Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Look in the mirror!

"When I was one and twenty, I heard a wise man say . . . "

Marash Girl was one and twenty; she wanted desperately to leave the family home, to find her own way in the world.  She couldn't live at home any longer as an independent young woman.

"Why do you have to leave the house?" asked her Uncle Paul

"To find myself," was Marash Girl's answer.

"To find yourself?" asked Uncle Paul.  "Just look in the mirror!"

N.B.  In an Armenian household during the first 3/4 of the 20th Century, for an unmarried young woman to leave her home and live independently was anathema.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Beckoning Women, Women Beckoning.

"Every time I go in to Boston, women are always beckoning to me," Marash Girl's uncle from Paris would insist.

"That's funny; I go into Boston all the time, and no women ever beckon to me!" Marash Girl's father Peter would reply.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Note on Easter Dinner

So there we were with 18 folks, some meat eaters, some vegetarians, some vegan, some omnivorous. Some grownups, some kids, some never grownup, some always kids.    So what in the world would you make for dinner? 

But first we had to go to church.  After all, it was Easter Sunday!  So off we trouped, walking the three blocks past the park, with no thought to the kitchen at home.  When we returned, we found Karoun in the kitchen, elbow deep in preparations for the preparations for Easter dinner!  Adding Aline and Raffi (future chef/caterers) and Marash Girl to the fray, we prepared something for everyone!  Roast leg of lamb for the serious meat eaters, roast turkey for the less serious, Armenian cabbage salad with mint and thinly sliced red and green peppers, olive oil and wine vinegar (with a hint of garlic)  (no feta cheese for those who had aversions to animal products in any form), only purple cabbage salad (Marash Girl's creation) with tamari and olive oil and wine vinegar (with a hint of garlic) for those who did not like green cabbage, boulghour pilaf made with fried onions and V-8 juice (for those who had aversion to animal products), lentil pilaf made with fried onions and water (for those who had aversion to animal products and wheat), roast leg of lamb with plenty of garlic (for those who had aversion to vegetable products), roast turkey with plenty of whole onions (for those who had aversion to red meat and/or garlic), sautéed onions cooked with sliced mushrooms (for those who had aversions to any of the other offerings), cheese and Armenian Cracker Bread for those who had aversions to everything else.  Guests brought dessert (cheese cake) and there was always ice-cream for those who couldn't or wouldn't eat cheese cake.  And, of course, coffee, decaf coffee, tea, herbal tea, lemonade, and water for those who would eat none of the above!

Needless to say, Marash Girl is still cleaning up!

N.B.  This post sounds a lot like the letters Auntie Lydia Vartanian Kricorian would write to Grandma Jennie, detailing the scrumptious meals (without the reason for the individual offerings) that she would create for her guests -- meals far more elaborate than Marash Girl would ever think of preparing!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Brown Onion Skins (not Red) Color Armenian Easter Eggs Red

Amazing . . . an all natural dye made from BROWN onion skins, skins that typically get thrown into the compost heap . . . brown onion skins which when boiled in water turn the water blood red and dye  white eggs red, (all natural, of course,) an exercise Armenians practice every Good Friday.  If you want your eggs to be decorative and not simply a deep red, hard boil the eggs by adding them to the "onion-skinned" water and simmer 'til hardboiled.  The result? Lovely decorations on the surface of the hardboiled eggs which are now dyed red.

There's a sermon here.  Can any of you give it?

Friday, March 25, 2016

On Good Friday . . .

A while back, Jet Blue Airlines put out an ad that announced the following:  
Paradise for Half-Price.  Marash Girl started thinking about that.  Exactly what would paradise at half-price cost?  What does paradise cost anyway?  Simple.  Faith in Jesus Christ.  An acceptance of "the way, the truth and the life".  Not just the mouthing of words, but living the words, living the life, with the engine that runs life, Jesus Christ living within our soul.  So what would half-price be?

Luke 23:39-43New International Version (NIV)

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Revise That Memory!

How can you revise a memory?

Recently Marash Martha insisted that Marash Girl revise the memory she (Marash Girl) had recorded in a blog posted the other day.  You can revise a blog post, but can you revise a memory . . .

Bite your tongue she says.

Bite your thumb?

Bite your keyboard?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

On Throwing Stones . . .

One day, Peter was driving up to the little Armenian Protestant church in Watertown, the church in which his uncle, Rev. Vartan Bilezikian, preached, when he noticed several boys throwing stones at the front of the church.  "What are you doing?" he asked the boys.

"We're throwing stones at this church."

"Why?" asked Peter.

"It's not Catholic.  It's bad.  It's a Protestant Church," the boys answered. 
"Who told you that?" Peter asked.  No answer. "I'll tell you what," Peter went on.  "You go to your priest and ask him if it's alright to throw stones at a Protestant Church. If he says it's okay, then come back, and   I'll help you throw the stones next Sunday."

"Okay, Mister," said the little boys.

The boys (who most probably did not live in glass houses) were never again seen throwing stones at the little Armenian Protestant Church on Arlington Street in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Happy Birthday, Karoun Djan!

The cutest, the sweetest, the tiniest, the darlingest, the anoushigest, the bzdiligest, Karoun Djan!

Monday, March 21, 2016

"What a guy!" . . . Remembering Eddie (Serge) Bilezikian

Eddie,  our Cousin Eddie, Serge from Paris, Eddie who spoke English with a romantic French accent, who spoke fluent French and fluent Armenian, who appreciated a beautiful woman, who appreciated women, Eddie who was fearless, no matter who he confronted, from the fiercest enemies during wartime to the most  sultry of  "enemies" during peacetime, women trying to lure him into the bedroom ("Non, non!") while he was delivering freshly cleaned clothes from his father's dry cleaning/tailoring shop in Newton Centre, Eddie who was looking for the good woman, a Christian wife (when Peter told him to join Boston's Park Street Church Young Adult's Group, he found just that in the love of his life soon to be his wife Ann . . . Ann, who loved to refer to her husband Eddie as "my French lover"). . . Eddie who always joked and laughed with us kids -- he was a paratrooper in the French army; he came to this country and became a paratrooper in the United States army; he told any who challenged his beliefs or morals, "You don't show me much!"  

Marash Girl still remembers his first year in this country.  "Serge" presented us with his card:  Serge Bilezik D'Jian.  We were so impressed!  He always joked with us and laughed with us.  Because he was such a "fun" person, we children decided to put his Christmas gift (always a brand new white shirt) in a small box, then a bigger box, then a bigger box, then a bigger box.  Eddie did not disappoint us.  He started opening his gift with vigor -- flinging his arms about, feigning (or perhaps it was real) great excitement, throwing the ribbon and wrapping paper about, tossing aside the empty boxes as he reached for the smaller and smaller box until he arrived at the prize.  A brand new white shirt.  Always a brand new white shirt. And then his shouts of "surprise", joy and laughter only outdone by us -- his six little cousins at 474/476 Lowell Avenue in Newtonville, Massachusetts, many miles from his family, many miles from the Paris of his birth, but only inches away from the family who loved him so.

(The heading, "What a guy!" is attributed to Uncle Paul Bilezikian.  It's the only phrase that truly captures the totality of our cousin, now passed away, Eddie Bilezikian.)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

In a hundred years. . .

Whenever Marash Girl got very upset about a disappointment in her teenage life, her father, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, chuckled to himself and commented,  "In a hundred years, you'll never know the difference."

Friday, March 18, 2016

Arevik Tserunyan's THE LOST EMPIRE at the Armenian Museum of America

Arevik Tserunyan at ALMA's opening of her exhibit, "THE LOST EMPIRE"
These sculptures, presently on display at the Armenian Museum of America,  were the setting for a theatrical musical presentation at ALMA this past Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Top o' the mornin' to ya!

Because Peter was  blonde with blue eyes,  an Armenian who had been born in Marash, growing up in the United States, a young man in an Armenian-American community, a young man surrounded by dark eyed, dark haired, dark skinned Armenians,  an Armenian growing up in the Irish neighborhoods of Brighton. . .  Because of his friends and because of his light skin, blonde hair and blue eyes,  the members of the Armenian community always called him "Irish" with a heavy Armenian accented rolled "r".  Perhaps Marash Girl should write the word as she heard it pronounced: Irrrrrish!  Peter's  children (except for Marash Girl who looks like her mother) have blonde hair and blue eyes as well.  Thus Peter and his family  (including Marash Girl) have always joined the Boston Irish in celebrating St. Patrick's Day!  Top o' the mornin' to ya!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

9 February 1920: Marash Yaniyor (Marash Burning)

                                          Historical Photo of Marash Burning - 9 February 1920
                                                  Photo Credit: Facebook's Bir Zamanlar Marash

A sad day for the Armenians of Marash . . .

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Traffic Calming Ahead!

"Traffic Calming Ahead".  The sign in Takoma Park, Maryland, announcing calming gave Marash Girl pause as she had never heard of the concept in New England.  What exactly did it mean? There was little or no traffic to be seen on this suburban road which connected no particularly important streets to no particularly important streets. Were there comforting roadside stands meant to calm drivers down?  Lemonade vendors? Strains of Montovanni music coming from the windows of the lovely little houses lining the streets?  Folks sitting along the side of the road in rocking chairs ready to share their philosophy with would be passers by?  Nope. Not at all.
Turns out that the traffic calming consisted of little more than road bumps crossing from sidewalk to sidewalk (road bumps that used to be called "Dead Bodies" in Beirut, Lebanon, in the 1960's) and full islands, all attempting to frustrate the intentions of would be speedsters.  The city had been nice enough to warn drivers to  take care not to tear out the bottoms of their cars.  Thank you, Takoma Park!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Are you happy in the Lord?

Piter used to love to regale us with the story of Mrs. Chorian, who approached him after church one day (on the front steps of the United Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church of Watertown, Massachusetts, the church that was begun by Marash Girl's great uncle Vartan).

"Piterrrr . . . Are you happy in the Lord?"

"Yes, Mrs. Chorian, I'm happy in the Lord."

"But, Piterr . . . Are you happy in the Lord ALL THE TIME?"

"But Mrs. Chorian! People who are happy all the time are in the crazy house!"

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the not so innocent!)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Tribute to Blair Brown (1941-2016)

Above: Carol Brown addresses the gathered remembering her husband, Blair Brown (1941-2016)
On Saturday afternoon,  March 12, over 500 neighbors, friends, relatives, classmates, and business associates gathered in Boston at Franklin Institute of Technology  to remember  Blair Brown (1941-2016).

Remembrances were provided by Patrick O'Reilly (Eliot Church friend), Anne Bailey Berman (Benjamin Franklin Institute friend, Blair's successor as Board Chair), Lionel Spiro (Friend from Fall River and Harvard days, co-founder and partner at Charrette), Amanda Blair Brown (Carol & Blair's daughter), John Deknatel  (Design School friend and boating companion), Paul Pender (Early Charrette employee, mentee and lifelong friend), Susan Brecht (Pastor of Eliot Church), Charley Norris (Harvard Graduate School of Design classmate), Samuel J. Brown (Carol & Blair's son), Don Leka (Newton Corner friend), and Carol Brown (Blair's wife). Opening music was provided by a string quartet, one of Blair's favorite hymns was sung by all (Eternal Father, Strong to Save), beloved by Blair because of its sea imagery, and closing music was provided by a piano/flute/string bass trio.  The remembrance ceremony was followed by a reception at the Institute.

[It was noted that because Blair was committed to the mission of the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology and had helped to build the school to the strong institution it is today, the gathering in memory of Blair was held at said Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.]

Blair, we miss you.  May you rest in peace.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Has it become acceptable in this society to "dis" Born Again Christians?

Since when is it okay to "dis" 'Born Again Christians'?  Can't touch Native Americans, Blacks, Asians, Jews, Catholics, Italians, Irish, but . . .

The most recent of many such occurrences was at a Mystery Book Club sponsored by a public library, when the leader of the group commented that a mystery writer of note had "accepted Jesus". Without hesitation, one of the participants in the group (rolling her eyes) exclaimed, "Oh, God!"   Her first time at the group, Marash Girl could only comment (resisting rolling her own eyes), "No, not God.  Jesus."

Friday, March 11, 2016

Happy Birthday, Deron!

You do, indeed, "Belong to the Lord!"
Deron with Grandma Jennie in the apple orchard at 474 Lowell Avenue, Newtonville

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Gary Lind-Senanian Addresses Radcliffe Class of '62 at the Armenian Museum of America

Above: Gary Lind-Senanian explains that every young Armenian man was taught to carve "khatchkars" as the young Armenian women were taught needle lace.  See an example of a khatchkar  (literally, cross of stone) to the right of Gary in the photo above.

Radcliffe Class of 1962 had a special treat in store for them yesterday when they visited the Armenian Museum of America.  A wealth of knowledge, the curator, Gary Lind-Senanian gave them an in depth tour of Armenian art and history as he wended his way through the museum, leading the group through the many and varied artifacts on view at ALMA.  Thank you, Gary, from the ladies of the Radcliffe Class of 1962.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spring Is On Its Way!

                    Marash Girl's grandchildren are witness to the fact that Spring is on its way!
                                                         In Maryland, at least!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Remembering President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan

Hearing the sad news of the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan brought to mind the long-ago visit that Marash Boy made to the White House, to meet with the then President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

(For more on meeting President Reagan, see Marash Girl's blog post for Thursday, November 14, 2013, "Peter and Jennie Bilezikian, Calvin Coolidge, Ronald Reagan, John Travolta and Marash Girl".)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Licking the platter clean

It was not only Jack Sprat and his wife who valued food and what it offered to our lives.

Remember the daughter of Aunty, Aunty who had survived the genocide, Aunty who had survived hunger and thirst, Aunty who had struggled to make it in this country as an immigrant with nothing more than her wits . . . 

Aunty was rinsing out a can of Progresso soup to get the last tasty tidbit into the pot, and for that, was loudly criticized, laughed at, ridiculed by her daughter who was born here in the United States with all that the United States of America had to offer.

Remember Medzmama, using bread dough to wipe the bread dough batter from the sides of the kneading bowl, cleaning it so clean that it almost didn't need a wash.

Remember being punished for not finishing what was on your plate.  (Your eyes are bigger than your stomach).

We born here in the United States of parents who had jobs and income . . . we don't know what it is like to go hungry.

British Indian Troops Evacuation from Aintab, March 6, 1919

The following entry was written on Facebook by
Cesar Jacques Chekijian
On June 3, 2016 at 9:35am
After the end of WW-I and the fall of the Ottomans, the photo below is of the British troops pulling out of Aintab on November 6, 1919. Most of the British soldiers were Indians, which was a Commonwealth of the British Empire. The British had over 600,000 Indian soldiers fighting for them in WW-I. Most of whom were in the Middle East, fighting against the Ottomans. Within days of the "British" abandoning Aintab, the French military replacement them on behalf the Allies, who had taken over Turkey since 1918. BY end of 1922, all the Allies pulled out of Turkey, and the last French military left Aintab with all the Armenians late in November 1922.

British Indian Troops Evacuation from Aintab, March 6, 1919

Marash Girl's maternal grandparents were from Aintab, but luckily they got out way before the genocide began . . . perhaps as early as 1900.  She remembers them telling her about leaving on a ship, and all of the Turks begging them not to leave, telling her grandparents how much they liked them and how much they wanted her grandparents to stay.  But her grandparents (Yester and Garabed Vartanian) were wiser, and left, to settle in Cambridge, Massachusetts, invest in a three-decker house (47 Vassal Lane) in which they lived (on the third floor) and rented out the other floors. Her grandfather set up shop in Harvard Square, on Mt Auburn Street, near St. Paul's Catholic Church. An immigrant success story . . . 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Here's Mud in Your Eye, Part II

Perhaps the expression, "Here's mud in your eye!" (scroll down to see yesterday's blog post) is an oblique reference to John 9:6 (NIV) where we read that Jesus spit on the ground, made some mud mixing His saliva with the soil, and placed the mud on the eyes of the blind man.   “Go,” Jesus told the blind man, “wash in the Pool of Siloam. So the man went and washed, and came home seeing."  Was it the soil (which in Marash Girl's experience has healing powers to the hands that work the soil), or was it the essence of Jesus (His saliva) mixed with the soil placed on the man's eyes that healed, or was it the blind man's faith that Jesus could heal, that Jesus could restore his sight, that gave sight to the blind man?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Here's Mud In Your Eye!

"Here's mud in your eye!"  So they used to toast in "the day".  Interesting that the mud is only in ONE eye!  On the surface, a toast -- good wishes, but what is it's real meaning? Back to Jesus time?  A wish for healing? A wish for true sight?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Castle in Marash!

Mountaintop Castle in Marash [Photo Courtesy of Facebook's Birzamanlar Marash)

Marash Girl wonder's how many times Peter climbed the mountain to wander through the castle walls with his friends back in the day . . .

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dr. Seuss: From Springfield, Massachusetts, to Wall Street, New York City

Yesterday, while Massachusetts was celebrating democracy by voting in the primary elections, the children in Day Care on Pine Street, (just around the corner from Wall Street) New York City, and children all across America were celebrating Dr. Seuss!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Democracy In Action

Yesterday, in Newton Corner, Massachusetts, residents made democracy happen.
      N.B.  Poll workers in Newton Corner thank Nancy Vela for doing the Dunkin' Donuts coffee run!
Photo Credit: Marash Girl

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hillary Clinton Campaigning Yesterday in Springfield, Massachusetts

Congressman Richard E. Neal (locally known as Richie Neal) (left) introduces Hillary Clinton (right) in Springfield, Massachusetts, yesterday morning.  
Photo by Karoun Charkoudian