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News

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk


Courtesy of Microbe World
Colorized low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria

When E. coli and other bacteria were discovered in some Los Altos water last week, officials from the local water supplier, California Water...

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Schools

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The six-week, tuition-free Stretch to Kindergarten program, hosted at Bullis Charter School, serves children who have not attended preschool. A teacher leads children in singing about the parts of a butterfly, above.

Local un...

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Community

Google car painting project calls on artists

Google car painting project calls on artists


Google self-driving car

Already known as an innovator in the tech field, Google Inc. is now moving in on the art world.

The Mountain View-based company July 11 launched the “Paint the Town” contest, a “moving art experiment” that invites Califo...

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Sports

Pedaling with a purpose

Pedaling with a purpose


courtesy of
Rishi Bommannan Rishi Bommannan cycled from Bates College in Maine to his home in Los Altos Hills, taking several selfies along the way. He also raised nearly $13,000 for the Livestrong Foundation, which supports cancer patients.

When R...

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Comment

The truth about coyotes: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s recent article on coyotes venturing down from the foothills in search of sustenance referenced the organization Project Coyote (“Recent coyote attacks keep residents on edge,” July 1). Do not waste your time contac...

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Special Sections

Grant Park senior program made permanent

Grant Park senior program made permanent


Photos by Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Local residents participate in an exercise class at the Grant Park Senior Center, above. Betsy Reeves, below left with Gail Enenstein, lobbied for senior programming in south Los Altos.

It all began when Betsy Reev...

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Business

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Los Altos Rug Gallery owner Fahim Karimi stocks his State Street store with a wall-to-wall array of floor coverings.

A new downtown business owner plans to roll out the red carpet – along with rugs of every other color –...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

Resident of Los Altos

Grace Wilson Franks, our beloved mother and grandmother, left us peacefully on July 16, 2015 just a few weeks short of her 92nd birthday. She was born to Ross and Florence (Cruzan) Wilson in rural Tulare, California on Septem...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Going out with a 'Bang'

Going out with a 'Bang'


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” stars, clockwise from top left, Alexander Sanchez, Sophia Sturiale, Deborah Rosengaus and Danny Martin.

Los Altos Stage Company and Los Altos Youth Theatre’s joint production of t...

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Spiritual Life

Build a 'light' house and get out of that dark place

Most of us have a place inside our hearts and minds that occasionally causes us trouble. For some, it is sadness, depression or despair. For others, it may be fear, anger, resentment or myriad other emotional “dark places” that at times seem to hij...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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California living: Los Altos couple update ranch house

photos by elliott burr/town crier Los Altos residents Fran and Bruce Dougherty remodeled their home to showcase wood and light.

It’s apparent that Fran and Bruce Dougherty love this area and have a passion for California-style living.

“The people here are so nice and the area is so beautiful,” said Fran, who wanted their new Los Altos home to blend into the neighborhood of mostly ranch-style houses while capitalizing on the views from their property.

So the Doughertys built a “ranch house updated for today.” They wanted a house with a lot of wood and light – a “simple” house that would bring the outdoors in. And it is simply sensational from an architectural standpoint.

The modest one-story house, with its cedar siding and dark framing, blends into the wooded site and mature landscaping. Inside, materials are traditional but the openness of the floor plan is contemporary.

“These two contrasting effects are complementary and help bridge the history of the neighborhood with today’s lifestyle,” said architect Tanvi Buch of Los Altos. “Many details are reminiscent of Craftsman style, yet it also has Asian touches, which the Doughertys wanted.”

Bruce calls it a “Japanese-American modern ranch.” The tops of the door and window casements, for example, resemble torii gates. And the flat, dark exterior trim gives it the look of a Japanese country house.

“We went through all styles of houses – Tuscan, Mediterranean, two-story – as we moved around the country,” Fran said. “So we were ready for something simple that we could put all kinds of things in.”

The couple lived in Colorado, Minnesota and Ohio before moving to Los Gatos in 1986, where they lived until moving to Los Altos in early 2007.

“We had our first extensive remodel/build experience there by taking two-thirds of a 2,000-square-foot ranch down to the subfloor and rebuilding,” Bruce said.

They decided to move to Los Altos to be nearer to their family and because Bruce had begun selling real estate in this area after retiring from a career in high-tech. (Fran is a former schoolteacher.) They bought a 1950s ranch-style home and lived in it for a year to get the feel of the site, the orientation to the sun.

One day, Bruce happened by the house Buch was building for herself in Los Altos (featured in the Jan. 30, 2008, Town Crier) and liked it so much he later knocked on the door. The rest, as they say, is history.

Rather than remodel, the Doughertys scrapped the old house. Fran remembers the day in April of last year.

“We had just moved out and went by to see what was going on and the house had been leveled. I said to Bruce, ‘It looks like we’re doing it.’”

They moved in last April and the house was finished around them. Dean Di Benedetto of San Jose served as project manager.

The entrance to the house, rather than opening on the street, faces a lush hillside. The back of the property has a fence screening it from a well-traveled road so that all the Doughertys see is a vista of distant foothills.

The double front doors, featuring horizontal wood panels and vertical clear-glass panes, open to an obstructed view through the living room to the backyard, where a pool reflects the sky and trees. An austere stamped-concrete deck adds a Japanese aesthetic to the pool.

A pool house with shower, concealed behind a glass-brick wall, was constructed in a former utility area.

The beamed ceiling in the living room soars to 13 feet at its highest point, with collar beams running horizontally.

There’s a game that’s played in the living room. Look at the granite floor-to-ceiling fireplace wall and see how many figures can be discerned from the occlusions. It’s like modern art, only centuries old, or a Rorschach test. It took a five-man crew two days to install the slabs that appear as a seamless piece of granite nearly 8 feet wide by 13 feet high.

Large undivided glass windows and double glass sliders open the room to the outdoors. Adjacent to the comfortable sitting area in front of the fireplace is the dining area, distinguished by hanging art-glass pendant lights over an heirloom oval rosewood table. Along one wall, Asian artifacts and family treasures are displayed in built-in cabinetry.

Cabinetry and detailing throughout the house is Douglas fir, a warm, visible-grain wood used in Japanese houses. The floors are polished Santos mahogany.

The kitchen/great room is the pièce de résistance with its clerestory windows, collar-beamed ceiling and five-sided island (the angle matches the angled front wall of the room). The island houses a freezer, storage space, shelves for Fran’s cookbooks and a Viking gas cooktop.

Kitchen countertop surfaces are green-ocean granite with a leather treatment – an unpolished, rich finish that emphasizes the striations in the stone. Backsplashes, something called “Falling Water,” resemble a mini brick wall.

The end wall features a modular built-in unit for books, TV and the like. Its horizontal lines are continued on the same plane throughout the house.

A cherrywood harvest table in the great room can seat 10 people – a good thing, because two of their three children and their spouses live in Palo Alto, and the Doughertys frequently have a houseful.

Daughter Melissa, whose husband, Andrew Zeif, is an attorney, was Fran’s “design consultant” and helped with every step of the project. They have two children.

Son Dirk and his wife, Keiko Sato, have three children.

The Doughterys’ other son, Bret, and his wife, Jaydee Cabral, live in New Zealand, where he is a family practitioner. They have two children.

The four-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath house is 3,500 square feet of flowing space.

One of the bedrooms, which Bruce uses as an office, is separated by a pocket door from the master suite. So it’s like an addendum but can be closed off. The large walk-in closet in the master suite has a 10-foot ceiling with built-in storage space to the top.

Fran had wanted a simple house to display favorite “things,” and the bedroom is a good example. A pair of tonsu chests blends perfectly with the contemporary furnishings. In the pantry, she has used an old cupboard from her family’s ranch in Hanford, and in the laundry room is a washboard from her mother’s playhouse.

The architectural style provides the perfect background for their eclectic furnishings. Even the grand piano seems right at home in the living room.

And, everywhere you turn, there are original oil paintings of California scenes, a testament to their love of where they live.

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