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


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


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.

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 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!"