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

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 23, 2012 - 8:49am 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 27, 2012 - 12:25pm 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 24, 2012 - 12:02pm A meeting to discuss the proposed MBTA fare hike will be held February 29 from 6 to 8 pm in the Sullivan Chamber (Council Chambers) at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. Formerly scheduled to be held at the Citywide Senior Center, the venue has been changed to City Hall to accommodate more people. 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
December 31, 2011 - 5:22pm A  nucleus of Cambridge residents shared ideas for a proposed new senior network around Central Square at a meeting December 18 at the YWCA on Temple Street. Present for the photo were (l. to r.) Janet Ghattas, Officer Matthew Mahoney, Lita Newdick, Officer Daniel Burroso, Polly Allen, Bette Denich, Bob Woodbury, Sarah Boyer. (Also at the meeting but not shown: John Hand, Mary Holbrow, Marian Darlington-Hope.) This was the second exploratory meeting to be organized on behalf of the project by Polly Wynn Allen and Janet Ghattas. A preliminary meeting in Cambridgeport ( took place earlier this month. A third meeting is tentatively set for sometime in January to accommodate those who could not attend the December meetings. The group at the Y included seniors from Riverside, Area IV, and parts of mid-Cambridge as well as Cambridgeport. They discussed what a senior network could do to promote a healthy, active and productive lifestyle for members. Organizer Polly Allen recalled the neighborhood that she was part of as a child in Texas: her grandmother, two aunts and a playmate cousin all lived within walking distance. “I think it’s a... read more
December 20, 2011 - 11:26am Photo: Cambridge Action Forum officers David Lewis and Karen Carmean “Every year we look forward to hearing what are the most important changes since last year,” Karen Carmean said as she opened the annual Cambridge Action Fund Forum on December 8. “What are you doing now, and what have been your biggest issues?” Cambridge Action Fund, Inc. (CAF) is an organization of local businesses and individuals that contribute funds and volunteer services to help homeless people in the community. At this year’s Forum, four charities that receive money from CAF reported on the past year’s activities and their plans for the future. The presentations took place around a table in the parish hall of Christ Church Cambridge, the historic Episcopal church at Zero Garden Street, Harvard Square. Four organizations were represented: the Harvard Square Churches Meals Program, Food For Free, On The Rise, and CASPAR (Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation. “Hopefully you’re going to get ideas from this program tonight on what you can do to make a difference,” Carmean said as she opened the meeting. She was talking both to listeners around the... read more
December 15, 2011 - 2:55pm As Christmas trees go up, summer flowers blossom in local dooryards. A flowering crabapple is in full bloom at the corner of Pearl and Hamilton. Forsythia, geraniums and roses are opening nearby. A weather headline today in says mild weather is expected to continue, with temperature as much as 15 degrees higher than normal today. This month has run about 6 degrees above normal, according to Charlie Foley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton. read more
December 14, 2011 - 11:07pm “It’s nice to know your neighbors.” In a nutshell, that comment by Janet Ghattas summarized the rationale for a small but purposeful senior network that is starting to take root in the Cambridgeport/Central Square area. Ghattas made the comment during an informal morning session in Polly Allen’s living room on December 8. (Photo, above, left to right: E. Denise Simmons, Polly Allen, Bette Denich, John Hand, Janet Ghattas) A second meeting -- hopefully with additional participants from an area that includes Riverside, Area IV, Cambridgeport, and parts of mid-Cambridge -- will take place in Central Square next week, underlining the fact that the group seeks to include residents from all sides of the Square. This upcoming meeting is set for 4-6 p.m. on Monday, December 19 at the Cambridge YWCA, 7 Temple Street (between Mass Avenue and Bishop Allen Drive). Half-a-dozen people gathered at Allen's home on Erie Street in Cambridgeport to discuss plans for the network, which would put area seniors in touch with each other in person or by mail, phone, and internet. “The underlying goal is to provide structure and occasions for people who want to enrich their connections with other people... read more
December 13, 2011 - 10:27pm  Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General Nora Mann started her workday one morning in November by roasting a turkey. It had to be in the oven in her Arlington kitchen by 4 a.m. and done by 8 a.m., so she could drop it off at On The Rise in Cambridge on the way to her office in Boston. Mann is the Deputy Chief of Non-Profit Organizations and Public Charities, a division of the Business and Labor Bureau in the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. One of Mann’s duties there is to oversee the state’s more than 23,000 public charities.   So where does cooking a turkey fit into that? This fall Mann took on a personal role in one of those charities. She joined the Board of Directors of On The Rise, Inc., a non-profit day program for homeless women. “Do you remember that slogan from the 1970s – ‘Think globally, act locally’? That’s something I really believe in,” she says. On this occasion, acting locally meant helping On The Rise volunteers put on a special early Thanksgiving meal November 17 for about 60 women. This was a bigger day than most. On average some 27 women a day seek meals or other assistance, Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings, at the roomy... read more
December 12, 2011 - 2:14pm After a break-in and assault on August 26, 2010, reporters kept a vigil at 220 Pearl Street (blue house at right). The trial of Cambridgeport resident Marcos Colono, originally set for November in Middlesex County Superior Court, has been re-scheduled for April 26, 2012. Middlesex District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Cara O’Brien gave the information out in response to a phone inquiry. Colono is charged with two separate but similar crimes in two Massachusetts counties: a break-in and assault of a father and son at the Pearl Street apartment on August 26, 2010 in Cambridge (Middlesex County), and an earlier break-in and assault of two young women at an apartment on Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton (Suffolk County) back in 2008. He was arrested here by Cambridge police on October 6, 2010 – more than 14 months ago. He has been in custody since then. Somerville Attorney Benjamin Selman was initially appointed to represent Colono in Middlesex County Superior Court. However, Selman said in a November 18 email that he has withdrawn from the case. Boston attorney Stephen Weymouth has been appointed to represent... read more
November 11, 2011 - 9:46pm read more
November 9, 2011 - 4:29pm Music Director: Jamie Kirsch     Accompanist: Jamie Hillman  The Cambridge Community Chorus invites you to join us for the Second Annual Messiah Open Sing!Saturday, December 3, 2011     1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Come and sing along to your favorite movements in Händel's masterpiece! Bring your own score, or borrow one from us. Doors open at 12:30. Seating is limited, so come early! The Dante Alighieri Society                        41 Hampshire Street                       Cambridge, Massachusetts                        General Admission:  Adults $10, Children and Seniors $5                             Jamie Kirschsize=1> read more