Thursday, June 30, 2016

When Life Gives You Rocks . . .

When life gives you rocks . . .  all of the farmers of New England were given rocks and what did they do?  They built the beautiful rock walls that line the back roads of New England.

But what if life gives you stones?

Peter, Marash Girl's father, had the answer to that . . . his back yard was full of stones and he wanted a stone-free garden, so what did he do? He gave a party!  Yes, a stone gathering party, a nickel a stone, with hotdogs and soft drinks for all.

Or, of course, you could always make stone soup . . .

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Caring for the Homeless

Overheard in a Springfield Park:

I'm leaving this empty Coke can on the ground outside of the trash can so that the homeless won't have to grovel in the trash can to retrieve it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Native American Walks Into A Bar . . .

There she was in Phoenix, Arizona. It was 2002.  (Back then she hadn't started writing her blog yet, so there are no photos or blog entries; only memories.)   She was lucky enough to hire a fellow to guide her through the petroglyphs outside of Phoenix.  The petroglyphs were magnificent . . . the petroglyphs, that is, that had survived the tourists . . . the petroglyphs that hadn't been chiseled out of the rock by idiots who wanted to decorate the fireplaces in their summer homes . . . 

Marash Girl got to talking with the tour guide.  He was a local, and a Native American.  Marash Girl asked him about his experience as a Native American living in Phoenix.  He told her the following . . .
"Just one example, then . . . My wife (a non-Native) and I walked into a bar and sat down at one of the tables.  We ordered drinks . . . she ordered a glass of wine, and I ordered a beer.  The waiter served her wine.  We waited.  The waiter wandered past our table, with never a glance.  My wife asked him where my beer was . . . The waiter said, 'Oh, no problem. . . it's coming.'  We waited another five minutes and asked again.  The waiter said, 'Yes, coming right out.'  This scenario repeated itself for the next half hour.  The waiter never refused to serve me.  He simply never served me."

(For more on this subject, see Marash Girl's Post for  Thursday, May 12, 2016  "Navaho in Harvard Square")

Monday, June 27, 2016

Pray With Marash Girl!

We are all praying for Chuck Bilezikian, who is in Mass. General Hospital, in critical condition.  May God be with you, Charlie.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Walking along Congress Street in Boston, Marash Girl came upon a cautionary sign warning her of a "hollow sidewalk", a phenomenon of which she had never heard.  By the time she had seen the sign, it was already too late to get off the sidewalk!  What was going on?  When she returned home, she turned to trusty Google, where she read the following:  "Below any ordinary looking Back Bay (Boston) sidewalk, there may be a basement vault that was once used for storage or coal delivery. While the city has the responsibility for maintaining the sidewalk, care for the structure below is in private hands and may not be up to bearing the weight of a vehicle."  As her friend Jack Hackett used to comment, "Yikes!"  Or, as this is Sunday, Marash Girl will remind all of us to "pray without ceasing", especially when walking the streets of Boston!
                                                                                     Photo by Marash Girl

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bad Boys?

Lorig called Marash Girl, so excited that her children were bad boys.   

Bad boys? Marash Girl queried. . . 

Yes, bad boys! replied Lorig proudly.  

Marash Girl was confused. Why would Lorig be proud that her children were bad boys?

To get the answer, Marash Girl had to check Facebook, where Lorig wrote,

"It's Raffi's first night as Silver Spring Takoma Thunderbolts Batboy. So far, so good. All bats have come off the field. Aline is also a batgirl so it seems I'll be spending my summer nights here. If you like baseball, come join me."
                                                                                                                                                              Photo by Lorig

Friday, June 24, 2016

Take me out to the ball game . . . .

                                                     Boston's  Fenway Park, June 22, 2016                                 Photo by Marash Girl
Thanks to Habitat For Humanity in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Stephanie Talanian who won the tickets to this Red Sox Game (The Sox almost won the game . . . ), Marash Girl got to be in Fenway Park this past Wednesday  . . . the first time in a very long time!

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Overheard at a local steakhouse:

"I had a salad. That counts as a vegetable, right?"

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vassal Lane, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Grandma Yester (Bosnian) Vartanian and Grandpa Garabed Vartanian, immigrants from Aintab in the Ottoman Empire, settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  They bought a three-decker house: 47 Vassal Lane, Cambridge, Massachusetts . . . the house where Marash Girl's mother Lucille Mae (known as Jennie -- that's Jennie with an "ie" not an "ey", Jennie would always say) . . . where Jennie, Lydia, and George grew up. Garabed ran a "Ma and Pa" store in Harvard Square (it was only Pa, though) and Yester rented out the first two floors of their 3-decker home in Cambridge.  They arrived as immigrants, and made it in the good old USA!  Marash Girl is so proud of them!  Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa.

N.B.  Somewhere in a drawer, lost long ago, is a photo of Grandpa Garabed Vartanian who played the piano in a band in Aintab!  He must be the source of all the musical talent in our family!  Grandma Jennie, though she never had a lesson in her life, could play any popular tune on the piano . . . by ear!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Leaving Aintab Before the Genocide

Not sure when, but Grandma Yester nee Bosnian had loss in her life early on.  A first marriage to a Bezjian ended in disaster as her young husband was murdered during one of the early massacres (mid-19th Century) in the City of Adana, Ottoman Empire.  Some time after that, she married Garabed Vartanian, of Aintab, and left Turkey to come to the United States (Cambridge, Massachusetts), early in the 20th Century.  One of Marash Girl's earliest memories is Grandma Yester describing her ascent onto the boat in Turkey with her husband Garabed as the Turkish folks on shore beckoned her to return . . . she said, "I knew what they were capable of . . . " (of course, she said this to Marash Girl in Armeno-Turkish) . . . "No way was I going to stay and risk our murders by these people."  Yes, Marash Girl must have been 5 years old at the time, but she still remembers her grandmother Yester's words.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Weaving to Survive . . .

"Armenian ladies weaving a rug at a workshop on Aintab's Sahveli Street, inside the Armenian (Hayk) sector. I would presume the photo was taken over 100 years ago. Some of these rugs took over six months to make." Thanks to Cesar Jacques Khekijian for posting the photo.
Click this link to see Marash Girl's post on her family's weaving to survive during the war in Marash. Her family from Aintab had fled before the genocide . . . more on that in her next post . . .

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Digging Up Maple Avenue 24-7

Yes, 24-7, the construction vehicles roar as they dig up this little dead end street, short and sweet, known as Maple Avenue.  (Yes, it's lined with Maple Trees.)  It used to be a quiet little enclave, with only the slightest whisper of automobile  traffic from the not so far off Massachusetts Turnpike.  But not any longer.  The construction is continuing until the gas lines get replaced, and continuing means the continuing roar of machinery, machinery that never stops, roar that never stops and will not stop for days until the project is complete.  Impossible to garden, impossible to think, impossible to sleep, impossible . . . .

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hit and Run On The YMCA Track

Hit and run on the YMCA track . . . not so uncommon . . . last week a runner running on the inside track (the slow track) clipped a walker who had been walking on the second ring . . . no apology . . . not even a thank you, ma'am!.  This week a little girl riding her bike around the YMCA track (illegally, by the way -- no bikes allowed on the track) hit an elderly woman smack on the back side -- (an elderly woman who had been walking around the track) . . . her father (the little girl's, not the elderly woman's) ran over and yelled at the elderly woman who had been the "cause" of the collision -- after all, his little girl was just learning to ride her bike!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Is Marash Girl planning a trip to Marash?

She says, when asked, "VOCH!  It would break my heart to see what was wrested from us!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Letter From The Past

Two friends -- friends from before the genocide in Marash --friends who were friends to the end . . . In the Marash book once belonging to Arppie Charkoudian, Marash Girl found the following letter, a letter from long ago, a letter that describes what real friendship is all about.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Stuck at a red light?

And speaking of a definition of a split second reminds Marash Girl of a story that Ronnie (Skip) Isaacs told her many years ago, a true story about his father who had stopped at a red light.

It seems that even way back then, the minute the light changed from red to green, the car behind Skip's father started tooting its horn.  Skip's father immediately turned off the car engine, got out of the car scratching his head, opened the hood of the car and started checking everything out.  Finally, after the light had turned from green to red and back to green again, he got back into his car, started the car up, and drove off, chuckling to himself!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Overheard: Definition of a Split Second

Definition of a Split Second: the time it takes between the moment the light turns from red to green and the moment that the jerk behind you starts beeping his horn.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Newest Lion of Marash!

Looking at an inventory of photos taken by Stanley Kerr, author of The Lions of Marash, Marash Girl arrived at the last photo, a photo which she could see at its outset was not like the rest -- it was in color and 5 times as large as the others.  How it got there, Lord only knows . . . because it was a  recent photo taken of the most recent Marashtsi in the family -- a photo of Dylan Marie!  And here it is!  Happy Birthday, Dylan Marie!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Are Bundt Cakes allowed on Airplanes?

Marash Girl had baked a bundt cake for her grandson's 9th birthday.  As she took it out of the cake pan to wrap it in tin foil and place it in her carry on, Marash Boy, horrified, exclaimed, "You can't take that cake on the plane!  It looks like a bomb!"  Although Marash Girl had never seen a bomb (only a hand grenade which her cousin Eddie proudly exhibited when he immigrated to the United States soon after fighting in the French Army), she agreed that she would not put the powers that be to the test . . . So her poor grandson had to eat store bought birthday cake, but then at least Marash Girl and her bundt cake were not detained at the airport!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Bumia (Okra Armenian Style!)

Marash Girl didn't know what to write for her blog today, but she did know what to prepare for supper yesterday evening, so that's what you're getting this morning -- Bumia -- not to eat, but the knowledge of how, for generations, Armenians from Marash and Aintab have prepared okra!  An why today?  Because yesterday Marash Girl happened on some lovely small fresh okra at the market. So here goes.

Heat several tablespoons of olive oil (or your choice of oil) in the bottom of a heavy iron pot.  Chop up one large onion.  When olive oil is sizzling, add onions  and sauté 'til lightly browned.

Rinse (approximately one pound of) okra in cool water. (Better fresh than frozen, better small than large -- the larger the okra, the tougher!) Trim off the stems of the okra. Add to the lightly browned onions and stir.  Add fresh tomatoes (if available) or canned whole tomatoes if you can't find fresh.  Stir.  Simmer for about 1/2 hour.  Add lemon juice (to taste), salt and black pepper and/or Marash red pepper if you have any.

Always better the next day, so prepare the "bumia" (pronounced bum ya) the day before you're planning to serve it.  Although last minute will do as well, because it cooks up very quickly. 

Serve hot over rice (we prefer brown) or boulghour pilaf.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Books in a Latino apartment in Spanish Harlem in the 1960's?

Books in a Latino apartment in Spanish Harlem?  Not if you were Puerto Rican, the only member of the family with education in NYC in the 1960's!  In those days, even though you had made it to a fancy private school in Massachusetts, and later to Yale University, you would never insult your family by taking books into the home.  It would be like telling them, "I'm better than you . . .", (in Spanish, of course!)  And Marash Girl learned this first hand from her dear departed friend, Ramon Santiago, may he rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

When it rains, it pours . . .

When it rains, it pours . . .
And Marash Girl is not referring to the old Morton's Salt advertisement!

Right after the downpour last night, early this morning, the very morning that Marash Girl had promised to ferry her grandchildren to school, the very morning when Marash Boy was away on business, the toilet (luckily empty of human refuse) let loose its water, the cellar flooded, and the     firemen were called to put out the . . . flood!  Luckily Marash Girl's German tenant knew about those things, turned off the water, and . . . well, as Grandpa Peter used to say, "After all, it's only water!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Ridge Road, Wilbraham, Massachusetts, not so long ago, had the most beautiful stand of white birches in the town, white birches on privately owned property, but the town came out with an ordinance (a good twenty or more years ago) stating that owners of property needed town permission to cut trees on their own land  . . . the ordinance to take effect in one month.  The owner of the most beautiful stand of white birches in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, cut off his nose to spite his face . . . whoops, Marash Girl meant to write, cut down his trees to spite the town.  Now there is scrub where there was once a beautiful stand of white birches.  Marash Girl grieves for the lost beauty every time she walks by the property.

Monday, June 6, 2016


       PHOTO OF AINTAB, CIRCA 1900              Thanks to Cesar Jacques Khekijian

Sunday, June 5, 2016


                                                                                             Photo Credit: Odd Andersen/Agence France Press -- Getty Images
New York Times, Friday, June 3, 2016:

Members of German Parliament Holding Signs in German that translate: "Acknowledgement Now says THANKS!"

Note appreciation of the crowd; note the Armenian priests in the foreground.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Day the Cows Came Home

Now that summer's almost here, our minds and hearts revert to Wilbraham and the good old days.  One image in particular stands out in Marash Boy's mind, and that is the image of his tiny grandmother (born in Marash, his grandmother Sanjian who gave birth to 12 children, 4 of whom lived, survived the genocide, who immigrated to Springfield, Massachusetts, summered in Wilbraham, Massachusetts) . . . his tiny maternal grandmother grabbing the ear of an errant cow, the lead cow leading its errant sisters right onto our mountain top, the land fronting our cottage, from the farmer's fields below, this tiny grandmother  driving the herd with the lead cow in tow,  to the breach in the barbed wire where she pushed the lead cow over into the breach, with the herd following into the meadow, back to the owners, the Netupskis, farmers who lived on the other side of the mountain.  You may ask how she could have managed, tiny as she was . .   It seems that Marash Boy's grandmother, when she married, was gifted two things:  a teacher who taught her to read (so that she could read the Bible), and a milk cow.  Though the cow was mountainous in comparison to Marash Boy's slim, 4 foot tall grandmother, the bovine was no match for Marash Boy's Medzmairig's determination.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Newton's Own "Charles Aznavour" Sings French Songs of Love

On Saturday, May 28, at 6 PM, Newton residents were treated to "An Evening of Romance".a concert on the green in Newton Centre featuring Samba, French Songs and Tango.

Above: Armand Andreassian, accompanied by Marisa Avelo, sings French songs of love: L'histoire d'un amour, Que reste t'il, and La vie en Rose, while Leon Charkoudian (seated in background) attempts to understand the lyrics that were in the language that he studied many years ago.   
Piano Painted by Franklin Marval.                                                                Photo by Marash Girl

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Drawer from the Past; or, What Tales An Empty Drawer Can Tell

Why does this drawer look so familiar? Where is it from? Marash Girl struggled to put the drawer in context.  It took Marash Boy to remind her of the story that the drawer told.  To prevent the then newly acquired antique Empire Bureau from being stolen from the never locked cabin, she had insisted on removing one drawer from the bureau that sat in the middle bedroom in their summer Wilbraham abode . . . a trick she had learned from her antiquing friends.  Whenever they saw a bureau on the sidewalk that they could not tote away without the help of a truck, the antique dealers would lay claim on  that abandoned antique bureau by simply removing one drawer, and taking that drawer with them, for, after all, who wants a bureau with a missing drawer?  We know now that tornados make no distinction as to whether or not a bureau has a drawer, a bedroom has a bureau, or a cottage has a bedroom . . . no distinction whatsoever, as the arms of the Wilbraham tornado, on June 1, 2011, took bureau, bedroom, cottage, and all, five years ago yesterday.

[And speaking of empty drawers, let's think about the 8 empty drawers in the desk pictured below, the desk without a top!  Not a tornado, but a family on Eldridge Street, a Newton Corner family that sold their house and emptied their garage, abandoned this desk full of empty drawers and untold tales . . . what stories those drawers must hold!]