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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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Angles and views: Los Altos Hills home offers challenge to mind and eye


Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Caye and Richard Johnson’s Los Altos Hills home boasts an angular backyard deck that juts from their large windows. The Johnsons constructed their home to mimic a treehouse, with no perfectly perpendicular lines.

Caye and Richard Johnson live in a treehouse – sort of.

Their multilevel home, built on a steeply sloped lot in Los Altos Hills, is a product of the Loma Prieta earthquake and their love of architecture. The view inside from the dramatic entry is of trees.

The Johnsons have lived on the property for 44 years. They loved the first house they built, which was Eichlerlike with a glass wall. But the 1989 quake caused it to separate nearly in half, leaving it habitable but in dire condition.

Rather than rebuild and retrofit it, they decided to start over.

“We looked for a young architect wanting to do interesting things,” said Richard, a fan of Richard Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright.

“I didn’t want a square, boxy house,” said Caye, who had seen too many rentals that were advertised as light-filled but were depressingly dark.

Tobin Dougherty of Palo Alto filled the bill and, together with the Johnsons, designed a contemporary house that is all about angles and views. There are no square rooms.

An artistic space

Intersecting triangles form the motif, the most dramatic of which is the “prow” extending over the front entry. The front door continues the triangular motif in three different woods infilled with stonelike epoxy.

Ceiling beams extending from the interior to the exterior emphasize the lines. And five sets of vertical beams, which move as a unit, stabilize the house and add architectural interest.

Caye’s favorite view is from the backyard looking toward the soaring living room windows.

A plethora of glass capitalizes on the views from the 3,850-square-foot, four-bedroom house, which boasts a formal dining room, great room and study. The bar and a portion of the kitchen are cantilevered – “a tricky way to gain space,” Richard said.

A wine cellar and a barrel room with winemaking equipment are on the garage level.

Richard describes the house as “creative modern” based on angles that take advantage of the hillside and the sun.

“It is a continual challenge to the mind and eye,” he said.

In Dougherty’s words, “Juxtaposed angles, pathways, sun and site intertwine in a 45-degree dance of dramatic – yet domestic and intimate – artistic space.”

“Artistic” is the operative word, considering the eye-catching art pieces created by Richard. Noteworthy is one titled “Heavy Metal,” which measures 5-feet-by-10-feet and is made of Styrofoam shipping containers sprayed black. It hangs in the living room near a post-World War II handmade Rippen piano from Holland.

On another wall is a similar piece made from ink-cartridge shipping containers. Richard likes making things from found junk.

“This is interesting,” he says to himself. “What can I do with it?”

His muse could be Louise Nevelson.

The light-filled interiors provide a gallerylike setting for favorite things collected on their travels around the country and abroad.

Both worked in life sciences at Ames Research Center and spent a couple of months at the Johnson Space Center in 1969 analyzing the Apollo moon rocks. In addition, Richard worked on the Viking Mission to Mars and Caye worked on the space station.

After retiring from Ames, Richard worked at SRI before becoming a consultant and then turning his full attention to building the house.

A modern masterpiece

The Johnsons laid the slate floors themselves. Danish wood floors complement the slate.

The kitchen, on the first level, features a black and brown color scheme. The SieMatic cabinets from Germany are stained cherry, and the countertops are granite. The island is a 7-foot-by-6-foot trapezoidal slab of nearly black granite with red accents. The Johnsons used cardboard and plywood to mock up the island and create the perfect shape.

The kitchen includes a breakfast nook and flows into the great room, which features a Swedish corner fireplace.

Also on this level are the dining room, bar and powder room.

The powder room’s heavily textured black walls have traces of red, gold and silver – the perfect foil for a vibrant, masklike “face” that’s a clever composite of the face of Michelangelo’s David overpainted with a scene from the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The couple purchased it

in Florence.

A few steps down is the living room. From there, staircases with custom wrought-iron railings lead up to Richard’s study and down to the bedrooms.

The master suite features an earth-toned marble bathroom. The open walk-in shower is like a greenhouse.

“It’s like showering with nature,” Caye said.

No wonder. The house sits on a 1.5-acre lot that is parklike.

The Johnsons have four grown children and are in the process of downsizing – no easy task.

When they built their modern masterpiece two decades ago, their youngest child asked, “Mom and Dad, why can’t you build a regular house?”


Richard and Caye Johnson's "treehouse" - Photos by Los Altos Town Crier

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