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News

LAH measure could boost sewer rates significantly

The Los Altos Hills City Council’s approval of a series of sewer service rate increases means residents could soon see a hefty jump in their tax bills.

There are 1,749 single-family residential units within Los Altos Hills and each currently p...

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Schools

MVLA foundation recounts first year of Learning in the Cloud

MVLA foundation recounts first year of Learning in the Cloud


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Robert Barker, Los Altos High World Literature teacher, demonstrates how students use online discussion in class.

Technology is no longer seen as a distraction in the classroom, as students in the Mountain View Los Altos ...

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Community

Faria and friends unite to raise funds for cancer research

Faria and friends unite to raise funds for cancer research


Courtesy of Joseph Faria
Supporters of last month’s Relay For Life event in Mountain View include, from left, Los Altos residents Matthew Aufricht, Connor Chu, Matthew Demele and Dominic, Eileen and Joseph Faria. The Los Altos Relay For Life is sla...

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Sports

Right  on track

Right on track


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View High sophomore Rachael Estell leaps for the win in the girls long jump Friday at the CCS championships.

As far as locals go, the underclassmen overshadowed the seniors at the Central Coast Section track and ...

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Comment

Coffee with cops? We'll drink to that: Editorial

The recent “Coffee with a Cop” event proved a good public relations move for the Los Altos Police Department. It also provided a great opportunity for residents to ask questions and converse with several officers, including the police chief, in an in...

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Special Sections

Deciphering the irksome sounds cars often make

Ahh – the troublesome, telltale auto noise. It’s that squeak, screech, squeal, groan, grind, hum, hiss, rattle, knock, clicking or ticking that drives drivers crazy.

Even with all the technology in modern cars, the sounds our cars make t...

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Business

Local couple launches downtown restaurant

Local couple launches downtown restaurant


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
The Turn Bar & Grill crew prepares for the restaurant’s impending opening.

Jim and Julie Otis are prepared to realize their longtime dream.

The couple – lifelong Los Altos residents – wanted to ensure ...

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Books

Horan's 'Loving Frank' offers fictionalized account of famed architect's illicit affair

Horan's 'Loving Frank' offers fictionalized account of famed architect's illicit affair


In the 1920s, two married people fall in love, leave their spouses and children and set about living and traveling together. Affairs of this sort were considered shocking at the time. But the scandal was heightened given that the man was Frank Lloy...

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People

DR. WALLACE IRA SAMPSON

DR. WALLACE IRA SAMPSON

     

Dr. Wallace Ira Sampson, 85, passed away peacefully on Monday, May 25, at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. He leaves his wife of 59 years, Rita (nee Landry) Sampson, brother Sandy, sons Robert, Paul (Suzanne), Buck (Kathryn), ...

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Travel

Flying south for the winter: Antarctica trips are not just for the birds

Flying south for the winter: Antarctica trips are not just for the birds


Photos Courtesy of Dave Hadden
Los Altos residents Dave and Joan Hadden watched the scenery from the large boat and a smaller Zodiac.

Standing on the beach with hundreds of thousands of penguins is “the experience of a lifetime,” according to Ga...

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Stepping Out

Kushner's 'Angels' arrives at Foothill

Kushner's 'Angels' arrives at Foothill


David Allen/Special to the Town Crier
Harper Pitt (Sophia Naylor) describes her life to Joe Pitt (Dan Martin) in “Angels in America,” playing in the Lohman Theatre at Foothill College through June 14.

The Foothill Theatre Arts Department’s produ...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Native plants serve many practical uses


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Yarrow is a convenient and effective first-aid remedy found in the garden. Crush a leaf and apply it to any cut or scrape for quick relief. The native white and Island Pink varieties have the most medicinal value. You can also eat the young leaves in salads.

When I’m working in my garden late and the mosquitoes are biting, I usually rub an aromatic plant on my arms and face to minimize bites and keep welts from rising. For those times when I’m away from my garden, I recently learned how to make a simple bug spray using native plants.

At a talk sponsored by the Gardening with Natives group of the California Native Plant Society, Alicia Funk, an expert in plant-based medicine, said mugwort was an especially effective bug repellent. To make it, she fills a glass jar with the plants, pours boiling water over them and lets them steep overnight. In the morning, she strains the overnight infusion and puts it in a spray bottle. Other plants that can be added to the mixture include California Bay, Mountain Pennyroyal or Coyote Mint, Yerba Santa or manzanita.

I’m delighted to find this practical use for mugwort, because it’s a vigorous plant that needs to be pruned regularly to keep it within bounds.

For poison oak, Funk makes a spray using manzanita leaves in the same way: Fill a jar with manzanita leaves, pour boiling water over them, let the mixture steep overnight and strain. Put the liquid in a spray bottle for easy application. The astringency of the leaves dries rashes and is a very effective treatment, she said. Other plants that have been used to treat poison oak include mugwort, California Bay, Yerba Santa, acorn shells and Grindelia.

Did you notice that bay, manzanita and mugwort could be used in both formulas? One of the first things I noticed when I began studying herbs was that the same herbs seemed to be used for many different conditions, which made me think it was a scattershot approach. But as I learned more, I realized that this is a strength, because you can substitute what’s available. For first-aid uses, often all you need is a certain property. For an insect repellent, you need aromatics that repel bugs. For poison oak, you need something that calms the itching or that’s anti-inflammatory.

Funk’s household cleaner for the past four years is also an overnight infusion she makes from native plants. She uses California Bay leaves and the bright-green tips of Douglas Fir branches and adds distilled vinegar to the strained mixture. It’s an all-purpose spray she uses to clean wood floors and disinfect countertops.

"If you can boil water," Funk said, "you can make these useful concoctions."

Even her 5-year-old knows about yarrow. When someone has a minor injury, instead of getting a Band-Aid, he runs to the garden to get some yarrow leaves. Lightly crushed and applied to a cut or scrape, the leaves stop the bleeding and quickly reduce pain. The most effective varieties are the native white or Island Pink Yarrow.

Tanya Kucak gardens organically. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . n

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