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NEIGHBORS / SHORT TAKES : Mortgage Burning : St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church's weekend cultural festival will be the last held with money owed on the building.


This weekend's Greek Festival at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Camarillo will be particularly meaningful for the parishioners. It will be the end, they hope, of the church's mortgage era.

As of Oct. 26 (St. Demetrios Day), they expect to take outright ownership of the 15-year-old church.

The festival, to be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, will once again feature traditional food, dance, music, imports and souvenirs. Nearly all of the food is made by church members.

"They've been baking since February," said Christo Pulos, the festival chairman. "We had about 20 ladies. Two or three men are usually around to haul the heavy stuff. . . . They're there because they are guaranteed samples." The church is at 400 Skyway Drive. Call 482-1273 for more information.

Greek Festival Fact: The sausage that the St. Demetrios chefs are using for a dish called loukaniko has been imported, all the way from that hotbed of Greco-American culture--Lynn, Mass.

Does "Mouse Chase" ring a bell? No? It's not the title of a "Tom and Jerry" episode. It's the name of the automated cat toy created by Thousand Oaks inventor Doren Berkovich.

The product consists of a string attached to an adjustable-speed, rotating pole that's connected to an 18-inch-high foundation. A tiny toy mouse, or some other "exciter," is attached to the string to entertain the cat.

Berkovich introduced "Mouse Chase" at an inventors' expo in Anaheim last August. Business since then, he said, has been slower than expected. "I didn't turn into any overnight success story, no multimillionaire," he said. "We're struggling along."

But increased sales might be on the horizon. Berkovich hopes to hear soon from QVC home shopping network folks about whether they will offer his product to viewers. He said they are now testing it. One concern they have, Berkovich said, is that at high speeds the toy mouse attachment posed a danger to innocent bystanders.

"It puts the mouse into orbit and they were concerned about it," he said. "They were concerned the mouse would run over and hit a little baby or something."

If you've driven past Albert's Vacuum and Sewing on Los Angeles Avenue in Simi Valley recently, you've probably noticed the words painted on the front window:


What's this about Vons? Owner Michael Grams is trying to make a point. He's still upset about a run-in his Toyota pickup had with a Vons shopping cart at the grocery store on Tapo Street in Simi Valley.

The incident occurred on a windy day in January. Grams' wife Diana was driving through the Vons parking lot when two carts apparently began moving toward her without human assistance. It seems a woman put another cart into a metal cart rack and, when she did, the two escapees fled out the back.

"She swerved and missed one of them," said Michael Grams of his wife's efforts, "but one hit her." Grams got two estimates for the damage, the lowest of which was $589.77. The Grams requested compensation from Vons, but Vons spokesmen said they weren't liable.

So, in April, the Grams took the supermarket to small claims court. And lost. "From the deep gouges in the vehicle it appeared to the judge that (Diana Grams) had run into the cart," Vons manager Bill Bradfuer said. "He said he had seen a lot of basket damage in his day, but he thought she was negligent."

Bradfuer said that the carts were nudged along by a 40 m.p.h. wind and that the store is not responsible for the elements.

"The food industry's position for years," he said, "is they can't be responsible for nature."

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