I’m still voting for voting for Martha Coakley but am dismayed at the attack ads her campaign has unleashed on her Republican opponent for the Massachusetts Senatorial Seat– Republican State Senator Scott Brown.

Unfortunately, the  ads fail to emphasize the important things Coakley stands for: health reform, civil rights, regulating greed, and finding intelligent ways to fight terrorism.  They disseminate untruths about her opponent who, on Monday’s hourlong televised debate, said that he supports abortion (albeit not late term) and  emergency contraception for rape victims (albeit not if it goes against health provider’s personal beliefs) and, despite earlier statements,  that he believes that global warming is not only natural, but also manmade.

Worse yet,  the ads give Brown  a perfect opportunity to appear reasonable, dignified and unflappable–Senatorial, if you will, compared with the ham-handedness evident in ads Coakley apparently approved.

A  Brown win could end possibilities for health reform in the current Congressional session and beyond.

I’m very concerned that the ads will backfire– and, given my  own strong reaction against them I believe they will. (I don’t want to contribute money that could be used to fund them).

I just hope that Massachusetts citizens will look beyond the ads to Coakley’s strong record of accomplishment amd her belief in a government based on human and civil rights –hold their noses–and give her their votes.

–Anita M. Harris
New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish HarrisComBlog and Ithaca Diaries blog.

Letter to my landlord:
The super said he has them in his apt and so does the office manager but he’s from abroad and she grew up on a farm and they don’t mind trapping them. I was very upset when the first three got stuck in the gooey trap Cl gave me and the baby one cried.
The new ones are not attracted to the cheese I put out as bait in the “roach motel”  traps where you don’t have to look at them. Not sure if Cambridge mice are smarter than others  or if they just sniff at low -fat feta. EEEK. The guy just ran from under the fridge to under the stove, a foot from where I’m typing.
A friend who used to live in the building said a former super blocked off all holes, which stopped them–but she was able to pull out her stove and refrigerator. Could you please ask D. to have Cl. do that? If not that, could I get an OK to ask Cl  to come up to deal with any mice that get caught in gooey traps? I hate to bother him but I just can’t handle it.
My cat people friends say their animals either just play with mice or rip them up and leave the body parts lying around. DK which is worse. Yes, I do, Lisa says.
None of the cats seem to travel….and one named Claire,  wrote in to explain why she  won’t be available (her comments are included below).

Should I just give the mice names and adopt them as pets?

This morning a woman came into the Charles Hotel while I was having coffee…with a dog that was only a little bigger than these mice.
I am trying to think of them as giant hairy cockroaches but cockroaches don’t cry.
Please advise.
Care the cat


Santa Mouse

Compliments of an Australian client...

Dear G….The  mice are freaking me out. I think there are three  more…ot at least 2. In the last 24 hours, a big one and a small one have come from under the stove and  the refrigerator…and the sink….and the other day one came out from behind the sofa in the living room. I’m guessing they’re  living around  the pipes.

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish HarrisComBlog and Ithaca Diaries Blog.
We welcome your comments–and hope you’ll subscribe.

Dec. 17
Thanks, Gus.
My downstairs neighbors don’t have them…yet…nor do others on my floor.  My cousin says that the smell of cats deters them. I could try that…might be able to borrow one from a friend who has one for a week or so. Unfortunately, the smell of cats also deters me….
Last night, the master of Quincy House said they had an infestation there this fall and called in “Best Pest;” they patched holes and set traps, which cleared up the problem. Anita

Dec. 18

Gus, someone left four sticky traps outside my door. I’m collecting  advice on my blog… so far,  it ranges from wearing a cat costume to sprinkling dried coyote urine around….Eeeew. Anita

From Edna:

Oh my!  If you want to stay at our house for a couple of days, or work in my office until they get rid of the mice, you’re more than welcome.  I’d be freaked out too.  I hate having uninvited critters sharing my space.

Re: Eeeeek!

Edna, thanks–I appreciate it. The guy who owns the building said he can’t do anything because if he poisons them they will go into the walls and smell bad…I’m  asking friends if I can borrow their cats….It’s kind of funny when I think about it…But not when they scoot around, here. Evidently, it’s a common problem. The super says HE has them, and so does the woman who works in our office…but they’re not bothered by them (or by killing them). A friend told me that  her husband had to keep mouse traps under his desk at the New York Times…  Another friend’s said he sees them at MGH…Eeeeek!  I’ll let you know if I need a place to stay…. tho I think that the landlord or the building owner, should pay for a hotel.


From Ann:  Alas, no. My cat is not a traveler: extremely shy and won’t come out when people she’s known for years come to visit! Also I can say (sadly) from experience she’s not a mouser: she’d rather chase, play, batter and torture a mouse than dispatch it.You might borrow a terrier- they’re bred as ratters and can snap a neck so fast you won’t see it.

OR, try my strategy:get some brown paper sandwich bags. bait the traps and set them inside the bags. Check the traps, and roll the whole mess up in the bag and dispose (outside cans). No mess, less fuss and you keep your hands clean.

Dec. 19 From Lisa: GaaROOOsome!! I didn’t see a single one at your b-day party!  When I was at Simmons, the two things that worked were:  1. peanut butter to attract them; 2. steel wool pads to block their entry.  The problem w/ having a cat is that you’ll then have dead mice all over the house.  Don’t know which is worse.  Well, yes, I guess I do.

Saturday Dec  19  At Haymarket, I told the cheese vendor that the mice won’t touch his low fat feata. He told me to forget the cheese. “Use pate,”    he said.   (Well, this IS  Cambridge).

Sunday Dec. 20:

Last night, I was watching TV when a little dark brown one ventured from behind the sofa (again). I jumped; he jumped back.  I got up and opened a box of sticky traps. Put them in big Trader Joe’s paper  bags, which I laid out near the sofa and stove. This morning: nothing. Eeeeeek!

Thursday, Dec. 24. Still nothing. I’m hoping that its being Christmas eve, not a creature will be stirring…not even…

Monday, Dec. 28
Last night, returned  from weekend away. Nothing in gooey or “hotel”  traps, despite non-fat cheese. Bought “bounce” per Judy’s suggestion– put sheets of this fabric softener under sofa, stove, fridge; smelled so bad I had to put it in a ziplock bag to store. Saw mouse scurry out of closet toward corner wall, so put one in there, too.  This morning, nothing in traps; my eyes watering, sore throat due to Bounce smell–so forget that. Today I am calling the health department.

January 7, 2010

Dear g:
Yes, [50 F… ]is still a great building but, FYI, we’ve had no heat or hot water for two days.  Evidently there were 7 pipe leaks and there’s still a problem with the boiler. Someone put up a sign saying they’re working on it, which I believe because the first floor is completely torn up.  We have to climb a small mountain of dirt to get to the mail boxes! For awhile, this morning, the elevator was out of service…
RE mice…only one, so far this week (perhaps the others have retreated into the walls to stay warm).  I called the Cambridge health department, which said that the property owner is required to bring in an exterminator…Would it be OK if I bring one in,  have him find and block the mouse holes in 512 and you bill  [D] for the service?
Thanks, Anita

FOR  MORE COMMENTS AND ADVICE, or to add them, please click on comments, just below.

Last night’s reading in Lincoln went well.  People laughed. In the right places.

That’s Neil O’Hara, facilitator of The Write Stuff, my wonderful writers group, in the background. The reading was held  held  in the beautiful  Lincoln, MA, public library, which along with the Lincoln Review, sponsors our group and the occasional public event.

Other readers included Susan Coppack, Mary Ann Hales,  Ellen Morgan and Manson Solomon.   Here’s a link to the Write Stuff Blog, http://lincolnwritestuff.blogspot.com/ which, in turn, links to this and other write stuffers’ blogs,  courtesy of  blogmeister Geoff Moore.

Mark S. Hoffman took the photo. Thanks, Mark!

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish Harriscomblog and Ithaca Diaries blog.

I’ve been impressed with Michael Capuano’s record, his forthright rejection of the war in Afghanistan, his progressive stance on health insurance reform, and his staunch support of Massachusetts’ biotechnology industry. 

But all running in today’s Democratic Senatorial Primary–Michael Capuano, Martha Coakley,   Alan  Khazei,  and Steve Pagliuca –have great backgrounds and are outstanding progressive candidates.

Khazei, a Harvard grad, founded the grassroots nonprofit City Year; Pagliuca, a Celtics co-owner,  built a lucrative career in business consulting; Coakley and Capuano are both established public servants–with Coakley elected to Massachusetts Attorney General, and Capuano having spent years as Somerville’s mayor.  

 All  favor abortion rights (against the Catholic Church of which all but Pagliuca–an Episcopalian– not that I care)  are members). All favor the Obama health insurance legislation–tho Coakley and Capuano have said they’d vote against any bill ruling out out abortion funding. 

On last Monday’s Greater Boston, on Channel 2, host  Emily Rooney struggled to get the candidates to differentiate their positions on major issues.  

Capuano seemed most adamantly opposed to prolonging the war in Afghanistan, suggesting that the American mission there, of routing out Al Khaida terrorists, has been accomplished.

Khazei tried to articulate a complex program of economic reform.

Pagliuca focused on the need for  job creation but had difficulty, when grilled, about whether he had suffered as a result of the current recession (I don’t understand why he was singled out on this point, when everyone already knows he’s a successful businessman). .

Coakley has made it clear that she’s a peoples’ candidate–who would readily take on Wall Street cheats. She  came out well when her economic acumen was called into question. (Supposedly, she has only $12,000 in savings–she explained that always been a public servant who is not in it for the money but she’s not stupid;  her funds must be in trust or in the name of her husband, who is a retired Cambridge cop). .

So–how are we to choose? If  not by positions on the issues, is it by background, knowledge, personality or style?

Khazei comes across as earnest, softspoken, a nice guy, smart, well-reasoned, a Harvard grad with nonprofit background, who, from my perspective, also seems  amateurish, and a little bit of an “itch.” (Whose idea was that TV ad featuring babies with adult voices in which Khazei evidently changes a diaper, then holds it up saying, “Someone’s got to clean up the mess in Washington?” Gross!)

Pagliuca is smart, but does not seem comfortable or convincing in his  proposed political role. (There’s that strange ad in which he says he really wanted to be a teacher but by somehow–by mistake?– fell into a lucrative career in business consulting).  I believe he understands the economy and would do well in a position that involved creating businesses and jobs– but that he’d  face a large learning curve  on the national, policymaking  stage.

Capuano is impressive, brilliant, outspoken, in an up-by-the bootstraps sort of way. His ads are geared toward an ultra-liberal, antiwar audience of  Cambridge/Somerville liberals–but do they address the concerns of others across the state?

At the start of Greater Boston, I was in his camp–but when he called Pagliuca  on the carpet, saying   “Steve, you have to read the bill,”  he seemed like an arrogant know-it-all with a humiliating style. While some believe his feisty manner would bring fresh air into a Senate filled with windbags,  I question whether he has the respect for others and the statesmanship needed to get things done.

That Monday night, Coakley hung back, listening, staying out of the fray, coming in to sum up, makin intelligent points. She’s been an elected official, taken unpopular stands. I disagree with her vow to vote against health reform legislation that includes an abortion ban, but believe she’s got much needed practical, statewide experience in enforcing laws, and in taking difficult stands.   I find her ads about growing up in Western MA  tasteful and convincing, and those who know her say she has a firm, but compassionate hand.

I’ve not studied the Republican field because it’s so clear that one of the above will certainly win–and, given the similarity of the Democrats positions on the issues,  I’d be happy with any of them.

In voting, this time around,  I’ll be deciding based on which candidate has the background and talent to hit the ground running–to effectively translate ideas into action with credibility and sophistication at a time when so many major issues are at stake.

The polls are about to open– gotta go.  Coakley’s got vote.

 On a recent Saturday morning, after coffee at the Charles, I was struck by the beautifully displayed fruit and vegetables in one of the farmers market stalls on Mt. Auburn Street.

I asked the proprietor if it would be OK to take some photos,  then, like every other visitor to the stand, asked him what on earth those shiny pale white, pink and reddish berries were. P1010088 One customer guessed elderberries, but the proprietor, Frank Buso, said they’re  currents ($4 a pound).   Buso said  he grows them–and everything else in the stand–at his farm in Lincoln– located on Battle Road in the Minuteman National Park.  [Click here for Minute Centennial Celebration events]. P1010072

Busa’s is one of a handful of  farms leased at very low cost (approximately$25 an acre) from the Park itself. The goal,according to  Park spokesman Lew Sedaris,  is to help preserve the scene of the 1775 Revolutionary War battle fought in Lexington, Lincoln and Concord –much as other national parks preserve their natural settings.

 Busa started his Lincoln  farm  two  years ago–after his family sold its farm, also called Busa’s, in Lexington. Now, Busa sells  fruits and vegetables at farmers markets in  Bedford, Lexingtonn Arlington and Cambridge.      

Compared with Haymarket–where you take a chanceP1010089 on freshness– Busa’s and the other Harvard Square stands are a bit pricey–$4 for a pint of blueberries, $2 for a head of  lettuce, a bunch of scallions or basil.  Hot peppers are 5 for a dollar, and tomatoes go for $3.00 a pound.  But everything at Busa’s looks delicious. Although I’d already done my  shopping for the week,   I found the stand worth visiting for both the conversation and the view.

                                                                   Photos and text c. Anita M. Harris, 2009.

–Anita M. Harris

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish Harriscomblog.

Having completed an excellent three-evening course on Dreamweaver  just this week at Cambridge Community Television in Central Square,  I urge Cantabridgians to take part in one of the focus groups to be conducted in early October–all related to the Cambridge’s technology future  and the role of Comcast, which, by law, sponsors CCTV, in the community.

Here’s the info–lifted in its entirety, I confess–from an email CCTV sent to me yesterday.


* Have you ever watched Cambridge City Council or School Committee meetings, school sports, Democracy Now! or BeLive?
* Have you ever wanted to engage in a community dialogue about important issues in Cambridge?
* Would you like to share your ideas about how our community can use our local cable channels?

The City of Cambridge is seeking participants for a series of workshops on the future of cable service, community media and technology.

You are encouraged to participate, propose new ideas for consideration and help us explore the opportunity we have right now for the City to provide new technological resources to all communities within Cambridge.

Six focus group workshops will be held at Cambridge locations listed below. The presentation of each workshop will be identical, but discussions will focus on different aspects of community life. Choose one based either on your interest or your schedule.

* Participation is free and open to the public.
* Registration is required by Friday, Sept. 25, 2009:  – via telephone to 617-349-4302 (if leaving voice mail, include name, organization, address, phone, email, and which focus group you are attending
– or register online

Local Government Departments and Agencies
October 6, 2009
10:00 am – Noon
City Hall Annex
344 Broadway
Health/Human Service/Social Service Organizations and Agencies
October 6, 2009
2:00 – 4:00 pm
City Hall Annex
344 Broadway
Senior Citizens and Organizations Serving Seniors
October 7, 2009
10:00 am – Noon
Central Square Library
45 Pearl Street
Nonprofit, Civic, Community, and Faith Based Organizations
October 7, 2009
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Media Arts Studio
454 Broadway
Arts/Culture/Heritage Organizations
October 8, 2009
10:00 am – Noon
Media Arts Studio
454 Broadway
Educational Institutions, Educators, and Youth
October 8, 2009
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Media Arts Studio
454 Broadway
The City of Cambridge and its municipal channel, CITY TV-8, have teamed up with community partners CCTV (Cambridge Community Television, Channels 9 & 10) and CEA (Cambridge Educational Access, Channels 98 & 99) to coordinate this process to identify the community’s needs and interests in future technologies.  The focus groups will be conducted by The Buske Group, a nationally recognized public policy consulting firm hired specifically to help the city with the cable license renewal process.For more information, visit CCTV’s website or call 617-349-4302.

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish Harriscomblog.

P1010044 More than 1000 people turned out to see the long-awaited (more than 200 years),  long-dreaded ( by the Harvard News Office) grazing of a cow on Harvard Yard.

The event was carried out in celebration of the retirement  Harvey Cox, who is  Harvard’s 9th  Hollis Research Professor of Divinity, and of the publication of  Cox’s new book on faith. 

The right to graze a cow in the yard was granted with the establishment of the Hollis Chair  in 1721 by university donor Thomas  Hollis, a wealthy London merchant who was a Baptist, like Cox, but never set foot in the  Yard.  The first Hollis professor and his son  evidently graze  cows there–but according to the Rev. Peter Gomes, Cox is the first since then to exercize the right–which  Gomes said was akin to being given a parking space in Harvard Square, today.

The cow, borrowed for the day from the Farm School in Athol, MA, was named “Pride” –which Cox said presented difficulties because he’s a professor of religion and pride is one of the seven deadly sins. The Farm School thus allowed Cox to temporarily change the cow’s name to “Faith,” which is apt because Cox’s new book is called  The Future of Faith.

However, after one of Cox’s friends pointed out that Harvard does not consider pride a sin, Cox decided to call the cow “Pride Faith”.  In his talk, Cox brought up the importance of treating the Earth and all of its beings with respect.

Somewhere in there, a man in a long black robe and shiny gold running shoes delivered an oration in Latin (all I could understand were the occasional “moos,”) which drew laughs from the erudite crowd–or perhaps from those with translations in hand.  

After the talks, Cox, Faith Pride, Gomes and hundreds of other people followed a  band of tuba players–whose repertoire consisted mainly of  “Old Macdonald Had a Farm” — across the stair landing of Memorial Church and the Cambridge St. overpass and through the campus to the Divinity School. 

 There,  the crowd grazed on sandwiches, punch, and cake, and the cow on a bale of hay. More speeches were followed by music played by “The Soft Touch Dance Band,” with which Cox plays the saxophone.

When I asked Cox if the event had gone as he had hoped, he responded, “Better!”  

I’m sure the News Office, which feared that bringing in livestock would make Harvard a laughingstock , is glad it’s over. 

In case you can’t tell, it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time; I’m glad I had a chance to be a part of it.

 Anita M. Harris

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA.  We also publish the HarrisCom blog.