Fri10242014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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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

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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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

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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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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Insects play crucial role in the garden


Tanya Kucak/Town Crier
Native Buckwheat attracts numerous pollinators and other beneficial insects, including honeybees.

Lions and tigers and bears are the charismatic megafauna of the larger world. In the garden, the charismatic megafauna of the insect world are butterflies and dragonflies.

Spotting butterflies and dragonflies feels like a gift, but the more time I spend in the garden, the more I appreciate all insects.

Insects are the engines that make a garden ecosystem work. Their crucial roles include pollination, waste disposal and seed dispersal. I’ve observed that plant-eating insects often prey on the weakest plants, and beneficial insects keep the plant-eating insects in check. Birds are attracted to the insect buffet of a healthy garden.

If you’re interested in creating or improving a garden that welcomes wildlife, find a copy of Nancy Bauer’s new book, “The California Wildlife Habitat Garden: How to Attract Bees, Butterflies, Birds, and Other Animals” (UC Press, 2012).

Abundantly illustrated with color photos, the book has five chapters that focus on the basics of wildlife gardens, bird habitats, butterfly gardens, pond gardens and front-yard habitat gardens. Up to half of each chapter consists of one or more garden profiles that bring the art of habitat design down to earth, with details such as using sand-filled burlap bags to create steps in a pond.

Bauer relates the gardeners’ stories of why they started their gardens, how they have changed over time, what successful elements they contain and what wildlife the gardeners have observed. An annotated plant list for each garden notes which ones are native and describes who visits them or how they’re used.

If you’ve participated in native garden tours or seminars in the Bay Area, you may recognize some of the featured gardens and gardeners.

Sidebars sprinkled through the book cover special topics such as a screened treeway for house cats to observe birds, what makes a useful nest box for birds, sheet mulching to convert a lawn to a habitat garden and plant combinations for pots.

Although Pacific Chorus frogs are featured in the chapter on wildlife ponds, other amphibians and reptiles are mentioned only briefly. Notably, ticks that bite the Western Fence lizard “are purged of any Lyme disease bacteria hiding in their gut,” Bauer writes, which may be why Lyme disease is less prevalent in the West.

This is a book about how to attract the wildlife you want, not about how to exclude the wildlife you don’t want. Although Bauer mentions deer-resistant plants, she does not cover the topic in depth. Nor does she discuss gophers, squirrels, raccoons or roof rats, except to suggest container plantings to foil gophers. That’s partly because of the mindset of some of the wildlife gardeners she interviews. For example, Kathy Biggs “bestows ownership of the pond to her wildlife,” including fox families and raccoons, whom she calls “the great re-arrangers.”

The final quarter of the book is devoted to 10 appendices with summaries of practical information, including natural gardening guidelines and resource lists (books and nurseries). The plant lists are annotated and recommend seasonal plants for hummingbirds, common California butterflies and their host plants, what to plant in hedgerows and under oaks, and top nectar and pollen plant families.

The book could be even more useful if its index covered more than plant names, but that won’t stop me from recommending it.

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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