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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 ...

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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

‘Beautiful Ruins’ weaves complex threads of love


Rarely do I read a fiction book that feels like a true work of passion on the part of the author, but the best-seller “Beautiful Ruins“ (Harper, 2012) by Jess Walter is just such a work.

“Beautiful Ruins” is a crazy-quilt kind of novel – virtually every chapter skips to a different period in time and a different location with many new characters. Readers travel from Italy in the 1960s to Hollywood in the present, with multiple stops in between in Seattle and Sandpoint, Idaho.

At its heart, “Beautiful Ruins” is a love story. There is the “love at first sight” variety explored at the beginning of the book, when hero Pasquale Tursi first sees heroine Dee Moray: “Tursi watched the arrival of the woman as if in a dream. … She smiled, and in that instant, if such a thing were possible, Pasquale fell in love, and he would remain in love for the rest of his life.”

Other forms of love are shown, too, such as the love of Pasquale’s aunt for his mother, and Dee’s love for her challenging son, Pat. Other themes include the absurdity of the Hollywood obsession with youth and money and, my favorite, the role that casual encounters can play in making a profound difference in one’s life.

“Beautiful Ruins” is a complex novel that is difficult to summarize, and it would spoil many surprises for a reader to do so. But I can share that the book follows three major tracks: the story of Pasquale’s life and the relationship that develops between him and the beautiful young actress, Dee; the story of Claire, a plucky young film assistant who acts as the right-hand woman to Michael Deane, a first-class jerk of a Hollywood producer; and the story of Dee, who moves back to America to forge a normal life outside of movies. Suffice to say that the various threads are woven together and concluded happily by the end of the book.

Walter’s well-drawn characters amaze, surprise and generate loud laughs. Walter is a very good, versatile writer who throws in some lovely descriptions of the Italian countryside, some partial novels supposedly written by some of his characters and even some poetry. My favorite passages are his humorous sketches: “Upon meeting Michael for the first time, many people stare open-mouthed, unable to look away from his glistening, vaguely lifelike face. … Trying to picture what Michael Deane looked like as a young man in Italy fifty years ago based on his appearance now is like standing on Wall Street trying to understand the topography of Manhattan Island before the Dutch arrived.”

The only false note in the book involves the character of the evil Hollywood producer – a selfish, scheming, Machiavellian individual. I’ve already seen my share of greedy Hollywood producers, thank you very much, though I understand the need for at least one bad guy in the story. I expected that the Richard Burton cameo would be rather stereotypical as well, but it is quite charming and amusing and leads to a life-changing epiphany for Pasquale.

“Beautiful Ruins” is a most entertaining novel, and I believe the author when he claims that it took him 15 years to write. All types of book clubs should enjoy the story, particularly those that tackle engrossing fiction stories like “The Night Circus” (Random House, 2011) by Erin Morgenstern and “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” (Scholastic Press, 2007) by Brian Selznick.

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

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