Wed10222014

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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The most precious gifts can't be wrapped: Haugh About That?

The energy level over the Christmas season escalated to such a frenetic pitch in the Madden family home that neighbors wondered whether my mom had laced our oatmeal with something. Surveying the laundry list of toys my 10-year-old heart desired, intense hyperactivity overtook my normal calm as I waited for the big day, not knowing that one gift would arrive early and change my life forever.

Dec. 1, 1962, I went to sleep a happy, well-adjusted fourth-grader. I had friends. I blended well with the other green-and-blue-plaid clones at St. Charles Catholic Grammar School. I was my own heroine in a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and life was good. But an evil witch decided to sprinkle nerd dust over my blond head and I woke to find my status as socially acceptable wickedly transformed into that of a leper. Apparently, freckles, ponytails and pink-diamond-encrusted, winged-tipped glasses had become uncool overnight.

Bullying has been around since the beginning of time. Stronger students feeling the need to illustrate their alpha behavior carefully handpick their pack and collectively gather to attack the weak. During the 1960s, this type of aggression was looked upon as a rite of passage and something kids just had to endure, thus giving true meaning to survival of the fittest.

Seeking ways to hide from the jeers, teasing and physical trauma, I discovered that the best way to make it through the day was to become invisible. Performing the art of duck and cover, I’d conceal my body under my desk in hopes of staying in at recess. Dawdling at the end of the day, I made sure that I was the last excused. And hiding in bushes became my new safe haven as thoughts of running away overtook my imagination – the place where fantasy once flourished.

One day, after peeking around the corner to make sure the coast was clear, I ventured onto the playground. From out of nowhere, a tall, lanky girl ran toward me. Certain that she was about to pour more acid over the newly ripped-apart sores of the day, I ran.

“Jackie, wait,” she cried.

Quickly catching up, I slowed down and closed my eyes, prepared to take another verbal beating. Grabbing my hands, she placed herself in front and in a breathy tone asked, “Would you like to come over to my house today and play?”

Frozen in my tracks, Nan Coughlan’s brown, doe eyes melted the ice sculpture that had become my current home, and loneliness magically dissipated from the lining of my wounded soul. Astonished, I instantly understood that her kindness took great courage. By allowing me into her inner circle and befriending me, she had opened herself up to be the next target for criticism and ridicule.

I’ve often thought of that day and the impact her simple gesture made on the rest of my life. Nan’s kindness brought back lost hope and a feeling of belonging. It also taught me to stand tall and never allow myself to be victimized again.

While I’d like to say that I continued her legacy of compassion, I know, more often than not, that I’ve come up painfully short. The self-imposed ego has a way of blinding you to your surroundings, but it’s time for a change.

The holidays can be joyous, but they can also cause heartache. Not everyone is fortunate to have all they need. Perhaps there’s someone who could use a new friend, and all I’d have to do is open my eyes and reach for their hands. Maybe by simply being aware, I, too, could make a difference in someone’s life.

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