Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Reprinting Eulogy for Peter Bilezikian, survivor of the Armenian Genocide, written by his son.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


PETER BILEZIKIAN, MORE THAN A CONQUEROR: The Eulogy read at Watertown Evangelical Church via skype  by Peter's son, James Peter Bilezikian.  Peter died at age 97 1/2 on March 24, 2010.

Anybody who was blessed to see and eat of the garden our father husbanded for forty years would know the pull the very first garden, the garden of Eden,  had on his heart.  Where there were stones and struggling grass and cabbage weeds that flourished and dandelions that ruled, our father planted a garden.  Each spring he would sift through the loam, which became blacker every year because of his nurturing, and pick out the rocks, then the stones, and finally the pebbles, and throw them into the ravine at the edge of our kingdom where the mulberry bush held court.  This garden was to the west of the three bee hives which guarded the back door of our property.  A century old apple tree, whose bark was dappled with age and seniority, reached over the fence from the yard of our neighbor, ‘old man’ Cogan, and shattered the illusion of separation of neighbor from neighbor, and sheltered the hives with a promise of an early feast of pollen and nectar.  The scent from their April blooms covered the hives and blew from a horn of plenty.  It announced the arrival of spring after a winter siege long enough to put recovery from the snow gripped land in doubt.  It was a victory of life over death, and the garden was its celebration.

Like the antediluvian mist that rose from the ground and watered the earth, the fruit of the garden rose from the ground, and hung from a design of poles and pipes and twine, never sullied by contact with the soil in which their roots were buried, ready to be eaten with the sun still smarting on the skin.  It was a feast, a moveable feast, of light and life.

One of dad’s favorite hymns that we would hear him sing impromptu on a Sunday afternoon, or a Saturday evening was…
In The Garden (first verse)
By: Charles Austin Miles, 1913
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
To hear this rock hard man break forth and regale his father in heaven always filled me up. To watch him, as a child, climb those cellar stairs that led up to our kitchen, caked in the black dust of the oil burners that he cleaned and bear the mark of the chimney sweep of a century earlier, or the West Virginia coal miner from the mile deep pits of bitumen, filled me with wonder and made my eyes wide when he surfaced to the sunlight of our kitchen and my mother’s smile and me and my sisters’ excitement at the return of our father.
Can you eat violin lessons?  That was the question his mother asked our father when he came home one day, reporting that his middle school would teach him how to play the violin.  But even that pittance to be charged was too much for his immigrant family.  It was from that deprivation that ushered forth the treasure of his soul stored up until he was fully grown and married to a beautiful foreigner (Armenian girl) from Aintab, via Cambridge Massachusetts. Dad made certain that all three children studied a classical instrument for 12 years by the time we graduated high school. When visitors arrived at our home, one, or all of us, were asked to perform on either the piano or the violin.  We children were our parents’ flags of victory over the enemy that had sought our family’s life.  The music that came from our hearts, from the fingerboard of the violin or the keyboard of the piano, was the sound of light bursting forth from the darkness that sought to overwhelm him and his mother and brother and sisters in their childhood.  The love of Christ sounded forth in those notes of the cherubs who were his progeny.  He and mother were more than conquerors.  They gave us life and life abundantly.
Dad would joke about his singing voice, and he was right.  He said the best song he sang and the one in greatest demand was ‘Far, far away’, the farther, the better.  Dad married Lucille Vartanian, Jenny to everybody, who, unlike himself, had a radio quality voice that sang out throughout many a day to the confusion of our friends who called us on the phone.  They would ask what station we were listening to because the voice and the songs were so pretty.  The two became one in their marriage, as was designed by our Father in heaven.  They protected each other from the hardness of the world.  Dad’s hospitality was equal to our mother’s welcome.
I can remember
the cool air seeping through the metal of our screen door, whose shape was
distorted after years of children running into and out of the house. The air
was of spring, an air that wilted in the mornings, after a few months, as the
days sailed into summer. I can remember the people arriving at our house, at
our small home, huge with welcome. It was the look on their faces, when my
mother opened the door, I always scrutinized the look, it was the look of
pleasure at the sincerity of welcome, and the attempt to hide their
excitement at their arrival on our shores, as it was not good form to be so transparent. They
knew they were entering a world of experience, as our house was a
museum of life where everything could be touched and upon which everything
could be gazed. There was conversation and laughter in our home. It was a
conversation that carved time out of the granite block of the darkness of
days. It was a conversation that never tittered, because it was not driven
by clock or courtesy.
That was the rub of it all. Father had suffered through ‘the granite block of the darkness of days’ and yet I never once heard anger or bitterness escape his lips toward the perpetrators of the crime against our humanity.  We were raised in a spirit of forgiveness that blew from the soul of our parents, souls in which the Holy Spirit made residence and which liberated them from ‘the granite block of the darkness of days’. 
Almost every Sunday afternoon there was a ‘thanks God, praise God’ that wheezed out of the lungs of Auntie Mary.  That was her signature arrival as she made her way through the house to our dining room to find us seated at a late lunch to find the chair that had been saved for her.  She was the kid sister of dad’s mother, one who had survived with them through the years of the genocide and the battle for the city of Marash.
It was these several things that informed my father’s and mother’s actions and which described their lives as our parents.  They walked in a spirit of forgiveness, of praise and thanksgiving, a spirit which came from their relationship with the Father in heaven through his son our Lord Jesus Christ.
That was how and why dad was able never to refuse a call in the middle of the night in the dead of winter from somebody whose furnace or oil burner was no longer working.   I knew that because the phone was in the corridor ten feet from the entrance to my bedroom. The ring would awaken me and I would hear my father speak, and the tone of his voice.  He never complained.  He got dressed, put on the layers necessary to survive the blizzard raging outside or the bitter cold of a forever winter’s night and like the Christian paladin he was, ride to the rescue of those stranded under a cold winter sky.  Because he and his family were rescued so many times while trying to survive Marash and the war against humanity, as rescuer, it never occurred to dad to send a bill to those he rescued.  Dad would have said that Jesus rescued us from our bondage to sin, and never sent us a bill, because He paid for the rescuing and the sin on the cross of Calvary.  Dad and mom were examples of those who grew in conformity to the image of Christ, to the mind of Christ.
When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment.  He said, ‘to love the lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and the second is unto the first, to love thy neighbor as thyself.’  Further on in the New Testament, St. John declares that any man who says he loves God, but hates his neighbor, is a liar, and his father is the devil.  Dad hated certain ideas and philosophies, but not people, not even the people who held those philosophies anathema to his thinking.
“When you are a Catholic, miracles happen.”  This was the evangelism for Roman Catholicism that daddy would hear often enough from Johnny Flynn, a close friend, and one of the salesmen that frequented Newtonville Electrical Company, the business established, owned and operated by daddy and his brother, Uncle Paul.  Johnny Flynn was six feet tall, 3 inches taller than my father, had those telltale Irish brown eyes that looked at home on the face of a boy, but always improbable on the face of an adult.  He was a spare man with unsparing freckles over all his face, faded, then, from the onset of middle age.  He was an average catholic for those days of the last years of the Korean War, if you counted the six children he had.  Dad never took issue with Johnny Flynn’s declarations of miracles awaiting any who were blessed to be Roman Catholic or might become Roman Catholic, or his attempts at proselytizing.  On Christmas Eve, 1951, dad got a call from a friend reporting that Flynn’s home had no heat, and had been that way for a couple of days.  Dad wondered why he had not been told by Johnny, a good friend, and then he realized, no doubt, Flynn was too embarrassed to admit he did not have the funds to pay for a service call.  Dad advised Harry Mooseghian, a protégé of his, to meet him late in the evening so they could embark on an adventure together.  When it was dark enough and late enough, while Flynn’s family slept, the two snuck into the cellar of Flynn’s home, through the unlocked bulkhead doors.  Sure enough, the culprit was a faulty oil burner.  Dad returned to his store, found a model identical to the one Flynn had, stole back into the cellar a second time through the bulkhead doors, and exchanged the good oil burner for the ruined one.  The following Friday, Johnny Flynn, visiting dad along with all the regulars that met there on late Friday afternoons for coffee and donuts, breathlessly recounted the tale of the miracle of waking up on Christmas morning, the week before, to a home well heated.  For two days the Flynn family had shivered through the misery of December cold that hovered just above freezing, and on Christmas morning awakened to a home delivered and resurrected from the dead of winter.  Johnny Flynn, flush with the proof of one more miracle in his life, and because of his deep affection for my father, tried again to convert Peter with, “When you are a Catholic, miracles happen.”  Johnny Flynn went to his grave never knowing the story of his deliverance.
Whether it was helping out widows locally, or Armenian orphans in Beirut, or anybody else the Lord called upon him to help, it was done quietly, always.
On March 24, at 1 a.m. Peter told one of his caregivers, that he was going to die that day.  He sang hymns off and on with her until 5 a.m.  Peter said he was going to be with his wife, his brother, his sister, his parents, and his Lord Jesus Christ.  At six a.m., he called for Irene, another caregiver.  When she arrived at the side of his bed, he looked up at her and said, “I am tired”.  With those last words on his lips, Peter Bilezikian passed into heaven.
Peter would be the first one to quote the following scriptures (Romans 8: verse 35, 37, 38, 39) as a testimony to where he was going following the death of his body.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Because Peter Bilezikian was one of the sheep in the pasture of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Great Shepherd, he knew that he would dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Let's go for a walk!

A friend invited Marash Girl to go for a walk.  That sounded like such a good idea to Marash Girl, so off the two of them went to Newton Centre.  But where to walk in Newton Centre?  Marash Girl asked her friend.

"Oh, we're just walking from the parking lot to the restaurant across the street!"

And that, ladies and gentleman, is a true story!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Never Forget

We shall never forget the Armenians who were martyred during the 1915-1922 Armenian Genocide.  We pray for our martyrs, for our people, for the world.

For a more complete discussion, see Marash Girl, Thursday, January 21, 2016: 

"If it weren't for the Turks, not one Armenian would be alive today!" Peter Bilezikian

Sunday, April 23, 2017

New York Times Article on Armenian Genocide reprinted here

For more than a century, Turkey has denied any role in organizing the killing of Armenians in what historians have long accepted as a genocide that started in 1915, as World War I spread across continents. The Turkish narrative of denial has hinged on the argument that the original documents from postwar military tribunals that convicted the genocide’s planners were nowhere to be found.
Now, Taner Akcam, a Turkish historian at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., who has studied the genocide for decades by piecing together documents from around the world to establish state complicityin the killings, says he has unearthed an original telegram from the trials, in an archive held by the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
“Until recently, the smoking gun was missing,” Mr. Akcam said. “This is the smoking gun.” He called his find “an earthquake in our field,” and said he hoped it would remove “the last brick in the denialist wall.”
The story begins in 1915 in an office in the Turkish city of Erzurum, when a high-level official of the Ottoman Empire punched out a telegram in secret code to a colleague in the field, asking for details about the deportations and killings of Armenians in eastern Anatolia, the easternmost part of contemporary Turkey.
Continue reading the main story
Later, a deciphered copy of the telegram helped convict the official, Behaeddin Shakir, for planning what scholars have long acknowledged and Turkey has long denied: the organized killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by the leaders of the collapsing Ottoman Empire, an atrocity widely recognized as the 20th century’s first genocide.

And then, just like that, most of the original documents and sworn testimony from the trials vanished, leaving researchers to rely mostly on summaries from the official Ottoman newspaper.
Mr. Akcam said he had little hope that his new finding would immediately change things, given Turkey’s ossified policy of denial and especially at a time of political turmoil when its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has turned more nationalist.
But Mr. Akcam’s life’s work has been to puncture, fact by fact, document by document, the denials of Turkey.
“My firm belief as a Turk is that democracy and human rights in Turkey can only be established by facing history and acknowledging historic wrongdoings,” he said.

He broadened his point to argue that much of the chaos gripping the Middle East today was a result of mistrust between communities over historical wrongdoings that no one is willing to confront.
“The past is not the past in the Middle East,” he said. “This is the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East.”
Eric D. WEitz, a history professor at the City College of New York and an expert on the Armenian genocide, called Mr. Akcam “the Sherlock Holmes of Armenian genocide.”
“He has piled clue upon clue upon clue,” Professor Weitz added.
Exactly where the telegram was all these years, and how Mr. Akcam found it, is a story in itself. With Turkish nationalists about to seize the country in 1922, the Armenian leadership in Istanbul shipped 24 boxes of court records to England for safekeeping.
The records were kept there by a bishop, then taken to France and, later, to Jerusalem. They have remained there since the 1930s, part of a huge archive that has mostly been inaccessible to scholars, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Mr. Akcam said he had tried for years to gain access to the archive, with no luck.
Instead, he found a photographic record of the Jerusalem archive in New York, held by the nephew of a Armenian monk, now dead, who was a survivor of the genocide.
While researching the genocide in Cairo in the 1940s, the monk, Krikor Guerguerian, met a former Ottoman judge who had presided over the postwar trials. The judge told him that many of the boxes of case files had wound up in Jerusalem, so Mr. Guerguerian went there and took pictures of everything.
The telegram was written under Ottoman letterhead and coded in Arabic lettering; four digit numbers denoted words. When Mr. Akcam compared it with the known Ottoman Interior Ministry codes from the time, found in an official archive in Istanbul, he found a match, raising the likelihood that many other telegrams used in the postwar trials could one day be verified in the same way.
For historians, the court cases were one piece of a mountain of evidence that emerged over the years — including reports in several languages from diplomats, missionaries and journalists who witnessed the events as they happened — that established the historical fact of the killings and qualified them as a genocide.
Turkey has long resisted the word genocide, saying that the suffering of the Armenians had occurred during the chaos of a world war in which Turkish Muslims faced hardship, too. That position is deeply entwined in Turkish culture — it is standard in school curriculums — and polling has shown that a majority of Turks share the government’s position.
“My approach is that as much proof as you put in front of denialists, denialists will remain denialists,” said Bedross Der Matossian, a historian at the University of Nebraska and the author of  Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty To Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire.
The genocide is commemorated each year on April 24, the day in 1915 that a group of Armenian notables from Istanbul were rounded up and deported.
It was the start of the enormous killing operation, which involved forced marches into the Syrian desert, summary executions and rapes.
Two years ago, Pope Francis referred to the killings as genocide and faced a storm of criticism from within Turkey. Many countries, including France, Germany and Greece, have recognized the genocide, each time provoking diplomatic showdowns with Turkey.
The United States has not referred to the episode as genocide, out of concerns for alienating Turkey, a NATO ally and a partner in fighting terrorism in the Middle East. Barack Obama used the term when he was a candidate for president, but he refrained from doing so while in office.
This year, dozens of congressional leaders have signed a letter urging President Trump to recognize the genocide.
But that is unlikely, especially after Mr. Trump recently congratulated Mr. Erdogan for winning expanded powers in a referendum that critics say was marred by fraud.
Mr. Shakir, the Ottoman official who wrote the incriminating telegram discovered by Mr. Akcam, had fled the country by the time the military tribunal convicted him and sentenced him to death in absentia.
A few years later, he was gunned down in the streets of Berlin by two Armenian assassins described in an article by The New York Times as “slim, undersized, swarthy men lurking in a doorway.”

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ian Nagoski Saves The Armenian Past!

Leon Charkoudian talks with Ian Nagoski about the Armenian picnic days of yore following Nagoski's talk on the old Greek/Turkish/Amrnian '78's he has collected of decades.
As I listened to my childhood unfold before my ears, I wanted to laugh and cry, dance and shout.  How could this be?  In the heart of Takoma Park, Maryland, the songs of my childhood?  The music that haunted the picnic grounds deep in the forests of Maynard, Massachusetts, here, decades later, minutes from our nation's capital?  Impossible . . . but no, possible and happening.

The talk was fascinating and if you'd like Ian to speak and play those old Armenian 78's at your Armenian event (or at any event), here is his contact info:  Ian Nagoski - 828-242-2763; his email is

Ian's presentation is without equal.  If you invite him to speak, you will not be disappointed!

From Whence the Flowers?

From whence the flowers?  

Marash Girl heard the doorbell, ran down to answer, . . . no-one there, and it wasn't Halloween.  It was yesterday.  But in place of a person were three bouquets of flowers, no name, no address, no card.  Thank you to the secret admirer who may just have delivered the flowers to the wrong address!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Snap, Crackle and Pop!

Was it 6th grade at Claflin School that the class had to come up with a clever ad?  Marash Girl can't remember which teacher assigned the exercise, nor does she remember her ad, but she does remember the ad that David Seeley presented to the class; she remembers it to this day and here it is, in David's own words:

Try Soggie Woggies, the new breakfast cereal.
It doesn't snap, crackle, and pop.
It just lays there and soaks up the milk.

Marash Girl still wonders if David Seeley made it up or found it somewhere.  Whichever is the answer, his ad worked as she remembers Soggy Woggies to this day, though she has yet to find it on the shelves of her grocery store!

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Randy Susan Meyers, author of the recently published novel, 
speaking at  Stellina's Restaurant in Watertown Square 

Randy Susan Meyers, author of the recently published novel, THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET, was indeed amazing and amusing as she entertained her audience last night at Stellina's Restaurant in Watertown Square, Massachusetts.  Although she grew up in Brooklyn, New York, she now lives in J.P. (Jamaica Plain, for those non-Bostonians among you) with her husband.

 Following the presentation, the audience was invited to join the author for dinner at Stellina's.     Those who purchased copies of the novel THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET found slipped into each copy a recipe card for Lemon Ginger Cupcakes, an inside joke with Meyers' publisher who once commented that women would, after all, only be interested in purchasing books on how to make cupcakes. (Not sure I heard that right!)  

THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET is described as "a provocative new novel by bestselling author Randy Susan Meyers about the seemingly blind love of a wife for her husband as he conquers Wall Street, and her extraordinary, perhaps foolish, loyalty during his precipitous fall."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sign of the Times

Above sign posted over the entryway to the bathrooms at Quebrada Baking Company/Coffee Shop in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Back From A Week's Vacation

Welcomed by the song of the cardinal -- or was that Grandma Jennie whistling to us from on high as she once had done with the cardinals, whistling her way through life, always a smile on her face, never a cross word.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Kahlil Gibran's Art Lives On at Durant Kenrick House

Drawing by Kahlil Gibran (above) of former owner of Durant Kendrick House 
graces wall of bedroom in historic Durant Kenrick House
Newton, Massachusetts

Kahlil Gibran well known work THE PROPHET was a favorite among young people of the 1960's!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Between Classes: Newton North High School Folk Singer Welcomes Spring

          Strumming between classes on a grey spring day- Otis Street, Newtonville, Massachusetts

Friday, April 7, 2017

Another sign of Spring sprung up today!

Driving home this morning, Marash Girl spied, along Washington Street, the first yard sale sign of the season!  A certain sign that Spring has sprung!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Oh, no! It's flu season again!

Beautiful warm days followed by rainy cold days . . . according to Marash Girl's mother, the perfect recipe for the flu.  What to do when you catch that cold?

Open all your windows and air the house out.  Just dress warmly and turn the heat up when you do this.

 Wash all sheets and blankets (all at once) in hot water and dry in hot dryer . . . also your daytime and nighttime clothing.

Air the pillows out by placing them on open windowsills and then throw them in the dryer and run the dryer at high heat

Run all stuffed animals through the dryer at high heat after placing them on the windowsills.

Wash your hands frequently.

If you are coughing or have a stuffy nose, steam up the bathroom and sit there breathing in the steam, or boil water and breath in the steam (at a distance, of course).

(Other suggestions gratefully accepted - please record on messages below.)

All this should be done in one day so there cannot be carry over of germs from one day to the next.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Active Hate Groups in the United States

Active Hate Groups in the United States . . . Did you have any idea that such a thing existed in the United States of America?  Marash Girl did not until she was walking through Brookline Village one sunny day and was stopped on a street corner and shown a map "hate groups".    And to her amazement, the highest preponderance of hate groups are along the Eastern quarter of the United States of America.  Yes, that's the United States of America.  The names of these hate groups?

1) The Ku Klux Klan (190 groups)
2) The Black Separatist (190 groups)
3) Racist Skinhead (95 groups)
4) White Nationalist (95 groups)
5) Neo-Nazi (94 groups)
6) Neo-Confederate (35 groups)
7) Christian Identity (19 groups)
8) Anti-LGBT/Other (184 groups)

In all, there are 917 hate groups in the United States, according to the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) - for more information and a map, go to

Now the question is, where is a map of all the love groups?  Those are the ones Marash Girl wants to know about!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

More Proof that Spring has Arrived

                 Celebrating spring: sidewalk artists Greta and Letty decorate Marash Girl's walkway.

And it's a good thing that Marash Girl took this photo yesterday, because the chalk drawings pictured above have gone the way of all good things . . . today's spring rains have washed the art away!

Monday, April 3, 2017


Today, is opening day at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox.

Today is the real First Day of Spring in Boston!!!!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Fishermen and Pickup Trucks

Marash Boy took Marash Girl out to Auburndale for breakfast today, her favorite place to go for Sunday's brunch buffet. They were seated right next to the large expanse of windows overlooking the Charles River.  But today the parking lot was full of pickup trucks with such license plates as 

What was going on?  Well, it turns out that there was a gathering of Castafare (cast afar, hey!) fishermen, an outfit "offering Cape Cod deep sea fishing charters for tuna, marlin, striped bass, and tournament fishing off of Massachusetts on a 45 foot custom".  The dining hall was filled with fishermen from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and a few from New Hampshire.  

Deep sea fishing?  Marash Girl remembers when she would go deep sea fishing with her father in Newburyport, on Plum Island.  They would board a fishing boat and go out into the deep; if they were lucky (and the captain of the boat had followed the seagulls), they may have just found a run of mackerel, mackerel who were hungry, eager to take the bait on the fishing rods provided by the captain of the fishing vessel.  (Marash Girl can't remember the name of the outfit  now, as it is no longer operating out of Plum Island, Newburyport, Massachusetts.) 

Marash Girl remembers one such trip when, upon feeling a bite on her line, she pulled back so hard that the line came up out of the water with the fish on the end of the line, a fish which went flying through the air, still attached to the line, and smacked the fisherman who was fishing from the opposite side of the boat, smacked him right behind his sunburned neck.  Was he ever angry!  He turned around in a rage and came stomping and roaring across the deck, only to find a little girl holding the fishing rod on the other end of the line that held that mackerel that had smacked him.  "She's only 8 years," Peter said benignly to the raging fellow, the rage quickly dissipating into laughter.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fool!

That's how we would start every April 1st morning at Claflin School in the old days.

"There's a tear in your sweater! "

"Oh, no!"

"April Fool's!"

And we would laugh.

But today, on April Fool's Day, 2017, all we need to do is watch the news to see what "our" fool is up to today, on April Fool's Day!

Would that we could laugh.

Friday, March 31, 2017

There's Danger in Being Too Friendly

Recently my friend Andrea from Brooklyn Heights visited.  While in Boston, she volunteered at the local theater to "meet and greet" those attending the performance this past weekend.  Her reward?  A terrible head cold.  Apparently she had extended her hand in greeting, shaking the hand of every visitor to the theater that evening.

Didn't she know about bumping (fists, not hips)?  Shake a hand and, if you don't wash that hand, the audience, every single person in the audience, will have shared germs with you.  Friendly, but not smart!  

We have to learn to "bump" our way through life . . . or wave . . . if we want to stay healthy in New England!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Schoolbag that Returned Home

A visit to Susan Lind-Sinanian, the textile curator at the Armenian Museum of America, uncovered this little bag, a bag donated many years ago by Marash Girl, but now relegated to a drawer of items not worthy of display (note the age toning in above photo, and, not shown, large age blotches on the reverse side.)  The bag was handmade and embroidered on handwoven fabric in Marash by Marash Boy's mother (née Azniv Sanjian) when she was a young girl. She carried the bag daily in Marash on her way to and from school.  The design is created by tiny crosses upon tiny crosses, an embroidery unique to the Armenians in Marash.

Note:  to see other examples of Marash "nakhush", visit the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Romeo & Juliet in a Teenage Girl's Bedroom

Talkback following the Classic Repertory Company's "contemporary" performance of William Shakespeare's Romeo and  Juliet.

Produced in cooperation with Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre, the setting a teenage girl's bedroom, the Classic Repertory Company hopes to bring the presentation of Romeo & Juliet into high school auditoriums, to encourage young folks to understand the relevance of Shakespearean Theatre in their lives, or at the least, the relevance in our lives of the classic Shakespearean drama, Romeo & Juliet.  Above a photo of the actors on stage during a talkback with the audience following the Tuesday's show:  (in no particular order), Siobhan Carroll (Juliet), Alex Casillas (Friar Lawrence, Capulet, Peter), Katie Grindeland (Mercutio, Prince), Ivy Ryan (Benvolio, Lady Capulet), Dana Stern (Nurse, Montague), Jon Vellante (Paris, Tybalt), Samuel L. Warton (Romeo).  Clay Hopper directed the show.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Secret of Persimmons

Marash Girl first encountered persimmons when she was a freshman in college.  Her dear friend Linda was the regular recipient of a large box of persimmons, persimmons which she generously shared with her friends.  But persimmons?  Pucker up persimmons? 

Linda taught us that to enjoy a persimmon, one had to wait until the persimmon was soft and squishy -- you got it -- nearly rotten.  Then the true flavor of the persimmon, the sweetness comes through . . . causing no puckering, no grimacing to the person who ventures a bite.  

Oh, how delicious . . . both those wonderfully ripe persimmons and those early years in college!

Monday, March 27, 2017

SEVEN TIMES SALT at the Boston Public Library, Sunday, March 26

Rather than making dinner, Marash Girl and her friend Andrea decided to attend a free concert at  the Boston Public Library.  EASY AS LYING - THE MUSIC OF SHAKESPEARE'S GLOBE presented by SEVEN TIMES SALT ( was a  witty concert of early music, humorously performed though regrettably sparsely attended.  The two friends had front row seats!

Matthew Leese, Baritone, waiting to perform 
  "When That I Was and a Little Tyne Boy"  
Photo by Marash Girl

l .to r.:  Daniel Meyers (recorder), Karen Burciaga (renaissance violin), Josh Schreiber Shalem (bass viol), Matthew Wright (lute).        Photo by Marash Girl                                                                           

Sunday, March 26, 2017

What shall we make for dinner?

Olive Oil?  Check.
Onions? Check.
Garlic?  Check.
Fresh green beans?  Check.
Tomatoes (canned if it's not summer)?  Check.

Put it all together, and you'll have the most delicious Marash style fasulya you'v ever tasted..  How?

Fry garlic (one clove) and onions (one or two) . . . or just onions or just garlic, (as Medzmama says that the Marashtsis never used both together in the same dish . . . or maybe it was just her preference. . . Marash Girl likes to use both. . .) in olive oil until translucent.

Add fresh green beans and stir until braised.  Add fresh tomatoes or a can of Italian (peeled) tomatoes.  Simmer until beans are softened.  Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and Marash red pepper (coarse).  Let fasulya sit overnight in refrigerator.  The sitting always makes the fasulya taste better.  Serve fasulya hot over freshly prepared boulghour pilaf.  Don't know how to make boulghour pilaf?  Tune in tomorrow . . . 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Making of Salad - The Test of a Worthy Dandigin

When Marash Girl was first married, she was in the kitchen making salad with Medzmama (Marash Boy's mother).

Having been brought up by an American-Armenian mother from Cambridge, Massachusetts, Marash Girl was acclimated to the joys of chunky "American" salad . . . but chunky American salad was not in the vocabulary of Marash Girl's mother-in-law, who was born in Marash.

Now this was a real problem for Marash Girl, because Marash Girl loved the crunch of the chunk of  fresh vegetables in a tossed "American" salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar; she had no taste whatsoever for the finely chopped Marash style Armenian salad of tomatoes, onions and parsley dressed with lemon juice.

But as far as her mother-in-law was considered, she (Marash Girl) had no taste whatsoever if Marash Girl could not produce a salad of finely chopped  parsley, finely chopped  onions,  and finely chopped  tomatoes . . . (not to put too fine a point on it!)

Luckily, Medzmama loved to make  (and eat) the Armenian salad, and Marash Girl loved to make (and eat) the chunky American salad, and, as they say, the rest is history!

Friday, March 24, 2017

But we're just kids. how can we help?

Marash Girl received a call from an elementary school in Fresno, California.  Seeing a photo of Marash Girl in the 1965 Civil Rights March holding a sign  which stated, "Armenians for Freedom for All", they emailed Marash Girl to ask, "We're just kids!  How can we help?"
Holding signs is one thing; acting on the signs is another!  When you see injustice in any form, do something!  Stop the bullying.  Befriend the friendless!  (Do you have the courage to do that?) Remember what Jesus said: "What you do unto the least of these you do unto me."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Words to the Wise!

Cold Call:  Peter!  Do I have a deal for you!  For every dollar you invest, I can get you a $10 return.

Grandpa Peter:  Mister, I invest $10 to make a $1 profit.  Goodbye.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Happy Birthday to the Spring of Our Lives!

Hello, Springtime!  Hello, Sweet One.  Hello!  and Happy Birthday with all our love!

Unlike most children, you were first held by your father, but then you were too young to remember -- only a few minutes old!

Do you remember being held and blessed by author William Saroyan when you were only a few months old?

Do you remember toddling to the front door to greet Papa, and when you arrived there, turning away, because you were so upset that he had been away for so long?

Do you remember toddling next door to visit Virginia Newes, our neighbor who adored you?

Do you remember how you loved to draw, and how amazing your drawings were?

Do you remember when you first picked up a camera on the top of the Wilbraham Mountain and started taking photos of the wonders of country life?

Do you remember barreling around the corners of East Longmeadow with your mom in order to get to the next yard sale, sooner rather than later?

Do you remember helping Uncle George pick apples -- you were his favorite apple picker!

Do you remember?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dancing through Harvard Square: A Politically Incorrect Blogpost

Many years ago, Marash Girl and her best friend Linda Jen were wandering through Harvard Square when they met up with some guys who were students at Boston College.  The guys insisted that all Harvard men were "fairies".  Marash Girl and Linda Jen vehemently contradicted the proposition.  "But look," they insisted as they pointed to a group of guys who were literally waving their arms, skipping and dancing down the street. . . "That just proves it!"

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Way It Was, Watertown, Massachusetts

                                                                                                  iPhone Photo by Marash Girl
Oh!  Almost forgot!  Happy first day of Spring!!!!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Listen up, Yeghpairner!

We Armenian-Americans would do well to remember our history, as survivors of genocide, as immigrants, we who would not have survived had it not been for the kindness of the stranger, for the bread shared by those who had barely enough for their own families, for the folks who gave us a chance to prove ourselves, who gave us jobs, who frequented our shops, who encouraged us to send our children to college, who believed in us, who encouraged us to keep on in the face of adversity.  

As the saying goes, folks, "Pass it on!"

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Amazing Grace

And speaking of being too religious (see  blogpost of Sunday, February 5, 2017), Marash Girl was having a very tough time with her data base recently, (she sells out-of-print books on the internet . . .) so tough that she feared she had lost the work of several years . . . When out of the blue, she received an order for a hymnal, and then a request for any hymnal that contained the hymn, "Amazing Grace".

Now was this God's way of reminding Marash Girl that there is no reason to get upset about much in the light of God's Amazing Grace?

The juxtaposition of the two occurrences sure put things into perspective for Marash Girl!

And miraculously, her database, though lost, was found!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Did you know?  Some say that Armenians went to Ireland well before Ireland was called Ireland, and that the so-called "black Irish" are descendants of that Armenian migration.  Whether this is true or not, it certainly is a wonderful story to tell those of my grandchildren, nieces and nephews, who are half-Irish and half-Armenian!  What a beautiful combination!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Jordan on Jordan

Marash Girl used the day after the snowstorm to pay off some of her bills via telephone, (as it was impossible to trek by foot or car to the post office).  The first such phone call was answered by a young man:  "Hello.  This is Jordan.  How may I help you?"  

Marash Girl immediately perked up.  "My nephew is named Jordan, after the River Jordan. What a beautiful name!  Did your mother name you after the River Jordan?"

"No," he answered, with some chagrin.  "My sister chose the name . . . she named me after Michael Jordan!"

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sun Shining On Snow

In New England, we're looking out of our windows this morning to a whole new world of sun shining on snow.  The famous Mark Twain comment comes to mind . . . If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a minute!  . . . Oh, and earlier this morning (or was it late last night?) the moon was shining on snow!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

La Liberté Pour Tous Avant Tout !

Reprinted from France Armenie No. 439 / Mars 2017.  Caption on photo in lower right hand corner reads "Lorig Charkoudian, Raffi and Aline, at the demonstration against the anti-immigration decree, Washington DC airport,  January 29 2017." If you enlarge your screen, you may actually be able to read the text!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Workers in Aintab, from Cesar Jacques Chekijian

Cesar Jacques Chekijian posted on Facebook (see below) in Aintabtsi Armeniansa list of Armenian shops that existed before the genocide of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks.  As Marash Girl's mom's family comes from AIntab (yes, Marashtsi men often married women from Aintab -- such elegant women they were!), Marash Girl was intrigued by the list below and wondered if any of the shops listed belonged to a long-ago relative.  Marash Girl's Aintabtsi grandma (Yester Bosnian) and grandpa (Garabed Vartanian) knew to leave Aintab before the genocide.  How they knew, nobody knows, but Marash Girl's guess is that since Grandma Yester lost her first husband (Bezjian) in an earlier attack on Armenians by the Ottomans in Adana, she (Grandma Yester) was hypersensitive to the warning signs.
Cesar Jacques Chekijian
March 7 at 8:09am

Number of Armenian owned shops in 1914. Each shop employed on average of 5 skilled craftsmen, exception being shoe-shops, which employed about the double the average:

Below is a list of the total of 684 Armenian shops, employing about 4,000 skilled professionals. The number of 4,000 corresponds to 4,000 Armenian families in all the parishes of the Armenian churches in Aintab in 1915.

Stonecutters 300
Goldsmiths 50
Coppersmiths 50
Bakeries 50
Shoes 40
Farriers 33 (shoes for horses)
Cutlers 30
Saddlers 30
Blacksmiths 25
Gunsmiths 25
Tailors 25
Smelters 22
Millers 4

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Replacing Obamacare: An Act Of Mercy Or An Act Of Malice?

Article below bAlex Newman (Patch Staff) taken from the Newton Patch, March 9, 2017 
WASHINGTON, DC – House Republicans revealed their long-anticipated bill to replace Obamacare this week, a necessary part of the party's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and update the nation's health insurance system. 
Already, the bill is facing pushback from both sides of the aisle. House Speaker Paul Ryan defended it on Tuesday, calling it an "act of mercy" and arguing that the bill would ultimately "collapse on itself" if nothing was done.
But Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a Democrat from Massachusetts' 4th District, flipped Ryan's comment on its head, instead referring to Republicans' bill as an "act of malice." 
"With all due respect to our speaker, he and I must have read different scripture," Kennedy said in an address to the Ways and Means Committee. "The one that I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, and to comfort the sick. It reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful but by how we care for the least among us."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Happy Birthday, Deron!

                                                                        Deron on the bus in his favorite city.                Photo by Marash Girl

There are many quotable Deron quotes.   One of Marash Girl's favorites?

Marash Girl:  Deron, do you want an English muffin for breakfast?

Deron (age 3):  No, I want an Armenian muffin!

Happy Birthday, Deron.

You are our favorite son, your sisters' favorite brother!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Knitting Needles to the Rescue . . . or, On the Bus to Yonkers

Many years ago, Marash Girl was living in the Bronx with her cousin, Richie, and her Auntie Gohar.  She (Marash Girl) would travel by bus to work every morning, the bus from the Bronx to Yonkers (New York, of course!)  On one very busy morning, Marash Girl felt something strange down around her legs (those were the days when women wore longish skirts); she reached down and pulled up a man's hand!  Looking at the man next to her, whose hand she was now holding high into the air, she shouted, "What was your hand doing under my skirt?"  His answer?  "That's not my hand!"

From that day forward, Marash Girl carried knitting needles in her bag, needles which were very visible stretching their necks well over her bag.  That was the secret! Never again did she have a problem with folks getting too close to her during rush hour!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Banning of Howard Zinn?

Marash Girl was good friends with Howard Zinn and had just been wondering, were Prof. Zinn alive, how he would be dealing with today's political atmosphere when she learned that  "this week it was reported that state Sen. Kim Hendren introduced a bill to ban the works of Howard Zinn from any school that receives public funds."

Are we back to the days when  the reading of Huck Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird  will be banned as well?  

Are we no longer the country of the free?  

Banning books is but one step away from the burning of books! And the burning of books but one step away from . . . Well, let's hear from Heinrich Heine on that subject:

 'A hundred years before the advent of Hitler, the German-Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine, had declared: "Wherever books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too."'

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Trip to the Franklin Park Zoo

When Nisha was a little girl, and Lorig was  even littler, still being pushed around in her umbroller stroller, Marash Boy took the family to Franklin Park Zoo.    The children loved the animals, even though the animals were all caged; the girls were particularly intrigued by the baby elephant.

Marash Girl, taking Nisha in hand, pushed Lorig in her stroller up to the  baby elephant's cage; Nisha stepped back a bit, while Lorig, in her stroller munching on her peanut butter sandwich, wanted to approach  even closer.  As Lorig sat in her carriage,  peanut butter sandwich in hand, the baby elephant  reached  out of the cage with his trunk for the peanut butter sandwich, and successfully grabbing it out of baby Lorig's hands, tossed the sandwich into his own mouth.    

And that, ladies and gentleman, is a true "elephant" tale!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Walk Along Wall Street

                                            A Midwinter Walk Along Wall Street                          Photo by Marash Boy 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Four Free Toppings!

One of the many delights of the grandchildren on their trips to Cape Cod was the local pizza shop which offered three free toppings every Tuesday. . . It had been years since Marash Girl had seen such generosity in a pizza shop, and now, she was in NYC with Marash Boy, awaiting the train to Boston, when Marash Boy decided to get lunch.  And guess what!  There it was, but even more generous!  Four free toppings for his pizza! What a wonderful surprise at the end of a wonderful weekend.  Marash Girl hastened to regale her granddaughter with the story, and yes, indeed, she too remembered:  three free toppings on Tuesdays in Sandwich, Massachusetts!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Saturday, March 4, 2017

"Blow the Man Down!"

Yesterday, making her way across the "Circle of Death" to cross over the Massachusetts Turnpike via the walkway along the Boston Marriott Newton, Marash Girl was nearly (and literally) blown down by the record high winds.  The experience, though a bit unsettling,  caused her to remember the fun days in the living room at 474 Lowell Avenue in Newtonville when her dad and uncle first brought home a record player and with the record player came the recorded sea ditties "Blow the Man Down" and "What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor" . . .

Blow the Man Down
Come all ye young fellows that follows the sea
To me, way hey, blow the man down
Now please pay attention and listen to me
Give me some time to blow the man down
What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor
What do you do with a drunken sailor,
What do you do with a drunken sailor,
What do you do with a drunken sailor,
Earl-ie in the morning!
These lyrics and tunes she sings to herself on occasion, even to this day.  What fun that recording afforded all six of the kids.   They would put the record on the record player, raising the volume as high as it would go, and stagger through the living room, pretending to be blown down by the wind, or to be drunken sailors, laughing and falling into each other, then laughing even louder.  What fun, those days!