkin' Donuts.  "Hi," said Marash Girl.  "Is this the Dunkin' Donuts that's haunted?" Marash Girl asked looking around and up at the ceiling for any such signs. 

"It sure is," answered the girl with tattoos on her arms.  A tall young man with dark hair came walking over.  "Just this morning at 10 AM,  I heard a voice calling my name and when I turned around, there was no one there."  "I heard it, too," said the girl with tattoos on her arms.  "What has been happening?" Marash Girl asked, fascinated. . . "Well, see this lever which we depress to pour you a cup of coffee?  This lever locks when it's in the up position; no way can it accidentally depress.  But the other day, hot coffee started pouring from the spout, spilling everywhere!"  "And when I opened up yesterday morning," added the tall young man,
"I felt a dark presence behind me, but when I turned around, no one was there!"  The gal with tattoos on her arms continued.  "See this white funnel?  There is no way it can leave its position in the pot, but the other day it went flying through the air; that flight was even caught on camera!"  "And this coffee filter full of grounds went flying out of the pot several weeks ago, while we were all on the other side of the store; we saw it happen!"  Marash Boy, looking for a plausible reason for all this paranormal activity, suggested that there must have been a farmhouse on this land that was demolished in order to build the Dunkin' Donuts, and that the haunting presence was unhappy with having his abode displaced.  The young man working behind the counter said that there had been a restaurant at those crossroads for many years, and that the land under the building was swampland.  "That would explain it," said Marash Boy. "The ghost was probably an integral part of the restaurant that was demolished."  "Does anything ever happen at night?" Marash Girl asked.  "Don't know," answered the young man with the blonde hair.  "I'm never here at night."  "I wouldn't be here either," answered Marash Girl, laughing.  As they left, Marash Boy and Marash Girl spied  3 large boulders, reddish in color, (could they be gravestones?) set in front of the building, the very color of the orangish red on the leaves in the forest and the orangish red of the Dunkin' Donuts sign.  

"Quite unusual for the typical Dunkin' Donuts,"  Marash Boy commented; "This franchise must be  privately owned by the ghost!" 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chile Con Carne with Leftover Turkey

Recently, Cajunlicious posted a great recipe for Chile Con Carne; reading the recipe, Marash Girl thought, Aha!  I'll grind up the leftover dark turkey meat from our Thanksgiving turkey and substitute that for the ground beef called for in the Chile Con Carne recipe . . .  a delicious post-Thanksgiving treat!  Thanks, Cajunlicious, for the inspiration. . .  Just click this link to find her recipe for chile con carne, and, as Marash Girl suggests above, in place of beef, substitute (post-Thanksgiving) cooked dark turkey meat ground up in your Cuisinart:  The non-beef eaters in the crowd will love you for it, and the others probably won't know the difference (unless you confess).  Spices cover up the cook's sins of omission as well as her sins of commission!  (Don't know about his!)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Farewell, Twinkies

News alert from the Wall Street Journal

"Hostess, the maker of iconic treats like Twinkies, is shuttering its plants and liquidating its 82-year-old business.

A victim of changing consumer tastes (DUH -added by Marash GIrl), high commodity costs and strained labor relations, Hostess ultimately was brought to its knees by a national strike orchestrated by its second-largest union."

A tear in the eye for Twinkies, the one food Marash Girl has never eaten/never wanted to eat; a joke; the symbol for junk food, and yet a favorite of a whole generation of kids.

Twinkies brings to mind Marash Girl's long ago visit to a family in the East Bronx -- all that was in their refrigerator for their two little boys was Twinkies -- and the bag of oranges (eyed suspiciously by the Twinkie lovers) Marash Girl had brought as a gift -- a rather unholy marriage of foods sitting uncomfortably together in an East Bronx "ice box".

Friday, November 16, 2012

Instructions For the young Bride-To-Be

Instructions For the young Bride-To-Be:   How to Dry Lettuce Leaves

It was the late 1960's, before the days when everyone owned salad spinners, and Marash Girl had been told a wonderful kitchen secret -- to wit: how to dry lettuce leaves quickly by placing the freshly washed leaves in an old pillowcase, tying a knot at the opening of the pillowcase, and swinging that pillowcase in circles above your head.  The centrifugal force will force the water off of the lettuce leaves and the water will be absorbed by the cotton of the pillow case (and beyond, as Marash Girl soon learned).  What she was NOT told was that the whole process should be done out of doors and with a newish pillow case rather than an older one.  This is what happened.

Marash Girl was visiting her soon to be in-laws on Dearborn Street in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Assigned to make the salad, she decided to try her new lettuce leaf drying trick, so she asked for an old pillow case.  Her soon to be sister-in-law dutifully brought her an old pillowcase into which Marash Girl placed a pile of freshly washed lettuce leaves.  Marash Girl knotted the pillowcase and went into the brightly lit living room (it was cold outside, and dark), and started swinging the pillowcase in circles above her head.  Within moments, water droplets began to splash all over the antique wallpaper on the living room walls, soon to be followed by lettuce leaves which had broken their way through the weakened cotton of the old pillowcase and now, (after bouncing off the walls) were all over the antique oriental rug and the beautifully cushioned living room furniture.  Marash Girl didn't know whether to laugh or to cry, but she still remembers the incident to this day!  

Marash Girl has yet to try to dry lettuce in a new pillow case out of doors, but you could!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Spitting on the head of a donkey

The first time Marash Girl visited Marash Boy at his home on Dearborn Street in Springfield, Massachusetts, was with Raffi Yeghiayan, on the way back from a mutual friend's wedding in Western Massachusetts.  Raffi had offered to do the driving.  All four of them were old friends, having been members of the Harvard-Radcliffe-(MIT) Armenian Club.  Marash Boy's mother Azniv greeted them at the door and was a bit taken aback to see Marash Girl standing there with a boy (other than her son!)  She invited them in, and went up to the third floor where Marash Boy was working on his Ph.D. thesis.   Apparently Marash Boy (or so his mother reported years later to Marash Girl), upon being told that Marash Girl had come to visit, replied, "Eshekin bashuna tukururum", roughly translated, "I spit on the head of a donkey!"  What do you think he could have meant?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Eight Stages of Genocide

On Sunday evening, Marash Girl sat in her living room listening to an academic (Alan Whitehorn) and a dramatist (Bianca Bagatourian) discuss Stanton's (Gregory H. Stanton, President, Genocide Watch) eight stages of genocide (To learn more, click

1. Classification
2. Symbolization
3. Dehumanization
4. Organization
5. Polarization
6. Preparation
7. Extermination
8.  Denial 

These experts concurred that actually Stage 8 existed in the pre-planning stages, before Stage 1.

In that she had learned (from her father and her work recording oral histories in the Armenian community of Watertown during the early 1970's) much about the Armenian Genocide, Marash Girl was getting sicker and sicker, literally, as she listened. She wanted to know where on their list they would place the action taken in the City of Marash, Ottoman Empire by the Turkish Government when all Armenian households were asked to give up their weapons (each household was to turn in at least one gun or the members of the household would be placed in a Turkish prison): if the Armenian household had no weapon(s) to turn in, they were either placed in prison or, given the circumstances, forced to purchase a weapon to turn in to the authorities in order to avoid being placed in prison; when the Armenian(s) handed over the weapon(s) -- recently purchased to avoid being placed in prison -- the turning in of the weapon(s) was confirmation to the Turkish government that, in fact, the Armenians had these weapons in their possession because they had been plotting to overturn the Turkish government.

No humor here, but certainly the expression fits:  "Spit up and you hit your moustache; spit down and you hit your beard."  Marash Girl wonders if the expression was heard throughout Kumbet in those terrible days, early in the 20th Century . . . 

(See Marash Girl's earlier blogpost on Armenian sayings.)


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On the subway with Eric Bogosian

A loyal reader notified Marash Girl of the following encounter on the subway in New York City. . .

After leaving a party in Park Slope in Brooklyn, my girlfriend and I walked to the Grand Army subway stop and on the platform, I recognized Eric Bogosian (looking more gray than I remembered him on Law & Order: CI).  He was with a few friends.  He boarded the subway with his friends.  When we reached my stop, he was still on the train; I walked past him and said, “Mr. Bogosian, Deron C.....ian, I love your work; have a good night”.  And he shook my hand and replied, “Thank you very much”.  Funny thing, I wanted to go to the Armenian event at which he was speaking earlier this week, but didn’t because of Hurricane Sandy.  To see a description of the event I missed, click

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Nisha

Nisha.  It was love at first sight.  And such love. . .

Expecting a boy (of course), Marash Boy and Marash Girl had already decided on naming their first child "Nishan" after Marash Boy's father. Nishan -- in Armenian, a good sign, a sign of good fortune, the (implied) sign of the cross.   A girl?  Nisha it is, then! Marash Boy and Marash Girl's very first child, their Armenian child, their Armenian daughter, their Armenian Marashtsi daughter, their beautiful blonde Armenian Marashtsi daughter.

Carrying her in the deep blue corduroy Snugli (what we called the front baby carrying pack in those days) as the back pack was too dangerous -- her mother would never know if a stranger was approaching from behind to entertain her beautiful baby . . . Living in a 4 floor town house on Beacon Hill -- 36 West Cedar Street, to be exact, Marash Girl would take Nisha out for her daily walk  around Beacon Hill, in the fresh air, pushing her in the carriage that had been used in 1925 for her Aunt Arppie. Marash Girl and Nisha (and the carriage) were the focus of all the elegant as well as the homeless folks that hung out on the Boston Common.  They loved the fact that little Nisha had bare feet (no shoes were healthier, Doctor Reiner  said; she'll learn to walk faster -- but of course that was later!)  Perhaps the homeless could identify.

Her first year out was along Charles Street, Boston Common, the antique stores, up and down the steep, narrow byways of Beacon Hill,  past Louisburg Square (the cobblestones made it impossible to pass in a baby carriage -- Baby Nisha would have bounced right out of that carriage) and what adulation she enjoyed.  Serious and attentive to her surroundings,  sizing up the folks around her at all times, she would often be found staring at folks until they returned her stare with a smile.

Learning to speak, she never attempted to speak until she could speak the word or sentence perfectly.  No first attempts; only perfection.

Gramps (Great Uncle Levon Apovian) would often ask Marash Girl why Marash Girl, good mother that she was, would bleach the hair of such a young child.  Although he himself was Marashtsi, he did not understand that Nisha came from a line of Marashtsis with blonde hair and blue eyes.  Is she adopted, everyone wanted to know . . . "Funny she doesn't look like you or your husband . . . Funny she doesn't look Armenian. . . " 

Beautiful and serene (her grandmother would say, "agurendan satiyor" -- she's so serious) she was and still is, as she continues to evaluate the world around her and contribute through the scientific research that she began at age 5.  Scientific research at age 5, you ask? Hermit crabs, Gerbils, Turtles, Kittens, soon to be followed by amoeba under a microscope!  I'm sorry, Nisha.  I know you always wanted a puppy, but as the mother of four, Marash Girl could not manage.  Happy Birthday, Nisha.  May I offer you today what I could not offer you in the past?  The puppy of your choice for your birthday?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Between a rock and a hard place . . .

Laughing at an apparently insoluble problem (as nothing
was insoluble for him), Peter Bilezikian could often be 
heard commenting, "Spit up and you hit your moustache,
spit down and you hit your beard!"  

Peter, (who, by the way, never had a moustache OR a 
beard), born early in the 20th Century in Marash, Ancient
 Armenia, of Armenian parents, and a survivor of the 
Armenian Genocide, may well have been translating into
English an expression that he had often heard from the 
folks around him who were struggling to survive:  
Asagi turkursen sakal, yukari tukursen biyik.  

That feeling of frustration being universal, you may have heard the expression in American terms: "caught between a rock and a hard place," an expression which probably finds its origins in Greek mythology, "caught between Scylla and Charybdis", caught between two dangers, either of which would bring certain disaster.

Survivor that he was, Peter Bilezikian did not believe in certain disaster.  He believed in God's grace.  He never gave up!  And if he couldn't find the answer to an immediate dilemma, he would always crack a joke!

As Marash Girl often asks her grandchildren, "Do you want to be happy or do you want to be sad?"

Or as Peter used to say to his children, "Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone."

Saturday, November 10, 2012


"It's easy to love someone for their good points; but true love is when you love them for their bad points as well. . . "   Peter Bilezikian

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cooking, the old-fashioned way . . .

A friend has been translating into English Armenian recipes written in Greek and published in Turkey. Quite a feat . . . but the collection, a testimony to the history of a people . . She writes, "Don't you love the general, non-specific, fuzzy directions....that's how old Greek recipes are too (I can hear the writer thinking "what!?? Don't you know what temp. to set the oven?? what kind of housewife are YOU!)"

Of course, in the early days, there were no "ovens" to set temperatures at . . . only wood burning stoves, if the cooks were lucky! [Even in Wilbraham,  cooking was done on open fires outside, or inside the cabin using cast iron wood burning stoves!]
Here in the good old USA, before Betty Crocker . . . A handful of this, a pinch of that.

And Marash Boy's mother's expression when giving directions as to how much of anything to add to a preparation she was making, "Achku chap," measurement by the eye. "God didn't make recipes in heaven," she would comment.  Her very "modern" daughters were always annoyed that their mother didn't follow recipes.  That is, until they grew up to realize, as Mark Twain would say, how much their mother had learned in the last few years!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

First Snowfall of the Season

Snow on the camera lens, snow on the evergreens.
Photo taken at 10 PM, November 7, 2012

Surprised by yesterday's snowfall?  Yes, especially if you had read's forecast eliminating the possibility of snow (just as the snow began to fall). Light and lovely at noon, heavy and wet by nightfall.  Had you read Marash Girl's comments on the heavy acorn harvest (see Marash Girl's blog post for August 22, 2012), you would have nodded your head and said, "Of course!"

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Human Sadness at the Polls

Overheard at the polls.

"Oh," said the elderly woman in surprise, looking down at the voter list as she checked out before depositing her ballot in the ballot box; "my husband hasn't voted yet!"  Later, the poll worker (who had checked the elderly woman out)  turned to her colleague and said, "That was so sad."  "Why?" asked her colleague, "because her husband hasn't voted yet?"   "No . . . ," answered the poll worker; "so sad . . . because her husband couldn't have voted; he passed away last week."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

To vote or not to vote . . . that is the question.

To vote or not to vote . . . that is the question.

As Hurricane Sandy approached, Marash Girl had the opportunity to speak with a man in Springfield, Massachusetts, about the upcoming Presidential election. Marash Girl was curious to know how he saw the candidates running for President of the United States.  

His response:
"I'm not going to vote (even though I'm African American) because either way, whoever wins the election,   we're heading into a horrific war with Iran, and I don't want to be blamed.  I'm former military and I know what's coming and what it means!"  

Hopefully this gentleman's assumptions are incorrect.  Hopefully.

Please get out there and vote -- your vote will make a difference -- and while you're at it, PRAY FOR PEACE!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Time to fly south!

Walking westward early yesterday morning, (6:30 AM EST to be exact -- yes, Marash Girl remembered to turn the clock back), Marash Girl heard what she thought were chickens, but she knew there were no chickens near the YMCA in Newton Corner.  What could that sound be?  The thought of chickens cackling early in the morning brought to mind her stay in Antigua, Guatemala, where a rooster's crowing or chickens' cackling would awaken her, or more grimly, the Guatemalan armed forces marching through the streets at  5 AM.  But in Newton Corner, it was none of the above.  Looking up, into the western sky, Marash Girl saw a formation, too distant to make out whether geese or another form of avian life, flying in reverse and ragged formation, with desperation in the flight, flying southward.  Yes, Saturday night there had been a frost and Sunday morning the thermometer on the North side of the house in Newton Corner read 31 degrees .  

The geese, if that was what they were, were precipitously heading south to warmer climes; perhaps it was not too late.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lower Manhattan sees the light!

After the anguish caused by Wall Street Journal's reporting that ConEdison would provide "power to the people" no later than  November 11 or November 12, yesterday brought shouts of joy throughout lower Manhattan, apparently heard all the way to Brooklyn, as the lights came on.  But alas, visiting blogger DC, in his building on John Street, could still not see the light. . . not, that is, until last night at 9:24 PM,  when Marash Girl received the following text message:  "Power has been restored!"  Awkward at texting, Marash Girl replied immediately:  "Tks b 2 God"!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: The Aftermath - New York City

Visiting Blogger DC, a regular reader of this blog and a resident of Lower Manhattan, writes from NYC,

"As we enter our sixth day without power in Lower Manhattan, I think about some of those who are less fortunate than I am. Some have lost their homes and some have lost loved ones. I also think about a longer term trend emerging: if you're keeping score at home, Sandy is now the fourth storm in 22 months to hit the NYC tri-state area and knock out power for at least a week to a significant portion of the population (the first three such storms, in chronological order: Christmas snowstorm in 2010, Hurricane Irene and the freak Halloween snow storm one year ago). whatever your political persuasion is re: climate change and infrastructure spending, the bottom line is, something is not right."

Note from Marash Girl:  Regular reader DC, a longtime resident of lower Manhattan, is no wimp, having seen the planes hit the Twin Towers on 9/11 and survived to tell the tale.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Remembering Hurricane Gloria

Marash Girl's happiest hurricane memories are the memories of Hurricane Gloria, when every radio station was playing the song, "Gloria", and the family, safe and snug at home, was singing along and dancing to "Gloria" every time it played, (which was most of the day) as the winds howled and the rains rained!

Lyrics to Gloria by Laura Branigan

Gloria, you're always on the run now
Running after somebody, you gotta get him somehow
I think you've got to slow down before you start to blow it
I think you're headed for a breakdown, so be careful not to show it
You really don't remember, was it something that he said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
Gloria, don't you think you're fallin'?
If everybody wants you, why isn't anybody callin'?
You don't have to answer
Leave them hangin' on the line, oh-oh-oh, calling Gloria
Gloria (Gloria), I think they got your number (Gloria)
I think they got the alias (Gloria) that you've been living under (Gloria)
But you really don't remember, was it something that they said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
A-ha-ha, a-ha-ha, Gloria, how's it gonna go down?
Will you meet him on the main line, or will you catch him on the rebound?
Will you marry for the money, take a lover in the afternoon?
Feel your innocence slipping away, don't believe it's comin' back soon
And you really don't remember, was it something that he said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
Gloria, don't you think you're fallin'?
If everybody wants you, why isn't anybody callin'?
You don't have to answer
Leave them hangin' on the line, oh-oh-oh, calling Gloria
Gloria (Gloria), I think they got your number (Gloria)
I think they got the alias (Gloria) that you've been living under (Gloria)
But you really don't remember, was it something that they said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
(Gloria, Gloria, Gloria, Gloria, Gloria)
(Gloria, Gloria, Gloria, Gloria, Gloria)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, 2 Reports, Yesterday, from New York City

Hurricane Sandy, 2 Reports, Yesterday, from New York City

1) The last thing I did before the hurricane/cyclone hit and all power was
lost for 2 days, was order that book from your Living in the dark with no lights, no heat, nothing to keep you occupied is hell.

I have a renewed respect for blind people. At least we could see when
it was daylight, though we depended on flashlights and candles just to
see a little at night. In 2 days, I went thru 6 candles and six
It's an awful thing to be stuck in your home with your wife!

2)  Still no electricity but both of us made it to work and were able to shower. Me at my gym and he at work. I got to work on the bus (one hour on the uptown bus, 1/2 hour on the crosstown); it was crowded but no issues. It was a little eerie. No traffic lights or open stores between our apt and above 34 street. The couple places I walked by on the way to the bus stop were a mess, the Duane Reade on Water Street and the little bit I saw of the South Street Seaport were really bad. I was running for the bus this morning so I didn't get a chance to look around. I hope to get the chance on my way home. There are maintenance people in our building today so we were able to get the toilet working.