Sat10252014

News

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

A flyer is being distributed across Los Altos that looks like it is from the Los Altos Town Crier but was neither created nor distributed by the community’s weekly newspaper. The flyer, pictured at right, is being distributed by workers from Pyrami...

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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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Worried about watering? Consider conservation during drought


Julie Orr/Special to the Town Crier
A homeowner transformed this former pool into a native garden paradise with a boulder water feature.

Given the lack of rainfall, Gov. Jerry Brown recently declared a drought state of emergency, asking residents to conserve water in any way possible. One of the easiest ways to protect the precious water supply we have in reserve is to use less in our landscapes.

When clients ask me to help them become more water-wise, we review two main things: reducing irrigation by using drought-tolerant plants to create beautiful landscapes, and reusing water creatively in the home and the garden.

If a homeowner has a lawn that is too big, underused or in poor condition, an easy fix is a lawn reduction or complete removal. Replacing a lawn with either site-appropriate plants like California natives or Mediterranean plants – or a combination – not only looks great, but is also more interesting than a boring monoculture of lawn.

Where lawns are necessary because they are used as play surfaces for children, consider low-water native sod blends that, once established, could survive drought conditions.

As an incentive, some water districts offer rebates of up to $1,000 for residential lawn removal. For more information on the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency’s Lawn Be Gone program, visit bawsca.org/water-conservation/residential-water-conservation-programs/lawn-be-gone.

Another great way to conserve water is to reuse it by installing a greywater system. Greywater is water that is used once in the home and then a second time in the landscape. These systems are often connected to a washing machine (for simple systems) or shower, bathtub or faucet (larger systems).

Greywater is preferable to rainwater harvesting for garden irrigation simply because it is a year-round water source that doesn’t require large storage capacity.

For clients with higher budgets, a closed-loop system is a great choice. Rainwater is used to supply water to the home’s toilet, laundry and showers in conjunction with greywater, which sends that same water (not toilet water – that’s considered blackwater) back into the garden. Therefore, the municipal water gets used as a backup source only.

Greywater is best for irrigating trees (including fruit), shrubs and perennials. Because greywater tends to run alkaline, it is perfectly suited to neutral soils or alkaline plants such as natives. I don’t recommend it for any root crop vegetables (like carrots, whose roots have direct contact with soil) due to the slight chance of human contaminants getting onto your edibles.

After you install a greywater system, you’ll need to use greywater-safe household products like salt-free detergents and bathing products. Also, local code requires that your irrigation be on a drip line buried 2 inches deep by either soil or mulch to avoid airborne pathogens.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a greywater lecture hosted by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. John Russell from WaterSprout stated: “A family of four can save about 38,000 gallons of water per year with a greywater system, and I’ve never been turned down when requesting a permit from the city.”

WaterSprout promotes five greywater systems from the simple to the complex. Pricing varies because each project comes with its own unique site requirements and challenges, but there are solutions for every budget. For a wealth of information including diagrams, visit Russell’s website at watersprout.org.

If you are concerned about saving water, have a conversation with a professional landscape designer who has experience in sustainable solutions and water-wise designs. Landscape designers often have the resources and knowledge to help you build the right team for your project.

Julie Orr is a landscape designer and member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. For more information, call 468-8020 or visit julieorrdesign.com.

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