Saturday, December 31, 2016

A River In Aintab

A post from Facebook recorded by Cesar Jacques Chekijian
The scenic Alleben River in Aintab that flowed from the Northwest of the Fort to the Northeast of the fort. It is where all Armenians young and old used to go for picnics, which was the most common form of relaxation and festivities in Aintab. Always singing and playing musical instruments while going there and going back, and eating, drinking and playing games while there.
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Bethel Bilezikian Charkoudian What did they take to their picnics? My grandma (Aintabtsi), when we visited her in California, used to take dolma to picnics!
LikeReply17 mins
Cesar Jacques Chekijian They took virtually the whole kitchen. Food was always cooked fresh. My father remembers. They used to place fruits and vegetables in the river, to keep it cold. He had said that some watermelons used to crack open, from the water being ice cold. The water was from an underground Spring, that Aintab is named for - Ain-Tayib... Delicious-Water!... Alleben was like a Spa.
LikeReply1 min
Bethel Bilezikian Charkoudian I wonder if folks who live there now are enjoying the river in the same way . . .
LikeReplyJust now
Bethel Bilezikian Charkoudian
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Friday, December 30, 2016

Love in the Old Year; Love in the New Year; Love in Newton Corner


                          And, as Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you."          Photo by Marash Girl

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Eye of the Beholder

Elina and Iffar create art from Christmas newspapers under the able direction of Auntie Karoun.
Karoun writes, "We are making vision boards for 2017 in case anyone was wondering! Great photo Mum! 

PS for Aline and Raffi

"Knowledgeable professional, knowledgeable professional, knowledgeable professional, all day long" (sung to the tune of Wheels on the Bus)"

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Importance of Space

The shadow, not the limb!
Walking around Newton Corner at dusk with Iffar and Enila, Marash Girl spied a photo op: the bare limb of a maple tree shadowed on a cement stairway.  As she tried to photograph the shadow, Iffar reminded her that the space around the image was as important as the image itself.  Rather advanced art classes in elementary school that would teach such a concept . . .  No, Iffar assured Marash Girl.  A friend taught him the concept. 

It was centuries ago that Kahlil Gibran in THE PROPHET exhorted the concept on a personal level (and many, many decades ago that Marash Girl encountered the concept):

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.”

(Marash Girl's iPhone decided that space was more important than the image, so neither the space nor the image survived to illustrate the tale!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Need to Focus, the Need for Distraction (But not too much)

The need to focus with no distractions was discussed on the radio several evenings ago, as Marash Girl was trying to be distracted from the tedious task of packaging books.  For tedious rote tasks, some amount of focus is needed, but a certain amount of distraction will make it possible to slog through.

On the other hand, there is no way Marash Girl could write her blog with any amount of distraction.  The room needs to be silent, and the day early (or very late) to prevent any interruption to the flow of the words, the ideas, the memories.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Kids at Christmas!

                               Kids at Christmas - Photo by John Simmons

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Child Finds Jesus

Dylan  Marie came to Marash Girl yesterday.  She was so proud.  She had found Baby Jesus!  She was holding the Baby Jesus in the palm of her hand, clutching the Baby Jesus to her heart.  As well we all should.

Friday, December 23, 2016

One Cookie Missing!


    Costco, December 22, 2016
Nisha noticed!  One Cookie Missing!  Could Santa have stolen the cookie for a  hungry reindeer? 
But then, why only one?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hai Krisdoniah

Grandpa Peter used to say that in his home city of Marash, no-one ever referred to Armenians as Hai or simply Armenians; they were always referred to as Hai Krisdoniah -- Armenian Christians.  Marash Girl wonders if that implied that there had been, at an earlier time, other kinds of Armenians, or if being Armenian was inseparable from being Christian.  Anyone out there know the answer?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

18th Century Marash Armenian Embroidery

The above photo was posted by Özcan GülkesenBirzamanlar Maraş


Note the crosses which would indicate that Armenian folks living in Marash made the embroidery pictured above.   "Marash Nakhush", as father Peter would call it, but the examples in Marash Girl's house did not look like the above.  The examples she grew up with were pillows encased in black velvet with the design made by embroidered tiny crosses.  If she can find such a pillow, she'll picture it in a future blog. Or if anyone out there has such a pillow, please send Marash Girl a photo of the pillow, or the pillow itself would be nice too!
18.yüzyıldan kalma Maraş işi dantel örneği
An example of lacework dating from the 18th century; for samples and information on Marash-style embroidery,
Kaynak: Honolulu Academy of Arts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Cake Will Fall

The only time Marash Girl ever remembers her mom chastising the kids (including Marash Girl) for running and jumping was when she had a cake baking in the oven.  She wasn't concerned that her kids would fall; "Don't run! The cake will fall!" she would exclaim in a heart-wrenching voice.

Marash Girl imagines that anything as fragile as gently rising cake batter -- no matter how fool-proof the recipe -- would certainly collapse at the kind of jouncing she and her siblings would cause to the wooden floor in their wonderful old house on Lowell Avenue in Newtonville!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Why are 2052 Russians reading this blog?


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A Little Baking Survival Trick Her Mommy Taught Her

As you rush around preparing for the holidays, you may find that you've had a little mishap . . . Marash Girl did!  A chunk just came out of the bottom of the cake she had painstakingly prepared, as she was taking the baked cake out of the baking pan!  Did she despair?  Not at all.  She simply used a bit of frosting (before she frosted the top of the cake) to paste the errant chunk of cake back to where it belonged,  turned the cake (pasted chunk side down) right side up onto the cake platter and proceeded putting the frosting on the cake!  (If you don't tell, nobody will ever know!)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Have a good yesterday!

"Have a good yesterday!"  So Spake Zarathustra --- or in this case, Neal at the New York Stock Exchange!  Have a good yesterday?  Hmmmm . . . . Is there some deep philosophy in that statement?  Is it about how we see our past?  Do we have a choice in how we see our past?  Do we have a choice as to what events we choose to remember?  And what events we choose not to remember? 

 In what events do we choose to create our present?  Our future? 

What events in our past do we refuse to allow to damage our future?  

Something to think about as the New Year approaches.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Light hearted to the end!

Grandpa Peter would love to josh, especially as he got older . . . and especially as he got older, folks would ask him, "How do you feel?"  His answer?  "With my fingers!  How do you feel?"

Friday, December 16, 2016

John LaFarge at Boston College



Worth a trip to the    McMullen Museum, Boston College
                                140 Commonwealth Ave.
                                Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

if you want to experience first hand the magnificent stained glass windows -- three of them -- by John La Farge, (the style very different from those by La Farge at Trinity Church in Boston -- see Marash Girl, Sunday, April 29, 2012, "Sidetracked: Trinity Church, Boston").   Thank you, William (BC '74) and Alison Vareika, for donating  these stained glass windows which "represent Christ Preaching, St. John, and St. Paul. Together the windows exemplify the gospel of Christ and its dissemination to the Jews and Gentiles. St. John represented the mission to the Jews, and St. Paul was known for preaching to the Gentiles."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Concerned about the Presidential Election Results? Just Drop the T!

Marash Girl was at Boston University yesterday, helping to answer phones at WBUR's year-end fundraiser.  In between phone calls, she commented to her sister volunteer that she  had been having trouble sleeping since the outcome of the presidential elections had been announced.  Her neighbor, without pause, commented, "You'll have no trouble sleeping if you follow my advice . . . . When you think of the result of the Presidential election, just drop the T and smile!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Volunteers at WBUR's Year-End Fundraiser

Marash Girl joins volunteers at Boston University,                                                                       answering telephones for  WBUR's Year-End Fundraiser. Photos below.

WBUR is proud to be Boston's National Public Radio Station.
If you look carefully out of the window, you may see Tom Ashbrook doing his morning stretches on the deck under the shining sun.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Walnut Tree


Thank you, Bir Zamanlar Marash, a Facebook group located in Marash, Turkey, for the above photo of this elegant carving made over 100 years ago, presumably in Marash. The  carving appears to be made on walnut, decorating what was originally the front of a drawer or chest.  A walnut tree sacrificed itself for the above piece to be made.  

Marash Girl remembers the walnut tree in her back yard, a tree that grew quickly and became the cause of joy for all the squirrels in the neighborhood, the squirrels who would eat the walnuts just before they were ripe enough for human consumption.  Uncle Paul and Marash Girl's dad Peter tried to salvage just one walnut from the hoards of squirrels, but always failed miserably.  .Marash Girl now understands why datlusu was made from the fruit of the tree, because the unripe walnuts could be gathered by human hands before the squirrels would want them, cooked in a heavy sugar syrup (the walnuts, of course, not the squirrels) by industrious mothers like Marash Boy's, and bottled for a sweet to be eaten throughout the cold winter months.  Marash Girl's mom didn't particularly like the sweet and was happy to let the squirrels enjoy their treat!

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Pie on the Windowsill

Apple pie -- Marash Girl's favorite, even when she was barely one year old!

But an even earlier memory than the one Marash Girl recorded yesterday is the memory of the pie on the windowsill.  Does she remember the incident, or does she remember the retelling of the incident?

Well, she was one year old, so it's unlikely she remembers, but she swears she does, and here's how the story goes.

Jennie, Marash Girl's mom, was always the best apple pie baker in town.  Of course, it helped that she had fresh apples from her back yard with which to make the pies!  To get on with the story, though . . 

Jennie was expecting company and in her inimitable fashion, baked a pie (and not a cake as the William Saroyan song goes -- you know the song?  "If I knew you were coming I'd have baked a cake, baked a cake, baked a cake . . .") . . . and apple pie.  It was too hot to eat, so she had set the apple pie on the windowsill to cool so it would be ready for when the company arrived.  Yeah, ready when the company arrived?  Baby Marash Girl, at one year old, took care of that hope . . . or, as it turned out, dashed that hope . . . literally!

As the story goes, baby Marash Girl had just learned to walk.  How old would that make her?  one? one and two months?  Old enough, at any rate, to know a good thing when she saw it and so she toddled over to that window in the dining room on the second floor, overlooking the white birch trees at the side of the house, reached up to the pie sitting precariously on the window sill, and . . . you guessed it . . . . the pie landed on the floor with a crash, glass and pie crust and cooked apples all over the dining room floor, the rug and, yes, baby Marash Girl.  Jennie didn't know whether to laugh or to cry as just at that moment the doorbell rang.  

The guests had arrived.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Bacon and Eggs

Mummy always cooked bacon and eggs for her family on Sunday morning.  She cooked the bacon in a stainless steel frying pan on the burners of her Westinghouse electric stove . . . a special treat for the kids (the bacon and eggs, not the frying pan or the stove)!  But why did Mummy cut the bacon strips in half (cross-wise) before she cooked them?  Marash Girl always thought it was because Mummy  was trying to stretch out the servings of bacon  . . .  so that the kids could have two pieces of bacon instead of only one . . . But, no!  Marash Girl just learned the real reason.  Cooking bacon this morning in her Cuisinart fry pan on her Wolf stove top, Marash Girl noticed that one half of the bacon strip always cooked faster than the other; or, to put it another way, one half of the bacon strip was burning black while the other half was still cooking.  Oh, okay. So finally, after all these years, Marash Girl gets it.  That's why her mother always cut the bacon strips in half.  Smart woman!  (Her mother Jennie, not Marash Girl!)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts Hosts 15th Annual Winter Gala

Thursday evening, in Somerville, Massachusetts, the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts hosted a gala fundraiser featuring WBUR's Robin Young.
Above:  2Birds Band  http://2birdsband.com/band/.
Robin Young auctioning off tix to a Red Sox Game
The surprise of the evening was when Marash Girl recognized two old friends on stage (see above, the oud and the dumbeg)  although she did not recognize the musicians . . . actually three old friends, if you include Robin Young whom Marash Girl had just chatted with that morning at the WBUR fundraiser. Marash Girl even met a soon to be friend sitting next to her during dinner, a man who had in the center of his business card the symbol below.                Thank you, Peter Metz, for inviting Marash Girl to join in the festivities! 

Photos above taken by Marash Girl herself, though there was a professional photographer present.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Overheard

Friend 1:  "You look great!"

Friend 2:  "Yes, but it takes a lot longer than it used to!"

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Flower On!

As winter threatens New England, 
this courageous chrysanthemum flowers despite the threat,
 as should we!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Betty Crocker's Cooking For Today

As if in answer to Marash Girl's shout out to her mom (see yesterday's blog), a few hours later, at the local church thrift shop, Marash Girl found a copy of Betty Crocker's COOKING FOR TODAY, all spiffy and shiny, as new (except for the missing index, but all the tabs were still in place though slightly creased: Appetizers, Beverages & Snacks; Breads; Cakes, Pies & More (the tab creased); Desserts (the tab most creased, of course); Eggs & Cheese; Fish & Shellfish.  Marash Girl is intrigued by the imaginative ways of preparing fish that the contemporary Betty Crocker offers, and promises herself that she will try some of those recipes as well.  (Typically, Marash Girl cooks meals as the spirit leads, and only follows recipes for desserts).

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Grandma Jennie, Bake Me A Cake!

Marash Girl's mom, Jennie, was a superb baker -- she baked the best cakes "from scratch", right out of the Betty Crocker Cookbook (much to her mother's dismay -- her mother was horrified that daughter Jennie wasn't up with the times -- the 1940's times -- baking the modern way, using Betty Crocker cake mixes) . . . but luckily for her family, Jennie loved to bake "from scratch" (thus avoiding all the preservatives and artificial flavors in the cake mixes of the 1940's) and bake well she did!  She even added frosting to her cakes -- frosting made with Crisco and sugar and vanilla (well, admittedly not so healthy), frosting which Grandpa Peter removed before he savored the flavor of her freshly baked delicacies.  And her grandchildren were the happiest grandchildren around.  Grandma Jennie always had a special fresh-baked treat awaiting them when she drove them daily to and from the AGBU Armenian Elementary School.  She baked in the true Aintabtsi tradition!  We miss you, Grandma Jennie; your love for your family, your generosity to those around you was unsurpassed.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Remembering the Portieres

The  portieres, plush velvet curtains hanging from a solid mahogany rod 2 inches in diameter, attached to the rod by circles of mahogany (drape rings)  and brass finials. Deep blue velvet on one side, rich red velvet on the other, the portieres separated the living room from the sun room, creating (at the will of the children) a secret and majestic space for play and . . . the source of mystery and delight for the young in the midst of the "jungerma" of a busy extended family.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Poor Santa . . . Poor Dylan Marie!

Marash Girl can't remember what it was like to sit on Santa's lap. (She can't recall whether or not she ever did sit on Santa's lap or if she ever believed in Santa.)  But her guess is that Dylan Marie will remember.  Good thing we can't see Santa's face or he may be crying as well!  Can you imagine what it must be like to have little children screaming in fear at the sight of you?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

"You're a Marxist!"

Marash Girl just telephoned a friend and close family member who is and was a Trump supporter; after an initial greeting, he started shouting with anger and loathing, accusing Marash Girl. "You're a Marxist!  You're a Marxist!" he screamed, and no matter how she tried to explain to him that she was Marash Girl, and not "Marxist" Girl, her words took no effect.  "You're a Marxist, you're a Marxist," he continued to cry out over the phone. Luckily, this conversation did not take place in person or who knows what the results may have been!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Haig Der Manuelian (May 23, 1926, to December 1, 2016)

 May God welcome you into His Kingdom, Haig!
It is with heavy heart that Marash Girl learned today of the passing of her long-time friend and mentor, Haig Der Manuealian, Founder and Board Chairman of the Armenian Library and Museum of America (Watertown, Massachusetts).  Haig and his brother Vigen, along with Rev. Vartan Hartunian and other stalwarts of the Armenian community, founded the Armenian Library and Museum of America early in the 1970's (or earlier?) and encouraged Marash Girl to persist in her interviewing of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, to persist in recording their oral histories  on audiotape for use by future generations of academicians, genealogists, and family members, oral histories now available for research at the Armenian Library and Museum of America, Columbia University, the Armenian Assembly and UCLA.   Haig, thank you for all you have done for the Armenian community.  You will be missed.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

André Aciman's HARVARD SQUARE

Just finished reading André Aciman, Harvard Square,
and yes, if you have spent time in Harvard Square and you read the novel, you'll recognize the setting AND the characters! Beginning in the present, the action looks back at Harvard Square in the 1970's.  A good read, and a quick one.  The two main characters were born in Alexandria, Egypt, as was the author, André Aciman, and the novel, as the title promises, is set in Harvard Square.  Loved reading the book which just happened to be for sale on the discard shelf at the Edgartown Public Library this past summer! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Quilt That Had No Shame

For those of you who know Marash Girl, you may know that she loves to go yard-saling (or as Marash Boy calls it, "yard-sailing"!  Yes, she would often take the youngest of her four children  (now that Marash Girl finally had time to go yard-saling) and literally sail through the roads of Wilbraham, looking for the unusual, the bargain, the deal!

Probably the most beautiful item Marash Girl has ever purchased at a yard sale is a handmade patchwork quilt.  But why would the seller be selling such a lovely item?  Actually, the seller wasn't selling the quilt; she was giving it away.  Giving it away?  Why?

So Marash Girl asked.  And here was the answer.

"My husband's cute young secretary quilted this patchwork quilt coverlet and gifted it to him this past Christmas.  I'll be darned if I'm going to sleep under a quilt that was painstakingly handmade for my husband by another woman, and a beautiful young one, at that!"

[No photo posted in order to protect the innocent . . . or the guilty!]

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

What is the longest word in the English language?

From as early as we can remember, most of us have been asked, and continued to ask our friends the following question:  "What is the longest word in the English language?"  By now, anyone who is reading this blog knows the answer: antidisestablishmentarianism.  But Marash Girl would like to suggest another, not recognized as a word by on-line dictionaries:  antidisestablishmentarianist.  And who is today's antidiestablishmentarianist?  Does Marash Girl really want to answer this question or is she getting too political?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Today, he said, is a little bit gloomy.

But not gloomy for Marash Girl.  She's surrounded by all the people she loves . . . AND she's even learning Chinese from her newest grandson!  Wo shi hen gao xin!

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Day After . . .

All went well yesterday; the turkey was perfectly cooked and mostly consumed, the boulghour pilaf was perfect (not too watery), the fasulya beans were not overcooked, and Vivian's pies for dessert were superb!

Most amazing of all, there were no political diatribes!  Thanks be to God!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

Giving thanks that in 1885, Grandpa Moses made his way to Vermont where he worked in the Vermont Quarries, living with a Swedish family (so that he spoke English with a Swedish accent),  and soon enough became an American Citizen. He returned to Marash to marry his wonderful wife Yepros Kurtgusian, and his children thus were born American citizens.  Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pied Piper of Falmouth

    Early one morning on a beach in Falmouth at low tide, the Pied Piper played his tune.                   Photo by Marash Girl

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Planning A Big Party for Thanksgiving?

Don't forget the vegan dishes, the fat-free dishes, the meat-free dishes, the milk-free dishes, the salt-free dishes, the sugar-free dishes, and for all of our sakes, read those labels before you start cooking!  Make sure the ingredients in your arduously prepared meals are  free of artificial color,  artificial flavor,  with no chemical preservatives or additives!
Oh, and especially for the locavores, all on the table should be sourced locally.

That was easy!

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Post-Election Trauma"

In the Business and Technology section of the Boston Globe yesterday was an article entitled, "A New Kind of Grief - - Post-Election Trauma" in which a "bereavement counselor says she's hearing from clients who say, 'I can't stop crying' or 'I feel hopeless'" or, as Marash Girl and her neighbors have experienced, "Since the election, I'm having trouble sleeping."  How about you, dear reader?  Please share your response in the  Comments  section below.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Christmas Cactus In Bloom!

Why are all of Marash Girl's Christmas Cactus blooming now, just in time for Thanksgiving?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

_ertucci's? What happened?

Marash Girl wanted to treat her friend to dinner -- hadn't seen her in a long time -- let her choose her favorite restaurant.  She chose _ertucci's in Newton Corner.  Okay!  We had both enjoyed a light supper there on other occasions.

The ambience was tough (very noisy) but the waitress seated the two women next to a window looking onto  the lovely cars speeding along Washington Street towards the entrance to the Massachusetts Turnpike.  That was fine.  The two women sat next to each other, rather than across from each other, so that they could shout into each other's ear and carry on a half-heard conversation.  The service was slow, but then it was a busy Thursday night. (Since when is Thursday evening a busy evening for a restaurant?)

So, to order.  Salad.  That couldn't be bad. (Or so they thought.)  When the salad came, the dressing was too much and too sweet. Marash Girl had forgotten to ask them to put the dressing on the side, or, better yet, as Marash Boy would have done, and Marash Girl should have done, to ask for oil and vinegar, the iceberg lettuce leaves wilted, and not much more in the salad other than a few carrot peelings.  Okay. But that was just the salad.  Then the pizza.  How could the pizza be bad?  An all white pizza, her friend suggested.  It came.  Rather white salt with some bread and cheese under it arrived.  And then, finally, for dessert (because they hadn't been able to eat too much of the pizza and hadn't learned their lesson yet), tiramisu.  How could anyone spoil tiramisu?  To be kind, it was the least memorable piece of tiramisu they had ever tasted.  They did, however, with some effort, get the fork through it!

What happened to _ertucci's?

But to be fair, the complimentary oil and fresh baked bread that was brought at the beginning of the meal was superb!

Friday, November 18, 2016

More Thoughts on Soup

Whenever -- magically -- Marash Girl produces a soup with what appears to be no ingredients at all, Marash Boy grins and starts reciting, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old." And Marash Girl remembers the Russian folk tale, "Stone Soup"! Last night was no exception.

"Let's have chicken soup for supper," Marash Boy suggested at 6 PM as he looked out the window at the snow covered cars, the snow covered streets, the snow covered walkways, the snow covered trees . . .

But there was just a little bit of chicken soup left at the bottom of the pot.  Vhat to do?

Marash Girl's motto, and (she's sure) the motto of generations of women before her: check and see what you have and make that soup!

And what she had at hand that could be made into soup in minutes was leftover chicken soup (not much), a cup of spicy V-8 Juice, all natural spaghetti sauce (half a bottle), some fresh guacamole (all natural), and, for added texture, a handful of frozen corn kernels. Hmmmm. . . Let's try it!  And so she did.  She gathered all five (the soup, the V-8 Juice, the spaghetti sauce, the guacamole, the frozen corn kernels) and combined them in her trusty orange soup pot, added a quart of water, stirred, and brought the mixture to a simmer.  Taking a tiny taste, she decided that the soup needed a bit of zip, and so she added a dash of Tamari (all natural, no preservatives, of course), and a dash of . . . Marash Red Pepper! Ah, perfect!

As you might have guessed, it was the best soup she (and Marash Boy) had tasted in a long time!  Well, the best soup they had tasted in at least a week!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Message From the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office

"In Massachusetts, we will protect people’s rights, fight discrimination and keep people safe. "There are reports from around the country following the election that people have been targeted and subjected to conduct that imperils safety and civil rights. Today, I am establishing a hotline for residents to report bias-motivated threats, harassment, and violence. Such conduct has no place in Massachusetts.

"If you experience such conduct, please call us at 1-800-994-3228."If you fear for your immediate safety, call 911.
"And for more information about hate crimes and your protections under the law, visit: www.mass.gov/ago/hatecrimes."

Guess who?

Marash Girl met a neighbor this afternoon, a neighbor who quoted Salena Zito in The Atlantic as saying the following: “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Sinking Ship That Stayed Afloat!

Christine Carr writes, "If a ship lists so far to the right, shouldn't it sink?"  
Chris is a master of political understatement!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Courage to Whistle

Marash Girl's father had a piercing whistle.  When he put two fingers in his mouth and blew, out would come a whistle that could be heard blocks away.  Thus, he always kept his children under his thumb, or in his case, under the command of his whistle.  But that whistle got him into (what we saw as) trouble at least once in his life, although Peter did not see it as trouble.  

Peter and his family lived on Lowell Avenue in Newtonville, and every day he would walk to work, a good 1.5 mile walk to his shop (Newtonville Electrical Company, Inc.) on Bowers Street in Newtonville Square, (a shop that later resided at 439 Newtonville Avenue in the building that he and his brother Paul built.)

One day, on his way to work, (as referenced above, Peter daily walked down Lowell Avenue, past the Newton High School baseball field, taking a right on Austin Street, and left on Walnut Street),  as he walked along Walnut Street near the corner of Newtonville Avenue, a car came barreling down Walnut Street, going (according to Peter) 50 miles an hour in a 20 mile an hour zone.  When Peter saw (and heard) it coming, he turned, let out his shrill whistle, and motioned with his right arm for the car to slow down.

The driver of the car screeched to a stop at the side of the road (next to where Peter was standing) jumped out of the car, pulled a knife out of his pocket, and started dancing around on the sidewalk, slicing the knife in Peter's direction.  Peter, who had grown up on the streets of Marash, knew that as long as he kept his eyes on the man's eyes, (and danced along with him, as one would in a boxing ring,) the man would not be able to stab him.  (Is that true? That's what Peter believed.)  According to one of Marash Girl's children, Peter then put his hand in his pocket, as if he were harboring a pistol there, pointing  at the fellow who was threatening him with the knife.

Crowds gathered, but no-one tried to stop the two from entangling on that sidewalk in Newtonville Square in 1950.  (There were no cell phones in those days, although there were open shops all along the street.)  The only thing that stopped the would be slaughter were Peter's eyes, blue Marashtsi eyes that could pierce to the soul.   

And that they did, for Peter's opponent soon turned his back on Peter and slunked back into his car, carrying his knife with him.  

Peter never saw the fellow again, much to the fellow's relief, Marash Girl is certain.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Another kind of Half

Some of Marash Girl's children are blonde with blue eyes, like Marash Girl's Marashtsi father!

This led to many young Armenian women approaching her son Deron when he was in his early twenties and asking, "So, are you half?"

Sunday, November 13, 2016

More on Nisha on the Day After Her Birthday

Here are the comments made on Nisha's wedding day by her younger sister Lorig:
When Nisha asked me to be her Maid of Honor, she made it clear that I was not to do anything with hair, make-up, or table settings.  I easily agreed to those conditions, but suspected I could still make Nisha regret the decision.  I succeeded in this endeavor first at the bachelorette party, and I intend for her to regret it, again, tonight. 
I’m the little sister who is so close in age, I always thought I belonged with Nisha and her friends.  Only 15 months behind her (FYI, breastfeeding is not a fool proof birth control method), I was always trying to be like Nisha.  But, Nisha was a tough older sister to try to keep up with.  
Growing up, we spent a lot of time at our Grandma and Grandpa’s house and the room we slept in there had two double beds about 4 feet apart from each other.  As we leapt back and forth across this chasm, Nisha informed me that she was flying.  I insisted that I, too, was flying.  She watched me go across and assured me that no, in fact, I was jumping.  She went again to show me what flying looked like.  I tried again.  Again, she informed me, I was jumping.  I was almost sure we were doing the exact same thing.  And, still, I believed, that somehow what she was doing was flying and I was doomed to only ever be able to jump.
In addition to being blessed to have our grandparents deeply involved in our lives, we also got to spend a lot of time with our aunts, who found great delight in our antics.  Our Aunt Arppie would laugh hysterically while relating stories of our adventures with her.  One of her favorites was from a time she took Nisha and me to a petting farm when we were still quite young.  At some point, Nisha had managed to get both her hands through the fence and stretch so she could pet two sheep at once.  Knowing my sister was an over achiever, I apparently helpfully suggested that if she took her shoe off, she could pet a third as well.
But it was not only in her flying abilities and ambidextrous physical coordination that Nisha was hard to follow.  As an adolescent, Nisha kept the catalogue for Connecticut Biological Supply Company, next to her Seventeen Magazine.  She fantasized about the amoebas and protozoans she would request for her birthday and Christmas.  Eventually, she had her whole lab set up in my father’s study, a harbinger of things to come.
Nisha also studied how to be a good Dandigin (an Armenian housewife) at the feet of our Metzmama, my father’s mother.  I watched her master skill sets, such as sarma rolling and tahini hatz making, that I could never quite grasp.  Today, Nisha’s cream kadayif, along with so much else, would make Metzmama proud.
Sometimes, however, I could be Nisha’s equal.  And that was when it came to making mischief.  In general, Grandma spoiled us rotten.   But, on occasion, Nisha and I managed to test her patience to the point that even Grandma lost it.  One day, we were behaving especially badly and my grandmother suggested that perhaps we needed “a little slap on the fanny”.  This sent us into a round of hysterics when my grandmother finally left the room, and led to a new game.  We linked arms facing in opposite directions.  Then we ran in circles, each trying to slap the others rear end and trying not to get slapped.  We sang a little song that went something like “a little slap on the fanny just won’t hurt, hurt, hurt.”  I’m sure Nisha wrote the song.  I could never have come up with such inspired lyrics.
In the 20 (plus or minus) years since we have lived in the same home, I have continued to look up to Nisha and she has been there through challenging times for me and my family.  There have been many situations in which it has turned out to be quite beneficial to have a nearly perfect big sister.  
So when I started hearing about this guy, John, who seemed to be playing a pretty prominent role in Nisha’s life, I called Karoun to find out the deal.  Karoun had good things to say about them and talked about what a perfect fit they were for each other.  She went on to give an example about the amount of time they spend talking to each other about things she found to be dreadfully boring, such as the particulars of their grocery shopping trips.  She mentioned the fact that they both actually seemed interested in the mind-numbing specifics of the other’s trip to Trader Joe’s. Karoun commented to me, “Their profiles must have both read something like, ‘Brilliant person seeking another brilliant person who likes to talk about the most boring things in the world in an excruciatingly detailed way.’”  Of course, as we watched their relationship bloom, Karoun and I realized that these detailed conversations were just one way that Nisha and John wanted to spend every moment with each other, and did so vicariously, when they could not do it in person.
I first met John when I came home at Christmas.  In addition to helping with all of the chaotic preparations for a 50 person holiday party, John was studying Armenian words and asking my mother for help with pronunciations.   The Odars (that’s non-Armenians) that the other siblings were dating were like, “Slow your roll, man.  You’re making us look bad.”
But doting on every detail of Nisha’s life and ingratiating himself to our proud Armenian heritage was not enough.  As in every good fairytail, our archetypal hero must pass a test to prove his worthiness before he can marry the princess.  And the standards are high in the Charkoudian household.
In the frenzy of preparation for the Christmas party, our mother was looking for something in the jam packed freezer.  Ever helpful, John jumped up to assist.  While my mother looked on the top shelves, John was on his hands and knees rummaging through the bottom shelves.  Next thing we knew, a frozen quart of beef stew fell from the top shelf right onto John’s prostrate head.  Nisha led John to the couch where she checked his pupils and eventually to the ER where they checked for a concussion.  We were all mortified, not least of all our mother.  
The rest of us sat around that evening talking about what a nice guy John had been and what a shame that it should end this way.  But, damn, if he did not come back the next day.  And the next.  And the next.  
John, himself, of course, is a glorious addition to our family.  But it just keeps getting better.  He comes with ready-made cousins!  Aline, Raffi, and Dylan could not be happier and we are all delighted to bring Vivian, Josie, Cece, and Jack into our family as well.

Once more, Nisha, I find myself looking up to you.  Watching you and John, I learn more about how to love.  I’ll be taking notes for many years to come.  I love you both and wish you all the happiness in the world.  And if things ever get boring, just remember, a little slap on the fanny just won’t hurt, hurt, hurt.