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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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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

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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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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Enjoying the native garden in winter


Photo By: Tanya Kucak/ Special to the Town Crier
Photo Tanya Kucak/ Special To The Town Crier

Manzanita flowers, above, burst forth in the rainy season, in shades ranging from pure white to deep pink. Each variety blooms on a different schedule and with a different color. Plant a variety of manzanitas to enjoy extended bloom times and the spectrum of delicate pinks.

Unless it’s cold and windy or raining heavily, winter is a wonderful time to linger in the garden. In mid- to late winter, some manzanitas have started blooming, and the fresh blue-green foliage of California poppies is forming a fluffy mound.

If you’re like me, you might intend to sit on a bench and observe your garden, but pretty soon you find yourself kneeling on the ground, pulling a tiny weed that has barely poked through the surface or gently brushing aside some mulch where a native wildflower is coming through. Or looking closely to see the tiny flowers on an evergreen currant.

With the soil moistened by winter rains, it’s easy to pull weeds. Once you’ve learned to distinguish weed seedlings from resprouting native annuals, you can remove the weeds while they’re small and give the annuals more room in the garden.

It’s also a good time to prune perennials and some shrubs. A good rule of thumb is to avoid cutting shrubs from the chaparral plant community during the rainy season, and to cut back other plants before the new buds have started forming. Manzanita and Ceanothus, for instance, are chaparral shrubs that bloom in winter and spring, so wait to cut them back – sparingly, if at all – until after they have bloomed.

Spreading perennials such as hummingbird fuchsia, Matilija Poppy and mugwort must be pruned in winter. Assuming they’ve been in the ground a year or two and have developed a strong root system, they benefit from being cut to a couple inches high. Left unmanicured, hummingbird fuchsia develops long branches with tufts of flowers at the tip, losing its lush, mounded form. (But varieties with thicker, woodier stems and taller habits need a lighter hand.) If the soil is not too wet, it’s also a good time to dig out sections that are crowding other plants and relocate them.

Perennials with flowering stems that tower above the mound of vegetation, as a general rule, only need to have their flowering stems cut back. Wait until the birds have eaten their fill of the seeds but before new growth starts in the spring.

Yarrow will look better if spent flowering stalks are cut to the ground now. Cut back only the spent flowering stems of native buckwheats, not the branches.

Sages that have not yet started showing new buds can still be shaped, but do not cut into the woody branches.

Woody vines, as well as deciduous trees and shrubs that lose their leaves in the winter, are also best pruned before new leaves emerge. Winter is a good time to bring wild grapevines under control. Without the leaves, it’s easier to see the form of the plant and, when it’s young, shape it. For specimen shrubs and large trees, either hire a professional arborist or leave them alone. Beginners can practice on wild rose and mock orange.

Coyote brush, though evergreen, is another good winter project for beginners. It grows fast, tolerates a great deal of pruning and shaping, and has even been used for topiaries.

Tanya Kucak gardens organically. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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