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!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Sniper on a Minaret

At the meet and greet on Sunday, Peter Koutoujian asked about the story that Peter (Marash GIrl's dad) used to tell . . . Although it has been written earlier in this blog, it bears repeating.  It was an experience that both Peters (both the teller and the listener) would never forget.

Sniper on a Minaret

Yesterday's broadcast (WBUR's Here & Now) by Robin Young -- A Sniper's Look at Snipers -- was a fresh reminder of an experience that Genocide survivor Peter Bilezikian had as a young boy.

Peter was always courageous though hungry.  It was during the Armenian Genocide -- circa 1918 -- when 6 year old Peter, running through the streets of Marash, saw an Armenian woman baking bread.  He was so hungry that, although he had been taught not to beg, he asked the woman for a bit of her bread. Her answer:  If I give you bread, I'll have nothing to feed my children.  At that moment, a bullet whizzed through Peter's cowlick, nicking his forehead (the scar there 'til the day he died) and hit the woman baking the bread between the eyes.  She fell to the ground, instantly dead.  A Turkish sniper from the top of a minaret had done his duty.

Peter, young as he was, hungry as he was, grabbed all the bread, ran under a staircase, and, as he tells it, ate every bit of the bread.  He said he was not hungry for days after.  And he never, in all his life, refused anyone who asked him for anything.  He had learned his lesson.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Springfield, MA:
Springfield, Massachusetts       Elina & Iffar show their appreciation for Dr. Seuss!
                                                                                                Photo by Marash Girl

And yet another family link . . . Dylan Marie is celebrating Dr. Seuss Day at her Day Care, BRIGHT HORIZONS,  in New York City (although its headquarters are right around the corner in Watertown, Massachusetts!)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Meet & Greet for Scott Lennon, Candidate for Mayor of Newton, Massachusetts

On Sunday, February 26, 2017, over 25 folks from the Maple Avenue neighborhood in Newton Corner welcomed life-long Newton resident Scott Lennon, Candidate for Mayor of Newton, Massachusetts, to a "Meet and Greet".  Above, Peter Koutoujian (in the red shirt), Sheriff of Middlesex County, introduces Scott Lennon to the folks gathered in the 150 year old Newton Corner Victorian home to greet Scott Lennon.  (Scott Lennon stands behind Peter Koutoujian in the photo above.)                                                                                                      Photo by Ben Kaufman

"Scott Lennon, Councilor-at-Large, is now running for Mayor of the City of Newton. Scott’s roots in Newton go back at least 3 generations. He is a well-regarded community servant who has been re-elected for City Council President by his peers four consecutive times. Throughout his tenure, Scott has earned the respect of colleagues and constituents alike."