Wednesday, December 30, 2015

An envelope stamped and mailed in Marash on January 25, 1913

January 25, 1913 a postage stamp and envelope sealed and sent from Marash. Photo Courtesy of Ozcan Gulkesen, Birzamanlar Marash Facebook Page

One wonders to whom this envelope was addressed and what it might have contained. . . Peter Bilezikian was six months old when this envelope was postmarked.  Who knew at that time of the devastation that was soon to follow in Marash.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Too Good To Be True!

A  friend and Marash Girl were chatting the other day, and the friend commented on someone they had both met recently at a party.

"My mother would have said,  Շատ լաւ, Լաւ չե! (Shud luv, luv ché!).  Or she might have chosen to say it in English: "Too good, no good!"

Or as Americans might put it, "Too good to be true!"

Monday, December 28, 2015

Marash Red Pepper On Your Tulip Bulbs?

One of Marash Girl's favorite Christmas gifts this year was a dozen tulip bulbs, planted for her on Christmas Day.  And guess what?  Marash Girl insisted that the bulbs be sprinkled with Marash red pepper before the tulip bulbs were covered with soil.  Anyone know why?

Hint #1.  Here in New England we have lots of grey squirrels.

Hint #2.  Grey squirrels love tulip bulbs.

Hint #3.  Grey squirrels hate to eat anything that will burn their tender tongues!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Glamorize Your Punch This New Year's Eve!

Making a big punch bowl of . . . . yes, of course, punch?  (What is punch and why is it called punch?)

Marash Girl makes hers with cranberry juice cocktail and gingerale (both all natural, of course), as you may have read in some of her previous posts, a punch she first tasted at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Christmas Celebration many years ago.

But Marash Girl adds a special zing to her punch, both visually and taste wise, a zing provided by the ice that she prepares especially for the punch.

Marash Girl fills large fancy bundt cake pans with fresh water in which she floats thinly sliced oranges and lemons. She then places the fruit and water filled bundt pans in the freezer, and when frozen, removes (by running hot water over the bottoms of the pans) the beautiful shapes from the pans to use as ice in the punch. This home-made ice elegance not only adds glamour to your punch bowl but adds a bit of zing to the punch as the ice melts (the flavors of the rind and the juice are subtle but there).

By preparing your own ice in this way, you do not have to worry about running to the nearest package store for large bags of ice, but can prepare many pans of your own fancy ice ahead of time, wrapping the beautiful ice forms in plastic and storing them in the freezer.  The ice made in this way will melt more slowly and keep your punch coldly delicious.

Happy celebrating!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

AGRA HADIK cont'd

Photos from Dylan Marie's Agra Hadik




 
Dylan Marie had been reaching for the "Dahn Digin" Doll, a doll dressed in traditional costume, symbolizing life in the home and a mother, wife and homemaker, but as you can see in earlier photos, there was interference and urging from older members of her family.  She selected the Lip Gloss.  Go figure what that symbolizes!

 Hadik, the traditional dessert served at the Hadik celebration, is boiled hulled wheat, sweetened with sugar and cinnamon and decorated with dried fruits and nuts to be served to the assembled after the 6 month old child chooses her future!  The kernels of hulled wheat look like a baby's first tooth.


Friday, December 25, 2015

The First Christmas

The First Christmas for Dylan Marie

The First Christmas from an Ancient Armenian Illuminated Manuscript


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Agra Hadik

Having been brought up Protestant, Marash Girl does not know a lot about the Agra Hadik tradition, but since her grandchildren have been born, she's been an ardent enthusiast.  Today the family will celebrate Dylan Marie's Hadik, yes, albeit on Christmas Eve.  What is Hadik?

When a baby approaches six months old, it is traditional in the Armenian culture to mark the occasion with a Hadik celebration, a celebration of the baby's first tooth.  As Marash Girl understands it, (and please add your comments below, for she's sure you may know more about this celebration than she does), the family invites close friends and relatives to a small afternoon party where a blanket is spread out on the floor, on the blanket is placed various object that represent occupations (for example, a pencil to represent a writer, a gavel to represent a judge, a large cooking spoon to represent a cook, a cross to represent a priest or minister, a comb to represent a hairdresser, a stethoscope to represent a doctor . . . you get the idea).  The baby is then placed on the blanket surrounded by the guests who try to encourage the baby to reach for the favored profession of that particular guest.  When the baby finally reaches for an object (for example, a soup ladle), the guests cheer and hug the baby, and then drop some "Hadik" on the baby's head to try to make the baby laugh and show that first tooth.  The guests then gather around the large bowl of Hadik (hulled wheat -- which when cooked, looks exactly like a baby tooth -- cooked up with sugar and cinnamon) and partake of the Hadik, laughing and wishing the baby well.  The hadik is followed by pastries and coffee/tea for the guests, or, if the party takes place during supper time, a full meal is enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

AN ORANGE AT CHRISTMAS

Peter never wanted to open a gift at Christmas. He was saddened when we asked him about celebrating Christmas in Marash.  His memories of Christmas?  
"In Marash, we each were given one dilim (one slice) of an orange for Christmas -- what a treat!"

In remembrance,  at Christmas, Marash Girl puts an orange in every Christmas stocking that hangs from her fireplace mantle. In remembrance.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Missionary Photo of Marash c. 1919


         The above photo was taken by Dr.Stanley Kerr in 1919 in Marash.   American mission buildings were at the northeast part of the city.                      
                         Photo and photo identification courtesy of Osman Koker

This is the Marash where Marash Girl's father lived 'til the age of 8.  Those were the mountains that he roamed, where he and his fellow playmates mirrored the struggle that was going on in the city below.  Peter grew up in Kumbet, a village of Marash, but had to flee with his family in 1920 during the mass deportations and genocide of the Armenians by the Turks.
 r

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Nutcracker?

Yesterday morning, Marash Girl received a phone call.

Young Friend: Guess where we're taking the kids today!  To the n. . .

Marash Girl (breaking in):  To the Nutcracker?

Young Friend:  To the new Star Wars movie!

"How Christmases have changed!" Marash Girl thought, but to herself only!

A First Christmas

Dylan Marie wonders, "What is going on?"

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Vegan Or Carnivor

As the family discussed the menu for the upcoming Christmas Eve party, the members of the family who were not meat eaters decided that they would like to place a sign stating 'Vegan' in front of the traditional Armenian meals that were prepared with vegetables only. 

The youngest member of the family suggested, "Why not put a sign saying 'Carnivor' in front of those platters that contain meat or eggs?"


"But what if somebody switches the signs?" Marash Girl wondered.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

On Tea and Teapots

Marash Girl's mother loved teapots; her children always bought her a teapot for her birthday, for Christmas, for her anniversary.  Jennie never broke a teapot or a teapot cover, and used them all the time to make Chai way before Chai became popular.

When company was coming, she would simply toss cinnamon sticks and cloves into a pot of boiling water and simmer for a while.  The welcome scent of cinnamon and cloves would fill the house and greet the guests.  When it came time to serve the tea, Jennie poured the spiced boiling water into a teapot over several teabags of Lipton black tea (that's all they had at the supermarket in those days--way before the time of Constant Comment or loose tea).

So it comes as no surprise that Marash Girl loves teapots, but whichever teapot is her favorite of the moment, she invariably breaks its cover.

What really made Marash Girl appreciate a teapot was when she went visiting one day and the woman she was visiting offered her a cup of tea.  The woman boiled water, poured boiling water into each tea cup, took one teabag, dipped it into her cup, then when her tea was dark enough, dipped the used teabag into Marash Girl's cup.  The woman thought she was conserving all kinds of things -- tea, energy, paper, waste, etc. etc.  But what she wasn't conserving was grace.

Grace and conservation go hand in hand.  One teabag (or better yet, one heaping teaspoon of your favorite loose tea) in one teapot of hot water goes a very long way!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Candied Pecans For Christmas

Out of ideas for what to give those folks who have everything?  Try making candied pecans.  If you can find a good source for purchasing (freshly) shelled halved pecans (Costco, perhaps?), all you need are a few egg whites, some sugar and a dash of vanilla.  Here's a recipe that Marash Girl adopted and adapted from the internet.

Candied Pecans

Preheat oven to 250 degrees fahrenheit. 
Beat until frothy in a large bowl: 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon of water.
Add 1 cup white sugar, 1 tsp. pure vanilla, 1/2 tsp.  salt.  Beat together.  
Add 1 pound pecan halves and stir with large spoon until pecan halves are completely coated with egg white mixture.

Place coated pecan halves in a stainless steel baking pan which has been sprayed with oil.

Bake coated pecans at 250 degrees fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so (set timer so you don't forget) to make sure pecans are baking evenly.  Remove tray from oven. Allow pecans to cool.  Try to restrain yourself from sampling too many, or you'll have none to gift!

Store the surviving candied pecans in a dry container (preferably a lovely glass bottle with a screw top cover or glass with a pretty cloth covering); add a beautiful ribbon and there you have the perfect gift for folks who have everything.

Just make sure they're not allergic to nuts!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sign(s) of Christmas

                                              Sign Created by Marash Girl

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

BOSTON GLOBE Reports Reference to Armenian Genocide in Massachusetts Old State House Time Capsule

The following article is taken directly from the Boston Globe, 12/14/2015
Book in time capsule is now seen as a call to remember    Peter Schworm BOSTON GLOBE STAFF  DECEMBER 14, 2015

When the Old State House’s century-old time capsule was opened last fall, the red hardback book found inside, a routine government report, was dismissed as a mere space-filler.
Now it appears that the book’s curious inclusion was anything but an afterthought. With a corner carefully folded on a page that describes an attack against Armenians by Ottoman Turks, the volume is seen as delivering a message, a call to remember from the distant past. 

It was an Armenian coppersmith, Moses Gulesian, who was commissioned in 1900 to replace the wood figures of a lion and unicorn on the east facade of the building. When his work was completed, he placed the time capsule — a copper box filled with letters, photographs, and newspaper articles from the time — inside the lion’s head. 
“One of the last things he did was to seal a copper box,” reported a Boston Daily Globe article from 1901. 
But not before he placed the thick tome inside, nestled snugly atop the other objects as if it had been cut to size. When the capsule was opened, the book, which contained a summary of US foreign relations from 1896, was the first item seen.Yet, the reason for such a prominent placement remained unclear. Officials at the Bostonian Society, which operates the Old State House Museum, were eager for answers, but the book’s broad scope defied them. 
“It was a mystery,” said Elizabeth Roscio, the society’s archivist. 
When Don and Barbara Tellalian, a couple from Newton who had researched Gulesian’s life, heard about the book, they quickly made the connection. 
Gulesian was a leading figure in the Friends of Armenia, a Boston group that raised awareness about the Armenian massacres. And the book provided a historical record of attacks against Christian minorities that began in 1895.
“From his point of view, it made perfect sense to include,” said Barbara Tellalian. “It just seemed to fit.” 
Don Tellalian, a retired architect who had worked on the restoration of the Old State House, set up a meeting with Roscio in October to examine the book. As he thumbed through the section about the Ottoman Empire, they came across the folded page, a cleanly pressed triangle marking page 887. The section describes an attack by Turkish forces on an American mission in an Armenian province. 
“There can be no doubt I think, judging from the penetrating force of the bullets, that they were fired from rifles such as are used by the Turkish troops,” a diplomatic letter read. 
In a revelatory moment, the Tellalians concluded that the book was Gulesian’s way of preserving a piece of history, to mark a moment in time for future generations. What had first seemed to be a dull, bureaucratic selection was instead a deeply personal choice to document the atrocities against his homeland, they decided.
“We knew then,” Barbara Tellalian said. “This was a passion for him.”
Gulesian was 17 when he came to the United States, arriving in New York City in 1883. He slept on a park bench before a fellow countryman put him to work at his carpet shop. 
In 1890, he built a copperworks factory in Boston, and in the coming years took in scores of Armenian refugees. 
He is best remembered for rallying support to save the USS Constitution from being scrapped by offering to pay the Navy $10,000 for the vessel. 
For the Tellalians, who are both of Armenian descent, the discovery has strong contemporary resonance. At a time when refugees from the Middle East are viewed with suspicion, Gulesian provides a classic American success story, a man who built a fortune from nothing.
“You begin to realize that there are some things that haven’t changed so much,” Don Tellalian said, shaking his head in regret.

There is no proof, of course, that the book in the time capsule had any significance at all. The initial reaction — that it was chosen as much for its dimensions as its content — might have been correct, and Gulesian may not have been involved. But the evidence, from the book’s prominent placement to the crisply folded-down page, is tantalizing.
“There are no hard facts in history,” said Brian LeMay, the Bostonian Society’s director. “This passes the test.” 

Peter Schworm can be reached at peter.schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

THE SNOW QUEEN at the New Repertory Theatre, Watertown, Massachusetts

The Snow Queen left Marash Girl frigid.  A tour de force meant to entertain both children and adults written by the former director of the New Rep, The Snow Queen did not entertain this adult who, frankly, grew up LOVING fairy tales.  For all the effort of the actors and the production crew -- and great effort was expended indeed (although at the talk back the actors admitted that they had had only two weeks to throw the show together), the Snow Queen did her job.  And the theatre was cold to boot!

Monday, December 14, 2015

My, what straight toes you have!

"My, what straight toes you have!"  So commented a friend the other day as Marash Girl was trying on holiday shoes at a shop in Framingham. Marash Girl thought for a moment.  "Why are my toes so straight?"  And then she remembered.  Her shoes always fit perfectly.  Why?  Well, it's kind of a long "Hnamiyagan" story.  Aunty Varsy Basmajian (Auntie Bea's sister  --  Aunty Be a was married to Marash Girl's father's first cousin) was married to a man who owned a shoe store in Waltham, a shoe store that all of the Armenians would frequent. . . And in that shoe store was a shoe x-ray machine, "the shoe-fitting fluoroscope", where parents could not only see clearly whether or not their children's shoes fit properly, but children could while away their time, standing at the machine, wiggling their toes (Lord willing they still have them -- the toes, not the shoes) and fighting over who got to use the machine next!

N.B. Marash Girl's parents never stinted.  When their children's toes started hurting, her parents took the children (and their toes) to the shoe store to buy a new pair of shoes, a pair of shoes that fit!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Teaching Backgammon (Tavla, as the Marashtsis call it!)

Teaching Tavla

The best teacher creates a worthy opponent.  But when the teacher creates a winner, someone that can throw the dice even better than she can, then she has problems!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"If you want something done, give it to a busy person."

Anyone busy out there during this Christmas season?  Popular wisdom has it (and both Benjamin Franklin and Lucille Ball would concur) that "If you want to be sure to get something done, give it to a busy person."  Why?  Because you're too busy to do it? Then you should be assigning the task to yourself!   Really!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Baking Cookies?

Baking Cookies for the holidays? The simplest of kitchen gadgets may save the day, especially if that last tray of cookies gets overcooked, as last trays of cookies are wont to do, and the cookie bottoms burn and blacken.  No tears.  Just pull out your trusty grater, or if you have this antique handmade handled grater, all the better!  Simply let the cookies cool down, rub the rough edge of the grater over the cookie bottom, and voilà!   If you don't tell, I won't, and we're the only ones that will ever know that the cookies had a problem. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Do As I Say; Not As I Do!

                   Yard sign in front yard of home on Maple Avenue, Takoma Park, Maryland.  
                                          Does Marash Girl hear the pink flamingo objecting?    Photo by Marash Girl

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Queens of the Armenians

Sinope, Queen of Armenia – Lambert Barnard 1526, Oil & tempera on wood panel. From the Amberley Castle ‘Heroines of Antiquity’] Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, UK. One of eight surviving panels forming part of decorative scheme for Amberley Castle, former residence of the bishops of Chichester; commissioned by Robert Sherborne (c.1450-1536) Bishop of Chichester.   SOURCE:  PeopleOfAr via Facebook

Funny. Sinope, Queen of Armenia, doesn't look like anyone Marash Girl knows!  Wanna know more about Queens of the Armenians? Just click the link below.

Khachatrian, Noune Sekhpossian (translator), Barbara Merguerian (editor),
Yerevan: AMARAS, AIWA, 2001. First English Edition. Paperback. New. Autographed by editor Barbara Merguerian. 100 page small paperback, measures approx 4x3 inches, includes index. Illustrated. Unread. Mint condition. BRAND NEW. Digital image available upon request. Trade Paperback. This book is a new English translation of an Armenian work. Includes listing of kings and queens of Armenia from approx. 1500 years BC to 1375 AD.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Can't sleep? Be careful what you read!

Marash Girl couldn't get to sleep last night, she was laughing so hard.  She made the mistake of reading a book of jokes just before bedtime!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The First Game On the New Board; or Don't Play With Lady Fortune!

With no dice in sight, Raffi insisted on playing tavla; somehow he knew he was going to win.  But what to do about the dice?  Raffi said, "No problem," as he wrote numbers on the small pieces of paper and handed the bowl of numbers to his sister, who Marash Girl named, "Lady Fortune". And that was the end of that!  As you might guess, dear reader, Lady Fortune favored her brother, NOT Marash Girl, AND, as a result, guess who won that first game on the brand new tavla board.  Guess who?  Guess who?  Guess who? (That's plural but Marash Girl doesn't know how to write who in the plural!)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

How Times (and Tavla Boards) Have Changed!

Looking longingly at Grandpa Peter's tavla board, Marash Girl asked her daughter Lorig (who had accepted an invitation to present Community Mediation Training to the Israelis in Jerusalem) to please bring home a traditional tavla set for Raffi (Marash Girl's grandson, Lorig's son), as Raffi had, during the Chatham summer, exhibited unusual skill in the game -- no doubt inherited from his Great Grandpa Peter and his Great Great Grandpa Moses, both who hail from Marash).
Lorig dutifully went to the bazaar in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, looking for a traditional Tavla set, (backgammon set, or as, Lorig learned they call it in Israel, Shesh Besh --which is one of the traditional Persian calls for the dice when 5 and 6 appear) a set like Grandpa Peter's. She was told, however, that the wooden boards -- the boards that looked like Grandpa Peter's -- were now all made in China.  If she wanted one made by Armenian hands, she would have to purchase the boards with pottery inserts -- Jerusalem Pottery inserts -- pottery that was made traditionally and still, by the Armenians in Jerusalem  (the very Armenian potters whose ancestors created tiles for Jerusalem's Mosque of the Dome), but in this case the Armenian's name was Darakjian (a relative, no less) whose family originally hailed from Marash! (What were the chances?)  Unfortunately, pottery is very heavy, and so the tavla board added much weight to Lorig's already heavy bags, but she was not about to disappoint her children!  (It should be noted here that Aline, at the tender age of 2 1/2 years, could throw the dice like her great-great-grandpa Moses.  Whatever the number we asked her to throw, she threw it! Unfortunately this set did not come with the dice, so Aline has to wait a bit to practice her skills!)  Lorig survived the trip and arrived with the heavy tavla board in tow, a board she had lovingly packed into her suitcase, adding a good 20 pounds if not more, and dragging it all the way back to her kitchen table.  Here it is (the backgammon set AND the kitchen table!)  Oh, and by the way, the wooden pieces are made from the olive tree!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

"My grandmother Is Choctaw!"

Marash Girl was in Edgartown and as is her wont, she started chatting with the man who was tending shop at the Corner Store.

"People always ask me why I look different," he commented.  (Marash Girl had not and would never ask such a question!) "My grandmother is Choctaw," he continued in explanation. "She's 93 years old!"

Marash Girl, who believes in recording family history whenever and wherever possible, asked, "Have you ever asked her about her life as a Choctaw? No? You'd better hurry.  You're a musician.  A drummer.  (Is it in your blood?)  You have the recording equipment.  Don't let this opportunity to learn about your past and our past pass!"

Whether or not he heeded Marash Girl's advice is unknown; whether or not you'll heed Marash Girl's advice is unknown.  But she hopes you will!


Marash Girl's maternal grandmother was Aintepsi and her paternal grandmother was Marashtsi but they didn't live long enough for her to ask them about their lives!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Thank God for Plumbers!

Thank God for Plumbers, and especially for the young man who came to Takoma Park at 9 PM last night (we called at 8 PM) from Jim's, Inc. (ask4jims@gmailcom, 301-926-3499) in Rockville, MD.  Marash Girl and Marash Boy were caring for their grandchildren that night, when the toilet backed up!  The toilet backed up and there was no curing it -- not with several flushes, not with several plunges with the plunger.  Nothing worked.  But Jim's, Inc. sent us a plumber who came out within a half hour of the call, and saved the day for us (the day, the evening, the morning, the week, you name it!)  Thank you, Jim's Inc. for your instant service.  Thank you, Harold the plumber who arrived within the hour and saved the day, the evening, the night . . . thank you for your immediate attention to what could have been an immediate disaster! (Granted, there was an emergency fee of $100 added on to the $150 charge for snaking the "water closet" with an auger, but believe you me --as they used to say in the old days-- it was worth it!)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Martin Luther King Civil Rights March, Boston, Massachusetts, 1965

   The only Armenians IN this civil rights march.  The other Armenians were on the side heckling us!

For some reason, the above photo showed up on Facebook several days ago; not sure who posted it as it was a photo taken many years ago.  Thought it was worth posting here as it is a photo of Marash Girl in a civil rights protest in Boston circa 1965! Below is the poster calling all protestors!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Vintage photo of Zeitun, circa 1915

Birzamanlar Zeytun, 1915'li yıllar - Zeitoun (Zeytun) circa 1915
From Facebook's Kahramanmarash page. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Shall we greet each other as we pass each other along the walkways of life?

Marash Girl has long told the following story to her friends and neighbors.  She finally decided to record the story here.

In Newton Corner, a number of years ago, Marash Girl was walking along the sidewalk and greeted a young man as he walked toward her.  Aghast, the young man protested, "I'm married!"

Telling this story to The Good Neighbor, a gentleman born in Croatia, Marash Girl was given the following response:

If I were walking down the street and didn't greet a person older than myself, and initiate the greeting, I would have been severely punished by my parents.

Marash Girl guesses that even after we grow up, we retain the stern policy taught to us when we were children growing up in the United States:  "Never speak to strangers!"

In direct opposition to this moré, Marash Girl's daughter dressed Marash Girl's little granddaughter in a shirt that exclaimed, "I speak to strangers!"

Monday, November 30, 2015

Remembering Grandma Jennie


A tribute to my Mom

“Jennie” (Lucille Mae Vartanian) Bilezikian
10/08/1917 – 11/30/1991
by
Martha Mae (Bilezikian Atikian) McCool

MY FOND MEMORIES OF OUR MOM (MUMMY), ARE AS CLEAR TODAY AS THEY WERE THROUGHOUT OUR CHILDHOOD.
Our Mom was a wonderful, fun loving, caring, patient, and warm hearted mother and friend who also possessed incredible culinary expertise! 

Mom was ahead of her time during the 1940’s and 1950’s, always selecting the freshest fruits and vegetables (during the summer from Dad’s organic garden in our large back yard), 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 back yard / organic 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” in the late 1950’s 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 the 3 of us (kids) fishing to have fun but also to give Mom a few hours of peace and quiet (usually on a beautiful Sunday afternoon) and enjoy the day 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 and to lend a helping hand.  Mummy was consistently cheerful and good hearted; we feel fortunate to have had such a terrific Mom.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Virgins in Paradise.

Whenever the newscasters would state with great assurance that the reason the atrocities by Muslim fanatics were occurring in the Middle East was that the atrocitiers (a word?) were promised the reward of virgins in paradise, Peter (who had been happily married for 50 years and by 9/11, was 90 years old) would query, "Who wants virgins, anyway?", leaving his adult children somewhat in shock!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Bechamel Sauce is Easy? Not as easy as Turkey Soup!

Here's a recipe from Marash Girl's long-time friend, a friend who hails from Manchester, England, and now lives in Brooklyn Heights.

Andrea's recipe for a quick and easy yet fancy dinner of "left-overs" is to cover everything with Béchamel.  This is how she told Marash Girl to make the sauce.

2 T butter/flour
1 c milk w/ broth
Dash salt (Marash Girl assumes)
Simmer till thickened.
Pour over cooked turkey and white onions with rice.

Now it couldn't be that simple, and Marash Girl has yet to try it.

Instead, Marash Girl threw all the roasted turkey parts (skin, bones and all) -- anything that had not been eaten -- into a pot, covered the mix with fresh cold water, added a dash of white vinegar, and boiled for one hour.  Following that, she poured off the broth, added the veggies on the fresh veggie platter that had not been eaten (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, celery, mushrooms) and simmered those in the broth until those were soft.  She cooled the lot down a bit, blended it up in the Cuisinart 'til smooth.  Poured the mixture back into the pot, brought it slowly to a simmer, added whole milk to thin it up a bit, and served.  What a delicious "cream" soup that was!  Not a drop left!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Cream For The Coffee!

Adrien Casey, NYC artist and long-time neighborhood friend of son Deron, had moved back to the 'hood for the coming year.  Seeing him on Eldridge Street after many a year, Marash Girl invited him to join the family for Thanksgiving dinner, and as all good folks do, he asked, "What can I bring?"  Having all the bases covered, Marash Girl could think of nothing she needed . . . except for All Natural Organic Cream for coffee . . . No problem, Adrien replied with a grin!  And sure enough, Thanksgiving morning, Adrien arrived with the all natural cream for Thanksgiving coffee.  (See below!)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving Day

Marash Girl gives thanks on this Thanksgiving day for the Native Americans without whom no Pilgrim would have survived.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Day Before Thanksgiving

You don't really expect Marash Girl to be writing more than one sentence today, do you?  After all, it's the day before Thanksgiving, and she's busy preparing goodies for all you guys who are coming over!  (Well, there you are: two sentences!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Up On the Rooftop . . . Without Santa and his Reindeer!

The beginning of the holiday season sent fear through the hearts of the residents of Maple Avenue as "Santa's Helpers" worked their magic on the roof of a 150 year old Victorian home in Newton, Massachusetts. Photo by Marash Girl

Monday, November 23, 2015

Coarse Sanding Sugar

"The icing on the Cake"  -- Do you remember that expression?  It was used in both a positive manner and a negative manner in the 1950's.  Grandma Jennie always added the icing to the cake -- frosting that, as Marash Girl remembers, was made primarily of Crisco and sugar.   Not to hurt Grandma Jennie's feelings,Grandpa Peter always ate the cake after  he had carefully removed the icing.  Perhaps he knew, even then, that fat and sugar on top of Grandma Jennie's home-baked cake was not the healthiest comestible.  Perhaps that's why he almost reached 100 years of age.

The expression, "That's the icing on the cake!" -- popular in the 1940's and early 1950's --  (do folks still use the expression?) actually had a negative connotation -- something added that was not necessary, and that, in fact, made the situation a whole lot worse.

Funny how something sweet can become something sour.

All that as background to suggest that, in this more health conscious time, should we still choose to bake cakes, we can avoid "the icing on the cake" -- both the work of making it, and the "work" of eating it.  Simply sprinkle coarse sanding sugar (uncolored) over the top of cake batter before baking.  Remove that cake from the oven, and your cake will sparkle!  No fat or Crisco needed.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Marash Girl's Favorite: Banana Cake

Okay, so Marash Girl was planning to make Banana Cake for Thanksgiving.  But what to do?  No rotten (or more delicately put,  "overripe") bananas were available anywhere.  How would she make her famous Banana Cake without rotten bananas?  And where can one find rotten bananas?  Certainly not at any of the supermarkets.  Now what?

I suppose they could rewrite the song, "Yes, we have no bananas" (One of Grandpa Peter's favorite songs  . . .  a song sung by Eddie Cantor, a song which became a musical hit in 1923) to read, "Yes, we have no rotten bananas!"

But seriously . . . if you want to make a decent Banana Cake, you need rotten bananas!  Well, Marash Girl, you still have a few days left before Thanksgiving.  Maybe you'll find those special bananas you seek  . . . But where?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Grandma Jennie & Arlene Francis

Recently Marash Girl sold Arlene Francis's ARLENE FRANCIS, A MEMOIR. (You know that Marash Girl sells out-of-print books on the internet, right?)  Why should that sale call to mind her mother Jennie?  Because Arlene Francis was a household word when Marash Girl was growing up.

Marash Girl's mother Jennie (born Lucille Mae Vartanian) always spoke of Arlene Francis with great pride. Yes, Arlene Francis was a well-known actress and popular television personality in the 1940's and 1950's.  But that was not all.  Arlene Francis was born Arlene Francis Kazanjian on Oct. 20, 1907, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Her father, Aram Kazanjian, was studying art in Paris at the age of 16 when he learned that both his parents had been massacred  by the Turks   during the 1894-1896 Armenian massacres. The same massacre that murdered both of Marash Girl's  great grandparents --  her father's mother's parents -- and her mother's mother's fiancee!) Arlene Francis' dad Aram Kazanjian  became a painter and portrait photographer, an Armenian immigrant to the United States  who married Leah Davis (daughter of actor Alfred Davis).

Despite the fact that Arlene Francis had changed her last name, all Armenians in the United States knew and took pride in the fact that Arlene Francis was of Armenian descent.  Arlene Francis was Armenian (at least half) and was a world famous actress.  Jennie identified with Arlene.  Jennie loved to sing, play the piano by ear as she sang the popular songs of the day, dance (despite the fact that Grandpa Peter had promised his mother that he would never dance -- and always kept that promise). Jennie laughed and loved life and people.   Never a cross word; never a negative comment.  She was the happiest woman Marash Girl has ever known.  

Arlene Francis became known for her aphorism, "Life is the best party I've ever been  invited to."

Jennie could have written that line!  She actually may have!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Through the Supermarkets the Week Before Thanksgiving

Marash Girl never could figure out why Grandma Jennie felt she got plenty of exercise simply going  shopping at the supermarkets.  That is, not until today.  Marash Girl would avoid the crowds and shop today.  Starting at Whole Foods for organically grown cranberries and organically grown oranges  (so she could make her famous all natural pesticide-free cranberry relish for Thanksgiving --  for recipe, see Marash Girl's post for Wednesday, November 21, 2012, "Happy Thanksgiving with Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish -- Raw Foodies, Take Note!"), and  all natural, organic (there is such a thing) ice cream.  Great!  perfect for adding to the pies and cakes that would be served on Thanksgiving Day.  But she needed V-8 Juice for her special style of making boulghour pilaf, so she headed to the Star Market, but they were all out.  Oh, well, while she was there she would buy her favorite all natural gingerale (to make her cranberry gingerale punch) but there was no Polar Gingerale, either.  So off to Target for sundries . . . and who knew?  A whole section of groceries. They had V-8 Juice AND Polar Gingerale. . . And even more walking! And no crowds!

Grandma Jennie was right! Plenty of exercise.  It felt like a good two miles . . . without the fresh air and beautiful maple trees, of course.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jack Frost Has Arrived

Marash Girl was not in the mood to greet Jack Frost yesterday morning when she found that he had painted her automobile's windshield white with frozen stuff.  Yes, he's here, greet him or not; here to stay for a good five months.  Thank goodness we have the holidays to cheer us up because without them, whatever would we do?  My friend, Nurse Nancy, tells me the malady we all feel is called "seasonal depression".  Perhaps the season should be called the season of the depressed! Do folks in the southwest have seasonal depression as well?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wedding on the Mind

So here it is, one week before Thanksgiving, and instead of worrying about cooking and preparing for Thanksgiving, Marash Girl is heading for the Big Apple to help her first-born daughter select a wedding dress!  What could be more fun than that?  I ask you, ladies and gentlemen!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mayor Setti Warren appoints new Chief of Police

Congratulations to Captain David MacDonald, newly appointed Chief of Police, Newton, Massachusetts, and to the Police of Newton, Massachusetts, who have kept us safe all these years!

Monday, November 16, 2015

How can we forgive something that "never happened"?

Marash Girl has long been saying to those who would make peace with Turkey and forgive Turkey's atrocities -- atrocities such as the Armenian Genocide -- "How can we forgive something that never happened?" Please, my Armenian brothers and sisters who read these words, before you start screaming, understand the irony in the statement!  Has Turkey ever admitted to this 20th Century crime against humanity?
This past Saturday, the New York Times echoed Marash Girl's sentiments:
"The reverberations from Turkey’s troubled birth and the years preceding it persist. The 1915 Armenian genocide remains unacknowledged by Turkey even though Germany’s president, in this centennial year, spoke of German complicity. Joachim Gauck said: “We Germans collectively still have to come to terms with the past, namely when it comes to shared responsibility and perhaps even complicity in the genocide of the Armenians.”
It is for Turkey to answer how Germany could be complicit in a crime that did not exist."  New York Times, Nov. 12, 2015:  Turkey Haunted by its Ghosts

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

An Introvert?

While at Starbucks yesterday, Marash Girl overheard a stranger -- a woman -- talking to a friend,  describing herself in detail, loudly, nonstop.  After about 15 minutes of this, the woman announced, "I'm definitely an introvert!"  Marash Girl wanted to chime in, "Really?"  but she restrained herself.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Winter's on its way to Martha's Vineyard!

    You know winter is on its way when you see this sign at the 
     On-Time Ferry in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts!
(The famous Chappaquidick Island in the background.)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Happy Birthday to Marash Girl's First Born!

Her favorite doll was Bobby Shafto, and her favorite first foods were Hearts of Palm!  She looked just like the Gerber baby! She's Armenian all right, but everyone who saw her wanted to know if she was Irish!  Why?  She's 3/4 Marashtsi and 1/4 Ainteptsi and her great great grandmother on her grandmother's father's side was considered the most beautiful woman in Aintep.  She looks just like that grandmother!  and that makes for a beautiful, blue-eyed blonde Armenian baby (and woman).  Add to that the fact that she's one of the foremost cardio-vascular physiologists in the United States and one of the kindest and most giving persons that Marash Girl knows, and there you have it.  Oh, and humble, so she's made me promise not to mention her name.  If you know her, wish her a happy birthday! Gotta go now; Marash Girl is making choereg for the birthday celebration tonight.  Shhh . . . Don't tell!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

#FightFor15


Erricka Bridgeford's photo.


Walking through the Boston Common with Lorig's friend, Erricka, headed to the African-American Historic Trail on Beacon Hill, we came across a protest, so we stopped and asked what it was all about. The strikers were food retail workers fighting for $15/hr minimum wage. It was the national day to strike. Workers all over America did not go to work yesterday; they were in the streets protesting:  #FightFor15
Walking through the Boston Common with Lorig's friend, Erricka, headed to the African-American Historic Trail on Beacon Hill, we came across a protest, so we stopped and asked what it was all about. The strikers were food retail workers fighting for $15/hr minimum wage. It was the national day to strike. Workers all over America did not go to work yesterday; they were in the streets protesting:  #FightFor15
Walking through the Boston Common with Lorig's friend, Walking through the Boston Common with Lorig's friend Erricka, headed to the African-American Historic Trail on Beacon Hill, Marash Girl came across a protest, so they stopped and asked what it was all about. The strikers were food retail workers fighting for $15/hr minimum wage. It was the national day to strike. Workers all over America did not go to work yesterday; they were in the streets protesting:  #FightFor15

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Armed Virgin; or, Virgin with a Rifle

Yesterday, at the end of a peaceful walk along the Charles River, Marash Girl was startled by the image below, spray painted on the side of the cement support of the Cpl. Joseph E. Thompson Footbridge in Watertown, Massachusetts.
                                                        The Armed Virgin; or, Virgin with a Rifle                 Photo by Marash Girl

Search as she might, Marash Girl could not find a meaning for the letters SATTA.  Do any of you know what SATTA means?  Or what this image signifies?  


Monday, November 9, 2015

SQUARE KNITTING NEEDLES

Have you given up your knitting habit because your hands are cramping up with tendonitis, or worse yet, arthritis?  Don't give up hope!  Square knitting needles (yes, there are such things) are easy to hold and don't require the flexibility that traditional knitting needles require. Try them!  You'll like them! Or if you don't knit but know folks who do, please spread the word!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

"Göz ichinde kalir"

A memory of a conversation between Uncle Paul and Marash Girl's father Peter, both of whom were born in Marash in the early 20th Century, and escaped  death at the hands of the Ottomans during the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

Newtonville, Massachusetts, 1960

Paul:  I just put down a deposit on the house on Page Road but Nectar is insisting that I should remove that deposit -- that she saw the house first!  

Peter: Why would you remove the deposit?  She could have put a deposit on the house herself!

Paul:  I have to remove my deposit and let her have it.  Göz ichinde kalir! (Marash Turkish) (In Istanbul Turkish, Gözün üstünde kalmasın!)  

Peter:  Are you crazy?  Forget the göz!

But Paul could not forget the göz, the "eye" (evil eye?) which would always be upon the house, jealous, envious, and possibly evil, should he buy it, so he graciously backed out of the sale and allowed his cousin Nectar to buy the house, much to Peter's dismay.

And so, awareness of the  "evil" eye was alive and well, even in the late 20th Century, even in the United States of America, even in a Christian family!

Even with folks who never wore the blue bead!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Marash Armenian Shoemakers and Bakers c. 1900

1900 Maraşlı Kunduracı ve Fırınciler  =  c. !900 Marash Armenian Shoemakers and Bakers 
Photo  and caption above courtesy of Bir Zamanlar Marash
Script at base of postcard in German reads: 
"Schuhmacherwerkstatt u. Bäckerei des armenischen Knabenwaisenhauses in Marasch"
 The Turkish translation on Facebook (significantly) left out the word Armenischen (Armenian) which appears prominently in the lower left corner of this postcard!

Friday, November 6, 2015

On memory

Years ago, Marash Girl asked her friend Norman Krim, a man who at that time was well into his 90's, how it was that he had such a good memory.

With his left hand, he pulled out a small black book from his inside jacket pocket, with his right hand he reached for his pen, held both up and said, "I write everything down!"

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Grandma Jennie's Choereg (Choreg) Recipe

Today Marash Girl will prepare Grandma Jennie’s Cheoreg for an AIWA event, and as you will not be able to sample it, here's the recipe that she's using so that you can make it for yourself.

Grandma Jennie's Armenian Cheoreg (Choereg)

Grandma Jennie’s Cheoreg

Dough preparation:
1 pkg dried yeast (place in 1/4 c. warm water with a bit of sugar)
1 c. milk
1 tsp. to 1 tbsp freshly ground mahlab (available at Armenian grocery stores) - Marash Girl uses 1 tbsp.
1/2 Tbsp black caraway seed optional - Sev Goondoug available at Armenian/Middle Eastern grocery stores.
1/3 c sugar or more
3 eggs, beaten
1 c butter, melted
5 c flour (Grandma Jennie used Gold Medal Flour; When Marash Girl tried it with King Arthur Flour, the product was not as soft.)
2 tsp salt

Topping: 
1 egg, beaten (to wipe on top of shaped cheoreg before dipping in sesame seed.)
Sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.  While oven is heating,
mix dough ingredients together with large heavy spoon. Dough should NOT be stiff, but rather fairly loose in order to achieve a soft choereg, the way Grandpa Peter liked it.  Set aside the dough to rise in a covered glass bowl, away from drafts.  When dough is doubled in size, punch down.  Take the equivalent of a half cup of dough, roll into 6 or 7 inch strip, circle strip around itself (snail-like) to make a circular roll.  
Place this roll in the palm of your hand, dip top of roll into egg mixture, then into flat dish in which you have placed sesame seeds. (This system gives a delicious thick layer of sesame seeds, not just sprinkles, and saves the trouble of brushing on the egg, then scattering on the sesame seeds.  It was Grandma Jennie's very own secret.) Place plain side of roll on greased baking tray, leaving room for choereg to rise (about 1 inch between rolls).  Dough will have risen enough by the time you finish shaping rolls to bake on greased tray in preheated oven for 15 minutes, but experience has taught that it is far better to let the dough rise overnight before shaping and baking!  ( NEXT TIME MARASH GIRL IS GOING TO TRY TO ADD MORE MILK TO MAKE A LOOSER DOUGH, WHICH SHOULD RESULT IN  A SOFTER CHEOREG. SHE'LL LET YOU KNOW HOW IT COMES OUT)

Whether or not Marash Girl has published recipe earlier, she is recording this recipe in memory of her mother, Jennie Vartanian Bilezikian who passed away the day before Thanksgiving many years ago, and remembering the family visits to her Uncle Joe (Grandma Yester's Brother Yusuf) & Auntie Mogie Bosnian (Ruthie and Didick's mom).  Auntie Mogie always welcomed us with choereg in her oven and baking when we arrived, ready to take out and serve us piping hot.