Archive of Linda Hubbard Gulker

Linda Hubbard Gulker first moved to Menlo Park a really long time ago (long enough that she started kindergarten at Hillview School and graduated there from 8th grade in the days it was a K-8). Following her four years at Menlo-Atherton High School, she went “SoCal” to attend UCLA and stayed too long in the Southland. She moved back to Menlo Park 20 years ago to find some things had changed – and some things remained the same. When she’s not blogging or taking snapshots for InMenlo, she’s jogging the Dish or other nearby hills.

has written 3632 article(s) for InMenlo.


CEO Mac Harman of Balsam Brands who are the  world leader in artifical Christmas trees. Photographed by Scott R. Kline for Inenlo at Woodlands School in Portola Valley, CA on September 29, 2017.

We met Mac Harman, founder and owner of Balsam Brands, at Woodland School in Ladera where he is on the Board of Trustees. Sprinkled around the private preschool through 8th grade campus were signs about creating a joyful world. “That happens to be one of our company’s values — spreading joy,” he said with a smile.

Mac grew up outside of Cleveland where his family owned a business and now lives in unincorporated Menlo Park. “Balsam isn’t a family business,” he explained, “but we’re different from a lot of Silicon Valley companies in that we sell a physical product. And to our team members, we are family.”

While Balsam Brands may be new to you, their flagship brand may not be. Balsam Hill™ is the world’s leading retailer of artificial Christmas trees.

Its development came, in part, from Mac and his wife’s experience when they first moved to the Peninsula. “We were both working long hours and never got around to putting up a Christmas tree. Part of the reason was that we had a small apartment and not a lot of space to put up a tree.

“Somewhere along the way, I found out that 80% of people choose an artificial tree to put up for Christmas. This seemed such an unbelievable statistic, particularly when many artificial trees were just shredded paper on a stick.”

When Mac came across technology to make realistic trees, he leapt at the opportunity. “I didn’t invent the technology,” he underscored. “It was there, but no one was using it.”

He first sold trees at a pop-up store at the Stanford Shopping Center. “People would come up to it and touch it and say, ‘I’ve never seen live trees sold in stores.’ That was the start of our Balsam Hill brand.”

Today Balsam Hill is a direct-to-consumer business with sales over the Internet or through a catalog. But Mac endeavors to keep his staff connected to consumers.

“Our offices are on the second floor above retail space in Redwood City,” he said. “When a member of our team goes out to buy coffee, I want them to remember that experience — if it was positive — and think how they can transfer it to one of our customers. Plus, I believe it’s great to be able to easily step outside and clear the mind!”

Photo by Scott R. Kline (c)2017

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Next house concert at Dala’s Nest features Wendy Waller on Oct. 21

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Willows neighborhood resident Aimée Campbell is a self-described “lifelong lover of live music.”  Since 2014 she’s hosted house concerts at her venue called Dala’s Nest, featuring local artists playing a variety of musical genres. “Events at Dala’s Nest bring diverse music to the community at no cost to the artists,” she said. This Saturday, Oct. […]

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Menlo Park Fire Department’s Night of Lights returns after a 16 year absence

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A fire fighting demonstration held at night returns for the first time in 16 years on Friday, October 27, to cap off the Menlo Park Fire Protection District’s 100-year anniversary. The event will take place at the District headquarters, 300 Middlefield Road, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. There will be rope rappelling, a movie with a […]

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Supplies are plentiful – what’s needed now are drivers to get them to the North Bay for fire victims

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Editor’s note: Celeste reported around noon that she and her husband were on the way up to the North Bay with supplies. Please call Seaport Storage – (650) 249-4843 – to see if drivers are still needed. Celeste emailed that they are not currently collecting more donations. Menlo Park resident Celeste Wiberg was one of the […]

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Spotted: Swim/water polo teammates from M-A circa ’67

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The Menlo-Atherton High School class of 1967 is holding its 50th reunion this weekend. Four who swam and played water polo together gathered for a pre-reunion lunch in downtown Menlo today: left to right: Jeff Lapiere, Frank Aronoff, Tod Spieker and Rob Jensen. They’re most famous teammate (Lindsay Buckingham) is MIA . Photo by Dennis Nugent […]

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Horses to ride, reptiles to pet, slides to skitter down – all part of this year’s Webb Ranch Pumpkin Patch

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Accompanied by our three reviewers — two 9-year-old girls and a 6-year-boy — we headed out to Webb Ranch to check out this year’s pumpkin patch. Two of the three have been visiting the annual Halloween attraction for their entire lives. Was it only a year or so ago that James didn’t want any part […]

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Where to donate – and what’s needed – for victims of North Bay fires

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Seaport Storage, just off of Woodside Road and Highway 101, has arranged to deliver needed items for fire victims to its facility in the North Bay. A complete list is below. Justin Wethington, manager of Seaport Storage, is in direct communication and cooperation with the shelters in the wine country. The list was sent to […]

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M-A cancels all outdoor athletic events including Friday’s football game

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InMenlo received this email from M-A co-athletic director Steven Kryger: “Our district, school, and athletic administrators have been monitoring the communications from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District the past few days in response to the local air quality being effected by the wildfires in the North Bay. “In the best interest of the […]

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Moni Santini-Kelly teaches circus arts in Menlo Park

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At some point doesn’t every child fantasize about running away and joining the circus? In Menlo Park, they don’t have to run far thanks to circus arts classes taught by Moni Santini-Kelly (pictured top) at the Arrillaga Family Gymnasium covering such disciplines as aerial silks, rope trapeze and partner acrobatics. There is some irony in […]

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Hillview Middle School teacher Richard Vaughn takes the stage in “Annie”

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Occasionally someone we interview has roots that are deeply local. Such was the case when we stopped by Hillview Middle School to interview music teacher Richard Vaughn. We’d learned that he was going to be in the cast of Annie, the next production of the Woodside Community Theater. That was reason enough to catch up […]

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Pumpkins and the preschool set take center stage at St. Raymond Pumpkin Festival

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InMenlo contributing photographer Robb Most stopped by the St. Raymond Pumpkin Festival over the weekend where activities included pony rides, bungee trampoline, bounce houses, games,  and face painting. Adults enjoyed the beer garden and live music. But looking at Robb’s resulting photos, one thing stood out: the delight of preschoolers as they went about selecting just […]

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