Mon10202014

News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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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

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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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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"The Silver Star" illuminates resilience of young heroines


Author Jeannette Wells is no stranger to dysfunction.

Her best-selling memoir, “The Glass Castle” (Scribner, 2006), chronicles her hardscrabble childhood roaming from town to town in the desert before settling into a life of poverty in West Virginia. Her follow-up, “Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel” (Scribner, 2009), explores the adventurous life of her grandmother, an unconventional rodeo rider and bootlegger.

Walls’ latest novel, “The Silver Star” (Scribner, 2013), once again features resilient young girls who overcome trying circumstances. Liz, 15, and Jean (nicknamed “Bean”), 12, travel on their own from California to their mother’s hometown of Byler, Va., to stay with their elderly Uncle Tinsley. Their mother, Charlotte, has run off to Southern California for an indefinite time in a never-ending effort to pursue her dubious singing and acting career.

Life in 1970s Byler holds many advantages for the girls, but they run into a heap of trouble when they accept employment from the local mill boss and town bully, Jerry Maddox.

Two themes ring loud and clear in “The Silver Star”: the depths of Charlotte’s dysfunction and the injustices of the adult world.

It’s obvious from where Walls derives her inspiration: “The Glass Castle” documented her childhood with an alcoholic, delusional father and a free-spirited mother, both of whom proved candidates for the Worst Parent of the Year Award, Lifetime Achievement. But as in “The Glass Castle,” young heroines Bean and Liz deal with a large dose of injustice, and it is impressive to see how the girls handle themselves during the crisis.

Despite the larger, compelling themes, the real charm of “The Silver Star” lies in the descriptions and attitudes of and anecdotes about Byler’s residents. These are beautifully drawn characters: Bean has an aunt who works hard all day at the mill and comes home to cook and care for her physically disabled husband and four children, one of whom is probably mentally disabled. Yet this family has fun times, too, such as when they all go deep into the woods to pick chestnuts from the few remaining trees.

Liz and Bean, too, talk like real children and have a believable assortment of quirks and insecurities. In some respects, the book reads like a coming-of-age story as Liz comes to embrace a more unconventional path in life after adopting a pair of emus that belong to a neighbor: “She felt that she was sort of like an emu. … Both she and emus wanted to fly – they just didn’t have the wings they needed.”

In addition to rich characters, “The Silver Star” illuminates the political context of the day, with racial tensions in particular described in a nicely nuanced way. The book is set in 1970, when federal law forced schools in Byler to integrate. Tensions boil over at the first high school football game, and a huge fight erupts. Students later discuss the violence and other topics in class with surprising sensitivity and an encouraging give-and-take.

Fans of “The Glass Castle” will surely enjoy “The Silver Star.” I would highly recommend it as a selection for a women’s book club.

Leslie Ashmore is a longtime Mountain View resident who belongs to two book clubs.

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