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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Recently posted by mholbrow

June 7, 2012 - 11:47am Photo: This garden will be part of the Secret Gardens of Cambridge tour, coming up on Sunday. A bumblebee stopped in early to check out the foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). Many of the people who will take this week-end’s Secret Gardens of Cambridge tour discovered the joys of the garden as kids, when they found Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 classic, The Secret Garden, in the children's room at the library. (See illustration at the bottom of the page.) This year's tour, a biennial benefit for the Cambridge Public Library, is Sunday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bright weather is forecast. “It’s going to be great,” organizer Bruce Mays says. “Eighteen of the gardens are absolutely new to the tour, and there are a number of others that haven’t been on it for years.” “This tour also has four ‘open secret’ gardens,” he adds. “They are right along the street, not behind fences.” Photos from a couple of them are included here; their whereabouts will be revealed for the tour, but until then, of course, it’s a secret. Cambridge's secret gardens are located all across the city, from Strawberry Hill to Cambridgeport. Mays tried to group them near each other, “so people can see... read more
May 10, 2012 - 1:50pm Chef Barry Maiden (photo, above) of the Hungry Mother restaurant in Kendall Square was excited about the new catfish. It was just in:   wild-caught blue catfish from the Rappahannock River in Virginia, his home state. “As of tonight, it’s on the menu!” If you’re a fan of traditional Southern cooking, or of good eating in general, Hungry Mother, located at 233 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue (, would naturally be your place to take Mom on Mother’s Day for a dinner of fried catfish—provided you have a reservation already. But be warned -- although it's a welcoming kind of place, the dining room is already full up for Sunday. Maiden was working alongside the kitchen staff when I stopped in Wednesday afternoon. Hungry Mother opens at five, but his co-owners in the business -- Rachel Miller-Munzer, her husband Alon Munzer, and John Kessen -- were already busy out front with details of settings, seating, reservations, and the serious wine and beer list. Maiden stepped into the cooler and came out with a hefty slab of the firm white-fleshed fish to show me. “The texture and the flavor are just wonderful – very fresh-tasting,” he said happily. The cuisine... read more
April 21, 2012 - 10:48am Why is the planet Mars red? “Because it’s rusty.” Astronomy hobbyist Christine Moulen (standing, above) was helping Slava Arabagi of Brighton to get a look through one of five telescopes set up in front of City Hall last night. Her telescope was trained on Mars. Iron oxide is plentiful in the soil of the planet, Moulen explained. The rust color helps us to identify Mars in the night sky. Moulen is a member of the Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston, Inc., a.k.a. ATMoB.  The organization hosted the viewing event titled Urban Astronomy on Friday evening, April 20, which was Day 1 of the 10-day Cambridge Science Festival. Slava Arabagi was one of some forty adults and kids lined up around the instruments at about 10 p.m. The City Hall lawn was one of ATMoB’s two viewing stations; the other was at Harvard Square. Mars, the planet Arabagi is looking at, was named by the Romans after their god of war because of its ruddy color, as described in Shakespeare’s Henry IV:  “The mailèd Mars shall on his altar sit/ Up to the ears in blood.” Viewing conditions Friday night were unusually good for this urban area, with heavenly bodies showing up well despite some haze and occasional clouds... read more
April 11, 2012 - 7:56pm   Photos: On The Rise President Carol Goss (above, right) said farewell during the meeting to Gerry Wolf and Alexander Walley, both stepping down after long service on the organization's Board of Directors. Wolf, shown above with Goss, has been on the board since 2001 and served for several years as Treasurer;  a Medford resident, he is the founder of the 1369 Coffee Houses in Cambridge. Goss presented him with a painting of On The Rise by a program participant. She also expressed appreciation for the service of Dr. Walley (left, shown at an On The Rise event in 2010). Walley, who could not be present, has been a board member since 2005. He is a physician at the Boston Medical Center. by Mary Holbrow Economy down. Homeless numbers up. That was one story that emerged at On The Rise’s Annual Community Meeting, held yesterday morning at Cambridge’s Main Library. But a larger, richer story surfaced at the same time – a story about women getting help, making it through tough times, and going on to give others a hand. On The Rise, Inc., located at 341 Broadway in Cambridge, is a non-profit organization that assists area women facing challenges that include... read more
March 18, 2012 - 7:03pm Photo: Caroline Whitney of Cambridge took a minute from her duties at the Boston Flower Show to try out the bench in the spring garden at this year's Massachusetts Horticultural Society booth. As we speak, garden lovers are saying goodbye to the 2012 Boston Flower and Garden Show. Today -- March 18 -- is the end of its 5-day run in the Seaport World Trade Center at 200 Seaport Boulevard. Cambridge residents Caroline Whitney and Karen Forslund Falb are long-time active participants in the show. Like perennial flowering plants, they keep coming back. Caroline Whitney is a Cambridge resident and the owner of Dandy Lion Designs, specializing in garden design and maintenance and floral arrangements; she also creates commissioned art works on porcelain. She has been involved in Flower Show activities for more than twenty years as administrator, exhibitor, and volunteer. She co-chairs the Board of Overseers of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, commonly known as Mass Hort. Yesterday Whitney was busy at Mass Hort's booth in the show-- guiding visitors, answering questions about the Society’s history and activities, and coordinating with the Massachusetts Master Gardener... read more
March 9, 2012 - 10:14pm Photo: Paintings by Lori Lander are on view at the Marran Gallery at Lesley University. Cambridge artist Lori Lander is celebrating Women’s History Month with a show of her paintings at Lesley University’s Marran Gallery. Titled "The Work of Women: Daily Rhythms and Rituals in Bali," the show runs through March 16. The gallery is in Wolford House on the Lesley University quadrangle; entry is at 34 Mellen Street near the intersection with Oxford Street. Lander has visited Bali several times since she first went there in 1978, when she was captivated by the beauty of the Indonesian island and its people and culture. On her website she notes that her images focus on the lives of women there as they attend to the rhythms and rituals of daily life. Some of the scenes recall Paul Gauguin’s impressions of the Polynesian island of Tahiti more than a century ago. “I did grow up seeing his paintings and was definitely inspired by them,” Lander says. However, her contemporary eye, bold use of color, and close observation of the women's activities offer a vision of life in Bali that is unique to her. (Photo, left: Gamelan III, by Lori Lander, at Revolve)  Paintings by Lander, with a... read more
February 28, 2012 - 12:17pm Pop star Lady Gaga will be at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre in Cambridge tomorrow, February 29, for the official launch of her new philanthropic venture, the Born This Way Foundation. (Photo, above, Lady Gaga, from the album cover of "Born This Way." This version of the cover photo is from Monster Mons, at Flickr under Creative Commons.) Lady Gaga's foundation takes its name from the artist's hit single, "Born This Way," and her subsequent album with the same title, released in May, 2011. Joining her in establishing the foundation is her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, who says in the press release announcement: “My daughter's foundation was born out of her passion to create a better world where people are kinder and nicer to one another and are accepted for who they are, regardless of how different they may be." Long-time TV talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and spiritual leader Deepak Chopra are among those expected to appear personally at the Sanders Theatre event, along with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Professor Charles Ogletree of the Harvard Law School, according to the Boston Herald. ( read more
February 25, 2012 - 2:02pm A small group of seniors met at the Cambridge YWCA on Temple Street on Thursday evening, February 24, to continue the planning process for the SeniorsConnect network in central Cambridge. The event was one of a series of informal gatherings organized by Polly Allen (photo, standing), with the assistance of Janet Ghattas (center, front), to raise the organization’s profile and put potential members in touch with each other. Seated at left is Sandra Allik; John Harbage is on the right. Sandra Allik is an artist who lives in Cambridge and works in Somerville, where her paintings will be on view at her studio during Somerville Open Studios May 5 - 6. What brings her to SeniorsConnect? “I like socializing and having fun, but it can be hard to get to know people.” John Harbage is retired, and he’s busy rehabilitating his house. “It’s my hobby – I’m halfway through doing an elaborate ceiling," he said. "I get very involved in it, and if nobody happens to call or stop in, sometimes I'll realize that I haven’t spoken to anybody for three days. A network could be a lifeline for me a few years from now.” Allik’s and Harbage’s comments represent two important reasons for being part of... read more
February 23, 2012 - 12:44pm Photo, above: Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association board members lined up for a photo, along with Cambridge's newly named Mayor Henrietta Davis (left) and State Representative Martha Walz (at right in back) after the CNA Annual Meeting February 15. Board members from left to right are Leslie Greis (at right of Mayor Davis), Treasurer Jay Shetterly, Cathie Zusy, Marge Amster, President Bill August (in back), Colleen Clark, and Carolyn Shipley (in front on the right). Four candidates running for two-year terms on the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association’s Board of Directors were unanimously elected February 15 at the CNA Annual Meeting in the community room of the Woodrow Wilson Court Apartments on Fairmont Street. Leslie Greis and Cathie Zusy were re-elected; Marge Amster and Colleen Clark are new to the board. The meeting featured a presentation by Cambridge City Councilman Kenneth Reeves (photo, left) on the recently released report by Mayor David Maher’s Red Ribbon Commission: "Central, Squared: the Delights and Concerns of Central Square." Reeves chaired the project, and at the meeting he discussed some specifics of the report. “Central Square is a very complex, exciting,... read more
February 17, 2012 - 10:31pm Scott Wachtler (at right in photo), newly named editor of the Cambridge Chronicle and Wicked Local Cambridge, held a public office hour Wednesday, February 15 at the Clear Conscience Cafe in the Harvest Co-op, 581 Massachusetts Avenue. He sent the invitation out via his blog on February 8, the day after he took on the editorship. (With Wachtler, l. to r.: Mark Jaquith, Carolyn Shipley, Mark Schneider, Ellen McLaughlin, Joan Squeri.) “ . . . a few times a month I’ll make myself available for a few hours at a different public place around Cambridge,” the invitation says. “You’ll be welcome to meet up with me just to say hi, tell me what you like or dislike about the paper, or even give me story ideas.” This week's meeting was set for 2 to 3 p.m. As of quarter to 3, half-a-dozen people were gathered around a table with Wachtler, eagerly discussing municipal elections, plans for Central Square, projected school reorganization, and transportation issues. An hour later, at quarter to 4, they were still there. Asked about his own vision for the Chronicle and Wicked Local, Wachtler said he is a firm believer in... read more