Carol Cormaci
Piece of Mind: Columns from the editor of La Cañada Valley Sun

Piece of Mind: Customers help rewrite video store's ending

Here's some great news for supporters of Hamlet Shahbazian, the beleaguered operator of La Cañada Video: He will be allowed to remain in place through October, after all. It seems his landlord, who had affixed a 30-day eviction notice to the store's front door in early August, has changed his...

Piece of Mind: Video store's sad ending is full of twists

Piece of Mind: Video store's sad ending is full of twists

The soft-spoken man behind the counter at La Cañada Video seems only slightly aware of the public outcry that is taking place on his behalf. Hamlet Shahbazian offers a modest smile when he's told that it's obvious from comments posted online this week that he is very much appreciated by all...

Piece of Mind: LCF holds a special-effects place in his heart

Piece of Mind: LCF holds a special-effects place in his heart

Flipping through vintage Valley Suns in late July to assemble items for the August “10-20-30” history articles, my eyes fell on a story published Aug. 20, 1964 that featured a local 17-year-old filmmaker who had directed and produced four 10- to 12-minute movies that summer.

Piece of Mind: Catching up with the revolution

Ah, City Hall is at last poised to tiptoe into the 21st century, communications-wise, as the City Council adopted this week a social-media...

Piece of Mind: Educational foundations provide valuable service

Education inequality — such as undeniably exists between schools in affluent communities and those in poor areas — is of concern to anyone who has compassion for others and who understands the value of good schooling to the future of our civilization. If all children, from the most...

Piece of Mind: Farmhouse may not be long for this world

Piece of Mind: Farmhouse may not be long for this world

For more than a century the modest white farmhouse has stood on the northeast corner where the equally narrow but well-traveled Craig and Commonwealth avenues meet. It has withstood the occasional battering of the elements and all the major earthquakes that have struck the region since its...

Piece of Mind: Mountain living was in the school's nature

A half century ago, when the Angeles National Forest still seemed relatively undisturbed and somewhat quaint to the towns folk below, a ceremony attended by 135 people was held to dedicate the new buildings comprising Chilao Mountain School.

Piece of Mind: A short-lived homecoming

Since escaping the allergy vortex of Louisville, Ky., last week and returning to the Southland, our daughter’s health has...

Piece of Mind: A happy ending to the polar vortex

We’ve never met our 3-year-old granddog, Ava, but Gil and I will be face-to-face with her when she arrives in La Cañada on Saturday, no doubt weary from her exhausting duty as co-pilot on a 2,100-mile road trip that’s bringing our daughter Kae home from Louisville.

Piece of Mind: Letters from some read-in fans

A large envelope addressed to me in cursive handwriting was delivered to our home mailbox last week. A quick glance at the return address suggested I was in for a special treat. La Cañada Elementary School teacher Sue Fuelling had earlier alerted me via email that she hoped to soon send...

Piece of Mind: There is another development in the news

While hundreds of people packed into an auditorium at Crescenta Valley High School Tuesday night to learn about the proposed territory transfer of the “Sagebrush” area out of Glendale Unified and into La Cañada Unified, a much smaller but equally electrifying gathering was...

Piece of Mind: A winning week in La Cañada

Some well-deserved rejoicing is going on in town this week among supporters of our outstanding public school system, who put together a successful campaign to pass...

Piece of Mind: The Sun shined on an Olympian in the making

Piece of Mind: The Sun shined on an Olympian in the making

What fun it was for all of us last week to cheer on our own Olympian, luger Kate Hansen. Viewing parties were held at Los Gringos Locos, with Kate’s...

Piece of Mind: Small investments with big dividends

So I see from the story filed this week by contributing writer Sara Cardine that supporters of La Cañada’s highly performing public school system are showing...

Piece of Mind: Civic involvement is best tempered by the facts

The old oaks that arch so gracefully over Commonwealth Avenue north of the boulevard still appear to be thriving, despite the protests of those who were opposed to the installation of sewers in Sewer Assessment District 2 (the neighborhood my husband and I call home) in about 2002. One of their...

Piece of Mind: And now back to where we left off

So, the last time we met in this corner we were reviewing all the La Cañada Unified school chatter that was mounting in the early fall, including the then-upcoming...

Piece of Mind: Lately, it's all about our schools

A casual observer of La Cañada affairs taking a glance at the Valley Sun might wonder what it is about our public school system that draws so much community interest. Indeed, a host of stories in recent weeks has centered on our lauded school district.

Piece of Mind: A fruitless search for children at play

I decide on the spur of the moment to go on a kid hunt. The weather is warm, but not quite its usual hot August self. It feels like it's in the low 80s as I stand in our driveway experiencing a tiny gust of wind, a preview of the afternoon breezes that are guaranteed to sweep through in a couple...

Piece of Mind: Is silence after high court's ruling a sign of evolving times?

Every so often we publish news stories or op-ed pieces that give us reason — based on previous experiences — to expect to receive letters to the editor the following week. When we don't hear a word after running something potentially controversial, it catches me by surprise.

Piece of Mind: Council dodges politics of plastic bags

Piece of Mind: Council dodges politics of plastic bags

It had been some time since we'd visited the Target store near Vroman's in Pasadena, so after a casual dinner the other night here at Magpie's, my husband and I ventured across the Arroyo in hunt of some bargains. Some might not call that a date night, but coming home carrying treasures like my...

Piece of Mind: The cost of being a La Cañadan

Last Friday we posted on the Valley Sun website a little gift we picked up from our mothership, the Los Angeles Times. It was an item about actor Vince Vaughn having...

Piece of Mind: Does our reserve speak volumes?

Whether we're moving from the grocery store to the dry cleaners, or walking our dogs, or taking turns at the gas pumps, the demeanor of La Cañadans going about routine chores this week mirrors that of students on the high school campus: We are subdued. We speak in voices far softer than...

Piece of Mind: Burglars have been running afoul this month

A word to our wise La Cañada Flintridge citizens: Keep your doors and windows locked, your eyes open and your valuables well hidden. Burglars are invading our turf, and they've been particularly active this month.

Piece of Mind: The General Plan is waiting in the wings

Now that we can all stop complaining about the freezing temperatures of the past several days and move on to whining about how unseasonably warm it is (thank you, global warming, for giving us all something to talk about on a regular basis), let’s address other local happenings.

Piece of Mind: Romance blossoms with the Rose float

Stepping around the pots of glue and buckets of flowers, admiring the handiwork of volunteers stationed on scaffolds, one might not guess that this utilitarian float-decorating site that lies directly beneath a 210 Freeway overpass is also a hotbed for romantic encounters.

Piece of Mind: Historical happenings and a lost Pomeranian

No gavel was passed, no budget approved, but there was one order of business Tuesday night when the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce held its 100th annual meeting, the election of its 2013 board of directors. Wes Seastrom, who has led the organization through its centennial year,...

Piece of Mind: Thanks to Frank's for giving us dinner

Standing at the cash register at Frank’s Famous near Montrose on Wednesday, Roger Frey can’t focus on ringing up my sale. It’s not just because I keep peppering him with questions. It turns out he spent the wee hours of the morning roasting and carving a whole slew of turkeys,...

Piece of Mind: Assembling a multi- piece gift puzzle

As surely as the East Coast braced last weekend for the onslaught of the hurricane with the once innocuous-sounding name of Sandy, registered voters across the nation know they can expect to be assaulted this weekend by last-minute political wrangling. No one is likely to die as a result of the pre-...

Piece of Mind: Vanishing signs of the times

Every so often it occurs to me that I'd like to reinvent myself. Yet again. And maybe I've hit upon a real money-making idea this time: manufacturing political yard signs. Think about it, because maybe you'd like to join me in this venture. At the rate they are stolen or destroyed, we could split...

Piece of Mind: Warming to the idea of self-driving cars

Have you seen the flurry of news reports about our governor signing into law Tuesday a bill that will allow testing of autonomous cars? The control freak in me, the one who also happens to love to be behind the wheel of a car, finds it slightly disturbing that we’re moving into an age when our...

Piece of Mind: Get your place in The Sun

With the summer behind us, school, civic and social events around town are beginning to crowd the calendars of La Cañadans of all ages and descriptions. Our PTA leaders and their committee chairs are busy planning fundraising events, as are many other local clubs and nonprofit organizations.

Piece of Mind: The help of a Friendly Visitor

Seemingly with each passing day there are more creases around my eyes and, well, elsewhere on my once smooth skin. As though the mirror doesn't do enough to put the lie to my preferred state of denial, there are the unintentional (I think) zingers that fly through the air — like the one I...

Piece of Mind: A search for more color passes only the smell test

Several hours ago, having fallen under the spell of a magazine spread that seduced me into believing I could renew my bathroom just by picking up a paintbrush, I broached the subject with the family accountant. Could we find the price of a gallon of paint in our open-to-buy column on the budget...

Piece of Mind: Coyote sightings and Twitter critter tips

My sharp-eyed husband has noticed the same young adult coyote traveling on our street at about 7 a.m. and again during the dinner hour at least several days a week this summer. Our guess is that he's literally doing circles on his search for food, as he's always moving in an easterly direction...

Piece of Mind: Remembering Prince Philip's visit to La Cañada

Sometime between last week's musings about bears freely roaming our neighborhoods and Sunday's closing ceremony of the London Summer Olympics, I came across a nearly 30-year-old account of a visit to La Cañada by a member of the British royal family who was here to talk about wildlife...

Piece of Mind: Digging for the bear explanation

Sometime Wednesday morning, while flipping between a TV news interview with tearful Olympic athlete Lolo Jones (her feelings hurt by a New York Times piece critical of her track performances in recent days) and an update on the series of earthquakes that began the night before, I landed on a channel...

Piece of Mind: Magical thinking doesn't drown the freeway noise

A friend who owns a beach-town condo built all too near the Interstate 5 tells me she deals with the traffic din by pretending it's the sound of ocean waves crashing on rocks.

Piece of Mind: Seeking closure from a revolving door

There were signs a couple of months ago that we were about to lose some next-door neighbors. The first omen was the mid-week sighting of a few racks of clothing set up in the driveway and a handful of women who appeared to be shopping with enthusiasm, chatting and bobbing their heads as they sized...

Piece of Mind: A mind and a mouse need freedom to roam

The subject line of an email I received at the office Monday gave me pause: “Now that we're in the middle of summer…”

Piece of Mind: The sun hasn't set on wristwatches

Sometime in the past decade, our daughter pointed out that cellphones are so good at keeping us plugged into everything imaginable, including the time of day, that wristwatches were nothing more than antiquated accessories. She stopped wearing hers and I, like the ewe that I can be, followed along.

Piece of Mind: Even niceness is on these kids' resumes

Seated in a center-aisle pew at St. Bede on Tuesday night, attending the interfaith high school baccalaureate service at the invitation of its organizers, I'm struck by how tender-hearted while, at the same time, forthcoming the youthful participants seem to be.

Piece of Mind: Let's make some shade at 'the hot park'

From the youngest tots to the most senior of our citizens, the community again came together for the Memorial Weekend Fiesta Days. There were, after all, a host of activities to keep us engaged, largely courtesy of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce.

Reminded of an exceptional town

Thank you for the coverage of the 2012 Les Tupper Community Service Awards, and the background information on Les Tupper (“Les Tupper is a man worth remembering,” Carol Cormaci’s Piece of Mind column, May 17).

Piece of Mind: Les Tupper is a man worth remembering

A question popped up in the newsroom the other day: Who was Les Tupper and why is there a community service award named after him? It was well-timed question, since the annual Tupper Awards, as they've come to be known locally, were handed out Monday evening by the La Cañada Flintridge...

Piece of Mind: He takes the prize for hanging in at fundraiser

Sizing up the competition, it occurs to me that one possible way to increase my chances of taking home a prize is to buy more bingo cards.

Piece of Mind: An 8-by-10 photo would be perfect for your piano

A tossed-off comment from my mother several years ago, on the day my high school senior portrait was delivered to our home, still echoes when someone points a camera toward me.

Piece of Mind: The lessons taught by a disgraced teacher

As dismaying as it may seem to some, I've come to the conclusion that the reported $215,000 payout to La Cañada High School math teacher Gabrielle Leko was probably the wisest course our school district officials could have taken.

Piece of Mind: Why it's good to follow directions

For some years during the middle of the last century, there was a springtime tradition in La Cañada: Various denominations of local young Christians — those not sprawled out on the sand at Newport or Balboa, enjoying what was then commonly called “Easter vacation” —...

Piece of Mind: The city's rarest species is seen alive and shopping

We'd all been told it could happen, that members of the very rarest of species, pedestrianus lacanadanus, could make regular appearances on Foothill Boulevard. But I was chief among the doubters.

Piece of Mind: One Valley Sun edition shrinks, another grows

To provide readers with a heftier dose of La Cañada-specific news on Sundays — a transformation that will go live on April 1, no fooling — we've been doing some shape-shifting with the Thursday paper. If you're a regular reader, you've no doubt noticed that we've gone on a bit...

Piece of Mind: I haven't been absent, just quiet

It's been all too easy the past few weeks to stay mute in this corner. We've been tightening things up and moving a few things about on our pages, giving me the perfect excuse to give up the space to make room for more news and calendar items.

Piece of Mind: We're ready to stop feeling powerless

It was the squirrel that broke the restaurateur’s back.

Piece of Mind: It's moved and shaken La Cañada

If you live just west of the Alta Canyada area and are enjoying the benefits of owning property in La Cañada, you might want to tip your hat to the La Cañada Chamber of Commerce and Community Association, which in April of 1949 formed a Boundaries Committee.

Piece of mind: Thinking of home away from home

It’s been well-established here that our mid-century, faux Cape Cod home is in need of some updating. It would also benefit from more thorough cleanings than it gets when we finally turn our attention to that job each weekend. Happily, when just looking at it gets to be too discouraging, we...

Piece of Mind: Hard questions, disappointing answers

What reading material is on your bedside table this December week? I’d like to be able to recommend a recent release that came into my hands the other day, but it’s a real snooze.

Piece of Mind: Edison leaves lots to be desired

The feeling has returned to our cold-numbed fingers and our teeth have stopped chattering, but the outrage still lingers over Southern California Edison’s reaction to damage caused by the windstorm that pounded us on Nov. 30.

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