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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The new year brings another change: A Piece of My Mind

Its new owners plan to tear down the house across the street and build a new two-story house with a basement in its place. It is a perfectly good house, a 1950s three-bedroom, two-bath ranch style with the kitchen in front and the patio in back nestled in a deep backyard filled with fruit trees. These are only the third owners.

The first owners were airline pilots. During World War II, she ferried warplanes across the country and he flew B-29s over Japan. Then he piloted 707s for Pan Am. The house, part of the new San Antonio development, was built after the war.

At some point in the late ’50s, the original owners built a two-story addition behind the garage, which included a bathroom, family room and fireplace downstairs, and a playroom and additional bedroom upstairs to accommodate their growing family. The owners did much of the work themselves – the staircase was narrow and lacked a banister. It would never pass code today.

The children grew up and moved away, and the wife became the dowager overseer of the street. From her strategically placed kitchen window, she could see anyone arriving or leaving up or down the street or coming around the corner. She made no secret of her vigilance. Once, when I was a teenager and my parents were planning to go out of town, our neighbor came over to ask my mother, “If I see a strange car parked overnight while you’re gone and Allyson is home, do you want me to tell you or not?”

The first owners aged and moved to be closer to one of their children. They left the house empty for more than 30 years. Proposition 13 kept their taxes minuscule, so it was cheap storage, and convenient to stay in when they visited friends on the Peninsula. One day the grown children returned, cleared out the house and sold it.

The second owners were a young family, also with children. They loved the vintage ranch style of the house, the avocado and terra-cotta wallpaper in the kitchen, the rice paper on the walls of the living room, even the bead curtain in the kitchen window. They put on a new roof and installed new windows. They built an elaborate playhouse in the backyard for their children and hosted a guacamole party for the neighborhood when the avocado tree was in fruit.

But the enthusiasm didn’t last. After only a couple of years, the wife found a vintage Craftsman fixer-upper in north Los Altos that was even more of a challenge. The house across the street went up for sale again. It sold to another young couple with children at roughly 1,000 times its original cost.

It was the deep backyard that had captivated the new owners. They came over to show us their plans for a new house on the lot.

“We’ll have the family room and kitchen at the back overlooking the new swimming pool. The kids will play in the back – they won’t bother you. In front there will be just a home office and bedrooms. We want to use as much of the backyard as we can. We’ll plant trees in the front so that the house won’t look so big.”

The change makes me sad: sad to see the old house go; sad that the new family plans to be invisible in their backyard behind their two-stories-plus-basement; sad that there will be no eagle eye on the street, unless it’s mine.

My kitchen does face the corner.

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