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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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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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