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

October 18, 2012 - 12:38pm Photo: a Central Square scene from the 2011 Superhero race. The Fourth Annual Superhero 5K Run/Walk starts at 10 a.m. Sunday, October 28 in Pacific Park, located on Sidney Street between Pacific and Tudor in Cambridge. The event is produced by Have2Run of Boston. On-line registrations are now closed. Limited day-of-race registration: $35 Individual; $70 for Hero vs. Villain pairs; $120 for Fantastic 4; $200 for Magnificent 7. Details at Runners will circle Central Square and return to park for finish line, reception and party. In addition to recognition for race winners there are cash prizes for costumes in several categories: Best Male; Best Female; Two-Person team (Hero vs. Villain); Fantastic 4 team; and Magnificent 7 team. This fun family event welcomes observers in costume as well as runners. Entry to the park is free, and so is a 50-yard dash for kids under 10, which starts at 9:40 a.m. in the park, just before the main event; parents can sign kids up for the dash on the day of the race. The Halloween Superhero Run/Walk benefits On The Rise, Inc., a Cambridge nonprofit day program that provides safety, community, and... read more
October 3, 2012 - 4:06pm Photo, above: Co-founder and President Vicky I of Community Cooks welcomed guests at the September 30 dinner. "Celebrate Community Cooks:  Food and Music Under a Full Moon" took place Sunday evening at the Cambridge Boat Club on Gerry’s Landing Road just off Memorial Drive. The dinner event hailed the organization’s volunteer cooks, led by Vicky I of Somerville. They have been providing home-cooked meals for neighbors in need for more than 20 years. The cooks prepared and served the celebratory feast, loading tables with bite-sized treats from artichokes to ziti and circulating with trays of sausage, stuffed mushrooms, “chicken things,” cookies, tarts, and more.Photo, left: As promised in the event's title, the moon came up over the Charles on cue. Program coordinator Mary Todd (left) and volunteer Sarah Lee enjoyed the scene from the deck. Community Cooks began in Somerville, but it has expanded to include the Cambridge-Somerville area and other nearby cities, providing meals on a regular schedule at area homeless shelters and programs for women, families, youths, and people with disabilities. The cooks make the dishes;  other team members plan menus and organize distribution... read more
September 24, 2012 - 12:22pm Royal Sonesta Hotel, 40 Edwin Land Boulevard, Cambridge Event Chair: Denise Jillson, Executive Director of the Harvard Square Business Association The dinner is a benefit for On The Rise, Inc., a day program of assistance for homeless women and women in crisis. On The Rise is located at 341 Broadway in Cambridge; it serves women from Cambridge, Somerville, and Greater Boston.----------------------- Menu: classic filet mignon with pinot noir reduction sauce and onion strings, served with mushroom risotto, asparagus, and tinker bell peppers; OR a Vegan–sweet chili and soy tofu entrée with panko crusted sweet potato and eggplant on basmati rice with ultimate greens and wasabi ginger drizzle. Discounted event parking at the hotel: $10. Parking across the street at Cambridge Side Galleria: $4 after 5pm. Information: Jennifer Tsolas at 617-497-5757; read more
September 21, 2012 - 5:23pm Photo, above: Josh Gerber at the 1369 Coffee House in Central Square. Joshua Gerber, owner and operator of Cambridge’s 1369 Coffee Houses, will be among the table hosts September 27 at the 15th Annual Prepare For Winter Dinner at the Royal Sonesta Hotel (details below). The event will benefit On The Rise, Inc, a local day program of assistance for homeless women in Cambridge, Somerville, and Greater Boston; members of its Board of Directors are hosts at the dinner. Gerber joined the board recently. A resident of Somerville, he succeeds his uncle, Gerry Wolf, both on the board and as proprietor of the 1369s. “It’s sobering to see how many of the people right around us are in need or very close to it,” Gerber said in a recent interview. The original 1369 coffee house (left) is at 1369 Cambridge Street in Inman Square; its sibling is at 757 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square. On The Rise sits midway between them, at 341 Broadway. “In the coffee houses and in the neighborhood, we see a cross section of street life,” Gerber said. “Some things you can’t do anything about, but that doesn’t mean you don’t care. I try to balance what I do as a business owner with what’s needed... read more
September 17, 2012 - 10:45pm Photo: Monarch butterflies, on their way to Mexico, feed on New England asters in Cambridgeport. The fall Monarch migration is in full swing here. As many as ten of the black-and-orange butterflies (Danaus plexippus) at a time hovered overhead or settled on the New England asters in a tiny Pearl Street garden on this sunny afternoon. The butterflies were choosy; they went only to the purple asters, ignoring pink ones and white ones. This week is the height of their fall migration season here in Cambridge (latitude 42.38), according to the chart published by Monarch Watch, an educational program that engages citizen scientists in research involving the butterflies. Based at the University of Kansas, Monarch Watch operates a tagging program to track the migrations. The majority of Monarchs live only up to five weeks, a National Wildlife Federation account reports, but the last generation of the summer – the current generation – may live eight months or more. In the eastern United States, these longer-lived butterflies migrate to Mexico for the winter; they will head back again next spring, stopping on the way north to reproduce. Those in the western states will winter in the San... read more
August 6, 2012 - 4:52pm Herb Stern (photo, above) reached into the cab to operate the controls of the clamshell truck parked beside the storm drain at the corner of Pearl and Allston. The special feature of this Cambridge Department of Public Works vehicle is the clamshell, which appears to be an industrial-strength version of a post hole digger (below). Stern had moved the grate away from the storm drain. Now he guided the steel-jawed apparatus down through the opening into the catch basin below, raised it back up with its dripping burden, and swung it over to unload in the bed of the truck. It was August 3, the first Friday of the month, so a city crew was busy sweeping the upper surface on the odd-numbered side of the street. Stern was dealing with what lay below. “We pick a street sweeping day to work on the storm drains – people park on the other side then, so there aren’t any cars in the way,” he said. The catch basin, a barrel-like container that sits below street level under a grating, is part of the storm water management system designed to protect the city from flooding and pollution of the Charles River, Alewife Brook and other local bodies of water. The system criss-crosses the two... read more
July 26, 2012 - 8:56am Photo, above: Monarch butterflies are threatened by the invasive black swallow-wort, a deadly host plant for their larvae. The plant is spreading throughout New England and crowding out native plants. The star-shaped black swallow-wort flowers, below left, are tiny and purple. The Monarch above had a better choice in the butterfly garden at the Museum of Science.   On July 21 volunteers Helen Snively and Rebecca Ramsay of the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation (FFPR) stacked a table in the lobby of the Cambridge Main Library with black swallow-wort vines and seed pods, informational brochures, and Pod Patrol lapel buttons promoting joint efforts by FFPR and City of Cambridge to limit the spread of black swallow-wort. Snively and Ramsay were there to talk with Saturday morning library-goers about ways to help control the noxious weed. “You’ve seen this plant," Snively said. "It’s everywhere. I pulled this piece off a chainlink fence on Cambridge Street. It’s a member of the milkweed family, which is the Monarch babies' normal food.” The female butterflies mistake the swallow-wort for native milkweed and lay their eggs on it, she explained. The plant is toxic to the caterpillars... read more
July 14, 2012 - 11:04am Photo: Documents bearing John Hancock's well-known signature were part of the July 10 Harvard University Archives exhibit during the Cambridge Open Archives tour. Revolutionary-era patriot John Hancock shared the spotlight with "Unabomber" Ted Kazcynski, local poet E. E. Cummings (e. e. cummings to some), and aviator Amelia Earhart in special displays at three Harvard libraries on July 10. It was Day 2 of “Famous and Infamous,” Cambridge’s Fourth Annual Open Archives Tour, a.k.a. the Archives Crawl. The July 9-12 Open Archives event featured displays at a dozen local libraries and collections, three on each of the four days. The Day 2 tour, reported here, included historical treasures at three Harvard sites: the University Archives and the Houghton and Schlesinger Libraries. Destinations for Days 1, 3 and 4 are listed at the bottom of the page. For a report on Day 1 of the tour, see Siobhan Bredin's article: Cambridge Open Archives City Collections Tour 2012. Her piece includes an interview with Gavin Kleespies, Executive Director of the Cambridge Historical Society, which organizes the event. Photo: Harvard's baseball team played the Red Sox on April 9, 1912, in the... read more
July 3, 2012 - 11:22pm Photo: Overseeing a summer art project in front of the Main Library Tuesday were Public Art Administrator Jeremy Gaucher (at left, leaning over for a close look) and Jerrie Lyndon (right) of the Cambridge Arts Council. The artist (center) goes by his nickname, Luffy. Pedestrians at the corner of Broadway and Trowbridge on Tuesday morning, July 3, paused to admire a striking scene: half-a-dozen kids of high school age were using colored chalks to create an interlocking array of images on the pavement in front of the library. Jerrie Lyndon explained that the sidewalk art was part of the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program (MSYEP). Lyndon is active in city arts projects and served as Coordinator for the 2012 Cambridge Open Studios. Through the Department of Human Services, MSYEP offers 20-hour-a-week work opportunities for local kids aged 14-18 for six weeks in July and August. See the video (below) for a tour of the display. Summer Art - Youth Employment Program from Mary Holbrow on Vimeo. Some of the pictures on the sidewalk were done; others were still getting finishing touches. There was a wide range of subjects and interpretations, as described by the artists... read more
June 15, 2012 - 8:16am Free Concert in Sennott Park, CambridgeThe Cambridge Symphony Orchestra (CSO)June 24, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. Cynthia Woods, Music Director Location: Sennott Park (Broadway at Norfolk St.) Cambridge, MA. Rain location: Area IV Youth Center (243 Harvard Street, adjacent to Park) Bring a blanket or lawn chairs if outdoors! Cambridge, MA. Cynthia Woods, Music Director, invites the public to the CSO's annual free concert. The program will feature favorite music from the movies Superman and E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial by John Williams and from Superman Returns by John Ottman, from Broadway musicals Chicago and West Side Story, as well as Aaron Copland’s "Hoe-Down" from the ballet Rodeo and more. This concert is supported in part by the Cambridge Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and by a Volunteer Ventures grant from MetLife. About the CSO: Established in 1975, the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, Inc. is a nonprofit community music organization that provides a welcoming environment for players and audiences through outstanding concerts, events and social action. Over 70 CSO musicians hail from Cambridge and numerous surrounding... read more
June 14, 2012 - 7:54am Photo: "Don't Drive Like My Brother!"  A number from Car Talk: the Musical!!! was a highlight of the annual Taste Of Cambridge on Tuesday. Cast members on stage, l. to r.: Christian Denzel Bufford, Elyse Collier, Jonathan Luke Stevens, Edward Tolve, Scott Severance (singing), Desi Klock-Perez, Leigh Barrett. Composer/Director Wesley Savick (not shown) provided spirited accompaniment from beside the stage. The show opens June 14, at the Central Square Theater. Taste of Cambridge marked its 10th anniversary here on Tuesday, June 12. A crowd lined up at the entrance at the corner of Sidney and Franklin for the 5:30 p.m. opening;  inside, people flocked to the stands hosted by local restaurants, merchants, and brewers from Abigail’s to Zuzu — some 90 businesses in all. Strolling from hors-d’oeuvres to main-dish samples to bite-size sweets, and washing things down with local beer, wine, and soft drinks, folks could network and schmooze, hear live music and catch up on public affairs with local politicians. The weather forecast had been iffy, but in fact it was a balmy afternoon here at 42.37°N   71.13W.° In addition to showcasing local businesses, Taste of Cambridge was raising... read more
June 9, 2012 - 9:25am Photo: This charming turtle is also a rattle, created in the spring semester ceramics class at the Morse Community School at 40 Granite Street. Displays and demonstrations of after-school activities will be featured there Friday, June 15, at the Community School's Semester End Showcase and Cookout from 5 - 8 p.m., according to Director Stanley Rogers. Students in the program choose from a rich mix of classes that includes gymnastics, drum circle, sports and games, story-telling, math and science, film-making, Scouts, and lessons in art, music, dance, and cooking.   As Chair of the Citywide Community School Council, Carolyn Shipley (photo, left) has been going to bat for Cambridge’s Community Schools for more than 22 years. The city’s eleven Community Schools are not public schools, although they do use public school facilities. They are OST (out-of-school time) programs that take place after regular school hours, during school vacations, and in summer. The Community School program is deeply rooted here. In 2009 Shipley and others active in it were honored at the Glitter Gala celebration that marked its 40th anniversary. The event was reported in the 2010-2011 edition of "The... read more
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
June 6, 2012 - 10:44pm Please join the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library for the biennial Secret Gardens of Cambridge tour. Held every other year, the event will feature more than 24 Cambridge gardens that will be open to the public Sunday, June 10, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Anyone with a ticket can stroll through an eye-catching array of back yards, side yards, front yards and even an open field of lupines, all to benefit the Cambridge Public Library. The self-guided tour is spread out over four neighborhoods. This year, the addition of 18 new gardens provides an opportunity to explore the city, discover new spaces and give exposure to new ideas, designs and gardening tips. Tickets for the 2012 Secret Gardens of Cambridge are currently being sold at all library branches, Bonny’s Garden Center, Dickson Brothers Hardware, Harvard Book Store, Nomad, Pemberton Farms, Porter Square Books and Rodney’s Bookstore. Tickets for the general public are $25, while members of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library can purchase discounted tickets for $20 at the main library only. The Secret Gardens tour is the single biggest fund-raiser for the library, usually raising more than $10,000 that will be... 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 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