Wed05062015

News

LASD, city move toward land discussions

The ice may be thawing a bit as the Los Altos School District and the city of Los Altos consider resurrecting discussions on the potential use of public land as a school site.

The city voted to discontinue conversations about civic land with the sch...

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Schools

Mental health expert dispels myths

Mental health expert dispels myths


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Palo Alto University Professor Paul Marcille addresses a crowd of psychology students and mental health activists last week about myths surrounding mental illness and violence.

In the wake of the 2011 Sandy Hook Elementa...

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Community

Q&A: Meet the city's new public works and administrative services directors

The city of Los Altos has hired three new department directors in the past ten months. The Town Crier recently profiled new Recreation Director Manny Hernandez. This week, the Town Crier profiles Susana Chan, new public works director, and Kim Juran-...

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Comment

Familiar icon pops up in Los Altos: A Piece of My Mind

I was walking to my car parked on State Street when my eye fell on an old familiar acquaintance from my early childhood, totally unexpected to meet in Los Altos. It was the “Steinway” logo over the door of the new Steinway Piano Gallery,...

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Special Sections

New Los Altos shop brews milk tea for gourmands

New Los Altos shop brews milk tea for gourmands


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Teaspoon, the milk tea shop at Village Court in Los Altos, above, serves a range of bubble teas and snow ice drinks, right.

Los Altos made it onto the milk tea map this spring with the opening of Teaspoon, a new bubble tea ...

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Business

Ed center scores spot in Foothills Crossing

Ed center scores spot in Foothills Crossing


Alicia Castro/ Town Crier
C2 Los Altos tutor Max Shih, left, instructs Homestead High School student Rajesh Suresh.

Los Altos families have a new resource for helping their children ace the test.

C2 Los Altos – a recently opened education cente...

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Books

People

DOROTHY RUTH MATHIS PUDER

DOROTHY RUTH MATHIS PUDER

9/17/1918-4/15/2015

Dorothy Puder died on April 15th in Sunnyvale, California. She will be remembered for her gentle, loving, positive and caring ways and will be greatly missed by family and friends.

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

 PYT's comedic musical opens this weekend in Mtn. View

PYT's comedic musical opens this weekend in Mtn. View


Lyn Flaim/Spotlight Moments Photography
The cast of Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Once Upon a Mattress” includes, from left, Sophia Graziani (of Los Altos) as Winnifred, Chris Gough (Sunnyvale) as the Prince and Reilly Arena (Palo Alto) as the Queen. ...

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Spiritual Life

Mercifully in His grip: Exploring our true position in Christ

I recently read a wonderful analogy about our true position in Christ. It was shockingly contrary to the messages impressed upon me in church, but deeply rooted in the Bible. The analogy is that of child and a parent. If you have ever taken a small ...

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Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth


Courtesy of Challenge Team
Jeanette Freiberg, bottom of pile, has fun with family members. The Challenge Team named Freiberg, a student at Mountain View High School, its 2015 Youth Champion.

There’s an ongoing joke among members of the Challenge...

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Make outdoor entertaining easier with extra garden seating


Joy Albright-Souza/Special to the Town Crier
A low garden wall adds easy, impromptu seating to gardens of all sizes.

We are in the middle of outdoor entertaining season, when many of us use our gardens and patios daily. When designing outdoor spaces and deciding which furniture and accessories will function best in them, it’s essential to consider the types of people and activities that will share the space.

Do you plan to host small groups of adults using stemware, or boisterous children’s parties featuring finger foods? You may be doing both – and more. It’s important to work with the space to allow flexibility that enhances all kinds of gatherings.

A seat at the table – or on it

Most backyards have space for a dining set, a lounge arrangement or simple bistro seating, but you may need extra seating on occasion. My favorite functional accessory for accommodating diverse types of entertaining is a sturdy side table/stool combination.

A versatile stool can serve as impromptu seating, a stable perch for a drink or plate, a safe place to set down a laptop or tablet and a spot for feet-up comfort at the end of the day. To find the best options, search for stools with flat tops that can hold a drink without tipping and shapes that can be tucked out of the way.

Also, shop for small side tables made of wood or metal that can hold the weight of an adult. Glass tops and delicate features won’t work, but solidly built nesting sets get extra points.

Benches also function well for both sitting and setting as long as they are strong enough not to tip when a person sits on one end. For this reason, built-in benches are particularly nice to add to decks or arbors.

A perch on the wall

The most versatile outdoor seating option is a low garden wall. Consider a seating wall if you are renovating a landscape or designing a new one. A garden may already need a functioning retaining wall for a raised bed or a grade change. In that case, make sure that the finished height is less than 24 inches – 18 inches is optimal – to accommodate most adults.

In addition, the top of the wall will need to be smooth and wide enough to be comfortable for sitting or setting down a plate.

Freestanding walls that don’t retain soil but are used as a design element to divide spaces will operate just as well for casual seating. Pillows or custom cushions add comfort and color.

One of my success stories for wall seating is at the home of a client who has a very narrow backyard. At only 12 feet wide, her space was limited, but she loves to entertain. She already had a raised bed with a wall of rough, stacked stone, but its only use was to hold up the soil around some rosebushes. In the process of redesigning her garden, she redid the wall with a smoother material; a wide, comfortable cap was added to the top; and soft-foliaged plants replaced the rose bushes. Immediately, her 500-square-foot garden could seat 30 people without ever renting or storing an extra chair.

A stair to rest on

One of the most overlooked garden features for impromptu seating is stairs. Watch small children in a garden and if given the option, they will gravitate toward a stair to sit with their Popsicles. It’s the ideal height for toddlers.

Landscape features such as decks can be designed to create wide, gracious steps where children and petite-legged people can sit, as long as they aren’t in the middle of a high-traffic area. Transitions from different levels within a landscape can also be designed with this additional use in mind.

Whether garden gatherings are large and loud or small and intimate, consider combining permanent features with flexible elements to create options and comfort for all kinds of outdoor entertaining.

Joy Albright-Souza is a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. For more information, visit albrightsouza.com or per-joy.com.

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