Friday, February 28, 2014

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 31, March 01, 2014

Interview with Dr. Jai Tomlin, Yachats Health Care
The Yachats Gazette interviewed Dr. Jai Tomlin on the opening of her new Yachats business located at 162 Beach Avenue.

TYG: What kind of work do you do?
Dr. Tomlin:
I am a doctor of chiropractic and integrative medicine. That means I work with muscles, and bones, and sprains and strains, and any joint in the body. I also work with the nervous system. I work with nutrition and am a wellness consultant. I work with the whole body, and the whole system of wellness. I also practice physical therapy. One of the physical therapies we work with is laser light therapy. It is a way that activates acupuncture points without puncturing the skin. So that will be available here as well.

TYG: What exactly is chiropractic therapy?
Dr. Tomlin:
Chiropractic relieves any sort of interference with the nervous system, and so it helps to restore health by relieving things that interfere, like herniated disks, or muscle strains. Because the central nervous system controls the rest of the body, in a way it helps with many things. As a chiropractor we help relieve pain and restore normal motion and health. 

TYG: My Dad’s a PA [physician assistant], which is effectively a doctor, except he has a supervisor.
Dr. Tomlin:
Yes, I know! We do similar things, but we [chiropractors] work mostly with the skeletal system, the nervous system and muscles and joints, things like that.

TYG-Graphic Design: I was going to ask—you said “anything that interferes with the nervous system,” and I can think of chemical imbalance, sodium imbalance, that kind of thing. Do you treat those as well?
Dr. Tomlin:
We do it indirectly. What we do is help the body be as well as possible. In that respect, the body is more able to fight off other things. But of course then we refer to other health care providers if people need medicines, or other kinds of things that we don’t address, because our scope of practice is limited with that. We can’t prescribe prescription medicines—only natural nutraceuticals. So we work hand in hand with the medical profession all the time.

TYG: So I’m assuming that by “disks” you mean vertebral disks.
Dr. Tomlin:

TYG: How long have you been doing this kind of work?
Dr. Tomlin:
I’ve been doing this work since 1972.

TYG: I see! What made you decide to become a chiropractic doctor?
Dr. Tomlin:
When I was young—I was probably six or seven—I woke up one morning and I couldn’t move my neck. I was completely in pain, and couldn’t move, and [I was] scared. And my Mom took me to a chiropractor! And the chiropractor worked on me, and after one visit I walked out and I felt fine. Now, that doesn’t always happen, but it happened to me and I thought “I’m going to do that when I grow up!” [laughter]

TYG: That makes sense! I mean, it could have been more than just joints—it could have been more serious that you might not have been able to understand at that young age.
Dr. Tomlin:
Right! It was torticollis—it’s more common in young people, actually. But yes, I didn’t know that—all I knew was that I couldn’t move!

TYG: How long have you lived in the area?
Dr. Tomlin:
I have lived in the area for over 20 years! I’m from Alaska originally, but moved here over 20 years ago.

TYG: Alaska, wow! What made you decide to come to this area?
Dr. Tomlin:
I followed my heart. I have a way of making decisions that’s not always just linear. I love it here because of the climate, the beauty, and nature…

TYG: I think everyone in Yachats has to agree with that! Most of the time, not including today [gray and rainy].
Dr. Tomlin:
No, even including today. It’s still  beautiful. There’s plenty of water, and I like that. And I like places that are more rural. I was raised in the rural parts of Alaska, so I’m used to really little towns, and I love them.

TYG: By the way—I’m just interested—what kind of “rural” can you do in Alaska? Was it like reindeer farming?
Dr. Tomlin:
Well, at one point I lived above the Arctic Circle, in Brooks Range.

TYG: Oh wow! So then you probably did raise reindeer!
Dr. Tomlin:
No! [laughter] But we did all sorts things without electricity. The way we got in was by bush plane, and we snow-shoed around.

TYG: You certainly couldn’t farm, to speak of, there.
Dr. Tomlin:
No. I baked a lot of sourdough bread! [laughter]

TYG: You must be kidding. Where did you get the grain from?
Dr. Tomlin:
We brought it in by plane. We put the food up on big caches—they’re like little houses on stilts—so the bear can’t get in there.

TYG: That’s very interesting! [Moving on] How do you think this establishment [Yachats Health Care] will serve the community?
Dr. Tomlin:
I think it will serve the community by being one of the only health care places here—in fact, it is the only one now. This is an under-served community for health care, and so I’m hoping it will really fill that need. […]

TYG: When do you plan to open?
Dr. Tomlin:
February 28, at 3pm and I hope you all come to the opening public reception!

TYG: What did you do before this?
Dr. Tomlin:
I was a massage therapist.

TYG: So you’ve always been in the medical field.
Dr. Tomlin:
I’ve always been doing body-work of some kind.

TYG: What is “integrative medicine”? On the sign, it says that.
Dr. Tomlin:
“Integrative medicine” is a blend of different types of healing modalities. I would like to have this be a place that has not only chiropractic, but has massage, and hopefully some kind of more mainstream medicine like MD, or nurse practitioner. It would be lovely to also have acupuncture. [We don’t have that] yet, but we’re talking to some local acupuncturists to see if maybe part-time [might work]. […] People don’t know that chiropractic physicians are primary physicians, so at least there will be one primary physician in town.

TYG: Yes! My Dad is one actually, and he works at Sea Aire [Assisted Living Facility]. […]
Dr. Tomlin:
I’m also an animal chiropractor, and I work with animals. And Luna [one of her two Australian Shepherds] is also a therapy dog, and so is Soleil, and we work with special needs kids in the school system in Newport, and we work together with the kids in the juvenile shelter in Newport.



TYG: I had no idea! It certainly didn’t say that on your sign! You should probably alter it and add more text saying “Animal and Human Chiropractic.” Because there are a lot of pets in this town: cats, dogs, everything. I even know up the River there’s an African Gray parrot.
Dr. Tomlin:
I’ve never had people call me before to adjust their birds! [laughter]

TYG-GD: Why is it called “adjust”?
Dr. Tomlin:
It’s [called] “adjust” because we’re freeing up normal motion in the joint. And it’s just easier to call it “adjust” because we’re adjusting things so they work and move better.

TYG: Maybe the bird owners could train their bird to sit still while you adjust them.
Dr. Tomlin: [laughter]
Maybe! I went to Kansas to learn animals, but I just learned horses and dogs. […] One of the reasons it’s called “adjustment” rather than “manipulation” (which we can also do) is because manipulation is more long lever, more stretching; whereas adjustment is a very quick little impulse. […] Because I’m not a primary physician with animals, like I am with people, every animal I see comes from a veterinarian referral. So I’m more like a physical therapist with the animals.

TYG: What kind of training do you have to have to become a doctor in this field?
Dr. Tomlin:
Well, to become a doctor of chiropractic you have to first start out on the same track as the MD’s start out on: all of the pathologies, all of the disease processes, all the microbiology. The first two years of medical and chiropractic are pretty much the same. And then the next two years diverge, and [chiropractic] is more focused on the musculoskeletal system and natural ways of healing, like exercise and diet and things like that.

TYG: And probably your residency is completely different. For example, MD’s and PA’s see humans who are diseased or bleeding…
Dr. Tomlin:
There is a last year of residency, and we see humans who are in pain, but not bleeding.

TYG: Do you bill insurance?
Dr. Tomlin:
In Newport, I bill every kind of insurance imaginable. I’m starting out here [in Yachats] as a cash practice, and making it very affordable for the community, and not billing insurance. I may change that down the road. […] Lots of people have high co-pays, or high deductibles, so I think it will work out fine. If it seems like we need to bill insurance down the road, then we will. 

TYG-GD: You mentioned you have an office in Newport. So are you going to be here part-time?
Dr. Tomlin:
Yes. The office in Newport will remain the same, and I’ll be coming down here at the times that I’m not working up there. I have another doctor who also works up there. To start with, I’ll be here on Tuesdays and Fridays.

TYG: Is there a form of PA [physician assistant] in the chiropractic business?
Dr. Tomlin:
Yes, but it’s not nearly as involved as being a PA in the medical system. There is a thing called a CA, which is a chiropractic assistant, but the training isn’t as involved as a PA training. It’s more doing things like physical therapy exercises, massage, things like that.

TYG: Could you supervise a PA?
Dr. Tomlin:
I’m not sure about the laws on that. […] I’m not planning on employing a doctor, but I’d like to have more of a cooperative, and have the space available. [If there were an MD or NP,] we could be a complete health care system, so that we could not only be dealing with things that can be handled with natural medicine, but also things that cannot be, that need to be handled with regular, allopathic medicine. I’d love for the people of Yachats to  have access to all of that.

TYG: What is your more specific specialty? Are you more a general chiropractic doctor, or do you have a branch of chiropractic doctoring?
Dr. Tomlin:
I am a rainbow medicine doctor. I do so many different things. Because I’ve been a doctor of chiropractic so long, or been working on people so long, I take a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. I do a lot of musculoskeletal, I do a lot of hands on work; but I am also very good at diagnosing, very good at referring, very good at blood work and lab values, but I also work with people’s health and well being.  So I take the whole person into account.

TYG: When did you get the idea to open a store in Yachats? […]
Dr. Tomlin:
I wanted to move to Yachats in the beginning, when I first moved here 20 years ago. But at that time I had too much debt and didn’t think I could make a living doing that here. So that’s why I went to Newport. But now I really feel like I’m coming home.

TYG: Do you have any family, and close friends?
Dr. Tomlin:
I do! I have all those things—aren’t I lucky? [laughter] I have family: I have my dear, sweet partner Brian, whom you just met; I have four grandchildren—they are awesome, all of them, I absolutely love them, as you can well imagine. They live in Sacramento. My oldest grandchild is living in Portland; she’s 22, and graduated from UC Santa Barbara in Psychology, and is applying to Portland State to a graduate program in Conflict Resolution—she wants to work with the police force.

TYG: When did you open the store in Newport?
Dr. Tomlin:
We opened in 1990.

TYG: Do you live in Newport?
Dr. Tomlin:
I do; we currently reside in Newport. But we’d love to come and live in Yachats.

TYG: […] How has business been going up in Newport?
Dr. Tomlin:
Great. Business is fabulous. I’m so grateful. I saw probably over 12 people this morning up there! I have a very established practice, and a wonderful group of people—some of them I have seen for generations.

TYG: Do you like it here in Yachats?
Dr. Tomlin:
I love it here. I think it’s the most special community. I was just reading the vision of the City Council online, and I just feel really aligned.

TYG: […] Thank you so much for your time!
Dr. Tomlin:
You are so welcome!  Hope to see you at our grand opening celebration on February 28th from 3-6pm. 

Interview with Jessica Treon
The Yachats Gazette interviewed Jessica Treon, Individual Piano Instructor and owner of Polly Panda Music, a lesson series centered around young music learners.

TYG: When did you become a piano teacher?
I started teaching in New Mexico in the late ‘70s—so ’75, ’76. How many years is that? [counts] 39 years ago. [laughs]

TYG: Interesting! I first remembered you saying you’d been teaching for more than 50 years.
I’ve been playing for more than 50 years!

TYG: Ah. I wasn’t clear about that.
Yes, playing more than 50 years, not teaching. I’m not that old. [laughs]

TYG: Why did you become a piano teacher?
You know, even as a young child, when I went for piano lessons, for some reason I just thought it was a quiet lifestyle, that made me available in my home, and I remember as a young child thinking that I wanted to be a piano teacher. Ultimately, it took me a long time to make the decision, because I got a lot of pressure to do something else that would make me rich.

TYG: What was that?
Oh, people said I should become a lawyer, I should become an accountant, I should become a doctor… you know. But what I found out over time is that I have to be doing music to be happy.

TYG: Where did you become a piano teacher? In other words, what college did you go to, or did you just learn as you went along?
I have a degree in what they call Piano Pedagogy. “Pedagogy” is just a fancy word for teaching, or education. So my degree is from the New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM.

TYG: Not just music pedagogy.
No, piano. Specifically piano. It’s basically the same thing as a performance degree, but you do some work on the side about teaching material and how to teach. 

TYG: Do you have any family in this area?
No. I have no family in this area. We moved here in 1996, and my husband died in 2009, and so I’m the only family here.

TYG: Do you have any other family?
Oh yes. I have a big family. I have three brothers, and one sister, and my Mom. But they’re scattered around. And my son! My son is in Texas, my mother and one brother are in New Mexico, and the rest of the family is sort of in the Bay Area, around San Francisco. 

TYG: When did you start teaching here in this building (in Waldport)?
2004 is when we got this house. That’s when I set up.

TYG: That’s when you set up Polly Panda [Music]?
[…] Polly Panda is my pre-school program, which I developed in New Mexico in the late ‘80s. Polly Panda Music is specifically my pre-school program. It’s for children aged two to four. So it’s group lessons, for little kids. And it’s pre-piano. So we do rhythm games and dancing and counting, and we learn about quarter notes and half notes. I teach them the basic terminology of music, the difference between high and low, and how you react to music: do you go fast or slow, loud or soft.

TYG: What’s the name of the course that I go to?
I just call my studio the Jessica W. Treon Piano and Music Studio.

TYG: Where did you get the name “Polly Panda Music Lessons”? That’s just so cool!
Jessica: [laughs
] Well, it actually just came to me, because I felt like young children would like to have a mascot that they could relate to. So I actually use a large, stuffed bear in the class, and all the classes are on tape. Supposedly it’s “Polly” running the classes. But it’s just a way to give the children access in what is kind of a loving, circle class.

TYG: What did you do before piano, if anything?
Ah, well… I used to work for my Dad, who was self-employed, and I did sales and stuff there. And for a while, I majored in accounting, so I had various office jobs doing bookkeeping, accounting-type stuff. Then right before I set up my studio, I used to sell life insurance. Nearly every musician I know has at some time sold insurance.

TYG: Really?
Jessica: [laughter]
It’s not easy to make a living as a musician!

TYG: How does it feel like to be teaching kids their possible future career choice?
Well, a few of the students that I teach will end up doing music professionally. […] But most students are going to use music to enrich their lives and to teach them things that will help them with other areas of their lives.

TYG: That’s probably what’s going to [happen] with me, too.
A lot of my students, even those who are quite talented, don’t end up majoring in music. They usually have other interests that take them [elsewhere], and when looking at career choices, they feel that it’s not easy to make a living as a musician.

TYG-Graphic Design: How did you choose piano as your main instrument?
Well, I started taking piano lessons when I was 9. Before that, my two older sisters took lessons. So, just like kids used to play “house” or play “school,” we played “piano lesson.” [laughter] So my older sister would teach me things before I went to the lessons. Piano is the only instrument I’ve ever really studied. I always loved it. In fact, it was one of those things: I loved it so much that I didn’t realize that other people who took lessons didn’t love it like I did. I thought everybody loved it the way I did, and it was years later that I would talk to people and I would say, “But you took piano!” and they would say, “Well yes, but not like you did!” [laughter] So I just really took to it. I liked playing, and I liked practicing. I mean, it wasn’t “Go practice before you do the dishes.” It was “Please do the dishes before you can go practice.” My mother will tell you that she woke up to music, went to bed to music, she made dinner to music… the piano was going all the time. Not just me, though. My older sister did play too.

TYG: Same thing with me! I’m usually blasting it out.
TYG-GD: Yes, at 11:30 at night…
Jessica: [laughter]
You’re a night owl! I didn’t know that! That’s often when I’m practicing, at 11:30 at night!

TYG-GD: I also wanted to ask you a little bit about your activities in Oregon and the local area in terms of piano and musicianship. You said you had a concert coming up?
I am an active member of the Oregon Music Teachers Association (OMTA), and so my students participate in the events that we have for students through that organization. That involves them in the Ensemble Festival in the Fall, and the Ribbon Festival in the Spring, and what we call “Syllabus Evaluations.” “Syllabus” is a lesson plan. So the OMTA has put together a lesson plan, much like taking children through the first three grades, we take them through levels of syllabus. And then every Spring we have a teacher from another area, who has been trained to adjudicate, and they come and listen to the students and give us [the teachers] feedback about their progress. It’s a way for the parents to know that their children are learning what they need to know to progress in the world of music, and it’s also sort of a check on the teachers, so that after all the students have played, then [I] go in and talk to the adjudicator, and she will say “Well, everything looks good, but maybe your kids could use more work on sight reading,” or “Maybe your kids need more ear training.” So she tries to find places where you might improve your teaching. And often they bring ideas, or games, or methods of teaching something that really help. It just keeps everybody sort of on task.

TYG-GD: Are you an adjudicator?
No, I’m not. I’ve been asked to do it a number of times, but I have so many students that at this point I couldn’t do it. If I get to the point where I don’t have to have so many students at home, then I might be able to do that. I also go to Florence two days a week, so that takes quite a bit of time with the travel back and forth. And then twice a year, the OMTA teachers put on what we call “The Spotlight On The Teachers Concert.” We do it in the Fall, and in the Spring. Last year and this year, our winter concert was a Broadway review, and that’s what we’re working up towards right now. And last year and this year, the funds that are profit from [those concerts] will actually go to the Performing Arts Center’s Capital Campaign for their acoustic improvements, etc., that they’re trying to do at the Performing Arts Center [in Newport, OR]. 

TYG: Are you saying you don’t get any of the profits?
No, the profits never go to any of the individuals who perform. We all perform as a benefit. In the fall and winter recitals, until the last couple of years,  [the profits] go to fund our scholarship fund. We have a scholarship fund through the Lincoln County district of OMTA, and students who need to supplement the cost of tuition in order to continue in lessons are put on the scholarship fund. So that’s our primary way of funding it, through recitals; although in the past few years we’ve gotten some really nice donations that have kept us afloat. Generally, for that fund, it isn’t often that a student gets full tuition. It’s usually more like, “Dad’s not working right now, so we can’t pay that much—could we pay a little less?” and we just supplement. The teacher also has to discount their price in order to put them on.

TYG: Back a little ways… Are the adjudicators usually mean, snappy people, or are they more people like you?
Jessica: [laughter]
They’re more people like me. The whole point as far as the student is concerned is to give them a positive experience. So usually the adjudicators are very, very supportive, and give you lots of compliments, and… 

TYG: Like you.
Yes. They’re much more like me. I’m actually the Syllabus chairperson, and […] maybe twice since I’ve been Syllabus chair—which is almost since I’ve been here—we’ve had adjudicators which were not appropriate for our district, and we don’t have them come back, ever. So, most of the adjudicators—especially these days—are very much trained to be supportive. […] It’s a positive experience. No mean adjudicators allowed. [laughter]

TYG-GD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I really love being here in Lincoln County, and I feel like this community, this coastal community—which in my mind, extends from Newport […] down to Florence—is a wonderful place to have musicians and get good family support for musicianship, etc. For a couple of years I wasn’t doing my preschool program, and I’m really glad that’s happening again. I’m actually going once a month into the Yachats Youth and Family Program at the Preschool there, just to give them a little enrichment there […].

TYG: You should come to the YYFAP program too!
The problem with the after-school programs is that that’s when I am teaching piano. That’s when my work day starts in earnest. So it’s really hard for me to do anything with the after school programs.

TYG: If you could do that, there are a lot of really talented musical kids in that program.
I used to do that—I used to go and spend a whole afternoon over there. But I just don’t have that much time anymore.

TYG-GD: How late do your lessons go in the evening?
I’m usually teaching until about 8.

TYG: Who goes here at 8?
Older kids, teenagers, some people who can drive themselves. I also teach before school. I only have one student now who comes before school, but I used to have students nearly every morning. It usually works out well for students who are involved with other activities in their after-school time. If they dance, if they’re involved in soccer, that kind of thing—you don’t usually have soccer practice before school. For years, I had a lot of kids that came right before they went to school. […] I teach my preschool program at “It’s A New Day,” in Waldport. That’s where I go every week, and I have two classes going there right now: I have a keyboard class, and a Polly Panda class.

TYG: I might be interested in that keyboard class!
That class is just for children five to seven years old, or four and a half to six year olds. It’s group lessons, and they will stay together as a group for an indefinite period, and then move on to private lessons. I have done group lessons for older students, but again, now that I have enough private lessons, I don’t do those anymore. 

TYG: I’m just wondering if I could also help show stuff. Since I’m a kid, I might be able to relate to them… […] give them guidance on how to play their pieces better, from my own experience.
Well, that’s what we all do. That’s what teaching is about: sharing what we have learned. And that’s what I really enjoy.

TYG: […] What exactly does your profession entail? What is it like, teaching piano?
Well, what is it like… I like what I do for a number of reasons. One is that, kind of like your Mom, I need a lot of time by myself. And I am a person who is introverted enough that I don’t like teaching in large groups. Classroom teaching would make me crazy. Directing a choir would make me crazy. Being in a room with 45 people for hours, rehearsing, is just not something I would like to do. I like small groups of people, and individuals. And one of the most challenging and interesting things about teaching piano is that I get a different person in front of me every 30 or 45 minutes. Every person that I teach has their own style of learning and their own style of playing. And so I get a lot of changes; it’s not boring, because every person is different, and my role as a teacher is to approach students that way. […] The advantage of teaching privately is that we can move at the speed of the student—some students move quite quickly, and other students need a lot of time, or they have a lot more activities and they’re not going to devote as much time to piano. I am what I term a mainstream teacher. In other words, I’m not elitist. I’m not looking only for students who are going to major in piano. I want all people to develop a love and a joy for music. I take students even if they’re busy, and they’re not practicing as much as they should. As long as they are getting something out of it and progressing, at a rate I can discern [laughter], it’s ok with me as long as it’s ok with the parents. I try to work closely with parents, and talk to them about what their goal is, whether we’re doing what they want their child to do, because everybody has different values, and different things that are important to them. Some people want their kids to learn church hymns, and some families want them just to have fun, and other families want them to learn everything. So I try to be flexible, and yet give everybody a good musical education.

TYG: Thank you so much for your time!
Thank you!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 30, February 1 2014


TYG had the privilege of interviewing long-time Yachats resident Lester Hall, on the occasion of his 103rd birthday, along with his daughter, Shari.

TYG: What was it like growing up in Oregon?
Lester: I think it's about as good a state in the union as there is to grow up in. It's got everything -- all kinds of temperatures…. I used to live in eastern Oregon. Lord, it got down to 40 below once! I tell you, I hated that. But here, this is a great place to grow up.  I've always lived in Oregon, all my life. But I've lived all over. You know where Shaniko is? Antelope? Maupin? You know that country?
TYG-Editorial Ass't: We haven't been there. We've seen it on the map. But we're planning some travel.
Lester: I was born [near] Mariel. We lived down on the Rogue River. Not many people. [chuckles]  My Dad had a pack train that carried freight. From West Fork to Mariel, 20 miles -- a pack train of mules.  Six mules. They even moved a piano -- from West Fork to Mariel. My uncle was a piano player, and a fiddle player -- they had dances on Saturday nights. Man, could he ever play! Little guy -- five foot two!

[…] There was nothing there, not even a school. We had to move to Powers to put the kids all in school. Eleven of us. So we did pretty well. They had the post office, and stores and everything. I loved Powers. It was a clean little town. You knew every soul. Everybody was so friendly.

TYG-EA: What caused you to move to this area?
Lester: My brother had a meat market, and he wanted me to come work with him. I'd been working in the sawmill for a year or so. I come to Waldport in '29. I rode out the Depression. Terrible.
TYG-EA: What was that like?
Lester: Oh, boy. Nobody had nothing. I worked for my brother -- I did fine. I did all the buying and the butchering. And when I left him, he had to hire two guys to take my place. [laughs]

Shari: They had Hall's IGA, which is where Clark's was in Waldport, and now it's closed up, off 101.... He quit high school and worked for a couple years. […] Tell him about carrying groceries on the beach, Dad.
Lester: Oh, yeah. I ran a meat route down the coast, every Tuesday and Friday. Beef and pork. By truck. Model T Ford. I had to drive on the beach. Waldport to Yachats. […] I never had any problems. My brother decided to take the meat route -- he turned [the truck] over, out on the beach. Had the waves coming over him. And the old mailman come by, he had those big tires -- and he started to leave, but he heard somebody groan. "Oh! There's somebody under there!" And he got that sudden wave, and he pulled that pickup off, and saved his life.

Shari: Oh, the other thing you did, didn't you deliver across the old railroad trestles, across the bay?
TYG: Oh! I've seen the supports for that bridge! It's not there anymore!
Lester: No, it's gone! I'd drive that all the time. A couple times a week.

TYG: What did you think your future would be like when you first moved here?
Lester: You know what? I worked for my brother, but he made a slave out of me! [laughter] I was talking to the Toledo banker -- "How much longer you going to work for your brother?" "Well, I don't have any money." "You got anything you want?" "Yeah, I'd like to buy [a certain piece of property]." "Tomorrow you'll know that it's for sale." And sure enough, It happened.

TYG-EA: What did you do with it?
Lester: Raised cattle. It paid for itself.

TYG: What was it like living in Yachats when you first moved here?
Lester: Not too many people here. Real friendly. Everybody knew everybody. And they helped everybody. One time they had a big windstorm, and blew the roof off my barn, and I had a bunch of hay. All the neighbors came and hauled it to another barn. Worked around the clock. That's the way it was then, everybody helped everybody.

Shari: They had a wonderful life here in the Yachats River. Grange Hall was active, they had square dances every Saturday night, the old fashioned thing where they played the fiddle, and kids came. I have fond memories of that -- Mom and Dad were great dancers. Polka. And everybody would stop and watch them dance. And Leonard Carson, and Dawsons, and all were young farmers, just like Dad, on this river. Now we've seen how many generations. We had a rodeo right here in Yachats, do you know all about that?
TYG: No!
Shari: Right where Judy Kaufmann's place is….

Lester: I was a deputy sheriff. Five of us. One time there was four kids got lost, so they sent all of us out looking for 'em. And you know, we found them -- in a hollow stump. They'd put up the night in this hollow stump.
TYG-EA: Where were they?
Lester: In the Bayview country. Beaver Creek. Over in that area.

TYG-EA: Do you still tend the farm yourself?
Lester: Oh, yeah. I got John Bachelor -- he's good. He's smart. He can do anything. And he loves it here.
Shari: He [Lester] is still in on decision making. Very much in on decision making. This is the first year he hasn't fed the cows every day. That's a daily thing, early in the morning, and you have to throw bails.
Lester: I can't walk very far. I run out of gas.

[Discussion of the photo by Ken Gagne, taken at Lester's birthday last year]
Lester: Yep, I've still got those cows.
Shari: He fell down right after that, and that cow kicked him in the head! And he said, "Where's my cane?" He wanted to hit the cow in the head! [laughter]
Lester: Well, it happened! That cow hit me in the back and knocked me onto my belly -- only that far from a big cow turd! [more laughter]

Shari: You used to say that whenever you were stressed, you'd go down and walk amongst the cows, and everything's right with the world.
Lester: Oh yeah. I'd drive the pickup down amongst the cattle. Those calves come up and lick on your door. And man, talk about a stress reliever. They were so entertaining.

TYG: What did you like to do when you were a kid?
Lester: I always had saddle horses, as far back as I can remember. I learned to ride when I was only eight. I was a good rider at eight years old. You ever rode a horse?
TYG: Yes, I have! I used to take lessons.
Lester: Is that right? Well, well, well!
Shari: We learned by… learning how to hang on. [chuckles]

TYG-EA: What are some of the things you remember best from when you were ten or eleven?
Lester: I had a lot of brothers. They worked together, they taught me a lot. I could do most anything, when I was eleven years old.

When I was eleven years old I hired out on a hay truck. Had a team of horses, and I did the loading. I'll never forget one time the boss said, "Turn down here." "No," I said, "it'll turn over!" "When did you take over this farm? Turn down here!" I turned down, and over she went. Full load of hay. "I should have listened to that kid!" [general laughter]
Shari: Didn't you have to go out and gather herbs and things, for your grandmother to make medicines? The Indians?
Lester: Oh, yeah. She was a great old gal. She was smart. She made a lot of medicines.
Shari: Here's her picture. [shows black-and-white photograph] There is a plaque to her at the graveyard down there in Agness.

TYG-EA: Is she American Indian?
Shari: Yes. Well, part -- she's not total. She looks total, but she's not. 
Lester: She could weave baskets you could carry water in.
Shari: She has some baskets in the Smithsonian.

TYG-EA: What do you find the most surprising about the changes that you've seen in the world?
Lester: Pretty slow change, you know. You adjust to it. And that's what happens to me. I never get stressed. What the hell -- I think too much about life to get stressed.

TYG-EA: Have you ever traveled outside of Oregon?
Lester: Never.

TYG-EA: Never once?
Lester: Oh, California.
Shari: And Washington. He's been to visit us in Seattle once. He said, "Why should you travel when you've got heaven right here."

TYG: Thank you so much for your time!


In the first part of this interview (Issue 29), The Yachats Gazette was fortunate to be led on a tour of the NOAA research vessel Rainier. Here is the 2nd half, alas much abridged.

CDR Brennan: We have about 55 people on board, and we carry life rafts for more than double that. […] They’re basically the size of a family tent, so you can imagine 25 people huddled in them—it’s not very pleasant.

TYG-Graphic Design: What’s that bike there ? [pointing to a rather rusty-looking older model bicycle]
CDR Brennan: That’s one of our yard bikes. We carry it with us because a lot of times if we go into a port, like up in Alaska or something, we don’t have cars with us. So just to get around town, we have a number of ship’s bikes.

TYG-GD: And what are [those satellite dishes] for?
CDR Brennan: One of those is a [maritime] VSAT and the other is our TV system. The VSAT system is our satellite communications—even when we’re underway, we get full internet access on board the ship, which has been a huge thing. It seems very luxurious as well, but in reality, what we do with this data [from the mapping]… to have the ability to transfer data off and to get fixes to software on board, and to show people the issues we’re having with data, whatever—to have that form of communication is tremendous. It’s a real necessity. Not to say that people don’t use it to do Facebook or something else, but it’s more than that.

[We move up to G Deck, typically called the Flying Bridge. A Deck is at the very bottom of the ship.]
CDR Brennan: Here is where we would typically have what we call our “Big Eyes”—and they’re just a gigantic set of binoculars, […] and it’s for long-range spying. You know, like if we’re looking at birds, or to try and figure out the name of a ship that we see off on the horizon…

TYG: Why not just contact them wirelessly?
CDR Brennan: Well, we can do that, but sometimes you may be calling them, and you may say “Calling the ship in position latitude this, longitude that, in approximate position 30 miles southeast of […] Newport, this is NOAA ship Rainier”… and nothing comes back. Unless you call them by name, they won’t answer you. So sometimes it’s just a helpful way. Now we’ve also got a system called AIS, it’s the Automated Identification System and it has a transponder and it sends the ships’ names out, so that’s very helpful. But a lot of the small fishing boats, like these guys, they don’t all carry it yet.

[F Deck is also where they flash Morse code, and the magnetic compass. We move on down the ladders, so-called because they’re too vertical to be called properly stairs]
CDR Brennan: This is what we call a davit, here. Normally this would hold another launch [boat]. […] You can see that this is a giant pivot here, and this is a pin, so this whole thing pivots up and out and over the water—that 30-foot boat gets lifted out and over and down.

TYG: How do you get into the boat once it’s in the water? Or do you man it first?
CDR Brennan: […] It gets lowered over the side, and then you can see that next deck down there—the crew will be waiting down there and board. […] Then they would man their lines and then it would get lowered into the water. We typically do that underway doing about three knots. That’s probably one of the most dangerous, but also one of the most exciting evolutions that we do, and we do that every day.

TYG: What’s the top speed of these small boats?
CDR Brennan: These boats can do about 25 to 28 knots.

TYG: What’s the top speed of the main boat?   
CDR Brennan: The ship only does 11 knots, lively. […] This one is another of our boats. It’s a skiff, only 18 feet. […] [We see a third kind of boat with a very shallow draft and of very thick metal construction sitting on deck] In order to support the mapping, we have to put tide gauges in [… and] a GPS base station in to measure the GPS atmospheric errors. And so we have to typically go ashore, and some of the places where we go ashore it can be very rocky and we need a shallow-draft vessel [only about a foot of draft] and a rugged vessel. We can actually just run this up onto the beach and not have to worry about the rocks too, too much—we have to tilt the engine up. But basically it’s just like a giant pick-up truck. So we’ll load all the tide gear stuff in the back, and run it onto the beach and set it up. […] Frequently we’ll have five people plus gear in this boat going ashore so it’s usually a heavily weighted boat. Plus the boat itself is very heavy. When you look at a boat this size that you see on trailers, they’re made out of aircraft aluminum that’s measured in millimeters—the aluminum on this is a quarter inch thick. […]

TYG: May we board her?
CDR Brennan: I don’t have a good way for you to get in right now, but if you like I could take you into one of these launches—they’re a little more exciting.

TYG: Oh, yes please! You’re very generous, Sir.
CDR Brennan: This is not on the general tour, I can tell you that!

[We climb up and out onto a metal grate gangway, take care to avoid the tripping hazards that are pointed out to us, and we board the launch that’s hanging mid-air]

TYG: What’s the lower deck of the ship [launch] for, and how do you even get there?
CDR Brennan: These are not very glamorous boats, obviously work boats [opens a hatch that leads below deck into a workroom and a tiny attached toilet room …]. Basically this is where we acquire all of the data—these are the work horses. Frequently what we do is the ship will just anchor in some harbor, and we’ll act as the mother ship. The four launches will go out and survey, and come back at the end of the day.

TYG-GD: Is everybody certified to be a pilot?
CDR Brennan: No. No, they’re not. Keeping people qualified to drive these boats is a full-time job. We have people moving on, or transferring out… These [launches] are fairly unique and they take a lot of skill to drive. Typically, we’re telling them to go into places where most people do not go, because that’s what we’re trying to find: where are all the dangers? So they’re going into the dangerous spots so that they know what’s there, so other people don’t have to. [The pilots] have to be very skilled to go and do that. The boat itself is probably close to a million dollars, and then there’s probably another million dollars or so of electronics on board, when you look at the sonar, and this commercial navigation system; there’s a whole series of accelerometers that help it navigate both with GPS and inertial range. […] This boat would be ready to go with very little preparation. We’d have to get guys on board, they would do a quick engine check before we get underway, and they would do a systems check of all our electronics and load it with drinks and goodies, snacks for the day, and get the crew on board, and you’d be ready to go. That’s typically what we do in the morning: have a safety brief every morning, and talk about what the dangers might be, whether it’s weather or sea conditions or working in shallow water, or something like that.

[We disembark and go back down to D Deck and see another type of launch, and then move on to a rather torpedo-looking object attached to a pole at the side of the ship near the back]

CDR Brennan: Remember that machine in the plot room where I was talking to you about sound velocity? It controls this machine here. See this device here that looks like a torpedo? There’s a sensor in that. And do you remember talking about all the particles in the water? Well ultimately, what the sound velocity relies upon mostly is the temperature and the salinity. Those are the two drivers that drive the sound velocity through the water. So that measures the conductivity, which is directly related to the salinity and the temperature. It also has a pressure sensor on it, because as the pressure increases, so does the sound velocity. So it measures those three things, and we basically tow this behind the ship, kind of like a giant fishing lure. […] Typically a fishing pole has a button on it that you can release that allows the line to pay out. This operates kind of on the same philosophy as that. So basically we troll it back behind the ship, maybe about 100 meters out, then when it comes time to take a cast—this thing is very heavy, it’s solid bronze, and probably weighs about 80 lbs—so you just release the brake on it. It doesn’t just free flow out; the drum here on the winch actually feeds the cable out the back so this is allowed to basically free fall straight to the sea floor. So it will get within about ten percent of the water depth, and then the brake is applied. When the brake is applied, it’ll start to come back up. So the whole time it’s free-falling, it’s recording data: conductivity, temperature, and pressure, which gets converted into depth.

TYG-GD: This isn’t a bungee cord, is it?
CDR Brennan: It looks like a bungee cord, but it’s actually a Kevlar cable with a co-axial conductor that runs through the center. So this stuff on the outer side is just a nylon sheathing that’s abrasion-resistant. So [this machine] is in constant communication with the plot room—we can see it the whole time, and get health updates on it and make sure it’s sending data. For the ship, this is an incredible device, because otherwise, the way that these launches have to do that, they have to stop and lower a device over the side by hand and then bring it in. So if the ship had to do that… it takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on how deep the water is there to do [a cast], so you can imagine that […] you’d lose about 3 or 4 hours a day depending on depth just to do sound velocity casts.

[We continue to explore the ship, getting to see the dive prep room, the steering gear with the rudder attachments, the weight room and hardware storage, the computer servers, and the crew mess hall. We finally get to see the Officers’ mess hall, where we approach the large Arctic map on the wall]
CDR Brennan: […] Alaska is where most of the un-surveyed areas that we have in our inventory [the United States’ inventory] still lie. When you look at the area that we are responsible for, it’s significant; most of that area that remains either un-surveyed or without modern survey techniques lies in Alaska. Either it was covered in ice, or there’s no population, no need; a lot of our survey efforts go to the 40 militarily and economically significant ports throughout the US, most of which are in the south. This ship and the Fairweather have basically surveyed the entire coast between Seward and the Canadian border—45 years just for that, [plus] Prince William sound, Kachemak Bay where Homer is, Cook Inlet. These are all what we would say are the easy areas. Now where we’ve been surveying is out here—the Shumagin Islands—the areas we surveyed this year, there were [previously] no soundings at all.

TYG-GD: I’ve heard of several recent earthquakes in Alaska—where are those? 
CDR Brennan: Oh, a lot of the ones you’ve been seeing are probably from around here on Adak and Dutch [Harbor], but this one had some steaming going on this summer and there were a couple of earthquakes—we were right here, and could see it.

TYG-GD: Oh, so there are a lot of volcanoes?
CDR Brennan: Oh, all the way along. When you sail through here, there’s just volcano, volcano, volcano. There’s Veniaminof, Pavlof [these were volcanoes where they had been surveying].

TYG-GD: So what happens when there’s and earthquake and you’re on the ship? Nothing at all?
CDR Brennan: Well, that depends. If that earthquake causes some sort of a landslide… there’s basically a shelf that runs along here, and if an earthquake caused a large portion of that to slide, it would definitely create a tsunami. And if that tsunami came in and we were near shore, it could definitely be very problematic. And that happened! We came in here at Cape Spencer, started coming down through Chatham Strait, and we got word that an earthquake had happened on Queen Charlotte Island or something, and we headed off shore until we got confirmation that no tsunami had happened.

TYG-GD: How far out do U. S. waters extend?
CDR Brennan: 200 [miles] is our exclusive economic zone, from the seaward-most point. […] There’s a new law out now, put out by the United Nations that says [that] if you can show that there is continental shelf area that extends beyond that 200 nautical miles, your government can lay claim to that area as part of your sovereign territory. So we’ve been doing a lot of surveying up here [in the Arctic Ocean], because the Chukchi Calf [?] extends way beyond into the Arctic Ocean.    […] So we think we can make a claim north into the Arctic Ocean that’s significantly farther than what we currently own. […]       

TYG: Thank you so much, Sir!
CDR Brennan: Certainly!