Friday, July 31, 2015

Trying to hold two watermelons in one hand, are you?

Purchasing watermelon today at Whole Foods, Marash Boy remembered the caution his mother brought with her from Marash:

Bir elinde iki karpuz tutulmaz!  You can't hold two watermelons in one hand!

Of course, Marash Boy paid no attention whatsoever to the admonition, causing his mother no end of consternation.

Do you understand the meaning of the expression?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Grandpa Moses and The Lone Ranger; or Grandpa Moses, The Lone Ranger

Born in 1865 in Marash, Ancient Armenia,  Eastern Anatolia, Grandpa Moses was the oldest of 5 sons born to the Reverend Sarkis Bilezikjian:  Moses, Garabed, Arakel, Alexan, and (Rev.) Vartan.  Moses, however, was a loner.  As a young man, he would ride off  on his horse to join his Kurdish friends in daily forays throughout the mountains surrounding Marash.  And because they were his friends, they would never attack the sheep that he herded up there in the mountains, nor the travelers or  caravans for which he "rode shotgun" . . .  He was a wiry, quiet man when Marash Girl knew him, hardly speaking at all, sitting in the winged arm chair on the second floor, and (later in 1947, when television first came out), watching The Lone Ranger (was he watching himself?) as he protected the innocent.  

It was then, just as the Lone Ranger was in combat with evil, that Marash Martha, at the time only 5 years old, would decide to get up and change the channel.  Grandpa Moses would complain to his son Peter (Marash Martha's father), "That girl! She always turns the channel just at the height of the action!"  (Of course, that's not exactly what he said; he was speaking in Turkish, the language of his Marash.)  Oh, and by the way.  He spoke English with a Swedish accent.  More on that later.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Grandpa Moses and the Glass of Water

Grandpa Moses was sitting under the grape arbor in the back yard --  his son (Marash Girl's father) had built the arbor for him -- a beautiful wooden structure covered with grape vines under which were two benches and a table -- the family often sat there for summer dinners on Sunday -- but this was a a hot summer weekday, and Grandpa Moses was cooling off while the kids were running around playing in the back yard.  Grandpa asked little Marash Girl for a glass of water, so Marash Girl ran into the house and ran a glass of water from the tap for Grandpa Moses -- thinking she would play a joke on her grandfather, she ran the water from the hot water tap and carried the clear glass of water outside.  Before taking the glass into his hands, Grandpa Moses took one look at the water and roared with displeasure.  He knew (bubbles in the water?  Marash Girl is not sure) that the glass was full of hot -- not cool -- water!  It was the only time Marash Girl ever remembers that her grandfather spoke to her with displeasure, and, yes, obviously, she remembers the moment to this day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Grandpa Moses and Pendir Ekmek

Marash Girl wants to write more about Grandpa Moses on future blog posts, but today her memories of Grandpa Moses were triggered by her memory of the circular wooden box he built, a round box made of dark wooden slats with a round, loose-fitting cover that sat atop the box, the box approx. 2 feet in diameter and 18 inches high.  That box sat in the attic for many a year . . . when Marash Girl was very young, (she was told) it was filled with ekmek . . . round, dried, thin, flat Armenian bread (homemade, of course) made with white flour and salt and a bit of yeast, rolled out to approximately 18 to 20 inches in diameter, (or as large around as the oven would take) and baked until crisp.  The bread would be kept dry in the box that Grandpa Moses had built, and before serving, would be sprinkled with water and wrapped in a towel until the cracker bread was flexible and could be rolled up around whatever was served on that particular day: vegetables or meat or cheese (usually home made Armenian cheese that had been stored in a brine, and was sliced and served after it had been let to sit in hot water for a bit -- yes, hot, slightly melted, very salty cheese).  Pendir ekmek . . . bread and cheese!  Wet bread and wet cheese, you ask?  Yes!  Any of you out there remember eating wet bread with wet cheese?  Marash Girl does.  It was one of her favorite meals!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

Button, button,who's got the button?

Any of you remember that game? (A simple game played in a simpler time. . .)

Have you ever threaded a needle?  

Tightened a button on your favorite blouse?

Searched your button bottle (do any of you even know what that is) for a button that matches, or nearly matches the one you lost on your favorite pair of slacks?

All of these memories flooded Marash Girl's mind when her daughter called to find out if Marash Girl had any iron-on tape. . . her daughter's friend loves vintage clothing, and recently bought a blouse she "could not live without" . . .  but the blouse was unwearable because the button half-way down on the front of the blouse was missing and a tear was there in its place.  What to do?

Get some iron-on tape to iron-on over the tear on the reverse side of the blouse.  Find some matching thread (preferably cotton if the blouse is cotton) in your sewing basket -- wicker or plastic basket, either will do -- (does anyone have a sewing basket  containing needles and spools of thread anymore?) . . .  have fun going through the button bottle to find a matching button . . . have fun trying to thread that needle (if you're clever, you'll have one of those wire needle threaders from the 1940's).

I can just hear Marash Martha now, as she reads this post . . . she'll be screaming all the way from Palm Desert, California . . . screaming, "Why don't you just take the darn thing to your local seamstress?  She'll take care of it all in a jiffy!"

Sunday, July 26, 2015

We miss you, Shirley Tashjian!

Shirley Tashjian welcomes a young man from Uganda to her 4th of July Parade party!


                                     Our lives and our 4th of July's will never be the same without you, Shirley!

The calling hours are on Thursday morning, July 30, at St. Gregory's Armenian Apostolic Church, Indian Orchard, Massachusetts,  between 9:30 - 11:00 AM.  Service will be at 11 A.M. Shirley will be buried at Hillcrest cemetery. After the cemetery a memorial luncheon will take place at  St. Gregory's Armenian Apostolic Church Hall.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ticks and Talks on Cape Cod

 As most of you know by now, Massachusetts' beloved Cape Cod and the Islands (Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket) their beaches and roadsides, paths through the woods and back yard havens, are now overrun by ticks carrying lyme disease.  Go shopping to the local market, and in the parking lot,  you'll overhear folks comparing notes on their neighbor's (or their own) bout with the tick born lyme disease.  Originally thought to nest in the fur of deer, the ticks now make their home on animals as small as mice, and certainly live in the fur of pet cats and dogs who have been allowed to go outside and enjoy the fresh salty air.  Enjoying the leaves of plants as small as two inches high, or living among the greens of the lofty oak, these tiny ticks have ensured misery for the many.

Recently, Marash Girl engaged in one of her favorite pastimes — a visit to a yard sale on Cape Cod.  Yard sales on Cape Cod are not simply for stocking up on gadgets that you  don't need but can't resist just because the price is so cheap --  rather they're a time to enjoy the sun and fresh air and catch up with your "neighbor" the way folks used to do in the old days.  Yesterday, the "neighbor" on Captain Blount Road sold Marash Girl all kinds of treasures at 50 cents apiece.  While Marash Girl paid the total sum of $10 (how many treasures was that? -- get your pencils out!)  -- yes. Marash Girl had gone to the bank the day before to make sure she had cash -- no credit cards or checks accepted at yard sales -- the proprietress began talking about her bout with lyme disease. (Marash Girl can't remember how the topic came up!)  At any rate, this young woman told of her year long fight to regain her health and went on to say that Harwich was known to be the hot spot for lyme disease -- which was the reason she moved from Harwich to Yarmouth!  As she obviously still gardened around her house, Marash Girl asked the young woman how she prevented getting reinfected by the pesky ticks.  

Her solution?  A lint roller.  

She advised the following:  every time you return from working in your garden or from a walk along the beach or  a walk in the woods -- whether or not the path is cement, tar, sand or dirt -- keep a lint roller handy, and roll that roller over every inch of your exposed skin and your clothing -- have someone do the back of your clothes as well -- throw your clothing into the washing machine using hot water  (after you've removed the clothing from your self, of course) and while the clothes are washing, take a shower; when the wash is done, throw the clothing in the dryer.  The heat from the dryer will destroy any ticks that may have survived the wash.

If you do find a tick on your body, call 911 -- no, just kidding -- call your doctor and the doctor will usually prescribe a prophylactic dose of doxycyclin (usually one day's worth).  

Marash Girl can tell you from experience -- contracting lyme disease is no joke!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Raccoon Comes A-VIsiting

Sending notices out for your yard sale?  Make sure that your local raccoons can't read!

Recently Marash Girl attended a yard sale, granted she was a late bird rather than an early bird, and while standing at the foot of the stairs leading to the front door, chatting with the proprietress of the yard sale, she looked up to see, yes, she saw, yes, it really was, a raccoon entering the open door of the grand Victorian home.  In shock, Marash Girl screamed, the raccoon turned tail (literally) and fled, and the proprietress was completely confused.  What just happened?  Oh, no!  Let's call animal control.  A half hour later, animal control arrived (giving the raccoon plenty of time to take cover) and announced that she could not take down an animal that was not rabid or sick.  Well, if the raccoon was not rabid or sick, what was it doing rummaging around in broad daylight at a local yard sale?

Apparently, Newton is now known not only for its million dollar homes, but for its protected wild life!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dishwasher Blues

Tired of eating off those dirty dishes that you thought  were clean (already run through the dishwasher)? Tired of emptying a dishwasher full of rinsed but unclean dishes and putting them away before you realize that they have not yet been washed?

Save yourself the trouble of ever going through that again, and use Marash Girl's signal!

After emptying her dishwasher, Marash Girl immediately fills the soap dispenser with dishwasher soap and firmly closes the dispenser.  That's the signal.

From then on, any dishes in the dishwasher are known to be dirty.  How? Just check the dispenser!  If it's closed, the dishes are dirty.

And likewise, if the soap dispenser is open and empty, that's your signal that the soap has been used, that all of the dishes in the dishwasher are clean and ready to be used.

Got it?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why would anyone ever want a dishwasher?

With apologies to Mummie!

Marash Girl's father was co-owner of Newtonville Electrical Company, Inc.  As such, he and his brother always supplied the family with the latest in electrical appliances.  Thus, Marash Girl's mom was one of the first folks in the neighborhood to have a dishwasher.  But what did fresh young Marash Girl say to her mother when her mother was excited about getting a new dishwasher?  "Why would anyone ever want a dishwasher?" Yes, she really asked that question.

Years later, Marash Girl understands and sends her apologies back in time to her wonderful mother, Jennie.

Today, Marash Girl has a friend who still washes dishes by hand.  Her friend doesn't realize that the dishwasher SAVES WATER and, in fact, gets dishes cleaner than any hand washing could ever do.

But what about the social aspects? Do any of you remember the chatter  enjoyed wiping  dishes and putting them away while the "chosen" lady for the day washed the dishes?  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Chinese Dancers on Newton Center Green

Beautiful and graceful, young Chinese-American dancers in authentic Chinese costume performed traditional Chinese dances on the Newton Center Green. Sponsored by Newton Community Pride                                                       Photo by Marash Girl

This past Sunday evening, (no not in the cool of the evening, but rather in 90 degree weather with high humidity), on the Newton Center Green, young Chinese American girls from the American Chinese Art Society performed traditional Chinese dances wearing traditional Chinese costume (shipped directly from China).   The dancers posed for Marash Girl before the program began.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Marash Dondurmasī

Growing up, Marash Girl often heard her father  talk about "Marash Dondurmasī" (the ice cream  for which Marash is famous throughout the Near East!)

Visiting Istanbul in the 1960's, Marash Girl was regaled with stories about the famous ice cream of Marash.  She wanted to travel to Marash to taste the real thing, but that year, in the mountains of Marash, there had been a murder of a honeymooning German couple.  Thus her Turkish friend, Memet Fuat Bengu, did not feel it was safe for her, a very young American Armenian woman, to journey to Marash alone.  

And so it was that Marash Girl never tasted the famous ice cream of Marash.  

To this day, Marash is famous for its ice-cream, and Marash Girl once again read reference to the ice-cream on the Facebook page of K. Marash. 

Apparently, snow brought down from the Ahir mountain is stored year round; a "molasses" (which is actually cooked down grape juice or fruit juice) is added to the snow for year round ice cream.  

If any of you in Marash are reading this, please tell Marash Girl if the ice cream makers of Marash add cream or milk to the mix before making the ice cream!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Redcoats are coming!

Barley Jim writes, "While approaching the July 4th esplanade festivities in Boston, I made my way through not only a large number of police and firemen but an even larger number of soldiers wearing SF (security force) armbands and tactically holstered side arms.
I have now confirmed that this is the first time that armed soldiers have patrolled Boston's streets since Governor Coolidge activated the State Guards during the 1919 Boston Police strike.

I do not welcome the Redcoats back in my city especially on a day that celebrates our Freedoms, not the least of which isour emancipation from the then oppressive Redcoat quarantine of Boston!! So maybe you should stay in NYC?????"

Marash Girl answers, "Only blue coats in NYC!"

(See below!)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

New York's Finest!

                                           Broad Street, Financial District, New York City
                                         Dylan Marie joins the ranks of New York's Finest!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lucia Michaelian of Marash, a Bible Woman?

Recently, Phil Hanna wrote to Marash Girl:  A woman historian who has been researching and inventoring archival materials in Lebanon and studying some of the activities of the Protestant missionaries and their churches,  posed this question to me:
I wanted to ask you a question about your mother. I was talking to a
colleague about Armenian women and their important role in maintaining
the community especially after WWI and we were unsure if there was a
history of Armenian women serving as nuns or evangelical workers
outside of war time? I believe that there were Armenian female
monasteries and that Armenian women continue to play an important role
in the community but on a unofficial level. Do you know if there was a
movement among Armenian Evangelical women to become Biblewomen (like
there was with the women in Syrian and Lebanon during the late 19th
and early 20th century)? Or am I completely wrong with this
understanding?  
I did not have a sense of an answer.  I had not heard the term Biblewomen before.  What do you think?

Marash Girl's Response to Phil Hanna:
She was a tall woman, with very white hair that was cut just below her ears and somewhat curly. Miss Michaelian used to come to our house when I was a little girl.  She spoke English precisely.  She didn't look Armenian; she looked more like my Yankee school teachers!
[My Uncle, Rev. Vartan Bilezikian (author of Apraham Hodja of Aintab which is online) and the son of Rev. Sarkis Bilezikian (the first protestant minister of Marash), lived in Newtonville where I grew up and I have the sense worked closely with Lucia Michaelian.] Miss Michaelian, I’m sure, was a Biblewoman, though certainly not called that in English.  She was a religious woman who visited homes, and must have come to visit my blind grandmother who lived upstairs, but I distinctly remember her standing in the doorway to our living room and talking with my father.  What they talked about, I could not say.  Probably around 1944 or 1945.

Some more info on Lucia Michaelian from her grand niece Berta Bilezikjian who lives in California:
Lucia Michaelian was sister to Berta’s grandmother Kohar Michaelian Vahanian, born in Marash around 1900, the youngest of her family.  Excellent English, tall and slim, she used to preach when the preachers were away. She got her college degree in social welfare — would help Armenian immigrants.  Left Marash in the early 1920’s. She was working with the missionaries there.
We think she was a member of the Eastern Star.  She had a high pitched voice, sang hymns. died in 1956. she was  as good a preacher as anybody; she would preach when the preachers were out of town. she went to college in boston and returned to marash to teach in girls college. Her mother was housemother in the college. They stayed at the college for 14 years. Her older step-sister who had recently married and had a baby was killed in the genocide in 1920.  Missionary Mrs. Lyman told her mother  that the family could stay with the missionaries. The missionaries raised my mother (Zabel Vahanian), and taught her piano on their grand piano.  Mrs Lyman visited Berta in Aleppo and Boston. Berta's mother Zabelle and Mrs. Lyman played piano together during that visit. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Entrance to Subway - The Subway Entrance

New York City:  The Entrance to Subway  - The Subway Entrance - Your Choice      Photo by Marash Girl

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dropped a cigarette at the doorstep of Tiffany's? No worries!

With their backs to the Trump Building on Wall Street, a smartly-dressed woman stood with her gentleman, both gazing at the front door of Tiffany's.  The woman took out a cigarette, and while holding it up to her mouth to light it, dropped the cigarette onto Wall Street. Retrieving the cigarette, she placed it between her carefully painted lips, lit the cigarette with a match,  and took the first of many puffs.

When Marash Girl related the above tale to Sistah Sarah, Sistah Sarah replied with her own elegance, "Surely the five-second rule must apply."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Remember the Bastille!

Above image from the internet; Marash Girl was not present at the storming of the Bastille.
"Remember French Bastille Day? They stormed the prisons to release those wrongfully held for political power. History repeats because the passions of man never change. Hand someone power and it far too often consumes them."  

Deron asks, "Why is the French Revolution more romanticized around the world than the American Revolution? 13 years after the beginning of the French Revolution , Napoleon was consolidating power.  13 years after the Declaration of Independence, the United States was a representative democracy with a constitution." (Please comment below if you have thoughts on this question.)


Both Independence Day and Bastille Day evoke memories for Marash Girl and Marash Boy. Every summer in Wilbraham, the family celebrated Independence Day by going to watch the annual East Longmeadow 4th of July Parade.  In the early years, the family watched the parade from the driveway of the Gralia Construction parking lot.  In later years, the family watched from the front lawn of Armen & Shirley Tashjian 's house.  After the parade, the family returned to the mountain for an Independence Day feast, Armenian-American style: hot dogs and shish kebab; strawberries and homemade paklava. After dark, from the mountain top, the family watched the fireworks of the cities and towns in the Pioneer Valley. 

On Bastille Day, Marash Boy would serve French wine and freshly baked French Bread and French Brie (there was a circular wooden box from real French Brie that for years decorated the top of the kitchen door frame, until the tornado took the box, the door frame and all), while the kids built a "bastille" of branches that had fallen from the century old oak that graced the front of the cabin. (Untouched by the tornado, the oak is still there, though the cabin is gone.)
After the kids had captured their Uncle George (Dr. George Charkoudian) and marched him into the "bastille", all of them at once would "storm" the bastille with shouts and laughter, and tearing down the "bastille", rescuing Uncle George and marching him to the marble topped picnic table where all would imbibe in a French feast!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cost Analysis in a New York City Elevator

Marash Girl in an elevator on Wall Street in New York's Financial District, noticed the cup of coffee being held by the only other occupant of the elevator:  I hear Starbuck's is raising its price for a cup of coffee.

Man on elevator carrying a paper cup of Starbuck's coffee (which he had purchased across the street:  Well, after all, they have to pay for increased rent, increased wages, increased cost of coffee, increased cost of cups, increased . . . .

By then Marash Girl had reached the 8th floor, and bid farewell to the cost analyst who was going on up to the 20th floor, most probably continuing his analysis, even though he had lost his audience.

After all, he was on Wall Street.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Art For Whose Sake?


Photo by Marash Girl
Sporting red shorts, a red purse with red shopping bag in hand, woman poses under the Neguchi Red Cube, Helmsley Plaza, Financial District, New York City, while the cube is being photographed by three photographers at the same moment.                                                                                                                                                         

Friday, July 10, 2015

Service Entrance at the Rear

During the South End Garden Tour (see yesterday's blog post below), an "interpreter" at the South End Community Garden glanced behind him at the elegance lining the streets, and pointed out the kitchens that were attached to the back of the 4 story brick houses, where the servants (in this case, usually, the Irish maids) lived and worked (in the back with the kitchens, NOT in the elegant houses).  

"If workers or servants attempted to enter the house through the front door," he commented, "they were told to go to the service entrance at the rear of the house." 


That little piece of South End history sounded so familiar. Marash Girl remembers her father telling of such treatment.

At his customer's front door  in Newton, Massachusetts, ready to repair a refrigerator/furnace/dishwasher/Bendix, Peter was told to go the back door -- to the service entrance at the rear of the house.  His reply?  "I enter from the same door you enter, Madam, or you get no service!"

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Art Imitates Art

Artists' Views of Boston's South End Gardens at the  20th Annual South End Garden Tour, Saturday, June 20, 2015

The 20th Annual South End Garden Tour, held on Saturday, June 20, 2015, was blessed with perfect June weather -- warm, sunny, with a light breeze.  The gardens (hidden behind the magnificent brick structures which line the streets of the South End of Boston) were found via a map (which Marash Girl has since lost), and the artists hidden in the gardens were an extra perk!  Their still wet paintings were on sale at the reception which was held at  the conclusion of a sun and flower filled day.  Tickets ($25 at the door, $20 in advance) included a map indicating the "hidden" gardens, admission to the "hidden" gardens, and a wine and cheese reception where gardeners and artists,          visitors and South Enders, gathered to share the joy of the day.





Artists' Views of South End Gardens
 during this year's
South End Garden Tour, Boston's South End


Marash Girl's favorite garden was not on the tour, but the gardener allowed her a peek in!


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Deron & Dylan Marie

In NYC, on the day before Independence Day, 
                     Deron and Dylan Marie at 3 weeks old  (Dylan Marie, not Deron).  Photo by Marash Girl

Dylan Marie at, yes, you guessed it, 4 weeks old yesterday. Photo by Meghan Charkoudian

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cartoon Artist Jack Ohman of the Sacramento Bee on the Charleston Shooting


Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman's "Charleston Shooting Debate".
 Thanks to high school classmate Ronnie (Skip) Isaacs for emailing this cartoon to Marash Girl!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sunday Morning Question in New York City

"What Would Jesus Drink?  Cold Brew or Regular Iced Coffee?" 
 The correct answer is probably "His own home-made wine," 
which, unfortunately, was not one of the options offered.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Nisha Charkoudian quoted in the New York Times on the Fourth of July!

From the New York Times,  July 4, 2015

"Enduring Summer’s Deep Freeze" by Kate Murphy, 

". . . . As infants we learn to associate warmth with the safety of our parents’ arms. Our subconscious equates cold with vulnerability, which partly explains why people can be so miserable when they are chilled.
A region of the brain called the hypothalamus is responsible for our body’s thermoregulatory system, constricting blood vessels when we are cold and dilating them when we are hot to maintain a safe core body temperature. Your physical discomfort is essentially the hypothalamus prodding you to say, put on a sweater if it’s chilly or fan yourself when it’s hot.
Extreme temperature changes like entering a freezing lobby on a sweltering summer day may feel good at first, but it makes the hypothalamus go nuts, intensifying physical and psychological discomfort when the initial pleasure wears off — as if to say: “A blizzard is on its way! Do something!”
“It’s left over from a time when it was dangerous to have that kind of change in temperature,” said Nisha Charkoudian, a research physiologist with the United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Mass. . . . "

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence!


Dylan Marie Celebrates Freedom and the Fourth of July, waving the American flag.  Photo by Meghan Charkoudian

DC in NYC: I wish we would celebrate INDEPENDENCE DAY, and not
THE FOURTH OF JULY!  


Above the Streets of New York City - Photo by Marash Girl

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fife and Drum?

Woke up this morning to the music of  the fife and drum wafting through the open window  . . .  It must be the Fourth of July -- or almost!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Moon Over Brooklyn Heights





Moon over Brooklyn Heights as seen from South Street Seaport      Photos by Marash Girl