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News

Spooktacular moved indoors


Due to rain, today's downtown Los Altos Halloween activities have been moved to the indoor courtyard of Play! at 170 State St. Enter from the back on the parking lot side to participate in crafts, games and fun. Activities continue until 4 p.m.

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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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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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