Exiting the Main Gate to Vandenberg AFB, I again saw protestors with banners, waving slogans that told passing motorists, local news and our military men and women that “weapons don’t bring peace.”

I loved all the holiday events happening in town this past weekend — the parade, Master Chorale concert, Lompoc Pops concert, and the Creche Community Concert at the LDS church.

Ten more days until the solar cycle renews and the sun starts its return to the northern hemisphere; winter solstice is the darkest day for us up here north of the equator.  We hardly think of it in today’s world of eternal electric light, but ancient people held this day in holy reverence. …

The ashes of Santa Barbara County Fire Heavy Equipment Operator Dean Moore are brought down from a tractor during the procession at his funeral Thursday in Solvang. Moore died Nov. 29 after a two-year battle with lung cancer. //Ian Gonzaga/Staff

The gray rain clouds mirrored the somber emotions Thursday as the final alarm was rung for Dean Moore, a heavy-equipment operator with Santa Barbara County Fire Department, who died Nov. 29 after a two-year battle with lung cancer.

The lifeguard at the girls water polo match Thursday between Lompoc and Righetti high schools in Orcutt sits in the cold and rainy weather. //Bryan Walton/Staff

A faulty steering system on a Delta 2 rocket engine prompted a three-day delay for a mission to launch a NASA satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base, officials said Thursday.

Two men whose brush-clearing efforts along a local trail allegedly sparked the devastating Jesusita Fire in May have been charged with misdemeanor violations of county codes, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Red Kettle Campaign Chairman Cozetta Blow greets customers as she rings a bell at the Vons in Lompoc. At left, Maurita Jaurequi of the Salvation Army rings a bell for donations in Santa Maria. //Ian Gonzaga/Staff

They’re not jingle bells or silver bells, but the ding-a-ling chime from Salvation Army bell ringers heralds the coming of Christmas just as effectively.

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Shoppers walk through the rain at Vons on North H Street in Lompoc Monday morning.//Len Wood/Staff 12/7/09 photo

Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum at today’s annual holiday party. //Contributed