Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Massachusetts Local History

Frank Sargent, running for the Governorship of Massachusetts, used to say, "Massachusetts is the only place where state employees, going home after work on a Wednesday, say, 'Have a good weekend!'"

Monday, April 28, 2014

Soft as a grape?

Since when are grapes soft?  Only when they're old and past the pale, or gone through a frost.  Is that what that expression means?  A person who's gone through the frost (as it were) and come out the worse for wear? Wondering about the expression, Marash Girl checked the internet and found no reference to the origin of the expression . . . Is it only used in Boston? In Massachusetts?  In New England?  Someone help me out here . . .

To go one step further with this thought, whatever do you do with soft grapes?  You could make grape jelly or grape jam because when grapes are soft, they're the sweetest. . . Or quicker and easier is  to toss them in the freezer and pop them into your mouth whenever you want a tiny popsicle (this, of course works best in summer, but is still fun in mid-winter.)

Frozen grapes: the ultimate in recycling!  (After soup, of course, but Marash Girl has never tried to use soft grapes in soup.)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Summer is coming (really?) . . . and we all scream for ice cream!

Who wrote the above ad?  Someone in their 60's or 70's?  Remembering the ice cream truck  slowly dinging its way down Lowell Avenue . . . and all the kids \ running to the front of the house, as they chanted, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!"  . . . Was the ice cream artificially flavored in those days, as, Marash Girl is guessing, the flavors in Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks' coffee are today? Are we, really, all screaming for artificial ice cream flavors?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wild women in Monson, Massachusetts

Driving along Palmer Road in Monson, Massachusetts, Marash Girl spotted the following bumper sticker on the back of a Honda  . . . 

                    Marash Boy, upon spotting the very same bumper sticker (see above), commented,
                            "That's right! Wild women don't GET the blues! They CAUSE the blues!"

"Don't learn the hard way!"

Having had to park (and not so happily) in a downtown Boston parking building . . . one of the most expensive that Marash Girl can remember, she was surprised to see the above warning posted prominently in every corner of every level; you'd think the parking fee would guarantee a certain amount of security!

Be that as it may, the sign reminded Marash Girl of the sign she saw posted many years ago as she entered the elevator that would take her to the top of the Eiffel Tower.  The sign was in French, of course, but Marash Girl still remembers its import:  Beware of the pickpockets!  She was so surprised!  In that beautiful city there were pickpockets?

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Sure Sign of Spring!

              A sure sign that Spring has arrived on Newtonville Avenue!                        Photo by Marash Girl

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Today is the 99th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. On April 24, 2005, Peter Bilezikian, Survivor of the Armenian Genocide, Remembered

Armenians remember the horror        reprinted from
Today is the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, the mass killings and deportations by Ottoman Turks that led to the deaths of as many as 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. Few survivors of those attacks -- which the Turkish government says were part of a civil conflict, not a genocide -- remain. Some settled here in Massachusetts, where Armenian-Americans now number about 30,000. In the excerpt below, Peter Bilezikian, 92, Newton (native of Marash), shares some of his memories

Oil painting of Peter Bilezikian on his 90th birthday painted by his friend Hagop

''The dream I used to have, a Turk would cut my ears off, cut my nose, pull my teeth, gouge my eye out.'
''All I remember is, we were hungry, and I thought that was a normal thing. . . . There were so many people dying. . . . I remember children dying with the big stomachs . . . dropping dead right in the middle of the street. And a cart would come along, pick them up as if they were nothing, and throw them up on the cart and keep going. There'd be a big hole somewhere, they'd just dump it in there. During the 1919 war, when the . . . Turks rebelled against the French . . . there was a war in the city. We were in one place and it was fenced. A lady was baking bread. I was hungry and I went over there and asked for a piece of bread. She wouldn't give it to me: 'This is for my children. If I give it to you, then my children won't have any.' So I waited, I was hoping she would take her eyes off the bread, I could steal. She never took her eyes off it, but they were shooting from a minaret . . . I had a cowlick, like an Irish boy, you know . . . [the bullet] singed my hair and hit her between the eyes. She died. I grabbed all the bread that she had baked, ran under a stairway and ate it all up. I didn't care what anybody [thought]. It wasn't a nice thing to do, looking back. Poor woman died, and do you know, I never thought anything of her dying? These are all dreams to me today. When I came to this country I lived in Newtonville. At night I used to find myself under the bed in a cold sweat. The dream I used to have was, a Turk would cut my ears off, cut my nose, pull my teeth, gouge my eye out. I would wake up all wet. . . . I never had these dreams in the old country."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The tint was too dark!

Galen Street, Watertown Police Car with lights whirring pulled to the side of the road, policeman going back and forth between his car and the stopped car.  Curious. Wondering why he stopped them, as they appeared to be husband and wife . . . but pay no attention and on to your duties . . . on to the post office.

Back from the post office, 15 minutes later.  Policeman crawling into the front seat of the stopped car,  (were the folks still in there?) crawling into the back seat, rummaging through the junked trunk.  Was this a silent comedy from the 1920's waiting to be filmed?  But no.

There, by the side of the road, sitting and shivering on the front steps of the little brick row house opposite the parked police car were a man and a very pregnant woman.  What's going on? Marash Girl asked them, thinking they were neighbors watching the drama. But no, it was their drama. We were on our way to the hospital when the policeman pulled us over.  They're towing our car.  Why? Because our tint is too dark.  Yours or the car's.  The car windows are tinted too dark, the policeman said, though it could be us as well, I guess!

And I'm having contractions, she said; I have to get to the hospital.  Have you told the policeman?  Yes, but it doesn't make any difference.  He only cares about towing our car.  Have you called anybody?  Yes.  Do you know how to breathe?  Yes.  Are you having a boy or a girl?  Boy. Name? Xavier. I'll stay with you until your friend comes, just in case.


If it were a Newton policeman, Marash Girl would have asked for his name and taken his badge #, but it was a Watertown cop, so Marash Girl just stayed with the folks until their ride came, just in case!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On gardening . . .


An elderly woman speaks loudly to her elderly neighbor who has started a perennial flower garden in the front yard: "Isn't it a little late to be starting a perennial flower garden?"

Monday, April 21, 2014

Still thinking about Easter . . .

Marash Girl remembers the first Armenian hymn she ever learned as a child, (perhaps the only one?)
taught her when she was very young by her Uncle Vartan (Rev. Vartan Bilezikian).  Here it is . . .

Allelujah, allelujah; hisous noren bidi ka, bidi ka . . .
ալելւոյայ, ալելւոյայ: Հիսուս նօռեն պիտի զա, պիտի զա
Allelujah, allelujah; hisous noren bidi ka.
ալելւոյայ, ալելւոյայ: Հիսուս նօռեն պիտի զա:

It came in handy yesterday when the priest at St. Gregory's Armenian Apostolic Church in Springfield, Massachusetts, (the church in which Marash Boy and Marash Girl were married), asked the congregation what Easter meant to them!  Marash Girl could answer, Հիսուս նօռեն պիտի զա:


Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Jesus is coming, is coming again!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!  Jesus is coming again!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Sitting at her desk listing sheet music on her database, Marash Girl was distracted.  What should she post for Easter?  She lifted the piece of sheet music she had been working on  -- "The Violets Grievance" from a poem by John Derwent -- after all it WAS Good Friday -- and there, under "The Violets Grievance" was the answer . . .  IS the answer!

                    Քրիստոս հարեաւ ի  մեռելոց:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Haven't gathered your onion skins yet?

 If the Armenians in your neighborhood have gathered all of the onion skins to be had at your local market, (see, never fear!  There are other possibilities which Marash Girl takes the liberty of copying below.  She has not tried these methods, as she practices the Armenian tradition of using brown onion skins when dying Easter eggs naturally, but here are some other options -- courtesy of Whole Foods.

Red = Beets, paprika, rose hips

Yellow = Yellow onion skins, 1/4 tsp. turmeric, chamomile, sage

Orange = 3/4 cup yellow ingredients (above) plus 1/4 cup beets

Green - Spinach, kale, parsley, carrot tops

Khaki Green = Red Onion Skins

Brown = Tea, Juniper Berries

Blue = Blueberries, red cabbage (note -- allow dye to cool for this color)

Light Purple = Blackberries, Concord or red grapes (note - simmer for full hour)

According to the directions whole foods printed up, this is what you should do:

Prepare the Eggs by boiling white eggs (or brown for making deep golden or dark brown hues) with 1 tbsp white vinegar in the water and let cool to room temperature.

Pick your color from the chart above and prepare the dye:
1. chop or crush the dye ingredients correlating to your desired egg color.
2. Place dye ingredients in a saucepan with 2 cups water.
3. Simmer for 5 minutes or up to an hour until water is deeply colored.
4. Strain sediment and add eggs to dye while dye is still hot.
5. Leave eggs in dye until they reach the desired color (which will not necessarily match the color of the ingredients used to dye the eggs -- usually the eggs are far lighter.)

Oh, and another hint if you're coloring eggs with onion skins -- add a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of oil, and a teaspoon of vinegar to the water, and make sure your water and your eggs are both at room temperature before beginning to boil!

It should be here noted that one year, early in their marriage, Marash Girl and Marash Boy, while living in Smiths Ferry, Massachusetts, travelled to nearby Northampton to gather herbs, not really knowing how to color eggs except with onion skins.  Randomly selecting various dried herbs, Marash Girl and Marash Boy created the most beautiful array of subtly colored eggs for Easter. . . so don't feel you have to follow the above suggestions (as Medzmama used to say, recipes were not made in heaven) . . . go ahead and experiment!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Practicing your Easter greetings?

Earlier this week, visiting an old friend who was now with caregivers, (the caregivers having recently arrived from Armenia,) Marash Girl was greeted by the caregivers with the words, 

Քրիստոս ծնաւ եւ յայտնեցաւ . . . Օրհնեալ է յայտնութիւնը Քրիստոսի:

(which transliterates, "Krisdos dznav yev haydnetsav . . . Orhnyal eh haydnoutioun Krisdosi" and translates  Christ is born and is revealed to us  . . . blessed is the revelation of Christ).  Marash Girl could barely restrain a smile as she recalled her childhood . . . 

Marash Girl had been greeted with the greeting that Armenians use at Christmas on January 6, rather than the greeting reserved for Easter which Marash Girl used when she "returned" the blessing as follows:  

The Greeting:

Քրիստոս հարեաւ ի  մեռելոց:           
Krisdos haryav ee merelotz!   
(Christ has risen and conquered death.)

The Response:

Օրհնեալ է  Հարություն Քրիստոսի:
Orhnyal e haroutioun Krisdosi!   
(Blessed is the resurrection of Christ!)

So now you know and won't make that error yourselves, right?  Better practice before Easter arrives!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Heading for New York City on the Bolt Bus

Having stopped the bus for a "coffee and whatever" break halfway between Boston and New York City, the bus driver had his coffee, reboarded the bus, and, before taking off, announced with a grin, "If you're missing, raise your hand!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yesterday's Tribute to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings

The above sign reads, "If you're gonna use a boat to escape, make sure it's in WATER, not in WATERTOWN!  
Photo by Marash Girl
Lightening the mood of yesterday's tribute to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the above sign is still affixed to the Watertown, Massachusetts, Post Office wall, less than a mile away from where the perpetrator of the marathon bombing was apprehended as he hid in a boat in the back yard of a house on Franklin Street, less than a half mile from the Charles River; the sign has been on the wall of the post office since  April of 2013.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wild Turkeys At Home - Newtonville Avenue, Newton, Massachusetts

The wild turkeys and the tamed residents of Newtonville Avenue have learned to share their turf.  The  fellow backing out of his driveway paid no attention whatsoever to the wild turkey surveying the woods to the north of his home.  "Oh, we've learned to live with them in peace," he said when Marash Girl asked him if he had noticed that he had a visitor.  And the wild turkey, for that matter, paid no heed to Marash Girl as she approached to take his (her?) photograph!                   Photo by Marash Girl

Monday, April 14, 2014


While throughout the front yards of Newton Corner, the snowdrops and crocus proclaim that Spring has indeed sprung, Marash Boy called to Marash Girl to witness the blooming blue that had burst forth,  covering the back yard of their Newton Corner home.

 Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)  has conquered its blanket of brown announcing,  
                                                                 "Spring is here!  Rejoice!"             Photo by Marash Girl                                                                                    

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday, 2014

Photo by Marash Girl
The heavy rains kept the congregation of Grace Episcopal Church from their yearly  procession through Farlow Park on Palm Sunday; instead, waving their palms in celebration of this day, the worshippers followed the choir out through the church doors, and back into the church and the sanctuary, singing God's praises.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

An Attractive Nuisance in Newton Corner

Taking a walk on a beautiful spring day, Marash Girl walked through her neighborhood,  and along the street that runs between the local elementary school and its playground --- a beautiful day with all the kids playing at recess . . .

Just past the school, to the right of the playground, was a long wire noose hanging from the poles supporting electricity and telephone wires.  Taken aback that such an attractive nuisance would be allowed to hang loose, much less hang loose between a playground and an elementary school, Marash Girl approached a man who was standing guard over 2nd or 3rd grade children, the children playing on the cement  apron outside of the school.  Do you know about the wire? she asked him. Yes.  It's been there for a while.  Has anyone reported it? she asked.  Don't know.  She continued.  . . Where is the school office . . . I'll report it.  Over there but the doors are locked. You can't get in.  You can call them.  She continued by asking, What is the phone #?  I don't know. Do you work here? Yes. Are you a teacher?  Silence. What is your name? Silence. Could you call about this? Silence.  Marash Girl could not find the phone # on her cell phone, so Marash Girl followed another teacher with two young children into the school . . . one of the children directed her to the office.

At the office: Oh.  We already called the police about that.  When?  Weeks ago.  But the loose wire noose is still hanging.  You can call if you want.  From here?  Well . . . I'll call from here.

Marash Girl received no thank you. No greeting.  Cold. Unwelcoming.  She shivered.

Police called, item reported; police sent a detail immediately and corrected the problem.  No more hanging wire noose, thanks to the speedy response of the Newton Police Department.  At least they cared!

Of concern, however, is that Marash Girl had been treated as an intruder in her own neighborhood. The silent male teacher had called the school office reporting that she had entered the school, but not reporting concern about the hanging wire noose. 

Marash Girl left the school shaking . . . shaking for the lack of concern, shaking for the lack of respect, shaking for being made to feel an intruder (though her children had attended that very school . . . though she's been an active member of that community for years  --  perhaps there lies the rub), and shaking most of all for the lack of caring about the disaster that the hanging wire "noose" could have caused.

If we don't care about our own neighborhoods, who will care?

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Honey Bee Is Back in Newton Corner, Massachusetts!

The First Honey Bee of the Season!                              Photo by Marash Girl

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Touch Your Plants!

As spring approaches in New England (no, March 21st is definitely NOT the first day of spring around here, ground covered with snow in March), tiny green shoots dare to make their presence known above the nearly frozen earth, through their blanket of mulch (be it leaves or coffee grounds or the dried plant leavings from the year before), and all who have indoor plants wait with longing to be able to expose them to the open air, the direct warmth of the sun,  the rustling of their leaves as the wind makes its way across, the gentleness or not so gentleness of raindrops . . .  What all of this brings to mind is the need to touch your indoor plants while they are indoors . . . touch that they would naturally feel out of doors -- from the rain, from the wind, from the movement of other plants, from insects, bees, butterflies, from animals wandering by (be they wild coyotes or household cats) . . . And so Marash Girl begs you to consider touching your plants, ruffling their leaves . . . . plants need to be touched as do we all.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

We mourn the passing of Father Raphael Andonian, Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church, Belmont, Mass.

Photo by Marash Girl

Father Raphael Andonian, Pastor Priest of Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church (center) enjoying his daily visit to the Armenian Starbucks in Watertown, Massachusetts, with  Charles Mosesian (right) and other members of the Watertown Armenian community.   This photo was taken on March 26, 2007; Father Raphael passed away on Sunday, April 6, 2014. We mourn his passing.         

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fear not!

One of Marash Girl's favorite Bible quotations of Jesus:  "Fear not for I am with thee!"

Nonetheless, there are those around us who fear . . .

During a Sunday morning walk with Marash Boy around Bullough's Pond, Marash Girl, commenting on such folks, quoted Karoun (of Karoun Yoga fame): "You attract what you fear!"

Marash Boy, without pause, quipped, "I thought that applied only to cats!"  (See

Monday, April 7, 2014

Getting over it!

Conversation overheard at Trader Joe's

Armenian-American Woman:  I attended a concert of early Turkish music this week!

Irish-American Woman:  And I've begun using my English bone china for the first time!

Armenian-American:  I hope the china doesn't have any lead in it!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Love salt? Love sugar? Doctor says, "No, no"?

Want to lower your salt intake, but still love salt?  Want to lower your sugar intake but still love sugar?

Because the cooking process causes the sweet or salty tastes to fade, put less salt/sugar (or none) before and during the cooking process and add salt/sugar -- (the less refined the salt or sugar, the less you'll need to use) at end.

1/4 cup of coarse baker's sugar on top of a cake will add far more sweet pleasure to the palate than a cup of sugar in the batter!  As for salt . . . just think about that coarse salt on the surface of a pretzel!

Experiment and see what works for you!  But do experiment.  You'll be surprised at the results.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


On Friday afternoon, April 4, 2014, while the Red Sox played their opening game a few blocks away at Fenway Park, over 100 folks from the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts and the Armenian Youth Federation--Greater Boston and Providence Chapters-- demonstrated in front of the Federal Building in Boston, Massachusetts,  insisting that  the United States State Department end its "hypocrisy which fails to condemn the Al-Qaeda attack on the Armenian city of Kessab, Syria, and covers up Turkey's complicity in the invasion and occupation."  Although they smiled for the camera, they were distraught!  The message was loud and clear:  SAVE KESSAB!

While chanting slogans calling for the United States government to step in and help the now homeless Kessabtsis, the demonstrators handed out flyers which stated the following:

"We demand that the U.S. Government speak
clearly and unambiguously in calling on Turkey
to cease its support for this invasion and pressure
foreign extremists to end their occupation of

"We call on the Senate and House Intelligence
committees to launch an investigation into
Turkey's role in the attacks.

"We demand international pressure on Turkey
and the extremist rebel groups to withdraw from
Kessab, Syria, so that Armenian civilians can return home."

Photos by Marash Girl 
For more on Kessab, see

Friday, April 4, 2014

Grandma Jennie, Marash Boy and Hot Dogs!

One day, many years before Marash Boy and Marash Girl were an item, Marash Boy arrived unannounced at Marash Girl's family home in Newtonville, Massachusetts.  Marash Girl's mom, Jennie, who had an Armenian meal (Aintab style) ready to put on the table at any time of any day or night, on that particular day, announced that all she had was hot dogs!  As it turned out, because Marash Boy's mom always prepared wonderful Armenian meals (Marash style) . . . never hot dogs . . . Marash Boy's favorite food was. . . you guessed it. . . hot dogs!  And, as they say, the rest is history!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Be careful when you open your trash barrels

There may be nesting pregnant raccoons lurking inside!

Even the gates of gated communities can't keep the critters out!

How to prevent such a disaster? Pouring a bit of ammonia into the bottom of your barrel will keep the animals away!  Moth balls will work too, but unfortunately, they'll get thrown out with the trash.

Marash Girl thanks Irish Monkey for the tip!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Too much of a good thing

Too much of a good thing goes for cooking as well as for anything else.  Recently Niña reported spoiling her 3 hour long effort preparing Cajun Shrimp by over spicing it!  And Marash Girl spoiled her chicken soup by over lemoning it .(The lemons were shriveled and thus more acidic, more concentrated.)  A little goes a long way with spices, sweeteners, and sourers (is there such a word?)!  As with cooking, so with life.  Taste test as you go!  It's fun, and it works!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dün gece esyrim içinde . . . Last Night I dreamt of . . . Turkish Songs of Protest

"Last night I dreamt . . ." said Marash Girl the next morning . . .  the morning after the concert of "Turkish Protest Songs" presented in Gasson Hall at Boston College  . . . "Or I thought I was dreaming . . . I understood the accent, the pronunciation, most of the words . . . It was like going back in time, to when my grandmothers would be talking to me . . . my Armenian grandmothers -- Yepros from Marash, Yester from Aintab."

From the back of the room came a haunting chant, an ancient melody - -  a beautiful young woman walking down the center aisle, singing a devotional song of the Bektaşi dervishes.

The Dunya Ensemble sings of a deceitful world (Yalan Dunya) --  authority and myth -- sex, religion and tradition --  wine and music.

Here are the lyrics to a particularly amusing piece -- Bektaşi Fıkrası. [A fıkra is a story with a moral, often comic.  It offers the opportunity for satire and is a favorite Bektaşi form]

"Dostlarının baskılaruna dayanamayan Baba Erenler, camiye gitmiş, hocanın vaazıni dinliyordu.  Hoca, içkinin kötülüğünü anlaimak için aklına ne geliyorsa söyüyordu.  Bir ara şöyle dedi:  "Bir eşeğin önüne, bir kova su ile bir kova şarap koysanız, hangisin içer?  Elbette ki su içer.  Peki eşek niçin şarabı içmez?"  Bektaşi dayanamayiıp seslendi:  "Neden olacak . . . eşekliğinden . . . "

"Pressured by his friends, a Bektaşi Master had reluctantly gone to a mosque and was listening to the sermon.  The imam was going on and on about how bad it was to consume alcohol.  At one point he said, "If you put a bucket of water and a bucket of wine in front of a donkey, which one will it drink? Of course, the water.  Well, why won't the donkey drink the wine?"  The Bektaşi couldn't resist any longer and said:  "Why, because he is an eshek . . .  էշ… in plain English, a jackass!"

The Dünya Ensemble -- Beth Bahia Cohen (Yayli bowed tanbur /violin), Borcu Güleç (voice), Robert Labaree (çeng), George Lernis (percussion), Mehmet Ali Sanhkol (voice, oud, neg, saz) -- carried the audience back in time and space -- a journey never to be forgotten.