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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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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

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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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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A story of suffering, love and faith: the life of Gil Ahrens

A little more than a decade ago, Gil Ahrens and his wife, Kim, had their lives upended by an automobile accident. The accident left Kim paralyzed and Gil badly injured. Although the accident was tragic, it gave them something that they treasure today – a deeper relationship with God and new perspective on why God allows suffering.

Gil describes the accident and events surrounding it in his book, “Shattered, Shaken and Stirred: Reconnecting with What Matters Most after Loss and Adversity” (Positano Press, 2009).

I had opportunities both to read his book and to sit down with Ahrens to discuss the accident and his Christian faith.

Ahrens grew up in Suffield, Conn., as did his father. His mother emigrated from Germany.

“Both parents were involved in the church and I was raised in the church,” Ahrens said.

He came to the Bay Area in 1990 and worked as a strategic planner with Sanyo before getting into finance and investment. His career has taken him to the investment heavyweights Piper Jaffray & Co. and JP Morgan Chase & Co. among others. Today, he works as a private banker with Citigroup Inc.

The accident

Ahrens, his wife, Kim, their 3-week old baby, Olivia, and Ahrens’ sister traveled to Colorado in October 2002 for the wedding of Ahrens’ cousin John. As they drove from the wedding reception, a car driven by a drunken teenage driver traveling at 95 miles per hour crossed the median strip and hit their car Ahrens was driving 60 miles per hour in the opposite direction.

“I could see this thing unfold,” Ahrens said. “Things seemed to slow down. The impact, I realized, was inevitable. I prayed, ‘Oh God, Oh God, save us.’ What is amazing is I palpably felt God’s presence. It’s chilling, even as I recount it. God said, ‘This is going to be bad, but don’t worry because I’ll be with you.’ And I didn’t just hear Him, I felt Him.

Miraculously, his baby and his sister were fine. Ahrens was injured but conscious and would fully recover. Kim, however, was severely injured. She shattered her leg and broke her neck. Within a few days, it was discovered that she had no movement from her shoulders down and the long rehabilitation process began.

Faith, friends and family

Over the next several months, many other issues had to be addressed – getting back to the Bay Area, getting the right medical care, dealing with insurance companies, coping with the financial challenges and having to move from their dream, multilevel San Francisco home, which Kim could not navigate. Friends and family rallied around the Ahrens and gave them love, prayers and support.

“The only way I kept from getting completely unwound and unglued was by throwing myself at God’s feet,” Ahrens wrote in his book.

With intense physical therapy, prayer and courage, Kim gradually regained feeling and movement well beyond what her doctors expected. Kim eventually regained enough movement to be able to drive a specially equipped vehicle and even ski with equipment adapted for her use.

“(Kim’s) growing freedom from within the confines of quadriplegia was directly correlated to her determination to work hard and to work with God,” Ahrens wrote. “More than anyone I knew, (Kim) did not just invite God into her life, she yielded her life to Him.  She let Him take over.”

God and suffering

Ahrens observes that everyone eventually experiences something bad, but what is most important is what we do when bad things happen to us. For Ahrens and his wife, the tremendous disruption in their lives and their suffering drew them closer to God.

In the conclusion, he writes: “The key to everything – to surviving, coping with loss, adapting to changed realities and managing to get by – is primarily an attitude defined by three words, Faith, Hope and Love. And that is how we find and reconnect with joy.”

Skip Vaccarello is a longtime Los Altos resident. For more information, visit findinggodinsiliconvalley.com. Interviews from this site will be used as part of an upcoming book.

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