Los Altos Library Reading Buddies

Posted on January 31, 2017 by  
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Carter’s preferred snack is freeze-dried liver, “Clifford the Big Red Dog” is his favorite book and eating is featured prominently on his list of daily activities. Torrey likes bananas, “Henry and Mudge” stories and dressing up. Desi’s jam is bacon, “Madeline Finn and the Library Dog” and napping in the sunshine.

As profiled on their respective promotional bookmarks, each four-legged Reading Buddies participant boasts a distinct personality. But it’s the canines’ ability to listen without interrupting that consistently attracts the program’s two-legged participants – struggling readers who gain confidence by reading aloud to therapy animals. Saturday marked the post-holiday return of the free monthly drop-in sessions at the Los Altos main library.

“It is a wonderful program because all the volunteers, they bring their dogs,” said Jean Nei, acting children’s library supervisor at the main branch. “The children, especially the young readers, love to come to the library to read to the dogs.”

Here’s how it works: Children are paired with a volunteer and read aloud to that volunteer’s trained therapy pet. No one corrects pronunciation or becomes impatient awaiting the completion of a sentence. Some pets even cock their heads as if following the storyline.

The program is a popular Los Altos Library offering, drawing approximately 10-15 readers each month, Nei said. Some of the young participants don’t own pets, and the opportunity to read to a friendly furry ear is a novelty.

Certified Animal Behaviorist Julie Bond co-founded Reading Buddies in 2009 with Patty Guthrie, past vice president of Furry Friends Pet Assisted Therapy Services. The San Jose-based organization dispatches volunteers and their pets to libraries, retirement homes and hospitals, as well as to high school and college campuses during exam times.

Furry Friends pays monthly visits to more than 60 facilities throughout Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, including Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, The Forum Senior Living Retirement Home and De Anza College. While dogs and cats are the most common therapy animals, rabbits, guinea pigs, miniature horses and even llamas have put in appearances as well. All human and animal volunteers are evaluated and trained.

Three of Bond’s own dogs – all collies – have participated in Reading Buddies; Desi, a 6-year-old male Rough Collie, is her latest program companion. His claim to fame is actually his roommate Ozzie, a direct descendant of Lassie from the classic television series, according to his bookmark.

The effects of Reading Buddies’ low-stress environment are evident during follow-up sessions and through reports from students’ schools, Bond said. “This increases their fluency, and it increases their confidence,” she said. “It helps them speak up in class.”

Volunteer Reading Buddies publicist Maddie Elkin, 14, learned about the program a few years ago when she assisted with ushering participants from the library lobby to their assigned dog or cat within the Orchard Room. Afterward, she listened as the children read.

Reading Buddies meets 2:30 p.m. the fourth Saturday of each month at the Los Altos main library, 13 S. San Antonio Road. For more information, visit furryfriends.org

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Water District Keeps Reduction Target

Posted on January 28, 2017 by  
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The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors voted Jan. 24 to continue its call for water-use reductions of 20 percent compared with 2013 water-consumption levels.

In 2016, Santa Clara County used 28 percent less water than in 2013. While statewide and local conditions have improved significantly, the board members emphasized that dry conditions could return, and the community’s water savings achievements should be continued.

At its Tuesday meeting, after the Town Crier’s press deadline, board members planned to issue a new resolution for a continued limit on watering ornamental landscapes to no more than three days per week. Officials said the district would drop its prior call for retail water agencies, local municipalities and Santa Clara County to implement mandatory measures, as needed, to achieve the 20 percent water-use reduction target.

The water district does not have the authority to enforce mandatory water-use restrictions on the customers of each local water provider. Since 2014, the board’s resolutions have instead requested that water providers implement their own mandatory water restrictions to reach the target. By dropping the “mandatory” language now, board members expect that local water providers will not use drought surcharges or penalties to motivate customers to meet the 20 percent goal.

Certain activities that waste potable water are permanently prohibited by the State Water Resources Control Board, including hosing off sidewalks, driveways and other hardscapes; washing automobiles with hoses not equipped with a shut-off nozzle; using nonrecirculated water in a fountain or other decorative water feature; watering lawns in a manner that causes runoff or within 48 hours after measurable precipitation; and irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians.

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A Townhouse In The Crossings

Posted on January 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Sold Properties · Tagged:

140 Alley Way, Mountain View, CA 94040
3 Bed / 2.5 Baths / Home: 1,424 sqft / Lot Size: 1,512 sqft +/-
Townhouse – Leased

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California Indian Feast Exhibition

Posted on January 11, 2017 by  
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Acorn Mush Basket“Seaweed, Salmon and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast,” a statewide traveling exhibition from the Grace Hudson Museum and Exhibit Envoy, is scheduled to open Saturday and run through April 16 at the Los Altos History Museum, 51 S. San Antonio Road.

The exhibition will feature historical and contemporary photographs, artifacts, food specimens, memoirs and recipes. Based on a compendium of Native American cuisine by Margaret Dubin and Sara-Larus Tolley, the display showcases foods important in the lives of Native Californians.

Sherrie Smith-Ferri, director of the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah, curated the exhibition in consultation with her aunt, Kathleen Rose Smith, a California Indian artist and a member of the Coast Miwok and Dry Creek Pomo tribes.

Smith-Ferri noted how much fun it was to put the exhibition together. “It brought back lots of good memories of getting together with the family to spend time at the coast harvesting abalone, mussels and seaweed, or going to pick berries,” she said. “And of course, it brings back recollections of some great meals eaten together.”

The exhibition contains harvesting instructions and recipes for foods such as huckleberry bread, pine nut soup, rose hip syrup and roasted barnacles. Related programs for children are scheduled 10 a.m. to noon Saturday (“Animals and Fish as Food”) and Feb. 11 (“Native Plants as Food”).

Museum hours are noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is free. For more information visit: losaltoshistory.org

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Outpost Of A Legendary Family

Posted on January 8, 2017 by  
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101 Main St Los AltosOne could be forgiven for thinking the Sassoon Building at 101 Main St. got its name because it is seemingly always occupied by salons – and now Brownhome Designs.

But the ranch-style office building can lay claim to a far more auspicious history than one named after shampoo entrepreneur Vidal Sassoon. It was built by Edward Sassoon, who took out a full-page advertisement when he opened the doors in 1954. Los Altos’ new office building was the latest node in a three-continent family empire that began in 19th-century Baghdad and spanned from London to Shanghai.

Sassoon came to San Francisco Nov. 15, 1932, on the SS President Hoover. The 36-year-old immigrant was accompanied by his wife, Flora, and three children: Meyer, Celia (“Sally”) and Janet.

In some ways, it was a typical migration story: Sassoon listed his profession as “fruit merchant” and found opportunity south of San Francisco in the famed “Valley of Heart’s Delight.”

In other ways, the Sassoons were racing against time. They were a Jewish family in Indonesia and part of Surabaya’s tiny Jewish community. The Japanese empire was expanding at the time of their exodus – their armies had just occupied Manchuria – and the Sassoons must have been nervous about the future. A decade later, Japanese troops entered Indonesia.

The Sassoons were also not a typical Jewish Californian family. Edward was born in Calcutta, India. His great-grandfather was born in what is now Iraq and treasurer to the pasha of Baghdad before decamping to Bombay.

The Sassoon family quickly became fabulously wealthy by triangulating among British bankers and Asian merchants (Vidal Sassoon, raised in a London tenement, is of no relation). They were philanthropists and builders. The Sassoon Docks host Mumbai’s raucous fish market. The Sassoon House in Shanghai, now the Peace Hotel, is an art deco masterpiece on the Bund.

Compared to such monuments, Los Altos’ one-story Sassoon Building may not seem like much. By the time it was built, national independence movements in India, Indonesia and China had pushed multinational families like the Sassoons out of their family homes. Even before the war began, the Sassoons may have seen where it was headed. In 1940, Edward filed a petition for naturalization for his family.

While the Sassoons lived in the West Portal neighborhood in San Francisco, Edward’s fruit business kept him in the orchards of the South Bay. Before it was discontinued in 1962, the Vasona Branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad transported apricots and other fruits to the busy San Francisco piers. An office on Main Street helped Edward keep tabs on the annual crop back in the day when the city was full of orchards and not multi-million-dollar homes.

Edward Sassoon passed away in 1969. His wife, Flora, lived until 2003, succumbing to an illness at the age of 101. The Sassoon children were raised in San Francisco. Janet, the youngest, became a prima ballerina for the San Francisco Ballet and a world-renowned ballet teacher. Judging by the naturalization paperwork, Janet has her father’s high cheekbones.

“I’m from a different part of the world, and as a ballerina I looked different from everyone,” she said in a 2014 interview. “As I grew older, I realized that was to my great advantage.”

The one-story Sassoon Building may not be the most remarkable-looking building in downtown Los Altos, but it reminds passersby that a global story stretching from the Ottoman Empire to the docks of Shanghai is stitched together on Main Street.

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Coming This Spring – North Los Altos

Posted on January 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Sold Properties · Tagged:

north-los-altos

Property in north Los Altos
3 Beds / 2.5 Baths / Home: 1,568 / Lot: 1,162 sqft +/-
Townhouse
Representing: Seller
Contact us for more info

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Local Rotarians Bring Aid To Haiti

Posted on January 3, 2017 by  
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Los Altos RotariansAfter the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, most of the local infrastructure was destroyed, leaving the capital city Port-au-Prince and surrounding communities in rubble and more than 150,000 dead. Humanitarian volunteers poured in with aid, including two Rotary Club of Los Altos members, Allan Varni and Bud Oliver.

Varni and Oliver’s goal was to form connections with local Rotarians and nongovernmental organizations to raise funds to rebuild a school that had been completely destroyed. The quake hit in the late afternoon, so the school’s students were not in class.

The school originally was built under the auspices of a Haitian grassroots organization, Society of Providence United for Economic Development (SOPUDEP), founded to provide education for children and adults, support children’s and women’s rights and create economic opportunities for the community.

Many American high schools sent volunteer students during winter and spring breaks to help rebuild the school, including Los Altos High School, led by teacher Seth Donnelly. International architects designed the new school to withstand earthquakes.

Varni and Oliver represented the Los Altos Rotary Endowment Fund’s World Community Service Fund, which provided building materials, desks, books, school supplies and software, along with e-readers from a local partner, the Los Altos-based Books for Haiti. Google Inc., Apple Inc. and other companies matched contributions and donated supplies.

With help from many sources, the SOPUDEP School is now up and running, filled with hundreds of students who look forward to a better future.  Varni described the Haitians as being in “good spirits,” with a strong commitment to continue the work of rebuilding.

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Local Muralist Tells A Story

Posted on January 1, 2017 by  
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Morgan Bricca

Earlier this year, new color bloomed on two Los Altos campuses – public art projects commissioned by school communities to mark ends and new beginnings.

At Covington School, the graduating class sponsored a mural celebrating reading and the California landscape. At Egan Junior High, the PTA launched a mural to honor Principal Brenda Dyckman’s 23 years of service. Both murals stem from Los Altos resident Morgan Bricca, who has left her mark on schools, civic buildings, shops and local homes around the region. Through her business “Murals by Morgan,” she has created hundreds of site-specific works of art.

Bricca’s son, an Egan student, had already introduced her to the student culture at the junior high. In meeting with Dyckman, she built a growing sense of the “schoolwide reason to have fun,” ranging from dances to dunk tanks and pancake breakfasts.

Bricca set out to create a mural for students that also resonated with the “grownups” calling the shots. She shared five widely different designs with Dyckman, expecting that a Viking ship on a lake might win out. But the principal chose the wildest – a bright splash of color that Dyckman told Bricca “reflected the explosion of emotion in the early teen years.”
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