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News

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk


Courtesy of Microbe World
Colorized low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria

When E. coli and other bacteria were discovered in some Los Altos water last week, officials from the local water supplier, California Water...

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Schools

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The six-week, tuition-free Stretch to Kindergarten program, hosted at Bullis Charter School, serves children who have not attended preschool. A teacher leads children in singing about the parts of a butterfly, above.

Local un...

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Community

Google car painting project calls on artists

Google car painting project calls on artists


Google self-driving car

Already known as an innovator in the tech field, Google Inc. is now moving in on the art world.

The Mountain View-based company July 11 launched the “Paint the Town” contest, a “moving art experiment” that invites Califo...

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Sports

Pedaling with a purpose

Pedaling with a purpose


courtesy of
Rishi Bommannan Rishi Bommannan cycled from Bates College in Maine to his home in Los Altos Hills, taking several selfies along the way. He also raised nearly $13,000 for the Livestrong Foundation, which supports cancer patients.

When R...

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Comment

The truth about coyotes: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s recent article on coyotes venturing down from the foothills in search of sustenance referenced the organization Project Coyote (“Recent coyote attacks keep residents on edge,” July 1). Do not waste your time contac...

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Special Sections

Grant Park senior program made permanent

Grant Park senior program made permanent


Photos by Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Local residents participate in an exercise class at the Grant Park Senior Center, above. Betsy Reeves, below left with Gail Enenstein, lobbied for senior programming in south Los Altos.

It all began when Betsy Reev...

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Business

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Los Altos Rug Gallery owner Fahim Karimi stocks his State Street store with a wall-to-wall array of floor coverings.

A new downtown business owner plans to roll out the red carpet – along with rugs of every other color –...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

Resident of Los Altos

Grace Wilson Franks, our beloved mother and grandmother, left us peacefully on July 16, 2015 just a few weeks short of her 92nd birthday. She was born to Ross and Florence (Cruzan) Wilson in rural Tulare, California on Septem...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Going out with a 'Bang'

Going out with a 'Bang'


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” stars, clockwise from top left, Alexander Sanchez, Sophia Sturiale, Deborah Rosengaus and Danny Martin.

Los Altos Stage Company and Los Altos Youth Theatre’s joint production of t...

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Spiritual Life

Build a 'light' house and get out of that dark place

Most of us have a place inside our hearts and minds that occasionally causes us trouble. For some, it is sadness, depression or despair. For others, it may be fear, anger, resentment or myriad other emotional “dark places” that at times seem to hij...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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Festive Filoli: Historic estate opens doors to celebrate holidays in style


Photos Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Volunteers, above and below, trim the Christmas trees for Filoli’s “Holiday Traditions,” which opens Friday. Los Altos resident Margaret Ong, left, serves as chairwoman for the second year. The event features an array of decorations, bottom.

What takes thousands of hours and 700-plus volunteers nearly a year to produce?

Clue: It’s a much-anticipated holiday event that began 31 years ago when a prominent Woodside family opened its home to friends during the holidays.

The home is Filoli, a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The owners were Lurline and William Roth of Matson Lines. And the event is the nine-day “Holiday Traditions,” which begins Friday night with a gala premier shopping party.

To celebrate the holiday season, the Roths filled their home with orchid leis from Hawaii, candles and fir trees. They placed wreaths made of holly and evergreens from Filoli’s 16 acres of English Renaissance gardens in every window – not a simple undertaking considering that the house is 36,000 square feet. It is recognized as one of the finest remaining country estates of the 20th century.

The wow factor

No wonder it takes tons of time and talent to ready Filoli for the holiday event, which supports the estate’s preservation and stewardship.

In keeping with tradition, the house will be aglow with lights and festooned with greenery and flowers. The foyer will boast garlands of orchids, frosted foliage and icicles.

“We want it to wow people,” said Margaret Ong of Los Altos, chairwoman of the event for the second consecutive year. “And we want it to be surprising.”

Among the surprises are the changes from room to room – notably in the dining room – and the addition of a “flower corner” near the grand staircase, where visitors can create their own holiday arrangements.

“We’ll have supplies available as well as crafters and floral arrangers to offer advice,” Ong said.

The first floor of the stately house, the Filoli Cafe and the Visitors and Education Center are all lavishly decorated. However, the event is equally known for the surprising range of items for sale throughout the house.

Ong describes it as a giant boutique with “exceptional merchandise” selected by Filoli buyer Linda Fujimoto or created by Filoli volunteers. Fujimoto began her quest in January at the Atlanta gift show, followed by trips to shows in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

For the past four years, the event has had a woodland theme.

“We wanted something more elegant this year,” said Ong, who, along with Fujimoto, came up with the theme “Ice Fantasy.”

Think snow and ice and glitter and critters – namely polar bears, penguins, snowy owls, bunnies and white peacocks.

A postcard-like Christmas tree forest occupies one wall in the reception room, where the main attraction is a dazzling 16-foot tree.

Old-fashioned holiday decorations and traditional gift items can be found in the adjacent drawing room, known as the “Red Room” because of its decor.

The kitchen is now a farmers’ market, and the butler’s pantry and hallway sport a soda-fountain motif.

Expanding on the food theme, vendors with carts have set up shop in the dining room, replacing the elegantly appointed banquet table visitors have come to expect. Jerk’N Pickle, a favorite of the San Mateo Farmers’ Market, will be there, along with Buttercup Cakes of Santa Cruz, Carol Hall’s Hot Pepper Jelly Co. of Fort Bragg and Katie’s Candies of Chehalis, Wash.

“It was time to mix things up, and farmers’ markets are all the rage right now,” Fujimoto said.

There’ll even be Filoli products – seasonings, herbs, vinegars and teas – for sale at checkout in the Garden House.

Among other surprises are a French parfumerie, a men’s library and a shop (housed in the study) selling clothing, shoes and accessories. The latter even has fitting rooms.

Ong’s wow factor comes into play in the ballroom, where six 9-foot Christmas trees sparkle with lights and glitter, echoing the “Ice Fantasy” theme. Each is devoted to a snow creature – with the exception of two peacock trees. The ballroom is also the venue for performances by Bay Area choral and orchestral groups.

This is the eighth year Leslie Howard of Atherton has been chairwoman of the Ballroom Committee. In addition to overseeing the staging of merchandise, she decorates the trees.

“It takes me about a day to trim one and a half trees, but that’s after everything is unpacked,” she said.

Howard organizes the ornaments by size, putting the biggest ones on first – that is, after she chooses the tree topper. Then she tucks the smaller ornaments inside.

Hers is one of the 18 committees assembled by Ong, who has pretty much lived and breathed “Holiday Traditions” for two years. Prior to becoming chairwoman, she served on the Floral Design Committee.

“I was looking for floral classes when I discovered Filoli,” said Ong, who became hooked by Filoli itself and its many educational offerings.

To purchase “Holiday Traditions” tickets, call 364-8300, ext. 508, or visit filoli.org. Buffet lunches and evening bistro dining are available at select times during the week by advance reservation. In addition to the opening-night party, there are two children’s luncheon parties. Ticket prices vary according to event.

Easy holiday decorating tips

Filoli merchandise buyer Linda Fujimoto of Palo Alto shares ideas on how to make it feel like Christmas at home. She co-owned, with her twin Mary Schwarz, Twin Concepts, a popular Menlo Park boutique, for 14 years.

• Fill three to five glass jars with Christmas candy and place them in the kitchen – a tasty nod to the season.

• Arrange fresh greens in big pots around the house.

• Place collections of different-size candles to add a warm and festive touch.

• Make a statement by placing 10-12 battery-operated (or real) candles on a tray.

• Create your own snow globes by placing a miniature scene inside a big glass jar.

• Fill decorative glass containers with old-fashioned round glass ornaments.

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