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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 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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