Furbirdsqueerly got a note the other day from two of their favorite writers and travel specialists Olga and Bessy Marie. “Hey, guys and gals, we see you have opened up Furbirds again and we would love to write a story about our travels for you.” “Well,’ said the gang at Furbirds, “why not,” we always enjoyed the travelogues that came our way from Olga and Bessy Marie. One thing we love is to get postcards from our friends when they travel. We share in their joy and when a place strikes our fancy we check it out. Back in the day we had a large apartment. On one wall in the hallway we had what we called our post card wall. All cards we received, places that we traveled and any cards that met our fancy were displayed there. We have a wonderful photo of artists friends in NYC visiting us and all gazing at and admiring our wall. A collage of the world presenting itself to us each time we went into that hall.
Going Somewhere while staying in place.
by Olga and Bessy Marie
Summer was here and the living was never easy. How could it be for two old gals trying to get by on Social Security and a little bit of this and a tad of that, a few cans here, bottles there, a free lunch down the street at the senior center. Hey we gotta survive someone has to be a thorn in the foot of the establishment. Olga and Bessy were tired. Just plain tired. Tired of it all. Tired of the everyday struggle and tired of the world that politicians were presenting in this election year. ESCAPE was written all over the place. Not feeling like getting on their traveling shoes, packing any bags, coming up with some never found extra cash, and going somewhere both said, why not just go no where. So that is what they did they went nowhere or at least in what everyone thinks of, is going somewhere for a holiday. Nowhere but home is where they stayed. All alone in their cozy little apartment on the end of the street. Sure they went out and about grocery shopping, to do the laundry, to buy some presents for friends and relatives but most of the time it was stay at home and go nowhere. That is what they liked and it liked them so very much. So much as a matter of fact that Bessy Marie said, “Let’s include a fine art picture of nowhere just so our couple of readers can see what we saw on our nowhere trip”. So below is a little souvenir of our nowhere and what Bessy Marie and Olga saw when they were going nowhere. While they were at going nowhere Olga said, “Let’s play a little game of,”if we felt like going somewhere, where in the world would that be.” “ Well said Olga I could throw a dart at the map of the world and a dart would pick a spot for us to go to in our dreams. Got to do something while we are waiting around going nowhere. As long as the dart doesn’t stick in somewhere where one can’t brush their teeth all will be okay. I don’t mind smelling a bit as long as there are a few other smelly folks around that we could have our smell mingle with and come up with one big smell.” A new smell to bottle it up, call it crowd chaser and bring it to somewhere where everyone is overly clean and fresh. Chase the fresh and clean right out of the place. So Olga threw the dart at the map of the world and it landed smack dab in the middle of the ocean. “Well,” snorted Bessy Marie, “you had better try again Olga as I don’t swim and have not any plans on falling overboard from a ship and becoming food for shark and others that would love to gobble up fleshy little me. Out there on the deep blue sea rocking back and forth wave after wave would surly cause me to hang my head over the railing and loose not only my dinner but my breakfast and lunch too. Nah, Olga I have no sea legs at all and don’t plan on growing any. Nor am I a piece of meat with out feet that swims around and around, sleeping with one eye closed and one eye on the look out for anything bigger than me.” Even if I am an old crab sea life is not for me.”
Found Ocean by Olga.
So the old girl threw again. “Oh, please let it land somewhere I can talk to some native folks about their way of life and file a report with our travel bureau.” Well that dart flew threw the air with all ease as Olga had been a star player on the little league team way back in the day when she was coming up in Goon City. Olga was the only girl allowed to play ball with the boys and she taught them all how to play. The Goon City Trailblazers were number one for all the years that Olga played on the team and remained that way for as long as any of the boys that she taught the tricks of the trade batted and balled. Well smack dab the dart landed in the country of Armenia. Here is a map to show everyone where Armenia is located just so all of us will know where in the world we would go if we were going anywhere. We have gathered some interesting notes about Armenia from many sources we gather these in the service of the people without any malice, claims on the wors or thievery attended.
The dart landed right out side of Yerevan and we were pleased. Clapping our hands and saying yes we were on our way to an adventure in our minds. Two of our favorite fruits, and honey we know fruits, are very much a part of the nation of Armenia.
Flag of Armenia
Armenia is a landlocked country in the southern Caucasus. Located between the Black and Caspian Seas, the country is bordered on the north and east by Georgia and Azerbaijan, and on the south and west by Iran and Turkey. Though geographically in Western Asia, politically and culturally Armenia is closely aligned with Europe. Historically, Armenia has been at the crossroads between Europe and Southwest Asia, and is therefore seen as a transcontinental nation.
Mother Armenia is a giant statue that watches over Yerevan from Victory Park. This statue replaces a statue of Stalin and was dedicated in 1967. The statue was designed by Ara Harutyunyan and depicts Mother Armenia holding a sword; that is to reflect the high standing of the matriarch figure in Armenian families and also to commemorate some of the notable women who have taken up arms in clashes with Turkish troops.
Some facts about this land called Armenia.
The Republic of Armenia, covering an area of 30 000 square kilometres (11,600 sq. mi), is located in the north-east of the Armenian Highland (covering 400 000 km² or 154,000 sq. mi), otherwise known as historic Armenia and considered as the original homeland of Armenians.
The terrain is mostly mountainous, with fast flowing rivers and few forests. The climate is highland continental: hot summers and cold winters. The land rises to 4095 metres (13,435 ft) above sea-level at Mount Ararat, and no point is below 400 metres (1,312 ft) above sea level. Mount Ararat, regarded by the Armenians as a symbol of their land, is the highest mountain in the region and used to be part of Armenia until around 1915, when it fell to the Turks.
Modern Armenia comprises only a small portion of ancient Armenia, one of the world’s oldest centers of civilization. At its height, Armenia extended from the south-central Black Sea coast to the Caspian Sea and from the Mediterranean Sea to Lake Urmia in present-day Iran. Ancient Armenia was subjected to constant foreign incursions, finally losing its autonomy in the 14th century ce. The centuries-long rule of Ottoman and Persian conquerors imperiled the very existence of the Armenian people. Eastern Armenia was annexed by Russia during the 19th century; western Armenia remained under Turkish rule, and in 1894–96 and 1915 Turkey perpetrated systematic massacres and forced deportations of Armenians.
The portion of Armenia lying within the former Russian Empire declared independence on May 28, 1918, but in 1920 it was invaded by forces from Turkey and Soviet Russia. The Soviet Republic of Armenia was established on Nov. 29, 1920; in 1922 Armenia became part of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic; and in 1936 this republic was dissolved and Armenia became a constituent (union) republic of the Soviet Union. Armenia declared sovereignty on Aug. 23, 1990, and independence on Sept. 23, 1991. ( 1 )
Layout map of downtown Yerevan
The square was designed by architect Alexander Tamanian within the 1924 main plan of Yerevan city. The construction of the square started in 1926, replacing the previous square. The first phase of the construction was completed in 1929. It was further developed until 1952 and finally completed in 1958.
The square was known as Lenin Square. The statue of the Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin was erected in the southwestern forehead of the square in 1940 and dismantlement in 1990, prior to the independence of Armenia. It is now replaced with a large TV monitor.
The square is surrounded with seven major buildings:
- The National Gallery and the History Museum building (northeast).
- The Ministry of Finance (east).
- The Government House: holds the main offices of the Government of Armenia (east).
- The Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Armenia (south).
- The Armenia Marriott hotel (west).
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (northwest).
- The Ministry of Territorial Administration (north).
Due to its most central location the Republic Square in not only intersected by the main streets of Yerevan but is also one place every tourist visiting Armenia at least once appears to visit. Presently, the Republic Square hosts some of the most important state concerts with numerous people arriving from every corner of Armenia not only to enjoy the concert but also to admire the beautiful square.
Of special interest are the singing and dancing fountains. The list of the songs they perform is not limited only to Armenian songs but to foreign as well. If looked from above the oval shaped square with its stone patterns resembles a rug.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner we never miss a meal.
Now anyone who is in the know following our travels knows that we like to eat. Once Bessy Marie’s sister Ms Cassey Role said, “My goodness girls you both eat like a horse, how do you manage to stay so nice and thin.” Well we don’t know the answer to that but we do like to eat and even if we didn’t stay nice and thin we would still try what we like to try and then try something else. So we two and all of you dear readers know that when a person is traveling in a new land that one must try out what foods that the locals eat. No way around that. Even as amerikkkan capitalism is creeping into the strangest places us girls when we are out and about want to forget about that civilization that would be a good idea and all that we left behind. No we don’t go amerikkkan at all. Forget Mc Donald’s, (we don’t eat that even in amerikkka) no, no, to foot long hot dogs, (makes us burp hot dogs up all day so we say again no way), no munching on Lays (if we want a lay we are quite capable of rubbing each other for a start) and never will we feast on grilled cheese, can beans and jello. Nope not us gals, never on a Sunday or any other day of the week for that matter. So pray do tell us Bessy Marie, #1 sister of Cassey Role what is for lunch today?
We began our delightful lunch at a nice little cafe where we were served Sarma or stuffed grape leaves with rice and olive oil. The delicious stuffing was made from rice, onions, tomato paste, currants, pine nuts and the herbs parsley, mint, and dill. Cooked to perfection they were some of the best stuffed grape leaves we have ever enjoyed. We asked the cook for the recipe so we could make them at home but she said, “Oh no I just make them, it’s all in my head and you can see I am very busy today and will be for the rest of your stay.” Okay we said when we get home we will find a good recipe and make some and we hope they are as good as the ones you make. “Well,” said the cook, “just remember do not used any leaves that are torn and to hold down the filled Sarma with a heavy plate so they don’t start to float around.”
The main course was a bit more tricky as neither of us are big meat eaters so we had to settle on something that would do the trick but stay far away from lamb. Now of course we both were tempted to try the Shish Kebab as the folks sitting next to us were enjoying every bit, but as Bessy Marie said, “I don’t even like the smell of it, don’t cook it at home as it stinks up the kitchen and I don’t want a stinky kitchen.” We both decided on Red Lentil Kufta, fine-looking walnut size balls of Bulgar, RedLentils onions and scallions garnished with parsley which were a delight to our eyes and to our pallets. Just what the doctor ordered exclaimed Bessy Marie. Oh so very refreshing said Olga. We enjoyed a nice side dish of stewed eggplant and felt so contented that we didn’t know if we wanted any dessert. But along came the cook who we toasted with a glass of wine and toasted again and the cook brought to our table a platter of cookies garnished with walnuts. Well said our traveling girls we won’t need much dinner this evening, perhaps just a nice Falafel pocket. We both needed a good stroll after lunch so we headed down Mashtots Avenue the main street of Yerevan, to do a little people watching and shopping for something nice to bring back home to friends and family. Maybe we will stop at some little cafe for a nice glass of afternoon wine before we head home for a nap. Yes, we do nap on vacations as all the new seems to tire us out.
Martha Louis had told us of a little park of art where artists of Yerevan sold their paintings and there was in the center a large white marble statue of the father of Armenian modern art Martiros Sarian. Well we can always us a little art browsing and hopefully a bench to sit on to people gaze on any trip. When we arrived in the park it was a whirl of color, easels, display fences and paintings everywhere. My goodness almost looks like one big mess of art, a giant flea market, tag sale enough to make you go crazy, so many artists everywhere in the world why should it be any different here.
Martiro Sarian the father of modern art in Armenia. ( 2 )
USSR State Prize (1941)
Midday Stillness, 1924
Please take a listen to this beautiful music. Neither of us understand a word that is being sung but that doesn’t matter at all. This moves us both way past that border.
Old Noah built himself an ark and landed on Ararat’s top. Both of us like what God said after the flood and its a good lesson for all of us to gauge our conduct by.
“Blood is proclaimed sacred, and the unauthorized taking of life is prohibited: “For your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man…Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” Then God established his covenant with Noah and his sons and with all living things, and places the rainbow in the clouds, “the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Details from the Ebstorf “World Map”.
Drawn in 1250, showing Mount Ararat
and Noah’s Ark, located in Armenia
Is that the ark under all that snow? ( 3 )
We just had to do it. Check out this video Long Ago and Far Away found on you tube. Cute to say the least.
“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians.”…Adolph Hitler (4)
Haunting history of man’s inhumanity to others.
The Armenian Genocide refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was implemented through wholesale massacres and deportations, with the deportations consisting of forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees. The total number of resulting Armenian deaths is generally held to have been between one and one and a half million
Over one million Armenians were slaughtered, while the other million survivors were cast from their Anatolian homeland into a global diaspora that remains to this day.
“The shortest method for disposing of the women and children concentrated in the various camps was to burn them.” or in some cases they crucify them. ( 5 )
I saw thousands of innocent women and children placed on boats which were capsized in the Black Sea.”
The Armenians were marched out to the Syrian town of Deir ez-Zor and the surrounding desert. A good deal of evidence suggests that the Ottoman government did not provide any facilities or supplies to sustain the Armenians during their deportation, nor when they arrived. By August 1915, The New York Times repeated an unattributed report that “the roads and the Euphrates are strewn with corpses of exiles, and those who survive are doomed to certain death. It is a plan to exterminate the whole Armenian people.”( 6 )
After looking at some of the photo’s of the genocide and reading some accounts we can only say we pray for peace and an end to such barbaric actions. We like many others ask again and again why does men’s religions drive them to do such things to others? And as many others have cried out, Where is God? Why! Could any of us ever be so bad to suffer such a fate as this? We must join with everyone who says, We today will speak of the Armenian Genocide.
One of our favorite painters. Arshile Gorky
The Liver Is The Cocks Comb, 1944, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
We make it a point wherever we travel to visit any and all art museums that we can find. We want to pay tribute to the great Armenian painter Arshile Gorky. Ever since we were young students of art we have loved and admired the work of Arshile Gorky who we consider to be one of the most important painters working in america. We learn this about Gorky: an Armenian-born painter, who had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism. He spent most his life as a national of the United States. Along with Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Gorky has been hailed as one of the most powerful American painters of the 20th century. As such, his works were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss he experienced of the Armenian Genocide.
The Artist and His Mother, 1926-1936, Whitney Museum of American Art.
“I shall resurrect Armenia with my brush,” Gorky declared in 1944, “for all the world to see.”
Arshile Gorky ( 7 )
Gorky was born on April 15, 1904, in the village of Khorgom, situated on the shores of Lake Van in the Ottoman Empire.
In 1915 Gorky fled Lake Van during the Armenian Genocide and escaped with his mother and his three sisters into Russian-controlled territory. In the aftermath of the genocide, Gorky’s mother died of starvation in Yerevan in 1919. Arriving in America in 1920, the 16-year-old Gorky was reunited with his father.
In the process of reinventing his identity, he changed his name to “Arshile Gorky.”
The Plow and the Song, 1947
A folk Tale.
“Years ago,” Bessy Marie said, “I read a lot of folk tales from around the world. Some of the best were from Armenia. I gathered at the time that it was because of where Armenia was situated and being on trade routes stories traveled. Click on over and read a very interesting story, a story that can resound to each of us today. Here are the words of Anait a shepherd’s daughter whom the king’s son Prince Vatchagan fell in love with and wanted to marry. Anait had met the king’s son at a well where she displayed her knowledge of many things all the while not knowing who the man was. When king and queen sent Prince Vatchagan’s servant and two nobles to ask for the hand of Anait in marriage the following conversation was had.
”He is a very nice young man. But let me ask you one thing: Does he know a trade?”
“Anait, he is the King’s son. All citizens are his servants. He doesn’t have to know a trade.”
”That is so, but even a master can at times be forced to become a servant. Everyone should know a trade – be he king, or servant, or prince.”
The noblemen were very surprised at Anait’s words.
”Then you refuse to marry the King’s son because he knows no trade?” asked the noblemen.
”Yes. Take back all the presents you brought with you. Tell the King’s son that I like him well enough, but, may he forgive me! I have sworn never to marry a man who knows no trade.”
To read the rest of this very beautiful folktale please click on over to HERE.
( 1 ) Read about Armenia HERE.
( 2 ) For more on the wonderful works of Martiros Sarian see the M. Sarian House-Museum HERE.
( 3 ) Searches for Noah’s Art. Searches for Noah’s Ark, sometimes referred to as arkeology, have been made from at least the time of Eusebius (c.275–339 CE) to the present day. Despite many expeditions, no scientific evidence of the ark has been found. The practice is regarded aspseudoscience and pseudoarchaeology.
( 4 ) See: Kevork B. Bardakjian, Hitler and the Armenian Genocide (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Zoryan Institute, 1985). Hitler said;
“I have issued the command — and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad — that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in readiness — for the present only in the East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
( 5 ) In his post on the genocide, (The Forgotten Genocide: Why It Matters Today) Raymond Ibrahim recounted the story of a woman who claimed to have witnessed the brutal crucifixion of 16 young girls.
In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem (which agrees with Islam’s rules of war). Unlike thousands of other Armenian girls who were discarded after being defiled, she managed to escape. In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified: “Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.” Such scenes were portrayed in the 1919 documentary filmAuction of Souls, some of which is based on Mardiganian’s memoirs. For a review of the Genocide check out this excellent article. The Armenian Genocide by Mediachechecker. ( 6 )
( 7 ) Arshile Gorky- for a history of this artist see HERE.
Note 2. We will be traveling up north in the coming months and hope to do a write up of our little vacation.