Saturday, November 30, 2013

Oh, Those Sweet Potatoes!!!

Roasted sweet potatoes . . . the most delicious treat you'll ever eat, as a snack, a side dish     . . .  for Thanksgiving, Christmas, any time, any day.

Festive or not, a treat that can't be beat . . . a creation that Ahsin has agreed to share with Marash Girl's readers.

Here's how! 
Preheat oven to 415.  Wash the (raw) sweet potatoes and chop into 1-1.5" cubes.  Spread in a roasting pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper.  Mix together with your hands to make sure all pieces are coated.  Roast for 20-25 minutes or until they start to get a little golden-brown.  Check halfway through cooking and stir them around a little to prevent sticking to the pan. 
Can be enjoyed warm as a side dish, or at room temperature as a snack or in a salad!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Asking the Lord's blessing . . .

Despite what she wrote in yesterday's blog, Marash Girl celebrated Thanksgiving by giving thanks for her friends, for her family . . . and how did she do that beyond the simple giving of thanks?  She cooked and she baked and she served . . . and she and her family and her friends now all included within the family gathered together and sang , "We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing . . . "

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving for those of us who can celebrate . . .

Black Friday -- irony of ironies -- Thursday, Thanksgiving Day is the day of black, the day of mourning, for the Natives of the Americas  . . .  For years, Marash Girl and her daughter Girol fled the Thanksgiving celebration at their own home to join forces with the thousands of Native Americans who participated in the Day of Mourning held yearly on "Thanksgiving Day" in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bulgur Pilaf for Thanksgiving!

Radio stations are brimming with suggestions for Thanksgiving dishes, but none as delicious as our old standby, bulgur pilaf, the food that kept our people alive through the most devastating of circumstances!  

Bulgur pilaf -- Marash Girl's favorite dish, both to prepare and to eat!  And for Thanksgiving, a quick and tasty alternative to potatoes or rice.

How does she do it?  Easy.

Fry up some chopped onions in olive oil or butter or a combination of the two (and if you have the time and the vegetables,  chopped green peppers).  Add a cup of medium bulgur (not fine, not coarse, but medium bulgur -- available at Middle Eastern grocery stores, but usually not in supermarkets where, if you're lucky, you'll find fine bulgur which is used for tabouleh and coarse bulgur which is used for dolma).  Sauté the bulgur with the onions (and peppers, if you've added peppers).  For every cup of bulgur, add somewhat less than 1 cup  of V-8 Juice (yes, V-8 Juice!) and 7/8 cup water, and a lot less if you've added tomatoes. Or use all V-8 juice and no water . . . your taste! Bring mixture to a boil and turn off the heat.  Your bulgur pilaf will be ready in 15 minutes!  A time-saving device would be to sauté all of the ingredients the evening before or the morning of your main event.  Then 15 minutes before serving time, add the V-8 juice.  This is a great and somewhat exotic alternative for those who have vegetarians in the family, but, of course, would not work if your vegetarians or vegans are gluten intolerant!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"What can I bring?"

Marash Girl has to laugh at how many times she has heard this conversation play over the last week--either on a telephone call to herself, in person, or listening in on a conversation being played out on a friend's cell phone . . .

The possibilities offered are always endless . . . and Marash Girl's answer, she being a snob when it comes to cooking . . . is always, "Just bring yourself!"

Of course, playing in the back of her mind is her father's admonition (which she dares not repeat to her friends), "Don't ask, just bring!"

Monday, November 25, 2013

WD40 and the Blackberry

WD40 -- a common household word at the homestead in Newtonville . . . And apparently in Springfield as well.  

Marash Boy recounts the following 21st Century use for WD40.

"Who would think that my ancient Blackberry roller could be repaired by WD40? Stuck only going sideways and down, i couldn't make it roll upward, until I remembered my cousin George and father-in-law's favorite "solution":  WD 40.  My Blackberry roller works perfectly now!"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Slow Cooked Turkey Breast for 10

Turkey cooked in a slow cooker?  Never heard of it, never thought of it, and in fact, it sounded disgusting, but there she was with some interesting ingredients and no time, so why not try it?  She did and she was glad!  Here's what she did:

5 or 6 pound turkey breast
2 large onions, peeled and cut in half
3 large sweet potatoes, washed, unpeeled and cut in half
3 cups organic all natural apple cider
juice of 3 limes
turmeric, curry, cajun spice (or hot pepper), fresh basil

Place turkey and vegetables in slow cooker; cover with spices.  Pour apple cider (or wine, if you have no apple cider) and juice of 3 fresh limes.

Cook in slow cooker on high for one hour; lower to low for 6 hours.

Above was purely experimental.  What to cook for supper?  Look around -- what's in the vegetable bin, what's in the fridge, what kind of time do you have to prepare?

The answers to those questions resulted in the above concoction which turned out to fill the house with a heavenly aroma all day, and feed the appetite with a most delicious treat at supper time.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Training kids the old country way

The old days may not be as lovely as we would like to think . . .  Many examples, for sure, but the few that come to mind at the moment . . .

In Marash, the folks put soil in kids diapers for absorbing their kid's poop.  

To toilet train early (often by 9 months) a blown out match (or a lit cigarette) would be applied to the child's bottom whenever the diaper was soiled. Hence mothers-in-law felt free to criticize their U.S. born daughters-in-law if the grandchildren had not been toilet-trained before the children had learned to talk or walk!

That's enough of that!  On to tomorrow and more lovely thoughts.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Do you remember where you were at the moment of the tragic news of JFK's assassination? Marash Girl does, as do the 33 other folks who were with her listening to the unexpected crackling of the never before heard from PA system . . .

May God rest his soul . . .

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A friend remembers Joan Scully Metz . . .

Joan was a special soul, for sure, tender, fierce, intelligent, caring, impish, funny, authentic.  Life was better for anyone who was fortunate enough to have crossed paths, however briefly(as in my case) but that IS the point of a life well lived. The lasting imprint(s) one leaves on this short journey. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Need your eyes examined? Look again!

A cruel joke? . . . Administration's way of increasing business? . . . Walking into Visual Services (better known as the eye doctor's office), Marash Girl thought that her eyes were playing tricks on her!  She had never before had a problem looking at prints and paintings hanging on the wall, but here she was in the outer offices of the eye doctors and she couldn't see clearly . .  Now YOU take a look at these prints!  It's not the camera, and no, it's NOT your eyes!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Marking the 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address . . .

All the dignitaries in Springfield had gathered, and as Karoun passed, curious about the reason for all the assembled, she learned that the assembled dignitaries had just concluded a 150 year commemoration of the  deliverance by Abraham Lincoln of his famous Gettysburg Address.

The Gettysburg Address? Marash Girl asked her daughter.  The very words brought to mind standing next to her parents double bed early on Sunday mornings, attempting to commit this unrhyming address to memory.

All the other kids in third grade got to recite cute, short little poems; even Clinton Shaw got to recite Casey at the Bat (which earned him no end of credits with the 3rd grade boys -- especially David Seeley who was Claflin School's "Casey at the Bat" . . . ) but Marash Girl had to memorize the Gettysburg Address because of its historic significance -- the reunification of that which had been almost irretrievably torn asunder.

The Gettysburg Address . . . Four Score and Seven Years Ago . . . Marash Girl still remembers all these years later (although not quite four score and seven years later!)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dunkin' Donuts, 1950

Having coffee across the bridge yesterday, Marash Boy called attention to the vintage photo on the wall.  "There's still a donut shop that looks just like that in West Springfield, Massachusetts," he said.  "Without the vintage cars parked in front, of course!"

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Moon over Copley Square

Waiting for the 504 bus after attending  the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair (which, by the way, has its final day today at the Hynes Convention Center on Boylston Street in Copley Square and is highly worthwhile),  Marash Girl looked up. [Photos by Marash Girl]

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A look back at the Boston Book Festival . . . And at RH, books readied to be burned

Copley Square & Trinity Church on the second day of the Boston Book Festival ( October 17-19, 2013).
 On the steps of the Boston Public Library:  Bob Oakes of WBUR, and a presenter at the Boston Book Festival,  greets Marash Girl

Bob Oakes of WBUR with his wife at the entrance to the Boston Public Library

Shahan Mufti autographs his first book, THE FAITHFUL SCRIBE, after his presentation at the Boston Book Festival.

Small publishers' stalls were arrayed around Copley Square, providing hope for the yet unpublished writer!

An old timer rests in front of one of the publisher's stalls.

AND ACROSS BOYLSTON STREET, AT RH,  the contemporary coffee table book?  Tear off the covers and the spine, leaving the title page showing, and tying them up with brown twine -- 

What's that?  Looks like kindling to me!  But on closer look . . . 
Books with covers and spines removed, rolled up
and readied for . . . 

What happened to these books?  Are they fodder for the fire?

Was this some kind of a joke?  What interior designer came up with the idea of using books for kindling?

Will Wikipedia have to add RH's contemporary decor to its list of book-burning incidents?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Islamicized Armenians?

Marash Girl was interested to read the following in the Armenian Weekly:  "In early November, the Hrant Dink Foundation held a conference on “Islamicized Armenians” at the Istanbul Bosphorus University, breaking one more taboo in Turkey. Islamicized Armenians were hitherto a hidden reality, a secret known by many, but which couldn’t be revealed to anyone, whispered behind closed doors but filed in government intelligence offices, and it finally broke free into the public."  The article went on to say that both oral histories and academic papers were used during the discussion.

Marash Girl was particularly interested because, in the 1970's, she and her team of interviewers, under the auspices of the Armenian Library and Museum of America, had taped interviews of over 100 survivors of the Armenian Genocide.  If there ever was any discussion of Islamisization or marriage to a Muslim, the tape had to be turned off, and the admission to the interviewer remain unidentified.

To this day, Marash Girl remembers turning off the tape recorder to hear the tears and shame with which an Armenian Christian woman admitted that her sister had, in order to save her life and the life of her loved ones, married a Turk and had a family.

Marash Girl's father Peter used to relate the fact that if there was ever  love and marriage between a Turk and an Armenian, the couple would never survive . . . they would be murdered in their bed on their wedding night.  By whom? Marash Girl asked.  By the Turks or the Armenians?  Marash Girl's father did not know the answer, although he implied -- or did he actually state -- that it could come from either side.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Peter and Jennie Bilezikian, Calvin Coolidge, Ronald Reagan, John Travolta and Marash Girl

Standing in the family living room and surveying Claflin Park, the cliffs and the meadow directly across the street from the family home, Peter of Marash would say, "I wouldn't go across the street to see the President of the United States."  His wife, Jennie (her ancestors from Aintep) would reply, "I would!"  Of course, Peter didn't have to go across the street to shake the hands of the President of the United States.  Calvin Coolidge, the then President of the United States, and gone across the country and shaken hands with 12 year old Peter at a service in Peter's congregational church in Brighton. (See It was with that philosophical mix that Marash Girl approached the world.  So when she had the opportunity to shake hands with President Ronald Reagan at a fundraiser in Washington, DC, she was thinking, "I wouldn't go across the room to shake hands with the President of the United States!"  That is, until she remembered her mother's response: "I would!"  And so for her mother, Marash Girl walked across the room, and reached her hand over the crowds towards the outstretched hand of Ronald Reagan, the then President of the United States.  He reached over the crowds, grasped Marash Girl's hand, looked in her eyes, and for less than one second, made Marash Girl feel as if she was the only person in the room, standing there, clasping hands with the President of the United States.

And so it was that many years later, not in Washington, DC, but in Nonantum, Newton, Massachusetts, that Marash Girl had the courage to call out to John Travolta, and John Travolta dutifully walked over to Marash Girl, put his arm around her, and posed for the photographer with Marash Girl.  (See yesterday's blog post.) But John Travolta, kind as he was, was not "there" with Marash Girl; unlike Ronald Reagan, John Travolta was already on stage, waiting to deliver his next lines. . . But then John Travolta was not attending his own fund raiser, nor is he President of the United States . . . yet!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

John Travolta in movie shoot for THE FORGER: Newton, Massachusetts, Marash Girl's neighborhood!

"This work is all about Hurry up, Hurry up, wait!" commented one of the crew.

Commonplace in Pasadena, California, this film shoot was a rarity for Newton residents as it took place in a house on Churchill Street between Crafts and Broadway Streets in Nonantum, a village of Newton, Massachusetts. Earlier in the week, the crew had filmed at the MFA (see Boston Globe for coverage of that shoot).  Joking around as she is wont to do, Marash Girl asked the crew if they were serving coffee.  Oh, no! they answered.  It might be poisoned! They apparently thought that Marash Girl was asking if the neighborhood was serving them coffee . . . but what did they have to fear? Why would anyone in Newton, Massacnusetts, want to poison a filming crew which included John Travolta, or any other movie star, for that matter?

Groupie from neighborhood waits in hopes of catching a glimpse of John Travolta!

"I'm Dr. Phil," this man announced facetiously to the groupie!
"Take my picture!"

John Travolta's trailer protected by muscle and Newton's finest.

Travolta's trailer on right parked on street in front of Newton home.

Filming took place inside the house on Churchill Street after darkness settled in.

Day Junior High School boys and Groupie watch in hopes that 
Travolta will emerge from the house.
Neighborhood groupie, laughing out loud, reports to Marash Girl,
"This is the first time a movie star has ever put his arm around me!" [Photo Credit: M. Aytekin]
Newton policeman on detail guards the house in which the filming is being done.  The luck of the draw, he said.  The junior high school boys kept asking him what he would do if they walked up the stairs of the house where the shoot was taking place.  "Nothing," he said.  "I don't have to; there's security right inside that door!"
Although John Travolta did not talk to the Globe reporter when on the set at the MFA, he did hug the woman who asked him for a photo yesterday in Nonantum; he actually posed for the camera with the one admirer who had had the fortitude to wait, and the voice loud enough to call to him as he left his trailer to walk to the shoot.  Apparently the Newton policeman guarding Travolta's trailer had forced the woman to keep her distance, but the woman had had the courage to call to Travolta as he emerged from his hideaway, and Travolta had had the kindness to grant that long awaited photo.  (See above.)  The filming took place several blocks from Marash Girl's alma mater, Frank Ashley Day Junior High School!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Happy Birthday To You from all of us AND all of the wait staff at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum!

The first snow of the season was falling this morning (if you look hard , you can see tiny white spots which are not a dirty camera lens, but real snow), snow appearing, no doubt, to celebrate the birthday of Marash Girl's first child!

To have a real opera singer sing happy birthday to you in the crowded restaurant of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum -- that tops all!
Trinidadian born tenor, Roland Mills, just returning from a performance in New York City, stops all conversation in the lunchroom of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum as he sings his operatic versions of
 Happy Birthday to the Birthday Girl!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Advice on Wholistic Medicine at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston this afternoon, Marash Girl had the opportunity to reminisce with one of the guards about the room in which they were standing -- the room in which, many years ago, she had taken her little girls to listen to early music concerts, walking them to the front of the room (much to the consternation of the ushers who feared, of course that 2 and a half and 4 year old would disrupt the concert -- Marash Girl had to assure the ushers (or was it usher the assurers?) that her daughters were perfect and would be too busy watching and listening to create any havoc whatsoever . . .  of course Marash Girl was right! ] The little girls . . . Marash Girl's little girls . . . were able to hear the early music  and see the early music instruments and musicians creating the music --  all without craning their necks -- How the conversation went from there to wholistic medicine is unclear, but it did . . . and Marash Girl found herself talking to the guard about her father's memory of healing infected wounds by placing moldy bread on the open wound.  (See  It was than that the young guard, a musician himself and a believer in wholistic medicine added to Marash Girl's store of knowledge for healing infected wounds.  He instructed, "You can use coffee grounds, too . . . or place maggots into the wound!"  Marash Girl wondered what her father Peter would have to say about that!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gathering the Mint

Although Marash Girl has yet been able to get her mint to grow wild, she has, thanks to Helene, been able to grow a tamer variety of mint in a big old galvanized tub right outside her kitchen door -- her kitchen garden, as it were.  Gathering that mint this year before the frost hit brought to mind the mint that grew rampant on the hillside at her childhood home, the hot anoukh that her mother prepared whenever anyone in the family fell ill, and what she (Marash Girl) found on the day that her father passed away . . . there arranged over the surface of the bed in the guest bedroom was his last harvest of mint, carefully spread out to dry on opened brown paper grocery bags, enough mint to last, as it turned out, his lifetime.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hail the Sun Shower!

How often is it in our adult lives that we experience a natural phenomenon that we have never before experienced?

In September, Marash Girl wrote about the Sun Shower and the Armenians
but yesterday afternoon she experienced something she had never before heard of, much less experienced . . . she walked home through a sun shower of hail . . . hail pelting down around her while the sun continued to shine brightly above . . .  
Have any of you, dear readers, ever walked through a sun shower of hail?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Overheard during a wake

Visitor attempting to comfort the grieving:  
Aren't you glad that you're sad?  Just think what it would mean if you were happy?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New to you . . .

Checking out at the local church thrift shop yesterday, Marash Girl, carrying her winter jacket over her arm and two small carved marble lions in her hand, asked how much she owed . . . The woman at the register said, "That will be $2 for the lions and $2 for the jacket."  Whoops -- a message from above?  Perhaps it's time that Marash Girl start shopping for a new winter jacket . . .

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

By design?

We have two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and one mouth.  What should we understand from that?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thinking about taking pictures

Thinking about taking pictures at the site of the tornado of June 1, 2011 . . .

The victim becomes the witness, thus removing herself from the pain of the devastation as she pictures the disaster that has befallen. . . or does picturing the disaster double that pain . . .

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Remembering My Friend, Joan Scully Metz

Joan . . . we miss you . . . ԱՍՏՎԱծ ՀՈԳԻՆ ԼՈՒՍԱՎՈՐԵ
                                                                                                                 Photo by Marash Girl
Bullough's Pond, Newtonville, yesterday,  the day Joan left this earth for a better place.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pudd, Jack, Casablanca, Marash and Halloween

As Halloween unveiled itself, Marash Girl remembered with delight joining Pudd and Jack and the kids trick-or-treating . . . Pudd, dressed in her tuxedo attire following  the trail of the costumed neighborhood kids following Jack dressed in his Arab garb (a la Casablanca) with Haroutioun Emi's fez upon his head . . .   A special treat for Marash Girl who had never been allowed to go trick or treating, as her father saw it as "begging".  Even when he was starving in Marash,  he often recounted, his mother would never allow her children to go into the soup line that the missionaries had set up  . . .   better to starve than to beg, she would say, as she went to work daily for her loaf of bread at the missionary hospital in Marash, and came home to make soup from whatever scraps she could garner, taking one spoon and announcing to her kids, "I'm full . . . you children go ahead and eat. . . "