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Thanksgiving Holiday Proclamation

By Sharon Byrne

One Thanksgiving, our family, consisting of ex-Brits, cancelled Czechs, and 1st generation American kids, had a bit of a discussion on this American holiday. My father asked us if we knew which president had made Thanksgiving permanently a national holiday?

First-Thanksgiving-LincolnI guessed Abraham Lincoln, surprising him. After all, wasn’t it mostly a northern celebration, originating with the Pilgrims in 1621? Wouldn’t earlier presidents have proclaimed Thanksgivings? And indeed they had. Washington and Adams both proclaimed Thanksgiving Day holidays in their respective presidencies. Jefferson skipped it, but Madison renewed it in 1814. From then on, states tended to set their own Thanksgiving holidays, often at different times of the year.

But Lincoln would be sorely tested at the task of holding the new nation together when it erupted into strife before even turning 100. What other president would have desperately needed to remind Americans of their beginnings in braving a long sea voyage and carving a new life out of the wild forests of the New World? What better way to remind Americans that they are first and foremost Americans, than by remembering that hard won first feast, and calling everyone in the nation to do the same? Making it a permanent, official holiday would evoke one American People to celebrate our origins and success created out of hard scrabble, in unity.

Now that, folks, is politics at its finest. At this time of reds vs blues, coast vs flyover states, the 99%, and other internal divisions in our nation, we might do well to remember we’ve been divided before, but our union held. We might also want to give thanks that these present divisions aren’t accompanied by military occupation of our homes and cities, civil war and strife.

Here is the text of the Thanksgiving Holiday proclamation, written by Secretary of State William Seward:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.”

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State

Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

Thanksgiving Memories

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150It’s always been the best holiday: this day set aside for giving thanks instead of getting things. Of course, having friends and family gathered together for one terrific meal adds to the possibilities, especially when everyone is on their most mannerly behavior—deferring discussion about political or religious differences, dieting or workout schedules, or problems with children, spouses or on the job.

It’s a day to eat, drink and be merry. And to remember some standout Thanksgiving holidays.

 The Thanksgiving of childhood. Mama was never happier than when she was cooking for the entire extended family—and Thanksgiving gave her a way to blend the New World celebration with Old Country ways.  The November holiday was just a warm-up to the weeks-long Christmas extravaganza, but still a triumph.

There never was a children’s table; we kids always sat with the adults, minded our manners and ate what was dished up for us without whining or arguing. But everything was so good and we so clearly felt the love around that table that we stayed as long as possible.

It bothered my non-Sicilian father greatly that on this most American holiday, Mama stuffed the turkey with some kind of mixture of rice, hamburger meat, and Italian sausage all bound together with distinctively Italian herbs and spices. He grew up in the Midwest, and as far as he was concerned stuffing was made with bread and not to be messed with. It was the subject of much discussion between my parents every single year.

But in her dining room, the turkey was hardly the star of the show—not when a holiday—any holiday—meant heaping platters of homemade pasta and meatballs; roasted meats including lamb and rabbit; and a table of desserts that could have stocked a neighborhood bakery. There were pies, cakes, Italian cookies, cheesecake and always the labor-intensive cannoli. Then came the fruits, nuts and candies and hours around the table. We kids lingered until were finally dismissed to go play in the “little room” stocked with toys and games while the adults played penny poker long into the night.

The Thanksgiving of the land. Twenty-eight years ago this year, many of those same people around that table of my childhood gathered at my aunt and uncle’s home for a more traditional Thanksgiving celebration. I had just met a guy who wrote the hiking column for the L.A. Times, and I was working as the editor of a magazine called “California Scenic.” Both of us had been invited to the East Mojave Desert for a post-Thanksgiving tour led by staffers of then-Senator Alan Cranston, who was working on saving vast areas of the California desert lands.

When I explained to my uncle that I’d be leaving soon after dinner to drive out to the desert with my new friend, he misunderstood and thought I was going with the Senator. My uncle was born in Holland and sometimes things got lost in translation. He finally figured it out, once I married that hiking guy, he would ask me “How’s your boyfriend, Alan Cranston?”

Back in those days, there was still the post-Thanksgiving Barstow-to-Vegas off-road race that wrecked havoc with the fragile desert environment. It was finally banned and the hiker guy and I fell in love with each other and the desert. We returned there many times during our courtship and after our marriage and created a map and wrote a book about that special desert land.

After the retirement of Sen. Cranston, Senator Dianne Feinstein continued his work. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the California Desert Protection Act into law. The East Mojave is now known as “Mojave National Preserve,” and it’s a magical place that was well-worth the time, investment and work it took to help save it.

The Thanksgiving of the heart. A few years ago, that uncle who had a sense of adventure and a good sense of humor was admitted to the hospital a few days before Thanksgiving. He and my aunt—my grandmother’s daughter, who prepared just a bit less elaborate Thanksgiving meals—spent the day together. Alone. In the hospital.

They perked up when my husband, our son and I arrived unannounced. We had packed up a Thanksgiving meal and brought it to them: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing, pumpkin pie. The Works. Some kind nurses allowed us to use their microwave, and when brought those steaming plates to them, it was the greatest feeling ever. It was a Thanksgiving like no other—a small celebration in an unfamiliar room far from home.  But like those Thanksgiving holidays of my childhood, all the right people were present, and it was filled with love and abundance.

Mama, Sen. Alan Cranston, Uncle Bill have all moved on now, and we can hope they’re all in a better place. They leave us with vivid holiday memories, and we give thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

State of the Schools: Dr. Cash Leads the Way

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150Superintendent David Cash gave his annual State of the Schools address at a well-attended breakfast meeting at the Hyatt on Thursday. He saved the best for last, concluding his remarks with the declaration, “The state of the school in Santa Barbara; they’re good. And thank you for that.”

Union Bank and the Santa Barbara Education Foundation sponsored the event, and foundation president Craig Price introduced Dr. Cash, noting his “…boundless energy and considerable skills,” which have had such an effect on the district’s tone, buzz and positive attitude. “Good things are happening in the Santa Barbara Unified School District,” he noted.

In his three years on the job, the majordomo of the District has shown that he subscribes to the old maxim of “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Since he’s been on the job, he has undeniably been the leader as the District has been reinvigorated, perhaps even reimagined with a strategic plan that emphasizes three main goals. In his address, Cash detailed the consistent progress made on them:
1) Implementing Common Core State Standards
2) Creating technology learning environments across the district
3) Developing a strong foundation of culturally proficient classrooms.

He emphasized that this has been a time of “Change, change, change,” and acknowledged, “Change is tough.” That change has included several aims, including a focus on student, family and community engagement; organizational transformation extending to budget documents; restorative approaches to discipline issues; a facilities master plan, and almost 100 percent green practices.

“No student is anonymous, every one is recognized by someone who actually connects with them,” he declared.

Cash continued with explanations about several issues, including the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) reform measure in how schools are funded; he spoke about academic data that indicates that trends are up in the areas of students taking the SAT and ACT (as well as their scores); in those who complete the A-G requirements to prepare for college admission; and those English Language learners who are reclassified to fluent and proficient.

He addressed other trend lines that are on their way down, including use of alcohol and binge drinking, use of marijuana, as well as suspensions and expulsions.

And he noted many examples of enrichment programs that are providing our students with opportunities in the visual and performing arts; in music and afterschool sports programs. He singled out several innovations that are working, including the Core Knowledge and project-based learning at the Community Academy; dual immersion at Adelante; Montessori classrooms at Adams; the GATE magnet school at Washington; the Open Alternative School partnership with Antioch; the International Baccalaureate program at Harding; and several partnerships with colleges, nonprofits, the City and the County.

Before concluding his remarks, he observed that 2016 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Santa Barbara Unified School District, and invited all to participate in the observation of 150 great years—and launch into the next 150 years. The most important way for individuals to support the schools, he suggested, is to become part of the Santa Barbara Education Foundation—the nonprofit that is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

The Foundation distributed “Seeds of Hope,” actual flower packets, with an insert that read in part, “Seeds represent hope. They are the start of something wonderful…For 30 years, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation has quietly sowed the seeds of hope by supporting all students K-12 in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. With the help of the community the Education Foundation provides support for music, science, art and early childhood development programs.”

For more information about the Santa Barbara Education Foundation:

For more information about the Santa Barbara Unified School District:


This Date in Santa Barbara History

Two important passings of note on this date in Santa Barbara history…

juniperoserraFray Junípero Serra, co-founder of Santa Barbara, was born on November 24, 1713 on the island of Majorca off the Spanish Coast. Serra was the revered Franciscan priest who founded California’s missions. Junípero also has one officially recognized miracle to his name. The Santa Barbara Mission was the 10th established in California and was founded two years after Serra’s death… the Santa Barbara Mission was dedicated to Junípero Serra by his successor, Fermin Francisco de Lasuen.

tompkinswWalker A. Tompkins died in Santa Barbara on November 24, 1988. A true journalist and historian, the last half of Tompkins’ nearly sixty-year writing career was focused on Santa Barbara… during which time he penned eighteen local history books including: Santa Barbara’s Royal Rancho, California’s Wonderful Corner, Goleta: The Good Land, Santa Barbara Past and Present, It Happened in Old Santa Barbara, Stagecoach Days in Santa Barbara County, and Santa Barbara History Makers.

70 Mile Bike Ride Around Town

Santa Barbara by Bicycle column by Steve Cook

Carpinteria Bluffs Sunrise. Rincon Mtn (left), Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands (l-r), La Cumbre Peak (right) — Click for HiDef Image

I woke up early Monday morning and hit the road well before the sun had risen. This is part of my training for a long distance endurance ride I’ll be doing this summer in France called PBP, or Paris to Brest to Paris. PBP is a 1200K (746 mile) ride to be completed in 90 hours or less. An international team of ElliptiGO riders are training for this ride. Here is the team as it exists today, and we’re looking for more riders to join us!

Let me take you through today’s ride from Santa Barbara to Carpinteria to the far end of Goleta and back. I headed down towards the beach from the Westside, riding to the beach, down Cabrillo Boulevard, past the Bird Refuge and Clark Estate, winding up and down Channel Drive, cutting across Danielson Road to South Jamenson. Then, crossing the San Ysidro bridge, east on North Jameson, over the Ortega Ridge bike path, continuing East on Lillie through Summerland. From there I continued on Via Real to Carpinteria, taking the Seventh Street overpass to Carp Avenue, continuing out to Highway 150/Rincon Road. Just before the bridge that demarks Ventura County, I turned left onto Gobenedor Canyon, climbed the hill, then dropped down the other side to Foothill Road. It was brisk out — the temperature was in the low to mid-forties until I passed the Polo fields. Traffic was minimal until Foothill Road, then it started to pick up with people heading to school and work. In spite of the increase in cars, those that passed me did so with plenty of clearance, certainly abiding by the three-foot passing law. Continuing on Foothill Road to Toro Canyon, I climbed up to East Valley and continued to Ladera Lane.

While I was climbing Toro Canyon a semi-truck with an attached trailer was heading down the bending road towards me. At the same time I noticed in my mirror a pickup truck coming up the hill towards my position. This is a very tight corridor with no room for three vehicles side-by-side. So, I held out my left arm and moved more into the lane signaling to the pickup truck behind me to wait. Once the semi had passed us and the road ahead was clear, I pulled more to the right, releasing the pickup truck to pass me. And, I waved my thanks as they passed. It may have cost the pickup 5-7 seconds to wait to pass, but it insured both our safety.

Ladera Lane presents a challenge for bicyclists — it’s steep and goes on for almost a mile. I find the best way to approach this climb is just to put one foot in front of the other, keep the pedals turning, and enjoy the scenery. In fact, one time I was climbing this hill I watched and listened to the fire control goat herd munching on the poison oak and brush as I pedaled. The hill will come to me soon enough — there is no reason to kill myself trying to trim off a few minutes. All of the climbs in Santa Barbara are like this — they are manageable with the right mindset, once one has the stamina to do small climbs, the larger ones are attainable too! This includes hills like Miramonte Drive, California Street and Campanil Hill; and it includes mountain climbs like Old San Marcos/Painted Cave Road, and even Gibraltar Road. Where the mind will go, the body will follow.

Having ascended Ladera Lane I continued onto Bella Vista Drive, then onto Park Lane. Continuing through to San Ysidro road and a quick left onto East Mountain Drive I began what I call the estate view segment of the ride. There are so many new and rebuilt homes in the area; many maintaining the classic mediterranean look from the twenties and thirties that I love so much. And, in the morning there are a lot of people out for their walks that will greet you as you ride by, some are even hollywood types in everyday dress.


View of Santa Barbara Harbor from Bella Vista Drive
View of Santa Barbara Harbor from Bella Vista Drive
Critter Footprints Alongside the Road
Critter Footprints Alongside the Road

Once I reached Sheffield Reservoir, I headed down Mountain Drive and turned right on Foothill Road. From there I continued through the undulations of Foothill road and over the San Roque Creek Bridge, keeping an eye out for trapped road debris and storm drains; then on to the San Marcos Pass intersection where Foothill Road turns into Cathedral Oaks Road. One thing to watch for, I learned at this intersection, is cars want to pass you when you’re on the right of the road to make the right turn up San Marcos Pass. It’s important to pay attention to the cars approaching from behind to insure they don’t “right hook” you. Sometimes I need to “take the right lane” to prevent this from happening as they are often in a rush to head up the pass. The illustration below will help you to understand more about the dangers of getting yourself into a “right hook” or “left cross” situation.

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 10.33.59 AM
Lane Positioning in Traffic

The above animation was created by Keri Caffrey at showing how to avoid some bike riding traffic traps. Knowing and using these bicycle positioning skills can prove useful on most any ride. These skills apply to more than just bike/truck situations. Click on the the image to see the full animation. One must ride where one is visible to all traffic.

Once on Cathedral Oaks it was a relatively straight forward ride out to Winchester Canyon Road where I stopped by the 76 station for an early lunch/refueling before turning around and heading home. The route home took me back on Cathedral Oaks, then on to Ribera Drive where I connected with the Maria Ygnacio Trail multi-use path, then on the Obern Trail path all the way through to Modoc Road, and then home again.

These trails are wonderful to ride on. During the low light times of the day, I keep my head and tail lights on. And, when passing people or bikes I will use my handlebar bell to let them know I’m coming.

Obern Trail Bridge by Hidden Oaks Golf Course
Obern Trail Bridge by Hidden Oaks Golf Course

Long Ride: SB to Carp to GoletaSB to Carp to Goleta – click for more detail

All in all this was an easy, though long ride. It took just under seven hours to complete the 70 miles. This is part of the training for PBP, long and increasingly difficult rides, working up to 200K, 300K, 400K, and 600K distances. All of these qualifying rides also have time limits on them to insure the rider will have a decent shot of completing PBP within the required 90 hour time limit. Of course, we don’t have to ride long distances in beautiful Santa Barbara, nor do we have to press hard — we just need to take the opportunity to get out and ride, and enjoy the scenery.

If you’re interested in riding and want to know how to get started, consider taking a class from a League Certified Instructor at the Bicycle Coalition. If your business or organization would like to have classes taught onsite, please contact me at

Here are some of the laws that pertain to bike riding in California; some good tips for courteous cycling; and a great article on waving and making eye-to-eye contact with other drivers.

Read more about Getting Around Santa Barbara by Bicycle in my blog: or follow me on Twitter: SantaBarbaraUpClose

I’ll be looking for you on the road. If you see me on my ElliptiGO bike, say Hi!

Harbor Bound

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Harbor Bound
The end to what looks like it was an amazing day of sailing. This sailboat is motoring its way back into the Santa Barbara Harbor under one of the most beautiful skies imaginable.

-Bill Heller

Titans of Santa Barbara: Thomas M. Storke

Thomas Storke, the man who would come to be known as “Mr. Santa Barbara,” was born on this day in 1876. Although his accomplishments were many, Storke is best know for his hand in the local newspaper business. He was 24 years old when he bought the Daily Independent and over 80 when he won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism.

“In 1900, Tom Storke, age 24, borrowed $2,000 to buy the Daily Independent, weakest of the town’s three papers,” wrote the NY Times at the time of his death in 1971. “He sold it in 1909 and went back into the business in 1913 as owner of the Santa Barbara Daily News. Not long afterward he reacquired the Independent and published the combined paper as the Daily News and Independent.”

In 1932, Storke’s competition, the Santa Barbara Morning Press, was on the brink of bankruptcy, and they begged him to take over as owner. He did and merged his newspaper with the Morning Press to create today’s Santa Barbara News-Press.
Continue reading…

Turkey Time in Santa Barbara, CA

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

A friend of mine told me to check out the turkey’s on Modoc & MIssion. Sure enough, a tom and a hen, along with a few chickens have free range of the large yard. Driving by they almost look like yard art, but as I walked up they slowly walked towards me. With a few seconds the tom ruffled his feathers and took on the look of, gulp, the classic holiday bird.

Before he got too close I beat a hasty retreat. A really gorgeous bird.

EcoFacts: Clothing Makes the Person‏

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

Is the fast fashion trend waning? We can hope so. People in the U.S. spend more on clothes than ever before, an average of around $900 per person and 64 garments bought in a year (average price $14 each). They are sometimes poorly made and with fabrics that have toxic levels of phthalates another chemicals, but that is a whole other issue.

Fast fashion has been big in the last decade or more – cheap and hence readily disposable clothing, but a turnaround may be happening, as some fashion experts say a “buy less but better movement is brewing”. Great! Because the average person also disposes of 68 lbs of clothes (throws away) in a year. And then there is what we give away – so much that most of the donations to thrift stores ends up with textile recyclers who either sell them abroad or turn them into rags. Last year 860,000 tons of used clothing were exported. No stats on the rags.

Santa-Barbara-Consignment-Store-signHere is a hopeful indicator: if people are buying too many clothes, at least more are buying used, it seems. The number of thrift stores increased 12% in 2012. There are now around 25,000 resale or thrift shops in the U.S.. Well, the clothes are there to fill the shops, that’s for sure. Even downtown Santa Barbara has more consignment/resale clothing shops than ever. So maybe more of our massive amounts of clothing have at least a better chance at being worn until they are actually ready for rag status.