Fri08012014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Special Sections

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies


Bill Steiner’s grass is green, left, even amid the drought. He followed Max Todd’s water and maintainence instructions after having his lawn aerated, Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Green lawns are not necessarily on the endangered list during the d...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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