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News

Police stress need for low speed in school zones

Police stress need for low speed in school zones


Town Crier File Photo
After two recent accidents involving cyclists and motorists, police urge caution – on both sides.

After two recent incidents of vehicles striking student bicyclists, Los Altos Police urge residents to exercise caution whe...

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Schools

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Students line up to check books out of the library in the new Grizzly Student Center at Gardner Bullis School.

Gardner Bullis School opened its new Grizzly Student Center earlier this month, introducing a lea...

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Community

Home improvement workshop scheduled Wednesday (Oct. 29)

The County of Santa Clara is hosting a free informational workshop on 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 Fremont Road.

The workshop will offer ways single-family homeowners can increase their homes’ energy efficiency. Eligible i...

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Comment

Off the fence: TC recommends 'yes' on N

The Town Crier initially offered no position on the controversial $150 million Measure N bond on Tuesday’s ballot. But some of the reasons we gave in our Oct. 15 editorial were, on reflection, overly critical and based on inaccurate information.

We ...

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Special Sections

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Forrest Linebarger, right, installed greywater and rainwater harvesting systems at his Los Altos Hills home.

With more brown than green visible in her Los Altos backyard, Kacey Fitzpatrick admits that she’s a little e...

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Business

Local realtors scare up money for charity

Local realtors scare up money for charity


Photo courtesy of SILVAR
Realtors Gary Campi and Jordan Legge, from left, joined Nancy Domich, SILVAR President Dave Tonna and Joe Brown to raise funds for the Silicon Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation.

Los Altos and Mountain View realtors raise...

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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

DAVID S. NIVISON

DAVID S. NIVISON

David S. Nivison, 91 years old, and a resident of Los Altos, California since 1952, died Oct. 16, 2014 at home.  His neighbors had recently honored him as the “Mayor of Russell Ave., in recognition of 62 years of distinguished living” on that ...

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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

ECYS opens season Sunday

ECYS opens season Sunday


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
The El Camino Youth Symphony rehearses for Sunday’s concert, above.

The El Camino Youth Symphony – under new conductor Jindong Cai – is scheduled to perform its season-opening concert 4 p.m....

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Spiritual Life

Christian Science Reading Room hosts webinar on prayer and healing

Christian Science practitioner and teacher Evan Mehlenbacher is scheduled to present a live Internet webinar lecture, “Prayer That Heals,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Christian Science Reading Room, 60 Main St., Los Altos.

Those interested ...

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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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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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