Monday, February 29, 2016


Whether or not you're Irish, whether or not you're an artist or art enthusiast, this exhibit is a must see!  The first of its kind, the exhibit entitled "THE ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT: MAKING IT IRISH" at the McMullen Museum of Art (Boston College), presents pieces never before on exhibit (in the United States or Ireland), pieces which include Wilhelmina Geddes's and Harry Clarke's stained glass panels which "evoke a Celtic and early Christian pst", handcrafted furniture and metalwork, textiles including carpets and wall hangings, and jewelry "replicating early medieval metalwork". The show extends from February 6 to June 5, 2016, from 11 AM to 4 PM weekdays, 12 noon to 5 PM on weekends, FEB. 6-JUNE 5, 2016.

A study in contrasts:  contemporary museum goer turns the back of her contemporary coat to the
beautiful hand made lace dress on display.

Marash Boy carefully reads the descriptions while Marash Girl takes photos.

Irish hand loom evokes memories of the family's carpet weaving for survival in Marash.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Aunty Armenouhi, Dennison, and Nisha's Bridal Shower

Planning for Nisha's shower (see blog for Monday, February 22, 2016), Marash Girl remembered Aunty Armenouhi Bablouzian.  Aunty Armenouhi, her father's first cousin, was an artist in her own right, and in the years that Marash Girl was growing up, Dennison Paper Company hired her to make umbrellas for bridal showers.  They were beautiful, and Marash Girl does not remember how she went about creating them, but Marash Girl was determined (and her determination won out ...  see photos on above mentioned blog) to recreate the joyous days of her youth attending bridal showers for all of her relatives.

Several months ago, after dropping Marash Boy off at the bus stop in Framingham, Marash Girl visited Michael's.  She walked in and asked (not really expecting an answer in the positive) if they had umbrellas for bridal showers . . . you, dear reader, already know the answer.  They did.  But what they did not have was a bridal shower umbrella filled with confetti to shower over the bride-to-be.  Marash Girl had to create that . . . she went up and down the aisles, looking for the ingredients -- confetti, tissue paper, and white ribbon --  and she found them.

Was she able to put together the bridal shower umbrella?  Not as elegantly as her Aunty Armenouhi had in years past, but elegantly enough to hide the rough spots UNDER the umbrella.

Marash Girl turned the umbrella upside down, attached a white ribbon long enough to reach from the inner apex to just below the handle of the umbrella.  She filled the umbrella's hollow with lots of confetti, and then covered the confetti with white tissue paper, taping the paper not too securely to the underside of the umbrella (securely enough so that the confetti would not fall out, but not so securely that when the bride pulled on the ribbon it could not tear through the tissue paper).  Luckily, nobody looked under the umbrella, and it was a beautiful symbol for showering the bride with good fortune.  And even more luckily, it worked.

To begin the festivities, the Maid of Honor held the white lace umbrella over the soon to be bride's head, the soon to be bride reached up and pulled on the white ribbon, and the confetti tumbled down over her, covering her with good wishes, good fortune, and all of our blessings for a wonderful marriage.

N.B.  Still finding pieces of confetti, even as far as the third floor, even weeks after the shower.  Marash Martha had suggested showering the bride with confetti on the front porch before the bride entered the house to save on the cleanup; however, the living room was the venue of choice. See the aftermath below.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Peas Porridge Hot

And another quick and easy recipe for you, that is, if you have a slow-cooker. (And who doesn't have at least three, two that they've given away!) . . .

Tired, bored, cold?  Grab that package of dried green split peas that you've had on your shelf for awhile, remove the peas from the package (no, this isn't one of those new-fangled packages inside of which you're supposed to cook the meal) and place peas in a strainer, rinse well (the strainer first, if it's been sitting around in the open, then the peas in the strainer) with cool (NOT HOT) water.   Toss the peas (not the strainer) into the crock that belongs to your crock pot, add whatever you happen to have around -- at the least, enough water to make the soup, some chicken or vegetable broth if you have any in the freezer . . .  Gather fresh vegetables: a good-sized onion (peeled), a clove a garlic (peeled), a carrot (peeled), a stick of celery with leaves, some fresh parsley,  a small potato (NOT peeled) . . . and now the trick.  Don't waste your time chopping.  Simply put the vegetables whole into the pot with the hot water/broth/split peas.  Add a bay leaf and simmer for 8 hours on low.  Just before serving, remove whole vegetables from broth and blend in your Cuisinart or whatever blender you happen to have on hand.  (Marash Girl got a new Cuisinart for Christmas, and she's always looking for excuses to use it!)  Add the blended vegetables to the pea soup.  Add salt, pepper, Marash red pepper.  (Aintab red pepper is no longer available in the Middle Eastern stores, thanks to ISIS!)  Stir and serve.  (If you want to fancy it up a bit, add a dollop of sour cream or unflavored yogurt to the top of each bowl of soup.) This soup gets better by the day . . . remember the old adage (credited to Mother Goose):  "Peas porridge hot; peas porridge cold; peas porridge in the pot, nine days old.  Some like it hot; some like it cold; some like it in the pot, nine days old!"

Friday, February 26, 2016

Quick and Easy Cucumber Bites

Try Karoun's quick and easy herbed cucumber bites.

To all natural whipped cream cheese add dill (dried or fresh and chopped fine), onion powder, garlic powder, and salt!

Use a small dollop on simple but elegant non-salted crackers, or better yet, on cucumber rounds.  Arrange rounds on an elegant serving dish or tray . . . 

A big hit at any party!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

As tax season rolls around . . .

As tax season rolls around, Marash Boy cannot refrain from quoting his uncle, Karekin Charkoudian, who was an  Armenian from Marash, Turkey, an immigrant from the Ottoman Empire,  an Armenian American who never stopped appreciating the United States . .  the United States and what it meant --ultimately -- for him and his family:  freedom from fear, oppression, and possible death.  Whenever April 15 was nearing, Uncle Karekin would tell all who would listen, "Pay your taxes with a smile!"

As we in the United States gear up for the grueling task of gathering our documents in preparation for April 15 -- even if only to give those documents to a tax accountant -- Marash Girl's revision? "Prepare your taxes with a smile!"

Comment:  Easier said than done!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"I smell gold!"

Many summers ago, when Deron was in junior high school, he invited his friend Seth (who had grown up in the midwest) to visit for a weekend at the family's mountain retreat in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.  Accompanying the family down the mountain to buy fresh vegetables at the Merrick Farm, Seth commented, "I smell gold!"  All the family could smell was fresh turkey manure from the Bennett Turkey Farm, manure with which Llewelyn Merrick had just fertilized his crop.  "That," announced Seth, "is gold!  Without it, we'd have no crops!"

Seth, we miss your wisdom!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Smoking In Marash

Dr. George Charkoudian (cousin to Marash Boy on his father's side, cousin to Marash Girl on his mother's side) was a teenager in Springfield, Massachusetts, when, hoping to be allowed to begin smoking, he asked his father Karekin (born in Marash, fled Marash in the snowstorm of 1920), "Pa, when did you start smoking?"

His father's answer: "Smoking what?"

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Keeping the Doctor Away . . .

Last week, Marash Girl could not keep the temperature in her house above 55 degrees fahrenheit, despite the fact that the thermostat had been set at 66 degrees for over 24 hours.  The temperature outside, Marash Girl must add, was 6 degrees below 0 (Fahrenheit), the wind was blowing . . . even through our thermopile windows.

Marash Girl was reminded of days of old, when her father Peter, during those very cold New England winters,  would answer the phone in the middle of the night . . .  We all knew what that meant!  He threw on his old clothes, and headed out the door.  The temperature was often 20 degrees below zero, and Peter had gotten a call:  "No heat!  And I have a little baby!"  He never hesitated. Out he went into the frigid night.

Marash Girl always prided herself on the fact that her father was more important than any doctor because, after all, keeping folks warm in the middle of winter was better than an apple a day!  It kept the doctor away!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Circassian Settlement, early 1900's

Bewohner = Inhabitants
der = of the
Tscherkessensiedlung = Circassian settlement
auf dem = on the
Kawak-Tepe [name of a place which means translated]
Pap[p]elhügel = Poplar hill

Kawak-tepe may be "Kavaktepe", a very small village in the province of Tunceli:
(the article also gives the translation Pappel-Hügel),_Mazgirt

because the only "Kawak tepe" Google shows is (or at least was) the name of a 2181 m mountain south of Kayseri.

Thanks to Helmut Thiess (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Osteuropaabteilung) for the above.
Photo (undated) from Facebook's Bir Zamanlar Marash

Friday, February 19, 2016

Marriage is for Life

"A wedding is for a day; a marriage is for life."  Spoken by a friend from Kenya at the wedding of mutual friends.  I wonder if he meant that metaphorically . . .

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Aferim, Aghchig!

Cuzin Toma (center left), Mihai Comanoiu (center right) and Teodor Corban (right) star in “Aferim!” (From A.O. Scott's Film Review in the New York Times, Friday, January 22, 2016)CrediMihai Chitu/Big World Pictures From the New York Times, Friday, January 22, 2016

"Aferim, aghchig!"  How many times had Marash Girl heard that phrase praising her, from the earliest of days, for something that she had accomplished well, or simply accomplished.  Was it ever a shock, then, when Marash Boy called to her attention the A. O. Scott's   film review (published in the New York Times, January 22, 2016) on the new film, Aferim, the Times article translating the term Aferim as 'ATTABOY'!  

For starters, Marash Girl is not a boy, and her elders often, if not always, offered the encouraging words, "Aferim!" words that translated, "Good job," or "Good for you!" or "Hey, well done!"

So there, New York Times!   Marash Girl writes for all the girls that accepted the praise "Aferim!" with joy, praise that to them and their Marash-born elders which meant, "Good job, Girl!"

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Postcards from the Past: Marash 1918

1918 Maraş Ovası çiftçiler  İlk kez yayınlanıyor... 

Two postcards from Marash of "Lowland Farmers".  Can anyone make out the writing?  What language was it written in?  French?  Any other details? Would really appreciate your replies.                                      Thanks to Facebooks' Bir Zamanlar Marash image.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dessert -- Light and Simple

Reminiscing yesterday evening, Marash Girl remembered a simple yet elegant dessert she used to make in the days that she and Marash Boy lived on Beacon Hill, an Armenian dessert Marash Boy remembered his mother making when he was growing up. . . a light sweet "soup", if you will!  Here it is. 

Soak overnight in the refrigerator: 1/2 cup of golden raisins in 2 cups of water to which has been added orange blossom water (available at Middle East grocery stores)  -- approximately a teaspoon of orange blossom water to a cup of water, test it out.  Add a handful of pine nuts just before serving.  (You don't want to soak the pine nuts.) Since Marash Girl has not made this in years, she cannot remember whether or not she added sugar to the water, so be creative when you're making this and taste test as you go. 

An elegant, cool, light, and unusual dessert to serve after what might have been a heavy meal.  Marash Girl tried to find this recipe elsewhere, but failed, so it may have originated with Marash Boy's mother who was born in Marash in the early 1900's.  Marash Girl's friend  (daughter of Armenian parents -- she grew up outside of Worcester, MA) remembers her mother making it as well. Any one out there ever tasted this dessert?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Remains of Roman Castle Wall in Marash

Remains of Roman Castle Wall -- Jenidjé-kalé on Baschkonusch (west of Marash beyond Djihân).
                           Photo undated.      (Photo Credit: Facebook's Birzamanlar Marash)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Birthday, Lorig Djan!

36 West Cedar Street, Boston, Massachusetts:  
Lorig's First Home and formerly the home of Susan Paul 

In the 1830s, Susan Paul (1809-41) taught at the Smith School on Joy Street, a segregated school for African American children funded jointly by the city and private donations (see B7). Paul was also an officer in the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society founded by Maria Weston Chapman in 1832. She was the daughter of Thomas Paul, the founder of the African Baptist Church, and supported her mother after his death. Some of her letters were printed in William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator. In 1834 she wrote to condemn the “spirit which persecutes us on account of our color—that cruel prejudice which deprives us of every privilege whereby we might elevate ourselves—and then condemns us because we are not more refined and intelligent.”

Saturday, February 13, 2016


The Newton Nomadic Theater, a new theater company which is, by definition, "dedicated to producing simply staged, high quality theater in interesting and unconventional theater spaces in and around Newton," Massachusetts, carries the motto, "keep it simple, travel light, and move from place to place."

Yesterday evening, the Newton Nomadic Theater performed Brian Friel's "MOLLY SWEENEY", a two act play directed by Billy Melody, and starring Noni Lewis (Molly Sweeney) , Stephen Cooper (Mr. Rice), and Billy Melody (Frank Sweeney). The play, set in Ireland, was staged in a heavy Irish brogue. Presented in the living room of a private home in Waban, Massachusetts, MOLLY SWEENEY introduced us to a woman without physical sight, and to her husband and doctor, both sightless to the needs of Molly Sweeney.  Throughout the evening, Marash Girl could not help but remember growing up with her very own grandmother who (as did Molly Sweeney) became lind as an adult.  Née Yepros Kurtgusian in Marash, Turkey, she witnessed the murder of her parents in 1895 in Marash, and, (as a woman alone in Marash, with 4 children and a sister to protect,) braving World War I, the Armenian Genocide, and its aftermath, arrived in the United States only to brave another war, the war of braving the world around her without sight.

Grandma Yepros had had a raging fever which, according to the attending doctors, had no cure.  When the fever ceased, her eyesight was gone.  Her son Peter, as he told it, took her from doctor to doctor to find a cure, but the doctors said that the search for a cure was hopeless, as  Yepros's bout with the disease -- Marash Girl can't remember exactly what she had had -- had caused a raging fever, a fever which, according to the doctors, had burned and destroyed the nerves of the eye which allowed sight.

Peter remembered asking his mother how it felt to be blind.  She answered her son:  "I've lost my physical sight, but I've gained my spiritual sight,"  sight which brought her peace . . . peace with herself, her family, her God, and the world around her.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Share and Share Alike

"Share and Share Alike."  That is a precept with which Marash Girl is most familiar, as she grew up in a household of many.  And so it was not difficult for Marash Girl to share her recipes with folks who raved about her cooking . . . the only disappointing part was that when Marash Girl asked for a recipe from one of her ardent admirers -- a woman with whom she had shared many Marash Girl recipes -- the woman casually  replied, "Oh, I never share my recipes!"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

All the Answers

Yesterday evening, Marash Girl was conversing with an artist friend, a friend she had met many years ago at an Armenian picnic at Camp Haiastan.  Reminiscing about his days in New York City as an artist, he apologized for his lack of humility in years past:  "In those days, I had all the answers and no questions!"

Her friend's apology reminded Marash Girl of her long ago conversation with Dr. Charles Stark Draper  during a political convention in Texas -- yes, the man who, according to the description on the internet,  'founded the Draper Labs in 1932  at M.I.T., a lab which developed aeronautical instrumentation, and came to be called the "MIT Instrumentation Laboratory".' Marash Girl had only one thing in common with Dr. Draper:  she had attended classes at Newton High School with his son, Jim.  That fact was enough to give her the courage to sit next to the eminent scientist, albeit on the back of a bus, traveling from one convention event to the next. On that bus ride, Marash Girl asked Dr. Draper (although today she doesn't remember exactly what she asked -- probably an embarrassingly  bungling "freshman" question like, "To what do you owe your success in life?" ), the question which he answered without hesitation.

"To my mother.  I was home schooled.  My mother taught me the most important lesson I could ever have learned --  she taught me the importance of asking the right questions."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New York Times: Crane Collapse in Lower Manhattan Kills One Person

"Crane Collapse in Lower Manhattan Kills One Person"  Headline, NY Times.

"Workers were trying to secure the crane amid high winds when it toppled onto 
Worth Street in TriBeCa shortly before 8:30 a.m. Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said." 

A sad day for that person and the family and all New Yorkers who like to walk the streets of Manhattan.

Cranes have always been fascinating for Marash Girl.  In fact, whenever she sees a crane, she walks along the sidewalk looking up.  The old advisory, "It's bad luck to walk under a ladder" should probably be revised to read, "It's bad luck to walk under a ladder or a crane," a crane being the contemporary world's equivalent of a ladder!  (The bad luck would certainly have doubled had a black cat crossed Marash Girl's path while she was looking up!) 

The New York Times article reminded Marash Girl of builder  Ernie Gralia’s warning:  "Never walk near (much less under) a crane if you can help it."  

Response of Lower Manhattan resident Deron to that warning:  "Somewhat difficult to do if you like to walk around Manhattan, as most New Yorkers do.  It's sad. I get upset with these stories about these accidents. And yet, it sounds like they were doing the right thing by trying to secure the crane." 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Farm Raised Salmon Painted Pink

Standing at the fish counter at Whole Foods, Marash Girl and Marash Boy surveyed the options.  Why not salmon for dinner tonight?  But there were two choices . . . One far less expensive than the other, though they looked alike.  What is the difference?  they asked.  The vendors explained that the less expensive salmon was farm raised and the more expensive salmon was caught wild.  He went on to explain that the farm-raised salmon (and, yes, there was a sign on the wall confirming this over to the left, well away from the salmon) that the farm raised salmon had color added! All natural color, so not to worry!

"What?  Farm raised salmon has color added to make it look like the wild salmon?"  

"Folks wouldn't buy salmon if it were white," he assured us.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is the "scripture reading" for the day!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Winter Storm Makes For Prize Photography

The Morning After the Storm                                         Photo by Nisha Charkoudian

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Flowering in the Face of the Storm

                                   Do we have the courage to flower in the face of the storm?
                    Looking east at 10 AM Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, Newton Corner, Massachusetts
"The Morning After" Looking east at 7 AM Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, Newton Corner, Massachusetts

Friday, February 5, 2016

A 21st Century Miracle!

A policeman pulls over a car in which he finds a member of the clergy.  "Reverend, have you been drinking?" asks the policeman.  
"Yes, but I’m just drinking water!" answers the reverend.  
"Isn’t that a bottle of wine beside you?"  replies the policeman.
"Oh, my God," intones the reverend. "Miracle of miracles. He’s done it again!"                                  With thanks to Gary Lind-Senanian

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bacon, Brussel Sprouts and Pecans!

 Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Pecans

Last minute invitation to dinner yesterday (actually Marash Girl invited herself to dinner) found Marash Girl confronting a vegetable she had always thought she hated, but her friend changed that prejudice in a hurry.  How?  She combined brussel sprouts with Marash Girl's favorites: bacon and pecans. 
Here's how to do it.

Prepare bacon on stove top until crisp.  Pour off most of the bacon fat and with what's remaining, stir fry the (already trimmed, cleaned and rinsed) brussel sprouts with shelled pecans. (She was going to saute onions first in the bacon fat, but having no onions or scallions, she proceeded . . .)  Add white wine. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Place pan in oven and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  Remove pan from oven, add bacon bits, stir up, and serve.  Delicious (even if you hate brussel sprouts)!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Marash Martha's Blueberry Muffins

Marash Martha’s Home-Made Plump Blueberry Muffins



2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp Vanilla extra
[optional - 1 cup finely chopped walnuts]

In a separate bowl sprinkle/coat 1.5 cups fresh blueberries with 1/2 cup flour.

By hand, gently fold the floured blueberries into the whirled ingredients of the mixmaster (after you've stopped the mixmaster from whirling!)

Preheat oven to 425F. Divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups and bake for 5 minutes at 
425F, then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the heat to 375 F and bake for another 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Note: Every time Marash Martha makes these, she remembers Mommy's muffins! The best!   Like mother, like daughter! Mommy taught us the trick of tossing the blueberries with a little flour (this keeps the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffin)!! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Esh Mart

The Marash event this past Sunday caused much reminiscing in the home of Marash Boy and Marash Girl. Marash Boy was remembering the expression used both by his Uncle Ed (who walked out of Marash during the famous snow storm) and his father-in-law Peter (who rode out of Marash on a "jackass", as Peter would love to put it, in 1920).  The two of them loved to use the word "eshmart".  Marash Girl always thought that they were calling some one "smart" imitating the "old country" accent, as they were wont to do on occasion.  But Marash Boy reminded Marash Girl that this was a play on words, a play on words that depended on one's knowledge of English and Armenian and the accented English spoken by Armenians from the old country.

So what does eshmart (or usmart) mean?  Well, for one, it means smart (with an Armenian accent). And if you know Armenian, and if you knew Peter and Ed, you would know that they were making fun of someone that everyone thought was smart, but that they knew was "esh mart", literally a "jackass man"!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sheriff Peter Koutoujian Speaks at the Annual Commemoration of the Heroic Defense of Marash

Sheriff Peter Koutoujian holding is daughter at the annual commemoration of the Heroic Defense of Marash (1920)
Photo by Marash Girl

Honored guest Sheriff Peter Koutoujian spoke to over 200 people gathered in the hall of St. Stephen's Armenian Apostolic Church yesterday remembering the Marashtsis who died in the defense of their city, remembering his father Peter Koutoujian who passed away a year ago, and remembering his grandfather who immigrated to the United States from Marash early in the 20th Century.  Sheriff Koutoujian assured the audience:  "Today we are all Marashtsis.  We remember and mourn the losses of our ancestors during those terrible days . . ."

                                            Also in attendance were Marashtsi cousins
                    left to right:  Ara Demirjian and Levon Charkoudian . . . Photo by Marash Girl