Fri10242014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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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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Los Altos chicken enthusiasts cluck about inaugural Tour de Coop


Photo By: ELLIE VAN HOUTE/TOWN CRIER
Photo Ellie Van Houte/Town Crier

Los Altos Hills resident Scott Vanderlip prepares his chicken coop for the inaugural Tour de Coop Oct. 27.

Los Altos’ feathered population is burgeoning, and local owners have devised creative ways to house their cherished chickens.

Between 10 and 20 families plan to showcase their chicken coops 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 27 in the inaugural Silicon Valley Tour de Coop, a cycling tour. Short 2- to 5-mile routes and longer routes of 20 miles will allow cyclists of all skill levels to join backyard chicken owners, or “coopsters,” to examine hen houses, honeybee hives and urban gardens in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto.

“Raising chickens is a great way for neighbors to share and connect with a common activity that not only creates fabulous eggs, but also builds community,” said Los Altos Hills resident Scott Vanderlip.

According to Vanderlip, the city of Davis’ successful Tour de Cluck inspired him to organize the Tour de Coop.

In addition to promoting the benefits of chicken ownership, Vanderlip said he hopes the tour will connect coopsters and make them feel they are part of a movement bigger than their own backyards.

Vanderlip estimated that residents of every five to 10 homes in Los Altos Hills own flocks of chickens. The town’s 1-acre zoning allows property owners to maintain chickens, goats, cows, horses and other large animals. The city of Los Altos permits homeowners to raise one hen for every 1,000 square feet of space.

People are attracted to backyard chickens, Vanderlip noted, because they’re inexpensive – $3 or $4 per chick.

“It’s a nice, closed system in our own little yard,” said Vanderlip, touting the advantages of owning chickens. “You can’t get any more local than going out to your backyard to get an egg. … You could live on two eggs a day.”

In addition to environmental benefits, some chicken owners find joy in the relationships they build with their feathered friends.

“When we’re in the garden, they wander around our feet. … They’re right there waiting to get a bug or worm,” Vanderlip said.

He added that his oldest hen, Doodle, has the ability to perceive danger – she has survived two attacks by wild animals and outlived all of her mates in older flocks. Vanderlip said his chickens embody human characteristics.

“They look you in the eye,” he said. “There’s some intelligence there.

Urban homesteading

Los Altos resident Ron Hess pulls three light-brown eggs from nests of hay in a pint-sized coop he constructed for his brood of seven Barred Rock hens.

The coop, painted to match the Hess home, is equipped with a ladder, trap doors, operable windows, rain gutters on a shingled roof and a compact fluorescent light to comfort the chickens at night. Hess and his wife, Terese Tricamo, treat their hens like they would their own children.

Hess and Tricamo acquired their flock in April, inspired in part by Hess’ family roots in Mennonite farming. The couple compare their efforts to urban homesteading – a sustainable-living concept that incorporates farming techniques to increase self-sufficiency.

“If you do the work, it’s a great payoff,” said Hess, who added that he enjoys producing quality food and feeling connected to the ecosystem.

Their chickens provide eggs and garden fertilizer, and the family also maintains a beehive for pollinating the flowers, fruit trees and vegetables in their garden, improvised compost piles and a grain grinder for processing their harvest in the future.

Raising chickens poses challenges – unexpected predators strike the greatest fear in the hens and owners, according to Hess – but for the most part, the payoff outweighs the inconveniences.

“It’s 4 p.m. and I haven’t gone shopping,” Tricamo said. “I can grab some eggs, pick onions and tomatoes from the backyard and make quiche.”

Hess and Tricamo said they look forward to sharing their flock with Tour De Coop participants. They plan to entice visitors with zucchini and pumpkin bread made from this year’s harvest and their hens’ eggs.

For more information, visit tourdecoop.org.

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