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.  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Happy Birthday, Nisha!


My Antranig's Antranig, announced Grandpa Peter every time he went to hug his first grandchild, Nisha!  Named after her father's father (who was born in Marash and was named Nishan), her parents wouldn't give her a boy's name, nor would they give her a long and arduous Armenian girl's name (often ending in "ouhi" tacked onto a boy's name), so they simply dropped the last 'n' from Nishan and named her Nisha.
Her First Home - 36 West Cedar Street, Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts (a long way from Marash!)
Her First Word - bud, bud-ger (her mother would repeat to her as they climbed the stairs and her hand would be trailing against the bud and pointing to the budger (bud, the word for wall in Armenian, budger the word for picture in Armenian)
Her First Memory -- The medallion in the center of the oriental rug on the second floor of 36 West Cedar Street, Boston, now on the living room floor of her family home in Newton Corner.
Her First Rides -  In a chauffeur-driven limousine from the hospital to her home on Beacon Hill, and soon after, in the antique carriage that her Aunties Arppie, Arax, Kenar, and her father Levon rode in as babies in Springfield, Massachusetts . . . a carriage which she rode "in style" through the Boston Common, where the homeless would reach out, wanting to touch her cute little bare toes.
Oh . . . and she's still as beautiful as the day she was born --  our blonde, blue-eyed Marashtsi aghchig!

Friday, November 11, 2016

How did Armenian children resist the genocide?

A friend recently related the way in which her mother, who grew up during the Armenian Genocide, contributed to the resistance . . . "My mother was only 8 years old when the Armenian Genocide began.  She wanted to help protect her people, even at that young age.  What did my mother do?  She used her slingshot to shoot out the windows of the local mosque, and from the shoes that were lined up outside of the mosque, she hid every right shoe." Luckily, she survived to tell the tale.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Walk In The Sun

Today's walk in the sun helped, but concern for the wellbeing of our country is overwhelming . . . understanding that we would not be here, our grandparents, our parents would not have been allowed in, had the leadership of our country in the past been what the leadership of our country will be in the next four years.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

MARTHA'S VINEYARD ON HANDS AND KNEES

While staying at the Harbourview in Edgartown, Massachusetts, Marash Girl had the opportunity to talk with one of the "cleaning" ladies . . . Why?  She (the cleaning lady) was washing the bathroom floor on her (the cleaning lady's) hands and knees.  "Why?" Marash Girl asked.  Why, indeed!  "Don't they have mops here?"

"We can get the floor cleaner this way."

Checking with the desk clerk, the answer to her query was confirmed.  "Oh, we have plenty of mops," he answered, "but the ladies tell me that they can get the floor cleaner on their hands and knees.  In fact, my wife tells me the same thing!"

Don't Forget To Vote!

Marash Girl is "womanning" the polls today, and she doesn't want her efforts to go for naught, so get out there and vote!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Next Block

Visiting NYC this past weekend reminded Marash Girl of the years she spent in the Big Apple.  Living on the upper West Side, she overheard the following on one bright October morning:  "Oh, yeah. There was a murder last night alright,  but nothing to worry about.  It wasn't in this block. . . It was in  the next block over."

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Dylan Marie is Baptized at Trinity Church, New York City

Apparently the water in the baptismal font was colder than the River Jordan yesterday and sent poor Dylan Marie into gales of tears -- which we'd like to believe was better than gales of laughter.  As Marash Boy pointed out, it's tough to "die and be born again" . . .  albeit into a new life, spiritually speaking, of course!  But she did it under the watchful eyes of her mother Meghan, her father Deron, her new godparents Nisha Charkoudian and  Corey Hoover . . .  And Dylan Marie survived the dunking to cry out the tale!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Frank Gehry Bulding, 8 Spruce Street, New York City

                  Frank Gehry Building, 8 Spruce Street, New York City - Photo by Marash Girl

Friday, November 4, 2016

Ges-Ges Armenians in Aintab (Gaziantep)?

The following comments are taken from Cesar Jacques Chekijian's post in Aintabtsi Armenians:
"Until 1915, in the 100% Muslim Turkish village of Jiblin on the Euphrates River near Aintab, the tombstones had Armenian writings, where large groups of the people living there were called “Ges-Ges” ("half-half" meaning half-Christians and half-Mohammedan). There were also “Ges-Ges” people in Aintab, who used to make donations to the Armenian churches during the holy days, asking the priests for prayers for their souls."

Marash Girl wonders if anyone reading this blog is "Ges-Ges", or if "Ges-Ges" Armenians are still in Aintab (Gaziantep) . . . If so, please click comments below and write to Marash Girl.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Romeo and Juliet, Marash Style

Recently, Marash Girl posted an article on ges-ges Armenians in Aintab.  Strange, though, because as Marash Girl remembers it, she asked her father many years ago, "What would happen in Marash if an Armenian woman fell in love with a Turkish man and married him? . . . . What would happen in Marash if an Armenian man fell in love with a Turkish woman and married her?"  His answer without pause:  "They would be murdered on their wedding night in their wedding bed."  Her question: "By whom?"  His answer: "By either the Turks or the Armenians or both."   

Whether this was a fact (as Marash Girl's dad came to this country when he was nine years old) or general knowledge, Marash Girl does not know.  What she does know is that her dad was very clear, very certain of his answer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Fresh air . . . ahhhh!

We city dwellers have forgotten what it is to breathe fresh air . . . Taking in lungfuls of clean air on Martha's Vineyard gives one pause . . . should anyone really be living two blocks from Exit 17 on the Massachusetts Turnpike, less than 8 miles outside of Boston?  But then, if we all moved to Martha's Vineyard, the game would be the same.  Beautiful views, but still no clean air for those lungs of ours. And even the views would, by definition, be clogged.  

Now why in the world would Marash Girl be thinking such dark thoughts when Martha's Vineyard is still a daily reality?  Perhaps because today the sun is hiding in a very clouded sky.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

TRICK OR TREAT?


On an isolated and dark road nearing midnight on Halloween, after a day of celebration, their trusty Volvo flashed:  "Check Engine"!  Luckily they were nearing the parking lot, not more than a half mile from their hotel, but it did give them pause for concern. Was it all that flaunting of 
Halloween symbols that had flipped to haunt them?