Wed05042016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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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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