Sun10262014

News

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

A flyer is being distributed across Los Altos that looks like it is from the Los Altos Town Crier but was neither created nor distributed by the community’s weekly newspaper. The flyer, pictured at right, is being distributed by workers from Pyrami...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Long-ago letter stamps international friendship


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Childhood pen pals Molly McDonough of Los Altos, left, and Siobhain McColl of Bendigo, Australia, continue to maintain their friendship 25 years later.

In an age of electronic communications, the art of letter writing is nearly obsolete. But that wasn’t the case 25 years ago when Los Altos resident Molly McDonough sealed a lifelong friendship with several strokes of her pen.

McDonough’s letter traveled in a large envelope of notes from fifth-grade students at Bullis-Purissima Elementary School in Los Altos Hills to a classroom of children that included Siobhain McColl in Bendigo, Australia.

“I remember the day clearly,” McColl recalled on her recent visit to Los Altos. “I was the last person to pick (a letter to read). There were three letters left and then I looked down and saw Molly’s handwriting and said I wanted that one.”

That decision forged a special friendship that has endured many life experiences over more than two decades.

A Los Altos Sister Cities alliance established with Bendigo in 1987 gave birth to the pen-pal program that catalyzed McDonough and McColl’s long-distance relationship.

When McColl visited Los Altos with her school’s concert band for the first time seven years later, the pen pals nervously met face to face. Although McColl clearly remembers standing on the steps of Community Plaza for the performance, she said meeting McDonough topped her to-do list on the trip.

Exchanging letters

While many of their classmates tired of letter writing after just a few exchanges, McColl and McDonough continued to share letters filled with school photos and mementos from their respective hometowns as they grew into young adults.

Although separated by 7,850 miles and an 18-hour time difference, the friends maintained their closeness.

Today, they tease each other like sisters.

McDonough admits that she was shocked to learn McColl pronounced her first name “Sh-vawn” during their first phone call. McDonough said for years she had discussed her pen pal with friends and family as “Soybean.”

On a joint camping trip to the Australian outback, McColl – who embraces the adventurous attitude of her homeland with ease – discovered that McDonough was more of a “downtown” girl who enjoyed a working toilet.

Despite a few differences, the girls shared much more in common.

McDonough, an only child, said it has been special to know someone “who’s all yours that no one else knows.”

Their relationship deepened as their contact did – eventually including phone calls, visits, emails and Skype conversations. Their discussions evolved from chatter about boys and teenage stuff to grownup matters of careers, marriage and pregnancy.

When McDonough gave birth to daughter Maeve two years ago, she asked McColl to be Maeve’s godmother.

“This is the only friendship that I have that has been consistent through life phases,” McDonough said.

McColl said that like good wine, their friendship gets better with time.

Enduring bond

During visits every few years, the women initiated rituals that stuck. As teens, they went bowling and ate at Chili’s. These days, an obligatory stop at Pinkies Nail Salon on Main Street for manicures and pedicures is among their first outings after McColl arrives in Los Altos.

When McDonough married and moved into her own home, learning to cook with vegemite and other Australian foods became part of the friends’ routine.

“I come here and I feel like I’m home,” McColl said of how intertwined she feels with Los Altos and her American family.

It’s not uncommon for McDonough’s former Bullis-Purissima classmates to spend time with the pair, and their banter often includes questions about whether McColl has any news of their long-lost pen pals.

Both women said their strong bond influenced their careers and life decisions. Both selected career paths that focus on helping others – McDonough is a teacher in Palo Alto and McColl works for a not-for-profit organization that cares for those with disabilities.

“You want other people to have this stability and the extended family that we’ve had in our lives,” McDonough said of their friendship. “We’ve experienced it, so we want other people to have this security.”

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