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News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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