Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Tree Surgeon and the Fallen Limb

What? A limb is hanging loose from our 60 year old Norwegian Maple Tree?  A loose limb hanging over our neighbor's yard?  Yikes.

Get rid of it!

She complained.

We obeyed.

But a week later, another huge limb fell into our neighbor's yard from that very same tree.  (Luckily, at the time, no one was standing under the tree for its protective shade or gazing up into its leafy boughs!) What the heck?  The expert tree folks had just checked the tree!

Calling the tree surgeon that next week (the week after he had checked the tree), he explained that he had realized that the limb was on the edge, but that he hadn't wanted to remove that second limb because it "protected" us from the neighbors having full view of our back yard activities. In what activities did the tree surgeon think that we engaged?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Painting at Three and a Half Months

After only three and a half months of observing the world around her (albeit New York City),
Dylan Marie depicts that world on paper.  զարմանալի է! Zarmanali!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Nothing to say

What do you write when you can't think of anything to write?  You keep writing.  That's what free writing is all about.  (See Peter Elbow's work on the subject.)  Thinking back to when Marash Girl first started teaching writing, she can't believe how staid she was in her approach.  Now, freed up from the manner in which she was taught to write  -- outline, introductory paragraph, main body of essay, concluding paragraph -- she now can write about nothing when she has nothing to say. (Too much to say, and no time in which to say it . . . or write it, as the case may be.) Like today. Except she must note her regret that she never got to see the eclipse of the moon last night. Did you?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Blue Heron on the Charles River

The Blue Heron at lunchtime: Charles River, Watertown, Massachusetts            Photo by Marash Girl

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Don't wish your life away!

And related to the expression Marash Girl recorded yesterday is the advice she always gave her son when he would wish that Christmas (or his birthday, or summer, or snow)  would hurry up and get here!

"Don't wish your life away."

Marash Girl should have written the book on mindfulness long before it became chique!

Or she should have been aware of the Armenian expression she recorded yesterday:

Ուշ ըլլայ, անուշ ըլլայ:

That would have been a kinder way of putting it!

Friday, September 25, 2015


Interwoven throughout THE PERFECT ARMENIAN (more on the book later), in perfect Armenian,   the author weaves Armenian customs and sayings. One that struck Marash girl as particularly poignant is the following.

 Ուշ ըլլայ, անուշ ըլլայ:

Oush ullah, anoush ullah.

When it is late, it is sweet. (Or in English, the later it is, the sweeter it is.)

Anyone out there disagree?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

How many languages can you speak?

"What difference does it make how many languages you can speak if you have nothing meaningful to say!"    Vahan Topalian speaking to Marash Girl
in the 1960's in Newtonville, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

For Praying Out Loud

Stuck at a red light?  Ready to cry out loud (not to put too fine a point on it) from frustration?  Try praying out loud.  It's one of the few moments we have in our lives when nothing is happening.  So try it.  It may become a habit -- a good one!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Egg Nests a la Medzmama

Recently, posted a recipe for something they called "Egg in the Middle".  Looking at the photo, Marash Girl immediately recognized a pale version of one of Medzmama's favorite "breakfast surprises", a dish Medzmama delighted in calling Egg Nests.  Medzmama loved to prepare egg nests often when the extended family was living along the Connecticut River in Smith's Ferry, Holyoke, Massachusetts. Nobody could make egg nests as delicious as Medzmama, because Medzmama made the Egg Nests with her own freshly baked, home made bread. This is how she did it.

She sliced thick slices of her freshly baked home made bread and after toasting  the bread slices lightly in the toaster, she lightly buttered the toasted.  She then had her grandchildren cut holes in the center of the bread using the "hole" cutter from the center of her donut cutter.  She placed the lightly buttered toast (with the hole cut in the middle) on a lightly buttered metal oven tray.  In the meantime, she cracked fresh eggs, and separated the egg yolks from the egg whites, beat the egg whites till fluffy. Arranging the fluffy egg whites around the hole of the toasted, buttered bread, she dropped the still intact egg yolk into the center -- the hole in the slice of bread.  She then placed the tray in 375 degree oven and baked the nests until the egg whites were golden brown and the egg yolks slightly firm but still runny.  She served them hot from the oven, to everyone's delight! (She usually made eight Egg Nests at once, enough for her family of children and grandchildren to eat fresh that day . . . Day old egg nests are not particularly delectable.)

But for all that effort, the kids' favorite were the little round circles of toasted buttered bread that baked in the oven alongside the egg nests.  Those were the most fun!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Almost Tripped Up

Walking along Washington Street, on the sidewalk that leads to Whole Foods (many roads lead to Whole Foods, though not all), Marash Girl almost tripped up another pedestrian.  What happened?  The pedestrian walking behind her had on head phones, and was reading a paperback book as he walked. along.  Had Marash Girl not heard him coming and stepped aside, they would both have been stretched out flat along the sidewalk, heading in the general direction of Whole Foods, but probably not arriving there in time for breakfast!

Sunday, September 20, 2015


For the second day in a row, Marash Girl was asked, (this time by a young man in Newton Center), "If you're Armenian, why didn't you grow up in Watertown?"  Now if he had asked, "If you're Armenian, why didn't you grow up in your ancient homeland," she might have answered the question.  But really . . . Watertown?  If she's asked a third time, she might just have to answer the question straight up.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Lake

Today, visiting McDonald's for a breakfast featuring an Egg McMuffin, Marash Girl met a group of women from the Lake in Newton.  Actually,  this  McDonald's is in the Lake.  Nonantum, that is.  The lake in THE LAKE is no longer a lake.  It was tarred over after being filled with building debris by the builders who lived and worked in The Lake, er, Nonantum.  They (the ladies, not the builders) asked Marash Girl her name, and when she gave it, the name, of course, ending in ...ian, the  ladies asked, "Are you Armenian?"  Upon admitting that, yes, in fact, she was Armenian, the ladies wanted to know why she wasn't living in Watertown where all the other Armenians live!

Armenians on Watermelon

People are like watermelon.  They may look good on the outside, but you never know what's on the inside!

Friday, September 18, 2015


Why so exhausted?

Marash Girl sat at the polls all day yesterday, from 6 AM to 9 PM, doing nothing.  Doing nothing?  She was manning the polls for a special election that was held on Thursday (rather than Tuesday), an election for Board of Alderman. Only 25 people arrived to vote (including one alderman)-- 25 people to the voting station that 10 people were manning (or womanning).  What is wrong with this picture?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

LOSH KEBAB a la Grandma Jennie

Grandma Jennie made the most delicious hamburgers, Mum.  Can you give me the recipe?

So asked Ahsin last week.  Marash Girl thought back.  "Can I really give her the recipe?" 

 Jennie started with a fore quarter of lamb.  She and Auntie Zabelle and Grandma Yepros would sit around the breakfast nook table on the second floor at 474/476 Lowell Avenue and take apart the fore quarter, separating out the pieces best for shish kebab, the pieces best for chi kufte (no fat, no gristle), the pieces (fat no gristle) best for grinding up and making losh kebab (hamburger, in American parlance), and the pieces best for lamb stew. Next on the agenda would be grinding up the lamb with a hand grinder attached to the wooden kitchen table . . . grinding it twice so it would be of the proper consistency using the coarse blade first, and then the finer blade.  (She had already removed  the gristle  . . . or singir as we used to call it.)  Once the lamb was ground for the second time, she would finely chop parsley which she had previously picked fresh from the garden and washed and air dried.  Adding a tablespoon or so of tomato paste, salt, black pepper, and finely chopped onion, she would mix the herbs, spices and ground lamb well.  (No hot pepper as it didn't agree with the old folks.)  Forming the mix into patties, she would broil the burgers in the oven, first on one side, then on the other, and serve them hot, straight from the oven, with rice pilaf and fasuliah!  That's the best I can do, folks.  You'll have to figure out the proportions for yourselves!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mommy's Address Book

She gave away her mother's address book.  How could Marash Girl have sent this valuable piece of family history to Marash Martha?  How could Marash Martha have thrown the book away, seeing it as having outlived its usefulness?

Auntie Mogie, Jake and Johnnie Bosnian, Auntie Lucy and Uncle Levon, all the women who were in the Armenian Women's Educational Club (for which Grandma Jennie -- Mommie -- Jennie Bilezikian) was the secretary at one time), all the folks we sent cards to at Christmas, all those folks and Marash Girl can't even remember their names!

Whatever you do, dear reader, don't throw away your family's address book.  What?  You no longer have address books?  Then print up your addresses from your computer and put them in a safe place for future generations.

As they say,  hindsight is always 20/20.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Happy Camper: The last hour of the last day at the Brimfield Antiques Fair.

                                                             Sunday, September 13, 2015
          Happy shopper heads home with her Mid-Century treasure from the Brimfield Antiques Fair.

Monday, September 14, 2015

High and Dry in Brimfield, Massachusetts

                        Brimfield Antiques Fair, Brimfield, Massachusetts - September 13, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Childhood In A Box

All boxed up and ready to toss when even yard-salers didn't value the woman's past.

The moment was heartbreaking for Marash Girl, who  had had only one doll in her life (the one Uncle George brought her from Germany after WWII, a doll which one-year-old Carol threw into the mud). Marash Girl rescued the dolls and here they are, 
to be remembered forever, 
or at least as long as this blog lasts!

                                                      Childhood in a Box                           Photo by Marash Girl

Saturday, September 12, 2015

1915 The Movie

If it weren't difficult enough to wrap your mind around what was happening on the screen, Marash Girl and her friend Hélène arrived at the theatre 1/2 hour after the film had begun. (Was it the traffic, the weather, or the haunts that already haunted the filmmaker, the theatre, the audience and the screen.)  But then, as an Armenian, it was not so difficult to relate to what, in fact, was happening on the screen -- to fill in the blanks -- to relate to a filmmaker who could not forget the past, to the actress who could not forget the past, to an audience who could not forget the past, to a mob (in the film) outside of the theatre who could not forget the past and could not understand how to deal with the past in the present.

"Take his hand," said the director to his wife, the Armenian actress who was playing the part of an Armenian mother about to die in the desert during the aksoroutioun, the genocide, the mass deportations of the Armenians from their homeland.  "Take his hand," said the director to his wife, the Armenian actress who refused, even though acting, to take the hand of the Turkish soldier who wanted to save her from death.

The only thing that was missing from the film were the words of Marash Girl's father, whose family had survived because of their next door neighbor, the "Good Turk":  "If it weren't for the Turks, not one Armenian would be alive today."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Marash, 1916

Yıl 1916...Maraş'ta bulunan Almanlar tarafından çekilen bir resim...Nereden çekildiğini tahmin edemedim...(İlk kez yayınlanıyor). "An image captured by the Germans in Marash in 1916."  Thanks to  Facebook's Bir Zamanlar Marash for this photo.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Halcyon Days of the 1940's

What happened in Newton, Massachusetts, after the 1940's?  The days when we never locked our doors . . . Never feared . . .  Why, after 1952, was Marash Girl's mom always locking the doors to the house?  Marash Girl doesn't know.  Can anyone out there help out?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Marash 1915 In Color

Thanks to Garo Devonian of Beirut, Lebanon, for posting this photo  of Marash (circa 1915) on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Pirates of Falmouth

                                                                                              The Pirates of Falmouth                        Photo by Meghan

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Ugliest Word in the English Language

Remembering a film she watched in her high school English class,  Marash Girl would like to share with you the words of Carl Sandburg:

"What is the ugliest word in the English language?"


Marash Girl would agree!  Would you?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Babies love me!

"Babies love me!  Let me hold Marash Girl!"  So stated the elegant Armenian lady (Ainteptsi?)  to Marash Girl's mom at the Armenian picnic at Waverly Oaks in Waltham.  Jennie hesitated.  "Babies love me!" repeated the elegant lady as she held out her hands to pick up Marash Girl.  Reluctantly, Jennie handed Baby Marash Girl to the lady, but Baby Marash Girl (how old must she have been?) started crying, held out her hand and slapped the lady across the face.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Park Land to Parking Lots?

Perhaps folks are confused.  Perhaps, in all good faith, folks think that park land is meant to park automobiles on . . . (Yes, Marash Girl knows she's not supposed to end a sentence with  a  . . . what are those things called? prepositions?)  As the meaning of the word "park" has changed over the years, perhaps only God can save us from paving over the tiny parcels of open space that still exist!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Dune Buggy Protests

Driving along Route 6A in Barnstable, Cape Cod, Marash Boy spied a sign posted in the front yard of a house, a sign begging passersby to "Save Our Beaches".  In the back yard of the same house was parked a dune buggy.  Go figure!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Çek bakhiim!

"Çek bakhiim!"  Nishan chuckled as he offered the plate of chi kufte to his guests at the dining room table at 17 Dearborn Street.  

"Çek bakhiim!" chuckled Marash Boy as he quoted his father, offering dolma to Murat at the dinner table on Maple Avenue.   

Murat laughed.  "You're supposed to say that when you're offering me a drink of whiskey from a bottle.  You know!  Tip the bottle up and "chug" (in English) or "çek" in the Turkish of Marash!

"Oh," exclaimed Marash Boy.  "So that's why my father would chuckle every time he offered the platter of pilaf to the guests at our dining room table with the words, "Çek bakhiim!" He was playing on the phrase that he always used on Wilbraham Mountain when he offered a drink to his buddies straight from the bottle!"

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

For Crying Out Loud!

Or how to teach your child to give up, in three easy lessons.

The sweet new mother was horrified, near tears, as she related to me the latest theory in child rearing . . . They say you're not supposed to pick your baby up when s/he's crying at night -- that you'll teach the baby bad habits -- that you'll teach the baby that whenever the baby cries, you run -- that you'll train the baby to train you!  "Just let the baby cry; it'll eventually give up and go back to sleep!"

The young mother cried out: "Teach your baby to give up?  teach your baby that when it's fearful, unhappy, uncomfortable, that there's no help out there?  What kind of parenting is that?"

The conversation took Marash Girl back many a year, remembering how her father would  tell of, or perhaps brag about, how he had "trained" Marash Girl to sleep through the night.  It seems that when new-born Marash Girl was brought home from the hospital, she would cry at night; when her mother Jennie picked her up, baby Marash Girl would stop crying; when Jennie put Marash Girl back in the crib, Marash Girl would start crying again.  Marash Girl's father Peter (a first-time father) deducted from this scenario that there was nothing wrong with Marash Girl, that Jennie should simply stay in bed and let Marash Girl cry.  Jennie was heartbroken, as we may assume was Marash Girl.  So for 7 nights Jennie lay in bed, suffering, listening to her new baby, her first baby, cry.  The first night for three hours, the second night for two hours, the third night for an hour, the fourth night for half an hour; the fifth night for fifteen minutes; and finally, Baby Marash Girl had learned her lesson; no one would come if she cried out for help.

Poor Jennie, whose heart would break every night; poor baby Marash Girl, whose heart would break every night.

Marash Girl was thankful that when she had her own babies, Marash Boy's mother would  encourage her to pick up the crying infants . . .  Medzmama encouraged her hars with these words: "You can't spoil a baby!" 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Is the floor okay?

When we were little kids, whenever we fell down, our dad would ask, "Oh, is the floor okay?  Did the floor get hurt?"  We would be so thrown off by the question, that we would put aside our crying and peer at the floor, wondering if, in fact, we had hurt the poor floor. But yesterday, when Marash Girl heard a major thump above her, she was truly alarmed and called out to Marash Boy, but in this case it was not the floor, but the ceiling that he almost fell through; luckily the boy was not hurt but yes, the ceiling WAS hurt!