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Instagram is my digital drug of choice (@christianbeamish—hit me!) and a surfboard I made was recently featured in a funny post by @jonathanwaynefreeman, a guy with a huge number of followers. His online performances are absurd and hilarious as he slips in and out of alter-egos with a convin…

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Last month, I began the story of the life of my great-grandmother Agnes Ziska Bina. I wrote about how her husband ended his own life in 1931 leaving Agnes with four young daughters; and how Agnes made a new life afterward, giving birth to an out-of-wedlock fifth daughter in 1935.

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High summer in the Carpinteria Garden Park is a riot of color and fragrance. Orange squash blossoms bigger than your hand peak out from the foliage of climbing scarlet runner beans with brilliant white and red flowers. Head-high sunflowers twist in the breeze and multi-colored zinnias bloom …

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Every summer, I make a pilgrimage to a different naturehood where I work as a volunteer warden and naturalist. It’s a seabird island called Mitlenatch Provincial Park. Mitlenatch, one of the world’s Important Bird Areas (IBAs), lies in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the m…

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The Santa Clara River Estuary was a graveyard of tattered driftwood, tangled kelp balls, a rotting sea lion carcass that was so putrid it could only attract a pair of turkey vultures. A high ceiling of overcast kept the early morning comfortably cool. The sand was coarse and gritty, perfect …

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Sea level rise. A series of words that has a different impact depending on where you are located in the world, but as someone who lives near the ocean and takes advantage of the proximity, it is something I pay attention to. Spending a lot of time at the beach makes you notice everything fro…

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Just a short time ago I finished my teaching credential at UCSB, got a job, rented a house on the beach in Carpinteria, had fun, got married, produced three sons over 11 years, retired, adored three grandsons and never felt “old.” Then the dreaded coronavirus attacked and spread and forced u…

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My great-grandmother Agnes Ziska Bina was born Feb. 11, 1900 in the farming community of Conway, North Dakota. Her parents had independently immigrated to the US from Czechoslovakia in the early 1870s and farmed on neighboring homesteads until they were wed in 1877. Agnes was the last of the…

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It’s as if we’d been flung into a kind of space-time continuum, an alternate reality, some things familiar and other things staggeringly foreign. Stores we recognize boarded up, empty paths, our kids un-huggable, friend groups dispersed like wind-blown seeds.

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What a challenging and potentially transformative moment for our local and national community. The coronavirus pandemic reminds us that humans are still a part of the natural world, as our livelihoods and personal safety confront a microbial world impacted by human development and unpreceden…

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For more than a century, the miraculous return of Cliff Swallows to Mission San Juan Capistrano occurred on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19, inspiring books, songs and festivals. A less famous group arrives around the same time to nest under the eaves of our garage in the hills above Carpinteria,…

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Last weekend I finally got around to watching the award-winning 2011 movie “The Help.” The story is about an author writing a book from the perspective of African American maids working for white families in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963.

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The grasses had been mowed down to the nub around the countless burrows built by busy giant kangaroo rats (GKR), the keystone species of the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

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We wish you a safe, happy summer and we are grateful for all your support during this most challenging and unprecedented spring semester. Your partnership during the school closure and online learning was critical to your child’s success and we appreciate how hard you worked to support your …

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Frequent CVN readers may recall articles in recent weeks featuring auctions supporting local businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Mission Possible took time to speak with the volunteer spearheading these efforts, Annette Fisher, a beloved community member who is honored to help her home an…

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Let me start by telling you that I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Southern Confederate states that fought for slavery in the civil war of the 1860s. In downtown Richmond, looming statues of the South’s Civil War “heroes” dominate important streets. For over 130 years, thos…

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While I’m sheltering in place at home to avoid the Covid-19 virus, my TV keeps inundating me with riots and protests and struggles with racial bias and police brutality.  As I’m questioning how and what we can do to bring about positive change, I start thinking about what happened in Gallup,…

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In August of 1867, my great-grandfather John Andrew Bina was born in the small farming community of Brocket, North Dakota. He was the second child and first son born to Czech parents, and over the years, nine more children joined the homestead. Suffice to say, John grew up in a typically lar…

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In my previous column (It’s All Surfing, “Friends in low places,” CVN, Vol. 26, No. 34), I wrote of mildly unpleasant encounters I’d had with Chinese people in the Cape Verde Islands. “But this is not a screed against Chinese people,” I stated, “I know they are a great society in many ways.”…

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“The Vast of Night” is a great escape. Think “The Twilight Zone.” Think “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Think “The War of the Worlds.” “The Vast of Night,” which was on limited release last year and is just now streaming on Amazon Prime, is a low-budget sci-fi mystery that takes place …

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I hope that you and yours are staying well in the midst of our ever-changing reality.  Here at the Carpinteria Garden Park, spring has continued apace in all its wild flourishing, providing welcome rest in the other-than-human world. This is the garden’s third growing season and years of har…

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The last few months have been unusual times, to say the least. The world has been in flux, and me and my team, like you, were trying to understand what was really going on. For a while, to attempt to narrow in on real estate would have been anyone’s guess and just didn’t feel right. But time…

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For a long time, the male Red-shouldered Hawk was alone. He would scout the neighborhood with rapid wingbeats, looking for one of his kind, screeching, “Keeah Keeah Keeah…”

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I grew up in a big family in a house filled with the energy of a bunch of rambunctious kids. I am not sure how long it was before my parents figured out that unbreakable plastic dinner plates were a good idea, but except for holidays, that’s what we used.

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It’s the mobile basecamp transporting you to hidden natural wonders, where time slows down and the only set schedule moves along on its own course. You’re just along for the ride because you chose to be there, making the drive with enough provisions to see you through on your car camping exc…

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In the wake of the 2018 Montecito mudslides, CVN interviewed local Jaime Diamond about the founding of the Carpinteria Food Pantry alongside fellow volunteer Jessica Clark. Two years later, Diamond has donned a face mask to provide her community with food during a new crisis: the Covid-19 pandemic.

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I hit a wall last week. I was overtired, overstressed and added a dash of too much sugar and not enough exercise. I was done—unable to concentrate, accomplish much or anything, or even care that my son was on a screen for the 25th hour in a row. I’m on plenty of zoom calls with a lot of peop…

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We’re still distancing. Still streaming. And if you’re anything like my family, you’re doing it a lot. Our latest Sunday evening tradition is to rotate picking a Disney movie for all of us to watch. Thomas (7) recently picked “Cool Runnings” and says he is going to pick “Honey I Shrunk the K…

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Well over a decade ago, I went on a surf trip to the Cape Verde islands for Surfer Magazine when the idea of a global pandemic just made for a good horror film. I’d been there a decade before, as a member of an eight-man Seabee detachment tasked with building a schoolhouse with a crew of Cap…

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Since everyone in my household has been home a lot more, our compost has been working overtime. Now, I know how to correctly compost. I haven’t ever lived somewhere that I didn’t have a composting system of some sort. My mother still has an aerobic composting pile that she or my stepfather t…

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Every day when I get up I put on earrings. Not because I’m going anywhere or seeing anybody but because the little silver hoops remind me that once I did go places and see people and may again. Call them my hope amulets.

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On Earth Day, I was talking to my neighbor Val from six feet away in her driveway, when a little gray fox trotted past. It was a beautiful creature—grizzled gray with cinnamon accents and a billowy black-tipped tail.

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If you walk around the corner from Crushcakes Cafe and start down Yucca Lane toward the parking lot behind that building, you see a large mural on the wall that resembles an old-fashioned postcard showing the beach paradise and glamour that is the stereotype of California. It is a colorful i…

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What a meaningful time to build a garden and plant seeds.  People around the country are finding the time and purpose to grow food, as our social world and time commitments diminish and self-reliance increases. Growing some of your household’s fresh fruits and vegetables is a powerful invest…

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She chirped defiantly at the aerial assault. A low-flying American kestrel had a bead on her kits, a couple of cheeky, tiny, and unaware Nelsons antelope ground squirrels.

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At the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, volunteer captain Jed Hirsch is ready to take on tasks of any size with a smile on his face and an eagerness to help others. Hirsch is the most senior member of the brigade, having first joined efforts in the aftermath of the 2018 Montecito Mudslides. His…

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“Great job, Team Carpinteria!” Don Hall of United Boys & Girls Clubs, Carpinteria exclaimed. Yes! I want everyone to know how well coordinated the leaders of organizations in Carpinteria are right now. This strong team is built on years of relationships. And, in a weird way, the experien…

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On June 18, 1885, 214 crates containing the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York on the French frigate Isere. That same day, my great-grandmother Elizabeth Maria Paulina Gelser Miller was born in St. Louis, Missouri; and 125 years later I was to discover a closer French connection.

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While trying to think about what I could write about for this column, I found myself struggling. I don’t need to go down the road of “things are rough” since I know everyone is feeling that way (and if you aren’t, please share your secret with the rest of us). Every aspect of our lives has b…

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During this time of coronavirus stress, I have rediscovered a tonic for what ails us: watching birds. Typically, I travel for my work. Now like everyone else, I’m grounded.  

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We’re rounding the corner on a month now of sheltering-in-place. Aside from the uncertainty of this time, we’re enjoying being together as a family. The morning rush to school is no longer an issue, and we’re able to focus the hours of study in the areas our daughter is working to improve on…

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My workday while sheltering-at-home mostly involves sitting at my desk working on the computer. My big midday adventure is going outside to get the mail. As the day winds down, I look forward to getting outside for some exercise—maybe a walk around the block or a run that takes me along the beach.

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What a whirlwind the last few weeks have been. While much has shifted rapidly, the natural world continues to move at the slower pace of fresh green growth and abundance. The recent generous rainfall triggered the first flushes of spring at the Carpinteria Garden Park, a slow unfurling that …

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The ticks were moving up my pant legs faster than I thought after tiptoeing across a year-round spring that flows to a deserted beach located south of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Sand Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, I’ve always been a tick magnet, and at times have found them on me i…

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In this time of unprecedented school closures and swift changes, Carpinteria Unified School District is challenged to continue the education and support for our students and families. On March 13, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order ensuring California public school districts ret…

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