Sunday, August 31, 2014

Surprise on Payson Road, Belmont, Massachusetts


Yesterday, parking along Payson Road in Belmont, Massachusetts, Marash Girl wondered where, in actuality, she was when she looked up and saw these Native American plaques  posted on  the telephone pole at the side of the road.   Asking a neighbor what they were and why they were there, the neighbor said that the plaques were there for as long as she had been there, and that perhaps her neighbor was spiritual. . . Marash Girl never learned the real story behind the plaques on the telephone pole, but perhaps you, dear reader, know. . .

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Eat your vegetables!

                         192 Main Street, Sharon Springs, New York 
                           (20-30 miles from Cooperstown, New York) 
                                                           Photo compliments of Peter Kastner

Friday, August 29, 2014

You can always tell . . .

One day Arax decided to visit her cousin Jack  at his store. (Jack was born in Marash, arrived in the USA via Aleppo, fleeing the genocide.) When Arax arrived, Jack was sweeping the floor.  He stopped sweeping, looked up at her, and grinning, said, "You know, you can always tell who the owner is; he's the one with the broom in his hand."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Beware the hot pepper!

At a farm in Granby, Massachusetts, Marash Girl assisted her daughter in gathering vegetables, and this week hot peppers were in abundance!  And were they beautiful.  Deep red and deep green -- so the ladies gathered 2 quarts -- one to keep and one to give away.  Today Marash Girl can barely type these words as her hands are burning from processing those peppers!

Fearless, (and clueless, I might add), Marash Girl had washed those beautiful little peppers in cold water, and  (wearing glasses, luckily) cut those peppers in half, discarding the seeds, readying the peppers for chopping and freezing.  Little did she know that the capsaicin,the chemical in those hot peppers, could float through the air and attack the skin on her face!  Now, almost 18 hours later, her hands still burn -- but then those hands had, after all, touched the peppers, and her face still burns from the capsaicin which floated through the air and attacked the skin on her face with no help from her hands.

Cold water, soap, nothing has helped to stop the burning.

Any suggestions?

Marash Girl's suggestion is that we stay away from those beautiful little peppers unless we have a penchant for burning!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink!

"Wait! Let me give you bottled water to use to brush your teeth!" Those were the words that alerted Marash Girl to the problem with the drinking water in Gloucester, Massachusetts . . . . But she didn't really believe that beautiful Gloucester would have such a problem. . . Her friend continued: "My plumber told me that there has been a serious problem with the water here since they put in the new water pipes in Gloucester -- a chemical from the lining of the pipes seeps into the water -- it's carcinogenic!  And if my plumber told me, it must be true!  What plumbers are so picky about water?"  Well, Marash Girl didn't really believe her friend . . . she figured that her friend was over-reacting to a problem that possibly existed in the past but no longer . . . she didn't believe her until they went out to dinner that night and the waitress greeted them by assuring them that the owner of the restaurant had installed a very expensive water filter to use for any and all of the tap water used in the restaurant . . . for washing, for cooking, for drinking!  But can you really filter out a chemical that is carcinogenic? Marash Girl wondered. And why would anyone buy a house in Gloucester knowing about the water problem?  Obviously, because they didn't know about the water problem . . . Oh, dear . . . .

Fast forward two days . . .  Marash Girl and Marash Boy stopped at Harvard Community Health in Wellesley Hills and there were signs everywhere stating "Per order of the Town of Wellesley, do not use the public water supply" and "Please do not drink from public water supply until further notice!"
Please do not drink from public water supply until further notice!

"Please use Purell only for hand washing until further notice!

What is going on?  And how can a health facility function only on Purell?  Without considering further, Marash Boy and Marash Girl drove on to Wellesley Hills to visit their favorite bakery for a breakfast coffee and pastry.  Marash Girl asked for decaf coffee and was told that the establishment was not making decaf coffee because of the limitation on bottled water, as the public water supply in Wellesley was no longer safe to ingest.  Oh, no! Again?

And just to confirm what the staff had told her, up drove a truck labeled "Brookline Ice & Coal" (were we going back in time, or was it Marash Girl's imagination?), the driver pushing a hand cart of ice to be used by the restaurant which could no longer use ice made with Wellesley water.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Marash Red Pepper

For years, Marash Girl has been recommending Aintep Red Pepper to be used in the traditional Armenian recipes that she has recorded in this blog, and more recently Aleppo Red Pepper, as Aintep red pepper was no longer available.  Perhaps because of the troubles in Aleppo, Aleppo red pepper is no longer available, because it was only recently that she found that her favorite Armenian store  is now selling Marash Red Pepper in Watertown . . . yes, red pepper all the way from Marash, the ancient homeland of her father's family!  Can you believe it?

(Tip to those of you who wish to use this marvelous spice in your Armenian cooking: Massis Bakery is online and ships around the country !)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Artist's Work or Artists Work: Bear Skin Neck, Rockport, Massachusetts

                                 Artist's Work, or Artists Work: Bear Skin Neck, Rockport, Massachusetts             Photo by Marash Girl

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

THE GIVING TREE, Armenian Style

Family Day at Camp Haiastan brought Marash Girl and Marash Boy to Franklin, Massachusetts, to visit with their two grandchildren.  The visit began with one of the campers retelling an Armenian folk tale that Marash Girl had never heard.  

THE GIVING TREE, an ancient Armenian folk tale

Once there was a poor man who went into the forest looking for a tree to cut down so that he could chop it into pieces and sell the wood in the marketplace in order to feed his family.

Finding the largest tree he had ever seen, he began to chop it down.  The tree cried out, why are you hurting me?  The poor man answered, because I must sell your wood in the market place in order to feed my family.  The tree answered, I will give you a magic table so that you will always have food to feed your family.  Just do not chop me down.

The tree gave the poor woodsman a table that would always have food on it, and the woodsman went away happy.  But one day the woodsman was telling a rich neighbor about his table, and the rich neighbor offered the woodsman many pieces of gold for the table.  The woodsman looked at the gold, looked at the table, looked at the gold, and agreed to sell the table to his neighbor.  But after a year, there was no gold left, and the woodsman had to return to chopping wood in order to feed his family. He found the the largest tree he had ever seen, the same tree that had given him the table, and he started to chop it down.  The tree cried out, why are you hurting me?  The poor man answered, because I must sell your wood in the market place in order to feed my family. The tree asked, what happened to the magic table I gave you? The poor man answered, I sold it for gold, and now I have no more gold.

The tree said to the poor man, I will give you a donkey.  How will that donkey help me feed my family? asked the poor man.   Just tell the donkey to bray, and when he does, he will bray gold coins. You will never want again.  But one day the woodsman was telling another rich neighbor about his donkey, and that rich neighbor offered to buy the donkey for more pieces of gold than the woodsman had ever seen.  The woodsman looked at the gold, looked at the donkey, looked at the gold, and agreed to sell the donkey to his neighbor.  But after a year,  there was no gold left, and the woodsman had to return to chopping wood in order to feed his family. He found the the largest tree he had ever seen, the same tree that had given him the donkey, and he started to chop it down.  The tree cried out, why are you hurting me?  The poor man answered, because I have no money left to feed my family.  The tree asked, what happened to the donkey that I gave you? The poor man answered, I sold it for gold, and now I have no gold left.  The tree answered,  See this stick?  and the tree told the stick to beat the man.  Stop, stop, shouted the man.  The tree told the stick to stop, and told the man, I will give you this stick, and every time you tell it to beat someone, it will do so until you tell it to stop.  The poor man thanked the tree, took the stick and went to his rich neighbor.  Do you see this stick, he asked his neighbor.  It is a magic stick.  And he told the stick to beat his rich neighbor.  The neighbor cried out, please tell your stick to stop beating me!  I will tell the stick to stop beating you if you return my table to me, and so the rich neighbor returned the magic table to the poor man, and the poor man told the stick to stop beating his neighbor.  Then  the poor woodsman went to the rich neighbor that had bought the donkey from him, and said to the rich neighbor,  Do you see this stick?   It is a magic stick.  And he told the stick to beat the rich neighbor who had purchased the magic donkey.  The rich neighbor cried out, please tell your stick to stop beating me!  I will tell the stick to stop beating you if you return my donkey to me, and so the rich neighbor returned the magic donkey to the poor man, the poor man told the stick to stop beating his neighbor, and the poor man was never poor again.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"Parev, arev!" "Բարեւ արեւ!"

"Grandpa Peter" used to love to tell the story of an Armenian friend from Marash who would always greet him with the words, "I don't say hello to that sun up there, but I say hello to you!"

Marash Girl wonders if that was an expression left from ancient days when Armenians worshipped the sun and folks would greet the sun with "Բարեւ"!  Even the greeting 'Parev' (hello in Western Armenian) appears to be a coming together of the two words good (pari) sun (arev) . . .

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Good Harbor, Salt Island, and Midia Dolma

Now barren of seaweed and mussels, these rocks at Good Harbor, Gloucester, Massachusetts, are the very place where, as a child, Elaine gathered fresh mussels with her grandmother, mussels which her grandmother would use to make Midia Dolma . . .

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Who's fault is it?

"It's always the man's fault . . . by default!"   Murat

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Roman Catholicism: Are you Irish or Italian?

Recently,  talking with an Irish Roman Catholic friend about the difference between the way the Italians and the Irish practice Roman Catholicism, Marash Girl's friend quoted Father Michael Craig's quip: "The Italians make the rules and the Irish follow them."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Attention: Nutella lovers!

Nutella begins in Turkey (who knew?) with the hazelnut, and Turkey's hazelnut crop has been affected by bad weather . . .  a late spring frost!  So stock up on Nutella while you can, you lovers of Nutella, as there are 50 hazelnuts in every pound of Nutella.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kids say the darndest things . . . with thanks to Art Linkletter.

Talking with her grandchildren about Camp Haiastan, Marash Girl commented, "I wish I could be a camp counselor there; it would be so much fun!  But I don't think they hire folks my age. . . "  

Iffar, one of the soon to be campers at Camp Haiastan and Marash Girl's grandson, commented, "You could tell them you got into an accident on the way over and that's why you look that way!"

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What is that smell?

On vacation in Chatham, Marash Girl decided to shop at the local farmer's market to buy her vegetables, rather than at the local Stop and Shop.  The produce was at least twice the price of the vegetables at the supermarket, but worth every penny, she thought.

Onions . . . I need fresh onions, she thought, and so she whipped out a $5 bill and purchased a pound of onions.  Happily returning back to the cottage, she placed the onions along with the garlic in a bowl on the kitchen counter, pleased that she would be serving her family fresh, tasty, local produce, but as it turned out, the weather turned hot and the meals she prepared, offsetting the weather, became fresh salads rather than simmered soups.

Less than a week passed before she and her family began smelling a stench that could be none other than a dead animal.  A mouse? A chipmunk? Fresh fish that had fallen under the stove top? What could it be?  The smell was unbearable.  Everyone in the house started the hunt.  Under the stove, in the stove, under the stove top units . . . nothing there.  With the fan on to make it possible to enter the kitchen without gagging, we continued the hunt.  Slowly the guests left (was it the stench that chased them away?), and Marash Girl continued the hunt -- 

The weather turned cool.  Marash Girl decided to use the freshly harvested onions to prepare soup. . . By now, dear reader, you may have guessed the conclusion to this tale.  The stench in the kitchen was not a dead animal, but rather a dying onion from the fresh produce she had purchased less than a week earlier!

Friday, August 15, 2014

On Tap: WBUR's Bob Oakes Interviews Matti Kovler

At a reception prior to his interview with Bob Oakes, Matti Kovler (far left) poses with Newton Corner admirers on WBUR's outdoor deck.
Musician, composer, performer and (surprise to us all) humorist Matti Kovler kept his audience and Bob Oakes of WBUR's Morning Edition entertained yesterday evening at WBUR's On Tap .
Funny, humble, and a world-renowned composer/musician, Matti Kovler, who also teaches music and composition, recently received his Doctorate from Boston's New England Conservatory of Music.  He was born in Moscow and moved to Israel when he was 10.  Still in the Israeli army reserves, Matti talked about his family,his life growing up, his life with music, his life as a world citizen, as a  teacher of music, a musician, a composer of music.  [WBUR's announcement described his music as blending "folk, jazz and classical traditions, with influences ranging from Jewish folklore to Antonin Artaud. Click here to listen to the music of Matti Kovler."]

The first song he performed, a traditional Jewish lyric, was a haunting melody which, Kovler related, once caused the Hassidic Jews in his audience to close their ears because the music was too sacred to be performed in public.  The song contained the repeated lyric, Vy, Vy, Vy, an expression which is most familiar to those of us who speak Armenian and/or Turkish!

Matti emphasized that Jewish music was far more than the music popularized by  "Fiddler on the Roof".

Bob Oakes (left) and Matti Kovler yesterday during an interview at WBUR's On Tap.  Photo by Marash Girl

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Eşek hoşaftan ne anlar?

Recently Marash Girl witnessed a conversation between a man and two women, one woman who was  clearly madly in love with the man, the other woman who was married and could care less.  The man was oblivious, chatting away with both women, completely unaware of the overweening love . . .

How sad, Marash Girl thought.

When Marash Girl related the story to a friend, he replied with an old Turkish expression that Marash Girl had never heard before.

Eşek hoşaftan ne anlar?

Don't bother going to Google Translate because it doesn't tell you what it means . . .

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams: May God rest his soul

With difficulty, Marash Girl listened yesterday to the sad news about the death by suicide of the famous, well-loved actor/humorist Robin Williams.  The tragedy caused Marash Girl to remember a story that her father often told.

There was a man who was very, very sad, so sad that he finally decided to go to a doctor for help.  The doctor listened to the sad man, thought for a moment, and said, "I know the perfect cure!  Go and watch a performance by Pagliacci.  He will make you laugh!"  

"But doctor," despaired the man, "I am Pagliacci!"

N.B. Pagliacci is the title of a well-known Italian opera about a famous clown by the same name; in Italian, pagliacci means clown.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Need help in identifying this shore bird!

On a Sunday afternoon walk along the perimeter of Schoolhouse Pond, (the fresh water kettle pond in Chatham, Massachusetts), Marash Girl spied a bird she had never seen before.  Grabbing her iPhone, she snapped the following photos.  Can any of you readers out there identify the bird for her? Could it be a type of heron?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wanna go to the Hookers Ball?

Saturday night and nothing to do . . . "Wanna go to the Hookers Ball?"
"I said, Wanna go to the Hookers Ball?  It's right down the street . . . didn't you see the big white tent and all the ladies all dressed  up?  There's a big sign that says, Parking for Hookers Ball in the Ocean State Job Lot Parking Lot!  Too bad we didn't bring the right clothes with us!"


"The Hookers Ball -- it's a fundraiser for the local fishermen and fishing industry that's been going on here in Chatham for the last few years . . . "

Marash Girl, somewhat relieved, would have loved to have gone, but unfortunately, didn't have the right outfit for the occasion!
The Hooker's Ballroom

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Part Two

Leaving the Cape Cod League Baseball Game last night in Brewster, Massachusetts, a game between the Brewster White Caps (who, by the way, wore dark blue caps) and the Harwich Mariners, Marash Girl spied a pink bumper sticker on the back bumper of a car in the parking lot:

Whether or not the sticker was commenting on the results of the game (Harwich Mariners 5, Brewster White Caps 0), Marash Girl was not sure.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Take me out to the ball game . . . .

Attending a Cape Cod League Baseball Game last night in Brewster, Massachusetts, a game between the Brewster White Caps (who, by the way, wore dark blue caps) and the Harwich Mariners, Marash Girl overheard an old gent calling over to his friend:

"Got the results back from my brain scan; the doc said there was nothing there . . .
I coulda told him that!"

Friday, August 8, 2014

Happy Birthday, Otro Baba!

and apologies for being a day late!  Every August 7, we all gathered to celebrate (more recently in Wilbraham) -- to celebrate the birthday of the man who was born in Marash in 1912, ran barefoot through the streets, fought with his Armenian friends and Kurdish non-friends in the mountains with Old-Testament style sling-shots, fearlessly survived a genocide, arrived in Newton when he was 8 years old, ran shod (no longer barefoot) with the Irish boys through the streets of Brighton, later to graduate from Watertown High School with a scholarship to MIT which he could never take advantage of as his ede (older brother) told him he had to help support his family. (Peter often joked about the fact that yes, he went to MIT and walked right past it!)  Started a successful business with his brother (Newtonville Electrical Company) in Newtonville, Massachusetts, first in his Uncle Vartan's building on Bowers Street, and then on Newtonville Avenue in a building he and his brother had built, married the beautiful Jennie (Lucille Mae Vartanian), had three beautiful children, and lived to be 97 and a half years old, contributing to the world around him through his work and his thought: Peter lived his faith and died singing praises to the Lord.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

On the Shores of School House Pond, Chatham, Massachusetts

Here is where a picture is worth any words that Marash Girl might utter.

Hmmmmm . . .  words fail her because she's having too much fun!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Long Lazy Summers: Learning to Knit - Crochet - Embroider

During those long lazy summers of the 1930's and 1940's, kids weren't allowed to be lazy, although they didn't go to summer camp.  Arax, Arppie and Kenar made needle lace (tserakordz) under the watchful eye of their mother Azniv and their Grandmother Turvant.  How they did it, Marash Girl will never know.   In the 1950's, Auntie Mary Kurtgusian Pambookian, Marash Girl's grandmother Yepros's sister,  tried to teach Marash Girl tserakordz (ցերագործ - translates "hand work" -Armenian Needle Lace), but MG's eyes were crossing and vision fading from the effort!

Thanks to  Grandma Jennie and Auntie Zabelle for teaching Marash Girl the easier skills of  knitting, sewing, crocheting, embroidery.   Mistakes were no problem.  Just go back and fix them.  The project had no schedule -- it was just fun to do . . . like taking a walk (if it wasn't so darn hot out there!)
When in doubt, rip it out! You don't have to finish this any time soon.  It is the act of doing that matters.  AND knit in at least one mistake -- only God is perfect.  (Marash Girl doesn't remember when she learned that factoid, but she has already taught her grandchildren -- both knitting AND the factoid.)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sunday Night Summer Supper in Chatham, Massachusetts

Down here on the Cape, folks have been taking turns preparing meals, and last night, Meghan, our gelin (hars) prepared the most exquisite meal one could hope for!  Marinated chicken breasts broiled on the outdoor grill along with slices of sweet potato.  Salad?  Of course! Marash Boy's favorite grain quinoa (rinsed and cooked) mixed with finely chopped herbs, feta cheese, calamata olives, chick peas, ripe tomatoes, peeled cucumbers and a dressing (blended up in the blender) of basil, lemon,  red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and green onions.  A salad to die for  . . . or rather, a salad to live for! 

Being the sous-chef for the evening, Marash Girl learned a trick that she will share with you today -- although ( if you watch the cooking shows which Marash Girl does not as she does not have a television set,) you may already be well aware of this short "cut".

Meghan bought the best (and only) sweet potatoes that she could find, but each potato was wrapped in thick plastic with the printed suggestion on the plastic that the buyer leave the sweet potatoes in their plastic coats for faster cooking in the microwave!  Can you imagine the marvelous flavor of a sweet potato infused with plastic?  Well, Marash Girl and Meghan didn't want to imagine it.  They tore off those thick plastic coats as quickly as they could (which was not very quickly) rinsed the potatoes, and tried to slice them.  Close to impossible with the dull knives in the summer house.  Vhat to do?  

Back to the microwave with the sweet potatoes (now shed of their plastic coats) for one minute only.  Yes, they did,  They put the sweet potatoes in the microwave oven for one minute and then tried to slice them into circles and voila!  Like magic, strong arms and dull knives could then work together to slice the sweet potatoes into circles.  Not easy, but do-able.  

N.B.  The microwave treatment pre-slicing works for slicing squashes as well, as long as the squashes have no plastic coat wrapped around them.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Morning Walk Around School House (Kettle) Pond, Chatham, Massachusetts

YOLO!  You Only Live Once!

An Anatolian Fortress on the shores of School House Pond

Baby Catfish spawn in School House Pond

Detail: Baby Catfish

An Anatolian Shepherd Dog Entertains passers by.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Բարի տարեդարց  Love from Nisha  عيد ميلاد سعيد Nored
zhu li sheng ri kuai le   from CeCe Simmons

hh vvv nnmb rtyug xv  jack

joyeaux anniversaire  Love from meghan

Gaudeamus Igitur FROM JOHN

YOLO!!!! from all of Chatham

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hello, August!

The above sign a reminder posted in the best ice cream store on the Cape: 
 Short 'n Sweet in South Chatham, Massachusetts

How long can a lobster live?

This lobster weighs 25 pounds.  How old is it?

Let's have fish for supper! Walking into the Chatham Pier Fish Market,  she was in awe.  There in the front case was the largest lobster she had ever seen!  "How much does that lobster weigh?"  "25 pounds."  "How old is it then?"  "Well, it takes a lobster about 5 years to grow to a pound and then another 5 years for every pound after that, so this lobster is about 100 years old," commented the fishwife behind the counter.    "Maybe someone will keep it for a pet," replied Marash Girl.