Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sitting on the Post Office Steps in Beirut, Lebanon

Years ago, during Gail and Marash Girl's visit with cousin Garbis Dagermenjian in Beirut, Lebanon, the three were to meet in the central square in front of the post office.  Gail and Marash Girl were early, so rather than pace up and down in front of the post office (which they felt would be unbecoming of young ladies), they sat on the post office steps awaiting Garbis' arrival.

Garbis arrived soon after the appointed time, but his face was red with fury!  "Whatever was the matter?" the girls wondered.

As Garbis soon explained, the post office steps were, in fact, the place where the local prostitutes sat awaiting their customers.  How would two young and innocent American girls ever even guess at that reality?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Knit As You Fly!

They don't allow knives on board airplanes but they allow knitting needles?

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Music in My Life

After Auntie Zabelle first set me at the keys of the piano when I was in first grade, my parents took me to the All Newton Music School where I met Mrs. Beulah Bell who, coincidentally, lived on Lowell Avenue as well.  She was my second piano teacher, a teacher who was with me for 12 years.  In amongst those years, Mr. Parker who lived on Otis Street in Newtonville was the orchestra leader at Claflin School, (yes, Marash Girl played piano for the orchestra at Claflin School), Mr. Jurgelewicz was the leader of the orchestra at Frank Ashley Day Jr. High School, (yes, Marash Girl accompanied the orchestra and the chorus at Day Jr. High School), and then in high school, Donald March led the orchestra and kept Marash Girl on to accompany the high school orchestra as did Henry Lasker who kept Marash Girl on to accompany the high school chorus.  Even in college, Marash Girl accompanied the acapella chorus (only during rehearsals to make sure they stayed on key!)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

In a hundred years

How did Daddy comfort us kids when we were wailing?  Broken hearted? Scraped and bleeding?

Invariably, he would console his children with these words :

 "In a hundred years, you'll never know the difference!"

Some consolation!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Wild Front Garden -- No Grass to Cut!

                                                                                    Photo Credit:  Sarah Salter

Friday, May 26, 2017

Remembering Miriam Goldstein

One of Marash Girl's most memorable teachers was not really her teacher, although some students were lucky enough to have Mrs. Goldstien for English. Miriam Goldstein was Marash Girl's homeroom teacher in 10th grade at Newton High School, in a homeroom which encompassed students of all levels, from all walks of life, all religions, and all reading levels; the only thing they had in common was the first initial (B) of their last name.  

Mrs. Goldstein exuded caring for each student as she called the roll in homeroom every morning and read aloud a chapter from the Psalms to her homeroom class before she led them in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and then prayed with us aloud as we recited the Lord's Prayer.  Her caring was contagious; we all cared for each other that year.  Thank you, Miriam Goldstein, for being there for the students of Newton High School.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Yesterday Evening's Knitting Circle

Brother James called this morning to ask "Did your knitting party keep you in stitches?"

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Soul of an Octopus

Gail has been reading "The Soul of an Octopus".

She asks, "Did you know that an octopus has a soul, consciousness, but no bones, 3 hearts, and every arm has its own brain individually.  They are smart, escape artists and can be affectionate.

"If you wanted to be a philosopher and start thinking about what a soul is and what  consciousness is, just think about an octopus."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wedgwood and the Senior Citizen Center

Browsing the Resale Table at the Senior Citizen Center, Marash Girl picked up an unusual piece of what appeared to be Wedgwood and peered at the bottom of the piece to see if there were any identifying markings.  None that she could see, but it was still a pretty piece.  The woman next to Marash Girl took the piece out of Marash Girl's hand (gently grabbed?) and turning it over, said, "See, it's not Wedgwood!" as she (the woman who had grabbed the piece) proceeded to hand the antique vase over to the saleslady and pay the $2 listed on the price tag.

Monday, May 22, 2017

May the Lord bless you and keep you, Uldo.

Remembering that before he died, her father had told her to call Uldo should she ever need help with her book warehouse, Marash Girl picked up the telephone and called the phone number that her father had given her for Uldo and his wife Natalie.  Of course, many years had passed since her father had given her that phone number, but dial the number she did.
Uldo's wife Natalie answered the phone, surprised that Marash Girl was asking for Uldo.  "Uldo is with the Lord," she said.

Marash Girl is so sorry to hear of the passing of this wonderful, talented, kind and generous man, a good friend of the Bilezikian family,  a member of the Watertown Evangelical Church, Uldo Collella, who passed away in March of this year at the age of 85.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Growing up with Three Bathrooms

Not many people Marash Girl's age can claim the particularly luxurious accommodation of growing up with three bathrooms, but Marash Girl can!

Now maybe it's not appropriate to talk about bathrooms in a blogpost, but Marash Girl is going to attempt to do this anyway.

She grew up in a two family house which actually housed three families . . . a house  with a pool table in the cellar (more on that later), her family on the first floor (one bathroom with a toilet, sink and bathtub), her auntie and uncle and three cousins on the second floor (one bathroom with a toilet, sink and bathtub) and her grandma and grandpa on the third floor (one  bathroom with a toilet, sink and walk in shower!)

So, if the first floor bathroom was in use, up she went to the second floor bathroom.  If the second floor bathroom was in use, up she went to the third floor bathroom.  If the third floor bathroom was in use, down she went to the first floor bathroom, and by then, THAT bathroom would be empty.  Phew!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Johnnie Vaich: How to Select Your Best Photos!

Johnnie Vaich had a camera store in Newtonville Square.  It was there that Marash Girl bought her first single reflex camera and it was there that Marash Girl received her first lessons in photography.  The most important lessons she ever learned from Johnnie Vaich?  Take many photos of the same subject, and when you go to develop the photos, (yes, Marash Girl would develop her own photos in those days), "Don't try to select the best photo you've taken; simply get rid of the 'less than best' photos and soon the best will emerge."  

Thank you, Johnnie Vaich!

[More on Johnie Vaich in future posts, but today, Marash Girl must be off to a memorial service!]

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ice Cubes for your Indoor Plants?

Yes, ice cubes for your indoor plants!  Easier and safer than watering is to place ice cubes on the soil around your indoor plants -- the ice will slowly melt and the plants will welcome the refreshment, without getting drowned!  They can't sip wine, but they sure will enjoy those sips of water!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Nomad Story Slam at Newton Free Library

The Newton Nomadic Theater sponsored another Nomad Story Slam yesterday evening, Wednesday, May 17, at 7 PM at the Newton Free Library ... and, yes, it was FREE. (Even the refreshments were free.)  A special event being presented as part of the month long Newton Festival of the Arts, the theme of all stories was "out of the blue" and the night featured four invited guest storytellers:
Tova Mervis - Author of "The Ladies Auxilliary", "The Book of Separation"
Tom Lyons - owner of the NE Mobile Book Fair
Alicia Johnson - Pastor of the Myrtle Baptist Church
Linda Plaut - Director of the Newton Cultural Council

The guests were, of course, also welcome to throw their names in a hat to tell a 5 minute, true, about themselves, "out of the blue" story.

Linda Plaut - Director of the Newton Cultural Council

Alicia Johnson - Pastor of the Myrtle Baptist Church

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dreams of Superwoman

Marash Girl would often dream that she was Lois Lane (Superman's Lois) or Superwoman or Nancy Drew -- out there saving the day for a would-be victim.

She never did become Superwoman, or Nancy Drew, for that matter.  But she still loves reading murder mysteries with a heroine leading the way!

Any suggestions for books she may not yet have discovered?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The New England Fog and Uncle Paul

Growing up, whenever Marash Girl and her family were in the car driving through a heavy New England fog, they would remember and retell the story of Uncle Paul, who driving from New Jersey to Massachusetts through a heavy New England fog, was unable to see anything except for the taillights of the car in front of him.  That was enough for Uncle Paul, a fearless and well-practiced 1930's driver.  In the midst of his trip, however, the car in front of him stopped suddenly.  Thus, Uncle Paul found himself stopping behind the car he was following; he couldn't figure out what the problem could be.  Pulling up his brakes, and getting out of his car, he found that he had pulled up behind the car he had been following --- pulled up right into their driveway!  Where he was now he had no idea, but at least he was safe and sound at home, even though it was someone else's home!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Haven't heard these Armenian exclamations for many a year!

Ooof!  (That was said if you stubbed your toe or bumped into a chair or such!)

Okh! (That was said--the sound elongated-- for example, as an expression of extreme delight in drinking a cool glass of water on a hot day . . .)

Haven't heard either of these expressions since childhood!  Have you?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day to One and All (Fathers Included)!

Mother's Day at the Marriott
                                      Happy Mother's Day to One and All (Fathers Included)!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Growing up During World War II

Little Marash Girl would be sitting in the bathtub, hearing the whistle of the jets overhead, wondering, "Oh, is that the sound of an atom ball falling?"  That was many years ago, and thankfully, that was NOT the sound of an atom ball falling!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dr. Taner Akçam: The Story Behind 'The Smoking Gun'

                   Taner Akcam presenting yesterday evening at the Armenian Museum of America          [Photo by Marash Girl]
"A Presentation of Never-Before-Seen Armenian Genocide Documents" by Taner Akcam sponsored by the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research and the Armenian Museum of America,  attracted an large and attentive audience yesterday evening at the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, Massachusetts.

 "On April 23, 2017, The New York Times published an article about Taner Akçam's recent work. The article centered on an Ottoman document described as "the smoking gun," demonstrating the Ottoman government's awareness of and involvement in the elimination of the Armenian population. The document, acknowledged as authentic by the post-World War I Ottoman government, had helped convict its author, Behaeddin Shakir, as one of the masterminds of the Armenian Genocide. However, this key piece of evidence, along with other damning documents used during the post-war Constantinople trials of the perpetrators, vanished. Or so it seemed.
     In the course of examining the archive of the late Fr. Krikor Guerguerian, Akçam discovered that the Armenian Catholic priest had made photographic copies of Shakir's telegram and other crucial documents. This presentation at the Armenian Museum of America will present this and other documents that have never before been discussed in public."

Thank you, Professor Taner Akçam, for your unstinting research into the truth, the true history behind the devastation of the Armenian populations living in the Ottoman Empire.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Practicing Piano Under a Practicing Piano

Remembering her piano practicing days (she studied piano for 12 years of her life, and practiced for 1/2 to 1 hour almost every one of the days of those years), Marash Girl recalls the "jungerma" that occurred when she would be playing Bach and her cousin would be playing Chopin right over her head (upstairs),  at the same time.  That was an interesting concoction -- 18th and 19th century music made modern, and nobody was there to record it!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stretch Your Toes to the Length of your Yorghan

Got cold feet?  All you have to do, according to Marash Girl's dad, is to "Stretch Your Toes to the Length of your Yorghan!"  Now that could mean not to stretch out quite as far as you've been stretching, or it could mean to stretch even farther than you've been stretching.  Try even harder.  Work even more intensely!  In any case, that's the advise from the old country, the old country being Marash, of course!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Jangurma?  Haven't heard that word in a long time.  Is it Turkish?  Is it Armenian?  At any rate, it's the word that the older folks used when complaining about all the noise we kids were making!  Jangurma!  All those wonderful words thrown into our daily English made life so much richer than it may have been  , , ,  the words, the folks, the songs, the stories . . . How Marash Girl misses them!

Monday, May 8, 2017

First Impressions -- Splattering the Living Room Wallpaper!

When Marash Girl first visited the home of Marash Boy, before she was married to Marash Boy and before she had met his family, while helping to make the salad, she offered to dry off the lettuce leaves with a method that was certain to dry every leaf.  She hadn't tried the method yet, but she was sure it would work.  

The method?

Place the rinsed lettuce leaves into a pillow case.  Knot the pillow case closed.  Swing the pillowcase full of lettuce leaves in a circle over your head.  The lettuce will come out dry and ready to "dress" with home-made salad dressing.  (If you're Armenian, that would be lemon juice, olive oil, sait and pepper.) 

The problem?

The pillow case was old and as Marash Girl swung the pillow case over her head (it was cold outside, so Marash Girl and the pillow case full of lettuce leaves were in the living room of her soon to be in-laws), the pillow case tore open and the lettuce leaves flew  all over the living room, spattering the recently upholstered furniture, the wallpaper, the floors.   

That was her introduction to Marash Boy's family.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

From the Marash Book , a translation.

Bilezikjian Family
Hovhannes Bilezikjian’s father, Mahdesi Garabed Bilezikjian, has moved to Marash either from Persia or Armenia.  Garabed becomes a merchant, gets wealthy and after being chased by (beyeri) Turks escapes to Kesaria.  Garabed’s son was Hovhannes Bilezikjian, who had two sons, Garabed Bilezikjian (who died in Marash prison in 1896) and Nazareth Bilezikjian.

Garabeds’s children are, Armenag, Hagop, Arsen, Mihran, Haroutun, Hovhannes, Santoukhd and Zarouhi.

Nazareth Bilezikjian’s children are Haig, Hovhaness, Levon, Stepan, Mariam, Arousiag and Lousentag.

Havhannes Bilezikjian:  He was born in Marash, in 1826.  After finishing school at 17 years old he starts working as a merchant.  Establishing a huge import/export business.   He becomes successful, and wealthy.  Marash people call him Altoon Babase . (Gold Father)

Being sick he does not get involved with community affairs. But he donates lands to Secondary School and Soorp karasoun Manganzt (St. forty Children’s (?)) Church.  He does monetary donations too.  He dies in 1892.

Garabed Bilezikjian:

He was born in Marash in 1850.  Educated on his own, he continues his fathers business.  He was a church going man.  Being charged with helping with Zeytoon revolution he gets imprisoned in Aleppo but gets freed soon.  After 1895 massacre, he gets jailed again and dies in prison at the age of 45.

Bilezikjian family members Nazareth and Armenag Bilezikjian also were merchants.   They helped with community affairs. Milli (??) government has taken all their belongings.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Marash Girl NEEDS YOUR HELP: Losing Book Warehouse

Marash Girl is losing her lease on her book warehouse at the end of August, 2017.  As some of you may have learned by now, Marash Girl sells out of print books on the internet, the number hovering around 30,000, depending on the day!  

If anyone knows or hears of dry first floor warehouse space in the Newton, Massachusetts, area, please let her know!  Her books need a new home!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Not happy with the political . . . . . ????

Some 200 Brookline residents think there's enough evidence to impeach President Donald Trump.

The problem is, who would be taking Trump's place?  Look down the line . . . Will they have to impeach the next, and the next and the next?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Lilacs of Spring

Thanks to Marash Girl's children who gifted her this lilac bush on Mother's Day years ago.  More on lilacs in the next blog post!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Concert at the Armenian Cultural Foundation

Over a week ago, now, Marash Girl attended (first row seats!) a concert featuring New England Conservatory students  -- Canadian/Armenian Eva Aronian, violinist, and American/French Pierre-Nicolas Colombo, pianist.  Hosted by The Andreassian Music Fund and the Canadian Women's Club (Canadian Consulate), the musicians, New England Conservatory students, (Violinist Eva Aronian, Pianist Pierre-Nicolas Colombo) played pieces by Maurice Ravel, Johannes Brahms, Fritz Kreisler to name a few.  A cocktail reception preceded the concert which was followed by (the concert, not the cocktails) a social hour that included desserts and coffee.  An enjoyable Sunday afternoon!  And particularly enjoyable for Marash Girl, as the concert was held at the Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington, Mass., a foundation established to preserve the collection of her dear, long ago friend, Vahan Topalian.

Armand Andreassian introduces the event at the Armenian Cultural Center

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Memories of Tuna Fish!

As Marash Girl whipped up a simple tuna salad for Marash Boy's lunch today, she was flooded with memories. 

Whenever her mother, Jennie, heard Marash Girl coming in the cellar door to visit, Jennie would begin to fix a bowl of tuna fish with celery and mayonnaise  to make into a sandwich for Marash Girl for although Jennie was an amazing Armenian cook, Jennie knew that Marash Girl's favorite was . . . yep . . . tuna fish with mayo!  [Marash Girl and her sister Martha and brother James would feel so sorry for the neighbor children because their mother would put chopped onions in her tuna fish! Can you imagine?]

Fast forward to Marash Girl's college days and the tuna fish sandwiches that were offered at a little sandwich shop on Massachusetts Avenue . . . Marash Girl and Gail would trot over to the shop when the luncheon meals were particularly disappointing and order a tuna sub -- "Heavy on the tuna, please!"

And forwarding even further, whenever Marash Girl would begin to open a can of tuna in her Newton Corner home, her wonderful cat Pudd would hear the the sound of the can opener breaking into the can of tuna fish and she would come running!  Marash Girl would always pour the juice from the can over Pudd's meal (especially if it were rice pilaf), and Pudd would be purring so loud that you could hear her all the way into the dining room.

(Of course, we had to check the label to make sure that there had been no additives or preservatives!)

Yes, we loved canned white tuna fish -- (after it had been removed from the can, of course), but it was sad when we would be forced to face the reality of where that tuna came from . . . forced to face that reality every summer that we went to Plum Island and saw the fishing boats coming in with the proud fisherman pointing to the catch -- a nearly dead tuna fish!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Vanilla Prices Soaring?

Not again!  Marash Girl grew up in an era when her mom couldn't afford to buy real vanilla to flavor the wonderful cakes that she (her mom) baked.  Once Marash Girl realized this, she would splurge at Christmas time to buy her mom a bottle of real vanilla.  The flavoring was expensive, but it's alternative, vanillin, was so riddled with chemicals that in large doses, well . . . . you get the picture.  Why is Marash Girl remembering that today?  According to the Boston Globe,  "A massive spike in vanilla prices is threatening to drive the cost of an ice cream cone into the stratosphere."  Any chemist out there can tell us that the chemical makeup of artificial vanilla is very close to that of formaldehyde . . .               just saying . . . !

From Wikipedia:  Vanillin is a phenolic aldehyde, which is an organic compound with the molecular formula C8H8O3. Its functional groups include aldehyde, hydroxyl, and ether. It is the primary component of the extract of the vanilla bean. Synthetic vanillin is now used more often than natural vanilla extract as a flavoring agent in foods, beverages, and pharmaceuticals.
Vanillin and ethylvanillin are used by the food industry; ethylvanillin is more expensive, but has a stronger note. It differs from vanillin by having an ethoxy group (–O–CH2CH3) instead of a methoxy group (–O–CH3).

Any chemists out there who are willing to weigh in on this question?