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News

Police stress need for low speed in school zones

Police stress need for low speed in school zones


Town Crier File Photo
After two recent accidents involving cyclists and motorists, police urge caution – on both sides.

After two recent incidents of vehicles striking student bicyclists, Los Altos Police urge residents to exercise caution whe...

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Schools

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Students line up to check books out of the library in the new Grizzly Student Center at Gardner Bullis School.

Gardner Bullis School opened its new Grizzly Student Center earlier this month, introducing a lea...

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Community

Home improvement workshop scheduled Wednesday (Oct. 29)

The County of Santa Clara is hosting a free informational workshop on 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 Fremont Road.

The workshop will offer ways single-family homeowners can increase their homes’ energy efficiency. Eligible i...

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Comment

Off the fence: TC recommends 'yes' on N

The Town Crier initially offered no position on the controversial $150 million Measure N bond on Tuesday’s ballot. But some of the reasons we gave in our Oct. 15 editorial were, on reflection, overly critical and based on inaccurate information.

We ...

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Special Sections

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Forrest Linebarger, right, installed greywater and rainwater harvesting systems at his Los Altos Hills home.

With more brown than green visible in her Los Altos backyard, Kacey Fitzpatrick admits that she’s a little e...

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Business

Local realtors scare up money for charity

Local realtors scare up money for charity


Photo courtesy of SILVAR
Realtors Gary Campi and Jordan Legge, from left, joined Nancy Domich, SILVAR President Dave Tonna and Joe Brown to raise funds for the Silicon Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation.

Los Altos and Mountain View realtors raise...

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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

DAVID S. NIVISON

DAVID S. NIVISON

David S. Nivison, 91 years old, and a resident of Los Altos, California since 1952, died Oct. 16, 2014 at home.  His neighbors had recently honored him as the “Mayor of Russell Ave., in recognition of 62 years of distinguished living” on that ...

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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

ECYS opens season Sunday

ECYS opens season Sunday


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
The El Camino Youth Symphony rehearses for Sunday’s concert, above.

The El Camino Youth Symphony – under new conductor Jindong Cai – is scheduled to perform its season-opening concert 4 p.m....

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Spiritual Life

Christian Science Reading Room hosts webinar on prayer and healing

Christian Science practitioner and teacher Evan Mehlenbacher is scheduled to present a live Internet webinar lecture, “Prayer That Heals,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Christian Science Reading Room, 60 Main St., Los Altos.

Those interested ...

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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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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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