Mary Holbrow

Cambridge MA
I'm a retired journalist, mother of 5, grandmother, birdwatcher, garden lover. I live in Cambridgeport, work as a free-lance editor.
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March 5, 2013 - 1:55pm “These charges are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.” A reminder of this basic premise of our justice system is routinely included in press releases from the office of Middlesex County District Attorney Gerard T. Leone, Jr. The principle of presumptive innocence, with its emphasis on proof, appeared to be the basis for Cambridge resident Marcos Colono’s defense on February 27 as he questioned the reliability of the fingerprint evidence that led to his arrest in a 2010 Cambridge home invasion and assault case. Colono is representing himself in the trial, which began February 21 in Middlesex County Superior Criminal Court, Woburn. On the 27th the prosecution presented fingerprint evidence that was key to Colono's being identified by name and arrested in October, 2010. He is accused of breaking into an upstairs apartment at 220 Pearl Street in Cambridgeport shortly after midnight on August 26, 2010 and attacking a father and son with a knife. He allegedly raped the 11-year-old boy and stabbed the father repeatedly. The charges against him were stated in a November, 2010 press release from the District Attorney's office: – aggravated rape of... read more
February 16, 2013 - 10:48am Photo, above: Young artists who worked on the historical mural at the Novartis construction site on Massachusetts Avenue were introduced at a Community Art Center reception February 13 by Executive Director Eryn Johnson (right) and Visiting Mural Artist Laura Smith (second from right). The event celebrated completion of the first phase of the mural project. So what’s it like painting a mural outdoors in the middle of winter? Half a dozen 7- to 10-year-old artists shared the story with guests at a reception at the Community Art Center (CAC) at 119 Windsor Street on February 13. They were describing work on the mural now taking shape in the construction walkway on Massachusetts Avenue between Albany and Windsor Streets. The kids are veterans of the newly completed Phase 1 of the project. They offered some survival tips. “We did jumping jacks.” “We wore warm coats.” “Hot cocoa!”   Their group leader, CAC’s visiting mural artist Laura Smith, noted a practical discovery: “Paint freezes when the temperature goes below 32 degrees,” she said. Photo, left: Mural Artist Laura Smith (r) with Novartis Community Core representatives Dwayne Quimby (l) and Kara Cournoyer (c) at the... read more
February 9, 2013 - 9:47pm This is no game - it's life or death. In this weather, house sparrows compete fiercely for a spot at a bird feeder. There's a waiting line down below on the railing at this house on Pearl Street. The need for energy to keep warm is at its peak now, just when food is hardest to find. Every house with a birdseed feeder has a mob of sparrows yelling and elbowing each other in the bushes nearby. According to a report from the Audubon Society, the kind of seed in the feeder determines to some extent whether it draws sparrows or other birds. Sparrows like millet, wheat and cracked corn. They are less attracted to the pricier mixes of sunflower and safflower seed that most song birds prefer. sparrows 2 from Mary Holbrow on Vimeo. read more
February 1, 2013 - 2:48pm The 1369 Coffee Houses at Inman Square and Central Square celebrated 20 years in business on January 26 with an all-day open house at both shops and an evening party at the Middle East Restaurant. Party guests included friends, colleagues, neighbors and former employees of the businesses as well as supporters of two local charities, On The Rise and Food For Free. The celebration included a benefit for the two programs, bringing in donations of some $10,000 that will be shared between them, according to 1369 owner/manager Joshua Gerber. read more
January 25, 2013 - 11:23am Local First of Cambridge wrapped up its annual charity drive, Think Local Thank Local (TLTL), with a party this week. Taking part in the benefit presentation at Christopher's in Porter Square were (standing) TLTL Chair Rachael Solem (l) and Local First's Executive Director Jaclyn Sinay (r). Seated in front, l. to r.: Martha Sandler, Executive Director of On The Rise, Inc.; Joshua Gerber and Gerry Wolf of Local First. The event, known as the Wrap Party, took place at Christopher’s Restaurant in Porter Square on Tuesday, January 22. “Here's how it works,” said Rachael Solem, the project’s chair. “Think Local Thank Local happens in November, during the Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas season. About three dozen businesses took part this year. They pledged a percentage of what they took in during that time, and tonight we’re turning that money over to a local charity, On The Rise.” Solem presented an envelope containing the donations. The label read: “On The Rise! $8,000.” “The recipient varies from year to year, but they're all nearby,” Solem said. “This year it's On The Rise; in other years we’ve supported the Cambridge Housing Assistance Fund and Food For Free.” Martha Sandler... read more
January 18, 2013 - 11:06pm The mockingbird perched boldly in a small tree at the corner of Putnam and Magazine, eyeing the photographer just a few feet away. In warmer weather mockingbirds look slender, but this one had its feathers fluffed up because of the cold. The time was a few minutes before noon on January 18; temperature was in the 20s. The sexes are similar in appearance; this bird has quite a big white patch on its wing, so it's probably a male. A few decades ago the mockingbird – officially Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) – was a southern resident. Now they’re here year-round, and in summer we hear them even oftener than we see them. The summer song is almost infinitely variable. Usually a theme is repeated several times and then dropped in favor of a new one; sometimes it’s an imitation of another bird’s song. However, at this time of year the call is likely to be just an occasional “chat . . . chat . . .chat.” Their accomplished singing has been a disadvantage to them in the past. According to the Cornell Ornithology Lab website, mockingbirds became very scarce in some places during the 19th century because they were trapped and caged as songbirds. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/... read more
December 12, 2012 - 10:07am by Mary Holbrow and Joan Squeri In the Dr. Seuss fable, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the sourpuss Grinch is determined to stop the joyful holiday from coming to the town of Whoville. He dresses up as Santa on Christmas Eve, sneaks into every house, and steals or trashes the presents and goodies. (Photo, above: Poet Populist Toni Bee as the Grinch in the Central Square Library reading) But not to worry – his mean-spirited stunt is a flop. On Christmas morning the Grinch tunes in to Whoville expecting to hear everybody wailing “Boo-hoo!” Instead, they’re all singing! Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!       “Maybe Christmas," he thought, “doesn't come from a store.        Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" Local youngsters joined the action with Cambridge's 2011-2013 Poet Populist Toni Bee as she performed a dramatic reading of the classic tale on Saturday, December 8, at the Central Square branch of the Cambridge Public Library. Like two-year-old Cindy Lou Who in the story, this young attendee (left), Julia, was curious about the Grinch. The story offers a counterweight to the commercialism of the holiday season. Toni Bee reinforced the... read more
December 9, 2012 - 8:53pm Photo, above: On December 6 at MIT a panel discussion titled "Occupy the Future" offered a retrospective look at the 2011-12 Occupy movement. Above, left to right:  Moderator Sally Haslanger of MIT;  Debra Satz of Stanford University; local entrepreneur Nadeem Mazen;  author/activist Christopher Hedges;  J. Phillip Thompson of MIT.Photo: C. H. Holbrow “We … are … the ninety-nine percent!” The rhythmic chant was first heard at Occupy Wall Street in New York’s Zucotti Park in September, 2011. Its message was disturbing:  the lion’s share of income and wealth in this country is controlled by 1% of the population, while the other 99% scramble for what’s left. Last Friday the movement was revisited in Cambridge at "Occupy the Future," a panel discussion held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sally Haslanger, Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT, introduced the program and speakers on behalf of the Boston Review and the lecture series “Ideas Matter,” which it sponsors jointly with MIT’s Political Science Department. About 75 people attended. Photo, left: Chris Hedges (center, wearing scarf), one of the speakers on the December 6 MIT panel pictured above, was... read more
November 19, 2012 - 12:10am Holiday programs by the Cambridge Community Chorus this year will bring the audience into the action at two special events in December. The first is the annual Winter Concert on Sunday, December 9 at 3:00 p.m., when the chorus and Music Director Jamie Kirsch hail the season with works by Benjamin Britten, Felix Mendelssohn, and Jonathan Dove at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. The Britten work, Saint Nicolas (see calendar item), includes hymns sung by the concert audience. A week later, on December 16 at 3 p.m., chorus and audience team up again in a free sing-along of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah (see calendar item) at St. Bartholomew’s Church on Harvard Street. Britten’s Saint Nicolas (1948), a cantata for soloist, orchestra, chorus, and children’s chorus, is a highlight of the December 9 concert. The work was composed for the centennial celebration of Lancing College in Sussex, England. The libretto by Eric Crozier recounts legends from the life of Saint Nicolas, fourth-century Bishop of Myra and the forerunner of our Santa Claus. Featured performers are Lawrence Jones (tenor), as Saint Nicolas, and the South Hadley Children’s Chorus conducted by Dr. Catharine Melhorn... read more
November 2, 2012 - 9:24pm Photo, above: Aaron Ladd #151 and Cullen Roberts #7519 came in first and second, with Brian Klein #7505 (photo, left, in orange suit) close behind them in the October 28 Superhero 5K Run/Walk in Cambridge. The three are already ahead; they have gone around Central Square and are headed back along Massachusetts Avenue to Pacific Park. Runners in the background above are going the opposite way because they haven't circled downtown yet. The event is organized by Have2Run Productions of Boston. Everybody involved felt super lucky to miss the onset of Hurricane Sandy, which was already shutting down the city for the following day. The three fastest runners in Cambridge’s 4th Annual Superhero 5K race on Sunday, October 28 were: - Aaron Ladd of Lexington, with a total time of 16:49.9 (pace 5:24 per mile) - Cullen Roberts of Boston, with a time of 16:57.2 (pace 5:27/M) - Brian Klein of Cambridge, with a time of 17:07.2 (pace 5:30/M) The three top finishers for women were: - Natalia Gaerlan of Cambridge, with a time of 18:57.7 (pace 6:06/per mile) - Amanda Watters of Medford, 19:47.2 (pace 6:22/M) - Emma Payne of Cambridge, 19:48.7 (pace 6:22/M) Start of the Superhero 5K Race, filmed... read more

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