Wed09172014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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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

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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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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Furry Friends: Los Altos hosts mixer for priests and pups


Crockett communes with Simba the shih tzu, visiting Maryknoll with the nonprofit Furry Friends.

Visit the Maryknoll community on Cristo Rey Drive in Los Altos on the right day of the month, and you’ll witness a spectacle of playing dogs and reminiscing priests.

The sanctuarylike acreage just across from Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve houses two dozen retired brothers and priests from the Catholic Foreign Mission Society. First established in 1911, it drew men who wanted to serve their faith by building social welfare programs in developing economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The assembled pets and their human chaperones visit from Furry Friends Pet Assisted Therapy Services. The Bay Area group sends volunteer teams to visit people living in nursing homes, health facilities and shelters – the folks who aren’t able to keep pets themselves.

Los Altos resident Judy Brigham, who heads up the team that visits Maryknoll each month, explained that they practice pet therapy – the application, quite literally, of pets to the people who need some time with a loving animal. Take one snuggle from a shih tzu, and then return to your regular health regimen. Any animal that enjoys human companionship is welcome to join the group, but the Maryknoll posse was strictly canine, including a German shepherd, a greyhound and two shih tzus.

Priests hold their visitors (or get a full-body lean, from the larger dogs) and, with little prompting, share their stories of animal encounters past. From rabid dogs in the Philippines to mongoose-hunting island dogs in Hawaii, the fathers and brothers have seen their share of canines while serving around the world.

Brother Duane Crockett found himself enfolded in the lengthy curve of Liberty, a retired racing greyhound who melted against his legs. Crockett has lived at Mary- knoll for more than a decade, after serving around the world and, more recently, at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.

“Our group has been in 32 countries in the world. We bring the word of God through assisting in projects to better their lives,” he said of the communities they’ve served in.

On a typical day now, the retired men see rabbits, wild turkeys, perhaps coyotes during the right season – but they lack the steady presence of loved pets.

Finding a canine calling in volunteer visits

On a visit this summer, everyone gathered in the shade underneath cedar trees in Maryknoll’s garden to scritch ruffs and watch the pups perform. Liberty demonstrated her speed on command, a streak of gray racing across the lawn at up to 40 mph.

When she isn’t at Maryknoll working the crowd, Liberty visits a school in Santa Clara where students practice their literacy by reading to her.

Bella, one of Brigham’s shih tzus, began life as show dog before retiring and finding her new, adoptive, home.

“She misses the ring,” Brigham said of Bella’s glory days. “Show dogs and greyhounds from the track get used to being handled from birth.”

Bella’s counterpart, Simba, “tolerates everything,” Brigham said, recounting a time when he stayed calm in the arms of a Parkinson’s patient whose grip became involuntarily rigid, pinning the dog in place.

Dogs interested in joining Furry Friends only need basic obedience training and undergo a screening process with their owners. A volunteer role-plays the use of a wheelchair and canes. Trainers watch for the pup’s reaction – for instance, when an exuberant young golden retriever jumped on a wheelchair’s (simulated) occupant, they decided the dog should head toward juvenile hall, where young people yearn for that kind of lively energy.

The group, a nonprofit, is always open to new members.

For more information, visit furryfriends.org.

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