Tue09162014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Truly unconditional love: Haugh About That?

For the fourth week in a row, the piercing ring of the telephone disturbed my mother’s midday quiet in September 1960. Slowly picking up the receiver, she held her breath hoping it was just a wrong number.

“Mrs. Madden,” Sister Mary sneered, “Jackie will be spending the afternoon in detention – again.”

Chanting a mea culpa, my mom sought pardon for her 8-year-old daughter. As she was about to promise the black-frocked warden that I’d be duly crucified at home, the angry nun steamed, “Doesn’t she ever shut up?”

Later that afternoon, as I was released from my prison cell at St. Charles School in San Carlos, I came face-to-face with my parole office and her infuriated glare. “Jackie, what’s gotten into you? You used to be so good.”

Feeling the intensity of her disapproval escalate, I bowed my head and whimpered, “I’m sorry, Mommy. Does this mean you don’t love me anymore?”

Instantly, the stiffness in her back turned to rose-colored Jell-O as she bent down and took me into her arms. With a soft voice now void of all anger, I heard, “I’m not happy with you right now, but I’ll always love you.”

Over the years, this message was repeated not just for my benefit, but for my three brothers’ as well. But as the arms of the antique cuckoo clock spun in lazy circles toward adulthood, I wondered how she could keep reciting it when one member of the family’s choices constantly caused consternation.

As children, the Maddens resembled images from a Norman Rockwell painting. Life was innocent and sweet. The only discord that erupted centered on who got the last piece of chocolate cake. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, our baby brother’s actions chipped away at the peaceful serenity that cherished childhood memories bring. The phone calls received on his behalf made my indiscretions look like small dribbles of milk dotting my chin, easy to wipe away.

Every family has one member who makes us cringe at times. It’s just how life goes, but reflecting on my parents’ struggle with the twists and turns of raising a child laced in heartache, there was a question I needed my father to answer: “Dad, how are you able to still care so deeply?” I blurted one night while spoon-feeding his medications.

Looking up from his wheelchair, he took my hand and said simply, “He’s my son.”

Now, I’ve always understood that a parent’s love for his or her child is unconditional – that intense affection that has no limitations. I feel it for my kids every day. But when a person becomes toxic and poisons the surroundings you live in, it can feel like an impossible task.

Seeing the question still lingering in my confused eyes, Dad pulled me close to share a secret he’d been keeping all these years. “I understand that you might need to detach yourself from him physically, but it’s his soul you must love. That’s what God sees and holds in his hands.”

My father taught me many things during our time together for which I’m eternally thankful, but I have to say this was the most powerful.

I’ve always been grateful for those who are easy to love. Maybe it was because I was getting something in return – a warm touch, a positive response, a gesture of kindness. But my father understood that loving the soul unconditionally despite the fact that it may be hurtful not only encouraged a balanced heart, but also kept you in tune with God’s vision for the world. “We should love because of who we are, not because who they are,” he said.

Thanks, Dad.

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