Saturday, October 29, 2016

Growing up with three languages, sometimes four!

Kind of fun, growing up with three languages, oh, and sometimes a fourth!  English and Turkish downstairs with Mummy and Daddy (Mummy had forgotten her Armenian when she was five because her grandmother came to live with them, a grandmother who knew no English and no Armenian -- only Turkish -- more on that subject in the future), English and Armenian upstairs (Uncle Paul had been able to study Armenian in school in  Marash before the war broke out), and English, Armenian and Turkish on the third floor where Grandma Yepros and Grandpa Movses resided . . . oh, and English, Armenian, Turkish and French when cousins from Paris arrived!

In fact, when Marash Girl was quite young, the older generation (her grandparents' generation)  either knew no English, or spoke heavily accented English, and hearing that evidence of life outside of these United States promised  a world of adventure for Marash Girl.

Friday, October 28, 2016


Well, in Marash Girl's case, the way to Marash Boy's heart was the hot dogs that her mother Jennie prepared for lunch on the first day Marash Boy came by to visit.  He loved hot dogs, and his mother, of course, would never make anything but wonderful Armenian food . . . shish kebab, losh kebab, kufte, sarma, dolma . . . But Marash Girl's mom made all that AND hot dogs, and why she happened to be serving hot dogs on that first day when Marash Boy just happened to stop by (his car, he said, had broken down in West Newton, and he didn't have a quarter to make a phone call for help) is the secret of a lifetime of happiness!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The problem with reading a good book

The problem with reading a good book is that you never want to put it down!  All else falls to the wayside!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What class are you?

Overheard:  I never even knew about "social class" until I went to Harvard, where I learned, in       Soc Rel 10. that I was "upper lower class"!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Armenian and the Armenian

"The Armenian and the Armenian" is best known for its last two paragraphs,[2][6] in which William Saroyan "unleashes emotional energy and praises the Armenians' ability to survive as a nation".[7] The original text reads as follows:[1]
The quote is often (sanitized and) modified; commonly, the phrase "see if they will not create a New Armenia" is added at the end. It remains unclear under what circumstances it was added.[8]"
My thanks to James Russell for calling this to our attention at a NAASR panel presentation at Harvard University on March 31st. 
And Marash GIrl's thanks to Newton Kupelian for the above.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Keep Your Toes Warm!

As the days grow colder here in New England, and as Marash Girl spent all last night trying to keep her toes warm, she was reminded of her father's warning.

"Don't stretch your toes beyond the length of your yorghan (quilt)!"  Marash Girl wrote to her dear friend Murat to learn the expression in its original Turkish . . . Murat writes as follows:  "Ayağını yorganına göre uzat."    (The saying exists in Armenian . . . any of you out there know how to write it?)  But what does it mean?  Can you help, dear reader?

As best as Marash Girl can figure, it means that if you want to keep your toes warm, you keep them under your blanket!  That's the metaphor, at any rate.

Okay . . . Now, dear reader, it's your turn. What is the true meaning of this expression?

As Marash Girl understands it, "Don't overstep your boundaries . . ."   Really?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Elephants and Ants, Marash style

"If your enemy is an ant, regard him as an elephant . . ."

Peter (Marash Girl's dad) and all the great Middle East scholars at Harvard quote this one!

But according to Google, this is a Danish proverb. How would the Danes know about elephants?  How did the expression go from Denmark to Marash?  More likely it was the other way around!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Good Recipe for Banana Bread

Couldn't find Grandma Jennie's recipe for Banana Cake, but Marash Girl has been using the following BANANA BREAD recipe to make use of those over-ripe bananas. The result is delicious.  If you want a more cake-like product, just add more sugar to the recipe below (2 cups instead of one) and replace some of that canola oil with butter.

Banana Bread Recipe

1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 mashed very ripe bananas (preferably the skin should be mostly black)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder (Marash Martha's recommends using both)
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp sour milk (add a smudge of vinegar to milk or use yogurt or flavored yogurt -- if you use flavored yogurt, you'll keep your guests guessing as to the "je ne sais quoi".)
1 or 2 tsps. pure vanilla (not the artificial variety) or lemon flavoring

Beat eggs; add sugar and oil.
Mash bananas well and add to mixture.

Into a separate bowl, sift flour, salt, baking soda/powder.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the sour milk and egg/banana mixture. Stir gently until smooth.  Do not over beat!

Bake in a greased pan at 350 degrees fahrenheit for about one hour, or until done.  (Test with cake tester to make sure batter is firm.) 

Cool well before slicing.

Marash Girl's recommendation?  Make more than one recipe and share with your neighbors!

Friday, October 21, 2016

When life gives you rotten bananas . . .

You know the old adage that goes, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"  But there is NO old adage that goes, "When life gives you rotten bananas, make banana cake!"  And yet that is the lesson that Marash Girl's mom taught her!  Even today, Marash Girl baked up 4 banana cakes (it only took about 10 minutes to whip up the batter, and another half hour to bake the cakes), banana cakes that made her local post master and post mistress very happy!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

And Speaking of Cemeteries

Every time we would drive past a cemetery, Grandpa Peter would ask the passengers in the car, a mischievous grin on his face, how many people are buried in that cemetery?

Everyone in the car would start counting and figuring -- using addition, geometry, algebra, calculus, or simply multiplication  -- and start offering answers.

Grandpa Peter would answer with glee,

"Nope, nope, nope.  How many people are buried in that cemetery?  All of them!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wise Advice

Marash Girl spotted a road sign offering wise advise to reckless drivers cruising over the speed limit on a narrow, curvaceous mountain road in Monson, Massachusetts:

"Caution! Cemetery Ahead!"

The sign is no longer present, though the cemetery is . . . !

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Happiness is a dishwasher!"

Emptying the dishwasher this morning while my stepdaughter was preparing to go to work, I quoted Marion C who years ago quipped, "Happiness is an empty dishwasher!"  My stepdaughter replied, without hesitation, "Are you kidding?  Happiness IS a dishwasher! . . . Not one of the apartments I've stayed in ever had one!"

Monday, October 17, 2016

Invest $1 to make $10?

Peter, as he got older, would be sitting in his living room with his feet up on a footstool, chatting with whatever visitor had come by for a bit of Peter's wisdom, and invariably the telephone would ring, and Peter would be heard to say, "I invest $10 to make $1."

"Whatever did the caller want?" the visitor would ask.

"My money.  He wanted me to invest $1 to make $10.  If his investment was so great, why was he wasting his time on the telephone?  Why hadn't he invested his dollars to make ten times what he had invested?"

Hear, hear!  And this was long before the Bernie Madoff scheme came to light!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Mosque in Gaziantep

Too sad to remember.  Gaziantep, (known to Marash Girl growing up, as Aintep, the city of her maternal Grandmother and Grandfather), this beautiful city, once the abode of an elegant, educated, Armenian populace, now strangely lacking that population. Hope the link works.  If not, simply copy and paste into your browser.  With thanks to Varteni for the link . . .

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Calling an allergist?

Marash Girl called an allergist to set up an appointment to find out what she was allergic to, if anything.

The intake person on the telephone asked, "What are you allergic to?"

Friday, October 14, 2016

Was she the model for this nautical figurehead?

Was the ancestor of this antique shop owner the model for this antique nautical figurehead?
Known as "Neptune's wooden angels", carved nautical figureheads, usually of women, wooden figureheads such as the one pictured above, used to be mounted on the bows of  ships  and were thought to bring good fortune to the ships on which  they were mounted, as well as to those ships' sailors.

The nautical figurehead pictured above was for sale in an antique shop on Route 6A, in Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, this past August. The only nautical figurehead Marash Girl has ever seen outside of a museum! It may still be there, if you hurry.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

"When a Church Becomes a Restaurant"

    Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
 "When a Church Becomes a Restaurant"
And the altar (not pictured) has become the bar!
     Photo by Marash Girl

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Kegham Mississyan and No-Cal Soft Drinks

For whatever reason, Marash Girl, chatting with Marash Boy yesterday, remember Kegham Mississyan and how he saved Marash Girl from a lifetime of artificially sweetened soft drinks.

Marash Girl and her cousin Pauline, many years ago, were fascinated by the introduction to the United States supermarkets of non-caloric soft drinks. . . certainly the perfect solution for young girls wanting to keep their shapely figures.  But no, not the solution.  Dr. Kegham Mississyan, Zabelle Mississyan's brother, recently arrived from Beirut, was visiting upstairs, and in the dining room when cousin Pauline and Marash Girl, early in their teenage years,  were celebrating in Auntie Zabelle's breakfast nook, shouting happily over their discovery that they could drink all the soda they wanted and never put on an  ounce.  Destroying all hope of such an easy sollution, Kegham warned them that the artificial sweeteners would do major damage to the health of the individual ingesting those drinks.  That, in fact, they may become more svelt, but, in the long run, did they really want to be skinny corpses? 

The warning stuck with them . . . they never ingested those artificially sweetened soft drinks.  And, yes, they did see the damage to the health of those of their friends who, in the hopes of remaining svelte, made a habit of imbibing artificially sweetened soft drinks.  God rest their souls.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Congratulations, Lorig! Once again, you ran the 70 miles for Prisoner Re-Entry Mediation!

They made it and the Baltimore Sun covered it!
 Lorig ran 70 miles, from Hagerstown, Maryland prisons to Community Mediation in Baltimore, Maryland, in order to raise funds for Prisoner Re-Entry Mediation, with many folks joining her for parts of the run, like Erricka Bridgeford, Councilman Brandon Scott, Hasson Barnes, Daniel Levine, and more. You can still donate to the effort to support successful prisoner reentry into the community by clicking here:

Note: Community Mediation Maryland's  conflict resolution programs help inmates stay out of prison for good by helping them repair relationships with their families. Let's all support this effort!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Election, anyone?

After last night's US presidential candidates' debate, Marash Girl received a text from her sister who commented (as a Trump supporter) that Trump was fantastic!  Today Marash Girl received an email forwarded by her brother that compared Trump's treatment by the press to the treatment of Jesus by the Romans.  Really.  Her brother and sister?

Needless to say, they are not in sync with Marash Girl or Marash Boy.  Whoever wins the presidency of the United States, (and Marash Girl is restraining herself here from making public judgement),  may s/he be presidential in character, a lover of all people (not a lover of all women), and knowledgeable about world affairs (not just finances).

May the Lord bless and keep us from hatred and idiocy!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

And a Turk Shall Save Them

Taner Akcam risks his life, like many before him, for the truth.  (See photo of Taner Akcam's slides below taken from Akcam's lecture discussed in yesterday's blog.)

As Peter Bilezikian was wont to say, "Not one Armenian would be alive today if it weren't for the Turks!"  He knew.  He would not have survived if their Turkish neighbors had not repeatedly risked their lives to warn, to hide his family.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Taner Akcam Presents Documents Proving Genocide of Armenians Ordered by the Turkish Government

Taner Akcam, Turkish by birth, presents documents proving deliberate effort (early in the 20th Century) at annihilation of the Armenian people by the Turkish Government. Above, Marash Girl's photo of Taner Akcam, Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies, Department of History at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, following his presentation to a sell-out crowd (although the event was, in fact, free) of a lecture entitled “The Memoir of Naim Bey and Talaat Pasha Telegrams: Are They ‘Armenian Forgeries’?” on the evening of Oct. 6, 2016, at the First Armenian Chuch In Belmont. His lecture gave visible proof: the telegrams were not forgeries. And Marash Girl joins those who ask, "Why has the west turned a blind eye to the human indignities occurring in Turkey today?"

As the Kurds are wont to say, "The Turks had the Armenians for breakfast; the Turks are having us for lunch."

Friday, October 7, 2016


  Rally for Cat in the Hat for President, Springfield Museum Quadrangle, Springfield, Massachusetts

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Apples, Apples, Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink!

Apples, Apples, Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink!  Whoops.  Wrong quote.

Apples, apples, everywhere and not a minute to whip up the wonderful recipe that Nisha shared with Marash Girl . . . the recipe Marash Girl is sharing with you today . . . 

Nisha's Apple Bread (modified from

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups apples (that have been peeled and chopped into 1/3 inch cubes)
1 cup vegetable oil (or butter, if you're feeling daring)
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare 2 loaf pans (or 8-inch round cake pans) with cooking spray.

Mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, sugar and eggs.  Add flour mixture and then mix in apples.  (Marash Girl would do this in reverse, adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients before mixing in the apples.)  Mix all ingredients until just moistened. Divide evenly between pans.

Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50-70 minutes (or longer if you're using a loaf pan; round cake pans take less time.)  

Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Nisha whipped this recipe up in minutes to take to a friend who was grieving, and the Apple Bread (Marash Girl would call it Apple Cake) did wonders in the cheering up department!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Garo Paylan Addresses Overflow Crowd In Belmont

Marc A. Mamigonian, (left) Director of Academic Affairs
at NAASR, greets Garo Paylan,  Member of the Parliament, 
Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Republic of Turkey.  

Photo by Marash Girl
Yesterday evening, rather than watch the Vice Presidential debate on television,  an unprecedented overflow crowd attended a discussion of recent developments in Turkey and the Armenian Community in Turkey given by Garo Paylan, an Armenian citizen of Turkey, Member of the Parliament, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Republic of Turkey.  

The lecture was sponsored by The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR)/Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Lecture Series on Contemporary Armenian Issues who advertised the program as follows.

Garo Paylan is a founding member of the People's Democratic Party and is a deputy representing the 3rd district in Istanbul. Mr. Paylan is also a member of Turkey's Armenian community and has long been an activist on human rights, Kurdish and Armenian issues. Prior to joining the parliament, Mr. Paylan served on the central committee of HDP and also served in the management of Armenian schools in Istanbul. He has long promoted bilingual education and minority rights in Turkey and has been actively engaged in raising awareness on discrimination towards minorities, the rights of the Armenian community in Turkey, Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, and especially on the Hrant Dink murder case. Mr. Paylan is from a family originally from Malatya and is one of the three Armenian deputies in the Turkish parliament. In this presentation, his first in the Boston area, Mr. Paylan will discuss recent developments in Turkey and the region, the challenges faced by Turkey's Armenian community, Turkish-Armenian relations, and the Kurdish issue.

Marash Girl attended the lecture and recorded it on her iPhone; at some point, she will attempt to transcribe that lecture for all of her readers to view on a future blog.  
What stands out in her memory?  When asked by an audience member whether not he feared for his life, speaking out as he did, he replied, 
                                    "To stay silent is not safe!"

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How We Get Our Names . . .

So there he was, the first of Grandma Yepros Kurtgusian's family to arrive on the shores of the United States early in the 20th Century.  "What's your name," they asked him at immigration.  "Kurtgusian."  "What?  What was your father's name?" " Haroutioun." "Then your name shall be Haroutiounian," pronounced the immigration officer to my Grandma Yepros's brother.  That gentle man later married beautiful Makrouhi, had a family, purchased a home on Edinborough Street in Newtonville, Massachusetts, and although he had wanted to become a physician, he became a barber. Why? Because the beautiful Makrouhi couldn't bear the thought of his leaving his family in the middle of the night to attend to his patients. (In those days, doctors went to the homes of their patients; not the other way around!)  Where did he barber? In the rear of Grandpa Moses' pool hall on Washington Street in Newtonville, where presently stands the New England Telephone Company building.

Monday, October 3, 2016

More on Grapes -- or, Serving Grapes Jennie Style

So there she was at the Armenian Library and Museum of America, viewing an exhibit of needlework sponsored by the Armenian International Women's Association.  (More on the exhibit tomorrow.)  And naturally, because it was the opening of an Armenian event, there was a table of refreshments, a table in the center of which was a large bowl of grapes.  But the grapes were in several large bunches.  What to do?  Pick off the grapes and leave the bare ugly short stems sticking out? That's what folks were forced to do.  There were no tiny silver scissors in view to cut off a short stem or two . .  .  

Where was Marash Girl's mother when the ladies were preparing this fruit bowl?  Marash Girl's mom, of course, is in heaven with all the saints, but when she was on this earth, she would never have put out a bowl of fruit with a huge bunch of grapes and no way to remove the grapes neatly.  She would always snip the grapes into graceful little bunches so that her guests could enjoy those grapes without denuding the bunches of grapes decorating her carefully set out fruit bowl.  

Thanks for the lesson, Mommy!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

No Notice: Friday on Maple Avenue

                       Overheard: "Now I know what it feels like to live in a captive nation!"

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Canada, Are You There?

According to Marash Girl's friend Hélène, the Canadian immigration office is inundated with inquiries regarding immigration to Canada, should Trump win the upcoming election!